Selective empathy: a deeper dive

As if often the case with me, my recent meditation on the concept of “selective empathy” in the context of the 2020 election led me down a merry rabbit hole to learn more about the concept of selective empathy in general.

Hi, I’m Sherri and I like long walks on the beach, obsessively learning new things and brain science…

Now, I am in no way pretending to be an expert after reading a few online articles, but what I have read so far has me grappling with things in a way that is valuable to me. Like I can almost feel my brain expanding past some prior limitations and blind spots.

It’s an uncomfortable feeling, but also one I absolutely love.*

So here’s the provocative statement I’m mulling over tonight:

What if, by focusing on “empathy,” I’ve been barking up the wrong tree all this time?

Continue reading “Selective empathy: a deeper dive”

Considering who counts

Mr. Mezzo and I have a monthly Datebox subscription. I gave it to him as a Christmas present last year, and we enjoyed it enough that we re-upped once the initial subscription term ended.

For the record, this was not one of those passive-aggressive “you aren’t bringing enough romance into my life” kinds of gifts. Between my workaholism and my mental health, I have been the less-romantic member of this partnership for a long damn time. Instead, the gift was offered in the spirit of “I know I’m often too busy or distracted or depressed for romance, but this is my commitment to you to regularly carve out time together“—and I’m pretty confident that was the spirit in which said gift was also received.

I’m sharing all of this because one of the activities in a recentish Datebox involved rolling dice to randomly get questions to answer so we could learn new and quirky things about each other. One of the questions was “If you could have one wish, what would it be?”

I don’t actually remember how I answered that question, but I do remember that we then organically and nerdily moved from there into the question “If you could choose one superpower, what would it be?”

A close-up of two Itty Bitty dolls: Batgirl and Wonder Woman.

That, I remember my answer for:

Universal Empathy Bomb

Continue reading “Considering who counts”

The way things are now

This post feels a bit like a cross between recent meditations on living in these COVID times and on calling things by their real names.

Or maybe, I should just call it: I may be a sad sack about my solo Solstice, but I am NOT going to be a selfish, solipsistic, self-destructive shithead.

(That kind of alliteration has to be kind of impressive, right?)

A 1970s era pattern made of titled S'es in orange, hot pink and purple.

Basically, this is me riffing further to expound on a comment from yesterday’s post. Someone’s initial response to my sadness from last night was to go see my family anyhow—cos life is short and nothing is guaranteed, anyways.

And I know that advice is coming from a place of individual compassion for me and my pain. But it is not counsel I can take in good conscience. ‘Cos I only have the tiniest bit of epidemiological understanding, but I know enough to know the importance of public health and to know how important it is to listen to public health and medical experts when you’re in the middle of a global pandemic.

Continue reading “The way things are now”

What if voter suppression impacts voting trends?

The second third one of my series of election post mortems. Still don’t know how long the series will be, but here’s more links:

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[CW: white supremacy, prison-industrial complex, sexual assault]

I’m still wondering my way through the demographic trends among Presidential voters this year. Tonight, it’s the seeming paradox that more black men voted for Cheeto POTUS this year than in 2016—and this is after 4 years of overt white supremacy from the Oval Office.

It’s the kind of data point that I certainly found unexpected, in my bubble of Caucasian naivete. Taking the time to get myself a little more educated, I’ve found out that fewer Black men have been voting for the Democrats in every presidential election since 2008. The downward stair-steps go like this:

  • Obama 1: 95%
  • Obama 2: 87%
  • H. Clinton: 82%
  • Biden: 80%
Looking down a long concrete and cobblestone staircase between two rows of houses.
Down, down, down we go.

And that got me curious.

Continue reading “What if voter suppression impacts voting trends?”

Let’s call a thing a thing

This is not the second election post I was planning to write: the post focusing on the “second lens of analysis” I had in mind on Sunday is still in process. However, more current events are demanding attention today.

As the post-election post family is built, I’ll put the cross-links here:

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A friend of mine texted me this morning with a brief question:

Can we call it a coup now?

Yes. Yes we can.

I mean the jury is still out about how successful this coup will be, or even how whole-heartedly Cheeto POTUS is really working towards this goal. Nevertheless, the appropriate language to describe the administration’s obstructionist behavior around the presidential transition is to call it—at bare minimum—an attempted coup.

