Y'all, the internet is not a safe place. On the 24th I received three identical form entries on my site from email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, and email@example.com (all from IP address 184.108.40.206, Zurich, Switzerland).
Your reputation and business are at stake!
We on your behalf in the message your website address christopherrandallnicholson.com and your contact information (including in social. Networks and messengers) will send:
+ on 15,897,318 sites, threats with insults to site owners, US residents, Europeans, LGBT and BLM.
+ 790,000 messages to bloggers with threats and insults
+ 2 367 896 public figures and politicians (from the USA and Europe) with threats and insults
+ 70,000 negative reviews about you and your website christopherrandallnicholson.com
+ 23 467 849 contact forms of sites with threats and insults
+ 150,000 emails messages to people with disabilities with threats and insults, many of them will definitely sue you
+ 57000 emails of messages to veterans with threats and insults, FOR THIS YOU WILL BE EXACTLY SITTED
Following from all of the above, you will get a lot of losses:
+ an abuse from spam house, amazon and many webmasters (for spam, insults and threats) will come to your site christopherrandallnicholson.com, as a result, your domain will be banned and blacklisted
+ people will sue you because you threatened and humiliated them
+ in court you will not prove anything, everything will look as if you did it all, MOST YOU WILL GO TO PRISON
+ internet will be inundated with negative reviews about you and your website christopherrandallnicholson.com
+ threats and reprisals from BLM and LGBT community members, in fact, these are dangerous community guys
Total: you will lose your business, all your money, you will spend on lawyers and compensation for court decisions, you will go to jail, your life will turn to hell ...
We already have everything ready to launch all of the above, but we decided to give you a chance to avoid all this, you can buy off a small amount of money.
Make a payment, transfer 0.39 Bitcoins to this address
We are waiting for the transfer from you until November 27, on Saturday November 28, if payment does not come from you, we will begin to destroy your business and you along with it.
So, let me get this straight... since the deadline has passed and I didn't do anything, he's going to advertise my painfully obscure website, for free, to 42,800,063 people? Oh no! And then nobody will believe me even though I have three records of him spelling out his evil plot in excruciating detail? Oh no! It's really not worth the effort to dissect every self-explanatory reason why this scam is unbelievably stupid, so I'll just focus on one more. I believe I've been very vocal about some of the people I heartily dislike, and BLM and the LGBT community have never been on the list. Not once. If the scammer had done a modicum of research to make his scam just a teensy bit less unbelievably stupid, he would have instead threatened to send threats and insults and threats with insults to All Lives Matter, police unions, bootlickers, anti-maskers, anti-vaxxers, Trump cultists, and Latter-day Saints who think their political views are the gospel. Even though most of those are the same person. One thing creeps me out a little, though - the reference to politicians from Europe. I've never told a soul about my profound distaste for Angela Merkel, so how did he know? I hope it was a lucky guess.
I don't know if there's a connection, but the same day I received this from one "Tom Sawyer", firstname.lastname@example.org, (IP address 220.127.116.11, South Bradenton, Florida).
There’s no such thing as high functioning autism you sick [redacted]. God said retards should be punished. Mormons are disgusting. You’re a retarded white supremacist. You’re ugly. I consume cock.
Oh no. Someone I've never met in South Bradenton, Florida, who obviously has fewer brain cells than fingers, doesn't like me very much. I may never recover from this crushing blow to my self-esteem.
I don't know if there's a connection, but someone hacked my Spotify account. They were apparently logged into it from another device, and every time I came back after a break from using it, it was playing some random single from 2019 or 2020, from some artist with no other tracks and no biographical information on the internet. Sometimes they were added to my Library or Liked Songs without my permission. An obvious money-making scheme, though from what I've heard about what Spotify pays artists, surely there are better money-making schemes available.
