Archive for category News

Bannon and the Alt-Right

I don’t often do political commentary online. I get a lot of anxiety about the idea of people being mad at me, moreso if I believe they are upset just due to a misunderstanding. So, engaging in what is likely to be a highly polarizing debate about politics is never high on my list of things to do.

I’m finding that discourse and disagreement and vocalizing concerns in the political spectrum are more and more important as everyone gets farther and farther apart in their political camps. So I’m going to suck it up and post something I’ve been thinking a lot about.

There are some liberal responses to Trump’s election that I think are pretty silly. The whole “Calexit” thing is dumb. Announcing you are moving to Canada, unless you really love Canada (and, really, why wouldn’t you?), is not helpful. Claiming the electoral college needs to be overturned feels reactionary — whether or not it should be done away with or overhauled, only bringing it up when your side loses is… obvious.

On the other side of the coin there are very legitimate things that everyone should be concerned about, regardless of their political leanings. The rise of Steve Bannon and the alt-right is something that should be a problem for everyone in America. It’s not a partisan concern. Bannon should not be part of a Trump administration that wants to hold any pretense of governing for the better good of all Americans. And this is why.

Bannon took over as head of Breitbart news after Andrew Breitbart died in 2012 and morphed that fringe conservative news outlet into the self-professed voice of the alt-right. The alt-right likes to brand itself as a new wave of conservatism, the logical extension of the tea party movement and the future of the right-wing. Do not be fooled by this rhetoric. The alt-right is a platform built on racism, homophobia, sexism and xenophobia. It may be easy to mistake it for something more benign if you are not getting all your news from it, but at its core it is a venomous creature.

Let’s look at this article from March of 2016. This is a piece by Breitbart about the alt-right. So, I am not pulling this information from some far-left liberal hit piece. This is straight from the horse’s mouth, as it were.

It’s a long piece; I’ll try to break it down a bit for you. The authors break the alt-right into a series of groups, and there are massive problems with how they present all of them. I will be highlighting some of the low points in this write-up. Also, if you spend a few thousand words profiling your political group’s members and the thesis running through the entire thing is “see, we’re totally not racist” then you might want to consider that you doth protest too much.

First, there’s The Intellectuals. In this section, the bona fides of the alt-right are attempted to be established by listing its serious thinkers and talking about just generally how smart they all are, which is apparently what bothers everyone about them. “The alternative right are a much smarter group of people — which perhaps suggests why the Left hates them so much.” I’m going to leave alone the fact that they proudly count the internet “manosphere” among their members because that’s a whole article by itself. The thing I want to highlight here is this:

“Steve Sailer, meanwhile, helped spark the ‘human biodiversity’ movement, a group of bloggers and researchers who strode eagerly into the minefield of scientific race differences…”

Read that carefully. Unpack it. “Human biodiversity” sounds okay. Sounds scientific almost. Legitimate. And then the kicker—”scientific race differences”. Right there, first section of the article, the not-racist alt-right counts among its intellectual champions a movement of bloggers and researchers who are asserting that, yes, racial (not cultural, mind you) differences exist. And before you chime in and say “Well, but different racial groups are different” — yes, everyone knows this. White folks and black folks have different skin color, hair, features, etc. You don’t need a pseudo-scientific movement to suddenly wade into revelations like this online. They are talking about scientific justifications for racial superiority here.

I hope I’ve whet your appetite for some linguistic gymnastics, because this section is my favorite: Natural Conservatives. This is the core of the alt-right, the rank and file. Breitbart describes the group as “mostly white, mostly male middle-American radicals, who are unapologetically embracing a new identity politics that prioritises the interests of their own demographic.” 

Again, we can do some unpacking here. First off, it is rich that Breitbart can unironically champion a radicalized white populace while fear-mongering about Sharia Law out the other side of its face. But also “new identity politics that prioritises the interests of their own demographic” is not a new concept either. This is practically a textbook definition of racism. Again, it can be easy to defend this statement if you are choosing to give a generous reading. But the operative word here is demographic. We’re not talking about a group of people who are hoping to preserve their community or way or life, per se. They are specifically talking about their racial demographic.

“While eschewing bigotry on a personal level, the movement is frightened by the prospect of demographic displacement represented by immigration.” This might be my favorite sentence in the whole profile. Never have I seen a more slick redirection for charges of racism. No, no, see. They don’t fear brown person, they just fear brown people. Also worth noting, this concept does not cite illegal immigration, but rather all immigration. A major cause of the alt-right is the cessation of all immigration into the United States.

