Showing posts with label Rant. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Rant. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

American Nightmare

Riots.
Dead.
Cities on fire.
Statues toppling.
Lack of government oversight.
Deregulation.
No respect.
Loss of control.

Just another day in the American nightmare.

How long has our society been a total dystopia? Apparently a long time - most of my life, I suspect. I couldn't tell you when it began. Perhaps it started the moment Europeans set foot on the continent, bringing with them smallpox and death to the Native Americans who lived here.

Dystopian literature has long been a favorite genre of mine. These stories are about the ends of societies. People know them by their names in books and movies - Mad Max, The Hunger Games, Brave New World, The Handmaid's Tale, 1984, The Giver, etc. Alas, Babylon, by Pat Frank, was one of the first dystopian novels I fell in love with. The story, about survival on the Florida coast after nuclear demise created by unrest in the Middle East, felt real and possible to me then, way back in 1980 when we were dealing with the hostage crisis at the end of Jimmy Carter's presidency.

Walter Miller's Canticle for Leibowitz, which dealt with aftermath of the collapse of current civilization and went through until it collapsed again, also made quite an impression in my younger years.

And here we are in America, living lives of suffering, watching death and economic collapse occur on what is truly an epic scale.

We are now living in The Hunger Games and Animal Farm, and in most of those imaginary worlds. Don't believe me? I can take you to the coalfields right now and show you District 12 from The Hunger Games. Look at Congress, see the pigs we have for leaders, right up to the chief boar, biggest pig of them all, who has his followers believing with every breath that some are more equal than others. Such a total twisting of truths, the bald-faced lies of "fake news," is so 1984ish it is as if I fell into the book.

We are the only nation in this world - this great big planet - with deaths from the Covid-19 pandemic on a massive scale. With no leadership to speak of, with a government completely undermined and dislodged from reality, did we really think we'd find solace and comfort from the enemies within? We have only ourselves to blame for our stolid independence, our devout fortitude, our utter dismal faith that God will keep us, even as we are too stupid to use the minds He gave us to better our own lot.

Instead, we vote in the fools and let the inmates run the asylum.

American Nightmare.

We're the only nation, too, with multiple school shootings. We're the only nation who willingly eats our young in order to maintain our "freedoms" to hold a rifle, and now, I suppose, our "freedom" to not wear a mask and to spread a deadly disease. We'll allow this virus to run rampant amongst our children, letting it chew on their hearts and lungs, before we step back and see if we can do something different.

Will we have the children social distance while they're doing shooter drills every couple of weeks? How is that going to work out, I wonder.

We are trapped. We are caught with a leadership that is negligent, indifferent, irresponsible, and crazy. A leadership that at one moment incites people to violence (LIBERATE VIRGINIA) and on the other hand offers handouts to the very rich who don't need the money.  Give the people $1,200. That will shut them up. Here, big oil, millions for you. You're welcome.

We also have an intellectual class that at some point did not step in and stop this when they should have. I don't know when that was. The 1990s? Earlier? But of course they (I) said nothing. Because how dare we question the status quo, even though it is the most fucked up, evil, and ruthless system on the planet. How dare we!

So we didn't.

Look at us now. For the last 20 years, since 9/11, we have become despicable people. We have more poor, more ill, more desperate people than any other country. We also have more rich. This disparity between rich and poor was created and made worse by a ruthless class of assholes who want theirs at the expense of everyone else. As if Capitalism is a pie, and they want 7/8 of it, giving the rest over to the worthless idiots who can't figure out that the system is set against them from the moment they are born.

Pull yourself up by your bootstraps my ass. American dream. It's a fucking dream alright. It's a goddamn nightmare, is what it is.

Now we have this great divide. Us against them. Who are them? Anyone who isn't us. Skin color, hair color, jobs, political points of view. Religious fealty. But mostly we're a bunch of scared, nervous people who are suffering from terrible feelings of powerlessness, rage, hopelessness, and pessimism. Because honestly, how is this going to get any better?

These internal feelings for white people, especially white men, are, I suspect, relatively new. America has always been a dystopia for black people, for the Native Americans we so casually displaced, for most women - for anybody who stood out and was different and dared to try to actually live that fucking American dream. A few even "made it," if making it is defined by monetary success. Which in America is, after all, how we define everything. Every single damn thing in this country is defined by a dollar bill.

And because dollar bills are what matters, people do not. We do not care about one another. We don't care about anyone who isn't "us," whoever the hell that is.

This is our society today. It goes like this: 

We're the richest country in the world and about 13 million children live in food insecure homes. Over 4 million children do not have health insurance or adequate healthcare. Over 17% of our children live without basic necessities. About 5.5 million reports of physical, sexual, and emotional abuse are made annually.

And what is our response? We cut funding for school lunch programs. Right now, this very moment, the current administration is fighting to do away with the Affordable Healthcare Act, taking it before the Supreme Court in another effort to dismantle it completely. We assume that if kids have poor parents, well, tough luck. Apparently the parents don't deserve decent wages, for whatever reason. If kids are being abused, well, that's a shame, but parents have the right do raise their kids as they see fit. 

What can you do with such apathy? How do you fight this total lack of empathy and human feeling?

We could do a lot of things. We could ensure people have enough money to feed their children with a decent minimum wage. We could have regulations for clean air. We could have health care for all. We could ensure better mental health services, more counseling, better education . . . we could spend the money we spend on the fucking military on our own people instead of on more fighter jets that we don't need.

What we need to stop doing is putting little Band-Aids on big, major problems that require resolve and courage to solve. We need to step up and say, "Fuck this shit. This is enough."

Capitalism exploits us. It is a screwed up economic system that requires people to be poor so someone else can be rich. It has been going on for so long, people don't even realize that the corporations and the wealthy are exploiting them. We're nothing but a power source, a labor source, and if we're all used up, then we are totally and completely expendable.

So sure, die from a virus. If your immune system can't take it, no sweat off of their backs. There are billions of people. They might even have to take in some brown folks to fill space after the white folks all die off, but the corporations don't care. They just want the money anyway.