I don't know if there's a connection, but someone allegedly named Pablo Salcedo from Don Torcuato, Buenos Aires, Argentina hacked my Facebook account, sent himself a friend request, created a page called "Super discount toy shop", added himself as an admin on my Ads Manager, and ran ads for a post on the page which linked to a fraudulent website that purported to sell heavily discounted Nintendo Switches for Black Friday (which will, of course, fail to arrive). I know exactly who did this - or I know what profile he was using, at least, which may very well be fake. Yet Facebook provides no option whatsoever to report this. I can report that "someone" hacked me and take steps to secure my account (which I already did), but I can't report that this exact person is the one who hacked me and used my profile to run a scam, and that he should be removed from Facebook and reported to local law enforcement. I'm disputing the ad charges now - he actually used his own credit card, which was thoughtful, but I stupidly removed it from my Ads Manager so now Facebook is going to try to bill me on Monday and I'll be damned if I'm going to pay it.
Really, Pablo, is this what they taught you at Universidad Tecnológica Nacional Argentina and Instituto María Reina (Lomas del Mirador)? Surely you could put your hacking skills to better use, like making Trump's Twitter account say "Me gustan Mexicanos y Musulmanes."
For three weeks I had a sore throat and occasional dry cough that fluctuated in severity from day to day and hour to hour. At first I thought nothing of it, since the cold air and pollution often afflict me like that, but when it wouldn't go away I became concerned. I got tested twice. The first time I was told to stick the swab up my nose until I felt "resistance". I wish they had defined "resistance" more clearly, because I suppose I did feel a bit for just a moment but then the swab kept going until it felt like it would touch my brain, and it came out pink. A few days later when I got tested again in case the first test was wrong, they just said stick it up about an inch, and that direction was a lot easier to follow and a lot less unpleasant. I was then also able to participate in a blood test for Quansys Biosciences, which is planning to mass-produce a mail-order blood test kit and wanted to see if the instructions were clear. I was given a $20 gift card to "Stacked", a pancake restaurant that I've never been to and won't go to as long as Utah's case load continues to skyrocket.
For Thanksgiving this year, I stayed home and ate ravioli by myself because I'd like for my grandparents to still be alive next Thanksgiving. There were some people in town I could have hung out with, but I've seen how seriously most college students don't take social distancing and mask wearing when they aren't being forced to, so no. That's okay. I really enjoyed the time off school and work and I really enjoyed my roommates not being here for most of the day. Will things be better by Christmas? Not likely.
Now that the semester is almost over, I may get around to actually writing about my other two graduate school courses besides the teaching practicum. Let's start with "Rhetorics of Pedagogy", the class that I was told to take after I couldn't get into the class I was told to take, which was about Norse mythology and probably would have been a lot more fun. In this class we've been focusing on agency, the ability to choose. When I wrote my pretentious pseudo-intellectual blog post about agency a few months ago, I had no idea that agency is not just a philosophical or theological idea, but an actual subject of legitimate academic study and debate that strives to make it far more complicated than I ever imagined or think it actually is. But it turns out that agency is not just a philosophical or theological idea, but an actual subject of legitimate academic study and debate that strives to make it far more complicated than I ever imagined or think it actually is.
I know this now because for the first several weeks I had to read three or four academic papers every week and write dicussion posts about them. Before we began, Professor Jessica noted, "While some of you may have experience reading in the field of Rhetoric and Composition, I anticipate that it might be new for some of you. Anytime we enter a new discourse community through the activity of reading, it can be challenging to grasp the author’s entire argument. Because these scholars are writing to their peers in the field, they are expecting their audience to have ample prior knowledge. So, don’t worry if you feel like you’re grasping at some of the concepts. Just pay attention to what’s interesting to you and any initial interactions you notice. Please bring your questions to class, though; these will be great places for us to explore further as a group."
