This is a great idea! There are probably a lot of us who have things just sitting around the house that could be put to good and purposeful use. If you agree please share this post or pictures of your own under the hashtag #gamesforliberty. Thanks Brian for the good example.
Author Archives: Ben Trube
I love living in Clintonville. I love the owner of my local deli, Smith’s, who’ll sell me a $6 Reuben even as he’s preparing to marry off the 3rd of 7 children. I love the community center and art fairs. I love living in a place with trees, even when my house is being hit by acorns. I love the hole-in-the-wall Chinese place on Kenny that I’ll be eating from later tonight. I love my neighborhood full of dogs and little free libraries, and the bookstore just up the road. And I love the people of this community, now more than ever.
Sunday night my wife and I attended a candlight vigil. This wasn’t an anti-Trump rally, or a group of people out to abolish the electorial college. It was a group of our Clintonville neighbors coming together and saying we will look out for one another. Walking from the Whetstone Community Center to North Broadway we were surrounded by people of all ages: from families with young to children, to college students and retirees. My wife and I didn’t have mason jars for real flames, so we brought some battery powered candles (just as well since I probably would’ve set my notebook on fire).
The walk was pretty quiet at first, the group of us moving at a slow shuffle. Somewhere between Smith’s and Torrence things started to get a little more lively. Cars honked in support as they passed, marchers across the street cheered “this is what democracy looks like,” and local businesses made a show of support (the Global Gallery handed out coffee on a cold night).
On North Broadway there were drums and carhorns and cheers of “Love Trumps Hate.” A small group of police showed up to help people cross to the other side of the main road. As I stepped into the crosswalk I heard an officer remark “you guys keep being this cool we’re never going to make national news.” In truth the whole evening was pretty tame. There were a few people who shouted their support for Trump (more as a matter of fact than anything else). There some individual calls of “not my President” and “we reject the President-elect” but these were the outliers, not the rule. Mostly we chanted about protecting the rights of women, of minorities, of different relgions and love in all its forms. The police were respectful and helpful, and the mood anything but antagonistic. Frankly it was a welcome change after the strange week we’ve all had.
My favorite moment of the night was walking back to the car. We were a few steps behind a mother and her 6-7 year old son. The son was holding a big “Love” sign while his mother explained the right to protest and how it can be important to show people how you feel. There’ve been a lot of people saying that we shouldn’t protest, that we need to accept the results of the election and give the President-elect a chance. I do accept the results of the election, even if I have a hard time typing the words President Trump right now. That’s not the issue.
If you take the President-elect at his word then you have to take on board the policies he said he would enact. This is a man who advocated for war crimes, who called for a total ban on muslims coming into the country. He has appalling attitudes toward women, and only a passing relationship with objective facts. Maybe once he realizes what the job actually entails he’ll change. A lot of people who’ve sat in that office certainly have. Being President is an awesome responsibility, but we have responsibilities too. We have a responsibility to protect the rights of the people around us from those who might seek to take them away. That starts at home, in the places we love.
I’ve been off WordPress for a while and so it’s been a while since I checked my stats, and I was surprised to learn that I had something like a 200% increase in traffic last week, and for the best reason.
My “Fractals You Can Draw” posts have always been the most popular ones on the site. In general I think the writing life is weird like that. You never know what 20 minute or hour long effort is going to be the one that really lasts. I’ve spent hundreds of hours writing this blog, but that week I spent getting my wife to draw fractals, building a Sierpinski triangle out of marshmellows and toothpicks, and frantically trying to update by C++ skills has been one of the more lasting efforts of the last five years for me.
But the best thing is every year around the spring and fall I get new referrals from schools. WordPress does a pretty good job of letting you know where traffic is coming from, and every year I find some new class, ranging from grade school to college that references one of my fractal posts. That’s really the reason I’m doing any of this. What I’ve learned since I started blogging and especially in the last year working on the “Fractals You Can Draw” book is that I really want to teach people. I like writing fiction, but I love writing about math.
Honestly I’m as shocked as the rest of you.
Right now I’m working on Chapter 5 of the new book (or trying to, it’s been a crazy couple of weeks). I’m learning about new ways to use the Fibonacci sequence to draw fractals, and I can’t wait to share what I’ve learned. I’m so excited about this stuff I even snuck in a half an hour to write on Monday night while I was waiting for my mom to finish her grocery shopping.
If you’ve found this blog through one of your math courses I’d love to hear from you. To all the teachers who included links to my posts in their courses, thank you. And thank you for teaching people about fractals. It’s one of the best ways to build a love of math.
About two weeks ago I pulled my back out and between that and the fact that my software project has kicked into high gear, I’ve been a little out of the world lately. So … what’s going on?
