Dear New York Times – Please Unsubscribe Me to Your Publication

Dear New York Times,

It was probably just a matter of time. I started paying for a subscription to the NYT after a friend suggested I start playing Wordle, the clever five letter word game. It was sort of like giving a taste just to draw me into your house of mirrors. I have enjoyed the game and have had a streak of fifty-four continuous wins at one point.

With the paid subscription I began reading the news primarily and some of the essays by the opinion writers. The guest essays are often quite fun. Big names like Hillary Clinton, Bill Gates and various U.S. Senators  have often been interesting reads. I suddenly felt like I was in the “know,” given a view into the rich and powerful.  I tend to open the comments section for articles about Trump. Your readers then go on and on in a sort of cathartic release of how insane our times are and “how in hell that guy is not in jail yet” monologues.  I have joined in on the ruckus at times but little lately.  It really is a waste of time in the end.

And then  in November you began publishing your Presidential race polls, which made it so we should rename out country “The United States of Anxiety,” as somehow the guy who was impeached twice and is in all kinds of legal problems is running neck and neck with the other guy. How is this even possible? One thing is for sure. I do not want to spend 2024 watching this horse race that you started.

In a recent episode of “On The Media” –  “Is The New York Times A Tech Company?”  does a good look at how the The New York Times refactored itself as not a newspaper or even a news publisher, but as a tech company. Publishing is dead. It is about a “platform.” No longer do you make money with good content and intelligent editors and stagnant ads but the with surveillance of your readers. Cull the ads for a demographic. Tease them with sticky content that will make them stay on the site.

I began to notice the formula. News more often than not started to become not events but merely conjecture and what people said.  “Trump has decided to
not show up in court tomorrow.” “McConnel says he if feeling just fine.” “George Santos says he may parley his fame and become a gameshow host.” And even Ross Douthat goes so far as staging a hypothetical situation where Hillary Clinton (not Donald Trump) stages a coup.

The sticky content just kept coming. The rich and famous, the shysters and scandal were given prime real-estate on your paper. People would often should be in jail were treated as celebrities.  Every time Trump would say something outrageous you would put his photo in a suit and a slick red or blue tie on the front page.  Make him and our neurotic political environment seem “normal.” Someone who sent an angry mob on the capital is presented as a slick guy in fancy suits. You give the guy free real-estate on a hourly basis. Enough!

So I’m done. Please cancel my subscription to your echo chamber. I will not follow your polls or read your op-eds by your mostly corporate conservative, neo-liberal columnists. I will not read the witty comments from your dedicated readers. I will no longer have to wade through the 10 Ways to Lose 20 Pounds articles.  I am done with your high-brow tabloid corporate journalism.

I decided to free up that time I was sucked in to your world for better things. I will get my national news from the many available sources out there.  I am giving money to my local paper, Mission Local and 48 Hills. I subscribe to Matt Stollers BIG.   But worry not. I will still play Wordle. That was sold to you with the stipulation that it would always be free.

Below are some of the easy to find examples of the new high-brow tabloid journalism at the New York Times. 

The April 2023 Atlantic Essay That Went Under the Radar – The Moral Case Against Equity Language

THE MORAL CASE AGAINST EQUITY LANGUAGE
What’s a “justice-involved person”?
By George Packer

In the April 2023 issue of The Atlantic is an article by George Packer that was very insightful that oddly did not seem to stir up any debate. The article brings up something that is under the radar in our current society, but on everyone’s minds. The Moral Case Against Equity Language outlines how language today is being regulated by new equity guideline teams. In marketing lingo these guidelines often are a part of what are called style guides.  Words have power and the object is to make language more “equitable.” The article explains how these new equity guidelines are used by The Sierra Club, non-profits, corporations, academia and other large organizations to craft their writing. It  explains the complicated way that language and words enforce power structures and define identity. How important it is for everyone to “get it right.”  It looks at current efforts to equalize and defang language of some of it historical biases and prejudices. Words matter indeed. One cannot help but think of Orwell’s thought police. The article starts out with:

“The sierra club’s Equity Language Guide discourages using the words stand, Americans, blind, and crazy. The first two fail at inclusion, because not everyone can stand and not everyone living in this country is a citizen. The third and fourth, even as figures of speech (“Legislators are blind to climate change”), are insulting to the disabled. The guide also rejects the disabled in favor of people living with disabilities, for the same reason that enslaved person has generally replaced slave : to affirm, by the tenets of what’s called “people-first language,” that “everyone is first and foremost a person, not their disability or other identity.”

The article goes on with

“Although the guides refer to language “evolving,” these changes are a revolution from above. They haven’t emerged organically from the shifting linguistic habits of large numbers of people. They are handed down in communiqués written by obscure “experts” who purport to speak for vaguely defined “communities,” remaining unanswerable to a public that’s being morally coerced.”

That’s the spooky part that is often the elephant in the room these days. Who are these people? The article closes with an argument that the guidelines maybe doing more harm than good. Whether you are “homeless” or “unhoused,” you still do not have a roof over your head. Changing the language does not solve the problem. It really often simply makes people feel less guilty and temporarily more comfortable.

This huge expense of energy to purify language reveals a weakened belief in more material forms of progress. If we don’t know how to end racism, we can at least call it structural. The guides want to make the ugliness of our society disappear by linguistic fiat. Even by their own lights, they do more ill than good—not because of their absurd bans on ordinary words like congresswoman and expat, or the self-torture they require of conscientious users, but because they make it impossible to face squarely the wrongs they want to right, which is the starting point for any change.

Brilliant thinking and something no one dares touch. I am surprised that the article did not stir up more debate. Indeed, “the guides want to make the ugliness of our society disappear by linguistic fiat” is a fair assessment.

Excellent topic. Choice writing. Subscribe to The Atlantic today!

Epilogue

It is important to not confuse the new equity guidelines with other issues of freedom of speech. That someone who commits multiple felonies and then threatens judges and elected officials receives a “gag-order” has absolutely nothing to do with the topic in this article.

And to that point, the writing and thinking of authors from before the equity guidelines, who use “slave” instead of “enslaved person” are no less valid in their works because of this use of language. Furthermore, if authors today use the old nomenclature, it does not invalidate their theories or ideas. A vigorous intellectual pursuit is not meant to be a journey towards making everyone feel comfortable.

Digital Millennium Copyright Act 25 Year Anniversary

UPDATE: OCTOBER 31, 2023: Not a single media outlet celebrated the Digital Millennium Copyright Act 25 Year Anniversary. Amazing!

It is now October 2023, twenty-five years after the passage of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Seven years ago I published the piece below about the 18 year anniversary of the DMCA.  The DMCA has made it so you can listen to just about any recording made in the last 100 years for free on YouTube after looking at some ridiculous advertisement for five seconds.  It has made it so tech companies and publishing empires no longer have  responsibility for what is published on their applications, websites and what they now call “platforms.”  Safe harbor. Everything is just content.  Stuff. No one owns the stars.

