EARTH TO MILLENNIALS: STEP UP TO THE PLATE, YOUR TIME HAS COME

In recent months, Garry and I have logged a lot of hours watching the political year unfold. I can’t count the number of hours spent analyzing “the millennials,” young folks in and around my granddaughter’s age. How disaffected they are. How they aren’t going to vote because “this has nothing to do with me,” which is a direct quote from my granddaughter.

I love my granddaughter with all my heart, but that just pissed me off to a fare-thee-well.

The world into which my generation — the now oft-dismissed “baby boomers” — was born was not composed of silver spoons and red carpets. Classified advertisements for jobs were divided into “Help Wanted: Male” and “Help Wanted: Female.” It was legal and enforced. As for people of color and immigrants, their help wasn’t wanted.

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70 years later, the Help Wanted advertisements looked pretty much the same as they had in 1892. Photograph: Library of Congress Archives

Jim Crow laws were legal. Inter-marriage between races was illegal in all southern states and many northern ones. There was no Medicare, no Medicaid. If you lost your job or your job didn’t offer medical benefits — and employers were not obligated to provide benefits — you were out of luck.

People reminisce about the 1950s and early 1960s as if they were perfect days for everyone. A world in which jobs lasted forever and no one was hungry. But only if you were triple white. White collar. White skin. White picket fence. If you were anything else, you lived a different reality.

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Did I mention that abortion was illegal? Illegal abortions were frequently fatal and effective birth control hadn’t been invented. It’s not that we didn’t have sex outside of marriage. Of course we did. Hormones, boys, girls, love, and passion were never much different than now, but acting on these urges was far more dangerous. Because the ramifications of “getting caught” were so perilous (and frequently against the law), we were sneaky. We had sex in cars, not beds.

We hid our lives from “the grownups” who were also frequently “the enemy.” Child abuse was not only not illegal, it was ignored or approved of. Beating your kids was merely “discipline.” Which is why I get enraged every time I read one of those Facebook “nostalgia” posts about how great it was to be able to hit your kids. Hitting kids doesn’t make them better people. It just tells them it’s okay for bigger, stronger people to hit smaller, weaker ones.

January 22, 1973 woman could finally breathe a sigh of relief. We thought the days of back room abortion were finally over. Maybe yes. But maybe it was just a temporary reprieve.

January 22, 1973 woman could finally breathe a sigh of relief. We thought the days of back room abortion were finally over. Maybe yes. But maybe it was just a temporary reprieve. Photograph: New York Times archive

My generation — we old people — were out there manning the barricades. Marching for justice. We changed the world — not as much as we hoped we would, but a lot. We fought racial and gender discrimination. While waiting for the law to change, we hid our homosexuality or trans-gender identities. Not doing so might do us in. We never gave up the fight, but we got old.

It’s your turn now.

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Things are a lot better for you in many ways. Not perfect. Not without problems. There’s plenty more work to be done. I know you feel the world has failed to live up to its promises to you. Life is too hard. Good jobs are scarce. I know because I’ve heard about it … a lot.

Life — real life — has always been hard and good jobs have never been easy to find. No one told me life would be easy. Did someone tell you that? If they did, they lied.

Despite the complaining, your generation is reaping the benefits of what we fought for. It’s time for your generation to step up to the plate. Put down the phone. Go into the world. Fix stuff. Fight for a better life and a better world. Vote! That’s how change happens. If you don’t care enough to stand up for yourselves and your future, no one else will care. And all the work we did will go down the tubes.

Then, as my mom used to say, you’ll really have something to cry about.

GREAT THOUGHTS SOMETIMES ESCAPE ME

Random Musings by Rich Paschall

Often I have great thoughts, frequently while driving my car, which I mean to write down as soon as I get home.  Usually, I forget.  Life intervenes.  They may not be ideas for an entire blog post, perhaps they are just interesting one-liners.  Many have drifted away.  Here are some I remember.

I noticed that cotton candy does not taste much like cotton, although I do not munch on cotton much.

I notice the White Zinfandel is actually pink.

drinks table dinner

I also noticed that buffalo do not have wings.  If they did I would guess they would be quite large.

Is there any surprise who Billboard’s Holiday 100 had at the top of the Christmas song play list this year?  Radio airplay, sales data and streaming activity, all measured by Nielsen, put a familiar group at the top: All I Want For Christmas Is You (Mariah Carey), Rocking Around The Christmas Tree (Brenda Lee), The Christmas Song (Nat King Cole), Jingle Bell Rock (Bobby Helms) and of course White Christmas (Bing Crosby).

So if radio stations gave up to two months of their programming to holiday music and half of that music was religious but not Christian, do you think right-wing Republican heads would explode?

