Call Me English

A little corner of the world where I talk about what I want.

Inauguration Day

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Dear abstaining voters,
The day is here! Today is the day your man Trump takes office and starts filling in some of the many blanks over which I’ve been worrying myself stupid since the night of the election, without exaggeration one of the most frightening nights of my entire life. What’s that, you say? You didn’t vote for Trump? How could he be “your man?” Oh, won’t you allow me to explain…
See, I was never going to change the mind of anyone in my life who was planning to vote for Donald Trump anyway. I was never going to change the mind of anyone who can’t be bothered to learn the difference between socialism and communism. I was never going to change the mind of anyone who finds the echo chamber of social media an appropriate platform on which to gloat over an election result while coining charming political slurs with “tard,” “fag,” and “Jew” stirred into them. I was never going to change the mind of anyone who witnessed Trump’s malignant narcissism, his rampant sexism, his petty need to win, or his pitifully short fuse and STILL thought he belonged in the same breath as Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Roosevelt. And those who put imagined or desired little economic benefits (or their guns!) ahead of things like education, peace, or my rights did not by voting for Trump lose anything of any real value in their lives, just my friendship and my respect.
They’re not really the ones I’m taking an issue with today, however. It’s you.
Trump is lying through his teeth today while uttering that oath of office because of you. There are not enough loyal Democrats or Republicans in this country to outnumber those who do not participate in the process at all. And before you tell me why you didn’t vote, (didn’t have time, had work, the weather was bad, hated both candidates, the system is rigged, making a French bread pizza, and forgot…) allow me to share a little unpleasant reality with you. You don’t get to complain about your loss of health coverage or your employee protections anymore. You can no longer say you’re a supporter of LGBT rights or the rights of women or the rights of non-white people. Inequality is greater because of you. News is faker and more poisonous because of you. The world is less safe, the environment less healthy, and the economy less stable all because of you.
And you WILL be held accountable.
Although you’re not one of those “change” voters with the memory of a goldfish or a “temporarily embarrassed millionaire” who has to touch the stove more than once before he understands that it’s hot, you still saw and heard everything there was to see and hear about Trump and didn’t vote. The details were everywhere; they were unavoidable. Your apathy, your cynicism, your selfishness all came together at the right moment and led to a thorough and unquestionable repudiation of my values, the values my family raised me with. It’s impossible for me not to take that personally.
What you will need to do to make it up to me and to make it up to those other poor liberal bastards in your life who don’t even recognize their country anymore let alone feel welcome or secure in it is educate yourself and observe. Observe every single thing that Trump, his team, his fans, and his appointees do, and act when ANYONE is threatened. Write out your own beliefs on the issues the nation and the world face. Get your news from at least three different sources, every single day. (Real sources, please.) And then just close your eyes and hope to whatever or whomever you believe in that there will still be a midterm election or even an America for you to vote in by the time November 6, 2018 rolls around.

Written by Dave

January 20, 2017 at 12:02

Posted in complaining, Politics

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Not in my backyard…

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One wonderful highlight of January 1, 2017 was the opening of the long awaited Second Avenue Subway, as finally, after the better part of a century, a second subway line has come to the east side of Manhattan.

The MTA really did an excellent job despite years of noise, construction, blasting, and hassle. The stations are spacious and clean, quiet and bright, and the art in each of them is classy, memorable, and evokes feelings about New York.

So I was really deeply disappointed to read opinions online from some in the area complaining about noise and vibration from the new stations, noise and vibrations that we have not heard or felt here DIRECTLY ABOVE the line. I’m terribly sorry that despite the $4.4 billion price tag, engineers were unable to defy the laws of physics and make a silent train. It’s this sort of NIMBY indignation that explains why we had to wait so long for decent transit in this part of the city. People should be grateful that their commutes are likely going to get easier or shorter. There’s no way that anything they may be hearing or feeling can possibly be worse than what they put up with for years during the excavation and construction.

Whiny brats.

Written by Dave

January 2, 2017 at 22:50

Rest in pieces, 2016

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2017 is just now underway here in New York.

As Robert Burns asked us, “Should auld acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind?” Yes. Ask no more questions.

