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The Peasant Food I’m Not Upscaling

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Department of Not Surprised, But Still Sad

I recently read Junot Diaz’ acclaimed article in the New Yorker (The Silence: The Legacy of Childhood Trauma), wherein he revealed publicly for the first time his own history of childhood sexual abuse . [1]    It was a stirring account, to say the least.

I’ve never been fond of nor impressed by Diaz’s short fiction – and haven’t read but a few of his stories because the ones I did read left the proverbial bleech taste in my mouth, due in most part to the male-female dynamic found within. His style and themes reminded me of a more contemporary, multicultural Norman Mailer (and other acclaimed alpha male writers whose work I loathed, fiction writers who used their supposed hyper-realism narrative styles to impart their own loathing for women in any roles other than as their objects of sexual desire ). Ah, but for years Diaz was the new/exotic literary sensation in town, so who was this middle-aged white lady to judge?

Having undergone  sexual abuse seems particularly difficult for men to admit to; thus, my cynicism at his revelation shamed moiself. Cynicism as in, I thought that perhaps this (his essay) was his way of explaining/justifying (what I saw as) the sexism in his writing (a phenomenon too often explained/excused, for male writers, by literary “talent”    [2] )…

But that bit o’ skepticism was not my first response to the why reveal this now?-ness of his essay. My immediate, gut reaction was,  He’s laying the groundwork….  Translation: someone is going to accuse him of  Metoo conduct, and this (I did what I did because of what was done to me), overtly or implicitly, will be his defense.

And shame on me for thinking that.

I kept my opinion to moiself – now, there’s an admission you won’t often hear  – and was glad I did so.

 

 

yeahright

 

 

 

Then came the story in last Friday’s New York Times, wherein Diaz was speaking at a writer’s conference:

The writer Zinzi Clemmons stood up. Without identifying herself by name, she asked Mr. Díaz about a recent essay he had published in The New Yorker detailing the sexual assault he experienced as an 8-year-old boy. She then asked why he had treated her the way he had six years prior, when she was a graduate student at Columbia….

Ms. Clemmons said she believed that Mr. Díaz had tried to pre-empt accusations like hers by writing the autobiographical essay in The New Yorker last month 

Other accusations of his misconduct have since surfaced;  Diaz resigned his position on the Pulitzer Prize board as the allegations are being investigated.

I feel bad about this; I take no joy in having my cynicism validated. I am not questioning the validity of Diaz’s report of childhood abuse. And the thing of it is, and it could be true that he abused his power over women as a direct (or oblique) result of his own history of being abused.  Or, these could be separate issues. Either way, all ways, it’s just….sad.

*   *   *

 

We Interrupt The Ranting For A Moment Of Gratitude

Deep thought of the day: a rubber chicken does not, in fact, have to be made of rubber, to embody the essence of the rubber chicken.

Translation: Mere words cannot express my feeling that there is an ultimate rightness to the universe, when I am presented with evidence that some mahvelous people, when they encounter an object which reminds them of a rubber chicken, are reminded of moiself[3]

Thanks, JWW.

 

 

jww

Whaddya think, is she’s one of us?

 

*   *   *

We now Return To The Previously Scheduled Ranting

*   *   *

Department Of Yet Another Reason To Scream At A Screen
Adjunct Department Of  Yes, I Should (And Do) Know Better

My afternoon exercise sessions often occur around the time when the local Decades TV station runs episodes of Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In. If I am not working out to one of my exercise DVDs, I’ll tune in to the Laugh-In reruns. I’ll admit to thoroughly enjoying the retro fun of it all, including memories of watching it when it originally aired.

 

 

tinytim

Can we ever forget – or forgive – the show that introduced the world to Tiny Tim?

 

 

 

I remember how moiself and my buddies would take turns watching Laugh-In at each other’s houses, sprawled on our stomachs on the living room floor, usually with our parents seated behind us, sitting in their armchairs, also watching the show.  Our fun was enhanced by the prideful, barely stifled giggles that can only be produced by eleven-to-thirteen year olds who realized that the grownups and were laughing for different reasons (and at different times) than we were. Translation: many of the naughty jokes/double entendre‘s Laugh-In was known for– and almost all of the drug references – zoomed over our parents’ heads.

Fast forward to the present, and I am finding that for every skit or joke I enjoy and relive, I also marvel at how dated much of the show’s humor is.  [4]  What is particularly striking to me is how Laugh-In  – considered ahead of its time by tweaking the customs and prejudices of society – trafficked in so much hackneyed humor that was beholden to its time, in many cases reinforcing (not critiquing) stereotypes of ethnic minorities and gays and (especially) women.

Once again, I digress.

 

 

DUH

 

 

So. The danger to television-as-backdropexercising is that I am often in the middle of, say, lifting a dumbbell when the show goes to commercial, and thus am unable to hit the remote’s mute button. The commercials for daytime TV shows can be particularly odious, as the demographic is obviously considered to be the target audience for Certain Products For Those Of A Certain Age (read: elderly/infirmity drugs and diet plans).

One particular/frequently running ad is exceptionally…oh, how can I put it? It frosts my butt.  The second time I saw it  [5]  I realized, between biceps curls, that I had begun yelling at the television screen, at the two perky, formerly in shape and now chunky, E list celebrities (a former actor married to a former football player)  [6]  reduced to hocking a snake oil potion enthusiastically promoting a weight loss product. With no sense of irony and a surplus of golly gee this seems too good to be true, but it is! pride, they actually recited the following dialog:

 

* We eat our favorite foods and still lose four times more weight!

