Thursday, January 19, 2017

It's All About Justice

The prayer that unites all Druids has lines about justice, the knowledge of justice, and the love of justice. How can a species be endowed with an understanding of justice and then just disregard it?

When a handful of families control more wealth than all the rest of the people on the planet, this is injustice. They can use any tool to divide the rest of us, to have us quarreling on any number of issues, to encourage us to form tribes based on birth, location, ideology. While we fight and die, they watch.

If our species engaged in egalitarianism, with level heads and warm hearts, we would soon set this planet right. We would have respect for animals, plants, the soil, the water, and our population growth. Employers would pay workers a living wage, and the bosses would live modestly themselves. Respect and camaraderie would rule, and justice would follow.

This cannot be achieved by coercion (it's been tried), which is why I despair for our species.

All the same, I will march for justice.  This is the sign I will carry to the Women's March on Washington.
The last resort for the few at the top is to abolish group efforts toward seeking living wages and respectful treatment. People living in fear can be controlled. The end game for the billionaires is control. They are truly supervillains.

So, while I feel that destruction of the environment is the most pressing issue facing the human race at this time, I am moved to speak for justice. For collective bargaining, a process that helps anyone within its gates -- Black, White, Muslim, Pagan, man, woman, child.

It's 5:00 and I've been awake two hours. I'm frankly scared about the march. But I will go anyway. This is my last post before I leave, so if you have an extra moment or two over the next few days, I beg you to watch this wonderful scene from the film "Matewan," by John Sayles. It perfectly articulates my philosophy, and it's why I'm carrying my union sign.

Peace to you all,

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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Why I'm Marching #4: Cosplay Time!

You know what I love but have never been able to do? Cosplay.

I can't sew. My hair is thick and unruly. And -- probably the biggest reason I've never done cosplay -- I don't interact with anime. At all.

Nevertheless, I do have a screen character that I have idolized for most of my adult life. I have loved the actress and the role so much that the opportunity to attempt a cosplay of this character is too good to pass up.

I've been reading everything on the Internet about the Women's March on Washington, and don't ask me why, but the organizers really want us to bring signs.

I gave the sign a lot of thought, since I'm a teacher and I know my way around those punch-out alphabet letters you get for bulletin boards. What in the world could I put on my sign that would simply and totally express my deepest wishes for this nation?

And then it came to me. I will cosplay.

I've got my piece of white cardboard. I've got a black marker. This, this is my sign.

Now, to really cosplay this properly, I would need the sleeveless t-shirt, white high-rise jeans, orange ear buds, and whatever that is around her waist. But I do think the sign says it all for this character.

And for me, too.

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Monday, January 16, 2017

Why I'm Marching #5: Because Spiders Bite

I know someone, a single person, who lives on $12,000 a year. Sometimes a little more, sometimes a little less. This person has a college degree and $30,000 in student loan debt.

But other than that pesky federal debt, this person I know makes ends meet on $12,000 a year. It is possible to do this if you are single, share living space in certain urban neighborhoods, don't own a car or a smart phone, and you have a keen eye for trash picking.

The biggest problem for a person like this is the catastrophic health issue. So verily, the Affordable Healthcare Act is a Gods-send.

This person I know got bit on the hand by a smallish spider. It wasn't a black widow or a brown recluse. Let's just call it the Itsy Bitsy Spider.

After 24 hours, the Itsy Bitsy spider bite was a small red pimple. Another day later, it was bigger, redder, and tender to the touch.

At that development, the person was persuaded to go to urgent care and get the spider bite checked out.

The doctor prescribed a pretty strong round of antibiotics for the spider bite. Itsy Bitsy Spiders, while not necessarily venomous, can leave some weird bacteria behind when they bite. It's this kind of thing, the doctor said, that needs to be caught early.

My dear friend recovered from her spider bite without incident.

Let's imagine, though, that my friend had no health insurance. Even that initial visit to the doctor would run $100. Then the antibiotic, depending on what kind it was, might be another $100. So it would be very, very easy to ignore an insignificant little spider bite, even after a week when it got larger. It might even be worrisome but not actionable when the bite got really large and the whole hand started to swell. After all, a swollen hand would cost more to treat than a little pimple, so the price tag gets larger.

A person with a spider bite could wind up with a grossly swollen hand and arm, and a fever. Treatment might or might not be successful. It could include amputation. It could end in tragedy, if the victim let it go long enough.

Friends, I can tell you that, in the population of students I teach, there are many stories of grandmas and grandpas (usually in their 40's or 50's) who went untreated for treatable illnesses and then died young. This is shameful for a First World country! Absolutely shameful! Talk about right to life! Despicable.

