Tag Archives: Current events

Random Reflection: We are being played.

Two things triggered this post.

First, we keep hearing about inflation. So yesterday, when we went to Fred Meyer (a Kroger store) to grocery shop on Senior Discount Day, we paid attention to the prices of things we usually buy more than usual. They are mostly about the same as they were last year and many the same as the year before (my husband is kind of anal about keeping records). We don’t drive much so gas prices don’t figure into our calculations much. The only empty shelves we’ve seen were a couple of weeks ago during a really good sale on Progresso soup.

Second, a couple of days ago, my husband read me a bit of a newspaper article that said that “red” states (I really don’t like this notation, I’d prefer to use rural dominated or something less us/them) are experiencing higher inflation. The inflation rate is greater than wage increases, so that doesn’t explain it.

What does explain it? Those areas tend to be information silos, places where the “news” is dominated by two, extremely biased, corporations: Fox and Sinclair.

So what’s going on?

Fox has been caught using false images reporting empty shelves. They even used misleading footage in their “apology”. The corrections aren’t actually reaching the people who were misled in the first place. Sinclair is also banging away on this narrative (my dad watches it and I spent a few days over there when he was ill–my head is still aching).

Here’s the thing: while there are some real inflationary pressures, a significant part of inflation is psychological. If you go to the store expecting to pay more, then the store will happily raise prices to satisfy your expectations. I really think that one should question the (boy, do I hate this word) narrative being pumped out by these people…and the mainstream media follows along like little sheep. Even the “late night” comedy crew is leaning into this story.

Gas prices are high-ish, not the highest they have ever been even (I paid more than this a decade or so ago), though they are getting close. Again, the oil and gas industry has a lot to gain by making you believe that prices are going up. You go to the pump expecting to spend a bunch and they are happy to take it. The industry is milking us for what they can get, and it’s worth a bundle to them.

There is no practical reason why prices should be higher in “red” states than they are in “blue” ones. It’s just that people are being bombarded with melodramatic, and inaccurate, stories of how bad things are. They are being played by people with financial, and political interest in them being poor and unhappy.

What to do

Don’t play ball.

Turn off the “news”, and other program that yaks about this blarney, so that ratings drop and they need to move on.

Also, only buy things that you think are worth the price (you should always be doing this, it’s how the market is supposed to work). Yes, if wages go up significantly, there will be some inflation, but, in the short term, it will soon be offset as the oil and gas industry gets back up to more normal production levels. In the longer term, moving to electrical vehicles will reduce demand and bring down prices.

Getting tired of “it”

I read the paper, old school I know. But Seattle is one of the few places that has an old-school, independent, local newspaper, which makes it worthwhile on several levels, and I like to do the crosswords on paper.

A local columnist named Danny Westneat wrote early this week about how we might be done with covid, but it isn’t done with us. He said we blew it by not getting enough people vaccinated quickly enough. I had a strong reaction to that:

WE didn’t blow it. A bunch of jerks did.

Continue reading Getting tired of “it”

Swiss Army knife?

I carry a Swiss Army Knife. I always check a bag so I can have it with me when I am traveling. The one above is kind of grotty from living at the bottom of my bag.

I use the knife blades to slice open that ridiculously tough plastic packaging that almost every thing comes in, or as a letter opener, or (after washing) to cut cheese, fruit and other snacks. My second most common use is as a can or bottle opener. Followed by the screw driver…then the corkscrew. Sometimes the tweezers come in handy.

One does not use a semi-automatic machine gun to open a letter, slice an apple, open a can, tighten a screw , uncork a wine bottle, or take out a splinter. Most importantly: No one has ever shot up an elementary school with a Swiss army knife. To compare an AR-15 to a Swiss army knife is a false equivalence.

The federal judge who made that statement is both irresponsible and dangerously wrong.

This is the second time this week that a ridiculous false equivalence about guns has crossed my path. The first was in the comments of a thoughtful post by Fandango: Second Amendment Thoughts.

That one bothered me even more: the person compared owning a gun, favoring the AR-15, to having a smoke detector. Excuse me?

The same person said that more people are killed with knives than rifles. I looked it up. If you are talking about gun homicides, the number was 10, 372 of 15,318 homicides total in 2016, the year that Breitbart’s bad faith narrative is based on. A far cry from the 374 deaths stated to be from rifles that year. It needs to be noted that, in many cases, the type of gun is not specified in police reports so the 374 number is not accurate. That year the number of deaths from knives was 1500 or so (10% of the firearm homicides). Fact check by Snopes. The beloved AR-15 is sometimes counted as a rifle, but not always, it is often classed as a pistol. The harping on this incomplete data is a bad faith, diversionary tactic.

