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  • Amy Polen
  • December 14, 2017 06:02:55 AM
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A Little About Us

Part personal, part political, part observation. I'm not quite a bleeding heart liberal, but I won't hesitate to call people out if deserved.

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Juneteenth and Other Things I Didn’t Know but Should Have

I realize that having grown up in Kentucky, the education reputation of the state is rather lackluster, but I felt like I received a pretty sound education through my schools. However, as I’ve gotten older, lived in different areas, and expanded my horizons, I’ve realized that there were some very important events left out of … Continue reading Juneteenth and Other Things I Didn’t Know but...

I realize that having grown up in Kentucky, the education reputation of the state is rather lackluster, but I felt like I received a pretty sound education through my schools. However, as I’ve gotten older, lived in different areas, and expanded my horizons, I’ve realized that there were some very important events left out of my history classes.

The Orangeburg Massacre

I learned about this when I moved to South Carolina in 2013. February 8, 1968. Police fired at 200 unarmed student protesters at South Carolina State University. Protests actually began February 5, at a bowling alley that served only white people. The first night, the protest was short. The protests got larger on the following nights, and the governor called in the National Guard. The night of February 8, students started a bonfire at the university, and a police officer was reportedly injured while the fire was being put out. Police said they heard gunshots and opened fire. Three people were killed, 28 were wounded. The governor blamed black power agitators (hmm, sounds familiar, doesn’t it?).

Cleveland Sellers, a South Carolina activist, was charged with rioting at the bowling alley. He was convicted, sentenced to 1 year of hard labor, and released after 7 months. Out of the approximately 70 police present, 9 were charged. None were convicted. In 2003, then-Governor Mark Sanford issued a written apology.

Black Wall Street

In 1921, the Greenwood District of Tulsa, Oklahoma, was one of the most prosperous communities of persons of color in the United States. The Tulsa Tribune reported that a black man attempted to rape a white woman. While the man was in custody, there was a confrontation between groups at the courthouse, which resulted in 10 white people killed and 2 persons of color killed. Mob violence took over, with white people destroying the entire community. Airplanes were reportedly used to fire rifles and drop firebombs. When it was over, 35 blocks had been burned, approximately 300 people were dead, and approximately 800 people were injured. There were 10,000 people left homeless. There were no convictions of people charged in relation to the violence. Decades later, a commission recommended that reparations be paid to those who lost so much, but they have not been paid. The victims were never compensated in any way.

Juneteenth

I learned about Juneteenth last year. Yes, LAST YEAR. I know.

Juneteenth is the holiday that recognizes the day the end of slavery was declared in Galveston, Texas, one of the last places to receive word of the Emancipation Proclamation. And yes, June 19, 1865, was over 3 months after the Civil War ended, and years after the Emancipation Proclamation. Juneteenth was officially recognized as a state holiday in Texas in 1980. More states and businesses are recognizing it this year as a holiday, and there’s now a push for Congress to make it a federal holiday.

Philadelphia Bombed Its Own Neighborhood in 1985

Yep, they did, on May 13, 1985. I was a kid then, and I didn’t learn about this until a few years ago. Granted, I was 11 when it happened, but I can remember when Reagan was shot, so you’d think if this had made the news, it would at least have been familiar. There was a fringe group, MOVE, that had a contentious history with the city of Philadelphia, including the death of a cop and the city bulldozing their first location in the city. The group had reportedly been collecting weapons and building bunkers in their next house, and police had attempted to evict them. Police were sent to the house with arrest warrants, but got no response. So apparently the solution was to fire 10,000 rounds of ammunition at the house, and then the police commissioner ordered that a bomb be dropped on the house.

Eleven people were killed, including 5 children. The fire spread throughout the neighborhood, and 61 homes were destroyed. A report found that the police were “grossly negligent,” but no charges were filed.

