Holy moly, JUUL is Remarkably Evil™

I knew about some of this (like the JUUL school presentations—which, as a former teacher and admin, struck me as a stunning professional dereliction that somehow managed to dwarf the enormous amoral grossness of JUUL’s marketing department; well done, fellow educators!), but other bits (like the nicotine salts) were news to me.

An elucidating 3mins. Watch.

The Far-from-Obligatory Annual Award Eligibility Post

It’s that time of year again. If you’re the kinda person that nominates stories for the Hugo, Nebula, etc. Awards, I’ve got exactly one qualifying story for you to consider this year:

“All Hail the Pizza King and Bless His Reign Eternal” (F&SF, July/Aug 2020)

(review, review, review)

If you are a person who might nominate stuff and need a copy, I can send you a PDF. Contact me.

Incidentally, I loved that art so much that I contact the artist (Alan M Clark) and bought the original charcoal-on-paper drawing that was the source. It’s amaaaaaazing! The original is 16″x20″. A 5″x8″ magazine cover cannot do it justice. Such a treat to have on my wall.

Don’t wanna get into why I’m reading up on Little “Saint” Hugh of Lincoln Today…

… but for those looking for insights into why the Defeated PotUS is obsessed with an absolutely anti-factual narrative of a rigged election, this is worthy reading, especially the “Royal Intervention” sub-section:

The difficulty remains as to why King Henry and his servant John of Lexington would have believed the accusations in the first place. … While the decision to act belonged to the King, Langmuir believes that he was weak and easily manipulated by Lexington. Langmuir says Henry III has been described as; “a suspicious person who flung charges of treason recklessly, [who] was credulous and poor in judgment, and often appeared like a petulant child. When to these qualities we add his addiction to touring the shrines of England, it becomes easier to understand why he acted as he did…” Langmuir therefore concludes that Lexington “incited the weakly credulous Henry III to give the ritual murder fantasy the blessing of royal authority”. Jacobs on the other hand sees the financial benefits that Henry received as a major factor, conscious or unconscious, in his decision to mass arrest and execute Jews. As noted above, he had mortgaged his income from the Jews to Richard of Cornwall, but was still entitled to the property of any Jew executed, adding that Henry, “like most weak princes, was cruel to the Jews”.

Anti-Jewish woodcut depicting  blood libel child murder
[Popular Anti-Jewish woodcut depicting the blood libel child murder of either Simon of Trent or William of Norwich (which are basically the same story, in either case). Note the dude at the far left who appears to be wearing George Jetson’s house on his head; that’s a “Jew Hat.”]

Note the profit motive, the crushing debt, the love of touring from big public event to big public event, the absolute credulity to believe what is convenient, the tendency to flit and flip-flop from outrage to outrage, and a reflex to accuse sinister cabals composed of largely powerless minorities of master-minding vast schemes against a blameless populace.

If all of this seems long ago and far away, then please note that QAnon, Pizzagate, and a goodly portion of current Trumpery-driven White Violence is just this same story repeated over and over and over again.

Nice prayer at the bottom of that link, though.

Little Saint Hugh of Lincoln

Anyway, Happy Nittlenacht everyone!!!

I stand corrected! (or “On the True Meaning of DIE HARDnukah🕎”

My thoughts on Die Hard and Xmas, from ~2013: “DIE HARD (its Origins), Violence, Redemption, and Xmas (Plus a Bonus Writing Tip!)

Xappy XrismanuKwanzXanukahNacht!!! ♪♫♪♬🎅🏿🎄✡️🐲🔥🇺🇸⛄️🕎

I’m a Jew—born and raised—but I come from a “mixed” family (they say “interfaith” now).  My dad is a Jew, but my mom was raised Christian.  Both my maternal grandparents—with whom my sisters and I spent a lot of time—were practicing Christians. Interfaith families are really common now (my wife and I are mixed), but were much less so when I was young.

As you’re likely aware, back when I was a kid there weren’t a lot of Xanukah songs for us Jewish kids. But there were absolutely zero songs for mixed half-a-Jews with an Xmas tree and a Xanukiah and a cat that managed to catch fire in the Xanukah candles every year and Xtian grandparents who came to town on Xmas Eve specifically to partake in the Jewish tradition of Xmas Chinese food.

There weren’t many mixed kids like us—and there weren’t any songs or holiday specials or children’s books that reflected what we saw and felt and loved about wintertime.

So these are my songs, for all the little intersectional mixed kids out there, who don’t have any holiday songs to sing.

