The Schism of Gen X

So there was a convo on FB that started off about how “Karen” ended up being the name all over the internet, from this definition:

WHAT DOES KAREN MEAN?
Karen is a mocking slang term for an entitled, obnoxious, middle-aged white woman. Especially as featured in memes, Karen is generally stereotyped as having a blonde bob haircut, asking to speak to retail and restaurant managers to voice complaints or make demands, and being a nagging, often divorced mother from Generation X.

Which steered the thread to a discussion about Gen X and how there seems to be different kinds of Gen Xers – to which I absolutely agree. I was not called a Karen, it was just the start of the discussion. Here’s what I said (slight edits for clarity):

As an elder Gen Xer (b 1965) raised by Silent Generation (b/t Depression and WWII) parents (NOT Boomers), I can tell you that there is ABSOLUTELY a schism in Gen Xers. There are ones like me, who were not precisely early adopters of the internet, but whole heartedly adopted in the mid 90s. BBS and chat rooms, OH MY! Those of us who got into tech in the 90s are VERY different animals than those who eschewed tech and lagged behind until FB made them feel like they “finally” understood the internet (LOL x 100).

The ONLY people I have contact with from my generation growing up are those who are technically adept. Why? Because those of us who kept up tend to be FAR FAR more knowledgeable about the world in general because we have used the internet for decades and understand how to do searches, how to spot FAKE shit and how to filter our shit to find the TRUTH.

Those of us who have been online since the 90s understand how to use the power of the internet to LEARN things and broaden our horizons. AND talk to people from EVERYWHERE. Those GenXers who went off to breed and had little to nothing to do with technology, were left behind in SO many ways. And the irritating part is that they can’t even understand how left behind they are. Hence so many of them being fucking MAGAts. They don’t even know how little they know. And by the gods, no one can tell them anything, either, because if it doesn’t line up with their ideals readily, then it MUST be that the internet (aka the whole world) is just trying to trick them. (Because the internet is big and scary!!)

I resent being put in the same category as the idiot GenXers who know nothing about that there internet or them there smart phones.

THAT IS NOT ME. Nor is it any of MY GenX friends.

There ARE two kinds of GenXers. Absolutely. The smart ones and the left behind ones – regardless of where they fall within the dates (1965-1980). I am old, yes, but I am a tech savvy NERD. FEAR ME, young ‘uns, I’ll dox the FUCK out of you. And: get off my fucking lawn. LOL :D

Pandemic 2020

I feel I need to write a post about this debacle – even tho it’s in the second peak and (hopefully) decline. Covid-19 is a beast and a very nasty strain of flu/SARS. I’m not worried about getting it since I’ve got a VERY robust immune system, however, I might be a carrier. Who knows? There are no tests in this country, which is why 100,000 people are dead with more to come. No tests, no way to track, NOTHING. And things are opening back up. Bad idea.

Since March, we’ve been locked down. It is almost June. It sucks. I get that, but opening up now (as they did in 1918) will cause a huge second wave.

My catering stopped the first week in March. Nick’s job staggered on for a few weeks, then it stopped, too. We were very concerned about money, naturally, since we’d drained our backups for the bankruptcy. (At least the bankruptcy is going through and we are out from under the $60k business debts.)

We got the $1200/ea stimulus ($2400), which would cover us for about a month. The politicians thought this money would cover 10 weeks. LOL of course they did, rich fucks that they are. They think bread is 25¢ a loaf and rent is $150/mo because they’ve not paid a bill themselves in 60 years (they have accountants for that).

Luckily, Nick’s boss filed for his unemployment and he’s been getting that plus the $600/wk pandemic money. It’s all we’ve got. I applied for the “gig workers” PUA (Pandemic Unemployment Assistance), which has still yielded nothing. [UPDATE: as of the end of May, I finally got the back pay for UI and PUA, which was over $7k hitting the bank account. We are happy to have it, because PUA (the $600/wk) is about to end and who knows when our work will come back.]

