Monday, November 26, 2018

Thanks and Full

I live alone and have no friends nor family in which to spend any time with let alone a holiday but I still cook a full meal spread, I just have more leftovers in which to use for meals in the days that follow.  I have done the orphan dinners, invited others and once had a family in which to share the repast but as I get older I truly seem less engaged than one should.  It did not help I worked retail for many years and had a Mother who did as well so it changes your perspective and once again the violence that followed neither shocked nor surprised me.  The holidays don't have any special significance or trauma associated with them on a personal level and as a result I am pretty much fine finding the sole exercise class and coffee shop open to spend the morning, cook in the day and watch a movie at night.   A day like any other.

Living in Nashville has made me more isolated and insular than I ever believed possible. I find massive excuses to avoid going to the Symphony and missed not one but two concerts that I was looking forward to but not enough to find the energy in which to engage.  I suspect this has to do with the school year and by the end of day I need to be in a quiet place without people and when I do go I find myself regretting it immediately as the adults here are not much better than the children.

Right now the arrogance and humble bragging of this "city" is beyond nauseating.  The absurdity that Amazon in coming with 5K jobs of which the average being 105K in annual salary cannot be believed.  This cannot be until it is established on what the skill set and the job requirements provided and in turn the range of salary for each position is listed. That is a year away.  Again, if that average was in fact spread among the workers in total it would put approximately 2500 workers making said base salary and this would include executives and management which is highly unlikely if not absurd as they should be double the average. The idea is there a spectrum, with a median salary and when all salaries are totaled among the workforce an average is determined, so the higher salaries will raise the average of the lower ones but that average is spread among a small but equal cohort when it comes to skills and experience.  But Nashville is in histrionics over this but this is not a city of well educated people who could do the math,  so again the city seems to be wetting itself on the long game and when it's Amazon it always is the long con.

Schools and Universities here are planning to prepare grads for the unspecified jobs with the non specific descriptions and salaries without even knowing what those skills and jobs are.  I see that working out well.   Just peruse our local rag to see the endless articles about the second coming of Bezos who is the new Baby Jesus.

Then we have the self congratulatory letter from our post scandal Mayor who suddenly has forgotten the 35M budget shortfall and will be putting in the necessary infrastructure repairs and upgrades in preparation for the Amazon immediately.  Let's hope the other river, the Cumberland, doesn't beat it to the punch and overflow again given what we are hearing about Climate change and weather forecasts for the future.

Dear Metro employees,

In recent weeks we’ve launched a major initiative to plant 500,000 trees before 2050; enacted a new Metro workplace policy to support survivors of domestic violence; and announced that Amazon and EY are bringing 5,600 high-paying jobs to Nashville and that the SEC will hold basketball tournaments at Bridgestone Arena every year through 2035.

We’ve also marched down Broadway with our city’s veterans; hosted the CMA Awards, which honor the best of country music; launched a major food-saver challenge to area restaurants and hotels; and learned that Davidson County’s growth in both total personal income and per-capita income in 2017 ranked in the top 10 among the nation’s 100 largest counties.

What do these announcements, events and data have in common? The answer is you.

Without you and your dedication to public service, Nashville wouldn’t be the fast-growing and widely admired city it is. Businesses, new residents and visitors wouldn’t be flocking here, and we wouldn’t be able to pull off the special events that we routinely present without a hitch.

You make it all possible. You keep us safe. You educate our children. You keep our streets, our public spaces and our water clean, from downtown to every corner of Davidson County. You do all the tasks that are necessary, if not always well-known, to keep a city moving every day.

And many of you have been doing it for a long, long time. I had the privilege of honoring 170 employees who have now served the city for 30 years, 35 years, 40 years and even longer at the Mayor’s Service Awards ceremony last week.

So as I get ready for my first Thanksgiving as mayor, let me express how thankful I am for your hard work and your commitment to Nashville and its citizens. Your selflessness, sacrifice and work ethic inspire me.

Thank you for everything you do. I hope you have a joyous Thanksgiving with your family and friends.

