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PS

PS

i was on the treadmill running away, happily covid free because i was breathing like normal, when i realized that i forgot a MAJOR component of my covid post!

but it’s going into my body

ugh, i hear/read this over and over: it’s unnatural and it’s going in my body blah blah blah. you know what else is unnatural that we put in our bodies?

plastic.

microplastic is found in lungs, liver, spleen, and kidneys in donated human cadavers. which means the probability of you having plastic built up in your body is pretty good. the average person ingests about 5 grams of plastic every week (equivalent to a credit card!).

cigarette/cigar smoke, a carcinogen and tar-ridden. that causes lung cancer.

processed food in general is not healthy.

trans fats are awful for you.

and that doesn’t include all the things we do to our bodies physically, like botox, metal plates, implants, reconstruction, any type of surgery.

if you’ve ever smoked, eaten margarine, american cheese, or anything with high fructose corn syrup, or just lived recently (apparently that does it), i’m going to say that you shouldn’t worry AT ALL about sticking your arm with an approved vaccine.

in which i talk about the covid vaccine and peer pressure you!

in which i talk about the covid vaccine and peer pressure you!

i am pro-science. there’s never been any doubt that once the covid vaccine becomes available for me, i will get it. once it opens up for the public at large – for healthy, low-risk people – i will get up at 4:30 a.m. to get in on an online lottery if i need to, for as many days as it takes. i will get that vaccine and not think twice about it.

with the current anti-vaxx movement and people questioning the speed at which this one was approved, i though it would be useful to do a little research for you all on how the advances in medicine are such that vaccines can be produced at this rate. i’ve read headlines and tweets from scientists, but a deep dive into the actual science (i’m assuming my readers all still believe in science) would also be helpful for me.

but first, an aside. i had listened to a podcast recently about the “godfather of vaccines” (click to listen to it! super interesting) who basically came up with all our childhood vaccines (MMR, etc.) and wanted to know the public’s reaction to the polio vaccine. polio was a devastating disease, and i’d heard that parents all over the country volunteered their children for vaccine trials to make sure the vaccine was safe before distribution. so i called my dad to see what the public sentiment was surrounding the polio vaccine, since it seemed that the public sentiment surrounding the covid vaccine was one of trepidation, at best, for a lot of people.

my dad said that it was like a giant sigh of relief for everyone once the polio vaccine was available. so i wondered why we don’t have the same reaction today, and my mom got on the phone and talked about something that i think needs to be shared. modern medicine is amazeballs. people don’t realize how bad it WAS and that our advances in the past 40-50 years have been just outrageous. then i watched a video from john green (my fave youtuber) about vaccines and he mentioned that the advances in VACCINE medicine in even the past TEN YEARS is such that a pandemic in 2010 would be much more devastating because we wouldn’t have a vaccine as quickly.

here’s his video:

so, that’s one long introduction for a post that may be long as it is.

let’s get into the science behind the covid vaccine, why it was produced so quickly, and whether or not you should take it (i can predict that yes, yes you should take it). please let me know if i’ve got anything wrong here; i’m a summarizer and researcher, not a scientist.

how it works

the covid vaccine uses new technology that’s actually been around and studied for a while, mRNA vaccines. the vaccine you get for mumps, measles, rubella, flu, etc., uses the actual live virus to prompt your immune system to recognize it and create antibodies that resist the virus when it attacks full bore. it’s just a little bit, which is the reason you may feel a little flu-ish after getting the flu shot, but it’s a much better than getting the full-on flu.

the mRNA instead just send instructions to our cells on how to make a piece of protein that triggers an immune response, which prompts the antibodies to protect us. after the protein is made, our cells break down the instructions from the shot and get rid of them (think of all the other stuff your cells get rid of – this is nothing).

how it came to be

mRNA stands for messenger RNA. the covid vaccine is the first vaccine that’s been approved using this technology, though scientists have been working with it for many years. a hungarian scientist named katalin kariko* had been working in the 90s to get grants, funding, and even support for mRNA. it made sense – naturally, your body relies on proteins to keep health, and it uses mRNA to tell cells which proteins to make. if science could design specific mRNA, you could create any protein that helps keep you healthy, reverse diseases, mend damaged tissue. in 1990, it worked in mice. but synthetic RNA had one problem – the body’s natural defenses would likely destroy it before it had a chance to do its thing.

katalin ran into barrier after barrier. no funding, demotions, ridicule. instead of giving up, she pressed on, and about 10 years after trial and error, she was working with an immunologist MD/PhD when they discovered the way around the problem. in its synthetic form, mRNA was signaling the immune system with one of the four nucleosides, but they substituted it for a slightly tweaked hybrid version that could bypass the body’s defenses (biology was a long time ago for me and probably you too; let’s just take her word for it that this makes sense, since she’s the scientist and expert).

starting in 2005, several scientific papers described the process, and that was the start of a big vaccine advancement. two scientists grabbed onto it as a way to create stemcells. when they were able to do this, they went to visit a biomedical engineer at MIT, who recognized the technology as a way to pretty much have a huge number of applications to save lives. they created moderna, (which, haha, contains the letter mRNA).

