14 things I learned from Mom

1. People are extraordinary, and fascinating.

2. Family overrides anything and everything.

3. Making a C may be average — but average gets you a two hour lecture.

4. Making a D is below average and also gets you a two hour lecture, annually.

4. Cholesterol is bad. Chopped liver is good.

5. If you want something, and somebody says no, then ask somebody else.

6. Children are blessings.

7. When a dog dies, get a puppy right away.

8. Unless there’s a deadline, clocks and time are meaningless.

9. Saying “shut up,” or “stupid,” will get your mouth washed out with soap.

10. Soap does not taste good.

11. Love is not about giving up on people, and it’s not always about being nice.

12. Men are okay, but women are smarter, work harder, and get paid less.

13. Communication is the joy of life.

14. Forgive always. That’s different from forgetting.

a couple of flakes amid the avalanche

Trump’s first week has been an avalanche. It’s too much to process.

That’s not an accident.

This is just a smattering of thoughts I encountered while bopping around in my car today. These are a few things that should give everybody pause — democrats, republicans, others, and those in between.

– The Trump organization plans to double the number of hotels in the United States over the next four to eight years.

– On January 1, 2017, Mar a Lago raised the price of their memberships from $100,000 to $200,000.

Thought: The president will be using his office to make money for himself. This whole thing has been an advertisement, at our expense.

– In recent months or years (it was on the radio and not specified), more people have been crossing the border into Mexico than into the United States from Mexico.

– The majority of illegal immigrants in the United States are not Mexican and came to this country on a jet plane, landing in an airport.

– Some estimate that the wall will cost $20 billion. That would pay in-state college tuition for $20 million students.

Thought: Mexicans, and Muslims, are being criminalized and scapegoated. He’s a fascist would-be dictator.

How and why to see La La Land

Talk about a spoiler.

We pre-purchased tickets for a 10pm screening of La La Land. It played at the Regal Park Terrace, in Charlotte — the only theatre in the area showing this film, as of tonight (it opens at others tomorrow).

We already have our Christmas Day movie picked out. We’ll be seeing Fences. So tonight was the night for La La Land.

That’s a one hour drive. I thought we were running late and I sped. We got there at 9:55.

All three of us — my wife, daughter, and myself — used the facilities.

We entered the theatre at 10:03. The theatre was packed and we had to sit very close.

The movie had started. No previews. That’s odd — but I thought that might be something they do with movies at that hour. Who knows?

I hate to miss the beginning of a movie — and I love previews — but it seemed like we had only missed a minute or two, maybe even just a few seconds. That is, it seemed like the beginning of a movie.

Ten minutes later, the movie ended and the audience got up to leave.

My first thought was that I had read the times wrong. Then my daughter said, “We’re in the wrong theatre.”

We rushed into the next room and sat down in time to see the ending of a preview and the entire movie — including the ending, again.

Ordinarily, I would not recommend watching the ending first.

That said, it’s a beautiful movie, start to finish — so seeing a bit of it twice is really a bit of a bonus.

Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling are classic big screen stars. Los Angeles glitters. The music is quite beautiful, and in one sequence, Gosling’s character explains why.

Although this movie was made well before anybody thought we would have such a catastrophic election result, I’d say there’s nothing better for a Trump infested country than movies like this. Good, big, bittersweet musicals with plenty of singing, dancing, and bigger than life beautiful stars who fall in love and overcome all their obstacles.

Keep ‘em coming, Hollywood. We’ll need more of these.

Have a Rodgers and Hammerstein Thanksgiving

It’s Thanksgiving and I’m grateful for many things.

One thing I’m grateful for is that I have a big, loving family — and they are all liberal Democrats.

We have our moments, but there won’t be any heated arguments with Uncle Joe who voted for Trump.

Last Thanksgiving, we had some disagreement about Bernie and Hillary.

But this year, before the conversation even begins, I’m confident that we will all generally agree that the president-elect is a scary, albeit entertaining, celebrity who is surrounded by seedy racist characters and destined to do a lot of damage to our great country.

That said, let’s have a happy Thanksgiving.

If you have opposing political factions at your table, consider that there are more important things in life than politics.

And — perhaps take some comfort in these favorite Rodgers and Hammerstein show tunes:



 

Earn a degree in discrimination

trumpu

Need something to do after the election?

