Talking Politics is a Dead End Game, but I Want People to Not Hate Each Other

Ever since choosing to only write two posts a week, it’s been much harder to post.

And this week—well, it’s much harder than most. The election finished but no one won. The viciousness and personal hatred of this election is unlike anything in my experience, and the ugliest part of our culture. How much do you hate the other party, strictly from the judgement of one word? That’s how much I hate every single one of you all the time, says the misanthrope. In other words, we all lost.

And yet, despite the rhetoric on television and online, where people genuinely refuse to recognize any humanity in the ‘other’ side (when they’re exactly the same, really, just differently labeled), when I’m actually interacting with people, in real life: conversations face to face, we all passionately agree that politics has become irreparable.

Guess what. We didn’t blame the politicians. Who lets them get away with this? Every single voter, who make it personal on the micro level without holding the ones actually making decisions accountable.

Well, I don’t really blame myself. Despite how often I hear ‘every vote counts’, mine really doesn’t. I live in northern California, the only choices are made by the great metropolises of Los Angeles and Bay Area. But I have voted on every single ballot since I registered, which I did at eighteen. It is what you do in my family. The only reason my mom registered at nineteen was because that was the year they amended the constitution and brought the age down. I will accept no reason for not voting…at least in part because in this election you must have known something about the presidents. Likely nothing true, and probably nothing truly relevant. But something.

Now see, if I were in charge, you’d have to prove you could think before voting. and you couldn’t be generally stupid in other ways. Also, education on the issues would be mandatory. You wouldn’t have to agree on issues, but voting on anything other than the issues or only based on media coverage. Or else. (This is why I’m not in charge of anything.)

Of course, this also relates to the positions I hold theoretically, but could never espouse for real people, real situations: the whole, “I may not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.”

So yes, I had a delightful conversation in a coffee shop with my friend on politics—though we hardly agree on everything—but then we were joined by two other women who were also actively engaged and interested and passionate. And we had great fun talking about politics when we clearly all fell on different political axes* but we never never never tried to tell each other we were wrong about the little things, because we realized there were far more important problems than who belonged to what party. There used to be a phrase, something like ‘vote policy, not party,’ only it sounds better. It’s not advice anyone is supposed to follow anymore. Wonder why nothing works?

*”Axes (/ˈæksiːz/), the plural of axis, is pronounced differently from axes (/ˈæksɨz/), the plural of ax(e).” Wikipedia

I’ve yet to catch up on Elementary, which I saw the pilot of and didn’t like, but wanted to give another chance. By chance, I’m watching the sixth episode. For a moment, I thought they’d brought back a Holmes who genuinely cared about people, which the original did, and I was impressed. Spoilers: they haven’t. Well, not really, but that’s mostly due to the actor. (Aw, he has daddy issues! Do people really think this is original still? I hope not.)

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111 Words of Speechlessness

More disappointment from the so-called ‘debates’. Is that enough equivocation for you? Both a so-called and scare quotes, but it’s all verbal violence and no education. Clearly the “Debate Association” or whatever the moderator called them in the beginning should just give up and go home. Just hand it all over to the media companies, that’s what they’ve done in spirit anyway.

I’m sure they got plenty of soundbites, but all in avoidance and rehearsed campaign speeches. What’s the point of even getting the candidates into the same space—with the expense and time—when they aren’t listening or responding to each other. And I didn’t tune in to hear the moderateor talk.

scare quotes around "yes we can"

 

 

You are a Lying Liar who Lies!

 

Sorry to accuse, but I’m sure you can’t help it. You’re human, after all.

 

Unless you’re invading aliens, in which case you may as well skip this post, because it probably won’t help you out in your conquest, or even in translating humanity, at all.

 

Anyway, we’ve discovered the television in the living room can connect directly to Netflix, and I’ve been watching it much more often, and you know, I pay for it. So that’s good. It also gives me time to knit and I’ve nearly finished the back of my first top!

 

This time, my recommended tags include: Barack Obama, United States, Mitt Romney, Maryland, Stephanie Cutter, Joe Biden, People, and History.

 

 

I is amused.

 

Mostly because, though I am accusing everyone of being a liar, it’s in relation to the TV show Lie to Me, hence the reference to Netflix. It’s not a great show, honestly, but at least it’s fun to watch. Lie to Me has another Sherlock Holmes–style character, at least in that the character has been such an enduring influence on our culture. The idea is, he can automatically tell you’re lying because Science.

 

It seems to be about on the level of every other show using Science to solve crimes. Or Numb3rs. Yes, I like that show too. Sorry, scientists, the silly conclusions and far-reaching fantasy conclusions do not stop me from watching fake science crime dramas—at least I won’t watch the CSIs…except sometimes when they’re particularly funny.

