Posts tagged ‘Sacramento’

More Things

Scott Pruitt, the EPA administrator, who was clearly there to dismantle the agency and make it a lap dog of corporations, oh, and don’t forget denying science, is in hot water over his ethical failures, and the latest, trying to fire or sideline those that have tried to call out his lapses. Now think about this. He was the elected Attorney General from Oklahoma. You know, the guy who enforces the laws. Now you understand the teacher strike there. The teachers do not want to be part of a government system that produces mindless morons like Pruitt or the people who put him in power. They want their kids to be able to think. Now Oklahoma is Redder than Red so any parallels you want to draw about voting for Trump, failed conservatism, and dumber than a brick are more than appropriate.

Here in River City (Sacramento) the Stephon Clark protests go on. As I wrote before, this is a tragedy, the cops executed this guy, and nothing is going to happen because the laws favor the police. And I can kind of understand the black communities anger, as much as any white dude can. But what they are doing is counterproductive. Sure Martin Luther King Marched, but he was fighting for equality and voter rights. He was trying to be lawful in a morally and ethical way and yet let police demonstrate their brutality and hatred.

The Sacramento demonstrators, sadly made up of mostly just the black community, are disrupting the community demanding the police officers be charged which, of course, they are not going to be. Totally wrong focus that highlights them against us mentality that then alienates the community. The proof, very, very sadly, is in a story that noted that a nurse fired for her racist comments saying Stephon Clark got what he deserved, had raise $25,000 on GoFundMe. African-Americans have real grievances and they are a special case, there is systematic racism, but to win this battle, they have got to quit making it about them as a special case. Strange how that works.

Michelle Goldberg wrote a really interesting piece this morning about QAnon, which I had never heard of, but where apparently the Trump faithful including Roseanne Barr get their fantasies about Trump. Apparently it is a site created to push the fantasy that all the chaos and incompetence you see is really all part of a brilliant secret plan to make things better with all the secret programs going on:

You don’t create a wild fantasy about your leader being a covert genius unless you understand that to most people, he looks like something quite different. You don’t need an occult story about how your side is secretly winning if it’s actually winning. Publicly, many right-wing politicians and pundits disdain the Mueller investigation and pretend to believe that Trump’s ties to Russia are negligible. But among part of the Trump base, the effort to explain them away appears to be creating psychic strain.

“You cannot possibly imagine the size of this,” said a Q dispatch last month. “Trust the plan. Trust there are more good than bad.” Q almost certainly doesn’t know any state secrets, but he, she, or they understand that some fervent Trump supporters require more reassurance than they’re willing to admit. Their desperate conviction that they will be proven right about Trump betrays a secret fear that they will be proven wrong.

It is amazing what people will do to not think and try to support what they want to believe. Had they been in charge, we would still think the sun revolved around the earth and voodoo medicine works.

Now and finally in the category of lying sack of shit, here is a summary of fact checks from President DFF’s statements yesterday. You will note that most of this is either a racist rant (be afraid, they will rape your women) to absolute lies about a myriad of issues:

“You remember my opening remarks at Trump Tower when I opened, everyone said oh he is so tough and I used the word rape. And yesterday, it came out where, this journey coming up, women are raped at levels that nobody has ever seen before.”

Now this is such an unmitigated lie and attempt at racial fear mongering.  Implicit here is Mexicans coming across the border will rape your white women.  Of course that is a lie, but similar to what Southern politicians did back in the 60s in regard to black men.  Then he tried to make it about the Caravan, except there is no known rapes among or by the Caravan people, and let’s just clear the air here.  Those people in the Caravan are coming to the border to turn themselves in and ask for political asylum.  They faced rape, murder, and the children being abducted in their home country due to drug gangs whose livelihood we support by our need for drugs, so they did what any loving parent would do.  He turns them into rapists and murders.  What a pig.

He then repeated the lie about chain immigration:

 “If you have a baby on our land congratulations, that baby is a United States citizen. We are the only ones…So this guy because he is here can get the Mother and the Father and the Grandmother and the cousins and the brother.”

This is another blatant lie.  In theory it would work, but each link in the chain takes years, sometimes decades to approve and get in the country.  The waiting list for a typical family is over 12 years.  It does not happen, another strawman. Here are some more from the NYT:

“They used to call it tax reform. And for 40 years, they couldn’t pass anything and they didn’t know why.”

