On Cheap Glasses and the Myth of Affordable

Glasses are expensive and if you have less than perfect vision, you need them. Whenever anyone talks about needing glasses in an online space, they are met by a chorus of “Oh go to this *insert online dealer*! I got mine there and they were just *insert seemingly nominal amount*!” The thing is though, that what seems nominal to one person may be a cost too high for another.

Story time. My glasses broke in half last summer. I went to put them on my face when I woke up and they fell into two pieces. I’ve been wearing glasses since I was three years old, my prescription is quite high. When I talked about my glasses breaking, immediately I was flooded with recommendations for various online sellers.

The thing is, because my prescription is so high, the glasses that were costing my friends $30 were more in the $75-100 range for me. Which is a big difference! In fact, what was a nominal cost for them became a choice between being sighted and paying a bill for that month for me.

And this is a reality for many people.

There is room in this discussion for the intersections between class and ableism to be examined. After all, it is only those with low prescriptions that can access the low-cost options with using these online dealers. It also ignores the fact that people need to be able to be seen for a prescription which, without insurance especially, can be a hefty cost. What I’m bringing this up for today is to discuss the ever-changing goal post of “affordability”.

Not everyone operates from the same financial level and we really need to stop speaking as though “cheap” is the same level for everyone. Not everyone can access the same opportunities due to their unique circumstances (like my high prescription vs my friend’s low one) and not everyone is working with the same amount of capital.

This isn’t to say that we should never suggest things to others looking for help and guidance, it is only to say that we need to be aware of the difference between people that will change their experience. Instead of “go here it’s so cheap!” try “I had a good experience with this company under these circumstances”. Be aware of the fact that a cost that may seem low to you may be a budget breaker to someone else. After all, even $30 may be a tough choice to a family that is stretched thin financially.

It’s good to try and help but don’t forget that you are not an authority on anyone’s life but your own and even though something may work really well for you it may not be so great for someone else. The idea of affordability across the board is a myth. The only thing that is affordable for everyone regardless of life needs is free. Anything above that and it cheap really depends on what you consider expensive and that’s different for everyone.

“Those Guys Hate Me”

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I enjoy hearing someone say “Fuck you” to Milo as much as the next person so I watched the recent clip from the Bill Mahler show with a certain amount of glee because, seriously, fuck that guy. And before you come all up in my comments, yes I still think the ACLU is correct in their stance. Just because I don’t want to hear what someone has to say doesn’t mean they don’t have the right to say it. That, however, is besides the point because Milo said something that I think everyone by and large missed.

When the discussion turned to his ties with far Nazi right which is different and separate from the “not Nazi” Alt-Right (it isn’t) he said that those guys hate him. And this gave me pause, not because it’s not true (it probably is) but because this is the SAME thing Richard Spencer said before he got sucker punched on camera a few weeks ago.

“Those guys hate me.”

This is an important thing that both of these people have said and we need to pay attention because this is how they’re sliding their views to the masses and gaining legitimacy and followers.

“Those guys hate me,” which translates handily into “I am not those guys.”

Those guys are clearly reprehensible. Everyone understands being a skin head, Nazi, white supremacist is a problem unless you are straight up those things. People like Milo and Spencer give would be racists a third option. A way to excuse them from being the racist villian. An alternative to the right. An alt-right if you will.

It’s a way for them to say, “Whoa, I’m not like those guys! Those guys are BAD GUYS! I’m this other thing that those people hate!”

The people who identify with these movements are doing so because they think the rebranding of their hatred and ignorance makes it into something else. That just because the original brand hates the new packaging somehow it makes the contents of it different.

It doesn’t. The enemy of your enemy is not your friend, as much as they would like you believe. They are exactly the same bullshit as the far right. They’re just more ok with gay people and have better taste in clothing.

“Those guys hate me.”

Yeah ok, that’s nice. You’re still awful.

Milo Sucks But He Still Has Rights

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The ACLU was having the best week ever after their efforts to help immigrants caught up in the President’s hasty and poorly thought out executive order were detained at airports across the country. People rushed to support them but this week isn’t so good as they’re tied to Milo Yiannopoulos and many of their new supporters are speaking of ending their support. Here’s the thing, don’t.

The ACLU is an organization with the goal of defending everyone’s civil liberties even those liberties that we disagree with or that they disagree with on a personal level. But their personal feelings don’t matter because they’re there to defend the Constitution and that’s exactly what we want and need in a free society.

Did the ACLU defend Nazis one time? They sure did when their civil rights were violated. But they were also the guys sitting on the floor in airports fighting against unjust orders that were keeping people from their homes. They are ALSO the guys taking on Facebook and the rest of social media for their bias against people of color.

