Extrovert? Not so much...

Thursday, April 27, 2017

I recently finished a book entitled, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that can't Stop Talking, by Susan Cain. The author is a former Wall Street attorney who is an introvert herself, and wanted to learn about how our culture tends to reward extroverts and punish introverts, even though introverts have their own gifts. It's a best seller from several years ago, but my to-read pile is so enormous I'm just now getting around to it.

This book caused a great deal of self-examination for me. When I was younger, I thought I was 100% extrovert, because I had a talent for leadership and really wanted to share my ideas with others. This notion - that I was an extrovert, and that was the most desirable state to be in - was reinforced by the environments in which I lived and worked. Because let's face it - paramilitary and military environments don't really reward introverted behavior, especially when living quarters are cramped at best. 

And acting like an extrovert brought me professional success. I was promoted quickly in the Navy. I went from an entry-level technician position to a Senior Systems Engineer in six years when I began my civilian career. I worked hard, and enjoyed most aspects of my work. But I was also tired ALL THE TIME. Up until now, I'd considered the constant fatigue of those years to be a by-product of undiagnosed depression. I still think that's true, but I also think it was aggravated by my attempt to force my national tendency toward introversion into the mold of an extrovert.


My personality has many of the hallmarks of introversion:
  • Large, crowded events make my teeth hurt. Whenever I'm in a position where I have to attend a professional conference where the expectation is to be "always on" and I'm forced to be in crowded spaces, I become very uncomfortable. If it goes on long enough, I experience claustrophobia and anxiety. 
  • Being around people generally wears me out. It's not that I don't enjoy my relationships with other people, or enjoy spending time with them. I do. But when the visit is over, I'm ready to hide in my office and read, knit, or watch The West Wing on Netflix. I need quiet time to offset my social events in order to feel centered. And no good comes of my over-committing my social calendar. No good at all.
  • When it comes to learning styles, I prefer lecture or reading to more kinesthetic learning activities. Living inside my head comes naturally to me, and while I like sharing my ideas with others, my own learning is best served passively, or with a limited amount of the Socratic method. 
  • I absolutely detest working on "group projects." Ugh. For me, the perfect committee size is one, and I've always felt this way.
Of course no one is 100% introvert or 100% extrovert. Like sexuality, it's a continuum, and all of us fall somewhere in the spectrum. But reading this book has given me insight into how I can behave like an extrovert when I think it's required or expected (often, in my professional life), and yet still self-identify as an introvert the rest of the time. According to Ms. Cain, introverts are often capable of acting like extroverts for the sake of work they consider important, people they love, or anything the introvert values highly. This very clearly describes my own self-evaluation of my personality and behavior. My extroverted self serves my goals and my values, but it's not at the core of who I am.

Who I am is someone who would really rather read a book than go to an event. I'm someone who treasures time spent with people I love, but not in too large a group. I'm someone who will behave in an extroverted way in service to those I love or a core value, but needs some down-time after that. I'm someone who loves living a life of the mind, and strives to keep learning. And I'm someone who is trying to see clearly the value of introversion after 50 years of cultural conditioning telling me otherwise.



Emotional Labor and Activism

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

I am committed to activism. It's important to me that I be engaged in civil society, maintain a decent level of knowledge about current events, and act upon that knowledge in accordance with my values. It's important to me that I support those organizations that have personal meaning to me either through financial contributions or by donating my time to the cause.

But I'm not going to fool myself into believing that this commitment comes without a cost.

For me, that cost comes in the form of emotional labor. It takes intellectual and emotional work for me to support my values through volunteerism and activism. And sometimes the labor is light, and sometimes it's not.

And here lately, I've had other things that have been placing demands on my emotional labor. So I've been kind of lackadaisical about keeping track of the latest shenanigans coming out of White Nationalist Administration, and have not been contacting my Congressmen every day. I've been less engaged than usual with my volunteer activities. And that's okay.

We all have only so much emotional labor to go around, and needing to spend some on things other than politics and activism allows me to fulfill my obligations to those I care about, and also to myself. It just means I'll have to come back another day to fulfill my commitment to things that may be less personal to me.

So I'll probably be scarce around here in terms of Link Me Up posts and other content. I'm sure you all will find another dancing Internet monkey to entertain you in the meantime. I've always found Go Fug Yourself a source of endless entertainment if you're looking for something new.

Random Thoughts and Words to Live By, Part 22

Friday, April 14, 2017

Continually trying to make unreasonable people see reason is an exercise in futility. Sometimes it's an issue of a single (or multiple) blind spots, but sometimes the person is simply divorced from reality. Sometimes you can open the eyes of the former, but the most you can hope for in the latter case is to marginalize them to the best of your ability and hope they don't do any serious damage while you're waiting for them to go away.

Link Me Up, Scotty - Humble Pie Edition

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Infamous former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio's reign of bug-fuck crazy has reached a most ignominious end as his life's work is dismantled by wiser, more compassionate public servants and he faces charges of criminal contempt. Ah, karma, though art a spiteful and timeless purveyor of schadenfreude.
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It always astounds me when nutbags who work for other nutbags are suddenly all offended when their employers turn out to be...nutbags. The empty headed douchecanoe Tomi Lahren is suing the misogynistic never-met-a-conspiracy-he-didn't-believe douche-nozzle Glenn Beck for wrongful termination. Because apparently it never occurred to her that expressing an opinion that implied a woman might have some agency would be anathema to a the alt right. Living in a state of denial must be so comforting.
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Funny library signs. Libraries really are a place where a large variety of people congregate. Sometimes to the librarian's chagrin.

