Kidnapping isn’t protected speech

Shame on you, Buddy Carter, for celebrating DeSantis’ immoral stunt in your weekly newsletter. How dare you support using the most desperate and helpless among us as pawns in a publicity stunt.

Shame on you. Not just for celebrating it but by misrepresenting the support the people illegally transported, and then abandoned, were given by the community and then the state’s governor.

Buddy failed to mention the fact that the people Florida’s governor kidnapped weren’t even in Florida. They were lured by false promises and lies by someone employed by Florida’s governor outside a shelter in San Antonio.

We can have differences of opinion over immigration policies. Kidnapping people as part of a publicity stunt isn’t legitimate political discourse.

Buddy has lost the plot. He’s not in office to help the first district or represent his constituents. He’s lost in the vortex of partisan games.

I’m tired of being embarrassed by Mr Carter.

Time for him to go. Please, please vote for Wade Herring in November. He’s a good, earnest man and will represent all of the first district with integrity.

Categorized as politics

It got me…

COVID is wild. I tested positive on Monday. I’ve been hiding in my room since then. I was with Brian and Jen at UGA orientation in close quarters for 4 days and in the car for 8 hours. Jen and I slept in the same bed.

I’m the only person in the house who’s tested positive, and everyone retested today.

I’ve never run a temperature. I feel pretty crappy, but I’ve definitely been sicker.

I’ll be more careful in the future, especially indoors in crowds, which I’m pretty sure where I got it.

It’s not been fun. I don’t recommend it. But, I’m glad I waited two years to get it, where we have rapid tests, paxlovid and the variants are more contagious, but much less deadly, especially for fat asthmatics like me.

I’m a single issue voter now

The Supreme Court’s decision to strike down Roe v. Wade, and Clarence Thomas’s “roadmap” for which freedoms the extremists on the court and their allies will attack next has crystalized something in my mind that has been percolating since Alito’s draft was leaked.

I’m a single issue voter now.

That issue is bodily autonomy and our right to self-determination. The court and conservative extremists are hell-bent on imposing their views on our bodies, and I will not have it.

You will not push my sisters into an alley, or my LGBTQIA+ siblings back in the closet. You will not deny their right to exist as full members of society with the same rights to self-determination as I have as a cishet white guy.

It’s too easy to say “go vote,” but I’m going to. Please vote. Make sure you choose candidates that support our right to determine the right choices for our bodies. I don’t care if you like them. I don’t care if you disagree with them on some other minor issue. This is literally the most important thing in the world because it will dictate how our children and their children will be allowed to exist in the world for the next century (and that’s not hyperbole).

Beyond voting, we need to support organizations already in this fight, join them however we can, and think seriously about running for office. Especially in the South, too many conservatives go unchallenged. It’s time to fight for every seat in every election and turn back the tide of hate and extremist being inflicted on us by a hateful minority.

I’m sorry I didn’t see it sooner.

The Gun is Fear

The shootings in Buffalo and Texas have wrecked me – and I can’t keep watching the same old arguments fly by in screenshotted tweets in Instagram stories.

It’s all so predictable and isn’t going to change anything. And that makes this grief feel worse.

This thought keeps pinging around in my head and it won’t go away. It’s not fully formed yet. But it’s something like this…

America was built on fear – fear that Europe would come and take it from us; as slavery was ending, that all of these people we’d imported and enslaved would rise up and do us in, and then fear of immigrants and the “others”.

So, we built the biggest military in the world. We have the most overly funded police forces in the world. We made rules about who could vote and who could come here, who could marry who, and where they could go.

We wrapped our fear in laws and religion and called it culture.

We have more guns than people and the mere presence of those guns (the facts are irrefutable, but I know that won’t stop you) is why so many thousands of people die by them every year. Just having a gun in your house, yes, even you “responsible” gun owners, makes you many many times more likely to die by gunshot.

Guns take bad moments and turn them into tragedy. Having access to a gun means that at your lowest moments you might not just drink yourself into a stupor or harm yourself, you could kill everyone you love – in a moment.

We take our fear, wrap it in the flag or camo, and call it patriotism. We arm it to the teeth so we never ever have to confront what it’s guarding: our own inability to face our collective fears.

Until we admit that fear drives our actions – that it drives all of our passion and drive around gun culture, it will not change.

The opposite of fear is love. We need to love ourselves, our children and our communities more than we fear them.

Give up the fear, and we’ll give up the guns.

The Next Step in Representation

My youngest is in the process of graduating from high school, and I’ve got all kinds of feelings about it, so I’ve been escaping to comfort TV and rewatching The Great Pottery Throwdown from start to finish. In season four, they “promoted” kiln man Rich to host (he’s delightful) and replaced him as the kiln tech with Rose Schmitz. They never once mention her gender identity, and she cheerfully helps the potters, encourages them and gets about her job on the show with quiet happy confidence.

In season five, we meet AJ, who goes by “they/them”. No one screws up their pronouns. No one even makes a deal about it at all. Everyone on the show just gets on with doing their pottery things, and AJ is an amazing potter.

