Category Archives: Guest Writer

Right Meets Wrong

Idiots

By PHILIP HERON

This isn’t about policy, or even partisan politics. This is about right and wrong, and it’s personal. Consider what we have endured for the past six months, our lives turned upside down by the coronavirus (COVID-19).

Businesses and schools have been shuttered; millions have lost their jobs. The rest of us are working remotely, or from home. We no longer move about freely. Shopping is now an ordeal. We don’t go out to a restaurant, no movie theaters, no sports, no concerts, no museums. We have nixed family gatherings, canceled summer vacations. Couples have put off weddings; funeral services have been held in private or canceled altogether.

Heron

Millions have been sickened; more than 180,000 have been killed. In our fight against COVID-19, the unwavering mantra has remained the same: avoid large gatherings; don a mask; practice social distance; wash your hands.

On the final night of the Republican Convention, President Trump threw a party for 1,500 people on the White House lawn, an act most saw as a blatant violation of the spirit, if not the actual letter, of the Hatch Act.

He used the People’s House as a political prop, replete with large banners bearing his name, as if it were just one more of his gaudy hotels. There was little in the way of social distancing, and even fewer masks. People sat packed in shoulder-to-shoulder for hours.

And why?

Because that is what Donald Trump wanted.

It’s clear Donald Trump’s life has not been affected one iota by the coronavirus. And he cares about as much for what the rest of us have endured.

Philip Heron is the recently retired editor in chief of the Delaware County (Pa.) Times in suburban Philadelphia

No Getting Around The Facts

Geri 3

By GERI A. SAWICKI

In America and around the world, we are more urban dwellers than rural, the highest percent ever: 85% of the world’s population lives in cities and megalopolises including suburbs today.

People in cities tend to be more tolerant because they live in a diverse society up close, every day.

We ARE the majority of Americans.

To hear the right take up Nixon’s claim of a “silent majority” is not anywhere near true.

Trump has emboldened the hate speech by his own words and actions, encouraged violence in his name, and started acting like the lowlife thug that he is. Unfortunately, there are a lot of poorly educated white people out there who think he is one of them, because he sounds like them, who think they’ve been cheated out of their share of riches by scapegoating anyone and everyone.

This is nonsense, because he’s making their lives worse, with his pandering to the oligarchs while whipping up his followers to fight a battle for him and his cronies in which they have no skin.

He may be stupid, but he is also desperate, and he is going all out as a crazy despot right now. The outright insane accusations he hurls at Biden are so far out that I’m pretty sure anyone with a brain is going to realize he has gone over the edge.

I hope it happens before he can drag out his civilian white-boy private army on the streets to start a civil war.

I think he is unraveling right now, in public, if you listened to his last interview with Fox where he said Biden has unknown people on the streets running his campaign!

We burst out laughing when we heard him double down on that one, along with Biden wasn’t really born where he was born, because his family moved when he was a kid. He’s recycling birther theories too wacky for reality.

Geri A. Sawicki is a professor of Sociology at Modesto (Cal.) Junior College

Remembering John Lewis

Ben and John
By BEN BLOCK
It’s hard to find the words to capture how this loss is processing in my mind, but here we go.
They say “you should never meet your heroes” — work for them?
Sheesh.
The above photo was taken back in 2014, the first time I met my political hero: John Lewis.
Just six months after graduating college with degrees in political science and communications, I was lucky enough to find myself in a meeting across from one of the most influential figures in American history (starstruck would be an understatement to express how I felt in that moment).
Hearing John Lewis tell his well-documented story that wintry afternoon on Capitol Hill is a memory I hope to one day share with my children. You could hear the conviction in his voice when he instructed our team to not give up hope, keep moving forward, and go get into some good trouble.
I’ve never seen anyone give a pump-up speech quite like John Lewis. He’d have you smiling at one moment, then crying the next. He’d toss in a goofy line to bring some levity to his otherwise serious remarks, and by the end he’d leave you feeling prepared to run through a wall for the causes you believe in.
His love of the human spirit was unmistakable, and his optimistic outlook for the future was non-negotiable.
As a wet-behind-the-ears postgrad and new to the political arena, I naturally leapt at the chance to shake hands with a titan of the civil rights movement, say thank you, and grab a pic together. Trying to maintain some semblance of professionalism since, I resisted asking for photos after that first introduction, but many fond encounters would ensue.
Without fail, I’d still pinch myself every time this celebrated public servant from the Peach State graced our team with his presence.
Over the past 5 years, Mothership Strategies and the DCCC each blessed me with the opportunity to spend time behind the scenes with someone who I never could have imagined getting closer to than perhaps while completing reading assignments back in high school.
But let me tell you, those textbooks did not do justice to the greatness that was this man — a living legend who seemingly walked the same earth and breathed the same air as the rest of us, yet created progress at a clip that we may never see of its kind again.
When he’d walk into the office, every face in the room would light up. When he’d speak, I swear you could hear a pin drop. He was humble as all get-out. His joy was contagious, his passion inspiring.
He was a deeply good man who was truly in his line of work for all the right reasons. Waking up poised to fight the good fight and help others to the best of his ability became a decades-long daily habit.
To know the congressman was to admire the congressman. He did not demand respect — he commanded it.
We may have lost a light last night, but John Lewis lit a fire in so many young people that his legacy will surely endure forever.
And I for one am feeling fired up and ready to go get into some good trouble in his honor.
Thank you, Congressman Lewis.
REST IN POWER!

