The Party Poopers I’m Not Indulging


Department Of You Say, Po-tay-to, I say Po-tah-to;
You Say Collection, I Say Exploitation


A. repositories of culture

B. an empire’s trophy cases

C. institutions for fencing stolen goods

D. guardians of history

My opinion of museums has gradually changed over the years, beginning way-back-when, while wandering through the Portland Art Museum.  Moiself  and a friend were viewing the museum’s current collections as well as travelling exhibitions of Northwest tribal masks and centuries-old Japanese tapestries.  The only information available regarding the respective collections were small signs posted on the walls and notations in the museum’s brochure, which attributed the artifacts as  “from the collection of _____” (insert wealthy person name).  I wondered aloud, “Is collection a code word for pirate booty?

I’ve been reminded of this during the past several weeks, listening to the Freakonomics podcast’s three-part series on art and museums: Stealing Art is Easy. Giving It Back Is Hard,  which I can summarize thusly:

If a work of art – from paintings, weavings, masks, pottery, to household artifacts – is in a British museum but was not crafted by contemporary or ancient inhabitants of England, it was likely plundered from its area of origin.   [1]

There seems to be little disagreement – from museum curators to art and cultural historians – on that statistic.  The catch is, should such works be repatriated, and if so, when and how and to whom?



How do you return an artifact to its country of origin when the origin may be disputed and/or the country no longer exists (e.g., the Benin Bronzes)?  Some museum curators, while acknowledging the sometimes bloody and brutal acquisition of such art, make the argument that to return so-called precious artifacts to countries that do not have the infrastructure to house them safely in museums is somehow a waste to all humanity – which can be interpreted as a dog whistle for the racist and colonialist justification for stealing acquiring the artifacts in the first place (“These people aren’t sophisticated enough to care for their own art”).

The three episodes of this series (The Case of the $4 Million Gold Coffin; Is a Museum Just a Trophy Case?; How To Return Stolen Art) address the complexities of these logistically and ethically thorny dilemmas, whether the art in question was obtained from centuries-old European colonial raids or via the present stolen antiquities markets in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States.  I highly recommend that anyone who has ever visited any museum listen, and consider the issues.


“You call that art? My five-year-old could have looted that.”

*    *    *

Department Of Right-Wing RCers Don’t Hear Themselves When They Talk, Do They?

LA Pride   [2] and other organizations invited to the tenth annual LA Dodgers Pride Night are boycotting or reconsidering their participation in the event, after one of their sister organizations was disinvited from the festivities.

“The Los Angeles chapter of The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence—a charity that raises money for LGBTQ causes and performs in in drag dressed as nuns—were initially set to receive the Community Hero Award in honor of their community service and promotion of human rights.

The Dodgers announced it would remove the Sisters from its honorees on Wednesday, citing the ‘strong feelings of people who have been offended by the Sisters’ inclusion.’
( excerpts from “L.A. Dodgers’ Pride Night Controversy Explained: Why LGBTQ Groups, Politicians And Certain Catholics Are Slamming Team,”
Forbes, 5-19-23 )



Until this ruckus came to light, I didn’t know there was a Los Angeles chapter of the SPI.

If you are or have been a SF and/or Bay Area resident, a frequent visitor to San Francisco, or just a fan of the city,     [3]   you may be familiar with the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.  The Sisters were founded in San Francisco by several gay men over 40 years ago.  What began as street theater –

(Sister members include “Sister Tilda Nextime,” “Sister Viscous Power Hungry Bitch,” “Sister Missionary Position,” “Sister Adora Penthouse View,” “Sister Bambi Dextrous,” and moiself’s  favorite, “Sister Shalita Corndog”) –

soon became a nonprofit charitable organization.


 Their mission statement, as per their website:

The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence® are a leading-edge Order of queer and trans nuns. We believe all people have a right to express their unique joy and beauty.
Since our first appearance in San Francisco on Easter Sunday, 1979, the Sisters have devoted ourselves to community service, ministry and outreach to those on the edges, and to promoting human rights, respect for diversity and spiritual enlightenment.
We use humor and irreverent wit to expose the forces of bigotry, complacency and guilt that chain the human spirit.

So: the SPI were invited to this years LA Dodgers Pride Night, and some conservative RC defenders got their papal panties in a knot.

“…outcry over the ‘drag nuns’ began in the Midwest, with a call-in campaign led by the conservative advocacy organization CatholicVote. At the urging of the organization’s president, Brian Burch, followers flooded the ball club with outraged messages over plans to honor the Los Angeles Sisters with the Community Heroes Award at the team’s 10th annual Pride Night on June 16.
‘The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence are an anti-Catholic hate group which exists to desecrate and degrade the Catholic faith,’ Burch wrote in an open letter to the baseball commissioner….”
(excerpts from “The Dodgers booted the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence…”
LA Times, 5-19-23)



The nerve.  The absolute, unmitigated gall.

No one has desecrated – and nothing can desecrate and degrade –
the Catholic Church
more than its own history and behavior.

The church, from its highest representatives to its obtusely loyal parishioners, has no authority to speak on matters of “desecration.” The church itself has been a Brotherhood of Perpetual Indulgence for decades (if not centuries) of indulging rapists, abusers, and pedophiles within their ranks, turning a blind eye to the depredations and reassigning/transferring the criminals within their ranks, while ignoring, and/or shaming and attempting to silence those who sought justice. In the Los Angeles Diocese alone, the Catholic church has paid $660 million to settle 508 sexual abuse cases.

