communication, complaints, controversies, modern problems, social media, true crime

Sometimes it’s okay to complain…

Yesterday, I wrote a couple of posts that were kind of on the same theme. I wrote the first one for this blog. It was about how surprisingly hateful some people are about Brittney Griner being released from a Russian prison, while Paul Whelan stays in custody. Griner, who endured ten months of incarceration in Russia, was sent to San Antonio for medical treatment before she goes home to her wife in Phoenix, Arizona. Many, many people are apparently pissed off about this. They’d rather Brittney rot in a freezing cold Russian prison, where she’s too tall for a regular bed and her hands are too big for the usual labor of sewing. Most of these folks who are so salty toward Griner, and to Joe Biden for helping her, also claim to be Christians.

If you ask these people why they’re angry about Brittney Griner’s release, they’ll tell you it’s because she disrespected the flag by taking a knee during the playing of “The Star Spangled Banner”. They think she hates her country, and for that reason, she should endure years of inhumane conditions in a prison behind the borders of our biggest enemy. I suspect they also don’t like Brittney because she’s not like they are. She’s 6’9″ tall. She’s Black and queer, and has a deep speaking voice. She uses marijuana. Deep down, people who espouse that much hatred are terrified by people who are different. They see Brittney as an immoral freak, and they want her banished for it. They also seem to think that she has no right to complain about racism. They tell her, “America– love it or leave it.” If something is wrong, you have no right to gripe. Because in their eyes, she’s less than they are.

Of course, Brittney has already shown us that she’s definitely NOT like the the people who want her to suffer. That’s a good thing. We need fewer people in our country who can’t embrace diversity. And we need fewer people who want to silence those who have legitimate concerns about the way things are going in the United States for anyone who isn’t a Christian, white, conservative male with a gun.

The other post I wrote yesterday was about how Bill and I complained about bad service we got at a wine shop in France. That entry was inspired by the reactions I got in a Facebook wine group I run. I posted about that experience because it was about wine shopping. The reactions I got initially blamed Bill and me for our bad experience. No one said it outright, but I got the sense that some people thought maybe I was being a “karen” (for lack of a better word). Somehow, ever since the term “karen” became popular, people seem to think that anytime someone complains, particularly if it’s a middle-aged, white woman of means, they’re acting like an entitled whiner.

In response to my post, I got some not so subtle chastising about my so-called lack of cultural sensitivity, lack of language skills (because I took Spanish instead of French when I was in school), and overall bad attitude. Another person assumed I had somehow “misunderstood” what had happened. They wanted to excuse the salesperson for serving straight up bad service, with generous side orders of disdain and disrespect. All we were trying to do was spend some money on local wines. For our efforts, we got the wrong wines, and egregiously rude treatment.

Then, when we complained, we got even more rude treatment, dismissing, discounting, and blame. I guess we shouldn’t have said anything? What really astonished me, though, was that the American people who were blaming ME for my bad experience were people who have never met me and don’t know the first thing about me. Why would they assume it was my fault that I had the misfortune of doing business with someone with a very obvious STANK attitude? All I did was go into a wine shop for a few minutes because I wanted to buy wine. Isn’t that what the wine shop is for?

I think it’s because in America, we’re quite fond of pushing toxic positivity. We discourage people from being negative, even if they have every right to complain. We like to blame the victim, even in situations that are egregiously unjust or horrific. Brittney Griner was arrested at the airport for having a small amount of hashish oil and vape cartridges in her luggage. Yes, it was against Russian law to have those items in her luggage, but it’s not like anyone was killed. I also highly doubt that the people who felt the nine years in prison was a just sentence would say the same thing if it was them or a loved one who got such a sentence, even in the United States. Mention harsh penalties, though, and you’re no doubt going to hear “If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime.” Some people seem to think that if you do something wrong, no punishment is too harsh… especially if you’re different and dare to speak up about things.

