It’s Not Because He Has A Bigger Dick.

So my essay All Women and Never Men went viral on Fet for the third time in a decade, picking up another 700 or so loves and another 150 comments.

And when folks discuss the reasons why a dude might not want his woman having sex with other dudes (though women are, of course, harmless and acceptable), one of the most frequent comments is, “Of course those poor men are nervous. What if the other guy has a bigger dick and she leaves him?”

Well, allow me to reassure you, fellow dudes.

But first, let me present to you my regrettable credentials: At this point in my life, I have slept with somewhere in the range of about 125 partners. I say this to you not to impress you, but to report that, barring one-night stands, I’ve had about 80 partners date me, go “Oh, God, not this,” and leave. Often for another partner! Often from cheating!

So being broken up with? I have experiences.

And also, unfortunately for everyone in my early 20s, I used to be a huge and largely unethical horndog who didn’t care much about existing relationships, and as a result in many of those 125 partners I was the other dude luring someone over the fence.

I’ve since stopped, as 1) it was unethical, 2) it led to really crappy relationships that were fundamentally based in a lack of trust, and 3) keeping all the details straight so I could effectively roleplay life as a version of myself who was not a scumbag was frickin’ exhausting.

Point is, though, I have a lot of personal experience in breakups, and that’s not even counting watching my friends over the course of about 30 years and tabulating all that data.

And let me tell you:

The times where someone says, “I’m leaving you because he’s got two inches on your schvanstucker?” Never happens.

Well, lemme finesse that one a bit: It’s probably happened somewhere. Humanity’s big, there’s seven billion people boinking, there’s gonna be some incidents that occur just like that.

But the incidents where someone leaves based on dick size alone are vanishingly rare – and the subset when they do happen, well, it’s usually not about the dick.

Because what I find among men of a certain temperament (and some smaller segment of women) is that there’s this illusion that Parts Make The Person – you’re only unique as far as your sexual characteristics, so if you’re a woman what makes you special is your boobs, if you’re a man it’s your dick or your swinging balls or that trick move you do.

Which stems from this weird cultural story that sexual relationships are based primarily on sex. Like, the quality of the sex you have is the primary motivation, and everything else just sort of trickles down from that. (Ew, trickle.)

But that’s not how real life works! In real life, maybe sex is primary for a while – but for most people, the sex should be acceptable, but the reason they decide to stay with someone, move in with someone, have children with someone, comes down to simple questions:

“Do they make me laugh? Do they pay attention to me? Do they care about me?”

Now, people say, “Aww, man, she left me because that dude was better in bed/was kinkier/was hotter,” but that’s not usually the truth. What actually happened is that yes, there probably was volcanic sex involved, but the reason that sex was so intense was that the other dude was paying more attention than the other dude had, or they had a better shared sense of humor, or some other aspect that made them click.

Note that I’m not saying that “opening up your relationship means they’ll always stay with you”: No, the danger of your partner getting better options and leaving is a known danger, Khaleesi.

But the reason they left wasn’t the dick. It wasn’t the kink. It wasn’t their six-pack abs or their aquiline nose….

It was because, fundamentally, the fleeing partner found something more fulfilling emotionally.

As I said, I used to be a scumbag, and I can’t recall a single one of my cheatatrons where I said, “Hi, I believe I have a larger snozzwanger than your current man, TAKE ME NOW.” No, it was usually a situations where I made her laugh harder, or listened to her problems when her boyfriend blew her off, or just was willing to go do things that her boyfriend went, “Not interested, you go.”

I didn’t incentivize them to sleep with me because I promised mindblowing sex, but because I promised to be more fun.

(Jesus Christ I feel bad writing this, but gotta be honest.)

And wanna know a real secret? Sometimes I had a larger whangdoodle than her partner, and we had great sex, and she felt guilty because despite all the fun we were having, her old partner was still more fundamentally compatible with her, and she told me this was over.

It wasn’t about my penis.

And yeah, there’s weird crossover aspects – sometimes they leave a dumpy dude for a big muscley dude, but the dumpiness can be a side effect of “they have ceased to care whether they look attractive for me,” and it’s hard to feel that your partner cares about you when they show up in a Cheeto-dust-smeared shirt after playing videogames for twelve hours straight while you looked after the kids.

