This is Not Normal

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​Everytime I sit down and try to write about the ongoing crisis in this country, I choke up. I get sad. I get furious, and I can’t write or even think about it. I try to avoid the pundits, but this week, everyone sounds like a pundit.

My aim with this post has been to provide places to find out information apart from Fox News and dog whistle sites that stoke the fires of fury and hatred.

Everyday, a friend on my Facebook shares lies and misinformation, not because he wants to create dissention, but because he truly believes the nonsense. This isn’t just one person’s opinion. We all have opinions, but as the saying goes, you’re not entitled to your own facts.

I will not abide the both sides argument. 

Fox News and the right wing media are so far gone it’s moved beyond false equivalency. Whenever the left is told to meet in the middle and compromise, the right forgets that we’ve moved so far right to get along, to meet in the “middle”, to compromise that center is right, and it’s still not good enough for the right wing.

In 2009, during the health care reform debate, Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan said, no compromise. Now, with a Republican President, they’re all about compromise.. They don’t care how hypocritical they are or how their ignoring more than half the country feels. And to be honest, they don’t care. They want what they want, like a child having a tantrum, and they don’t care who they have to bulldoze to get it.

Democrats are inclusive. We don’t always agree on everything because we are so diverse. We want to, and always try to include conservative priorities, but it’s hard when the GOP continually changes it’s mind and the goal posts. President Obama’s health care reform was originally a Republican idea that was admired by the most conservative of Republicans until Obama adopted it.

They, Mitch McConnell, and his complicit Congress, refused to seat President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, refused to even vote on him, but now, with a President, who just two days ago, on international television put, not only a foreign government, but a hostile foreign government who attacked our country over our country, they’re moving ahead with the least popular Supreme Court nominee ever. The President defended the Russian election interference, and disparaged our intelligence agencies. I would have never thought I’d see the day that the Republicans would side with Russia over the United States of America. And after seeing his lukewarm “clarification” a day later, it only confirms many of our worse fears.

We are the majority in this country; why are we the one who are always expected to compromise? The right should move left to meet where the country actually is.

The rest of this post is a list of recommended readings and Twitter/social media followings that you should try to check out. It is important to each one of us to gather the information from reliable sources, and extrapolate our own opinions.

Later in the week, I will share the recommendation portion of this post for anyone who wants to share it without my above opinions. After all, I can tell you what I think, and where I got my information from; I can debunk and correct, but I can’t make you think. I can’t force the truth upon you. That is up to you to accept, but I also don’t have to listen to the lies and I won’t accept half-truths as truth.

The first section are political books that I’ve read this year and last that I would recommend. Some are very current as to the Trump Administration, what’s going on right now, and since the 2016 Election, and where we go from here. 

After that, I’ve included the sources I read, primarily on Twitter, including some pundits from both sides of the aisle to check out to get the full story of what’s going on in our country right now. I think it’s telling that most of the news shows I watched today included significant video of Fox News sounding remarkably like MSNBC.

If you look at a resource on this list, and think they are too liberal or too conservative, take a look anyway. Give them a few days to get a feel for how they address issues, and what they say, and then decide who you want to follow to get your information.

For a daily wrap-up, MSNBC’s The 11th Hour with Brian Williams does a nice roundup of the day’s news so you can catch up and hit Google after or in the morning for more in-depth information.

Lastly, I would highly suggest that you read, or re-read George Orwell’s 1984. I re-read it at the end of 2016, and I had forgotten most of the story. It was eye-opening, and chilling.

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Travel – Bag of Holding

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​Before Christmas, my family was at the mall. I rarely go to the mall anymore. No money, and I can get what I need at Target for the most part, but a new Think Geek opened a brick and mortar storefront in the mall, and we were curious.

It was fandom heaven.

An entire wall of Pops.

Clothes that I couldn’t afford even with lottery winnings: an $80 Tribble “fur” coat for example. Bathing suits, t-shirts, socks.

Stuffed animals, backpacks, and a $300 Captain America shield. It was gorgeous.

The one thing, however that caught my eye was something I’d seen in their online store and was interested in for a long time – their Bag of Holding.