H/T Debbie the Librarian
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Looks like 45 and his White Nationalist Administration are feeling a little pressure as their 100 day anniversary looms, as it does not appear that this milestone will be kind to them. Reality: You can't really wish it away, no matter how much money you have. 
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An opinion piece on how far medicine has come in the treatment and care of transgender youth. Providing appropriate medical care to these youngsters can literally be a matter of life and death for them, as their historical suicide attempt rate during adolescence is almost 50%. With treatment, early indications show a marked decline in this statistic, which, in my opinion, more than justifies this standard of care world-wide.
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From the "Restoring My Faith in Humanity" files: Repo man not only pays off an elderly couple's vehicle after being forced to repossess it, but now helps the wife, a new widow, address some tough financial times.
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Moyers & Company releases a list of top independent investigative journalism organizations. I don't agree with all these choices - Mother Jones, says the liberal, has some serious bias issues. But there's enough meat in there to justify passing it along. See especially: ProPublica.
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John Oliver wants to buy some commercial air time on the O'Reilly Factor. Because of course he does, magnificent beast that he is.
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The 2017 Pultizers have been announced, and I'm pleased and proud that so many of the nominees and winners have a prominent place in my "Today's sources" list on every Link Me Up entry. The truth matters, y'all.
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It's National Library Week! Take a moment to support or celebrate your local library. Libraries have the opportunity to be a pivotal member of their communities, not only providing materials for check out, but programming, resources (such as Internet access and computers), homework help, seminars on starting your own business, meeting rooms, and more. You probably already support them with your tax dollars, but most libraries measure their success by how much they engage with their communities. So engage today and see what your library has to offer!
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The Hubble Space Telescope now has its own website so you can check out what its looking at and why, including links to the accepted proposal.

H/T Brother Tom
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Video of my Heart: An oldy but goody, the Chattanooga Fire Department resorts to disco to liven up their PSA about CPR. I especially enjoy the disco balls hanging from the booms on the Fire Trucks.




Today's sources:
  • The Washington Post: Mainstream Media source with minimal partisan bias and a high degree of factual reporting. 
  • CNN: Mainstream Media source with minimal partisan bias and basic reporting. 
  • Daily Mail: Right biased media source with a mixed degree of factual reporting. 
  • Politico: Left-Center bias with a high degree of factual reporting. 
  • New York Times: Mainstream media source with a minimal partisan bias and a high degree of factual reporting. 
  • Good News Network: A clearinghouse for the gathering and dissemination of positive news stories from around the globe.
  • Moyers & Co: Left-Center bias with a high degree of factual reporting. 
  • I Love Libraries: An initiative of the American Library Association (ALA), designed to keep America informed about what’s happening in today’s libraries.
  • Space Telescope Live: A live website displaying the current view of the Hubble Space Telescope with links to the accepted proposal.  

Link Me Up, Scotty - Such a Badass Edition

Thursday, April 6, 2017

The story of Etta Shiber, an American housewife whose work in the Paris Underground during WW II saved approximately 150 soldiers who were in hiding in France after the Nazi invasion. "Even the smallest person can change the course of the future.”
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Winners of the Sony World Photography Contest. 
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Bill O'Reilly and 45: birds of a feather, and both awful, awful human beings. 
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Also, Why is Trump failing? Because Americans hate his agenda, and it's also based on lies. The Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire-in-Chief is learning the hard way about the old adage about fooling all of the people, all of the time. What a shame. 
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These high school journalists forced their principal to resign with some good old-fashioned investigative journalism. This is why I'm not interested in your crappy opinion about Millennials. In my experience, this generation is smart, focused, and intensely interested in the world around them. 
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And speaking of high school badassery, young Ifeoma White-Thorpe has been accepted into all eight Ivy League schools. Oh, and Sanford. That, too. And this kid from North Dakota is in the same boat sans Sanford. And also this kid from Oklahoma. Because those Millennials are all such slackers, don't you know.   
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I can't decide if this Mariachi cover of Van Halen's Hot for Teacher is horrifying or off the hook. You decide.

H/T Charles
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Video of the Day: Alonzo Lerone Reads detention slips from real students.




Today's sources:
  • Smithsonian: A source consisting of legitimate science and evidence based stories through the use of credible scientific sourcing with a very high degree of factual reporting.
  • The Atlantic: Skews left with a high degree of factual reporting and in-depth news.
  • The Washington Post: Mainstream Media source with minimal partisan bias and a high degree of factual reporting.
  • The Sacramento Bee: Mainstream media source with a left-center bias and a high degree of factual reporting. 

Link Me Up, Scotty - Managing What Matters Edition

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

My favorite Christian Pastor on the marginalization of families of color compared to our obsession with 45's shitstorm of daily Tweets on the supposed State of the Union. Some things matter. Other things don't. And I would say the disappearance of young girls of color matter far more than 45's most recent temper tantrum.
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Rescue dogs are the bomb-diggity, and we still don't know exactly how the olfactory sense works. A short synopsis about what we know so far, including an appearance by Sue, the Chicago Field Museum's T-Rex.
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A spinach leaf is transformed into beating human heart tissue. No shit.

H/T Brother Juan
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45's popularity is steadily dropping - it's now lower than President Obama's worst approval rating over his entire presidency. But that's not really the bad news for 45 and his White Nationalist Administration. His approval rating is dropping among his base. 
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Remember those Turd-Pops who tried to discredit Planned Parenthood with their "undercover videos" that turned out to be complete B.S.? Yeah. Them. They've been charged with15 felony counts of violating the privacy of health-care providers by recording confidential information without their consent. I believe that people of good conscience can fundamentally disagree about the topic of abortion - I believe it to be a real moral dilemma, and I respect the positions of those who disagree with my own analysis. But I have to ask - if your position is so all-fired righteous, why do you need to lie and mislead in order to further your point of view? Douchebags.
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I swear, Sean Spicer has gone completely off the rails, condescending to and insulting April Ryan, White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief for American Urban Radio Networks. On television. And women - including Hillary Clinton, who is now making public forays once again - are not having it. 
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Oh, look - Republicans in Washington, D.C. care more about corporate America's desires than they do about their constituents. Shocked. Shocked I am by this turn of events. Every day we come closer to Corporations becoming our actual government, and it makes me more than a little ill. 
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Today's sources:
  • Things That Need to be Said: The personal blog of Pastor John Pavlovitz.
  • PBS Newshour: Skews left but still reliable source of news with highly factual reporting.
  • National Geographic: Consists of legitimate science or are evidence based through the use of credible scientific sourcing with a high degree of factual reporting. 
  • The Washington Post: Mainstream media source with minimal partisan bias and a high degree of factual reporting. 

