Is today still considered Black Friday, what with the COVID crisis limiting the for some white trash who look forward to the traditional shoving match at Walmart customary, day-after-Thanksgiving shopping frenzy?  Using the post-holiday letdown as an excuse inspiration, moiself has decided that this will a lighter, less filling, politics-free post.
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Department Of Someone Is Not Understanding The Concept
Our city’s curbside recycling services recently (within the past year) added food waste recycling to their yard waste recycling service. Each household was issued a small (~ 1 gallon) tan container for the house, to be kept on your kitchen counter, under the sink, wherever, for your potato and apple peels, squash rinds – all of your plant food waste. When that container is full you empty it into your large (60 gallon) brown yard waste bin which you keep outside a foot or so over the property line, so as to annoy your neighbors next to your other garbage and recycling bins. the smaller container goes back inside the house. You wheel the big brown bin to the curb when it is your street’s garbage/recycling pickup day. Pretty basic stuff.
house food waste container on the front/left, which you empty into the yard waste bin on the right.
Our city, like most cities these days, has a fleet of garbage/recycling vehicles which are automated side load trucks. The trucks have a crew of one – the driver, who operates a mechanical arm which grabs and lifts the recycling bin and dumps it.
Here is what moiself observed on Monday morning, when I was walking in a neighborhood ~ 1 mile from my house, on that neighborhood’s recycling day.
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Dept Of Avoiding Politics To Keep The Peace For Just One Day, But Of Course She Found Something Else to Tantalize Offend Some of Y’all
There are so many, many, many examples I could use, but I’ll settle on this one: Why do religious folk still engage, and/or seem to believe in, the efficacy of intercessory prayer, considering what happened to Elizabeth Smart?
Jesus Lied About Prayer (excerpts from “Lies Jesus Told,” from the blog, “EvilBible.com – fighting Against Immorality In Religion” )
“Jesus is quoted many times in the Bible saying that a believer can ask for anything through prayer and receive it. He even goes so far as to say that mountains and trees can be thrown into the sea simply by praying for it. This is clearly a lie, and can be proven to be a lie by any believer. Simply pray for me to be converted to Christianity right away. Or better yet ask God to move the mountains behind my house. He could make a lot of converts that way. If I’m converted today, I’ll post a public apology on my web site and devote my life to kissing God’s ass. If I’m not converted it would only be fair for you to apologize and devote your life to kissing my butt. Here are the quotes from Jesus that proves that he lied:”
(moiself’scomment: the following is number three of nine demonstrably claims, from the New Testament, attributed to Jesus, that the author of this blog lists): (3) “Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.
(Matthew 18:19-20 NAS)”
Remember the Mormon girl, Elizabeth Smart, who was kidnapped from her Salt Lake City home at knifepoint when she was fourteen years old? She was held captive for nine months by her abductor.  The man, an excommunicated Mormon, claimed to be a prophet and an angel, and told Smart that she was …”the first of many virgin brides he planned to kidnap, each of whom would accompany him as he battled the Antichrist.” He repeatedly raped Smart, “…sometimes multiple times a day, forced her to look at pornographic magazines, and regularly threatened to kill her.”
Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.
If the human interest stories about the case that I read were correct – if what we know about human nature is correct – there were definitely more than two or three people praying, in Jesus’ name, from day one when news of Smart’s abduction broke. For nine months people prayed alone, and in groups, Mormons and Christians alike,  as well as believers of other faiths, for that poor girl to be found and returned to her family.
And Jesus was…where, during all of this?
If what Jesus said was trustworthy – and Christians claim that their scriptures are reliable in its narration of Jesus’ words and deeds – when those people were praying he was in their midst doing…just what, exactly? Listening to them, hearing their earnest supplications, discussing it with his supposed father/god/himself ,  and ultimately, apparently, saying something along the lines of, “Yeah, we’ll let them find her, but not now. We’ll allow her to get sexually assaulted for several more months, like the Congolese women who also keep praying to us as they are raped in the refugee camps.”
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Department Of This Is In The Running For Best (Verbal) Curse Ever
The visual version of this curse would be having to look at this picture.
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Department Of What The World Needs Now, Is Love Sweet Love…. Or, Failing That, A New Game
Dateline: Thursday morning. My thoughts while walking past the Manzanita Links golf course, where moiself espied at least six people prepping for a round of golf before halving to attend to Thanksgiving dinner or whatever.
As I passed the end of the course – the ninth hole – moiself had a sudden realization: while I have no interest in golf such as it is, I am intrigued by the idea of playing it backwards. How about instead of playing golf, we play Flog ® ?
“Only a stupid infidel would use a nine iron off the tee!”
No no no; not *that* kind of flog.
Here’s how to Flog: Using a specialty club –golf putters may need to be repurposed for flogging – players “hit” (or somehow coax) their flog balls out of the ninth hole, with the aim of getting the balls up to and atop the ninth hole tee. Repeat with each hole after (before?) that, until you end up at the first tee.
Just imagine the skill set involved! I mean, anyone can (eventually) hit a golf ball off of a tee, but the precision, tenacity, and dexterity in getting one *on* to it? Flogging will require an abundance of Zen-like focus and patience.
Flogging will be a high-scoring game – probably no two- or even three-par holes, and the odds against any player shooting a hole in one (tee in one?) will be astronomical.
What do you think – could this attract a whole new generation of players? Or, are the logistics insurmountable ? Obviously, you couldn’t have people golfing and flogging at the same time, as you’d end up with weird traffic jams,  so an existing course would have to decide, day by day, to be either for golfing, or for flogging.
So, when moiself wins the lottery  I will rent out an entire course golf course for moiself and some thrill-seeking friends, and we shall Flog.
Community Service/Making The World A Better Place ® Bonus: We floggers will be a better-dressed bunch than golfers. That’s almost too easy to guarantee.
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Department Of Partridge Of The Week
Our neighborhood knows the holiday season is in full swing when the lights go up on the pear tree in our front yard (the weekend after Thanksgiving) and stay up until early January. Each week, the tree hosts a Special Guest Star ®. This week’s Partridge in our pear tree is, as always, the lead-off:
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Pun For The Day
The cook couldn’t bother to season the thanksgving Turkey – she didn’t have the thyme.
“Yeah, sure lady – you’re a vegan, like we believe that!
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Department Of False Advertising
Although I promoted today’s post as being politics-free, moiself can’t resist mentioning this. Dateline: Wednesday afternoon, listening to a podcast, wherein a physician/scientist was being interviewed about the COVID-19 vaccine options. ‘Twas music to my ears to hear, more than once, the interviewer ask the scientist what he would be expecting and/or hoping from “…The Biden Administration.”
For the first time in four years, I could hear the word “administration,” referring to the federal government, and not feel the, nauseating, gut-twisting, I-told-you-not-to-eat-those-oysters sensation in the pit of my abdomen, as was the case when the word “administration” was precede by the name of #45.
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May you intrigue your mind with thoughts of other games which might be played backwards; May your soul be soothed by phrases like, The Biden Administration; May all your shits have antlers; …and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
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 Which might be considered a silver lining, of sorts.
 And is batshit crazy-evil wife, who abetted him.
Department Of I Am Happy/Relieved, But Should Be More Ecstatic-er… As per the Biden-Harris victory. But I’m not. For reasons I shall get into next week….
It is next week. And I can’t avoid the obvious any longer.
Biden-Harris won! Yet, considering how many voted for #45, I can never look at my fellow Americans again – including some of my family and friends – without wondering.
In the week before election day I listened to several podcasts which featured interviews with “reluctant” tRump voters. Most of them made statements indicating they held religious (read: Christian) beliefs; what they all had in common was their discomfort with #45’s temperament, character, handling of the pandemic, fomenting civil unrest, ad nauseum. BUT…#45 “agreed” with them on abortion and they thought that the economy – for themselves – was “better” under his policies.
The idea that because your personal portfolio has increased temporarily (and in the long run, it’s always temporary) means “things are better” for you…I haven’t the words to aptly excoriate the staggering egocentricity and shortsightedness of such thinking.
Calling all #45 supporters,  reluctant and gung-ho: Y’all plan to live more than another year or two? What do you think will happen when the #45 regime’s chickens come home to roost, including record deficits and national debt and global warming exacerbation…
Over four years in office, the Trump administration has dismantled major climate policies and rolled back many more rules governing clean air, water, wildlife and toxic chemicals. (from “The Trump Administration Is Reversing More Than 100 Environmental Rules.” NY Times Nov. 10, 2020 )
Have you no concern for the future – for your children and your fellow citizens, if not for yourself? Can nothing override your sense of the *me-good-now,* of your satisfaction with personal financial gain and the lack of being inconvenienced by having to change personal/global habits to reduce carbon emissions; can nothing deter you from selling out our children’s future to the financial, environmental and social crises that are sure to come?
Forget, for a moment, the future: what about the present? Can you really don enough blinders and earplugs to ignore the political and social calamities besetting your fellow citizens and pretend that these don’t harm, involve, or even concern you?
“Trump has repeatedly been endorsed by white supremacist groups and other far-right extremists, and they’ve looked to him as a source of encouragement.” ( Business Insider, 9-30-20 )
“Former KKK leader endorses Trump for president again… Perhaps the US’s most renowned racial extremist has long supported what he sees as the president’s white nationalist agenda.” (The Independent, News<World<Americas, 7-9-20)
You must be familiar with how political and human rights leaders call for unity and try to appeal to our so-called better natures when the latest incidents of police brutality, sexism and misogyny, and the country’s history of systemic racism are revealed:
“This is not who we are.” “We are better than this.”
You’ve heard those phrases before; you’ll hear them again. You may even believe them. But I’m gonna shove my elbow down the throat of the next person  who says that within earshot of moiself. Because, guess what? This *is*who we are – at least, nearly half of the voting “we.”
At least 73 million of us are not “better than this,” because 73 million Americans were able and willing to set aside, ignore, or explain away the actions, rhetoric and policies of #45 which have fostered an unprecedented rise in displays of hatred, bigotry, and violence.
“Hate crimes have surged nearly 20 percent during the administration of President Donald Trump, according to a new FBI report on hate crime statistics. The report also shows that hate-motivated murders, largely committed by white supremacists, spiked to their highest number in 28 years.” ( “Hate Crimes Under Trump Surged Nearly 20 Percent Says FBI Report,” Newsweek, 11-16-20 )
Here’s news from a small town in my state, a story which probably didn’t get much national coverage during the election hoopla:
At least two Klamath Falls billboards were vandalized with…symbols linked to white supremacists and neo-Nazi beliefs….
Multiple swastikas were painted on the billboards, as well as the numbers “1488.” Those numbers are a common white supremacist symbol referencing a future for white children and an homage to Adolf Hitler…. The timing of these symbols appearing the day after the election cannot be ignored, (Klamath Falls Equity Task Force member Joey Gentry) said, noting her belief that people with racist tendencies have been emboldened by President Donald Trump. (“Swastikas appear on billboards for Democrats, store in Klamath Falls,” Oregonlive.com, 11-5-20)
There are #45 supporters who claim to be horrified by such actions. They protest, “This isn’t us!” and say that they themselves are not racist. Yet they are willing to overlook #45’s dog whistles to white supremacist organizations – hells bells, he doesn’t even bother to use the whistles anymore.
In politician speak, a dog whistle is language that conveys a particular meaning to a group of potential supporters. The targeted group hears the “whistle” because of its shared cultural reference, but others cannot. In 2018, The Washington Post wrote that “perhaps no one has sent more dog whistles than President Trump.” When Trump this year planned a rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma – the site of one of the worst acts of racial terror in U.S. history – on the Black holiday of Juneteenth, the media called the rally a “racist dog whistle.” That suggests that white nationalists would view the timing as an overture, while others would miss the date’s racism. Journalists have also referred to Trump calling COVID-19 “the China virus” as a dog whistle…. True dog whistles rely on there being an “outgroup” that can’t hear the politician’s coded message. They are so specifically targeted that there’s no need to deny their coded meaning because no one outside the intended audience even hears them. This is why the term “dog whistle” does not accurately describe Donald Trump’s rhetoric. When Trump talks about “rapists” from Mexico, “shithole countries” in Africa and white supremacists as “very fine people,” the racial connotation isn’t hidden – it is obvious. “This isn’t just a wink to white supremacists,” said Sen. Kamala Harris in a tweet about Trump’s planned Tulsa rally. “[H]e’s throwing them a welcome home party.” (“Trump’s appeals to white anxiety are not ‘dog whistles’ – they’re racism.” The Conversation, 9-18-20 )
It haunts me – the voice of an Otherwise Nice-Sounding Man I heard being interviewed before the election, who said he struggled with his decision. Despite ONSM’s misgiving about the “other stuff,” ONSM chose #45 because ONDM’s stock portfolio had risen.
Other stuff. As in, #45’s history of sexual harassment and bullying, encouraging and abetting racial and social inequity, white supremacy, racism, homophobia, transphobia, & xenophobia; coddling (and imitating) dictators; collusion with Russia & obstruction of Justice, corruption and nepotism and “birtherism’ lies and lies lies and more lies… 
If you’ve a strong stomach, you can view (or download a pdf of) the unfortunately-not-yet-complete, “Listing of Trump’s Atrocities,” compiled via years of diligence of the non-profit publisher, McSweeney’s:
Early in President Trump’s term, McSweeney’s editors began to catalog the head-spinning number of misdeeds coming from his administration. We called this list a collection of Trump’s cruelties, collusions, and crimes, and it felt urgent then to track them, to ensure these horrors — happening almost daily — would not be forgotten. This election year, amid a harrowing global health, civil rights, humanitarian, and economic crisis, we know it’s never been more critical to note these horrors, to remember them, and to do all in our power to reverse them. Various writers have compiled this list during the course of the Trump administration. Their work has been guided by invaluable journalistic resources, including WTFJHT, NPR, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and other sources….
