Saturday, February 25, 2017

Project and Politics/Social Justice Update: Productive but Normalized Complacency?


I have plans to do some tabletop gaming tomorrow (D&D 5th Edition), so I want to try doing my usual Sunday night stuff tonight. That way I hope that I can get to bed at a good time tomorrow. Hopefully I won’t have to squeeze a bunch of maintenance activity into the night before having to get up early the next day. One of those activities putting together this weekly update (even though I’d prefer to do the update on a Friday or Saturday, anyway).

Not a ton of progress on project stuff occurred this week, but the progress made had more quality than quantity. I edited a couple more pages in the novel on a couple mornings before work. The most significant update yet least in volume came this morning. I added three lines inspired by a combination of the ”Hybrid Viewpoints” episode of the Writing Excuses podcast and one of my favorite TV shows. I look forward to hearing how my beta readers will react to it.

I added a couple good points to the outline of the current essay during lunch hour at work. Essays become pretty easy once I have a good idea where I want it to go. At this point, I have more problem figuring out the particular words to use. I don’t get caught up trying to figure out the right word, either, since I don’t expect anyone to see these outlines. My word recall has just gotten a little foggy these days. I think it took me about ten minutes to write an outline sentence during the last session.

Writing narrative or stream of thought like these updates doesn’t give me much issue. Working on informal social media updates or arguments doesn’t cause me much trouble, either. Maybe this word recall comes from a little bit of perfectionism. I don’t know. Nonetheless, I like making sure I can understand my own words and intent when I come back to it.

Uncanny Magazine took up much of my free time this weekend. Specifically, helping with a final run through to help very obvious typos and such. After looking at the many, many words in the magazine for around two months, the editors can become too familiar with the material and start missing that type of thing. The same thing happens to working long and hard on something. The brain can do weird tricks where it sees the end result rather than the real thing on the page or computer screen.

Issue 15 has a lot of good stuff in it this month. It comes out on the first Tuesday of March, the 7th. Get ready for a bunch of different feels in the fiction, from sad to whimsy and even some anger. I don’t get the majority of any poetry, so don’t come to me for opinions on it. Most of the essays revolve around protest, resistance, and the representation. I think the Uncanny Team has put together another solid, excellent issue that fans will enjoy.

POLITICAL/SOCIAL JUSTICE THOUGHTS

I feel myself falling into complacency and normalization of the Trump Presidency and his administration. Other than donating to some worthy causes, re-tweeting and sharing some articles, engaging in conversation, and tweeting at politicians to show my displeasure or to offer my support to their actions, I haven’t done much to change my life and habits.

Part of me tells myself that I’ve gotten bombarded with too many causes trying to get my money, my signature, my action, my letter writing, my attending meetings, and all sorts of my participation. I’ve also gotten overwhelmed by all the Administration gaslighting along with the media and other politicians trying to keep up with the group of machine cronie throwing all types of garbage out at the world, from words to Executive Actions to tweets and all sorts of other horrible things. It’s exhausting.

But I’ve more often than not mostly been on the sidelines, in the first place. I participated in one protest march back around the Boston Common to protest the start of the Iraq War that has ended (but we’re still dealing with a lot of aftermath from it).That action didn’t affect anything.

Also I had made something of a vow to myself how much I would focus on my project back in 2001 or 2002. I find myself telling me that I’m doing something to add to the efforts and body of works to try affecting the Collective Conscience and (Un)Consciousness. As I’ve gotten older and seen how much progress I’ve made over the last 15 years, I have to question how much impact I’ll have as some sort of thought leader or in the “Information Industry”.

Those last two paragraphs don’t really go anywhere. I’ve just thrown out on the computer screen some of the thinking that goes through my head when it comes to resisting and protest. I ask myself what will it take for me to act on my principles and beliefs. Do I do that now? Do I have little when it comes to them?

Am I looking for someone to inspire me, not in a drill sergeant kind of way, but in a gentle, indoctrinating way that doesn’t make it sound like a duty and compulsory thing to do, but as an activity to express what I have deep down. Sometimes I feel like political activism comes out more as a “doing the right thing to do the right thing” rather than coming from an actual basis. I think the reasons for protest are right, but I think of them more as assumptions of mine rather than actual beliefs and convictions down in the depths of the core of my being. How do I transform those thoughts into beliefs and conviction?

That being said, my political/social justice tweets for the week:














I’m not really a fan of Trump sending the “Feds” to Chicago, but I find it telling that Mayor Rahm Emanuel has asked for help from the President, but the President hasn't provided any assistance.




