Monday, April 30, 2018

To Artscape in Baltimore re: 2017 Artcars

Last year I had the worst experience I've ever had at an artshow with my car.  As Artscape decided it wasn't worth their time to reply or address any of the issues raised I've decided to share my letter to them with the world so that any artcar artist considering attending can know what to expect as far as treatment from Artscape. 


Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts
10 E. Baltimore Street, 10th Floor
Baltimore, MD  21202
Artscape, BFAI, BOPA
Susan Fortkiewicz, Bill Gilmore, Bob Sicard, Chuck Adkins, Corey Lacey, David D. Mitchell, Kathleen Hornig, Kim Domanski, Krista Green, Linda Blume, Markell Cassard, Megan Bosse, Rosalind Healy, Shelia Goodwin, Tess Cooper, Tracy Baskerville, Anana Kambon, Michael Shecter, Jeffrey P. Pillas, E. Scott Johnson, William B. Gilmore, Kimberly A. Clark, Thomas Crawford, Michael Davenport, Shelia Y. Goodwin, Rosalind M. Healy, Sandy Hillman, Jack Lewin, Brian Lyles, Safa Ashrafi


I’ve waited over a month to write this so that my thoughts would be clear and concise on this year’s Artscape Artcars exhibit.  Without a doubt it is the worst event I have ever attended.  Not only have I been going to Artscape for nearly a decade with my car but I also attend two to four other artcar events every year.  You failed in almost every way possible from the way you treated us artists to your failure to promote the artcar parade.  You not only failed us but you failed your vendors in a huge way.

We arrived at 11am on Friday to find one tent (not two per car as we were promised or even two for all the cars), with no furniture, no chairs, no table, no ice, no water, no soft drinks, zilch.  The heat index was over 107° and we were all expected to shelter from the sun in one 10’ square tent on a concrete overpass with no other shade of any kind!  We finally got some utterly crappy pizza dripping with grease (two choices!) after dark with about a dozen soft drinks in a bag.  Still no ice, no chairs, no table.  Unbelievable.  To top that off we were not allowed to leave until 11pm!!!  We are not statues, we’re not simple displays that can be set up and left behind.  We are artists, these are our vehicles, and 12 hours in the hot sun is ludicrous!  There was no reason whatsoever for us to remain there after 9pm either Friday or Saturday and why you forced us to is beyond me.  In the past we’ve been able to leave once it slowed down so we could do things like eat and sleep and recover from the heat.  You people don’t seem to understand that we use our cars to get home!  We can’t just leave them and walk, can we?  That seems to have been your attitude this year.

Saturday was perhaps where you screwed up the worst of all.  You didn’t advertise the artcar parade at all.  We were waving at the vendors sitting with empty booths on empty streets.  I’ve never seen it like that and it’s because you failed miserably.  In the process you really screwed over your vendors.  In the past the festival has been packed with people waiting for the parade and what did they do while they waited for it to start?  They shopped.  What did they do after the parade passed?  They shopped.  They simply weren’t there this year.  If I had a way to inform the vendors of this directly I would.  I would bet most of them saw a decline in their sales from past years, but I wonder if you people even care?  You seem not to have given a flying f*** about the artcar artists so why would you care about the vendors as long as they’re shelling out the bucks for booths?

We had to be at the AMA at 9am for this non-parade after being held prisoner until 11pm the night before.  Figure in an hour to get home, shower and eat and then an hour in the morning to get up and dressed and drive to the museum (even longer for some of the local artists who had a half hour drive) and that doesn’t leave a lot of time to recover from 12 hours in the blazing sun.  That also meant by the time we were finally released from that scorching hot bridge Saturday night at 11pm we had had a 14 hour day!  Dr. Bob, who has been bringing his beautiful vehicle to Artscape for 27 years is over 70 and you wouldn’t let him leave to go home.  You are monsters.  Again, there was no reason for us to stay there past 9pm.  None whatsoever.  We were just a spectacle for drunken dance party people to point at and shout, “Whoa!”  If we were just placing our cars there and leaving it would be no big deal but that’s not what any of us were doing and never has been.  You would know that if any of you cared to find out what you were doing.  We were suffering waiting for you and the cops to decide you could open up an exit for us.  It has never been this stupid any other year I’ve come to Artscape and I know one reason (other than the obvious incompetence of most if not all of you) is you didn’t have a single person dealing with the artcars that knew a thing about us, had any idea what we needed, had ever dealt with us in the past, or would have the slightest clue as to why your treatment of us was so crappy.

