trolling amen zombies
Friday, December 12 2014
Late last night, I happened to notice Ramona after she'd come in from outdoors. She was acting funny and smelled of blood, though I could see nothing wrong with her except that her collar was missing. I figured she'd gotten into a neighbor's butchery scraps or something, which isn't a big deal. But I definitely wanted to find her collar if it could be found. Fortunately, it's a reflective collar, so it should be easy to spot at night when scouting around with a flashlight. I went looking for it but never found it.
This morning, Ramona was in the bed and seemed listless. Gretchen identified a few small injuries (they looked like small punctures) on her muzzle and near her left nostril. There was some swelling, but it didn't look too bad to me. Gretchen, however, was concerned enough to call Barbara, the woman we've used once before as a housecall vet. All she could do was leave a message.
This afternoon, that cheap socket 775 motherboard arrived, and I immediately hooked it up to see if it was going to work with my particular processors (it was supposed to, but you never know until it works). If working meant getting some sort of display on a monitor attached to the computer, well, it didn't work. I added a video card to see if perhaps the problem was with onboard video, but that didn't work either. So in desperation I swapped out the VGA video cable. At that point it worked. Indeed, the video cable had been the problem all along. That Foxconn DigitaLife motherboard I'd been so desperate to get working that I'd actually scrubbed it in the kitchen sink? It had been working the whole time! It's easy to assume a cable I pull out of a can of similar cables is just going to work, but that's just not so; a few weeks ago two different ethernet cables proved defective, and in a rage I cut them into segments so that no matter where they ended up I would never try to use them again. I didn't do that with the bag VGA cable; it's possible I can use the wire contained in it or even its connectors. So instead I wrote "BAD" several times on both of those connectors and threw it into my large container of electronic scraps (the place I go when I need an obscure capacitor or TTL integrated circuit).
This evening I noticed that Ramona had been lying listlessly on a chair near the woodstove all day. She'd reluctantly gone on the walk this morning, but she hadn't really moved since then. I looked at her muzzle and saw that the swelling was worse now and that there was pus coming out of that puncture wound down among her whiskers. I realized now that this morning I should have been more concerned. So I told Gretchen, and she immediately arranged an appointment at the Hurley vet tomorrow afternoon.
Meanwhile, Gretchen was preparing food for another Friday dinner party we'd be hosting. I'd done a minor vacuuming jihad, since that was my job, trying as best I could not to disturb Ramona. The nice thing about the Dyson vacuum cleaner is that it isn't very loud, and sometimes even Eleanor won't flee the room when I'm using it.
Our housecall vet Barbara finally got back to us at around the time our guests started arriving, so while they snacked on crackers and Chao cheese, Gretchen was on the horn with discussing Ramona's condition. Barbara's heart is in the right place, but she's kind overly-precise and Aspergery (she reminds me of Temple Grandin), and while it was clear to us that Ramona's only problem was an infection in her muzzle, Barbara was wondering if perhaps there was something else going on. She didn't think an infection could cause such pronounced listlessness. She had us measure Ramona's temperature, and of course our digital thermometer's battery died immediately after Gretchen had shoved its probe up Ramona's butthole. So there I was, finding a replacement and somehow installing while avoiding the its sullied tip. Had Ramona's temperature been above 103.5, Barbara would have had us take her immediately to the emergency vet. But because it topped out at 103.2, she thought we could instead deal with it by starting a course of antibiotics, which she proceeded to phone in to the Walgreen's in Uptown Kingston.
Hanging out with tonight's early arrivals, Deborah and Carrie, hadn't been fun so far; they'd been laughing and joking about various trivialities, and this clashed badly with my mood; I was feeling dour and concerned because of Ramona, and these feelings were intensified by a recreational dose of pseudoephedrine I'd taken earlier. It's also difficult for me to handle that sort of energy when I'm not drinking alcohol, but my new rules state that I cannot be the one to initiate drinking in a situation like this, and so far everyone was saying maddening things like, "That's okay, I just want a glass of water." So I was delighted to be the one to drive into Uptown to pick up Ramona's prescription.
