Monday, July 25, 2016

Debbie Does Despicable

I had an entire different blog planned for today, but then Debbie Wasserman Schultz got in the way. 

Booed off the stage
Let me just say getting rid of DWS is long past due. The woman was molded in the style of Boss Tweed, and that's not exactly a compliment; frankly, the only thing missing was the cigar. Her brand of politicking is old fashioned and opaque; a throwback to Chicago under the Daleys. At a time when We, the People are demanding transparency in all manner of political process, her specialty is smoke and mirrors. We, the Democratic Party, are better than that. I don't ever want to hear that a Democratic party official sandbagged another Democrat; that's not their job I expect the party to allow all potential nominees their chance to present. What she did, what she allowed to happen, was unforgivable in my book. 

The opening of the convention was definitely a study in contrasts. Despite the Debbie Debacle this morning, the opening night events were well coordinated. The speakers were, overall, pretty upbeat, except for Elizabeth Warren who was a bit dark, but totally spot on. It was about being a unifying force, not a divisive one. And the evening progressed well. The crowd was as diverse as the population. It was a crowd; people banded together for a cause. They listened, they responded, they were engaged. It was the antithesis of the GOP convention.

Michelle Obama just finished speaking. This lady is a class act. Sarah Silverman, with Al Franken as her straight man, was a breath of fresh air. Cory Booker was inspiring. But the First Lady was a tour de force. We owe both her and the President a debt of gratitude for 8 scandal-free years. They have shown themselves to be committed to each other, to their daughters, and to this nation. They have set as fine an example of deportment as anyone could ever have done. They brought Grandma to live with them in the White House to provide additional stability for the kids. They went to school events just like any other parents. Their daughters are models of decorum, although I'm sure they aggravate their folks like any other teenagers on the planet. The Obamas are the embodiment of family values; we should be thankful that for 8 years we were privileged to watch them be a family. 

On the other hand.....

Just to be sure I wasn't making stuff up, I also read the GOP 2016 Platform. A lot of it read like science fiction. There were some very interesting quantum leaps, but this one, about repealing the ACA, stuck out: 
In its place we must combine what worked best in the past with changes needed for the future. We must recover the traditional patient-physician relationship based on mutual trust, informed consent, and confidentiality. To simplify the system for both patients and providers, we will reduce mandates and enable insurers and providers of care to increase healthcare options and contain costs. Our goal is to ensure that all Americans have improved access to affordable, high-quality healthcare, including those struggling with mental illness.
And then Ward and June took Wally and the Beaver over to good ol' Doc Welby's office. The genial GP looked at the large red lump on the Beaver's rib cage and said, "Oh, don't worry about a thing. Just put an ice pack on it and it'll be done in the morning." 
The rest of the platform is equally other-worldly. And it is very close in supporting what went on at the GOP convention....which was nothing. The only thing they had was hatred: hatred of Hillary, hatred of the world, hatred of, quite frankly, most Americans. Other than Trump saying, "trust me," what program did they propose? What progress did they suggest? What policy did they illuminate? None. The speeches were filled with vitriolic hyperbole

Do yourself a favor...read the platform, especially if you are planning to vote Republican. You need to know and understand what you are voting for. 

The other thing I do want to mention this week is about Trump the man. He bills himself as a successful business man, but how successful are you if you stiff your workers time and time again? 

Of all the wacko things I've read this past week, the list below was, I believe, the most important. 

  • Number of times Trump has filed for chapter 11 bankruptcies - 4
  • Number of lawsuits involving Donald Trump - 3500
    • As plaintiff - 1900
    • As defendant - 1450
    • Bankruptcy and 3rd party cases - 150
  • Number of times New York State has sued over non-payment of taxes - at least 36

If this is a successful business man, I think I need to revise my definition of "successful," as well as "business." You can read a fairly well documented list of his legal proclivities on Wikipedia.


From the article on Wikipedia:
Donald Trump's third corporate bankruptcy was on October 21, 2004, involving Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts, the publicly-traded holding company for his three Atlantic City casinos and some others. Trump lost over half of his 56% ownership and gave bondholders stock in exchange for surrendering part of the debt. No longer CEO, Trump retained a role as chairman of the board. In May 2005 the company emerged from bankruptcy as Trump Entertainment Resorts Holdings. In his 2007 book, Think BIG and Kick Ass in Business and Life, Trump wrote: "I figured it was the bank's problem, not mine. What the hell did I care? I actually told one bank, 'I told you you shouldn't have loaned me that money. I told you the goddamn deal was no good.'"
To Donald Trump, we are all stupid and he is the only smart one in the room. He tell us that over and over. Do you really want to believe that?

