Contact your Reps, but be smart about it

Please exercise your first amendment right to a) to petition the Government for a redress of grievances by contacting your representatives in governmental office, as well as exercise b)to the freedom of speech, as well as how it can be applicable to c) the right of the people peaceably to assemble.

This includes your elected officials at the local jursidictional level (such as your town Mayor and local legislative representatives), the State level (like your Governor, and statehouse legislators), and at the Federal Level (the President and your House and Senate members) as well as non-elected officials who are part of your local or the national Executive branch agencies (think your local Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and national Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Don’t forget you can also petition the courts as well at both the local and Federal level when cases you are interested in the outcomes of reach a certain level of appeals where “friend of the court” briefs can be filed.

Furthermore, there’s nothing to say you cannot utilize these rights outside of your elected jurisdiction. Your opinion may mean less on face value because an elected official may not feel as beholden to take your opinion into account because you can’t immediately vote them out of office, but it’s important to remind elected officials that the current American citizenry is one of the most jurisdictional mobile in history and especially if you are contacting an adjacent electoral jurisdiction your opinion holds weight, as you could be a voter there at any point in the near future as well.

Two quick pieces of advice …

First: PLEASE don’t spam the hotlines, inboxes or otherwise become annoying noise in the decision making process. The original public comment methods are spammed the shit out of and reps are becoming smart to advocacy tools in the tech era.

Some estimates on some recent public comment websites have less than 2/3 of the comments were unique entries, the rest were spam based duplicates or dead inputs. FYI: Your IP is most likely being recorded when you are inputting through a default comment form. Your phone numbers is likely being recording through a voice mail system. Your name and address information is being recorded through petitions. And, so on and so forth.

When you make the same canned comment through several different contact points to the exact same person or agency you might think you’re being passionate, but what you inevitably are creating is noise in the reporting due to the duplication and watering down your opinion over time. Do it enough redundantly enough and you’re potentially undermining the cause as reps tend to discredit redundancy as being spam rather than being passion.

Furthermore, that redundancy is rarely driven by unique points of view, which brings us to number two…

Second: is be unique in your pitch. Don’t read off a script directly. Don’t use canned talking points without making them personal first. Something like half of the public comments could be easily tracked back to a handful of scripts that were distributed on both sides. Meaning the language used for the majority of the comments reflected “talking point” duplication where it wasn’t direct copy and past but heavily inspired by the equivalent of a form letter service in order to circumvent software designed to disregard exact duplicates and the similarities are still caught. You HAVE to sound original and sincere in your concern. Don’t create unnecessary noise by producing duplicate arguments, especially if those ideas are securely rooted in the language used by

The single best way to be on record with the Government is to physically be there in person. Show up, sign in with a legal ID and state your piece in person. Come prepared to state your claim, answer pointed questions about it and maintain your decorum. If you can go in person, it’s best to document everything along the way. If you are legally able to record the account do so. If you can, follow up your meeting with a detailed recap to the person you met with restating your point, as well as what you perceived the outcome of the meeting to be. Make sure you are explicit in stating this is a follow up contact so it’s not treated as spam but as legal documentation of the communication.

When showing up in person, it’s usually best to do it by a prescheduled meeting. Being there is an established track record of politicians denying personal meetings with constituents of the opposing viewpoint, particularly lately of Republicans denying these kinds of meetings, then take full advantage of sanctioned public assembly meetings like town halls. If town halls are not honored, which is also recent recurring trend among Republicans than produce assembly and petition opportunities legally by using other ways to bring together the community. If you are thwarted by no-shows or by threats of legal repercussion don’t be stymied, and take advantage of your Constitutional rights and your representative’s legal obligations by contacting your local ALCU and related organizations and gaining their assitance.

If you cannot arrange to meet your rep in person, write them a letter. No joke, old fashioned, legibly hand written letters show you take a special interest in what you are contacting them for. Be sure to send it registered mail with a signature delivery required in order to ensure there’s a record of its receipt by your reps office. You can type it if you’d like, but if you do do this, make sure it is on personal letterhead, addressed personally to the rep and don’t use a form letter introductory paragraph or a form letter closing statement as those are giveaways you are more likely. Regardless of hand written or printed, mail separately a separate CC to someone else on staff so there is a paper trail and ensure in your enclosure you are explicit in stating this is a follow up contact so it’s not treated as spam but as legal documentation of the communication.

