Sunday, January 22, 2017

Project(s) Update: Exploring Nuances of Kindness and Appreciation within Our Power Dynamics


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I had minimal concrete progress in my projects this week:


The end of my week got a little unproductive, though, as a I had a small bike accident. Thursday and Global Warming gifted Chicago with a beautiful warm and little wind day. As I turned off the bike path on way to work, I didn’t pay the best attention as the beautiful weather had it all. The lack of wind also didn’t slow me down.

I hit a patch of ice, back wheel slipped away, then I found myself trying to roll into a defensive ball to avoid hitting my head against a stone wall. Didn’t get close to the wall, thank goodness. Instead, I hit my knee cap and the elbow from the arm I used to break my fall rammed into a rib, two, or three and now feel bruised and a little embarrassed internally. Overall, though, it happens, time to rest a little then move on with life. Thank goodness for OTC painkillers like Ibuprofen and acetaminophen.

My internal debating has had an active time, though. Riding the bike, commuting, and doing some fairly repetitive health insurance service and analytical work allows the ruminating mind some time to think. Same with ironing, laundry, eating, and plenty of life reproductive maintenance activities.

This week, I’ve done some analysis of the language I’ve used in last week’s update and some of my social media updates. I specifically refer to my statements about being kind and compassionate to each other. As a white cis-male who identifies with a heterosexual lifestyle, I fear these words may come off as condescending.

It’s one thing to encourage people that they need to engage in self-care and show themselves kindness and compassion. Many of us feel disappointment in ourselves, frustrated with ourselves, and may see ourselves as failures, mainly because we have the imagination to see where we would like to be, what we would like to do, and even how to get there. Often times, however, we have yet to accomplish our goals, for whatever reason.

I have no problem supporting people by encouraging them to show themselves kindness and not beat themselves up. Life has difficulties and puts barriers in our way. Most of us have had pasts that have beaten us up. Many of us probably go through things everyday where we get beaten up. We want to do everything, but if we keep beating ourselves up for not accomplishing anything and thinking we can’t do anything more, we’ll likely never accomplish anything because we won’t have faith in ourselves. We are our worst critic and enemy.

So, please be kind and compassionate to yourself. Do more than just care for yourself. Let yourself know that it’s OK to have these thoughts, acknowledge them as a part of our automatic mind routines, let them flit and and process through our mind. The more we fight them, the more they will fight back and stronger they will get. Research techniques for working with them, if you don’t have any. In the end, though, we all have the strength and ability to accomplish the things we need and want to do. Acknowledging our urges to beat ourselves up is the first step to letting go of it then learning how to let it pass will help a lot to moving onward onto the things we want to do.

However, I feel my urgings to everyone to “be kind and compassionate” to each other comes off as problematic. First off, many people, whether as individuals or as a group/community, exist in a problematic state where showing kindness and compassion to their abuser or oppressive force will only enable and encourage such horrible behavior. Such behavior and actions might be required for survival, depending on the status of the individual or group, but that behavior and actions should not have the intention of kindness and compassion.

The oppressed and marginalized must remember they only act in these ways for their survival, so one day they may find an opportunity to get out, to fight, and reach a point of independence and health. No one should have to accept their oppression as natural, whether they oppress themselves or someone else does it.

And for those who have broken free of their oppression and marginalization or fight the good fight, they need not show kindness and compassion to those who seek to minimize them for the first time or again, whether consciously or not. No one should have to deal with that shit. At this point, maintaining integrity and dignity is a point of survival, much like maintaining life and health by passive aggressively fighting oppression and marginalization when under another person’s or group’s heel. When coming from below, those on high must be held accountable to human dignity and must earn any kindness and compassion from those below.

I need to use the Explanatory Comma more to clarify with whom I’m directing my words. I direct these words to the people and community with power, privilege, and representation. More specifically, I need to make apparent that I aim my words at other cis-white straight males and those who align with them for the privilege and representation, even the hard-working white people of Middle America and Coal Country.

It comes down to the fact that we hurt ourselves and prevent ourselves from growing happiness and joy in the world and for ourselves. I have no problem making a selfish argument for kindness, compassion, and happiness. I don’t mean just a show of it, either. I mean genuine, sincere kindness, compassion, and appreciation for those unlike ourselves. Such expressions and behavior can even mean learning to shut up, sit back, listen and watch. You can learn a lot by just observing. Heck, even among our own privileged community, we can stand to be quiet and observe each other.

And while sitting back, watching/listening, showing kindness, compassion, and appreciation, doing so in a genuine and sincere fashion means not patronizing, not fetishizing, not putting people unlike yourself on a pedestal, and other ways of making others The Other and/or a Thing, an object. These are people, like yourself. Even saying treating people with “kindness and compassion” feels like patronizing them.

At the same time, care, dignity, respect, integrity, rights, and other words we use everyday feel too status quo, just another way we can sweep things under the rug. . .especially since we can then feel like putting things into a perspective of tit-for-tat. Those with privilege feel attacked when they don’t feel like they’re being treated with dignity, respect, and integrity when they’re being treated that way because they’ve treated marginalized people this way for centuries.

They (we) are receiving a quid pro quo treatment. We treat people like shit, those people will treat us like shit back. And hey, I may even get treated like shit. I may receive it collaterally or, even in this essay, I may say something stupid. If that’s the case, I hope to listen, take the reaction seriously, and adjust my thoughts and behavior.