One last reminder…

3 Percenters seizure of the Malheur NWR, Flint tap water contamination, the Gage Park stabbings, the Ohio machete attack, Brexit, the Kalamazoo shootings, the Hesston office attack, the resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan, stalling on Merrick Garland, the Elizabethkingia meningoseptica outbreak, the Palmetto derailment, Zika virus, “religious freedom” right to discriminate laws, Russia being Russia, The Pike County shootings, the Appling shootings, the bathroom bill, the Harambe incident, the Brock Turner scandal, the Lahore Easter bombing, Texas and Oklahoma flooding, the Istanbul airport attack, the UCLA shooting, the Pulse nightclub massacre, UN Security Council resolution 2334, West Virginia flooding, the Alton Sterling incident, the Philando Castile shooting, the Dallas sniper, the Clinton email affair, the Nice attack, the Bahamas travel warning for the United States, EgyptAir Flight 804, the Baton Rouge police shootings, the Karlov assassination, the Austin hot air balloon crash, Ellicott City floods, southern Louisiana flooding, North Korea being North Korea, the release of John Hinckley, the failed Turkish coup, the Seaside Park and Chelsea bombings, the St. Cloud stabbings, the Charlotte shooting and protests, the Brussels bombings, the Arcan Cetin shootings, Armenian-Azerbaijani clashes, every single televised debate, the JASTA veto, the Hoboken train crash, Judge Roy Moore still being a thing, Hurricane Matthew, the DNC hack, the “by the pussy” tape, the Galaxy Note 7 recall, the Dyn DDoS attack, James Comey’s fantastic timing, the Ouagadougou coffee shop attack, Anthony Weiner’s lack of any kind of self-control, the United States presidential election, Trump University, Standing Rock police actions, the Chattanooga bus crash, the Panama Papers, the Ohio State University butcher knife attack, presidential contact with Taiwan, the Rousseff impeachment, the Walter Scott mistrial, “high confidence” in Russian influence on the election to help Trump win, the Berlin Christmas market attack, the Yahoo data breach, the Chapecoense plane crash, the Alexandrov Ensemble plane crash, Apple’s “courage” to remove the headphone jack, hoverboard fires, all of Syria, Lochtegate, Colin Kaepernick making his indignation all about him, tonight’s Reina nightclub attack, and the deaths of David Bowie, Dan Haggerty, Abe Vigoda, Joe Alaskey, Antonin Scalia, George Gaynes, Boutros Boutros-Ghali, Umberto Eco, Harper Lee, Andy Bathgate, George Kennedy, Bud Collins, Nancy Reagan, Joe Garagiola, Prince, Ken Howard, Garry Shandling, Patty Duke, Doris Roberts, Chyna, Morley Safer, Muhammad Ali, Kimbo Slice, Christina Grimmie, Gordie Howe, ALF, Ann Morgan Guilbert, Jo Cox, Attrell Cordes, Anton Yelchin, Bernie Worrell, Pat Summitt, Elie Wiesel, Garry Marshall, Miss Cleo, David Huddleston, Pete Fountain, Barry Jenner, John Saunders, Glenn Yarbrough, Ruby Wilson, Kenny Baker, Fyvush Finkel, John McLaughlin, Arthur Hiller, Jack Riley, Steven Hill, Juan Gabriel, Gene Wilder, Jon Polito, The Lady Chablis, Alexis Arquette, Edward Albee, W. P. Kinsella, Buckwheat Zydeco, Bill Nunn, Arnold Palmer, Shimon Peres, Kevin Meaney, Jean-Jacques Perrey, Leonard Cohen, Janet Reno, Robert Vaughn, Gwen Ifill, Andrew Sachs, Florence Henderson, Fidel Castro, Greg Lake, John Glenn, Alan Thicke, Craig Sager, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Piers Sellers, Joey Boots, George Michael, Carrie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds, and William Christopher among many others.

Okay, that’s it. No more mention of any of that.

Goodbye forever, 2016. Here’s hoping that 2017 is a reminder that we are all human beings and should all treat each other as such.

Written by Dave

January 1, 2017 at 00:49

Posted in complaining, General

Tagged with , , , ,

President Trump

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I really don’t even know what to say. I scrapped much longer remarks expecting a wholly different result tonight.