I predict that on October 28, 2023  very few media organizations will acknowledge the DMCA 25 year anniversary.  The world changes and while it is changing hardly anyone notices; we all just roll with it as that is the only option. So pop the champagne corks. To the liberation of content!

FROM MY POST on OCTOBER 12, 2016
Digital Millennium Copyright Act 18 Year Anniversary

Passed on October 12, 1998, by a unanimous vote in the United States Senate and signed into law by President Bill Clinton on October 28, 1998, the DMCA amended Title 17 of the United States Code to extend the reach of copyright, while limiting the liability of the providers of online services for copyright infringement by their users.
wikipedia.org

It is 1998 – The Senate Now Has E-Mail
Let’s Have a Party!

25 years ago this month the Digital Millennium Copyright Act was passed. I would wager that very few people even know what the DMCA is, but it has affected modern life substantially. It is in many ways just one more version of an old story of plunder by larger more powerful entities, and the taking advantage of the smaller, but often more vibrant creators. In many ways, it has made it so the copyright laws in such industries as music are pointless.

But let’s back up a bit. Everyone can remember the transition that happened when CDs came out and then everyone was ripping their CDs to MP3s and handing off 100 gig drives full of music files to their buddies. Then there was Napster that simply stitched all these drives together in one big mass orgy of free MP3s. Napster got the injunction primarily because the established music industry  had no cut of the racket. Along come tech giants like Google, Apple, Microsoft and Samsung and to cover their liability the DMCA made perfect sense. If someone has “illegal” music on their devices, they should not be held accountable. Furthermore, if someone uploads a Beatles tune as a video with a picture of Ringo Starr as the graphics to YouTube, why should YouTube be held accountable for such blatant infringement? All good and well. But that was 1998. Today is 2016. I am certain that in 1998 most members of the Senate had no idea the true implications of the DMCA. In 1998, most of the members of the Senate probably did not even know how to manage their own email. They were still licking stamps.

The DMCA’s principal innovation in the field of copyright is the exemption from direct and indirect liability of Internet service providers and other intermediaries.
wikipedia.org

Let’s look back a bit. In 1998 the leading browser of the day was Netscape 2. Internet Explorer was at version 5.5. If anyone remembers IE 6, imagine how terrible IE 5.5 must have been. Windows 98 had probably just been released.  Man, that is scary. My point is that the DMCA has not been updated for 18 years and is an extremely flawed piece of legislation. The large tech companies have in many ways based their entire industry on the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. It allows for basically everyone to break the law everyday and not have to worry about it. When was the last time that a cop pulled someone over and wanted to check if the person had pirated music on their phone? There probably is thousands of dollars of contraband on everyone’s devices. Ain’t gonna happen.

Times Have Changed – Google Is Our Master of Information

But this is what is disingenuous about the DMCA. Companies like Google know just about everything about you. What you buy. What websites you visit. Your birthday. Your favorite color.

In 2016 they have the ability to determine if a piece of music is copyrighted via matching wave forms, and indeed this is how they “monetize” this work.  But YouTube refuses to acknowledge this UNLESS they are in a position to make money off of that music – they make money anyway but that is another post. The only way the copyright holder can get the videos of their music taken down is with take-down notices. If a song is popular, this can mean hundreds of separate videos with the same song on it.  The artists cannot simply tell the ISP such as YouTube “I do not want my work on your network.” YouTube is sort of like that creepy neighbor running a crack-house who borrowed your weed-whacker last spring and refuses to give it back claiming ignorance. Musicians, songwriters and composers have better things to do with their time than chase down illegal version of their work.

YouTube is sort of like that creepy neighbor running a crack-house who borrowed your weed-whacker last spring and refuses to give it back claiming ignorance. Musicians, songwriters and composers have better things to do with their time than chase down illegal version of their work.

Which brings me back to 1998. Do you really think in 1998 anyone could predict such entities as YouTube or Facebook? And unlike the owners of these companies, I believe these entities are not just platforms, they are simply publishers with free content providers and creators. These publishers have to take responsibility as well for copyright infringement. It is within their technical realm but they are playing dumb as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 suits them just fine. The DMCA is to their advantage.

The real master of deception with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act is  YouTube. Facebook, Twitter and the like have simply entered personal lives and monetized birthdays and other important life events until people depart from this world. Personalized marketing on steroids that the users all agree to though without  really reading the privacy policies.

But all such companies are the modern-day plunderers. Instead of grabbing continents, forests, rivers, enslaving the natives and digging for gold, they are plundering your personal events and consumer habits along with the likes of great artists like James Brown, Elton John, Charlie Palmieri, Vince Gill,  Willie Green,  Slayer, Bette Midler, Woody Guthrie (the list is endless) and any person who has recorded or published a piece of music in the last hundred years.

Conclusion

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act needs to be reexamined and rewritten every five years to reflect and take into consideration the changes in technology, creativity and platforms. It is an important part of combating the many inequities in our society.

Banning the Wrong Books

…the truth is, that when a Library expels a book of mine and leaves an unexpurgated Bible lying around where unprotected youth and age can get hold of it, the deep unconscious irony of it delights me and doesn’t anger me.”
Mark Twain – concerning the banning of “Eve’s Diary,” a comic short story by Mark Twain

There has been much news about the banning of books of late. A sort of totalitarian energy in our world has emerged in a way reminiscent of earlier times. The “thought police” is hard at work. With opinion becoming increasingly confused for truth and a reactionary strain has entered the body politic. There has been the  banning of books on civil rights, African American history, gay rights and history and queer memoirs one of which is Gender Queer: A Memoir by Maia Kobabe perhaps the most banned book in recent years.

Curious what all the fuss is about, I checked out Gender Queer from the public  library.  The book is actually a comic book. It is memoir of a young person in rural Northern California discovering their gender identity and becoming transgender.  It is poorly written, rather naïve and the illustrations leave a lot to be desired. You can read the entire book in a few hours. I highly recommend that people check this book out from the library and read it as this topic will continue to be in the news. It will certainly influence future elections. While you are at the library also check out some Calvin and Hobbes and perhaps Captain Underpants –  far better literary works.

Indeed, I think the problem with the books bans, is the quality of the books they are banning. The banning of books seems only to shine the light on these trendy  low quality books which few adults have actually read. The book banning types need to go after bigger fish and bring interest to higher quality work. There are so many to choose from. Without further adieu:

SF Journal Official Short List of Banned Books 2023


#1: Brave New World
Aldous Huxley
HarperCollins
The notion that in the future we will become these sex-crazed perverts is simply unacceptable. The explicit drug use is out of control as well. Do not read this book! It will ruin your brain.