Honestly, I like seeing happy people, I like seeing all people happy, healthy, receptive, kind, and compassionate. If those with power, privilege, and interact from on high, can gather more enjoyment from propping others up and supporting each other, especially those who need it most, they can get it back, whether it be in kind or by seeing that real power comes from helping, encouraging, seeing the growth of others, and learning from them.

Heck, who knows? Maybe if we all pitch into appreciating each other, we don’t have to work so hard to convince ourselves that we’re worth being appreciated, too.

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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Grieving the Obama's Leaving the White House


Ever since President Obama’s farewell speech about a week ago, I tear up anytime I think about or hear/see something about him or his family. This state of mine specifically started when the President took a moment to thank Michelle and his girls: the moment he took out that cloth to wipe away his tear(s) and the camera focused on Michelle and one of the girls trying to hold themselves together: I think I’m grieving Barack stepping down as President and the Obama family leaving the White House.

By Lawrence Jackson [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

I’ll mention some of the realistic side of things before pouring praise onto the President. Barack was not a perfect President.

  • He caused a lot of harm in his orders to use drones. Even using drones perfectly still has an unsettling feeling, considering how much discomfort I felt about GWB using shock and awe air strikes to defeat Iraq rather than send ground troops in.
  • Barack has the title of “Deporter in Chief”, even though Trump will take on the title with more gusto.
  • He never seemed to have a good way to address police violence against black people and other people of color. Arguably, though, this problem may have come more from his idealism and general goodness in all people that have passed the line of irredeemable evil.
  • And I bet given more time, more people, and/or more research, a list of many disappointments and features worth censure could be made.
Despite such a list, though, the balance of his accomplishments and failures lean more toward one of the best Presidents of the United States I’ve ever seen in my lifetime. Just some amazing things he accomplished that make me really happy:
I’m sure at least a few people will feel justified to protest against a couple, a few, or all of the above accomplishments I’ve listed. This list provides, to me though, his most unequivocal accomplishments that have bettered this country and have increased the acceptance of more humans into the circle of deserving kind, respectable, and considerate treatment because they are a unique combination of matter, time, events, and consciousness worthy of appreciation.

These policies and appointments just touch the surface of President Obama and his family entering my heart in a way that no Presidential family has. Despite criticism that Michelle received for saying, “For the first time in my adult life, I am proud of my country, because it feels like hope is finally making a comeback”, I felt what she said when I first heard those words. I feel them even moreso now as I feel that pride fall away into despairing fear because in less than 48 hours, President-elect Trump will take office.

The Obama’s didn’t just give hope lip service. They embodied it and projected it out into the world. Just re-read the accomplishments that I listed above, the expansion of humanity in law and government that they created and the acceptance created. Just some of her initiatives and actions to improve the health and state of being of the American people:
And that’s how much I could find with minimal research. I can only imagine how much more I could find if I looked longer and harder.

I feel like it comes down to this, though: President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Robinson Obama feel very much like loving Parents of the United States more than President and First Lady. They sincerely care about the United States and the world, and they did (will do) everything in their power to make it better. They want to boost us up, help us become better, inspire the hope and courage in ourselves, and when things go south, they want to comfort us. Even during times of frustration and disbelief about horrible things, the President showed more disbelief and disappointment than blind anger that would seek to engage in violence or tirades (unlike a soon-to-be-President that many in our country fear).

Along with their inspiration and creating hope, the Presidential had a level of sincerity and a genuine disposition. They let their guard down and showed themselves as real people. President Obama acted as a role model as President seeking to do the best he could, but Barack, Michelle, and their girls provided a role model for family. Barack and Michelle fist bumping, their public displays of affection, their dancing together, their verbal expressions of love and faith in each other. I can’t remember any other Presidential couple showing such public effusiveness and comfort in front of the American people, in a wholesome and supportive, not indecent, way.

I always gave a side eye to people who showed emotion during political campaigns or for the candidates they supported. Fascination with the royalty in England always puzzled me. Barack, Michelle, Malia, and Sasha, however, have contributed to me feeling the kind of emotion and inspiration that role models can give people.

I’m even grateful to feel this sadness about them leaving the White House, even though I expect we’ll see them plenty after this Friday (maybe not right away. . .they can use a vacation!). Maybe they won’t hold any political office, but I have a hard time seeing them stay in the background when the country and world still has far to go for improvement and to be engorged in hope.

Thank you, President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama. You have provided us a bright star of hope from the top of the world. I hope won’t need the remembrance of your time at the head too much to carry us through the next four to eight years. Even if we don’t, though, I will look back fondly on the years between January 2009 and January 2017 as a time of hope, pride, positivity, and inspiration to more everyday to make the world a better place and spread kindness, compassion, and the broadening of our definition of humanity.

Enjoy your much-deserved vacation. I look forward to seeing you again as a model to aspire toward.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Project(s) Update: Learning About Appreciation and Kindness


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I like the idea of a weekly update for my project(s) on The Lextopia.

I put parenthesis around the the ‘s’ because my “bachelor project” has played the part of an organizing principle for my behavior, beliefs, and action in the world. Many in my life probably think that approach to the “bachelor project” doesn’t help me. Not finishing the project gets in the way of me getting my bachelors degree, which gets in the way of my progressing career-wise and in societal symbols of maturity.