The Blue Team is far from perfect but one of our biggest issues is our moral absolution. There are matters where this is the way to go because there are some issues that have no middle ground. This isn’t one of them. The ACLU is an organization that defends peoples’ Constitutional rights. It does not defend only the rights of people they agree with nor does it defend or support anything outside of those rights.

So, the ACLU isn’t defending Milo’s right to be an asshole and spew hate speech. What they are defending is his protected right not to be censured by the government for his bullshit beliefs. They are defending his legal right to say them.

They are defending his rights the same way they defended the rights of the people trapped by the travel EO. And the thing is, sometimes they’re going to side with things we disagree with but a lot of the time, they’re going support people who are being unfairly targeted and having their rights violated, and all of the time this will be based on the Constitution and what the law says.

We need that. Don’t play into the Red Team’s hand. They are COUNTING on us to jump ship the SAME exact way they counted on us to do so during the election with “crooked/warmonger/defended a rapist that one time Hillary”. This thing with Milo is a way to weaken the left’s resistance.

We know that the judicial branch is one of the best weapons we have. By pulling our support over this, we’ll be cutting off our own noses to spite our face. There’s going to be a lot of bullshit that’s coming down the line over the next few years and in order to keep groups like the ACLU primed and ready to put loafers and heels on the ground when we need them, we’re going to have to support them even if we don’t always agree with them.

So, if they need to show up for Milo to prove their unwavering support of the founding principles of this country, let them! As long of they keep showing up to protect our civil rights, rights to privacy, advocate for marginalized groups, and block every unconstitutional piece of nonsense that comes from this administration, then there’s no reason to stop supporting them.

Don’t Hit Share : Here’s what to do instead

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In less than two weeks, we’ve experienced rapid changes to our political landscapes and in the struggle to stay up on all the changes so we can understand the order of the new world, we have turned our newsfeeds into bastions of fear. The easiest way to combat this toll on our mental and emotional well-being is to stop hitting share on every news story but I don’t mean stop sharing the news.

Instead of just hitting “share” on a post, copy the link of the news article. It’s really easy from mobile. Next to the share button are three dots. Tap them and the second option in the drop down menu is “copy link”. Select that. Go back to your page, make a new post with your thoughts on the article and what the topic is. Hit post. Then, in the comments share the link itself.

By doing this, it removes the constant news reports that come with their “urgent” and “devastating” headlines so people can pace themselves without missing anything. The Facebook machine is going to push all those similar news reports to the top of your feed if you just push share because chances are, everyone is sharing the same article or handful of articles. By removing those headlines and photos from the direct feed, we’re still sharing but giving people some mental distance so they can stay engaged without becoming so quickly overwhelmed.

We need to continue to share and speak on what is happening in the world today. That is the only way we can prepare for things and make plans for the way the new regime may harm us. Social media is a powerful tool as it allows us to share news quickly, however, thanks to its algorithms, it is also giving us a window that is largely fear based and causing greater anxiety in its users.

That’s us. We’re the users.

We saw this after the election when we looked the feeds of people on the Red Team. What was found was that, aside from the “Fake News” problem (which was and likely still is a problem) were that these feeds were drowning in these fear based messages. The use of really salacious headlines and scary reports was designed to keep people engaged and clicking.

In the past less than two weeks, I’ve noticed my own timeline has become more and more anxiety filled as it’s flooded with news reports, all slated to get you to read them and I thought, “Is this what the Red Team has been dealing with all the time? No wonder they think liberals will be the death of the country!”

I don’t want the Blue Team to be that. I don’t want the Red Team to be that either but one problem at a time.

You may have seen the meme calling for people to “make Facebook fun again”. It’s a picture drawn in pen with different colored highlighters like it was done in middle school during a boring science class. Ignoring the art style, that meme is hot garbage and what I am suggesting is not that.

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I don’t think that people should ignore what is happening in the world in favor of puppy pictures. Puppy pictures are awesome but being up on current events is also REALLY, REALLY IMPORTANT. That meme (and resulting thought process) treats political movements as a sort of hobby that isn’t particularly enjoyable right now as opposed to events that could affect one’s life for years to come.

Feel free to push share directly on single creator blogs and networks, they NEED the clicks to get their content shown. Times, Reuters, CNN, HuffPo, WaPo, etc, do not need Facebook traffic from clicks so moving the content to a comment will not kill them. But it will give people a chance to engage with the news in a healthier way.

Social media is important in keeping us informed but we need to adjust how we interact with it so the negative consequences don’t outweigh the positive benefits.

Trump Doesn’t Have a Mental Disorder

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Stop writing pieces speculating on what mental illness Donald Trump may have. It’s abelist and it’s the same tactic we use to excuse white boys who shoot people. They didn’t mean it, they’re SICK. No. Donald Trump isn’t sick. He’s just a man who is used to having everyone kiss his ass.

