Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Stages of ... what is this I'm feeling?

This tracks some of the emotional and intellectual roller coaster I've been riding the last couple of weeks.


The five stages of grief are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

Denial was a long process for me. I think that stage started the second time Bush was elected. I disengaged in a fundamental way after a conversation with my Dad in which he gently suggested that Bush might win. And it was as if I was reliving that moment while watching the returns come in, in favor of DJT. I had to go to bed and bury my head in the pillows. (depression maybe?) But I've been doing that since Bush.

It was like when I came to the startling realization that people don't care about evidence. THAT was dumb-founding to me. How intellectually elitist of me to think that there was another way to operate in life that didn't call upon reasoning, weighing the evidence, asking "is that reasonable"? I'm serious about the intellectual elitist part. I do think less of people who don't use the scientific method, or who can be tricked into thinking something is real when it isn't. I really do think I'm better than them.

People actually thought - I mean ACTUALLY gave credence to the truthiness of the idea that the world was going to go straight to hell (figuratively, not literally) once Obama was elected. And despite all the evidence to the contrary assert that he was an ineffective president and that they were right all along. Contrast that with my pride and joy and gratitude and love for who I got to be as an American because Obama was my president. What did I care what those imbecilic, poorly raised, intentionally dim-witted, racist, grotesque anomalies thought? (ok, that might be anger) The world was moving forward and leaving them behind.

A lot of good that way of being does me in the current surreal reality tv reality. The links in the previous paragraph are URLs to google searches. On November 23, 2016 the "facts of obama presidency" search looked like this:

Who knows what this search will look like 6 months into a DJT presidency. The fake news wave surrounding this election, not to mention the "trusted" news networks that gave DJT so much free advertising through out the campaign have left all of us, intellectual elites and luddites both, suspicious of... well suspicious of everyone. And worse, gave legitimacy to the anti-intellectual.

Which leaves us in the beginning stages of a fascist regime in which it is quite possible historians will look back and say "why did they let this happen?". As an intellectual, I look at history, at what has gone before to inform me of when a tyrant appears - to be able to recognize it when it shows up. And we have, we did, we pointed it out, we called it by name. And it fell on deaf ears.

I find it odd that the anti-establishment vote is counting on the establishment to work well enough to withstand a take-over by an autocratic despot. I'm not so sure.


What if I'm as deluded as those people who thought that the world was going to end with Obama's presidency? Hear me out for a second... I think I'm smart, I've got some evidence for it, but I didn't see this coming. We are all talking about our bubbles. After Bush, I said I would never be blind-sided like that again. Lotta good that did. Even the actions I took to ensure I had a broader view did nothing. I didn't know people thought it was the end of the world when Obama was elected. They weren't in my experience.

So what if? I have great respect for the fact that our brain gives us the world we interact in. And our context gives us how the world looks. If you alter your context, everything looks different. Altering your context is hard because it's invisible, you can't see the thing you see with. It's true for your eyes and it's true for your context. And if you look for evidence for that there is another context, you can find it. Again I say it's hard because no one wants to look for another context, another perspective so to speak.

There are people out in the US that are not terrified of a DJT presidency. It's weird, but they aren't. They are excited, thrilled even. That is a perspective that doesn't come easy to me, but I can easily see it in others. And if I don't just attribute it to their stupidity and ism-ness, what might I learn?

Here is what I know I don't know - I don't know anything about DJT - apparently he's written a book, The Art of the Deal, where he describes how he goes about winning. I've never read it. I've never watched his shows - which some people love. I'm not a business person - I'm a scientist, I leave business up to others who (to be honest I used to think couldn't cut it in science - I mean...why get a business degree??). There's an art and maybe even a science to business. I guess. I've never applied myself to it.

So given this is what we've got, I've got some schooling to do. I've started to read things that seem to indicate that DJT is just doing his thing - it's a way of getting what he wants and he's pretty good at that. There is evidence that people get trampled on his way to getting what he wants, and I must never lose vigilance about that. And stand for what I know is right. But I'm gonna go eat some crow - find another perspective and see if I can see what so many others are seeing.

'Cause what I have been doing hasn't made the difference I'm committed to making in this world.

Thursday, November 10, 2016


I woke up this morning with that word on my mind.

Do you remember when "antidisestablishmentarianism" was the longest word in the English language? I say 'remember when' because in reality there are words that are much longer - but if you don't count technical words (the chemical name of tin has almost 190 000 letters) or coined words, it still is the longest word. I remember teaching myself that word because it felt so good rolling off my tongue.

