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I sold a print of this house, which Trish and I photographed last April, on Friday morning. Which is good, but the reason why I sold it sucks: it burned to the ground about 2:00 in the morning.


The woman who bought the print said her husband grew up across the street from the house and used to play in it as a kid, so she wants to give him the print as a Christmas present. He was one of nine kids, and they all played there as children, so she might be buying more.

No one's lived there in decades and it has no electricity, so when I heard about it I pretty much figured it had to be arson. But I thought it would turn out be accidental: teens having a bonfire or homeless people trying to stay warm, it got out of hand, oops. Turns out it was deliberately set by a bunch of grown-ass men; they were drunk and smoking pot and trying to "summon ghosts" (the place has a reputation of being haunted, which I'm sure is bullshit), and when they didn't show up, one of them decided to set the place on fire. You can't see it, but I'm making the angriest, most disgusted face you ever saw right now.

I never could figure out who owned this property when I researched it earlier in the year; turns out a foundation has owned it since the 1960s with the stated intention of restoring it. They've collected about $100 million towards that goal and spent about 1% of it, mostly in the form of huge salaries for themselves. Typical Louisiana corruption, in other words. Too bad they couldn't have parted with some of that money to hire a night watchman.

It's a very eerie feeling, to know that something I photographed is gone forever. That must have been how Clarence John Laughlin felt towards the end of his life, going over the plates for Ghosts Along the Mississippi and realizing that about 1/3 of those houses are just gone.

I'd like to go photograph what's left, but that's going to have to wait because it's probably still an active crime scene right now.
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Apparently it's not horrible enough that gun nuts immediately--like, IMMEDIATELY--starting blaming the victims of the Dark Knight shooting for getting themselves shot because they weren't patriotic enough to pack heat 24-7. Apparently spraying bullets into a panicked crowd running around in a dark room at an assailant wearing a bulletproof vest would have saved lives, WHO KNEW.

But now I'm seeing this conspiracy theory that the shooter was trained and given his orders by Obama so he could steal all the guns. Yeah, no. Maybe it would make more sense if I had a tinfoil hat on?

I honestly didn't get where all this rancid OBAMA IS COMIN' FER YER GUNZS paranoia is coming from. I mean, I've never heard him--or any other president elected in my living memory--lean heavily on a gun control platform. Obama isn't some free love, acid-dropping peacenik. Like everyone else to occupy the White House since Carter, regardless of party, he's well to the right of the center.

Luckily a Facebook friend of a Facebook friend, who is apparently some kind of LOLbertarian (he claimed with, as far as I could tell, the internet being a non-visual medium, a straight face that politicians are "constantly attacking our 2nd Amendment rights") cleared it up for me: it's entirely based on half a sentence spoken 4 years ago before Obama was even the party nominee, taken out of context. Namely, the infamous "They get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations." Except in their minds, it stops at "guns" and concludes "...and I'll break their grip if I have to break every one of their fingers".

This is epically stupid on many levels, not the least of which is that this line had nothing to do with gun control or an assault weapons ban. Obama was pointing out the many ways that people who have been fucked by conservative policy get manipulated into voting against their own interests, and one of those is by making them think HEY THE OTHER GUY IS GOING TO TAKE YOUR PRECIOUS GUNS AWAY.

So thanks, dumbass. You just totally proved his point.

For a socialist god-hating pinko, gun control is actually pretty far down on my list. Much like the Seinfeld episode where Elaine is asked if she's still anti-fur, my attitude is "Eh... who has the energy?" For whatever perverse reason, Americans are obsessed with guns, and I'd rather pick battles that can be won. At this point, I'd settle for closing the loopholes that allow teenagers, convicted felons, and the mentally ill to obtain them.

That being said, anyone insisting on their right to own assault weapons is always going to get the side-eye from me. Why not tanks and nerve gas, too?

The 2nd Amendment is a fossil from the Revolutionary era. Nowadays we have armed forces and police. Knowing a bunch of untrained morons are running around armed to the teeth doesn't make me feel safer from, say, drug cartels. It makes me afraid of getting mowed down in the crossfire. (See: paragraph one.)

And as for the argument that we need assault weapons in case we have to overthrow the gubmint: I'm real sorry to bust your bubble Cletus, but you and Joe Bob and a few of your buddies aren't going to be able to do shit against a military with nukes. If you hate the government that much, your best bet is moving to Somalia. They don't have ANY government! HILLBILLY PARADISE!
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Political equality is against nature. Social equality is against nature. Economic equality is against nature. The idea of equality is subversive of order.

-Edmund Burke

I don't know much about Edmund Burke, other than that he was one of the few members of Parliament to vocally support American independence; I'm guessing that here he was being either satirical, or a disingenuous asshole. Because "because it's against nature" just tied with "because the Bible says so" as the Worst Argument In Favor Of/Against Something Of All Time.

Humans go "against nature" on a daily -- hell, on a minute-by-minute -- basis. Wearing shoes, living in houses, air-conditioning, computers, and drinking Diet Coke chemically sweetened with phenylalanine are just a few of the literally millions of things we do that are "against" nature. Going against nature -- against the raw, unfettered animal instincts that dominated our distant ancestors' brains -- is what raised us up out of the muck. It is the defining characteristic of humanity.

To compose a symphony is against nature. To rescue a stranger who is drowning or has fallen onto a subway track is against nature. To grow surplus food that allows your tribe to stay in one place and build a city is against nature.

Here's to going against nature. We should all do it more often.

June 2014



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