Frito Bandito, activism and alienation

Seeing this reminded me ..

Yes, I had one of these; if I remember correctly, you could sent out for it.

This character was popular some time ago:

Clearly, tongue-in-cheek, right?

Well, activists complained and Frito-Lay did away with the Bandito.

Background: I am Mexican-American from both parents; I refer to myself as Latino. My mom learned to speak English in her teens; she grew up speaking Spanish. This is relevant.

When it came out that complaints from activists pressured Frito Lay into dropping the FB, my mom said something to the effect: “Idiots. Don’t they have better things to do? I thought the Bandito was funny!”

And so it goes: though you might think my mom was unique, she really wasn’t. There appears to be a gap between what the “activist” class thinks and what the rest of us think. Consider the issue of the word “Latinx”. Most Latinos haven’t heard of it, and most who have do not like it.

So, when people point out that there is a gap between what the loud, often academic “activists” think and what the rest of us think, the activists seem to think that the rest of us are “colonialized” or ignorant, or unaware, etc. Yes, activists, I’ve heard your arguments and I rejected many of them.

But that is not the main point of this post.

The main point of this post is that Democratic politicians who want Latino support but are unfamiliar with us tend to, you guessed it, turn to “activists” to learn and get advice.

At least as far as the “Latinx” issue, the tide appears to be turning.

But the larger point remains: if you want to court our vote, don’t go by what some woke recent college graduate activist has to say; try to connect with the larger community.

The “national divorce”: why I don’t want it

I remember the dark days of the George W. Bush presidency. Many liberals thought about “succession”; I remember the following:

Yes, I read the book. And there was this (NSFW language)

Well, now, we have a Republican representative talking about a “national divorce.” While some Republican politicians have condemned such sentiments, many Republicans, especially southern ones, support it…as do some west coast Democrats.

Now, aside from the very idea being a mess…after all, the split is really more of an urban vs. rural one…there ARE blue regions in red states and red regions in blue states, ….and some major problems….

I am not sure I’d even want to live in a “liberals rule” area anymore.

At one time, I thought “it would be great to teach science without being yapped at by the creationists. But now…we have the equally moronic “science is white supremacy and patriarchy” crowd. And just look at how low some of the old, formerly good magazines have sunk. I don’t want the daffy leftist extremists in charge either. The new leftist anti-intellectuals would have a great deal of power in a new state.

Talking past each usual.

This cartoon is popular in liberal circles:

But this cartoon convinces no one at all, though it might help liberals feel better about themselves.

The liberal point of view: “well, you’ll force a woman to carry a baby to term, but then put her on her own once it is born.”

But this is unconvincing to conservatives. Here is why:

Suppose you truly believe that abortion is the murder of a baby (I don’t believe this, but many anti-abortion types do…literally)

So, the fetus really is equivalent to a newborn baby.

Now: does ANYONE think it is ok to kill a newborn? (and no, I am not talking about extreme circumstances where the lives of the older living are at stake).

Of course not.

Now, is it inconsistent to believe that:

  1. Babies must not be killed and
  2. PARENTS are responsible for supporting the babies that they make?

I don’t think that is inconsistent at all, and that is the conservative point of view.

You make it, then you have to support it (but cannot kill it). Yes, this includes both the male and female.

Now, we can debate on how much support a society should give to poorer kids and what kind of support, but that is a topic for another day..and frankly it is a difficult one. Ok, I’ll drop my thoughts below (*)

And yes, poor people in the US, on the average, have more kids than wealthier ones.

(*) my thoughts: this represents my thinking, to a degree. But no, I wouldn’t attempt to sell this with “let’s be compassionate.” I’d take a more spreadsheet approach: I’d note that putting money into the bottom of the economy means more small and basic businesses will have more demand which leads to more jobs. I’d argue that kids that are not in grinding poverty turn out better and have more of a chance to escape and break the cycle; society, on the whole, benefits.

Yes, I know, there are always some who make poor choices no matter what, and some of these will benefit from society’s generosity. They ARE infuriating, and no, Dear Sanctimonious Liberal, don’t tell me who to get angry with. I don’t like crony capitalism can dislike BOTH. That isn’t logically inconsistent. solution is perfect, and under “let’s make the bottom benefits more generous”, there are ALWAYS unpleasant, unrepentant morons that will benefit. But overall, I think society benefits.

Hurt feelings online

A few days ago, B posted a meme that lampooned religious violence. One of her old boyfriends (probably in his 80’s) complained about the meme…and his complaints were less than well received.

That made me think:

  1. Why was he so confident about expressing his opinion and
  2. Why did he think it would be well received.

So..what was going on? My guess: he is probably well respected in his church, and when he speaks there, the others listen and appreciate his insights. But Facebook is not his church.

And I think about that about myself. In class: I know more math than my students and they KNOW that. So in class, I get listened to. At a conference, my credentials are respected. Now some in the audience may know more math, and often, they are better at it. But they know that I know the topic I am talking about.

But..on something like Twitter? Well, if I am not talking academic/math stuff, well, there is no reason for anyone to, a priori, take me seriously. Who in the heck am *I*? And on math topics, I hope my knowledge shows though, but you have to know some math to make a judgement.