Earn Your Associates Degree in Discrimination Science at  the new Trump University.

Registration for Spring Semester opens at 8pm, November 8, 2016.
Classes begin January 20, 2017.

Degree Requirements: This two-year, non-accredited program requires the completion of all 24 courses. Tuition for entire program must be pre-paid. No refunds.

Hate Studies
HS 101 Introduction to White Supremacy
HS 112 Introduction to Misogyny
HS 113 Mexicans
HS 115 Blacks, Muslims, and Jews
HS 212 Practicum in Disrespect, Trolling, and Flaming (8 hrs, includes lab)
HS 235 Advanced Xenophobia
HS 245 LGBT Attacking
HS 379 The History of Stereoptyping
HS 436 Advanced Seminar on Superiority – Racial and Religious

Destruction Science
DS 101 Making Stuff Up
DS 112 Introduction to Insults
DS 115 Name Calling
DS 245 Gaslighting Techniques
DS 345 Advanced Blame
DS 356 Practicum in Lying
DS 365 Attention, Domination, and Division
DS 425 Advanced Seminar on Conspiracy Theories

Harassment Arts
HA 101 Introduction to Sexual Harassment
HA 111 Clowning
HA 111 Locker Room Lingo
HA 212 Body Shaming and Rating Systems
HA 231 Humiliation Studies: Walls, Banning, Stop-and-Frisk, and Extreme Vetting
HA 335 Slurs: Mexicans, Muslims, Asians, and Blacks (including children)
HA 355 Maleness: Snorting, Tic Tacs, and Pussy Grabbing
HA 360 Advanced Interrupting
HA 441 Seminar on Groping and Rape

Honors Program
Highly qualified students are invited to apply for admission to the honors program. Participants must be white, male, and over 50 years of age. Completion requires a technology and writing component.

1) Technology component: Student must sit at a computer and successfully go online and locate the website www.breitbart.com.
2) Writing component: Student must write a complete sentence about building a wall. The sentence must begin with a capital letter, end with a period, and include a subject and verb. There can be no more than three punctuation errors.

Faculty

Alex Jones Ann Coulter David Duke Stephen Bannon
alex_jones_crop ann-coulter dt-common-streams-streamserver bannon

McCrory and Trump — obsession with genitalia

mccrorytrump-1Republicans seem to be obsessed with human genitalia.

McCrory is proud of protecting girls from transgender predators in the bathroom.

He calls them transgenders, but he’s really talking about men who dress like women in order to attack girls in the ladies room — a group of people that seems to exist only in his vivid imagination.

Trump is proud of his accomplishments as a sexual predator. He’s interested in grabbing women in their private parts, etc.

They pretty much attract the same group. The same voters!

I’m a hypocrite too. We all are. I assert that that is part of the human condition.

But there’s gotta be a great joke in there somewhere.  I just can’t think of it.

Biased toward sentences, paragraphs, coherency, and punctuation

Earlier today, I saw a Facebook post reprinting an article in the Salisbury Post lamenting the decline of unbiased reporting in that thing we cherish that has been so widely and weirdly demonized of late, “the mainstream media.”

I attacked the piece’s sorry punctuation. In my view, if you’re going to attack the entire landscape of American newspapers, in a newspaper, then take a bit of care with the English language.

That, of course, was an invitation. I was called “twisted and biased,” and other things. I was scorned because my comment did not garner any “likes.” I was told that I was rude and to get that trash off of Facebook. One comment said, to me, “Most people are working to support the 47% that depend on the [sic] goverment to even think about punctuation just saying that’s a totally stupid statement to bring into the discussion.It’s facebook by the way if you have not figured that out.”

All valid.

That was rude, so I did remove it from Facebook.

But I felt a need, given Trump’s constant attacks against the horrors of the media he so worships, to defend newspapers, journalism, and mainstream media.

The guy running for president has little regard for the words of our third president, Thomas Jefferson, who said: “Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.”qtq80-jehSAA

Here’s my defense, previously posted deep in the bowels of Facebook and now posted here.

I am biased. Absolutely. I would assert that almost everybody is, and that it takes some effort to generate objectivity in today’s politically charged climate.

There is a tradition of objective reporting in journalism. We don’t see as much of that as we used to. There’s a lot of noisy stuff out there. But it still exists, and many newspapers and reporters in other media are committed to that good ol’ fashioned objective news reporting.

