Trump Deports Margaret Cho


panda1American born, LGBT activist and rumored comedienne Margaret Cho has been deported to China in what Cho’s representative calls a misguided and racist miscarriage of human rights by the Trump administration.

Wait a minute. Pandas aren’t Korean. And Margaret Cho isn’t terribly funny, either. So, let me double-check my facts.

The difference between a panda and Margaret Cho is that I would cuddle with a panda after sex…and pandas are funny.

Donald Trump isn’t the first president to fight the treachery of China. You have to go all the way back to Richard Nixon’s visit to China and their white elephant gift of “loaning” the United States two pandas.

The National Zoo in Washington, DC has shipped a three-year-old panda, named Bao Bao, to China. In one of life’s magnificent ironies, Bao Bao the panda is the only instance of the United States exporting something to the Celestial Kindgom.

Expect this panda’s anchor baby to sponsor his family for US citizenship in the next few years.

Bao Bao the pampered panda is traveling by air in a crate the size of a double bed, so he can stretch out and relax, while his personal keeper and veterinarian keep up a constant stream of bamboo over the sixteen-hour, non-stop flight. The last thing you want is an animal that eats thirteen to sixteen hours a day to get cranky from hunger pangs.

I hope I’m reincarnated as a panda. I can’t get my company to pay for business class.

The Chinese are a clever people. They invented gunpowder and silk and noodles and border walls. They invented trickery, too. Their slanty eyes and bucked teeth are a government sponsored cosmetics surgery program specifically designed to get the round-eyes of the world to drop their guard.

panda2What other explanation is there? The damn Chinese tricked the country into establishing a breeding program for their pandas.

Pandas are the vegans of the animal world. These picky sons-of-bitches not only refuse to eat anything besides bamboo, but they’ll only chow down on two of the eighty-six varieties.

If my kids were as picky eaters as pandas, they’d starve.

Pandas are one animal that should have gone extinct years ago. They deserve to die out. Not only because pandas are more difficult to feed than a lactose intolerant, gluten sensitive, vegan albino with irritable bowel syndrome, the furry beasts won’t breed to save their species.

Search the internet all you like. There are only a handful of photos depicting real, live pandas mating, and I suspect they are different angles of the same pair. They’re terrible at it. I found more photos of people dressed as pandas having sex, which was disturbing in itself and something I discourage everyone from seeking out.

It’s easier to get white millennials to reproduce with each other than convincing pandas to get it on.

The San Diego Zoo has three of the remaining dozen pandas in the United States. I assume they are the same trio I never managed to see in the decade I lived in the area. It wasn’t for lack of trying. My family had annual combo-passes to the zoo and Wild Animal Park for at least half that time, so we went frequently to get my money’s worth. Each visit to the zoo included a trip to the panda enclosure, but luck was never with us. Our timing was always bad. The pandas were always at a vet appointment or a field trip or in time-out for biting a zookeeper on the ass.

Until one day, when we caught a break.

Past the signs admonishing visitors not to speak above a whisper on pain of being tasered by zookeepers, Mrs. Cunha and I passed out animal crackers (oh, the irony) and jugs of Bug Juice to the kids to keep them muzzled. In harsh tones and stern looks from video monitors, generic Asians in Mao jackets explained that pandas are sensitive, artistic animals, easily triggered into fits of PTSD by sudden movements, loud farts, and presentation of conflicting opinions.

These snowflake pandas are as bad as Antifa feminists at a Milo Yiannopoulos university speech.

Approaching the rail that overlooked the panda enclosure, our hearts buoyed at the prospect of finally seeing a God-damn panda. What we found was a plywood cutout of a panda holding a sign that read, “Sorry, folks. We’re feeling under the weather.” Clearly, this was a common enough occurrence the zoo people went to the trouble of making a reusable, long lived sign.

I ran down the nearest khaki safari outfit to express my dismay and displeasure at the dearth of pandas in the panda display.

If I had my way, we’d turn every one of those pandas into bathrobes and invite the nearest Chinese embassy to the Panda-B-Q that Sunday.

The perky young, blonde information kiosk confided the pandas weren’t really ill. Ping Pong was heat, so they penned her up with Ding Dong in the hopes a romantic afternoon together would encourage them to start pumping out little pandas. However, I was in luck, because a Panda Cam had just been installed in their little love nest.

panda3After schlepping the kids from the other end of the county to trod an asphalt midway in the summer son, the thought of voyeuring queer pandas in night-vision over the internet in the hopes they do some panda stuff was not high on my bucket list.

Even if I want my kids exposed to panda porn, I’m sure there are more efficient ways.

That’s why the Chinese kick our ass in trade. They take poorly camouflaged cousins to raccoons with the dietary requirements of a kosher anorexic and convince America to create a breeding program for animals so blasé about the survival of their kind they can hardly be bothered to screw.

If Donald Trump wants to make America great again as much as he claims, he will deport the rest of those alien pandas and their anchor baby cubs. That will teach China. Let them breed their own pandas.

And send Margaret Cho with them, for good measure.

 

3Thank you to every one of my readers for coming back week after week. The content on this website is free to access, but does take resources to produce. Please visit my Patreon account to see what I have in the works and consider becoming a supporter. Patronage will get you additional content, behind the scenes access, goodies not available on the main site, and unique Thank You gifts for support.

L'homme Theroux CoverIf you’d prefer something more tangible in return for supporting my work, please preview my novel L’homme Theroux and consider purchasing it, if you enjoy the sample chapters.

Send in the Clowns


clowns1This week’s clown sighting in the woods behind my children’s grammar school caused a panic induced, district-wide lock-down and a roaming mob of concerned, armed parents, supported by local law enforcement authorities, to scour the county searching for a man in clown makeup.