*Nothing in your lifestyle needs to change!
(as a picture of the implied favorites, foods-that-once-may-have-been-many-different-colors-but-which-now-are-all-deep-fat-fried-yellow ®, flashes by on the screen.)

 

 

hearyourself

 

 

 

And there I am, screaming at a screen, at the asinine and totally bogus “promises” repeated, again and again, about how “nothing in your lifestyle has to change….

but it’s your fucking lifestyle that got you this way in the first place  — it’s that junk you’ve been eating that did this to you and but now you’re boasting that you can continue eating the same rubbish ?!?!?

And of course, the grammar cop in me is irritated by the ad’s claims that a person using the weight loss supplement can “lose 4 times as much/more weight!”

Okay…I’m waiting…but there is no follow-up. Excuse me, aren’t y’all forgetting something?  “As much/more” are comparisons, and thus require comparatives.

 

 

Grammarcop

Hold still and this won’t hurt as much.

 

 

 

“Lose 4 times as much/more weight!”!”  As much or as more as what, pray tell? As much as a person who’s never used the product but keeps scarfing their favorite foods faster than a hotdog-eating contest competitor on death row?  More than a herd of weasels on an all-kale diet?  More than twelve three-toed sloths on a treadmill?

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of If Only You’d Had A More Interesting Childhood

My mother once told me that she viewed cooking as the least favorite of (what she considered to be) her duties as a homemaker. Although her family never went hungry, that attitude was revealed in terms of the variety (read: not much) of dinners she served to her family. She was the target audience for the advertising mad men – the  marketers whose mission was to convince 1950s – 1970s homemakers that the roles and tasks to which women were relegated were tedious and burdensome.  Convenient, an adjective heretofore not associated with food, became lauded — packaged meals and prefab  “food products” would save her from the drudgery that was cooking (and, these salesmen assured her, these food products were ultimately “better” – as in, more nutritious – for her family than anything she might be able to cook).

And she bought it –  hook, line, and Hamburger Helper sinker.

A recent Fresh Air podcast featuring an interview with chef Chef Lidia Bastianich made me think of my childhood culinary “heritage,” such as it is.  [7]  Chef Lidia is yet another foreign born cook of humble beginnings who came to the USA and made her fame and fortune (in both the TV cooking shows, cookbooks and restaurant businesses) by presenting the cuisine and heritage of her youth to Americans.

When Fresh Air host Terry Gross asked Lidia about the ironies of serving peasant food in top-tier Manhattan restaurants, I wondered if I had missed my chance do the same. However, unlike Chef Lidia, moiself did not have an exotic Italian-Croatian background. What would be the peasant food of my SoCal childhood that I could make seem trendy – Tang? Cool Whip? Rice a Roni? Spaghetti-os?

 

 

 

swanson

With the right marketing Manhattan gourmands will pay $95 for this.

 

 

 

*   *   *

May you realize the futility of screaming at screens;
May anything rubber chicken-related make you think of…someone you love;  [8]
May you maintain an embarrassed fondness for the peasant food of your youth;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

*   *   *

 

 

[1] Raped at age 8, by a trusted adult.

[2] to wit, see Junot Díaz And The Myth Of Male Genius – How a male writer’s “brilliance” is used to explain away his obvious misogyny…

[3] Even better when they acquire said anything and present it to moiself.

[4] No surprise and to be expected, with any show that tacked political and social topical issues.

[5] The first time, I couldn’t quite believe I was hearing what I was hearing. And it was not an ad for hearing aids.

[6] To protect their privacy, I’ll call them Holly Robinson Peete and Rodney Peete.

[7] It isn’t, really.

[8] Betcha you thought, if only for a second, that moiself was going to write, “moiself.”

The College Graduate I’m Not Embarrassing

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As Belle prepares to graduate from college this weekend my brain has been pelting me with random memories, such as the following story (which Belle might categorize as you’re never too mature or academically successful to have your parents embarrass you.)

 

 

SadieMay15rugby

Belle, at her team’s “Rugby formal.”

 

 

 

Dateline: two years ago. MHN I have traveled to a small Southern Oregon college to attend one of Belle’s rugby games.  [1]   During the halftime break MH and I are tossing a rugby ball back-and-forth with Belle, who is showing us one of the team’s ball-handling drills. I make an errant throw to MH, who chases the ball downfield. One of the young women from a group of Belle’s teammates sitting by the side of the field looks at Belle, then at MH and moiself, and the proverbial light bulb appears above her head.

 

 

lightbulb

 

 

She calls out to me.

Young Rugby Woman: Hey, are you…you’re Belle’s parents?

Moiself: Indeed, we are.

YRW: Oh, I love Belle!  Thank you so much for making her!

Moiself: It was our pleasure.  Literally.

Belle:  Moooooooom !!

 

 

prom rugby

Prom Rugby game. Yep, it’s self-explanatory.

 

*   *   *

Department Of Things That Would Never Happen At New Seasons

I ran over to the market closest to our house ( let’s call it Albertson’s  [2]   ), to pick up a couple of last minute items. There were two young men working in the produce department, standing beside carts loaded with boxes of lettuce and other veggies – items they were trimming and setting out on the various produce display shelves. One of the Produce Guys looked up at me, noticed the looking-for-something expression on my face, and asked me if he could be of any assistance.

