Stick It To ‘Em

stickbook

The next reason in my “go vote” countdown: You get a sticker. Think about the lengths you went to obtain a sticker when you were seven—filled out tedious multiplication tables, vacuumed the living room, traded your fruit roll-up at lunch. Voting is so much easier than all those things. Don’t disappoint your seven-year-old self. Go get your sticker.

Do Not Pass Go

solitairepresident

As promised, I’m going to write about another reason we all need to vote in November. I spent a long time yesterday writing for the job that pays me the medium-bucks, so my creative juices are a little low, but a promise is a promise. That’s what I tell Dave after he says he’ll give me a foot rub and then takes a socks-off whiff of my toes. Gotta stick to your word.

Today’s reason is rooted in two particularly dangerous quotes we heard at the second and third presidential debates. In the second debate, Donald Trump explained in his always-eloquent style how he would assign his attorney general, not the attorney general, mind you, but his, to investigate Hillary Clinton’s lost emails. In it, he went through what he believed Hillary did with those emails, and Hillary, in response, said “It’s just awfully good that someone with the temperament of Donald Trump is not in charge of the law in our country.” To which Donald quipped, “Because you’d be in jail.”

Now, this post is not about the emails. Maybe we can dive into that another time, but not today. This post is about that last little phrase, the one threatening jail time to a political opponent, and what it means alongside this next exchange.

At the final debate, Chris Wallace asked Donald Trump whether he would accept the results of the election. Donald gave a long-winded answer that basically claimed the election and the media are corrupt and that he would decide at that particular moment whether he would concede. He would like to “keep [us] in suspense” as to whether or not he will peacefully remove himself from the race, as other losing candidates in our history have done, or whether he will decide to incite a mass riot and burn effigies in the street.

While doing this, he continued to claim rampant voter fraud by misinterpreting a Pew Research study stating voter registrations are outdated and inaccurate. The study, done in 2012, brought to light that many states’ voting records contain millions of entries that are no longer valid, represent people who have died, or are for voters simultaneously registered in other states. These errors exist because of old systems, requirements to maintain entries until absolute proof of ineligibility is given, and voter registration error. However, the study never makes any claims about actual voter fraud. It doesn’t say that people are voting for those dead people or that people are driving between Washington and Oregon to vote twice in one day. The study says that we have some updating to do technologically. In fact, other studies have decidedly determined that the amount of voter fraud in this country is miniscule. A study by News21 analyzed voter fraud claims and found 10 cases since 2010. One was a 17-year-old voting in his dad’s name. One was a recent immigrant who received two voter cards and thought he had to go to both locations. Four were people who filled out ballots for themselves and their spouses. Donald isn’t the first person to make these claims, but he’s wrong. Voter fraud happens, but it happens on an incredibly small scale. It’s been proven over and over again that we can barely get people out to vote once, let alone ten times.

When Donald makes these claims, he’s doing two things. He’s telling people that we can’t trust our democracy and he’s claiming that he is above the law. He’s openly decided to take one of two vastly un-American actions at the end of this election: jail his opponent if he wins or revolt against the democratic process if he loses.

Does it get scarier than that?

We’re going to need someone in the White House at the end of this who can rise above whatever chaos may or may not occur at the finish line. I’m voting on November 8th because I’d like a president who values our country’s complicated, but relatively stable political process more than her own ego.

 

Totally Judging

oldtimeywigs

I can’t take it anymore. I, being the responsible citizen I am, watched the final presidential debate. Or, rather, I hid under my Tardis blanket and hoped it would send me into another universe. It didn’t. I was still on my couch—being stared down by a predatory, entitled reality television cast member. And I love reality television. I feel personally invested in Khloe Kardashian’s happiness and I fantasize about running the Amazing Race. I tried to find comfort in the intelligent, experienced public servant on the other side of the screen, but it was to no avail. I felt my insides compacting with every interruption, insult, and lie.