Other stuff. That #45 supporter, and millions like him, claim “That is not who we are,” yet vote for someone Who Is Exactly That. And that’s just as bad – no, it’s worse.
The leaders aren’t the problem; they rarely are. Leaders can do nothing without followers, plus those who claim not to be followers, but are Bystanders and Overlookers.
Charles Manson personally killed no one at the Tate-LaBianca murder scenes; he got his followers to butcher those seven people for him. Perhaps you’ve read about the protestations post-WWII from Italians who claimed not to have supported the policies of their Prime minister, Benito Mussolini, and who thus objected to being called fascists? “The concentration camps and mass killings of civilians in Yugoslavia and Greece – those happened outside our borders; we don’t really know about that. And, yeah, we, like, kinda, sorta, maybe knew that here, in our own country, Mussolini suppressed his opponents, dissenters, and social outsiders via physical assaults, imprisonment, economic deprivation, yada yada yada…. But, he made the trains run on time.” 
“This is not who we are.”
It sucks, massively, to realize the contrary.
And so my thoughts still go to dark places, dragged down by the reality of the complicity of millions of my citizens, plus this HOLY CRAP realization:
Joe and Kamala are stand-up, intelligent, competent, compassionate people, but yikes – look at how many problems they have to fix. What looms largest, exacerbated by #45, are the worldwide effects of global warming. Biden and Harris accept the obvious, hard truths laid out by science, but without a change in the hearts and minds of Republicans in congress, will we have a repeat of the Obama years, when Republicans’ only policy mandate was to counter everything he tried to do? Will they continue to stamp their metaphorical toddlers’ feet and tantrum their way through Biden’s term: “NO, I WON’T WONT WONT WONT PLAY WITH YOU AND YOU CAN’T MAKE ME.”
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Department Of Fun With Misreading Science
Dateline: 11/14, listening to Clear + Vivid podcast, episode Life on Venus? From the podcast’s website, this episode’s description:
She studies what may be the most disgusting molecule known to humankind. And that’s made Clara Sousa-Silva a key member of the team that may have detected life in the clouds of Venus. Her foul (and lethal) molecule has been discovered in those clouds – and the only current explanation for its presence is that it is being made by living organisms.
Podcast Host Alan Alda was asking guest Clara Sousa-Silva (quantum astrochemist  ) about how astronomy professor Jane Greeves contacted Sousa-Silva regarding a phenomenon of interest to both of them:
Alda: “And what prompted her (Greeves) to look for phosphine on Venus?”
Sousa-Silva: “It was a paper that we’d both read that mentioned phosphine association with penguin feces. So it seems like the intestines and excrements of penguins have… a rich, complex anerobic world that is producing phosphine, and there was an article released saying we’ve found phosphine above these places where there’s a lot of penguin poop and I had found that paper and read through every peer-reviewed paper that mentioned phosphine, and I’d collected this body of evidence as phosphine as a bio signature for anaerobic worlds… “
Y’all know what this means –
PENGUINS FOUND ORBITING VENUS ! !
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Department Of 7:45 am Observations While Walking Through The Neighborhood
I see the silhouette in the skies above me, that of a great blue heron flying on to its next destination, whether that be a nearby creek or someone’s backyard koi pond. The bird’s distinctive “fuselage” reminds me of a 747, at least in comparison to two other birds, one dove and one crow, occupying different flight paths below the heron.
Its good to use your imagination.
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Department Of The Standup Routine I’m Not Practicing
Dateline; last Friday. Apropos of nothing (that moiself was aware of), a few minutes after finishing breakfast, I got this flash vision of moiself practicing for a stand-up comedy routine, taking on the persona of a somewhat oblivious and bemused parent. Here was my opening (or closing…or both, depending on how well it would be received) joke:
“The kids these days, with all of their gender-this and sexual-that labels! Most of it goes right over my head.
The other day I caught my teenage son masturbating with a cast iron skillet. Is that what they mean by, ‘pansexual’?”
Yes, I thought that one up all by moiself. I want applause, dammit.
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Pun For The Day
Parallel lines have so much in common; it’s a shame they’ll never meet.
I thought I made it clear – no more math nerd puns!
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Department Of Possibly The Most Useless Question Posed To A Sentient Being…Ever
The following email, with this provocative tempting totally bat shit ridiculous thought-provoking come-on, somehow made it past my spam filter:
“Need eyelash extensions for the holidays?”
Honey, do you think *I* need eyelash extensions?
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May you never be a Bystander, nor an Overlooker; May you realize that you never “need” eyelash extensions, for any occasion; May we all strive to be better than this; …and may the hijinks ensue.
 Except that, he didn’t. Like many dictators, Mussolini “…liked to take credit for everything that went right in Italy, even when it didn’t go that well at all. He was particularly fond of saying he was responsible for successful, large-scale public works projects, such as the railroad system.” (Did Mussolini Really Keep the Trains Running on Time? history.howstuffworks.com )
Department Of One Of My Favorite Questions To Ask (of anyone, about moiself )
“Do I have a bit of chocolate stuck between my teeth?”
She’d be happier if it were a piece of Lindt 85% instead of spinach.
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Department Of Getting Really, Really Genre Specific Sub-Department Of Who’d A Thunk It?
After a three-year, self-imposed sabbatical from the business side of What I Do ®  I’ve been doing some research into the state of literary publishing Research as in, getting (re)acquainted with who (as in publishing companies, large and small) is out there and what they want and/or specialize in.
When I started this task, I was wondering if things are just as bad as when I said *ick* and walked away. The answer: Yep (as in, duh), and even more so.
However, I am discovering hidden  gems that make this task worthwhile. Such as, this list, from the writers guidelines posted on the website of a particular publishing house, for a particular editor’s areas of interest rearding manuscripts she wishes to review (my emphases ):
“….contemporary romance, women’s contemporary fiction, historical fiction, gay fiction, dark suspense and thrillers, Amish romance.…”
Holy bodice ripper! There’s more than one editor with that unusually specific, uh, specification:
“80,000-word contemporary romance—either sexy or sweet, Amish and inspirational romance, women’s fiction….”
“Amish romance” as a genre. This is news to moiself– and, perhaps, only to moiself? Did y’all know about this and if so, why did you keep it to y’all selves?
I’m not a genre writer, nor reader. I have read books that would fit such classifications (e.g. a Zane Grey western or two; some Agatha Christie mysteries, four or five Star Trek “novels” ). Without knowing much about the genre – except that there are, apparently, far more sub-genres than I would have imagined – “romance” is the least interesting genre to moiself…up until now.
I find moiself wanting to at least skim through the pages of something that would qualify as an Amish Romance. I’m trying to imagine the content of such: the exchange of furtive glances over the milking stool; sly winks by the well after the quilting bee; coy lasses who offering their luscious berries for perusal during the barn raising….
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Department Of Next Tuesday, Y’all Know What To Do
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Speaking of the election, and what with the approaching holiday season….
Department Of How To Get Dis-Invited To Extended Family Gatherings
It’s easy! First, post something like this on your Facebook page:
I have family members, who are religious, who are likely voting for #45.
Because tR*** says the magic words conservative Christians want to hear about two key issues for them: taxes and abortion – and he of course *lies* to his supporters about this (he was pro-choice until he planned his presidential run as a Republican, as documented here and other places: https://qz.com/…/trump-shifted-from-pro-choice-to-pro-life…/), they are apparently willing to ignore/overlook/excuse all the rest?
This saddens me in ways I cannot express…so I’ll post it here, and never get invited to extended family Thanksgiving dinners again.
Lather; rinse; repeat, and conservative evangelicals will lick your otherwise faith-mocking, narcissistic, heathen patootie. 
It is interesting to moiself – and by “interesting” I mean, repulsive – that so many Christians are willing to overlook a politician’s flagrant, repeated, unapologetic violations of *their* scripture’s advice on issues which, if you take their scriptures as true and literal accounts of their god’s messages to them (and most conservative Christians do), were of primary importance to Jesus:
* caring for the sick, poor, imprisoned, and vulnerable
* treating others as you wish to be treated
* giving your possessions, even clothing, to those who have none
… and instead support this same lying adulterous racist misogynist politician who spouts the rhetoric they want to hear about abortion, an issue about which Jesus never spoke, despite abortion being known and practiced since ancient times. Yep, as long as humans have been pregnant/getting each other pregnant, they have found ways of intentionally ending unwanted pregnancies.
The practice of abortion—the termination of a pregnancy—has been known since ancient history. Various methods have been used to perform or attempt an abortion, including the administration of abortifacient herbs, the use of sharpened implements, the application of abdominal pressure, and other techniques…. Many of the methods employed in early cultures were non-surgical. Physical activities such as: strenuous labor, climbing, paddling, weightlifting, or diving were a common technique. Others included the use of irritant leaves, fasting, bloodletting, pouring hot water onto the abdomen, and lying on a heated coconut shell. In virtually all cultures, abortion techniques developed through observation, adaptation of obstetrical methods, and transculturation.
“The Bible never once specifically forbids abortions; it’s actually quite the contrary! Not only were methods of abortion well-known at the time, there’s times when the Bible states God commands that one take place. I’m going to walk through a few examples as illustrations. * In Genesis 38, we have the story of Tamar * Hosea: Progeny of the Rebellious Shall Not be Born (Hosea 9:14: God will cause the deaths of the unborn, as he will “give them a miscarrying womb and dry breasts.” Hosea 13:16: “Samaria shall become desolate; for she hath rebelled against her God: they shall fall by the sword: their infants shall be dashed in pieces, and their women with child shall be ripped up.”) * Sotah: Abortion-Inducing Potion due to Husband’s Jealousy 
(In Numbers 5, instructions are given by God to Moses regarding situations where a husband is fiercely jealous of his wife: his wife should be made to take a drink that will cause an abortion if she slept with another man…regardless of whose child it is). * Causing a Miscarriage: Mere Property Loss (The Bible didn’t treat miscarriage as murder, regardless of intent. Rather, it was treated as a property loss by the father, punishable by whatever fine the judges felt was appropriate. This is spelled out in Exodus 21:22-25 ) (excerpts from Biblical Abortion: A Christian’s View)
As for taxes, Jesus is quoted as advising tax collectors to do their job honestly. He is mentioned/quoted about twice in personal stories about taxes, both times advising that people pay the taxes they owe. He had plenty to say about people who strive for and value the accumulation of wealth, and none of it was positive.
In the New Testament, Jesus offers more wisdom and has more to say about money than any other subject besides the “Kingdom of God.” I remember when I first heard a pastor proclaim from the pulpit that Jesus said more about money than he did about love. To be honest, I was a little angry. There was no way that was true, I thought to myself. I’ve grown up hearing that “God is love,” but now I find out He may care more about my checkbook than my heart? Sure enough, after doing a bit of research on this subject as well, I discovered that the pastor was right: Jesus talked more about money than he did Heaven and Hell combined. Eleven of the 39 parables He tells are about finances. ( “Jesus Talked the Most about…Money? “)
“Gotcha on that one, eh bro?”
Jesus presented the desire to accumulate riches as both an offense to faith and an obstacle to faith. This is something “prosperity Christians” find easy to ignore, by concentrating on other issues they think don’t apply to themselves (like homosexuality and abortion, both of which existed in biblical times and yet were not condemned, nor even spoken of, by Jesus).
Some of Jesus’ better-known quotes on the subject of money include:
* “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6)
* Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!” The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” (Mark 10:23–25)
* “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” ( Luke 16:13)
* “Whoever has two tunics should share with him who has none, and whoever has food should do the same.” (Luke 3)
Every so often when discussing the prosperity gospel, I hear proponents say, “But surely God doesn’t want us to be poor, does he?” ….People who say such things ignore the many Bible passages addressing wealth…
They also choose to ignore the many biblical passages warning against the detrimental effects of wealth—and especially love for wealth. You don’t hear prosperity preachers mention such verses. It’s as if their Bibles are missing them. (from “Bible Verses Prosperity Preachers Wish Didn’t Exist“)
Jesus did not oppose the payment of taxes. In fact, Jesus paid taxes. In Matthew 22:15-22, the Pharisees ask Jesus, “Tell us … is it against our law to pay taxes to the Roman Emperor or not?” Jesus responds, “Why are you trying to trap me? Show me the coin for paying the tax!” They brought him the coin and he asks them, “Whose face and name are these?” “The Emperor’s,” they answer. So Jesus says to them, “Well, then, pay to the Emperor what belongs to the Emperor, and pay to God what belongs to God.” Matthew 17: 24-27 relates the story of a group of tax collectors asking Peter, “Does your teacher pay the … tax?” Peter’s answer, “Of course,” is followed by Jesus instructing Peter as follows: “… go to the lake and drop in a line. Pull up the first fish you hook, and in its mouth you will find a coin worth enough for my tax and yours. Take it and pay them our taxes.” Romans 13:6-7: Paul explains, “That is also why you pay taxes, because the authorities are working for God when they fulfill their duties. Pay, then, what you owe them; pay your personal and property taxes, and show respect and honor for them all.” ( excerpts from “What does the Bible say about taxes?
By Ken Milani, professor of accountancy at the University of Notre Dame, and Claude Renshaw, emeritus professor of business administration at Saint Mary’s College.
Both men are Christians.)
“Got that? And keep your noses out of women’s and LGBTQ folk’s business!”
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Pun For The Day
A cheese factory exploded in Paris – onlookers were showered with de Brie!
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May you not feel the need to consult Iron Age manuscripts for 21st century personal or financial guidance; May you imagine your own Amish romance; May we all get chocolate stuck in our teeth; …and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. AND GET OUT THERE AND VOTE !!
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 For a variety of reasons, some discussed in this space, mostly summed up by my disdain for what is happening in that business: ICK.
And by check out, moiself means put down what you’re doing and listen to it, right now. Okay; maybe take a pee break first, if you need to (it runs a wee bit – sorry – less than 45m).
