Money and government

I was thinking about how people make “big” money these days. They make products- by finding places so economically strapped that they can pay slave wages. They find places where they can get resources for free, or nearly so, generally by taking them away from the people who live on the land with the permission of the government.They dump waste products without taking responsibility for cleaning up what hurts others, simply so they don’t have to pay for it.
Is there a way for people to make money on a large scale without exploiting people? Without making their profit by making sure that other people are working for almost no return under horrible conditions, by raping the land and fouling it?
If it is not the role of world governments to prevent these abuses, by making and enforcing laws stopping the people who are creating this (not just the ones who are caught up in the process), then what is a government for?

Things a man can do, and things a man can’t do

This morning I lost a contact. This was exacerbated by my having lost a contact a month ago, so I have been dealing with seeing clearly from only one eye while waiting for an appointment with the ophthalmologist (coming up only in another few weeks- he’s apparently a popular guy). Even then he has to send the order off to some lab, so it will be another week or ten days until I can see with both eyes again.

This brought into focus (as it were) many realizations about how dependent upon my contacts I am. Without them I cannot drive. I cannot work the computer (because while I can make some images bigger, and touch type a bit, I cannot see as far as my hands to find the right keys on the keyboard. No computer means no email, no facebook messages, no working on my website or the CTCW website, no painting, except for miniatures (with those and fine illumination I take out my contacts and have my nose almost on the surface as I work), no watching movies, or, in fact, seeing anything across the room, or anything anyone pointed out to me. I couldn’t tell if someone was pointing at something, or get hints about how they felt from facial expression. I wouldn’t see it.

I felt rather helpless. I called in Willow, whose talents luckily include finding and she did, in fact, find it, which is the only reason I’m able to write this. But the two hours it took her (I had dropped it in my bedroom where the path between bed and dresser is narrow, further blocked by stacks of books and probably related to that, not vacuumed in longer than I like to think, I was able to ruminate on how my poor eyesight would effect the whole family. I’d been getting dressed to go to the dump. Until then, Willow would have to do dump runs. She’d have to do all errands, drive me and Kat to any appointments. I wouldn’t be able to go to the library or shopping. I would probably be able to continue cooking, washing dishes and do other domestic chores, but I was going to have to get help to contact the people who’s paintings I was working on to let them know about the issue.

I started thinking about people in history before there were glasses. (Sadly, my prescription is such that if I wear on the nose type glasses I get dizzy and walk into things, so I don’t bother with a back-up pair.) Grandma could still sew if one of the kids was available to thread her needle. Old people ask those with good eyes to tell them what’s going on. Some jobs were not possible. Helpers help, but it comes down to what you can do and what you can’t.  Which takes us to the Captain Jack Sparrow’s quote I used as a title: “The only rules that really matter are these: what a man can do and what a man can’t do. For instance, you can accept that your father was a pirate and a good man, or you can’t. … And me, for example, I can let you drown. But I can’t bring this ship into Tortuga all by me oneses, savy?”

He compared two problems, what Will chose to believe, and what he physically could do. It’s easier to look at our physical limitations, although those still are a problem. I think most of my old friends share my occasional confusion when we try something we’ve “done all our lives” and it doesn’t work any more. This may or may not be because we define what we can do by our personal best, as though that should always be possible (and improvable). Intellectually we may accept that our reflexes are a bit slower, we tire more quickly, we forget things we “should” remember, and it hurts when we try to lift something we think is not that heavy. We can blame it on others, “my doctor doesn’t want me to…” “I haven’t recovered since the last time I was sick…” but it’s easier to accept our gains than our losses. So we become experts at working around our disabilities. Carry smaller but more loads, think around the need for strength or speed, medicate the pain or work through it (and maybe be cranky), and as a last resort ask for help.

Thank goodness we have modern technologies to help us! No one thinks twice about glasses and hearing aides these days. We are getting more accepting of prosthetic devices and wheelchairs, but we still have problems when someone trying to do something for themselves requires us to be inconvenienced. We recognize that a wheelchair doesn’t help with stairs, but don’t want to pay to have buildings retrofitted with ramps. People with prosthesis remind us of our own fears of dealing with serious injuries. We appear not to be able to deal with “otherness”, and would rather the people who are trying so hard to just have a life just stayed out of sight so we didn’t have to think about it. Many of us even get cross when we have a hard time understanding the accent of someone who speaks English as well as their own, and possibly several other languages. Why should their “disability” slow our lives down? We need to learn to accept disabilities in ourselves and in others as a part of life.