Warm wishes,

Mayor David Briley

I have never met people so ignorant and self obsessed like Nashvillians.  Many who have come here are from poorer communities that they were on the verge of homelessness or in abject poverty and found minimum wage work that was non-existent in their home towns. As most of the jobs here are service oriented they have few benefits, low salaries  but they fill the large void of unemployment and in turn keep the numbers down in that regards. Then we have those who have higher skills sets  and in turn have come with the demands their position requires and in turn higher wages which has contributed to the boon in real estate and a rise in our median wage to about 63K.  But no the elite unless transferred here are not just packing their wagon to come here.    This data shows where the influx is coming from. - largely intrastate migration.   But again most jobs here do not need higher education and the reality is that four years in the Drive to 55 I wonder now with the Plumber if the switch to a more voc-tech centric education will be the focus?

When asked where I am from and what brought me here finally made sense as the people here aspire to be Seattle, cool, wealthy, a pretty city with smart people.  They are incredulous anyone would move here while simultaneously never leaving here and thinking its the end all be all is largely more the same bullshit I have come to learn here.  What about the comment by the Mayor about the largest personal and per capita income in counties this size. WTF?  They are obsessed with this shit and they never mention the ones that are less positive and of course provide a source for such claims.  At the end of the day I have little good to say and the adage goes: "If you have nothing good to say, say nothing." So I don't.  It makes for even a lonelier existence.  Hence I travel but with the dental work coming up that means staying put and finding ways to work and survive.  More bullshit more energy spent waiting to leave.

But while I consider myself an outlier with at least some long range plans and the ability to move many do not and yet we are at an epidemic of loneliness.  I have no workplace or church or other club to join to find like minds.  I tried the Porch, Meetup and volunteering and then I realized that I was the least of the problem and that the people here are assholes like Massachusetts only less educated.  They call them Massholes for a reasons and I call them Nashvilians for the same.

The op-ed piece I read in The New York Times yesterday (below)  did not focus new light on the subject but it explains the obsession with politics and one perusal of social media demonstrates how those forums are seemingly nothing but.   The source is also perhaps one of the more disingenuous GOP Senators I have read of late.  Ben Sasse can shove his moral rectitude up his ass as he contributes to much of the political landscape of hostility and abuse that we can link historically to  GOP; this is directed at and most specifically to that of Newt Gingrich or as The Atlantic calls, The Man Who Broke Politics.   I still love Sasse's  false narrative from his last book (The Vanishing American now available online for 3.89)  about working in the corn fields during his breaks from Yale and Oxford. What.ever.

And let us not forget Mitch McConnell who oversees the Senate who is an equally obstinate angry individual who uses his pulpit to endlessly bully.  You reap what you sow and in turn when   I spend time  looking at the crazy on social media I read the rants by the  same people who decry Trump for his endless twitter rants but  are doing much of the same.  Got a new drug or just upping the ones you are on?  There are only so many ways you can preach to the choir before you need a new script.   When I find myself writing snark on comment sections of newspapers you know its desperate times and this is desperate measure.   Even I who spends little time with others manages to get to a gym, to yoga, to go for a walk and watch something on television that is enlightening or at least entertaining.  I finally watched the HULU series, The Looming Tower, and learned about Mike O'Neill whose complex personality was as much  his downfall as it was  his success.  Hell of a man and I am glad I heard of him now as those are the people you need to remember from a tragedy, the heroes not the villains.  That is how I want to leave here, recalling that what mattered.  It may not be enough but it is not nothing.   That is how we should remember how many celebrate holidays with not just a full plate but one that is not empty.  We may need to find our lives in need of other ways to be full.



How Loneliness Is Tearing America Apart
When people have a hole in their life, they often fill it with angry politics.

By Arthur C. Brooks
Mr. Brooks is the president of the American Enterprise Institute.
Nov. 23, 2018

America is suffering an epidemic of loneliness.

According to a recent large-scale survey from the health care provider Cigna, most Americans suffer from strong feelings of loneliness and a lack of significance in their relationships. Nearly half say they sometimes or always feel alone or “left out.” Thirteen percent of Americans say that zero people know them well. The survey, which charts social isolation using a common measure known as the U.C.L.A. Loneliness Scale, shows that loneliness is worse in each successive generation.

