Travel Log: Venice – Grand Canal (3)

I took this photo in October 2011, when I had the good fortune of visiting this beautiful, but sinking, island before it is gone.  According to the BBC, both the rate at which Venice is sinking, combined with the threat of rising sea levels, the city has felt an 11-inch shift over the past century. This has resulted in Venice flooding ever more frequently – 100 floods in the past year alone – leading to further erosion of the city.  Most of the shift can be directly attributed to climate change (suck it, Republicans – the struggle is real!)

If there was any doubt that 45 is a giant hunk of shit, well….here’s your sign…

  • The POPE believes the science is settled
  • Exxon thinks we should keep the agreement (as do other large companies)
  • North Korea is on board. NORTH KOREA, y’all!
  • We are now one of three (yes, 3) countries not participating: Syria (they get a pass), Nicaragua (they thought it wasn’t tough enough), and the US (because the Cheeto-in-Chief is a racist, misogynistic twat who wants to undo anything Obama did – good, bad or indifferent – in hopes of erasing the fact that we elected a BLACK MAN as POTUS)

Guess what, Shitgibbon? You can’t erase it, because me, and all of the people like me, who voted for Obama know that we voted for President Blackenstein, and we know the truth. And the truth is this: you just sold our children’s future up the river with your little, vengeful temper tantrum, so you can take your “pro-life” stance and suck it. If you are truly pro-life, then you would want to protect the thing that houses all of it.

 

Thought for the Day: May the Lord Give them Peace

I haven’t sleep well this week.  I kept waking up in the night, thinking about the Edwards family.  That poor family.  Not just their family, but all Black families.  Saturday night, they lost their son to senseless gun violence.  They lost him to police violence.  They lost him because he was being a teenager while black.  Although I am not a religious person, the only thing that keeps running through my mind is the passage 6:24-6:26 from the New King James Version of the Bible:

“The LORD bless you and keep you;
the LORD make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.”

Anything that white people say, to somehow try to justify this murder, says more about their callous exercise of privilege than it does about black people, or how they live their lives.  Those who say things like, “he should have complied with the officer,” need to STFU because they are now part of the problem.  Providing any sort of just cause for killing a child just makes you sound like a complete asshole.

As a white woman, I am well aware of my privilege.  There are many examples of this in my daily life, but I’ll use driving to illustrate.  Driving while white means I have the luxury of deciding if I want to risk a ticket to run a red light, because I’m running late for work.  My black friends do not have this same latitude.  Their reality is such that if they were to be so bold as to do the same, they could end up dead…not from getting hit by another vehicle crossing the intersection, but from being shot by the responding police officer, who magically decides that they are somehow a “threat” and must be disposed of immediately.

As a white teenager, I remember attending many a parties thrown while friends’ parents were out of town.  And yes, there was underaged drinking, and other illicit activities, because we raided the parents’ liquor cabinet – duh.  As a white teenager, we were inspired by movies in which these types of parties were idolized, romanticized, and glorified as a rite of passage.  At times, the police were called due to noise complaints, and we scurried, just as Jordan Edwards, his brother, and two other boys decided to do on Saturday night.  When things are getting crazy, it’s time to go home – I have no doubt that was the first thing they were all thinking.

Never, in all of the times that police raided a party or a rave, that I attended, did I ever believe that an officer would shoot at me, or my friends, for running to our car and driving off.  Never, in all of those times when we did run to our car, did we ever heed the warning of that police officer to stop and stay where we were.  As a white person, I am afforded the ability to know and exercise my rights without the fear of being shot and killed by those who pledge to protect and serve.   If you aren’t being detained, certainly if you are unarmed, you are not legally bound to comply, so stop with the bullshit excuses that the police are justified to shoot at will, simply because they told someone to stop and stay where they are.  Of course, our legal system doesn’t seem to hold these officers, their superiors, or their departments accountable either.  The systemic abuse of the system by those who are responsible for public safety is the sole reason why these egomaniacal shit gibbons continue to get away with murder.