Now, before you try to defend them by saying that you’re sure the alt-right would have no problem with other races as long as they believe in the American dream and pay their taxes and etc. etc. etc. Nope. “[Alt-right intellectuals] say that when different groups are brought together, the common culture starts to appeal to the lowest common denominator.” Two races, two cultures existing side by side is something that the alt-right specifically refutes here. Instead of a strengthening bonds and increasing shared understanding between two groups, all that can result from the blending is the worst possible outcome for both. Oh, and then they claim that this idea is the same as the left’s opposition to cultural appropriation. So, having a problem with a runway model perhaps wearing sacred Native American headgear down the catwalk is pretty similar to believing that those of Muslim descent cannot live in American neighborhoods.

Here come the cringe. The Meme Team is a portion of the alt-right that Breitbart cannot ignore, because they are its mouthpiece on the web. The profile asserts that they are largely attracted to the alt-right due to a sort of punk-rock desire to mock the establishment. The article even goes so far as to make this astounding equivalency: “Just as the kids of the 60s shocked their parents with promiscuity, long hair and rock’n’roll, so too do the alt-right’s young meme brigades shock older generations with outrageous caricatures, from the Jewish ‘Shlomo Shekelburg’ to ‘Remove Kebab,’ an internet in-joke about the Bosnian genocide.” Wait wait wait. What? Growing your hair long to piss your parents off is the same as posting racist cartoons all over the internet? That’s… I mean… what? Like… what?

This is also where the profile tries to make the strongest push that the alt-right is born of the same fires as the progressive left was. They’re just out to shock their parents and grandparents and shake up the status quo. It’s all just hijinks. “Were this the 1960s, the meme team would probably be the most hellraising members of the New Left: swearing on TV, mocking Christianity, and preaching the virtues of drugs and free love.”

Now, strap in for this one. Time to talk about Millennials. (As a Millennial, I super hate reading things about Millennials.) “Millennials aren’t old enough to remember the Second World War or the horrors of the Holocaust. They are barely old enough to remember Rwanda or 9/11. Racism, for them, is a monster under the bed, a story told by their parents to frighten them into being good little children.As with Father Christmas, Millennials have trouble believing it’s actually real. They’ve never actually seen it for themselves…” I straight up cannot understand how this sentence is written and expected to be taken seriously. In the world of Black Lives Matter and post-9/11 fears about terrorism and Islam and, well, this entire election cycle with its talk of Mexicans as rapists and Muslim registries how can Breitbart be asserting that racism is a phantom that the Millennial generation has never been exposed to? This is a stance that they have to take, though. The actions of this meme brigade are so public and so blatantly racist, the only way to attempt to excuse their behavior is to make the tenuous claim that racism doesn’t mean anything to them because they do not understand it. Therefore, they cannot be culpable.

To help point out that there IS racism in the alt-right but it’s totally not THEIR racism they refer to the 1488rs. This name is explained like so: “a reference to two well-known Neo Nazi slogans, the first being the so-called 14 Words: ‘We Must Secure The Existence Of Our People And A Future For White Children.’ The second part of the number, 88, is a reference to the 8th letter of the alphabet – H. Thus, “88” becomes “HH” which becomes ‘Heil Hitler.'” This group is brought up to show that, look, there is a fringe element to the alt-right that is super racist, but we think they are assholes and they think we are assholes, so we can’t be racist because THESE guys are racist and they are not us. They are violent and want to take their political desires by force… but not us. We’re super civil. This admission gets real problematic as the article ends.

The conclusion of the entire piece seems like a call for compromise — a world where the liberal left acknowledges that the alt-right has just cause and must be allowed their safe spaces (which again, considering how much the alt-right loves to mock liberals for their trigger warnings and safe spaces, is pretty ironic) where they can maintain their racially pure demography.

But there’s a twist. What would happen if the left does not feel a need to compromise on the concept of white nationalism? “Well, the risk otherwise is that the 1488ers start persuading people that their solution to natural conservatives’ problems is the only viable one. The bulk of their demands, after all, are not so audacious: they want their own communities, populated by their own people, and governed by their own values.”

I sat with my mouth open for a minute after reading this. The crux of this entire profile that seeks to normalize the alt-right, to explain its motivations and origins, to make it seem less, well, super racist ends on a bald-faced threat. What will happen if you don’t agree with us? Well, if you don’t agree with us, we’ll start agreeing with the Neo-Nazis because, after all, they’re pretty reasonable guys with pretty reasonable desires.