That story often gets retconned into “She left me for a hotter guy,” but they often overlook the fact that the reason that hotter guy had a chance is that they’d gone on autopilot for years and whoops, bad things happened while they were asleep at the wheel.

Don’t get me wrong – there are times when people absolutely leave due to physical attraction, but that attraction is not the driving reason. Yeah, older rich dudes will typically divorce their first wives to get themselves a trophy wife, but that trophy wife often presents the element of “I’m the fun escapist relationship who doesn’t ask much of you aside from cash!”

And women do leave men for being hotter/kinkier/penisier, but my point is that it’s not the primary element, because they also leave for schlubs who men cannot understand “How could they want that?”

(Hint: I have always been chubby, always been bug-eyed, always been just a little too goofy. I still attract people. It ain’t my man-boob milkshakes bringing all the girls to the yard.)

Plus, some women, particularly experienced ones, don’t actually want a big dick. It’s kind of like the way men say they want a girl with a high sex drive – then they get one, and go “Whoah, too much.” There are undeniably size queens, but ask around to most women with experience about whether they want the ten inch behemoth every night, and you’ll find a surprising number who go, “Oh, God, that’s painful. And not in a good way!”

So this whole concept of “BIG DICK == THREAT” is usually based on the whackadoodle masculine concept that “The dick is the only thing that matters.” And that’s simply not true for, like, 99% of people.

And for those who it does apply to, well, they’re pretty easy to spot. If you’re really afraid of your partner leaving you solely because the guy’s better in bed or has a gigantic dick, well, you should be able to see a clear pattern in their past relationships about who they kept and why. And before you get in to deep with a woman whose length-of-penises-in-vagina chart looks like a steady upward curve to the right…

Maybe stop? You don’t have to date anyone, remember. If you see signs that they’re only dating for someone’s sick abs and you’re worried about your ability to retain your own, that’s probably not a relationship you should commit to!

As for the rest: Welp, there’s reasons why the traditional pattern of “RELATIONSHIP IN DANGER, GO POLY” is a crappy one, because if you’re not stable as a couple, opening up your relationship to new people generally doesn’t fix things.

And if your partner is attracted to different people, in some ways that’s great! They’ve got a you! Them seeking out a carbon copy of you means you’re not being you enough! Many poly relationships involve dating people who are wildly dissimilar, and that’s not a “threat” so much as “you’re maxing out all their needs in these quadrants, they’re seeking out others.”

But yeah. There’s a lot of reasons why people cheat, and why people leave. There’s risks! Folks catch feelings, NRE, do stupid things! I get being afraid to open up your relationship to people, sure.

But I can’t be all that sympathetic to those who are terminally afraid of competing penises.

Because you’re more than the sum of your sexual parts. If you’re thinking your sole value to this relationship is a penis or a bra size or a sexual trick, chances are really good you’re leaving yourself open to someone who understands, you know, emotions.

But it’s hardly ever “DICK SIZE BIGGER.”

End transmission.

How An Unexpected Emoji Can Screw Up Your Relationships

In computer technology we talk about “edge cases,” which basically means, “Stuff we didn’t expect to happen a lot.”

Edge cases are where the bugs happen.

Like a URL. Most of the time, URLs are nicely predictable: You have, or, just these series of plain-text addresses to paste into your browser. And if you need to get reports on these URLs, well, it’s pretty simple to collect and collate them.

But what if you put an emoji into a URL?

I mean, you can do that. ?.fm is a legit URL… in some places. But some older browsers will choke on that, and if you’re using a library that does simple ASCII string operations, emojis are outside-the-box Unicode characters that break those comparisons in half.

Things act in weird ways when the assumptions they were built around shatter.

The same can be said of people.

A lot of concerns in the dating and kink communities are, “Is this person a good person to interact with?” And then we treat that answer as if it’s all-encompassing: Yes. This person is Safe. This person is Kind. This person is Helpful.

Which works until you paste an emoji into ’em.

Everyone has edge cases where they don’t act optimally; yeah, there are breakups that are either perfectly peaceful or totally one-sided-maliciousness, but I find that in most breakups both partners usually a little bit meaner than they normally would be. That’s not necessarily because they’re mean people, but because breakups are where you’re discovering that things you really wanted to work out aren’t gonna, and that puts a strain on ’em.

