liveonearth: (Default)
I read this morning about a doctor who went mad and shot people in a hospital. As a doctor myself, I know that docs have terrible stresses trying to deal with a corrupt medical-industrial system that impairs our ability to help people regain their health. Then I went to look at the NY times article, here: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/30/nyregion/bronx-hospital-shooting.html. He's richly melanated, that is to say, he has lived a life of fear because of his skin color. I infer from his violence that he may have been guilty of the accusation--sexual misconduct. He was a man, and he was angry enough to shoot others and hopeless enough to set himself on fire and shoot himself. He did not see any way out. He knew he would not receive compassion.

What people forget when they demonize any group of humans is that they are human. Dark skinned people. Doctors. Men. Gun owners. Murderers. Whatever group. All humans share the same basic needs. When those needs are not met, we have the same basic emotions. Driven hard enough, any of us could become dangerous. Hitler had reasons. The Arabs that flew airplanes into buildings had reasons. No one is pure evil, we are simply human and if tortured we can lash out, or become cunning.

My hope that that everyone who reads this will take a deep breath or three and think about the kind of pain that drives a person to such horrors. My hope is that compassion will rise in spite of the poisonous atmosphere of shame and blame that dominates our political world. We all deserve an opportunity to be free from fear, long enough to find our centers and our hearts and reach out into the world from that place. It will take a lot of us finding compassion to heal these wounds.
liveonearth: (Default)
The uglification of which I speak didn't exactly start with Ailes (Fox), but he certainly boosted it. One of the hats that I wear is at a natural products pharmacy; we dispense herbs and supplements and a few hormonal products. I spend some time sitting behind the counter simply helping the next person who comes to the window. Most people are decent, kind, and even patient. But lately I've noticed a trend. The proportion of cranky, mean and abusive people is increasing.

Today it was a lady by the name of Hammer. What's in a name, I ask? Did your name make you into a prosecutor in the pharmacy line? How many hammering questions does one have to tolerate before you are satisfied? Is there an inkling of generosity in you? A morsel of patience? An ounce of kindness? I saw none. I experienced questions hammering in faster than they could be answered, demands stacked up while I was trying to answer the questions, topped with an insult. Ms Hammer is just the most recent experience of this sort. There was one yesterday, and the day before more than one. Too bad it's nice people who get cancer and not the bitches.

This is Oregon. People in general are nice here. But not the raving maniac that stabbed two men to death the other day trying to get to some young women who were a different color than him. This disease of condemnation and hatred is seeping deeper and deeper into our culture, and leaking out in more settings all the time. I do not know how to fix it. I don't believe in phony niceness, but I also don't believe in punishing people just because you can. I am sensitive and not cut out to tolerate verbal abuse in the course of my work. I try to contain my anguish until I am in private. Then I weep. I try to be kind to the people that I meet. And I may have to find a way to not serve the public any more.

In Japan they have a name for it. Hikikomori. It's a sociological phenomenon in which people simply stop participating in society. If society is ugly, then decent people will not show up. If decent people do not show up, society will uglify even more. If we all retreat into our tiny little bubbles even more than we already have, the fractures in our supposed union of states and free people becomes null and void. This culture is headed for the bloodbath.
liveonearth: (Default)
As you may know, I am a student of body language, aka nonverbal communication. I've been fascinated by Trump's use of certain gestures, and this video explains their meaning and function. At root, he has hypnotized a great number of people and most likely he did it with these gestures, not with the stunning illogic of his words.

http://www.cnn.com/2017/05/12/opinions/hand-gestures-matter-for-presidents-van-edwards-opinion/index.html

Vitarka mudra
liveonearth: (Math: Be rational/get real)

A president intent on developing

a base of enthusiastic supporters

who believe bald-faced lies

poses a clear threat

to American democracy.

This is how tyranny begins.

--Robert Reich,

here: http://robertreich.org/post/154643782110

liveonearth: (stone arch doorway)
For elitist liberals, the times got so interesting last week that folks are sunk in depression.  The changes that our incoming presidential administration will implement look to be the undoing of generations of work in environmentalism and human rights.  Militant authoritarian nationalism is on the rise world wide.  We have reason to be troubled.

Still, just as before, the world is an amazing place.  It is possible to step back from trying to save it for a few minutes and focus on enjoying it.  We only have this one life, as far as I know, and we can spend it suffering or celebrating.  That is a choice.  To focus on gratitude is to wire your brain to enjoy what you have.  For most of us in this rich nation, we have plenty.  We do not need more.  We are not just making do, we are wasting time playing games or being entertained when we could be doing something productive.

