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The Holiday I’m Not Renaming

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Department Of It’s The Little Things Which Make Life Worth Living
In These Trying Political Times

Dateline: Tuesday afternoon. Apropos of…whatever, my offspring, son K and daughter Belle, have this exchange on our family messenger group, Yep!!!! Cats!!!!     [1]     (sans pix; these are my illustrations):

K:
I did not realize how truly gigantic Fetterman is.
He’s like 6’9.”

Since words and reason don’t work we now have Fetterman

to give the insane senators a swirly.

Belle:
(thumbs up)
First on the list: Mitch McConnell.

 

 

Belle:
Although I think just turning him upside-down would kill him,

probably couldn’t even get to the swirly part.

 

 

 

Moiself  walked around the rest of the afternoon with a big smile on my face, thanks to the imagery provided by my offspring. 

 

Relax, Mitchie-boy. Just think of it as your well-deserved spa treatment.

 

*   *   *

Department Of Another Good Thing ® About Social Media

There’s no shortage of criticisms of the various social media outlets, and most critiques are legit, I’d wager.   [2]   Even as I am encouraging those who complain about supporting a certain megalomaniac to drop their Twitter accounts and stop buying Teslas, moiself  remains on one social media site: Facebook. Here’s one of the reasons why.

Dateline: earlier this week.   A FB friend posts pictures of his grandchild‘s visit to what looks to be an amusement park, and picture shows the child playing that classic arcade game, Whac-a-mole. Seeing this picture prompts a lovely flashback for moiself – a memory I’ve not thought of in decades.

Dateline of memory: A long time in a galaxy far far away (Southern California). I am visiting my parents at their home in Santa Ana.  It’s summertime, and the County Fair is on.  My parents tell me they haven’t been to a state or county fair in ages, and suggest we go. And so we do. As we walk past the various cheesy games and merchandise and food booths, nothing catches our interest, until we come to an arcade. I espy a Whac-A-Mole game, and instantly am obsessed with getting my mother to play it.

 

 

My mother is hesitant, despite my enthusiastic recommendation. She knows nothing about it, she says (Even better!!!, moiself  thinks to  moiself ) I assure her that it’s a straightforward game, no complicated strategy or levels or scenarios: she simply must hold the mallet and whack the heads of the moles as they pop up from the console.

“Why?” she asks me.

“There’s no time to get existential right now,” I reply.  I put my two quarters in the slot, press the game’s start button and put the mallet in my mother’s hand.  “You don’t want me to waste fifty cents, right, Mom? Look – there’s one!  Pretend it’s digging up your rosebushes!”

Unlike the champ in the above video, my mother is exquisitely awful at Whac-A-Mole. Her timing is atrocious; even so, she soon gets into it in her own way, emitting a high-pitched, “Oh!” whenever a mole head appears, followed by her delayed whack at its head. My father and I, standing to the side of the game console, are doubled over with laughter as we watch my mild-mannered mother, with an increasing maniacal look in her eyes, pursues those pesky moles:

“Oh!”
(whack)

“Oh!”
(whack)

“Oh!” (whack) “Oh!” (whack)

“Oh oh oh oh oh oh!”
(whack whack whack whack whack whack)

It is one of my favorite memories of her.

 

This is another one.

 

I haven’t gone to a county fairs in years and it’s been even longer since I’ve even seen a Whac-a-mole game.  So, then:  would that memory have been prompted by anything else, save for a post on social media? It’s not like I would have seen a picture of my friend’s grandchild playing this game – like most of my FB friends, we don’t have a letter-writing kind of relationship.  

*   *   *

Department Of Well That’s Not Up To Their Usual Standards

Moiself  is referring to the recent rerun of an interview with (the late) Loretta Lynn on Fresh Air .

It was a tad interesting, due to the skills of FA host, Terry Gross, arguably   [3]  the best interviewer out there.  But IMO it was not up to the usual FA standards.  This was because Lynn was (again, IMO)….  There’s no easy way to say it.  The guest can make or break the interview.  And it wasn’t that Lynn was a “bad” guest, or an audaciously humorless and insufferably boorish one like a notable few TG has dealt with.  [4]   On the contrary.  Lynn was pleasant enough, but it seemed to me that she was also…well… rather…simple, or basic. Not plucking every string on her guitar, so to speak.

 

In the history of country music, LL’s talent was even bigger than her hair.

 

LL seemed not at all interested in self-reflection and/or discussing or exploring how she writes her songs.  Okay; fine; her prerogative.  But then, why agree to be come on a show where the whole point is to talk about your work as a female singer who broke ground in her genre for writing her own songs?

The point of a FA interview with a musician/singer/songwriter is to reflect upon one’s work, technique, inspiration, and so on.  Which Lynn summed up in sentences like, “Oh, I don’t really know,” or “I don’t like to talk about that.” Lynn’s songs are personal – she’s said in previous interviews that her husband was, in one way or another, “in every song” she wrote, yet she wouldn’t go further when FA  host TG would ask her about *how* or why her husband is in a particular song.

And TG let her get away with it.

LL’s song Fist City is borderline hilarious in some ways and disturbing in others.  And TG did not probe into that, as I have heard her done, through the years – the decades now –  that I’ve been listening to FA interviews.  Gross is insightful and persistent as an interviewer, and respectfully so.  She typically does not give up after one attempted conversational diversion by a guest.  And her guest was country music legend Loretta Lynn, who has written all these classic country songs about women trying to take her man (including, wait for it: “You Ain’t Woman Enough To Take My Man”), and… hello? What are those lyrics about?

 

 

If it had been any other songwriter, I think TG would have asked more persistently about the song’s implications.  She did try, but Lynn wasn’t having any of it.  “Oh I don’t want to talk about that,” LL would purr, in her soft Kentucky lilt.

I wanted TG to get LL to at least to consider why people might want LL to talk about that problem – about how she was really singing about, writing about, the wrong problem.  When LL sang about how some women were ‘after,’ (her words) her man, the underlying problem wasn’t those women.

Loretta Lynn, the woman who wrote so empathetically about birth control liberating women from the life of a brood mare (“The Pill”), and the trials of a divorced woman having people think that just because she’s divorced she’s loose/available (“Rated X”) didn’t seem capable of, or willing to, consider the fact that it was her husband who was the problem. He married her, but chased after other women.  But Lynn…wouldn’t go there.
And TG, in deference to Lynn’s age, status and/or “sweetness,” didn’t seem willing to push it the way I think she would have with another musician…or politician, or writer or artist or sports figure or…..  Is that ultimately respectful, or patronizing?

 

 

   *    *   *

Department Of The Big Day Next Week

The more I know about the origins and mythologies (read: lies) about Thanksgiving, the less I want to call it that.

I’ve always had a certain ambivalence regarding Tday.  Even as a child, I suspected we weren’t being told the truth about that much vaunted Happy Time Between Indians and Pilgrims ®.  Historians are starting to speak up, and…how can I put this?  Folks, if the Readers Digest, hardly The Socialist Review, is willing to address this issue, that means it’s way past time the rest of us did.

 

 

“Thanksgiving is both uniquely American and full of treasured traditions. But this rosy picture of modern celebrations leaves out most of the real history of Thanksgiving….
Yes, you can still settle down with family to give thanks. But it’s important to know what you’re celebrating and unlearn some long-held myths.”
…. What’s the harm in believing the happy version so many of us grew up with? It’s just a story, right? This whitewashing downplays the long and bloody series of conflicts between white settlers and Native Americans that would occur over the next two centuries…..
‘Narratives of a harmonious Thanksgiving celebration were created to justify westward expansion and Manifest Destiny,’…. The term Manifest Destiny, coined more than two centuries after the first Thanksgiving, was the belief that settlers were destined by God to expand across America and prosper….

Myth: The “first Thanksgiving” started the tradition that founded the holiday.
Truth: The harvest celebration of 1621 was not called Thanksgiving and was not repeated every year. The next official ‘day of thanksgiving’ was after settlers massacred more than 400 Pequot men, women and children. Governor Bradford’s journal decreed, ‘For the next 100 years, every Thanksgiving Day ordained by a governor is in honor of the bloody victory, thanking God that the battle had been won.’

We should add that to our list of favorite Thanksgiving quotes as a stark reminder of the real history of Thanksgiving.”
(“The Real History of Thanksgiving,” Readers Digest, 11-15-22)

 

 

I like the idea of a holiday involving gratitude, and one in which friends and family get together for a celebratory meal.  As for what is in the meal, as the years have gone by, my own dietary preferences have changed – although even as a child I never was all that fond of the big bland boring turkey and wondered what all the fuss was about.    [5]  Moiself  likes the idea of variety feast, rather than a fixed menu.  [6] 

Moiself  also likes that which is practiced by our neighbors to the north.  Canadian Thanksgiving, which I and my family have experienced thanks to the generosity of a dear Canadian friend and (former) neighbor, is more of a general harvest celebration, without a traditional fixed menu.

Hmmm, so, how’s about Harvest Fest Gratitude DayGrativest Day? Harvitude Day?

 

Yeah, like that’s gonna fly.

 

Perhaps I’m being persnickety here.  After all, I’m the one who points out the secular origins of Christmas, which I don’t insist on renaming it, for the same reasons that, for example, I call the middle day of the week Wednesday even though I do not worship the Germanic god for whom the day is named.  Still, knowing the origins of Thanksgiving and the subsequent mythologies which promoted it, I can’t help but wish for a name change.

But that’s about as likely to happen as Elon Musk is likely to gift the running of Twitter to the Southern Poverty Law Center, sell his holdings in Tesla and donate the profits to Greenpeace, then take a vow of abstemious living and join a Buddhist monastery.

Ah, but it’s good to dream.

 

*   *   *

Punz For The Day
Tday Edition

How did Ziggy Stardust express his gratitude to the Thanksgiving host for serving her tasty sweet potato casserole?
“Wham, yam, thank you ma’am.”

My family advised me to stop telling Thanksgiving jokes,
but I said I couldn’t quit cold turkey.

How does rapper Sir Mixalot, who loathes pumpkin pie,
express his Thanksgiving dessert preference?
“I like big bundts and I cannot lie.”

 

I’ll give her points for not eating us, but really, these jokes are fowl.

 

*   *   *

 

May you have a good feast with friends and family, whatever you call it;
May visions of Mitch-getting-a-swirley warm the cockles of your heart;
May you find a whac-a-mole game and go to town;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

[1] So named, by MH…I can’t remember the specifics, but it had to do with one of us commenting about all of us posting cat pictures yet again.  It has evolved into a family message board…with – yep! – lots of cat-sighting pictures.

[2] Wager, rather than aver, because I’m not on most social media and thus can’t speak from direct experience.

[3] As in, you could argue with me about this, but you’d lose.

[4] As in her FA interviews with Bill O’Reilly and Gene Simmons.

[5] My most memorable Tday was when the friend of a host brought a huge chinook salmon he’d caught the previous day in Alaska, and the hosts, my aunt and uncle, roasted it simply, with herbs and lemon juice.  I WAS AMAZED.

[6] Also, I haven’t eaten meat for years, so there goes that feast centerpiece.

The ‘Bitch’ Book I’m Not Requiring You To Read…

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…even though you damn well better, if you ever want to make any pronouncement about sex/gender and behavior in the animal kingdom.

Department Of I Am Woman Hear Me Roar    [1]

 

 

The book club moiself  is hosting – so unprecedentedly named, “Book Club” – is reading a book that, despite being entertaining in and of itself, has some of the more enthusiastic and engaging reviews I’ve run across in years.

But there is one adjective (most of) the reviews have left out.  Time and time again they mention how educational and entertaining the book is – you’ll laugh, you’ll gasp, you’ll shake your head and say WTF?!?!? – but they left out the anger part.  As in, for all readers with an IQ above their shoe size, this book should also, IMO, make you angry.  Angry in that the information contained in it is considered new and/or controversial to some people; angry that, even in the sciences, in fields of (supposedly) open inquiry, so many minds were closed for so many years and so many prejudices and social mores were passed along as biological realities.

 From what I’ve written, and from the review excerpts (my emphases) which follow, can you guess the subject of the book?   [2]

 

“I know you can, girls and boys.”

 

“Fun, informative and revolutionary all at once…should be required reading in school. After reading this book one will never look at an orca, an albatross, or a human the same way again. And the world will be better for it.”
( Agustin Fuentes, professor of anthropology at Princeton University)

“….blows two centuries of sexist myths right out of biology. Prepare to learn a lot -and laugh out loud. A beautifully written, very funny and deeply important book.”
( Alice Roberts, author of Evolution )

“astonishing, wildly entertaining, and massively important.” 
 (Mary Roach, American popular science author )

“An important corrective to the ‘accidental sexism’ baked into so many biological studies… [and] a clarion call that the remaining terra incognita of female biology merits far more comprehensive mapping.”
(  Financial Times )

“[An] effervescent exposé… [A] playful, enlightening tour of the vanguard of evolutionary biology.”
( Scientific American )

“… shows what a difference women make to scientific inquiry, asking questions and proposing studies their male colleagues didn’t think of — or didn’t bother with.”
( Bethanne Patrick, LA Times )

“By analyzing numerous animals, this sparkling attack on scientific sexism draws on many scientists — of multiple genders — to correct stereotypes of the active male versus passive female.”
( Nature )

 

“Who you callin’ passive?”

