WHINING AND RESIGNING – Marilyn Armstrong

I’m not going to do it. I want to. I need a good whine. .

Because we all have days like this. The kind of day when by the end of it, you want to resign. Not from blogging, but from the humanity. I want to just throw it all in and hide. Permanently.

Whatever that means. 

Yet I know I will feel better, if not tomorrow, than very soon. At which point, all the whining will just be embarrassing.

Meanwhile, gotta tell ya — there are days when it totally doesn’t pay to get out of bed. Of course, those are exactly the days when you have no choice because there’s so much you need to do. Today is going to be nasty, too.

Today was the kind of day when it feels as if no matter what you do, someone is fighting you. Everything is a battle. Nothing goes smoothly. You get disconnected a dozen times. You’re on the phone forever and in the end, banging your head into the wall sounds like a healthy alternative to everything else you’ve done that day.

But, I am not resigning from humanity. For one thing, I’m not sure to whom I’d hand the resignation. For another, after resigning, what’s next? Can I become one of my dogs?

I guess I’ll hang around.

I’m not going to give you the details. Even thinking about writing it makes me want to scream.

ARE YOU A DECENT HUMAN BEING, OR ARE YOU A DICK? – BY TOM CURLEY

I listen to the various pundits on all the news stations and newspapers going on and on about what Democrats need to do to win the midterm elections. They all have a variation of the same theme. They must have a “message.” They can’t just say “Hey we are better than that asshole Trump and those fucking Republicans.”

They need to be for something, like universal health care, a 15-dollar minimum wage, not ripping innocent children from their parents for the crime of trying to come to America for a better life.  But here’s the thing.

That’s bullshit. I completely disagree. We have moved far beyond arguing about political policy. We need to run on what kind of human beings we are in this country.

It’s really simple.


Are we, as Americans, decent human beings? Or are we dicks?


It turns out that over the last two years we have found out there are a frighteningly large number of Americans who are unimaginably horrible dicks. 

If you think ripping a baby from a mother or father and then sending it to another state without any way of keeping track of who the baby belongs to or where it went is OK, you’re a dick.

If you are horrified by this and you didn’t believe such a thing was possible in America, you’re a decent human being.

If you think white supremacists and Nazis are good people, you’re a dick.

If you think a white supremacist running down innocent protesters with his car and killing at least one is bad, you’re a decent human being.  Side note: NAZIS ARE BAD.

If you are a white person who calls the police because

1 – A black family is barbecuing in a public park
2 – A black fireman is doing fire safety checks in his own neighborhood
3 – A black state representative is going door to door talking to her constituents
4 – A black woman is at a community pool to which she belongs
5 – A black man is wearing socks at a public swimming pool

you’re a racist dick.

Oddly, most of the dicks who called the police on these people were women. Turns out


You don’t need a prick to be a dick.


That might make a pretty good bumper sticker or tee-shirt.

racist white women
One of dicks who actually did one of those things.

If this stuff both surprises and appalls you, you’re a decent human being.

I’ve been covering elections for CBS since Nixon. In every election, both sides always say the same thing. “This is the most important election of our lives.”

And we all go, “yeah, sure, whatever.” But this time, for the first time in my life, I agree. We, as a country, are at an honest-to-God existential crossroad. We are being governed by the largest group of horrible dicks in modern history.

And we are being led by the biggest dick of all, the twidiot-in-chief.

So, please, get out and vote this November.

Be a decent human being.

Don’t be a dick. There are way too many of them out there already. 

CONTINUING OUR GRAND EXPERIMENT – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Continue

Continue?

In many ways, the nightmare we are currently experiencing is a continuation of what went before. None of this came out of “nowhere.” We’ve had bad presidents and even some of our good presidents were not all that great. We have plundered the earth and made money the beginning and end of all things. Greed is God.

Notice how little time it took and the methodology. Simple, wasn’t it?

We worship money. We’ve been watching “Luke Cage” on Netflix and his comment that “The only thing that gets respect is money” is disgustingly true. You can be any color you want including pink with yellow polka-dots, but if you don’t control a few billion dollars, you aren’t going to get real respect.

Given our passion for money, why not elect a buffoon for whom greed and the power it gives him has been his all-consuming goal his entire life? We’ve been heading this way for a long time. We didn’t understand where this direction would take us.

The displacement of Germany’s liberal democratic government took ONLY ten years. Most of it happened in less than five.

Europe hit some kind of long-held target when it rounded up everyone they didn’t like and killed them. When World War II was finished, there were no foreigners or Jews or Romany left. They were dead. The perils of the world have changed the scenario, but the plundering of the earth to create the mess it’s in now didn’t start in the U.S.

The Rhone, the Rhine, and the Thames were flowing sewerage long before the U.S. even got its industrial revolution in gear.