That didn't entirely assuage my concern that I only seemed to understand about ten percent of the material I was reading. Many times I read through three paragraphs of pompous academic gibberish, reached a clear sentence, and thought, "Oh, is that what you've been trying to say for the last three paragraphs? It seems pretty straightforward. Why were those last three paragraphs necessary?" And then I pieced together the parts I understood and write a discussion post, and then Jessica gave me full credit and gushed about how insightful it was and made me feel like an imposter. And then I went to class and talked about the readings and everyone else seemed to actually have some idea what they were talking about and made me feel like an imposter. It was only a matter of time before my classmate would hold a meeting and throw me out the airlock.
Here are some of the few things I retained.
Agency can be a co-production between two people - say, an orator and an audience - creating a feedback loop of kinetic energy between them, as one sends out a perturbation and the other decides what to do with it. The orator can choose to have an effect on the world, but not what that affect will be. Your agency is limited to choosing from among the options that are available and known to you, which are limited by your genetics, upbringing, knowledge, and so forth. Studies have shown that the brain impulse behind an action precedes the conscious decision to do that action, which is rather disturbing. One paper suggested that agency lies in the choice of whether or not to actually obey those impulses, and compared it to restructuring the brain away from addiction by choosing to garden instead when the addiction impulse comes.
Agency can become disseminated throughout a complex assemblage of people and non-human factors that takes on a life of its own so that no one person can be blamed for what happens. The example given in one paper was the assemblage that led to the blackout in August 2003, when a tree branch in Ohio caused fifty million people to lose power. The example I came up with for a class discussion was systemic racism - some white people don't believe in systemic racism because "I'm not racist and nobody I know is racist", but systemic racism is more more than the sum total of a minority of overt racists being overtly racist. It's more than a handful of police officers murdering black people. It's a complex and nebulous assemblage that's been constructed by actions, policies and institutions since at least the early 1400s, and the momentum of all those things, even after they're corrected on a case-by-case basis, will continue to self-perpetuate unless and until people actively push back against it. Our choice, then, is how to respond to whatever assemblages we find ourselves in. I really gravitated toward this idea because it sounds like chaos theory, which I know a lot about from the novel Jurassic Park, which describes it in much greater detail than the movie.
Some scholars insist that agency isn't even real, but is a necessary fantasy (yes, these fancy papers call it a "fantasy") in order for us to be able to function at all. Even if this were true, I'm not sure how this information would benefit anyone. If the fantasy is necessary, why ruin it for us? What are we supposed to do differently because we know this? Of course, if agency isn't real, no one can reasonably ever be punished for anything, but that's irrelevant too because we don't have agency to decide whether to punish them or not. At the risk of sounding anti-intellectual, and acknowledging the severe limitations of my own understanding of this topic, my lack of agency forces me to conclude that this theory is a load of bull.
A few weeks ago we transitioned away from these readings and started looking at more accessible, practical applications of agency in the classroom. For those who, like me, are graduate instructors looking toward a long-term teaching career, and also enjoy being able to comprehend more than ten percent of a given article, this was a real breath of fresh air. On the other hand, these readings added to the sense I've gotten from many of the readings in my practicum that seem to be saying, "All the traditional ways of teaching in this country suck and need to be completely overhauled, and that's your reponsibility now even though you literally just started and know nothing." I also learned that end-of-semester student course evaluations are almost useless because the students incorrectly ascribe all responsibility and blame for everything in the classroom to the teacher, failing to recognize the teacher's role as a facilitator of their own agency. Also, they judge female or less attractive teachers more harshly. I hate this planet. I wonder if my career will be ruined because I'm not attractive enough.
A couple things have made this class bearable. First, Jessica is the nicest person in the world. She creates a happy atmosphere even when I don't understand a word she's saying. One time, I completed an assignment but forgot to submit it, and didn't notice until a week later when she gave me a zero, and then I sent it to her and she gave me a perfect score even though it was a week late. This act of kindness made me want to do the same thing when one of my own students did the same thing. I don't want to be like that one guy in the parable who gets forgiven of a debt and then goes and yells at this other guy for another debt and then gets thrown in prison for being a dick.
