Let’s call it what it is.

October 18, 2017

Harvey Weinstein is a rapist.  The fact that his coercion was socio-economic instead of physical does not change the fact that the women who were his victims; a)felt fear, b)had to submit or face the consequences, c)were either powerless in some sense or were forced to feel powerless to the point of questioning their very sense of self as result of the debasement to which they were subjected.

That money and power gave a predatory bastard the freedom to commit his crimes with some sense of impunity (and that his board of directors authorized hush money payouts) doesn’t make them any less crimes.  It just means he didn’t have to use physical violence.  That lack of money and power kept some people from committing acts like these doesn’t mean they aren’t predatory bastards at heart.

But mental, emotional and psychic violence are still violence.

Privileged people seem to believe they have a right to subjugate those less privileged.  That a movie mogul has access to a non-ending stream of young actors (regardless of gender, because I am sure Weinstein could have been preying on young men if that were his preference) and the power to make or break careers perhaps allowed Weinstein to believe that compliance actually connoted consent.  But consent under duress is at best acquiescence  and at worst silence in the face of being forced.

There is a broader question of power being played out on a bigger stage as well.  Whether being forced under the dick of a prick like Weinstein or being forced under the boot of a heel like Jerry Jones, whose football playing employees are being told ‘tow the line of hypocritical, jingoistic flag saluting or lose your income’, the powerful extract compliance from those over whom they have power.

I have been thinking about the word hegemony

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hegemony

and specifically cultural hegemony

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cultural_hegemony

The culture is filled with markers to let you know that if you are a woman, a person of color, a person in dissent, an immigrant, a person who worships in just about any manner outside of Protestantism, you better be submissive.  You better take your lot as doled out.  The culture does everything it can to build in the masses a literal desire to become the object of subjugation.  The culture builds the consumer, the economic striver, the assimilated, the self objectifying and historically ignorant players in the sham theater of the American Dream.  The spirit of American individualism, is a meme that functions like self replicating DNA imbued with a myth of self reliance that actually perpetuates a type of isolation that enables the ruling class to keeps us at odds with each other and never see behind the curtain and notice that our strings a being pulled.

Women who have been victims of rape and domestic violence and other predations are bullied into silence by shame and fear.  And what is pernicious is that no one had to tell them to feel shame and fear, they had already internalized a world view from the culture that surrounds them.  Maybe with thoughts like ‘I must of have done something to provoke this behavior’, or ‘If I say something I will look like bad’, or ‘I better not say anything or I won’t be able to work in my profession’, or ‘it will be my word against his’.

Men have also bought into a prevailing cultural set of norms, some are unwitting hegemonists, some have simply adopted frat boy personae and behaviors that they think make them part of the club.  Sadly, they aren’t thinking.  There is some degree to which racism is similar.  It doesn’t take more than a cursory review of the news, recent history or moral circumspection to come to the conclusion that institutional racism is a fact in America.  Human dignity and equality should be a given and it is not.  Any view that I am better than anyone else or have right to have my way (socially, economically, sexually, politically) as a result of my gender, race, nationality, wealth, religion etc. is retrograde and ridiculous.

Finally, and I hope you read to this point, as a white man, I know I have adopted some of the mind set that comes with privilege.  I have been in the workforce for forty years and on the planet for almost sixty.  I am sure I have done and said things that were sexist, racist and inappropriate.  I hope it never rose to the level of harassment but I am sure at the very least it has been insensitive or worse.  For that I ask your forgiveness.

This is not ironic!

Advertisements

PLATFORM FOR HUMANITY

August 5, 2017

Individual responsibilty and communal tolerance and accountability.  The recognition that in the hyper mobile and multi-cultural world in which we live the only path to peace, safety and quality of life is that I will respect you, even if I disagree and firmly require that your right to free speech, thought, belief, practice and control of your own body and choices are inviolable.

White Christian Eurpoeans and you far flung descendants including the American Ruling Class: Your five hundred years of colonialism, imperialism, missionary practices were wrong and based on a false premise of your own superiority.  You are not better than the indigeounous peoples you enslaved and/or subjugated all over the world.  You destroyed cultures that predated you for centuries and millenia.  It is time for you to apolgize and end your belief that you are bringing enlightenment and progess.  It is true that you have been a source of innovation in thought and technoogy, in democracy and that the centralization of wealth, most of it stolen, made your region a source of modernization.  Once you acknowledge the damage caused to others and truly apologize, there will be a chance to move forward together.