We have been totally dehumanized, us stupid Americans. We've divided ourselves into human and non-human. We are incapable of doing things other countries - better countries, really - have managed to do and do well. Things like healthcare, retirement, vacations, education, income. Feeling safe in your home, your grocery store, your surroundings. Basic human rights. We don't even know what a basic human right is, except for "pursuit of happiness." And what does that mean, after all, if you haven't any means to reach it?

When I was growing up, I expected to find a job, stay in it, have a good income and a retirement plan. That is all gone. Out the window, blowing in the wind, a pipe dream. My grandfather and father lived it, but he and others like him made damn sure his children didn't and wouldn't. And my niece and nephews haven't even a clue that it existed once, this small taste of security and belonging.

The only people who can walk around safely now live in gated communities with armed guards, like those folks in Margaret Atwood's Oryx & Crake, where they are safe and can be who they want to be. They don't have to worry that there are fewer and fewer jobs out there. They don't care, probably don't even know, that people are making do with less and less. (Though one day it will reach them, too. For all their money, they are not immune. Even the rich must die.)

The rest of us, we have to do for ourselves. And this goes back how far? As far as I can trace it. Racism and bigotry lies at the heart of this dystopia, because it kept us, as U.S. citizens, from becoming truly a single nation, keeping us instead as a country of "them" versus "us." Always. We never built systems to protect and help people, never put things into place to ensure the kind of social safety net that is a basic human right, because we were so busy being concerned that someone else might get "ours" when "they" shouldn't have it, that we have vaulted to the bottom of the first world nations.

We're not even a first world nation now. We're like a fifth world nation or something. Even third world nations don't have the problems we do. They don't have the failing infrastructure, the mass shootings, the total unhappiness that surrounds me every single time I go into the grocery store, when the waves of anger and frustration simply come at me as if I am in an ocean of angst.

I am drowning in that ocean, and so are you. And you. We are all drowning and fooling ourselves that the water we are allowing into our lungs is actually good for us, when in the end, it so polluted with hatred that it will destroy this country and take our children with it.

We have the greatest military. Whoopee. We did not invest in the things that mattered. We did not invest in our future as people. We have become fragile. The coronavirus has shown us for what we are - weak, secluded, scared saplings, ghosts of the people we could have been, had our world been just a little bit different, our minds just a little more open, our lives just a little less filled with hate.

When we are only commodities - and that is all we are, in the end, in a capitalistic society - how could we have expected to ultimately end up with a functioning society? We can't. Because we're too busy now living the worlds created in our dystopian literature, where we each have to protect what little we have because, well, because it's all we have.

We don't even know how to reach out to one another as human beings in an effort to make it better. We watch the protests on TV and see them turn into riots and gasp. Those others! We don't think, don't empathize, don't care.

God, what a sickening society we are. We are the zombies we have been afraid of all of this time. We don't need to look for them on TV.

They are all around us, each of us, dragging our feet, watching our lives waste away, searching for meaning in faux religions and cultish leadership, wanting to eat one another out of fear and loathing.

And now we have reached a pinnacle where fascism is here, its ugly nastiness a jackboot around the corner. We are a vote away from it. Regardless of who wins, it is here, and it isn't going to go away. We will kill one another in the end, if the virus doesn't get us all first.

We have never been a country that understands friendship. We adore ignorance. We don't want to know. We don't want to understand, improve, care, imagine a better world - damnit, we simply don't want to change. We're not friends, none of us. We're just strangers living in the same land, looking askance at one another, wondering not, "How can I help?" but "What do they want?"

Is it any surprise to anybody that now we're watching cities burn? We've got a lunatic with his finger on the nuclear codes.

And us? We are all simply bewildered and horrified.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Happy I Have Morals

Last night, my husband and I caught the first part of a new Discovery series called "Undercover Billionaire."

I think this was the second episode. I missed the first one.

The premise is that Billionaire Man will go into some city and in 90 days create a $1 million company. This is to prove, I think, that people who are poor are poor because they aren't smart or can't figure out how to beat the system or something. It's obviously slanted in that direction.

It's propaganda.

To my absolute horror and dismay, in the first minutes of the episode last night, Mr. Billionaire went onto private property (some vacant industry), then drove around back and waded through a pile of tires until he found several good ones. He then STOLE those tires and sold them for $1500 to get his "seed" money for his business. (Actually it was to get him a room because he'd been sleeping in his truck.) I don't know what happened after that because I turned the TV off.

The moral here I guess is that if you're willing to (a) trespass and (b) steal, then you can move forward in life. (Can you see my eyes rolling?)

He is nothing but a crook. If he thinks this is ok, then I doubt he's a billionaire because he did something legal to earn his millions.

This morning I am happy that I am not a crook. I am happy that I know right from wrong, and that I do not believe that just because your bicycle is out next to your house, I have the right to take it. Basically that is what Mr. Billionaire did. Even if the property had been reposed by the city, that land and its contents belongs to the taxpayers and the stuff wasn't Mr. Billionaire's to take.

So I am content to be mediocre and not of great wealth, because at least I have my principles.

I am happy that I have good morals.

Each day in August you are to post about something that makes *you* happy. Pretty simple. And, it doesn't even have to be every day if you don't want it to be. It's a great way to remind ourselves that there are positive things going on in our lives, our communities, and the world. Check out the gal that initiated this here.

Friday, February 08, 2019

If I Responded on Facebook

I try not to respond to political posts on Facebook. Mostly I don't post on Facebook at all unless it is something that appears relatively harmless, although in 20 years I imagine people who post kitten pictures today will be apologizing for that.

At any rate, one post this morning riled me. It was about my local county and how irresponsible the spending is, yada yada. I've covered this county government for 30 years and still go to the supervisors meetings sometimes. I read.

We are not a poorly run, over-spending county. I started to write a response and then decided to move it here. But this is not just about my county. This is about living in society and being a citizen and paying taxes, and understanding that everything affects everything else. It is also about stupidity, which seems in vogue but which is going to destroy us.

