Tuesday Random Thoughts: Election Day 2016 edition.

  • There’s no point in me writing about anything for this week’s Tuesday Random Thoughts other than the election. I’ve been keeping this blog mostly apolitical over the past few months for no reason other than lack of interest in writing about political topics. Even though I have a blog that I’m trying to maintain regularly I don’t have to write about my political views to take part in politics or have political opinions. But really, over the past year I’ve had enough. Still, while I’m not going to try not to preach or get on a soapbox tonight, I’m going to limit my Random Thoughts on current events.
  • Yes, I voted for Hillary Clinton, but not because she’s the lesser of two evils. I admit that was my initial argument, and I can strongly sympathize with that stance. But if I was to make “lesser of two evils” and “the better candidate” as two points on a spectrum, in recent months I’ve been heading towards the latter side. But I’m not going into why. I’ll just leave it to the fact that I think she’s better suited for the job.
  • There were several instances, however, that I took the “lesser of two evils” approach for the referendum questions on the Maine state ballot. There were several questions that I voted yes for but I didn’t think the solution didn’t go far enough. For example, I voted yes on question number one, which dealt with legalizing marijuana in the state for recreational use. I feel that it should, but I find the laws proposed are still too restrictive. But I decided that it’s at least a step in the right direction. The same goes for raising the minimum wage. The proposed amount is still far too low, but if we don’t vote yes then it remains at the dismal amount it’s at.
  • I was going to comment on how the election is going as I write this. But damn, it’s way too close for me to give any opinions. Plus, it’s still early in the process. I will say that I’m surprised by some states, especially Texas. It seems like Clinton is winning there—although it keeps going back and forth, and I recognize that it could change after I’ve published this blog post. Still, it’s a lot closer than I expected. That’s true across the country so far. This is just way too close for comfort.
  • Throughout yesterday and today I’ve been trying to catch up on everything that I normally listen to or read in terms of podcasts, magazines or blogs that might relate to the election. I don’t want to try to consume anything written beforehand afterwards. It would just feel odd listening to a podcast about the “upcoming” election after it happens. In that way this election feels like a border. Or it could just be anal-retentiveness. Either way, I haven’t gotten much done on the screenplay. It’s unlikely I would have been able to focus on it tonight, anyway. I’ll just get back to working on it tomorrow.

Sunday List: Top five reasons I’m not watching the debate live.

l almost didn’t write a blog post tonight, partially out of laziness but also because I thought that everybody would be so busy with the presidential debate that anything that I would write would get lost in the mix. I didn’t have anything to say about the debate anyway as I had no intent to watch it. I had other things I wanted to do. Then it finally clicked that my Sunday List could tackle this topic head-on. So this week I present to you my top five reasons why I’m not watching the presidential debate.

  1. I’ve already made up my mind who to vote for. I’ll let you read back through my blog posts to give you a hint as to who it is if you really care. But my point is that this debate would not change my position one bit. It would only solidify my decision. Listening to the two top candidates spout off more sound bites might only make matters worse.
  2. There’s no reason to watch it live. Now that the information age is in full swing I don’t have the need to watch the debate as it’s happening. It doesn’t make me un-American or anything. There’s plenty of outlets online where I can watch it, or at least the highlights, tomorrow. That’s not to mention all of the coverage that the news will give it anyway. I’m sure of at least one of the podcasts that I listen to that will cover the debate.
  3. There’s no reason to watch it at all. Really, is the debate adding anything to what’s already been covered or what’s going to be covered? And like I said, we’re in the information age now so I can find out from the candidates themselves what they’re offering, or go to political pundits from both sides to get their opinions, or perhaps insiders leaking information…. The list goes on.
  4. I really can’t stand listening to Donald Trump. Never mind his bad politics, racism or misogyny. I really just find the guy really annoying. His lack of understanding as to how to say anything but word salad drives me up the wall.
  5. Despite my efforts, I’m still largely apolitical. I think this stems from the fact that while I have my views as to what would be the bet politics and the best way for society to live, I’m something of a misanthrope. So in other words I’m a socialist but I don’t really care what happens to people. Yet I’m still willing to play along with this pseudo-democratic system we have set up. Just don’t expect me to be very active in it.