To that, I say that I actually have a fair amount of personal growth to do for maturity, which includes learning who I am, the details of my beliefs (I have this ingrained issue with ‘doing good for the sake of doing good’), accepting them, then figuring out how to execute them in the world. I’ll admit, I could choose a more luxurious way to progress through the world. Also, I have a privileged history and background that allows me this approach.

Taking everything into account, though, my current path has more benefit than cost overall. Also, my internal error checker, conscience, ruminating dialogue, obsessive sense of integrity won’t leave me alone about THIS topic and doing so on a level of perfectionism. Adopting verbiage from Design Thinking, I’m accepting that the drive to resolve my project(s) on these terms as fact, not a problem.

Strangely enough, my current branching stream of consciousness and research hopefully has a twin benefit:

  • Providing a major premise for my project, one that has been bothering me for the last 16+ years, as in, I’ve believed it but didn’t know how to discuss it
  • Understanding this premise should me calm down my perfectionist tendencies

Before getting deeper into that, though, quick concrete update (from a Facebook post): 4 months of writing semi-regularly 10-20 minutes before work yields "21" pages of handwritten 4th chapter. Working on 4th 1st draft rewrite [of novel]. Add on for now: I’ve transcribed a couple pages during the same morning 10-20 minutes. Enjoying this re-read. I like handwriting on super rough draft then transcribing onto the computer. It provides an enjoyable experience, allows me to note to self ideas to integrate and take, and gives me the chance to do mini-tweaks as I do a run through.

Also, I’ve re-visited the idea of releasing the novel as some type of income creating serial. I don’t think I have enough confidence in myself to release it in parts, though. I’ve done so many changes based on what to expect down the road after reaching that point, world building could get weird as I change things after learning more about the world, and I’m just uncomfortable setting things into stone earlier in the story then blocking going where I had originally planned later in the story (instead of weighing the issues on both ends).

Another way to put it: I don’t have my techniques and tricks down enough to plan ahead for details. I figure completing a novel or more and getting them published will help me get the down while also building confidence.

And some progress on the essay/intellectual basis of the project on utopianism, which brings us back to my current stream of consciousness and research this week. The last few months, I moved from trying to understand how shame contributes a lot to antisocial behavior to how compassion contributes to pro-social behavior and psychological health. Apparently, per Paul Gilbert Ph.D’s introduction in The Compassionate Mind: A New Approach to Life’s Challenges, researchers often take this path from shame to compassion.

This book has provided me a great resource for both my project and personal development. It has done a lot for helping me understand the phrase “Be kind [or compassionate] to yourself.” I don’t treat myself bad as in insulting myself, saying that I’m worthless, or anything like that. Rather, I’m hard on myself for not accomplishing the things I want to do or feeling satisfied with my “progress” in my life. Seeing the mounds to do on my task lists doesn’t help, either (both personal, household, and professionally). Thrown on knowing that I need connection and a social life, too! And also feeling the compulsion for social and political activism. . .Being a perfectionist is hard and tiring!

Installing ruminations of “Be kind to yourself” into the brain helps. Seeing it bout it out and infect perfectionism has its comedy value, too. Perfectionism goes into so many loops when it tries to perfect taking it easy and chilling out.

Seeing the personal benefits of compassion, both pointed inward and outward, has made me more comfortable with my argument that compassion/kindness should make for an indisputable argument for a rational person. How to properly apply that compassion outwardly, however, tripped me up. Another Facebook post of mine this week sent me down this road:
Couple years ago, read article with gay man saying that he didn't want just tolerance, he wanted [appreciation]. [Inspiring] sentiment.
These words fall into line with a conclusion from one of my project essays that gives me a lot of pride compared to the other essays I’ve written so far. It also falls in with psychological theory from Rollo May and a lot of discussion out there about “hard working rural white voters” and radicalization of people.

The quote and my conclusion in that essay doesn’t feel complete. They feel problematic, actually. For one, the actions taken by radicalized people because they aren’t receiving appreciation goes to far. Then, sourced in my universal acceptance/belief that appreciation is every human’s need, it’s hard to argue against privileged people fighting to keep their privilege and marginalized people fighting to get appreciation, too. Does the drive to receive a pro-social action need to lead to antisocialness, anger, violence, and other horrible things, both for those receiving an abundance of it and those with a dearth of it? Based on that, we’re in a Hobbesian State of Nature.

Then throw on there the sincerity aspect of throwing appreciation and kindness everywhere. I’ve discovered that I have a hangup about receiving personal benefit of showing kindness to the world. I have something of a martyr complex about it. It kind of goes along with the age old criticism I have with believing in God and accepting Jesus because you will go to Heaven. Is someone believing and accepting because they want to get into Heaven or do they REALLY believe and accept God and Jesus because of what they stand for?

So I’m in the middle of the sincerity of appreciation stream of consciousness. Is someone just engaging in appreciating things for their own benefit or because they REALLY appreciate something. Should someone fake until they make it? What if it’s something that really shouldn’t be appreciated, like killing and other horrible things? What if it’s something that doesn’t spark interest? What if someone doesn’t have an interest in appreciating something other than to make the world a better place, whether for themselves or some martyr reason? Can appreciation become disrespectful and fetishizing? What if someone has been taught that a perfectly harmless thing is horrible? Or what if something really does have conflicting good and bad values one way or the other? What if being kind and appreciative sacrifices your identity, integrity, and body? When is that OK? And is it OK to enjoy being kind and appreciative? Can someone lose the privilege of receiving appreciation and kindness or does being a unique combination of space, time, and biology enough to receive kindness and appreciation?