Since 2009, the amount of money that Botetourt County receives from the state and federal governments has decreased. The difference comes from county citizens as local taxes: the politicians we have in the state and federal government want to place the burden back on localities.

We are building a new school. We offered incentives to new companies (corporate welfare). Because of this, the county's debt service has increased.

However, Botetourt remains one of the most fiscally sound counties in the area. You can't have it both ways. You can't have low taxes and build a new school. You can't have parks & rec programs, libraries, historic parks at Greenfield, commit $2 million to the new YMCA, and not have debt service increase.

Local taxes will remain flat this year, based on what I'm seeing. Nobody's taxes are going up locally (though you might be paying federal dollars because of that smoke-and-mirrors federal "tax cut" that so many people fell for). 

Sure there are some things that could be cut from the local budget - but they are miniscule as far as funding goes and won't affect taxes. Much of it is state-mandated and can't be touched.

More than half of the budget goes to the schools. They need what they need. I want an educated population, well-rounded and learned, to take care of me and the rest of the world when I'm old.

We are having to pay for emergency services now; that used to be volunteer only. We need to increase pay for deputies. County buildings need upkeep and updating.

Austerity only works when you want stupidity to rule the world. That's what we have now at the federal level. I don't see it working out very well.

I consider paying taxes an honor and a privilege. Why do people think they should live here for free? If you think that, then stop driving on public roads, don't use public facilities, go rent because your deed is recorded in a public courthouse, don't call for the rescue squad when you have a heart attack, don't call the fire department if your house is burning down, don't visit the Smithsonian, use a National Park, call the Social Security Office if your payment is late, or do anything else that is a government service paid for by your taxes.

It is all related. President Obama was right when he stood here in Roanoke and said no one does it on their own. You don't. You just think you do, and I think you're an idiot for thinking that.

So there.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Cape Henry Lighthouses

Our trip to Virginia Beach was different for us. For one thing, we never went into the ocean and barely set foot in the sand.

The weather was great - it never warmed above 76 or so, with cool evenings. There weren't a lot of folks on the beach, so we were not alone in looking for other things to do in the area.

We like history so we set out on Friday, October 20, to see the Cape Henry lighthouses.

The oldest of the two lighthouses there, which is also one of the oldest in the nation, is the first federally funded lighthouse. The government built it to guide maritime commerce at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. It stands near the “First Landing” site where English settlers arrived in 1607.

The structure, authorized by George Washington and overseen by Alexander Hamilton, was completed in 1792. It was designed by New York architect John McComb and it was used for about 100 years before being replaced by a cast iron lighthouse that still stands about 100 yards away.

Preservation Virginia acquired the Cape Henry Lighthouse in 1930. Over the years lighthouse and its surroundings have been restored including repairing the lantern after damage from Hurricane Barbara in 1953, repairing the damaged original Aquia sandstone and restoring the surrounding dunes.

Visitors to the Cape Henry Lighthouse can climb to the top of the tower.

Our first surprise occurred at the entrance. We thought this was a historic site - which it is - but it is also part of Fort Story, an active military base.

To get in to see the lighthouses, you must be searched and you must allow your car to be searched. If you go beyond a certain point, you will be arrested and charged with trespassing.

This is not exactly the welcome I've come to expect at historic sites.

When you accept the four-hour "historic site access pass" from the soldiers who declare you fit for entrance, you agree not to use text messaging or hands-free cellular telephones and to only photograph the historic sites.


This happy little dolphin greets you.


It immediately becomes not so happy when you realize
you're on a military base.


You were not supposed to take photos of personnel. I
took these photos before I was told that and I have
altered the faces and the license tag of the car in front
of us.


This is the original 1792 lighthouse.


This is both lighthouses as you approach them from the
entrance.


This is the new lighthouse. I don't think
it is in use.


No clue what the other buildings beside the lighthouse are.


The old lighthouse.


A nice poster in the gift shop.


The lighthouses from the backside.


The old lighthouse from the back side.
 
I had never been searched before. It was intimidating though the soldiers were polite. They asked if we had any weapons and I produced a tiny little knife that I use sometimes to trim my nail cuticles with, and the guy waved it away like it was a plastic fork. My husband had his pocket knife and produced that, which was also waved away. Our drugs consisted of our prescriptions, and the only other thing in the car was my MS Surface which wasn't working so we'd stowed it in the trunk.

I would not have consented to any kind of body search but they didn't ask to do one. I would have asked to turn around and be allowed to leave had I been told that would be necessary. No one is touching me without reason, which is why I don't expect to ever get on an airplane again. I don't consider searching me - because that implies I have done something when I have not - to be a good reason to feel me up. I still believe in innocent until proven guilty, not the other way around. Searches assume you are guilty. (For the record, it is also why I don't go to many things at the local coliseum - I hate the searches, especially when they make women open their pocket books while the men walk in with guns holstered to their ankles, something I have personally observed. How stupid is that?)

The one thing it showed me is that the "land of the free" - isn't. And anyone who thinks otherwise is a fool.

I did wonder why, since there was a vast expanse of land between the historic areas and the closest military buildings, they didn't just move the checkpoints back behind the historic areas so the public could access them without all the rigmarole.

Anyway, this colored my appreciation of the historic structure quite a bit, and not in a good way.

It is nice that it is still there, though.

It is not so nice that my government considers me guilty of something simply because I want to see a historic structure that my tax dollars are keeping up. I'm sure others see searches like this differently, and simply accept it, but this is why I am not like everybody else. I have never been one to abide by arbitrary rules and accept the status quo.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

The Sound of Silence - No More

I strongly condemn the events in Charlottesville, VA this weekend. Not my values. Not my friends.

If you are one of those people - and I am sure there are many - who voted for Mr. Trump but wouldn't run over people or bash in someone's face because they disagree with you, what are you going to do about it?