So I say, not only invite everybody to the party, let every night be Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence Night ® at Dodger Stadium.


Batter up!


And, in breaking news, it appears the LA Dodgers agree:

Column:  The Dodgers faltered by disinviting the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence but came to their senses (LA Times 5-23)

*   *   *

Department Of A Recommendation To Do Something
You Probably Haven’t Done
In A Long Time

That would be, moiself  recommends y’all rewatch   [4]  the 1970 disaster movie classic, Airport. I’d seen it decades ago, and forgotten most about it except to know that it was the primary inspiration for the Zucker-Abrams-Zucker (ZAZ) parody movie, Airplane, after which it took a long time for anyone – from movie producers to the ticket-buying public – to take any disaster movie seriously.    [5]   

Dateline: Monday circa 7 am;  warming up on my elliptical machine before my yoga class, trying to find something to watch (sans commercial interruption) to pass the time.  There it was, featured in the “For You”    [6]   section of my Netflix feed.  The opening segments of the movie…oh, my.  In the so-bad-it’s-good category, I found the movie’s deadpan solemnity to be sidesplitting, and almost missed my yoga class.

I had totally forgotten how many establishing shots of Airport, scene by scene, are almost indistinguishable from the spoof.  The ZAZ team must’ve had that movie running simultaneously as they were storyboarding their version. 



*   *   *

Department Of Podcast Gardening

As regular readers of this blog know, I often write about podcasts I’ve listened to. I have at least thirty in my phone’s podcast feed app, and the process of weeding out some and adding others is a never-ending project.

I don’t listen to every episode of every podcast, but if I find moiself  skipping several episodes of a podcast I reconsider its inclusion in my listening library.  The episodes I tend to skip are most often those hosted by celebrities (read: actors and/or stand-up comics), who offer enough interesting material to tempt me from the first listen or two, but which then and far too often spend too much time with what I call the “gush fest.”     [7]

“My guest is the renowned, the amazing and unbelievably talented, Emma Stagehamm. Emma, I *love* your work!!!! ”

“And I love *your* work!!!! “

“And I especially loved your work in the revival of the all-French mime production of Chekov’s ‘The Seagull’ !!!! ”

“And I thought your work was brilliant in the off-Broadway, Star Wars-inspired
 political thriller, ‘The Mandalorian Candidate’ !!!!!!!!!!!!! “

Ad repeatum nauseum.

Yeah, yeah, you’ve done work; he’s done work; she’s done work; most of Hollywood has had work done;    [8]   they’ve done work – all gawd’s chilluns done work.  Please, spare me the seemingly obligatory, opening-an-interview-with-a-fellow-celebrity-butt-snogging, and say something interesting.



*   *   *

Freethinkers’ Thought Of The Week    [9]

  “Convent: a place of retirement for women who wish for leisure
to meditate upon the sin of idleness.”

( Ambrose Bierce, American writer and satirist, The Devil’s Dictionary )



*   *   *

May you not be disinvited to an event at which you were to be honored;
May you consider museum collections with a fresh eye and an open heart;
May you surely enjoy old classics like Airport;     [10]

…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

[1] And not necessarily by the usual suspects: European colonialists.  Locals often plundered “their own” artifacts, removing and hiding them, and later selling them to the highest bidders (e.g. the Egyptians who, during the Arab Spring uprising, who broke into museums and looted ).

[2] An LGBTQ+ organization sponsoring or support community events in and around Los Angeles.

[3] Excuse me, The City.

[4] Or watch, as some of you may never have seen it.

[5] A disaster movie is “….a film genre that has an impending or ongoing disaster as its subject and primary plot device. …. these films usually feature some degree of build-up, the disaster itself, and sometimes the aftermath, usually from the point of view of specific individual characters or their families or portraying the survival tactics of different people.  These films often feature large casts of actors and multiple plot lines, focusing on the characters’ attempts to avert, escape or cope with the disaster and its aftermath. The genre came to particular prominence during the 1970s with the release of high-profile films such as Airport (1970), followed in quick succession by The Poseidon Adventure (1972), Earthquake (1974) and The Towering Inferno (1974).”  (excerpts from Wikipedia’s, disaster film entry )

[6] How did Netflix know?!?!?

[7] I’m talkin’ *you* Gates McFadden  and Tig Notaro.

[8] Did you catch the snarky plastic surgery reference? Didja, didja, didja, huh huh huh?

[9] “free-think-er n. A person who forms opinions about religion on the basis of reason, independently of tradition, authority, or established belief. Freethinkers include atheists, agnostics and rationalists.   No one can be a freethinker who demands conformity to a bible, creed, or messiah. To the freethinker, revelation and faith are invalid, and orthodoxy is no guarantee of truth.”  Definition courtesy of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, ffrf.org

[10] “And don’t call me Shirley.”

The Loogie I’m Not Hawking


Is this your favorite of moiself’s  blog titles…or, perhaps not?

*   *   *

Department Of What Is It With The XY Chromosome And Spitting

Dateline: in my car; one day last week; returning from an errand in another city; stopped at a stoplight, behind one other vehicle.  The driver of that vehicle opened his car’s door, leaned down and spat onto the road.

