Imagine…

I would like it if we had 2-4 viable political parties in our country.

I would like it if they all agreed on the basic decencies.  That all humans are worthy of dignity, inclusion, health and consideration.

And once we all recognize that, we could have 2-4 viewpoints on how to run this country, how to manage our relationships with other countries, how plan for the future.

Instead, we are all fighting about the stuff I wish everyone could just accept as basic human decency.  And the net result is that the stuff about how to run this country, how to fund this country, how to make sure this country has a viable economy in the future, etc is being neglected.

No one talks much about how to fix the deficit.

Not much discussion on how to invest in and maintain our infrastructure.

Climate change is discussed in passing.

I want the politicians to work on problems that are slowly disintegrating the foundations of our lives but they won’t do that because they are slow invisible problems.  Instead we fight over what seems to me to be basic human decency.

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Third Party Voting is Not Helping

No matter how you vote, you will be voting for Trump or Clinton.  A third party vote is still a vote for Trump or Clinton.

This is REAL Life.  And how real life works is that while we might want things, we cannot always have them.

Certainly you can vote for anyone you want.  However, voting for a third party will necessarily mean  that you didn’t vote directly for either Trump or Clinton.  This means that if you would ordinarily have voted Democrat or Republican you are hurting that party and providing a one vote advantage to the other.  Its simple math.

Your vote for a third party may seem like a marvelous way to protest.  But it has a real world secondary consequence.   No matter how you vote, you will be voting for Trump or Clinton. So if one of the candidates is standing on ground you cannot tolerate while the other one isn’t that can be bad news for you.

The third party vote will certainly be a statement to the particular party you are angry at.  But it is ALSO a vote for their opponent.  That’s just how the math and first past the post elections work.

The result is that most people vote strategically.  Because we don’t live in a magical kingdom where we all get what we want.  And in my life, I spend more of my votes voting against people than for them.  It’s the nature of our system.

You should do what you want.  But don’t do it imagining you will be changing much of anything.  3rd party voters have killed a candidate’s chances before and we still have this really broken system.

Politicians are heavily invested in this system.  Its rigged and so broken that it backs itself into the kinds of ridiculous choices we now face.  But politicians are the ones who control changing it.  We don’t.  They know we don’t.

We can certainly make them uncomfortable by not voting for them.  But the system of politicians as a whole, liberal and conservative is united in keeping the status quo.   So even if you managed to piss off your party by voting them out with a third party vote, you won’t change much.  Because the system itself is the thing they need to protect and it’s the thing that created current unpleasant choices that you hate so much.

They won’t change it.  It’s the teat they feed off of.  The most they will do is change the rhetoric or the window dressing.  But that’s not the real problem.  The real problem is that the system is not controlled by the voters but by the politicians.

And that problem does not have any solution that is better than the status quo.  Because without a violent overthrow I don’t see how you could so systematically change the way our government works.  And violence is not a better solution than just accepting what is.  Even if it were possible, which it is not.  However idealistic the 2nd amendment may be, the US long since passed the possibility of having its citizens overthrow its government.

So we are left with what is.  And we have to make the best choices inside this framework.

 

Dear News Reporters: Stop interviewing people on the Street.

Please.  Stop.

We get it.  People who walk on the streets are one or more of the following:

  1. Stupider than a ball of dryer lint.
  2. Have souls that resemble a slimy dishcloth left under three days of dirty dishes.
  3. Have a worldview that is eclipsed by earthworms.

Except No.   That is about the same as saying Reality Shows are REAL.  They aren’t.  We know that.

And neither are these on-the-street interviews representative of anything but a reporter finding the right person (ie stupid, bigoted or representing the viewpoint of reporter’s bias), properly editing that interview and putting  it on TV.

Had they found someone with a thoughtful well considered viewpoint, it would NOT be aired.  Because that is not the purpose of the on-the-street interview.

The purpose is to make the viewer feel better about themselves by comparison.

These interviews are NOT News.  They are providing self indulgent porn for our egos.  They provide no additional information about the events of the days, which is what News is supposed to be.  It’s not supposed to be entertainment or ego porn.  Its supposed to be providing information about current events.

But dissemination of facts about current events now represents about 20% of the News as it is shown to us today.  And the on-the-street interviews, which make such good comedy on Late Night Talk Shows, are just one of the pointless pieces of noise that fill up the other 80% of the News Show.