President Trump did not condemn these actions. His words were weak and pathetic. They were not the words of a leader. They were not words that bring a nation together. They were not even kind words. And then he went on to brag about himself and how good things are under his so-called administration. Basically we have no government at the moment. This man can call everybody else names, but he certainly can't name his supremacist friends what they are - domestic terrorists. This was a planned racist event.

Expect more of them.

"Some members of Trump’s own party called on the President to specifically cite the Charlottesville tragedy as a terror attack, or to call out white nationalists. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said that it was “very important” for the country to hear the president “describe events in Charlottesville for what they are, a terror attack by white supremacists. . . . Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) wrote that “we must call evil by its name.” Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) echoed that “we should call evil by its name. My brother didn’t give his life fighting Hitler for Nazi ideas to go unchallenged here at home.”' - Variety


"In the naked light I saw 10,000 people, maybe more. People talking without speaking. People hearing without listening. . . . No one dare disturb the sound of silence. . . . Silence like a cancer grows."


Friday, June 16, 2017

Get Off Your Butts, Liberals

This is a mini-rant, I suppose.

I keep hearing whispers about the U.S. Senate's version of the new healthcare plan. Most of what I hear is about how secretive it is. How the Republicans have shut out the Democrats, and thus no one knows what is really in the plan.

Someone fussed about how it is being put together by a bunch of white men who don't know what women need to do to keep their hoo-has in good shape.

Or that certain races of people have genetic disorders unique to them.

That contraception can't be covered but erectile dysfunction can (but that has always been the case).

That pre-existing conditions won't be part of the process.

That old people will pay 75 percent more than young people.

Or whatever.

I hear they will hold no public hearings, that they will toss their plan out on the table and say vote or not, expecting the Republican majority to march in lock-step, arms joined as they sing "No Health Care For You" and vote for the thing.

What I do not hear is that the Democrats are doing anything. Oh, they are asking questions in committees that really don't have anything to do with health care sometimes. They wonder aloud to some higher-up senator if the public will get to know what the health care bill says.

Is there some rule that says a bunch of Democrats can't get together, take the House's piece of crap AHCA, and make up their own version of what they want, and toss it out on the floor at the same time as the Republicans throw theirs out?

Can they do nothing more than rail against a process that they themselves set up?

Can't the Democrats create their version of what we really need, which is a single payer health care plan (Medicare for all), and then take it, now, to the American people? Can't they call their constituents with their little phone bots that work overtime during elections and actually offer up real information?

And while we're at it, can't the Democrats actually be Democrats, instead of Republican lite? Because there isn't a real left in this country, you know. Not a real one. Not one that advocates for everybody. Not one that believes in the power of you and me. Mostly they just believe in the power of "I" and there isn't an "I" in TEAM. But a team requires you and me, and maybe tea, meat, mate, tame and whatever other anagrams one can make from the word. But it doesn't require an "I" and it doesn't require corporate noses stuck in the business of the public or the Republic, for that matter.

Also, please stop with the memes and photos and other stuff about how stupid President Trump looks. When you demean him, you demean the office, and thus you become part of the process that has turned the United States into nothing more than King Kong with a banana in his hand, thrashing about in search of something he will never find again. So stop it already. You don't have to do anything. The man is going to do what he is going to do, and all you are doing is antagonizing "the other side," whatever that is.

Next, find some courtesy and morality. I say this to all sides, because the discourse in this country has reached the pitch of a high screech and absolutely no one is listening because all they hear is "AHHHHHHHHH" at decibels that mean nothing to anyone at all, not even an insect with super powered hearing.

And another thing, all of you, everyone of you, go read the U.S. Constitution. The Republicans or the Tea Party some years ago made a big deal about doing that on the congressional floor - so now, Democrats, you do it. I don't care if you have some junior member read it at the dead of midnight while C-Span films it, just do it. Contemplate it, discuss it, maybe even create a pamphlet that you send out to every single voter in your district that explains how government actually works. Something that says we have executive power, congressional powers, and judicial powers - the three legs of government - and that we are not a dictatorship and neither of the three parts of government is higher than the other.

Because obviously many people in this country have no idea how government works. Since that is the case, explain it to them. Enlighten. Offer free civics courses all over the country.

Be the good you say you want to be and actually do something besides kowtow to a lobbyist.

I am looking for adults to run the country. Should I put out an ad?

Friday, February 03, 2017

Down the Drain

This is a rant. Go away now if you are looking for cute pictures of niceties. You can come back tomorrow for that.
________________________

Most people who have been reading my blog for any length of time are probably aware that I am not happy with the current state of the nation.
 
Give it a year, and I think a lot of people are going to be really unhappy, but they will have to find it out for themselves. Some will never figure it out, and will blame somebody else. It's the nature of being human.
 
With all of this quick change going on, to me it feels like a chronic beating over the head. Unfortunately, every time Republicans are in charge of the government, I feel like I am being beaten. It is the verbal patronizing, the language, the authoritarianism, I suppose, that makes me feel like I have a boot over my face. Not only that, Republicans in Congress are just mean. And they really dislike women. Honestly, every mean person I know is a Republican. I know nice Republicans, too, but I can't think of a single mean Democrat. I probably know some, but I don't know who they are. I know that I know mean Republicans.
 
Anyway, since that is how I have been feeling, like a beaten down dog whimpering in a cage, it has been hard to blog. I try not to blog too much about political stuff here because that is not what I want on Blue Country Magic. But when it is all I can think about, and all that is in the news, and all that is eating at me, it is difficult to write about fawns and daylilies.
 
I am not writing on Facebook, either, even though I sometimes want to scream out responses to the things I see posted. But I am not very good at arguments. I can state my case and you can agree with it or not, but I don't want to argue with anyone about it. So I don't argue. If I do post something, if you don't agree, don't agree. I generally won't waste my time fighting about it. Usually I just hit "delete." It's the best key on the keyboard.

That type of thing, of course, pertains to opinion. Now, if I'm stating a fact, like, say, 4+4=8, or the ground is made of dirt and rocks and compost and dead things, and you don't want to agree with that, well, that just means you're ignorant. I might argue with you over a fact. A real fact, not an alternative fact.
 