Fast forward: last Saturday, 7:30 AM-ish.  Moiself  was at the coast, going for walk on pedestrian path which parallels a road heading toward Neahkahnie State Park. A man riding a skateboard was going in the opposite direction; i.e., approaching me.  As passed me he nodded in acknowledgment.  His skateboard seemed to be going by rather fast, IMO, so as we passed each other I turned back to see if I could tell if he was atop one of those motorized boards. At that point he was about 20 feet behind me; I turned around just in time to see him spit huge gobs of…a white something    [1]…onto the road.



Now.  Ahem.  The two individuals cited here are not to meant represent all of male kind.  They *are* emblematic of something moiself  has noticed over the years: more than women (almost to the point of gender exclusivity),  men are the ones who spit in public, and onto public surfaces.   [2]   From delicate white salivary droppings to gigantamous loogie hawkings, men expectorate in public with impunity. I never see women do this.  What’s the deal?

I know for a fact that women also produce saliva, and get seasonal allergies, common colds, and other virus which cause post-nasal drip and thus instigate the accumulation of snot and saliva in the mouth and throat.  But I never, ever, see women expel that goo (pardon my usage of complex medical terminology) in public.   [3]

Are men just somehow, physiologically, more prone to producing copious amounts of body fluids which congregate in their oral cavities?   

Or could it be as simple as, once again, nurture triumphs over nature?  As in, women are raised to, both literally and metaphorically…uh…swallow everything.



*   *   *

Department Of Perhaps This Is Why Some Of My Neighbors Cross To The Other Side Of The Street When They See Me Out For My Morning Walk

Dateline:  last Thursday, 7:30 am-ish. I am returning from a morning walk, rounding the corner, after having text-wished MH (and our cat, Nova) a pleasant drive to the coast.  [4]

As I rounded the corner of a street two blocks from our house, I saw MH’s distinctive midlife crisis car convertible approaching the intersection about 20 feet in front of moiself.   I waved; he pulled over to the curb; I walked up to his car; gave him a kiss; we briefly chatted.

As this was happening a woman I know by sight was returning from her morning walk with her dog.  She passed by MH’s car just as he pulled away from the curb and I resumed walking.  She gave me a knowing yet questioning look; her mouth opened slightly – for a moment I thought she was going to say, “Your husband?” It’s a good thing she didn’t, because I realized I would have blurted out, “No, but when I see a cute guy in an orange sports car, I think, why not take the opportunity?”



*   *   *

Department Of, On The Other Hand, *This* Podcast Was Excellent

The other hand refers to…

No, not that hand.  I’ll start again.

The other hand refers to my blog of last week (May 12), in which I nit-picked about insightfully analyzed a (usually) favorite podcast of mine, whose guest on that particular episode I found so self-justifying and cluelessly annoying that I had to stop listening.

The next day, I was rescued by another usual favorite podcast, PIMA’s (People I Mostly Admire) episode 104: The Joy of Math, with PIMA host Steve Levitt’s guest, Sarah Hart.

British Geometry Professor Hart is on a quest (as is Levitt) to reform math education.  In their conversation she shared her interest in mathematics by explaining, for example, how patterns are everywhere, and how mathematical concepts and be found in the arts and literature as well as in the natural world.



Something moiself  found the most compelling about their dialogue was when they got to the reformation of the way math has been taught for so/too long (my emphases).

“I had the mathematician, Steven Strogatz on the show, and he expressed frustration with the way we teach math to high school students…we tend to teach them all sorts of techniques for solving very specific problems that they will never ever be asked to solve anywhere but on a math exam. And the consequence is that almost everyone gets discouraged and in the end they conclude that they’re not a math person.
So…his idea is that we should move towards math appreciation courses like art appreciation — courses with the goal to show kids the wonder and the power of math applied to interesting, real-world problems with less emphasis on rote memorization.
And wow, did that conversation strike a nerve. I’ve never gotten such a flood of emails from listeners, hundreds of emails that are still coming in on a daily basis. And the only negative responses are from professional mathematicians…”

“I couldn’t love the idea any more. We do not need everybody to come out of school being able to do arcane stuff with trigonometry; they’re never going to need it. It’s going to put them off.”



“I’m good at maths and I enjoyed doing mathematical calculations, but even for me there were things that were not super interesting. And we don’t even motivate like why we’re doing it. Did you ever have a lesson in school where they said, ‘Why are we doing trigonometry?’ ”



Yes! Yes! Yes! Or should I write, No! No! No!, if Hart was implying that no one ever either poses or answers that question in a math class.  I DID – I asked, many times.  And I never got an answer.



I was a straight A student in all subjects, and in math from fractions and times tables through school Algebra 1 and Geometry.  Unfortunately (this will be explained soon) with regard to math, in high school I was placed in what is now referred to as a Gifted and Talented program, but which in California schools at that time was called the MGM – “Mentally Gifted Minors” – program.


Uh, that’s *minOrs.*


Mentally Gifted Minors ® that we were, we MGMers had a lot of fun mocking the acronym, our favorite pejorative being that MGM stood for Mother’s Greatest Mistake. Turned out the joke was on me, as taking my school’s MGM math courses was (one of) MGM – my greatest mistakes.

