What Do You Say?

I was having a discussion with a coworker the other day and we got to talking politics. We were specifically discussing some of the underlying dynamics that often lead people to believe into crazy conspiracy theories. Mostly, we talked about how people often reason based on emotion not logic.

I used an example of my little brother. Not because my brother is a crazy extremist, just the opposite. The story perfectly illustrates how even well-meaning people end up on the wrong side of things at times. So the real question is how, in an age of sensationalized media, truly fake news, and bias, do we encourage every day folks to move beyond their base feelings and examine a solution with logic? How do we get people to realize what they “know” is often based on very limited exposure to the world at large?1

Let me get to my example. My little brother grew up not really “seeing” racism. To him, it is something he knows exists but in more pronounced examples. For lack of a better description, he sees it as a very black and white issue. I tried to explain white privilege to him and found it a frustrating struggle. As a white man he has never had to experience the frustrations a person of color endures daily. Because he grew up poor and busted his tail working hard to get to a point where he feels stable, he doesn’t understand how a black person doing the same thing faces many more obstacles. I explained many of the very real world examples to him and while he sort of ‘got it’, because he lives in a rural environment where these ideas are usually avoided, it doesn’t become ‘truth’ to him.

It is hard for people who spend everyday just worried about trying to put food on their table to rise above the squabble and focus on bigger issues like politics. And when they live in an environment where biases are constantly reinforced, it’s easy to see why so many fall prey to the machinations of political hacks who want them to stay poor and ignorant. People who are poorly educated as a whole are easily manipulated by their emotions. Quite simply, their emotions are used against them.

And this is one variable of many leading society towards a calamity. So how do we overcome that? What do you say to someone to get them to truly open their mind and listen? If we could figure that out I think the world would be a better place.




  1. How many “experts” do you encounter on Facebook or twitter these days  LOL []

Supremes

I wish I was referring to the TV show. Sadly, I am not. I try not to delve into politics too much in my blog as that was never the purpose. However, things evolve and change and the issues today cut to my very survival.

With Justice Kennedy stepping down from the SCOTUS at the end of July, I truly worry for our freedoms. It’s been a sh*t show since he got in there but we had some insulation with the SCOTUS being pretty evenly divided. I knew there would be drama but I kept telling myself, ‘we’ll get thru it intact‘.  I am not so sure anymore. All Trump has to do is successfully appoint a rabidly anti-gay judge and all our hard-earned victories in the last few years are in jeopardy. The right to equality, the right to marry, and the right to exist are all up for grabs folks.

It is time to speak up. Complacency is a vote for those who want us dead. Everyone needs to reach out to their State representatives and demand they support a pro-LGBTI candidate. Elections are coming soon. Make sure they know we are watching and will be voting those who stand idly by out of office! We must exercise our voices. You can bet the fundamentalists are already rallying to get the most conservative, anti-gay choices they can on the list of possibles.

This will affect us for decades to come. We cannot let the SCOTUS turn into a bigoted hate-mongering extension of the extremists. We must demand the Senate fight and kill any anti-LGBT nominees. If you don’t know who your State senators or representatives are, feel free to click the links below.

Find your state’s Senator here

Find your state’s Representative’s here.

If we do not speak up, we not have the right to speak up soon. That is not an exaggeration. Every day we the extremists trying to cut off the voice of the people. They want them demoralized and distracted by hot-button social issues so they can continue robbing the poor and feeding the rich. If we don’t break out of our personal bubbles and get involved, we have no one to blame when they come for us again.

Bias

One of the main reasons I’ve grown to loathe Facebook most days is the growing bias. Selective bias is slowly replacing our idea of logical reasoning. Just pick practically any topic and scroll thru your own friends list. You might be surprised it is closer to home than you think.