It starts out with a gabby, somewhat potty-mouth banter  between the Reply All host and Resistance podcast producer, the latter who has spent the past year following Warriors in the Garden, a New York City, youth-led activist collection. The story itself is an absolutely chilling account of head-scratching, mind-boggling, Orwellian-level abuse of authority. That the subject of the incident, Derrick Ingram, made it out alive (I don’t wanna give anything away, but I don’t want to scare you off from listening, either) is amazing.
It’s a prime example of “This is why people are protesting and this is *what* they are protesting,” especially for anyone who wonders what the fuss is about.
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Department Of This Guy Is So Observant – He Should Have His Own Blog 
Dateline: last Saturday, breakfast table. MH, reading the previous day’s New York Times, says to moiself, “This headline makes no sense.” The headline in question came from the article, Inspired by Trump, Hasidic Backlash Grows Over Virus Rules; it was actually the sub-headline which he found bemusing:
Orthodox Jewish leaders have seen a growing, raucous faction of young men in the community, tired of pandemic guidelines and resentful of the secular authorities.
“Hasids, tired of guidelines and resentful of authority?” MH shook his head.
That’s, *secular* authority, moiself reminded him. I, too, found the concept ironic, as in, Hello?! Do y’all know we can hear you when you talk?! ridiculous.
Unquestioning compliance with rules and guidelines and adherence to authority is what the Hasidic lifestyle – what any orthodox religious life – is all about. Using the pretext of obedience to their god’s will, the insular Hasidic communities follow rules and regs about what and when they may eat, where they can and cannot live, what language they speak, what clothing they can and cannot and must wear – like the Shtreimel, the bizarre traditional fur hat a Hasidic man dons for religious holidays and festive occasions and those times when a guy just feels like balancing a dead gopher on his head – what they can do for a living, who and when they marry, even when a married couple can and cannot have sex – every aspect of their lives….
But health guidelines meant to protect *every* community from a deadly infectious disease? Dude, that’s asking too much.
“Wear a mask? Oy, that would make us look ludicrous.”
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Department Of Have I Mentioned Before How Serious I Am About This?
What with the looming appointment of yet another antediluvian-minded wacko religious conservative nominee to SCOTUS, the subject of attempts to overturn Roe v. Wade is once again up for social media debate. I like this guy’s pithy phrasing of the reality that some folk still don’t seem to understand, even as many of us – men and women, religious and secular, even a Mormon mother of six – have pointed out that all pregnancies are caused by male ejaculations:
There are, of course, reasons for abortion that do not stem from unplanned/unwanted pregnancies and therefore would not be prevented by preventing irresponsible ejaculations. If you’ve ever known a couple  who’s had to terminate a much-wanted pregnancy due to medical reasons you’ve had a glimpse at the pain involved…and if you think that no one you know has ever been in that situation, as a wise friend said recently, “If you don’t know someone who has had an abortion, it just means you’re the kind of person they wouldn’t tell.”
What with the upcoming election, the ongoing pandemic, the stresses and pressures all of us are dealing with, I often despair at the divisiveness of our political and personal discourse. That said, I’m still going to draw my own dividing line. If you don’t understand this point – if you are a man who favors regulating the bodily autonomy of women but not men (and if you’re a woman with the same opinions, WTF is wrong with you?) and are not willing to just MYOFB on this issue, please, stay away from me, stay away from my husband, my family, my pets, my car, lawn, my recycling bin, my pear tree….
Side note that shouldn’t be a side note, but a main talking point: I’ve witnessed plenty of women being asked if they’d ever had an abortion, but have yet to see a man asked if he’s ever been the *cause* of an abortion.
Let’s change that, shall we?
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Department Of For Those Who Wonder What Is The Concept Of Bodily Autonomy Sub-Department of And For The Rest Of Us Who Think That Women Should Have As Much Or More Bodily Autonomy Than A Corpse
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Different as in, lightening up the subject matter. It’s time to giggle.
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Department Of The Following Joke Is Courtesy Of Sigourney Weaver
Yeah, we’re best buds, didn’t you know? She calls me up to share her latest jokes. The Sigster is quite the gagster, which surprises some people who primarily think of her as a flamethrower-wielding, saving-the-world-from aliens, warrior woman. This jest of hers had me in fits of pig-snorting laughter. 
My doctor told me I have to stop masturbating. I asked, “Why?” She said, “Because I’m trying to examine you.”
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Department Of Trying To Be A Good Citizen….
Even as I don’t like wearing a mask, I alwaysdo when I go out. But they are a problem for me; it seems like I bought about 15 different kinds, trying to get a good fit, but no matter what the style they don’t want to stay around my ears and are always popping off.
Do you remember the “earlobes” lesson? Maybe they don’t use that example in school anymore, but both MH and I remember that, when we were in our high school science classes, two basic human traits were used to introduce students to concepts in genetics: eye color, and earlobe shape.
If earlobes hang free, they are detached. If they connect directly to the sides of the head, they are attached. Free/unattached is the dominant trait. Scientists used to think this trait was controlled by a single gene; thus, it was a good illustrative introduction to genetics, with students having fun comparing earlobes, and going home and doing the same with their parents and siblings. Nowadays, geneticists think it is likely that several genes contribute to this trait.
MH said that my attached earlobes make it difficult for the mask strings to get a good hold. I’d completely forgotten that moiself has attached earlobes, until MH was helping me with a stubborn mask, and pointed that out. I had to pout for a moment.
I HAVE A GENETIC DISABILITY.
I WANT MY OWN PARKING SPACE, DAMMIT.
* * *
Pun For The Day
Never trust atoms – they make up everything.
“I swear, one more bad science pun and….”
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Department Of Just Thinkin’
On my early morning walks, I listen to podcasts. When a podcast ends, depending on its length/how many minutes I have before I return home, moiself either tunes in to another podcast or switches to some music.
I’ve noticed that I walk faster, with the proverbial spring in my step, when music is coming through my earbuds. Occasionally I wonder if someone walking behind or towards moiselfwould notice the difference:
“Look at her – The Fresh Air interview must have ended and now she’s listening to The Go-Gos….”
Who could resist bopping to that?
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Department Of Th-Th-Th-That’s All, Folks
Among the many observations of #45 which are supposed to be character- revealing is the fact that he is the first president since James Polk (over 170 years ago!) who has not kept a pet while in the White House.
Not true, sez moiself. What about his lap dog, William Barr?
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May you have more bodily autonomy than a corpse; May you take pity (but not patronizingly so) on we recessive freaks of nature who have attached earlobes; May you remember that, when it comes to boppin’ out to The Go-Gos, resistance is futile; …and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
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 But why the fuck would anyone who reads this blog object to that shit?
 Or, at least he should get mentioned in several footnotes.
 Or you yourself have been part of that couple.
 Okay, so I actually saw this on a NY Times link to famous people telling jokes…but I want Sigourney to know I would be a good audience for her humor, and we should hang out, some time soon. Unless she has a problem with PWAE (People With Attached Earlobes).
Department Of The Joke I Wish Was Not So Spot-On Descriptive
Q. How many Republicans does it take to change a light bulb? A. None; #45 just says it’s been changed and the rest of them sit in the dark and applaud.
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Department Of The Good Old Days Are More Old Than Good
Why is nostalgia like grammar? We find the present tense and the past perfect. 
Thanks to the podcast Curiosity Daily, moiself has learned that there is a classification for the nostalgic lens with which my mother viewed the stories of her childhood. In the podcast’s August 13 episode, one of the topics was nostalgia.
Nostalgia is a sentimentality for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations….. Nostalgia’s definition has changed greatly over time. Consistent with its Greek word roots meaning “homecoming” and “pain,” nostalgia was for centuries considered a potentially debilitating and sometimes fatal medical condition expressing extreme homesickness. The modern view is that nostalgia is an independent, and even positive, emotion that many people experience often. Occasional nostalgia has been found to have many functions, such as to improve mood, increase social connectedness, enhance positive self-regard, and provide existential meaning. ( excerpts from Wikipedia entry on nostalgia )
Specifically, the podcast focused on the fact that the folks who study such things (nostal-geologists, as I like to think of them) have classified nostalgia into two types: restorative versus reflectivenostalgia.
Restorativenostalgia is when you feel like things used to be better in the past, and you long to relive or even reconstruct the way (you think) that things were. Reflectivenostalgia involves recognizing your wistful feelings about how things used to be, and admitting you sometimes long for the old days even as you accept the fact that the past is past and that your perceptions of that past are probably biased.
I had an immediate, visceral reaction to hearing the names and descriptions of the two types of nostalgia; Moiself felt like I’d won a jackpot of sorts, in having a spot-on term for the kind of “looking back” my mother preferred to do.
My mother was quite willing to share her stories of growing up in the small northern Minnesota town of Cass Lake. I frequently asked my parents about their childhoods, as I found their stories entertaining, fascinating, and ultimately revealing (even as I later found out about all of the concealing that was going on). My father was the more skillful storyteller, both in the entertaining way he presented his stories and, as my siblings and I discovered in our adulthood, in his deftness at deflecting or avoiding talking about certain times of his life.  But this space, today, is for my mother’s restorative nostalgia.
As a child I’d observed that adults had this thing for “the good old days.” Although my mother didn’t present her stories with that introduction, the forthright manner in which she presented How Things Were Back Then ® made me astonished by the idea that anyone would pine for the olden days.
Restorative nostalgia: even as that kind of rose-colored-glasses/longing for the past is understandable, I’ve come to believe that it is ultimately not helpful, and can even be damaging. Besides being unreal – you can’t and go back and make things the way they were – restorative nostalgia is, or should be, undesirable, for any rational person. When I have met people who really and truly seem to wish for “the way things were,” I sometimes want to bitch slap them into reality…
…and ask them, Have you fully considered the totality of that “safe space” you think you long for…and would you be willing to take everything else that came with it?
Those “simpler times” for which many people wax nostalgic included the not-so-simple realities of massive (and oft-times life-threatening) racial, gender, and sexual orientation repression and discrimination.
“Wait a minute, Mom – I remember you telling me…” became my unintentional mantra, when it came to listening to my mother’s restorative nostalgia. And after I had pointed out what, in my opinion, needed pointing out, she would respond with a somewhat conciliatory, “Oh yes, well, there was that….”
One day when I was visiting my parents back during the first Gulf War, I brought up the subject of current events. My mother began telling me about how she found herself “pining for” the days of World War II, aka, “The Good War.”
Uh….Mom…those were days when the WORLD was at WAR.
“Oh yes, well, there was that… but, she continued, everyone knew each other in the town, and they all pulled together, and there was a feeling of solidarity….
I tried to validate that for her, then gently asked her if the pulling-together part made up for that awful day when the news came about the small town’s Bright Shining Hope: the Cass Lake High School star athlete and recent graduate, beloved by all and engaged to a local girl, was killed in combat in Europe. The news devastated the town. And didn’t she remember telling me about how horrible it was when the “telegraph truck” drove down Main Street, and when people saw it coming they ran into their houses, as if they could hide from the bad news, as if their shut doors would mean that the notice of a husband/brother/son/cousin who was KIA or MIA or wounded would pass on to another family…. And didn’t she remember telling me how “sick to death” she was by the adults who used the war to excuse their incompetence and blunders that had nothing to do with wartime circumstances, but if you tried to bring it to their attention or ask them to correct their mistakes, they’d sneer at you and say, “Don’t you know there’s a war on?!”and you’d be accused of being unpatriotic if you said anything after that?
“Oh yes, well, there was that….” But things were “simpler” back then, in the old town/small town days, she declared.
Well, maybe, I said…but “simple” doesn’t always equate to better, or even good. And it seems far from simple – it seems complicated, even frightening, to me – to ponder much of what people had to navigate back then.
What would that be, she wondered? She said she liked to remember the simple days, like the time when she and a friend walked back to their respective homes late one night after a school activity – they thought nothing of walking home after dark because they were safe from danger in a small town, and she’s thought of that over the years, when she couldn’t sleep until her own school-age children were home because she worried about us being out after dark….
“But wait a minute, Mom….” you had so many dangers back then that we don’t have now. Maybe you felt safe walking home at dark, but I remember the rest of that story you told me: the very next morning, when you went to your friend’s house to walk with her to school like you did on every school day, you saw the frightening QUARANTINE! sign on her front door. Your friend had been stricken – overnight, seemingly out of nowhere – with polio and was being kept alive by an iron lung, and your parents were almost frantic with fear, thinking you might also be infected. And over the years I’ve heard about children in your small town who were crippled, even blinded and deafened, by diseases for which we now have vaccines and/or cures….
Quarantine sign, Polio. 2005.3080.07.
“Oh yes, well, there was that….” But still, she insisted, people were friendlier back then. They pulled together, and put aside their differences to cooperate as equals – being a good citizen meant something, back then.
“But wait a minute, Mom…. The “everyone pulling together” did not, in fact, include everyone. Some citizens were more equal than others. Don’t you remember telling me about “the Indian kids,” who were required by law to go to public school until age 13, after which they all dropped out, and how they all sat in the back of the class and the teachers rarely spoke to them and they never spoke in class? You said, when I asked about their tribal affiliation, that you thought there were “at least two kinds of them,”  but you didn’t know what the “kinds” were – none of the whites did, because they weren’t interested and didn’t bother to find out, even though all the whites in town knew who was Norwegian-American and who was German- or Swedish-American…and that sometimes you felt bad for the Indians because you knew they had gone from being the majority to a minority in their own land….
And you told me about a high school girl who befriended the son of the only Chinese family in town – a family that had to constantly remind everyone during “The Good War” that they were Chinese, not Japanese – but this girl’s parents forced her to stop even speaking with him because they were horrified by the idea that their daughter might want to date “an Oriental”…. and when that Chinese family opened a grocery store because they couldn’t shop at the other stores in town during regular hours  no one patronized their store, and they were unable to make a living and moved to another town….