Second, some of my fellow first year graduate instructors and practicum classmates are also in this class. After we transitioned in the readings, the online discussion posts were supplanted by a requirement to meet with pedagogy groups once a week, discuss them among ourselves, take turns submitting a report of the discussion, and facilitate a presentation/discussion once (originally twice, but Jessica cut it back because she's nice) with the whole class. At the beginning of the semester I signed up for a pedagogy group with my colleague Greyson, my colleague Elle, and some other woman named Jennifer. And then Jessica messaged us all on Canvas and said that someone had dropped the class, so would one of us mind moving to another group? And Greyson, Elle, and I were all like
Nothing personal against Jennifer whatsoever, but we were all relieved that she was the one who moved. So later in the semester, when it was time for the groups to actually start meeting, we stayed on Zoom for a few minutes after class to plan it out. I was happy to be with people I knew and loved, but already felt guilty that I would be no help to them at all and they would probably hate me by the end of the semester. The first chance I got, I told them that I felt like this class was way over my head.
Elle immediately responded, "Oh my G-d, yes!" And she said she felt like she only understood five percent of the material. So I felt a little better knowing that at least I'm twice as smart as her.
For my final project, I'm investigating a question that a few months ago I would have thought was a really stupid question: do fictional characters have agency? And the answer I'm leaning toward is that it entirely depends on your definition of agency, which is apparently up for debate. As a fiction writer I am of course familiar with the phenomenon of characters who seem to take on a life of their own and forge their own way through the story without me directing them. What's happening here, it seems, is that when an author really intimately understands a character, the character shifts from the conscious to the unconscious part of the author's brain, which instinctively knows what the character would say or do in any situation. Even when the conscious part wants the character to say or do something for the sake of the plot, the character may simply refuse, because the unconscious part knows they wouldn't say or do that. So there is certainly a loss of agency on the author's part, but does that agency transfer to the character (who isn't consciously making the decisions either), or is it just a net loss all around? That's what I think is debatable.
I also discovered that it's not at all uncommon for normal, non-delusional authors, who are well aware that their characters are fictional, to report feeling their presence, hearing their voices, and even holding full-blown in-person conversations and/or arguments with them. I had never heard of such a thing outside of a couple of movies, and obviously I'm not a very good author yet since I haven't experienced this. There have only been a couple of notable scientific studies on this phenomenon that I could find, one from 2003 and one from this year. They bring up some interesting hypotheses and possible connections to children with disobedient imaginary friends. Nothing conclusive, though. You'd think such an interesting topic would get more attention. But even if nothing cool like that ever happens to me, characters with their own real or perceived agency are a sign of well-developed characters and lead to more compelling stories than scripting out the entire plot beat by beat, so in my project I'll consider how to cultivate that in a hypothetical creative writing classroom. Jessica said I could. She's so nice.
This is also the class I mentioned where one of my classmates is the former owner of the horrible call center I worked at a few years ago. I just wanted to mention that.
Right now, most of USU's English 1010 classes meet via Zoom on Monday and Friday, and have online lessons and discussion posts via Canvas on Wednesday. When we were young, idealistic graduate instructors just starting out a few months ago, the online lessons were already there for us, but soon the training wheels were taken off and we had to create our own content. Luckily several of us developed a little Communist system where we take turns creating the content and sharing it with the others to use and modify as they see fit. This is the online lesson I created for this coming Wednesday to introduce the final major assignment. Mine is written in rather a different tone than anyone else's, which may prompt some of my colleagues' students to either wonder when their instructor got a sense of humor or what their instructor was smoking at the time, but I had to be true to my artistic vision and they can take it or leave it.
It’s very unlikely that you’ve made it to adulthood without becoming familiar with the concept of a remix as it pertains to music. A remix puts a twist on an existing song by adding, removing and/or changing elements to give it a fresh sound. Sometimes it’s even better than the original (e.g. the VNV Nation remix of Apoptygma Berzerk’s “Kathy’s Song”, the Enigma remix of Sarah Brightman’s cover of Hooverphonic’s “Eden”, or PBS’ official remix of the theme song to “Tiny Planets” which is a cute little show that you might be too young to have watched as a kid, to name a few).