This is why Steve Bannon is dangerous. This is why he has no business in the White House or anywhere near it. It does not matter if he himself has not said any of these things. He’s a smart man. He would have to be to get where he is today. You don’t have to say racist things to be a racist. And you cannot claim to not be a racist while sitting atop a media empire that defines itself by the tenets of racism. Bannon is a danger to America and Trump’s trust in him carries with it the same transitive property. Just as Bannon cannot hide from claims of racism while he allows Breitbart to operate as it does, Trump cannot claim he plans to be a President for every American while he allows Bannon to operate as he does.

No Comments

The Good

Many of you already know this, but for those who the news has not reached, Joshua Lucas Scarpelli was born on May 31 at 4:52pm. He measured 21 inches and 8 pounds, 9 ounces. He is a healthy baby, other than UV light treatment to break up some jaundice in him, which is a pretty common thing for newborns.

Our stay at the hospital lasted from Sunday May 30th at about 3pm to 5pm on June 3.

This is the first part of a three-part post discussing the Good, the Bad and the Ugly related to Joshua’s arrival. There simply isn’t much to say about the Good, other than to share it. We have a baby and he is healthy and wonderful. I’ve found that we grew adept as new parents remarkably fast. We are only seven days into his little life and we already know his cues and are plotting out his routine and care. We are fast on diaper changes, a mean breastfeeding team and can soothe him from a tantrum to silence in about 30 seconds flat (when he is of a mind to be soothed).

The Good, however, isn’t something I need to educate you on. You’ll know the good. You’ll feel it radiate through you once you’ve hit your stride. You’ll simply walk around feeling a sense of accomplishment that is rare. It’s something that is rarer for me than it should be. I don’t sit back much and think to myself what good work I’ve done, but I find myself doing it all the time with Joshua and the care we’re providing him.

What I do want to educate everyone on are the many niggling little items that none of the books I’ve read about having a baby seem to cover, or the things that they play up so much that you think that if you’re handling it differently, you’re handling it incorrectly.

The biggest learning tool in the Good category for us has to do with our flexibility. In another way of looking at it, this could very easily be considered Bad or even Ugly, but I think it showed that we know how to flow with the course of the birth, which is exactly what so many of our friends had advised us to do. We went in, as you well know if you’ve been reading along over time, wanting to do a fully natural childbirth. We took Bradley method classes to get us to that point and read books on the practice and did exercises at home, the whole nine yards. Bradley was effective for us while we could use it, too, but we couldn’t use it very long.

Janelle had a “non-textbook” labor process. The notion of textbook labor is a bit asinine and I should have probably realized that more, but that’s what Bradley really prepares you for. This is not to say that the Bradley lessons would never have helped us. In fact, they probably enabled Janelle to fight through her labor as long as she had. We just were not able to do much beyond cracking a tiny bit of the toolchest available to us from our Bradley learning.

Prior to heading into the hospital on May 30, Janelle had dilated to 3cm (in case you’re not a medical or pregnancy buff – the cervix needs to dilate to 10cm before the doctor’s consider the mother’s body ready to deliver the baby) all on its own, without her really being aware of the work her body was doing. Then, the next thing we knew, her water broke at about 2:15pm on May 30th, about a week before his due date. We went in to the hospital, and they let us know that we were going to be there until we had the baby.

Right away, our expectations were off. The Bradley training tries to get you to labor as much as you can away from the hospital so that you can labor in the manner of your choosing… but after your water breaks, chance of infection in mother and child end up increasing more over time. Doctors want the baby out, or for significant progress to have been made, within 24 hours to keep risk minimal. So, before our labor process had really even started in earnest, we already could not follow some of what we had spent months prepping for.

But the hits kept on coming. Janelle began to feel her contractions around 5pm. So, after she was gowned up, we would walk loops around the delivery ward, stopping every few minutes so that Janelle could lower herself to the ground in a squatting position to alleviate the discomfort. Things were going along just like the labor that had been described to us would go. Janelle would be able to walk like this and allow her labor to progress in relative speed and comfort. We were handling it as we had been taught and things were looking good.

By 7pm, she could barely move, and she stayed that way until 9am the next morning. Rather than being able to move and adjust her position to increase her comfort, her discomfort was so intense it prevented almost any and all movement for her. She ended up sitting in a rocking chair, or propped on the hospital bed with her eyes closed, trying to focus on being relaxed as I ceaselessly massaged the round ligaments at the front of each of her hips (I mean ceaselessly, I massaged that area for about 12 straight hours without more than a few seconds pause). For her, labor pains manifested themselves as a strong urge to push… but you are explicitly told you cannot push until the time is right, when you have dilated to 10cm. So, for 14 hours, Janelle fought this urge and it rendered her inert and unable to call upon any of the preparation we had done for labor.