“Oh yes, well, there was that….” Still, it was so much fun, the carefree high school days, she said, asking me if I remembered her telling me how she got to be lead saxophone player in the marching band (in such a small school in such a small town, if you played an instrument, you got to be in the band) and was valedictorian of her high school? You know, back then, the teachers knew all the students and their families; they took a personal interest in their students, and everyone was so nice….
“But wait a minute, Mom….What about the fact that your mother had to call the school principal and fight to get you into the physics class, because the physics teacher refused to “waste my time teaching science to girls”? And then, after the principal forced the teacher to accept the two top students in Cass Lake High School – two girls, you and your best friend, Dorothy K – into his class, the teacher refused to speak to you or call on you when you raised your hand, and said openly to you and Dorothy on the first day of class that although it was against his will he’d been ordered to allow them in his classroom, and he grudgingly agreed to teach Dorothy because, “It’s obvious that she will have to work for a living.”
“Oh yes, well, there was that….”
Then, without a modicum of introspection or self-awareness, my mother said, “Oh well, it turned out I never found physics to be very interesting….”
Well, of course not – why would you have?!?!?! You were actively discouraged from being interested in it! The teacher paid no attention to you – he didn’t care if you learned anything. He had to give you an A because you read the required materials, aced all of the tests, and all the other students knew you had the top grade in the class.
And what about the way your best friend, Dorothy K, was treated? Because she was “disfigured” – a botched forceps delivery damaged her facial muscles, causing the right side of her face to droop, as if she’d had a stroke – Dorothy was raised to accept the “fact” that because she lacked the most important feminine asset – a pleasing face – no man would ever want to date, much less marry her, and that she would need to make her own way in the world…in a world where the same men who would not consider her romantic partner material were also predisposed to not consider her their intellectual or professional equal….
“Oh yes, well, there was that….”
And that job you had, after your junior college graduation: you worked as a secretary at the post office, and you said it drove you nuts, how the clerk was so incompetent and you often ended up doing his duties (but of course you didn’t get paid for doing so), and you knew you could do the job better but when you asked the manager you were told that, as a woman, you weren’t eligible to even apply for such a position…and how you were saving up your money to buy a car, but as soon as you were married you had to quit your job, because a married woman couldn’t work at the post office….
“Oh yes, well, there was that….”
and that…and that…and that…and that….
The incidents – read: life – my mother told me about…how do I explain this? She never told those stories as examples of hardship or discrimination. She presented them matter-of-factly, and often seemed to be befuddled by how gob-smacked I was to hear them. To her, that was just the way things were; I heard the between-the-lines details – hardship and fear, racism and discrimination – that didn’t even, technically, require me to read between the lines, as they were, to me, glaringly overt…even as those details were, to her, not the point of her stories.
* * *
Department Of Dorothy Is Not In Kansas Anymore
I met my mother’s friend, the afore-mentioned, legendary (to moiself), Dorothy K, only once. I was in college, home for a visit, and my mother excitedly told me that her friend Dorothy was returning to the States after her latest overseas trip, and had arranged to take a flight to LAX. My parents picked up Dorothy at the airport and brought her to their house, where she stayed overnight until she caught a flight back to her home. 
I was somewhat enthralled with the idea of Dorothy: over the years, I’d heard about how she was a chemist, made good money, and spent her free time travelling around the world. When I finally met her I remember thinking how attractive I found her to be – she had “good bones,” and I couldn’t help but wonder how her life would have been, sans that incompetent doctor forceps mishap.
Part of my enthrallment came via comparing her life to my mom’s. Moiself (ungraciously, I know) saw my mother as a staid homemaker, someone who worked all day but never got paid and who had never been anywhere except for Cass Lake and Santa Ana. And here is her friend, with a career in science, who travels the globe….
I later thought of the ironies of Dorothy’s life, including the fact that the characteristic which made her “damaged goods” in the eyes of her culture is also what allowed her to go to college and work in fields that were closed to women in that time. Her disfigurement essentially neutered her in the eyes of males; thus, she presented no threat of “distraction” (i.e., of them being sexually attracted to her). Although I’ve little doubt that she faced discrimination (she shared a few stories with me, about always being the only woman in her department), it was as if she were a third gender: since men didn’t see her as a woman she was less of a threat to male colleagues, in terms of them having to consider that they were being equaled, or even bested, by a woman.
My mother (privately, years after Dorothy’s visit) admitted to me that she sometimes wondered what it would like to be Dorothy, whom she saw as independent and carefree. And I wondered, is that how Dorothy saw herself? Considering the culture she was raised in, instead of fully embracing her life – her career and the intellect she was allowed to develop – did she ever compare herself to, say, my mother? Did she in any way envy my mother for having a husband and children – for having the life Dorothy was told would not be possible for her, even as it was the only/ultimate/proper life to which a girl was supposed to aspire? Or, did she look at my mother’s life and find it…tedious, and limited?
Such questions haunt me, whenever I think of Dorothy. I wish I could ask her, but she died several years before my mother did. I can only hope that whatever nostalgia Dorothy dabbled in, that it was reflective, and brought her satisfaction.
* * *
Pun For The Day
You know what seems odd to me? Numbers that aren’t divisible by two.
And I also vote for more nerd puns in this space.
* * *
May your nostalgia be reflective; May you live in the present with your eyes open; 
May you change the damn lightbulb when it needs changing; …and may the hijinks ensue.
 In last week’s post, I mentioned a few of them. My father died not knowing his adult children had found just how poor (and dysfunctional) his family was, and that he’d never graduated (nor even attended) high school because his father forced all his children to drop out of school at age 13. And when I found this out, some missing pieces fell into place; I realized that all the stories Dad had told about his youth, to his children, were carefully told to hide those details. For example, we’d made assumptions that the job he talked about having “after school” was part-time, when in fact he was working fulltime, when his peers were in school, and we never put the pieces together to realize that the school stories he’d shared were all pre-high school….
 The Minnesota Chippewa Tribe and the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe were “two kinds” of indigenous tribes which had settled in the Cass Lake area, centuries before Europeans arrived.
 One grocer let the Chinese family shop at his store early, before regular hours, so that the other (white) families wouldn’t see them.
 …to wherever that was for her. I cannot remember; it was in some larger city. She’d left Cass Lake to go to college, and only returned to that small town to visit her parents, who remained there until their deaths.
 Even when it too often involves holding your nose (think: #45 and his primeval toadies) and wishing for a fast track time machine to the future
Department Of Yet Another Thing We Should Have Learned In School, But Didn’t
As part of the ongoing ruminations, discussions, and revelations re systemic injustice, I’m going to sharea couple of redlining and racial deed restriction stories.
“A middle-aged white lady with such a sordid tales – that cannot be!”
Keep calm and hold on to your crumpets, Countess. It’s not exactly what you’re thinking.
Redlining, as y’all may know, is the historically documented, illegal, discriminatory phenomenon, practiced in both Canada and the USA, in which there was/is an organized denial of financial services (by federal and local governmental agencies as well as the private sector) to certain geographic areas of a community, based on demographics. The most common form of redlining is via banks, mortgage lenders and/or insurance companies “drawing a red line” around areas where they would avoid investments, most frequently inner-city neighborhoods with a majority black population.
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, two of my college roommates (LW and SG) and I made a day trip from UC Davis to the Bay Area, to see our former roommate who and was living and working in Palo Alto. We had directions to her apartment but no map of the area, and when we took the University Ave. exit from 101, driver SG turned the wrong way – she went east, instead of west.
A police car pulled up alongside ours (the cop car was in the left lane of the two lane eastbound road), matching our speed. There were two officers in the car: Driver Cop was white, Passenger Cop was Latino. Passenger Cop rolled down his window, signaled for SG to roll down hers, then called out, “Are you girls lost?”
We didn’t think so, until he’d asked us that. SG said that we were going to Palo Alto. “You’re headed the wrong way,” Passenger Cop replied. “You need to turn around; you’re headed toward East Palo Alto.”
I immediately thought, Wait – this is strange. He doesn’t know us or where we’re going. One second after SG thanked the cop, from the back seat of SG’s car I called out, “How did you know we were headed in the wrong direction?”
“You’re the wrong color,” Passenger Cop replied. I could see the smirk on Driver Cop’s face as he punched the accelerator and their car sped on past us.
We were was flummoxed…and knew nothing about East Palo Alto (including, prior to that encounter, that it even existed.) When we got to our friend’s apartment and shared the story, she told us that East Palo Alto (“EPA”) was definitely *not* Palo Alto; it was an unincorporated (at that time) community on the other side of the tracks, so to speak – a high crime area with a majority Black and Latino population.
I didn’t then (and still don’t now) fully know how I felt about our encounter with the cops. We were, in fact, lost, as in going the wrong way. No GPS back then; all we had were our friend’s directions. We’d have figured it out, eventually. If it had indeed been dangerous for three white college-aged “girls,” two of them blonde,  to drive through EPA, then sure, we were grateful…but also, we were somewhat creeped out, both by being the subject of the cops’ assumptions, and that such assumptions could be accurate.
Fast forward, approximately one and a half years (post college graduation). I am living and working in Palo Alto, and living in the same apartment complex as the afore-mentioned former roommate. Palo Alto was an expensive place for renters (still is, and exponentially more so), but the apartment complex I was in had reasonable rents. Turns out that that (the affordable rent) was because that particular apartment complex was in a buffer zone of sorts, between Palo Alto and EPA. Although my mailing address listed Palo Alto as my city, my zip code indicated that buffer zone, which followed the San Francisquito creek on its meandering way, paralleling and then crossing the freeway.
Living in the EPA-Palo Alto buffer zone but working in Palo Alto “proper,” I became aware of the many improper attitudes Palo Alto residents had toward those residing on the other side of the creek. On my daily morning runs I would head down the street of my apartment complex and take a pedestrian bridge across the creek, a bridge which, I learned, was referred to as “the butthole” by some of the Palo Alto residents on the other side. I enjoyed running through those residents’ neighborhoods; the houses were gorgeous, the streets wide and clean…so different from those on “my side” of the tracks.
Not long after I moved to Palo Alto from Davis I went to a Palo Alto Bank of America to give them my address change and order new checks. I filled out what seemed like too much paperwork for those basic changes. The Very Friendly Young Bank Teller scanned the various pages, asking me twice to confirm my new address and contact information. As she began collating the papers, she gave me a conspiratorial wink. “It’s a good thing you’re just ordering new checks,” she giggled, “and not applying for a mortgage.”
Say what? Sure, I was a bit young to want, or be able to, apply for a home loan, and even if I wanted one my meager salary would not have qualified me for such…but she didn’t know my salary, or anything else about me. Could she tell by – what, the the way I was dressed? – that I couldn’t afford Palo Alto real estate?
“I don’t get it. Why is it good that I’m *not* applying for a mortgage?” I asked her. She pointed toward my paperwork and said that, “with that zip code,” I would be unable to get a bank loan. Of any kind.
While often incorrectly assumed to be part of the city of Palo Alto, East Palo Alto has always been a separate entity since its founding as an unincorporated community until its incorporation in July 1983….The two cities are separated only by San Francisquito Creek and, largely, the Bayshore Freeway…. In 1990, 43% of East Palo Alto’s residents were African Americans, which was the result of redlining practices and racial deed restrictions in Palo Alto. (from the Wikipedia entry on East Palo Alto, history)
“Good afternoon. What services may I deny, er, help you with today?”
At least two more times, while living in the buffer zone, I heard references to redlining, a practice I’d hitherto had no knowledge about. Reference #2: out for drinks one night after work with a co-worker and his friends, one of whom was a Stanford MBA student. MBA dude, after discovering where I live, gave me thenudge nudge wink winkand “joked” about the fact that I couldn’t get a loan if I continued to live in “that area.”
Moiself recently told these stories to friend RB, who’d moved to Oregon from the Midwest after retiring from her job at a bank. We were having a COVID-safe lunch in a park, talking about the Black Lives Matter concerns. I told RB I was gobsmacked by comments from so many white people who seem to know nothing of our nation’s history of systematic racism, particularly re wealth acquisition. Specifically, I’d recently read several remarks by people who said they understood that redlining and other discriminatory practices had existed, but that that was “long ago” and “mostly in the South.”
From the vantage point of my physically-distant picnic blanket, I saw RB’s eyes roll in disgust. “Yeah, right.” She laughed bitterly, and said that in the 1980s her bank, like most banks in the US, did a paperwork audit and removed any traces of redlining and/or discriminatory language from their loan guidelines, but that “everyone” (as in, the bank’s employees) knew that the practice still existed…only then, it became harder to prove.
Well, that sucks.
* * *
Department of Racial Deed Restrictions
The first house Bay Area friends LPH and DH bought was an adorable cottage up in the hills. When it came time for the paperwork, their real estate agent  rather sheepishly pointed out a passage in the deed that she wanted them to be aware of, before they came upon it themselves. It was a certain clause that houses built before the late 1960’s used to have in their deeds, and it was still in there, but they could have the deed redone to remove the embarrassing relic….
The clause stated that no “colored person” could reside on the property, except in the capacity of a maid or household help, and then only in separate quarters built for that purpose. Such clauses were known as a racial covenants. LPH’s and DH’s initial reaction was to keep the original wording, to show later to their children…or anyone who might say that such discrimination belonged to a bygone era or another geographic location, and not the “enlightened” West Coast.
“What’s In Your Deed? …. Look deep in the fine print. Many residents…have this clause in their deeds: “No person or persons of Asiatic, African or Negro blood, lineage, or extraction shall be permitted to occupy a portion of said property.”
Racial deed restrictions became common after 1926 when the U.S. Supreme Court validated their use. The restrictions were an enforceable contract and an owner who violated them risked forfeiting the property. Many neighborhoods prohibited the sale or rental of property to Asian Americans and Jews as well as Blacks. In 1948, the court…declared that racial restrictions would no longer be enforced, but the decision did nothing to alter the other structures of segregation. It remained perfectly legal for realtors and property owners to discriminate on the basis of race.
