Tuesday, November 7, 2023

Majority Rules

So, another election day is here. Our ballot is full of fairly complex utility regulations that I do not really understand because I did not do my research. That's an odd situation because I'm usually the one who did hours of research on the ballot issues and who can discuss them in excruciating detail. This year, I'm in a majority I want to end -- uninformed voters.

I've always viewed governing as the adult version of the "majority rules" votes we did in school. Increasingly, I'm not so sure about that. No, I'm not talking about the bizarre power grab attempted by a previous president now facing four trials. 

I'm looking at statistics that 61% of all Americans favor responsible gun legislation. I'm looking at a similar percentage who favor protecting women's bodily autonomy. But I still live in a country where we cannot get rid of AR-15s, where many states have no protection from people with known histories of mental health issues buying guns, where many women have neither access to birth control nor abortion.

So, why does the majority not rule? I guess you could say money trumps majority. The NRA, once a bastion of gun safety training now a well-founded defender of gun makers, no longer offers all the gun safety classes we took, but spends it's dollars making sure unrestricted gun sales rank ahead of gun safety. Where's well-funded connection who call themselves "pro life" foment laws that are "anti" -- anti birth control, anti life of the mother, anti the life of the child once it is born.

Somehow, a well-funded militia of people whose views are in the minority supercedes majority views. So how do we restore majority rules? We vote and we help others vote. We have to work a bit harder than we should because the minority has also made it harder for many people to vote. We help people find out if they are still registered to vote and, if needed, help them re-register. We organize rides to the polls. We educate voters to recognize the mail-in ballots they may have gotten in the mail. We work with election officials and the League of Women Voters to get accurate, un-biased information to all the voters.

My BHAG is to compile a list of voting resources, initially in New Mexico, eventually across the country, probably as a web-based resource to get informed voters to the polls. I fear we have only one year to get this together and failure could be disastrous.

Let me know if you can help and how.

Saturday, September 2, 2023

Can a Foodie do IF?

 I have always believed that cuisine defined culture. So, here I am, almost two years in a new culture. Not a new culture in the sense of traveling to a different country, but definitely not Kansas or even Colorado. I'll probably write about that in another post. But my indulging in New Mexican cuisine and beverages has taken me far from careful eating. 

At my last appointment, my PA suggested I try intermittent fasting as a possible means of getting my weight under control. I was, and am, skeptical, but I am giving it a solid try. I jumped in too quickly, without doing any research other than how many hours a day I should fast. And I didn't think things through in terms of scheduling. 

I fasted 16 hours (a fairly standard IF is 16:8, meaning fast for 16 hours, eat in an 8 hour window). Oops. I had an appointment across town when I was supposed to break my fast. So I wound up fasting 18 hours. In my ravenous state, I tried to eat a big lunch. Big fail! I ate about a third of the very spicy, very filling meal. By the time I got home, I wasn't sure I'd ever want to eat again. It took me three days to eat that meal.

After my too big lunch, I didn't care about food until about the time my husband was ready for dinner and my eating window was over.

Now, my husband just naturally does something like IF in that he eats breakfast around noon, lunch around 4:00 and dinner around 8:00. But we wake on a different schedule. I wanted to start fasting by 7:00pm.  This is a continuing challenge for my IF experience. Another challenge is that I have a medication that I am supposed to take with a meal and at a consistent time. Before IF, I woke at 6:30, had a healthy breakfast and took my medicine. So, it seems like it would be a simple thing to change the medication to 11 am when I break my fast. But, I'm not often breaking fast at 11. It worked when I ate when I got up, but now life isn't conforming to my schedule.

One possibility is to go back to breaking fast around 7:00. That has long been my habit. The challenge is that has me ending the eating window around 3:00. That would not allow my husband and I to have a meal together. And that plays heck with our social life which seems to involve dinners around 7:00. I'm sure I'll work that out somehow.