The top bag is the one that I have. The second row is a smaller version, more of a day bag. I don’t recall the price they were charging, but it proclaimed itself as the perfect bag for a fandom con. If you follow the link to their website, there is a new version of the Bag of Holding. It’s a slightly different color, and has some reinforcement. It is also the same price as I paid. (c)2016-17

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Emma’s Book Club

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Continuing the Monday book recommendations that I began a few weeks ago with President Obama, I’ve chosen Emma Watson’s book list for this next grouping of weeks. 

Most people probably know Emma from her role as Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter series of movies. She can currently be found on big screens as Belle in the live-action Beauty and the Beast.

She speaks out forcefully on feminism and equality, and whatever other issue comes to mind. She doesn’t hold back. She is the Global Goodwill Ambassador for UN Women as part of HeforShe which advocates for gender equality.

She seems to be a voracious reader, very  much like Hermione, and she shares that with the world through her social media accounts and public activities.

Not only did she have her own book club on Goodreads, she also hid books on the London Underground to encourage reading through an organization called Books on the Underground.

The first of the books on her recommended list is one that I just finished recently and one that fits into the crazy narrative that’s gripped US politics. Paranoia, wiretapping, fake news, and phony polls. When Mr.Trump became President Trump, people said we should re-read 1984. I graduated high school in 1984, and I know I read the book, but I couldn’t really remember it, so I re-read it, finishing it just last week.

The similarities are mind-boggling and frightening. One of the things that I am reminded of in both re-reading this book and watching current events play out is that history must be studied and learned and remembered or it is destined to repeat itself. In too many cases, we can’t let that happen. We must stand up for what we believe and what we see and hear with our own eyes and ears, respectively. I won’t get into specific politics other than to say it’s important to know what’s going on in the world and pay attention to it; to grasp facts and differentiate them from opinions and hyperbole. We still have time.

But first, read 1984 by George Orwell.

Obama Book Club

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The Harry Potter series is one of my all time favorites. It has influenced my most recent years in ways that almost can’t be expressed, and I found it all by accident.

As part of my Jewish heritage, I am prohibited from working on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. I was always taught that work included driving, shopping, cooking during the day, coloring, writing (how ghastly!) and computer work.

In lieu of any of those things, since most years I did not attend Temple on the High Holy Days, I wanted something productive, but not work to do, and so each year, I chose one or two books to read. I didn’t read as much then as I do now, and so on the High Holidays, my way to prayer was to sit quietly, contemplate G-d and the universe, and read a new book.

Right around when I was pregnant or when my son was born, my friend, another teacher, gave me to borrow, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. I hadn’t heard the hype yet or at least it was at the beginning of its pop culture takeover, right around when librarians and teachers were discovering that boys actually liked reading if you gave them something interesting to read – a good policy for all genders.

So, I read it. I think it took less than the two days of Rosh Hashanah, and I needed the next one immediately. I joined legions of kids waiting on the hold list for the fourth book when it came out at the library.

In the interim, right after the seventh book came out, I discovered fan fiction, and then I was writing fan fiction and somehow started and became a group leader in an online community of a subfandom of Harry Potter called Daydverse. It was wonderful for the creative doors it opened up, but more importantly it brought me a group of friends of all ages and walks of life that I continue to be close to.

Harry Potter opened a new world for me, and showed me through the related tangents that I had different paths to pursue.

I am continuing to pursue them.

Like President Obama in this Entertainment Weekly article, I highly recommend the Harry Potter series to all age groups.

From the books, find the movies, and the careers of the actors; the actor who played Draco is now on one of our family’s favorite television shows, The CW’s The Flash. From there, check out JK Rowling’s Twitter. I have great admiration for her as a person, and she has a lot to say.

But always, always, always, begin with the books. The books are magical. You will cease to be a Muggle forever.

Recommended News Sources

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​I have tried to choose recommendations that will give perspective and a factual explanation or account. I will readily admit for accountability that I would consider myself. broadly liberal. I sit on the fence for several issues, but others are non-starters for me. 

I believe strongly in the First Amendment; the whole thing. I also believe that the Second Amendment has limitations (as opined by Justice Scalia in his ruling on a case.) 

