Been Busy With Some Commentary at Contemptor.com

Found a place where I can take some of my musings and snarky commentary:  Contemptor.com.

Yesterday’s submission had to do with drones.  Yes, I have a few issues with them.   Click on the word  drones” and you’ll get to the piece.

Today I submitted commentary on the black athletes’ refusal to practice or play until University of Missouri System President Tim Wolfe resigned.  He did.  So what do we do with all the continued racial unrest on university campuses?  Demand that university officials fix it?    Well, that’s one idea.

As I write in “Administrators Can’t Fix The Problems That Plague MIZZOU,” there’s more to be done than just make demands.

Other commentary includes pieces on:

consensual sex    “Yes, no, maybe.  A Young Man’s Pass to Consensual Sex”

Donald Trump    “Our Winer on the Roof Needs a New Song”

Donald Trump    “Not Morally Obligated, Donald?”

Presidential Elections   “Presidential Elections Take Too Damn Long”

Hilary Clinton     “Good Move, Hillary!    Clinton Takes On Drug Companies And Their Outrageous Prices”

Pope Francis: The Papa So Many Seem to Need

I’ve been rather transfixed watching news coverage of Pope Francis’ visit to the U.S.  I see people in the crowds calling out to “Papa.”  And isn’t it wonderful that he speaks so bluntly and truthfully to Congress and at other gatherings…just like a papa.  When I watch him I find myself smiling and my eyes becoming moist.

With so much of the world in chaos and so much human suffering, who is a papa we can turn to?  Pope Francis? the Dalai Lama?

Hopefully there are millions of unknown papas….rabbis, pastors, imams, priests, dads, grandfathers, tribal elders…who also speak of and live lives of decency, simplicity, and compassion.

Holding on to Hope for the World’s Refugee Crisis

Like others around the world, I see images of refugees fleeing Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and other countries and I feel a profound feeling of loss.  I can’t help but wonder what is happening to our humanity.   We keep tearing each other apart because of our differences, and as a result, we have waves of human migration we are unprepared to handle.

nytimes.com
nytimes.com

Have we not seen photos like this many times before?  Have we not read about such migrations for hundreds of years?  Have we not yet become sick of wars based on religious, cultural, class, and political differences?

I don’t have any solutions.  Like others I watch, read, listen and wring my hands.  If one is a refugee, how does one persevere?  If one lives in a country where refugees are passing through or where they aspire to live, how does one find the resources to deal with so many people?  How are needed logistics worked out to house, feed, clothe, employ, and educate these masses?  How will people shield their hearts against resentment to help foreigners, when in fact there are the homeless and lost within so many of our own neighborhoods?

And I am not so naive to think that this just happened because things are crappy “over there.”  Things are crappy over there because U.S. political and military “invasions” added fire to a region gripped with religious, cultural, and political differences for centuries.  So we go in, make some messes, and we leave.  Sort of.

(AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
(AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

These refugees have suffered an incredible loss of homes, schools, communities, and personal dignity.  They are scavenging now for shreds of humanity.  My heart goes out to them all, and to those preparing to assist as many as they can.

I have to believe that in general we are a pretty decent species.  Most of us try.  Most of us hold in our hearts a sense of compassion taught by our families, our communities, and our various religions.

There are so many logistics needed to deal with this human tragedy, but I believe an important logistic is hope.  We cannot say, “We can’t.”   We must say, “We will.”  We have to…for the future civility of humanity…for the children who look at the cameras and show us what hope looks like.

  (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Beauty Ads for the Gullible and Less Than Perfect

The other night I was relaxing in the recliner with a copy of the September 2015 issue of Better Homes and Gardens…the “stylemaker” issue… and the June 2015 issue of Southern Living. Every now and then it’s fun to look through such publications to learn about the newest trends, and to check out recipes. I don’t know what it was about that evening, but suddenly some of the copy I saw in the ads started sounding ridiculous.
Honestly, I could not believe some of the advertising crap lathered throughout these publications. Sometimes I laughed out loud. At other times I cringed, thinking, “Who believes this baloney?”

