Under The Umbra Ep 10 – Power Part 2 of 3

In this episode, we’re discussing Power! This is part 2 of 3. The Co-Host is my longtime friend Ian, and…...

In this episode, we’re discussing Power!

This is part 2 of 3.

The Co-Host is my longtime friend Ian, and he and his girlfriend have an upcoming project of artisan soap. I’ll share more info once they get it set up. If you’d like to help out or mentor them on soap distribution, let me (Electra) know and I’ll get you in contact!


  • 0:00:00    Intro Credits
  • 0:01:06    Thanking my Patrons
  • 0:02:14    Introduction Chat
    • Content Warnings... I am a bit unfocused and probably missed some. If you let me know via Patreon, I'll update the show notes here.
  • 0:06:40    Ian's Intro section and our relationship - Japan
  • 0:07:54    Grounding Prayer
  • 0:08:48    Return to Dacher Keltner's book The Power Paradox... and the Paradox revealed by his team's research. But the paradox IS NOT INEVITABLE. There IS another way!
  • 0:13:59    Examples in Public View (speculative): Elon Musk in 2023 as an example of erratic awareness of the power one holds based on how powerless he feels internally.
  • 0:19:12    Interjection about Elon Musk, fact-checking
  • 0:24:06    Also a feeling of powerlessness while actually holding power is something that plays out in the small scale, like in family, small business, religious communities...
  • 0:25:37    Intentional or negligent/carelessness keeping a large populace too powerless individually: reflecting on WGA (and now SAG-AFTRA) strike and Glacier NW Supreme Court Case ruling that undermines the workers' collective power and enhances the corporations' collective power
  • 0:34:37    Unions are collective power, and by collaboratively funding them, it creates security for all members and all industry colleagues
  • 0:37:01    Interjection: 1980s? Oops, actually 1947 and then 2018.
  • 0:38:20   Back to WGA strike and Glacier NW v Teamsters
  • 0:41:37    These were decisions. There are alternatives. It seems overwhelming, too many threads to tangle. But if we focus on the values of empathy and collaboration that we want, it's easier to recognize which threads to pull... and I think we're not alone in feeling the current values of self-focus and zero-sum competition are untenable.
  • 0:43:56    Interjection of self-disclosure and why the episode is out so many weeks delayed! Skip forward 4 min 30ish sec to ending credits if you want.
  • 0:48:25    Outro Credits

References mentioned in the show, including lots of fact checking!

Dacher Keltner - The Power Paradox (oh hey BTW he’s at Berkley, not Stanford, oops!) Power as influence over others VS Control as influence over self  📚 Find The Power Paradox on Bookshop.org 🎧 Find The Power Paradox on Libro.fm 

because my no-consequences power fantasy is being able to help everyone. #HopePunk!

Strict Scrutiny Podcast “‘Not That Bad’ is Still Bad!” (June 5, 2023) re: Glacier Northwest v. Teamsters 2023 decision

Elon Musk related fact-checking

A segue about SLAPP suits and wealthy people choosing jurisdiction: Depp v Heard in Commonwealth of Virginia... because where they live and work doesn't allow that shit. For here in the Show Notes but not Intro speech: "Heard and Depp are Hollywood actors who do not live or work in the Commonwealth of Virginia. But Depp was allowed to sue for defamation in the Virginia because the news outlet that ran the article, The Washington Post, “houses its printing press and online server in Fairfax County.” The Post is not named as a defendant in the case. [newline] Depp’s lawyer acknowledged in a pre-trial hearing that one of the reasons they brought the case in a Fairfax County courthouse is because Virginia's anti-SLAPP law is not as broad as the one in California."

I learned on MythBusters that it's not good to let cement dry in the cement truck.

Stephen Colbert re-defined Truthiness in a segment called The Wørd during the pilot episode of The Colbert Report 2005-10-17.

Info on the Labor Management Relations Act of 1947—a.k.a. Taft-Hartley Act.

5-4 Pod episode about Janus V AFSCME

The WGA's webpage about the 2023 strike. Contribute to the strike funds to help them out! See "Strike Assistance" on this page.  Also, stories about why the writers are striking.  Oops I was incorrect about them not having a strike fund, because they do.  I think I wanted to emphasize how workers' collectivism has been undermined in all fields, and we can see WGA members feeling precarity while they strike today.

Since recording this, SAG-AFTRA has also gone on strike.


This is Under the Umbra: Using Empathy and Collaboration to Navigate a World of Shadows. In each episode, Electra and the co-hosts explore ways to think about and plan for difficult relationships with people and systems in a way that stays grounded in values and centers community.  I invite you to try out focusing on Empathy and Collaboration as a realistic and compassionate model for interpersonal interactions. If you find yourself Under the Umbra, let’s find our way back to the light.

Find the show's home right here!

Support the show via Patreon.com The show is supported by “Responsive” Patrons: Ellery and KC, as well as several more on the Structured and Unscripted levels! Thank you so much for your support!