#2: Slaughterhouse Five – A Children’s Crusade
Kurt Vonnegut
Random House
One of those books that has been banned, and should be banned because there is perhaps a little sex and nudity, but probably because Vonnegut, a pacifist, takes the whole notion of war to task. In our war-mongering world, peace is simply unacceptable.

#3: Free People of Color of New Orleans : An Introduction
Mary Gehman
Margaret Media, Incorporated
This “woke” book goes way too far. Why in the world would we even mention New Orleans in the context of geography, Black history or American culture. That the book points out that African Americans were actually free in New Orleans throughout the history of the United States is just plain preposterous.

 

CONCLUSION
Of course there are many more books that need to be suppressed. To all the censors out there: please work harder at identifying higher quality books to ban.

History Books are Not Meant To Make You Feel Comfortable

Florida and The “Don’t Make Me Feel Guilty Act”

The selling and buying of textbooks is a big business and in Florida they are actively controlling  textbooks often concerning the instruction of  issues of race and social protest.  Florida and Governor Ron DeSantis have been much in the news for various censorship bills. Some of the language in the Florida bill CS/HB 7— Individual Freedom  is rather strange. It  attempts to make it so kids are not made to feel guilty through association. I am not sure whether there are specific incidents of teachers traumatizing kids with guilt through association but maybe that is a Florida thing.

Required Instruction

  • A person, by virtue of his or her race or sex, does not bear responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex.
  • A person should not be instructed that he or she must feel guilt, anguish, or other forms of psychological distress for actions, in which he or she played no part, committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex.

From the Florida Bill CS/HB 7

In Florida, history is evidently not about truth or even the pursuit of truth, but of making sure that certain people feel comfortable.

We’re #1 and Never Question American Exceptionalism

At the core of this sort of legislation is the notion of American exceptionalism. History has always been written and controlled by those in power and the “victors. ”  The bills in Florida are just one more explicit example of this phenomenon.

The history of the United States that was taught to me  in the 1970s left out a lot of important stuff that I learned about only much later in life. (Juneteenth and the Tulsa massacre are just a few examples). Often, the teaching of U.S. history tended to focus on the  the 18th century and the founding of the nation. George Washington and his cherry tree. Benjamin Franklin and his kite and pragmatic habits and little of the fact that he was a vegetarian. The beef industry maybe cut that part out..  The notion that the pilgrims and the Indians had Thanksgiving together and ate turkeys and pumpkin pie.  The exceptionalism of democracy itself. The Declaration of Independence and a little of the Bill of Rights until even that started to become uncomfortable.

By the time you finished high school you maybe learned a few details about the  World War II but that was mostly to the hum of a film projector playing newsreels of the time – the “Battle of the Bulge” or maybe D-Day. Your history teacher, an audio visual enthusiast, was  glad to have the hour of World War II propaganda films so he could grade papers in the dark.  The United States saved the world from fascism but what was fascism but some guy with a strange mustache in a large wool coat screaming into a mic and solders saluting with straight arms. Ten minutes on the holocaust. We did not read anything about the Korean  or Vietnam wars. Cuba was pure evil. The working of the CIA and the assignations of leaders of various democratically elected leaders around the world was never on the syllabus. Current events were discussed occasionally but always in the context of American exceptionalism. Martin Luther King was but a dream. Books that were banned were more often fiction – Huck Finn, Brave New World, Vonnegut and Henry Miller if they somehow made it to the library stacks. Insulting language and often far to sexy. As is always is the case, censorship had the opposite effect of garnering interest for the forbidden texts.

What I find odd about the whole Florida case and the culling of history textbooks is why would Florida even buy new history textbooks? Are the old history books worn out? If they want to live in the fantasy of the US history as taught in 1965 where America can do no wrong, just use one from a bygone time. Every student knows that the real history is often between the lines.  I was often bored to a stupor by the typical history book with the end-of-chapter questions and the summaries meant to fill my brain with often trivial facts. It would be far better to simple use the old history books and teach them in context.  See how the American exceptionalism that was promoted is often far more complex than first meets the eye. Fill in the missing pieces with real books that go into detail about all the things that really happened. Read original works from authors of the time.

What is obviously lacking in all of this discussion is the fact what is often not taught is critical thinking and skepticism, two skills that are essential in life. History can perhaps make people  feel uncomfortable with the truths of the past but kids, please do not take it personally as it is events beyond your control.

Related links:

https://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2022/7/BillText/er/PDF

https://www.flsenate.gov/Committees/BillSummaries/2022/html/2809

https://www.fldoe.org/newsroom/latest-news/florida-approves-over-60-of-social-studies-instructional-materials-submissions.stml

https://www.nytimes.com/2023/05/09/us/desantis-florida-social-studies-textbooks.html?searchResultPosition=2

Breaking News: The Field of Biology is Not In The Humanities

Jeffrey Cohen, a butter-voiced, bearded man who has been the dean of the humanities at A.S.U. since 2018, told me. On taking the position, he hired a marketing firm, Fervor, to sell the humanities better. It ran a market survey of eight hundred and twenty-six students.

“It was eye-opening to see their responses,” Cohen said. “In general, they loved the humanities and rated them higher than their other courses. However, they were unclear on what the humanities were—two hundred and twenty-two thought that biology was a humanity.”
From “The End of the English Major” By Nathan Heller (The New Yorker – February 27, 2023)

The “The End of the English Major” By Nathan Heller (The New Yorker – February 27, 2023) is an illuminating article about how young people today are no longer pursuing degrees in English, History, Philosophy and the other humanities. In many ways you cannot blame them. College is expensive and when you leave you are going to need a way to pay off all those loans. The help wanted listings do not have jobs outright for people who are experts in say Charles Dickens or Renaissance sculpture in Northern Italy. “Go west young man” has been replaced with “get a Computer Science degree you fool!” Be practical and make some loot with ones and zeros.

And the fact that twenty percent of kids today think that biology is in the humanities is understandable as recently the field of psychology has been confusing gender and sex and it is easy to think that they both may be “fluid” and a “spectrum”  – not so much hard science, but more about expression, culture and personal preference.

I would say what is at stake with this exodus of people from the humanities is a whole generation of people who are less literate and easily coerced into believing just about anything. Its the death of critical thinking and by the way – biology is a science!

Republicans Buying Elections, DINOS and the Politics of Party Affiliation

The June 7th, 2022 California Primaries are over and the results are in. As expected Gavin Newsom is in control of the Governor race. In San Francisco, Chesa Boudin the District Attorney has been recalled. The Republican’s millions of dollars, the paying for signatures, the war chest bloated by billionaires has ousted a qualified, hard-working, corruption-free district attorney who was simply doing the job he was elected to do with the approach that he campaigned on.  In plain sight, our democracy is for sale to the highest bidder.  Let us now see what happens when Mayor Breed appoints a new D.A. and supposedly the homelessness will disappear, the pharmaceutical company instigated opioid epidemic is solved, and all the burglaries and violent crime vanishes into thin air. I will not hold my breath.

