Category Archives: News & World Events

Doomed to Repeat

LittleHouse

I haven’t blogged in a really long time—six months—not because there hasn’t been a lot to blog about, but because I’ve been forcing myself to keep my head down and get that darn fourth book of the Gifted Ones series finally finished. And I’m actually close on that, but the PC police finally got to me today. Mass shootings, illegal immigrants, retiring Supreme Court Justices, and God knows, FBI soft-coup plots couldn’t drag me away, but when you start messing with my childhood memories in the form of Laura Ingalls Wilder, you’ve gone too far!

Like millions of children the world over, I adored the Little House on the Prairie series, both in book form and on TV. I read the entire series through at least three times. What I, as a kid growing up in the 1960s and 70s, loved most about the series was the authentic taste of a time I’d never know. I was enthralled by the idea of people literally living off the land, building their house with their own two hands, and dolls made of corn cobs.

My young mind was boggled and shaped by events such as hail storms that destroyed the crops—the family’s sole source of food and income, or the bout of Scarlet Fever that left Laura’s sister permanently blinded because there were no antibiotics to quickly knock it out in a day or two. Reading those books helped me develop an appreciation for the time I lived in–for the grocery store within walking distance, the school bus that saved me from sub-zero temps, and our hot and cold running water and flushing toilets.

Laura Ingalls Wilder and her Little House series fascinated us all with its intimate view of a time long past, that is, H-I-S-T-O-R-Y. American history. A realistic, unvarnished, non-white-washed view of American history. And yes, one that is frequently politically incorrect. It appears that Ms. Wilder’s honest recollections of what life was like in the late nineteenth century have now rendered her persona non grata in the literary world. Lines such as this one, describing the Great Plains of the US as a place where “there were no people…only Indians lived there,” can apparently no longer be taken in context.

This week, the narrow-minded “Association for Library Service to Children” decided to remove Ms. Wilder’s name from a prestigious children’s literature award, because of the perceived anti-black and anti-Native American sentiments that are occasionally expressed in her books. I would ask this group, what type of sentiments should a five- or ten-year-old girl have had in the 1870s? The books are truthful representations of the attitudes and experiences of Laura Ingalls’ childhood world. They are autobiographical. She didn’t sugar-coat what she saw and heard and felt, because she wanted to share what her life was really like, not what folks a hundred and fifty years later might have preferred it to be like.

So go ahead, take her name off the award. While you’re at it, might as well take her books off the shelf, too, along with countless other literary gems that honestly reflect the time periods they’re about, like Huckleberry Finn, and most everything Shakespeare wrote, and when you’re done with that, go on and knock down a bunch of statues of guys who weren’t saints but were heroes in their time and place, because, hey, it’s better to make unpleasant history disappear than to study it and learn from it and appreciate it for what it is. Shoot, nobody really likes learning history anyway, right? Let’s just all live in the present moment and keep up with the Kardashians, because that’s like, really super-duper important stuff…

</rant off>

Me Me Me, Too Too too

Powerful Woman

Trigger Warning: I’m getting ready to be super-duper politically incorrect. I mean, even more than usual. Like, way more than usual. So if you can’t stand the heat, here’s a link to a cute puppy page, because I can see you need a safe space.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this whole #MeToo movement, about women telling tales of sexual abuse from long ago, particularly if the perpetrator is someone rich, famous, and powerful. Initially, I didn’t want to comment, because I’m not a joiner. I hate saying “me too” about anything. I’m terribly contrarian and individualistic and love to look for flaws in any form of groupthink, but I’m ready to come out of the closet now and join the #MeToo movement…if only to tromp all over it.

In my younger and prettier days, I experienced the entire gamut, at one time or another, of what is now referred to as sexually inappropriate behavior. So I get to talk about this subject without the SJW’s telling me to “shut up, you just don’t understand,” because I totally do.

Some of those youthful experiences simply hurt my feelings or left me fuming angry for a couple of days, while others caused me great distress, like therapy-and-mood-stabilizing-drug-level distress, so first I have to say, yes, there is a spectrum; while a butt-pinch in a smoky bar might be crude and belittling, it’s not life-changing. It’s just not. And a guy who “forcibly kisses” a woman shouldn’t be classed with serial rapists and child-molesters. We might call him creepy or filthy or some other words I won’t use here, but should he be put in jail? Absolutely not. Now, one of my lovely perpetrators probably should have been put in jail, and maybe would have been, if I’d been up for having my life turned upside down with cops and courts and public shaming and tearful family members and lost friends. Yeah, no, I didn’t go there, and I don’t regret it.

