The Electoral College Voted (Dec 19th), And…

Date: December 20th, 2016

…I’m disappointed, to say the least.

This is the loss on the night of November 8th, 2016, all over again.

The Electoral College behaved like any student at an actual college might: irresponsibly, immaturely, and dangerously.

But this ain’t over till it’s over.

We should end the Electoral College. (The New York Times agrees with me, and they can write about this in better depth than I can, so I suggest you read this: Time to End the Electoral College) This is ironic – my mother Diana is the creator of the “Prosecute Trump for illegal offenses before the Dec. 19 Electoral College Vote” petition. I know I’m not supposed to think my mom is cool, but I have to say, this is one of the coolest things she’s ever done. Her petition is different from the thousands of other variations that are out there, partly because it highlights one very important piece of information: the Electoral College was created to stop the rise of a demagogue. The Founding Fathers did doubt the collective intelligence of the people of the United States (that’s why we have a representative democracy); they must have somehow known that a demagogue would find it easy to manipulate most of the population, especially at a time when not many people could even read. A demagogue is defined as “a political leader who seeks support by appealing to popular desires and prejudices rather than by using rational argument.” This is all true. To be honest, I am currently just as big a fan of the petition as I was before December 19, but sadly, the Electoral College has not fulfilled their purpose.

However, I feel that ending the Electoral College without putting another thing in place would 1) alter the structure of the electoral system, and 2) leave no system to prevent the rise of a demagogue.

The GGPC: Instead of ending the Electoral College and then just leaving what happens next to chance, we replace it with the “Governmental Genocide Prevention Council.” This is my original idea and I am proud of it. It is a new idea, I don’t have it all fleshed out, but the gist is this:

– According to Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (the link goes to the full text of the Genocide Convention), genocide means “any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: (a) Killing members of the group; (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; (d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; (e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.” (Article II)

– Genocide is a signal of the downfall of a society and/or empire. It is true that a group can bounce back from a genocide over long periods of time, depending upon factors such as the amount of people in the group left over after, but the fact that a genocide has been allowed to take place means that there is something already wrong with the social system in place.

– Genocide is arguably the worst thing that could happen to a society and/or empire, excluding purely environmental destruction. Any measure that can be taken to prevent it should be taken to prevent it.

– A demagogue in power should be considered an immediate violation of the rules laid out in the Genocide Convention. According to Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, even the attempt to commit genocide, complicity in genocide, and conspiracy to commit genocide can be punished (Article III), and “persons committing genocide or any of the other acts enumerated in article III shall be punished, whether they are constitutionally responsible rulers, public officials or private individuals.” (Article IV) This means that in the event that President-elect/President Trump (or anyone like him) is constitutionally responsible, the GGPC could remove him from office on account of potential violations. (Trump is currently not accused of genocide.)

– The Governmental Genocide Prevention Council would replace the Electoral College, and act as a much needed upgrade. The GGPC would have a very similar purpose (to prevent the rise of a demagogue; to prevent genocide on the behalf of a country/nation via the careful selection of its leader), but the differences include: A) an absolutely equal number of people from each political party – eg. Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, etc, B) an equal, unbiased playing field in terms of gender/race/age, and C) at least three of each: diplomats focused on the overall wellbeing of the country/nation as well as the relations of the country/nation with other countries, humanists focused on the wellbeing of a previously or currently oppressed group as well as any group who is urgently and negatively affected by prejudice, environmentalists focused on maintaining a healthy and stable environment as well as removing dangers caused by environmental disasters/contamination, and finally, intellectuals focused on the overall effects of each Presidency as well as upholding the dignity and reputation of a country or nation.

So that’s the basic concept.

Remember, this is my original idea, and as I am sure I will keep updating this idea with new information and/or new additions to the idea itself, here is the link to the GGPC category on my blog: Governmental Genocide Prevention Council

I Am An Absolute Pacifist…Even During A Crisis

Date: December 16th, 2016

I am an absolute pacifist. (I love making playlists, so I made one for absolute pacifism: I Am An Absolute Pacifist on Spotify. Music is an excellent way to express the deepest of emotions.)

