Gilmore Girls: Why Is It All the Boys? Because You Wrote It That Way

Thanksgiving weekend the Gilmore Girls: A Year In the Life came out on Netflix. We watched the entire thing (7 hours?) in one day.

It’s a fascinating bit of pop culture and TV fun that a beloved show that ended nearly a decade ago can come back for another hurrah.

As part of all the hoopla surrounding the show’s release, I came across some comments from creator Amy Sherman-Palladino that has me scratching my head. She’s responding to the constant fervor about the dating life of Rory Gilmore and whether she ends up with Jess or Dean. She laments that people aren’t more focused on Rory’s professional career:

Sometimes I wish that the Dean and Jess thing weren’t so prominent because in the grand scheme of Rory’s life, who her boyfriend was when she was 16 years old is such a small event. … I don’t see people debating “What newspaper is Rory’s working for?” “Did she win a Pulitzer yet?” It’s all about Dean and Jess.

Um… people are obsessed with the romantic angle because that’s how you wrote the show. Continue reading Gilmore Girls: Why Is It All the Boys? Because You Wrote It That Way

A Better Way to Internet Politics

I often wonder if there’s a more productive way for politics to move forward. It’s especially bleak right now after the election of Donald Trump, an election that was very short on actual policy positions and very high on the spread of fake news.

Everybody has a take on the 2016 election, and I’m sure we’ll be reading about it forever, but one story I read compared Trump to Italy’s Silvio Berlusconi and suggested the way to beat Trump is to ignore his antics and focus on policy.

I wonder if that would work. That seemed like one of the most telling moments of the presidential debates (and I commented on it my election post), though I don’t know if that moment changed anyone’s mind (it was easily overshadowed by other moments).

Maybe it’s idealistic and wouldn’t actually work, but I think a better, saner grasp of the facts and issues would go a long way to helping democracy, for all sides.

So what might that look like? Continue reading A Better Way to Internet Politics

Local Politics & How Candidates Communicate

Oh this election. I don’t know what to do with you.

I usually try not to blog about politics. I did too much of that in previous cycles and said stupid things and annoyed even myself.

Early on this year, I couldn’t hold back and had to try to understand the Trump phenomena as it was happening. Even now I don’t understand it (though the Anxiety, Nostalgia & Mistrust Survey explains a lot), but I’m trying not to engage in the endless what ifs and blame and the rest (though I am being very vocal about stopping hate and violence).

I think instead of engaging on the national scene, I’ve been talking up the local scene. It’s bothered me for a long time how difficult it is to research local elections. Technology was supposed to make that easier, and in some ways it has. Most serious candidates have websites or at least Facebook pages these days (but not all of them).

But in other ways technology just allows politicians to spread the same misleading information they always have. And voters are stuck with just as little information to sort it all out.

This election I tried to sort out who said what, who did something questionable and who blatantly made stuff up assuming people wouldn’t research it. My only hope is that I’m making it easier for other frustrated voters like myself.

You know what? People liked it. Continue reading Local Politics & How Candidates Communicate

Love Trumps Hate

A lot has already been written and will be written about Donald Trump’s stunning victory yesterday, and I don’t imagine I have much to add. But I’m also a writer and need to get it out of my head.

The one thing I keep coming back to is how divided we are as a country, and not just that we’re divided, but that we don’t understand each other.

I shared this quote when I explained why I voted for Clinton:

“If two smart and logical people disagree, it’s most likely because they are acting on different information.” -Bill “Billo” O’Donnell (A Truck Full of Money by Tracey Kidder)

I think we’ve been acting on different information. If we’re going to overcome that division, we need to reconcile that information (not an easy task). I wish candidates did a better job of this (they rarely do because it doesn’t fire up their side), but now it’s time for us to do a better job of it.

So let me explain some information as I see it.

Today my social media feed is full of fear.

My minority friends are scared. People of color, LGBT friends, Muslims, immigrants, the disabled—scared.