Nationally, there is a trend and strategy for wealthy Republicans who want to suddenly dive into politics of changing political party not because of values, ideology or philosophy, but because it is politically convenient. After being registered as Republicans for their entire lives they  register as Democrats. They do this as they know that as a Republicans they  do not have a chance at the ballot box and so at the eleventh hour join the Democratic party . This is the opposite direction that Donald Trump took when he ran for president, but in his case he was always simply a New York style mob leader and fascist – his party affiliation has been simply a matter of convenience . Donald Trump is in every way the RINO in the room and has made it so the Republican party now looks nothing like the party of Eisenhower, Reagan or Bob Dole.

In Los Angeles the mayoral race  between Rick Caruso and Karen Bass is just another example of this pay to play politics. Rick Caruso is a wealthy Republican real estate mogul who registered as a Democrat simply to run for mayor. A good friend came up with a name for such people – DINOS. Rick Caruso and such characters are indeed “Democrats in Name Only.”

In the end, money talks.

 

Let’s Form a Well Regulated Militia

Second Amendment
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
– The U.S. Bill of Rights

The United States could partially solve the out of control gun issue in this country by playing the “originalist” card and beat the “conservatives” at their own game. Originalism is the the notion that it is best not to interpret The Constitution and that the words must mean what they meant when the document was written. Five years ago I pointed out that the Trump administration did not even post the actual Second Amendment but rewrote it a bit – took out the “well regulated Militia” part and simplified it to basically say  “everyone gets guns.” It is odd that the originalists did not find issue with this rewriting and often they have interpretations like Trump’s on their websites.

https://sfjournal.net/u-s-constitution-original-source/

From my ninth grade history class with William Putman I learned that the whole “well regulated Militia” part had to do with the situation at hand. The newly forming country knew that many of the citizens. especially in rural areas, were armed probably mostly so they could hunt and survive. They did not want the British to take away their weapons and needed these folks to be able to join their cause. Thus you have the antiquated phrase “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State.”

So let’s indeed have a well regulated Militia.  Everyone who owns a gun is now a part of the Militia. I would have all these people with all their guns show up on July 4th to the town armory.  Individuals would be assessed for their mental stability, physical fitness and  understanding of the US Constitution. There would also be required safety trainings. They would be given an official “I’m a Member of the Militia” ID card, and then at the end people would turn in their guns as our “well regulated militia” now no longer needs these weapons.  Indeed, the British are NOT coming. The Militia would now consist of a few thousand folk who use their guns to hunt small birds, rabbits and deer to help with deer wasting disease.

Of course, I write this opinion in jest, as it would never happen, but I write to point out the absurdity of “originalism” and how it is used only when convenient. It does cut both ways.

Judge Kentanji Jackson and Definitions

On March 23, 2022, I submitted the comment below on the NY Times website.

Your comment has been approved!

Thank you for sharing your thoughts with The New York Times community.

Gustav | San Francisco
The Republican’s obsession with child pornography was odd theater. What they did not realize is that Judge Jackson gave them an answer that they should have been pleased with. Saying that the definition of a woman is done by a biologist is the traditional view. More often today it is an “internal sense of self” and then that “sense of self” is affirmed by a psychologist. They are so caught up on, and terrified that a Black woman could be on the Supreme Court, they have stopped listening.

FROM: https://www.nytimes.com/2022/03/23/us/politics/ketanji-brown-jackson.html


Judge Kentanji Jackson had to sit and watch and respond while the Senate asked questions mostly to grandstand and score political points. The Lindsey Graham tirade was especially painful. The whole confirmation hearing should have been really dry and boring, to see whether or not she is qualified and understands the law. But politics is now more about division and entertainment. It is like mud wrestling or perhaps a demolition derby.

After reading the New York Times article above I commented on it which you can read above. This was approved for a time but then the next day, wondering if someone had commented on my remarks, I noticed that the comment was taken down. This happens to me with the New York Times – they censor my comments at times and practice a sort of thought police. Good grief! I must be a dangerous thinker.

Issues of gender and identity are the new elephant in the room and both the left and the right are thoroughly confused. Judge Jackson’s response to the definition of a woman should have pleased the Republican senator, but he was unprepared, seemingly dense  and probably wanted the answer to be about gender roles and something like “a woman is someone who does the laundry, takes care of the kids and cooks me dinner each night.” Judge Jackson’s response was actually similar to how Judge Neil Gorsuch has responded to issues of gender. In a recent case about discrimination (Bostock vs. Clayton County) Gorsuch wrote. “That’s because it is impossible to discriminate against a person for being homosexual or transgender without discriminating against that individual based on sex.” In the same way that Judge Jackson said that a woman can be defined by a biologist, Gorsuch used the word “sex.” In the end, for legal purposes, it is biology evidently that still defines us.

While certain feminists are rejoicing with her response, most on the left are apparently oblivious to the ramifications. People on the left may look at a Black woman and think that she shares all of their progressive beliefs and will do everything to keep them happy. Republicans are so caught up on, and terrified that a Black woman could be on the Supreme Court, they have stopped listening and simply long for the days of the old White boys network. But for now, it doesn’t really matter as Judge Kentanji Jackson is imminently qualified and will be a welcome addition to the court.

NOTE:
On March 23, 2022, I submitted the comment above on the NY Times website. At one point I commented a few times every week. It is so odd that my comment was pulled down. Can someone explain why? The NY Times would not say.

Book Banning and The Question of Literacy In the First Place

The greatest orator, save one of antiquity, has left it on record that he always studied his adversaries case with as great if not still greater intensity than even his own. What Cicero practices as a means of forensic success requires to be imitated by all who study any subject in order to arrive at the truth. He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that.
– From On Liberty – John Stuart Mill

I recently read a guest opinion piece in the New York Times called The Battle for the Soul of the Library by Stanley Kurtz. Doctor Kurtz is a conservative think tank scholar who has written many books, one of which warned us about the terrifying socialist president Barack Obama (guess he sort of missed the mark on that one). In the The Battle for the Soul of the Library, he laments that the current “woke” politics have infiltrated the profession of the librarian and has made it so the library is no longer a place for classical liberal scholarship and neutrality. Librarians are now doing their job with political motivations, recommending books by Howard Zinn and Noam Chomsky over David Brooks, Stanley Kurtz and Donald Trump. Our current times have revived culture wars over books and libraries but in the end, it is all a bit silly for a variety of reasons.

