Boom We Boomers Went

hippieturnsfatIt’s been a question I’ve pondered for some time, and noted here once or twice (way too lazy too look that up for ya). The question you ask?

Why did my peers from grade school to high school turn out so very differently on how we view the world? I’ve thought a lot about it, and read one book that shed some light on the subject. Not a light that made me very happy I might add.

I posited that to some degree, it had to do with those who ventured from the home base (Genesee County) and those who did not. But that is superficial at best. I know a strong liberal from Ann Arbor and a reactionary teabaggin’ fundamentalist from Traverse City, and a reactionary from the Phoenix area. So go figure.

No attempt to define the divide is perfect for quite obvious reasons, people are individualized too much for such neat and precise division. There will always be not just a significant outlier, but lots and lots of softer outliers. One is always operating on a bell curve and before you start providing me with examples to disprove the theory, it’s best you get that first. Those with some education in statistics assume it but for others, it is not so obvious.

I’m reading a book called Generations, written in the early 90’s by William Strauss and Neil Howe, who posit that it is helpful to examine American history based on generational attributes (strengths and weaknesses) and their reactions to big turning points, like revolution, depression, war, spiritual awakenings and so forth. For Boomers (born 1942-1960), the GI generation (most of our parents) is a prime example.

Fighting the big one was a seminal turning point. The GI generation became the can do generation, taking upon itself to build and build, institutions, infrastructure, and one of the biggest booming economies the world had every seen. They saw failure as not an option. They were also the generation that from start to finish saw the greatest growth in government all designed around them. From child labor laws in their youth to Medicare in their old age, government was their provider against the big bad realities of the world.

Boomers were a nurtured, and largely indulged generation, raised on Dr. Spock, offered everything, the apple of everyone’s eye. We were encouraged to seek the moon, and we became the most self-confident in our own righteousness of any generation in a long time. Fifty-eight percent of us went on to college, the largest percentage before or since by a long shot.

That I think is the key. Education.

Because we are perhaps one of the most fractured of all the generations as well. We may well be the beginning of the great divide between “red” and “blue” in this nation. We gave the biggest votes to Pat Robertson and Jesse Jackson in their respective runs for President. If that isn’t a divide I don’t know what it.

While something like only 10-15% of us were “hippies” or like travelers–civil rights workers, feminists, environmentalists, anti-war activists, campus radicals,  we controlled how this generation was perceived and responded to. We adored our mothers, and argued with our dads. We, were not interested in emulating our father’s drive to build things, but we examined the ethical underpinnings of the world and found them largely missing.

The Silent generation which sandwiched between the GI and the Boomer (1925-42), flipped between trying desperately to match the GI productivity with “something big” themselves, and trying to be “young” during the 60’s in their late 30’s and 40’s.

Boomers gave George Wallace more votes than any other generation. Those from Michigan can surely relate where Wallace gained  his third highest greatest electoral count, behind Maryland and Texas outside the South. Surely boomer activists were not voting for Wallace!

Contrary to what right wingers suggest (that all colleges and universities brainwash youngsters into liberal malarkey), education, by exposing youth to the underbelly of a largely white-washed and prim history presented in high school, opens eyes not to some liberal Marxist ideology, but teaches a basic distrust of “traditional” answers to traditional questions.

I learned, (and I have no reason to think I am different than most)  that everything should be questioned, and that books and experts provided the window to an expanded perch from which to reach a conclusion about what was true and what not, or at least what was not quite so true as offered.

This was coupled by the very real truth that people who are college educated simply make more money, live an easier life-style and have less quarrel as a result, with helping others through taxes.

Those from my generation who sought to follow their fathers plan, i.e, get a job, work hard, marry, have children, buy a house, and live contentedly until retirement with a nice pension and social security, ended up in a very different place. For my classmates who took that route, GM, long the “job for a lifetime” turned into plant closings, layoffs, and ultimate blame placed not at the corporate doorstep (where it so perfectly belonged) but rather at the feet of the unions. Unions became some bizarre “bad parent” who fed the unable to think for themselves babies too much cake until they got sick, and corporations threw up their hands in disgust and moved to Bangladesh or similar cheap labor environs.

These folks did work hard, harder certainly than the rest of us and what they got was “barely making it” and instead of what I got (doing better than my parents but by a slimmer margin).  They regressed.

Somebody has to be to blame for that, and of course their were just tons of slimy politicians all pointing the finger at minorities, immigrants, and other lazy-shiftless individuals all the while receiving yet another check from corporate coffers to deflect the blame away from them.