Since this country is led by a moron and his hillbilly followers all think the pandemic is a hoax, the US has been hit harder than other countries. The MAGAts think that wearing a mask is unconstitutional and infringing on their rights, so the spread of Covid-19 is still going. Opening up businesses and public places is going to ramp up the victim count again, but hey, it’s just us peasants, right? It’s more important to let people do what they want, when they want, in any fashion they want than trying to stem the spread of Covid-19, right? Sure it is. Because 3% is acceptable losses to keep the stock market strong! Just ask the rich fuckers like the illustrious fucknut in chief.

I wear a mask when out to protect others, not myself. I have no idea if I am a carrier or not since there are no tests. I might be? Since I never get sick, I might’ve picked up Covid-19 and not had any symptoms. THAT is the problem with this strain of flu/SARS! It is very sneaky and very virulent if someone wins the shit lottery and gets it just the right way. Plenty of people have had it and survived – even Nick’s brother in law did, and he’s not in particularly excellent health. BUT many younger people who are healthy get it and die just out of shit luck. SO. It’s best to err on the side of caution.

This country is a shit show. It is led by an idiot. And that idiot will get re-elected by his legion of hillbillies. In the meantime, nothing is happening: no cons, no concerts, no movies, no sports, no large gatherings. BUT you can go swimming at the local pool and you can go shopping at Ross and nevermind wearing a mask, only losers do THAT. Yup. Merika.

And that’s all I have to say about the Pandemic. We’ll survive, but this shitty country may not. And I’m OK with that. We got passports and an exit strategy.

VGER

Voyager 2 Probe courtesy NASA JPL

Most of the people who are my acquaintances will know what that means. VGER.

Voyager 2 Probe courtesy NASA JPL
“Now voyager sail thou forth to seek and find.”


Yesterday, February 7, 2020, the Voyager 2 probe that has been inactive for a few weeks, was reactivated. Something happened in January and it shut down and NASA’s JPL (Jet Propulsion Lab) was unsure it would ever reactivate. Fortunately the geniuses at the JPL did get it going and it is sending telemetry once again. Brilliant! Here is the story on Inverse.

I get very emotional when I talk about space exploration. I cried when we got telemetry from Saturn’s rings. I cried today when Voyager 2 was reactivated. It is stunning that in my lifetime space exploration was begun by going to the moon and now we have a probe 11.6B miles from earth sending us info. It’s even more stunning that we can watch live telemetry IN OUR HANDS on a phone. I watched the SpaceX capsule test the other day, LIVE. If you aren’t moved by these things, I don’t know what to tell you. This is mankind’s entry into space. The final frontier.

All this brings me to my reason for this post, which is: VGER. I am a huge Star Trek nerd. I have Vulcan tattoos on my forearms. I was angry about the idiotic Klingons in Discovery and their mangling of the Klingon language. I can talk to you about ship design. I believe that we are not the only sentient beings. There is simply too many galaxies out there for this to be true. Even if EACH galaxy only has one habitable planet, that is still myriad possible species.

I was not a Trek nerd until my 20s. However, around 1980 or 81, I saw Star Trek: The Motion Picture late at night on Home Box Office, as it was called when it was new. (My family are luddites, but by the gods, they’ve always been cutting edge when it comes to TV. The cable company had to run a line to the house when they wanted to get cable!)

This movie was my entré into sci-fi. Yeah, it’s not a great movie, but that didn’t matter. It caught my imagination. It made me think: WHAT IF? What IF the Voyager probe gained sentience? I was fascinated with this and I’ve watched that movie so many times over the years, still pondering the WHAT IF? I saw a few of the Trek films in the theatre during the 80s/90s, but I didn’t fully realise my nerdom until I was introduced to TNG (ST The Next Generation series). I never cared for TOS (original series Trek), but I liked the movies. THEN I found TNG and fell in love all over again. I’m currently entranced with the movie Passengers and the notion of long term space travel that takes 100 years. I think this will be how it’s done before we figure out how to bend space time and/or create warp drive. (YES I think this is possible.)

Over the years, I have become a huge Trek and space exploration nerd. Which brings me back to the emotions I have for SpaceX, the Voyager probes and all the NASA/JPL projects. I hate that the United States has fallen so far into disarray that we can’t even run a proper space program any more, but I’m grateful that Elon Musk has taken the task himself. He realised that the US simply did not have the will to bother with space any longer (because building a racist wall is FAR more important!), and he has the money to finance himself. Boom! There we go: space exploration once again. Thank you Mr Musk, humanity owes you a lot.