We have to accept what we can do and what we can’t do. When we figure out what we can do, we can often find work-arounds to do more, to get what we need and what we want done. If we accept that some of us need glasses, and when we wear them, we are good drivers, how far can that be from some of us need medications to keep our blood sugar or moods regulated, and can still do what those around us do. We shouldn’t have to pretend that we don’t need the help we need to be accepted.

Learning to believe something that changes your world view- that may be harder, and if I come up with a good answer for that, I’ll share it. After all, Will did eventually believe that his father was both a pirate and a good man. Some day perhaps we will learn to accept that this is true of people with other beliefs.



False but comforting lies

I have had the Downeaster Alexa going through my head this past week, and it rarely fails to make me cry. I can’t help sympathizing with a man who only wants to support his family, even if it is very hard work. Fishermen, Miners, and others, it’s not that they are asking for a free ride, they simply want to be able to keep doing what has worked in the past for their fathers.

The problem is that they are forgetting that things have changed. They are forgetting that although once vast, the resources they are using are not infinite. The shoals and banks have been fished out, the coal and oil is used up, the water from underground aquafers is nearly gone, and that it cannot be replenished in an foreseeable future. This throws farmers who have planted crops in places where the rain will not support them in the same group. Likewise people who have built shining cities on fault lines and floodplains will lose them- or rather the people who live in them when the water rises and the land shakes will suffer. Those who started it are mostly safely in their graves. Perhaps their spirits will grieve for their descendants who they thought they had left a lasting legacy. Their fault was accepting a false, if comforting, lie, and that is shared with those who have to deal with the results.

Like abused women who stay with their abusers who promise to never hurt them again, our miners and fishermen believe the lie because they cannot see any another way to survive. The answer is not to tell them to fix it themselves, but to help them find another way. It is highly unlikely that we can get those who profited from the original decision to take on the cost of cleaning up after it, but that doesn’t change the problem that it still needs to be fixed. People need to be moved away from at-risk areas, and people whose jobs are dependent on depleted resources need to be given other options to support themselves. To not do so is to perpetuate the lie, and that will only make things worse. We also should protect the last of the resources so that, even if they can not recover enough or soon enough for us to start exploiting them again, that they have a chance to recover.

We need to scale back. Use less, find a sustainable level of living on this planet. I read a story about people from the First Nations who traded furs for guns and ammunition. They were able to harvest many more pelts more easily, although their old people warned them not to desert the old ways where they recognized the balance that needed to be preserved, but the addition of firearms and metal cooking pots and cloth and all the other things they could get by trading made it seem foolish not to take advantage of this opportunity. A few generations later the fur trade collapsed, and they no longer knew how to live the old ways. We can learn how to live with less than instant gratification. Remember, children are not hurt by having limits imposed, they feel better when they know what is reasonable. It’s time for us to grow up, and stop acting like spoiled children.

I will not deny that the accumulation of great wealth allows those who have it to patronize artists, and Tiffany and Faberge would not have been able to make the beautiful things they made without patrons paying for them spending years on a project. But beauty can be created without using slave labor to dig diamonds up to create something to sparkle. Pyzanki eggs are as delicate and colorful, if not as valuable and sparkly. These days many women donate their wedding gowns so that others can afford to have one day dressing like a princess. Centuries ago some towns kept a wedding crown to loan to brides, thus sharing the cost, and those who couldn’t borrow those made exquisite straw crowns, now preserved in museums for their beauty. The craft “quilling” was was created by nuns to get the effect of gold filigree with paper strips. Art will happen even without patrons. The aristocratic cultures that exploited the people and resources to create a beautiful life for themselves are like soap bubbles- beautiful, delicate, and colorful, but they cannot last. Sadly, neither can any system built on using resources in a non-sustainable way. To accept the lie is to support and participate in it. I only hope that we can turn to sustainability before we push more resources past the point where they can recover.


