July is a tough month for Facebook. Several major corporations have boycotted the social media website/election meddler in response to hate groups being able to freely spread their repulsive rhetoric with little to no repercussions, including posts from the current US president. It seems that in response to this, Facebook has adjusted yet again to bypass my AdBlock extension as I am seeing more sponsored posts for half-assed law firms advertising services for victims of sexual assault while in the Boy Scouts or for victims of Zantac side-effects. That’s pretty much every unwanted ad wedged between my friends’ posts.
Just in one scroll, I had over a dozen ads for assault victims while a scout. I was never a scout. Your algorithm and data harvesting sucks!
I started reporting these adverts as most are scams to begin with, especially those promoted by pages with such elegant names as “Ukdfg,” “Boudreaux's Butt Paste” or “Wgjdfghgjfgh” (yes, these are all real):
That is when I noticed yet another significant change to Facebook’s layout. For the past few weeks, a new tab has emerged under the “Explore” option: Lift Black Voices. This was in response to worldwide protests against systemic racism, especially in policing, after the murder of George Floyd. The tab will provide the user with news and groups for reform as well as links to Black artists, authors, speakers, musicians, etc. to help end the whitewashing. For the last several weeks since this emerged, it was at the top of the “Explore” menu. Today, it’s at the very bottom and hidden from view:
Oh, look at that! Just as Facebook is trying to defend itself amidst a boycott that resulted from Facebook itself amplifying the voices of racists and white nationalist groups, it decides that now is also the best time to actively hide the Lift Black Voices tab! I guess you really didn’t care about racial justice and equality after all, and just added that to be “cool” during the early stages of the protests.
Nothing says “we’re not racist” like continuing to promote white supremacist activity on your platform while hiding resources that promote equal rights for every human being! What an absolute load of wank! Facebook will give a Grand Dragon of the KKK full advertising accessibility, but hide one tab that contains news regarding police reform or that promotes Black artists, entertainers, teachers, etc.
I’ve saved this picture for nearly a year and I think that given all of this, Mark Zuckerberg deserves the full dose:
Institutional Failures, Security Theatre and Existential Dread: A Brief Essay on My Thoughts & Experiences During the Pandemic of 2020 Thus Far
I am just going to come out and say it: when did such prestigious institutions as the Centres for Disease Control and the World Health Organization become filled to the brim with completely inept and clueless leadership? From actually assisting in large scale testing and containment, and issuing requirements for biological disaster areas to follow instead of meagre suggestions, the leading organizations for global healthcare seem to have adopted a stance that pleases politicians over actually doing their jobs.
Now I know that there are actual doctors and scientists working throughout the day and night on not only COVID-19 but other pathogens such as measles, Ebola and God knows what else that could be lying in wait (such as a latent viruses or bacterium our ancient ancestors dealt with tens of thousands of years ago, but have remained dormant in the permafrost until the current climate crisis roused it from its slumber). However, those in charge of these institutes have been eerily silent over the past few months or only make common sense suggestions, often extremely late such as the WHO’s recommendation for face masks in public (which was made only yesterday), months after the suddenly and mysteriously slow CDC had already made such an announcement.
The US has to deal with Doctor Fauci contradicting himself so much that he is a caricature of any prestige he may have once had. For the love all that is holy, he not only recommended that Americans not use masks but that they also take cruises while the outbreak was tearing through those very cruise ships during the same interview earlier in 2020.
The head of the CDC is a homophobic bigot who, during the HIV/AIDS crisis forty years ago, considered that the affliction was caused by a moral failing (read: homosexuality is a “sin”) and not due to a virus despite obvious evidence that it was a goddamn virus. Robert Redfield nearly went full on Mengele with HIV/AIDS patients in the US military, forcing them into “HIV Hotels” where they were studied before being dishonourably discharged from the service and being convicted of a felony (that crime was being gay by the way, whether the patients were actually LGBTQ+ or not, as in the 1980s it was assumed that only gay people could develop AIDS).
Both Fauci and Redfield have made ridiculous promises of a vaccine against COVID-19 sooner than any actual doctors and scientists have said. The WHO's daily briefings are filled with speculation, with real but overall meaningless information sparsely interjected. The remaining time consists of the organization attempting to defend itself against a scientifically illiterate US president who hawks snake oil from the White House, then rallies a bunch of quacks to support his idiotic ideas so as to make them seem more legitimate to a desperate nation.
It is obvious that the CDC and many leading “health experts” in the US that are frequently seen on television are doing whatever they can to appease the Dear Leader rather than do their jobs, as said jobs are in jeopardy if they go against whatever the Dark Lord has to offer.
I also understand that we are dealing with a new virus and that actually intelligent individuals in these groups do not want to release anything until there have been substantial double-blind placebo controlled studies for virologic treatments and vaccines, but the silence at the top produces an air of hopelessness as tech companies attempt to fill the vacuum with idiotic masks with a moveable flap so you can eat in a restaurant while still using a mask (which defeats the purpose of the mask), personal bubbles so you can go to a movie theatre again, or full on Half-Life styled biosuits that are revealed as the future of concerts or for merely leaving your house. What a beautiful dystopia we are creating!
This is not helping.
This is a temporary situation, yet the only news we are receiving is fear-mongering that suggests my generation’s great-grandchildren may still be living in and out of quarantines over COVID-19. We overcame the 1918-19 influenza pandemic. We are not wandering the streets, looking for a cure or treatment for the Spanish Flu, nor are we huddling around a mad inventor who just rolled into town with his crazy new electric gizmo that he hails as a miracle remedy after failing as a clergyman, as people had a century ago (but as a note: nearly all modern flu strains are descended from that pandemic). We developed vaccines and, more importantly, our little evolutionary defence called the immune system did its job. Our bodies are adapting as I write this to fight COVID-19 while our ingenuity simultaneously is developing a vaccine to further that battle. That is in our evolution and the reason why we’ve overcome so many pathological disasters in our relatively short history on Earth.
While on the subject of asymptomatic people, the same people who make up the majority of those inflicted with the virus, I need to make a statement to the CDC and WHO: temperature checkpoints do not work on those aforementioned individuals. Fever is a symptom; they don’t have symptoms. I hate that I have to make mention of something so obvious to a group of scientists. Temperature checks are nothing but security theatre and allow silent carries to spread the coronavirus to others. Do not waste time trying to make people feel better when going through a biological checkpoint is only going to cause more anxiety and feelings of mistrust towards those in charge, especially the CDC and WHO. And those organizations have enough of a public image problem at this point in time between presidential rants and their inability to hold a simple press conference to reassure an entire planet suffering from daily panic attacks.
(UPDATE 9 June 2020: The consensus as of today is that asymptomatic people cannot easily spread the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, which came from the WHO. Within hours, they retracted the statement, shrugged their shoulders so as to provide no further information, and continued their streak of pure incompetence.)
I have written this short article as a way to vent my frustrations and to alleviate the constant anxiety that I have been dealing with for the entire year between the coronavirus and being completely unemployed or underemployed for at least the next two years. It has been very difficult for me to get out of bed in the morning, and thoughts of moving to the woods, a dozen kilometres between myself and the next nearest human being, come to mind as a better alternative to living in a world under the draconian laws of COVID-19. This comes as a courtesy of constant misinformation, lack of leadership from the medical community and from politicians, and the endless commercials (coronammercials) that go on, and on, and on about the virus and how we are all in this together (we’re not, companies that say this just want to remind you that they still exist and want you to buy something).
Corporations always have to hijack our lives. As I write this, every major company in the world is posting a black square to their Twitter and Instagram feeds as a show of solidarity with Black Lives Matter, but are actually hurting the movement by hiding relevant information for protestors and allies. Then there's all the corporate accounts suddenly turning their logos into rainbows for Pride Month, only to change them back at midnight on 1 July. Yeah, some allies you are. Any plans on adding rainbow flags to your official Russian accounts while you're at it?
