A Few Answers To Questions You Always Wondered About

June 20, 2018 | No Comments » | Topics: Answers

What is the modus operandi of these Russian troll farms?

The idea is pretty simple: By imitating “normal Americans” and then espousing radical and extreme ideas, they were convincing real normal americans that those radical and extreme ideas were “normal american” ideas.

The idea was to drive people farther towards their fringe elements. If you were left of center, they wanted you to see prejudice, sexism and racism in everything and everyone. Right of center, they wanted you to see America “under attack from all sides” by Muslims, Liberals, whatever. If you’re black, they wanted to convince you the problem is white people. If you’re white, they wanted to convince you the problem was black people. They wanted to create more extremists, thereby destabalizing the nation.

This was elaborated in their military manual The Foundations of Geopolitics :

Russia should use its special services within the borders of the United States to fuel instability and separatism, for instance, provoke “Afro-American racists”. Russia should “introduce geopolitical disorder into internal American activity, encouraging all kinds of separatism and ethnic, social and racial conflicts, actively supporting all dissident movements – extremist, racist, and sectarian groups, thus destabilizing internal political processes in the U.S. It would also make sense simultaneously to support isolationist tendencies in American politics”.

Bonus, they did the same thing in the UK and got Brexit off the ground. That too was elaborated in the book.

The United Kingdom should be cut off from Europe.

That’s Brexit. That was a Russian goal.

All this to say that this is why we should be careful to remain objective and rational. Because it’s too easy to get wound up and angry.



Why do people stay in abusive relationships?

Don’t judge it till you’ve been in one of these things. A lot of these people start out as absolute saints. They’re SO kind, SO forgiving, SO loving, SO giving…for like, 4 months. And you think, this person seems to be a better person than me. I get tired, impatient, grumpy, hangry, and (s)he never does! Wow, I’m lucky to be with this person! (S)he makes ME want to be a better person! And everyone in the surrounding community just LOVES this person.

Then, during month 5 or so, they do something strange. You think, hm, maybe s(he) was just tired. We all have bad days, and you forgive whatever it was as a small, uncharacteristic incident. Then it, or something like it, happens again. But (s)he has been SO understanding of your many little flaws, you don’t want to mention it! When it happens a third time, you go, ok, now I probably need to say something to this person. So you do, and your abuser feels incredibly betrayed, and reacts such that you feel guilty/sad/scared and never want to criticize them again.

One of the things about a lot of abusers is they really want to look perfect all of the time. And they’re good at it! That’s why everyone loves them! But nobody’s perfect all the time, and if you spend a lot of time with someone, you’ll see the facade fade. First just for a few minutes, then more frequently for longer durations. If you see them behaving imperfectly, they get mad at YOU. They can’t accept their own imperfections, so they hate it when someone else sees that they aren’t perfect. You start to notice that this person doesn’t have any close friends – they are very popular, but in a surface kind of way. Important relationships like parents, siblings, childhood friends, etc, are almost all estranged. When they explain why, they make it sound like their dad/mom/siblings/childhood friends were completely toxic (and maybe they were!), and you think, wow, what a strong person to have gotten out of that unscathed!

Then they do more things that are just on the edge of abuse. But you don’t define them as “on the edge of abuse” because maybe you don’t have the vocabulary for it. You just know you’re uncomfortable and starting to feel unhappy and controlled and hurt. So you try to talk about it, but (s)he twists your words so you don’t even recognize them, taking you down rabbit holes and blind alleyways and making accusations about your personality and your character and your behavior that…just…maybe…might be true? And because you’re introspective and you want to be a better person you try to take in their feedback and get better, for their sake and your own. This is an opportunity for self-improvement. You finally have someone who cares about you enough to grow with you and tell you how the things you do affect him/her/everyone around you because actually you’re a worthless piece of shit who is totally unaware of how shitty and lame you are…ahem wait no, that’s not what (s)he said, was it? And (s)he actually brought up some really good points about my own behavior. Maybe I’m actually the abuser. And all the sudden you notice that this person is criticizing your friends and family, making little jabs at them, revealing all the ways they aren’t good friends, telling you how your friends are actually really manipulative and don’t much care about you. And you go, hummm, maybe so, I have been nursing some little wounds and hurt feelings. And soon you find it’s just you and this person, who’s increasingly behaving in allllllmost abusive ways. You’re isolated. You chose your relationship over your family friends, or you only interact in a surface way with your family and friends, because anything else feels like cheating for some reason. And now (s)he’s made him/herself almost completely indispensable in your life. At his or her insistence, you’ve mixed finances, employment, projects…because that’s what good couples do, right? But all of this intertwined life stuff gives this person increasing control over your life…

you get the picture. It’s not so easy to see it from the inside.



