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Welcome to the personal website of Andrew Turnbull. This outpost features tons of stupefying and trivial things pertaining to various and diverse interests of mine. Chances are, if there's something I know about or like that doesn't much other representation on the 'net...there's a bit of it here.

The front page updates every week whenever the hell I feel like it. And it is just a static page.


16 January 2022 (687 March 2020?)

  • Slowly but surely, the endgame of everything I've been focused on for the last five years is near:

    [excerpt of letter]
  • I've been triple-vaxxed...since, you know, one of the most important lessons I learned in West Virginia (lost on the rest of its populace) was that all people should be vaccinated, with no exemptions whatsoever, because we're all in on this together.

  • Religious affiliation in Canada is at an all-time low...and the trend has accelerated since the mid-2010s, just like in the US. Here's a mediocre article about this, which glosses over the real reasons people are bailing from the pews (Christianity being wed at the hip to sadistic, amoral policies of homophobia, white supremacy, misogyny, authoritarianism, climate and health science denial, insurrection, and the ghoulish cult of D*n*ld Tr*mp, anyone?) and presents the decline of churches as though this were a problem, rather than a positive. But it still has this gem of a quote in it:

    "Sarah Wilkins-Laflamme, who teaches sociology at the University of Waterloo, has been tracking changes to Canada's religious landscape for years. However, she subverts the question of decline: 'I say, 'Why were so many people involved with Christianity?' rather than saying, 'Why are so few involved now?''"

    Canada has always been a few steps ahead of the States on secularization and liberalization...but I wonder how long it will take before more tangible efforts at dismantling the country's Christian privilege come to fruition. Ending Ontario's provincially-funded Catholic school system would be a great leap on that front.

  • At long last, I've updated my semi-embarrassing Third Eye Blind fansite (the front page of it, anyway) to reflect on that band's post-2000 devolution. Which is a shame, really...since for a time in the late '90s, they were pure magic.

    Should I do a search-and-replace, and turn it into a semi-embarrassing Walk the Moon fansite? ...Nah.

  • Thanks to the magic of the Internet, I now know that there were at least two people in PikeView High School's Class of 2003 who weren't straight. This made my year.


31 December 2021

2021 was a better year than 2020, but only because the latter bar was so low it's buried under the floor.

What happenedHow long ago it happenedHow long ago it feels like
Insurrectionist terrorism11 months3 months
The pandemic21 months9 months
Permanent residency in Canada2½ years5 years
The atrocity of 20165 years10 years
Graduating from high school18 years12 years
Death of my childhood (Bush, 9/11, Iraq)18-21 years14 years
Realizing I might not actually be straight23 years15 years
Achy Breaky Heart29 years20 years
Invisible Touch35 years25 years
Born36 years30 years

20 December 2021

[Andrew holding a Walk the Moon CD]

Uncork the champagne! Dance! Yes, these are tough times, but there's a reason to celebrate: Walk the Moon has a new album out! (Actually, it's been out for a month. More on that in a moment.)

Walk the Moon are a band of guys my age (more or less) who broke out in 2012 with the rock and alternative hit "Anna Sun." I wasn't listening to the radio in 2012, so the band evaded my notice...until 2015, when "Shut Up and Dance" rode the charts so high it was impossible to ignore. I travelled to Winnipeg that September...and radio there was playing the song once an hour, every hour. And I loved it: Much like Third Eye Blind's "Never Let You Go" from 15 years earlier (and Rick Springfield's "Jessie's Girl" from 19 years before that), "Shut Up and Dance" was an insanely catchy piece of perfect power pop. My "discovery" of the band was so tied in my mind to my excursion into Canada that I was almost disappointed to learn that the band weren't Canadian themselves: They're from Cincinnati, Ohio.

"Shut Up and Dance" could have been a flash in the pan, or a piece of "manufactured" pop. Happily, there was substance behind the sizzle. The Talking is Hard album was full of spirited tracks like the unapologetic queer anthem "Different Colors" and the ethereal "Aquaman," bound by a strong New Wave influence and DIY aesthetic. 2017's What if Nothing continued with more strong material in an introspective bent, and now the band is back yet again with Heights...sans Kevin Ray.

