Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Failed Clinton/DNC Campaign for POTUS Contributed to My Volunteering for Ameya Pawar

I’ll admit, my volunteering for the Ameya Pawar for Governor of Illinois campaign has something of a twofold motivation, long-term political strategy and short-term-plus emotional drive. The long-term political strategy has provided me the primary impetus for participation, dry as the explanations may come out. My dry strategy comes largely, as I have said many times before, from my studying, a build up of rage against [45] from the day he announced his running for POTUS that reached a breaking point after Charlottesville and his speeches afterward, and many discussions on social media about the the election, the Democratic party, and how to shorten the scourge of [45]. Charlottesville provided me the final push into action while the discussions and research for them provided me the building materials for developing my strategy.

Three online articles/essays come distinctly to mind for this situation. I didn't have a good organizing system for bookmarking or had thought about the importance of doing so at the time (I recently just installed Google Bookmark Manager onto Chrome, which I think should help), so for at least one of these articles, I had to find the most equivalent or better article to list here. Not much of a loss, though, as I had remembered the facts wrong from one of the articles. The articles/essays are:

  • The Democrats' Biggest Disaster - The DNC has focused so much on National campaigns that they've lost ground in local and state politics, weakening them on the national level and having a lot to do with enthroning [45] and getting majority GOP seats in the Senate and House
  • Clinton fundraising leaves little for state parties: The Democratic front-runner says she's raising big checks to help state committees, but they've gotten to keep only 1 percent of the $60 million raised. (The last bit is the tagline, but I think it describes the article perfectly)
  • Why the Democratic Bench Is So Thin - GOP did a great job recruiting my cohort generation (I'm on the tail end of X, just a couple years away from being a Millennial), but the Democrats didn't do so well. Historical life shaping events, like the Housing Crash/Great Recession, also didn't help
I'll start with my opinion on Hillary Clinton and the DNC fundraising scandal. There might be some misrepresentation with the promotion of their plans for funds they raised (even George Clooney had the impression that more money would go to downticket state campaigns!), which could violate an element of trust and maybe even law somewhere. Misrepresenting your goals for funds raised to run an entrepreneurial venture or funds raised for charity or assistance to be delivered can get you into some major trouble, probably moreso than what some people see on Kickstarter.

Mostly, though, I view this activity as misdirected goals that showed a misperception of the politics and opinions about the DNC, Clinton, and the importance of the downticket races and elected positions. Corruption, to me, feels like a hard accusation to stick. Political parties are strange animals, being more of a private entity than a public governmental organization or committee. They have a lot more freedom than we like to think. If anything, look at all the different approaches they have to run primaries. A lot of us know that they can have Open Primaries, Cauceses, and all types of mixed ways of picking their candidate for the general election.

Utah (PDF from a Utah government website about elections) has an interesting process for parties to choose their candidates, which provides two routes. A candidate can get on the primary ballot by being handpicked by their party however the party wants.

The second way a candidate can get onto the ballot is by getting enough petition signatures to get onto the ballot. A party would prefer the first route, but the State made a law requiring qualified parties to accept the petition signature route, too. So, yes, states can make laws regulating Primaries, Caucuses, etc. but they generally don't do much other than providing access to get onto the ballot, as far as I believe. They probably do some election fundraising regulation, too, along with the Federal government doing some of that, too, but it's mostly about allowing people avenues to get into primary elections and caucuses.

I think even in the case of Hillary and the DNC, they skirted by a lot of regulation to avoid breaking fundraising laws. Wrong priorities, as plenty of articles point out (including one that I linked to), along with common facts known by a lot of us and at least one news story I heard on the radio. Clinton and the DNC didn't put enough boots on the ground and campaign enough, person to person. As we all know, she didn't visit Wisconsin during the 2016 campaign and I believe a few other states, too. I believe voter suppression played a part in these locales, but I think showing her face could have done a bit more to sway these voters.

One radio news story really sticks out for me, though. NPR had broadcasted it. It focused on race in the election, as we did in 2016. The reporter interviewed a black woman some distance from a population center in Florida, I believe. She said that she preferred Clinton to win the election, but the woman didn't feel that motivated to go out to vote because she had no real exposure to Clinton. Even if some volunteer had come out, knocked on her door, and talked to her about Clinton would likely have been enough to motivate her to go out to vote Clinton.