Take, for example, a full page ad from DEVELOPLUS for their ANTI-AGING HAIR Treatment System. It’s a three jar system that “Fights Hair Loss” “Stimulates Growth” “Battles Graying” Adds Vibrance.” Note the use of the word “vibrance, not “vibrancy” the real noun. Oh well, why quibble? “Vibrance is easier to remember because it’s only two syllables.

But “Battles Graying”? How?  I thought the remedy to graying hair had something to do with a rinse or a tint or a dye. And “battles” graying. Wow. Such a macho verb. Bet plenty of damsels were persuaded by that definitive phrase and ran right over to Walgreens to make a purchase.

Then there was another full page ad for one of Secret’s products. I say “one of” because years ago (okay, decades) there was Secret deodorant. Maybe it included an antiperspirant also; I don’t remember, but that was it. Now Secret and other brands of personal care products create so many versions of their products, it doubles or triples shopping time. Do I want the lavender scent so I’ll be relaxed all day, or do I want the fresh sport scent so I can feel like a cheerleader? Should I go for paraben free or should I be more concerned about shine enhancement? Better choose a version that goes on clear because I don’t want any telltale white smudges telling the world that I used something under my arms.

But I digress. This product is called Secret Clinical Strength Invisible Solid. Well, what IS it? To find out, one must read the ad. It tells me that my body changes 500+ times a day. “Your deodorant should keep up.” Oh…it’s a deodorant! Who knew? Nothing on the product says “deodorant.” And at the bottom of the page we are reminded that “Body changes can cause odor.” (Oh, jeez…something else we need to obsess about 24/7??) “So keep up with whatever the day throws your way with Secret Clinical Strength’s Adapts&Responds Technology.” Fearlessness. Apply Daily.” Oh, what a relief. This has “adapts&responds technology.” Why not? It’s 2015. We’re all adapting and responding like crazy to every new technological gadget out there. Good thing it’s fearless, because some days I am not.

And then there’s mascara, one of my personal stables. A Merle Norman ad in the June 2015 issue of Southern Living introduces a mascara primer. A primer for mascara? You betcha! These days there’s a primer for foundation, for eye shadow, and now for mascara. But what made me roll my eyes was the ad copy: “Like an UNDERWIRE for lashes…mascara primer Lifts and supports for longer, fuller lashes” placed strategically in the cleavage area of a bright pink push up bra. Must we start comparing our lashes to our sagging boobs? C’mon.

Fortunately, one can find less dramatic wordage in ads for most of the other commodities we purchase: furniture, toothpaste, cereal, paint, dog food, cat litter, appliances, wine and other necessities of life. But the lure is out there for those of us feeling less than perfect about our skin and hair. So many personal care products now include vitamins, A to Z, take your pick…oils from any living plant, tree, or bush that can produce an oil…salts, from the sea to the Himalayas, and other minerals…beeswax…plus infused this and purified that. For example:

Sea Mineral Infusion for Hair by Suave Professionals (shampoo, conditioner, and texturizing spray)…oh, it’s an infusion, which has to be tons better than a regular stuff.

Kiehl’s Iris Extract Activating Treatment Essence (applied after cleansers and before serums)…of course… a treatment essence is lighter than a foam, cream or gel, right?

Estee Lauder’s Nutritious Vitality & Radiant Dual-Phase Emulsion…ah, an emulsion now, and a dual-phase one at that. Thank God they didn’t try to pass along the single-phase version to some of us gullible gals.

There you have it: infusion, essence, emulsion. It all sounds so much sexier, doesn’t it? So much richer. So much more worth the splurge. And yes, we’re worth it, remember?

TRUMP…A BULLY?? SERIOUSLY???

Thank you, Jesus! I finally heard Donald Trump referred to as a bully on national TV…by a Republican political consultant.

A deep bow of gratitude to Mindy Finn, who was interviewed yesterday as television news analysts continued the entertaining babble that consumes the media about “The Summer of Trump” and his appeal to so many Americans. She actually called him a bully, and my head is spinning as to why I haven’t heard this term used to describe him sooner…much, much sooner…like the day he announced his candidacy.

