Archive for July, 2016

Confirmation Bias

Posted in Um, Seriously Snarky? No. Snarkily Serious. on July 26, 2016 by Misanthropic Mom's Group

Posted the below on Jim Wright’s page. It ran a tad long. Some people seemed to like it. I thought I’d put it here as well.

If social media were the real world, Bernie Sanders would have won the primary election by so much that they would have simply called off the general and carried him into Washington by passing him from back to back, shoulder to shoulder. He would have literally crowd surfed into the capitol. And then his brown robed sparrows would have scourged Congress. After which they would make Hillary walk naked and barefoot through the country, while pelting her with dung.

If social media were the real world the two major parties would be the Greens and the Libertarians. But they would still only poll at about 4% each because 92% of the country are strong Independents with a capital I.

Then again if social media were the real world Donald Trump would simply co-opt the military, and with it at his back he would cross the Delaware to make his Triumphal March. The true believers would rise up from their chains in every crevice and holler and they would TAKE BACK their country! Take it back to when, I’m not sure. It looks like 1952, but 1852 might be more likely. The PureBlooded Americans would drive out the mud bloods to the furthest corners of the globe, and then build a wall! The best Wall! A wall forged of the elements, and as high as the truest believer’s heart flag will fly. The bad people would quail before our might and scuttle back where they belong. And if they still won’t behave? We’ll bomb them into the stone age. A stone age which is definitely no more than 6,000 years ago.

If social media were the real world, then Welcome to Nightvale would be a documentary.

If social media were the real world, the loudest people would not merely represent a tenth of a percent. They would each and every one of them represent an army. A multitude. Every campaign event would mirror the general population, and not be a self selecting skewed sample, making the participants believe that they are more popular than they actually are. Opinions traded back and forth in tiny closed bubbles would actually be fact. Reading it on the internet would actually make it true.

On social media, the loudest people comment on every post. And then comment on every comment. They say the same things over and over, and then comment on how popular their opinion is. They either only talk to people who agree with them, or those diametrically opposed. They think it is a debate when they state their opinions as fact until someone questions them. Then they either keep yelling the same things, or disengage and walk away, only to pop up elsewhere to repeat the performance. If social media were the real world, we would all live in walled communities of common opinion. Like a Neil Stephenson novel, only with more ideology and less pizza delivery.

But here is the thing. In the world of social media, those who are silent do not exist. And those that are loud exist in outsized measure. In the real world, most people don’t bother to argue. Most people have problems that concern them far more than social media political purity. They don’t go to rallies. They don’t answer the phone when the polls call. If they follow Jim, they mostly keep quiet as a mouse and watch it all go by. The loudest voices often do not represent them at all.

In the real world they all have exactly one vote.

Gifted

Posted in Mostly Snarky, Um, Seriously Snarky? No. Snarkily Serious. on July 26, 2016 by Misanthropic Mom's Group

Thank you San Francisco, for giving me the gift of an experience today.

And thank you Mr. Junkie Man for unapologetically shooting up into his own leg, after casually pulling his pant leg up past his knee, all the while carrying on a conversation with someone who I can only assume was a friend or colleague. Thank you for doing it right on the sidewalk of Hyde, right between Turk and Eddy. Thank you for showing my kids a little unvarnished reality in the midst of their mostly privileged lives. I know that THEY didn’t find it a particularly pleasant experience, akin to watching a predator disembowel and eat prey. Only with more pathos. More like a one legged pigeon struggling with half of a buffalo wing. But I digress.

I myself am grateful to be able to check off another box on my life experience list.

Witness junkie shooting up: Check!

Spot trans hookers: Check!

Be mistaken for a hooker: Check! (Life Tip. Don’t stand on the corner of Capp and 18th for more than 10 minutes, even if you are waiting for a cab. Even at 2pm. Unless you want the bucket list item, in which case, different Life Tip.)

Buy drugs on the street in New York City. Just like the movies!: Check!

