How to Find Out What the F*ck (Is Going On)

The title of this post comes from a predictive text Twitter thread I did recently that used blog post title templates. In a moment of hilarity-induced poor judgment, I offered to write any of the posts predictive text generated titles for.

This one won. For good reason! The world is full of “what the fuck?” moments. To navigate it successfully, we need skills in finding out what, indeed, the fuck.

Here is a guide to doing just that.

wtf

First: Is It F*cking Familiar?

When your reaction is “What the fuck is going on?,” start by looking for familiar elements.

Do you know who the fuck is involved? Do you recognize the setting or tools used in this fuckery? Do you have an odd sense that you’ve been in this fucking place before?

When we cannot quickly identify or categorize an event, process, person or object, our brains trip the “What the fuck?” circuit. By looking for familiar elements, you help your brain categorize what it’s perceiving more quickly – shortening the time between “What the fuck?” and “Oh, this fuckery again.”

Second: Can You F*cking Ask Someone?

When encountering fuckery, your first instinct may be to ask someone else, “What the fuck is going on here?”

This is natural! Humans are social creatures; we rely on one another for advice, perspective, and guidance all the time. Relying on others’ perspectives is one way we turn the unfamiliar (“What the fuck?”) into the familiar (“Oh, this fuckery.”)

If someone is present who might know what the fuck is going on, don’t hesitate to ask them.

Do, however, take a deep breath and consider other options for phrasing the question. While “What the fuck is going on?” might be the most emotionally honest statement in the moment, it’s not always the most effective for eliciting answers. Try “What’s going on here?” or “Can you tell me more about this?”

Third: Where to Get More F*cking Information

If it’s fucked up but not urgent, seeking information from an additional source can help you unfuck it.

Here are several common sources of fuckery and a few resources for dealing with them.

Household Repairs

For large household systems (HVAC, plumbing), look for a phone number on the unit for the manufacturer, installer or maintenance team. Household appliances like refrigerators may have a hotline you can call for advice. Some people like to invest in coverage like home warranties, which can help ensure your household stuff gets fixed quickly after a “what the fuck?” moment.

Auto Repairs

Once upon a time, having access to the Chilton manual for your vehicle was the gold standard in addressing vehicular what the fuckery. You can still access many Chilton manuals online today. Also, consider investing in a code reader if you want to find out what the fuck your car’s latest blinky light means without having to take it all the way to the fucking dealership.

Children

What happens if you mix glitter into cake batter? Would the baby look better covered in Sharpie? Can goldfish survive in hot water?

There’s nothing like young children to generate a lifetime of joyful “What the fuck?” moments. Keep a first aid kit and a fire extinguisher handy at all times. Place items you don’t want children to access out of their reach, such as on a high shelf in a hut halfway up Mount Everest. And take lots of pictures. Someday, you’ll miss this fuckery – and you’ll need the photos to remind yourself why the fuck your nostalgia is misplaced.

Politics

I know, right? What the actual fuck.

There’s actually an answer for this one, and I’ve been relying on it since the 2016 election. What the Fuck Just Happened Today? aggregates the biggest political stories daily, draws connections between events, and so on. It also aggregates links to news sources covering those stories, so if you’re convinced that only your favorite news outlet of choice can be trusted, you can find and click the link to its coverage.

The next time you need to find out what the fuck, take a deep breath and keep your head on. You got this fuckery.


Help me fuck around: buy me a coffee or share this post on the social medias.

We No Longer Have to Guess at Trump’s “Real” Mental State

I logged into Twitter this morning to encounter this article from Raw Story, which interviews Dr. Bandy X. Lee, a forensic psychiatrist at Yale School of Medicine and one of the authors of the report that seeks to answer the question “Does Trump have adequate mental capacity to perform the tasks of the Presidency?” (Their answer: He does not.)

I did both my law school internships in criminal law, one on each side of the aisle. During the first, I represented several people who, for various reasons, lacked competency; during the second, I worked with an assistant prosecutor whose job was to push back against competency claims at the state mental hospital.

While I couldn’t have recited the criteria Dr. Lee and her co-authors use in the report, they were immediately familiar to me in practice, based on my internship experiences. And when I read the Raw Story article, something else became immediately familiar to me as well.

trump has dementia

Losing My Religion Filter

Trump’s racism, itself, isn’t news. Trump has a history of subtle racism, including but not limited to his thirty years of accusing the Central Park 5 of rape, despite DNA evidence exonerating them.

But, until the last few years, the keyword there has been subtle. Trump hasn’t expressed that racism in a way that would raise eyebrows in polite company (in fact, raising one’s eyebrow would be seen as the impolite thing to do). He hasn’t, historically, attacked in the way he has now attacked Reps. Omar, Pressley, Tlaib and Ocasio-Cortez.

The racism has always been there. It’s just louder now. Why?

I Submit: The reason Trump’s racism is now laid bare is because that’s what dementia does.

Dr. Lee doesn’t attempt to diagnose Trump with dementia. In fact, she and her co-authors are very clear that they can’t diagnose Trump without seeing Trump in person.

Nevertheless, the question “Does Trump have dementia?” has been discussed in several venues (I find Tom Joseph’s particularly persuasive – here’s just one part of it).

And while I’m not a doctor, I am someone who has (a) worked with adults who lacked mental capacity and (b) had multiple grandparents with dementia. I can’t diagnose Trump or anyone else, but I can talk about what I see.

