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The Magazine Future I’m Not Imagining

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Department Of Giving One’s Imagination An Exhaustive Workout

Monday morning, in my New York Times app’s “Top Stories,” I spy with my little eye an article with the following headline:

Imagining Vogue Without Anna Wintour

Done.

Next challenge, please.

 

 

anna

How many years has it been – have I had fun yet?

 

 

 

 

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Department Of The Wild Wacky ® Streets Of Hillsboro, Oregon

I think it’s so touching that someone in My fair City ® decided to turn a portion of their front yard into a tribute to musician Herb Albert.   [1]

 

 

 

 

lonelybull

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Department Of Things That Make Them Look Across The Table At Me And Say,
“Stop. Just Stop.”

Dateline: a week ago Friday, dinner time. I told MH and son K that I was considering ending my fiction writing sabbatical – I had an idea for a series of historical novels! The protagonists will be a poor but loving and close-knit, 19th century pioneer family, struggling to carve out a life as fruit farmers in the Oregon wilderness as they confront a recurring plague of small, parasitic insects which threaten to decimate their currant crop. I’m going to call it, “Little Louse on the Berry.”

 

 

facepalm

 

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different

 

 

 

 

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Department Of The Argument For Acquiring A Basic Scientific Literacy

You may be saying to yourself, I didn’t know there was an argument *against* having a basic scientific literacy.  [2]   Aside from the mission statements and curriculum listings I’ve encountered on the websites of fundamentalist religious “educational” institutions, I’m not sure that there is such an overt argument.  Nevertheless,  [3]  all you have to do is wade through a few Facebook shares (sadly, often from people who Should Know Better ® ) to realize that an appreciation for scientific thinking – that is, a basic understanding and application of critical inquiry and “factual claims” analysis – is sorely lacking in our culture.

 

 

Randiquote

 

 

 

There are soooooooooooo many reasons why we should all be on a lifelong quest to “think like a scientist” – but you really need just one: thinking like a scientist will give you a lifelong, reliable ca-ca detector.

It’s not that having a basic knowledge of science and/or the scientific method will give you all the answers  [4]   – it’s that if you have the former, you don’t need the latter.  You don’t need to know all the answers when you know the kind of questions to ask of those who allege to have The Answers.

All claims, from supernatural (“The stories in the Christian scriptures are true but those in the Muslim scriptures are false”) to economic (“Anarchocommunism is the most efficient political/economic form of socialism“) to medical (“The Chiropractic theory of subluxation is a valid diagnostic tool for identifying and treating human diseas “) to historical (“The moon landings were staged on a movie backlot by NASA”), can be understood and/or evaluated if you have a basic grasp of scientific thinking.  Doesn’t even matter if it’s the first time you’ve heard of the “healing crystals” your friend is touting – you don’t (and shouldn’t) have to take your friend’s enthusiasm at face value.

That ambassador of science literacy himself, American astrophysicist and author, Neil deGrasse Tyson, puts it this way (my emphases):

To be scientifically literate is to empower yourself to know
when someone else is full of shit…

You have an understanding of the properties of the laws of physics, so when someone comes up to you to sell you crystals and they say, “Rub these together and you’ll be healed,” you say, “Well, what are they made out of? And how many people have they healed? And what aliments do they heal? And what’s the mechanism? How much do they cost? And where are they from? And what’s their molecular structure?…and the person runs away in tears.

Science literacy is not knowing the answer – you might know the answer, but that’s not what’s fundamental. What’s fundamental is the capacity to inquire about what is true and what is not in this world. And that is the empowerment. The power of inquiry.

( Neil deGrasse Tyson, The Nerdist Podcast)

 

 

neil

 

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Department Of But It Might Have Made The Checkout Clerk’s Day

Entering the grocery store, I counted my freshly-laundered, reusable produce sacks, which I’d grabbed fresh from the dryer before leaving for the store. Fortunately, I found the “hitchhiker” before I absent-mindedly used it to bag the kiwi….

 

 

 

oopsJPG

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

       May you always check for hitchhikers;
May you realize why knowing some of the questions
is better than thinking you have all of the answers;
May you, at least once in your life, place something in your front yard to make your neighbors smile;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] Get it?  Huh huh huh…get it?

[2] Maybe you should stop talking to yourself.

[3] Why does no one ever say, Neverthemore….

[4] And, of course, there is no All The Answers.

