Sunday, November 11, 2018

Trump and his anger

I googled 'why is Trump always so angry?', and these are some of the hits that were returned. I've read a number of them, and they are worth reading, even if the messages are unpleasant:


And finally--an article from a man who is rabidly anti-Trump:
https://www.gq.com/story/anger-management-in-the-age-of-trump

It's as though a rage hysteria (think 28 Days Later:  https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0289043/) has overtaken us as a nation. You might want to watch that film--it's quite scary. In any case, this focus on rage is not leading the nation anywhere good. We would be better served by men and women who were truly interested in sitting down to discuss the real issues and to find logical workable solutions. It can be done.



More FDRs and less Trumps

Americans are either immigrants or the descendants of immigrants. At the base of the Statue of Liberty is Emma Lazarus' poem that includes the lines “Give me your tired, your poor,  your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” They did come, the poor, the starving, the disenfranchised, the explorers, the adventure-seekers, and those who simply wanted a new start and a new life. My grandfather and grandmother (my father's parents) left Italy for a better life in America, as did so many Europeans at the beginning of the 20th century. Their lives in America were often difficult, they may have struggled to survive, but many of them worked hard, lived together in large non-private family units, saved money, and got ahead. Many of them became successful, including my grandfather.

The Great Depression changed all that for many of them, including my grandfather, but after that came FDR and his New Deal, which helped get America back on its feet, and introduced the idea that the government could be responsible for taking care of its people (not a popular idea at all in the late 1800s). People forget this--that the Works Progress Administration, Social Security, and many other programs were instituted to help unemployed Americans get back to work or to provide financial support for them when they retired. As Wikipedia writes:

The New Deal was a series of programs, public work projects, financial reforms and regulations enacted by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the United States between 1933 and 1936. It responded to needs for relief, reform and recovery from the Great Depression. Major federal programs included the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), the Civil Works Administration (CWA), the Farm Security Administration (FSA), the National Industrial Recovery Act of 1933 (NIRA) and the Social Security Administration (SSA). They provided support for farmers, the unemployed, youth and the elderly. The New Deal included new constraints and safeguards on the banking industry and efforts to re-inflate the economy after prices had fallen sharply. New Deal programs included both laws passed by Congress as well as presidential executive orders during the first term of the presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt. The programs focused on what historians refer to as the "3 Rs": relief for the unemployed and poor, recovery of the economy back to normal levels and reform of the financial system to prevent a repeat depression.

Wikipedia also writes: The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) was created in 1933 to maintain public confidence and encourage stability in the financial system through the promotion of sound banking practices. It is an independent federal agency insuring deposits in U.S. banks and thrifts in the event of bank failures.

And in 1944, the G.I. Bill was established; it was officially called the Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944. This bill was created to help veterans of World War II. It established hospitals, made low-interest mortgages available and granted stipends covering tuition and expenses for veterans attending college or trade schools. (Wikipedia). My father benefited from the GI Bill; it allowed him to pursue a college and a graduate school education. He always spoke highly of it.

Imagine our lives without unemployment benefits, the GI Bill, Social Security, and the FDIC. I have personal experience with the importance of unemployment benefits, when my father was unemployable (due to illness) and out of work for almost two years and unemployment benefits helped us through that time, thank God. There would have been no other safety net. But when you look at all the benefits Americans enjoy and/or feel entitled to, it surprises me that the Trump-ites accept their existence. After all, FDR introduced what many die-hard Trump-ites would call socialist programs into American government; perhaps better put, FDR introduced Americans to the idea that government was there to help them, a philosophy that the rabid Trump-ites despise. A truly capitalistic country would not have allowed for Social Security, a program that even the Trump-ites will benefit from. But FDR was smart, and he did what he thought would benefit the country and get it back on its feet. It worked. Many of the programs were meant as temporary solutions, but some of them stuck and we still have them today, like Social Security.

I wrote a post back in February 2018 entitled More Lincolns and less Trumps: https://paulamdeangelis.blogspot.com/2018/02/more-lincolns-and-less-trumps.html . I have entitled this post More FDRs and less Trumps, because my respect is boundless when it comes to both Lincoln and FDR. We need more presidents like them. They were truly smart and empathetic presidents who did not need to spew their vitriol and anger out over the general populace with the sole intent of inciting unrest and division, and yes, more anger, as Trump does ad nauseam. 