Before there was an MGM program, top students could take AA classes, which students were placed into by testing and/or teacher referral.    [5]  AA classes were offered in maths and social sciences, and continued to be offered at my high school after the MGM program was instituted.  My younger sister, who had an almost instinctive interest in and aptitude for math, remembered my experience, and chose her classes accordingly.  Although she took MGM classes in history and literature, she refused to participate in the MGM program for math, and instead took our school’s AA math classes.  [6]

Once again, I digress.


There was only one teacher for my high school’s MGM math courses (Algebra 1; geometry; Algebra 2; trigonometry; advanced math [aka pre-calculus]).  It was a mismatch from the start, between the MGM math teacher and moiself, in terms of personality, academic presentation, and just about everything else.  I was totally capable of being taught by teachers whose styles bothered and/or annoyed me or whom I even actively disliked – I managed to learn from such teachers in classes both preceding and following the classes taught by That Certain MGM Math Teacher (TCMGMMT).  However, despite the straight-A student thing, math – or in hindsight, the way math was *taught* – had always bored me.

By the time I was in second year algebra and then trigonometry, doing the assignments and/or studying the material for the sake of doing so was not cutting it for me. I wanted to know *why.* As in,

Why are we doing this – why does *anyone* do this?  (And don’t just
repeat the “because: triangles” thing.)
What will we use it for, and when will we be required to do so?

When I asked questions in class, I was told not to disrupt class (and TCMGMMT often turned questions asked – by other students, not only moiself – around in a way to make fun of the student who’d asked the question.  After observing this tactic of hers, I stopped asking questions).

One day I took time out of my busy high school academic and social calendar and scheduled an after-school appointment to meet with TCMGMMT, to raise my concerns. At that meeting (during which her discomfort was palpable), TCMGMMT actually told me that “it doesn’t matter *why* you are doing _____ (sine, tangent, and cosine functions, et al.). ”  She advised me to essentially shut up and do the rote memorization and, “two years from now ,when you are in your college calculus class, this (trigonometry equations) will make sense.”



I effin’ kid you not.

Nope; sorry; wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am.  If I can’t make it interesting to me in the here and now it won’t interest me in some mythical, two-years-from-now class that I won’t be taking because I don’t need another thing frosting my ass with tediousness.   I took TCMGMMT shutting me down as a convoluted way of admitting, “Yeah, this has nothing to do with your life (or that of most students), but this is the way we have always done it, so shut up and dance.”



Yet another digression:

About that “mythical class” I didn’t think I’d be taking:  I actually took a calculus class in college, despite not being required to do so.  In the spring quarter of my freshman year I took part one of a three quarter Calculus series – the B series, which was required for students majoring in certain sciences and engineering.  [7]   Although I hadn’t yet declared a major, I was one of those idealistic idiots scholars, who held that:

* Every student should take advantage of the richness and diversity of subjects offered at college!
* All students should strive to be well-rounded intellectually!



No, really. Stop laughing, you narrow-minded camel.

I sincerely believed    [8]   that, for example, physics majors should take a poetry class and literature majors should take a physics class.  Many of my fellow students found it odd that, although I became a pre-law major    [9]   I also took classes in geology, physics, astronomy, wildlife fisheries and biology, and forestry.   [10]

Moiself  received an A in that calculus class.  A dormmate, who somehow found out that fact, took it upon himself to mansplain lecture me as to why getting a top grade in my calculus class was “selfish” of me.  With a totally straight and serious face he informed me that, since the class was graded on the curve, I was taking an A away from some “premed student who actually needs it,”    [11]  and since calculus wasn’t required *for* me, that A  grade was “totally wasted” *on* me.   [12]

Perhaps he was right, if only in a wee, mathematically insignificant way.  Although I adored and respected the class’s professor I didn’t find the subject matter interesting  (how I managed to get an A despite my FALLING ASLEEP DURING THE FINAL EXAM, I have no idea).  And today, in 2023, if you held a calculus equation before my eyes and a gun to my head (and I really hope you are never tempted to do either of those things) and demanded, “Do this calculation or I’ll pull the trigger!”  …well, one of us is going to prison.

I can, however, recall the lyrics to the theme song from Gilligan’s Island.




*   *   *

Freethinkers’ Thought Of The Week    [13]

“Bowling might fulfill all the social needs that religious worship and ritual do, without being delusional, divisive, and repressive, occasionally ridiculous and all too often violent.
So, go bowling next week instead of attending church, temple, or mosque,
and have a good time.”
( William A. Zingrone, The Arrogance of Religious Thought )



*   *   *

May you pardon me for this week’s blog title;
May you find a reason (if you don’t already have one) to go bowling;
May you, in your ideal life, be able to solve a differential equation AND sing about unsuspecting future castaways going on “♫ a three hour cruise…♫ ”;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

[1] It looked like he was a gull, crapping through its mouth.

[2] On the road, on public transportation vehicle floors – i.ee., not into their handkerchiefs.  Which no one seems to carry anymore but I remember when the Old Folks ® did.

[3] I am trying oh-so-hard to come up with *one* example to contradict my memory…I realize this is anecdotal, not scientific.

[4] In response to receiving his text that he was departing soon; I joined him the next day.

[5] and/or past performances/GPS in the subject…I’m not really sure how it was determined.

[6] In which she excelled, and she received a mathematics scholarship for college.

[7] The A series Calculus was required for mathematics and physics majors.

[8] And still do, mostly.

