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December 26, 2016

Arouse us noble
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 02:46 PM * 54 comments

Out of this darkness, let the unmeasured sword
Rising from sleep to execute or crown
Rest on our shoulders, as we then can rest
On the outdistancing, all-capable flood
Whose brim touches the morning. Down
The long shadows where undriven the dawn
Hunts light into nobility, arouse us noble.

—Philip Larkin, “Come Then to Prayers

When we look back on the late twenty-teens, I suspect we’re going to think we were out of our collective minds in the months between Trump’s election and his inaguration. And I say this as someone who is herself affected.

Twitter, in particular, has been hard to cope with for those of us with personalities that do not thrive on exhaustive examinations of all of the terrible possiblilities of 2017 and beyond. (I assume there are people for whom such examinations are meat and drink, in which case, go you. But maybe consider your impact on others?)

I’ve talked about this a little on Twitter. Yes, I am aware of the irony. But that’s where the people being pummelled and terrified by the discourse—the people who might benefit from what I’m trying to say—are. Also, I didn’t feel ready to blog more on it. It felt too big. It still feels too big, but maybe it’s time to write this next piece out anyway.

So: my read is that many of us are trapped between vague hope and terribly detailed despair, and the contrast is eating us up. Not the contrast between the light and the dark, but between the clear and the vague.

Because the despair is so clearly articulated, so widespread, so pervasive (and thus persuasive). The numerous hot takes that add up to guys, I can explain how we’re screwed, but I can’t see how we’re going to get out of it; the trending tweets with handy tools to predict nuclear blast radii; the promises and threats of someone who is still a private citizen, albeit a powerful one—all give us a laundry list of bleak and horrible outcomes. A person can read them until she can’t even blink any more, until her heart breaks, and not get through it all. And it’s not going to stop; too much of it is making someone money, feeding an emotional hunger in its readers, or serving a political purpose.

I can’t argue against it, not directly. Much of it is reasoned, well-sourced, gravely sensible.

But it’s incomplete, like bread without yeast, flesh without life. It’s missing a thing that I know exists but cannot explain in detail, cannot predict the place or extent of, cannot forecast the effect of.

The thing that’s missing has given us prominent figures like Rosa Parks and Edith Stein, but also less well-known ones such as Viola Liuzzo, Marion Pritchard, Ruth Coker Burks, Ingrid Loyau-Kennett. (I picked these people almost at random. I could go on for paragraphs.) More recently, it gave us Bree Newsome up the flagpole and Ieshia Evans in the street, the Water Protectors of Standing Rock and the veterans who came to join them. It gave us Łukasz Urban in Berlin last Monday. Maybe next time it will give us me, or you, or someone in our community, among the hundreds or thousands that I know will appear at the right place and time, even though I cannot explain beforehand how, when, or where that will be.

Fred Rogers, the uncanonized saint of American television, said it best: When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’

It is impossible to tell you who these helpers will be, or where they will arise, because they will be ordinary people, which is to say, weird and unpredictable, indvidual and quirky. Their activism and heroism will be like that too, becomes it stems from their humanity. That’s their, or rather our, strength. (Also—hard words here—not everyone who stands up will be OK afterwards. Some of the people I listed died. Some lost everything. And there were many alongside them who were too afraid to step forward. This too is human.)

I’d just like to ask you, next time you read some article or tweetstorm that sets out, piece by deliberate piece, how any particular future is inevitable, to remember: the more the writer limits their analysis to what is already known, and the more certain they sound, the less of a clue they really have. Because they’re missing a real thing they can’t name, can’t describe, and won’t see coming until it’s already in motion. If then.

(This is, by the way, a seasonally appropriate message in my tradition. If you’d asked Herod the Great of Judea what event would make his reign remembered all over the world for thousands of years; if you’d asked Augustus Caesar why his name would be on children’s lips every year long after Latin itself was dead, they’d give you answers that were detailed and sensible, but also completely wrong. Because off in a backwater barn, out of sight, a baby was born. And even if you don’t believe a word people say about the man he grew up to be, he and the people who came after him diverted the plans of kings and emperors.)

Comments on Arouse us noble:
#1 ::: Jayme Paluskievicz ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2016, 03:59 PM:

Thank you. Your words, as always, are insightful. You help me to find peace; help me to believe. You are a shining light!