And let’s not forget your perennial bit of idiocy in requiring artcar artists to register in February for an event in late July.  Most of us don’t even know if our cars will be running that far in the future.  We’re not vendors, we’re a feature, though if you treat your vendors like you treated us this year I don’t see how you can rent a square inch of booth space.

If you seriously think that kind of treatment was worth the stipend we got to drive from Louisville Kentucky to Baltimore and suffer in the sun you’ve got another thing coming.  You don’t pay the local artists a damned penny and put them through this same BS.  I can’t tell you how many times I heard things like, “Oh great!  The artcars are back!  This is my favorite part of Artscape.  We missed you so much last year.”  But you people apparently have your heads so far up your own backsides you have no clue what a benefit we are to your festival or how beloved the artcars are.  Well frankly I doubt I’ll ever attend again after this year, not without firm assurances you’ll do a better job next time.

I know there are multiple pieces of custom built furniture for the artcar camp in storage.  I know you have a 25’ square tent that was bought specifically for the artcars.  Perhaps one of you could get off your ass and find them for next year.  Perhaps you could place the cars where they have an exit at a reasonable time instead of being locked in by the TSA and Baltimore police until hours after the vendors have closed up and gone home.  Perhaps you could provide refreshments the first day.  Perhaps you could bother to advertise the parade and actually make a parade out of it instead of a quick drive through the grounds to our parking spaces (seriously, in the past we’ve had marching bands, arted bicycles, and dancers, this year we hardly had to slow down there were so few people out there).  I write all this fearing none of you cares enough to even bother to read this far, much less do anything to improve your performance. 

Please respond to me promptly so I can decide whether or not to share this letter with every artcar artist in the country.  If you do understand how badly you screwed the pooch and make concrete efforts to do this thing right next year I’ll give you a chance in 2018 but I hold out little hope.  Regardless Artscape 2017 remains the absolute worst artcar event I’ve seen in this country in the dozen years I’ve been attending artcar shows.  There really is nothing anywhere in the same league of horribleness to compare you to.


p.s.  As you have no direct contact information for the BFAI board members I’m guessing they’re all too embarrassed to allow themselves to be publicly contacted.  I would appreciate it if you would make sure everyone on the above list gets a copy of this letter as they all took part in this travesty.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

To the National Weather Service

Today the NWS decided to have a nationwide tornado drill... without doing shit to inform people it was going to happen, so I wrote them an e-mail:

What is wrong with you people?  You have the ability to text everyone in this country with a cell phone and let them know you're running a tornado drill.  You could also tell everyone with your app and put it on the site and any number of dozens of places but you just set off the damned sirens and let people scramble to figure out what the hell is going on.  If it weren't for a friend that managed to dig it up online (and I do mean dig) I still wouldn't know why the hell the sirens went off.  Do you want people to just ignore them next time?  Like a growing number of Americans I don't have or want a television set and I only have a wind up radio in the house.  Even if you announced it on the weather radio (I'm going to bet you didn't) by the time I could've gotten the radio, wound it up, and started listening the sirens would've stopped.  How in the world was I supposed to find out what was going on quickly?  This is such a huge failure on your part you should all be fired and replaced.  You're the Office of Communications for fuck's sake, why don't you actually do that part of your job and communicate with us?
Alan Miller
Louisville KY

Sunday, February 11, 2018

On “Pussy Hats”