When social media came along, I just knew it was going to be a unifying force in the world. I was so excited and hopeful. Sadly, all it has done is allow folks to selectively reinforce their own biases. More and more every day you see people who favor bias over truth, honesty, or any sense of integrity. Talk about an unexpected outcome. hehehe In the past, the rules (and manners) of social interactions helped curb outrageous ideas, conspiracies, and all round nutjobs. they were confined to the fringe where they belong. Now can reach out to others that with like ideas with just the click of a button. This has emboldened them and we see many ideas and concepts considered absolutely insane break into the national consciousness.1

I don’t blame social media so much as our own failings. Our technology has outpaced our ethical ability to keep up with it. Our social media outlets have changed the world, just not necessarily for the better IMO. Oh don’t get me wrong, they do some good. You see fundraisers, goFundMe pages, outreach, etc. Local tragedies can grab national even global attention at times. But I find myself pondering whether the good it does outshines the harm? Sadly, I am beginning to think it doesn’t. The level of vitriol and toxicity is so very disheartening. After all my attempts to ditch FB in the past, this is the one that is slowly pushing me further and further away.

I wish I could say it was mainstream stuff and not local communities. Sadly, no. Be it NextDoor, FB, twitter, etc. It is all becoming one toxic hole of spite, triggers, and/or attempts to shame each other. It gives new meaning to the idea of mob-mentality. People are tried and convicted based on click-bait articles, regardless of the lack of details. We are seeing the fallout even within our own LGBTI umbrella. We find allies fighting each other over the tiniest slights or misunderstandings. Conversations are polarizing discussions of who is right or ‘more wrong’.

There are times where I just kick myself for even bothering to try to point out distinctions. Our biases and indifference to others are forcing us into a sort of devolution of sorts. For myself, I can only control my actions. I continue to strive to bring things into my life that enrich it and avoid those that stain it. Social media is falling into the latter category more and more lately.




  1. Flat-Earthers, Anti-vaxxers, Holocust deniers, etc []

Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner!

I am completely shocked that Moore did not win in Alabama! I fully expected he would win. The bias we see in news and social media these days is sadly getting worse and worse.

While Moore’s loss renewed my hope in the decency of people, when you delve into the numbers, we clearly have a lot of work to do. People of color turned out in much higher numbers and they saved us all from this incredibly hypocritical religious nut. A profound thank you to all who exercised their right to vote. Voting matters and it matters more and more every day now. Moore lost by the tiniest margin.

Reports came in that Alabama saw much larger than usual voter turn out. Historically, this is always of benefit to the Democrats. However, I don’t care what part you vote, just perform your civil duty and vote. It was good to see many “republicans” calling out the party line approach and either not voting or voting against Moore. If more of them had spoken up I think the party in general would not have embraced Moore as they did. Party should never come before what is right or moral.

The increase of “you agree with me or else” approach is increasing the divide between us IMO. I’m a little guilty of this myself. So many things in the public eye right now affect our very way of life. Of course, we take it personal! However, when you delve past the crazies, you find that most people often vote their conscience not out of malice but out of self-preservation. We all need to be better at recognizing that and be more willing to extend an olive branch to others.

Tangent/ Some of you know our mayor here in SF passed away yesterday. Mr. Lee wasn’t a friend to me or my department. He recently back-tracked on his statements to help us. I personally felt very let down by his actions. However, even in my frustration with the man, I am saddened by his death. People who knew him well all agree he wasn’t malicious and tried to be ‘real.’  It doesn’t matter whether I agree with him politically or not. I can give my personal bias and issues a rest for a few days out of respect to allow his friends and family to mourn his death. And yet, immediately online you see people trashing him or using his death to trash SF politics in general. Even the Chronicle posted a piece on the day of his death discussing how it “complicated” politics in SF!  The day of his death!  /tangent

The fallout got me to thinking about how the divide between us is growing. Even within our own umbrella there is so much more in-fighting and vitriol toward each other. This is not how we solve problems. This is not how we overcome our mutual enemies either. Isolating ourselves in our individual groups or identities will not allow us to overcome the inequalities we all face.

So for myself, I plan to work on how I view those I disagree with. I will continue to avoid those who rely solely on deceit and lies. For the rest, I hope I can offer, thru example, the type of respect we all deserve.