Maybe it would be better to go full on Henry David Thoreau and just disappear into the trees given how horrible capitalist and consumer life is under ordinary times, never mind this. Then I would only have to worry about my friends and family debating on whether or not I have become another Unabomber.
We need a new word here in the year of our Lord 2020, and I have it right here:
This is the term that I am using to describe the ceaseless adverts about COVID-19, being together at home, or otherwise reminding you of the global pandemic when you are desperately trying to take your mind off of the global pandemic.
The other day, I put on Ghost Adventures on the Travel Channel after a storm of notifications from the BBC News app reminded me that death was lurking around every corner of this new reality that I occupy. There were ten ads in the first break and bloody nine of them were about COVID-19, the "new normal," or how we're all in this together.
Fuck off. Just fuck right off.
I can't even tune in to Nickelodeon or Cartoon Network without existential dread pouring forth from my television like a Lovecraftian nightmare. The tendrils of ancient, unholy beasts are always there. Death is just outside the door.
My elderly parents have a decent sized yard with a gazebo and a pool, and they're afraid to go out in that yard for fear that the virus is lurking in the grass or in the trees, and that a little breeze will spread it like a demonic cough right into their faces. The constant news cycle didn't implant these fears by itself, these incessant coronammercials are just as bad, if not worse, than never changing the channel from FOX, CNN or MSNBC.
Big companies, business and the like, I have some advice: Shut the fuck up. If you want to make an impact in "these unprecedented times," stop wasting your money on television ads and put it towards virologic research and development, and maybe then we can get back to something remotely ordinary a little sooner.
Until then, shut your holes and realize that nobody wants your shitty car, phone, or Barbie's Quarantine Dream House until we can go about safely and get work again.
The cool, dewy air of late summer greeted my cousin as he awoke to begin his daily chores. It was a relief from the musty confines of his cottage and a rare chance to enjoy the privacy away from his brothers and sisters in the pale, pre-dawn hours. As a young man in his mid-teens, he both revelled in his emerging freedom and loathed the responsibilities that came with it as he began to tend to the land. He was the first to wake, and thought it appropriate to begin work as soon as possible to limit his time in the afternoon sun. As he laboured, the small home began to stir as it usually would, the younger children quickly disturbing the rest with their games, and his mother beginning to cook the day’s meals. It was amidst this ordinary routine that a very unordinary sound drew the cottage and the entire village to a standstill. A growing roar fast approaching from the west had halted all activities and had awoken the remaining sleepers. Men, women, and children alike watched in horror as they saw the German Luftwaffe flying overhead, on their way to bomb Kraków in the opening hours of World War Two.
Over the next seven years, the family in that little cottage, my family, would be forcibly relocated to ghettos and concentration camps. They were shot, beaten, raped, starved, tortured, and ultimately murdered as part of the Nazi’s Final Solution. A little girl barely past the age of ten was beaten, skinned and turned into a lampshade for German consumers. A young man was shot in the head and his body sent for rendering to be made into soap. The elderly and infirm were killed outright if they had not already starved or succumbed to typhus. Of the entire household, there was only one survivor. One man who lost everyone and everything he had ever loved. He immigrated to the United States in 1946, and lived out his days reminding us of the atrocities that he had experienced in Poland. Reminding us of his three-day long torture session in a dark cellar in the ruins of Warsaw, where he had been chained in a bathtub and endured gallons of ice water poured over him for the amusement of the German soldiers. And to remind us to never let this happen again.
