Watching the decline...

Tag Archives: Hope

Should Minorities, Liberals, Progressives etc. Arm Themselves? : An Addendum

Edited on 7/26 for awkward wordiness. And a link.

One of the things I missed in my first go round here that should have been obvious is the fact that having something in common with those who you oppose politically can be a bridge builder. In my wrestling with this topic and in speaking with gun enthusiasts and owners across the spectrum I’ve found that being educated on the topic of guns, holding, firing and identifying them, the political side of the debate is softened a bit.

There are people who I’ve met, mostly online, who think the idea of a liberal gun owner is ridiculous, who routinely make fun of the same liberals who they claimed were ignorant on guns and berate us for speaking about something we don’t know about.  Yet when we do educate ourselves, and come around somewhat to understanding their position, they mock us still. Those people will never be reached, they have put up a wall against liberals and progressives as thick as the walls of their safes and no longer see us as people. There are equivalent people on the left to be sure, intolerant elitists who make fun of what they don’t even try to understand, I have occasionally been one of them and sometimes still am.

The bottom line is this though, we need to respect each other even if we don’t like each other and every single conversation I have with someone who does not share my values is made less difficult through a common bond, if shooting is that bond, in any form, so be it.

Yeah I’m Late, So What???

The Dream

On this 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King I’d like to say a few things.

We are, despite our division, in a much better place then we were in 1968.

Despite that we still have a long way to go.

For anyone who wonders if the words and actions of the civil rights movement still have relevance, remember that within most living people’s lifetime there were laws that restricted citizen’s rights to marry, travel and raise children.

That… economic strength, passed on through the generations, was not as strong for women and communities of color, if you were a woman of color things were at least twice as hard.

That… the modern middle class was built on the strength of a massive war effort and the financial benefits that came with it, and that African-Americans were largely exempted from those benefits. These foundations were even further distant when considering that discriminatory hiring, firing and salaries were common and when African-Americans tried to band together to demand better conditions violence always ensued.

The current conditions, economic disparities supported by racist assumptions that are now being used to prove those very assumptions, have been with us a very long time. If the country is over 200 years old and Civil Rights have been in place by law for 50 of those years, even assuming everyone instantly got the rights they deserved, which they didn’t, we have been a bigoted country supported by racist institutions for 3/4 of our existence.

Making it personal, If you have made any “mistakes” in your 20’s are 50 and are still paying for them you are, those mistakes put you about where we are as a country now, older and not really all that much wiser.

Post-racialism is a myth concocted by people who hope we get too lazy to do the math or too distracted to not look at the calendar. If we do nothing else lets not forget that we are only a short few steps into this new paradigm and it isn’t too early to lose it all.

RIP MLK 4/4/1968

 

Those Fucking Ads!!!

I make no money off this site, let me say that up front.

I think in the entire two years I’ve been doing this I have made a total of 5 bucks off the ads I placed here last year. That’s less than virtually no money because the big G won’t let you cash out until $100, it is exactly ZERO dollars cash flow.

My intention from the outset was never to make money, paying the hosting charges would be nice, but until recently I had so little traffic that I couldn’t even hope to do that.  So if you’ve stuck around since I’ve placed the initial sidebar ad you will have noticed some new ones popping up in the posts. I’m still not sure how I feel about them.

I find ads annoying, but if I ever want to do anything in my real life to at least break even, I have to find a way to pay for the site. I don’t care if I make anything above and beyond breaking even, but breaking even would be a blessing of the highest magnitude.

So please don’t be put off by the ads, they are not the result of some malicious code or adware you may have downloaded with your bitcoin mining software or through download.com, they are simply a way for me to keep from asking my meager audience to fund me directly. Many of my favorite sites including WHTM do pledge drives, but they also have far more regular visits.

So please try to ignore the ads, and if you will, click-through every once in a while to help a brother out.

Thanks.

Does a Good Guy With a Gun, Stop a Bad Guy With a Gun?

Sometimes, yes.

A few small caveats though, this guy was a trained former NRA instructor, the town had no police force and he hesitantly engaged.

Oh, and Bullshit sir, you ARE a hero.

THIS!!!!

I’m not fond of the Obama as savior aspect of this, but it does feel remarkably prescient. Post-presidential second acts in this day and age are often as or more potent than their presidencies.

The Case for “All Lives Matter”

Edited on 10/12/17 because the first time around I just don’t give a f***!

Edited 9/8/17 because brought to you by the letter “M.”

Edited (yet again) on 8/10/2018 for a few misplaced (s)s and slightly augmented wording.

Can we re-purpose a reactionary frame?

