Opinion Is NOT Analysis

Five years ago, Marissa Nelson, Senior Director of Digital at CBC News, wrote a series of articles on,” Journalism in the Digital Age.” The Canadian Broadcast Corporation prides itself on its standards; she was fair and specific on several topics. One drew my interest: the differences between analysis and opinion.

Quotes from the CBC “Journalistic Standards and Practices.”

• Analysis

When appropriate, news and current affairs staff offer reports we refer to as “analysis”. Here, reporters may make observations and draw conclusions based on facts as well as their own experience and expertise.

Their intent is to give the audience insight into the true nature of events, not to be a forum for the personal opinions or preferences of the author.

• Expression of Opinion

Our programs and platforms allow for the expression of a particular perspective or point of view. This content adds public understanding and debate on the issues of the day.

When presenting content (programs, program segments, or digital content) where a single opinion or point of view is featured, we ensure that a diversity of perspective is provided across a network or platform and in an appropriate time frame.
When we choose to present a single point of view:

o it is clearly labeled, and
o it does not misrepresent other points of view.

Our value of impartiality precludes our news and current affairs staff from expressing their personal opinions on matters of controversy on all our platforms.

• Designated Opinion Columnist

On an exceptional basis, the Editor in Chief may also choose to appoint certain journalists as columnists, who have licence to express their opinions. In order to protect the integrity of CBC’s journalism, we will restrict the role of such columnists to opinion and commentary, which will be clearly identified.

• Commentators and Guests

CBC, in its programming, over time, provides a wide range of comment and opinion on significant issues.

We achieve balance by featuring multiple perspectives and points of view to reflect a diversity of opinion.

It is important to mention any association, affiliation or special interest a guest or commentator may have so that the public can fully understand that person’s perspective.

The Washington Post recently re-published an article by Ishaan Tharoor, The Global Divide Between Those Who Dream and Those Who Fear. It was labeled, “WorldView” Analysis. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2017/09/07/the-global-divide-between-those-who-dream-and-those-who-fear/?nid&utm_term=.20997e3b5af0

I do not know where others draw the line, but this article falls clearly in the opinion category. I fault the Washington Post for mislabeling such an obviously slanted article.

Ishaan Tharoor is a widely publicized writer and the son of Shashi Tharoor.  He is a writer for The Washington Post, and a former Senior Editor of Time Magazine.

The article is mostly about United States immigration policy (58% of word count). It mentions Britain (37%), and Germany (5%).

The article opens with an unsupported statement about 800,000 DACA participants; the statement characterizes the whole group as “…people who know no real home other than the United States, who are productive members of the American workforce, sometimes serve in the U.S. military and abide by the nation’s laws.” I would wager that this description does not apply to every member of this group.

John Lott published a study that found that, in Arizona, illegal immigrants who met the age requirements for DACA were overrepresented in the prison population.

Harvard researcher Roberto G. Gonzalez surveyed more than 2,000 DACA recipients about their education levels. His studies show 22% of DACA members have a bachelor’s degree; 21% have dropped out of high school; (note: high school diploma is a requirement for DACA)

The New American Economy, a nonpartisan immigration reform group, analyzed 2013 – 2015 American Community Survey (ACS) data and found that 17 percent of 1.3 million DACA-eligible immigrants have earned a bachelor’s degree or higher.

Language: Mr. Tharoor uses terms sympathetic for DACA and critical of American government: “Their fates — in many instances, those of their families — hang in the balance as the White House dangles red meat to its right-wing base.” And: “This is all aside from the moral argument against shattering the lives of close to a million people who see themselves as Americans, an act that former president Barack Obama called both “cruel” and “self-defeating.” He calls opposition to untethered immigration “republic of fear.” Liberal immigration he dubs, “republic of dreams.”

Americans live in an environment of razor-thin distinctions on many topics. I feel Mr. Tharoor misused his privilege as a journalist by presenting his political and social opinions as analysis. The Washington Post could take some or all the responsibility.

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Woman Reveals Secrets of Confusing Men

My wife cast some light on one of the things men find confusing about women. The most amazing insight she gave me was that women never stop thinking, ever. When they jump from one thing to another, non-sequitur, they just moved from one thinking “box” to another, without notice. She described it as “spaghetti thinking.” Women learned the code eons ago. Listening to a group of women talking at full speed can be dizzying for a man. He has no clue what is happening or what they are saying. The variety of topics, piled together and spoken like confetti, overwhelms the male style of thinking. This is one way women keep secrets from men, they talk about everything; it disguises any one topic.

Hint to women when you want them to understand: Try putting “Bookmarks” in your speech when you talk to men. That way, they might understand that you are not relating one topic with another, you are just switching topics. Example, “Now, about shopping, ……” then, “Oh, I met Joan at the hair salon, and guess what she has been doing……” See how the use of “now” and “oh,” announce a new topic? Try this out on your favorite man.

What women can do for men:

1. Accept that he might be thinking nothing, he has an empty thinking box. You do not.
2. Tell men if you do not need help, you just need a friendly ear. Otherwise, he will try to “fix” your “problems”
3. Announce the context of your next topic of discussion. “That was my day at work.” “Now, about some things I need to shop for.”
4. Use verbal “Bookmarks” when you change topics, men are no good at keeping track of multiple discussions without help.

What men can do for women:

1.  Stop what you are doing and pay attention.
2. Ask if she needs your help with anything before going into “fix” mode.
3. Ask clarifying questions about the topic at hand, if you get confused. “Are we still talking about the office?”
4. Explain to her that “multi-tasking” is not one of your strengths, so you need completion before changing discussions.

Weird, Hidden Danger Shocks Americans – Fake Headlines Hide the Truth

See what I mean.  It takes a headline that strange, extreme, and inaccurate to get attention.  Americans are that hard to shock today.  Yet, we cannot resist gawking at car wrecks. We are drawn to tragedies, warnings, and tirades.  So how do “they” get to us?  Escalate hate, anger, and fear.

I grew up just outside the Washington D.C. “Loop” in Fairfax, Virginia.  Both parents were federal government employees, The Washington Post was our local newspaper.  The hyperbole, scandals, and intrigues of people on the “Mall,” on the “Hill,” and at “1600 Pennsylvania Avenue,” strike weaker chords with me than most; I do not believe in cataclysms.