Say what you will about we all have a duty and responsibility to vote in our Democratic Republic (and I agree with you to a point), but I sympathize with this woman. Since the beginning of the 2016 Election when discussing with people on social media, especially about Bernie Sanders, I criticized both Sanders and Clinton for not reaching out to marginalized people and that they were so off point with their messaging to marginalized people (especially black people), that neither of them would get the necessary votes from marginalized people, mainly because they wouldn't even bother to come out to vote.

The marginalized vote was essential to getting the win in the General Election. Maybe the the ethnic/racial white still is the majority of the population, but we, for the most part, probably have a roughly even split between parties and motivation to actually vote. This especially is the case if Hispanics, Jews, and other white-skinned ethnicities are taken into account as marginalized people. In essence, the white vote alone wouldn't win for the Democratic candidate.

At an event about engaging in self care after [45] won the election, I overheard a black woman say "Now the liberals know how it feels [when society and the government doesn't reach out and even strikes out at you]!" How much time had passed from police shootings of black people reaching public consciousness and nothing substantially being done to prevent the deaths of black people to [45] winning? How long have black families and heritage been destroyed by slavery with no state-provided restitution or resources being provided to help create stability and support in black families and communities to [45] winning? How long has society ignored schools in predominantly black neighborhoods and pushed scorn and apathy on black children and teenagers rather than taking them seriously as young students to [45] winning? How long have black people been scrutinized morally to receive material support (if they can even get it) to [45] winning? How long have black people and communities simply been tossed aside by society to [45] winning? And this is just the second largest skin-color demographic, though one of the most downtrodden by society. Compared to other demographics, economic class distribution looks horrible.

Arguably, about half of black people in the USA have fought through selection bias, aggressions, and micro-aggressions of society but even these successful African Americans face prejudice and aggression. Who was the sports celebrity who was treated horribly by some cops and worried that he might get shot? Even when they try, black people get shit on because of bigotry. "Merit" only gets you so far or protects so much if you're not white, cis-male, straight, Christian, etc.

There are abstract arguments that voting is an irrational activity, but for most of the black community, I would say it's a-rational. Even if the person they want gets into office, they still will likely not see great results coming from it. Most of us love to have seen Obama get into office, but when it comes to the day to day lives of marginalized people, especially black people and immigrants, things really didn't get that much better. Even the improvements for the LGBT community are getting attacked by [45] and the Right to take away what meager gains they had gotten. At the most, Obama helped expose things to the daylight, so we could all see the inequities and injustices in our country, if we care enough to look.

So, honestly, I think this black woman in the backwoods expressed a lot of charity by suggesting that if a Clinton campaign volunteer had just knocked on her door and talked about Clinton with her, she would have very likely go out to vote for Clinton. Sure, Clinton had gotten a lot of the black female vote, but she needed more distributed throughout the country. Something simple as this, why didn't Clinton do it? Suppression is an argument for her not getting in office, but she also didn't do the outreach to motivate people coming out to vote for her and provide a counterpoint to suppressors.

To me, the success of Obama's campaigns came down to him having volunteers going door to door EVERYWHERE. One of our most popular Presidents ever faced an uphill battle, against Clinton even, and the DNC and Clinton hadn't learned the importance of outreach to people. Sure, she may not have had gotten as many volunteers as Obama, but when just public appearances in a state can make a difference, she should have done so.

I voted Clinton in the General Election. I wanted her to win. I think she would have made a great President (obviously much better than [45]). I think she's very capable and skilled in politics. Heck, I'm impressed with her work ethic when she learned about healthcare, put together presentations, and tried getting healthcare reform through the government during Bill's Presidency. She inspired the hell out of me with her speech and other polticians' speeches about her at the Democratic Convention that chose her as the Democratic candidate for POTUS. I wrote her a four or five page letter to notify her that she had inspired me, I really wanted her to win, and that we needed an inspiration like her to get the American people engaged in the fate of our nation and to strengthen the social fabric.

Unfortunately, these fundraising issues, the lack of support for downticket candidates by the DNC, and lack of outreach just shows how out of touch they were with the Electorate and citizens of this country. I love the fact that Clinton actually got the real majority of the vote, but those votes came from Democratic strongholds, and not even from the states that we expected to be strongholds. She needed to win the Electoral College, not the majority. I know a lot of people don't care for the Electoral College, but I think it has its place along with a proposal that I have to provide it a check and balance.