All those classmates who paid next to no attention to politics for 30 years, suddenly woke up in a world that definitely was not what they expected, and listened of course to those who gave them somebody tangible to blame. Business can’t be the problem because “business” built America for God’s sake. But people who don’t have a job? Well, why don’t they? Is it because they are LAZY? Easy answers for people accustomed to being given answers by their betters.

The educated half of us is more liberal because we don’t accept standard answers, we distrust simple, and know that truth is often buried deep in self-serving rhetoric and grey fringes. We are not without blame in all this either. We are the part of a generation that thumbed our noses in our 30’s at our brothers and sisters who were working in factories and raising children as the “not with it” folks. They were the one’s inhibited the transformation we saw as imminent in the Age of Aquarius. We berated the stay-at-home-moms for being part of the problem, by living out all we stood against–being “somebodies wife or mother”.

If Lennon’s Imagine was our utopia, we surely went about it the wrong way. We alienated our own. If there was a resurgence of “spirituality” for our generation, at least half of it went not to “new Age” but rather to fundamentalism. If we brought before the eyes of American the horrors of war in our marching, the largest segment of people supporting the war were from our own as well. Similarly the war over abortion is largely led by the divided boomers, divided not so much by education here, but by birth placement. The early boomers are pro-choice the late boomers like the next generation (13’ers) are decidedly less willing to compromise on the issue.

Our legacy in the end is one fraught by victories on a social scale and disastrous set backs on that same scale. We set out to change the world. And we did, but good God, we never meant for it to go this way.

That’s the way I see it today.

Convincing Those Who are Oblivious

Malcom-X-Quote-oppressed-peopleI spend a lot of time thinking.

I write a lot about the things I’m thinking about.

People who think like me, read what I write, and they think it’s pretty okay.

People who don’t think like me, don’t read me, but if they did, they wouldn’t agree with me.

Which is curious, since much of what I think about and write about is pretty well substantiated by actual things called facts.

It would seem evident that my facts should trump your fact-less opinion. But it doesn’t. Because you dismiss my facts. You don’t even waste the time to think about them, you simple use your magic eraser and voilà they are gone.

My husband, the great thinker, The Contrarian, reminds me that people are on a continuum. People are not neatly packed into the left or right or middle. It’s all bleeding all over the place. But we are dealing with averages after all.

“Recent converging studies are showing that liberals tend to have a larger and/or more active anterior cingulate cortex, or ACC—useful in detecting and judging conflict and error—and conservatives are more likely to have an enlarged amygdala, where the development and storage of emotional memories takes place.  More than one study has shown these same results, . . . .”

This has been known for some time. It ends up suggesting that these truisms are mostly true for liberals:

Liberals, according to this model, would be likely to engage in more flexible thinking, working through alternate possibilities before committing to a choice. Even after committing, if alternate contradicting data comes along, they would be more likely to consider it.

On the other hand, conservatives respond rather differently:

“. . .[W]hen faced with an ambiguous situation, conservatives would tend to process the information initially with a strong emotional response. This would make them less likely to lean towards change, and more likely to prefer stability. Stability means more predictability, which means more expected outcomes, and less of a trigger for anxiety.”

You see the dilemma?

Liberals continue to pepper conservatives with facts, and conservatives respond with concerns about values and things that affect them personally. They give you anecdotal information that they see as equally valuable in how they should respond.

Case in point. I know a person who is conservative and a fundamentalist. She is opposed to the ACA because it stems from President Obama, and pretty much is in agreement with all the known Tea Party positions regarding, abortion, gay marriage, guns, and so forth. I’ve never seen her seriously out of alignment with them on any issue.

At one point in her life, her health situation became serious enough that she applied for Medicaid. She was denied as “not eligible”. She self-reported that a “neighbor” couple got Medicaid however. She then went on to explain that God saw fit to have her denied because obviously He had other plans for her.

Let’s try to reconcile this. First, this woman has quoted her pastor as approving statements that call the American poor “akin to the rabble of Rome”. Her remark about her neighbors getting their Medicaid seemed offered as an example of  people who got what they didn’t deserve at least as much as she did. Yet, her application for Medicaid doesn’t define her as a “taker,” because of course she felt that in her situation, she “deserved” it.

However, when Medicaid denied her, that would mean she was not deserving, and thus one of those who was trying to get what she didn’t deserve, thus a taker. Since she cannot see herself as a taker, she is a qualified applicant denied what she deserved by a loving God who had other plans for her.