I believe that space IS the final frontier. And I believe we’ll get out there one day. And I believe we’ll meet our distant neighbors. I just hope we are not assholes to them. LOL

Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its continuing mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no one has gone before

I’m sad that I won’t live to see all this, but I can dream, I can watch Trek and I can follow what little space news there is to follow. I hope future generations will get their heads out their asses and go forth into the universe. Live long and prosper.

Progressive Capitalism Could Be Our Savior

I’m reading an article about Progressive Capitalism on marketwatch.com. It is a well written article by Joseph E. Stiglitz about neoliberalism’s long term effects and how progressive capitalism could end the decline we’ve been suffering for the last 40 years.

Neoliberalism is the idea that deregulation and trickle down economics will sustain the whole economy and bring prosperity to everyone. It was put forth by Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher in the 80s and it is the driving force behind the economic decline of the US as well as the UK (and Europe in general). It is obvious that trickle down economics does not work and allowing the private sector to self regulate is folly.

The rise of megacorporations and oligopolies that control pricing and have zero competition has brought us high priced and low quality cell services and broadband. It has also brought us outrageously overpriced healthcare that is not sustainable by any stretch – and people are dying because of it.

The U.S., after all, stands alone among developed countries in not recognizing health care as a basic human right. Ironically, while the U.S. spends more on health care — both per capita and as a share of gross domestic product — than any other developed country, its predominantly private system delivers worse outcomes. U.S. life expectancy is barely higher than that of Costa Rica, a middle-income country with one-fifth the per capita GDP of America.

I agree with this statement 100%. It is crystal clear that the private corporation driven healthcare system we have does not work. Yet, it is all we will get as long as insurance corporations and big pharma control the government with lobbying dollars.

The Trump presidency has reminded us that such checks are indispensable for the proper functioning of democracy. But it has also exposed the limits of existing institutions (such as the Electoral College, through which the president is chosen, and the Senate, where a small state like Wyoming, with fewer than 600,000 people, has the same vote as California, with nearly 40 million), underscoring the need for structural political reform.

I’ve said for years that the dismantling of the checks and balances of our government will end in chaos. It’s happening. I’ve also said that the Electoral College should be eliminated completely. It is unnecessary and it is an anachronism. We have the technology to count the votes, so let’s count them. I, for one, am sick to death of having the POTUS installed despite NOT winning the popular vote. This is a huge red flag! Yet, this is what we get as long as fascists are in charge. Fascists love this system because it works for them.

At stake in both America and Europe is our shared prosperity and the future of representative democracy. The explosion of public discontent across the West in recent years reflects a growing sense of economic and in political powerlessness on the part of citizens, who are seeing their chances of having a middle-class life evaporate before their eyes.

Yes, indeed, we’ve watched our chance at a middle class life evaporate. We are currently living at poverty levels. If it weren’t for the credit card debt we’ve run up (about $50k), we’d be homeless right now. We are middle aged people who get jobs making $17/hr. This is seriously fucked up. I see jobs for $12/hr with requirements for a college degree all day long on the job sites. This is how far the economy has fallen. You’re expected to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for a college degree, then you’re looking at a $12/hr job. How is this even reasonable?? It is NOT. But the whacked out economy with corporations running amok is how we got here. It is the race to the bottom and it is not coming, it is happening. Right before our eyes. We know, we’re living it. We will never retire. There’ll be no Social Security and we have no retirement savings, thanks to using it to start a business, which is the only way we’ll make enough money to pay our debts and keep a roof over our heads. Even with BOTH of us working full time at $17/hr, we’ll barely keep our heads above water. At least with our own company we can make enough to stay afloat and maybe, if we’re REALLY LUCKY, manage to save a little for retirement when we’re too broken to work any more. The Boomers never had to face these sorts of decisions. They got their fat stacks and they tell us to fuck off.

We have conducted a 40-year experiment with neoliberalism. The evidence is in, and by any measure, it has failed. And by the most important measure — the well being of ordinary citizens — it has failed miserably.