For anyone technical enough to want the exact definition of the word, the definition of “pacifist” is “someone opposed to violence as a means of settling disputes” according to vocabulary.com, and dictionary.com defines it as “a person who believes in pacifism or is opposed to war or to violence of any kind.”

I care about everyone. I am emotional. I find killing to be an unjustifiable, yet forgivable, act. I am just as “pragmatic” as anyone – I am an intellectual, and a philosopher, and that doesn’t mean I can’t be a fighter (to me, being an absolute pacifist means I will never kill anyone, but there’s still a multitude of painful things I can do to a person if necessary). I understand about “doing what needs to be done” – it is simply that I have found that there is never only one way to get it done.

The reason I write about all this now is because this past Wednesday, I had my last Model UN class of the semester. We talked about what’s been going on in Aleppo, Syria (obviously) and what happened in Rwanda a while ago (our Model UN class often goes historical, possibly so we have the benefit of discussing things in retrospect). We talked about political turmoil, and the causes and effects of it.

The teacher brought up an interesting hypothetical situation. She told us to imagine these events, in order: 1. Suddenly, a majority of U.S citizens cannot find jobs. 2. The economy goes downhill, and even those who have jobs leftover from before begin to lose money. 3. Welfare and other “poverty buffers” start to lose their power. 4. Food, shelter, and any form of stability become rare to all U.S citizens, except for the elite; just as rare.

The teacher then asked us to describe what would happen to society. (It was, and still is, my personal opinion, that nothing would happen to us per se, we would all just become libertarian farmers. Think of it this way: we all need food. So food needs to be farmed. Even if something was wrong with the food, it would be someone’s job to fix whatever’s wrong.) A consensus of opinion among the class was that “shit would hit the fan.” Utter chaos would ensue, and the U.S would become an abrasive, hostile environment (if it isn’t already). U.S citizens would “go back to nature” in the worst way possible – starving, desperate, and afraid, we would lose empathy for others and become not “humans” but “Homo sapiens sapiens” – the difference between the two, my friends, is that one is our name, and one is the name of a species of creature. (And just now I realize – crap, that is exactly what would happen!) A creature who not only kills for food, but kills those who have food to take it from them. A creature who succumbs to revenge until there is nothing left. A creature who sees their own world as the only world there is.

I spoke up. I said, as a sort of argument against the idea that every person would turn into this creature, “A few years ago, I made a promise. The promise was to never kill anyone, and to never let anyone die. It was a fail-safe mechanism. Even if I forgot why I made that promise, even if I ‘wasn’t myself,’ I would remember the promise itself. With that in mind, I doubt I would succumb to that kind of behavior.”

And almost everyone in that class proceeded to chime in with some variation of “You can’t do that.”

Mmmm.

Yes I can.

One girl was very polite about it. She was very careful to mention that “I don’t really know for sure what you would do because I’m not you,” but the basis of her argument was a non-verbal “Yes, I do know what you would do because you’re only human and you can’t escape that.” (Try me.)

The most common argument against my being a pacifist in times of crisis was that “a crisis is a crisis and you can’t think it away.” Growing up, I was always told to write like the person reading has no idea what you’re talking about, so – what they mean is that when you’re starving, desperate, and afraid, you lose the ability to think rationally. They’re saying I might be an intellectual now, viewing the situation from outside, but if I were experiencing it, I would behave differently from what I think, because what I think I would do has no bearing on what I would actually do.

That’s what the fail-safe promise is for.

I know that crises tend to push people to the brink. I know that prolonged crises can change people to a point where it’s hard to go back to their “standard” form. I know that I could be fine today but dangerously mentally ill tomorrow. And for crying out loud, I know that people tend to look out for themselves only when it comes down to it!

But you know what else I know?

