Healthcare is Confusing I: Medicaid 101

By far, one of my least favorite policy areas, one that I knew very little about until recently, one that I am only now really putting the time and effort in to understanding, is Healthcare. A little under a month ago I started my first post-graduation job and am now gainfully employed as the social worker/social care coordinator at a free clinic in Wilkes-Barre, PA. Thank you sweet, sweet universe for this job, I was getting a little nervous there for a while.

So, as it happens, when I graduated I was pretty positive that I didn’t want to be a medical social worker. I am overwhelmed by understanding my own chronic medical issues, I have some anxiety about hospitals, I hate, hate, hate blood (vasovagal syncoper here) and most bodily functions, and healthcare in general is fucking confusing and difficult to understand and navigate. BUT HOW THE UNIVERSE HAS A SUPREME SENSE OF HUMOR and here I am, the new social worker for a free clinic that only has like 5 people on payroll, but a reliable cohort of volunteer doctors, dentists, hygienists, nurses, and receptionists (but if you wanna volunteer, we need you). I actually love working at this clinic so far, even though it can be a little scary to think that we’re one of the only places that is available to working people who don’t have insurance. Luzerne County has a population of about 318,500 with an uninsured rate hovering around 14%... which means that about 44,600 people are uninsured in the county. That’s a lot of people who can’t get sick.

And within the short three and a half weeks that I’ve been employed, I have had meaningful experiences helping people see a dentist when their faces are writhed with pain from a toothache, the kind of pain that has kept them from sleeping over the past week, and I’ve gotten to help them get rid of some of the anxiety they’ve been plagued with not knowing how they would get help for their tooth without having health insurance.  I just started working with a woman from a religious sect that emphasizes the importance of motherhood, and she has been having fertility issues. I am determined to help her find a way for fertility treatments, even if she and her husband are at the 200% of federal poverty levels (PS: Here’s a spreadsheet of resources I’ve been putting together concerning fertility scholarships and information) So far, this seems like the job that I’m supposed to be at.

Anywho, I joined the mostly defunct Vox Weed’s Book Club, and the first book was “An American Sickness”. I read this May-June, and it really opened my eyes to the atrocities that have been able to take place under the guise of “better treatment”, when in all reality these treatments are overpriced and often unnecessary. Healthcare costs has become a burden to many, many people, including myself, so I figured now is the best time to really explore and learn as much as I can about the Healthcare Policy in the USofA. I meant to have this post out a few weeks ago when all the hubbub was happening in the Senate, but alas, life has been freaking busy lately. I figured though that it’d might be helpful if I did a little series on healthcare related stuff, since I’ve taken on the task of learning as much as I can about all things Healthcare. So hopefully this is helpful.

SO I thought I’d start with explaining Medicaid, what it is and what it does, and what the healthcare bills that were floating around would have done to these programs that legit keep people alive everyday.

doctor free use

“So Mr. and Mrs. Smith, we can’t help you because PA no longer covers pregnant women under Medicaid, but I can show you some helpful DIY blogs that can show you how to deliver your baby yourself”

  • All of the healthcare bills were an assault on Medicaid. Well, Chelsea, what exactly is Medicaid? Is it the same as Medicare? Or like, isn’t it kind of like Medicare? Or wait, isn’t Medicaid actually a part of Medicare?
    • Guys, no. And listen: I didn’t know any of this shit until very, very recently. This shit is complicated to learn about and its freaking boring. BUT THIS SHIT IS IMPORTANT. Okay soooo Medicaid is a FEDERAL program ADMINISTERED by STATES. So, what this means is that Medicaid gets money from the FEDERAL government (when we pay federal taxes, most of our money goes to building bombs, some of it goes to helping sick people by way of Medicaid). So how Medicaid’s financing structure is set up now is in a way that it can respond to need of the states (ie: say, one state coughPENNSYLVANIAcough has a growing elderly population- Medicaid responds to this need by allocating more money to cover the costs of taking care of the people who need nursing homes so we don’t have to worry about Nana dying alone on the street in the gutter).
  • OK- so who gets Medicaid? Back in the day, Medicaid was called Medical Assistance. I wish It was still known as MA because that would be way helpful for people learning the difference between Medicaid and Medicare, two terms that only differ by 2 letters. ANYWAYS. Medicaid differs by states in who they cover (this is what I mean when I say that it’s ADMINISTERED BY THE STATE), but it has to cover some percentage of low income people, pregnant women, people with disabilities, and the elderly in some capacity. This is a federal rule that all Medicaid programs have to subscribe to (what I mean when I say it’s a federal program). Ok. Moving on. You know when you hear about “states that expanded Medicaid under the ACA”? That actually translates to “States that widened the eligibility so more people could be covered”. So basically, how Medicaid is intended, is to help the most vulnerable of our society when they are in need of medical assistance. There is federal oversight, and states can decide on whether or not they want to expand who they cover.
  • What the healthcare bills proposed is that Medicaid could be covered under a block grant given to a state. A block grant is a set amount of money given to a state by the federal government and then the state uses it to administer a program. Congress would figure out how much money to give to each state. How they figure out this amount or what they will base it on is unclear. This is a problem in itself, because if there is a finite amount of money, then there is going to be difficulties deciding who will be eligible for coverage. Or, if the federal government says that states still have to cover the same people, the cost of their services will either need to have a lower reimbursement rate (fat chance), which will cause less doctors to take Medicaid, and cause a higher case load for those that are willing to take the lower reimbursement. Or, like I mentioned, States might just change who is eligible for health insurance (Medicaid) and figure out who’s life is more “valuable” (aka, cheaper to cover). For example, states will have to choose between situations like covering a 19 year old with cerebral palsy who is born to a single mother who makes $15,080 a year as a housekeeper at the local Hilton (that’s the current salary of someone who makes the federal minimum wage, working 40 hours a week, for 52 weeks, with no vacation, before taxes, and before other expenses) or the 87 year old woman with dementia, who needs 24 hour nursing care, who’s loved ones and family has all died off. These are the legit questions that we’re going to have to ask ourselves. It’s really fucked up, yo.