this biotech was mostly being experimented with for immunotherapy, not vaccines. this required several doses over and over, and at high levels of the mRNA. that was proving to be difficult to work around the immune reactions, like katalin had found a workaround for.  so instead, they had to focus on using the biotech for something that only took one or two low-dose injections for an effect: vaccines.

why it was so quick

the technology is much quicker than using a live virus to create a vaccine, so that was one reason a vaccine came to the public so quickly. another was that this was FUNDED. i saw a tweet from a scientist who works in the field, saying that half the time they spend working on new breakthroughs is waiting and applying for grants and funding.

but why does a live/inactivated virus take so long to develop in the first place, in comparison to the mRNA? vaccines can take 20+ years to develop and get approved! the HPV vaccine took 26 years. rotavirus took 25. they still don’t have one for AIDS.

using the actual virus in a vaccine means that a lot more can go wrong. they need a LOT of testing and can take years. plus, they need to be able to mass-produce the actual proteins for the virus, and the mRNA vaccine just uses the genetic material to signal to our cells to create the proteins, which is easier to mass-produce.

then there’s testing. since this was a world-wide pandemic, finding volunteers to test the vaccine after animal testing was easy. this is done in three phases, and phase three is time consuming. they have to wait for enough participants to be exposed to a virus naturally. well, considering that covid was/is rampant and people have trouble even wearing a mask, i think phase three moved along more quickly than normal.

plus, scientists had been working on vaccines for other coronaviruses. they’d been working on SARS and MERS in 2003 and 2012, but stopped when the outbreaks were under control. scientists knew what to target and how to stabilize it.

as far as production, because manufacturers don’t know what vaccines will be approved when, they’re reluctant to invest in prepping for making the vaccines.

but, because this was widespread, everything sort of happened quickly and absolute MORE quickly than we expected. the science was there. the prep work was partially done. the demand was there. the funding was there. and through it all, covid was there.

the results

when covid first hit, we were told that it would at least 18 months for a vaccine, if not longer. but in late 2020, pfizer announced its trials were over and the mRNA vaccine was 90%+ effective after two doses. the FDA was ready to approve a vaccine that was 50% effective. the vaccine has not actually been 100% approved yet but is being used under the emergency use authorization, which is NORMAL. don’t let that deter you at all.

many people have already had the vaccine and had no ill effects. we may hear about people that have had ill effects after getting the vaccine, but one does need to take a look at what the chances of that ill effect happening WITHOUT the vaccine. if 2% of the population gets a heart attack every day, having gotten the vaccine a week before does not change that percentage. it would’ve happened with or without the vaccine.

the benefits of the vaccine GREATLY outweigh any potential risks.

final thoughts

like i said, as soon as i am eligible to get a vaccine, i’m going to be first in line. after reading about side effects in the lungs that last and last and last, and how every single thing i read about runners who’ve had to take baby steps to get back to where they were before they had covid, along with heart problems?? (and we’re talking every. single. runner. , no matter how bad their covid was) come on, there’s not a lot as far as short-term side effects that i wouldn’t take to make sure i avoid all that. i had absolutely no adverse effects from my flu shot this year, so i’m guessing i’d probably be ok with a covid shot.

and you would too. if there’s ever a time to succumb to my peer pressure, now would be it.

and let me say, i am kind of excited about this new mRNA biotechnology. if they can cure cancers and autoimmune diseases with cell-specific therapy instead of blasting us with radiation and chemotherapy and drugs with awful side effects, that’s the kind of future i want to live in.

science for the win.

________________________________

*you will note that i only mention her by name, as she was the one who persevered with this science. she deserves all the credit.

sources:

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/different-vaccines/mrna.html

The story of mRNA: How a once-dismissed idea became a leading technology in the Covid vaccine race

Why Does It Take So Long to Develop a Vaccine?

xennials know. WOMEN know.

xennials know. WOMEN know.

i just tweeted about this, but here is basically the “unroll” of my tweet thread about my experience this evening in the target electronics department!

after being in st cloud earlier today and seeing the crowds, i decided to wait until late evening to head to target so i could avoid crowds and covid. i was in search of a bluetooth speaker that didn’t suck so i could listen to podcasts and music in the kitchen. a reasonable thing to want. i found a JBL flip that seemed to have decent sound when i turned on the sample for 1.3 seconds (it was LOUD).

an associate in electronics grabbed the speaker for me and was ringing me up when another associate came over to ask him a question from a couple he was helping. the couple was maybe a little older than i was.

the two associates were dudes in their 20s – someone you’d automatically think of when you think of someone who works in the target electronics department. i listened to the question: would an iphone 12 work with the USB A lightning charger or do they NEED the USB C charger? (for those of you who know nothing about this [dad], the USB C is much newer technology than the A, a lot less ubiquitous, and more expensive [tho not prohibitively so]).

so, i interrupted and said, “yes the A will charge the iphone; it’ll just be slow.” because i knew. i have an iphone 12. i plugged it into my computer to restore the backup when i got it. i had to use an A because my computer has no C outlets. it worked.

at this point, the dude talking paused, glanced at me, then turned back to the other dude and continued talking. 

what? -_-

looking back, i feel like i should be infuriated by this, but i literally am just like, huh. i thought this generation was supposed to be past this.