One, most people and and especially kids do not actually read books that much in the first place. I can safely say that before the internet and smart phones, going to high school and college meant a lot more reading of books. Today, reading takes place primarily on the internet. Rarely do I see the youth actually with their noses in a book – and why would you read an entire book on your phone? Second, librarians have been usurped by Google, Wikipedia and the internets. If someone wants to learn about a topic or find a book, they probably do not go to the library and ask a librarian. More likely they search on the internets and eventual read reviews on Amazon. The battle is really a false battle.  Librarians are not the social movers of our day. Search algorithms and creepy fine-tuned marketing campaigns are far more powerful.

It is the year 2022. What book banning  has to do about is what version of history is sanctioned and approved. Do we teach the same history that was taught in 1950? Do we emphasize and obsess about George Washington surely cutting down a cherry tree or that at the time most wealthy White Americans owned slaves?  Is it about how the Pilgrims and the Indians must have gotten along and shared food or about how the United States government reneged on the treaties with Native Americans? Do we include the Tulsa massacres into history books or airbrush this significant historical event out of the record? Is it about whether presidential records can be flushed down the toilet or are taped back together to get some sort of objectivity.

This sort of dilemma is challenging for both the political right and left.  The mostly White Republican party wants nothing to do with the fact that the country is a complicated place that is built upon racism and slavery.  They want to fly their flags and be proud to be White and American. They want to flush the unsavory parts of our past down the toilet. Perhaps this is one of the reason why they glom onto Donald Trump.

On the left, they want nothing of the writings of Ayn Rand and Adam Smith as they are surely White and racist but prefer the kids read the latest hurried publications or perhaps Marx and Engels. But reading books by dead white guys is just so out of fashion. What could they possibly know?

Libraries are great places and important in society.  A library card is a passport to a whole new world, however because I always forget to return books on time, I more often frequent books stores. The biggest tragedy with the library happened when they digitized everything. No longer do you get to have your book stamped in the back with the return date when you check it out.  You could look at that date and all the other dates stamped and get a sense of time and community. I do sometimes buy books at library sales when they cull and discard books that people are not reading. It is amazing what treasures you can find.

The Great Highway and the Save the Great Walkway Rally

Save the Great Walkway Rally
Start: Sunday, August 15, 2021 • 10:30 AM
Location: Great Walkway at Judah • 1398 Great Highway, San Francisco, CA 94122

If you are interested, attend the march this Sunday.

https://actionnetwork.org/events/save-the-great-walkway-rally?source=email&

The Great Highway, due to the pandemic, has been pedestrian-only for about a year and a half. It is a great safe place to walk., catch views of Ocean Beach and the Marin Headlands, and even perhaps muse over the absurdity of life. To the south you see all the way to Pedro Point in Pacifica. Out on the ocean you can often see the large container ships lumbering along. When the air is clear you can make out the Farallon Islands and even see all the way up to Point Reyes.  During fire seasons the air at Ocean Beach is often the best around with the ocean breeze far from the burning forests.

Kids have spent the last year with a place to get out and ride bikes. Runners and bikers of all ages use this highway. There is no reason to give it back to the cars commuting from Marin. They can take Sunset Blvd or 19th Ave or simply work from home.  If we have learned one thing from this pandemic is that it is not business as usual, and time to slow down and enjoy and protect the public spaces. No cars on The Great Highway!

Save the Great Highway for the people. It is better for our health, public safety and our kids.

Some random pics from the last year and a half out along the Great Highway.

Why Facebook is Not Like the Bulletin Board at the Laundromat

This essay explores different perspectives concerning Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996. Movies such as The Social Network have finally made obvious to the broader public some of the toxicity of social media and this essay is to point out that Facebook and other social media companies are not like cork message boards at the laundromat but rather a modern, innovative and complicated form of publishing. For some background, read the New York Times article Tech Companies Shift Their Posture on a Legal Shield, Wary of Being Left Behind where in the comments a gentleman from New York commented the following:

– Kenneth, ny
Section 230 is the wrong tool for regulating tech giants; it’s how people can say something on the internet without bringing down the hosting service. Let’s remove it; we’d lose these comment boards because now the Times is liable for its contents. Twitter gets nuked completely (possibly a good outcome in your estimation!) but so too does every place users can place comments. The analogy that impressed me in law school was the idea of a cork message board — if someone comes along and staples a defamatory statement, you go after the person who posted it. You don’t sue the owner of the corkboard. And if the corkboard owner removes the defamatory statement, then the original speaker doesn’t get to sue them in turn. That’s the point and purpose of section 230. If the corkboard owner owns all the corkboards, then okay, that’s why we have antitrust laws. But unless you want to start scrutinizing all online speech via legislation, we should use other means to attack the power of the internet giants.

ACT 1:  The Metaphor Trap

Trying to make sense of the new digital world, people conjure up metaphors from the physical world. For many years it was called the Information Superhighway and the internet was something that you surfed. Lately, servers are called the cloud.  These are convenient ways we, or probably more accurately, marketing departments, try to give people a reference for this fast moving world.  But in actuality you do not surf the internet and it is not a cloud. It seems skepticism is sometimes in short supply these days. The notion that interacting with social media and “posting,” is at its essence, the same voluntary action as  posting a notice about your lost cat on the local laundromat cork message board is simply naive.  Facebook is not a cork board. It is far more complicated.

ACT 2: Horses and cars

Comparing Facebook with cork bulletin  boards is perhaps  like comparing horses with cars.  Both horses and cars are a means of transportation. Indeed, when the automobile became ubiquitous the motor’s strength was horsepower. This must have been a certain horse in a good mood, and it surely was just an average and not very accurate.  Because horses were not cars there were all kinds of regulations about how fast they could go, and how you had to drive with lights on at night and wear seat belts, and eventually it got so bad, you had to have a drivers licence.  Cars, as long as they had gas could go for hours on end. Horses need rest. While horses and cars are tools for humans to get from one place to another, they are apples and oranges. Facebook is not a cork board. It is far more complicated.

ACT 3: Geography

A cork board in the laundromat always stays in one place .  In  reality the only reason the owner of the laundromat put up the freakin’ cork board in the first place was because people kept taping room rentals and lost pet posters on the wall and she was getting tired of cleaning off all the sticky tape.  People who see Facebook stuff have it on their phone, on their computer at home, in an internet cafe (they still have those) – basically everywhere they are they can get news and messages from people they do not really even know. They see the social media stuff everywhere.  The message board at the laundromat hangs out in the laundromat all night in the dark with the florescent lights off waiting for the morning for the door to be unlocked and someone to poke it witha thumbtack in the morning the next day.