                Even though the bills seem currently dead (thank you, Senators Collins, Murkowski, and McCain for having a sliver of integrity and belief in bipartisan democracy) we know that nothing in the Trump administration is ever actually dead. Staying informed about the actual policies is what is the most important right now, and I hope that this helped demystify at least a little bit about Medicaid and the need to protect from block grants.

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Who and Where Are Our Leaders?

Who and where are our leaders? This is a question that I have spent a lot of time mulling over throughout the past year. My mind probably first wrestled with this when Bernie Sanders conceded his nomination for the Democratic Presidential Candidate at the DNC last summer. I’m sure the emotions I felt watching the speech were similar to other Sanders supporters- the feeling of defeat, the disappointment in the American electorate and democratic process, and the frustration that the Democratic Party got away with rigging the election in order to, once again, demand support and submission to their chosen golden calf. It was a rough night, I cried knowing that the hope I had in my heart for a real revolution wasn’t going to come by way of electoral politics.

I would say that Bernie is still probably the most revered US political leader today, however his followers aren’t nearly as energized as they were a year and a half ago. The same is true for HRC supporters. The only other person with a continuous strong following is Trump, and I think this is just because his base fails to ever take responsibility that Trump is ever in the wrong (ie: Trump said we’re going to Syria which is another broken campaign promise. Does his base really care? Probably not. Somehow, they’ll still be correct in their own minds). So this is pretty depressing if our most recognized leaders are Trump and Sanders.

So, why is this? Why does there seem to be less leaders in the era of Trump and Post-Truthism? Is  political fatigue really the reason behind the lackluster support? Are people too tired to care anymore? I have to believe that tiredness is only partially to blame- the real problem is the lack of enthusiastic, idealistic, moral leadership available.

I finally finished Judgement Days which is about the heavy weighted relationship between LBJ and MLK and chronicles their work on the Civil Rights Bill. The revolutionary movements that were sparked by the 60s wouldn’t have happened without these strong leaders and who knows what worse of a state we’d be in had they given up on their convictions. And you know what’s crazy? While I read JD I kind of felt jealous that there were actual leaders, leading groups of people and entire movements towards a real goal. Groups like the ACLU, SNCC, and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference all were lead by leaders with strong organizing skills and a passionate heart. Where are these types of leaders now?

LBJ and MLK Signing 1965 Voting Rights Act

LBJ and MLK Getting Work Done and Signing the 1965 Voting Rights Act

A great number of activist groups have popped up and grown since November 8th, which is really great and important. BUT, I have to wonder. Who are the leaders of these movements? BLM? DSA? Who are the leaders of the movements to get money out of politics (other than Bernie?) ? Who is leading the movements to end discrimination against LGBTQI where, even in places like Scranton, PA, it is legal for landlords and employers to discriminate against gay and trans people? Who is trying to create real gun reform? Or criminal justice reform? Who is trying to end the war on drugs? Where are these people, and if they exist, why aren’t they visible and vocal?

Maybe I’m out of touch. These people must exist, but what are they doing for their movements? And why aren’t they actively trying to form coalitions with these like-minded lib groups? It’s so frustrating. I’m happy to be part of a bunch of different activist groups, but I have to wonder, where are we headed? Sure, acting locally is going to allow us to do more work than shooting for national initiatives, but there needs to be an overall national goal, right? We need some kind of roadmap if we really want to transform this nation, but we’re not going to get anywhere if no one is at the front of the line leading the way. 