#2 ::: Evan ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2016, 04:22 PM:

Thank you for putting something to words that I didn't have words for. "Anxiety porn."

Except that porn is nice, and this thing I can't seem to stop doing is slowly killing me. Perhaps "anxiety meth"?

#3 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2016, 04:29 PM:

I mostly call it porn because the experience of it is isolated and observational, not mutual and participatory. You have the emotional experience, but the producer is not transformed, satisfied, or even aware that you were in the transaction.

Use whatever analogy works for you, of course. As if you need my permission.

#4 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2016, 04:33 PM:

I personally hope that the incoming president and his selected cronies find things are a lot more difficult than they expect. If they push hard enough they'll create a crowdsourced Bureau of Sabotage that may well cause them to realise they've entered an arse-kicking contest with a porcupine.

#5 ::: David Bowman ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2016, 05:29 PM:

(Still waiting for good king Wenceslas to come on down...)

I hear this acutely, and feel that the Anxiety Pornmongers have a simply stated credo:

"I'm not a pessimist, I'm a REALIST."

There is a a profound arrogance about these secular prophets, swaddled in their sureness. Now, to be fair, 2016 has been more than a bit crap. But there is, there always was, there always will and must be hope. Now here's the catch: hope is bloody hard work. Particularly when you're surrounded by 'realists' who relentlessly chide and mock any glimmer of optimism. It is a lot easier to sneer, pontificate, and stand off to the side than it is to actually do the right thing simply because it is worth doing.

Terrible things can happen. Terrible things WILL happen. It is how we respond that defines us.


#6 ::: Emily H. ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2016, 05:38 PM:

A blog I read introduced the term "neg-stimming" for perseverating on things that make you feel bad just because they make you feel bad - and Twitter, now and then, turns into an echo chamber of neg-stimming, where the sensation that one has the duty to keep up with bad news turns compulsive.

It happened to me with Fukushima, because I spoke Japanese, because the English reporting was frequently awful and always at least 12 hours behind the Japanese reporting. I knew I wasn't making anything better by staying up late and waking up early to read the latest radiation readouts. It happened to me after the election because the news was inescapable.

Your brain says, It's a crisis! Gather data! But there's no data to gather, because the thousand hot takes on what Hillary should have done or what's wrong with SJWs aren't useful information.

I suspect the best thing is to find something useful and concrete to do that doesn't rely on reading the thousand hot takes. And to realize when I'm neg-stimming and stop doing the thing, whether it's hate-reading rightist blogs or compulsively reading panicky leftist Twitter. Read slower and deeper news instead of quick and shallow news. And read history, because history is full of improbable resistance.

#7 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2016, 05:53 PM:

Thank you for this, Abi. I largely checked out of Twitter because of the anxiety porn.

While I've taken the week of from it, I'm . . . (no, I will not write coping. Because that sounds like a rear-guard hanging-on thing) . . . trying to be one of those helpers by urging people to raise tactically directed holy hell, because fucksticks the people who despise the Harangue-Outan are a solid and growing majority. Letters to the editor, letters to your representative, letters to your senators. And as I learn more, letters to state legislatures. (Indivisible) All stuff that will be harder, but much more necessary, in Red States. And in those places we both need and are likely to see Heroes and Helpers.

I got the damndest thrill over being retweeted by Daniel Pinkwater last week:

Don't just #Resist. #Win

#8 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2016, 05:59 PM:

The realist position is to have hope. Hope is what you can have when you can't have expectations. Hope is what keeps you going and doing the right thing even when things seem hopeless.

#9 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2016, 06:02 PM:

David Bowman @ #5

On this topic (and due to one of my Christmas presents from my young lady): Tomorrowland. It is a rather fine film for these gloomy times. (Yes, it's fantasy: bite me (I did not bite your sister BTW.)

#10 ::: Ericka Barber ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2016, 06:27 PM:

Thank you so much Abi! You are a skilled spreader of peace.

I've felt for awhile that retweeting the latest calamity might be overkill, but I wanted to make sure the really good, useful articles got out to "the world." Upon recent examination, I've decided my Twitter following does not fit this description and I've had a growing feeling that my valiant efforts might be ever so slightly overly dramatic. Heh.