But if that guy was running for office or had a high-up corporate position today, some thirty-odd years later, I absolutely would NOT step up to the podium now, choking back tears, with Gloria Allred at my side, and out the dude as a slime-ball. And for saying that, I’m sure the Feminist Police will have my head. Especially if said slime-ball was someone they were ardently politically opposed to and wanted to destroy. It’d be my duty, they’d have me believe, to save all of womankind from this creepy person of the male persuasion. Even if the creep has cleaned up his act and is no longer a threat to anyone.

Which brings me right to my point. What, really, is the purpose of all the long-ago story-telling, of the #MeToo’ing? What is the motivation for sharing with the world how this big, important person wronged you back when Jimmy Carter was president?

Well, maybe you’ve never told anyone before. Maybe you need support and therapy and soul-cleansing to get on with your life. Fair enough. So go get some–call a hotline, hire a therapist, tell a friend. Trust me, it’ll do a lot more for you than an anonymous post on Facebook. But then, typing a hashtag takes way less courage than actually trying to resolve your issue.

But maybe you’re past that. You’re good with whatever happened. It was a long time ago, after all. Now you want to offer support to other men and women who’ve suffered as you have. Okay, that’d be a nice thing to do. But of course, you can do that without naming names. In fact, you can do it without going public at all. You can join support groups, do volunteer work, write songs or books or poems that express your outrage and your pain and help others work through theirs. But those things take time and energy; where’s the fun in that?

Maybe your reason for “coming out” is more serious. Maybe you want to try and stop an active predator or help another victim put him away. That’s a laudable purpose indeed, and surely, the right thing to do. If your testimony would keep this person from hurting someone else, then by all means, give it and any evidence you have to the police and the courts. Or to the head of the school where the person teaches. Or to the H.R. department where he works. That is how Bill Cosby and Harvey Weinstein were eventually stopped: police procedures and due process. Not much glory or limelight in that, but it works.

But what if the bad guy is no longer a serious, active threat? President George H.W. Bush comes to mind—90 year old man in a wheelchair. Or what if all the allegations are ancient and unprovable, as in Judge Roy Moore’s case? Or what if they’re provable but not realistically prosecutable, as in Senator Al Franken’s situation? Even if everything these men are accused of is true, what is the point of the finger-pointing? You want compensation for your pain and suffering? That’s not unreasonable. File a civil suit against them. Nobody else has to know. In fact, they’d prefer it that way; if there’s any believability to your story, you’ll get what you want, and they’ll get your silence in return.

But maybe it’s not about compensation. Maybe you just want to warn us that this guy is creepy. You want us to know he’s capable of bad judgement, stupid mistakes, and nefarious deeds, or at least he was, at some point in his life. Good thing none of the rest of us has ever done anything we regret. Good thing none of us has one single thing in our pasts that we’d rather no one know. Because surely that one thing absolutely defines who we are and what we’re capable of, a decade or three down the road.

But maybe your desire to share your story is not about helping the world to understand this person’s character. Maybe it’s more that you just want people to know that, damn it, he hurt you all those years ago, that you were a victim of this now rich and powerful person, because poor you, your life was ruined. Unless of course, it wasn’t. Not saying you didn’t suffer great pain, but are you happy today? Do you have a good life? Do you like who you are? If you do, what would you go back and change? How do you know that your worst experiences aren’t the ones that made you who you are?

Okay, maybe it’s none of those things. Then I’ll ask again, why share the ancient history? Maybe, just maybe, what you really want is to bring the person down. Maybe you want to destroy his life and his career and his family—because that’s the likely outcome of a #MeToo tale. Maybe you want to exert control over this guy when he’s vulnerable and unable to fight back, just like he did to you once upon a time. Maybe you just want to even the score.

So maybe you’re stooping to his level. Maybe you’re abusing your power in what is currently a socially acceptable and rewarding manner.

Ouch.

Maybe I just got too close. If you’re feeling the pain, I refer you back to the cute puppy page.

Hillary Fails English Lit

Star Trek Four Lights

I have all kinds of readers of my books and of my blog, so I try not to get up on the soapbox too much, lest I head down the path of ESPN and other entertainment entities who are decimating their own popularity by shoving political rhetoric down the throats of paying customers who just want to relax and be entertained. But whenever the subject of liberty comes up, I feel justified in mouthing off, because, were it not for the fact that I was born in the freest country in the world, I might not have the opportunity to write and publish books and make money doing something I love. Consequently, I must today step up and spout off about some remarks that Hillary Clinton made in her recently published tome, What Happened.