[9] I graduated with a B.A. in Criminal Justice.

[10] My biggest academic regret is not taking a tractor driving class.  UC Davis offered such a class, for one credit (like what you’d get for taking a PE class), but I could never make it fit between my academic and work schedule.

[11] Can you guess what his major was?

[12] Totally wasted was the description moiself  found applicable to that student’s demeanor and mindset, on most weekends in the dorms (he ended up transferring to a college with a less rigorous academic environment).

[13] “free-think-er n. A person who forms opinions about religion on the basis of reason, independently of tradition, authority, or established belief. Freethinkers include atheists, agnostics and rationalists.   No one can be a freethinker who demands conformity to a bible, creed, or messiah. To the freethinker, revelation and faith are invalid, and orthodoxy is no guarantee of truth.”  Definition courtesy of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, ffrf.org

The Kosher (Electricity) I’m Not Keeping

1 Comment

Department Of Apropos Of Nothing…

Last night I dreamed I wrote an ode to “Avocado,” sung to the tune, “Desperado.” In my dream I was singing it, but come wake time I couldn’t remember the new lyrics I wrote.


Perhaps Abby, my Emotional Support Avocado, will help me remember.


*   *   *

Department Of Random Thoughts From Last Week

Darteline:  Monday afternoon, circa 3pm; caught in a sudden downpour – the proverbial cloudburst –  while driving home from a movie theater.  The rain is coming down so hard and blinding my wipers are on full speed and it’s still very difficult to see the road ahead of me.  Moiself  is able to make out the silhouette of a motorcycle in front of me, and for the first time in my life, I find moiself  wondering how motorcyclists navigate under similar conditions.  Do the visors on their helmets have wipers?  How do they prevent their visors from fogging up?

I googled “motorcycle helmet with rain wiper,” and for some reason this image appeared.  I’m thinking, maybe not the cutting edge in road safety?



*   *   *

Department Of Religion’s Gift To The World

Regular readers of this blog (and other persons less emotionally disturbed) know that moiself  has no qualms when it comes to quarreling with the absurdities of the faith traditions and practices I grew up with (read: Christianity).  But, despite a certain religion having given the world centuries of comic-worthy material moiself  had mostly kept away from doing the same with Judaism.  Until a juicy nugget, in the form of a story about Israel’s utility classification and manipulation, fell into my petty hands….

Of course I’m not making up the following – there’s no need to.  Because, religion.



( Excerpts from  “Israel readies ‘kosher electricity’ for ultra-Orthodox households” (Washington Post, 5-7-23)
“Religious Israelis may soon have access to electric power that rabbis have approved for use during the weekly Sabbath, a techno-spiritual innovation that reflects…the power of ultra-Orthodox parties in Israel’s new government.
The program, unofficially dubbed ‘kosher electricity,’…would direct the national power utility to build…massive battery banks in and around ultra-Orthodox communities. These batteries would top up through the week with electricity from the public utility and dispense it during Shabbat hours, providing a workaround to rabbinical rules against plugging into the national grid from sundown on Fridays to sundown on Saturdays….”

Because it’s okay to enjoy the benefits of electrically powered appliances, but their devious little switches, look out!  THOU SHALT NOT TOUCH – it’s WORK.


“Not to worry; it’s clap on, clap off.”


This antediluvian foolishness aside, it’s one thing to live in a world of primitive superstitions and subjugate yourself to Bronze Age rites and red tape.  It’s another thing to demand that your fellow citizens make allowances for you *and* pay for you to do so:

“Since Israel’s founding, the ultra-Orthodox – also called the Haredimhave been exempted from military service, which is mandatory for all Jewish Israeli school leavers. The various ultra-Orthodox sects see it as a religious commandment to only study Jewish texts and separate themselves from modern society. They consequently receive government subsidies to study rather than work, along with general social services and benefits relating to unemployment, poverty and their large numbers of children.
( How anger over taxes and conscription is widening split among Israel’s Jews,”
The Guardian; my emphases )


Yahweh knows we can’t pick up our welfare checks if we’re in boot camp or practicing tank drills.


“Thousands marched for a ‘Day of Disruption to Demand Equality’ focused on the unequal burdens of citizenship and status of the ultra-Orthodox….
Ultra-Orthodox citizens are largely shielded from the country’s mandatory draft and educational standards and their families benefit from heavy public subsidies that allow boys and men to devote years to religious study instead of working and paying taxes in the mainstream economy….

One man marching in the ultra-Orthodox city of Bnei Brak wore a slogan that translated as ‘My son is willing to die on his tank; your son will not die studying Torah’…

‘They are not carrying with us, they are not part of society,” said Dafna Goldenberg, who served in a tank unit in the 1980s…. ‘I’m deeply worried that it will all collapse.’
(excerpts from “Israelis call out perks for ultra-Orthodox in latest protests,”
The Washington Post )

The ultra-Orthodox are the fastest-growing demographic in Israel, and the most insistent in pushing Israel’s government toward an even more hawkish, pro-military action, anti-Palestinian agenda.  Yet the Haredim expect (even insist) that everyone but them do the dirty work.  [1]   IMO it’s going to be a major factor in Israel’s inevitable downfall.   [2]


“Will the last person leaving Bnei Brak please ask his Shabbos goy to turn off the synagogue’s kosher lights?”


