Category Archives: Culture

Reading Chuck Wendig’s ‘Invasive’

Attack of the Killer Ants, and Other Adventures in Paradise

competitive exclusion /

(n) 1. a situation in which one species competes another into extinction.

2. the inevitable elimination from a habitat of one of two different species with identical needs for resources.

While I didn’t love the book itself, despite enjoying Chuck Wendig’s writing style and Xe Sands’ narration, there were certain elements of the story I found fascinating. One prominent idea in the novel was the concept of competitive exclusion, and regardless of what was happening in the book with genetically modified killer ants, it was a concept that grabbed my attention for its implications beyond the themes of futurism and doomsday/survivalist prepping. Eliminate the characters, the ants, the hi-tech monster story and the shell game of human monsters pulling strings throughout, and you still have this concept.

We live in a world of finite resources. But we have also been poisoned to believe that finite means limited, and that in order for you to have enough, I must not. We have been indoctrinated by survival of the fittest, despite us all having the potential to be fit enough to thrive.

Read the definition again. Rethink the concept. Competitive exclusion is not what our initial assumption assumes it to be. It is “a situation in which—”

It is a situation. It is a situation in which two organisms are made to compete against one another. And much like in Wendig’s novel, it is a situation created and constantly influenced by those in power, those with wrath, those with unlimited resources all at the expense of those with no knowledge, no shelter, no protection beyond what might be scraped together during the panicked stampede of an isolated island’s population.

So while we may not be trying to escape face-eating genetically modified ants, it might be useful to look around at rush for resources we see everyday in the ‘fight for $15’, in teachers union strikes across the country, in food deserts in every community in the wealthiest nation in the world, in lawmakers threatening to take away school lunch funding to schools that fail to hit standardized test standards, in billion dollar companies run by millionaires eliminating jobs and closing factories to maximize profits, and the elected officials that earned tens of thousands of dollars voting against needs of thousands for the benefit of a few. All of this is an engineered situation that depends on anhysterical and uninformed reaction by those with little power so that the few can hoard resources and stockpile assets beyond what could be conceivably utilized.

Now that I think about it, we might have a better shot against the ants.

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Margaret Atwood & the Happy Face Killer


Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them.” 
― Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood was born November 18, and is a poet, novelist, literary critic, essayist, inventor, teacher and environmental activist. Among the seventeen books of poetry, sixteen novels, ten books of non-fiction, eight collections of short fiction, eight children’s books, and one graphic novel, Atwood is perhaps best known at the moment for her novel, “The Handmaid’s Tale” and it’s adaptation as a tv series with Hulu.

There are a number of reasons why the quote at the top is relevant today, and tomorrow there will be even more examples.  Whether that means another shooting at a yoga studio, or a rapist gets off because of his victim’s clothing, or a rapist who let his victim die while he played video games gets off because he had no prior record, or, or, or, or….. 

While its become one of the more popular and visible Atwood quotes, I thought to share it since it was fresh in my mind because of a podcast I’ve been listening to, ‘Happy Face’.

It’s produced by the daughter of the Happy Face Killer, Keith Jesperson, who raped and murdered eight women, and only turned himself in because two other people had been convicted of his crimes. He wanted the credit. While in prison Jesperson did interviews and spoke calmly and thoroughly about his victims, about how he raped and murdered each woman, and how he disposed of their bodies.  And he spoke about how it was ultimately their fault he killed them. If only she hadn’t spoken that way about men, if only she hadn’t provoked him, if only she hadn’t made him do it.

If only she hadn’t laughed.

Listening to “Slow Burn”

IMG_8479(1)Chuck Grassley once wore a “Free Lisa Myers” button to pressure NBC in 1999 to air an interview with Juanita Broaddrick about her twenty year old allegations against Bill Clinton. It’s interesting how the search for truth regarding decades old allegations and the standards the Republican Party and their supporters choose to apply can shift so dramatically. Grassley clearly demonstrated his party’s malleable morals with his complete disinterest investigating allegations against Brett Kavanaugh, while Juanita Broaddrick openly discounted Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony. But these details about recent events are not the most intriguing moments in the final episode of the second season of ‘Slow Burn.’

Episode 8, “Move On”, was a fascinating and disturbing episode from ‘Slow Burn’, one of the best podcasts around. The first season is about Watergate, the second is on the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal, and you need to go listen to both. They’re both a shocking look into how history repeats itself, especially when those who made that history are still in power and allowed to manipulate the course of society and politics.

The first season of ‘Slow Burn’ focused on Watergate and was shocking in everything that I had never learned went on. I was born a decade after Watergate and only knew the general bullet points; the break-in, the secret tapes, Woodward and Bernstein, looming impeachment, resignation, Roach from ‘Point Break’ wearing a Nixon mask and yelling, “I am not a crook” while the Ex-Presidents rob a bank.

IMG_8481(1)Leon Neyfakh goes much farther beyond that, introducing us to Martha Mitchell and Wright Pattman, as well as the team behind the special prosecutors looking into the whole thing, and ties the events of the 1970s to what is happening today.

But where season one introduced a wealth of previously overlooked or forgotten facts, season two was fascinating in how it rewrote what I thought I knew and how the people involved have been portrayed.

It also demonstrates the hypocrisy of the Republican Party, and probably the Democrats too for that matter, and reinforces the idea that when it comes to politicians and those in power, it’s never about the crime or allegations, and it isn’t about justice for the victim or a platform for truth. It seems instead to come down to whatever is convenient to maintaining their grasp on power, even if it means Chuck Grassley has to hide his Lisa Myers button.

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