Current Events Ep. 72: Discovery 2×1

Mike and I start the second season of Discovery. Huge changes are afoot along with a hint of Spock!

You can listen to it here:

https://current-events.simplecast.com/episodes/72-star-trek-discovery-2×1

or on Stitcher and Apple podcasts by searching for “Jake MacMillan” and subscribing.

Enjoy!

Plague Diary 10: Get Outta My Tribe

Like many people, I’ve watched in horrified amazement as the country slips down the toilet drain of history while fully 40% of Americans stand around loudly vocalizing their support for a president the rest of us do not see.

Those of us who believe we’re rational, 60% of the US and 99% of the rest of the world, keep expecting the reality of the situation to change the minds of the cult members. But it never happens.

We’ve long given up trying to argue facts against their theories and feelings, but we at least hoped the country actually catching fire would wake them from their slumber.

Nope.

So the question banging around inside our heads is: Why?

Why do 40% of Americans see federal masked troops disappearing nonviolent protesters off the street without badge or warrant and not see the very overarching dictatorship they’ve been paranoid about for decades?

How can Trump supporters watch him steal money from a cancer charity, funnel money into his own businesses, enact a fully Russian agenda, screw up a major pandemic that takes 200,000 lives and not have their minds turned?

Tribalism.

Let me put it down here in a way even Trump supporters can understand: “Many people come up to me, big strong men, men who never cry, with tears in their eyes and say, ‘Sir, thank you for strengthening my tribe’ It’s called Tribalism. Nobody knew about it before me.”

The theory of tribalism is that some people (or maybe all, we’ll get to that in another post) identify themselves not by name, race, or family tree, but by a collection of shared beliefs.

If, subconsciously, you think of yourself as belonging to a group of people who believe white people are superior, the rich are better, face masks are dangerous, and COVID is a hoax, then you’re not open to new information about these subjects because not believing in them means you are no longer in your tribe.

Trump supporters literally can’t wear a mask without being kicked out of the club and since they’ve turned their backs on everyone else, that would leave them utterly alone.

There’s no changing those minds unless you change the definition of their entire tribe. And good luck with that if Fox News exists.

So how does a regular belief differ from a tribal belief? Put simply, a regular belief is open to new information. If you quietly suspect the weatherman is a gorilla dressed in a human suit and then later you see him at the pool and are able to reevaluate this theory as provably false then that’s a regular belief.

If you belong to a Facebook group called The Weatherman is a Gorilla then you have to ask yourself if you want to be kicked out of that group or if it’s possible the gorilla has gotten himself a human suit made out of skin.

If you think that sounds ridiculous, imagine believing in the Pizza Gate conspiracy theory about a pedo chain operating out of the basement of a pizza store that has no basement but not the actual pedo chain headed by Epstein and Maxwell because your favorite president was a good friend of theirs.

It’s hard to see your own tribe in the present. For instance, as someone who started out as a conservative Republican, I can see my beliefs changing over time, so I’m pretty sure those weren’t tribal beliefs, but I can’t see which of my current beliefs aren’t fungible.

For instance, I can’t imagine someone coming to me with evidence that proves police departments deserve 99% of a city’s budget. So until that happens, I will continue to support the idea of defunding the police. Is that a tribal belief? I don’t know and I won’t until I’m faced with a reason to change it.

Plague Diary 9: I’m Too Old For This Shit

Sometimes I try to imagine this generation of Americans putting up with the sacrifices it took to get through WWII. Everything was rationed, women had to take factory jobs, a large portion of the population was hauled off to fight overseas.

Our country has now lost ~160,000 people to a hostile invasion on our homeland because 38% of our population has joined a death cult led by a reality TV Jim Jones.

How it could have gone: The GOP could have provided ample unemployment benefits for those who can’t work from home which would have limited rent and mortgage defaults and provided enough general income to keep many businesses alive. Notional leadership could have put out a strong, united message in support of social distancing, masks, and staying home whenever possible. New Zealand did this and they are now opening back up.

How it actually went: The GOP went into denial mode, claiming the virus was a hoax invented by George Soros to derail Donald Trump’s reelection. And I just want to say, if this is actually true, what a stroke of brilliance to unleash a hoax that has killed at least half a million people worldwide in order to unseat an already highly unpopular president.

They made a onetime payment to some Americans of $1200 of their own money which one of the vampires in the cabinet expected to last people four months. They also increased unemployment by $600 a week which helped but wasn’t enough to cover rent/mortgage which led to the current wave of forced homelessness during a pandemic.

Republicans also came out against masks for reasons that still aren’t clear, an action that led to the rise of #mealteamsix, outraged suburban bloviators larping special forces operators agitating for early reopening even as cases per day were climbing.

