Saturday, April 20, 2019

Honey-Do

It is amazing how much sexism there is when you take the time to listen. Sexism that goes unnoticed by most people.

This morning on NPR I heard a story about violence agaisnt women along the U.S. Mexican border. Certainly all violence is tragic but throughout the whole story they never once mentioned violence against men. And of course the vast majority of violence is committed against men. The reality is that in our society women's lives are viewed as more important than men's lives. It is such a fundamental mental construct that it is shared by the entire political spectrum from the most conservative to the most liberal. How many people complain that 99.99% of military deaths are male?

Similarly I heard a woman at work state that she had a weekend honey-do list for her husband. It made me cringe. How can people think it is terrible when a man says he can't cook, change a diaper, or do laundry yet it is okay for woman to not know how to use a screwdriver or hammer?

It we are going to end sexism people need to start paying attention more.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Beauty

I saw a segment on the news in the U.K. about how it is not just female actors who feel more and more that they need to be in peak physical shape to get good roles but also male actors. The whole point of the segment was to convey the non-intuitive somewhat shocking message that it isn't just women who feel pressured to look good. It made me laugh a bit because of course male actors are just as conscious of body image as are woman actors.

They did a comparison of James Bond as portrayed by Daniel Craig vs. Sean Connery.  Craig, if you did not know, is way more in shape than Connery ever was.

There is a currently popular so called fat acceptance movement. No doubt due to the our expanding collective waistlines. But if you think about it is there really any difference between being in good physical shape and say, being well groomed? In the Craig vs. Connery example, it was stated that the attractiveness of men used to be more about how confident they were and how they carried themselves rather than how ripped they were. So does than mean that we are prejudiced against men who are less confident? What about other factors such as height or tone of voice?  Would a shy, short, fat, bald man who stutters ever be selected to play James Bond? I think not despite the fact that a person has no control over any of those factors. And even for factors that one has control over such as grooming, or indeed physical fitness, do they really reflect a person's worth? No, they do not.

But let's not get to hung up on the matter. It is all about context. I have had and have many friends and  work colleges who are of varying girth, height, or other physical characteristic as well as varying levels of self-confidence and even emotional stability. It doesn't really matter all that much. But I admit that when it comes to romantic relationships, it does matter. There are people who I would not go out with because of how they look and/or act.  I think everyone is that that way. Maybe that is why successful relationships occur more often between people who are the same category. Not just physically but intellectually, emotionally and ethically as well.

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Driven By Greed

Lies, fraud and driven by greed. An apt description of family court but those are the accusations against pharmaceutical company Insys Therapeutics which has been accused of bribing doctors and deceiving insurance companies to sell an opioid painkiller that is up to 100 times stronger than morphine. The founder of the company and its top leaders are now being tried in criminal court

There is an underlying mental construct that is the root of, for lack of a better term, evil. This evil construct causes people to seek to prove they are better than others. The expression of the construct can range from shoplifting, embezzlement, bullying, violence, discrimination, fraud, perjury, or even just being mean. Hurting others, monetarily, emotionally or physically makes such people feel superior.

The irony of course is that in seeking to prove they are better than others, they only achieve the opposite.

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Civil Rights Or Criminal Justice?

There are two approaches I could take in my struggle agaisnt the injustices I have experienced from Spring and the family court system

The first is civil rights.  Is it fair that the fast majority of marital assets that are divided at the time of divorce were earned by men? Is it fair and right that men pay 98% of alimony? Is it fair that courts are more tolerant of women committing perjury than men? Is it fair that women are viewed by the courts as being the "lesser sex" and as such need to be provided for by the man?

The answer is of course no and many people would agree with that intellectually but in their hearts it just isn't an issue. Just like it isn't an issue that 99.99% of military deaths are of men or that the vast majority of victims of violence are men. We are sadly at least generation away from treating men and women as equals. Once people view the gender gap in military deaths and alimony with the same outrage they view gender pay gaps and gender discrepancies in leadership positions in industry and politics, then the civil rights approach might make sense.

Instead I have taken a criminal justice approach. Although Spring committed perjury this is very difficult to prove as she can always just claim that is what she believed even f the kids testify they absolutely believe she knowing lied. However, her lawyer Nelly Wince is another matter. She committed numerous acts of fraud and for at least one I have unquestionable evidence. To be clear the obstacles are formidable. Crime has been institutionalized in family court. In Minnesota, complaints that lawyers violated their rules of professional conduct almost never lead to discipline of the lawyer in question unless her or she has already been convicted of a crime. The county attorney's office has stated, quite falsely, that there is no law against a lawyer knowingly lying in the courtroom.  They have also stated, again falsely, that fraud upon the court does not exist in Minnesota statutes. Fraud by lawyers is so rampant that the very people tasked with enforcing the law fail to even see it as crime.