I thanked him, and asked where I could find the organic basil. He pointed behind himself, toward the tomatoes stand, then asked me if there was anything else he could help me find. Why yes, as a matter of fact. I’d noticed there were a plethora of golden beets on display, but I needed three bunches of red beets, and there was only one.  Mighty there be more red beets in the back?

“Yeah,” Produce Guy grinned, “there’s another box of red beets in the back.” He continued to trim the lettuce from his cart. “But as you can see,” he glanced over at the Other Produce Guy, “We are in the middle of a pallet right now, so it’s going to be a while before we can get to it.”

 

 

REALLY

 

 

 

Yes, really.

I could see that he was busy, but why ask me if he could help me find something if he had no intention of leaving his precious pallet?  My kneejerk thought was, Yeah, right – this would never happen at New Seasons[3]

A rare kneejerk reaction that was spot-on. Any NS employee you ask for help will drop what they are doing to lead you to the proper aisle, or let you sample a new produce item you’re not sure about, even if they are doing something else or what you are asking about isn’t in their department.

 

 

 

NEemployee

That’s why she’s happy to spend the bulk of her shopping $$ here.

 

*    *    *

Addendum To The Previous Story

It is entirely possible that Produce Guy’s customer service fail was due to him being shocked by a heretofore unimaginable situation: someone wanted more beets.

 

 

skeptical

She said she needed three bunches of beets?  Nobody needs three bunches of beets.

 

*   *   *

Department Of Previews Of Coming Attractions

 

 

 

 

dragonboat

Here be dragons!

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department of Versed Mouth, aka

Department Of Things They Say You Said When You Were Under The Influence
Of Versed After Your Routine/Screening   [4] Colonoscopy…
And How Do You Know They Aren’t Lying To You?

 

* I have lazy mouth

* I like hummus, too (when asked by the nurse if I’d like saltine crackers)

* Why are there little dogs in the hospital?  [5]

* Where do we keep the shovels?

 

 

 

 

colonprepjpg

Be afraid; be very afraid.

 

*   *   *

 

 

May you never be too old to embarrass – or take pride in – your
soon-to-be college graduate;
May you experience nothing but the finest in beet-finding customer service;
May there be dragon boats in your future;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

*   *   *

 

 

[1] She was on the team for ~ two years – we have the ER/Urgent care bills to prove it – until injuries sidelined her.

[2] Because, it is.

[3] Where we do the bulk of our grocery shopping…for many reasons, including their awesome staff.

[4] Yeah, they call it that. I don’t know about you, it’s just not part of my “routine” to have someone, even Qualified Medical Professionals ®  stick a tube up your butt and watch pictures of it on a monitor.

[5] Well, yes, a totally legitimate question, IMHO. And don’t tell me they were emotional support animals.

The Super Power I’m Not Flaunting

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Department Of Before I Go Any Further….

Happy Star Wars Day, y’all.

 

 

May4

*   *   *

Department Of Justice Served Cold

While the “Klingon” proverb declares that Revenge is a dish best served cold, I think that justice is best served steaming from the oven. But as that great philosopher Mick Jagger Simone de Beauvoir said, you can’t always get what you want. Keeping that in mind, last week provided quite the celebration for fans of hot dishes.

Backstory.  Dateline: a long time ago in a galaxy far far away (read: Davis, California, summer, 1978). I am a student at UC Davis, and it’s a muggy eve with not much to do after my summer job shift at the library has ended. Friend and fellow student RM invites me to go with him to visit his friend, MH.  MH and his girlfriend (real life working people, not students) share a studio apartment in Davis.  For reasons unclear to me, RM thinks I might enjoy watching MH and his girlfriend practice for an upcoming backgammon tournament.

The apartment is small; as MH and his girlfriend set up the backgammon board they gesture to RM and I to take a seat on their bed.  We do, and my heel bumps against the hard, metallic edge of something under the bed. I reach down and remove – an axe? Yep, that’s what it is – from under the bed, and tentatively hoist the rather hefty chopper over my shoulders.

“Uh…expecting lumberjacks?” I ask.

“No,” MH replies, “But if the East Area Rapist shows up, we’ll be ready.”

 

 

EARjpg

 

 

Frontstory. Dateline: last week. Two days in a row, while driving On My Way To Somewhere ® and listening to the radio, I found moiself pounding my car’s steering wheel and yelling YEEEEEEEEESSSSSS !!!!!   as I heard

Day 1: on an NPR newscast that authorities in California had arrested the suspect known as the East Area Rapist/Golden State Killer, and then on

Day 2: on a BBC World News program announcer crisply and dryly   [1] broadcasting the news of the conviction of Bill Cosby for sexual assault.

 

 

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Worlds Yet To Be Discovered

While listening to a Planet Money podcast, titled The Blue Pallet, I was once again struck by a sense of perspective-inducing humility vis-à-vis my knowledge of the universe and my place in it.

I do try to keep up with the latest discoveries in astronomy, and give a hearty cheer whenever I hear the announcement that another NASA satellite has discovered another exoplanet. But I found myself floored when I tuned in to what I expected was just another podcast, and heard the following:

We are going to bring you deep inside the pallet world…..

Why is this the first time I am hearing about a world of which I hitherto had no knowledge?

 

 

planet

Yeah, fine, more planets, but can they find a new (and blue) pallet?