Beyond scheduling, or maybe because of it, I'm eating about 800-1000 calories a day which is a bit less than the recommended minimum. So the pounds should be falling off, right? Wrong. After almost 6 weeks of this craziness, I've lost 1 pound. 

So, I haven't been enjoying the local cuisine I love, I have been stressing about trying to eat within the IF timeframe, and I haven't lost much weight. I'll give it another month and report back.

Thursday, August 3, 2023

More than Politics

One of my first memories of a presidential election came on November 8, 1960. The radio announced the election of John F. Kennedy as President of the United States. My mother broke into inconsolable tears, "The Pope will rule the United States; we will all have to be Catholics."

So, my earliest experience of an election was the impact of disinformation that led my mother to believe something that could never have come to fruition, something that shook her very foundation as a Christian.

My mother was a dyed in the wool Republican. Her parents, particularly her immigrant father who came to this country from Germany in the 1890s, believed that the Republican party, which takes its name from the view of the country as a republic, was the party of the working class. That's not to say that they approved of everything that came from Republicans. Certainly, they did not approve of ending slavery, but in the 1960 election, they held to the idea that the GOP was protection from those darn Democrats who will make us all bow down to the Pope. They were, in that year, single issue voters. Where did they get their information? From their churches, from their friends, from their preferred radio stations, newspapers, and magazines. We didn't have a TV or internet, but radio was as much a source of information and disinformation as TV and the internet are today.

Some 60 years later, partially because of John F. Kennedy and more because of Lyndon Johnson, and the programs and policies they promoted (Vietnam not withstanding), I am a Democrat. And, I am watching legal proceedings I never imagined could happen as the former President of the United States is arraigned on four criminal counts for actions while he was in the White House, after being arraigned on forty some counts from misuse of documents after leaving the White House.

Later in my youth, the candidate who lost to President Kennedy got his chance in the White House.  Aside from Vietnam, the other scandal of my college and grad school days was Watergate. First, Vice-President Spiro Agnew resigned his position because the Department of Justice had uncovered widespread evidence of political corruption and accepting bribes. That was totally unrelated to the Watergate scandal, but it set up a rather unique Presidential cycle that ended a President never elected to that office. That was a time we truly had to appreciate the framers of the 25th Amendment to the Constitution, because not only did Vice-President Agnew resign, but President Nixon resigned to avoid impeachment and possibly an arraignment of his own.

So, I'm old enough to have a personal and first-hand memory of some significant events that, I believe, set a stage for our current events. And those memories and the history I have lived made me a person who researches the candidates before I vote. 

Donald Trump has quite a history. He and his father got in trouble for discriminating based on color in to whom they rented apartments. He's had amazing luck agreeing to a price for items ordered, but finagling ways to avoid paying for goods delivered. I forget how many small businesses have been closed because of his resistance to paying his employees and suppliers. He has a long history of filing bankruptcy to avoid financial obligations. There are multiple cases of his company "cooking the books," misstating the valuations of his assets and his tax obligations. I'd say he has a history of being a bad actor in his business dealings. But, while I have seen documentation of these things, I am removed from these actions.

But, once he became the President of the United States, his actions impacted me. He did not play straight with us regarding COVID, he misled us about immigrants from Middle Eastern countries and from Latin and South American countries. He lied to us, all of us. And, as was said in his latest indictment, some of his lying was legal, lying, but not cause for legal action. But when he used those lies to deny our right to a fair election, when he lied to stay in an office he did not win the right to hold, when he lied to some of his supporters so they would serve as false electors who knew he did not win the vote in their state, he did break the law.  When he kept secret documents that belonged to the government, not to him, he broke the law. It makes me exceedingly concerned that he might claim the presidency to hold himself above the law.

How does he have so many supporters? It's not unlike that election in 1960. There's a much broader range of ways to spread his messages. There are at least three national television networks who specializes in what one of his former staffers called "alternative facts." There are countless ways to spread his message on various social media sites. And there are the same means used in the 1960 election that led to my mother's certainty of the Pope's involvement in our government.