The road to justice has been long and hard and the end is shrouded in mist. But it is the right road to be on.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Florida Tries Again

Alimony reform in Florida has a long history. Of failure. But they do keep trying. A new bill has been introduced in the Senate in the seemingly annual attempt to make alimony more fair. 

Of interest in the article cited is the persistent but quite often false notion that the only people who receive permanent alimony  are those who  have stayed, "home for years to raise children". In my case, like many others, the spouse receiving alimony was not the one who was the primary parent during the marriage. (Although I am from Minnesota not Florida, our state laws are similar) 


The problem with alimony is mostly caused by the fact that it is awarded in unpredictable and inexplicable ways. There is no consistency. The exact same situation may result in no alimony with one judge but permanent alimony from another.  In Minnesota, we used to have the same situation with child support. However there is now a formula. You can argue, and many do, that the formula needs to be improved, but at least everyone knows what it is. 

With alimony it is a black box. Judges are allowed to make awards based on how well they know the litigants or lawyers, race, religion, campaign contribution they received or even whether they happen to be hung over on the day they rule. There is zero accountability. In fact no one even keeps track of what the alimony awards are.  This creates a situation that is not only ripe for corruption but bursting with it. 

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Too Much Evil

At times it is hard to believe how utterly evil humans can be. In the normally very peaceful and tolerant country of New Zealand 50 people were killed by a white nationalist.

How does this happen? How does one become so filled with hate that they can randomly kill people they do not even know, people who range from ages 3 to 70?

I see an underlying common mental construct that leads to such evil actions. That construct is the believe that you are more important than anyone else. It is putting oneself above all others. This believe is a continuum that ranges from the petty such as knowingly cheating on your taxes, to people such as Spring committing perjury and Nelly Wince committing criminal fraud, all the way through to people who become so self-centered they believe they have the right to take the lives of anyone they choose. 

How do we fight such evil? We will never be able to totally prevent it but the rule of law was designed to minimize the negative impact of such tendencies. If laws are fair, enforced and understood it will stop people such as Spring, Nelly Wince and others who so flagrantly break it for personal gain. Yet, I am not sure what could have been done to prevent the shooter in New Zealand. Perhaps education or exposure to other cultures. Perhaps nothing could have been done. That is the most depressing thought.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

The Male Only Draft

It wasn't that long ago that women were finally even allowed to be in military combat positions; now a federal judge has ruled that excluding women from draft registration is unconstitutional. It is about time. The male only draft was one of the few laws left on the books that is overtly discriminatory.

The case was brought by a men's rights group. I can't help but think it would have been better if a woman's rights group had taken it up at the same time as when they advocated for the right to the work in combat positions. But I'll take it - progress is progress.

We are very close to eliminating gender discrimination in the law. Now if could only eliminate it in practice. We have made progress. Law and medical schools now graduate as many, often more, women than men.  Yet we still see fewer women than men in many positions ranging from the CEOs to construction workers. Likewise we see many fewer men than women who work as nurses and elementary school teachers. And of course there are very few combat soldiers who are women. We also need to see either as many women pay alimony as men or better yet eliminate it entirely.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

More Cassie Jaye

The more I learn about Cassie Jaye, whose film The Red Pill I posted about last week, the more fascinating I find her.  She gave a incredible TEDx talk in 2017 that I highly encourage you to watch. (by the way TED talks are a great and fun way to learn - I love them!)

In her speech Jaye talks about how she went from believing the men's rights movement was misogynistic to realizing that equality means equality for all. Yes, women are discriminated against because they are women but it is also true that men are discriminated against because they are men. Both are wrong. Jaye can explain much better than me. Enjoy.


Sunday, February 24, 2019

Cassie Jaye - Partisanship vs. Balance

One of the unfortunately trends in our society is that we favor partisanship over balance. In politics, people who agree with some Republican positions and some Democratic positions have been purged by their parties for not being loyal enough. Extremists rise to power and moderates are expelled. 

