Activists should be pushing for more moderates to advise Hitler, not fewer. How could having only extremists advise him possibly be good?
We should give him a chance, now that he’s Chancellor.
Activists should be pushing for more moderates to advise Hitler, not fewer. How could having only extremists advise him possibly be good?
We should give him a chance, now that he’s Chancellor.
Standing in line in my southern town at the probate court recently, I noticed a trend in the races of people getting their licenses. It was a line of white males, aged 18-45 getting pistol licenses, and people of color getting marriage licenses. In the hour I stood in line, I did not see one single deviation from this trend.
There’s something poetic to be said here, but I’m not poetic enough to say it.
If I never have to hear the words “tweeted, “twitter,” or “tweetstorm” ever again, that would be great.
We have hundreds of friends on Facebook. We follow hundreds of people on Twitter. We interact with dozens a people a day, spread across an equal number of timezones or even countries.
We follow funny blogs, meme-generators, and news sites on both of these services, and they deliver dozens of posts that we like and re-share to all of our friends, so they can see that we like them.
We feel like we’re making such a difference in the world! It’s so amazing! A collective consciousness if forming, almost — who can stop it? Who can fight it?
Disadvantaged groups are in control of such power! They now have a voice in the world so that everyone can hear of their struggles, thanks to the Internet! Social behavior that would’ve been illegal 50 years ago, and just an enormous faux pas even 25 years ago is now completely normal and accepted… isn’t it?
I mean, that’s what all my friends think. And I’m sure yours largely do too, if you’re probably reading this.
The reality in the rest of America, however, as we just learned, is very different.
We’re still not even in the postmortem stage from the Trump election win in 2016, but we’re close. Right now, people don’t know who to blame, mostly because the final results were such a surprise. Nobody saw the coming — not even FiveThirtyEight, who haven’t predicted an election wrong before this one.
And why would they? Why would any of us?
How many Trump supporters are you close to, on a daily basis? How many do you talk to daily, as a friend? Not bickering with online, but in person — where you’re more than just text making them angry on a website, but a living, breathing person in front of them, that they can see, and hear.
If the answer is zero, honestly I don’t blame you. Trump supporters aren’t usually… let’s just say it’s hard to have a conversation with someone who’s starting position is “Ban the Muslims/Mexicans, Build The Wall, Lock Her Up!” There’s not much gray area — not much room for common ground.
Even I only had about half a dozen, and they were all online. Mostly family members who survived earlier Facebook purges and friends from high school who stayed behind in the small town area where I grew up, and never left.
After this past week, of course, I’m no longer friends with them. Not because of anything they did or said, of course — most of them were fairly well-behaved — but because I realized, after the election, that we’re not really friends.
I didn’t talk to them in person. I couldn’t affect their lives in any meaningful way. In any discussion, there was never any meeting of the minds — no give and take. Every conversation could stop immediately when the aggrieved party wanted it to, by just walking away. There was never any reconciliation attempted, because there was no need to.
Our interaction was limited to them sharing their funny conservative memes from ridiculous websites and fake news sources, while I would groan inwardly and put up with them, because I was being “open-minded.”
They were certainly never going to change my mind about Hillary Clinton by posting some link about a “child sex ring in Macedonia run by the Clintons” (all false, of course), and I was never going to change their mind about voting for ol’ Agent Orange himself by telling them about his six bankruptcies, piggish attitudes about women, or the ridiculousness of building a “90 foot wall on the border of Mexico.”
So, why keep up the charade of pretending like we’re friends?
However, I didn’t stop there. How many like-minded people are you friends with on Facebook, that you also don’t see in person? A dozen? Ten dozen? A thousand? How many do you follow on Twitter?
Do you think these relationships are healthy? Do you think you’re making a difference in their lives? That by liking their posts, and replying to their comments on yours that you’re doing something nice for them?
Maybe — just maybe these interactions are robbing you of the desire to make actual relationships, with those people around you.
Now — before you get outraged — I’m not saying you can’t have a meaningful relationship with someone in a purely online fashion. I met my partner online, so I of all people am not saying that.
I’m just saying you can’t have a dozen simultaneously. Or ten dozen. You’re not Scarlet Johansson’s character from the movie Her. And you certainly can’t have 1,456 real “friends” on Facebook, no matter how much you like seeing the number.
These interactions you are having on Facebook, or Twitter, with people you rarely ever see in person, are having a negative influence on your life, and you may not even know it.
They momentarily quench the desire to have real connections, out there, in the real world. Friends you can visit in the hospital if they’re in a car accident. Friends with who you can move a couch. Friends you can go to a party with, or to the park.
And most importantly, friends who, if they don’t think exactly the same as you, may come around to your way of thinking when it’s voting time.
Because you see, like it or not, this is something “the other side” has the non-Trump-voter beat in, wholly — real life social engagement.
