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SQL for SCOTUS*

SELECT
     Intelligence,
     Knowledge_of_Law,
     Dignity,
     Determination AS GRIT,
     Strength      AS RESOLVE,
     Empathy,
     Insight
FROM
     SCOTUS_Requirements
INNER JOIN
     Virtues
LEFT JOIN
     Womens_Rights
LEFT JOIN
     Equal_Treatment
WHERE
    Moniker  = 'Notorious'
AND Initials = 'RGB';

 

 

 


*Yes, yes, I know this isn’t strict SQL.
Poetic license and all.

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If you don’t mind, I’ll take a break from past ruminations on third-party voting, COVID, and the goals of liberalism, and instead will recommend to you something that has given us hours of distraction and enjoyment through 2020’s interminable summer.

As you might have guessed from this post’s headline, it’s a game. Of sorts.

It’s not a classic board game—you can only play it once and there is no board—and it’s not an “escape room” type game, either. Rather, it’s a mashup of puzzles and ciphers, clues and characters, documents and artifacts, all wrapped in a murder mystery for you to solve in a month-by-month collection of physical and virtual communication.

It is Hunt-A-Killer, and it is a ton of fun.

(more…)

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Socialist! Anarchist! Traitor!

The list of what I am (according to the Opposition) goes on, but those are the highlights. Frankly, I don’t see it, but what can I do?

One thing I can do is be up-front about what it is I want for America. If that paints me as an anarcho-socialist , I’ll have to own it.

So, here we go: one liberal’s manifesto, in 1,000 words.

Health Care

I want you to be able to go to the doctor when you’re ill. Simple as that. I want you to be able to see a physician whether or not you’re currently employed or can afford the cost. You shouldn’t suffer (or die) because you’re poor or because you don’t have a job. I want an alternative to employer-provided healthcare because (A) some employers are dicks and don’t provide healthcare or a wage high enough to afford it, (or both) and (B) if you get laid off or you’re too ill to work or, hell, I don’t know, there’s a pandemic and your businesses shuts down, I don’t want you to lose that healthcare.

There are many ways to achieve this, but this is the goal:

You should be able to go to the doctor when you’re sick.

Racial Justice

I want you to be treated equally, regardless of what you look like, what you worship, or who you love. And you certainly shouldn’t fear for your life whenever you interact with the law enforcement. Anything counter to that goal is counter to equality, which is counter to basic American tenets. Privately, you may harbor any prejudices and bigotries you want. You can even gather with like-minded friends and complain loud and long about the inferiority of others. You can even worship a god that encourages this bigotry. Go ahead. Knock yourself out. Just keep it in your basement, your garage, your private venue, because out here, in public, we should all be treated equally.

Again, many things must change to move us in this direction—policing reforms, help for historically disadvantaged communities, redrawing gerrymandered districts—but this is the goal:

You and I (and he and she and they) are all equal in our citizenship, and should be treated equally by government and by public businesses.

Economy

I want your job to pay you enough to live on. That means I think even an entry-level full-time job should pay you at least enough to cover food and shelter. It might be ramen and refritos in an apartment with a roommate (or two), but it should be enough. You shouldn’t have to apply for food stamps if you’re a full-time employee. You shouldn’t have choose between food, medications, or heat if you’re working full-time.

I want your job to be safe. That means businesses should treat employees, customers, and neighbors kindly, and not harm their health or financial well-being. Since business has proven that, given the chance, it’ll screw over anything, from employees to creditors to the environment, they need to be regulated. This does make it harder for businesses to turn profits, but profit should not cost human lives. If you can’t turn a profit without harming people, then I think we can live without what you’re selling.

There’s a lot packed into those paragraphs, but this is the goal:

Your job should (A) pay you a sufficient wage, and (B) not hurt you, your family, your town, or the world.

Science and Facts

I want you to know that government policies are based on facts. Climate change, pandemics, food safety, clean water and air, the policies on these topics need a strong foundation in science. Yes, scientific consensus is sometimes a moving target, especially as regards emerging threats, but it’s well-proven that ignoring science is a Bad Idea. And yes, there are other, non-science factors to be weighed, but if we’re clear on the facts, we can see the trade-offs that policy makers make. Denying scientific consensus, denying factual evidence, degrades our trust and encourages bad decisions that end up hurting us all.

This isn’t really a policy thing; it’s a people thing, in that it’s people who make policies, but this is the goal:

You should be able to trust that science-based policies are, in fact, based on science.