Wednesday, November 7, 2018

The American midterm elections and a very good infographic

This infographic in today's NY Times, entitled Sizing Up the 2018 Blue Wave--is worth taking a look at: https://nyti.ms/2D9AnrV .

I'm so glad Democrats control the House of Representatives. Who knows what the future holds, but at least the Republicans no longer control Congress. That's a step in the right direction......


Good song--Plush, by Stone Temple Pilots

This song was on the radio yesterday when we were on our way to work. I hadn't heard it before (or if I have, I don't remember it) and I immediately thought I was listening to Eddie Vedder and Pearl Jam. But no, I wasn't. It's just that the lead singer of Stone Temple Pilots, Scott Weiland, sounded remarkably like Eddie Vedder. And when I googled Eddie Vedder and Scott Weiland, sure enough, there were many articles about how Scott Weiland copied Eddie Vedder' manner of singing, and all the negative reactions to that. Unfortunately, Scott Weiland died in 2015, and has since been hailed by Billy Corgan of The Smashing Pumpkins "as one of three "voices of the generation" alongside Kurt Cobain and Layne Staley" (source = Wikipedia). I think he has a really good voice, and I really like this song (from 1992). It grows on me the more I listen to it. I don't understand how I missed this song and band, but I did. In any case, enjoy......





Sunday, November 4, 2018

My Saturday night movie watching--Two Weeks Notice and Basic Instinct

Saturday evenings are often good opportunities to catch up on movies I've missed or ones that I want to see again (infrequent occurrences but they do happen). Last night was one of those evenings. I watched Two Weeks Notice (2002) with Sandra Bullock and Hugh Grant for the first time (I don't know how I missed it when it first came out), and after that I watched Basic Instinct (1992) with Sharon Stone and Michael Douglas for the second time. While both movies belong to different genres--romantic comedy and noir erotic thriller, respectively, and both are very good, the portrayal of women in each film is quite different. Sandra Bullock's character is far more realistic and nuanced than Sharon Stone's character, oddly enough for a romantic comedy, and far less cool. In Basic Instinct, Catherine Tramell (Sharon Stone's character) is a writer of murder/crime books, with firsthand knowledge of murder. She is a psychopath and pathological liar, brilliant yes, but completely without morals. I can understand an actress wanting to play that role, but the character remains unexplored--a superficial view of a murderess who surrounds herself with other female murderesses. In 1992 when the movie was made, this was probably heavy stuff--a female murderess, extreme behavior, graphic sex scenes, bisexuality, cocaine use, reckless driving--all thrown in the mix. God knows we have had a plethora of murder/slasher films (too many of them) where the psychopath is always a man with a penchant for raping and torturing/murdering women. So now we had a female psychopath. But Basic Instinct makes the female psychopath cool. When I first saw the film in 1993, that thought didn't dominate my impression of the movie. It did last night, and now that I'm older, I waver more about the implications of making a psychopath (male or female) cool. Because psychopaths are not cool--that's an unrealistic presentation of them. They're frustrating and annoying to be around and to deal with. They make you feel uncomfortable in their presence, like you are pinned to a dissecting board, waiting for the worst. There is a certain 'creep' factor associated with them, as in--they are creeps and they make your skin crawl. They are often intelligent, charming, attractive, unattainable to most, narcissistic, amoral, pathological liars interested in playing games with people. They are ultimately destructive individuals and that is their aim. But they are not cool, rather anything but. I have met men (and perhaps one woman) with psychopathic tendencies (intelligent and amoral pathological liars) but they were neither interesting nor attractive people, and after a short time, their superficiality was a turnoff. After a few encounters, you avoid them at all costs. For most men, I would guess that a female psychopath would be the same after a while, after the initial attraction wore off. Few people talk about their experiences with a psychopath, unsurprisingly, since most of those interactions don't go well for the non-psychopath. Most psychopaths are probably not killers, but a number of them can be violent if it serves their purposes. So why does Michael Douglas' 'prone-to-violence' character Nick Curran risk his life by getting involved with Catherine Tramell? Because he has an addictive personality--he's obsessed with her. The film's atmosphere has been compared to that found in some Hitchcock films. I was rather reminded of both Brian De Palma's Dressed to Kill (1980), with Michael Caine, Angie Dickinson, and Nancy Allen, (a lurid film if ever there was one), and of Harold Becker's Sea of Love (1989) with Al Pacino and Ellen Barkin. Sea of Love is a much better (but underrated) film than either Dressed to Kill or Basic Instinct, mostly because it had a logical plot, gritty NYC atmosphere, and characters you actually cared about. If you're looking for an erotic murder/crime film that makes sense, where policemen behave rationally (or at least try to), this is the film for you. Basic Instinct is not (in my opinion); it is rather a superficial illogical thriller with a lot of sex and violence thrown in. Guaranteed to earn tons of money at the box office, which it did, thanks to the presence of actors like Michael Douglas and Sharon Stone and some soft-core sex scenes. At this point in my life, I'd simply say--sex sells--the sex scenes are what made this film so popular. None of the characters even remotely interested me, in terms of the types of people I'd like to get to know in real life. But it's a wild ride toward what for me was the obvious conclusion, so in that sense it was enjoyable.

