Tag Archives: america

Politics: Do People Really Listen?

I can't hear you!

I was at the park today, doing some homework, when a pint-sized bulldog waddled its way to our picnic bench. He held a brownish-yellow tennis ball in his mouth. He snorted and tried to coax me into grabbing the ball from him. My girlfriend, distracted from her studies, wondered whether it was French or British.
The dog’s owner meandered over to us. He was a plump, smiling man with a white handlebar mustache.
“What are you studying?” He said.
Japanese, I told him, I want to live there. He told me I’d at least be safe there, since there aren’t a whole lot of Muslims in Tokyo.
My girlfriend later told me she’d drawn a red flag right then, but I didn’t see it. After all, plenty of people say plenty of ignorant things, and you can’t argue with all of them. Besides, starting an argument with a smiling gentleman on a sunny summer day is just about last on my list.
Now personally, I’m a big fan of Bernie Sanders, and eventually, I came out with it. I did it casually, with a chuckle that was genuine and conversational. My girl put her head down against the table. Her social senses were more on cue than mine: I found myself in the middle of a political debate, with no idea how I’d gotten there. He really started to talk.
His points about Greece’s failed economy were interesting. I also liked his thoughts on how even if we raised taxes on the super-wealthy, they’d find a way to cheat the system. I wanted to discuss that. But unfortunately, the discussion wasn’t open. He made several errors in his discourse, and whenever I started to answer some of his misinformation with a correction, he talked over me.
Finally, he walked away, saying, “I used to be an idealist, and that’s nice, but I haven’t heard one fact from you.” Of course not. You haven’t tried to listen.
And I think that’s a fundamental assumption in talking politics. We’re all so fortunate to have been blessed with a perfect and infallible set of political views, aren’t we? Why should we listen to anyone else’s points, and keep an open mind? It would seem that we’re all set in our ways. But how will anything get done without compromise and listening?
In kindergarten, I got into a fight with one of my classmates over the triangle blocks. You remember those. He needed them for his roof. But I wanted the last two for the garnishing outside my brand new block house. When he insisted on having them I pushed him on the floor. The teacher came over and asked us to share. After a minute I apologized for pushing, the kid said sorry to me. And I gave him the triangle blocks. They weren’t so important after all, and he needed them more. How else would he keep the rain out? I cared more about being right than the actual blocks.
And you know what? It’s not so different. I would have made mistakes in my argument, too, had I been given the chance. But that’s the beauty of constructive conversation: we fill in the gaps, inform, illuminate each other with new ideas and possibilities. So I challenge you, reader, to question your views in your next debate. If you’re still right, stick by your guns. But listen to the other side. As long as you and I keep that in mind, we will always continue to grow.


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Flagging the Flag

I was poking around Facebook when I found this picture:

Jermaine Rogers.

Facebook took it down.

Jermaine Rogers, the artist, posted soon afterward, explaining that it was not his decision.

He explained that people must have been really offended–he received a lot of nasty hate mail. Maybe that’s understandable. Maybe people saw the Swastika flag and failed to understand the artist’s message. For Jews, myself included, the Swastika connotes an oppressed people who were enslaved, gassed, burned alive.

It is estimated that over eleven million Africans were shackled and processed and forced across four or five time zones in a boat. Nobody knows how many died in total, but the estimate for African deaths on the journey across the Atlantic Ocean is over a million. That’s just during the trip, folks—and if they tried to escape, these people were branded, whipped, or killed.

Slave Auction

Either flag is horrible. Today, the Swastika is illegal in Germany. The confederate flag’s legality is being discussed in the US: it is symbolic of an oppressed people. I’d be scared if there were Nazi flags hanging in my neighborhood. I’m just putting the shoe on the other foot. It’s the same size shoe.

Here’s the thing.

This is getting ridiculous.

Apple pulled the ‘Gettysburg’ game out of their app store “…because it includes images of the confederate flag used in offensive and mean-spirited ways.” It’s a history-based game—and shouldn’t history be preserved rather than denied? Bernie Sanders, who is running for President, recently said of the flag that it “belongs in a museum,” not in public. Can’t call that a bad idea. Apple just went kind of crazy with it.


Take the flag off the streets. Put it in a museum.

It’s still legal to print a Swastika in Germany, as long as the message is anti-Nazi (for example, a flag with the Swastika–and a cross through it–could be interpreted as legal). So this post here gets removed from Facebook. I realize that Facebook is not the government. But I find that its removal implies censorship’s trump over parody. Parody is a vital ingredient in the soup of political awareness (soup: no pun intended–that’s a Jonathan Swift joke!).

“A young healthy child well nursed, is, at a year old, a most delicious nourishing and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, …” –Jonathan Swift, a Modest Proposal

Jonathan Swift


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The Midnight Clowns

They say the freaks come out at night.

I adore the night.

Take the corner deli. As an institution, I freaking love them. It’s a comfort, knowing I can buy energy drinks, malt liquor, cigarettes, cheese doodles, lottery tickets, condoms and male enhancement products , all within the same four walls. No-Doz pills, twinkies, Penthouse magazines; lighters, ice cream, debauchery.

It’s trash of the soul and I love it.

Of that list, I’ve only bought energy drinks and cheese doodles..in the last year, anyway. But you see them: the 40 oz Old English and the oversized 99 cent cans of Pepsi and the people who buy them. I’m genuine, I mean it, it’s a comfort, even just to see the shelves.

It’s like a counter-culture.

A roadside Gulf station, that’s fun at midnight or three or four. I prefer to people-watch at these sorts of places, at these oddball hours of the night.

7-11, that was fun for awhile. I’d order a hot dog and fill it to the point of overflowing with the chili and cheese dispensers, which are meant for the nachos, really. The cheese is funny, too. It’s like soft-serve ice cream, only bright yellow.