They have churches, where they see the same people regularly, every week.
They go to tailgate parties. Constantly.
They go to real parties, out in the woods, where cell phone connections are spotty and where you’re forced to, you know, talk to people.
And when it comes to voting time, they’re the ones telling their real-life connections, in person, who to vote for.
Yes, they have huge social media presence online, mostly — the recent trouble with fake conservative news being spread like wildfire across Facebook being an example of that — but it’s not their only, or even their most major form of social engagement.
Human beings are social creatures — it’s coded into our DNA. You may think you can survive without a tribe, or a group, but you can’t — that’s just our pleasant, safe, modern world fooling you.
When we human beings were first coming down from the trees and learning to walk on just two legs, the tribes we formed required people to work together to achieve goals — you had to know like-minded people (or in this case, hominids), or you didn’t survive. Human beings weren’t the fastest, or the strongest; we didn’t have sharp fangs or claws or sticky webs to trap pray in; but what we had was cooperation.
And those that could work together with others had their genes propagated to the next generation.
So what can you do? If you’re not going to delete your Facebook account in protest of their out-of-control “sharing” feature (I’m still considering it), start by unfriending everybody you don’t see on a daily basis.
Make a few exceptions for those two or three people who, no matter what the geographic distance, you’re still soul mates with. It won’t hurt.
Make an exception for close family that aren’t racist.
But that’s it.
Stop spending time talking to people who you can’t make a meaningful difference in their lives. It’ll hurt at first; I know. But soon that desire will turn into actual action that may help those that are close by to you right now, especially if you live in an area that’s a bit more heterogeneous. (You know, like those “swing” states that Hillary all lost.)
And that is where the culture war will be won. Not by posting rebuttals or Snopes articles on Facebook and Twitter. But by showing people who look and think slightly differently than you how you’re not a caricature.
And maybe, must maybe, they won’t vote next time for a man who thinks that women’s bodies are up for grabs, if you have enough money, or that it’s okay to mock the disabled, or that all illegal immigrants are murderers and drug-dealers.
Now, please don’t misunderstand me — I’m not talking about possibly changing the minds of any Trump voters — you should know that’s not possible by now. You’re talking about a kind of person who believes in fake news, without any facts, and when confronted with facts to the contrary, simply chooses not to believe in them. You can’t change that kind of person’s mind, so don’t try.
I’m talking about possibly convincing someone who doesn’t vote, or who is undecided, that they might want to try voting. Those are the changes you can make. And they can be made.
Getting better is a wonderful thing. You start getting your strength back; you start feeling more like a human being again, and less like a patient.
Within a few weeks (just like I said), you’re beginning to forget about how sick you were. The memories begin to fade. You start moving on.
But you’re never the same. (And that’s not always a bad thing.)
You can’t look at the world the same way again. The things that used to bring you joy, still do, but in a different way. You savor them slightly differently.
Even when you’ve made a full recovery, you’re always slightly worried about getting sick again. You now know you’re not immortal, and that thought tints everything you experience from this point on.
It’s not grief–it’s a different sort of feeling. It’s just a nagging, unplaceable, unstoppable worry.
Depending upon the vector that made you sick in the first place, you’ll always be thinking of it.
If it was melanoma, even if you bring yourself to be able to go out in the sun again, you’ll be constantly paranoid about it. You’ll wear SPF75 sunblock and wear hats and long sleeved shirts, even to the beach.
If it was influenza, you’ll be scared of large crowds. You won’t look at door handles the same way. If you’re at a restaurant, and your waiter coughs, you’ll want to leave.
If it was something terrible like food poisoning that stayed with you for a while, you probably wouldn’t be able to go to a restaurant at all. You’ll cook your own food in a hermetically sealed kitchen until you either get over it or until some event or occurrence forces you to eat food prepared by someone else. (And then you more than likely won’t get sick again, and you’ll be fine.)
But that’s what it’s like. That’s life. I imagine that’s why therapists exist. Even after a traumatic occurrence in your life is over, the mental and emotional issues just stick around for a while.
Time helps. Distracting yourself helps. It helps if you have a social circle of friends and family to depend on, as the social drama from keeping these relationships healthy can take up enough of your time that you no longer have the time to worry.
Sometimes it helps to make a big change in your life at this point. Something to make you feel like what you just went through was significant in some way.
If you’ve been thinking about quitting your job and working somewhere else, now is the time to do it, especially if you haven’t been able to psyche yourself up before this point.
If you’ve been thinking about moving, now might be the time to do it.
If you’ve been putting off some big project in your life–what the hell, why not start now?
I imagine I’m not the first person to come to that realization.
(If I’m coming back to this article at some point in the future, this is where I need to remind myself to go ahead and skip ahead to the end section, “Getting better.” That’s where the happier stuff starts.)