So that is why Two Weeks Notice won out over Basic Instinct for me last night. Because despite the fact that I had few expectations of a romantic comedy being well-written (intelligently-written), non-superficial, and with interesting and witty characters, I was pleasantly surprised. Sandra Bullock's character Lucy Kelson in Two Weeks Notice was intelligent, witty, engaged and attractive. I would want to get to know her. She wanted to make something of her life; she stood for something. Working as a pro bono lawyer when we first meet her, we understand that she has inherited her parents' commitment to working for justice and good (often underdog) causes. So when she meets charming, handsome, and superficial millionaire George Wade (played by Hugh Grant) who mostly cares about what suits/ties to wear and the next woman he will bed, sparks fly and we know how it is going to end since it's a romantic comedy. They're diametrical opposites who are attracted to each other, who like each other and who are willing to change a bit for the other, albeit not immediately and not without major resistance. It surprised me, considering the awful romantic comedies I've seen lately (you can ask me for a list--many of them with Jason Bateman and/or Jennifer Aniston), that this one was so good and so well-written, with characters I could root for. It was actually a lot of fun joining them on their journey toward maturity, watching them admit that they were human and could change. Of course I know that the basic plot was inherently unrealistic; how often are pro bono lawyers offered a 250,000 dollar a year job at a major corporation, how often does said lawyer end up in almost daily communication with her boss, etc. But I can suspend my requirement for logic and my skepticism and just accept the (often far-fetched) premise when we're dealing with romantic comedies. That is not the case with crime thrillers and series; I expect a certain amount of logical thought and reasonable responses to certain events. When I don't get that, I get disappointed, and that happens with a lot of crime movies/series these days.


Monday, October 29, 2018

Speaking kindly

In the age of Trump, who has little to no idea of what it means to speak kindly, it would behoove us to remember the following, especially when trying to 'teach our children well' (my apologies to Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young - Teach Your Children):


Image result for talking kindly to plants



Sunday, October 28, 2018

You reap what you sow

It's been said many times before, but it's worth repeating, especially in these times of hate rhetoric and incitements to violence. "You reap what you sow". If you open your mouth and nothing but anger, hatred, aggression and meanness comes out, you will attract the same. You will attract the types of people that most well-behaved people wish would stay hidden under their slimy rocks. The types of people who will feel emboldened by you, and who will repay your bad behavior in kind. The types of people who use social media as their soap box to unload their vitriol on others. If you are the president of the USA, this is not a good thing, no matter how much you would like it to be. The fact that these types of people are your supporters should trigger every alarm inside you. But it doesn't. You seem mostly unperturbed by it. Yet it would behoove you to behave decently, properly, kindly, and carefully, rather than incite these types of people to behave badly. It would behoove you to lead the nation in the right direction. It is not a good thing that your behavior opens the doors to all sorts of terrible behavior. A truly intelligent leader would have understood this by now. And if you are truly intelligent and still choose to lead the nation in the wrong direction, then that is evil. Because really, what else is evil but the deliberate choice to do wrong in the face of right? We as a nation are reaping what we sow. We persist in prioritizing the right to own and carry guns rather than tackling so many other important issues that should have been prioritized a long time ago, like universal healthcare for all Americans. We persist in speaking unkindly, aggressively, meanly, because we are led by someone who does so, who has made it a priority to do so. He is making a mockery of all that we stand for as a Christian nation. We are letting it happen, and we let it continue.

