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.
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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.

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commentary and current events, satire, fiction and humor

How to Find Out What the F*ck (Is Going On)

The title of this post comes from a predictive text Twitter thread I did recently that used blog post title templates. In a moment of hilarity-induced poor judgment, I offered to write any of the posts predictive text generated titles for.

This one won. For good reason! The world is full of “what the fuck?” moments. To navigate it successfully, we need skills in finding out what, indeed, the fuck.

Here is a guide to doing just that.

wtf

First: Is It F*cking Familiar?

When your reaction is “What the fuck is going on?,” start by looking for familiar elements.

Do you know who the fuck is involved? Do you recognize the setting or tools used in this fuckery? Do you have an odd sense that you’ve been in this fucking place before?

When we cannot quickly identify or categorize an event, process, person or object, our brains trip the “What the fuck?” circuit. By looking for familiar elements, you help your brain categorize what it’s perceiving more quickly – shortening the time between “What the fuck?” and “Oh, this fuckery again.”

Second: Can You F*cking Ask Someone?

When encountering fuckery, your first instinct may be to ask someone else, “What the fuck is going on here?”

This is natural! Humans are social creatures; we rely on one another for advice, perspective, and guidance all the time. Relying on others’ perspectives is one way we turn the unfamiliar (“What the fuck?”) into the familiar (“Oh, this fuckery.”)

If someone is present who might know what the fuck is going on, don’t hesitate to ask them.

Do, however, take a deep breath and consider other options for phrasing the question. While “What the fuck is going on?” might be the most emotionally honest statement in the moment, it’s not always the most effective for eliciting answers. Try “What’s going on here?” or “Can you tell me more about this?”

Third: Where to Get More F*cking Information

If it’s fucked up but not urgent, seeking information from an additional source can help you unfuck it.

Here are several common sources of fuckery and a few resources for dealing with them.

Household Repairs

For large household systems (HVAC, plumbing), look for a phone number on the unit for the manufacturer, installer or maintenance team. Household appliances like refrigerators may have a hotline you can call for advice. Some people like to invest in coverage like home warranties, which can help ensure your household stuff gets fixed quickly after a “what the fuck?” moment.

Auto Repairs

Once upon a time, having access to the Chilton manual for your vehicle was the gold standard in addressing vehicular what the fuckery. You can still access many Chilton manuals online today. Also, consider investing in a code reader if you want to find out what the fuck your car’s latest blinky light means without having to take it all the way to the fucking dealership.

Children

What happens if you mix glitter into cake batter? Would the baby look better covered in Sharpie? Can goldfish survive in hot water?

There’s nothing like young children to generate a lifetime of joyful “What the fuck?” moments. Keep a first aid kit and a fire extinguisher handy at all times. Place items you don’t want children to access out of their reach, such as on a high shelf in a hut halfway up Mount Everest. And take lots of pictures. Someday, you’ll miss this fuckery – and you’ll need the photos to remind yourself why the fuck your nostalgia is misplaced.

Politics

I know, right? What the actual fuck.

There’s actually an answer for this one, and I’ve been relying on it since the 2016 election. What the Fuck Just Happened Today? aggregates the biggest political stories daily, draws connections between events, and so on. It also aggregates links to news sources covering those stories, so if you’re convinced that only your favorite news outlet of choice can be trusted, you can find and click the link to its coverage.

The next time you need to find out what the fuck, take a deep breath and keep your head on. You got this fuckery.


Help me fuck around: buy me a coffee or share this post on the social medias.

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