Hearing in the Covid-19 Age

Kim

By KIM FISHMAN

MINNEAPOLIS — We are all starting to walk around with face-masks to protect us from this horrible Coronavirus. The Coronavirus does kill people who are infected although not always but enough. So the entire world is shutting down businesses, socializing  and  going out.  We are protecting one another by wearing face-masks and distancing one another from each other.

While walking through a grocery store the other day, someone with a face-mask said something to me and I had no idea what he said.   Then I was texting with a friend who has a severe hearing loss and I suggested we go for a walk while socially distancing and wearing face-masks.  I joked and said “that will be a lot of fun Lucy, because you won’t hear a word I say”.   She actually said she could hear from 6′ but if I wore a face-mask it would be nearly impossible to communicate.

If you can’t understand people wearing a face-mask and at a distance, please don’t worry that your hearing  is getting worse.   Below are the reasons why you are having more trouble hearing and some suggestions to help you.

  1. Talking from a distance–  the mics on the hearing aids do better and pick up sound more clearly when you are within 6′ of the sound source.  If you are more than 6′ away you lose the soft sounds that don’t travel to your microphones, especially those high frequencies.

Solution:  This is an easy solution; if we have to social distance for much longer, one solution for 6′ conversations is the remote mics.  Almost all new hearing aids and some older ones have a remote microphone you can buy.  Talk to me or other audiologists to inquire.

2. Listening to Someone with a Covered Mouth – When you are talking to someone where you can’t see their lips then you can’t read their lips either.  You say you aren’t good at lipreading?   Even if you are not good at lipreading, you actually do get  some  information from people’s lips and mouth.  You can see on the mouth some formations to tell if they had used a “p” from a “s” for example.  You can also tell if the person is smiling while saying what they are saying or serious, which can change the inflection and meaning.  For instance they could say “I am fine” with a smile or “I am fine” with a serious scared look.

Ultimately, this can affect your speech intelligibility and speech understanding.  A solution for this is to ask another question to confirm what you thought you heard.  You could say “did you say you were fine and are you really feeling OK?”  This is always a nice response when you are really listening to what they say.  If you say “did you say”.. and were wrong, then the person will repeat for you what they said.

You could also let the person know that you have a hearing loss and you didn’t understand what they had just said.  Perhaps they will lift up there mask for one second and repeat, while taking a step back. 🙂

3Wearing a face-mask can muffle one’s speech – If you are listening to someone with a face-mask, just be aware that the speech can also be muffled.   Truly muffled speech is hard for anyone to understand, even people who have normal hearing.  Muffled speech is not clear and if you wear a hearing aid, it isn’t because your hearing is muffling the speech, it is because of the face mask.  The face mask isn’t allowing the words to get projected and the cloth muffles the sound.

A second reason for muffled speech is that the person who is talking behind the mask may not be able to open their mouth enough and articulate.  Poor articulation along with lack of projection muffles the speech and is hard for anyone to understand what is being said.

Solution for the muffled speech:  This is a tough situation as I said for anyone listening to this type of speech.  I would go with the direct approach and just let the person know I can’t understand what they are saying.  Let them know it is hard to understand people with a face-mask on, just in case they don’t know that and secondly let them know you have a hearing loss.  Again know that people with normal hearing will also have a hard time.