 

“In compelling and often hilarious prose, using the scientific authority she has earned as a trained biologist…(the author) confronts the long history of androcentric assumptions baked into evolutionary biology and begins to set the record straight.”
( Jessie Rack, Science )

“…demolishes much of what you probably learned about the sexes in biology class. This may be disconcerting, even confronting for those who feel comfortable in the warm embrace of Darwinian order. But it’s also exciting, and fascinating, and very well might change the way you see the world.”
 ( Science News )

“…dives into sex and gender across the animal kingdom, dispelling all the misogynist notions of females being the weaker sex…This book elevates not just the science itself but the scientists that have been marginalized for too long.”
 ( Lucy Roehrig, Booklist )

“In this delightful, revelatory survey of cross-species sexism, (the author) treats readers to an information-dense reframing of the many misunderstandings around sex and sexuality that burden ‘girls’ of all kinds. Come for the promise of some really neat nature facts. Stay for Cooke picking apart the misogynistic underpinnings of Charles Darwin’s fundamentally flawed theory of evolution.
( AV Club )

“A dazzling, funny and elegantly angry demolition of our preconceptions about female behaviour and sex in the animal kingdom… I read it, my jaw sagging in astonishment, jotting down favourite parts to send to friends and reading out snippets gleefully.”
( The Observer )

 

The male sage grouse’s mating dance has got to be one of those snippets.

 

“The author has a charmingly irreverent style that, among other things, pokes holes in the sexist scientific research of old that used cherry-picked data to conclude females weren’t worth studying.
( Publishers Weekly )

“A top-notch book of natural science that busts myths as it entertains.”
 ( Kirkus )

“Brilliant… readers will never see the world the same way again… inspires awe in the breathtaking diversity of nature and the evolutionary roots of our behaviour.”
 ( Times Literary Supplement )

 “A glorious rebuttal of everything we have believed about gender since Charles Darwin got it all wrong.”
( Daily Mirror )

*   *   *

The book is Bitch: On The Female of the Species, by Lucy Cooke.   [3]

 

 

Since 99% of us have had a least some exposure to Darwin’s works on evolution (On The Origin of the Species; The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex), we owe it to ourselves to read the scientific updates/corrections that have been over 160 years in the making.

In other words, if you *think* you know at least something about natural selection and animal behavior, you need to read this book.

“…since Charles Darwin got it all wrong.”

Pay close attention to that review fragment.

Darwin didn’t get it *all* wrong.  He and his peers,   [4]  whose work led us to the beginning of understanding evolutionary biology, were able to challenge the substantial religious barriers of their time and publish their findings. But when it came to sex and species, they were still men of their times, emphasis on both men and times.  They were unable to shed, nor even recognize, their blinkered, Victorian male mindset when it came to observations of pronouncements about the females of the species they studied – any and all species which used sexual reproduction.   [5]

Except that they mostly *didn’t* study the females of the species.

One of the most encouraging aspects of science is that, being science, it progresses.  Contemporatry scientists add on to the knowledge of the past, and correct the errors.  Still, this progress is often glacial, as science was done and continues to be done by human beings, with their flawed assumptions and hidden (even –  especially – to themselves) biases. Broadening the scope of knowledge and correcting errors can takes many years, and in the case of Victorian male scientists projecting their cultural assumptions and male privilege onto that of their theories and observations (or lack thereof) re females, it has taken tens of decades – approaching two centuries – for the “phallocracy of evolutionary biology” to be challenged in theory and overturned by the evidence.

Closing in on 200 years after Darwin and Wallace began organizing their theories of evolution, the old boys network many contemporary male scientists still hold on to the past.  Even when presented with the DNA analysis confirming what ethologists and biologists observed in the field – that, for example, in the nest of the assumedly monogamous/pair-bonded songbirds, only two of the clutch of the female’s six eggs are actually fathered by the male of the pair – some scientists still cling to the myth that only the males of a species are promiscuous.  The lower their blinders; they protest and bluster and try to explain away the evidence right under their prudish noses.  [6]

 

“Close your eyes and think of England.”

 

“Even the most original and meticulous scientists are not immune to the influence of culture….  The leading academic minds of the Victorian era considered the sexes to be radically different creatures – essentially polar opposites of one another. females were believed to experience  arrested development; they resembled the young of their species by being smaller and less colorful…. Essentially, males were considered to be more evolved than females.

These sentiments were all incorporate by Darwin into The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex, which, as the title suggests, used sexual and natural selection to explain human evolution and the sex differences upheld by Victorian society.

‘The chief distinction in the intellectual powers of the two sexes is shewn by man’s attaining to a higher eminence, in whatever he takes up, than can woman – whether requiring deep thought, reason or imagination, or merely the use of the senses and hands,’ explained Darwin. ‘Thus, man has ultimately become superior to woman.’

Darwin’s theory of sexual selection was incubated in misogyny, so it is little wonder that the female animal came out deformed, as marginalized and misunderstood as a Victorian housewife.

….because of (Darwin’s) godlike reputation, biologists who followed in his wake have suffered from a chronic case of confirmation bias.  They looked for evidence in support of the passive female prototype, and saw only what they wanted to see.”
( excerpts iv-xv, Introduction, Bitch: On The Female of the Species )

 

 

Moiself’s   summary/teaser for the book.  In Bitch… you will learn how the sexist scientific research of old

* projected their cultural assumptions and male privilege on to that of their theories and observations

* ignored and/or marginalized the science (and scientists) which contradicted their inherited stereotypes of the active male versus passive female

*used cherry-picked data to conclude females weren’t worth studying, and ultimately defined the females of species in terms of the males   [7]

*drew conclusions from studying male animals’ behaviors – and even anatomies – which they applied to females

These points cannot be emphasized enough.  Thus, I intend to do so, at least 23 times per post, in every blog of mine from here on out.

 

Just kidding.

*   *   *

Department Of Moiself’s Favorite Story From This Book Full of Favorite Stories

From Bitch’s Chapter Four: Fifty Ways to Eat Your Lover: the conundrum of sexual cannibalism.

“Most people don’t think of the word flamboyant when describing a spider… (however) the male peacock spider is the Liberace of the arachnid world – an outrageous peformer who just like his avian namesake, employs an estraordinary iridescent tail-fan to win his mate….
When approaching a female…this fuzzy little four millimetre wonder stages an unexpectedly elaborate dance routine by abruptly lifting his furry abdomen into a vertical position and unfurling two shimmering flaps decorated with graphic blues, oranges and reds that could have been designed by Gianni Versace. This peacock arachnid wagles his gaudy butt-fan whilst bobbing his body up and down, stomping his feet and waving a pair of oversize legs in the air. This exhuberant toutine, part Fred Astaire and part Village People, can go on for up to an hour until he’s close enough to make his move.

It is an undeniably charming spectacle, made all the more endearing by the fact that the peacock male is, of course, dancing for his life. Up to three quarters of peacock suitors are terminally dispatched by an unimpressed female.”

 

Betcha I’d be the spider who survived the odds.

 

*   *   *

Punz For The Day
Biology and Evolution Edition

Some people don’t believe in evolution.
They’re primate change deniers.

If evolution’s really a thing,
why haven’t hummingbirds learned the words yet?

How do you identify a male bald eagle?
All his feathers are combed over to one side.

 

Oh, honey, don’t be so sensitive.”

 

*   *   *

May we always be willing to question the conventional wisdom;
May we continue to update our knowledge base;
May we enjoy watching footage of the ludicrous sage grouse booty call dance;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

[1] And if I am a woman lion hear me roar as I mate with every male lion I encounter…much to the distress of many male biologists….

[2] Yeah, I’m going to make you read further before I give the title.  Such a tease.

[3] In the running for Best Book Title Ever. ®

[4] In particular, British naturalist Alfred Wallace.

[5] As opposed to asexual reproduction.

[6] “The female songbird must have been raped!”  Cool story, bro, except that, like most birds (97%), male songbirds do not have a penis, and cannot rape their mates.  Both genders have a cloaca and must cooperate to share their genetic material, mating with what ornithologists call a “cloacal kiss.”

[7] Male lions are the default; females are the afterthought, the “-ess”es.

The Tribalism I’m Not Embracing

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What would ushering in the holiday season be without The Dropkick Murphys?

 

 

Speaking of holidays, since 2008 I’ve kept track of how many greedy candy mongers trick-or-treaters have graced our porch.  The numbers range from a low of 25   [1]   to a high of 63, with an average of 45.  This year we had 26.

 

 

 

 

Only twenty-six?  MH and I were speculating about the downswing (last year’s count was 60). Combination of a school night and the (at times heavy) rain?  It couldn’t be the latter…oh, c’mon, kids (and parents), this is Oregon.

Last year we gave out full-sized   [2]  candy bars.  This year (before moiself  knew what would be the lame turnout) I wanted to do something different. I walked up and down supermarket aisles, looking for inspiration.  And found plenty. 

Here are the things I wanted to give out to trick or treaters:  Small jars/cans of pimentos or black olives or cornichons or sweet corn or Liquid Smoke or soy sauce or…Beanee Weenees!  Of course, if word got out that we were distributing the latter, the kiddies would leave skidmarks from our neighbors’ porches to our own.

 

Accept no substitutions.

 

Here are the things we *did* give out to trick or treaters:

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of The Perspective That Could Save Us   [3]

From the podcast Unexplainable, The Gray Area:  “On the first episode of Vox’s new podcast, The Gray Area, host Sean Illing talks with Neil deGrasse Tyson about the limits of both politics and science.”  What caught my attention was NDT’s assertion that taking a “cosmic perspective” is the most rational and helpful– and arguably the only– thing that can solve our myriad of social, political and environmental challenges.  This is an excerpt from their discussion:

NDT:
What’s the most intelligent species there ever was on earth?

SI:
 Oh…you’re setting me up. Um, since you’re asking me, it can’t be people…

NDT:
No, it *is* people; it’s not a trick question.  So now I ask, who declared that humans are the smartest animals there ever were?  Humans did.
Whereas a cosmic perspective would say, imagine a lifeform smarter than we are:  Is there anything we have done in the history of civilization that (this smarter-than-us lifeform) would judge to be clever?

 

 

This was a great 1980s, one-woman play (written by Jane Wagner and starring Lily Tomlin), which was being revived in early 2022, starring Cecily Strong.

 

 

NDT:

It’s a simple thought experiment, when we compare ourselves to chimpanzees, our closest genetic relative.  We have 98, 99% identical DNA to a chimp. Now, if you’re really into homo sapiens you say, What a difference that 2% makes! We have philosophy and the Hubble telescope and art and civilization! And all the chimp can do is maybe extract termites from a mound, and the smartest of them will stack boxes to reach hanging bananas from the ceiling.
 But I pose you the question: suppose the intelligence difference between chimps and humans was actually as small as that 2% might indicate.  What would we look like to some other species that’s 2% beyond us in intelligence – just the 2% that we are beyond the chimps?
Continue on that line. The smartest chimps can do what our toddlers can do.  By that analogy, the smartest humans would do what the toddlers of this species can do.
Putting all that in context, all I’m saying is that for you to say we’re pretty clever… another species 2% beyond us, there’s nothing we could do that would impress them.
So, that species visiting earth on the rumor that intelligent life had surfaced, after seeing our rampant irrationalities – the wars we fight against our own species, because you live on a different line in the sand, because resources are unequally distributed on the land and in the ocean, because you worship a different god, because you sleep with different people – and we slaughter each other and enslave people….  Those aliens will run home and say, “There is no sign of intelligent life on earth.”
It’s a cosmic perspective, offered for your consideration.

SI:
This …is (your) central plea…that we take a more cosmic perspective on things…

NDT:
On *everything.*

SI:
 …on everything, and achieve some clarity about what really matters and what doesn’t, and how stupid so many of the things that we *think* are important really are…

NDT:
I wouldn’t say stupid so much as just kind of irrelevant. You think it’s important and it’s actually not. That’s a more significant value of a cosmic perspective: it forces you to rebalance your portfolios of concerns in the world.

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of A Cosmic Perspective Is Definitely Needed Here

The LA Times is one of four (online) newspapers moiself  subscribes to, and I’ve been watching (as in, reading about) the following scandal unfold for…yikes, is it weeks, now?  The machinations of local/Los Angeles politics may be way off most people’s current events radar; however, even those with no interest in such, even those with their heads under the proverbial rock when it comes to west coast politics, by now have likely heard of the LA City Council recording scandal.

The scandal in a nutshell:   [4]   An anonymously leaked recording of a private conversation among LA City Council members and a labor leader making racist and classist remarks and political scheming regarding redistricting has prompted a state investigation, and led to the resignation of the LA City Council president and said labor leader.

“Behind closed doors, Los Angeles City Council President Nury Martinez made openly racist remarks, derided some of her council colleagues and spoke in unusually crass terms about how the city should be carved up politically….
Martinez and the other Latino leaders present during the taped conversation were seemingly unaware they were being recorded as Martinez said a councilmember handled his young Black son as though he were an “accessory” and described the boy as “Parece changuito,” or “like a monkey.”…
Martinez also mocked Oaxacans, and said “F— that guy … He’s with the Blacks” while speaking about Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. George Gascón.