I'm not crazy about Hillary, but she has experience and skills. And she's smart enough to surround herself with equally skilled people. That has to count for something. And right now, she's the only choice on the podium. 




Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
Do your homework, folks. You have to make a choice; make an informed one. 

BONUS TIP
Don't forget to get your copy of DREAM DANCER.
Please review it! 
Your review is important!


Monday, July 18, 2016

When I'm 64

One week ago, I celebrated a rather modern, if not iconic, milestone. To mark said occasion, I bought myself something I never thought I would have, something I have longed to have, something that still makes me pinch myself when I think about it, so small a thing, but HUGE. Nope, not diamond earrings. Not a small Picasso. Not even a star named after myself, although it is something that, in some small way, makes me immortal.

I bought myself an ISBN, specifically, 978-1-5323-1237-3.

The journey to this moment was a long one. I have great rejection letters from the big boys back in the 90's telling me that while they loved the book, there was no place on their list for it. I thought I was writing lust-in-the-dust, they said I was writing nouveaux-feminist-action-adventure literature. I asked my agent what that meant, and she said, "Lust-in-the-dust with big words." Well, it's really a bit more than that. It's a good yarn and if you like action literature, this is it. Did I mention the title?


This is really exciting stuff. Okay. I think it's really exciting stuff. Apparently some people who shop Amazon do as well, because slowly but surely, the book is selling. I would like if it was selling faster, but hey, everyone has to start someplace. 

Meanwhile, back at the ranch......

The GOP anointing is now in progress. Trump named Indiana governor Mike Pence as his running mate. And their campaign staff came up with a scathing brilliant logo that is destined to go down in logo-design history. What says "I Love America" more than Trump's T penetrating Pence's P? And the added bonus of TP: Make America Great Again? Never underestimate the importance of TP. Your life would be a living, not to mention messy and smelly hell without it. 

So I just watched a little of the Cleveclown Convention. So this great, star-studded cavalcade of Trump-ettes consists of Scott "Chachi" Baio, some soap opera guy Antonio something Italian, and a Duck Dynasty guy. You mean to tell me that in a country filled with would-be media whores you can't come up with Honey BooBoo Mama or a disgruntled Kardashian?  Whoa. Not to mention the GOP Clown Cavalcade that has declined to appear at all, including Mama and Papa Bush and all the little Bushes. Mitt Romney, John McCain (there's a surprise) and Ohio's governor and former candidate, John Kasich are all no shows. Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin have both disappeared from the speakers' list, so I'm guessing they're no shows. Of course, you know Omarosa has been hired as the Black Outreach coordinator. That's why the entire convention center is lily white.

Keep America Safe? From what? Trump's rhetoric is a nuclear attack waiting to happen. He will not soften his rant; he is divisive and hateful. And he has a whole lotta support. 

I listened to that Smith woman railing about Benghazi and decided the dog had to be walked. I couldn't go back to it. Every time I changed the channel to a convention station, I just wanted to barf. 

Trump says he's the best friend for women, LGBT, and blacks, but his running mate has signed the most restrictive, discriminatory, and yes, hateful laws we've seen since the days of segregation. No matter what Trump says, if he is elected, there will be attempted round-ups. New militia will appear, and with or without government sanction, they will take matters into their own hands. The intensity of the attacks on Hillary are harbingers. Keep that in mind, folks. The attacks are personal, they are studded with outright lies, and they are not-so-masked masked calls for violence. West Virginia's House of Delegates member Michael Folk tweeted: 
“@HillaryClinton You should be tried for treason, murder, and crimes against the US Constitution… then hung on the Mall in Washington, DC”

Not a terribly smart guy if he doesn't know horses are hung and people are hanged. But then again, how smart can he be? 

I don't say this lightly, but look at Munich in the 30s. You are seeing the slow formation of a new reich. Listening to Giuliani screeching about ONE AMERICA, all I could hear was a motto from long, long ago, from a galaxy not far enough away:  

Ein volk, Ein Reich, Ein Führer.
One People, One Empire, One Leader 

And if that wasn't enough to frost the cake, Donald Trump's entrance was enough to make you just throw up in your Spotted Cow. 


I already hate We Are The Champions already, but now, I'll never be able to hear it without being physically ill and laughing at the same time.

When I was in high school chemistry class, I used to wonder if Earth was just part of a molecule that made up part of a giant lab table. I thought I was the only one who had that theory, but turns out someone else did, too. Theme and variation was the closing of MEN IN BLACK. 