Reports from witnesses told of the clown doing everything from peeking out from behind a tree, to offering children fee candy from a nondescript, windowless van, to ritually sacrificing a puppy.

Coulrophobia is the fear of clowns.

The only leg-pull in the above description is the exact location. As far as I know, there have been no clown sightings in my end of the Tennessee Valley, but with the scary clown hysteria sweeping the country, I expect to be recruited into an insane clown posse any day.

Hopefully, I won’t go insane in the membrane.

I’ve long held the opinion that eyewitness accounts are the least reliable form of evidence. This is especially true when the witness is also the victim. Pain, adrenaline, shock, and emotional stress screw up perception and the mind’s ability to accurately recall the most basic of details.

Disregard the mountains of research that clearly demonstrate everybody sucks at accurate detail recollection in stressful situations. Ask your favorite cop how often a witness’s description of anything is accurate.

It’s not that they’re lying. They’re just plain wrong.

We labor under a cultural assumption that children are accurate relaters of information and possess astute observational powers. It’s as if we believe children are born with clairvoyance that diminishes as they approach majority.

That’s hogwash. Children are sneaky, devious liars who relish opportunities to embarrass adults by innocently blurting out gems such as, “My baby brother was an accident” or “Mommy and Daddy are buying me a pony for Christmas. They’re hiding all the leather tack gear in the closet.”

You’ll get a pony the day I get peace in this house.

Children are not allowed to make important decisions in their lives precisely because they lack experience, the ability to accurately discern, and a wider contextual understating of the world. In short, they’re ignorant of most things, and to take what they say at face value, without rigorous scrutiny, corroborating testimony, and physical evidence, is parental foolishness.

Now, that I think about it, we should probably disregard the vast majority of what children say because it’s mostly whining. Entertaining their petty grievances and indulging their fantasies only encourages them in their neuroses. Try telling my grandfather there was a clown lurking in the woods. You’d be lucky to only be laughed at. More likely, the response would be, “Then don’t go near it, stupid.”

clowns4Harsh? Perhaps, but still sublime. Somewhere along the line, we decided the only letter’s that should not be appended to a gentleman’s name on his calling card are M, A, and N.

Post-secondary education produces exactly the opposite of what it claims. Today, college only makes people dumber. The same founts of idiocy that have given society safe spaces and trigger warnings, also turn out educators, administrators, and civic officials who will shut down an entire school district on a child’s say so.

Doesn’t anybody besides me remember the McMartin preschool case and how many lives were ruined by false testimony from children?

How many IQ points are sacrificed with each tuition check written?

The creepy clown craze has grown from a few isolated instances of idiots to a full-blown hysteria. Schools are prohibiting clown masks during Halloween. Various local police are arresting people in clown costumes for disturbing the peace, inciting public disorder, or whatever catch-all law their jurisdiction uses to deal with low-grade troublemakers.

Most of the arrests are of teenagers getting their kicks scaring younger kids. It’s deplorable behavior, but pretty much what I’d expect from a teenage boy. Whom I really feel for are the honest-to-goodness, no-kidding, professional clowns, who spend years perfecting their craft, only to see their bookings evaporate. That’s the real crime, destroying someone’s livelihood.

If your age ends in “teen,” it’s an open question as to whether you should be counted as a human being or not.

According to spokesfool Josh Earnest, the White House has consulted with the FBI and Department of Homeland Security about how to handle creepy clowns.

Holy crap. Dig up J. Edgar Hoover because this just became a federal case right up there in magnitude with bank robbery, human traffickers, underage prostitution, child pornography rings, and ISIS trying to cut our heads off.

Since when are assholes in greasepaint such a big problem?

clowns2A quick look around the internet reveals the growing counter-hysteria of videos depicting what can be classified as just deserts for clowns behaving badly. These videos show what I would imagine is a non-professional clown who approaches someone going about his day and behaving in one of those disorderly manners that would earn them arrest by a policeman. Basically, being a jackass.

The person or persons approached, either out of what seems genuine fear or simply not being in a mood to be screwed with, knocks the tar out of the clown.

And I can’t say as I blame them. Most people have no desire to be drawn into someone else’s silliness. If you’re stupid enough to go around antagonizing strangers, don’t be surprised when they express their displeasure strongly.

If you’re gonna be dumb, it helps to be tough.

Here is my wild-assed theory: This whole creepy clown hysteria is a viral marketing campaign spun out of control.

My first thought was the campaign was connected to Stephen King’s IT movie adaptation. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and television mini-series. However, with a release date of September 2017, the timing seems off. Hysterical clown sightings for nearly a year seems to be too long to ask to hold the public’s attention.

Besides, both Stephen King and the film’s distributor, New Line Cinema, are established names with enough budget for a traditional marketing campaign and stand to lose far more than they gain when it foreseeably spins out of control the way it has.

clowns6Just like Youtube, Coca-Cola, and Apple, Stephen Kind and New Line Cinema are such dominant players in their fields with such broad general appeal that avoiding alienation of a segment of society is more important that thrilling and impressing a tiny target demographic; i.e., horror movie fans.

Rob Zombie, on the other hand, is a better candidate for wild accusations. His latest movie, 31, is clown-centric and was released September 16th of this year.

Hummmmmm. Law enforcement types call these things “clues.”

clowns5A well-known, but far from household name, movie maker releases a horror movie set in a circus, chock-full-o’-clowns, right at the same time dumbasses in clown costumes begin making benign appearances standing near trees and skittish, overprotective parents hit the panic button, setting off a national frenzy that makes it to the White House and much of the English-speaking world.

Well played, Rob Zombie. Well played.

