Social Media Relapse

In the aftermath of the inauguration, I’ve found myself checking Facebook more often than just to respond to notifications, and I’ve found myself actually checking Twitter when I’d been away from it for months. I’ve been seeking out information about what crazy shit the president is signing into effect (immigration reform, portions of ACA repeal), which departments have been forbidden to broadcast information on social media (the EPA and the National Parks Service), and what the president is getting his panties in a bunch over today.

It’s like a train wreck; I can’t look away.

Honestly, though, it’s not doing me any good. If I want to make a difference, I know how to do it: research what’s up for a vote in Congress, then contact my elected officials in the House and the Senate and tell their staff how I want them to vote if they truly represent their constituents. Reading social media and getting either more fired up or more depressed doesn’t do shit if it doesn’t propel me to action.

My politically active friends won’t want to hear this, but I’m probably not going to be calling my representatives. I’m probably not going to attend any protests. Hell, I’m probably not even going to volunteer at the local soup kitchen. The most I’m inclined to do right now is find a good cause and throw money at it — and even that is unlikely, since it would behoove me to throw money at my own retirement accounts instead.

Right now, my action is to be kind and tolerant, and to teach my son the same. To interact with people — the more diverse, the better. To speak up and push back where I see hatred and intolerance. To talk to the homeless guy waiting for his ride. To buy a copy of Toledo Streets for $1.

I created a new folder on my iPhone and named it Hiatus. I moved the Facebook app and my Twitter client of choice into it (along with my favorite game, Two Dots), and I’m going to leave it alone for a while. Once I feel like I can respond to comments and notifications again without getting sucked down the rabbit hole, I’ll return and interact with my online friends. Until then, you can reach me by commenting here on the blog or sending me an email or a text.

Be the change you want to see in the world.

Farewell to Our 44th President

I’m not a particularly political person, so I didn’t expect the feeling of loss that hit me on this Inauguration Morning. Not foreboding of things to come, but of the end of the administration of the best President I can remember.

I’m 40 years old. When I was born, Ford was president, and would be for less than another year. I have zero memory of Ford’s or Carter’s administrations, and the only thing I really remember about Reagan was my family’s disgust when a presidential address would interrupt our normal television schedule. George H. W. Bush was president while I was in junior high and early high school. I remember being worried about the Gulf War, but otherwise still pretty unengaged politically.

The Clinton Administration was high school and early college for me. I thought he was cool — hey, he plays the saxophone! — but he also had sex scandals, impeachment proceedings, didn’t inhale… I didn’t think he was The Best President Ever, but he wasn’t bad, either.

George W. Bush was president while I was finishing up my undergrad and moving onward into the working world. I had started to become more aware of and involved in social and political activism, and the aftermath of 9/11 (during my final semester) served to strengthen that. I’ll just say that, like many others who shared my social opinions, I had a poor opinion of President Bush.

My college friend Eric tipped me off to this Obama guy, a young Democratic senator from Chicago. You should keep your eye on him, Eric told me. I didn’t really look into it at the time… but when the nominations came in, I recognized the candidate.

This was a guy I wished I could meet, talk to, hang out with. I resonated with him as I’d never resonated with another politician. I could give the laundry list of reasons why, but I’ve already gone on long enough with this political retrospective.

The point is, I’m going to miss having a president I feel a connection with. It’s back to politics as usual — or not, since the incoming Trump Administration is, true to its word, shaking things up in Washington. As I write this, the Cabinet is still being finalized, but mostly consists of CEOs and businesspeople and very few people who seem to know how the United States Government functions.

President Obama is leaving office with a very high approval rating, and Trump is taking office with one of the lowest approval ratings of an incoming President (or so I’ve read).

It feels like mourning. Maybe later it’ll feel different — defeat, depression, anxiety, foreboding — but, right now, in this moment, I’m mourning the end of an era.

Neo-McCarthyism and my Subconscious

I’ve been having an increasing number of dreams involving my family’s safety.

In one dream, my son and I were being hunted and herded to small boats on a river. I lost my right shoe in the confusion, and I worried that my son would try to go back for it. Instead, I convinced him to continue basically hiding in plain sight with me, often playing possum, in hopes of avoiding being sent down the river in open boats in the freezing rain.

In another dream, I decided to do a frivolous Facebook Live video from my home, and within hours someone had identified where I lived from the scenery out the window, broken and entered, and made his way up to my bedroom merely to prove he could and to engage me in conversation. My mother walked in, saw him, screamed, and sprayed him with air freshener.

