Department Of Given The Headline, Is This Warning Necessary?
Los Angeles Times headline 11-7-23
“Four current and former L.A. Sheriff’s Department employees
died by suicide in a 24-hour span.
warning: This story includes discussion of suicide.”
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Department Of An Odd Thing That Makes Me Feel Lonely
That would be the show Escape To The Country, a BBC daytime TV show (recommended to moiself by a friend), wherein current city dwellers search for their dream homes in rural UK areas.  The ETTC would-be buyers give their budget, desired rural locale, and other what-we-want parameters to a real estate agent, who then shows them three properties for sale.
My afternoon exercise sessions often include working out to a DVD, and a few weeks ago I began watching ETTC during my cooldown/stretching sessions. Although I found ETTC quite interesting at first (it was fun to imagine traveling to those areas), watching those potential home-in-the-country buyers gradually made me feel…lonely, in a way that was initially hard for me to recognize, much less describe.
Methinks I have identified the sources of what my mind interpreted as loneliness:
(1) The ETTC buyers are mostly older, often retirees, and are living in a city. They’re moving to “the country,” where they don’t know anyone and will have few nearby neighbors.  Aren’t they going to be friendless, at least for a while?
(2) What an adventure that would be, moving to the English/Welsh/Scottish/Northern Ireland countryside (even for those people who are already in Great Britain)! But the show makes me wonder…has my and MH’s time for such adventures passed?
(3) Even if for some reason MH and I wanted/found a way to relocate to another country (whether permanently or temporarily), we’d be leaving behind family and friends. Given our life circumstances (read: “at our age”), would we make new friends, or would we be the proverbial fish  out of water? What makes a friend is the willingness and availability to *be* one. After a certain time, most people already have their friends, and do not have a surplus of time and energy to devote to making new ones. 
Well, not quite so long. This story is from sixteen years ago, when I was at the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s annual conference, in Madison, WI. On the day the conference ended, while riding the hotel shuttle to the airport moiself struck up a conversation with an elderly couple who sat across from me on the shuttle’s bench seats. We chatted about the convention highlights, what a great city Madison was, etc. Noticing their British accents, I offered that I lived in Oregon, and asked where they were from. They said they’d lived in Connecticut for 15 years but, “as you might guess,” were from England. When I said, Do you mind if I ask why you moved? they exchanged knowing glances, and the wife said, “This conversation.”
They chuckled at my bemusement, and the husband went on to clarify: Both of them were native Brits who’d lived in England all their lives,  and they’d never had a conversation like this – a warm exchange with a stranger – in their home country. It simply didn’t happen. While they considered themselves to be kind and friendly folk, they found Brits in general (“Yes, we realize *we* are also British”) to be rather…cold; distant; hard to get to know. Traveling outside of England confirmed their opinions, and they decided to retire elsewhere. Within six months of moving to Connecticut they felt they had more close friends and neighbors than they did in 60 years of living in England.
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Department Of The Problems With Identity Politics
Beware the harmful consequences of good intentions.
Yeah; beware that ides-thing, as well.
But my beware is related to a series of decades-old, poignant conversations with a family member about good intentions gone wild, conversations which sprang to mind when I came across an article by academic and writer Freddie deBoer. I will address those conversations in a future post; on to the article, which is thought-provoking enough for moiself to devote way too much a modicum of blog bandwidth to the article’s observations and assertions (and I hope my excerpts prompt you to peruse it in its entirety). 
deBoer, a self-described “Marxist of an old school variety,” writes on politics and culture. His specific interests include media commentary and “critiques of progressive pathologies from the left”: in the case of this article, identity politics activists who advocate for a “community” which in fact does not exist, and who might presume include him in their community, whether or not he wanted to be. 
In deBoer’s intro to his article (excerpted below; my emphases), he notes that although he’s written about certain elements of the disability rights and the disability studies movements (the former a “catchall term frequently used by activists,” the latter an academic field), these complicated subjects are worthy of book-length analysis. deBoer intends his article to be a “primer,” and warns that ...the people who are responsible for this stuff have good intentions; indeed, that’s part of what makes it all so frustrating and at times tragic.
” ‘Disability rights’ rhetoric implies a community of the disabled that does not exist.
A common problem with identity politics is that those who practice it often imply unanimity within broad groups that doesn’t exist (…I refer to the common implication that all Black Americans supported defunding the police in 2020 [despite] polling demonstrating that no such thing was true.)
There are sometimes commonalities that are shared by a large percentage of a given group, but ‘people with disabilities’ is an unusually broad and varied group even compared to others. This is true because all kinds of people can be afflicted with all kinds of disorders, making it unthinkable that we’d ever see (for example) rigid attachment to a given political party among the disabled. More, the experience of disability is dramatically different depending on a given ailment – you can refer to people with psoriasis and with anxiety and with ALS all as ‘people with disabilities,’ but that’s a meaningless exercise…
…(also) many people with disabilities reject being defined that way, which has inherent political and social consequences. All of this diversity undermines any faith we might have in seeing those with disabilities as a coherent political group. Disability activists are forever purporting to speak for all people with disabilities even as many such people completely reject the activist agenda. There is no organizing committee for people who are sick. This has particular consequences given the next point.