So: regrettable things are said. Does that make them bad?

Again, not necessarily. They just got an emoji stuck in ’em.

Likewise, people have weird edge cases personally – they’ve got good taste in partners until they fall down the rabbit hole of That One Person who mashes all their dysfunction buttons something fierce. They’re kind until someone pisses them off in the ways they consider inexcusable, and then it’s Katy bar the door. They’re thoughtful until they stumble across some buried racism/sexism/genderism they hadn’t had need to contemplate before, at which point they say some real stupid things until, hopefully, they learn.

Everyone’s got a few edge cases – places where their normal functioning breaks down.

And for me, rather than stamping someone with the label of “GOOD, ACTUALLY,” I try to be more nuanced: This person is reliable under these broad circumstances. How will they react when they’re hit with the grief of a lost loved one or a lost job, when they open up their relationship for the first time, when they feel threatened a friendship blossoming in someone they considered their closest buddy?


Which is not to say that they will break down! Depending on what you’re trying to do, maybe that ? in the URL works fine. “An edge case” isn’t a guarantee of a breakdown of normal functioning, it’s just an unknown whether the code’s robust enough to handle unexpected inputs.

But it does mean that I tend to judge people by their expected parameters. If you ask me, “Is Morgan safe to do kinky stuff with?”, my answer will not be “Sure!” but “I’ve never seen ’em have a problem in public spaces.”

What are they like when those circumstances change? No idea.

(And “No idea” is a perfectly good answer. Remember, you don’t have to offer an opinion if you’re not sure.)

So yeah. Normalize that concept of “A person isn’t a constant state, they’re the sum of their inputs.” Most folks will act differently at a tuxedos-on dinner party than they will at a dive bar. Recognizing the circumstances under which someone’s reliable (“You need a ride to the airport”) and under which they are not (“You need a shoulder to cry on”) will make your relationships run a lot more smoothly.

And if you don’t take those circumstances into account, well, things might just go to ?.

Thank God I’ve Left My Twenties Behind

I’m in the planning stages for a novel about kids in their mid- to late-twenties – and I say “kids” because I look back at myself at that age, and I don’t feel like I was really done yet. I mean, I was entrusted to be a grownup, with a car and a salary and an apartment and all the acoutrement, but I still spent most of my days feeling like I was three kids in a trenchcoat.

Worse, every movie I saw was telling me these were the best days of my life – me constantly hammered with stories where people were whooping it up at bars and going on grand adventures, meeting the loves of their lives, settling into a rhythm.

I never had a rhythm in my 20s. I just felt off-kilter the whole time.

And in retrospect, that’s because I had shucked off my teenaged stupidity, given up all that high school bravado where I showed what tribe I belonged to by liking the right bands and nerding out about the right TV shows. I had been a geek in high school, yes, but a more performative one than I’d later become – a teenager who clung to my love of Doctor Who in part because yes, I loved Doctor Who, but also in part because Doctor Who fandom was predictable, if I said the right phrases and wore the right buttons people would automatically accept me and take me seriously and God how I craved that.

I remember thinking that I was so totally rad and unique by being a nerd, and then I’d go recite the same Monty Python skits like they were church call-and-responses.

And by my late twenties, I’d left most of that behind. The nerdery remained, but that desperate need to fit myself into somebody else’s cultural shape had ebbed; I no longer drank Guinness to demonstrate my love of England, I drank it because I’d grown to love the taste.

I should have been free.

I wasn’t.

My twenties were a wandering time, because I had been given freedom but didn’t yet know myself well enough to understand what I needed in life. I had constant strings of relationship failures not because anyone had any ill intent, but because everybody I dated (including me) wasn’t sure who (or what) would be good for them.

We dated sort of as a shrug – why not? – getting together with people who didn’t seem awful, and usually they weren’t, but our boundaries were mushy because we had yet to crystallize those concepts of “What I absolutely require,” so we settled into icky relationships like a low flu, this constant ache of “I don’t know, was it okay for them to do that?”

Sometimes it was. Sometimes we talked ourselves into being okay with stuff we shouldn’t have been.