So here people who have been ticketed for running red lights and have been caught by red light cameras, condemn the city for having red light cameras and want them removed.  I guess it is the same for speed cameras.

Last week we had a sleet attack of what turned out to be heavy and wet ice pellets accumulating greater than usual.  You could shovel it like snow, but many did not.  Some did not even bother to clean off their stairs.  Now the temperature has dropped and the stuff is hard like a rock.  It is a true hazard and I wonder how some of these people get up the stairs to get in and out of their houses.

Shovel it!

Shovel it!

Snow and ice-covered sidewalks are not only difficult for the mailman and other delivery persons, they can make the elderly and handicapped prisoners of their houses and apartments.

When I say mailman, I mean men and women letter carriers.  I could see some of you were about to write gender equality speeches to me.

When I say letter carriers I mean those men and women who deliver mail and packages.

If I make a mail delivery faux pas statement, I have a cousin who is a postal worker who is glad to slap me up side of the head.  I love you anyway, Milan.

I notice the Republican clown car has a few less Republicans than when it started out on its cross-country trip.

After the Republican debates, the Pulitzer Award winning news organization, Politifact, consistently finds statements by the candidates to be mostly false.  This does not seem to bother supporters of these candidates.

Donald Trump:

“We’re practically not allowed to use coal any more. What do we do with our coal? We ship it to China and they spew it in the air.”

Coal is the biggest source of energy for electricity in the United States.

Kentucky elected a Republican governor whose campaign pledges included a promise to dismantle Obamacare in the state.  A lot of Kentucky citizens are angry that they are going to be losing their healthcare.  You get what you vote for.

Kentucky was one of the Affordable Healthcare Act’s biggest success stories with a big drop in the uninsured.  Soon Kentucky can figure out how to deal with all the people who show up at hospitals without insurance.

Let’s have a show of hands.  How many think that the US Middle East policy has been a success at any point in the last 60 years?  OK, that covers my lifetime.

Let’s have a show of hands.  How many think that we should have no further gun regulations whatsoever in this country?  OK, that looks to be just the few NRA members in the back of the room.

When the Second Amendment was enacted I think people may have been using muskets for guns.  You know, single ball, one shot at a time things, not AK 47 assault weapons.

A lot of people see red when you start talking about the Second Amendment.  Remember it is not a religious thing and it was not handed down by god.

Top 10 lists, entertainment articles and short stories with happy endings are much more popular than my political commentaries.

On New Year’s Eve it looked like many people were buying cheese, crackers and beef sausage rolls at the supermarket along with the usual assortment of wines, beers and champagnes.

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With all those people buying wine and “Champagne” the super market should have had more checkout people over 21 years of age.  “21 on check-out 3.”

French wine producers in the Champagne region hate it when others call their sparkling wines “Champagne.”  You probably had sparkling wine on New Year’s Eve.  Real Champagne is not cheap.

I am happy to have had another year here at SERENDIPITY to give you Sunday articles, as well as an occasional extra day.  I am grateful that Marilyn is here to illustrate most of them, no matter what the topic, and often on short notice.   Her readers have been gracious to my every changing topics.

When I started here two years ago I mentioned to Marilyn that some of her readers may not like the types of things I write.  She said not to worry, just go for it.  Thanks, I did.

TURNING SUCCESS INTO FAILURE

Thinking Small, Rich Paschall

Some organizations think big and do big.  You may know such organizations.  You may wonder how they accomplish so much.  How can a social service agency, school, church, or park district pull off grand events with a small budget and a small staff?  Yet, there are quite a number that do it.  What is the difference between the successes and those that think big and fail?  What is the difference between thinking bag, and those who just think small?

Image: Mashable.com

Image: Mashable.com

Many think big but fail because they aren’t willing to do the work.  They want to be triumphant, but they are just hoping it will somehow happen. They rely on others stepping up to do what they should be doing.

The truth is that those running an event must step forward. They need to recruit volunteers to do what needs doing to guarantee success.  Some leaders are willing to do this, but many others rely on dumb luck. Dumb being the operative word. It’s the dedication to the task that’s important, not luck.

You have to work harder to find potential leaders and willing workers than in years past. So many things compete for our attention. Life is busier than it used to be … and then, there are the apps on our phones, tablets and laptops. We may not be willing to devote the large chunk of time required to make a successful event. If it took five calls to get two people to help out 20 years ago, maybe it takes 10 calls now. Or 20. Is the organization willing to do it?

In many cases, the answer is no.

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Being reliant on Facebook calls to action and church bulletin messages will likely get you nowhere.  It’s the personal touch that matters.

