Thursday, October 22, 2015

Is the world becoming more chaotic?

If so, can we stop it?

Because the population continues to increase around the globe, we're creating more crazy people than ever. More right-wingnuts, more terrorists, more religious fanatics. There will be more mass shootings. More fighting. More fear. There's so much religious zealotry that now vast stretches of the Middle East are virtually uninhabitable.
Ethnic groups hate each other for reasons that should have long since been forgotten. Revenge, honor killings, mutilations, are still more important to some people than their lives. Why are these kinds of 'codes' still in existence? In some parts of the world I might be shot for writing this blog.
The astoundingly astute Steven Pinker says the world is actually experiencing less levels of violence now in contrast to other historic periods. Yet we still have bombings and beheadings on a daily basis. When will we grow up? When will we get civilized - all of us? Is it not possible? If not, why not?
Do we thrive on drama, to escape boredom? Why do so many people see no alternative to violence? Why is perversion attractive? Why can’t we come up with positive activities to offset the tedious existence so many suffer?

Proportionally there are many more of us - sane, responsible people. But can we prevail? Can the best of us control the worst of us?
Science and technology have the potential to save us, as always. Ingenious entrepreneurs and inventors will continue to create gadgets to make our lives more comfortable and entertaining. Researchers will continue to find drugs to cure our ailments - including cancer pretty soon. We will make mechanisms to fight global warming and reverse the effects of the increasing natural disasters.

But politically in this country we have a party that tolerates, even encourages, ideology and ignorance over intelligence and fact. We have openly racist, belligerent candidates running for the highest office in the world. It should be unthinkable for someone like that to get anywhere near the control over our military (including nuclear) resources. Yet, somehow it isn't. They're not joking. Will we end up with a rational, experienced, even tempered, cautious leader, or one of the rest of them?
The blurring of truth in the media and the avalanche of easily available misinformation is fertile ground for extremism and crazy thinking. Fighting hurricanes and earthquakes seems an easy task compared to the fight against the tidal waves of ignorance.

Obviously one culprit is economic inequality. As long as huge numbers of people have virtually nothing, chaos is practically guaranteed. Everyone wants to create jobs, but not everyone agrees on how to actually do it. Education is an easy answer. But what passes as education in some places is simply propaganda and brain washing.

Those of us who have been around awhile tend to have a more measured outlook. We've lived through what were touted as the worst of times before. Does it only seem more frightening now because of the media spotlight? History has always moved in waves, one generation reacting against the previous one and pulling back from going too far in any direction. Are we due for a correction soon?

Some things seem self evident. Fighting violence with more violence never really works. It is diplomacy and 'using our words' that create positive outcomes. Understanding each other's situations goes a long way toward diffusing conflict. Why can’t we do more of these things?

The human race needs some sort of injection. Of common sense? Good judgement? Emotional intelligence? The ability to properly prioritize? We need to erect verbal dams: convincing counter arguments to stop the flow of extremism.
One solution would be population control. A worldwide attitude that no more than 2 children per family is desirable to provide a good quality of life…it would cut down on the number of crazy people. Another is tolerance, and not just for the ‘neighbors in your gated community’.

Is the human race doomed to inertia or a reverse of evolution? To stall and ultimately even start sliding backwards instead of progressing towards a better future?

There may be no easy answers. Do we have the will and capability to come up with and implement the hard answers?
I just don't know. And I'm beginning to get skeptical.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Our media is a mess.

A free press is vital to democracy, so how about a responsible press?

Seems like they’re all competing to be the biggest muckrakers and sensationalists.

It’s quite obvious that one of the motivations in mass shootings is the urge for the spotlight; fame for alienated loners. Yet, even venerated news outlets like the New York Times continue to publish the names of the perpetrators. I suppose all news outlets figure ‘the public has the right to know’ and if they don’t mention the name, other sources will. But does the public really care? I have a feeling we would all value less gun violence over finding out these identities.