Close-up of a protest sign reading "Error 404: Democracy not found."
Continue reading “Let’s call a thing a thing”

White women, do better

[CW: gender binary, racism]

Preface: I’m not sure how many posts I’ll make analyzing the 2020 elections through various lenses. I have at least 2 such lenses rattling around my brain, but it may unfold into a longer series. We’ll see. I’ll just keep cross-linking this little family of posts together as it takes shape. So: watch this space for more.

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Here’s my first, unfiltered, thought upon seeing the demographic breakdown of Presidential votes by race and gender:

Good grief. America does not deserve the goodness that Black women do.

A medium shot of approximately 30 people at a protest. In front and in focus are four Black woman in a variety of clothes, hairstyles and skin tones.
Leading the way. Again.
Continue reading “White women, do better”

Because Words Matter to Me

I have struggled at times with how to refer to my status during these COVID days.

Working from home? That’s true, but it doesn’t even remotely carry the weight of all the social distancing protocols we’re trying to adhere to for safety. Homebound? That has a bit more of the “stay in the fucking house” energy that we’re living with. But it’s not a true name, since I am heading out of the house every 7-8 days or so on some quick essential errand.* Sheltering-in-place? That’s close to accurate, since Gov. Baker is certainly encouraging folks to stay home, and since my “work-at-home” status is indeed driven by the fact that our offices are closed. But there’s isn’t an actual honest-to-Gaia shelter in place order for MA, so that phrasing still isn’t entirely true.

woman isolation

For the most part, I keep coming back to the term “lockdown” as the closest useful analogue I can find to describe my and my family’s status during this particular wave of the pandemic.**

But the one thing I won’t be calling it? Quarantine.

Continue reading “Because Words Matter to Me”

Earth Day 50 During COVID-19

(Should that “During” in the post title be capitalized or not? For once, I’m gonna let it go without looking up the right answer.)

So, it’s the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. And it’s an interesting moment for Earth Day to be happening.

I mean, you’ve seen the before and after pictures right? BC and AL*?

Screen Shot 2020-04-22 at 8.57.26 PM

The cessation of travel and commuting and non-essential manufacturing has caused a undeniable drop in air pollution during these COVID days.

And you may have seen the memes in response to this all:

Humanity is the real virus!

Or,

What kind of asshole are you to wish death and destruction for your species? Capitalism is the real virus!!**

I’m going to pointedly ignore the foolishness of rhetoric that is based on denying the actual objective reality of SARS-CoV-2‘s existence as an honest-to-goodness real-and-true virus. Instead, I’m sufficiently intrigued by the apparent environmental benefits of this pandemic that I wanted to do a little bit of noodling around that.

Continue reading “Earth Day 50 During COVID-19”

Closing a Loop

I’m in the mood to take a tiny break from COVID-specific diarizing. It’s like that line from Falsettos,

Let’s be scared together. Let’s pretend that nothing is awful.*

I’ll be back on topic tomorrow, but tonight I just feel like indulging the bookwormy part of my life.

bookworm 2 eyes

About 6 weeks ago—or was it a decade?—I said I’d dish up my new reading goals for 2020. And then I didn’t, because: heartbreak. Politics. Pandemic.

Absolutely understandable, but hey! Let’s take a little escapist side trip down reader’s lane tonight…

Continue reading “Closing a Loop”

The Banality of Evil

I stopped watching the White House pressers after I saw part of my first one by accident. The days have blurred together enough that I can’t even tell you which day I stumbled across. I do remember that I was hoping to get caught up on things from the actual noontime news whilst making lunch, but instead of the WCVB news crew, I was watching Trump & co. in the White House press room.

Dear reader, I lasted maybe 15 minutes until the self-aggrandizement and deception got to me.

I’ve eschewed the live pressers since then, opting instead to get caught up after-the-fact from written sources. At my most kindest moments, I’m with Rachel Maddow in seeing these press briefings as irresponsible and dangerous.

In my more cynical moments*, I see these pressers as propaganda-theatre. As exercises in immorality.

Continue reading “The Banality of Evil”