Department Of Haven’t We Learned By Now?
Here’s how I began my first post of 2020:
As I’ve noted previously in this blog, moiself always serves some version of black-eyed peas (aka Hoppin’ John ) and greens for New Year’s Day dinner. These culinary creations are prepared in homage to my father’s family’s logic-defying adherence  to the tradition which told them that eating black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day assures good luck in the year to come.
Good thing I followed that tradition, eh? What a luckity-luck-lucky year it turned out to be!
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Department Of Advising The Advisor
Moiself took it upon herself to email Amy Dickinson, who writes the syndicated advice column Ask Amy. My feedback was re Amy’s advice to a letter writer who was distressed about her cousins’ comments of victimhood re the 2020 election:
Dear Amy, Regarding the letter from “Text- challenged,” who was concerned that her conversations with her cousins were descending into their conservative political complaints, I must point out something about this comment of yours:
“…if you voted for the Democrat candidate in 2016, you might remember how it felt to be declared a citizen of Loserville, USA. You might have felt like a victim of some mysterious process.”
Actually, Amy, (in 2016) we all *were* victims of “some mysterious process.” It’s called The Electoral College, and this mysterious constitutional relic of slave state appeasement once again thwarted the will of the people by installing the *loser* of the popular vote as leader of our (alleged) democracy, transforming us all into citizens of Loserville.
(From the Pew Research Center: “Besides the U.S, the only other democracies that indirectly elect a leader who combines the roles of head of state and head of government (as the U.S. president does) are Botswana, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, Nauru, South Africa and Suriname.” )
Wishing you all the best in the new year,
Just another citizen,
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Department Of Partridge Of The Week
This week’s Partridge in our pear tree:
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Department Of Just What The World Needs…
Is another moniker to describe How (as in, What) Someone Eats ®. Thus, moiself will happily supply that for y’all.
We got your paleo, vegan, keto, raw foods, juice, sugar-free, food combination, raw food paleo, tantrum-throwing-picky-toddler single-food diets….
Many if not most “diets” are just that – diets – as in something-to-go-“on” (and then off) when a certain weight or health goal is reached, instead of a sustainable, lifestyle and/or nutritional change. Because someone recently asked, I thought about the best (as in, most ear-friendly) way to describe my not-a-diet FCP (food consumption patterns).
For five-plus years now I’ve been largely (as in 95%+) plant-based, but not vegan  as I have fish once or twice a week. And although I avoid other dairy products I also consume some (a diminishing amount, but still there) cheese, for both personal addiction taste reasons, and also to keep moiself travel-friendly. 
MH asked me, “Doesn’t the label pescatarian describe how we eat at home/the majority of the time?” Maybe; but I don’t care for that term.
I consider my eating and cooking choices to be adventuresome, investigative, horizon-expanding rather than limiting,  and science-based/planet-friendly. I want an affable term to reflect that. Hmm; vegetarian; plant-based; planet-friendly;  fish, aquarium….
Oh, Yeaeeaaah. This is perfect.
I am a planetarium.
Feel free to borrow/appropriate, with attribution.
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Department Of Yeah What She Said
When it comes to commentary on American culture and politics, moiself often finds the musings of those who are on the outside looking in to be particularly incisive. As in this excerpt from the State of the Me blog post, by C.L. Hanson. Hanson, an engineer and expat American, describes her blog as “The Adventures of a Friendly French-American ExMormon Atheist Mom Living in Switzerland!!!” (my emphases):
“I’m happy that Trump will finally be leaving the White House. As I’ve said before, I don’t agree with the people who said that voting him out is the “right” way to get him out — he should have been impeached and convicted within the first year of his presidency. Whether the president is above the law is not a question that should be up for popular vote (or some weirdly-derived subset of the popular vote). If the US system can’t eject a president for constantly and openly breaking the law, then the system is broken. But this band-aid is better than nothing. The bare last line of defense has held firm against the deadly march of fascism — when there was no guarantee that it would. Hopefully this victory will help turn the tide and encourage the people to make serious changes and fix things for real.”
