The language of collaborators

It's taken less than 24 hours for the expected spin about the Nazi invasion of Charlottesville, Va. from parties who, at the very least, depend on white supremacist votes — including our nation's president. That spin? That even though only one side showed up in fake uniforms with long rifles and ran over the other side, this is somehow everyone's fault.

You hear this often during elections, especially the last election, that "both sides are bad, so …" It's a way for people making terrible decisions to distance themselves from the repercussions of said decisions by making themselves feel like it's an impossible choice. But, more insidiously, it allows them to capitalize on decent people's overwhelming urge to give others the benefit of the doubt, avoid conflict, and move on.

Let's be clear here: nobody asked for Nazis, the Klan, and more cowardly strains of "white separatists" to come to Charlottesville. The people of that town voted, deciding they didn't want racists' monuments in their public square anymore, and racists took it upon themselves to travel there, intimidate, and — once things went predictably bad — commit an act of terror straight out of ISIS' playbook.

(It's probably also worth mentioning that the alleged attacker fulfilled many a "Blue Lives Matters" supporters' bucket lists by running over people who support Black Lives Matter in the street.)

And yet, here we are, once again hearing the accusation that, somehow, the victims of violent racists are in some way responsible. That these normally peaceful advocates of genocide, forced relocation, and upholding bogus notions of racial purity through violence meant well, but, gosh darn it, somebody interrupted white men while they were speaking by torchlight.

We shouldn't be surprised. This has been the tactic of American racists for at least 160 years, stemming back to Bleeding Kansas.

If you don't remember Bleeding Kansas from history class, it's part of the five minute intro to two straight weeks of studying the Civil War. Basically, in 1854, Kansas was applying to be a state. At that time, states chose whether they would be free or slave states, which mattered a lot to slave states who worried about losing representational dominance in Congress.

When it looked like the people of Kansas were going to vote to be a free state, slave holders and complicit racists invaded Kansas. They left home to wage unspeakable terror on someone else in their own state … and yet, like the Civil War itself, slaveholder sympathizers successfully turned the conversation into one about "perspective." That, at some point, people in Kansas fought back, so really, aren't both sides to blame at least a little?

And good and decent people fall for it every time, appealing to the "better angels of our nature" for all the good that did for Lincoln.

That's why we need to remember Charlottesville, learn from it, and stop repeating this mistake of forcing victims to shoulder some of the blame for violence perpetrated against them.

And recognize that anyone who tries to make this argument, or still pretend that liberals made up the very real threat of the "Alt-Right," they are nothing less than modern day collaborators.

Playing at war

Some time around 1988? ’89? Anyway, at the tail end of the ’80s during Ronald Reagan’s third term, I and the other kids on my street in the San Antonio suburbs went to war. We formed armies based on existing affiliations and began an agreed upon build up.

My Mexican friends and I two doors down started building a fort because they always had lumber and I had a hammer and saw. This mighty construction effort consisted of stacking the lumber, halfway sawing through some pieces before getting tired, and hammering a few nails in because, hey, we had a hammer.

The girls, being wise, built bows and arrows out of sticks and shiny metallic elastic that never quite worked as advertised. As they practiced, they more threw the arrows throw a hoop more than knocked and let fly.

The white boys, however, already had all they needed and combined their mighty stockpiles of Rambo-themed camouflage and toy guns. I don’t remember if the war was their idea, but they had certainly prepared for it their entire young lives, parading around with their weapons since time immemorial.

After so many days or weeks of buildup, the white boys launched their attack on our fort. I wound up on top of our “ramparts” as my next door neighbor swung his heavy wooden and metal rifle at my legs.

It’s important to note that, unlike today’s brightly-colored plastic Nerf guns, toy guns back then were heavy, made of wood and metal, with only a plastic orange cap at the end to distinguish them from the real thing.

So, with no weapon of my own, I kicked him in the face.

All guns dropped. All whoops and ululations ceased as kids evaluated just how much trouble they were in based on proximity to the crying kid in a headband. And then they all scattered, leaving their bawling MIA to slowly cry his way home.

I don’t remember how severely my parents punished me, but I know I took a lot of heat for it. So it goes, though.

NED Talk: What if we got stormtroopers all wrong?

“You shoot the handsome guy!” “No, you!”