Yes, yes it has failed miserably. We are middle aged and broke. We have $50k of CC debt at 25% interest. We have shitty job opportunities. Hell, I can’t even FIND a job. At least Nick found something, but I’m here to tell you that we CANNOT live on $34k before taxes.

We are pretty much forced to pursue this pub concept. It is literally the only way we’ll be able to avoid bankruptcy.

So, I say bring on the progressive capitalism. We need to do something before we are all living in the streets while the top .01% eat cake. And let’s kick out the fascists while we’re at it.

Synagogue Shooting and Ignorance

Y’all know I’ve got no love for E TN or the red South in general, but since the synagogue shooting, I’ve been reminded of something from elementary school.

I have no idea why, but we had a whole section of a year where we studied Judaism. Like a few weeks. We studied all about the faith, we did crafts (I made a Jewish star handkerchief – wish I still had it!) and had a menorah and everything. All this in racist E TN! I’ve always been shocked to hear of the racism towards Jews, I guess because I studied Judaism when I was young. To me, it’s always been just another religion (although I know it’s MUCH more than that to the Tribe).

While I’ll never know the subtleties of Judaism, I know the main tenets and I enjoyed learning about it as a kid. I wish my Jewish friends Shanah Tovah and Happy Hannukah – I even know what “sitting shiva” means.

So, once AGAIN, I assert that if kids are taught about different religions and different cultures and different foods when they are young, they’ll be a LOT less likely to be an ignorant racist hillbilly when they grow up. Knowledge is power and knowledge also erases fear of the unknown…because you know things. Lots of things are scary if you don’t understand them! I credit a lot of my fearlessness to being an information junkie.

America has allowed its citizenry to fall into ignorance in a very widespread way. The public school system is failing to teach, well, ANYTHING that I can discern. This failure of a core system is the very thing that has led to the hateful, ignorant masses who are afraid of everyone because they are so horribly incapable of logical thought and they’ve been taught nothing about history. If you don’t know what fascism is, it’s hard to see it.

When you are raised in a 10 mile radius and never step outside your peers and don’t have the intellect to read about other views, you’ll be an ignorant hillbilly. Plain and simple.

The public school system has failed. It is nothing more than a babysitter that teaches how to take a multiple choice test. The dropout rate in the US is only surpassed by five other developed countries! (2015 article from PBS.) And I say that no matter the rates, kids are NOT getting a well rounded, UNBIASED education in the first place.

And again, I must point to college as the answer to the insufficient primary/secondary school offered by the government. While I don’t feel that college is for everyone and the trades are VERY valuable, I do feel that college can fill in many holes left by half assed government education. Private schools are not accessible to most of the population, which is why I think that government schools should be held to higher standards. And I DON’T mean standardized tests, which are 100% bullshit.

The ESSA law signed in by Obama in 2015 is carrying on the No Child Left Behind act that came before it. At least he tried.

I truly feel sorry for the masses who send their kids to school, assuming they are being taught basic history, reading comprehension, mathematics, art and literature. They are not. They are being taught that the Native Americans “chose to move” to allow for white settlement. They graduate High School reading at a fifth grade level. They are taught fucked up “new math” that makes no sense. Art and music classes were cut long ago. Literature is barely skimmed.

College classes are the only cure available for the lack of education in primary and secondary schools. And college is out of reach for most kids nowadays. And, I’m sad to say, even colleges have succumbed to standardized testing.

Which is why we are a country full of ignorant, uneducated hillbillies. We’ve allowed this to happen. We can stop it, but it won’t be easy. All we can do is VOTE against ignorance and RESIST letting the mob of hillbillies rule this country.

Don’t think for an instant that a synagogue shooting has nothing to do with you. And don’t think that sending troops to the border to shoot people who throw rocks has nothing to do with you, either. These are fascist acts. Don’t wait until the jackboot is on YOUR throat. Because it will be if the majority (hillbillies) keep their Cheeto in office. Those who oppose him and his MAGAts will be next. That means you and me. It’s not just Jews and women. It will be anyone who dares to vote blue. This is how fascism starts. #RESIST