What is there to say about the record? Let's begin...

  • The record starts with a bang: The title track "Heights," an uptempo song about challenges with a pronounced Tears for Fears influence. It sets the pace of what's to follow.
  • "Can You Handle My Love??" is the danceable lead-off single (do "singles" still exist if everything's a digital file?). It's one of the more conventional songs here, and closely recalls the band's earlier work back to "Anna Sun."
  • The momentum continues with "Giants," a driving song about companionship and challenging oppressors against the odds...together.
  • "I'm Good" starts off as a jaunty, lyrically-dissonant track about a broken relationship and depression. After a left turn through a hook-filled bridge section, it segues into an emotional piano coda reminiscent of Joni Mitchell's "Two Grey Rooms."
  • "DNA (The Keys)" is a sparely-produced song with a plaintive keyboard line and pounding rhythm section. It's one of the weaker tracks on the record, but keeps the momentum flowing.
  • "Fire in Your House" is a sonically-lush masterpiece recorded with the late South African musician and anti-apartheid activist Johnny Clegg and his son Jesse. The danceable track recalls Lionel Richie's "All Night Long" among others, as well as the WOMAD-influenced work of Peter Gabriel. This is the album's follow-up single, and it'll be a travesty of justice if it doesn't chart.
  • Side 2 (yes, there's a cassette version with a Side 2) begins with "Don't Make Me," a slow cut that feels like a Sunday morning after a Saturday night. It wouldn't be out-of-place on Adult Contemporary radio, but it's one of the weaker songs here.
  • "Rise Up:" No, it isn't the 1983 Parachute Club song that every leftist Canadian knows by heart. Continuing the "morning after" vibe, this is a gospel-influenced song about dusting yourself off and reaching for the stars.
  • "My Kids" is a lighthearted funk track that wouldn't sound out of place on a Prince album from 1987.
  • That said, the last three songs are merely overtures for what comes next. "Someone Else's Game" is a five-minute piano-driven track about perseverance above despair that builds to a crescendo, before falling back into softness again. This song represents Heights' emotional climax, and it brings me to tears.
  • Finally we have the last two songs, which serve as a resolution to the record. The band wears their influences on their sleeve, and "What You Can't Look Up" evokes Rush from the Hold Your Fire era with a bit of Talking Heads scrubbed in for good measure. Finally, "Population of 2" is a fast-tempo synthpop song about simple pleasures and fresh starts.

Other thoughts...

  • Like the Weeknd and several other contemporary artists, Walk the Moon's music captures the spare fills and urgency that defined the New Wave music of the early 1980s (i.e. Depeche Mode, The Fixx, The Police). It also captures the dark feelings of that era...an era when Reagan and Thatcher were running roughshod over peoples' lives, and nuclear war loomed as an imminent threat. In a world threatened by Christian fascism, pandemic, climate change, and the facilitators of all of the above, these feelings are sadly as relevant and relatable now as ever. Yet, Heights doesn't dwell on doom and gloom: The overwhelming theme of the record is one of hope and perseverance, and this comes through in its songs.
  • Heights comes in a proper jewel case. No non-standard packaging! (Sorry, I've had it up to here with flimsy cardboard sleeves that scuff up the CDs they contain and don't stand on the shelf.)
  • Combing through the lyrics, I counted three "shits" and one "ass:" Not filthy enough to command a warning label, but probably enough to disturb my mother. :-P

Good luck finding a copy, though. If my experience is any indication, this album is extremely hard to find in Canada. I scouted out Heights on the week of release, much as I had done for What if Nothing four years before...but neither Sunrise Records nor The Mart of Wal had it in stock. Unfortunately, those were the only stores that sold new CDs in a 400-kilometre radius of Thunder Bay, Ontario. Amazon.ca's page for the album was initially a blank placeholder with no track listings or information, and I couldn't figure out at first whether Heights was available in Canada at all. Given my antipathy for Amazon (due to both labour exploitation and bad delivery experiences), I asked Sunrise if they could order it for me. They did, as a US import...and it took four weeks to arrive.

