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. 

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.

Your Vote says something about Who You Are

When you vote – you are voting for a human being to act in the name of this country. You cannot divorce that person’s views and character from your vote.

If you vote for a person who regularly kills dogs, you are saying it’s OK for the person in this office to be a dog killer.  If you are OK with that person being a dog killer, then you are saying that it’s OK to kill dogs.  Or at least you are saying the killing dogs isn’t that important to you.

You don’t get to say that you aren’t OK with dog killing, that you merely voted for the dog killer because it’s just a vote for your Party.  The best you can say is that killing dogs isn’t that important to you.  And that also says something about you.

Your vote is an act of your belief. It’s representative of you.  No one else can do it for you.  It’s You.  So if you vote – you do take on the reflective pattern of the person you are voting for.  You do take on some of the responsibility.

It is true that you will never find a candidate that meets all the criteria of your ideal.  Which is why is important to know who and what is important to you.  To look at how those things that are important are being represented by your candidate.

To pretend that you believe one thing and vote for something else  is disingenuous. Pretending doesn’t change the fact that if you knowingly vote for a dog killer, you are endorsing killing dogs.  You can’t pretend that you aren’t because it feels bad.

It’s naive to think that people who care about dogs shouldn’t  find your position on dog killing to be awful.  Even if you don’t really care about dog killing, your voting for a dog killer and they love dogs.  They aren’t going to like you for that.

The Conundrum of Conforming

One of the primary reasons that human society works is that humans have a strong instinct for conforming. We place an inordinate unspoken emphasis on it.

It the reason most people in a region dress in a generally identical way. You will notice that as our society became more global our conforming has made more and more societies begin to blend their customary dress into a big global conforming behavior.

It’s important. Its why we get along. Because people conform to accepted behaviors, we respond when someone speaks to us, we wait in lines and we stop at traffic lights. We do that because that is what is normal and we conform to normal.

When someone doesn’t conform we feel a sort of instinctive offense at this behavior. And because it is so deeply ingrained in our psyches to conform to norm, we highlight the person with various punitive rituals – in schoolyards they get bullied, in churches they get shamed, in the media they become the subject of endlessly pointless arguments or ridicule.

We build up IMPORTANT reasons for conformity. We attach words like respect or patriotism or decency to these ideas of conformity. But those things are also just made up ideas that we created to support conformity. Only rarely do we attach laws to conformity when nonconformity will create unreasonable harm.  Mostly we support our instinct to conform with ideas.

For example, we made up the idea of patriotism so that people would be willing to die for their country.  So that they would identify themselves with where they live. So they would stand during anthems and salute flags. So that they would Conform.

When people don’t conform we have an emotional reaction. And then we reach for all the ideas that have been raised over hundreds and sometimes thousands of years to support conforming.

But it’s important to remember – many of those reasons are merely ephemera. Ideas that we give weight to because they have lived with us for so long. Ideally these ideas support conforming behaviors that have group advantage. But not always.

Sometimes someone doesn’t conform to highlight where an idea that supports the conformity is no longer viable or never should have been viable. Rosa Parks comes to mind. Breaking conformity is a powerful use of our conforming bias. It makes everyone stop and notice. It makes everyone discuss the ideas that support conforming and question them.

Sometimes people don’t conform to make a statement about a different issue entirely. This is probably a mistake. Because what happens is that people will talk about the non-conformity. The offense of it, or the right to do it. They will debate the ideas that support conforming. But they won’t discuss the separate issue that this intentional nonconformity is supposed to highlight.

Because the conformity is the thing we all instinctively understand. A thing we all participate in. And we all feel justified in having an opinion. We won’t be diverted. So as a way to highlight a different issue – it won’t work well. It’s just too many steps away from the conformity issue and the monkey in our brains won’t pay attention. We are busy discussing the break in conformity.

Listed Under Bad Ideas

There is an editorial by David Harsanyi in the Washington Post about how we should require a civics test be passed before you are allowed to vote.

His solution to problem of ignorant people voting in Trump the Dumpster is to have a test. Apparently forgetting that not very long ago we used tests to systematically disenfranchise a whole race of people and we fixed that weeping sore on our historical backside for a reason.

His solution, sitting in his clear ivory tower of privilege, is that people who know who would be president if both the President and Vice President couldn’t serve, are the only people who should be able to decide what happens to the other 85% of the population.

Apparently knowing who will be the next President if Obama and Biden have Sudden Presidential Death Syndrome, doesn’t mean you understand the actual facts of the Civil Rights Law prohibiting voting practice that has a discriminatory effect. And I’m just gonna guess on the fact that if 85% of the population can’t pass a test, it’s discrimination.

It’s also apparent that knowing facts doesn’t give you any actual ability to make good choices.  Because Harsanyi knows the answers to the test but is clearly unable to wrap his noggin around the how disenfranchising a whole class of people who are the ones in need would NOT be an ideal situation.