The happens in gender discussions as well.  Most people view feminists as the opposite of those who advocate for men's rights. Rarely does someone advocate agaisnt discrimination whether it be against women or men. Rarely do people working to prevent violence against women recognize that violence against men by women even happens. Rarely do men advocating for men's rights argue that we need more women running companies, in political office and in the military. Rarely do feminists state it is unacceptable that males make up 98+% of deaths in the military.

Cassie Jayne is an feminist filmmaker who made the documentary film The Red Pill (available on Amazon for free with Prime) on the men's rights movement.  Making the film actually charged her thinking about gender discrimination. She went from a partisan to a more balanced viewpoint. Sadly she has been criticized, even vilified for doing so.

Intelligence, honesty and integrity are sadly undervalued traits.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Unintended #MeToo Consequnces

The #MeToo movement has certainly brought to light many crimes and unethical practices that have been too long tolerated in our society. Which is good. Very good. But we should also recognize that like anything else bad people use it as just another way to commit crimes and unethical actions. Even if only 2% of accusations are false that means that 1 our 50 people accused have their life unjustly ruined.

But there are more subtle downsides to the movement or more accurately the subversion of the movement as Bloomberg journalists Gillian Tan and Katia Porzecanski highlight in, Wall Street Rule for the #MeToo Era: Avoid Women at All Cost.

Because an accusation alone can ruin a career and destroy a family and the reality is that there are false accusations, men often go to extraordinary lengths to avoid any situation which could lead to a false accusation. Things like going to dinner with a female co-worker on a business trip or socializing after hours. The very things that often help advance one's career.

The reality is that many good men are paranoid about false accusations which leads them to exclude women more. This has the effect of making it harder for women to achieve equality in the workplace. And men are right to be paranoid. No one knows the rate of false #MeToo accusations is; however, we do know that the rate of false accusations in divorce court is high, anywhere from 70 to 95%. Nearly everyone has either gone through divorce or knows someone who has. In just my own case, all the people who I have talked to about it understand that false accusations in divorce court are common and devastating. I suspect that even Spring's family and friends understand the reality of what she did. Avoiding any situation that might place you a position to be falsely accused is a rational reaction.

If we want equality for all then we need justice for all. At one time in our country just an accusation of a rape against a white women by a black man would result in a lynching. We are repeating that with false #MeToo accusations and false abuse claims in divorce cases.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

The Lauren Clark Way

Lauren Clark in a move somewhat like Riley North in the movie Peppermint but sans the violence went public, very public when she was assaulted, fondled and robbed  by an attacker while she was out for a run in Washington, D.C.

Clark likely only escaped being raped because she fought back.

The assistant, Jayro Cruz, was caught and confessed. Despite Cruz's history of sexual assaults he as sentence to only 10 days in jail and these were worked around his schedule as a rising chef in the restaurant world. Cruz repeatedly violated his prohibition yet received no further punishment.

Clark eventually took to contacting the restaurant he worked at and passed out flyers. If she couldn't get justice from the court she was going to make sure everyone knew who Cruz was and what he had done.  Way to go!

I have often thought of taking the same path. The lawyers, judges and others who have acted unethically and quite often criminally in my case have caused so much pain to so many that it is truly tragic they have only got away with their actions but have financially benefited from them. The court seems incapable of acting in a just manner. So maybe they way to proceed is to quit using pseudonyms and start using the real names of the guilty.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Like I Always Say...

Like I always say, if you want to know if an action is inappropriate swap the gender/race/national origin/gender preference and see if you think the same way.

The comedian/actor Amy Schumer thinks it is hilarious that in college she took advantage of a drunk male student. By advantage I mean sexual advantage. If the genders were reversed pretty much everyone would call it rape. Actually it is pretty clearly legally rape but we unfortunately do not live in a society that has equal rights for men and women.

Maybe the student Schumer took advantage of should sue Schumer for all the money she has made using the story in her comedy routine. Maybe Schumer should never work in entertainment again. Maybe she should go to jail.

Maybe she should hook up with Harvey Weinstein given how much they seem to have in common.

It is pretty disgusting and disheartening to learn that a person who complains about being treated in a discriminatory manner doesn't  actually care about what is right. They just want to be the abuser not the victim. 

Sadly this is no surprise to me given that the LPRB predominately operates in a manner exactly opposite to its purpose - they protect lawyers from the consequences of their criminal and unethical actions rather than censure them for such actions. Or for that matter the entire family justice system which  rather than operating to ensure justice is instead itself rife with criminal and unethical activity.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

MLK Day

I attended an MLK Day event the night before the holiday which was filled with music from around the world and presentations on those who, like Martin Luther King, seek justice through non-violent means. It was quite moving.