Furthermore, your laundromat bulletin board is not a two way mirror where some creepy white guy in a hoody is  behind the glass spying on your every move, changing what you see on the bulletin board by gauging your mood and even where your eyes focus.  It does not track whether you were in the laundromat last week, or how many loads you did, or whether you just came from the grocery store. Facebook is not a cork board. It is far more complicated.

ACT 4: Classified Ads

In reality a cork board in a laundromat is perhaps more like a free classified service like craigslist but the cork board in a laundromat is physical.. However, unlike craigslist and for that matter Facebook, when someone posts a notice on the cork board they do not have to give the owner of the cork board their birth date, email, or any other personal information. On the cork board people post their “stuff”and often write their phone number many times on the  notice so that people can tear off the phone numbers and easily call them .  People are usually pretty anonymous and everyone sees the same stuff. The woman who owns the laundromat (or craigslist for that matter) does not customize the cork board for different laundromat users based on their politics, gender orientation or sport teams affiliation. Facebook is not a cork board. It is far more complicated.

ACT 5: Selling Your Self to the Devil

Unlike Facebook, I would wager that a cork message board in my local laundromat is pretty harmless. It is not a platform associated with radical white extremists that are conspiring to kidnap the governor, or entire governments intent on marginalizing and murdering certain members of society as what happen in  Myanmar.

The cork board is probably not a place where strange inaccurate and totally false conspiracy theories propagate. Perhaps Facebook is more often like a toxic dump site, that is oozing falsehoods and devious schemes all night. but appears benign. Facebook is not a cork board. It is far more complicated.

ACT 6: What if I post stuff that is copyrighted?

A few years after Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 was the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) which ushered in the 21st century that often marginalized tradition creators of music, art and publishing.  The DMCA made it completely legal for hosting companies and most often large monopolies to make money off of the music of the last 100 years and be free of any legal consequences for copyright infringement as the material was posted by users.  Sort of like taping your 100 gig drive of all your CDs as MP3’s on that laundromat cork board and telling everyone to just come and make  free copies while the laundromat got financial kickbacks.

I have been writing about how the DMCA is unconstitutional for years.

Digital Millennium Copyright Act 18 Year Anniversary

Facebook is not a cork board. It is far more complicated.

ACT 7: Facebook is actually a Publisher with Unpaid Content Providers and is Edited by Algorithms

Imagine if your Facebook feed came to you once a day in print delivered to your doorstep.  It is a “book” by the way. Your print version of Facebook would contain the news from some traditional news source, the warm and fuzzy stories and op-eds from your crazy uncle. It even has comics. It is published in billions of editions and every user gets their own custom versions. This siloing of content is  one of the reasons why our democracies are breaking into the tribalism of identity politics. Everyone lives in their custom realities and subjective idealism with their own version of truth. (The customization of various editions is not unlike  the New York Times that has a “west coast” version. ) On Facebook and the New York Times are ads and classifieds and Facebook makes billions off the advertising in their publishing business.  Facebook is not just a platform, it is a modern, complicated form of publishing with vast editorial power.  Indeed, if I posted this essay on Facebook it would soon end up at the bottom of everyone’s feed and eventually the trash. How do I know this? It has happened before when I posted on Facebook such critiques. Facebook is not a cork board. It is far more complicated.

ACT 8: Anti-trust and Toxic Waste Dumps

The quote above that started this ramble speaks of anti-trust and breaking up the likes of Facebook as Teddy Roosevelt helped do with the railroads a hundred years ago.  Anti-trust laws will surely be the legal path, but I still maintain:  Facebook is not a cork board. It is far more complicated. The legal world needs to realize that the internet is not one huge cork message board at the laundromat where no one is accountable.

The Treason of Donald Trump and the Republican Party

It is now a week after the November 3, 2020 election. Because of Covid-19 and the large amount of mail-in ballots, it took until Saturday for Pennsylvania to be called for Joe Biden.  The United States of America is still counting votes but the outcome is clear. Joe Biden won the Electoral College vote as well as a popular vote margin that when everything is counted will be over 5 million votes. Donald Trump is soon to be evicted from federal housing.

However, Donald Trump is playing the sore loser and claiming election fraud with no evidence that anything fraudulent happened. This is a typical Trump maneuver and this behavior of “deny, deny, deny” is a skill he learned from the notorious scumbag Roy Cohn. The prediction that Trump would never concede was pointed out by Michael Cohen over a year ago.

Michael Cohen Warned Us In February 2019

That just about every Republican supports Trump in his chronic denialism and legal maneuvers is deplorable.; Mitch McConnell has always been deplorable. At this point the Republican party is a party of traitors and treason and the oaths that they took to The Constitution are absurd.

NOTE: The opinion above is only that of the author and does not represent the San Francisco Journal, investors or subsidiaries. Letters to the editors can be sent via the contact link below.

Op-ed: U.S. Supreme Court and Bostock vs. Clayton County

In a 6-3 decision, the court said the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which bars employers with 15 employees or more from discriminating on the basis of sex, requires them to treat male and female employees equally regardless of their sexuality or biological gender at birth — regardless of whether they are gay or lesbian, straight or transgender.
SF Chronicle – U.S. Supreme Court rules job discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity is illegal – June 15, 2020

It is a good thing that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that job discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity is illegal ( Bostock vs. Clayton County). To condone discrimination based on who people love and are attracted to  and people who are on hormones to self-authenticate their gender is simply unethical.   Prescribing hormones to people to self-authenticate has its own set of ethical questions, but that is another topic all together. What is lost on many journalists and commentators who think this is simply a big win for people who are homosexual or identify as transgender is that they miss a key aspect of the ruling. What the ruling does is simply reaffirm the 1964 Civil Rights Act which bars employers with 15 employees or more from discriminating on the basis of sex

Gorsuch wrote. “That’s because it is impossible to discriminate against a person for being homosexual or transgender without discriminating against that individual based on sex.”

What this means, and what the court is saying is that sex is real. In our current world of polarized political rhetoric, identity politics and solipsism this may seem like a minor point, but in reality it is significant. Bostock vs. Clayton County may be framed as a win for LGBT rights but it far more subtle. Gorsuch frames the issue with “it does not matter whether you are gay or identify as transgender you are first, fundamentally a human – female or male.” Surprisingly, he is looking at the issue from a feminist, not really a LGBT, perspective.

Eventually there will be other judgments by the court that will disappoint the LGBT community. They will become shrill and irate and claim that Gorsuch has changed his views and backpedaled but in fact they will not understand the premise of his argument and reasoning.  Indeed, the ERA, that unfortunately never passed, is an amendment that would have deemed equality not based on gender but sex.

It is refreshing to see the Supreme Court function as it was intended. A place where cases are argued and laws are created that take the long view and are not susceptible to the politics and fads of the day,

NOTE: The opinion above is only that of the author and does not represent the San Francisco Journal, investors or subsidiaries. Letters to the editors can be sent via the contact link below.