So yeah, that’s where I am with my internal dialogue, views on social justice, and my project(s).

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Saturday, January 07, 2017

We're Embedded in a Cycle of Horrible Humanity & Need to Work to Get Out


In the studies for my project/book, the big thing I learned but always knew is how the problems in our come from individuals being embedded in the flow & momentum of life. Individuals just react rather than examine the situations occurring. In this embeddedness, it's easier in the moment to strike out to survive or to gain an upper hand.

We all have notions & talk the talk that we believe peace, compassion & other good things will make the world better. More often than not, though, our instinct & first thoughts are to look out for number 1, our family, our race, our gender, our country, etc.

This survival/ambition instinct only furthers the cycles we're embedded. To rise above it, we need to stop, examine, learn develop wisdom, develop insight, develop empathy, develop compassion, develop forethought. Otherwise we will destroy the world, the environment, each other & ourselves. Break out of cycles, we can develop joy & real appreciation.

I'm not religious, but I think St Francis of Assissi & others knew the importance of this.

I have privilege, but I have instincts & thoughts of survival that get in my way of taking real risks to improve the world. Some people & populations need to focus on survival & compassion for self before acting outward or a mixed approach.

I need to act where & when I can to pull out of the cycle & encourage others to do the same. That often means those I need to act where & when I can to pull out of the cycle & encourage others to do the same. That often means those like me who will listen to me but not to those not like me. It's hard work on myself first then outward.

But the first step is to pull myself & ourselves out of this cycle of angry despair & fear to see its absurdity & destructiveness.

That has probably been my biggest holdup with finishing my novel/project. . .finding out convincing confirmation & argument that this cycle sucks & another approach will benefit us with more joy & appreciation. More work to do.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Time to Act (or at least plan)


I haven't posted in nearly a year. Partly I haven't because time had become scarce.

Mostly, though, I haven't posted anything because I feared hurting people with my words because of ignorance. All the good intentions in the world mean nothing if the end result means good people get hurt, physically or emotionally.

I had started writing a literary criticism that touched upon population that wasn't my own. The path it took had some interesting points, if it stayed within that population. It drifted into another population in way that would likely cause hurt. I axed that criticism because I didn't find it worthwhile anymore. It would enter into major disrespect.

This experience sent me into analysis paralysis. I felt that I needed to learn more now before I could write about difficult topics without causing offense. I also couldn't think up any other relevant topics to post about.

The US Election of 2016, however, has inspired me to act more and write more. It has fired me up, all the hatemongering and fearmongering. I need to do something to help turnaround the collapse of global civilization and the prejudice out there between populations.

For the last week, I've unleashed plenty of raw anger on social media. Following that path will only contribute to the problem. Strategized and/or concerted hatemongering and fearmongering have heightened the horrible sides of society.

I need hone and temper my anger, use it smarter to actually improve the world. Who knows where this will all take me and the world and how fast it will go?

I can't sit idly by, though. The field calls me as I get off the bench on the sidelines. The time has come to act, which can include learning and self care.

The difference between then and now, though: the sense of urgency.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

The Doctor & Audience Needs Some Time to Mourn & Find Ourselves Again


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The other night, the news that Steven Moffat had one more Christmas Special and a season left of Doctor Who hit the Internet. The news also provides notification that the next Doctor Who episode will be the 2016 Christmas Special and the next full season will happen in 2017. Moffat's position as showrunner ends then.

The audience has gone through what boils down to two deaths of very close companions to The Doctor. These two characters mean more to the Doctor than just the characters themselves. Their exiting his life permanently means that he has returned to a solitary life.

Sure, the Doctor has friends out there, like Vastra, Kate Lethbridge-Stewart, Osgood, Martha and Mickey, Captain Jack and whoever else he might have out there. As much as they mean to him, though, he never lets his emotional guard down the way that he has with the Pond Family or even Clara Oswald. Even with Rose, the full Time Lord Doctor never lets down his emotional dampers to express his true love for her.

I think a one-year hiatus will do good for the show dramatically. Even after that, having the Doctor travel alone will would do him and the audience some good (even though apparently 2017 will bring us a new companion). The Doctor has some major mourning and finding himself to do.

Ever since The Silence in the Library, the Doctor's emotional and identity fate has become intertwined with the Pond family. Imagine the surprise of the audience, though, when Moffat actually fulfills the demands of the plot/world building hooks that he leaves laying around.

Clara becomes a footnote. An important one that resolves some major plot points, but nonetheless a footnote crutch to the Doctor avoiding something he has to face. The Husbands of River Song turns on our head the assumption that River and the Doctor have their night at the Singing Towers of Darillium before The Snowmen.

After all, in the DVD extra for Series Six, Last Night, River tells another version of the 11th Doctor that they are going to see the Singing Towers of Darillium. Both Doctors have a downcast moment, both thinking it is the last night.

I like to think that this scene occurs during Let's Kill Hitler, during the length of time that just regenerated Mels poisons the Doctor. He wears the same tux. The Doctor, seeing no way out of death, he fetches River for their last night.