Our president does not have a mental illness. We are not going to excuse his bad behavior because he has narcissistic personality disorder or he may be suffering from PTSD from the 9/11 attacks. His actions are not based on some emotional boogeyman. He is doing these things because he wants to and thinks they’re the right course of action.

It’s scary to accept that the leader of the free world is so visibly self-serving and is lacking quite a bit of knowledge surrounding the very important position he’s in but it’s the truth and we must accept it. Armchair psychology at the best of times is a pointless pursuit and we are not anywhere near those times.

Continuing to play this game that Trump has some yet undiagnosed disorder is at once a distraction and a tactic used to hold him less than accountable for his choices. It causes people who could act to hold back with the idea that “he’s reacting to his disorder, possibly.”

No, stop it. There’s nothing wrong with Trump. Discussions about what might be wrong with him are a distraction. Don’t get distracted.

Zootopia is about what Conservative White people fear

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Zootopia came out over the summer and blew everyone away with its metaphors for race relations in the United States. I just watched it last night with my children and I agree, it’s about race in the US. Specifically, it’s about what Conservative White people fear will happen if they were to become the minority in the country.

This is a children’s film and that’s important to note because one of the criticisms of this film is that the metaphors are messy. Even though I think most of the reading of this film’s meaning was off base, particularly that they assigned the predators as the people of color, and the prey as white people, and that is part of what leads to the less than perfect allegories, I also think that there are things that don’t work perfectly simply because this is a children’s movie and we have to arrive at a happy end.

So I acknowledge that it’s not perfect but it does read cleaner when you look at it as metaphor not for today but for a future time when White people are a minority and that they are portrayed as the predators in the film, not the prey. We also need to understand that there are multiple things going on with this storyline, some of which do not fit into the overreaching racial metaphor, some that speak to other issues in our culture, and some that are just children movie story building.

The story line is about a bunny, named Judy, who is the first rabbit to be allowed on the force. On her first day she finds out that 14 predator animals have gone missing. She ends up working the case and discovers that these animals have gone savage and are dangerous. Once this news gets out, the populace begins to distrust predator animals, even though only a small handful have done anything bad. Eventually, they uncover that the animals have been drugged due to a plot by prey animals to frame predator animals. Everything is resolved in the end, Shakira shows up and sings a song, roll credits.

The inclusion of Judy on the police force reads as affirmative action and is likely why so many people read prey as Black people. The lion mayor calls it the “mammal inclusion act” which is so blatant. However, this is the first instance of the race metaphor not working. If you look closely at the animals you will see that the force contains a lot of non-predator animals. They may not be prey, but elephants and rhinos aren’t known for their hunting skills either (although hippos are VICIOUS). What is actually going on here is that only big animals are allowed on the police force. Her species isn’t left out because she munches veggies, but because she’s small. This is sometimes read as sexism but it’s important to point out that Judy’s drill sergeant is ALSO a woman.

Her inclusion is actually read better as allegory for disability (far from perfect as she’s not actually disabled in any way) and the inclusion of differently-abled people into all walks of life as they can add their own unique abilities to the greater whole.

In any case, you can shed her relationship to the police force as a server for the race metaphor. What we can deal with, however, is her relationship with foxes.

Foxes eat rabbits. That’s what they do. If you watch this movie with the understanding that predators are White people then foxes, all foxes, are White people. Early on, Judy is attacked by a fox when she is a child. When she’s an adult she meets Nick, a fox, and they become best friends (there’s a lot of plot and not being BFF but that’s where things end up).

Judy experienced metaphorical racism at the hands of a fox as a child and although she tries not to let this color her view of ALL foxes, the fear is still there, that they will turn on her or that they are just waiting to reveal their true nature. It is a fear that is shared by her parents who warn her against them. This works really well as a metaphor for how Black and other people of color exist in White spaces. Many of us have experienced racism growing up and now look for signs to avoid it as adults.

What doesn’t work so well is Nick’s, the fox, counter story. In fact, this part illustrates the ways in which this being a children’s movie, gets in the way of the overreaching message. Nick’s counter story is basically “reverse racism” 101.

Nick tells a story about how he wanted to be a cub scout which in this reality is something that only prey animals do. When he shows up at the meeting, they laugh at him and put a muzzle on him. Because he’s a dangerous predator. So you know, he too knows what it’s like to be profiled and we should all just see people for who they are, everyone’s guilty and we can all do better. Only the whole thing pretty well glosses over the reality of what happened.

