Whitewashing May Be Real But It’s Not Nearly as Common as Twitter Would Have Us Believe.

Most of us probably have a Facebook account but the degree to which you use your account says a lot about you as a person. I very rarely look at my feed and use it solely as a way to keep in touch with distant friends. There are better ways but we’re somewhat set in our ways as we’ve been doing it for years. Therefor one can be assured that I’m a fairly intelligent and motivated person in general!

The average Boomer, however, lives in a triggered rage as he furiously reposts bitter, objectively insane content for all of his “friends” (actually people he resents). With every glass of Jim Beam, his antics grow more frenzied and nonsensical. He starts to send direct messages to people, hoping to find somebody to argue with at 3AM on a Wednesday. Life’s been pretty boring since he retired from the paint chip manufactory.

People like this paint the world in a pretty dismal picture but I am ever optimistic. I maintain that Facebook Boomers and Twitter Fascists still represent a tiny, tiny minority of the world’s population. Most of the people I know are incredibly intelligent and open minded about contrary opinions, it’s just that the bad interactions we have stick out more in our memories.

For example I watched a movie on Netflix called The Outsider a couple of days ago. I’m behind the times; it came out in 2018 so I missed all of the controversy surrounding it by a little bit. I rather enjoyed it so I went online to look up more information about the film. If you haven’t seen it, it’s basically about a former American soldier who winds up in prison in postwar Japan and joins the Yakuza when he gets out.

Obviously the far left were going to object to this film. In their circles, discovering racism is a contest not an actual pursuit of truth. I only saw one line of tweets before I closed my browser but it was enough to make me roll my eyes hard. Something about “obvious whitewashing”… a bizarre claim. In a story about a white man joining a Japanese crime family and all of the trouble that comes with that, how could it make sense if he were anything other than white? People were complaining that an Asian man wasn’t cast in the role and I have to assume that they didn’t even see the movie because that is such an incomprehensible thing to argue about this plot. Like I said, they just found out that a movie about Japan was being released so they had to find a reason that it was racist.

Take The Last Samurai as another example (and one frequently cited as a case of whitewashing). The central focus of the entire plot is how western intervention in the 19th century disrupted Japan’s society and government. How could this movie not have white actors playing leading roles? It strikes me that the people who complain about things like this often do so before movies are even released and thus don’t actually have any clue what they’re talking about. They see “China” and “Matt Damon” and figure “holy shit they cast Matt Damon to play Emperor Yang, those racists.”

Perhaps white people should only make romantic comedies about how much money we have and how we all stand around the office water cooler laughing about the extent to which we’re fucking over all of the black people in the warehouse. Then Bradley Cooper can have an epiphany in the films 3rd act where he falls in love with a black truck driver and realizes, yes, it (because assigning a gender would be sexist) is actually a human being!

It would just fix everything.

The Undistilled Cosmic Dread that is Shaye St. John

Susan, how old are the diet drops I took from under the dirty part of the sink? What do you mean those weren’t Hollywood Diet Drops?

I discovered Shaye St. John around 2011 which was sadly already after her/its creator Eric Fournier had died from complications due to alcoholism. My friends and I rapidly digested everything we could find from the artist before learning that he’d passed. Even as recently as 2011, it wasn’t as easy to find information on someone like Shaye. These days, when one person discovers something, it’s immediately indexed on Google, ad revenue is assigned, and a Wikipedia page is created by hyper-sentient AI robots.

Desperate to know more, I purchased Fournier’s sole material work, “The Triggers Compilation”. It was a DVD (remember those) of short videos about Shaye St. John and her… mental states… which still aren’t available even on YouTube. I still have it somewhere but as I built my current PC to rely on flash media, I have no way of playing it.

