We're going on an adventure!

Ferrett and I celebrated our 20th anniversary this year. One of the things we've talked about doing in the future is renting out or selling the house and living fulltime in an RV—maybe even before we retire, since both of us work remotely. But he has no camping experience, so I proposed that we celebrate this momentous anniversary by outfitting our Ford 1998 F250 cargo van, Sebastian, for camping and go out to Yellowstone, then wander back across the country. (The acquisition of Sebastian is another story; ask if you are curious.) Ferrett immediately dubbed our trip a "vanniversary." So, after getting new tires and a thorough once-over for Sebastian, we set out at the end of October. This is the tale of the trip.   

Vanniversary Day One: We didn't get through one day without an adventure! About four hours from home, just outside South Bend, Indiana, all the sudden Sebastian was slowing down and losing power. In the pouring rain we pulled over to the side of the Indiana toll road, and blessed Past Gini for joining AAA.  

We were towed to a garage, where they confirmed Ferrett's diagnosis of a bad alternator. Did we mention that we had a new alternator put in literally six days before we left?  Fortunately, the people at the garage were very nice, and our regular mechanics, Drellishak’s, are very awesome. Between the two of them they arranged for our alternator to be replaced with no money out of our pockets—no “pay now and we’ll get you a reimbursement” nonsense.  

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Victory Garden

I think the instructions on seed packets for early spring, cool weather crops are incomplete. They generally say, "Plant as soon as the ground can be worked. When seedlings are approximately 2" high, thin plants to ___ inches apart."

They completely leave off the rest of the instructions:

"Watch over your garden beds as your little seed babies make their green appearance. Reflect on the miracle of life. When plants are approximately three inches high, witness them all freeze to death in a late spring snow. Any plants that survive will be shocked into stunted growth and bitter harvest. Reflect now upon how Mother Earth is a harsh mistress. Replant sometime in early May. Watch as the tender new growth is scorched when the temperatures suddenly climb into the 90s. Note: early spring crops can be replanted with more success in September, but by that time you'll be completely burnt out on this gardening thing."



Healthcare is on the chopping block again today. If you think this isn't your issue because you have insurance through your work, you are wrong! Insurance companies will be allowed to offer far worse policies to employers, not cover pre-existing conditions, not cap your annual contribution, just not cover things. This is EVERYONE'S issue.

16 Republicans have stated that they plan to vote no on the appalling new version of the AHCA--remember, folks, this one is worse than the last time, and that's why it's getting support; the most conservative congressmen who voted against the last bill have fallen in line behind this one because it's finally Machiavellian enough for them.

Call your congressional representative and urge them to listen to the American people instead of the Koch Brothers.

Last time around, these were the members who were on the fence. I can't even find a list for this time, because the news isn't covering this like it did before:

Rep. Mark Amodei (NV)
Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (WA)
Rep. Andy Biggs (AZ)
Rep. Jim Bridenstine (OK)
Rep. Ken Buck (CO)
Rep. Ryan Costello (PA)
Rep. Carlos Curbelo (FL)
Rep. Charlie Dent (PA)
Rep. Scott DesJarlais (TN)
Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (FL)
Rep. Daniel Donovan (NY)
Rep. Jeff Duncan (SC)
Rep. Louie Gohmert (TX)
Rep. Paul A. Gosar (AZ)
Rep. Walter B. Jones (NC)
Rep. Steve King (IA)
Rep. Darrin LaHood (IL)
Rep. Frank A. LoBiondo (NJ)
Rep. Patrick Meehan (PA)
Rep. Steve Pearce (NM)
Rep. Scott Perry (PA)
Rep. Peter J. Roskam (IL)
Rep. Dan Webster (FL)
Rep. Ted Yoho (FL)
Rep. David Young (IA)


What a drag it is getting old....

I've wrapped up the last birthday I'll ever have for an age that begins with a 5. A year from now, I move on into the 6s.

That's not weird AT ALL.