The Prank I’m Not Playing

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Department Of Good Sports

Dateline: Monday, April 2; a local yoga studio. My fellow yogis were gracious participants in my idea to play a belated April Fools’ Day prank on our equally gracious instructor.

If you’ve attended a yoga class and/or have a home practice, you may be familiar with the variety of props that may be used to attain and/or enhance certain asanas[1]

 

 

yogaprops

 

 

Some people and classes use several props (e.g., blocks, straps and bolsters) while others use little to none. The classes I attend typically use a strap for a couple of poses, the blocks for maybe one or two, and bolsters for sitting and/or final relaxation. But it has always seemed to me that there was a prop missing. During poses targeting head and neck flexibility and strengthening or those concerned with posture or spinal alignment, when I hear the suggestion to lengthen the crown of your head, I think to moiself, “There ought to be a prop for that.”

April 1 fell on a Sunday. For Monday’s class, I was prepared. I’d purchased 24 paper crowns (Did you bring enough for everyone in the class, young lady?) and passed them out to my fellow yogis before class. The rest is history.

 

 

 

yogacrowns

 

 

 

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Department Of, Who, Moiself – Foodie Trend-follower?

I love me some avocadoes. I consume at least half of one avocado per day, included in my breakfast or lunch, or sometimes dinner.  [2]   But it never occurred to me to use an avocado to construct that most trendy of foods items. Until now.

Oh, look, I made some avocado toast.  To strive for authenticity, I’m thinking of charging moiself  $15 for it.

 

 

 

avotoast

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Department Of Things You Don’t Expect (Or Want) To See In Trader Joe’s Parking Lot

It was just another shopper, pushing another red Trader Joe’s  shopping cart. Her cart was filled with groceries and there was a child  [3]  sitting in the kid seat portion of the cart. The other TJ Shopper ® and I were headed in the same direction; she was in front of me, and as I got closer to her I noticed something odd about the child. Its body size and movements (and the fact that it was sitting up unsupported) made me guess the kid was just under a year old, and its torso and limbs were in standard/chubby baby proportions…but the kid’s head was massively outsized, and blocky.

I quickened my pace and got a look at the child’s face.  Yikes, to say the least. It was as if someone had gotten hold of a 3 D printer and superimposed the head of Ricky Gervais onto an eleven-month’s old body.

 

 

 

terror

 

 

 

Now, I happen to admire much about that comic provocateur, Ricky Gervais. I’d love to espy his big head, say, one day when I glance through my office window and say, Isn’t that the multi-talented, stand-up comic/writer/actor/director/producer Ricky Gervais standing on my front porch?, and then I’d invite him in for a cup of tea and we can have a jolly good time poking fun at politics and religion and Caitlyn Jenner and other people who take themselves way too seriously.  But to see that enormous mug of his on top of a baby’s neck….

For the briefest of moments I considered returning to TJ’s, buying up all the Two Buck Chuck  in the store and drinking it in the backseat of my car.

I was going to try to find a couple of pictures online,  [4]  do some photo-shopping, and come up with something similar (to what I saw) to share with my readers. But it’s so kind of y’all to be reading this – I’ve no desire to ruin the rest of your day.  Instead, here’s a more pleasant occupant-of-a-shopping-cart image for you to ponder.

 

 

 

shopping cart

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Department Of Do You Recognize Padding When You See It?

 

As you may have noticed, I’ve not much profound to say/report on this week.

 

 

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Correction: actually, there is (too) much to say, much of it involving subjects that have been weighing on my mind recently. One of them is so bleak…think along the lines of articles by people even more thoughtful and articulate than moiself   [5]  who are willing to tackle such feel-good topics as

Robots taking human jobs causing hellish dystopia

Kurt Vonnegut’s Dystopian Future Has Come To Pass

Artificial Intelligence Will Best Humans At Everything By 2060, Experts Say

The US opioid addiction is an omen of a ‘hellish dystopian’ future, scientist claims, as AI takes over billions of jobs, leaving people to lead meaningless and miserable lives….

Not to be a downer or anything.

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

May you already be working on next year’s April Fool’s Day shenanigans;
May you be pleasantly surprised by the next thing you see at a Trader Joe’s parking lot;
May you never pay $15  [6]  for anything on toast;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] Yoga poses or postures.

[2] Does anyone else remember when (to non-Californians) avocados were considered by some folk to be “exotic”?

[3] Presumably hers…although I noticed absolutely no familial resemblance.

[4] Of Mr. Gervais and random male babies.

[5] Make that, 100 times more….