Learning from History


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In an attempt to try and figure out what’s going on now, I have been reading up on the history of Germany in the 1930s. Ever since I first heard about WWII, I’ve been trying to figure out how it could happen. It seems to me that while there are some people in the world who like throwing their weight around, the vast majority are good people who want to help each other. They must have been unhappy with what was happening around them. Could they possibly believe that Jews, Romany, Blacks, the deaf, and labor unionists were a threat to them? Were they able to convince themselves that mass murder wasn’t happening? Were they afraid that they and their families would be attacked if they spoke out? These are the questions that I asked, and others with whom I’ve spoken asked, and decades later, we are still asking. Now we can add the question: Can it happen here? and that one we can answer. Yes it could. Which raises the question: How can we stop it? In turn that begs the question: HOW does it work?  Which is sort of where we started. Because if we don’t know how it works, how can we stop it?

So I look back to history. Other than the too-easy answer of “Anti-semitism”, which boils down to “Fear of other and the unknown”, I am willing to admit that antisemitism is real, as is racism. But in a country based on freedom of religion, where Pennsylvania and Rhode Island were created so that a different kind of Christianity would be legal to practice, people who live here shouldn’t be surprised that while you’re allowed to not like other groups, but you aren’t allowed to attack them because of it. I think it’s because the people who are in charge of enforcing the laws, the police and judges, have been allowed to indulge their biases and enforce the laws according to the local cultural attitudes- against blacks, against Native Americans, against Hispanics, and now, against immigrants. If you have been brought up to believe that blacks or Hispanics or immigrants are naturally criminal, those are the people who are arrested and prosecuted, whereas the good WASP boys have “made a mistake” or are “sowing wild oats” and are told to apologize, and behave better in the future. Sadly, because this is the way it’s “always been”, they see no reason not to continue to do it that way. Just as doctors were offended when Semmelweis told them to wash their freaking hands because their germs were making patients sick, it took nearly a half century before doctors actually started accepting germ theory and practicing antiseptic procedure. We can’t expect people who have come to explain all the problems that seem outside their control on some fantasy (whether racism, manifest destiny, or the Second Coming) to suddenly stop change their world view because the laws change. If they don’t like the laws, they’ll figure out a way to fiddle them, and in the USA, to change them.

litany-against-fearMy generation has embraced a few concepts, like the Bene Gesserit Litany against Fear, and Yoda’s advice to Luke.yoda-fear-leads-to-anger  I think the only way to reduce the fear that causes the hatred is to stop giving them something to resist. I’m not saying to allow them to harm other people, but I am saying that we should concentrate our energies on soothing their fears, because when they aren’t afraid, they won’t need someone to blame things on. When the fear doesn’t fuel a need to defend their position, they can relax, and start thinking for themselves, and maybe realize that their experience may support a less fearful position. I’ve recently read about something called the Backfire Effect “When your deepest convictions are challenged by contradictory evidence, your beliefs get stronger.” This is how exercise makes muscles stronger, and it’s clear that it works with how people’s worldview is strengthened as well. It resembles what was called the Semmelweis reflex  (tendency to reject new evidence or knowledge because it contradicts established norms, beliefs or paradigms), but we always need to discover things for ourselves.

On the Muslim Ban, Trump says “Until our countries representatives can figure out what the hell is going on. We have no choice.” This is Trump’s “Big Lie“, the fear he needs to reinforce in order to be allowed to take more power. In 1933 there was a fire in the German Reichstagsbrand (parliament building), a month after Hitler had become Chancellor of Germany, and the next day they made a decree suspending most civil liberties including habeas corpus, freedom of expression, freedom of the press, free association and public assembly. I think we need to keep an eye out for this sort of thing. We must be VERY careful to protect the freedom of the press, and the freedom of expression, as well as the freedom of non-mainstream religions to practice their faiths. They are not the problem, trying to take them away is.