Monday, February 20, 2017

Project Update: Changing Philosophical Approach to Compassion and Shame & Politics/Social Justice: Importance of Lobbying and Supporting Nonprofits


I have had a fairly boring week when it comes to the writing side of things. For fiction, I spent most mornings re-formatting and editing for misspellings and punctuation, mostly from typos rather than anything conscious, three pages at a time in the morning.

On the essay side, I made a couple points of progress that followed the direction past points of pointed, nothing new and exciting. Most of my struggle has come to conceptualizing thoughts in my head into actual words to put onto page. With how much we ruminate in our minds, I always surprise myself with the difficulty I have finding words and sentences to articulate myself. Nothing exciting, though.

The most interesting part of the project: Running into a block on conceptualizing the subjective benefits of leading a compassionate, moral, ethical lifestyle versus that of a dominating or, at the most weakest, follow a strong dominator and hoping their reaped benefits fall down on you. The rub comes down to the dominator seemingly not aware of their wretched state, as long they continue to stay in control and don’t lose.

As long as the dominator stays on the winning side of circumstances, they perceive things as working out well. They just need to stay on top and keep winning. Until they fall, a logical argument probably can’t reach them. And even more difficult, they can show compassion to a select group, family, friends, and such, so they can enjoy the fruits of compassion. They can always blame their enemies or people struggling against them for not listening to reason and to “order” to get out of their unfortunate situation of losing.

After all, per my reading into compassion, even a wise compassionate person has some duty to hold back benefits, gifts, money, and other enabling things from people who will take advantage of such help, without learning anything. Couldn’t the dominator see themselves doing the very same thing? In some ways, isn’t good and evil subjective?

My current resort into the matter leads me to pursuing the idea that people that pursue evilness and abuse have an addiction because of shame. I now turn to the recovery approach as a way of show how evil and abusiveness lead to self destructiveness by not acknowledging shame and pursuing activities to avoid dealing with that shame.

After some preliminary research, I put a hold at the Chicago Public Library on Healing the Shame that Binds You by John Bradshaw. Can’t say I know how well Bradshaw will hold up to academic scrutiny, but the few sections in the book compel me to read more once the book reaches my local branch. We’ll just have to see what happens there.

POLITICAL/SOCIAL JUSTICE THOUGHTS

I’ll just jump into the Tweets and make relevant comments where appropriate.









Click on link below to have more control over how to see this shout out and to check out the organization I’ve donated to, Youth Outreach Services:

Receiving this shout out after setting a monthly donation of just $4.50 feels pretty cool, but it triggers a connection in my mind to an article I read earlier in the week. The article mainly talked about how the Left has little, if any control, over the Executive and Legislative branches of the US government. Like my conclusion a few weeks ago, that leaves the Left the Judiciary branch to keep the good fight going for the American Spirit and to protect the Constitution.

This particular article brought up this topic in the context of the Right making attacks on the environment, most particularly in the form of the Legislative Branch and Scott Pruitt, Trump’s pick to head the EPA who believes debate should continue to see how much humanity contributes to the “impact” on Climate Change. I forget the particular article I saw earlier this weekend, but it mainly focused on the Legislative Branch looked to remove regulations on coal mining operations disposing of their waste, which includes a lot of mercury. It pretty much comes down to saying they have no problem with coal companies throwing mercury, a hazardous substance, into rivers and other forms of our drinking water.

National Geographic does a great job in this article of illustrating the importance of the EPA in improving the state of our environment and how the gutting of the EPA can really destroy of the state of all our health and our enjoyment of this Earth.

One other illustration from my own experience/thinking. I’ve always wondered about seeing a lot of Asian people wearing face masks like we see surgeons wear. For the longest time, I thought it had to do with trying to avoid getting a contagious disease, whether something as simple as a cold, flu, or something super serious that could kill you quick.

As I’ve learned over the last month or so from hearing news stories about China trying to fix their own environment from being so disgusting, people wear the masks to keep from breathing pollution into their airways and lungs. Interested in having to wear a face mask or gas mask like that everyday to prevent cancer, emphysema, COPD, or any other airway disease we’ve been taught to not smoke to avoid? After all that work of getting cigarettes out of our mouths and making it illegal to have cigarettes in places of work and public spaces, why do we want to pollute our environment so we can expose ourselves to risks that will likely causes us to get these horrible diseases?

Not to mention Climate Change pretty much changing the whole planet to make it inhospitable to human life and any other life that lives in the same environmental conditions. Smart, real smart. . ..