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Open Letter to Wilkes-Barre Township Police Department

wb township pd

Dear Captain Clark, Officer Godlewski, Patrolman Capparell, and the entire Wilkes-Barre Township Police Department,

I am very concerned about your lack of understanding of why posting a picture of a clothed man asking a topless woman, who is hiding her breasts with her hands, for a high five is in poor taste. I am worried about the character of the police force in Wilkes-Barre Township and am in disgust that by all accounts of the media’s reporting on this, that the Wilkes-Barre Township Police Department refuses to recognize why this type of behavior is unacceptable. I am shocked that you refuse to take in mind how sexually abused victims in your township feel and how their reluctance to report abuse is potentially heightened because of your inability to empathize.

It is not a matter of being “offended” by the meme. It’s a matter of missing the point of why posting the picture in the first place was wrong. It’s a matter of balking at people who disagree and instead of listening to why people are “offended”, offering up only other distasteful and dismissive responses to legitimate concerns. It’s a matter of not recognizing that there already exists a hierarchical relationship between victims and police officers, especially victims of abuse and police officers, that creates burdens to people seeking help.

Police officers are on the front lines in times of crisis and have the heavy and respected responsibility of helping those in vulnerable situations. Rape victims, sexual assault victims, child sexual abuse victims, these are all the types of people who need the services of police officers. Officer Godlewski mentioned in the Citizen Voice article that Facebook may be acting like a deterrent for criminals to commit crimes because they don’t want their faces plastered all over the internet. Well, the content you have been posting recently also acts as a deterrent for a different population, as now I, along with many other people I know and social service providers, do not feel comfortable around or referring abused clients to the Wilkes-Barre Township Police Force. I feel less safe around Wilkes-Barre Township Police Officers.

Your defense that you are not always going to please everyone and that the department’s utilization of social media is an opportunity to humanize the force is, in all actuality, extremely depressing and discouraging. The message you send online is that the Wilkes-Barre Police Department is a frathouse of sexist, chauvinistic, “good ole boys”. Your lack of willingness to listen to the people who saw the meme and expressed their concern is disturbing for the fact that you are police officers- you are the men and women who are supposed to help victims! Not help contribute to stigmatizing sexual assault and abuse victims!!!

I recognize that you have by far one of the most dangerous jobs in the world, and I am grateful for your service. Police officers are real life heroes. However, your police force recently has significantly change my opinion about the motivation of police officers and their understanding of victims’ issues. The worst part is, I have a feeling that you will read and ignore this letter or mock it, and won’t take responsibility for your actions. Your lack of apology and dismissiveness towards the situation speaks louder than any social media post.

 

Sincerely,

Chelsea T. Collins

Throop, PA

chelseataylorcollins@gmail.com

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i’m not trying to be sexy, i’m trying to not be sweaty.

This is inspired by a girlfriend of mine who commented on my “booty shorts” when I thought I was just wearing normal shorts…  Reflecting back now, it does help explain the dirty looks I received from the waitresses at the restaurant under her apartment when I was just innocently trying to pick up my take-out.

OKAY. CONFESSION TIME.  I love clothes. I’ve always loved dressing up and having my own style. When I was a little girl, my dad let me dress myself as soon as I could pick out an entire outfit, and I have pictures of myself in these carefully curated outfits- one that comes to mind is 7 year old me, wearing a pink and white dress, with one pink and one white shoe and matching alternating color socks.  I am still proud that I made all of my high school formal dresses (the best was Junior Semi when my dress was made out of a Twister mat) and wish I still had the duct tape skirt I made in 7th grade. I have always preferred thrift stores and the majority of my outfits are from where I like to call, Salvation Armani.  The tradition that signifies the beginning of spring and that I look forward to all winter long is rescuing my summer clothes from the dark, cold, lonely attic and welcoming them back into my wardrobe. Summer clothes are my favorite, and I’ll take floral flock over flannels any day.

Over the past few years, as I’ve been making the migration from the Junior’s section to Women’s, I’ve found myself in some predicaments over how to dress in the summertime. It is becoming harder and harder to find something to wear that you feel cute, comfortable, and conservative in (when I want to dress conservatively). I honestly think that new lines of shorts, dresses, and skirts get slightly shorter every year. There is little compromise between feeling comfortable wearing the same pair of shorts out in public and comfortable wearing them in 90 degree weather. Case in point: Right now, as I type this out, sitting in an air-conditioned coffee shop to gain a little reprieve from the 92-degree day outside, I keep catching myself subconsciously tugging at my cut-off, mom-approved, high-waisted Levi shorts, trying to pull them down a little bit closer to my knee cap. I’m not wearing these shorts to be sexy. I’m not wearing these shorts for people to look at me. I’m not wearing these shorts to show off the tattoos on my legs. I’m wearing these shorts because it is fucking 92 degrees. That’s it.

venn diagram of shorts

There are hardly any summer shorts/skirts/dresses that are both cute and will make you feel both socially and physically comfortable.