These are really tough times.  We have to wear masks and we have to stay a social distance away from one another to #FlattenTheCurve.  It is important for our lives and others.  It is better that you stay at home, call a friend on the phone with your Bluetooth streaming, set up your TV streamer and watch a good movie, read a book, listening to music, go for a walk, do yoga or some other exercise on YouTube, Facebook, or do something like play a game with your household family member than getting out talking to others anyway.   Go easy on yourself and of course be kind to others.

Looking forward to seeing you all when Covid 19 times are lightened up.  Can’t wait!

Powerless Empowerment

LisaMossie

By LISA MOSSIE

I can’t think of a better metaphor for the shallowness of our political culture than the recent Golden Globes Awards show.  We’ll get back to the “President Oprah” moment in a bit, but first, let’s look at “Time’s Up,” which was launched by Hollywood Starlets dressing in black to “raise awareness” on an issue about which they were all already aware.  The irony of these starlets protesting their objectification by wearing the most revealing of outfits was apparently lost on most observers. But let’s hear those women roar, right?

If 2018 is finally going to be the often promised “Year of the Woman,” then let’s hope it evolves into something deeper than its flimsy window-dressing beginnings.

Nowhere is the shallowness of this movement more effectively illustrated than in my own township of Upper Providence, Montgomery County.  As one of the Republican candidates for Supervisor in my township, I knocked on thousands of doors.  I was getting very positive responses during my canvassing, until about two weeks before Election Day.  It was then that undecided women who answered the door started telling me that they “would love to vote for me,” but they couldn’t vote for a Republican.  They “had to send a message.”  These words were repeated verbatim at several stops, and then again on Election Day at the polls.

“I’m sorry, but I have to send a message.”

Presumably, that message was to Trump, who was not, to my knowledge, on the ballot in my township.

Nevertheless, they persisted.  The Democrats’ impressive Get Out The Vote apparatus was deployed with a vengeance in Upper Providence.  We watched as visibly angry women marched literally by the dozens to “send a message” to Trump and the patriarchal Republican Party by electing instead Democrats Laurie Higgins and Helen Calci, two politically unknown women, and John Pearson, a two-term Democrat retread.

Vive la Resistance!

Well, maybe not.  The top vote getter was Laurie Higgins and she worked hard for it.  As her opponent, I can only respect the enthusiasm and long hours she put in to campaigning; she may even have knocked on more doors than I did.  Flying mostly solo, but sometimes accompanied by other local Democrat women, Higgins reported her daily door knocking efforts on Facebook while noting on several occasions that John Pearson was back at his place of business, a bar that they called their campaign headquarters, “holding down the fort.”  One would assume for her efforts, if not for her vote totals, that Laurie Higgins would have been elected Chairman of the Board, and if not that, at least Vice Chairman.  She certainly earned it.

So how to explain the fact that not only does Higgins holds no leadership position on the Board whatsoever, but that a vocal Trump-supporter and active participant in the Trump Campaign, Republican Al Vagnozzi, is Vice Chairman to John Pearson’s Chairman?  How to explain that Jim White, a Montgomery County Republican Committee member until literally just days before the election, an RNC delegate and one of the Trumpiest of Trump supporters in Upper Providence, gets the appointment to Chair the vacancy board?  The newly elected Democrats did the Montgomery County Republican Committee a further good turn in keeping the solicitors’ position with Dischell Bartle Dooley.

Is this the female empowerment “message” angry Democrat women wanted to send?  If so, I’m afraid it got a little muddled in the translation because from where I’m sitting, it looks like the patriarchy is still running the show.

You’ve been had, ladies.  And it’s not just Republicans who’ve been taking advantage of you.  Admittedly, my Township is the exception, which was a true bipartisan effort.  Typically, there is not this much of the political chess board exposed to the electorate. The tale of the vote totals shows only one Republican was supposed to make it across the finish line, keeping the Republican majority intact in Upper Providence, which probably would have happened but for the effectiveness of the Democrats GOTV efforts and the depth of Trump anger.  Because when the Democrats take over in Montgomery County, it’s usually simply to hand over the keys of power to a Democrat solicitor, like Sean Kilkenny or Jason Salus, two Democrats who are collecting control of Montgomery County Municipalities like kids collect Pokemon.