Can we take something not quite patently offensive, but triggering and reshape it to mean something that can unite rather than divide? Can a community of people, who already feel burdened with the explainer role, manage again to unify under something they mainly feel is a bastardization and outright insult to the movement they identify with?

If we’ve learned anything from the election of Donald Trump, we should take away this, using the language of the oppressed to claim oppression works, but can the opposite work as well.

When I’d seen the statement “All Lives Matter” in response to BLM, I cringed. I knew it was a reactionary, angry, reflexive response to a needed if not fully appreciated movement. It angered me that people who know better should have understood that killing an unarmed member of any community should be denounced, that people who should know that there is a disparity between the way young Black men are seen and treated in our society, and the way young white men are treated. That Black Lives Matter, of course, wasn’t a statement of exclusivity but one of defense. That the implication that ONLY Black Lives Matter was NOT part of this declaration, nor was the implication that Black Lives Matter MORE, but it was merely that Black Lives Matter AS WELL.

There is much to be said about how we got here, much hand wringing to be done about how history had drawn a clear line to this moment and how forces, both seen and unseen have forced these confrontations.

For context, I suggest reading some of the books on slavery or civil rights or some of the more inclusive books on American history A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn is a good place to start.

I’m not getting into context here, it’s too obvious to me and would distract from my point. Plus, I believe we should all be more responsible for exposing ourselves to the context of the history of the country of which we so effulgently pronounce our love.

One of the things I have learned about messaging is that sometimes to do it effectively; you have to give up some deeply held preconceptions. You have to resort to some to the tricks of the oppressor, if you will, and one-up them by playing their game. There are limits to this, of course, but within those limits is where progress can be potentially made.

Appropriation is a hot-button term. It evoked Native headdresses or kente cloth; it evokes everything from girls in yoga pants to Rachel Dolezal.

It doesn’t deserve the reputation it has. Appropriation is, in some cases, the same thing as acceptance, it is the brother or sister or transgendered, polyamorous, biracial neighbor of cultural assimilation. McDonald’s appropriated images of Black families in print ads to appeal to the people it was trying to sell burgers to, advertising, in general, appropriates members of audiences it wants to reach, and this is often called “inclusion.”

My feelings are half and half. Half of me welcomes the representation because it brings visibility and half of me knows the motivation is to sell a product. In many cases, even this gives a certain amount of arrival cred but still begs the motivation question. Yet, for whatever reason, it’s better to be seen in a positive light than a negative one, though it can be argued that this isn’t all that positive:

but is was certainly better than this:

Appropriation can be a gateway to conversation and understanding, or it can be a gross misuse of a symbolic cultural totem. I think its time for us to use the poseur of appropriation on the All Lives Matter crowd.

It makes sense that reactionary forces would seize on an approximation of a statement that virtually says the same thing. In this era of lack of imagination, lack of the ability to see things in shades of grey, and lack of connection across lines of partisanship, we have been unable to ask each other, “so what exactly do you mean by that?’ instead of reflexively attacking each other over our perception of that meaning.

So let’s start out by saying that all lives do matter. Black, White, Mexican, Gay, Straight, tall and short, cis, queer, nongender specific, Cops who occupy all of the other identities as well and are both sheltered and wrongly maligned, we can even go as radically far as to say that plants, animals….all life is important. The human variety is where we’ll focus for the moment though, let’s just say that all human experience is valuable.

Now we can get into a little trouble here in our appropriation as we often do when trying to be inclusive, how far is too far? So if the whole point of this is a marketing strategy (and make no mistake, the most efficient way to convey this message is through that means), who is the intended audience?

Assuming the target audience is the former Obama voting Trump devotee, a person who, right or wrong, thinks he is now in the minority, who assumes that being white has somehow become a liability, despite all evidence to the contrary, and now feels he must pull back into an enclave of reactionary juxtaposition. We aren’t going for the 1% White Lives Matter crowd, they are lost and never wanted to be a part of this new America anyway. Calling out the hypocritical other and also the people who genuinely don’t understand why All Lives Matter is such a divisive statement by appropriating the tag is a tact worth pursuing.

Re-branding as All Lives Matter, re-purposing with inclusion in mind of the people of all races that have been discounted and ignored, bringing in law enforcement of all races to have a dialog about how people are not treated equally and to what degree. Actually TALKING to each other about these vital issues under a moniker that doesn’t seem to exclude.

Maybe All Lives Matter can be a vital starting point to challenge the notion that they do conceptually and working on how they can actually.

Taking advantage of the short memories of Americans to change things in the long-term may be sneaky, but it can also be useful. From a marketing standpoint, it would be as brilliant a coup as turning a brand that had been wrongly associated with Nazi Germany into a brand that appeals to the Spanish-speaking among us.

In the world of spin, anything is possible.