This problem is at the heart of the new book “Them: Why We Hate Each Other — and How to Heal,” by Senator Ben Sasse, Republican of Nebraska. Mr. Sasse argues that “loneliness is killing us,” citing, among other things, the skyrocketing rates of suicide and overdose deaths in America. This year, 45,000 Americans will take their lives, and more than 70,000 will die from drug overdoses.

Mr. Sasse’s assertion that loneliness is killing us takes on even darker significance in the wake of the mail-bomb campaign against critics of President Trump and the massacre at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, both of which were perpetrated by isolated — and apparently very lonely — men. Mr. Sasse’s book was published before these events, but he presciently described what he believes lonely people increasingly do to fill the hole of belonging in their lives: They turn to angry politics.

In the “siloed,” or isolated, worlds of cable television, ideological punditry, campus politics and social media, people find a sense of community in the polarized tribes forming on the left and the right in America. Essentially, people locate their sense of “us” through the contempt peddled about “them” on the other side of the political spectrum.

There is profit to be made here. The “outrage industrial complex” is what I call the industries that accumulate wealth and power by providing this simulacrum of community that people crave — but cannot seem to find in real life.

Why are we becoming so lonely? One reason is the changing nature of work. Work is one of the key sources of friendship and community. Think of your own relationships; surely many of your closest friendships — perhaps even your relationship with your spouse — started in the workplace. Yet the reality of the workplace is rapidly attenuating, as people hop from job to job, and from city to city, as steady work becomes harder to find and the “gig” economy grows.

Mr. Sasse worries even more, however, about a pervasive feeling of homelessness: Too many Americans don’t have a place they think of as home — a “thick” community in which people know and look out for one another and invest in relationships that are not transient. To adopt a phrase coined in Sports Illustrated, one might say we increasingly lack that “hometown gym on a Friday night feeling.”

Mr. Sasse finds this phrase irresistible and warmly relates it to his own life growing up in Fremont, Neb., a town of 26,000 residents. He describes the high school sports events on Friday nights that drew the townspeople together in a common love for their neighbors and community that made most differences — especially political differences — seem trivial. He relates with deep fondness the feelings he experienced, after moving away for a couple of decades for school and work, when he returned to Fremont’s small-town life with his family, and the deep sense of belonging it created.
In what might be called “the social capital of death,” Mr. Sasse charmingly describes the sense of being rooted that it gives him, at a robust and healthy 46, to own a burial plot for himself in Fremont’s local cemetery. A prĂ©cis of Mr. Sasse’s recommendations to America thus might be this: Go where you get that hometown-gym-on-a-Friday-night feeling, put down roots and make plans to fertilize the soil.

That can be a tricky proposition for many of us. On reading the book, I asked myself where I might get that hometown-gym feeling, where I have natural roots, where I can imagine being buried. No specific place came to mind. I have no Fremont — not even Seattle, my hometown, which is a perfectly nice place, but one I unsentimentally left behind 35 years ago.

All this is particularly germane to my wife and me at the moment, as we prepare to move from Maryland to Massachusetts in the coming months. We fear the loneliness we are sure to feel as we enter a completely new place where neither of us grew up or has ever lived. Is a thick community and the happiness it brings out of reach for rootless cosmopolitans like us?

I recently put these questions to Mr. Sasse. He told me I had it all wrong — that moving back home and going to the gym on Friday aren’t actually the point; rather, the trick is “learning how to intentionally invest in the places where we actually live.” In other words, being a member of a community isn’t about whether I have a Fremont. It isn’t about how I feel about any place I have lived, nor about my fear of isolation in a new city. It is about the neighbor I choose to be in the community I wind up calling my home.

And there lies the challenge to each of us in a country suffering from loneliness and ripped apart by political opportunists seeking to capitalize on that isolation. Each of us can be happier, and America will start to heal, when we become the kind neighbors and generous friends we wish we had.

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