I am sharing my family’s Holocaust story, or as much of it as I know, because the world has once again decided to go headlong into that abyss of hatred and the United States, Italy, Hungary and Austria are leading the wretched pack of diseased wolves into the darkness. I have long held my tongue on political issues, especially in regards to the US, out of fear for my family’s safety if I dared to criticize the so called “alt-right” or “white nationalists” or whatever else these hatemongers are using to make themselves more marketable to the gullible talking heads of the twenty-four-hour news cycle. But I can no longer be silent as I see more innocent people being shot while attending synagogue, or individuals being beaten by unmasked Klansmen at Nuremburg-esque rallies held by the sitting president because of the colour of their skin, or the continued atrocities occurring at the U.S.-Mexico border as children are ripped away from their families to sit in cages within makeshift concentration camps where a psychotic paramilitary group both creates and enforces its laws within these centres.
I have seen so many people proudly declare “I am a nationalist!” on social media, blind to the inherently xenophobic nature of the ideology and the hatred, brutality and genocide it has been directly responsible for over the past century. I have seen now former friends and even relatives declaring their love of nationalism, carefully stating how different they are from the “white nationalists” so as not to come off as racists themselves. However, I have yet to see a single “nationalist” who isn’t white, or who doesn’t engage in the exchange of racial slurs in casual speech, or who doesn’t promote anti-Semitic conspiracy theories in Facebook posts laden with the red, white and black homages to Nazism complete with archaic Jewish caricatures. The absence of that one word gives them the illusion of non-responsibility when a counter-protester is run over in Charlottesville, or a mass shooting occurs within a synagogue or mosque, or when a war veteran decides to drive into a crowd in order to “target Muslims” while chanting “thank you Jesus” as he is arrested. That absent word allows for deniability in statements such as “he/she wasn’t a real nationalist” or “what he/she did was wrong, but doesn’t speak for us as a whole.”
Alt-right, nationalist, white nationalist; the term does not matter, each is synonymous with the other. One may not approve of the methods of another label, but in the end, they agree on their principles. After the shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand, there may have been nationalist voices decrying that act of barbarity, but there was not a single tear shed nor a memorial service held for those lives lost led by any proclaimed nationalist. And while they did not seem to rejoice in the outcome on the surface, the social media postings and memes that came afterwards by these radicals certainly showed that they have little or no sympathy for Muslim victims of white supremacist violence.
The willingness of modern people, especially in the United States, to tolerate such carnage is identical to the “none of my business” attitude that prevailed amongst average German and Italian citizens during the Nazi and Fascist years. It becomes easy to ignore the consequences of radical opinions when one’s own hands are not sullied and it does not interfere with their day-to-day living. After all, they are still receiving a paycheque and any of that dirty business is secreted away in covert prisons or facilities in the middle of nowhere. How soon that assertiveness changes when the hidden horrors are exposed to the world and that they had been living directly beside it for years without uttering a sound in protest.
The atrocities that are occurring today must not go un-protested. They must be revealed to every citizen of the world as they happen so that they may not be perpetuated and that the soul of a nation does not perish, and that the perpetrators are punished to the full extent of the honourable law. And the nations where these crimes have occurred must acknowledge their part in allowing such brutalities and seek to come to terms with that reality in the aftermath.
I will not be silent and, as Victor Klemperer said, I will bear witness.
I'm not feeling too great at the moment, but I want to make a quick post with an important message. First, I'm writing this open letter to Universal Music Group (UMG), because this music corporation actually attempted to have my Satie and Schumann records removed from iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, etc. by illegally claiming ownership of my sound recordings and falsely attributing them to various artists on their label.
Even with my Registration IDs in the Library of Congress, my UPC codes and the ISRC codes for each track, UMG insisted that they owned my material and didn't back off until I threatened litigation against them and gave them my attorney's information to prove I wasn't joking. Apparently, many music corporations have been doing this, falsely claiming ownership of public domain classical music that isn't theirs, or even fully original tracks, and they have been doing it since December of 2018.
Fuck you, Universal Music Group. I think I speak for all artists when I say you can take a molten fire poker and forcibly insert it into your anus.