"But, still! Important!"

And now I find that Emily H.'s (#6) use of "neg-stimmimg" has finally turned on the light in my head and let me let it go.

So! I believe I'll make it through 2016 and this holiday season too. Yay me.

Thank you, one and all!

#11 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker To Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2016, 07:25 PM:

Lately when I get really down because we seem about to re-enter the half of my lifetime when nuclear annihilation seemed possible, I stop and think about the fact that one of the greatest heroes of the 20th century was Stanislav Yevgrafovich Petrov. He quite literally saved the lives of at least a hundred million people.

#12 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2016, 07:25 PM:

Thank you, Abi. This helps.

#13 ::: Angiportus Librarysaver ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2016, 07:34 PM:

Surviving parent is big on glooming and dooming even while otherwise well adjusted and seeming to carry on with life. I can't count the times I've broken in with, "If I believed that I'd go shoot myself." "I've never heard of a winter without a spring." "However small our chances are of turning things around for the better may be, they are still bigger than if we just give up," And so on. It creeps me out when I turn to someone for comfort [let's face it, a person is never too old for that] and they just make me feel scared-er. I have contacted my congresscritters and will do more, not yet sure what and when.
But you folks are a huge help.

#14 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2016, 08:37 PM:


When Obama won the White House, and Democrats swept up the House and Senate, I imagine a lot of conservatives went into full panic mode. I recall "OBAMA RECRUITING PRIVATE ARMY!" stories when the POTUS proposed a program to give college students college funding in exchange for teaching in underserved areas. I don't have to mention the "OMG SHARIA LAW!" garbage.

But the Republican establishment . . . they rolled up their sleeves and got to work.

If it's your thing . . . roll up your sleeves, get to work.

I went to a Letters to the Editor writing workshop at the local Democratic headquarters.

#15 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2016, 12:24 AM:

I am treating this in much the same way that I treated 9/11. It's there, I don't try to ignore it, but I don't wallow in it. I saw several friends effectively drive themselves into PTSD by obsessively watching 9/11 news for weeks on end, and I took a lesson from that: there's a difference between keeping yourself informed and throwing yourself into the pit of quicksand. If I let my energy be drained by the never-ending what-ifs, I won't have any left to deal with what IS.

Remember, also, that this state of existential despair, the feeling that everything has gone to shit and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it... that's what they WANT you to feel. People who are desperately trying to keep their heads above water can't spare any energy to drain the swamp.

Yes, there are a lot of people who are going to have to be putting all their time and energy into mere survival. Most of us here are at least slightly better off than that. We have to fight, not just for ourselves, but for those who can't.

#16 ::: Elizabeth Janes... ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2016, 02:32 AM:

Stefan Jones @ #7

Thanks so much for the link to the TRUMP Act petition, which I've signed and tweeted about. I'll e-mail friends, write to my reps, and work on letters to a few editors.

After a despondent phone conversation with a friend earlier tonight, taking even this micro-action eased my spirits a bit.

#17 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2016, 04:39 AM:

abi @0: many of us are trapped between vague hope and terribly detailed despair

What I keep coming back around to: hope is not the thing to aim for; for me, it's vision.

And to invigorate my vision: what do I want my world to look like? What are the directions we've been heading that give me joy? Equality, sustainability, diversity, inclusion. Work for things that support that. Work against things that conflict. This simplifies my decision space considerably.

What are the things that remind me of that? What are the things that make me say, "Yes! I want more of that!" (Playing for Change being only one example.)

I keep being reminded that this ain't our first rodeo. History is definitely a Brownian Walk, but our trend has been generally in the right direction. (Janine Benyus contends that, overall, evolution favors cooperation.) Which is I think a big piece of what has the forces of oppression so upset right now.

And, yeah, it's huge that we have no idea what's going to happen next. But that means there's potential for unexpected good stuff to happen, too.

#18 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2016, 09:01 AM:

#17: Put another way: It is our turn to apply pressure to keep the arc of history tending toward justice.

* * *
If you want to see bracing examples of Not Taking This Shit on Twitter, look up Elizabeth Warren, Ron Wyden, and Jeff Merkley. I am certain there are plenty more.

#19 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2016, 09:47 AM:

Predicting disaster is easy. Estimating the resilience in the system is hard.