It was surprisingly busy in the Walgreen's pharmacy line for 7:00pm on a Friday night. While waiting for Ramona's antibiotics to make it into the plastic bottle, I made a sport of guessing people's ages, something I could test because the pharmacist always asked for birthdates. A dumpy woman looked a little younger than me, and it turned out that she was born in 1972. I assumed a somewhat-less dumpy nosering-equipped millennial behind her was her daughter, but evidently they were unrelated. She was there to pick up a prescription for someone (her boyfriend?) born in 1991, and as she waitied, she nodded her head along to the most insipid pop music I'd ever heard. Evidently there's a SiriusFM station completely dedicated to lame contemporary pop, and it's what Walgreen plays in its stores to encourage shoppers to buy buy buy. Thankfully, the KissFM station (96.1 MHz) programmed into my car's radio plays significantly better music, though I don't know about that song by Taylor Swift about how haters are gonna hate hate hate hate hate. When the pharmacist asked for an age, I asked age of whom, and she said, "the patient." "It's a dog," I explained. So I never actually had to give an age, just an address. It's refreshing that in this increasing security and credential-obsessed world that it's still possible to pick up any prescription in any drug store just by knowing it exists, being willing to pay for it, and either knowing an address or a birthday.
I got home just behind Michæl (of Michæl & Carrie), who was arriving separately from his job down in Newburgh, where he'd been building sets (mostly making rocks from styrofoam) for the recent (and famous) live production of Peter Pan. The Peter Pan production is done now, and he'd brought some detritus from it: a three-foot-tall bouquet of plastic flowers and plants in a bamboo vase. It was somehow gaudy and gorgeous at the same time. The good thing about Michæl's arrival was that he did want a beer, so that meant (according to my rules) that I could finally have one too.
Then, somewhat unexpectedly, Susan & David arrived, having cut out early from a party at the Tee Shirt Factory in Kingston. We sat down for dinner, which centered around wedges of tempeh that had been deep fried in corn meal. By now my mood was well-suited to the barrage of punchlines and laughter.
I should mention that Ramona was low-key throughout the evening. Whenever people showed up, she did the polite thing, and got up from her spot in front of the stove to greet them. But she didn't jump up or do any of the usual energetic things she normally does. She'd do the greeting and then immediately return to her chair near the stove. And though both of the dogs Allou and Penny were in attendance, she didn't play with either of them. She just didn't have it in her. But at least by now we'd done something to help her; Gretchen had gotten her to swallow the first capsule of her antibiotic course.
It turned out that everyone at tonight's party had come in separate cars, meaning that there were eight cars in our driveway (this includes the Honda Civic Hybrid, which the woman who'd bought it had yet to drive away). Since I'd returned with the antibiotics behind Michæl, I was parking all but two of our visitors in. It was such a jam in our driveway that when one person decided to go, it made sense for everyone else to go too. Suddenly our party ended at around 9:30pm.
My drinking rules for nights when people had been visiting hadn't been entirely hammered out, and, since I was on pseudoephedrine, I decided to bend them to allow me to keep drinking even after everyone had gone. This was an easy slippery slope to go down, since I drank the first of my additional drinks openly in front of Gretchen, as if the party had kept going with just us two. But then I started watching Gold Rush and drinking by myself as I had been doing in the recent bad old days. Still, I could justify it to some extent. Perhaps my rules about drinking don't apply at all on nights when people come over and drink. As I said, the rules hadn't been fully-articulated. And what would be harm? I wouldn't be able to drink at all tomorrow in any case, even if I abandoned all control tonight.
I ended up smoking pot and hanging out in front of my computer until the wee hours of the morning, not wanting this rare night of drinking to end. That's one of the dangers of my rules. On the few nights that I allow myself to drink, I won't feel like I'm living them to the fullest unless I stay up late and drink an absurd amount. But I will say this at least: the drinking felt good when I was doing it. It didn't feel like an obligation or a way to communicate to myself that I was having fun. It was fun. And that's really all I ask of my alcohol. That's what all these rules have been engineered to achieve.
