• The Crossing Paths Issue

    Bad News Travels Fast

    The Crossing Paths Issue

    Bad News

    Bad News Travels Fast

    I don’t know what I’m going to do because this column keeps getting longer and longer. It’s been a rough seven days. Passover, Easter, April Fools Day, a couple of massacres – you know, the usual batch of the hard stuff. So twist off the cap of something strong like a pint of Ben and Jerry’s, wash your eyeliner off ahead of time, and launch an ice cold browser window because this week we’re just going in.

    But first, maestro?

    Monday, March 30

    Because everything is just generally so horrible, it’s always tough to know which of the bad news to start with each week. So I started with what I saw as an instant SEO opportunity. Before I tell you why, let’s get some keywords in the article: Cum. Jizz. Wet. Load. Nut. Splooge. Ok, now for the bad news: a new study reveals pesticides on the food we eat dramatically lower sperm count, and increase likelihood of deformed sperm. Sure, I know what you’re thinking: “what’s so bad about shooting blanks?! No future!” But, uh, this is serious. The obvious implication here is that as the wealth gap widens, lack of access to organic foods is effectively sterilizing entire demographics. People with diets high in pesticide residue produce almost half the sperm – and 32% fewer ‘normally-formed’ sperm. (Sidenote: when I did a quick search for slang terms for sperm, I found ‘trouser gravy’, so there you go, more bad news.)

    No time to dwell, it gets worse: today drivers of a stolen Ford Escape were shot by security officers at the NSA; a man was killed by a gravestone in a cemetery; and, a couple followed GPS directions off a bridge that was under construction.

    Two unsettling items of drone follow-up. First, Amazon is avoiding US regulations by testing their delivery drones at a secret Canadian facility. Second, a German engineering firm is developing bug-shaped drones that form groups and work collaboratively. Eesh.

    Slack, GitHub, and British Airways were all hit with major hack attacks today. Experts suspect GitHub was targeted explicitly to expedite Chinese efforts to censor access to privacy technology.

    Sometimes, hackers breach security and snag sensitive data. Other times some space cadet emails shit to the wrong person. It’s hard to imagine a more high-profile instance of making that mistake than this poor schmuck who accidentally sent the identifying credentials of the the world’s thirty-one most powerful politicians to a local soccer organizing group:

    [Redacted] failed to check that the autofill function in Microsoft Outlook had entered the correct person’s details into the email ‘To’ field.

    Whoops! Looks like I’ll be ordering seven billion pizzas for delivery.

    Speaking of transparency in politics, the press has been uniting to fight the “politically driven suppression of news and information about federal agencies” it has faced from the Obama administration. Essentially, many in the political reporting industry (38 organizations and counting) are co-signing an accusation of state censorship. To make matters worse, when I called the White House for comment, they spat directly into my mouth, it was really gross.

    And of course, it’s the same bullshit from the right: today presidential-hopeful Jeb Bush said “I’ve always been nervous about the attacks on the NSA”. I find his suggestion – that NSA surveillance protects our civil liberties – about as compelling as I find the notion of state-bestowed civil liberties themselves. Which is to say ... uh ... why does my mouth taste funny?

    For some strange reason, it seemed important that conservative news agencies make a big deal out of this new trend in women’s health: reproductive health clinics which treat their patients to a spa-like retreat. After a couple millenia being systematically marginalized, sterilized without their consent, forced to reproduce, economically exploited, beaten under protection of the law, disenfranchized, and objectified ... maybe mind your business and let her wear a bathrobe and take it easy when she’s at the doctor. Damn can’t a bitch breathe?

    The Department of Defense thinks it’s having trouble recruiting young people into the armed forces, even though it has been meeting its goals since the height of the surge in Afghanistan. They swindle about 250,000 poor kids into risking it all for a shot at college each year. Why the cause for concern? Of the 7 million eligible to enlist, 3.5 million are unable to pass the entrance exams, and most of the remainder don’t meet physical fitness or ‘character’ standards. So where are all the eligible jarheads? My guess is getting arrested at Ultra 2015 in Miami. The war is over if you want.

    I spoke too soon. The war is not over. McDonalds is trying to save its brand by appealing to millennial ‘foodies’ with ... table service. Suit up, cadets.