( “Racist remarks in leaked audio of L.A. council members spark outrage, disgust,”
LA Times 10-9-22)

 

 

 

 

Moiself  listened to excerpts of the recorded audio tape…as much as I could stand, before switching to reading the key moments of the transcripts.    [5]    In private conversations among three council members and an LA Labor leader – all Latino and all Democrats –  Councilmembers Nury Martinez, Kevin De León and Gil Cedillo scheme with LA county labor dude Ron Herrera re redistricting plans; Martinez disparages Oaxacans as “little short dark people” and “so ugly” and refers to a (white, gay) councilmember’s Black son as a monkey who, in her opinion, needs a “beatdown.” Re LA County Dist. Atty. George Gascón, Martinez said, “Fuck that guy. … He’s with the Blacks.”  None of the others present and participating in the conversation disputed or called out Martinezon her remarks –  which also included crass and bigoted comments about Jews, Armenians, and other groups….

I felt a little bit left out at some point.  Martinez insulted just about everyone but middle aged white ex-Californians who moved to Oregon.

When reading about the scandal, I was reminded so much about what I think is a fact being overlooked here.  Nury Martinez was caught acting out one of our collective human traits on steroids:  she was revealing her tribalism.

 

Picture from 4-2-12 Newsweek article by biologist E.O. Wilson,
Why Humans, Like Ants, Need a Tribe.

 

We home sapiens are a tribal species. It’s too bad that the whole concept of race has entered human consciousness, as we are not different “races,” whatever that means. We are not racial – that term is a misnomer invented by European naturalists and anthropologists in the early 18th century.    [6]

“More than 100 years ago, American sociologist W.E.B. Du Bois was concerned that race was being used as a biological explanation for what he understood to be social and cultural differences between different populations of people. He spoke out against the idea of ‘white’ and ‘black’ as discrete groups, claiming that these distinctions ignored the scope of human diversity.
Science would favor Du Bois. Today, the mainstream belief among scientists is that race is a social construct without biological meaning.”
(   Race Is a Social Construct, Scientists Argue,”  Scientific American 2-5-16)

“(The tape’s) comments about Black and Indigenous people displayed a prejudice against darker skin that, while not ubiquitous, still runs deep in the community and is rooted in the colonial eras of Mexico and Central America.
‘This is not just four bad apples,’ said Alejandra Valles, chief of staff of SEIU United Service Workers West.
‘We have to use this opportunity as reflection and honesty about the anti-Blackness, the anti-Indigenous colorism and racism in the Latino community. Because that’s happening.’ ”
(“ L.A. Latinos grapple with familiar colorism against Black and Indigenous people in racist tape,” Rachel Uranga, Los Angeles Times, 10-17-22)

Interesting, to me, that comment about the bad apples. Because that’s it – that’s the dang the thing about “race.” We are all from the same apple tree, and yet we pick at each other.

 

“You want bad apples? I’ll show you bad apples.”

 

Race.  It’s an unfortunate entry in our Lexicon of Life. We are not racial, but we are definitely tribal at our core…maybe I’m just quibbling re semantics.  However we define “we,” we spend our lives scrambling like roaches across the floors of an old San Francisco apartment kitchen, trying to make sure we get (what we perceive to be) our share but wanting to hide our maneuverings when the light comes on.

We have obsessive concerns, so majorly illuminated in the LA Council tapes, of alliances between our various tribes and the tribes within the tribes – woe to anyone naive enough to think that, for example, all White or Latino or Black politicians are a monolithic bloc.  Read the transcripts; listen to the tape and hear the concern over alliances, over who is from where.  Listen as the entrenched Mexican-American politician spews (and thus reveals) the colorism of her ancestral roots as she derides the “short ugly” Oaxacans (who are so irritating as to also want political power    [7] ) and that DA who, although he has a Hispanic surname, “Fuck him, he’s with the Blacks.”

Who is in power; who wants power; who can we trust to share the power?  Who is one of us; who could be one of us, but “us” doesn’t really want “them” included.

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of This Needs Repeating

The cosmic perspective flows from fundamental knowledge. But it’s more than just what you know. It’s also about having the wisdom and insight to apply that knowledge to assessing our place in the universe. And its attributes are clear:

* The cosmic perspective comes from the frontiers of science, yet it’s not solely the province of the scientist. The cosmic perspective belongs to everyone.

* The cosmic perspective is humble.

* The cosmic perspective is spiritual—even redemptive—but not religious.

* The cosmic perspective enables us to grasp, in the same thought, the large and the small.

* The cosmic perspective opens our minds to extraordinary ideas but does not leave them so open that our brains spill out, making us susceptible to believing anything we’re told.

* The cosmic perspective opens our eyes to the universe, not as a benevolent cradle designed to nurture life but as a cold, lonely, hazardous place.

* The cosmic perspective shows Earth to be a mote, but a precious mote and, for the moment, the only home we have.

* The cosmic perspective finds beauty in the images of planets, moons, stars, and nebulae but also celebrates the laws of physics that shape them.

* The cosmic perspective enables us to see beyond our circumstances, allowing us to transcend the primal search for food, shelter, and sex.

* The cosmic perspective reminds us that in space, where there is no air, a flag will not wave—an indication that perhaps flag waving and space exploration do not mix.

* The cosmic perspective not only embraces our genetic kinship with all life on Earth but also values our chemical kinship with any yet-to-be discovered life in the universe, as well as our atomic kinship with the universe itself.

(“The Cosmic Perspective” By Neil deGrasse Tyson
Natural History Magazine, April 2007, The 100th essay in the “Universe” series.)

 

 

*   *   *

  Department Of Regarding Next Week’s Elections,
This, Unfortunately, Says It All   [8]

“Liz Cheney and I are not brave. We are just surrounded by cowards.”
Rep. Adam Kinzinger ( R ) Illinois

*   *   *

Punz For The Day
Political Tribes Edition

I don’t approve of political jokes; I’ve seen too many of them get elected.

Republicans should build their border walls with Hillary’s emails
because nobody can get over them.

I knew Communism was doomed from the beginning – too many red flags.

What’s the difference between Rep. Marjorie Taylor Green and a flying pig?
The letter F.

What do you call a Russian procrastinator?
Putinoff.

 

I’ll laugh about this later.

 

*   *   *

May a cosmic perspective help you to rebalance your portfolios of concerns in the world;
May you be cognizant of your own tribalisms;
May you value your atomic kinship with the universe itself;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

[1]  Did not do in 2020.  Hmm, I wonder what was happening then?

[2] Not the “fun” size featured in most stores, as Halloween staples. For kids, since when does fun = smaller?

[3] From…ourselves?

[4] An appropriate container…if nuts were the size of 747s.

[5] As of this writing I think investigators still have no idea who did the recording, and who “released” it.

[6] Marked by the publication of the book Systema naturae in 1735, in which the Swedish naturalist Carl Linnaeus proposed a classification of humankind into four distinct races. (“Race and History: Comments from an Epistemological Point of View” National Library of Medicine, )

[7] Indigenous Oaxacans expressed frustration and anger at Martinez’s comments referring to them as “little short dark people” — a racist stereotype often used to demean Indigenous communities. “I was like, I don’t know where these people are from, I don’t know what village they came [from], how they got here,” Martinez said, before adding “Tan feos” — “They’re ugly.”  (“For Oaxacans in L.A., City Council members’ racist remarks cut deep,” LA Times, 10-11-22)

[8] And I hope, after next week’s election results, we won’t still be saying it.

The Color Coordinated Outfit I’m Not Wearing

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Dateline: Monday ~ 7:45 am.  I am on my elliptical exercise machine, which is in our family room, across from the kitchen.  I hear MH walking downstairs.  As he approaches the kitchen he pauses, gives moiself  a long look, and says…nothing.

“I know, I know,” I say.  His expression tells me he is wondering about my shirt-pants combo. “My other (yoga/workout) pants are in the laundry,” I explain.

 

 

 

“That looks like something a kid would wear.” MH laughs.

“A kid like *me,* you mean,” I say.  “Remember that picture?”

He says he does.

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, MH and moiself  were visiting The Folks® in Santa Ana, looking through an old photo album with my mother.  When I came across that picture, moiself  burst out laughing.  My mother reminded me that that combination of clothing items – corduroy leopard print cutoffs and a blue/green Hawaiian midriff shirt – comprised my favorite “outfit” that spring and summer.  Not that I dressed in outfits (I knew the difference, as I had friends whose parents bought their children – read: their daughters – outfits.).  It was just that those two items of clothing – both hand-me-downs from older neighborhood children – were my favorite shorts and top, respectively.  Therefore, in my 10-year-old mind, they were a perfect match.

“You wore them constantly,” my mother told me.  She said she’d sneak into my room at night while I was sleeping, get the shorts and top from the end of my bed and put them in the laundry basket, only to discover the next morning that I’d gone through the basket and was wearing them again. I told her how much I admired her for letting me go outside like that, knowing what the neighbors must think (“She lets her kid dress like that?  Every day?!?!”).

The black and white photo doesn’t do it justice; use your colorful imagination.

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Generalizations

Sitting across from me at the breakfast table, MH asked if I’d read about “the soccer game.”

“The one in Indonesia? Where people, uh, died?” Moiself  was unsure re the details.

MH scrolled to a news site on his phone and read a summary aloud:

“A stampede at a soccer stadium in Indonesia has killed 125 people and injured more than 320 after police used tear gas to quell a pitch invasion….
Officers fired tear gas in an attempt to disperse agitated supporters of the losing home side who had invaded the pitch after the final whistle in Malang…
‘…They started attacking officers, they damaged cars,’ (the police chief) said, adding that the crush occurred when fans fled for an exit gate.”

(“Indonesia soccer stampede kills 125 after police use tear gas in stadium.”
reuters.com 10-2-22 )

Although generally disdainful of gender stereotypes, I felt compelled to comment on the baffling-to-moiself  phenomenon of crazed sports dudes rushing the pitch, or rushing anything, for any reason.

“Women don’t do that,” I grumbled.

“If they had testosterone shots, they might,” MH noted.

 

Won’t vote for female politicians because he says women get too emotional.

 

*   *   *

*   *   *

Department Of Apropos Of…Something

I was listening to a blog, the name of which escapes me now, where in one of the subjects being discussed was apologies and holding grudges. It got me to thinking about the conventional teaching re that particular, delicate, interpersonal relations territory.

We have all heard of, or have been on the receiving (or giving) end of what has been termed the insincere or “false” apology, which is some variant of:

“I’m sorry you feel that way.”

I’ve little quarrel with the conventional apology-psychology which has decided that I’m sorry you feel that way  is not a sincere apology, but instead is a way of *not* expressing contrition, of *not* taking responsibility.

Notice I didn’t say, *no* quarrel, but little quarrel. The little is this:  I think there may be more to it than that.

In some cases, sincere-apology territory is clear cut: let’s say I step on your foot, either intentionally or as a (poor) joke or because I’m a klutz.  You yell, “YEOUGH, you stepped on my foot! That hurt!” My saying, “I’m sorry you feel that way” would indeed be an inappropriate, callous (and clueless) non-apology.

In defense of the other cases of the “non”- apology [1] :  Sometimes, under some circumstances, I’m sorry you feel that way is the only sincere and/or accurate expression Person1 can offer to Person2 if Person2 feels injured or slighted or by Person1.

As in: If Person2 feels poorly (sad, angry, resentful, and/or slighted) because of something they think Person1 said or did, Person1 may indeed be sorry to learn that Person2 is feeling poorly.  But, if Person1 disagrees with Person2’s interpretation of whatever happened (or even in some cases if the incident even happened in the first place), what can Person1 say that would be sincere, and which would truly satisfy Person2?

 

 

One of the most memorable times I have been in the position of having to deliver what might be interpreted as a non- or insincere apology was during a phone call I received from (someone I considered to be) a friend, who was also a fellow member of the church MH and I attended.  This was over 16 years ago; moiself  (and soon after, MH and our offspring  [2]  )  had recently “come out” as religion-free and had stopped attending the church.  This person, whom I’ll call “FJ,” called to tell me how hurt he was by my decision to leave the church.

Three sentences into the conversation, it became obvious that FJ felt *he* had been wronged by me.  I disagreed, even as I felt sincerely sad for FJ.  I was sad that he took my decision/action so personally (in his words, it was a “personal affront” to him); I felt sorry for him, even as I felt in no way responsible for his feelings, which, IMO, were his alone to hopefully/eventually experience and analyze.

FJ was hurting; it seemed to moiself, from what he was saying to me, he was determined to take it personally – to take *what* personally?  It’s not like I went to church during a worship service, stood up after the opening hymn and declared that I was leaving the church because of FJ.  Nothing about FJ, either personally or representationally, had led to my decision. So, what was he taking personally – that I’d decided to live the truth about my life and beliefs?

 

 

 

 

It was one of the oddest phone calls I’ve ever received. I kept rephrasing/repeating to FJ what he was telling me, to make sure I was hearing him correctly (I was).  As bizarre as it seemed to me, he made it plain:  If I left the church, he was going to take it as a personal affront.  When it became obvious that FJ expected me to apologize to him, all I could honestly say was, “FJ, I’m sorry you feel that way.”.

I could not say what he wanted (or thought he needed) me to say – “I’m sorry for leaving the church [3]/rejecting religion” – because I wasn’t.   [4]

Then I elaborated, along these lines:   [5]

“I’m sorry that you feel that way; however, you do not have my ‘permission’ to feel that way.  If you decide to take my feelings, *my* beliefs, as a personal affront to your feelings and beliefs, then that is on you – that is your decision.  I did not make my decision based on what I thought would “hurt” (or please) *you*, or any other member of the congregation, but rather on what was the right thing to do, for me.”