Age is an odd thing. I think it was Jim Gaffigan (if not, excuse my senility) who recently said that a generation ago when someone approached 60, people solicitously guided them to a rocking chair; now, they are given a mountain bike and told to get going.

For the most part, I'm all for that mountain bike (crap, I own three bikes; I'd better be enthusiastic). But there are days when I long, a bit, for the solicitous guidance, the gentle pat on the back of my--so far unmarred by age spots--hand, and the voice to tell me to slow the hell down.

It's not that I want to get old--hell, you line me up a dozen random virgins with the promise that drinking their blood will restore me to my thirties and those bitches are going *down*--but there is a lot of balance to be sought in the reality of this point of life. I spent an hour gardening today. I went to the gym. I am fighting the good fight against the ravages of time and reality.

In the end, ravaging reality will win. Maybe not for another 20, 30 years. But we haven't found a cure for age yet.

So here I am, dancing on the balance. I can't get 30 back (for the record, no, I don't want 20--those years were still WAY too hormonal). I can't get 40. I can't even get 58.

What I've got is 59, and how to use it best. How to use it smartest. One of the most humbling decisions I ever made was buying myself a walker for Star Wars Celebration. Did I need the walker for support? Not at all. But degenerative disc disease and the inability to stand for long periods of time means that I *did* need that flip-down seat and the ability to plant my ass for the long hours we had to wait in some lines.

As a woman with a walker, I could have cruised right up to the Medical Disability station, gotten myself a special sticker for my badge, and had some advantages as far was getting into lines. I did not do this. I had a walker because I needed a doggone chair whenever I needed a chair. Not because I am disabled. I felt like taking advantage of a visible piece of equipment to get special treatment would have been dishonest.

By Celebration 2019? I might not feel that way. One of the things I did today, my birthday, was take time to get to the gym. It wasn't a great workout. But I did show up. And it means something to me. Not that I will ever be thin--because I fought for that for decades and fuck it, I end up fatter every damned time--but that I can stay mobile. I can stay able. I can keep walking, and moving, and lifting. And planting, and pulling up the goddamn weeds that will just keep growing no matter how much I loathe them. And harvesting. And reaching for the stars, howling at the moon, bursting warm, ripe tomatoes with my teeth, scrounging the dirt for carrots and onions, swinging a lightsaber in the moonlight, juggling balls my dog can't believe aren't for her, swinging on my porch swing, riding my bike through the park, dyeing and sewing fabric into new treasures for the future and just existing. On a thousand levels.

Tomorrow morning, it's editing books. In the evening, it may be plunging cotton fabric into purples and greens it never knew could exist. Or spying for that first curling sprout that promises a pound of snap peas. Or riding to the river to just listen to it sing. I have a thousand miles of everything, calling to me. Let's see whose song is sweetest.
What now Sheldon

A short lesson in US goverment

I see far too much sanguine trust that, somehow, the bedrock that is America will survive Trump. Do not fall into this trap. Our system of checks and balances is not a law of nature like gravity or thermodynamics. It is a gentleman's agreement, one of long standing, but not unbreakable.

Let me tell you a story. Back when the USA was a wee babe, and our Founding Fathers were still a bunch of idealistic but extemely argumentative men, defeated President John Adams appointed a bunch of people to positions on his way out the door. But those appointments were not official until the appointees actually received the physical order. And when Thomas Jefferson took office, he instructed Secretary of State James Madison not to deliver those appointments.

One of the disappointed appointees, William Marbury, decided not to take this lying down. He sued James Madison, claiming that as the valid appointment had been made the new president had the obligation to carry it out. This case ended up in the Supreme Court: Marbury v. Madison.

No one going into this case had any idea that a petty, pissing match between Adams and Jefferson would end up shaping our entire government.

You see, Justice John Marshall delivered a decision that basically proclaimed the Supreme Court as the ultimate arbiter of the constitutionality of laws and orders. He wrote Article III of the Constitution gives the court the authority to determine who wins when there is a constitutional question. He wrote that Marbury *did* have a right to the commission, and that the laws of the country did provide him with legal recourse.