(i have this sticker at work. it’s by emily mcdowell.)

so, i turned to the couple, noticed the woman was the one holding a phone case to purchase, and said directly to her while nodding, “yes, the regular USB will charge an iphone 12.” the dude asked, “will it just be a slow charge?” i nodded and the woman gave a thumbs up.

then of course, the target dude decided that he would talk to them about how go make their phone charge faster and all that and walked over to them, so i decided to leave. said thanks, grabbed my fancy speaker, and left.

i really should have told them to get that USB C charger tho. if your phone can handle it, GET IT. it is LIFE CHANGING and i can’t believe how fast my phone charges. costco has a wall outlet and cord for about $15 i think. i charge my phone in what seems like no time these days. so fast.

as an aside on charger with the old cord, you might need an actual apple A charger – my 3rd party one doesn’t work with my new phone 🙁 but that’s ok because of my superfast charger! and it works with my wireless charger and my apple charger that’s plugged into my computer and the wall brick.

so, lesson of the day for target brossociates: never underestimate xennial* women’s electronics knowledge. quit with that dismissive behavior.

*microgeneration of about 1977-1984, a cusp of genX and millennials**. grew up analog and embraced a digital adulthood. we are rather optimistic cynics. or cynical optimists. whichever you choose.

**millennials are older than you think. the youngest millennials are 25ish and oldest are pushing 40. the “kids these days” are genZ.

in which i talk about covid, covid, the apocalypse, and a free press

in which i talk about covid, covid, the apocalypse, and a free press

i talked to megan tonight, who does an occasional shift as a pharmacist at a hospital in the cities, and she said she has never ever seen anything like what’s going on there right now. covid is taking over the hospitals, so god forbid you need the ICU for something like a broken bone or heart attack. i think that my work is set up that we are overflow for the st cloud hospital, but we haven’t gotten to that point yet. (we’re a block away from the hospital and we have several labs for our nursing programs).

on a positive note, nate is symptom free so far. turns out his coworker did test positive, and the last time he was with her was a little over a week ago, so i’m holding out hope that he avoided that exposure. he got a mail-in test and will do that tomorrow morning. i’ve got one coming tuesday, i think, so i’ll take one too just to make sure. in the meantime, i’ll stay at home from work until after thanksgiving break.

there are several severe conservatives on twitter talking about rising up and taking up arms over stupid mask mandates. over wearing a MASK. no one is asking you to cut off a limb or flagellate yourself; you wear a mask to prevent your germs from spreading to other people. you know what they say: your rights to swing your arms end where my nose begins. (i think a scotus judge said that.)

so the apocalypse comes, and instead of having to defend yourself against the zombies (haha at first i wrote zombines, the best defense against the buggers) with guns and knives, you need to wear a mask to protect others. the lack of empathy is pretty resounding and just confirms that many americans are sadly hyperindividualistic and can’t see past their noses for the community that they are a part of. but they’ll certainly bludgeon others’ noses.

i would also like to talk about this image, but i think i already did.

imagine a world without a free press and not knowing what was going on (well, it might be nice to take an info break, but i think that’s more about instant saturation of the newscycle that we’re currently in). there’s a reason that a free press is part of the first amendment.

GRRRR.

(i have to say, my anxiety level is much lower now that i know we’re not getting four more years of psycho orange goober, but i’m still annoyed at 2020.)

(also, i have no solutions in this blog post. just a lot of ranting. please post your solutions.)

the fairness doctrine: an overview

the fairness doctrine: an overview

first off, i’d like to mention that wikipedia finally got me. i’ve used it for years and years and it’s extremely useful. tonight, while looking up the fairness doctrine, i finally donated. if you use wikipedia as much as i do, maybe it’s time to help keep its lights on.

onward and upward! let’s talk about the FAIRNESS DOCTRINE. why? because in this age of one-sided news that our feeds serve us, it’s important to look back at what information people USED to get from all networks that called themselves news and how it contributed to a well-informed (for those who watched) society.

introduced in 1949, this was a policy in the FCC that:

  1. required broadcast news to give airtime to controversial matters of public interest
  2. air contrasting views regarding those matters.

they could do this with news segments, public affairs shows, or editorials. there was no time limit for each, but it just required that the viewpoints be presented. since there were few TV stations and it had a pretty much captive audience, this made sure that citizens were exposed to a variety of viewpoints.

the fairness doctrine was abolished in 1987. why? the FCC said that because there were many media voices in the market and the doctrine be deemed unconstitutional, saying it restricted the journalistic freedom of broadcasters and inhibits the presentation of controversial issues.

and because the print press didn’t have such restrictions on them, that the broadcast press shouldn’t as well. though, if you’re a good journalist, you would present facts objectively and keep your opinions on the opinion page. (seriously, people have issues discerning the opinion page from the news.) Congress tried to keep the doctrine, but it was vetoed by reagan and then threatened by another veto by george HW bush.

in 2005, this was revived for a bit, but stagnated in committee work, and has been in and out of discussions, mostly by democrats, over the past 15 years or so. “I think the public discussion was at a higher level and more intelligent in those days than it has become since,” opined jeff bingaman, a dem from new mexico.