Thoughts on lying; my three biggest pet peeves. #lying

Is making a declarative statement through willful ignorance of the facts lying? When a politician, say, makes a statement about immigration without checking the facts is that politician a liar? I base my answer around two premises: that the person making the statement is doing so with the knowledge that what that person is saying could be untrue; second, that the person is making the statement with dishonest intent.

In regards to the first statement, a counterpoint could be made that somebody could make a statement that they think is false when it turns out to be true. To my way of thinking this would still be considered a lie, based around my second premise. The biggest concern here is intent. If somebody is making a statement with dishonest intentions in mind, they are lying, regardless if the statement turns out to be true or not.

This relates to the age-old question of whether or not somebody is lying if they don’t say anything at all. For example, if you know information that could damage a loved one’s relationship to another loved one but you keep it to yourself to keep the relationship going. I argue that this is not lying. It is dishonest, certainly. But it all boils down to semantics. One could argue the moral implications of that dishonesty and whether they equate to those of lying or not. But my point is that lying involves presenting information (making a statement), with dishonest intent.

So what if the person makes a statement that they believe is true, but it turns out that person is wrong? Then I say: they’re just wrong. This brings me to an example that got me thinking about this subject in the first place. I don’t know why, but I suddenly remembered recently something that happened to me back in first grade, nearly thirty years ago. I said something to a classmate which turned out to be false. I thought it was true, so I wasn’t lying. I was just wrong. I didn’t want to admit that I was but I was trying to force myself to say so.

However, the little girl told on me to the teacher, saying that I was lying. I was trying to say “I wasn’t lying, I was just wrong” but the girl kept interrupting me. I only got as far as “I wasn’t lying” when she kept saying “Yes, you were.” It only made me more upset and the conversation ended up going nowhere. Fortunately, the teacher didn’t punish me for anything. I doubt she would have, but that would have only made matters worse.

This brings me to a partial shift in topic, but it relates to my above point in a way. This should come to no surprise to anybody who knows me personally, but the following are my three biggest pet peeves, in descending order.

  1. I absolutely hate when somebody interrupts me when I’m talking.
  2. Specifically, I hate when somebody interrupts me when I’m talking by responding to what they assume I’m about to say, when their assumption is wrong. This forces me to back up the conversation and waste time, as well as pissing me off.
  3. I hate being called a liar. I may not always be right, but I never lie. I don’t necessarily see this as a virtue, as arguments could be made that lying isn’t always morally wrong. Still, don’t call me what I’m not.

The second pet peeve only relates to the above example partially. But it illustrates a statement that has to do with my initial question: just as somebody who is wrong is not necessarily lying, somebody who is right could be.

Of course, I could back this up even further by asking “what is truth?” but I think I’ll leave that topic for another day… or not.

Socialism versus libertarian-ism: are they complete opposites? #politics

One of the issues that we keep hearing about in politics today (at least in America) is that of socialism versus libertarian-ism. Our politics are so polarized that those two ideologies are thrown into the debate, as if they are total opposites. However, I propose that they are not only opposing viewpoints, but in fact interdependent on each other to function efficiently.

My stance is this: you can’t have personal liberty without your social obligations in the background; likewise, you can’t have a functioning socialist system without respecting and valuing individual freedoms. The trick is to define “social obligations” and “individual freedoms,” then to strike a balance between the two.

The only thing I fear about taking this position is that to some people it may seem that I’m sitting on the fence in the whole debate. My whole point is that there’s no fence. I do have admiration for a system of checks and balances but I don’t even see this as a case of that, nor do I think this is an issue of conservatism versus liberalism. I am sick as well as concerned by the polarizing of politics in this country. But I’m suggesting that this is one issue that shouldn’t even be a subject for such polarization.

I realize that I’m leaving out a lot of definitions and references for the sake of keeping this blog post brief. This isn’t an academic paper, simply a brief statement of my own political views at the moment. Who knows? Upon further study I could change my mind. That’s what puts me on the “liberal” end of the spectrum: I’m open to change, both in myself and in the society around me. That doesn’t mean “change for change’s sake” or a complete rejection of old ideas. (I think you would find that a lot of what are considered “liberal” ideas are actually quite old in terms of human history.)