[6]  Not even if it’s platinum-plated caviar (and why you’d want to eat fish eggs – with or without plating – is beyond moiself).

The New Rules I’m Not Explaining

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Departments of Youtoo and Which Lives Matter

I recently overheard snippets of a conversation between two (white) guys about the horrible burden placed upon them during the past couple of years. Alas, it seems that that they can no longer sling sexist and racist slurs with impunity “even joke” about “some stuff –  not only that, White Guy #1’s ____ (wife? girlfriend?)  [1]  objected when WG#1 defended a friend who’d publicly commented about the body of a female co-worker. White Guy #2 made some kind of commiseration grunt, and said he wished someone would explain the “new rules” (of such discourse, I assume) to him.

 

 

pickme

 

 

It was so difficult to restrain moiself, lemme tellya.

But it was dinner time, and there was a long line behind me in the 15 items or less checkout line, so I took WG#2’s rhetorical plea for explanation in the spirit it was likely intended, and held my tongue. However, if I’d had the time (and didn’t care if I were to be banned from shopping in that store, ever again), I might have said something like the following.

 

 

PSA

 

 

The key thing of it – the “it” here referring to that wonderful/prickly path we trod along with our comrade human beings, – is that to walk through this world as a decent friend, partner, citizen, or even bystander, you have to hold, and act on, two seemingly disparate or incongruous hypotheses:

(1) If you are male and your friend is female, *she* is the expert on what it’s like to be a woman in your culture. Your job is to listen to her when and if she feels comfortable enough to give an account and/or an analysis of her experiences, not to explain to her why it wasn’t really sexism or misogyny, either personal or systemic, when she tells you how

* she (as well as the only other woman who serves on the company advisory board) is repeatedly interrupted and “talked over” by male colleagues during meetings;

* her engineering project lab partner ridiculed and downplayed her ideas to their professor and then later presented them as his own;

* despite her reporting him to their manager, a fellow waiter persists in grabbing her ass when he sees her balancing a beverage tray on each hand;  [2]

*  she was not nominated for her party’s candidacy for County Commissioner, despite the fact that she was the most experienced potential candidate, and when she commented aloud on the historical disparity of women in said office a party fundraiser took her aside and told her that he could not effectively raise money for women candidates…

If you are a man and your friend/partner/neighbor/co-worker is a woman, she is the expert on being a woman. Not you.  If you want to be an ally – if you want to be One Of The Good Guys, ®  [3]  listen to her when she conveys her experiences. Then, hopefully and deliberately, you will strategize on How Not To Be Those Kinds Of Men, and  how to influence and support fellow menfolk to do likewise.

(2) Here is where the (perhaps greater) challenge comes in: although your woman friend is her own expert on being a woman, she is not The President of All Women. ®  Nor does she speak for all women. She may have hold diametrically opposed positions on certain personal and personal positions and have very different life experiences than, say, her female cousin, or the woman who cashiers at the supermarket. Still, all three of them – your friend, her cousin, and the cashier – are their own “experts” re navigating this world as a woman, while you are not.

 

 

understand

Ignore this cranky Italian writer and keep on trying.

 

 

 

The same goes for your black co-worker, who is an expert on being black. Your job as a white friend or acquaintance or neighbor or co-worker is not to whitesplain to him –

when he relates his experience of being terrified, and later enraged, when, while driving his new BMW and committing no traffic infractions, he was pulled over and interrogated by a police officer who wondered why he was driving through that particular neighborhood

–  re why he saw prejudice where it didn’t exist, and how difficult it is to be a cop…

Your job is to listen, and to learn, if possible. He is the expert on what it means to be black in America, not you – even though, as per (2) above

*  your black co-worker does not speak for the mythical “Black Community,” and

* he may hold political opinions and have had experiences that are vastly different from those of, say, his uncle, who is a rabid Clarence Thomas supporter.

Ditto for your LGBTQ friends, if you are straight, for your atheist/humanist/religion-free friends if you are a religious believer, or for any other “oppressed” or “minority” group.  [4]

Whiteness/straightness/maleness/religiosity has controlled the microphone for a long, long time.  You may feel the pendulum is swinging too far to the other side.  Tough titties.  If it truly is, pendulums being what they are, it will eventually swing back.

Your task between swings is to listen and (fingers crossed) learn. You can disagree, of course, but try reflecting on what was said, maybe even overnight or – gasp, in this world where a six second gif of your brain exploding seems to long – for a few days or longer, before you share your disagreement. Try the proverbial walking in another person’s shoes; wait for a long…long…long time before responding. And consider whether any response (other than a change of heart and/or action) is actually necessary. Will your feedback truly be helpful?

