Underneath my yellow skin

Category Archives: Topical Politics

Resistance and Art in the Time of Fascism

I’m still reeling from what happened in Charlottesville, especially since this president is still ‘both sides’ing the situation. He came out with a statement denouncing the KKK, but had to throw in ‘other hate groups’, and it was clear he was only saying it because he felt he had to. It shouldn’t take two days to say, “Fascism and white supremacy have no place in America. We will not tolerate Nazis in this country”, but that’s where we are right now. He got a lot of pushback for his lukewarm statement, tweeted his temper tantrum at being told it wasn’t good enough, and had a meltdown yesterday in which he said there are good guys in on the white supremacy side, honestly, and the ‘alt-left’ is just as bad as the ‘alt-right’.

I mean.

WHAT???

I’m not surprised. I have to say that up front because this is who he is. Many of us minorities knew this from the very beginning, which is why we weren’t willing to ‘just give him a chance’. We didn’t need time to know he’s a racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-Semitic fuck, but if anyone had any doubt, his words yesterday should put that illusion to rest.

In addition, he’s a narcissistic, vindictive, petty man who can’t see anyone other than himself, and everything is about him. 24/7. Of course he had to make it about him because he’s incapable of doing otherwise. Of course he wasn’t going to denounce the white supremacist because he believes the same things they do. His grandfather was a slum landlord who did not want to rent to black people, and it’s clear the apple does not fall far from the tree. This president has said racist things time and time again about people of many different ethnicities, and he has white nationalists on his staff for fuck’s sake.

In other words, he’s no friend of minorities, and we’ve known that even before he ever ran for president. This is my way of saying while it’s disheartening that this president refused to full-throatedly denounce white supremacists, it’s not surprising in the least.

I was off Twitter for about twenty minutes when he made his announcement, and when I returned, I had a TL full of anger, disbelief, pain, and fear. This president had just signaled to his base–and, let’s be clear. His base are racist fuckers–that he is with them 100%. It was so appallingly bad, even Republicans were moved to denounce his message, albeit not directly to him. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan subtweeted the president saying that white supremacy is unacceptable. I said, “OK. What are you going to do about it?” Because words don’t mean shit if you don’t back it up with actions.

I think it’s really hard to explain to white non-Jewish people, even really supportive liberals, how exhausting it is to be a minority in this president’s America. Waking up every day, wondering how else he’s going to hate on me and my kin, it’s more than my brain–and heart–can take. I saw so many of my Twitter family in pain, and it broke my heart. I tweeted a message to them because I’m a caregiver even if I’m also cantankerous and a misanthrope, and I’ll post the beginning of the thread here.


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Struggling Against the Darkness

no need to memorialize.
This is the hill they’re willing to die on.

If you’re an American (and even if you’re not), you’re probably aware of what happened in Charlottesville, Virginia over the weekend. A bunch of whiny titty ass babies gathered with their store-bought tiki (Polynesian) torches on the U.Va. campus in the middle of the night while the students weren’t even there, ostensibly to protest the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue, but in reality to get their Nazi/Confederacy/white supremacy cosplay on. Before I get into this heated topic, I’m forewarning you that this is going to be even more stream-of-conscious than normal, and I’m going to go to some pretty dark places. I don’t normally write when my feelings are this raw, but I need to sort through my emotions, and I do it best while writing.

When I saw the pictures of the rally on Friday night, my instinct was to sneer at how pathetic they looked. All these young white men (and they were overwhelmingly men, gee, I wonder why) shouting vile slogans, their face contorted in hatred. They were holding their tiki torches, and it’s not a coincidence that they looked like a lynch mob, and I know I was supposed to be terrified, but all I felt was disgust and contempt.

If it weren’t for the fact that they could (and did) cause irreparable harm, I would just laugh in their goddamn faces. They think they’re so powerful and patriotic, but they’re just a pathetic, whiny mess. They can’t even make their own fucking torches for fuck’s sake! That’s part of the problem, though. They feel powerless and that their lives are a waste, but instead of taking stock of their inner flaws as to why that might be, they blindly seek out others to blame for their shortcomings.

