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anxiety in the time of covid-19

anxiety in the time of covid-19

i’m not an overly anxious person, but i do have low-level anxiety, and now is not a great time for people with low-level anxiety because it’s turned into what i imagine really anxious peeps’ daily lives are like.


the tightening of my solar plexus, on a normal day, usually starts later in the day, if it happens. i wake up great and anxiety sort of builds up through the day. some days i get no anxiety. other days i get a lot. i get anxiety when i think about anxiety (oh cruel world). it’s never-ending circle once the anxiety roller coaster starts. (this is going to be a fun post to write, huh.)

what’s especially annoying is that anxiety’s symptoms pretty closely mirror symptoms of covid (minus the fever). so thanks, evolution, for making humans an anxious bunch!

so what do i do to keep my anxiety at bay? well, there are a few things!

working from home

(my life in a piece of clipart)

i have to say, working from home is pretty relaxing. being in the most familiar environment you have and being able to just get up and leave and do housework or sit in the living room or head outside is helpful when weird situations arise. extroverts among us, of course, are like WHAT IS THIS I’M DYING HERE, but as an introvert, this is a pretty slick deal.

running (or exercise)

running while anxious is GREAT. not only do you release a bunch of endorphins after you’re done and move that anxiety needle down, but the anxiety creates some sort of super-runner vortex while you’re out there. you can run through all the stupid scenarios and get stuck in your head, of course, or you can turn up the music and try to push the bad stuff out of your head. some of my best runs have been while anxious or annoyed. and like i said, after you’re done, the hormone release sort of relaxes everything.


you’ve all heard me wax eloquent about yoga! i’ve been doing yoga regularly for about 7 years now, and it’s probably the most useful mindfulness tool i have in my life toolbox. while i’m running, like i said, i can get lost in my head and thoughts run wild because running is a repetitive, mindless activity.

yoga, on the other hand, requires 100% brain focus. you need to focus on keeping your back straight but tailbone tucked; you need to think about how you’re going to move into a pose; you need to keep your middle toe in line with your knee when it’s bent; you need to focus your eyes on something to balance; and all along you need to keep your breathing in time with the movements. there is no more room for your other thoughts to crowd in. then when you’re in savasana and your brain can release its focus on the asanas (which means pose! i just looked that up because i wondered why every pose ended in asana – makes sense now!), and you can release your breath into normal breathing, your brain and body are so relaxed that any anxiety can just suck it.


who knew?? puzzles, like yoga, take a lot of focus, and as such, you think about nothing else while you’re doing a puzzle. i don’t know about you, but if i decide to throw a puzzle on the table and sit down to work on it, i can think that 20 minutes have passed, and it’s actually been 3 hours. puzzles are ENGROSSING.

if you want a way to banish all else from your brain and don’t want to do any physical exertion, try a puzzle. anxiety knocks on your brain’s door, and brain’s like, go away. trying to find a piece with a little bit of black on the tip of the round edge and the rest is orangey-red with weird stripes and it’s got an odd hooked foot thing on one side on the -OOH I THINK I FOUND IT. nope. no worries – the search continues!!! it’s GOT to be here.

your brain on puzzles is probably similar to your brain on drugs. actually, i just looked it up, and puzzles are one of the ways they break addictions at rehab. brain power > heroin.

reading (oldie but goodie)

ah yes, the old standby to dive into a world not your own completely and immersively. as much as i could say that audiobooks are as good for this, i am going to say that you really need to READ a book to get this. in personal experience, audiobooks are not as attention holding as words on a page. i get distracted while listening to audiobooks, so i know if i need to get away, it’s time to read.

and now is not the time to try to be fancy or hoity toity – read genres that GRAB you. sure, we all like to learn about stuff and like to say “yeah i read that! it was great.” when you really did not think it was that great. because a great book will call to you while you’re doing other things. it will sing to you across miles while you’re working or taking your cat to the vet or getting eggs, carrots, and cream cheese from the grocery store (to make carrot cake, of course): “get in, loser. we’re going reading.”

(now if non-fiction calls to you like this, then you do you! i know that in general, non-fiction does not yell at me across miles to pick up its pages to absorb its words into my brain. and not all fiction does this for me.)

find your favorite genre when you want your anxiety to dissipate and just dive right in. for me, that means i read a lot of YA/adult thriller or post-apocalyptical novels (how apropos) or fiction (chick-lit, stephen king, john scalzi, pat rothfuss) or even really stellar memoirs (michael perry, bill bryson, running memoirs). for you that could be mystery, romance, crime, who knows! but your favorite genre that excites you is what you need.

there’s what i’ve found useful for me. finding hobbies or activities that can distract you from what’s going on is what’s most important, and i think it’s what we all need right now. making sure you’re not just moping around the house and watching netflix (unless it’s tiger king – what a weird show) is paramount. now is a great time to find out what you really enjoy with no distractions and learn more about yourself, especially for all you extroverts and social butterflies. for introverts with anxiety, we know what helps during times like these. take a page out of our book. (heh.) (also, introverts with anxiety, sometimes it’s hard to get off the couch. i generally don’t have this problem, but like i said, my anxiety is pretty low key. i hope the longer days are helping you out.)

guv in the time of covid-19

guv in the time of covid-19

i don’t think we need another soapbox about the government reaction to the coronavirus. that’s just clutter in the onlineverse.

instead, here are a few personal CV takeaways:

  1. you already heard the proximity alert i’m currently under in regards to nate. bad news bears.
  2. tomorrow i bring home my big imac from work to set up at home for working from home until further notice. all state employees are under orders to work from home if they are non-essential. of course, there may be times when i need to head in to campus to do some physical stuff (for instance, we are working on getting some 360º tour videos recorded and i will probably head in for those couple days). but i can do 99.9% of my job right now from home, so that’s what i guess i’m going to do. good news is that the VPN works and i’m able access all my files! (this is the “guv” part of this post from the title.)
  3. this whole quarantine/isolation thing won’t be too difficult, and i can’t imagine what it’s like to live in a heavily populated area right now. i’m glad i live in the country-ish and have space.
  4. i have got to stop looking at twitter and the news. an 23-hour-a-day info dump does nothing for the anxiety. during normal times, i wake up with little to no anxiety, and it slowly ramps up through the day. this is normal for me and something i just live with (i do have a prescription antihistamine/anti-anxiety pill i can take at night if it gets bad). now i wake up with that nighttime level of anxiety, and it just gets more intense as i learn more. some good news is that i think twitter has gotten over the PANIC hump and is moving into the QUARANTINE CONTENT phase.

takeaways are over, and now it’s just ramble time.

i like that because of CV, people aren’t out as much, making as much pollution. i’ve read some good things about air pollution in china being drastically reduced, which probably helps them out with getting through CV, when you think about it. fewer tourists in venice or someplace similar means clearer, cleaner water, and wildlife is coming back. maybe this will be a wake up call.

i like that even though the people of the world are hunkered down in their homes during this time, life goes on. the birds are coming back, flitting around in my trees outside, and i’m hearing bird calls that i haven’t heard in 6 months. rodents chitter and chatter at me when i get in my car in the morning to go to work. now that i won’t be driving to work, maybe the chatter will follow me as i go on a quick morning walk before sitting down at my desk at home. more birds will come, the grass will green, the froggies will fill my pond and fill the night with their songs. spring is coming.