I guess I should at least make a point, if it isn’t obvious by now, that I prefer a broader use of the word “socialism.” I don’t propose that we all live in communes (although I see nothing wrong with that, if a group of people are willing). Nor do I think that socialism would completely destroy free markets. I am on the fence as to whether or not I support the free-market system, but that’s a topic for another day. I only mean to say that the type of socialism that I refer to doesn’t preclude capitalism. It just might be a little trickier to include it.

So where does this leave me with the current presidential race? I can’t really see how it addresses any of it. I would align myself with Bernie Sander’s rhetoric, but I’m not sure I completely trust him. Even if he does believe and try to enforce what he says I don’t have complete confidence that he could do the job. Besides, if I were to bet money on who would actually win the Democratic nomination I would put it on Hillary Clinton. I that case she would be the one I would have to vote for. Sure, she’s a liar and a cheat and all of the other things she’s accused of. But wouldn’t that just make her fit in? Morals (and kidding) aside, however, I think she’s the best qualified to perform the actual functions of the job. And yes, I do believe that voting for her because she’s a woman is a valid reason at this point in American history. When it really comes down to it, it would really be a matter of voting for the lesser of two evils. Looking at the candidates other side, that would be no contest.

Important issues addressed in mainstream pop fiction. #comicbooks #captainamerica

In my effort to “catch up” on things, earlier today I watched Captain America: The Winter Soldier. I don’t particularly care for Marvel properties that much these days. If I’m going into a comic book fad, I usually prefer something more “indie.” Anything Marvel just feels too mainstream and watered down, especially now that they’re owned by Disney.* However, I will say that I respect the fact that Marvel does address some pretty important social issues, and sometimes in a progressive manner. This movie in particular tackled the issue of total security versus personal freedom. Of course they had to throw in the idea that the “security” involved flying aircraft carriers that killed anybody the bad guys figured might fight them, so it became more of a “comic book” plot. Still, the topic was addressed in a pretty big way.

Therein lies the point of all of this: while something might feel too mainstream and watered down by large corporations interested in making ticket sales and selling more comic books, by addressing these issues they’re possibly affecting change by making a large fan base think. Captain America and X-Men reach a larger audience than alternative comics characters.

There’s a wide range of success and what “mainstream” actually means. But there is such a thing as pop culture entertainment that’s seen as escapism but also makes people think about the world that their living in. There have been movies made about lesser-known comic book characters as well such as Tank Girl and Ghost World, but they don’t seem to have such a lasting impact on our culture.

So is it the responsibility of these larger entertainment companies to address the important issues in order to affect change? That’s hard to say. I don’t think it’s necessarily their responsibility but it happens organically nevertheless. In order to tell a good story it must have a moral, no matter how small the issue is. In order to sell comics the moral has to be current and edgy. That doesn’t necessarily mean that people will buy the comic or go to the movie because of its moral, though. It might be because they already recognize the franchise. People will go to the latest Captain America movie because it’s Captain America. They’ll go to the next movie because of what the previous one accomplished, including said moral.

Take for example the rise in gay characters in comic books in recent years, such as several characters in the Marvel universe to Kevin Keller in Archie Comics. Is this because it’s the morally correct thing to do, or because it’s the financially correct time? In the long run, does it matter? One could argue that the latter still results in the former, which makes this a moot point.

In the end, it all comes down to how stale the issue feels by the time of the release of the movie, comic book or whatever else might be released to the public. The security versus freedom issue of Captain America: The Winter Soldier reflects a topic that’s been on the public’s consciousness for years now (although I recognize that it took a few years to make). Still, it’s a discussion that’s far from over. While it might not provide a solution or address the problem in real-world terms, the fact that it gives people food for thought has value in of itself.


*That’s not to say that I avoid everything that’s mainstream in terms of comic books, as evidenced in previous blog posts. Just the other day I picked up the first issue of the Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles crossover. The eleven year-old fanboy in me was excited.