Americans are, compared with populations of other countries, particularly enthusiastic about the idea of meritocracy, a system that rewards merit (ability + effort) with success. Americans are more likely to believe that people are rewarded for their intelligence and skills and are less likely to believe that family wealth plays a key role in getting ahead.…
….one company study…examined almost 9,000 employees…at a large service-sector company. The company was committed to diversity and had implemented a merit-driven compensation system intended to reward high-level performance and to reward all employees equitably.
But analysis revealed some very non-meritocratic outcomes. Women, ethnic minorities, and non-U.S.-born employees received a smaller increase in compensation compared with white men, despite holding the same jobs, working in the same units, having the same supervisors, the same human capital, and importantly, receiving the same performance score. Despite stating that “performance is the primary bases for all salary increases,” the reality was that women, minorities, and those born outside the U.S. needed “to work harder and obtain higher performance scores in order to receive similar salary increases to white men.” ( “The False Promise of Meritocracy,” The Atlantic” )
When people talk (in both education and work settings) about rewarding merit, what they forget – what they don’t even think about – is that people often tend to equate merit with access to resources. Consider the children who had access to all kinds of experiences which make them look “well rounded” in school and job applications: dance, sports, music lessons from an early age, Scouting, summer camp and other extracurricular and cultural activities. Yes, perhaps at a certain point those kids had to motivate themselves to practice the violin, but the thing is, their parents could afford music lessons and instrument rentals in the first place.
That idea of pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps implies that you (a), have boots, and (b) the boots have straps on them.
At my father’s retirement party, a Black co-worker spoke about how my father had taken “under his wing” (championed and mentored) people who hadn’t traditionally been promoted in their agency, such as “minorities and women.” Before he retired my dad told me about a female co-worker – a secretary, whom he’d noticed had qualities which would be well-suited to the position of field agent. To the bafflement of his male peers, he recommended her for the agent training program. Dad said that, in his opinion, prejudice against women being promoted was more unconscious than overt: it wasn’t that, when looking to promote from within, managers evaluated the available pool of talent and realized, “Sue has the mathematical, investigative and organizational skills to be a good field agent – oh-oh, Sue’s a woman, never mind.” It’s that they didn’t even think of evaluating her in the first place, because she was a woman
My father’s mentoring of female and non-white agents was his contribution to affirmative action, although he probably didn’t think of it in those terms.
I’ve no doubt that my father, at some point in his life, used that bootstraps expression, in terms of overcoming his background of crushing poverty, under-education and family dysfunction.  Judging from other conversations we had over the years (and the fear-mongering literature from conservative religious and political organizations that I was sad to see on their coffee table, when I was visiting my parents at their home), I’m sure my father also fell for the conservative party line that affirmative action was bad and people who need aren’t qualified or don’t know how to “pull themselves up by their own bootstraps,” like he considered himself to have done.
Except, of course, that he didn’t.
The myth of the self-made man is just that – a myth. Everyone who “makes it” has been helped, either actively (e.g. having mentors and opportunities) or passively (being born into an advantaged class, or at least, *not* being born into a disadvantaged class).
My father’s father was illiterate; he never completed grade 2, never learned to read. My dad and his siblings were forced by their father  to drop out of school at age 13 (“They don’t need schooling to farm”) and contribute to the family resources. My father had no high school diploma, and was only able to go on to school after The War  because he was eligible for the GI Bill. He had no bootstraps to pull himself up by (except for his paratrooper boots), but that was ok, because the GI Bill gave him some.
President Bill Clinton declared [the GI Bill] “the best deal ever made by Uncle Sam,” adding that it “helped to unleash a prosperity never before known.”
For white people, that is.
The lack of access to a family home meant a long-term loss of wealth for black Americans. A family home purchased in 1946 in a good neighborhood with a strong tax base and solid schools, became financial wealth to pass onto family members, borrow against to start a business, or to send kids to college….
Historian Ira Katznelson has documented how and why black Americans received far less assistance from social programs than white Americans, and argues that the G.I bill was deliberately designed to accommodate Jim Crow laws. He cites a study declaring it was “as though the GI Bill had been earmarked ‘For White Veterans Only.’ ”
Thousands of black veterans were denied admission to colleges, loans for housing and business, and excluded from job-training programs. Programs funded by federal money were directed by local officials, who especially in the south, drastically favored white applicants over black…. (“How African American WWII Veterans Were Scorned By the G.I. Bill” The Progressive 11-10-17)
Despite my father’s background, he was able to go “back” to school, get an education, and apply for the kind of jobs that non-white GIs with similar (or worse, or better) backgrounds were not.
After getting a good job thanks to his GI Bill-enabled education, when my father and mother applied for a mortgage they were not subject to the discriminatory lending practices, redlining, and racial deed covenants which Black job applicants and prospective home-owners faced. If my parents were alive I’m sure we could have many “interesting” conversations  about these things, about the ways our society has been structured to promote and maintain the kind of systemic inequality that most of us (white) folks don’t think about, or even know about, because…well, because we don’t have to. It’s not in our face; it’s not part of our day-to-day experience. Sure, there were times when money was tight and my folks worried about paying the mortgage, but they were able to get a mortgage in the first place.
As a child, my father compared his circumstances to that of other tenant farm families, and the last thing he would have called himself was advantaged or privileged. But despite his family’s griding poverty, he was white and he was male – which in that time and place gave him a one-up over all females, and over any equally ambitious boy who may have even been better educated but whose skin was black. The poorest white boys was at least a white boy, guaranteed that there’d be someone (non-white or female) below him.
A (male) cyclist once offered this metaphor on privilege:
When a cyclist goes uphill against the wind, he is conscious of those obstacles. With every breath he takes, with every rotation of the pedals, he is aware that he’s going uphill against the wind. When he turns the corner, going downhill with the wind at his back, after a while he stops appreciating the advantage – he stops even noticing it. He just enjoys the ride…and eventually may even think, “Hey, I’m really fast.”
* * *
Pun For The Day
I got fired on my first day as a bank teller.
A customer asked me to check her balance, so I pushed her over.
* * *
May you pull someone else up with your bootstraps; May you never have to be (or live in) a buffer zone; May we all enjoy a ride downhill with the wind at our backs; …and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 Well, to some white folks. Others have known about this for hundreds of years.
 Yes, this is an important detail, or was to me at the time. I had noticed that in the “racially-charged” incidents at my high school, which was majority Hispanic-surnamed by the time I graduated, blonde females seemed to be particularly targeted for harassment. More than one Chicano friend confirmed my suspicions.
 They do not have the original paperwork anymore, so I may not get the exact wording correct, but the story they told me was burned on my brain.
 that we didn’t find out about it until his kids were well grown and in fact he died without knowing the extent of what we have come to know
 His mother finally stood up to his father with regards to the youngest child, and said, “This one gets to stay in school!” and so my Aunt Lucille got to graduate high school.
 He told us it was a college, but really, it was an accountancy trade school.
Department Of One Person‘s Cool Fact Is Another Person’s Bloodcurdling Nightmare
I count myself fortunate to be in the former camp, as per moiself’s reaction when I learned about the phenomenon known as spider rain.
Moiselfhad heard about spider “ballooning,” which is the way some hatchling spiders migrate and disperse.
But I didn’t know that a bunch of spiders ballooning at the same time is called a spider rain. Ain’t nature grand?
“Ballooning is a not-uncommon behavior of many spiders. They climb some high area and stick their butts up in the air and release silk. Then they just take off…. This is going on all around us all the time. We just don’t notice it.” (Rick Vetter, UCR arachnologist)
The reason people don’t usually notice this ingenious spider behavior is that it’s not common for millions of spiders to do this at the same time, and then land in the same place….In these kinds of events [spider rains], what’s thought to be going on is that there’s a whole cohort of spiders that’s ready to do this ballooning dispersal behavior, but for whatever reason, the weather conditions haven’t been optimal and allowed them to do that. But then the weather changes, and they have the proper conditions to balloon, and they all start to do it.” (Todd Blackledge, biology professor, University of Akron in Ohio).
(“Cloudy with a Chance of Arachnids?
Spider Rain’ Explained” livescience.com )
She’s ready for the spider rain; are you?
* * *
Department Of Celebrating That Which Also Needs Mourning
Thinking about the torturous path to women’s suffrage. As the hundredth anniversary of the 19th Amendment approaches, I’ve been listening to podcasts ( e.g., She Votes! Our Battle for the Ballot) and watching TV shows (e.g., American Experience: The Vote ) detailing the long history. Some of it I already knew, via college classes and independent reading. And, some of it I didn’t…and, as with many civil rights issues, learning the history is both illuminating and nauseating. The latter because of why there had to be a 19th amendment in the first place.
Two other amendments to the U.S. Constitution, the 14th – specifically, its first section, aka The Equal Protection Clause – and the 15th amendment in its entirety, should have taken care of that. Here are the referenced texts (my emphases)
Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
Section 1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.
Section 2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
The reason the 19th amendment was needed to give women the vote is because gender/sex needed to be mentioned specifically…because, until it was, the14th and 15th amendments would not be applied, to women, by male jurists and lawmakers. The only conclusion possible for as to why, given the gender neutral language of the above amendments, is because women were not considered to be included in the terms “people, or “citizens.”
All together now:
Moiself has also been ruminating on the broader implications behind one of the more common arguments which was presented against women’s suffrage: the idea that the awesome responsibility of voting would take women “out of the home.”
This idea was accompanied by the usual horseshit arguments re a woman’s supposed “delicate feminine nature/sensibilities,” which might be jostled by the strain of voting and civic engagement. That is an interesting juxtaposition with the argument that the importance and rigors of child-reading and household maintaining were such that only women were qualified to do them, yet no one argued that *those* particular rigors were too much for the delicate female nature.
Education; employment; political action – anything which might distract (read: unshackle) women from what was considered to be their primary sphere – taking care of home and husband and children – was threatening to most men. Some folks even used the lame argument that granting women equal voting rights to men would be a “come down” from women’s “superior” position That absurdity argument held that the raising of children made women the fictional proverbial power behind the throne, and that by raising future (male) leaders and voters women could more effectively influence public policy than by actually voting themselves. 
Really; they used that argument.
All of the emphasis on The Home ®- that a loving, stable, well-run household and the rearing of children are the foundations of civilization – guess what? No argument from moiself on that account – although I strongly differ as to the relegation of such important work to only one gender.
But using that reason – the paramount importance of household management and child-rearing – as an argument to deny voting to half the human population holds about as much water as a cheesecloth catheter bag.
Yep, I’m proud of that one.
The thing is, men truly didn’t believe the argument themselves, or they would have taken over the management of home and children.
Yes this is so incredibly important- the most important thing in the world, actually!…but we want someone else to do it, and we want them to remain mostly invisible, and have no political power.
History shows us that anything patriarchal societies deem to be of upmost importance they also declare women as being incapable of, and/or forbidden by “nature” (read: religion), of successfully doing.
If the preparation and maintaining of a household and the raising of children were indeed considered to be of supreme importance to society, where was the remuneration for doing so – then, as well as now? Child-rearing and household management, for women at least and for the most part, continue to be all-encompassing “jobs” which have no independent financial recompense, professional status, or safety net. 
So, yeah. The 100th anniversary of MORE THAN HALF THE CITIZENS OF THIS COUNTRY obtaining the right to vote…a mere ONE HUNDRED FORTY FOUR YEARS after their country is founded…is noteworthy, and the struggle for our country’s universal suffrage should be better known and taught. But the more I learn about what the struggle entailed, the less cartwheels I feel like doing.
And besides, mine would look something like this.
* * *
Department Of I Hate The Fact That The Analogy Is So Apropos
Friend JWW’s disturbingly astute observations, shared on Facebook, after the first presidential debate:
I am afraid of this president. If this is how he comports himself in front of the whole United States of America on national TV….
He was threatening and says if he does not win the election then things will not end well. What is that supposed to mean? If he doesn’t win what is he going to do? This makes me very frightened about what the future holds for the USA.
I am also afraid because I am a woman and this president sounds like an abusive husband or boyfriend. I am afraid because if a woman wants to leave a guy like that, she has to be afraid that if she does leave, he will come and hunt her down and kill her and her children. There is no way out. Restraining orders don’t work. So many women are killed even when the guy has a restraining order against him.
We need to vote him out. Vote him out. Vote him out.
And even then we are not sure he will leave.
* * *
Pun For The Day
Why hasn’t #45  ever finished a novel? Because he always gets stuck in Chapter 11.
* * *
May you remember to vote him out; May you remind everyone you know to vote him out; May you convince total strangers at the grocery store to vote him out; …and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 There were some women making the same argument, which should not be surprising, considered that they as well as men were subject to the same cultural mythos, forces and expectations.
 Other than via financial dependency upon a spouse, which can disappear at drop of a hat (as in a divorce decree or death certificate).
 There was nothing presidential about #45’s deportment.
 Aka Little Chief Bunker Bitch, and other assorted monikers employed by those of us who love our country and thus cannot bear to use the given name of the man who shits all over it.
As delighted as I am to be able to wish y’all a (belated) happy autumnal equinox, as we enter this, my favorite season of the year, I am girding my proverbial loins for the onslaught of pumpkin-spiced products which flood the market at this time of year (and which one day may include nutmeg, cloves & cinnamon scented, loin-girding cloths).
Yo, y’all marketing types: Are there no other scents or flavors or ambiances associated with autumn – falling leaves? bales of hay? football cleats? – which can be exploited?
It seems you can’t spit (and moiself has tried) without hitting a pumpkin spice candle, room deodorizer, latte, coffee creamer, soap, lotion, shampoo, syrup, dried pasta, yogurt pretzels, dinner mints, liqueurs…but wait – there’s more.
