Friday, December 30, 2016

No Filming on House Floor

So House Republican leadership is going to forbid candid photos and films from the House floor.  Since Democrats protested, the Republicans have slapped on a fine.

I find this distressing.

I don’t know if a court would hold this unconstitutional or not.  They often refuse to rule on “political issues,” like internal government of another branch of government.

There are some legitimate reasons not to want candid photos.  There are embarrassing shots of wardrobe malfunctions, for instance, that are not kind to post, but which might be posted, merely to cause embarrassment.

Also, there is a place for off the record negotiations, though I think that this is likely best done in a Representative’s private office.  It is difficult to have effective negotiations, where you think on your feet, if you think everything will be recorded.  It is distressing how a person changing their mind [singular they] is so commonly regarded as “flip-flopping,” when, in fact, changing one’s mind is often a sign of a healthy open mind and willingness to listen. 

Some people react negatively to others thinking flexibly on their feet and making hypothetical arguments as they consider options and opinions.  I think those who react negatively in this way are survivors of dysfunctional families where questioning and speaking other than to say “Yes, Sir” were punished.  Those people tend to inflict their fear of expression on others, unfortunately.

I can see where politicians want to be able to think and talk without their preliminary remarks being publicized, until they reach a firm conclusion.

However, I am distressed that Republicans respond to protest by adding fines.  This is reflective of just the sort of free speech rejecting attitude that has distressed me coming from DT.  Free speech needs to flourish.  Protest needs to flourish.  That’s part of our democracy.  This type of chilling attitude is reflective of totalitarianism.

However, given that we now have extremely wealth people being placed in high office, I find the need to for candid recording to have a new urgency.  The possibility of corruption is much higher with this degree of money flying around.  If a Representative sees a crime in progress on the floor of the House, he or she needs to be able to document it.  If a Representative sees bullying, that also needs to be documented.

This fear of information is a hallmark of totalitarianism — just what Democrats most fear from Republicans.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Comments on spurious ethics allegations against Clinton

Hillary ethics list

I haven’t found a complete response to this and I’m not able to check everything, but I do have thoughts about it.

It's harder for very ethical people, like Hillary, to respond to spurious allegations of corruption, because she doesn't understand them.  They seem beneath contempt to her.  Unfortunately, because they seemed beneath contempt, she did not respond adequately. 

Republicans have shown incredible willingness to believe unsubstantiated gossip on fake news websites, thinking them all the more believable the more they are repeated. People see corruption more when they are corrupt themselves. 

My belief is that: every time DT opened his mouth to accuse her of something, it was something he was guilty of himself -- total projection. 

Hillary is a person who has devoted her entire life to helping others.  She is not corrupt -- even though people who themselves are prone to deceit and corruption manage to distort everything she does to make it look corrupt. 

The idea that she is responsible for her husband's sexual behavior because she believed and trusted him is ludicrous.  The idea that she was responsible for Vince Foster's death is ludicrous.  If she took some things from the White House, erroneously believing that she was entitled to them, she returned them. 

The idea that she, as a secretary of state, would notice a “(c)” at the bottom of an e-mail is also ludicrous. When you’re sending e-mails to a busy top executive, you put an executive summary on the top and you mark the e-mail classified at the top.  You don’t expect a busy executive to read through to the bottom

If you think there’s an imminent attack on an embassy, you write that at the top.  You don’t expect a secretary of state to read pages and pages of reports and draw a conclusion from that that an attack is imminent.

People who are themselves not very intelligent also never understand that very intelligent people are often absent-minded and miss things.  This idea that intelligent people would never make mistakes or never miss things is dysfunctional.  This kind of perfectionism, when inflicted on children, makes them grow up to be unable to do anything, because they are so paralyzed with fear.

The way I see DT is pure corruption and flimflam.  Studies of his statements during the campaign showed them to be 4% true.

I believe urban people, being more sophisticated, see DT for what he is, while rural people are more vulnerable to unsubstantiated gossip.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Fantasy theses a la Martin Luther

I’m fantasizing that I’m the recognized leader of a movement for the blue states to secede from the union due to what’s going on with the latest Presidential election.  In this fantasy a number of states have already voted to secede.  We have composed a bullet list of demands that the Republicans would have to agree to in order for the blue states not to secede.  I am composing what I think this list should say.

1. The President, Vice President, Cabinet secretaries and under-secretaries must reveal their tax returns and put their assets in blind trust in order to serve
2. There must be no federal legislation restricting freedom of the press
3. No highly placed official, e.g. anyone on the list in point 1, shall be allowed to institute a personal or public lawsuit against any individual for criticizing the government or government officials, either in their public or private capacity.  Any such existing lawsuits must be dropped.
4. Plurality take all elections must be eliminated and replaced either with a runoff system, as they have in France, or a ranked voting system, such as they have recently adopted in Maine.
5. The electoral college must be eliminated and the president must be elected by direct election.
6. No scientist may be penalized for having pursued a course of research, merely because the Republicans don’t like the research results.
7. The second amendment must be changed to clarify that states can have gun control laws
8. The EPA must not be eliminated; and most especially lead must not be allowed in gasoline.
9. Social Security shall not be changed to a voucher system
10. Medicare benefits shall not be cut
11. Any Obama federal court nominees who have been pending for 6 months and not voted on shall be considered approved.
12. Some variant of Obamacare must be preserved, so that general access to health insurance is also preserved — which is not to say there couldn’t be some changes, but not wholesale evisceration
13. Pennsylvania and Michigan must be recounted.  Broken seals on voting machines must be thoroughly explained.

I’m still working on this list

Monday, December 19, 2016

Analysis of Trump

A friend of mine wrote this, but didn't want to post it publicly for fear of later personal and personal repercussions. He authorized me to copy it and post it unattributed.

It's not a hyperbole when people say the idea of American democracy is in jeopardy, but even a quick look into our history will show that we've never actually been a democracy and it's always been something we've been working towards.

Voter suppression, Russian hacking, one-sided document leaks, fake news, disproportionate representation, gerrymandered districts, obstructionism, and now this unconscionable bullshit that's happening in North Carolina -- these things are all an outrage, but this country has never actually been an ideal, shining democracy.

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was only signed 51 years ago, and  voting rights at that time were violently resisted by state governments. The presidential primary system that we know today, where people vote for the candidate of each party, only began forming in 1972 and it's still not complete; before that, candidates were chosen in smoke-filled rooms that probably saw much shadier shit than we saw in the DNC email leak.

A lot of us were hoping for the best on election day and we got very much the worst, but we can't pretend that our electoral process is all of a sudden some messed-up thing we have to fix. It's arguably just as bad now as it's ever been.

This being said, if you are not outraged right now, I'm willing to say you don't care about democracy. The candidate who received almost 3 million more votes is not the president; the party that received more overall votes for congress does not control congress; and the party that will now control the government has made it clear that they're going to push for the most hard-line version of their agenda despite much of it being deeply unpopular even among their own moderate constituents. This is an outrage. We do not live in a democracy and anyone who tries to convince you that we do is lying to you.

If Trump has his way, the next four years will be ruled by a small minority of extremely rich, old, white men (and a couple of wives of extremely rich, old, white men) with demonstrably close personal financial ties to the very things they will be given executive authority over. This does not bode well for our country but it's ultimately not too different from the way things have been since the founding of our nation.