 

 

 

shutupjpg

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Department of Disclaimers

The previous harangue thoughtful exposition of compelling social issues was is in no way meant to be supportive two other controversial topics: (1) for fiction writers, the hideous admonition to, “write what you know,  and (2) the  warnings against so-called cultural appropriation.  I find both concepts, however “well-meaning” their champions may be,  [5] to be despicable – inaccurate at best and intellectually suppressive at worst – and moiself has commented  on such previously in this space.

 

 

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Department Of I Am So Not Making This Up

Wonder Bible ™ Audio Player…the incredible bible that speaks! … Contains the  entire Old and New Testaments of the Bible in the King James Version.

 

 

 

Yet another commercial that I assumed was a Saturday Night Live parody, but which turned out to be deliciously real.

Simply turn on the Wonder Bible, and a pleasant voice reads the book to you.

The product description  material says that the Wonder Bible Audio Player contains skip and fast forward functions – tasks which comes in handy for any religion. For generations the “skip function” has been widely and successfully used by clerics (as well as their parishioners), who prefer to ignore the passages of their scriptures which champion violence,  genocide  misogyny, racism, sexual abuse, child abuse and other abominable/just plain bat shit crazy edicts and stories  [6] that populate the collection of bronze and iron age mythologies which have come to be known as the Old and New Testaments.  [7]

The road to atheism is littered with bibles that have been read cover to cover.
 ( Andrew Seidel, Civil Rights and Constitutional Law attorney,
Freedom From Religion Foundation )

Those of us happy heretics who know the bible better than most bible-believers can’t help but wonder how the “pleasant voice” narrating “the entire” Wonder Bible will handle such passages as

* “He that is wounded in the stones, or hath his privy member cut off, shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord.” (Deuteronomy 23:1)

* “Slaves, be subject to your masters with all reverence, not only to those who are good and equitable but also to those who are perverse.” (1 Peter 2:18)

* “Behold with a great plague will the LORD smite thy people and thy children, and thy wives, and all thy goods: And thou shalt have great sickness by disease of thy bowels, until thy bowels fall out by reason of the sickness day by day.” (II Chronicles 21:14-15)*

* “If two men are fighting and the wife of one of them comes to rescue her husband from his assailant, and she reaches out and seizes him by his private parts, you shall cut off her hand. Show her no pity.” (Deuteronomy 25:11-12)

* ” And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying…Whosoever he be of thy seed in their generations that hath any blemish, let him not approach to offer the bread of his God. For whatsoever man he be that hath a blemish, he shall not approach: a blind man, or a lame, or he that hath a flat nose, or anything superfluous, Or a man that is brokenfooted, or brokenhanded, Or crookbackt, or a dwarf, or that hath a blemish in his eye, or be scurvy, or scabbed, or hath his stones broken; No man that hath a blemish…shall come nigh to offer the offerings of the LORD…. ‘” (Leviticus 21:16-21)

 

 

wtfbible

Can’t wait to hear the pleasant voice tackle this one.

 

 

 

* “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.” (Hosea 13:16 )

* “…Judah’s firstborn was wicked in the sight of the LORD; and the LORD slew him. And Judah said unto Onan, Go in unto thy brother’s wife, and marry her, and raise up seed to thy brother.  And Onan knew that the seed should not be his; and it came to pass, when he went in unto his brother’s wife, that he spilled it on the ground, lest that he should give seed to his brother.”  (Genesis 38:7-9)

* “A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent.” (1 Timothy 2:11-12)

* “…they warred against the Midianites, as the LORD commanded Moses; and they slew all the males….and took all the women of Midian captives, and their little ones….And they brought the captives…unto Moses….Moses said unto them, Have ye saved all the women alive?  Behold, these caused the children of Israel…to commit trespass against the LORD….Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him.  But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.”  (Numbers 31:7-18)

* “For she doted upon their paramours, whose flesh is as the flesh of asses, and whose issue is like the issue of horses.” (Ezekiel 23:20)

 

confused lady

 

 

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May you judiciously monitor your own skip function;
May you save your pleasant voice for deserving stories;
May we all be One of The Good Guys ® ;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

 

 

 

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1]  I don’t know the relationship, only that the person was female.

[2] And if you use any variation of the dreadful boys will be boys excuse to downplay such incidents, she will be within her rights as a sentient being to Gorilla Glue a hornet’s nest to  your boys will be parts.

