When you cannot see that you own a slave

I couldn’t sleep at all last night.

All I keep thinking about is Lola.  A slave in 20th century America.  One of millions of slaves worldwide.  She merely stands out starkly in our landscape. She’s normal in the Philippines.

My brain just kept warming over the utter loneliness and unfairness of her life.

It kept feeling a sort of nausea at how cruelty can be normalized.

About how something so humanly wrong as slavery can be so deeply denied by the slave owner on an existential level that she is offended when the word slave is thrown at her.

An educated woman.  A doctor.  Owned a slave in 20th century America. But she couldn’t think of it like that.  That’s wasn’t what Lola was in her mind.  Lola was just there.  Always had been there.  No reason to question it even when she learned more about what it meant.  It’s easy to learn things but to assume those things are other.  They are ideas that belong to other issues, they don’t belong to the minutia of your life.

I imagine she couldn’t face it because if Lola was a slave then what was she?

There are 2 options when faced with the rightful shame of your life. And the easier one is to double down into deeper denial and acceptance of the situation as normal.  To loudly fight anyone who points at your disgrace.

The harder one is to deeply expose it to yourself and the world.  To face the condemnation, to face the consequences and to act to correct it in whatever manner is possible.  The harder one does not lead to blue skies.  It’s murky and painful and probably never complete.  Shames this big are not fixable, merely malleable.  But the efforts do preserve you in the long wakeful nights.

The easier one is the path to deeper and deeper levels of personal hell in the long term.  But the short term is just a continuation of habit.  A denial of the reality that surrounds you.  The small moments of not looking too hard at it. The nights are probably hard.  And they probably get harder as time goes on.  Nights are the feeding grounds for shame and self disgust.

There are a lot of people in world managing their life on what seems like the easier path.  But in the long term the pendulum swings.  And then long terrible nights probably start to stretch into the days.

That seems like a small almost just end to a slave owner.  It annoys me that a religion would offer any palliative from that on a deathbed in the form of forgiveness.  Let the crawling guilt strangle us when we die if we have done something to deserve it.  It did little enough to us in life.

But my need for cosmic karma is just another human frailty.  A need for reciprocity.  A need for punishment and justice, when those things cannot fix the crime.  They are merely ephemera against the unbearable past and uninterested universe.

The Weird Sanctifying of Death and Firing.

When my father died, my mother turned him and their relationship into something wonderful I didn’t recognize.  That was my first experience with how we alter our belief and even our memories to fit a narrative that feels comfortable.

James Comey’s actions have a DIRECT relationship to why we have President Trump and not President Clinton.  But many Liberals seems to have forgotten this. Just like my mother forgot that her marriage was on the rocks when my father died.

Trump obviously did not fire him for that reason.  He probably fired him because Comey was investigating him and said things like “It makes me mildly nauseous to think that we might have had some impact on the election,”

Apparently Trump harped on that comment quite a bit before blundering into this predictably stupid decision.  But he thought he was cleverly pulling it off by listing Comey’s most obvious problem.

Of course he’s an idiot so he blew the slimmest chance he had of pulling that off. Obama didn’t fire Comey because he KNEW the shit show that would happen.  Smallhands Trump didn’t see it coming.

Here’s the thing.  Liberals have suddenly become Comey advocates.  Because Trump fired him.  NO.

Let’s keep focused.  Comey acted inappropriately in his handling of the Clinton email investigation.  He should NOT have announced it or managed it that way.  It wasn’t his place.  It was probably the Attorney General’s place if any.

Comey is not a clean angel being thrown out without a stain on his character.

The wrong that happened is Trump fired the person leading an investigation into him.  It deeply impacts the investigation’s ability to keep a clean search for evidence.  It influences the investigation.  It’s an abuse of power. It’s an indicator of corrupt government.

Trump had a legal way to fire him.  But he had NO moral or ethical way to fire him.  And then capped it by managing the act itself without any honor or dignity.

178 Former US Attorneys sent a letter to the DOJ requesting an independent investigator because they have issues with context, not the legality of the act.  Not because Comey is a saint we should all stand behind.

The key is not that Comey is a wounded puppy.  He is ultimately the cause of his own demise.  He helped put an unqualified dirty racist man in the oval office.  Not really upset about Comey.  Let Comey lick his wounds and move on.

But do NOT let Trump get away with trying to kill the investigation.  He cannot be allowed to subvert the living fabric of our  government. 

The Dangers of Pintrest.

flower pot not going to work

Isn’t that pretty?

It’s a lie.

A.  That is a pansy in that summer mix.  It’s going to die when the temperatures hit 80+.

B.  That is a steel container.  It’s going to bake the flowers.

C.  That crowd has different watering requirements.  So.

Yeah.  It’s pretty when it’s planted.  And it’s going to look terrible inside a month.

The nurseries are filled with this kind of mess.  Buying a mixed pot at a nursery is an exercise in futility except in very careful cases.

They generally put in soil that will need constant support with fertilizing in order to maintain an overcrowded planter.   That crowd ate all the nutrients in a couple of weeks probably.

They often mix things that look pretty to sell but really can’t maintain life in similar conditions.

They always overcrowd them because they need them to look pretty enough to buy and no one wants to buy a planter that you can still see the soil in.

They often put in a plant that will dominate the others to the point that it will overpower them and the others will meekly retire to a thread of their original glory.

Mixed pots look good when they are bought, sometimes look good for a month.  But they rarely look good at the end of the summer unless you know a good deal, and plant carefully and thoughtfully.