If the devil  came to your autumn housewarming party, his host gift to you would be a bottle of pumpkin spice vodka, and this:
* * *
Department Of 2020 Has Been Bad Enough, But… I REALLY DON’T NEED THIS IMAGE IN MY BRAIN, OKAY?!?!?!?!
Dateline: last Saturday; early afternoon. I eject the exercise DVD I’ve been flailing about to working out with, and my TV reverts to…some old western movie. As I return the DVD to its holder and begin to take off my shoes and socks, it’s apparently time for an advertisement break. The images on TV change from Men on Horses ® to a series of sad/frustrated/dispirited-looking men holding up various curved/sagging vegetables: a curvy carrot, an arced cucumber, a badly bent banana….
I find moiself longing for the days when advertisements for undergarments couldn’t even mention which portion of the body the garment was for.
Remember when the makers of bismuth subsalicylate and other GI tract elixirs assumed that the public knew what their products were used for and did not reinforce the idea by showing us line dancers doing routines demonstrating which symptom they represented (e.g., Pepto Bismol’s Diarrhea Dame clutches her derriere)?
On second thought, more line dancers grabbing their butts! Less bendy bananas!
* * *
Department Of It Was A Phenomenon Looooooooong Before It Had A Name
Every woman knows what I’m talking about. It’s the presumption that makes it hard, at times, for any woman in any field; that keeps women from speaking up and from being heard when they dare; that crushes young women into silence by indicating, the way harassment on the street does, that this is not their world. It trains us in self-doubt and self-limitation just as it exercises men’s unsupported overconfidence…..
Men explain things to me, still. And no man has ever apologized for explaining, wrongly, things that I know and they don’t. Not yet, but according to the actuarial tables, I may have another forty-something years to live, more or less, so it could happen. Though I’m not holding my breath.
After hearing yet another friend’s story of Yet Another One Of Those Workplace Encounters, ® I’ve been thinking of the origin of mansplaining. As in, thinking that the woman who originated the term should get a Nobel Prize for Explicative Clarity. 
The term “mansplaining” was inspired by, but not specifically used in, the 2008 essay by author Rebecca Solnit, which I’ve excerpted above. Definitely a recommended read for anyone – make that, everyone – whether or not you’ve ever mansplained, or have been on the receiving end of a mansplaination, or don’t understand what the fuss is about.
My friend’s story reminded me of another story, one that returns to me now and then, ever since I read it,  which was at least three decades ago. The story, a brief recounting of a specific incident, was included in a writer’s longer magazine article on fatherhood. I don’t recall the entirety of the article, but the gist of that one incident the Writer/Dad shared is forever burned on my brain.
Writer Dad (WD) was working in his home office one weekend when his five-year-old daughter, “Junie,” came inside to see him. Junie had been outside with “Johnny,” a neighbor boy who was her frequent playmate. WD noticed that Junie seemed annoyed, yet also, oddly, thoughtful.
“What’s up, Junie-girl?”  WD asked his daughter.
“I’m mad, Daddy-man.”
“I can see that. Why are you mad, Junie-girl?”
“I don’t think I’m going to play with Johnny anymore. I don’t think I’m going to play with *any* boys anymore. I don’t think I like boys.”
“Why is that?”
“Because they tell you things you already know.”
“Oh… Um…not all boys do this, right?”
Junie nodded. “All boys.”
WD tried to placate her with his best Daddy-man smile. “Even me?”
She paused before responding with a resignation beyond her years. “Even you.”
* * *
Department Of Mansplaining ‘Splained
On July 19, 2018 writer and designed Kim Goodwin came to the rescue on Twitter, with this post, followed by her brilliant diagram on the subject.
“I have had more than one male colleague sincerely ask whether a certain behavior is mansplaining. Since apparently this is hard to figure out, I made one of them a chart.”
* * *
Pun For The Day
I saw an ad for burial plots, and thought, “That’s the last thing I need.”
* * *
Department Of A Blast From The Past Which In Some Ways Reminds Me Of The Present
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away (okay; 1998), I was visiting my parents at their home in Santa Ana (CA). On top of the pile of periodicals suffocating their coffee table was the latest issue of a popular weekly news magazine.  Bold, fiery red letters announced the magazine’s cover stor, which was along the lines of,
“1968 – The Year That Shook The World.“
At that time, every other magazine and news outlet were doing stories on the 30th anniversary of 1968. I’d read several such stories, and was happy to see that magazine at my parents’ house, as it provided me with the opportunity to engage my mother in a conversation about 1968, which had been a pivotal year for people all over the world.
My mother wasn’t much for talking politics; even so, she sat down with me and began to reminisce. She remembered the morning in early June when I came out of my bedroom, groggy-eyed and complaining about a very disturbing dream I’d had in which Bobby Kennedy’s helicopter was shot down in our backyard… And I remembered how I looked up into her red eyes, realized that she’d been crying, and then she told me she and Dad had just learned that Senator Robert Kennedy had been assassinated the previous evening.
What with the assassination of MLK two months earlier, the nascent second wave feminist movement, the ongoing Vietnam War and student protests and civil rights protests and unrest around the world….. I recalled 1968 as the beginning of my political awareness, even as I recall my parents saying little if anything whenever I brought “things” up.
Mom admitted she’d used the “changing the subject” strategy when I’d wanted to talk about current events. She said she thought it was her duty to protect her children from depressing information over which they had no control (although she didn’t protect us from reading the newspaper or watching the TV news). Thus, even though she herself was very concerned about “everything that was going on,” she thought she had to maintain a sunny outlook for her kids and act as if everything was okay. “But sometimes…” Marion Parnell shook her head. “That was such a difficult year.”
I remember, it was as if a shadow had crossed over my mother’s face, even though the So Cal sun shown brightly through my parents’ family room window.
“Sometimes,” she murmured, “it felt as if the whole world was on fire… “
What made me think of 1968 is some of the streaming I’ve been doing, of episodes of a particular classic television show. History shows us that chaotic times often lead to the rise of dictators and fascist supermen, who promise security in exchange for liberty. As we presently deal with the COVID-19 pandemic and world economic insecurity, as well as the ramifications of *not* having every dealt with our country’s legacy of slavery and systemic racial injustice, and of having essentially ignored global warming with the resulting magnifying of wildfires and other “natural” disasters, all of this and more compounded by the political and personal corruption and gruesome lack of leadership by a puerile, tyrant-toadying excuse for a president and his sycophantic enablers, I’ve been seeking a nostalgia solace by watching reruns of a sketch comedy show which was launched during the chaos of 50 years ago.
Laugh-In (officially Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In) ran from 1968 – 1973; episodes are available via various streaming platforms, and I’m working my way through the seasons. Even as I’m (re)loving the episodes – for as much as the memories they bring back as well as the content of the episodes themselves – I’m well aware of the catch inherent for shows which strive to be topical: as you look back, the material is (of course and by definition) dated, and in some cases, even arcane. But, that’s part of the fun, for moiself.
I’ve no doubt that my young adult children would be somewhat confused (even bored), in the And just why is this funny? vein, by the show…and I must admit that many of Laugh-In’s slapstick schtick, gags and punchlines fall flat in 2020.
My offspring have grown up in a time when TV shows announce what MH and I call The Five Major Food Groups ratings (MATURE SUBJECT MATTER- SEX – VIOLENCE – FEAR -ADULT LANGUAGE). It is difficult if not impossible to have someone who wasn’t there appreciate the era in which Laugh-In began its run. How do I adequately impart to them what simple, naughty fun it was for a 12-year-old, taking turns watching Laugh-Inwith her friends at each other’s houses, giggling over the fact that the show’s sex and drug references are going right over our parents’ heads (and probably ours as well)?
In each episode I’ve seen there are several sketches/jokes about political or cultural hot button issues at that time, which make me stop and try to remember the references (“Ooh – that guy was a Nixon cabinet member…?”). Also, Laugh-In was not only topical culturally, but locally: it was shot in So Cal (in legendary “Beautiful Downtown Burbank“), and the writers inserted regional references into their skits. MH is 5 ½ years younger than moiself; although he does recall watching Laugh-In it was the show’s regional references, and not its sex & drugs jokes, which confused him, as a seven-year-old Minnesotan. Even today, watching the reruns with me (which he does only as a last resort; i.e. when I’ve commandeered the TV), why would he get – or care about – decades-old jokes about Sam Yorty (Los Angeles’ mayor during Laugh-In‘s run)?
It’s been fun getting reacquainted with my favorite recurring sketches and characters. The Joke Wall; the Party; Tiny Tim, Wolfgang the German soldier (“Verrrrry interesting…”) ; Uncle Al the Kiddies’ Pal; Joanne Worley’s operatic complaints about chicken jokes and “Bo-oooooring!” and her never-seen boyfriend, Boris; Big Al’s Sports (and his “featurette tinkle”); Goldie Hawn’s giggling, vacant-eyed, Dumb Dora persona; “Here Come Da Judge,” The Farkel Family; Judy Carne’s Robot Theatre and “Sock-it-to me”…
Have there ever been a better-named pair of characters than Gladys Ormphby and Tyrone F. Horneigh?  And the worlds of television, cinema and theatre are forever in Laugh-In‘s debt for introducing us to Lily Tomlin. Her best known Laugh-In personas are Ernestine and Edith Ann, but my favorite of Tomlin’s characters was The Tasteful Lady.
Re-watching these episodes decades after they were broadcast, it’s amazing to realize that, despite the show being considered progressive, bawdy, and outrageous for its time…how do I put this? There’s no getting around how sexist much of the material was (but then, so was the country). And Laugh-In was only slightly less dated on much of its racial and cultural content (the few references to Native Americans were especially, stereotypically, cringe-worthy). But, that was then and this is now. I’ll forgive the show almost anything, because it gave the world arguably my favorite comic dialogue, from Tyrone’s and Gladys’ “hereafter” sketch:
* * *
May you never contract a disease which can be represented by a droopy vegetable; May we soon live in a world where we don’t have to ‘splain mansplaining; May you always know what you’re here after; …and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 Of course, the devil would not come to such a party because he doesn’t exist. Those who know moiself realize that the supposition of devils and/or evil spirits is something in which I do not believe. Human behavior covers the spectrum – we do not need the supernatural to explain (or excuse) acts of cruelty…or kindness.
 As per those upright citizens of the Mayo Clinic, “Peyronie’s (pay-roe-NEEZ) disease is a noncancerous condition resulting from fibrous scar tissue that develops on the penis and causes curved, painful erections.”
 There is no such Nobel Prize, but maybe there should be.
Department Ah, Morning, With The Delicate Aroma Of Horseshit Wafting Through The Air Sub Department Of Yet Another Reason Not To Check Facebook Before Breakfast
A wise and witty friend recently posted this on her FB site:
Right on!, moiself thought. I began to read one of the comments on her post, one which started with a teensy provocative sentence, and then, there was that blue more…
I should have left it at that, but, noooooooo. I had to click on more, and there was more. And more, and more, and more – and did I mention, *more*?
*More* turned out to be a multi-paragraph treatise of Buddhist proselytizing, starting with how we should remember that there are also poor and downtrodden white people  who don’t feel particularly privileged (which should have clued me in – it’s the, “But, all lives matter!” equivalent of deflection from the issue), and how people’s choices and actions in life lead to their circumstances, plus many other Buddhist tenets…. 
At least it wasn’t pimply-faced kids half your age showing up on your front porch, calling themselves, “Elder.”
I thought about privately messaging Wise and Witty Friend, something along the lines of, Hey, WWF, would you allow someone to post a fundamentalist Christian tract on your page, because some Karma fundamentalist has just done the equivalent. It turns out WWF was way ahead of me, and deleted the comment soon after it was posted. Dang. Now I have to slag it from memory.
BTW, be it the Christian version, or Buddhist/Hindu/Karmic fundamentalism, I call BS on all of ’em. So, let the specific slagging begin.
The Buddhist Evangelical Fundamentalist Commenter (BEFC) quoted a Buddhist adage:
Sweet, and harmless, right?
Wrong. Especially as per the issues of privilege and systemic racism that the Black Lives Matter movement is bringing to the fore…as well as a host of other life situations.
As I read BEFC’s proselytizing prose I flashed back to a bar conversation I’d had many years ago,  with a friend who’d emigrated to the USA (with his parents) from India when he was an adolescent. We were  talking religion; specifically, his refutation of his religious background (although, in part to please his family, he kept up with a few of what he considered to be non-religious, cultural practices). He simply could not overlook the damage done by the concepts of karma and reincarnation (central to both Hinduism and Buddhism).
Karma…though its specifics are different depending on the religion… generally denotes the cycle of cause and effect — each action a person takes will affect him or her at some time in the future. This rule also applies to a person’s thoughts and words…. With karma, like causes produce like effects: a good deed will lead to a future beneficial effect, while a bad deed will lead to a future harmful effect…. Importantly, karma is wrapped up with the concept of reincarnation or rebirth, in which a person is born in a new human (or nonhuman) body after death. The effects of an action can therefore be visited upon a person in a future life, and the good or bad fortune someone experiences may be the result of actions performed in past lives. What’s more, a person’s karmic sum will decide the form he or she takes in the next life. (LiveScience, “What is Karma?”)
To summarize an hour-long discourse, the gist of my friend’s opinion: Besides being superstitious nonsense physically and intellectually unsubstantiated, karma essentially credits people for their successes and blames them for their failures. Your success is justified because it is either something you have achieved yourself in the here and now or it is the result of your good deeds in your previous life – the fact that you happened to be born in a powerful class/caste/gender/time period can be conveniently ignored. As for that poor Dalit (aka, “Untouchable“) man you sometimes run across, who does your laundry, sweeps your streets, unblocks your sewers with this bare hands and does other “unclean” work out of economic necessity? Yeah, that’s unfortunate for him, but who are you to interfere with his experience of cause and effect? It’s his karma; obviously, he did something bad in his previous life and/or has something to work out in this one….