Election day again… whoopie. #elections #voting #Maine

I just voted. I still have the same internal debate about whether or not it’s even worth the trip. However, I’m not going to rehash that conversation yet again. There’s enough points of view about the merits of democracy out there, or whether or not we even have one. To that end, I’ve stated multiple times that I’m not even convinced that democracy, even when properly implemented, is the best form of government. But, if we are going to have one and it’s going to work, I like the sound of the “Clean Elections” initiative here in Maine. The other two bond issues I didn’t have strong feelings about, nor did I even bother voting for any of the local politicians. But hey, I showed up.

As I wrote that last paragraph I realized that voting was closed so I looked up the results on said initiative. The majority of precincts have yet to report and it’s very close. At one point I look and the yes vote is winning, just a few moments later after a few more precincts have reported the slim majority is in favor of “no.” At least more people are aware of this issue these days and it’s getting on the ballot.

At the same time, am I getting so interested in the results as somebody genuinely interested in an issue or something akin to a sports fan rooting for his favorite team? My feelings for the issue weren’t that strong. I voted the way I felt but would I be terribly disappointed if the results went the other way? I probably would be at first but I’ll forget it all tomorrow.

As I left a person tried to get me to sign a petition to get marijuana legalization onto the next ballot. As I have said before, I’m all in favor of legalizing marijuana (and I wouldn’t stop at the state level). At the same time, however, once you legalize marijuana you must have laws regulating it. I was too tired to focus on the laws spelled out on the petition so I didn’t sign it tonight. Instead, I got the information from the guy so I could look it up later. I suppose, however, that legalizing it is the first step and changing the laws could come later.

I’m going to cut this blog post a bit short tonight. It’s been too long since I’ve written anything on here. I just had to write something. I’ve decided to try to come up with a better idea for my screenplay after all. No matter how hard I tried I just couldn’t make my previous idea work. I mean, it could work, but it was boring. I’m not putting the project off; once I started writing out the dialogue I realized that it was awful. I’ll try to stick to something a little more fantastic and weird this nest time. That’s what I seem to do best.

How I Learned to Stop Worring and Love the Blog. #blogging #writing

The reason I’ve been so quiet over the past few days isn’t laziness but that I’m starting to rethink this blog—yes, I know, again. While I don’t want to shy away from “controversial” topics in the realm of politics, religion and other social issues, I haven’t come up with anything lately. I’ve been kicking myself for not coming up with a topic every day as a result. As I have said before, once I think of a subject for a blog post writing it out is the easy part. More time is spent on thinking about what I want to say than actually saying it. On principle this is fine, however it’s taking so long now that I often run out of time to write the damn thing.

A few year ago I switched styles to the one I’m talking about. Originally this blog was my diary of each day written in usually three, non-connected paragraphs talking about the most mundane aspects of my life. As I got more comfortable writing the blog I decided I was boring myself so I made the switch. But now I wonder: what if I mixed the two styles? What if I go back to making this blog a diary, in a sense? The primary difference i that now that I am more comfortable writing about concepts and not just listing events, I can sprinkle insights throughout that diary a lot more frequently and fluidly.

The only thing that makes me hesitate is that topical posts seem to draw readers to my blog. It looks like using hashtags in the title work. I still could use them, I suppose, but it might look messy. I guess that’s one thing I would only find out by playing with it.

When I started this blog the whole point was that this was my (almost) daily writing practice. To that end I wrote six times a week without caring how interesting each blog post was. I only did this in blog form because I knew that if I published online I would have more incentive to keep it up each day. I didn’t expect to have readers back then. I didn’t have that many, but they were regular. Then I switched formats and gained some readers, but because I didn’t particularly promote myself I only gained a few. Then I switched sites and suddenly I got a lot more.

I appreciate all of the views and subscribers. But this blog is still meant to be my daily writing practice. I’m going to have to start integrating the old style into the new. As such I guess this blog is going to be a lot more representative of what’s in my mind—lucky you.

One of the reasons I started avoiding writing about politics and religion lately is that I didn’t want to become one of the people who were annoying online. I have several friends on Facebook that keep posting right-wing political nonsense and it was really getting to me. Friday night I got so pissed off that I had to “unfollow” several of those friends. They’re still on my Friends List but I no longer see what they post. Maybe this is a lesson to not get onto Facebook after watching Doctor Strangelove or: How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. I’ve calmed down since and I make no promises I won’t be that person from time to time on this blog. But I need to cut back just for my own sake.