Starting November first, bearded men in buckskins and Indians wearing loincloths will begin making public appearances to promote my book, L’homme Theroux and generate pre-release interest in Little Crow’s War, the next installment in the Coureur des Bois series.

What the hell. It worked for that other guy.

 

 

 

3Thank you to every one of my readers for coming back week after week. The content on this website is free to access, but does take resources to produce. Please visit my Patreon account to see what I have in the works for the homestead and consider becoming a supporter, which gets you additional content, behind the scenes access, goodies not available on the main site, and unique Thank You gifts for support.

L'homme Theroux CoverIf you’d prefer something more tangible in return for supporting my work, please preview my novel L’homme Theroux and consider purchasing it, if you enjoy the sample chapters.

Thank God, I’m a Loser


winloss1Losses in life tend to outnumber the wins. Hopefully, the big defeats are few and widely separated, but the little losses, the tiny humiliations and minor ignominies, come along in a steady patter. They are what Hamlet meant when he talked about suffering the slings and arrow of outrageous fortune.

The huge victories like a Powerball jackpot or a Super Bowl championship are elusive things that only happen to other people. The rest of us rednecks, who make up the unwashed masses, have to dial back our expectations and settle for our most jubilant moments to be landing a new job or the birth of a child.

Life is an eighty year long series of kicks in the nuts. The only variable is how long you live.

That bar may have to be set even lower in the future. It won’t be too long before the rest of my children have left the nest, and as ornery as I’ve grown, there aren’t too many employers willing to keep me around for very long. Animal husbandry-related births and discovering the chicken coop wasn’t blown down by a windstorm will have to suffice as moments of triumph from here on out.

I’m willing to take small victories wherever I can. Maybe it’s a function of growing older.

My youngest son has pestered his mother and I to let him play football for the past several years. Our reluctance had nothing to do with the prospect of physical injury to the lad. If I were to tell the truth for a change, the twerp could use a good knocking around by someone not related to him.

Our sticking point was the cost involved just to indulge a teenager’s fantasy of O.J. Simpson touchdowns and Mark Gastineau sacks. My wife and I know the reality more closely resembles a rendition of The Miracle Worker with Helen Keller as captain and the remainder of the squad made up of her less coordinated clones.

I try not to pick on the mentally handicapped, but if the protective helmet fits, I’m gonna point you toward the short bus.

Now that he attends a school with a football team, complete with issued equipment, a coach, and a field to play on, Mrs. Cunha and I relented to Carlos, Jr.’s pleas to become a gridiron warrior.

They are currently sitting on a two and two record, but I’d prefer to see them closer to zero and four.

The desire to see my son lose has nothing to do with my win record in school sports. I had one season each of basketball, football, rugby, and track, where I threw shot put and discus. We went undefeated in rugby, broke even in basketball, and had exactly one win in football.

In a school so small that we only had a varsity track team, and still had trouble mustering enough runners for relay events, I came in dead last in two events every single meet. Each Friday for four months, I had my ass handed to me by kids who had their throwing technique down far better than I did.

My parents, bless their hearts, would ask how I did after every meet. I don’t think they meant to poke at fresh wounds, but I still felt like a loser having to admit defeat, yet again.

Losing might suck, but winning only makes you suck more.

Me and defeat are old drinking buddies. We’ve spent so much time in each other’s company, I’m surprised we’re not engaged. I’ve failed so often and consistently, I plan on failure and am surprised when things don’t go sideways.

I caught the tread of my boot on a door threshold about a week ago and took a tumble down a four-inch step. Even in my creeping middle age, my body still remembers how to take a fall.

Despite tumbling headlong onto cement, I sustained only a bruised toe and a thumb-size scrape on my elbow. The to-go container I was carrying at the time didn’t even pop open. I kept that sucker up out of harm’s way like an infantryman holding his rifle aloft while fording a river.

The little wins in life are the sweetest.

There’s another point to this story of my clumsiness; expect to fail. Then get up and keep moving.

Some of my more recent failures include:

These are only a few of my screw-ups that come to mind from the past year or so, and don’t even touch on the curve balls life throws just because it can. Luckily for me, I’m such an experienced loser that I hardly notice anymore. My kids, on the other hand, could use a little more practice; especially, my youngest son.

Maybe it was the years of holding back while playing board games, so as to not crush their little spirits. Perhaps, I should have let them fall out of a few more trees. God knows, nearly being trampled to death by a milk cow was a defining moment in my young life.

However, a trip to the Emergency Room is a lot more expensive than it was thirty years ago. I suspect my children would be whisked off by Child Protective Services, if they showed up to the Emergency Room as frequently as my brother and I did.

Most families don’t know the Emergency Room nurses well enough to include them on the mailing list for the family Christmas newsletter.

Winning is a great feeling, but it’s not very instructive, in the grand scheme of things. Thinking about it, winning doesn’t even teach how to be a “good winner.” If it did, winning coaches wouldn’t have to remind their little turds to be magnanimous during the post-game high-fives and “good game” lineup.

I spent this summer working Carlos, Jr. like a rented mule. Not only could he not maintain pace with a fat, old man, but he bitched and moaned the whole time. There’s only so much whining about the uselessness of homestead skills I can stand before giving in to the urge to hit him with a shovel. Apparently, sunrise to sunset does not match up with a teenager’s circadian rhythm.

The fatal flaw of teenagers is their tendency to believe in skills and abilities they don’t possess.

Carlos, Jr. showed up to football practice full of more hubris than most fourteen-year-olds. I’ll admit the kid has speed, but that’s about the only natural talent the boy’s got. As near as I can tell, he’s not even in the top half of the team, on an individual skill basis. He also seems to think it’s everyone else’s job to make him shine.

After months and months of disabusing the boy of his notion that wealth and celebrity are a mere bus ride to Hollywood away, the new route to riches and glory is paved with professional sports.