Like most women I know, this isn’t the first time I’ve been confronted with an arrogant, condescending, and overreaching man. It happens over and over again in my life. I’m not the only one who’s felt the gut-wrenching sting of trauma-rooted anxiety when sexual assault so cavalierly became the center of this presidential conversation. I’m not the only one who knowingly winced at each one of the 55 times Hillary Clinton was interrupted during the first debate. I’m not the only one who feels the need to hide from the barrage of hate we’re experiencing. But we can’t. We have to stand up. And walk. To the polls.

From here on out, I’m going to post one reason each day that we all need to vote. That’s 20. I’m sure, if I think real hard with my little lady brain, I can come up with 20 reasons for us to get out to the polls on November 8th. This is the first.

There will be at least one appointment to the Supreme Court made by the next president—probably a few. Bill Clinton said there could be as many of four. Donald Trump said he’ll nominate five if he’s elected. This is massive.

Let’s do a little Schoolhouse Rock rundown on the Supreme Court. Justices have the job of the interpreting the Constitution, that nifty document that’s supposed to hold our country’s core. The Constitution was established back when men wore powdered wigs, so it needs a translator—or nine. Since it currently only has eight, they might be relying on Google Translator on evenings and weekends right now. Not a good look for the most powerful court in America and all the more reason to unfreeze that job listing.

Basically, SCOTUS is the highest federal court in the country, so what it says goes. A whole bunch of important rights have been granted to Americans through the court and others have been withheld, depending on its composition. It changes the country’s trajectory—for better or worse. It established an accused person’s right to an attorney, but it also allowed for the internment of Japanese Americans. It confirmed the legality of segregation and, nearly 60 years later, desegregated schools. It ruled against a woman’s right to vote and then upheld a woman’s right to (mostly) choose what’s right for her body. It denied citizenship to slaves and their descendants and, after 110 years, ruled that interracial marriage must be made legal. Just last year, the court determined that states must allow for same-sex marriage. These are big, and, make no mistake, there will be big things coming.

Justices stay on the court until they decide to peace out, so these next few appointments will impact decades of rulings. This is important stuff, guys. I’m going to vote for the candidate who supports the human rights of me, my friends, and many other lovely strangers. I’m just really into that kind of thing.

Forced Expungement

computer

I organize my emails in the most responsible way. If I don’t have the time or energy to deal with something at the moment, but I feel like I can’t delete it, I mark it unread. That means nearly anything of importance sits at the top of my inbox, waiting for me to respond. Because sometimes even email feels like a bit too much communication. That’s the beauty of technology—you can always get to it later. But later becomes even later and that becomes never. The ones in the never category grow until the number gives me anxiety and I feel forced to deal with them. And then those get resolved. I recognize it’s not a perfect solution, but it’s the one I’ve got.

I can’t be the only one in this world who chooses to avoid virtual interactions in this way, but I know I’m the only one in my house. Dave likes to keep no more than five emails in his inbox. He is obsessively organized about it all and swears by a well-developed folder system. He’s always telling me about how I should try it, how the system helps keep everything coordinated. I, obviously, scoff at him and declare it’s a waste of a time. I laugh in the face of his order. I tease him about his careful organization. I tell him I know what I’ve got and it’s not a big deal.

I was wrong. Last week, the computer-wizards (the tiny creatures who live inside my macbook) decided I had too many unread messages. They read them all. Without me. Those emails are now mixed up with all the actually-read nonsense and will never be found again. I’m embarrassed to say how many I had at the exact moment they disintegrated. I’ll just give you a hint: it was more than 222 and less than 224. Gone. Not really gone, but pretty much gone. Who has the time and energy to try and find them? Not someone who didn’t have the time or energy to respond like a normal human in the first place.

I guess if someone really needs me, they’ll try again. If not, it can’t have been that important. I might try this method with real-life interactions—just stand silently when someone talks to me and see if they walk away or keep talking. It will either force really efficient conversations or someone will try to squeeze me into a straightjacket.