But I'm going to pause this epic here: Clinton and the DNC were out of touch. I don't think the results had to do with the issues, that it had to do with coming up with policies or promises for the White Working Class alone, the opioid crisis, that she criticized [45] too much, or that she focused too much on identity politics. No, I think the DNC and Clinton were both just so plain out of touch with actual people and didn't know that they had to engage in more face-to-face outreach and to provide a lot stronger support for downticket candidates, in person and financially. If that had occurred, I think the Democratic Party wouldn't have gotten smacked around so bad.

This revelation plays a big part in fueling my action and even provides some of the building materials for my strategy. This part didn't end up so dry, either. I want to get something posted, though, and I'm realizing now that I've got just as much, if not more, material to write about the age/generation issue then also how my history research has contributed to my strategy. Please stay tuned in for more.

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Sunday, September 17, 2017

Ramping Up My Activism: Calling US Senators and Congressperson

The last week or so I've ramped up my political action. It's been a rollercoaster of emotions journey and has given me some challenges to overcome and to learn from. My actions have included:

  • Calling my Senators and Representative in the US government to register my support, my discontent, and my thoughts on some of the legislation and actions taken by the Senate and the House of Representatives
  • Started volunteer work for the Ameya Pawar campaign for the Illinois Governorship
Frankly, both activities go against my somewhat shy nature. Maybe it's my empathic nature where, for myself, I prefer certain contexts for being solicited or approached by someone else, and I don't have many contexts where I like being approached by most strangers (even when I'm shopping or something like that). So if I don't like being approached, why would I approach someone else in that context?

Calling the office of a Senator or Representative doesn't necessarily make me so prickly. Their job is to represent me and my fellow citizens in their state and districts, so part of their job is to know what me and my fellow citizens want and need for them to do in our governmental institutions. Plus if they didn't want to make direct contact with someone, they can hire someone to take calls and messages for them. Honestly, I would be fine just leaving them a voicemail if my opinion and feelings reached them.

My challenge comes down to location of where I would make the phone calls. Let's just say TPTB at my 9-5 don't have the same political sympathies as me, so I don't want them hearing my political business. The summer has made things a little easier (especially at this point when the humidity and heat has calmed the hell down, at least had for a few weeks. . .), so I found somewhere outside to get away to. I'll just have to see what happens when the cold weather sets in.

I delayed making the first call because I had to get organized. I wanted to know what I wanted to call about and what I wanted to say. The first part gave me little trouble: [45] deciding to end DACA in six months triggered my rage to ramp up a couple levels. I tried writing a script for myself then said screw it. I didn't want to sound wooden and didn't really think a phone call was the appropriate time/space for some rando citizen to go on a minute long tirade or diatribe. I didn't think of it then, but I also figure that the number of callers play a more important than necessarily the eloquence of an individual caller.

Instead, I looked up the Senator I wanted to call and DACA/DREAM Act and saw that they were involved in the committee that dealt with these topics before bringing it to the rest of the Senate and that he supports the passage of the DREAM Act. I called, reached the person who answers the phone and records the sentiments of the citizen calling, told them how I felt, acknowledged that they recorded how I felt, then we hung up.

I feel like I only made one mistake: referring to the Senator by their first name. The person I spoke with did a favor and politely referred to them as Senator, which helped me realize the mistake. I resolved to keep in mind not to do that again and refer to a Senator as Senator [last name] and Congressperson as Congressperson [last name]. Didn't dwell on it much more than that as I chocked it up to inexperience and nervousness.

That night, I set up a spreadsheet (because that's what I do these days, set up spreadsheets to stay organized, don't we all?). On the left side, I type in the causes/acts/actions, list on the top Senators and Congressperson, then type in N/A for nothing to call them on or write in the date I called them to discuss. At some point, I want to add my state government officials representing me to do the same thing, maybe also my county and city officials, too. Look out, government officials, I'll be calling you.

Something else occurred that night that helped develop the tactics for the next day. I had originally planned to call my other Senator, but looking through my e-mails from the organizations that I have regular donations set up, I learned that in a couple days, the House would be voting on HB3697 The Criminal Alien Gang Member Removal Act and everything about it sounded horrible. I called my Congressperson the next day, told them that I appreciate their support for the DREAM Act and wanted them to vote against HB3697 because it felt cruel, unAmerican, and inhuman since a lot of action in it just required suspicion, not actual evidence or proof.

