Friday, January 31, 2014

Simply Heartwarming

Everyone loves a good story about a kid.  When we lived in Iowa, my younger daughter was in the paper constantly, owing to the slow news occurrences in the rural midwest, and to the fact that she was always up to something.  She was the lead in the school play, the youngest seller at the local farmers' market, a darn good entrepreneur by the time she was 8, and she took a pretty cute picture.  Everyone loves a good story about a kid.

That explains this story about a young Illinois entrepreneur with a talent for cupcake making.  Cute kid, good product, happy customers.  Easy to explain.

So what explains this?  Apparently, the Madison County, Illinois, health department has stepped in and shut down the 11-year old cupcaker because she doesn't have a permit or a "licensed kitchen."  Yup.  Even though just about every last one of us eats food every day from our own "unlicensed kitchen," and the incredibly vast majority of us don't die, or even get sick from it.   Even though many many states have "cottage food" laws that regularly allow the sales of such foods as baked goods and jams and the like, without licensing of the kitchen or health permits--and the world is still standing after that kind of anarcho-crazy liberality.  Even though there are virtually NO known cases of people getting sick from it.

You know what I think explains it?  Fear.  Every time we turn around, we read about some horror story of something that supposedly caused someone to get sick or die.  Spinach with e coli.  Peanut butter.  Bad meat.  Raw milk.  Mosquitoes.  Oh-freaking-no!  Right on cue, spurred on by ridiculously overblown media coverage that always makes it sound like the whole world has one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel (even if it's eleven people who got a belly ache), people begin to clamor--"something MUST be done!" or "there ought to be a law!"

And, right on cue, spurred on by people scared of boogeymen and peanut butter, someone makes that law and someone shuts down a cute kid doing something useful, that people used to do all the time, without anyone dying.  So keep that in mind next time you're tempted to have some "authority" make you safe from cupcakes or something else that you could easily just decide not to buy if you're concerned about it.  So my thought for today: Live dangerously--eat a damn cupcake.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Divide and Conquer

Once again, James Corbett, of the Corbett Report and Boiling Frogs Post, has hit the nail on the head.  Want to know why you always feel like you're getting whipsawed back and forth while little changes?  You're being played.  But on the bright side, there are 23 flavors of bagels!  Watch.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

The Truth About the Media

This short video pretty much tells us everything we need to know about watching TV news.  WARNING:  Colorful Language!

Will you turn it off now?

Saturday, January 18, 2014

The Things I Cannot Change

When you're in a twelve-step program, you become very familiar with a little ditty called The Serenity Prayer.  It's made its way into common parlance, so you're probably familiar with it:

Lord, grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change, 
the courage to change the things I can, 
and the wisdom to know the difference.

I can't even begin to count how many times I heard that prayer, thought about it, and said it in a big circle of  people in dingy rooms full of styrofoam coffee cups, cigarette smoke, and pain.  And yet, until just a moment ago in my comfortable kitchen, talking to my husband, I really never once focused on what I now think is the true meaning of those words.

You see, most people think that prayer tells you to get determined and change yourself for the better  and to accept "how stuff is" with grace.  

We can't change the past.  That's an easy one--water under the bridge, spilled milk,  and all that.  So, as they tell you in the programs, just "Let go and let God."  That's a great relief to people whose past doesn't really flatter them too much, and it's pretty welcome to grab onto that one.

Much more difficult to appreciate is that we can't change the future.  We love to believe that we can change the future.  If we plan and plot, worry and manipulate, diet and exercise, make everyone get spied on and patted down and disarmed, try to make everyone think and act the same, we can ensure that we have the outcome we want--a long and happy life, good health, the love of people, and most likely, a pretty boring time of things.  That's what we want:  peaceful, quiet, "happy," and bland.

When you start really thinking about it, though, you quickly discover that we can't change the future because there are just too many variables going into it that we have no input in--other people's behavior, unseen consequences that we can't know about, "the facts" being different than we currently suppose they are, and on and on. 

So,  the "things I cannot change" pretty well encompasses everything past and future, doesn't it?  It leaves one thing, and one thing only.  The very next thing that I do.  

Not the next thing that someone else does:  that's up to them. I can have my life all planned out, from what we're having for dinner to where we'll live in retirement, and my spouse could walk in and say, "Honey, I'm sorry, but I'm not happy and I'm leaving.  Now."  

Not the thing I do after the next thing, because something else can intervene, and the whole landscape changes.  I can be dressed and ready to go somewhere, with the whole day written out for myself, and if I walk out the door to find my car doesn't start, the whole plan evaporates.

And so that leaves Just One Thing.  The only thing.  The one very next thing that I do, think, or say.  From inside the little universe that is "me," that and that alone is "reality."   And that should be the one thing that we all pay the most attention to.  Oddly enough, it seems to be the one thing most of us pay the least attention to. 

Yikes.  I've got some work to do.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

The Velvet Chains of Groupthink

It's been awhile, hasn't it?  Mostly because I just haven't known anything to say that isn't already said, usually better, somewhere that a lot more people read.  But today, I watched a video I highly recommend.   You know every time you've thought something, and then been too afraid to say anything because it seems like everyone else thinks the opposite?  Well, watch this video to see why you did that--and what the consequences are of our collective cowardice.  Then STOP doing it, and we'll change the world.