This morning over breakfast, I was reading about the world’s most “welcoming” countries, in terms of which countries will allow visa free visitors from the most nations. Singapore was mentioned as a very “welcoming” country. I’m sure Singapore is a beautiful place with kind and interesting citizens. But when I think of Singapore, I can’t help but remember the 1994 case of Michael P. Fay, and how he wound up getting four strikes with a rattan cane for vandalizing cars and stealing road signs. When he committed his crimes, Michael Fay was 18 years old and had moved to Singapore to live with his mother and stepfather.

I remember, during Fay’s fifteen minutes of fame, a lot of people were saying that Fay had asked for the caning, which was originally set to six strokes. He also got four months in jail and had to pay about S$3500 (Singapore dollars). The United States government intervened in that case, too, and Fay wound up getting only four strikes of the cane, which caused bleeding and scarring on his buttocks. Then he was deported, and when he got home, he promptly got into more legal trouble.

I don’t think Brittney Griner is going to do what Michael P. Fay did, once she’s been released from the hospital. Moreover, I don’t think Brittney’s initial crime was of the same magnitude as Fay’s was. What Griner did ultimately didn’t harm anyone. Fay and his friends actually did significant harm to other people’s property, costing them money and inconveniencing them. Personally, I thought the caning was barbaric, and it obviously didn’t teach Fay anything. But Griner’s punishment was much worse, and not only did she endure inhumane conditions, but her own countrymen are hurling abuse at her. I wonder if they’d be this vicious if Brittney Griner was a straight, white woman with conservative proclivities.

Besides being male and Caucasian, Michael Fay had something going for him that Brittney didn’t. He committed his crimes at a time when social media didn’t exist, and the Internet was only just getting started. He also became infamous at a time when our country was less polarized and weird. Or maybe it just seemed that way to me. I do remember though, at the time of Michael P. Fay’s crime, some people were calling him a spoiled brat. But they weren’t gleeful about the prospect of his ass being literally shredded by the caustic strikes of a rattan cane. They weren’t calling for him to rot in a foreign hellhole. They weren’t telling him he had no right to complain.

Sometimes, things are just plain wrong. Sometimes, they’re flat out terrible. People should always have the right to point out the bad things, because that’s how things get better. Keeping silent when there’s been an injustice sends a message that everything’s okay. Sometimes a complaint might seem “silly”. I’m sure some people in my wine group thought I was posting about a first world problem. I’ll admit that getting the wrong wine isn’t a big deal in the grand scheme of things… although I mainly wrote that post because my wine group is pretty dead lately. Brittney Griner’s situation is, of course, much more serious. Before she went to Russia to play basketball, she had the gall to “take a knee” against racism. She had the nerve to speak up and be noticed, and point out that America isn’t all that great and needs improvement. For that, there are people who literally think she should be suffer for years. I’ll bet that a lot of those folks, fine upstanding Christians that they are, also secretly hope she dies. That’s how warm and tender these supposed “Christ loving” people are…

Anyway… I suppose I’ve gone on long enough. I feel inspired to do a little music today, so I think I’ll sign off and get to work on that. Have a great Saturday… and embrace your inner “karen” if you are so inclined and a situation merits it.

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communication, complaints, controversies, ethics, law, true crime

Why do so many people like to blame the victim?

Yesterday was an interesting day. It started in the usual way and ended with a couple of situations that have led me to ponder this morning. Why do so many people seem to think others deserve anything negative that happens to them? Why do some people have this innate instinct to spin any tragic or awful situation into something that could and should have been avoided or prevented? And why do so many people seem to want to see other people suffer?

Take Brittney Griner’s situation. Griner is a basketball star who won gold medals at the Olympics and played for the W.N.B.A. She went to Russia to play basketball. In February, she was arrested at an airport in Moscow when customs agents found vape cartridges that contained hashish oil in her luggage. Griner’s arrest happened just before Russia invaded Ukraine. Her case was soon international and daily news, especially when in August of this year, she was sentenced to nine years at a Russian penal colony.

Yesterday afternoon, Europe time, it was announced that Griner was exchanged for a notorious Russian arms dealer named Viktor Bout who was doing time in a U.S. prison. Bout had been languishing in the United States for eleven years, and was sentenced to twenty-five years.

