R&R in 2021

Happy Friday, people. This new year is starting out with a bang, isn’t it? We’ve just witnessed an attempted “rebellion” against our dying empire (a pretty pathetic rebellion at that) and now we have a new strain of this pandemic-causing coronavirus. I guess we can always raise our steins to the next year.

I suppose the next big thing we can look forward to is the day our outgoing moronic president gets kicked out of the White House (only to be replaced by another aging, corporate moron). POSITIVES!

At least we might get some competent disaster relief for this pandemic. I’d be happy with a large stimulus check so I can buy a new computer. The hundreds of billions committed to fighting Covid-19 would be good too.

Of course, every other industrialized nation is still wondering why every American citizen is not guaranteed healthcare but one step at a time I guess.

But enough politics . . .

Instead of dwelling on the negative, we need to at least make an attempt to find whatever it is that makes us smile on this godless planet. Life is what we make it so let’s try and make it a little less shitty. The start of a new year is a good time for self-reflection, it’s a logical place to stop and think within the overall passage of time.

What if we used this new year as a challenge to try and make something? Anything – a fictional story, a memoir, a poem, an anthology of poems, a piece of music, a short film, a documentary, any piece of art that makes you smile.

After all, we’ve got nothing else to do.

Let us use this year to rest, heal, and recover from the previous shit show.

New President, Same Shit

In the wake of a tense presidential election, amid an uneasy truce between two presidential administrations (one outgoing and the other just starting up), it’s important to remember that the average American is still fucked into submission by a twisted democratic process and a rotten economic system that exploits the down-trodden while rewarding the most ruthless.

The jig is up for President Donald Trump. A federal appeals court has ruled against the outgoing one-term president in Pennsylvania and stock numbers are rising in the face of a new president. The Republican Party now has some important questions it must ask itself as we move forward.

As we move forward as Americans, let us remember that winning an election is actually the easy part of the political process. The harder part is actually governing. Anyone can talk up their game during an election with the intent of gaining power but candidates need to back up all that rhetoric afterwards (if they win). The reality is that our two dominate political parties have been failing us for a long time.

Tricky Transition

The final electoral vote count for the 2020 election is 290-214, Joe Biden is going to be the next President of the United States of America. Of course, President Donald Trump is throwing a temper tantrum over the election results because it did not go his way and he’s nothing but a spoiled New York socialite whose was handed success by his father.

I’m not going to pretend that there are not a lot of undemocratic things about American democracy but that is par for the course. As far as American elections go, Biden is the clear winner. President Trump needs to stop the whining and accept defeat; there’s a first time for everything.

Let us not forget the setbacks that the Democratic Party experienced this year. While Democrats were optimistic about picking up as many as fifteen seats in the United States House of Representatives; they lost at least six seats in the House.

U.S. Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell in Florida’s 26th District is out – defeated by Republican challenger Carlos Gimenez.

U.S. Rep. Donna Shalala in Florida’s 27th District is out – defeated by Republican challenger Maria Elvira Salazar.

U.S. Rep. Kendra Horn in Oklahoma’s 5th District is out – defeated by Republican challenger Stephanie Bice.

U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson in Minnesota’s 7th District is out – defeated by Republican challenger Michelle Fischbach.

U.S. Rep. Xochitl Torres-Small in New Mexico’s 2nd District is out – defeated by Republican challenger Yvette Herrell.

U.S. Rep. Joe Cunningham in South Carolina’s 1st District is out – defeated by Republican challenger Nancy Mace.

What do these losses mean for the Democrats? It doesn’t matter, it’s not like they’re going to learn from any of them.

Post-Election Madness

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

In the aftermath of an incredibly close election, it looks like former Vice-President Joe Biden will become the 46th president of the United States of America. The current electoral vote count is 264-214.

I did not expect this election to be as close as the final results are showing but, in hindsight, it makes some sense. I’ve heard pundits on both sides of the aisle brag about the energy of their own voters claiming that the election would be a landslide for their candidate. NPR even reported this election containing the highest voter turnout in American history. With each side being galvanized to the teeth by punditry, a close race is a logical conclusion.

