Wish upon a year

You tell ’em, Calvin! (And Bill Watterson, I still miss you!) Image found on Entropy.

Longtime readers know I don’t make New Year’s resolutions. I make more than enough promises to myself that I don’t keep already.

I do, however, have hopes for a few things to happen in the new year.

🤔 A return of common sense. In a rational world, experts in particular subject areas are heeded because they’ve dedicated their lives to studying those things; they’ve put in the hard work needed to become economists, doctors, attorneys, or whatever else. Now, however, apparently all it takes is a social media account and gullible followers to become an “expert” and get people to believe dangerous and insane things about the world. (If I hear one more person try to palm off QAnon and other strange conspiracy theories as truth, I may explode.)

Don’t ever get sucked into a QAnon Twitter thread. You won’t escape with your sanity or any hope for the human race. Image by Matt Rourke, The Associated Press, found on Concord Monitor.

There are people dead due to covid who would probably still be alive now had they listened to the actual experts (raw data alone isn’t enough if you have no way of accurately interpreting that data; especially if it hasn’t been verified like what’s on VAERS; that’s why epidemiology is best left to epidemiologists). Common sense tells us that most of the time the experts know what they’re talking about in their particular area of expertise, and if they’re wrong, they’ll admit it. The people who never admit they’re wrong are the ones you should ignore.

People also seem to have lost the ability to see cause and effect, especially as concerns their own actions. Even if they didn’t learn about it in school, they should have been able to see it in their own lives while growing up (if you taunt the cat, the cat will react, often in a bloody fashion, so the lesson is don’t be an ass to the cat or anyone else, not that cats are evil). Little things like this should be common sense, but apparently aren’t anymore.

Sure, sounds accurate. Image found on Bored Panda.

😒 The disappearance of spite. Oh, how I miss the days when people would simply do as they’re asked for the good of all. Instead, now we have people who insist on breaking rules made for everyone. While some may say it’s because their rights are being infringed upon (they’re really not), in too many cases, it’s really because of spite. A politician or writer they hate—or worse, the CDC—recommends masks? Ha! They’ll show them, and for good measure, they’ll cough on a bunch of people and troll the CDC’s social media while they’re at it!

Are we 3 years old? Grow up. We live in a society where everyone has to do their part for the whole to succeed. That means cooperating with public health measures, for example, instead of throwing tantrums like an attention-starved brat and/or making laws to keep public health authorities from doing their jobs.

I dunno. I’d prefer Veruca Salt to some of these jackholes. Image found on reddit.

Some researchers have attributed the Jan. 6 Capitol attack at least partially to the infectious nature of spite. In constructing a model for how spite spreads, Northeastern’s Christoph Reidl and Rory Smead found, according to News@Northeastern, that “spiteful agents targeted non-spiteful players, draining their resources so the spiteful agents looked better in comparison. This resulted in the initially non-spiteful agents realizing they were worse off and perpetuating the spite to get ahead. Researchers found that it continued to spread until there were no cooperative players left.”

Smead noted, “Spite is a net loss for everybody, but it changes the relative standings of individuals.” That perceived relative advantage makes spite spread further, especially in politics. “Politics is often a zero-sum game. In order for you to win, the other guy has to lose. Certain politicians may view these political interactions as situations in which cooperation is not possible—situations in which they might be willing to pay costs in order to make sure the other side suffers even more. It’s those relative tradeoffs where spite finds a home.”

And spite leads to Twitter tantrums and other juvenile antics, all because the other guy won.

But it was just a normal tourist visit, right? I mean, that’s what they keep telling us. Image by Leah Millis, Reuters.

And good Lord, “Let’s go Brandon”? This, from the people who brought you protests against Nike, Keurig, Yeti and others by BUYING THE PRODUCTS (thus helping the companies’ bottom line) and burning or otherwise destroying them on camera so they could get likes. Protests are supposed to make sense, and this only makes sense if you’re a 13-year-old guy whose parents took away his PS5 … and really, not even then.

📰 A resurgence of responsible media. We’ve spent too much of the past couple of decades watching cable “news” that isn’t news for the most part, but opinion. (Full disclosure: I have worked in TV news, and I’ve worked on both sides, news and opinion, in print news. I haven’t had cable for years, and the growth of punditry on “news” channels is one reason.)

If only more people felt like this about newspapers today. Image from Woodward and Bernstein exhibit at the Harry Ransom Center.

People have come to identify news sources as reliable only if they print or broadcast things with which they agree, regardless of whether those things are truthful, and much of the time it appears they’re no longer able to tell the difference between news and opinion. Local newspapers have suffered the brunt of the anger toward news media in general, even though their editorial and news coverage decisions have little to nothing to do with what’s being done by the national media, and in most cases, the editorial and news functions of newspapers are separate from each other.