Walk the Moon occupy the same spot in my repertoire that Third Eye Blind once did (before that band fell apart in bad blood): Hook-filled songs with an emotional edge. They're niche enough to feel a personal connection with, yet popular enough to feel like a cultural phenomenon. Of course, there are differences: It took Third Eye Blind almost 13 years to release two great albums, one middling album, and a bland and forgettable fourth record. It took Walk the Moon under a decade to release the same amount of material...and all four of their albums (five, if you include their obscure self-released debut) are good to great. They haven't let me down yet.


5 December 2021

  • It's been five years...half a decade...since I made the decision to immigrate to Canada. And no: I still don't have any regrets about doing so.

  • Also on the topic of milestone dates: As of a week ago, I've lived longer in Thunder Bay than I lived in London. London remains my favourite of the cities I've lived in over the years, and I'd go back there in a heartbeat if the right opportunity presented itself.

  • Safeway in Thunder Bay has been updated. If you can tell the difference, there's a can of Scotch Buy beer (which was never sold in Ontario, incidentally) waiting for you.

  • The History of School Transportation in Mercer County, WV was the product of my first spring in lockdown. It wasn't my expectation to do annual updates...but thanks to Adam Ross, a local collaborator with a camera, I've been able to do just that! And that's not all: During last year's research for the feature, I accumulated a large amount of technical knowledge about vehicle identification numbers that is now online.

  • My other Mercer County feature, The Roads and Rails thereof, has been in stasis since I finished coverage of the area's primary highways two years ago. Blame this one on exhaustion: Each page took an insane amount of energy to put together, with original research, writing, and Inkscape vector maps. To capture that energy was like revving up a truck...as long as I'm occupied from 9 to 5 each day, it's not happening. And whenever my mind drifts from rose-tinted nostalgia of familiar places to the issue of who the people in those places vote for, my enthusiasm crashes to the floor.


21 November 2021

Apparently, two of my cousins' children have caught COVID-19.

They live in Wisconsin.

I can't even...


4 October 2021

Linkspam of fall


14 September 2021

Yes, I have been to Winnipeg.

New locations for the annals of Supermartifacts:

[Safeway store]

The Artifacts of A&P

  • 1981 Portage Ave., Winnipeg, MB
  • 479 St. Mary's Rd., Winnipeg, MB
  • 891 St. Mary's Rd., Winnipeg, MB

The Artifacts of Dominion

  • Confusion Corner, Winnipeg, MB
  • 43 Marion St., Winnipeg, MB
  • 727 Portage Ave., Winnipeg, MB

The Artifacts of Loblaws

  • 161 Goulet St., Winnipeg, MB
  • 625 Osborne St., Winnipeg, MB
  • 1295 Pembina Hwy., Winnipeg, MB
  • 345 Main St. N., Brampton, ON

The Artifacts of Safeway (now expanded into three parts!)