I have no idea what causes him to change his mind, to understand that he somehow makes it through the events of Let's Kill Hitler, but he delays their final night again. Maybe she mentions something about an event he had yet to experience or she makes a comment about the tux. Does she ruminate about him wearing it the first time they met and make a comment about how that was a difficult one but everyone made it through somehow? I don't know, but I imagine something like that.

The Husbands of River Song communicates to the audience that the Doctor delays seeing River once again when they part sometime after The Angels Take Manahattan. Not a surprising reaction for a man who has lost his closest friend, the woman who, in many ways, he has grown into maturity with, having met Amy Pond as a child soon afterregenerating. She also acts somewhat as a mother figure, in some ways.

Losing River means accepting the loss of Amy and that formative part of himself. He needs to develop his own identity and complete his mourning. Avoiding River after that point means that he can put off the hard work of mourning and rebuilding himself.

The Husbands of River Song helps make so much more sense of their parting scene in The Name of the Doctor. The ghost of River knows that he won't see her again until he regenerates. She needs to let him know it hurts, though, something like that is worth expressing. Who doesn't wish they could express the pain from a relationship or interaction after it ended? Who doesn't want that kind of closure?

The Doctor's feeling that he has a "duty of care" to Clara provides context to him delaying seeing River again, from Clara's time as the Impossible Girl to the control freak to her death. Seeing her die twice makes a good explanation for his passion to keep her alive, going as far to make grand speeches about it to trying to break the Rules of Time to keep her alive. After all, doesn't he do the same thing as the Time Lord Victorius for someone he had less connection with?

Trying to stop Clara's death, no matter the cost, now feels like the desperate struggle of the Doctor avoiding his fate. Accepting the death of intimate family then moving on with life with one's own identity is scary. The Doctor doesn't want to accept the responsibility and have to face the existential void of having to find new meaning.

If anything, having this psychodrama continue from one regeneration to the next feels the most peculiar. Then again, upon witnessing the death of a stranger that Doctor knows will become one of his most intimate relationships feels peculiar, too. Such a thing will stay with someone, especially when the sacrificor does it for the other's future. Could the parallel have escaped either of them when Clara jumps into the Doctor's grave/timeline.

The Pond era of the Doctor's life has ended. He may not have to mourn Clara since he has forgotten her. Frankly a lot of the audience also may not care enough to mourn for Clara since they never liked her.

Myself, I prefer her as the Impossible Girl than the control freak. The control freak could have worked just fine if the writing transitioned better between the two versions of her. I have a hard time accepting that the Clara in The Day of the Doctor became the control freak starting in The Time of the Doctor. Showing the transition could have helped there.

Having a year off will help take the edges off the ends of Clara and River (even though both have hooks enough to return if the writers want them to do so). Some of the audience needs to do some of their own mourning. It sounds silly to say it. It is just a TV show, after all!

The world of Doctor Who has been around for more than 50 years, though, whether in the form of television, audio dramas or the written form. Paul McGann may have acted in only two episodes of TV (and one of them only a few minutes long), but the 8th Doctor has affected tons of fans through the Big Finish Audio Dramas.

Even New Who has been on for nearly 10 years. People can't help but make emotional connections to fictitious characters that have lasted this long and even to a few of their ancillary characters. New Who makes this connection especially so as the Doctor has displayed more emotions and vulnerability than the cantakerous patriarch of the TARDIS in Classic Who. He has become easier for the audience to connect with.

A year off may not provide enough transition and mourning, though. As with the transition between the Impossible Girl and the control freak not having enough dramatic play out, the Doctor moving onto another companion too quick might not give enough, either.

Doctor Who has done well transitioning from the tragic loss of companions to taking on a new companion. After Rose's exit in Doomsday, Donna helps the Doctor focus a little and gave him an empathic ear.

Martha doesn't have the best run compared to other companions. Nonetheless, she had a reaffirming exit that may have come as a loss to the Doctor, but he can always visit her. Donna's all but death occurs as the Doctor comes to terms that he militarizes people in place of him actually taking on the responsibility, then the David Tennant Specials helps provide a buffer.

For all intents and purposes, the loss of Amy and Rory hasn't come to its full end. I put Amy's exit in a similar category as Martha's, one of reaffirmation where she exits by her own choice and for her own interests, not by circumstances killing her. She has the choice to abandon Rory to the past, but chooses to go to him. Her heart truly lies with him. It ends well for Amy and Rory.

The Doctor's reaction to Amy's exit leaves one of the worst tastes in my mouth than this show has ever put there. The Doctor acts so childish. He should have more maturity. He's the Doctor!

As the show has shown, he never truly deals with that loss. Does trying not to militarize friends apparently have the effect of making the Doctor more vulnerable and open to more feeling and pain than he has let himself show on broadcast TV.

Maybe Moffat will pull off the Doctor's mourning and transition well in the 2016 Christmas Special. I have my doubts, but he has dealt with most other plot hooks that he left hanging about. Only the hybrid hook possibly remains, but debate has occurred whether that one has already resolved or not. He could have left enough room for someone help him transition and get some focus.

I don't like the idea of him getting a full time companion during the Christmas episode, though. It feels too early.

I like the idea of the Doctor not having a full time companion for Series Ten. From media reports, it sounds like Capaldi will likely exit after Series Ten. The part of the Doctor has proven physically grueling, especially on the knees. Even Matt Smith complained about all the running and physicality doing a number on his knees.

