Letters To Jim, February 2024: What is a Woman and Who is Winning the Culture Wars?

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February may be a short month, but there is no shortage of mail to respond to, so let’s get right to it.

Dear Jim
There is a new documentary out in which people are simply asked, “What is a woman?” I am curious as to what your answer entails.
Woman Wonderer

Dear WW,

I know exactly what you are trying to do and it is not going to work. You want me to define women and then get bludgeoned by every special interest group out there for what I say and then be forced to apologize. Just know, I won’t be saying, “I am sorry.”

The way I define a woman is not much more than a reflection of the generation I belong to. As a kid, I was raised to think that a woman’s place was in the home. Clearly my parents’ generation was proven wrong by millions of women of my generation.

Today, there are younger generations and groups of people influenced by the redefining of words My guess is, they are incapable of thinking up new words so they redefine what they know. It’s like a TV network that has run out of ideas and comes out with a new version of a classic show from my youth. In the process, they redefine the cast to the point where the only thing left that resembles what once was is the show’s name.

I don’t need people telling me I am wrong because they feel a sense of entitlement that allows them to always be right. Like me, their generations and definitions will age out. For now, I will hold onto what I believe and not give a crap what others think.

Dear Jim,
Culture wars seem to be destroying this nation and all it stands for. How can you openly support a political party determined to undo all that this nation stands for? Shame on you!
>A Former Fan

Dear FF,

Eff Off. How dare you confuse me for being an active supporter of the GOP. If they had their way, this would be the whitest and most Christian nation on the planet and people of color would be slaves.

Our Founding Fathers realized that progress is inevitable and to force your ways onto others is to stand in the way of freedom and progress. Freedom is what has allowed us to expand the rights and thinking of our nation while influencing other nations to seek a similar path.

In the 1960’s, there were plenty of culture wars. Vietnam, civil rights, Summer of Love, rock and roll, assassinations, George Wallace, Muhammad Ali, and the women’s movement to name a few. We may have only had three or four television channels, but nothing came close to what unfolded at the dinner table for excitement and fireworks.

If that was not enough, how about the 1920s and all of its excesses followed by the Great Depression? WWII, Korea, and the final days of segregation?  Still not enough? Try living through a cold war, disco, punk, new wave, greed is good, We Are The World, “no new taxes,” and Desert Storm (I swear, we did not start the fires).

Culture wars are not our problem. Our problem is the emergence of a political ideology that wants to eliminate all things that represent free thinking and replace them with state approved thought. My suggestion is while you still can, read how this approach played out in communist Russia and Mao’s China. Read a little about life in North Korea versus life in South Korea.

Culture wars force free thinkers to think and the lazy to hand their brains over to groups who want to control thinking for everyone.

Dear Jim,
Is too much freedom a bad thing? It seems we have way too much today and it is causing a shitstorm of problems. What do you think?
Freedom Watcher

Dear FW,

Freedom and being free to do whatever you want are not the same things. Our nation was built on a system of checks and balances that allowed for a legal system to exist that once placed limits on all our freedoms. Today, there has been a shift in thinking. One major group would love to see no limits placed on our freedoms while another wants to do just the opposite and remove freedoms from us. We call these groups the Far Left and Far Right. They are also the squeaky wheels of society.

The best way to rid ourselves of these squeaky wheels is to remind yourself that common sense must always prevail. It’s what prevents us from taking giant leaps backwards as a society (think the Far Right) while also keeping us from jumping off a ledge (think the Far Left).

I often think about my time as a coach and a teacher. Great coaches and educators don’t worry about doing what is popular nearly as much as they worry about doing what is in the best interest of the group. The squeaky wheels are the ones who end up either loving or hating you while the ones who follow common sense are those who end up respecting you.

We had a president in Trump who was generally loved or hated, but not respected. Everyone was onto his act and either didn’t care or went ape shit and voted him out.

Maybe it is just my opinion, but we have a president now whose biggest crime is being old. What happened to respecting our elders and the wisdom they possess? Under Biden, unemployment is very low, the stock market is hitting new highs, our infrastructure is thriving, our allies follow our lead, and we can feel good about the direction we are headed. I do not come to these conclusions based on anything other than the facts speaking for themselves. which leads to my common sense thinking of — if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

There will come a day the Far Left will thank President Biden for not leading us over the ledge and even some from the Far Right who will be thankful this nation was preserved because of him. However, this doesn’t happen unless people choose to be guided by common sense instead of dogma.

Dear Jim,
What’s the biggest difference between the college town you moved back to versus the one you left 40 years ago? I have lived in Chico for half a century and the changes I have seen are gradual, but noticeable when viewed through before and after photos.
Photographic Memory

Change is inevitable and like all communities, Chico has seen its share. However, since you made reference to it as a college town, I will only answer along that train of thought.

In 1980, my second year in Chico, students were pretty angry over the doubling of tuition from $48.00 to $96.00 a semester. In other words, for most working students, it meant another day or two of wages to pay the increase.

I have not checked the cost of tuition, housing, books, and other materials since my daughter Hannah graduated from Chico State in 2012.  However, I do remember at that time, one year of her college far exceeded the cost of my four and a half years in Chico.

The spring semester began yesterday, and I was reading an article where all the CSU instructors were planning a one week walkout over their poor wages. Most no longer teach enough courses to earn any health benefits and are forced to work second jobs. At the same time, students, or their parents, have to take out huge loans that saddle them with debts that in some cases exceed $100,000.00.