I gain solace from backing away from worrying about my nation, or even my species or my planet.  The Universe is a big place.  Even if this planet experiences nuclear holocaust, something will survive.  Life will persist.  Beauty will rise with each sun.

There is a certain freedom in admitting powerlessness.  I cannot do anything about our new government.  Thus I am free from worrying about it.  I can do something about what happens in my back yard, I have a little more power there.  I will use that power.  If each of us uses our small power to foster love, beauty and joy where we can, we will at least not be miserable.  Life is short and worrying is wasteful.  Act, or don't act.  Or like Yoda says, *There is no try; there is do or do not.*

There is one tool that I'd like to bring back into people's consciousness, and that is NonViolent Communication.  Marshall Rosenberg wrote a book by that title, after studying the Jewish survivors of the Nazi regime.  He discovered that by speaking from a place of our deepest humanity, we can communicate with anyone.  Feelings and needs, we all have them, and we can find consensus when we start from that place.  If you have not read the book I highly recommend it.  If you have read it, I recommend that you refresh your mind on what are Universal feelings and needs, and start using the technique.  At the very least, stop saying "I feel like" when really you are expressing a thought.  It is a misuse of language that leads down a dangerous track.

Last night we watched just a little bit of an old Adam Sandler movie, which was supposed to be funny.  It occurred to me that his style and his movies were a harbinger of what has since come.  His dishonesty, manipulativeness, and ignorance as expressed in his movies are too much like the dominant culture now. It is time to partake in inspiring or educational media or none at all.

Lots more thoughts swirling but I must go.  Be well, and do good work, as Garrison Keillor used to say.
liveonearth: (moon)
This documentary is well worth seeing.  It explains how the 13th Amendment did more than free the slaves, because it had an exception that said criminals could be imprisoned.  A massive cultural effort ensued to criminalize blacks, and our so-called "criminal justice" system was not sufficient to protect them from powerful white men determined to keep them down.

A Netflix documentary (called 13TH) shows us is just how easy it is to criminalize a previously enslaved population.  This history is ugly, and the present is not pretty either.  The percentage of our populace that is behind bars far exceeds that of any other nation, and the percentage of that imprisoned mass that is black or brown in skin color is also ridiculous.  There is definitely something wrong.

13TH was directed by Ana DuVernay who has quite a resume.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ava_DuVernay
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/13TH_(film)
What I learned so far (we haven't finished watching the documentary) )
liveonearth: (Homer Simpson "D'oh!")
I keep reading in the media that the record Latino turnout at the polls is a new "firewall" or somesuch for Democrats.  Well that may apply in this election, but don't count on it in the future.  Latinos are independent and have been provoked to vote for their own interests.  Trump voters have provided a new impetus for the Republican party to stop shafting its lower income voters.  If the R party can respond in any effective way to this challenge it could result in a shift in the demographics of both parties.

*First use of new tag: hispanic.  This population now activated is likely to become a powerful force in US politics.  Too bad they're so Catholic.
liveonearth: (mushroom cloud)
The strongest bias in American politics is not a liberal bias or a conservative bias; it is a confirmation bias, or the urge to believe only things that confirm with what you already believe to be true.  Not only do we tend to seek out and remember information that reaffirms what we already believe, but there is also a "backfire effect", which sees people doubling down on their beliefs after being presented with evidence that contradicts them.  So, where do we go from here?  The only way people will start rejecting falsehoods being fed to them is by confronting uncomfortable truths.
--Emma Roller
in NYTimes.com

Note to self: This bias may not be uniquely American.  A 2016 study confirms that our political beliefs are the ones most resistant to change in spite of new information that refutes them.  It's called Neural Correlates of maintaining one's political beliefs in the face of couterevidence.

WHAT MAKES US RESISTANT TO NEW IDEAS 2016

http://www.nature.com/articles/srep39589

Neural correlates of maintaining one’s political beliefs in the face of counterevidence

Jonas T. Kaplan, Sarah I. Gimbel & Sam Harris

Scientific Reports 6, Article number: 39589 (2016)

doi:10.1038/srep39589

23 December 2016

Abstract

People often discount evidence that contradicts their firmly held beliefs. However, little is known about the neural mechanisms that govern this behavior. We used neuroimaging to investigate the neural systems involved in maintaining belief in the face of counterevidence, presenting 40 liberals with arguments that contradicted their strongly held political and non-political views. Challenges to political beliefs produced increased activity in the default mode network—a set of interconnected structures associated with self-representation and disengagement from the external world. Trials with greater belief resistance showed increased response in the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex and decreased activity in the orbitofrontal cortex. We also found that participants who changed their minds more showed less BOLD signal in the insula and the amygdala when evaluating counterevidence. These results highlight the role of emotion in belief-change resistance and offer insight into the neural systems involved in belief maintenance, motivated reasoning, and related phenomena.