*   *   *

Department Of The Blog I Had To Stop Listening To

That would be the recent episode – Success 2.0: Taking the Leap of one of my favorite blogs, Hidden Brain.  The episode is introduced thusly (my emphases):

“American culture celebrates those who persevere in the face of adversity. So how do we know when to walk away from something that’s not working? Today, we kick off our new “Success 2.0” series with economist John List. He says in every domain of our lives, it’s important to know when to pivot to something new.”

After going through some legislative/corporate/business examples of should-I-stay-or-should-I-go? Should-we-fight-for-this-or-switch-tactics? dilemmas, guest List gave an example from his own life, of when he experienced the same predicament re his dissatisfaction with his marriage to his former high school sweetheart.

John List:
“This really caused me to step back, and think about whether I should end the marriage.  And I started to think, “Well look, I have five kids…and I’ve invested a lot in this relationship and this family, and I don’t want to waste that…so I  decided to give it a go.
And the next few months were difficult, and by the time the summer rolled around I was holed up mentally, I was keeping everything in, I was making occasional snide comments, to my wife – I really wasn’t a great husband or father.  So I said, ‘Well, give it some more time,’ and then six more months went by and I found myself even more miserable and making my wife’s life miserable…and that’s when I asked for a divorce.
This of course was a very difficult decision, as it went against everything I had been taught…and I really felt it was important to keep the family intake, especially for the kids, and I just realized that I was growing tired of making the rest of the family suffer during these dreadful times, and that’s when I decided to ask for a divorce….”

Oooohhhh…ick.  Really?

His whiny self-justification made me wanna….



“I was growing tired of making the rest of the family suffer.”  Well, then, stop making them suffer – that’ll be one less thing to make you tired. (And his kids were suffering?  Duh. They were starting to realize that they had a self-absorbed asshole for a father).

“I found myself even more miserable.” What passive language.   [3]   You just happened to *find* yourself miserable?

No where in List’s story does he mention seeking counseling,    [4]  or doing any kind of active or introspective work to find out what had led him to the point that he would consider abandoning a long-time marriage and FIVE children.  Rather, he whines to himself about his own discontent.  Why didn’t this educator and author, “noted for his pioneering contributions to field experiments in economics,”    [5]   turn his supposedly keen analytical mind to the most important field “experiment” of all – that of raising and nurturing a family?

When it comes to marriage and relationships, moiself  is in no way one of those *suck it up and be miserable no matter what the cost* people.  Still…we’re not talking about a corporate ad campaign that needs to be retooled or dumped, or a legislative initiative that needs to be tabled.  We’re talking “pivoting to something new” as in leaving your wife and your children?  As in, your family; your people – not corporations or career or educational plans. Human beings. A bit more difficult to just walk away from when “it isn’t working,” and rightly so.



List whimpers about being unhappy and moping for six months and making everyone else in his family unhappy.  Dude, do the work.  Find out what caused your attitude.  Do whatever you have to do to stop sulking and making others unhappy, instead of using their unhappiness – which you admit you caused – to justify your decision.  Yep, I’m calling List out, without further or in-depth knowledge of his personal story, but he’s the one who told his story in such a shallow, self-serving way.

From what I’ve read over the past couple of decades on this subject – from studies done by the organizations from the National Institute of Health to Psychology Today, to articles written by marriage and family counselors –  the evidence can be summed up in a headline I saw a few years ago.  Moiself  cannot recall the heading verbatim, but can summarize it:  Absent emotional or physical abuse, guess what – Your kids don’t care if *you’re* unfulfilled/bored/unhappy.  Kids want an intact family.

“Should You Stay Together Only for the Kids?

Many parents believe that divorce will cause irreparable damage to their children. Some parents are so worried about this that they remain in unhappy, conflict-ridden, or even abusive marriages. What does the research say? Is it always best to stay together for the kids?

The short-term answer is usually yes. Children thrive in predictable, secure families with two parents who love them and love each other. Separation is unsettling, stressful, and destabilizing unless there is parental abuse or conflict.”

(Psychology Today 5-29-19 )



*   *   *



Department Of,  And In A Related Story….

Dateline: Wednesday afternoon.  MH, working from home, walked downstairs from his office to my office, with a perplexed look on his face.  He told me he’d been catching up on some podcast listening while doing some mundane tasks, and he had a lot of Hidden Brain episodes in his podcast feed, and he started listening to a recent one in which the guest, a supposedly intelligent man, relayed a personal story which really put MH off by the man’s self-centered passivity and lack of self-awareness….

“Let me guess,” moiself  interjected.  “I bet it’s the podcast I’m blogging about this Friday.”



*   *   *

Department Of The Best Bumper Stickers I’ve Seen Recently…

Other than my current crop, of course.



The folllowing two, on the back of a burgundy minivan in front of me yesterday, made me pull over to the side of the road to laugh (and write them down):

My Driving Scares Me, Too

Condoms Prevent Minivans


*   *   *

Freethinkers’ Thought Of The Week    [6]

George Bush says he speaks to god every day, and Christians love him for it. If George Bush said he spoke to god through his hair dryer, they would think he was mad. I fail to see how the addition of a hair dryer makes it any more absurd.

( Neuroscientist, author and philosopher Sam Harris )


Are you there, god?  It’s me, Georgie.