Ravenclaws, Unite!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Do you love the Harry Potter stories? Do you love to read, and want to share reading with underserved children who may not otherwise have an opportunity to develop a love of reading?

Then this fundraiser is for you!

The Harry Potter Alliance, a charitable organization dedicated to encourage Harry Potter fans to be active in advocacy, is holding their Annual "Accio Books!" fundraiser in support of the Friends of the Apparating Library initiative. The purpose of the fundraiser is to provide books to underserved youngsters:
For millions of children across the world, basic access to books and literacy programs is hardly a given. The Harry Potter Alliance is engaged in a permanent campaign to balance the scales. Our ultimate goal is to raise 1 million books for schools, community centers, and literacy programs across the world. We also endeavor to build 25 permanent libraries in places that need them. Last year, we had our most successful Accio Books yet, with over 100,000 books raised for 50 literacy programs across the world and a new library established at a new school in Masaka, Uganda!

This year, we are partnering with Words Alive, an organization that provides literacy and education services to over 5,000 children and families in Southern California. HPA chapters and members will raise thousands of books for Words Alive, allowing the organization to provide quality books to students of all ages for many years to come. Many chapters outside the western United States will choose to donate books to schools and programs in their local communities. Overall, we expect to match last year’s incredible effort, with dozens of communities across the world transformed by the generosity of our members.
As you all know, libraries are a passion of mine, and while I love to work with and donate to my local Library District, my County is hardly underserved in this regard. So it's a good thing to support communities who may not have as many resources to share in encouraging a love of reading.

Reading is fundamental, y'all, and lifelong readers reap the following rewards:
  1. Reduces stress
  2. Improves conversations
  3. It may push back the effects of Alzheimer's disease
  4. Increases imagination
  5. Sharpens senses
  6. Improves sleep quality
  7. Boosts analytical thinking
  8. Grows brain cells
  9. Improves empathy
  10. Increases success in life
But kids can't enjoy these benefits unless they have access to books and are encouraged to read. 
Are you a Ravenclaw (like me)? A Gryffindor? A Hufflepuff? A Slytherin? Support the cause by donating to your House Team, and get a chance at neat prizes!

Link Me Up, Scotty - TFP Edition

Friday, March 24, 2017

A man who was so enamored of Trump that he quit paying his mortgage and sold his business' equipment to follow him all over the country during the campaign now feels betrayed. I want to be absolutely clear, here - no one feels more empathy for this father at the loss of his son to addiction than I do. No one. And yet I find I'm completely unsympathetic to his sense of betrayal. This is what happens when you put your faith in a serial, compulsive liar who suffers from narcissistic personality disorder, and it's not like he didn't have plenty of data to draw from in making his decisions. 
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I find this article about how the Koch Brothers' are threatening incumbent Republicans to vote "no" on the new Health Care to be the scariest fucking thing I've read this week, in a week full of scary fucking things. You don't often see the money = votes dynamic of our political system so brazenly on display. But why shouldn't they be brazen? They have everything to gain and nothing to lose by being so.
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And speaking of scary fucking things, 45 has once again taken leave of any passing acquaintance he may have with facts to Tweet complete falsehoods about his Administration and government agencies following testimony by FBI Director Comey and NSA head Admiral Rogers to the House Intelligence Committee. I swear, the guy does not even live in the same universe as us. Check out this analysis for further research on the Liar, Liar Pants on Fire-in-Chief.
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Democrats are planning to filibuster Judge Gorsuch's nomination to the Supreme Court. While this may be an emotionally satisfying tactical decision, I'm not sure that's it's the best strategic decision for Democrats at this time. A change in the rules on this issue is something BOTH parties will have to live with.
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Want to know why our political climate is so polarized? Don't look at the Internet.
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Get your cutes on with these photos of adopted pooches in their new digs. And it's National Puppy Day! And here are some sled dogs getting their mush on!
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We have met the enemy, and they're inside us. More than two thirds of all cancers may be caused by random DNA mutation during cell division. On the other hand, lifestyle choices that promote health are never a bad idea, because there's always that additional 29%.
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Am I the only one who's getting an increased number of solicitation calls on my cell phone these days? Well, the FCC wants to help block at least the Robo-calls. Since my cell number has been on the Federal Do Not Call list since 2011, the current regulations clearly aren't working. Also, note to outbound call center agents: I know how your technology works. So don't tell me you're "having a problem with your headset" when your autodialer doesn't connect you to a live answer right away. You're not having a problem with your headset, you're technology is just shitty.
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Libby Bakalar of One Hot Mess is at it again, this time with a confirmed study that the size of a dead fish correlates directly to the penis size of the man holding it. It's obviously true because SCIENCE.
________

Today's sources:
  • The Washington Post: Mainstream media source with minimal bias and a high degree of factual reporting.  
  •  CNN: Mainstream media source without in-depth investigation and a high degree of factual reporting. 
  • Slate: Skews left with a high degree of factual reporting and in-depth news. 
  • Eternally Sunny: Media aggregator for positive stories. 
  • The Atlantic: Skews left with a high degree of factual reporting and in-depth news. 
  • The Boston Globe: Skews left with a high degree of factual reporting. 
  • One Hot Mess: The personal blog of Libby Bakalar.

News and Updates from the Big Brown House

Thursday, March 23, 2017

1. We ordered the new floors for the common areas on the main floor the other day. We decided on something called "deluxe vinyl" because it claims to be kid-proof, pet-proof, and has a lifetime warranty. Here's the sample:

"A De-Luxe Apartment in the Sky"
The chaos begins April 17th, and Miss Jackson Pi will be visiting the kennel/day care while it's being installed. Because nobody needs her help with this project - especially not me.

2. Spring is apparently here. All my trees and bushes are budding, and my flowers are starting to come up. Which means, of course, that we're expecting a snowstorm this evening into tomorrow. Because that's how we roll here in Colorado. In the meantime, I've ordered the first raised bed for our yard, and have my "How to Start a Vegetable Garden" pamphlet from the Farmer's Almanac. I intend to plant tomatoes, broccoli, peppers and zucchini. If it goes well, I might try flowers in the next one. 
Preparing for our dystopian future by growing our own food.