I am tired of the excuses.  There is no excuse for murdering a child, I don’t care what color they are, I don’t care where they came from, I don’t care how good or bad they have been.  Killing a child is an inexcusable act.  If there are truly “more good cops than there are bad cops”, why do the “good ones” continue to harbor those who tarnish the supposed nobility of the badge?  Recently, a man called authorities when he suspected that his own daughter was planning a mass shooting at her high school.  He knew that countless people would be at risk, if he didn’t say something, so he turned in his own flesh and blood.  “Good cops” need to turn in their own.  By allowing this shit to continue by their unscrupulous counterparts, they are culpable in the continued erosion of trust we have in our justice system.  Those who don’t speak up, who don’t seek out ways to be better ambassadors in their communities, are just as wicked as those who kill young, unarmed men in cold blood.

How many times are we going to allow officers who commit murder/manslaughter to get away with zero punishment?  I don’t care if there’s a certain expectation that comes with the job, or whatever excuse is provided that they are legally allowed to defend themselves.  What about the times when they aren’t actually defending themselves, when they allow their biases to get in the way of acting in a professional manner?  Firing him is not enough, this officer needs to spend a considerable amount of time in prison. What message are we sending as a society when we will send someone to jail for 30 years for possession of marijuana, but we can’t hold a police officer accountable when they royally fuck up?

I realize that they signed up for a dangerous job, but being a law enforcement officer doesn’t even make the top 10 for the most dangerous jobs in the US.  Taxi drivers are more likely to be murdered on the job than police officers and you don’t see them going around killing unarmed riders.  When the military kills unarmed civilians, there is an inquiry and there is hell to pay.  So, enough already.  Police officers are not above the law, and they swore an oath to protect and serve – this includes everyone.

And honestly, white people, can you really say for sure you won’t be next?  History has shown that when governments militarize forces with inside their countries, those forces are used against their own citizens.  Black and brown citizens of this country have know this for decades….centuries, in fact.    Continuing to live in this state of denial, to defend the oppressor, and try and justify the unnecessary killing of black people, is ripping our nation apart.  We cannot continue to allow the militarization of our police departments to continue.   The only way to truly fix the problem, is to first identify the problem.  As white people, we must acknowledge that there is a huge disparity in how we are treated, vs our black and brown brothers and sisters.  Then, we must use our privilege to demand better of our leaders, of our protectors, and of ourselves.

 

Social Media isn’t Social at all

In case you may not have noticed, Facebook is the #1 Social Networking site in the world. According to their own number s, they now tout 1.8-Billion people now have a Facebook account, nearly a quarter of the world’s population.  The US users makes up 10% of that total, or 180-Million, which is just over half our population.  That number isn’t expected to change much over the next several years – most of the growth in the social space will occur on other/new networks.  It seems as though Facebook may have reached critical mass and some are now predicting that there has been blowback from the amount of political postings which could negatively impact any future growth.

social [soh-shuh l] adjective
1. pertaining to, devoted to, or characterized by friendly companionship or relations
2. seeking or enjoying the companionship of others; friendlygregarious.
3. of, pertaining to, connected with, or suited to polite or fashionable society
4. living or disposed to live in companionship with others or in community, rather than in isolation
5. of or relating to human society, especially as a body divided into classes according to status
6. of or relating to the life, welfare, and relations of human beings in community

Disgusted with the animosity and outcome of the election, I am one of those people who deactivated their Facebook accounts in November.  It’s not the first time I’ve done this, mind you, but in the past few months I haven’t felt like I was “missing something” like I had in the past.  In fact, I recently re-activated my account with nearly instantaneous regret.  Looking through the vitriolic nature of the posts in my news feed, the continual spread of dipshit stories and fake news, and liberal outrage over micro-aggressions while missing the bigger picture issues, affirmed that I truly hadn’t missed anything.  Maybe it has to do with age…but I think it has more to do with how ANTI-social the network has become over the past few years.

It’s deeply troubling that more people will share their most intimate thoughts, feelings and photos with near strangers, but can’t carry on a meaningful conversation with their significant other.  So much so, that the network has amassed data on the age, gender, income, employment, interests, travel habits, behaviors, likes, dislikes, food preferences, workout routines, and anything else you can imagine.  In the wrong hands, this data could be used by governments for more nefarious reasons and many users have begun to realize that they are allowing their privacy to be willingly violated with one click of a button.  The EU sees this level of tracking as a clear breach of their Safe Harbor laws, as to do I, but the rest of the US hasn’t caught on yet.  More than that, I no longer want to participate in the denigration of society by dividing ourselves into these “all-or-nothing” viewpoints and classes, according to our status updates.