*   *   *

May you savor the petty satisfaction of turning off a podcast which annoys you;
May your motorcycle helmet be both stylish and safety-enhancing;
May you relish the freedom to use electric appliances at any time of any day;

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

[1] From serving in the military and harassing and killing Palestinian citizens, to hiring a shabbos goy to push a fucking button on their sabbath.

[2] Inevitable, to moiself.  Do the math: Israel is surrounded/outnumbered by their enemies, and seem determined to keep enemies as enemies instead of working toward peacefully co-existing with their neighbors and finding a humane solution to – or even acknowledging – the mistreatment and displacement of Palestinians.

[3] Along with that passive-aggressive classic, “Mistakes were made.”

[4] possibly starting for himself alone, but also couples counseling.

[5] As per his Wikipedia bio.

[6] “free-think-er n. A person who forms opinions about religion on the basis of reason, independently of tradition, authority, or established belief. Freethinkers include atheists, agnostics and rationalists.   No one can be a freethinker who demands conformity to a bible, creed, or messiah. To the freethinker, revelation and faith are invalid, and orthodoxy is no guarantee of truth.”  Definition courtesy of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, ffrf.org

The Vocals I’m Not Frying

Comments Off on The Vocals I’m Not Frying

Department Of, Like, Just Give It A Fancy Name, And It’ll Be, Like, Less Annoying

It’s been a noteworthy past few weeks for my podcast listening obsession hobby, with several different podcasts focusing on a subject of particular interest to moiself : language and usage.    [1]    Clear + Vivid podcast is on a roll re that topic.  Yet another thought-provoking episode:  English evolves, like it or not.

Podcast guest Valerie Fridland, researcher and author of Like Literally Dude: Arguing for the good in bad English, says that those likes and so’s and you knows, ahs, ums and other language tics that annoy us so much are inescapable, and actually linguistically useful.  In this excerpted exchange, Fridland and C+V host Alan Alda discuss what many people decry as one of their most annoying language peeves, the use of the word, “like.”



Valerie Fridland:
One way that we’re using like in a new way is as an approximating  adverbial.   [2]  And I think when you think about it that way it makes it sound so much more intellectual that it will convert people into like likers…

Alan Alda (laughing):
It’s so intellectual I can’t understand it….

I’m gonna break it down for you; I just want you to know that it’s doing something important.

…you got me halfway there, with the fancy name.

So when you are talking about something that you’re estimating…you need to indicate to your listeners somehow  that what you’re saying – you’re not trying to be exact; you’re not trying to lie to them if you’re wrong about the number you’re giving them, but you’re just estimating.  Usually in standard English we use  “about” as what we call an approximating adverbial.  Which would mean, I would say something like, “He’s about five years old’ or ‘it’s about twenty pounds.’ That’s an approximating adverbial – the ‘about’….

‘Like’ has simply become a new approximating adverbial: “He’s like ten pounds;” or, ‘It’s like a hundred years old.’ So ‘like’ has become a one-to-one substitution for something that’s already well-accepted and serves a purpose.   It’s just not as well accepted, but it still serves that same purpose.



They chat about other linguistic topics, including vocal fry.

Your mission, if you should accept it, is to show me why that (accepting vocal fry) is a good thing.

I want to clarify something:  none of these are better necessarily than things we used to do, they’re just different. That that’s basically the evolution of language…. Things don’t necessarily change because they’re better, they change because there is a cognitive desire or an articulatory desire from our evolutionary standpoint to move that direction and a social trigger to make it happen.



And although I understand Fridland’s defense of language evolution, why do certain evolutions – vocal fry, as a prime example – have to be so effin’ annoying?  In moiself’s opinion, it’s like the sound of fingernails on a chalkboard.  Speaking of which….

*   *   *

Department Of Good And Bad Anticipations

Good anticipation:  a family wedding later this month.

Bad anticipation: the probable harangue/entreaties for those attending to participate in extended family photos.  Not a big deal for many folk, and perhaps even anticipated by those in the selfie-obsessed/must-document-every-moment-of-ME crowd.  However, such entreaties are the equivalents of fingernails on a chalkboard for those of us who are fotografizophobic. ®

And no, we’re not just camera shy.



It’s not the lack of “fear” which bothers moiself  about (some) photographers, it’s their lack of boundaries.  Exemplified by the person – whom I had just met and who thus falls into the virtual stranger ® category – who, long ago in a galaxy far far away, actually told me, when they’d asked me to be in a picture they were taking and I politely declined, that they were “offended” by me not wanting them to take my picture.

The subject came up after a trip many years MH and daughter Belle and I made, to visit son K in college.  I’ll let moiself  explain as per a previous blog several years ago:

Saturday night, after dropping off K at his dorm, Belle, MH & I had dinner at Pomodoro, in Tacoma’s Procter district.   Not long after we were seated Belle removed her sketch pad and pencils from her purse. She and MH were seated across from me, and Belle looked in my direction as she began to sketch. I turned around to see if perhaps a cute waiter or bus boy was lurking behind me.  Nope.  This put me into a rather mild existential panic.  I tried my best not to sound like a bad Robert DeNiro imitation as I asked, “Are you sketching *me*?”



“Yes,” Belle replied.  “Hold still.”

I didn’t hold still.  None of us held still.  We were doing restaurant-things: eating, drinking, lifting napkins to our mouths, answering questions from our server, as well as allegedly conversing with one another.  Belle said nothing more, but from her heavy sighs and eyebrow gymnastics it was apparent that she was disappointed with my lack of stillness, and other attributes that render me unfit for sketching.