What happened to Nick was emotionally painful and likely would haunt him for his life (if he wasn’t a cartoon) but what happened to Judy was actually physically and emotionally scarring. The fox that attacked her as a child slashed up her face, he very easily could have killed her. What happened to Nick was sad but what happened to Judy was a step away from homicide.

When they found out what is causing the animals to go postal in the film, a certain type of blue flower (very Through a Scanner Darkly) it’s also revealed that although only predators have had the problem in the city, it can also happen to prey animals. This is, again, not a race/species thing, it’s just some bad luck. But it again ignores the fact that the one prey animal we’re told about who had eaten this plant only left a bite on their victim but the predators that have gone missing by and large can and will KILL the people they attack. Savage bunnies aren’t great and can certainly hurt other bunnies or small animals but savage tigers will kill bunnies, wildebeests, zebras, gazelles, and other tigers who get in the way.

This is noteworthy because it speaks to the conversation about police brutality vs Black on Black crime. People with more power and influence can do greater damage with their violence than those without. A criminal Black person has a much smaller reach than a violent cop. A gangbanger can influence a neighborhood, a cop that sees all Black people as violent can influence policy that keeps people of color oppressed.

Before it’s revealed that the animals are going savage as a plot by, of all heavy handed metaphors, a sheep, it causes the populace of Zootopia to fear and distrust the predator animals in their society, of which, are only 10% of the population.

This is where the metaphor of the future of all scared White people really takes hold. Even though the population of predatory animals is very small, the prey animals shy away from them, for fear that will revert back to a more violent version of themselves because it’s in ALL of their nature (all White people are racist).

Then we find out that they are being poisoned by sheep to bring out this violent side. This is an allegory for the Black Lives Matter and really any discussion of race by people of color. The predator animals weren’t violent until they were poisoned by the prey animals.

The sheep enacted this plot after years of mistreatment by the larger predatory animals in the city. It’s not a perfect metaphor, again, because this movie is for children and in children’s movies, your villain must be a bad guy. There isn’t time in an hour and a half to peel back the layers of motivation and see how the person with the gun got to where they are. But it’s easy to put together.

The sheep, being small and not able to access the upward mobility that the larger herbivores had access to due to their large size, organized and worked to overthrow the system that kept them at the lower levels. This is what Conservative White people think BLM is doing (it’s not, we just want cops to stop shooting people which doesn’t seem like it would need a whole movement but this is America and cops NOT killing people seems to be controversial) and this entire film is an allegory for what would happen if White people and Black people switched population sizes. At the root of that is if POC don’t say or do anything to draw attention to racism then we’ll see those distasteful parts of the Whiteness begin to disappear.

Ultimately, none of the overreaching issues are resolved in more than face value. The flower is identified, the sheep that started it all is locked up, we can all learn to get along, Shakira, Shakira. Still, it’s a good place to start.

Zootopia was not a perfect movie. It was a very fun children’s movie however it does rely on a good deal of racism 101, we’re all equal and can learn to love our differences which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, especially for young children. It does serve as a very subtle, albeit less than perfect, metaphor for the concerns of Conservative White America but it leaves a lot unexplored and sacrifices a stronger point to make a better children’s movie.

You’re Conditioned

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I was talking to a white guy about speaking on the protests and why they shouldn’t put focus on the looters they replied, “I can’t talk about an issue without addressing the full matter.” At that point I checked out of the conversation because even though this guy was a “good White person”, I was exhausted from trying to educate them. But after some rest, I want to address this idea of the “whole issue” because claiming not to be able to compartmentalize is bullshit. We all do it all the time, there’s no reason it can’t be done here EXCEPT for our social conditioning.

When you talk about dropping by McDonald’s you don’t also have to discuss how ranching has destroyed the rain forests before you order a large fry. When you buy a new shirt, you don’t also discuss how the fast clothing industry is creating more trash than we know what to do with or the slave labor practices that many companies employ before you hit order now.

All of us compartmentalize every single day with no issue but suddenly when it’s people of color we have to talk about EVERYTHING. Especially the things that are negative. This isn’t because the vandalism is greater than the protest itself or because a years old criminal record excuses the death of an unarmed man, it’s because those things help to demonize Blackness.

We are socially conditioned to find the wrongness in Black people to make their problems their fault. If they weren’t a criminal, they wouldn’t have been shot. If they protested peacefully they would get more attention, if, if, if. And all that does is excuse the institutional racism that created these situations in the very first place.

Your social conditioning and culture are why you “can’t” speak on the protests without speaking about looters. Your social conditioning and culture are why you look for a criminal record when an unarmed Black man has been shot but you look for a sports record or charity when a White dude gets caught sticking his dick somewhere it doesn’t belong. You’ve been taught to demonize Blackness and uphold the goodness of Whiteness.

Unlearn that.