And they’re sharing examples of harassment, intimidation, hate. (Those are just a few examples. Ask a teacher. Talk to a minority.) They’re justifiably scared.

Trump may say he’s not a racist, not a misogynist, not a xenophobe, not a homophobe, not an Islamophobe, but his words and actions—whether intentionally or through mere carelessness—bring hate out in people. (And it’s not just my liberal friends saying this. Many of my conservative friends refused to vote for Trump because of this.)

This political campaign has given license to hate. The rare few (I hope) who are racist, misogynistic, xenophobic, homophobic and/or bigoted have been emboldened to speak and act their hate.

And that’s not OK.

I know we disagree on a lot, but I have to assume that’s not OK with Trump voters either. I know we disagree, but I have to believe you don’t support hate. 81% of evangelicals voted for Trump, and I know faith in Jesus shouldn’t spread hate.

So prove it. Don’t endorse hate with your silence. Let’s make sure Love Trumps Hate is not just a campaign slogan tossed around as an insult. Reclaim it, bring unity across the aisle, and reject what I must hope are isolated acts of hate and violence.

Prove to my minority friends that there is a place in America for them, that you will defend them and stand up for them, even if you disagree with them.

Because otherwise, what are we doing?

These hateful acts are not America. I don’t believe that. But if we let them continue because they don’t impact us personally, then we’re enabling hate.

I can’t believe all Trump voters are hateful. Maybe we don’t understand each other, but that’s something we can work on.

I’m naive and idealistic and probably foolish, but I think love truly can trump hate.

Update: Maple Grove Students Respond (Nov. 10, 2016)

This is how we need to respond to hate. (And let it not just be warm, fuzzy words, but real action. May those kids love and protect one another.)

Voting as a Heroic Act

So Joss Whedon, the creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and director of the Avengers movies, created his own PAC to encouraging voting this year.

I love this comment about the ethos of what he’s doing:

“There is this heroic act called voting. And the world is scary, and things are overwhelming, and there’s a lot at stake. But this voting thing is actually beautiful. Not just necessary—it’s a wonderful thing and it makes you powerful.” -Joss Whedon

Pairs nicely with the Ms. Marvel “to the polls” image:

Ms. Marvel & Joss Whedon on voting

(And yes, that’s a direct visual reference to the 1830 painting “Liberty Leading the People.”)

It’s easy to become frustrated or disillusioned, especially this year, but I think there is something incredible about voting.

This year my family went together, lining up with a hundred neighbors waiting for the polls to open. I wore my Captain America hoodie—an older woman remarked about its appropriateness.

My son watched as I voted. I pointed out that I’d just voted for a woman for president for the first time in my life. I voted for what could be only the fourth woman to represent Minnesota in the U.S. House and our first gay member of Congress. I voted for what could be West St. Paul’s first female mayor. I pointed to the school district levy, that I was voting for his school to keep getting money. (And I voted for at least a dozen judges running opposed, which felt kind of silly.)

The candidates have had their many, many months. But now it’s our turn.

However you vote, this is our moment. So vote.

West St. Paul Nonprofits You Can Support: Let’s Do Some Good

This election has been a little crazy-making. But no matter who wins, life goes on. Great things will continue to happen in our community, and we should support them. So let’s talk about West St. Paul nonprofits.

I’ve been especially vocal about some local races here in West St. Paul, so in the interest of supporting local community, I want to encourage people to support some West St. Paul nonprofits.

Nov. 17 is Give to the Max Day, where donations can be multiplied with all kinds of incentives and matching gifts. It’s a great opportunity to rally together to support nonprofits, and you don’t even have to wait until Nov. 17—every donation between now and then will count toward Give to the Max Day.

So let’s support local organizations that work to make our community a better place. Continue reading West St. Paul Nonprofits You Can Support: Let’s Do Some Good

Election 2016: Why I’m Voting for Hillary Clinton

Every presidential election year since I started blogging I’ve talked about who I’m voting for and why. I do this not so much to convince other people, but for myself. Sometimes I think it’s helpful to have a snapshot of what we were thinking at a certain moment in time. My views have changed over the years, so I think it’s interesting to see that over time.

