While I would never be silly enough to say that making money is evil or that it makes one a sellout, the past week has reminded me once again that all of the most meaningful stuff I do in life I either do for free or while giving my money away. Writing this blog, taking my friend out to dinner, hiking. My work exists as financial structure to support the things I love to do.
This does make me wonder about what we decide to focus on. Is it a positive thing that we focus our lives on making an income, since that effort supports all the good we can then do? Or is it sad that most people I know, including me, will spend the vast majority of their time on the less meaningful? I don’t have a real answer for this question, and will choose to believe in the happier version of the story for now.
My Dutch friend is coming to visit and I am so very excited. We haven’t seen each other in many years–we went to high school together. I suppose we will now see just how much of an obnoxious American I’ve turned into, in spite of my blog name. We have had a few long conversations on the phone, and there were some predictable cultural differences which popped up, but also some things which surprised me…
That my friend is a big environmentalist *didn’t* surprise me, as this is pretty standard in Europe. In fact, her work in Holland is as a sort of environmental/sustainability coach. When her family and she visit the States, they almost always use Amtrak and they bicycled around New York City. Have I mentioned that they visit the States a lot? Yep, the Dutch get a lot more vacation time…grrrr. My friend has seen a lot more of America than I have. I have warned her ahead of time that we are living the typical suburban American lifestyle, with a giant carbon footprint. She confided in me that she secretly loves cars.
Like most Europeans, my friend is weirded out by how many guns there are in this country. However, we also discussed the other extreme. Not only is it illegal in Holland to carry a gun or a knife with you for self-defense, there is apparently a law there which makes it illegal to help defend anyone who is being attacked, even if it’s only with your fists. As a bystander, you are only allowed to call the emergency number–their equivalent of 911–and watch. Anything beyond that makes you legally responsible for what is considered another assault! My friend and I agreed that this was ridiculous, and that by the time the police get there, the victim will likely be dead.
It was a pleasant surprise to hear that my friend and her husband sometimes think that the Dutch should be more like Americans. They like how practical and realistic Americans are, and how hard they work. So America is still loved and respected by at least some people in the world. This gave me pause, and reminded me that it’s all too easy to bitch about the place where you live. Although my friend did mention that as far as income inequity, she wishes things would be “more equal” here.
Well, she arrives tonight, so there is plenty to be done. I don’t know how much time I will have to blog over the next week–I only have a short week to show off all of the fabulous Portland area to her! But if there are anymore interesting political and social observations I get out of this culture clash, I will be sure to post them here.
I should give fair warning that I wrote this at the confluence of a full moon and my PMS. But hey, if I can’t vent about this on my blog, where else, right?
This post is simply here to say that after all this time, after having been raised with feminist ideals of equality, I have learned that the people who say that men and women are different from each other are right. I know that there is indeed a feminine part of me which is naturally wired to be gentle, nurturing and caring to others. And I absolutely despise that part of myself.
I have spent years trying to train myself to be selfish, to pursue my own dreams and my own happiness, but the female part of me always trips me up. This is the part of me which worries about everybody else and wants to make sure that everybody around me is happy. The part of me which is too nice and says yes to too many things. And when I get angry later about agreeing too much, the part which prevents me from speaking harsh words. Because, unfortunately, I have the ability to empathize with how the other person would feel.
I was hoping that it was possible to use willpower to change myself. To become just a little more indifferent, a little more ruthless, better at taking what I want. But I am beginning to think that we are trapped by our biological programming, to a far greater degree than we believe we are.
So in spite of myself, I am a woman. I lose myself in relationships with other people until my identity blurs and I’m no longer sure of who I am. I suppose this should be a comfort to conservatives everywhere–I have been broken down and forced to submit to the qualities of my own gender.
I’m torn about the rodeo clown thing. On the one hand, I’m offended and disgusted by what the clown did, and even more disgusted by the audience of morons cheering him on. But I still don’t want his right to be a blithering idiot taken away, and here’s why:
Because one day Paul Ryan might be President. And as President Ryan goes on his merry way privatizing Medicare and outlawing abortion, there will no doubt be a late-night burlesque show taking place somewhere in Portland, in which Paul Ryan (or someone wearing a mask) will dance seductively in lingerie and a garter belt, simulate sex with the Koch brothers, and then get bent over and spanked with a dildo, as is our way here in PDX. And if Paul Ryan ever becomes President, then goddammit, I really, really want to be able to see that show.
I want to be able to mock the future Republican President just as relentlessly as I did back when W was in power. My concern is that I’m going to have to deal with a bunch of right-wingers whining that “Well, you wouldn’t let us do this with your President!”
The most satisfying revenge against stupid people, including stupid racists, is not to censor them–it’s to give them a proper spanking when it’s their turn.
So something horrible has happened on Zanzibar. Two British women have been splashed with acid in another acid attack on women in an Islamic country. The two were volunteer teachers (proving yet again that no good deed goes unpunished) and were walking to dinner when two men on a motorcycle performed their drive-by attack.
While what has happened to the two teachers is tragic, this statement from Zanzibar’s Minister of Tourism is hilarious, although not in a good way:
“And I beg our nationals, this is not something they should be doing. Tourism is the strongest pillar of our economy, so if we do such acts we are killing our economy, and our livelihoods in general.”
“So it is not an honourable thing to do, it’s a bad thing and it should be condemned by all citizens of Zanzibar.”
So what has happened isn’t dishonorable because it’s wrong to splash women with acid, it’s dishonorable because it might ruin the tourism industry. Perhaps this proves that the profit motive really is the best way to bring us all together as one. Zanzibar, like other regions in crisis, is torn between people who want to turn it into a paradise island for tourists, and people who want to turn it into a fundamentalist religious state. We’ll see which one wins.
Not all the news coming out of Egypt these days is violent or depressing. Take this, for instance: the new new Egyptian government has softened the punishment for insulting the President. It used to be that when you insulted the Egyptian President, you would go to jail for it (something which apparently happened a lot under the deposed Pres. Morsi’s tenure). Now, all you have to do is pay a fine of $4,300. Piece of cake! Although being a comedian in Egypt would still be very expensive.
I felt the urge to post this because I hear so many conservative talk show hosts refer to our current administration as an “oppressive regime,” making it very obvious that they have no idea what an oppressive regime is like. If this truly were an oppressive regime, these guys would at the very least be bankrupt from having to pay massive fines every day. After all, insulting the President is their basic occupation.
Which makes one wonder, if they could no longer make a living spewing insults, would that force them to do something useful? Hmmmmm….
And no, it’s not about Snowden’s asylum in Russia. Just wanted to note that President Obama has proposed lowering federal corporate taxes. Because he’s SUCH A COMMIE. Seriously, I can hear the North Korean military orchestra from here.
The President’s plan has been praised by groups representing large corporations, and criticized by small business owner organizations for being too skewed in favor of big business–a sure sign of socialism if I ever saw one. There has been some bi-partisan support of the plan in Congress, but then…there is the response from the usual suspects. The House Republicans are rejecting the proposal, because according to them the President is offering “nothing in the way of compromise”.
Well, this must be how Congress has managed to earn popularity ratings lower than the cyclospora stomach bug. Yet again, the President offers a compromise, and the House insists it is not a compromise. Because the only deal they would ever accept would be the President completely caving to the Tea Party agenda, which wouldn’t be a compromise at all. So…oh, the irony…a very capitalist business tax proposal will likely go down in flames due to Republican opposition. Now who’s the commie here again?