[3] And if you don’t, then please speak with Eion Musk‘s SpaceX team (or The Hemlock Society)  to arrange your earliest possible trip off of this planet.

[4] Even if you may have legitimate disagreements with those labels.

[5] Oh, how I shudder to hear that term, for when it’s applied it almost always is used to excuse some kind of verbal or procedural disaster (“She means well….”).

[6] (All supposedly “inspired” by their god(s) .

[7] Or, The Hebrew Scriptures, as the OT is sometimes referred to.

The Optimism I’m Not Sharing

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Department Of Things That Make Me Feel Like A Curmudgeon
Aka, A Pessimist Reads  “The Optimists”

A special edition of Time magazine (The Optimists, January 15) features a guest editor for the first time in the magazine’s 94-year-old history: Bill Gates, the Microsoft founder, bagajajillionaire and global philanthropist. Gates has picked a slew of fellow guest editors and writers, running the gamut from scientists to celebrities, to curate “data and insights from leaders in many fields to show the upside of what’s ahead.”

Although I was initially attracted to picture of the grinning Ethiopian five-year-old boy on the cover as a symbol of optimism, I cringed to read the picture’s caption: Why The World Should Celebrate Mohamad Nasir’s Fifth Birthday.

 

 

#5

 

 

 

Yeah, happy birthday kid. And I’m sorry about your name.

The article featuring the boy (and six other Ethiopian children) is used as a focal point for the other issue’s articles; i.e., hope for the future vis-à-vis the fact that, “Thirty years ago, 1 in 5 children in Ethiopia didn’t live to their fifth birthdays.”

IMHO, whatever optimism I may hold for the future is tempered by the fact that in 2018 people continue to name their children after their religious leaders/idols/prophets.

And I have to wonder, given that more Ethiopian children are now growing into adulthood, what will that mean for a country whose birthrate is so high?  Unless you have cultural and infrastructural changes which allow for and encourage family planning, you are increasing the base rate for multiplication of even more poor people competing for even more finite resources. Ethiopia’s birthrate has been gradually declining, but it is still in the top 20 of the world. Its fellow countries on that sad list are almost all African, and are all – surprise! – also on the list of the world’s most impoverished countries.

It seems every third article in The Optimists deals, either directly or obliquely, with the global status of women, and how, “…there is nowhere on earth where women have the same opportunity as men.  Nowhere.”  Any (non-religiously proselytizing) global aid worker will tell you that education and empowerment of girls and women is the key to lifting people out of poverty, and that as birth rates decline, the health of and educational opportunities for women and girls increase. 

Here’s something else many global aid workers will tell you, if they think it is safe to do so: “Culture” (read: religion) is the biggest obstacle to empowering and educating girls and women, especially and including the idea – heretical to all religions, up until relatively recently – that females have the right to be educated about, and be in control of, their own bodies and fertility.

The Bible and the Church have been the greatest stumbling blocks in the way of woman’s emancipation.
(Elizabeth Cady Stanton)

 

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*     [For women] the very consciousness of their own nature
must evoke feelings of shame.
(Saint Clement of Alexandria, Christian theologian, ca.150-215, Pedagogues II, 33, 2)

*  Woman is a temple built over a sewer.
(Tertullian, “the father of Latin Christianity” (c160-225)

*   No gown worse becomes a woman than the desire to be wise.
(Martin Luther, Protestant Reformer, 1483-1546)

   *   The root of masculine is stronger, and of feminine weaker.
The sun is a governing planet to certain planets, while the moon borrows her light from the sun, and is less or weaker.
(Joseph Smith, founder of the LDS movement)

(For more fun quotes which, after reading them, will make you want to douse your eyeballs in isopropyl, see 20 Vile Quotes Against Women By [Christian] Religious Leaders From St. Augustine to Pat Robertson, Alternet    [1])

 

“Naturally there will be fundamentalists in any religion, who insist on literal interpretations of outdated dogma. But the problem is not just with fundamentalism, but with Islam itself, says author and activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali. In her book, The Caged Virgin: An Emancipation for Women and Islam, she pinpoints three reasons why the Muslim world lags behind the West and, increasingly, Asia. First, “Islam is strongly dominated by a sexual morality derived from tribal Arab values dating from the time the Prophet received his instructions from Allah, a culture in which women were the property of their fathers, brothers, uncles, grandfathers, or guardians…..The essence of a woman is reduced to her hymen. Her veil functions as a constant reminder to the outside world of this stifling morality that makes Muslim men the owners of women and obliges them to prevent their mothers, sisters, aunts, sisters-in-law, cousins, nieces, and wives from having sexual contact….”
(Big Think, Does Islam really Subjugate Women)