From a 2014 Op-Ed on Media Post:

10 Times Social Media Made The World Worse In 2014

1. ISIS Recruitment. Social media plays a “huge role” in recruiting aspiring jihadists from Europe to fight in Syria, according to Gilles de Kerchove, the European Union’s counterterrorism coordinator. ISIS, giving the Nazis a run for their money as “worst group of people/ideology ever,” also likes to distribute horrifying images of its atrocities via social media.

2. Facebook experimented on people to make them depressedThe study, titled “Experimental evidence of massive-scale emotional contagion through social networks,” tinkered with the emotional content of news feeds for 689,003 Facebook users to see if moods can spread via social connections. Turns out they can — thanks Facebook! Oh, also, OKCupid deliberately set people up on bad dates.

3. Robin Williams’ daughter, Zelda Dae Williams, quit social media after an outpouring of abuse following her father’s suicide. Gross.

4. Social media fuels negative body image issues in women, according to multiple studiesOne researcher observed: “The biggest thing that stands out is social media. In the 2014 survey, a huge number of women — 64 percent — report that looking at pictures on sites like Facebook and Instagram makes them feel bad about their body.”

5. Social media also makes new mothers feel insecure, according to a survey of 1,100 women by BabyCenter. 60% of moms surveyed said they feel pressure to appear well-to-do on social media, as well as feeling envy and embarrassment because of their own situation compared with others; one in four millennial moms said she feels “significant” pressure to look well-off on social media. Another survey by Current Lifestyle Marketing and Impulse Research also found that many mothers feel social media creates unrealistic expectations and puts pressure on them to craft an idealized image of their lives.

6. The Fire Challenge. Read it and weep. ‘Nuff said.

7. Speaking of kids setting fire to themselves, parents believe the risks associated with social media outweigh its benefits for children. That’s according to a survey of UK and U.S. parents with children ages 6-17 who use the Internet, conducted for the UK’s Family Online Safety Institute. Overall 43% of parents surveyed said they though the negative impacts of social media outweighed the positive impacts, compared to 26% who believe the positive impacts were greater.

8. That massive leak of celebrity nude photos. Gross.

9. Social media undermines trust and makes us unhappy. A study titled “Online Networks and Subjective Well-Being” focused on measures of “social trust,” referring to the individual’s tendency to assume — or not assume — that strangers, as proxies for society in general, are benign and trustworthy, in the sense that they will “observe the rules of the game” in basic social interactions. According to the authors: “Internet-mediated interaction often violates well-established face-to-face social norms for the polite expression of opposing views. In online discussions with unknown others, individuals more easily indulge in aggressive and disrespectful behaviors… In online interactions, dealing with strangers who advance opposite views in an aggressive and insulting way seems to be a widespread practice, whatever the topic of discussion is.”

10. Social media use contributes to divorceA study, titled “Social network sites, marriage well-being, and divorce: Survey and state-level evidence from the United States” and published in Computers in Human Behavior, found that Facebook use is a “positive, significant predictor of divorce rate and spousal troubles,” according to researchers at Boston University and the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile’s School of Communications. Specifically: “Results show that using SNS is negatively correlated with marriage quality and happiness, and positively correlated with experiencing a troubled relationship and thinking about divorce.”

This anxiety producing experience with Instagram is more veiled.  It’s owned by Facebook, so it has all of the same drawbacks of traceability and self-loathing.  Since the platform only allows users to post pictures and short videos, it’s easy to get caught up scrolling through the imagery and feel like you are connecting to the outside world.  Many users, however, quickly find themselves caught comparison game, they lose track of their self-esteem and no longer find they are relating to those around them.  Fortunately, I haven’t had that experience, mine has been more pleasant, but I do find that I’ve become engrossed in scrolling through pretty pictures of places and food, only to realize that 45-minutes has gone by without me hardly noticing.  That, my dears, was by design.  Most social platforms employ the psychology of gambling when coding their sites.  There is a reason that little notification button has a red bubble with numbers on it.