DON’T FALL FOR IT.

It’s pretty.  I know.  But listen to my wisdom.  Do NOT fall for it.  Be strong.

The Healthcare Bill – they are trying again.

Please call and ask your congressman to vote NO.

In this bill pre-existing conditions can get a premium 5X higher.

List of pre-existing conditions IS NOT SPECIFIED ANYWHERE IN THE BILL THAT I COULD FIND.  So this is up to insurers.  But a good definition is:

a condition, illness, or injury that can be identified as one that does not necessarily affect your overall good health but could affect the risk balance of all insureds

Read it again.  You could have a condition that doesn’t affect YOUR health but ruins the pool.  It could qualify.  The thing is that insurers get to choose.

It could include things like seeing a therapist. That was considered a pre-existing condition before Obamacare.  As were most mental health issues.

You will also note that there is probably a weight chart.  Obesity is a condition that plausibly considered pre-existing.

You may think this doesn’t apply to you – but it definitely applies to someone you love.  And let me be clear:

This bill penalizes you for losing coverage for more than a few months, by increasing premium by 30%.  If you are working and poor, you can’t afford insurance so you don’t have it.  You get it when you have an health disaster –  A pre-existing condition.  Now imagine:

  1. If you are older (50 -64) – they will be charging you up to 3X more than younger people.
  2. They will then charge you 5X that rate for the pre-existing condition.
  3. PLUS the 30% premium penalty for the break in coverage.

This is what will happen to people who used to be covered for an affordable amount under Obamacare.

They can’t deny you insurance, but they have effectively denied it to the working poor because the insurance will just as unaffordable as the medical care.

I won’t get into all the ways they cushioned it up for the people with money.  But suffice to say – they make sure life is easier for people with money.

But the way they structured this, I think they have creeped the insurance cost barriers into middle class families as well.

This entire thing is going to fuck me.  I have pre-existing conditions.

Please – call.  Again.  Please.

Being Proud of Someone

Is this even possible?

Is it arrogance in it’s grandest form to suggest that we are proud of someone else’s achievement?

What we are really saying is that we are proud to be the parent, brother, friend of someone who did this great thing.

Which is still a wonderful compliment when considered.

And is frankly more real.

Being proud of someone suggests a sort of superior position in a relationship.  Being proud to be their friend, suggests an equal or superior position for them.

Having someone say they are proud of me almost diminishes the achievement to me. I REALLY hate the term.

You can be proud of yourself.  Being proud of someone else is arrogance.

Next time, may I suggest you say that you are proud to be (friend, brother, parent, coworker) to that person?

That distinction makes a difference.

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.

The GOP Need a New Self Definition

The GOP has spent the last 8 years defining itself by being against Obama.  That was what they stood for.  They had nothing substantial to say – just NO to anything Obama said.

In the long years of them trying desperately to repeal Obamacare, they NEVER came up with an alternative.  Their entire position was NO.  Not  “This is a better way. ” Just “No, not that.”

They now own the legislature and the Presidency and yet they are STILL defining themselves through Obama.

ryan tweet

It’s pathetic in the extreme.  Today’s reference was a bill that reversed the rule that protected hibernating animals from being killed by hunters.   Apparently they are proud of that, although I can’t imagine they could eke out even 10% of the population that would find that a laudable act.

If you review his twitter, Ryan often references the bills that way.  Reversing Obama.  Because that is all they have been successful at.  They have spent the last 3 months reversing rules put in place by various agencies under Obama.

The GOP still have no plan, no self definition, no formula – except No to Obama.

It is fairly common in a change of ruling party to reverse rules by agencies.  But what is odd is that it’s all defined that way.   They aren’t defining the reversals as a productive action in a defined plan and strategy for accomplishing goals.  They are defined as Reversing Obama.

There is no sign of defined structural plan for positive change.  They are too busy burning Obama in effigy through these often stupid and destructive reversals.

It really never occurs to them that they give more weight and power to the idea of Obama than Democrats ever could.

They are destined to fail as leaders until they stand up for something substantial instead of  defining themselves through Obama.  They should have refused to mention him, come up with definite clear constructive goals and related every reversal to those goals.   No, they are just weak.  Fighting a man who isn’t even there anymore.

GOP, Demonstrating a Lack of Fiscal Responsibility, Again.

This morning the new health care bill made it out of Ways and Means.  WITHOUT the committee ever having read the report on it’s impact.

Because the report isn’t done yet.  The Congressional Budget Office hasn’t had time to research and prepare it.

But that means nothing to them.  Vengeance for 8 years of Obama, regardless of it’s impact on the nation is the only thing they really care about.

Sean Spicer has already begun to say that the CBO report isn’t going to be accurate.  CBO is a non partisan, highly respected office.

The Republican Whip said that he didn’t want to “unelected bureaucrats in Washington” slow down the Republican promise to repeal and replace Obamacare.

The report is due on Monday.  So essentially they would need to wait one week to be responsible.  But nope.  Not gonna do that.

Likely because they know it’s going to a negative report.

So let me back up here.  This is the WAYS AND MEANS committee.  The entire point of this committee is to make sure a bill can be paid for with existing taxes and what kind of impact it will have on the deficit.  But they don’t know.  Because they don’t have the fucking report.

They obviously know this is going to a bad report.  I’m not sure how it could be otherwise, even if they had written with good intention, they wrote a complex bill in a few weeks. They scrabbled together our future without even proper consideration or research.  Because they want to win.