Comedy-Horror That is at the Same Time Neither Funny nor Scary but Also the Extreme of Both…

How can one accurately describe Shaye St. John? It’s difficult, no doubt. Equal parts surreal comedy that would make Tim & Eric gasp and a kind of unspoken horror that filmmakers spend their lives trying to achieve, I almost believed that Shaye St. John could have been a real person. It was too strange, spontaneous, and inexplicably creepy to be an act. But it was an act. An act by a seemingly brilliant artist who was content to simply publish random YouTube shorts during the golden years of YouTube; before everyone on the platform was trying to pursue it as a career and churning out reams of vanilla, safe content designed to appeal to advertisers, the alt-right, and the alt-left.

Most people I’ve shown his/her (depending whether we’re talking about the artist or the character) videos to are far more terrified than amused, but in a way that they can’t describe. It’s “weird” and they feel “creeped out” but they can’t say why. I mean, if you watch one of the videos it’s obvious why, but not in a way that can be easily put into words that accurately make sense of it.

Shaye could be described as once successful model or actress who now lives in the most apocalyptic version of rural Florida. The official lore is that she was disfigured in an accident. Her body was replaced with pieces of a mannequin and she always wears a mask complete with dead, unblinking eyes. Her best friend is a doll which either has psychic powers or Shaye herself unknowingly manipulates the doll with her own abilities. But at the same time… none of this matters when watching Shaye St. John.

YouTube Dot Com Slash…

I’ll refrain from posting any links here; things like Shaye St. John are much better discovered on one’s own. Fortunately, it’s far easier to find in 2020 than it was in 2011.

Current Reads – July

I’m using a planner again!

The COVID hair continues.

Not only that but I’m actually forcing myself to get everything in it done every day before I go to sleep. That’s the part that’s actually difficult. I can write to-do lists all day; there’s no end of plans in the works. So, one of the things I put in my planner every day is to write for ten or fifteen minutes. Once I get that down I might increase it to something more substantial but it’s enough time to feel like I’ve done something. It may translate into more frequent posts.

When I wrote yesterday’s post, I was struck by the idea that if I can’t talk about what my opinions currently are (because I don’t know), I can write about what I’m doing to learn about the topics that interest me!

Thus, here is the first of what I hope to be a monthly series (just shot myself in the foot by writing that) on my current reads. I’ve been interested in politics and economics for the last month or so and my list will reflect that heavily. My apologies to those of you who loathe politics! I’m not completely insane though, so I do have some books I’m reading purely for enjoyment.

One final note: none of the links I provide here are affiliate links. If you choose to purchase these books, I won’t see a cent and I’m okay with that.

The Populist’s Guide to 2020
Krystal Ball & Saagar Enjeti

The Populist's Guide to 2020.

I was introduced to these two through Joe Rogan’s Podcast, which I highly recommend to any and all people. He has a very wide range of guests covering every topic imaginable. There’s something there for everybody. Anyway… Ball and Enjeti are the hosts of a political show called Rising which seeks to be an actually honest place where you get both left-ish and right-ish perspectives on current events. It’s not unbiased- nothing is. It’s more digestible though because they’re not cramming hatred and fear down your throat for an hour.

The book reflects their personal views in that both the liberal and conservative movements in America have completely failed and need to be done away with. I’ve just begun reading it so I’m not going to try to give it more of a synopsis than that. People like Ball and Enjeti are part of the complex system of stimuli that snapped me out of my ultra-left, Trump needs to go to prison haze and let me accept that some1 conservatives are actually human beings that I can have conversations with that don’t end in bloodshed.

Buy the book here.

The Myth of Mental Illness
Thomas Szasz

I believe I’ve written about this book before but I just haven’t been reading that much over the last few months until now. It’s an old book (1974) so some of its ideas may have been updated or outright replaced by newer ideas (although depending on who you ask, some of the newer ideas in psychology are outright bullshit) but, in general, the idea behind it resonated with me.

Szasz basic premise is that psychiatry is far too quick to label every discovered divergence in human behavior to an illness, whether for financial resources that are available to new studies or to reinforce particular ideologies. Homosexuality used to be considered a mental illness and now homophobia is starting to be labeled as a mental illness. Are either of those beliefs true? It’s objectively impossible to know in today’s scientific climate.