Not only did Finn call Trump a bully, she referred to him as “dangerous,”….”like an abusive boyfriend” as she talked about people being attracted his outsider image. In summary, she said the trend was “troubling.”

Troubling, indeed. I’m not a political junkie, and overall, I’m ignorant about American politics. I was dreading the months and months of political posturing, media analysis, and television ads prior to the 2016 presidential election. This year it’s different, thanks to The Bully. Admittedly, I sit open mouthed watching the brashness of his bully personality and his rants filled with exaggerated venom.

I keep asking myself, could this be the Republican nominee for President of the United States? Is that even possible? And then in my fantasy world, The Bully goes on “Meet the Press” and at the end of the broadcast he says, “Just kidding. I’m not really running for president,” and he walks off the set. Yeah…in my dreams.

Meanwhile, I’m keeping my options open, just like I did when Sarah Palin was the vice presidential candidate and I had nightmares about John McCain being elected and then dying of a heart attack and Palin taking the oath of office to lead our country. I was ready to defect…to jump ship and beg Canadian officials to take in this grandma refugee. I was pretty sure I could get a job busing tables somewhere.

If, by some weird twist in the universe of absurd American politics, The Bully ends up being the Republican nominee for President of the United States, I’m going online to google “friendly, fairly democratic country for low income elderly speakers of English. ”

But that ain’t gonna happen. Right? Right?

Oreo Thins Are Here!!!

During my whole life, there have been only two cookies I craved: Toll House chocolate chip cookies made by my mom and Oreos. Over the years, the Toll House cookies have never changed unless a baker decided to fiddle with the classic recipe on her/his own. However, I’ve seen Oreos introduced in various costumes…double-stuffed, mint, Halloween orange, vanilla wafer…and who knows what else. I stopped trying to keep track because my love affair with Oreos has been and will always be with the original. Until now, maybe.

The other day I saw a display of Oreo Thins and my heart skipped a beat. I stood transfixed at the display, but I resisted reaching out and grabbing five packages. My 89-year-old mother was with me, and she would never understand an obsession with a manufactured cookie.

What can I say? There is something about the chocolate wafer of an Oreo that sets my taste buds flashing. It’s probably some hideous chemical that would eventually rot my brain if I ate too many, but I admit to an Oreo binge from time to time over the years. Some folks love the cream center, but I’ve always loved the wafer…the deep chocolate flavor that melts in my mouth after dunking the disk in cold milk.

I rarely buy them because I have no discipline. Once the package is open, it doesn’t last long. Six hours tops. It’s great if I have someone with whom I can gorge on the Oreos, but that’s rare. It used to be a grandchild until we learned that she has an allergy to wheat. Friends my age seem to have outgrown the lure. But not me.

Now we have Oreo Thins and I am delighted. Thinner is better. Less cream and more chocolate wafer taste. I’ll have to plan my first purchase carefully to make sure I have some other Oreo fans with me to share the latest version of an American favorite. I’m too old to handle Oreo binges by myself anymore.

Psssst! Black Lives Matter: Organize Some Town Hall Meetings

Okay…momentum for the Black Lives Matters movement is picking up. Media coverage is at the ready. Profiles of the movement’s leaders have been featured on NPR and other venues, and most candidates seem a bit unsure of how to respond. This is probably typical of various movements over the centuries.

Recently I read that some candidates’ campaign stops have been interrupted by members of the BLM movement. Hillary apparently granted 15 minutes for a private discussion with movement members, but what will 15 minutes get you? Personally, I’m not convinced interrupting campaign speeches is useful or constructive. Sure, the media is there to cover the point and show the urgency, but how does the rest of adult society view such behavior? What are such interruptions supposed to achieve…in the long run?

Now, the private meeting with Hilary is perhaps a step in the right direction, but let’s face it. It was nothing but a crumb offering. My unsolicited and admittedly white, Midwestern proposal is this: Organize some town hall meetings and invite candidates and the media. Why? Because real communication has to be taking place, not interruptions. It is doable. It is necessary.

Many societal issues are tied into the Black Lives Matter movement, issues that need examination and discussion by citizens and candidates alike. So how do we find out how candidates stand on the issues raised by the BLM movement? Ask them. Publicly. Civilly.