But if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Democrat-led movements such as Indivisible and Emerge are looking to duplicate the overwhelming successes of 2017 and are now recruiting women to run for PA State Senate and Representative. It seems the only qualifications for candidacy are lady parts and the ability to hit as many feminist talking points as possible.  Katie Muth, a candidate for PA Senate District 44 announced her candidacy by telling her real “Life of Julia” story:  she proudly talks about how she is a “product of public resources” and about her personal need for easy access to abortion.  Sarah Campbell-Szymanski, a candidate for State Rep in PA 150, takes the feminist box checking to a new level:  not only does the blue-haired candidate talk about her “almost” abortion, but the married, unemployed mother-of-one has also decided to run as an openly bisexual candidate.  Mary Jo Daley, the current State Rep for PA 148, dyed a blue streak in her hair to show solidarity with Sarah. And remain relevant.

To be fair, I don’t think any of these political novices know what awaits them after election.  I am sure they are being given every encouragement by the Democrat party while it works to keep their women voters in a constant low state of Trump-induced agitation.

None of this is about putting women in power; it’s about capitalizing on a newly “woke” voting block so that the folks who are already wielding power can solidify or increase their hold thereof.  They are effectively manipulating women to do it. And they will continue to manipulate them as long as they can keep Democrat women angry and engaged enough to vote Democrat, but not so engaged as they take the time to look beyond the hashtag social media activism and an annual pink-pussy hat march.

Point being, we are not electing ideological leaders or change agents; that would change the balance of power and those in power promoting these candidates like the power structure just fine where it is, thank you very much.  This is about electing placeholders who will cede power to anointed party leaders, unelected appointees and backroom deal makers or face defeat in their next election.  It takes a little bit more than donning a pink hat and baring your soul on Twitter with your #metoo moment to be successful in politics.  But more importantly, it takes an electorate willing to invest time and effort to educating themselves beyond the flimsy window dressing to distinguish real leadership from malleable ingénues with a positive electability quotient.

So a President Oprah is not all that farfetched.  As long as she wears black at the proper awards functions and speaks the right platitudes to the sisterhood, why not elect her?  It’s not like her lack of policy knowledge or experience really matter.  It’s not like her devotion to quack medicine or fad diets make her any more or less unqualified than anyone else.  She’s a woman.  She says the right things to women.  She has a following.  She can win.  She is the perfect candidate for this moment in time.  Why not elect her?

She’s not going to be running anything, anyway.

We Get The Government We Deserve

Tom Hampton

 

By TOM HAMPTON

In less than two weeks, Roy Moore will be the newest member of the United States Senate.

Why?  Because he’s exactly what the people of Alabama, and the nation, deserve.

Now of course, you’re reading this, and you’re already offended, because if you’re a person who runs in the same circles as I do, you’re not someone who traffics in the same ideologies that people like Roy Moore does…you’re a generally tolerant person who puts a lot of stock in “live and let live”, you don’t trade in hatred, in bigotry, in sexism, in demonizing people based on race or religion…you understand that the constitution was actually written to enforce freedom of religion, and you don’t twist that principle to leverage Christianity over other faiths or practices.

And that means that you, like myself, are in the electoral minority in this country.

Sure, we all know that there’s a huge unrepresented ghost-herd of “reasonable disconnected citizens” out there who don’t hate people, but also don’t vote, don’t participate in the process, and as such – don’t COUNT…because they’re unwitting participants in the rise to power of unrepentant assclowns like Roy Moore.

Let’s be clear, here….political scandal is NOT a new thing.

But the vast majority of scandals past ended predictably – with the ensuing publicity resulting in resignations (Mark Foley, Larry Craig, Tom DeLay, etc.) and occasionally jail time (William Jefferson, Duke Cunningham, and the like).  There have been the odd outliers who managed to escape any real electoral scrutiny after coming out on the other side of various scandals, but – until very, VERY recently, they seemed to be – by far – the exception rather than the rule.

We’ve entered a new age, though.

We’ve entered the Age Of Zero Accountability here…where you can publicly rape and pillage as long as you have an R after your name and walk the streets unmolested.