i like that the minnesota dnr is leaving open the state parks. even though we need to stay 6′ away from each other, that doesn’t mean that we need to spend our entire lives in our homes. getting outside, breathing fresh air, being with nature and among the trees can do nothing but help, both physically and mentally.

i like that we’re at this moment where a reaction to a threat is social. to see reactions that are highly personal and interactional instead of a violent reaction is a really fascinating thing to take in, whether the reaction is extreme stocking up and isolation or going on spring break because you’re young and clueless. i’m not sure how this will end, with people being furloughed en masse and low-wage workers being paid overtime. i’m not sure if something will come from people finally seeing the value of teachers. i’m not sure that this will be the end of face-to-face education (i really doubt it). the social implications of the pandemic are bizarre. the people who get paid the most are sitting around with nothing to do while grocery store workers are considered emergency personnel.  (the former making an obscene amount of money while the latter make minimum wage.) will the value of work be examined? will healthcare get an overhaul? will “socialism” be less stigmatized? i think what may come out of this is that we learn how difficult it actually is to stay away from others and how much we do need personal interaction. we might say we live in a digital age of distancing, but we are social creatures. yes, even we introverts generally want to be closer than 6′ from others, especially people we like.

i like that my cats get to be my coworkers for the foreseeable future.

i recently read “beautiful country, burn again,” which pointed out that the US goes through a major overhaul about every 75 years (civil war, great depression). then it posits that we are at the cusp of another 75-year overhaul; this may be the trigger. while we may go back to life as we know it, it’s entirely possible that we may not. change is upon us whether we want it or not. so get outside. read that pile of books. do yoga 3x a day during your work breaks. thank your furry friends for absorbing some anxiety. live in this moment for now because we don’t know what’s coming. and stay healthy.

on LJ, randos, and the good ol’ days

on LJ, randos, and the good ol’ days

just yesterday, one of my grad school classmates posted on FB about livejournal and how she misses it regularly. LJ was the place where i first started blogging, after getting an invite since it was invitation only at the point. it was one of the first times i’d realized how the internet could be more than just a clunky HTML angelfire site, where i had inadvertently sort of set up a blog manually.

but what about LJ sets it apart from what i’m doing now? sure, there was a library of avatars you could use for each post, so you could set one that matched the theme of your journal for the day. perhaps it was an excerpt from some fantasy short story i was working on: time for the little fairy avatar. maybe it was about how much i missed xena being on the air: time for my gabrielle avatar. what if i was just feeling like shouting what was happening out into the world? just a cute little square closeup of chaseycat.

the most recent list of avatars i was using on LJ. omg why is tony bourdain not with us anymore 🙁

there were integrations that were fun. if you had downloaded and installed the editor on your computer, you could have it pull what you were listening to on itunes and that would show up on your post. my rage-y post could match the rob zombie i was listening to at the moment. LJ of course had a ton of plugins you could use, and one of them was a different little icon for each “mood” you got to show you were feeling when writing. mine, of course, was a set of little kitty faces with different facial expressions. an early set of emojis, as it were.

but it wasn’t the integrations and fun customizations you could do that made LJ something wonderful. i could do that with my blog now if i wanted to set it up like that. one of the things that made LJ wonderful was the community surrounding it. sure, you had your regular readers: friends, relatives, people you know. you followed them and they followed you; you saw what each other wrote in long-form social networking. but you also had access to millions of other LJ user blogs, and all you had to do was take a look.

this isn’t unlike following a hashtag on twitter now, except that long-form content is much more personal, much more involved, and much more interesting. you had duds – to be expected. but many times you stumbled across a goldmine of wonderfulness in blog form. in reverse, they sometimes stumbled across you. it wasn’t unheard of to have comments from strangers alongside your friends, and they ended up subscribing to your LJ (and most times i would reciprocate). this was the wonderful randomness of the anonymous internet.

i remember following a woman in grand forks and her journey as a non-trad student. there was a woman who was going through a messy divorce. several others, but the thing that drew me to them was their near-perfect grammar (what can i say – snob from the start). then there was one blog i started following very early on, probably in 2004 or 2005, that i just happened to stumble across. and i still read her blog to this day because SHE STILL BLOGS. and on a regular basis. (sure, i blog, but it’s not as regular as she does.) i follow her on twitter, but her blog posts are where it’s at. (don’t ever stop blogging, erin.)

which brings me to point two of what made LJ wonderful. in the current age of constant information streaming and sharing what is happeningRIGHTNOWomg, blogging is so intentional. you have to take a moment to put together a coherent post; maybe you have photos that you need to upload, let alone edit; your words need to make sense and flow for a successful post; perhaps you need to do hours of research (i often do). whatever your post is about, it takes time and effort to put what you want to say into words on the screen. in world where short-form bursts of at-the-moment feelings and 280 characters are king, LJ was its emperor. LJ posts took planning, persistence, and precision. and then you sent it into the ether and hoped for the best.

and it was a two-way street. while you wrote your post and said “yes world, you may now read this,” you also needed to comment on others’ posts you found helpful or interesting or fun. much like FB today, the reaction to LJ posts was just as important as the post itself. although i might argue that a blog post is just as much for the recording of events on a personal level as it is for the reaction, moreso than our current social posting habits today.

i think the art of long-form content is slowly dwindling. oh, we’ll still have books. we’ll still have news articles. i’ll still be blogging when i’m 65. but attention spans are shortening up and the age of video is in full force. maybe short-form is where it’s at, but there’s something about constructing a written piece that isn’t required, or isn’t 2 sentences of poorly written text, or isn’t just for the likes. and there’s something about the possibility of finding a random blog that’s just what you’re looking for, and hoping your words can speak to someone in the same way. our random, anonymous internet is lost forever, i think, and punchy status updates in 280 characters just isn’t cutting it.

check out my livejournal! it’s still active, i guess! i wrote on LJ from 2004-2011. 

you recycle. now what?

you recycle. now what?

you’re a good steward of the earth: you recycle what you can and send it on its way when the truck comes round to pick it up. but then what happens?

well, first, let’s look at what the recycling center actually takes versus what is marked as recyclable content, and what those numbers actually mean.

aluminum, glass, tin, and paper all get recycled. there’s nothing weird about them, unless there is plastic involved (like your to-go paper cups for hot beverages, cardboard milk containers, any paper food container in the refrigerated or frozen section; they are not recyclable, sad enough).

as for plastic, let’s have a look.

1: polyethylene terephthalate. this is your common drink bottles and non-film/bagged food packaging. this is generally recycled into bottles and poly fibers. this is the easiest to recycle!

2: high density polyethylene. this is the heavier duty bottles, like laundry soap bottles, shampoo bottles, etc. this is also easily recycled.

3: polyvinyl chloride, also known as PVC. this is what toys, piping, furniture, etc. is all made of. it’s hard to recycle and turns out PVC is a huge environmental and health threat! 33 million tons are produced every year and it keeps going up. it’s made from oil and chlorine, both of which aren’t necessarily green, and PVC is not easily recyclable because heavy metals are added to it, like lead and cadmium. less than 1% of PVC is recycled, and the dang things aren’t biodegradable at all. plus, when you want some flexibility, phthalates are added to it, which may cause cancer and/or kidney and reproductive damage. (think about how many plastic toys go into kids’ mouths.) ps: this really shouldn’t even have a recycle triangle on it. just a skull and crossbones with a 3 next to it.