Which points the reality of the problem.  It’s not whether we can name all the Constitutional amendments, it’s whether we can think about complex issues and how they relate to ourselves, the country as a whole and the world in its entirety.  It’s about being able to make choices based on evidence and ethics rather than emotion.  That requires a skill we have not been teaching with any success at school.  Critical Thinking.

The very CONCEPT, that we actually do something about educating people to make good decisions is too hard, costly and painful.  But putting up a test about naming all the constitutional amendments, that is simple, cheap and makes a good headline. It also happens to keep Harsanyi in the tiny powerful group who would get to make the choices for everyone.  And if Harsanyi had done any critical thinking AT ALL, it would be clear to him that there is already far too much of that going on in primaries.  The system is not representational.  Let’s not make it worse.

And let’s discuss the very system that led us here.  Our election process has devolved into a 24 month Reality Show, run by power and money.  It has little to do with getting the best people in office.  And it has NOTHING to do with getting candidates that represent the average voter.  As a result we get a stubby fingered Reality Show Freak, using a skill he’s honed to perfection on that reality show, to get into the office.  The very system that powerful people created to ensure their own interests was hacked by an Anal Sore.  Let’s fix that system before we decide that people who would vote for the Anal Sore should be excluded from voting, shall we?

Here’s the thing.  I’m not excited about ignorant racists voting in a Narcissistic Greedy and Probably Fascist Diarrhea Stain. (it’s possible I have emotions on this point)  But I’m also deeply aware that the people who drove the boat to this place have been struggling at the bottom of a skewed economy for awhile.  They have a right to change the direction the government that controls a good deal of that struggle.  And I would argue that they at least have more reason to be on that boat than the diehard educated Republicans who know the Dumpster is a Wet Fart in a Suit but will vote for him anyway because he’s the Republican Candidate.

What is SAD AND WRONG is the fact that struggling people are being duped and manipulated into thinking that the choices made by the Dumpster will help them.  They don’t understand because the system has let them down from childhood.  Poor education, has led to an inability to use critical thinking in their choices.   A continued lack of concern for their needs and struggles has led them to think that it makes little difference who is in the whitehouse so it might as well be the guy that is good at Reality Show Entertainment and says and does all the things that make them have “feels right” moments.

We cannot block the vote to people because we already let them down in preparing them to vote.  We can fix the system that has let down these people so we don’t continue to generate the problem.

And we can heap on a shitload of contempt for the well educated who vote for him anyway because they can’t think outside the Republican Shoe Box.

And finally, we can vote.  Because I continue to believe that there are more sensible people in the world than not.  So, please don’t miss that opportunity, even if you don’t like Clinton, you must vote for the option that makes more sense comparably.  And you and I both know that Clinton may represent that status quo, but she’s not a Worldwide Anal Leakage Disaster.

Can we discuss… Emoji?

Last night I sent a message to a person who is taking care of her boyfriend in the hospital.  She was exhausted and feeling defeated and I sent her a tweet of sympathy and what I hoped was validation for their most recent and shitty choice.   In it I put the “shit” emoji. On my emoji keyboard it’s just a pile of poo, no face. poo keyboard After it posted on twitter it had a face that looks like surprised, possibly smiling pile of poo. poo twitter   It changes the entire emotional impact of the thing. To say the least.

A new language is evolving.  A language of emoji.  But rather than everyone the world over having the same picture, we have let every goddamn company design their own emoji picture – and so now we can’t speak to each other in what could POTENTIALLY be a universal language.

Because you can’t trust that they are going to get message you sent.

Unicode specifies “pile of poo” for these ASCII characters but every platform can interpret the pile of poo differently.  Adding a face to a pile of poo vs a wave of smell means those two pictures have 2 different connotations.

Take the grinning smile for example:  Look below and tell me that which of those grins look like the grimace of someone on a toilet with constipation?  3318bad000000578-0-image-a-100_1460464915474

You know I’m right.  Apple, Facebook, Emojione and Twitter’s Graphic Artists need more fiber in their diet. I’m not going to send that and expect that someone is thinking I’m thrilled with something.  I’m going to be afraid they will think I’m begging for fiber.

Samsung and LG nailed it.  But don’t use it on your LG phone just because it looks great on it.  You friend with the apple is going to be wondering if you are in pain.

I don’t understand how this opportunity for creating a world language could have been so horribly missed.  WHY in a world that constantly feels the language barrier problem could the idiots with power at Unicode not hire someone to make each emoji, and then handed those out with the code?  WHY? They could have saved countless horrible and embarrassing moments.

Fucking Morons.  😤

 

 

 

Did you know Mothers Day is NOT supposed to be a Hallmark Moment?