“A woman’s heaven is beneath her husband’s feet.”
(Traditional Islamic saying)
“Women are like cows, horses, and camels, for all are ridden.”
Tafsir al-Qurtubi, Quaranic commentary).(Citations from the Council of Ex-Muslims online forum, topic: I left Islam because I am a woman)

 

 

 

 

no comment

 

 

 

I take good news wherever/whenever I can, but I’m too much of a realist to think The Optimists is brimming with good news.  I find little optimism in a “fact” which touts that more people are surviving in countries which have high adherence to fundamentalist religions. All these people, “surviving” (and then reproducing) for what – to be potential foot soldiers for the next our-gods-told-us-to-grab-your-land-and oppress your people war?   [2]

 

 

 

witches

 

 

 

 

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Department of Existential Crisis

Moiself went through a bit of one after seeing the movie “I, Tonya” , which I highly recommend (the movie – not the existential crisis). Leaving the theatre with friend and fellow cinema buff CC, I started flashing back to my extended family’s distressing history, some details of which are long known to me and my siblings, some only suspected and recently confirmed.

I’ve written previously if very briefly about the life of poverty and deprivation my father’s family endured before, during and after The Great Depression. There were other aspects of his family life (child neglect and abuse; undiagnosed/misdiagnosed/mistreated adult mental illness and illiteracy) that go beyond – read: are not excused by – economic circumstances.

The movie brought the issue to a forefront for me, as yet again I wondered (this time, aloud to CC) about the formula no behavioral and developmental scientists have yet figured out: how is it that some people are able to escape a “white trash” [3]  background, while so many others stay and repeat (and then pass on) the dysfunctional behavior and thinking?

 

 

itonya

 One bad choice after another: chain-smoking asthmatic Tonya Harding
(here depicted in the movie, I Tonya, by actor Margot Robbie).  

 

 

 

 

How fortunate was my immediate family, the one my father created with my mother, that my father was able to get away?!  Given what he, or any child in such circumstances, was surrounded by – when that is all you have and all you see and you are told by those who may (or may not) love you but who certainly have control over you that this is your life – how was he even able to imagine a different future for himself?  How did he recognize that he wanted to do so – that, as he once phrased it to me, he knew he needed to get out?  It blows my mind  [4]  when I think about how he was able to marry and raise a family, be a loving and kind husband and father (despite the abominable example his own father provided in those roles), and keep his wife and children “safe” from (and mostly oblivious to) the deprivations and degradations of his own upbringing.

It is a complicated equation – the factors leading to paths a child may eventually choose, coming from an environment over which a child has no choice.  As to how this relates to the events depicted in the movie, Tonya Harding certainly made some dubious choices, to put it mildly.  I am no Harding apologist – I believe she was much more complicit, in the figure skating scandal and in her pubic skirmishes in the years that followed, than she admits to.  And yet it seemed obvious to me, even before the attack on Kerrigan, that Oregon’s “most infamous Olympian” had the deck stacked against her from the start.

Harding hadn’t the right “look” or background for her sport, which preferred its female participants to be ethereal and elegant, not athletic and assertive, and her outsider status and appearance seemed to matter more than her athletic talent and achievements.  She wanted to rise above her background, but (likely due to that very background) lacked the self-awareness and other emotional and cognitive skills to do so.  And those who were in position to judge her, literally as per her skating and figuratively as per her public persona, made it clear that she didn’t belong and would never be good enough.

Now then. Extended psychoanalysis and existential crisis aside, I, Tonya is a highly entertaining, well-written and acted movie.  I give it two thumbs up…and yeah, so both of the thumbs are mine….

 

two thumbs

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Department Of Because It Was Tuesday Movie Night,  [5] That’s Why

Why not go all out in making a fun dinner (especially since being inspired by daughter Belle, who made gnocchi on Monday and sent me photos)? Le menu:

☼  potato gnocchi with garlicky tomato sauce
☼  
red wine vinegar roasted beets
☼  roast Delicata squash
☼  Arugula and baby romaine salad with dried cranberries, lemon-soaked red onion, toasted walnuts, red d’anjou pear, and Dijon vinaigrette
☼  2013 Pomum Red Wine

 

 

 

gdinner

*   *   *

 

 

 

 

May you have optimism for the future despite the present;
May your past not determine your future;
May you go all out for a Tuesday night dinner;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] Or just read the holy books of the three major monotheistic faiths.