The un-slakeable, ravenous, yawning, media maws chew, digest, and regurgitate fragments of information into “stunning,” “breaking,” “smoking gun,” headline entertainment; all the “news” they need, to feed the needs of myriad, mewling, business advertisers.  The electronic media cloned and mutated The Inquirer to fill the chasm.

The Internet and 24/7 television formats are still only decades old and evolving.  Advertisers are still feeling out what pays and does not pay; now they use the “shotgun,” or “grenade” approach to exposure on various media.  Eventually, they will refine their choices.

Some people still read newspapers, the original portable news.  Paper print space holds the attention of a slowly dwindling population, as electronic media grow towards universal dominance.

It seems the gladiators of news and power are tireless, relentless warriors, bent on victory and domination.  The ratio of opinion, analysis, and fortune-telling to factual reports seems to be 50 to 1.  The volume of “spin” constantly expands.

The news exposes Americans to more federal government every day this battle goes on; the president does this, the congress does that, the courts intervene.

The political maelstrom over a four-page memo from a congressional committee is the latest example of excess.  The media fed us scraps of amplified innuendo, interpretation, and speculation for weeks, raising the virtual tension of the Trump-war drama.  Now, dire warnings, threats, and predictions of calamity, revenge, and retribution.

Nothing sells better than the nemesis of anger and hate.

 

Block Blockers – Two-Second Detour

I admit it. I have ADD and dyslexia, a great combination, that has actually worked in my favor. Why? I take care, when things are important, and, in the process of checking what the words might say, I find all kinds of funny versions; helps my sense of humor.

That was all well and good in the age of reading, and long attention spans. The ADD part started getting to me with animated gifs, crawling bugs on television, and sports arena advertising.  (The band of lights that circles the stadium and flashes, that’s my favorite.)  I attended an NBA game, an NHL game and several NFL games, and left dazed.  The visual and audial pollution was so great, I missed the restart of play several times.  I discovered why I prefer to watch on television.  The angle of the camera eliminates all the clutter and distractions, except the commercials, which I can control, mute, or click away.

I realize I am like a crow, one shiny piece of tin foil, and I lose whatever focus I have mustered, and shift my attention.  It also means that I cannot carry on a conversation and watch television at the same time, and I keep the captions on all the time.  Twenty minutes of commercials per hour has driven me to Netflix and Amazon videos.  (To binge is so refreshing.) (BTW:  I did not want to say “Bing”-ing, hence, “To binge.”)

Naturally, this means I take precautions when I browse the Internet. If the ads would stay still, and the videos would not auto-play, I would be fine; but they don’t. Installed ad and video blockers to save my sanity. Now, the sites are playing a no-win game of, “you can’t watch me with ad blockers on.”

Well, let’s just say, that might work with some people, but I have built up my defensive reflexes to the point that, it takes me two seconds to find another site with the same information. Maybe, the sites I bypass will learn this and not allow advertisers to put annoying distracting stuff on their pages. Maybe, they will find out that auto-play is not what literate people want. We want words in print.

My reaction is the same to the “you must subscribe or do without this knowledge” sites. The days of exclusive data are gone. I read several sources anyway, so these sites are causing me to block them altogether. For example, I block The New York Times, and read the Washington Post. Same stuff from both anyway. Forbes and Business Insider have dropped off my search list as well. I’m sure they miss me.

I really do not care if these sites change or not. I can swerve around obstacles on the Internet just as easily as missing a squirrel running across the road.

 

Grammy Spammy – Political Entertainers Hijack TV

You may have thought late-night talk-show monologues, NFL kneel-downs, and Golden Globes “protests” were political, until you watched the Grammys. The Oscars have been the leader in this “ambush” category until lately. Things have gotten so blatant, since 2016, that it seems right for the “equal time” rules to kick in.  Social Media are already “balanced,” in that, anyone can tweet a hashtag.

But television is a one-way communication to everyone in the world who has reception.  Thank goodness, we are not still in the age of three networks.  With few exceptions, a viewer can choose not to watch entertainment that morphs into Wizard of Oz, political witches.  Those exceptions are what we see, lately.

These zealots do not care that half of America does not share the political views of many celebrities.  The NFL is paying the price that other “captive audience” events may soon face.  The same thing that makes possible this not-so-sly campaigning may also be the vaccine needed to inoculate the consumers of education from such slime.  Consumers have enough choices to cauterize shows that offend.

Will I ever watch the Golden Globes, Grammys, or the Oscars again?  Unlikely.  This “Trojan Horse” tactic will surely cut in half, the willing audiences for those shows that wax politic.  The FCC should regulate these “cheap shots,” “sucker-punches,” and other unsolicited “dumps” of partisanship like any other political advertising.  At least give us a warning, like the TV ratings.  Maybe “P”’ for, “this presentation may contain blatantly political views that may offend viewers.”

Do we need two, three, or thirty-one “networks” to demark the viewpoints?  I find myself choosing fiction over “fact” when clicking a show that falls off the sides of my TV politically.  I wish I had “right” and “left” labels or filters to keep me from wasting my time on propaganda.

Millennial Dating – a Young Woman’s Guide

I follow beautybeyondbones.com, the blog of a young, warm, talented woman who lives in NYC.  Sometimes, her ideas are so good, I must borrow them.  Her latest article is, “DATING ETIQUETTE FOR THE SOCIAL MEDIA OBSESSED, Posted on January 11, 2018

She recently reentered the dating game, after a long respite.  A recent date opened her eyes to what everyone else has known for the last few years: “Romance is a dying art,” because of social media

Why are Millennials waiting longer before marriage and children?  How about “smart phones, Snapchat and communicating through emojis?”

She found out that “dating is, frankly, limping along like a squirrel run over by a semi.”

She has resigned herself to the adage, “you’ve gotta date to find out what you don’t want in a partner.”