(i think i’ll propose this to the EPA.)

4: low-density polyethylene. this is your sandwich bags, grocery bags that float in the wind and catch on trees, plastic wrapping. these can generally be recycled into more of the same, just slightly degraded.

5: polypropylene. this is your clothes. yep, your tri-blend tshirts or your poly running shorts are just plastic. also, some bottles, tubs, and the plasticky ropes. these can be recycled into fibers.

6: polystyrene. styrofoam! this is difficult to recycle because it’s lightweight so not a lot to reclaim (the transport of styrofoam to recycle it would probably cause more pollution). it can be reused, though! it’s unfortunate that so many to-go containers are made from styrofoam.

your recycling company probably very easily takes 1 & 2 plastics to recycle. there are several 4 places to recycle that are  in places of business – you see the bins when you walk into some grocery stores or home depot or some place (when i lived in st. charles, they took plastic bags in the single-sort curbside bin). everything else on the plastic side? a pain in the butt.

farewell, recycle bin! off to never-never land where i don’t have to think about you again!

but wait! let’s see what happens.

according to the minnesota pollution agency, here’s what happens to your recyclables:

  • paper and cardboard: half of the paper recycled in MN goes to st. paul, where it’s made into liner board. liberty paper in becker recycles cardboard boxes into new paper. and a duluth company uses recycled paper fiber to make new educational books and business documents. how wholesome! make sure to recycle your paper! (but also make sure that there is no cross-contamination from your bottle of oil you just threw in the bin. wash your oil bottle so it doesn’t make your comingled items a mess!)
  • plastic bottles (1 & 2): they get chipped, shredded, and cleaned and then sent to a manufacturer. (hmm….. more to this, methinks.) so your #1 plastic gets sent to rogers where it’s made into food and consumer packaging. your #2 bottles get made into composite decking, lawn and garden furniture, and plastic lumber (all #3 pvc plastic, i do believe). so, something that has stuck with me since my hippie environmental class during a J-term at st. ben’s is that plastic is not a pure recyclable. it always has to get made into something a little worse, unlike aluminum cans or glass bottles, which can be recycled over and over into aluminum cans or glass bottles. and remember, #3 plastic – PVC – is awful and can never break down. it just breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces that fish and birds and even humans eat and can’t digest.
  • cars, cans, appliances: aluminum is smelted and turned into ingots for a bunch of stuff like new cans, cars, and signs. aluminum is a very nice recyclable, and it’s lightweight. i’m not sure why more companies don’t use aluminum packaging.
  • glass: guess what! more glass. over the past 20 years, i’ve noticed more and more food manufacturers moving to plastic over glass (mayonnaise jars, peanut butter jars, etc.). glass is heavy, so i get that they want to save money on transport, but is it worth the tradeoff? maybe we need to move to the old model of returning your pop bottles to the grocery store to get a deposit back.

(i have fond memories of glass bottle returns at the red owl in austin!)

a few months ago china said “hey, we’re done taking your recyclables.” which got me wondering – are we REALLY recycling our stuff? or are we sending our garbage to china, where it sits in another landfill? well, actually, china said “hey no thanks; we don’t want your dirty recyclables” because they were all contaminated.

there’s a documentary about china and our garbage that i want to watch called “plastic china.” people pick through huge amounts of waste coming from us and europe, shredding and melting plastic they can find and then burning the rest into the open air. ugh. it’s on amazon prime, so i’m planning on watching that VERY soon.

plastic recyclable prices have plummeted. it’s not even worth recycling. and they can barely give away paper recyclables. what’s going on? can’t we take that paper and cardboard and create better packaging for mailers, instead of those awful plastic bubble wrap things that have to go in the trash? so now, countries have these recyclables piling up because china isn’t taking them – but was it even worth it then? if they were just burning it anyway?

what’s a person to do? of all the plastic produced ever, only 9% has been recycled. at this moment in time, we’re sitting about about 20% recycled each year. this is not good news. plastic is made from oil, which is a finite product. (and if you really are concerned about gas prices and oil prices, maybe you should be taking a good hard look at HOW MUCH plastic is sitting on the shelves at your local grocery store. It’s mind boggling. and the food giants seem to keep converting more and more packaging to … plastic.)

and the recycling process itself isn’t necessarily environmentally friendly, when it DOES happen. it needs to be shipped, it needs to be sorted, it needs to be washed, it needs to be chopped up, it needs to be melted, and then it needs to be manufactured into something else. that process isn’t carbon-free these days.

BUT, that all needs to happen with glass and aluminum/metal, too, doesn’t it? you bet. extracting the raw material for aluminum is not very kind to the earth. glass is pretty easy to make but has a heavier footprint for transport (and they break). but think about it though: glass, aluminum, and metal are all recyclable back into their original forms; it could be an endless process once one is made. plastic is not able to go back it its original form; it’s the most difficult to recycle AND it’s the least recycled product.

let me insert here that i KNOW plastic has a place, especially in health care [even though we somehow lived without it for a while] and i KNOW that we won’t get rid of it overnight. but let’s try to figure this out – no one wants to live in a dump. no one can say they think landfills full of garbage, and animals eating plastic, and plastic floating around in the ocean, and people picking through our waste in a burning dump are good things.

so what can be done?

  1. contact big offenders: food companies are huge single-use plastic offenders. i signed this petition. you should too. or find a different petition to sign if you have a beef with greenpeace. i’m also going to work on contacting the big ones (coke, pepsi, nestle, etc.) directly, too.
  2. buy food items that don’t come in plastic. i’m awful at this because it’s incredibly difficult. buy in bulk using your own containers or visit a farmers market and refuse the bag. even if you go to the food co-op, if you don’t buy in bulk, chances are the item is going to come in plastic. but, sometimes there are choices on the shelf. if you see a glass or tin or aluminum option, buy that instead. and then clean it and RECYCLE IT!
  3. wash out your recyclables. if you’re lucky to have a comingled bin, food residue from a bottle drips onto your cardboard or paper and renders it useless. this is also the reason that some recycling centers won’t take pizza boxes (think about the grease stains on the cardboard).  i keep a paper bag next to my garbage can to put all my paper in so it’s not floating around in the comingleds to get contaminated. also, i’m going to do better with washing out my bottles, cans, jars, etc.
  4. push amazon to continue to use cardboard and paper packaging vs. plastic. we get a lot of items in the good ol’ cardboard amazon box, but sometimes the packaging inside is plastic bubble wrap. contact them and tell them you want them to use paper-only packing.
  5. maybe it’s time to check your convenience. i like convenience. you like convenience. the less work people have to do, the happier we are. i get it. but maybe you don’t need to have a stockpile of styrofoam plates in the cupboard because you don’t want to do dishes. just a thought.
  6. speaking of styrofoam, when you get a to-go box, ask the restaurant if they’d consider moving to non-styrofoam. or bring your own container. (i know; that whole convenience factor.)
  7. invest in reusables. instead of taking the plastic set of silverware, keep a set with you to reuse. try out some silicon bag-like containers. get some beeswax compostable wrap instead of plastic wrap. wash out your plastic baggies to use again. there are options.
  8. and what we’ve all been waiting for – remember your reusable bags that you keep leaving in the backseat when you go to the grocery store!!!! UGH. 