A friend, a moderate Republican who occasionally shows glimpses of a soul when he talks to me, doesn't post a lot of political stuff on Facebook, either. I still have hope for him,  but yesterday he posted a video on Facebook but he made little comment about it except that it made him think (about what, I do not know). The video was by some dude who claimed to be in Iraq (no way to know for sure, he might have been in his basement in Mississippi). He said that he had been told that right now, with the [whatever name I decide to call the person leading the country]'s ban on immigration, the Iraqis are fired up. After all, we're supposed to be on their side but their nation was spelled out as being bad and their people couldn't come here, not even the ones that fought with us. This guy said if he went out on the town, the Iraqi people, not ISIL or Al Qaida, would kill him. Torture him, behead him. And is that the kind of people we want in the U.S.?
 
What I wanted to respond to this video was this:

Matthew Shepherd (December 1, 1976 – October 12, 1998), beaten, tortured, and left to die near Laramie, Wyoming on the night of October 6, 1998. Significant media coverage was given to the killing and what role Shepard's sexual orientation might have played as a motive in the perpetration of the crime.

Nine black church congregants were killed by a white shooter June 17, 2015 in Charleston, S.C.

The KKK and black lynchings.

Any newspaper reporting crime in any day in this country.

For further information, here's a report in the Washington Post on Hate Crime
 
And there is this graph here at the FBI site:




I just pulled out Virginia because that is where I live. In just those areas, which doesn't even include most of Southwest Virginia, there are over 160 murders. And look at all of those violent crimes.
 
And then I would have liked to have responded with this:
 
FBI Hate Crimes Statistics

Overview

  • In 2015, 14,997 law enforcement agencies participated in the Hate Crime Statistics Program. Of these agencies, 1,742 reported 5,850 hate crime incidents involving 6,885 offenses.
  •  There were 5,818 single-bias incidents that involved 6,837 offenses, 7,121 victims, and 5,475 known offenders.
  • The 32 multiple-bias incidents reported in 2015 involved 48 offenses, 52 victims, and 18 known offenders.

Single-bias incidents

Analysis of the 5,818 single-bias incidents reported in 2015 revealed that:
  • 56.9 percent were motivated by a race/ethnicity/ancestry bias.
  • 21.4 percent were prompted by religious bias.
  • 18.1 percent resulted from sexual-orientation bias.
  • 2.0 percent were motivated by gender-identity bias.
  • 1.3 percent were prompted by disability bias.
  • 0.4 percent (23 incidents) were motivated by a gender bias.
 
Because we're such a calm, non-violent society, after all. We worship our mammas and apple pie. We don't gang up on gays, or black people, or Muslims, or people of different faith.

What crap.

My point is, this weird view that Americans have that we're such a peaceful, tolerant and welcoming nation is bullshit, and the world is calling us on it. We are violent. We are mean. We are as bad, if not worse, than any other nation in this word. as far as violence and hatred and just plain vileness goes. Only we do it in the name of "Christianity" instead of some other religion, so somehow or another, because a bunch of people worship a really blatantly fucked-up version of "the Prince of Peace," that makes shooting one another and dropping drone bombs on people all right.

And to make this point even more strongly, here is this, from The American Bar Association:

In 2003, there were 30,136 firearm-related deaths in the United States; 16,907 (56%) suicides, 11,920 (40%) homicides (including 347 deaths due to legal intervention/war), and 962 (3%) undetermined/unintentional firearm deaths.
CDC/National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, WISQARS Injury Mortality Reports 1999-2003 http://www.cdc.gov/ncipc/wisqars
  • The rate of death from firearms in the United States is eight times higher than that in its economic counterparts in other parts of the world. Kellermann AL and Waeckerle JF. Preventing Firearm Injuries. Ann Emerg Med July 1998; 32:77-79.

  • The overall firearm-related death rate among U.S. children younger than 15 years of age is nearly 12 times higher than among children in 25 other industrialized countries combined. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 1997;46:101-105.

  •  The United States has the highest rate of youth homicides and suicides among the 26 wealthiest nations. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
    Rates of homicide, suicide, and firearm-related death among children: 26 industrialized countries.MMWR. 1997;46:101-105.
    Krug EG, Dahlberg LL, Powell KE. Childhood homicide, suicide, and firearm deaths: an international comparison. World Health Stat Q. 1996;49:230-235.
Still think we're so nice? Let's see. How about the 2006 murders at Virginia Tech? The Sandy Hook murders in 2012? The Oklahoma bombings in 1995? How about the guy who beat another guy to death in the gas station about four miles from me, because he didn't like the way the other guy was driving? Or maybe the murders of a couple of young women near UVA? Or the shooting of a couple of journalists at a local TV station?

Or maybe the stabbings, gunshots, fights, and domestic violence runs that my husband's EMS/Fire crews see every single night in Roanoke would convince you, dear reader, that we are not a peaceful people?

We are the ONLY nation to have used an atomic weapon on real, live people. We have lynched people on the say-so of a single person. We are completely capable of ostracizing and being cruel to someone different than us. We do it every single day. Every. Single. Day.

And we're terrified of people who are thousands of miles away from us.

Frankly, I am as frightened of some of the people in my community as I am anybody else in the world.

We can keep fooling ourselves that we are better than others in the world, but we're not. That boat has sailed and is so far gone it is too late to wave bye-bye to it. The only thing we have is greed and a religion that worships money.

Some of us, though, want a better world.

We ain't gettin' it today.

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

The Music Used to Make Me Smile

But that was before everyone became so damn sensitive and apparently everything offends somebody.
 
For example, the non-existent "war on Christmas" is already occurring in my FB feed, so please note that Bing Crosby was singing "Happy Holidays" over 50 years ago, and the word "holiday" has been around since Chaucer and it means "holy day." It isn't "politically correct" or anything else to say it.
 
Just say what you want and stop buying into the news-media-manufactured B.S. surrounding Christmas and don't take offense when someone is being nice.
 
They could tell you to "F&ck off" instead of happy holidays, or just push you down in the store aisle to get that last TV or whatever.
 
