1/12th of the Way Through 2024!

Odin talks politics, unions, and udon noodles.

1/12th of the Way Through 2024!
An AI-image.

One 12th of the year is already over! How's that for a wild piece of reality?

This year has already thrown a lot at some of the people in my life, and it continues to throw a lot at people worldwide. I don't think the tough times are over quite yet, for any of us. As we surge toward the primary elections and already peer leerily toward the big elections at the end of the year, it's clear that the stage is an interesting one. Of course, the world is not the United States. But what happens here does tend to have an outsized effect on the planet.

Still, the world of human affairs is a bit topsy-turvy right now. A vocal minority of our species wants to see a return to authoritarianism and fascism as a normal state of being, and they're fighting hard to make it happen. What's worse is that the decades-old fascist handbook is still functioning perfectly in the middle of the greatest democracies.

Take the issues Germany currently faces in the continuing aftermath of debacles related to an over-reliance on Russian oil. Germany’s Far-Right Leader, is floats the idea of a "Dexit" from the European Union. Her responses to reporters follow the Fascist political playbook perfectly, pretending toward moderation and sincerity while scapegoating "criminals." Luckily, she doesn't have the power to form a coalition (in Germany, political groups that share interests can join together to overcome the tyranny of a normalized large party). But the fact that this sort of thing is happening there, of all places, should be a clue to how precariously on the knife's edge we currently are.

And these things don't exist in a vacuum. Governments the world over continue to face serious problems, and authoritarianism doesn't exist in a vacuum. All ends of the political spectrum open the field to destructive consequences when power is concentrated in the private hands of a few. Whether it's China's authoritarianism, the oligarchies of the supposedly democratic West, or the wannabe privatization evangelism of people like María Corina Machado, the soil is fertile for the worst our species has to offer.

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Taking a momentary pause from the heavies… here's a restaurant in Toronto that replaces noodles in every possible dish with udon. And I am SO THERE FOR IT.

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Switching gears slightly, as we in the U.S. look toward tax season, remember that TurboTax is not your friend. In fact, TurboTax isn’t allowed to say it’s ‘free’ anymore. In other countries, taxes are handled by the system. Here, each individual (untrained, exhausted, and overloaded) is responsible for managing their own tax situation from the ground up. And, these days, with a massive number of us living as part-time or gig-workers, the silent killer of tax season is the toll exacted on independent contractors.

But the financial woes don't end there. HomeVestors of America claims to be the country’s largest cash home buyer and says it helps homeowners out of jams. But a closer look reveals that the company trains its franchisees to cash in on homeowners’ desperation - this great article series by ProPublic has a lot to say on this slimy industry.

And here's the kicker: If you think that shitty tax structures and the corporate greed of housing investment agencies is unrelated to the authoritarianism that I started this article with, you need to look again.

The systems that we normalize, then normalize other systems in turn. This is why efforts to rebuild the union movement in the United States mean so much. We're seeing union work in other parts of the world, but right here in democratic U-S-A, union membership is at a real low.

This weak union system is because you and I, and all American voters for the last century, have allowed it to happen. The great gains we've had (from the UAW wins last year, to the recent partial win by the faculty of the California University System) might be "stymied by the US’s “broken” labor laws." Still, we are seeing gains. Even Costco has started to see unionization.

The labor laws in the United States were broken because the mass of voters didn't stand up and fight back. Instead of shutting down the system and demanding the right to control of our labor, we ceded that control to a petty bureaucracy.

We did it because politicians told us lies.

Sometimes, those were lies of fear ("It's the fault of 'x' group of people, if we remove them, everything will be fine!").

Sometimes, politicians lied by telling us that "democracy is about compromise" (without mentioning that, somehow, the "compromise" in question seemed to always be in favor of right-wing ideologues).

Regardless of the reason, we now find ourselves living in a country with gutted labor laws, miserable social safety nets, decrepit public transit, ruined small businesses, and the widespread normalization of political corruption incited by corporate lobbying.

So, will the next few months be easy?


The next few years and decades won't be easy.

The right-wing forces in this world spent decades clanging the bell, drawing attention to their ideas, and forcing a conversion of the political norm to meet their sad goals. So, turning the tide won't be a single-day process.

But all that means is that it's possible to make change happen. Ironically, and sadly, the authoritarian space we find ourselves in now is proof of that. It didn't happen magically. It happened because of decades of activism at the local level (backed by Koch and Murdoch money) forced the window of normality toward the Right.

We can force it back.

Find a place where real dialogue can happen between all members of our society.

But we have to take action.




If enough of us force the issue, the system will change.

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My life this week

Well, enough of the big stuff.

This week has all been about the start of the new semester for me. I'm taking two classes right now for my MLIS - a class on instructional design, and a course I've designed myself on Personal Knowledge Management and Indigenous Mnemonics. I'm a huge nerd when it comes to PKM, and I'm really excited to have a whole formalized semester to spend digging into it.

My work for the Student Research Journal also continues. You can actually watch the release party for the 26th issue of the journal here!

As always, I've set myself for a massive amount of work, but I'm at least doing it in areas that I really care about.

Writing in general has slowed due to school, of course, but I do have a short story nearly finished and I've continued to work on my novel. I'm excited by both of those projects and I think I've got some neat storytelling to share with the world.

That's one of the nice things about short-form work like short stories, too: you can finish them and share them relatively quickly! I hope to send this one off for submissions in the next couple of weeks.

Well, that's good enough for now.

Until next week, friends.

Go easy, and if you can't go easy, go as easy as you can.


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