Meandering Musings Week 4, 2017

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Some time ago I bought some mixed nuts with the intention of making my own trail mix. Being lazy as I am, I procrastinated on the trail mix making. In the meantime, my girlfriend ate about half of my mixed nuts. This was no big deal until I noticed she ate almost everything but the almonds.

One political thought this week: After hearing about how Russian hacking influenced the election about 100 times too many, I decided to do some research. I have searched for scientific polling to see how many votes might’ve changed based on anything that can possibly traced to Russian hacking. I’ve found nothing. My own non-scientific polling has found nothing. If anyone can find some scientific polling to suggest widespread (or even any) change in votes that can possibly be traced to Russian hacking, let me know. In the meantime, I’d rather focus on future elections with the knowledge that excuses don’t win elections.

One more, sort of: Analyzing, diagnosing, harassing, insulting, and every other type of personal attack on the Trump family and even the man himself will not do anything helpful. It gives his supporters fuel to dismiss and criticize opponents. It also further alienates people in the middle tired of the constant mud-slinging. So can we stop with all of that already? Remember all the talk of going high? If you want to resist the conservative agenda, the answer is simple (borrowing a bit from the Clinton ’92 campaign): Focus on policy, stupid.

I chose not to participate in any Women’s Marches. I could and probably should write something much longer about my reasoning. In a nutshell, it’s because I’m not a woman. I also feel cautious about joining in commentary about Women’s Marches, but I’ve been troubled by a lot of the liberal criticism I’ve seen. I definitely think they could’ve been better, more accessible, more inclusive, etc. On the other hand, the “all-or-nothing” tone I see from many critiques is much more frightening. “All-or-nothing” thinking is what helped inspire these events.

I had a dream that I was locked up for a psych evaluation based in part on my social media posts. So maybe I should stop with the random social media posts.

What Is a Safe Space?

One of the issues I find when people talk about safe spaces is that people have different definitions. What feels safe for one might feel unsafe for others.

Making a safe space is incredibly difficult, perhaps not entirely possible. The safest spaces I’ve found have had one thing in common: Leaders are open to listening and changing to make the group better.

Still, finding the definition of a “safe space” continues to be a challenge. If I were to offer my own quick definition, it would be where people can freely express their thoughts/feelings/beliefs, particularly when those might not be popular. Certain controls still need to be in place. Harassment, berating, and even general rudeness can make such a setting unsafe for the expression of different ideas. Ultimately, I think it often comes down to this question: For whom is this a “safe space”?

Triggers are often brought up when discussing safe spaces. Offering trigger warnings is something I favor and do my best to practice. I have no desire to shock people and/or cause them adverse reactions. On the other hand, my triggers are so many and varied that no one could possibly warn me before every trigger. In the past few months, I’ve been triggered by things like noticing the date on the calendar and encountering a particular breed of dog. Furthermore, this again goes back to “safe for whom”? If I’m not allowed to talk about any of the traumas I’ve experienced, others might feel safe, but I certainly don’t.

I’ve been a part of several groups that call themselves “safe spaces”, but I often find they don’t fit my definition. Many of the people in these groups are of liberal political leanings. In virtually every case, I’ve found people in the group who are not but don’t feel safe saying so. Perhaps if we made people safer to express themselves openly, we could have more civil discourse. But that’s a different discussion, perhaps for another time.

Ultimately, I’m not sure if a truly safe space is possible, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t keep trying. If we ever hope to achieve the society we want, we must keep trying. I believe that will start with us listening to each other even (and especially) when we don’t like the ideas being expressed.

This post began with a discussion among some of us in the group #LinkYourLife Connection. Here are some of their posts:

Harmony

What an online safe space is and isn’t

Why this one life hack will change your life forever

The importance of safe spaces and how to understand them better

Safe Space for Our Voices

Heavy Lifting: Accountability, ego and a safe team environment

How bringing others in improves healing and progress

For whom is this space safe?
For whom is this space safe?