And then, Marshall did a very canny thing. He said that Marbury's method of asking for relief was improper, and that therefore Madison (and, by extension, Jefferson) won the day. This legal jujitsu meant that Jefferson had no reason to say, "Well, I don't have to do what you say!" and create a Constitutional crisis right there in 1803. Instead, he was forced to accept the decision. And he was *pissed* about it. Wrote that it was the creation of an oligarchy, that it gave the courts too much power. But the path was laid: the courts were to be the interpreters of constitutionality.

For 200+ years, the courts have carried out this role. Our system of checks and balances has meant that the will of the majority did not overrun the rights of the minority (Benjamin Franklin famously called straight democracy "A lamb and two wolves deciding what's for dinner). Presidents have--sometimes reluctantly and resentfully--respected the rulings of the court. Where states have refused, such as Brown v. Board of Education, presidents have sent in the National Guard to enforce the law of the land.

We have convinced ourselves that this is a strong and stable system. But it is a system built on cooperation. The federal court system does not have an army; it has some marshalls, and a history of being respected.

This weekend, we came close to the edge of the administrative branch of government looking at the court system and saying, "naw, we don't have to obey you." We balanced at the edge of constitutional crisis. Through narrow obedience--interpreting the judge's ruling as local and following it in Boston--we avoided facing the question of whether this administration is going to respect the judiciary. Unless the pace of confrontation decelerates soon, that question is pretty much inevitable.

The question then will become, what will Congress do about it? How far will it allow the executive branch to go in ignoring Constitutional rights before it acts? If the court tells President Trump, "You cannot Constitutionally do this thing," and the president says, "Too bad, I'm doing it anyway," we have only Congress to check him, to legislate against whatever unconstitutional act he is taking. If he thumbs his nose at them, they are left with the power to impeach him.

Will they have the fortitude to do so? I hope they do. If they don't, the government of the United States as we have known it, is over. Whatever emerges may still look the same, but it will be a very different creature.
Not my fault

Star Wars: The new book canon

Hi LJ! Been a while. I keep meaning to get back here, but mostly I've been posting political rants on Facebook, and sharing articles is so much easier over there.

But my old Star Wars buddies from a long time ago on a service far, far away (Compuserve) have been reuniting over on Facebook. We got to talking about the new book canon, and I seem to be the only one who has done any serious reading in it, I volunteered to write up a brief synopsis of what's out there and what's worth reading.

I failed on the brief part.

So, what do you do when you've prattled on for three full pages on Word? You put it on LJ! So here is my guide to the new Star Wars canon:

Wow, there are already a lot of books. A LOT of books. Like, here’s a link to the books that are already canon:
But a ton of them are children’s books/picture books. And I’m not going to drag you through those.

Before we get to the books, however, you should know what’s considered canon in visual media. Of course, all seven movies. But also:

The Clone Wars the movie—it’s awful. But it’s better if you’ve watched The Clone Wars TV series. Not really necessary.

The Clone Wars TV series—five seasons of Anakin Skywalker. Believe it or not, you will like him a lot better if you watch it. I have now sat through the whole thing three times (with Ferrett, with Erin, and then with Amy), and there is a lot of really good stuff here. I genuinely recommend making the time to see it. Like all kid’s cartoon shows that grow into more, it starts kind of simplistic and picks up way more depth over time. It introduces a lot of really great characters into the Star Wars Galaxy—or, as we know it, Fred—and gets you rooting for them.

Star Wars Rebels—The new, and ongoing, cartoon series on Disney XD. This series starts about 5 years before A New Hope, and as it gets closer to that date is beginning to rub elbows with familiar characters from the movies. And it’s going to get closer to Rogue One events after the movie comes out, so it’s getting darker. Some really good stuff here, too.