That’s the way you twist the world to fit your beliefs. People who get government assistance are still takers because they are not deserving, while good people like herself are denied. God has a plan and someday she will understand.

The example is instructive. It will do no good for me to  give her facts about how well Obamacare is actually doing now. She will not be impressed with knowing that in several states, competition between carriers has actually doubled, making it likely that premiums will come down even more in ensuing years. Eight million plus new insured will not do the trick either, since they are like her neighbor, people who shouldn’t get it, and could get their own if they would only get a job.

She might, on the other hand, be persuaded that it’s the Christian thing to do, that a healthier country means that everyone will benefit in myriad ways. Playing to her sense of Christian charity should work. But alas it does not to the fundamentalist. Jesus did in fact make it most clear that we were “our brother’s keeper” and he again and again emphasized to his disciples that here brother meant the truly marginalized. His examples of the marginalized he considered “brothers” were people of other nationalities,  victims of disease, women, those in employment to the oppressors, and sexually active persons.

Some how Jesus’ teachings about carrying for the prisoner, the sick, the hungry, the unclothed, got mixed up. I would take another post to untease the tangle of Pauline and pseudo-Pauline doctrine that is both misunderstood and mis-applied to these teachings to get where we are today with the evangelical right, namely that government should not proffer  programs for the needy, instead, they, the evangelicals should, so they can weed out all those who are not deserving, i.e., the lazy, the takers, the rabble, reserving charity for the “truly needy” which is essentially someone who has suddenly through no fault of their own, “fallen on hard times”, from which, if given just a little help for a short while, they will recover and once again be productive citizens.

That leaves us with appealing to self-interest and values, but here too we run into trouble. Let’s take the issues of food stamps and a living wage as examples. Regularly we are told that food stamps are misused by uncounted numbers of people who are “too lazy” to work. (Facts are to the contrary of course, but facts don’t matter.)  These people are taking advantage of “us” through taxes when they could just as well get a job.  But on the other hand, conservatives are essentially against any minimum wage, arguing that it impinges on an employers right to pay what he/she deems appropriate, and that such a law interferes with free markets. These are values conservatives hold dear: working and free markets.

However, if you wish people to work, but allow business owners to play unfair low wages, doesn’t that put us into the food stamp business? Logic says that if you want people to work you need to pay them enough to care for themselves and their families. So you should support a requirement of a fair living wage.

But again, logic is not the point. Conservatives can and do hold opinions on things that are in considerable conflict. Remember, it is liberals who have to reconcile conflicting beliefs, not conservatives.

While it is easy to say that the way to change the mind of a conservative is to forget facts and give them arguments that appeal to their self-interest and values, such is not always possible as we can see, or at least it requires a great deal more finesse than one would think.

It would seem then, that the answer lies in education. Only by teaching our youngsters that the mind has a way of creating reality to suit its own comfort zone, can we set about the business of giving them the tools that will allow them to avoid the pitfalls of their own predilections.

In this no doubt liberals also have something to learn. The focus  in this essay has been on explaining why liberals can’t change the minds of conservatives with facts. But they too have positive points to contribute. In a stable compromising world,  we could do what we have mostly always done, bring out the best in each other.

What is most important to remember, is that no individual can be utterly pigeon-holed by this analysis. We change over time as well. We do have free will, and the ability to overcome our own negative tendencies. These are generalities across a spectrum. Genetic predispositions are just that, predispositions, over come again and again by serious study, and life experiences. We would do well to remember that.

(Do read the link–it gives a lot more detail and links to further study)

To Paddle or Not?

disciplineIt’s disconcerting to be 63 and still find so much of human behavior unintelligible. Yet I do.

It’s disconcerting to be 63 and find myself pondering a subject that doesn’t apply to me personally at all. I really have better things to do.

It’s disconcerting to be 63 and find so many people so woefully out of touch with reality with no desire to enter into it.

Yet, here I find myself.

And as I ponder the realities of life, I guess I end up thinking I’m among the more fortunate of the human race to date, for I think at least that I possess the skills and tools necessary to see the world as it is rather than how I want it to be.

That means, for me at least, that I can work toward improving that world. If your worldview is faulty, then of course, you have no hope of effecting a change since you misjudge from the start.

I have learned that I will never reach China by digging away in the backyard with my sandbox shovel. Too many of those I know have not learned that yet it seems.

It all started here:

spankingThis was posted by a guy I went to high school with.

It is, as you note, one of those Facebook memes that travels from person to person. There is supposed to be some point. And there is supposed to be something one assumes that this addresses.