Well, this time I was going to make sure this never happened again. I went and got my checkup at the same clinic three weeks later, where they scanned me for pneumonia by x-ray and found no evidence of it.
There’s actually a pneumonia vaccine, too — typically only recommended for the very young or those with other chronic health problems (just so that if you ever have to go to the hospital again, you don’t have to worry about getting pneumonia while in a hospital bed, along with everything else you’re having to deal with). So, I got that, just to be thorough.
I started being very clean and washing my hands all the time, using alcohol-based hand sanitizers, etc. I got the flu shot every year for the next five years, right as soon as it was available, in early September. I ate right and tried to exercise.
I figured that, even if I did somehow contract influenza again, it probably wouldn’t turn into pneumonia, because I had the vaccine, right? I no longer considered myself invincible, but I surely didn’t go around fearing for my health all the time.
Getting pneumonia twice was like getting hit by lightning twice, right? I couldn’t possibly get it a third time.
Well, it looks like I did.
This year, 2015, the flu vaccine didn’t cover all the strains of flu that got around into the general population. Or there was a mutation late in the year and even people who had gotten the flu shot started getting the flu. Either way, about two weeks ago, I started having chills, and body aches, and knew immediately that I had to take action.
So, I went into full flu-preparation mode. I went to the clinic, and even though I turned up negative for the flu (via the big nasal swab q-tip test), I was prescribed tamiflu, and an antibiotic. I went to the pharmacy, got my prescriptions, got lots of fluids, and prepared to just get over it, like everyone else does. My fever started going higher, but I was able to keep it down with fever-reducing drugs.
However, I wasn’t getting any sleep. My sleep was fitful and bothered. I coughed. The fact that my new job requires me to be on call 24/7 during a week every two months, and that of course my on-call week started simultaneously when I started coming down with flu symptoms didn’t help either. (When you’re in a rotation of on-call personnel, and your week comes up, you don’t get out of it unless you’re either dead or in jail, and I was neither at this point.)
Good sleep is important to getting over any illness — it’s said it gives your immune system time to repair and restore, and I wasn’t getting any of it.
So, seven days later, instead of being completely over everything, I was still sick.
My on-call week being over by this point, I told my boss I was going to be out for a while, and I didn’t know when I’d be back. I go back up the clinic, get checked out again… and this time it looks like I’ve got pneumonia.
Even though I’ve had the vaccine, it looks like I still got it. The doctor prescribes me a stronger antibiotic, I get it filled, and go home to rest some more.
Two days later I had no fever anymore, and felt like I had more energy.
I’m writing this now, after I’m pretty sure the pneumonia’s cleared up. It’s been five days since my fever broke after being put on a stronger antibiotic (the first batch that I was put on at the clinic either wasn’t strong enough, or wasn’t going to go on long enough to clear everything up).
I’ve had a minor scare with some of the medication I was on — something was causing an allergic reaction, so I’ve had to stop some gradually to see if things get better. I know in the grand scheme of things — ending up in the hospital and all that — a mild allergic reaction is no big deal.
But I’m still worried. And scared.
I imagine this happens to most people who go through some sort of health scare — you’re worried you’re not actually getting better, and that you’ll relapse.
You’re worried that even if you do get completely better, the same thing will happen to you again in the future, and you’ll be a burden to your loved ones again.
Getting very badly sick, even if you recover from it, saps you of confidence. If fills you with doubt. It makes you depressed, which is as much as impediment to recovery as anything else you encounter.
I know I’ll get over it all soon. I know I’ll be healthier, and have my strength back, and in a month or two or three, I won’t be thinking of this every single day.
Having people in your life who love and care for you helps. I have Nina. Without her I wouldn’t know what I would do, and she helps me find reserves of strength I had in me that I didn’t even know was there.
So, I’ll get better. There’s things I know to look out for. More drugs to add the list of medications to warn doctors about.
The pneumonia vaccine is supposed to have a booster after five years, so I’ll make sure and get that after I get better. I’ll make a new appointment with my doctor for some time in the future, and talk about what risk factors may have led to this.
The good things are this — this time, when I get better, I will have gotten better without having to go to the hospital.
That proves I can do it. Every time I get pneumonia I learn more about it, how to handle it, and what to look out for. I’ve learned a few things about what not to do (like the safest thing to take for a fever is just plain ibuprofen, did you know that?).
Maybe it’ll happen to me again, maybe it won’t. Maybe medical science will advance to the point where even if I do get it, a single shot of nano-bots or something will take care of it for me.
So, if you’re reading this five, seven, ten years from now, Me, know that you’ll get over it.
Around about the same time of the year (March-April), but seven years later, I came home from work one day just feeling like a general pile of crap. My whole body hurt. (I had no idea why.)