Tolerate the religious views of others.  If we are going to hell that’s our problem.  Teach if we ask otherwise leave us alone.  Read your own books.  They say god is love.  By the way Jesus looked and sounded more like Omar Sharif than Peter O’Toole.

All other people of the world.  you have legitimate greviences in your historical narrative but now you have to determine how to live in the present and the future.  The path to peace and properity for you and your people include the rule of law.  Respect for the rights of all people regardless of race, color, gender, ability, religion, orientation, presentation, attitude, appearance, odor, political or futbol club preference to the free exercise of their liberty and self determination.

Arabs:  When the west was in darkest days of the middle ages, your vibrant culture was a beacon of light in this world. Arithmetic, architecture, music poetry flouished in an atmosphere of acceptance and multi culturalism.  If you are muslim, take your religion back from the illiterate fanatics that have narrowed the teacheings of the prophet Mohammed down to slogans and hatred.  Read your own books.  They say God is love. Every child must be educated in a broad and global perspective.  Their talents and interests must be cultivated.  It may take a village to raise them, but not a closed off parochial village of xenophobes.

There is no right of return, there is no lack of resources.  Yeast can be trained to make medicine instead of beer.  We have no reason to fight over land or food or oil.  Scarcity is a lie told by Malthus that does not apply to post industrial world of nano tech, renewable energy and economic creativity in this world.

There is a place for markets but all markets have to be regulated so as to truly be the domain of willing participants.  Hard work and innovation deserve reward but unffettered opportunism and greed are as distructive to productivity as laziness.

Prick and Mortar

August 5, 2017

Amazon is opening book stores. Real brick and mortar books stores in your neighborhood. What kind of cosmic short term memory loss does it take for an Amazon executive to be walking down Main Street and say to themselves ‘gee you know what this town needs? A place you can walk in, browse through books on the shelves and if you want buy one, take it home and read it? There’s a business niche that needs to be filled. Why aren’t there any bookstores around anymore?’ Now that’s ironic.

Imagine Peace

August 12, 2015

“The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar Left, and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be against the war or black. But by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuiana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”

—John Ehrlichman, Nixon counsel and assistant, in a 1992 interview

Got this quote off the Doonesbury page on the Washington Post.

The genius premise of the Nixocrats was to wage war on imaginary enemies at home so they could keep waging war on imaginary enemies abroad.

Sound familiar.  We conjure imaginary enemies all the time.

We devalue the humanity of entire segments of the population.

We lock up our crazies, visionaries, peace makers.

Black Lives Matter

Hippie Lives Matter

Vietnamese Lives Matter

It’s true that all lives matter, but when some can use the apparatus of power and media to dehumanize, marginalize and systemically de-value the lives of a group they have deemed an enemy in their own imaginations, a distinction has to be made.

We have to admit that a silent war has been waged in this county.  We have such vivid imaginations, why can’t we imagine peace.  Now that’s ironic.

Chews for Jews

February 24, 2015

http://nypost.com/2015/02/24/company-aims-to-sell-kosher-marijuana-in-new-york/
‘blessed art thou o lord our god, who sanctified us with your commandments and instructed us on the eating of the herb’
Just in time for Passover.
Now that’s ironic.

Pariah – Absolutely
Pig – Consummate
Deviation from the Norm – Unfortunately not

What pains me most about the ignorant, racist hate speech of LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling is that it’s being treated like an aberration.  The problem is that although, in 2014, his retrograde ignorance is in the minority opinion, it isn’t that small a minority.  The fact that the Supreme Court just rolled back decades of progress by enforcing the Michigan ban on affirmative action is evidence that the work of changing the mindset of our populace is far from over.

Here is a well written opinion on the subject

I would also like to see the discussion framed from the point of view that rich, white men still think they are free to exploit whoever, whenever and however.  Treat players/employees like they are property, check.  Treat women like they are property, check.  I’ve heard the term plantation mentality attributed to Sterling.  I think it is something deeper.  There is a segment of our nation that still believes it is operating above the rest of us.  They believe they are somehow better and can act with impunity.  In doing so, they prove themselves to be the opposite and that’s ironic.