Normalizing disability inevitably centers the most normal and sidelines the most severely afflicted. When you insist that there’s nothing wrong with people with disabilities, you are inherently (if usually unwittingly) pushing people who obviously have something wrong with them out of the conversation.…
… autism self-advocacy partisans are so insistent that having autism is not in any sense negative that they have to sideline those whose autism is clearly negative, as it is with profoundly autistic people who are nonverbal or self-harming or unable to control their bathroom function or similar. Such people are an uncomfortable reminder of what autism specifically and disability generally can do, so they are marginalized by those who prefer to maintain a false positivity. …. Anyone who can’t express themselves in a conventional way, whether thanks to cerebral palsy or autism or schizophrenia or any other condition, finds themselves written out of the debate….”
deBoer notes a disturbing trend of disability/identity rights activists: proclaiming that there is nothing wrong with having a disability and therefore nothing needs to be fixed – that what the disabled suffer most from is a stigma placed upon them by society.
“Once disability becomes identity, treating disability as something bad becomes forbidden. Contemporary disability mores are deeply influenced by the social model of disability, which holds that disabilities themselves are not inherently or intrinsically bad but rather that society has not set itself up in such a way as to accommodate those with disabilities.
It’s certainly true that we should do far more to make the world more accessible, but I don’t think that attitude is productive. I’m perfectly happy to say that being sighted is better than being blind regardless of how society sets itself up, and for the record there are many people with disabilities who find it insulting and callous to be told that there’s nothing wrong with them. Either way, insisting that you simply are your disability sacrifices your autonomy and right to self-define on the altar of an identity that you didn’t choose….
Stigma is nobody’s biggest problem….
A deeply mentally ill person who lives under a bridge has a lot of very real problems, and stigma is not one of them.
… Almost no one who suffers from a serious disability is going to name stigma as the highest hurdle they face. Access to healthcare, housing, and food, achieving basic financial stability, grappling with hopelessness and depression, finding community and love…. All of these things come first. But because of the incentives of identity politics, stigma reigns as the object of fixation…..
( excerpts from “What’s the Problem with Disability Studies and the ‘Disability Rights’ Movement? Self-appointed spokespeople don’t own disability issues.”
Freddie Deboer, Nov 6, 2023; my emphases )
* * *
Department Of I Hate To Even Type “Literally,” But Literally,
Chills Ran Up My Spine When I Read This WaPo article
Because in the article was the essence of a recurring dream I had in childhood – a dream that could become reality, according to the article? Moiself wrote about this dream in my post of 12-13-2019:
“A major unpleasant memory from my childhood (early 1970’s So Cal) was dealing with smog alerts. Activities were curtailed; recess and PE classes cancelled…. Flash forward to the present, and whenever we have had ‘low quality’ air alerts – as when the smoke from recent year’s wildfires drifted south or north to the Portland metro area – my watery eyes and that distinctive ‘catch’ I feel in my chest/bronchial tubes takes me back to those wretched smog alert days.
In the late 1960s through the early 1980s California’s enactment of innovative, first-in-the-nation, vehicle emission control strategies and standards actually worked, and although the state’s population continued to rise its air quality improved…for a few decades, at least.  But while politicians and scientists joined forces to cobble together stop-gap measures, a schoolgirl dreamed of a fantastical invention which would solve the problem forever.
During an interval of several months when I was 11 or 12 years old, I had dreams wherein I invented colossal fan/vacuum type devices which, when placed in strategic locations across the state, sucked in air and ran the air through a series of filters, which strained out the polluting particulate matter and compacted the pollutants into bricks, particle boards, and other (non-toxic) building materials. Not only would our air be clean, this invention also protected trees and forests, as the need for lumber was greatly curtailed.
Yep, it seemed realistic to me at the time. The decades passed, and the Scientist/Engineer Who Saved The World…well, it very obviously didn’t turn out to be moiself….”
Here is a teaser for the WaPo article which prompted my digression:
“For decades, scientists have tried to figure out ways to reverse climate change by pulling carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere…. Companies, researchers and the U.S. government have spent billions of dollars on the research and development of these approaches and yet they remain too expensive to make a substantial dent in carbon emissions.
Now, a start-up says it has discovered a deceptively simple way to take CO2 from the atmosphere and store it for thousands of years. It involves making bricks out of smushed pieces of plants. And it could be a game changer for the growing industry working to pull carbon from the air.”
( excerpts from “The Lego-like way to get CO2 out of the atmosphere,”
The Washington Post, 11-13-23 )
* * *
Freethinkers’ Thought Of The Week 
* * *
May you carefully consider your participation in identity politics;
May you risk engaging amiable strangers in conversation;
May you eschew  using redundant content warnings;
…and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 England, Wales, Northern Ireland, Scotland
 Most of the buyers specify wanting a good deal of acreage, for their fantasy of having horses and/or livestock, ample space for gardens, etc.
 Pacific Northwest Chinook salmon, most likely.
 Nor the motivation to do so, if you are satisfied (and busy) with your current friendship group.
 Or at least until 15 years ago.
 Which is a writerly way of saying, “read the whole damn thing.”
 According to some disability rights activists, DeBoer is part of the disability rights community due to his bipolar disorder.
 So Cal air pollution is rising again. Rising numbers of people and vehicles outnumber good intentions and inventions. Waaaah.
 “free-think-er n. A person who forms opinions about religion on the basis of reason, independently of tradition, authority, or established belief. Freethinkers include atheists, agnostics and rationalists. No one can be a freethinker who demands conformity to a bible, creed, or messiah. To the freethinker, revelation and faith are invalid, and orthodoxy is no guarantee of truth.” Definition courtesy of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, ffrf.org
 I once tried to come up with a joke about a Spaniard describing how he eats a French delicacy: ” I eschew the escargot.” Yup; still working on it.