Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The He Man's Woman Hater's Club... Party of 1

Well, last night it was confirmed… I’m an asshole.

Let me set the scene where my insensitivity was authenticated that not only am I am jerk but I am also not interested in helping the “causes that generations of women have been fighting for”.

I was sitting, minding my own business waiting for a pizza. That’s it! Sitting there, playing a mind numbing game on my phone with my headphones in, listening to a podcast on the 5,000 year old “Iceman” that was found in the Alps. Life at that moment was pretty good, even if waiting for a pizza is a little irritating being a fat guy and all. Out of the corner of my eye I see a woman walk to from the counter to the waiting area by me. There were 8 chairs in the area and all were being used, so I stood up, smiled and made a gesture to the young lady that she could have my chair to wait. THAT was obviously NOT the thing for me to do.

I couldn’t hear her response, but could see the OUTRAGE in her face. She pointed at the chair and then turned her back to me. It was the look in the other patrons eyes that made me pull my earbuds out of my ears and take in what happened. At first I didn’t move or say anything but being mildly dumb, I approached the now angered women and said, “I’m sorry, I was just offering you my chair.”  and then smiled. I was not ready for the reply…

“What would make you think that I would want your chair? Because I am a woman? Because I look tired? Because it would make you feel good about yourself?” Huh… maybe all three? (I said in my head and for ONCE time in my life, didn’t allow it to pour out of my mouth)

What I did say was “I was just wanting to be polite.” Not good enough. She, calmly now, said that it was that my patriarchal attitude was hurting the causes that generations of woman have been fighting for and losing ground on. She told me that her whole life (I found out she was 24) she has been left out of the “boys club” of life and that if she really wanted to sit down, she was confident enough to ask for a chair or to stand there just as long as any man.  She told me that asking her to use her chair was a “micro-aggression” and in school she is learning how to deal with them.

Now, I had NO IDEA at that moment what a “micro-aggression” was at the time so now fully engrossed in this interaction I asked! She told me that it was something that a person says or does that triggers feeling and/or emotions in another person that can be considered rude, aggressive, inappropriate or damaging. She said that those years of men opening doors for women are over because women are more than capable of opening doors for themselves, they can work the same jobs, should make the same money and should have all the same rights as men in this “man dominated, patriarchal society”.

Now she is schooling me at this point. I am almost taking notes! I am also going through the catalog in my head of interaction with people and wondering how many “micro-aggressions” I have caused lately. Was I being insensitive by opening the door for that woman at the bank the day before? Did I cause hardship by saying “Good morning, how are you?” to that guy at my work? I was baffled that I did something to this woman that would cause her to be damaged or feel was rude or ruin her day. I am possibly the worst person in the world! I obviously hate women and any sort of equal rights! I am a full fledged member of the “HE MAN’S WOMAN HATERS CLUB”!!

But then it dawned on me, as I said goodbye and walked to my car with dinner… I was NOT the asshole in that conversation. By me offering my chair to her I had good intentions, love the fight for equality and,  being the father to a daughter and grandfather to a little baby girl, want all people to be treated fairly no matter the age, creed, culture, religion, sex, and anything else! (I probably just micro-argessed people right there by leaving somebody out)

SHE DON’T KNOW ME! (I miss Jerry Springer)

If this is what is being taught in schools and universities today, then just… WOW. I am afraid of the “social justice warriors” of today. Not everyone is out to get you. Offering a chair to you does not demean you or take away your power as woman, a human, a student, or anything else. I really hope that this other human (I am probably saying woman too much because I was just informed that I don’t know how she self identifies) puts away her sword and takes out her scalpel. I do not think that I am the enemy. I KNOW that there are a lot of issues out there that this kind of logic can apply. I see it every day on TV, in politics and in life. I hate that people are treated differently. We are all one race and have the ability to love and look after each other. I am also not making light of anyone who feels like her in their life. I know the struggle is real. 