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Pot, Meet Kettle

Surely, IMHO, there are few books with a more apt title than the one I just finished re-reading:  And the Band Played On  (20th-Anniversary Edition). Award-winning journalist Randy Shilts’ classic, hailed by many as a “masterpiece of investigative reporting,” is subtitled, Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic. As for the band that played on…and on…and on…what a frustrating story, so magnificently told.

IMHO there are very few heroes in the book, other than family and friends carrying for the desperately ill and dying in such trying and confusing circumstances, and also those compassionate physicians and research scientists searching desperately for a cure.  [2]

As for far too many of the gay rights “advocates” and almost all of the politicians and religious “leaders” back then…. Here’s my cheer for y’all:

Gimme an I, gimme a C Gimme a K, what’s that spell?

Both of those “sides” were the proverbial opposite sides of the same coin when it came to tactics of blame and denial. Time and time again, the gay rights advocates and the Christian Right  [3]   reminded me of each other, as they both clung to their ideology/party line in the face of the facts, and with seemingly little willingness to look at the faces of suffering/dying human beings.

 

 

 

shame

 

 

 

Certain business interests,   [4]   political conservatives (read: the Reagan administration) heavily influenced by (and politically beholden to) the fear- and hate-mongering rhetoric of Jerry Falwell and his ilk, and the growing ranks of politically active Evangelicals – all ignored the alarms raised by scientists and epidemiologists (and in some cases even their own family members, who knew someone affected by AIDS or were themselves at risk).

Conservative politicians targeted public health agencies for budget cuts, and in effect stuck their fingers in their ears and sang la la la we can’t hear you at any mention of anything related to (what was considered then to be an exclusively) a health crisis affecting homosexuals. Reagan even forbid his Surgeon General from answering reporter’s questions about the epidemic.

Any concern about individual human health, as well as that of the society at large, was suffocated under a blanket of shaming/bigoted rhetoric about how AIDS was a “gay disease,” and that gays had brought “the wrath of ______( insert name of favorite deity)” down upon themselves by abandoning “traditional family values.” Meanwhile, traditional values of compassion and empathy, of caring for the weak and vulnerable – and of listening to the scientists and doctors talking about the treatment and transmission of disease – were nowhere to be found.

Imagine something, anything – a disease, or a natural disaster or a series of coal mine explosions or terrorist attacks – taking the lives of over 20,000 Americans, and the President of the USA saying nothing about it[5]  And meanwhile, people were dying.

 

 

disappointed

 

 

Then and now, the rhetoric and actions (or lack thereof) of the conservative political, business and religious communities came as little surprise to moiself. But I expected more of others.

On the other side, there were a growing number of (both gay and straight) physicians who, before they began putting the pieces together of the puzzling array of symptoms and illnesses which would come to be known as AIDS, had been saying that “something is going on/something must be done” about the alarming increase in the number and variety of diseases infecting sexually active gay men – diseases about which doctors found the afflicted to be alarmingly casual (Gonorrhea? Syphilis? Shigellosis? Hepatitis? Salmonella? And amoebic dysentery and amebiasis and giardiasis and campylobacteriosis and a variety of intestinal parasites and …? Just give me my pill/penicillin injection and I’ll see you later….).

And yet far too many gay rights advocates would broke no criticism of either the industries marketing the commodification of anonymous/promiscuous/unprotected sex (e.g., the sex clubs and bathhouses) – which were fertile grounds for both the transmission of existing diseases and the “breeding” of new ones – nor the patrons of such businesses.  Those who pointed out both the psychologically numbing and physiologically deadly dangers of bathhouse-type hook ups   [6]   were seen as betrayers, and were often isolated and vilified, even (or especially) when the warnings came from those of “their own kind” (e.g. playwright and activist Larry Kramer).  And meanwhile, people were dying. 

 

“This is going to be a world-class disaster. And no one is paying attention.”
Dr. Marcus Conant, dermatologist, founder of the San Francisco AIDS project, and one of the first physicians to diagnose and treat AIDS , as quoted in And the Band Played On)

*   *   *

 

Department Of Since That Was Not Exactly The Feel-Good Post Of The Year…

 

different

 

*   *   *

Department Of Reasons To Keep Your Superpowers Hidden

Dateline: a recent evening, at the dinner table, discussing with MH the Superhero movies we have yet to see.  I confessed that, unbeknownst to him, my dear spouse, I have hidden something all these years: I am a Superhero.

MH (flashing a prove-it smirk) “And what is your superpower?”
Moiself: “I can smell fear.”
MH: ???
Moiself: “The problem is, it smells like farts.”

 

 

 

 

super

She who smelt it, dealt it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

May your super power be socially acceptable if not impressive;
May you relish the occasion when justice is (finally) served;
May the 4th be with you;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] You know the conviction is real when you hear it from the mouth of a Brit.

[2] When some of them weren’t fighting over “first discovery” credits.

[3] Whose ascendency to political power – something evangelicals had long eschewed and/or held in suspicion – was  in large part fueled by appeals to homophobia.

[4] E.g., for-profit blood banks.

[5] Ronald Reagan infamously refused to say the word AIDS or even publicly acknowledge the epidemic’s existence until late in his second term. By that time over 36,000 Americans had been diagnosed with AIDS, almost 21,000 had died, and the disease had a reported 50,000 plus cases over 100 countries.

[6] The promiscuity so prevalent in many 19702-80s era gay (male) communities, often presented as  an in-your-face reaction to the repression and stigmatization of gay relationships, reminded me of a five year old’s tantrum – a tactic admittedly effective at attention-getting, but ultimately self-defeating (“You callin’ me a perv? I’ll show you some perversion that’ll curl your hair….).