What just happened?
I was up until about one last night after waking up that morning at 5:30am (which is about an ahour and a half earlier than usual). I actually walked to my polling place which is a school just around the corner from my house, in part to loosen the aforementioned back, though I didn’t factor in what standing in a line for 25 minutes might do to it. Ah well, that’s what ibuprofen and the oddly spelled supplement turmeric is for.
I got back to the house around 7 and actually took a second to enjoy one of the benefits of reverting from daylight savings time, watching the sunrise. Just taking a minute to bask in the joy of God’s creation. If only the rest of the day had been so calming.
The coverage on all the channels was really something to see. We have a tradition since the 2008 election of watching the Daily Show’s live election special. In 2012 I’d had to watch it in a hotel room in Cleveland with my wife on the phone while we watched Obama be reelected over a Republican we didn’t like, but not someone who seemed unqualified.
The mood this year was frankly somber, correspondants stress-eating and pounding back shots of pepto bismol. @midnight’s Chris Hardwick was more of tugging at the shirt collar “I don’t know” variety of anxiety. But my favorite part of the evening, or at least the one that encapsulated how I was feeling was Rachel Maddow. In the middle of reading some of the latest results she just *sighed*.
For myself I was feeling equal parts depressed and angry. I sent this to my friend Brian at about 11:45 which summed it up pretty nicely:
At the urging of my wife with things looking uncertain but not completely lost I went to bed around 1am, then woke up around 4am which I’ve been doing the past few nights, needing to roll over to spread some of the tension in my back around. I argued with myself that I shouldn’t check the results, that I should just roll over and go back to sleep. I lost that battle, but fortunately I was too exhausted from the short night the day prior to spend much time thinking about it.
A lot of people on social media today have been saying the depressing thing is not that Donald Trump is going to be our President, it’s what his being elected means about us. There’s certainly a part of Trump’s constituency that has said some pretty hateful, misoginyst, bigoted, anti-intellectual, xenophobic, homophobic, anachronistic, jingoistic, and yes deplorable things. But the truth is I think the majority of these people have just felt left behind by the world. They felt that neither side was listening to their concerns, or doing enough to help them, and they finally made their voices heard.
There’s a part of that frustration I will never understand because it’s just not the kind of life I lead. I can sympathize. I’ve known plenty of people who’ve worked in the auto industry or in steel, or out on the factory floor. In my parent’s day that was a good middle class job, and something to be proud of, and whatever the cause of it, it’s something we’ve lost in today’s America. It makes sense that that’s frustrating.
If I’m honest, I’ve lived a life of relative privilege. I’ve worked hard, but I had a lot of opportunities. I’ve pursued a career that hopefully will remain relavant throughout my lifetime, though automation and best cost countries threaten programmers as well. That’s why life-long learning to me isn’t a cliche, it’s a necessity. But my ability to say that has largely been the product of parents who valued higher education and my own interests and passions. And there are plenty of vital industries that can’t be outsourced, like senior care, that get crap wages for crap work (literally sometimes). We need to do better for everyone.
Some of this frustration turns into implicit racism, or anti-immigrant sentiment, or any number of things, and I could tar these people with the brush of being intolerant and dismiss them. It seems like that’s what the democrats did in some ways. You don’t change anyone’s mind by unfriending them, or blocking them, or telling them they’re a monster. You get to know them, you try to understand where they’re coming from, and you have a honest discussion.
I want to call everybody useless. I want to be mad. And there are a lot of hateful things out there to get righteously angry about. But honestly that feels like I’d just be sinking to the level of that man who will be our president.
I’m not leaving for Canada or any nonsense like that. I actually think God doesn’t smile to fondly on people who leave the mission he’s set out for them. Let’s remember that a whale swallowed Jonah when he tried to run. If I’m sad or disappointed in what America seems to be, then I need to do something to make it better. That means writing about wrongs I see happening in the world. It means talking to people and finding out what they really need. And maybe it even means getting politically involved in the next seasons. I still need time to reflect, to mourn, to vent my anger in productive and not destructive ways. I’m still figuring this out even as I write.
I don’t know what the next four years are going to bring. None of us does. But I’m going to spend them being an American. I’m going to spend them as someone who greets others with love, who is loving of those with different colored skin, or religion, or sexual orientation, or class, or even political party. If Donald Drumpf seeks to enact policies that hurt people I love, I will do what I can to protect them. But I admit to being a little heartened that Mitch McConnell and a lot of other Republican senators have made it clear they want to defend a lot of what makes America what it is as well.
We’re all in this together. We all have ownership of this moment, no matter how we voted. If America isn’t the place we thought it was, then let’s do what we can to change that.