Trying new systems.

I’m always trying to make my life work better.   Which is often an internal struggle against the stillness that my depression prefers.

So now I’m trying To Do apps on my phone.  The one I’m currently using is called Todoist.

I like to do lists.  I find writing out a list of things I have to do makes them less daunting.

When things I must do are just swimming in and out of my mind, they tend to get into log jams and I become stressed about how MUCH THERE IS TO DO!  😣

Usually when I sit down and make the list, it’s not as much as I felt it was.  And it all suddenly becomes manageable.  And I don’t have that feeling of did I forget to do something?

I like checklists for that reason to.  I am very good at forgetting to do a thing even though it’s a thing I do all the time.  At work, I need to have checklists or I will often forget a step.

But back to my new app.  I’ve decided I want the app to have an alarm.  Because I don’t pay enough attention to my phone to notice when I have notifications.  I can literally go for days without looking at it.  People get cranky with me.  But if there was a noise to tell me to get me off my butt and do the thing it might help.

In this case I just put in my daily chore around the house.  I don’t usually just CLEAN the house.  I do one bigger chore a day.  It never looks pristine, but it’s usually quite pleasant.

Or it used to be before Rebel Tim showed up.  He’s a walking chaos machine.  I can put away his toys, but by that evening all 10 balls he owns are out of the basket and strewn about the apartment like he held some kind of ball related rave while I was at work.   Plus, he is slowly destroying the box spring.  It has a thin layer of stuffing lining it.  He pulls out the stuffing.  So I have stuffing all over the damn apartment.  I no longer give him stuffed toys for that reason.

Again, I wandered off topic.  Sorry.  Anyway, if the app had an alarm at say 9:30 am, I think it would work better for me.   I like almost everything else about ToDoist.  I’m considering seriously committing and buying the premium.  If you want an app to last you have to support the people who make it.   I can always set up alarms separately in my phone, I guess. The system is starting to feel complicated at that point.   Honestly, the phone app is more cumbersome than just a paper and pen.  But then you have to figure out where to put the paper to remind you…

grrrr.

The US & State Governments are Failing Us

HOW did the most developed country roll backwards and is now headed toward a undeveloped country?

I keep seeing stories and realizing that no one seems to be noticing that the US is rolling backwards.

Can I define this for you?

Our infrastructure – roads, airports, communications lines – now 11th in the world and falling.

Our education system – we’re NOT in the top 10.  We are thirteenth and falling.  Russia beats us.  Michigan is now arguing that it has no responsibility to teach children to be literate.  So I think we can safely say that we are falling in those ranks too.

Our water – we are NOT in the top 10 of clean water.  We have become increasingly aware that we can’t trust the water coming out of our taps.  Because the EPA has suggestions for water testing – but no regulations and no enforcement.  So – your municipality is at the mercy of both greed, indifference and incompetence.  So you have NO idea if the water you drink is clean.

Let me be clear – these are the FUNDAMENTAL REASONS FOR GOVERNMENT.

And our government sucks at it.  And we are letting them suck at it.

Trump intends to drop the secretary of education, which wasn’t a particularly powerful office but at least kept the focus up.

Trump intends to further defang the EPA which is already not doing what I consider a fundamental requirement – enforcing clean water regulation.

Trump does talk about spending money on infrastructure.  Whether he can convince the GOP that this is a worthy plan…  And his plans often ring of making the trains run on time… But it nevertheless is a position that he holds.

This country will go no where but down without these things.  These items are foundation of the country.  But we treat them like political footballs.  It’s going to be our downfall.

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.

2011-06-08_12-41-29_262

Neutrality is not enlightenment. It is a position only accessible to those for whom the stakes are very low, who want to feel superior to those who have no choice but to care.
~araxoolie

This is so very true.  There is a tendency among people who have very little to lose to say “Shush, You are being rude.  Just Shush. Be accepting and polite.”. But there are times when being polite is UTTERLY POINTLESS.

When people’s lives have been stripped mined they don’t have any need to be polite.  It will not save them.  Their best solution is to be LOUD AND ANGRY.  To be effectively calling out what is wrong.

Do not Shush the disenfranchised because it feels awkward and rude to you.  Ask yourself, why are they screaming?  Why are they making a fuss and being so rude and angry?  Why aren’t you angry?