the fairness doctrine is pretty staunchly opposed by conservatives and libertarians with the idea that it’s an attack on the first amendment and property rights. because the FD was in place during a time when network channels were limited, the points that support it – media scarcity, liberal viewpoints being censored at a corporate level, and public interest – are myths.

meanwhile, the FD had actually been in the FCC rulebook for a while, and in 2011, it was finally removed.

in fairness, i present to you reasons that i found saying that the FD is anything but fair: scarcity (again) is no longer a thing for cable/network TV (though one could say one needs to PAY for the increased number of opinions – it’s also important to note that the FCC only has regulation authority over over-the-air channels. it’s got nothing to do with cable channels.); fairness cannot be determined by FCC bureaucrats and gives them too much power; and arbitrary enforcement will diminish vigorous debate.

this last one is interesting. it argues that because of the threat of FCC retaliation, broadcasters would choose not to air opinions to avoid airing opposing perspectives. it would reduce the discussion of controversial issues of public importance. sort of a self-censorship. then the author of this article gives the old “don’t like it? turn the dial.”

but we don’t turn the dial to hear an opposing or different view.

******

i’m torn on this one. on my one hand, i support the first amendment and its freedoms. on my other, the echo chambers that we place ourselves in on our social feeds, the tv programs and “news*” channels we watch, the radio shows we listen to – in general, they offer very little, if any, time for opposing viewpoints. one could argue that we are so polarized as a country now because no one is introduced to new or different ideas on a daily basis.

being presented with new and diverse information and viewpoints helps our critical brains make decisions and to help sort out choices. by only viewing one side, there’s no real growth or understanding. how do we grow as people if we don’t see diverse opinions and life experiences? and if there is so much disdain for mainstream media “bias” on the conservative side, don’t you think the FD might help with that?

for all the flack i hear about MPR being a left-leaning radio station (some of the programs on NPR are), my experience with the mpr news team has been well balanced. they give equal time to D and R candidates. they make them answer the actual questions (gary eichten actually called out amy k on that once), and they ask both sides hard questions.

i don’t know what the answer is. sure, reenact the FD, but that does nothing for the places we’re spending our real time these days: our social feeds and infinite scrolls. if the facebook and twitter servers blew up one night and they went blank, i’d welcome that.

*cable news channels like CNN and fox news aren’t accredited as news by any official regulatory body. the FCC has no power as far as presenting false information on cable news channels (only over-the-air channels). so take anything cable “news” channels say with a grain of salt. its “facts” are not necessarily facts.

sources:

https://www.heritage.org/government-regulation/report/why-the-fairness-doctrine-anything-fair

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FCC_fairness_doctrine#:~:text=The%20fairness%20doctrine%20of%20the,honest%2C%20equitable%2C%20and%20balanced

Did Fox News Change Its Accreditation from ‘News’ to ‘Entertainment’?

quitting facebook

quitting facebook

after years of waffling over it and a week of seething after watching “the social dilemma” on netflix, today i clicked on the “deactivate” button on facebook and *poof*.

my account is still out there if i want to reactivate, but i think all my comments on others’ posts have disappeared into the ether. it’s easy to reactivate – i just have to reenter my password. after confirming three times for deactivation, one password entry to reactivate seems wrong.

i am already feeling weird withdrawal symptoms, but it’s not like i’ve completely wiped social from my life; i still have a twitter account, an instagram, and of my course my awesome blog here. it’s funny because i remember when i first signed up for facebook (in early 2005 – a somewhat early adopter), i had been blogging already for a while, was trying to maintain a messageboard, and had a pretty comprehensive website. my thoughts were: why do i need another thing?

who knew that other thing would develop into a worldwide thought control experiment.

anyway. to all of you still using FB, good luck in these next few weeks. it’s going to be interesting times. i’ll see you on twitter? instagram? here at my blog? maybe back on FB afterward? we’ll see how this goes.

on a side note: the tag for this post is dual meaning 🙂

 

what i’ve learned about a christian nation

what i’ve learned about a christian nation

here’s what i’ve learned about “christian* values” in america over the last four years, in the time that we’ve made america great again.