We’ve always joked about what terrible shots the stormtroopers in Star Wars are. In all of the original series movies combined, they manage to hit

  • A hallway of rebel soldiers.
  • One surly dirt farmer.
  • His blue milk-slinging wife.
  • The shoulder of one weird advocate for representational government who also has everyone call her princess.
  • One or two Ewoks

So, what gives? Are full-face helmets a bad choice in a gunfight? I refuse to think so.

But, take into consideration that, under stress, some soldiers tend to fire high, above the enemy’s heads. Especially draftees. (There’s no evidence that stormtroopers are drafted, but it’s an awfully big galaxy to police/civil war in, so it’s certainly plausible to assume conscription happens.)

Is it possible that, unwilling to kill farm boys and girls in fabulous up-dos, stormtroopers missed on purpose?

But, you may ask (g’on, I dare ya), what about those examples in the opening paragraph? Exceptions that prove the rule.

The crew of the Tantive IV, Owen, and Beru had the misfortune of running into Vader’s personal troops on a really bad day to intentionally not kill rebels. Vader’s right there, breathing in their ears, and super pissed that he’s on point to save a battle station he doesn’t even care for. Given the narrow space quarters above and guff they most likely took from Owen below, those were kill or be killed situations. Morals don’t apply there. And, as a metaphor for her entire life and marriage, Beru was at the wrong place at the wrong time.

Leia’s shoulder on Endor? Probably an accident. Stormtroopers’ shooting is like jazz: you judge it by all the targets they don’t hit.

The couple of Ewoks? Maybe accidents. But you look into those dead yellow eyes and see if you can find a humanity worth preserving.

Dead, lifeless eyes. Like a doll’s.

So, in a way, aren’t the stormtroopers sort of heroes?

And before you answer that, consider how many get indiscriminately mowed down by space wizards, the aristocracy, pirates, and Chuckie dolls wearing teddy bear skins.

Maybe those masks were a bad choice, because nobody even cares when the people behind them are eaten. Even after they laid down their lives rather than shoot Princess Patty Hearst.

Yeah, keep eating and dancing, fly boy.

So, thank you to the men and women of the 501st. May your cod pieces never chafe.

Token Dude weighs in on gender wage gap three days later

So, I sat on a panel at the Association of Proposal Management Professionals (APMP) National Capital Area (NCA) Mid-Atlantic Conference (MAC) and Expo last week. How’d that happen? The panel was about the next generation of proposal professionals (a.k.a., “Better Know a Millennial”) and, while there are many young women entering my field, there are very few young men who are (a) known quantities to the APMP-NCA leadership and (b) willing to sit in front of a crowd and answer questions about generational differences in our workplaces.

In short: I was offered the rare opportunity to be a token dude and jumped at it.

The only way you can tell that this isn't a stock photo is because we're not laughing at salad.
The only way you can tell that this isn’t a stock photo is because we’re not laughing at salad. [Source: Lisa Pafe]
Most of the panel was easy. We practiced a few times on the phone, so we all came in with a few canned stories for each of our moderator’s questions. If anything, it got easier at the panel itself because we could finally see each other and figure out who’s about to talk. This was critical for me because, as Token Dude, I didn’t want to interrupt any of my peers and become Token Mansplainer.

But, then we opened up for questions from the audience. And that’s when things got exciting — mostly because I figured there wouldn’t be any. It was the last session before the bar opened, right?

Now, you’ll have to forgive me here because I don’t remember the exact phrasing of the question (thanks, open bar afterward), but I believe someone asked us how we felt about women in our field — proposal and business development — earning $20,000 – 30,000 less a year than men. (If the woman who asked sees this, please correct me if I got this wrong.)

I didn’t answer. For a couple of reasons:

1. I was caught off guard. Remember, the rest of the panel to this point was at least semi-rehearsed.

2. I deferred to the women on the panel. I didn’t want to act as a white knight when I was already sitting with three people more qualified to speak to their own experience.

If possible, I try to only Wayne Knight, never white knight.
If possible, I try to only Wayne Knight, never white knight.

I don’t regret not answering, but after having three days to mull it over, I know how I would respond if, say, I were the only person asked. After all, I may not be a woman in my field, but if the statistic is true — that my peers, including the ones I sat up on that stage with — are being paid less than me for no other reason except their gender, then what does that make me if I’m willing to go along with it?

So, in hindsight (which is how I’m a Jeopardy! champion in my own mind), here’s how I’d answer if ever asked again:

If that statistic — that women in business and proposal development are paid $20,000 to $30,000 less a year than equally qualified men — is true, then that’s abhorrent. Because, for that level of disparity, that means that this isn’t just an issue of one or two men being better salary negotiators than women — it’s companies knowingly paying a large portion of their workforce less across the industry.