  • 240 and 318 Manitoba Ave., Selkirk, MB
  • 2 Alpine Ave., Winnipeg, MB
  • 1031 Autumnwood Dr., Winnipeg, MB
  • 595 and 619 Broadway, Winnipeg, MB
  • 971, 1700, and 2025 Corydon Ave., Winnipeg, MB
  • 850 Dakota St., Winnipeg, MB
  • 3900 Grant Ave., Winnipeg, MB
  • 731 and 1441 Henderson Hwy., Winnipeg, MB
  • 45 and 87 Isabel St., Winnipeg, MB
  • 920 Jefferson Ave., Winnipeg, MB
  • 850 Keewatin St., Winnipeg, MB
  • 1625 Kenaston Blvd., Winnipeg, MB
  • 654 Kildare Ave. E., Winnipeg, MB
  • 247 Lilac St., Winnipeg, MB
  • 1787 Logan Ave., Winnipeg, MB
  • 1409 and 1441 (new pictures) Main St., Winnipeg, MB
  • 285 Marion St., Winnipeg, MB
  • 115 Maryland St., Winnipeg, MB
  • 594 Mountain Ave., Winnipeg, MB
  • 535 and 655 Osborne St., Winnipeg, MB
  • 1319 (new pictures) and 2155 Pembina Hwy., Winnipeg, MB
  • 893, 905, 1333, 1849, 1881, and 3393 Portage Ave., Winnipeg, MB
  • 107, 701, and 1615 Regent Ave. W., Winnipeg, MB
  • 499 River Ave., Winnipeg, MB
  • 376 Salter St., Winnipeg, MB
  • 577 and 600 Sargent Ave., Winnipeg, MB
  • 110 Sherbrook St., Winnipeg, MB
  • 1 St. Anne's Rd., Winnipeg, MB
  • 222 and 1099 St. Mary's Rd., Winnipeg, MB
  • 77 Vermillion Rd., Winnipeg, MB
  • 396 Scott St., Fort Frances, ON

1 August 2021

Threads of summer

  • Remember Hanson? The musical threesome who endeared themselves with catchy tunes in the late 1990s, challenged audiences with their androgynous appearances and lyrics of non-conformism and self-empowerment, and cultivated a strong (and possibly even pre-eminent) queer fanbase that supported the band through thick and thin after their major-label days were through?

    The Hanson brothers were straight, white cis men (red flag) from Oklahoma (another red flag). They were also child stars, which at the very least raises serious questions of exploitation. Yet in spite of all that, they managed to avoid publicly embarrassing themselves...until 2020, when all hell broke loose against the background of George Floyd's murder, white supremacy awareness, COVID, and Tr*mp. The members' far-right allegiances were laid bare in a flurry of tone-deaf statements and racist and homophobic Pinterest posts, much to the chagrin of queer and PoC fans who had spent years cultivating close-knit relationships with Hanson through exclusive performances and fan social events under the presumption that their support and respect for the band was mutual.

    There's a subreddit for fans trying to decompress, as well as an excellent if heartbreaking video that delves deep into Zac Hanson's childhood exploitation, sexualization, and dive into extremism as an adult.

    Considering the Hanson brothers spent their entire lives on stolen portions of nineteeth-century Indian Territory, have they ever addressed indigenous issues in their music? The Tragically Hip they ain't...

  • Speaking of reprehensible musicians from Oklahoma, some schadenfreude to enjoy: Anita Bryant's granddaughter is marrying another woman.

  • 18 of the 20 states with the highest COVID infection rates voted to elect Tr*mp. 'Nuff said.

  • August 2021 marks the centenary of West Virginia's Battle of Blair Mountain, where miners of all skin colours and persuasions marching to support workers in Mingo County were fought with lethal force by militarized cops and representatives of the coal companies, then as now, running the state into the ground. Telling comment: "And now most voting WVians betray their memory and sacrifice."

  • California bans inessential state-funded travel to West Virginia, on account of its wave of reactionary anti-trans legislation. West Virginia's Christian-bigot attorney general throws a hissy fit in response, charging that he and his cronies are under "economic coercion" to drop their Christian-bigot policies. Um...yes. That's the point, Patrick. Glad you agree!

  • Audacity is a practical, useful wave editor that always seemed to be a key example of OSS "done right." So what do techbros do? They make a pull request to add completely unnecessary, invasive "phone home" features to a software title that existed for over 20 years without them, just because they can.

    Though the decision was reversed, it succeeded in poisoning Audacity's well of reputation, and forks duly appeared. What's most interesting is what happened next. One of the developers of such a fork became targeted for physical violence by the Internet's G*m*rg*te-spawning hive of villany over a perceived naming slight. Can we stop pretending that the Internet isn't "real" and that online harassment doesn't have real-world consequences?

  • For the first time in the better part of 30 years, I no longer have a computer running Windows 95 in my possession. I...feel quite a bit sorrowful about this, to tell the truth.