So many times laws are claimed to be to “protect the children” (like what if they saw a trans-person in a public restroom, they could be attacked). We mustn’t let an incident be used to justify stopping what we stand for to be set aside for the illusion of safety. The whole “Homeland Security administration” has created a great deal of “security theater”, but like the Muslim Ban, while it reduces the rights of the many, it has no real impact on the few who might really threaten our security. We have a choice. We can choose to accept that there are a few whackos out there, who are, by their very nature, hard to defend against, or we can choose to treat everyone as a potential threat, turning people against their friends and neighbors. People who are afraid of each other are not secure at all.
We must not let the “protect the children” arguement gain power. Hitler gained a great deal of power by creating the Hitler Youth- an organization like Boy Scouts, where the kids were given handsome uniforms and outings, and trained to be “patriotic”. Back when Justinian was trying to convert the Eastern Roman Empire to Christianity, he started by making laws that banned pagans from teaching (to protect the children), and a few years later from being doctors, then from holding public office, then from being able to pass their property to their children. Full circle from protecting the children to motivating the children to pressure their parents to conform. But it starts with education. For years the backbone of the homeschooling movement has been people who didn’t want to have their children “harmed” by being taught science (evolution) by the public schools. The public school system is what makes a democracy (or even a Republic, like ours) work. If people can’t read and have access to information, how can they decide what to support with their votes?

Another reason people might “go along” with horrible activity around them is the Stockholm Syndrome, which we also see in the behavior of victims of abuse. If your survival depends on it, you make excuses for and even feel affection for your abuser. We have to worry about that one a lot. One thing I’m still trying to figure out is that Hitler seems to have gotten support by giving workers better conditions, shorter work days, longer vacations, more pay, but at the same time, he abolished unions. The Germans who had just undergone a punative depression and inflation between the wars, thought that they were getting better off, and therefore didn’t realize they were not getting rights, but getting handouts that could easily be withdrawn.

Sadly, I still don’t understand how it could happen- although stories of the horrors of living during the depression in Germany help explain how people who finally were able to buy necessities were willing to support the regime that seemed to help with that- until it was too late and they had lost their ability to object. quote-first-they-came-for-the-communists-but-i-was-not-a-communist-so-i-did-not-speak-out-then-they-came-martin-niemoller-285246We must not let our fears lead us to accept scapegoats, and accept restriction of our freedoms. The sooner we draw our line, and say ‘beyond this, I will not be moved’, the better off we will be. We do have a choice, we can choose not to give in to fear mongering, and stand with our neighbors, even if they are different than we are.

I will almost certainly keep reading about the thirties (and other historical periods) to try to find clues on how to keep from being “…doomed to repeat it” (the darker parts of history). democracy-politics-system-concept-flat-d-web-isometric-infographic-politic-tribune-over-abyss-248942326And  I will cling to hope, drawing strength from every judge who defends the constitution, and every person who persists when they know that they are right.


Folding up the chairs

Yesterday I went to a rally to save the Affordable Care Act. (The Republicans want to repeal it with putting in anything to replace it first. This would seem impossible, except for Trump calling back Ambassadors without replacing them.)

I had never attended a rally before and didn’t know what to expect. The rally was held in the gym of the Manchester YWCA. People were throwing weighted ropes over the basketball hoop to hang up a sheet while proxies for the NH senators and representatives (all Democrats) each read statements of encouragement from them, but gave up eventually and the images were shown on the bricks of the gym wall. People clapped for each speaker before and after they spoke. Then a live stream of Senator Sanders at another rally in Michigan. People cheered. A few other people made brief statements including an acupuncturist and someone supporting the use of medical marijuana, and a doctor who talked about the difficulties of working within the current complex system. Then they broke up into smaller groups to discuss more specific topics.

I’m not sure I didn’t stay in the gym because there were comfortable chairs available there (I wonder what the breakout groups in the board rooms sat on?), because when I’d arrived there was standing room only. I’d opted to sit on the floor, and both my legs went to sleep, and people helped haul me up afterwards. I heard later that there had been 200 people (and that was good) and that they’d pulled it together in 6 days. I have no numbers to which to compare either of those figures. I really don’t have much experience with rallies.

I was surprised that people cheered during the Sanders live-streaming. Apparently people don’t applaud to show appreciation for the speaker, but to show solidarity with the rest of the attendees. “THIS is the point I’m supporting.” “THIS statement is the reason I am here.” Perhaps, like myself, they were going to see what it’s about, and how it works. I understand that the Women’s March the day after the inauguration started as a facebook event that jumped to 10 thousand overnight. I don’t know.