It means that, since is the norm, I can only wonder if my own employer does this. That my peers, who are mostly women, are working the same crazy proposal hours I am, yet their work is somehow less valued than mine.

I don’t know if my employer pays women with my same level of experience and ability less than me. I assume not because I’m led by two extraordinary managers who are women, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they have full control over who does and doesn’t get paid more.

But, I want to believe that, if I found out that my employer does pay unequal salaries and wages for equal work, I would start looking for another job, even if it meant giving up a larger salary.

I don’t want to participate in a system that rewards me and undervalues someone else for an arbitrary reason. Because, if a company can justify discrimination or preferential treatment on the basis of gender — something we all know is wrong — then they can easily undervalue performance for less controversial reasons.

A company that can pay a woman less for being a woman can decide to pass me over for a raise or promotion because of my politics — which are garbage to most government contractors, I’m sure. Or my sexual preferences. Or because I’m not sufficiently manly enough — like I said in the panel, man, I hate golf.

I also said in the panel that I like working for and with women. I want to believe that my peers are as valued by my company as I value them. And I want to work in an environment where all of my colleagues, regardless of identification, are treated fairly because that’s not just good for women, members of the LGBT community, or ethnic minorities — that’s good for everyone.

Anyway, this panel was a great experience, one that I believe will shape my future career. I should probably do things like this more often. And maybe next time, it won’t take me three whole days to form a coherent thought about a complicated issue.

That time I wrote about Mike Rowe and he responded

So, Wednesday a week ago, I wrote a Take it from Snee column on SeriouslyGuys about a Mike Rowe post about whether he, as a celebrity, should recommend people vote. He declined to do so, and I took offense at the way he described the right to vote, the process to be ready to vote, and the idea that any actor using his or her celebrity to encourage people to vote were either (a) misguided but well-intentioned or (b) only doing it to win votes for their candidate without having to actually defend their own choice.

As someone who writes for a living, but not often enough on the stuff I want to do, I seized on that anger to write what seemed funny: what if Mike Rowe, of all people, was being a snob?

And so, I pulled full quotes of what he actually said, and then I recontextualized them. I “indigninantly” explained what I heard in his arguments.

For example: did Mike compare telling anyone to vote to giving anyone the gun that lots of people responsibly own but also was used to shoot 21 kids at Sandy Hook Elementary School? Yes, he did:

However, I’m afraid I can’t encourage millions of people whom I’ve never met to just run out and cast a ballot, simply because they have the right to vote. That would be like encouraging everyone to buy an AR-15, simply because they have the right to bear arms. I would need to know a few things about them before offering that kind of encouragement. For instance, do they know how to care for a weapon? Can they afford the cost of the weapon? Do they have a history of violence? Are they mentally stable? In short, are they responsible citizens?

Casting a ballot is not so different.

Mike could’ve chosen any gun to represent the exercise of our Second Amendment rights. He specifically chose the currently most controversial one in America. That’s symbolism, and I inferred from it a sense that we need to control who we do and don’t encourage to vote, like in Mike’s response when he asked me:

Forget about the apathetic and the willfully ignorant – what about the racists and the homophobes? The religious zealots? What about the tax-cheats and the wife-beaters? Do we really want to encourage bullies to vote? What about KKK enthusiasts? NAMBLA sympathizers? What about those who call for “more dead cops?” Can you think of no one who should maybe stay home on election day?

That’s quite a list of miscreants, deplorables even. But, I’ll get into that a little farther. I’m still sorting out where I quoted Mike correctly and where I went too far in my own head.

Did he say voters treating the election like American Idol was how we got our two major presidential candidates this year? Yes, he did:

Look at our current candidates. No one appears to like either one of them. Their approval ratings are at record lows. It’s not about who you like more, it’s about who you hate less. Sure, we can blame the media, the system, and the candidates themselves, but let’s be honest – Donald and Hillary are there because we put them there. The electorate has tolerated the intolerable. We’ve treated this entire process like the final episode of American Idol. What did we expect?

Did he say that this is election was settled by stupid people because stupid people watch American Idol? No, I inferred it because his main argument about voting is literacy, and reality television is the typical punching bag of people arguing that the American people are becoming overall dumber a la Idiocracy. But, Mike didn’t say anyone was stupid.