Meandering Musings Week 3, 2017

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It’s inauguration week. So this will be heavy on politics but end a little lighter.

I won’t be watching the inauguration. That’s not a political statement. I’ve never watched, and I wouldn’t if Hillary Clinton had won. I’m just not that into pomp and ceremony.

I have taken an occasional peek at cabinet confirmation hearings. I’ve been displeased with most of the selections, but the lack of respect for people and the process has been horribly disappointing. Donald Trump was heavily criticized for interrupting at the debates. I’ve seen the same from respected Senators, including Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. These hearings are meant to vet nominees for cabinet positions, not for people to campaign.

I can’t get with the #resistTrump movement. I just watched eight years of people trying to resist the President because they didn’t want him to win and hoped he would fail. I’ll resist policies I find objectionable, but I can’t subscribe to a philosophy of resisting a person.

One of the great failings of the liberal/progressive movement and the Democratic party is that they are overly focused on opposition instead of advocacy. See the item above for one example. If we liberals hope to succeed, we need to focus on what we believe in (i.e. civil rights, equality, etc.). To fight hate, we need to focus on what and who we love.

I voted for Hillary Clinton. I personally know people who voted Trump, Johnson, or Stein. Each of them had their reasons to vote FOR their particular candidate. Not one of them thought of it as a vote AGAINST any other candidate. Maybe we should keep that in mind next time and focus on the candidate we do want to elect rather than one we don’t.

For the record, I still think Donald Trump is a predator. On the other hand, many people (even ones who didn’t vote Trump) think Hillary Clinton is an enabler. I have often been dismissive of allegations of sexual harassment/assault against Bill Clinton as well as Hillary’s possible role in cover-ups. I need to do better. I need to do my homework.

And now some predictions for the next four years and beyond:
  • Donald Trump will not be impeached. (As I’ve written before, President Pence sounds way scarier anyway.)
  • The Democrats’ nominee for President in 2020 will be someone other than Bernie Sanders or Joe Biden. My money is on at least one of them not even running.
  • Donald Trump will not win a second term. I don’t expect he’ll run either.
  • Ronald Reagan will hold the record for the oldest American President for at least another decade. (This is at least in part doubling down on earlier predictions. Reagan was a few weeks shy of 78 when he left office. Trump would break the record late in a second term. Sanders or Biden would break it upon inauguration.)

My regular paying job is working at a group home for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. One day after having lunch, one little lady who lives there grabbed my arm, leaned over to me, and burped non-stop for several seconds. Having surprised herself, she leaned back, gathered herself, and then leaned back in with the same results. This time, though, there were two long burps. Finally, she managed to speak and told me, “Good cook.” I wasn’t the one who had cooked lunch, but I took the compliments anyway.

Meandering Musings Week 2, 2017

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Writing was so much easier when I was hypomanic. Life was not so good, but writing was definitely easier.

One of the problems with fake news is that we tend to denounce only sites with disagreeable viewpoints. No one who reads Breitbart cares how I feel about that site. I see as much fake news from Occupy Democrats as I do anywhere else, but I rarely see them called on it.

I’ve always been ambivalent about the death penalty leaning heavily toward opposing it. That stance, however, does get weakened sometimes such as when I heard that Clementa Pinckney’s murderer was sentenced to die. (I won’t write the murderer’s name. I explained why in a long-ago post.)

A former USA Gymnastics doctor who used to work at my alma mater has been sued by 18 more young women and girls saying he sexually abused them. He is already facing criminal charges for sexual abuse of one victim in state court and for child pornography in federal court. He was denied bail by a federal judge who deemed him a risk to the community. Still, people keep saying he’s innocent until proven guilty. How come nobody ever says that in the wake of a mass shooting?

I know nothing about Backpage. I have no issue with prostitution by consenting adults. (Nevada has provided a good model for legalization and regulation.) However, I also realize that many prostitutes are not consenting and are victims of human trafficking. My hometown’s former county prosecutor coerced multiple women into prostitution and used Backpage as well as similar sites for solicitation. So I can’t join the outrage over the shutdown of Backpage’s adult services section. It’s not just a simple matter of free speech and/or consensual sex.