The truth is I am absolutely terrified. I have never been so terrified in my entire life, and I want nothing more than to leave this retrograde country as quickly as possible, a dangerous country that could somehow put a reality TV bully with cartoonishly poor impulse control in charge of a nuclear arsenal on a platform of hating people who are different simply because “at least he’s not a corrupt insider.” Are this rage and this vile bigotry really who we are as a people?

There is no place for me, for my partner, or for my family in a country as hateful as this one.

When your home tells you it doesn’t want you anymore, what other way is there to feel than like less of a human being?

I have never been more thankful for my Canadian citizenship than I am right now. All I learned tonight is that America was never great.

Written by Dave

November 9, 2016 at 02:39

September 11

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I can’t believe fifteen years have gone by since that day, since the deadliest and costliest single terrorist attack of its kind on non-military targets in the history of the world, since cowardly and murderous heretics decided senseless chaos and indiscriminate killing were the only ways to redemption. I can’t believe people born after the attack are in high school now. I can’t believe there are people voting in this upcoming election, where we are still dealing with the divisive ramifications of terrorism and national security, who may be too young to remember when this event even happened.

And I know many probably mean well when they brandish the flag and loudly tell us all to “never forget.” In reality, though, what almost all people saying “never forget” need to do is… STOP.

Stop saying “never forget.”

If you are not an actual victim of this attack, if you are not the relative or friend or colleague of someone who is or was a victim of this attack, if you didn’t spend hours or days after the attack struggling to make contact with everyone you knew from the four fateful flights or from the New York or Washington areas where these murders actually occurred to be certain everyone was accounted for, please stop saying “never forget.”

You have nothing to forget.

Those this profound tragedy directly touched would like nothing more than to forget, and yet how could they ever?

Everyone in the world with access to media on September 11, 2001 shared the experience of watching with utter confusion after the first plane, American Airlines Flight 11, impacted the North Tower.

“Oh, no. That looks awful. Maybe a news helicopter lost control or something.”

Everyone in the world stood and screamed and swore aloud when they saw the second plane, United Airlines Flight 175 – a nearly fully fueled Boeing 767-200 aircraft with registration number N612UA, hurtling over Staten Island and plowing into the façade of the South Tower at nearly 600 miles per hour (950 km/h).

That initial dose of almost cinematic dystopia, along with perhaps giving blood to help victims that never emerged from the rubble, digging out an old American flag to display out front, and being glued to cable news coverage for the next year, two years, fifteen years… that’s about where the shared elements of this event end.

Answering the question of “Where were you when you first found out about the attacks?” with a sheepish “I had just finished wrecking the toilet at the Starbucks in the strip mall down the street from my house” eternally disqualifies you from telling anyone never to forget. The best thing someone like that can do is keep quiet. Keep quiet and step aside and allow those whose lives really were permanently altered by this crime to do the best they can to get through this day for one more year.

The last thing the surviving victims, families, friends, and colleagues need is to be reminded of the senseless, violent, and painful manner in which their loved ones died. The last thing they need is to be bombarded on traditional media and social media with 9/11 specials and 9/11 retrospectives and, perhaps tackiest and most heartbreaking of all, 9/11 sales. (Shame on that former mattress store in Texas for ever even considering such a thing. I hope the responsible parties never earn another dollar.) Why can’t people express their respect for the losses of others by giving them space? Why can’t people honor a terrible day by doing something other than making it about themselves?

The September 11 attacks weren’t perpetrated against the suburbs or against middle America or against capitalism or against “our freedom.” They were committed against visible symbols of American hegemony abroad by the brainwashed followers of a morally bankrupt group of lunatics who wanted nothing more than to get the attention of our government. It was never meant to be a rallying cry for those who’d been longing to score political points against “others” for decades.

There is no need to say “never forget” because how could anyone involved ever forget? I just wish the people who’ve been shouting “never forget” for the last fifteen years could say with confidence that they have ever learned.

Written by Dave

September 11, 2016 at 12:35

The scourge, the cancer, of politics

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I always knew in the back of my mind that I wouldn’t be able to post here as much as I wanted. Work, life, sleep, and reality all come between my brain and this blog. Even despite all those distractions, I still love coming back and sharing my thoughts. I just have to accept and own any gap of time between posts.

