Retirement, Depression, And Blogging

Hello friends. I’ve been in a funk. Haven’t published a blog post since April 30. Probably my longest hiatus since I started blogging in 2007, or since I began this blog in 2009. I’ve continued to read bloggers I follow (but irregularly) and to post comments (rarely).

I’ve been trying to adjust to retirement. Not as easy as I thought. Also, I’ve been all over the place in the past year regarding the purpose and audience of this blog. I began my first blog in 2007 with a focus on Maryland. That blog became more local when I moved to Ocean City.

I started this blog in 2009 to write about “life after sixty,” but I soon wandered into politics and economics. After retiring in 2013, I returned to my hometown, Montgomery County, and focused on local stuff for a while. I started several experimental blogs, but none of them clicked. The experimental blogs have been abandoned. Over the years, I’ve written a lot about politics, and I tend to get the most hits in the runup to elections. After the 2014 election, I was a blogger wandering in the desert.

Unable to find my bearings in retirement, I tried part-time work. Lifestyle and financial issues came to the fore. I made a conscious effort to cut back on blogging. Even though I wasn’t a very productive blogger, it seemed to consume a disproportionate amount of my time. Instead of blogging, I researched affordable places to live. Took a two-week fact-finding trip to Florida. At this point, I’m confused and undecided.

The truth is, my lifelong struggle with depression has worsened since retirement.

The cover story in this month’s Atlantic magazine, “A World Without Work,” helps explain my retirement funk. The story, by Derek Thompson, is not about retirement. It warns about the continuing loss of jobs due to computerization and robotization.

“For centuries, experts have predicted that machines would make workers obsolete. That moment may finally be arriving. Could that be a good thing?”

I’ve found that retirement has a lot in common with unemployment. Thompson points out that although leisure time offers wide opportunities, many unemployed men tend to spend most of their hours sleeping or watching TV.

I can go days without turning on the television, but I spend way too much time sleeping. Some days, I can hardly pull myself out of bed. That’s a sure sign of depression.

Any thoughts, fellow bloggers and/or retirees?

— John Hayden

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Bernie Sanders For President

Bernie SandersSen. Bernie Sanders announced today that he will run for president of the U.S. in 2016.

Sanders, the Independent U.S. senator from Vermont, will run as a Democrat. He calls himself a democratic socialist. Remember those two words:  democratic socialist.

I could support Bernie Sanders for president. Let me think about it.

For video of the Sanders announcement, see Politico.

I’ve been a participant-observer in Democratic Party politics for a long time. Usually, I think long and hard when two or more Democrats are competing for the same office.

Thinking back to 1968, I was a Democratic college student during the Vietnam War. Like many students, I supported Sen. Eugene McCarthy, the peace candidate, for president, My memory is unreliable, but after Bobbie Kennedy entered the battle for the Democratic nomination, I was torn between McCarthy and Kennedy. It was a tough decision, and I don’t remember which way I came down. I also respected Vice President Hubert Humphrey, the more traditional candidate that year. Bobbie Kennedy, of course, was assassinated after the Democratic primary in California. Humphrey won the nomination in Chicago, while the Chicago Police Department ran riot amidst protesters on the streets. Humphrey lost to Republican Richard Nixon in November.

OK, I’ve thought about it. I believe I’ll support Sen. Bernie Sanders for president of the U.S. in 2016. Things can change. I might change my mind. But I doubt it.

The times were right for Gene McCarthy or Bobbie Kennedy in 1968. The times are right for Bernie Sanders in 2016. In 1968, the issues were war and peace and civil rights.  In 2016, the issues are economic equality and civil rights. Not since 1968 has the line been so clearly drawn between the elites and the people.

I believe Bernie Sanders could win a Democratic primary election in my state, Maryland. A U.S. Senator named Barack Obama upset the establishment candidate, Hillary Clinton, here in 2008. It has happened before; it could happen again.

A quote for Democrats to think about from The Washington Post blog, The Fix:

“Sanders will be the beating heart of the party while Clinton will, always, be its head.”