To build on some type of interaction feedback loop, the person at the Congressperson's office I spoke with notified me that it's offically called the DREAM Act of 2017 since there are DREAM Acts from previous years, too. Using that information, I called the other Senator the next day and made sure to tell them that I supported their stance on the DREAM Act of 2017. In the meantime, though, I had learned the radio that day or the day before that the Far Right in Congress want to attach funding for the Mexican Wall and more Border Security in the DREAM Act of 2017, so I made sure to let them know that I was against all that and that I wanted a good, reasonable and moral/ethical DREAM Act of 2017, not one that will make things worse.

It feels like I'm a node or hub of intercourse for all these matters as I listen to the news, read up on my e-mails that provide news and information on these acts and legislation up for debate and votes, keep up with friends and others affected by the actions of Congress and the President, and even listening to people I'm speaking on the phone at the offices of my Senators and Congressperson. By the last phone call to one of my Senators for the week, I actually felt like I was providing information to the office that they may not have had on hand (unless they just had a really good, personable person on the phone who knows how to make a person feel valued and worth listening to).

I plan to make more phone calls to my representatives as weather and opportunities give me opportunities. I'll probably even rehash one topic with the first Senator's office as I have refined my knowledge and the situation has developed more then move onto some additional topics that have come to my attention over the weekend. I might actually enjoy becoming known and friendly with the people who answer the phones. For the most part, my Senators and Congressperson generally stand for the things that I do, so, if anything, they'll appreciate getting my support not just in the voting booth, but also over the phone. They may even get familiar with my name, as they hear it over the phone and through petitions, faxes, and other forms of communication they receive from me.

We'll see what happens there. For now, though, I'll have to end this blog entry. I had planned to get into volunteering for the Ameya Pawar for IL Governorship campaign, but it got late. I didn't expect to write so much about calling my representatives. You should do it, too. I want to write about volunteering for the campaign sometime later this week, though. That work really gave me the emotional roller coaster and has done more to develop my thinking on electoral politics and citizenship, so the next one will get into some amount of political philosophy wonk. It should be interesting and emotional.

I hope to see you come back!

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Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Project Update: Republicanism and Contributing to Society

I have accumulated a few things to blog about. I originally thought about posting it under one entry, but

  1. That would take a huge block of time and
  2. It would break guidance that I had given myself and blogged about in the past. When possible to break a topic or chunk of writing into multiple parts, do it. For one, it allows for releasing something in the first place rather than just keep adding to it preventing it from release. Two, it shows some type of progress. And three, holding back parts and future releases provide incentive for people to come back.
That being said, I'll post things piecemeal.


Over the last few weeks, after finishing The Healing Power of Doing Good, I started reading Citizenship & Community: Civic Republicanism & The Modern World by Adrian Oldfield (side note: Holy Crap! This book goes for $170 new on Amazon, and I'm able to borrow it from the Chicago Public Library. Love the library). For those who blanch at seeing me reading a book about republicanism, note that I'm reading it to get a better understanding about why many of the early citizens of the US really liked republicanism and tried to get the rest of the population into it.

You might blanch, however, in that Oldfield has made some good arguments to make republicanism appealing. Disclaimer first: I've only read about one third of the book so far, and I've run into a couple statements that strike me as a little problematic and seem to make some form of exclusion as inherent to republicanism. Oldfield has already alluded that he will address the matter of how to include and exclude entities into citizenship of a republic, so I will hold my judgment until I'm done reading the book.

I think some excerpts of my words on social media about the topic will help paint a picture of my thoughts on republicanism:

From this point, I'll quote my own words from the Facebook thread on the topic because the interesting conversation that coaxed my thoughts out on the topic happened there. People posted their own thoughts, so I expanded on my interpretation of republicanism and how the Republican party did or did not fit the definition, at least, as I understood it.
Well classical liberalism basically comes down to "get off my lawn and let me do what I want, and I'll stay off your lawn, too!" aka protecting negative rights.

Republicanism is definitely a trickier one ro define. Some say it's government without a monarch. Others will say it's government of the people FOR the people, meaning that the republicanism is about people engaging in civics, government, and politics as a form of duty for the betterment of their nation, and also acting on the local level to build community and strengthen the web of society.

Frankly, I see the difference between the GOP and DNC is the GOP has a little trouble saying "get off my lawn" or even "get out if my town/country" while the DNC says "let's figure the best way to provide for everyone, so we can minimize how much we have to go onto eaxh other's lawns."