Guys, Here Are Eight Mistakes to Avoid on Dates. DO NOT:

    1. Confirm the date and time, but fail to give the specific details until 25 minutes before.
    2. Let her get there on her own. Do not pick her up or call her an Uber, even if it is raining.
    3. Fail to mention how nice she looks, even when every man in the bar notices.
    4. Keep your eyes on ESPN; yell at the TV, like you do with your men friends.
    5. Keep your phone in your hand all night. Every few minutes, while you are waiting for a reply, tell her she is not second to your technology.
    6. Tell your date how excited you are to hang out with her.  Look up to make eye contact.  Then get back to your phone.
    7. During dinner, tell her how much you have in common.  But do not lose contact with your friends: text, Snapchat, Instagram, and Tweet, under the table.
    8. After three dates, “ghost” to spare her feelings. Farewells are awkward.

Ladies, Here Are Ten Tips for Improving Your Dating Experiences

First, let me admit how little men know about women. We are so used to male company, with all its crass, corny, loud, bad jokes, that we have not had any practice being kind and considerate. Most of the time we are more confused than dishonest. Out of habit, we PRETEND we know, especially when we do not. (Men do this with other men ALL the time.)  This applies to every aspect of dating, love, and marriage.

Men are slower than women to mature emotionally. You will notice this when he boorishly banters with his friends, even when you are right there with him. (BTW:  The male form of giggling is a loud laugh and a slap on the back, high-five, or fist bump.)  This immaturity tends to lessen as men grow up.

Well, not all the time.  They say that wisdom comes with age; but I say, sometimes, age comes alone. Anyway, here is my list:

      1. Date at least a decade older.  (You will both feel smarter.)
      2. Look for someone who needs help with his cellphone.
      3. Make some ground rules for the time you are together and after.  (Yes; yes; no; not so much; maybe; I don’t think so.)
      4. Do for him what you want from him.  (e.g. both phones off, in your purse.)
      5. Before you agree on a date, ask him how he sees the evening going.
      6. Get clarification on anything “fuzzy.” Like,”where in Central Park?”
      7. Add whatever you feel would make it better for you both.  (e.g. “can we skip the mimes and statue people this time?”)
      8. Acknowledge him for each mannerly, gentlemanly, considerate thing he does.  (e.g.  “I just love it when I do not have to hail a cab.”)
      9. Be ready to say, with a smile, “ah, ah, ah, ah, that is what I meant when we agreed to (remind him of ground rule.) let us get back on track.” or whatever and however you want to coach him.
      10. Make allowances for his “empty box.”

You should be aware of something fundamental about men that some women never find out.  When they hear of it, they are shocked, perplexed, they find it impossible, yet it pervades the male psyche.

Women have mental “boxes” of things they think about. They jump from one box to the next without ever once stopping, announcing, or explaining what just happened. Women call it “multitasking.”  Men call it “What????”

Men have something women do not: an EMPTY box. That is right, when you ask him what he is thinking, and he says “nothing,” he honestly means it. He is not trying to dodge your question, he just went where men go when fishing, to the empty box in his brain.

Women cannot conceive of such a thing.  But it is the truth.  So, accept it, and make allowances for it – do not badger him out of disbelief.

Now you know that men are as mysterious as women in some ways.  That is it. Good luck, you are a fabulous catch for some lucky man.

Golden Globes Not About Movies – Black Is the New Black

The show was mostly fun.  Seth is a funny, funny guy.  Advertisers put their money where the eyes are.  The awards look so much like over-sized microphones, I half-way expected some of the award winners to speak into them.  It must have been a safe zone, marked with empty-upside-down-in-the-ice-bucket Moet bottles, untouched deserts, and many, camera-sensitive, serious smiles.

They tested my fashion sense, and I failed again.  Am I sexist to say women’s hair and faces stole the show?  The black dresses left little else to judge, at least on my computer screen.  When they grouped together, it looked like a display of detached heads at a wax museum.

The thinly varnished politics sustained my faith in “Hollywood,” a collective euphemism for anything entertainment, wherever.  “Hollowood” would be apropos.  Here is a riddle, how many narcissists can you put in one room?

What do men do when they acquire power?  Get more; more power, more fame, more money, more “toys” & more women, pretty much, in that order.  Women who rely on powerful men have been the first to discover this.  In the past, women just put up with them, or artfully dodged them.  Those who succumbed in hopes of advancing their careers were often disappointed.  A woman knew she had succeeded when she no longer felt the need to comply with the extortion.  The show justified and celebrated the maelstrom around the righteous insurrection of women.

The Golden Globe show featured women who survived the gauntlet of sexism, groping, and casting couches strewn along the paths to stardom.  No weak sisters, these.

There was irony when Oprah Winfrey accepted the Cecil B Demille award, as he was a staunch, lifelong, conservative Republican, as well as the founder of film.

 

A Hybrid Name for Your Baby – Practical and Inventive

 

“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet” is a popular reference to William Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet.  The truth is, names matter, a lot.  That is why so many books scour the values and meanings of various names and relate their historical background.  Tradition says, choose an established, powerful name so your child will grow up powerful, “living up to his name.”  Lately, many mothers ignore tradition and create unconventional, unique names for their babies.

Contradictory articles abound on the effect baby-naming has on children as they grow and become adults.  In America, simple, familiar European names are easy to like.  Difficult, unusual names are harder to like.  That is the situation, no matter how much one resents the bias.  Immigrants from Asia, Scandinavia, the Balkans, and Eastern Europe understand this and choose names that do not get in the way of social or vocational success.

The current controversy seems to orbit “African-sounding” names.  Cries of racism go up when anyone struggles with the unfamiliar, unusual, multi-syllabic names they create. The juxtaposition of these special names to common surnames confuses people.  Nonetheless, baby names that are unique in spoken configuration and spelling are a modern trend among American mothers.  The truth is, such names can encumber a child growing up, and an adult seeking acceptance and equal opportunities in American society.

Rather than cover the same ground as countless authors, let us “cut to the chase” with an idea that may satisfy both society and community – Hybrid names.  By hybrid, I mean a first and a middle name that can make things work for children and adults in both worlds.  One name for American society, (Tom, Rob, Dale, Doug, and Wayne, for example), pronounced and spelled in the conventional way.  Another name for the community, whatever the ethnic or racial background dictates or allows.