I’ve been playing with such a scenario in my mind for a few days, and here’s a DRAFT proposal of what might be done. It’s just a draft…but it’s a start. Maybe what actually happens can be completely different; meanwhile, I offer these seeds for thought:
1. The leaders of Black Lives Matter work within the organization to come up with 5-7 key questions they want all candidates to address.

2. The organization finds appropriate venues along the routes candidates will be traveling and invites each candidate to a 90-minute town hall meeting.

3. Candidates are given the key questions at the time they receive the invitations.

4. The invitations should be in writing and delivered certified mail. A limited number of print, radio, and TV reporters should also be invited.

5. The venue should be relatively small and personal: a local school, community center, or church.

6. Each town hall meeting should be no longer than 90 minutes. During that time, candidates can take no longer than 60 minutes to speak on the key questions. At least 30 minutes must be saved for additional questions from the audience. Members of the audience called on to ask their questions will approach a special podium with a microphone to ask their questions.

7. The number of audience members should be limited to a couple hundred. Maybe a free lottery ticket system can help decide who gets to attend. The rest of us can watch or listen via media coverage.

So what would town hall meetings with each participating candidate accomplish? Better communication. Better understanding of the main issues of concern to those of us who support the movement. An interesting look at how various politicians spin their responses. A better look at how they present themselves and what they say when asked questions from the audience. A venue by which all the world can observe what was asked, what was said, how it was said, and how it was received.

Recently I heard someone interviewed on the radio. This person said that if candidates don’t address the issues of importance to black voters, then black voters just won’t vote. Oy! Really?? Please don’t go that route. Instead, make it happen. Create a way in which candidates can respond to issues of importance of black voters…because, truly, those issues are important to all Americans. If candidates refuse the invitation, fine. They’ll be the ones losing the respect of the American people and their votes. Move forward with the candidates who do welcome an opportunity to respond to the key questions of concern to millions. And perhaps among the bunch, you’ll find someone worthy of your vote.

The U.S. Is Spying? Really??

One news item on NPR this morning was about the U.S. spying on Japan and how Japanese officials had not yet responded.  I find it difficult to consider this particularly new news.  I mean, isn’t everybody spying on everybody else?  At least that’s my impression of life on this planet now that we’re all blanketed by cyberspace and connected in enough ways to endanger our mental health, physical health, and our ability to carry on a normal conversation using voices, not texts or tweets.

What the hell.  I’m just an aging boomer who really doesn’t care who’s spying on whom.  To me it’s just a given.  There is no more privacy.  It bothered me at first, but then I thought, “So what,” which I’m sure raises the ire of millions who want to protect their freedoms and privacy, but I no longer care.

I figure that I’m being watched all the time, so I just better get used to it.  Not that I’m a person of any particular interest, like a potential terrorist or identify thief.  Nope.  I’m just your average online shopper, online news headline skimmer and online dating alum.  I’m drifting toward Planet Elderly, so  I’m not going to waste my remaining days/months/years on this big blue marble worrying about who knows where I eat, what I buy, what movies and television shows I watch, my preferred music genres, who I argue with, my email conversations or my Facebook shares, likes, and comments.  None of it.

If the spying cyber powers that be choose to witness the agony of my next colonoscopy prep, so be it.  I could care less.  If traffic cameras record me as I lip sync to Barbra Streisand with wild abandon, fine.  If the cameras in stores want to watch my every move, I feel sorry for anyone watching me try on bathing suits.  It ain’t a pretty sight.  Should such video footage find its way onto YouTube without my permission, I’ll sue and become rich.  And I really don’t care if anyone has access to any phone numbers I’ve called in all my 68 years.

I am content giving up privacy because I want the powers and principalities to have ways to identify predators, thieves, rapists, potential terrorists, drug dealers, incompetent teachers, abusive babysitters and nannies, police behaving illegally, politicians behaving badly, religious leaders living lies, people not picking up dog poop…all of it.  I know, I know.  So many unsavory types can also spy on everyone.  That’s unfortunate, but that’s reality.