A multimodal remix is the same concept, but you do it with an essay instead of a song as you adapt the concept to a new rhetorical situation. Simple, right?
“Multimodal” refers to the multiple modes of communication:
Linguistic - The way you use words, which obviously has been the heaviest focus in this class so far.
Aural - The way you use sound. Not so much a factor in this class so far unless you read your essays out loud.
Visual - The way you use images, such as the artifacts in your discourse analysis essays.
Gestural - The way you use gestures. You probably could have figured that out yourself.
Spatial - The way you arrange things in relation to each other.
Every artifact, even a simple essay, is multimodal. The essay, though primarily linguistic, also depends on the visual and spatial arrangement of the words. (Kassner 42-43) Almost every time I start a new Word document, the first thing I do is “Justify” the text because it just looks better than having the words align on the left and go all wonky on the right.
Since the multimodal remix is a new project, I don’t have any samples to demonstrate it. I would make one myself except I’m too busy with my own, not nearly as interesting stuff for my own classes. But let’s walk through what it might look like in theory.
Let’s look at one of the Investigating the Conversation sample essays, “Interactions Between Air Pollution and COVID-19”. I would have preferred almost any topic besides COVID-19, but both of the sample essays deal with COVID-19 so we’ll just have to make the most of it. I don’t know who wrote the sample essay so I’m going to refer to the author as “Camille” so I don’t have to say “the student” over and over again. Any similarities between my fictitious Camille and the actual author of this essay, living or dead, are entirely coincidental.
We have a few factors to consider in the remix: audience, medium, genre, topic, and purpose.
Audience - What original audience did Camille have in mind? Probably just her instructor. She was probably just looking to get a grade, which is fair. But suppose she thinks this information is important enough that now she wants to reach someone else with it - like, say, middle and high school students who will soon be inheriting the dumpster fire that their parents and grandparents have made of this planet. The rising generations need all the preparation they can get to tackle these problems.
You don’t have to start with the audience, but it may be easiest to do so and then let it guide the rest of your decision-making. In this case, Camille knows she’ll have to shift her approach to reach these kids more effectively. For starters, she’ll probably want to adopt a less formal tone and use all the latest slang and catchphrases. This will build ethos with her new audience by demonstrating how on fleek and hip to the jive she is.
Medium - What format will Camille use to present this information? Essentially everything we do right now is digital and/or online, but in the good old days, essays were written on paper. So let’s just pretend for a moment that this sample essay was written on paper. Camille considers taking a “hipster” approach and keeping the remix in a paper format, but she decides that’s too risky because some kids might find it pretentious and annoying. So she has to go digital because kids these days only access information on their Smartphones and iPads. Some of them probably don’t even know what a book looks like. Camille decides to stop thinking about it before she gets depressed.
Genre - This factor is easy to confuse with the medium. If I had been in charge of naming these factors, which I was not, I would have made them more distinct, but what’s done is done. Basically this one is just more specific than the medium. Within the world of digital content there are still hundreds, even thousands of options. Camille decides she wants to make one of those YouTube videos where the host mostly just talks with the camera pointed at her, but the video fast cuts after almost every sentence. Those are really popular with the kids for some reason. Maybe she’ll throw in some funny out-of-context clips from popular movies and TV shows to hold their attention even more. All the cool videos are doing that, right?
In this genre, Camille will still want to cite her sources, because a few of her viewers might already be smart enough to question where she’s getting her information before they take it seriously or pass it along. In that regard they’re probably smarter than their parents and grandparents. She may do this in the video itself, by having title cards at the end with sources listed, or just have each source pop up on screen while she’s talking about it. Or she could just put them in the description. She has some leeway here.