So, young person or human or carbon based life form, waiting for your Little Cesar’s Pizza last night, here are a few things that I wish for you:
  • I wish that you stay in school and learn a TON.
  • I wish that what you learn, just because it is in a book, on-line, or told to you by somebody you respect doesn’t mean that it is true. Learn from experience.
  • I wish that when you measure a person who is being nice to you, that you don’t immediately look to make them out to be a bad person. There ARE some nice people out there.
  • I wish that you enjoyed your $5 pizza last night with friends that made you laugh and feel comfortable.

And most of all… I wish all the success for life.  

I don’t know if this is a rant or a story or what, but I did learn two things about myself last night. I don’t Little Cesar’s Pizza and I don’t understand this “Social Justice Warrior” movement. It seems counter intuitive to me for people who call themselves progressive.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Bernie, Bernie, Bernie

I have to start out that I am a Bernie Sanders fan.  I like the fella.  I could absolutely vote for him.  However, I'm not here to debate the merits of a Sanders candidacy.  The news out overnight that members of the Sanders campaign searched and downloaded information from the Clinton campaign on the Democratic National Committee database and the Sanders campaign's reaction got me going.

The Sanders camp is blaming the situation on a gaff in the software that temporarily dropped the firewalls that keep the candidates information proprietary.  Their reaction to a suspension of their benefits of access to the database?  Conspiracy!

Um, appears that during the time period that the firewall was down, four of your folks - including your data director, since terminated - searched and downloaded proprietary information.  The walls came down and your people pounced. 

It's as if you're saying "We have no self control and the wall was down so it's really the fault of the software."  You know, the henhouse fence failed and, being foxes, we naturally ate the chickens.  Don't blame us for following our natural instincts!

The Democratic National Committee came down hard on the Sanders camp, blocking access from the database until an investigation is conducted and a complete report on the incident from the Sanders people is received.

At this point, the Sanders campaign is threatening to sue to get access to their data back.  They are accusing the DNC of conspiring with the Clinton camp - or at least acting in the interests of the Clinton campaign - to hobble their campaign.

The Sanders people may have a point - the data that they are now being denied access to is their own.  They also fired one of the staffers that knowingly downloaded the Clinton information.  It just so happens to be the eve of an important New Hampshire debate where Sanders stands the best chance of derailing the Clinton train.

While this could be a devastating blow to the Sanders campaign if it drags on, I can't help but feel the offending staffers were trying to deliver a devastating blow of their own.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

I'll Have Hypertension With My Resolution, Please

My fiancĂ©e and I decided that for Christmas this year we would get each other a Garmin Vivofit watch.  For those of you unfamiliar, this is one of those fitness watches that keeps you posted on the number of steps you’ve taken for the day, number of calories you’ve burned and reminds you if you’ve been sedentary for too long.  It even monitors the soundness of your sleep.

I was all for it.  I’m fifty now and I’m a load.  Let’s face facts, we didn’t name this blog (and upcoming podcast) Fat Guys’ Rants because we’re lean and mean.  Well…we CAN be mean, but it seemed like a good way to get a jump on the annual New Year's resolution. of losing weight and getting into some kind of condition.

As I got closer to fifty I kept hearing how it’s the new thirty.  However, looking at myself in the mirror I thought “if that is true then I was a freaking disaster at thirty.”  Or thirty was the old sixty.  Either way, something has to be done so I pushed all-in and for the last week I’ve been wearing my watch religiously.  I even downloaded a complimentary app that lets me log in my food consumption and the two integrate seamlessly to give a complete picture of my day.  How it all works I have absolutely no idea and if I think about it too long a get a headache, but I’m blindly following my new toys. 

And it’s killing me.

When you’ve been sedentary for too long a red line starts to creep across the top of the watch.  As time passes it grows longer and longer and taunts me. I start to feel the anxiety build the longer I am stuck at a task, unable to walk and rid myself of the screaming red line.

I drive a lot for work around the upper Midwest.  There are a lot of times that I can’t pull over and walk a quick 1/8th of a mile or so and the stress is getting to me.

The red line might as well be telling me “Hey, Lardass!  I’m TRYING to help you out here and you’re blowing me off.  Stay fat you son of a bitch…”

I started listening.