I’ve always felt (important to note here that a feeling is different than a belief) that we were far too quick to assign labels to phenomena in an effort to make somebody a victim and thus in a certain class of people to whom no questions can be raised lest you be an oppressor. This book seems to support that feeling but I’ve of course read others such as The Blueprint which tend toward the opposite belief, that everything we do, say, and become is genetic and free will is a comfortable quilt sewn with lies (Sam Harris applauds wildly).

Buy the book here.

The Brothers Karamazov
Fyodor Dostoevsky

After the harrowing journey I undertook while reading Crime & Punishment, one would be justified in asking why the hell I would ever read another Dostoevsky book.

I hear this one is better.

There’s more emotion driving it so far and far less chapters-long wrangling over socialism and capitalism.2 I have a long way to go in this book and to be perfectly honest I only bought it because it’s green and I needed it as a decoration that would fit the color scheme of one of my shelves. Take that, literature!

Buy it here. (not the exact copy I have but I can’t be arsed to search that hard)

And so…

I’ve purchased more books this month but as I’ve yet to actually begin reading them, I’d feel a little pretentious attempting to talk about them. If you have any recommendations, feel free to mention them in the comments below! I’ll read anything once, which I think I’ve made obvious.

1 Don’t get me wrong there are just as many batshit insane Republicans as there are batshit insane Democrats out there.
2 If you’re wondering, I’m an ardent capitalist but I see the value in socialism… I simply think that if you actually propose socialism as a valid framework for economic and social policy, you haven’t had nearly enough experience with other human beings.

DoorDash

I’ve eaten a lot of food via DoorDash during COVID lockdown. A lot.

Yet somehow, despite ordering once a day for a time, I’ve actually managed to save up an incredible amount of money. Perhaps it’s due to being stuck at home and not impulse buying things at stores. It could also be because even though I ordered DoorDash every day, I only ate once a day opposed to ordering out multiple times a day, thanks to the Adderall diet.

Today was a bit of an adventure though and it brought out a bit of my vengeful side. I ordered a taco entree from the local Terrible Midwestern Mexican Restaurant and when my Dasher (we’ll call him Joel because that’s what doordash claims his name is) arrived he presented me with a lettuce box full of food.

Those of you who have never worked in a restaurant or grocery store might not know what a lettuce box is which would really limit your ability to see how befuddled I was as he stood their with his arms outstretched so I have included a photo for your records.

Picture this full of terrible Mexican food and we’re on the same page.

So anyway Joel, a boy tiny in both physique and demeanor, squeaked that he must have given my order to the wrong customer. Immediately my overactive mind attempted to puzzle out why you would accept a bag with one entree in it when you knew full well that you ordered $300 worth of catering but I let Joel go back to try to get my food even though I knew how this story was going to end.

He came back five minutes later and said that “Tia” had eaten my food. Of course she did. She probably shoveled it down her fat, gaping neck as fast as she could so she could finish it before you figured out your error and returned. She knew she was still getting her order.

I can’t really be mad at Joel. He looked like he was a few weeks shy of 12 years old and I’ve been a delivery driver myself; I know that accidents happen, especially when you’re obviously new at the job.

I do wish I had Tia’s address though.

Two Years

Yesterday was 2 years sober for me. I didn’t notice because of the bizarre passage of time we’re all experiencing in lockdown mode. Better late than never though. I don’t have anything profound to say about it other than my life is better now than I could have ever hoped for and it continues to get better. I’ve already written tons of posts on sobriety and addiction in the past so there’s no need for me to rehash any of that.

I guess the one insight I could give is that sobriety doesn’t mean anything is fixed on its own. I’m still antisocial, afraid of the world, and a hardcore procrastinator. But sober I have a chance to beat those things and some days I do. It’s not a battle where one day you win and you’re done… it’s a daily series of choices. Some days I have the energy to make the right choice and some days I don’t.