 

 

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The Con / Try

Edited on 8/11 for comma exploitation and a sentence of clarification.

 

Geekly (and confessional) Stuff Ahead: You Have Been Forewarned!

For the past few years (5 maybe 6?) I’ve attended the local fandom convention.

The first year it was a revelation, the kids and the smattering of adults, formed a community of people gathered primarily because of a love for Anime, Sci Fi, Horror and Video Games and secondarily because we were all misfits. All consigned to a bin that contained every aspect of what we found appealing, a bin that was often, in wider circles was left on the curb, rejected by even the garbage man.

Those first years were strange and beautiful, full of unexpected camaraderie and kid-in-a-candy-store glee. One year an impromptu dance party in front of the sword vendor broke out, and I witnessed one of those rare moments of perfect chaos. As Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky”  played through a boom box the vendor set up a crowd of cosplayers, mashing together various weird and wonderful takes on genres, gyrated, stumbled and displayed many different levels of dexterity, and no one stood in judgment.

There was an unabashed sense of joy in that, dancing like no one was watching, and that entire weekend was that, joyful. It was the apex of that experience.

In the last few years, some moments came close, seeing George Takei, watching Nana Visitor and Michael Dorn banter on about DS9, listening to Dorn talk about flying with the Blue Angels…but nothing as sublime as an impromptu outbreak of dance. That moment expressed the joy of being surrounded by a bunch of weirdos where I felt I belonged.

In subsequent years the Con has gotten bigger, expanded beyond the confines of the convention center, tried various configurations and scheduling arrangements and failed or succeeded at all. But it just isn’t the same anymore.

Perhaps I’ve just grown out of it, or maybe my life circumstances have changed enough to warrant feeling a bit too old for the proceedings. Maybe it changed, or maybe as many relationships do, we’ve grown apart. Maybe we just need some distance, a break perhaps.

I love the idea of being surrounded by people who may have only one voluntary thing in common, but that thing is so compelling that it ties them together as no involuntary thing can. I love that because we are all geeks of some sort, we find ourselves, regardless of age or any other factor, able to dress like someone or something that doesn’t exist. I love that people who would otherwise be feeling very much alone, get to feel a part of a group of people who often feel the same.

This year lacked something though; it lacked my attention. I was elsewhere for a large part of the Con, I didn’t want to be fully there, and that translated to me not being fully present. I was lost in some internal drama that was largely of my making.

Which leads me to the next thought.

I am not the best communicator in my personal life. I have realized that in many of my closest relationships I retreat into a state of CYA (cover your ass). It stems from a few things that I’ve been born into but it comes from a distinct place of fear. Fear of missing out, fear of making people angry with me, fear of abandonment and fear of being unlovable. All of these swirl and combine with all the bad stuff I’ve let myself become to make for a terrible mix sometimes.

I wait until the last-minute to avoid the confrontation I bring on myself. I have a hard time being honest about being frank with myself and therefore others, and I sometimes confuse the right thing with the best thing to do in any given situation. Sometimes I know what exactly none of that means.

I’m trying to be honest now. Honesty isn’t just telling the truth of the moment but telling the truth period. Not trying to play one off another and not trying to be everyone’s friend, not lying about my foreknowledge of things and then hoping they’ll not work out as shittily as I know they will.

My enjoyment of my life, the Con, my loved ones and myself are at stake. Honestly, I don’t know what else to do but try.

I Woke to Find Everything Vanished, and I Smiled a Little

I’m finding myself again in a particular state of consternation over other’s expectations of me. Everyone seems to have an idea as to what I should be doing and how I should be doing it.  People who don’t seem to realize that I’ve done and continue to do my level best to fulfill my obligations to them keep demanding more, so much so that this stone is about out of blood.

I’m looking down the road to a potentially major life change that will affect all my relationships going forward. When I mentioned this potential to a certain parental figure I got a disinterested sigh and a couple of self-serving questions about relocation, then there was a call telling me to do something that I’d been doing more of anyway. Yeah, I couldn’t be vaguer.

So in the past two weeks, I’ve received calls, text messages and email imploring me to take up some forgotten task or fulfill some unfinished obligation or to chide me for some life choice that someone else close to me does not agree with. It seems to have spread to my work life as well, as one of my coworkers had the nerve to, without irony (she’s a talker), tell me that leaving early one day “fucks the rest of us.” Unironically because she does about as much talking as she does work, more likely more of the former than the latter, every single shift she’s on.  She also has no idea who I am or how much I work. Assuming your small window into a relative stranger’s world shows you the entire picture is a sin punishable by a hearty “fuck you!”

So yeah, this is a bitching post, so let us get right to the bitching, shall we?