False. Tax cuts were passed under Presidents Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Read more here.

“We had a trade deficit of almost $500 billion last year with China.”

This is exaggerated. The American trade deficit with China was closer to $400 billion in 2017. Read more here.

“In many places, like California, the same person votes many times. You probably heard about that. They always like to say, ‘Oh, that’s a conspiracy theory.’ Not a conspiracy theory, folks. Millions and millions of people, and it’s very hard because the state guards their records.”

This is false. There have been no credible allegations of fraudulent voting at anything close to this scale during the 2016 election. Read more here.

“We have very weak laws because of the Democrats,” the president said, adding, “We had very, very weak laws. We have the worst laws — you ever think catch-and-release, which we’re terminating very quickly.

False. Mr. Trump is referring to a practice, not a law, where detained immigrants are released until court proceedings because of legal and logistical constraints. It has occurred under Republican and Democratic administrations alike, including under Mr. Trump. Read more here.

Conclusion:  President DFF is a lying sack of shit and the people who believe in him are deluded morons.  How is that for direct?  See Michelle Goldman above for how they delude themselves with a secret agenda even though he looks like a moron, walks like a moron, and talks like a moron.  If you want to be afraid, he is the one you should be afraid of.  Have a great weekend.  Carpe Diem.

Death Penalty, Facebook, Murder in Sacramento

President DFF has called for the death penalty for drug dealers.  The kids from Parkland (at least some of them) are calling for the death penalty.  They are both wrong, although from the kids from Parkland it is understandable.  From President DFF, it is just stupid.  But he is a stupid, they are not, just human.  We know from tons of data that the way to deal with the drug problem is treatment, not punishment.  But treatment costs money and that would be antithetical to conservatives, so just kill the dealers who are doing nothing more than their capitalist thing, responding to demand.

Oh, and on the drug thing, about half the deaths come from opioids from prescription drugs.  Kill all the doctors.  It is such a throwback idea that it is almost Dark Ages.  Maybe we can start cutting off the hands of thieves.  I once looked at a study of growing poppies in Afghanistan and our approach to burning out their fields.  It destroyed their economy and forced them into the hands of the Taliban.

Okay, on to the kids at Parkland.  Just what does killing the kid who killed and injured your friends accomplish?  Well, one thing it says is killing is okay if it is appropriately justified (you define appropriately) .  So a twisted mind sees slights at school appropriate justification? That is the message you send, killing is justified. Secondly, it just keeps the perp in the news and then makes his death a big deal.  And finally, it won’t help.  It won’t discourage the next one and it won’t give you relief from your grief and PTSD.  Take it from a father who lost his daughter to a drunk driver.  Anger and the need for vengeance just eats up your soul.  He wins.  Life in the obsurity of prison is plenty punishment.

Facebook.  What to do?  I like Facebook because it connects me to friends I would not be connected to otherwise.  Once in a while I actually click on the commercials targeted at me because it is actually something I need or want.  So how else could I be targeted?  Well politically, but good luck with that as I actually have a mind the works and questions everything.  I go looking for fake news, and when I see stuff that supports my point of view, I do the same thing. I get real from real news sources not propaganda machines like Fox News.

So am I missing something?  I understand the information was mined to target gullible voters, but it is also mined for gullible consumers.  We did not have a problem with that.  Now, I never give an app access to my Facebook page and so it cannot misrepresent me, but I guess there are issues.  In a perfect world I would like to see false information removed or identified as false.  It might educate some of those that voted President DFF.

On the other hand, how can Apple, Inc, call me asking to call their technician to fix a problem on my computer? We know it is a scam.  Why isn’t ICE redirected to get those criminals instead of the running down of innocent immigrants and breaking up families?  Sure we need to do something, but I am not sure what yet.

Finally, right here in River City, we got to see a senseless killing of a young black man in his Grandmother’s backyard armed only with his cellphone.  I watched the video.  My take is simple.  Poorly trained and terrified police officers whose mission is to protect and serve themselves.  Okay, the guy may or may not have been breaking into cars.  Last I heard that was not a capital offense.  The cops were chasing him and told him to show his hands (twice).  They never identified themselves as police.  When he did show his hands one panicked policeman shouted gun, gun, gun, and they mowed him down. Twenty shots.

