Link Me Up, Scotty - The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly Edition

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Pal Rachael talks about Pokémon Go, and why it's a fun game for all ages. The only thing she's wrong about is that team Blue is not the best team. That would be team Red.
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My favorite Christian Pastor on why he'll never support the Trumpsicle.
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Are you a Harry Potter fan? Then it's unlikely you support Lord Voldemort the Trumpsicle for the Presidency, according to a University of Pennsylvania study. READING IS FUNDAMENTAL, Y'ALL.

H/T Sister Ellen
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John Scalzi with commentary on the GOP convention, otherwise known as the biggest flaming shit-sack of the century. I really miss the days when the GOP fielded candidates I would actually consider.
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From the "people are awesome" files: a construction worker named Jason Haney was working on a building next to a hospital. So he and his daughter made an 8' "Waldo" and he hides it several times each day somewhere on the site for the hospitalized kids to find. The project has its own Facebook page, and the family is now working on some cut-out Minions for their next project. THERE'S SOMETHING IN MY EYE.
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A compelling analysis of the appeal of Donald Trump, or why your friends and neighbors who support him aren't necessarily idiots and racists (although they might be). 

H/T Brother Seth
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In Louisville, KY, there's a group of black teen boys who roam the community, looking for yards to mow. For free. They won't accept payment for their work from the homeowners, many of whom cannot get out and mow their own lawns, but they do have a GoFundMe page to help maintain their equipment (which wears out fast), and to fund an annual chartered trip to Disney World for the boys who choose to participate.

H/T Brother Vince
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LeBron James has donated approximately $41M to send 1,100 kids from his home public school district to college on full scholarships. Sports don't interest me much, and quite frankly I think the salaries that professional players at James' level demand says more about our values as a community than I want to know. But I do respect those who have been given much, and choose to give in return. Bravo, LeBron.
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A reminder to foster our inner light in times of trouble. Good advice at any time.
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Video of my Heart: Ward+Robes creates designer hospital gowns for very ill teens. I love this idea so very much. Science can give these kids the best chance of recovery, but being a sick teen is hard enough without being unable to explore your individuality. Brava!

H/T Sister Carolyn


Link Me Up, Scotty - Count your blessings edition

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

A year in the life of the migrant farm workers who pick blueberries. Tell me again how people of color are taking jobs away from HARD WORKING AMERICANS. This is a terribly difficult life, not only for the adults, but for their children who must move with the harvest.

H/T Steve
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If you've asked yourself "how the fuck can Donald Trump be the Republican candidate for President?" here's a syllabus of readings that help explain the rise of the Trumpsicle.
The readings below introduce observers to the past and present conditions that allowed Trump to seize electoral control of a major American political party. By extension, this syllabus acknowledges the intersectional nature of power and politics. The course emphasizes the ways that cultural capital like Trump’s grows best under certain socio-economic conditions. Trump’s open advocacy for race-based exclusion and politically motivated violence on matters both foreign and domestic cannot be separated from the historical and day-to-day inequalities endured by people of color, women, and religious minorities living in or migrating to the United States. Concerned less with Trump as a man than with “Trumpism” as a product of history, this course interrogates the connections between wealth, violence, and politics.
There's a lot to digest here. I better get to reading.

H/T Sister Ellen
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A person of privilige unpacks why he's a racist, in spite of himself.

H/T Debbie the Librarian
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Stephen Colbert's RNC Bingo Card. I'm afraid I won't be playing this year - the idea of watching those paragons of intellectual ability Scott Baio and Jerry Falwall is too much for me to handle.

H/T Steve
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Popehat's Ken White on the dangers of cynicism.
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Check out these Depression era library posters. We've come a long way, baby.

H/T Sister Carolyn
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An important note on why it's important not to let politics or the election get in the way of nurturing your relationships or providing meaning to your life. The money quote:
But the greatest mistake you could ever make, is either believing that hope is lost or that salvation is secured simply because of what transpires on Election Day. No human being gives your life meaning or renders it meaningless.

You get to decide that: with your voice, your hands, your words, your breath.
Just so. While I'm passionate about my political opinions and will absolutely vote my conscience, I determined earlier in the year to stop discussing politics with people I care about (with a few rare exceptions). Because as the Smart Man says, politics is poison when it comes to interpersonal relationships, and I don't want to poison my relationships with the people I care about. 

The Bad Old Days

Monday, July 18, 2016

It's time for another Facebook meme, this time courtesy of longtime reader Anissa. This one's about my Senior year of High School. The year was 1983...