All that being said, one part of the article from earlier this week hit me hard: The Sierra Club files lawsuits against the government, when it can find standing, to defend the environment where and when possible. I never really thought about the importance of non-profits, such as the Sierra Club, the ACLU, and others for filing lawsuits to protect the environment, liberties, rights, and other amazing things that represent the Spirit of the Constitution and America. Honestly, I just saw them as organizations that seeked to change the hearts and minds of everyday people and maybe some amount of lobbying. But lawsuits? Really? Cool!

Which brings me to my big argument about the importance of us contributing and volunteering to nonprofits such as these. These organizations are OUR lobbying organizations. The Right has the NRA, Focus on the Family, and the list of organizations becomes so numerous it becomes exhausting just to find a comprehensive list. The Left really needs to organize more to either have more of these think tanks and organizations for the People or work harder to educate the People what these organizations do and how the People can contribute and help them. If anything, the media and entertainment industry has done an amazing job of parodying Greenpeace enough to make it difficult to take Left organizations seriously.

But now, more than ever, we need to take organizations on the Left seriously and support them, at least the ones that have good organization, understand the government, and know to take action that will be taken seriously and have results. The rich donors on the Right might have their organizations that get their bidding done. The rich donors might have more money than the rest of the population of the word, which is probably more tied up in illiquid investments and land than in donating to these types of organization.

Ever since 2000, though, when I could participate more in politics than ever before, candidates for President that go to the People for donations rather than to big donations from rich people, these candidates keep breaking records for fundraising and can end up building up war chests that rival candidates depending on rich people for their campaign funds, putting together dinners with huge ticket prices, making personal appearances for big ticket prices, and getting big donations but from fewer people.

The two candidates who had the best chance for making it with support from the everyday people, Howard Dean and Bernie Sanders, either made a single mistake that embarrassed them or simply joined a party in a bid to have a chance to become candidate for President since we have political system dominated by two parties. They didn’t have a shortage of funds. They simply got too excited or tried playing the game on a team that they only joined because it was the only way to stand a chance, not as a sincere supporter of that team. Looking back, I can’t see either of them as great candidates, even on the appropriateness of their principles to the times.

Nonetheless, they both did a great job raising funds from the People. We the People, have to open our wallets, time, and efforts, especially at this time, to these nonprofits and lobbying organizations that align with our interests. Directing money toward election campaigns of the President, our Senators, our Representatives, and other governmental positions, from Federal to State to local, isn’t enough to make the world into a better place that doesn’t abuse its people, the environment, and other factors that make the world a worse place. We also have to support our causes, whether with time or money, whatever resources we have available to point toward our causes to make the world bearable, healthy, enjoyable, and just a good and better place to be.

Important Disclosure: Not everyone has the resources to direct in this fashion, and that’s fine. You have to help yourself before you can help others. You have to feed yourself before you can help feed others. You have to hold compassion for yourself to feel compassion toward others (even though having compassions for others can also help you feel care and compassion for yourself).

In the end, though, provide support in the many ways we can to the causes we care about will help mold the world into a better place. The rich and the Right have their lobbyists and lawyers. We have to band together our resources to support our lobbyists and lawyers, especially if we want to survive through the next two to eight years, maintain the good we have accomplished by 2016/17, and maybe, if we’re lucky, possibly improve things here and there.

After all, same-sex marriage finally became legal throughout the United States through a court case, not through Executive Order or direct Legislation. Also, Nixon, who didn’t want the EPA, was forced to make it happen through the direct action of The People. As the article I linked to in a Tweet below shows, we might retain most, if not all, the Affordable Care Act because The People have found it more beneficial rather than damaging. We The People, in this Democracy of ours in the United States, can make things happen. We just need to know how to make them happen, and in this day and age, we’ll make them happen through the appropriate nonprofits, lobbyists, and lawyers.

We can do it. We must hold onto hope. We must keep a hold onto the audaciousness that hope brings us. Without sarcasm: Thank you, Obama, for showing us the audaciousness of hope.



Sunday, February 12, 2017

Project Update (Fairly Routine with Bad Elevator Speech Practice) & This Week in Tweeting Politics & Social Justice


I didn’t get much done for the fiction side of things Thursday and Friday. The nights from Wednesday to Friday, I went out late and had fun. I ended up Thursday and Friday mornings getting ready for work, eating, then running out to work.

Monday to Wednesday mornings, though, I edited the first few pages for small typos and format consistency. Nothing big, but it makes progress.