It seems to address that “fact” that the poster doesn’t think that the world is a very good place anymore, though it once was.

It seems that we aren’t spanking any more, but we should. It seems to address the criticisms of spanking, with “evidence” that contradicts those criticisms.

Of course it does none of the above.

Before I get into that, let me say that I responded to my classmate with a generalized thought that I thought spanking wasn’t particularly helpful and that hitting kids didn’t teach good lessons and that what the world needs is more peace and perhaps the home was a good place to start.

I was met by a universal condemnation, mostly having to do with “spanking isn’t beating”. This was accompanied by more anecdotal testimonials that “spanking never hurt me.” It was met finally with a pointed jab of “how many children have you raised?” I cited a statement by professionals whose business it is to understand the psychology of child rearing. No response to that, just more claims that I was wrong.

Then this was posted:

spanking3That really threw me, for as anyone with an ounce of critical thinking skills would see, there is no attempt, nor can there be, to show that violence in the world is in any way directly linked to the physical discipline of children.

In fact, the implied premise is wildly wrong.

There was not “less violence when it was normal to give your kid an ass whooping.” Violence has pretty steadily decreased over time in the world.

To the degree that people physically discipline their children less today than they did say 30-40 years ago, is more a symptom of this, and perhaps of the studies that show that pain-causing discipline doesn’t help, and often harms children.

What we have here is a complete and utter failure to read and think critically.

Let’s examine some of the faulty thinking:

  1. I’m okay and I was spanked, so there is nothing wrong with it. True enough for a lot of people, however anecdotal testimonials are not evidence, they are what they are. Statistically they mean nothing and prove nothing. There are always exceptions to any rule, sometimes many, but the rule remains the rule. The considered opinion of child experts is that there are too many bad effects and virtually no good effects, so the practice remains ineffective period.
  2. There is more violence in today’s society than there was “when I was a kid”. This is fallacious as the statistics again prove out. It should be noted that the overall crime rate in this country has dropped significantly. However, the perception is that is has not.
  3. Children who were “spanked” or otherwise physically disciplined, grow up to be more law-abiding and more respectful human beings. Somehow today’s ills wouldn’t be as bad or wouldn’t exist at all if we were still physically disciplining our children at the perceived rate that we did in the fifties or sixties. Except that is demonstrably not true based on studies, crime statistics and the total lack of evidence to support this assumption.
  4. One must be a parent in order to know anything about proper disciplinary choices. This is simply too ludicrous to respond to, and bespeaks the most obvious type of knee-jerk, non-thinking response imaginable. There is no such requirement to becoming  an expert in child care or the psychology involving the child. Most families are dysfunctional to one degree or another. Obviously one doesn’t learn parenting skills simply by giving birth or donating sperm. This is non-critical thinking at its worst.

So how does one explain that some people want to think that spanking is the answer, and that more of it should be done? (As you might expect the requisite fundamentalist piped in with resort to the highly misunderstood, “spare the rod, spoil the child” response).

Can we conclude that such people are just poorly educated and grasping at the only thing they can think of to “right the world” they see as having gone awry? Perhaps. At least it accounts for the fact that in this example, there is a stunning and appalling lack of critical thinking attached. The FIRST question should be, why would causing pain to a child make them a better person? And then you actually start doing research. Obviously our high schools do a terrible job of teaching these skills and a large percentage of our population is thus prey to the simplistic answer.

Perhaps we can conclude that most people see their own upbringing over time as more rosy than it was. Given that the times are different today, they seem worse. There is probably much truth here. Teapartiers and others from the Right Wing do tend to long for a past that was not real, but seems so to them. This is well documented today with our penchant for rewriting history regarding our founding, i.e., being a Christian nation, and our “freedoms” being eroded, all without real documentation.

In fact, I suspect that those who “support” spanking as discipline are probably more conservative than those who don’t. This then becomes just another on a long list of items that have and are destroying the “American way of life.”

ADDENDUM: The next issue that has arisen is an urgent plea to spread around a letter documenting all the terrible things Jane Fonda did during the Vietnam war era. It claims that Barbara Walters has condemned her as a “traitor” and that President Obama is going to honor her as one of the 100 most Influential Women of the Century. Write immediately to stop this atrocity! This urban legend started before Obama was president. In fact Walters did honor Fonda for the above back in 1999. This legend resurrects every year or so, and seems to have popped up again since Fonda had the temerity to play Nancy Reagan in The Butler, something the RIght cannot stand. I suggest that the statement within the “letter” suggesting that Barbara Walters  had publicly called Fonda a traitor, would to the critical eye, suggest immediately that this was most unlikely and required further researcher. The same poster, again failed to see the obvious issue and do so.