Quick side note: This is one of the downsides to toxic masculinity. If you’re not at the top of the heap, then you’re a failure as a man. If you’re a failure, that’s the worst thing in the world and unbearable, so it’s easier to say it’s someone else’s fault.

I took Saturday off from social media as is my wont, and when I returned Sunday morning, I heard about the murder by car of Heather Heyer by one of the fascist assholes. I heard that the stupid rally raged for days with increasing violence directed at the protesters. I saw some media and politicians ‘both sides’ the situation, and it made my blood boil. Hell, I saw our fucking president say that ‘many sides’ were to blame, but not once did he say Nazi or white supremacists.

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Patience, Grasshopper

I forgot I was taking Wednesday off social media and immediately checked my mentions and notifications when I woke up. When I remembered, I stopped. I hadn’t looked at my FB feed or Twitter TL, and I don’t plan on doing that today. I feel bad about it, but in my defense, I’m discombobulated by my parents’ visit.

Speaking of which, one of my biggest pet peeves is being talked at the second I wake up. This is an ongoing issue with my parents. They’ve been up for hours (usually) by the time I get up, and they have a list of things they NEED to discuss with me the SECOND I wake up. As I mentioned in my previous post, one of my favorite things about living alone is that I don’t actually have to talk to people most of the time. I work at home, so I don’t have coworkers, either. I don’t sleep well, either, so I’m usually groggy when I wake up. I feed Shadow his breakfast (which he didn’t care for this morning. Probably because it’s a day old and had been in the fridge. This is a new pet peeve of his); I smoke half a cigarette; I do my taiji routine. After that, I start on my big vat of Coke Zero (sob, we didn’t have enough time together), and I slowly start feeling like a human being.

After an hour or so, I can do any communications I need to do as long as they’re electronic. To actually talk to people in real life, I need at least two hours of silence. I’m not saying this is a good thing, nor am I saying it’s optimal. I realize I’m privileged because I can set this schedule for myself on a regular basis. That said, I hate having questions pelted at me the second I walk in the vicinity of my parents. Not only haven’t I had the time to wake up yet, my brain isn’t yet functioning. It’s yawning and grumbling and slowly stretching its metaphorical arms.

I’ve given up coffee for several reasons, one being that as I get older, it’s harder on my stomach. The downside is that I don’t get the boost drinking coffee gives you. I love my Coke Zero (noooooo don’t gooooooooooo), but it’s just not the same. I’m sure there’s nearly an equivalent amount of caffeine, but it doesn’t kick in the same way. I want a punch to the gut, which coffee delivers. Coke Zero (why, Coca-Cola, why???) is more like an ivy drip with its steady stream of caffeine.


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If You Can’t Say Anything Nice

If you can’t say anything good about someone, sit right here by me.

–Alice Roosevelt Longworth*

Conventional wisdom says if you don’t have anything nice to say about someone, you shouldn’t say anything at all. Most of us don’t live by this creed, but it rears its head more strongly when that person is terminally ill or has just died.

I bring this up because Senator John McCain is battling brain cancer, and he interrupted his recovery to rush back to DC to vote on whether or not the Senate should proceed with a vote on the nonexistent Obamacare repeal and replace bill. There’s a lot of insider baseball as to why this is appalling, but suffice to say, many people were not pleased about this. Several people pointed out the irony of a man who enjoys a lifetime of luxury health insurance paid for by the taxpayers rushing off his death bed to champion the right to take away health insurance from millions of Americans, and it did not go over well in certain sectors. Namely, old school media.