It was worth it.

Plague Masquerade

My mother lovingly crafted the most hideous masks for our family out of flannel and cotton. They’re surely about as effective a disease resistance tool as wrapping a shirt around your head, but it’s really just to keep her calm. I took it out for its first spin today to get some grocery essentials.

I was a little anxious to wear something so laughably pointless but was reassured as I pulled into the (packed) parking lot of the supermarket and saw that I actually possessed one of the better crafted masks. Thanks, Mom!

Surely most people are only wearing masks for show. We know that dust masks don’t do anything against a virus but if it makes people around us feel safe, it’s not a huge concession.

There were a few people there who obstinately refused to wear a mask and they fit the stereotype you surely have in your head: fat, old white men with American flag shirts and dirt-caked jeans. Every crisis the country faces pulls us further and further from that idealistic belief that there’s no such thing as white trash and poor folk are just as intelligent and streetwise as the rest of us. Utter bullshit. (I should clarify that what I mean by “poor folk” doesn’t necessarily mean people living in poverty. It’s more of a lifestyle and mindset than an economic status in my lexicon. There are poor people who simply haven’t found the means to move up in life yet but eventually will)

I was even checked out by a few attractive women while there. Well, at least their eyes and figures were attractive, I couldn’t see the rest. Same goes for me though. Maybe I should conceal half my face more often! The poor access to food combined with loss of appetite from Adderall has given me quite an athletic figure, myself. Haha.

I took my brother with me because he’s been itching to get out of the house. He can’t drive as he lost his license due to his DUI’s. I knew that he’d be buying liquor before we even left but it still saddened me to see. He’s gone weeks without it during lockdown so far. That just goes to show you though… when an alcoholic can’t drink, it doesn’t mean they’re recovering. Nobody has a problem quitting when they don’t have access to alcohol. I never did. Once I got money again or got back from vacation… whatever the reason… I went straight to the liquor store.

Not my business, though. The early-recovery me who was passionate about addiction and sobriety is long gone. I only care about myself as far as that is concerned. I’ve been let down too many times by people I had tried to help and I don’t mean for that to sound dramatic or melancholic… I simply don’t care anymore. It doesn’t even really bug me when they die.

Anyway that was a bit off topic. Was there a topic? I don’t know. Masks I guess. Wear masks, God dammit. If only to make people feel safe.

Why Everyone Should Avoid Social Media

What was once lauded as a way to connect to new friends all over the planet has become an inescapable scourge that is actually destroying mankind.

Many of us here on the Internet are older; we remember fondly the delucive techno gold rush of the late nineties and early twenty-first century. When everybody under thirty had their own website, or at the very least a Livejournal or Geocities landing page. Many of us made lifelong friends on the information superhighway. To this day, I’ve never met many of my oldest friends face-to-face and yet they know more about me than anyone I know on the physical plane.

Change is inevitable and all promising developments are eventually tainted by greed, unchecked ambition, and the general stupidity of the masses. These days the Internet is a useless churn of advertisements, moronic egotism, and bald faced lies. We’ve been headed in this direction for a decade but until recently I was able to trumpet the unoriginal “but at its core, the Internet is still useful” mantra spread by my deluded futurist compatriots. Every year it gets more difficult to repeat that line with a straight face, at least not without feeling a little sick to my stomach.

As an information technology professional, I’m torn. I can obviously still see the promise of long-range, unbridled communication, but I feel that in my middle-age, I know too much of the world to believe that anything positive can come out of it. I’m not an anti-Capitalist and I don’t begrudge people their expensive toys but it’s disheartening that for all of humanity’s progress and innovation, all we have to show for it is six new models of cellphone a year, endless subscription services for things that used to be free, and an ever-growing tidal wave of social anxiety and depression. Eventually this monstrous wave of illness and hatred will crash against the shore. You don’t need to be a psychiatrist to know how catastrophic it will be.