And we all constantly cycled through interests even though none of them quite satisfied – we all wanted to be bartenders, no, we wanted to take up gardening, we wanted to like foreign movies. These were all genuine interests, but most of them were more borne out of a need to want to have that satisfy us – but I’d take up brewing beer with the epic excitement of this will be what I do always and discover that I hated cleaning the bottles, hated waiting weeks for the beer to ferment, hated having gallons of mediocre beer stashed in the fridge.

And when that didn’t work? I’d retreat, sullenly, to hours of videogames and TV and mediocre sex, going back to numb comforts that were, in retrospect, just killing time. Junk food experiences that didn’t hurt but certainly weren’t doing me any favors. Gearing myself up for the next big push.

What we wanted was to have the experience to understand who we were, and I didn’t have that.

Yet ironically, we did think we knew who we were, because society kept telling us that we did. We’d escaped high school and college, so many of us had settled down with kids and a spouse and a home, we bristled at the implication that we were some clueless high school kid.

Which we weren’t. We’d left so many lives behind – I wasn’t that teenaged metalhead brandishing patches and Doc Martens like a brand, but who was I?

But now we had to map the territory of us, to self-define in a way we could leverage for happiness, and that was a lot harder. Because we weren’t miserable, but we weren’t fulfilled yet either.

I had become my own custodian, and I was a crappy caretaker.

For me, my twenties were mostly about discovering the boundaries of my tolerance. Apartment got too messy? Okay, I need some level of cleanliness in order to function. Relationship got too dramatic? I gotta hold the line when someone presses me this way. Job destroying me? Fine, how do I preserve my sanity? How do I eat, how do I track money, how do I find time for myself in ways that nourish?

I wasn’t done baking yet, and I resented that everyone else seemed to have become a perfect cake.

So yeah. For me, I spent a lot of time bumping around things, discovering my boundaries, shaping a sense of self. I was almost there, but that me at twenty was too nebulous to settle down comfortably into. Thirty worked pretty well, forty’s when I hit my stride.

What’s the most important lesson you learned about yourself in your twenties?

Five Things Ferrett Has Been Up To Lately

1) I’m Refitting My Van.
Last fall, Gini and I bought a spanking-new Ford Transit 2020, with the intent of converting it for travel. I’ve wanted to build a tiny house for years now, and this is the next best thing!

So yeah. We’ll be installing a floor, insulation, an electrical system, cabinets, a toilet, crude plumbing (not for the toilet), windows, the works. We started this weekend when we installed a swivel seat in our van, which felt very much like breaking the seal: it felt like major work, unbolting chairs and moving them around.

(We will be cutting holes in the side of our perfectly good van to install windows and fans, which is, to be honest, frickin’ terrifying.)

And even better, we’re documenting the whole process! If you remember my video 3 Reasons The Trench Run is the Best Action Sequence in Star Wars, that was a dry run for us filming this whole transformation. It’ll take a few weeks to get video up, as I’m new to editing, but… it’s coming.

You can tell I’m happy because it made my Board o’ Happiness ™:

My Board Of Happiness ™, Week Seven. As usual, if you’ve got anything that can fit in an envelope you’d like to give me to make me happy, hit me up.

And if you have any advice on refitting vans into travelling homes, well, I’m listening. Unless your advice is “Don’t do it,” in which case save ya shekels, bud, we’re committed.

2) I’m Writing Articles For!
One of my goals for 2021 was “Pitch more articles to other sites,” which I’ve done pretty consistently, and so I’ve been publishing musings on about books and media.

Hey, I’ve even got an archive page! So I’m pretty thrilled to be selling articles elsewhere.

(Also, I have my newsletter, where I’m in the second part of a three-part series on How To Create Fictional Magic Systems – being more consistent in my newsletter sendouts was one of my other goals for 2021, and I’m managing that.)

3) Gain a teeth, lose a tooth.
The good news is, after having no front teeth for pretty much all of 2020, I now have a permanent bridge – just in time to potentially start smiling at people.

The bad news is that I had my first bad tooth – a root canal with a post – get a cavity, and it had to come out. So my dental woes will never end, and I will never get used to chewing because the shape of my frickin’ mouth keeps changing.

My jaw hurts. It will one day stop hurting. One can hope.