And now, on to the books:

Dark Disciple, by Christie Golden: Occurs before Order 66. Based on a screenplay for one of the Clone Wars episodes that didn’t get made when Disney cancelled the series, it involves two characters from Clone Wars, Asajj Ventress and Quinlan Vos. Ventress was apprentice to Darth Tyranus, Vos was a Jedi. A book I enjoyed, but don’t bother reading unless you’re a Clone Wars fan.

Rogue One: Catalyst, by James Luceno: Starts shortly after the Empire is formed, this is the lead-in story to Rogue One. It tells how Galen Urso ends up helping with the building of the Death Star, why it takes 19 years to build the thing, and the political machinations of Krennic and Tarkin. I’m just about finished with it, and I think it’s a really good read. I like books that introduce us to new characters; Fred is a big galaxy, with lots of stories to tell.

Ahsoka, by E. K. Johnston: Story of Anakin Skywalker’s apprentice (yes, he was never a master; I have no idea why they gave him an apprentice, but she is a major part of Clone Wars, so deal with it). Again, not a book to read unless you are a Clone Wars fan. This one is on my Paperwhite, waiting to be read.

Lords of the Sith, by Paul S. Kemp: okay *now* we’re getting into the good stuff. Set about 5 years into the era of the Empire. Rebels take a chance on taking out Vader and the Emperor, managing to damage the ship they are in to cause a crash landing. The Emperor and Vader must get out of their predicament. Good stuff about their master/apprentice relationship, the psychological games Palpatine is playing with Vader, and some Vader being just frelling scary. Recommended as a pleasure read, particularly for you Emperor fans.

Tarkin, by James Luceno: A look at Tarkin’s rise to power, lots of flashbacks to his childhood. Imperial fans love it; I was kind of, meh.

A New Dawn, by John Jackson Miller: This is the origin story for Star Wars Rebels, how the two leaders of our little Rebel cell meet. Not well-regarded, though I thought it was all right. Read only if you are interested in Rebels.

Lost Stars, by Claudia Gray: OH MY DOG, THIS IS SO GOOD!!! This book came out with the first group of new canon books, was pitched as YA, got almost no publicity, but was *by far* the best of the books released. It starts about 10 years before ANH and ends at the Battle of Jakku. The characters are two kids growing up on a planet with the ambition to go to the Imperial Academy. They both get in, but once there, their paths diverge as one drinks the Imperial Kool-Aid and the other begins having doubts. Princess Leia makes a minor appearance, but otherwise there is really no one we know from the movies, but WOW can Claudia Gray write Star Wars. She has a terrific feel for the universe, the characters are incredibly engaging, and the insight into how people develop their worldviews is awesome. If you came to me and said, “I am only going to read one new canon novel ever,” I would thrust this one into your hands.

Battlefront: Twilight Company, by Alexander Freed: This book surprised the heck out of me. Starting in the pre-ANH timeframe and continuing through to the ongoing struggle after the Battle of Yavin, it’s a book based loosely on the videogame, and I wasn’t excited about reading it. But I borrowed the audiobook from the library and was really surprised at how engaging I found the characters. Again, none of our main characters plays much of a role in it, but a good story in the universe. And worth reading for the straight-up terrifying badassery of Vader as seen by ground troups fleeing during the battle on Hoth.

Thrawn, by Timothy Zahn: TIMOTHY ZAHN IS WRITING A NEW THRAWN BOOK! Why? Oh, did I forget to mention that Season Three of Rebels features Thrawn?! Yes, it does, and he’s dead-on Thrawn. They haven’t used him as much as I’d like yet, but he’s there and he’s great, and when they announced it at Star Wars Celebration in London I screamed, then I called Erin and she screamed. The book is coming out in April.

Heir to the Jedi, by Kevin Hearne: This is the book with Luke Skywalker on the cover with Justin Beiber hair. It’s set right after the Battle of Yavin. It’s terrible. Luke is sent off on some lame mission to fetch some supplies—a mission he is clearly unqualified for and a bad use of a budding Jedi—tries to learn the Force, eats some noodles, meets a girl, gets her killed. Y’all know what a Luke fan I am, and this book is dreadful.