Listen to the memory palace podcast for the best version of this story but to summarize Mother‘s Day was supposed to be Mothers’ Day.  A Day to fight for and recognize the work that women do in a home as equal in worth to work outside the home.

It was an idea created by Anna Jarvis when she wanted to pursue the work done by her mother.  Her mother was also Anna Jarvis and in the mid 19th century she was an activist for women’s rights.  She spend her life teaching women about healthcare and their workplace rights.

After she died, her daughter wanted to continue that legacy by bringing her campaign for women’s work into proper respect and she thought that if we had a Holiday it would raise awareness and respect for the work women do inside a home. A day that would bring women together to fight for their rights in their unpaid work.  So as a legacy to her mother she focused herself on that task and won.  Congress declared Mother’s Day.

And almost immediately it became a commercialized day about saying I love you to your Mom.  Which upset Anna Jarvis A LOT.  Because it was supposed to be about the bigger issue.  It wasn’t supposed to be a Hallmark Holiday that exploits your love for you mother into a money making venture.

So instead of being able to rest on her laurels, she spent the rest of her life fighting the commercialization of a Holiday she created to change the perceived role of women in our culture.  She died alone in a nursing home surrounded by Hallmark cards and candy that her oblivious fans continued to send her.  She was never a mother.

Now, of course, no one knows the real reason Mother’s Day was brought into existence.  And it’s hard to call the celebration of our affection for our particular parent a bad thing, because of course it’s not.

But it’s also true that we still have the problem of getting respect for the unpaid labor of Moms.  That terrible term Mothers Who Don’t Work continues to plague us.  We have started to head more into the direction of shared parenting, but it remains a cultural norm that women are the responsible party for all child rearing and house care and men are just helping.  Clearly a holiday isn’t the route to take on improving that though.

 

 

Cemeteries and gravestones

I don’t want to be buried, I want to be cremated.  I think funerals are a big scam on the vulnerable.

But, that said, I am a little bit sad that I won’t  have a gravestone.  My grandmother taught me the importance of cemeteries.  On the western Iowa and Missouri border, there are many cemeteries filled with my ancestors.  They are physical genealogy markers.

Grandma Allen would get a bunch of relatives in a car, or two cars and we would take an all day tour of cemeteries.  We would drive on dirt and gravel roads for miles and stop at small rural cemeteries that looked like no one had been buried there for years.

We would walk around and look at the markers and hear how this person and that person was related to us.  We would hear where their farm was – sometimes you could see it from the cemetery.  We would hear how they died or some fabled family story about them.

Then we would get in the car and drive to the next one.  Sometimes we would stop at a farm of some far flung relation, who had inherited a farm that had been in the family for generations.  They always greeted us with warmth and took us on a tour, gave us something to drink and sent us on our way with a suggestion or two of who or what to visit next.

My relatives weren’t rich.  They were farmers.  But I also love to visit the big city cemeteries where the wealthy built crypts that look like mini cathedrals, and put beautiful stone angels and Greek goddesses on their graves. Often they put a beautiful poem or quote on the marker.  Its a lovely way to be remembered, even by strangers.

spring-grove-cemetery-30796These days very few people are quite so extravagant with their graves.  I find it kind of sad.  Which conflicts heavily with my first statement, doesn’t it?

Well, in the unlikely event that there is lots of money available at my death, I will ask for a bench to built.  I want it be in the shade and to be designed to last for centuries.  I want it be comfortable and inviting.  And on it, I will put an inspiring thought or poem.  And my name and dates, of course. My ashes can be scattered somewhere pleasant that my relatives would like to go on vacation, but the bench will mark my life.

Because, in the long run, who will remember me?  I have no children.  I will be the unremembered maiden aunt and quite forgotten by later generations.  No one will tell my stories at the dinner table, the way we tell stories of my great grandparents and grandparents and parents.  And even those stories will be forgotten by the spread of time.

But the stones, they last a bit longer.  Its a silly human desire to be remembered.  A desire of the living for something that will mean nothing to the dead.  But I still want it.

Listed Under Appallingly Bad Idea

The CIA’s twitter account is doing a rerun tweeting the Osama Bin Laden’s Assassination as if it were happening today.

This is so… bad taste.

This is so… dangerous.

This is so… typical of our narcissistic American Centric view.

I’m embarrassed for this country.  I’m sorry that Obama is making this sort of thing into a sideshow carnival ride.

I’m continually stunned by the choices people make.  People who are supposed to be smarter than this.

Sometimes I need to be reminded that the world is not Entirely Awful.

chpms3wwiaavwip

I had a bad week.  This means that when I looked at the world and my life all I could see was disaster.  I felt like I was on a short road to Dystopia.

But then the smoke curtains lift and I can things a bit more clearly.  And then when I look, I can see that there is always something good.  Someone good.  Things that matter and are good happen.

There are always helpers.  It’s a terribly good thing to remember.