Desolation of Smog

gasmask

The World Health Organization just reported that 92% of people are breathing air that falls below the organization’s quality standards. This standard is basically whether or not the air has enough terrible stuff in it (like nitrates, sulfates, and black carbon) to kill you. A bit of that toxic material won’t set off their alarm bells, but once it gets to “will cause severe bodily injury” levels, they take note. If you agree with their non-death-inducing standards, that means nearly every human alive today is filling his or her lungs with harmful, dangerous air.

As a result, in 2012, six and a half million people died just by breathing. Breathing. I’m doing it right now. So are you, I’d bet. Don’t go holding your breath just to prove me wrong. But maybe do hold your breath to limit the amount of toxic air you’re gulping. I’m not a doctor, but it might work. Could we delay the air’s impact on our lungs by forcing our bodies to more efficiently use oxygen? Should we swim more regularly to up our breathing game? Should we breath into paper bags like we’re all suffering through a global panic attack? I feel like that last thing is going to happen either way, so let’s just embrace it as an attempted solution.

To be honest, I’m not sure working on our lung capacity will save us from this disaster. Scientists say we need to develop more efficient transportation systems, stop burning fuel and garbage in our homes, lay off the power plants filled with coal, and refrain from using so much energy to create a bunch of things we don’t need. That means those of us who are privileged enough to have options regarding those four causes should make better choices and those of us who are even more privileged—who have a few extra dollars to spend and give wisely—should do that. I know big problems are hard to solve, but we are literally poisoning one another and we can do better. I have a few ideas.

Buy less stuff. Give some money to scientists and inventors developing better energy sources for global communities. Ride a bike. Vote for representatives who believe in science. Plant a tree. Hug a tree. Support organizations whose purpose is to grow sustainable infrastructure around the world. Pay attention to the labels on your food. Watch a video of an orangutan in Borneo and remember why we make these choices. Eat a vegetable grown near you. Get on the bus (literally and figuratively). Read about how families in other places cook their food and heat their homes. Feel lucky. Take a walk with a friend and discuss how even though you think you’re supposed to like Leonardo DiCaprio because of his dedication to the environment, he’s getting pretty creepy.

Some of these are probably more effective than others, but I think we should all just jump in wherever feels right. I’m going to start with the videos of precocious infant primates.

 

Cold-Hearted

campaignpromises

I know I said I would post about my trip, but I have something else to get off my chest. (That’s a terrible pun you’ll get after reading a bit further.)

Ok, not that much further. I have a little cough. It’s not that big of a deal. It’s from being in the rain and not sleeping enough and flying on a plane. Nothing serious. However, it’s really helping me identify with our next president, Hillary Clinton. In case you haven’t opened your phone or turned on the television or been awake this past weekend, here’s the deal: Hillary is recovering from a bout of pneumonia and the whole world is talking about it.

The way the media is covering her illness, you’d think she was diagnosed with a tragic, terminal, mind-altering condition. People are saying she won’t be fit to lead our country, because she has the nerve to have human lungs. How dare she? Did she forget that all our past presidents have been robots, unfazed by the germs and viruses the rest of us fight. I mean, that’s why we elect them, right?

Also, everyone knows that if you go to work sick, you have to just take a few Advil and pretend all is well. It’s not her fault, but she’s broken the silent pact we women have signed to quietly, strongly continue on despite any physical or emotional discomfort. She was supposed to carry on unnoticed. To her credit, she tried. For days, she kept campaigning. She worked crazy hours. She attended a memorial event. She spoke with the public and the press. But then she had the nerve to request a short break and that’s really where we all have to draw the line.

Here’s the root of all this nonsense. It’s not because those presidents were robots or immune to all the world’s diseases. That’s just a weird sci-fi story I’m about to write about aliens who create robot presidents and send them to Earth to be elected in an attempt to rule the planet from the other side of the Milky Way. It’s because they were men. If Hillary was one, if the public and the media didn’t already have this presumption that she was just a little bit lesser than, weaker than, she wouldn’t be punished for having a chest cold. She would be praised for working hard while not feeling well. She wouldn’t be told she was unqualified for a job based on her need for a low dose of antibiotics.