What I did notice though, was that during the breakout session, people (including me) seemed to want to express their opinions, their observations, their take on the situation. Perhaps that’s why we go. Because as soon as the session was over. “We have to be out of the building by four.” the crown disappeared. No one left but a few clusters in the lobby talking, and a half dozen people packing up.

The speaker had said “we need to put away these chairs”, but almost no one stayed to do it. How hard is it to fold up chairs and put them in their rack? OK, I’ll give you it’s a bit harder to track down someone who knows where they go, but come on! I also noticed that the ones who stayed all looked, like me, in their sixties or older. My background is the SCA. “We always leave a site cleaner than we found it.” Were these folks so over-booked that they couldn’t stay 15 minutes? Did it just not occur to them that someone else would have to clean up after them?

We need to change the way we approach problems. We need to take more personal responsibility for our government, to pay attention to how those who represent us vote, for not assuming that someone else will take care of everything. I had rather thought that that was the point of political activism. Maybe it isn’t. Maybe it’s simply getting things your own way, not trying to make things fair for everyone.

When you got up from the table last, did you clear your own place? If you ate at a restaurant, you did not. Instead, you paid for someone else to do it. In a fast food place, if you leave your mess behind, the employees still clean up after you, but that’s not part of their job. The cheaper prices are dependent on people handling some of the work themselves. When the attendees didn’t stay to clear the auditorium, clearly they assumed that they didn’t need to do it. They were thinking of a different model than I was, because I’m used to the SCA. We are a diverse culture. But I think we need to start thinking more about cleaning up after ourselves, because that MAY be where the problems come from in the first place.


“It isn’t FAIR!”

We hear that (and if we’re honest we admit that we think that) all the time. But when we think it, we dismiss the thought because it generally has little utility to what ever situation we find ourselves in.

Fair isn’t something that exists in the natural world. It’s a construct we make for ourselves. We use it to teach children how to get along with others. Fair is a way of distributing things- whether cookies or work, in a way that allows us to get on with our lives.

We start with equal as “fair” because kids can easily see that “her piece is bigger than mine!”. Next, we can move onto unequal fairness by giving equal burdens to both adults and children. They do recognize that adults can carry more than they can.

Parents (and others who care for children) have observed that “it isn’t fair!” means “someone else has something I want”. It doesn’t apply to something that only you have or something you don’t want. Wanting something isn’t the same as needing. It’s like admiring, and like imagining joy or comfort that something can bring, whether it’s a toy, or insurance coverage.

It’s often pointed out that there are enough resources for everyone in the world to live comfortably, but that they are not distributed that way. Even if the Rich gave up some of their yachts, third homes, and unused investment income and everyone in the world had enough food to be healthy, safe and clean housing, and medical care, someone would always have less that someone else, and be able to imagine that they’d feel better if they had as much as the other.

If all the worlds resources were divided equally, it wouldn’t take long before they were unequally distributed again because some people wouldn’t want them, some would, and some would be willing to take more, and feel justified that they could use it better. We don’t want equal, we want what we want. I have no use for sports equipment, and many people have no use for the books I have gathered. We don’t want the same things, and that’s fine.

But we can aspire to “fairness”. We can try not to give too great a burden to the weak, and to give back when someone has helped us. We can attempt to maximize the comfort and joy that the things we give can do. After considering fairness for sixty-some years. That’s the best I have been able to come up with.

Faerie Ticks

Re-reading the Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett, I started thinking about the description of  the land of Faerie as being like a tick. In multiple worlds, some produce nothing, so when they find a thin place between their world and others, they go through and steal what they can- like a tick sucking blood from animals it lands on.

We don’t blame the ticks for being what they are, but we take steps to not let them damage us, either through sucking away our blood (resources), or spreading disease. On the other hand, if someone chose to be a parasite, that changes the situation. That’s why we judge vampires to be evil. They decided to get the eternal youth and beauty and strength or speed or whatever the local variant of benefits is, by accepting that they live off the blood (resources, life) of others.

Sadly, it’s easy to see the colonizing period of Northern Europe as being parasitic. If someone goes into your house and takes what they want of your stuff then leaves you something you didn’t want “in exchange”, that’s not trade, that’s theft. The Civilization (and Christianity) the white world gave in exchange for the rest of the worlds resources was the most spectacular con in history (and maybe archeology). Even more tragically, it is ongoing.