Watching the convention tonight, I hoped we are nothing more consequential than a marble. Because if we are supposed to be sentient beings, folks, this is not it. We are on the verge of running a guy for POTUS who is not merely a narcissist, he is a liar, a cheat, a thief, and a fraud.  His so called platform will send us right back to the 19th century. If we live that long. 

I firmly believe Donald Trump is dangerous. He had made this election about him and his hyperbole. This election, according to all indications, is not about governance, nor is it about character and honor. This election has been reduced to rubble. And We, the People should be ashamed of ourselves. 


Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
Buy DREAM DANCER, and keep this writer afloat. 

Monday, July 11, 2016

Aftermath

I wish I had something profound or insightful or even uplifting to say about the horror of the last week, but I don't. 

In Minnesota, gun violence did not end with the shooting of Philando Castile or news of the cop massacre in Dallas. Nope. It went on and on and one of the latest victims was a 2 year old in the back of a minivan. A gun battle between the minivan and another car resulted in that child's death

If there is a brief yet positive note, we've not heard from the NRA all week. 

During the demonstrations here in the Twin Cities, there was violence. People from overpasses threw rocks and firecrackers at the cops. I thought of Tommy the Traveler, that provocateur of the 60s who came to demonstrations with an eye to turn them into riots. It's easy enough to do in a crowd. Friends who were there said they didn't know where the rocks came from; their position for Saturday night was non-violent, passive resistance. That position is reinforced by videos from the early stages of the march. The antagonism was not there. The fastest way to destroy a peaceful demonstrations and turn it into something sinister is to allow violence to occur. Where did it come from?

We stand together at the edge of a chasm. We can bemoan our inability to cross over, or we can pull together to make a bridge. This is a choice. 

If you are interested in how to make the bridge, there are resources out there. Here are a couple of found particularly helpful:

I may not agree with everything said in those links, but all three are thought-provoking and definitely worth a read. 

In the end, I have nothing profound to add. I am sad, I am angry. And I have no idea what to do about it. Everything I once believed about progress in this country is turning out to be nonsense. The more I read, the more I realize silence cannot be an option, but I have no voice, no standing in this fight. The best one can hope for is to stand in the crowd and attempt to be present.

If you're white, admit you're not exactly having the hoodie talk with your sons. Admit that being of color does make a difference in how your kids are treated. Stop pretending it can't happen to your kid. 

There is no easy fix to this mess. No one has a an end-plan or can even tell you what they want the end to look like. All anyone can say right now is that there is a need for justice in the community, in the county, in this country. 


Maybe that's the secret right there. Be present. Be aware. Change the world beginning with your own.

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
Getting an ISBN number for your new novel makes you feel like the Velveteen Rabbit.
Suddenly, you are real. 




Monday, July 4, 2016

When in the course of human events......


How many of you have ever actually read the Declaration of Independence? I would venture to guess not many of you, and if you have read it, it was probably when you were in junior high. Our understanding of stuff changes over time, and this applies to major documents like the Declaration or the Constitution....and even the Bible. As we age, our world view grows, develops, matures...at least one hopes so. 

What are these truths we hold to be self-evident? All men? Only men? American me? All mankind? Are women really excluded? 

Do yourself a favor in honor of our 240th national birthday....and read the Declaration. Remind yourself why we are voting in November, and what your vote means. Sorry if you think this is a bit maudlin or worse, moribund, but it's not. This is a friendly reminder that we are what we vote. 

Let me make it really easy for you:

U.S. National Archives and Records Administration
 www.archives.govJuly 4, 2016 

The Declaration of Independence: A Transcription

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

  • He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
  • He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
  • He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only. 
  • He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures. 
  • He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
  • He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
  • He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
  • He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
  • He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
  • He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
  • He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
  • He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
  • For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
  • For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
  • For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
  • For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent: 
  • For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
  • For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
  • For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
  • For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
  • For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
  • He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
  • He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people. 
  • He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
  • He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands. 
  • He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.
*************
*************************************************


The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week

Freedom is not just another word for nothin' left to lose;
 it's more than a state of mind.
Freedom is our most precious commodity. 



Monday, June 27, 2016

The Search For Normal

Possibly the stupidest thing I saw/heard this weekend was a twit from the Big Twit himself:

I like Lily Allen anyway, but this just endeared her to me. Short, sweet, and right to the succinct point. 