This podcast was created, recorded, edited and produced by me, Electra, and brought to you by Bridge to Becoming LLC. Music is by SoulProdMusic on Pixabay and used with permission. Show art is by Lo Carter, 2023. Subtitle crafted by Vera!


We delve more into Dacher Keltner’s book The Power Paradox and we indulge in some gossip about what was at that time current events! Events have updated since early June when I recorded. 

Folks who are binge-listening later, this will not be relevant, but for folks following along here at the beginning, I am very painfully and acutely aware of the big gaps in time between episode releases! I have some explanations (not excuses) for that, but I’ll leave it for the end to keep this intro short. Let’s stick to Power for right now!

First, I started re-listening to the book in question as I was editing and then ran into the problem of just wanting to read aloud the whole thing to you. It’s a short book! 4.5hrs or so at 1.0x speed as an audiobook, and 164 pages of double-spaced content not counting the index and appendices. I recommend checking it out yourselves! (And maybe you could use my affiliate link to do it! Or find it at your local library! Whichever works for you!)

Reading Memes Aloud / #HopePunk

Also I’m going to read aloud this great Meme screenshot of a tumblr conversation I’ve seen shared several times:
writing-prompt-s: “In a game with no consequences, why are you still playing the ‘Good’ side?”
raphaeliscoolbutrude: Because being mean makes me feel bad.
deflare: because my no-consequences power fantasy is being able to help everyone.

This is why I live in hope! #HopePunk (a link https://www.tumblr.com/amethystlashiec/178369351356/deflare-raphaeliscoolbutrude )

How power is influencing me personally!

In this middle part, I was talking with my friend, as all humans are wont to do, about a public figure and celebrity and what is “common knowledge” and gossip about that person.
As I edited the audio and fact-checked what I had said with my friend – knowing that I’d planned to make the conversation public – I hesitated as to whether to go forward with this section. I have deleted (unbenownst to y’all listening) other things where I recounted something I had learned that turned out to be different than I remembered, or just straight up repeating false statements because they had “truthiness.” So I thought about doing that here: Deleting the whole thing.
But this episode is about Power and how people with power use their power to control their environment. Some power and influence people can wield are SLAPP suits —Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation— where someone with a lot of money, access to lawyers, positive public opinion, and institutional power from being –oh, say– white and male and middle aged or older, will file a lawsuit against someone without those resources knowing that it requires money, time, and emotional fortitude to go to the court and get the suit dismissed. Some states (including mine) have laws against SLAPP suits, but another resource people with money have is choosing the jurisdiction they file the suit in.
(Show Notes but not Intro speech: Heard and Depp are Hollywood actors who do not live or work in the Commonwealth of Virginia. But Depp was allowed to sue in the state because the news outlet that ran the article, The Washington Post, “houses its printing press and online server in Fairfax County.” The Post is not named as a defendant in the case. [newline] Depp’s lawyer acknowledged in a pre-trial hearing that one of the reasons they brought the case in a Fairfax County courthouse is because Virginia's anti-SLAPP law is not as broad as the one in California.)
So I thought about how my very reasonable fear of being harassed simply for talking about what I think I know, what a lot of people think they know, in a very human and every-day way was a good reason to just delete this section, but since the episode is about Power, I figured that is letting go of the power that I have as an articulate and educated White middle-aged person with a reliable internet connection and the ability to find decent sources for fact checking. So I chose to publish the conversation I had, publish the fact checking I did after the conversation was over, and publish honesty about how to be accountable for how we come to know things and then correct them.
Anyway, fingers crossed that my buzzing is too insignificant to swat at. Will follow up if I need a legal fund crowd-sourcing campaign or something.

Interjection on when dues became optional:

OK, got this very wrong. It’s good to pay attention to when Truthiness is not observable or communal fact.
First, the Labor Management Relations Act of 1947—a.k.a. Taft-Hartley Act— outlawed the contracts where a union could require a company to only hire union workers. Then states, one at a time, would pass “right to work” laws that said a new hire doesn’t have to join the union that would represent their interest. However, union dues could still be deducted from all workers’ wages or salary because the union would be protecting their interests whether they chose to be active in the union or not. From 1947 to 2018, “in states without right-to-work laws, employees can still opt to pay only agency fees, which are limited to the cost of collective bargaining activities and don’t include expenses related to union lobbying and other political activities.” (Source)
Then June 27, 2018 (so recent!) a Supreme Court Ruling Janus v. AFSCME (written by Samuel Alito, but a 5-4 vote, dissent by Justice Elena Kagan) struck down the requirement of paying dues.