4) Oh, yeah, the podcast.
Still doing it. It has a tiny audience, but this is a weirdly personal project so I don’t necessarily mind – I’m studying good books, and it’s encouraging me to read both more and widely, so this is like a little garden I’m tending to. I don’t expect I’ll hit the big leagues with it, but it is teaching me how to record myself, and so that’s useful.

5) I am studying Sumerian mythology.
Why? Because I have a book I’m planning (not writing yet, just planning), and I think I wanna bring elements of Sumerian mythology into it. But these tales are weird, man. Not “weird” in the sense of “FLAMING TENTACLE APOCALYPSE,” but rather “…did these people know how to tell stories?” There’s repetitions for no payoff, characters who serve no purposes, and even accounting for the incomplete nature of many of these stories, there’s frequently no endings.

It’s fascinating, but the fascination mostly comes from wondering whether there was something about the culture that filled in gaps in these stories with their own expectations, or whether the story structure in those days were tuned to a whole different audience, or whether the translation issues/missing volumes have rendered this alien.

Either way, it’s kinda fun!

What I Don’t Like About Kitchen Table Polyamory

So Kitchen Table Poly sounds like an ideal arrangement: All your partners should be comfortable sitting around the kitchen table, old friends sipping coffee and sharing merry conversations. What’s not to love?

Well, for me, kitchen table polyamory is a lot like democracy in Iraq: it’s a great idea if everyone just sorta settles on it, but a terrible idea if you have to invade and force people to do it.

Full disclosure: I try to do kitchen table polyamory for the very real sense that eventually anyone dating me is gonna meet my wife, and you’re gonna be hanging out in our living room at some point. If you’re all about “I like you but why would I want to hang out with her?”, it’s probably gonna go poorly unless we meet only at conventions, which I don’t do much any more.

And to be honest, I like my partners. They’re all dazzling personalities with interesting stories to tell, great opinions, funny jokes! I understand that there are folks who are like “I don’t want to know about anyone else you’re smooching,” but for me personally, it’s awkward when the people I love treat the other people I’m dating as radioactive jealousy-mines to be avoided.

I’m not gonna monopolize the conversation with talks of my other sweeties, but if something interesting and relevant happened to them, I’m gonna tell that anecdote. So yeah, if it’s all envy and resentment, we’re probably not gonna last long.

As such, I try to settle for a “have a beer with” polyamory – I want to be able to belly up to the bar with my sweeties’ sweeties, have an amiable chat, tip the hat when I see them in public.



When I see Kitchen Table Polyamory practiced in the wild, all too often there’s this Amway-style pressure – Oh, you’re dating me, now you’ve gotta be BEST BUDDIES with my partner! I’ve set up a date! Now you have to talk! Are you friends yet? Are you friends yet?

And again, there’s nothing wrong with being friends – but I also feel that friendship has to come naturally and from a freely-chosen sentiment, not from a “I will wrassle you to the kitchen table and you will LIKE it, mister.”

Because that – and its sibling pressure, “You must now have sex with everyone I’m dating” – is often a way of slamming people face-first into dysfunctional relationships, covering over very real issues with this crusty spackle of “FRAAAAANDS.” It can be a joyous smothering where yeah, the new person is crossing boundaries and being a douche, but this is our lovely kitchen and do you really want to mess up the linoleum with your petty complaints?

(Or the old person! The time you’ve been in the relationship should not be the measurement, the quality of the time you currently have should be. But that’s another essay.)

Friendships shouldn’t be mashed together like some sort of sex-lubricated turducken, but evolve naturally out of common happinesses and goals. And while some shun the kitchen table because I LOVE THEM SO MUCH I CANNOT BEAR TO LAY EYES UPON ANYONE WHO MIGHT POSSESS THEM IN A SMOOCHLY FASHION, which is, yeah, often a little problematic, well….

Some people like a little space.

I said I try to be beer-buddies with my metamours, but sometimes a fine indifference will do. I don’t have much in common with them, but they make my sweetie happy. They seem perfectly functional as a metamour, but I don’t particularly regret not having time to spend with them….

And that’s okay. What’s important is that everyone is content with the arrangement, not that we’re being herded into a circle by enthusiastic shippers shouting “NOW KISS.”