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Department Of Oh, Oh, How I Hate Hate Hate Having To Write This…
But, I have to. Because it’s bugging the ever-lovin’ sudoriferous secretions out of me. 
To start the new year, here are two things I look forward to seeing ended:
(1) This should go without saying: the termination of a certain administration (hint: this will take place on January 20)
(2) “Woke” and “Cancel” culture, which, IMO, is directly related to (1)…and my concern with it is tangentially related to the first entry in this post (as in, reading advice columns).
“…many Americans have come to believe that the only way to spur change is by ginning up anger. It isn’t enough to say your opponents are wrong. You have to say they are reprehensible….
So many tools of modern culture take ancient circuits in the brain and put them in hyperdrive…. We evolved to care about relationships, but social media has weaponized this, transforming personal connections into metrics of self-worth. Getting angry at (who we perceived to be) wrongdoers was helpful in our evolutionary past, but when people apply that same impulse today…what we get are doxing and death threats.
Used recklessly or for self-promotion, outrage can poison the way we interact with each other. It can imprison us in our own echo chambers.
( excerpts from “Screaming Into The Void: How Outrage Is Hijacking Our Culture
And Our Minds,” Hidden Brain, 10-7-19 )
The Orwellian speak of #45’s administration reminds me of the opposite side of the same coin, which is groupthink, and “cancel” or “woke culture.” It seems I can’t spit (and I have tried) without hearing, from aggrieved persons or interest groups, cries of “hateful!” re someone who disagrees with them, and without citation of an actual, factual statement from that someone of hate. To list only two examples…
* a woman, having been sexually assaulted in a private/public room, articulates her concerns about any man being able to enter a women’s restroom if he claims to “identify as female”.  Her concerns are not addressed logically or compassionately; rather, she is shrieked at by trans activists, YOU’RE TRYING TO KILL US ALL!!
* People on “the left” seem to feel entitled to call someone who disagrees with them and/or their identity group, on a certain issue (even if they support other issues for that group) “hateful” and “evil.”
Moiself is reminded of #45’s kneejerk way of dealing with disagreements and critiques, particularly from women. He rarely attempts to refute the substance of the criticism (he’ll say it’s not valid, it’s fake news). Rather, he goes into attack mode, claiming that those women hate him because they are “nasty,” “evil,” “pathetic,” “sad”….
I’ve written of this – my concerns about and loathing of “cancel culture” and thought and language policing and their many variants  – several times previously in this space. Here is the promised advice column link.
I read several advice columns regularly. One is slate.com’s Dear Prudence. A recent DP column had the attention-getting headline, “Help! My Son Is Trans. Is It Wrong to Read the Harry Potter Series to His Younger Brother?” What turned out to be even more face-palming to me than the headline/question was DP‘s answer.
The write said that her youngest son loved the first Harry Potter book (read in class by his third grade teacher) and was asking her to read the remaining books with him. She’d read the entire HP series to her older two sons, who loved it. But now her oldest (trans) son asked her “…not to read the books to his younger brother and not to buy Harry Potter merchandise because it would feel to him that I was supporting J.K. Rowling’s horrible anti-trans comments.” The letter-writing mom is struggling with wanting to let her youngest “…enjoy the world of Harry Potter without supporting a bigot.”
DP‘s answer included a WTF ?!?! reference to the author of the Harry Potter series as an “artist who’s made transphobia a significant part of her career.”
I can’t help but wonder how the letter writer hear about Rowling’s alleged “horrible” comments – and did she even know of Rowling’s articulate, nuanced response to being slandered, or is she (and her oldest son) jumping on the Orwellian groupthink bandwagon? The DP columnist  didn’t correct the writer’s hyperbole and seems to agree with it. Although I (mostly) like the DP column I ‘ve noticed the groupthink tendency in DP‘s answers and assumptions. I’m not cancelling my on-line subscription – that would make me part of the cancel culture, right? But the stench of self-righteous piling-on lingers, and don’t know if I’ll be able to stomach reading DP column for a while.
Summary of the issue at hand, for those who’ve managed to remain blissfully ignorant of transphobia-hysteria: in December 2019 writer J.K. Rowling tweeted her support for a British woman who’d lost her job for posting so-called “transphobic” tweets. On 6 June, Rowling poked Twitter fun at the usage of the phrase “people who menstruate” – a phrase many people and writers (such as moiself ) find unnecessary, even bizarre, not to mention WTF, Saturday-Night-Live-skit-worthy awkwardness.
” ‘People who menstruate.’ I’m sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?”
I’m so glad Rowling beat me to it, because that would have been my first reaction. ROTFL.
Ah, but then…. The self-appointed “woke culture” piled on.
Sexual dimorphism is a factual, biological phenomenon in mammalian species. There are a variety of opinions as to the diversity or spectrum of expression within that phenomenon itself and within our human, culture expressions of biology. Rowling and many others hold the opinion that being female is not just a “construct,” and now, such opinions are labeled by a vocal minority as “hate speech.” Many trans activists and their supporters called for Rowlings’ books to be burned, told Rowling she was “literally killing trans people with [her] hate,” called her a cunt and a bitch….
Rowling responded to the criticism with an essay which, apparently, most of her critics (including, I’d guess, the mother who wrote to DP and DP himself ) – did not bother to fully, open-mindedly and carefully read. Nowhere in the essay did I find sentiments I’d even remotely consider hateful or “horrible,” nor indicative of someone who’s “made transphobia a significant part of her career.” Rowling is a committed feminist with a personal history of experiencing misogyny, gender discrimination, and sexual abuse. She believes that most trans people are “vulnerable and deserve protection,” and she calmly and articulately explained her concerns with the “the consequences of the current trans activism”:
We’re living through the most misogynistic period I’ve experienced. Back in the 80s, I imagined that my future daughters, should I have any, would have it far better than I ever did, but between the backlash against feminism and a porn-saturated online culture, I believe things have got significantly worse for girls. Never have I seen women denigrated and dehumanised to the extent they are now. From the leader of the free world’s long history of sexual assault accusations and his proud boast of ‘grabbing them by the pussy’, to the incel (‘involuntarily celibate’) movement that rages against women who won’t give them sex, to the trans activists who declare that TERFs  need punching and re-educating, men across the political spectrum seem to agree: women are asking for trouble. Everywhere, women are being told to shut up and sit down, or else.
I’ve read all the arguments about femaleness not residing in the sexed body, and the assertions that biological women don’t have common experiences, and I find them, too, deeply misogynistic and regressive. It’s also clear that one of the objectives of denying the importance of sex is to erode what some seem to see as the cruelly segregationist idea of women having their own biological realities or – just as threatening – unifying realities that make them a cohesive political class….
….as many women have said before me, ‘woman’ is not a costume. ‘Woman’ is not an idea in a man’s head. ‘Woman’ is not a pink brain, a liking for Jimmy Choos or any of the other sexist ideas now somehow touted as progressive. Moreover, the ‘inclusive’ language that calls female people ‘menstruators’ and ‘people with vulvas’ strikes many women as dehumanising and demeaning. I understand why trans activists consider this language to be appropriate and kind, but for those of us who’ve had degrading slurs spat at us by violent men, it’s not neutral, it’s hostile and alienating.
(excerpt from “J.K. Rowling Writes about Her Reasons for Speaking out on Sex and Gender Issues,” 6-10-20)
This is a brief except from a 3,600 word essay. Read it in its entirety before forming an opinion; I realize it’s a bit longer than many kneejerk reactors are used to (if they don’t come across the corrext buzz words they are looking for in the first two paragraphs, bye bye). Maybe you agreed with all of it, some of it, none of it. What is your response if you truly (or think you ought to, because it’s the woke thing to do) disagree with Rowling – or anyone else, for that matter, on this issue or any other. Do you go from 0 to 120 in the blink of an eye? Is there nothing in between? Can you disagree with what someone says without conflating their opinions – or your interpretations of their opinions – with terms like “hateful” “horrible,” and twist her words into saying she calls for “literally killing” someone?
Rowling, on the record as supporting LGBTQ rights and people, envisioned one of the most beloved characters in literature, Professor Albus Dumbledoree, as gay . I find it both ironic and pathetic that the creator of the most famous and beloved world of witches and wizards is now herself the object of an ideological witch-hunt.
Those who jumped on the public chastisement bandwagon included actor Daniel Radcliffe, whom I took to task here. I in turn didn’t want to accuse Radcliffe of being “hateful” nor accuse him of trying to “kill” Rowling’s career…but perhaps I should have. As per our culture of outrage, no one will listen to you unless you go over the top.
Anyone from a bartender to a biologist who disagrees with the “woke” tenet re gender- that it exists in the mind/is primarily/only a social construct – will, sooner or later, be called transphobic. To disagree with someone is to “hate” them and what they say, and to label them as pathologically fearful.  You disagree with me on that? You hater, you…opposition-ophobe, you! And woe unto you if you make a simple, human error. If you absent-mindedly  call a trans-man by his birthname, even if you originally – as in, for forty frickin’ *years*- knew him as her, you are no longer a fallible friend who made a totally understandable slip of the tongue – you DEAD-named him, you transphobic bigot!
This issue is more than one of free speech and ideological and imaginational conformity (which, as a writer, I have great concerns about). This link directly to What Just Happened ® (in the past four years and the recent election), which we are still trying to figure out. Bear with me a bit longer as I make the point I earlier alluded to.
People stop talking with one another across party, ideological, and cultural “lines” if they know or fear that others are going to pay more attention to *how* they say something rather than *what* they are saying. In particular, folks who are not hateful and/or ignorant fools, but who
(1) don’t consider themselves deftly articulate or skilled in written expression, and thus
(2) worry that they won’t use the “correct” jargon or terminology
fear being misunderstood, and are prone to withdrawing from dialogue with those who hold differing opinions.
Someone can disagree with you on an aspect of what you consider to be your most important or even defining cause, without rejecting your entire cause. That Someone can be an ally, can still be “on your side” – unless blindered, politico-speak conformity is your price for alliance, in which case you’ll end up driving allies away, or underground. Then, hey – good luck dealing with the vocal opposition, who are as firm in the self-righteousness of their position as you seem to be of yours.
This is not just a matter of agreeing or disagreeing with a successful author who has social media followers. The vitriol directed against Rowling is directly related to disturbing social phenomena which have political and cultural ramifications for us all – phenomena that give us headlines like the following, which too many left-leaning/”progressive” Americans either ignored or misunderstood, in their post-election head-scratching:
( NY Times, 12-26-2020 )
Although the election pollsters were mostly accurate about Trump’s impending defeat, Democrats lost ground in other important areas, which took pollsters by surprise. How could they have been so wrong about that? Several studies and theories point to the idea that although most folks, even conservatives, agreed that #45 had to go, people on all sides of all aisles are becoming more and more concerned with cancel culture, and they blame the Democrats/The Left for that (or for being the *least* willing to call it out). And because of cancel culture, people didn’t answer truthfully to pollsters (or even to their own family and friends) about their concerns, lest they be called evil, ___- o-phobes, and haters.
“Differences of opinion no longer are defined by one’s approach or framing of an issue, but rather by the person who holds a contrary position as being evil…. Comedy, one would think, should be exempt from restrictions on speech, but it is not. Chris Rock stated… ‘I stopped playing colleges (because of) … their social views and their willingness not to offend anybody. You can’t even be offensive on your way to being inoffensive.’
Free speech in America is on the ballot for many Americans who see an intellectual orthodoxy rapidly developing….They fear that zealots have been permitted to gain power to banish anyone who questions or denies progressive beliefs or policies….
Pew Research found that “majorities in both major parties believe censorship is likely occurring (on social media.)” …. On Nov. 3, these beliefs may motivate a new voting bloc to cast their votes for the candidate who stands up to cancel culture.”
( “Cancel culture’ may spawn a new, silent voting bloc,” The Hill )
Those fears, printed a few weeks before the election, turned out to be prescient, as noted in “Woke Culture Destroyed The Blue Wave” (The Daily Cardinal, 11-19, my emphases)
“…the mythical “blue wave” fizzled out into a splash long before the first ballot was even cast. While President-Elect Biden won with a sizable lead in both the electoral and popular votes, the Democratic Party barely held its own in the Senate and the House….and Republicans may be on track to win back the House in 2022.
If Democrats truly want to emerge mightily victorious in the future, they must analyze why over 73 million people voted against them and their party. The analysis must be a brutally honest one for it to have any merit, and conclusions such as the opposition being ‘racists’ or ‘fascists’ are lazy responses which fail to examine the failures of the Democratic Party to reach out to millions of Americans.
… Bill Maher — a vocal Democrat — (stated) that the biggest enemy to liberals is themselves…that the woke culture which has permeated both the personal and professional world is halting the Democrat’s chances at flipping right-leaning voters.
Maher’s analysis could not be more astute. Phenomenon such as…’woke’ culture are the very thing which created the political atmosphere in which a person like Donald Trump could thrive and rally supporters. Democrats created their own monster in this regard. While President Trump may be in office for only a few short months, the angst which propelled his political support is here to stay.
… many (on the Left) subscribe to the belief that ‘if you don’t agree with me, you’re a racist and a bigot and your career should be destroyed.’ …Fear has gripped many, as they struggle to articulate their thoughts, frightened if they may be the next ones to be ‘cancelled.’ “
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Pun For The Day
I was disappointed by the organizers of the New Year’s Eve celebration at Times Square.
Once again, they dropped the ball.
But wait – there’s more!
Did y’all here about the guy in England who assaulted a dozen people with a miniature replica of Big Ben on New Year’s Eve?
He couldn’t wait for the clock to strike twelve.
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May the hyperbole of “woke” culture take a well-needed nap;
May the new year be filled with new hope and old (but still loved) puns;
May 2021 be better than…oh, you know;
…and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
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 They were dirt poor sharecroppers tenant farmers. That good-luck-meal thing failed, year after year.
 Although when dining out – y’all remember that thing we used to do, way back in 2019? – I will ask for vegan items, to get the point across to restaurant staff that, for example, I don’t want the “vegetable” soup if it’s made with beef broth.
 It’s becoming easier to have plant-based options when traveling, but in many cultures and foreign countries – e.g., Arkansas – it can be difficult: the ideas and imaginations of some folks, when it comes to vegetarian/vegan foods, is remove the “meat” and add cheese and voila, it’s a veggie entrée! Also, I want to be a good visitor and not reject *everything* the host/local cuisine offers.
 Plant-based is not so much about out cutting meat, milk, and eggs —it’s about crowding them out with the amazing variety of fruits and veggies and nuts and legumes and grains that there are out there, many of which get overlooked when the centerpiece of the meal is a big hunk of flesh, accompanied by the usual side veggie suspects.
 Nutritionists and scientists around the globe are researching and recommending the advantages of a plant-based-diet in conserving resources and reducing global warming, not to mention personal health benefits….
 When daughter Belle was working closing shifts at a restaurant, and a lawyer friend of mine who was working for a law firm specializing in sexual assault cases found out that Belle’s duties included cleaning the restrooms, she warned Belle about never closing the doors and being very careful to watch her back, because of the number of cases she’d seen where a male waited until a female co-worker was alone in a restroom to assault her.
 Which include literary censorship (“write what you know” which equals “write what you are”) and “cultural appropriation.”
 Who is a trans man.
 ‘TERF, ’an acronym coined by trans activists, stands for Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist.
 As contrasted with, you know that Roberta now wants to be called Robert, but you intentionally use the former name because you’re the Mean Uncle. ®