My first reaction, when I read about Brittney Griner’s release, was relief. I always like to hear about Americans who are locked up abroad– especially when they are obviously being used as political pawns– being released and coming home. Yes, I know that fellow American, Paul Whelan, is also locked up in Russia, serving sixteen years of hard labor, and President Biden wasn’t able to secure his release. But he was able to get Brittney out, and now she’s coming home to her wife, Cherrelle Griner, and her parents. Yes, I know she broke Russian law by having hashish oil in her luggage, but I don’t think that crime should warrant being locked in a Russian hellhole, being tortured, starved, and forced to work in inhumane conditions. I don’t think ANY prisoner should be treated that way, regardless of their crimes. Russia is well known for mistreating prisoners.

Maybe trading Griner for Bout was an “uneven exchange”, but what was the alternative?

I read a number of puzzling responses to the news that Brittney was released. Some people were actually ANGRY about it. They cited the fact that Whelan is still locked up, and he is somehow a “better American” than Brittney is. One woman, upon reading that Griner would be going to Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, wrote that she should be happy, since “medical marijuana is legal in Texas.” Was that response that really necessary? Why can’t people simply be happy that an American citizen is not going to be tortured for nine years for a very minimal offense? Whose side are they on, anyway?

One of the comments regarding Brittney Griner’s situation.

I also get that some people don’t like Brittney Griner because they see her as immoral and unAmerican. She’s a Black lesbian who took a knee during the national anthem, protesting racism. She moved to Russia to play basketball instead of staying in the United States. For these “crimes”, she should have to languish for years in a Russian hellhole prison? I know a lot of people are also upset because marriage equality in the United States is about to be made federal law, and Brittney Griner’s “out” sexual orientation and marriage to another woman are very visible displays of what some Christian Americans see as an abomination. It amazes me that so-called Christians enjoy it when people suffer, especially as punishment for things that are beyond their control.

I’ve seen this kind of negative “victim blaming” response in a lot of situations. I’ve also seen a lot of Americans expressing very harsh reactions to people who commit what amount to minimal violations of the law. I’ve written about this a few times in my blog. See my unpopular comments about Debra Hunter, Lori Loughlin, and Skylar Mack, women who did jail time for what turned out to be pretty minor offenses. 😉

Recently, I read about a Tik Tok user named Katie Sigmond who decided to hit a golf ball over the rim of the Grand Canyon. In the course of sending the ball over the edge, she also tossed her golf club. This was all filmed and put on Tik Tok, where Sigmond has almost seven million followers. Officials at the Grand Canyon found out who Sigmond was and issued a fine. The amount of the fine wasn’t specified, but one official said that the fine for what Katie did was usually about $280.

The comments about the fine were pretty ridiculous. I saw more than one outraged person writing that Sigmond should get a jail sentence for her stunt. Really? I could see a jail sentence if Sigmond’s Tik Tok stunt had actually hurt someone. What her offense actually amounted to, though, was littering. Should we really jail people for being litterbugs? I think a fine, community service, and perhaps being banned from the Grand Canyon for awhile is punishment enough.

Why do so many Americans think that jail is the end all, be all for punishment? Do people ever stop and think about how being incarcerated affects the person who is jailed, and their families? Do they consider how putting people behind bars affects society? And do people ever stop and think about when a person has been disciplined enough for a crime? At what point would some of these jail cheerleaders think Sigmond has suffered enough for littering? Would a week be enough, or would they rather see her sit in a prison cell for years? Is that how they would like to be treated if they ran afoul of the law?

The longer I live, the more I think that people don’t really stop and think about the long term consequences of their actions. I’m sure Griner thought she’d get away with bringing hashish oil into Russia. Her mind was probably on playing basketball, not on the fact that she’s an American who was living in country with a leader who has no qualms about finding any excuse whatsoever to use people as pawns. I know for a fact that Russians aren’t inherently bad people simply because they’re Russian. But a lot of Americans seem to think that Griner “asked for” her situation simply because she moved to Russia to play a sport she apparently loves.

