I’m not letting Trump ruin my…er…Christmas.

Originally posted on December 17, 2017

pccard

Just like he did with the NFL by making it all about politics (you’re a traitor and a “very bad person” if you “take a knee” instead  of standing for the anthem), Trump has made Christmas a political issue.  Football and Christmas:  two traditions that bring people joy and bring them together regardless of ideology, have now been tainted by Trump turning them into divisive political issues, and that’s a damn shame.

What sane person cares if people say Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays?  I sure don’t.  It’s trivial and dumb.  Trump’s belief that there’s a “war on Christmas” is just so stupid and wrong, because there was never a war on Christmas.   For as long as I can remember — and that’s a very long time — people have said “Happy Holidays,” a phrase that’s meant to be inclusive and respectful of people who may celebrate Hanukkah or other December holidays.   It’s not a diss on Christmas or Christians, and it’s not anything new either.   Heck, back in the ’60s, my parents used to send out cards that said “Happy Holidays” or “Seasons Greetings” because they had a lot of Jewish friends and didn’t want to offend them.   No one was offended.  It just wasn’t an issue for anyone.

Trump loves to rail on about political correctness, but he’s a hypocrite because he’s the one getting all bent out of shape about whether people say “Merry Christmas” or not.

Even worse,  now he’s ruined Christmas for a lot of folks by making it political, when it should be anything but.   I’ve heard so many people say they’re afraid to say “Happy Holidays” now because they’re afraid they’ll be perceived by Trump supporters as being rebellious or subversive.  Other people have said they’re afraid to say “Merry Christmas” because they might be mistaken for Trump supporters.

I’m not letting that apricot menace ruin my Christmas.

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas, everyone!

*****

Further reading:

10 Reasons Why the “War on Christmas” is Bogus 

Football and Christmas: How Trump is Destroying Two American Traditions

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Something new I’ve noticed about narcissists.

empty_mirror_by_dred8667

I received an email today from a reader asking me if narcissists have preferences — that is, do they really have opinions of their own?  An example was used of a man who said he likes a certain TV show, but when asked who his favorite character on the show was, couldn’t (or wouldn’t) name one, as if he hadn’t actually ever watched the show.

Did he really have a favorite TV show, or was he just saying he had one to give the impression he had his own opinions?    The email writer also said that this person changes his mind a lot and seems to tell different people different things which sometimes conflict.  (I haven’t answered this email yet, but my answer will be that I really don’t know if narcissists have their own preferences or not).

This was an interesting question to me, because of something I’ve been noticing lately about narcissists, especially when they (temporarily) drop their mask.   I noticed they seem to have no personality.   Many people have said they seem soulless, but it isn’t really that.  It’s not a question of whether they’re good, evil, or in between.   It’s more as if they’re a blank slate and there’s nothing imprinted on that slate.   I get the impression of a sort of nebulous “white fog” where a person should be.    It’s like a person without a personality, who then adopts a false one to give the impression that they have their own interests, preferences, like and dislikes, when in actuality they don’t have much of an opinion about anything.   Depending on the person or situation, they “change their minds”–so when talking to one person they may like ABC, but when talking to another one, they like XYZ instead (and dislike ABC).

When a narcissist drops their mask (for whatever reason) it’s as if you’re trying to communicate with a blank wall.   They still don’t share their true self with you because they don’t even know who their true self is (if it’s even accessible), so it’s like there’s no “self” there at all.  It’s both unsettling and sad.

I know one who began to open up about their past and get into some some real meat about the trauma they had experienced when young, but then she abruptly stopped, probably because it was too painful or scary.  I can’t get a clear impression of this individual; she shares nothing personal and is more like a shadow than a real person.   She seems to be trapped in a weird no-man’s-land between the shame of no longer wanting to present a false self (she knows she has NPD and is in therapy) but also not having the courage (or the ability) to present a true one either.

It occurred to me this could be some form of dissociation.

6 ways the 1990’s were more like the ’60s than they are like today.

time-internet-1994
Time magazine cover from 1994.

It may not seem like it, but the 1990s are now a really, really long time ago.   I was gobsmacked one day not long ago when I realized the year my son was born (1991) is exactly halfway between 2016 and 1966!   1991 only seems like yesterday, while 1966 seems like it might have been a thousand years ago.   Of course, time does seem to speed up the older you get (I was just a little kid in ’66), but the chunk of time between ’66 and ’91 seems light years longer than the same chunk of time between ’91 and today.  What the hell is going on?!