Here’s what I see.

Dementia Sucks

For my grandparents, as with most dementia patients, dementia was a gradual slide. They didn’t turn incoherent all at once; the word salad built up over time. For a period of several months to several years, the word salad was sufficiently related to current events that one could pretend it was an actual conversation.

This, in hindsight, was also the point at which personalities began to change – or rather, to be laid bare.

Everyone has a certain category in their heads of things they think and feel, but that they don’t feel it’s proper to say. Typically, these things are “improper” because they conflict with the person’s self-image, the image others have of them, or both. They don’t fit with the role the person plays in their family, society, or the greater world.

Saying these things would rock the boat. It would provoke comments like “That’s just not like you!” It would erode trust. So we don’t say them. Even if the things are totally innocuous.

Before dementia makes you forget those things, though, it makes you forget why you decided they were off-limits.

For one of my grandmothers, this meant an abrupt change from Sweet Little Old Lady Who Uncomplainingly Endures Everything Including the Depression to torrents of invective about what a whore Mabel down the street was for using six eggs in her meringue and self-pity about how lonely she was now that childhood friend Beatrice (d. 1965) had stopped talking to her for Mean Girl reasons.

For my grandfather, it meant a change from Stalwart Businessman Community Leader Yes I Have Always Been This Rich Real Men Don’t Cry to telling me stories about his boyhood fishing in the Ozarks and how proud he is of me and my psychology degree.

(N.b. I don’t have a psychology degree. I suspect he always wanted one.)

At both those times, I realized that I no longer had to guess at what either grandparent was “really” thinking. I knew. They were telling me. Because they had forgotten not to.

We’re at the same point with Trump.

Trump has gone from genteel rich racist to bloviating invective racist because that part of his brain that used to tell him that Bloviating Racist was incompatible with his image is now gone.

He hasn’t forgotten the racism, any more than my grandfather had forgotten how it felt to catch his first catfish or my grandmother had forgotten how much it hurt to be cut by Beatrice for no reason. He has forgotten what his personal reason was not to talk about it.

He has forgotten that he ever had a reason not to talk about it.

Weirdly Trustworthy

I hesitate to say Trump is more reliable now than he was 20 years ago. Lacking capacity brings with it an instability with memory and reality, and Trump in particular has succumbed many times in the public eye to a reality dictated by his feelings, rather than facts. (Just ask our intelligence agencies.)

But there is a certain reliability in the emotions he expresses now, which is to say that they’re no longer filtered through his own constructed self-image or others’ image of him. He does still have an ego; in fact, that ego is perhaps even more easily bruised now, because he no longer has the protection afforded by playing the role of Rich Man Above Your Nonsense (a role which, arguably, his tiny hands never fully grasped in the first place). But he doesn’t play a role anymore.

He can’t. He’s forgotten that there was a role.

What we see from Trump now is pure, unadulterated Trump. We’re seeing what Trump has thought and felt on the down-low for decades now.

In the past, Trump was a highkey racist playing a lowkey racist in public. Now, he’s just a highkey racist, because he’s forgotten how to be an actor.

I am not looking forward to finding out what else Trump downplayed back when he still knew how to act.

 

Remember Me Like Sarah

In a recent interview at the 2018 Women Who Rule summit, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders described the legacy she hopes to leave:

I hope that it will be that I showed up every day and I did the very best job that I could to put forward the president’s message, to do the best job that I could to answer questions, to be transparent and honest throughout that process and do everything I could to make America a little better that day than it was the day before.

“Bolding added to highlight a wish that defies fulfillment under Trump,” said media critic Erik Wemple.

I disagree. In this era of alternative facts – an era Sanders herself has done much to make a reality – I see no reason why Sanders, or indeed any of us, cannot be remembered exactly as we wish to be, irrespective of our actual behavior in life.

Here is how I would like to be remembered.

It’s difficult to summarize the accomplishments of someone like Dani Alexis in a single speech. A luminary of her caliber, a beacon of shining hope for humankind, comes along only once a generation, or perhaps even less often. From her nine Olympic medals in figure skating to her perfect score of 100 at the 2022 WGI World Championships – spinning all 30 parts of a highly complex show whose theme, “World Peace,” instantly ended all war and strife in the world – Dani was truly a force to be reckoned with.

Most of you remember Dani best under her pen name, Verity Reynolds, which sounds familiar to you because over a billion households worldwide own copies of her tour de force novels. I still recall the day her sales topped those of J.K. Rowling for the first time. Today, of course, we all say, “J.K. who?” It’s been said that Dani’s work is more popular than the Bible.

Dani herself, of course, would never say any such thing. A paragon of humble virtue, Dani was known for using her vast wealth to end homelessness, wipe out student loan debt, and provide vaccinations to millions of children. And she was equally generous to her critics: each received a life-size participation trophy wrought in their own likeness from the finest Limburger cheese.

When asked to name her proudest accomplishment, Dani recalled with fondness the year 2031, in which she won the Nobel Prize in every category for her side gig: turning the moons of Mars into blockchain miners capable of beaming solar enery directly to Earth, thus solving the energy crisis in a series of equations organized as an epic poem. That was also, she notes, the year she learned to make macaroni and cheese from scratch.

Dani plans to spend her remaining days at home, surrounded by her family, her cats, and her best friends Barack Obama, Emily Dickinson, and Captain America.