So, I guess one solution would be to buy up a few sizes so that the short will extend a whooping half inch further down my leg, but I don’t really want to do that. All I want is to wear clothes I feel good in and that fit so that I am physically comfortable. Unfortunately, I don’t see affordable women’s clothing lines helping create a trend of extending the length of shorts and skirts anytime soon. The other solution is to exclusively wear longer skirts and dresses to try and stay cooler on hot days. Listen, I’d rather wear a dress than shorts or pants in almost every situation, however a mid-length dress or skirt isn’t going to keep you as cool as shorts will. Plus, it’s way more comfortable to wear a pair of shorts than a dress when I want to go for a bike ride or walk at Nay Aug Park with my dog.

 

IMG_2046

The shorts I’m wearing right now still make me feel self-conscious that they are too short even though they’re ugly af.

 

The ultimate solution, the solution that would actually fix everything, would be to figure out a way for society to stop sexualizing women for trying to stay cool during the hot summer months. I wish there was a magic way to unsexualize all women’s summer fashion and teach people that the girl wearing the short lavender dress isn’t a slut or trying to show off her body,  but instead is just trying to wear something she feels good about- both temperature-wise and self-esteem wise. And we gotta educate other people, especially our boys and men, about this. Because it’s easy to think that a girl is dressing a certain way for one reason, when the reality is totally different.

And ladies, it’s okay to wear short-short booty shorts on purpose. It’s okay to wear a short dress because it makes you feel sexy. I just wish our culture could shift the immediate assumption that a woman is wearing shorts on purpose to show off her body, and instead replace that thought with recognizing that she’s probably just trying to beat the heat because its 92 degrees out. I mean, at least for me, it’s not that I’m trying to be sexy, I’m just trying to not be so fucking sweaty.

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Social Media Isn’t Real (And That’s Okay).

Two quick reminders: Social media isn’t real and I write this blog from a female feminist perspective. My views may be completely off the wall compared with yours (isn’t that cool?!), and whatever the next few paragraphs say, they are no means an attack on anyone I personally know- I feel we can all relate to this shit, na’mean?

i like you more than the instagram you

This is probably true, unless ur a garbage person in real life but super sweet online.

So recently, a few people have commented on pictures of me and my finance on social media, saying things along the line of “perfect couple” or whatever. And I’m not gonna lie, that attention is kind of a nice feeling, but nonetheless I’ve been really, really taken back by these statements. Because a picture alone cannot tell you much about our relationship. I’m not saying that my relationship with my partner is bad or anything like that, but it’s definitely not “perfect”, and I don’t want people thinking that about us, because, well, it’s not true! Also, just real quick: no one’s relationship is perfect.

I know a lot of people have been feeling less-than lately because of internet culture, and I just want to reiterate that social media is not real, and perceive people’s “realness” based on their social media persona can be super toxic, yo. What we see online of people is just part of their cultivated digital personality. Ok, wait a minute. Let me back up real quick. What we see online is of real shit, but the meaning we infer from it is not real. I like social media. I get to see pictures of my friends kids, of my family that lives far away, and just funny shit that my friends post. However, thinking that these pictures are actually a true, complete representation of these people’s lives is way misleading.

Yo, you wanna know the real kicker is? It’s that our feeling of less-than in comparison to someone else’s social media life actually has everything to do with our own perceived inadequacy. Feeling envious of anything or anyone is totally based in how we feel about ourselves, right? We can’t be envious unless we are comparing ourselves to someone else, and if we feel shitty about ourselves in the first place, than jealousy is gonna come around a lot quicker. It sucks that social media makes people think that their lives have to be a certain way because their “friends” lives look that way. Also, this is a pretty big realization that I had to learn the hard way, through years of being jealous (including being jealous of people online). I totally was in the camp of “I suck at life because my house is always messy, I don’t know how to be super crafty/good at makeup/athletic/rich/someone who travels a lot/insert whatever here, plus I have split ends and acne on my face”. It wasn’t until I learned that it is freaking impossible to compare my true, authentic personality to anyone else’s, that I started to feel better about my less than perfect life. We are all unique, and that’s a freaking wonderful, crazy, amazing thing! If my house was spotless, and super beautifully decorated from shit I made, and if I went surfing every weekend after having a brunch of grass-fed grass, well… I probably wouldn’t be super thrilled because that’s not being authentic to myself! It honestly took me basically my whole life to understand this- that there is no reason to compare myself to anyone else because it’s comparing apples and anti-freeze. We’re all different and that’s dope.