This genre will remix the primarily linguistic genre of her essay by throwing in a lot more of the visual, aural, and gestural modes of communication. As I visualize her hypothetical video in my mind’s eye, I see her talking with her hands a lot to add an energy to her words that simply isn’t possible in an essay. There could be a spatial mode as well - suppose she’s filming in her bedroom, so she makes sure it’s clean and the furniture is arranged for optimal feng shui.
Topic - Obviously, the topic is “Interactions Between Air Pollution and COVID-19”, but Camille doesn’t want to just sit there and read her entire essay, even with all the latest slang and catchphrases added in. That would be, like, so basic. She wants to approach it from an angle that’s relevant and interesting to her audience. In the essay she wrote, “I also discovered that this unprecedented drastic decrease in air pollution may lead to a change in policy and how emissions will be handled in the future now that we have seen what a difference it could make.” This seems like a good angle to focus and expand on, because children are the future. She could even start to brainstorm suggestions for them that she didn’t cover in the essay.
She might choose to tone down the dry science stuff - to still include it, of course, but in less detail and without lifting direct quotes from the sources. She wants the kids to understand it but she doesn’t want to bore their pants off, and because of the format she’s chosen, she isn’t constrained by trying to sound all professional. They can always check out her sources themselves if they want to go more in-depth.
Purpose - By now, the purpose in this particular scenario should be obvious enough. Camille wants to inform the rising generation and encourage them to change the world for the better. COVID-19 will eventually settle down and just be the new version of the common cold, at which point we can all relax and stop viewing each other as walking plague bombs, but we should take lessons away from it that will last for generations. How should we think about air pollution after this experience? Are there feasible permanent changes that can or should be made to our lifestyles for the good of the environment even when they aren’t being forced on us by a global health crisis? Should we go about disease prevention differently now that we know it can actually spread through air pollution? By the way, Cache Valley has really, really bad air pollution in the winter. Just a heads up.
Hopefully you get the idea of multimodal remixing. Now of course, if you’re more creative than me and Camille, you can do something less conventional. I’d give examples except I just said I’m not that creative. And even under current conditions, if you don’t want to restrict yourself to digital media, you can create a physical object of some kind and just make sure to photograph and/or film it sufficiently for me to understand. A cereal box - that’s an example I heard from someone else. You could write something educational and paste it over a cereal box to reach possibly an even younger age group. When I was a kid my mom used to buy these off-brand Cheerios and year after year, the back of the boxes were illustrated with facts about marine life. I don’t understand the relevance and I don’t understand why they never did anything else.
I hope you have some fun with this assignment!
2020 Election Reflection
I've brought politics up quite frequently in my class, because I'm teaching critical thinking and constructive discourse and looking at multiple sides of issues instead of constructing an echo chamber, and the way politics are conducted in the United States of America offers plenty of examples of how not to be like that. I also told my students multiple times that it's their civic duty to vote, and that writing in a vote for Mickey Mouse is better than not voting at all. Of course I've been very careful not to push any particular views or candidates and to maintain an illusion of neutrality. In contrast, this week I've openly discussed with several of my colleagues the self-explanatory fact that we didn't want Trump to win. I conveniently neglected to mention that I didn't vote for Biden either. Things might get ugly if they ever find out that I'm not liberal enough for academia, let alone an English department.
Of course, knowing that my candidate didn't have a chance because something something stupid self-fulfilling prophecy, I spent most of the week rooting for Biden, watching the electoral map and silently begging states to turn blue. I rejoiced with one of my colleagues from Georgia as we watched Biden close the gap on Trump and then surpass him, and along with other colleagues I sincerely congratulated her for her small role in making that happen. This wasn't like 2016 when, although I didn't vote for Trump at that time either, I actually thought he was a sliiightly better option than Hillary and was relieved when she lost. I'm not sure how I would have reacted ten years ago if you had told me that someday I would be elated to see a Democrat win the presidency. Life is funny. Of course, I meant to un-register from the Republican Party and re-register as Independent four years ago after it flushed its few remaining principles down the toilet, but I was unable to do that because I was too lazy. Now I've finally rectified that since I had to update my registration address anyway.