Doing the Things that Work

The human brain is a lot like Alice’s Wonderland.  There are lots of things that are weird and wonderful about how it works.

Many experiments show how easily our brain can be tricked.  This week on podcast Invisibilia, they featured a story about how putting on a doctor’s coat makes people perform significantly better on attention tests.  They ran the test in a variety of manners to see if it was fabric or the weight of it on your shoulders by changing up what they told people it was or the color and they found – it was the IDEA of wearing a Doctor’s coat that made people feel more focused and attentive to detail.  The same coat described as a painters coat ruined the effect.

That is kind of creepy.  That we don’t decide to be attentive, but our brains are suddenly and without direction, acting in that way because of the ideas that are associated with a coat. Our brains are changed by things outside of our intentional thought.  More than that – they are more changed by things outside of our thoughts than inside of our thoughts.  Because the control group in the above experiment were intentionally trying to do well on the test and failing.

How many things are affecting our brains in ways we don’t know.  How can we know about what is affecting our brain?  It’s apparently invisible.  And since there are lots of experiments that show that we do things and then make up the reason for it later, it’s possible we really don’t know.

This is also very liberating.  It’s like being handed the key to maze. Just find ways to trick yourself into being a certain way.  Wear the right clothes or create the right environment or whatever.  The key is to find the things that will make your brain act in a way that benefits you.  No matter the reason.

I live in a housing program that was designed to keep mentally ill people from being homeless.  I got this housing because I was homeless 3.5 yrs ago due to nonfunctional depression. This housing is a safety net for me.  Because for 3 years I’ve been terrified that I will fall backwards back into the hole of nonfunctional depression and I will lose my job.  But I knew that even if that happened, they wouldn’t evict me, they would just adjust my small subsidy to something that would keep me inside instead of outside.

I recently got a large raise at work and this put me over the income threshold of the housing and so I must move.  My initial reaction was a bit of panic.  But then a friend on tumblr talked me down and reminded me of doing things in small steps.  So I forced myself to open a spreadsheet and I put down all the steps and calculated how much it would cost and figured out a plan.  And the anxiety, which was on the edge of panic attack subsided.   I think it wasn’t the thoughts that changed.  It was action.  The idea of doing something in an organized and controlled manner made my brain change track into a new way of being. I wasn’t helpless and afraid now.

I’m still fully aware of all things that made my brain start toward panic on reading that notice.  But I’m no longer afraid.  I’m just on a plan toward a new home.  Hopefully one I will love.

I’m going to try to trick my brain more.  I know that my own thoughts don’t change my mental landscape that much.  But it seems that certain actions and apparently environment and even clothes will.   So.  New Plan.  Whatever Works.

 

Get some Perspective!

Seriously.  We are a bunch of idiots raging about a silly forgettable speech using utterly common phrases that she lifted from another speech that were probably lifted from other works.  WHO THE FUCK CARES?

Now the meme going around is the obviously UNINTENTIONAL Nazi salute by Laura Ingraham. Stop focusing on the unimportant things and attack at the devastating policies, the clear hate mongering, the  obvious character failure of Trump.

During the RNC they brought the officers who beat Freddie Gray to death in a police van onto the stage and cheered them.  THINK ABOUT THAT!!!   The GOP needs to be called on that.  It needs to be the thing we are outraged about.  That is so much more important than a couple of innocous lines in a speech.

They had three people whose children were killed by immigrants on stage to discuss the problem of immigration.  As though immigration policy kills children.   That obvious manipulation of reality needs to be called out and not allowed to lay there.

What matters is being ignored.  Really scary bad things are going unnoticed so you can rage about really UNIMPORTANT stuff.

If this man gets elected, it’s going to be a disaster, and not because Melania googled “first lady speeches” when she wrote hers.

Your damn memes about unimportant stuff are only directed to people who agree with you.

If you want to help, point out the stuff that matters so that people on the fence will vote for Clinton.

We need to work on the important stuff, not the stuff that feels easy.

The Reality vs the Reality Show.

This is the Women for Trump Event at the RNC.  The few chairs filled are journalists and interns.Cnp7lh_WcAAtR86[1]

Trump is losing his grip on the Reality Show he’s running for his Presidential campaign.  In a Reality Show, outrageous behavior gets views.  And so the circus that is Trump is getting lots of attention.