Text messages and email blasts don’t have the personal touch you need to win volunteers. We are in the digital age and can contact a lot of people quickly by email, social media, and text messaging, but it’s not a reliable road to success. Such messages get lost in the myriad messages that are posted every day.

So, we actually have to talk to people if we want to get their attention.  We have to pick up the phone.  We have to meet them at events.  We have to stand outside of Church, school, wherever and shake their hands.  Even in the digital age, or maybe exactly because of it, we must reach out to people personally, if we want to help a project meet its goal.

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Then there are those who think small from the start.  They see the modern-day task of making a success so daunting that they prefer not to tackle it at all.  These types of “leaders” obviously are not the ones who brought the organization along over the years, but they are certainly the ones to stall it in its tracks.  Saying it is too hard, or it can’t be done, or people will not step forward anymore is admitting defeat from the outset.  It is also proof that they are in the wrong business.  There is a choice to meet the challenge or run from it.  Some choose to run.  Let them go.

Recently, I was involved in an alumni event that found the organization itself dragging its feet on a number of issues.  When the night of the event came, after months of planning meetings, things did not go smoothly.  Nevertheless, it was the largest alumni event they’d in decades. Yes, decades.  Were they happy with this?

Because of its shortcomings, the pastor promptly declared it would have been better to run an event for 50 or 60 people than this event for 250 — which was much more work and went poorly. The pastor was upset.

Was it personal embarrassment?  No, because he didn’t work on it. Unfortunately, he was looking for ways to place blame rather than looking for how to make events better in the future.

People who step into leadership roles but who have little leadership experience, are likely to torpedo your efforts. Those who have their hands full already and see an event as too much additional work, will likely trip you up. Those who are afraid of embarrassment and will only accept success — never failure — will only minimally succeed. They’ve already set limits on their potential success. Worse, they have unknowingly limited the likely success of the organizations they are supposed to lead.

TOTALLY RANDOM

Great Thoughts and Random Musings

Despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary, there are still plenty of politicians who deny climate change.  Do you wonder what interests they are protecting?

Let’s have a show of hands of all people who think the government is actually working for them.  That looks like two per cent to me.  I get the one per cent, but what about you others?

So the British CEO of Dunkin Donuts thinks that a 15 dollar per hour minimum wage phased in over three years would be “absolutely outrageous.”  His total compensation last year was 10.2 million (alternet.org), which is about 4900 dollars per hour if he works 40 hours per week and 52 weeks per year.

Have you noticed the increased number of people who seem to want to protect the top one per cent while keeping poor people poor?  Surprisingly, many are not in the top one percent themselves.

How about a 24 hour moratorium on Facebook memes?  Maybe Twitter too.

Since the Chicago Cubs are actually over .500 at this point in the season, Cubs fans think the team will make the play-offs.  Of course, if they were under .500 many would think that too. If the season ends tomorrow, they are in, barely.

So people caught running red lights are against red light cameras and believe the city is just trying to raise revenue.  Mmmmm?

Name dropping time.  Since writing an article about musician Tom Law, I have had a few conversations with Tom and we have given new meaning to the idea of “totally random.”  I thought we would be talking about music and music videos, but not so much!  It’s all good.

Name dropping two. I went to hear author David Farrell read from his recently published book, If Only Again.  It is always interesting to hear the author read his own words.

David Ferrell reading the opening of If Only Again.

David Ferrell reading the opening of If Only Again.

Of course it is OK to be outraged about the killing of a lion, especially if it was lured out of a protected area, but where is the equal outrage for those who die needlessly each day from disease, hunger and war?

The truth may not set you free, but lies will certainly enslave you.  Feel free to quote me on that.

How about if you have to quote me one line of Leviticus which may or may not be translated correctly, I get to quote you ten that you are probably violating often?

If music soothes the savage beast, please explain Heavy Metal to me.

I did see an interesting internet quote among the piles of crap, it said, “If you don’t take care of your body, where else are you going to live?”

Snopes, Snopes, Snopes!

Despite the obvious truth that a virus does not ask your sexual orientation before infecting you, why do people continue to think of HIV as a gay disease?  Most people in the world who have it are not gay.

“HIV is the world’s leading infectious killer.” (aids.gov)

I have lost count of how many Republicans are running for President.

“A new NASA study confirms fire seasons across one-quarter of the planet’s vegetated surface are growing longer.” – Tom Skilling, meteorologist

Lollapalooza is the best music festival of the year.

Somehow I have gotten on to the email list of two ultra right-wing groups whose names I will not repeat.  I wonder if it bothers them one bit that their conspiracy theories and “News reports” are most certainly lies or extreme exaggerations.