George Stinney

This one horrified me. I had never heard that child’s name until 2014, when his conviction was overturned. In 1944, the 14 year old boy was accused of killing two white girls. After he was arrested, he was not allowed to see his parents, and he was questioned without an attorney. Police said he confessed, but there was no written confession. His trial was short, and he was convicted in 10 minutes by an all-white jury. There is no transcript of the trial. He was not allowed to see his parents until after his trial and conviction, and the court refused to hear an appeal. The boy was tried, convicted, and executed in 83 days in South Carolina. He’s the youngest American to be sentenced to death and executed by the electric chair. Amazingly, it took until 2004 for a re-examination of the case to begin. His conviction was overturned in 2014.

Stonewall Riots

I learned about this around the time that the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage, so 2015?

This was a catalyst for the gay rights movement. In June 1969, police raided a gay club in New York City. There’s a lot of backstory, including the mob blackmailing members, but this raid was different in that there was no tip-off, as was customary. The raid sparked a violent protest, in which the protesters mocked and humiliated the police. Not just the bar patrons, but the entire neighborhood participated in 6 days of protests and clashes with police. Barack Obama designated the site as a national monument in 2016.

Those are just a few of the things you’d think would be mentioned in history classes. Obviously, this isn’t a complete list, and it doesn’t even account for the things that I did learn, but were wrong. Christopher Columbus, anyone? But that’s another day.


WTF Is Wrong with You? With Pictures

I’m pretty sure my trip inside a store last week won’t be happening again. Because people. New COVID-19 cases are through the roof. The governor refuses to order people to use masks. He urges people to, saying that we all need to look out for each other. Southern hospitality, and all that. Oh, wait. 90% … Continue reading WTF Is Wrong with You?...

I’m pretty sure my trip inside a store last week won’t be happening again. Because people. New COVID-19 cases are through the roof. The governor refuses to order people to use masks. He urges people to, saying that we all need to look out for each other. Southern hospitality, and all that. Oh, wait. 90% of people here do not wear masks. They don’t practice social distancing. They’re all about all the restaurants being open and want to go right back to the way things were before March. So literally, the same day that he signed a new emergency declaration and told people to take care of each other, the governor lifted restrictions on the number of people allowed in retail stores.

Now, EVERYONE can go into a store. That seems like a great idea, when we’ve just shattered the state record of new daily cases, when the percentage of positive tests is dramatically up, and when our curve looks like this.

Info from the largest hospital in the area, color-coded for easy understanding. Green is good. Yellow is not great. Red is bad.

And it’s not just old people, despite what some would have you think.

The percentage of positive tests is up. Way up. BTW, this state never actually met any of the criteria the guidelines suggested for reopening. In fact, our governor said something to the effect of, “Those are just guidelines, they’re not laws.”

We’ll keep doing what we’re doing. Staying home a lot. Wearing masks. Washing our hands. Using hand sanitizer. Not eating in restaurants. Avoiding groups of people. The people who know us are doing the same. It’s everyone else that is the problem. I’d like to not be one of these.


Why Do I Need Permission to Vote by Absentee Ballot?

So this week, the legislature of South Carolina, in their never-ending quest to take care of state residents, unanimously passed a bill to allow all residents to vote by absentee ballot in the June primaries. Because let’s face it, no one’s in a hurry to have a repeat of Wisconsin, even if the state cares … Continue reading Why Do I Need Permission to Vote by...

So this week, the legislature of South Carolina, in their never-ending quest to take care of state residents, unanimously passed a bill to allow all residents to vote by absentee ballot in the June primaries. Because let’s face it, no one’s in a hurry to have a repeat of Wisconsin, even if the state cares more about business than residents. So no one has to be around other people in order to vote. Great, right? Yes and no. Yes, it solved the issue of people having to be in close proximity to others in order to exercise their right to vote. However, all the legislature really did was add one more “acceptable” reason for voting by absentee ballot.