liveonearth: (fist)
Just as Obama's presidency has deeply offended white supremacists and caused a resurgence of lively xenophobia in America, Clinton's impending presidency is bringing out the long-quiet depressed white guy who just hates women.  Why?  They wouldn't sleep with him, left him, weren't good to him when he needed it?  His mother did him wrong?  These sentiments that have come into public life are troubling and far too private really to be on T-shirts and election posters.  The loss of civility, and respect for reason, are devastating losses.  How can we come together as a nation when people talk this way to each other?  Are we headed back toward the civil war, when the south refused to accept Abraham Lincoln as their president and seceeded?

I am flying to Tennessee on the day after the election.  The town where my parents live--Oak Ridge--is not your average southern town.  It has a national laboratory in it, full of elitists with education Pile High and Deep.  Oak Ridge has so many scientists that the general world view of assimilating new information and coming up with new, reason-based theories, is part of the town culture.  Tennessee itself is not really fully southern, having been split by the Mason-Dixon line and with families on both sides of the civil war divide.  Still, I am curious to see what I will find the day after the election.

Bitch.  I have been called this.  Always by men.  Always by men who wanted me to do something other than what I chose to do.  Always by men who were unable to control or manipulate me.  They hated that I had a mind of my own.  They wanted me to bow down to their will.   I am not bitchy; I do not strike out for vengance.  I want only the same freedoms that men themselves expect, without having to be called names.  Without being told "calm down honey".  Clinton is in for as many years of verbal abuse as she is in office, plus some.  I thank her in advance for her strength and restraint in the face of the onslaught.  I am grateful that Obama has modeled for all of us the finest in human decency.  You dudes out there who say he is divisive: you are projecting.

I am not for "trigger warnings" and the extremes of political correctness that some youngsters seem to be demanding in college.  Buck up I say, and realize that some people take for granted what is exceptional to you, and vice versa.  Learn to self-soothe, to calm yourself in the face of alarming or disturbing realities or even art.  If you must protect yourself from certain things, do it yourself, do not expect the rest of us to tiptoe around you forevermore.  Friends are kept away like slugs when you are surrounded by eggshells.  Life is rich and lucious and sometimes the spice burns.  Eat it anyway.  Feel the feelings and realize that feelings are not you, they are something temporary that passes through you.  This too shall pass.  Racists: our first black president is about to step down and thousands of us will miss him terribly.  Sexists: our first female president is about to win.  Get used to it.  Whatever the reason for your bias, it is not acceptable.  We're moving on.

These interesting times are about to get even more interesting.
liveonearth: (Oprah_shocked)

If the consequence
of standing against [Donald] Trump
and for principles
is indeed the election of
Hillary Clinton,
so be it.

--Glen Beck

liveonearth: (moon)
What Clinton's remark broadcasted is how little she thinks of conservatives in general. Her tone was so dismissive ("you name it") as to suggest that every xenophobe on the planet was unworthy of having skin. What she obviously doesn't understand is that we are all conservative at our roots, until these basic feelings are educated out of us, or overridden by culture.  Xenophobes are people too.

It has a lot to do with who we grow up with.  If we grow up in an educated multi-ethnic culture, then ethnicity no longer has such a charge.  But if we are acculturated in a homogenous group, we will feel more comfortable with people of our same kind.  This is the instinctive basis of xenophobia. It is reasonable to be cautious around people whose values are unknown to you, and whose behavior is not predictable.

Xenophobia can be trained in at any stage of life.  I have suffered the hate of the Navajo and Apache when living and traveling in Arizona.  I understand why they hate the white eyes, because I do too, but I personally do not deserve their bad treatment.  Still, I got the bad treatment, and now when I see a tribal member I am on guard.  The same thing has happened to me here in Portland.  I had always liked and respected every Jew I ever met. Then I was mistreated by an attending Jewish doctor who took offense at me saying the words "a Jew" because in her mind she inserted the word "dirty". That word was not in my mind until she explained to me how offensive it was for me to say "a Jew", and then threatened to flunk me, sanctioned me through the college and required that I take cultural competency training. Other Jews near to me have hurt my feelings since then, and I have developed a reaction to Jews that I did not have before, when I lived in Denver next door to the Ashkenazis and thought they were really decent folk.