    Tuesday, March 31

    Here’s a little meditation technique to help you get through the rest of this article. Imagine you’re laying on your back on an alien grassland on some distant planet on the other side of the galaxy looking up at the night sky where our sun appears as just a speck. Your crush leans over and whispers: “They say that many of the stars we see at night imploded centuries ago.”

    Yemen is on the verge of “total collapse” and planes are no longer flying over the country. Nationwide blackouts in Turkey are thought to be the work of extremists. Russia is testing new ICBMs capable of breaking existing treaties. Repeat after me: “pale blue dot, pale blue dot ...” Breathe.

    Imagine a dystopic future in which robots completely organize our lives, replace our economy, and turn us into batteries. You already saw that movie? Well according to this report, artificial intelligence has already been replacing us in the labor market in permanent ways and we just haven’t noticed.

    OK, class, can anyone help the NSA figure out why they’re facing record lows in recruitment? Speaking of: Facebook is facing serious allegations of tracking the behavior of users who have already deleted their accounts. Which, if you ask me is completely fucking terrifying because if we follow this logi— ooh, hey, a new shiny headquarters! What was I talking about again?

    I’ve been following the growing influence of the National Front – France’s disturbingly popular far-right political party – for a while now. The FN have yet to turn that popularity into serious political power because, despite the multi-party system, the French voters who don’t support the FN all agree on one thing: they don’t want the far-right running their local councils. So – easy Tex – you don’t have to load the rifle rounds quite yet. But if you live in France ... I dunno, you might want to keep a box or two in the cellar.

    Today, a Thai man was jailed over a Facebook post which was found to be insulting to the Thai royalty. Not-so-cool, right? Well not-so-cool several degrees of magnitude more, my friend, because they’re not going to let him out for twenty-five fucking years!!

    Hey, you guys, remember when there was practically a civil war on the streets of Ferguson, MO, for the last year and all the fucked up shit the cops were doing to journalists? Welp, the time has come: journalists have begun filing lawsuits against the susest-as-fuck police department in the country. Legal nerd, are you? Well, alright then.

    But hey, not all cops are terrorists. This guy is on my team, I don’t care what anyone says.

    Remember when we were trying to disassociate from all the terrible news by projecting ourselves to some distant planet? Well, it worked.

    Wednesday, April 1

    Mostly good news today. April fools! Got you. It sucked. Here’s how much:

    The state of California announced today that for the first time in history, it would be enforcing mandatory water rations to address its growing water crisis.

    Google filed a patent for customizable robot personalities based on real people.

    A bill to compensate major corporations for collecting our data for the NSA is back on the table, and working its way through congress.

    Veteran suicide numbers are still through the roof, and a new study found that it has nothing to do with being deployed in combat. Instead, research suggests that military life simply depletes most people’s will to go on. Every day, 22 veterans kill themselves.

    Thursday, April 2

    And the ‘noooooooo’ of the week goes to Disney! That’s right, they’ve done it again. In keeping with their trend of completely ruining everything good about my childhood, the monolithic family entertainment company has begun work on a live-action Winnie The Pooh film. Oh bother.

    For some reason (give you one guess), Chris Rock keeps getting pulled over by the cops. He’s been pulled over three times in the past few weeks, and he’s taking selfies.

    Fresh from the fuck-a-bunch-of-prisons-but-for-real-this-wont-end-well desk, Houthi Shiite militants seized the entire town of Mukalla today, took the presidential palace (President Hadi has been in exile for a week), and released 300 prisoners from the city jail. I can’t say I’m suuuuper optimistic about Yemen right now, and thoughts are with everyone with family there. Yikes.

    More fucking super depressing news: today al-Shabaab, the Somali Mujahideen stormed a college in Garissa, Kenya, killing nearly 150 people. Analyst speculate that al-Shabaab planned the attack to address a drop in recruitment numbers by attracting young militants who are otherwise leaving to fight with other more spectacularly horrific groups like ISIS and Boko Haram. Religious conflict in Africa just keeps getting more and more violent, and honestly I don’t think it’s going to slow down any time soon.

    Meanwhile, a new study in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry was released that finds as many as 69% of people who take antidepressant selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) have never suffered from clinical depression. It’s tough because, like, on the one hand I know that the mental health industrial complex overmedicates like a fucking factory, but on the other I know how completely inept psychiatrists often are when it comes to helping us with our mental and emotional struggles. Whatever the case, when 1 in 10 Americans are popping serious antidepressants every day, you know something serious is going on.