Because in South Carolina, you have to justify wanting to vote by absentee ballot. Oh sure, there are 18 reasons you can use (usually 17, but state of emergency has been added just this once), but why in the hell do I have to justify voting by absentee ballot? In order to vote by absentee ballot in South Carolina, you have to sign an affidavit that states one of these reasons applies.

Acceptable reasons for absentee ballots

Why? Why can’t I vote by absentee ballot simply because I don’t want to vote in person? Voting is my legal right. Now, I realize that if this state was left to its own devices, persons of color and women probably still wouldn’t be able to vote, but since I can, what’s the legal reason that the state can tell me that I can only use an absentee ballot if they give me permission?

Don’t even get me started on what they term “early voting” here. In person absentee-ballot voting is NOT early voting.


Well, That Was Awkward – And Even More Awkward

So, we’re now on day whatever of the endless time at home. When life is normal, I usually meet with a book club on the first Thursday of the month. I’ll confess, sometimes I don’t read the book. Sometimes I read all of it, sometimes part of it, sometimes none of it. Usually, that’s due … Continue reading Well, That Was Awkward – And Even...

So, we’re now on day whatever of the endless time at home. When life is normal, I usually meet with a book club on the first Thursday of the month. I’ll confess, sometimes I don’t read the book. Sometimes I read all of it, sometimes part of it, sometimes none of it. Usually, that’s due to a lack of time. Not always, but usually. The library has been closed since mid-March, so we didn’t have our April meeting. We did set up a virtual meeting for May, since we all still had the book that was intended for April. Added bonus… since I’m unemployed and have a bazillion hours on my hands, I had plenty of time to read it.

So on Monday, I sat down with the book. And after getting to page 17, I closed it and said, “No more.” I will not share the title or the author’s name here, because, well, you’ll see. In 17 pages, I found the book to be badly written, with an excessive usage of exclamation marks. It didn’t hook me, and I found it so annoying that I wasn’t going to devote the time to reading the rest.

Here’s where the awkwardness comes in. See, the book was recommended by someone in the group. Not the usual recommendation of, “Oh, I like this author, and we should read one of her books,” but the recommendation of, “I have a friend who wrote a book.” There are lots of great writers out there. There are also quite a few not-great writers out there, since the advent of self-publishing. Note that I’m NOT saying that self-published books are terrible. I’m also NOT saying that being published under a known name ensures that a book will be great. I’m just saying it’s easier for some bad books to get published when you don’t have the oversight of editors and publishers.

Anyway, the author was a friend of someone in the group. The problem was, I couldn’t remember who recommended the book, so I had no idea if said person would be at the virtual meeting. So I obviously couldn’t start off at the beginning and say what I truly thought. Well, I could, but I do have some restraint and manners, no matter what you’ve been led to believe.

As it turns out, the group member wasn’t there when we all logged into Zoom. Great, right? I could freely say that I didn’t read the book because I couldn’t get past page 17. Except… you know what’s more awkward than telling someone you hated their friend’s book? Seeing the author himself in the meeting. I scrolled through the names and thought, “Why is there a guy here? There are no guys in this group.” Then I recognized the name.

Oops. Almost. At least I saw the name before I said anything, lol.


What Have You Learned Lately?

I thought I had this post all figured out. I’ve been jotting down points with it for several days. It’s not going to be quite the source of levity that was originally intended, though. First things first. I’ve learned a lot during the last 2 1/2 months at home, most of which I would not … Continue reading What Have You...

I thought I had this post all figured out. I’ve been jotting down points with it for several days. It’s not going to be quite the source of levity that was originally intended, though.

First things first. I’ve learned a lot during the last 2 1/2 months at home, most of which I would not have learned if life had gone about as usual.

I should have gotten the haircut in early March. I put it off, and now I’m putting my hair in a ponytail for the first time in years.

My husband has a ridiculous number of conference calls. I now know at least some of his coworkers have screeching children.