The ridiculous analogies and harping on a single incomplete data point are a deliberate deflection from the serious discussion that needs to occur about firearms. People who do this are manipulative, evil and immoral. You cannot trust what they say.

The culture of video games and TV programs is a player in this mythology as well. Guns are often portrayed as sexy and cool. They are not.

Don’t get me wrong: I don’t have a problem with people who own a gun, learn how to use it, store it safely, teach their kids that it is very dangerous and not a toy, then hunt deer, or ducks, or something-so long as they eat what they kill. I grew up in a rural area and learned to use a firearm, but that was long ago. These days, if I were to shoot at a squirrel, crow or rabbit I might hit a neighbor. A risk I am not willing to take. We chose to not have firearms in the house when blessed with a mechanically adept child.

These false equivalences, comparing guns to useful things and safety measures, are extremely dangerous. They encourage people who aren’t going to bother to learn how to use the guns safely, or store them safely, to buy one without taking adequate safety measures. A gun is as far from a safety device as you can get.

A gun is dangerous and children are often victims: Thousands of children, teens killed by guns annually in the US.

Owning a gun is a responsibility.

Anyone who can seriously compare owning a gun to having a smoke detector, a dog, or a Swiss army knife clearly does not get it…or worse, gets it and doesn’t care how many people die (the definition of a sociopath).

I feel the need to share this

The language is a little salty(?) but I think he makes several really good points.

It’s not that I’m old fashioned…I am but that’s not the point. I can usually understand new things even if I don’t necessarily agree with them. Crypto coin with its underlying block chain logic has bothered me. It seems to serve no real purpose and, as Mr. Maher points out, the amount of resources put to this use are terrifying. Imagine redeploying them to try and solve a problem like plastic in the environment.

Hanging out to air

For Monday Washing Lines by Have bag, will travel.

In the corner of a small apartment complex in Weifang, Shandong Province, China.

This make-shift washing “line” is a pole laid across the corner of construction fencing. Often times migrant workers camp at or near the site where they work. Winnie-ther-Pooh and Piglet always make me smile…how about you?

A reflection on being human

A laundry line is something you see almost every where you go. In some ways it could be a symbol or metaphor for being human. We all need the shelter of clothing and sanitation.

I took this photo on my first trip to China, in the spring of 2014. Since then I have been to China about 10 times, to visit my son who lives there and works teaching English. I have always found the Chinese people to be friendly, welcoming and caring.

Continue reading Hanging out to air

I was deeply touched…

By the simple ceremony this evening honoring those who died of COVID-19. The simplicity of the prayers offered struck me more deeply than a long sermon would have done. I cried when the nurse sang Amazing Grace. I imagined how her patients would be comforted by her singing, which was beautiful.

I particularly was struck by how they kept political point scoring out of everything that was said. It really was about honoring those effected, not putting people down. This was real leadership.

Let the healing begin.

What comes after antipathy?

Don’t worry, lots of people live in fascist, authoritarian regimes. Quality of life for regular people inevitably drops, but that takes time. (Time that lets the authoritarians cement their power as they take from poor and middle class and give it to those who will help them stay in power. No one really cares about those losers anyway.)

I am tired. My heart is sad and my nerves are frayed. It’s been a crazy couple of weeks, even more than usual.

I find myself just over it, in terms of antipathy. I’m ready for a sane president who respects the constitution and the citizens of the USA, and that is sounding like that might not happen, through cheating and collusion. I’m not angry about it. I’m depressed.

Ballots

It’s those pesky ballots, you see…the ones people use to vote. “If you get rid of the ballots…” Donald Trump said at one of his rallies last week. Let’s be clear: If you do that you get an autocracy, in this case a fascist autocracy.

Continue reading What comes after antipathy?

In the name of all that is decent

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

Philippians 4:8, King James Version of the Bible

I know I should have sought a Jewish passage for Justice Bader-Ginsberg, but that one jumped to mind.

Consider taking a small action

Don’t let this great woman become just another campaign rally event for someone who has no respect what-so-ever for the constitution and laws of our land.

In addition to voting in the election there are other ways to make your opinion known.

The current incumbent of the White House is again pushing against all that is even marginally decent. By announcing his proposed replacement for Justice Ginsberg before the dirt has had time to settle on her grave.

Please do not watch his obscene news conference. Instead spend the time honoring the truly great person Justice Ginsberg was. There are numerous movies and programs available to stream during that time. Please, don’t let her passing become just another campaign event for a petty dictator. Let the ratings reflect your priorities: honor and decency over a three-ring-circus.