I started paying attention to Trump in mid-2015 when he said that vaccines cause autism and I decided he was stupider than dog vomit. From that moment on I've opposed him less because of politics per se than because of the kind of person (I use the term loosely) that he is. For five years I've had to watch a substantial number of people delude themselves and try to gaslight me that he's some kind of humble, God-fearing man and selfless civic servant; that the things he says and does are normal and acceptable. These people know as well as I do that he's a stain on humanity, but their mindless devotion to a political party has required them to pretend otherwise. As relieved as I am to have him gone, he still got elected once, and he still got almost half of the votes this time around. He's set a very, very bad precedent. There are essentially no standards of character, integrity or morality left to which we can hold future presidential candidates. If I had a son who talked and acted like Donald J. Trump, I wouldn't let him live in my home, but in the White House anything goes.
Hence my response to a self-righteous Facebook post by one of my friends who, though generally a great guy, is also yet another cultist (they're very common in Utah) who thinks the Republican Party is ordained of God. He said, "God instituted government for the benefit of mankind. Sadly, the majority have chosen a government that is leading us away from God." So I said, "I don't think Mr. 'Grab them by the pussy' was getting us much closer to God either." He was not amused.
My bad. I don't know why I jumped to the silly conclusion that electing a president of character, integrity or morality would have any relevance to whether a government leads us toward or away from God. And I'm sorry that Trump's words that I quoted were highly inappropriate. Fun fact: as vulgar as I can get sometimes, the only time I ever use the misogynistic p-word is when I'm quoting or paraphrasing the president of the United States, at which point censoring it to soften the impact of his (not my) statement seems disingenuous. I actually don't think his boasting about grabbing women's genitals was as bad as his proposal for "a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States", but the latter statement holds no shock value for most conservatives because they agree with it. Again, of course, I'm not saying Biden is the most stellar guy in the world, but I am calling out the hypocrisy of people who live in an alternate reality where Trump is second only to Jesus. (Or is it the other way around?)
I'm not the slightest bit concerned about Trump's legal challenges to the election results, even the minority that haven't been immediately dismissed. I don't think for a moment that this will be a repeat of the 2000 election where Al Gore won until Florida did a recount. For one thing, the race isn't nearly that close. It doesn't hinge on one swing state. Biden has 290 electoral votes to Trump's 214, and that's not even counting the 16 additional electoral votes that he'll probably get from Georgia after its mandatory recount. For another thing, Trump isn't making these accusations and lawsuits because he has actual evidence of widespread voter fraud. He's making them because he can't accept the fact that he lost, which everyone who knows anything about him at all saw coming a light-year away. He's desperately throwing out claims all over the place in hopes that something will stick, and his supporters are desperately trying to back them up. He's going full-on creationist here.
He'd have quite a time pulling together the support or infrastructure to carry out investigations in all these states, even if much of his own party looking at this and going "Ehhhh, dude, you should probably just get over it." On the grassroots level, though, his supporters have been circulating all kinds of stupid conspiracy theories and flat-out lies that can be debunked in less than a minute if you know how to use Google. If they had actual evidence, they wouldn't have to make up nonsense like "vOtInG mAcHiNeS cAn'T rEaD sHaRpIe." I certainly hope none of my students have any part in spreading these falsehoods, because I've taught them better than that. Trump is finished and he knows it. But I'm not even mad that the 74-year-old baby is throwing a temper tantrum. I hope he continues his temper tantrum up until the very end and has to be dragged from the White House kicking and screaming. Let him bring his four-year humiliation of this country to a spectacular finale.