No, I’m not going to get into the discussion of her 43 different excuses for why she’s not our president, because that’s been done. By her. A lot. Instead, I want to focus on her reflections on George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. Let’s see what Hillary had to say about this classic of twentieth-century literature that is almost as old as she is:

Attempting to define reality is a core feature of authoritarianism. This is what the Soviets did when they erased political dissidents from historical photos. This is what happens in George Orwell’s classic novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, when a torturer holds up four fingers and delivers electric shocks until his prisoner sees five fingers as ordered.

The goal is to make you question logic and reason and to sow mistrust toward exactly the people we need to rely on: our leaders, the press, experts who seek to guide public policy based on evidence, ourselves.

Wow, a lot to unpack here. First, and most importantly, for those of my generation: yes, Orwell’s four fingers was cleverly re-enacted in a famous episode of “Star Trek The Next Generation”, wherein Picard is captured by the evil Cardassians (not to be confused with the Khardasians) and tortured about seeing five lights rather than four, but that is a nerdy digression.

Back to Hillary and her painful misinterpretation of Orwell.

Hillary accurately points out that an authoritarian state must control reality, i.e. public perception, in order to achieve its ends, however, she clearly skipped class the day the teacher was explaining the underlying theme of Nineteen Eighty-Four, since she totally doesn’t get it. And if she promulgated the “we need to trust our leaders, the press, and experts” theory for her book report, I guarantee she got a big fat F. The real point of Nineteen Eighty-Four, for anyone who’s actually read the book (or at least the Cliff’s Notes), is that we must never fully trust and rely upon these sources if we are to avoid devolving into a totalitarian society. The freedom that we so richly cherish is dependent on our having free and open access to myriad, uncontrolled sources of information and interpretation. There is no liberty without skepticism and doubt. The day we stop questioning everything, absolutely everything, is the day we imprison ourselves.

Hillary may not be president, but I would argue that she is still a leader. She is a leading member of the high-and-mighty, morally superior Cabal of Thought Police in our country that includes the owners of Facebook, Google, and Twitter, and most of the mass media. These are the people who routinely trot out phrases like “hate speech”, “settled science”, and “experts agree”. The more someone tries to convince you that there are not two sides to an issue, that there is no question about what they are saying, and that you are an idiot for asking, the more likely it is that they are wrong. And that they know it. When one is convinced of his position, he welcomes debate. When he knows he is on shaky ground, he shouts you down and shuts you up, or in the modern era, closes your account, blocks your content, and calls you a racist (regardless of the topic).

In other words, Madam Secretary, it is your folks who are playing the role of Big Brother here, and we all know it.

Equifax Mega-Fail

hacker

Well, this is a little different from my usual sarcastic ranting about current events or tongue-in-cheek reflections on life. In fact, it’s more of a public service announcement. If you’ve been hanging out on the Weather Channel lately watching the second of three powerful hurricanes slam into the southern US, you might have missed this: Equifax, one of the three major credit reporting agencies, had a major data breach this week. Let me reiterate: MAJOR. The breach involves the possible exposure of the personal, private data of 143 million Americans, as well as a few lucky folks in the UK and Canada. For those of you who can’t do the math yourselves, 143 million is about 40% of the US population! In other words, this means you.

I mean, think about it—now some crafty hackers have almost as much private information about Americans as, say, the NSA and the CIA <insert eye-roll>. While Equifax is rolling around writhing on the ground in agony at their own stupidity, they are offering us, their hapless victims, the favor of enrollment in free identity theft protection (assuming that company doesn’t further breach our privacy).

They have set up a website specifically to deal with their screw-up: EquifaxSecurity2017.com. I recommend everyone go there, read the main pages, and then put your info into the “Potential Impact” tab to see if you are one of the lucky ones who was likely breached. So far, my husband, both of my parents, one of my two daughters, my mother-in-law, and I were all yeses. My father-in-law, who passed away 18 months ago, managed to escape the hacker’s clutches. I guess being dead makes your credit profile less attractive.

If you get a yes, and even if you don’t, you can proceed to sign up for the free credit monitoring and ID theft protection. Right now, all they are giving out are dates when you can sign up, presumably so we don’t all overwhelm the credit monitoring company at once. We got in early, all receiving dates in the next few days. I’m not sure if the dates will get progressively further out, or if it’s all alphabetical or what, but I recommend going over there sooner rather than later and getting your info in. It would at least give you a heads-up and some standing to sue if your identity is stolen over the next year or two. Yay! </snark off>

So there you have it: Hillary Clinton is no longer the unquestioned Queen of Cyber Insecurity. Equifax just stole the crown. Now let’s hope nobody steals our identities…