commentary and current events

It’s Election Eve and I Don’t Even Know What to Write Here

In the last week, I’ve blown up my own Twitter account, become a meme, had my worst-ever bout of gastritis, planned a winterguard season that probably won’t even happen thanks to all the people who can’t keep their mask on, and started building another dollhouse.

I want to say something profound here. I really do. But after four years, I’m exhausted.

On Election Day 2016 I went to bed at my usual time, assuming that whatever happened would happen whether or not I was awake. I woke up to the news that Trump had won the Electoral College, despite receiving three million fewer votes than Clinton.

It was the second election won without a majority vote since I started voting. It was exhausting then. It’s exhausting now.

Here’s my best advice for the next few days:

Know what is in your control and what is not. Know when you have done what you can reasonably do. Focus on the things you do control, like whether you’ve eaten and when/how you meet personal and professional deadlines. If you haven’t voted, focus on doing that; if you have, focus on taking care of yourself and those in your immediate orbit.

Know that, no matter what the talking heads on the TV want to say about whether all the votes were counted or which ones weren’t or who made up what story about finding which ballots in which opposing candidate’s butthole, you voted. You played the game according to the rules. You followed the directions, and you are owed a correct count of your lawfully cast vote.

Prepare to stop a coup. Ignore anyone who tells you that preparing to stop a coup is overreacting. It’s far, far better to be prepared to stop a coup that doesn’t happen than to be unprepared to stop one that does.

Be the helpers. Mr. Rogers’s famous advice to “look for the helpers” in times of crisis is aimed at children, and it’s excellent for children. But children need helpers to look for. That’s the rest of us.

Know you are not alone.

A strip of “I Voted” stickers along with the words “Election Eve 2020” and this blog’s URL.
commentary and current events

Dinosaurs Vote: How We’re Letting the Past Decide Our Elections

Here’s a disturbing pair of facts to enliven your Monday Two Weeks From US Election Day.

One: The average time across all industries for a skill set to become obsolete is 4 years. In many industries, it’s shorter: Tech, for instance, has a skill turnaround time of about 18 months. (For reference, 18 months ago was when Notre Dame burned down. …Okay, maybe The Age of COVID is a bad era in which to be making time references.)

Two: In 2016, more than half of voters over age 45 held a high school diploma or less. That includes 57 percent of voters ages 45 to 64 and 66 percent – two in three – voters 65 or older.

This year’s 45-year-old voters earned their high school diplomas around 1993. For the 75 and over cohort, those diplomas came from about 1963 or earlier.

Meanwhile, a high school education is now obsolete, from a work skills perspective, for anyone over the age of 22.

I emphasize the high school diploma here for two reasons. One, it’s the maximum level of formal education attained by over half of voters ages 45+. Two, we still treat the high school diploma as a reasonable end goal of education – especially if “we” are 45 or older. Yet today’s college students have run out the clock on the skills they learned in high school just as, or even before, they finish college.

Oh, and also, the 45+ crew are the ones who vote.

Put together, these two facts point to a disturbing trend: The people who vote the most, on issues in a society in which lifelong continuing education is a survival need, are the least likely to have had lifelong continuing education.

Image: Blog title image featuring the title of the post and a picture of wooden dinosaur toys.

Put another way, the people who are most likely to influence the outcome of elections in the US are also the least likely to understand the world they live in today and what it demands. They’re still basing decisions on an education earned in the middle of the previous century, because that’s the education they have – even though educations earned in the middle of the last decade are, in a key sense, obsolete.

I don’t intend to imply that everyone over 45 is trapped in the mid-1900s. Many have had some kind of continuing education beyond high school, and/or they have continued to educate themselves in various ways.

But I would venture to suggest that the older (and thus more likely to vote) they are, the more likely it is this cohort is operating on a set of obsolete understandings about the world and how it works.

I know the rest of us are exhausted trying to revamp our entire skill set every 1.5 to 5 years. But if our election outcomes are going to reflect our lived realities at all, those of us who actually contend with constant skill slippage have to fill out our ballots.

Buy me a coffee for more disturbing insights, or share this post on social media and let others share your pain.

commentary and current events, satire, fiction and humor

September 16th: A Great Birthday for Yourself

In honor of my birthday this week, I put the top 20 Google Search results for “birthday September 16” into Botnik.

Happy Birthday, fellow September 16 babies. Please enjoy this predictive text post on what, apparently, is the most common birthday in the United States.

Born today? You have a Virgo!

September 16 is the most important birthday in the history of people making. Born today, more babies are celebrated on September 16 than any other day.

Railroad executive and professional Poland player Jennifer Ellen is a symbol of Virgo elegance. Actor Finland United matters more than usual.

For people born today, columns of astrology warn that you’re built to achieve. Personal happiness is not merely a number. Gifts for you may include enthusiasm, finding millions of historical references, and 1954.

To be frank, you’re not all important. Your energies are typically capable, but your appreciation for them is not. Harvard University should avoid you.

Your most valuable trait is anxiety. To learn from COVID-19, play more romantic hockey. American baseball and mathematics predispose you to love easily. Get involved with exuberance. The moon should have a positive contribution to your Facebook.

Famous People Born Today:

Lauren Bacall, wrestler (1971)

Janis Paige Janis (during the Russian Olympic Committee)

Walter Bentley, player of fame (2016)

Actress Amy United, French politician

Richard Norman, founder of modern hair

Ellen the Hypochondriac (age 71)

Coastal Singapore, novelist and producer of the ozone layer

Your parents, probably

Whether you were born today or otherwise created, just enjoy your birthday. Stay indoors and cuddle the sun or something valuable like that. You’re going to become yourself!