3. Miss Jackson Pi was admitted to our local animal hospital on Wednesday morning. She'd been refusing to eat, and when she started vomiting up her water, there was blood in it. So off we went, so she could get some IV fluids, an X-Ray, and an ultra-sound. They don't know specifically what's wrong with her, so are treating her symptomatically, and hopefully she'll be able to come home later today. She still feels pretty crappy, but we're hoping she's on the mend.

Link Me Up, Scotty - Healthcare Edition

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Business Insider reports on Direct Primary Care, This is a new trend in health care whereby the patient pays a set monthly fee and then sees their Primary Care Physician whenever they want, with no insurance, and no additional fees. Discounted prescriptions are included, but specialty medicine, hospital stays, etc. are not. I'm very intrigued by this idea, and if the restriction about using HSA funds to pay the monthly fee are removed, I might consider changing our plan to accommodate something like this.
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In case you missed it, here is one giant fucking chicken. Clever boy.
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National Geographic has launched a tool that allows you to print out detailed topographical maps. Maps (and information) want to be free!
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This entrepreneur has a company that's worth $100M, and it all started with a condescending douche. Well, at least they're good for something. 
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The NY Times on Comey's testimony and what it means for 45's administration now and in the future. And the implosion begins in five...four...three...two...
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Speaking of 45, here's a thought provoking piece about why some Trump supporters do not deserve our sympathy. When you choose an action, you choose the consequences of that action. The money quote:
That makes it all the more a fool’s errand for Democrats to fudge or abandon their own values to cater to the white-identity politics of the hard-core, often self-sabotaging Trump voters who helped drive the country into a ditch on Election Day. They will stick with him even though the numbers say that they will take a bigger financial hit than Clinton voters under the Republican health-care plan. As Trump himself has said, in a rare instance of accuracy, they won’t waver even if he stands in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoots somebody. While you can’t blame our new president for loving 'the poorly educated' who gave him that blank check, the rest of us are entitled to abstain. If we are free to loathe Trump, we are free to loathe his most loyal voters, who have put the rest of us at risk.
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Oh, look - a local Colorado Republican who's long on conspiracy theories and short on facts asserted pretty vehemently in 2016 that only Democrats commit voter fraud has been charged by Weld County prosecutors with...wait for it...voter fraud. I hope they throw the book as this hypocritical motherfucker.
________

Today's sources:
  • Business Insider: Left-center bias with a high degree of factual reporting. 
  • CNN: Mainstream media source without in-depth investigation and a high degree of factual reporting. 
  • PetaPixel: Leading blog about photography. 
  • The Hustle: Cooperative news aggregator.
  • New York Times: Mainstream media source with minimal bias and a high degree of factual reporting. 
  • New York Magazine: Left bias with a high degree of factual reporting. 
  • The Washington Post: Mainstream media source with minimal bias and a high degree of factual reporting. 

Link Me Up, Scotty - Self-Care Edition

Friday, March 17, 2017

Here's some practical advice about sustainable self-care that does not include spending money you may or may not have. I especially dig items 4 and 5.

H/T Mistress Tania
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My very own Colorado Rockies celebrate Pi Day with style.
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My favorite Christian Pastor on why he's not the same since the 2016 election. Yeah. This. This was the election where I finally lost my ability to "agree to disagree." There is nothing about this President or this Administration that I will agree with, now or ever. And yes, I do hold those who voted for him completely responsible for the next four years.
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Vanguard America, a White Supremacist group that lives right out there with the Neo-Nazis and other whackadoos, is putting up flyers on college campuses with racist messages. 1st Amendment, she tells herself, 1ST AMENDMENT. But by all means, let's not shield these racist fuckpops from the social consequences of their abhorrent points of view.
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A runner in Seattle fought off a sex offender who attacked her in a public bathroom, shouting "Not today, motherfucker!" as she pummeled her way to freedom. Bonus: She locked the reprobate in the bathroom until police arrived. Get on with your bad self, Kelly!
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The West Virginia Senate is voting to basically remove mine safety inspections. Because the mining industry in the Appalachians has proved to be so very responsible and self-correcting when it comes to the safety and health of their mine workers. Apparently.
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It's this kind of incident that makes me hope for the republic. Good on you, Tracey Tong. "I don't like the way you are treating her," indeed.
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Professional historian David gives an interesting take on life on the home front during WWII.
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Oh, good, 45's new 2018 budget (entitled "America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again." I shit you not, that's the actual name of this piece of excrescence) sticks it to the arts, sciences, education, environmental protections, the State Department, and (of course!) the poor and elderly in the form of social programs that allow them to survive. This is the most immoral piece of crap I have seen come from my government in my lifetime. Apparently his plan is to strengthen an already strong military while simultaneously cutting domestic programs that will result in a grim, dystopian nightmare devoid of art, culture, an educated populace, clean air, and clean water. Oh, and we'll have the olds and the poor dying in the street, as well, so that'll be fun.
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Dogs in cars. Miss Jackson Pi loves the car, and is a good passenger. Unlike Boogie the Giant Schnauzer, who had an aversion to mechanical sounds and was convinced any car ride was taking him to his doom.
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My favorite Christian Pastor on white privilege and what to do about it. These concepts are sometimes very difficult to accept, but I think it helps to know that the issue isn't personal but systemic.
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A congressional staffer explains what answering the thousands of phone calls to their office is like in the age of 45. TL:DR: Keep dialing.
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Today's sources:
  • Continuum: The website for Continuum, a global think tank devoted to intentional, authentic, and interconnected feminism.
  • The Washington Post: Mainstream Media source with minimal partisan bias and highly factual reporting. 
  • Stuff That Needs to be Said: The personal blog of Pastor John Pavlovitz
  • The Huffington Post: Hyper partisan liberal publication with a high degree of factual reporting. 
  • Charleston Gazette-Mail: Left center bias with a high degree of factual reporting. 
  • 4 Quarters and 10 Dimes: The personal blog of David the Historian. 
  • Buzzfeed: Left Center bias with a mixed degree of factual reporting.