I sometimes feel like I’m traveling through the woods stomping out small fires. Help our educational system!


It’s Good News Thursday!

happyDon’t worry, be happy. I’m just oodly happy today. Don’t know why, no good reason. Just breathing in and saying hey, lungs fill up with this OX-y-Jin!

No, I’m not on pain killers nor other mind-altering substances. I’m just finding the news particularly upbeat today.

First, let me tootle my own horn just a tiny bit. I finished Jonathan Haidt’s book, The Righteous Mind, and you can read my review here. It’s a humbling book I gotta tell you. Being smart and well-educated doesn’t necessarily make you any more open-minded. What it may do, as I surmise is make you more aware of just how much we intuit our  beliefs and then come up with “evidence” to substantiate it. Knowing that, we can, I hope, be more vigilant in being open, if you get my drift.

Secondly, I found out that neither rich, poor, religious or not, we all mostly look out for Number One, we can all be altruistic to our “tribe”, we all cheat if we can get away with it to a greater or lesser degree (the rich the most), and we all worry about what others think of us (the conservative more-so than liberals). At least those were big take-aways for me. And it suggested to me that the claim that conservatives give more of their money and time to charitable concerns may be the result of inflated self-reporting than anything else. I do admit that that conclusion is the result of (1) a desire on my part that it be so, (2) the knowledge that conservatives worry excessively about their reputations, and (3) anecdotal evidence that the only people who ever tell me about their charitable largess or right wingers. So it’s my extrapolation and may not be accurate. Do tell what your experience has been.

Anyway, my bottom line? Professor Haidt’s revelations are perhaps as anger provoking to liberals as they are to conservatives. And that means it’s probably important to read and understand. I am fairly convinced that he makes some good points about what liberals miss and what some conservatives bring to the table. I would argue that nothing much good comes from the tea Idiots however, but that again is my elephant in full control. (read the book and you will get the reference).

So, the other good news for me at least is this:

I adore Glee. I say that with a certain degree of embarrassment because we didn’t watch it for a couple of years. Thought it was for kids. But kept hearing all the raves about it. So tuned it one evening and we’ve been hooked ever since. Silly as all get out. Nobody ever in life went to a high school like this, but we all should have. And it’s great fun. And it sends a very important message about being WHO YOU ARE, and about being accepted for WHO YOU ARE, even when that can be just down right a horse’s ass. The most important point they make, and you have to watch for a while to get it, is that seemingly mean people have soft undersides, and very nice people have dark hearts. And we all have to make allowances for each other, and support each other just because we are all really freakin’ human and being human is freakin’ hard a lot of the time.

So anyway, the good news is that my darling boy Adam Lambert is joining the cast this fall. Adam, is drop-dead boy toy gorgeous if you didn’t know. adam

And he’s so young that for me to get excited means I’m a sick woman. So I only from a distance say, damn that is one fine lookin’ child, and no more.

And if you listen to him, he’s not dumb either, which is something that seems to often unfairly attach or not to people who are that good-looking.

Johnny Depp is another exception, being fabulously gorgeous, closer to my own age, and not dumb as a rock either.

So, I can hardly wait until fall. And I know I shouldn’t be that way, because at my age, wishing time to pass is surely not a good thing.

Speaking of gay.

Oh, yes we were!

All kinds of crappy shit is going on in Pennsylvania these days but here is some good news.

The AG for PA, (has a snappy sound no?) has apparently said that she has no intention of defending against the lawsuit filed by a gay couple challenging the ban on gay-marriage statute in that state.  So says Joe.My.God, who so says the Washington Post.

It appears that the thing about gay marriage has turned a corner, or as we science-oriented types like to say, passed over the event horizon, meaning nothing in the known universe can turn back the procession to full equality for our friends who are other-oriented than me. I for one couldn’t be more happy. It seems that the latest polling in PA suggests that well more than half of the population in that state now favors marriage equality, which is why the AG perhaps decided what she did.

Anyway, hurrah, hurrah.

Those of you in the know, know that Scott Walker, Guv from Wisconsin has been a real pain in the rear for women. He pushed through a repeal of women’s right to equal pay, has essentially defunded PPH, and has signed a number of bills making abortion rights much much harder for women to exercise. Sarah Silverman, comedienne, tweeted: “I’d very much like to anally probe @govwalker each time he needs to make an “informed decision” “.

