The Republican Party has overthrown the United States government. Or, more accurately, they’ve been overthrowing it for decades.
I was a high school sophomore when SCOTUS handed the presidency to George W. Bush, who lost the vote. Trump lost by a near-historic margin to Hillary Clinton, arguably the most qualified candidate in my lifetime. Both Republicans took office because of the racist Electoral College, which was designed to empower white Southern voters.
Before, during, & since, all manner of voter suppression has been in play:
- closed polling stations in urban areas
- reduced voting hours
- voter ID requirements
- disenfranchising felons
- purged voter rolls
- reduced or eliminated early voting
- physical intimidation
Among others. Fast forward to the present—SCOTUS has overturned 50 years of legal precedent to allow states to force births, but won’t allow states to restrict the sale of certain types of guns. They’ve also appointed themselves legislators in their EPA ruling that unwinds a law established by Congress—after, again, being established for 50+ years.
And mostly, liberals have ignored all of this. Progressives have been screaming & waving their arms, but of course neoliberals on both sides view progressives as communists. Understand that when I mention progressivism in America, I’m talking about a centrist political position in the global context. American progressives want things like:
- automatic voter registration
- universal healthcare
- guaranteed parental leave
- free or affordable higher education
—all things that pretty much every other democratic nation instituted generations ago. Of course, you could argue that America is not a democracy anymore. I would agree. I’d go further and say that it’s also not a free country:
If the cowardice of the political minority is legislated upon the entire populace, you don't live in a free country.
If the state can overrule your decisions about your body, you don't live in a free country.
If the state can arrest you for peacefully protesting, you don't live in a free country.
If the state can arrest you for recording police, you don't live in a free country.
If the state jails children to fund private prisons, you don't live in a free country.
Remember that, of the 6 conservative justices, only Clarence Thomas was appointed by a president who the people chose. The current court should be 8-1 in favor of liberals. Which makes total sense because most of the country is pretty liberal. Presidential candidates from the Democratic Party almost always win the vote. Democratic candidates for Senate consistently get 10,000,000 more votes than Republicans; in the current Senate, Democrat Senators represent over 41,000,000 more Americans than Republican Senators—almost 13% of the country. In a 50-50 Senate. When you poll Americans on individual issues, the “liberal” side is almost always the majority opinion; see:
- cannabis legalization
- climate emergency
- gun control
- LGBTQ+ rights
- money in politics
I’ve been whiplashing between stages of grief (since 2015, but most recently) since the overturning of Roe v. Wade was leaked in May. I’m angry or depressed or naively hopeful or numb. It feels like the first time I had my heart broken. I still vote in every local, state & federal election (Nashville, next up is August 4th), but I don’t believe the ballot can fix what’s happened in America. I don’t believe in this country.
No real news on the dev side of the booksite. As I mention below, job hunting has taken up most of my last two months. However, I did finally complete a draft of my centerpiece poem. It only took 5.5 years, which, yes, is an objectively long time, but also not the longest it’s taken me to finish a poem in this collection (12 years).
With this crucial poem done, I can now send the manuscript for review. Of course, that presents a challenge with hosting, which I mentioned in the previous post. This, I think, is a much more solvable issue than finishing a poem that doesn’t want to end.
If you check my Now page, you might have seen that I got this website (& my GitHub profile) verified with Brave Creators. Which basically just means you can tip me in Brave’s native token, Basic Attention Token (BAT). It’s one of my favorite crypto projects because it enables a simple method for fans to directly compensate creative people. My booksite will have a Pay-What-You-Want model, and I hope crypto will be a significant part of that.
There are two methods for verifying:
- Download a file and add it to your project repo
- Add a DNS (Domain Name System) record to the hosting service for your website
The former sounds easier, but didn’t seem possible for a site hosted on GitHub. This is the error message I kept receiving from Brave:
Your website, andrewdillonpoetry.com, was not verified because we were redirected too many times to verify your domain.
Please reduce the number of redirects.
The authors of other GH-hosted Jekyll websites have described their verification process, so I don’t understand why I couldn’t. In any case, I was able to verify using the other option. The steps will vary depending on your host, but the new DNS record should look like this:
- Leave Host name blank; verifications must point to the primary domain, not subdomains.