Those of us who believe in a free, democratic society will need to be vigilant these next few months. It is a mess and it's an ugly one.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Why Trump Won't Hold a Press Conference

Quoted from FB

"Wondering why Trump won't hold a press conference? In the last two days alone, Newsweek published a damning article about Trump's conflicts, Democrats demanded that DeVos pay $5.3 million in fines for her PAC, the GSA has said Trump must sell DC hotel or be in breech of contract, Michael Flynn deleted fake news tweets about Clinton, Tillerson's Russian Order of Friendship Award was edited out of his Wikipedia entry, and 54 electors have signed a letter demanding an intelligence briefing before they vote, and Preibus has threatened to alter press access to the White House. I wouldn't want to answer press questions either."

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Response to an encounter

She was speaking at a Friends' Meeting. I didn't at first register that she was a POC, because she was fairly light skinned. She almost could have passed, but then she said she was a POC, so I knew.

She was raising money for a trip she was taking, so I gave her $20, but then we started talking. I was still reeling from the election. I wrongly assumed that she would agree with my support for Hillary, but she didn't. She didn't like liberal, white women. She thought a more open racist, like Trump might actually be easier to deal with than a sneaky racist, which she perceived liberal white women to be.

She started talking about having some Native American as well as black ancestry. She started angrily saying that we live on stolen land and should give it back. Everything I said seemed to annoy her. Eventually, she called me arrogant.

Then I said maybe she should give back the $20. She did, with an obscenity.

I didn't say more, but afterwards I had many thoughts of things I might tell her. I figured I would write them down.

First, I thought of prominent people with Native American ancestry, Elizabeth Warren and Michael Jackson. Then I thought that God is gradually giving the country back to Native Americans, one child at a time.

Second, I wondered whether this individual truly wanted to live in a Stone Age lifestyle the way the Native Peoples did prior to European invasion. My guess is no, that she wants the infrastructure and technology we have now without the white people, which doesn't necessarily seem all that equitable.

Third, I thought about how I'd love to find a cute, well behaved Native American guy and share my home with him.

And then I thought about how her face looked more white than black or red, and how odd it is that we think of people like her as not being white; or think of President Obama as black, when he's half white. Why shouldn't he be regarded as as much of a white man as a black man?

Also, some Native American tribe recently amnestied us, at least as immigrants.

And then I thought of my father. He came to this country as a penniless immigrant and died upper middle class. He was white. I recognize that he had advantages because he was white, but, his story demonstrates that the reason that so many Native Americans live in poverty is not that white people took their property in the 19th century, but other factors.

Another thing I thought about was statute of limitations, a concept that limits recovery for damage to a certain period of time after the alleged wrong. But the statute can be tolled in some cases where the complainant has been under coercion and disabled from litigating.

Still, it certainly is true that the land was stolen from Native Americans and white people are all immigrants. And, no, I'm not donating all of my property to Native American causes.  There isn't really any moral justification.  That's just how it is.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Call the Department of Justice Today #auditthevote

This is a copy of a post I received on FB

**note please copy+paste, don't share, copy/paste is more effective!
Thank you Karen Kohlhaas URGENT: Everyone, I just got this updated info. Call the Department of Justice about auditing PA, WI, MI, NC, and FL. They are tallying the calls they receive, and the calls must be done by 11/23. Here's the info. Pleas pass it on. I just did this. Took 1 min. to leave a message. Worth a try folks.
The Department of Justice is tallying phone calls regarding those who want the 2016 Vote Audited. A shift of just 55,000 Trump votes to Hillary in PA, MI & WI is all that is Needed to Win.
They are starting to recognize there really is something off about the election results as they come in. Considering everything that is at stake, a vote audit should be done.
Call the DOJ at 202-514-2000 and wait for options then choose 4 for Comment Line. Tell them you want the votes AUDITED! Even if it's busy, keep calling. It takes a few times to get through because of all the calls being made.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Afterthoughts about the election

It's easy to focus on negative aspects of Trump:

  • Misogynist 
  • Allegations of sexual assault and rape
  • Philanderer
  • Bully
  • Xenophobic
  • Ignorant of issues
  • Willing to provoke Mexico by putting up a wall
  • Bully
  • Calling people with problems losers
  • Behaviors that would have gotten him expelled from kindergarten
  • Racist supporters, giving impression of being racist himself
  • Violent supporters 
  • Inciting violence
  • Absurd insistence that Hillary was the most corrupt candidate we've ever had, when he was more corrupt. Focusing on minor errors and appearance of impropriety, when there seemed to be none
  • Wanting to persecute Hillary when she had spent most of her life in selfless public service
  • Accusing Hillary of being negative, when he was more negative
  • Not paying contractors
  • Seeking to undermine freedom of the press

These were the reasons I supported Hillary.

But we shouldn't assume that everyone who voted for him endorses all this long list of bad characteristics. There were actually some issues:

  • Obamacare helped many people get insurance, but it doubled costs for the self employed ) like me) and small business owners. I personally lost my preferred health insurance, because the NYSBA was decertified as a group and could no longer provide insurance to its members
  • Low interest rates helped the economy recovery and brought cheap mortgages, but for retired people living on fixed income securities they were a financial disaster
  • Trump spoke out against war, while Hillary seemed to be a hawk
  • Gun control, which is a very different issue in rural communities with no police than it is in urban communities
  • Abortion: I personally am pro  choice, but many people believe abortion is murder and this is important to them

People who cared about these issues may well have been holding their noses when voting for him.

I personally originally supported Bernie Sanders, because of these three issues

  • Medicare for all
  • Addiction is a disease, not a crime
  • Voted against the second war on Iraq

Hillary seemed less strong to me on these issues

Curiously, on drug legalization, it appears that red states area as progressive or more progressive than blue states

Of course there were also allegations of sexual assault and rape and philandering against Bill Clinton. I don't know if he did those things or not, but at least he apparently knows those things are wrong and tries to hide them, rather than boasting of them.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Haiti and the Clinton Foundation

This alleged scandal irks me.

First, a private foundation, like the Clinton Foundation, is not required to take competitive bids, unlike the government. They can hire their friends.

Second, this deforestation issue in Haiti has been in the news for decades.  It has presented a grave problem for Haiti from both environmental and economic perspectives.  The mountainsides were eroding.  Large portions of Haiti's land were not being productive in producing food, despite food scarcities in the country.

And no one was fixing the problem.

The Clinton Foundation did something.  Perhaps it was suboptimal, but at least they did something, which was more than other people were doing.

Also, the fact that Bill learned about a possible solution to a longstanding problem during a paid speaking engagement does not mean that he is corrupt.  He saw a possibility of synchronicity and he acted on it.  This is a good thing. 

By contrast, Trump was using his foundation as a personal slush fund.


I just found this, which I actually am having trouble understanding, but is relevant


Intriguing article about the Clinton Foundation.

So I still think the Foundation does good work.  If Bill makes money at the same time, does that negate the good work?  Do means justify the end?  He's accomplishing things that others don't accomplish. 

Sunday, September 25, 2016

thoughts about being a background performer

I decided to become an actress after a lot of inner child work, after deciding that I *was* an actress, had always been an actress, and needed to work at doing what God made me to be, rather than trying to be what my father wanted me to be.  Here's a related blog

Some people think this is because I must always have had an acting dream -- no, though I always did make up stories and act them out alone in my home -- a hobby I was very embarrassed about.  Some people think that this career change is because I'm in love with acting -- no, not exactly.  It's who I am.  This is me.  I'm doing it because it is me.

But getting to the point where one actually can make a living as a performer is not easy.  Most acting jobs pay poorly.  If you're non-union, they're about $100/day -- and they don't pay you for the time you spend learning your lines.  You have to do that on your own time.

Getting roles with lines is not so easy, either.  It's easier to get background gigs.  They also pay you about $100/day for non-union background, but you don't get lines, typically don't get IMDB credit, may not even get your face on the screen.  You might be a sleeve, or a blur of color at the edge of the screen.  One time the deal was that non-union got IMDB credit, but didn't get paid, while union people got paid. You're not allowed to tell anyone that you've been on that movie or TV show, at least not until after it's out.  You can't mention the gig on social media.  On a lot of sets there aren't enough bathrooms or enough lunch (which is normally provided).  

You have to bring your own clothes also.  They want you to bring lots of choices.  They don't want to have to pay for wardrobe for you.  Often you have to sit in a folding chair in a very crowded room, without enough space around you for all the luggage they had you bring, with the changes of clothes.  I was on one set where there weren't even enough chairs, but they wouldn't let us sit on the floor either.

I've also been subjected to frightening air quality issues: spray on makeup -- which means you're inhaling pigment; plastic snow, which fractured and became airborne after 3 hours of dumping the stuff, so that I was covered with fine plastic dust, which I'm sure was in my lungs as well; closed windows and no ventilation so that we were all falling asleep from excess carbon dioxide.  And you can't complain.  There are too many people who want those jobs. 

One time I saw an ad that kept repeating for a background performer to bring a Mini Cooper.  Like why don't they rent the mini cooper?  It's cheaper to get a background performer, desperate for work, to bring one in.  It sounded like they weren't finding one that way, tho.

When you're a background performer, sometimes you're on set with someone famous.  You're not supposed to talk to them.  You're especially not supposed to ask for an autograph or a selfie.  

It's pretty jealousy inducing.  You might be in a crowd of hundreds of background performers, many of whom have degrees in theater, and there's only one star, who might be making as much money as all the background performers put together, and certainly is getting more attention.

But, then, I thought about what I'm trying to get out of this.  I'm trying to be the true me, not the me that my father might have envisioned. 

Part of the true me has been a longstanding resistance to things like makeup, jewelry, hair dye.  I don't like this idea that women's natural appearance is defective, that the solution for this problem is purchasing items from a merchant to cover the woman's natural appearance. 

I realized that when I'm on camera, even as a background performer, my undyed hair might be visible; my face with no makeup (or as little as the makeup artists feel comfortable putting on) might be visible; my hands with no rings, etc.  

Even though my brief appearance doesn't seem significant, it might influence someone.  Someone might say to herself "Look.  That woman isn't wearing makeup and doesn't have her hair dyed -- and she's in a movie. Maybe I don't have to do those things either. Maybe it's OK to just be the way God made me.  Maybe I don't have to pay some company money I don't really have to sell me so called 'beauty products'." And, if I'm background in a lot of different shows, I might influence more people.

That made me feel better.  Maybe -- even if I'm feeling insignificant, underpaid, and under-appreciated -- I'm still accomplishing something.

[mystery.  Why is the end of this blog in white type, while the rest is black? I didn't change anything]

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Watching Hillary be Strafed

There was that famous incident where Hillary claimed to have been strafed in Eastern Europe and there were videos showing that she was not strafed.  Hillary’s haters cite that as evidence that she is a liar.

I see it more as a metaphor for her world view.  She feels strafed.  She wears a facial expression that makes it look as if she is being strafed.  She speaks in a tone of voice of someone who is constantly being strafed. 

In fact, she is constantly being strafed — constantly being attacked over incidents that are not worthy of attack.

She recently famously told this story about being harassed during the LSAT.  Some critics claimed that the graduate deferment was ended that year, so that these alleged events made no sense.  They concluded that she was lying. 

Of course, we can’t go back to that LSAT and see what really happened.  It was before the days of ubiquitous video surveillance.  Unless, a guilty party should have a twinge of conscience and confess, we’re not likely ever to really know.  Was she harassed?  Were the offensive parties not aware of the end of graduate deferments? Did she perhaps take her LSATs a year earlier than the critics are suggesting?  Were the offensive parties perhaps hoping that the graduate deferment would be reinstated so that they believed what they were saying, even tho it turned out to be moot?  Does she really remember false events, because her perception of being constantly strafed manufactures these memories?  Or is she really lying?

Lying implies that she knows that what she is saying is false. Many people believe and say false things for many reasons.  This doesn’t mean that they are lying.  That’s my impression of Hillary.

I find the alleged scandals surrounding her to be horrifying in the inappropriateness of the accusations.

I do not find her reckless in her use of confidential information in e-mails.  A few e-mails that were inappropriately marked may have been forwarded inappropriately, but it is not at all clear that she noticed, or should have noticed that they were classified.  Moreover, to me, reckless is if you take a file and put open on a bar and then go dancing, leaving it open for anyone to read.  If you have a file in a password protected server, and it gets hacked, that’s not reckless.  Even if it had been in the government servers it still might have been hacked.  There is a huge difference between a mistake or carelessness and recklessness.

I do not find her irresponsible for what happened in Benghazi.  She asked for more funding for security.  Republicans are diverting attention from their own refusal to provide more funds for security by accusing her.

Moreover, these things happen.  The good news is that most people in the world respect diplomacy and most embassies and diplomatic personnel are not attacked.  I suspect more foreign diplomatic personnel have been killed in the USA, due to crime, than have been killed in Libya.  Still, sometimes diplomatic personnel are attacked.  People who take these posts know that that can be a risk, especially in a place like Libya.  The sister of one of the men killed has pointed out that her husband knew that he was at risk and chose to stay. Chris Stevens Sister on Benghazi

Pillorying Hillary over this detracts from the heroism of State Department personnel who go into these types of environments. They are heroes. 

Then comes the Clinton Foundation.  Kos about the Clinton Foundation  Charity Watch rating of the Clinton Foundation

This marvelous charity supplies half the AIDS medications that are distributed in the world. They have literally saved the lives of millions of people.  Countries donate to it because it provides services that they may have difficulty providing themselves. 

You don’t want Hillary to meet with donors?  Maybe you want all those people in the 3rd world to die of AIDS instead?

Still, this is where I get into what inspired me to write this blog in the first place.  I was having one of those fantasies of what Hillary should say, again.  Clinton Fantasies blog

I had a re-imagining of what she would say about the Fernando thing

[sad, wistful smile] Ah yes, Rajiv,..  I met him because he was a donor.  He impressed me.  He was so creative and charismatic.  [more insistent and sadder] His colleagues impressed me, too.  They said he was so creative, how he could go into a meeting -- cold -- with people who were dealing with a longstanding conflict; and find a solution, almost instantly, that would satisfy everyone.  He reminded me a bit of how I saw Bill when I first met him.  Also, Rajiv's mother was from the sub-continent, where we have 2 new nuclear powers now. I thought, maybe, he could help. 

[looks frustrated, but humorous]  Then of course there was this whole allegation of scandal thing, how he had no national security qualifications, and our appointing him was corrupt — so we had to take him out. 

[thoughtful] You know, the way creative people come into new situations and find solutions that others did not find — that’s not from expertise.  That’s from looking at a problem with fresh eyes — creative eyes.  Curiously, that’s how people feel about Trump that he’s a smart, creative person who will look at problems with new eyes.

[insistent] Unfortunately, I don’t think that Trump’s that person.  He inherited his money.  He didn’t build any successful businesses himself.  His most successful venture is being a TV performer, a comedian.

[wistful, quiet, wondering] But I still wonder what would have happened if Rajiv had stayed on that committee.  Would he have found a creative solution? Would we be living in a safer, happier world right now?

Then I thought about myself as a child, being bullied.  I think I, too, like Hillary, was the sort to feel that I was constantly being strafed, and to look ahead with a hunted expression and not reply to my tormentors.  Perhaps that was part of what encouraged them to continue. 

There’s also this effect of years of smears.  After people repeat them so often, they start to believe what they’re saying more and more.  That’s what happened with Madoff.  Everyone was saying that his fund was such a great place to invest.  After a while, people believed it, when really it was a scam. 

I feel that’s what’s going on with Hillary. People believe malicious gossip, because everyone around them convinces them it’s true.

I guess I’m dreaming of being her speech writer

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Biles & ADHD meds

Well, this is a tricky one.

Russian hackers come out with information about Simone Biles' ADHD meds.

Yes, they were allowed by the rules.  Yes, they were necessary to her as a person.

But did they give her an unfair advantage?

What about another athlete who might have had ADHD, but wasn't diagnosed or prescribed meds?

What about an athlete who could have been diagnosed, but didn't go to a doctor, or couldn't afford to, and bought the meds on the black market?  What if the athlete came from a country with different ideas about mental health care than the USA?

Are ADHD meds necessary for gymnastics?  Or only for school?  Would she have had to take them on the day of the competition?

Did they stunt her growth, making her shorter, and therefore making flips easier?  Was this an unfair advantage in this sport?

This is all sort of ambigous.

Then it there was that cyclist, who said the steroids were related to his cancer treatment, when in fact they weren't -- and all sorts of Tour de France results had to be voided...

Perhaps some more consideration has to be given to these rules.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

on dealing with pain in program

These are some comments that I sent to a sponsee dealing with pain, both physical pain and depression.

Keep saying the serenity prayer like a mantra

The AABB teaches us that the primary causes of addictive behavior are resentment and fear.  Pain is a huge cause of resentment and fear.  We have to pray to have resentment and fear removed.

The AABB has specific prayers for this.

The resentment prayer is on p67:

"God please help me show _________ the same tolerance, pity, and patience I would cheerfully grant a sick friend. They [new singular they usage] are a sick person, place or thing.  How can I be helpful to them? God save me from being angry.  thy will be done" [paraphrased]

The fear prayer is on p68

"God please remove my fear and direct my attention to what you would have me be."

These prayers are at the heart of the psychic change we are seeking in program.  Living on the basis of faith, rather than on the basis of resentment and fear and self-reliance. 

Program does not remove physical pain, however it can remove emotions about the pain.  Often those emotions are worse than the pain itself.

In m my person experience, though, my back pain is usually due to stress.  Doing some stretching/yoga and relaxing my mind will help the spasming muscles to relax. 

When we're abstinent we feel the feelings that we were eating down with the food.  Being willing to feel these feelings, especially during the first 90 days, is another big part of program.

During the first 90 days, I thought that, if I didn't get my favorite trigger foods, I would run out into the street screaming and the neighbors would have to call the men in the little white coats to take me away. 

I worked the tools, though: meetings, phone calls, etc.  Those pulled me through until I got through the steps, which are very helpful with the emotions.

I had one sponsee who was in bed with depression for five months.  Then we went through the steps in two and a half hours on the phone and she was able to leave her bed.  It was amazing.  Bill W was a great genius.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Bully for president

I’ve been having a number of painful Internet debates with the people who think that Hillary is a crook.

I don’t think she is a crook. I think she made some mistakes.  These people don’t seem to understand the difference between making mistakes and committing a crime.

It’s painful debating these people, because they are invariably insulting and bullying.  They are not able to have a civil conversation.

They also seem to believe that being smart means that you never make mistakes.

I had a flash of insight about these people.  They must, like me, have grown up in families where making a mistake was regarded as intolerable; but, unlike me, they haven’t spent 11 years in 12 step programs trying to unlearn that false premise.

Being smart doesn’t mean that you don’t make mistakes.  It means that you learn from them.  It means that you learn complex material quickly, that your thinking is flexible.

If you grew up in an environment where mistakes were severely punished, it limits your ability to be creative and take risks.  This limits your ability to achieve.  It limits your intelligence.

When these people call me all manner of names, because I don’t agree with them, or tell me to leave the country, I am hearing the voice of their parents.  This is how their parents spoke to them when they were little.  This is how they learned to address others.  They learned emotional abuse, so they dish it out.

For years now, we have been trying to stamp bullying out in our schools.  Then, horribly, a bully, Donald Trump (aka Adolph Drumpf) has taken control of a major party — voted in by those creepy people who are bully hangers on — who think bullying is funny.  It’s the revenge of the bullies.

Putin likes him.  Putin obviously came from a bullying atmosphere, himself.

How many bullies are there out there? 

There was a famous book that said — and I wish I remembered the title — that capitalism is a system that rewards sociopaths.  People with scruples can’t make it to the top as well as people who are heartless, selfish, driven. 

This election, more than any previous election, tests the dichotomy between the bullying sociopaths and those who seek to foster a freer, gentler environment.

For me that is the heart of the difference between Republicans and Democrats, not politics, but style.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Things falling apart

I’ve been struggling to keep dying OA meetings alive.  First there was a phone meeting that I kept alive for many years, tho a young man finally took it over for me.  Then there is a small meeting that I go to near my  home every week.  Sometimes there are only two or three. Sometimes I’m the only one.  We’re lucky when we get five people.

The Methodist Church where we have this meeting also is struggling.  The paint is peeling.  It seems like the number of people attending the service is not that much more than attend the OA meeting. 

This weekend I went to an SLAA meeting in the city, which used to be very large, but there were only 3 of us there and no chair, so I had to go get the key to get into the room, even tho I arrived late. 

That church, which is Catholic, seems to be struggling as well.  The toilet near our meeting room doesn’t stop flushing, for instance, even though I’ve reported it.

Why are things falling apart?

Some of it is changed religious beliefs.  How many people really identify theologically with Methodists any more?  I don’t know. 

With the Catholic Church, of course, we know there have been losses of money due to sexual abuse scandals. 

Another  thing is the Internet.  Everyone is glued to their electronic devices and doesn’t have time to go to in person events.  Also, on the Internet, they can find more exciting content: songs sung better, preachers who are more eloquent. 

Another thing is the loss of the great volunteer force, which was stay at home moms.  This force of able workers devoted themselves to many of our national institutions — especially churches.  They aren’t available any more.

As women’s “liberation” encouraged women to believe that working outside the home was liberating, the economy adjusted to the idea that families had two incomes.  Housing prices doubled, so that one person working could no longer afford a home.  It was like during the California gold rush, where prices went up so high that gold miners could get no profits off the gold that they found.

Now, working outside the home is no longer an option.  It’s mandatory for the financial security of the family. People no longer have the time and energy to do do those older things, like keep churches going.  Everyone’s working multiple jobs, just trying to stay afloat.

So now I’m thinking about Trump who speaks to people who think the country is falling apart and Obama who is saying that things are pretty good.  I guess in some sense both can be seen as true.

Still, what do I want to devote my energies to saving? 

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Just launching myself blythely into this controversy & expecting to be strafed.

Oh, so many thoughts.

I am seeing so much divisive finger pointing on the Internet where people of differing opinions accuse each other of nefarious conspiracies.  If you are a liberal, those conspiracies are headed up by the Koch brothers. If you are a conservative those conspiracies are headed up by George Soros.  Also, everyone is suddenly Hitler or a Nazi, if you don’t agree with them.

Unproven malicious gossip is taken as true.  Mainstream media is drowned out, because people can’t afford subscriptions — or the time to read a paid subscription.

And, into this maelstrom, comes the current crisis surrounding the killing of Afrimericans by white cops and the shooting of cops by a loony in Dallas.

I tend to think of myself as progressive.  I tend to take those views in many respects.

There’s this liberal cartoon

Then there's this conservative cartoon

I do find a certain appeal to the conservative cartoon.  An Afrimerican "friend" on FB accused me of sounding like a Nazi when I said there were some cultural issues about the difference between how Afrimericans respond to police and how Anglos do. I don't think that this is a legal issue exactly, unlike the author of the above cartoon.

Now these latest two shooting by cops did not show Afrimericans responding non-deferentially to cops.  But some of the earlier ones did.

Please  note I'm not saying that the anger management issues that cops have manifested in response to non-deferential behavior were justified.  I think cops should be trained not to respond to perceived rudeness with rage.  I think cops should be more professional than that.  On the other hand, it just really isn't prudent to be rude or talk back to a cop.  It just isn't. 

I do feel that Anglos like me (actually I'm only half Anglo) tend to be more timid and deferential in general.  I've even heard Afrimericans comment on that. 

Let me give you a couple of examples out of my life.

The first example occurred when my son was in second grade. 

I live in a school district that is about half Hispanic and half white, but there are very few African Americans, as we usually think about that term, tho the Hispanics often have some African ancestry.  I went to my son’s class and witnessed an African American boy put out in the hall.  He had been talking back to the teacher and would not stop.

Now the curious  thing about this was that this boy was not being nasty or disrespectful.  He was just talking to her pleasantly, as if they were in an ordinary conversation, ignoring the rest of the class. I didn’t think he was a bad kid at all, but somehow his behavior was not like that of the other kids — all of whom listened silently when the teacher spoke.

I felt that this was perhaps a cultural difference.  I notice, for instance, that Afrimericans are allowed to talk back in church, while Anglos are not supposed to.

The second example happened to me in NYC. 

I was walking along 34th street at night with a man I had just met at an event.  My companion was a very small, nerdy white man.  As we walked along, we encountered a rather seedy looking street preacher, also white, who was saying something about Christianity. I’m not quite sure what he was saying, but the fellow I was walking with chose to try to speak to the preacher.  I don’t remember what the comment was, but the street preacher went ballistic, showing himself to be dangerously unhinged.

The fellow I was walking with and I chose to try to walk briskly away from this lunatic, but he was screaming after us and seemed like he might try to follow us, which was a bit alarming. 

Another pedestrian went over and yelled at the lunatic and told him to quit bothering us.  This pedestrian was African American.  His intervention did seem to work as the lunatic stopped yelling at us.

On the one hand, I was grateful to the person who intervened to help us and thanked him.  On the other hand, I felt that this intervention might easily have backfired and resulted in a violent incident, and I doubted that an Anglo would have intervened in the same way.

In any case, I'm thinking that it might be good if school children were trained in how to respond to police, so that there would be consistency.  That might avoid some problems.  If everyone behaved consistently, the police might more easily distinguish people who were truly resisting arrest and dangerous from others.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Clinton Fantasies

I’m having this fantasy that I’m Hillary Clinton and that I’m answering questions. 

I’m having this fantasy because I’m expecting to vote for her and I’m hoping she’s really not the monster that some people are painting her to be.  I did support Bernie Sanders, but it appears that he’s not going to be the nominee and I do feel that she’s likely better than Trump. 

I never really liked to think of myself as a socialist.  I supported Sanders, because he had some other positions that I liked: for instance, being against overthrowing dictators, because we don’t really have anything to put in their place; saying that addiction is a disease and not a crime; and also the Medicare for all thing (which I guess is socialist).

Anyway, I’m thinking right now that I’ll vote for Clinton, so I’m hoping there’s a perfectly reasonable explanation for what she’s been doing with respect to the e-mails and the apparently unqualified member of a committee on nuclear policy.

So here are my fantasy responses, delivered not in her characteristically tight-lipped, defensive, bellicose way, but rather in a more relaxed, thoughtful, candid way.


Well, at the time it seemed like a good idea.  It seemed like a more secure, private system than, say, gmail or Yahoo!  In retrospect, I see that those big companies were probably better protected against hackers than my private system, but back then I did not realize that.

I did think we had permission.  Joe, the Secret Service guy who went over the thing, said he got everything checked out.  I guess maybe he didn’t clear it with the State Department.  I didn’t double check. 

Managers are supposed to be big picture people.  We have to delegate details to others, or  we wouldn’t get anything done.

Nuclear committee

As we go through life, we meet many people in many different ways.  Yes, I met Mr. Fernando because he was a donor; but that’s not why I put him on this board. I put him on the board, because I got to know him, because I found him to be a person of exceptional thoughtfulness and good character.  I think that, if you met him, you would also like him.

I find very sad that this extraordinarily sensitive, generous man is being subjected to the horrible implications that the media is putting forward.


This is kind of like my books, where I write fantasies as novels.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Another teen suicide due to bullying

A teen suicide connected with bullying.

In this case, we have someone insecure about her race, because adopted by white parents, then bullied about her race and perceived sexual orientation.

People can be bullied for all sorts of things.  In my case, I think I was bullied because I was an Aspie.  My Aspie kids were bullied, too.  Now that’s not to say that they didn’t contribute, because they were socially inept, because they were Aspies. But, again, that was part of their disability. 

Neurotypical people think that an Aspie could just stop being socially inept.  No.  They can’t — any more than a person in a wheelchair can stand up and walk.

Tony Atwood recommends that Aspie children be appointed a mentor, preferably an older child, who can accompany them at recess and lunch and guide them through social situations.  I asked for that for my kids, but it didn’t happen.

We really need to look at this public perception that school is good for kids socially.  Really?  It seems to me that it’s a place where they’re more likely to be socially traumatized.

Did the school have notice in the case of this suicide?  How could they not have had notice if there was a shouting incident over the bullying? Moreover, if they don’t notice the bullying, they must not have enough supervision.  Bullying happens very often.  It should be expected and checked for.  Schools should not be waiting for reports.

Maybe kids need one of those pendants, like they give older people, so that they can press a button and call for help when they’re being bullied.  Perhaps kids should be given surveys monthly to ask if they’ve been bullied and get them help.

Maybe every adult should have a survey asking them whether on the whole they thought school was socially beneficial or traumatizing.  Most adults I know remember traumatic experiences and feelings of being socially stigmatized at school.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Response to @Forbes re: weight loss & science

I feel like I’ve said these things before, but, then, I don’t know whether anyone consistently reads what I write, so I guess it is worth repeating.

I read this article:

link to recent Forbes article re weight loss

I tried to comment on it on the Forbes website, but, somehow, the accounts that I had set up wouldn’t work.  I guess I had to agree to receive e-mails from them in order to set up an account, so that -- if I refused to receive e-mails -- their little widget wouldn’t register me?  Not sure.

Specious calorie numbers

First, I do NOT believe these numbers associated with calories per gram of carbs, protein, and fat.  These numbers were arrived at by a primitive system, burning or autoclaving food.  It’s not at all clear to me that that method is bio-equivalent to what is going on with digestion.  In particular, the idea that fat has so many calories per gram strikes me as *very* suspect. 

Fat burns well in air, releasing a lot of heat.  Is that what it does in the body?  That’s not clear to me.  For instance, when I took biology, I learned that fat was used in the digestion of glucose.  It seemed to me more like it was helping the reaction, rather than being digested itself, at least not completely. 

Studies are starting to come out showing that this whole low fat diet craze that our country is coming out of was totally wrong.  There was never any science to back it up.  It was just magical thinking: eating fat makes you fat.  No. It doesn’t.  One recent study said that for best weight loss most adults should have a diet that is over 30% fat. 

Specious comments about associating calories with weight loss

I believe that people are overweight, because they are overeating.  A maintenance level food plan will not keep a person in an overweight condition.  They don’t have to eat below maintenance level to lose weight if they are overweight.  I’ve seen this in OA. 

This is a really important point.  Restrictive diets lead to starve/binge eating behaviors.  These behaviors are a very efficient way of gaining weight. 

During periods of starvation, the body goes into a low metabolism storage state where weight loss is difficult.  People who diet frequently mess up their metabolisms and have less and less effect from diets.

Moreover, if someone binges while in a low metabolism storage state, they put on fat much more efficiently than if they binged while eating in accordance with a maintenance level food plan. 

Dieting is a primary cause of the obesity epidemic.


This article is just re-hashing approaches that don’t work and which I believe are false.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Current version of assistance in dying.

Yesterday, I went with Compassion & Choices to lobby for a bill, identical to the laws in states like Oregon & Vermont, to allow aid in dying.

I first got interested in this topic, because my father was in it.  He spoke repeatedly about how frustrated he was both that there was no aid in dying and also that heroin, which is apparently the best pain killer for terminal cancer patients, and which was developed originally by a commercial prescription drug manufacturer, was illegal even for terminal cancer patients.  He belonged to some groups that were advocating for changes in the law in that area.

Sadly, changes in the law did not arrive in time fo him.

He got terminal cancer and died in hospice.  I want to make some observations about this process. 

First morphine had been touted to him as this wonder drug that would make the dying experience bearable.   This turned out to be wrong.  He hated morphine.  It caused severe constipation (the kind that requires a nurse to physically go in there and get the poop out). It also caused unpleasant hallucinations. 

Moreover, he did not like the sensation produced by this drug.  We hear reports all the time that morphine is addictive and that it makes people high.  My father hated the way it made his thinking cloudy.  He valued clear thinking.

Morphine may be wonderful for some people, but not for everyone.

Second, people have told me that you can die within two days if you don’t have anything to drink.  It took my father 3 weeks, with nothing to eat or drink and no feeding tube, to die.  I guess you only die so quickly if you’re out in the hot desert sun, not if you’re lying in a comfortable bed in a climate controlled house.

And all of that time, my father wished that he had the option to get aid in dying.


But I learned, as part of my lobbying trip, that the current bill has some significant limitations intended to prevent abuse

- you have to be terminally ill, with less than 6 months to live and no available treatments
- you have to be mentally competent.
- the drug prescribed must be self-administered, not administered by anyone else
- you have to make at least two requests for aid in dying within 15 days of each other

My dad could have met these criteria.

On the other hand, other friends family members, who I watched die, could not have.

Let me take first the example of my maternal grandmother. 

She had an initial major heart attack when I was in 4th grade, which left her somewhat brain damaged.  In the following two years, she had a series of small strokes, each of which left her more disabled than the previous, so that she was essentially a “vegetable.” After 2 years, during much of which she was helpless, confined to a wheelchair and unable to speak, she died; however, within 6 months of her death she was not mentally competent and therefore could not have exercised an option for assisted dying, under this law, even if she had left clear directives indicating that she would like aid in dying.  She would also likely not even have been able to self-administer the drug.

Another example was a friend whose wife died of early onset Alzheimers. For several years prior to her death, she was paralyzed and mute.  Again, six months prior to her death, she was not mentally competent, so she could not have used the procedure from this bill.

The representatives of Compassionate Choices spoke  — as if this were a good thing — of only 1/500 Oregonians opting for assisted dying.  I would submit that this low number is due to at least part of the people who would have liked to exercise this option were not mentally competent within 6 months of their death.

Therefore, though my father would have benefited from this bill; a lot of people wouldn’t really have the kind of dying experience that would be compatible with this bill.

Ideally, I would like to be able to sign a paper upon getting an Alzheimer’s diagnosis that I would like assisted dying at some particular time, or when my symptoms were at some threshold of acuteness — like maybe I could no longer recognize my children — or maybe I could no longer get to the toilet. This law would not help in such a circumstance.

Another example would be if my cancer were to recur and they could treat me, but the treatment might result in paralysis or being maimed by invasive surgery/radiation/chemo.  What if I would prefer not to have such treatment, but also do not want to go through a painful death?  I would not be eligible under this law, because treatment would be considered available to me.

I’m glad that this law is being considered, but I don't think it goes far enough.


Here is an interesting story about a woman in The Netherlands who was granted assisted suicide/aid in dying, because she had incurable PTSD from childhood sexual abuse

Friday, April 22, 2016

Correcting deficits in bariatric treatment

I am very frustrated with the state of bariatric treatment.  I'm not talking about surgery.

Surgery does not work for everyone.

First, doctors are reluctant to do surgery on people who weigh more than 400 lbs, lest the lungs of the patient collapse under the patient's own weight, while the patient is under anesthesia.

Second, people figure out how to eat past the surgery.  They gain the weight back. The problem is in the person's brain, not in their digestive tract.

Super morbidly obese people need rehabilitation.  I find that their treatment is often misguided.  I had a super morbidly obese friend die at top weight 800 lbs.  I saw numerous opportunities where he could have been saved, but medical personnel -- who were treating him improperly -- ultimately caused his death, when I feel that could have been avoided.

Here is a list of points that they apparently did not know.

1. Aquatherapy
            Fat is lighter than water, so bariatric patients can exercise normally in water, whereas they cannot on dry land.  I saw my super morbidly obese friend unable to lift his leg because of a several hundred pound grade 5 panniculus resting on it.  He could lift his leg fine if in water.
            Bariatric patients develop infections, both fungal and bacterial, in the folds of their skin.  Showers cannot adequately clean these areas.  Submerging in salt water is amazingly effective.  My friend’s final illness was triggered by bacterial infections in the folds of his skin.
            Doctors kept treating the fungus that they saw there, while not adequately treating the bacteria, which were more dangerous.
            He was in several rehab facilities specializing in bariatric patients, but none of those facilities had aquatherapy.

2. Food addiction
            Many bariatric patients are addicted to certain foods.  Common triggers for addictive behavior are: refined carbs (sugar, flour, starch), sweeteners mixed with fat, and salt mixed with fat.  Many dieticians cling to the false belief that overweight people can eat these foods in moderation.  The food addict can no more eat their trigger foods in moderation than an alcoholic can drink alcohol in moderation.  I have seen many abstinent food addicts relapse in hospitals because hospital dieticians fed them trigger foods.  In a weakened, helpless state, they ate those trigger foods.  This is appalling to me.

3. Restrictive diets
            People are overweight, because they are overeating.  They do not need to be put on a restrictive diet.  They need to be put on a normal, maintenance level food plan.  
            Restrictive diets result in starve/binge eating behavior.  People maintain the restrictive diet for a while. Then, when they get hungry enough, they binge.  This is a very effective way of gaining weight: yo-yo dieting.  Restrictive diets put the body into a low metabolism storage state.  In this state, the body gains more weight from a binge than it would if the person were eating normally.
            Super morbidly obese patients can die of an anorexia induced heart attack before they reach goal weight if they are eating a restrictive diet.  Fat is a symptom of past eating behavior, not of current eating behavior. 
            People lose weight faster on a maintenance level food plan, because their metabolism is more efficient.  Super morbidly obese people may actually have to eat more because of the extreme effort they are putting in to carry around hundreds of extra pounds.  They will still lose weight, because even if they’re eating 3000 calories they’re still eating a whole lot less than they have been eating.

4. Psychiatric
            The vast majority of people who are more than 100 lbs overweight have been severely abused as children, either violently or sexually or both.  Many have severe mental health issues such as bipolar, borderline personality, or schizoaffective disorder.  They are using food to medicate themselves for their severe mental health issues.  If they stop overeating without proper psychiatric support, they will very likely have a breakdown.  Trying to put a very overweight person on a weight loss diet without adequate psychiatric support is a recipe for doom.
            12 step programs use the 12 steps to deal with emotional problems, but that may not be sufficient for everyone. 

5. Prayer and Meditation
            The effect of prayer and meditation on the brain has been slightly, but not extensively, researched.  12 step programs are based on the belief that prayer and meditation are good for interrupting compulsive behavior. 

6. Lying on back
            Pregnant women are told to sleep on their left sides, because the weight of their pregnancy resting on the circulatory system can cause extensive health issues.  This problem is even worse for a super morbidly obese person who is more than 100 lbs overweight.  Yet such patients are routinely put on their backs. 
            My super morbidly obese person could not breath lying on his back, because of the weight of his body crushing his lungs.  Yet, the hospital where he died insisted on putting him on his back.  I believe that this decision was the direct cause of his death. 
            They had to entubate him.  Ultimately, they did a tracheotomy.  The surgery killed him, because he was too weak for surgery.
            However, even if he was breathing, lying on his back was still causing circulation to be cut off to the lower half of his body – and making his toes go black. 
            Another problem was that they were making insufficient efforts to turn him, because of his weight, and he was lying on bedsores that were big enough to put your fist in.

7. Restraints
            Another issue for my friend was that they put him in restraints, because he was trying to free himself from tubes, so he could roll over.  The restraints were too small and cut deeply into his wrists -- I'm talking tearing his flesh an inch deep all around his wrists.  I found this appalling

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Mental Illness -- It takes a village

I maneuvered impatiently to get past them to get on the train — the mother pushing a baby carriage while shouting at the boy trailing behind to hurry.  I wanted to get on the train myself.  I figured I would let her deal with whatever it was.

I got in the train and walked through the aisle through several cars to get closer to the front, to be suer to get a seat.

Curiously, despite her hurry to get her son on the train, she walked outside the train to the same car where I ended up.  Then she stood in the door yelling at him to get on the train.  I could hear the desperation in her voice as he refused and ran the other way.   She called for people to help her.  Her voice was hoarse.  She complained that she was sick and could not run after him.

I recognized that desperation.  Having raised 2 kids with Asperger’s Syndrome, I know what it is to have children who don’t obey, who have no sense when something is important, no sense that they are causing their mother pain, no sense that they are being completely inappropriate and outrageous.

The signals were ringing indicating that the doors were closing.  She was standing in the doorway holding the door open and he was running the other way.  I went to the next car and alerted the conductors.

Finally a burly black man, about 40, grabbed this boy, who was white, concerned that he wasn’t obeying his mom, and brought screaming for his mom onto the train. It was a bold thing for him to do, to grab a white child to help a white mom.  His move could easily have been misinterpreted.  I felt he was very brave.

Then, curiously, the mother did not get on the train, and the boy was there inside screaming for her.

I was puzzled.  A black woman, who claimed she did this every week, explained that the boy had a day pass to visit his mom and he normally lived in a group home. 

The black man was there with his own children and he got the boy calmed down.  He tried to encourage the boy by saying if he could clean up his behavior he could be with his mother all the time.   He introduced the boy to his own children.  He said he was stepfather of one.

The boy calmed down.  He was happy to find people to talk to.

The conductor came by and thanked me for alerting them to the problem.  The mother had explained the situation to me. Another conductor came by and told the boy that he would look for him next Sunday and that he was going to become the boy’s friend.

When they got off the train, the boy tried to say goodbye to the man, addressing him as stepfather, clearly hungry for that.  The man was looking at his cell phone, which broke my heart, but got off at the same stop. I hope he said goodbye nicely, because the boy had obviously become attached to him.

It was one of those examples of what Hillary Clinton meant when she said “It takes a village to raise a child.”  Normally in NYC we don’t want to get involved, but here people did. They intervened to help a mother who needed backup to gain control of a child.

I hoped that the man was right, that the boy would be able to get his act together and go back to his mom.  I doubted it, though.  I felt that once in a group home this boy’s chances were poor. 

It reminded me of when my younger son was evaluated in high school by a private neuropsychologist and she said we should send him to a residential treatment facility.  We didn’t do it.  I couldn’t bear the thought of sending him away.  He’s never really been able to get back on his feet and now lives as a parasitic computer addict.  I’ve wondered whether we did the wrong thing by not sending him away, but then I think it could have been much worse.  He might have hated being sent away and done worse than he has.  You can never know.  Fortunately, he’s at least a nice young man, despite being dysfunctional.

I wondered whether than man knew how good he is with kids, whether he knew he had a chance to make a difference in that boy’s life, that the boy really came to like him, that he hoped that he had made a new friend. 

I wondered if I would ever see that boy again.  Maybe if I take that same train some Sunday?  And could I help him, when I couldn’t really help my own sons?  Or did I do better than I think?  Are they doing better than they might have without me? 

So many questions.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Answers to those who are suddenly abandoning Sanders

I am distressed at issues which are apparently causing former Sanders supporters to change over to Clinton.

Issue #1: He does not yet know how he will break up major banks.

This is the correct answer. Breakups of monopolies are done through the FTC.  These breakups need to be done after study and through proper legal channels.  They are not done solo by POTUS.  He should not yet know how they should be done.

Issue #2: He does not campaign for other Democratic party candidates.

He is not the machine candidate.  We already knew that.

Hillary scratched everyone’s backs carefully before running.  That’s why she has all those pledged super delegates who may give her the nomination even if Sanders wins the majority of the regular delegates.  That’s also probably why Elizabeth Warren refused to run, even though progressives wanted her to.

He’s not the machine candidate.  He was the only one who voted against the War on Iraq -- the war that has nearly bankrupted us, that was improperly and deceptively justified, that overthrew a stable government and instituted a state of violent anarchy where terrorism thrives.  He does not go along with the crowd.

He’s the one who wants Medicare for all.  He’s the only one saying that.  He does not go along with the crowd.

He’s the one saying addiction is a disease not a crime.  Hillary is the one who is saying that young people are predators, when in fact many young people of color are being entrapped by law enforcement officials who convince young people to buy and sell drugs.  Yes young people will do foolish things.  We give white young people a pass on youthful offenses.  We send young people of color to jail.  Bernie does not go along with the crowd.

Why should he be campaigning for other party candidates?  What have they done for him?  He isn’t plugged into the machine to know who to endorse — to know whose positions might be incompatible with his. 

Hillary is all plugged in, getting large donations and speaking fees from the wealthy.  Is that really what we wanted?  Isn’t that why we didn’t want her in the first place?