The order of names is not important; the presentation of names is vital.  Suppose you name your child Theodore Vladimir Trotsky.  At home, you call him Vlad, on a job interview he uses Ted.  T. Vladimir Trotsky and Theodore V. Trotsky are both valid names without handicap in either sphere.

Parents should think about their child’s future when they assign names.  Consider making your child’s life easier in American society.

(BTW: If your name hinders you, a legal name change is a few hundred dollars away.)

 

 

Kim Jong-Un – China’s Tiger to Tame

Forgive, is the message of Christmas.  But do not forget.  The person who betrayed trust is still in that body.  Trust is a gift best reserved for those who deserve it. We reserve the word “disgrace” for a serious reason – it is the permanent loss of credibility and assumed morality; it is a revocation of the gift of grace.

In 2005 Doug Bandow resigned from the Cato Institute because he accepted bribes from Jack Abramoff.  He published articles in the Copley News Service, favoring Abramoff’s clients.  He served almost four years of a six-year, plea-agreement sentence.

My question:  why does anyone listen to him or publish his opinions?  Well, the Huffington Post raised their hand.

His recent HuffPost opinion article is about Korea.  After visiting Pyongyang in June, he says, “Washington sees North Korea as a security challenge. Yet the North threatens America only because the U.S. intervened in the conflict between the two Koreas. The case for defending now populous and prosperous South Korea expired long ago.”

What did they do to him while he was there?  Did they bribe him too?  Does he know Dennis Rodman?  Is he still an American?

He proposes more-of-the-same diplomacy.  From 1953 until today,  North Korean’s persistent, winning tactic has been to extract financial aid and other concessions from the West by making promises to be good or do better.  Once they have what they need, they break all the promises, ratchet up the oppression of their people, and take food out of the mouths of their children for money to develop rockets and nuclear weapons.  (I wonder if they would be willing to sell such things to terrorists?)

220px-Kim_Jong-Un_Photorealistic-Sketch

The whole mindset of engaging North Korea in diplomacy is ludicrous.  How many times will we settle for the same false promises to liberalize their iron-fisted culture, or scale back their military?  After six decades of this soft-headed, “gentle” approach, what do we have to show?  Rocket Man.  Doing more of what has not worked is insanity.

What do we have now?  Change.  China knows North Korea intimately.  They buy most of their exports.  They have people living and working there.  They are North Korea’s lifeblood.  As long the N. Koreans stay “in bounds” and do not unsettle the region, China sees them as proxy insulation between themselves & Western encroachment.  But the “buffer” has begun to attract rather than distract Western attention, and not in a good way.

China has finally broken ranks with the North Korean government.  They have more to lose than gain from world condemnation or another Korean War.  China knows that the U.S. cannot, and will not allow any kind of attack on itself or its allies.

Kim Jong-Un is no fool.  We Americans imagine a vast divide between North and South Korea.  Not so much.  Families still span both regions of the same peninsula.  The desire to reunite is strong and frustrated in a culture that reveres family to the point of sublimating the individual.

In a recent speech, Kim played on this underlying theme in a “we/us” versus “they/them” appeal, saying that, at last, with the nuclear shield he has created, Koreans are no longer under the thumbs of other cultures; that Koreans can stand on their own and join hands.  I know that sounds strange to us, but the connections are powerful and subtle.  The overture to discuss the Olympic Games is another tactic to get us back in the old game of you give, we take, while they crash forward with nukes and missiles.  Is this fooling anyone?  The South Koreans are all smiles.

The biggest challenge Kim faces is China.  Kim and his predecessors have skillfully played the Chinese desire for stable unity in Asian and the threat that millions of North Koreans would flood across the extended border with China.  Pressure at the borders is building.  The number of attempted defections/escapes across the DMZ is amplified, while similar attempts to get into China and Russia are not reported at all.

Almost all North Korean defectors head to China before making their way to South Korea to avoid the heavily militarized border separating the two Koreas.  The Chinese accept this conduit role, as long as the escapees do not stay in China. (Like Mexico, giving Central American migrants and refugees a free pass through Mexico to the U.S.)

China has quietly added military resources along the most likely escape routes from North Korea.  Russia has a small, but similar border vulnerability, and has built up its military presence across the border.

The US current stance is likely to spur the Chinese to tone down or neutralize Kim Jong-Un to achieve their ultimate goal: stability.  Appearances are key.  No one wants their fingerprints on this effort.  Deniability is the standard by which all will be judged.

I am confident that China, South Korea, the U.S., and Japan are engaged in every type of discussions and plans they can imagine.  The main obstacle to resolution is “face.”  All parties need to preserve and improve their “face” at home and in the world.  How to tame or replace Kim Jong-un is a top priority for some of the world’s most powerful governments.  I have faith that Chinese ingenuity and American courage will combine to defuse threats to peace in the region.

(Discussion of Face: https://wp.me/p1qZOe-C7)

American Graffiti – The Old Model of Sex

am graf.jpg

The rules of sex are both formal and informal for men and women, in America.

Boys and girls learn about love and sex in the climate of their youth.  They learn and practice the rules and taboos of their “tribe.”  When I was a boy, men were macho.  My dad was strong, facile, and strict.  Movies were John Wayne, Micky Spillane, and Gone with the Wind.  Just after World War II, society’s standards for men were macho, and aggressive; standards for women were demure, cosmetic, social accessories, fiercely-devout housewives, ardent lovers, and stalwart, protectors of children.

gwtw

Men pursued sexual contact, despite protests from a woman (e.g. Gone with the Wind).  “Wolf Whistles” were some crude men’s idea of how to get women’s attention.  Boys had a mandate to “get girls” (e.g. American Graffiti).  We had no idea how, but we could not let it be known we were kiss-less virgins.  Dates were events with timorous, sexual fumbles.  Men “scored” with women.  They used baseball as a metaphor.  First base was kissing; second base was touching breasts; you can guess third base and home run – and strike out.  Virginity was for boys to lose, and girls to keep; that was the battle of the sexes.

Boys’ bathrooms or gym locker rooms were the venues for lame boasts of conquest, and face-saving lies.  Every boy had a story to tell that would lift his score on the invisible scoreboard of manliness.  The desperate would name local, popular boy-legends; girls with “reputations.”

