We might as well have never crawled from the swamps

Once in a while the people who are privileged like us get a taste of it

I went on the Guardian’s Today in Focus podcast this week to talk about Fox News and Trump if you want to listen to that. Meanwhile please toss a few bucks into the Hell World hat here if you haven’t already and can spare it.

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A reader just told me about a group called Alice’s Kids which is run by a man out of his home in Virginia and what he does is he takes requests from teachers and social workers and others who are aware of the specific struggles children in their care are going through and asks for small donations to help the kids get say new sneakers or money to go on a school trip or to join a sports team or any of the other untold number of minor indignities poorer children suffer through on a daily basis by the tens of millions what a country baby. You can read more about it here in the Washington Post.

Alice’s Kids explain their mission on their site.

Every day, a child goes to school without a winter coat, or wearing sneakers with holes in them or carrying supplies in a paper bag because his backpack was stolen. Another child can’t see properly because her eyeglasses are broken. Others fall behind in class because they can’t afford the assigned books or are habitually late to school for lack of a simple alarm clock.

Teachers, social workers, counselors and charitable organization staff see these situations every day but they are usually not equipped to provide the short-term financial assistance necessary to help those children. These situations may seem inconsequential to many people but not to the child. That’s because going without some of these basic items not only can affect that child’s ability to learn, but it can also seriously impact the child’s self-esteem. We know this from personal experience.

In 2017-2018 they say they spent around $55,000 a year on the kids and in September of 2019 it was already almost $120,000.

Reading through their Twitter feed is like gorging yourself at the tragedy steam tray buffet in the Hell World bodega.

  • A 17 year old girl living in a car was going to school in her pajamas.  Her teacher contacted us and we issued her a $100 Walmart gift card for new clothes.  Imagine the courage it took for that girl to go to school in pajamas.
  • A Dad told his son he would pay for basketball team fee if he improved academically.  The boy did so, then tried out and made the team.  But Dad reneged on his promise.  The boy - in tears - told his teacher who contacted us.  We paid the $100 fee and the boy is on the team!
  • Got a request today from school social worker to pay for school uniforms for five children in a struggling family in Memphis. Mom had to pay electricity first and the kids have missed ten 10 straight days of school. Just issued them a Walmart card to get them back into school.

  • Received a request today to help a child who wears a back brace that is visible because his clothes are too small for him. Kids in the school make fun of him. We issued a gift card so the boy could get new clothes that will cover up the brace.

  • Two kids in GA recently had to leave everything behind at their home when their mother fled a domestic violence situation. Their teacher contacted us saying they had no clothes. We just sent the teacher a gift card to be passed on to the mother.

If you’d like to donate to them you can do so here like I just did with a note saying Here’s hoping for a world someday where you don’t have to exist.

I think sometimes that the point of self-sabotage is to depreciate your own valuation of your life so that you don’t feel as terrible about the inevitability of losing it as you might if it were in better condition?

Still it feels like a luxury sometimes to want to die if that makes sense? To have enough time on your hands to think about it constantly because you’re not otherwise swamped doing everything we make most people do to try to barely stay alive. Over contemplated depression is a privilege I guess.

Over the past sixty years the price of a vial of insulin has gone from 75¢ to $250 I just read in this article from Time and wait why do we put the ¢ symbol after the number and the $ symbol before the number? Who decided that?

Another thing it said is that “A study of the world’s top 20 medications found that Americans pay an average of three times as much as patients in the U.K. do for a given drug.”

And so a group of researchers and scientists in California are fucking around in a lab trying to reverse engineer insulin with the idea being that they could share the relatively simple lab designs and processes they come up with to other people around the country who could then do it themselves. It’s like a garage meth lab for a drug that keeps you alive. DIY health care.

“It’s an old drug,” Jean Peccoud a professor of chemical and biological engineering at Colorado State University explained in the piece. “It’s not hard to produce. It should not be more expensive than Tylenol. Insulin is just pure greed. And a failure of government.”

Another thing the article said is that “Currently three companies—Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk and Sanofi—control most of the world’s $27 billion insulin market, using a complicated web of regulations and patents to keep a hold on it.”

Rather famously the dudes who invented insulin wanted to make it free and available to everyone but [Jeff Goldblum voice] capitalism finds a way.