Lots of people seem to think Brittney Griner should still be sitting in a Russian prison. They see her as a “traitor” for not staying in the United States. I don’t know what Brittney Griner’s reasons were for moving to Russia. It might have simply been about making money, which I think is fair enough, especially when a person makes a living as an athlete. Professional athletes have a limited shelf life. Maybe she needed the money. Maybe she thought it would be an exciting adventure. Maybe she just loves the game and wants to play during the off season. In any case, she moved to Russia for whatever reason, and got caught up in an international game.

Do people really think Griner deserved nine years in a penal colony for what she did? And why is making money a crime? Especially in our capitalistic society, where people’s successes and worthiness are often based on whether or not they make money?

Awful… and totally unnecessary.

I’ve got more to write on this subject, but I’m going to put those thoughts in my travel blog, because the other situation I want to write about has to do with travel… But the theme is the same. A lot of Americans LOVE to blame the victim. And they love to criticize anyone who has a valid complaint. I don’t understand that mindset, but I notice that it’s especially prevalent in military communities. Bill calls it the “suck it up and drive on” mentality. I call it annoying as hell… Anyway, if you want to read about that situation, have a look at the travel blog later, after I’ve vented my spleen. 😀

I’m glad Brittney Griner is going to be free. I hope she has the best holiday season this year. Her life is meaningful, and Americans should be glad that she’s out of prison instead of wishing to see her rot.

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dogs, politics, Trump

Everything is either changing, dying, or already dead…

The last few months have been really strange. Several people who were part of my life in some way have passed away. I just got the news that our beloved Arran is terminally ill with lymphoma, a cancer. Putin is threatening to use nukes if he doesn’t get control of Ukraine. Donald Trump’s legal woes deepen by the minute. And Britain has a brand new king, because his beloved mother finally passed the bar. I suppose it stands to reason that my stomach hurts a little bit… just enough to be annoying and get me to drink tea instead of coffee.

Hell, even my phone is changing. Yesterday, Apple launched a big update, and I updated most of my stuff, with the exception of my watch and my Apple Touch, which is too full of music to handle an update. I just tried to update the watch, and was informed that I have to update my phone before I could update the watch. So I just finished doing that, and now the watch is updating. My phone says it’ll take two hours. I notice the latest update was a pretty substantial one. The display on my phone is different now, and the phone prompted me to set up a new audio setting that involved letting the camera see my ears, get the angles of my face, and figure out optimal audio. I guess, anyway. I find that as I get older, I have less interest in figuring out everything my gadgets can do.

The season is changing from summer to fall. Days are getting shorter. Temperatures are noticeably cooler. Pretty soon, the trees will be changing, and there will be a lot more rain.

Soon, we’ll have just one dog instead of two and, for the first time since 2002, there won’t be a beagle mix in our midst. I was thinking about that last night at about 5:00pm, as we were waiting for Bill to get home from work. Arran has a routine most nights. He goes down to the foyer and waits near the door for Bill to come home. Last night, Bill was a little later than usual because he needed to stop by the store. I had asked him to get some canned pumpkin for Arran, as it’s soothing to his stomach. He wasn’t able to go to the commissary, and couldn’t find canned pumpkin in the German store, so he bought a fresh one and roasted it. Arran was a little confused by it this morning, but did eat it. He didn’t finish his breakfast, though.

Arran is still engaged for now…
Bill is a good dad, even if it’s just to our dogs.

Some of the changes that are happening are good things. I see progress being made in repairing some of the damage wrought by Donald Trump, although some people are stubbornly trying to defend him and deny that he’s guilty as hell. Yesterday, someone else tried to bait me into an argument, just based on that one comment I left on Amy Klobuchar’s page. I automatically wished him a good day, after reminding him that it’s still okay to disagree with one another.

I was relieved to read about how the “special master” Trump demanded that Trump “put up or shut up”. Trump couldn’t do it, so the documents he allegedly stole from the White House will be used as evidence as an indictment hangs over him, along with many lawsuits. I suspect this is probably going to ruin a certain small town judge’s reputation, too… for being Trump’s flunky. I really hope Trump is brought to justice. I also hope that people don’t lose their fucking minds if he is brought to justice… but you just can’t tell anymore. Everyone seems to be so angry lately. I long for normalcy, but maybe this is the new normal. Maybe people are going to be angry from now on.