One example of questionable choices by the media is a recent televised Hillary Clinton town hall event. The network TV reporter asked questions about her E-mails. The invited citizens wanted to hear about women’s issues, gun control, policy and plans.
How many times has the media reported on her private server, compared to the coverage for her issue statements: clean renewable energy initiative, economic policy proposals to encourage long term growth through profit sharing tax credit, revamping capital gains tax and reforming executive pay; her continuing efforts to fight terrorism, universal preschool, lowering health care costs, modernizing the energy infrastructure, cutting interest rates on student loans, restoring voting integrity, helping people with disabilities, etc, etc?

The public has a right to know those things also. Why do we have to dig through websites to get it?

There is still such a thing as truth and facts. The media tries to be very accurate when it comes to information about news events. Meanwhile there are candidates for the most important decision facing a democracy - choosing a president -  who are not challenged when they ‘stretch the truth’. In the interest of appearing unbiased, we get presented with smear tactics with no rebuttal. Character matters, which is why the media should challenge those who recycle inaccuracies. More fact checking PLEASE!

The pundits tell us a section of the voting public wants ‘Washington outsiders’ as an explanation for why certain candidates are ahead in the polls. But it’s also the result of the choice of news messages. In what seems increasingly to be a popularity contest (when it ought to be more like a job interview), name recognition is the ultimate prize. The media is complicit in pushing certain people to the front.
And they should really think about what they’re doing to this country.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Life Saving Technology

Can’t live without it!

Would you spend $350 on something that could save your life?
something that could prolong your life?

    Let me tell you a story. I've had, like millions of others - probably most of us, times when my heart felt like it was beating at an abnormally fast rate. Nothing to be concerned about while exerting yourself. I'd checked it out in the past with a cardiologist, and all looked normal.
    But recently I had an episode just while sitting on the couch watching TV. So I checked the heart rate on my applewatch. The bpm were approaching 200. So a few days later I went to the cardiologist, who hooked me up to all those sophisticated monitors and again, all looked normal. They said a fast heart rate was not concerning, unless if was irregular. I was also able to confirm that the heart rate monitor on the applewatch was indeed very accurate.
    But just in case, they gave me a little monitor to record tachycardia. The next event indeed did show that I had atrial fibrillation as well. So now I am taking medication, and know to be more careful with caffeine intake, etc. Although my 'afib' is infrequent, it does add to the risk of heart attack and stroke.
    So I am very grateful to be aware of this condition. Without the watch telling me that, in fact my heart rate was high, and seriously high, I would not have checked into it. Without the apple watch I can’t differentiate between 75 bpm versus over 100, or - when I should take it easy rather than having nothing to worry about. It's much like a sophisticated biofeedback machine.
    Knowing when my heart rate is very high, I can lower it with breathing techniques.

So, it could very well be saving my life. I also love the fitness tracking, to see how many miles I walk daily. Plus I don’t miss phone calls anymore!

Knowing whether you're perfectly fine or if there's something you need to take care of will give you peace of mind. Both are better than ignorance (nothing blissful about that). No one wants to be surprised by a dangerous condition.

Life saving technology is nothing to scoff at,
it might mean you're not smart enough for a smart watch!

The applewatch will make you more health conscious. I think that's a very good thing.

Some heart facts:
❤️    Normal resting heart rate is 60-100 bpm. Ideal is 50 - 70.
         Lower rate means the heart is more efficient, less health risks.
❤️    Palpitations do not mean you are having a heart attack. (don't panic unnecessarily.)
         Here's when you should go to hospital:
         chest pains, problems breathing, passing out, dizziness.
❤️    Heart attack symptoms in women can be more subtle:
         pain in arms, neck, back, stomach. nausea, sweating, fainting, numbness.
❤️    Heart rate and blood pressure are not necessarily linked.
❤️    Heart healthy diet: vegetables, lean meat, low fat dairy, you know!
         Eating this kind of diet makes you 30% less likely to die than those who don't.


Monday, June 1, 2015

We've come a long way, baby

After I graduated from college, armed with a liberal arts degree and excellent grades, I eagerly set out into the world (Hartford, CT) going door to door looking for jobs. It was in the very early 70s.
The employment offices of companies had pink application forms for women. Invariably I was told there were no positions, but they would 'keep it on file'.
At one company, I was filling out the application when a male college grad of the same age came in. The receptionist perked up, handed him the white form, and placed his application in a different file.
As I trudged, at slower and slower pace, from one company to another, I was told I would just get married and have children, and they wouldn't want to waste time training me.
I was eventually hired at that company ($75 a week!) after acing a math test at an employment agency. Then I was in for a very different education. They had separate dining rooms for men and women. All the men had offices. None of the women did.
At that first job, an insurance company, after dropping a suggestion in a box recommending more equal treatment* for the females doing the exact job male executives were doing, I was immediately fired. They saw me as a trouble maker. Meek little me.
* (maybe just a telephone for their own use instead of one the whole row of us ladies had to share)
There was an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission I could complain to, but discrimination on the basis of sex was a relatively new, ignored, concept in the early years of EEOC. I had to concentrate on supporting myself, so I moved away and went back to school, (despite the obvious danger of becoming overqualified for even more jobs).
All these decades later, I have yet to be supported by a man, ever - what all of my potential employers back then predicted would happen. (I have supported a few of them.)

My generation was a pioneering one on so many fronts: in the fights - against 'unjust' wars, and for civil rights for all. Women of my age were a bridge from the generation of women before - whose options consisted primarily of getting married or maybe becoming a nurse, stewardess or secretary. Breaking into male dominated fields was not for the fainthearted. Female characteristics that were indoctrinated; being soft spoken, not interrupting, being modest, did not get you far in the business world. Being a 'good girl' was not compatible with being successful. Consequently, many of us didn't have the most important tool of all, self confidence. I still have some trouble dealing with authority figures, and people who have become successful based on the power of their personality. I am no match for them.
I'd like to think that in some small way, dropping that note in the suggestion box created a tiny ripple (along with the other acts of protest and subversion my generation performed back then) that helped smooth the way for the current generation.
Now my daughter wouldn't think twice about whether she could compete effectively with her male counterparts. Let's hope her future employers have that same attitude.
I sometimes wonder what path my career would have taken had more opportunities been open to me back then. But maybe I would still be at that insurance company, and that would be tragic!

An equal rights amendment may even be passed in my daughter's lifetime. Even if you think it would be purely symbolic, remember, it's a symbol that would mean a lot to some of us.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Love it or Fix it?

Re: Giuliani’s recent comments on patriotism

The way conservatives view this country, versus liberals/progressives, strikes me as similar to how parents might approach the challenge of raising a child who is chronically ill - let’s say with autism. Like all analogies, this is not a perfect one, but here’s what I mean.
The conservative parents love their child fiercely, they want to protect her against all harm. They, understandably, lash out at anyone who criticizes her or seems to pose a threat. They put their faith in doctors and specialists, and follow their instructions closely. They come from backgrounds where it is unheard of to question authority.
The progressive parents want to cure their daughter, or at least, fight against the condition to improve her quality of life as much as possible. They won’t give up. In addition to the doctors’ advice, they research scientific and medical discoveries and try new, promising treatments; and gradually, subtly, their child improves.
Now, perhaps the conservative parents just didn’t notice their child had autism. They think their child is perfect the way she is, even though others see her inadequacies quite clearly. Or maybe they don’t think extra efforts will pay off, that it isn’t possible for her to get any better.
I am very happy to stand firmly in the camp of trying to make my daughter and my country the best she can be. Progressive people have succeeded, and will continue to succeed in future generations as challenges arise. We won’t accept conditions like intolerance without debate and action.

It’s not a question of who loves their child or country more, the more important question is
which parenting/governing style produces the best result?

I’m glad we have a President who has been so good at fixing things, like making sure all of our citizens have access to health care, whether they have autism or anything else.
So much of life is deciding between acceptance of the status quo and working toward a vision of a better future.
Let’s elect people who have conviction, ideas and plans for improvement. 
Wanting the country to get better doesn’t mean we don’t love it.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Why New Yorkers REALLYNY

I recently returned from a trip to LA and was almost overwhelmed at the relief I felt stepping off the shuttle bus onto the streets of Manhattan. NY city streets are canyons enveloped by skyscrapers, each striving to be taller than the others. They seem to form a protective womb-like barrier against the forces of nature, while still affording us a glimpse of sun and clouds and stars overhead.
From the tops of those lofty buildings we look like silly ants scurrying around in mad enterprise. But up close each of us is propelled by hopes and dreams and projects that collectively reflect the energy and ingeniousness of the human race. I've never experienced that sense in any other place or any other city. Sometimes going anywhere else just seems an exercise in reinforcing my appreciation of NY.
Some sunny, less frenetic places seem lethargic in comparison. There's an emptiness and restless boredom never felt in the city that, not only doesn't sleep, but doesn't slow down. It's always entertaining.
Oddly, I think of NY city as safe. It hasn't always been, but it is now. If I go to a rural area where it's quiet except for the birds and crickets, I always fear some wild woodsman or animal can break in and threaten me. In our city we don't need guns, we have police and each other to keep us safe. I have no doubt that if I (a little older lady) were being threatened, any number of bystanders (armed with cell phones and courage and concern) would come to my aid. I've benefited from the kindness of strangers often lately. I have no such assurance elsewhere.
When New York City suffers, which it does with disturbing frequency, we all suffer. It's what makes for a collective empathy most of us feel either consciously or subconsciously. I think the racial divide is not felt as deeply here because we all live, work and commute in such proximity. We smile at babies on the subway cars no matter what color they are. People who travel in auto cars don't get that chance.
Don't get me started on the appeal of the heart of the city — Central Park — or I'd be writing for days. Best backyard ever!
Places do matter and they have personalities. New York's is curious, adventurous, ambitious, exhilarating, challenging, intellectual, exciting. Just living here increases the pulse to match the rushing taxis, delivery trucks and bicycles. And of course all the walking keeps us healthier. You don't need that much money to enjoy it. Pubs offer happy hour specials on every block. If you go alone you can strike up a conversation with a fellow New Yorker, or even a tourist. Thrift shops! Sometimes I wonder why anyone would shop anywhere else.
There's always protesting at Union Square to demand that injustices are noticed and addressed.
NY is not perfect. We have a huge class divide. To some of us it's a tragic waste to mindlessly compete, and ignore other priorities, so your apartment will be grander than others. 
The best ambitions are directed towards creative output — bringing a vision to life that will perhaps benefit our neighbors in some way — make them see the world a little differently, or at least entertain them. That urge may be contagious. Maybe we pick it up by breathing the city air. That's really what 'make it here' means: ideas, blogs, plays, poems, hip-hop, classical, docs, dramas, laws, libraries, silicon alley… We make it all.
Other places can't help but dull in comparison.
Thanks so much for reading!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Must See Movies

It recently came to my attention that some of my younger colleagues do not know who Cary Grant is. Quelle horreur! This is practically beyond my comprehension. Have they just been playing video games their whole lives!?
So to attempt to rectify - here are 2 lists of loosely defined 'classic' films that I urge 'young' people to explore at their most earliest convenience!
Of course there will be plenty of evolved males and females who can cross over this arbitrary line. Plus I hope those with partners will enjoy these together. Per my personal prejudice, I limited the war movie/violence selection.
These films are shown on Turner Classic Movies (cable). And almost all can be found on Apple tv.