Be kind, and accept the kindness. When did we all become so sensitive? Geez. Get over yourselves.

****************************************************************

Today's Roanoke Times lead story on the election started out "Clinton" and when it mentioned Donald Trump it simply said "Trump." No first names, no context, nothing. If space is so short that the story could not read "Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee for President" and "Donald Trump, the Republican nominee for President," then chop from the bottom or rewrite. I realize 9/10 of the population probably knows who these people are, but there are still some folks out there who seldom read or are just catching up. Bad journalism - bad writing - all the way around.
 

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Teach Your Children Well

Ignorance is not bliss.

Young people who are 20 years old should know how to dust, vacuum, do the laundry, and take care of themselves.

If they don't, their parents have failed them.

It is not the school's place, the church's place, the government's place, or my place, to teach a child who is now an adult how to put Pledge on a rag and not drown the furniture in polish. If a 20-year-old doesn't know that, then somebody somewhere along the way failed that kid.

Regardless of sex, an adult (that's somebody age 18 and older) should know how to fix food and clean. Those are basic life skills. If they can't do that, and apparently many cannot, then how in the world do parents expect them to accomplish anything at all?

They aren't going to. And maybe parents don't expect them to. I don't know.

I can't know. I have no children. I don't understand how it is to have the little darlings and to hug them and kiss them and keep them infantile until they are 30. You're right, I don't get that. I don't know why parents would not give children chores or include them as part of the household but instead set them apart as some "other" apparently always worthy of techno stuff and trophies, but never worthy of the time and attention needed to actually raise them to be decent, responsible citizens who are respectful of people around them.

My husband has for about a decade now complained about the young people who come in to his line of work and expect to start out at top pay. They don't know how to do anything and they don't want to learn. All they want to do is play video games on X-box and ride around on fire trucks. They don't understand, or care, that the firehouse has to be kept clean, that the trucks need maintenance, that learning to put out a fire safely requires hours upon hours of training.

Mom and Dad never told them they might have to break a sweat once in a while. It's such a surprise to them when they learn they have to work.

My brother, who is a CEO of a medium-sized corporation with multiple branches, has made the same complaint about young people who come to him for a job. They dress shabbily. They spend more time looking at their phones than answering questions in interviews. Their parents bring them to the interview! Why would he hire a person like that?

If a 14-year-old can't babysit, do chores, bake a supper, do the laundry, and clean up a room, if not the whole house, that child is not a successful kid. I don't care how many As or baseball trophies are in that kid's room. That kid can't take care of his or her self and is therefore a failure in basic self care.

My grandmother was giving birth to my mother when she was 14. Her six children were all potty-trained before they were two. I was potty-trained before I was two. Today I see young mothers on my Facebook page talking about whether or not their four-year-old is old enough to be potty trained. Please. I know a woman who had five kids who taught every single one of them to use the toilet before they turned a year old. They weren't damaged, and neither was I. But I predict a kid who is still pooping his pants at the age of four will be in therapy later in life.

Schools and colleges complain about these things - teachers talk about how little children know, how they can't even take care of basic things like washing up for lunch. Colleges complain about helicopters parents who hover over their children and keep them infantile. Why would a parent want to do that?

We were watching a silly show on one of the science channels the other night about homesteading. This family of four was about to die of starvation because a 23-year-old boy and a teenaged girl weren't helping. The parents were doing it all, trying to chop wood and garden and all the other things it takes to live like that. The kids were, well, playing on their cell phones, I guess. They certainly weren't involved. And that, the homesteading expert pointed out, was their biggest challenge, the lack of involvement by all in the group. It wasn't snow or heat or snakes that was going to do them in - it was the fact that these parents had not given their children a work ethic.

When I was 20, I was married and keeping a house. And I kept a neat, clean home and took care of a garden. I worked full time and went to school part time. I failed to have children, but not for lack of trying. I was sick a lot and I still worked hard.

I realize that was nearly 35 years ago. But some things do not change. People need to be able to care for themselves and their surroundings. And apparently, young people today cannot do these things. These are the same people who one day will be taking care of me when I am old and infirmed, and if they can't figure out how to use a damp mop, then I despair of their ability to help me with a bed pan.

It is not child abuse to give children responsibilities. Every member of a tribe for thousands of years has had responsibilities. Little children from very early ages learned to gather firewood and tend to minor chores; they have done that for as long as humans have walked the planet. And now, what? They're too tender, too soft, or too special to be part of the community?

This is, I think, the result of the "me" generation which has not taken the time to properly raise their offspring. Mothers busy working and fathers busy working apparently haven't the time to teach little Darling how to use the washing machine. Although my mother worked full time and sang in a band on the weekends and we lived on a farm and my father worked full time and sang in a band and we lived on a farm, and I learned that stuff. So well, that's an excuse, not a reason. The reason? It is easier for the parent to tell Darling to go sit in front of the TV or the video game, and Darling learns diddly squat.

I have relayed before various incidents with children in recent years, how they scream and cry, run around in restaurants, and generally act like wild heathens while their parents play Candy Crush or whatever they're doing. They ignore the fact that the kids are creating a ruckus. It all goes back to attention and proper parenting. Letting kids run wild is not appropriate or proper parenting. Parents are creating monsters, not citizens.

I did not have an easy childhood. My parents were tough on me and I resented - and still resent - some of that. But they also gave me a work ethic and taught me how to do the things that a person needs to know how to do, like cleaning and laundry, and for that I am grateful. I never fared well at gourmet cooking like my mother, but my husband and I haven't starved and if I have to I can whip up a decent dinner without too much thought or effort. Even now, while I am ill and under specific doctor's orders not to do certain things, I still work to keep my house clean and things under control.

I fear there are parents out there who will want to tell me I don't know what I'm talking about. But before these parents respond with emotional anger and bristles up, I hope they ask themselves why what I have written bothers them.

Then I hope they wonder if maybe if it isn't because they know, deep down inside, that I'm right.

