Leave Harry and Meghan Alone!

I just saw a thread about some Australian TV commentators mocking Harry and Meghan over their TIME magazine cover. In the video, the announcers were laughing hysterically, saying Harry looked like a hairdresser. I’m sure there must be a hairdresser somewhere who is a dead ringer for him, but he doesn’t exactly define the stereotype. Hairdressers are sort of like serial killers in that respect. They just look like ordinary people. Unless, of course, by ‘hairdresser’ they meant ‘gay,’ which is sort of a ridiculous thing to say about a married man with kids who has never displayed any tendencies in that direction.
But, I guess that IS the joke. Apparently, he made some comment at some point (I’m just gleaning from the comments. Don’t follow the royals all that closely) that ‘Meghan is the boss in our relationship,’ and many people are saying he’s been emasculated, which is ridiculous. I say that my wife is the boss in our relationship, because it’s generally true. I get to have a blog, so I can be the official family spokesman on matters of foreign policy and things like that, but it’s my wife who decides what we eat, what we wear, and where and when we go on vacation. My mother was also the boss of her relationship, and yet my father was probably the most masculine man I’ve ever met in my life. The gold standard of what a man should be.
So, I dove into the comments thread, saying I thought the commenters were being ridiculous. With all of the people dying of disease, and malnutrition, and wars here and there throughout the world, with capitalists stealing almost all of the world’s wealth, and with the planet itself gradually becoming uninhabitable, it makes no sense to have a vendetta against a young, married couple who are doing no harm to anyone.
I’d say the tide was running against me, about 70/30. People are fucked up.

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False Dichotomies

I’m a bit tired of the Big Government v. Small Government debate, because obviously you can have a small government that’s horrible or a big government that is somehow benevolent, one really has nothing to do with the other. What we need, what the whole world needs, is better government. Governments which actually assess the problems and try to solve them. But, we’re a long way from that. Nobody’s even talking about that.
We love to frame things in absolute terms like that: right and wrong, good and evil, love and hate. It makes for a dumb argument because nobody thinks they are wrong, evil and hateful. Not even those people who are.
Dumb arguments aren’t going to get us anywhere. Obviously, we’re going to have arguments. Disagreements. Disagreements, when handled in a fair manner, can become debates, which can become conversations and there, at that point, they could actually open up to let some new ideas in and actually become problem solving sessions.
It doesn’t happen often. It appears that social media favors the two sided debates (red v. blue, capitalist v. socialist) when there are so many other possibilities, but that’s probably because it’s already deeply embedded in human culture. Fight or flight. There come moments when you have to make a quick choice and it has to be binary.
We are no longer ape men walking across the plain, hunting the zebras and running from the lions. We can take our time to talk things through seriously, widen the debate, and look at all sorts of possibilities.

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A Response to Umberto Eco

I just saw something that Umberto Eco, a writer I admire greatly, wrote on Twitter and, while I must admit that what he wrote was true, I still see things a bit differently.
He wrote “Social media gives legions of idiots the right to speak when they once only spoke at a bar after a glass of wine, without harming the community. They they were quickly silenced, but now they have the same right to speak as a Nobel Prize winner. It’s the invasion of the idiots.”
First, social media has not so much given people the right to speak, which, theoretically, we’ve always had, as the opportunity to speak. In that, I must say, I am among that legion of idiots. It has given me a platform, this blog, accounts on Twitter and Facebook, and the several political and poetry groups I belong to. Sorry, Mr. Eco, that I don’t have a Nobel.
Admittedly, there are many idiots who have been given an equal platform. There are many idiots in the world. There are also many introverts, who now have a platform where they can’t be talked over, homebodies who can now talk to people all over the world, and political extremists of every stripe, the odd one of whom here and there might just have a valid point.
It has led to more communication, not less. Even if a lot of the conversation is banal, and quite a bit downright offensive, isn’t that a small price to pay for having this conversation, getting all this out in the open? It almost sounds as if Eco is advocating censorship, and I’m definitely against that.


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What is Left Unsaid

I am on the last day of my commenting ban, which means I will not be able to weigh in on such important topics such as AOC’s dress (I like her politics, of course, so I’m supportive of the message. I would like to see more of her standing up to Nancy Pelosi and using some creative parliamentary tactics to actually get shit done, but I don’t object to performance art politics, per se, and sometimes it’s effective, see Donald Trump) and Norm MacDonald’s sad death of cancer at the age of 61.
He was a funny guy, made me laugh many times. Loved his spoonerisms, like “prosti….constitution hall” which is my earliest memory of him. Somebody just posted a really funny, and prophetic, joke of his: “When you die, I’m pretty sure the cancer dies along with you. That’s not a loss, it’s a draw.” That’s a great joke.
Anyway, as I often find myself doing when a famous person dies, I read through his Wikipedia page. Even with people you know a lot about, you usually find something new. That they were in way more movies than you thought, or wrote more of your favorite songs that you knew.
Reading Norm MacDonald’s Wikipedia page, I realized that his biggest career moment was being on Saturday night live, and the only movies he was in after that tanked, and he had a few guest spots on TV shows, but nothing earth-shattering. He was 2nd tier, at best. But, that’s enough to say it was a good life. Even a 2nd tier comedian, in the same generation with people like Robin Williams and Steve Martin, is pretty admirable. Norm MacDonald is one who should be remembered, but probably won’t be 50 years from now.
Anyway, while I chafe at the ban, I realize that the world will not notice I was missing from the conversation for 3 days. Even my closest friends might fail to notice. It’s human nature. We don’t notice, or respond to, what isn’t there. That is not hard wired into us by evolution, and the people who have enough vision, and imagination, to notice what doesn’t exist, are called visionary geniuses, and they are rare, very rare.

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Back in Prague

We are home again after an absolutely brilliant two day trip to Berlin. The last thing we did was take a boat tour on the river Spree (I think Spreefahrt is an absolutely hysterical word – the joys of the German language, where even perfectly normal things sound vulgar) and it was a great way to see the city and hear a bit about history.
Anyway, there’s something else I want to write about. I’m still banned from commenting, there’s another two days to go on that, but in my interim blog this morning, I said that it was my comment on religion “There is no God. Never was.” that got me banned, but I was mistaken/
The offending comment was in a discussion about Bernie Sanders. The original post said (I’m paraphrasing from this point on) “I love Bernie Sanders, but I wish he hadn’t used the word socialist so much” and most people were agreeing with her but, having to take the minority position, as usual, I said “Bernie was being honest, which is what I love about him. Don’t blame Bernie if the American people are too stupid to know what the word means.”
I guess that’s hate speech, according to some algorithm. I wonder which particular combination of words triggered them. If they’re objecting to the word ‘stupid’ they’d have to ban half the people commenting on Facebook. Well, maybe not half, but a hell of a lot of people. Or was it specifically that I said American people? Would they have reacted the same if I had said “Russians are stupid” or “Arabs are stupid.”
Anyway, I didn’t say ALL Americans. If the shoe fits, you know.
Anyway, I didn’t see how to respond, and lodge an objection, so my wife found that page and after I’d typed out my reasons why I shouldn’t be banned (which was not completely dissimilar to this blog), I hit send and….I got the box that said “You have been blocked from commenting…”

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