Philip Tetlock did an experiment of asking pundits to make predictions in private and put percentages of how certain they were on the predictions.

They were very bad at predicting, presumably because pundits are in the entertainment business and there was no public effort to see whether pundits get things right.

To Tetlock's surprise, the pundits who held their ideologies lightly were a little better at predicting.He was expecting that some ideologies would be better than other ideologies.

I would have stopped there and sneered at people, but Tetlock is a better person than I am, and he kept thinking and experimenting.

He found out that it's possible to get much better at predicting. It's amazing-- it's like that optimistic science fiction from the fifties(?) about people becoming more capable.

As I recall, it takes reasonably smart people doing meticulous research and quantitatively updating their predictions as they learn more. It also helps to work in teams.


I'm not recommending that people here work on becoming superforecasters, though I applaud anyone who tries. I am saying that world war three hasn't happened and the population bomb hasn't gone off.

One of the reasons we haven't had all the vivid disasters is the people who worked on making them not happen. Another is that some disasters lead to good fiction but weren't all that likely.

I believe that keeping the pressure on to prevent Trump's bad ideas from taking hold is of great importance, and it may also be worth making the presidency as little fun as possible for him to discourage him from running for a second term.

I agree with the self-care advice, but I'm hoping Tetlock will add some usefulfulness on the cognitive side.

#20 ::: solecism ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2016, 04:32 PM:

Been lurking for awhile. This post reminded me of the "Banality of Heroism" article by the researchers who conducted the Stanford Prison Experiment (Zeno Franco and Philip Zimbardo). They talk about how everyday people can intervene in bad situations, but it requires developing one's heroic imagination.

It sounds like a more rewarding way to think about the vague possibilities of the future and hope than continued immersion in anxiety porn.

#21 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2016, 05:45 PM:

My partner Karen did a blog post in relation to Pantsuit Nation and the way people have been reacting to it on the coasts which I think fits well in the discussion here. It's about Pantsuits and Privilege. Support people where we can, and don't disparage what looks small from our privileged perspectives.

#22 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2016, 07:16 PM:

Tom: That's very good. "Ya gotta start from where you are." Giving people grief for not being where you think they ought to be is rarely helpful.

#23 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2016, 01:59 AM:

Thank you, Abi.

#24 ::: Megpie71 ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2016, 03:15 AM:

I'm doing my little bit for "looking for the helpers" - I've started up a daily blog post of three things which "went right" (as opposed to "going wrong") as reported in the mainstream media I read regularly. Some days it's easy to find things. Some days it's bloody hard. But it's the little candle I can light against the darkness every day.

It's there on - if you want to read or follow, or link others to it, feel free.

It's born out of a practice I came up with in regard to my depression years ago. I realised during the long slow climb out of a depressive downturn one thing I was very good at when I was in the down times was seeing what had gone wrong. What I wasn't so good at was seeing what had gone right. So I set out to train myself in doing this, by writing down three things every day which had 'gone right' (in the sense of "not going wrong"), no matter how small or insignificant. Some days it wasn't easy - the notebook I used has a lot of days where one of the "what went right" things is "it's horrible weather outside, but I don't have to be out in it" - but I kept at it, and built the habit, and these days it helps me to move on from the miseries.

What went right doesn't have to be positive. It doesn't have to be morally good. It doesn't have to be particularly impressive or wonderful. It just has to have gone right, when everything else seems to be going wrong.

I'd really appreciate it if other people wanted to share their stories of "what went right" that they find in the mainstream media. Things like stories about small businesses becoming successful, about lost people being found, about people helping people, about people learning something important from challenging situations, about people getting together to improve things for everyone, and so on. My one candle doesn't provide much light or warmth on its own... but many candles together can illuminate and warm the whole world.

#26 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2016, 08:16 AM:

Megpie71: I've been unable to find it again, but I recently read a post from someone who, instead of saying "story of my life" when some minor disaster happened (slipping on ice, late for a meeting) started saying it when things went unexpectedly right (all the traffic lights were green, ran into an old friend).

I thought it was a good point: a story is a selection of events from among millions in a lifetime; it's up to you which events to consider as part of the story.

#27 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2016, 09:21 AM:

Long ago, I installed what I called a cheerleader function-- anything that was worth complaining about when it went badly was worth praising when it went well.