I read this morning that people in Russia, having been told that Putin is about to draft people to fight his pointless war against Ukraine, are trying to flee to other countries. In a very strange twist, it seems that a lot of Russians are heading to Armenia and Turkey, where they don’t need visas. Why? Because they don’t want to fight and die for Putin’s ego, which is what this is all about. It’s very strange to read about this turn of events, though. When I lived in Armenia, Armenians were trying to leave to the country, and they were going to Russia, Europe, Australia or the United States. Now, people are flocking to them for safety. Something needs to be done about Putin, too.

We’re supposed to go away next week… I’ve really been looking forward to it. But now I’m not sure it’s a good idea to go. We’ll probably go anyway, though, as things get weirder and weirder. We might as well. Winter is coming, and this one might be a tough one.

This post is turning out to be about a lot about nothing… I have so much on my mind that it’s hard to settle on one thing. So maybe it’s time to stop writing and do something else, until I can settle on one specific topic. The featured photo is of Arran last night, who tucked himself into bed between Bill and me. He is the sweetest dog… and I am trying to enjoy him, as I know he’s going to be leaving us soon. Losing Arran is probably going to be the toughest change to get used to by far. Maybe he’s the lucky one.

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China, healthcare, law

COVID dystopia in China makes me glad to be western…

For the past few days, we’ve been dealing with a minor inconvenience involving my favorite toilet. The toilet, like many in Germany, has its flusher mechanism mounted in the wall. We’d had some issues with the flusher before. At times, the plastic hardware behind the flusher was somehow malfunctioning. In the past, I could usually take the button off and maneuver the innards of the flush mechanism so that it worked properly again. But this time, something broke, rendering the toilet unflushable and irreparable. So now, we have to use the toilet on the main floor until the flusher can be fixed. That’s a bit of a pain in the butt.

Our landlord has assured us the plumber, along with the landlord’s son, who is currently apprenticing with the plumber, will be out this week to fix the issue. I look forward to having the toilet fixed, because it’s annoying and inconvenient to have to go downstairs to pee in the middle of the night. But, I realize it’s a first world problem. We’re very fortunate to be living in a beautiful, large, freestanding home with a backyard. We also have a toilet in the basement that rarely gets used. Things could certainly be much worse. We could be living in an apartment in Shanghai.

This morning, as I was pondering what I wanted to write about today, I consulted CNN. I saw the bizarre news story about the now late Vicky White, a former Alabama corrections officer who helped inmate Casey White escape the jail where she was working. I had seen the headlines about that story and was sort of casually following it. In a prior life, I probably would have been very interested in writing about White and her inexplicable choice to consort with an inmate who, by most accounts, is a very dangerous man. I like to write about true crime, and this story has “movie of the week” written all over it. Maybe I will write about that case at a later date, as new details come out. I am pretty tired of writing about COVID, Ex, and my other “pet subjects”. However, though I am so sick of thinking and writing about COVID, I feel compelled to write about the situation in Shanghai today.

Wow.

Even though things have gotten more “normal” in Europe over the past few weeks, they’re most definitely not normal everywhere. Especially in Asia. In Shanghai, residents are being forced to endure incredibly harsh lockdowns in the fruitless quest to quash COVID-19. The situation is really shocking, especially if you’re a westerner. I don’t know how closely my fellow Americans have been following this story out of China. It definitely makes me question if the Asian approach is the best one, even though so many people seem to think they have it right.

Ever since this COVID drama started two years ago, I’ve seen many people hail east Asian peoples as having the “right” ideas about controlling the virus. So many smug, self-righteous western commenters on news articles about COVID have held up east Asians as being so much kinder toward their fellow man. I’ve totally lost count of how many pro-mask people have pointed to how Asians voluntarily and cheerfully wear face masks when they’re sick. Then, those same people accuse their countrymen of being selfish, narcissistic and even sociopathic, because they don’t want to be subjected to ongoing COVID-19 rules and restrictions.