My son is the best player on the team. Just ask, and he’ll tell you so.

Lacking a survey of the team, I can’t be certain, but something tells me they disagree with the boy’s self-assessment. I know a cheap shot and an intentionally missed block when I see one, and so do the coach and Mrs. Cunha, but some lessons can only be taught by a child’s peers.

Hopefully, each bruise and slam into the turf is another of life’s little losses that teaches him how to win with some grace. The cumulative weight of all these little losses has yet to break the ice of understanding, but I’m hopeful. A losing season would hurry that process along.

After two losses in a row, my son became dejected and considered quitting because his talents weren’t employed effectively.

Jesus Christ. It’s always somebody else’s fault, isn’t it?

Judging by his black eye and a bruise pattern that reminds me of a cheetah, I think his reluctance to continue has more to do with the unofficial peer learning process than it does resource mismanagement by the coach.

Mrs. Cunha and I probably took a little more pleasure than we should have when his face dropped at being told he was going to finish out the season. It drooped even farther when informed we expected him to play through high school, as well.

It’s the little losses in life that are most instructive.

 

 

 

3Thank you to every one of my readers for coming back week after week. The content on this website is free to access, but does take resources to produce. Please visit my Patreon account to see what I have in the works for the homestead and consider becoming a supporter, which gets you additional content, behind the scenes access, goodies not available on the main site, and unique Thank You gifts for support.

L'homme Theroux CoverIf you’d prefer something more tangible in return for supporting my work, please preview my novel L’homme Theroux and consider purchasing it, if you enjoy the sample chapters.

Advertiser Friendly Censorship


youtube4The free flow of information from Youtube content providers might be coming to an end; only partly, due to political correctness, but mainly due to the greed of all participants.

Just ahead of the long Labor Day weekend, Youtube began informing content providers that specific videos they have uploaded were demonetized because they violate the Youtube Terms of Service agreement. If the term “demonetization” doesn’t mean anything to you, allow me to explain by way of defining the opposite.

“Monetization” is the Holy Grail of all internet content producers.

It’s a badge of success for having the ability to generate a reasonably large amount of internet traffic. The content producer’s thoughts and ideas have a broad reach and enough resonance with an audience that people are willing to come back for more.

And a little cash in the producer’s pocket doesn’t hurt, either. As a matter of fact, some folks on Youtube manage to make a living from the cut of advertising dollars their content garners. It’s good work, if you can get it, but posting videos of a buddy and me kicking each other in the nuts seems like a weird way to make a buck.

Besides, my mind wanders into weird places and my vocabulary is entirely too colorful for polite company. Everyone is probably better off that I stick to the written word, where opportunities to edit and rephrase abound. Freedom of speech is great, but getting off a watch-list is a huge pain the ass that I’d rather not deal with.

Writers don’t often get in hot water for what they write. They get in trouble for what they say in interviews.

Luckily for me, I never jumped onto the Youtube bandwagon. I’m a homesteader with a writing problem. Despite owning a picturesque farm and possessing ruggedly handsome good looks, the content I produce doesn’t lend itself well to video. Writing weekly articles, producing novels, making sure the farm doesn’t go to hell, and holding down a regular job keep me busy enough that the thought of plastering my mug all over Youtube blathering on about God-knows-what-all makes me want to curl up into a ball with a bottle of single-malt and a bucket of ice.

youtube3Despite the foot stomping and cries of “censorship” from content providers, there hasn’t been a change in the Youtube Terms of Service. Rather, it’s a combination of Youtube informing content providers that the rules are being enforced and the hubris of the content providers themselves.

 In a similar dilemma, I’m giving serious consideration to abandoning Twitter entirely because I don’t see the return on effort expended as worth it.

Every piece of media produced, whether it be a movie, book, video, novel, article, etc., requires resources to both produce and deliver. Those of us silly enough to believe the things we produce have value to people outside our immediate circle of family and friends undertake the endeavors with varying levels of belief strangers will find out products sufficiently valuable that they will be compelled to reach into their wallets and hand over a couple of dollars.

Every writer, farmer, artist, craftsman, and storyteller since the beginning of time cherishes each laugh, gasp, ooh, and aah at what they produce. Unfortunately, those expressions of enjoyment suffer from a poor exchange rate.

Part of that springs from a generalized idea that everything on the internet should be free. No one is immune from the phenomenon. I’m just a guilty as you are.

Getting me to part with a dollar is as tough as convincing Hillary Clinton to send air cover to Benghazi.

Convincing people to unclench their fists from around their bankroll is never an easy task. Starbucks and Apple seem to have figured out that magic formula, but the vast majority of producers of ephemeral delights don’t have that sort of mojo.

The difficulty in getting people to part with their hard-earned ducketts is compounded when the product is not tangible. How exactly do you value words, sounds, and images?

The goal of radio and television has often been described as keeping the customers attention between blocks of advertisement. Youtube is no different. Neither is Facebook or WordPress (where you are very likely reading this) different. While I don’t receive monetary benefit from the ads you see at the bottom of the page, make no mistake they serve a purpose. That purpose is to cover the costs of delivering the “free” content.

Your mother was right. There is no free lunch.

Believe me when I say that I would happily take a piece of the advertising action, if I could deliver a big enough pool of readers who hang on my every word to quit my day job and concentrate of writing about homesteading full-time. Alas, I don’t.

youtube5While I pretty much suck at what I do, there is an elite strata of content producers who have managed to parlay their popularity into gainful employment. Some have attained their level of success for reasons that elude me, but ultimately, it comes down to eyeballs.

Folks who work in marketing departments probably have fancy words like “demographic reach” or some such made up term to describe the ability the convince a group of people to buy something.