Let me preface by saying I wasn’t jubilant when I found out McCain had brain cancer. It made sense because he had appeared so befuddled at an earlier confirmation session (can’t remember which one. Sorry), and I thought it might be dementia. I was sad for him and wished him well, but it didn’t change my basic feelings about him–he’s a contrarian who enjoys acting all mavericky until push comes to shove, and then he votes with his party more often than not. In addition, he’s a petty man who really couldn’t handle losing to Obama in 2008, and he never got over it. I wrote about him many years ago, and my feelings about him haven’t changed.

When he gave a speech that journalists jizzed over, but then voted for the procedure to continue, anyway, there were some people (all white dudes. Not a judgment–just an observation) who said to wait and see. They thought McCain would eventually do the right thing in the end, that he really was just voting for procedure. Later that night, he voted yes on the repeal and replace bill, which didn’t surprise me one whit.

McCain is a craven politician, and he’s not been kind to vets among other people. He gives good interview, and he’s relatable to a certain portion of the population (again, white dudes), so they give him an endless benefit of the doubt. The journalists miss swinging on the tire swing with him, which is another reason they’re so soft on him. Not to mention the brain cancer thing. There was a woman on Twitter, an editor at BuzzFeed, I think, who scolded people for saying mean things about McCain. You can probably guess the response she got to her tweet.


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Salt and Sanctuary: A Bit Salty; A Bit Sweet, Part III

on my way to the blackest vault.
Going DOOOOOWN!

Ed Note: This is part three (and hopefully last) of my Salt and Sanctuary review. As you can tell, I have a lot to say about it. You can read part two here

I uninstalled Salt and Sanctuary last night. I didn’t want to play it any longer, but I found myself thinking, “I’ll just play a few minutes” only to look up and the sun is rising. I’m two-thirds of the way through my melee playthrough, so I feel I can comment on the differences between playing as a mage and playing as a tank. By the way, when I say tank, I mean still being able to fast/medium roll. I watched playthroughs of people clunking their way through the game, barely being able to roll or not rolling at all, and no thank you–especially as I still am not using a shield. I tried, but I still find it awkward. Also, it was useless against the boss I was having a shit-ton of trouble with–more on her in a bit–because she can drain your stamina in a blink. If you’re going to block, you can’t roll and dodge at the same time, and I couldn’t remember that in the heat of the battle.

My tank is leveled higher at this point than my caster was by the end of the game, and I still can’t wear my paladin armor without fat-rolling. I’m not happy about that, and it’s part of my dissatisfaction with the stats-leveling in general. As I mentioned before, you have to level everything up separately, and I’m sure that’s a common thing for a certain genre of games, but it’s horseshit. Light armor and heavy armor are separate tree branches, for example, which meant I couldn’t wear most of the light armor, even though I could wear some heavy armor. Currently, my tank character is rocking the Iron Butterfly VI and the Seawolf Cutlass VI. One is a  Class 3 Greataxe, and the other is a Class 3 Greatsword. Now, in Dark Souls, all I’d have to do is level up strength to probably thirty or forty, and I’d be able to wield both of these weapons*. In S&S, I have to level up each category separately up to the Class 3 in order to use them. And, it’s not just….

OK. Quick primer on the leveling up system. You have to use Black Pearls to level up your stats. You get a Black Pearl every time you level up in general, and you can find a few in the wild. If I want to level up swords, for example. I have to get to the Class 1 Swordfighter node from the nodes I had at the start of the game as a Paladin (spending Black Pearls on varying stats along the way), and then spend one Black Pearl on Class 1 Swordfighter. Then, you have to traverse up the branch again, buying other stats, until you reach Class 2 Swordfighter. You have to spend 2 Black Pearls for a Class 2 node, and so on up to 5 for Class 5. I had to do this with two different branches as I wanted to wield both greathammers/greataxes and greatswords. There are Gray Pearls that allow you to remove a skill, but not many. It’s hard to explain, and it’s confusing to use at the start. I figured it out pretty quickly, but I still didn’t like it. Souls games are known for their obtuse and unintuitive leveling systems, but I much prefer them to the Tree of Skill.