This is Not a Peaceful Transfer of Power; It’s a Frog Boil 🇺🇸🔥🐸

This whole article is sorta astounding. I mean, nothing is really surprising, but it’s sorta shocking to have all of your assumptions confirmed:

20 days of fantasy and failure: Inside Trump’s quest to overturn the election

I can’t help but imagine all of what’s happened over the past month from the PotUS’s perspective: 

art by DonkeyHotey https://www.flickr.com/photos/donkeyhotey/
(art by DonkeyHotey)

He’s never had a real job—not one that he could actually lose. And now a bunch of losers—people with no wealth, no audience, no “pull,” folks with meager incomes and dumb names, with little (if any) power, many of them women and people of color—they took away his toy.

And they didn’t do it by force: They didn’t pull a gun on him, they didn’t have to “see him in court!!!” They didn’t have to look at him or talk to him or even acknowledge him. They just ticked a box and mailed a stupid scrap of paper.

And all of those “they”s in the previous graff: those are “you” and “me”; we did this. We, who are weak-ass little pussies and cry babies and retarded faggot snowflakes, we hurt him, deeply. And we did it while hiding in our little shithole houses in shithole towns and bullshit states.

I imagine that, in his heart of hearts, he simply never believed such a thing was possible, so insulated from reality was his 70+ years on this earth. 

The most petulant 46 minutes in American history

It is all so astoundingly pathetic. If he hadn’t done so much to hurt so many, you’d weep for his loss of innocence.

Just to be clear: Although no shots have been fired (yet), this is not a “peaceful transfer of power.” At best, it’s a tremendous waste of the most precious resource in a time of crisis (like this one): Attention

At worst, it’s an incitement to violence. 

His blood is boiling, and we are the frogs.

What Comes After the Paint and Swastikas

(N.B. I originally wrote this for my congregation, but I figured some of the rest if you might benefit from the message, too.)

You almost certainly heard about the desecration of a Jewish cemetery in Grand Rapids shortly before the election,“TRUMP” and “MAGA” spray-painted over the names of the honored dead.

[source]

Maybe these pictures worried you.  Maybe they frightened you.  Maybe they embarrassed you—because, let’s be honest: it’s shameful to be bullied, to get the “Kick Me!” sign pasted to your back again and again, century after century.  

Or maybe you didn’t feel much of anything. Maybe you’ve grown numb; one more slap in the face at the tail end of four years of unprovoked suckerpunches, it can all sort of blur together. I get that.

I don’t exactly have words for how it made me feel.

I saw these pictures of the Jewish cemetery in Grand Rapids, and I immediately thought back to the swastikas spray painted on Temple Jacob last winter, way up in the Upper Peninsula town of Hancock.  And I thought about the dozens of swastikas and slurs defacing our local skatepark back in 2017.   

(I go to that skatepark a lot.  It was hard not to take it personally.)

And I thought about the increase in anti-Jewish hate-crimes here in America over the past four years.  I thought about the increasingly violent nature of those crimes.

I thought about the bomb threats. And the synagogue shootings.  And the stabbings.  And the rallies.  And the men with guns in the capitol.  

And so on.

And I felt hopeless. And I was afraid.

So I emailed the rabbi of Congregation Ahavas Israel (who maintain the cemetery in Grand Rapids that was desecrated on election’s eve). I wrote to voice our support and solidarity, and ask what they might need to restore the cemetery.  

Rabbi David J.B. Krishef replied almost immediately:

“Hi Dave — the cemetery was cleaned by a small group of people who live around the corner and took it upon themselves to clean the stones without even letting us know what they were doing, and a few other people, including one from Ann Arbor, who drove in and decided to wash the paint off. We are grateful for all of the love and support and positive notes we’ve received.” 

It dawned on me that this second half of the story is rarely reported, but often the case:

A lone jackass skulks around smearing his petty foulness in the dark; the whole community—not just Jews, but people from all over the community unwilling to let ugliness linger—return in the light to set things right.

That’s what happened in the cemetery in Grand Rapids.  And when I went back and checked, I discovered it’s what happened at Temple Jacob in Hancock.  

And that’s what happened here in Ann Arbor, too; I know, because I saw it:  I went to the skatepark the day after it was tagged. The city had already power-washed away the paint. And unknown members of the community at large had come through with colored chalk and, evey place where there’d been a symbol of hate, replaced it with a message of welcoming and love:

[source]

What I saw in Ann Arbor was not the exception; it was the rule, even now, in this time of widely reported “unprecedented division and unrest.” And maybe it feels like we’re mired in a time of unprecedented division and unrest because we only report the first half of the story—the smeared paint, the thrown punch, the shots fired—and then move on to the next catastrophe, without checking back to see what comes after the paint and the screaming: a nation of folks ready to take it upon themselves to fix whatever any single angry loner chooses to break.