 

Back to Lie to Me. It’s a little harder to talk about because, despite having seen six episodes, I don’t know any of the character names. Anyway, so you have the genius-jerk type character, his Girl Friday, the weird guy, the new girl, and the secretary. Secretary, her name is Heidi, hardly shows up, and the weird guy takes awhile to get screen-time during the set up, but now is a foil for the new girl. The new girl is fun, but surely can’t have decent relationships outside of work, even if we haven’t seen that at all, because she doesn’t seem very clearly with humanity, except for identifying emotions. I like Girl Friday, she’s got back story and fun quirks. Main character, as I said, is a typical genius jerk, snarky, ought to get sued for harassment, can quell any naysayer with just one quip. These shows never acknowledge how attached people are to their opinions whether or not they’re caught.

 

Hotch on Criminal Minds did it better though. Mostly because he’s not a jerk, but because calling out the lawyer in the courtroom played with concepts of hubris and poetic justice

 

 

Not that Lie to Me isn’t trying to do the same thing, but the main character is supposed to pull it off every episode, and it’s less impressive that way. Also, they telegraph the guilty party a lot, and you generally know the answer as soon as the character comes on-screen. The fun comes from seeing how they’ll tease out the truth. It is nice that just because they can see a lie, they can’t necessarily force the truth.

 

A little less inerrancy, perhaps, in drawing conclusions would be nice. The characters are always right when they interpret the ‘micro-expressions.’ I are aware that these things exist but it’s not a straightforward science and there are, or should be, more ways of going wrong.

 

No, instead they’re always right. And lying is bad regardless of situation or intent.

 

For instance, I recently read about a Japanese social construct tatemae. That particular website compared it to a ‘social reality:’ for instance, when you go through the grocery store checkout line and the clerk asks how you are, you say ‘fine,’ well, unless you’re particularly socially inept or just a selfish jerk. The article I read described tatemae as similar to the white lie, but without the Western connection toward a lie: in other words, a necessary truth for social life. When trying to find that article again, I also found another article that defined it as pretense and considered it problematic.

 

That second article does make a very good point on the social scale, but in discussing Lie to Me, I want to discuss the idea that whole-scale truth isn’t necessarily a good idea. For instance, there’s no need for the woman at the end of the first episode to admit she’s glad to have gotten another candidate fired, except to cause bad blood—as if the workplace needs any more of that.

 

Culturally, in the US anyway, I don’t think our problem is increased lying, but the lying is a symptom of our overall lack of..dare I call it ‘honor’. People don’t care about how their actions, for example, cheating, plagiarizer  lying, cause problems for others and are more willing to break social norms for personal gain. A consequence, I think, of our idealization of individualism. The problem comes down to lack of ethics, and not more lying. But I’m supposed to be talking about a television show where people have already started lying, and this fictional corporation has to determine the truth.

 

Which, is, in part, the reason for the awkward nature of the show. The main character apparently started this company, and every episode they’re hired to solve two problems, often criminally related. So they have no investment except to find the Truth. Conceivably, if the client doesn’t go alone with them, the human lie-detectors could just walk away. Also, I’m not sure how they’re paid.

 

I don’t know. Several how-to writer’s books insist the protagonist must have high personal stake in the plot, otherwise the reader will question why they don’t just quit when it gets hard. Aside from that not being a desirable trait, fictionally or otherwise, it’s a valid concern. Why shouldn’t the characters of Lie to Me not walk away?

 

Heh. It’s not a question that the show asks, and it definitely doesn’t support it. That’s just what happens when I go off on a tangent. It’s a fun show to watch though. As I knit more this winter, it’ll definitely be on in the background.

 

Family Politics

 

Okay, I’m not actually going to blog about my family. I don’t particularly like people (specifically my brother) tagging me in everything on Facebook—not for any particular reason, but for as much time as I spend online, I’m generally concerned with my offline privacy. The recent trend toward trending has blurred the two. At any rate, I don’t want to put anyone else in that position, just in case.

Suffice to say, I’m glad we have a generally easy-going family. Like any family, undercurrents are everywhere for the unwary. But also we all know the triggers. I don’t think it’s too unpleasant.

And yay for weddings! If you have to gather for anything, a wedding is the best.

It’s the first time I’ve seen most of the family in years…and years. And getting out of town is a great benefit. Even if most of Idaho has pretty much the same climate and ecosystem I’m familiar with (traveling north or south or west from home gets much more variety).

I honestly love staying at hotels, too. This was my favorite part so far:

They had complimentary items, yes, but they didn’t carry multiple brands of each item. Not sure why they doubled up, but I’m sure the copy writer was simply enthusiastic.

On the other hand, this Holiday Inn just gave me quite the nicest razor I’ve ever owned.

 

 

Are you ever startled by technology?

 

English: This is a photo of a room full of com...

English: This is a photo of a room full of computers all showing the same windows error message at the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

As mentioned before, I bought a new computer that runs Windows 7. It’s my first with that operating system, so even now I’m getting used to it. There are plenty of features I don’t use, mostly because I don’t know what I’d use them for. Surely they’re plenty useful for many people.