    After the November election that put the Pussy Grabbin’ Donald Trump in office planning began for a women’s march in D.C. for his inauguration.  This became one of the largest and most peaceful demonstrations in history.  The “pussy hat” design was an inspired way of making a symbol for women to show they were part of the protest, even if they couldn’t be there (excellent story about the hats here).  By and large these hats are pink (usually a hot pink but also the kind of pale pink used stereotypically for female babies’ clothes and rooms) and feature a pair of cat ears.  They were originally knit but can now be found as straw hats with a variety of sized brims and can be purchased in many colors, including black, brown, white, and patterns.
    There is a wonderfully snarky brilliance to these hats that exists on many levels.  The stereotypical pink color, for instance, traditionally indicates weakness and a delicate state but on the heads of hundreds of thousands of marching women that color becomes a statement of strength and solidarity.  The wonderful double entendre of the word pussy refers not only to the crude word for vagina (crude enough you can’t call a vagina a pussy on the radio or television, for instance) but the ageless stereotype that women are cat-like (she’s being catty, they had a cat fight), thus the kitty ears.  The hats are an in-your-face rebuke of the patriarchy and anyone offended by equal rights for women.  At the anniversary march this January the pussy hats were everywhere and their statement was obvious.
    Well… obvious to most.  I have become aware there’s a movement of sorts among some trans women and women of color claiming these hats are offensive… to them!  Supposedly the pussy part of the name is offensive to trans women and the pink part is offensive to women of color.  This, ladies and gentlemen (and non-cis gendered people who don’t understand the term “ladies and gentlemen” refers to everyone but get their underwear in a wad over everything), is why the left is always going to get its ass beaten by the right:  They don’t destroy themselves trying to be more correct than everyone else in their group.  A tiny cadre of disgruntled people looking so hard for any new thing they can find to be outraged by turns on perhaps the single largest group of people who are on their side because they’ve managed to blindly and humorlessly pick at this symbol to find something to piss them off.  You’d think they’d have their hands full protesting the GOP and “men’s rights advocates” but no, they’re going to go after the most prominent symbol of the fight for women’s rights (which apparently everyone but this protesting minority understands means all women’s rights regardless of color or birth) over what are simply bullshit reasons.
    Let’s look at the “it’s offensive to trans women” argument first.  Because of the word pussy they are offended because… vagina?  First of all there is no vagina on that hat.  As I indicate above the word is a play on a vulgarity, but the actual object that vulgarity refers to is not on the hat.  The only way the name of the hat is exclusionary is if a trans woman decides she’s excluded by it, she’s not wearing a vagina on her heard if she wears it she’s wearing a pink hat with cat ears.  If she wears the damned thing she’s part of the movement, if she’s mortally offended by it then she is not part of the movement.  I think that’s pretty simple but apparently inventing reasons to be offended is extremely important to this tiny subset of a tiny group of trans women, but as is so often the case, the biggest assholes have the biggest mouths and, not wanting to offend anyone many people will not argue that their view is misguided at best and truly stupid at worse.
    How about the women of color argument?  That comes down to basically “because it’s pink I’m excluded.”  First of all, many women of color do have pink genitalia, and even those who do not have pink visible externally are pink inside, so there’s that, and if you strip the skin off any of us we’re fairly pink colored.  But more importantly if your vagina is the color pink most of those hats are you need to go to a doctor immediately, you’ve got some kind of serious inflammation going on.  Even if the hat is that powdery pink of a baby’s bedroom that is still not a real skin color and you should go get that looked at.  I don’t remember women of color losing their shit over the pink ribbons for breast cancer which were pink for exactly the same reason the pussy hats are pink:  it’s stereotypically feminine.  Again this seems to be the case of an extremely small number of very loud assholes making a weak case to support their need to be outraged by everything, consequences be damned.  Look at pictures of the Women’s March closely, there are an enormous number of women of color proudly wearing their hats.  Odd that they’re not outraged like this tiny bunch of sour spoilsports.
    The danger that lies in this kind of pointless division is the way it weakens and dilutes the entire women’s movement by causing internal friction over the most visible and unifying symbol the movement has ever had.  As long as there are people claiming they’re being excluded because of a hat they will exclude themselves, weakening the entire movement over petty nonsense.  The hats are funny, they’re immediately recognizable, the knit ones are warm and the straw ones shield the skin from the sun, and when hundreds of thousands of women take to the streets wearing them it is an incredibly powerful and inclusive statement.  It takes a very short sighted and self centered person to feel that a hat’s name and color excludes them.