One of the ways we originally derived insulin was by squeezing it out of pig pancreases just milking piles and piles of hog guts to get the precious medicine out. I guess it took two tons of meat to make eight ounces of the stuff. This went on for decades until a few years after I was born but now they don’t have to do it that way anymore they do it by [science stuff redacted] but if they ever do need to revert to that technique I can think of another group of fat fucking pigs that deserve to be squeezed for everything they’ve got.

Remember when everyone got into brewing their own beer for a while there and your buddy would go you gotta come try my beer I’ve been brewing over there at the house and you’d go sure man then eventually you’d go over and at some point your buddy would give you this nod and you’d think ah fuck here we go and then he’d take you “out back” or “down the basement” or wherever it was and he’d do this whole ceremonial thing like you were meeting his baby for the first time — what’s its name — and you’d try it and he’d be looking at you like eh? and you’d go that’s… not bad man. Not bad at all you’d go. And then you’d be sitting there with your buddy’s beer in your hand like a guy who just opened the hood of his car when it won’t start and you have no idea what is wrong with it but you’re making a face like you do and then you’d go what kind of … hops you got in here which is like the one thing everyone knows about to ask. Maybe it’s the carburetor you’d be thinking there with the hood open without knowing what the carburetor is or does.

I can send some home with you he’d go I got enough of it haha and you’d go ah sure that would be great haha.

It’s weird how “not bad” is considered one of the better things you can say to someone looking for feedback. Hey did you get a chance to read my screenplay yet man someone might ask and you’d go yeah it’s… not bad. Not bad at all. And somehow that’s a much nicer thing to say than yeah it was of relatively average quality. It met the bare threshold. You don’t ever say shit like that though because you would sound like a pervert.

A hunter in Arkansas was killed by a deer he had shot according to NBC News. They talked to a Game and Fish Commission and he said this sort of thing is very rare is what he said. Fuck you no fuck me is I guess what the deer said. Then they said in the article you’re supposed to wait thirty minutes after you shoot an animal to make sure it’s not still alive waiting there to do one last desperation move. Surprise bitch.

I’ve been learning all sorts of shit about hunting in the book I’m reading called The Son by Phillip Meyer. It’s about three generations of a family in Texas stretching back to the mid 1800s and it’s thrilling and violent and uncompromising about how cheap a human life actually is.

In this one chapter the second generation son Peter McCullough is trying to talk his people out of enacting mob justice against a family they suspect of shooting his son and he does not succeed in doing so and so a massacre ensues.

Over the top of the low rock wall I could see all our neighbors, their heads and gun barrels showing, the smoke puffing out and the shiny brass casings levering through the air, the spray of dust and stone as bullets slapped into the wall. I couldn’t move without being shot by one side or the other so I lay there with the grass underneath me and the bullets over top. I felt strangely safe, then wondered if I’d already been shot; there was a feeling of drifting, as if I were in a river, or in the air, looking down from a great height, it was all pointless, we might as well have never crawled from the swamps, we were no more able to understand our own ignorance than a fish, staring up from a pool, can fathom its own.

The bullets continued to snap overhead. I was looking at Bill Hollis when a pale cloud appeared and his eyes went wide as if he’d had some realization. His rifle clattered over the wall and he lay down his head as if taking a nap. I had a vision of him playing the fiddle in our parlor while his brother sang. Meanwhile the house was being shot to pieces. The heavy oak door, three hundred years old and brought from a family estate in Spain, was nothing but splinters. The parapets were disintegrating, the top of the stone tower as well. The caliche sillares were remnants from another era, suitable for stopping arrow and ball but not jacketed bullets, there was a thick cloud of dust rising from the house, the dust of its own bones.

Here’s a passage from a book called The Anatomy of Fascism by Robert Paxton that I have not read but I guess my buddy Adam is reading and it looks pretty spot on to me minus that part about “efforts to place controls on gun ownership” because no matter how low we fall in our descent into fascism in America the fascists are simply never going to do anything to take the guns away and you almost have to admire that self sabotage it’s like playing the Fascism Builder video game on Legendary difficulty.

I support the idea of canceling student debt for everyone and preventing anyone else from ever going into student debt and I would do so regardless of if I had paid my own off yet or not but at the same time it sure would be nice if we could hurry up and get that whole thing going while I still have some.

I’ve been paying $3-400 a month every month for like twenty years now and I still have $27,000 to go and it just occurred to me my thing with Sallie Mae and Navient is the longest relationship I’ve ever had in my life.