News and Updates from the Big Brown House

Thursday, March 16, 2017

I realize I haven't been writing much about, you know, my life since 45 won the election. Mostly it's just been Link Me Up posts pointing people to those who are far smarter and more qualified to discuss our current political climate than I. But this is my space, after all, so I thought I'd catch the world up on the goings-on here at the Big Brown House.

1. Yesterday was the twins' birthday. This day affects me weirdly now. On the one hand, it reminds me that my baby girl will never be older than 22, and I grieve anew for her loss. On the other hand, it's also the Smart Son's birthday, and he's grown into a fine human being, a man of good character, humor, honor, and curiosity. I'm hopelessly proud of him, and celebrate his time on this earth and am delighted he's my son. So, weird.

2. We're attending an "invitation only" sale this evening at our local flooring store. The carpet we bought when the house was built was the default option with no upgrades, and we basically hate it. It's separating at the seam to the hard wood floor and the hardwood is thoroughly scratched at the points where it overlays a thoroughfare. I suspect you can imagine the reason for that. (cough*Miss Jackson Pi*cough). So we're replacing the carpet and the wood floors in the main areas and halls (but not my office or the bedrooms). This was always the plan, but it will be expensive and a pain in the ass, to boot.

3. Miss Jackson Pi had an upset tummy over the weekend, and now I feel like I need to write a note to the Bissell Corporation thanking them for the efficacy of their SpotClean Pro™Portable Carpet Cleaner. This machine is the cat's pajamas, y'all.

4. From a leadership perspective, it's irksome that leaders have to spend 90% of their time on 10% of the people, leaving little time or room to actually accomplish goals. This was true when I was a Senior Non-Commissioned Officer in the Navy, and it's true now.

5. The "March for Science" demonstrations are scheduled for April 22nd. That's Earth Day, for those of you keeping track at home. I'll be attending here in Denver with some science-loving friends, and I've been knitting "brain hats" for us to wear to the event. Here's an example:

Brainz...it's what's for dinner.
Once I'm done knitting the hats for our group, I may consider taking orders from long-time readers and friends for the cost of the yarn. These take longer than my usual projects, though, and the yarn is much more expensive.

6. I paid off my Fiat this month. So both my Jeep (for which I paid cash) and the Fiat are now free and clear. I figure I'll just keep driving them until I retire, and in the meantime save all that car payment money for my retirement transportation needs.

7. After finishing his general education courses at our local Community College, the Smart Son has been accepted into two of our state universities here in Colorado. I don't know which school he'll end up selecting, as his GI Bill allows him to go to any state school, anywhere, with tuition paid in full. Ah, to have so many choices!

8. I have been assigned a task at my day job that is incredibly tedious and will take a long time to complete. I think I'll have to pace myself, as I'm already so bored I want to take my eye out with a spork.

9. I like lipstick. This is not exactly "news," but as someone who smoked for many years, I have trouble finding a product that will not seep into the fine lines around my mouth and make me look like the Joker. But the new matte liquid lipsticks were made for me! My current faves are Tarte Tarteist Lip Paint and Revlon Colorstay Overtime Lipcolor. The Revlon has the advantage of coming with lip gloss in addition to the lip paint, which is convenient.

This counts as my once yearly public display of girliness, by the way.

Link Me Up, Scotty - Picking the Right Person for the Job Edition

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The big brains over at Outside the Beltway with commentary on 45's national security team. I firmly believe it is the career bureaucracy that keeps things going in times of transition and turmoil, but no level of institutional memory can supplement such a lack of planning and execution.
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Racial tensions heat up in a small Georgia town, but people decided to stand up and be counted rather than normalizing the return of the KKK to their community. #resist
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Steve King, the most ineffective member of Congress, is such a douchebag I can't even. I wonder if his district is the one of the ones that have hoards of White Militia hiding in the hills with their guns and canned goods.
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My favorite Christian Pastor is inventing a Church I could join with a clear conscience and an open heart: The Church of Not Being Horrible.
________

As a promotional stunt, the folks over at Amazon launched a fake "radio station" called "Resistance Radio" to generate interest in the third season of their show The Man in the High Castle. So then 45 supporters came out of the woodwork claiming the station was unAmerican and whining about why those mean liberals are still so outspoken about 45 and his policies?

I find it very interesting, very interesting indeed, that 45's supporters assumed a promotional media event aimed directly at opposing Nazi Germany and the Empire of Japan was aimed at them and their resident reprobate. This shows me that deep down, some of these bootlickers know they're on the wrong side of history, but are still trying to defend their untenable positions, probably to sooth their conscience at being such horrible people.
________

The White House wants to know how the Affordable Care Act has affected you and your family.

Obamacare: Share Your Story

Obamacare has led to higher costs and fewer health insurance options for millions of Americans.
How has it impacted you? Share your story with the President.
So I shared my story. My story about how my veteran son was able to be covered on my health plan when he returned from his service, and how he was able to get affordable care through the Exchange after he aged out of the adult children provision in the ACA. Somehow I doubt that's what 45 wanted to hear, but hey - he really needs to get acquainted with the truth, and after working for 35 years in male-dominated fields, my inclination to coddle a man's ego and alternative reality is at an all-time low these days.

H/T Brother Nathan
________

Oh, look - according to the CBO, 45's health care replacement would make the rich richer and kick 24 million people off the health insurance rolls. I'll bet you can guess 45's reaction to this non-partisan report. You guessed it, deny, deny, deny. As near as I can tell, the new plan basically takes us back to where we were before the ACA was enacted, with no benefit to non-wealthy Americans by any measure.
“The C.B.O. score shows just how empty the president’s promises, that everyone will be covered and costs will go down, have been,” said Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader. “This should be a looming stop sign for the Republicans’ repeal effort.”
________

Today's sources:
  • Outside the Beltway: An online journal of politics and foreign affairs analysis written by a highly educated and ridiculously qualified staff. 
  • The Washington Post: Mainstream Media source with minimal partisan bias and a high degree of factual reporting. 
  • One Hot Mess: The personal blog of Libby Bakalar. 
  • Stuff That Needs to be Said: The personal blog of Pastor John Pavlovitz. 
  • WhiteHouse.gov: The official website of the President of the United States. 
  • The New York Times: Mainstream Media source with minimal partisan bias and a high degree of factual reporting.