Let us not dwell too much on our collective orgasmic experience that was #ElectionNight and let us get back to the reality of the two shitty options that we Americans had to choose from in our supposed democratic-republic. Personally, coming from a family of loyal disciples to the Democratic Party, I expect the Republican Party to put up a shitty candidate (a childhood full of partisan brain-washing has engrained that bias in me). But the Democratic Party started this election cycle eleven candidates and THIS SHIT IS WHAT WE ENDED UP WITH?! Pervy-old Biden and Copmala Harris? Notwithstanding the fascistic corruption of the 2-party duopoly that has maintained control of American politics for a century, gradually dumbing down the national conversation with increasingly similar “opposing” candidates both favorable to the corporate interests that have become akin to a new aristocratic class. Presenting #Election2020 – the chance to choose between a Democratic Party man with a voting record of fraudulent war, “tough on crime” bullshit, and further degradation of higher education and a Republican Party outsider born into money with the emotional intelligence of a toddler and grabs whatever junk he wants to grab. If this is the best we can do as a nation, than we don’t deserve to hold the reigns of global power.

I used to be more involved in American politics – I’ve volunteered for three presidential elections and one gubernatorial election – and I’ve come to realize just how undemocratic our democracy really is. The democratic systems that govern Americans are far from ideal democracy/republicanism. I like to view our progressively degrading political candidates as a sign of our increasingly declining empire.

Is anyone interested in learning Mandarin with me? Which Chinese language would be more practical to learn: Mandarin or Cantonese?

The Fall of an Empire

All empires fall especially in “Age of Empires.”

You would think playing as the Franks with a focus on lumber gathering would give you an edge in the early game. I forgot that the Saracens have the most profitable market in the game making them efficient on a team. Combine that with the Turks’ faster gold miners, cheap chemistry, and stronger gunpowder units and you’ve got a deadly combination of civilizations to fight.

A New Standard for SCOTUS Nominations?

I cannot imagine a bigger metaphorical bomb detonating than the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. We all knew it was going to happen eventually, the woman was 87 and had fought through cancer. She was tough but death comes for us all and the death of a Supreme Court Justice is like a time bomb in American politics, one that puts even more pressure on an election.

I understand that the 24-hour news cycle has shortened our attention spans but I want you all to try and remember back to 2016 when Justice Antonin Scalia died. President Barack Obama had nominated Judge Merrick Garland of the District of Columbia Circuit Appeals Court to fill the empty S.C.O.T.U.S. seat. U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (who still serves in that same position today unfortunately) stirred up drama around the upcoming presidential election.

“Given that we are in the midst of the presidential election process, the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee and I believe that it is today the American people who are best-positioned to help make this important decision — rather than a lame-duck president whose priorities and policies they just rejected in the most-recent national election.”

United States Senator Mitch McConnell (R, KT), The American People Should Have a Voice in the Selection of the Next Supreme Court Justice (2016), <https://www.mcconnell.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/2016/2/the-american-people-should-have-a-voice-in-the-selection-of-the-next-supreme-court-justice>.

Senator McConnell delayed Judge Garland’s confirmation to the S.C.O.T.U.S. until the next election then immediately started the process when President Donald Trump nominated Judge Brett Kavanaugh (from the same court – DC’s Circuit Appeals Court) to the empty S.C.O.T.U.S. seat.

Fast forward four years and the nation finds itself in a similar situation – a dead Supreme Court Justice leaving eight Justices on the court and a tense election in the near future. Will Senator McConnell display some consistency with the new precedent he and his party set back in 2016?

“President Trump’s nominee for this vacancy will receive a vote on the floor of the Senate.”

Senator McConnell, McConnell: ‘President Trump’s Nominee for this Vacancy will Receive a Vote on the Floor of the Senate (2020), <https://www.mcconnell.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/2020/9/mcconnell-president-trump-s-nominee-for-this-vacancy-will-receive-a-vote-on-the-floor-of-the-senate>.

The senator justifies his decision by linking the precedent to the year 1888, the last time there was a S.C.O.T.U.S. vacancy while the White House and the Congress were held by different parties.

Wikipedia, List of Nominations to the Supreme Court of the United States (2020), <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_nominations_to_the_Supreme_Court_of_the_United_States>.

In 2016, the Democratic Party held the White House while the Republican Party held both houses of Congress. Today, the Republican Party holds the White House and only one house of Congress. One can still argue that we have a divided government so I’m skeptical about Senator McConnell’s reasoning.