But it’s important to remember, that there is a large and important difference between Reality Shows and actual reality.  And the behavior that garners so much attention is indicative of some very disturbing realities.

Donald Trump has continually shown his disdain for women.

As Megyn Kelly pointed out to him during the debate, “You have called women you don’t like ‘fat pigs’, ‘dogs’, ‘slobs’, and ‘disgusting animals.”

Those are things that are publically recorded.  Think about that.  Trump, as much as we see of him, is living 90% of  his life outside the public record.

I don’t suppose that his off record behavior is actually better than what we see in public.

And while his open contempt for women is disturbing, his attitude toward sexual assault is disgusting.

Actual Tweet by Donald Trump:

26,000 unreported sexual assults [sic] in the military-only 238 convictions. What did these geniuses expect when they put men & women together?

The belief that sexual assault is inevitable is one that comes from a belief that women are merely objects for penetration by a man’s penis.

The belief that sexual assault is inevitable comes from the personal experience of not governing your own desires and thinking that is normal and acceptable behavior.

Those beliefs are leftovers from the past.  A past we should have left behind.

Then we must consider his disgust at the IDEA of a woman’s breast being used to feed a baby.

During a court proceeding, one the lawyers requested a break in the session because it was time for her to pump milk.  Many men might find that mildly uncomfortable.  But Trump found it so uncomfortable that he stood up and said “You’re disgusting” to the lawyer before leaving the room.  His lawyer doesn’t deny it.

He made a scene about it, in a circumstance where it was incumbent to his best interest to be polite and act appropriately because he was so disgusted that a woman would use her breast to feed her infant.

That illustrates his belief that women are merely sexual beings and his inability to capture any other part of a woman’s existence in his brain.

It also illustrates his inability to control his behavior in situations where good social behavior in not only expected but is in his best interest.  Whether or not he even recognizes that his behavior is inappropriate is in question as well.

I think it’s possible that Trump is afraid of women.  And that is why he acts this way.

He wrote the following in “The Art of the Comeback”

“Women have one of the great acts of all time. The smart ones act very feminine and needy, but inside they are real killers. The person who came up with the expression ‘the weaker sex’ was either very naive or had to be kidding. I have seen women manipulate men with just a twitch of their eye — or perhaps another body part.”

He clearly doesn’t see women as people.  He sees them as an antagonist he must overcome.  He’s obsessed with them, certainly, but he doesn’t think of them as complex personalities that he can get to know and be friends with.

His own feelings of inadequacy have mixed into his feelings of fear and disdain for women and we see him lose control repeatedly when women criticize him.

Look at how he insults the women who have either mocked him or reported negatively on him.

He sent a copy of Gail Collin’s article to her with her face circled and the words “The Face of a Dog” written on it.  She had called him a “thousandaire”.

He said Rosie O’Donnell was an animal, a slob, talks like a truck driver, is rude, obnoxious and dumb.  Because O’Donnell has used her comedy to skewer him repeatedly and well.

He called Megyn Kelly a bimbo because she asked him questions that made him look bad.

He called Ariana Huffington unattractive, both inside and out and said her ex husband made a good decision leaving her for a man. Because – well… the Huffington Post.

He said Bette Middler had an ugly face and body because she insulted his hair.

The Reality Show is good at hurling insults.  100s of them come rolling out of his Twitter account.  Literally 100s.  And it makes good theater and is certainly helping his campaign. And to be fair, these example of insults are only a small fraction of the factory of insults that run out of his brain nearly constantly.

But there is something rather too far in certain insults he throws at women who criticize him, isn’t there?  He makes too many of the insults about appearance because he can’t conceive of women as anything more than an object of sexual use.

He’s obviously overly sensitive to any form of criticism.  Which when you consider the venture he’s taken on, is a very bad quality.  If there is a more pernicious and impertent attack on privacy and self than running for and being President of the United States, I’m not aware of it.  It requires the sort of self control and self definition that can withstand constant and petty attacks from all sides and keep at least the appearance of polite indifference.

Trump has proven over and over that he doesn’t have that self control.  The insults that run out of his Reality Show are not just to keep him from being voted off the island.  They are the gut reaction of a man with some serious problems with women and his own self identity.

Do we want that person in control of our ENTIRE country?

You are missing the Point

I keep seeing posts about “just do what they say” – “they don’t hurt you if you do what they say:… :They are people too.”

YOU ARE MISSING THE POINT.