The second stupidest thing I heard was the one about the political Brexit Bus:


Followed by this admission:
AFTER Leave leaders, including Nigel Farage of the U.K. Independence Party, and Boris Johnson and Iain Duncan Smith of the Conservative Party, maintained that they had never promised that £350 million a week would be given to the N.H.S. Mr. Duncan Smith called the figure “an extrapolation.” Mr. Farage said that the £350 million claim was “one of the mistakes that, I think, the Leave campaign has made” and that anyone who voted to leave because of the promise “made a mistake doing that.”  (The New York Times: What Leaders Said Before 'Brexit," And What They Say Now)
Gee, pols that lie through their teeth and paint it on the side of a big red bus? Now, there's a new concept. Somehow, the Brexit debacle, no matter what side one is on, made our Cavalcade of Clowns look good. And that's really saying something. Which is a little bit scary, if you ask me.

So, a couple of weeks ago, I was asked if I would be interested in doing another election thing for the New York Times. Of course, I said I was interested, and gave them the info and the permissions they requested. The only thing I've heard since is that they've delayed the selection process. Whatever that means. But I wondered about what I could offer to this convocation of opinionated humans. I am so tired of being outraged by what I hear with my own ears. I am tired of being stunned by what I read. I'm tired of the lies and the innuendo and the news spun so finely that it's more cotton candy than news. I find I watch the local stuff, pay scant attention to network news (I'm an NBC watcher for that) and then immediately turn to PBS when Lester Holt stops talking. I like Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff. I like Margaret Warner and Hari Sreenivasan. And I really like when the legal lady, Marcia Coyle, explains SCOTUS. I like the lack of spin, the no-nonsense, hyperbole-free reporting. "It's the truth, it's actual, everything is satisfactual." (Apologies to Uncle Remus.)  And that's about all the news I can take these days.

Instead, I am finally turning my attention to my own changes. Change of status (now widow AND orphan.) Change of venue (now living in my townhouse and dealing with the aftermath of a move.) Change of relationship with the rest of the world. I am tired of drama. I wrote drama for 30+ years as a playwright, I have no desire to live it.

I married right out of grad school. We had kids. Our year of empty nest was a screaming good time, then FIL moved in. Care-taking roared back into my life. And then, Ziggy had the poor form to shuffle off this mortal coil. For seven more years, I was caretaker for FIL, and then my own folks. 

I DO NOT REGRET ONE MOMENT OF WHAT I DID

Is that clear enough? I did what had to be done, and I am glad of it. I got to know FIL in ways his son never did and I got to coax him into having relationships with his grandsons he never dreamed he would have. He took his leave, and seven months later, I was a daughter again! Fraught, difficult, challenging, sometimes even painful, but worth every version of emotion. I'd not lived near my folks for some 40 years, but this last year, I was on site when they needed me...and if the truth be told, I needed them. I had my mom as I went through breast cancer. I told them the truth from day one, and she was my staunch support as I went through it all. Having them here was a blessing. 

And now, they are all gone. 

For the first time in my life, I am the boss of me. My decisions are my own. My choices are my own. And even the act of picking out a couch is my own. This is scary. Really. But it's also invigorating. And fun. Sorta. It's an adventure. I feel more 22 than on the edge of 64. (Yes, I'm pushing 64 and no one is gonna sing that song to me.) 

So what is it I really want?

I want normal. The kiddies came over for Shabbos dinner on Friday night. While I cooked they took Little Miss to our little community pool for a swim. When they were ready to eat, they came back; dinner was ready. We ate, we sat. When Little Miss ran out of day, they went home. It was nice. It was lovely. It was nothing special. It was normal. 

Normal is different for everyone. Normal is a barometer for life. Normal isn't always good, but it's not always bad. Sometimes, normal is that place in between the two where stuff just goes on without fanfare. At other times, normal is crazy and hectic and frenetic. But for me, right now, in this moment, the normal I'm embracing is quiet, peaceful, and gentle. For me, right now, it's calm and welcoming. Of course, there's every possibility I will be bored outta my mind in  a couple of months, and I'll go in search of crazy. 

Who knows?

The last thing anyone should want is a 7/24 news cycle from Nutty Land. I am working really hard to conquer my inner rage at the bigot Trump. He makes me want to vomit. He disturbs my chi...or qi if you're Chinese. He's a narcissist, a braggart, a racist, a misogynist, and a general all 'round asshole. And he thinks once he's POTUS, he can executive order his cockamamie policies into law. The man is delusional. He wants to be god. This is not normal.

People who think they are god do a lot of weird stuff. Just take a listen to his rebuttal against Elizabeth Warren today. 

But only moments later, Trump reportedly called NBC News reporter Hallie Jackson and personally unleashed on Warren, repeating his attacks on her claims of Native American heritage. (More on this particular line of attack here.)