Having the police escort your 12 year old son home at 2:30 am: Check !  Which leads to…

Baby’s first police report: Check!  (His phone was stolen on the bus coming home from a movie. He did the right thing and went to the police.*)

Also it is nice to see that my city has not completely succumbed to gentrification, faux “dive bars”, and pre-distressed clothing. Definitely a Keeping it 100 moment. I wonder what gifts my city will bring me next?

 

* Not a viable option for black children.

The Cake is a lie.

Posted in Why So Serious? on July 26, 2016 by Misanthropic Mom's Group
I started to write a simple comment on someones Facebook post, but it grew outsized enough that it would have been a little embarrassing to post it there and hijack the comments section for my own theoretical musings. The topic of discussion was progressives who say they will vote for Trump so that we can just tear it all down and start over, and how practical those plans for starting over might be. My own husband was (is) a bitterly angry Bernie supporter. So I have had the last year to think about this. Rather than, you know, TALK about it. Because that leads to arguments. *sigh*

There is something about this revolution that seems to tap a deep seated vein of furious anger in white, middle class, progressive males. I know the revolution is legion and composed of a kaleidoscope of parts. It is just that the part that is of interest to me is the part that I have to live with: a forty-six year old male whose DNA harkens from northern European, melanin deprived regions. Born and raised in the suburbs of Silicon Valley, Bachelor’s degree at 22 from UC back when you could actually come out of there without a mountain of student loan debt. Has worked fairly steady over the years, but with a work history punctuated by layoffs and shuttered start-ups. (There is this particularly irritating ethos around Silicon Valley that anyone with an idea, a computer, and a copy of Coding for Dummies can have their own startup. And yes most of them fail, but those failures are really successes because of all you have learned! None of this takes into account the lives of the employees of these companies. The ones who now have no job. And no savings as they had been being paid a low salary with a promise of stock options. But the idea of Failure as a virtue is so prevalent that every year in San Francisco they hold FailCon, where presumably one can network with other energetic failures who feel light as a feather now that they don’t have payroll to worry about.)

So funny story: my particular middle aged white male actually worked for several years laying out books for IDG Books, the people who used to publish the “For Dummies” books. I say “used to” because the publishing arm of IDG Corp was sold off to east coast based John Wiley and Sons. And that is when the layoffs started. I’m guessing a few employees were willing to move to Hoboken, where the new offices would be, but not many. Just saying “New Jersey” to a native Californian has been known to lead to fainting and/or catatonia. So that was one layoff. There were many. People who voluntarily change jobs tend to trade up. People who are laid off are likely to land in the midst of a weak economy. The weak economy that was the reason for the layoffs in the first place. People who were laid off tend to trade down. Managing to break even is often the best you can hope for.  And the long periods between jobs, trying to eke out a living on Unemployment, tend to preclude the ability to save for retirement. Once you’ve been through three or four or five layoffs, the very idea of a savings account that hasn’t been raided for living expenses is laughable. We are both working now, and making almost as much as we made when we moved into our apartment in 2010. We are both in our 40’s. We both have college degrees. And we still need to ask our parents for money periodically. This does not boost self esteem.

So what is it about the current talk of revolution that feeds a particular spark of anger in men like my husband? I think it might have something to do with feeling like they were promised a better future at the same time as being told that they could do anything if they worked hard enough. Now they feel helpless and that their world is out of their control. And they were raised to believe that they are responsible for their own destiny. This happens to the conservative males too, but it pushes them toward Libertarianism and seizing rare bird sanctuaries. I think the progressive male is more apt to turn bitterly on the idea of the American Dream itself. It seems like the idea that you have to have control, faced with the idea that the American Dream was never really attainable for most people, and getting less likely by the day; this idea warps into an “Everything is a Lie!” mindset. Because if it is all a setup, and everything is rigged, and we are being deliberately fed into the maw of giant, hungry corporations which will drain every last drop of productivity out of us before flinging us to live or die by our own devices… If all that is true then the only logical thing to do, really our only hope at all is to rise up and fight back. And it is THAT sense of taking action which allays the need for control.