My gradual reading of the book in the 33 1/3 series entitled Bee Thousand (named after the Guided by Voices album of the same name) has me listening to certain Bee Thousand songs over and over again. It's also given me a renewed appreciation for the genius of Robert Pollard. Tonight under the influence of marijuana, I realized that the genius I've detected in Robert Pollard lies more in his subconscious than it does in the person one sees interviewed or bantering on stage. As a musician, he is literally guided by voices. Though what he writes and sings often comes across as nonsense, that stuff is full of passages of brilliant pathos or emotional insight ("Watch me bulldoze every bulldozer away," "Parallel lines on a slow decline," or "Aerosol halos---films of the flag"). Often it's vaguely shocking and/or sexual, but it never reveals a subconscious that I wouldn't want to drink a beer with. Indeed, Robert Pollard's subconscious is about the coolest person I can think of. He's definitely cooler than that dork executing high kicks on stage. In reading the book Bee Thousand, I'm realizing that there is connection between the light editing that produces those brilliant lyrics and the light editing that produces the noisy glitch-filled recordings. If this stuff spent longer in production, those lyrics would be smoothed out and corrected in ways that would neuter them of their accidental brilliance. The same would happen with the production of the songs. I remember the first time I heard Guided by Voices on WXJM, the college radio station broadcasting from James Madison University. That would have been early in 1995, and, before I knew who it was, I thought it might be outtakes of Beatles jam sessions, but there was something delightfully modern hidden in there (I think it was the occasional obscenities) that gave it all away as something completely new. The noisy quality of the production played a huge rule in my immediate love for the music, and I think that's because it has some of the subconscious brilliance that the stream-of-conscious lyrics do. All that stuff is lost by the process of expensive production. I'm gradually becoming more and more aware of how important the subconscious is in every aspect of human brilliance, and how quickly it can be ruined by the intervention of conscious thought. I've definitely noticed the power of my own subconscious. Some of the most brilliant things I've ever uttered had not been known to my consciousness for more than a tenth of second. And I've watched in horror as my consciousness systematically destroyed the brilliance of my subconscious, particularly when I'm overworking a painting.
One thing that's fun to do when drunk and stoned is to troll the many idiots of Facebook. There are, of course, the right wing idiots with their insistence (say) that there is no such thing as white privilege or the religious idiots who refuse to do the rudimentary mental work necessary to understand how evolution works. But tonight I focused on a different sort of idiot: religious zombies. These are the people who see an ugly meme consisting of praying hands and a tired old expression about faith through Jesus Christ and all they can think to do is type "AMEN." And so they do: hundreds of people, all typing the same thing. Though it's completely harmless and shouldn't anger me, it does nevertheless. There's something in me that blames mindless conformity as the root of all humanity's problems. The impulse to just repeat what everyone else is saying is a basic raw material of fascism. When I see it happening, I just want to make it stop. By any means necessary.
I've tried all sorts of techniques to interrupt long threads of Amens. But praises for Satan and screeds blaming the poor for their lack of money go completely ignored. And they're soon lost in the fast-flowing river of Amens. If anything useful could ever be achieved by typing Amen, believe me, it would have been achieved by now. That is one resource that America is extremely rich in.
Today, though, I took a different approach. One of my trollish friends had posted a creepy picture of a baby that had been finely knitted with caucasian-colored yarn. It had been so well done that I startled on seeing it; it lay in an uncomfortable part of the uncanny valley and fired the deformity circuits in my brain. I realized at that point that the image was a powerful one, so I made a graphic showing a composite of the knitted baby using all the best parts I could find from two different photos and labeled it "This baby has a terrible skin condition" and included (as I often do for my troll Suzy) a picture of Suzy's head intruding into the frame with a word bubble coming out, in this case announcing the formula "1 Like=1 Prayer." I should say that the trope of a fake deformed baby and with the label "1 Like=1 Prayer" is not something I invented; it comes from the Christians for Michele Bachmann branch of the Facebook Trolliverse. But I don't know that such a picture has ever been posted in a group occupied by a bunch of Christian Amen-posting zombies. So that was where I posted it. I expected it to be ignored or immediately taken down, but, amazingly, that didn't happen. Instead, people responded in the zombie way that they do for pictures of babies with, say, tumors instead of foreheads. They posted that they were praying, "poor thing," or they asked for God (the presumed author of this monstrosity) to heal the baby. It wasn't until the tenth post that someone wrote that the baby didn't look real. But, as when I'm hailing Satan, that post was soon lost in a stream of other zombies posting prayers for the knitted baby. Gradually, though, there were more and more people posting that the baby looked like a knitted doll, so I (acting as Suzy) fought back by typing nonsense zombie things such as "PRAYERS" and "AMEN" so as to scroll these messages of doubt beyond where new visitors could see them. In this way, I was using all the things that make these prayer threads so awful as my allies in keeping my thread current and active. [Despite the absurdity of the thread, it managed to survive for more than three days, garnering well over 700 likes and being shared at least 23 times, counting as my second-best Facebook trolling ever.]
I should mention that I do feel a little bad for pulling such a stunt on these people. They may not be the smartest people on Earth, but they don't mean any harm. They honestly believe that by praying and typing "Amen," they can do good in the world (and then go back to watching television with a clear conscious). That I find their sheeplike behavior infuriating reflects more on me than it does on them. Perhaps I should have found someone more deserving to torture, but for whatever reason tonight I picked them. And, as with all sadism, it was fun.
By the time you read this, the thread requesting prayers for a knitted baby will probably no longer exist. So I've created a mirror of it.
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