I find it strange that in 2018, we are going backwards. We are regressing as a nation. Our values as a nation are at stake. What do we stand for? We need to figure that out rather fast, because we are sliding quickly down into the muck. Who knew that it would take so short a time to undo the progress that has been made concerning racism and personal rights? Who knew that there were so many white supremacists just waiting in the wings for their turn to walk onto the stage? Who knew that a nation could be so divided? Who knew that there was so much hate bubbling under the surface? 

But now we know--where we came from, and where we are going to. It's neither a pleasant journey nor a pleasant destination.



Wednesday, October 24, 2018

October full moon

A very large and full moon this week, and since the skies have been mostly clear, I've been able to get some good photos of it with my camera attached to my telescope. I wish I could get more detail of the moon's surface in the photos, otherwise I am fairly satisfied. Here are some of the ones I took tonight.









Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Celibacy for priests is discipline, not doctrine, and it can change

Good to see that Pope Francis might consider allowing priests to marry, at least in areas of the world where there is a shortage of priests. I think he should just open for allowing all priests to marry, if they wish to. After all, as the article states--"Francis has long said he appreciates the discipline of celibacy, but that it can change given it is discipline, not doctrine.".

https://nypost.com/2018/10/23/pope-francis-willing-to-consider-letting-priests-get-married/

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Autumn last year was also lovely

And this was my post last year on this date--Saturday October 21, 2017, also about the colors of autumn in Oslo.........

https://paulamdeangelis.blogspot.com/2017/10/the-colors-of-autumn.html


Lovely autumn in Oslo

I went for a long walk along the Akerselva river last Sunday afternoon, and yesterday I spent a couple of hours in the garden raking leaves and taking up some plants that need to go indoors for the winter. The fall colors this year are striking--some really beautiful reds and golds. I took some photos as I walked along the river last Sunday, and some photos of the garden yesterday. And one photo taken last week of a building that is located on the grounds where I work. Autumn in Oslo--this year, it's lovely!

a covered bridge over the Akerselva river



leaves and more leaves



gorgeous autumn colors

a path you want to wander along

Akerselva river 

the beautiful Akerselva river

so many leaves 


the wild ivy has turned red



the mushrooms are back--these are Pholiota squarrosoides 

the daisies are still blooming 

a building not far from where I work 

Sunday, October 14, 2018

My travels in Europe


My first trip to Europe was in 1987 when I attended a scientific conference in Cambridge, England. I always remember my father telling me about his visit to Cambridge when he lived in England during WWII. My visit there in 1987 lit a travel spark in me that is still alive over thirty years later. I’ve been thinking about how many European countries/places I’ve had the privilege of traveling to since then, many of them thanks to the scientific conferences that we've attended over the years:

  • Austria: Innsbruck
  • Belgium: Brussels, Leuven
  • The Czech Republic: Prague, Karlstejn
  • Denmark: Copenhagen, Aarhus, Roskilde
  • England: London, Cambridge, Oxford, Keswick, Salisbury, Bath, Wiltshire (Stonehenge)
  • Finland: Helsinki
  • France: Paris, Versailles, Caen/Normandy, Montpellier, Saint Raphael, Frejus, St. Tropez, Cannes, Marseilles, Besancon
  • Germany: Berlin, Leipzig
  • Holland: Amsterdam, Delft, Lisse (Keukenhof tulip park)
  • Hungary: Budapest
  • Ireland: Dublin, Banagher, Adare, Galway, Sligo, Drumcliff, Monaghan (Castle Leslie)
  • Italy: Milan, Rome, Caserta, Naples, Venice, Perugia, Assisi, Barano & Casamicciola (Ischia)
  • Norway: Bergen, Trondheim, Risør, Arendal, Kristiansand, Sandefjord, Ålesund, Stavanger, Molde, Fredrikstad, Elverum
  • Scotland: Edinburgh, Glasgow
  • Sweden: Stockholm, Visby (Gotland), Strømstad, the Koster islands
  • Switzerland: Zurich, Lausanne
  • Wales: Holyhead (ferry to Dublin)


There are still so many countries/places I want to see—Spain, Portugal, Greece, Poland, and more of Italy and Germany. Hopefully I'll get to some of these places when my husband and I retire and have more time to explore, and/or together with good friends, God willing. One thing I do know--don't leave all your travel dreams to some unknown future time. If you have the chance to travel at present, take it. 