“Elizabeth Warren is a total fraud. I know it,” Trump told Jackson. “She made up her heritage, which I think is racist. I think she is a racist, actually because what she did was very racist.”

“We call her Pocahontas for a reason,” Trump insisted.

This is not a grown up. This is not someone I want standing behind the podium at the UN. This is not a person I want making decisions about war and peace. We, the People deserve a reasonably normal human being in the White House. Or, at the very least, one who doesn't paint himself orange like Garfield the Cat. 


The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week

There's no place like home. 


The search for normal...sitting on the deck.

Monday, June 20, 2016

HOMOGENIZATION: It's for Milk

Well, the Junior Son and family are now fully ensconced in their new digs. Mrs. Junior Son is back from a graduate school field trip to Stockholm. Little Miss has discovered the ongoing excitement of having her own personal swing, and Bialy, the hyperactive GSP, is loving the ginormous back yard. And I got to mow a little this week, so I'm happy. There ain't nothin' like a few turns around the yard on the tractor. 

I also got a call on Friday that the Rx-7 is up and running. At some point, I will go over to drive it; then I will be able to step away for good. 

Father's Day was, admittedly, tougher than I anticipated. This was the first one without my own dad. Although there was no mad scramble for the annual Father's Day poem, I must confess, I sat at my desk thinking about all the things I could've or might've or should've said. I was missing more the unstoppable guy and not the guy who was fading away last year. It wasn't as if I loved him any less because he'd stopped being the force of nature he had been, but I realize the camaraderie is what I missed most.  Oddly, my guys having already gone through this, were no help whatsoever. 

So why am I writing about this? 

Because this is real life. These are the gains and losses, and not all are measured in terms of money or property. Real life is about the people with whom we associate, and those choices we make in those associations. We can choose to include, or we can choose to exclude. Conversation becomes overly dull with a single cast of characters, so we invite new people to the table, to the event, to the....whatever. We tell ourselves we are open minded, open hearted, open mouthed. 

Really?

We yammer constantly about diversity and inclusion, but do we know what it means? I'm not so sure. 

Let's begin with a definition from Merriam Webster:

Full Definition of diversityplural diversities
 1:  the condition of having or being composed of differing elements :  variety; especially :  the inclusion of different types of people (as people of different races or cultures) in a group or organization <programs intended to promote diversity in schools>
 2:
  an instance of being composed of differing elements or qualities :  an instance of being diverse <a diversity of opinion>

Nowhere in that definition does it say anything about race, creed, political persuasion, or sexual orientation. It says, "different types." Homogeneity is the enemy of diversity. The goal of diversity is to have lots of ideas, lots of elements, lots of other thoughts going around. This is the stuff that makes for invention, for development, for interesting conversation, for learning, for growing, for everything except being the same. 

Diversity is exactly what it says it is. Different people sharing different ideas. Spouting different philosophies. Debating and discussing. Anything else is boring. 

If you decide to accept diversity as what it's supposed to be, it means you're going to stop throwing brickbats at people. You're going to be more willing to listen, to understand, and perhaps even to grow intellectually. Most of all, you will be exposed to something other than the noise between your own ears. 

We read Facebook, Twitter, SnapChat...all sorts of media that brings up instant news all too often tailored to our own tastes by some algorithm that shows us what we want to see, not what we should see. We are becoming the humans of WALL-E, confined to our recliners watching only what we want to see. 



That is not how real-life should be. Homogenization is for milk. Homogenized society is a doomed society. It will stagnate and die. And it's boring. 

Personally, I'm sick of boring. I want to hear what the opposition has to say. I want to understand why some people think Trump is presidential material. I want to listen to someone better explain how jihadism isn't representative of all Islam. This doesn't mean I'm going to become a Republican or join a mosque. It means there are lessons to be learned from any position and/or opinion. 

So here's the deal: if the places you go are only interested in promulgating the same stuff over and over, move quickly to the nearest exit and get out. Your brains are in imminent danger of becoming mush. 

Instead, find someplace where people talk, a place were ideas run wild but browbeating, bullying, or marginalizing are verboten. Learn to stand your own ground in a debate, but learn to listen. Knowledge is not dangerous, but ignorance is. That's the most dangerous part of all. 

If America is to be the Land of the Free, if we are to preserve the Bill of Rights, we need to hear it all. Hearing is not agreeing, and agreeing is not required. Exercise your right of free assembly. Exercise your right of free speech. And most of all exercise your freedom to think for yourself. 

And then, on the first Tuesday of November, try to remember this is a democracy. G-d willing, it will stay that way.



The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
Buy only local strawberries. 
The ones from far away have no flavor whatsoever.