Once the platform for broadcasting news alerts and updates quickly, thanks to our new Cheeto-in-Chief, and King of Online Bullies, Twitter has thrown the idea of a polite and fashionable society into the garbage can.  Fortunately, the number of users is dwindling, as more and more people tire of its ability to amplify hate speech in a matter of seconds, but the death of the platform can’t come fast enough.  It is the platform for reporting on what is happening on the ground, in live time, in the moment, frequently used by law enforcement to track protestors and quell free speech.  Since it is conversational in nature, it is also the platform for gossip and unsubstantiated claims, causing frequent meltdowns over the smallest of slights, further isolating us from ourselves.

Sadly, the number of social networking sites continues to grow, as does the amount of time we spend on them.  In 2012, eMarketer estimated that most US adults spent an average of 4-minutes a day on social media.  Just five years later, that amount of time has grown to close to an hour.  Every day, we choose to spend 50-minutes fighting, coveting, longing, and freely acting like guinea pigs, while giving away our privacy so that these companies can resell our data to advertisers, to earn themselves billions in revenue….BILLIONS.  In 2017 alone, Facebook’s ad revenueis estimated at $16.5-Billion,  This does not take into account Instagram, or any of the other dozens of social networks profiting from the same practice.  This is your time, your privacy, and your sweetness of mind, but you will not be compensated for what you willingly gave away.

Instead, think about what would you do with an extra 50-minutes a day?  If you could shut off the “social” network, how would you relate to your life again?  For me, I have revived my account to get updates from a women’s group and writer’s group that I am part of, along with the occasional update on how friends of mine are, and what their children are up to.  I suppose these are the reasons that we all glommed onto the idea of social networks to begin with.  Now that more of my news feed is filled primarily with negative and often times violent language, I think it’s time to disconnect the “social” network and reconnect with my fellow humans, most likely this time for good.

Let the Adults Speak

Dear #Drumpf –

You don’t know shit from Shinola when it comes to most everything about anything. Luck and a good inheritance has been on your side for far too long, because it sure as shit hasn’t been looks, sweetie. So, here are a few tips for public speaking (my gift to you, muah!):

1. Get a grammar coach
2. Check out the book “30-Days to a more powerful vocabulary”
3. Stay the fuck on point, for GAWD’s sake
4. STOP snorting coke prior to your public appearances, or at the very least stop sniffling – I’d suggest Afrin, you’ll thank me later
5. If you really are a billionaire, could you PLEASE buy a suit that fits your fat ass? They do have custom tailoring options these days, you know.
6. Say after me, “Putin BAD”
7. Say after me, “Immigrants GOOD” – your mom was one, you #halfwit
8. Telling me repeatedly WHAT you will do #bigly, without telling me HOW, shows you haven’t really thought this through (it also shows me you really need to refer to items #1 and #2)
9. If you knew thing one about women, you would know that we can see through your bullshit lies a mile away….but then again, maybe that’s why you’re so afraid of us (you tiny fingered, shit gibbon, you!)
10. Work with a historian and learn some shit about the Middle East, the Ancient Schism of the Shia and Sunnis, or how arbitrary borders drawn during WWI to understand the full story of ISIL (if I can learn this shit as an every day citizen, why would elect a dimwit who can’t learn this shit, but claims he wants to be the leader of the free nation in which I reside?)
11. Better yet, just STFU and let the adults speak

Hugs and kisses,
Laura

News Flash: Hypocrisy knows no bounds

“The most serious and unaddressed worldwide challenge is the deprivation and abuse of women and girls…largely caused by a false interpretation of carefully selected religious texts and a growing tolerance of violence and warfare, unfortunately following the example set during my lifetime by the United States.” — Jimmy Carter in A Call to Action

I don’t know about you, but I’m tired….I’m tired of being degraded for being strong, I’m tired of girls who are smart being ostracized, I’m tired of being told I’m hysterical/crazy/a bitch when I have feelings or express my views, I’m tired of being talked down to in board rooms, I’m tired of experiencing unwelcome advances from men who think they are in a position of power over me, I’m tired of men who act like they are in a position of power over anyone, I’m tired of how people shame sexual assault victims, and I’m really tired of people enabling the rape culture in our country to continue with dumbass statements like “boys with be boys” and “locker room banter”.