 

 

Another observation re the so-called non-apology: our contemporary counseling culture advises us that when we are having an argument or expressing our feelings to another person, we shouldn’t say, “You make me angry/sad when you ____ (do or say this anger/sadness-causing thing).”  Rather, we are supposed to say, “I feel angry/sad when you _____.”  In other words, by reframing, rephrasing what we say, we express our anger/sadness while also taking responsibility for our reactions and feelings, and not blame the other person for them. Now, isn’t that, in some, way, interwoven with the non-apology?

Interpersonal relationships; apologies, sincere and otherwise…. Complex territories, fraught with emotional landmines. I need to think about this for a while.

And if you disagree with my ruminations, well, I’m sorry you feel that way.

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Things We Keep To Ourselves   [6]

Sub-Department Of, Who Says I Don’t Have A Filter?

Dateline Saturday night/early Sunday morning:  MH has been battling a rhinovirus for the past few days (surprise! COVID is not the only player left in the world of virology   [7] ).

 

So, monkeys get credit for the pox: I get the common cold virus…not that anyone asked.

 

He’s been sleeping with his head elevated, but that night the congestion got to him…and to me, even through my earplugs (translation: loud snoring).  Moiself  tries the usual tricks of loudly adjusting my pillows and rearranging/tugging the sheets, which sometimes get him to change position without fully waking him up.   [8]

Finally, I jostle his shoulder and speak to him, gently but firmly.

“Roll over.”

What he says: (in very clear voice, as if he’s just sprung into full-awakeness, even though one second before he sounded as if he were clearcutting an endangered forest):

“Why – was I making noise?”

 

 

 What I think (and want to say):
“WTF? Seriously –  ‘Am I making noise?’
What are the circumstances where in the past, in the middle of the night, I have asked   [9]   you to roll over?  Why would there be any other reason to ask you to roll over?  Because I heard the cat barf and it’s your turn to clean it up?  How would you rolling over clean up the cat barf?  Because I heard someone trying to break in the house, or I heard the toilet running, or the sounds of the TV left on downstairs, or family photos falling from the fireplace mantle and hitting the floor? My getting you to roll over would accomplish nothing in those situations.

‘Am I making noise?’ Oh, no, of course not –  I just woke myself up out of a sound sleep and decided that, for aesthetic purposes and/or achieving universal peace and harmony, I wanted you to roll over.”

What I actually say:
“Yes.”

 

 

*   *   *

Punz For The Day
Losing My Religion Edition

Q: How many atheists does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Two. One to actually change the bulb, and the other to videotape the job so fundamentalists won’t claim that their god did it.

What do you call a ruling on Islamic law made by an overweight imam?
A fatwa.

What is the Dalai Lama’s favorite margarine advertising slogan?
“I can’t believe it’s not Buddha.”

Why don’t churches have free wifi?
They don’t want to compete with an invisible power that actually works.

 

 

*   *   *

May you give yourself permission to dress like a kid;
May you never, under any circumstances, rush onto the pitch;
May you roll over when so requested;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

[1] Which I have been on the receiving end of, when a blatantly sincere apology was called for, so I’m not taking this lightly.

[2] Who were quite delighted that they didn’t “have” to go to church anymore.  Even though they had friends there whom they liked, they didn’t accept Christian theology or any religion’s theology) and wondered, in their words, “Why do we (our family) go to church when it’s obvious you don’t believe in any of that?”

[3] Or “rejecting the church/religion/god”…and all the many other ways my decision has been categorized by religious family and friends – ways which are, of course, their terms, and not mine.

[4] Sorry?  I was fucking elated.

[5] My recollection is not verbatim, but it’s the gist of what I conveyed.

[6] Until, of course, “we” blog about them.

[7] And he did do a COVID test, just in case.

[8] Awfully considerate of me, don’t you think, to be concerned for the sleep state of one who has already woken up moiself.

[9] Demand, in some cases, when moiself  be desperate for sleep.

The Mirror Universe I’m Not Occupying

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Department Of Aging Well

As soon as you’re within sniffing distance of The Medicare Age ®, look out.  I thought all the television and mail (smail- and e-) solicitations were over-the-top, but lately moiself   has been running across ads for podcasts about that subject-most-subjected-to-stereotyping:  aging.

“In this podcast, reporter ___ ___ explores the challenges of aging.”

“Aging is inevitable.  We can fight it (despite knowing we can never win) or we can learn how to embrace it.”

“(podcast series name) is about why and how to live a long healthy, fit, energetic and vital life and never be OLD at any age. ____ will offer you mind, body, spiritual proven (sic) tips and strategies that (sic) guarantee will help you resolve most health challenges and age fearlessly and never be old.”   [1]

 

 

 

I get the impression that many of these programs and podcasts are going to perpetuate the stereotypes they purport to address.  Never be OLD [gasp!] at any age gee, no pejoratives about aging there.

The problem is not with aging; it’s with ageism.  Yeah, I’ve brought this up before; yeah, as we get older we might tend to repeat ourselves.  But this is something that bears repeating, until we all get it.

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Apropos Of Nothing,
I Recently Remembered The Most Apropos Tribute Ever.

It was a billboard erected by Star Trek fans, upon hearing of the death (2-27-15) of actor, poet, director, author and photographer, Leonard Nimoy.

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Sometimes (Translation; Many, Many, Times)
Moiself  Thinks About These Things

Dateline: Tuesday morning 7:45 am-ish.  [2]   I’m walking in a neighborhood near Shadywood Park in Hillsboro. A person is approaching me; she is also, moiself  deduces, taking a morning constitutional.   [3]

As we get within eye-contact-making-distance (approximately 15 feet away from each other) we each, almost simultaneously, say to the other, “Morning.”  Not, “Good morning,” or even its truncated version, “G’morning.”

And not for the first time in my life moiself  thinks about that.  I think about why, as a form of greeting-a-stranger-in-passing, we each say a word which could be taken, in another culture or by an alien anthropologist, as a statement of fact.

Morning.  Well, yes, as per the time of day, it is morning. Why don’t we exchange some other factual/descriptive word(s)? The walker approaching me could’ve said Sidewalk (she was walking on the sidewalk) and I could’ve said Asphalt (I was walking in the street). Or, I could have said, Trekking poles (which I was using) and she could’ve responded with, New Balance Nergize Sport (or the name of whatever shoes she was wearing).

Perhaps if Star Trek was/is correct and there are mirror or parallel universes, even as I type this there is a parallel moiself, a behavioral scientist studying this question of upmost importance to…well, to me.

Or, perhaps mirror moiself  has a real job.

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Why People   [4]   Don’t Like Christians

In the past few months Florida governor Ron DeSantis has used several bastardizations of a certain bible passage to rally his like-minded cretin stormtroopers motivate his conservative base.  DeSantis referenced the apostle Paul’s “Armor of God” passage in the New Testament’s letter to the Ephesians while speaking to, respectively, the national student summit for Turning Point USA; the Faith & Freedom Coalition’s Road to Majority conference, and another rally in February:

“You gotta be ready for battle. So put on the full armor of God, take a stand against the left’s schemes, stand firm with the belt of truth buckled around your waist. You will face fire from flaming arrows, but the shield of faith will protect you.”

“It ain’t going to be easy. You got to be strong. You got to put on the full armor of God. You got to take a stand, take a stand against the left’s schemes, you got to stand your ground, you got to be firm, you will face flaming arrows, but take up the shield of faith and fight on.”

“We need people all over the country to be willing to put on that full armor of God to stand firm against the left.”

 

 

Here is the actual passage:

“A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:10–12, NLT)

DeSantis – surprise! – conveniently stops his misquotes before verse 12, which inconveniently (for DeSantis and other right wing Christian politicians) states that Paul is not talking about politicians or citizens, or earthly opponents of any kind, but spiritual ones.  Surprise again, DeSantis replaces taking a stand against “the devil” with taking a stand against “the left,” leaving no doubt for his listeners:

Y’all paying attention, kids:  The Left/Democrats = Satan.

 

 

At least one Christian blogger noticed and took issue:

“Politicians quoting the Bible in an effort to garner votes or appeal to the religious beliefs of their supporters is nothing new; politicians quoting a verse completely out of context is equally common….
A politician blatantly changing the wording of the Bible is something else entirely, especially when it’s done to gain the support of the very people who should be outraged by it. Christians of all stripes (liberal, conservative, moderate) and all denominations (Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant) may disagree on the interpretation of the Bible, but few if any would go so far as to change the actual words to fit their worldview.”

(“Ron DeSantis Changes a Well-Known Bible Verse to Fit His Own Agenda,”
medium.com 8-3-22 )

 

 

 

Moiself  disagrees with the blogger’s last statement (in the above excerpt). Experience and observation have taught me that the opposite is true.  It’s not few if any – it’s most if not all religious believers have no problem fiddling with “the actual words” (of their scriptures, of anyone else’s scriptures, of anything) to fit their worldview.

The above-quoted blogger went on to wonder/despair at the lack of concern – or even recognition – other Christians have shown re DeSantis’ hyperbolic scriptural contortions.  Moiself’s concern is how those who identify as Christians will handle the most recent “un-Christian,”  [5]   headline-grabbing stunt pulled by DeSantis (who’s a proclaimed Christian).

“A couple of weeks back, The Economist published a long cover story on ‘The Disunited States of America,’ detailing how, on issues such as abortion, guns, voting rights, and immigration, America’s red and blue states are engaged in a “new politics of confrontation.” As if on cue, Ron DeSantis, the Florida governor who often seems as if he is campaigning to succeed Donald Trump as the nation’s Provoker-in-Chief, staged his latest political stunt: using Florida taxpayers’ money to charter two planes to fly about fifty undocumented migrants, mostly Venezuelan, to Martha’s Vineyard. DeSantis was not even relocating the group from his own state—the flights originated in Texas.”
( DeSantis’s Heartless Migrant Stunt Provides a Preview of 2024,
newyorker.com, 9-17-22 )

I felt no pressing need to condemn DeSantis’s cruel, political stunt…even though (and of course) moiself  eventually did, when I found that someone else had edited, DeSantis-style, the very scriptural passage I’d been thinking of:

 

My comment to this FB repost:  “All these Christians ignoring one of the few unambiguous statements in their scriptures…all of those mega churches in Texas apparently open their pocketbooks (and hearts) only for themselves and their rapacious ‘pastors.’ ”

Yes, The Immigration/Undocumented Migrant Issue ® is a problem that is intractable and almost/ultimately seems unsolvable.  But, however you purport to solve this problem – any problem – you don’t do it by exploiting the vulnerable. Tell me, Ron-DeS-boy, whom would your Jesus manipulate?

DeSantis’ hard-hearted action condemns itself. Here’s a thing which keeps coming back to moiself.

Decades ago, before designated dog parks were a thing, I remember reading a newspaper article about a town’s escalating disagreement between neighborhoods:   Some of the townsfolk living in one neighborhood discovered a nearby neighborhood which contained two adjacent, un fenced, empty lots owned by the city.  Neighborhood #1 folks were advocating for those lots to be designated as a dog-walking/play area. Many people living in the neighborhood by the empty lots were opposed to that idea: they feared that such a designation would attract dog owners from outside the neighborhood, which would exacerbate the dog feces problem they already had (not-so-long ago, when taking their dogs for a walk, most dog owners let their pooches poop with impunity without picking up after them).  As the debate heated up, some of the “anti-dog-yard” people gathered up bags of dog feces and deposited them on the front porches of the “pro-dog-yard“ people.

That is literally the first thing I thought of when I read about DeSantis’s vile act:

he’s treating vulnerable human beings like bags of dog shit.

With all the migrants have been through, having their dignity dissed is perhaps the least of their worries at the moment.  However, I’m sure the humiliation will come back to haunt them.  The Humiliation of being treated like bags of dog shit – like something people would be aghast to find on their front porch.

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of A Sure-Fire Mood Uplifter After Reading The Nasty News
Made By Ron DeSantis And Other Nasty People

The following made my day…week…month…  Say what you will about social media (and moiself  does), but without it, I might have missed seeing this.

 

 

 

Ballerinas can fart, too!

This is going to be my new mantra.  It is applicable to sooooo many situations, including those involving the kinds of discrimination and injustices which can only be mitigated by the realization of our shared humanity:  remember; we are all human.  Ultimately, we are all ballerinas, and yes, ballerinas can    [6]  fart.

 

*   *   *

Punz For The Day
MGE   [7]

I started reading a book about anti-gravity. It’s impossible to put down.

I dream of taking a sailing adventure in an ocean of orange soda.
It’s just my Fanta sea.

Wife to husband: “Honey, it sounds like elk are falling from the sky!”
Husband to wife: “No, it’s just reindeer.”

Doctor to patient:  “The tests confirm that you drank a bottle of food coloring,
but you’re going to be fine.”
 Patient: “But doc, I feel like I’m dyeing inside.”

Biologists made a lab frog immortal by removing its vocal cords.
Now it can’t croak.

I was going to make my husband a belt of watches…
but then I realized it would be a waist of time.     [8]

 

*   *   *

May you fight ageism and not aging;
May you be remembered, vis-à-vis the Vulcan saying, Live Long and Prosper,
as someone who did;
May you remember that ballerinas can fart, too;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

[1] And never having to worry about being able to construct coherent sentences.