Ok, ok ok, I’m being a little overzealous. I totally still get jealous sometimes. I look at people’s Instagram posts and that thought will come in my head- the “I’m not worthy” thought. The thing is now I have a following thought that is, “oh shit, social media can’t communicate what the real truth is behind this picture, and this person strategically picked this photo to post”. ALSO, I don’t know what your motive was for posting that photo, just like you don’t know what my motive was for posting another picture of my dog (it’s because my dog is the fucking cutest and I want the world to know).

And also- it’s totally okay to post whatever the fuck you want. Who gives a shit. And if you post something like a selfie because you are feeling shitty, and want some superficial attention- dude, that’s okay. Or maybe you’re really feeling yourself and that’s why you post a selfie. Dude, do you. Sometimes, when I’m down, I’ll take a selfie and filter the fuck out of it because it makes me feel better. But here’s the deal- it’s still not real, and once we all start realizing that about social media, I bet you $5 that a lot of people will start to feel better about their lives. I think social media can be a really great thing. We just have to keep in mind that it’s not real before actual, real emotions develop in response.

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“Don’t Mind Him, He’s A Republican” shouldn’t be a thing

 

Guys. We gotta end attaching the connotations that someone is bad or stupid based on their political party. It’s gotta end now before it adds to any more reasons to develop unwarranted hate towards others. Stereotypes already exist and we need to question our biases NOW. Here’s a quick example: One of my big projects for my policy class was on the proposed borderwall. Not surprisingly my group took a liberal approach to the problem.  One part of the project was a critique from the class. One of my classmates said that maybe we should’ve looked more at the argument that the borderwall would save Americans money somehow (even though our project clarified this myth). Anyways, he had to critique us, and it wasn’t anything malicious or mean, he was just doing his work as a student. After the class, he and one of his friends and I were talking about my group’s presentation and his friend says, “Don’t mind his remark, he’s a Republican”. I was really confused by this and said I don’t care what anyone’s political party is and laughed it off.

Since then, my eyes have been really open to how our culture is using political parties as a way to insult others. And this is a problem for a few reasons.

First, we really only have two political parties (please let me know if you want to come over the Green side…), so grouping people into two narrow ideologies is stupid. People are way more complex than just Blue or Red.

pinkerton

if i’m being honest, it’s pinkerton all the way.

Second, trying to insult someone based on their political party isn’t going to get anything done. I realize that this is way simplifying it, but just because someone likes Pinkerton better than the Blue Album doesn’t mean that either person is better than the other. When we value ourselves based on the hierarchy of perceived “rightness” or “correctness” we devalue others who are no better than us. People who voted for Trump are not inherently evil. I know this can be hard to subscribe to when the liberal echo chambers of social media and sensationalized news often infers the opposite. But this is where I think it’s important to realize- this is someone else’s opinion, and even though I agree with them on a lot of things, I don’t have to hate, or think less than, the people who don’t agree with them.

Third, reducing people to political parties constricts growth. We need to be eager to have friends from all different ideologies in order to learn! So here’s what’s up. I like the Green Party because it is the party that most closely aligns with my personal values. I realize that a lot of people don’t pick political parties based on this- they are often just born into their political party and don’t question it. However, having open-hearted conversations with people about their own beliefs can be really enlightening for both parties (as long as both parties are willing to listen to the other’s side). Most the time when I talk to my friends who are democrats or republicans, I learn something from their point of view. And more often than not, my own personal beliefs and arguments are strengthened by listening to their side.

So yeah. Short and sweet. We gotta stop using “She probably voted for Trump” as a derogatory term. And guys, I am TOTALLY AWARE THAT I HAVE DONE THIS IN THE PAST AS WELL! But I’ve decided to recognize that this bias is stupid and now am conscious to challenge it whenever it might rear its ugly head. We are in a strange time. We have to work together instead of cutting each other part.

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A Quick Explanation of “Cuck”

First off- googling “‘cuck’ sucks” is nsfw. i learned that the hard way.

cuck robot

it’s just a fucking dumb word for dumb people

Okay. So the word “cuck” (short for “cuckservative”) has been floating around the internet for the past year. Or, at least, I only started noticing it in the past year and it was pretty much reserved to the subreddits of /r/pol and /r/thedonald until a few months ago. Recently, I’ve been seeing “cuck” used as an insult, or to insinuate an insult, on more mainstream internet platforms like Facebook and I’ve also heard it used IRL, pronounced in a bunch of different ways.

I’ve been interested in the etymology of the word “cuck” for a while now, especially because of the alt-right implications, and finally devoted a few hours of a stormy Sunday afternoon to dig in. And boy, oh boy, what a mess I found.