Raising the red flag and idealizing Scandinavia makes them feel like they might be at the forefront of colossal global change, and not being sucked down in its undertow. But when the peaceful revolution is thwarted, those hopes are dashed, and unfortunately when hope is given and then snatched away, it is tempting to feel that nothing could be worse than the status quo. Suddenly the thought of life just going on as it has been is nearly unbearable. It is next to impossible to see that bearing the yoke of a boring job that barely pays the bills and a boss who obviously has no clue what they are doing… that yoke is hardly comparable to living shoeless in the streets of Calcutta. Suddenly it feels as if the revolution HAS to come soon because everything is so unbearable that global collapse and rebuilding just HAS to be better than this. I swear, sometimes I think that my husband would prefer to live in the world of Mad Max than have to deal with yet ANOTHER improperly formatted GIF. At one point I found myself yelling at him, “This revolution you want so much? What on earth makes you think that our side would win? THEY have all the guns. What are we supposed to do? Look smart at them? Explain rationally why a Scandinavian form of Socialism would make life so much better for everyone? Douse them in Kambucha so they’ll be temporarily disabled by the smell, and then pull your carefully ordered bookcases down on them?”

Myself, I am used to feeling that life is like floating down a river without a paddle. You can try really hard to paddle with your hands. You can get out and swim, and try towing the boat, but you are still going to have to go with the current. And most of the time you float through the bad parts, smack your head on some rocks, get scared half to death in the rapids, but then its done. It works out and you end up floating through the good parts. If you are lucky some of the REALLY good parts have rapids too. I’m gonna just float along on my raft of antidepressants and streaming video and the we will just see what happens next.

Ma Joad:

“Well, Pa, woman can change bettern a man. Man lives – well, in jerks. Baby born or somebody dies, that’s a jerk. With a woman, it’s all one flow, like a stream – little eddies, little waterfalls – but the river, it goes right on. Woman looks at it that way.”

From: The Grapes of Wrath (1940) 20th Century Fox Films, Directed by John Ford, Based on the novel by John Steinbeck

Stand by me

Posted in Um, Seriously Snarky? No. Snarkily Serious. on July 25, 2016 by Misanthropic Mom's Group

On somebody’s page the topic of reading Stephen King at a young age came up, and it reminded me of how I got started on Stephen King. If this had happened today, I imagine multiple firings and scandal would have been the result.

You see, back before the invention of fire, when all we had for illumination was the reflected light off of disco balls and Osmond teeth, our public school classrooms actually had a main teacher and an aide. The aide was somewhere between a real teacher and a parent volunteer. They were paid, but weren’t credentialed. Anyhow, the aide in our 6th grade class was a very odd lady. I can’t recall her name just now. Perhaps Mrs. Cooper? It any event she was generally considered a battle axe, but occasionally she would be excited about something, and the year I was in her room that something was Stephen King’s The Stand.

I can’t imagine she actually read us the whole thing, but I distinctly remember her reading large passages, with some catching up explanations in between. Presumably this was so she could edit out the really graphic parts, but I can’t actually remember much editing. Also I think it must have been during the last couple of months of the school year when no one actually gave more than half a fuck, because she never got to the end of the book. Most of us who were actual readers had our own copies long before then, so it didn’t really matter much to us, but I can imagine some of the poorer or less literate kids never knowing what happened to Stu or Nick or Tom. Or at least until the mini-series came out, and then it wasn’t quite the same.

But I honestly can’t imagine any 6th grade teacher or teacher-like entity reading The Stand out loud to a class for weeks on end without being sacked. And those responsible for them being sacked. And a llama once bit my seester. There are times when I’m really grateful to belong to a generation of kids that nobody really cared much about. Because that aide was never LESS scary than when she was reading us stuff that scared the crap out of us. Some of the stuff we got to do because no one was really paying attention was awesome!