Anyone who watches the series “Mad Men,” sees the power structure, and vulnerability men and women accepted and took for granted.  Everyone tacitly agreed that powerful men can press themselves on women.  Today, we call them “predators.”

Women did not want these advances then, either.  They just learned to ignore or deal with it, and moved on.  It was job survival for a woman in the workplace to tactfully divert the advances of the men she worked with.

Then came the late 60’s,70’s, and 80’s; confusing and defining times for both sexes.  Young, unmarried women were “liberated.”  We had a mix of traditional and uninhibited values.  It was a second “suffrage.”  Some men and women connected in “adulterous” liaisons.  Others lived dual lives, with a traditional family, and a sexual second.  Some had “open” marriages that allowed sex with non-spouses.

This historic, buffet of choices causes conflict today.  The recent pillory and massacre of powerful men based on accusations of sexual harassment and unwanted sexual advances is a cultural sea change.  The information age is giving women a platform, permission, and encouragement to revolt against the subjugating, sexual power men have held over subordinate women forever.

This is a confusing time for men who like women.  Men are on notice to be “appropriate” with all women.  Are platonic friendships between men and women possible now?  What is “appropriate?”

Men want women to like them, but many are clumsy and clueless; women are different, subjective, fickle, ephemeral “mysteries” men cannot figure out; therefore, attractive curiosities.  Who will teach men how to be around women?  Where is the manual?  What parts of the way they grew up do they discard?  Straight men are in peril if they describe, notice, appreciate, comment, or have facial expressions in response to a woman’s appearance or attractiveness.  That surely limits the range of single men’s overtures to a potential mate. (e.g. “Hi, I noticed you from across the library, in the non- fiction section, I do not know anything about non-fiction, could you help me?  Could I bribe you with a coffee?”  Or, “Aren’t you the lady from my bank?  I always wondered what being a teller is like.  Would you have time to help me understand?   I’ll buy the coffee. What do you like?”)  Still pretty lame, but completely appropriate.

Women spend hours each day to prepare and present themselves to “others.”  Cosmetics, hair style, nail polish, clothes, whitened teeth, shoes, and body-shape are endemic elements of fashion and style in our culture.  Women often compliment or disparage other women for their presentation; that is not harassment, but it can be “shaming.”  Women take compliments from gay men as, well, compliments, because they figure sex is not their motivation.

When straight men compliment women, without sexual intentions, women might still accuse them of sexual aggression.  Absent comments, some women might feel ignored, or unattractive, but what are men to do?  Confused and threatened men can retreat into a “man’s world,” which is a safe, sane, and familiar cave.

 

Other Slaves? – Before, During, & After Slavery

In 21st Century America, we have extinguished open slavery of the centuries past.

It seems that ISIS still has slavery as part of their culture.  For a discussion of modern and historical slavery, go to  https://goo.gl/e5bNUz  .

New covert forms of slavery have arisen, including sex trafficking, and domestic servant trafficking.  We have not found a way to conquer cruelty and greed.

But what about those past centuries?  What about the entire world history of slavery?  Slavery, in various forms, was common and accepted in the most primitive of pre-historic cultures.  Most slaves were captured from defeated communities.  One of the intentions of war, was to capture people for religious sacrifice, unpaid labor, and involuntary sex.

 Read more about the history of slavery for perspective.  https://goo.gl/emJoUk

African slave traders sold captives from all sources, including those they kidnapped themselves.  Africa made itself the source of slaves for the known world for centuries.

Sometimes our news implies that America was the only home of the not-free.  Sometimes the descendants of slaves point to the progeny of slave owners and to people who came later and had no connection to slavery whatsoever, and accuse them of the crimes of the past.  Racism groups people by categories and treats everyone in that category as if they were homogenous, related, cohorts of prescribed mind and body.  I reject racism, as I reject slavery.  But, some see racism as a perpetuation of slavery.  I will not debate these ideas, but I will shed the light of history on slavery; especially the African slaves sent to the Western Hemisphere, in “slavers,” under the cruelest conditions.

slaversSlave ships were inhumanly cruel.  It was common for more than 15% to die en route.
sourcese of african slavesAfricans captured slaves from the darkened areas, and marched them to the ports to be sold.

With the discovery of the New World, the invading countries needed vast amounts of labor, well beyond the available indigenous people.  The slave traders shifted to the west, as this map shows.

african slaves

Look at the numbers and proportions of slave buying nations.  North America received 4.4% of the 12 million African slaves, while the Spanish, British, French, Dutch and Brazilians of South America and the West Indies received 95%. I wonder what happened to them?

 

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde – Dementia Comes Home

jekyll-and-hyde-web_658_375_84_c1_c_c_0_0_1

A friend for 30 years (I will use the name” Jason”) goes ballistic; Jason verbally attacks me, ranting and raving with scary yelling and gestures.  The trigger:  I have no opinions about the significance of the day after Halloween (All Saints’ Day).  The next day Jason calls like nothing happened; I remind him, he swears he does not remember; we have a normal, friendly talk, so,  I write the outburst off as several  “senior moments.”

The next week a group of mutual friends and I are at a weekly lunch meeting.  We are chatting about faux pas and embarrassing mistakes we have made.  One friend (let’s call him “Chad”) tells a humorous story about when he sent an email to his boss that was a passionate message to his wife.  We laugh and tease him, like guy friends always do.

Suddenly, Jason raises his voice and wags a finger at this “stupid screw-up.”  He rails and berates Chad until Chad gets up and walks out of the restaurant.  Then Jason follows Chad into the parking lot and beats on his window, still yelling.  Five minutes later, he comes back, smiles at everyone, and asks me if I can stay after lunch to talk about an idea he has for a photography business.  He was clear and pleasant the whole time; he was the friend I know again.

Jason’s problem becomes traumatically real to me.  Alzheimer’s, or bipolar, schizophrenia, mad cow disease, I am at a complete loss.  Does he have a brain tumor?  Has he taken some mood-altering drugs?  Is he still going to be the friend I have known all these years?  Is he some kind of hybrid being, who “identifies” differently some days, or hours?  Has old age stolen his mind?  I am confused, sad, and worried.  What should I do?