Between the two, I prefer the DNC approach. Nonetheless, both of them really do neglect that we are social creatures and we would benefit ourselves if we worked directly and personally to benefit each other, along with some of the government programs. Some current day Republicans believe that and the GOP may have a better handle on the propaganda, but both parties could work harder to encourage it.
Someone else showed curiosity about the hypothesis, but they wanted more examples and concrete discussion to show how well the hypothesis actually fit reality. Could be an interesting task, but I don't have the time for it, especially with how social media arguments can drag out forever and require plenty of research and link hunting. LIke I said, I don't have the time for it and have a lot more other things I would rather be doing. That being said, I responded as follows:

The reasoning is mostly based in definitions, mostly implicit, but also explicit as exposited by Wikipedia, some books I'm reading to understand American culturo-political history, and smatterings of discussions here and there.

And I guess I could drag out examples upon examples of how the political do and don't meet these definitions, but honestly, I don't have time. It would mostly be done to back up a FB assertion, and an FB debate on this topic could easily take up days, if not weeks. . .I'll just rely on group think here.

However, feel free to provide counter examples against my assertion. And I'm not saying counter examples of individual outliers. I'm talking examples from party stances and leadership.

In some ways, though, I would say Obama tried to encourage republicanism in his farewell speech. Hillary even tried to point out her republicanism, especially on her younger years of pro-bono work & things she did to help families & women.

Heck, part of me wonders now if the problem some people had with Clinton was too much true republicanism & that she was calling people of this nation to duty.
My readings into republicanism also sparked the next post:

Someone made a cynical remark on Facebook that if we followed that rule, "all the Republicans" wouldn't meet the definition, so I responded with the following:
I wouldn't say ALL. There are at least a couple who sincerely believe in dedicating themselves to the good of the nation (and I expect voted against Trump). For instance, interview I heard of Rep Adam Kinzinger (David Axelrod interview of US Congressman Adam Kinzinger for a district in Illinois) leads me to think he might be one of the good ones. Nonetheless, they're few and far between & I'm learning a little more that Republicanism may actually have requirement to be based on the exclusion of non-citizens at certain times, and they have a too easy time deciding when non-citizens don't matter.
Also, in that thread, I started ruminating about a couple problematic issues regarding the initial post.
And now I've already the problematic in this statement: What about people without capability to contribute & help because of disability or just plain opportunity or skill? Republicans would probably argue my original point (work requirement to get welfare benefits, etc).
Followed by
I guess one answer to allowing disabled people into citizenship would be that it gives able people an opportunity to contribute.

And as for people without opportunity or skill, working on research, education, or job skill training with a contributory plan/goal could be a worthwhile requirement.
So republicanism as a concept compels me. I feel pulled to the end of this book figure how Oldfield goes about explaining the process of determining who is and who is not a citizen of a specific republic.

I appreciate the aspects of repbulicanism that argue that citizens have a duty to contribute toward crafting the social fabric and political fabric to give them their character and make it a positive thing. Over the last a couple months (unfortunately the last couple months), I've come to take on that duty as an imperative responsibility that we should all take up.

Frankly, I've gotten a little disappointed in the lack of response to my latest activism in electoral politics (more on that in future) because I've seen plenty of complaints that people need to do more than social media activism and voting. They seem to believe that going to protests and rallies and calling their elected representatives to provide support or recrimination will do the work they see needs to happen. I believe the good of the social fabric requires more, including participation in electoral campaigns, and I hope to goodness that others will see it, too.

I still hesitate to fully stand behind this republicanism, however, for the reasons that I pointed out: some people don't have the capability to contribute and participate. Some people receive recrimination and even violence when they try to participate or even when they just want to live with affecting other people, so they don't have the opportunity to really participate. When people receive that kind of treatment by a social fabric or a political system or execution of said political system, I can't get behind it.

For all I know, I'm a convert to socialism, communitarianism, Associationism, or some other system that has more of an inclusive and welcoming approach to the people involved in it. I still have more research to do, but the idea that people who have the ability and opportunity have the duty and responsiblity to participate and contribute to the social fabric and politic system, rather than just to seek liberty from it and other people, really attracts (even though some amount of liberalism needs to be included, too). As I said a time or two in my social media posts and threads: A poltiical and social system BY the people FOR the people.