(Continued in Part III…)
Five years ago I wrote this blog post, with the intention of writing more later on:
There, interspaced between two random blog posts (one about some upgrades I was doing to my car and one about a joke, one-off version of Left 4 Dead made up in retro-NES style) was an entreaty to myself to try and get my thoughts down on paper about what I had just gone through. To look back and reflect on what had just happened to me, because I had had a lot to think about recently.
Unfortunately, I never did. And I really should have — it would’ve helped me when I went through it again, recently. This time, hopefully, it doesn’t seem like it was as bad. But I still could’ve used the strength.
There, I said it. I don’t even like saying the word, as if it had some evil power over me, and that by naming it I get its attention. I don’t like thinking about it, or talking about, and five years ago, I thought I was through with it forever.
Perhaps this is why I never wrote about it five years ago — I was healthier, I had recovered — maybe I just wanted to put the entire thing behind me and just forget about it.
I’ve had pneumonia three times in my life now, and I’m only in my early 30’s. Most people never get it, and usually only when they’re very young or very old. It’s an ancient disease — the ancient Greek surgeons knew of its symptoms, and when the symptoms were fully actualized, it’s terrible mortality rate. It’s been called “the Captain of the Men of Death,” and in the 1800’s, was responsible for the death of millions
I first was diagnosed with pneumonia when I was only 21, in the prime of my health. I was healthy, happy, and newly in love. It seemed like nothing could stop me.
Even so, it’s not like I led an unhealthy life, even back then. I didn’t eat to excess. I’ve never smoked. I’ve never drank alcohol so much so that it’s a part of my life. I don’t have a job or career that causes me to be exposed to harmful chemicals, or dusts, or inhalants.
Even so, when I was just 21, I started getting sick at school (I was going to college at the time). I lacked energy, I didn’t have much appetite, and I’m pretty sure I was running a fever (my future wife Nina and I were poor college students back then, so I’m not even sure if we owned a thermometer). Eventually I was so weak couldn’t get out of bed, and when I breathed in I had a terrible pain in my right side.
Luckily, I was still a member of my parents’ health insurance plan, so at the urging my parents and Nina, we rushed to the hospital late in the evening. There, quickly in the emergency room, I was x-rayed, diagnosed with pneumonia (of all things!), given a massive shot of direct antibiotics, and sent home with a 10-day prescription of keflex.
Within about 2-3 days I was better.
That’s what I don’t get the most about pneumonia. “Captain of the Men of Death,” indeed — it certainly makes you feel like the life is draining out of you. And today it’s cured by a quick shot of antibiotics, and a take-home prescription.
I got better, got over it, got married, finished college, got my first “real” job, and went on with my life. For seven years I never had to think about it.
Probably the book I’ve most loved from William Gibson since his earlier work — while not giving up on the, ahem, “different” style from his later work, he seems to have blended it with the futurism of his earlier 80’s work to make something entirely new and refreshing refreshing.
Taking place in two different times completely (15-20 years in our future, and about 70 years on from that), the book features the plot device of time travel, but in a way that doesn’t break the laws of causality — each world is more like its own universe within the multiverse. The denizens from the earlier time are used as a form of labor — think Amazon’s Mechanical Turk.
While all of Gibson’s books seem to end suddenly, leaving you wishing they’d go on for just another 40-50 pages, this one is especially so — I haven’t been reading a book and wanting it *not* to end this bad in a long time. The world that Gibson has created is just so rich.
I often find myself in the position of having to transfer all my files, applications, and other configurations that make my laptop “mine” onto a new laptop.
What’s so strange about that, you might add? Well, I go through all of this once every six months. It’s not that I keep buying new computers — I don’t. But I often obtain them in other ways — I trade, I help someone buy a new computer and in turn get their old one, etc.
So, tired of having to constantly re-install everything (or, at the very least, if I’ve imaged one laptop to another, having to spend a week or so having to get everything running just right), I decided to just convert my current main computer into a VM that I could just run on any computer, running any sort of OS that’s enough to run VirtualBox.
(This tutorial was created with VirtualBox in mind, but other VM’s have similar ways of converting the final file after you get to about step 3 or so.)
It seems like it should be easy, and after a little bit of work, I found out that it’s not too hard.
dd if=/dev/sda1 of=image.bin
dd if=/dev/zero of=newhd.img bs=1G count=0 seek=100
sudo kpartx -a newhd.img
sudo cp image.bin /dev/mapper/loop0p1
sudo resize2fs /dev/mapper/loop0p1
sudo kpartx -d newhd.img
The only steps left at this point are to create your new VM in VirtualBox, and then start it using this HD. It more than likely won’t boot, so what you’ll need to do is start it with a livecd of your choice, and then fix the boot (I used the wonderful boot-repair utility available to Ubuntu).
VBoxManage convertfromraw -format VDI skyhawk4.img skyhawk4.vdi