And if that is the case, then I hope that tonight somewhere some parent takes a child aside, and shows him or her how to sort out the whites from the colors and use a washing machine.


Friday, July 01, 2016

Is It Safe?

Yesterday my light bill arrived. Our electricity use is always high, and for a long time I have tried to figure out why. I think it's because we run two air purifiers in the house - we are not far from one of the county's largest polluters (a cement company, which has in recent years made significant efforts to clean up its processes but I still watch their smoke stacks churn out dust with great frequency) - and I have asthma. But even so, our bill is double that of some folks who have a much larger house, kids, etc.

We also run a dehumidifier in the garage. We started this many years ago when we ran into a minor mold problem. At that time, we were using a whole-house humidifier system that originated from the garage, and the moisture collected there. The dehumidifier fixed the issue, but it runs a lot. We have since done away with the whole-house humidifier, so I am not sure we need a dehumidifier running in the garage all the time. Maybe we only need one that turns on when I bring the car in wet from a rain.

So after looking at the electric bill, I went to the garage and stared at the dehumidifier for a while. It was running and the filter was dirty. I cleaned the filter. It has electronic stuff that you can program to make the thing run at various levels and times, but I couldn't figure out how to change the humidity level so that it would only turn on when the garage hit 50 percent humidity instead of 35 percent. I wrote down the model number and went to the computer to see if I could find the instruction manual for the dehumidifier on the Internet.

I found, instead, that the dehumidifier had been recalled back in 2013 because of the potential of fire. That was the very first thing that popped up when I typed in the model number.

That was unexpected.

I visited the recall site and submitted the information and was told that yes, my machine should be unplugged immediately. They would send me a "recall kit" and eventually refund some money.

The product was made in China. Most things are these days, I'm afraid.

After I finished filling out my information, I went back to the recall site. I was amazed at the vast amount of items sold in this country that are dangerous, hazardous, and poorly constructed. I grew up in an age when one did not worry if the product purchased was going to burn down the house. You expected it to be wired properly and to work as advertised. Refrigerators were made to last 30 years, not five. Yes, I am old, but I would rather pay more for a refrigerator that would last me 30 years than have to put up with bringing in a new appliance every time I turn around.

If you are interested in seeing if something you own has been recalled, you can go to recall.gov and check it out. You can see if your car has a recall on it, check household products, medications, and food.

It appears that most things made are recalled at some point, from the looks of the list. I imagine most readers have read about the IKEA recall of millions of dressers. But have you heard about certain children's nightgowns that have been recalled? Or that HP has recalled batteries for notebook computers? Or that Nature Valley protein chewy bars have been recalled? Or that some Honey Maid Teddy Grahams have been recalled?

All kinds of tires are listed under their own separate section of recalls. Tires are rather important when driving a vehicle. Yet there is a long list of tires that shouldn't be on your car.

An entire generation has grown up thinking this is the way things have to be. They don't. Manufacturers used to make products they were proud of. The workers were proud they were making it, too. You were proud to own it.

Now all we do is fill up landfills with this useless junk. This is what will continue to happen so long as the unwary consumer continues to purchase these poorly manufactured items.

We should demand quality, and expect to pay for it. It is a pain to have to replace my washing machine every couple of years because the machines they make now are made to break the day after the warranty expires. If I knew my washing machine was going to last beyond its (very limited) warranty, I would be willing to pay more for it.

I am, apparently, in the minority.

When I buy my new dehumidifier, I will do my homework and buy the "best one" as described online on some website that I may or may not trust. Right now, the "best one" in my price range, according to a couple of websites, is a Frigidaire. It's made in China.

So far, I have found only one that is made in the USA. It is large enough to take in my entire house, which I don't need, and costs $1,000 more than the "best one," the Frigidaire, I listed above. I can't find an American made dehumidifier in the size I need.

What are we as consumers supposed to do? Take time every day to visit the recall.gov site and see if everything in our house is safe? I bet I have other items in my home that have been recalled, things I will use every day, never knowing they have been deemed unsafe.

Why are we letting consumerism and our love and worship of money rule (and ruin) the world?

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

What Bathroom Do I Use?

Every year, about 1/2 million women in the United States have a hysterectomy.

That means they have their lady parts removed, usually because of something like endometriosis, fibroids, cancer, or some other issue.

It is not a decision most women make lightly.

My hysterectomy occurred when I was 29 years old. That is young to have such a surgery. It was the only option left, in the end, and the only way I would live and not die of extreme pain and intense bleeding.

I was born female but now I have no lady parts. I don't have a male organ, either, but technically speaking, I am, well, a heterosexual androgynous sort of person who identifies as female. Or something like that. If you want to be detailed about it. I've always just thought of myself as a woman, and until the Republican parties in southern states started making all of these weird bathroom rules, I never gave it any thought.

But now I must ask - what bathroom do I use?

I look and sound female, and if anyone forced me to take off my pants they would assume I am female. But my reproductive value is nonexistent. So what does that make me? Besides, you know, useless in the eyes of some evangelicals who believe if you can't reproduce then you must have sinned big time. (And yes, I have been told that.)

It is hard enough in this country to have fertility problems, to have to endure physical trauma to your body, not to mention the emotional toil it takes to deal with the fact that you can't have children, without having a bunch of dumbasses start bringing up weird crap about who goes to what bathroom.

As if transgendered people or people like myself or other people who do whatever they do haven't been going to the bathroom for years and years without stupid laws.

And then they bring up the "pharmacists, doctors, therapists can say no" to whatever they disagree with, as if they know the whole story. I mean, I took birth control pills to control endometriosis so we could attempt to have children. They were part of my fertility process, a hope that by slowing down the growth of the endometriosis, we might have a chance to produce a child.

This stuff is nobody's business. If more people would mind their own business and keep their fantasies to themselves, and leave other people alone to live their lives as they need to, we wouldn't be having such stupid public conversations. I wouldn't be writing this admittedly stupid and sarcastic blog entry. I know where to go pee, and I know I'm a woman. I'm just not sure that the idiots in charge now would agree with me.