I am going to Washington, DC. I will be marching for single-payer health care that is affordable for everyone. No one should prosper from the sickness of others, except the people who actively help them to get well. Hospitals and medicines should not be a business!

It's a little less than a week until the march. If you want me to carry an intention for you, leave it in the comments box. I will write or copy out all the intentions and put them in my pockets, so that your concerns will go with me to the march. Once more unto the breach.

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Thursday, January 12, 2017

Why I'm Marching #3: It Wasn't That Great

I'm a woman of a certain age. Must admit, past my prime. It's all good, though. With age comes wisdom. With age also comes ... age. I've been around the track a few times. Heck, I can even remember when America was "great!"

Here's a little story about that time.

I grew up in that part of the world where Maryland, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania are all three only a few miles apart. It's pretty rural out there, and in the 1960's it was definitely a place where people over-respected the Confederacy.

It must have been 1964 or 1965 when the nearest large municipality to my house, Hagerstown, Maryland, was ordered to open the large municipal pool to Black people.

In those days, all the Black people in Hagerstown lived in one neighborhood. That neighborhood had its own "separate but equal" pool. But it wasn't exactly equal. It wasn't even near equal. It was so far from equal you would have had to use a homing pigeon to find equal on the map.

I was a little kid, but I remember the moms in my neighborhood, swearing that they would not take their children to the municipal pool to swim with those "dirty n*****s." Yes, that is exactly what I heard. Middle class White ladies actually thought Black children were literally dirtier than their own kids. Full of diseases and who knew what?

My mother rounded me and my cousin up. She gave us each a quarter. She said, "I'm going to drive you to the pool. And guess what? It won't be nearly as crowded today as it usually is! You'll have a great time!"

Off we went to the pool, which opened at noon. There was always a line of kids waiting to get into the pool the moment it opened on a hot summer day. Sure enough, there was a line that day, too -- almost all Black kids.

I lived in a segregated world. I had never been near a Black person before. (My elementary school principal retired when she heard that "her" school would admit Black students. That was after my time.)

My cousin and I took our place in line, and it was somewhat awkward on everyone's part. But once we got into the pool, lo and behold, Mom was right! There was way more room than usual. No lines at the sliding boards or anything!

You would think that the moral of this story is going to be about equality. And you would be right. There was nothing, and I mean nothing great about America in the 1960's, if you were Black. This was a hostile nation then, bent upon keeping Black people at the rock bottom. I'll be damned if I call that a great time. It was an awful time.

But wait. There's more.

The Hagerstown Municipal Pool had three metal sliding boards with jets of water that shot out from the top, to make them more slippery. There were a few signs that said, "Do Not Go Down Head First" scattered here and there, and if a lifeguard saw you attempting head-first, you would get thrown out for the day. Nevertheless, three or four kids died of broken necks going down those slides. Another kid died falling off the top.

Government regulators shut down the Hagerstown Municipal Pool, I think around 1970, because of the metal slides. The pool did not re-open until it had been rehabbed and brought up to the strict codes of safety that should apply to public swimming pools.

Black Lives Matter. Government regulations matter. Want to see America become "great" again? Turn the clock back to 1962, and break your neck on a sliding board in a swimming pool full of White kids.

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Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Why I'm Marching #2: I'm Part of the Problem

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," clumping along with a too-large carbon footprint since the mid-20th century! I'm your host, Anne Johnson, wasteful and privileged American.

There have been so many studies done of climate change, using ice cores, tree rings, pond scum, temperature and rainfall data, glacial melt, sea level rise, unicorn extinction, and species migration, that a sensible person could not possibly doubt that the globe is warming.

(Yes, I know that unicorn extinction is unrelated to climate change, but shhhh! Maybe the deniers will believe it.)

Remember when we were kids, and our parents said, "Eat those carrots. There are children starving in China who would love to have those!" and we said, "Can't we just send the carrots to them?" Well, honestly, nothing has changed. My cats eat better than the vast majority of Third World humans. I'm sitting here in an oil-warmed house (okay, the thermostat is set at 60), with two cars in the driveway (okay, my commute is 9 miles round trip, and my husband works at home), getting ready to eat a pretty doggone good dinner, and my lifestyle is harming the planet.

Every Sunday there's another story in the New York Times about how climate change is affecting other parts of the world. And I weep for the poor families whose lands have gone to drought. But just like I can't mail my carrots to China, I can't reverse climate change on my own.

That's what we want the world governments to do.