7-11 has got some decent fucking coffee.

My favorite of this type is actually a distant cousin: the diner. The American diner. Love it. Waffle fries, eggs at 3:30 am, coffee and a ragged turkey-necked gimp of a waitress who has inevitably mistaken your name for “honey,” and you know this because that’s what she keeps calling you in between coughs and rubbing her mascara into her left eye, smudging it. Dios mio, I love the diner. They’re all the same. Every diner is the same. Go to a diner in Ohio, and then go to a diner in New Jersey: they’re the same. If that’s not comforting, well, I don’t know what is.

I figure interstate truck-drivers experience comfort and a kind of Twilight Zone bizarre feeling. Each time must be new and strange, all at once. And, it’s the middle of the night. Strange thoughts happen when you could be dreaming, but instead, you’re not.

…which is why I’m going to try to get some sleep, tonight.

Thanks for reading.


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Dear Gates,


What are you, exactly?

Some would use you to close themselves, to deny parts of the world; others would tear you down at any cost.

If you were behind a gate for so long that you’d forgotten what was on the other side, what would you say if it suddenly crumbled? What would you say if the sun was so bright and blinding that you didn’t recognize the shapes and colors around you? If your eyes hadn’t yet adjusted to its rays?

Gates, try to see it from a different point of view. Understand the gated. Suddenly, there’s no need for this.

Robert Frost says Good fences make good neighbors.  I like that dude. He was a good dude. Piling rocks is good for property management. Boundaries are delightful tools. I use them when I want privacy. Let’s just keep those rocks at waist level. Let’s just make sure we can see each other’s faces.

Is one struggle any different from another?

Actually, it’s completely different. Those differences don’t matter. It’s the person, not the mask.




PS know your role

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07/02/2013 · 10:19 PM

Dear Technology,

It’s time to pull the plug.
I’m not sure we have a healthy relationship. It seems like we’re always together. I need some breathing room. I don’t get to bask in sunshine anywhere near the amount that I want to. I’ve also been missing out on the shade.
I’m not sure we’ve got a healthy relationship. It seems like every time I want to do some yard-work, or clean the dishes, or read a book, I’ve got something more important to do with you.
And I like that you spoil me—you give me anything I want as soon as I want it—but ever since instant gratification, I’ve lost my ability to be patient. I’m sorry, but between lightning-fast information, access to limitless music and videos, and my ability to nuke a hot pocket in under 2 minutes, I just don’t feel like waiting for much of anything anymore. Seriously, I have to force myself to cook anything that takes 20 minutes, like rice. This just isn’t working out.
I think I need some space. You might be upset, but can you really blame me? It seems like every time I sit down to do something quiet, nice, or intelligent, the person I’m with has some kind of phone alert that they need to respond to. It usually happens when I’m about to say something awesome. The other person always tells me that they’re listening, and I always have to repeat myself. Sometimes I even forget the awesome thing that I was going to say. And, besides, you can’t reconstruct a moment. They come and go on their own.
Technology, what it comes down to is that you’re interfering with my life. I never invited you in this far, but somehow, you’re here.
It’s time to back up. I’m sorry.
Ezikiel Strawberry

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Dear America,

Dear America,

I think we need to break up. This just isn’t working out.

I delivered food to an office building today. I was in an elevator, going to the ninth of fourteen floors. The elevator was crowded, and people seemed to keep cramming in. I figured it was lunch time: everyone was carrying their lunch.

They were all joking around with each other and laughing. The elevator stopped at the eighth floor. Someone amidst the rapid conversation wanted to know who was getting off on that floor. The person volunteered themselves. Then, someone else wanted to know who was getting off at the ninth floor, and one lady volunteered that it was the food.

Surprisingly, I didn’t get too angry. However, I was insulted. At first I wanted to tell her that I was an actual person. The more I thought about it, the more I just wanted to tell her that what she’d said was rude. But, by that time, I was already driving to my next delivery.

I think that technology makes it easy to disregard others. I don’t think that technology is the only thing that can do that—not by a longshot. But it really helps in the process.

To me, “a New York State of Mind” is a euphemism for being a bitch.

I don’t understand most people, and most people, I’m sure, do not understand me. This train of thought leads into a mistrust of technology, a subject I’ll post about in the coming days.

Yours truly,

Ezikiel Strawberry




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A Steaming Pile of Windows 8

Windows 8 seems to be a steaming pile of baboon dung. Free market’s cool, but I cannot physically operate Windows 8 without feeling like the entire experience is conditioning me to buy stuff I don’t need. Naw, worse. It’s conditioning me to be in a constant position and frame of mind to mindlessly purchase.

The applications are just there. All the time. But I don’t want to rely on apps–***********8*I need more, always I need more, because my life isn’t fulfilling but applications shall fulfill me, and I feel comforted in knowing that I have access to applications on all devices that I own********8***–The new format really seems to be designed to force me into buy-mode.

But what really bothers me is that diabolical fucking start menu. This Lucifer hell-spawn distraction from the abyss is just completely intent on drawing me in to clicking on things that I don’t want to devote any time to. But now I have to, because if I want to get to the internet I have to look at all the other shit there, and get good at ignoring things–all those little squares I don’t want to see, like video games or movies. Are people really unintelligent, to the point where they need colored squares with I.Q.-lower-than-70 icons printed on them?

What is the reason for the corporate attitude that I haven’t got a brain? Or, if I’ve got one, that I should’t use it? The concept of icons is to use recognition as an immediate response, so I don’t have to think–“oh, a video game controller–if I click that, I get to play.” Or: “Oh, a musical note.”

I already have a hard enough time surviving in this world of constant streaming live information overload. But I’m afraid it’s only going to become more difficult in the future.

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04/29/2013 · 4:26 AM