 

What I Would ask Donald Trump

It amazes me that reporters are still taken aback at how vile, misogynistic, sexist, selfish and self-aggrandizing Donald Trump is at press conferences.  This sort of behavior has been going on for as long as Donald Trump joined the world of entertainment and politics.  Reporters often stand amazed with their jaws dropped while Trump insults them and calls them bad reporters and their employers “fake news.” It is as though they have not realized that the rule book of civility was burned in 2015 as he climbed his way to power. I suggest that instead of ever thinking they will get a straight answer from this guy, play his silly game.

Instead of asking a question like “Dr. Fauci has stated that it is best that many parts of the economy stay in shutdown. Why against expert advice, do you think it is good to open up the restaurants and bars now?”  To which they will either get an incoherent rambling or an insult or two.

Perhaps it would be better to ask a question where you catch Trump off guard in such a way were he looks even dumber than he already is.  For example, “Mr. President, you stated last week that you have been taking  the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine as a preventive measure for Covid-19. We were wonder if you gargle with bleach before of after you take the hydroxychloroquine?” Such a question would remind the room that Trump has recommended crazy medical theories in the past, and thus he could not deny that he recommended ingesting cleaning products.  The reason that this tactic is essential is that Trump refuses to govern and the only hope for the press is to simply state the truth with as much irony and humor as possible.

If Trump insults them once again, at least the press will get the last laugh.

 

Softening the Edge – Examples of Weak Language at NPR

In journalism the choice of words to describe events and the world is critical to meaning. Often in the New York Times articles will state that President Trump “misrepresented the facts” or that he used “false and misleading statements.” This type of language avoids the obvious fact that the best word for what Trump does constantly is “lie.” Trump does not “misrepresent facts.” Every English teacher would take a red pen and cross out those two words and write “be more direct, simply use the word “lie”.”

Today the glossing over Donald Trump’s  lies is the most obvious watering down of direct language by the mainstream media. But this weak and soft language is common throughout many topics.

“President Trump was caught flat-footed with the Federal response to the coronavirus.”
– NPR News – May 2020

The term “caught flat-footed” is to my surprise not known by many people but the gist is that person who is “caught flat-footed” is innocent about something and was simply caught off-guard or perhaps by surprise. Nothing could be further from the truth. Trump knowingly disregarded  urgent warnings by many of his top advisers – from health experts and even people in the business community. A more accurate choice of words would be that Trump “ignored warnings” and refused to utilize the powers of the federal government to prepare and protect citizens. To this day, he still thinks he can simply wish Covid-19 away.

“The shortcomings of the United States prison system”
– PBS News Hour – May 2020

What an odd phrase. “Shortcomings” allows the listener to project their own meaning on the story. “Shortcomings, you bet you! Let’s lock more poor people and people of color up! ” The United States prison system does not have “shortcomings.” The United States prison system is the “United States Prison Industrial Complex” and as Michele Alexander intelligently points out in “The New Jim Cow,” the prison system is simply used to control black people like laws were  in the Jim Crow era.

 

That the prison system has been largely privatized and a place for large corporate profits is the real story.  The shortcomings of this type of PBS Newshour journalism is that it waters down the truth and reframes the narrative to the advantage of the powerful. Language matters and eventually shapes the political dialogue and perceptions.

NOTE: The opinion above is only that of the author and does not represent the San Francisco Journal, investors or subsidiaries. Letters to the editors can be sent via the contact link below.

Reflections on an Erratic, Narcissistic President

It is April 20th, 2020 and the world is in shutdown mode as the coronavirus travels around the globe. Health officials and governmental officials who listen to them and are reasonably intelligent have deemed human life as more important than short-term profits, stock market fluctuations and popularity polls.   California Governor Gavin Newsom who has been taking an intelligent and cautious path even referred to the people who have died of COVID-19 as “souls.”  I cannot remember a politician refer to humans as “souls” in a very long time.  It made me think that perhaps Gavin Newsom reads old political speeches from bygone eras. It sounded almost spiritual.

And then there is Donald Trump, who takes responsibility for nothing and credit for everything when things appear to go well. We found out that this is what “stable geniuses” do during the 2016 debates. The concept of going bankrupt over and over again and thus not having to pay federal income taxes was “intelligent.” That few questioned this as being unpatriotic, inept, irresponsible or slimy is odd.  And then when the stimulus package was ready to roll out, Trump insisted on delaying the payments for he insisted on having his signature on the checks; a strange twist of fate for someone who has avoided paying taxes.

Trump, even though he is in charge of the executive branch, sees the federal government as the enemy. This is why he insists on doing backroom deals with foreign governments, spewing nonsense and hyperbole on Twitter and in the end never actually leading and  taking responsibility for anything associated with him. Months ago when the pandemic was due to hit and medical supplies where low, Trump refused to invoke the Defense Production Act and take over sectors of manufacturing businesses to create the medical supplies needed for such a scenario.  This is because after years of dodging taxes and NOT paying taxes, he cannot fathom that the checks people write to the federal government can actually be used to help the populous as a whole.

“You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. And what I mean by that [is] it’s an opportunity to do things that you think you could not before.”
Rahm Emanuel -Interview to the Wall Street Journal, November 19, 2008.

What is truly perplexing is that all politicians know that it is times of crises when you can act in a way that will bring people over to your side that usually would never support you. If Donald Trump simply listened to the experts in the room, and made some key decisions at key times, less people would be six feet under and ironically his poll numbers would be through the roof and he would be unstoppable in 2020. But then perhaps these are the choices of a “stable genius.”

Save our souls.

NOTE: The opinion above is only that of the author and does not represent the San Francisco Journal, investors or subsidiaries. Letters to the editors can be sent via the contact link below.

“Surfing the Internet”, “The Cloud” and other Silly Acts of Language Appropriation

 

Cultural appropriation, at times also phrased cultural misappropriation, is the adoption of elements of one culture by members of another culture. This can be controversial when members of a dominant culture appropriate from disadvantaged minority cultures.
Wikipedia

Among many segments of society there is a lot of attention to the issue of “cultural appropriation.” Researching it online you find that the phrase “cultural appropriation” goes back to the 1960’s. So much of that appropriation seemed to come about rather naively and certainly due to ignorance and insensitivity. The end result, besides being disrespectful was often downright silly. The Atlanta Braves. The Kansas City Chiefs, The Washington Redskins all seem to be names associated with a time when ignorance and a lack of cultural awareness was common and not even understood as a problem. Today, cultural appropriation seems to come to light mostly when a celebrity dresses in a certain way and does not understand the significance of the garb, or college students use “Day of the Dead” as simply an excuse to get drunk and try out new costumes, make- up, tequila and margarita mixes.