[2] Not amish.

[3] Which sounds so much more posh than “going for a walk”  — it sounds downright British, in fact.  My tribute to Queen Elizabeth.

[4] As in people who are not Christians, whether they claim a different religious affiliation or are religion-free.

[5] The words of others, not moiself.

[6] And evidently do.

[7] Miscellaneous Groaners Edition.

[8] No, this does not require a footnote.

The Slip I’m Not Adjusting

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Department Of It Didn’t Happen

Dateline: yesterday, September 1.  For as long as I have lived in Oregon,    [1]  something has happened on September 1.  Whether or not I’ve been aware of the date, on the first day of September when I go out for a morning walk (or just to pick up the newspaper, back when we subscribed to four “dead tree” news sources), the air is…different.  Not only the temperature, but the air *feel,* and the smell.

After the first eight or so years of this happening, I’d think to moiself, Oh yeah – today must be September 1.

On September 1 we still have three weeks left of (technical) summer. But, even if the next day we go back to August air temps and “feels;” and even if this going-back continues for another two days or two weeks…something about September 1 is a gateway to autumn.

But not yesterday.

Yesterday morning felt like the previous morning, and the morning before that:  a warmer than usual August day.  Is this a September 1 an outlier?  Or another global warming harbinger?  [2]

I was 30 minutes into my walk before my phone buzzed and I looked at it, saw the date, and realized it was September 1…and something was missing.

 

l

Autumn on Sweet Creek Trail, Oregon Coast Range  [3]

*   *   *

Department Of Random Acts Of Oddness

Dateline: last Friday afternoon; a local grocery store.  I’m slowly pushing my mini-cart down an aisle.  I stop for about thirty seconds, no doubt sporting the Scanning The Shelves For The Item I Cannot Find,® blank look on my face.  Then I hear a voice:

“The slip – it just keeps slipping up.”

I turn to look behind me and to the right, from whence the voice, and behold the woman who just uttered those nonsensical profound words, apparently, to moiself  (there is no other human in this particular aisle).  Her left arm is resting on one of the store’s standard-sized grocery carts, which is about 25% filled with various items.  She flashes me an ample, somewhat sheepish smile as she points to her hips and tugs at…something below her waistband, with her right hand.

“My slip; it just keeps slipping up.
It’s supposed to be down, but it keeps coming…up.”

Slip Woman is clad in a white blouse, a navy-blue shirt, some clog-like shoes, and her wavy brown-going-gray-hair is pulled back in a ponytail.  Although she looks a little frazzled,   [4]  she doesn’t have that street person vibe about her.  Nor do I recognize in her the kind of eyes that stare at you but don’t really see you – eyes that stare *through* you, as in, when a Certain Kind Of Person approaches you (and by you I mean, moiself ) and starts in with the non-sequiturs…which has happened to me quite often in my time on this planet, particularly in my after-college years, when I was automobile-less and rode public transit.

 

 

It happened to me so often that I once asked a friend, as I was preparing to take a bus to a job interview, to check the back of my jacket to make sure there wasn’t a neon sign affixed there which flashed some version of the following message:

“Are you angry? Lonely? Irrationally exuberant? Confused? Tired?
Frustrated with politics or sex or irresponsible chihuahua owners?

You *really* should tell this woman all about it, RIGHT NOW.”

At one point I thought that, unbeknownst to me, moiself  must have ridden a bus wherein Weird Al Yankovic was a passenger, and as Weird Al observed what happened to me he was thus inspired to write Another One Rides The Bus – his parody of the Queen song, Another One Bites The Dust.

 

 

Once again, I digress.

 

 

Okay: Slip Woman keeps tugging at the waistband of her skirt and repeats her line about how troublesome it is that her slip won’t stay…wherever it is supposed to stay.  Since I deem her *not* to be a Crazy Person Who Talks To Strangers ®, I think that perhaps her slip was indeed riding up and she was trying to fix it as she turned her cart into this aisle of the grocery store, where she saw me and suddenly became self-conscious about adjusting her undergarments in a public place…  As in, she is assuming – incorrectly – that I’d noticed her doing so…and now she has to explain herself so that I don’t think she’s just randomly tugging at her hindquarters.

 

 

Still, no matter what “sense” is behind her statement, it strikes me as an odd thing to say to a stranger.  So, I decide to not be a stranger, for a moment.  I make what I hope is a knowing, reassuring, Ahhhhh noise, followed with a comment about how “these things” always happen in public places, don’t they?

And I smile and push my cart up the aisle, on to another part of the store…when what I really want to say to her is,  “You’re wearing a slip…really?  Why?”

As I walked to my car in the store’s parking lot, I couldn’t stop thinking about it.  Who wears slips anymore, anyway?  Is that still a thing?  [5]

 

 

I can’t remember the last time I wore a slip; I can only remember the last time I *didn’t* wear a slip…and someone thought I should have.

 

 

 

Thank you for asking.

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away,    [6]  moiself  was attending the wedding of my older sister’s eldest daughter.  The wedding was held in a chapel in the Irvine hills, on a brilliantly sunny, So Cal afternoon.  After the ceremony, as I was standing by the pew where I’d been seated and had begun chatting with a family member, a Well-Meaning Church Lady Friend ® of my sister’s sidled up to me.  WMCLF® leaned her mouth close to my ear and, with a deadly serious sotto voce,– as if she were warning me that I should not panic but please be advised that a tsunami is headed this way and we’ve all five minutes to live – earnestly informed me that, standing as I was (with my back to the blinding sun which streamed in through the chapel’s floor-to-ceiling glass walls),

“…you can see your legs through your skirt!”

 

 

 

 

I’m not sure which of the following three things disappointed WMCLF® the most:    [7]

(1) My somewhat laconic reply (“Uh…yeah…I do have legs underneath my skirt.”);

(2) My somewhat not-hiding-the-fact-that-I-didn’t-consider-her-telling-me-that-to-be-the-equivalent-of-sharing-our-nation’s-nuclear-launch-codes, lack of enthusiasm as to the importance of her observation, which she thought was so urgent to share;  [8]   

(3) There was no third thing, somewhat or otherwise;

(4) No fourth thing either.  However, if WMCLF® had known the least bit about me, she would have realized what a big deal it was for me to actually be wearing a skirt.

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department of Causes To Fight For

How can moiself  be so petty as to devote almost an entire blog to stories about a superficial piece of a  women’s undergarment, when there are so many pressing social, political, and cultural issues to be addressed?  Such as, my beef with the NY Times word game, Spelling Bee.

Along with Wordle and Quordle and a couple other NY Times games, Spelling Bee is a game I enjoy playing in the early morning.  Spelling Bee  is a word game “…that challenges players to construct as many (minimum 4 letters) words as they can using pre-selected letters. Each word must include the center letter provided in the puzzle.”  The game’s creator uses a “curated list” of words, as I discovered over a year ago when, although among that day’s SB‘s seven letters were C A L R, I constructed “caracal,” only to be told that that the name for that magnificent African wildcat was not acceptable.

 

 

What word nerd of a hairball doesn’t think I’m acceptable?

 

 

I was so cheesed off about it that I wrote to the editor/curator, who replied with the lame excuse  reasonable explanation about curating a list so as to reach a wide audience.  I’ve noticed that many words I try to use in SB which have a biological or scientific meaning are rejected with SB’s “not in word list” message,  [9]    which makes me think that the editor/curator has rather low expectations re his target audience’s educational and curiosity levels.

Apparently I’m not the only person who takes issue with the curated list policy. Under the Spelling Bee site’s FAQ is this exchange, between a player and the game’s curator:

(SB player):
Occasionally I spell a legitimate word, but the Bee rejects it.
What deems a word unacceptable?

(Sam Ezersky, journalist and NYT Puzzles Editor):
Two dictionaries I use are the built-in Apple dictionary, which is based on New Oxford American, and Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary. I like using Google’s News tab, so if there is a technical word, I’ll see if it’s being used in articles without much explanation.
Ultimately, the decisions can seem arbitrary because every solver has a different background and vocabulary….
I can understand the frustration, but my mission is not to be a dictionary. I want to do my best to reflect the Bee’s broad audience and the language we speak.

 

 

 

 

What kind of broad audience doesn’t know – or would benefit from knowing – about the magnificent caracal?

And earlier this week, I reached my next-to-last straw with SB:  included in the seven letters were U T R and D, so naturally one of the words I entered was turd, only to receive SB’s negating response, “not in word list.”

Oh, come on.  What kind of humorless turd will not allow that word on his list?  Thus, my blog’s coveted, rarely bestowed   [10]   Golden Turd Award ® goes to you, Mr. Ezersky.

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

Punz For The Day
Dressing Up Edition

I was about to go to a fancy party dressed as a can of anti-perspirant.
My husband stopped me and said, “Are you Sure?”

So, I reconsidered and put on this real slinky dress…
I looked great going down the stairs.

Which music star is known for her rapid onstage wardrobe changes?
Tailor Swift.

Not all fashion designers are conservative,
but I think
most of them are clothes-minded.

What do you call a nudist who will angrily don clothing when it’s required?
A cross-dresser.

My friend arrived at my Halloween costume party dressed like a bank vault.
”Wait,” I said, “I thought you were coming dressed as an apology?”
She said: ‘Well, I thought I’d better be safe than sorry.”

 

 

“Six bad puns – you really found it necessary to torture us with six?”

 

*   *   *

May your acceptable word lists always include “turd’
(with or without the modifier, “festering”);
May you, sans shame or explanation, freely (and discreetly) adjust any undergarment
of yours that needs adjusting;
May we all have such untroubled lives that stories like those I have shared here are the worst of our worries;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

*   *   *

[1] Some 32 plus years.

[2] Ha!  Harbinger, as in “omen or indication”?  Too late for that.

[3] Photo credit: Hasegawa Takashi via Flickr, The Fall Foliage At These 10 Places in Oregon Is Incredible.

[4] But then, what did I look like to her, I wonder, in my needs-laundering yoga pants and wrinkled t-shirt?

[5] Asks the woman perennially clad in a tie-dyed t-shirt and off-white capris.

[6] Or maybe 18 years ago.

[7] And from the look on her face, she was disappointed.

[8]  In other words, I didn’t give a flying fuck that anyone could or would be able to see my legs through my skirt.  Now, had I just exited the bathroom with my blouse tucked into my underpants or with toilet paper trailing from my shoe, then by all means, sidle up and whisper to me.

[9] As well as other words that might have more than one meaning, with one of the meanings being a derogatory slang word, such as coon.

[10] I think it’s been several *years* since moiself  has seen fit to give out this dubious honor.

The Thumb I’m Not Under

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Department Of Classic Sexist Songs

What, you ask, must a song do to make it into this Department’s Hall of Shame?

Thank you for your interest.

There are many, many components which go into having a song be thus maligned labeled.  These components can be distilled into two broad (sorry) categories.  To be a true classic Sexist Song ® the song’s vocalist(s) – be they male or female – must sing lyrics which:

– lecture a particular woman re her unworthiness without a man, and/or

– advise women in general about how to be a worthy female companion to a man;

– if female, the singer must bemoan her single state while embracing dependence on a man, without whose attention she will (literally or figuratively) die…

♫  “…he is my destiny…” ♫
( sings Little Peggy March, in I Will Follow Him…lyrics written by four men)

 

 

 

What follows is just a taste of those rock and pop tracks standing the test of time (read: old enough) to be considered classics.  Of course, other music genres, particularly rap and hardcore, have plenty of contributions to this wretched category.    [1]    But for brevity’s sake moiself  limited this sampling to songs of the 1950s through 1970s (with one early 1980s contribution, from The Police. Also, many of the songs have been covered by multiple recording artists; I’ve listed just one).

                                                         Recording artist(s)               songwriter(s)

* A Man Needs a Maid                    Neil Young                            Neil Young

* Every Breath You Take  [2]           The Police                            Sting

* For the Love of Him                      Shirley Bassey                      Henry Jerome /B. Martin

* Under My Thumb                         The Rolling Stones              Jagger & Richards

*He Hit Me (and it felt like a kiss)  The Crystals                         Carole King /Gerry Goffin 

 

Uh, yeah,  The above song deserves a special mention.

 

 

 

In Carole King and Gerry Goffin’s fruitful songwriting partnership, Goffin wrote the lyrics and King the music.  Yep, the sentiments expressed in the hit  (“You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” were penned by a natural man. Not until she stepped out as a solo act did Carole King become a lyricist.

King, who herself suffered domestic abuse at the hands of her third husband, later expressed regret her involvement with penning the dreadful He Hit Me (and it felt like a kiss), whose masochistic lyrics had a root in reality.   Eva Boyd, aka the singer “Little Eva,” worked for Goffin and King (who were married to each other at the time) as their babysitter before she had a hit with their song,  The Loco-motion.  Boyd showed up at Goffin’s and King’s home one night, covered in bruises after a weekend visit with her boyfriend.  When Goffin and King began to question her, Eva tried to reassure them that she was okay, explaining that “He” (her boyfriend) “…really loves me.”

“Half a century later, King has an uneasy relationship with the title. ‘I wrote the music to He Hit Me (and It Felt Like A Kiss). Obviously, I’m complicit in having written that song. I kind of wish I hadn’t written any part of that song, but Gerry wrote that lyric. … again, that’s one song I kind of wish I hadn’t had any part of writing.’ “

(Carole King Kind of Wishes She Had Nothing to Do With This Disturbing Song, cheatsheet.com/entertainment )

 

 

Actually, more of the same.  The list continues.