Do you see the problem, but are just giving precedence over your current comfort and the need to fit into the social dynamic that is Polite Society?  Because that is a certainly a strategy that works well in at dinner party for the boss, but it’s not one that will change the course of history.  Think about it hard – Are you unconsciously prioritizing the need to smooth out the immediate discomfort of shoutiness over the absolute problem that caused it?

Or is their problem not a problem for you and so you just don’t want to know that anyone else is suffering?  Well, guess what.  They have no need to make you more comfortable in your easy life.  Their life isn’t going so well.  Too bad if you have to see it, hear it and face it.

Rationalization

The human is always able to find a way to rationalize its actions.  Most often without any awareness that we are doing it.

We can usually find  a way to make ourselves comfortable with our choices and actions.  We don’t like unpleasant feelings about ourselves, so we find good reasons that we are doing something necessary or good when we say or do things that contradict our beliefs.

We enjoy pointing out when other people are being hypocritical in some way or another, but the reality is that every person on the planet is doing something, or has done something in the last day or less that is contradictory to something they have previously stated or believed.  We ALL do it.

  • We criticize Betty for being judgemental, all the while being judgemental about Betty.
  • We claim to be kind but are willing to insult George because we don’t like him.
  • We give money to the poor, but only if they aren’t on the street begging because those people are scammers.

We do lots of things that aren’t who we say we are. We believe things but don’t act that way in reality.  But it’s OK.  Because there is always a way to justify it.

Our monkey brains make one reason remove the contradiction.  If I have a reason, it’s OK that I’m doing this thing I claim is not the sort of thing I do.  It’s OK to be mean to George because I don’t think George is nice.  I don’t like him.  That means that I get to still think of myself as Kind, even if I’m mean to George.

That is the magic of rationalization.

But the weird thing is that this magic only works inside of ourselves.  Other people don’t see the magic happen.  So if I’m mean to George, people will think I’m mean and if I claim to a kind person, they will call it hypocrisy when they remember the George incident.  That magic reasoning that I only worked on me, not on them.

Sadly we think it works on them.  We think everyone can see it all as clearly as we can.  George deserved it, so I’m still a kind person.  And I’m very hurt when people start accusing me of being cruel to George.  Because I used the magic rationalization it has never occurred to me that those things I said to George were not consistent with calling myself kind.

It takes a bit of introspection to really look at how we are tricking ourselves into thinking we are something that we really may not be.  It’s a very uncomfortable thing to do, to search inside yourself and scratch aside our the illusions of yourself.  But if we want to have a certain self integrity I think it’s a worthwhile endeavour.

It can also be a bit obsessive and become non-productive.  I have discovered that there are rabbit holes of rationalization.  I can rationalize the rationalizing.

It helps if you already have decided who you want to be.  And then you look.  Because if  you don’t know who you want to be, then there is no point in looking at all, is there?

Kids are Wild Animals

They will, just by nature, do lots of stupid, destructive and embarrassing things.

They aren’t tame yet.

And just like any animal, they are REALLY good at jumping in a gorilla pit or knocking over a 10,000 piece Lego Sculpture or asking your fat boss if their baby looks like an Alien.

That is just regular NORMAL behavior.  Yeah, it’s our job as adults to try and get them to act just a bit more rationally and with slightly more awareness of the consequences of their actions, but it’s a process.

And unless you intend to superglue yourself to a child until they are release into adulthood, they will do stupid stuff.  In fact they need to do stupid stuff.  Mistakes are how kids learn.  Mostly the mistakes are confined to small disasters that are relatively tiresome but easy to clean up or fix.

But there are the outliers.  There are always going to be kids who destroy part of themselves or someone else or something else while they are busy being the wild beasts that they are.  Humans have always known this, but for some reason we have been getting a sort of collective amnesia recently.  We seem to have forgotten that children are really just potential disaster areas.

This obsession the 1st world has with over-parenting, keeping children safe from every possible harm, with making their lives into one long moment to moment entertainment complex, has made us forget – kids aren’t really designed like that.  They are like wild animals put in a zoo.  They are still wild and unpredictable no matter how many buffers you put around them.

It’s been happening for millenia.children_playing_tag

 

Let’s fix the US Election for President

The Problems:

Money in many forms.