Also seeing Oldfield discuss the differences between republicanism and liberalism has given me some material to use for my current essay. People's reaction to the community does have some origin in the tension between republicanism and liberalism. It will still require some work to mold this argument and attach concrete history to it. On the bright side, my first draft just needs the argument and trace concrete history. I had most of the examples later while doing rewrites.

Interesting project experience that loops back to the last entry: Earlier this week and many times in the past, I ruminated a lot over my definition of utopia and dystopia, how they related to all the different facets of diversity discussions and activism and the different arguments involved, and also the basis of good/evil and right/wrong in these types of situations when the mighty who keep winning can easily fall back on might makes right.
Then I remembered my main goal: emotional attunement. Without emotional attunement or at least the possibility of it (since individuals on their own can fall out of emotional attunement by no fault of society then cause the people around them and throughout society fall out of attunement for all the wrong reason), people feel wrong and seriously wrong. I also need to work to understand emotional attunement more, so I can discuss this matter more. Nonetheless, at this point, having it as a goal at least, helps a lot when having these tough questions running through my head and I don't have a "logical" or "provable" answer.

Well, there's that update. I'll have more project updates at some later date. Sooner than that, though, I plan to provide some updates on activism and an essay I'm forming in my mind about the housing bubble burst ten years ago, how high and low taxes can help encourage or discourage such phenomenon, and how this argument actually makes for an interesting argument for higher taxes on risky entrepreneurial behavior. Stay tuned for more!

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Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Goals, Intention, and Emotional Attunement

I plan to get a little personal this time, but I do it in service of expounding on my projects and activism. The last month or so has woken me up into a combined flurry of rage (at the government), research and learning, and processing projects, life, my goals, and my relating with other people. All this reminds me and teaches me the reason for doing all this.

My focus and goal is to understand people’s need for emotional attunement and how society, cultures, communities, families, and other social institutions assist people to feel attuned. Studying and writing utopianism and dystopianism, especially with a focus on the reasons for people wanting to be in them or not, has an obvious connection to try to understand emotional attunement. The same goes for activism, the desire to increase emotional attunement in the world. I can’t say I have all the answers from these ventures, or that I have many answers, but maybe I’ll figure a few along the way with a couple questions to add to the world, too.

I’ve focused a bit on the personal level of emotional attunement over the last week. Without getting into details, I’ve run into a situation or two in which I’ve felt a little more excluded and isolated lately. I have had a little comfort that a fair share of married men around my age feel this way. It also makes a little more sense of why men have a higher mortality rate after the loss of a wife, usually from their death but maybe also from divorce. Suffice to say, I’ve gotten lazy about meeting new people and have gotten a little too dependent on my wife for meeting new people and making connections.

Probably the biggest issue I’ve had lately comes down to my mind going blank in social situations. I wouldn’t call myself shy or anything because I don’t get anxious in anticipation of social situations or while in them. My mind just goes blank because I can’t come up with anything to say, like I don’t have the knowledge available for a conversation or the data to break the ice. I’m probably dealing with a confidence issue, but it’s not because of emotion but because of lacking knowledge and practice.

When my social experiences don't make sense, I find myself scouring the Internet, typing all types of questions into handy dandy Google. Part of this scour session settled on tips for questions to ask and things to say about yourself when at networking events.

One of the suggestions really struck me as useful: After saying hello and/or exchanging names, say something like “I’m here to [state your intention], how about you?” Extrapolating on that for a social party, you can say something like “I know [host/relate connection to host] through [reason for connection], how about you?” I really like this approach for social situations because if you don’t share something about yourself, it could come off as gatekeeping. An old habit I used to have at parties was grilling people to find something in common, but I could see them getting the impression that they're being gatekeeped or interrogated, too.

Then it hit me: having and knowing your intention, what you want to do in the moment, what you want to do in your situation, what you want to do in the medium term, what your goals are in life goes a long way. I don’t mean in any spiritual way, but maybe in some profound psychological way, both in the way we think of ourselves and the way we project ourselves.

Honestly, I feel silly realizing this at age 39. Teachers, parents, attempted role models try telling us to figure this shit out, so we can pave a path for our careers and college paths. This evening, I witnessed on the 'L' an older man lecturing a couple of high schoolers about the importance of doing good in school, staying in school, staying out of the gangs, doing well in college, then getting a good career. His focus for them was to get the girl, which makes for a deficient goal to me. Sure, having a good relationship helps with happiness, but (thinking the kids want a girlfriend and settled down with a girl jumps to an assumption -- what if they're asexual or homosexual and) this kind of advice doesn't go far enough. Kids need enouragement to think about things more concretely and come up with more specific but grander goals and plans.