Friday, July 25, 2014

What This String of Botched Executions Says About Us

What This String of Botched Executions Says About Us

(Spoiler, We're Horrible People)

     "I am concerned by the length of time it took for the administered drug protocol to complete the lawful execution of the convicted double murderer, Joseph Wood. While justice was carried out today, I directed the Department of Corrections to conduct a full review of the process.
    "One thing is certain, however, inmate Wood died in a lawful manner and by eyewitness and medical accounts he did not suffer. This is in stark comparison to the gruesome, vicious suffering that he inflicted on his two victims – and the lifetime of suffering he has caused their family."  -Gov. Jan Brewer

The above quote says just about everything that needs to be said about how barbaric, simplistic, and generally horrible Americans are when it comes to the death penalty.  It explains why we are the only remaining "first world" nation that kills its own citizens.  It demonstrates how shallow and callous we are when it comes to human life.  A relative of Mr. Woods' victims echoed the governor's sentiments about this, but her thirst for retribution was based on her own suffering, which is somehow even more disturbing.  Using murder as a punishment for murder is uncivilized and primitive.  We are a nation of barbarians.

Even if one accepts capital punishment as just (I, for one, do not), holding the idea that it is alright that that punishment be sloppy, drawn out, possibly horrendously painful and, in the words of John McCain no less, torture reduces us, through our representatives, to blood thirsty murderers ourselves.  Gov. Brewer dismisses the horror of this botched execution (one in a series recently) by intimating that he deserved it because of what he did.  The way this execution was carried out has nothing to do with the crimes of the convicted, it is about how we as a people treat the condemned.  Using the "eye for an eye" rational for dismissing concerns about how we treated Mr. Woods points to the larger disgrace of our overwhelmingly bloated, inefficient, and human rights violating prison system and systemically racist, classist, and alarmist judicial system.  Once a shining beacon in the forward march of social progress and human rights we are sliding back towards a society more likely to burn people at the stake and rejoice at their cries of anguish than we are to act like thoughtful, sober, modern human beings.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Thoughts And Whatnot On The Hobby Lobby Decision

What's most staggering to me about this decision (I expect the GOP justices to be horrible) is that it is fundamentally based on a denial of science. Plan B is NOT an abortificant. The Pill is not an abortificant and can actually extend a woman's fertility (and can be prescribed for literally dozens of medical conditions that have nothing to do with sex). The SCOTUS has now made it possible for what someone (or worse a corporation) believes to trump reality in decisions that affect other individuals' lives. They have said that in the eyes of the law religious belief is greater than the truth, that religion is more important than reality.  This is a truly horrible decision that flies in the face of all precedent.


"The absence of such precedent is just what one would expect, for the exercise of religion is characteristic of natural persons, not artificial legal entities," she wrote. She concluded: "Indeed, approving some religious claims while deeming others unworthy of accommodation could be 'perceived as favoring one religion over another,' the very 'risk the Establishment Clause was designed to preclude.' The Court, I fear has ventured into a minefield." [emphasis added]



Friday, June 6, 2014

Open Carry Guys = Assholes

You don't have a god given right to be an asshole.  If you're such an asshole sane people don't feel safe around you then you're a threat to society.  Your rights do NOT supersede everyone else's rights.

Batshit Crazy Club 6/6/2014

Given the time these kind of people will always be found out.  She and her husband live lives full of contradictions, lies, and denial enforced by religion and insanity.  Duplicity is as duplicity does.  Of course they lied and cheated.  It is who they are.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

A Letter to The Horrible Asshole, Governor Steve Beshear

Governor Steve Beshear
700 Capitol Avenue, Suite 100
Frankfort, KY 40601

Alan Miller
Louisville, KY

re:  defense of KY's marriage ban
cc:  Courier Journal, State Journal, Lexington Herald Leader, Kentucky Democratic Party

Governor Beshear,

Between ignoring the separation of church and state by providing massive tax breaks to religious organizations like the Creationist Museum and the Noah's Ark theme park (and, seriously, you also violate the separation of incredibly stupid and state by supporting these tax breaks) and your recent utterly despicable decision to argue for only providing benefits for straight couples based on the utter BS that they're the only ones that can procreate (are you going to deny post menopausal couples or any couples where the man and/or woman are infertile?  Do we have no orphans that need homes, perhaps with a gay or lesbian couple?  Is there no benefit to the state in general in happy and secure couples being able to pool their resources?) you are now officially in the running for worst governor in the country.  Congratulations you worthless piece of garbage.  It's a damned good thing you can never run again because you are a horrible governor and the sooner your generation of intolerant cavemen dies off the better.  You are an embarrassment to the Democratic Party (as is the KDP that backed your worthless hide), the State of Kentucky, and America. 