Pride & Prejudice

So as usual, there is in-fighting amongst all the letters in our glorious alphabet of communities. This year seems to have taken a new twist as people are losing their sh*t over changes to the rainbow flag in PA. Apparently, some folks have decided to add extra stripes to denote the inclusion of race.

For my part, I don’t really care either way. If you want to add some stripes to represent the inclusion of race on the flag be my guest. The rainbow flag is just a symbol. It doesn’t define me or my life so modifying it doesn’t really affect me one way or the other. Symbols are meant to represent us, not define us.

On the one side, racism is just as prevalent in the gay community as it is in the straight world. What harm is there in adding reflections of race to show inclusion? Even though the flag wasn’t meant to reflect race, so what if some people want to include a variation that includes it. I’ve seen so many personal variations of the rainbow flag for years. Where is the outrage on all those variations? No one owns a symbol anymore than they own an idea. Let us all stop acting like changing a recognized symbol will end all our hard earned rights.  

On the other side, I also don’t really think it helps anything. Many of our racial tensions are tied to various socioeconomic issues. Until we work thru these, changing a symbol does absolutely nothing IMO. Actions are stronger than words. How about we stop using disrespectful terms to refer to other races? How about we stop acting like every unflattering joke or mention of race/gender is an attack? Even better, how about we stop marginalizing everyone because of the actions of a few? Instead, let us accept that others suffer differently than you. Be willing to look outside your sphere of existence to see thru another’s eyes.These actions and attitudes are much more effective at stopping hate, mistrust, and fear.

This whole pissing match is a reflection of the deeper issues within our umbrella. These ever growing trends of attacking and/or shaming anyone who disagrees, even in the slightest, are doing the work of our enemies for them. We are destroying our communities from within. Our umbrella of people rarely agree on any given topic. Why must we make enemies of each other over different view points like this? The level of vitriol and disgusting behavior I’ve seen on both sides has been deeply disturbing. This is not how we should be treating each other.We can disagree with our allies w/o labeling them as enemies. We can be patient and show understanding as we try to educate those around us who thru privilege or ignorance don’t understand a given viewpoint. Shock value and strong-arm tactics might sometimes work against our enemies but when we use them on our allies we only further the divide between us.

I’ll be the first to admit I don’t have all the answers, but I still support equality and freedom for all. That makes me an ally even though I’m a person who won’t be shouted down just because I don’t always see eye to eye with everyone else. When we silence the voices of our allies over internal squabbles, what is their motivation to speak for us when we need them? And don’t even get me started on the growing tide of small groups who decide they can’t compromise even a little. They demand to have their way or else. If you refuse, they do everything possible to obstruct or shut down the process. How is that productive? You don’t win hearts and minds that way.

While the LGBTI movement has taken some significant large steps recently, it took decades to get this far. We gained many of our rights slowly one at time. We still have more to accomplish. Many of these new found rights are under renewed attack. We need to be unified now more than ever.

Stupefy

Today is brought to you by the letter S.

stu·pe·fy

ˈst(y)o͞opəˌfī/

verb

verb: stupefy; 3rd person present: stupefies; past tense: stupefied; past participle: stupefied; gerund or present participle: stupefying

  1. make (someone) unable to think or feel properly.

And how do we avoid stupefying those around us on social media when presented with a story or “news” item we want to believe but aren’t really sure is true? Let me offer you these short rules. 