The party I went to Thursday night (the wife’s birthday), though, I had a good challenge: someone asked me what my novel is about. I didn’t have a good elevator speech, and I even made a comment about that shortcoming. The question came from another amateur writer. They emphasized with that issue, saying they had trouble with their elevator speeches and didn’t have a good one for their writing yet, either. On a good note, though, my scatterbrained answer still piqued their interest.

Surprised by the effectiveness of my outlining during lunch hour at work. Filled up a page handwritten. Still working on the introduction. Nonetheless, I feel articulate, organized, and comfortable so far. I can’t say doing outlines on this paper felt so good in the past. Hopefully this effort doesn’t just give me false hope that I have gotten many times over the last 20 years while working on this novel and project.

My evening calendar looks open for the next week. Hopefully my morning fiction work will make more progress.

POLITICAL/SOCIAL JUSTICE THOUGHTS

This week in politics and social justice feels like a mixed bag for me. The emotions, big status updates on social media (mostly Facebook), and the accumulation of articles to read on Facebook has gotten exhausting. I feel some political/compassion/justice/solicitation fatigue.

Honestly, though, if Facebook allowed us to plug our main feed or notification feed into a RSS reader, I would have reached something of an ideal world of content consumption. Stupid dollar getting in the way of me becoming a better, less stressed out content consumer.

This status makes me unhappy. It feels complacent as if I’m falling into the trap that we all hoped we wouldn’t fall into: pushing hard for social justice with high energy for some time after the injustice(s) occurring then growing too tired to do anything more. I want to do more, but I have little ideas how to do so. Regular life and fast-paced politics combining to make things exhausting and distracting, and the unjust politicians pushing more and more injustice.

Someone made an interesting remark about stress at the party Thursday night: high amounts of stress can induce symptoms in people similar to Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). If true, it provides me hope that if I reduce stress, things can feel better for me. Also, though, crap, those symptoms won’t help me to improve my material status to reach a point where I can reduce stress in a productive manner. Ack!

At the same time, good to see that the judiciary branch met one of its remits: acting as a check to balance out Trump’s craziness. The side of Constitutional justice, compassion, kindness, and appreciation does have some amount of power still left in the US Federal government. Not much, but some amount. I would enjoy seeing more cases with standing based on the Fourteenth Amendment.

So I appreciate at least one super crazy push of Trump has met some slow down. Plenty of other shameful things have occurred with the Cabinet approvals. Nonetheless, other than the Senator Warren issue, most of what has occurred there met at least my predictions of the week or two before. Not great to have happen, but doubted anything serious could be done about them. As much as citizens should fight against the appointments, that drama didn’t exhaust me as much as the “Muslim Ban” stuff from the two weeks previous.

I hope this upcoming week maintains a slower pace in all my directions of attention.

All that said, my week in politics/social justice thought went this way on Twitter:












Sunday, February 05, 2017

Project Update: Done Transcribing, Editing Ugly Essay Outline, and Political & Social Justice Thoughts in the Form of Tweets


I expect to embed a bunch of Tweets this week. It works better for my ruminations on politics and social just this week, but I’ll start with one about writing:


Despite going to bed late last week, I produced some pretty good text. I finished up transcribing the latest chapter this week. Plan to go back to previous chapters to change the name of a character and re-format some parts for consistency (and hopefully cut some words/pages since I get verbose). The character name change comes about because de facto, I combined two characters to one, one that I had always been present and another one that existed in a draft before 2000. A gender/sex change back to the excised character should serve the story better.

I finished an outline draft for one the essays that I had done piecemeal during lunch hours at work. You read right, I draft outlines. Looking back on outlines that I’ve done on this essay going back about ten years, I think I have fifteen outlines plus various other scribblings on paper and in notebooks. I printed out this current outline and brought it on a spa trip yesterday with plans to take a hack at it while taking a break from relaxing. I, unfortunately, I didn’t take a break from relaxing. I’ll have to see what I can do during lunch hours with it using pen and paper rather than a mobile a phone. Something about pen and paper gives me a sense of flexibility and freedom.

Looking back at the rough draft of my last essay, the one that acts as exemplar for the things I want to do with this set of essays, it makes me jealous of myself all that time ago. It has a good basis and understanding of the topic. Thing is, I spent a good long while on that one, too, something like 3-4 years.

Another advantage I had with it: I had only two sources for it, and the author of those two sources wrote them as an accomplished sociologist working on a case study. Also, he had an argument. Even though I came up with a structure that had little to do with those case studies, I could write my essay as an alternative interpretation for how things ended, with some refutation of the hypothesis they had made.