While I completely understand that face masks were necessary, especially in the beginning of the pandemic, and I’m all for promoting vaccinations and quarantines when they are necessary, I can’t get on the east Asia love bandwagon when it comes to their extreme approaches to public health. Especially in Shanghai. This morning, I watched in shock and horror as video footage of police officers in hazmat suits played on my computer screens. The Chinese cops are showing up at the homes of people who have the misfortune of living near someone who tested positive for the virus. Under new harsh guidelines, not only are COVID positive people forced into government run quarantine centers, but so are their neighbors, even if they’ve tested negative. And the police are breaking down the doors to private residences to drag the people away.

According to the article on CNN, pleas from private citizens are falling on deaf ears.

“From now on, people who live on the same floor (as Covid cases) must be transported (into quarantine),” a police officer says in the video.

“It’s not that you can do whatever you want — unless you’re in America. This is China,” another police officer says sternly, waving a bottle of disinfectant in his hand. “Stop asking me why. There is no why. We have to obey our country’s regulations and epidemic control policies.”

The article I linked from CNN shows just how outrageous things have gotten, particularly in Shanghai, but also in other Chinese cities. I realize that China isn’t all of Asia. Maybe it’s not nearly as bad in other Asian cities. But given how many people live in China, I think it’s bad enough. One video shows citizens being forced to hand over their apartment keys so they can be locked into their homes from the outside. Those who refuse to give officials their keys have holes drilled into the walls, so padlocks can be installed on their doors. The video also shows workers installing bars on windows to keep residents locked inside their homes.

Yikes!

The quarantine centers are said to be squalid, and it seems that no one is safe. One reporter described people in their 90s being dragged off to the centers. Another spoke of babies not being allowed on the subway system, because they couldn’t produce negative COVID-19 test results. Local citizens who speak out against the draconian rules are censored. Some people have become so despondent over the endless rules that they have committed suicide. One CNN correspondent said that she’s been locked in a hotel room for two weeks, with one more week to go, before she can go to her final destination of Beijing.

Of course, we don’t have anything like this going on in the western world. A lot of people are legitimately selfish about COVID-19 and the pursuit of their own “freedoms”. I’m not saying that people who completely ignore concerns about the virus are right. I think we all should take reasonable precautions against COVID and other viruses. But there’s a limit to how far people should be expected to go. I don’t think the Asian approach to COVID, or anything else, is necessarily the best. In fact, my heart goes out to the people who are enduring that hell in China right now. I can understand why some people have concluded that life isn’t worth living anymore.

Another story that I haven’t adequately explored is the war in Ukraine. Again… watching and reading the stories about that situation make me feel very fortunate to be where I am. I have read several heartbreaking stories about Ukrainian women whose husbands have been murdered in front of them. Then, some Russian soldiers have raped the surviving women, who then must endure the rumors and gossip spread by their neighbors. I know that if I had the misfortune of being in that situation, I would try to deal with it, as those women have. I would have no choice. But it still seems insane to me… I don’t understand the level of complete disdain for other human beings that has been shown, both in Ukraine and in China. It’s as if they have no hearts for others. It’s just horrifying.

Well… I suppose I should “embrace the suck” and “count my blessings”. Yes, it’s a pain in the butt to have to deal with a busted toilet flusher. But I guess these stories from CNN are a stark reminder that my problems are really first world problems. I have been extraordinarily lucky on so many levels. Reading these stories have inspired a few moments of sheer gratitude.

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controversies, disasters, technology, the environment

The latest viral post…

Yesterday, I noticed a couple of my friends shared the post that serves as today’s featured photo. The quote has been attributed to the author, Marguerite Quantaine. Although I am an avid reader, I’m not familiar with Marguerite Quantaine’s work, so I’m not sure why I would be influenced by her over anyone else. Nevertheless, she (or her social media “person”) makes a pretty good point about individual choices most of us have the power to make as the costs of gas and other products rise. I saw her post being shared by different people on my friends list, who had also seen it shared by their own friends. In reading the comments on her original post, I noticed that Quantaine’s comments were actually made by a “cyber-liaison”, as Marguerite herself has been “indisposed” since October 2021.