There are so many Life Factors we humans don’t – or don’t wish to – understand (or even acknowledge), including those of luck and circumstance. In particular, people who are happy and successful are often hesitant to attribute their well-off circumstances, even in part, to the happenstance of their birth into the “right” (or at least more opportunity-providing) society/class/ethnicity/gender. People can be reluctant, even nervous, to admit that not everything is in their own control. This reluctance paves the way for religion/supernaturalism to step in with, “Don’t worry – here’s the answer!” or, “Sure, there *is* an answer, but it’s too much for mere mortal minds to comprehend so just trust in what we tell you and one day in the future/heaven/your next life you’ll get it….”
As to BEFC’s presentation, certainly the attitude embodied in the Buddhist saying (about the journey from blaming others, yourself, and then no one), has some merit, in the positive mindset/know thyself realm. But to avoid the fact that some things are mostly or even entirely out of your hand, and that sometimes other people and/or social frameworks and institutions *are* to blame – ignoring reality is not how we combat injustice.
The karma concept has always reminded me of a much-loathed – by moiself, at least – allegedly inspirational phrase from my own culture, which states that it is admirable and possible to Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps. The thing is, in order to pull yourself up by your own bootstraps, you have to have a pair of boots in the first place – you either can afford a pair of boots, or someone has given you boots. With straps.
Although I’m onboard with RuPaul pulling up any boot with any kind of strap.
A Black American family, working and saving diligently to be first-time home owners, can have the most positive attitude in the world, but when their mortgage application is denied, their “blaming no one” will not help them “arrive” on their journey to financial security when that loan denial is due to reasons out of their control.  “Blaming no one” will not alleviate the injustice when the family has been redlined, due to their skin color and/or the neighborhood in which they currently live and/or the neighborhood where the house they wish to purchase is located.
The concept of karma arose and survived because, like all religious philosophies, it tries to explain the unexplainable, and many of us are uncomfortable with uncertainty. Life is complex; there is much we don’t understand, about the physical world around us and the inner world of people’s thoughts motivations, and humans evolved to see and seek patterns even where none exist. But worldviews which admit to this reality – “Hey, this stuff is complicated and no one has all the answers” – don’t get many followers (and even fewer collection plate donations and tax credits).
Ah, karma. “What goes around comes around“…if only. Don’t we all know too many people whose actions merit shit pie, yet Life keeps serving them Crème Brûlée?
“For every action there is an equal and opposite re-action”
Karma and other religious principles are sometimes quoted as if they were one of Newton’s Laws of Motion, yet they are not even close to qualifying as laws of physics, let alone testable hypotheses. The karmic premises of cause and effect –
“each action (as well as a person’s thoughts and words) a person takes will affect him or her at some time in the future,” and “like causes produce like effects”
(1) presumptuous; (2) not borne out by objective data, and often refuted by experience; (3) antithetical to the reality of injustice and systemic bigotry; (4) aren’t the first three reasons enough?
Most abhorrent of all, whether you call it karma or one of those other, “You can do whatever you dream/You make your own reality” philosophies, such concepts lay the foundation for victim-blaming.
“… the accused had entered the West Delhi residence of the minor with the intent to ransack, but attacked (a 12-year-old girl) after she spotted him….
Besides the sexual assault, the girl was hit on the face and head with a sharp object. She was found lying in a pool of blood by her neighbours….
The girl has multiple head fractures and bite marks all over her body. She has been brutally assaulted to the extent that there are injury marks on every part of her body….” (“Two days after 12-year-old beaten, sexually assaulted, one held Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who visited the hospital, said the brutality inflicted on the girl has “shaken is soul” and the government will hire the best lawyers to bring the guilty to justice.” Indianexpress.com)
Two disturbing facts of life are that (1) sometimes people chose to do bad things and good people can simply be in the wrong place at the wrong time; and (2) cultural/gender privilege and systemic bias exist. But people won’t try to change that which they won’t acknowledge as existing…or which can be explained away by concepts like karma.
The white 16-year-old by pulled over by a cop for a minor traffic infraction (then let go with a warning) has the privilege of escaping violent stereotypes associated with his race, in a way that his 16-year-old Black classmate – pulled over for the same infraction yet subjected to an unwarranted drug test/vehicle and body search by the suspicious cop – does not. Neither boy is experiencing the “karma” – or “cause and effect” – of their own relatively short lives; rather, their immediate circumstances are determined by the biases of others who hold power over them.
Nothing that 12-year-old girl (in the above news story) did or could ever do is responsible for or related to the brutality which was done to her. Anyone who would even entertain a mindset which would allow for that possibility needs to wash out their mind with soap.
* * *
Departments Of Exceptions To The Rule
Moiself is, however, grateful for whomever dreamed up the concept of karma, if only for the fact that it (eventually) led to one of the best “The Far Side” cartoons, ever.
I wasn’t able to find the cartoon itself, so use your imagination. First, picture the silhouette of a classic Far Side Woman. ®
The cartoon consists of a single panel: two flies are on a refrigerator door. Looming over and behind them we see the shadow of Far Side Woman ®, her upraised arm holding a fly swatter. One fly says to the other,
“I guess I should have been nicer to my wife when I was alive;
this is the third time I’ve been reincarnated as a fly in her kitchen.”
* * *
Department Of Idiocy Makes My Brain Hurt Sub-Department Of Let’s Just Cancel those Pesky Qualities of Imagination And Empathy, Part 102.7 In A Contemptibly Long Series Adjunct to the Sub-Sub Division Of Why My Own Profession Has Left A Bad Taste In My Mouth For Years
One of the worst things for writers is not to be censored, but to self-censor in fear of crossing the sensibilities and preferences of others.
I’ve written before of my frustration with and loathing for the “cultural appropriation” tribalism/mob mentality that has infected the world of literary fiction…and I’ll doubtless have cause to lament about it again. The latest instigation was a Fresh Air interview (a rerun, which I heard for the first time, this week) with actor/producer Kerry Washington.
Washington has been nominated for Emmy awards for acting in and co-producing the series, “Little Fires Everywhere,” which was adapted from the bestselling novel by Celeste Ng. Washington is Black; in the novel, the ethnicity of Mia, the character Washington plays, is never mentioned. Podcast host Terry Gross asked Washington how changing the character’s race changed the story and the story’s subtext. Washington said that casting herself in the role was the idea of her producing partners.
Washington (my emphases):
“…They had the idea to call me up and send me the book and ask me if I wanted to do it. And I thought it was an amazing idea. Of course, when I read it, I was reading it through the lens of Mia being Black because I’m Black. I think the novel is so much about identity and how the roles and the context of our identity contributes to how we live and relate to others in the world. So we knew that adding this layer of race would add to that complexity in an exciting way.
Then when I met Celeste Ng, the writer, for the first time, she actually admitted to me that she had always thought of Mia as a woman of color and that she had been drawn to the idea of writing Mia as a Black woman. But she didn’t feel like she had the authoritative voice to do that in the right way.”
I felt sucker-punched to hear that…yet I was hardly surprised. I’ve little doubt that author Ng’s hesitation about her “authoritative voice” was due to her anticipating charges of cultural appropriation (and the very real possibility of being boycotted by publishers, who would fear such a backlash): as in, how dare Ng think that she, an Asian (read: non-Black) writer, could create a full-blooded, multi-faceted, Black character?
* Although the Asian-American author imagined a Black woman as this lead character, she couldn’t bring herself to actually write her as such;
* Nevertheless, this Asian/non-Black writer was so successful in creating a compelling story about “identity and how the roles and the context of our identity contributes to how we live and relate to others in the world” that a Black actor could identify with this lead character as Black;
* And it was acceptable for the series’ casting director and other lead actor and producers to suggest casting the character as Black, and the Black actor allowed herself to take the role (“an amazing idea”), which was created by an Asian, non-Black writer….
* * *
Department Of Worst First (and last) Date Ever
Dateline: an early morning walk, listening to a Curiosity Daily (“a unique mix of research-based life hacks, the latest science and technology news”). One of the podcast’s topics was how male angler fish fuse with their mates without risking immune system rejection.
Narration: “… (the) male angler fish latches on, and begins to dissolve. As his tissues and circulatory system meld with the female’s, eventually most of his body parts and organs disintegrate, leaving his girl with only a pair of reproductive organs to remember him by. This is called sexual parasitism, and it’s totally unique to the anglerfish…”
Moiself : ” ‘Sexual parasitism is unique to the angler fish’ ” – really? ‘Cause I’ve heard stories from friends that would curl your hair (or dissolve your organs)….”
I’m thinking, is there a Barry White song which could possibly make this kind of coupling bearable? Nope; nada. Gotta be something more post-punk….
* * *
Department Of News Stories Like This Make Moiself Struggle With My Humanity… Because I Am *So* On The Side Of The First Victim
This post, earlier this week on Facebook, from an Oregon Coast news bulletin board:
HUNTER KILLED BY ELK ” (Man, name; age, residence) was archery hunting on private property…. Man wounded a 5X5 bull elk but was unable to locate it before dark. Man and the landowner attempted to find the wounded bull on the morning of (the next day) at approximately 9:15 A.M., Man located the bull and attempted to kill it with his bow. The elk charged Man and gored him in the neck with its antlers. The landowner attempted to help Man but he sustained fatal injuries and died. The elk was killed and the meat was donated to the Tillamook County Jail….”
The lead sentence (which I omitted) in the post was, “Please send prayers for the family!” Moiself’s instinctive (if admittedly unsympathetic) reaction was, “F*** no; he got what he deserved! The elk was tortured, wandering for over 12 hours with a grievous wound….”
It was nice (? perhaps moiself should seek another word) to realize, as per several comments on the article, that I was not the only heartless judgmental bastard person concerned with the issue behind the issue:
* for the elk, this was literally a matter of life and death
* for the hunter, it was sport, and maybe some tasty elk steaks for the freezer 
Along with the posts saying, “Prayers to the deceased and his family”, I spotted several comments along the lines of, “Prayers for the poor elk’s family & friends.”
Whaddya think – would I look just as majestic decapitated and mounted above someone’s fireplace?
* * *
May you enjoy the exceptions to the rules; May you cherish the simple windfalls of life, like not having an angler fish for a mate; May you never give an elk (or any other animal) cause to think, “It’s him or me!”; …and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 Nothing about the concept of white privilege claims or implies that there are no poor/struggling white folk….arrrrrrgh.
 With which I was mostly familiar, although there are several streams of Buddhist thought, and without the original post I cannot say for sure if the post-er was referencing Mahayana, Theravada, Vajrayana, or modern variants and “branches” of the those streams.
 As in, Wine and Deep Thoughts ® were involved.
 Part of our conversation included the fact that, by even acknowledging the Indian caste system, he might be creating “bad karma” for himself, as many higher-caste Indians who now live in America – and if they have the means to come here they are from the higher castes – surprise! – would rather pretend, in front of non-Indian Americans, that such a thing goes not exist. The social stratification of Indian society – including the emphasis of skin color and the bias against dark skin – is seen as an embarrassing cultural relic, yet, since it benefits them…why work to change it?
 With the emphasis on sport. Subsistence hunters don’t go for elk with bows and arrows on their landowner friend’s private acreage, and don’t care if it the animal they hunt, out of absolute necessity, is a “5×5″( a ranking system which refers to the points in each side of the antler rack).
Excuse moiself? I am not saying it will make *total* sense, so I see no need for the sarcastic intrusion….
I’ll begin again.
This week’s post is the second of a two-parter. It will make a lot more sense  if you read (or reread) last week’s post (here) first. That said….
I was in the fifth grade. One day my classmate Kelly told me her said she could invite me to her house after school to go swimming. I usually wriggled out of invitations which involved spending time inside Kelly’s house, which was…disheartening. It was dark, even in the summer, even with the lights on, and it was – I cringe today to think it, just as I did back then, but there’s no way around it – just filthy. It reeked of old trash and cat urine; the one time I’d had a sleepover there I spotted cockroaches in the kitchen when Kelly’s older sister showed Kelly and I how to make fudge from scratch.
Kelly’s widowed mother, whom I liked (she was kind to me and told funny jokes, and knew all the words to my favorite Simon and Garfunkel songs), worked long hours as a hospital nurse. She apparently had neither the time nor inclination to clean house, and was unable to convince or command her three children to do so, either. But Kelly’s backyard consisted of a swimming pool! She was the only friend I knew who had one, and I eagerly accepted her invitation. I’ll need to go home, check with my mom, and get my swimsuit and a towel, I told her. Kelly suggested she ride on the back of my bike with me to my house to get my stuff, then we’d go to her place.
I peddled us toward my house, with Kelly perched on the bookrack attached to my bike’s rear axle. As we reached the main part of Martha Lane (ML) I updated Kelly about the ML kids’ war with the neighborhood cranks.
“That’s them,” I said, pointing to the Wagners’ house, when we were about 100 feet away. “The brown house up there on the left.”
“Can we sing it – let’s sing The Song!” Kelly begged me. But without my ML crew to back me up, I was too chicken hesitant. Then when we were about forty feet from the Wagners’ house, I noticed that their ever-present Cadillac was not in their driveway. I figured they were not home, and it was safe.
I slowed down, and told Kelly we could sing The Song, but not loudly. Kelly teased me for my lack of vocal enthusiasm (“That’s not singing, that’s practically whispering“) as I peddled us past the Wagner house.
♫ We hate you Wagners/
oh yes we do….♫
When we got to my house my older sister, already home from her school and engrossed in homework, informed me that our mother had gone to the grocery store. I decided not to tell her what Kelly and I had done. I wanted her approval, but thought Kelly would rat me out for being chickenshit and only singing The Song when I thought the Wagners weren’t home. I told my sister to tell Mom that I was going to Kelly’s house. I put my swimsuit on under my clothes, Kelly hopped onto the back of my bike, and we headed off.
