Category Archives: politics

It’s a mad, mad, mad world

While I was disconnected to writing for way too long, in that interim, two unbelievable examples of the human species became power centers, one on either side of the world.  Can you say narcissist?  And that’s not even the worst of it.  That’s me being kind for a change. Sadly but inevitably, the worlds around these all-powerful leaders shifted and morphed as well. Transient change, one hopes. Hope is a beautiful thing even if it does tend to trick your mind sometimes.

It was so dispiriting to watch and experience these worlds to the point that a few weeks ago, I decided I had enough disgust to last a lifetime (mostly in the Western hemisphere). I needed a timeout – a self-imposed news embargo, from the interminable news cycles that were spinning out of control. I found that giving up my news addiction was an unexpectedly easy habit to form. That’s saying something for a (recovering) news junkie. There was no more devouring of news of any kind except for my daily ten minutes of skimming the headlines of The Times.  Especially no more TV news channels, the kind with talking heads, 24 x 7. And amazingly, nothing drastic happened.  My life continued. And, if anything, I gained back a modicum of peace of mind and a better quality of life. 

So then I began to have this gap hour every evening where I suddenly had the freedom to explore my options. I could read I suppose but I already had other reading stints during my day and night. I could spend more time checking out stuff on my smartphone, but I am smart enough to know that it was only making an idiot out of me.

Switch instead to binge worthy streaming content and a whole new world opened up.  Depending on the show, it was some combination of messy, real, fantastical, down-to-earth, historical, contemporary, futuristic, melodramatic, creepy, funny, sad, mad and more.  Pure delightful, sometimes disturbing, concoctions that had to be forcefully (if not always successfully) controlled from becoming binge consumption to bite sized entertainment.  After too many hours of working, I had found a safe haven of fiction that kept me away from the real news of the day helping to restore my sanity and relax my mind at the same time, even if only for an hour each evening.

And that’s how I finally got around to watching one of the olden goldies of Mad_Men_Logoepisodic content – the brilliantly produced, Mad Men series. It goes back a long time,  all the way to 2007 when the series first aired. That’s ancient for this kind of popular content and I was only now getting to see what all that excitement had been about.

No, not dreamy Jon Hamm.  Although, that one is incredibly….talented!  😉   The Elisabeth_Moss_and_Jon_Hamm_of_Mad_Men_-_5054230830entire show (and I’m only done with the first season) is so very well done.  And as I savored each moment of each episode, rationing myself to one a day, I realized something obvious that was also rather profound.

We have come a long way.  Baby.

Mad Men is set in the world of advertising of Madison Avenue, circa 1960.  To give an idea, here’s a description of Episode 1 of Season 1: New York City, 1960s. In the ego-driven Golden Age of advertising, everyone is selling something and nothing is what it seems.

This show pulls you in right from that beginning and doesn’t want to let you go.  

On the one hand, I was thoroughly delighting in the engrossing drama and entertaining art of it all. And on the other, I watched in horror the deplorable behavior of men and the abuse that women of those times were putting up with it. In the series, I watched the incessant smoking, the three martini “business” lunches, the business men, the advertising executives (all men), the power brokers (all men), the creative directors (all men), the copywriters (men again), the secretaries and typists (all women) and the amazingly, deeply unequal relationship between the sexes, both at home and work.  Blatant abuse of women by men, and the acceptance of the abuse by the women was the normal.   This was 1960…not that far back in the scheme of things.  Truly. Unbelievable. 

And that’s when it struck me…as bad and broken as things seem in today’s world with today’s gross headlines, there is still reason to hope and reason to be grateful about real progress.  For instance, even in the short time that the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements have been around, more powerful men and influential industry luminaries than we ever saw in that series have lost their careers and reputations as their depraved behavior was exposed.  Our tolerance level for this bad behavior is at an all time low and continues to decrease.  As of October 2018, 201 powerful men had been brought down by the movement, and more than half their replacements were women.   And in the 2018 midterm elections, there were a record 36 new women voted into Congress.  This would have been unheard of in the mad world of the ’60s.  Secretaries and typists only? Ha.

We have come a long way, baby.  Indeed we have. 