My nature is to research problems before I act.  I discover that his condition is probably medical.  Advancing age is fraught with declines, distortions, amplifications of who we are.  What people dread most, is not death; it is the loss of independence and identity.

My research yielded interesting, enlightening, conflicting, and vague ideas.  The mysteries of Alzheimer’s and Grumpy Old Man syndrome are beyond us now.  I am going to make the best suggestions I can to give Jason a chance to live independently, to retain his self-respect, and to let his friends know when he needs them.

Phase 1.  Find out what he can about what is happening to him.  Whatever it takes to know what he is dealing with.  Doctors, tests, interviews, and the lot of modern medicine.  Most likely, they will be semi-inconclusive.  Mood shifts, forgetting, risk taking, those are the symptoms.  Jason will have to choose a path, a theory, a diagnosis he can pursue.  He cannot do everything, but he can do some things.

Phase 2.  Implement the universal common denominators of healthy lifestyle.  All bids for health share wellness and mindfulness as crucial, non-pharmaceutical elements (although medication might be needed for some things).

  • Complete examination
  • Enough good:
    • Sleep
    • Hydration
    • Exercise
    • Nutrition
  • Stable daily routines
  • Thinking/learning/puzzles
  • Stress management/mindfulness
  • Social/spiritual support

Phase 3.  Comply with doctors’ orders.  Try everything long enough to be a fair trial.

  • Take all prescribed medications when and how the prescriptions direct.
  • Show up for appointments and tests
  • Give regular feedback on efficacy of treatments

Phase 4.  Accept your mortality.

  • We all exit this world, unexpectedly. Be gracious until then
  • We all get to choose our friends, revere who we love, and forgive our families
  • Acknowledge your family, friends, doctors
  • Add to that acknowledgement list
  • Do not hold back because you feel vulnerable or embarrassed

I do not think we can guess who will be our Jason, or to whom we will be a Jason.  Maybe these thoughts could help.

 

The “Other” Domestic Violence – False Accusations “Kill” the Accused

As bad as domestic violence can be, false accusations are ruinous, and non-recourse punishment by our injustice system.

The law did not address domestic violence seriously, until recent decades.  Then state legislatures passed current domestic abuse laws in fits of passion without thinking of potential abuse by false accusation.  Now, vengeful women use these laws as weapons in child custody, and divorce cases, as well as for just plain spite.  There is no defense.

The police are required to come and arrest the accused and take him to jail, even if the accuser recants on the spot.  Then, the D.A. charges the accused, even if the accuser continues to recant, (the mean women pile on other wild accusations and get restraining orders.).

Meanwhile, the meter is running on legal bills, and in custody situations, the father cannot see his kids.

If he is found not guilty, he is still out thousands of dollars, may have lost his job, and his reputation.  On top of that, he has zero chance of filing charges against the accuser; they will not prosecute for fear that such charges”might discourage real victims from coming forth.”

My son-in-law is going through this right now.  The accuser claimed he bent her finger, hurt her ribs, and hit her.  She had no signs of damage, did not go to a doctor, and waited 10 days, until he was in back surgery, to call the police.  He was arrested, charged, and subject to a 90-day restraining order, which kept him from seeing his 18-month-old son.  His employer suspended him pending the trial (next February).  Legal fees are over $5,000 so far.

Then, she added more far-fetched accusations:  he tore her clothes off, chased her around the apartment, pulled out and administered a rape kit to test if she had cheated on him, then produced a polygraph machine and tested her for lying.  (She never mentioned the baby at all.)  Since then, she has thought up even more charges; and the D.A. just keeps on adding one ridiculous item after another.  Oh, did I mention she is crazy?

He is not alone, by a long shot.  Look online for stories of false accusation.  Sure, most of the time the charges have substance.  But in this case, I am sure this woman used these accusations to punish him and keep him from his son.

The only way to change this travesty, is to encourage/threaten your elected officials.  If there is clearly no obvious harm to the woman, AND she recants, and admits she did it out of spite/anger, the allegation should be investigated, not ruining the man’s life.

The accused should be treated as innocent until proven otherwise.  Until balance and due process are restored, men can always be guilty until proven innocent, and even then they lose.

Puerto Rico Dilemma – Distribution Chokepoints Plague Every Catastrophe

Distribution is the barrier to helping Puerto Ricans recover from the aftermath of two major hurricanes, Irma & Maria.  Natural disasters (e.g. earthquakes, floods, volcanic eruptions, etc.) always block the means and ways to relief.  The lack of airfields limits aid delivery to large helicopters; for areas open to water, boats that can land on beaches.

The Island of Puerto Rico’s infrastructure is destroyed.  Ships waiting in harbors will do no good if they cannot moor and unload; mountains of needed supplies piled on docks and airfields will do no good without roads, trucks, and drivers to get them where they are needed; generators and powerplants at full capacity will do no good without transmission lines, power stations, and power lines; without power, fuel for generators and vehicles is largely unavailable; thousands of volunteers and military will do no good if they cannot get to the victims.

Waiting for aid might not be the best strategy for the stranded; it might be better if they could move to locations that offered food, shelter, medical aid.  Travel is difficult, but unless transportation becomes available, walking is better than starving.  It may be more effective to transport people out, than moving enough support to the afflicted areas.  In addition, when supplies are delivered, the transport must return to its origin; it could carry refugees.

Puerto Rico’s infrastructure was built to meet the needs of the 3.4 million residents and 4 million plus tourists per year.  They do not have the capacity to repair/replace everything at once.  Complaining and blaming will not change that quickly.

Addressing humanitarian needs (water, food, medical) is priority one.  Restoring power to enable equipment and transportation is priority two.  Opening roads, ports, and airfields is priority three.

Allowing more ships to clog the harbors, adding more soldiers to crowd the capital while they wait for transport, will not help.

Top needs:  Helicopters, generators, bulldozers, and fuel are the hardware; pilots, engineers, drivers, and equipment operators are the software.  Let’s focus on these first.