Did he say people should read certain books to be intellectually ready to choose to vote? Yes, he did:

Spend a few hours every week studying American history, human nature, and economic theory. Start with “Economics in One Lesson.” Then try Keynes. Then Hayek. Then Marx. Then Hegel. Develop a worldview that you can articulate as well as defend. Test your theory with people who disagree with you. Debate. Argue. Adjust your philosophy as necessary. Then, when the next election comes around, cast a vote for the candidate whose worldview seems most in line with your own.

Did he say that these were just examples of the kind of reading that can inform a populace prior to an election, and that there are other types of reading that prepare a person to cast a vote? No, he didn’t.

He also didn’t recommend reading news sources, candidate’s web sites, or government pages explaining referendums on ballots and how that kind of reading might be more important right before an election than Marx or Hegel until his later response. But, you know what? I didn’t either.

And it was pretty clear that we both meant to say it, even though neither of us did. And that’s where I was wrong and why I owed Mike an apology: I choose to describe his omission as malice and yet did not hold myself accountable for the same thingI accused him of a darker meaning behind his words that, on rereading both his original piece and his rebuttal, wasn’t there.

For example: did Mike say he wanted to reinstate constitutionally banned literacy tests? No, he absolutely didn’t. He only hopes, like most of us (including me), that people do read and take their right to vote seriously when they exercise it.

I made the leap to the slippery slope argument I often hear behind other people’s “we shouldn’t let stupid people vote, breed, etc.” arguments — an argument that I read in many comments that claim to agree with Mike. In almost every case “stupid” equals “person I disagree with politically,” “libtard” and “fascist” alike.

To those commenters: I suggest that you also reread Mike’s posts and pretty much everything else he’s written. If Mike is only hoping people choose wisely for themselves whether or not to vote, and you as a commenter agree with this, then it seems antithetical to then argue for measures that take that choice away.

You know, like what I originally accused him of. Which is why we’re all here today. And also why I’m responding on my own web site and not on SeriouslyGuys, a comedy blog: because this is a serious issue that deserves open words not designed around a punchline. (Also because there are two other writers on SeriouslyGuys whose work is worth reading without being interrupted by my mistakes.)

Fundamentally, I agree with Mike that it is always better if more people read, and that the benefits of reading extend beyond learning to voting, discourse, and politics. I mean, what writer wouldn’t encourage people to read?

I disagree with Mike, however, that one may only suggest reading and then consider voting — that voting is so serious that it’s better to let people decide maybe, eventually, should they decide to read books about economics. And I also disagree with the idea that everyone else, especially actors like Leo and, yes, Mike, should stay out of it.

I’ll break my disagreement up into two pieces.

1. Voting is serious, but not as dangerous as using a gun for politics.

Voting is serious and important, but exercising your Fifteenth, Nineteenth, Twenty-fourth, and Twenty-sixth Amendment rights is not analogous to exercising your Second Amendment rights — handing anyone a ballot is not handing them an AR-15. And that’s precisely what the Founders intended when they established voting as the means of selecting most offices of leadership.

After just fighting a war to win legislative representation, they knew that ballots are infinitely better than bullets. They’re safer, nobody except maybe Edgar Allen Poe dies, and because the losing side was not shot, they can work on their arguments and try again next year.

And we know that early Americans thought this way because, when Thomas Jefferson (yes, I know who he is) won the 1800 presidential election, his defeat of the incumbent Federalist Party and establishment of a government controlled by the Democratic-Republican Party was hailed as the “Revolution of 1800.” Why hailed? Because nobody had to die for it to happen.

So, voting isn’t analogous to our 2nd Amendment right. It’s analogous to our First Amendment rights. And while we all wish more people would read before exercising those rights, I don’t face a moral conundrum over whether it’s safe or polite to encourage people to speak, write, worship, or associate as they choose. I feel safe about recommending voting to anyone for the same reason. Especially to people I disagree with.

So, yes, I believe that accidentally encouraging racists and homophobes, religious zealots, tax-cheats, wife-beaters, bullies, KKK enthusiasts, NAMBLA sympathizers, and those who call for “more dead cops” is a perfectly acceptable risk to making a blanket encouragement to vote. Because if all of those people outnumber decent Americans who stayed home on election day, then Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are the least of our problems.

As for worrying about accidentally telling uninformed people to pull the lever …

2. People don’t read (or vote) without an interest.

Again, while I want everyone to read and vote, I don’t think political interest happens in that order. Or at least people don’t read books on economics before they decide whether or not to vote.