 

Mental Ecology | The Practice of Productivity.

This is a cross post from another blog I write on business and productivity.  Today’s topic kind of overlaps the areas of social commentary so I wanted to share in this space as well.

Have a look via the link above.

Quoting myself is not ironic.

Status Consciousness

April 14, 2013

I frequently overhear teens and millennials talking about status. They constantly change theirs. When they hear a funny quote or take a phone photo of their dirty chai latte. Their impulse is a new type of status consciousness.

For them status is not something to be attained and then maintained. It is mutable. Also it reflects their opinion of themselves and is generally not derived from others’ opinions of them.  Social media enables tagging everything, including our own sense of self.

For the generations before them (myself included) status was based on what we owned, where we worked, our graduate degree.  Something more permanent.  It was granted after effort and no matter how hard we tried, we could not confer it upon ourselves.  It was to be earned and guarded with your lives.  Even if that meant stepping on our co-workers or friends.

Seems like it works better now.  That’s ironic.

Orange for Passover

March 28, 2013

Folks have been turning their Facebook pages red in solidarity with the GLBT community and particularly to support gay marriage this week as the Supremes hear oral arguments on two key cases before them.

At this time of Passover, I think we should go Orange as we have on the Seder Plate.  Here is the origin (pun intended):

The Origin of the Orange on the Seder Plate
In the early 1980s, the Hillel Foundation invited me to speak
on a panel at Oberlin College. While on campus, I came
across a Haggada that had been written by some Oberlin
students to express feminist concerns. One ritual they devised
was placing a crust of bread on the Seder plate, as a sign of
solidarity with Jewish lesbians (“there’s as much room for a
lesbian in Judaism as there is for a crust of bread on the Seder
plate”).
At the next Passover, I placed an orange on our family’s Seder
plate. During the first part of the Seder, I asked everyone to
take a segment of the orange, make the blessing over fruit,
and eat it as a gesture of solidarity with Jewish lesbians and
gay men, and others who are marginalized within the Jewish
community (I mentioned widows in particular).
Bread on the Seder plate brings an end to Pesach – it renders
everything chometz. And its symbolism suggests that being
lesbian is being transgressive, violating Judaism. I felt that an
orange was suggestive of something else: the fruitfulness for
all Jews when lesbians and gay men are contributing and
active members of Jewish life. In addition, each orange
segment had a few seeds that had to be spit out – a gesture of
spitting out, repudiating the homophobia that poisons too
many Jews.
When lecturing, I often mentioned my custom as one of many
new feminist rituals that had been developed in the last
twenty years. Somehow, though, the typical patriarchal
maneuver occurred: My idea of an orange and my intention of
affirming lesbians and gay men were transformed. Now the
story circulates that a MAN stood up after I lecture I
delivered and said to me, in anger, that a woman belongs on
the bimah as much as an orange on the Seder plate. My idea,
a woman’s words, are attributed to a man, and the affirmation
of lesbians and gay men is simply erased. Isn’t that precisely
what’s happened over the centuries to women’s ideas?

—Susannah Heschel, April, 2001 Eli Black Professor of Jewish Studies Dartmouth College

I’m changing my Facebook profile photo to an Orange.  Now that’s Iconic.

No iStone unturned

January 4, 2013

There is a commercial running for Verizon FIOS that essentially claimed that in the next few years the number of devices connected to the Internet in my home will double. Hard to understand how this is possible. Right now my wife and I have two smartphones, two iPads, two iPods, a Mac desktop, AppleTV, a SONOS music router. When any of our four daughters visit you can add three devises per (phone, pod and either a laptop or other similar). So if one is home we are a household total of 12 connected devices.

What could we possibly add?

An iThrone – Apples’s new 4G toilet

iFood – A networked refrigerator that scans bar odes of the contents of the fridge and orders from Fresh Direct when we slip below minimum stock levels of smoked turkey, half and half or apples.

iClean – a networked robot vacuum that lets me see dust bunnies in realtime

iPet – a wifi collar that lets you talk to your cat from anywhere anytime. If you have the iPet and iClean you can have extra fun stalking your pet with your robot and watching the fun with FaceTime on your iBook that’s always on anyway and sitting open on your coffee table via your iPhone

iPud – an Internet enable dildo streaming to your WordPress blog. Now that would be ironic.

20130104-150125.jpg