There are two Americas, and one of them is stupid

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I was doing some online searching for a friend with whom I worked a long time ago, so I put her name into The Facebook to see if she was around. A woman with the same name came up in the search results. She was about the same age, listed as “retired,” and looked somewhat similar to how I imagined my friend to look now that twenty-five years have passed since I saw her last. Perusing this woman’s post soon convinced me this wasn’t the old friend I was looking for. In fact, there was this galling comment on this news story that made my jaw drop. It was on this BBC news story about the Lincoln Memorial being vandalized:

“What more do they want?”

“This is getting ridiculous,” she writes. “Lincoln freed the slaves – what more do they want? Oh I know – to erase America’s history!”

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Conservatives are blind to their own madness

A friend posted this account recently on their social media page:

A friend was standing in line at returns at Home Depot yesterday when the white man in front of him told another man, who was hispanic, he was going to call Trump to come get him. I was horrified and would not be able to keep my mouth shut if I had been confronted by that bigoted white man. Disgust!!!!!

Immediately, one of my friend’s friends, apparently a conservative, piped up with this:

What about freedom of speech? Please explain “HOW” this man is a bigot? It was probably not a nice thing to say, but we do have freedom of speech.

When several others on the thread pointed out how bigoted Conservative Person sounds, Conservative Person wilted from the controversy, claiming loudly “you don’t know me!”
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No one does it alone

Will Rogers on “Trickle Down”

A few weeks ago I was scrolling through my Facebook feed when I saw one of my liberal friends had posted humorist Will Rogers’s famous “trickle down” quote. My friend didn’t offer much (if any) commentary on it other than to post it, and indeed I’ve seen it widely shared. It’s worthy of sharing.

Then I noticed a few comments down that the quote had drawn a dissenting voice. A conservative friend of his took offense at the quote, essentially griping that if people would simply work hard they’d get whatever manna that was coming to them. Conservative Guy then berated Liberal Guy for doing nothing for the country and implied that Liberal Guy wasn’t a true citizen because Conservative Guy served in the military and Liberal Guy did not. It didn’t seem to matter to Conservative Guy that Liberal Guy had worked since he was 16 in a very physically-demanding line of work.
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Men behaving badly and false equivalence

Worst. Grope. Ever.

John Oliver had a wonderful show recently discussing the logical fallacies employed by Donald Trump whenever he’s challenged on his numerous falsehoods. One thing to watch out for (and not just from Trump) is false equivalence.

This has been the season for bringing misogyny into the open. Beginning with Harvey Weinstein, a parade of dumbshit men like Roy Moore, Lewis C.K., Charlie Rose and others have been exposed for their misogynist, sexist, and degrading behavior towards women.

Overall, I say right on. These men abused the trust of the women who looked up to them. Some, like Moore, crossed a moral line (if not a legal one) in chasing teenage girls. The transgressions all have different shades but overall they consist of a man abusing his power or authority over women and/or girls.

This brings us to the case of Sen. Al Franken (D-MN). Franken has been accused by LeeAnn Tweeden of an unwanted sexual advance, saying Franken aggressively kissed her during a rehearsal of a USO sketch they were both doing:

He repeated that actors really need to rehearse everything and that we must practice the kiss. I said ‘OK’ so he would stop badgering me. We did the line leading up to the kiss and then he came at me, put his hand on the back of my head, mashed his lips against mine and aggressively stuck his tongue in my mouth.

I immediately pushed him away with both of my hands against his chest and told him if he ever did that to me again I wouldn’t be so nice about it the next time.

I walked away. All I could think about was getting to a bathroom as fast as possible to rinse the taste of him out of my mouth.

I felt disgusted and violated.

No photos exist of the kiss in question and Franken remembers it differently.

I hated to think that Franken was a scumbag the likes of Moore and Rose. He’s always seemed like a good, upstanding guy, those Minnesota values still strong in him. Over time, though, I had to conclude that this was something different.

According to Tweeden, she and Franken were rehearsing a kiss that was scripted into their sketch. It was no surprise. It was no unwanted advance. They were both acting. This was something they had agreed to do. You can debate the intensity of the kiss, sure, but it was in the script.

Secondly, Franken held no power of Tweeden. He was not her boss nor was her career hanging in the balance if she refused his kiss (which, as I just pointed out, was part of a sketch). In 2006, Franken was a minor celebrity at best. He was a former SNL writer, a bestselling author, and a radio host on Air America, a struggling liberal talk show network. Though I like his SNL work, no one would mistake Franken for a comedy industry titan, able to make or break careers.

Thirdly, let’s take a look at the photograph Tweeden says shows Franken allegedly groping her. Franken is not even touching Tweeden. He couldn’t touch her if he tried because she’s wearing a flak jacket. Tweeden nevertheless claims he did:

I couldn’t believe it. He groped me, without my consent, while I was asleep.