17 July 2021

Summer is upon us in Canada...but there's little sentiment for happiness or celebration to spare. Back in May, First Nation surveyors using ground-penetrating radar discovered the remains of 215 children buried on the grounds of the Kamloops Residential School in British Columbia.

This nightmare, horrifying in itself, was soon bolstered by additional discoveries:

Even worse, this is shaping up to be just the tip of an iceberg. 140 residential schools existed in Canada's pre-1949 borders, with another 5 in Newfoundland. What if every one of them is home to one to eight hundred unmarked graves? This is a genocide of tens of thousands, waiting to be discovered.

[St. Joseph residential school memorial]

Heartbreaking memorial on the St. Joseph Residential School grounds, Thunder Bay, Ontario.

I discussed residential schools in passing back in 2015: They were a program of assimilation induced by the British and Canadian governments against indigenous people and run from the 1820s to the 1990s. (Yes, in my lifetime and probably yours.) To say that the residential schools were "horrible" is an understatement: Children were mandatorily seized from their homes and families at gunpoint by Indian Agents and Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Students were subjected to rote, prison-like conditions where they were banned from speaking their indigenous languages or engaging in indigenous traditions. Oftentimes they were starved and subjected to physical, emotional, and sexual abuse, with mortality rates as high as 60%. (And don't feel smug, Americanos: You did the same thing.)

[Fort Frances residential school plan]

Residential school plans, Fort Frances, Ontario.

There was also a theocratic aspect to the schools. Indigenous participants were forced to pray and practice Christianity as part of a regimen for instilling the "superior" white Western colonalist culture and "killing the Indian in the child." Nearly every one of Canada's residential schools was run by a church, as a church, according to church standards. The Catholic Church, Anglican Church, Methodist Church, and Presbyterian Church (as well as the latter two's 1925 offshoot, the United Church) were all complicit, along with a scattering of smaller denominations.

Nowhere does the stench and blood of residential schools run deeper or stink more than in the Roman Catholic Church. Fully half of the schools nationwide were founded by Catholic dioceses outright, and additional schools spent periods of operation under Roman Catholic control. Kamloops, Cowesses, Kootenay, Kuper Island? All Catholic, through and through. Even the Brandon School, founded by Methodists in 1895, was administered by the Catholic Church in its later years of operation.

[graffiti]

Graffiti, Thunder Bay, Ontario.

Alone among large denominations, the Catholic Church has refused to make an institutional apology. And the church continues to be uniquely obstinate and complicit, stalling on releasing school records that could identify victims and scattering records among 51 subdivisional entities to frustrate researchers and delay justice as much as possible.

[Catholic fetus-fetishism]

Catholicism.

No one should be surprised. This is the same amoral cult of forced-birthers and gay-bashers who ran the Magdalene Laundries, funded Prop 8 to the tune of millions of dollars, obsessively fetishize fetal cells to the complete exclusion of human life and human rights, shelter child rapists throughout the world, and who have the blood of millions of Africans on its hands.

If any other type of organization...a hockey club, a public school district, a nonprofit...were guilty of a fraction of the things the Catholic Church has been and continues to be guilty of, it would surely be run out of existence on a rail. It would be sued to oblivion, its supporters turned into pariahs, its property seized and redistributed to the victims it hurt. Why the fuck hasn't this happened to the Catholic Church?!

(And while we're at it, remind me again why the fuck the Province of Ontario funds and runs schools on the Catholic Church's behalf?)


28 May 2021

Cities are more than faceless amalgamations of streets and buildings: They have individual personalities, and these personalities influence the health and character of the individuals who live and travel in their limits. David of Otherstream once compared them to romance partners: You can visit them, you can collect them, you can cultivate relationships with them, and they can be either one-night flings or partners for life.

If they were incarnated as people, who would the cities of my life be? *sigh* Let me disclose that I haven't had much luck with either.