The author of the column in question makes the case that mainstream news outlets are all biased liberals, but it’s carefully concealed and most of us are too stupid to see that. They do it consistently. Intentionally. Maliciously. The examples he cites are ludicrous.

Yet, given the depths of his hate for anything Clinton, I can understand how it would look that way.

This is an invitation to look from a different place.

Consider that this is an extremely unusual election.

In 2012, according to the American Presidency Project, 41 major American Newspapers endorsed Obama. Romney earned the endorsement of 35 newspapers.  23 did not endorse.

This year, 2016, so far, 17 major American newspapers have endorsed Clinton. Zero have endorsed Trump. 3 have endorsed Gary Johnson. One (USA Today) has endorsed ‘Not Trump.” One did not endorse.

In years prior to 2012, it swung back and forth.

According to these numbers, one can speculate that one of two things is happening. 1) Either the media has swung sharply to the left in the past four years, or 2) the editorial staffs almost unanimously think that Clinton is more qualified to be president than Trump. With all the emotion around this election season, the endorsements are costing some publications precious subscribers.

Consider that newspapers are also biased toward accuracy and coherent writing. A sentence is an expression of a thought. A paragraph is an expression of an idea. Certain people develop skills in building thoughts and ideas into coherent narratives that are fit for public consumption. We call these people journalists, editors, writers, and other things. They sometimes find employment at newspapers. The ones who do, spend their days gathering and reporting news.  Many of them are highly trained and take their objectivity very seriously.

They do have a bias. They are biased toward communicating.

If we don’t agree with them, we accuse them of bias. Some of them are biased. Many of them are professionals who seek to report news in an objective fashion, leaving their bias aside. They also happen to be human beings and sometimes make mistakes. They generally accept disagreement, abuse, and accusations.  That’s part of the job.

Some publications, of course, have a stated political bias. They usually own up to that and are proud of it.

Sometimes the truth itself is biased because it supports one side over the other. For example, when the New York Times reported the 9/11 attack, Osama bin Laden smiled. He considered it a victory.  America wept. Of course the New York Times was not biased toward Osama bin Laden.

Even though it occurs to many as a Clinton bias, the nation’s newspapers are biased toward what they see as the truth:  that Trump is unfit.

Not a single living president or major American newspaper has endorsed Trump. I’ve heard people demonize them all. Fine — but that begins to strike at the heart of our democracy. It would have more power to present a compelling argument.

The author of the column in question suggests that all major American newspapers are only pretending to be objective. He says they are, in reality, biased. In other words, they are unscrupulous. All of them? This is absurd. This also begins to undermine the basic fabric of our democracy.

It’s perfectly legitimate to point out bias.  My point, however, is that if one wants to argue against a publication’s sneaky bias, then it has little credibility if it’s not done in the same language as the publication in question. It would make no sense to write a rebuttal in Chinese to an article written in English. That’s why it occurs to me as ridiculous when I see a rambling string of words that’s not grounded in the basic rules of common English usage attack the most coherent thinking and writing that’s being published in the top newspapers in the country.

North Carolina. Is this a surprise?

It’s not just the police.

While people in Charlotte protest (and riot), in response to the police murder of Keith Lamont Scott, consider that things don’t happen in a vacuum.

People in North Carolina have been treated in a callous, hostile manner for years.

If this incident had not precipitated a reaction, something else would have. A context was present. The seeds were sewn.

Here are a sampling of the things that have happened since Governor McCory took office and signed off on the Republican agenda the General Assembly had waiting for him:hb2-protest

  • They enacted a voter restriction law that, according to a U.S. appeals court, targeted African Americans “with almost surgical precision.”
  • They denied Medicaid expansion, as provided under the ACA, offering health care for low income people.
  • Immediately upon McCrory taking office, they abruptly eliminated unemployment benefits for 70,000 residents in a distressed economy.
  • They declared war on public and higher education, including steps that cut teachers’ pay, cut teachers’ assistants, and cut teachers’ job security.
  • They passed laws that legalize discrimination — not only for transgenders in the bathroom — but for all minorities in the workplace. This lost the state hundreds of millions of dollars. It caused tech companies to look elsewhere. The hospitality industry has been struck down. Artists have canceled events.  And it also lost one of our state’s most precious assets — NBA, ACC, and NCAA basketball games!