I love my house. I love it even more when I think about the 4 of us on top of each other in an apartment for 2 1/2 months.

I don’t do well without a job. I’m bored. I’m doing a little freelance stuff here and there, but job hunting sucks. Especially when the vast majority of jobs here involve a lot of public contact… which is not advised for me.

Helping a 17 year old adjust to this new version of life also sucks. She’s finally done with her school year, though, so there’s a more pleasant mood in the house. I was not meant to be a teacher, that much is clear.

I’ve said things I didn’t think I’d have to say, like, “No, going to a car lot to window shop is not essential!” to the 21 year old. I’ve also said things to the cat, such as, “Doug, why are you crying in the shoes?”

It would be easy to develop a fear of going out in public. It’s hard, when the whole state is open again, and everyone’s all about going out to eat and doing things that involve close contact with others. I’m not there yet. I’ve been out, but generally for things that involve lots of open space. I did physically go to a grocery recently.

Related to the above item, I hate wearing a mask. It’s stuffy, it’s uncomfortable, and I’m constantly fighting the urge to fiddle with it. I *get why some people hate wearing them. However, I wear one anyway. It’s a small thing to do for those around you.

Our cats are needy jerks. There will be a mutiny when people are not home all the time to entertain them. Which goes back to how I found myself saying, “Doug, why are you crying in the shoes?”

Some books are really terrible. I’ve had tons of time to read, so I would know. Save yourself the misery and don’t feel obligated to finish a terrible book.

Vinebox has made me realize that I pour WAY too much for a glass of wine, lol. I poured the first “glass” and realized that a glass I pour from a bottle has significantly more liquid, lol.

Target’s drive-up pickup for online orders is almost too good. The past two times, I didn’t even get into the parking spot before the Target employee was at my car. Kohl’s, on the other hand, is slow. Really slow. Which is why I had plenty of time to observe just how many people here are NOT wearing masks.

And finally, I’ve learned that we’re doing things so very wrongly. We have to do better. We’ve seen the protests, the riots, the damage. We have to listen, and we have to HEAR them.


Alternative Facts, Because We No Longer Have to Rely on Data

Advance warning and disclaimer… I’m watching my state open things back up, after our governor compared this to a NASCAR race, through such phrases as “stomp on the gas when we get the green light,” “slingshot ahead of those other states,” and “do a victory lap,” and I temporarily ran out of words to describe … Continue reading Alternative Facts, Because We No Longer Have to Rely...

Advance warning and disclaimer… I’m watching my state open things back up, after our governor compared this to a NASCAR race, through such phrases as “stomp on the gas when we get the green light,” “slingshot ahead of those other states,” and “do a victory lap,” and I temporarily ran out of words to describe my feelings about that. The one thing the governor did that allowed me to breathe a little was canceling school for the rest of the school year.

The governor loves Trump and even got his job in 2017 because of Trump, so I fully expected him to embrace the administration’s plan to reopen the economy. I did NOT expect him to just totally ignore the guidelines put out by the task force and just plow ahead with his own plans. During one of his press conferences to announce that non-essential businesses could start reopening, I literally heard the man say, “Those are guidelines. We’re following guidelines. That’s not the law.” I knew he cared more about businesses in this state than the residents. I didn’t realize he was willing to allow people to die for businesses to succeed. My mistake.

Some non-essential businesses have already been allowed to reopen, even though the state has NOT met the standard of a 14-day downward trajectory of cases. This is the screenshot from South Carolina’s DHEC website of cases. At this point, you’d still be reaching to call that a plateau. It’s definitely not a downward trend.

Not to mention, with businesses reopening, it puts the responsibility squarely on employees to ensure that the number of people allowed in the store is limited, that people are social distancing, and that no one breathes on anyone else. So tell me, do you still think those retail employees should only be paid minimum wage or slightly above?

I’d love to see life get back to normal. But I have trouble putting a price on people’s lives in order to do that.


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