  • Morgantown, West Virginia: An insolent fratbro who spends all his time drinking, playing video games, and harassing minority groups for the lulz. You call him out on his obnoxious behaviour, and in response he verbally assaults you.
  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: The fratbro's first cousin, who you were always leery of and never asked out on a date because you figured he had the same personality. But it turns out he was fine all along, and you now spend your nights wondering about the relationship you never had.
  • Manitowoc, Wisconsin: A childhood best friend who you once admired and felt a camaraderie with. She invites you into her home, and you oblige...only to discover that she's "discovered" Jesus in the interim, and now spouts vile white-supremacist, anti-gay, anti-abortion, and anti-intellectual screeds every moment you're near.
  • Madison, Wisconsin: A well-meaning but hamstrung partner who's exhausted by work, never has time for love or sex, and is under the yoke of his ultra-controlling, abusive family.
  • Minneapolis, Minnesota: A long-distance relationship that perseveres for years and years, then unexpectedly collapses in a heap the instant you start thinking about engagement plans.
  • London, Ontario: The person who gave you the most enriching, emotionally fulfilling relationship you've ever had. You wished that the relationship could have gone on...but he didn't have a job, he couldn't chip in on bills or expenses, and you couldn't afford to keep it going much longer.
  • Kitchener and Hamilton, Ontario: London's slightly dorkier older brothers, who have similar personalities. You'd like to get to know them better...but they don't seem interested in socializing or dating.
  • Toronto, Ontario: The attractive poster boy who purports to offer everything you could possibly want, but who ignores your texts and ghosts your OKCupid messages.
  • Winnipeg, Manitoba: That person you had a one-night stand with half a decade ago. You've heard that he's fallen on hard times, and you can't find his phone number.
  • Thunder Bay, Ontario: Your current steady partner. He's kind, honest, and financially responsible...but also a bit dull, and insists that it's healthier to live in a cabin in the wilderness than in the big city.

19 "What month is it again?" 2021

Spring has sprung...and as was the case a year ago, we seem to be locked in a dimension where time has no meaning.

Some threads of the season:

  • George Floyd's killer is guilty. Of all counts: Second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter.

    This is welcome news...but I feel a conflicted mix of emotions. Police departments continue to be unaccountable entities that wield disproportionate power and engage in systematic violence against black and indigenous persons, in Canada as well as America. This hasn't changed. And no matter how positive the verdict is, nothing is going to bring George Floyd, Michael Brown, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony Robinson, or hundreds upon hundreds of other unarmed black victims of racist police violence back to life.

    But for once...actions have consequences.

  • For some time, I've wondered how many decent people have bailed from the Christian pews in the years since a sadistic, orange-haired fascist became the de facto world leader of their religion. Now the numbers are in from the ol' U. S. of A., and they couldn't be starker: 1 in 5 church members stopped being members between 2014 and 2020. Bear in mind, the same decline happened in six years that took six decades to happen from 1940 to 2000!

    Just a line graph, a-pointin' down

    And that's not all: Non-church members are now a majority in the United States, for the first time in history! This is excellent news. And if I hear another comment about how "Church is good, you need church to have a community:" Churchgoers voted for California's Prop 8 amendment by an 84% supermajority; Prop 8 support was directly correlated to church attendance, and no small number of voters cast their votes for the bigoted amendment specifically because their priests and pastors told them to. It was the same for Wisconsin's equivalent, 2006 Referendum 1...and I have no doubt that my churchgoing relatives in Wisconsin (none of whom have ever denied or refuted their culpability in my presence) voted for that. And any place where "community" is codependent with churchgoing (i.e., southern West Virginia) is going to be a place where my life is a living hell.

  • Good news: All adults in Ontario are now eligible to book a COVID-19 vaccine! Not-so-good news: The official booking site requires a health card, which temporary residents (i.e., me two years ago) don't have. Also not-so-good: The booking form itself. I speak from personal experience here.

    Attempt #1: I fill out all the fields, click through all the steps, only to be presented with the words "Unable to book an appointment - please contact support." Oh, sure. Very helpful!