Freedom of religion is the right to practice or not without governmental interference. Freedom of the press is essential, but not more so than in the next four years. 

My pro-choice support has nothing to do with when you believe life begins. I will never try to change your mind on that or what you believe. Choice means exactly that. A woman’s choice to have autonomy over what happens to her body. We’re upset about the actress in Last Tango in Paris, but if we forced her to have a child, we’re okay with non-con.

LGBT+ rights are human rights. They are civil rights. Civil rights cannot be discriminatory.

If you have further questions, please ask.

If you have any recommendations of your own that you feel I, or readers will benefit from, please add them in the comments. However, I will not support or recommend fake news sights or severely biased, click-baity sites. At the moment, these only include Breitbart, Conservative Tribune, Redneck Nation, Washington Times. Fox News news division (Chris Wallace, Bret Baeir, Shepherd Smith) will be included for information, but not endorsed.

The Trump election has changed the very fabric of our nation. It is up to us to bring it back to our shared values and our Constitution. If you’re for small government, you can’t regulate what happens in my bedroom.

Social security is not an entitlement. Neither is Medicare. WE ALL pay into those funds, and they are ours. We earned them.

Poisoning water in minority areas like Flint, MI and Standing Rock, ND are two examples where communities of color were sacrificed for white communities’ safety.

This is going to be an important time to get accurate information. Opinion shows/columns have their places, but they are not informational. They are merely a stepping stone to get more knowledge on a subject. You can agree or disagree. You can form your own opinion, but please don’t follow and repeat blindly.

Recommendations:

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Six Degrees of Social Media

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I have come to the social media phenomenon slowly, kicking and screaming the whole way, but go I do. My first social media was Live Journal before I really knew what social media was. The only one I didn’t question was Tumblr, I think. I don’t know. Maybe it was something else. I can’t remember. I’ve always followed my friend, Andy and as the months went by and turned into years – is it really eight years since I’ve joined the online revolution?! – I’ve refined what I do with my social media. I’ve gotten rid of some, and increased my usage of others. I’ve connected some and I love Instagram more than I think I should.

While my Facebook is primarily for family and personal things, I do follow pages and in follwoing certain pages, I’ve been exposed and introduced to others and so on.

And that is how I come to you to recommend seeing the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie. It’s not typically my thing. I never read the comic  books, watched the animated shows or any of the other movies.

I followed Jared Padalecki because he’s on the CW’s Supernatural and he’s an all around good guy with a smile that is warm and inviting. I love his whole family. Whenever I’d see him or Gen or the boys on social media or in photos of conventions, it would make me smile. It would uplift my mood. I can’t explain why. It just is. All of the Supernatural cast & crew are very much like a family, and I love that and am drawn to that.

Well, he’s friends with Stephen Amell who is on Arrow, also on the CW. So I followed Stephen Amell. He spoke his mind and this got him into trouble sometimes. He’d apologize, sometimes, and this down-to-earthiness of his personality was what kept me following his Facebook.

I listened to his live chats and I loved seeing him with his daughter.

He posted the trailer to TMNT, a movie I have no interest in seeing. I watched the trailer to support Stephen’s Facebook.

I liked it.

It made me interested in something because I watched the trailer.

I watched the trailer because I follow Stephen Amell. I follow Stephen Amell because I follow Jared Padalecki. And now I actually want to see this movie.

This is how social media works.

At least how it’s supposed to.

My Top 5 Social Media Personalities
In addition to Jared and Stephen:
1. Misha Collins
2. William Shatner
3. Wil Wheaton
4. John Barrowman
5. George Takei

My Top 5 Political Pundits
1. Ezra Klein (Vox)
2. Connie Schultz
3. Chris Cilizza
4. Planned Parenthood Action
5. Chuck Todd

My Top 5 Writers
In addition to any on the other lists above:
1. Lin-Manuel Miranda
2. Danai Gurira
3. Adam Glass
4. Robert Behrens
5. Neil Gaiman

Others that I Love
1. Norman Reedus
2. Greg Nicotero
3. Kim Rhodes & Briana Buckmaster
4. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson
5. Joseph Gordon-Levitt