Capaldi's two seasons hasn't felt like two seasons of time. He has had some bright spots as the Doctor, especially his speech at the end of The Zygon Inversion and his performance throughout Heaven Sent.

Still, he hasn't FELT like the Doctor yet, at least not like his own Doctor yet. Even Tennant, the only other New Who Doctor who had the same companion after regeneration, came into his own as the Doctor by the end of his first series.

Capaldi has played the Doctor well. Donning old Doctor's wardrobes has had its cute points, but it doesn't feel like he has come into his own as the Doctor. This lack of coming into the character has made the last series feel like they've just rushed by.

The Doctor's avoiding mourning the Pond family has probably contributed to this situation. Capaldi hasn't felt like he has come into his own because the 12th Doctor still hasn't come into his own.

Now, though, he has little choice but to do so. At least if he doesn't get stuck in an inward depressive cycle. Also continued grim darkness could do the show some disservice. The audience can only take so much. More rompy fun would help the show after so many years of grim dark.

If the Doctor can get through believable mourning during the year hiatus and a Christmas episode, great! I have the feeling it will take a little longer, though.

His functional resolution of mourning Rose doesn't feel to have reached its fruition until Martha told him she couldn't be around him. If not for Martha, he may not have even completed his mourning until he regenerated.

People never really get over the loss of a loved one. Being buried in loss has a part in the process of mourning. Nonetheless, people go through a process. It can end in a positive light or end up with someone stuck in their mourning. Both designations can have believable portrayals and both have a place on TV.

The audience has already seen the Doctor wallow in halted mourning. It lasts a long time and weighs on the patience. In real life, sensitivity to someone in this state can matter a lot. So much prolonged reality doesn't always have its place on television. At the same time, process instead of instant end doesn't provide satisfaction.

However it happens, though, whether the Doctor chooses to live agan during the Christmas Special, at some point in Series 10 or at the end, the audience deserves to go through that journey with him. I hope we get this experience.

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Saturday, November 21, 2015

Introducing The Lexfeed (RSS)


Please behold The Lexfeed! It houses a stream of uncurated daily updated links to news articles, fiction, poems and whatever links that look like they have a passing interest to me that I want to read at some point in the future. The only real principle: these links reside in one place. I offer The Lexfeed for your use, pleasure and learning.

The Internet holds a lot of interesting and entertaining content. It has the problem of disorganization and housing at multiple sources. Links on Facebook, Twitter, blogs and wherever else we might frequent.

My gathering of links as browser bookmarks had gotten out of hand. Bookmarks syncing between all my devices helped.

It didn't do enough, though. I couldn't catch up with reading them all while I neglected the articles that my RSS feeder gathered. Offhand, it doesn't sound bad. Reading stuff is reading stuff. I find different types of articles from people I follow on social media (social justice, writing, science fiction & fantasy, politics, etc) than what I have my RSS feed grab (economics, finance, investing, pop culture, local news, world news, etc).

I would have loved to find way of adding my social media feeds to my RSS feed, but I can't find anyway to do it. Twitter allowed it at some point in the past but not anymore. Social media needs to make money, and it can't do so if people don't use their website or apps.

The Lexfeed provides an imperfect solution. I use the following process: bookmark articles that catch my interest, once per day I post as many of the links to The Lexfeed using the AddThis app on Google Chrome.

This process has a drawback: I can post around 50 links a day this way. Once I hit that point, Blogger starts hitting me with human tests. Understandable. I agree with the spirit. We don't want annoying spiders crawling the Internet or pointless news aggregators looking for hits. As an amateur researcher, I hate automated, redundant news aggregators clogging up search engines.

Sure, I'm looking for hits, but I do what I can to keep the Feed off search engines. I DO aggregate links, but I'm doing it for selfish, not directly profit-oriented purposes. I want to integrate links into my RSS feed that wouldn't otherwise appear there. I offer it to those "in the know" as a side effect while trying to avoid collateral cluttering of the Internet. Hopefully it provides benefit.

If you find The Lexfeed helpful, great! Please don't link to individual entries. Link to the actual articles, stories, whatever it is directly. If someone else wants to access such an unfocused feed and/or put it onto their RSS feed, give them the link to whole blog, not any individual entries.

What's funny: I haven't reached any of these links on my RSS feed yet. So much posting on social media! Someday this process should yield some ROI. I look forward to it.

Link of Interest:

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Can a Passive-Aggressive "You're Welcome" Serve a Larger Purpose for Social Justice?

I encountered a passive aggressive "You're Welcome" today that contradicted how I thought it worked.

Riding my bike home tonight, I crossed straight through a 3-way street/bike trail/park entrance ramp intersection. A woman walking some amount of dogs walked out toward the road from the entrance ramp.

Both us humans stayed on our right, allowing us to pass each other with little issue. Her dog(s), however, were all the way to her left, on my right, the leash(es) blocking my path. Gaining control of the animal(s), she had gotten them back to her side.

I passed them, no trouble at all, with no more thought than returning to monkey brain ruminations my brain engages in when minimally occupied. The incident would have had little mark on my conscious if nothing else occurred.

But the woman yelled "You're welcome." I can't say for sure, but my memory injects an offended tone of voice. I apperceive that this woman expected me to say thank you for her moving the dogs out of my way.