[2] And it’s not even our god vs your god. Historically and currently, those who believe in the same deity maim, torture and murder one another over the details while their deity stands by and…what, watches the show?  (e.g. The Christian’s Inquisition’s  – drawing and quartering of infidels who do not confess to the “one true faith;  Blessed be the prophet Mohammed – yes, my brother,  we’re both Muslims, but I am the correct Sunni and you are the heretic  Shia so I’ll have to smite you,  maybe after we both persecute the Sufis….”)

[3] Yes, I realize it is a pejorative to some. But it’s my heritage’s N-word, which I claim for a variety of personal and political reasons.

[4] My affinity for 1960s imagery betrays me with that phrase, but, yeah.

[5] This week, it was The Post.  Go see that one, as well.

The Elbow I’m Not Ignoring

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Department Of It’s About Fucking Time  [1]

“…the #MeToo movement represented the ‘fastest-moving social change we’ve seen in decades, and it began with individual acts of courage by women and some men too.’ ”
(Time Magazine’s Editor-in Chief Edward Felsenthal, from in the NY Times article,
” ‘The Silence Breakers’ Named Time’s Person of the Year for 2017″)

 

 

Time person

 

 

 

About That Red-Circled Elbow

Along with the prominent women in the MeToo movement featured on the Time magazine cover, there is a woman whose face is obscured – as in, off camera. Only her right arm is visible. This a hospital worker Time magazine reporters spoke with, a woman “from the middle of the country, who doesn’t feel that she can come forward without threatening her livelihood,” Editor Felsenthal said. The image is intended to symbolize women and men who have yet to come forward, or who wish to speak out but fear repercussions.

In an interview, Time National Correspondent Charlotte Alter said the inclusion of the elbow (only) image was deliberate:

“…a huge part of this story we’re trying to tell here is that as much as the stigma around this has been removed this year because of the ‘Me Too’ movement, it’s still really difficult for a lot of people to come forward.”

*   *   *

Department Of Yet Another Blast From The Past

AKA, An Incident I Haven’t Thought About In A Long Time

 

Specifically, Crazy Bicycle-Riding Man ® .

Dateline: one afternoon, a long time ago in a galaxy at a university far, far away ( UC Davis. )  I was on campus; my first morning class had let out and I had three or so hours before my next class’s midterm exam. Instead of returning to my (off-campus) apartment for lunch I decided to splurge  [2] and get a sandwich from the campus Coffee House and do my last minute studying the the exam on the campus Quad.  ‘Twas a glorious spring day; I could have easily spent several hours happily parked by a mini grove of fir trees on the acres of green grass, along with other students studying, eating, napping, or tossing a Frisbee back and forth…

 

 

UCDQuad

 

 

…but after about 45 minutes I had to move as I just couldn’t take it any more.

What had begun as a curiosity – what I thought at first was perhaps a stunt or prank – morphed from snarky entertainment into torture by seemingly infinite repetition.

A young man with curly, shoulder-length brown hair was riding a balloon-tire beach bicycle back and forth across the quad length, from north to south and then east to west, all the while singing the Gordon Lightfoot song, If You Could Read My Mind.  He didn’t sing the entire song,  only a portion of it:  [3]

I never knew I feel this way
And I’ve got to say that I just don’t get it
I don’t know where we went wrong
But the feeling’s gone and I just can’t get it back

That’s it. Thirty-six words, which he kept repeating singing.  Over and over.  And over.

It was… fascinating, at first. But ultimately tedious.  After about fifteen minutes, Crazy Bicycle-Riding Man’s path took him within a few feet of me and I caught a glimpse of his glassy blue eyes and realized, He is going to keep doing this until he either passes out or someone makes him stop. I felt a brief twinge of sorrow for the guy’s obvious…disturbance. But whether or not the man’s break from reality was drug-induced or the result of a mental health crisis, I (like the other students I saw leaving the Quad in droves) was young and impatient, and my sympathy eventually dissolved into annoyance. I lasted another half hour before I gave up and took my books to the library to finish studying.

After all these years, I remember what Crazy Bicycle Riding Man was singing but haven’t a clue as to how I did on the midterm for which I was studying.  Which is perhaps the healthiest way to pass through this world, n’est ce pas[4]

 

 

 

bicyclejpg

This is what the bike looked like. Unfortunately, this is not what Crazy Bicycle Riding Man ® looked like.