Wednesday, October 10, 2018

An autumn weekend in Stockholm

There is what is called 'autumn vacation' in Norway ('høstferie'), dating back to a time when the farmers needed help with their harvests, so children were allowed to take a week free from school. I don't know if there are/were similar traditions in the USA. I do know that we never had a week of autumn vacation as children growing up in New York State, although there were single-day school holidays scattered throughout autumn and winter. In any case, both children and parents often take a week off in the early part of October here in Norway. I've never taken any autumn vacation before, but this year, I decided to do so. I took a few days off, as did my husband, and one of the things we decided to do was to spend a weekend in Stockholm, Sweden. We drove through some beautiful countryside and saw some gorgeous autumn foliage before we arrived in Stockholm on Friday afternoon. We stayed at the Elite Palace Hotel on Sankt Eriksgatan street (https://www.elite.se/en/hotels/stockholm/palace-hotel/?utm_source=google&utm_medium=organic&utm_campaign=google-local&utm_content=stockholm_palace), where we had stayed once before when my husband was in Stockholm for a PhD defense where he served on the doctoral committee that reviewed the student's work. That was in November or December 2006, when it was considerably colder outside; I remember that we visited Millesgården (https://www.millesgarden.se/home.aspx) in 2006 and it was cold and rainy; the museum's cafe served hot pumpkin soup with feta cheese in it, and it was wonderful. The weather this past weekend was temperate, no rain, cloudy with some sunshine--perfect for walking. We did some exploring of the neighborhood around the hotel on Friday evening and ended up at an Italian restaurant called Grappa for dinner. On Saturday morning, we drove to a part of town called Pålsundet, a small strait (or canal) with many beautiful wooden boats located in that area, some on land, most still on the water. Since we had booked a early-afternoon three hour lunch cruise around the archipelago that is Stockholm, we made our way back to the hotel, parked the car, and then walked down to the main harbor to meet our boat. The boat trip brought us past many small islands dotted with lovely homes, and is well-worth taking as it is not expensive (about 90 dollars for two people including lunch, which was more like dinner). And when it was over, we walked back to the hotel through some lovely neighborhoods (the architecture in Stockholm is beautiful), and ate a late dinner at the Bishop Arms pub adjoining the hotel. I calculated that we walked a total of six miles on Saturday. On Sunday, we had a leisurely breakfast and just hung around the hotel until we checked out and headed for home.

I took some photos of our trip to Pålsundet, on our boat trip, and of Stockholm, and have posted some of them here. Enjoy.......






Running for the bus












Vanity Fair--opening

And here's the opening to each episode of the Vanity Fair TV series.....I highly recommend the series--this is what makes television worth watching!

Great version of All Along the Watchtower by Afterhere

This is not Jimi Hendrix's version of All Along the Watchtower, or Bob Dylan's either (he wrote it but it's Hendrix's version that most of us remember). This is Afterhere's version, and it's great! I love it. It's recently been used as the opening credits theme music to the TV series Vanity Fair (another great British TV series--check it out here https://www.imdb.com/title/tt7076630/?ref_=rvi_tt).

I think you'll like Afterhere's version of this classic and enduring song.......



Wednesday, October 3, 2018

A gorgeous autumn day for working in the garden

Today was one of those gorgeous blue-sky days so characteristic of early autumn--warm and sunny, with a temperature around 60 degrees F. There was no wind, so at midday, it was pleasant to be outdoors in the warm sunshine. I went first to the local Plantasjen garden center and purchased two mixed sets of bulbs (crocuses, hyacinths, anemones, muscari, and two kinds of allium) from Holland, as well as one package of hyacinths and one package of tulips. I also purchased two ornamental kale plants. I then went to the local bakery and bought myself a sandwich and something to drink, and walked down to the garden. I got there around lunchtime and stayed until 3 pm, in which time I ate a leisurely lunch and managed to plant many different kinds of bulbs for next spring's blooming. In fact, I planted a total of 120 bulbs. Half of the bulbs will produce flowers of purplish-blue color, the other half will produce flowers of white color.

I made use of areas of the garden that I have not used up until this point, e.g. I planted crocus and allium bulbs under the Emperor rose bush which really is a tree at this point in time. I also planted allium bulbs along the fence that runs along the west end of the garden, and the tulip bulbs on the left side of the greenhouse. Some of the hyacinth bulbs were planted near the garden entrance, and some behind the hops plants on the east side of the garden. Hopefully there will be a profusion of flowers next spring.

