With that in mind, I’m total open to saying your crappy product is the best there is or ever will be, as long as a check is included with the sample product.

Youtube is a refuge for content producers who are unable to marry into money, but are still gold-diggers at heart. Just like politics is Hollywood for the ugly, making a living on social media platforms is like a gentlemen’s club outside the gates of a Navy base.

It’s the very lowest end of a seedy industry with no real hopes of advancement, but it’s a rollicking good time while you’re there because the few rules in place aren’t really enforced.

By now, you may have asked yourself exactly why I care about any of this Youtube fiasco, since I’ve already admitted that I’m neither part of that producer community nor beneficiary of the advertising revenue stream.

Aside from envy due to my lack of success, I have a small dog in the fight. I aspire to make money using a similar model and frequently hold unpopular opinions, which in the marketplace of ideas seems to give license for all manner of personal attacks that have little to do with whatever issue is at hand.

I’ve been called a racist so often that I’ve started to believe there somewhere exists a mural of me and Nathan Bedford Forrest embracing, while David Duke stands in the background wearing a Klan robe, waving a Confederate battle flag, and curb-stomping Martin Luther King, Jr.

Youtube demonetizing videos has less to do with violating Terms of Service than it does with advertisers caring about their image. It’s tough to blame them. Advertisers are ultimately concerned with maximizing the sales of their product and won’t risk alienating any segment of the purchasing public, which is to say, anyone with a dollar in their pocket. Free speech has little to do with it.

youtube2Every time a celebrity gets in some sort of trouble, whether it’s Bill Cosby, Ryan Lochte, or R. Lee Ermy, their corporate sponsors are the first to abandon them. Advertisers are smart enough to understand that consumers aren’t very bright and seem to make sport of product boycotts for the most trivial of reasons.

How many millions of dollars in lost revenue or percentage of lost market share can the right viral boycott cost a Fortune 500 company? None are willing to find out for certain.

In an effort to make themselves attractive to the really big advertising money, Youtube is tightening its definition of “advertiser friendly.” The broad categories of what is not advertiser friendly don’t seem unreasonable:

  • Sexually suggestive content, including partial nudity and sexual humor.
  • Violence, including display of serious injury and events related to violent extremism.
  • Inappropriate language, including harassment, profanity and vulgar language.
  • Promotion of drugs and regulated substances, including selling, and, abuse of such items.
  • Controversial or sensitive subjects and events, including subjects related to war, political conflicts, natural disasters and tragedies; even if graphic imagery is not shown.

That’s easily half of the videos on Youtube, and taken broadly, means an awful lot of people will have videos demonetized, since I’m not even sure Disney content escapes this dragnet. Despite the screams of “censorship,” Youtube isn’t abridging anyone’s free speech. It’s not like they are refusing to bake gay wedding cakes.

Content providers can still post. They just might not get paid for their trouble, which for many of them takes away the incentive. If you make your living creating Youtube videos, Youtube kinda becomes your boss and has the ability to modify the work rules. Your other option is to leave, if the conditions are intolerable. Just as with a regular job, the balancing act becomes one of how much are you willing to give up versus how much you gain.

If you have a better offer, take it. Otherwise, suck it up and adapt to the new rules of engagement, buttercup.

Ultimately, the content providers will calm down from their tantrums and realize this is a good thing. After all the teeth gnashing, content providers who want to step up to the real advertising money will figure out how to play by the Big Boy rules. Those who want to keep doing their thing as always will have to pay a price for exercising their freedom.

Nobody ever said speaking your mind was free of consequences.

Youtube is not in the business of providing a platform for content providers to spout off anything that comes to mind. They are in the business of selling as many ads as they can for the highest price possible. Any content that frustrates that goal will not be rewarded.

 

 

 

3Thank you to every one of my readers for coming back week after week. The content on this website is free to access, but does take resources to produce. Please visit my Patreon account to see what I have in the works for the homestead and consider becoming a supporter, which gets you additional content, behind the scenes access, goodies not available on the main site, and unique Thank You gifts for support.

L'homme Theroux CoverIf you’d prefer something more tangible in return for supporting my work, please preview my novel L’homme Theroux and consider purchasing it, if you enjoy the sample chapters.

Chicken Stampedes


IMG_0418Farms are like prisons; they both thrive on routine. Try being late for morning chores to see just how disruptive your barnyard inmates become. With luck, the worst you’ll suffer is obnoxious, sideways looks from the ingrates. If you have teenagers at home, this should be nothing new.

My friends who keep larger animals tell of property damage from 800 pounds of hooved livestock pushing down corrals or kicking apart stalls when breakfast was late. So, I guess I’m doing pretty well that I don’t, as yet, have any animals I can’t wrestle to the ground.

“I don’t care if you have the flu. I deserve to be fed right now.” #ChickenLivesMatter.

In the animals’ defense, I’m sure they all huddled together and passed hushed whispers among themselves, wondering if their human finally had a fatal heart attack.

Something tells me that has never happened. The animals expressing concern for their caretakers, I mean. An overweight, middle-aged farmer who drinks too much and eats bacon with every meal dropping dead from a coronary embolism probably occurs with some regularity. It just hasn’t been me…yet.

In a just world, I will be shot dead by the jealous husbands of the Norwegian women’s beach volleyball team, but more likely, I’ll meet my maker wearing a confused expression because I didn’t know that “flammable” and “inflammable” mean the same thing.

Mrs. Cunha prohibits me from any activity that includes the words, “Y’all watch this.”

IMG_0434Until then, I’ll have to suffer the twice daily chicken stampede. Once in the morning, when I throw out scratch grain before opening the coop door, and again in the evening, when they decide to play General Custer’s Last Stand on seeing me carry out their feed bucket.