May you live in interesting times. More later. Anyone else ready and willing to commit to a candidate?

— John Hayden

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Half The People Arrested Monday Night Have Not Been Charged With Any Crime

Half of the 235 people arrested during disorder on the streets of Baltimore on Monday night have been released without being charged with a crime, The Baltimore Sun has reported. Read The Sun story here. Apparently, paperwork on many of the arrests could not be found.

Some were held without charges for two days. Normally, those not charged are released within one day.

Meanwhile, many who were charged remain in the Baltimore City Detention Center after having high bails set by District Court judges. Some defense attorneys complained that unreasonably high bails were set for relatively minor offenses.

Do you think that Monday night’s “riot” in Baltimore was in any way comparable to the 1968 riots? Some 5,000 were arrested in the city during the 1968 riots. Compare that to 235 arrests Monday night and 10 more Tuesday night. Most of the arrests Tuesday nigh were for curfew violations.

A 10 p.m. curfew remains in place throughout the city.

— John Hayden

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Sun Is Shining On Baltimore Today; Trouble May Continue In Coming Days, Or Not

BALTIMORE SUN PHOTO

BALTIMORE SUN PHOTO

Baltimore Orioles-Chicago White Sox game is being played to an empty stadium in Camden Yards Wednesday afternoon. Game closed to public after trouble in the streets on Monday and Tuesday. For more breaking news, see BaltimoreSun.com

Some interesting numbers, also from The Sun:

“Amid the chaos on Monday, 15 police officers were injured. Area hospitals reported at least 33 people were hurt Monday night.

About 235 people were arrested Monday, including 34 juveniles. In addition, police said, 144 vehicle fires and 15 structural fires were set.”

Anytime people are injured, it’s a sad day. Some of the police injuries were quite serious. The number of fires during the rioting is frightful, although not all can be connected with rioting. The widely publicized photos and videos of burning buildings and cars perhaps created a distorted image, making the unrest seem even worse than it was.

Note that not a single death has been reported so far. In other words, it could have been a lot worse.

Of course the original protests stem from the death of Freddie Gray at police hands. The case is still under investigation, and some sort of report is expected Friday.

Not to make light of Monday night’s events, I don’t believe this qualifies as a major riot. Hospitals reported 33 injuries and no deaths. Some 235 people were arrested, but I don’t know how many of those were charged with a crime.

Ten people were reported arrested Tuesday night, seven of them for curfew violations.

A general consensus seems to have developed that much of the looting Monday night was the work of “opportunists,” who were taking advantage of chaos. Some observers have reported identifying “outside agitators,” some of whom may also have been present at the unrest in Ferguson and other places. Maybe some of the looters and agitators can fairly be called “thugs.”

Many of the people in the streets Monday were high school students and even middle school students. They are not criminals or thugs, simply angry students voicing their anger in the only way available to them.

Of course there is much second-guessing and criticism of the actions of elected leaders and police. I think the consensus is that police recognized that many if not most of the people in the streets Monday night were juveniles, and police acted with restraint to avoid inflicting injuries.

A schedule of protests scheduled for Wednesday through the weekend, as reported by The Sun, is here. 

— John Hayden

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Baltimore Police-Community Relations, Necessary Background

Anyone who isn’t familiar with Baltimore will need some background and perspective to even begin to understand the troubled story unfolding there. The protests and unrest in the city stem from the arrest and death in custody of Freddie Gray, who was buried Monday. But the underlying grievances have a long history.

Here are two columns I recommend:

JAMIE STIEHM, a former Baltimore Sun reporter, now writing for Creators Inc. Tuesday, Apr. 28, “Notes From a Baltimore Police Scene.” Updated link: Go to Creators Syndicate and search for Jamie Stiehm.

“It happened in plain sight in Sandtown. “Another City, Another Death in the Public Eye,” said the front-page headline in The New York Times. But Baltimore’s leadership is unusual compared to most cities, with a black woman mayor and a black police commissioner. That means its citizen protests may go beyond black and white. It’s gray, like the victim’s name.”