Online, few have any prior knowledge of us and..if we are talking about something that someone feels passionately about, well, I, as a stranger, am not going to move them, at all.

I don’t miss the gym, at all

Yes, I still belong to two, and I might use the indoor track or perhaps the pool at some point in my recovery from COVID and, well, to be honest, recovery from the back stuff too. 2 miles walking seems doable.

But as far as lifting at the gym: I last lifted in March 2020, right before we went online. I have yet to lift in a gym since. But I did add to my own home gym and I enjoy the pull ups, push ups, bench presses, etc.

But…at the time I left, I admit that I was enjoying the gym atmosphere less and less.

Gone are the days when people, who didn’t know each other, worked in. And there are things like this:

It seems that few ever thing about other people and that other people might be trying to work out as well.

But …where this video stuff was non-existent for most of my gym using life (1972-2020), perhaps part of the reason is age. I do like an occasional self challenge but most of what I do is to try to keep from further falling apart.

Hey, my bench…I got 176 this year, and I got 314 with the low handle trap bar deadlift in December 2021. I am over 100 lb weaker in the bench and about 100 lb weaker in the deadlift than I once was.

It is just …different. And I don’t miss it.

Masking, public opinions, personal opinions, etc.

First some personal stuff: this morning, I did my PT in a very leisurely manner. Then I walked 2 miles on a route which was 95 percent snow-free. Averaged just a hair under 15 mpm (15:15/14:45).

Not much pain, but I do have to roll a bit…and this is now infections go: your recently weak areas get exposed.

I had almost 2 week of symptoms. And I noticed the following: of a group of 3 friends, two with small, slender builds had almost no symptoms at all, whereas the 3 with higher BMI (I am 6 feet, 195 lb pre COVID) had worse symptoms.

Technically, my symptoms would be classified as “mild” as I never had breathing problems; O2 was 97-98; main symptoms were disrupted sleep, fatigue, body aches, old injuries flaring up. Fever was only 1 day, coughing is slight and I did have mild drainage, except for one day where it was heavy.

Still, the experience is unpleasant enough for me to work to avoid in the future; the mask is coming back (I got slack for couple of days).

Public Opinion and masking Yes, I posted a photo of my getting ready to teach a class by Zoom and I posted a video of my wearing a mask while doing push ups.

And OF COURSE, someone had to comment on the mask, each time.

“Mask for Zoom?” and “Bro, take the mask off.”

Context: in the photo, it was my day of my first negative test. It was in the home office room, which has two folding doors leading to the living room, where my wife hangs out. So, I wanted to limit the amount of virus I put in this room (that she uses) and in the adjoining room; this was NOT my isolation room (nicked name “the goathaus”)

In the second case (the video) I had another negative test. But I was doing these in the living room where my wife was, so the mask was to protect her (unseen in the view of the camera.

Moral: if it looks strange that someone is masking, there may be more there than meets the eye. Sometimes, I am walking a short distance between indoor buildings and don’t want to bother with the “on/off”, especially if I am bundled for winter.

Reluctance to get the newest booster

I’ve read about people who got the first vaccine and are now refusing to get the booster and I know some of these personally.

Of course, understanding why would require study by qualified professionals and not just some unqualified blogger throwing some thoughts together.

But here is my guess:

In the US, the vaccination rates of the older age groups are higher than those of the younger age groups. And boosters are recommended for the older age groups.

Now think about what happens as we age: things start to go wrong with our bodies. For example: my blog, at times, is a boring status update of my current health problems.

Within the past 3-4 years, as I went from 59 to 63 years of age, knee problems (long standing) have gotten bad enough to make me stop running. Shoulder problems took away swimming and made me alter lifting (and to do life long physical therapy). Back: yes, I first got treated in 1977, but the problems (spondylolisthesis) got bad enough for me to get an MRI and a referral to a spine surgeon. My psoriasis has flared up from time to time and excessive caffeine intake lead to urinary tract issues (happily resolved, though COVID brought some of it back)

And, if you look at my Facebook timeline, my “problems” are sort of normal for someone my age who tries to remain active.

And now go back to older people getting spaced out vaccinations and boosters. Chances are, these shots will probably coincide with something going wrong with their is the age.

In fact, I have a reverse coincidence: right around the time I got my omicron specific booster (September 2022) my back related glute pain started to improve quite a bit…but of course, my ongoing PT, activity modification and management and slow gradual increase in walking were probably the reason.

But oh my, the timing.

The TL;DR summary: old people get shots right around the time when something goes wrong with their bodies, and they ascribe the shot as the cause.

I think this is good old “post hoc ergo propter hoc.”

Cognitive empathy, behavior changes and activism

First a remark about the fiasco in Congress in which it took 15 votes for the Republicans to elect the Speaker of the House:

Lots of memes were made about this:

and I made one too (part of a series where I lampoon my life when I was single)

(side note: her outfit is actually coral (in color) but appears to be bright red due to the lighting)

But I digress…the real purpose of this post is to comment on the antics of so-called “activists”. You know: these are the ones that disrupt things, like those who block traffic:

Or..maybe they stop a university from showing a film that they disapprove of:

Well, the question I have is this: what are these “activists” hoping to accomplish? It appears to me that they have concluded that because their cause is just (and perhaps it is) that it is ok for them to do whatever they want to do.