If you must rely on electronic communication use a unique address approach that allows you to CC the entire staff of the person you are trying to contact and not a preexisting form. When you draft the email make sure you address everyone in CC and produce a body copy to the letter that is unique rather than relying on some prewritten form letter.

Be an advocate for what you believe. Don’t be a tool. One of the reasons many fights, from the FCC to the DEP to the FTC-DCPA/CAA to the DOE, etc, are so frustrating is because all the research shows both sides leveraged shady tactics but the current Administration is ignoring the abhorrent bullshit and blatant manipulation of the comment structure to defend their terrible approach.

The are not only allowing the robocommenting to influence them but enabling it further through the changes … if we want to have a real effect we have to play by a better set of standards or we potentially set up a situation where public comment is eliminated completely.

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A Helpful Helper

You never know how much you really know until you can teach it to someone else. Or, alternatively, sometimes you don’t realize how much you take for granted until you need to explain it to someone else.

Working as a mentor with high school and college kids proved to be a very good lesson in just such a dynamic. But, even that is offeset by being a father to a toddler!

Thankfully, Padawan is a great learner. And, a great teacher.

Me, on the other hand? You can still teach an old dog new tricks. So to speak.

Several weeks ago when playing the shoes & socks game to help Padawan learn to get themselves ready for daycare I stumbled upon the idea that they were already comprehending aspects of pretty complex sentences.

Follow this string of consciousnesses for a second: I talk aloud to myself anytime I am working through any kind of routine checklist so I don’t miss anything. The process helps me internalize the process and externalize the results. With so many things to keep track of getting Dexter, Padawan and myself ready in the morning, it’s a fairly long, drawn out affair. Over the last few months Padawan picked up on the idea of “daddy’s shoes” always being picked up from the same place, going on at the same time in the process and so on.

So, one day recently, I’m mumbling to myself about “Daddy’s Shoes” and lo-and-behold, Padawan by themselves goes over to the door, grabs one of my Doc Martins and brings them over to me. Continue reading

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A, B, Cs

As my Padawan continues to obtain a better grasp on language I continue to find myself revisiting a great many aspects of it I’d taken for granted over the years.

The most recent perplexing one is the A, B, Cs. The song itself is a simple little diddy that is designed to help remember the order that at the moment both my Padawan and I hate for different reasons.

Maybe hate is a strong word, but sometimes for them it’s difficult to get out the sounds and the pitches and the rhythm by memory at this point. It’s more fun to just sing other things.

For me, it’s a pointless exercise in learning something in a way that serves little actual purpose. After all, the names of the letters are vastly different than how they sound in actual phonics. And the order of the letters is generally arbitrary – since it’s not grouping them in ways that represent phonetic usage.

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love when Padawan gets through the first few letters without prompting correctly and then realizes it and cheers themselves on. I love when I start singing and suddenly stop that they are able to pick up where I left off (or at least get marginally close).

So, why is that order the order of the English alphabet and moreso, why do we pronounce the letters completely different from how they sound in actual phonics? Continue reading

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The Fictitious War On Christmas

Oh, it’s that time of year again.

A bunch of ‘Murikan Christians bitching about how there’s this so-called “War on Christmas” mucking up their lives. They claim there’s all kinds of ways their so-called holiday is being trampled upon by “social justice warriors” and “political correctness” and how “progressives” and “libtards” are trying to undermine their traditional celebration.

Funny thing is, the complaint is rarely about the over-commercialization of Christmas as a capitalistic secularization that undermines the solemn Biblical implications of the Birth of Christ.

Rather it’s always about politicizing one’s personal, irrational and often unsubstantiated opinions, mutating to the generic use of “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” into a trampling their deeply held beliefs, and turning even the simplest of decorations and holiday displays into potentially divisive political statements.

Only in the United States, where a majority of identify as some Denomination of Christianity and a plurality identify specifically as of Denomination Mainline Protestantism, would individuals feel there was a war on a holiday whose theme begins to proliferate social interaction as early as the day after Labor Day and completely dominates nearly every aspect of cultural norms beginning on the commercially devised Black Friday culminating in full month of full on Christmas debauchary.

And, the Republican Right worries about the left being a bunch of snowflakes?