  • Read the article. Does it match the title? If not, ignore it. Otherwise,  move on to the next step. 
  • Do you trust the source? Is the source well known or legitimate?1 If not, don’t share. Otherwise, move on to the next step. 
  • Has the source been caught fabricating stories or publishing false and/or misleading edits of stories? If so, don’t share. If not, move on to the next step. 
  • Seriously, go read the article. We all know you didn’t read it. If it really passed the previous steps move on to the next step. 
  • Does the action / event / article cite sources or provide proof to back up claims, accusations, and/or accomplishments? Sourcing yet another article with no proof is not a valid source. If not, don’t share. Otherwise, move on to the next step. 
  • If you’re too busy to read it, can’t go thru all the steps, or you feel the article is too long, don’t share it. Otherwise, move on to the next step. 
  • Does the article attempt to guilt or scare you into sharing it? If so, don’t share. No, you arent helping others “just in case“. Otherwise, move to the next step.
  • Does the article attempt to incite hatred or violence against others based on bias? If so, don’t share it.

If it passes all these steps then and ONLY then should you consider sharing it. Even then, you should still ask yourself if sharing will contribute in any way to the discussion? 

Now you know. Next time you are about to share a news story on social media you know what to ask yourself to avoid stupefying others. 

😜




  1. stating how many people removed from you can contest to its authenticity is not trustworthy ie “my coworker’s cousin’s wife can attest to this and she is  [insert contrived position of authority here]” []

Basic Civics

I’ve been avoiding FB for quite some time now. I’ve finally relented and slowly eased back into it. It was quite refreshing to avoid the doom and gloom news as well as the rampant nonsense. I’m seriously gonna try to limit my presence there from now on. It just isn’t healthy. 

Being away has certainly helped me avoid being baited into ridiculous arguments with folks who often have no idea what they are ranting about. Case and point,  my buddy Rick was having a bad day and ranted about being truly hurt by any of his’friends’ who voted for Trump. The thread didn’t devolve completely but one fellow felt the need to tell us all how duped we are for thinking our votes matter. When I offered that he was part of the problem, he really went off. He never realized his rant pretty much proved my point. 

Later, my sense of fairness got the better of me and I started thinking about it. I asked around in a few different forums and was disappointed. lol  It seems a lot of people don’t understand basic civics in relation to voting. So here it is a nut-shell. I’m not going into every detail but your vote does matter. It matters a great deal; however, you also need to understand how our constitution works. Our country was formed thru a collection of states joining together to create a cohesive republic.1

Our founding fathers came up with the electoral college to even out the power of individual states to sway an election. There is some argument about also being designed to avoid letting crazy people like Trump get elected but I can’t say for sure in that regard. But the point of the electoral college is simple. Thru local votes of individuals an electorate is expected to vote for said candidate. This is done state by state based on their allotment of electoral votes. Simply put, the closer to your local government you vote, the more power your individual vote carries. On a local or state level our votes are pretty much equal. There are some exceptions in a few states but overall this is true. 

As for the presidency, our votes were never designed to be equal across state lines. While you may feel your vote might count less than someone else’s, when you look at how states actually vote for the president thru the electoral college it makes perfect sense. And while there might be an argument on whether we need a constitution amendment to shift our focus away from states rights to the individual, that is a different conversation. Your vote was never designed to be equal to everyone else’s in the country. I know, I know, you’re shocked. hehehe  If it were the design, the most populous states would constantly decide elections. Smaller, less dense states would be left out in the cold. This is how our constitutional system was setup. 

The idea that your vote doesn’t count is part of why we are in the quandry we are in now. Population explosion, indifference, and a variety of social-economic influences are pushing people away from being involved with their government at any level. If we truly want to right our ship so to speak, we need to overcome this. We need to be involved. It may not seem like it’s that important but Turmp’s win is a shining example to the contrary. 




  1. Look a real footnote! Republic, noun: a state in which supreme power is held by the people and their elected representatives, and which has an elected or nominated president rather than a monarch []

Recovery

I’ve been avoiding social media and most of the news these last few days. It’s all been so depressing and sad I just needed a chance to recover before I dove back into it all. And on queue, everyone is jockeying for the moral superiority. What a total turn off. Ugh.1

Believe it or not, some of my readers are/were Donald supporters.  I know, crazy right? I make no bones about supporting mostly democrats these days. It isn’t because I’m a hard core party line groupy, they just often make the most sense and/or are will do less damage based on the choices given. I was an ardent (and still am) Hillary supporter. She would have been good for this country, all the rhetoric notwithstanding. She had her issues that concerned me, but so does our current President. Anyway, I got a few snarky humble-brag emails from a couple of aforementioned readers. My response to them is my response to all, “careful what you wish for, because once you get it, you’re stuck with it.” In this case, we are stuck with Donald for at least 4 years. Watching the disaster that is his transition has been both hilarious and frightening. These clowns can’t even manage a transition and yet magically we expect them to manage a country, foreign affairs, the national budget. Really? 

