Old White Men

Donald Trump’s base is said to be old white men, particularly in the midwest. I take that personally.

I was born and raised in Wisconsin, and I’ve written about our progressive but now sullied history. Among the same people who are old white men now were the leaders of the new left 50 years ago. Granted, the new left was a campus fad 50 years ago, and there were people posing as leftists then who, had they been ten years younger, would have been going to toga parties. (Or younger yet – doing the Macarena, wearing silicone wrist bands and thinking that was changing the world; or older – swallowing goldfish, going on panty raids, stuffing phone booths…you get the drift.)

Many people have been quoted erroneously as saying something like, “If you’re not a liberal at 20 you have no heart. If you’re not a conservative at 40 you have no brain.”(While a version of this has been attributed to Winston Churchill, there are variations going back centuries.) I would add, “If you’re not a socialist at 60, you haven’t integrated the two.”

We didn’t all turn to the Dark Side when our hair turned grey. To be an old white man is not to be a follower of He Who Must Not be Named. I wish that didn’t need to be said.

I was just reading an article in my wife’s therapy trade journal (I doubt they call it that; but that’s what we called the magazines about the industry I read – and wrote for – when I was in the grocery biz) about toxic masculinity. The possibly fictionalized man was spouting the usual “kids these days” claptrap, using air quotes around the term “gender-fluid”, and lamenting that he used to know what it meant to be a man and now he’s confused. Hmmm…seems I read the same kind of stuff about 45 years ago at the height of the second wave of feminism. Does that mean this guy somehow slept through the second and third waves, and fourth wave feminism suddenly has him confused? Does he not remember his life until now?

While the term gender-fluid may not have been around 45 years ago, I remember being mistaken for a woman by a car salesman who approached me from behind and saw only my long hair. (He still got the sale.) I remember my housemate’s rejoinder to a guy in a bar who said, “I can’t tell if you’re a man or a woman”. (“Why don’t you suck my dick and find out?”) The term then was androgyny – still binary but acknowledging a world between the poles.

I went to a talk by Ram Dass, who described various levels on which humans can relate to each other. The first level he described as one on which everyone is a potential, a rival, or irrelevant. A brief version of that talk is found here. He talked about changing the channel, and there being more than one way to relate to others. It seems some people are still stuck on that channel. And it’s no wonder. That is the channel that most advertising is tuned to, the channel our society seems pretty stuck on. It appears that marketers are all 13 year olds. My apology to many 13 year olds. (If we broaden this to mainstream culture in general, we have to add our glorification of violence, or “Sax and violins”. How many cops shows can you count on TV? Not enough fingers to count them all. They only shoot bad guys and they never miss. Ever notice how TV doctors are way more fallible than TV cops? Seems that in TV-landia, all the best and brightest become cops. Those who can’t get into the academy settle for med school.)

An aside: We have a term for hatred of humankind: “misanthropy”. We have a term for hatred of women: “misogyny”. I never hear the term for hatred of men: “misandry”. We have a term for having multiple spouses: “polygamy”; but we usually use it to describe a man having multiple wives, which is actually: “polygyny”. And we seldom see the term for a woman having multiple husbands: “polyandry”.

Is masculinity really so fragile that any deviation from the norm is threatening? And I know Norm, he’s pretty deviant. I guess it’s about as fragile as whiteness (see White Fragility, by Robin DiAngelo).

The Joys of Home Ownership

I’ve written checks for $16,000 and most people looking at my house wouldn’t see any difference – replacement roof, gutters and downspouts, furnace, and air conditioning. All maintenance items, not home improvements. All to keep entropy at bay.

Written while furloughed. A single day furlough, with more to come.

One day at a time –
A) to spread out the pain,
B) to make sure I don’t apply for unemployment and make my employer look bad,
C) to allow the employer maximum flexibility to adjust to day-to-day staffing needs,
D) all of the above?

(Furloughed: off work without pay, but still on the payroll and eligible for benefits
Laid off: off work without pay, off the payroll, with an expectation or possibility of rehire
Fired: off work without pay, off the payroll, no expectation of being rehired.)