If you read last Sunday’s short story (Did You See the Picture?), then this coming Sunday’s will be the same, but from a different point of view.

HOW TO WRITE VERY POPULAR ARTICLES FOR YOUR BLOG

From WordPress, today’s Daily Prompt:  Hindsight — Now that you’ve got some blogging experience under your belt, re-write your very first post.


Oh come now. Really? I don’t even have my first post. I deleted it years ago. Does WordPress believe all its followers are baby bloggers who have written 10 posts and started blogging the day before yesterday?

Not exactly me. But, in the name of playing into the irrationality of the moment, I’m going to post my most popular ever post. I’ve rewritten it several times. It has gotten more than 11,500 hits in two versions and a couple of thousand more in other rewrites. Most of the views accumulated during the first 24 hours after I published it … more than half during the first hour or two.

Despite it being no great shakes as posts go, it went sort of viral. Go figure, right? This is a perfect example of why it’s so hard to figure out what kind of post is going to “sell.” How much research, writing craft, thought, and soul you can put into it a piece … and no one is interested. Research is irrelevant. What matters is that it catches popular fancy.

The only way you can almost guarantee popularity is to figure out what is the “latest thing” buzzing around the Internet, then write about it. Preferably with pictures. It doesn’t have to be well-written. It doesn’t have to be factual, accurate, fair, or in any way important. It absolutely doesn’t have to be original and will probably sell better if it isn’t.

If that is what you want as a blogger, good luck to you. The Internet welcomes you. Bring on your rumors, gossip, slanderous out-of-context quotes. Be sure to use, as sources, those who don’t know the difference between opinion and fact and don’t care.

Find some salacious photographs. Publish them. Don’t worry about copyright infringement because no one else seems worried about it. I won’t read you, but lots of other people will.

And now…


 THE FBI CAN’T DO A SIMPLE GOOGLE SEARCH? – REDUX, REDUX, REDUX

On Criminal Minds in the première episode for the 2012-2013 season, the “perp” sews a victims mouth shut but in his mouth leaves the message “Gazing through to the other side.” The BAU FBI team cannot find any reference to this quote. So I typed it into Google and hit Enter. Guess what?

TV Camera - 23

It’s part of a song, the lyrics to which essentially are the plot of the episode in which the first four victims are women, thrown into ditches, with their mouths sewn shut.

If I can find this in one hit on Google, is the FBI less capable than I? Unable to do the most basic Google search? There isn’t anything more basic than typing in what you want to know about then hitting Enter, is there? My granddaughter could do this kind of search before she was in first grade.

If anyone thinks I believe the FBI is actually producing the show, anyone who can chew gum and walk at the same time knows this is a network television show that employs a staff of writers to write scripts supposed to make us believe these are hyper-competent profiler/agents. And they can’t run a Google search any grade school child can run. Wow! Bad writing and plagiarism? What a terrific combination for a show about the FBI!

There could be an innocent explanation, like the real authors of the material were paid, but never credited. I’d like to hear that. It could restore a bit of my rapidly diminishing faith in humankind. Because it couldn’t be plagiarism. CBS wouldn’t allow that, right? Because networks, TV execs, writers, etc. are all so honest such a thing could never happen. And the tooth fairy left you a buck under your pillow.

The song is by a group named Blitzen Trapper, lead singer/lyricist, Eric Earley.

Thank you to Pat at CHRONICLES OF AN ANGLO SWISS for the link to the YouTube video.

The lyrics follow.

“Black River Killer”

It was just a little while past the sunset strip
They found the girl’s body in an open pit
Her mouth was sewn shut, but her eyes were still wide
Gazing through the fog to the other side
They booked me on a whim and threw me deep in jail
With no bail, sitting silent on a rusty pail
Just gazing at the marks on the opposite wall
Remembering the music of my lover’s call

So you make no mistake
I know just what it takes
To pull a man’s soul back from heaven’s gates
I’ve been wandering in the dark about as long as sin
But they say it’s never too late to start again

Oh when, oh when
Will the spirit come a calling for my soul to sin
Oh when, oh when
Will the keys to the kingdom be mine again?

It was dark as the grave, it was just about three
When the warden with his key came to set me free
They gave me five dollars and a secondhand suit
A pistol and a hat and a worn out flute

So I took a bus down to the Rio Grande
And I shot a man down on the edge of town
Then I stole me a horse and I rode it around
Til the sheriff pulled me in and sat me down

He said, you make no mistake
I know just what it takes
To pull a man’s soul back from heaven’s gates
I’ve been wandering in the dark about as long as sin
But they say it’s never too late to start again

Oh when, oh when
Will the spirit come a calling for my soul to sin
Oh when, oh when
Will the keys to the kingdom be mine again?