Instead, I find it easier to believe that deciding to vote first is more likely to send people to Amazon. Without that interest in selecting a leader, nobody need ever read a book on economics, history, politics, or biographies of our leaders. And I find, anecdotally anyway, that most people without that interest won’t, even if they are more than intelligent enough to do so.

And that’s why I disagree with Mike’s “read first, then decide” approach. It can potentially discourage people from taking the first step to read the kind of books that shape a more informed citizenry (“Why read Kynes if I know I’m not voting?”), even though that is not Mike’s intent. In a perfect world, people would seek those works out without prompting. But, it’s not a perfect world; it’s a democracy.

As Mike pointed out in his response, Trump won his primary with a 62 percent higher voting turnout, while Clinton won hers with a 21 percent lower turnout. While Mike thinks this mean turnout doesn’t matter when unlikeable candidates win, he’s still missing the larger picture. In total, 61 million votes were cast in the 2016 primary for somebody. That’s out of at least 219 million eligible voters, of which some 146 million are registered. Trump might have won with higher numbers of voters than last year, but who cares when apparently 73 percent of people who could vote didn’t.

I’m pretty sure 73 percent of voters aren’t in NAMBLA or unread, so I ‘m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt and tell them they should probably vote. They should read, too, of course. But, considering that 86 percent of American adults can read, encouraging them shouldn’t be too hard.

So long as we let people slide when they self-select political illiteracy and uninvolvement, our elections will continue to be decided by only half the eligible population voting. And, in my admittedly rosy view of the American people, I believe that our country makes its worst decisions when the votes of a few hyper-interested cranks aren’t drowned out by the overwhelming majority of common sense.

But, that’s a pretty minor disagreement that I blew way out of proportion. I threw nuance and civility out of the window to make deep-cutting accusations and jokes: that’s on me, not only because Mike didn’t deserve those accusations, but I failed my own argument, too. Mike has never in thought or deed demonstrated that he’s an elitist or supports disenfranchisement or oligarchy. Just as I have never advocated not reading.

I’m glad that Mike Rowe both rebutted my ill-conceived piece and accepted my sincerely offered apology on Wednesday. This experience will shape how I write both comedy and commentary on the future. And, hopefully, we can all look at it as an opportunity to let communication and kindness trump anger and points-scoring in future elections. Which I hope everyone will vote in.

And finally, why write this now after saying I had dropped it? Because Mike asked me some questions, and it would be rude not to respond to him. As for my response to other commentors, that was a freebie.

Your name is Richard: A thought experiment

Let’s say that, like me, your name is Richard.

There are several nicknames that float around for Richard: Rich, Rick, Ricky, Richie, multiple variations on those based on vowel preferences, Ditch (if you saw Terminal Velocity), and, finally, Dick.

Maybe I’m wrong here, but it’s generally an acceptable practice to designate your own nickname in new introductions. You know, unless you choose something ambitious and most-likely unachievable like “Snake” or “The Viceroy.”

So, you introduce yourself as Rick. Or Rich. Or maybe you’re eight-years-old or a very well-paid Dominican baseball player, so you call yourself Ricky.

The other person responds, “Pleased to meet you, Dick.”

“Please, call me [Rick/Rich/Ricky],” you respond politely. Maybe they misheard you.

“Yeah, sure. Look, Dick, I nee …” he continues, nonplussed.

“No, not Dick. Rrrrick.”

(Or "Di-tch," you courageous Charlie Sheen fan, you.)
(Or “Di-tch,” you courageous Charlie Sheen fan, you.)

“Uh-huh. So as I was saying, Dick …” he resumes, annoyed that you interrupted him while speaking.

“Look, you’re not listening to me. I said my name is Rick. Not Dick. Don’t call me Dick.”

“Woah, calm down now,” he says, raising his hands. “There’s no need to get offended. My great-grandfather was a Dick. That makes me a-sixteenth Dick. I’m just trying to honor you.”

“I don’t care if you’re a full-blooded Dick. I don’t like to be called Dick because I can never tell if someone’s calling me Dick or a dick.”

“Well, that’s your problem, Dick,” he says, getting angry. “I know lots of Richards who call themselves Dick. In fact, 90 percent of the Richards I asked said they were unoffended by the term ‘dick.'”

“Good for them. I, however, don’t want to be called Dick.”

“Do you even know the history behind ‘Dick?'” he says, turning red. “Well, I do. The first person to use the term was a Richard to introduce himself. It wasn’t even a slur back then.”