Even if one isn’t Christian, Christmas is a ubiquitous cultural phenom with such a far reaching influence that overshadows the more identifiably American holiday Thanksgiving and the American culturalized rendition of Halloween. It’s been so overzealous in its need for attention that Crazy Eddie used to celebrate it in July and it’s not uncommon to find trees and trimmings in Sears and other retailers as early as post-Independence Day.

The Conservative, Religious Right has never been able to defend this wholly fictious “war” well because it is mired in hypocrisy. The conundrum being, of course, that the Americanized Secular version of Christmas as a Cultural Celebration is, in many cases, already in direct contradiction with many of the Religious teachings associated to the theological roots of the holiday. Simply put, to be Christian celebrating Christmas and to be an American who celebrates Capitalism means your two identities are inherently at odds. One cannot espouse the traditional, humble values of the Birth at the same time as openly embracing overt, greed-driven commercialization that drives modern US society. And, even within the Religious teachings supposedly being at the forefront despite the aforementioned duality the Denominational disparities make it difficult to really know what religious Christmas should be universally acknowledged. Basically, universal cultural appropriation occurred to create the social celebration it’s became along the way.

The reality is the version of Christmas these Christian Crusaders long to defend is a narrow set of self-interpreted American Cultural Norms. They want to oppress other’s with this self-radicalized set of norms using a nostalgic, rose-colored, revisionist history of the 1950s iconography as the basis to which we need to revert back. This, of course, is ridiculous because what these politically driven commentators want to return to never existed in the first place.

What’s more, Christmas is but one manifestation of this retro desire. It’s but one corner stone in a long running cultural war that fundamentally began during the Goldwater “Southern Strategy” era and was furthered by the Reagan “Moral Majority” movement that set out to push a specific sub-set of White Christian “values” in an us-versus-them supposition. The “War on Christmas” is a symptom of this victim mentality they harbor and there are many treatises on why many of them, despite being in a majority, wish to perceive themselves as oppressed.

Much of it has to do with an intentional misrepresentation of history that subsequently has resulted in a new generation of historical ignorant plebs regurgitating falsified talking points. Specifically, in this case, nearly everything they reference as “wanting to go back to” is already a highly bastardized version of Christmas to begin with.

Thus, lets go back to the “beginning” and find out about Christmas:

The birth of Christ is only covered in two of the four modern renditions of the Gospels and both Luke and Matthew take different approaches on the subject. Furthermore, not all of the references made by either can be historically corroborated and most scholars emphasize the inclusion was about the fixation of certain theological traits than in any attempt at historical accuracy. As Christianity became a more formalized religion the importance as a celebration in the Liturgical Year grew in importance, however even as last as the 3rd Century the date of the celebration had yet to be formalized. -!>

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Monday mix: Monster Pumpkin Heaviness pt. 2

#MonsterPumpkinHeaviness pt 2 was this weekend on KAOS Radio Austin and MPH noise radio resumed the resurrection of moshable demonic monsters.
The cliche got underway last week as we explored the exceptional evil that metal, punk and hardcore has to offer. After all, if the genre is going to be called satanic by Tipper Gore and company it might as well live up to its billing.

Honestly, the show half-programs itself as there really is no shortage of references to monsters, demons, beasts and Satan itself, but that’s also the exceptional challenge of doing such a show, since something especially sanguine will always miss the cut.

Opening the show, we explore evil from multiple perspectives once again, this time courtesy of Type O Negative interpreting the mighty Sabbath’s namesake song, Black Sabbath, from the Satanic Perspective (because that extra dose of flame rising suffering was necessary?!?).

Moving on into the pits of true despair, we’re guided by Katatonia, My Dying Bride, Candlemass, Isole and other’s morose interpretations of demonic aspiration.

The temptress of tourture is being lured in before cranking the screws of sonic suffering and that comes from Blind Illusion, Mortification, Edge of Sanity, Hannes Grossmann, Vadar, Vastorbant. Testament’s Demonic Refusal also makes an obvious appearance and not only are Testa one of my all-time favorite bands but you’ll recognize this track as part of the show intro. Dyscarnate’s latest offering blisters the skin as well with “All the Devils are Here,” because of course they are, where else would they be.