The U.S. has been spying on Japan.  Does anyone think Japan has not been spying on the U.S.?  Please.  What country isn’t spying?  It’s a simple question.  I’m just curious.  And I still don’t care.

 

The Donald Is Leading in the Polls

Like so many others, I’m a bit mystified. Donald Trump is leading in the Republican polls? Really??

News analysts explain why and I say to myself, “Well…okay…but do these Americans real want this entity to be President of the United States? For real?” Apparently plenty do.

I don’t know about anyone else, but the idea of Trump hobnobbing with heads of state from around the world is a little scary. Yeah, Trump is loud and abrasive, but not only that, look at his nonverbals. Oy!  All that gesturing…arms flying here and there…shoulders doing push-ups…hands twisting in the air…pursed lips punctuating his proclamations…eyes changing from beady slits to marbles, eyebrows wriggling up and down uncontrollably. And he thinks the leaders of the world will take him seriously? Well, we all have dreams.

Trump is a wealthy entrepreneur, right? If you’re gonna be one of those, you can’t be a wimp. No steadied rhetoric, measured pauses, meaningful glances for him. This billionaire candidate subscribes to the Bully Strategy. Why not? It’s been working for centuries around the world, and many Americans are raising their beers, waiving their guns, and shouting, “Hell, yeah, man! Way to go!”

Trump is not to be ignored…just like a train wreck is not to be ignored. Personally, I can hardly wait for the first Republican debate. Talk about entertainment. I’m stocking up: wine, cheese, crackers, wine, hummus, falafel chips, wine, carrot sticks, olives, wine and a cheeseburger aptly nicknamed “The Don.”

I’m sure the debate will be informative. I’m sure millions of Americans who have never watched a presidential debate will tune in. I hope so. This is not to be missed.

They Say Black Lives Matter

I recently listened to the co-founders of Black Lives Matter interviewed on NPR. I was just driving around town while listening, and I understand there is some controversy. Some people suggest that not only do black lives matter, but all lives matter.

Of course, all lives matter, but aren’t at least some non-black folks appalled at our current state of affairs? The insidious profiling that goes on in far too many American communities needs to stop. If I were the mother of a young black man, I’d be terrified. Our society is sick…very, very ill.

I read about the grim statistics for blacks when it comes to poverty, lack of educational opportunities, police-on-black brutality, black-on-black murder rates, incarceration rates, in-store security targeting blacks, banking inequality when it comes to blacks, landlord racism when it comes to blacks, and on and on … and on.

My head spins with anger and frustration at what I’m reading and watching these days. I vividly remember television news in the 60s recording the history of all the civil rights activities going on. And this is how far we’ve progressed in over 50 years? Shame on us.

Shame on us as a nation. Shame on us as Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Muslims, Atheists, Agnostics, Pagans, and whatevers. Shame on us as teachers, administrators, directors, business owners, CEOs, managers, doctors, lawyers, artists, entertainers, musicians, mothers, fathers, grandparents, civil servants, elected officials, and all the rest.

We have not done enough. We have failed. To have all these years pass and so much racism, mistrust, and hatred still seeping through our societal veins is just plain wrong. It needs to end.

So start with yourself. Person by person. One by one. Untie whatever shackles of your own you wear and let them go. The next time you pass someone who is a different color, say hello. Give her a smile. Tell him you like his shirt. Make eye contact. Let souls embrace.

The morning after the church shooting in South Carolina I had to take a long drive to visit my elderly parents. Everything on the radio dealt with the unspeakable shootings. I felt heartbroken…so very heartbroken for our society. I just wanted to reach out and say to someone…”I’m so very, very sorry. What can we do? What can we do?”

I stopped to fill up with gas and as I walked back to my car I saw two young black women get out of theirs. I walked up to them and said, “I need a hug.” They did not hesitate.

Yes. Black lives matter, especially black lives. Given the history of our country and the ills of our current society, black lives matter very, very much.

Please be kind. Please be gentle with one another. Please respect each other. Please teach each other. Please share with each other. Please lift up each other. Please cherish the finite time you have on this planet and teach your children to live it with grace and peace and love.