Now, we have assholes like Scott DesJarlais, who managed to get re-elected by a horde of trailer dwellers in East Tennessee after a laundry list of shitty behavior.  For those of you who are old enough to remember this past summer, there’s Greg Gianforte – who was elected LITERALLY THE NEXT FUCKING DAY after being brought up on assault charges for physically attacking a reporter…and first lying about it, but being disproven by an audio recording of the attack.  (some of you who actually bother to watch the news may remember the “man on the street” soundbites of folks who said that the fact he went at Ben Jacobs actually made them MORE likely to vote for Gianforte.)  And, hey – if you remember that, you probably remember the good folks of Georgia electing human cardboard cutout Karen Handel after famously telling her potential constituents that she “did not support a living wage”.

You see, we don’t punish our lawmakers for wrongdoing now, and – shit, even WORSE – we reward garbage humans with seats on Capitol Hill in light of incontrovertible evidence of shitty behavior.

Alabama, the state currently in question, actually has a colorful recent history of rewarding shitty behavior in lawmakers – their state Speaker of the House, Michael Hubbard, was famously brought up on two dozen counts of corruption prior to election day and – guess what – he won re-election.  Oh, and not only that – once re-elected, he was given his old Speaker job back by his fellow lawmakers WHILE AWAITING TRIAL.

Then, of course, there’s Robert Bentley, the gross, Viagra-popping, secretary-groping, dirty-talkin’ Governor who got caught on tape saying some truly creepy shit to the object of his affection.  Oh, and due to the politically exquisite timing of that particular shitstorm, it turns out that there was a Senate seat to name someone to – what with perennial Disney Bad Guy Jeff Sessions becoming Attorney General and all.  So Governor SexyTalk named his Attorney General, Luther Strange (no, you really CAN’T make shit like that up) to replace Sessions on Capitol Hill…mere moments after he managed to squelch impeachment proceedings against Bentley in his capacity as state Attorney General.

So you see, that’s how shit works now.

We are a nation of knuckle-dragging, Budweiser-swilling intellectual midgets who are not just unafraid, but PROUD to reward garbage humans at the ballot box.  And in the Gilded Age of Trump, all bets are off.

Beat up a reporter?  You Win.

Fuck a mannequin out of wedlock while your terminally ill wife is dying of cancer, all while leading a good old torches and pitchforks revolt against a sitting president for a less shitty plot of your own story?

You Win.

Arrange for an abortion for your mistress while running on a staunch pro-life position?

You Win.

Two Dozen Counts of Corruption?

You Win.

Alabama, it’s not as if it’s a choice between two similar fucking shades of grey, here.

You’re not choosing between two similar mindsets who have slightly different outlooks on intricate legislative points…two guys who are both shitty but maybe one is slightly less shitty than the other.

There is ZERO nuance involved here.

You’re literally choosing between a fucking nutjob whos’ been thrown off the bench not once, but TWICE – for failing to enforce constitutional law.  A dude who, even BEFORE the truly shitty stuff started coming out recently, was ALREADY a drastically awful candidate – but in light of his fondness for teenage girls and getting banned from the mall and all the avalanche of crap that’s come out lately, it’s as if the cherry on top of the whipped cream somehow actually became the entire fucking sundae….

…you’re choosing between that guy and a lawyer with decades of prosecutorial experience fighting for the people of your state, to include actually sending members of the Klan to jail for bombing a church and killing four children.

You’re literally being asked to choose between John McClain and Hans Gruber, and you’re charging to the polls yelling “Yippie Ki-aaaaay, Motherfucker!” in a German accent.

In two weeks, Doug Jones will join Jon Ossoff and Merrick Garland on the sidelines to watch the final chapter of this shitstorm run its course towards swallowing up our democracy…and we’ll deserve every sad, ridiculous, avoidable landmine that we collectively step on.

Hide your daughters.

Many Forms of Abuse

Lizanne

By LIZZANE KNOTT

In light of the outpouring of sexual abuse stories in professional scenarios, I have to say that I have never encountered it (in my private/personal life, Lord yes – but never in a workplace).

While I spent a good deal of my life working with horses, I also held an office in a rapidly growing tech company for years which was largely male dominated. I was only ever treated with kindness and respect by my peers.