Why does that beetle or whatever up there look like it’s trying to get you out on the dance floor at your cousin’s wedding. Uptown Funk just came on looking ass.

The seven Catholic Worker peace activists I wrote about in here the other day were found guilty on all the charges against them for trespassing on a nuclear missile base and now they will wait to see if they are going to go to jail for the twenty odd years they are facing for being disrespectful to a missile statue.

“The Pentagon has many installations – and we just walked out of one of them,” Mark Colville one of them said outside the courthouse after the verdict. “It’s a place where they weaponize the law. And they wield it mostly against the poor, the people who have all the red lined neighborhoods in this county know that very well.”

“And once in a while the people who are privileged like us get a taste of it. And when we do we should hear the word guilty as a blessing on us because it gives us an opportunity to stand with people who hear guilty all the time every day.”

I’ve been rewatching Breaking Bad lately for the first time since it aired and Michelle is watching it for the first time ever and after every episode she’s like holy shit and I say well they don’t call it Breaking Good. We watched the episode with the train heist earlier this week the one where they have to extract the exact right amount of poison meth juice or whatever it is while replacing it with the corresponding amount of water and I thought that was a pretty good metaphor for getting wasted responsibly.

Last night Michelle goes to me she goes we gotta talk about your soda water addiction and it was funny to me because we were out on the porch drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes and that was the pressing issue at hand. I suppose in one case I’m only contributing to the destruction of myself and in the other it’s the destruction of the earth.

She rarely goes out there on the porch which is sort of My Space and she saw these trash bags I fill up with water bottles to recycle and it was like the scene in the horror movie where the girl opens a closet door and finds a bunch of human skulls and she said are you a hoarder what is this and I was like no I actually hate looking at them seeing them distresses me and she said well put them in the recycling and so I did.

Sometimes my brain feels like when you get something stuck in the garbage disposal and you try to turn it on and it makes that horrible grinding sound and you think well I hope this resolves itself and you try not to use the sink for a while and then you have to again eventually so you reach into the slime gears to try to pull out whatever it is that’s fucking everything up and then you run the water for a while and test the thing and it’s fine now until the next time.

I think my therapist and I might be ghosting each other because I canceled the other week and she usually will have called me by now saying when are you coming back but she hasn’t. Sometimes I wish she was meaner to me.

Here’s a very nice comment I got about the book yesterday.

Don’t forget to come to this if you want.

Or also this in Boston on 11/8.

After like a week of bullshitting everyone the Houston Astros finally fired their assistant general manager Brandon Taubman who had apparently directed some aggressive domestic abuse related comments to some women reporters who were in the locker room after a game. He was mad that one of the reporters had criticized them earlier for signing pitcher Roberto Osuna who was suspended for seventy five games for domestic abuse and the guy was basically like I’m sure glad we hired that pitcher that was suspended for domestic abuse but in a certain way that they were supposed to overhear it as menacing.

Then when they got called out for it the organization lied and said it never happened before they eventually had to admit that it did happen and that’s all bad but the interesting thing to me is that we are currently in this weird in between period where every steak house expense account pud in a long thick tie thinks he's Trump and gets to do Trump shit but some of them still get in trouble for it.

Fuck all moths by the way.

That story about the Catholic Worker activists has gotten me dangerously close to feeling a certain type of way this week. It’s a similar feeling I had when I was reading that book The Sparrow I wrote about in here not too long ago about a Jesuit missionary to space (it makes sense trust me lol). My entire life I’ve worn this Catholicism like a curse like it was something shameful and poison inside of me that I had to balance out like I’m constantly hijacking a meth train but to see a reminder that it can be used for good is so illuminating. When was the last time you saw someone acting out of their faith and it was actually as a tool for liberation and justice and not the bastardized Capitalist-Christianity that encompasses our entire framework for understanding religion now?

This isn’t exactly the worst thing you might say the Catholic Church in Boston has ever done but I just saw this tweet from the superintendent of Boston's Catholic schools.

I’m just saying I haven’t exactly been exposed to what you might call well modeled behavior when it comes to the ideals of Catholicism growing up in Massachusetts my entire life. I might have to fuck around and avail myself of the Sacrament of Penance one of these days although I guess I don’t really lack for an outlet for confession that’s what this entire newsletter is.

I don’t know what to do for the next thirty-forty years I have left if I’m lucky is all I’m saying. What are you going to do? What do people do? I guess you just wait.

I gotta make some changes is all I’m saying. I’m not going to but still.