The final straw came at 9am on May 31. Through our sleepless night, Janelle had been progressing at a rate of 1cm of dilation for every two hours of labor. When we checked at 9am on the 31st to see her progress, she had stalled entirely. No change. That far along in labor, with the 24-hour infection care time limit approaching and Janelle having reached the limit of her endurance, we opted to get her an epidural.

An epidural, not something I covered much in the blog to date, means that we had to give up on the plan of natural childbirth. An epidural involves insertion of a plastic tube into the base of the spinal cord. Via this tube, anesthetic is delivered and sensation to the nerves at the base of the spine is numbed, reducing pain for the mother by about 80%, so they estimate. The decision to move away from natural childbirth was a tough one. It came at the end of 27 hours without sleep, most of which involved considerable discomfort for Janelle. She was barely in any shape to make decisions, and I was faced with the traumatic task of either telling her that she needed to continue to suffer, or give up on the dream birth that we had envisioned.

Suffice it to say, this was a bit of a tipping point for my breakdown. I spent a good two hours that morning trying not to just be a sobbing mess on the floor. It was much harder than I had anticipated to watch Janelle suffering as long as she was, to listen to her tell me that she didn’t know if she could carry on and how intensely uncomfortable she was and then to tell her she just had to be strong and let it all happen.

We opted for the epidural knowing that a birth that was filled with this much discomfort and anguish wasn’t the kind of birth we wanted, principles be damned. Also, and more critically, we knew that getting Janelle’s body to relax would mean our chance of avoiding a C-section and having a healthy baby would increase. After it was administered (far easier than expected… but the discomfort of getting a NEEDLE IN YOUR SPINE didn’t really phase Janelle at all, which is not surprising considering what she had already been putting up with) we were both able to sleep. We both promptly passed out (I have no actual memory of falling asleep, I just remember waking up again) and rose three hours later. Soon after that, Janelle was ready to begin pushing and we commenced.

She pushed for almost the entire three-hour maximum the hospital will allow before they intervene. It’s not good for a baby to be trapped in Mom’s pelvis for too long as she tries to push him out. With each contraction, he’s getting compressed pretty well, so if those contractions aren’t moving him downward, they’re just kind of a hassle for him. For new mothers with an epidural, they allow three hours for pushing, instead of the two to two-and-a-half they allot for all other mothers. After the end of that timeframe, if the baby has not arrived, they will suggest either a vacuum-assisted delivery (literally, they use a suction cup to help pull your baby out as Mom pushes him out) or a C-section if the baby can’t be reached for vacuum assist.

For the first 90 minutes that Janelle was pushing, Joshua didn’t move in the slightest. This is where the problem with the epidural comes into play. It numbs so much sensation below the waist that it was very difficult for Janelle to locate the specific muscle group she needed to be focused on in order to be pushing Joshua out. Thankfully, before the pushing began, we directed the staff to cut the medicine rate being delivered via her epidural in half, specifically so she would regain feeling. After that first 90 minutes, she began to be able to feel the proper location to push and it was fairly quick work after that.

90 minutes later and I could see Joshua’s head began to ease his way out of his Mom. I hadn’t been expecting that I would want to watch that happen, as there is much ickiness that occurs, but once I could begin to see his head, I couldn’t really stop from watching. Partially, it was nice to be able to give Janelle very honest encouragement about how close Joshua was to being born, but it was just fascinating to see the scale of things.

Baby heads are really malleable and so when they are being pushed out of their mother, you are bound to get a bit of a conehead effect for them. But what the net effect of this is for the observer is that it makes the head appear FAR smaller than it actually is as it is emerging, because all you’re seeing is the round little top of the head, being pushed out and sqooshed out as the vanguard. When Janelle gave the final push that popped the entirety of Joshua’s head out, my reaction was pretty close to a “Holy shit!”

And that was that. The nurses immediately hoisted him to Janelle’s chest where they toweled him off and suctioned fluid from his mouth and nose and then he began to wail in earnest, always a good sign and something encouraged for the first few hours to help expel fluid and other gunk from the lungs. We both just looked on in awe for a bit, listening to him cry and trying to memorize his little features (almost pointless since brand new babies can sometimes look very little like couple day old babies which can look very little like year-old babies).