Through privilege, my focus on reacting to my environment rather than acting on it because I didn’t have perspective, and just having the right amount of mental stimulation without concrete inspiration or steady emotional attunement, I didn’t fully understand the consequences of mortality, the vastness of potential out there, and the limitations that come from human prejudice, lack of imagination, and ignorance. Without that kind of persective, I couldn't understand my potential to affect the world or become more attuned with it. Now I plan to have goals and intentions in mind, from why I'm walking from one side of the house to the other to what I plan to accomplish with my life.

And I believe this goal setting for discovering what does and does not work for emotional attunement will have twofold results. First, it will provide me concrete goals to aim for (even though I may need to work more on benchmarking). More importantly, though, I feel like it will help me attune to society and other people better. Seeing a goal and working toward it will provide focus and flow. It will also help to connect with people and institutions/organizations that connect with my goal (and who doesn't connect with wanting emotional attunement?), which I believe will load to more flow and attunement with other people and enjoyment from interacting with them. After all, what is more compelling and attractive than someone with a plan and the humbleness not to be boring about it?

I look forward to it.

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Sunday, September 03, 2017

Take Me Out on a Lexdate: Buy Me a Coffee! and also Project Update and A Week of Armchair Tweets


As you can see all over The Lextopia and my social media, I have generated all these links about buying me a coffee. My wife, Michi Trota, turned me onto Ko-Fo, a service that allows for one-time minimal-cost low-amount support from people who love a creator's content. In general, the idea is that a supporter is buying the creator a cup of coffee (though I don't object to receiving more!).

I wrote the following as my elevator profile:

Spiritual, communitarian geek ruminating on culture, writing & utopia. Also an amateur science fiction and academic writer and activist (stress the amateur for activist).
My message to petition for support:
For many years now, I have been working on an ambiguously dystopian novel and a collection of essays on utopianism and dystopianism, as assigned to me in college, but I hope to make a product for public consumption someday. I have also posted and written for my blog, The Lextopia, which I hope has entertained, educated, opened eyes, and raised questions. I may engage in some social and political activism while I'm at it.

Upon completing the novel and collection of essays, I would love to make a career in writing, fiction, non-fiction, and maybe academia.

My current projects don't pay the bills, so I have to work the day job. Neither does a writer necessarily make a living wage without making it big or working long long hours. It takes a fair amount of time and effort to produce and release my work. Not only should we all get paid for good work that is enjoyed, but money helps free up time for me to actually make it. Working a day job pays the bills but does leave me with little time and energy. You can help make more for you to enjoy.
So if you like what you see here and in the past and want to free me up for more, support my endeavors by Buying Me a Coffee. I appreciate any and all support that you can provide.


I've had a strange flurry of online research and organizing my thoughts over the last month or so. At some point on this here blog, I wrote something about my research about late 18th-century and 19th-century US politics and bits of history has informed my understanding of today while today's annoying state of things has influenced my understanding of the times I'm researching. My big advances here involves electoral politics and how the census gets involved in determining the number of seats in the House and Electoral College, especially the bits about how even people that get counted in the census but can't vote still enter into the count to determine the number of seats.

Knowing that aspect also sheds a lot on the competition that states can have against each other to compete for people to live in their borders. Or on the other hand, the underhanded and, as I see it, immoral and unethical actions to increase the population by putting into law and practice actions that go against populations (such as voter suppression, doing things that encourage as much pregnancy and birth as possible, fighting against birth control, etc. etc.).

But I fear that the above has re-hashed some stuff I've mentioned in a previous entry.

I think my biggest accomplishment over the last couple weeks has been to come up with mapping thoughts and ruminations in an orderly fashion through what I can best call an argument flow chart. It comes down to putting the main topic on the top left side then writing lines to the right with branching topics then connecting topics/facts/arguments that support the levels above it. I hope it will help organize and provide me with sense of the topics that I'm wrestling.

Other than that, doing a lot of reading of many library books that I've taken out over the last few months and just keep renewing. Hopefully they will make even more sense of things along with my new strategy to order information, so I can actually write something that I feel confident about.


If you like what you see here and in the past and want to free me up for more, support my endeavors by Buying Me a Coffee.