I do not translate well to photos.  I am not a still life, and loathe having my picture taken in any form and for any cause. The reasons for this are not particularly complicated or interesting; they are known to those supposedly closest to me, and in a kind and just world (calling Mr. Rogers!) would be respected, even if not “understood.”  This is rarely the case.

From the POV of a fotografizophobic   [3]  when people gaze at you intently and allegedly dispassionately, judging the contours (read: inadequacies) of your bone structure and other facial features, hearing them say, “Hold still so I can sketch you/take your picture” is the emotional equivalent of hearing, “Hold still so that I may throw acid in your face.”

Unsolicited, adult-to-adult advice: when any sentient being declines to have their picture taken by you, respect their wishes and move on.  Do not whine and wheedle; do not attempt any form of emotional blackmail  ( “The family reunion shot will be ruined if you’re not in it, and who knows if Uncle Anus will live long enough to attend the next one!” ).  Unless I am renewing my driver’s license and you are the DMV camera dude, or you are the hospital’s medical photographer sent to document my Mayo Clinic-worthy, bulbous axillary tumor, back off.  It’s that simple.



*   *   *

Department Of New Things To Think About

Moiself   had a pull-over-to-the-curb moment  [4]  last week, the kind that made me all tingly inside.



Relax, Countess, it’s not that kind of tingly.

It’s the even better kind, prompted by the realization of This  is something I’ve rarely – if ever – thought about before.

This was thanks to a recent Clear + Vivid podcast:  Susan Goldin-Meadow: Thinking with your hands.  From the podcast teaser:

Decades spent studying the way we use our hands when we talk has convinced Susan Goldin-Meadow that not only do gestures help our listeners understand us; gestures help us understand ourselves. They help us think, and as children, even to learn.

Susan Goldin-Meadow is a Professor in of Psychology, Comparative Human Development, and Education at the University of Chicago.  Her specialties and areas of research include exploring the impact of environmental and biological variation on language development – such as homesign, the unique, gestural languages created by children who lack language input (e.g. deaf children born to hearing parents who do not sign).  She is also fascinated by how our own gestures help us think and learn and communicate above and beyond the spoken word.


There’s a chart for everything.


We’ve all made the jokes about other people – or in moiself’s  case, I’ve both made the jokes and have had them applied to moiself – about people who “talk with their hands.”   [5]   As in, those who tend to gesture when talking, especially when telling stories or speaking with resolution and passion.  I tend to do this, and those who have pointed this out to me usually follow their observation with one of two attributions:

“It’s due to your Irish blood!”
(Yep; 50% on both sides of the family)

“You *must* be Italian!”
(Scusa; not a drop).

But I’ve never considered what place gestures and gesticulating plays in language (nor extensively thought about the fact that gesturing as a form of communication likely preceded both oral and written language), or that studying this fascinating topic is even an academic thing.

*   *   *

Department of Employee Of The Month



It’s that time again, to bestow that prestigious award upon…moiself.  Again. The need for which I wrote about here.  [6]

*   *   *

Freethinkers’ Thought Of The Week    [7]

“It’s now very common to hear people say, ‘I’m rather offended by that.’ As if that gives them certain rights. It’s actually nothing more… than a whine. ‘I find that offensive.’ It has no meaning; it has no purpose; it has no reason to be respected as a phrase. ‘I am offended by that.’ Well, so fucking what?”
 ( Stephen Fry, British English actor, broadcaster, comedian, director and writer. )



*   *   *

May you have happy reasons for pull-over-to-the-curb moments;
May you keep your fingernails away from chalkboards;
May you refrain from vocal frying “like” within earshot of moiself;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

[1] (as moiself   wrote about last week).

[2] Approximating adverbials are “…used to show that something is almost, but not completely, accurate or correct: ‘The trip takes approximately seven hours. The two buildings were approximately equal in size. The flight takes approximately three hours.’ ”  Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries.

[3] Fotografizophobia is the fear of having your picture taken.

[4] Well, except for the fact that I was not driving.

[5] but *not* referring to people who actually communicate with their hands; i.e., deaf and hearing impaired people who use ASL.

[6] Several years ago, MH received a particularly glowing performance review from his workplace. As happy as I was for him when he shared the news, it left me with a certain melancholy I couldn’t quite peg.  Until I did.  One of the many “things” about being a writer (or any occupation working freelance at/from home) is that although you avoid the petty bureaucratic policies, bungling bosses, mean girls’ and boys’ cliques, office politics and other irritations inherent in going to a workplace, you also lack the camaraderie and other social perks that come with being surrounded by your fellow homo sapiens.  No one praises me for fixing the paper jam in the copy machine, or thanks me for staying late and helping the new guy with a special project, or otherwise says, Good on you, sister. Once I realized the source of the left-out feelings, I came up with a small way to lighten them.

[7] “free-think-er n. A person who forms opinions about religion on the basis of reason, independently of tradition, authority, or established belief. Freethinkers include atheists, agnostics and rationalists.   No one can be a freethinker who demands conformity to a bible, creed, or messiah. To the freethinker, revelation and faith are invalid, and orthodoxy is no guarantee of truth.”  Definition courtesy of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, ffrf.org