In spite of all my education and knowing things, I have feelings that are influenced by what happens to me in my life. Does this make me deplorable?

Oh, and all you decent men out there who think that you are not sexist. If you were born and raised in the U.S. you are sexist. Ask any European, male or female. I am a woman. I have never made anywhere near as much money as my partner, in my opinion because he has a penis. Yesterday I drove a vehicle up to a boat inspection station on the highway and the man with the clipboard came up and started asking questions of a man who got out of the passenger door. At the gas station the attendant speaks to the men first. Men here invariably address men first when approaching a couple. This seems like a tiny offense, but compounded into the reality of daily life, a woman knows that this is still a man's world. Clinton knows it all too well. American men, including educated ones, are unconscious of this kind of sexism "lite".  There's no stoning here, but men are not aware of the degree to which they are programmed to be sexist, and should spend more time in introspection around this. I think part of the problem conservatives have with lesbians is the men have no one they can talk to.

I realize I'm making a bunch of generalizations, just like Clinton did. My point is that these base impulses are present in the vast majority of all humanity, and Americans are clearly not above it. Our culture seems to be regressing. In my lifetime I have watched our society and politics become obnoxious. Substantive debate is rare, name calling commonplace. If there is to be a conversation between opposing sides, there must first be respect. Respect is a Universal human need. People denied respect are hostile and possibly subversive.

Liberals in general need to stop denigrating conservatives and dig deep enough into themselves to understand the conservative position. Conservatives need to educate themselves to articulate their concerns and rationales clearly to others. Everyone needs to start with the assumption that the other guys are decent humans just trying to do the right thing, the best way they know how. Then the conversation can begin.
liveonearth: (moon)
Listening to the media reports about Trump and Clinton, I understand the frustration of the majority of voters.  Most of us know that the "establishment" politicians, like Clinton, are part and parcel with the corporatocracy that has made our two party system a joke.  The two parties are simply different faces of the same government which is beholden to big business and rich investors.  While the Democrats make more of an effort to care for the most impoverished, neither side is actually effective at reducing poverty.  The Republicans assert that the poor are not helped by a free ride, and this may be true.  It is true that during the Great Depression here in the US, people got healthier.

Trump, on the other hand, is not part of the "establishment" except in so far as he is rich, and he is stupid enough to become their tool, just as Shrub did.  His daily empty statements, like what I just heard that he "will win" 95% of the black American vote, are lunacy.  There is no way that he is getting 95% of any vote, except perhaps of those white male voters who are angry and desperate enough to commit suicide but would rather have someone else do it for them.  I understand the line of thought that says "crash this train", that is to say, destroying our corporatocracy is the first step toward building something new.  This is more the approach of libertarians who understand that big business will not be dethroned by small measures.  Electing Trump would be a drastic measure that could crash this train, except for the fact that the corporate Republican powers will feed his ego and narcissism and keep him busy and distracted by giving him televised glory while they run things.  In other words, it won't work.  Electing Trump will not derail the corporate train.

The Libertarian and Green candidates are relatively attractive in this election.  Unfortunately the Libertarians appear to be almost as "estalishment" as Clinton, see Gary Johnson's positions here.  Jill Stein of the Green party is a physician and one smart cookie, and she actually makes the most sense to me of any of the candidates.  She knows that our two-party system is broken, and she addresses that question and others with a raft of information instead of party lines or defund-it-all ideology.

I do not know what it would take to persuade a majority of voters to choose third-party candidates, but I pray that I live to see it.  At this moment it appears to me that Clinton will win because so many people are terrified of the specter of a Trump presidency.  His racism, bogus claims and impetuous thin-skinned personality are enough to disqualify him for all but the most blindered of voters.  It is true that if he were elected the Republican party would attempt to control him, but we all know that he would be more likely to push the nuclear button than any other president in living memory.  While it bears discussing why we refrain from using nukes, just as it bears discussing why we can't as a society afford freeloaders, we might want to discuss it very well before we hand any control to a tool such as Trump.

I am sure I've mentioned it before, but it is my belief that in order to build a majority that can beat both established parties, we need to build a bridge between the far right Libertarians and the far left Greens.  When this happens we might actually wrest our democracy back from its service to business.  It would be heralded as a great crisis, just like the Brexit vote, but don't believe everything you hear in the news.  A reduction in our GDP might be good for us.  More unemployment is not an entirely bad thing.  We Americans need to get back to the project of taking good care of ourselves and our dear ones, building community, and being real people face to face with other real people.  This wealthy life of internet and automobiles has created a Great Satan that is making us sad.