I don’t want to be one of the People who offer glamor rather than value in exchange for the good stuff others produce. Changing a culture, especially when it’s both long established, accepted, and weighted in favor of those who you want to change is a monumental task, and I have no idea how to even start. Change myself first I suppose. I’m sure there are other ways of seeing fairies, but this is going to haunt me for a while.

Every vote counts

Celebrities and activists are encouraging everyone to vote as a right and moral duty. But I’d be perfectly happy if the bigots who figure that if Trump wins we can turn the clock back to a world where they can freely beat up minorities without being punished would stay home, drink beer and watch sports. (yes, my own prejudices are showing.) But why are some people less likely to understand the implications of what the election means? I figure I’ll share my perspective, and let anyone who wants point out the flaws in my argument.
When our forefathers created this country and decided to turn over the leadership to the people they were worried that the farmers and craftsmen and shopkeepers wouldn’t have enough information to vote intelligently, so they decided to make free education available. If everyone was literate, they could read papers even if they couldn’t attend debates and see the candidates themselves, and their votes would be informed. Given this amazing right to choose, who wouldn’t be eager to inform themselves? First it took a while to set it up (after all, taking those kids out of the homes and shops meant a huge loss of free labor). Within a few generations the people hiring the young people when they got out of school started influencing the school leaders to get them to produce the kind of workers they wanted, and as we all know, factory workers don’t need critical thinking skills, and education went downhill from there.
People haven’t really changed in the last 250 years, but the institutions we’ve created have. Big Business, Big Agriculture, Big Politics, Big Medicine, Big Education. When you make something bigger, you put control in the hands of those at the top, who tend to be working for the mutual benefit of what we now call the 1%. Major changes are needed. If we want to change politics, we are going to have to change education. How kids are taught to think and gather knowledge and behave has major impact on all aspects of life for the rest of their lives. We need to create people who understand what voting means and take it seriously.
When women fought for the vote people argued that “obviously” they would vote as their menfolk told them to vote. People argued that blacks would vote for whoever paid them, or that they weren’t educated enough to vote (by people who were keeping them poor and ignorant). Some say that people vote as their religious leaders tell them to vote. I’m sure some do. But as we have seen, people tend to think for themselves unless trained not to do so. There are very few things that have as huge an impact on society as education. So think about that the next time you are weighing in on the school budget. If you want a powerful electorate, educate them well.

My thoughts on “scary looking guns”

A friend shared a quote by Ronald Regan: 51549bd932c087b912f126ded42467c0
I’m not sure I agree about that.
I think the concept is that the second amendment was aimed at making sure that people (like themselves) could resist when the government tried to enforce unacceptable laws by using armies. The amendment specifies militias- like the men who fought the British Army at Lexington and Concord. The American Revolution was an armed rebellion. Thus, the second amendment was not to protect your home from cat burglars, but from armies.
ferguson_police_riot_gear_812_ap_img3At that time, the armies were men with rifles and bayonets, and sometimes cannons. In honesty, since the army now fights wars with weapons that cost millions of dollars each, the army is not powered by the infantry and cannot be resisted with weapons you can keep in your home. No matter how much you have, the military will have more. And these days, when they buy a bigger, shinier toy, they sell off their old ones to the police, so THEY have bigger weapons than home-owners can have. Millions of Americans have the AR-15, a semi automatic (one shot per trigger pull), against true military weaponry we are smears on the pavement, if they don’t choose to use explosives. So the quote is not applicable. While it is legal to have an AK 47 in the USA, it must be modified so that it is, in fact, NOT a “machine gun”, it cannot be automatic, but semi-automatic. These laws have been in place for decades.
I do believe that it is reasonable to have background checks, proficiency checks, inspections, that firearms should be stored safely, pretty much what goes for automobiles. I don’t believe that these laws will keep weapons out of the hands of criminals, or people who get so upset or are so filled with hate that they misuse them. Won’t happen. I also don’t think that whatever the framers of the Bill of Rights intended, that we have a snowball’s chance in hell of resisting the government with firepower. The only chance we have to protect our rights are working together in great numbers and denying attempts by the government to change the laws in ways we don’t like.
Sadly, a LOT people are made very uncomfortable about some of the changes that are happening in the modern world. They would rather have Jim Crow Laws, and anti-Gay laws. They want the right to maximize their profits even if it means others starve or people or the environment is injured. That’s why we have government, to protect the rights of those without power.
I don’t think that an armed civilian force will scare the military industrial complex into rational behavior. Had the Jews shot back and not been willing to go into the Ghettos, could they have avoided the Holocaust? I doubt it. I think that they would have had the media convince most people that they were dangerous and would have been killed more quickly. This issue is a smoke screen. Like so many other political arguments we should look past it and look at what the real issues are.
People die when people are allowed- even encouraged to hate. If there were no bullets, they’d use machetes- like they did in Ruanda. Let’s work on the hate, not the style of guns.


