Monday, November 28, 2016

Brexit and the Election of DJT

Dear Madame L,

Can you please explain what Brexit is and what it has to do with the election of Donald Trump?

Thanks in advance,


Dear Friend,

Thanks for asking --- and what a hard question to answer! I'm sure you know what Brexit is, just wondering how it happened. But let's start with this definition, from Investopedia:

"Brexit is an abbreviation for "British exit," which refers to the June 23, 2016, referendum whereby British citizens voted to exit the European Union. The referendum roiled global markets, including currencies, causing the British pound to fall to its lowest level in decades."

More from Investopedia:

"Supporters of Brexit based their opinions on a variety of factors, from the global competitiveness of British businesses to the European debt crisis to concerns about immigration. Britain had already opted out of the European Union's monetary union – meaning that it uses the pound instead of the euro –  and the Schengen Area, meaning that it does not share open borders with a number of other European nations. "Out" campaigners argued that Brussels' bureaucracy is a drag on the British economy and that European Union laws and regulations threaten British sovereignty."
If this seems biased, you may want to check out other online sources. Here's an article from CNN, "5 reasons why Americans should care about Brexit."

Briefly, the one advantage to Americans of the Brexit vote is that it will be cheaper to travel to England. Wahoo.

The other four reasons why we should be interested in the Brexit vote are that it could hurt the American economy, leave a less stable Europe, strain the "special relationship" between the U.S. and the U.K., and give Trump an excuse to "go full throttle on his immigration ideas."

And thus, we have gotten to Brexit and the 2016 electoral disaster in the U.S. And here's what Brexit had to do with the election of DJT:

The same forces behind Brexit, mainly xenophobia and economic worries, are behind the support for DJT in the 2016 election.

Xenophobia, or fear of "the other," rightly happens to be Dictionary com's word of this year. It's a form of racism. It makes people from other countries, in this context meaning refugees and others from countries with mostly brown-skinned people, dangerous.

And it's related to the supposed economic worries, because of course the xenophobes are worried that these darker-then-them strangers are going to take their jobs. And it's profoundly anti-democratic and un-American.

These racist and xenophobic ideas are cropping up all over the Western world lately, bringing Nazi and neo-Nazi candidates to the forefront in elections in France, Germany, and Italy. And of course it's behind DJT's anti-immigration rhetoric.

Maybe all of this is just the normal and to-be-expected swing of the pendulum from the liberal and progressive direction it has seemed to be headed back in the opposite direction. Even it that's "all" it is, it is deplorable.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Weird Word of the Week: Freeping

It's a great word for a deplorable tactic. I found this word in an article, "The One-Star Blitz on Megyn Kelly's Book and the Weaponization of Amazon Blurbs." 

Silly me, I thought this article would be about how wishy-washy liberal Commie pinkos were giving one-star reviews to Ms. Kelly's "Settle for More."

But in fact it's about how right-wing trolls and know-nothings are giving one-star reviews to it, with such comments as, "Wow get over yourself. Your not that good! … Your treatment of Newt and Trump was inexcusable.”

The Slate article defines "freeping" as "a sleight-of-hand that depends on brute force. It originated on the right, which makes sense given its most prominent uses so far: howling about diversity in science fiction, mutinying against lady Ghostbusters, rallying around Trump."

Monday, January 4, 2016

Retire at 30?

Sure, why not?

I found a great article at Vox/com by Pete Adeney, AKA Mr. Money Mustache, about how to retire at age 30. Of course, his case was different from many people's, since I think being a software engineer might give one a better chance of earning and saving up enough money to retire after 10 years in that career.

He says it's simple, though not easy: "...just spend much less than you earn and pour the difference into efficient index funds. When your collection of investments reaches 25 times your annual spending, you're done."

Yeah. Right.

Yet his advice in this column is interesting and, I think, generally good. So I went to his own blog and read some more, and I was even more impressed.

I especially liked reading his thoughts about why we, people in general, work. What do we get out of it? And, by the way, why is money so important to us? Check out this post, "Get Rich With the Position of Strength." It's fascinating, and I guess I like it so much because it fits in with my own thoughts on all these issues.

Turns out it's not the money itself, but the ability that money gives us to have some power or control over our own lives, the strength it gives us. Makes sense, right? And that's why, Mr. Money Mustache says,  it's so valuable to retire early---or not actually retire, because who really wants to spend their waning years plopped in front of a TV set or playing golf with a bunch of geezers? No, retirement in that old sense is out, am I right? The way to retire is to use your freed-up time, your power, to do some good for people. So, if you're LDS, you might go on a mission. (Or not. Your choice. Don't let some visiting authority or local leader tell you that's what you need to do!) 

But what I really liked about this post were the ideas about strength. For instance:
  • Giving is a form of strength. When you say, “I have more than I need, and thus my desire to take should fade away as my desire to help out grows”.
  • Taking is therefore a form of weakness. On the playground, Luxury maintains just a little more desire to take,  which competes with his desire to give. Meanwhile, Mr. Abundance is always working on needing less. The “taking” weakness continues to shrink, allowing him to invest more in his “giving” strength.
  • Health is a form of strength. With health comes a clearer mind, more energy, a greater range of options and comfort zones, and a longer time alive to enjoy the offerings and mysteries of this planet. Life can dish you a blow, and you can get up and get back to work.
  • Physical Strength is the part of health that is mostly ignored in the United States, yet it is the most useful and efficient component. Sure, aerobics and bicycling can keep the worst effects of early decay at bay, but lifting heavy old-fashioned barbells and dumbells is a much faster and more thorough way to keep all of your systems in working order and create a foundation for the rest of your life’s strength.
  • Skills are a form of strength....
And so on.

Here's another blog post by Mr. Money Mustache, about nutrition and weight-loss. It's full of good, true, useful information. What do you eat for breakfast most days? Because if it's a slice of toast or a bowl of cereal, no wonder you're hungry an hour or two later! Which we all know, right? Just need to remind ourselves sometimes of these fact.  (And stop paying attention to Dr. Oz and all those idiotic women's magazine headlines.)

Anyone who follows these links, please let me know what you think.