However, while I agree with Quantaine’s statement about what we can do to mitigate high gas prices, I’m not so sure the higher gas prices can only be attributed to the war in Ukraine, at least not in the United States. Gas in the US mostly comes from sources other than Russia. Now, here in the European Union, it’s a different story. A lot more of the gas supply comes from Russia. But people over here are used to paying a lot for gas. That’s not to say they like to pay so much for gas, but at least there’s a trade off. For instance, generally speaking, it costs much less over here to get medical treatment than it does in the United States.

I clicked on one the posts that was shared by someone who apparently shared from Marguerite Quantaine’s page. There were a few dozen comments there. The very first one came from a man who is clearly a conservative voter. I just went back to the original post to re-read what the guy wrote, only to find that the post was apparently “cleaned up”. The “hater” comments were deleted. So I decided to visit Quantaine’s page, to see if there were any similar comments. There were, but none that made the statement that inspired me to write this post today. I’m going to have to rely on my memory. Fortunately, my memory is still pretty awesome, in spite of my wine habit.

So this guy, who appeared to be a “boomer”, basically wrote that all he cares about is being able to buy affordable gas. And he thinks that we should just exploit all of the resources we have in the United States. Another poster shamed him, reminding him that fracking and drilling will ruin what little is left of the natural beauty in our environment. The guy came back and wrote that the damage would be “minimal”, and he would be able to run his car.

I had a look at the guy’s profile picture and noticed that he appeared to have a family. There was a woman with him who appeared to be his age, and several attractive adults and kids. It looked like he loves his family very much. Unfortunately, the first thought that came into my mind, was that he must not actually love them that much, if he’s not concerned about the state of the environment and our dependence on fossil fuels. He’s only concerned about what’s happening right now. He probably won’t be around for that much longer, so the lasting damage to the environment likely won’t affect him too much. But it will definitely affect those grandchildren of his. He seems to love his grandchildren, yet he’s not concerned about what lies ahead for them.

I’m going to turn 50 in June. As winter is ending here in Germany, I’ve thought a lot about how different the climate is in 2022 compared to what it was like in the 80s, when I was a teenager. I remember back in the 80s, some people were concerned about the environment. I even remember there was a 1989 episode on this topic on the hit NBC sitcom, Family Ties. In the episode, “Rain Forests Keep Fallin’ on My Head”, the character, Jennifer (Tina Yothers), is studying ecology in school and gets fixated on making changes that would protect the environment. She encourages her family to adopt more Earth friendly lifestyle choices, to the point of being very annoying. But ultimately, she gets very depressed and has to see a counselor. I watched that episode maybe a year or two ago, and remembered how Jennifer’s family tried to console her. Now, 33 years later, that episode seems very prescient.

A couple of days ago, I noticed a picture an acquaintance posted on Facebook of her little daughter. The girl was wearing shorts and a t-shirt. It’s not even mid March yet. I remember when I was a child, March was still a pretty cold month, even in Virginia. I asked her what the temperatures were in North Carolina, where they now live. She said it was in the 80s.

Here in Germany, I’ve noticed there’s less snow that there was even fifteen years ago. The winter in Wiesbaden was rainy and chilly, but not particularly cold. When we lived here the first time, I would not have dared go outside with bare feet in the winter. I could and did go out barefoot sometimes over this past winter. Granted, I don’t think Wiesbaden gets as much snow as Stuttgart gets, since it’s not as elevated. But I would have expected at least one good snow in which there wasn’t immediate melting. We really didn’t get any of that this year… or since we’ve been here. I’m pretty sure this is global warming in action. The guy who made that comment about not caring about anything but gas prices probably denies it exists. But how else can we explain why the weather has been so much warmer in recent years?