I’m glad I don’t want to be president because I had to take a bunch of antibiotics this summer, so I’m pretty sure I’d be banned. I hate when experiences that literally every person I know has had get in the way of otherwise achievable dreams.

High Fives All Around

Recharge

I love coming across stories that show me just how great science is and just how awesome the people are who use it to make the world better. The last few days I’ve been reading about a boy who got a double hand transplant. First, he had no hands, and then, after a long surgery, he had two hands. Zero to two! It’s amazing. And they work. He can throw a ball and eat pizza, which are pretty much the only reasons to have hands.

They are supposed to grow with him, but doctors aren’t exactly sure if they’ll last his whole life—mostly because they have never put two new hands on a kid before. I hope they do, but even if they don’t, he will still have been able to throw a lot of balls and eat a lot of pizza before he gets new ones. And isn’t that what life is all about? Just enjoying it as much as we can until our body rejects itself?

Well, that got a little morbid, but this is actually a happy story. It reminds me that if our goals are to better ourselves (like these doctors pushing to do incredible surgeries) and the world (like these doctors helping people instead of building cyborgs to rob banks), humans can be pretty awesome. The rest of the news stories seem to be trying to convince me that we’re all terrible, but this one served as a reminder that we don’t have to be.

 

 

Power of Love

Loving

Facebook keeps telling me how many days it’s been since my last post. It’s an embarrassing number. I stopped looking. Ok, I didn’t stop looking. I looked and then yelled at my computer to stop shaming me and to just let me live. Because I’ve been up to something important.

A lot has happened in the past week, the most significant of which was my sister’s wedding. I was busy completing Pinterest projects, holding her hand, and dancing the night away, so I didn’t get to write much. I did write one thing though—for the happy couple. They seemed to like it and my mom threatened to post it herself if I didn’t put it up here. Based on my knowledge of celebrity gossip, I know it’s crucial to always answer the threats of your number one fan, so here it is.

This is the speech I gave at the reception. It has a few corny jokes, which go over great in big crowds (a lesson I learned from 90s stand-up comics). I’m such a nerd I can’t even write about love without getting all literary and sci-fi-y. That’s obviously not a word yet, but I feel like any word (even a newly created one) that requires two en dashes is worth typing out. Also, I really thought I might have a heart attack before I picked up the microphone, but I survived. Barely.

People have been thinking about love for thousands of years. We’ve made sonnets and screenplays and sculptures all its name. I’d bet there are cave paintings depicting loved ones embracing. Or arguing over what to eat for dinner. Probably both. But I’m going to talk about one particular love story. And it’s not yours. Well, not exactly.

In ancient Greece, privileged men used to sit around and talk about important subjects—history, science, politics, and, of course, love. So, Plato was doing this with his pals and he asked them what they thought of love. The conversation eventually came around to Aristophanes.

He said mankind has never understood the real power of love. He got a little preachy about it all, as the Greeks tended to do with their myths, but here’s the important part:

At the start, people were round, with four arms and four legs. They had one head with two faces. I know, this is getting a little sci-fi, but bear with me. They were basically two people in one. It may seem like an odd shape for a person, but they were super powerful. They literally had eyes in the back of their heads. And they could carry so much. Most impressively, they could roll like crazy. Like, if they were at a family reunion or a field day, they would be killin’ it.

But this story is in the vein of most Greek myths. The people got a little arrogant and the gods got a little threatened. They were worried these two-for-one people might be able to overtake them. To protect themselves, the gods decided to split people in half.

After being split, people began to look for the rest of themselves. Literally, their other half. They would search and search and then, finally, embrace. Once the two halves found one another, Aristophanes said, “the pair [were] lost in an amazement of love and friendship and intimacy, and one would not be out of the other’s sight, even for a moment.”