Alan Miller

Sunday, May 4, 2014

My Recent Encounter With a Fucking Lunatic on Facebook

 This fucking lunatic (Hal Womack) posted to a friend of mine's post which, though factually correct was a bullshit gun nut meme basically blaming slaughtered Native Americans' slaughter on the fact they "gave up" their guns.  It's shameful to claim that they somehow would not have been slaughtered otherwise.  And then this racist, wacko piece of shit chimes in.  Enjoy:

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Smelling Rosemary

This meme has been going around Facebook for a little while and links to some bullshit parading as journalism.  It is the perfect example of bogus "facts." I looked at the linked "article" (first saw it last month) and had to stop and bang my head on the table a couple of times. It keeps getting passed around and it's just meaningless nonsense with links to a bunch of actual scientific studies that say no such thing, I can't even see how you pry this "fact" out of the linked studies. Makes me crazy. My favorite part though is that it improves memory 75%... 75% of what? You can remember 3/4 more dates? 3/4 more musical notes? 3/4 more places where you stumped your toe? What does that even mean?!?!? Someone explain to me why anyone would write this nonsense, I seriously don't understand the drive to just make shit up. Do they sell rosemary oil or something?


The word kiln is one of the oldest words.  Not oldest English words, oldest words.  Until American school teachers got their hands on it it was pronounced "kil."  Same goes with falcon (fokken) and palm (pom) and their until recent American English pronunciations.  And now you know.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Modern Snake Oil and Contempt for the Ethics and Morality of Scientists and Doctors

I get enraged.  Over and over I hear people say that you can't trust science but should trust some new age truism or conspiracy theory instead.  Why does this make me so angry?  Because I have several close personal friends who are research scientists and medical doctors.  One of my cousins is a medical doctor and research scientist with dozens if not hundreds of published studies credited to his name, a friend of over 30 years is the head of two major medical departments and oversees hundreds of researchers, and yet another friend of nearly 40 years is a scientist working at JPL.  I studied research psychology for several years at Tulane (dropped that second major because it wasn't the type of psychology I was interested in) and have an intimate knowledge of scientific ethics, methods, and motives.  I'm going to limit this discussion to medical research in particular (though the same accusations are levied against aerospace scientists, climate scientists, or even my friends who attended the funerals of Sandy Hook children they knew personally) because one particular blithe and insulting comment keeps coming up in the context of "western" medicine v. "traditional" medicine:  "All doctors are in the pocket of 'Big Pharma.'"

The most common infuriating statement I hear is that "herbal supplements" or "natural cures" are superior to modern medicine.  This belief is based on a series of logical fallacies including anecdotes, appeal to nature, confirmation bias, and arguments from antiquity.  Scientific studies are dismissed because they're "all funded by 'Big Pharma'" which explicitly accuses the tens of millions of research scientists and doctors performing long term studies and collecting billions of data points for analysis of being unethical, corrupt, and untrustworthy.  This opinion is based on the false idea that all or even the majority of peer reviewed studies are underwritten by pharmaceutical companies and that all these studies are manipulated and falsified by those companies.  Again, this is insulting to all these scientists that do the work of conducting the studies, running the experiments, crunching the data, and reaching conclusions.  It ignores that these studies, once complete, are then examined and re-examined by other scientists and doctors, that the data is sifted through by people whose sole goal is finding fault with the study.  Most of the time fault is not found or, when it is, it is because a larger study or experiment has been conducted that shows the original findings were not as significant as the data of the smaller study showed.  There is also a huge confusion in the minds of laymen and media that report on these studies as to what statistically significant means.  For instance, if a study shows that the effect of ginkgo extracts is statistically significant that does not mean that anything has occurred other than a measurable change when compared with placebo.  It does not mean that spending $50/month on ginkgo tablets is justified, it means that in this particular study they found an effect that rose above the baseline noise always found in a statistical study.  Subsequent larger studies can show (and in this case have shown) that the effect is so small as to be insignificant and in the smaller study was a fluke of the population involved.  Science moves forward and self corrects.  Belief is stagnant and entrenched.

