Making America White Again?!

I’ve been thinking about this fellow a lot since I heard the story about his billboards with the slogan “Make America White Again.” Here’s the quote that I’ve been pondering (from that same link): he “wants to return to an earlier time ‘when there were no break-ins; no violent crime; no mass immigration.'”

1). As I tell my argument students, definitions are important. What does this person think is a “white” person? Are we going solely by skin color? Because even in “white” people, there’s a range of possibilities. Even within my own family, there’s a range of possibilities for white (with me being the palest–let me tell you, it’s no picnic to need sunscreen and hats whenever I step outside). Are we all white? Or are we using an ethnic definition– anyone with European ancestors, perhaps? My paternal grandmother’s parents were from England and Ireland–at the time, she would have been considered mixed-race because her father’s race was listed as Irish (i.e. not white). This applied to various other European groups in America’s immigration history, like the Italians. Does this fellow consider them all white? What about folks from Easter Europe? They faced the same kind of prejudice when they immigrated in large numbers–so do they count? How about Turkish folks? Turkey is a bridge between Europe and the Middle East. Russians? There are all kinds of ethic groups in Russia–do all of them “count” as white since Russia is European? Do Catholics count? At one point they didn’t. How about Jewish folks? Some of them have been in Europe for centuries. Are we just talking about WASPs? Or are we just talking paleness? Does the “one drop” rule apply? Since humans originated in Africa, are we all out of the running?

2) And when, exactly, was America white? I think I know when it was–when communities were segregated so that people of a certain age never saw anyone of color. That didn’t mean they weren’t there! I’ve read more than once that men who were kids in the fifties consider that time a golden age because they were shielded from many of the realities of life. So America wasn’t white then–just as it’s never been in our history. It’s that non-whites were so marginalized that their voices weren’t heard. That’s what we should go back to? Aren’t we better off now? (YES!)

3. Another mythical time is the “time before crime.” Again, I’m not sure when this was. It certainly wasn’t when Europeans stole the land from the people who were here first. Theft is a crime, even when it’s on a large scale, you know. It wasn’t when white people tried to commit genocide against the indigenous folks–that’s murder. Or introduce alcohol to them, killing millions more. Was it when Europeans kidnapped and enslaved millions of Africans? Why no, because that’s illegal too. How about when slave owners raped their slaves? No, that’s all kinds of crime right there. Was it when whites treated Chinese laborers as disposable? Obviously not. Was it when the US government interned Japanese citizens and confiscated all of their property? Again, that’s theft and unlawful imprisonment.

Oh, maybe he means crimes by individuals. In that case, here’s a link to the Brookings Institute which shows that the crime rate has been dropping for decades. Huh. And, of course, the folks who commit the crimes vary by area. Where I live, most of the crimes are committed by (wait for it) white people! Gosh. And what about those pesky immigrants? Well, the Wall Street Journal shows that to be a non-starter. Golly. In face, there’s some evidence to suggest that immigrants are more likely to be the victims of crime than the perpetrators. Gee willikers!

I guess what I’m trying to say here is that although some of my best friends are white, it’s obvious that people of European heritage are bringing drugs; they’re bringing crime; they’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.

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Review–Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography

Neil Patrick Harris’ autobiography is the cleverest autobiography I’ve ever read. It’s set up like those Chose Your Own Adventure books that were popular when I was in elementary school. The book, therefore, is written in second person (another terrific touch).

Reading it on the Kindle was a bit frustrating. More than once, a stray button push lead to the end (or beginning) of the book. After a while, I just started reading it sequentially–which didn’t hamper my enjoyment in the least. Mainly because Harris has such a breezy, fun, delightful tone throughout and there was so much cleverness (pick well, or you could kill Neal Patrick Harris!)–including three magic tricks (yes, really), two drink recipes, and songs! What was also fascinating were all the behind-the-scenes moments. Not gossip (although there are some moments of that!), but how a Broadway show works, how a TV show is put together, how it feels to host an award show. I think that Harris’ love of the mechanics of things is used well here (it’s part of why he loves magic).