The point is that in the US an overwhelming number of people are dying because the police kill them.

An overwhelming majority of the people who are being killed are black people.

A staggering amount of police brutality happens to black people.

An overwhelming number of the people who are arrested are people of color.

They are arrested in much higher numbers than white people caught in the same circumstances.

They are approached and assumed to be in criminal circumstances based on skin color.

The prison sentences given to black people are longer than sentences given to white people convicted of the same crime.

These are NOT debatable issues.  These are FACTS.

THE UNITED STATES HAS A GOVERNMENT THAT OPENLY DISCRIMINATES AGAINST BLACK PEOPLE.  

The justice system, from police to courts to prisons are all visibly and blatantly discriminating against and KILLING black people.

Stop picking at the edges of the argument, measuring the corners and angles of a particular situation.  It’s not really about any one situation.  It’s about the ENTIRE system.  It’s a very big and very CLEAR picture. Evidence abounds.

The evidence isn’t in the media stories.  Those are the emotional windmills that we tilt at every so often. The evidence has been collected by many studies.  Research has been done. LOTS of it.  And the research reflects a disgusting and chronic problem.  It needs to be fixed.

Get your nose out of  your own experience. If you cannot empathize with someone else’s experience, at least LOOK AT THE EVIDENCE.    Its there.  Clear and factual.  This is happening.  Its real.

Don’t be naive about the future.

I wrote the following tweet last summer.

DONALD TRUMP CARTOON SHOW

I certainly believed that.  It seemed utterly impossible that enough people could take him seriously.  There was a history of him running and dropping out when support was weak.

A lot of people dismiss the idea that he will win the election.  I think it is VERY dangerous to dismiss that idea.

He will win if people do not step up to the plate and vote AGAINST him.

Refusing to vote because you don’t like your options is both naive and irresponsible.  Because one of the options is very much better than the other, whether or not you agree with her policies or think she will make an ideal president.

She will NOT be the disaster area that Trump will be.  She will probably have an entirely forgettable term, with her only notable accomplishment being the first female President.

I imagine Bill will have more press being the First Gentleman.  He will be the show we all watch.  Because you know he’s going to make a clown car wreck of it.  Heck, vote for her just for that show.

But vote.  Because if you don’t vote and Trump wins, it will be your fault.

 

When are we going to change?

I was in the midst of writing a thoughtful piece about how in the US and indeed in all free nations, we have an opportunity to effect change through voting.  I pointed out how we are not oppressed like the people in many countries like North Korea and that means we need to vote and use our voting wisely.

And then I read this on twitter:

According to , this is the sixteenth fatal shooting by American police this month. Or to put it another way, ‘in the last week’.

The last 16 fatal shootings by UK police cover more than 9 years. I know America has nearly 5x our population. But ~470x the deaths by cop?

And I realized – we are not going to change.  Because we have been having this problem in slapped in our face for several years.  We had riots in Ferguson and nothing changed.  We have so much evidence that this is a problem and nothing has changed.  We have demonstrations, and prayer vigils and send messages to our representatives.  And nothing changed.

Voting is absolutely still necessary.  But the people we get to vote for also needs to change.  And that is a harder proposition all together.

We need candidates who are not influenced by big lobbies but by their constituents.  We need to get enough of them in there so that they make wise evidence based decisions about making radical changes in turning this country into an actual place of peace and justice  instead of just in rhetoric.

That doesn’t mean just changing how we police.  The police are the obvious symptom of an underlying disease that is plaguing this country.  Change means addressing the issues that lead to poverty and lack of decent education and therefore lack decent opportunities.  That means fixing the problem of our justice system that is so HEAVILY biased against people of color, is bloated with minor offenders who learn in a harsh environment that their only future is crime and poverty.

But where are those candidates who will address these problems with radical changes?  How do we get them to congress in enough numbers to make a difference.  It seems overwhelming.  It seems impossible.

And so probably nothing is going to change.

An Ode to My Pest

Lily,

Feline of Persistence,

Apprenticed under the Late Great Chester the Pester,

Born of the wild and terrible animals,

Found now in the warmth of a crooked arm,

Assured of her right to all things

of consequence and not.

In particular, not.

She, of the great trivial battles,

who has won on many a day,

the surrender of her human

and laid in triumph on the spoils of the war,

The Great and Clicky keyboard.

As ever it was supposed to be.

And ever it shall be.

Lily.

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