I felt violated all over again. Embarrassed. Belittled. Humiliated.

How dare anyone grab my breasts like this and think it’s funny?

On this USO tour Tweeden has been shown to be open to grabbing, if not being grabbed herself, as a photo of her on stage shows her helping herself to a big ol’ handful of guitarist butt.

Double standard much?

Was Franken’s photo in bad taste? Possibly. Was there any contact? Not according to the photo. It looks to me like everyone got chummy and now that suddenly has become a problem for Tweeden.

It is a false equivalence to compare Franken’s actions with the likes of pedophile Roy Moore or misogynists like Weinstein, Rose, or Louis C.K. For those who want to wag their finger at liberals for allegedly turning a blind eye to Franken’s actions just because he’s a liberal, too, get real! Franken’s alleged misdeeds have been blown totally out of proportion and don’t compare to the actions of the others.

I’m disgusted with bad behavior of Weinstein, Rose, and Louis C.K., who are all liberals, and will freely say so. Not painting Franken with the same brush, though, has nothing to do with liberals protecting our own and everything to do with weighing the evidence.

Red Hat IPO

A red hat


I was thinking about the early days of Red Hat this weekend and the company’s IPO. That got me looking up Red Hat’s S-1 statement which was filed for their IPO. Two things made me laugh:

1. Red Hat all of 125 employees when it went public, and
2. Red Hat actually told investors it was banking on ad revenue from its website!

OUR STRATEGY

We seek to enhance our position as a leading provider of open source software and services by:

– continuing to enhance our Web site to create the definitive online destination for the open source community; [Emphasis mine]

– expanding our professional services capabilities to capture large corporate business on an enterprise basis;

– increasing market acceptance of open source software, particularly through technology alliances and sharing our development efforts and resources with third-party developers;

– continuing to invest in the development of open source technology; and

– enhancing the Red Hat brand through targeted advertising and public relations campaigns.

What makes this even funnier is that the S-1 also lists Google as a Red Hat customer:

Red Hat Customers in 1999

Hmm, where do you think all of that web advertising revenue went?

The company is quite different today than the company that went public in 1999, which seems to have been more smoke and mirrors. I’m glad they finally figured it out because it’s good to still have them around!

Blogging tugs at me again

A teletype keyboard at the Living Computer Museum, Seattle, WAAs I scrolled through Facebook today, I noticed the location on a friend’s post was listed as Hayes, NC. It turns out that Hayes does not exist as a municipality but still appears on maps as it was once a stop on the railroad. That reminded me of the old “Neuse Station” depot that I used to live near and how it, too, shows up in maps as Neuse, NC though there’s nothing really there. I then did a search of my blog for posts including “depot” and turned up a great one I wrote in 2005 when I researched Neuse Station:

It was a day spent working in my yard which ignited my current interest. I took a break from digging a trench to climb up the hill near the tracks. On my way up, I spotted the stump of a sawed-off telephone pole. Nearby was a glass insulator, which led me to discover a long length of telegraph wire.

Curiosity got to me. How old was that wire?

I started putting a picture together from the resources on the Internet. These tracks behind our house are the oldest railroad tracks in North Carolina. They belonged to the Raleigh and Gaston Railroad, which was commissioned in 1834 to build a line from Raleigh to Gaston, where other lines led to Petersburg and Norfolk.

Work was slow and sloppy, but progress was eventually made. The first stop northward was a station called Huntsville. Later this stop became known as Neuse Station. Neuse was located right outside my neighborhood. That makes this spot near my neighborhood the second-oldest depot in the state.

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A witness to #metoo behavior

It was a warm Sunday afternoon in October, 2016.

I’ve just left the Amtrak station in downtown Raleigh. Unable (or too cheap) to call a cab, I drag my overnight back behind as I trudge up Dawson Street toward my home 2 miles away. The rhythm of my pace and the grinding of my bag’s battered wheels along the sidewalk lulls me into a sort of trance.

As I reach the corner of Hargett, I see a rough-looking man approaching. As I’m starting to make room for him on the sidewalk, a woman on a bicycle passes me (safely) from behind. As she passes, the man catcalls her and makes loud, suggestive comments.

In a blink it was over. The man, possibly drunk, stumbles on behind me. The woman, wearing headphones, was immune to his drunken come-ons and was long gone. I pause to think what I should have done or what I might have done.

Had the man been dumb enough to touch that woman I would’ve certainly jumped him. I’m a pretty friendly guy but I don’t like bullying of any sort, yet I was also stunned at what I just heard. It’s 2016. Some men still do this shit? I mean, really? What did this guy hope to accomplish with his clumsy come-ons?

He was clearly a loser and a drunk one at that. She was oblivious and went on with her ride. I continued walking, pondering how the world still needed some work.