I didn't and still don't feel any obligation to say "thank you" in this situation. It's an issue of me having the "right of way." She didn't have full control of her dogs before I arrived, then she gained control of them, which I view as her obligation.

Frankly, I don't care if she met that obligation before and after my passing. People should maintain full control with cars, since things can happen fast and without warning. On sidewalks, walkways and trails, I don't think it's as big of a deal. These areas have that much more of an informal ambiance to them.

I still think some level of base etiquette has its place here. People don't necessarily have to keep to that base when there's no one else around or there's a common understanding and acceptance of etiquette breaking. Such breaking down of etiquette can communicate an increased closeness between friends and acquaintences.

Between strangers crossing each other on sidewalks, I don't think such break from expectation should occur lightly. Someone breaking away from said etiquette, especially if doing so risks injury to themselves or to a less sentient creature, should not be seen as an act that deserves extra gratitude.

Performing a simple act of decency and treating another person with basic respect does not deserve special attention or congratulations. Getting out of the way of normal traffic to allow normal flow should not deserve reward.

Peventing injury to a suddenly powerless person or unpremeditated uncontrolled animal deserves congratulation. An absent minded person, a person not really caring about their surroundings or someone being careless for their pets until the last minute, not so much.

PREVIOUS EXAMPLE OF PASSIVE AGRESSIVE "YOU'RE WELCOME" THAT I'M OK WITH

Near the end of my bike route to work, I walk my bike on the sidewalk around a corner. The sidewalk has a lot of features that can make for a tight squeeze: entrances to buildings on the left while on the right: a mailbox, garbage and recycling cans, some light posts and even a barrel or two with decorative plants.

To make things even more interesting, there's a bus stop. Not just any bus stop, either. Drivers switch out there. Suffice to say: that ten to fifteen feet of sidewalk can get crowded. It doesn't always provide the roomiest space for passing with a bike alongside.

Two or three times a few months ago, a Woman of Color yelled "You're welcome" at me after I passed. She was obviously a bus driver waiting for the next bus to do a switchout. She and typically someone else would stand back near the wall of the building while I passed by between them and the inanimate objects on the other side of the road.

I could only perceive her "You're welcome" as passive aggressive. We didn't make eye contact, body contact, no other contact other than maybe disturbing the air between us. We didn't know each other.

To me, courtesy dictated that we each had the job of staying out of each other's way. If one of us bumped into the other, one or both of us would apologize and laugh uncomfortably. Maybe one of us would get angry and some type of social transaction would occur, either escalation or de-escalation.

I can see myself de-escalating then slinking away. I created the abnormal situation by taking up more space with my bike. Even if she did the bumping and got angry, I'd probably de-escalate. My main motivation may actually have more to do with avoiding tardiness at work, or maybe I just don't care for pointless confrontation that accomplishes nothing.

(When there's an ideal, breaking of etiquette or a blatant selfish miscommunication, that could short circuit my de-escalation impulses. Breaking etiquette for no good reason just causes a disruption of smooth flow for no good reason.)

The woman's status as a Woman of Color changes the whole dynamic and instills higher ideals into the encounter. I'm a white guy. If our spatial positions were switched in the past, I probably could have harassed her with impunity if she walked by me without any sign of acknowledgment.

Breaking the normal flow of etiquette, this woman engaged in some performance theater, she disrupted the normal everyday to provide some social justice. She provided a reminder of my white male privilege.

I'd like to think that I don't deserve such passive aggression. I'd like to think that I'm a decent person who does the right thing. I'd like to think that the performance theater did more to expose white male privilege to bystanders around us or even to people who hear this story.

Maybe this woman acted passive aggressively out of anger. Maybe she just wanted to get a rise out of a boring environment. Maybe she didn't see herself embodying a larger expression of social justice. Maybe she wanted to escalate an encounter into conflict.

Who knows where she came from. Any non-virtuous motivations could unconsciously put a more meaningful message into the milieu. Even virtuous actions can fortify unjust privilege.

I have a few non-white non-male friends who have no issue confronting me with my privilege or, at the least, bringing up the topic. Numerous people have told me I'm a decent guy, but I often find myself like a deer wide-eyed in the face of headlights when my privilege becomes uncovered and raised to the conscious level.

Rounding that corner, being the target of performance theater, brought to my attention that unconscious privilege and the history of injustice such privilege hides. Maybe I am a decent guy who treats people right. I should still have the consciousness of that history and its implications.

Who was it that said something to the effect that we study history so we don't repeat it. I like to try acting kind as much as I can. I like to remain conscious of those efforts. People sometimes express an uncomfortable amount of gratefulness at me trying to be decent. Others say that I try harder than I need to, that I do too much out of conscientiousness.

I fear that by not trying so hard to act decent, my decency will fade from lack of practice. I fear without consciousness of decency, my decency will fade for lack of practice. I see decency as a habit, a muscle even.

Without discipline, acknowledgment and working it, pushing it, decency will atrophy and fade. Being a dick and looking for short-term selfish reward can have an appeal for the conscious mind.

It has the appeal of laying back on the couch watching TV all the time. The body atrophies, weakens and so does the mind. Unhappiness and tiredness seep in. Inertia slows things down. The body and mind will let itself dissolve and fall apart until death occurs. The body and mind has little reason to stick around, no challenge, so it eventually removes itself from wasting resources.