Interjection: quick update on Elon Musk:

Speaking of “flickering” and unpredictable wielding of power, an update since Ian and I recorded is that Meta has launched a competitor to Twitter called Threads and people flocked to it because they don’t like Twitter under Elon, and then Elon top-down re-named Twitter X despite a lot of people suggesting it’s a bad idea. https://mashable.com/article/musk-x-twitter-paypal
He announced he “has Aspegers” on SNL while also saying he is the first host with this neurodivergence despite Dan Aykroyd also having hosted SNL after publicly disclosing being Autistic. May 2021  (PS This Slate contextualizing article by Sara Luterman, an Autistic woman, has additional important context for the announcement.) https://slate.com/culture/2021/05/elon-musk-aspergers-snl-autism-spectrum.html 
I had said to Ian that Elon got his wealth from a family emerald mine in apartheid South Africa but that’s complicated. Rather than just delete it, let’s fact check in public, eh? Turns out there is controversy about the South African, or maybe Zambian, emerald mine? https://www.snopes.com/news/2022/11/17/elon-musk-emerald-mine/ I had no idea until looking into it. But one thing I did learn was that Elon has a difficult relationship with his father, and his father is the main source of the Emerald Mine information, and so we don’t know if either Elon or Errol are reliable narrators about the emerald mine’s existence or contribution to Elon’s confidence or security in starting businesses.
But his behavior in SpaceX, Tesla, and Twitter and with Twitter does reflect this retaliation of using public information to observe his travel https://www.npr.org/2022/12/14/1142967190/twitter-elon-musks-private-jet
or criticizing him or fact-checking/correcting in public or in private. https://www.theverge.com/2022/11/15/23460729/elon-musk-fire-twitter-engineers-dissent

Strict Scrutiny Podcast “‘Not That Bad’ is Still Bad!” (June 5, 2023) re: Glacier Northwest v. Teamsters

MythBusters S3.E2 Salsa Escape Episode aired Feb 23, 2005 https://www.discovery.com/shows/mythbusters/episodes/salsa-escape 

American television comedian Stephen Colbert coined the term truthiness in this meaning[5] as the subject of a segment called "The Wørd" during the pilot episode of his political satire program The Colbert Report on October 17, 2005. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Truthiness 

Self-disclosure about disability.

I did not anticipate how much I would be influenced by some events in my life that were very resource intensive, and that meant I didn’t have the resources to focus on doing audio processing and editing.  Occurrences that sucked my energy out like the Count Rogan machine in Princess Bride:

  • It has been hot. We all know this. But I am fairly temperature sensitive and have a hard time internally temperature regulating, so a lot of my day was managing air flow in the apartment, taking showers, changing clothes, and lying very very still, and also not turning on electronics that generate heat such as my laptop when it’s doing audio processing! And definitely not turning off the air conditioner which is an enormous white noise generator.
  • Hustling for mutual aid because my husband’s small life insurance policy is running out! Asking for money, sorting through bill due dates and figuring out which things can be paid with credit cards and paid down later versus which can be cancelled or skipped versus which have to be cash, and also asking for money in our Capitalist Colonialist paradigm, is so fucking exhausting! I can’t even express to you how doing this wrung me out emotionally and mentally like a soggy washcloth such that I also physically ached. 
  • I was also worrying about upcoming meetings where I didn’t know how they would go —a classic trigger of stress for Autistic folks— and therefore expending mental energy running scenarios and counterfactuals, and preparing for moderate-bad case and worst case scenarios, only to have the meeting go close to the best possible way. But I spent a lot of weeks worrying. As a PDA-subtype of Autistic person, the potential yielding of autonomy that I thought I would have to do was really disabling. 
  • Worrying about an upcoming event that went waaaaay worse for me than I anticipated. I went to one of the Burning Man related events a.k.a. A Local Burn because a beloved family member is involved in them and wanted to share that with me, but I very quickly learned that my nervous system, the categories of things that are distressors rather than eustressors, and the way my cPTSD plays out in social interactions means that an offering-taking style gift economy is one wherein I shall starve and remain isolated, and also I cannot handle more than 20 people because my brain tries to track all of them, and there were about 900 people, so I basically just had an Autistic Shutdown/meltdown at about the 7-hour mark and managed to organize myself to leave 23 hours after arriving though I’d planned on staying 4 days.  And then it took me about 2 weeks to recover, but because I was in burnt out crispy recovery mode, I got into further conflicts around my home and got further burnt out.  
  • And then there was a family event that turned out to be net distressing rather than net eu-stressing. More recovery time as I sorted out past traumas and things to grieve.  
  • In this next thing, I am using a term specifically as jargon in the Worlsey 5E acupuncture realm and no other realm: I got briefly possessed by The Barbie Movie but have sorted that out with some qi gong on acupuncture points. Basically, for several days I could only talk, think, or write about my take on it and it interfered with my ability to connect to other living beings, and I think I was even a little disembodied and depersonalized (those are psychology jargon words). Now I will happily talk about the movie and the industry (I am planning an episode about it with respect to Empathy and Collaboration) but it isn’t absorbing my every waking moment and half of my dreams.
  • And then the consideration around discussing a public figure who is know for being sensitive to being criticized and likes to throw around his power to squelch criticism that I’ve already talked about…

Delays delays delays.

Anyway, I’m trying to get back into the swing of things. But this podcast is made by a disabled Autistic person.  Modulate your expectations accordingly.

Anyway, THERE IS STILL A PART 3 THAT I AM EDITING! And Patreon bonus material! And I’m still making arrangements for additional co-hosts and yet more topics! Stay tuned! Thanks for your patience!

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