Sunday, August 12, 2018

Monday, August 6, 2018

On the current state of affairs

Nearly every time I look at Facebook I regret it. In spite of the fact that Facebook is sometimes my primary means of learning about the lives of friends and family, and indeed sometimes my primary news source, I find it extremely unpleasant. What I most dislike is the amount of rage spewed about. Sometimes people call it hate, but it's rage. We've quite recently seen people spewing rage at CNN reporters and at community leaders who support the use of vaccines.

Let me state again I am not a psychologist or sociologist or any kind of scientist. I am merely an observer of human nature. Here are some of my observations.

Let's take a look at rage versus anger. Neither is a terribly rational emotion (an oxymoron if ever I heard one!), but anger is more immediate. You attack me verbally or physically, and I'm angry at you for the affront that is occurring now. It's a primal response.

People are angry and don't know how to deal with that anger. I've heard it said that feelings have only one logic--to flow. If anger in the moment is not dealt with, it remains with you. Rage is anger stored for later use. You attack me verbally or physically, and immediately my feelings associated with every time this has ever happened to me are unconsciously added to my feelings about the moment, and I react based on the accumulated feelings rather than the moment. This is why rageful reactions are out of proportion to the stimulus. This is why I wind up throwing things because of the way my partner stacks dirty dishes. If it's hysterical, it's historical.

Our current crisis of rage--OK, every crisis of rage--is about pain. People are in pain and don't have a single, black-and-white answer as to why.

Some think it's because the promise of The American Dream hasn't panned out. The life they were led to believe was due to them by virtue of hard work or an advantageous start or an education or even the unspoken privilege of race and sex has not materialized. Some think it is seeing the privilege they didn't even know they enjoyed because of race or class or sex challenged. Some have endured a string of misfortunes.

For whatever reasons, some have chosen to believe the tales they have been told by certain demagogues about where their rage should be directed. In a nutshell, those demagogues are convincing people that any or all of the following are responsible for their pain: immigrants, people of color, gays and lesbians, non-Christians, socialists, and especially liberals.

It's not about hate. People confuse rage with hate. As children, we often think we hate someone because we are angry at that person. I'd be willing to bet most of the members of the raging crowds we see in news reports would not act really hatefully in other situations, or state openly that they hate individuals they know personally.

Therein lies the answer. Not in meeting rage with rage, or meeting hate with hate. To the extent possible, we have to meet individual with individual. There is a lot of anger and rage on both sides. There are lots of platitudes bouncing about saying we should answer hate with love. Well, OK. A better way to say it is to offer understanding. We seek to understand people who differ from us, and we hope they will do the same. Our investment is in our own understanding, not in changing anyone else.

Some are asking why the raging people are not the ones being constantly asked to reach out in love and understanding. Here's your answer:  because it's not going to happen.  They can't do that in the current situation, and we can. People who are raging are not as rational as people who reach out in love are.  Are we more interested an outcome that shows love, mercy, and generosity to our fellow man or in winning the day? Are we more interested in showing rage and seeking revenge, or in seeking to help those in need, especially those affected by current policy?

Ask yourself this question, stolen (and paraphrased) from Inside the Actors Studio: Assuming there is a God, what do you want Him to say to you when you meet Him? Would it more likely be about your acts of vengeance or your acts of goodness?

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

How referrals work

I've realized a lot of people don't realize that I can still help them or their friends and associates regardless of whether they live, so I will explain.
KellerWilliams_Infor_KW_RGBYou want to buy a home, sell the one you have, or perhaps find an investment property. You don't have a realtor, or perhaps you want to try a different realtor.  I've been gently reminding you for a while that I am now a realtor, so you ask me whether I know anyone who can help you.
It's a good thing you asked. As part of Keller Williams, the real estate franchise with more agents nationwide than any other, I have access to agents everywhere. And because of the Keller Williams culture, training, and technological advantages, I can be sure any Keller Williams agent I refer you to will do a good job for you.
How does it work? When you ask me to help you, I will talk to an agent local to you.  If that agent is the right one for you, I'll tell  him about you and what you need. He'll skillfully guide you through your transaction and you'll shower me with thanks.  And cookies.  Don't forget the cookies. Also more referrals.
Start by giving me a call at 914-297-8475.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Thoughts on “Droit du Seigneur”, “Rape Culture”, and Being Trained to Be a Victim