PVC plastic’s environmental impact

Beverage Container Showdown: Plastic vs. Glass vs. Aluminum

Recycling plastics – what the numbers mean + cheat sheet

a not-so-short summary of what happened in iran

a not-so-short summary of what happened in iran

today on “kate researches a topic and distills it into mass amounts of genX cynicism with slight millennial optimism”: what the heck happened with iran?

i feel like for 3 days the US who followed the news was on tenterhooks with iran and then whoosh, it just sort of fizzled out. so what the heck happened?

first, iran and US relations are not the greatest. in may 2018, DT pulled out of an international agreement for the iran nuclear deal (it was between the US, UK, france, china, russia, and germany and limited what iran could do with its nuclear program). the reason the program was going to be put in place was because the restrictions were really punishing ordinary people in iran (you know, the pleebs like you and me) and raising the cost of living immensely. after the US pulled out, more of the strict rules were put back in place and oil exports were affected.

but, a brief history of iranian rule will help. since 1979, when the islamic revolution took place, the country has been under theocratic rule – an islamic republic that governs according to the laws of islam. the supreme leader has control over everything pretty much, so no checks and balances. there is a president, too, who is elected, but he is the 2nd most important person. the supreme leader is leader for life, so the current SL has been in power for 30 years. 30 years!!! the current president, however, has only been in power since 2013, but he’s been working on a better economy and better worldwide relations. you might remember him beating mr. ahmadinejad (I’m a dinner jacket – remember that?) in 2013. i believe this was a part of the arab spring (don’t quote me on that).

so the new prez worked on the iranian nuclear deal in 2015, working with the above countries to create a better relationship with them (they thought iran was working on a nuclear weapon and were scared [really, they should be more scared of the US’s nuclear arsenal. good grief]). part of the previous sanctions imposed were specifically designed to damage its economy – stop selling oil and natural gas to certain countries – and this really damaged the economy, as the cost of food and fuel became super expensive for the pleebs. in 2015, the new prez agreed to the iranian deal that would lift the sanctions in exchange for iran cutting back on nuclear activities (can we all agree that perhaps some nuclear activities include NOT bombs? like nuclear energy? for what it’s worth, iran had said that its nuclear activities were peaceful. although who knows what they are doing.) it was hoped that iran’s economy would get better and the country, pleebs especially, would get back on its feet.

this deal is what the US (DT) pulled out of in 2018.

then, in 2019, four US oil tankers were damaged off the cost of the UAE, and we (well, probably DT) blamed iran but didn’t provide evidence. iran denied it. after that, a US surveillance drone was shot down by iran, who said it was in their airspace (that’s reasonable if its in their airspace). (at this point, DT tweeted BIG MISTAKE and said he was 10 mins away from an airstrike before pulling back. meanwhile, the US had been designing rules and restrictions to stop other nationals from buying iranian oil.

so there’s some background; if you want to know more about what happened in 1979, i’d suggest watching the movie “argo.”

now, some background on this suleimani dude. i’m gonna call him S because i don’t want to type his name every time.

S joined the iranian revolution guards in 1979 after the revolution and rose in the ranks pretty quickly.

  1. he fought against the opium trade from afghanistan to turkey/europe
  2. in 1999, he told the iran president to crush a student revolt otherwise the military would launch a coup
  3. he was set to start collaborating to destry the taliban, but hended after GW said iran was a part of an axis of evil
  4. he strengthened a relationship with hezbollah and sent operatives to they could retake southern lebanon
  5. he is described as the single most powerful operative in the middle easy and combats western influence to promote the expansion of siite and iran’s influence in the middle east.
  6. he coordinated attacks and other stuff during the syrian civil war – he was a strong supporter of bashar al-assad and thousands of the iranian military force were spread out across syria. al-assad said that S deserved most of the credit in repeling the rebels and recapturing cities and towns.
  7. conspired with russia for al-assad’s syria and tried to get russian military on board to reshape the war.
  8. worked to get rid of ISIL in iraq. (ISIL is probably the more accurate term for ISIS.) [i feel like this…might be good?]

some other items of note:

  1. he was on a list of iranians who were targeted with sanctions by the UN. he, along with bashar al-assad was sanctioned for providing material support to the syrian government.
  2. the US put him on a list that forbade US citizens form doing business with him.
  3. he was a popular national figure in iran – more for the conservative side of things i’d imagine. he was considered more popular than the president (but not as popular as the supreme leader)

not the best guy.

so, S was killed on jan. 3 by a US drone strike near the baghdad airport, ordered by DT. the reasons:

  1. he had been involved in the killing of americans
  2. there was an attack on the american embassy in baghdad
  3. there was an attack on a k-1 air base
  4. an iraqi-american contractor was killed by a rocket attack

at first, DT had wanted to strike the shia militia, but chose the most extreme (proposed) option instead. a little contradiction at this point, given that the above list was used as “justification” while DT said he was preventing imminent attacks on americans. DT told fox news that four embassies had been targeted for future attacks while secretary of state pompeo said there were no known attacks forthcoming, so WHO TO BELIEVE, WHO TO BELIEVE.

[also, this whole thing where DT was telling people at maralago about the strikes before they happened and NOT telling congress? and then telling the details at a private fundraiser?? how is that not a violation of state secrets? i’m sorry; that’s ineptitude at its greatest. what an iDioT.)

congress did NOT authorize the attack, and since the attack was done in iraqi airspace, there was also some controversy over not getting consent from iraq. hmmm.

so, what was the reaction?

  1. the US said this violated international human rights law
  2. some compared it to the killing of archduke franz ferdinand (kind of full circle there, wouldn’t you say?)
  3. WWIII started trending on twitter
  4. the risk of iran retaliating with war…well that was definitely a real possibility
    1. iran launched ballistic missiles at two us bases in iraq (with no casualties, but some servicemembers were concussed)
    2. the US embassy told americans it would be best to leave iraq ASAP
    3. DT said that any retaliation would result in US targeting 52 iranian sites, including cultural sites, WHICH is pretty much a war crime as defined at the geneva convention
    4. US civil aviation operators are prohibted from flying over airspace in iraq, iran, and the persian gul and gulf of oman
    5. iraq wanted US troops to get out, but the DT administration refused
  5. DT imposed new sanctions, targeting the metals industry, construction, manufacturing, textiles, and mining sectors. 17 sanctions against the largest copper, steel, and iron manufacturers were also put in place.
  6. …and then

and then, it seemed to fizzle out after the ukraine flight crash. this was an international passenger flight from tehran to kiev. not long after it took off from tehran, it was shot down and 176 people on board were killed.

an iranian military operation shot it down, and it was attributed to human error. after some hemming and hawing by iran, they finally admitted they shot it down after mistaking it for a US cruise missile.

after that, mass protests broke out in iran, calling for the supreme leader to be removed because of the deception about the shooting down of the airline. they called soleimani a murderer, and chanted death to the dictator. riot police are trying to rein them in, even as the protesters chant “they are lying that our enemy is america; our enemy is right here.” at funerals of iranians who were on the flight, people shout anti-government slogans. (this was just days after protesters were out rallying behind their islamic leaders after S’s death – such a flip! i am speculating that there were probably different types of people in each type of protest.)

ukraine, canada, and the UK, all countries that had citizens on the flight, are demanding transparency and justice for families. justin trudeau partly blamed the US for the shootdown of the plane.

so what’s happening now? iraq is doing its best to get US troops out of there because of its parliament’s relationship with iran and what happened with S. operations against ISIS would come to a standstill, and if the US withdraws, there would be more room to resurge. iran would expand more power into iraq. so the strike on S turned out to mean iraq supporting iran and kicking out the US. currently, the government is an islamic, democratic, federal parliamentary republic with executive, legislative, and judicial branches. if iran spreads out, it could easily turn into a theocracy.


you made it this far. this was a lot of info, and good job on reading it all.

i’m tired of leaders pulling us into wars and altercations and not seeing the humanity in all humans, whether brown, cream, dark cappuccino, or freckled pale ivory. i read a tweet shortly after the killing of S and it said something to the effect that the average citizen in the US has more in common with the average citizen in iran than either one of them have in common with their leaders.

the average pleeb in iran does the same things you and i do: we go to work, we have a home, we cook our meals, we drive or walk or take the train to the store, we have pets, we have families, we care about the people we see, we get hungry and thirsty, we celebrate, we have hangnails, we clean out the catbox, we worry about the weather, we cheer on sports teams, we brush our hair in the morning, and we struggle to sleep at night sometimes. i by far have more in common with average iranian or iraqi or argentinian or canadian or yugoslavian or norwegian or sudanese or aussie person than i do with donald trump or his crony cabinet members.

i think that’s important to keep in mind. we’re more alike than we are different. and i don’t know about you, but wars and battles and plans to kill people aren’t what i call an everyday thought on my part. when it comes down to it, i think people would rather lead a satisfactory life and be with friends and family than wage war with someone on the other side of the planet. i don’t know why that’s so difficult for leaders to grasp.




turn off your bluetooth

turn off your bluetooth

i’m watching a documentary about how our data is mined and how cambridge analytica persuaded undecided voters in the 2016 election and brexit. one of the comments was how the price of a person’s data is more valuable than oil.

it’s stuff like this why i don’t have alexa in each room, read paper books, and turn off as many location services as possible on my phone. another thing i want to start doing is remembering to turn off my bluetooth when i go into stores (they are able to use your BT to send you intrusive messages when you walk past these beacon things. they also know that you were in their store and will be able to send you ads). i was recently at a google ads training, and the person running it was telling us about how she turns off BT, which is telling – when the people who understand how the technology works and turn if off? you know something is not cool.

this makes me wish for the golden days of the internet again, before we were immersed in the internet so much.

i was going to write a short story today, but after i started watching this doc, i ended up not having time and also had to vent briefly about it.

book review – invisible women: data bias in a world designed for men

book review – invisible women: data bias in a world designed for men

unpaid work.



does it seem like i’m going to start a feminist rant? no. i’m going to talk about what we women have known forever.

i just finished up “invisible women: data bias in a world designed for men” and boy howdy am i annoyed. despite being the majority of people who inhabit the earth, we get the short stick when it comes to, well, just about everything.

caroline criado perez does a nice job of making statistics and data points palatable in her book, which tend to make me set aside a book if it becomes too boring. instead, she weaves in stories and examples with her data, using recent, actual events to back up what she’s talking about. (and if you’re worried about “citation needed”, about 30% of the book is footnotes and annotations.)

she talks about three major parts of women’s lives that are ignored in our world: sex, gender, and unpaid work. each of them is infuriating in themselves to think about discrepancies, but the most irritating for me was the medical section (dealing with the sex portion of this). think about all those medical studies and drug studies and all those medications you’re taking. now think about how the majority of test subjects and even mice are male. now think about how different the female body is with hormones and different muscle mass and metabolism, even. and the data they do get after these studies? they don’t disaggregate them by sex! so there could be a great drug out there for women that didn’t do squat out there for men, but do we know? no. science grants have generally dismissed research into childbirth and menstruation due to them being “not pressing” even though one happens every 28 days for most women and the other happens 360,000 times a day! if that’s not pressing, i’m not sure what is. and then let’s not talk about how doctors dismiss women’s pain as “all in their head”. did you know that a lot women are given antidepressants instead of painkillers? and the men in the same situation are given painkillers?


now, let’s touch briefly on the fact that when you include any vehicular crash tests that include dummies that are the size and stature of women (but not anatomically, so the chestal area is flat [think about where a seat belt goes]), the safety ratings PLUMMET. and they don’t even do crash tests with these smaller dummies in the drivers seats, because, you know, women don’t drive ever, amirite?

and let’s not even get started on phone size and the pocketriarchy. yes, she talked about both those things. i wish she had used the term pocketriarchy though. i’d probably’ve written her a love letter.


and that’s just one. unpaid work is another huge portion. one of the scandinavian countries decided to do their snow removal backwards (start with the sidewalks and side roads and move outward) and the number of injuries massively reduced. why? because all the women who travel to various places for different errands and to take care of people are more likely to walk and use side roads. the men who don’t do all this unpaid work just use a main road to get to their jobs and go home. women are also more likely to combine various trips into one: i go to work, but on the way home, i stop at target, i stop at the grocery store, i stop to pick something else up. husbands generally don’t do this because their wives do.

throw in childcare, eldercare, taking care of infirm relatives, housework, etc.: what do you think it would add to the GDP? she posits that it would more than double what the GDP is worth in its paid work. considering the average woman’s leisure time versus a man’s, this wouldn’t surprise me one bit. consider emotional labor.

ok, phew. i’m getting all riled up here.

for the last one, gender, which is inculcated in us from day one, i think what’s most telling is how the workworld is designed for men and women are told “hey, just be more bold. be more insistent. be more” when talking about the pay gap. didn’t get a raise? well, you obviously didn’t sell yourself as well as jeeves did over in the corner office. so we’re going to have a workshop on how to teach women to show their worth in the workworld. instead of this, can’t we just acknowledge that women aren’t as aggressive as men in the workworld and are just as, if not more, worthy? can that just be… the NORM? instead of telling women they need to be more aggressive in the workplace? and when they are, well then they’re just shrill. they’re too much. they’re HILLARY CLINTON. (such an odd insult.)


bottom line in ALL of these is that when standards are set or buildings are designed or drug tests are commenced, maybe a few women at the table would help. heck: if the table were half women, that would be at least egalitarian. because chances are that they will think of something that men don’t think about because they don’t experience it. that’s why it’s good to have diverse backgrounds at the table as well.

so. read this book. women, prepare to want to scratch your eyeballs out in frustration (only because you know it happens all around you all the time). men, prepare to have your eyeballs opened a bit. at least i hope that’s what happens and i hope you think about it next time you’re making decisions for the whole in a room full of men.

kudos, caroline. keep fighting the good fight.

some info on the green new deal and a video for you

some info on the green new deal and a video for you

if you, like me, are somewhat concerned about the climate and how humans are shooting themselves in the foot when it comes to that, you may have heard some rumblings about the green new deal. and you, like me, may want to know more but haven’t really dug deep into it.

well, this post is for you! i’m going to read about it and summarize what we know.

the green new deal isn’t new. it’s been thrown around since 2006 to move the US toward 100% clean, renewable energy by 2030 (solar, wind, geothermal, etc). how to do this? carbon taxes, jobs guarantees, free college, single-payer healthcare, and utilizing public programs.