I can't say it helped tremendously well with depression, but I think it took some of the edge off.

#28 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2016, 10:00 AM:

Emily H @6:

Neg-stimming is a good term, though I would hate to have to explain it to someone who didn't already understand stimming. But it's also useful to see an earlier example of it (Fukushima) and how you dealt with it.

#29 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2016, 10:04 AM:

Megpie71 @24, Lila @26, Nancy @27:

One of my self-diagnostic tests for my depression creeping up on me is negative pattern-matching. I use solitaire on my iPad for it. The question is not whether I win or lose but, when I lose, how do I feel about it? Am I tempted to broaden the loss from one game where even the cards aren't real to the rest of my life? Or do I go, "bad outcome from the random number generator, meh"?

Kickstarting the positive pattern-matching sounds like a good idea, and your blog, Megpie, is a good venue for it. Thank you.

#30 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2016, 10:45 AM:

I think there are social movements and phenomena (twitter mobs, 4ch*n) that are made possible by current social media tools, that were impossible or st least much harder to get without them. And we are all still trying to figure out how to live with those new phenomena, and some of our societal crazy reflects the fact that we don't know how, yet.

#31 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2016, 11:00 AM:

albatross: I've been pondering for a while now that social media is the beginnings of a global nervous system. What we're seeing right now is the "pins and needles" phase.

#32 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2016, 02:34 PM:

Emily H. @6

Thank you. "Neg-stimming" is a really great label for what I do when I give in to what might have been transient depression and decide to wallow[1] in "nothing good ever happens to me, nobody *really* likes me they're just being polite, nobody will ever read my books, why am I even bothering to write or research or do anything." [Oh dear, just writing or re-reading that makes me clench up.]

"Neg-stimming" because the "payoff" for me is a really intense physiological experience that very few other behaviors can be counted on to deliver. It has certain parallels to deliberately getting very very drunk (including the physical hangover effects).

[1] When I use the phrase "decide to wallow" this is intended to describe only my own subjective experience and is not meant to imply anything about the experience of depression in general or by other people. The "decide" part is because I am capable of distracting myself until the impulse passes. It just takes more work and has no positive payoff.

#33 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2016, 10:11 PM:

Don't have much of a vision; not a practical vision that comes with immediate steps. And anything vaguely in that category (that I have thought of, I mean) is too far out to be any sort of immediate target anyway; not something reachable in reasonable steps from where we are.

#34 ::: cajunfj40 ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2016, 11:02 AM:

abi @0: Thank you. Yours is a welcome light in these times - and other times, too, to be sure.

Cadbury Moose @#9:

"(I did not bite your sister BTW.)"

*snerk* I see what you did there.

My kids have not yet seen that movie, but I've got them doing the "1, 2, 5!" "3, sir." "3!" joke already.

Megpie71@#24: Sounds like a good idea. I used to see regular postings of "Good News" from someone I follow on Twitter, but she's gone dark (presumably for self-care reasons - she'd hinted at that being a possibility, given the negativity running rampant leading up to the election) for a while and appears to have someone running her feed for her Patreon and nothing else. I should check her blog and see what's up where she has more control over what shows up.

More generally:

We're still in something akin to a state of shock at our house, or the first stage or two past that. Uneasily going about the usual life things, more on edge than usual, sleeping worse than usual, that sort of thing. Stress levels, never all that low, are higher than usual with little sign of abating any time soon. Knowing how high we are up the privilege ladder, ye gods, what others lacking such advantages must be going through... Not that feeling guilty about that helps, mind you. (Is this a form of "survivor's guilt", perhaps?)

Not sure when I'll be up to any sort of action. I can RT various #resistance posts, but not much else right now. My Fed Congress-critter is a Republican, and both my Fed Senators are Democrats - but both my MN reps (House and Senate) are Republicans. I'm in a "Lower Taxes, Keep Your Hands Off!" Republican district - rather obvious from the political signs that do show up. Maybe I can work up the nerve to call at some point, talk about how I like good roads, good schools, clean air and water, and taxes pay for that sort of thing rather well...