The Word I’m Not Making Up

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Department Of Words You Wish You’d Never Heard

Sub Department Of I So So So So Wish I Were Making This Up

incel

aka “involuntarily celibate,” a man who has a horrible personality and treats women like sexual objects and thinks his lack of a sex life comes from being “ugly” when it’s really due to his blatant sexism and terrible attitude. Incels have little to no self-awareness; when they see other “ugly” men with girlfriends  [1] they consider those men to be tricksters who have somehow beat the system and can get women despite being cursed with unattractiveness. Incels believe that women owe men sex, and that women torture men by “denying” them sex, as if sex is something people “deserve” and not a privilege given by potential sexual partners that should be respected.
Many extreme incels spend time in incel communities on the internet, scheming ways to make women have sex with them, discussing genocide of people of color and of “Chads” (men who have sex) and taking rights away from women and/or raping them and having sex with women’s dead bodies…which is PRECISELY why women want nothing to do with them.

(definition adapted from urbandictionary)

 

bad smell

*   *   *

Department of
WHAT A SURPRISE; WOW HOW UNEXPECTED; ARE YOU KIDDING ME?
NEVER SAW THAT ONE COMING; ALERT THE MEDIA;
WHO WOULD EVER HAVE GUESSED

…while most mass shooters in the past 35 years have not been found to have a serious mental illness, nearly all of them do have one thing in common: their sex…
Men don’t just constitute almost all mass shooters in recent history; they are also responsible for the vast majority of gun-associated deaths in the country. Men own guns at triple the rate of women in the U.S., at 62 percent compared to 22 percent—and also commit suicide at nearly triple the rate of women. Eighty-nine percent of murder-suicides are committed by men, and most often include an unwitting female partner or ex-partner. (excerpt from “Don’t Blame Mental Illness
for Mass Shootings; Blame Men. 
If you want to cut down on gun violence, first target toxic masculinity.”  Politico, Law and Order, 1-17-18)

 

 

gunman

Less of this, please.

 

 

 

The man accused of mowing down pedestrians in a bloody rampage in Toronto on Monday expressed his support moments before the attack for a mass murderer who became a hero of the fringe men’s rights movement.
“The Incel Rebellion has already begun!…. All hail the Supreme Gentleman Elliot Rodger!” Alek Minassian wrote on Facebook shortly before he allegedly used a van to kill 10 people and wound another 14.
( Elliot Rodger killed six people during a 2014 shooting spree in Isla Vista, California. The 22-year-old called himself an “incel,” or an involuntary celibate, a phrase invoked by men’s rights activists who feel rejected by women. Before killing himself, Rodger left behind a 137-page manifesto that described how he felt shunned by women and sought revenge.)
(excerpt from “Accused Toronto Killer Praised Woman-Hating Mass Murderer Moments Before Attack,” Daily Beast 4-24-18)

 

After claiming that he was “fighting feminism” and calling the women “a bunch of feminists,” (the mass shooter) shot all nine women in the room, killing six. He then moved through corridors, the cafeteria, and another classroom, specifically targeting women to shoot. Overall, he killed fourteen women and injured ten other women and four men in just under 20 minutes before turning the gun on himself. His suicide note claimed political motives and blamed feminists for ruining his life.
(Wikipedia, The École Polytechnique massacre)

 

 

femman

More of this, please.

 

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Which Came First – Chicken Attitude Or Egg Behavior

 

It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me,
but it can keep him from lynching me, and I think that’s pretty important.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

You may be the biggest, whiniest, most self-righteous misogynist on the planet, who believes that your god Jehovah Allah Marduk [2]  (or whatever you call your invisible friend) made the genders to be separate and yours superior; you may come from a country wherein no matter how low class/under-educated/ignorant a person you otherwise are you are also male, and thus there is always someone (female) below you in value and status, as decreed and enforced by religious and cultural norms and legal directives….

Then, you move to, say, Norway…

 

 

norse

No, please…you can go somewhere else.

 

 

 

…or another country where gender inequality is not the dominant view. You may be able to continue to structure your private and home life according to your primitive, bigoted attitudes, but in the public sphere, the laws are no longer on your side. You are forced to interact with women who are unrelated to you and over whom you have no dominance. You’ll have women clerks and baristas who will assist you with your purchases and orders; you’ll have women as co-workers and co-public transit riders and bus drivers, you’ll have women who are teachers and health care workers and who will interact with your children, and you are legally prohibited from forcing women to cover their bodies in ways you deem appropriate…and in order to navigate this society you have to interact with women (ick; girl cooties!) and aren’t allowed to fire them from a job or segregate them in a restaurant or public settings due to their gender…

And slowly…something happens. When the laws of your society change not only will many of your behaviors be forced to change, but (research shows that) your attitudes are likely going to change, as well.

 

 

 

change

 

 

 

When it comes to changing our beliefs and behaviors, most of us have it backwards. We’ve long been told that first you must change how you think and/or feel, and then that will change your behavior (e.g., educate a racist to like or at least grudgingly admire Hebrew culture and he will stop spraying painting a swastika on his Jewish neighbor’s garage door).  [3]

 

 

wrong

 

 

 

Instead, whether through compulsion or persuasion, change a person’s behavior first, and their beliefs and attitudes will eventually adapt.