Link Me Up, Scotty - Something Everyone Can Believe In Edition

Friday, March 10, 2017

Healthcare policy experts from every political spectrum think the new Republican healthcare bill is a big, stinking, pile of poo. I don't think this is what was promised when we were told the new plan would be "the best plan."
________

Governor Jon Huntsman has been tapped to be the next U.S. Ambassador to Russia. Thank Christ - finally an adult in the room.
________

One Hot Mess announces the appointment of Andres Dice Clay as the new Poet Laureate of the United States. Hey - stranger things have happened.
________

My friend David, a professional historian, has started documenting his thoughts on the current Administration. Angels and Ministers of Grace, defend us.
________

The WaPo's editorial board makes a pretty convincing case to confirm Rod J. Rosenstein as the Deputy Attorney General. People either have professional ethics, or they don't.
________

I feel like a broken record here, but it behooves us to prepare ourselves mentally and emotionally for the inevitable death of our elders. I don't want the elders in my life whom I love to suffer because I can't get my emotional act together as they approach the end of of their lives.

H/T Laura
________

From the Might Girls files: All female Royal Brunei flight crew lands their plane in...Saudi Arabia.
________

And from the Don't Tell Me Rape Culture Doesn't Exist files: Canadian Judge resigns after asking a female rape victim, "Why didn't you just keep your knees together?" My mind is literally blown. Blood coming out of my ears blown. 
________

50 things nurses wish they could tell you. I consider most of these to be common sense and common courtesy, but there were a few I hadn't thought about.
________

Video of my Heart: Dobie Gray singing "Drift Away."





H/T Alice
_________

Today's sources:
  • NBC News: Mainstream media news source with minimal partisan bias and a high degree of factual reporting. 
  • Politico: Left-center bias with a high degree of factual reporting.
  • One Hot Mess: The personal blog of Libby Bakalar 
  • 4 Quarters, 10 Dimes: The personal blog of David, a professional historian who chooses not to use his last name on-line. 
  • The Washington Post: Mainstream media source with minimal partisan bias and a high degree of factual reporting. 
  • Daily Mail: Right bias with a mixed degree of factual reporting. 
  • The Independent: Left-center bias with a high degree of factual reporting. 
  • Reader's Digest: A synopsis of articles compiled into a magazine. 

Link Me Up, Scotty - The Past as Prologue Edition

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Professional historian David with some additional thoughts on the current political climate. 45 and his Russian-puppet, White Nationalist Administration are such easy targets, finding reprehensible behavior is like shooting fish in a barrel.
________

My favorite Christian Pastor takes on the utter hypocrisy of a Christian Disney boycott. Remember back in November when I said this group had entered into the "no room for redemption" category? This is a fine example of what I was talking about. Like so:
The Christians who are weeping and gnashing their teeth right now aren’t winning any converts, they’re doing nothing to damage Disney, and everything to damage the image of the Church in the eyes of the world, as an out-of-touch, hateful, inconsistent horde—who apparently find gay people “icky” but misogyny perfectly Presidential.
________

This is the subject of yesterday's missives to my Congressmen. Because who doesn't want to replace something that sorta kinda works with something that's more expensive, with less coverage, that doesn't protect the most vulnerable among us? Aside from the Party of Reprobates, that is.
________

The 2017 Sony World Photography Awards
________

Meet Friar Bigotón, a stray dog who joined the Franciscan Order in a monastery in Bolivia. This was a great pick-me-up this morning.

H/T Frankie
________

For International Women's Day, the world's third largest asset manager placed a statue of a fearless girl on Wall Street to symbolize the problem of most Boards having an abysmal number of women. Mighty girls!
________

The Chicago Field Museum's famous T-Rex Skeleton known as "Sue" is now running a D&D game. Because of course she is.
________

Video of my Heart: FINALLY, someone who speaks for me, a white cisgender woman, on the subject of bathroom laws.


________

Today's sources:
  • 4 Quarters, 2 Dimes: The personal blog of professional historian David. 
  • Stuff That Needs to be Said: The personal blog of Pastor John Pavlovitz.
  • The Washington Post: Mainstream media source with minimal partisan bias and highly factual reporting. 
  • The Atlantic: Skews left but still a reliable source of in-depth news. 
  • The DoDo: Digital media website for animal people.
  • Business Insider: Left-center bias and high degree of factual reporting.
  • Chicagoist: A website about Chicago.

Link Me Up, Scotty - Fact Check Edition

Friday, March 3, 2017

Guess what? 45's first address to the Congress is packed to the rim with half-truths and utter falsehoods. This would be my shocked face.
________

Finalists from Smithsonian Magazine's 2016 photo contest.
________

Four mosques have been burned in the last seven weeks, an unprecedented string of hate crimes in the wake of 45's inauguration. But it's not his fault! He's NOT a bigot, he's not, he's not, he's not! (Insert eyeroll here).
________

Tree Lobsters takes on the idea of regressing to the mean in light of 45's unprecedented behavior.
________

A Benedictine Monk is making every effort to save both Christian and Islamic manuscripts from destruction by ISIS. Father Columba Stewart heads the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library (HMML) based out of St. John's Abbey and University, and has made significant inroads in his mission. Defending intellectual freedom is one of the core values of true librarians, regardless of their faith tradition. Get on with your bad self, Father Stewart.

H/T Sister Carolyn
________

Another shocking turn of events from the Putin Puppet White Nationalist Administration: Jeff Sessions, our Attorney General, had contact with the Russian Ambassador to the U.S., and then failed to mention it during his Senate confirmation hearings. He claims he didn't mention it because he was meeting with Ambassador Kislyak in his role as a Senator, rather than as a Trump advisor. Wink, wink. Nod, nod.
________

An African-American boy is found hanged in the woods near Seattle, and his parents want some answers. Oh, and they're a Muslim family. I can't tell you how much my heart aches for this family. I hope they find the answers they seek and also some peace. Yes, that too.
________

Turns out Orcas are not mono-cultural, but instead have region-specific differences. This surprises me not at all. Sentience comes in many forms, and assuming a highly intelligent sea mammal such as Orcas should only have one social structure would be as absurd as assuming all people, everyone, have the same social norms.