Well the sheriff let me go with a knife and a song
So I took the first train up to Oregon
And I killed the first man that I came upon
Because the devil works quick, you know it don’t take long

Then I went to the river ford to take a swim
You know that black river water is as black as sin
And I washed myself clean as a newborn babe
And then I picked up a rock for to sharpen my blade

Oh when, oh when
Will the spirit come a calling for my soul to sin
Oh when, oh when
Will the keys to the kingdom be mine again?
Oh when, oh when
Will that black river water wash me clean again
Oh when, oh when
Will the keys to the kingdom be mine again

It took me fewer than 10 seconds to find this. What’s going on guys? Television has become boringly derivative, but this is not merely derivative, it’s theft. I wouldn’t mind hearing from someone about this. I would like to hear an explanation.


NOTES:

1) According to one of the show’s producers, the show is based on the Blitzen Trapper song. The group was compensated for its use. It isn’t plagiarism, merely bad writing.

2) If the writers don’t want us to assume the same rules apply in the TV show as apply in the real world, they should not pretend the show is about FBI agents who are part of the élite unit of an actual law enforcement agency. If you don’t want to play by the rules of the real world, create a fake world where you can have stuff fall up because gravity does not exist. You cannot have it both ways, at least not if you want anyone to believe you.

3) I wrote this post September 2012 as a quick comment on what I thought was poor script writing — and un-credited use of someone else’s material. If you wish to continue arguing anyway, please feel free to argue amongst yourselves. I’d appreciate being left out of it.

4) I’ve written a follow-up post to this about morals and Hollywood. You can find it here, if you’re curious. It’s called “Gazing Through to the Other Side: Hollywood and Moral Character.” It alone has gotten more than 1200 views and it’s a better piece that the original … but that’s just my opinion and as the author, clearly I don’t know anything.

SORRY ABOUT YOUR MESS

I don’t follow your blog anymore. You, over there. Yes, you. Don’t look surprised. I warned you.

I used to follow you, read everything you wrote. You made me smile, made me think. But then you went into “pity poor me” mode and lost me.

I feel I should explain the problem I have with your posts. It’s not personal. I’m just not a fan of “spilling your guts on the Internet as therapy.” I don’t believe we solve problems by inviting strangers to take part in our personal lives. After all, our readers only know what we tell them. Whatever support they offer is entirely one-sided.

This is not therapy. You’re trolling for support from people who have only half a story. You may get affirmation and agreement that way, but what does it mean? It’s more about your skill as a writer than your trials and tribulations. Or the validity of your feelings, your position, your life.

As for relationships, if you have an issue with someone and want to confront them? Confront them directly. Don’t ambush them by Internet.

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I have plenty of problems. I don’t need more drama in my life. A steady diet of your drama will drive me away, guaranteed. But hey, it’s your life, your blog. As someone recently put it, “not my circus, not my monkeys.”

You should also consider the longevity of what you say. Once you put it out there, it’s out there forever. You may change your mind, but anything you publish is forever in cyberspace, waiting to bite you in the ass.

Anyone and everyone can read everything you ever publish. Whether on Facebook or a blog, it never goes away. It never changes. You cannot delete or edit it. There’s no time limit. Readers may eventually include prospective bosses. Your government. Friends and lovers. Publishers. College admissions officers. The cops. Teachers. Students. Neighbors. Customers. Bank and loan officers. Potential business clients. Your husband or wife’s divorce attorney. All they have to do is Google you to find everything. Why hand them a loaded gun? Whatever you say today can and will be held against you tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow.

Dumping your most intimate feelings and issues on the Internet where the entire world — literally — can stick their oar in your waters? What could go possibly go wrong with that?  

If you invite the immediate world to comment on your personal life, you have no right to complain if they are unsympathetic — even if they tell you you’re an asshole. Maybe you are an asshole. We all are, sometimes.

Finally, while you may find your tumultuous emotional life endlessly fascinating, the rest of us may not be as interested. I don’t find my emotional life that interesting. Regardless, you’ll find plenty of emotional bottom feeders to affirm your feelings, whatever they are. They’ll gladly keep your anger at the boil, your pot of misery stirred. You think they are your friends, but they are not. They are voyeurs, getting their kicks from your suffering.

Not me, though. I’ll slip away because (1) your problems are not mine, and (2) I blog for fun and your drama isn’t my idea of fun.

You have every right to use your blog as a psycho-therapeutic tool. You are free to publish an unending stream of tormented personal posts. I hope it works out for you.