The Weapon of a Jedi: A Luke Skywalker Adventure, by Jason Fry: This, on the other hand, is pretty good. One of a trio of YA novels about our fearless heroes, it paints a much more interesting picture of Luke trying to learn about the Force post-ANH. Best one of this YA trio, quick read.

Moving Target: A Princess Leia Adventure, by Cecil Castellucci & Jason Fry: Second of that trio. Forgettable. Leia does some stuff. Even reading the summary at Wookiepedia I can barely remember it.

Smuggler's Run: A Han Solo & Chewbacca Adventure, by Greg Rucka: Third of the trio. A tale of Han and Chewie having whacky adventures. Also forgettable.

Aftermath, by Chuck Wendig: Chuck got a lot of hate for this book, but I didn’t think it was that bad. Again, our main characters barely appear and we are chasing around with a boy who grows up to be Snap Wexley. His mother is a Rebel pilot, and he’s been left to shift for himself. His reprogramed battle droid, Mr. Bones, serves as his protection. The second Death Star has been destroyed, and this is about struggling to make a post-Imperial galaxy happen. Not a bad read.

Aftermath: Life Debt. By Chuck Wendig: More of the Wexley kid’s adventures with a snarky ex-Imperial. I didn’t hate this book, but neither of them really grabbed me.

Aftermath: Empire's End, by Chuck Wendig: not out yet; finishes the trilogy

Bloodline, by Claudia Gray: This is the story of the politics that led to the First Order and to Leia starting the Resistance. It is very much Leia’s story, set about 7 years before The Force Awakens. Ben Solo is already off training with Luke, Han is off on his own adventures, and Leia is left to struggle with an increasingly corrupt government. Again, Claudia Gray has a terrific handle on telling Star Wars stories, and she writes Leia very well. This is a good one, if you are interested in the politics behind TFA.

Before the Awakening, by Greg Rucka: Like the YA trio of stories of our old heroes, this is a trio of stories about our new ones, though each one short enough that it is one book. Definitely worth it to read Finn’s story—it provides a great insight into his character. Rey’s story is decent. Finn’s is much more just a “I’m fighting the First Order” story, and didn’t give me that much.

And that’s it for now. I’d also recommend the collected Darth Vader comic books, as that series has ended and it’s mostly very good.

Hope this helps!

Why should I pay?

The other day Ferrett was having a debate with someone over assorted political issues. One that came up was the Affordable Healthcare Act. This person, in their* 30s, demanded to know why they should pay for health insurance when they were young and healthy. What, exactly, were they getting out of the money they were spending for insurance?

It struck me, then, that I've heard this argument before, and been just as irritated by it.

It's the argument that retired people make when voting down school bonds: "Why should I pay for the schools anymore? My kids don't go there. I don't get anything out of it."

It's the same argument, snarled from the far ends of the bell curve.

Yeah, it's a bummer to have to pay taxes. I know. I pay lots of them. My kids aren't in school anymore. But they were. And so was I, once. And someone else footed that bill. So I don't object when it's my turn to pay for the benefit I once received.

And yes, when you're young it hardly seems fair that you have to pay for insurance that you probably won't use. But guess what, bucko? You won't be young forever. And when you aren't, someone else will be paying premiums that get spent on your health care, just like you're paying premiums now.

These systems don't work if everyone doesn't participate. I paid insurance premiums for years on when we never even met the deductible. And then there are years like the one when Ferrett had his appendix burst. Or his heart attack. We weren't financially ruined by those events, because we had insurance. And we had insurance because lots of people pay premiums and only use a fraction of that amount in a year. There was a pool of money to pay the hospital because, through a flawed system that needs reform, millions of people had our backs.

The AHA isn't perfect--the insurance companies won far too much of that battle--and I would like to see lots of reform in the way medicine works in this country. But the plain fact is that no insurance system works unless healthy people pay in. If insurance was "opt in when you get sick" the whole system would be bankrupt in no time.