The Right-wing has gone bonkers over this, accusing Ms. Silverman of wanting to “rape” the governor. Breitbart was suitably chagrined.   (read the comments which quickly degenerate to Hitler’s death camps I promise you). Anyway, pissing off the right just makes me joyful. It’s my great happiness to know they are turning purple in the face. It makes me happy, and this IS happy day.

Taken by a British Photographer (Austin?)

Taken by a British Photographer (Austin?)


What a Difference a Mind Makes

witchcraftYou know it’s really funny. Prepare you face for it. To laugh that is.

When I talk about faith or religion here, it brings out the new atheists and their smarmy yak-yak about believing in fairy tales. When I talk about faith or religion on my actual religion blog, Walking in the Shadows, I sometimes get folks who deign to explain to me that I’m not practicing the right kind of Christianity from their point of view.

Yesterday, I was asked, after making a number of statements regarding various fairly technical aspects of Christian theology (atonement theory, faith/works), the sort of things that some of us love to discuss, whether I was a “follower” of Jesus.

I guess it caught me oddly since I can’t imagine why anyone would spend all that much time on a subject of which they had no interest. But then I thought of a few rather well-known scholars who had started their studies in faith, and then lost it, and remained in the discipline. So I guess it wasn’t so odd.

Which brought me to the well-known principle that on just about every subject known to man and woman, people see things very differently. To this person’s mind at least, because I didn’t believe as she did, I must not be a follower of Jesus as she was. There was one way to follow Jesus, and I wasn’t doing it.

Similarly, whether it be economics or climate change, or any of a host of human and worldly problems, you discover that people have views that seem idiotic to you. Yet, when you talk to them, they have the same passion as you do. They are just as sure. Well, I guess that’s not totally true. I always figure that I’m never totally sure about much of anything. Doubt to me is part of the package. Those who are diametrically opposed to what I think, they seem to be very sure.

Therein lies the rub as Shakespeare was wont to say. The “follower of Jesus” if asked, would assure me that her belief is absolute, without question. That seems to me to be the total opposite of faith. For to me, faith is such in the face of doubt. It’s a choosing to believe even when there is no proof that you are right, just no proof that you are wrong.

It led me to conclude that that is probably true about most people who are given to being “absolutely sure”.  I’m also engaged with a very reactionary type who is “very sure” there is no such thing as global warming. Even though logically he can’t be, since he has no training in any science even remotely related to the subject. He is adamant that he is right, because the people he aligns himself with say what he wants to be true.

A scientist will tell you that you can’t be absolutely sure that the sun will rise tomorrow. Something catastrophic could always happen. Is it true that only the reactionary right are “sure” about things? I wonder.

I’m not completely sure where this comes from. One can refer to the fundamentalist mind. People think it refers to super conservative church people, but it actually is a mindset. It refers to a person who likes things in neat little boxes, all tidy and a whole world gets constructed of rights and wrongs. Once they have established this nice world, they can finally relax, they have all the answers. Nobody is allowed to jeopardize that with actual facts to the contrary. They must be defeated, and they are, by naming them as suspect. They are “purveyors of lies”, they are “Marxists” or “socialists” or “one-world government” nuts. They are hucksters conspiring  to obtain grants based on known falsehoods, for the “money”. (of course nobody explains how tens of thousands are all in on this conspiracy and waste their careers getting grants to do things they know already are false). Nobody explains the lack of logic of it all.

One can refer to self-interest, and that explains a lot too. When you poke at the angry all too sure person, they generally erupt in a retort of “we’re going to be taxed to death, and all for nothing!” That is the crux of the issue when you puncture the pus-filled wound they carry around with them. They hate taxes, hate everything they perceive is keeping them from retaining every dime they make.

That is why the GOP mantra is so attractive. They not only support the angry right and it’s desire to pay less taxes, they give them all the reasoning as to why they need not feel guilty about it either. If you show them statistics that prove that raising the minimum wages doesn’t result in an uptick in the unemployment numbers and that it results in raising up the wages of all workers, they retort with a firm “no it doesn’t, all it does it deny poor black kids a chance at a job, and perpetuate poverty, which is all Democrats want because then they have a ready-made electorate who want those handouts.”