 

Like the way I can apparently connect to other computers.

 

Why did I just install My Book Live? What is My Book Live? And why is one named Twonky?

 

(seriously, if you know what it is, please tell me)

 

But most of the links are to family members’ computers that I have no business being in—on? At any rate, I think my brothers especially would prefer me to keep out (although I think I’m allowed to watch their movies).

 

I still can’t find where it installed the driver for my phone. This may be because I still have a flip phone: it’s so much nicer, why do all these people like touch screens? Anyway, my computer did find me a driver for it, which the other computer couldn’t do, but apparently it doesn’t actually do me any good to have the driver.

 

Anyway, I only found the network and sharing center while looking for my device driver. Don’t you ever think it’s a little creepy how much computers want to talk to each other before you even ask them to?

 

So much for my planned argument that education is pointless!

 

Don’t worry, though, I’m still working on it. Education: always a fun topic.

 

Why else would teachers strike by not teaching at all? (If they really wanted to make a point, the Chicago teachers should have said they wouldn’t proctor the standardized tests.)

 

Just One College Class Tells Me This Is Wrong

Every time I see another story or mention of the attacks in the Middle East, it’s always “because of the anti-Muslim video.”

I’m sorry, but that’s ridiculous, and they need to stop using it as an explanation, or worse, excuse, for everything going on over there. It may have been a catalyst for this specific outbreak of violence, and I’m sure it is a particularly offensive film (having not seen it).

However, there is so much cultural history and modern conflict one film can only barely be relevant. The media using it as a shorthand for all the history of warfare and dictatorship and imperialism…well, I find it rather offensive.

Not that I’ve done much research, I know.

So I’m not trying to say what really is going on, or why it’s happening. I just know it’s from more than just one video. Nothing is ever that simple, and presenting it to the already ignorant public as though all the rioters have nothing better to do than watch YouTube is even more irresponsible.

Not that I’m excusing the violence, either. Much of it sounds more like mob mentality than anything as specific as a protest. I just wish it were acknowledged that there are no easy answers and that’s why there’s a problem.

Okay, I don’t have the expertise or knowledge to comment on the wherefores or the hows. But our televised media is problematic enough in their so-called news coverage, I would like to see at least this one change made. Sure, we’re in the days of the sound-byte; fine, worry about the ratings and bottom line; but deleting one short phrase would fix so much of this issue.

Don’t tell the people you know why this is happening. If you did, someone(s) could push the delete button and it’d be sunshine and roses.

Humor: all our future ambassadors during such protests should be Mormon. “This is what you do when people are making fun of your religion.”*

Greater Middle East

Greater Middle East (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

*Please note, I do not advocate making fun of any religion. It’s just tacky and unnecessary. However, it’s also pretty common. If you don’t accept it, you’re in for a lot of anger, and probably going to kill people. That’s generally not good.

Let’s Not Talk Politics, Talk About Sex!

 

It bothers me that we worry more about talking about politics in public than sex. Mostly because I find sex fairly irrelevant except for the participants.

But considering how concerned people are with what’s going on in other people’s bedrooms (or wherever), I don’t know why we can’t talk about politics.

For example, one of the creepy shows on TLC (remember when it was The Learning Channel? haven’t I mentioned that before?) was about fetishes. Well, okay, why not? If you’ve got a fetish that’s a little out there, it might be comforting to be introduced to others like yourself: although one would think with the rise of the internet it’d be less necessary, and less freak show—all right, I do know TLC only airs it for the freak show reason. Look at these weird people, aren’t you glad to be normal?

So uncomfortable.

But most awkward was a point where the subject of the episode talked about how he’d “come out” to his family and friends about his fetish, which was balloons. I don’t object to anyone having a fetish. Not my business, right? But to announce to family and friends what you like to do on your own time is just too much information. That’s not coming out. Coming out as gay, for example, may be important, because parents and friends might not expect it. For a friend they may want contact information for the parents, for a significant other they’re going to want to give the talk, and you don’t want to confuse the two. Announcing you’re aroused by balloons means I’ll never invite you to a birthday party. What you think about balloons, unless I’m a romantic partner, is never going to be relevant to me.

I’m not the only with with issues with our glorification of over-sharing in our culture.

But if we can talk about what you want to do to balloons, or statues, or cars, why can’t we talk about politics?

For example, and this relates to my post on audience behavior from a few weeks ago, I saw a clip of Romney making a reference to the Americans killed in the embassy attacks, and some guy, probably a college kid thinking he was actually making a point, started yelling from the audience about, I don’t know, not politicizing Libya.

You know what? Politicians may not be the best suited at giving honor to those who’ve given their lives for the country. We have demanded that they do, however, and so every politician is and should be talking about that loss. You, kid, are not standing up for any grand social right, you are disrespecting those killed.