    Attempt #2: I switch browsers, and retrace my steps again. (Any reason this couldn't have been a normal POST form that worked on everything back to Netscape 3?) This time I get as far as the "Choose a date and time" prompt, but every single date on the calendar through to the end of the year and beyond is greyed out. Are they really booked to oblivion, or is this another technical problem? I bet on the latter.

    Attempt #3: I go through the motions one more time, and this time I'm allowed to actually choose a date. Success! I end up taking the earliest times available: 9 June for the first shot, and 29 September for the second.

    Considering that it takes about 2 weeks after the second vaccination to build full immunity, this means I won't be able to feel at ease until mid-October at earliest; while the leaves are falling from the trees. That's 19 months from the day the WHO declared COVID-19 a pandemic. Nearly two years, down the drain. But at last, the end of the tunnel is in sight.


9 March 2021

Another week gone without having much to show for it.

[shuttered Target store in Winnipeg, Manitoba, 2015]

Random factoid: 2021 was supposed to be the year in which Target Canada made money after losing it hand over fist for eight years. As with many other predictions for the time we live in today, it was not to be....


1 March 2021

[Northern Lights Lake near Thunder Bay, Ontario]

Somewhere near Thunder Bay, Ontario.


23 February 2021

Rush Limbaugh is dead. I react to this fact with the exact same emotions with which I reacted to the deaths of Fred Phelps, Jerry Falwell, and Andrew Breitbart: A swelling of pent-up anger, tempered jubilation, and relief.

All four were compassion-devoid ghouls who devoted their lives to one end, and one end only: The vilification and destruction of innocent human beings. AIDS victims. Pregnant people. Black lives. Immigrants. The LGBTQ community. Women. Climate scientists. Basically, anyone other than amoral white men à la Tr*mp.

I have no sympathy for Rush. I only have sympathy for the legions of people that he and his ilk were directly responsible for abusing, dehumanizing, disenfranchising, and driving to death.

And fuck everyone who rewarded him with a syndicated platform and audience for 32 fucking years.


15 February 2021

Twitter: The Redux

The curse of proprietary, walled-garden social websites is that you can't usually or easily archive your own data. Twitter is actually an outlier in that the service at least purports to allow you to do so:

[Download your Twitter archive]

In six years, I composed 4,254 messages. 280 characters times 4254 equals 1.14 megabytes. Obviously the size of the archive couldn't possibly exceed that, right?

[Twitter archive bloat]

Wrong: Somehow, Twitter's Nazi-enabling code monkeys succeeded in bloating an archive of text messages by 8588% (that is not a typo). What's more, this 97.5-megabyte monstrosity doesn't even contain any list of messages in human-readable format...only a thicket of bloated .js files that are completely incompatible with older browsers.

Fortunately, Luca Hammer has concocted a way to convert this hot mess into a 766-kilobyte CSV file. So I can finally dig in and quote the time I said, "Had a comment faved by a homophobe whose Twitter stream is a wall-to-wall Time Cube of rants about 'Celtics' and 'huns.' WTF, man?"


What, new content?

Some potentially-useful HTML pages that I had created at one point, but for whatever reason never published until now:

As 95% of you don't know, I'm a mite interested in deciphering vehicle identification numbers. On the off-hand chance that this tickles anyone else's fancy, here are some exploratory works-in-progress on that front:

I've also updated the FAQ and the site map at long last.


8 February 2021

New content!

Do you remember my Supermartifacts project? Rest assured, I haven't forgotten it.

[Store]

425 N. Center St., Northville, MI

Exhibit A. The Artifacts of Chatham: Where groceries and white-collar crime collide! And white-label packages, too!

[Store]

4141 Nakoosa Trail, Madison, WI

Exhibit B. The Artifacts of Cub Foods. This feature would have been a lot more thorough if I had been able to take those additional, follow-up trips to Duluth and the Twin Cities that I'd been eagerly planning a year ago. Le sigh...


31 January 2021

Yesterday, I found myself pondering: "What was the last photo I ever took in West Virginia?" I don't like to leave a question hanging...so I dug into my archive, and found answers.