In some ways, the 1990’s don’t seem much different than today.  The fashions haven’t changed all that much, women in the workplace was a given, computers and video games were around (even if they were clunky and primitive) so that decade still seems fairly “modern.”   But not really! In actuality, things have changed so fast in the last two decades (technology especially) that the 1990s really more closely resemble the 1960s than they resemble the mid-late 2010’s.    Here are six ways they do.

1. There was no (well, hardly any) Internet.

dialup2

Not for most of the decade anyway.  The Internet actually existed as early as 1969, and was called Arpanet back then. It was used only by the Department of Defense and by university employees and scientists working for the government.    Yes, there was email in the 1970s too.  But no one else had access to the ‘net and probably wouldn’t have wanted it since it was so much more complicated to use in those days.  During the ’80s, computers became ubiquitous, but it wasn’t until the late 1980’s that Windows began to replace DOS, making computing a lot easier and more fun.  In 1991, the World Wide Web went public, but it didn’t really catch on until the mid-late ’90s.   I remember a lot of people dismissed the Internet as a “fad” back in those days.   And of course, at first, there wasn’t much on it so it wasn’t the time consuming addiction it is today.   Few people had Internet until the last years of the decade, and of course there was no social media, so people got their news and gossip the old fashioned way–by reading newspapers, watching the news, or making a phone call.    We were all still isolated from each other.  It would be unheard of to chat in real time with someone in, say, the Phillippines.

2. People still relied on land-lines, pay phones, and called long distance.

payphone

There was no social media, the first cell phones were clunky, inefficient, expensive affairs called “car phones,”  and the closest thing to texting was something called a pager–where you still had to find a land line or phone booth to contact whoever paged you.   People still worried about their long-distance bills.  Although Mama Bell had already given birth to her five “babies,”  Bell Telephone still had a monopoly on the phone industry.  When you set up phone service, you were given a Bell phone rather than buying a phone from a myriad of manufacturers because they didn’t exist yet.   Pay phones were still on every corner and in front of every gas station and grocery store, and if you did have Internet,   you had to sign off in order to make a phone call. You could actually have a conversation with someone without them suddenly having to interrupt you to “take a call.”

3. Kids still played outside.

Group of children running together

Yes, there were computer and video games and Game Boys and cable TV, which tended to keep kids inside more than in earlier decades,  but there was a lot less to do than there is today.   The games were pretty primitive and didn’t have great graphics and were a lot simpler–not as many “levels” you could achieve.  You also couldn’t play games over the Internet with other users or chat with kids in other states or countries.     Although parents were more anxious about letting their kids out to play unsupervised than they had been in earlier decades, kids did still play outside when they grew bored with the limited technological activities at home.

4. The economy was booming and it was easy to find a good job.

job_application

Whether you loved Bill Clinton or hated him, you gotta admit he got the economy going and in a big way too.   Jobs were everywhere, and they weren’t all low wage service jobs like they are today.  Companies still cared about their employees, encouraged employee growth, and offered good health insurance and other benefits, generous vacation time, and even time and a half pay for hourly workers who worked overtime.   There were lots of start up companies, and although many of them (the Dot Com boom) went bankrupt later, there was always a job to be found.  You also didn’t have to apply for a job online only to have your email or online application never even seen by anyone.  In those days, you could still walk into a place and ask for a written application, and sometimes even see a manager that same day.   It still wasn’t a rarity to lose or leave one job but be able to find a new job the next day, and sometimes a better one.

One other thing–you weren’t likely to be “profiled” and have background checks run on you the way you are today.

5. People still listened to rock music on the radio and bought “records.”

radio

The ’90’s is thought by many to be one of the best decades for rock music.   Grunge got its start in the early ’90s, but there were plenty of other new rock and pop genres being played too–and you could hear all of it on most radio stations that played music.   Deejays were still allowed to play what they wanted, rather than playing only what corporate executives told them to play, and there was a lot more variety in the kinds of music being played.   Today, if you listen to the radio at all, you’ll hear the same 10 songs played in rotation, and those 10 songs all sound pretty much the same.  Although there’s still rock music being made, it doesn’t get airplay on commercial radio.  You have to find a local indie station or go to Youtube or Sirius for that.   Also, people still bought their music in tangible form. Okay, they were CD’s rather than LPs, but it was still something you bought in a store and could hold in your hand and have the pleasure of peeling off the cellophane.