(before you get all in a huff about the social programs part of this, please for a moment think about how social security is socialism. it’s even in the name *shocker* [yes, you pay into it. so does everyone else. and it gets distributed. that’s how socialism works. roads, police, schools, libraries, firefighters. all socialism. embrace it.])

it’s recently gotten a resurgence from the current congress, after AOC assembled a committee to nail this down. the committee was tasked with providing a “’detailed national, industrial, economic mobilization plan’ capable of making the U.S. economy ‘carbon neutral’ while promoting ‘economic and environmental justice and equality.'”

what does this mean? well, after working on a resolution, here’s what will happen over a 10-year national mobilization:

  1. guaranteeing jobs with sustainable wages, vacation, retirement security, medical leave
  2. providing all peeps with health care, adequate housing, access to clean water, clean air, food, nature
  3. providing post-secondary training (whether college, trade school, etc) to all people
  4. 100% of power demand is through clean, renewable, zero-emission energy
  5. repair and upgrade to the US infrastructure (eliminating pollution and emissions from these )
  6. building upgraded, efficient power grids
  7. new building would be energy efficient
  8. invest in zero-emission vehicle infrastructure and manufacturing, clean and accessible public transportation
  9. spurring growth in clean manufacturing
  10. working with farmers and ranchers to eliminate pollution as much as feasible

why is health care and wage info in there? well, i guess it would gain more support if those are included, but i think separating them out would help this gain more traction. i do think the social aspects of this are important, but i don’t think they should be a part of a green initiative. it needs to be able to stand on its own.

so in march, republicans in the senate called for an early vote on the GND without discussion or expert testimony. so that was great. it failed 100% (dems voted no in a protest i guess).

will this go anywhere? i’m not sure. i think we are at a crossroads. on the one hand, people would love it if coal came back, because it means jobs. but those jobs are dwindling even with a return of coal. instead of wallowing in self pity about a loss of an industry, how about celebrating and learning how to have a career in the new industries of renewable energy? we have a robotics/energy program at my college where students graduate directly into a $35/hr job. learning is cool.

more and more energy companies are using renewable energy options. i actually get 100% wind energy through excel, and i’m working on being a part of a solar farm.

new homes ARE more energy efficient. windows are triple paned or have insulating gas in between the panes. more homes use geothermal energy. people don’t want to spend a lot of money on their utilities.

and that’s the rub: if the public starts to DEMAND the items on this list, it will happen. if we start to notice that the coral reefs are dying, that our weather in MN is probably at the forefront of climate change in this country (i wish i could find this article), the extreme weather we have is a result, the drought in the west, the hurricanes in the south. pay attention to something, and the public outcry usually results in a change in business practices.

[case in point: check out the current organic/gluten free/healthy foods front compared to even 10 years ago. people demand things and companies respond.]

the thing is, we’re so short sighted. if americans don’t see something in front of our face, it’s out of sight out of mind. i’m not sure if this is due to our constant, inexplicable need for 100% autonomy on everything, or that our history only goes back 225 years (compared to europe, africa, asia, that’s not long), or that we’re just stupid. but if it’s not a problem now, then it’s not a problem.

i think that this needs to become a more pressing global issue with leaders and people earthwide becoming involved and loud about how we’re just plotting our own demise if we do nothing.

so, i leave you with this video about a very scary graph and the hope that some semblance of a green new deal, even just environment related, is pushed forward.



a tidy home

a tidy home

take a moment, today, and step outside. really pause and notice: the greening grass underneath your feet, the trees overhead, the pit-pat of rain falling on your outstretched hand; the smell of dampness on a chilly spring day, the increasing chirp of birds that have made their way north after the calm silence of winter; how the wind whips around you and the dead leaves and seed pods in the trees rattle against the cold in their hopeful knowledge that spring is right around the corner.

welcome home. this is it, earth-dweller. this pale blue dot is ours to call ours. it is our only.

somewhere along the way, a smart person decided to declare that earth day would happen on an annual basis. that we would learn about the three Rs in gradeschool. that we would encourage our parents to recycle and not focus too much on the reuse and reduce (arguably more productive than the recycle R). that we would plant trees on one day. that we would paint pictures and draw with our colored pencils and create art of the earth, our home, on this one day. somewhere along the way, the earth was reduced to one day.

you don’t think about home just one day a year. home is year round. home is always. home is where you are. earth day is every day.

and then it has become pressing. the science is resounding. the knowledge is there. and ignored, because why would you fix something that’s worked for the last couple centuries? why should you be inconvenienced? why would you need to change what you’ve been doing when you can’t see that anything’s wrong? why should the disposable lifestyle you’ve become accustomed to be taken away? you’re burnt out; why make things harder?

but: you don’t need to see the fire in order to know what to do when the fire alarm goes off.

and here’s what we need to know: the earth will prevail. the precipice we stand upon is not one of “will the earth survive;” it’s one of “will humans survive.” water shortages hurt people. flooding forces relocation. dying coral reduces species, which flows right up the food chain. after we’ve annihilated ourselves and several animal species, the climate will eventually equalize and the earth will be happy again.

our home is ours. we are not its responsibility. it is our responsibility.

this edge we are standing at is what future generations will notice and look back at. it will be the turning point of either something good or something bad. and whether or not you believe climate change is caused by humans, one thing i think we can all agree on: we don’t want to mess up our home. if cleaning the rivers and lakes, making sure the air is clear enough to breath, watching the crops we plant so we build sustainable agriculture and profitable agriculture, seeing that clearcutting trees is not just poor stewardship of the earth they grow from but also aesthetically displeasing, preserving natural areas not just for preservation’s sake but for our sake, is not going to combat climate change, then at least we can agree that keeping a tidy, clean home is good for the human spirit.

what is wrong with making the earth a better place to live in, even if human-caused climate change is a hoax?

i like my house. i like cooking in my kitchen, sleeping in my bed, hot showers, sitting in my faux-cabin living room; i enjoy the amenities that life in this era has given me. but where i truly feel at home and at peace and alive? in the woods. at the lake. under the milky way. standing in just-tilled dirt. pushing fingers through sand on a beach. listening to the frogs croak in the evenings. watching the gloaming fade into dark. feeling the sun on a warm-ish february day. hearing thunder in the distance. kicking through autumn leaves. standing in falling snow on a moonlit december night in a silence so complete.

this is the home i love. i would bet it’s the one you love too. let’s do what we can to make ourselves hospitable earth-dwellers.

in which i do a brief history of israel and have some thoughts and also i’m slightly scared to publish this

in which i do a brief history of israel and have some thoughts and also i’m slightly scared to publish this

i have often wondered why the US is very much involved with israel – why we give the country money and don’t question politics. why presidents and senators and representatives and other government officials don’t criticize or say anything negative about israel. in fact, i blogged a 2-sentence blog post in 2006 wondering the same thing.

(let it be known that jewish people have basically gotten a bum deal in life. tons of stereotypes (which i have never understood), the wandering people, the holocaust, etc. i have no doubts about that. also, i don’t get jewish stereotypes. i just can’t comprehend why people are prejudiced against jews. good on you if you get it; i just don’t.)

i’ve asked my peers what the deal is. no one seems to have a good answer.

and then MN representative ilhan omar (a muslim of somali descent) asked a question that i thought was relevant and useful in my own musings on israel dealings, and she got SUCH criticism.