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Women have been living with this double standard, with this hypocrisy, with the idea that we must be perfect saints, be twice as smart and work twice as hard as our male counterparts before we are taken seriously, for centuries (of course, that’s only when the mens “allowed” us to go to work). Then, at that critical moment when we rise up, the moment we break through that glass ceiling, the message comes through loud and clear that “you can’t be here” – and the message sadly comes from both men and women, alike.  We are torn down and told we can’t lead, based on superficial shit like our looks, or that we must have cheated to get here, or lied, or stole our way in, because we aren’t “allowed” to have ambition, or be smart, or strong-willed.  By GAWD, who would ever believe that a WOMAN could be better than a man as CEO…or President?!

hy·poc·ri·sy [həˈpäkrəsē/] noun the practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one’s own behavior does not conform; pretense

Hypocrisy = claiming that the news reports of this man’s sexually predatory behavior is some form of “cheating” so that Clinton can win the election, because they were uncovered 3-weeks before the election, while the GOP has been enacting voter suppression laws and gerrymandering districts for decades.  Oh and now his supporters want to win by asking that we Repeal the 19th Amendment…..

Hypocrisy = After working tirelessly to convince the public that we need to enact discriminatory bathroom laws, because you are worried about male sexual predators dressing up as women and assaulting other women, possibly children, in bathrooms, you say you will vote for a man who boasts about actually sexually assaulting women.

Hypocrisy = Voting for a man with two failed marriages, due to infidelity, then boasting of being unfaithful in his third, all while claiming you want to “strengthen the family and respect the sanctity of marriage”, and same-sex marriage needs to be outlawed.
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Hypocrisy = well….I’ll let Donald speak for himself on this….
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Hypocrisy = Voting for a man with two failed marriages, due to infidelity, then boasting of being unfaithful in his third, then turning around and criticizing a woman who chose to remain in her marriage through her husband’s infidelity because she promised “for better or worse”.

Hypocrisy = claiming that a woman who deleted 33,000 emails is a “crook” and a “liar” and “needs to be in jail”, even though an 18-months investigation has produced no evidence that a crime was committed, yet allowing 22-million emails “lost” by the second Bush Administration (via a private email server run through the RNC) to go unsolved and unpunished. Not to mention, the emails were supposedly found, but have yet to be made public and no one bangs down the doors of justice demanding to read them.

Hypocrisy = I suppose it’s okay because Trump boasted about it….
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Hypocrisy = investigating the Benghazi attach on 8 different occasions, to finally determine that there were failures by the administration, as though this is a new phenomenon to the Obama administration or to the Defense Department.  Listening to people whine and bitch and call a woman “Killary”, without considering the historical context of Ronald Reagan’s own Benghazi, which was far more devastating.  During the span of 18-months, there series of attacks on US military and the Embassy in Beirut in 1983.  330 people (262 Americans) were killed and there was one congressional investigation conducted – ONE.  There was no talk of impeaching Reagan and no subpoenas for cabinet staff.  Instead, Congress released a report detailing the failures, and offered suggestions for improvement in the future.

Hypocrisy = And this all happened before Reagan got away scot-free from the Iran-Contra Affair, for simply refusing to declassify certain documents, something that the female candidate for President is apparently not allowed to do, according to the GOP.

Hypocrisy = Voting for a man with two failed marriages, due to infidelity, then boasting of being unfaithful in his third, then turning around and criticizing a woman who chose to remain in her marriage through her husband’s infidelity, yet not criticizing this man’s third wife because she chose to stand by this same man, although he has admittedly been unfaithful to her.

Hypocrisy = Anger over what’s being called a shell game by the Clinton Foundation, a public charity with IRS oversight, which was given an A-rating by Charity Watch and a 4-star (highest) rating by Charity Navigator, while not once ever paying attention to the Trump Foundation’s, a private foundation allowed to operate somewhat in the shadows, has made illegal political campaign contributions and been told to cease all fundraising by the NY Attorney General.

Hypocrisy = insinuating that Hillary Clinton hates America, a woman who has committed her life to serving the public, then showing up at your local Trump campaign rally and listen to a man who boasts about shirking the tax code, not contributing one damn dime to the people or infrastructure that have supported his shitty businesses along the way.

Enough is enough.  Come November 8th (or November 28th if you are a Trump voter), the hypocrisy must end.  Like it or not, we must look at the bigger picture and vote for her.  It is the only adult thing to do.

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