It’s so nice when people tell you aren’t racist, or sexist, or homophobic, or wrong period. It’s nice to be told that you are right in denying full rights to gay couples because “God wants it that way.” Nice to deny SNAP to women and children because it just “encourages laziness and relying on the government”. It’s nice to  leave the planet in a mess to the next generation because a few opportunists are willing to assure you that it’s really okay and you shouldn’t be scammed by and forced to pay more taxes to encourage green technology.

So, add another point to how to determine when you are hearing the truth, or when you are hearing what somebody wants you to believe for their own purposes. Are they sure? If they are, and they don’t have the background to make that determination, look for something else at play, and tread carefully when you make your decision of what you believe.

Belief and surety are not the same.

Wackos of the World Unite: You Have Nothing to Lose But Moronic Thinking

I was recently called donald-trump-duck1a wacko. Nothing could be truer and if the person who so named me, had known me well, I would have laughed in agreement. But he knows nothing but a smidgen of my politics, and his opprobrium was limited to that fact alone.  To that sir, I take umbrage!

I have heard, and it seems to be folk wisdom, that one becomes more conservative with age. I guess it stems from an accumulation of anecdotal observances of friends and family as they age.

It may well be true.

I know it was nearly true of me.

At one point in my life, I found my life in a place that was not pleasing. I was living in an urban setting in a city known for violence. I was tired of house break-ins, and all the petty crime that life entailed. I was tired of my job, tired of the people I worked with and we were embroiled in a fight within our organization over wages and rights.

And I found myself slipping into conservative mode. I wanted out, and that required savings, and anything that impinged on my ability to save money was something I was against.

Life got better. And it continued to be so.

I realized something as life got sweeter. My normal liberalism was returning. My life is great today. And my liberalism is flaming, in fact I’m not sure I’m not sliding well into anarchism. (please do look that up before you report me to the FBI–I’m a Chomsky type anarachist and I’m just beginning that journey of discovery, so don’t hold me to it. Being the eclectic I am, I am always trying to learn something new. I almost became a nun for goodness sake!)

Which suggests that something more is at work here.

I’ve become involved in some discussions with old school mates as of late. The discussions have often involved issues of the day. And I find a very curious thing. Perhaps I’m reading the tea leaves wrong, but well, judge for yourself.

I view the Tea Party as a loose amalgamation of disparate spirits. There are your fiscal deficit hawks. There are your, don’t tax me (but do fix the pot holes). There are the “it smacks of socialism/fascism/communism” to me even though I can’t actually tell you which is which, but I don’t like it. There are your basic racists and any anti-Democratic group sounds good to me given that THAT guy is in the White House types. There are your basic survivalists who just hate government, but are also itching to shoot it up. There are your religionists/fundamentalists who think the US of A ought to be based on the bible as they interpret it, along with all their ideas of social living arrangements made mandatory by God, speaking through them. There are probably more.

It makes for a messy group.

But in discussions, I find that those who are most impossible to engage in anything other than sound bites direct from Breitbots, Daily Caller, Blaze, WND, and the ever reliable bellicose grifters, Coulter, Limbaugh, Hannity, and so on, are people who over time, you perceive to be just really really unhappy individuals. They have fallen into their conservationism as a defense to their miserable lives.

I paint this portrait with the proviso that not all need apply, but as they say, if you find yourself answering yes to three or more, you may have a problem that is leading you to be a Conservative:

  1. You are divorced or separated, and you feel that you are not at fault, having spent your life working to provide for your spouse who is an ungrateful _________.
  2. You have no education past high school, or if you do, it was toward a trade or low-level technical job.
  3. You are self-employed and have no more than six people who work for you.
  4. You have long given up an dreams of opening a second shop, franchising your business, or crossing that threshold to being a “businessman”. In other words, you still are working along with your employees.
  5. You work long hours, and while you make a decent living, you still can’t afford all the things you dreamed of having at this point.
  6. Every dime you pay in taxes becomes a dime that keeps you that must further away from “retirement”, and a chance to finally enjoy life. Emphasis on finally because you don’t expect to enjoy life until you have “made it”.
  7. You have few hobbies or enjoyable down time, because you “don’t have time” or can’t afford it.
  8. Life has definitely not turned out the way you expected it to, and you are close or at retirement age.
  9. You increasingly see that most people don’t work as hard as you do, yet they “get stuff” for free because they are a minority, a woman, an undocumented worker (illegal).
  10. You know that if the government didn’t take your money, you could have been wealthy like all the rich people you so admire. You’ve read all their books, and you know you are just like them.

What this all leads to is extreme anger. It’s not my fault I’m not living the life I deserve. It’s __________ fault. It’s got to be somebody’s fault you see. I just has to be. For it cannot be mine. I work too hard for it to be mine.