I’m wholly sick and fucking tired of everyone asking still more of me than I already give. Whether it be assuming small financial obligations out of the kindness of my heart or giving my attention to someone else instead of them, I’m done with being motivated by the expectations of others. So many people in my life live in their own little bubbles, surrounded by the comforts I’ve provided and have grown entitled because of them. They feel entitled to be rude to me, demand attention of me, and request of me things that I have no capacity to give at the moment, all while ignoring the things I’ve asked of them.

The very worst part of this is that all but one person in my life (two actually, but he’s always been appreciative of me) at the moment does not regularly say thank you for what I do continue to provide unless prompted to do so,  unsurprisingly, she is the person who gets the majority of my limited free time and attention. She is also the given or implied reason why the rest of them are so damn unappreciative.

Let me say this, I’ve learned about myself one thing. If you offer me appreciation for what I do, I will return in kind. If you continually complain about what I’m NOT doing, it won’t end well.  I’ve lost my tolerance for others putting their needs above mine and now my needs come first, unequivocally. I’m not looking for my ass to be kissed, but when I’ve done any of the things I’ve alluded to above, don’t take that shit for granted. It’s a sure way to get told to go to hell when you need something from me and fail to ask in a way that does not indicate you have a total lack of self-awareness.

At some point in everyone’s life, they realize that a turning of priorities may be in order. They fumble over what that means and sometimes actually come across something that works to better their outlook, enhance who they are and create joy in their lives in the most simple way. It could be a person, a job, a new point of view or any combination but when they do come they change who we are.

Reviewing one’s life you can see catalytic patterns. Times when one event leads, directly or indirectly, to another, and that to yet another still. Yes, there are choices in-between that move those patterns forward in the direction hindsight reveals, but there are often direct lines from a to b that reveal themselves as time goes on.

Hence the title.

When I wake up throughout the day, in the examination mode of memory and contemplation, I see these paths like routes on a map. There are arteries behind me that vanish, paths not taken, roads left behind never to be visited again, ahead there are splits that lead to other splits, that lead to still others. Not quite the infinite paths we like to believe there are, but as infinite as our little brains can handle. Infinite enough to know that even if we chart a course, the wind or a landslide will deviate us at least once. As our past disappears into memory and the present is lived in every moment, we only have so much say, only so many fucks to give.

I’m choosing mine wisely, with intention, giving attention to the things that I choose first and then allowing the rest to intrude when I will it. It’s the only semblance of control we have, and even if it is an illusion, I’ll take it.

For now, here are some general thoughts:

There is more than one way to love, live and leave.

I am not your world unless I say I am. And even if I do, not always, and not forever if you don’t hold up your end of the bargain.

I may love you, but I don’t owe you shit.

I choose what’s important to me, I’m not even slightly sorry If you can’t handle that.

Do not assume that you are at the top of my priority list unless I explicitly say so.

Do not EVER take me for granted.

Finally: Don’t be so fucking vain, this song is only partially about you, whoever you are.

The Long National Nightmare is Just Beginning

So I was on a semi-self-imposed news blackout until very recently due in no small part to my own personal upheavals, but also just because….Trump.

So now I’ve begun paying more attention, watching and reading more news and following more closely, the national goings on. Thankfully I’m in a much better headspace for all of this because if I’d decided to forgo reason and dive head first as my personal life was unraveling, I’m honestly not sure I’d still be writing today.

Watching our president move with the sound off is frustrating enough, but with the sound on, it’s utterly terrifying.

How could we have been so stupid? How in the hell could we have elected this orange-thin-skinned pussy grabber, the leader of the free world? How do we not see this as the horrible national embarrassment it truly is? That a uniquely unqualified buffoon who clearly has no aptitude for the truth because he hasn’t a clue as to what that word even means, could possibly win a plurality of electoral college votes, with not a single dissenting maverick to stand in the way of this thoroughly embarrassing national disgrace?

Where are our Paines, our  Parks our Kings and Peltiers?  Why don’t we see how obviously our dissenting voices are absent from the debate, and how obviously we’ve become twisted up in what it means to dissent in the first place? How did the Alt-right, an animal crafted as a propaganda arm of Nazis and internet trolls who finally feel like they have a place at a table that is owned by the Jewish Cabal, actually become a legitimate voice in national politics?

I’m not of the mindset that this country is over, that with this one election we have sealed our fate. I do believe this is the last death spasm of an old skin being shaken off, but what of what’s underneath?

When will we, as a country, as a people, realize that we’ve entirely fucked up.

When we have people like Alex Jones and Mike Chernovich actually participating in the public dialog as legitimate players, how do we not see how truly fucked we are?

At the same time though, it easy to become un-fucked, just pay attention.

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