For this essay, I have a lot of sources and none of them make a clear, thought out argument of why events ended up as they did. It requires a lot more original thought on my part. I’ve got some general ideas in my head, but I have yet a way to figure out how to put them down on paper in a comprehensible and compelling way. In my head, my ideas make sense, but I need to make a logical structure and also relate them to the actual events. At least I need to do so enough to make a satisfactory rough draft.

Hopefully that doesn’t require re-reading sources too much. I plan to do that more when I restart the writing process for second run throughs of drafts. Right now, I really just want to get rough drafts for all six essays, so I can get a sense of accomplishment from that.

POLITICAL/SOCIAL JUSTICE THOUGHTS

As mentioned at the start, this blog entry will be heavy with embedded Tweets. I did it a lot this week, and I think I owe myself some sleep tonight.

TRUMP’S SUITABILITY FOR DUTY AS POTUS VS HIS NARCISSISM









BEGINNING OF THE WEEK AFTER THE INITIAL "MUSLIM BAN" FALLOUT & EMOTIONS & HOPE FLYING




ANGER AFTER READING ABOUT THE "HATE SPEECH IS FREE SPEECH" MOVEMENT PRETTY MUCH LED BY MILO YIANNOPOULOS


ENJOYED READING ABOUT ECONOMICALLY PROGRESSIVE GOVERNING LEADING TO ECONOMIC GROWTH AND BETTER LIVING CONDITIONS


DAMN! BARACK OBAMA'S FAREWELL SPEECH REMINDS ME THAT WE'RE THE HOPE WE CAN BELIEVE IN


RESEARCH AND ARGUMENT OF BELIEF AND HOPE THAT TRUMP'S ELECTION AN ABERRATION OF THE GREAT RECESSION AND ELECTORAL DEMOGRAPHIC TEMPORARY SHIFT








This last point strikes a string that I'd really like to explore and learn more about. During the 2016 Election, we heard mostly about the white "hard" working class. If we heard about people of color, we pretty much heard about them as monolithic communities and which candidate they would support, as a default, and maybe how the candidates reacted to Black Lives Matter (BLM).

BLM addressed the hot button ticket of police killing black people with little provocation, but there's more to black people, other people of color, and other communities than who they support and one issue at a time. Heck, different parts of those communities have their own interests and causes that they want to stand and fight for, whether it be for police not shooting, being treated as equals, getting representation, having the opportunities for jobs, getting opportunities for education, helping to deal with the vagaries of survival and having the opportunities to expand their horizons about the world, and so much more.

People of color are human and have as much variety as whites and other majority populations. In some ways, these communities might have more variety to them, too.

And as I have heard from a few podcasts and read in the news (I AM NOT A GREAT EXAMPLE OF HOW TO LEARN ABOUT THESE THINGS), Obama didn't do the best job providing these communities such opportunities, either. The biggest hypothesis of why this occurred has to do with his expending his political capital on trying to get along with the GOP and finding compromises that worked for everyone. It didn't work. Mitch McConnell, after all, vowed to make Obama a "do-nothing President" and try to prevent Obama from doing anything. Ironically, Obama succeeded at his greatest accomplishments when he stopped trying to compromise then pushed through his through whatever means he had available to him.

I'll admit, I voted for Obama back in 2008 because I read about him being so good at reaching across the aisle and getting things done that way in the Senate. The GOP really disappointed me in the barriers they put up against Obama. I guess this taught me needed cynicism for how US politics works and that the idea of compromise and working together accomplishes nothing. We need a President with a good, moral, ethical, honorable agenda and who knows how to put it through by any means necessary. It definitely helps to have the other branches of government, too.

We especially need to have that President in office for nominating Justices to protect human rights and the good fight for down the road. I'll post more Tweets on that matter below.

HAPPY FOR NORMALITY ON SOCIAL MEDIA AGAIN AND LINGUISTIC SHOTS AT TRUMP




JOYFUL ABOUT THE JUDICIAL BRANCH DOING ITS JOB PROTECTING THE SPIRIT OF THE US AND THE CONSTITUTION




Well that about covers my thoughts on politics and social justice issues this week. It didn't feel like so much of a roller coaster ride as the week before, which felt calming and unsettling at the same time. Calming because it felt like our nation returned to some level of sanity. Unsettling because I've done little to help the good fight other than spread news, thoughts, and donate money toward good causes and causes that work to fight the good fight. I aim to get life and brains more organized to do more to fight the good fight.