I don’t understand why a specific political party needs to be in control of the national government in order for the Senate to proceed with S.C.O.T.U.S. nomination hearings but, given that was Senator McConnell’s reasoning four years ago, he should definitely uphold that same standard today. Otherwise, Mitch McConnell’s name is now synonymous with a “double standard.”

Writing these 4 things in the morning can drastically improve your work day — andrea drugay

You can call it journaling, you can call it planning, you can call it anything you want. The reality is if you can take about 5-7 minutes to write down these four items before you jump into your work day, you’ll be better prepared for anything that comes your way.

Writing these 4 things in the morning can drastically improve your work day — andrea drugay

It’s another election year, let’s try not to kill each other (except in video games).

It’s been awhile, I know. I’ve never been great at consistency and that is something at which I need to improve. I suppose I have been missing inspiration over the past few months.

Every election year, I become fine-tuned into news cycles as I attempt to understand the in’s and out’s of the American electorate, it’s actually a depressing hobby. I think the term “news junkie” is quite appropriate because that is exactly what we are: addicts. Being addicted to politics can be incredibly frustrating which is why it’s important to remind yourself of your limitations, focus on what you have control over while pushing aside that which you don’t. I think every person can benefit from a little self-reflection as well as a shift in perspective.

The 2020 presidential election, as with the previous presidential election, has thus far been filled with hyperbolic rhetoric. The Republicans say that their opponents want to tear down everything for which this nation stands. The Democrats say that their opponents don’t care about anything but profits and will do anything to prop up their agendas at the expense of people. These perspectives are nothing but caricatures.

If Americans really hold an interest in bridging divides and coming together with their fellow countrymen, I think there is one thing each of us should do a little more often: TURN OFF THE NEWS. A balkanized news media ecosystem may not have started this latest trend of political polarization but it is definitely exacerbating it. Confining ourselves to our respective political aisles, limiting ourselves to news outlets that cater to our ideological bents, only serves to demonize our political opponents. It is important to recognize and remember our shared humanity.

The original Apex Legends crew.

I’ve been playing a lot of Apex Legends in recent weeks with a determination to raise my rank up from the Bronze League, it’s a tough game but therein lies the fun. Gearing up, moving toward an enemy squad, coordinating with your own squad, and finally getting a kill as a plan comes together is one of the best thrills one can achieve playing a first-person shooter game. If anyone would like to join me in-game, my Origin username is “Crabb90.”

What holds people back?

Take the right turn in Duke City and you can find anything.

The feeling of “living just enough for the city” as Stevie Wonder so elegantly phrased it is becoming more common in American cities.  Housing prices are soaring above wages and the gap between the working lower classes and the upper affluent classes is stark but opportunities remain.  There are always opportunities for the less fortunate, it just requires a little creativity.

I commute to my job on public transit and every day I see people who look as though they are going hard times – not well dressed, poor hygiene, a little spaced out (possibly on a foreign substance) – but they all seem to be able to scrape together enough money for a bus ticket.  What’s even more amazing is that most of these people have a smartphone in-hand with ear-buds or headphones on their heads.  Regardless of how my lower-class peers are able to afford these small luxuries, I don’t think they realize the kind of opportunities they can access with these devices alone.

A mobile phone can provide one with organizational tools for planning a day and recording other phone numbers for future reference (the start of any entrepreneurial endeavor) as well as grant you access to an internet connection via any public library or city-owned building.  Are most people even aware of the existence of public libraries these days?

I’m not the most entrepreneurial or business-minded person but I can still hold a job and keep hold of some money; it doesn’t take a lot of thought or effort.  What is holding so many people back?  Drugs, mental health, an inability to utilize money effectively, obsessive personalities combined with addictive (or even criminal) behaviors?  I genuinely want to know.

7-Ways-to-Stay-Motivated_v3-01-1

All I ever needed?

When you feel burnt out from your daily grind, a short vacation can be rejuvenating.  My train ride north two weeks was one such get-away.  On my way up to the quiet parcel in the middle of bum-fuck-nowhere New Mexico, my mind was shrouded in an eerie mist of negativity.  On my way back down south, I was much more content with myself.  It was just a weekend away from my city but it was just enough of a change of scenery to reboot my attitude.

There is a peculiar tranquility and a sweet serenity to these mountains.  I’m afraid the Southwest will always be my home.