“I don’t call myself Dick. And it’s a slur right now, especially the way you keep saying it.”

“OK, fine, Richard, since you want to get all politically correct about it,” he says, rolling his eyes. “So, anyway, I need your approval to continue calling a sports team in your honor the Washington Dickskins. Do I have it?”

"And if you don't play ball, I'm moving the Dickskins to Maryland!"
“And if you don’t play ball, I’m moving the Dickskins to Maryland!”

Your Talk Like A Pirate Day Reminder

Do ye have th’ guts to raise ye colors in th’ workplace?
Do ye have th’ guts to raise ye colors in th’ workplace?

If it’s still Wednesday and you’re reading this, then tomorrow (Thursday) is Talk Like A Pirate Day. If it’s Thursday morning, then it’s not too late to pretend you swallowed a bug or had a stroke and start celebrating post-haste.

The Guys have a long history with TLAPD. In fact, one of us may secretly even be a ghost pirate! (It’s Chugs. The ghost pirate guy is Chugs.)

It’s because of this intimacy with what may very well be our favorite holiday — yes, even more so than Slutoween — that gives us pause this year. What if TLAPD happens, and nobody talks like a pirate?

“I worked from home yesterday so some contractorrrs could overhaul m’bunghole.”
“I worked from home yesterday so some contractorrrs could overhaul m’bunghole.”

Consider the scenario: you walk into work, make a beeline for the coffee pot and see that guy from Contracts who told you his name once, like, a year ago, but you forgot it. Do you say to him in Buccanese, “If ye took the last cup o’ bilge, ye better be makin’ another pot?” Or do you wait for him to growl first?

But, what if he’s waiting for your cue? And what if you both decide — because you both failed — that TLAPD just isn’t a thing anymore, even though you really wanted to?

And what if everyone does that tomorrow? All it takes is just one missed chance in the morning for everyone in your social and professional circles to decide, “You know what? I’ll just talk like an ordinary jerk off today instead of having a good time.”

It’s not enough to “talk” like a pirate online. That’s just typing. I’m typing right now. (Well, I was.) It’s not that big a deal. And it’s not Talk Like A Pirate Day if you don’t talk.

Crossbones Pete says, “Don’t be fergettin’ th’ reason fer the season, mateys! Talk like a pirate!“
Crossbones Pete says, “Don’t be fergettin’ th’ reason fer the season, mateys! Talk like a pirate!

That’s why it’s up to you (yes, you, the one reading this) to make it not weird. Take the first step. Be a communicator. I’m not advocating jumping out from behind stationary objects to yell “YARRRRRGH!” in people’s faces, but if that’s how your Jolly Roger hangs, then so be it.

And if you’re not sure how to do it, then don’t worry: we wrote the How To.

Do it in the name of pirates who didn’t just rob people, but also explored, really got out there, met new people and then robbed them. Be a hero like Francis Drake who, sure, only circumnavigated the world to elude the Spanish Armada while hitting up all their colonies, but still circumnavigated the whole freaking world.

Make tomorrow the one day it sounds kind of cool to say, “Carrrpe diem.”
Make tomorrow the one day it sounds kind of cool to say, “Carrrpe diem.”

Who knows? Maybe it’ll get you some booty. Or, better yet, some sweet ass loot that people had lying around, waiting for some stranger to call them “matey.”

Ye’ll be right glad ye did, m’hearties!


This post originally appeared on SeriouslyGuys.

Is the pope ironically Catholic?

The other cardinals elected Pope Lando because someone must have told them all about his little maneuver at the battle of Taanab. Also: because he came with his own gold cape.
The other cardinals elected Pope Lando because someone must have told them all about his little maneuver at the battle of Taanab. Also: because he came with his own gold cape.

People just can’t get enough of the new pope. Not since Pope Benedict the XVI retired and the Vatican rebooted the papacy with Francis, the first originally named pope since — I shit you not — Pope Lando in 913 A.D. (John Paul I doesn’t count because his name was just combined his two direct predecessors.’)

But they didn’t just give him a fancy unnumbered title and lens flare. With each news story, Francis acts a little more how each of us, Catholic and non, would like to see a pope act, which is usually not like any pope we’ve known in our lifetimes.

In fact, he’s so un-pope-like that … well, what if he’s being pope ironically? I’m not confident enough in my afterlife to outright call the holy see a hipster, but here’s evidence that, were it anyone else, would cause even the juicer at Whole Foods to throw their douche flag. (It’s dry quinoa wrapped in a keffiyeh, bound with old timey packaging twine.)