Taxes

I want you to know that everyone pays their fair share of taxes. We all rely on the same public works, from utilities to military to roads to schools and beyond. You may not have kids in school, but you rely on kids who went to school. You may never have had to call the fire department, but you sure as hell want them there if you need them. These are paid for with taxes, and whether you make minimum wage or you make millions, you rely on these things, so you should pay for them. How much? Well, at the low end, you may not be able to afford anything, as all your income goes to necessities. That’s okay, because there are lots of us who can afford it. But, most often, it’s those who can afford it most who pay the least, and this is neither fair nor just. The trickle-down economic theory that has justified this situation for decades has proven itself false and should be scrapped.

If anything, this is the part that will strike many as “socialism,” but this is the goal:

Your tax rate shouldn’t be higher than a billionaire’s.


That’s it. That’s my (brief) manifesto. For my life, I don’t understand why everyone doesn’t share these goals (except for billionaires who don’t like taxes . . . I get that part. Tough.). These aren’t “radical left” ideas. They’re ideas that have been around for a long time, many of which were actual Republican policy in past decades.

But, if after reading the goals above, you still think I’m some sort of anarcho-socialist monster out to destroy the suburbs and defile the American Way, I don’t think I’ll be comfortable with your goals, either.

k

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Ordinarily, I try to avoid confrontation. Last week’s post, therefore, was out of the ordinary, and indeed, it did give rise to a few confrontations. Most were from expected quarters, but there were a few surprises. The conversations it engendered, though generally civil, were at times tense, and they definitely raised my anxiety level to DEFCON 3.

That, however, wasn’t what upset me the most. No, what had me flirting with DEFCON 2 was something entirely unexpected.

We were invited to a barbecue.

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If Trump is your first choice, keep scrolling.
If Biden is your first choice, keep scrolling.

If, however, you find yourself in some middle ground, unhappy with either choice and thinking of giving your vote to a third-party candidate, writing in a name, or not voting at all, let’s talk.

The phrase I hear most often from people in this situation is, “I’m going to vote my conscience.” This is a laudable sentiment. Our conscience should factor into our choice of elected officials. Our ideals and our precepts of morality and good governance, these are important elements in a decision this consequential. After all, the actions of the person elected to be our president will affect us all, be it for good or for ill.

So let’s talk about our conscience.

What is our conscience telling us? What is it really telling us?

Obviously, it’s unsatisfied with either of the two major candidates. This one’s too radical (or not radical enough), and the other is too destructive. Too much change. Not enough change. Too boring. Too not boring. In short, we’re frustrated because neither candidate is what we really want, and that third-party (or write-in) candidate is a much closer fit.

Or, perhaps our conscience is just so fed up with the two established parties—both so entrenched and hidebound, both so habituated to finger-pointing and obfuscation—that voting for a third-party candidate (or sitting the election out altogether) seems the only way to register our anger and disapproval for the established two-party system.

Sound about right? Yeah, but I think our conscience is also telling us something else, something we’re not hearing because those other, top-of-mind aspects are too loud. If we push those to the side a bit, try to mute them, I think we might hear the other thing, the small but nagging truth our conscience is whispering in our ear:

We’re in trouble.

Deep, deep trouble.

Our conscience knows, without question, that where we are, as people and as a nation, is a bad place, and that where we’re headed (should the incumbent be given another term) will at best be more of the same chaotic slide into ignominy, and may quite likely be worse. Our conscience knows that despite any perceived boons from this administration, on balance, regular folk are suffering mightily. Our conscience knows that America is less respected, our reputation has been tarnished, and our economy and security eroded.

Our conscience also knows, at its core, what we need to do. We need to band together, unite around a common cause, face a common foe, just as we’ve done before when, as people and as a nation, we faced a Depression, two world wars, and other national crises.

So, as satisfying as that protest vote would feel, as attractive as that third-party candidate might appear, our conscience knows that we need to be smart, to see the larger picture, and form an unbeatable coalition by combining our votes to defeat Trump. We cannot afford the risk of four more years of this. We need to vote the incumbent out.

Let’s work together, let’s help one another survive, as people and as a nation.

Let’s join forces, combine our votes for Biden, so we can tell Trump “You’re fired.”

For the good of everyone.

k

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Well, we’re in it, now, aren’t we? I’m talking about Election Season, of course, and it’s pretty clear that it’s time to fasten our seatbelts.

As we prepare for this long, bumpy night to November 3rd, though, let’s not forget the most important Social Media Commandment:

Thou Shalt Not Get Played.

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As some know, and as others have pieced together, we’ve had a death in the family. On July 15th, my brother shot and killed himself. He was 53 years old.

What followed that event was a very emotional and trying few weeks. The family has had to deal with many issues, official as well as personal. Aside from the shock, anger, frustration, and knife-edged grief, we’ve also had to handle the myriad requirements of police, medical examiners, lawyers, funeral directors, newspapers, social media, and professional organizations. We’ve also been trying to hold each other together, comfort one another, and to keep ourselves from falling into the same black hole of depression that my brother fought for so many years.

It hasn’t been easy. (more…)

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