Next, we’ll crank up the pain and sonic suffering by turning up the volume in the pit with the likes of Despised Icon, All Shall Perish, Upheaval, Hester Prynne, the Red Chord and more. Seriously, if you’re gonna do gutteral groans and pig squeals in the same song this is the perfect time to showcase it.

This, all while you learn about the origins of Satan and it’s influence on metal (hint: I’ve covered this on the blog before, metal music has roots in blues, jazz and classical, to name a few, and the crossroads obviously play a part in addition to the so-called “occult” lyrics that early purveyors like Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and other late 60’s/early 70’s hard rockers drew from) as well as how you can bring special tricks or treats to kids who might not otherwise have the opportunity to take advantage of Halloween by supporting the not-for-proift ‘Ween Dream (

I do hope you’ll have the opportunity to tune in to Sunday evening and if you can’t, that you’ll hit up the archives for this and all the previous episodes at

make music satanic again: Horns in the air folks, horns in the fucking air Continue reading

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Woah, Woah, Woah

It is impossible to catalog all the fun and inspirational things the Padawan does or all the milestones they are achieving. I just don’t blog often enough any more which is a shame, as there’s probably about three readers that would appreciate it.

Music is a big part of the Padawan’s youth experience thus far. It’s ubiquitous – they sing, we sing, music plays at day care, in the car, around the house either on the stereo or because the toys have music settings.

Happy Birthday is still the fave but we also have the A,B,C song beginning to go into singing rotation too. At least up to the letter G.

So, today, we were singing A,B,C in the car and Padawan interrupts and vehemently states, “No A,B.” I forget what I said in reply but the response is, “No A,B, thank you.” I started to sing something else, one of our made up songs. To which I was interrupted yet again, “No please.” So I asked, “What would you like to sing?” All I got was, “No A,B, thank you.”

Not wanting to drive in silence and being the AM news stations signal suck in that area I popped on a Halloween-ish type mix and on came the Misfits.

That’s what Padawan wanted.

For the entire Misfits song it was “Woah, Woah, Woah” from Padawan. Not in tune (then again, sometimes neither is Danzig) and rarely in time either. But that’s the allure of them participating at this age. When the song ended the Woahs kept going, and going, and going for almost a full 10 minutes through AFI and Type O Negative and even after the mix stopped.

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Monday mix: Monster Pumpkin Heaviness pt. 1

Allhallowtide is almost upon us and that means the resurrection of #MonsterPumpkinHeaviness with sublime chants of Six-Six-Six. Blur the line between good and evil with metal, punk & hardcore as if it was life and death with hymns of demonic monsters as we play into the cliche this week of KAOS Radio Austin at

Tonight we explore the music, philanthropy & history of some of the halloween folklore we take for granted while learning about how organizations like that stand up to the frights of modern, organized religion while eschewing the stereotypes of classic satanic debauchery. The importance of stressing both a multifaceted religious understanding and the need to separate one’s religious “belief” from secular law is truer than ever, particularly as showcased in the Satanic Temples work against Canonical Law and Bible thumpers.

Your soundtrack to the Samhain experience beings, of course, with Iron fucking Maiden. Because where else would you begin but a song that tells the tale of Satan from three different perspectives.

The beast’s blight comes in the form of modern moshers by Karkaos, with their grandly dark melodies and Kreator to frame the show with blackened thrash.
Meanwhile, the mark can be felt by the dichotomy of Darkane, Darkest Hour, Mors Principium Est, Before the Dawn, Once Human, Desecrate and more. Their approach is the sonic equivalent of lifting the veil between the living and the dead bringing the variety of vocal textures and diverse orchestrations.

While the torment of the mosh from Eloa Vadaath, Gigan, Phaze I, Atheist, Opeth, Divinity will obliterate your will with a brutal approach to composition style that blurs the experience of good and evil with a notch towards the the war between with blistering attacks on your inner being.

Finally the razing of your soul comes from the trickery of Rite of Passage, Iced Earth, Judas Priest, Anthrax and more as the balance of treasure and torment of your spirit becomes the trick you’ll be trying to comprehend all nite.

If you’ve ever missed any past year’s episodes of #MonsterPumpkinHeaviness you can pick them up at and more. So, please tune in past, present and in the future for week two (next week)…and remember, Per Bart Simpson’s interpreation of the “satan’s path” game “it’s gotta be good if it’s got satan on it” from S22 E4 treehouse 21 Continue reading

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