    Friday, April 3

    Good Friday began with the release of a 58-year-old black man who had been sitting on death row for the last thirty fucking godamn shitty ass years for something he didn’t do. I’m getting tired of reporting basically this same story every week and hereby propose we just fucking empty the prisons and figure out how to deal with the chaos. It’s not like it’s particularly orderly out here in the free world anyway.

    Case in point: today The Guardian published this video of Idaho police shooting a pregnant woman to death with an assault rifle. If you don’t want to watch the video – um, how many of these can a person watch in a year? – here are the important details: she was more than 10 feet away, she was having a breakdown, she wasn’t even close to threatening them, they cuffed her dead body.

    The US Department of Labor released its monthly jobs report today. Most of it was meh – the job market is still growing, albeit more slowly – but one set of numbers have a really disturbing story to tell. Namely, that the number of people with access to work is lower than it has been for three and a half decades. You heard me right: the last time this many people who wanted work but didn’t have it was in 1978. If that weren’t dismal enough: twelve million black people were unemployed last month at a rate of 10.1%, nearly double the national average. Wouldn’t you know it, it gets even worse: for young blacks aged 16 – 19 who are actively looking for jobs, one in four don’t have one. That’s five times the country’s average unemployment rate.

    But oh, it’s cool, because guess what? The US military has begun teaching soldiers about white privilege. Sigh, could there be any more proof that the time I spent giving a shit about social justice was a complete waste? Probably. Let’s check my magic list of links!

    That kid taped to the inside of everyone’s locker in third grade – Leonardo DiCaprio – is not only buying an island off the coast of Belize, he’s making it into two-thousand-dollar-a-night “sustainable luxury resort”. Wowwww. So greeeeeen. Very sustainabllle. Who am I kidding Leo, I can’t stay mad at you. I just wish this were a story about an anarchist cult off the coast of Thailand.

    More earthquakes in Okla-freaking-homa of all places are rattling residents of the state, leading many to seriously accuse the oil and gas industry of ruining the planet.

    Saturday, April 4

    Maybe you heard someone talking about Memories, the pizza place in Indiana that said, hypothetically, that they would refuse to cater a gay wedding. I bet you did. Maybe you heard about the thousands of 1-star reviews they received on Yelp since the comment went public. But did you know conservative booger-breaths raised $842,000 to support the business after the fact? Effective immediately, Mask Magazine will no longer be selling subscriptions to gay marriages. *Kicks feet up on desk, throws arms behind head, waits for right-wing sugardaddies to roll up*.

    Speaking of those crazy gays, Mike Huckabee, the presidential-hopeful-shaped bowl of yesterday’s Cream of Wheat said the “militant gay community” was to blame for “religious-freedom” law backlashes. Ahem. Mr. Huckabee? If you think a couple dick pic Yelp reviews constitute militancy, wait til you meet the real militant gay community.

    Good news for my fear of the mind control of my memories, but bad news for my fear of the memories I’ve actually got stored up there: a study published by Scientific American found that, after many tests, turns out you can’t erase a memory from someone’s brain. Like I said, bit of good-news-bad-news there.

    Today, instead of just slowly packing him into a moving food processor which is what I was rooting for, the state of California sentenced “revenge pornographer” Kevin Bollaert to 18 years in prison for extortion and identity theft.

    Sunday, April 5

    Maybe, just maybe, you might have been thinking “hey, I think 18 years is a long time to spend in jail for uploading thousands of naked pictures of women online without their consent, ruining their lives, and blackmailing them to take them down.” But guess what? It’s still less time than Purvi Patel is supposed to serve. As you may have heard already, Purvi Patel is a woman from Indiana who was sentenced this week to 20 years in prison for miscarrying a pregnancy. She will be the first woman in US history jailed for “feticide”. This story pisses me off so much I’m not going to say anything about it and just let my friend Natasha tell you why Purvi Patel’s feticide conviction in Indiana must be overturned.

    But, it’s Easter so I’ll try to chill a little bit. Do my breathing routine. Sit down. Grab my knees. Rock back and forth. Close my eyes, and return to my distant planet. See you there.

    Tune in next week:

    Google announces affordable data/voice plan! Google announces brain chip! Google announces remote sensations! Google announces replacement circulatory and resperatory systems! Google announces you kinda spaced out there, dude are you ok?!

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