- Brave provides you the string to paste into the Data field.
This field is formatted differently than the file you’d use (
brave-rewards-verification.txt) for the other verification method; you can’t copy & paste the contents of a verification file into this field.
Application Programming Interfaces allow two different programs to talk to each other. If you’ve ever checked out with PayPal on Amazon or eBay, you’ve interacted with an API. API doc is part of a larger trend in the technical communication industry toward documentation for an audience of developers. Devs might use an API to add functionality to their website or app so they don’t have to create it from scratch. In contrast, traditional techdoc focuses on the end user, and how to help them do something with—or understand—a product or service. Think of what pops up in an app when you press F1 or click Help.
Tom Johnson (the same author whose Jekyll theme I’m using to build the booksite) created a popular course called Documenting APIs. I powered through the first two sections, which were immediately useful for some of the technical assessments I had to complete as part of the hiring process. This new knowledge could also be useful for adding functionality to this site—say, a contact form.
For some reason, my parents receive mail addressed to me. They recently bought a new home that I’ve never lived in, so this is baffling. Have you heard of the Salesians? I had not. Here’s a card they sent me:
This is weird, right? It seems like they think I’m dead, but also they addressed the card to me. Even weirder is how the hell do they know who I am? Salesians are a Catholic sect, and I did go to Catholic mass or Sunday school until I was old enough to say I didn’t believe literally anything I was told there, but that was over 20 years ago and in a different state. Is this some kind of misguided request for donations? I can’t find much info about this practice, so reach out if you have insight.
As I’ve alluded to, I was recently laid off. After a big reorganization within the business unit at my company, they eliminated several positions, and mine was one. Not a big surprise, since I was a Technical Writer at a company without that position in their career architecture. I had a couple opportunities to transition to other internal positions, but they would have required me to refocus as more of a Business Analyst or Project Manager. Both of those sound like terrible fits for me, and I like tech writing, so I decided to take my severance and start a wider job search.
I’m mostly looking in Europe since American democracy has been sabotaged by an authoritarian theocracy, but am also considering remote jobs in the States. Since the end of May, I’ve had… so many interviews. The hiring process has felt elongated: 4–5 interviews plus an assessment, with ~2 weeks between each step.
I guess I understand on one level—I can’t meet these hiring managers & colleagues in person, so they probably want several opportunities to gauge my skillset & temperament before investing in me (especially if they have to go through the extra effort to sponsor me for a visa). And everyone’s busy; exacerbated by the labor shortage (is that affecting all industries?). On another level, if everyone really is short-staffed, 10 weeks seems like a very long timeline to fill a vacancy.
Has hiring always been like this? I’ve mostly been applying to jobs in technology or fintech, so maybe it’s a self-selection bias.
The poet Jay Hopler died in June after living with cancer for many years.
His first collection, Green Squall, won the 2005 Yale Series of Younger Poets (America’s oldest literary prize). I started writing poetry in a dedicated way in 2007 when I took Kristin Robertson’s poetry workshop at UT. One day I turned in a draft, and when Kristin returned it, she had included a photocopy of Hopler’s title poem from that collection:
I became fixated on this poem. I was new to contemporary poetry at the time (because our schools fail us in this regard), and had no concept of this kind of playfulness: with grammar, with word-making, with imagery. I also loved seeing the poem stretch out & take up space on the page (imagine what it would lose as a single stanza of left-aligned text). In the following months, I wrote several pastiches of the poems in Green Squall, including “Daydream”, which was recently published in Poetry Salzburg Review, and is a pastiche of Hopler’s opening poem, “In the Garden”.
Ultimately, my poetic voice is very different from Hopler’s, but my first impulse was to imitate poets who, like him, are masters at the level of the phoneme. Because they make me want to slow down, stare into the middle distance, give my day to a collection of poems, despite the world burning & drowning on either side of me. Because without artists like Jay Hopler & the beauty they add to the world, what’s the fucking point?
McSweeney’s has been collecting remembrances of Jay.
Rest well, dear great poet.
- The title of this post comes from jay hopler's collection the abridged history of rainfall