Where I work is rather diverse, and so far I have neither seen nor heard anything untoward, but I would expect our leadership team to take a very dim view towards harassment of any kind. We have a rather strong policy against it, and we get trained on it as well. I think co-workers would stand up to defend anyone who seems to be in trouble, too. I hope I'll be able to - but I hope more that the activity that would require me to do so won't happen in the first place. I already do try to speak up when a joke is sexist/racist/homophobic/etc, but those are rather uncommon already. People seem to have gotten the memo that they're (at least) in "poor taste".

On more positive notes:

We did get a long-running house project kicked back into at least low gear yesterday - finally got a carpet guy to answer in the affirmative re: patching, and even had a guy available to look at the damaged spot and available donor closet's patch that day between jobs. Coming in this afternoon to do the job - cut out closet, seam into the damaged area, re-attach, cut out patch from different-color leftovers in laundry room, seam into closet where patch was cut out, re-attach. There's one last go-round of paint touch-up left, then renting a carpet steamer and clean up and re-assemble switchcovers, window coverings, etc. Then we can start buying bookcases and setting the basement family room up for use. That leads to emptying the storage unit and getting the piano out of storage and removing those two monthly drains. I can see the light! (well, it is still cloudy...)

I finally got myself a truck after too many years denying myself one for reasons of not wanting to burden the family financials. Shiny green 2000 Ford Explorer XLS 4-door 4x4 with a manual and the 4.0 OHV V6. Gets ~19.7mpg to my current car's 30+, but I have a short mostly highway commute and plans to modify/gamify my driving habits to see how high I can push that. Amazing what a difference a "new to me" vehicle has made so far - I finally have a realistic and existing target for modification ideas. With the repairs I needed to do, and the tires I needed to buy, I still basically met my cash budget for purchase - and I'll have a bit more left over after I get around to selling my car - so the "not burden the financials" bit is satisifed. No payments! I "settled for" this truck, rather than finding what I "really" wanted, but it was always going to be an approximation - and this is a good solid realistic starting point. My wife promptly bought me a little shiny green stuffed dragon plushie to put in it (he's hanging out behind the rearview mirror currently), and is searching for a DevilDuck to pop onto the antenna like the rest of our fleet. I finally have a specific vehicle to natter on about modifications to, rather than endless hypotheticals. I wanted an EV, but that would have required an exorbitant loan to get a capable 4x4, and a "new small gas car" sized loan to get even a decent used one that meets my range needs. While this truck isn't set up for E85, it wouldn't take much to do so... Truck Enthusiast Has Truck To Enthuse About - Film At Eleven.

#35 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2016, 03:39 PM:

David Dyer-Bennet @ 33: I think you've got a very wise point of view. The things we can do now are to fortify ourselves and those around us. We don't know what we're going to get of a wide range of possibilities. We can make ourselves better able to meet them.

#37 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2017, 09:35 AM:

So in December I got the itch to write what I could to be helpful from my own experience and reading. I experienced something I haven't felt much for a long time: Weight on my shoulders. This is the first. It's been written for two weeks. It took me till now to post.

How To Be Good: Forgiving and Unforgiving

My own family situation is pretty good, but I've read the struggles of those people here with toxic and abusive birth families. I haven't said anything really about it because they aren't my struggles, but I've heard you, and you informed how I thought about this.

Which I appreciate, a lot, and which I hope I've made right use of.

#38 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2017, 12:10 AM:

cajunfj40 @34: I would expect our leadership team to take a very dim view towards harassment of any kind. We have a rather strong policy against it

I live in a liberal/privileged bastion, but I was nevertheless mightily heartened when my employer declared all of our buildings “Safe Zones.” English and Spanish posters have been put up:

“This space respects all aspects of people including race, ethnicity, gender expression, sexual orientation, socio-economic background, political affiliation, age, religion, body shape, size and ability.”

There have been a couple of times when I overheard questionable comments in the office. When I challenged the commenters, they were at great pains to point out that they were quoting the comments in order to mock the associated attitudes, and thanked me very much for speaking up.

#39 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2017, 02:11 AM:

The below popped into my head listening to Obama's call to get involved:

Trump is going to be a nightmare.

But here's the thing about nightmares.

They go away . . .

. . . when we wake up.

#40 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2017, 05:56 PM:

The Oregonian is publishing another Letter to the Editor of mine tomorrow. The second since the election.

If this is your thing, go for it.