There is no way this is a justified shooting and these policeman should not be policemen.  It will be justified and this kind of wild west shoot first and ask questions later mentality will continue.  Being a policeman is a hard job.  It requires you to take risks.  That is the attraction for many along with the increased power it gives you over your fellow citizens.  That comes with great responsibilities. But you have to take that risk, not react to any shiny object (white cellphone) as a gun, and then the shooting is justified.

There is no scenario in which this guy was a threat to the police officers, just a perceived threat (black with something in his hand).  I remember back in the day, in Vietnam, we could only return fire when fired upon.  What happened to that simple rule?  They were in a protected position.  A little talk and this would have ended peacefully.  But guns are everywhere and there is an attitude among some policemen that this is the wild, wild west.  Hopefully something good comes out of this.  But I can’t help wondering if this were a white kid, would he be dead today?

The Women’s March

The day after President DFF’s inauguration I was deeply depressed. I could not believe the United States of America could elected such an ignorant, racist doofus. She who must never be mentioned here got up that morning early and departed for Sacramento and the Women’s March. I was surprised because that is really not her thing. I stayed home to mope and watch the marches on TV. And I was amazed. All these wonderful women turned out to say hell no. Just when I thought I had lost my country, it was being rescued by all those wonderful women who were standing up for their own equality. Where I was moping at home they were out there making a statement for all of us. I knew there was hope. My country was not dead.

So this year I decided to join in. Make no mistake. This was not men taking over a good idea thing. I was to be there to be supportive of what is and will always be a women’s march. But I probably got more out of it than all of them. First it is a crowd of fellow (what’s the feminine word for fellow?) progressives. You are surrounded by people who want America, a diverse and equal America, to thrive. They all knew President DFF and the Republicans behind him are a threat to our country. Yet it was a happy, friendly, kind crowd. Smiles everywhere.

There were signs for equal rights and equal pay for women, respect and an end to sexual harassment. But there were also signs for bringing back science and reason, saving the planet, protecting immigrants and the DACA kids, protecting human rights, free press, all the things I and apparently they care about. It made my heart just swell. There were a lot more men this year, most of us knowing we were their to support. But I loved seeing both mothers and fathers bringing their kids who had made signs to march, That is where freedom, diversity, hope, love, and respect begin.

My favorite signs were the ones where women noted that last year women were marching, this year they were running. Yes they are and judging from a crowd that was not angry or violent or turbulent, but determined, we are going to be so much better off when they do and win. It was a great day for me. She who must never be mentioned here and our good friend Brooke with her daughter and her daughter’s friend marched in a crowd that was bigger than last year. It was exciting to see the future in a totally peaceful, happy, loving crowd that will fight for our future. This is the America we should be.

Afterwards we had lunch at one of the pubs that now dot 16th and L near the Capitol. It had outside seating, but it was cool and we ate inside. Nothing like a tall cold one to quench the thirst. But while we were sitting there, a mounted police officer rode up (probably the easiest crowd control job he could have ever had), dismounted, tied his horse to the rail and sat outside to have his lunch. It made me laugh to watch all the young girls their parents had brought to the march flock around the horse. Such a girl thing and the horse was so tolerant of all their pats, while the policeman sat quietly by eating his lunch. Probably did more for police community relations that day than has been done in a long, long time. Of course I picked up his check. He will never know. What a great day.

One-Day University Part Two

The One Day University Program brings 4 speakers (2 in the morning and 2 in the afternoon), usually highly informed Professors from around the country, to lecture on various topics, which always have present day implications.  I can not recommend it enough.  Even though one, the last speaker, was only marginal, all the rest made up for him. Sadly the auditorium is full of mostly people my age.  Where is the intellectual curiosity of youth?  It is always amazing when someone who has dedicated his or her scholarly life to a topic speaks.  They have thought about a whole bunch of stuff you have not even considered. Kind of opens your mind.