Trips that used to take me three hours are now taking me three and a half.  I can’t NOT stop.  I try.  I really do.  I used to be the guy that would try and time his pee, food and gas stops all together but I can’t do it anymore. Last week I was in Antigo, Wisconsin and ordered lunch.  While I was waiting I left and did three laps around the parking lot so I could eat in peace.  I relax immensely when I can make the red line go away.

Just the other day I was so happy to get to an appointment five minutes early - not because I had a few last minutes to prepare but because I could get rid of the damn red line.  The day before I sat through a meeting only hearing half of what was being said because the damn red line was deafening.  I couldn’t wait to get outside and walk around the parking lot before getting to my car and get rid of that line.
Even at home, while watching TV I'll jump up and walk around the house, climb the stairs and do it all again. And again. It's three laps around the house to get rid of the red line.  Heather has now ceased asking about it and has resigned herself to my rapidly evolving OCD.  She doesn't even raise her head anymore when I leap up from the couch and head off.

As I jumped on the scale this morning I was excited to see how my new regimen was working out.

I gained .4 of a pound.

So while I haven’t lost any weight, I now have hypertension and a burgeoning anxiety disorder.
Merry Christmas…

Monday, December 7, 2015

Sen. Inouye Proves to be Prophetic When Remembering Pearl Harbor

“December 7, 1941 - a date which will live in infamy.” Franklin Roosevelt, December 8, 1941

Seventy-four years ago FDR clearly and forcefully enunciated these words when he asked Congress to declare war on Japan after the devastating attacks on Pearl Harbor.  Thousands of sailors, soldiers and civilians perished that day and ushered US entry into a far ranging world war where thousands more would die as would millions around the globe.

America was gripped with fear and foreboding.  World War I wasn’t yet a distant memory and the sons of those veterans were going to be sent overseas to fight in a war dwarfing in scope the fight of their fathers. 

On the Homefront, already strained racial relations on the West Coast tore apart.  Fear took over and public and military pressure led to President Roosevelt signing Executive Order 9066 which effective opened up concentration camps in the United States.  Though not specifically mentioning Japanese-Americans, there was no ambiguity to whom this order was directed.

Roosevelt’s informal national security advisor J. Franklin Carter, in a memo to the President dated December 16, 1941, states as its first point that “There is no substantial Fifth Column activities by Japanese”. 

Attorney General Francis Biddle was very concerned about the Constitutionality of such action.  In a last ditch effort, Biddle advised against such action in a memo to the President on February 17, 1942.  In the memo he alluded to the fact there might be ulterior motives in forcing Japanese-Americans to leave rich agricultural land and excoriates columnists Walter Lippmann and Westbrook Pegler, calling them “Armchair Strategists and Junior G-Men” and their editorializing the equivalent of “shouting FIRE! in a theater.”

Roosevelt, however, signed the order two days later.  Its effect: over 110,000 of Japanese-Americans were forced to leave their homes, land, businesses and professions and relocate inland.

Proof wasn’t required.  Due process wasn’t a concern. Desperate times call for desperate measures and all.

For those of you that say it was a different time, take heed the words of Attorney-General Biddle, Frank Carter and others who had real concerns about not only the Constitutionality of the arrangement, but the morality of it as well.  They, and others, contemporarily warned about this becoming a blot on our nation’s history.

Still, in the face of the hatred and prejudice, second and third generation Japanese-Americans still were able to show their loyalty and devotion to their country.

Daniel Inouye, the late Senator from Hawaii and Medal of Honor recipient from World War II, talked about this extensively on the 70th anniversary of Pearl Harbor.  His entire speech is below but pay special attention to the 4:00 mark where he lays out his reasons for joining the military and serving his country.  Inouye was attached to the 442nd Regimental Combat Team – one of the most highly decorated regiments in US military history – comprised entirely of Japanese-Americans.

According to Stars and Stripes, “collectively, after a congressionally-mandated review of their wartime records, members of the 442nd received 21 Medals of Honor, 52 Distinguished Service Crosses, 560 Silver Stars, 4,000 Bronze Star Medals and almost 10,000 Purple Hearts.”