I hope we recover from this. I’m a pretty optimistic person but I see this as sign of bad things to come. I truly hope I’m wrong. And unlike everyone trying to point fingers, I don’t blame the people who voted. I don’t blame the people who voted for Donald, Jill, or Gary. At least they got off their asses and voted. They exercised their right to help determine their future. And while it certainly played a role, I don’t blame the voter id laws or the clowns trying to intimidate voters at polling places. It is arguable that without these influences Hillary might have won. Now imagine if half of the non-voting voters had actually gone to the polls. A mere 25% of the absent voting publc would have changed everything. It would have offset all the attempts above and then some. How do I know this? Statistics don’t lie. Statistics repeatedly show lower voter turnouts benefit the republicans. Even with all the shenanigans above, Hillary still won the popular vote by over a million votes (and still counting). That means the crazy, insane voting block, which represents only 1/25 of the total, consistently swings elections because other voters stay home. Over and over again we see it play out. And we saw it again this year. Not voting for your interests is a vote against them. 

I don’t buy the bullshit argument we need to coddle straight white men. We don’t need to coddle them. We need to get more women, minorities, and LGBTI foks to the ballot box and kick their selfish asses to the curb. As a collective we outnumber the selfish white men. And here is the crux of the problem IMO. White society is slowly realizing the system no longer predominantly represents them anymore. It scares the shit out of them. Deep down they are afraid of becoming the minority and discovering what it feels like to be discriminated against. This is what drives the cognitive dissonance that allows people to look past Donald’s racist, sexist, xenophobic, etc, etc, etc behaviors. They can’t reconcile the contradiction so they block it out. This is what won the election for Donald IMO. 

I’ve said it before,2  indifference is going to destroy us. The more we abandon our cherished rights and freedoms, the faster they will be taken from us. We run to social media to whine or we run into the streets demanding “something be done“. Meanwhile, the people in power keep on doing what their doing. They know there is very little consequence so what’s to fear? 

The republicans do get credit for reading the writing on the wall. They took full advantage of the openness3 of the internet and social media. They never let up with their false attacks on opponents. Social media has become the perfect dissemination tool for “story” after story of half truths and flat out lies to confuse an increasingly poorly educated populace. Even our normal media outlets have shifted away from truth and facts to trying to garner ad-clicks. The flashier or more outrageous the headline the better. Doesn’t matter anymore if the headline matches the story. People then see these shitty stories, shared and reshared over time and develop a completely contrary view of reality based on lies and half truths. It’s only now, after it might be too late, suddenly social media is taking notice. No mention yet from traditional media. Maybe they just need to die out and be replaced. 

We’ve built the perfect democracy busting engine using a trifecta of parts; indifference, ignorance, and a media platform devoid of integrity. 




  1. I know this article is probably too long to hold the attention of most folks so I won’t bother with the ‘long rant ahead’ admonishment. I mean even the headline is devoid of anything flashy. hehehe []
  2. And again, I hate being right here []
  3. Read no regulation on what’s called news []

Vote 

​Vote

First, I’m in a foul mood today. Apologies in advance if I sound somewhat jaded. I have an awful splitting headache that keeps threatening to grow into a full-blown migraine. 