So, I’ve always associated “cuck” with the alt-right. Now listen, my knowledge of the alt right is limited to grabya-headlines about Richard Spencer getting punched in the face and from Chapo Trap House’s explanation of  things like Alpha-males and their riveting reading series of people like Mike Cernovich. If I had to describe the alt-right, I’d say they are a loosely organized far-right group, majorly male, and who aim for a society that furthers oppressive patriarchy for capitalistic gains that is ultimately rooted in hate/fear. Their values revolve around preserving the white man’s race, so hello racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, and all the other different ways to categorize hating one group of people that are not white.

Okay, wait, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s get back to “cuck”. The word itself sounds like a bad word. It starts off with that hard c sound (see: the same sound in the beginning of “cunt”), and ends in the hard “ck” (see: the same sound at the end of “cock”). The mere pronunciation sounds like words that we already deem as offensive. What my mind first went to when I read “cuck” for the first times online was the sound a chicken would make- cuck cuck cuck! You know, like cucking. Turns out, I was kind of right. “Cuck” is a derivative from “cuckoo bird”… and “cuck” is a shortened form of “cuckold”… and a “cuckold”, by the definition of dictionary.com, is a husband to an unfaithful wife…Okay, wait, what? Okay, okay, okay, let’s recap- The cuckoo bird, which is a bird depicted as “crazy” in many different folklores from around the world, is the root term for “cuckold”, who is the husband of a wife that has sex with other men, which is the root for “cuck”, which is the insult that this whole blog post is about.

So apparently, cuckold is also a porn genre… I’m not well versed in porn genres, but cuckold porn seems to take different forms, all involving a man’s wife having sex. Apparently, a lot of cuckold porn includes the unfaithful white wife sleeping with a black man, which relates back to the inherent racism that exists in the alt-right. Some men in online communities have even professed that they are proud cuckolds- they enjoy watching their wife have sex with another person. So, this is where I am confused- this isn’t really that crazy of a fetish, right? It’s not really all that taboo at all. So here I think is where the alt-right tried to morph this term into an insult. When the alt-right uses “cuck” or “cuckservative” they are calling out men who don’t subscribe to their creed as weak. “These cucks can’t even take charge of their life enough to keep their wives from cheating!” The alt-right are simply appealing to men’s vulnerability about masculinity . “Cuck” is aimed specifically to offend men- to question their masculinity… because a cheating wife is emasculating (in the alt-right’s opinion). I hope that the men I know have a strong enough sense of self and understanding of human relationships that they wouldn’t feel less masculine because their wife was unfaithful. It also is in the favor of the alt-right that “cuck” has a harsh pronunciation and sounds like an offensive word.

For cuckold to exist, a power hierarchy in genders must exist- The implication of the alt-right’s definition of cuck is based on the idea that men should be stronger than women, that they should keep their women in line, and that they should be manly enough to control their life. They try to make the association between cuck and lack of autonomy, and this bias is completely sexist. The idea that a husbands wife is cheating on him with a black man, well that is just unacceptable, the worst-of-the-worst, in the alt-right’s eye! Ugh, what a bunch of sexist and racist fearful little boys.

The evolution of this word is interesting because of its rapid spread throughout online political culture and it’s ambiguous pejorative use.  Any man who is not an alt-right pledgee, is by default a cuck (and therefore a beta, but that’s a whole different blog post).  If the alt-right was actively trying to recruit members, then they would need to rethink their messaging- “cuck” doesn’t pacify men any more than the word “bitch” or “pussy” does. But, I don’t think the alt-right is actively trying to recruit members. Sure, they allow for prospective members to come to them, but they aren’t necessarily marketing themselves in the mainstream. So that’s actually really comforting, because the alt-right doesn’t have nearly as much power as the internet will lead you to believe. They are simply a group of men, who sit behind computer screens, and believe that they are genetically better than non-white men, and that their genetic traits need to be preserved.

I feel like “cuckservative” or “cuck” is just a really dumb and lazy insult. I mean, “cuck” in itself has no real meaning. At least “pussy” has a meaning.  As far as “pussy”‘s etymology, I wonder what came first- the vagina or the insult? Who knows.  I guess where insults come from doesn’t really matter, but my money’s on vagina (my theory is “pussycat” being used as a sexual innuendo dating back to like the Elvis days).

Alright. So what would I want someone to get from this blog post? That the word “cuck” is stupid, and it shouldn’t be given any greater power than the measly muscles it already has. “Cuck” exists in the alt-right universe, and we don’t need to acknowledge that realm of the digital milieu if we don’t want to. Using the word “cuck” just associates you with the alt-right losers and honestly has no real meaning other than the meaning that we give to it.

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anxiety, insecurities, and sunshine

Thank you, sweet universe, for giving us hope in the form of such a beautifully sweet spring day! Ahhhh, I’m so grateful that it’s nice out and jeez louise, how powerful a change in weather can be to our psyche.

flowers are a'bloomin', there's hope, y'all!

flowering bush is a’ bloomin! there’s hope, y’all!