[School bus in Raleigh County, WV]

The last picture I ever took in West Virginia was this image of a decrepit 1970s-era school bus, somewhere in the backwaters of Raleigh County on 11 May 2013. "Normal" people would think of this as an unlikely subject to immortalize, but those who know me would expect no less!

[Kroger store in Bluefield, WV]

The last picture I took while actually living in West Virginia was this image of the now-closed Kroger store in Bluefield, sometime in May 2008. The next exposure on the reel was taken in Ohio, on the way out. I was still shooting film in those days, so the precise date has been lost to time.

[Soo Line trestle in MN]

Moving from the state level to the national, here's the last picture I took in the United States: An image of the former Soo Line trestle in Moose Lake, Minnesota in the twilight of 26 December 2019. I was following the historic course of Highway 61 home to Thunder Bay, and the last leg of the trip ended up being in the dark.

[Jeep Commando in WI]

The last picture I took while actually living in the United States was this image of a vintage Jeep Commando parked in Madison, Wisconsin, on 12 August 2017. I remember having a nice chat with the owner...then I went home, and started itemizing all my earthly possessions. Ten days later, I was in Canada.


26 January 2021

For the record, Mercer County, West Virginia also voted for this piece of execrable human garbage. This is why some of us don't go back.


18 January 2021

This week, I unveiled a massive update of my favourite personal project of the last year: The History of School Transportation in Mercer County, WV. As with Roads and Rails, this was an autobiographical feature that felt like an extension of my lived experiences. And I hope it makes a splash.

Regardless of where someone ends up living their life, they have only one hometown or home county...and for me, that's Mercer County, West Virginia. It's a place that fills me with memories of childhood experiences, many of them warm and fuzzy. But I don't know if I can go back there.

A 77% supermajority of Mercer County voters are sadistic, amoral ghouls. And Christians, no doubt. You can look at the statistics yourself (JavaScript required), if you feel like throwing up on the floor.

But surely Mercer County is a pretty big place, right? Surely there are some pockets that aren't dominated by enthusiastic supporters of white supremacist insurrection? Well, let's find out.

The county is subdivided into 47 precincts for voting purposes. Trouble is, there are no maps or geographical descriptions of these precincts on the Internet: It's as if they're secret. But the county clerk does publicize each precinct's polling location, giving some rough idea of where the epicentres are.

Let's plot out the winning vote percentage of each polling location on a map, and see where the evidence falls:

    = Biden
    = His Fascist Opponent

[Map of Mercer County, WV with precinct-level pie charts of 2020 presidential election results superimposed]

Fuck, this is a bigoted place.

But not everywhere. Is that a tinge of blue I see in the lower left? Let's take all the pie charts, and put them in order. It's...a stark comparison:

[Simplified, colour-coded pie charts of 2020 presidential election results in Mercer County, WV precinct]

Dog bless Precinct 14: The north end of Bluefield, which happens to be the place where Mercer County's nonwhite population is sequestered as a lingering consequence of segregation. They're the exception to the rule. The ray of sunlight in an underground mine. And we need them...now more than ever before.


8 January 2021

Me:

Commander Keen

You know...I kind of miss West Virginia. I really shouldn't be so harsh on my home state...it was founded by radical leftists in opposition to the Confederacy, after all. Surely it ought to be a place defined by humanist values, where people treat others with dignity and respect? How bad can it be?

West Virginia:

Derrick Evans

West Virginia Lawmaker Derrick Evans Was One Of The Terrorists Storming U.S. Capitol

GOP Terrorist: West Virginia Lawmaker Derrick Evans was one of the Trump-loving domestic terrorists who stormed the U.S. Capitol.

"It should also come as no surprise that Evans campaigned as a conservative Christian, complaining that 'Christian values' had 'fallen away.' BuzzFeed notes that before being elected to the West Virginia House, Evans was 'a well-known anti-abortion activist who garnered a following by harassing people at West Virginia clinics.'"

Me:

Commander Keen Speechless

Feeling disoriented? Here's the site map that used to be on the front page.







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