“Surfing the Internet”

But just as cultural appropriation was and is fueled by the marketing industry, so too is language appropriation. In the internet era there are many new marketing terms associated with the digital things that have metaphors from a romanticized analog object. The phrase “Surfing the Internet” conjured up in the mid 1990’s was a precursor for things to come. This phrase “surfing the internet” is simply strange for anyone who has ever actually surfed. When you surf, you often drive a car to the beach, paddle out past the incoming waves, wait for often a quarter of an hour for a set to come and fight off at least ten other people to catch a wave. Most of the time is spent far from any digital technology in the nature. As many big wave surfers say – “once you leave the beach you are in the wild.” Unlike being at your computer looking up websites, when you go surfing you do get a lot of exercise.

By contrast, when you open an internet browser you rarely get any exercise. You can instantly choose a website from a URL in your head, or go to an number of URLs that you have already visited. New pages flash in front of your face but you never get any of that energy that you get when you are in the ocean. The whole experience is actually nothing like surfing. Take up surfing. You will see what I mean.

“The Cloud”

Another silly term/metaphor is “The Cloud.” When I first heard this term in around 2005 the next weekend I was at a Super Bowl party with someone who is a network administrator and we were laughing about “The Cloud.” What is “The Cloud?” “The Cloud” is simply a server or data center connected to a network that can have redundancies and co-locations so that you can access data and applications from anywhere. The point is to make things secure, predictable and easy to maintain. It is also about monetizing software and data.

Real clouds, on the other hand are anything but predictable. They do not store any digital data and they often move in unpredictable ways, release large amounts of water, ice, hale and snow and sometimes play a dance with the earth and electricity. Real clouds are nothing like “The Cloud.” They are in the sky. Data centers are often those huge, nondescript warehouse buildings next to highways that look very nondescript.

Your data is not somewhere up in the sky floating around in a cloud. More likely it is along highway 101 along with a lot of refrigeration to keep all the servers from melting down. Sometimes the data center is in Florida as we know when there is a hurricane whole data centers can go down.

“You Guys” and the Death of “Ladies and Gentlemen”

I am not sure when this expression “you guys” became ubiquitous but among people under forty it is everywhere. I find it often used when a group of woman are together and one is addressing the entire group. “You guys, let’s go get some coffee!” Does the speaker not see they are addressing only woman? Do they not realize that their great grandmother did not actually have the right to vote and this may be insulting? But perhaps it is the informal nature of our society. Perhaps it is just an expression without any real thought. Perhaps it is, and this is my general observation, the new “ladies and gentlemen.” Indeed when I hear the phrase “you guys” over and over again, instead of wincing, in my head I just replace “you guys” with “ladies and gentlemen.” I do not dislike the “you guys” people. I just find the expression inaccurate and sexist and it plays into our misogynistic and patriarchal society. For woman, “you guys” is not empowering and should actually be insulting.

What is even more peculiar about “you guys” is that we live in times when whole generations, organizations and academic institutions are very sensitive about pronouns. “Please call me “he” on Mondays but by Wednesdays I usually am feeling very non-binary so on Wednesdays use “they.”” Good grief what a quandary! Perhaps we should all go by UGYZ the new “you guys” which is really “ladies and gentlemen” which doesn’t really have a gender, just like the phrase “mankind” which does not actually have a gender but in the end really just means “humans.”

UGYZ. Upper or lowercase. It means the same. Invented here on the pelicancafe.net. Use at your own discretion and now approved for use in Scrabble when you are having a problem getting rid of your “Z.”

 

 

Observations on the Word “Feminism”

“According to Merriam-Webster’s “feminism” was the most searched-for word in its online dictionary, up seventy percent from 2016. But who in 2017 needed to be told what “feminism” means? Upon searching, these people would have learned from Merriam-Webster that “feminism” is “the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes.” Some number of them where probably relieved to learn that it is still just a theory.”

From The New Yorker – Jan 8th, 2018 – Talk of the Town – Words of the Year (Louis Minead)

There are some words that are confusing by their very sound and came to life in a way that in the end does not serve humans or the word well. “Feminism” is one. “Net neutrality” is another.  Wordsmiths and politicians conjure up others. Citizens United, the law that allows corporations to be treated as citizens is another and should really be called Corporations United to Screw You Over. But once a word takes life it is hard to undo the confusion and damage.

The reason why people were probably looking up “feminism” is because for many it conjures up an image of the feminine – perhaps lipstick and high-heels, but originally it was not meant to mean that at all, but I digress and am “mansplaining”  – a word that is quite good and accurate – way better than “feminism.” But I hope the people who looked up the word “feminism” are satisfied with the Merriam-Webster’s definition. That is how I have always had it defined in my head.  Equality. Maybe it should be “equalitism,” but that almost sounds like a mathematical theory.

It is strange that the UCLA feminist magazine and website Fem is staffed entirely by woman. https://femmagazine.com/about/staff-2015-2016/. I think it may have to do with the confusion about the word “feminism” and perhaps a feeling by men that they are not welcome. Surely nothing could be further from the truth. One of my friend’s kids that is off to college joined the  school’s Latin Dancing Club and is loving it. Very few men and a lot of woman who are eagerly looking for dancing partners. Smart guy.

Anyway, this little essay ,Words of the Year, is extremely well written and also pretty funny. I have been exposed to the New Yorker since I was young. When I was a little kid, I would eat my bowl of cereal and page through the single pane cartoons and never get a single joke. Now I look at the cartoons and marvel at how they came up with such great ideas. Usually the Talk of the Town is all about the dreary state of politics. It is good that they mix it up from time to time.

Tom Hanks and How the Hero Pie Gets Divided

Some people are cowards. … I think by and large a third of people are villains, a third are cowards, and a third are heroes. Now a villain and a coward can choose to be a hero, but they have got to make that choice.

Tom Hanks – Parade Magazine
September 22, 2013

UPDATE: November 18, 2023

You have to love the simplicity of this quote – villains, cowards and heroes. If only the world was really that simple. But then again, Mr. Hanks may be on to something. Just about every event or situation has these three characters. The person who steals the candy bar. The person who sees it all happen and refuses to say anything. The clerk who confronts the thief. Granted this is a shallow and silly example and it is obvious to make an example of our current political world where cowards abound. The Republican party has its share of villains and the cowards are everywhere afraid for their own skin. The problem is that the few heroes that exist are leaving the room but state their case in clear language.  The Liz Cheney’s and Adam Kinzinger’s  of the world may be heroic in their own way but unfortunately they are no longer in the room. No one is holding their breaths waiting for all the cowards to suddenly choose to be heroes and state the obvious. Now wouldn’t it be interesting if Tom Hanks ran for president. That would be a heroic choice!