I recently read a story about a young girl of middle school age who punched a boy in the eye for taking an unwarranted liberty like patting her bottom or lifting her skirt.  I forget which.  Her school principal was more concerned with her behavior than the boy’s, and she launched into a tirade about how his attitude was part of the rape culture we have always had concerning relations between men and women, and the reason her mother had taught her to punch out men who made unwelcome advances.  Several woman teachers who witnessed the event applauded.  This story was related by a very proud mother.  

I often recall from my own childhood and adolescence how bullies in various school situations would torment some particular boy, defending themselves by claiming the victims had asked for it.  I always felt horrible for saying nothing, secretly glad that the V on my own forehead didn’t shine as brightly the Vs on those boys’ foreheads seemed to.  We have talked about bullying a lot in the past few years, and how sometimes victims of bullying choose extreme measures rather face more bullying.  While there is valid reason to discuss why some victims choose such measures and some don’t, my purpose is to question the notion that any victim “asks for it” or deserves it by tradition or custom.  

I’m not an anthropologist or sociologist.  I’m not much of anything except an observer, really.  But I think what we now call a rape culture is closely aligned to what was once called le droit du seigneur.  We hear that phrase in our own time mostly in discussions of Mozart’s sublime Le Nozze di Figaro, wherein it is often defined as the right of a titled gentleman to have his way with a young lady of lesser social rank on her wedding night. I rather think that definition is quite narrow.  

History shows us that possession of wealth and rank and a penis, or any combination thereof, or even just one, has led society to grant the possessor or one or more of these the right to subjugate, humiliate, violate a person who has fewer of these things. In the case of a titled man and an untitled woman, it is the right to make a plaything of the woman, but we have seen it in many other applications.  Think of stories of conquering warriors raping and pillaging.  Think of stories of sexual abuse by any sort of power holder, economic or otherwise.  Think of 27 Wagons Full of Cotton, that play by Mr. Tennessee Williams which Mr. Elia Kazan made into the movie Baby Doll.  (Seriously.  Look it up if you’re not familiar with it.)  Think of prison rape “jokes”.  

But it is much deeper, more subtle than such obvious violations.  Most of us are fortunate enough not to have been shaped by giant events like being raped or watching as our families are murdered. We are all harmed in countless much more subtle ways that occur daily.  There are thousands of ways in which we are taught to revere and show deference to our “superiors”.  My own parents were poor farmers and industry workers in the Great Depression. They taught me that you accept whatever shit is handed to you and you get on with it. No questioning whether you deserved shit or whether the shit-bestower had the right to bestow shit.  It became far more common to seek to evaluate how you deserved the shit than to feel and express outrage at having been shat upon.  This is how most first- and second-generation immigrant families in this countries learned to think, as well as centuries-old poor farmers like my family.  We are taught to be victims. Forgive the crude metaphor, but all of this is such a norm in our society that we are forced to create such crude expressions as “rape culture”.    

Bullies/titled landowners/owners of penises might not admit it, but they see the world in the grammatical context of subject or object.  Greater or lesser.  Peer or vassal.  “American” or damned foreigner.  Attractive and less attractive.  Yes, even white or non-white.  The world is not constructed this way.  The world is constructed of subjects, if we want to continue the grammatical metaphor.  If we live in a world where SUVs the size of small houses have rear-view cameras and we can talk openly about how the economy is utterly dependent on undocumented immigrants (don’t deny it!), we are no longer barbarians.  We no longer need to subjugate anyone by physical force or humiliation.  (It’s done for us by economics, but that’s a different essay.)  