The U.S. Election is funded by rich people and corporations.  That is why Sanders enjoys pointing out his percentage of individual donors.  There are laws that limit how much any one person can give a candidate directly. These laws were supposed to avoid this issue.  But the candidates developed Political Action Committees.  PACs are just huge bank accounts where anyone can give any amount of money and that money can be spent any damn way.   If they don’t even have to spend it all on the election, they can use it to go to Barbados.  It’s not a problem.

The money problem is not just centered with the candidates and their donors.  That money buys Advertising.  During an Election Season Advertising in Media costs THREE TIMES MORE.  Yup.  So as you can imagine, the media conglomerates are NOT super excited to clean up that nasty PAC problem.

The platforms:

Over the last couple of decades the elections have increasingly become a 24 hour reality show.  The election has always been big for TV and Newspapers.  And since those TV and Newspapers needed to get people’s attention, they preferred colorful short stories.   Candidates learned to use “soundbite” phrases that would resonate well in small clips on TV.  Complex ideas and discourse were ignored.

However when 24 hour news channels arrived, things started to drift south at an alarming rate.  And it soon became clear that the things that got attention were NOT the tax plan or the budget or foreign policy.  It was concepts that packed emotional impact. That people could square off on in a talk show.   So those things became an increasing part of the simplistic speeches.  And if a policy didn’t have any emotional impact it was linked to something that did.  Or ignored.

Actual detailed policy and platforms are sometimes ignored to the extent that they aren’t even published.    And even if they are published there is no need for them to be viable.  Because for the most part the candidates don’t have to defend or explain the details.  They can hit the highlight reel and ignore the hollow center of their plan.

VOTING:

Not enough people vote.  Not enough are even registered to vote.  This creates an unrepresentative election.  The candidates have a vested interested in this and go to some lengths to continue this trend.

Electoral College:

Right now we have an electoral college.  This means it’s possible to win the election by winning only 22% of the actual votes.  YUP.  And that’s in a 2 party system folks.   Everyone’s votes in this system are not equal.  My vote is less powerful as a Ohio voter than someone’s vote in North Dakota.  There is a conscious reason for this, but it is also deeply unfair.  The electoral college was created to more evenly weigh the less populated states with the heavily populated states. But we have elected presidents who have not won the popular vote.  In other words the guy who lost became President.  That’s not actually very democratic.

Debates:

Debates only retained the name, but not the actual intention or form of a debate.  It is essentially an opportunity for the candidate to say the things they want to say without much of a challenge to their position.  They are not forced to even answer the question that is asked most of the time.  They nominally start to answer the question and the pivot the answer into their standard rhetoric on some topic where they know most people agree.

Follow up Questions are often not even part of the agenda and most of the conversation happens between the moderator and the candidate and not between the candidates.

The solution:

Money:

We need to get rid of the PACs.  We need to stop corporations from giving more to a political campaign either directly or indirectly than any one individual can.  Basically we need to isolate this election to the money that is given directly to the candidate.  Also the party or a some lobbying group or the boy scouts cannot directly advertise for candidates.

I would not go so far as to eliminate allowing a group to advocate for a particular policy as long as they did not link that ad directly or indirectly to the candidate or party.  So if a group is all excited about wall building, that is the only thing they can say.  “let’s build a wall.”  They cannot say Trump, Republican or have any logo, image or symbol that would link that issue to the candidate.

There should also be a cap on the total dollars spent on a campaign.  And it should not be anywhere close to $1 billion dollars.  I would cap it $50 million.

Voting:

4 candidates should be running.  See my primary thoughts on how to accomplish that.  Then we use the Alternative Voting System.  This allows a person to vote for a candidate they truly believe in without feeling that they are throwing away their vote.

EVERYONE must vote.  You can show up and mark Abstain, but you have to show up.

Electoral College:

Let’s ditch it like dirty dishwater.  Its NOT working.  The idea that certain areas will be ignored without the electoral college  is unlikely.  If it were true, since candidates could conceivably win an election by winning all of the small states, that would be where the candidates would be spending a good deal of their time.

BUT NO.  Candidates disregard those states and focus on about 12 of the 50 states.  This system doesn’t give those small states any more attention from the candidates BEFORE the election so you KNOW it’s not causing any attention after election.