 

In 2015, the Supreme Court ruled that the U.S. Constitution guarantees the right to marry as a fundamental liberty for both straight and gay couples….
(a social scientist researcher)  followed ordinary Americans at the time to see if the court decision changed their own views. Again, people’s personal beliefs didn’t change, but their behavior did….
What moved everyone in the same direction was this perception of whether other Americans support same-sex marriage and whether it would become more accepted in the future….
The Supreme Court ruling in effect told people the United States now believes same-sex marriage is OK. You could still think otherwise, but if you acted in ways that showed you didn’t agree with the consensus, you risked being left behind.
( from Romeo & Juliet In Kigali: How A Soap Opera
Sought To Change Behavior In Rwanda, 
Hidden Brain podcast 4-16-18)

 

The opening quote I used from Dr. King came from King’s reaction to a proposition – one that was both ongoing in society at large the time of King’s crusade and made to King personally – about how advocating for civil rights laws was ultimately futile unless there was a change in white people’s hearts and minds. When challenged by those who claimed you can’t legislate acceptance – or even tolerance – Dr. King and others noted that that wasn’t the point. The law may not force you to love me, but it could “force” you to leave me alone and/or not bash me upside the head for occupying the “wrong” seat on the bus.

One of the biggest boons to gay rights was when gay rights leaders advocated for across-the-board “coming out of the closet,” on the premise (later proven to be true) that the gaining of civil rights – and personal acceptance of gays as friends, neighbors, co-workers and family members – for gay people, by straight people, was correlated to whether or not they (straight people) actually knew a gay person. A 2009 Gallup Poll noted that, while “views of gay marriage are strongly related to ideology…when controlling for ideology, those who know someone who is gay or lesbian are significantly more supportive of gay marriage than are those of the same political persuasion who do not personally know someone who is gay or lesbian.”

 

 

gay

 

 

 

That poll, and many surveys since, similarly found that  “…those with personal experience with gay or lesbian individuals more accepting of same-sex relations in general,” and that when people are no longer free by law to discriminate, they may at first maintain their personal beliefs and attitudes which cause them to discriminate, but that these attitudes gradually change, or at least soften.

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of And Don’t Even Get Me Started On Us Happy Heathens

atheists

*   *   *

May your attitudes change your behaviors for the better;
May your better behaviors change your attitudes;
May you put your Science Mind ® to work and come up with a vaccination for incel-ism;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

 

 

 

[1] These “ugly” men with girlfriends are respectful to women and women are attracted to their personalities, but incels can’t comprehend such a phenomenon.

[2] Marduk was one of the big cheese deities of Mesopotamia/Babylon. Y’all are probably familiar with the names Allah and Jehovah.

[3] Actually, legislating and enforcing laws against such hate crimes will be more likely to keep the guy’s garage door graffiti-free, independent of what his neighbor really thinks about him.

The Privacy I’m Not Assuming

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Department Of Weighing In On The Privacy Thing

Re the Facebook data scandal, and the reality – apparently astonishing, to some people – that social media and other websites are compromising and/or selling the data they collect on their users and visitors.  Some of these astonished some people are throwing fits of indignation, demanding that Congress “do something.” When it comes to the idea of doing something, others of the some people have been expressing their sense of futility by employing that old English proverb, trotting it out before, during and after FB co-founder/CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony before Congress:

It’s like closing the barn door after the horse has bolted.

Gee, ya think?

Not only has the horse bolted, that high-spirited steed done high tailed it to Louisville where it placed in the Kentucky Derby and was last seen headed for Lubbock to join the Professional Rodeo circuit.

*   *   *

I have no solutions for the problem and even less hope for its abatement, based in part on the existence of Amazon and Netflix recommendations. Y’all may know what I mean.

 

 

recommend

 

 

 

My recent purchases from Amazon include spatulas, two Kindle books (one on Buddhist meditation, the other a rock star’s memoir), and a tava. [1]  Thus, in the coming weeks I will see ads for such items not only on Amazon[2]  but on other sites I visit, along with “recommendations” for future purchases, such as books on the “uncensored oral history of punk” and “Vodka is Vegan,” and cinnamon-flavored dental floss, and a ten pound sack of chickpea flour, and….

We are living in a world wherein seemingly/otherwise intelligent people do not  apply their time and (presumably) hard-earned  mathematics/computer skills in ways which might be used to, say, reverse global warming or otherwise improve The Human Condition. ®  Instead, those with coding and other such skills are rewarded for devising algorithms to enable Netflix to offer me “Top Picks for Robyn” and “Because you watched….” categories. Based on the fact that in the past month I have watched episodes of Grey’s Anatomy and The Great British Baking Show, a documentary on endangered snow leopards, and a Ricky Gervais standup comedy special, the great minds in charge of such things have used their highly sophisticated calculations to try to convince me that I’d love to watch….50 First Dates?  [3]

There is little hope, in such a world.

 

 

 

horse

Don’t let the door hit you in the ass on your way out.

 

 

 

A long time ago in a galaxy far far away, I remember listening to an interview with a “computer/Internet/privacy expert” – a hacker who got caught, and as penance/punishment was hired by the corporation he’d hacked, to try to make their systems as un-hackable as possible. Former Hacker Guy went on to do independent consulting work for various corporations in areas related to internet privacy. I can’t remember all the details of the interview,   [4]  but what got seared into my brain were the two pieces of incongruous advice Former Hacker Guy gave, when asked by the interviewer to tell The Average Citizen ® what they can do to protect their information:

(1) When it comes to data about yourself – personal, employment, financial, recreational, you name it – fiercely guard your privacy and fight for laws to protect such information.