Support local newspapers, because without them shining a light on government actions, corruption can flourish. Too many newspapers have closed down in recent years because of a politicized environment that’s grown too harsh to truth. That has to turn around.

Great idea, but if we can’t get an eyeroll emoji in the reaction bar, this is even less likely. Image found on Pinterest.

🛫 That politics takes a vacation. Politics has infected far too much of our lives, and to our detriment. What’s worse, we attribute to state party members exactly the same beliefs as those in D.C., which means that in some places, it’s hard for them to get elected no matter how wise and hardworking they are because all people see is the letter after their name on the ballot. I can’t tell you how many people I personally know who should have been elected and weren’t because of blind politics; some are still sticking in there and fighting the good fight (because winning isn’t the point; helping others is), but too many have been discouraged by the hostility they’ve received, not because of their qualifications, but because of the party they’ve been associated with (or not, in at least one case I know of).

Let’s get back to the idea of electing people, not parties. If all you’re interested in is keeping your party in power because the other side is evil and has cooties, perhaps reconsider your goals. Why not vote for the person who has actual workable ideas that would help most constituents rather than the person whose main purpose is to throw a wrench in the works? Shaking things up is fine, and can be a good thing, but it can’t and shouldn’t be the only thing. We should value public service over politics; if we did, we’d have fewer people like Marjorie Taylor Greene in office.

👹 An end to portraying issues as something they’re not. Too many people have taken legitimate issues and broadened or narrowed their definitions so much that they’re meaningless. Critical race theory is a mostly graduate-level university course on the legal codification of racism. It isn’t history courses in primary and secondary schools that include sections on slavery, discrimination, voting rights and the like (that’s called history, which is all the parts, not just what makes you comfortable).

The full story helps us better understand. Cartoon by Benjamin Slyngstad found on imgur.

Thanks to Christopher Rufo and others, CRT has been made to mean anything with which they disagree. As Laura Meckler and Josh Dawsey wrote in The Washington Post, “Progressives see racial disparities in education, policing and economics as a result of racism. Conservatives say analyzing these issues through a racial lens is, in and of itself, racist. Where one side sees a reckoning with America’s past and present sins, another sees a misguided effort to teach children to hate America.”

Rufo has been open about his intentions, and posted on Twitter in March: “We have successfully frozen their brand—’critical race theory’—into the public conversation and are steadily driving up negative perceptions. We will eventually turn it toxic, as we put all of the various cultural insanities under that brand category. … The goal is to have the public read something crazy in the newspaper and immediately think ‘critical race theory.’ We have decodified the term and will recodify it to annex the entire range of cultural constructions that are unpopular with Americans.”

Because actual education isn’t important; making someone believe a lie is. If someone starts raving about critical race theory, try asking them what it is; most only know what they’ve been told by people like Rufo.

Apparently some people want to go back to this … maybe clothes-hanger manufacturers? Editorial cartoon by Clay Bennett, Chattanooga Times-Free Press.

Likewise, abortion isn’t indiscriminate killing of fully formed babies as a form of birth control, but usually a very serious decision made with much thought in consultation with a doctor. The bulk of abortions are performed in the first trimester, and the reasons why really aren’t the business of anyone but the women and their doctors; still, the percentage of women who view it as “birth control” is vanishingly small. Later abortions tend to be as the result of critical health issues for the mother, child or both; if you really think that someone who has an abortion at six or seven months is using it as birth control, you need to get in touch with reality. Women pregnant for that long have usually formed a bond, and are fully expecting to deliver; sometimes, though, a crisis makes that impossible.

There’s also the fact that men’s responsibilities aren’t even mentioned. In all the rhetoric about what women need to do in regard to abortion, few mention that pregnancy isn’t exactly immaculate conception. A man is responsible for getting a woman pregnant, yet women bear the brunt of the responsibility, blame and punishment? How does that make sense?

Whatever the issue, it should debated in good faith, without all the political baggage often larded on.

All these things make me very cranky. I’m not that fun when I’m cranky.

Out of the box, kitty. It’s my turn. Image found on CatLadyLand.

There are other things I’d like to see as well in the new year … I mean, besides the new Doctor Who with Russell Davies back as showrunner, which won’t be until November 2023 (why????); the last few specials with Jodie Whittaker will have to hold me till then.

In the meantime, how about:

🍫 Chocolate without calories. It’s the ultimate comfort food, but those extra pounds aren’t comforting. C’mon!

😆 Nonpolitical humor. If that means it’s mostly cat memes from now on, I’m OK with that.

😻 More visits from Boo the Warehouse Cat. He tends to show up on the weekends and when he senses I need a little extra comfort. Plus, he knows I’m a soft touch and keep some wet food by the door just for him.

💰 A big sack o’ money. I’m not likely to get rich any other way.

I’m always happy to see Boo.