It’s all great fun (and quite funny!). Give it a try.

Allergy Update

I went to the allergist yesterday (when I was talking about it with my mom later, we both wondered why I hadn’t gone before. I guess my method is to suffer and complain, rather than get some, you know, help).

There was an extremely long wait–it turned out that the person before me didn’t know to leave the exam room (I discover new things about people every day). Once I was in the room, however, the doctor was lovely! He asked lots of questions (How old is your house? How many pets?) and looked in my nose (I wondered, of course, if my nose was presentable!). He wrote me a prescription for a medicated nasal spray. When I was at my primary care physician’s office, she recommended that I use a saline spray. He asked me why I thought spraying salt up my nose was a good idea! I had to explain I was doing it on doctor’s orders. So, I’ve stopped snorting salt, you’ll all be thrilled to know.

It turns out that before he worked where he is now, he was the head of allergy stuff (not the official name) for one of the hospital systems locally. I was pleased that I’d stumbled onto him–full disclosure, I went to my insurance’s find a doctor thingie and looked for an allergist who was in-network. He’d won an award for spending time with patients, so I chose him. Lucky, no?

He also didn’t think much of the blood test I’d had done, so in slightly under two weeks, I’ll be getting a skin test. I was so relieved that it wasn’t another blood draw (vasovagal syncope is just so embarrassing!) that I really don’t mind being scratched with needles for a few hours. And I’ll have the results when I leave.

I’m then hoping that I can get allergy shots. I don’t know if he’ll start with grass, since that’s what provoked such a reaction, or if he’ll go with whatever I’m allergic to most (and has shots available). I know it’s a time and money commitment, but I’m already buying Claritin twice a month and spending twenty bucks a pop on it, so I think I’m trading up. One thing I’m not looking forward to is that I’m going to have to go “cold turkey” for a week on the Claritin so that we get a good  reaction. And the nasal spray won’t have fully kicked in, if at all. But I want this to be better, so I will endure being sniffly and stuffy and feeling like my brain is draining out of my head for a few days.

All-in-all, I’m cautiously optimistic.

PS: I am allergic to cats (not as severely as other things), so of course, the day after I see the allergist, my cat decides to snuggle with my face. I’m already having trouble breathing, and now there’s a giant, furry creature blocking what little air I get! Love you, kitty. 🙂

A Peculiar Person

After a strenuous day of interrupted plans, we’d stopped at the grocery store where, apart from a tendency for things to leap off the shelves, everything had been going fairly well. We barely had to wait for the cashier, who was friendly and efficient.

However, all boring things must come to an end, because then we encountered the peculiar person.

“Where did you get those bags?” she asked. Yes, we’re those people who bring our own bags. We even try to only use the ones for the store where we bought them.

“Oh, we got these ages ago.” They have since changed the design. I really like these bags because they are insulated and have handles that are long enough to go over the shoulder. Most store bags have these little handles that can only be carried in the hand. We have those too. None of this is odd, apart from the fact that the woman doesn’t seem to have much sense of personal space.

“We left ours at home,” she says.

“They should have some to sell here,” I say. The cashier tries to tell her where they are, but the woman interrupts.

“They sure are nice. I want one of those. Can I have them?”

I am helping the cashier pack and I’m not sure I heard her.

“Surely you can spare just one.”

What? No, the little part of my brain that was outraged when it heard about sharing in preschool says, these are mine. Get your own. But because I was raised to be polite (and there was no polite answer that I could come up with) I settled for intensely packing one of MY bags. The faster I could get out of there, the better.

“I mean, it’s just one. You couldn’t give me one?”

Did I accidentally enter another country when I wasn’t looking? Is this like those places where a person admires something in a home and is given it? Is this like Queen Mary around whom trinkets had to be hidden lest she took a liking to them and badgered her host into giving them to her? The hell?

I quickly finished and thanked the cashier. As I left, I heard her explaining to the woman where the bags could be found—to purchase, I might add.

I hastily put the groceries into my car, watching for the peculiar person, afraid she was going to want me to give her my car as well!