The governor and legislature did this. How have the people reacted to HB2? By arguing. McCrory has been the Governor of Wedge Issues. One after another. The Democrats say we need to repeal HB2 and get our state back. According to my social media feed, many Republicans say things that poo poo the artists, companies, and athletic organizations. They say things like “Good!” and “Leave!”

And now the people are in the streets.

Is this a surprise?

Quick work!

Incredible performance by J. R. Jones (Freedom Lawn Care), an extraordinary landscaper who helped us yesterday morning with a tree emergency.

This tree pummeled our neighbor’s yard and they had a lawn party scheduled for that afternoon. Our house was built in 1940, and from looking at the rings on the tree’s trunk, I’m guessing the tree was about the same age.

The winds came on Friday evening, about 8pm. It was a short burst of heavy wind, without lightening or thunder. The rain came a few minutes later, and there was very little of it. After a few minutes, all was calm, and this tree blocked our driveway and filled our neighbor’s yard.

I called J.R. that night. By the time I had gotten out of bed and made coffee on Saturday morning, he was cutting up the tree — which he rolled to the street by himself. By 1 or 2 o’clock, he was finished. J.R. is a worker!

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McCrory really does want dialogue (not)

McCrory on Meet the Press

McCrory on Meet the Press

The North Carolina Governor plainly told the nation, on ‘Meet the Press,’ that we need more dialogue.

“And let’s have this dialogue and I welcome that dialogue,” he said.

In another interview, he says, “What we need is dialogue, instead of threats. […] I see at the national level with presidential politics, I see even with this issue with the threats and the letters and the boycotts—I don’t see conversation. I don’t even see people reading things before they threaten to boycott. Why don’t we have a conversation?”

I wonder if he really means that — or what he means by that.

Skye Thomson, a transgender boy, says The Governor declined to have dialogue with him. This young man is still offering that opportunity to The Governor of North Carolina.

Open Letter from Trans 9th Grader to NC Gov. Pat McCrorySkye_Thomson.0

I’m thinking that dialogue, in McCrory’s world — the world of politics and getting re-elected — means that he hopes people will spend from now until the election talking about how right he is for being in favor of having separate bathrooms for men and women. It’s hard to disagree with that. What a dialogue!

And something else of high interest to our Governor:  What must it be like to be in the bathroom with a transgender person? A person whose genitalia does not match his or her appearance? The governor is quite interested in that — and he hopes all of us will be too.

These are fascinating dialogues.

A dialogue like that takes the attention off things like declining public education, declining higher education, unpopular and ineffective building of toll roads, inadequate minimum wage, loss of human rights, and the huge economic and cultural damage caused by legislation he has signed into law.

Not to mention the fact that North Carolina taxpayers are spending billions to provide health insurance to low income residence of other states, while half a million low income residents of McCrory’s state are denied health insurance, because he and the legislature have denied Medicaid expansion here. To heck with morality or dignity or humanity in matters of health, life, and death. Better to be right about that pesky Obamacare than allow care for the poor in his own state.

He also caused much pain to those who were already suffering when he cut unemployment benefits in 2013, at a time when North Carolina had an unemployment rate over 8% and workers here were pretty desperate.

We’re not talking about bad stuff that happened under his watch. Good and bad has happened under his watch. The governor is not all-powerful. He did not cause jobs to be lost.

But these things — real damage to public schools, state universities, state workers, economic development, providing health and well being for people, and cultural losses — these were not unintended consequences. These things are the result of a clear intention. These things happened because he caused them to happen as a direct result of legislation he signed.

Much has been written about the Governor’s hypocrisy (see The epic hypocrisy of Gov. PatMcCrory).  I’m saying that McCrory is telling the truth. He does want dialogue. He wants lots of dialogue, between now and the election.

And he wants that dialogue to be about bathrooms and human sexuality (fun stuff that anybody can talk about). And, although he won’t directly start it (he’s no Donald Trump), if he can frame the conversation such that a little hate speech for sexual minorities becomes the dialogue-du-jour between now and the election, he’ll welcome that kind of dialogue too.

It’s an excellent distraction from real issues that impact the lives of real people in the Tar Heel State.

It’s smart politics. It’s not a very noble way to govern a state that’s been pretty good to him.