CSU Chico has become a corporate enterprise that profits from a public school system pushing the importance of a college degree as the only path to success to help colleges hoard hundreds of millions of dollars. The average CSU president earns over $65,000.00 a month while also receiving free housing ($8,000.00 a month) and a monthly auto stipend ($1,000.00).  All of this so kids can earn degrees that over 60% of the time results in careers that have nothing to do with what they majored in.

On the bright side, there is still Bidwell Park. Some things stand the test of time.

Dear Jim,
You write about how judgmental Evangelicals are while sitting in judgment of people you loathe for their judging of others. At best, this makes you a hypocrite by definition and not by my judgment. Then you laugh at yourself by claiming you are going to hell or have already been there by having lived in a place called Hemet. Perhaps this is why people like me have no tolerance for people like you.

strong>Proud to be Evangelical

Dear Proud (Boyz or Girlz),

What came first: the chicken or the egg? In this case, the judge or the one judging the judge (Who’s on First)?  Why is it you can do no wrong and pass judgment on people who do not believe as you do and when it is brought to light, you call them a hypocrite while claiming the high ground?

Why is it you can practice “forgiveness” on the folks who robbed you blind of your tithing, sinned by cavorting with others, and who use their crimes as a way to promote their warped version of a religion Jesus would have had nothing to do with?

You do not get to sit in your glass house atop your hill and play God just because you do not like my pointing out your hypocrisy. Go read your holy book and see what it says about judging others. Try embracing and appreciating your fellow man/woman/trans and anyone else as Jesus would do were he alive today instead of walking around with your nose pointed toward a fictional heaven.

I may indeed be going to Hell, but you are likely to be sitting next to me for forgetting your religion claims there is only one judge and it ain’t you.

Dear Jim
How would you describe the game of football to someone who has never seen the game played? I am struggling to explain it to a friend and am getting nowhere.

Perplexed Fan

Dear Perplexed,

Just tell them football is a sport where popular musical artists and shirtless fat guys slamming beers play to the camera while drug fueled men attempt to inflict as much physical harm onto an opponent all over who gets to have control over a football that is supposed to be held by hands. After they look at you with complete confusion, change the channel and binge watch a show that glorifies the dark side of power and wealth.

If this doesn’t send them back to wherever they are from, nothing will.

(Claudia Gestro)

Dear Jim,
It’s a new year and you are now living in a new home, in a new community. Are there any new or old pet peeves driving you crazy?
Person of Interest

Dear Person,

I am not impressed with the two main big chain grocery stores here in Chico. Safeway has horrible prices, even with my Vons discount. Raley’s has a lack of help, smaller plastic bags, and a less than ideal store layout. Fortunately, I can wander around a nearby Winco and just toss stuff I don’t need into my cart, bag up my groceries, and walk out feeling like I just left an amusement park.

My mailbox does not have one of those red flags to raise for the mailman to pick up my bills to be mailed so I had to find a place to drop them off. I am debating whether to buy a new mailbox or to just suck it up and take letters with me when I run errands.

People are slow to reply to my emails when I inquire about their listings of things like couches, dining tables, and services which means I may have to resort to more texting.

I have yet to find a decent pair of boots to wear when I work in the yard. My next door neighbor needs my help with her failing fence post. Laverne and Shirley have no problem going outside when it is raining to be fed but then come right back into the house to pee or crap.

Mostly, I am shocked at how much I end up feeling the previous day’s work in the yard and wonder who the hell stole my body.

However, life is good.

Dear Jim,
What is the one thing you would like to see change about the world? It must be something that benefits or affects mankind equally and is not influenced by race, gender, religion, or any other demographics. The world needs your solution.
Ready For Change

Dear Ready,

You want change?  You can’t handle the change I offer, but here goes.

There are 365.25 days in a year which results in three years at 365 days and one at 366, or leap year. This has resulted in the Julian calendar that is a hodge-podge of 12 months ranging from 28 to 31 days. The months and their lengths make no sense and yet the entire world agrees to follow it while ignoring other things like the metric system, religious beliefs, type of government rule, and whether shoes must be worn with or without socks and if those socks must be dry fit, cotton, or set at a fixed length. No wonder this planet is a mess.

If you do some basic math and divide 365 days by numbers other than twelve, you soon learn that we can easily have thirteen months of 28 days that equals 364 days a year. Just think, 13 months set at four week intervals with the last month followed by an extra day set aside to celebrate the end of the year. Every year, the first day of the first month will fall on Monday. Every month, in fact, will begin on Monday with the final extra day just being a day we call, A Day With No Name, or “What’s Your Name?”

This still requires a leap year which is just a good excuse to add an extra day without a name for partying at the end of the year. Essentially, we have thirteen four week months with one or two extra days after the final month to celebrate out with the old and in with the new.

Sure, wars might break out over what to name each month, but let’s try the following and see if it works  The first month will be called Oneuary and will be followed by Twouary, Threeuary, and all the way to Thirteenuary. It’s so perfect that not even my spellcheck tried correcting me when I typed these new names.

Some of you whiners will say the system is not fair to people who have birthdays that fall after the 28th of a month. Get over it. At best, you make up 10% of the population and the last time I checked, the other 90% won’t be impacted. If only our government were that successful all of the time, we’d all be living a wonderful life.

Believe it or not, people have found a way to navigate being born on February 29th for a very long time. If they can do it, then the rest of you whiners can do the same. Besides, in another century, it won’t matter because you will all be dead. The only question that remains is centuries from now, will humans refer to this as the Jim Calendar or will it be named the James Calendar?  Either way, it will be my lasting gift to the world.

Grateful Dead Calendar (Tim Forkes)