(Side notes for that last item: That former county prosecutor is currently serving a one-year jail sentence for his crimes. He refused to prosecute the former USA Gymnastics doctor mentioned in the prior item after complaints were filed in 2014.)

The real conspiracy in American politics is the alienation of the middle. Every side talks trash about their opponent, often espousing grand conspiracy theories. It never solves anything. Meanwhile, a large portion of the population just tunes out and doesn’t bother voting. In case you forgot, more REGISTERED voters cast no ballot in a recent nationwide election than for any candidate ever.

I never used to get the whole positive mindset thing. I figured I was too cynical and grumpy. I’ve come to realize it’s similar to things I’ve been saying for years. A couple of examples: Why bother complaining about some singer I don’t like when there are plenty I do? If you don’t want this particular candidate to win, focus on the one you do want to win. So I might give a little more of this positive mindset stuff a try.

I’ll be starting an experiment soon. It’s completely non-scientific but almost certain to confirm at least one bias I already hold.

A funny thing happened at work the other day, and I’ve had Patrick Swayze’s one hit stuck in my head. So now I stick it with you.

Rattling Change: 99-Word Flash

Written for the Carrot Ranch Communications prompt “rattling”.

Rattling Change

It seemed like he never stopped rattling the change in his pocket. From time to time someone would get annoyed and ask him to stop.

“Sure thing,” he’d say. “I’ll stop just as soon as I’m dead.”

Years later at his funeral, I couldn’t help but rattle the change in my pocket. As people turned to look at me, I pointed to his casket and said, “It wasn’t me. He lied.”

He would’ve liked that joke.

Meandering Musings Week 1, 2017

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It seems people may have forgotten that Ronda Rousey is the reason women even got a chance to participate in UFC. I don’t care if she ever wins or even competes in another fight. I’ll always be a fan. Besides, she could still whoop my ass.
I was reading this hilarious and potentially embarrassing post, and it inspired me to tell a potentially embarrassing story about myself: Once when I was in the Army, I was walking back to post hungover after a night of making an ass of myself. There was no one-night stand involved for me. It was just a bunch of me being loud and obnoxious and making people wonder what was wrong with me. The real problem was my walk was happening on a Sunday morning as a chaplain with whom I was well acquainted pulled over and offered me a ride. That convinced me to quit drinking (again). For like a week or so.
For the new year, I’m working on a few projects. One of them is not giving a shit. I’m trying to write and say all the things in my head that I know will be unpopular. I’ve experimented with it in some small doses. It’s been surprisingly fun.
I also find that letting out my grumpiness in this and other forms makes me way less grumpy. It’s like pooping or something.
Some months ago I heard an interview with a famous comedian who said he could no longer watch or listen to Bill Cosby. Minutes later he spoke of his lifelong (and ongoing) love of Woody Allen. Legally speaking, neither has been proven to have committed sexual assault or abuse, but somehow one seems to be viewed as guilty and the other innocent. I wonder what the difference is. Could it be the strength of their feelings for one over the other? Could it be the number of accusers? Could it be race?
Here are some potentially unpopular predictions for 2017:
  • Donald Trump will not be impeached. (President Pence sounds way scarier anyway.)
  • A lot of famous people will die.
  • Several people will become briefly famous for no real reason.
  • A celebrity will be revealed to be a predator/criminal/horrible person and have their actions defended and/or ignored by people not wanting to believe someone who did something admirable could also do something horrible.
  • Many people will change their Facebook profile pictures for an event.
  • Other people will complain that no one is changing their Facebook profile picture for a similar event.
  • An online petition will be “signed” by a large number of people, accomplish nothing, and be quickly forgotten. This cycle will repeat several times.
  • People of every ideological stripe will continue to buy into uninformed hype that reinforces their previously held biases.
  • Not much will really change because we will continue to expect the world to change without changing our own individual selves.

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