1. Did you know your spouse? No. We didn't meet until I was in my early thirties. Worth the wait!

2. Did you car pool to school? No. I was anti-social even then.

3. What kind of car did you drve? A Volkswagon Rabbit. I loved that car.

4. What kind of car do you have now? A Fiat 500 Abarth and a Jeep Patriot. 


5. It's Friday night... where were you? Working. I had to work every Friday night.


6. What kind of job did you have in high school?
I was a soda jerk at a local ice cream parlor. 

7. What kind of job do you have now? I'm a systems engineer. I design contact centers for Fortune 500 companies.

8. Were you a party animal? Sort of. As much as a party animal as you can be when you tend towards the anti-social.


9. Were you a cheerleader? You're kidding, right? Although I was good friends with a couple.


10. Were you considered a jock? Not even a little. 


11. Were you in band, orchestra, or choir? Yes. I was in the chorale.


12. Were you a nerd? A closet nerd. I loved Star Trek, and read incessantly, so ended up being a nerd almost in spite of myself. 


13. Did you get suspended or expelled? No, but I barely graduated. Apparently I had better things to do than to "attend class" or "do my work."


14. Can you sing the fight song? Was there a fight song?


15. Who was/were your favorite high school teacher? Probably Mr. Weatherbee, whom I've written about before.


16. Where did you sit for lunch? Out at the gate where we could smoke. 


17. What was your school's full name? Wheat Ridge High School. 


18. What was your school mascot? The Farmers. No, I'm not making that up. 


19. If you could go back and do it again, would you? Shit, no. Mostly what I remember from my senior year is that I couldn't wait for it to be OVER.


20. Did you have fun at prom? Not really. Another one of those events where I was "expected" to go, but can't remember why I did so. 


21. Do you still talk to the person you went to Prom with? No. 


22. Are you planning on going to your next reunion? I've never been to a HS reunion. I usually to attend the annual get together for the equestrian group I was in, though. I spent more time with those kids than I did with my school-mates.


23. Are you still in contact with people from high school? Not really. But I do still have contact with the kids from my equestrian group. 


24. What are/were your school's colors? Blue and gold?

Link Me Up, Scotty - Social Justice Edition

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

An entreaty for Christians to stop praying and start doing. The money quote:
God has given you here and now as the sacred space in which you get to reflect the character of Christ and alter the freakin’ thing in glorious, beautiful ways. This is God’s reply to your petitions.
If you stop asking God to do what God has already wired, commanded, and equipped you to do, your prayers will change. They won’t as often be delivered into the Heavens but into the mirror.
By this definition, I pray all the damn time. Not perfectly, not always consistently, but the essence of humanism and the categorical imperative is to serve and leave the world a better place. I think perhaps this is why I can so easily maintain deep and meaningful relationships with Christians who are in the "pray and do" camp, but despise and disrespect those in the "only pray" camp.
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Mr. Sulu is gay.  I love this homage to George Takei, and that fact that it's just one aspect of the character. I feel bad that Uncle George doesn't feel the same way, but that's what happens when you pass the torch.
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A fascinating article about white fragility. Protip: It's not the job of the oppressed to coddle the feelings of the oppressor.

H/T Sister Carolyn
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An analysis of who exactly supports Donald Trump and attends his rallies. TL:DR - it's complicated.

H/T Brother Eric
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Glamor shots of the sacred cows of Africa.
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Ezra Klein knocks it out of the park with an analysis of the Hillary Clinton campaign and her job performance as the SoS. I found his analysis especially important and interesting when you compare his conclusions about why Secretary Clinton excels in coalition building and governance with the skills (or lack thereof) that the Trumpsicle brings to the table. Of course, her strengths are also her weaknesses in some cases, and Ezra doesn't white-wash that aspect of her leadership style.
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Jason Momoa as Aquaman. Aquaman was always my favorite of the Justice League heroes, and Jason Momoa was inspired casting.
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Playboy with a handy, handy flow chart on whether or not you should catcall a woman. "Is she literally a cat?" HA.
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John Scalzi and why he doesn't consider himself an "activist." This analysis spoke to me, as I often consider myself in the same light as Scalzi. The only social justice issue on which I could remotely be called an activist is that of women who work in predominantly male fields, because, hey! I do that! And have for my entire adult life! My efforts at sea change may or may not have made a difference in the grand scheme of things, though. Sometimes I think it's important, other times...not so much.
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Video of my Heart: A Spice Girls cover expressing what girls really, really want.

H/T Brother Juan


Travel and privilege

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

I've been blogging about our recent Mediterranean Cruise lately, and I wanted to end that series with a note about privilege.

Overseas travel is expensive, and most people in the world don't have the wherewithal to be able to do it even once in their lives, let alone every few years. So being able to travel - especially out of country - is a hallmark of privilege, and one of which I'm acutely aware.