These issues do not persuade me to change my opinion

Monday, April 11, 2016

Laura Poitras at The Whitney

On Saturday evening, I went to the Whitney Museum with a friend.  I hadn’t realized that the Whitney had moved to Greenwich Village.  I hadn’t realized it was right next to a big Samsung office that had something of an art exhibit in the lobby as well.  I hadn’t realized that Google has a big office building not too far away either. 

I went with an out of town friend who was visiting for the weekend.  That’s the cool thing about friends visiting.  You go do things that you probably should have done a long time ago, but never got around to doing.

I never got around to taking my kids to the top of the World Trade Center.  I always thought I would have plenty of time to get there, or they would.  Wrong.

In any case, this exhibit I went to see, with work by Laura Poitras, was probably not one that I would have chosen to go see in any case.  The description online was singularly uninspiring to me.  And there is not an infinite amount of time to go see it.  It closes May 1.

The artist is a journalist who has done work investigating the results of our war on terror.  I think I might have expected a documentary.  I think my friend expected a documentary.

In going to this exhibit, it’s important to realize that it is *not* a documentary.  You’re not necessarily going to see information that you did not already know, if you’re reasonably informed —about how we tortured people, about our video surveillance program, about our drones, about our invasion of Iraq. 

This is an art museum.  This is art.  The point is to give an emotional impression. 

It reminded me a bit of the Holocaust museum.  It was dark.  There was spooky music playing.  You get a feeling of how real people were affected.   You get the feeling of what it is to be on the other side of what we’re doing.

Curiously, my friend was not that much affected by the exhibit, nor was a young woman we heard on the elevator. 

I was deeply affected.  I felt a feeling of doom — as if I were inside the dark tour of Sauron in LOTR looking out at the hordes of orcs and other horrific monsters that have been dispatched in my name in other countries.  Moreover, I got the feeling that creatures dispatched on my behalf are not necessarily ones whose judgment I would trust — not that that should have been a surprise.

I felt a feeling of doom, knowing that really our country is not so large and the whole world is MUCH larger — and they are going to come after us, just like the valiant hobbits went after and defeated Sauron: finding his weak point, attacking his weak point, and destroying him, despite his impressively massed orcs and wraiths and flying monsters.  And they’re not necessarily going to be nice to us, just as we were not nice to them.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

@potus arguments against suing apple

Some years back, I worked for a multi-national conglomerate.  They bought a Silicon Valley company, while I was working there, in the hopes of bolstering their semi-conductor manufacturing division.  They bought this company hoping to keep it mostly intact and integrate it into their existing division.

Unfortunately, the conglomerate was not able to persuade the employees in the target company to stay.  Everyone left and the conglomerate was left with nothing, basically an empty bag, which was a grave disappointment.

Having watched this fiasco, I am very concerned with what is going on with the US government suing Apple to try to force Apple to unlock phones. 

Apple has already said that their security department may quit if anyone tries to force them to unlock the phones. 

I don’t think that the US government is really taking this possibility seriously enough.  If all of Apple’s experienced security engineers quit, this will handicap them in making future products and in maintaining existing products.  If the government keeps pushing after that, more engineers may quit.  This could actually destroy the company.

People in Washington don’t understand Silicon Valley culture.  They don’t understand how mobile techies out there are.

Apple is a big company that employs lots of people.  The US government should not be attempting to force this situation.  They don’t see how it’s a scorched earth policy.  They don’t see how they might be endangering one of our most important employers.

This whole situation is illustrative of the classic legal principle that equity will generally be reluctant to affirmatively force people to take certain actions.  Injunctions are more favored.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

@DarnTough socks from @VTStore

I am unretracting this story.  The new socks came without the marks that I show in the picture below and developed them later.  I don't believe that the new socks have the mark.  They only get them after being washing. I think the sales lady lied to me.



Very embarassing.  I sent the socks back and was told that they are SUPPOSED to look that way.  I hadn't noticed the mark before and thought it was new, but it was a feature, not a defect.  So Vermont Country Store is actually sending me an extra pair of socks.  Very sweet.
🙄 Sorry.


I actually went to the real Vermont Country Store in Weston, VT.  I’ve been getting their catalog for years, so I wanted to try out the actual store, and I was in Weston for an audition, so I went.

I bought a couple of pairs of Darn Tough socks.  They were pricey, but they promised to last a lifetime because they were made in the USA.  I actually already had a pair of Darn Tough socks, which were doing pretty well, so I felt good about this purchase.

I get so mad at all the cheap Chinese junk I buy that breaks right away and often does not even work at all right out of the box.  The idea of buying made in USA goods really inspired me.

So the third time I wore this pair of socks, it was with a pair of Mary Janes and the strap caused the surface pattern to disintegrate.  This was only the third time  I wore this pair of socks — and naturally I had already thrown out the packaging.  I called the Vermont Country Store — and since I bought the socks from the physical store and not from the catalog — they referred me over to the physical store and wouldn’t deal with me in catalog customer returns.  I left a voice mail. I didn’t even get to speak to a human being.

Really depressing.

It’s not even the $34 or so that I paid for the socks.  It’s the annoyance that this is yet another worthless piece of junk that I have to waste time on.  The time is almost not worth it.

But I am so sick and tired of buying junk and being cheated.  I feel particularly betrayed that these creeps played on my patriotism to buy even worse junk than I would have bought made in China.  I trusted these folks and they betrayed me.  Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, you know.

I should get little voodoo dolls and start sticking pins in them.  That’s what I should do.

Here's a picture showing where the straps from my shoes wore off the surface pattern of the socks. It's those stripey, grey blotches.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

some program related reflections on giving unsolicited advice to friends

This is what I’ve taken from program about giving unsolicited advice to friends.  The term "program" here is to be taken loosely to mean any of the several 12 step programs I've encountered.

With sponsees, the idea is to help them learn to solve problems on a spiritual basis.

When sponsees in program tell me about complex problems.  I tell them to write a letter to God, explaining the problem and asking for answers, then put the letter in their "God box."  A "God box," is a plain cardboard box, tho some prefer to use a can because "God can," -- pun.  Then the next day, you wait for the first intuition you receive on the topic, and take that to be from God.

Quite often the answer is not to do anything, to wait.  Prior to program, I thought all problems were emergencies that needed to be solved immediately. Now I think I do better distinguishing true emergencies.

How I respond to people outside of program varies.  Generally, though, they are really looking for someone to listen to them, and are not looking to be told what to do.  I personally tend to get annoyed when others tell me what to do and I assume others feel the same way.  It's really a gift to just listen to someone.  It gives them a chance to organize their thoughts.  It's nice to say things like "That sounds hard." or "I'm sorry to hear you're having to deal with this," or just make sounds of concern.  I find very seldom do people actually ask me what they should do.

I love the laundry list of ACA -- Adult Children of Alcoholics and Other Dysfunctional Families

This group broke off from Al-anon with a desire to focus on family of origin issues.  They then broadened their scope to all dysfunctional families, because they found that all such children shared certain issues. Item 6 is particularly relevant here. 

The desire to rescue others can be an addictive issue itself.  This is one thing that people focus on in Al-anon.  Many Al-anon members are addicted to trying to "fix" the alcoholic in their family -- often to the point where they have alienated the entire family from themselves.

Advice on complex emotional matters is often harmful.  It’s quite different from advice about what type of cleaning product to use.

I can't say whether any particular instance of giving advice is harmful or not.  Still there is this very famous quote, which I'm sure you’ll recognize about removing the log from one's own eye before removing the mote from the eye of one's neighbor.

One idea of program is that if we manage to solve our own problems we will attract others to our solution.  They will see we are better and want to know how we did it.