In November 1923, a German army veteran and leader of an extremist party, Adolf Hitler, tried to take a page from Mussolini’s book. Hitler’s rise to power is one of the most significant events of our century. His success raised disturbing questions that we still debate today. How did Germany, which had a liberal democratic government in the 1920s, become a totalitarian dictatorship in the 1930s? Why did Hitler gain the enthusiastic support of many Germans? In less than a decade, he turned one of the most liberal nations in the world into the greatest killer of them all.

It doesn’t take a hundred years. It doesn’t even take a lifetime. In these hyper speedy days, with ultra-fast communications, it can take virtually no time. It took Germany a decade, but we’ve gotten there much faster.

Our rise to power wasn’t unilateral. We needed help and we got it by — you guessed it — immigration. We imported Europeans who knew how to build the mills and sluice the waste into our rivers. We couldn’t have done it without your help. Thanks, guys!

When you start to throw dirt around, make sure you let some stick to you. This world is one world. Nothing happens independently without collaboration. Despite that America has probably the worst goon and buffoon in office, Australia, Canada and many countries in Europe are not far behind. The hatred we spew is being spewed on every continent and in many languages.

The U.S. is not alone. If you think we are, you should look around. Read your own newspapers and think about your own government. All those things about which you are so proud and which took years to build can be stripped away so fast you won’t have time to say “what happened.” You’ve done it before, you can do it again.

Let us show set you an example. After all, you already dragged us into two world wars. Maybe it’s our turn to show you how evil a government can be. Continue indeed. Yes, let’s do that. Let us continue. It is amazing how little we seem to learn from history, isn’t it?

Are you going to continue too? You had Hitler and Mussolini. Are you getting ready for your next set of dictators? It took very little to overthrow Germany and a lot other countries helped Germany along. They didn’t think all that hatred was such a bad thing. They didn’t like Those People either.

Forgive me, dear overseas friends, but it’s time to look around at the whole picture. England pulled out of the European trade union before we got around to installing the orange moron in the White House. There were hate riots in Europe before we even got started on our 2016 election. Hatred didn’t start here.

It has always been with us. Always. Here, there, and everywhere.

If we get to start a world war, it’ll be our first.

But it won’t be your first. 

Also RDP #30 – FLUKE for RDP. Because this mess is no fluke. We walked right into this without believing it could happen. And here we are!

STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND – Marilyn Armstrong

Stranger in my own strange land

If you think this is going to be political, it’s not. It is me and me, today. There are days when my body doesn’t fit me. This is one of those days.

How can that be? A doctor long ago told me I will never die.

“Why not?” I asked.

“You have so many chronic ailments, they will keep you alive.”

I thanked him for that. It’s one of the days when no part of me fits any other part. It’s like my physical me is just a bunch of mismatched old parts, clanking around an aging pickup truck.

AND the television people are coming while it looks a bit like rain may fall. I need to get through the day alive. Lucky that I was functional yesterday.

This day would have been a real humdinger if I felt then as I feel now. Yoicks.

Gibbs

I actually have not one but TWO copies of “Stranger in a Strange Land” in this house. An old hard-cover copy and I have it as an audiobook. When it was written, it sounded completely outlandish. I’m not sure how it’ll sound these days, but I think maybe I’ll reread it.

Waiting is.

RETROSPECTIVE: AFTERTHOUGHT AND FOND FAREWELL – Marilyn Armstrong

RETROSPECTIVE: afterthought & farewell


Do you remember when we competed to get the “Freshly Pressed” award? When there was a weekly prompt that they actually read and supposedly “judged” for quality and uniqueness?

Remember when one day, it vanished? We didn’t even get a marketing letter about that one. It vanished and never returned and Freshly Pressed went with it.

Can you recall when we got little prizes and bonuses for however many views we got … or the number of “likes” or “follows”? That was when blogging was what the platform was about. Almost every author I followed had an active blog on Word Press.

Gradually, all of that has dribbled away. With dissolving the last of it including the Daily Prompt which has got to be the most effortless prompt in creation (and is probably done by a generating app in someone’s laptop), they’ve taken a platform famed for its connectivity and unique friendliness and dropped to see if they can make two billion next year on top of the billion they got this year.

The Years of Serendipity

I know everyone says that “WordPress is free,” but how many of you do NOT pay a fee to upgrade your site? Most of us pay. It’s not the $49.99 a month they want for their business site, but most of us don’t have that kind of money and what’s more, we aren’t businesses. Authors, artists. Thoughtful people with ideas to share. Painters with art. Musicians.

Religious people and atheists share a platform and manage to communicate with each other in a world where this kind of communication is almost unheard of.

I would like to think that somehow, WordPress will still be the same place it used to be, but I doubt it. In every other blogging site where they have wrenched the soul out of it in the name of somehow making a lot more money, the results have been catastrophic. Most of those sites are gone — entirely. The rest have become something so different no one recognizes them. Remember when Reddit was the “hot spot” to get your work recognized? They changed it and now, it’s no kind of hot spot. No one cares if their material is there. It doesn’t matter.