So, yes, most young people are paying for a service that they, gods willing, will not be using. This year. But even setting aside accidents and the fact that youth is not a guarantee against cancer or other diseases, they are paying forward for the services that they will need far sooner than seems possible. I didn't get to nearing-60 overnight, but sometimes it feels like I did.

I take great issue with the older person who thinks it's no longer to their advantage to pay for public schools through their taxes. And I take the same issue with the younger person who thinks they shouldn't have to pay for health insurance. We're all in this together, and it's the only way these systems work.

*yes, I'm using the singular "they." It's now considered acceptable, and I try to move with the times.

The privilege you don't know you have

A couple weeks ago, our friends Nick and Heather were here visiting and we went downtown to eat lunch. After, Ferrett said that we had to take them to the most amazing men's clothing store, Albert's, which is downtown.

Albert's customers are mostly African-American, and it caters to people who want to dress with style and flash. The window displays always have suits in sherbet colors, with matching shoes. The fashion is decidedly urban, and a lot of fun.

So the four of us walk in. I immediately felt the tension in the air as the clerks all turned to look at us. It was a game day; lots of people downtown who usually aren't. This was two big, very white guys, with their wives. Were we there to ridicule? To make trouble? I could feel them holding their breath. I felt self-conscious and awkward, like I was invading in a place I shouldn't be. It took a lot for me to smile and step the rest of the way into the store.

It quickly became apparent that we were just enthusiastic shoppers, and everyone relaxed and visited with us while Ferrett tried on a flashy jacket (alas, it didn't fit him through the shoulders in a way that would have required too much tailoring) and the rest of us wandered around admiring the suits (most of which weren't in exotic colors) and shirts. It was all good, and we departed with warm well-wishes.

And as I left, I realized that, for most African-Americans, particularly black males, that tension we felt when we first entered the store is the reaction they get almost every place they go. The only difference? For them, it generally doesn't fade away. The entire time they are in a business, people are eyeing them. Tense. Waiting for something bad to happen. They face that kind of tension day after day.

Lots of people look askance at the notion of white privilege—this so-called privilege hasn't afforded them a nice car or a good job or the ability to buy a house. But that's not what I'm talking about when I talk about privilege. I'm talking about the kind of invisible ease with which people can move through life. The average white person doesn't think about the fact that they are welcome in their local grocery store. That no one follows them around, watching their every move.

That if they pick up a toy gun in the kid's section of Walmart and carry it with them to grab a gallon of milk, they don't have to worry about someone calling 911 and getting them shot dead in the automotive section.

It's these small things, so invisible as to be considered just "how life is" that I'm talking about when I talk about privilege. Yes, there was that study where they sent out identical resumes, half with white-sounding names and half with black-sounding names, and the ones with white-sounding names got responses at a rate more than double. Yes, there is the pervasive inequality in the terms for mortgages given to black and white people with the same credit scores and incomes. There are lots of those big things that need to be addressed.

But the little things, the invisible things, the things that allow white people to move through their lives unhampered, they have barriers for black people. And we need to be sensitive to that. So that it can change.

Careful there, your solipsism is showing

"Why is there only a gay pride parade? Where's my heterosexual pride parade?"

"Why is there a black history month, but not a white history month?"

"I'm a size 8. Why doesn't the body acceptance movement talk about people like me?"

"Why do you say Black Lives Matter? Don't *all* lives matter?"

I have heard all of these statements, from people saying them seriously. You know what they really boil down to?

"Why are there things in the world that aren't about me?"

And my reaction is, "My god, are you an infant?"

I'm going to let you in on a little secret: gay people, black people, fat people? They'd all be much happier if there wasn't a need for their causes. If they could all just live their lives without prejudice and fear and hatred, if they didn't feel a need for solidarity because no one shouted obscenities at them, or beat them, or killed them? If their experience wasn't ignored or denigrated?

If they got to go through life with the same kind of acceptance and safety as the average skinny white heterosexual?