As I steered my bicycle out of our driveway a brownish-gold sedan crossed Pacific Ave into our cul-de-sac. It caught my attention because it was not any of the neighbor’s cars (that I recognized) and was driving very slowly. The sedan circled the end of the cul-de-sac, then drove right up alongside my bicycle as I stopped to check for cross traffic at Pacific Ave.
The driver was clad in a suit and hat which matched the color of his car. He rolled down his window and signaled with his hand for me to come closer. I stood stock still, my feet planted on either side of my bike’s frame. He’s probably one of those perverts who tries to kidnap kids, I thought. I began to calculate how long it would take Kelly and I to hop off of my bike and run back to my house.
“Are you the girls who rode a bicycle down this street a few minutes ago?” Sedan Man pointed up Martha Lane, in the direction of the Wagner house.
Kelly mumbled something to me. “Don’t talk to him,” I shushed Kelly. I looked the man squarely in the eyes, trying to appear as savvy and tough as possible. “He’s a stranger; we don’t know who he is.”
Sedan Man repeated his question. I could feel my bicycle frame shaking, and reached my hand back to reassure Kelly, who was trembling. “Go away,” I said to him, “or we’ll call the police.”
“I *am* the police.” Sedan Man pulled a wallet from his suit breast pocket and held out an ID card which had his picture on it and a Santa Ana Police Department shield.
“That’s not a police car,” I said to Kelly.
“I’m a detective.” Sedan Man waved his ID card. He said was investigating harassment charges brought by the Wagners, and needed to speak with my parents. I should return home *now* he insisted, pointing toward my house.
“He saw where we came from,” Kelly whispered. She pleaded with me to return home. We both got off my bicycle and walked back to back to my driveway as the man parked his sedan in front of my house. I was determined *not* to let him inside; I leaned my bicycle against the massive Japanese elm in our front yard and led Kelly up the front yard walkway to sit beside me n the concrete steps of our front porch – the entry no one in the family (and no one who knew us) used.  Sedan Detective Man followed us to the porch. He stood over us, with one foot on the walkway and the other on the porch’s bottom step, and began to question us.
He wanted to speak with my parents; where were they? Would I go get them, or should he knock on the door? I told him my father was at work and would be home after 7 pm, my mother was at the store and would be back any minute, and my older siblings were inside watching TV (I only had one older sibling but I wanted him to think there were a lot of people in my house). He asked the same questions of Kelly, who said nothing. She sat beside me, silently staring down at her shoes.
The Wagners were being harassed by the ML kids, Sedan Detective Man said. The police knew all about it, he added, and Kelly and I were “in serious trouble.” He demanded to speak to my parents; I replied as before: “My dad’s at work; he’ll be back after 7. My mom’s at the store; she’ll be back soon.”
Sedan Detective Man turned his gaze to Kelly and asked about her parents. I began to explain that Kelly didn’t live in this neighborhood; he jabbed his long, bony index finger in my direction, silenced me with a glare, and repeated his question to Kelly. She was obviously frightened as he pressed her for information. She managed to squeak out that her mother at work. She was a nurse, and wouldn’t be back until her shift was over, around 11:30 pm…. her voice trailed off.
“What about your father? Hey, look at me when I’m talking to you. Tell me how I can contact your father – I need to speak with him.”
Kelly briefly raised her head. “My dad…” she lowered her eyes. I could see her chin begin to quiver.
“‘My dad…'” The detective mocked Kelly’s high-pitched, quavering voice. “Your dad, what? You have a dad, right? I need to speak to him.”
Kelly hugged her knees to her chest and shook her head, almost imperceptibly, as if she had a nervous tic.
“What does that mean – I can’t speak with your dad? Why? Is he out of town? Did he leave you and your mom – are your parents divorced?”
A tear dribbled down Kelly’s cheek and dropped onto her knee. I thought I might explode with suppressed rage, and just for a moment wondered how much time I would get “in juvie” for head-butting a detective’s nutsack.
“Stop it,” I muttered to Sedan Man, through clenched teeth.
Like a school bully or a shark smelling blood, the detective homed in on the perceived weaker target. He kept pressing Kelly, who was visibly shaking at this point.
What about your father – when is he available? I can’t wait until midnight to talk with your mother. Tell me where your father is – why won’t you look up, are you ashamed of him….
Kelly let out a low moan, and began pinching the skin of her forearm with her thumb and index finger.
I interrupted the detective with all of the, *none-of-your-fucking business,* fifth-grade gravitas I could muster.
“You can’t talk to her father. He’s dead.”
Several years earlier Kelly’s parents had separated, and her father moved out of the family house to an apartment. The day after Kelly’s mother went to his apartment and confronted him with proof of his infidelity, Kelly’s father shot himself in the head.
The detective, of course, had no way of knowing this. Even so, Kelly’s distress was evident, and he continued to badger an anguished child.
Well, why didn’t you say your dad had died? Why didn’t you just….
At that propitious moment, our station wagon pulled into our driveway. My mother left a sack of groceries in the passenger’s seat and walked toward us, a look of polite confusion on her face as she beheld a strange man standing over her daughter and her daughter’s friend – all three of them on the front porch, where *nobody* went.
The detective’s entire demeanor changed with an adult present, which made me despise him all the more. His malevolent mien morphed into one of professional solicitude, and he introduced himself to my mother with a smile and a doff of his hat.
I inched closer to Kelly, wanting to comfort her without embarrassing her – I could tell she did not want my mother to know that she’d been crying. Meanwhile, the two adults talked, at first as if Kelly and I were not present. The detective informed my mother of the situation; she listened, then asked me if Kelly and I had sung The Song. I looked her in the eye and said that we had, but we thought the Wagners weren’t home, and…. She put up her hand, motioning for me to stop talking. She told the detective that yes, the neighborhood children had perhaps taken their pranks too far, but did the detective know what the Wagners had done to egg them on? And Kelly did not live on Martha Lane, and had nothing to do with….
I was amazed to hear my mother speak to the detective. She was a shy person, introverted with strangers, particularly male authority figures – and back then all males were authority figures (or acted as if they were) to all women. My mother had heretofore never displayed anything I would have mistaken for a spine; it must have taken a lot for her to stand her ground with that man. He asked more questions of her, all of which she politely but firmly deflected. She told him that he needed to speak with her husband about the matter, and if he’d give her his business card she would have her husband call him.
The detective left his card with my mother and left our street with me throwing silent curses at his butt-ugly, doggy-doo-colored sedan. My mother asked me to take the groceries inside and set the table for dinner, and said she’d give Kelly a ride home. I never found out what, if anything, she and Kelly talked about on the ride; the next day at school both Kelly and I pretended that the previous day had never happened.
That evening, mere minutes after my father got home from work  and had spoken with my mother, I stood with my back to the living room wall, listening to my father as he spoke on the kitchen telephone  with the detective.
My father prided himself on his diplomacy, which was in full force that evening. He was firm and reasonable, considerate but not quite conciliatory. What follows is his end of the conversation, from memory, as paraphrased by moiself . He started with introductions and personal chitchat, deftly and swiftly gleaning that the detective also had teen and preteen children. He told the detective that
“the neighborhood teenagers”  had taken things a bit too far, but the police likely did not know all the facts. I will declare the Wagners and their house off-limits to our family and will spread the word among the other Martha Lane parents, but I also need you to realize something: the children’s behavior is immature to say the least, but these are *kids.* What is Mr. and Mrs. Wagner’s excuse – who are the “adults” in this situation? It is unlikely the Wagners have admitted to you their *years* of harassment of the neighborhood (both children, and their parents). The Wagners played an equal part in this vendetta – in fact, it began with them. If you would interview other families in the neighborhood you would find out about that. And both you and I, as parents, know that when adults hassle kids past a certain point, even good kids will fight back.”
After speaking with the detective, my father telephoned Mr. Wagner. He told Mr. Wagner that the kids were in the wrong; Mr. Wagner told my father that Mrs. Wagner was suffering health effects from being harassed by the neighborhood children, and agreed that things had gotten out of hand. It was interesting to listen to my father saying something that, if you didn’t know the context, would sound nonsensical: the children should “stop their singing their songs” and that perhaps everyone, the children of Martha Lane and the Wagners, could just steer clear of one another?
After an unusually silent dinner time my parents excused my younger sister from the table and asked her to take our toddler brother to the living room to watch TV. My parents remained at the kitchen table, and spoke privately with my older sister and I. My father did most of the talking. In a serious but not angry manner, he told us what had transpired with his phone calls (I said nothing about my eavesdropping). We were to stop all contact with the Wagners, and inform our friends that the Wagner house was a demilitarized zone – off limits to all; no exceptions. The Wagners agreed to drop their harassment charges, but were prepared to reinstate them if there were any more “incidents” (the detective told my father that the case would remain open for a couple of weeks to “see how things go.”).
Later that evening my father phoned several of the neighborhood children’s parents and explained the situation to them. He asked them to spread the word to other parents: the children of Martha Lane are to act as if the Wagners do not exist. And, that was that, my parents said. It’s over.
Except that for me, it wasn’t. Unbeknownst to my parents or siblings, I cried myself to sleep that night, and for weeks afterward.
If only she’d had a baby sloth to hug.
It’s funny to me, in retrospect, how adults neglect to explain How Things Work ® to children, because their adult minds don’t go down all the paths that a child’s mind will take. I thought I had a criminal record! And that it would follow me the rest of my life! That made me feel frightened, anxious, hopeless…and fence-kicking, hornet-spitting, furious.
I feared my parents were disappointed in me, and me alone. And I was steaming angry about the fact that the majority of the “harassment” tactics had come from the older kids – teens, like my sister, The Consummate Good Girl/Model Child ®. My sister and her friend made up that damn stupid song, had sung it with their friends “at” the Wagners, then taught it to me and my friends and urged us to sing it whenever we could….and guess who got caught?
In my family’s script my older sister was The Good Child ® – polite and obedient and respectful of authority, while I was the imp/rabble rouser/mischief-maker. But family roles and labels (“this is the smart one, and this is the clever one, and this is the sweet one…”) are always far more complicated than surface perceptions. *I* knew, from personal experience, that my sister was not the goody-two-shoes her teachers and parents thought she was. But the fact that she and her friends could “get away” with what had happened while I was implicated – that was typical.
There is nothing like the righteous indignation of a wrong adolescent. I avoided fully considering my own culpability in the Wagner harassment by focusing on (what I thought was) the colossal injustice done to me – and poor Kelly, by association.
But, I digress.
I didn’t sleep well for weeks after the visit from Undercover Detective Asshat. My throat would tighten and my fists would clench whenever I saw a sedan that reminded me of that detective’s car – and every such vehicle was, to me, potentially an unmarked police car… and, BTW, unmarked cars for police? How unfair?!?! Detectives must be a slimy bunch, to sneak around like that….
My reaction was only slightly less volatile when I saw a regular, black and white police car cruiser; I held a silent but deadly  grudge against cops.
How that plainclothes detective had treated Kelly – those memories and feelings stayed with me for years. However, time eventually did what time eventually does, and by high school I had gotten over my indignation.
But here (yes, after all this) is what prompted my telling of this My Encounter With The Police ®story: judging from the reactions of many (white) people to the Black Lives Matter movement, some folks just don’t seem to understand the simple yet profound idea that people’s experiences color and inform their perceptions.
I got over what had happened with that vile, abusive, unprofessional detective – I was able to navigate through the world and let go of my anger – in part because during the ensuing years I had few if any encounters with “law enforcement officers.” I was able to see the incident as just that – an incident; an aberration.
I was a white girl.
All the “players” in the My Encounter With The Police ® story were white.
What if I had been Black, or Latina? Would the detective have shown as much deference to my mother if she were Mexican-American? Would he have been as respectful and agreeable to my father, who argued for considering the perspective of the “harassing” children, if my father had been a Black man? What if all of the neighborhood children had been a different “shade” than the Wagners – would the detective have agreed to drop the investigation? What if the Wagners had been Black – would their complaints have been investigated, or even given serious consideration?
Knowing what I now know now, the answers to all of those questions would be a regrettable but accurate, Are you fucking kidding me?No.
As I passed from grade school  through junior and then high school, I slowly came to realize that my darker-skinned peers had many more negative experiences with the police, and for matters far more trivial than “singing that song” and with far different outcomes than my family had experienced (“It’s a crime, you know, to drive while Mexican,” my “cruiser car” buddy GS, a Chicano, once joked to me).
Your experiences shape your perceptions. Too few white people are beginning to consider that idea, vis-à-vis Black and Brown people and the police and other governmental forces; fewer still are able to summon the introspection necessary to examine their visceral reaction to the complex ideas and realities behind concepts like, Defund the police.
And for those of us in this better-late-than-never category, I’ll apply my dinner party analogy. Specifically, how I feel about guests whom I looked forward to seeing (that’s why I invited them: I don’t ask people to dinner if I don’t like them), and they showed up…eventually:
Welcome to the party y’all!
You’re hours late; you missed the appetizers and first courses
and the entrée and we’re halfway through dessert…
but it’s great to see you and we’re happy
you showed up in time to help with the dishes.
* * *
May you be a helpful voice in the Defund the Police conversation; May you discern when to use your voice and when it’s better to listen to other’s voices; 
May you always arrive in time to help with the dishes; …and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 If you don’t know or remember the significance behind the phrase “the ML kids’ war with the neighborhood cranks” then there’s no point in reading further without reading the previous post.
 Friends and family used the side entrance to our house, which led to the kitchen. If someone knocked on our front door that was a giveaway that it was a stranger, or a solicitor.
 About 5:20p and not after 6p, like I’d told the detective. Yep, I lied to the creep.
Active, reliable, sarcastic, affectionate, bipedal, cynical optimist, writer, freethinker, parent, spouse and friend, I am generous with my handy supply of ADA-approved spearmint gum and sometimes refrain from humming in public.