Pushing through the mob of hens isn’t so much trouble as it is annoying. It can also be dangerous. I’m relatively light on my feet for someone my size, but at six-foot-four and two hundred none-of-your-damn-business pounds, a slip, trip, stumble, or fall can have absolutely devastating consequences on a chicken because they are not terribly sturdy creatures. Ask me how I know the ease with which a chicken can meet an accidental, premature demise.

That particular situation was slightly different because it was my fault for wear flip-flops into the chicken pen, but by the same token, the owl that killed one of my hens last April has made no effort to compensate me. Like the men before me who suffered setbacks, I simply had to absorb the loss and carry on.

My daughter felt just as entitled to a replacement chicken as the animals feel entitled to be fed, teenagers to a new cellphone, or prisoners do to yard time. When it comes to entitlement, only the circumstances change. The cries of “Gimme, Gimme, Gimme,” are always the same.

Sometimes, it’s not about the expense, but rather the accomplishment.

IMG_0471Little in life exceeds the pride a father feels when finally winning a prize at one of those claw and crane games found in fast-casual type family restaurants, arcades, and carnival midways all over the world. Oddly enough, I’ve never seen one of these machines in a place with a dress code, and since my average reader is more likely to wear Carhartt than Channel, I’ll assume everyone knows exactly the device I’m talking about.

It might take thirty-seven dollars to win a teddy bear the game’s owner bought on clearance from Walmart for $2.99 the day after Valentine’s Day, but dammit, that’s a win in my book.

In an example of both Big Brother looking out for what it thinks are your best interests and parents all too willing to relinquish the raising of their children to the state, New Jersey state Senator Nicholas Scutari has introduced legislation to further regulate claw and crane games.

The honorable Senator Scutari, whom to no one’s surprise is a Democrat, wants to regulate claw and crane games, so they produce a higher frequency of wins for the player. God forbid adults be allowed to chose how to assess their own risks and spend their own money, according to this government lover.

In New Jersey, as in most other jurisdictions, these tempting wallet vacuums are regulated as games of chance, as opposed to games of skill. Both are gambling, when you think about it, so the distinction between the two is really only important to legislators and owners of the machines.

The bigger question is whether you want your kids to participate in gambling. If you’d be OK with Junior sitting in on your poker game, go ahead and try to snatch that knock-off iPod from the top shelf. That’s a decision you should be left to make as a parent.

I have no room to throw stones. My kids learned at a young age how to mix a proper Old Fashioned and that Daddy likes his Scotch four-by-four; four fresh ice cubes and a four-finger pour. My fingers are the guide, not theirs.

I was shocked how fast the kids learned when they figured out I was tipping for each round. There have been arguments over whose turn it was to serve.

0602161917aOne of the hopes I have for my children is they learn life lessons on the farm that can be carried into adulthood. Slapping an angry rooster silly when he comes at you with his spurs forward is an instructive moment for a ten-year-old girl in how to stand up for yourself and deal with bullies.

The rooster wasn’t too thrilled by the experience, but the lesson must not have stuck. A few weeks later, we had to make an example of him in front of the flock. The rest of the chickens have been on perfect behavior since.

20150531_111648_resizedThat’s why I like to keep an understudy rooster around. You never know when you’ll have to remind those dumb clucks of Rule #1: Behave or be eaten.

All the humans on the farm, even if outmatched physically, have access to tools and technology that allow us to prevail when an animal occasionally decides to challenge our authority over them. It’s by no means a fair fight, and it’s not supposed to be.

The lesson I want my children to take away from that reality is not might makes right or even the biblical mandate that humans have dominion over animals. What I want them to understand is that life isn’t always fair. I’m sure Clint the Rooster thought it mighty unfair that he was sent to Freezer Camp for doing what he saw as right by the hens.

Sometimes, you’re just not going to win. Frequently, the odds are stacked against you, and success is a matter of luck and perseverance. Knowing and recognizing those situations is part of being an adult. It also makes the infrequent wins all the sweeter, both for the game player and recipient of the prize.

Win a stuffed animal for your girlfriend at the carnival ring-toss and you’ll be her king for the rest of the day.

I have no idea that “fair” looks like when it comes to a claw and crane game. What I do know is that if nobody ever wins, people will stop playing. The trick, I would imagine, is to make play just challenging enough to keep people playing, but allow enough wins to satisfy the pleasure centers of the brain.

It’s like throwing out scratch grain for the chickens or packing a bone with peanut butter for the dog. Make the work put into the effort just enough to justify the reward without inducing abandonment of the activity.

Wherever that sweet spot lay isn’t the government’s business to determine, but in the continual campaign to placate the Whine Glass Generation, politicians seeking to curry favor with dependent constituencies and retain their power through reelection, want to make everybody feel like a winner.

IMG_0380When everybody gets a ribbon, and each grab at the teddy bear produces a gleeful, squealing child, an expectation of success is inculcated. It breeds a sense of entitlement and reduces risk taking to a monetary exchange. Ultimately, it creates risk aversion and kills the economic libido of children who are no longer learning life lessons about risk and reward.

The livestock on my farm neither understand nor possess the capacity to understand the relationship between risk and reward. All they know is they want what they want and they want it right now.

That explains chicken stampedes.

Do what you like with your brats, but mine will earn their eventual release from the Cunha Juvenile Correctional Facility with an understanding of how the world works that is better than that of livestock.

Assuming they aren’t trampled to death by a flock of hungry chickens first.

 

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What Will The Neighbors Think?


0610161336I was deliberate in choosing the undisclosed location of my heavily fortified compound. After multiple encounters in several states with the petty tyrants of Home Owners Associations, who lord power over their subjects and cultivate a snitch culture rivaled only by Soviet Russia, one of the top three criteria for the farm location was a dearth of rules.

