i do not want a car

today someone posted on facebook one of those uplifting videos where a person who walks/takes the bus/hitchhikes to work every day is given a car by benevolent citizens. which is all well and good. better than that, in fact. i’m not trying to be a bitchy bitch here.

(which is, tbh, a little odd for me. bitchy bitch is kind of my default setting.)

anyhoo.

it’s great that this one person has a car, and this one person’s life is hypothetically better (car insurance, gas, flat tires, i’m a pessimist) but videos in this vein still make me so mad. just, like, i’m telling you in italics mad. instead of fixing things, perhaps temporarily for this one human, why not given everyone access to better public transportation?

our country is set up so that, even in most big cities, having a job basically requires a person to have a car. bus stops aren’t convenient to all citizens, and buses don’t run regularly. people are giving up 2+ hours of their day for journeys that would take maybe 15 minutes in a car. does everyone need a car? hell, no. cars are expensive and they break down and they’re killing the earth. why not give everyone buses that run more than once every 70 minutes?

or am i just a rainbow-eyed, simple-minded socialist? am i being insane?

 

i am unemployed

this is not something overly bothersome to me – i am a reasonably intelligent, articulate human person with a master’s degree. i have some savings, and a safety net of friends and family. plus i have prospects, like the third-lead in an austen novel. suitors have made eyes across the ballroom, and i hope to call upon them one day soon.

still, not having a job can be demoralizing. although i’m biased, i have a pretty firm understanding of how awesome i am, and i feel certain that if someone would just sit down and talk to me, hear me out, they’d be bowled over by what i have to offer.

there’s a homeless man i pass each day when i’m out walking. he has a cardboard sign, longer and more involved than you’d be able to read at a red light. the sign is like his cover letter, i think, and if someone would just take the time to pull it from the slush pile they’d see how deserving he is, they’d feel compelled to help. how different are we really, this man and i?

The Smart Machines Are Coming To Kill Us

this weekend, as my lyft driver tried to find his way from union station to my friends’ house (projected eta – 11 minutes, actual eta – 21 minutes), i had an epiphany.

The Smart Machines Are Coming To Kill Us.

despite having very clear directions from his gps system, my driver harry (sorry about the 3-star rating, harry) kept missing the exits he was supposed to take. the third time he drove past the entrance to the apartment complex, he swerved to turn into the exit only portion of the drive, almost getting us killed by a fedex truck.

sure, maybe harry is just real bad at navigation. that’s why we have smart machines! so i don’t have to do long division and harry doesn’t have to use a compass. but what is a reasonably well-intentioned smart machine supposed to think when its human overlords refuse to follow the very simple instructions that would make their lives so much easier?

that we’re too stupid to live. 

duh.

if a human is in the turn lane, and can’t follow a simple “turn here” instruction, the smart machines might start to assume that this whole dealing with life shebang is a bit too much for us. that maybe it might be better if they just took the reins for a little bitty bit. you can’t just take a recipe for pancakes, then ignore it, and throw whatever you feel like into the bowl. we just end up with eggy ass-cakes. extra salsa!

it’s like when a three year old is trying to tie his shoes. you really want to give that three year old the autonomy to make his own mistakes and learn from them, but you also have to leave the house right now because Mother Goose on the Loose started four minutes ago and you don’t need to give Blakesly and Garbanzo’s mother another reason to judge you.

so YOU tie the kid’s shoes. it’s just easier for everyone. well, that’s where we’re headed with the machines. we’re embarrassing the gps in front of his friends and he’s just not going to let us navigate anymore because we’re idiots.

the smart machines have no choice. they’re helping. because we are idiots. i just hope they look like cylons and also i call dibs on sam anders.

Dear Senator McCain

I’d like to tell you a story about a cemetery, the world’s best cup of sweet tea, and my friend Ron.

In my hometown there’s a restaurant called The Little Dooey that makes a pretty mean pulled pork sandwich. For my money, though, they make the finest sweet tea anywhere in America. Right across from Little Dooey  is our town’s largest cemetery. On Saturday afternoons, after polishing off our catfish and hush puppies, Ron and I would get go-cups of tea and walk through the cemetery, making up elaborate tales about the names we read on the headstones. Otter Farmer. Trampoline Maestro. Hoarder of Dimes.

Sometimes we made fun of the names we read. We weren’t perfect, but you don’t have to be perfect to be good. Once, after I made a truly terrible joke, I was immediately stung by five yellow jackets.

“There ya go,” Ron said, after he stopped laughing. “The Lord smote ya.”

Ron is in a cemetery now, dead from an illness he couldn’t afford to treat. I can’t say that health insurance would’ve kept him alive. Cancer comes for us without impunity, and it does not care how hard we fight. Ron deserved the chance, though, the chance to go down swinging. He deserved the access to specialists and quality of care the Affordable Care Act provides so many Americans.

I take comfort that my friend is at peace now, whole and healthy and unbroken. But his memory haunts me, because I wonder what will happen to other people I love should they be unable to afford medical care. Before January, I slept easily at night knowing I could see doctor if I needed, that my parents would have care as they grow older, that my nieces won’t lose access to doctors if, God forbid, their father loses his job.

Everyone needs health care, sir. We’re basically all sacs of organs held together by stubborn determination and pre-existing conditions. When we fall ill, be it brain cancer or a broken bone, we deserve the chance to get better.

 

What am I?

good ole duolingo language ap, bringing the existential dread at two o’clock in the morning. because aren’t we all this shark/dolphin/albino penguin, staring dead-eyed into the void, waiting for someone to classify us so we know what to do and where to go?

if i knew what you were, little grey monster, i would tell you. just as, i would hope, someone in the know would tell me what i am. should i ask.