  1. it’s definitely ok for police to be judge, jury, and executioner for criminals. especially if they’re black. even if they’re asleep in their bed in their own home and have no criminal record.
  2. putting families seeking asylum in cages and separating children from their parents is ok. especially if they’re brown and from south of the american border.
  3. freedom of religion is ok, but only if it’s different varieties of christianity or the jewish religion. the other religions are just fake and people who don’t believe in jesus or god are going to hell so who cares what they think. hmmm. maybe we should just make being christian ok. catholicism is borderline, and we’ll pretend to be ok with judaism because there’s something going on with israel. and the end times are coming. so.
  4. displays of machismo and strength and pride for your country are great, even expected. we are americans, after all. but christian first. jesus definitely was good with pride and all that.
  5. poor people brought it on themselves, the lazy bums. i mean, pulling yourself up by your bootstraps is what america’s all about, amirite? looking out for number one – i got mine!
  6. health care isn’t a right! are you kidding? no one should be able live a healthy life if it doesn’t come naturally. and if you’re chronically sick, you definitely deserve it and should be able to just work to pay for your own insurance. also, why should anyone who’s healthy have to pay for health insurance? don’t need to go to the doctor, don’t need health insurance.
  7. no one should read the actual news or do any research on current events OR the constitution and bill of rights. just pay attention to what your facebook friend’s grandma’s neighbor is posting because she’s got the same political sign as you in her yard. the media are liars and definitely not watchdogs of the government.
  8. human rights are definitely political. the gays and transgenders chose that lifestyle. women should know their place (the home). black people can leave any time. differently abled people can just stay indoors. poor people should just find a job or two. shouldn’t expect to live if you’re a criminal.
  9. use the earth for all it’s worth. they’re trying to colonize mars so we can start sucking the life out of another planet! who cares if the oceans are full of plastic, the air is smoggy, drinking water will become scarce, the weather’s getting more calamitous, species are disappearing. as long as my life is convenient, that’s all that matters.
  10. mental health is for sissies. except if you’re a white male shooter. then it’s ok to cut him some slack.
  11. socialism is the work of the devil, even though it seems to be working well for a large chunk of europe. capitalism is where it’s at. because anyone can be jeff bezos and an almost 200 billionaire, if he works hard enough. that’s why it’s ok that he continues to pay few taxes and amass huge amounts of dollars during a pandemic and economic crisis. no one should have to give up their money to pay for others’ welfare checks and food stamps if they’ve earned it. because greed is cool and taking care of others is not.

in all seriousness, if this is what republicans are ok with when they tout a christian nation, i will take a hard pass.

these are not christian values as i learned and know them (thanks, mom!). but this is what i think when i hear about how america should be a christian nation. this is what i think when i pass DT signs on my neighbors’ lawns. this is what i think when i see my FB friends talk about how the murdering cops should be exonerated because they killed criminals. this is what i think of when i’m behind big, noisy trucks with DT stickers plastered all over them. and this is what i think when i see an american flag, ESPECIALLY when it’s juxtaposed with a rebel flag (WHY is that ok to fly BOTH – you love your country AND the portion that seceded and made war against it??). i hate that republicans have co-opted the american flag. the flag should be representative of the entire country, not just a very vocal, macho, i-hate-anything-that’s-different, republican portion. while i don’t believe we should all idolize the flag like they do, i do believe that anyone should be able to fly it with a level of pride in being american. it’s at a point where i feel like republican christians idolize the flag more than they worship their god.

because if america’s so great, it shouldn’t even need a flag. and it’s probably time for R christians to take a hard look at the gospel.

*i’ve probably made a few of my readers angry with me. I REALIZE – not all christians are like this. BUT WE KNOW. you know. yes. and you’d be hard, hard pressed to find an atheist who votes republican (although i’d bet a few of them vote marijuana party!).

EDIT: i just wrote this on an FB friend’s post about police shooting criminals

this is also a good example of where someone other than the police may have been a good option to send instead, like social services, or mental health services. using the right responders for the right situations is key, i think, to helping people become better citizens and breaking down systems that hold certain populations down, all by giving them resources to help them succeed rather than spiral further into a life of crime and addiction. lift people up! compassion is always a good answer.

2020: the year of hindsight

2020: the year of hindsight

holy cow, could this year be any weirder. remember 5 months ago when WWIII almost started and australia was on fire? that seems like 5 decades ago.  like some tweet i saw somewhere in my constant scrolling and need for information overload, it’s like 1968 and 1918 are happening while nixon is president. (one could totally argue worse than nixon. like nixon, buchanan, and harding all rolled into one.) if you support trump at this point, my level of respect for you is at a low point. the man is a useless leader.

anyway. back to hindsight. what i really want to touch on during this short time i have your attention is what’s currently happening with statues and memorials that are being brought down.

the question surrounding this, of course, is if statues and memorials to confederate generals and the like really do enrich a person’s historical education or if it is just a glaring reminder to those whose lives were ground under the bootheel of slavery or colonization.

i’d argue that it is one thing to remember and learn from history; it is entirely another to glorify it. (i have a feeling i’m going to get a withering comment from my dad on this post.) it’s one thing to keep aushwitz open to tours as a reminder of horrific acts that happened under hitler and another if germany were to have multiple statues of hitler looking dapper throughout its country.

i think before we dive into the people who’ve been memorialized by art, we have to take a look at the notion of the confederacy. we all know what we learned in school. the confederacy seceded from the union in 1861. when lincoln was elected, the deep south thought their way of life was threatened, which was an economy based on free labor of people owned by other people. the war began in april 1861, and the deep south was joined by the upper south. a replacement government was put in place.

because the north was pretty industrialized vs. the south and was much better funded and supplied, the south fell after four years. it’s no doubt that gen. lee was a brilliant military tactician. the confederacy lasted four years, but its legacy has somehow remained. just four years as its seceded country and then losing, and the south is still pissed that its economy was dissembled to give all people the opportunity to live free lives. (the current prison system is another story and another blog post.)

no doubt that the south and the confederacy were on the wrong side of history. it was a secessionist goverment that waged war against the united states so they could own other people and enslave them. so the question we need to ask is why it seen as “heritage”? so white people can continue to flaunt racist ideals? does the glorification of the confederate “heroes” continue to make flaunting those ideals ok?

that’s what i mean by glorifying. it’s hard to tell people to stop being racist when they can point to town squares with statues of slaveowners that residents proudly hold up as heroes. it hard to be anti-racist when you wave a flag that represents not just valor justice, purity, and the 13 confederate states, but the willingness of southerners to FIGHT for the right to OWN PEOPLE. and that represents a losing side! i can’t imagine what it’s like to be one of the people that an entire populace went to war to own, especially after that side lost and people are still proudly waving a failed, 4-year government flag 150 years later.