Voting on state, county, and city officials is important too. I'm sorry to say that I left most of those blank on my ballot because who on Earth has time to research all those people? All the Republicans won anyway so it's fine. I did weigh in on most of the proposed constitutional amendments. All of them passed. Amendment A, which changes all mentions of "men" to gender-neutral language, seems at least fifty years overdue. Amendment C, which removes a clause that allowed "slavery or involuntary servitude" as punishment for a crime, seems at least one hundred fifty years overdue.
Some good news: the guys who flipped over a police car in Salt Lake City and set it on fire are now only facing community service and fines. They were previously facing life in prison, but after public backlash, the powers that be realized that punishing them worse than most rapists or murderers for destroying a generic, replaceable inanimate object isn't a good look. Of course some bootlicker on Facebook interpreted my statement that they shouldn't go to prison for life as saying that they shouldn't be punished at all, and said something stupid along the lines of "So your [sic] okay if we [who's "we?"] send you the bill for the car and the damage to the asphalt?" Not surprising, since these are the same people whose underdeveloped brains are incapable of making a distinction between "this person should be punished for breaking the law" and "this person deserves to be killed on the spot by police". And I was scared of what these people might feel emboldened to do if their president no longer had to worry about re-election.
I'm thinking back now to the Black Lives Matter protest I attended in early June. It was entirely peaceful except for a handful of conservatives (easily recognizable as the only people not wearing masks) who showed up to start arguments. And at one point a stereotypical redneck in a loud truck drove past, shook his fist out the window and yelled, "Four more years!" This despite the fact that our protest had nothing to do with Trump, which says a lot about the mindset of his supporters if they feel threatened by the radical leftist concept that police officers shouldn't be allowed to murder black people. I'm not going to go on gloating about this for a long time, especially since I didn't vote for Biden either, but I'm thinking of that guy now and I'm hoping that he's miserable.
Some bad news: As USU president Noelle Cockett mentioned in an email the other day, "Rising cases of COVID-19 in Utah are severely stressing health care systems, which is impacting the quality of care that sick individuals receive." In other words, the reckless behavior of selfish idiots who think science is a hoax is actively screwing other people over. I've already had to make the decision that if/when I get infected, I won't go to the hospital, even though I'll probably need to because I already have an inflamed throat that makes me cough for no reason when the temperature fluctuates. I won't go to the hospital because that will just burden them more and make it harder for someone else to get the treatment they need. I have to make this decision because a majority of the people in my state are selfish idiots, and I don't appreciate it. I'm sure it won't get better in the foreseeable future either, since I know thousands of Utah college students were out having Halloween parties with upwards of fifty people and few if any masks. Naturally our soon-to-be ex-governor hasn't done jack to actually enforce his public health mandates.
Yesterday was a very good day for me, the second happiest of this craptastic year from hell. But Trump is only the most obvious symptom of everything that's wrong with this country. We may have gotten rid of the bleeding, pus-filled lesion, but the cancer remains. And I only foresee it getting worse every four years. I'm seriously contemplating moving to another country after I graduate in 2022. I feel kind of drawn toward Germany. My German is steadily improving, and I've heard good things about Germany, like its election debates aren't painful and embarrassing to watch and it doesn't have the worst healthcare system in the developed world and it actually trains its police officers. The only issue is I'm not sure how many jobs would be available for me as a teacher of English composition and/or creative writing. Until I get that figured out, I will try to remain true to my eclectic views and be an equal opportunity offender by criticizing Biden. It's going to feel weird after so long and I'm sure he won't furnish me with as much material as Trump, but I'll see what I can do.
Also, I saw my neighbors' dog the other day and it turns out they didn't get rid of him after all, they just stopped leaving him in the backyard all day every day. I was happy to see him. I think he is a good dog at heart despite being really annoying when left in the backyard all day every day, and I worried that they might have just abandoned him somewhere. So that was nice.
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About the Author
C. Randall Nicholson is a white cisgender Christian male, so you can hate him without guilt, but he's also autistic and asexual, so you can't, unless you're an anti-vaxxer, in which case the feeling is mutual. This blog is where he periodically rants about life, the universe, and/or everything.