And too, my work in my studio, which is male-dominated as well, the same. I have though, experienced being bullied in the music industry by other artists. One fairly well known singer-songwriter (who shall remain nameless and is not someone I travel in circles with) actually took me out to dinner so that he could tell me that I basically had little talent as a writer or singer and at my stage of life had almost no chance of “making it”. Hmph.

I think the point I’m trying to make here is that abuse comes in all forms from all types of people. We, as women – hell, everyone – need to take a stand against the negativity that seems to be permeating our lives on a daily basis. No one of us is more or less deserving of following our path, making our own way, than anyone else, regardless of our sexual orientation, race, age, religion – or for that matter species (but that’s a whole another argument).

Long ago I made the choice to not be a victim to other peoples ego’s and hurtful behaviors, their karma is their own. I choose to put positivity and love out there because that’s what’s needed most in these times and the only thing that will get us through this stormy political sea we’ve all been cast out on.

So hold steady and sail on, better days are coming.

Sad Reckoning Awaits

 

Clare DiPinto

By Clare DiPinto

I’m a bit concerned.

For all the people who’ve determined — not by researching, but by reaction or basically hearsay — that government aid programs whom they feel unjustly come out of their tax dollars to go to whom they’ve also deemed unworthy (taking advantage of system , getting a free ride ) are going to wind up cutting their nose off to spite their faces.

These programs are designed to assist those in need and you have to qualify and trust me you really do need it, if you qualify. So when you gladly see these programs stripped and discarded , under new regime , what will those that rely on them today but you also do when you find things didn’t pan out as planned and now you could use some help but none is available? Because you made sure of that.

Now what?

It’s tough. You can’t blame Obama, and don’t want to see the sad truth, so can’t blame the rich men in office – it will be a sad reckoning.

We will have worse than a cast system. As the saying goes, look before you leap.

Shooting To Kill

Dan May

By DAN MAY

When I served in the US Air Force, I took an M-16 automatic rifle with me to my job. Every day. I carried multiple magazines filled with 30-round banana clips, which afforded me the capability of firing off 120 rounds in mere seconds. A few simple squeezes of a finger. And how many times was I called on to use that capability?

Zero. Zip. Nada.

Not one single time did I fire off that gun in the line of duty. It’s a dangerous weapon. And so now, thinking back to that, I for the life of me cannot come up with one single reasonable scenario in which I would need to use that weapon in my day to day life. It’s not for hunting, it’s not for sport. It has one purpose and one purpose only.

To kill people.

And the idea that that dangerous weapon that has no reason for being in anyone’s hands who isn’t in uniform defending the country, is a frightening and deadly thought. As we have just witnessed. Measures need to be taken to prevent this from being in the hands of ANYONE, much less available to mentally unstable individuals.

And yet it is.

If you want to own a gun, go right ahead. You can have as many hunting rifles, shotguns, pistols, muskets, etc., as your heart desires. But I think we should put a number on the amount of these military type weapons one person can own. And I’ve come up with that amount. And I think it’s the perfect amount. The reasonable amount. The necessary amount.

Zero. Zip. Nada.

Dear Deity …

 

Stan Horwitz

By STAN HORWITZ

PHILADELPHIA — This morning, I woke up to the horrible news about the mass shooting in Las Vegas. They’re saying that at least 50 people perished and at least 200 people were injured by the sniper while attending a country music festival at the Mandalay Bay.

My condolences to the victims and injured and their friends and family. Not enough thanks can be given to all the heroes who helped take out the shooter and stop him from doing even more harm. Bravery like that is a rare trait.

I saw that my state’s own senator Pat Toomey offered his prayers to the victims, their friends and families. Other politicians are no doubt doing the same. How nice of them to offer prayers at this tragic time in our history.

Maybe instead of Toomey and his fellow senators and President Trump just offering useless prayers to the dead and their survivors, they actually do something real to fix this problem of violence in our country. These mass shootings seem to be growing in frequency and body counts. Prayer isn’t helping. I doubt it hurts, but it obviously isn’t helpful either.

Here’s my prayer: Dear Deity who knows all blah, blah, blah and who presumably saw this tragedy blah blah blah coming yet did nothing blah blah blah to prevent it, blah, please blah blah let those shooting blah blah blah victims blah blah blah go to your blah blah Candy Land.

If I did believe in the power of prayer, I would pray every day to the God in which I believe to stop the violence from occurring in the first place.

But what do I know?