Ornamental Kale and Cabbage | The Home Depot's Garden Club
Ornamental kale--photo from http://gardenclub.homedepot.com/5-things-know-flowering-kale-cabbage/


Monday, October 1, 2018

Behaving decently

I've read a lot of the commentaries and articles dealing with Brett Kavanaugh--whether he lied or didn't, what he lied about, his indignation and self-righteous anger on the stand, and so on. Personally I just don't trust him, since he appears to have lied about words like boofing and devil's triangle, among others (both of which have clear sexual connotations). He wants to make us believe that he was a decent young man with only the best motives where women were concerned. I don't believe that he was so decent. Any time massive amounts of alcohol are involved in order to have a 'good time', a decent mindset and decent behavior go out the window. It's guaranteed that something will go wrong or someone will get hurt. During my teenage years, young men drove when they were drunk, and ended up hurting (or killing) themselves and often others. One young man, quarterback of his high school football team, ended up a paraplegic after a horrific car crash that killed another occupant in the car. And so on. Driving drunk was not unusual then, but that changed dramatically when I reached my mid-twenties and MADD (Mothers against drunk driving--see https://www.madd.org/about-us/our-story/ for more info) forced the drinking age laws to change.

Society often says 'boys will be boys' whenever their 'bad' behavior is brought up, whether that bad behavior is sexual, alcohol-related, or drug-related. We let teenage boys off the hook when we use that expression, as though they somehow deserve to be excused for their bad behavior. They don't, and neither do the teenage girls who behave similarly. Unfortunately, it's often teenage girls who end up getting hurt more often than teenage boys, especially if sexual assault/rape enters the picture.

I know that it's possible that men and women can change, so I won't argue that point. I went to school with male and female bullies, most of whom grew up and became well-functioning, non-bullying adults. But nevertheless, they were not very nice persons when we were growing up. Their behavior was not excused however in my day; it was clamped down upon by parents and schools. All forms of sexual harassment and abuse should also be clamped down upon--by parents, schools and workplaces--whenever it appears. We don't need a lot of new regulations and laws; they exist already. We need to have them enforced; we need to enforce them. The abusers and harassers should be punished. Rapists should go to prison for a minimum of twenty years. They should not be rewarded with cushy positions and a 'get out of jail free' card whenever they've done something wrong. Angry privileged white men defend each other and protect each other. They let each other get away with bad behavior. They call in favors, they make deals, they pay off those they've abused/raped, and they get away with it. They are above the law and are allowed to remain there. They whine about the impact of hearings and investigations on their families; but they never once stop to consider the impact of their sexual assaults/rapes on the women they assault/rape, and on the families of those women. The narcissism, selfishness, and sociopathic tendencies in these men are appalling. Sociopaths are defined by behavior that is antisocial and often criminal; they lack a sense of moral responsibility or social conscience. That pretty much sums up the behavior of many of the male politicians in government these days, as well as many of the men in the entertainment business and in the business world generally. It seems to me that many men simply hate women, and I really don't understand why. How we got to this point, I don't know.

I leave you with an excellent opinion article--Decent Men Don't Do These Things--published in The New York Times on September 24th: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/24/opinion/kavanaugh-sexual-assault-blasey-testimony.html?action=click&module=RelatedLinks&pgtype=Article

It's food for thought. I believe we need a national movement (like MADD) that stresses the urgency of learning how to behave decently again. We could hope our current president embraced such a movement and learned something from it as well.




Friday, September 28, 2018

Nature is a good reminder of all that's right with the world

I saw this video for the first time tonight, and loved it. Beautifully-filmed nature shots, a reminder that the world really is a wonderful place. Every time I need a reminder, I'll check out this video......

Thursday, September 27, 2018

The day of reckoning is here

It is perhaps no coincidence that there are so many sexual abuse scandals happening all around us--in politics (Brett Kavanaugh), in the Catholic church (pedophile priests), in the entertainment industry (#metoo, Harvey Weinstein, and Bill Cosby), and in the workplace (where to start--there are so many stories of bad bosses and toxic workplaces). These worlds were the playgrounds of men for many years, far too many years. Centuries of power placed in the hands of men, many who behaved indecently toward others, some who did not. The former behaved in ways that kept women and minorities out of the circles dominated by men, or if women and minorities were allowed in, kept them out of positions of power via harassment, abuse, sexual harassment, and sexual abuse. Make no mistake--all forms of harassment and abuse are power plays--exertions of power by the strong over those they perceive as weaker than they are. The harassers harass because they can, because they have the license to do so. They have enough power and money to prevent those they harass from fighting back and demanding justice. They can victimize others, but those others may after some time refuse to be labeled as victims and may fight back, and that is what is happening now in 2018, after years of not fighting back. The 'weaker' parties are ultimately not victims of the powerful. But the centuries-long imbalance between the powerful and non-powerful perpetuated the bad behavior by the powerful. I think what is happening now, however extreme it may be, is necessary in order for us to move forward as a nation and as a civilized world society. This bad behavior is not just occurring in the USA.