Popular vote is a fairer way.  Period.  I know this Republic is based on States and what not, but that is what our Congress is there for.

The Platform:

Candidates are required to publish and discuss all of their proposed policies on a pre-set list of issues.

In depth. You want to build a wall around the US, you need to submit a plan that shows how much it will cost, how it will be funded, details on how it will be accomplished, and analysis on expected outcomes WITH EVIDENCE.  Your proposal must include at least 2 legitimate objections to your plan and your counter position to those objections.  “We’ll see” doesn’t count as a counter argument.

You need to provide this upon declaring your candidacy.  If you change it – you must note your changes.

DEBATES:

Debates must include challenges by opponents and moderators.  False information must be shown that way as soon as humanly possible.  In fact I would make all follow up shows be about the accuracy of the information presented.  And if it is possible for a moderator to know in real time and challenge the information, that must be done.  Indeed when you think of it, I imagine the public will find that more entertaining.  A sort of quiz show mentality.

 

 

 

 

 

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The ease of our collective delusions

Have you ever wondered how the population of a country can be blind to the horrors it is perpetrating.  How did Germans not see?  How did the Japanese not see?  How did the Americans not see?

WHAT?!  Many an American is bristling right now.  “WE ARE THE GOOD GUYS, SARA.  You take that back!” is being shouted at the computer screen.

But yeah.  NOPE.  Not taking it back.  Because we aren’t the good guys.  But the general patriotic rhetoric and feeling about the U.S. by Americans is “We are the heros, the good guys, the knights in shining armor.”

I was 40 before it occurred to me that We Aren’t the Good Guys.  And I knew all the bad things before that.  But still, it was the unconsidered simplified assumption I had about America so I just reinterpreted the bad stuff, as bad but not really changing the basics – America: Good Guy.

I never challenged Good Guy America because that assumption is fed by lots and lots of rhetoric to make me feel that way.  Heck it’s part of the school curriculum.  America, we are willing to blow innocent people up with Atomic Weapons but only because WE ARE THE GOOD GUYS.  That is the gist of how Hiroshima and Nagasaki were taught to me in school.  In fact, right now, someone is thinking about writing a comment about how many lives America saved by doing it.  AMERICA, GOOD GUY!

This country has an ugly internal history of violent and horrific bigotry.  Consider Slavery, the entire Native American Population, (Trail of Tears is just a high point), Segregation, Immigrant Treatment, and Suffrage.  Just to name the big ones.  A full 25 volume encyclopedia would be necessary to summarize the various points of injustices done inside this country by its government to the people and the land and the wildlife.  But we still internalize the fact that we are a good nation.

The U.S. has spent most of it’s young life being  self satisfied at how marvelous we are.  Or if we are having a bad hair day we relish how marvelous we WERE and imagine how we can recreate this fantasy land of greatness which we once were.

The human brain is fully capable of seeing a fact and reorganizing it inside the brain to be a good thing.  To prop it up against beautiful ideas and honestly believe that despite evidence this viewpoint is reality.  It’s the same way people use religion.

If you take a clean objective look at the bible, for example, it’s hard to find a Good Guy God.  But you won’t catch Christian Religions calling God anything but Love.  Because they believe God is Love, they just re-work all the stories inside their brain to be stories about how much God Loves Us.  Our brains work really well at switching that.

Our monkey brains are not clever.  They can be easily manipulated to remember things that never happened, to see things that aren’t there, to re-interpret the view to one that fits our current worldview.

We are complacent in our belief that our brains will not be wrong, when in fact they are wrong regularly.  And we just ignore it.  Like a glitch in the matrix.

Right now Republicans are reworking Trump in their brain.  He’s the Republican so he must be worthy is how it’s going to come out for most of them.  Because they have the unconsidered assumption that Republicans are Good.  Therefore the brain switches to Trump is Good.

We fail when we don’t look carefully at our assumptions.  So very many are hidden from us, but they are worthy of a good stare.  Because our monkey brains don’t just make assumptions, they make SIMPLIFIED assumptions.   So something like being a Republican, which obviously is a complex mess of ideas and concepts, is drilled down to REPUBLICAN.  This removes all the nuance and lets our brain make those unwarranted brain switches on someone like Trump.