(oh but kate what about the time before the confederacy when they were a part of the united states and they were included in the union? the union turned a blind eye to slavery to reap the economic benefits! so you don’t want to wave the US flag? i would argue that the united states and its flag is ever-changing and working to improve. just like people whose opinions change and evolve, so does a country. also, quit idolizing flags.)

what i’m amazed by with all the confederate statues in the south: doesn’t the south have ANY OTHER heroes or important people? it was a bleak time in the US history, but it’s been 150 years, and there have been plenty of other opportunities for great people to make an impact. there are great people who were from the south who worked hard to get rid of slavery – why not memorialize them, if they want a statue in a place?

holy cow, i am digressing in this post.

so let’s take a look at a few of the people whose statues have been taken down.

charles linn: a captain in the confederate navy, banker, industrialist. one of the founders of birmingham. the statues was installed in just 2013! his statue was taken down after an unsuccessful attempt to remove a nearby confederate soldiers and sailors monument.

confederate monument: this was the oldest confederate monument in north carolina. it was removed by the owner.

robert e. lee: oof ho boy. there are a lot of lee. no doubt he was a brilliant military leader. he was actually a colonel in the US army from 1829-1861. if my memory serves me right, he was asked to lead the union army, but he was born in virginia and so his loyalties lay in the south. he didn’t seem like he necessarily wanted a war. he said “i do not believe in secession as a constitutional right, nor that there is sufficient cause for revolution.” the man served much more time on the US side than the confederate side, yet he is only known for the confederate side. he’s undoubtedly the face and name of the confederacy.

holdup here a moment. as i’m perusing the list of monuments removed, a LOT of them – and i’m talking majority – have been removed by cities or owners or other public entities. many are being moved to museums or organizations that preserve historical monuments. INTERESTING.

so many of the symbols of the confederacy are being removed from prominent locations like parks, city halls, and other locales that are places of honor and moving to places where you would expect historical items to be.

i’m glad you are with me on this discovery, readers. this is important to point out and really focuses on my initial arguments: these items are being removed from a location glorifying them and being placed in a location of history. we are not erasing history. we are just choosing not to glorify a piece of history that represents nothing but oppression for a large populace of the citizens of our country, our united states.

dang, i was all excited to do a “christopher columbus is trash and here’s who should replace him” post, but turns out a lot of these public entities are doing the right thing.

oh what the heck.

**************

christopher columbus is trash, and i’m not at all sad about his statues around the country being dumped into bodies of water. i especially love that the charge is being led by american indians*.

“oh look, i discovered the atlantic!” – CC, probably.

***************

here’s some cool statues, per my twitter followers: mr. rogers in pittsburgh, mary tyler moore in minneapolis, statue of liberty, salmon sculpture in portland, the girl standing up to the bull on wall street, actual ART like the thinker, easter island heads, etc. check out this boredpanda page for a bunch of cool looking art/statue installations!

thanks CNN!

* one thing this has led me to examine is mt. rushmore. i’ve visited many times; it was a staple stop on family trips to the black hills. it’s a national monument, but it was also the six grandfathers to the lakota. the original idea, by a doane robinson, was to carve american west heroes like lewis clark, sacacawea, red cloud, crazy horse, and buffalo bill into the mountain, but borglum thought it should have broader appeal and chose four presidents (who happened to be white men). oh, and borglum? a member of the KKK and had a deep believe in nordic moral superiority. excellent! so while rushmore is something i have a lot of past investment in, i also wouldn’t be sad if the NPS decided to relinquish control back to the lakota. it was theirs to begin with, anyway.

love in the time of covid (and protests)

love in the time of covid (and protests)

yoga practices start and end in anjali mudra, when you set your intention for your practice and then recall your intention. it’s also a moment of calm to focus on your breath and clear your mind. you sit up tall, legs crossed, hands to heart in a prayer position.

today i was sitting in anjali mudra at the beginning of my practice when lesley (my youtube yoga instructor) told us to create a space in between our hands, a space to represent our hearts. normally eyes are closed at this point, but i opened my eyes and frowned down at my hands, tented out to create a little cupped space with my thumbs touching, and i thought “if i could squeeze my heart into that little space and hold it out of my body, i would feel so much better right now.”

that’s when i started crying on my yoga mat.

but lesley, of course, brought it back to love and to send and receive energy in the world, and so i started my yoga practice with my mind and heart a little clearer.