Kitchen table poly is fine as an ideal, and I certainly aspire to practice it. But it’s not wrong if it doesn’t happen. And the folks who are trying to make fetch happen are often jovially expecting people to suppress their own instincts for the will of the group, which is a dynamic that often allows weird traumas to fester and spread.

I would say I could cheerfully kitchen it up with about 80% of my partners’ partners. The remaining 20%? I don’t consider them toxic – I generally wouldn’t date someone who was attracted to someone I thought was actively bad for them.

But those folks, well, I don’t know much about them, they don’t know much about me, except that hey, we’re both dating this one person and we think they’re pretty neat.

That’s enough.

Leaving The Pandemic Behind Is Like Giving Up Soylent

It started as a wacky experiment that my wife and I did – “Let’s drink nothing but nutritional sludge for a week! They say you can survive on nothing but Soylent, the food replacement drink – but what’s that experience like?”

The answer: Pretty crappy. Soylent – at least back then, I’m told they’ve improved the formula somewhat – was like drinking heaping glasses of pancake batter with a sandy, bitter taste at the bottom. And near the end of the week, we came to dread the taste; Soylent turned the pleasure of eating into a regular discomfort we had to tolerate to survive, sighing as we lifted up the cup full of gray muck to choke down another couple of thick ounces.

It wasn’t fun.

But it was oddly safe.

My wife and I were – are – both heart patients, and our weight and cholesterol readings are constant undertows of anxiety. And as such, though we did not realize it because the experience was so normalized, every meal was a mild fearpoint.

Were we putting too much salt on this food? Were we endangering ourselves by having this turkey breast instead of a salad? Oh, God, we’re drinking the whole milk, not the skim we should, will this kill us? Here I am eating Chex Mix, I probably had too much…

What we discovered is that every time we ate, we had a low-grade anxiety because we knew we were never making the optimal food choices. We were always having a little too much, a little something wrong, sacrificing perfect health for the qualities of taste. And that constant push-and-pull of “Should I eat what I want, or what’s good?” was a continual tension –

A tension we didn’t even realize we had until it was removed. Soylent wasn’t great, but it was impossible to eat poorly when you were on Soylent. It wasn’t fatty, it wasn’t sugary, you couldn’t possibly want too much of it.

Soylent was just… there.

It was safe.

You could not hurt your diet with Soylent. It was the padded room of foodstuffs, where maybe you didn’t want to be there but it was all bland choices that couldn’t destroy you.

Obviously, we left the Soylent behind after a week. Food tastes good. It’s hard to give up.

Like socializing.

If you’re an extrovert, you’ve probably spent this entire time itching to socialize. And if you’re an introvert who’s been penned in not able to see anyone at all, you’re probably desperate for a hug. But for a lot of us, locked in with our partners and roommates….

The pandemic is Soylent. We don’t like the blandness it’s enforced, but it’s been safe for us – we couldn’t overcommit ourselves, we couldn’t drain our socialization batteries, we didn’t have to worry about whether we should go to that party or whether we should find more friends.

We had no choice. Every day. We choked down the same options given to us to be safe, which was none.

And now the pandemic is lifting, slowly, as we get our vaccines – keep wearing masks, people, normalize that stuff – and a number of us are looking at the future ahead with a weird mixture of anticipation and trepidation.

Like actual food, we miss the taste.

Like actual food, we realize there are bad choices to be made ahead.

And it’s like, yes, we absolutely want to get out and see people, but at the same time the silence let us tune in on this weird tension in our lives where we realized that we liked people, but choosing when and how and which people to socialize with held a certain strain that we never paid attention to before because we never had the option to tune out.

That volume is rising in the background. Things are starting to return to – well, I don’t know about normal, but whatever the new normal will be. And there will be gatherings, and there will be trips to see sweeties, and there will be new socializations again. And all of them will be good on some level…

But how do we reacclimate ourselves?

What do we do with this realization that we hated most of the pandemic, hated most of the lockdown refusals, but there was some tiny part of us that vibrated in resonance with the relaxation of not being expected to see anyone again?

Again. It’s not such a resonance that we’re tuning out altogether – this is sludge. The people are a delicious salad, or a steak, or whatever food rumbles your tummy. We’re not not going to choose seeing the folks we love.

Yet there is a part of ourselves that feels worth protecting. Is there a way to encapsulate this tiny hermit inside us and still keep our friends?