H/T Steve
________

Texas sportscaster Dale Hansen has something to say about the brou-ha-ha surrounding Mack Beggs, a transgender teen who competes in high school wrestling.  I love this effin guy.
________

Rep. Kevin Cramer (ND-R) had this to say about the female members of Congress who chose to wear white to 45's address to the Joint Congress:
“But by the way, did you notice how poorly several of them were dressed as well?” he asked. “It is a syndrome. There is no question, there is a disease associated with the notion that a bunch of women would wear bad-looking white pantsuits in solidarity with Hillary Clinton to celebrate her loss. You cannot get that weird.”
I don't even know what to say about this comment from a sitting Representative. Other than Susan B. Anthony is probably spinning in grave due to your total ignorance of history.
________

Video of my Heart: Justin Timberlake and Matt Morris with a live rendition of Hallelujah. 



________

Today's Sources:
  • The Washington Post: Mainstream media source with minimal bias and highly factual reporting. 
  • The Atlantic: Skews left but still a reliable source of in-depth, highly factual reporting.
  • Buzzfeed News: Left-center bias with mixed factual reporting. 
  • Tree Lobsters: A webcomic.
  • KUOW: Local NPR affiliate with minimal partisan bias and highly factual reporting.
  • Hakai Magazine: Magazine of the Hakai Institute, dedicated to long-term research at remote locations on the coastal margin of British Columbia, Canada
  • The Huffington Post: Left bias with a high degree of factual reporting. 
  • Politico: Left-center bias with a high degree of factual reporting. 

Link Me Up, Scotty - Let Them Pee Edition

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Turns out most Texans don't give a good goddamn about bathroom legislation. Even more Republicans don't give a shit than think it's an issue that needs to be addressed. Can you say "pandering?" I knew you could. 
________

In a secretive, opaque White House run by White Nationalists and thin skinned megalomaniacs, it's important for people of good conscience to have an avenue to whistle-blow without losing their jobs. Since 45 won't tolerate people who disagree with him, that avenue has become the press, and they're trying to make it as easy as possible for those people to contact them.

H/T Steve
________

The New Yorker with some extremely in-depth reporting on Russian interference in U.S. elections and the new Cold War. This is a long piece, and well worth your time. TL:DR: It's both better and worse than you've been led to believe.
________

What the hell is wrong with people? No, really - what? At least the family's neighbors stepped up and did the right thing.
________

An interesting point of view about how white men who are celebrities can get away with pretty much any damn thing they want.
________

The subject of yesterday's missive to my Senators and Representative: 45 intends to increase the military budget by ~10%. This, of course, is the stupidest thing I heard all day. The United States Armed Forces are absolutely ready and capable of responding to an act of aggression by a foreign state. With extreme prejudice. Over and over and over. Our military is the strongest, best equipped, best funded military organization in the world. Why increase their budget other than to show that you equate your penis size with the size of our Armed Forces?
________

45 now believes that President Obama is behind the leaks and protests that have plagued his White Nationalist Administration. So glad our former President has been able to find a second career as an agent provocateur and closet leader of the The Resistance. In fact, here he is, coordinating protest efforts and secret White House leaks with the aplomb that characterized his entire presidency:

Sneaky bastard.  
________

Charles Pierce of Esquire tells us why he'll never sympathize with regretful Trump supporters. This. As I said in November to the 47% of Americans who voted for 45, this is your dumpster fire. If it turns out that your lives are worse under 45's White Nationalist Administration rather than better, then you've only yourselves to blame and I don't want to hear you crying about it.

H/T Brother Matt
________

I am firm believer in the "Your childhood may have been awful, but it's over" train of thought. There comes a time in every individual's life where they have to take responsibility for their own problems, their own feelings, their own future, without blaming their childhood circumstances. But there are certain things that can plague adults their entire lives due to the environment in which they come of age. These characteristics aren't an excuse to behave badly, but research on these environments does provide a useful rubric for examining our own behavior and making meaningful change. Here's one that examines my own personal history, 10 Things to Know About Children of Alcoholics.
________

Video of my Heart: 4 year old Claire Ryann sings "How Far I'll Go" with none other than Moana herself, Auli'i Cravalho.




Today's sources:
  • The Texas Politics Project: A project of the University of Texas at Austin providing political data, events, and research materials to students and faculty. 
  • NPR: Mainstream media source with minimal partisan bias and highly factual reporting. 
  • The New Yorker: Left bias with a high degree of factual reporting. 
  • DenverCBSLocal: Local CBS affiliate with minimal partisan bias and basic reporting. 
  • Esquire: Left bias with a high degree of factual reporting. 
  • Reach Out Recovery: A nonprofit dedicated to addition education, prevention, and recovery.
  • Elle: A magazine dedicated to fashion, culture, and beauty.

Link Me Up, Scotty - WWII Throwback Edition

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Religious institutions and private citizens are beginning to network in order to provide sanctuary in their private homes for undocumented immigrants. This is a moral imperative for these people, and for some, it's a way to pay it forward in honor of the people who helped their own communities during times of persecution.
________

Federal agents asked for passengers' identification documents was they were disembarking from Delta Flight 1583 from San Francisco to New York. Yes, you read that correctly. CBP ordered passengers on a domestic flight to "show their papers" before they could leave the plane. While I support law enforcement in finding people who are breaking the law, I find this extremely disturbing.
________

The audacious honesty of John Boehner. Too bad he couldn't be honest when he was in office.
________

I love this story about ways in which parents can give their kids a safe way out of a troublesome situation.