Now, it’s all about monetizing your site. Monetizing? I am retired. I don’t sell anything. When I was selling things, I had a commercial site on a commercial marketing platform. I paid my way along with all the other business sites. In 2008, when our economy crashed, I ended that business. It was not a good business for those financial times.

I missed the extra money, but I was done with business. Meanwhile, I had been blogging a little here and there. GeoCities (remember when Yahoo did something?) and Storyline (I think that was the name — they sold themselves to Facebook which promptly dissolved them; they are gone). There some others until I hooked onto WordPress and found a home.

The blogging platform that is snatching defeat from the jaws of victory

There were good years — 2012 through 2014 — and then they started urging us to make money. They would help us. Which was interesting because before that, it was illegal to try to make money on your site. We were bloggers, not businesses. Our goal was to talk about art and books and ideas. To be thoughtful, intelligent, creative.

Now … what will it be? If we aren’t bloggers – thoughtful and creative – then this is another Ruby Lane where businesses line up on a platform and everyone sells whatever they’ve got. I’m not a business. I’m not going to be a business. If I wrote another book, I could publicize it, but that’s not a “business” and anyway, writers don’t have a lot of spare change.

So this is a retrospective to what this platform was and I wish would remain. It is a sad farewell to something which is about to start its long slide to nothing special.

Should WordPress — against all odds — create a business audience out of 12-million bloggers (something no other organization has yet done), it won’t be “our” WordPress, just be another business platform.

Worse, it’s doomed to failure because this isn’t that audience. I keep saying it. The first and possibly ONLY rule of marketing is “KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE.”

WordPress doesn’t get that.

And then, there is WordPress

I am linked to many of you as followers and vice versa. If you get my emails indicating I’ve posted, we will stay in touch. There are a lot of people trying to figure out a more direct way to keep in touch. I’m on top of that.

In the meantime it turns out money is what matters, forever and through all eternity. Ah-men.

A TINY, MONSTROUS FANGED HEAD – Marilyn Armstrong

Being Jewish is a religion, but for many of us, it isn’t only a religion. In fact, for a lot for us, Judaism isn’t religious at all, but rather a commitment to a lifestyle. It entails a wide range of ethical and moral beliefs.

One of the things it includes — if you are of my generation — is a lingering belief that all non-Jews are secretly your enemy, no matter what they say to your face. This remains true even when you are married to a Christian and got married in a Christian church. And your kids don’t even consider themselves Jewish. Somewhere inside, some little piece of you is screaming “Remember the Inquisition and the Holocaust.”

It’s an angry and frightened little voice, always alarmed and ready to grab the Torah (like I own a real Torah, right?) and run for the caves.

My kids don’t have this voice in their heads or this fear because I did not bathe them in the blood of our tortured ancestors or the piles of corpses from the Holocaust. I didn’t push this on them because I thought it was time to let it go and move on.

My mother was an atheist. She did not believe in God or gods. Her bonds to Judaism were entirely ethnic and tribal. So are mine … but ethnicity and a fondness for our cuisine isn’t something one can always pass along.

Regardless, Judaism is a religion. When you are ethnically Jewish but practice no aspect of the religion, what do you pass to your children other than recipes and a totally irrational fear of non-Jews.

Your ethical and moral commitments can stand on their own. They don’t need a religious attachment. They ought to be a part of the mental armament of any sane person. Religious or not, you ought to know the difference between right and wrong.

I didn’t pass this on to my kid or grandchild because I thought it was time to end the terror and move on to a different world.

These days, though, I wonder if maybe I was precipitous. Just because I thought the danger ended, it reared up its monstrous little fanged head again. And suddenly, safety is not so safe.

Maybe it’s about more than recipes for matzoh balls. Hatred appears to live a lot longer than I imagined possible.

NOTABLE, WHICH I AM NOT – Marilyn Armstrong

ON NOT BEING NOTABLE 

Last night, I got a note explaining that all my problems with WordPress deleting my site from the search engine along with all five writers — and 200 other followers who turned up missing yesterday — is because I do not write well enough. I am not generating enthusiasm by writing about exciting new subjects.

Apparently all the problems are actually MY fault. By not protecting the title of my blog and deleting me and the other writers and making us disappear from the engine (for what is now nearly three months) — that had nothing to do with it.

It’s all my fault. I’m not good enough.

I can’t begin to explain how this makes me feel. I’m not sure whether my primary emotion is anger or hurt. Or both. I do know that I’m not in any mood to write at the moment, so forgive me. I need to back off for a while.

At this point, I don’t know what to do or what I want to do. It’s not that I don’t love you all because I do — but I feel so damaged. In all of this, with all the reports and the back and forth with engineers, to be told there was no problem, never was a problem, and it was all my failure to write well enough to keep my audience.

Well. If that’s true, I have nothing more to give, so I’ll just slink off into my cave until I feel better about life.

I apologize to anyone I should be talking to. I just don’t feel like chatting right now.