Adventures in Allergies

This morning, as I was getting dressed, I noticed that I had a rash on my upper chest. By the time I went downstairs to verify with my mother that I had had all of my immunizations, it had spread to my back.

Here’s a bad picture June 2016 004.JPG

It actually looks more inflamed in person (my excessive paleness tends to wash everything out). This site has a good picture of what it looks like.  It also went down both arms and legs:

June 2016 006.JPG

 

By the time it spread to my legs, I was officially freaking out, so I decided to go to the urgent care center that was in-network). I’d never been before and we got slightly lost (explain to me why Ohio doesn’t CLEARLY label all of its roads?!).

But we found the place. Everyone was extremely nice and seemed appropriately concerned. It turns out that I was having an allergic reaction (probably to freshly-mowed grass last night that didn’t show up until today because of all the anti-histamines I take). I had an extremely itchy throat last night, so that makes sense. Normally, when I’ve been out in the yard, I avoid the times when someone is cutting grass or has just mowed, but I needed to talk to the lovely young man who mows for us. I also, on the advice of my primary care doctor, take a shower after doing anything in the yard, but I was tired last night and didn’t. Lesson learned!

After noting that I had the rash “all over”, the wonderful doctor prescribed Prednisone which I’ve started (by the way, an in-clinic pharmacy? Great idea!). I’m not too itchy–the doctor thought because of my Claritin. I’m also washing all of my bedding.

I would REALLY like to stop having medical issues. Please? (And yes, I know that other people have it FAR worse, but I’ve never met anyone who breaks out because someone mowed. It’s silly!).

Migraine

Yesterday, I had a migraine (ugh!). My treatment for a migraine is to take an ibuprofen and go to bed for a few hours until the worst part of the nightmare is over.

My cat’s treatment? Bouncing onto the bed and meowing loudly into my face. Twice.

Not sure that second one is doctor-approved.

Review–The Magicians

I watched all of season one of The Magicians on SyFy (it took me three tries to get that right) and after the first episode ordered the e-book from the library. A number of other people had the same idea because I just got a chance to read it.

First, people who’ve read the book and people who’ve seen the show are going to have different ideas about plot and character. The show kept what it liked and discarded what it didn’t (that’s not a criticism–I’m all for adaptation to the medium!). It does make for bad guessing if you’re going from one to the other.

Second, the book (and according to the reviews I read about the show at the AV club) has some odd pacing. The protagonist, Quentin  Coldwater (great name, by the way), gets accepted to a magical school, Brakebills. Now, if you’ve read Harry Potter, each year of Hogwarts gets a full book. Here, the four years are all covered in one book (and WAY more besides). Since I found Brakebills and the world of magic there interesting, I would have liked to have spent more time there, but that’s a matter of taste.

Then the book takes an odd turn after graduation. There’s a largish section that doesn’t seem to have a reason for being (but I was reminded of the Underworld part of the heroic cycle if you’ve read Joseph Campbell). I’m sure that the author had more than one reason to include it, but it was not my favorite part.

Throughout the book (and especially the part in Fillory), Grossman does an excellent job of showing just how difficult learning magic or adventuring in a fantasy world would be. Quentin has blisters and scars from everything he does and, boy, does he earn them. This is something that’s skipped over by a lot of fantasy books, and I really appreciated it–and the REALLY thoughtful world-building that’s on display.

Another thing I appreciated were the frequent touches of humor and the really fine lines throughout–anytime I have to stop and read lines out loud, that indicates some really fine writing.

After reading some other reviews, I can see that some people didn’t pick up on a characteristic of Quentin’s–he’s obviously depressed (and doesn’t become miraculously cured when he gets to Brakebills, thank you Mr. Grossman). He has better days and bad days (and a few awful days) which was all quite realistic. Some of the reviews that I read thought that he was spoiled, self-centered, sullen or overly snarky, but if you’ve never been depressed it might very well come off as one of those things. A depressed person’s brain is not a pleasant place.

Despite the occasional plot pacing issue, I quite enjoyed this book.

There are two more books in the trilogy, and I’m already signed up for the next. Have you read The Magicians? What did you think?