This Women of Color did me and society a service. It exposed an unhealthy habit and sparked a remembrance of the damage caused by social injustice. We need these reminders sometimes, so we remember the capacity for injustice humanity has and know what to exercise against for a better, stronger more intersubjective society.

I don't deserve cookies or any reward for these thoughts. I don't deserve a pat on the back. I don't want any of that. I just want to be a decent person. I want a decent society, one that will throw off this bullshit treatment of each other, even as we remember the bullshit so we know to avoid it. I'm idealistic, but I like to think a society of people treating each other more decent, more openly, more honestly, more justly, more valuing, more enjoying all walks of life will lead to an experience that is rewarding all in itself.

This is also probably nothing new. My privilege has likely blinded to instances such as this in the past. To me, this is a sharing to interact with the world and to understand it more, not to say that I've provided any great insight. Others probably have a better perspective on these matters than me. I hope to see and hear more, so my perspective can expand. I encourage other readers to seek out more perspectives on such matters, if you don't already have any, or to share your perspective to add to the mix.

The woman with the dog this evening was white, so I have a hard time thinking of any good purpose for her passive aggressive "You're welcome." Am I wrong? Did I engage in some injustice by just wanting to breeze by, wanting to get home, avoid a storm, and not have any lasting memory during my commute home? Am I blind to another aspect of my privilege?

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Fixing the World Starts with Fixing Ourselves: Learning to Appreciate Our Humanities as Step to Peace


I wrote the following while having an e-mail conversation with a friend about the US bombing of the Doctors Without Border hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan. At this point, the conversation had gotten into whether the US should intervene or not in other countries. I got into the nuance that intervention is a broad term that can also refer to providing aid to civilians. My expansion into how arguing anti-intervention can back you into a corner if you're pro-aid for "non-aligned" citizens yielded the following:

One issue with providing aid to people of a country with a dictator but doing nothing about the dictator, you're somewhat enabling the dictator. But if there's sanctions, then we're really not doing anything because then either other countries can come in to help (see Russia and Syria) or the dictator of the country can become isolationist & use the US as the icon of evil (see North Korea).

It's difficult.

But I think like any kind of social change, it starts with ourselves. The other night on the Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore (around 17:12), Eddie Huang said that one of the steps to a lot of unrest in the Middle East, we should just provide freedom of mobility. He even made a joke about giving them Clear Water, FL.

That's an OK start, but do you know what? This country of ours is pretty prejudiced, racist, against Muslims, etc., anything that doesn't fit the norm of "white culture." Heck, our ageism against younger people is also causing radicalization of our own citizens born and bred here.

Look at all the school/work shootings in our country, people defecting to ISIS and shit like that. We have to work on ourselves and be more accepting to ALL people unless there is fact-based evidence against an individual of a crime they have performed.

One of the panelists on that Nightly Show panel made a great joke that the US shouldn't export their policing because we can't even police well in our country. See black or brown skin, SHOOT! Or, at least harass.

But even if people are subtle with their racism, it makes other people feel less human & more angry. Same thing probably happens with those school/work mass shootings. Other people treat them like shit, they feel less human & more angry, they want to be acknowledged. How do they do that when no one will respect them normally?

Look at the latest public back and forth feud between Miley Cyrus and Nicki Minaj. Miley is basically telling Nicki that she shouldn't be listened to because she's so brash and disrespectful. Well, Nicki's being brash and disrespectful because um, white people will shut her up otherwise. It's either be loud or be invisible. The politics of respectability is BS because it's used to silence.

But we're definitely stuck in a difficult place. Where's that line of where it's OK to act out because your being silenced & being violent for self-(respect) defense? Is having your humanity picked away by micro aggressions just a slow murdering of someone?

I think the solution will start with people who have privilege and power examining themselves, their beliefs, their meta-psychology, their meta-ethics, history, human nature and shit, see how we make our enemies in our propping up our narcissism and our own lack of self worth & self esteem. Then we need to support each other by helping each other examine ourselves and see our own problems.

And that's probably one sticking point of my college project. This has been the primordial base of my hypothesis/issue. But our world is just a horrible example of getting this kind of positive intersubjectivity working well. And it's not because it's against nature, but because it's hard to maintain. Humans have fragile souls, but we need to learn how to treat them with care as a form of prevention.

The follow up question is definitely how to return someone to humanity after they've fallen off the cliff, even the asshole racists, sexists, homophobes and other people who project their fears and angers onto others?

Anybody have any suggestions or perspective for promoting this type of approach to add?

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Amplifying Green Party POTUS Candidate, Jill Stein's Intersectional Statements on Twitter


I don't pay attention to Twitter all throughout the day a lot and only through my starred favorites, so this is probably only a small proportion of what she said yesterday and before. Nonetheless, the statements say enough to make me OK with not even with adding to the entry, especially since I don't want my maleness to outshine Dr. Stein.

I would think any amount of fame that she has gotten through her political career outshines my privilege from maleness. It doesn't matter. The Tweets quoted below are the important part. Read them. Take them and Dr. Stein seriously as a viable candidate for the United States President in the 2016 Election.

Even though she's late to the party, I think she issues better statements on these issues than Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton put together. As for the Republicans, they have to fight hard to get attention from me, and Mr. Trump definitely repels me.