6. People still read magazines, newspapers, and books.

newsstand

Magazine, paper, and book sales have plummeted, due to Internet “magazines” and websites and digital readers like Kindle. Sure, there are book purists and books may never really go away because there’s nothing like the smell and feel of a book, but magazines? I could see them going the way of 8 Track Tapes in the not too distant future. What will we do in waiting rooms when that happens? Play on our phones, I guess.

Can you think of any other ways the ’90’s resembled the 1960’s more than today?

Pretend it’s 1995.

Image

1995

5 things I can’t believe I ever lived without.

1. Cellphones

old_cellphone_ad

Then:

A mere 15 years ago I stubbornly held onto my house phone and refused to be one of the sheeple who carried around an annoying device where you could never escape from the interruptions of unwanted callers.   I proudly told everyone I would never lower myself to having to have a cellphone.

Now:

I’m completely dependent on my Smartphone.  I used it as a mini computer and a camera.  Texting is also infinitely more preferable to me than talking to someone on the phone. Once when I thought I lost it, I went into a panic until I found it.

2. Internet

old_yahooad

Then:

I remember saying this in 1994:  “It will just be a fad.”     I much preferred my old Selectric typewriter to doing anything on a computer.

Now:

How on earth did I live so long without the Internet. Losing service is like losing my eyesight.  Now that I blog, I go REALLY nuts.

3. Flat Screen TV’s

old_flatscreen

Then:

2008:  They look like computer monitors or undersized movie screens.   No thanks.

Now:

I want one.

4. Texting

early_text

2010:

I’m too old to text.

Now:

Much better than a phone call.

5. GPS devices

gps

Then:

They look so complicated,  I’d rather ask for directions.

Now:

How did I get around without one?

Question #52: What if ancient Rome never fell?

Roman-Aqueducts

Ancient Romans had impressive technologies that got “lost” during the Dark Ages.While advances continued to be made, especially in architecture, during the Middle Ages, technologies that the Romans began to develop became dormant. Some of these were hydraulic power, the beginnings of the steam engine, science-based advances in medicine, the aqueduct system, indoor plumbing (yes, there was running water and flush toilets, at least for the wealthy), and even a mechanical computer.

But ancient Rome, like so many other great civilizations, including this one, became hubristic and militaristic, drunk on its own power. History shows that this kind of excess in a society never ends well, and Rome is a glaring example of what happens when a society becomes too big or too mighty. So Rome fell, and it took with it almost all technological advancement for a thousand or more years.

I wonder what would have happened if Rome never fell. I wonder if we’d be about a thousand years more advanced than we are today. Perhaps the steam engine would have been invented in 600 or 700, rail travel by 800, the discovery and harnessing of electricity by 900, the combustion engine (leading to cars) slightly later, space travel by 1000, modern computers (or their equivalents) by 1050, the Internet and Smartphones (or their equivalent) by 1100. By the time of the Renaissance, we’d probably be far more advanced than we are right now.

Would we now be colonizing other planets and traveling to distant stars? Would we be able to reverse aging or cure cancer? Would we now be immortal or have already self destructed? It’s sobering to think how powerful Rome would be by now if it hadn’t fallen. We might be living under a global dictatorship.

I think there’s a natural system of checks and balances that keep a society from gaining too much power, at least over any extended period of time. Societies that grow too powerful seem destined to fall (and are bad for its average citizens), but from the ashes of their ruins rise the seeds of the next great civilization. The Middle Ages, for all its backwardness and ignorance, spawned some of the greatest minds in history, bright lights keeping watch over the dark wilderness of a western world that was replenishing itself through a much needed long sleep.

“Simpler times.”

record_player

I remember growing up in the late 1960s and 1970s, I always heard grown-ups talk about the 1950s, which I don’t remember because I was born at the tail-end of that decade. People of my parents’ generation talked about how much simpler things had been in the decade of poodle skirts, The Honeymooners, Chuck Berry, and suburban conformity.