I plan to be carried off my farm feet first and don’t fancy spending the time until then being told everything I can’t do. The fact I can shoot deer from my back porch without a hunting license and there not being a thing anybody can do or say about it is a dream come true for the sort of guy who resents authority.

The county I live in only recently instituted building codes.

The “Let me do my thing” ethos is tempered by my aversion to hurting anybody or damaging their property. Short of that, if the urge hits me to let the lawn grow, put out plastic, pink flamingos, and prowl around on all fours wearing a leopard print bikini, y’all best avert your eyes because the Honey Badger don’t care.

Likewise, my grandfather had a healthy dose of what the kids describe in texts as “IDGAF.” Despite having easy access to grocery stores, the old man grew grapes he planted long before I was born until the day he died about a decade ago. He made his last batch of wine sometime in his early nineties.

0602161437The quality of that last batch was below previous iterations. Maybe it hadn’t matured or perhaps my palate was deadened because I and a few cousins had cracked open some bottles the afternoon we buried grandpa. We figured the old man would have been pleased with his grandchildren hanging out in his one-car garage nipping at the liquid fruits of his labor; telling dirty lies and dirtier jokes.

My suspicion was his body was just no longer able to put into practice the vast amount of knowledge earned over a lifetime.

Just like my grandmother didn’t use cookbooks, much to my mom’s frustration when trying to preserve recipes, grandpa didn’t write stuff down. The man literally had a third-grade education, and learned English on construction sites in his forties, which probably explains his eloquence in cursing.

The old man should have written for HBO’s show Deadwood.

To avoid giving short shrift, Grandpa’s senior year was in the late 1920’s. No Child Left Behind wasn’t a thing back then. They knew most children were going to be left behind, so the kids were taught the important stuff; math, enough reading to get through the Bible, maybe some basic geometry, penmanship, and not mouthing off to adults prevents bloody lips. Everything else was left to the parents.

During a visit, I asked Grandpa why my grape vines were not producing after two years in the ground. Once he regaining control from laughing himself into a coughing fit, my grandfather explained I would be doing well to have fruit the third year, and the first crop wouldn’t be edible. In short, I would be lucky to have edible grapes the fifth season. Even then, they would be nothing to get excited over. Unless I were really hungry, I’d be better off feeding those grapes to the hog until the vines were a decade in the ground.

That last part might have been a slight exaggeration, but Grandpa was right often enough that even his hyperbole was worth following.

I’ve spent the last two years growing grapes in whiskey barrels to get a head start on purchasing the farm. I figure I’ll have some grapes that are worth a crap by 2020, assuming the Southern Poverty Law Center doesn’t come after me first.

0619161702bWhile erecting the supports for my grape trellises, I noticed people slowing down as they drove by. Dumbass that I am, I assumed they were curious about what I was building in my front yard. I thought my neighbors were admiring how plumb the posts were compared to the mild undulations of the surrounding landscape and the architectural vision on display with the vineyard’s placement in relation to the barn, the road, and the chicken coop.

Images of friendly neighbors and passers-through stopping at my humble farm to inquire about vinaceous endeavors, while buying free-range, organic eggs and the occasional bale of hay, danced with the prideful part of my soul.

Turns out they wanted to know when we were going to hold the Klan rally.

My mother could never quite figure out whether I was a genius or just retarded, stemming from my propensity to become caught up in a project and lose all sense of time and my surroundings. “Not being able to see the forest because of the trees” was how she put it.

Either of my wives (one former and one current; contrary to popular rumor, I’m no polyamorist) can attest to the need to tear me away from a project in the garage when I become engrossed. My mule-headedness and ornery nature are two of my more endearing personality traits.

0618161747What my Rain Man-like concentration prevented me from noticing was the grape vine supports, taken as a whole, strongly resembled a small field of crosses waiting for an Imperial Wizard with a lit torch.

Luckily for me, the people in my area are real live and let live sorts of folks. However, the few that stopped by when curiosity got the best of them approached the subject with caution. I mostly played dumb, the one style of acting at which I am supremely talented.

To the ones who recognized a proper grape trellis and asked what varieties I planned to grow, I admitted their true purpose right away. The whiskey barrels with grape vines flowing over the rims were only next to the barn all of twenty feet behind me, so I felt no pangs of conscience in screwing with everyone else. Mrs. Cunha was mortified by my actions, but she has come to expect nothing less from me.

0619161812I invited several to our first annual celebration of European heritage and homesteading skills the following Saturday. Two neighbors believe I am hosting a Passion Play next Easter and am in need of volunteer Centurions. But my favorite was when I informed a particularly nervous fellow that I erect one for every man I kill.

It’s probably a good thing that I live way out in the sticks. I barely fit in out here, much less inside the city limits.

 

 

3Thank you to every one of my readers for coming back week after week. The content on this website is free to access, but does take resources to produce. Please visit my Patreon account to see what I have in the works for the homestead and consider becoming a supporter, which gets you content, behind the scenes access, and goodies not available on the main site.

Lincoln County Warriors


Southern graduations are big events, more festive than funerals and with fewer drunks than weddings. My eighth-grader and several of her friends reached a significant milestone this week; high heels. They also graduated to high school, but they seemed more excited about dressing up.

Fast maturing girls, who the rest of the year are barely taller than an Emperor penguin, towered and tottered to the podium on DSW stilts. Grandparents beamed, mothers wiped tears from their eyes, and fathers contemplated the merits various shot sizes and patterns.

Protecting daughters, livestock, and hunting dogs are all given the highest of legal presumptions for righteousness around these parts.

Some with an old school bent performed complex mental computations for the amount of gunpowder necessary to propel a images (49)payload of rock-salt. The boys, none of whom were overly impressed by either the pageantry or the promotion, tucked in their shirttails and donned their going-to-church Cabela’s caps for their first formal function.

Despite the “too cool for school” shuffle across the basketball court parquet, each of them understood half the audience was taking bets on who would stumble. That’s probably why they strode so deliberately. Where I live, it’s an even money bet any of these kids will be a graduate again, so nobody wants to be remembered as the dumbass who face planted in the gym as the final act of grades K through eight.

I understand being proud of your child who graduates the eighth grade, especially on the first attempt, but I would have preferred to have held applause until all the diplomas had been distributed. Row by row the students stood in unison and queued up for their name to be called in alphabetical order.

Once they called my kid, I was out of reasons to be there. And by the time they got to “P,” I had completely lost interest.

My hands tingled by the end of the second row and were completely numb by the fifth. With the loss of feeling, all I could do to show support for the last couple dozen kids was slap my flippers together like a circus seal.

As the Zimmerman twins collected their sheepskins, all I could think was, “Thank the sweet baby Jesus laying swaddled in a feed trough that this torture is over.” The hard wooden bench of the hide-a-bleacher pulled away from the gymnasium wall for the occasion had numbed my ass as thoroughly as the continual clapping hand numbed my hands. I hadn’t ridden that much pine since I played basketball in middle school.

images (50)I was beginning to get the feeling back in my legs when the first of five Homeroom teachers took the podium with a thick stack of award folders, which the crowd quickly learned contained certificates suitable for framing.

Now might be an appropriate time for some mathematical computations. The gym had seven rows of fifteen graduates fidgeting on folding metal chairs. By my math, that’s 105 teenagers who managed to not touch their cell phones for an hour and a half. I suspected they might have been confiscated, but I clearly saw several outlines in pants pockets. What surprised me even more was approximately fifty teenage boys went an hour and a half without noticeably scratching their nuts.

What I’d like to know is when did it become possible to make the Honor Roll with B grades?

This “A/B Honor Roll” phenomenon confuses me. It really seems like standards are slipping with awards like “Highest Score in Week Twelve of Fourth Period Spelling Re-Test” are passed out. It felt like an attempt to give every graduate an award. I figured the diploma was the award, but since everyone was getting one, it wasn’t sufficiently unique. The plan might have worked out had it not been for a half dozen overachievers who hogged up multiple awards. One of those high-aiming turds cost my little girl “Best Essay Comparing and Contrasting the Series Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices.”

images (51)Don’t get too high-and-mighty, Olivia Wilson. Big boobs and Daddy’s money will only get you so far in life. I’m sure you will have a successful career at Little Rosie’s Mexican Taqueria after your second or third unplanned, teenage pregnancy.

There were also awards for a bunch of things I had never heard of, which I suspect are pushed by the federal government in exchange for money from Uncle Sugar.

The one award I recognized, perfect attendance, was ironically enough awarded to a kid who wasn’t able to make the ceremony.

As part of the graduation weekend festivities, we all piled into the War Wagon and headed to Fayetteville for some antiquing. The Fayetteville town square is home of the Lincoln County Courthouse, Probation Office, and by my count, six thousand or so antique shops, each housing booths for several dozen junk vendors…uh, I mean purveyors of finely crafted masterpieces.

I blame those Frank and Mike guys from The History Channel for convincing everyone with a pickup truck and access to their Grandmother’s attic that they are high-end antique dealers. For the most part, I came away believing “antique” is a fancy word for “garage sale.”

One of the shops was a standout with a couple of furniture pieces I gave serious consideration to purchasing, if I wasn’t anticipating one last move in the next year or so. My wife bought a bone china tea service that while pretty is more or less lost on me.

images (52)For reasons that are not entirely clear to me, I nearly bought a scythe. I have two electric and one gas string trimmer in my garage which probably do a much better job, but the scythe seems like something I should have for no better reason than the macabre imagery. It would be a hell of a conversation piece over my fireplace.

Instead of the scythe, I bought a draw knife that I want to experiment with.

At seven bucks, I won’t feel bad if I ruin it. I don’t believe in owning things I can’t or won’t use.

I use my Grandfather’s handsaw. I use my other Grandfather’s felling ax. My wife and I use my Grandmother’s silver tea service. My favorite hunting rifles are literally over a century old, and if I do my part, will shoot circles around the kids toting the latest Plastic Fantastic.

Disappointment weighed more and more on my shoulders as I shuffled from store to store asking in vain for Meerschaum pipes. I’ve smoked a pipe since my mid-twenties and have what I would call a functional supply of briar pipes. Believe it or not, you have to let wooden pipes dry out because they absorb condensation from the combustion of the tobacco. You can actually hear the pipes gurgle from the accumulation of moisture.

573453257_tpMeerschaum pipes aren’t prefect. They gurgle, too. The joy of a Meerschaum is that it is smoking a work of art. Each of the stone pipes is hand carved  by an artisan, and if you seek out the old ones like I do, you can get the additional enjoyment of making people nervous because the carved images are often risqué, politically incorrect, or both.

A ribbon of smoke curling from the top of an African Hottentot’s head is one of life’s litmus tests to screen out Liberals.

There was no joy to be had in Fayetteville. Of the handful of shops with pipes, every single one was what pipe aficionados divisively call “drug store pipes.” Literally, the types mass produced on automated lathes. They are the Yugo of the pipe world.

Luckily, I was able to indulge another of my offensive vices; Confederophilia. The Fayetteville Courthouse boasts a memorial to the three thousand sons of Tennessee from Lincoln County who fought in the War of Northern Aggression. There was no mention of how many didn’t come marching home to suffer the subjugation of Reconstruction.

Let’s not forget to remember these men this Memorial Day.

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