******

on friday, liz and i went to the george floyd memorial where he was murdered. it was later in the afternoon, and the sun was bright, temperature in the high 70s.

we actually did talk about a game plan – what would we do if we needed to leave quickly? do we wear long sleeves? pants? do we need signs? (went with shirts instead of signs.) in the end, since we only went to the memorial we decided that we could wear the shorts and sandals that we wanted to. first, we stopped at megan’s to pick up a couple KN95 masks because it is still a pandemic, after all.

so a little over a week after george floyd was murdered, we stopped in front of the location where it happened to experience first hand what we’d only seen in photos.

the memorial itself was powerfully emotional. it was very much like when i stood in the lincoln memorial and read words from the president himself that had been etched into stone. the outpouring of emotion and personal stories behind each part of the memorial, each bouquet of flowers, each hand-written sign, each intricately painted mural – it’s overwhelming.

i think liz was pretty spot on when she said she felt voyeuristic during our perimeter tour of the four blocks total. it was uncomfortable, and i don’t know about liz, but i did feel out of place, if only because i know i live in white central minnesota. a diverse urban area is not something i find myself in often.

overwhelmingly the businesses that were boarded up against riot instigators were pro-protest. it was common to see BLM spray-painted next to the text that said “minority owned.” and the support from the surrounding homes was very positive. i thought it was really interesting to note that none of the homes were boarded up.

couches sat on sidewalks, and older people sat on them, resting their feet. young people danced and stood and yelled george floyd’s name and the continual mantra “no justice, no peace. know justice, know peace.”

a block in each direction from the intersection was filled with pop-up tents with supplies, food, basic needs for community members. anyone was welcome to join in the community of eating – food is the great connector. there were speakers in two areas, and liz and i stopped to listen to a muslim woman with words of steel, then a muslim man sing the call to prayer.

what’s beautiful was seeing the community. the response. the support. the art.

after we left the memorial, we headed to uptown, where more businesses were boarded up. where more artists were creating art and a sense of beauty out of blank slates and darkness. yes, all lives matter. but for so long, not all lives have. and calling attention to the marginalized, the oppressed, the ignored is what we need to start doing. by bringing it to the forefront, we’re uncovering some uncomfortable truths.

i think it’s ok to be uncomfortable though – and needed. because we need to push through this and come out the other side as better people and a better country. it was standing at the place where george floyd was murdered where i made a decision that i had to start engaging more. as an introverted, conflict averse person, that is really difficult for me, but it needs to be done because this burden can’t land on the oppressed – they’ve been trying for years and it hasn’t worked.

and this is not their problem to fix.

i hate having tough convos because it’s HARD and it makes me angry and sad and feel bad because they’re with people i know and love, and i stumble over my spoken words and can’t find the right things to say a lot of the time. but this is important. i listen. i learn. i will try to go slowly. change is not wrought overnight.

i wish i could cup my heart in my hands, hold it outside myself during this time; it would make this so much easier. instead, i do my best to send and receive love in the universe. and really, isn’t that what matters the most?

a spark at home

a spark at home

as i watched the protests-turned-to-riots unfold after george floyd’s murder, i grew more and more angry. i scrolled through my twitter feed, watching things happen in my homestate, my own minnesota, that i would expect in other places. as i write this, businesses have closed in precaution of possible rioting here in st. cloud (i live about 17 miles away). curfews came and went in the cities, as protesters continued to speak up for oppressed races. buildings burn. smoke fills the skies. people of all colors rage.

*****

sometimes my preconceptions about my friends surprise myself. as my anger unfolded, i watched my facebook feed come to life in a different way than twitter (less real-time, more personal connections). i expected certain friends to say certain things. when i saw particular people like particular posts, i wasn’t surprised. and then i jolted out of my comfort zone a bit as my friend M’s absolutely livid reaction to george’s murder surfaced to the top of my feed. M continues to surprise me in ways that really shouldn’t anymore.

i drove around the cities yesterday on my way to and from a pre-planned visit to see some friends and my parents in SE minnesota, avoiding any protests that might happen on I-35. when i got close to home in my small-town, rural, very trump-country area of central MN, i called M so we could commiserate in our rage toward the MSP police, the inhumanity of this murder, the resulting protests. it was like we fueled each other; we got so riled up. the topic of the looting and fires came up, and once again my preconceptions checked themselves, because M said exactly what i’d been thinking in the back of my head but was afraid to say out loud since this started:

“let it burn.”

*****

M is about as white and catholic as they come. i am as white but not so catholic anymore. we disagree on some politics, but i’ve watched her social stances veer toward left leaning through the years (though, as an aside, i’ve yet to convince her on the recycling front). and really, when you think about it, catholicism is all about social justice and  stewardship. why more catholics don’t take that stance, i’ll never know. i could go on and on about the maleness of catholicism and how women are the bedrock, but that’s another post. this is about our whiteness.

what’s hard to put into words is the paradox of embracing your whiteness but also realizing your privilege. knowing who you are while knowing that you’ve had a step up, a step ahead, an eye turned. my family was poor growing up, but we never lived in a place where the police regularly drove the streets looking for crimes in progress. i can bet you that every white person has committed some level of crime, and because you look like the cops, they turn an eye. or they weren’t there scrutinizing your actions. what the cops don’t see, they can’t arrest. the same kinds of crimes are committed by white people, and i’d bet at close to the same rate. there is drug use, theft, abuse. there are definitely money crimes. it’s just that the cops choose not to police your neighborhood. they also choose to punish or not punish in different ways – disparate, dehumanizing ways.

