Thursday, November 1, 2018

How I Got Where I Am - Part III

My Blogging Start

I was an obsessive reader of blogs for some time - Left and Center, at first. Eventually, I found the more Conservative ones, and read what they had to say about the same events the Left and Center were discussing.

Often, I would read the newspaper version of an event or issue, then, read a variety of blogs about that same topic. Often, I would have to check twice to make sure they were all discussing the same thing. What they wrote differed not just on their interpretation of the facts, but the facts themselves.

For the first time, I was examining events in depth, and realizing that the mainstream news was not nearly as objective and unbiased as I thought. I started following the rule of research that a professor of Civil War history had taught me.

He was asked, how can we decide what the truth is on basic facts, such as the number of dead and wounded? Each side would report massive casualties they'd inflicted, and very few dead or injured on their own side.

Reconciling conflicting accounts turned out to be relatively easy - just look at the muster rolls the day after a battle, and compare it to that of the morning before the battle. Armies will not pay dead or missing soldiers, so those figures may be considered accurate.

The principle holds in political disputes. Does someone claim that they received massive injuries? Check the hospitals. Get the names of those arrested, and check them against their claimed address - this will weed out so-called 'outside agitators'.

Does a politician make claims about proposed legislation? Use to check the actual text (surprisingly, most of the legislation is readable - some technical points might be hazy, but there will often be lawyers who can unscramble the gobbledy-gook).

For example, proponents of legal pot often make claims about the huge numbers of people in jail for simple possession. When you check that claim out, you find that a more serious charge was dropped for a short time in jail for pot possession - those more serious charges may have been dropped because the accused was a minor, or due to shrewd bargaining by the defense, or an offer to drop a dime on someone else.

Not exactly Jean Valjean.

Over time, I came to realize that most of the media was hard-left, the Center was more like Not-completely-hard-core-Left, and most newspeople were pathetically grateful to be included in the Kewl Kids group, so they would never make their Democratic friends look bad by asking challenging questions.

After Right We Are! experienced a crisis point - my other co-bloggers left for other things - I decided to start my own blog - Right As Usual. Some of my early posts (that included more of my own opinion, rather than just linking approvingly to another blogger's post), was this one, on Home Schooling, and this one, on causes of poor academic performance.

[CORRECTION] - I said that I blogged at Right We Are! first - yet, looking back, I found a post, some months after I had started Right As Usual, that mentioned being invited to co-blog at the other group blog.

Just another confirmation that memory is tricky, and often wrong on specific details. The times may get messed up, as may the people who were there at the time.

And, this one, an all-time most popular post.

9/11 and After

I went looking for a post I remember writing - on 9/11/01, and my reaction to it. I couldn't find it - if I did write one, it has disappeared into the ether.

No matter. My story is not unusual. I was living in Cleveland, and preparing to start in a new school. The kids were due on Wednesday, and I was doing lesson plans, as I recall.

My husband (also working in that school) came into my room with tears in his eyes, and said, "Planes have hit the Towers in New York."

I had trouble understanding it - I thought he was saying that there had been an accident.

No. He explained it further, and said he was going back to the Main Office, to watch the coverage.

I quickly called my daughters. One was living in South Bend at the time, who I managed to reach. The other, at the time serving in the Army National Guard, was tougher to reach - the phone circuits were loaded. Finally, after hours of trying, I reached her. She was watching TV with the man who later became her husband, also in the Guard.

My son was trickier - he was serving on the Bon Homme Richard (the Homie, they called it). I checked the internet for mail, and found that he had sent me a message, right after it happened, assuring me that he was safe, but not likely to be able to contact me for a while, perhaps weeks or even months. I sent a reply, not expecting him to be able to get it for some time.

Up until that day, I'd been able to track his ship online (one of the features of the Modern Age that is no longer available).

We sat in the office for hours. It was not use to try to get out of the downtown area - the roads were filled with people evacuating the large buildings. We were outside of the main area, so felt relatively safe just waiting until the roads cleared.

When we did go outside to drive home, the streets were deserted. The skies were empty of planes, and there was no public transportation to be seen.

Life as we knew it was over.

Inertia after the shock

We had some trouble getting back to normal that week, but - with the opening of school, we adapted. We were too busy in our new school to have much time for anything but work. And, in truth, we used work as a way of managing our emotional upheaval - we stayed very busy, so we would not have time to think and worry.

That next Sunday, the churches were packed - standing room only. People who hadn't been around in years showed up, needing the support. Afterward, some stuck around, having undergone a sea change in their life.

