Hi! I've been traveling as well as scrambling to finish production of Mass for Shut-ins Episode 006, which is now available. Give it a listen – you'll find the story of the Red Square Pilot and the interview with best-selling author Dr. Lisa Wade interesting or I'll eat my hat. Seriously, I will eat any hat you send me.

Plus: an important few words on "stealth voter suppression" that will give you some tips on things to watch out for as November approaches, plus the cocktail of the month, The Bee's Knees.

Check it out on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, or whatever feeds your podcast needs.

Regular content to resume presently. Oh, and it helps the show's "ratings" if you leave a review on iTunes. So. If you're feeling charitable.


By (actual, not pretend) popular demand on the Facebook group, I'm doing another run of the suddenly very appropriate "None of this is OK" shirts. The front design remains unchanged (as pictured here) but if the screenprinter can accommodate it, I'm going to have the reverse text ("Gin and Tacos") replaced by small text on one sleeve this time. Looks a little more stylish, or at least it's something different.

Other details that remain unchanged: Navy blue Canvas (or BellaCanvas for Women's) shirts, Unisex/Men's in crewneck and Women's in V-neck. Canvas sizing chart available here. Sizes S – XXL in either Unisex or Women's. Contact me if you need 3XL – sometimes they are available, but often they aren't. Shoot me a message and I'll do my best.

This is a pre-order and you will receive your shirts in early to mid July, depending on how busy the printer is. $18 (slight upcharge for XXL) plus $4 s/h in the USA, $14 s/h for all other countries. I'm sorry about that, but package shipping overseas (incl. Canada) has gotten incredibly expensive lately.

Domestic Orders (USA)

International Orders


Are you enjoying Mass for Shut-ins? I hope you are. I'm adding "Minicasts" to the menu – little segments that aren't enough to make a whole episode out of, but interesting enough to pass 3 to 7 minutes of your time pleasurably. No production (music, intro, etc). Just a quick hit of the stuff you like.

They won't be on a regular schedule; they'll happen when the need and opportunity arise. If the full podcast episodes are too long for your liking, give these a shot. The first minicast is on the scary tones of the Emergency Broadcast System. Subscribe and you'll never miss one.


David J. Roth – and note there are important differences between him and David Lee Roth – is probably the best writer out of the current crop when it comes to putting into words the kind of person Donald Trump is, and consequently many of his supporters are as well. It goes beyond being stupid, or selfish, or right-wing, or any other one-word descriptor.

Some people first became aware of his political writing with a Dec. 2017 Baffler piece in which he declared Trump "President of Blank Sucking Nullity" – a must read – and foreshadowed his latest viral hit on Deadspin, "The NFL is too dumb to realize that Donald Trump is never going to stop with this shit."

Trump loves that stupid "snake" parable, but it's fun to watch people realize that it's pretty accurate as long as you're smart enough to recognize that Trump is the snake.

Sorry for farming out. Real post coming soon.


When I was five, I wanted to have my 6th birthday party at Shakey's (bonus points if you're Midwestern 70s/80s enough to be down with Shakey's). The neighbor kids refused to come because they were staunch Pizza Hut partisans. I detested Pizza Hut, demonstrating what a perceptive child of impeccable taste I was. So I pouted, sat in my room alone with my MASK and GI Joe action figures, and had a birthday party for myself instead.

You may have heard that on Tuesday afternoon, having been stiffed by the Philadelphia Eagles, our president is doing the same, promising to convene military bands to play the National Anthem for…for him, I guess. The amount of weird autocrat-military imagery the nation is willing to tolerate from a white conservative continues to be tested.

Drew Magary has an excellent write up on how Trump's constant, meaningless grandstanding on the National Anthem, the flag, and other jingoist touchstones makes perfect sense in the context of an entire life and career built on constant, meaningless grandstanding.


It doesn't happen often, but Twitter delivers some pretty useful insights on occasion. Though I remain unconditionally opposed to the ridiculous "threading" format – seriously, just get a blog already – this string of posts by Matthew Chapman offers a useful way of conceptualizing Trump's worldview in terms of negotiating.

Briefly, he is a con man. Like many con men, he presumes that everyone else is also a con man. This is how many Wall Street and real estate types morally justify their behavior – I am doing nothing wrong by ripping you off, since the entire economy is everybody trying to rip everybody else off.

Since everyone is trying to rip everyone off, a deal in which the other party is enthusiastic is de facto evidence that you have been ripped off. Nothing can be mutually beneficial, even though making mutually beneficial transactions is like, the Page 1 definition in every textbook ever written about a market economy or even a barter system. Nope. The other party being pleased with the arrangement means you got fucked, period.

Therefore every "deal" the United States has ever made with another country is bad, because if the United States was not getting fucked then the other country would not have wanted to make the deal.

God only knows what really goes on in that desiccated brain of his, but this is one potential explanation that lends a bit of coherence to his insistence on pulling the United States out of NATO, out of the Iran deal, out of treaties, out of free trade agreements, out of everything. Either the other country is clearly getting fucked, or we are. No other outcome can exist.


For the next six days I will be shackled to hundreds of other college faculty and high school AP teachers in a conference center in Salt Lake City to grade the many thousands of Advanced Placement exams taken by high school students over the previous academic year. If your kid (or you, on the off chance anyone high school aged reads this) doesn't get the score he or she was expecting, it may be my fault.

That's not strictly true, since grading is done according to a very demanding rubric to ensure consistency. So it is technically not my fault; I am only following orders.

Though it is not a 24-hour per day endeavor, I do have a large amount of my time in the upcoming week spoken for. If updates are less regular than usual, I apologize.

Be sure to catch up on episodes of Mass for Shut-ins if you need a fix. The past two episodes (004 and 005) in particular are very good, I think, as I'm starting to figure out the production end of things as well as tailoring the content to the format.


Wednesday I contributed a piece at The Nation about Roseanne and the thick irony of a show that was supposed to make Trumpers sympathetic characters – they're not all just racist asshole conspiracy theorists, you know! – failed because the person behind it is a racist asshole conspiracy theorist.

It's one of my favorite things I've ever written and it was done on a very tight deadline, so I'm pleased with how well it turned out and how much viral spread it had/has. It's not actually a big deal but I have to take my victories where I can find them.


On the very worth-listening-to Ep 004 of Mass for Shut-ins I had the distinct pleasure of talking with SSgt. Katie Schmid, US Army, who is one of the plaintiffs challenging the transgender military ban in court. My usual Memorial Day post is to pick an individual at random from the list of people killed in action in the previous year, but that conversation has me thinking differently this year.

Throughout American history the military has been our default social safety net, a strings-attached government promise of food, clothing, and housing in exchange for service ranging from the mundane in peacetime to risking one's life in war or dangerous non-combat duty. As such, the military unwittingly found itself in the position of being a melting pot and a cross-section of American diversity despite its numerous institutional attempts to resist it. As far back as the Revolutionary War it found itself having to integrate immigrants, African-Americans, non-English speakers, people of different religions, LGBTQ people, and people who otherwise were defined as being outside of the mainstream at their moment in history.

Usually the reaction, led by civilians in Congress and the White House, was to attempt to enforce uniformity and to beat (literally and figuratively) the differences out of people. When that was impossible, rigid artificial barriers were erected to keep people in separate containers. So, this Memorial Day let's remember everyone who was told that they were somehow inferior despite presenting themselves, by choice or by obligation, for service. Let's remember the Port Chicago Fifty, the people who challenged illegal orders, everyone turned away by a recruiter because of gender or race, and the nameless thousands of people who had to serve with "a secret" or while hiding, burying, and lying about some part of themselves.

Glory, duty, and obligation are the most obvious parts of serving. Some people do all that while fighting other, more personal battles as well.


Mass for Shut-ins Episode 005 is now available for your listening pleasure on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, Spotify, and so on and on.

iTunes rankings, incidentally, are based in part on reviews so if you like what you hear it wouldn't be a terrible idea to leave a review (even if it's cursory, you can just tell everyone how amazing it is and how it changed your life and leave it at that).

As ever, the podcast is a labor of love so if you can spare $1, support via Patreon is greatly appreciated.

Episode notes:

Story: THE STAMP THAT MAILED A CANAL – How a 10-centavo Nicaraguan postage stamp turned the Nicaragua Canal into the Panama Canal in 1902. The tale combines all of your favorites: Gilded Age corrupt-af US congressional politics, comic-tragic Frenchmen, the Suez Canal, and hydrological engineering!

Guest: Dr. Timothy Rich, who studies the Korean Peninsula as well as Taiwan and…Nigerian email scams? We discuss the recent developments in ROK-DPRK peace talks, Kim's fears and logic, and how Tim got the entire lyrics to "Sexy Back" published in an academic journal. Follow him on Twitter @timothysrich

Cocktail of the Month: St. Christopher, the patron saint of gettin' you drunk this summer. Requires Aperol or equivalent, so add that to your shopping list to play along with this fun, easy recipe for a not-too-sweet summer drink. You get to mash cucumbers.

Episode contains a snippet, not licensed in any way, of the song "Panama" for educational and review purposes only.

Thanks: Dr. Timothy Rich, all the bands that contribute music (Waxeater, IfIHadAHiFi, The Sump Pumps, Oscar Bait), Zachary Sielaff, Question Cathy, and all Patreon supporters, subscribers, and listeners.