What I’m fearful of — because Rashida [Tlaib] and I are Muslim — that a lot of our Jewish colleagues, a lot of our constituents, a lot of our allies, go to thinking that everything we say about Israel to be anti-Semitic because we are Muslim. And so to me, it’s something that becomes designed to end the debate because you get in this space of — yes, I know what intolerance looks like and I’m sensitive when someone says, “The words you used, Ilhan, are resemblance [sic] of intolerance.” And I am cautious of that and I feel pained by that.

But it’s almost as if, every single time we say something regardless of what it is we say that is supposed to be about foreign policy or engagement or advocacy about ending oppression or the freeing of every human life and wanting dignity, we get to be labeled something, and that ends the discussion. Because we end up defending that and nobody ever gets to have the broader debate of what is happening with Palestine. So for me, I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is okay for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country. And I want to ask, why is it okay for me to talk about the influence of the NRA, of fossil fuel industries, or Big Pharma, and not talk about a powerful lobby?

(points that especially piqued my interest: nobody ever gets to have the broader debate of what is happening with Palestine; political influence in this country that says it is okay for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country)

she got slammed. and i got more curious.

so, if you’re like me, and wondering what the deal is with US-israel relations, why rep. omar is being lambasted, how any negative talk about our muslim citizens isn’t treated the same way, and how you are also now scared to even question this, THIS POST IS FOR YOU.

some history

i thought it would be good to learn about the history of israel as a country.

the place we currently know as israel is also known as the holy land or palestine. the land is THE holy place for major religions in the world: the birthplace of judaism and christianity, and it also contains sacred sites for islam, samaritanism, druze and bahai faiths.

various peoples have lived there, but jewish people were the major inhabitants from about 1000 BCE-300 CE. christianity became more widespread at that point and then lasted until the arab muslim empires conquered it the 7th century. then we know all about the crusades between about 1100-1300. then the muslims continued to hold onto it from then until 1917.

during WWI, britain was committed to creating a jewish national home – the balfour declaration – after the fall of the ottoman empire, when britain took over palestine. (some research into the balfour declaration indicates that britain’s intent was monetary. they wanted to convince american jews to enter the war and use connections to jewish financiers in new york that would help out. i’m not a historian. don’t quote me on what i found out on the internet.)

in the late 1800s, the zionism movement (a move to establish a jewish nation) had been established by jews in the russian empire. after a crap-ton of persecution, they called for a jewish state, arguing that it was the only way to protect jews from anti-semitism*. eastern european and russian jews began immigrating to palestine. in the 1920s and 30s, british rule continued in the section of palestine, due to (deserved, in my opinion) arab opposition.

there was fighting, and the brits tried to limit jewish immigration. then the holocaust happened and many jews entered illegally. radical jewish groups started terrorism against the brits in palestine, and at the end of WWII, the US on the cause, and the united nations voted to partition off palestine in 1947.

the UN gave more than half of palestine, even though they made up less than half the population. in 1948, the jews secured their UN-allotted land and some more. britain withdrew and israel became a country.

the next day, egypt, transjordan, syria, lebanon, and iraq invaded. enter much turmoil.

US-israel – what’s that about

ok so this is where i’d like to know more info.

in general, zionism was a non-issue in the US until about the time the british enacted the balfour declaration. congress passed a resolution during the wilson administration that supported the establishment of a jewish homeland in palestine. after WWII, the US was suddenly all hands on deck in the affairs of the middle east, which was a complete 180. the reasons? soviets, israel, and of course, petroleum.

ok, let’s go by some years.

1953-1961: the US was mostly out of the way except for loans for basic food necessities. a lot of israel’s support cam from german reparations, and france supplied weapons (to counter the attacks from the surrounding arab and egyptian attacks).

1961-1969: in 1966, an iraqi pilot who defected landed a soviet fighter jet in israel, and info on the jet was immediately shared with the US. this was during the arms race and escalating cold war, so this was a big deal. the US policy shifted 100% toward israeli support.

this was also the time of the 6-day war, during which israel decided to preemptively attack egypt. and then accidentally attacked a US navy ship (accepted by the government, but still held by some to be deliberate). in the kennedy years, the US was seen as a fair country by the middle east. by the end of the johnson years, the US was the most distrusted/hated country in the middle east.

1969-1977: israel had been occupying egypt and syria since 1967 (6-day war), and they finally attacked the israeli forces. thus launched the yom kippur war. soviets began to resupply the arab forces, and israel asked the US for military supplies. (sense the theme of US vs. soviet union among all this as well. good grief.) israel cornered egypt, giving the US an upper hand in the cold war. henry kissinger told israel to not destroy the egyptian army, the egyptians withdrew the request for support from the soviets, and the soviets went along with it. then kissinger got the israelis out of arab lands.

oh, and this all contributed to the OPEC embargo that happened in 1973-74. in 1975, israel declined the US to redeploy to sanai. president ford then basically stopped relations with israel for about 7 months until there was an israeli-egyptian accord.

1977-1981: god bless jimmy carter. check this guy out. he wanted to start pressuring israel to withdraw from the palestinian lands they had captured and also supported a palestinian homeland. as such, he wasn’t the most president among the israeli government.

1981-1989: reagan, however, was different. relations between the US and israel strengthened under reagan because of his perspectives on terrorism, security, and above all, the soviet threats. in 1989, the US granted major non-NATO ally to israel, so that it had access to weapons systems. at this point, the US was giving $3billion in grant aid annually.

at the end of the reagan terms, israelis were once again annoyed because the US opened dialogue with the palestine liberation organization.

1989-1993: big news: secretary of state told one of the pro-israel lobby groups in the US that israel should abandon its expansionist policies (like, why was this even a policy to begin with? that’s what i don’t understand. you get a country after millennia of being flung about, and the first thing you do is decide to take over the land around you? how is that a good idea, especially since the people around you are the ones who got thrown out of their homeland…that seems a bit hypocritical). THEN, GWbush says that east jerusalem is occupied territory and not a sovereign part of israel. WOO BOY.

amid all this was the iraq-kuwait (gulf war I). the US somehow convinced israel not to retaliate against some attacks, and good thing because then it would’ve been all out war against israel. this paved the way for the israeli-PLO recognition and signing of  a declaration during the oslo accords.

1993-2001: yitzhak rabin was assassinated and replaced by netanyahu, whose policy was to expand jewish settlements. after a visit to israel, clinton offered $300 million for weapons defence.

2001-2009: ah, enter 9-11. israel was annoyed because bush II was apparently being nice to the palestinians at israel’s expense so that the arabs would support the US in its anti-terror activites. and another $9 billion in conditional loans were made available through 2011.

bush was also the only president thus far who thought it was ok that israel was pushing its boundaries, stating that it was unrealistic that israel would return to its 1949 borders (can i eye roll here).

oh, and here’s something: the US provided israel with bunker buster bombs, which were used on civilian areas in lebanon in violation of international law. ugh. why can’t we all just get along.

