Stop it, brain.

There are two things which my brain is thoroughly convinced I am good at, in spite of the fact that I suck at them both and have never successfully done either in my life:

Tap-dancing and juggling.

But I constantly, CONSTANTLY have dreams in which I demonstrate coolly casual, master-level expertise at both, and when I wake up I do so with the briefly-lived, sincere and complete belief that I am awesome at them. It lasts about 60 seconds.

To this day, I can juggle up to one ball without hurting myself, and tap one foot to a rhythm no more complex than a Britney Spears tune. That’s it. But try telling my brain that: it’s convinced that if I just tried them once more, the latent skills would all come flooding back to me and I would be AMAZING. Because I have all this dream experience, and that’s almost like practicing, right?

So I do. And I look like a dumbass once more.

Goddammit brain: I hate you so much.

And any time it doesn’t use lying to me about my juggling and tap-dancing skills, it spends dreaminding me how crappy and stressful high school was. THIRTY GODDAMM YEARS AGO.

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If you feel you are in danger, then leave the danger zone.

If you see people walking into a store or a restaurant with openly-carried rifles and weapons, there is no way for you to ascertain what their intentions are. You can’t tell whether they are a “good person with a gun”, a “bad person with a gun”, or a “generally good person with a gun who could be triggered by some unknown level of confrontation into becoming a bad person with a gun” or anything in between.

The correct action to take is to remove yourself from the situation. Abandon your cart of purchases, don’t worry about paying for food; just get out. It is perfectly rational to feel unsafe, and it’s better to be out of the way in case their (unknown) intentions are not good ones. You should not feel obligated (legally OR morally) to stay and pay for your purchases if you feel your life is endangered. If you are in a restaurant and have already eaten your meal, you can call the restaurant after the fact, let them know why you left, and offer to pay for it over the phone. You may call the store and explain why you left your purchases in a cart in the middle of the aisle. You may also advise them whether you intend to return to the restaurant or store if you do not feel safe there.

It’s a risk with which companies that allow open-carry into their stores and restaurants will have to learn to deal.

Unless you can explain to me why I should always feel perfectly safe when random people carrying rifles walk into a Target store or a Mexican food restaurant or any other place where rifles are not part of the general commercial activities conducting within, then this seems to be a perfectly rational response. This isn’t even a gun-specific action: I would probably do the same thing if someone came into a Chipotle wielding a chainsaw.

Then again, “Stand Your Ground” laws in your state also allow you to take matters into your own hands if you are armed and feel threatened, and act preemptively. I can’t make any recommendation in that situation, but it seems to me that the law would be pretty clearly on your side in those cases.

Excerpt #9

“Have you met the Killersteins? Absolutely lovely couple, quite charming. You’d really like them. Unfortunate last name though!”

“Ha ha, yes. It does rather make them sound like murderers.”

“What? Oh yes, but they are: serial killers, both of them. Quite psychopathic. I meant it’s just so unfortunate to telegraph their intentions quite so blatantly. There’s just no subtlety: it completely *ruins* the surprise.”

– Excerpt from my upcoming book “Murderbia in Suburbia”, available in 2015 through every possible publishing company in the world simultaneously because it’s so awesome and they each felt unworthy to publish it by themselves.

Constitutional Rights for corporations, yes… and they can still be not equal to people.

Granting rights to corporations is what gives us freedom of the press and many of the positive rights enjoyed by unions and non-profit organizations that we support. I’m not saying I agree with the Court’s rulings in Citizens United and Hobby Lobby: I’m just saying that a blanket statement of “corporations don’t have rights like people have rights” and any movement to amend the Constitution to remove those rights has a very hard job ahead of itself to carve out the consequences we don’t like about granting rights to corporations (which are, at the end of the day, just groups of individuals) from the consequences we do like.

There’s a reason the right to peaceably assemble and petition the government and to free speech are in the same Amendment. The combination of those three is what gives us the ACLU, for example. Whenever you move to amend, don’t just think about what your proposed amendment will do to Hobby Lobby: think about what it will do to Americans United for Separation of Church and State, to the ACLU, to the AFL-CIO, to the press, and to for-profit companies that use their money for speech that you support, not just that which you oppose.

Let’s just say I’m not opposed to a “move to amend”, but when organizations that promote the amendment say things like “money is not speech!”, they aren’t clearly contemplating the consequences of that statement. Any movement that restricts a person’s OR GROUP OF PERSONS’ right to political speech and expression of political opinion will find it close to impossible to do without screwing up the very freedom to conduct robust, fiery and heated debate about the political climate which led to the creation of the United States in the first place. It took money to publish the Federalist Papers.

When a site like “Move to Amend” proposes an amendment that strips all Constitutional rights from any and all “artificial entities established by law”, I think of freedom of the press and shudder.

There’s probably a way to achieve these goals through an amendment process, but I have yet to see proposed a good way to do it that doesn’t undermine principles of expression, self-determination and self-government cherished by both the left and the right.

Open Carry MN

I’m launching a local chapter of Open Carry Minnesota: we’ll be openly brandishing IUDs and Plan B packages at the Hobby Lobby store that opens here in August.

Don’t worry, we’ll have the safety on. No chance of a contraceptive accidentally going off and providing choice to an employee against their (employer’s) will.

Teachable moments

The moment of the soccer 2014 World Cup that I wanted my son to watch the most was Brazil’s David Luiz consoling Colombia’s James Rodriguez after Colombia’s defeat. There is so much in that instant: sportsmanship, the ability as a male to express your emotions openly, respect, not gloating over the win but rather feeling empathy for the match losers, a heartfelt moment between two players who have both worked so hard and so long to be at the top of their game, the shared humanity of both players after 90 minutes of being on opposing sides, Luiz pointing to Rodriguez to the crowd so they would recognize him… even as they exchanged shirts, suddenly they appeared as two equal human beings, no longer differentiated and set apart by national colors.

It was a beautiful moment, and a very teachable one.

As a parent I want more moments like this. I want all moments like this.

I’m hoping my son will remember that moment, and not the time 24 hours later when his dad was screaming himself hoarse at the television for two hours.