Judge for yourself … y’know, unless ye be judged first or whatever.

And he only wears those because you can’t go to church in Crocs.
And he only wears those because you can’t go to church in Crocs.

Going back to the beginning, the first headlines were about how he refuses to wear the designer red shoes that traditionally come with his office. Instead, he wears simple black dress shoes — basically the kind you look for at Payless before that big court date or second wedding.

When it comes to humility, this guy has it all the way down to his sole, amiright? (I have just been told that I am right, but also an ass.)

Or … did he spend hours picking out the exact shoes that say, “I’m the kind of guy who looks like he doesn’t care about what he wears on his feet?”

And then there’s his car.

First, he refused to ride around in the bulletproof Popemobile while visiting Brazil. Is it that he doesn’t believe in putting up barriers between people and their spiritual leaders … or, did he worry that looking at Rio through bulletproof glass wouldn’t be “authentic” enough?

Fortunately, this glass isn't bulletproof. Yet.
Fortunately, this glass isn’t bulletproof. Yet.
It's fuel-efficient, American and vintage.
It’s fuel-efficient, American and vintage.

Then, back in July, he gave priests grief for driving “latest model cars.” Could it be that he wants priests to adopt a more humble lifestyle …

Or, is he just jelly because he drives a 1983 Chevy Renault? Either way, he comes up smelling like roses, except when he smells like gasoline, but who knows if that’s from working on his car or dabbing some behind his ears so that he smells like a tinkerer?

He’s also big into the internet, granting some of his more participatory followers shorter times in purgatory, making retweeting the official new “Hail Mary.”

He’s also really big into some liberal issues. Well, big for a Catholic leader, anyway. And he’s not just liberal, he’s indifferent. Gay? Pfft, not for him to judge. Atheist? Meh, you’ll probably still get into heaven, but you’ll have to stand in line behind the Protestants. He cares and yet doesn’t at the same time!

But there are two liberal issues that he’s willing to dispense with irony for: poor people and being anti-war. Coupled with his modest apartment in Vatican City, and it’s clear that Pope Frank’s Occupying Apostolic Palace.

He even does the Occupiers' weird sign language up and down voting.
He even does the Occupiers’ weird sign language up and down voting.

OK, so maybe I’m grasping at straws here. After all, hipsters pretty much subverted genuineness by putting a silly fedora on it and making it walk backwards because that’s the opposite of what people expect.

But, there’s still one more piece of evidence.

Recently, people reported receiving phone calls from the pope in response to letters they wrote.

In one case, he called a divorced woman whose married boyfriend got her pregnant and tried to pressure her into an abortion. (The boyfriend, not the pope, obvs.) When she said she was worried about “running afoul of the Church,” Pope Francis said he would personally baptize her child when he or she is born.

In another, he called an Argentinian woman who had been raped by police, asking her to try to have faith in the justice system.

He even called a guy whose brother had been killed in a gas station robbery, just to tell him that his letter had made him cry.

That’s right: the pope uses his phone for talking. Isn’t that so retro?!

If the nerd frame glasses fit ...
If the nerd frame glasses fit …

Talk to your parents about drugs

“Why don’t I get the check, and then we can inject heroin into one of my testicles. Ladies’ choice.”
“Why don’t I get the check, and then we can inject heroin into one of my testicles. Ladies’ choice.”

Parents. According to conventional wisdom, they know best. But, as you move out — be it for school, work or marriage — ask yourself this: do you know where they are and what they’re doing right now?

Maybe they’re knitting. Or gardening. Or doing it to DVDs full of people with pubic hair. Or — as it’s turning out to be the case — marijuana.

And if you think it’s not your parents, think again. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services), illicit drug use among 50- to 64-year-olds has doubled since 2002.

So, what are you going to do to make sure your parents don’t turn on, tune in and drop out … again?

Learn the signs

The first step to pointing out others’ problems is knowing that they have one and then admitting it to them. People aged 50 and above won’t make this easy for you.

Called the Baby Boomers, this set of precocious young elderly people have devised their own lingo for the drugs we take for granted today. They might use strange terms like “grass,” “weed” or “doobies.” Or even refer to it in archaic measurements like “dimes” from a time when people used solid metal coins for currency.

Is this photo from 1973 or 2013? Thanks to Instagram, who knows?
Is this photo from 1973 or 2013? Thanks to Instagram, who knows?