And oh the 2016 presidential election is one worthy of a snapshot. Or two.

Before I dive too deep, let me give the disclaimer that I don’t like blogging about politics. I did a lot of that in 2008 and ended up alienating some folks, myself included. It’s a difficult subject to talk about, and I wish we could do a better job. This year I tried to stick to local politics.

“If two smart and logical people disagree, it’s most likely because they are acting on different information.” -Bill “Billo” O’Donnell (A Truck Full of Money by Tracey Kidder)

Sometimes I think that’s the crux of division right now.

All that to say, this is what I think right now. If you disagree with me, that’s fine. But before you think I’m a jerk or an idiot or something, maybe we should examine our underlying positions.

I’m voting for Hillary Clinton for president. Continue reading Election 2016: Why I’m Voting for Hillary Clinton

2016 Elections in West St. Paul: Taxes & Infrastructure

This year I’ve blogged about a lot of local elections here in West St. Paul:

Why?

Part of my frustration goes back to the misleading statements and misinformation in the 2014 election. But alas, I’ve been complaining about how hard it is to find information about local races since 2003.

Seriously, the most we get are candidate sites and a few candidate forums and questionnaires. Those are helpful, but there’s no push back. A candidate can say whatever they want and it goes unchallenged. It’s no wonder turnout for local elections is horrendous.

So I guess it’s time to start fixing the problem. I did push back when candidates were leaving out important details or being completely misleading. I also spoke up when they were being misrepresented. I’ve been passionate and certainly biased, but hopefully I wasn’t too much of a jerk. Continue reading 2016 Elections in West St. Paul: Taxes & Infrastructure

West St. Paul City Council Ward 1 Race: Pat Armon & Bob Pace

So I’ve written about the West St. Paul mayor, ward 2 and ward 3 city council races, so I might as well explore the ward 1 race and cover all the bases. Incumbent Pat Armon is running for reelection in ward 1 and is facing challenger Bob Pace.

Pat Armon works for the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. Bob Pace is the owner of Pace’s Tire and Service Center on Robert Street in West St. Paul.

Like other races in the city, I think this one comes down to investment versus low taxes. Pat Armon sees the long-term benefits of investment, that investing in infrastructure will raise property values and bring more business and residents to the city. Bob Pace argues that those investments are costing too much and rising property taxes will drive people away.

But there’s also an added element of experience that Pat Armon brings to the table. Neither of these candidates are career politicians. For a town of 20,000 people, our council members are regular citizens who pitch in. I don’t think we should expect city council candidates to know everything, but being knowledgeable and engaged is a big plus. There are areas where Bob Pace admits he doesn’t have answers yet (which is certainly better than faking it or giving us political jargon), and that’s where I think Pat Armon’s experience and expertise shines through. Continue reading West St. Paul City Council Ward 1 Race: Pat Armon & Bob Pace

Bob Pace Did Not Call for a Spending Freeze on Robert Street

A statement from West St. Paul city council ward 1 candidate Bob Pace appeared in the November 2016 issue of the St. Paul Voice:

“[Bob Pace’s] top priority is to put the current Robert Street project on a spending freeze until it is determined how it will be funded. He wants to make the City business-friendly and would work with developers ‘instead of against them,’ in the continued revitalization of all business districts.”

The idea of a spending freeze on a nearly finished project raised some eyebrows. Turns out that’s not what Pace actually said.

Here’s the actual statement Bob Pace gave to the Voice outlining his top priorities:

“To work with developers to continue the revitalization of Robert Street and the rest of the cities businesses, to try and put a hold on spending money on projects that are not absolutely needed until we actually have the money. The citizens can not keep taking tax increases at the current rate.”

So he never called for a spending freeze on the Robert Street project. Continue reading Bob Pace Did Not Call for a Spending Freeze on Robert Street

A work-at-home dad wrestles with faith, social justice & story.