You do know the rest of the world laughs at us, right? The only thing that keeps them from actually laughing in our faces is the fact that we have the largest military machine ever and they don't want to piss off anybody who has the codes to the nuclear bombs.

What happens in my body is not your business. Where I go pee is not your business. Who I sleep with is not your business. Why do you think it is your business? I don't poke my nose into your business. Why must you stick yours in mine?

I think it is a lack of empathy, I really do. That means a person can understand and share the feelings of other people. Ultimately there is a certain and admittedly large group of people who cannot think of other people without judgment or any ability to feel or think about what the "others" might be thinking or feeling. I don't know where this comes from, if it is genetic or upbringing or religious indoctrination or what, but it is there. Maybe it's the result of the 1970s "me" generation, the bunch of us brought up on 7-Up who believe we're the only ones who matter and to hell with everybody else.

If you have empathy, generally speaking, you don't have "others" in your life. You have people who think differently, who seem to be thinking with their emotions and not their heads, or you have people of other races who see things in a different way, but they are still human beings to you and they still function like you do, peeing and putting on their pants one leg at a time. Sleeping and eating, drinking, trying to do the best they can with whatever their lot in life has turned out to be. And if you have empathy, you can see that lot, and see perhaps how a person ended up there, living in a box or living alone, or living with a house full of 19 children. You can see how they are doctors or plumbers or farmers or writers. Maybe you disagree with the decisions that got them to that place, but you can feel for them and understand that maybe they need some help, or maybe not, or maybe they are happy, or maybe not, and that all of them need to go potty somewhere or another and holding it in the shopping mall isn't always possible.

Much of the stuff in the media today - the war against women (yes, I believe there is one), the backlash against the same-sex marriage ruling by the Supreme Court, immigration - all of the issues that make headlines because they sell news, exists simply to divert our attention away from the really important matters. The really important matters are things like appointing another justice to the Supreme Court because we are one short. Or how companies do not pay taxes. Or the lack of jobs and the loss of the middle class. Banks that are too big to fail. Big money that pays for politicians. More people in prison than any other nation per capita. Cutting welfare and trying to end Social Security and undermining all of the social safety nets that a truly modern and progressive and yes, the very best country in the world, would have in place, not destroy.

We would be focusing on making unions strong again, bringing power back to the people and taking it from the hands of the few and giving it back to the arms of the many, but instead the media - big corporate power - plays to our emotions and gives us stories about who goes to what bathroom.

It's a farce. It's a ploy. It's a game created to divert our attention, to divide and conquer, to destroy the things that keep people hopeful and happy. A game played by people who don't have to worry about their next meal. They don't care if you have one, you know. They would just as soon take your pennies as give you a free lunch.

When will we wake up? It's a bad dream, the world we live in now. Wake up America. Because of the things that we've dismantled, we are no longer great. We're just a third world has-been of a nation now, with a growing population of poor. All of those hot-button issues aren't going to make us a great country again.

Where you pee doesn't make you a great country. Great statesmen who have empathy for their fellow human beings make great countries.

Find those leaders, men and women. Vote out the assholes in the Congress and Senate. Find the empathy, and you will find your country.

And then we'll all know where to go pee.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Small Minds

--------------------------------------------------R A N T --------------------------------------------------------

It's a little early to start worrying about a non-existent war on Christmas, isn't it? Already I'm seeing those posts on Facebook that say " It's Merry Christmas not Happy Holidays. If you don't agree, leave the USA."

Happy Holidays means "Happy Holy Days" and if Christmas is a holy day to Christians, then I don't see the problem. I haven't heard of anyone being shot or arrested for saying Merry Christmas so of course you are free to say it. Nobody's told you that you can't buy a Christmas tree, either.

This is much ado about nothing, a lot of bluster and air over something that exists only in the minds of small-thinking people who want to think they are persecuted but have no clue what persecution truly is. When Christians in the US are being shot or beaten by the dozens for being baptized, get back to me. There are more important things to worry about than some store clerk saying "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas."

If your skin is that thin, stay home in the dark with the TV and the lights off, and your hands on that Bible that you probably never read.


END RANT

Monday, July 13, 2015

The One Where I Weigh in on Marriage

In my local paper today, a "pastor" wrote about his opposition to same-sex marriage.

No big surprise there.

But one paragraph caught my eye:

To call a same-sex union marriage is an affront to a holy God. God considers marriage, ethnicity and life as sacred. Marriage is far more than male and female becoming one physically, but the result is a child. Marriage that cannot produce children naturally is a counterfeit, a secular impostor claiming sacred status. (emphasis mine)


Note that this fellow is saying that ANY marriage that doesn't produce children is counterfeit. Unworthy. Not holy, even if that initial ceremony was performed in a church by a minister, with both parties avowing their love before their God.

As a happily married woman of 32 years, one who lives in a union that produced no children because of medical reasons, I say this:

Go fornicate with yourself, you venomous toad.

This idiot has denigrated me, my husband, and my marriage. He has spat upon the marriage of every childless couple in this country. He has negated the marriage of every older person to another - because I assure you, there aren't many 60-year-olds having children.

He has insulted my father's second marriage, one that is bringing him much comfort in his later years.

This imbecile is talking about same-sex marriage, but he doesn't stop there. His paragraph goes on to include all marriages that do not produce children, so he's including me in his rant.

So I am ranting back. What makes this pea-brain think he is the authority on anything, much less my marriage? I don't even know this person and he has insulted my integrity. He reads from a different Bible than I, for mine advocates love and forgiveness, not mass judgments.

It also doesn't define marriage like we do today. What we have today is a human interpretation of the words, but the words themselves aren't actually in the Bible.

So there, fool.

Incidentally, I have no problem with same-sex marriage. I don't have a problem with old folks having nuptials. I don't have a problem with two people marrying and not having children.

I do have a problem with people whose intelligence is lower than a snake belly being in places of leadership, such as a pulpit (or Congress).

What is wrong with these religious zealots that they can't live their own lives, and leave the rest of us alone?