If you think monitoring them online will help you keep tabs on their activities, forget about it. While Boomers may set up Facebook or Twitter accounts, many of them eat meals — or mushroomswithout posting a single picture online. No, not even on Snapchat.

Instead, you’ll have to watch what they do in a space called “offline.” Keep a watch for strange smells emanating from the garage and Frank Zappa music. Or long, aimless car trips when they “just need to drive.” And if they mention that they’re thinking about trying a “B&B,” that is code for “blunts and Beelzebub,” which is when they smoke marijuana and worship lesser Satanic demons.

What to do

“I’m not mad, mom and dad. Just … disappointed.”
“I’m not mad, mom and dad. Just … disappointed.”

The important thing is to remain calm. Loud emotional outbursts — like sob-yelling, “Hypocrites!” — is exactly the kind of thing that triggers the giggles if they’ve just “baked.”

Wait until your parents have suitably mellowed out, and then calmly explain that you know what they’ve been doing and that, when you were your age, you tried marijuana and other drugs, too.

While you can’t outright forbid your parents from taking drugs, you can make sure they know how to do them safely. Ask to meet their dealer, or if medical marijuana is legal in your state, take them to a medical dispensary so that they can learn the safest ways to obtain and use it.

And then, once that’s over, go visit your grandparents and talk to them about chlamydia.

And maybe their pill addiction, too.
And maybe their pill addiction, too.

This post originally appeared on SeriouslyGuys.

Just three more weeks of this nonsense

Unless the race of handsome aliens finally rescues Tom Brady from this world, this is the only chance you’ll get to see Tebow hold the football sideways like he did in those plays about gangs during Youth Group.
Unless the race of handsome aliens finally rescues Tom Brady from this world, this is the only chance you’ll get to see Tebow hold the football sideways like he did in those plays about gangs during Youth Group.

Last week heralded the return of football. Unfortunately, it’s preseason, which looks a lot like college ball: a parade of players in the final stage of their tryouts, while guaranteed performers are kept on the back burner to prevent injuries. (Or, as Dan Snyder calls them: “unapproved Paid Time Off.”)

Preseason football is the handjob you endure for now because you know there will be sex in a couple of weeks. You just have to put your time in first, get to really know your team, first string and last. And then, POW! Bangin’ all the way until February, when you f**k things up by dropping the ball on Valentine’s. (And after that division championship she got you for Steak and a Blowjob Day? For shame.)

My wife’s lackluster handjob was Tim Tebow because she’s one of those people who thinks the city of Boston walks on water.

Technicalities.
Technicalities.

But, that’s not to say you can’t enjoy preseason football. It is, after all, not college football, which sucks, no matter what people from Alabama try to tell you.*

For example: last week, I had to endure three quarters of Rex Grossman, a player that even the Bears got tired of. And that was a team that, before Grossman, hadn’t been to a Super Bowl since 1985 and hasn’t been back since.

To be honest, I couldn’t pick Sexy Rexy out of a lineup with his helmet off, so here’s Rex Manning.
To be honest, I couldn’t pick Sexy Rexy out of a lineup with his helmet off, so here’s Rex Manning.

However, what happened that fourth quarter — just when I was about to cue up Star Trek — made it all worthwhile: watching Pat White, the fourth stringer, earn Grossman’s third string spot the way Brian Griese had taken it from Sexy Rexy in 2007 and Kyle Orton after him.

Also, watching fans take a preseason win as a sign of this being “their year.” The 2008 Detroit Lions, who won all four of their preseason games before embarking on what would be the first imperfect NFL season since Baltimore’s first football team, would laugh at your hubris if it didn’t bring back so many sad, painful memories.

So, while, yes, preseason football is mostly a fight between second and third stringers, at least you know that your team will be alright should the bus accident from Beetlejuice happen. (Something similar happened to Lynyrd Skynyrd, which means that fans don’t ever have to put up with hearing “one from our new album.”)

“What do you mean ‘Kirk Cousins is starting tonight?’”
“What do you mean ‘Kirk Cousins is starting tonight?’”

Or, at the very least, a glorious start to what could very well turn out to be a mediocre year.


*Yes, yes: some college players transition naturally into the pros their rookie year. Strangely enough, though, the top 3 rookie performers last year — Russell Wilson, Andrew Luck and RG III — were not from the SEC, indicating that even college football rankings (just like your degree) don’t matter in the real world. (The 4th, Casey Hayward, came from Vanderbilt. Let me reiterate: Vanderbilt.)


This post originally appeared on SeriouslyGuys.