Ms. Stiehm goes on to recount her own bruising arrest experience some years back in Baltimore, followed by a night in the city lockup.

THOMAS SCHALLER, writing in the Baltimore Sun on Tuesday, Apr. 28, “Why Baltimore Burns For Freddie Gray.”  Read it here.

“Rather, the fact of social protest is prima facie evidence of political disgruntlement, and of an extant imbalance between those who wield power and those subjected to it. When these inequities persist and have no other form of expression, there will be unrest. And in this case, those suffering from Baltimore’s power imbalances are disproportionately black.”

I don’t know where Baltimore goes from here. There’s a lot yet to sort out. I think this latest death by police and the ensuing protests put the economic and racial divides in America on stark display for all to see. I hope we can learn something from this painful time. I hope peace and some semblance of normalcy will soon return to the streets of Baltimore. But I’m afraid for the future of America.

— John Hayden

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Baltimore Protests And Looting

Regarding Monday’s unrest in Baltimore, most of us should take time to think before we speak. I live in Maryland, but not in Baltimore. Let’s listen first to the voices of the residents and elected leaders of Baltimore.

I personally believe that the trouble in the streets on Monday was on a smaller scale than it might have seemed on television and social media. There were probably more peaceful adult men and women trying to calm the situation, compared to a relatively few people who participated in criminal looting.

Baltimore Sun breaking news is here.

Despite a lot of anger among young people, there was relatively little physical violence between people. Remember, looting is a crime against property. I’m more concerned about human beings.

Baltimore police suffered broken bones and serious injuries, but I’ve heard of very few injuries reported among civilians, and no deaths. Baltimore police can take credit for that. The Baltimore Police Department showed great restraint most of the time, allowing clergy and neighbors a chance to calm angry young people.

Among large groups of protesters, most were giving voice to anger, and not crossing the line into law breaking.

Mondawmin Mall suffered significant damage at the entrances. Not every store inside the mall was damaged. A large number of cars were burned, and there were a number of building fires, including a large fire on the East side. It’s not clear how many of the fires are directly related to the disorder.

After order has been restored, I’ll want to think about economic and social implications.

I pray that all will observe the curfew tonight.

— John Hayden

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Misinformation About Protesting Coal Miners in Ukraine

Editor (Retired):

Misinformation is a dangerous plague spread throughout the Web and what remains of the Mainstream Media. Propaganda and lies have always been with us. But before the rise of cable TV and the internet, newspapers in the West were able to filter out the worst misinformation. Many newspapers and journalists were dedicated to finding and reporting the truth, and they had sufficient resources for the job. With the demise of the newspaper industry, it’s now possible for propagandists to manufacture a fake “reality” at will and spread it unchecked. It’s becoming nearly impossible for the average person to know what’s real and what’s lies, unless you’re an actual eyewitness, or you have reliable sources. And of course any one eyewitness can touch only one small part of the elephant. Informed bloggers such as Clarissa try to counter misinformation. Well-informed bloggers can be reliable sources. Of course, it’s not easy to identify the informed bloggers, and their reach is small compared to the power of state-sponsored misinformation. Thanks to Clarissa for providing a steady stream of reliable information about Ukraine. — John

Originally posted on Clarissa's Blog:

Right-wing publications are as dedicated to pushing Putinoid propaganda as the Leftie pro-Putin rag The Nation. Kremlin propaganda is always offered under the sauce of “We really want Ukraine to succeed but let’s keep in mind this string of Putin-generated myths that we will pretend have a connection to reality.”

Here is how The American Interest does it (and mind you, this is just one tiny example):

Throughout last week, armies of coal miners stormed Kyiv’s government district to protest unpaid wages and call for the sacking of Ukraine’s energy minister.

Of course, there were no “armies of coal miners.” The “coal miners” are actors whom we have already seen appear in Russian news segments as bus drivers from Lugansk, separatists in Gorlovka, persecuted Russian-speakers in Donetsk, etc. The moment I saw the very first newscast about the “protesting coal miners”, I immediately recognized one of them as the fake…

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