These super spreader events were effective in getting many states to reopen at a time when it made zero scientific sense, including California where I live. The ICUs in these states – especially Florida, Texas, Arizona – are now running out of beds and refrigerated trucks are being used for overflow morgues.

If you’re thinking this evidence would be enough to change the minds of the Q-Anon believers and Evangelical Christians and fascist conservative ideologues on the right, you must be living in a better, future America.

The reason this plague diary is so political is that the plague has been politicized by Republicans. At first they sought to deny it existed because it might hurt the economy, then they doubled down because the Democrats had come out early for a standard pandemic response (and it turned out Trump had defunded the very task force Obama set up to handle an event like this).

Even if the desire had been there, the GOP has cultivated a base that will not tolerate bipartisanship in any matter, even saving their own lives.

After that, the “President” who is so narcissistic he can only see the world in how it pertains to him attacked the science as an effort to undermine his reelection bid. The right has literally painted themselves into a corner where they cannot admit the virus is real.

Meanwhile there were 70,000 new cases yesterday.

Current Events News

Is that redundant?

Anyway, I will no longer be hosting the podcast on this site. Instead, you can listen on Stitcher and Apple Podcasts. The current season (i.e. all the episodes about Discovery season 1) will be free but archived episodes will be moved behind a paywall at some point in the near future. So listen now while they’re cheap.

You can find us on Apple at:

Current Events On Apple

And on Stitcher at:

Current Events on Stitcher

Or go to podcasts and search for “Jake MacMillan”. For some reason you get no results when you search by podcast name.

Current Events 64

Discovery 1×11: The Wolf Inside

Burnham and Tyler try to save a group of mirror universe rebels including someone Tyler knows very well back home. Whatever’s wrong with Tyler is getting wronger and we get to meet the Emperor. A lot happened in this week’s episode, come listen to us talk about it.

Happy 4th

I love this country. I lived overseas for three years way back in the 80s and I have never forgotten what it was like to be away from home or how happy I was to come back.

But here’s the other thing I learned: It is possible to love your country while at the same time realizing we have much work to do to make it better. Not again, just better.

Don’t fall for false dichotomies like “Love It Or Leave It”.

And really don’t fall for corrosive nostalgia that attempts to convince you we should go back to a time when things were better.

Instead, let’s hope we can move forward in making America better for all of us.

Current Events 63: Discovery 10

Despite Yourself. Uh… something’s wrong with Ash Tyler. Has anyone else noticed? Join us as we discuss the literal boatload of stuff that happened in this episode.

My Favorite SciFi Movies of the 80s

Actually, from the period 1978 to 1989, the sorta decade after Star Wars came out. I need to pick my top ten faves for a special podcast tomorrow night so I’m going to work out my thoughts here.

Read More

Current Events 62: Discovery 1×9

Into Forest I Go. Lorca (that bastard) has a plan to defeat the Klingon cloaking device which requires Burnham & Ash to transport onto the Ship of the Dead for a soiree of violence. Join us as we talk about it.

Plague Diary 8: A Good Day To Cough Hard

The graph of new cases/deaths looks like a Wall St. wet dream, but we are opening back up. Why? Because the machine of capitalism thrives on blood. It certainly doesn’t have anything to do with science.

Probably the main driver in the reopen movement has been the Black Lives Matter protests. Those protests drove the pandemic from the headlines for two weeks until the media got bored with the lack of violence and then didn’t return to the pandemic because they were already bored with that.

With craven politicians like Gregg Abbott saying everything is fine just get back out there and the news not banging the drum that everything is in fact even worse than it was in April we have maskless doofuses gathering in large, tight groups because fuck you I need a haircut.

Even some famous(ly bad) people have come out against simple measures that would protect people. Why? Because they’re assholes.

Detroit Tigers' Aubrey Huff in 2009.
Distended Anal Sphincter With Infected Lesions

The desperate desire to return to lives that will never be the same as they were before COVID, is certainly understandable, but that’s where leadership comes into play.

Like our parents when we’re too young to make rational decisions on our own, the country relies on its leaders to get us headed in the right direction when we aren’t rational enough to do that on our own.

Unfortunately, due to voter suppression, party mismanagement, gerrymandering, racism, the presence of a full blown propaganda network terrifying skittish old white people 24×7, and a few other things we don’t have a lot of leadership right now.

America has entered its “Fall of Rome” slide. A victim of its own success, its people are too unused to even the smallest sacrifice and have been spoiled beyond even the simple ability to care about the health of others. So we are opening back up, folks.

You know he want straight for the hand sanitizer after this meeting ended

Or, I guess I should say, THEY are opening back up. The rest of us are still maintaining social distance, wearing masks, ordering in, watching movies on our big screen TVs. And if we keep that up and they keep going to hate rallies in undersized arenas, maybe the virus will have a positive effect in the long run.