Is there a solution?  It’s not in arguing.  It’s not in political posturing.  It’s certainly not in violence.   It is surely in seeing the humanity in the other person.  I could wax poetic about this concept, but I don’t have a lot of hope for many people accepting this solution.  Humans have a lot invested in seeing someone as the “other”.  All I can say is that I hope that when the bullies/stormtroopers/Republicans come to get me because I’m old/fat/gay/intelligent/sensitive/musical/“other”, they’ll kill me fast.  

Friday, May 18, 2018

A fanastic crochet pattern

This is a crochet pattern based on the video tutorial shown. 

I want your feedback.  Please tell me if this is coherent and understandable. 




Arbor Shawl




This is based on Fiber Spider's YouTube video found here:   https://youtu.be/OngyvO2Wrk8\


This shawl is composed of leaves with ch3 spaces between.  Each leaf is made of increasing and decreasing rows of dc, with a maximum of 7 dc. 

There is a center spine, which I call the ctr dc.

I have modulized the repeating steps.

leaf beg:  3dc in dc
leaf inc:  2 dc in first and last dc of group, dc in other dcs
leaf dec:  skip first and last dc of group, dc in other dcs


dc inc:  dc, ch1, dc in same stitch
ctr dc inc:  dc, ch1, dc, ch1, dc in ctr dc






ch5, sl st to join
1.     ch 6, dc, ch3, dc, ch3, dc, ch3, dc
2.     ch 6, leaf begin in 1st dc, ch 3, dc in ctr dc, ch 3, leaf begin in next dc, ch 3, dc in 3rd ch of ch6 sp
3.     ch 6, leaf inc, ch 3, dc in ctr dc, ch 3, leaf inc, ch 3, dc in 3rd ch of ch6 sp
4.     ch 4, dc in same sp, ch 3, leaf inc, ch 3, ctr dc inc, ch 3, leaf inc, ch 3, dc inc in 3rd ch of ch6 sp
5.     ch 6, leaf begin in next dc, ch 3, leaf dec, ch 3, leaf beg in next dc, ch 3, dc in ctr dc, ch3, leaf beg in next dc, ch 3, leaf dec, ch 3, leaf beg in next dc, ch 3, dc in 3rd ch of ch4 sp
6.     ch 6, leaf inc, ch 3, leaf dec, ch 3, leaf inc, ch 3, dc in ctr dc, ch3, leaf inc, ch 3, leaf dec, ch 3, leaf inc, ch 3, dc in 3rd ch of ch6 sp






Repeat the following three rows until shawl is the size you want, ending on a row B. If your counts don’t match these counts, you’ve made a mistake somewhere.
A.   ch 4, dc in same sp, ch 3 between leaves and between leaf and ctr dc, leaf inc growing leaves (7 dc), leaf dec shrinking leaves (1 dc), ctr dc inc in ctr dc, ch 3 between leaves, leaf inc growing leaves (7 dc), leaf dec shrinking leaves (1 dc), dc inc in 3rd ch of ch6 sp
B.    ch 6, ch 3 between leaves and between leaf and ctr dc, leaf beg in every single dc, leaf inc growing leaves (3 dc), leaf dec shrinking leaves (5 dc), dc in ctr dc, ch 3 between leaves and between leaf and ctr dc, leaf beg in every single dc, leaf inc growing leaves (3 dc), leaf dec shrinking leaves (5 dc), dc in 3rd ch of ch4 sp
C.    ch 6, ch 3 between leaves and between leaf and ctr dc, leaf inc growing leaves (5 dc), leaf dec shrinking leaves (3 dc), dc in ctr dc, ch 3 between leaves and between leaf and ctr dc, leaf inc growing leaves (5 dc), leaf dec shrinking leaves (3 dc), dc in 3rd ch of ch6 sp

edging row
ch 1, 3 sc into ch3 sp
ch 3, 3 sc, ch3 in every ch 3 sp
dc3tog in every group of 3 dc
ch 1, dc3tog starting in 2nd dc, ch1 in every group of 5 dc
ch 3, 3 sc into ch3 sp, sc in ctr dc, 3sc crochet in ch3 sp, ch3 in center cluster
End with last ch3 sp, tie off