** first use of tag: green party
liveonearth: (moon)
If you don't want the culture clock turned back to the 50's, you better muster the guts to get registered and turn out to cast your ballot.  Else the progress we've made in terms of tolerance and social justice will be undone, by Rump and his old white guy fans.  You may not like Hillary much better, but that doesn't matter.  Vote.  Vote for anybody.  Vote for a third party.  Vote for someone you actually agree with.  Vote for Hillary to be sure Rump doesn't get in.  Vote against destruction, because a Trump presidency will not only finish off the Republican party, but it will also devastate the American Dream.  Be a part of the process and keep the old white guys from making you irrelevant and thoughtlessly destroying any good relations we have with other nations.
liveonearth: (Oprah_shocked)

"It seems inappropriate that I would debate the second place finisher," Trump said in a statement, referring to Sanders' likely loss to Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination.
--found it on the Week

full news release:

- MAY 27, 2016 -

DONALD J. TRUMP STATEMENT ON DEBATING BERNIE SANDERS

Based on the fact that the Democratic nominating process is totally rigged and Crooked Hillary Clinton and Deborah Wasserman Schultz will not allow Bernie Sanders to win, and now that I am the presumptive Republican nominee, it seems inappropriate that I would debate the second place finisher. Likewise, the networks want to make a killing on these events and are not proving to be too generous to charitable causes, in this case, women’s health issues. Therefore, as much as I want to debate Bernie Sanders -  and it would be an easy payday - I will wait to debate the first place finisher in the Democratic Party, probably Crooked Hillary Clinton, or whoever it may be.

**1st use of "rump" and "assumption" tags

liveonearth: (moon)

NY TIMES OPINION PIECE: MOLLY WORTHEN SAYS STOP SAYING “I FEEL LIKE”

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/01/opinion/sunday/stop-saying-i-feel-like.html

The PC-ness and softening of modern verbal communications has results in a net loss of meaning.  We can fix this, if we want.  Behind the cut is a good article arguing for awareness of this one particular phrase.  "I feel like" is often used to replace the words "I think", and it is not a feeling at all.  Feelings, that is emotions, are quite distinct from thoughts and judgements.  To be clear in our communications requires that we recognize and communicate that difference.

Read more... )

liveonearth: (business dance)

What's distinctive about Sanders is not (or not simply) that he's an ideological purist who refuses to think pragmatically but that he just doesn't know or care very much about the details of how the world works, how to affect concrete change, and what the possible unintended consequences of major changes is likely to be. He'd rather rally the troops and give a rousing speech.
--Damon Linker in the Week, here:
http://theweek.com/articles/617065/bernie-sanders-hollow-aspirational-politics

I share this quote because I disagree.  I think that Bernie sees the writing on the wall, that this crash will either happen sooner and in an intentional way, or later in an even more devastating way.  Take apart the banks, or watch them take us apart.  Re-establish human decency or take care of just yourself.  This crossroads leads one way, the other way is inconceivable.  You just can't change directions when there is so much momentum.  Not without a crash.  Bernie knows that many people will die in the process, that poor people will loose the game, and that over generations rich people will be able to relocate to wherever they need to go to survive and propagate.  Idiocracy will come to pass if tRump is any indication of wealthy breeding.

I thought since the beginning that this polarity between tRump and Bernie is representative of the deepest cultural fissure in this nation.  It has been fascinating to watch it play out.

To assert that Bernie doesn't know how the world works is a pretty low blow.  He knows.  His heart broke a long time ago.  Now he's trying to do something to change it.  I appreciate his efforts and I wish that he'd team up with my old buddy Ron Paul (he's not too old) and connect the political circle.  If anybody knows what's going on, it's these old dudes.

liveonearth: (Volume 11 spinal tap)

Only a crisis - actual or perceived - produces real change.
When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken
depend on the ideas that are lying around.
That, I believe, is our basic function:
to develop alternatives to existing policies,
to keep them alive and available
until the politically impossible becomes
the politically inevitable.

--Milton Friedman

liveonearth: (moon)
I'm not talking about the ignorant rebels who've been co-opted by corporate Republican interests and convinced to vote against their own best interests.  I'm talking about those Tea Party thinkers who know that our government is run by and for big business (not "the people"), and would like to do something about it.

This is what I've been talking about.  The possibility that the left wing and the right wing could reach around the back of the government bird and strangle the business creature that is riding on its back.

*first use of tag: Bernie

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