That past few weeks have been really hard. I feel like I’ve been tirelessly running the final stretch, for like a whileeee now, and I thought that the finish line might have evaporated…but, …hey! today the sun shined! What a good, glorious thing! I don’t want to get too personal, but I’ve been really stressed lately (hello final semester of grad school! hello not knowing what the future will bring!), and I allowed myself to get tired. I stopped trying to proactively find good things in my life. Everything bad and cold and stressful seemed to be snowballing in my life, but maybe, if it gets warmer, these things will melt away; that life can be good. I know this much: the future will not be better, if I am not better. If I am better, the future will be better. Better said then done, am aright,? 😉

When I worry about things, I sometimes let these worries (see: self-hatred, negative thoughts) get the best of me. I get anxious and I bring that anxiety-fear with me and it can make me really uncomfortable, especially in social situations, (sometimes I’ll apt to duck out of social things because of this anxiety, whatcha know ’bout dat?). But you know what helps me to feel better, what helps me to experience life in a more loving way? When I don’t worry about things in the first place. I’m not saying to suddenly stop worrying about your life, but I urge you to try to worry less about things. It’s hard to be totally fearless, but life is way better when you at least try to inch away from the fear-end on the life continuum. And I know, I know, who am I to say “worry less, your life will be better!”. I don’t know your struggles, I don’t know how heavy your heart is. My experience in life is different than your’s, so there’s no way that we’ll ever be able to comprehend exactly what it is like to be in someone else’s shoes. I’ll never be able to see out of your eyes, to know what it feels like to hug your mom, to experience your life. Our own experience of life is totally subjective. So, I don’t know. But I promise, just try to not be so mean to yourself about the things you don’t like about yourself and you’ll feel better, a little better, at least.  I mean, it doesn’t hurt to try.

So where does anxiety come from? I think it comes from our insecurities… and insecurities are ugh, so painful, right? It sucks to think about them, they make us feel sad, especially when we dwell and ruminate on them.  So how can we shed the things we don’t like about ourselves? How can we rid ourselves from the things that we can’t think positively about in ourselves? First, we need to recognize their existence. I know what mine are and where they have come from (hello, being called ugly in freaking elementary school; hello, not getting into my first choice college), but figuring this out for yourself might take a little bit of time. (And if you have trauma in your life or childhood, you should process your feelings with a counselor or therapist or even a trusting friend, if that’s at all a possibility. Just ‘cause trauma can really fuck up cognitive development and processing. Dealing with deep deep sludge takes time to really deal with- to really accept. It’s not easy, no matter how far removed you may be from your past.)

So once you recognize what your insecurities are, you can start to change your perception. Once you get rid of those insecurities, you start to let go of your ego. Ego is hard to define. I don’t mean ego as in confidence or over-confidence, I mean it more as like the onion layer analogy. I like to think about ego as a shell made of fear which surrounds us, and the more you grow in this shell, the harder it is to believe that it can be shed. It can become like a second skin, and won’t let any good things in or negative feelings and anxieties out, unless we consciously work to chip away at it.

Dude, none of this is easy. It’s really hard. I’m just figuring out this shit. And I’m so used to not dealing with feelings and letting my ego overpower me. I’ve spent so much of my life constantly worried about what other people think about me, but once I started to understand that life is life, and my insecurities aren’t making my time on this earth any more enjoyable, I was able to become a little more fearless and a little more loving. I still think about what other people think about me, but not nearly as much as I have for almost my entire life. And that’s progress, and that’s good. So I urge you to try and be a little tiny bit more loving toward yourself today so you can break off a little bit of that ego shell and let some sunshine in.

 

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geopolitics is hard

globe puzzle

Geopolitics is a symbiotic jigsaw. When one piece seems to fit in place, another pops out. And this puzzle isn’t going to be put together anytime soon. Fuck, we don’t even know what the finished puzzle is supposed to look like. I believe that we’re entering a new era that is changing what that picture will look like and the pieced may have to be rearranged. Whether this era is postcolonialism, I’m not sure, but if we use the past 6 years as a proxy for what will come, I think it’s fair to say that authoritarian powers aren’t going anywhere.

What is happening in Syria is really fucked up. And how Syria got to the state it’s at isn’t a simple path to understand. I’ve been trying to learn as much as I can about Syria, and the Middle East, and man, when you’re used to learning about your nation that is only 238 years old, it takes some catching up to learn about the history of a region that covers over 3000 years. And here’s the deal- I don’t know what to think of anything. All I can tell is that neoliberalism is strengthening its hold, and just as what was predicted far before Trump even came into the picture, wars aren’t going to end when there is money to be made.