2009-2017: obama wanted a peace deal between israel and palestine. in 2009, israel agreed to a 10-month freeze on settlement construction in the west bank (but not east jerusalem. or units already under construction. or dismantle israeli outposts). palestine said no thanks.

in 2011, there was a UN resolution that declared israeli settlements in the west bank illegal. obama vetoed. then in 2010, israel said that it would continue with its expansion in east jerusalem (seen internationally as occupied territory; by israel as annexed territory). obama was pissed. he gave an ultimatum. (i don’t think the ultimatum included “no money for you.”) there was no agreement.

and then, netanyahu said this: “I know what America is; America is a thing you can move very easily, move it in the right direction. They won’t get in their way.”

obama pushed for pre-1967 borders (before the 6-day war) and settled-upon swaps – so that israelis and palestinians would negotiate. but also he was ready to veto palestinia application for statehood at the UN (so seriously, palestine is basically the west bank, gaza strip, and part of jerusalem, but isn’t a real country. this gets more and more messed up.)

2017-now: well well well. guess what. DT lifts all restrictions on construction in the west bank and the US will open its first permanent military base in israel. and he recognizes jerusalem as the capital of israel.

the $$$

let’s see. in 2010, $2.8 billion was spent in foreign aid to israel. $3.1 billion in 2014. israel has been one of the top recipients of US aid since 1970. a portion used to be dedicated to economic assistance, but that was ended in 2007. now israel just gets $3 billion.year for foreign military financing. 74% must be spent by purchasing US defense equipment, services, and training. what a stupid subsidy for US industries. (talk about welfare.)

the land

israel’s need to expand is disturbing to me. but it views jerusalem as a god-given right. israelis actually threw rocks at US diplomats who’d come to check out vandalism at a grove of olive trees planted in honor of a palestinian who had died after an altercation with a soldier from israel. this was in the israel-occupied area of the west bank. seriously?

since the 6-day war, when israel annexed east jerusalem, the arabs have been pushed out of their neighborhoods where israel is building homes and government offices. israel insists that jerusalem is its capitol.

all this is weird to me because the large portion of israelis are jewish immigrants since 1947. and even before that, jerusalem was established around 3500 BCE and it wasn’t until 1000 BCE that it became the jewish kingdom. babylonians occupied it in about 600 BC, destroyed the temple, and exiled the jews. but then 50 years later, jews were allowed to return and rebuild the temple.

in 300 BCE, alexander the great took over, and since then a few different groups have ruled it: romans, persians, arabs, egyptians, crusaders, islamists, etc.

its holy connections:

  1. the jewish temple built in 37 BCE
  2. jesus was crucified 30 AD
  3. muhammad died in jerusalem in 630ish AD

see, THREE MAJOR RELIGIONS can claim that town.

israeli citizenship

i wondered if american jews were automatically citizens of israel. but here’s an interesting thing. since palestinians were living in israel when it became a country, you’d thing that they would automatically become citizens. not so. arabs only became citizens if they met certain stipulations, and since many of them fled during the 1948 war, they didn’t meet residency requirements. in fact, they became stateless because none of the surrounding arab countries where they were refugees would grant citizenship (except jordan). imagine that: you’re hanging out at home, then some country halfway across the globe decides that your lands should be made into a different country, they immigrate there, a war starts, you hightail it outta there because war, then when it settles down you want to go back home and you can’t because you don’t meet these citizenship stipulations that you didn’t know about when you fled. because they weren’t enacted.

so, a few ways on how to become an israeli citizen:

  1. live there. those arabs/palestinians who were continuously present were granted citizenship.
  2. descent. if you are born of israeli citizens, you are a citizen.
  3. law of return. all jews have the right to immigrate to israel and claim citizenship upon arrival. after three months, immigrants receive israeli citizenship.

israelis can hold dual citizenship.

US citizens can hold dual citizenship, BUT if you are naturalized in the US, you are required to renounce any prior allegiance (not citizenship) to other countries (interesting as this is what rep. omar brought up).

the lobby

the lobby. why are there even lobbying groups in america? what a racket. i wish they would be done away with entirely. but that’s another blog post.

so the israel lobby is the american israel public affairs committee (aipac). it consists of secular, christian, and jewish individuals and groups. it goes back to the mid-1800s! some other george bush denounced oppression of the jews and called for elevating them to an honorable rank by restoring jews to israel (and then converting them to christianity!!!! OMG). doing this would benefit EVERYONE, forming a “link of communication” between humanity and god. good grief.

as for the current formal lobby, which works like all other lobbies, the members ask the government to stop pressuring israel to divide jerusalem and israel (according to the group’s founder). weirdly enough, a large chunk of the lobbying done is by evangelical christians.

jewish americans vote more than any other ethnic group and will vote according to a candidate’s stance on israel. jewish americans have also been major benefactors to campaigns. aipac is also known for being a well-organized, influential lobby (unlike pro-arab interest groups).

the aipac is similar to other lobbies. we know them: the NRA, AARP, big agriculture, etc. some commentators have been critical of the influence that the aipac has over US policies in the middle east. and apparently, this is the “tired trope” that rep. omar brought forth. according to some, there is no other lobby that claims as much criticism as the aipac, and this, i guess, is antisemitic in that we think there’s a jewish conspiracy (see damascus event* for example of such conspiracy theory). but… THAT’S WHAT LOBBIES DO. THEY TRY TO INFLUENCE. i’m so confused.

some thoughts

  • jerusalem should be a neutral zone, like switzerland. make it its own state where no one holds citizenship or something. the UN is its governing body.
  • the history of that area is so varied. it’s hard for one religious group to claim it because they ALL can claim it.
  • why does israel insist on expanding its borders? i’d be happy with any country at all! i mean, they could’ve ended up in china (the balfour thing suggested the middle east, but hadn’t promised it).
  • for a group that has been severely dumped on in the past, it sure is doing a lot of dumping.
  • is there a connection between the US supply of weapons and money to israel and the surrounding middle eastern countries’ continued dislike of the US? would 9-11 have happened if the US hadn’t had as close a relationship with israel? (is this considered a jewish conspiracy theory? good grief.)
  • i still don’t understand anti-semitism. like, why people are anti-jewish in general. or the whole money-hungry stereotype. maybe i’m naive.
  • lobbying in general i think is evil. it should be banned. candidates should have a stance based on their own research and morals, not on how much money someone gives them.
  • i don’t think there’s anything wrong with rep. omar’s remarks and questions. i have them. i’m sure other people do too, especially those who don’t know anything about the history i’ve just shared with you. just in case this gets “found”, i’m gonna say right here that i consider myself to be open-minded and did try to find sources that were objective. if that’s not the case, then right my wrong!
  • i think what’s happening to palestinians SHOULD be addressed. they are turning into a displaced people, just like the jews were.

i’m not sure how humanity gets to a point where we can’t see our own humanity reflected back to us in others. 



*some things that all jewish people were blamed for: the death of jesus, the black plague, they were forced to practice christianity (well, along with every other non-christian, let’s be real here), too lofty a position in islamic societies, those living in muslim lands had to pay a tax to muslims (this was actually true of all non-muslims living there), general expulsion from areas, discriminatory laws,  etc. i think the tipping point for the zionist movement was the damascus affair, when 13 well-known jews were arrested for kidnapping and ritually killing a french monk in damascus (????). 9 were let go and blood libel accusations (the ritual thing) weren’t allowed anymore.