Others, well, they came in for a short time, then left again. Kind of CICO - Catholics in Crisis Only. They attend, when they have something to gain from it (being able to put their child in a parochial school, getting forgiveness for sins, soaking up consolation after a death or tragedy). Otherwise, they can't be bothered to stir their butts out of bed on Sundays, or show up when the Church needs THEM. If you are looking for volunteers, skip these people.

Getting some distance from family and friends - leaving the echo chamber

I moved to SC in August of 2005. One side effect of moving to SC was detaching from going along with the crowd. I was surrounded by people who didn't know my background or history; so, I had a rare chance to interact without people assuming my positions on various topics. It made it easier to react to issues without being confronted with people telling me "that's not what WE think".

It helped that I've always been able to resist the pull of conformity. In the 1970s, most - if not all - of my friends tried smoking pot, or other drugs. For many, it was just a matter of doing what others had done.

Not me. Not only was I NOT a heavy drinker (I was that person working at the bar that paced my intake, checked out the register, cleaned up, and called cabs for those customers and co-workers who were unable to drive), but I resolutely stayed away from mind-altering substances. In the early 80s, I had, for a time, migraine headaches that would last for weeks - one time, I had a headache that lasted over a month. Doctors tried stronger and stronger meds to help with the pain - picture a knife stabbing into the eyeball - but nothing helped. I could be knocked out by medication, but the headache was still there when I woke up.

They gave me Percocet - which is Oxycodone mixed with Acetaminiphen (Tylenol). On that, after about 24 hours, I was functional - but buzzed. I used it for several days, then decided that I didn't like life in that drugged state, and stopped. I threw the pills away shortly after - I knew myself, and realized that the potential for getting addicted by using "just ONE more pill" was great.

Side Note: the headaches were found, shortly after, to be Cluster Migraines, caused by things I was eating or drinking - aged yellow cheese, red wine (sulfites), and aspartame. Yes, I am one that is affected by Equal - although the industry pooh-poohs the idea. The "cure" is to avoid those substances that trigger the headaches. My husband was very helpful, and learned to shop around my headache triggers.

My husband joined be 1-1/2 years later, after he got another year towards retirement in OH, and managed to put together the paperwork for it. I found the move easier than my husband did. My dad had spent his early years in WV, a great deal of it in the hilly area. From the age of 9 he lived separately from his family, due to poverty His mother was unable to afford to feed and house all of her children, and Welfare was licking their chops at the possibility of removing blonde, blue-eyed children, to be adopted by other families. Those rumors about WV and other states trafficking in adoptable children were based in some fact. So, his maternal grandparents, and, later, his older brother and his aunt provided a home for him, until he left school at 14.

He attended school in the valley. The valley kids looked down on the 'smelly' hill kids (well, the hill kids often traveled to school in a mule-drawn cart, down muddy roads. It was the only form of transport that could handle those pre-1950s roads). Why a smart kid didn't stick around for graduation was a mystery to me for years. After teaching in schools with high poverty, I gradually came to understand that the social life for a skinny, undersized kid in ragged clothing was going to be grim. Hanging around for four years of lonely geekdom wasn't as appealing as the idea of making money and getting some social action.

As a child, I was split - part of my family had come from relatively wealthy urban people. The others were, even by the standards of the day, hicks. I learned to move between the two cultures without difficulty, and found it easy to relate to, and love, those of a less urbanized background.

In the rural area I'd moved to, most of my new friends were solidly against the Liberal viewpoint. They were church-going, hard-working, and expected their kids to 'act right'.

It didn't take too long after 9/11 for most of the Liberals (as they called themselves then) to begin complaining about Bush and anyone associated with him. No Blood for Oil, they screamed.

And kept screaming, to this very day. Anti-war protests gave them a family, so to speak. They were surrounded by others who agreed with them in every way. These groups became sort of a family - some of them were men (sort of), but most of the more raging protesters were women. It brought them together in an emotional bond, that persists to this day. They lurk in small groups (covens) that derive most of their emotional sustenance from self-affirming talk and cathartic outbursts.

Maybe they will find another "cause" that they can infuse with their sense of self. Perhaps, they will move on to other groups, less harmful, more useful.


But, probably not. We may have to wait until these Old Broads die out. Cults are hard to leave; it's even harder when you have no family, which many of them don't.

Some thoughts on that Incivility Thing - from WAY back. Like Civil War 1.0, this divided status didn't just simply erupt in a quick frenzy. It was the culmination of many years of strife between emotional people (both male and female), and setting off the actual gunfire in a Can't-Return-From-That blast at Fort Sumter.

From that moment, it was ON. In some ways, we never recovered from it. The more over-the-top party, this time, is the Democrats and their allies. The Republicans seem to be inclined to try to keep the country together.

More from Adrian Wooldridge, in the Economist, about the collapse of civilization.

I'll add to this in a future post.

No comments: