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The Deal I’m Not Smelling

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Department Of Why I’m Typing With (Mostly) One Hand

In answer to the question (which no one is asking), Are those mandoline blades as sharp as they say?  [1]

 

 

fingers

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Any Questions, Class?

I’ve been seeing this quote requoted quite a lot, which leads me to believe that there is a need for clarification in the matter it addresses.  Apparently, there are people who are confused as to the responsibility of journalists to give “equal” ___   (time/weight/consideration) to “both sides” of an argument/issue/statement.  For example, if 98 out of 100 climate scientists say they have evidence showing that human activities are causing global warming, and the other two say it is uncertain whether or not human activity is causing global warming, interviewing one scientist “from each side of the debate” is not proportional or “fair and balanced” reporting on the issue.

This quote, a pithy yet profound guideline from a journalism teacher, says it best:

 

journalism101

 

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Department Of Life Imitating Art

I await the juicy revelations that are sure to come from the case of the recently arrested Russian spy, Marina Butina – who seems to be a real live red sparrow, nesting right here in the US of A. Butina is allegedly a “… covert agent (who) pursued a brazen effort to infiltrate conservative circles and influence powerful Republicans while she secretly was in contact with Russian intelligence operatives.”  Among other charges, Butina is accused of having traded – surprise! – sex for favors, which included having access to an

“…’extensive network’ of influential Americans through ‘US Person 1,’ widely believed to be GOP strategist Paul Erickson….
The DOJ added that on at least one occasion, “Butina offered an individual other than US Person 1 sex in exchange for a position within a special interest organization.”
(Business Insider, 7-18-18)

Pictures have surfaced of Butina attending that most odious of conservative religious/political US Constitution mindfucks, the National Prayer Breakfast.  It will be interesting – if not totally predictable – when her other sex-for-favor contacts turn out to be, like Erickson, the prayer breakfast moralizer types; i.e., Republicans who are also active in ultraconservative religious causes.

 

 

 

 

I once read a seemingly sincere question in an advice column about the phenomenon:  Why is it that, for example, the politician who spouts virulent anti-gay rhetoric will be the one later caught with a rent boy?  The columnist gave an articulate psychological explanation about sublimation, cognitive dissonance and denial….an explanation which I forgot a week or so after reading it.

But it seems obvious to me that many of humanity’s most complex and seemingly contradictory behavioral and rhetorical conundrums can be explained in terms a nine year old can appreciate – namely, fart analogies:

“He who smelt it, dealt it.”

 

 

spocklogic

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Stop Denigrating (Intentionally Or Otherwise) Things
About Which You Are Obviously Ignorant

Sub Department Of Things That Make Me Pull Over To The Side Of The Road While Listening To A Podcast And Take Angry/Frustrated Notes

I referred to the July 23  Fresh Air podcast, which featured an interview with writer Michael Arceneaux promoting his new book, a collection of essays titled, I Can’t Date Jesus: Love, Sex, Family, Race, and Other Reasons I’ve Put My Faith in Beyoncé.  [2]

Arceneaux is, of course, his own expert when it comes to his experiences growing up “black, gay, and Catholic in Texas.” I’ve no beef with that,  [3]  and am likely to read his book.  But when FA host  Terry Gross ask Arceneaux, who claims to have left the church, about what he believes now with regards to religion, his response revealed an annoying lack of knowledge about a designation he rejects:

Gross: So you write that…you struggle with what it is that you do believe in, but you know you’re not an atheist. Why – if you’ve given up basically on your religion, what’s the difference between that and being an atheist?

Arceneaux: …But I wouldn’t call myself an atheist because I do believe in something….
I don’t want to call myself an atheist though. I think my mom would hit me with a Bible. But, yeah, I believe in something. I’m still wrestling with that, Terry Gross.

 

facepalm

 

 

Oh. Dear.

Mr.  Arceneaux, I’d say you’re definitely not an atheist.  Because if you were, you’d likely be smart enough – i.e., a rational enough thinker –  not to say that you don’t call yourself an atheist because you “still believe in something,” which implies that (you think) atheists believe in nothing.

Look, it is okay to reject any other person’s designation of your beliefs, but make sure you understand the definition before you do so. Many of us who are religion-free call ourselves Humanists and/or Skeptics and/or Freethinkers and/or Brights, and a variety of other positive identification terms. Some of us do call ourselves atheists, or will accept being so labeled by religious people, even as we may have objections to the term. 

The biggest objection in the term, for moiself, is that it supplies very little information. By definition, an atheist is simply an a-theist – that is, someone without theism, which is a belief in gods/deities/a “supreme being.”  Thus, the term atheist defines a person in terms of what they are not, and says nothing about what they are.

A seemingly minor point, in some people’s eyes,  [4] although I’d argue that this is a very crucial distinction, one worthy of a far greater exposition than will – and has been  – found in this blog. 

 

 

 

lions and tigersjpg

Skeptics, Freethinkers and Brights, oh my!

 

 

 

 

We who are religion-free hold so many viewpoints and opinions – we don’t “believe in nothing.” I have diametrically opposed political opinions, musical tastes, etc., than other “atheists” I’ve met. Our commonality is that our worldviews are (almost always  [5] ) free from supernatural and mystical elements.  We do not believe that the natural world is the way it is because of an alleged supernatural world.

There are many things other people put great faith in which I don’t believe in – astrology, homeopathy, the trickle-down theory, “one size fits all” as an accurate clothing label – and I don’t want to be labeled by those rejections.   If you are a religious believer, then you are a theist, and you probably don’t want your beliefs framed in reference to mine, or even to be so narrowly labeled (you’d likely want to claim a more specific form of theism, such as Lutheran or Baptist or Orthodox Jew or…). Thus, I’m not going to call you an afreethinker or an –ahumanist.

 

 

hellowerethehendersons

 

 

“In fact, “atheism” is a term that should not even exist. No one ever needs to identify himself as a “non-astrologer” or a “non-alchemist.” We do not have words for people who doubt that Elvis is still alive or that aliens have traversed the galaxy only to molest ranchers and their cattle. Atheism is nothing more than the noises reasonable people make in the presence of unjustified religious beliefs.”

( Sam Harris, Letter to a Christian Nation )

 

*   *   *

 

 

 

May you always remember, when given conflicting actual or metaphorical forecasts, to check for yourself – i.e., look out the !#$%?! window;
May you understand the labels you reject, and embrace;
May you trust that the blades are, indeed, sharp;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

 

 

 

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

*   *   *

 

 

[1] The pain of the cut(s) pale to the pain of realizing moiself’s own stupidity in obtaining them.

[2] Title of the year, or what?

[3] Although, being a plant-eating pescetarian, I’ve no beef with…well…anyone.

[4] And if you’re one of those people, open your eyes a bit wider, please.

[5] Thus, for example, people who reject traditional religions’ theologies but believe that their astrological signs are accurate depictions of reality, or who believe in crystal healing – while these folks may technically be atheists, they are definitely Supernaturalists.

The Announcement I’m Not Applauding

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Department Of Why Aren’t You Listening To This Podcast?  [1]

I refer to Hidden Brain, hosted by engineer/journalist/NPR science correspondent Shankar Vedantam . The podcast aims, as per their website, to help “…curious people understand the world – and themselves. Using science and storytelling, Hidden Brain reveals the unconscious patterns that drive human behavior, the biases that shape our choices, and the triggers that direct the course of our relationships.” Linking research from fields including psychology, neurobiology, economics, anthropology, and sociology, Hidden Brain aims to provide “… insights to apply at work, at home and throughout your life.”

If you’ve ever wondered…

-Why is our tendency to associate with those who share the same interests, sense of humor and political views demonstrably not the best way to cultivate creativity?

– What causes mild-mannered people turn into fearsome mama and papa bears?

– Can the way you park your car reveal crucial details about you?

– Why do we think back to turning points in our lives and imagine, ‘What if….?’

– Do unconscious biases keep people from finding interesting jobs?

 

…then this is the show for you. And if you never wonder about such things, then you need to get interested in Life.  [2]

 

 

 

martha

 

 

 

From the seemingly mundane to the profound, here is a sampling of recent subjects and questions Hidden Brain has tackled:

* Who Gets Power — And Why It Can Corrupt Even The Best Of Us

* Baseball Umpires Don’t Get Overtime. Does That Affect Extra Innings?

* Hungry, Hungry Hippocampus: Why and How We Eat

* Admit It, Parents: You Play Favorites With The Kids

* Don’t Panic! What We Can Learn From Chaos

* Looking Back: Reflecting On The Past To Understand The Present

Probably the most interesting topic the show has presented involves the origins and purposes of the world’s religions, and how religions “evolved” to help human societies survive and flourish. Most interesting is, I realize, a subjective qualifier, which is used by moiself due to both current and ongoing events and experiences which makes this topic of particular interest.

If you’ve taken part in a religious service, have you ever stopped to think about how it all came to be? How did people become believers? Where did the rituals come from? And most of all, what purpose does it all serve? This week, we explore these questions with psychologist Azim Shariff, who argues that we can think of religion from a Darwinian perspective, as an innovation that helped human societies to survive and flourish.

For most of human history, we lived in small groups of about 50 people. Everyone knew everybody. If you told a lie, stole someone’s dinner, or didnt defend the group against its enemies, there was no way to disappear into the crowd. Everyone knew you, and you would get punished.

But in the last 12,000 years or so, human groups began to expand. It became more difficult to identify and punish the cheaters and free riders. So we needed something big — really big. An epic force that could see what everyone was doing and enforce the rules. Since individual people could no longer police large groups, the policing had to be done by a force that was superhuman. That force… was the popular idea of a “supernatural punisher” – also known as god.

( excerpts from “Creating God,” Hidden Brain, 7-16-18 )

 

 

angrygod

Cue the wrath.

 

 

The development of religions as a cultural tool is not a new idea (to moiself) – I’ve encountered similar theories across a wide spectrum of disciplines and scientists, including psychologists and cultural anthropologists. Still, this podcast contains one of the most accessible explanations I’ve ever read or heard for the evolution of group religious practice.  [3]  Of course, the answer(s) to the opening questions about the origins of religious practice, if posed to religious believers and not scientists, would be along the lines of,  Because it’s true!, and/or Because my god is real and gave our belief to us! and other simplistic non-answers which fly in the face of the reality that one believer’s religious truth is another believer’s heresy.  [4]

“… Besides the psychological studies, there is evidence from history and psychology that shows modern religions evolved to solve problems related to trust and cooperation…  All the world’s major religions today arose at times when human societies were struggling with the problems of size, complexity, or scarcity.”
( “Creating God,” Hidden Brain, 7-16-18 )

Religions arose as a mechanism – like fire and agriculture – to help us survive as a species. The historical period known as the Neolithic (or Agricultural) Revolution saw the creation and rise of towns and cities.  As humans transitioned from living in small, mostly nomadic, family bands to living in larger groups of unrelated people, we needed a way to get along with strangers. We needed a way to determine who was “one of us” and trustworthy to, say, trade with or intermarry or share water rights and other finite resources…

But, not just any old religion or deity would do, when it came to regulating group behavior amongst strangers.  And how much you believed in a god mattered less then what kind of god you believed in.

The more wrathful/angry the god, the more successful the religions were, in spreading across large groups, and maintaining control of and adherence to social norms.  Correspondingly, the more “costly” the rituals and rites associated with public declaration of adherence to the religion  – i.e. physical and behavioral modifications (e.g. circumcision, clothing and dietary restrictions, sexual practice proscriptions) the more confidence the others had in you as being one of them (and not just faking it to gain access and trust).

 

beard

So, you’ll trust I’m one of you if I cut off the tip of my…what ?!?!?

 

Interestingly, our ancestors who remained in hunter/gatherer groups – which did not have the stranger danger/trust issues – tended not to develop belief in larger, punitive gods. 

Scientists who study (the few remaining) modern day smaller tribes, whose lives resemble those of our ancestors in the pre-civilization/Agricultural revolution days – who live in small group where everyone is known to everyone else – note that these tribes’ gods tend to be “smaller and weaker and less morally concerned…they are more like trickster spirits… that don’t have the power nor the punitive ability nor the concern (to enforce) moral issues.”

 

trickster

 

Anyway, I highly recommend this episode of Hidden Brain. Go listen to it yourself,      because I could go on and on about this (and yep, I already have).

 

 

confusedspock

“That’s putting it mildly.”

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of The Afore-Mentioned “Current And Ongoing Events And Experiences Which Makes This Topic Of Particular Interest.”

I’ve been thinking about the development/role of religion a lot recently – before, during and, especially after an out of town trip to attend a family wedding last weekend. While I was happy for the adorable young couple to be starting their married life, the marriage ceremony itself was – like all conservative Christian services are, for me –something to be endured, not celebrated.  Once again I found myself walking the ethical balance beam: trying to avoid attracting attention to moiself while trying to maintain a shred of integrity and not have my presence nor my silence be taken as acquiescence to the preacher’s words and the scripture readings – which essentially amount to a sermon (to a captive audience) on primitive, Bronze Age  blood sacrifice and patriarchal theology.

 

 

 

bridestoningjpg

 

 

 

You just gotta take those small opposition opportunities when they arise, like my refusal to join the clapping after the couple is introduced by the officiant, after he has pronounced that they are married.  In a mere 30 minutes the woman has gone from being addressed by her first and last name to having her identity announced as the mistress of the man.

It gives me great joy to introduce to you, for the first time,
Mr. and Mrs. Husband’s first name/husband’s last name!

And, holy patriarchal poopfest – the preacherman at this wedding actually read the bible verses about how wives should be submissive to their husbands, and went on at some length about how his god created Eve for Adam (as if they were real people) and thus women for men and how that is the only relationship (man-woman marriage) that is   approved (and mandated )by his god and the only path for happiness….

When I find myself in a church-type venue (either a wedding or a funeral, these days) I always maintain open eyes during the let us bow our heads and pray moments. I pass the time by looking around at the audience (? guests? Whatever we are), noting who does the same. I sought out one of the Eyes Wide Open People  [7]  after the wedding concluded –  someone I’d seen stifling a flinch at a particular rhetorical low point during the ceremony – and ventured to ask his opinion.  He too was surprised by the waaaaay conservatism of the ceremony.  He said couldn’t remember the last time he’d heard such archaic speechifying,  “…and I’ve been to a lot of Catholic weddings recently.”

The overt sexism (and concurrent if covert anti-LGBT sentiment) in (many, but not all) Christian wedding ceremonies is not new to me. But this time, knowing the personal histories of several of the guests and family members, it made me sad in ways I cannot fully articulate.  As the preacherman orated about the Christian god’s plan for marriage and men and women, women and men, blah blah blah, I felt the sense of exclusion, intentionally or otherwise, which the ceremony cast upon  gay family members/guests.  In that world, you’ll take a seat at the back of the bus… if they let you board at all.

 

oneman

Thank you for celebrating our special day! However, if you’re gay, we will not help you celebrate yours.

 

 

 

*   *   *

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Musical Interludes, Via One Of The Best Covers
Of An Already Really Good Song

That would be Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell’s rendition of Spanish Dancer, a song written and originally recorded by Patti Scialfa on her album, Rumble Doll[8]

 

 

 

 

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Department Of Unexpected Bonuses

Moiself has notice that, besides the retail outlets and weed growers themselves, the legalization of marijuana in Oregon has give rise to other businesses offering correlated services.

 

 

stoner

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May all of your announcements be applause-worthy;
May you find your own ways to maintain integrity during institutionalized absurdities;
May you never stop asking the
how did it come to be/where it come from/what purpose does it all serve? questions;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

 

 

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] That is, if you’re not. And if you’re not, you should.

[2] And don’t show up at one of my dinner parties and just talk about the weather.

[3] The origins of religions as just that – evolutionary tools – is the only origin story that makes sense of the otherwise implausible and downright silly post-Iron age belief systems.

[4] And then if you posed the questions to a room of believers in different religions you could watch the fundamental fur fly as they try to sort out why the one god they claim to believe in would give vastly different dogma, rituals and practices to its peoples.

[5] Or, as many a religion-free observer has noted about the various religious proscriptions on sex and diet and attire,  “If you can get people to give you their balls, they’ll give you anything.”

[6] And it has links to interesting/relevant research and other articles.

[7] As usual, there were several of us.

[8] Yet another example of a person who might be more well known – and appreciated on her own merits – were she not married to someone famous in the same field (in this case, Bruce Springsteen. Aka – in a just universe – Mr. Patti Scialfa).

The Chickens I’m Not Kissing

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Department Of Things That Should Never Ever Have To Be Said

 

STOP KISSING YOUR CHICKENS ! ! !

 

 

chickenkisssing

This is so wrong.

 

 

 

Judging from a conversation I overheard recently, some people are still puckering up to their poultry, despite the CDC’s warnings that you can catch salmonella from doing so.

If the possibility of contracting an infection causing stomach cramping, bloody stools, diarrhea, fever, cold and chills and headache and vomiting isn’t enough to deter you from chicken-kissing, what about ethical concerns? I mean, even if such a behavior were risk-free, is it consensual? Do your chickens ask to be kissed? Do they have a choice in the matter?  Sounds like hen harassment to moiself.  [1]

 

 

 

 

angrychickens

Chickens flock (sorry) to the growing MeCluckToo movement.

 

 

 

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Department Of The Miracle That Wasn’t

Regarding Thai boys’ soccer team and their coach who were rescued after almost three weeks trapped in a cave, YEEEEEEHAW!!! And HOOOOORAY!!!!  How nice to have some good news for a change.

Now. Regarding the rescue, can we stop all this “miracle” nonsense, please?

Of course, my usage of the term miracle nonsense is a redundancy, seeing as how there really is no such thing as a miracle, by definition of…well, the word’s primary definition:

Miracle   [mir-uh-kuh l]  noun

  1. an effect or extraordinary event in the physical world that surpasses all known human or natural powers and is ascribed to a supernatural cause.
  2. such an effect or event manifesting or considered as a work of God.

 

Human beings, especially religious-leaning ones, tend to apply the word miracle to events and phenomenon which we simply don’t (yet) understand.

If you think the liberation of the boys from the cave was truly miraculous, then you might want to spend some time reading about the remarkable planning and efforts of the human beings who actually rescued them.

An actual miracle would’ve been if the boys’ heads suddenly spouted 24″ drill bits which allowed them to bore through the cave’s ceiling, after which the trapped team grew wings and flew through the hole to daylight. Another variation on a “miracle” would have been if the boys grew gills or some other physiological apparatus which enabled them to breathe underwater, allowing them to swim through the cave’s flooded passages.

Or, for the truly miraculous spectacle – which modern deities apparently think were worthy only for illiterate, pre-scientific peoples, as the gods have stopped performing them – bystanders could have heard a sonorous Sky Voice worthy of a Cecil B. Demille epic commanding the cave walls, Let my pitch peoples go  [2]  , as the walls parted and the boys, lead by Charlton Heston their coach,  triumphantly strode to safety….  [3]

 

 

moses

What are you waiting for, ye wacky boys – haul thy buns outta that cave!

 

 

 

Ah, but nothing along those lines happened, did it?

The boys were rescued due to the meticulous planning and efforts, over many days, of their fellow human beings, some of whom who risked their lives (and one of whom died) to devise a reasonable, feasible plan to save them, using knowledge about the layout of the cave, the available rescue technology and how it could be modified and adapted for the specifics of the situation, the contingencies of getting the boys through the water when several of them could not swim….

No miraculous intervention removed them from the cave – or trapped them there in the first place.   Humans (unintentionally) placed themselves in harm’s way, and other humans got them out.

 

*   *   *

Department Of Oh Yeah, And Another Thing….

During the many days of updates on the Thai soccer team’s situation I kept reading about how people all over the world were praying for their rescue. If those prayer-people truly thought their prayers would “work,” why bother with a rescue team? And what about the diver who died while performing that most noble of tasks– trying to rescue children? Guess he was on the wrong side of the prayer chain? Bummer.

 

 

 

blondepw

Oh, great, here she goes again….

 

 

 

Should I or any of my family be trapped in a cave, or under a log on the beach [4] or in any other dangerous situation or kind of distress, please oh please oh please, don’t waste any precious seconds of our lives or your time praying for us.  DO SOMETHING. ASAP.

If, for whatever reasons, you lack the physical/emotional/cognitive abilities to act, call 911, direct the responders to the situation, or assist those whom you who are able to assist.   I repeat: please contact those who have the appropriate experience, skills and equipment to help. Ditch the mumbo-jumbo incantations – CALL 911 !!

And, if for whatever reason you can’t do even  that, at least just stay out of the way.  Hey, if it floats your boat,  [5]  that is, if it makes you feel better about yourself (and that is the only efficacy that prayer might have) then go home and go to town – have a prayer-o-rama to your deity of choice.  But considering that your deity was effectively sitting on its metaphorical divine ass throne, fingers in its ear, humming Nyah Nyah Nyah Nyah Nyah, I can’t hear you, when it came to answering the millions of prayers to save the life of that for brave rescue diver…you might want to consider a better use of your time.

Maybe you could join a community emergency response team, brush up on your first aid/CPR skills, practice for such contingencies, should they happen in the future (hint: they will). Human action is the only thing that has ever proved efficacious in emergencies…or other situations.

 

 

 

sorrygod

I can almost reach you…nah, never mind, you’re gonna drown, dude.

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Nits To Pick

Yikes – Way Too Many “Likes”

So. I’m listening to this Radiolab podcast  and the subject is fascinating, but my frustration almost negates my fascination and I had to tell moiself “…don’t rip out your earbuds, it’ll get better…cause it can’t get worse….”

I was really, really, really – and did I mention really? – not liking the plethora of likes, from both the podcast producer, who was the episode’s narrator and interviewer, and the interviewee.

Like, she was just ,like…it was, like, just like…and then, like, it was, like….

Was it like that, or was it actually that? And if you’re not sure, then why are you talking about it?

Having to listen to that, over and over, is, to moiself, the aural equivalent of

 

 

 

chalkfingers

 

 

 

It is one thing if you are the reporter and the person you’re interviewing speaks in that unfortunate manner, but for the reporter herself to carry on in such a way…

If you can’t speak extemporaneously without the frequent insert of filler words, use a script. Or, get yourself a speech therapist or some professional who can help you figure out why you, a grown-ass woman, resembles a 15 year old mallrat when you speak.

 

*   *   *

 

May you give credit where credit is due and thank the humans;
May you never start kissing chickens so that you don’t have to stop kissing them;
May you, like, you know, like, what what, like, do I like say here;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] And if you think they are kissing you back, you are wrong. They are trying to peck you.

[2] The pitch is the playing surface, i.e. field, for soccer.

[3] And why wouldn’t any deity worth its salt NOT pull off such a rescue, if it could? Just think of the publicity.

[4] A real danger along the Oregon coast…and people persist in ignoring the warnings about sneaker waves and logs.

[5] Even so, it won’t float the log off my leg….

The Movie I’m Not Reviewing

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“The Library” was chosen by a Red Ribbon panel comprising representatives from Coca-Cola, Regal, EFILM Digital Laboratories and others in the entertainment industry based on the creativity, creative fit and entertainment value of the film, the media release stated….
“I couldn’t even believe it,” said (one of the students). “It’s a dream come true. It means so much to us as aspiring filmmakers.”
(” Two Ithaca College students…win Coca-Cola and Regal Films competition“)

 

 

bored-in-movie-theater

Let the excitement begin.

 

 

 

 

As previously noted in this space, I’ve been seeing a lot of movies this summer. As previously complained about noted in this space, a downside to seeing a lot of movies is having to sit through the same advertisements/promotions/previews that run before the main feature. Of particular annoyance to moiself has been the short “films,” produced as part of a contest, by a pair of (alleged) aspiring filmmakers. These spots run around a minute, and are introduced by the students.

Hi I’m Clara!
I’m Eva!
Enjoy our movie!
(Intro to The Library,” winner of The Coca-Cola and Regal Films Program)

 

I’m sorry, Clara and Eva, but I can’t enjoy your movie. Because.

* Because it’s not a movie, it’s a fucking Coca-Cola commercial.

* Because it’s an embarrassing waste of any talents you may have had.

* Because, Holy you-may-not-have-drunk-the-Koolaid-but-you-did-guzzle-the-carbonated soft drink, you haven’t even “made it” yet, and you’ve already sold out.

 

 

your movie

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of I Miss Roger Ebert   [1]

 

I’m just sayin.’

 

 

 

 

hatedthismovie

 

 

 

hate2

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Unsung Heroes

In this belated July 4th post, I would like to briefly celebrate those folks who are, IMHO, some of the truest if most unappreciated Americans: journalists.

 

 

tomi

“I’m thrilled and honored to receive this thrilling honor….”

 

 

 

Uh, no. I’m not referring television talking heads with little to no actual training and/or experience in actual journalism but who get a gig spewing commentary and eventually claim the title of “reporter.”   [2]

 I am referring to professional journalists, who came up through the ranks/paid their dues/continue to hone their craft – those about whom Thomas Jefferson was likely thinking, when he had this to say regarding the value of “the fourth estate” to a democracy:

Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.

I thought about this last month, when I wrote about journalist Ronan Farrow and his Pulitzer Prize-winning reportage on the Harvey Weinstein scandal. And I think about this whenever I begin to read   [3]  certain Facebook posts from a friend of mine, SDH, who posts frequently on political issues.

An expat   [4]American journalist, SDH has always been an insightful observer, and living abroad has, IMHO, honed his observations on American culture and politics.[5]  SDH, along with another reporter friend, PH – the latter less active on FB but just as dedicated to journalistic integrity – have seemingly made it their mission to point out the missteps and misstatements, from the silly to the egregious, of our elected officials.  It may sound corny but it’s true: they are promoting truth and justice, and shining the light of free inquiry on the powerful.

 

 

clark

 

 

 

 

I admire SDH and PH more than I can say, because they do what I cannot bear to (or perhaps have given up on, as I cynically think of the venture – any social media commentary  [6] – as pissing in the wind): they consistently, coolly and firmly respond to paranoia and outright bullshit, and (try to) steer the conversation back to facts. In the face of persistent ad hominem attacks, they respond with rationality, and maintain a discourse with friends, whether longtime or vague high school acquaintances, despite the latter’s often overwhelming juvenile rantings.

I observe these interchanges from afar as it were, with an attitude that sometimes reveals that part of my human nature that impels me to crane my neck as I pass the three-vehicle accident on the highway and hope I get a glimpse of something…interesting.  Many of these Juvenile Rantings People ® are known to me, and their articulation (I use the term oh-so-broadly, here) of their political opinions makes me embarrassed on behalf of them, in that, Jezuz H. Christ on a logical fallacy raft, do they actuall ythink that way? manner.

 

 

batman

 

 

 

 

We’ve all heard the truism – thank you, unfortunately accurate observer and manipulator of human nature, Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebels, that “if you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes the truth.” I hope that the (kinda) opposite is also true: that if you repeat the truth often enough, it will eventually sink in. I do know people who have changed and/or expanded their opinions/beliefs/understandings over the years (including moiself) – people who were motivated to do so, in part, due to respectful, and sometimes challenging, exchange of ideas with others.

Fewer ventures are more stimulating and rewarding than a challenging tête-à-tête between thoughtful, passionate and perceptive people who hold differing points of view.   [7]   However, moiself’s experience makes me lean toward the opinion that it is futile to engage those whose rhetoric indicates…how you say…brains not working right.

 

 

pigsing

 

 

Yet, SDH and PH (and others like them) persist, consistently avoiding the hyperbole-bait and steering the discussion(s) back to discovering and recognizing what are the facts – not “alternative facts” – that can be determined by evidence. And they manage to do this while seemingly remaining undistracted by the inevitable slavering responses of the #45 supporters, which typically  [8]   are the intellectual discourse equivalent of a feces-hurling chimp chattering,

 

 

poopfling

“But, Hillary’s emails !!!!”

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

 

May you remember to “make it” before you sell out;
May you take time to appreciate your own unsung heroes;
May you, at least once in your life, try to teach a pig to sing;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

 

 

 

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] But you can access the archives of his film reviews here.

[2] Oh, and as to the title of your program, Ms. Lahren, Final Thoughts implies that you have actually had some others (thoughts) at some point in your life.

[3] And usually/quickly devolve to merely skimming, as my psyche can’t take the rampant anti-intellectualism of the conservative illogic disguised as dialogue.

[4] Temporarily, I hope.

[5] Read: that toddler-tempered, egocentric, lying, cheating, racist, misogynist sack of corruption that is #45. Aka The Mandarin Mussolini or The Cheetos Hitler, in this space.

[6] Including ultimately, this blog?

[7] Other ventures, like sitting on the drain when the water runs out of the bathtub, run a close second.

[8] There was going to be another footnote here, but I was late for my teaching-pigs-to-sing lesson.