* If You Want To be Happy  [3]       Jimmy Soul                         Guida /Guida /Royster

* It Must Be Him                            Vikki Carr                            Becaud/David/Vidalin 

* I Will Follow Him                        Little Peggy March              four songwriters, all male

* Run For Your Life                        The Beatles                          Lennon/McCartney

* Wives and Lovers                         Jack Jones                          Burt Bacharach, Hal David
                                       

 

 

 

Special shout out to the songs of Gary Puckett and the Union Gap, whom I mentioned in previous blog 3 years ago:

“One advantage of occasionally listening to an oldies station is occasionally having reminders of how much I loathed the songs of
Gary Puckett And The Union Gap.

In the songs GP & TUG which were most known for – “Young Girl,” “Lady Willpower,” and “Woman, Woman” –  lead singer GP expresses a recurrent and overriding concern: girls and women should have sex with him.

Back to the list:  if you check the songwriting credits to these and other festering turds of lyrical misogyny, you’ll note that the vast majority were penned by men.

 

 

 

 

Moving right along….  The unofficial winner of the coveted title of

Song With The Most Degrading ,Sexist, Condescending and Infantilizing Lyrics …

 

 

 

Yep, it’s Wives and Lovers!

♫  Hey! Little girl
Comb your hair, fix your makeup
Soon he will open the door
Don’t think because there’s a ring on your finger
You needn’t try anymore

For wives should always be lovers too
Run to his arms the moment he comes home to you
I’m warning you…

Day after day
There are girls at the office
And men will always be men
Don’t send him off with your hair still in curlers
You may not see him again

For wives should always be lovers too
Run to his arms the moment he comes home to you
He’s almost here…

Hey! Little girl
Better wear something pretty
Something you’d wear to go to the city and
Dim all the lights, pour the wine, start the music
Time to get ready for love…  ♫

 

 

Moiself  can’t put it any better than this, re Jack Jones’ cover of the song :

“This has everything a person could hope for in a sexist ‘60s song.  Ordering women around? check.  Emphasizing that a woman’s place is in the home?  Check.  Reiterating that it’s only natural for men to sleep around?  Check.  Offering demeaning advice to do everything you can to please your man and warning that he’ll leave you if you don’t?  Check.  Veiled threats of violence?  Checkmate.

It’s like Burt Bacharach and Hal Davis distilled sexism in its purest form and smeared it all over Jack Jones’ smiling, white teeth.  And speaking of Jack Jones — his condescending, smarmy, yet totally earnest and chipper delivery is half of what makes Wives and Lovers stand above all the other sexist songs – like a man standing above a woman after he slapped her for not having dinner on the table when he came home from a hard day at the office.  And his dulcet tones – it’s no wonder this song won him a Grammy for best vocal performance…”

( excerpts from from flush fido productions blog, “Sexistiest songs of the ‘60s, #1” )

 

*   *   *

 

Punz For The Day
Women in Song Edition

Why do balloons hate going to Lady Gaga concerts?
They’re scared of pop music.

How many altos does it take to change a lightbulb?
None; they can’t get up that high.

What did the crowd yell to the opera singer who said she couldn’t sing because her mouth was full of garbanzo beans?
“Just hummus a tune!”

What’s the difference between an argument with seamen and a popular female musician?
One’s a sailors’ tiff, the other’s a Taylor Swift.

 

We…are never ever ever…hearing these again, right?

 

*   *   *

May you have enough time on your hands to listen to the songs listed here, to find out (if you don’t already know) why they are listed here;
May you have fun compiling your own wretched song lyrics lists;
May you placate Ms. Swift by listening to some of her songs
(which IMHO mostly have most excellent lyrics…unless you’re an ex of hers);

…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

*   *   *

 

[1] e.g. almost anything by Eminem.

[2] Thanks a lot, Sting.  Do stalkers really need an anthem?

[3] Inspiring lyrics include, ♫ “If you want to be happy for the rest of your life/Never make a pretty woman your wife/So for my personal point of view/Get an ugly girl to marry you…An ugly woman cooks meals on time/She’ll always give you peace of mind…” ♫

The Clinic Protocol I’m Not Following

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I had my second Covid booster vaccination yesterday, at the same clinic where I had my first booster.  My first two Covid vax (over a year ago, at the height of the campaign to get everyone vaxed) were given at a local school gym, in a group setting run by that same clinic.  After you’d had your shot, you sat along with others (all masked and seated at least 6 feet apart) who’d been vaccinated, with a post-it sticker on your shirt noting your time of vax. You waited until the Person Watching You ® let you know that your 15m was up and you could leave.  As y’all probably know, it is standard vax practice to wait at a vaccination site for 15m after receiving a vax to make sure you do not have a severe allergic reaction to the shot (which is very rare).   [1]

My first COVID booster shot was administered to me at the clinic itself, in an exam room, by a nurse practitioner. After the NP gave me my shot he said I should stay in the exam room and he’d be back in 15 minutes to release me.  I got in some e-book reading time…but after I left the clinic I thought, even though I’d never had an immediate/allergic reaction to any kind of vaccination, there could always be a first time, and what if moiself   passed out (or worse, began to have an anaphylactic reaction) and I were alone in the exam room?  I decided that this time, if the clinic did the same logistics, I would speak up about that.  They did, and so did I.

A quite genial nurse nurse gave me booster #2. She told me that although she “didn’t carry a pair of handcuffs” to enforce the protocol she highly recommended I stay put for 15 minutes, in case of a reaction.  I told her that during my previous booster, the NP told me I had to stay in the exam room. And the hijinks this exchange ensued:

Moiself:
How’s about if I return to the waiting area, where there are other people and the receptionists?
The point of waiting 15 minutes after having the vaccination is to make sure that I don’t have an immediate or allergic reaction to it, right?

Nurse:
Yes. Like I said about the handcuffs, I can’t force you to stay, but we highly recommend it.  You can stay in the room if you like.

Moiself:
Yes, I could…but then, how would you know if I’ve had a reaction, if I’m left alone in the exam room?  Are the rooms wired – will the sound of my body hitting the floor let the staff know I’ve had a bad reaction?

Nurse:
It’s a small clinic.  We’d *probably* hear the thump.

Moiself opted for the waiting area.

 

Just don’t thump too loudly; it’s my turn to calibrate the rectal thermometers and I need to concentrate.

 

*   *   *

Department Of Yet Another Lie My Teachers Told Me

This particular lie, like most lies I was taught, was not conveyed on purpose. My teachers were lied to as well…perhaps, misinformed would be the more accurate term.  Think back to your elementary, junior high, high school, and even a few college classes. Very few of our teachers were doing original or first source document research; they taught what they themselves had been taught.

 

Yeah, well, that’s what they told me me, so suck it up.

 

The specific lie to which moiself  refers is the idea that a so-called agricultural revolution brought about a better society – that the transition from hunter-gatherers to farmers and ranchers brought nothing but positives, and was responsible for what we now call Civilization ® .

“The agricultural revolution is the name given to a number of cultural transformations that initially allowed humans to change from a hunting and gathering subsistence to one of agriculture and animal domestications.”
( The Agricultural Revolutions, sciencedirect.com  )

In a recent People I (Mostly) Admire podcast, “Yuval Noah Harari Thinks Life Is Meaningless and Amazing,” guest Harari   [2] and podcast host Steve Levitt discuss some of the ideas and observations Harari addresses in his latest book, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind.   [3] One of the ideas that struck me the most was that the agricultural revolution was ultimately better for germs than it was for people.  Moiself  has read other versions of this hypothesis, but Harari presented the most entertainingly succinct one I’ve come across (my emphases).  The entire interview is thoughtful and thought-provoking; moiself  hopes this excerpt piques your interest.

LEVITT (quoting from Harari’s book, Sapiens):
“ ‘The agricultural revolution was history’s biggest fraud.’
My hunch is that listeners, when they hear that sentence, they’d probably find it jarring because we’re taught to celebrate the agricultural revolution, not to think of it as being a fraud.”

HARARI:
“But if you look at it from the viewpoint of middle-class people in the West today, then agriculture is wonderful. We have all these apples and bread and pasta and steaks and eggs and whatever. And if you look at it from the viewpoint of an ancient Egyptian pharaoh or a Chinese emperor, wonderful. I have this huge palace and all these servants and whatever. But if you look at it from the viewpoint of the ordinary peasant in ancient Egypt or ancient China, their life was actually much worse than the life of the average hunter-gatherer before the agricultural revolution.

First of all, they had to work much harder. Our body and our mind evolved for millions of years to do things like climbing trees to pick fruits and going in the forest to sniff around for mushrooms and hunting rabbits and whatever. And suddenly you find yourself working in the field all day, just digging irrigation ditch, hour after hour, day after day, or taking out weeds or whatever, it’s much more difficult to the body. We see it in the skeletons, all the problems and ailments that these ancient farmers suffered from.  It’s also far more boring.

And then the farmers didn’t get a better diet in return. Pharaoh or the Chinese emperor, they got the reward. The ordinary peasant, they actually ate a far worse diet than hunter-gatherers. It was a much more limited diet. Hunter-gatherers, they ate dozens, hundreds of different species of fruits and vegetables and nuts and animals and fish and whatever. Most ancient farmers, if you live in Egypt, you eat wheat and wheat. If you live in China, you eat rice and rice.”

 

 

LEVITT:
“If you’re lucky. If the crop doesn’t fail, yeah.”

HARARI:
“If you’re lucky. If you have enough. And then, because this is monoculture, most fields are just rice. If suddenly there is a drought, there is a flood, there is a new plant disease, you have famine.

Farmers were actually more in danger of famine than hunter-gatherers because they relied on a much more narrow economic base. If you’re a hunter-gatherer, and there is a disease that kills all the rabbits, it’s not such a big deal. You can fish more. You can gather more nuts. But if you’re a herder, and your goat herd has been decimated by some plague, that’s the end of you and your family.

… in addition to that, you have many more diseases. In the days of Covid, it’s good to remember the fact that most infectious diseases started with the agricultural revolution because they came from domesticated animals, and they spread in large, permanent settlements. As a hunter-gatherer, you wander around the land with 50 people or so. You don’t have cows and chickens that live with you. So your chances of getting a virus from some wild chicken is much smaller. And even if you get it, you can infect only a few other people, and you move around all the time. So hygienic conditions are ideal.

Now, if you live in an ancient village or town, you’re in very close proximity to a lot of animals, so you get more diseases. And if you get a virus, you infect the whole town and the neighboring towns and villages through the trade networks, and you all live together in this permanent settlement with your sewage, with your garbage. People in the agricultural revolution, they tried to create paradise for humans. They actually created paradise for germs.”

Swine flu stew tonight! Invite the neighbors!

 

*   *   *

Department Of Celebrity Mythos

Moiself  recently watched the first two episodes of The Last Movie Stars, an HBO six part documentary which, as per its website description, aims to chronicle

“…Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward’s iconic careers and decades-long partnership. Director Ethan Hawke brings life and color to this definitive history of their dedication to their art, philanthropy, and each other.”

Newman’s and Woodward’s 50-year marriage is generally regarded as one of the most successful and truly happy show biz unions, and Newman was known for his devotion to his wife and family.  Over the years many reporters asked Newman about the temptations of show business for a handsome actor such as himself (read: Why do you remain faithful/stay with your wife when you’re surrounded by all the babes, in Hollywood and in fandom, who’d love to throw themselves at you?).  On one such occasion, when Newman was queried about his reputation for fidelity to Woodward, Newman famously quipped, “Why go out for a hamburger when you have steak at home?”

I’d heard this quote many times before the HBO documentary brought it up, but this time, watching The Last Movie Stars, I couldn’t help but think about how Newman‘s “devotion to his wife and family” – meaning Woodward and their three children – happened after he dumped his first wife Jackie Witte (and their three children), to marry Woodward, with whom Newman had been having an adulterous affair.

Apparently Newman also couldn’t help but think of that irony.  He reportedly agonized for years re the guilt he felt over ‘his shortcomings as a parent’ to the children from his failed first marriage, and he blamed that guilt in part for the drug overdose death of his son, Scott.    [4] 

I’ve only watched the first two of six episodes of the HBO series, and thus don’t know how much the series deals with Newman’s first marriage.  Hey, I’m glad Newman and Woodward had a happy alliance, despite their relationship’s less-than-honorable origins.  But whenever I hear that legendary quote from Newman – the quote so admired and applauded by many people as an exemplar of witty romanticism – I wonder what Jackie Witte felt when she first heard it?

“Why go out for a hamburger when you have steak at home?”

I can imagine it felt like a sledgehammer in the gut.  So, Witte was the (original)  hamburger Newman left in order to be with the steak?

BTW, re the hamburger-steak comparison:  as a plant-based eater, I find no hierarchy in that metaphor.  They’re both just dead meat to me.

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

*   *   *

Department Of Thar She Blows

Two weekends ago MH and I, along with son K, visited daughter Belle in Tacoma.  Belle had arranged for the four of us to go on a whale-watching trip in the Puget Sound.  It was delightful afternoon, and not just because we spent the afternoon on a boat in the Sound during a heat wave.  Even the veteran crew of the boat got excited when we spotted and the transient orca pod T37, which approached our boat and (unintentionally) put on quite the show for us.   [5]    We got to observe hunting and feeding behavior of the majestic orcas, as the pod chased and caught a very unfortunate harbor seal who’d ventured too far from shore.  I heard another boat passenger make some comment about how fortunate we were to get to see “killer whales making a kill,” and I wanted to smack him upside his head with the pectoral fins I don’t have.