(2) There is *no* privacy, not anymore. Get used to it.

 

privacy

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of It’s Not Working

After finishing   [5]   the (afore-mentioned) book on the efficacy of Buddhist-style meditation – about seeing life for how it really is, detaching your illusions and gaining perspective – why did I then, while standing in a concert entry line with MH, note the faces of the young, attractive females standing in front of and behind me, and think petty comments to myself (along the lines of, I wonder how long it’ll be before she looks like…well, like me.)?

 

buddha

Not a verbatim quotation.

 

 

*   *   *

Privacy, Schrivacy – Department Of The Last Word On The Subject

Some of us realized long ago – or at least after we adopted our first feline – that there can be no privacy where a cat is involved.

 

 

catpawdoor

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of The Word After The Last Word

I was wondering: Can a Buddhist monk feel it is appropriate to use email?

My guess:  Sure, as long as there are no attachments.

 

 

squirelbuddha

 

*   *   *

 

 

 

May you realize that when you shut the bathroom door your cat thinks you’re doing something incredible enthralling;
May your barn doors  [6]  stay open so horses can come and go as they please;
May you share your squirrel-and-buddha jokes with an appreciative audience;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] A large flat frying pan used for cooking chapattis and a variety of Indian and south Asian flatbreads.

[2] I don’t get it – continuing to advertise, say, the spatula to me when their records would clearly show that I have already purchased it.

[3] They are so, so wrong, to recommend to moiself any movie with Adam Sandler in it.

[4] Nor even what show ran the interview…I’m thinking something NPR-ish.

[5] Isn’t it time for another footnote?

[6] Not that one.

The Magazine Future I’m Not Imagining

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Department Of Giving One’s Imagination An Exhaustive Workout

Monday morning, in my New York Times app’s “Top Stories,” I spy with my little eye an article with the following headline:

Imagining Vogue Without Anna Wintour

Done.

Next challenge, please.

 

 

anna

How many years has it been – have I had fun yet?

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of The Wild Wacky ® Streets Of Hillsboro, Oregon

I think it’s so touching that someone in My fair City ® decided to turn a portion of their front yard into a tribute to musician Herb Albert.   [1]

 

 

 

 

lonelybull

 

 

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Things That Make Them Look Across The Table At Me And Say,
“Stop. Just Stop.”

Dateline: a week ago Friday, dinner time. I told MH and son K that I was considering ending my fiction writing sabbatical – I had an idea for a series of historical novels! The protagonists will be a poor but loving and close-knit, 19th century pioneer family, struggling to carve out a life as fruit farmers in the Oregon wilderness as they confront a recurring plague of small, parasitic insects which threaten to decimate their currant crop. I’m going to call it, “Little Louse on the Berry.”

 

 

facepalm

 

*   *   *

 

 

different

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of The Argument For Acquiring A Basic Scientific Literacy

You may be saying to yourself, I didn’t know there was an argument *against* having a basic scientific literacy.  [2]   Aside from the mission statements and curriculum listings I’ve encountered on the websites of fundamentalist religious “educational” institutions, I’m not sure that there is such an overt argument.  Nevertheless,  [3]  all you have to do is wade through a few Facebook shares (sadly, often from people who Should Know Better ® ) to realize that an appreciation for scientific thinking – that is, a basic understanding and application of critical inquiry and “factual claims” analysis – is sorely lacking in our culture.

 

 

Randiquote

 

 

 

There are soooooooooooo many reasons why we should all be on a lifelong quest to “think like a scientist” – but you really need just one: thinking like a scientist will give you a lifelong, reliable ca-ca detector.

It’s not that having a basic knowledge of science and/or the scientific method will give you all the answers  [4]   – it’s that if you have the former, you don’t need the latter.  You don’t need to know all the answers when you know the kind of questions to ask of those who allege to have The Answers.

All claims, from supernatural (“The stories in the Christian scriptures are true but those in the Muslim scriptures are false”) to economic (“Anarchocommunism is the most efficient political/economic form of socialism“) to medical (“The Chiropractic theory of subluxation is a valid diagnostic tool for identifying and treating human diseas “) to historical (“The moon landings were staged on a movie backlot by NASA”), can be understood and/or evaluated if you have a basic grasp of scientific thinking.  Doesn’t even matter if it’s the first time you’ve heard of the “healing crystals” your friend is touting – you don’t (and shouldn’t) have to take your friend’s enthusiasm at face value.

That ambassador of science literacy himself, American astrophysicist and author, Neil deGrasse Tyson, puts it this way (my emphases):

To be scientifically literate is to empower yourself to know
when someone else is full of shit…

You have an understanding of the properties of the laws of physics, so when someone comes up to you to sell you crystals and they say, “Rub these together and you’ll be healed,” you say, “Well, what are they made out of? And how many people have they healed? And what aliments do they heal? And what’s the mechanism? How much do they cost? And where are they from? And what’s their molecular structure?…and the person runs away in tears.

Science literacy is not knowing the answer – you might know the answer, but that’s not what’s fundamental. What’s fundamental is the capacity to inquire about what is true and what is not in this world. And that is the empowerment. The power of inquiry.