But, what is their goal in doing said protest? If their goal does not involve getting more supporters on their side and to change behavior and attitudes, then I suppose it is ok, I guess…though there are legal consequences.

But if their goal is to actually change the behavior of others and to change attitudes ..IN THEIR DIRECTION, well, they should probably step back and engage in some empathy..that is, cognitive empathy.


Well, no. In fact, I learned the value of cognitive empathy in sports (football) and in the military! Reason: you will do better if you can see things from your opponent’s point of view. And that is what I mean: if you stop and check out “how will my actions be viewed by others..especially those that I am trying to convince”, you might make better choices. Instead, these morons just turn the public against them.

Goal: change of behavior; two incidents from my past

Case 1: mid 1990’s: our department was discussing candidates. Our chair, long since retired, was an old school, conservative gentleman. And he referred to the male candidates by Dr. X and the female candidates by their first names.

I was a young, untenured professor, and I spoke up: “why are we referring to females by their first names and men by their titles; shouldn’t it be the same for both?” And..well, that just confused the old professor at first, but…*he changed his behavior.* There were no Deans called in, no big to-do, no “mandatory sensitivity training”; no “pound of flesh.”

Case 2: I was taking a class and in a pre-test review class, an international student asked if there would be “coding” on the exam (writing a program). The professor said “no coding” but mimicked the student’s Asian accent.

A student spoke up: “I heard that..that Asian accent”; prof said “no I didn’t” and the student laughed and said “yes, you did.”

It never happened again. Change of behavior. No firing, no Dean, no running the gauntlet; no “pound of flesh.” (this was the late 1990’s).

The goal was attained. I wonder if our cancel culture has lost sight of that.

Note: the professors involved have retired a long time ago.

Strong medicine vs sanctimony

I saw this on Twitter and thought about it:

Disclaimer: I am not a believer but I get the idea about being accepting of groups/demographics that one does not belong to.

But back to the original post: the intent was to cast dispersion at conservatives; to puff up themselves by claiming the moral high ground. And in that setting, this is nothing more than a group attack on another group.

But, if one were to read this to their own group or to themselves, it can be quite powerful.

So doing this exercise: Jesus loves the Confederate flag wavers, the MAGA hat wearers, the flat earth people, the Bible thumpers, the creationist and anti-vax woo woos, as well as the horse paste eaters.

And to make it very personal…well, this is not the time and place to lay out my dark side for those to see, but there are certain qualities that I respect and..let’s just say that I disrespect the lack of said qualities …and “Jesus loves them too.” Tough medicine indeed.

You are what you do

Two things are on my mind. One is this old article that I’ve frequently talked about. I was going to quote excerpts but, oh, just read it. It isn’t that long. The upshot: People and organizations have needs and how you’ll be received is approximately proportional to how they think you will meet said needs.

Of course, in professional settings, it is “what do you bring to your organization/team?” vs “how much trouble are you?” In personal settings, it can be something as simple as “how do you make others feel” or, rather, how do others feel around you? Are you uplifting? Do you help others feel better about themselves? Do they enjoy your company?

And yes, accomplishments matter; people are attracted to success.

And, well, you are in trouble if you end up extracting more from others than they get from you.

That brings me to the short “Meal Ticket” from the Ballad of Buster Scruggs. You can see a discussion of that short here.

Spoiler alert: the upshot is that the short is about a travelling showman who goes to rustic frontier towns in the 19’th century US. It is cold; the towns are rustic, and the people hard. The main act is a legless, armless orator who recites famous poetry, speeches and playlines, while lit by candlelight on a stage. That is the act.

Over time, the audiences dwindle and give less and less money and the showman gets depressed. He then notices a livelier competing show; it is a chicken that can supposedly solve arithmetic problems. People shout out, say, “2 +7” and the chicken pecks the pan with a 9 on it.

The showman wants to take over the act, so he pays, for him, a lot of money for that chicken.

So, now the armless, legless orator, the showman and the chicken are travelling together…and the showman decides the orator has exhausted his usefullness…

Yes, very dark indeed. But note: that chicken cannot do math; the showman thinks that the chicken can do math! Follow the above link to see the secret. I admit that when I saw the film for the first time, I thought part of the story was a supernatural chicken…but then…why would the owner sell it?

But the larger point: the orator’s physical neediness was tolerated and accepted (yes, there is a bathroom scene) so long as his orations brought in money. When it stopped…well…you get the drift.

And that leads to another point of mine: on social media, people are always clamoring to “make noise”, “not take it” or about “that is NOT ok”. But: unless said people have something that others want, be it money, position to take action, or a position and ability to lead actual action, they are just making noise and will be tuned out.

Humans are transactional and people need to be given a reason to listen to you. Of course, there is a very dark side to this too.