I firmly believe that social networks are the rotten core at the heart of our disease. We went from a civilization in which most people focused on their day to day lives, cared for their families, and did their job to one in which even the most vapid ignoramus believes that their opinion is not only valid and true, but needs to be known by every man, woman, and child in the world.

I understand the irony in writing that sentence on a social network.

When society course-corrects in order to solve a systemic problem, it often overcompensates in a big way. We have countless examples from history of this happening. Fascism, communism… even democracy is an imperfect, hastily thrown together reaction to constitutional monarchy. We humans aren’t known for our logical reactions. My fear is that in responding to what I essentially call toxic freedom (I will write more on this in the future though I imagine it will offend many of my more progressive readers), we will plunge ourselves into the worst tyranny any of us has ever heard of.

So what can be done? Well, if history is any indication, nothing. Most of us are simply too stupid and too lazy to be relied on to do the right thing when it counts. My instinctual reaction is always to murder anybody who vehemently disagrees with me but that’s hardly rational or measured. When the whole world is sick all we can really do is ensure that we are better than the chaff. Educate yourself, keep reaching for positions of prestige and responsibility so that you can distance yourself from the writhing mess of gnashing teeth below.

One thing is for certain: none of the world’s most respected people give a shit about Facebook.

Nihilistic Mystics, Apistolic Alcoholics

Today’s post is brought to you by my rediscovery of the fact that you can format your posts to make them more legible. You’re welcome, internet.

Personal Life

I was a bit of a bad boy this weekend. I’ve really gotten into a game called Satisfactory in which you build supply and logistic chains while exploring an alien world and turning its natural resources into toilet paper. A strange mix of themes, to be sure, but it really strokes the perfectionist and organization junkie within me.

So I played. A lot. But that was the weekend, now it’s time to be a big boy again.

Work

I woke up early today despite not sleeping much but I feel pretty good and have been very productive. All of my schoolwork for the week is finished (my weeks end on Monday) and I’ve still been working from home… likely through most, if not all, of May. Sometimes I forget that I have a job. I feel unemployed but I know I’m one of the lucky ones in the US still getting a consistent paycheck.

Podcast

Still waiting for my damn microphone to arrive. As far as I know it hasn’t even shipped yet; the store is still waiting for it to come in. I emailed the sales rep last week to ask if I could exchange the USB mic I ordered with the XLR version since I have a swanky new audio interface now but he never responded. Maybe I should call… but a USB mic wouldn’t be so bad… it’d be more portable in case I ever needed to record on the road or started doing interviews.

Music (about which it turns out I have a lot to say today)

Music has still been a point of stress for me. Art is hard. That’s probably a fact that everyone who’s ever tried to make something they’re proud of has discovered. Part of me knows I just need to persevere and finish any song, just to get the practice in… but once I start I end up going down endless segues in which I try to make the most rhythmically and tonally complex music I can muster… even though I’m really not skilled enough to be trying that yet. I spent 2 hours on Friday editing the sound of a woman screaming to try to turn it into a keyboard melody. Haha! Stuff like that is why I never get anywhere.

I am learning and getting better, though. Hell, 2 months ago I didn’t really even know what a chord was. I thought I did. But now I have many major chords memorized and even a few minor ones. I know the formula you follow to make a major and minor chord so, in practice, I could actually play any major or minor chord. I know what inversions are when I didn’t even know they existed last year. I can play two full pop songs on the piano when a month ago I could barely play Jingle Bells.

These are the things I need to remember whenever I feel like I’m not good enough or have no talent. Talent isn’t real… it’s really just perseverance, and in no small part, luck. Think about how many musicians there have been in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries (so far) and how many of them actually work full time as musicians and are known by the general public. It’s not even close to 1% of the total! That’s true of any art, though, not just music. The same could be said for writers, painters… even speakers are artists and some of the dumbest and un-gifted speakers who have ever lived are world famous right now.