I’m not sure what can be done. I’m nervous after watching how buddy-buddy Trump was with people like el-Sisi and then learning about how seemingly rash the decision to bomb Syria was. My only hope is that America is too big for an authoritarian ruler- that the democratic system in place will safeguard us from what we witnessed in post-Arab Spring countries and that there are too many of us, including elected officials, and too little of them, ultimately the deep statists. However, if we look at the past, empires that were relatively as big as America have fallen, and that’s pretty depressing to think about.

I don’t know what to do. I know it is probably stupid, but for myself, I have to pray (meditate) for some real macro conscious raising- and that’s at a cognitive and spiritual level. We need to help other people understand why we go to war, how war profiteering works, what the dangers are that can lead the US to an authoritarian regime, and how to tune inward in order to produce more loving kindness in the world. I know, it’s hippie shit, but if I don’t believe that there can be good, then what is the point?

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The Beautiful Gift of Being Wrong

Holy fuck, 2017 is a lot crazier than ever expected. Our American government has become a futurist fuckery  that has a lot of people deep breathing in paper bags as we gather speed racing towards this universal feeling of annihilation anxiety. Life is way crazy right now and I think a lot of people I know out there are getting a bit worn out fighting the good fight, trying to stay woke and helping others to wake up. I know I am. It’s hard to stay motivated to keep learning, to keep helping, to keep loving, when reality is out of whack and it seems like society has given up on hope and change. WHAT A TIME TO BE ALIVE, AM I RIGHT OR WHAT?

For real though, what a time to be alive. Our grandchildren will most likely question us about what it was like living through “The Great Global Unrest” or whatever colloquial name history deems our current experience. We are living at a point in time where technology is advancing at an exponential rate and where the means of digital information has given us a tool to connect and learn and experience life in a whole different way than ever even imagined, but also a tool that often acts as the gateway to mass confusion, panic, and negativity.

So, what can we do about all the garbage out there, floating and polluting the digital airwaves? How do we deal with people who seem to get off to making life worse for others? How do we interact with those who challenge our perspective?

yeah right, if i give him my hard earned cash he'll spend it on dope, so naw, fuck him.

Jeez, get a look at this guy. Like I’m gonna give my hard earned cash when he’ll just buy dope. Naw, I’ve been conditioned to believe this, so, fuck you dude. 

First, I think we have to keep in mind that people are reactionary by nature, and people are often irrational. Why do we automatically scoff off the homeless man asking for spare change? “How dare he ask for the dollars in my wallet that I worked 50 hours a week for, when he’ll just buy booze and drugs? I have my own to take care of! He isn’t worthy of my charity!” This is an example of a reactionary response, and I believe we’ve been pretty conditioned to think this way (not specifically about the homeless man example, but in general). God forgive we see this homeless man as an individual man, and not as a representative of how we have grown to think about homeless people. Conditioned societal experience often blocks us from questioning situations or thoughts which will hold us back from developing greater understandings of everything in our life and to default on our reactionary way of thinking.

I believe that we must constantly question ourselves and our own views on life in a Socratic way. We gotta check ourselves, and make sure that some of that smelly trash water negativity hasn’t oozed into our way of thinking and is blocking us from seeing the reality of life. We can’t rest on our laurels and believe that all we know is right. WE MUST BE OKAY WITH BEING WRONG.

One of the biggest arguments I’ve ever had in my life was about whether or not the melting of polar icecaps raises water levels. It ended up turning into a screaming match and is one of my memories that I look back at with real, deep shame and embarrassment. A lot of other repressed emotions came out in that argument, and the whole ordeal was an example of great humanistic irrationality. However, at the end I conceded that I was wrong, or at least had the potential to be wrong, and the argument ended. Admitting I was wrong wasn’t embarrassing, in fact, it was liberating! By admitting I was wrong, or that there may be a flaw in my understanding, I killed the discomfort that the argument made me feel. Holy Smokes! What an important lesson from a seemingly minor event! So, when we’re out there, fighting the good fight, getting really worked up about something we believe in, maybe it’s important to step back and ask, “is there potential for a flaw in my thinking here?” and “am I discussing my point in the most loving and kind way possible?”. I think these are really questions to practice asking yourself. Not only will it help you gain a little peace and objectivity, but will also help you strengthen your own understanding about the issue at hand and possibly experience a little deeper connection with your core values of life.

polar ice cap

i still have no clue what happens when the polar ice caps melt

When you realize that you are wrong about something, or that your understanding of an issue needs to change to be congruent with your overall understanding of life, it is not a defeat, but a ginormous win for all of the universe! The prize is a deeper understanding of the issue! Admitting you are wrong or some negative aspect of yourself needs to change is the pickaxe that chips away of that protective ego that makes us assholes in the first place. Relish in being wrong and in the celebrate the act of continuous learning! I really truly believe that the only way we are going to get through the next four years is with a gracious heart and examination of self, which will take a lot of concentration and commitment, but is far from an impossibility.

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