I do understand that Quantaine’s suggestions in her viral Facebook post might not be feasible for everyone. I’ve had the experience of living in parts of the United States where public transportation is scarce. I’ve worked at jobs that required lengthy commutes. Moreover, I am not a fan of “preachy” Facebook posts in the form of memes that can be passed around like a plate of stale hors d’oeuvres. I guess it just shocks me that so many people are self-centered to the point at which they brazenly state it outright. The guy who was enthusiastically responding in that post really came off as a selfish asshole. And yet, it’s easy to see that he’s a much beloved person, with many family members who evidently appreciate him.

In another example, I noticed a thread by a friend who is also former fellow Epinions writer. This person has a lot of people on his friends list that are no longer on mine, for whatever reason. He posted a statement about how the United States can be more energy independent by encouraging people to buy fuel efficient vehicles and vote for using more renewable resources. He got a lot of responses from other former Epinions members. One response came from a guy I used to have a lot more respect for than I do today. This guy is one of those “me and mine” types– as in, “I’ve got mine, and that’s all that matters to me.” I unfriended him several years ago after his relentless pushing of his conservative views became too obnoxious on my page. This guy had a habit of shaming me for being pro-choice or having opinions that were progressive. I used to refer to him as “Papa Smurf”, because he often tried to act like everyone’s daddy and lecture them when their views didn’t align with his. It got to be very annoying. In fact, I believe my parting words to him were, “Fuck off, Phil.”

Anyway, I noticed that Papa Smurf posted a response to my friend’s suggestion that everyone should use more Earth sustaining vehicles and adopt practices that preserve the environment. Below are his comments, which I think kind of echo the entitled “fuck you all” attitude I noticed the “boomer” stranger had shared on Marguerite Quantaine’s post.

We used to have a RAV4 ourselves. It was a good car, and we kept it for 13 years. But I wouldn’t say it was particularly fuel efficient.

The above comment isn’t as bad as others I’ve seen him make. Like I said, there was a time when I didn’t see the conservative “boomer” side to his personality. I liked him fine when we could just talk about travel. I got a first inkling that he was kind of a jerk when we happened to be at an Epinions social event and he was openly talking about undertipping the wait staff because he had to wait for his dinner. Then years later, we’d clash on Facebook when I would be snarky and “tasteless” (in his opinion) in my comments about certain current events and political ideals. He would chastise me on my own page, which is a “no no”. You ain’t my daddy, Papa Smurf.

Anyway… to me it’s just a reflection of a tragic attitude some people have regarding the environment. They don’t seem too concerned about how today’s practices and policies might be paid for by tomorrow’s adults. Once again, I’m glad I didn’t manage to have children. I look at my husband’s daughter’s adorable son and daughter, and think about the little boy who will soon join them. I worry about what it might be like for them… and I’m glad my life is likely at least halfway over. This war in Ukraine, coupled with the coronavirus, are probably going to change life as we know it… and likely not for the better. Not unless we work together to come up with ways to mitigate the damages done. I think humans are technically capable of adapting our practices for the better… but unfortunately, selfishness and greed often get in the way.

I’ve noticed that electric cars are increasingly popular in Europe. There are a lot of places where one can plug in their vehicles. When we bought our Volvo in 2019, we were told that very soon, Volvo will stop making gas powered cars. I have been giving some serious thought to making my next car a hybrid or an electric. But I rarely drive much anymore, anyway. Unfortunately, I think it will take more time for electric cars to catch on in the United States. They are expensive, and it’s a concept that may be hard for some people to embrace. People tend to like to stick with what they know. For instance, it took me a long time to switch from Windows to a Mac. 😉

I do think, though, that if our species is to survive in relative comfort, we’re going to have to make some changes. And while I don’t think the higher gas prices are entirely caused by the war in Ukraine (the pandemic also contributed), I do agree that at this point, those of us who aren’t in Ukraine are lucky… for now. However, I also think that this thing could actually turn into yet another global event very soon if something lasting is not done about Putin. He’s gone much further than people thought he would… perhaps he sees this stunt as a way to ride out of this world in a blaze of glory. Frankly, I wouldn’t be averse to that… as long as he makes an exit from the world stage soon.

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