 

 

Moiself  objects to the use of the term killer whale when it is applied to orcas.  First of all, orcas are not actually whales; rather, they are the largest member of the dolphin family.  They, like Flipper and other dolphins, are carnivores.  Other animal’s names are not tied to such a pejorative suffix – lions and tigers and bears and weasels and eagles are not referred to as “Killer” lions/tigers/bears/weasels/eagles, despite the fact that, as carnivores, they must kill and eat other animals to survive.

“Paul Spong, a researcher who runs OrcaLab from Hanson Island in B.C., says he finds the name killer whale ‘rather unfair to a creature that deserves and lives a peaceful lifestyle.
Killer whales has that flavour that they’re somehow vicious animals that are a danger to humans,” he said. ‘I just happen to think that using a more neutral term is better.’.
Despite what the 1977 sea-monster film Orca: The Killer Whale might show, there have been no documented cases of orcas killing humans in the wild….
and they are highly social creatures that show almost human-like emotions, such as when southern resident J35 carried its dead calf for 17 days before finally letting go.

( “Why are orcas called killer whales?  They’re the apex predators of the sea, but many feel their long-used common name demonizes them.”  cba.ca )

Yeah, yeah, it’s word cop time.  Of course and ultimately, work for the orcas’ preservation and protection before arguing what nomenclature to use….  Still, words carry and impart meaning, and perhaps more people might be convinced to care about orcas and their vital role in their habitat – and their right to continue to exist – if the fear/revulsion-inducing *killer whale* moniker fell out of favor.

 

 

Once again, I digress.

We saw other wildlife as well on our whale– orca-watching trip, including harbor and elephant seals, herons and tufted puffins and bald eagles, on the shores of Protection Island Wildlife Refuge.  As our boat passed that island, I saw for the first time something I could only vaguely recall having heard about: a leucistic bald eagle.    [6]   “Lucy,” as I thought of her, had a very light, mottled pigmentation which made her blend in with the driftwood log upon which she’d perched, next to the standard issue bald eagle I was watching through binoculars.  Moiself  didn’t even notice Lucy until a part of the log suddenly took wing.  The boat photographer and staff and several avid birders aboard realized what they were seeing, and lost their proverbial shit.    [7]

 

 

 

 

One of the boat staff, the official photographer, was armed with a bazooka like camera-lens set up.  He took fantastic pictures of the whales, which he presented to the passengers in a slide show while our boat returned to port.  His shots had included dozens of rapid-fire close-ups of the orcas hunting the doomed seal – oh, the eyes of the hapless pinniped, when it realized it was toast!  That was painful to see, even as I acknowledged, hey, the seal is out in the water, hunting because it’s hungry, and so are the orcas.

The photographer  offered to transfer his photos of the trip to a thumb drive, for $50 for anyone who was interested.  Seeing as how the professional’s pix were so much better than our family’s cell phone snaps, MH asked me if he should go for it.  I gave him the okay, although, when MH was chatting with the photographer as the thumb drive was downloading the trip’s pictures, I approached the photographer, thanked him for his skill and commentary during the trip    [8]   and said that while I was in awe of his photographs, when reviewing them later I would probably skip watching the “seal snuff film” sequence.

I cannot display the photographer’s copyrighted photos here.  [9]   Belle had several shots which good – they are like teasers as to the beauty of seeing the orcas in their natural environment.   Here is one of my favorites of hers– featuring the T37 pod’s leader, the matriarch researchers have named “Volker.”

 

 

The day after our boat cruise, I went for an early morning walk.  Moiself  could hardly believe the timing of the Radiolab podcast I listened to as I trod the path which winds along the periphery of that salty-air scented Puget Sound estuary/harbor area in Tacoma known as Commencement Bay.

Despite its annoyingly sensationalist title, Radiolab’s “The humpback and the killer” was an excellent listen.  It reports on the fascinating observations made by marine mammal biologists around the world – scientists who, in recent years, have documented astounding, classic-explanation-defying interactions between humpback whales and orcas. If after listening to descriptions of these interactions you (still) harbor doubts that species other than homo sapiens can feel and demonstrate emotions and motivations such as altruism, or even revenge…then I don’t know what to do with you.

 

 

*   *   *

Punz For The Day
Cetacean Edition

What do a pod of dolphins use to wash themselves?|
A multi-porpoise cleaner.

What is the favorite constellation of star-gazing whales?
The Big Flipper.

What is the best way to listen to the sounds a group of orcas makes?
Tune in to their podcast.

Why do male humpbacks have little-to-no hair?
They suffer from whale-pattern balding.

 

“It’s okay, honey, she told me she’d stop after four.”

 

*   *   *

May you warily weigh the costs and benefits of history’s so-called revolutions;
May you banish the term “killer whale” from your vocabulary;
May you respect your longtime partner enough to never compare them to cuts of beef;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

[1] And for 30m, if you’ve ever had a reaction to a vaccination.

[2] Yuval Noah Harari is an Israeli historian, philosopher, author, lecturer, and professor in the Department of History at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

[3] How’s that for a modest title?

[4] “ ‘I’m guilty as hell – and I’ll carry it with me for ever.’ Paul Newman’s marriage secrets”: Shawn Levy, dailymail.com ; Newman felt personally responsible for (his troubled son’s) tragic drink and drugs death… The son Paul Newman lost to drugs – and the guilt he could never escape,” Shawn Levy, part 2 )

[5] Unintentional, as in, the orcas were just doing what they were doing, and we happened by.

[6] Leucism, a condition that partially prevents pigments from being deposited in a bird’s feathers, hair or skin, is rare, and is the result of a recessive gene which reduces the color-producing pigment melanin. It is related to but different from albinism

[7] I can see why these “blonde” bald eagle can confuse even veteran bird watchers, as they (usually) still have the bald eagle’s defined white head and tail, but the rest of the feathers are a much lighter hue than normal and are mottled, creating a “What the heck am I seeing? reaction – is it a bald eagle or some other strange species?

[8] He gave a running commentary of the history of the T37 pod we saw.  One look through his lens and he could identify the different members of the pod by, among other features, the distinctive markings of their dorsal fins.

[9] He offered them for our own personal/home viewing, not to post on any social media platforms.

The Eyebrows I’m Not Combing

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Department Of Why I Love Dicks

“Following the Supreme Court’s ruling that has overturned Roe v. Wade, Pittsburgh-based Dick’s Sporting Goods’ CEO has announced that the company will provide travel expense reimbursement for employees seeking abortion access.
Company President and CEO Lauren Hobart posted the announcement…
‘We recognize people feel passionately about this topic – and that there are teammates and athletes who will not agree with this decision. However, we also recognize that decisions involving health and families are deeply personal and made with thoughtful consideration. We are making this decision so our teammates can access the same health care options, regardless of where they live, and choose what is best for them,’ Hobart said.”
(“Dick’s Sporting Goods CEO announces travel expense reimbursement to employees seeking abortions in another state,” cbsnews.com )

 

And they love equal access to health care as well.

 

*   *   *

Department Of Good Intentions That Still Make Me Slightly Queasy

Regarding Dick’s Sporting Goods, Apple, and other companies are offering to reimburse employees for travel expenses related to abortion care access.  Moiself  has mixed feelings about this.   [1]  I am 90%  YEE HAW!!!  I mean, it’s the right-on thing to do.  But, that means the woman is going to have to request/arrange this with her company’s HR/benefits department, which means even more people in her personal business, which should be just between her and her doctors and (if she so chooses) her partner.     [2]

On the other hand, when it comes to healthcare at work, if you need time off for treatment for, say, cancer or the onset of what will turn out to be a chronic disease, there isn’t much privacy in that regard, either.…

 

 

BTW, these doing-the-right-thing companies (as of this date) are:

Starbucks, Tesla, Yelp, Airbnb, Microsoft, Netflix, Patagonia, DoorDash, JPMorgan Chase, Levi Strauss, PayPal, Amazon,
the Walt Disney Company, Meta, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Condé Nast.
( “These Companies Will Cover Travel Expenses for Employee Abortions,” NYtimes.com )

There are others; my apologies to any companies moiself  has omitted.  Give these businesses a shout-out and/or support their products and services,  [3]  and let them know why you are doing so.

 

*   *   *

*   *   *

 

Department Of Incredibly Dumb, Face Palm-Worthy Things I Have Done

I have rather unruly eyebrows, and their ruly-ness seems to be getting more “un” as moiself  ages. I’m not talking Andy Rooney level unruly, but, yeah.

 

 

Before leaving the house I sometimes wipe moiself’s  damp toothbrush bristles across each eyebrow. Here is something that has happened more than once – a thing which should only have happened once:  I have set my toothbrush out with a dab of toothpaste on it, intending to brush my teeth, got distracted, come back to the sink minutes (or hours) later, and used said toothbrush to comb my eyebrows, thus ending up with a tiny white streak of Sensodyne ProEnamel ® on my eyebrows.

On the plus side, I’ve never had an eyebrow cavity.  So, there’s that.   [4]

 

 

OK, your turn? Help me out here.  Certainly…please…there must be someone out there who has done something even dumber than toothpasting their brows.

*   *   *

Department Of Embarrassing My Offspring
Chapter 581 In The Never-Ending Series.

This memory came to me on a recent morning walk, apropos of…something, which moiself is currently unaware of.

Dateline:  A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.  Daughter Belle is attending the University of Puget Sound, and has recently joined her school’s women’s rugby team.

 

 

( One of my favorite things about rugby culture – yep, that’s a thing – is
the annual Prom Dress game, for both men’s and women’s teams. )

 

MH and I are attending one of her rugby team’s away games; home team is a college about an hour’s drive south of where we live.

During halftime Belle grabs one of the team’s rugby balls, takes her parents aside, and teaches us some of the throwing warm-ups that the team does. Several of her teammates are clustered together by the side of the field, swigging from their water bottles and chatting.  One of them looks over at Belle and MH and I throwing the ball to each other, and I can see the proverbial light bulb switch on in her eyes.

Belle’s Rugby Teammate, calling out to MH and moiself:
“You are Belle’s parents?”

Moiself:
“Yep.”

BRT, standing up and flinging her arms wide:
“Oh, I *love* Belle!  Thank you for making her!”

Moiself, as I pass the ball to Belle:
“You’re welcome.  It was our pleasure…literally.”

Belle, dropping the ball and covering her eyes with her hands:
“Moooooooooooom!”

 

*   *   *

Punz For The Day
Annoying and/or Embarrassing Parents Edition   [5]

When I was a kid, my parents said, “Excuse my French” after they cussed.
I’ll never forget that first day at junior high school, when we were discussing foreign language electives and the teacher asked if any student knew any French words…

My parents raised me as an only child.
This really annoyed my younger sister.

Do unfit parents have to exercise a lot to get their children back?

I told my parents I’m gray.
Dad said he didn’t like my tone.

How do parents lose their kids in the mall?
Seriously, any tips are welcome.

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

May you support companies who support abortion rights;
May you have done something even dumber than toothpasting your brows;
May you continue to find novel and loving ways to embarrass your progeny;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

[1] And not just due to the hideous fact that five SCOTUS justices can drag us back to the back alleys so that such announcements are necessary.

[2] Except in cases of unintended pregnancies resulting rape, incest, abuse etc. I know hearing the word “partner” is a bitter pill to swallow, for women in those circumstances.

[3] (if you deem them worthy).

[4] And so, there’s this – another footnote apropos of nothing.

[5] Why are there so few footnotes in this post?

The Liberty Loss I’m Not Accepting

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Department Of It’s Still Complicated

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” These words, penned by Thomas Jefferson more than 240 years ago, continue to inspire many Americans.
And yet these very same words — affirming the equality and dignity of all — were written by a man who owned hundreds of slaves, and fathered six children by an enslaved woman, Sally Hemings.
For historian Annette Gordon-Reed, the contradictions embedded in Jefferson’s life are ‘a window into us, into who we are as Americans.’
‘The fascinating thing about Jefferson is that he, in some ways, embodies the country,” she says. “A lot of Jefferson’s contradictions are alive in us.’ “

 

 

This is the intro to the Hidden Brain podcast A Founding Contradiction: Thomas Jefferson’s Stance On Slavery, wherein host Shankar Vidantam interviews Annette Gordon-Reed, a Harvard University historian and law professor.  Gordon-Reed’s latest book is Most Blessed Of The Patriarchs: Thomas Jefferson And The Empire Of The Imagination.  As moiself  listened to the podcast, I was struck by how so much of what the historian was saying about enslaved people and their relationships with their enslavers also applied to “free” (white) women.

Historians have long speculated about the relationship between Jefferson and Sally Hemmings, citing letters and documents and writings from Jefferson’s friends and critics which indicate that he was fond of and most likely in love with Hemmings.  Hemmings left  [1]  no such records; her true feelings remain a mystery…but then, how can you have a true relationship in a family, as we understand it today, with family members who are not free to enter (and exit) the relationship?