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Vying for the Stupidest Man Alive

Just when I think this president and his posse couldn’t get any stupider, they prove me wrong. Again. Amidst all the accusations of collusion with Russia to influence the 2016 election, Junior released an email chain that revealed how he was expecting to meet with a Russian government attorney who had damaging information about Clinton that would expose her or some such*.

::double headdesk::

The sheer stupidity of it had me at a loss for word, which is highly unusual for me. All the frantic denial by this president and his people, and Junior casually tweets out the emails like it ain’t no big thing. Independent journalist, Jared Yates Sexton, went on a Twitter rant about how he’s been chasing this story for a year, and then Junior just went and told on himself. Sexton was just as dumbfounded as I was, though he said it much more eloquently. My favorite tweet is this:

Maybe it’s because I’m a big fan of ellipses to indicate incredulity, but it neatly sums up the ‘what the fuck just happened’ feeling that all rational people experienced when reading about this hot mess.

I will say, though, this tweet made me laugh:

How can you not go a bit crazy after reading what Junior did? Normal people don’t willingly put the noose around their own necks or their father’s. Now, granted, the NYT was going to publish a piece that contained the same information, so maybe Junior thought a good offense is a good defense, but giving how strenuously the president and his acolytes have been in denying any of this shit happened, it’s astounding that Junior would just give it out for free.

This was my brain’s way of dealing with it:

I tend to joke when I can’t process something, and I’m still reeling over this particular idiocy on the part of Junior. He’s explained that this is how you do things in business which is problem number one. Running the country isn’t the same as running a business, and there are very different rules.

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A Potpourri of Random Thoughts

My brain is feeling rather random right now, so I’m going to go with it rather than fight it. First of all, I tried the left side of the Sword Form today with a fair amount of trepidation in my heart. I haven’t done it in six months, and I was sure it would take me some time to relearn it. I’m having some difficulties with the left side of the Solo Form, though not nearly as much as when I first learned it. I love the Sword Form the most, so it would really discourage me if I had to relearn the whole left side again. I started it with my heart in my mouth, telling myself I’d just do it until I fucked up badly enough to have to start over. That’s another thing about the left side for me. If I mess up, I can’t just go back a posture or two and start over. I have to go back to the beginning or at least several postures back. It’s frustrating, to say the least. I made it all the way through the first half making only one major mistake (which I fixed, sort of), and decided to keep going. I got stuck on one posture early in the second half, struggled through it, then breezed through the rest of it.

When I finished, I felt exhilarated. I made it through the whole left side of the Sword Form with only two noticeable mistakes! That was way better than I thought I’d do, and it was a relief to me that I wouldn’t have to teach it to myself again. It also reminded me how much I love doing the Sword Form, and I should do it every day as I used to. Next up will be something my teacher mentioned in class recently–moving through the form smoothly, using momentum to go from posture to posture. I love the Sword. It is my absolute favorite part of taiji, and I don’t feel like I’m really doing taiji if I’m not practicing it.


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Diversity and Gaming; Progress is Slow

back in black.
Come at me, bro. (SR IV)

I read an article about Anita Sarkeesian being harassed at a panel by Gamer Gaters, and it doesn’t surprise me at all. She’s become a lightning rod for all the problems hidden within the gaming community, and she’s dealt with a ton of harassment, much of it vile. She was targeted from the beginning when she announced that she was going to look at games from a feminist perspective because she loved games. That was it. It was enough to get the haters hating her, and someone made a game that allowed the player to beat up Anita. Before she even had one video, the hatred was intense, and it made me wonder why gamers’ egos were so fucking fragile. When her first video came out, I watched it. It wasn’t terrific, but she had a couple good points. I’ve watched a few more, and I’ve had the same conclusion every time. She makes some good points, but she’s overly broad (ha!) in her assessments. Also, she needs work on her presentation.