I know that “morality” isn’t just some philosopher’s concept floatin’ up there in the ether. It is right here, right now. Empathy is your ability to recognize that yeah, other people’s lives suck too. You lose that; you become…scary. Let me give you all an example:

Zombie apocalypse. You and your group are wandering the streets, properly armed, yet in need of food. Your best friend’s little brother has a fever, and all the medicine has been contaminated, so he needs a little extra food if he’s going to make it through the coming winter. You come across another group, and you recognize the leader. This guy bullied you when you were in high school together. He’s still a bit of a dick, you can tell. And they’ve got all the food you need, plus a little more. You want their food and whatever supplies they have, but you know you can’t share, and you don’t want anyone trailing you looking to get back what you took from them. So after some consideration, you decide to kill almost all of them – or at least try and leave some of them for dead – but spare the little girl.

Sounds viable?

Okay, now read this excerpt, from the little girl’s POV, an hour after:

. . .

I shake Mommy’s shoulder. “Mommy, mommy, wake up!”

She doesn’t wake up. Her skin feels cold. I try again, and again, no results. I notice the dark red marks all over her chest, and remember what the man who left with all our things said: “Hey, kid…we only did it cause we had to. You’ll understand when you’re older.” Did what, did what, what did they do? Did they send Mommy, and Georgie, and Sam up where Grandpa went last year?

They did.

Mommy, Georgie, Sam, Wendy, Michael…no one responds when I call their name. Why let me stay here? My mother, my brother, everyone who took care of me, I needed them to help me, I needed them to give me hugs and tell me everything’s going to be okay, and now their skin is cold and they can’t say anything anymore.

What will I understand when I’m older? That everyone I loved is worth less than a few strangers?

. . .

This girl will take one item off each body left behind, a trinket or bandana or scrap of fabric, use her sewing needle and thread to put them all together – it is her hobby, after all – and then head off to the west with the memorabilia in tow. She won’t come across any humans for three more days, during which she will discover 1) she’s a good squirrel huntress, and 2) she’s afraid of the dark. She is 4 now. At 16, after all the zombies are gone and humanity is (relatively) safe again, she will give herself little scratches on her arms, hating herself for not remembering what her mother was like.

I’m not saying that “a few strangers” (the little girl’s name for your group) deserved to starve to death. I’m not saying that one little kid, the brother or the girl, was more important than the other. I’m saying…empathy, my friends, is here and now, it is no fairytale. The little brother and the little girl are both very human, and they both have their own unique perspectives.

It is time you realize that if you’ve got a little brother, someone is the little girl.

I am against the death penalty. Most often related specifically to the death penalty, another argument against absolute pacifism is that I “don’t know what really happened.” This is bullcrap. (I would say the s word, but children are watching.) Yes, I love to educate myself, I love to learn, and I do need to learn more, but not for that reason! I know what happened! Morgan Geyser (didn’t kill anyone but tried, very nearly succeeded), Austin Myers (technically did not kill, helped to kill), Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (yes, he killed, very directly) – all these people – I know what they did! I know what happened! I know, I know, I know, I know!

I will remember my promise. I will tattoo the promise on my frickin arm if I have to. I will never kill anyone, or let anyone die.

I will always be an absolute pacifist.

Thank You To Everyone Involved In #YouthvGov Climate Lawsuit

Date: December 6th, 2016

The hashtag is #YouthvGov.

“The youth had filed their constitutional climate lawsuit against the federal government in the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon in 2015. Also acting as a plaintiff is world-renowned climate scientist Dr. James E. Hansen, serving as guardian for future generations and his granddaughter. Their complaint asserts that, through the governments affirmative actions in causing climate change, it has violated the youngest generation’s constitutional rights to life, liberty, property, as well as failed to protect essential public trust resources.” – Landmark U.S Federal Climate Lawsuit, Our Children’s Trust.

21 young plantiffs, ages 8-20, sued the federal government for not doing enough about global warming. (Embedded below is their petition on MoveOn.org, and here is the link to their petition on Care2 Petitions – the website won’t let me embed it – http://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/797/652/222/)

My first reaction to this was a simple thought, “So people do care!”

And then I realized the magnitude of this and screamed for joy.

THANK YOU SO MUCH.

THIS IS HUGE. This is ACTION. This is a MANDATE. This is LOVE. This is CARE. This is MEANINGFUL.