H/T Sister Carolyn
________

I don't know why, but I found the "Russian flag at the CPAC" prank to be utterly hilarious.
________

Professional historian and good friend David gives us 31 reasons why he's a better citizen than 45. Please feel free to head on over and add your own reasons why you're a better citizen!
________

Apparently 45's new immigration "crack down" also includes the families of deployed military members. They used to be excluded, based on a policy memorandum issued by the Department of Homeland Security at the request of the Department of Defense. Still waiting for that empirical evidence that the White Nationalist Administration considers the Armed Forces anything other than cannon fodder. Still waiting.
________

Looks like the National Security Council finally has an adult in the room. We'll see how long he lasts, given the fact that he can obviously think for himself.
________

A professional educator takes umbrage at the new Secretary of Education's remarks about his colleagues. I think in this instance I'll take his word for it rather than DeVos'. After all, he's actually worked in and studied University education, as opposed to her qualifications.
________

The Atlantic's Americans at Work series focuses on a single individual this week - the wife of the photographer.
________

Take ten minutes and watch this sequence of clips from the Ellen Show where she helps sponsor full scholarships for the entire graduating class of 2017 from Summit Academy. The kids from these neighborhoods are very underserved, and this opportunity will change the course of their lives, and the lives of their families. And they know it.
________

The challenges (and heartaches) of loving an older dog. For us, the acceptance that old age isn't a disease to be cured but a stage of life to be managed made the difficult decision to put Boogie to sleep easier than it could have been.
________

Is it time to go back to basics with writing instruction? Oh, hell, yes. While I recognize intellectually that being a poor writer doesn't necessarily mean you don't know your subject or can think critically, I still believe learning to do so makes you a better thinker and a better communicator. And if you wish to work as a professional (as opposed to a craftsman), this skill is absolutely critical to your success, regardless of your discipline.
________

Some awesome photographs of super hero action figures. No, really. Go look.
________
 
Video of my Heart: MILCK with Choir! Choir! Choir!




Today's sources:
  • CNN: Mainstream media source with minimal partisan bias, but without in-depth reporting. 
  • WaPo: Mainstream media source with minimal partisan bias and highly factual reporting. 
  • Fall. Surrender. Restore. Rise. Repeat. The personal blog of Bert Fulks.
  • The Atlantic: Skews left but still a reliable source of in-depth news. 
  • 4 Quarters, 10 Dimes: The personal blog of Professional Historian David. 
  • San Diego Union Tribune: Right-Center bias with a high degree of factual reporting. 
  • The New York Times: Mainstream media source with minimal partisan bias and highly factual reporting. 
  • Pink News: Left bias with a high degree of factual reporting. 
  • NPR: Mainstream media source with minimal partisan bias and highly factual reporting.  
  • Bored Panda: A crowdsourced website dedicated to art and pop culture.

Link Me Up, Scotty - Cruel to be Kind Edition

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Brother Eric on how incredibly difficult it's becoming to remain civil and kind with true-blue-dyed-in-the-wool 45 supporters. People of good conscience can fundamentally disagree about the role of government in our lives - and how government supports the greater good - without resorting to ad hominem attacks. However, I, like Eric, do not know how to address the kind of willful ignorance and denial of demonstrable facts exhibited by this group of people.
________

One of this week's missives* to my elected representatives in Congress concerned the plan to defund the National Endowments for Arts and Humanities. This program costs $2.7M a year, and Republicans want to slash its funding because they're all fiscally conservative or some shit. Right. To date, it's cost more for 45 to spend his work hours in the resort he owns ($3M) than to fund this program for a year. Add in the cost of providing security to Trump Tower for the First Lady and 45's minor child (estimated at $300M a year, non-confirmed), and this move is so hypocritical these people should be throwing up in their mouths. They won't, of course. That would require them to be something other than "shameless."
________

The Washington Post's "Yell-O-Matic™," which gives users a chance to see politicians get yelled at, gives me schadenfreude and smiles. Hehe.
________

Author John Scalzi looks at the case of Milo Yiannopoulos, and why empathy does not excuse the actions that led to his downfall, or mean that he should not face the consequences of his own choices.
________

WaPo is doing an ongoing first hundred days fact-check on 45, with utterly predictable results.
________

A chart on how many people will lose their health insurance, and how many would lose their jobs, if the Affordable Care Act is repealed. I'm not okay with almost 600,000 of my fellow Coloradons missing out on health insurance, nor is it okay for over 35,000 people in my state to become unemployed. ARE YOU LISTENING SENATOR GARDNER?

H/T Steve
________

My invisible Senator, the Coward Cory Gardner, has not been scheduling his own Town Hall meetings because he's afraid of his constituents and doesn't want to lose his "cover" of accusing us of being paid protestors. So constituents invited him to a Town Hall meeting in Fort Collins, and when he declined to attend, held the meeting without him. Invisible Senator, indeed.
________

Scientists have discovered a system with a number of Earth-like exoplanets. Science is amazing.
________

Congressional Republicans are wary - to say the least - about 45's budget, due out in a month or so. 45 has all kinds of promises he wants to keep, but no way to pay for them. Fiscal conservatives. Whatevs.
________

The folks behind the Women's March on Washington are now organizing a "Day Without a Woman" strike on March 8th. I could use a day off in the middle of the week.
________

My favorite Christian Pastor on 45's cowardice and bullying, and how the rest of us stand horrified as he tries to make himself look big by making others seem small.
________

I like the current Pope.
________

A Muslim woman who worked in the Obama White House decided to stay on after 45 was inaugurated. She lasted eight days.
________

Today's sources:
  • Standing on the Shoulders of Giant Midgets: The personal blog of Eric VanNewkirk, Esq. 
  • The Independent: Left-center bias with a high degree of factual reporting. 
  • WaPo: Mainstream media with minimal partisan bias and a high degree of factual reporting. 
  • Whatever: The personal blog of author John Scalzi. 
  • Economic Policy Institute: A liberal think-tank seeking to include the needs of low- and middle-income workers in economic policy discussions.
  • The New Yorker: Left bias with a high degree of factual reporting. 
  • Outside the Beltway: An online journal of politics and foreign affairs analysis written by a highly educated and ridiculously qualified staff. 
  • The Denver Post: Left-center bias with a high degree of factual reporting. 
  • Things That Need to be Said: The personal blog of Pastor John Pavlovitz. 
  •  Reuters: Non-biased news source with a high degree of factual reporting. 
  • The Atlantic: Skews left but still a reputable source of in-depth news.
________

*Yes, "one of" this week's missives. Senator Bennet, Senator Gardner, and Representative Buck are all my personal pen-pals these days.