Up until recently, I felt plenty comfortable blogging and posting photos and whatnot. Over time, I stopped identifying others by full name on my blog, to respect their own privacy, but I was fine with sharing my own thoughts and activities — within reason, of course. My civil liberties were intact, though, and I don’t do anything controversial enough to get me doxxed or worse. With the incoming administration, though, I smell McCarthyism — or something very much akin to it — brewing on the horizon. I’m not a Muslim, or an immigrant of any sort, but I am an atheist. Is that a red flag in Trump’s America?

I’m probably deluding myself if I think I would garner any sort of attention for just being a middle-class atheist in the Midwest… but I suppose stranger things have happened.

Either way, I’ve been active online for so long that I’m searchable for years back. Even if I archived and deleted my blog, my Instagram, my Flickr, if I closed my Twitter and LinkedIn and Facebook accounts, if I cancelled my Gmail and got rid of my Google account entirely (and in today’s ultra-connected society, I’m not even sure all those things are feasible), I’m still out there, online, archived, searchable.

As an American citizen, living in the Land of the Free, even my subconscious shouldn’t be having to worry about such things.

President-Elect Trump

I have so much emotion and information rolling around in my head, and I’m not sure where to start. I’ve been sitting with the results of the election since before it was officially called, and I haven’t been able to make myself put my thoughts into words.

First, for the sake of the historicity of my blog, I’ll offer a summary. (I know I appreciated that when I was revisiting my entry about the Bush v. Kerry race in 2004.)

The Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton, had a background in law and decades of experience in politics: First Lady of Arkansas, First Lady of the United States, U.S. Senator, and Secretary of State. The Republican candidate, Donald Trump, was best known as a real estate mogul, billionaire, owner of several beauty pageants, and host of the reality show The Apprentice.

Supporters of Trump hoped he would Make America Great Again, per his campaign slogan, and “drain the swamp” of corruption. Supporters of Clinton wanted to continue the progress of the Obama Administration and to see the first woman in the White House. Many people considered a Clinton vote to be the lesser of two evils — meet the new boss, same as the old boss — and a vote to keep Trump out of power.

Each candidate had their own scandals. Some people took issue with Clinton’s actions as Secretary of State (or even as First Lady), or the fact that she used a private email server while in office. Trump revealed himself as a racist and misogynist with a foul mouth and an equally foul temperament.

I was hoping for a Clinton victory — or, more accurately, I was hoping for a Trump defeat. I opted to fill out an absentee ballot so I could vote at my convenience by mail.

When I finally went to bed on Election Night, the poll returns weren’t looking good:

Poll Returns

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A Victory For Science

While I don’t usually talk about politics / morality / touchy subjects on my blog, I did want to make mention of this:

WASHINGTON (CNN) — President Obama signed an executive order Monday repealing a Bush-era policy that limited federal tax dollars for embryonic stem cell research.

Obama’s move overturns an order signed by President Bush in 2001 that barred the National Institutes of Health from funding research on embryonic stem cells beyond using 60 cell lines that existed at that time.

I’m not a biologist, or a geneticist, or a scientist of any type. However, I do know enough about cell biology and DNA and related sciences to be strongly supportive of stem cell research. Stem cell research may likely lead to cures for neurological diseases that have plagued my husband’s family, and who knows what other good it could lead to.

In my admittedly layman’s opinion, this is a huge step in the right direction for science.

Oddly enough, the specific quote I had been hoping to include here has been edited out of CNN’s article since I first read it, and has been replaced with Nancy Reagan’s thankful statement to President Obama in response to him lifting the ban.

The quote I had intended to include — and would have posted via Twitter earlier today, had it been under 140 characters — referred to the fact that massive numbers of embryos are destroyed in fertility clinics, and that those embryos can now be used to save the lives of others.

This has been one of my own main points in the discussion on stem cell research. Not to sound like I’m belittling human life, but the first comparison that comes to mind is dumpster diving: fetching perfectly good unwanted foodstuffs (and other items) out of someone else’s trash, then either using them yourself or donating them to charity. It was going to a landfill somewhere, anyway; isn’t it better that it be used for a good cause? It was already at the end of its original presumed usefulness, whether it was a head of cabbage or Ms. Suleman’s ninth embryo.

Like I said, I don’t usually venture out into sensitive territory, but I felt this deserved mentioning. I welcome your opinion in the comments, whether or not you agree with me on this.

ABC News predicts Ohio will go to Obama. Fucking A. *fist-pumping ensues*
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