When I say “Thank you,” I mean it from the very bottom of my heart. When I say “Thank you,” I don’t feel like I’m just being polite, saying two words that mean absolutely nothing. My “Thank you” means “Thank you for saving me.” It is arguable that I am not brave. I’m not an activist, I want to save the world as much as you do, but I sit at home and write. One of the biggest goals in my life is to own a bed-and-breakfast. I’ll always be a vocal writer, I’ll always want to save the world, but alongside all that saving-the-world, I will be a mixologist, and a baker, and quite possibly an architect or designer. Saving the world in the big ways, like you are, isn’t for everyone. Which is why I’m so grateful. You’ve done something that most of the human population considers uncomfortable/impossible. You, all 21 of you, might just be the last thing standing in between “us” and “the end of the world as we know it.” You have done something that, as of November 10th, 2016, cannot be dismissed or waved off. I am an agnostic, and I feel this is an appropriate time to thank God. Adjectives, human language, like “amazing” or “incredible” cannot begin to do this justice. But I know what I am feeling. I feel strained and sad and desperate and loud knowing there is so much more work to be done, but I feel safe and protected and hopeful and alive and thriving knowing some work, good work, has been done. I feel like all cultures are uniting to solve these problems, and in this community of Homo sapiens sapiens without borders or labels, I feel…good. And I know this is due to what has been done by the 21. So THANK YOU.

BTW: No, I was definitely not one of the 21 (although I would’ve liked to be), but since music is a beautiful way to express, I’ve tried capturing the ideology and passion in playlist form: https://open.spotify.com/user/lionesseye/playlist/4ow28PGK2L5CGvXKyWIAfl

ZMKF’s Guide To The Apocalypse

This is another “dateless” one. The first one I didn’t put a date on was “The Ultimate Clinton’s America Re/source” – which is also worth checking out.

First, some definitions. “Apocalypse” and “post-apocalypse” both refer to…well, the apocalypse, often due to environmental/political factors. “Dystopia” refers to the degradation of society, often due to political factors, which can include environmental factors. Although apocalyptic and dystopian fiction are most commonly just that,  fiction, the concepts themselves and reality are not mutually exclusive.

Grammarians must hate me – knowingly and willingly, I am grouping the definitions together under one word (the one word being “apocalypse” and all variations including the adjective form) to make things easier for me and everyone reading.

Let’s get down to brass tacks. I am very well aware that the upcoming Trump presidency will be ground-breaking, and not in a necessarily positive way. (I say “necessarily” because I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt – he could get a lobotomy.) This may be because I’m a writer, and therefore have no trouble thinking of “plots,” even for “nonfiction” (the real world) – but I can see, very clearly, an apocalyptic future for us, at least in North America.

But don’t fret! I took time out of my busy schedule to write this guide, so with my help, all of you can make the apocalypse an enjoyable experience for you and your family!

PRIME VIEWING SPOTS

A good view always makes for a good time. I’ve assembled the very best views here, in or near major cities like Los Angeles and New York.

1. Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook, Culver City, California

I got this picture from www.welikela.com - I have no idea where they got it.
Picture of Baldwin Hills. (I got this picture from www.welikela.com – I have no idea where they got it, and frankly, I don’t really care. I have no idea who the woman in this photo is, and though this may make me a cynic – that sky is filled with smog.)
Picture of just one part of the wonderful view from Baldwin Hills. (I got this picture from www.bhsoevents.wordpress.com, and I can only suggest that since they are clearly an events website, they should have an apocalypse viewing party as one of their events.)
Picture of just one part of the wonderful view from Baldwin Hills. (I got this picture from www.bhsoevents.wordpress.com, and I sincerely suggest that since they are clearly an events website, they should have an apocalypse viewing party as one of their events. I could organize it for them, if necessary. One tip for hosting the event: beer. Lots and lots of beer.)

Located in Culver City, Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook is easily accessible to residents of Los Angeles, Culver City, Santa Monica, and Venice.

After strong winds, the nearly 360 degree view is exceptionally clear, and during typical weather, it is still worth the drive/walk.