Hell, they wouldn't need parades, either.

But they don't. We don't. So we have to take a stand and say, "Hey, I'm a person, and my experience is valid and important!"

That isn't saying that the experience of the skinny white heterosexual isn't valid. It's asking to be allowed the same experience.

Shouldn't we celebrate white history? We do. We have a special name for it. It's called history.

Shouldn't we celebrate smaller body sizes? We do. It's called all the fashion magazines and every department store, where the clothes will fit you.

Shouldn't we celebrate heterosexuals? WE DO. It's called every institution of family and business and society.

Shouldn't we celebrate white all lives? We. Freaking. Do. It's called watching your children walk out the door in the morning without the sick fear that a mistake will leave them lying dead in the gutter while the whole world assumes it's the child's fault.

When you protest that anyone's struggle for dignity and fair treatment isn't paying attention to you, the greed and arrogance that displays is not just stupid. It's evil. It's determined to not only keep your fair share of the good in the world; it's seeking to keep everyone else away from that goodness.

Black Lives Matter has no implicit "only"--what's implicit is the "also." If you don't see that, you're either stupid, or you're pretending not to see it so that you can hold onto your superiority in society. You genuinely believe that people who aren't like you are inherently inferior. And that is an ugly and evil thing to believe.

Hey you, Outraged Liberal! Stop making everything worse!

Today I heard about the boycott of Finding Dory because there is a lesbian couple in it for a split second. I was, naturally, outraged. I was, naturally, about to link to the article in Facebook and write a diatribe. I was, naturally, All Worked Up.

But then, quite unnaturally, I paused a moment to do a search on Twitter. A couple different searches. I found a gazillion tweets on the topic.

Almost uniformly, they were outrage at the notion that people would boycott Finding Dory and how terrible those people were. Pages and pages of outrage.

What didn't I find? Very much encouragement for actually boycotting. In fact, I found one guy who is an obvious troll, and one woman who seemed genuinely to be boycotting.

Oddly, that one real tweet was the exact same tweet that had been in the article I read about this terrible boycott--strange, if the Twittersphere is full of calls for boycott, don't you think? It had a response from only one other person. The troll's tweet had no responses at all.

But someone in a newsroom somewhere decided to write an article designed for outrage, and someone else got outraged, and then there was Mass Hysteria (TM).

So out of curiosity, I went looking for the Horrible Boycott of Cheerios over the ad with the mixed race couple. Once again, loads of outrage. Once again, little sign of people actually encouraging boycott.

The news would certainly have you believe that All Those White Christians are out there hating on blacks and gays. But when The Daily Show went to rural Mississippi and asked people how they felt about gay marriage, there was lots of, "okay good for them."

I'm reminded of being in Israel as the wall was being built. The Israelis I talked to about relations were uniformly of the opinion that they had to find a way to live in harmony, that the wall wasn't going to work, and that most of their experience interacting with Palestinians was positive. Not the picture that is painted by the government or the news.

Could it possibly be that there isn't as much divisiveness and hatred than we are being sold? And are we making that rift larger by helping to blow these stories out of proportion?

Yes, there is hatred, and yes there is prejudice and the KKK and Westboro. But we're allowing ourselves to believe that those outliers are the mainstream. And we're making it worse by linking to fake outrage.

The next time you see something that makes your blood boil, don't just click "Share" and add your own fury to the screed. Take a minute to see how true the claim is. And if it's not true, don't share it. Instead, go looking for a story filled with positivity, particularly one that involves a group of people who you wouldn't generally consider allies. They are out there--the world is filled with people of faith doing good works and reaching out in support of others.

But it's not as glamorous as outrage and disgust. It doesn't get the kind of clicks that hate-baiting gets. So it needs a lot more help being seen.

I don't think most of America is as far apart as the news outlets and the politicians would like us to believe. And I'm tired of playing into their hands to the detriment of society. I believe in the power of good works, and the general decency of most people.

Let's stop feeding the trolls.