#41 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2017, 01:36 PM:

That's really cool, Stefan!

#42 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2017, 02:57 PM:

Well, I'm a little bummed. This morning's letter column was dominated by reaction to the surprise snow storm. My entry wasn't published.

My letter was about Trump's refusal to release his tax returns. Maybe they'll use it on another day; it isn't like he'll actually come around any time soon.

#43 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2017, 06:51 PM:

My Letter to the Editor was finally published in The Oregonian. Unfortunately, not in the non-subscriber online version.

For those looking for something participate in:

I went to a "activist how to" meeting run by MoveOn on Sunday. Well attended, and really nicely run, with the participants breaking up into table-sized groups to come up with issues of concern and a list of solutions (letters, badgering congressfolk). Judging from that meeting, there's a lot of pent up demand for wanting to dig in. now has a look-up page for grass roots activist groups.

#44 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2017, 07:23 PM:

Tomorrow, April 15th, is traditionally the day tax returns are due at the Internal Revenue Service.

The deadline is April 18th this year, which leaves tomorrow open for venting spleen and demanding that President Trump release his tax returns.*

There are marches all over. Seven in Oregon cities, twelve in New York State, twenty five in California.

I'll be in the Portland, OR march with some co-workers.

*Which I doubt will ever happen. But someone might leak them, or get them through legal means.

#45 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2017, 07:33 PM:

Stefan Jones (44): April 15th, is traditionally the day tax returns are due at the Internal Revenue Service.

Nitpick: It's the day that tax returns must be postmarked, not received by the IRS. And, as you say, this year the deadline for that is April 18 instead.

#46 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2017, 08:47 PM:

I went to yesterday's Tax March in downtown Portland and NO ONE PAID ME!?!?!

Trump Calls for Investigation Into Tax Day Protesters

Is there an address I can write to for my $1,500? Is there a downloadable form where I list the chants I made for extra $$$$ from Soros?


#47 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2017, 09:58 AM:

March for Science, Portland:

Good crowd, but not as insanely packed as the Womens March.

#48 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2017, 08:37 PM:

I managed, unintentionally, to invade a TV news story about Chicago's March for Science.

In the first video clip on this page, slide to 1 minute 8 seconds and play. The guy who's just putting on his baseball cap as he walks past the correspondent? That's me.

#49 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2017, 10:33 PM:

Yes! That is you. I definitely recognize you.

While I've got you here, let me link to this map on the American Meteor Society website. It shows the calculated trajectory, and the location of the observers, for a fireball over Texas on Sunday night.

How do I know about it? I'm one of them. Sunday evening just before 9 (8:52 PM, to be exact) I was out walking north, and I noticed in the sky a very bright meteor with a light green tinge, that left a glowing trail behind. Something I'd never seen before! I went googling to see if there were any news reports, and it turned up the AMS website.

16 other people reported seeing it, as far north as Dallas, as far east as western Louisiana.

#50 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2017, 01:03 AM:

I've been volunteering for the local March for Truth.

I am . . . humorously exasperated that I've had to update the flyer I drafted twice this week.

Not because of a change in date or location, but because "WE NEED TO KNOW WHAT IS UP WITH TRUMP AND RUSSIA" went from borderline crankiness to a matter of how quickly the wheels of justice will grind up those bastards.

Dan Rather, the other day, said something that would have seem insane a month ago:

Trump has gone from the hunter to the hunted.

Our flyer is now calling for an independent commission to make sure election meddling doesn't happen again.

It is not beyond hope to imagine the March for Truth will be celebrating a resignation.

#51 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2017, 08:06 AM:

Not to disagree, but I think you overestimate T's humility. My read is we'll have to pry the presidency from his tiny tiny hands.

#52 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2017, 10:47 AM:

Unless he can be convinced it's for the state of his health, he'd consider resignation to be the act of a loser. And he hates losing.

#53 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2017, 02:26 PM:


#54 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2017, 02:29 PM:

Maybe so, maybe no -- Trump has been heard to say, "this job is not as easy as I thought it would be." And the Russia investigation is REALLY rattling his cage.

This man is lazy and has never had to work, much less learn anything. I think if he gets much more unhappy and more frustrated, he might resign.

He's got the mental ability of a stupid toddler, and he could decide to take his toys and go home.

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