Finding the right places for outrage.

Trump hosted the Teacher of Year Award winners on last Wednesday. Every President since Truman has done so.  It is generally treated as An Event.  Speeches, a meal, etc.  family members are included and the President spends time with them.

This year Trump treated it as an after thought.  A sign of the absolute chaos that seems to reign in the white house.  No event was planned.  The state winners, without family, were ushered into the Oval Office, Trump remained seated throughout.  A casual meet and greet.  The teachers sang Happy Birthday to Melania.

On the surface it just feels sort of not a big deal.  We already know they run a shitty White House.  That they lack the organizational skills to handle with dignity normal Presidential duties.

The part that is more troublesome is this:  “several participants who agreed to speak only on the condition of anonymity because they said they fear Trump addressing them on Twitter or press secretary Sean Spicer bringing them up at a daily briefing.”

That is problematic.  That is a symptom of a deeper sickness with the country.  But it also feels sort of small because this man is suspected of Treasonand our Congress is shuffling around and looking at their feet with each new piece of evidence.

And no one discusses the fact that the Trump organization may have actually paid for the Russian hackers.   Everyone is busy being upset that the white house is a disorganized mess and he plays golf every weekend.

Shut up about the golf!  I don’t care.

What do I get upset about? How much weight should I put on various things that swing the outrage barometer on the internet.   I refuse to jump into rage for every stupidity that Trump etal do.  He is a fountain of it and raging over minor stupidities makes the huge ones seem less large.  I think that is at least part of why there isn’t more outrage at the potential Treason.

But I also cannot deny that a situation where citizens seek anonymity when exercising free speech because they fear retribution by the leader of the government – that is bad.  That is not a pimple, the way a disorganized event is.  That feels more like an infection in our government.  People in this country should not be afraid to speak out against the government.  Ever.

Am I making it bigger than it is?  It’s not like he’s sending the FBI to arrest people who speak against him.  He’s lighting torches in social media mobs.  The thing is – that is effectively stopping some people from speaking out.

He is undermining trust in our government and is using social media to intimidate people.  Those things are bad. But it feels nebulous.  Which perhaps makes it feel less important to me.  Especially when I compare it to:

He may have colluded with a foreign government to get elected!!!  This is just mind boggling and it never sits at the top of the news cycle for more than a moment.  We need a march about that!

I’m glad we march about science and climate change and women’s rights – but our President probably committed Treason!  Let’s get organized about that.  Let’s blast the social media with that outrage!

But no.  Golf.  Golf, we get endless stupid memes about.

Thunderstorms and Alerts Systems

I got woken up by a thunderstorm at 7am.  A proper one with the cracks right overhead and lots of rain and hail.

I was wondering if I should get up and check my phone for the alerts, but its such a lovely feeling to be cuddled under the covers and have the storm raging outside. So.  Nope.

Can we talk about the weather alerts on the phones?

Is there a more clear pattern of crying wolf than the severe weather alerts on phones?  They alert you for a severe thunderstorm as though it wasn’t obvious.  They alert you for flash floods.  Again – how is that alert going to save my life?  I will see the flood.  My choices happen when facing it  and are not changed by having had an alert that flash flooding is possible.

Then to make the whole thing stupider they send you multiple alerts for the same thing.

So that I no longer feel any real threat if the alert goes off.  No one does.  When an actual tornado comes through no one will even look up at the alerts.

And the Tornado is the thing that I do need to act ahead of time for.  Utterly ridiculous system.

Remembering Fondly

The other night I was watching the new Magnificent Seven and being singularly unimpressed with it.  The plot was both soggy and formulaic.  Although I don’t think formula is always a bad thing, you need to have a great script to make it work.

Anyway, I wrote a note on Tumlbr in the middle of watching it that I wasn’t impressed and some people mentioned that they didn’t think the original was all that great.

Blasphemy! I thought.  Of course lots of movies that you see as a kid do not hold up as an adult.  But the last time I watched it was 10 years ago and I know it had not lost it’s sheen of enjoyment

So I pulled up some key scenes on Youtube and I was reminded I still liked it.  Wooden acting and formulaic, incredibly generic star cast, and I liked it. Why?

Sometimes we have already made a decision about a thing and so all subsequent thoughts are influenced by that decision.  It’s called confirmation bias.  I like Magnificent Seven. So now I see things I like.  I don’t put much value on its flaws.  I place value on the things I liked.

Confirmation bias can be a dangerous thing, blinding us to reality.  Think Trump fans.

But it can also be a good thing.  It’s the thing that keeps people happy in marriage. We place higher value on the things we like than the things that annoy us in the people we love.  This is particularly true in hindsight.

Babies are the same way.  The first few months of a baby’s life are hell for the parents.  Particularly first time parents.  During those months parents will tell it like it is.  It’s hard and exhausting but worth it.  Years later all the hard and terrible is shuffled aside and memories are focused on the wonder and love and they remember those times as happier than they were.

The human brain is a mess.  But it’s mess often works to our advantage.