The experiences of women in the abolitionist movement were a large part of what inspired the first wave of feminism and led to the Seneca Falls convention, when women activists realized that, despite all their in-the-trenches work in abolitionist groups, when it came to legal and political power they, like the enslaved people they worked to liberate, were in similar circumstances:  women, of any skin color, also lacked ultimate power over their own destiny .

“When abolitionists Sarah and Angelina Grimke faced efforts to silence them because they were women, they saw parallels between their own situation and that of the slaves.”
(from “Women’s Rights, Abolitionism, and Reform in Antebellum and Gilded Age America,”
Faye E. Dudden, American History )

“ (___women activists) began speaking publicly for anti-slavery organizations before mixed crowds of men and women, even though they were mocked and threatened for doing something considered so unladylike. Thousands more women wrote articles for abolitionist newspapers, signed anti-slavery petitions, and circulated anti-slavery literature. Still, women who joined the cause of abolition found that traditional assumptions and attitudes about women often limited the scope of their participation and leadership in the movement. When the American Anti-Slavery Society was founded by William Lloyd Garrison in 1833, women were not allowed to be delegates.

….female abolitionists faced discrimination not only from slavery supporters but also from within their own movement. This highlighted to them the injustice of women’s inferior legal and social standing. When women were not allowed to speak or be seated at the World Anti-Slavery Convention in London in 1840, Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who had both travelled to attend the convention, began discussing what needed to be done for women’s rights.”

( “Abolition: The catalyst For The Women’s Rights Movement
Utahwomenshistory.org  )

 

 

I listened to the podcast, wondering if Gordon-Reed would address that.  She did.

GORDON-REED:

“… But if you look at the kinds of male-female relationships they would have known at that time, a wife, a white wife, would have been under the control of her husband, too. She could not refuse consent to sex any more than an enslaved woman could. He could not sell his wife, but that would be about the only thing that he couldn’t do. So we look at this – and there’s this sharp difference between male-female relationships. And we see the difference between – obviously a white woman has more power than an enslaved woman. But those people – Sally Hemings would not have thought that as a woman she would have freedom to do whatever she wanted. So it’s complicated.”

*   *   *

Department Of Getting Personal:
When Your Business Which Should Be Only Your Business Becomes The Business Of People You Don’t Even Know And Wouldn’t Care To Meet

Speaking of Jefferson, why is it that the legacy of the failings of dead-for-over-200-years men continue to harass women?

It is not always wise or fair to judge the people of the past by the standards of today; still, it’s not as if the abolition and women’s rights movements were non-existent when our government was being crafted.  Our Founding Fathers ®, as visionary and radical as they were for their time re representational government vs monarchy, dropped the ball when they ignored the moral stench of slavery and preserved its institution, and snubbed women’s requests for equal rights.  I always thought that’s why the so-called “Liberty” Bell was cracked.

 

 

“I long to hear that you have declared an independency. And, by the way, in the new code of laws which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make, I desire you would remember the ladies and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the husbands. Remember, all men would be tyrants if they could. If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation.”

(excerpts, my emphases, from the letter Abgail Adams wrote to her husband,
Founding Father and second US President, John Adams )

 

 

But rational adults in the 21st century cannot hide behind history to justify why five people – five people out of 330 million   [2]  – have the power to drag their fellow citizens back to the dark ages of religious oppression and paternalism, by using the excuse that they adhere to a retro judicial philosophy of “originalism” via interpreting the U.S. Constitution.

Some longtime readers of this blog may have been somewhat surprised by my lack of constant commentary re the recent SCOTUS decision overturning Roe v. Wade.  Some of that “lack” was due to moiself  being out of the country and with a self-imposed news block for almost seven weeks, returning a few hours after the decision was as announced.  Watching this debacle, moiself  was at once enraged and stupefied-into-an-almost-zombie-like-disengagement by what was happening.  [3]

What kind of nation had I returned to?

 

 

Moiself  has previously written about having worked (a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away) in the field of women’s reproductive health care.  I worked five years in a private OB-GYN practice, bookended by a total of ~ three years in Planned Parenthood clinics – one in So Cal and three in the Bay Area.  My job for the latter clinics included working in their abortion clinics, stories from which I noted in more detail in this post.

I know those who are anti-abortion don’t want to hear or read this,    [4]   but I lost track of the amount of times moiself  heard from one of the people those clinics served – from a sheepish teenager to a mortified, grown-ass woman to the only-mildly-apologetic-mother-who-used-to-protest-outside-the-clinic-and-who-now-is-in-our-waiting-room-requesting-our-services-for-her-teenaged-daughter –

“You know, before ____ (the particulars of their situation)
happened to me/my family,
I might have been one of those protestors outside your clinic.”

I continue to metaphorically watch The Ongoing Situation ® while holding my open-fingered hands over my eyes, confident – hopeful? – in the knowledge that, as bleak as it may seem, we can never fully return to the past.   [5]   Progressive states (I am so fortunate to be living in one of them – yay, Oregon!) – will keep women’s rights to health care enshrined in their state laws; there will be networks of women (and men) who will help others not so fortunate…

 

 

After the recent SCOTUS ruling, an older female friend told me how dumbfounded she was.  She’d fought so hard in the 60s and 70s for women’s rights, after having been one of those desperate, frightened women who had an abortion in the kitchen of an apartment somewhere before abortions were legal.   I couldn’t help but wonder what would have happened to me, if abortion would have been illegal when I needed one.  I know I would have found someone, somewhere, some way….

I have been pregnant four times.  Three of those were intentional, and with MH: the pregnancy which produced our son K; a spontaneous abortion (the layperson’s term is miscarriage); the pregnancy which gave us our daughter Belle.

This – my reproductive status and history –  is should be no one’s business but my own (and MH and my doctors, should I choose to share that information).  And certainly, no one who lacks a uterus gets to weigh in on what happens in mine.

 

 

For women who are anti-abortion: I may not approve of your choices re when you get pregnant, who will father your children, and how many children you have, but I am glad you get to make your reproductive decisions sans my or our government’s interference (the interference you receive from your husband, family, church – I can’t help you there).

As for men who are anti-abortion:  are you fucking kidding me?

Just. Shut. Up. Go. Away. And. Keep. It. In. Your. Pants.  [6]

 

 

I’ll make it simple for y’all.

Robyn’s Righteous and Rational Rules Of Reproduction
* If you’re a woman who is opposed to abortion, don’t have one.
* If you’re a man who is opposed to abortion, don’t be the cause of one.

 

 

 

I suppose I’m outing myself, in a way, in this space. Yet, to repeat a point that apparently needs to be sledgehammered into some skulls, “outing” certain info about moiself  has nothing to do with shame and everything to do with *privacy* –  my own, primarily, and to a lesser degree, that of the man who caused my first, unintentional/unwanted pregnancy (remarkable person that I am, possessed with wondrous powers beyond mere mortal imagination, I nevertheless did not knock up moiself ).

Let us pause for a moment and consider a certain…inadequacy, when it comes to the issue of how we talk about abortion. When we ask about statistics or share stories, it’s always along the lines of How many women have had abortions/Do you know a woman who’s had an abortion?

These questions let a key participant in the equation wriggle out the backdoor, and ignore or skirt a basic Fact of Nature ®:

Ejaculations cause pregnancies.

 

Who, me?

 

Why is it never framed this way:

How many men have been the cause of an abortion?
Do you know any man who has caused an unintended/unwanted pregnancy?

Let’s all make a vow to change, or at least expand, the focus.  The next time you hear or read the “how many women…” question, be sure to ask “how many men…”

 

 

For anyone reading this blog who is anti-abortion and  [7]  calls themself “pro-life,” and who might claim *not* to fully understand   [8]   the reasons why any woman might want to end her pregnancy…sigh.  Google it.  The cretins in the TexASS state legislature promise you a bounty for sticking your nose in someone else’s hoo-haw?  That doesn’t change the humane fact that unless it’s your pregnancy it’s ultimately none of your business.

To borrow a variation of the only thing I’ve been seeing that makes sense and that does not strike a defensive posture: Do you call yourself pro-life, and interpret that label into wanting to criminalize abortion?  Hear ye this:  I, too, am pro-life.

I am pro-Indira, who had an abortion for reasons that are none of your business.
I am pro-Shelby, who had an abortion for reasons that are none of your business.
I am pro-Natasha, who had an abortion for reasons that are none of your business.
I am pro-Rosalia, who had an abortion for reasons that are none of your business.
I am pro-Li Chen, who had an abortion for reasons that are none of your business.
I am pro-Imani, who had an abortion for reasons that are none of your business.
I am pro-Sakura, who had an abortion for reasons that are none of your business.
I am pro-Zahra, who had an abortion for reasons that are none of your business.
I am pro-my Aunt Erva, who had an abortion  [9]
for reasons that are none of your business.
I am pro-my own life: I had an abortion for reasons that are none of your business.

 

 

So.  A dimwitted busybody curious person may wonder, If it’s personal/no one else’s business, why am I making it yours by writing about it here? Moiself  does this for reasons that are not so original and yet are none the less pertinent. 

“In 1972—when abortion was illegal throughout most of the country—53 well-known U.S. women courageously declared ‘We Have Had Abortions’ in the pages of the preview issue of Ms. magazine.
‘To many American women and men it seems absurd, that in this allegedly enlightened age, that we should still be arguing for a simple principle: that a woman has the right to sovereignty over her own body,’ they declared.
Gloria Steinem, Billie Jean King, Susan Sontag, Nora Ephron, Dorothy Pitman Hughes and Judy Collins were among the signers. The women spoke out ‘to save lives and to spare other women the pain of socially imposed guilt’ and ‘to repeal archaic and inhuman laws.’ They invited all women to sign in order to ‘help eliminate the stigma’ of abortion.
“ ‘We Have Had Abortions’ Petition Relaunches 50 Years Later—With Support From Original Signatories.”
Msmagazine.com 1-20-22)

It can be easy to ignore or discount issues that are critical for other people, if you think the issue doesn’t affect you or anyone you know.  If you (mistakenly) think that you don’t know anyone who’s gay/atheist/has had an abortion, then LGBTQ rights/religious discrimination/reproductive freedom may be an abstraction to you.  You can allow yourself to be on the fence about the issue – or even on the compassionate side of the fence but not really involved – if you think it doesn’t affect you or anyone that you know.

I’m not sure about my mother’s stance on abortion, but I know she went to her grave not knowing about her older sister‘s harrowing experience. My parents were as loving and considerate as could be to all of my different friends, and they knew of (and even occasionally discussed with me) my political opinions.  However and sadly, judging from the publications and mailers I espied on their coffee table during my infrequent visits to their house, it is likely that they could have fallen prey to fear-mongering politics of The Billy Graham Association and other conservative religious organizations.

During one of my visits, California had an “anti-homosexual” proposition on the ballot (I can’t remember which propostion, nor exactly when– there were several, over the years), and I saw a GAY TEACHERS ARE AFTER YOUR KIDS-type flyer on their kitchen table.

 

 

I asked them if they took such hyperbole seriously.  One of them (can’t remember if it was Mom or Dad) said they realized it was over-the-top, then said, “Actually, we don’t know anyone who is gay.”

“No,” I said, “Actually, you *do* know gay people.  You just don’t know that they are gay because you don’t know them well enough to be privy to their personal lives, or they have chosen not to reveal this to you…” – I indicated the flyer atop the mail pile – “…because of crap like that.”  (My mother later reassured me that that the flyer had just come in the mail, and that they hadn’t “requested it“).

I proceeded to give them the names of friends and teachers of mine, whom they’d met and liked, who were gay.  They seemed genuinely surprised“Mr. Haffner is gay?  He was one of your and your sister’s favorite teachers….” (Still is, Dad.)  “That nice friend of yours from college – he’s so sweet and smart and funny, he was a premed student, I think – he’s gay?” (Yes, Mom.  He’s still the nice young man – nice doctor, now – who  impressed you.  You simply know something about him that you didn’t know before).

Did it make a difference in how they thought, or voted? No idea.

Select family members and friends already know (at least the bare bones details) of my own abortion story.  Moiself  be mentioning it here in the hopes that it might help yet another woman to know she is not alone in her experience.  [10]   Am I pissing in the wind delusional to think it might, just possibly, cause a moment of reflection for someone who supports the SCOTUS decision?   [11]  

 

 

The so-called pro-lifers – please, let’s label them honestly: they are anti-abortion, anti-women’s bodily autonomy.

They. Just. Don’t. Care. About. Your. Life.  Or mine.

 

*   *   *

 

May we understand – but not excuse – the wrongs of our Founding Fathers;
May we keep our noses out of other people’s hoo-haws;
May we support reproductive freedom for all (or STFU);
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

[1] Was not allowed to leave.

[2] The US population, which is probably closer to 333 million.

[3] Are we really, in 2022, still debating women’s bodily autonomy?

[4] Like there are any reading this blog.

[5] That is why I cannot bring moiself  to watch the acclaimed streaming series about going back and even further: The Handmaids Tale.  I read the book, and that was enough dystopia for me.

[6] And wrapped in five plutonium condoms.

[7] And what are the chances of that?

[8] Or in all honesty just doesn’t want to know.

[9] Self-induced, way back when abortion was illegal, and the resulting complications left her unable to have children when she later married and wished to do so.

[10] Hell know, there are a bajillion of us – The Guttmacher Institute estimates at least 73 million each year, world wide.  But most simply do not share this information

[11] There should be another footnote here, but I’d rather throw heavy furniture down the staircase, so excuse me for a moment.

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