So, if you feel like me about the sad current state of things, don’t let a couple of temporarily powerful, odious, divisive leaders (parading as human) come in the way of all that has been accomplished by the good. That doesn’t mean I’m ready to watch the nightly news yet.  But when all is said and done, good trumps evil over time.

Wait for it.

 

 

Picture Credits:

Angela Natividad [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D

RibaX [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D

 

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Shoot me now!

Surprise, surprise, this is (kind of) a politics related post!

If you are anything like me or if you think even a little like me (I hope you are, I hope you do – otherwise why bother reading my blog?), then I guarantee that you will want to shoot me when you read this post.  To make it easier on you, I give you permission to just shoot me now.

This is the most inconceivable thing that I could have ever imagined writing!  It’s not so hard to imagine that I would be writing about politics.  But the subject at hand and especially my opinion on this topic…that’s what is so unbelievable.

First, let’s rewind to the depressing pre-Obama era of the United States. [If you are a right wing nut, I’ve lost you now. But bear with me. It just might be worth your sticking around].

Anyway, back to pre-Obama. You do remember who was President, right? Not just for one, but two, extremely painful terms in office, after first stealing the election away from Al Gore. Yep, my opinion on that era or on who presided over this country has not changed one iota.

Last week, I was in an interesting position.

Attending a rather cozy (as opposed to huge) industry conference, I had the opportunity to attend the keynote presentation by none other than George W Bush.  The reason it was such an interesting position to be in was because it was so conflicting.

On the one hand, given my low opinion of President George W Bush, why would I take the time to attend?

Yet. This man was after all once the President of the most powerful nation in the world, a country that I live in, am a citizen of and love. So, should I simply pass up this opportunity to watch and listen to an ex-President, up close and (almost) personal just because of my low opinion of him? 

I made the smart choice. I attended the keynote in spite of my low opinions and expectations.

It ended up being not a keynote presentation behind a lectern but more of a “fireside chat” format (see the picture below from this conference) where a company executive sitting beside him asked President Bush some friendly questions. Even if he knew what some of the questions were, this was clearly off the cuff and unrehearsed on his part.

It was a warm crowd for him, given that the setting was among his home crowd of red-Texans. And he was obviously in his element. Yet, even knowing that all of these factors would enable a stellar performance from him, he still threw me for a loop. Which actually goes to show how low my opinion was.

George W on stage at BPOG

Let me describe what my opinion of W was after witnessing this ~75 minute conversation, live and in person. That’s when (if you’re anything like me, or think like me), you get all flabbergasted, irked and irritated at what I am about to say.

[Opportunity #2 – so, you can just shoot me now instead and get it over with]. 

To say that my opinion of the man “changed” is an understatement. During that 75 minute conversation / interview, here are words to describe my quick impressions of W, some of which likely come as much of a surprise (shock?) to you as they did to me –

  • Amusing, droll
  • Smart as a whip
  • Quick (as in, quick and spontaneous in his responses)
  • Humble
  • Intelligent
  • Self-deprecating
  • Caring, warm
  • Hilarious at times
  • Insightful
  • Content and happy with life
  • A family man who adores his dad
  • Extremely faith-based in how he thinks and lives
  • Humanitarian, philanthropic (focused on veterans)
  • Charming and witty
  • And did I say, smart?

I guess one thing you can say about me,  I do have an open mind. 🙂  

By the end of that interview, I was confounded. There was no question that my impression of the man had changed. Not completely, but still…it struck me how quick we are to judge people (especially those in politics).

Does my opinion that he was bad for us as President remain? Absolutely. But behind that opinion were several other opinions of the man himself that were either misinformed, biased, or both.

What now?  

I’m not planning to join his fan club or buy his paintings. [One could say he’s a talented portrait painter, where your art involves copying existing photographs in oils – we were shown a preview video of his paintings; he has painted most of the world leaders he knew and worked with. He is also the first person to say that his signature is more valuable than the paintings].

george w paintings

George W Bush at a gallery of his portraits of world leaders

So back to the question, what now? I guess, now, if someone said I was going to buy one of his books to read, I wouldn’t LOL out of hand. It’s quite possible I may, some day.*

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[Opportunity #3 – this is it. Your last chance. Shoot!].

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* I’m done with reading all 22  Jack Reacher novels in existence and don’t see any new ones on the horizon, so…

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