We tried to have him nurse right away, with minimal success (more on this in another post), and ended up needing to give him about 20mL of formula right away as his blood sugar was very low. Babies of diabetic mothers come out with a higher insulin count than most babies, and as such tend to have low sugar numbers. Joshua was around 49 right after birth, and their cutoff for “too low” is 45. An hour after birth he was at 39, and it was time to get nourishment into him quickly and any way we could. He downed the 20mL of food with a speed that I now understand was pretty staggering. The bottle was bone dry in under a minute flat.

We have a hungry little boy.


Latest and Greatest

Well, as time passes, the home front gets more and more manageable and, lo, the baby comes ever and ever closer.

Yesterday, Janelle and I went in for our major sonogram. This is the one where you don’t go to your regular doctor, you go to a sonogram technician. Our appointment was fast, lasting only about 20-25 minutes. It’s just like every other sonogram you’ll have. The doc places goo all over your partner’s tummy, and it looks pretty gross. Imagine smearing hair gel all over your stomach. It looks like that. Then they take their barcode-scanner-ish device and commence pressing it and rubbing it all over the abdomen.

It’s amusing to note the reckless abandon this is done with. Medical practitioners are keyed in to a vital fact most of us (who are not cage fighters) take for granted: humans are pretty durable, including babies. There’s a lot of poking, and then poking harder and, amusingly, when the baby was in the wrong position for a clear shot, a lot of jiggling of the scanner to try and prompt the baby to move a bit. Clearly a precise science.

The tech looks for things like spinal development, the presence of kidneys and lungs and four properly functioning heart chambers. He scopes the brain and checks for a cleft lip. They take measurements and just generally ensure things are doing well. Using nifty doppler-type radar they can even use a color overlay (that makes it look like you’re seeing things in Predator heat-vision) to watch blood flow to ID important things like the renal arteries. Cool.

It’s fun to see the baby like this, but a bit bizarre. The images are basically x-rays, so your kid ends up looking at once like a cute baby, a Halloween costume and Godzilla. I have some more thoughts on this, but I’m saving them for another post. Cut me some slack. I’m busy.

And no… we didn’t find out the sex. We had the tech put the info in an envelope so that the envelope could taunt us mercilessly like some Poe artifact. So, neener, neener. We don’t know and we’re not telling.

We are, however, sharing some images. So… without further ado:





Battalion Vengeance

How convenient that I didn’t really have a post today that Battalion Vengeance has finally been released. This is the last title in the Battalion series, and marks the completion of the work I’ll be doing on the franchise. There are two cooperative episodes that have been created… but I’m unsure if they’ll ever see the light of day.

At any rate, you can play Battalion Vengeance by clicking here. I hope that you enjoy it (but if you didn’t enjoy the previous games, you won’t enjoy this one).

You can play the first episode, Battalion Nemesis, here.

The second episode, Battalion Ghosts, is here.

It will likely be some time before you see any game writing from me—though I do have some projects in the pipe.

No Comments

Wherein Announcements are Made

2010 is going to be a huge year for me. In some manners of reckoning, it will be the largest I’ve had since I started having them, yea those many years ago.

My wife and I are looking for a home, and will hopefully be in one during 2010. As corollary to that I will enter into the first actual debt of my life, which I don’t relish. I plan to have finished a (crappy) first novel and at least one (hopefully pretty awesome) screenplay. I hope to continue trying to improve and advance my career. I plan on losing at least 10 pounds.

And I will become a father on or around June 4, 2010.

Starting Wednesday, this blog will consist of posts about impending fatherhood. I’ll be sharing thoughts and experiences and hopefully providing a point of reference and commiseration for anyone else who has kids, is planning to have kids or wants to know what another dude is feeling about the whole experience. It’s my plan to be as honest and irreverent about this process as I try to be about most everything else.

Without further ado, the pictures. Bask in their glory. I, for one, welcome our new infant overlord.

Annotations are serious business. Click to enlarge if you so wish.

Annotations are serious business. Click to enlarge if you so wish.


Click to enlarge.


Click to enlarge. DO IT.


Watch this Space

Just a quick note today. I’m already at work on a series of posts that I’m going to be starting up on Monday. I’ll probably keep this new theme up for awhile, and should back on my old faithful 3-times-a-week posting schedule. Sadly (or maybe luckily), I’ll probably be moving away from blog fiction for some time and working primarily on closing out my novel work and then starting up a screenplay I’ve been juggling in my mind and a bit on paper for some time. So, I guess watch this space for exciting developments and all that good stuff.

No Comments