That said, there are a ton of problems with game and representation. Not just of women, but of any minority. Ian once asked me why I spent an hour customizing my avatar, for Mass Effect, I believe it was, when I can’t see my character as I play. It’s hard to explain why I do it, and I do it for every game when it’s possible. My favorite avatar is from Saints Row IV because she looks like me if you squint and as long as I keep sunglasses on her. I was so in love with her, I took dozens of pictures. Because of her, I liked the game even more than I normally would. Here’s the thing about representation. It does really fucking matter. Whether it’s movies or books or video games, seeing people like me makes a difference. Being invisible in media is a way of society saying, “You don’t matter. I don’t see you, and I don’t care.” It’s hard to explain if you’ve consistently had representation in media how alienating it is not to see yourself anywhere. I was watching RuPaul’s Drag Race on Netflix, and it would occasionally show an ad for one of its shows. I would say, “It’s white people doing white people thing!” Every fucking ad was predominantly white people. It’s 20 fucking 17, and I will not watch something without people of color in it. It’s really that simple. There is no excuse for it, and it’s just willful at this point.

Back to video games. It’s funny how the assholes bleating about special snowflakes (those of us who want diversity in video games) are the same ones who are upset when, say, Mafia III deals with racism in America. At the last E3 conference, there were three games coming out that I knew would piss off the Gamer Gaters. Gators? Whatever. Far Cry 5, Assassin’s Creed Origins, and Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus. The enemy in the first game is far-right Americans; the second is set in Egypt with mostly non-white characters, and the third is set in America in the sixties, and the leading character of the American resistance in a black woman with a big Afro. The minute I heard about the last game, I tweeted:

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The Hottest of All Takes that are Hot

i have your hot take right here.
The hottest.

There were a few special elections in red districts last night that had the Dems excited, but ended in narrow losses. There was a lot of hype about the elections and the possibility of turning the districts blue. When that didn’t happen, there were the expected hot takes as to what the problem was. Many were along the lines of we need new blood in the party, and the even more predictable worry about the appeal of the Democratic Party to rural white people. This has been the theme of 2016: How the Democratic Party has abandoned rural (read, white) Americans. It’s playing out in Minnesota with the new light rail line being vilified by congresspeople from rural areas, painting it as a benefit to the Twin Cities at the expense of rural people. More than half of our taxes come from just 4 of our 87 counties, and they’re all ‘city’ counties. When the rural counties fall short on what they can pay, guess who picks up the tab? Yet, even in this article which is definitely pro-city, there’s the obligatory ‘both sides do it’ paragraph tossed in at the end.

I’ve written about my weariness with this hot take before, that city people need to stop looking down their noses at the poor, beleaguered country folk. I’m not denying that city people have and will sneer at rural people. People look down on other people; it’s the way of life, sadly. What bothers me is that for the hundreds of hot takes I’ve read (or scanned), scolding urban liberals for overlooking or laughing at rural people, I’ve maybe read four or five stories pointing out that big cities pay way more than they take in and that we’re equally looked down at (if not more so) by county people than the other way around.

We’ve become the punching bag when conservatives (and some rural Dems) want to push for their agendas. Limousine liberals stuck in our salons sipping kale smoothies watching Trevor Noah while talking about how much we hate people who live in the country. Real Americans. The heart of America. The Bible Belt. The salt of the earth kind of people. It’s a lie, and yet, it’s one that has stuck. For whatever reason, it’s fine to laugh at city people and call us special snowflakes while taking our money, but we’re supposed to reach out and ignore their disdain and try to bridge the gap.

I was traveling with my best friend and another friend through the heart of America (this is many years back now), and we stopped at a gas station in Iowa (or Wisconsin. Can’t remember. Very rural, though). All three of us were wearing tank tops, and two of us have tats. One black woman, one white woman, and me. The woman at the counter was rude to all of us, staring daggers at us as we picked out our pops. When I went up to pay, I held out the money, and she took it by the corner so she wouldn’t have any chance of touching me. Then, when she was giving me my change, she dropped it on the counter right in front of my outstretched hand.

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