Terrible as this has been, is there a way to extract the still, nourishing parts of the pandemic?

Remember When The Government Could Do Things? That’s Back, Baby!

This last Saturday, I went down to the Wolstein center to get my vaccination, and it made me remember what I loved about government.

Because the Wolstein center is now processing 6,000+ vaccinations a day, and it is starkly functional. They’ve taken over a basketball arena and converted it into an emergency center, where all the details are taken care of for you – you get texts telling you when you’re ready, there’s spaced lines with rows of soldiers and cops cheerfully guiding you to your spot, there’s translation centers for people who don’t speak English and transport available for folks who can’t work the distance.

There’s no out-of-pocket expense; the parking is free, they didn’t ask me what insurance I had. I waited in my seat, six feet apart, and they brought me water if I was thirsty.

I wasn’t thirsty for water.

I was thirsty for functional goddamned government, and I was slurping from this beautiful fountain of competency.

I have been so tired of Republican commentary that the government is invariably inept, hilariously bad, so corrupt and outmoded that it is incapable. And yes, the government is often inept, hilariously bad, corrupt, and outmoded, but:

a) That’s often not worse than capitalism, which when it tries to help large masses of people decides “Eh, there’s no profit there” and lets them rot (also see: getting high-speed internet service out to the sticks), and:

b) It often (though not always) happens because bad-faith actors (like many Republicans) are sabotaging the damn thing (also see: the post office).

Look, the government has to solve complex problems – if they were simple, they’d be fixed. I’ve likened those issues to legacy code – everyone thinks large problems are easy to solve until you look at all the edge cases the old and terrible solutions are actually handling.

And while capitalism solves some problems very well, it falls flat on its face when you expect it to fix issues that a) don’t make a lot of money but are necessary services, or b) the fixes harmful side effects that can be “solved” by dumping waste out into the public space.

And I’ve been told for years that our government not only DOESN’T do anything, but it SHOULDN’T do anything. Kids are being shot up in schools? Well, that happens. Cops are murdering minorities for no good reason? Can’t expect cops to fix the problems. A deadly pandemic spreading across the country? We can’t ask businesses to shut down or pay people to stay home, that’s not what we do.

Slowly, I’ve watched the concept of government get reduced to “We bomb people and prop up bankers,” and I am livid.

If your government can’t protect its own children, it does not deserve to be a government.

So when I went down to the Wolstein center and saw our army being used to protect us and our cops keeping traffic flowing and our federal government’s guidelines being used to figure out how to distribute the vaccine properly – because Trump’s plan of “back a dump truck full of vaccines up to your door and drop them on your front lawn” was not actually a “plan” so much as “a hope” – I was moved.

Here was a man from the government, and he was here to help. And fuck Reagan in his cold, dead corpse; it wasn’t scary, it was good.

Government can be helpful if we hold it to task. There’s always boondoggles and waste, but that happens in corporations too – nobody ever talks about the time Uber wasted 2/3rds of their ad budget on fake ads, because we don’t discuss or disclose corporate waste. You make anything big enough, it’s gonna hemorrhage a little cash somewhere.

But I think it starts with saying, “The government can do some things that capitalism can’t.” Which is a terrifying idea, to the capitalists, because they hoover up a lot of money by convincing everyone that they alone can fix the problems.

I wasn’t a fan of Biden. But I think – I hope – that he can make the case to America that there’s some things that government is necessary for. Not all things; I like a little capitalism bringing me PS5s (or not, oops).

But some things go better with government help. My vaccination was one of ’em. And I’m sure it’ll turn out that there were operational problems in the vaccine rollout, and that’s good, because we hold our government to task in a way that we don’t hold most corporations responsible. It’s our money we’re paying.

And if we’re gonna pay it, I’d rather it go to feeding the poor and promoting public health instead of drone-bombings. Call me crazy.

(ALERT: As is usually the case, I have a policy of not allowing people to promote right-wing talking points in my threads. Dissent is allowed, but if you’re gonna be spouting bullshit like “Don’t forget Trump got you that vaccine!” when Moderna started working on a vaccine months before Trump rolled out Operation Warp Speed, and then Trump passed on buying additional vaccine dosages – then y’all are gonna get booted.)