Of course, it begs the question that you have perhaps listened to the wrong people. I could explain that you are believing exactly what the corporate masters desire you to believe. You are blaming who they wish you to blame. You are mired in self-pity, because it is not your fault. And it truly isn’t your fault. You simply based your beliefs on those whose interest it is to keep your striving in place,  and misdirecting your anger away from them.

So I think of it as a badge of honor to be a liberal at my age. I have successfully avoided the pitfalls of self-interest in the name of what I call being human. I see the human experience as one of striving to be more human, and that means being more open and giving and sharing with the lives that surround me. There is nothing so very noble about it. It’s a constant struggle to pull away from purely selfish interest to include “the other”. I don’t always win that battle, but the struggle enhances my ability to win more than I lose. And as a citizen of planet of earth, I find that a positive step forward.

Evolution is about change over time. Try to be mindfully engaged in that process. I think God likes that. But that’s me, the wacko speaking.

Do You Like Sport?

funny-sports-12Are we getting it yet?

Are you still enthralled with your favorite hero? Is it Clay Matthews or LeBron James? Is it Wayne Gretzky or Miguel Cabrera? You do realize they are humans and they are flawed don’t you?

Lance Armstrong is so flawed he deserves to be in his own hall of fame of worst possible human being in the entire 20th and 21st century. I mean, he stands back and admits to all the things he’s been accused of for years, without batting an eye, oblivious EMOTIONALLY to all the pain he has caused others. He’s a sociopath, and in another life would be a mass murderer. Instead he’s just a mass cheater, liar, and life wrecker.

Manti Ta’o? The kid from Notre Dame with the strange story about the girlfriend he had never met and may never have existed? Oh, I have no clue if Manti was in on the hoax or a victim of it. Having spend more hours than I wish to admit to on the old IRC back in the day, I know so many stories like this that I’m inclined to give the kid the benefit of the doubt. I knew people who feel deeply in love with personas that were not even close to truth. I knew men who fell in love with men who thought they were women. Truly it happens. Or it did.  .  .  . back in the day at least.

Never happened to me. Back before the Contrarian, I met a lot of men via the Internet, and physically met close to a half dozen. They were all who they purported to be. I was lucky I guess. I met the Contrarian via the Internet, and in a display of utter dumbness, or incredibly acute intuition, gave up my apartment and hired a moving company before I had laid eyes on the man. But we are now into thirteen years of marriage, and a happy one at that. Don’t use me as measure however of the safety of this medium of communication. I am quite sure if you x-ray my skull, you will find the alien implant that suggests I’m just on loan from Planet Glix for an earthly experiment. I think my real occupation, when not being a test subject (think 2 years government service equivalency), is as an online psychic charlatan on the run from three known law suits, and three hybrid brides who were left at the altar.

See, that stuff floats through my head, and just must be when the old implant goes into a defib mode for a few seconds.

Anyway, either Manti or Lance serve once again to remind us that we should never place our adoration at the foot of most any human, for they are just always going to disappoint you in the end by being ALL TOO HUMAN. Or maybe less human in the case of Lance.

Which begs the question, where does one lay one’s adoration? Some find elegance in the medium of mathematics, and indeed I can appreciate the elegance of that. Or the universe itself which has a majesty that is enough for 3,000 lifetimes. One can find enough to adore in the soft breathing of a newborn, a new-born of any species actually. Awe is part of adoration after all, and life awes.

I find a single dandelion growing through the crack in an old sidewalk worthy of adoration. After all, talk about tenacity. Tenacity seems worthy of adoration.

So symmetry,  the miracle of life, and tenacity are in the mix. How about longevity?


There is much to be admired in a face like this. A worn face, a face that has worked, loved, cried, laughed, and somehow continued on.

Eyes that hold a library full of stories.

Hands that have caressed a woman’s cheek and then tightened around a wrench and heaved loose a nut.

Shall we trip the light fantastic and delve into the realm of mystery? Shall we glimpse the ineffable, the transcendent? Are we not in the place of adoration?

Shall we imagine the temperatures and pressures that brought into being the pebble that you walk upon? That came from the rock, that came from the mountain, long broken and sunk back into the landscape? Adore it?

Did all this start in a giggle of a thought about Mitt Romney and his reference to liking “sport” instead of “sports?”

Can we adore the mind that can move across such distance of space and subject,  and still remain stable enough to shop for groceries and watch 30Rock?

You tell me.