It is my belief that the root cause of racist, criminal and violent thinking and actions is a common mental construct that puts the self above others. It is a lack of compassion and empathy. It is a belief that I am better than you and that my group however defined - nationality, skin color, economic status - is better than yours.

A compassionate and empathetic person does not view skin color any differently than hair color. A compassionate and empathetic person does not view someone with less wealth as less worthy.

During the slavery period in the United States, the poorest white person in the south took comfort in knowing that it least he or she was not black. Such thinking is a coping mechanism to make one feel better about oneself.

Wouldn't it be nice if the way everyone felt better about themselves was because they were more compassionate, empathetic and nice? That is the dream.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Peppermint

On a long business flight last week I watched the movie Peppermint. It was an interesting movie to watch, especially for me. In the movie three members of a drug gang murder the husband and daughter of Riley North, played by Jennifer Garner. North is able to identify the killers; however, they are able to escape prosecution due to the workings of corrupt judges, lawyers and law enforcement personnel. I can relate.

North disappears for 5 years and then on the anniversary of her husband and daughter's deaths, the three killers are found murdered. Guess who did it? She then moves on to the judge. And then up the drug gang to the leader. She leaves an impressive trail of dead bad guys.

The story reminded me a lot of the The Count of Monte Cristo in that she used the tools of her oppressors against them.

The movie was enjoyable but disturbing as well. Even through the corruption I see and in many cases have experienced first hand in the legal system, if not overtly as bad as is depicted in the movie, results just as much pain, suffering and death. Yet I would never go down the path of violence. One, it is not in my nature. Two, violence, even when done against an evil person, tends to increase violence  in general. But most importantly, eliminating a few bad people is a small fix. What I want to see, is the corruption eliminated so that others in the future do not have to suffer as I and so many others have. Unfortunately there will always be some bad people. Our legal and law enforcement system is suppose to minimize the harm such people can do. When these systems themselves because criminally corrupt, they act like a metastasizing cancer vastly increasing crime and suffering throughout society.

Although I do admit that I hope people like Nelly Wince, Judge Mearly, the members of the Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board and all the others who acted unethically or criminally agaisnt me and my kids see Peppermint and wonder if one day someone they hurt will see the movie and come for them. They do not need to worry about me, as I say I do not have a violent nature, but it isn't like I am their only victim.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Life Sentence - Florida's Alimony Problem Documentary

Florida has been trying for years to reform alimony. Twice bills have passed the legislature only to be vetoed by Governor Rick Scott. The all volunteer Florida Family Law Reform PAC has released a new video detailing the dire need for reform. It is well worth a watching. 

Life Sentence - Florida's Alimony Problem Documentary


As an extra bonus, at a manager conference last week we were shown the following video which is actually an ad for a Danish television station. It is possibly the best best diversity training you will ever have. Like many people from work, I have shared it with my kids.


Saturday, January 5, 2019

Equality Is Good And It Is Good For Everyone

In discussing the movie RBG, which I wrote about in my last post,  I am always surprised and a little disappointed how many people define equality as better for them rather than better for everyone. Equality is not a zero sum issue. Equality helps everyone.

Many people view gender inequality as only hurting women. They seems unable or unwilling to admit that the very same inequality is the reason that only men are drafted, virtually all deaths in the military are men and nearly all alimony is paid for by men. That doesn't sound like such a good deal for men to me.  Or how about the classic line when a ship is sinking, you know it - women and children first. Are men's lives somehow less valuable than women's?

The benefits of equality actually go much deeper. Although I no longer have direct reports at work when I did, some of my best people were women. If the pool to select from was limited to only men, it would have negatively impacted my career because much of my success was dependent on the performance of the people I hired.

Equality is good and it is good for everyone.

Clearly there is discrimination against women. I would love to see half our politicians to be women and half of executives, indeed all workers, be women. I also want to see half of housework and child caring to be done by men. And I want to see half of yard work to be done by women. I want half of combat soldiers to be women. Currently half of new doctors are women which is great. But lets also see half of nurses be men. I want alimony to be paid by women half the time or better yet have it eliminated entirely as the whole basis of alimony is that women are unable to take care of themselves.

Expanding beyond gender I would like to see equality for all races and sexual orientation. Every profession should reflect the demographics of society.

The path to achieving equality and justice for all is not to solely focus on the impact of inequality for one group. It is to recognize that all inequality is unjust.