What’s the difference between Nationalism and Patriotism?

Nationalism is actually the enemy of true patriotism, IMHO, because of its twisted and parasitically passive nature.

A nationalist believes their country is the best and that’s that. It’s just the best. Doesn’t matter what the day-to-day life is like, doesn’t matter what they’ve offered up, doesn’t matter at all if no one else wants anything to do with your country; it’s the best because it’s the best. It demands nothing of you other than belief, and a desire to attack anyone who wants to pollute (aka immigrate to) your country or talk badly of it (aka insinuate it isn’t perfect). If it’s imperfect, it’s because of pollution from outsiders, plain and simple.

True Patriotism, IMHO, is about being your best in order to honor the ideals of your country. It acknowledges the past and the horrors that have happened and seeks to ensure that those stains do not bleed into the future. The nationalist doesn’t demand anything better of their country and this is poison to it. It negates improvement. It’s already the best so how can it improve?

A patriot says, we are great but we need to work hard to be better.

The nationalist says, we are already the best, how dare you say we need to change?



What does it feel like to give birth?

My water broke before anything else happened. I was in bed, awake because I couldn’t sleep of course, and it was 3:33am. I was on my right side and it felt the way I imagine it’d feel if there were a very small water balloon between my pelvic bone and someone pulled on the knotted end of the water balloon until it broke off at the funnel cleanly and all at once. I heard a “puuhp” sound in my head, but just in my head. Like how it sounds when you touch your lips together and put very light pressure behind them to make them pop open, but no air. I lay there a moment thinking very clearly, wow, my water just broke, but convincing myself there was no way because this wasn’t Hollywood and I was early. After a few minutes I felt wetness and figured I should get up to check. In the bathroom my underwear and shorts were soaked. I changed them, put in a pad, and waited to see if contractions came. They didn’t. I went in the kitchen and ate pie.

That was Sunday morning. Skip forward to feeling light period cramps all Monday, but nothing bothersome. I napped a lot as I was alone and had spent Sunday evening trying to convince L&D that my water had broken (they ended up not believing me and sending me home). By the time my husband got home Monday evening I was getting frequent cramps that felt like there was a very large hand inside my abdomen (wrist at my pelvic floor, finger tips stretched to the bottom of my ribs) that would go from being fully open (no pain) to clenched fist (taking my insides with it and squeezing). As my early labor progressed the clenched fist got tighter more frequently and stayed clenched longer. When I couldn’t breathe or stretch my legs out through a contraction (I wanted to curl up in a ball when they hit) I knew it was time to go in. I live two blocks from the hospital – a 5 minute drive. By the time I was in triage I had to grunt through the pain to keep from yelling out. By the time I was admitted it felt like my whole body was being squeezed into the palm of that hand – like it wanted to be smaller but there was something inside pushing outward making me bigger. I threw up five times trying to walk the halls.

During active labor, contractions felt like my entire upper half was being sucked through a pin sized hole between my legs. And that my head had to go through first. And for it to get there it had to go through the center of my body such that all of me was turning inside out against my will. Like a Jack in the Box being shoved straight down, back into the tin. I remember thinking oh my god. I am going to die. My own head is going to get stuck behind my own ribs and I am going to burst out of my own stomach like in Alien. It felt like it was going on forever. Like it would never end. It lasted less than two hours.

And then I got my epidural and I started shivering uncontrollably. I tried holding onto the bed to make it stop and thinking man, this is hilarious. I literally cannot stop shaking. And feeling like my body was trying to poop a really big poop. And none of it hurt. And it was wonderful.

Pushing felt good. I mean not like… it wasn’t like getting a foot massage… but it felt satisfying. Like how it’s satisfying to finally get to scratch something that’s been itching. Or like when you’re talking to someone and they spit on your face and you know they did it but they’re still talking to you and it’s all you can think about, and then after what feels like forever they look away and you finally get to wipe away the spit. Like, it’s still gross, but it feels good to get to do something about it. And I remember feeling him being born, but there was no pain. I wasn’t numb at all though. I could feel everything. I just couldn’t feel the pain. It’s like when you’re under water and you move your limbs super slow, you can feel the wetness but you can’t feel the water as you move through it. Kind of like that.

Anyway. It’s hard to remember so much. Even now I think back and second guess myself. Details – times – sequence of events. I’m sure I’m mixing up a lot of the specifics. But these things I remember for sure. It was crazy.

– ernieball