Why do some people get famous and others don’t? Partly hard work, that is an important thing to note because so many audiophiles believe this self-aggrandizing lie that pop musicians are talentless hacks who just record corporate music. It’s BS and anyone who says that understands nothing about music. It’s also partly having the right people discover their work at the right time. Now, I’m not trying to be famous but I would like to make some money off of my art one day. If that happened I probably still wouldn’t be happy and would just set my sights on the next “unachievable” goal, lol. But that’s who I am.

Da Blog

I’ve been using Skillshare a lot during the lockdown (if I was a professional level-99 blogger this is where I’d put in an affiliate link) and right now I’m watching a course on blogging. It’s quite good… one of those situations where it’s nothing you don’t already know on some level but having it presented in a thoughtful way reveals a few new things to you. I have some ideas on how to start doing things a little bit better. A little at a time…

If you’ve been keeping up with the progression of my Ultra-Exciting Blog Progression(TM), you’ll know that I self-hosted another blog at snarebox.com. It’s only a blog due to the fact that it runs on WordPress (which I suppose is a content management system, not specifically a blog), in reality it’s just the web-home of my music project. There likely won’t be a lot of writing on it but I will be sure to post here whenever something is added. I haven’t even finished the design yet so there isn’t much reason to go there yet.

Have you noticed that every Theme out there is like 80% of exactly what you’re looking for but nothing ever hits that last 20%? Perhaps I need to learn how to edit Themes.

Anyway that’s me for Monday. I caught up on most of your blogs this morning, you likely noticed me liking 3 or 4 of your posts at once… haha. You guys write a lot, I could have sworn I only missed 2 days!

2nd Sound Design Project

The second project for Andrew Huang’s production masterclass is sound design which I am super excited about because this is the one part of electronic music that is imperative that you’re good at and also coincidentally what I am terrible at. Already learned a lot! Only the first step is done… we recorded some sounds around the house with whatever we had. I just have my phone right now until my microphone arrives but it actually did a pretty good job at recording sounds without having too much background room noise to clean up.

This is basically what I did on Saturday.

So, here’s my attempt! Like I said this is just the very first part of the project and it’ll get developed a lot more over the next couple of weeks. We weren’t even really supposed to add melodies or a bassline yet but I couldn’t help myself, I was feeling the beat too much. I’m not happy with the snare but that’s the best one I could get out of the sounds I recorded. Might do another session and just clap my hands or something. Lol.

The audio was recorded on a free voice recording app from the Android Play store. All of the samples were edited, cleaned up, and sexified in Ableton Live 10 and the arrangement and synths were done in Reason 11 (which I impulse bought last night for $600).

Hope you like it! If you do listen, please leave a comment below and let me know what you thought.

As an aside, I did end up making a seperate page for my music. I will still be posting everything on this blog, but my music site will strictly be for my music and things I write about music, just so potential fans don’t have to read about my depression and laziness. Haha! It’s not done yet, but here’s the URL, feel free to check out what I have so far. I’m obviously customizing it a lot more than I ever have this page so it’s going to take longer.

Recovery

I don’t know what I’m doing here.

No matter how many times I resolve to get my act together regarding my writing, I still just end up writing one of two things: what I think people want to read or an emotional off-the-cuff rant that no solitary soul in the world could possibly care about.

It’s not a traffic / monetization / followers thing. I want to write material that I’m proud of and that builds my skill. Writing stream of consciousness tirades doesn’t involve any talent whatsoever. Furthering my laziness even more lately has been the Covid lockdown. I normally write at 7am at my office right before work starts. Since I only work one day a week now, I haven’t written anything in days and even then it was a pretty half-hearted attempt.

You just have to force yourself to do it, though. Right? Either I’ll find the spirit to push past my emotional roadblock that keeps me from doing earnest work or I’ll never be much of a writer. Every day the latter wins a bit more.