Work clothes

I wasDSC01138 putting away laundry this morning, and as I sorted tops into the three piles I use: work clothes, normal clothes, and Wear in Public clothes, I had that little nagging in my head that says “if you can’t wear them in public, you should probably throw them out.”

I’ve been throwing stuff out a lot lately, and I like it. I was talking to my sister, and she mentioned chucking a plaid hair ribbon she’d had since college recently. It is very hard for children of those who were raised during the depression to throw out something that’s still good. It’s hard for anyone who loves the Earth to discard something that is still good. The problem is that sometimes it takes so much effort to find someone who can use whatever it is, it’s easier to just keep holding on to it.

People are always full of useful suggestions: “Purge your closet of clothes you haven’t worn in a year, that look like each other, that you don’t fit, that you can’t wear in public.” Brilliant idea, except “not”. This is based on the assumption that you can always ‘just’ go buy a replacement any time you want. You can’t replace the sweater your grandmother made, even if you had the money and you never wear it. Even taking it out and hugging it once a year when you clean the closet justifies keeping it. And lots of people DON’T have the money to replace things. It’s easy when you have money to say “it’s only” some amount that seems insignificant to you, but that number is different in different situations.

My categories work for me. I LIKE the category of work clothes. When I put them on, it means I’m going to be accomplishing something I want to do- working in the garden, organizing the attic or pantry or backs of closets, maybe cooking. These may not be things that would bring you joy, but they feed my soul. You could probably recognize an artists smock as a “good grubby”, but my apron that is permanently stained where my belly hits the counter also speaks of the joy of making wonderful meals and treats to me. The clothes at the back of my closet (that may or may not still fit) are the ones that I only pull out for public occasions like funerals. You can’t rent them, and I have no use for them at other times. When wearing them, I feel not attractive, but uncomfortable. “Am I going to ruin this?” spill food on my boobsis a constant hum in the back of my head. I prefer the clothes that if I wipe my hands on them when I have flour, or soil or paint on them, it doesn’t make a huge difference. I’m getting something DONE! Yes, I would look out of place in the board room or at a cocktail party. Tough. I will give you the respect of assuming that if that’s your choice, you do actually like wearing those clothes, being in those places, and doing those things. Please give me the respect of knowing that when I put on my stained shirt and skirt, not only will I be comfortable (unless I’m out somewhere where people will look at me like I don’t know where I am), I will be happy in the knowledge that I’m not going to ruin a nice piece of clothing.

The theory seems to be that I won’t be happy unless I’m wearing new clothes*. I’ll give you clean clothes- those feel great! But clothes that fit well, keep me warm or cool, are in colors and fabrics and styles I like make me feel good, and especially when I’m not worried about ruining them. Modern (cheap) clothes seem to be unwearable after a half dozen wearings. Good quality cotton, wool, and linen clothes usually don’t stain as easily, and can wear for generations. I also make my clothes because frankly, most of what’s available for fat women is ugly. I think they’re trying to go with an image in their head of a fat aunt they didn’t like too much, and design what they remember her wearing. Sorry, I am a large canvas, I will paint a flamboyant painting on it! When I’m out in those clothes, other fat women ask me where I got them. I know they look good (until I destroy them).

I’ll try to remember to put on clothes that don’t make you feel uncomfortable when I go out, but let me wear the clothes that make me happy the rest of the time.

*score one for the modern advertising industry!