But it also taught me about English, about  how it is perfectly legitimate to add prefixes or suffixes to words to make a new word or meaning. So I laugh when people tell me things aren't really words - like ongoingly, 'cause - sure it is. Just because it gets a squiggly red line under it, doesn't mean it's not a real word - you can make out its meaning. That's English for you.

Historically, antidisestablishmentarianism (go ahead, say it out loud) referred to a political position that opposed proposals to remove the Anglican church as the established church throughout most of England. Just for shits and giggles, lets dissect this word instead of looking at it historically.

Let's look at this word from the base "establishment".

establishment - a public institution
dis establishment -  having a negative, or reversing force - against the establishment
anti disestablishment - opposition to disestablishment (ugh, double negatives)
antidisestablishment ary - pertaining to opposition to disestablishment
antidisestablishmentar ian - someone who is opposed to disestablishment
antidisestablishmentarian ism - the movement  associated with being opposed to disestablishment

I guess the elections of 2016 will go down in history as a sort of antiestablishmentarianism. I have this election on my mind. In fact I'm writing this - right now - just so I don't brood. Hell, let's brood a little bit - haven't you thought about the end of the world as we know it? Not the song. But the event - it's all the rave in young adult fiction (which is awesome, btw). You've probably enjoyed the story line at the theaters - The Hunger Games, Maze Runner, Divergent. I'm currently reading the Emberverse series by S.M. Sterling about an event referred to only as "the Change". I love this shit. I've had thoughts all my life about making the world a better place... which typically (and weirdly) concludes with thoughts like - well lets erase this one first.

There are so many things not to like about how our government - the establishment - works. And I've often thought, "Gah, we need to do something, but it's so big - so established..." and then the train of thought usually ends with something like "shit! that was my stop, now I'm gonna be late for work...".

Watch the pilot episode of Designated Survivor. I'm not recommending that plan - but hell, I'm clearly not the only one who's thought it.

I've never been more proud to be American than when we elected Obama as president. It felt like such a huge thing, like we were making great strides, then the supreme court ruling on marriage equality, it almost made the ineffectuality of our republican congress palatable because we were growing as a nation - species even. I am quite aware now that my views on the last 8 years aren't shared by all. I'm trying to wrap my head around what happened and I'm usually pretty good at seeing the others point of view, but really? You were that threatened by a black family in our sacred white house!?

I know that my point of view is likely skewed - I was one of those who took him literally and didn't take him seriously, while his supporters took him seriously and not literally. I don't believe that politicians will do what they say (even the best ones), so why was I so sure he'd honor his words that I found so nauseating?

And I know he's not the first rapist to live at the white house, and legally he just played the system so he didn't have to pay taxes, and all his justifications about how you do business are a valid (if deplorable) strategy. And I really think/fear/hope that the establishment is going to be so ravaged by his attempt...

no... what I really fear is... The establishment is going to get rid of him and running rampant will destroy so much of what we have accomplished, and this ground swelling of change (even tho it's not how I would have brought it about) will come to an abrupt halt, shattered before it had time to transform into something new (and potentially beautiful).

Yes. I want him to succeed. I want him to prove me wrong. I want the role he has accepted to transform him, to have him value the spirit as well as the word of the bill of rights. To have this movement to up-end the establishment be an unprecedented peaceful resolution to what isn't working with our great country.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

The Establishment lost last night

This is what the 21st century peasant revolt looks like. It's not just the United States. It's a global phenomenon. People are tired of the establishment. They are revolting against the establishment. The people want a say. It makes me laugh with tears a little to see the poster child of the people uprising against the elite, but there it is.

Hillary was the establishment. She is an amazing woman who I am proud to have voted for and she was the epitome of the establishment. Hell, we democrats also had the opportunity to turn the whole thing on it's head with our "people's candidate", but... as a party we are a little too much ok with the establishment. Remember when we said only that ultra-progressive could beat the likes of their front runner in their primary? Remember how we mocked them for how their base, those peasants, couldn't tow the line and work it from the inside - like we were going to do? If the system worked the way it was supposed to, we would have had a progressives voice in this uprising. Kind of points to why the establishment lost, doesn't it?

After the crying at 4 am this morning, and the crushing despair, I had to deal with reality. Hello reality, good to meet you. We voted in a black man 8 years ago to change it all, and that didn't work. I've never been prouder to be an American with a black man at the helm of my country, but even that extraordinary leader couldn't make a dent in what doesn't work about this vast machinery.

So this is what a peasants revolt looks like. It is a boil that must be lanced - painful, messy and smelly. But its what is there to be dealt with.

Here is your charge: Be light. In every meaning of the word.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness. Only light can do that.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
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Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Martin Luther King, Jr.
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