I had been to over fifteen countries before I was thirty years old. Over the next twenty years I visited seven more countries, with plans to expand on that total significantly in the next ten years. By any yardstick, this makes me incredibly privileged, and I want to take a moment to acknowledge that fact, and to be grateful for these opportunities.

The opportunity to see different countries, different cultures, different landscapes, is an amazing one. It changes your worldview, it broadens your mind, and gives you new things to think about. I'm incredibly grateful to have received these opportunities, and to continue to receive them moving forward.


It's complicated

Monday, July 11, 2016

The violence of the last week has made me heartsick. The loss of life is completely unnecessary, and the polarization of our society depresses me and makes me sad. I'm also distressed because there are so many white apologists in my feed. So I'm going to try and express how I feel, with a little help from some writers I admire.

Here's a great article about the BLM movement, and why the "All Lives Matter" response is often interpreted as race-bating. The money quote:
I’ve also seen some views that Black Lives Matter is the wrong phrase to use, or it is divisive or non-inclusive. Usually, this sentiment comes from white people, who seem to have a knee jerk reaction to BLM. But here’s the thing: as white people, we don’t get to dictate to an oppressed minority how they go about achieving their liberation. For too long, we have been the one’s standing in their way, the ones telling them what they can or cannot do. So for us to stand up now and say, “hey, we get what you are doing, but can you just say it a little nicer?” is the epitome of racial arrogance and lack of self awareness....Just as white people didn’t need to be emancipated, we don’t need to assert that our lives matter. We were never enslaved, and we were never the victims of terrorism and hatred supported by the state based on the color of our skin.
Here's the thing about why white apologists distress me so. No one in their right mind is suggesting that killing the innocent (either by police or by private citizens) is an appropriate response to these situations. NO ONE. So when white people proclaim that "all lives matter" in response to the BLM movement, whether they mean to or not, they're suggesting that black people do not have a unique experience in this country. Whether they mean to or not, they're suggesting that the black community has not endured generations of institutional racism, so if they were just higher quality people, they'd be able to "get their community squared away." Whether they mean to or not, they're suggesting that innocents killed by police officers somehow did something to deserve it other than "driving while black." Whether they mean to or not, they're suggesting that there isn't REALLY a problem with the police disproportionally killing black people, since, you know, ALL LIVES MATTER. In other words, the phrase "all lives matter" is racially charged language, like calling a full grown black man a "boy."

All of these unspoken interpretations lead to an us versus them mentality - a completely unnecessary one. People with the mental sophistication to be able to read and write can also understand that you can simultaneously deplore innocent black men being killed by white police and also deplore a gunman killing innocent police who are performing their duties. These are not mutually exclusive ideas, and much of the rhetoric I'm seeing implies that they are. THEY'RE NOT. "Picking sides" makes things infinitely worse, not better. 

We do not live in a colorblind society. Each community has their own challenges and concerns, and it behooves us all to try and see things from the other person's point of view. Watch this clip, and if you're white, ask yourself the pertinent question and provide an honest response, at least to yourself:


Alternatively, if you don't come from a law enforcement family* or have personal experience with law enforcement, go on a ride-along and learn what it's like.

I don't criticize the BLM movement as an institutional effort not only because I think they have a legitimate complaint, but because their experience is not my experience. When my son gets pulled over by the police and has done nothing more than drive with a busted tail-light, my expectation is that he'll get a citation, not a bullet to the chest. So it's not up to me to tell the black community how to react to these events, as I lack both personal and historical context to do so intelligently and with respect.

These issues are complicated. Really complicated, and emotionally charged, too. But there are solutions! Solutions that (ironically) the Dallas Police Department actually implemented and so reduced their excessive force complaints from 147 in 2009 to 13 in 2015. I wish all of us would spend just a little more time applying the reasonable person test, and admitting that these issues cannot be reduced to a single meme or soundbite.

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*Yes, I do come from a law enforcement/military family.

Random Thoughts and Words to Live By, Part 20

Friday, July 8, 2016

This week's words are from Internet user ariaste, grokked from The Mechanicky Gal:
Relationships are scary and complicated ONLY when you start thinking of your partner as some kind of adversary.

You know how to stop being scared of relationships? Remember that it's got a goddamned buddy system *built in.* That's all a relationship IS: "Let's approach life with the buddy system."

Check on your buddy. Make sure your buddy doesn't forget their lunchbox on the school bus. Hold hands with your buddy so you don't get lost. If your buddy wants to look at the monkey cage, look at the goddamn monkey cage with them. If you are the one looking at the monkey cage, ask your buddy what they want to do next, and when they want to feed the giraffe, help them find a quarter for the little food dispenser. Be a good buddy, and if your buddy isn't a good one too, tell the teacher and ask for a new one.

This isn't fucking rocket science, people.