Okay, here is a quick rundown of what was presented and the lines I drew in my mind:

Five Turning Points that Changed American History – Edward O’Donnell, Professor of History at Holy Cross College

Professor O’Donnell gave us these 5 points in American history that he readily admitted were arguable:

  1. The Declaration of Independence – Professor O’Donnell noted that nobody really thought this was a very important document for the first 20 years or so, it was just the articles against King George.  But it expressed the idea that natural rights are not from a king, but are, well, natural.  Another observation was that it recognized many rights, “and among these are…”.  Kind of blows big holes in original interpretations of the Constitution, which as he noted is nonsense and just a tool to bend rulings to your political beliefs.  Then he showed how the Declaration and its meanings evolved with the use of it for the rights of women, workers against capitalists, and of course to free slaves.  The point that it is a lasting moument that evolves as we better understand our humanity.
  2. The Emancipation Proclamation – His point here is that most of us are oblivious to how this was such a Monumental change that massively impacted our economy and how Lincoln came to declaring the end of slavery over time from facing the reality that the union could not be restored until we did.  Cotton was our number one export, not just from the south, but the north depended on it too, and of course slavery was key to growing that crop.  So changing that whole economic system in many ways was a momentous change. And of course it was the road to full citizenship for blacks and another step to fulfilling the promise of the Declaration of Independence. As we know, after Reconstruction the South returned to their racial ways which made the point that Democracy is not self-sustaining and we have to work everyday to maintain it.
  3. The Spanish-American War – Professor O’Donnell made the point that the U.S. was very isolationist up to this point.  The turning point here was to turn to a more activist foreign policy, not in empire building that was going on at this time, but, “to do the right thing”.  There were moral reasons for engaging in the rest of the world.  Oh, this brings us Teddy Roosevelt and the Rough Riders and Turning Point #4.
  4.  The Reformation – (Not the Church Reformation) Generally speaking our democracy was about protect the people from government overreach (which the Republicans are still stuck in).  But corporations grew to be behemoths, controlling government and pushing the working man to slave wages.  Sound familiar? There were 37,000 strikes in America during this period.  Then we get Teddy Roosevelt and the move to have government reign in big corporations and become the great referee.  The new idea here was Progressivism, the common good versus individualism, government regulation versus laissez-faire.  The great example was the coal strike of 1902 where Teddy arbitrated instead of staying out of the way.
  5. Innovation – Basically the digital age. On this one Professor O’Donnell did not have the time other than to list some of the changes, but not really identify the impacts and how it changes us as a nation.

My thoughts here are several.  The most important is that democracy and our Constitution and its meaning evolve as we evolve.  Sorry you originalists, but you are ignoring history and reality.  Our belief in freedom and democracy has taken on many changes to include more and more people.  Our idea of what government should be about has evolved.  The Reformation, as he calls it, we are still in.  Republicans have brought back what is called the 5th freedom (see One-Day University), that is the freedom to accumulate or the individual over the common good.  They actually have tried to redefine the common good to be wild accumulation by the wealthy (Job Creators).  But as we have seen, it just makes the pie much small for the rest of us.

The Science of Sleep: How it Impacts Memory, Creativity and the Ability to Process New Ideas by Jessica Payne, Professor of Psychology at the University of Notre Dame

This was interesting to me in the vein that we learn really important stuff and then we change nothing in respect to what we learn.  She went through the sleep cycle, why the first four hours were so important, how different brain functions are going on in different periods and why it is critical to our well-being.  First is the holy grail of a healthy mind, sleep, diet, and exercise.  Then she kind of punched holes in those people who brag about their working on 4 hours of sleep.  Maybe one in a million, but the rest of us degrade both our memory and cognition.  She lives in a world of college students who cram for tests and all the data she has says this is the worst way to learn and retain any of the knowledge.  She had data to show that sleep deprivation was very similar to alcohol impairment, and maybe worse as its degradations are more consistent.

As we should know the brain is very active during sleep and part of that function is to process emotions and fear.  If we don’t get sleep, we are more fearful and anxious, faising stress levels and that inhibits cognitive functions.  I could not help thinking that we know that conservatives are more fearful people and I was wondering that if we gave Republicans more naps maybe they could be worked with.  Bottom line here is sleep improves memory by making you resistant to forgetting.  Sleep helps you to sort and decide things, even make breakthroughs when you are processing them while asleep, and finally the data shows that sleep helps with emotion regulation and deal with negative memories.

So what can you do?  Get the sleep, 7-9 hours average.  Take naps but based on sleep cycles either 20 minutes or 90 minutes will do the most good.  Don’t drink alcohol, caffeine, or exercise before bed.  It destroys sleep behavior and fragments the sleep cycle.

One other thing we know is that stress kills off brain cells. And the more stressful you are, your functionality to suppress negative emotions decreases.  This one made me laugh:  Cortisol in the brain goes up with stress.  To test subjects on memory, cognitive ability, and dealing with emotion, they devised a scheme where new students would be asked to make a presentation to a group of three professors who were trained in giving absolutely no feedback, just stare at them blankly.  True torture. She who must never be mentioned here commented that that was a day in the life of most teachers.