Another 442nd Medal of Honor Recipient, George Sakato, passed away 2-days ago.  He also remembered when he learned of his classification a 4C or “enemy alien” as reported in Stars and Stripes in an article on his passing:

"Enemy alien?" Sakato said in a 2009 oral history interview with the Japanese American Legacy Project.  "What do you mean enemy alien? I'm an American."

At the end of his speech on the Senate floor in 2012 Inouye said that if September 11 taught us anything it is:

“…to be vigilant at all times, not just to avoid war but to be vigilant among ourselves so that we will not use this as a justification to set aside our most heralded document, the Constitution.  I hope it will never happen again.”

If some have their way it will happen again. 

The rhetoric being displayed by Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and others who are vying to be president flies in the face of not only Inouye’s words but the Constitution.  A war against Islam is NOT what is necessary.  Working more closely with our Muslim communities in rooting out evil as it manifests itself as a perversion of their religion will go much further in protecting ALL Americans than hate, fear and isolation.

A friend told me today that when he’s discussing politics and someone starts using the words “all” and “always”, they lose.  You can’t categorize people like that and, quite frankly, the Trumps of this world know that.  Yet they choose to play on fears and reduce complex issues to soundbites.  Apparently as long as fear-mongering gets votes then why not?

History taught us that the events of December 7, 1941 should never had led to the internment camps of 1942 and beyond.  Two lunatics in San Bernardino in 2015 shouldn'tlead to state sanctioned racism and discrimination of 2016.  Our own history shows us we wrong before, let’s not ignore the lessons of the past for political expediency of the present.

(Credits: Marist University Collection; Stars and Stripes; PBS NewsHour)

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Did You Know You Shared White Supremicist Hate When You Clicked 'Share'?

The latest twisting of facts ‘story’ motoring around social media is the tragic killing of a 5-year old girl in Milwaukee, WI. Laylah Peterson’s story is devastating.  A five year old little girl sitting on grandpa’s lap was killed when a hail of gunshots were fired into the home in November 2014.  Watching this article spread on Facebook made me wonder and then angry once I started looking into it a bit.
The headline of the story being circulated, “Black Males Murder 5-year Old White Girl. No National Outrage”, is from the stellar on-line publication (that’s sarcasm, by the way) of the Council of Conservative Citizens in St. Louis, MO.  You want to learn more about this white supremacist group (WHAT??  You didn’t know that when you shared the article!?!?!?), here is a link to an Atlantic article on the organization.  They might nor be the Klan, but they're damn close.

The piece states:
“Milwaukee police say there is no question the shooters were deliberating trying to kill people inside the house.”

The article goes on to allude to the “fact” that the house was targeted because it was a white family in a black neighborhood, possibly a black gang initiation rite.
Nowhere do the police say that the particular house was targeted. The actual news stories around the time of the murder stated that the police were ‘befuddled’ regarding a motive.

In fact, in a story on Milwaukee’s Channel 12 announcing the news of the arrests of the three alleged perpetrators the complaint says the shooters were after revenge on the family of a man that was acquitted of killing a “brother” of one of the men arrested.
“The complaint states the men intended to shoot at the home of the acquitted man, or the house of the man's girlfriend.  Police said the girlfriend's home was about four blocks from the home where Petersen was shot.”

Actually, all of you out there on social media circulating this trash this week, there was NO RACIAL MOTIVATION to this attack.  None. 
Take a look at the pictures accompanying the story.  The outpouring of support for the family knew no race – only citizens sick to death of the violence in their community.

For crying out loud, people, stop taking shit at face value that you read online.  All it took was for me to google “Laylah Peterson Milwaukee” and read the coverage from REAL news outlets over the past year to find the ACTUAL truth. 
I’m so damn sick of the sound bite mentality and everyone taking every headline nugget designed to play into your prejudices and fears and swallowing it hook, line and sinker. 

“OMG…This is horrible”.  Click ‘share’.
Take five minutes and do some research before you buy into and then spread the hate.  For crissakes you don’t buy into a Nigerian prince wanting to pay you $5,000,000 for just moving some money for him!

Or do you?