Transconfusion – “Identity“ Detached from Reality

trans

I wonder if anyone is clear about what these various “my body is this form, but I feel like another form” discussions yield?  In our society, a body with a penis is male, and a body with a vagina is female.  That is a physical, sexual distinction.  This distinction is important to procreation, on a purely biological basis.  Females have the capacity to bring a fertilized egg, to embryo, through gestation, to live birth of a new person.  Males do not.  This is bisexual reproduction, without dispute.  Early humans could not alter this law of nature.  The fact that our world now has 7 billion people, is testament to  this:  vive la différence(I know that physiology can be unclear in up to 1.7 percent of the world’s population, according to the UN, but let’s let the outliers lie out there.)

Then we have society.  Sex is physical, gender is cultural, based on the expected roles and behaviors of men and women.  Most of these expectations have evolved from physical traits and expanded family traditions.  To act like a man was to think, speak, and act in ways that the alpha male did. Little boys worked at being like their father or big brother.   Likewise, to act like a woman was to conform to the ways of other women, take cues from their mother and other female models.

Yet, humans have gone through amazing, changing models for men and women.  Three centuries ago men wore fancy silk and satin clothes, high heels, wigs, and makeup.  They moved and spoke in ways modern Americans would associate with women.  We have also seen the division of labor of the past shift mightily.  The roles and responsibilities of men and women are more alike than ever.

We inherited our intricate social structure and laws from humans who managed to survive and procreate.  In any culture, to deviate from those complex behaviors was to jar the stability of, and threaten the survival of a family/community.  Failure to conform to the spoken and unspoken rules of society was an invitation to punishment.

Homosexuality did not bear the fruit of children, which was a threat to the future of the community.  Religions proclaim that it is a duty to God for people be fruitful, and forbid non-fruitful behaviors.  Some religions even promoted polygamy to increase the number of children added to their flock.  Being “non-fruitful” by having sex without the possibility of children was a sin.  Such sins were often punishable by shaming, shunning, physical punishment, death, or exile.  No one questioned the wisdom of the “scriptures.”

When societies expanded and advanced to the point that extinction was not as great a fear, people felt safer to allow themselves to be “non-fruitful.”  Homosexuality was tolerated along with other “sins,” and “debauchery.”

Only recently, has America made homosexuality legal and sanctioned homosexual marriages.

But here is where I get confused:  what exactly is “transgender?”  At first, I thought it meant a homosexual who took action to physically gain the attributes of the opposite sex.  Sounds painful and expensive to me; and not all men make pretty women.

But now I hear that transgender can mean that a person “identifies” as another sex without the physical transformation.  I was surprised that Bruce/Kaitlin Jenner “identifies” as a woman, has gained breasts, grown long hair, bought a wardrobe of women’s clothing, but retains male genitalia. You think, maybe, he “identifies” as both male and female?

I am also hearing about people who call themselves transgender who do nothing physical, just “identify.”  Boys who “identify” as girls, but are still physically boys, want to go to the girls’ bathrooms and locker rooms.  Homosexuals have always used the bathrooms of their physical sex.  What is different with transgenders who are physically boys or girls?  For me, as long as the difference in preference or identity is not represented by your body, I say, your body determines which school or public facilities to use.

 

 

 

Independence Every Day – Divorce Virtual Opioids

This is a great time to be alive in America.  The average American has a better life than kings, queens, and pharaohs of the past.  We are safer, live longer, are free to go where we want, and enjoy knowledge and experiences that would have astounded the world only a few decades ago.

One area that is encroaching on our freedom is the enticing addiction to the virtual world to the exclusion of the real, here and now world.  More, and more, I walk through crowds of “zombies” stuck in their phones, tablets, music, and video.  They are not really “here.”  The inattention to life has begun to dominate our culture.  Isolation from “real” family and friends is rapidly wearing down the social skills of our society members.

The siren attraction of the imaginations of others is sapping the development and practice of imagining for ourselves.  Children need that development as they grow up.  What kind of adults, parents, employees will people become if they have no experience of self-creation?  What will our culture become when all we have is “copies” of the excellent ideas generated by a few “imagineers.”

Try doing without the virtual toys and tools you spend so much time with for 24 hours:  No cell phones, tablets, pc’s, internet, cable tv, DVD’s or other electronics.  You will quickly find out what you have been missing, such as talking with your family, reading books, playing musical instruments, inventing things, fixing things, learning things, eating with people who are present and making conversation about your life and the people you love.

We had to fight for our independence as we started this nation.  Now is a good time to exercise total freedom from the seductive draw of virtual opioids.

The News, Sans Trump? – What Is Left?

Based on the news I have seen these last 2 years, the only thing keeping U.S. news sources going is Trump.

Really, subtract all the coverage of Donald Trump and his coterie and we have what?  The major cable news channels would be reduced to human interest pieces, sports, and weather, oh, and North Korea.  Sure, the occasional terrorist attack, another Catholic priest scandal, and futile battles in the Middle East crop up every so often, but the rest would have to be just plain entertainment.

This goes double for the tiny news sites like salon, BuzzFeed, and their ilk.  Without political warfare, their nets, and their advertising coffers would be empty.

ESPN invented 24/7 sports programming.  The franchise makes a fortune from 1% actual sports activity + 99% talking, analyzing, postulating about sports figures, drafts, management changes, wagering, keeping score, and all the endless, pointless falderol of mostly man-talk (often by beautiful women).

Cable news, ala CNN, Fox, MSNBC, have taken that model to new heights of expanded air time by making everything editorial opinion, building media stars and forums to pander to one political cohort or the other.  The real feeding frenzy around everything Trump never seems to end.  Shows how hatred sells and fear captivates.

Anyway, I hope the news media enjoys the ride, because some day, they won’t have DJT to flick around anymore.

No Penalty for Synthetic News – Voracious Media Swallow Anything

For quite a while, papers such as the National Enquirer were the only place a reader could find out about the conception and birth of the extraterrestrial, alien children of movie stars.

“Enquiring Minds Want to Know,” led supermarket and drugstore shoppers to buy the tabloid for gossip and secrets of the rich and famous, celebrities, along with eyewitness tales of the occult and UFOs.  It only took a dozen or so specious or craftily worded articles per week to keep the America Media publication flush with advertising revenue.  No one cared about journalism, or retractions, or misspellings – entertaining fiction was all it was.  They had a big enough budget to settle lawsuits and keep printing.