During the day, there is a lot to do with the view – you can point out where you live to all your friends, look at landmarks from a different perspective, count all the burning buildings, play “I Spy,” close your eyes and try to guess where in the city those sirens are coming from, and guess what species the nearest dead tree is.

During the night, the city lights brighten up the otherwise much darker view of Los Angeles – they’re beautiful, and let you reminisce about all those stars that the light pollution blocks out.

2. Mount Wilson, Los Angeles, California

Picture of one of the many views from Mount Wilson. (My own photo.)
Picture of one of the many views from Mount Wilson. (My own photo – ZMKF.)
Tree/sky combo at Mount Wilson. (My own photo.)
Tree/sky combo at Mount Wilson. (My own photo – ZMKF.)

Located within the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument and Angeles National Forest in Los Angeles County, California. It’s a bit of a drive from L.A compared to Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook, but it offers an even better view of Los Angeles in general, and a closer view of Downtown. “Bonuses” of going there include an observatory – you have to book tours to get inside – and a cafe with wonderful chili dogs.

3. East River State Park in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York

East River State Park. (I took this photo directly from another blog - www.ytravelblog.com - and I'm making sure to give credit because I don't want to get arrested.)
East River State Park. (I took this photo directly from another blog – www.ytravelblog.com – and I’m only making sure to give credit because I don’t want to get sued.)

You’ll get a lovely view of Manhattan as it turns into a crispy, empty shell of a metropolis.

Besides, you’ll be far, far away from Trump Tower, so you can scream, cry, and burn flags all you want without fear of being arrested and shot. Unless you’re black. Then you always have to fear that.

East River State Park consists of 11 waterfront acres, with multiple gathering areas for events, a well-manicured lawn, and a play area for children.

 

4. The “High Line,” Manhattan, New York

I wonder if these people knew they were being photographed. (Picture from www.thehighline.org)
I wonder if these people knew they were being photographed. (Picture from www.thehighline.org)

1.45 miles long, this unique park stretches through multiple parts of New York, including the Meatpacking District. And the Vegetablepacking District. (Kidding.)

This offers multiple views of New York from within the city.

Wheel-chair accessible.

Breezy.

They offer camp-style day trips for children. Some activities include an exploratory tour, and park design.

5. Rocky Butte Park, Portland, Oregon

This is the summit. (I got this picture from www.wedding-spot.com - wouldn't both parties get even more pissed off if one left the other at the altar, if only because now they have to go on a hike to get back down? Who likes hiking? Nobody!)
This is the summit. (I got this picture from www.wedding-spot.com – my only question is, wouldn’t both parties get even more pissed off if one left the other at the altar, if only because now they have to go on a hike to get back down? Who likes hiking? Nobody!)

Portland is a really cool place. It was named after the TV show Portlandia.

Juuuuuust kidding.

Apparently people get married here a lot.

If nothing else, you get to crash a wedding.

 

FUN GAMES FOR THE APOCALYPSE

Maybe you have people over. Maybe you’re stuck in traffic. Maybe you’re stuck in gridlock traffic, and there’s no getting out for a couple of days. Not to worry!

1. I Spy

This is a great, simple game to play, especially with younger children, who may need to distract themselves from the gunshots and yelling outside.

2. Count All The Dead Plants

This is a big hit. The victory goes to whoever has paid the most attention throughout the game and therefore counted the most dead plants.

3. Yellow Car

Since this is a lesser known game, I shall explain what the object of the game is – there is no object. Well, actually, the object is to feel smug. Very smug. Every time you see a yellow car, you say “yellow car” before anyone else – you feel smug because yellow cars are rare, and hard to notice. If you’re asking me, taxis don’t count because I heard of the game from John Finnemore’s lovely podcast, Cabin Pressure, and they don’t have yellow taxis in Britain.

GOOD FOOD FOR THE APOCALYPSE

Food that is easy to make, and affordable.

1. Cereal

This is a great food, especially if you find that you suddenly don’t have as much money as you used to, or maybe you need to get out of the house a lot faster than you used to.

2. Chili

Made of the bare essentials, can be served in almost any container.