Our government had made some strides over the last eight years (thanks, Obama!) but is now poised to renege on all the half-assed promises we've been able to make (#notmypresident). Instead of investing in alternate power sources, we are going to drill, baby, drill. Emboldened by our indifference, the other world powers will follow suit.

By the time America starts to fry, some other countries will be baked to death.

(It is good news for my Canadian readers. Go, therefore, and lead the free world!)

I am attending the Women's March in Washington to protest indifference to global climate change. I stand opposed to rollbacks in environmental protection, to increased use of fossil fuels, and to unbridled greed for finite natural resources.

Having studied my geology, I know that the Age of Humans will be a brief blip in the long and storied history of Gaia. Nothing we can do short of setting off every nuke simultaneously will be enough to destroy the planet thoroughly. (On the other hand, one burp from the Sun could crisp us instantly.)

It's not that it doesn't matter in the geological history of Earth. It's that it does matter in the human history of Earth. We are riding on this rock, and we should take better care of it. And that starts with laws and regulations curbing carbon-dioxide-producing chemicals.

I'm marching to protest indifference to global climate change. Once more unto the breach. Who's with me?

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Sunday, January 08, 2017

Frank Talk about Stripping

Wow! I had forgotten the many fun categories of post I used to write for this blog! One of my favorites is "frank talk." Way too often, people beat around the bush about things like stripping.

You might not believe this, but I'm a woman of a certain age, and I've never stripped before. I've painted, spackled, and even done light carpentry. Never stripped.

But you get to a time in life when everything must go. The old is dingy, and the new beckons. That's when stripping becomes not only preferable, but absolutely necessary.

I spent this whole weekend stripping. It was a rocky experience. I'm a novice, after all! You can't master these techniques overnight.

One of my downfalls was that I watched a ton of YouTube videos about stripping. Every one of them made it look hella easy. That paper was coming off in long, sweet swathes, and all the vloggers were either ruggedly sexy (men) or sassy and blonde (women). Both genders made stripping look like a stroll in the park.

It isn't.

I stripped for four hours on Saturday and three on Sunday. I worked up a sweat both days and got my arms soaking wet on Sunday. The only feedback I got from Mr. J was that perhaps I should try some chemicals from the basement.

Can't say I made much progress towards being a master stripper. However, some stripping was done, and my technique had improved a little bit by 5:00 on Sunday.

At the rate I'm learning, I'll be stripping for quite some time. Anyone who wants to help me, or even keep me company while I'm stripping, is welcome to contact me. As with so much in life, stripping is a lot more fun in the imagination than in real life, and it always looks better when the professionals do it.

Have you ever stripped? If so, can you give me tips?


Friday, January 06, 2017

Why I'm Marching #1: Production for Use

I thought I would give my reasons for marching in order of importance. I've changed my mind on that. There are so, so many reasons to brave freezing temperatures and a long day on flat feet in Washington, DC for a march against the Republican juggernaut. No use to front load all the big ones.

Here's a reason that I would put on the lower end of the "Why I'm Marching" scale -- probably because I live in a state with tough gun laws.

I'm sure you've heard the saying, "Guns don't kill people. People kill people."

Well, folks, I don't believe that. Here is a meme I had to make myself, because apparently no one else has thought of it:

What is a gun? It's a tool. What does this tool do? It shoots bullets. It has been produced to shoot bullets that can kill things.

Gun owners can spend their whole lives shooting tin cans off fence posts, but bottom line, the whole reason for gun production is to be able to kill another human being. You shoot at the tin can so your aim is good when the time comes to use your tool for its primary raison d'etre.

I call that "production for use."

President Obama called constantly for comprehensive background checks as a precursor to gun ownership. Candidates Clinton and Sanders were both anti-gun. Candidate Trump enthusiastically endorsed gun ownership.

A government run by Republicans will be very tolerant of rampant gun purchases with little to no oversight of the individuals purchasing the tools.

What is overlooked in the heated discussion on the free purchase of firearms is how profitable they are for the factory owners who make them. Each weapon costs a lot of money. Someone is making bank. And there are those who profit from the sale of ammunition and the rental of target practice facilities. Somewhere out there, a person is living large on the profits of these tools, while other people are mourning the deaths of loved ones when the tools were put to use. Don't ask me how these people can sleep at night. They must have "Guns Don't Kill People. People Kill People" written on their mirrors with shaving cream.

I will be marching on January 21, 2016 in Washington, DC because I believe that no individual who is not on active duty in the military should be allowed to own a semi-automatic weapon. This is my reading of the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution. Guns should only be in the hands of "a well-regulated militia."

I've written a lot about this, mostly after senseless shootings of unsuspecting, innocent Americans. Today was one of those days.

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