Because they were whole again. They were complete. And, he said, that’s love. Finding yourself whole.

I’m so glad you’ve found one another. That you can embrace and be whole. I hope you’ll be so powerful together that you make the gods of the ancient Greeks nervous.

And then everyone hugged and drank bourbon and danced to an eight-piece band—all in celebration of a four-armed, four-legged, two-faced creature. Or love. Either one.

Greedy Gamers

LevelUpSocial

Last weekend I went to our local game shop to check out their rummage sale. It was a little too chaotic for me, but we did get a few fun games and Dave was happy about that. The worst part was the way the crowds had to move through the store: unstructured lines—the worst of any human organizational system.

I’m not great with lines, but if there’s a specific purpose, I’m of the opinion that we all should respect the order. A few of these zealous game-hunters did not feel the same way. They were worried their place in line was going to keep them from getting what they wanted. Maybe that’s true. Maybe they should have gotten there earlier. You know, that’s how lines work. The woman in front of me frantically pressed every worker that passed about her status and her desire to cut ahead. She was angry that she might miss something. She didn’t want what was just ahead of her. Blah blah blah. Eventually these workers gave in because who wants to argue with some crazy cat lady. Once that happened, a few more people cut to grab things ahead of others. And I had a minor emotional breakdown. Because what is the point of instilling a line system if you are going to allow people to disregard it! Honestly. Have you no sense of order?

Now, in an arbitrary line situation, where it’s created just to please a power hungry leader, or in a unnecessary line situation, where ignoring it won’t really harm anyone else, I’m all for thwarting the regimen. There’s nothing I hate more than an irrational rule. I skip ahead in buffet lines, I make my friends save my place at the movies, and I ask strangers to hold my spot while I go take a break—all valid coping mechanisms for my line-related anxiety (I think) and each one harmless to my fellow patrons. But I’m not going to step in front of someone to get the last slice of pizza. I’m from the Midwest. We just don’t do that.

These people weren’t trying to deal with the chaos of the situation, they were just being greedy, which is pretty sad. It was a tiny community of game-loving geeks at the store. We’ve got enough trouble outside the walls of a place dedicated to nerds, so we should really be sticking together. We’re stronger that way. Mostly because we all spend a lot of time inside, so it takes more of us to lift things.

We did come together at one point when a girl yelled, “Squirtle!” in the middle of the sale. Other people responded by shouting it up the line until the notice reached the whole group. A good 83% of us pulled out our phones because, you know, priorities. I don’t know if the line-cutters also tried to catch the virtual turtle or if they took the opportunity to swipe more unearned loot, but most of us were pretty pleased—both with our new Poke-friend and with our solid team effort. Nerds, unite.

I Won’t Be Clementine

EvilScientists

I found something new to add to the list of things about which we all need to worry. A group of Japanese researchers have discovered how to implant fake memories into peoples’ brains. They can change the way a person interacts with and remembers the world. The scientists are hoping to use this discovery to treat cognitive disorders, like depression or autism. They think they’ll be able to use visual distortions to erase terrible memories and insert wonderful ones into peoples’ minds. Once a suffering person’s brain-wires are all soldered in new directions, the person will, presumably, be happy and well-functioning.

That’s all well and good, but it’s like these people have never seen a sci-fi movie in their lives. Don’t they know that powers like this can be harnessed for good and evil? And they’re always harnessed for evil? At least at first, before evil-users are usurped by good-doers.

There are definitely memories I could stand to live without. I’d be happy to get rid of a few traumatic moments that continue to pop up in my brain at really inopportune times. I’d love to be without some embarrassing middle school moments. But I’m not going to mess with that kind of mind-melding sorcery. I don’t need to walk away from an outpatient procedure thinking I can fly on an invisible dragon or juggle rings of fire with my eyes closed. That’s exactly the kind of thing my enemies want me to think.