Now the ever-widening maw of the internet has spawned info-fantasy outlets to compete with reality.  Exempli gratia:  The recent articles about a couple of California “Breatharians,” who claim to live on “energy that exists in the universe and in themselves” and that they are sustained by “cosmic nourishment.”  This must put the National Enquirer in the backseat of audacity.  No fewer than six news outlets on Google News published the articles; YouTube videos of the couple and their two children have hundreds of thousands of views.

I will not honor this idiocy with more details, but I will shake my head at what the word “news” has come to mean.  I shudder at the thought of how many people might believe such unfiltered, synthetic, mental trash.  Our children are already screen zombies with waning connection to the physical, emotional, social, and spiritual worlds they inhabit.  The gullible, undereducated, and socially diminished cohorts of the future may have little reality on which to build their lives.

The comedian Gallagher quipped, “I wish there was a knob on the TV to turn up the intelligence.  There’s a knob called “brightness,” but it doesn’t seem to work.”  That was before cable TV and the Internet.

Do Americans Really Want Economic Equality? – Not Beyond Our Borders

So much anger and angst about “Inequality” fills the American press without suggesting solutions.  Do they propose taking from the wealthy and handing it to the poor?  Just what do they want?

Do Americans really want economic equality, considering the vast economic differences in the world’s economies?  How about economic equality with the 10 poorest countries in the world?

  • Malawi: (pop 16 million, GDP per capita of $226.50)
  • Burundi: (pop 12 million, GDP per capita of $267.10)
  • Central African Republic: (pop 5 million, GDP per capita of $333.20)
  • Niger: (pop 21 million, GDP per capita of $415.40)
  • Liberia: (pop 5 million, GDP per capita of $454.30)
  • Madagascar: (pop 20 million, GDP per capita of $463.00)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo: (pop 77 million, GDP per capita of $484.20)
  • The Gambia: (pop 2 million, GDP per capita of $488.60)
  • Ethiopia: (pop 104 million, GDP per capita of $505.00)
  • Guinea: (pop 12 million, GDP per capita of $523.10)
 http://gazettereview.com/2016/06/top-10-poorest-countries-world/

United States (pop 300 million, GDP per capita of $51,638.10)

How much of your lifestyle would it take to “level the playing field with these 274 million African people who average $460 per year?Are you ready to make your contribution?

I do not think so.  It seems that the perceptions of difference limited to Americans are much more important to the critics than broader global realities.  This way of thinking of the world in discreet nations is automatic for most people.  We blithely ignore the fact that America is near the top of the economic “food chain” when we cry “inequality.”  Even the TV weather seems to stop at our borders.  But money does not.

The internet and international trade have dissolved the economic borders of nations.  People can buy and sell goods and services among the countries of the world with fewer restrictions and barriers.  Countries with lower cost labor compete with businesses in countries where wages and costs are much higher.  Globalization has revealed the world’s true economic inequalities.

American workers were paid well to operate factories and do skilled and unskilled jobs; now many are displaced by globalization, and other technological and cultural factors.  New jobs in America require different skills, and higher levels of education, knowledge, and experience.  Those who do not or cannot adapt and learn are left to compete for lower-paying jobs.

Creating financial success is not an equal opportunity phenomenon.  It tends to favor those who are born with successful parents, intellect, talent, and drive.  Globalization and technology have created business opportunities that can make people wealthy overnight, widening the wealth gap between the haves and have nots.

Where did the concept of economic equality come from?  Has any country survived and thrived under mandated economic equality?  When, in history, were people equal in anything?

In its early form, America was unique in the world to propose that citizens govern themselves with the precepts of equal civil and legal rights under our constitution and laws.  Under our system, we have equality of liberty and freedom for citizens who obey the law.  We are not promised economic equality.

The Declaration of Independence asserts that “all men are created equal.” Conceptually, we asserted this in the context of renouncing the right of a king to rule his subjects.  We were announcing that no one has a birthright to a lower or superior class or nobility in America.  Further, it reads “they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,” among them “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”  We were not announcing anything beyond natural rights to life, liberty (from overreaching, arbitrary laws and rules of monarchs), and the pursuit of happiness.  We were not announcing redistribution of wealth, or handicapping the blessed.

Humans are born different and unequal in almost every aspect of being, including intellect, strength, size, eyesight, and other things that allow them to operate successfully in the world.  The fact is, people are never equal; that is what makes them unique.

 

Political “Racists” Accuse Tom Brady of Racism

“Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.” – Rudyard Kipling

Tom Brady had just led his New England Patriots football team to an historic, overtime, victory in the Super Bowl, after overcoming a 3rd quarter, 25-point deficit –  a Super Bowl record.  But, he is a friend of the president.  How stupid and arrogant can political “racists” be to cast racist aspersions on Tom Brady for quoting inspirational, non-racist words from Rudyard Kipling’s poem to his son John, “If–”?

“If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue, ‘
Or walk with Kings – nor lose the common touch,
if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!”

Rudyard Kipling was born in 1865 in Bombay, India.  He grew up in the age of Imperialism, as the British Empire was reaching its peak.  Critics point to his 1899 poem, “The White Man’s Burden,” as racist, and it was, as was the rest of the Eurocentric Imperialist world.

Nonetheless, he won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1907, “in consideration of the power of observation, originality of imagination, virility of ideas and remarkable talent for narration which characterize the creations of this world-famous author.”  That did not make the Nobel Committee racist.

If we discarded all works of culture, art, music, & history because they came from times, authors, artists, and views we now condemn, the libraries’ shelves would be empty, the walls and pedestals of museums would be barren, the world would be silent, and we would be ignorant savages, banging stones against stones; but wait, some people insist on just that.

When have human beings not been “racists?”  How long have civilizations existed and progressed despite built-in bigotry, bias, and fear?

Ignorance, when clung to righteously, becomes stupidity.  Criticism from a platform of vapid views of hatred is wicked silliness.  I would not give any credence to the blather spewing from such a source, nor would I value anything else it produced.