As far as "Big Pharma" underwriting studies of their own drugs there is no doubt of this.  They have a LOT of money and they must have these studies for the FDA and international regulatory bodies to approve their use as medicine.  There have even been very rare cases of companies hiding data or cherry picking, the most prominent example that comes to my mind is Viox.  The study results were manipulated unethically so that the product's lethality was concealed.  So how was this fraud discovered?  Through the scientific process.  The process of peer review eventually brought out the truth, the drug was recalled (largest in history), and criminal charges were pursued.  This does not happen in the world of herbal supplements and "natural medicine."  The $60 billion/year herbal supplement industry does not underwrite independent peer reviewed examination of their products because they don't have to and because they're well aware that most of their claims will be disproven.  The herbal/dietary supplement industry spends fortunes on lobbying and have several major politicians in their pockets (most notably Senator Orin Hatch).  The industry wrote and pushed through Congress a bill in 1994 that exempted them from the same oversight as medicines.  The only time the FDA can do anything about their products is if they are found to be contaminated, they actually poison people, or the companies make explicit medical claims (which can be skirted by adding the simple statement "this product is not a medicine").

When you buy an herbal supplement you have no way of knowing that it is what it says on the label, much less knowing how much active ingredient is in the pill, or whether or not that herb has any real effect regardless.  But somehow intelligent people who should know better are willing to trust this unregulated and demonstrably fraudulent industry over the entire scientific medical field, impugning all the scientists and doctors involved as being unethical liars.

[A little side note:  so called "boner pills" that claim to be herbal aphrodisiacs are constantly found to be spiked with Viagra.  As soon as they are found out the company folds, the product is pulled from the shelves, a new company is started by the same players, the same spiked product is repackaged and continues to be sold (usually for prices equivalent to or greater than pure, unadulterated Viagra).  Ancient Chinese secret?]

One last point about Big Pharma v. Big Dietary Supplement:  the largest owners of herbal supplement companies are Big Pharma.  Why would companies like Pfizer buy dozens of "dietary supplement" companies?  Because they can make a ton of money with little or no regulation.  Dietary supplements are an out of control cash cow for these mega-corporations.  Those racks of pills at your local health food store are not being made by a conscientious mom & pop company working diligently next to their little garden, they are the same people that make the pills that line the shelves of your pharmacy.  They know they can stuff dried grass into a pill, sell it as St. John's Wort and there will be no consequences but if they sell a tablet of ibuprofen that is full of sugar they'll face huge fines and criminal liability.  The "Big Pharma" argument is in and of itself moot as "Big Pharma" is running both sides of the equation.

So yes, it makes me furious to hear perfectly intelligent people call my friends and relatives liars and frauds while claiming that proven liars and frauds are more trustworthy and honest.

related sources:,%20Reynold.pdf

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Another Teabagger Analogy

Let's say a group of people decides they want to buy a car together.  They work very hard to find something that they can afford if they all chip in and that comes the closest to being what everyone needs.  There's one guy that hates the idea, hates the process, and hates the car even though he'll be able to use it just like all the rest of the people in the group.  That guy then spends the money saved for the car and blames the plan to buy the car, he goes to the dealership and keeps tearing up the paperwork to buy the car, he lets the air out of the tires, but when the car is finally delivered to the group he uses it more than everyone else, and every time he gets a chance he runs it into a telephone pole or drains all the oil and then blames the broken car on everyone but himself. 

The Desperate Lies of the Extreme Right

The GOP claimed "Americans don't want Obamacare."  GOP governors in many states refused to set up their insurance exchanges or otherwise undermined the roll out, all the while claiming Americans were against it and didn't need it.  They spent millions on ads trying scare young people out of signing up.  But so many people didn't want it that the Federal system was overwhelmed and the state systems that were set up were sluggish at first.  Now the GOP is screaming about the website not working (so it's a failure).  Guess what, you lying bastards, in the states not controlled by you traitors it's working just fine and people are relieved and happy to finally have access to reasonable (and in many cases free) health insurance.  I hope everyone remembers this come next November.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

News Release from the Bat Shit Crazy Club

Just so you know, this quote is from a satirical site.  The best part is it isn't surprising to anyone.