How to deal with stress?  Sleep, exercise, social support and connectedness, and meditation, yoga, and periods of rest or just going offline (doing mindfulness excercises).  Then there is just having a positive attitude that helps.  One other thing that kind of bleeds into the next lecture was studies show that those of use who are old use one of our fingers for keyboards and typing.  Young people use their thumbs and it may change the way your brain works.

Here is the thing that drove me crazy.  We know the need for sleep to be true and have tons of data on it, and then we put a very low priority on sleep.  Kids in high school are routinely scheduled so all this is impossible.  Why do we do that? Even at work why don’t we recognize naps.  It will make employees more alert, smarter, and more creative.

Reinventing English:  The Troubled Future of Reading, Writing and Thinking by Seth Lerer, Dean of Arts and Humanities at the University of California at San Diego.

I did not take many notes here as Professor Lerer was just to damn much fun to listen to.  Basically he took us on a tour of how language evolves and started with Beowulf, which he recited in old English and it was delightful, telling us about the language and its peculiarities.  Then we moved on the Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales.  He then took us on a journey of how language evolves and whether dictionaries are descriptive, telling us what a word means, to prescriptive, telling us how it should be used.  The basic thread here was that language does evolve and the English language has had a long journey.  Now we have a whole new culture of creating Urban words and what does that do to our language and really ability to think and reason?  He pointed out the people who write things out (long hand) seem to be able to connect their thoughts more effectively that those of us typing.That interval seems to make us more thoughtful. How this will impact humanity as we become video junkies and using shorthand to describe (or confuse) what we mean, he left to us.  I guess that leads us to depend on the research of people like Professor Jessica Payne above to sort that out.  Most high school teachers I know have a very strong anecdotal opinion about this. Kids are losing their ability to focus and concentrate.

Hamilton versus Jefferson:  The Rivalry that Shaped America by Jack Rakove, Professor of History and American Studies at Stanford.

This one I had high hopes for and was sorely disappointed.  Clearly Professor Rakove knew his topic but he never really connected the dots.  We got a lot of insight into who Jefferson was, not so much Hamilton, and my only impression here was Jefferson was a “law giver”, his role being to set up the laws (framework) and let the nation within that framework.  Hamilton was nation building, creating the infrastructure necessary for a nation to actual work within its frame work.  Their differences gave rise to the Political Parties.  That’s it.  I did not really understand what the rivalry was really about, how Jefferson was more of a states rights person, while Hamilton was a true federalists.  A giant missed opportunity here.  Oh, well, 3 for 4.

So a good day with friends and I got a lot to think about.  Even Professor Rakove is probably going to force me to read more about Hamilton.  Just remember, always feed the mind.

 

Trains and Guns

Nice to see three Sacramento boys (men) do good in Europe.  Really nice to see good stories about Americans in Europe.  They did a really brave thing and it got me to thinking.  They saw the guy with guns and immediately knew he was planning something bad.  That is because in Europe guns are highly restricted.  

What if it had been an open carry state where you can show up at Denny’s with your assault rifle slung over your back and no license required?  That would be the majority of states in the US.  Then would they have just looked the other way thinking he is just another nut job that needs his weapon to feel whole got on the train until he opened fire?

And one other obvious lesson.  He was stopped by unarmed men. We don’t need more guns, we need a lot less.  The lessons are obvious and so far I have not seen one person pick up on them yet.  Oh yeah, and of course we don’t have any high speed trains in the States because we are such an advanced nation.  This story is just full of lessons.

Unbelievable: Misplaced Priorities

Here we are in Sacramento with their NBA Basketball team threatening to leave for Anaheim and we get the following news (Sacramento Bee):  “Calling it “a historic day in Sacramento,” Mayor Kevin Johnson emerged this morning from a two-hour meeting with NBA officials and more than two dozen local business leaders willing to make deposits on multi-year sponsorship deals and ticket purchases for the Sacramento Kings.”   Let’s see, we are firing school teachers, laying off public workers, we can’t fix the streets, but when it comes to overpaid and mostly under-educated basketball players in baggy pants, well, open up your wallets.  Holly crap!  We have lost all sense of purpose or direction.