I remember my record player that I got when I was about 6. It was one of those boxy plastic affairs inside an aqua faux-leather box and had a pearlized plastic and chrome handle. It had a dial that said 16-33-45-78. Even back then, 16 rpm and 78 rpm records were pretty much obsolete, but one of my favorite things to do was obsessively play my children’s records on the various settings. My favorite was 78 rpm because it made everything sound like the Chipmunks. It made me laugh. The 16 rpm setting was scary because it made voices sound demonic–like the death metal which was still far off into the future. I used to wonder if there was even a such thing as a 16 rpm record? If so, I never saw one. I do remember a babysitter gave me a molded plastic album filled with her old records from her childhood, which included 78s. They were very small and came in colors other than black. I should have kept them; they would probably be worth something today.

My first album was The Monkees. I was obsessed with the TV show and in love with Mickey Dolenz. I used to play “I’m a Believer” and “Last Train to Clarksville” over and over, and kept scraping the needle back over the record to hear those songs again. All the other little girls I knew were in love with Davey Jones, but he just never did it for me. I look at old pictures of Mickey today and wonder what my 8 year old self saw in him. He really wasn’t that cute. One time a babysitter and her boyfriend played a joke on me. She had her boyfriend call and pretend he was Mickey. She handed me the phone and with a twinkle in her eye, said “it’s for you.” I half-believed it was true. I wanted to believe it was true. But when she told me it was a joke, I just said, “oh, okay, I knew it was a joke anyway.” I’m not sure if I did or not. I was so gullible back then. I went back to my room to play my Monkees album again.

the_monkees

I remember the orange and white plastic AM transistor radio I got for Christmas that same year. I was so proud of being able to keep up with all the hit songs. It made me feel so grown up, almost like a teenager. It seemed in those days new songs stayed on the radio for a shorter period of time than they do now–the maximum was about 3 months. “American Pie” was one of the few that remained in rotation for 4 or more months. I lost my radio about a year later when I failed to rake the leaves. When my father found out, he took me out to the garage, told me to bring the radio with me, and as I stood there, he smashed it to bits with a shovel. I was inconsolable. I would have rather been beaten.

I was in my teens during the 1970s and graduated to a real stereo. It was a one-piece console but still a stereo and I could get FM radio, which was considered much cooler than AM. Stereos were a big deal in the 1970s. Outside of fancy stereophonic equipment and color television, we didn’t have a whole lot in the way of entertainment technology. That wouldn’t happen until the 1980s with its VCR and personal computer revolution.

The advances made since the 1980s have been staggering. In the 1990s the Internet was introduced to the public and at first people dismissed it as a fad that would soon pass. Ha! Little did I know that in two decades, it would completely change my life. The Internet was like manna from heaven for socially awkward introverts like myself.

There were also the first cell phones (which almost no one had due to the expense and they didn’t work too well). The turn of the century ushered in the communications revolution, with cellphones beginning to supplement or even replace the old landline phone. The Internet is barely recognizable from what it was in the 1990s. When I look at videos now of the early Internet, it looks so primitive, like something from 100 years ago. It’s hard to believe it was only 20 years ago it looked like that. Things are changing with dizzying speed and time itself seems compressed.

netscape

When I look back on the 1960s and 1970s now, they seem so innocent. Kids didn’t have computers and TV was still pretty limited because so few people had cable TV yet. But what we did get was free. Watching TV became a something families did together after dinner, instead of each family member going off to watch their own show or play a game on their own TV or computer. Kids played outside, because, well, there was nothing else to do. In a technological sense, the 1970s weren’t a whole lot different than the 1950s, even though attitudes had changed pretty drastically.

The 1970s to me seem like another lifetime, not merely 40 or so years ago. Now I hear people talk about “those innocent 1970s” and I laugh because when we were in them, no one thought they were that innocent at all.

With all that said, I’ll leave you with this:

Remember this sound?

Dial-up Internet. Free AOL CD-Roms that came by snail mail and everyone threw away. Remember how slow and inefficient the Internet was? There was no Youtube, no Facebook, no Twitter, barely any photos. Remember when Telnet chatrooms (“talkers”) served the same purpose that Twitter and texting do today? When Email was cool and cutting edge–and Hotmail was the coolest of all? Remember Mosaic and Netscape?

Those days weren’t so long ago. But in the digital universe, it was eons ago. How far we have come since those prehistoric days. Where will we be in another 20 years?