we can’t say that we don’t see color, because that’s not true. and we shouldn’t NOT see color. a person’s skin color is part of who they are; it’s a part of their heritage and life experience. to say we don’t see color is to say we are ignoring a part of a person’s identity. would you want to have a piece of you ignored or brushed over?

we can’t say that we don’t stereotype, because that’s not true. people’s brains are wired to stereotype, and unfortunately, we place preconceptions based on past experiences or what society feeds us. we can’t know everyone on the planet, so we need to group people into boxes based on characteristics. the most obvious characteristics are race and gender. after that, we place people into boxes so our brains don’t have to work to the point of fizzling out. i see a young white guy in a camo hat, driving a jacked up truck with an american flag waving in the back? i assume that guy’s a trump supporter. i watch a woman wearing birkenstocks hauling groceries to her subaru in cloth bags? liberal, environmental lesbian. we all do it. our brains can’t avoid it. when you accept this part of your primitive brain, the easier it is to try to work with it and break down the preconceptions.

*****

this afternoon, the president of the place i work at said something that actually relieved me a little bit. i’d been struggling with my feelings of anger. i was so angry at the police. so angry that this keeps happening. so angry that people are so scared of police that they feel like they can’t stop a murder from happening.

i am a run-of-the-mill white woman. i can’t possibly know what it is to be a person of color right now, and if my anger is at this level, i can’t even begin to imagine the anger and frustration a POC is feeling.

should i be this angry? can i be this angry? do i have the right to be this angry?

the president is a woman of color. she spoke briefly at a meeting i was in, and she expressed that we should ALL be angry about this. this gave me not only a sense of relief at the anger i was feeling about george’s murder, but also a sense of humanity. because of course all lives matter.

but this is not what that is about. and you know it.

*****

“let it burn.”

the united states has a history of disruptions and revolutions. the civil war. the depression/new deal/WWII. it’s time for another, according to the book “beautiful country, burn again.” (i would recommend everyone read this book.)

i am not a person who likes confrontation. call me a typical minnesotan. i like keeping the peace. i understand why people want to keep law and order. but when the law and order start to oppress groups, there is a tipping point. i was in an international media class in grad school, and i learned that it takes 80% of the populace to be oppressed in some way shape or form for revolution to happen.

the united states is built on revolution and rebellion. you want to talk about looting? let’s talk about the boston tea party. you want to talk about rebellion? what do you think the declaration of independence is? the first amendment in and of itself is the ultimate form of rebellion and watchdog organizations. american citizens have the right to assemble, have the right to freedom of speech.

i don’t condone violence. and i am the first person to say that your rights completely are yours until they infringe on others. i am no anarchist. but when an oppressed group has tried what they could and the oppressors have failed to notice, something has to give. colin kaepernick peacefully protested, and people got mad.

so when lake street started on fire and looters started to pile out of target with full carts, i wasn’t surprised. i feel awful for the store owners and the people out of jobs and those who will clean it up and the firefighters. and i am worried about residential neighborhoods and the people who live there (good news – there have been no reported injuries from the riots so far). there could be massive socio-economic repercussions for the MSP neighborhood if massive changes aren’t wrought out of this. but i feel much, much worse for george, his family, those who have been victims of power over the years, and oppressed groups.

it’s time to take notice, 80%.

*****

our experiences in this country are different based on what we look like and our background – and if what we look like and life experience matches those of who’s in charge. i’ve had hard times. you have too. like i said, i grew up poor. my 20s weren’t great. but i had access to an education. my family supported me. we didn’t have problems with food. i visited the library often as a child. we had transportation. think about all the things that you take for granted and what your life would have looked like had you not had a consistent education or people who supported you or food or safe neighborhoods or access to places to learn or be yourself.

i’m struggling with an answer to what to do. i’m agitated and feel like i need to do something – go to a protest (not a looting), volunteer at one of the areas that are helping clean or distribute food, donate to organizations that will help. covid, of course, is throwing a wrench into everything. but what i think is needed right now more than anything is to notice and acknowledge our shared humanity. if we see others as lesser than because they’re looting or because they’re protesting or because they’re lighting buildings on fire, and we don’t see that they’re doing these things because those in power have seen them as lesser than this whole time, then it may be time to take a step back and evaluate why you feel the way you do.

because i wish our society cared more about police routinely murdering black people than target getting looted and buildings burning. i wish we cared as much about a white woman lying to 9-1-1 about a black man assaulting her as much as we care about her choking her dog. i wish we cared as much about protecting black people protesting police who murder as much as we cared about protecting armed white people protesting wearing masks and not getting haircuts. i wish we cared more about people than power and greed.

so if this is what it takes for people to take notice and to effect change?

i wish i didn’t have to say it, but let it burn.

*****

When the sun come shining, then I was strolling
And the wheat fields waving, the dust clouds rolling
The voice come in chanting and the fog was lifting
This land was made for you and me

*****

FYI: this was experienced and written before we learned about the number of out of state instigators in the looting. i knew some was happening, but not the extent of it.

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