( Neil deGrasse Tyson, The Nerdist Podcast)

 

 

neil

 

*   *   *

 

Department Of But It Might Have Made The Checkout Clerk’s Day

Entering the grocery store, I counted my freshly-laundered, reusable produce sacks, which I’d grabbed fresh from the dryer before leaving for the store. Fortunately, I found the “hitchhiker” before I absent-mindedly used it to bag the kiwi….

 

 

 

oopsJPG

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

       May you always check for hitchhikers;
May you realize why knowing some of the questions
is better than thinking you have all of the answers;
May you, at least once in your life, place something in your front yard to make your neighbors smile;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] Get it?  Huh huh huh…get it?

[2] Maybe you should stop talking to yourself.

[3] Why does no one ever say, Neverthemore….

[4] And, of course, there is no All The Answers.

The Prank I’m Not Playing

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Department Of Good Sports

Dateline: Monday, April 2; a local yoga studio. My fellow yogis were gracious participants in my idea to play a belated April Fools’ Day prank on our equally gracious instructor.

If you’ve attended a yoga class and/or have a home practice, you may be familiar with the variety of props that may be used to attain and/or enhance certain asanas[1]

 

 

yogaprops

 

 

Some people and classes use several props (e.g., blocks, straps and bolsters) while others use little to none. The classes I attend typically use a strap for a couple of poses, the blocks for maybe one or two, and bolsters for sitting and/or final relaxation. But it has always seemed to me that there was a prop missing. During poses targeting head and neck flexibility and strengthening or those concerned with posture or spinal alignment, when I hear the suggestion to lengthen the crown of your head, I think to moiself, “There ought to be a prop for that.”

April 1 fell on a Sunday. For Monday’s class, I was prepared. I’d purchased 24 paper crowns (Did you bring enough for everyone in the class, young lady?) and passed them out to my fellow yogis before class. The rest is history.

 

 

 

yogacrowns

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of, Who, Moiself – Foodie Trend-follower?

I love me some avocadoes. I consume at least half of one avocado per day, included in my breakfast or lunch, or sometimes dinner.  [2]   But it never occurred to me to use an avocado to construct that most trendy of foods items. Until now.

Oh, look, I made some avocado toast.  To strive for authenticity, I’m thinking of charging moiself  $15 for it.

 

 

 

avotoast

*   *   *

Department Of Things You Don’t Expect (Or Want) To See In Trader Joe’s Parking Lot

It was just another shopper, pushing another red Trader Joe’s  shopping cart. Her cart was filled with groceries and there was a child  [3]  sitting in the kid seat portion of the cart. The other TJ Shopper ® and I were headed in the same direction; she was in front of me, and as I got closer to her I noticed something odd about the child. Its body size and movements (and the fact that it was sitting up unsupported) made me guess the kid was just under a year old, and its torso and limbs were in standard/chubby baby proportions…but the kid’s head was massively outsized, and blocky.

I quickened my pace and got a look at the child’s face.  Yikes, to say the least. It was as if someone had gotten hold of a 3 D printer and superimposed the head of Ricky Gervais onto an eleven-month’s old body.

 

 

 

terror

 

 

 

Now, I happen to admire much about that comic provocateur, Ricky Gervais. I’d love to espy his big head, say, one day when I glance through my office window and say, Isn’t that the multi-talented, stand-up comic/writer/actor/director/producer Ricky Gervais standing on my front porch?, and then I’d invite him in for a cup of tea and we can have a jolly good time poking fun at politics and religion and Caitlyn Jenner and other people who take themselves way too seriously.  But to see that enormous mug of his on top of a baby’s neck….

For the briefest of moments I considered returning to TJ’s, buying up all the Two Buck Chuck  in the store and drinking it in the backseat of my car.

I was going to try to find a couple of pictures online,  [4]  do some photo-shopping, and come up with something similar (to what I saw) to share with my readers. But it’s so kind of y’all to be reading this – I’ve no desire to ruin the rest of your day.  Instead, here’s a more pleasant occupant-of-a-shopping-cart image for you to ponder.

 

 

 

shopping cart

*   *   *

Department Of Do You Recognize Padding When You See It?

 

As you may have noticed, I’ve not much profound to say/report on this week.

 

 

einsteinduhjpg

 

 

Correction: actually, there is (too) much to say, much of it involving subjects that have been weighing on my mind recently. One of them is so bleak…think along the lines of articles by people even more thoughtful and articulate than moiself   [5]  who are willing to tackle such feel-good topics as

Robots taking human jobs causing hellish dystopia

Kurt Vonnegut’s Dystopian Future Has Come To Pass

Artificial Intelligence Will Best Humans At Everything By 2060, Experts Say

The US opioid addiction is an omen of a ‘hellish dystopian’ future, scientist claims, as AI takes over billions of jobs, leaving people to lead meaningless and miserable lives….

Not to be a downer or anything.

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

May you already be working on next year’s April Fool’s Day shenanigans;
May you be pleasantly surprised by the next thing you see at a Trader Joe’s parking lot;
May you never pay $15  [6]  for anything on toast;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] Yoga poses or postures.

[2] Does anyone else remember when (to non-Californians) avocados were considered by some folk to be “exotic”?

[3] Presumably hers…although I noticed absolutely no familial resemblance.

[4] Of Mr. Gervais and random male babies.

[5] Make that, 100 times more….

[6]  Not even if it’s platinum-plated caviar (and why you’d want to eat fish eggs – with or without plating – is beyond moiself).

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