The day of reckoning is here. We simply cannot continue down the path on which we have been going. We know about all of the things that were wrong in the past, even the recent past. What we need now is change. We need open doors, we need a breath of fresh air. Out with the dinosaurs (of which Trump is one), in with the new. New ways of thinking and behaving. Transparency and integrity in leaders, be they men or women. Ethical behavior, justice for all. We have to believe again and to have hope. As is written in the Declaration of Independence: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." The word 'men' can be stricken from this document and replaced with 'people', so that everyone understands that this document grants these freedoms to all, not to just one gender. It will be an extremely painful process to reckon with past grievances, but it is high time that we did. All real change is painful.


A quote from Jackson Katz's book The Macho Paradox: Why Some Men Hurt Women and How All Men Can Help

I haven't read Jackson Katz's book The Macho Paradox: Why Some Men Hurt Women and How All Men Can Help, but I am impressed by this quote from his book. It's uncomfortable to read it, and yet, if you are a woman, you learn to do many of these things already when you are quite young. Here is the quote:

“I draw a line down the middle of a chalkboard, sketching a male symbol on one side and a female symbol on the other. Then I ask just the men: What steps do you guys take, on a daily basis, to prevent yourselves from being sexually assaulted? At first there is a kind of awkward silence as the men try to figure out if they've been asked a trick question. The silence gives way to a smattering of nervous laughter. Occasionally, a young guy will raise his hand and say, 'I stay out of prison.' This is typically followed by another moment of laughter, before someone finally raises his hand and soberly states, 'Nothing. I don't think about it.' Then I ask women the same question. What steps do you take on a daily basis to prevent yourselves from being sexually assaulted? Women throughout the audience immediately start raising their hands. As the men sit in stunned silence, the women recount safety precautions they take as part of their daily routine. Here are some of their answers: Hold my keys as a potential weapon. Look in the back seat of the car before getting in. Carry a cell phone. Don't go jogging at night. Lock all the windows when I sleep, even on hot summer nights. Be careful not to drink too much. Don't put my drink down and come back to it; make sure I see it being poured. Own a big dog. Carry Mace or pepper spray. Have an unlisted phone number. Have a man's voice on my answering machine. Park in well-lit areas. Don't use parking garages. Don't get on elevators with only one man, or with a group of men. Vary my route home from work. Watch what I wear. Don't use highway rest areas. Use a home alarm system. Don't wear headphones when jogging. Avoid forests or wooded areas, even in the daytime. Don't take a first-floor apartment. Go out in groups. Own a firearm. Meet men on first dates in public places. Make sure to have a car or cab fare. Don't make eye contact with men on the street. Make assertive eye contact with men on the street.”

― Jackson Katz, The Macho Paradox: Why Some Men Hurt Women and How All Men Can Help


I find it sad that we have come to this point in society, where women cannot really trust men to treat them respectfully. Where women cannot trust men to help them if they are threatened with sexual assault (when the men that could help just stand there and watch as their friends rape a woman). Where women are treated like objects for men's sexual (often violent) proclivities. Where 'no' is always taken as 'yes'. What has brought us to this point? Has hardcore porn played a role? I think it has. But of course that view is poo-pooed by so many people who want so desperately to be liberal in every way. I remember my father, whose view on men was not very promising, to say the least. He would always tell me that a lot of men were just no good and that I should watch out for myself. When I was young, I didn't want to believe that what he was saying was true. But as I got older, I understood. I have met many good men, but I have also met others who were simply the opposite--crude, rude, sexually-aggressive, violent, hate-filled, and envious. Men who think everything is a joke. Men who disrespect women by interrupting them constantly, belittling what they say, overpowering them by yelling, and so on. Men who become angry when told 'no'. Men who abuse women verbally (telling them they're stupid, for example), psychologically, and physically. The list goes on. So if Jackson Katz can teach men how to behave respectfully toward women, kudos to him. He deserves a star in my book.