The nonsense is almost over folks. The election is tomorrow and the never-ending barrage of political updates will soon be over. We will either have the first female president or a man so corrupt with greed and selfishness, I fear for our very way of life. However, I’m optimistic anti-intellectualism hasn’t spread so far the American people would vote a vile human being like Trump into office. Time will tell, tick tock…  If I’m being honest, I think the media has done a great job giving the crazy minority so much air time it looks like Trump is way closer than he is. The bigger the landslide win for Hillary the more my faith in humanity will be restored.  

The good news is now we’ll be able to properly focus on the non-existent war on Christmas just in time for Thanksgiving. And lest you forget, black Friday is approaching very soon. I mean no one gives a sh*t about Thanksgiving, right? It’s all about the shopping. I actually remembered I have the holiday off this time so Shawn and I are most likely headed down to LA for the long weekend. We might even drag the Cooper Pooper with us. 
I shut my pie hole on politics a few weeks ago and I’m glad it’s almost over. That said, if you haven’t voted I hope you will tomorrow. If you aren’t voting, you have no right to complain about the future of this country. And spare me the hypocritical nonsense about your vote not counting. If you want to be a shitty citizen, own it, don’t pretend you’re somehow “above it all.”  

I honestly never thought I’d see the day I actually feared for our democracy. I just keep thinking of that silly line from the new Star Wars movies when Pad Mai (spelling?) decries, “so this is how democracy dies… to thundering applause.”  And what is in store for us in the next election? Will it be another round of crazy? I mean the Trump campaign has already legitimized hate, racism, misogyny, homophobia, and actual physical violence. The bar is so low now one can hope we can only go up again from here. 

Anyway, I encourage you to vote tomorrow, if you haven’t already. It is not something you should take lightly. It is your obligation as a free citizen to vote, whether you like said candidates or not. The idea that you should avoid voting due to crappy candidates is a red herring. That’s how the crazies and the extremists get into office. They depend on the indifference of the average American. There has already been talk from the Republican camp this year about trying to limit voting to land owners or those of certain income levels. Yeah, seriously. If you throw away your rights too much longer you may wake up one day and find they’ve been taken from you. 

Where ever you are in the country, go vote tomorrow so we can all move on to the next fake scandal.

Great Again

You know what I hear when people say, “…make America great again”? 

  • I hear white people who want things to go back to the way they were when they could blithely ignore the racial injustices in the world because of white privilege. They want the ability to keep pretending racism doesn’t exist because they never see it (Or want to see it).
  • I hear white men who want women to go back to being home bound and barefoot. They don’t like the idea of a strong women or that women deserve equality in the workforce.
  • I hear white people who want gays to go back to pretending they don’t exist. They don’t want to be faced with the soul-chilling idea that a religion they were institutionalized into since birth might be flawed. They pretend gay-bashing or deaths of the LGBT community are their own fault for being so ‘different.’  They don’t want to be faced with the idea that Trans people are real and just want to feel safe in society.
  • I hear white people who suddenly notice the world, society, and media no longer features them as the primary representation of America. Deep down I think they are afraid they might end up going thru what minorities or gays have gone thru for decades. 

I hate to break it to ya white people but America wasn’t always great for everyone. Many of us faced untold hardships, harm, and even death at the hands of your indifference. Even a poor white person has a leg up on many minorities and gays. And guess what? We aren’t going to go back to hiding or pretending we don’t exist. Minorities are not going back to separate but equal.

America is great. It is also horribly flawed. We aren’t perfect, we aren’t even a role model in many areas anymore. Our greed and indifference mixed with rising anti-intellectualism is slowly leading to our undoing. It’s not the ‘blacks, gays, muslims, women, etc’ that have ruined this country, it is your willful selfishness and blind indifference to the injustices faced by others not like yourself.

And if being faced with the idea that you bear indirect (and direct) shame for said actions is too much to bear, try walking in a black man’s shoes for awhile. Try to have a normal life as a minority, a gay/lesbian/Trans person. Tyr being a Muslim women in an oppressive fundamentalist country. You have no idea what makes America great because you aren’t part of that equation. If you think America needs to be great again, here’s a news flash for ya, YOU are the problem.

 

Scared? Welcome to our world.