What I do have a problem with, however, is how politics has so saturated our lives in this disgrace of an election cycle that it feels like there is nothing else to talk about. Politics is everywhere. Politics is divisive. Politics is tiresome, frustrating, and pointless. It rips families and friendships apart. It turns words like “compromise” and “disagreement” into displays of weakness. It is among the worst of human traits.

And it’s inescapable.

The truth is I had not planned to avoid the topic altogether. I believe in being very transparent about who I am, about what my values are, and that includes going into detail about my personal political views and what experiences I have had in my life that have informed them. I even began to post about these views one by one until life interfered. However, when you combine the relative infrequency with which I have been able to post with the relentless, nauseating coverage of this election and all its gaffes and finger-pointing and angry tweets and the occasional cold-blooded gun massacre, it has left me wanting to hide with my fingers in my ears in a fort made of pillows.

As days pass and we think not about whom we want to vote FOR but rather whom we want to vote AGAINST, whom we need to make sure stays out of office, I get to wondering if this is really the best we can do. As a world superpower almost in spite of ourselves, what we do and how we do it comes under everyone’s scrutiny the whole world over. A country that likes to pat itself on the back for how great it thinks it is and that makes a sport of “exporting democracy” to the areas of the world it self-righteously deems most in need can’t run an election without mud, without pitting relatives and friends against each other, without fighting a cold “civil” war over issues on which there will never be any true agreement.

The truth is this is not one nation, no matter how often politicians of both major political parties may say otherwise. E pluribus unum – “Out of many (things), one (thing)” – is nothing more than a rhetorical device used to force unity among several very different groups at a time when it was expedient to do so. We are maybe six or seven different nations, culturally speaking, divided by things like education, religious adherence, whether we live in cities, and whether we have an actual desire (not just a stated one) to help our fellow citizens. I wish I didn’t have to share a country with the people who espouse views that turn my stomach and make my skin crawl, but I do, and I have to make sure I am a reason people end up in political office who either change the minds of those who would take us back to the awful “good old days” or, at the very least, render their views and the hypocritical, bullying noise they spew on TV and the internet not even a little bit relevant.

My life is at stake here. All our lives are.

So until the election is over and perhaps even after, no matter what I may talk about or think about, politics will always be on my mind. I will think of it every time I get a news alert on my phone. I will think of it every time I ride the subway on my way to work. I will think of it when I foolishly dip my toes once again into the degenerate echo chamber of social media where the stubborn, sanctimonious, spineless, and stupid have a platform to spread their poison like never before. I will think of it when I wring my hands wondering what to do about a friend who almost proudly announced recently that he was intent on cutting out of his life those who believe in a lot of what I believe in. I may even still be thinking of it as I look for a place to live in Canada.

This cancer can’t be gone soon enough.

Written by Dave

July 31, 2016 at 10:52

Independence Day

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I can’t make any apologies for the fact that real life has gotten in the way, as I knew it would, over the last several weeks and prevented me from posting in this space with the frequency I always intend. As much as I enjoy writing and sharing my thoughts, real life and work must come first.

And it’s not like the news has been silent during this time. Everywhere you look, it’s been one deadly terrorist attack after another, one political gaffe after another, and Brexit, the dreadfully misguided and xenophobic “Dear John” letter from the United Kingdom to the rest of the European Union that pissed on the world economy for no reason and proved for posterity that dimwitted, uninformed voters aren’t just confined to one country.

So where’s the positive in any of this? How can we take an occasion like the Fourth of July when people in this country like to dress in the colors of Old Glory and loudly proclaim how great America is and how if you don’t like it, you can get out?

The way to do it, the way to get past negative news of any kind, is to focus on the society we live in, the cities, countries, and planet we call home as merely works in progress. This is a world and a life that, naturally, will be filled with steps forward and steps back, but no steps back can undo the fact that time goes on and we all have much to celebrate and much to fix.

Our world is a work in progress, and WE are the ones expected to deliver the results. However, we must be doing something right because immigrants have over the centuries and even to the current day risked their lives and livelihoods to make better existences for themselves and their families in countries of opportunity and liberty like this one.

I always think of “The New Colossus,” Emma Lazarus’s 1883 sonnet to raise money for the construction of the Statue of Liberty’s pedestal and now inscribed forever within it:

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”