Earlier this year, I fell in love with the show Somebody Somewhere. I think I fell in love with almost every character in some way, but the reason I’m diverting from pottery is to talk about Murray Hill. There are a few nods to his transness on the show, like the waiter at the diner flubbing things, but, again, like Throw down, it’s not a huge deal. Where Murray stands out is that Murray is a not just a comic and MC of “choir practice” but we get to see Murray the college professor leading a bunch of students helping out Sam’s dad on his farm. We get to see Murray the professional.

And this is what I love about these three examples: Rose, AJ and Murray and shown first as talented amazing people, who are good at what they do, and are celebrated for it. Their identities are present, respected and acknowledged, without it being the only reason we see them.

This feels like real progress. We’ve seen representation of queer struggle in media for years – of torment, the pain caused by small-minded abusers and close-minded bigots. That’s important.

But, it’s not everything. While we need to acknowledge the pain and struggle of finding yourself and acceptance, we need to show off queer joy and accomplishment. Give me more competent queer people just doing their jobs! Being good at things! Being happy! I want to know that there’s that possible future for my kids, and I’m sure queer kids still coming to terms with their identities need to see it to.

A Small Part

No matter how much one may love the world as a whole, one can live fully in it only by living responsibly in some small part of it. Where we live and who we live there with define the terms of our relationship to the world and to humanity. We thus come again to the paradox that one can become whole only by the responsible acceptance of one’s partiality.

Wendell Berry

On Anger

I read this harrowing essay about being a woman on the internet at lunch today and it got me thinking (which is a sure sign of a good essay).

It reminded me of this episode of Plain English where he talked to Dan Pink about regret. The host makes a joke about how he’s wasted his time meditating because he was just pushing his emotions down instead of just feeling them. It stuck with me because he’s missed the entire point of mindfulness. The point isn’t to push your emotions back down inside you – it’s to process them so you can make progress. The more you do it, the easier it is to process negative emotions so you’re not carrying them around anymore in a leaky bag just waiting for them all to burst out and ruin your day.

How are these two things related? Being a woman on the internet means being assaulted constantly by angry men. These men seem to be angry about literally everything – that a woman dares to have an opinion, that a woman has an opinion they disagree with, that a woman is either too attractive, not attractive enough, or admits that she thinks she is attractive, or that a woman dares to exist at all.

It’s unacceptable that so many men feel like this is OK, or at least that there will be no consequences for their behavior that they do it anyway.

I also keep coming back to their anger, and how avoidable this all is.

All this anger… we don’t have to keep it. We don’t have to inflict it on other people. It takes work, but we can let it go. We can process it and be happier in the process.

Several years ago, I came to terms with the fact that I had what felt like a bottomless pit of anger that I was dragging around with me, and that it was keeping me from enjoying all of the good things in my life. I would be sitting at dinner, enjoying the company of my family, friends, whatever we were talking about, and some event from my past would jump out of the pit and I’d be right back there, seething. I bet no one could tell. I hid it really well – but I was miserable.

And when those angry visions came, you know what would embrace me, what would let me wallow in that anger? The internet. I could hop over to Twitter and find a whole bunch of fellow rage-filled folks and just inhale the outrage for hours, feeling more and more justified that this thing I hadn’t dealt with was worth being miserable about.

Outrage is so exhilerating, intoxicating… an easy hit of righteous indignation could keep me going for another half our of rage scrolling.

I knew it was a problem, but I had no idea what to do about it. I saw the documentary Happy several years before and the way they talked about meditation stuck in my head. Enough that I did some research, read a couple of books, but it never really felt attainable, or that I knew how to do it.

It finally clicked (yay therapy), and I finally started processing my bottomless pit of anger. I felt better almost instantly. Not all the way better, but it felt like I had a toolkit now for how to handle the rage when it came up like acid reflux. Now, I’m working on weaning myself off Twitter, because I can feel the pull of it

The point of mindful practice isn’t to stop feeling things. It’s to better process our inevitable emotions and put them to work towards making us happier. Anger is super useful in moderation. It can motivate us to be better, to ask to for better treatment. But, it’s poisonous when kept around.

I don’t have a tidy ending for this.

The root cause is anger, and if we could get the Angry Men of the Internet to deal with their anger and process it, then women could finally feel safe online, and in the real world.

If the Angry Men of the Internet can’t deal with their anger, then they should be removed from the conversation because this is a public health crisis. We have enough information now to know that anger, especially among men, is highly contagious. If we can’t cure the disease, we should treat the symptoms.

Climbing Mountains or Digging Coal

I was talking to my manager today about what I want to do, specifically about how much of my time I want to spend coding and I came up with a new metaphor!

Coding, especially in Ruby, isn’t the same challenge it used to be. Do I still like it? Sure, it’s fun, and I fear obsolescence so I’d like to stay current as much as possible, but, I’m not scared of any problem I’ve faced in the last… 5 years? 10 years? I’ve been pretty confident I could solve them all.

With code, I’m not climbing mountains anymore, I’m digging coal. It has its dangers, but it’s mostly the same thing over and over again, no matter how much gets delivered or how happy people are, I’ve done it before, and am capable of doing it again.

I used to try something new on every project, and I still do that, but it’s less about code and more about how I work with other people. Mentoring and building people up feels way more like climbing mountains now. Seeing other people flourish and get to the next step of their careers is way more fun than solving technical problems.

What does that mean for my next career steps? Who knows, but it’s exciting to come to that realization.