 

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of In The Running For My Favorite Headline Of The Year:  [5]

Acting Studios Are Struggling. Does It Matter?
( NY Times, 12-1-17)

 

 

 

question

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of There Should Be Some Kind Of Holiday Thing Here

xmas partyjpg

 

 

 

I don’t know about y’all, but moiself is having a hard time getting excited – or even interested – in the holidays this year.  If a Crazy Bicycle-Riding Santa ® would make an appearance, that might do it for me. I may just have to settle for the Speedo Santa Run.

 

 

naked santa run

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

May you be a Silence Breaker, or an ally to one;
May you enjoy the sporadic Blast From Your Past ® memory;
May you summon a modicum of excitement about any holidays you celebrate;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1]  Time as in time…not as in Time Magazine…. There should be some kind of really bad pun apology here.

[2] Working at the school library to put myself through school, any non-home procured food – even a simple sandwich – was (or felt like) a splurge.

[3]  The chorus? Verse? Bridge? Root canal? Help me out, musically literate people.

[4] Not to show off in front of Gallic illiterates, but n’est ce pas? is French for, “The birdhouse smells like stinky feet, does it not?”

[5] Other than the one about Time Magazine’s Person of the Year.

The Discount I’m Not Taking

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Dateline:  Monday mid-morning, shopping at a local thrift store. After ringing up the items (the total comes to all of four dollars), the store’s clerk glances tentatively at moiself.

Clerk: “Do you…qualify…for any of our discounts?”
Moiself: “Uh, I don’t know what any of your discounts would be.”
Clerk (even more hesitantly, and without making eye contact): “Discounts…do you get discounts…anywhere else?”
Moiself: “Anywhere else?”
Clerk: “Because…it varies….”

Suddenly, I realize what she’s asking.

 

 

lightbulb

 

 

 

 

Moiself: “You mean, do I get a senior discount anywhere?”
Clerk (nodding sheepishly): “Uh huh.”
Moiself (attempting my best, As-a-matter-of-fact-I-do-not-qualify-for-senior-discounts-but-thanks-the-fuck-a-lot-for-asking smile):  “Not yet.”

 

I leave the store thinking, I know I’m didn’t sleep well last night, but these are not the under eye bags of someone who qualifies for a senior discount and geez, lady, you’re at least 15 years older than me and do you really think I look like…

And then my irkiness  [1]  morphed into amusement.  I walked to my car, smiling to myself as I considered both  my petty reaction and recalled a story my FIL  [2] told me, over twenty years ago – about his reaction the first time someone offered him a senior discount.   He said he was taken aback when a movie clerk assumed he qualified and gave him the senior discount, a discount which, as per that particular theatre’s guidelines, my FIL did qualify for (but his wife, my MIL, did not, as she was five years younger than my FIL). He then, like moiself now, was subsequently bemused by his own reaction, and pondered why it bothered him.  After all, as a good business man, and “If someone is going to offer me a discount, for any reason, I’m going to take it…”

Was it that simple, he wondered? Was he was reluctant to admit that he had joined the ranks of “that demographic?”

 

 

 

 

angry clint

Not my monkeys, not my circus, not my senior discount.

 

 

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of I May Get Into Trouble For This, But…

A Modest Proposal

When I am working out in my bedroom to an exercise DVD  [3]  and the program ends, my little old TV reverts to television mode. That is, it tunes in to whatever broadcast channel was last watched.  This quaint feature has given me the opportunity to see snippets of shows I’d otherwise never/rarely choose to watch.  My viewing of these shows has been sporadic, but tantalizing enough to cause me to tune in, occasionally, to test a theory about a “pattern” I’ve noticed. This pattern involves talk shows hosted by a panel of women, [4]  shows which are seemingly targeted at or presume a predominantly female audience:  

There is a spot on the panel reserved for, and which must be occupied by,
the Sassy, Black, Come-To-Jesus-Woman ® .

The SBCTJW, who is usually/currently unmarried, manages (inexplicably, to moiself) to placate conservatives by preaching about Jayyyysus every chance she gets, even as she also frequently comments about her very active sex life.  Her applications of Iron Age philosophy (read: Christian scriptures) to contemporary political and social issues of the day always seem to be welcomed, or at least tolerated, by her fellow/sister hosts.  And therein lies the problem.

Any crazy-ass or just plain non sequitur comment SBCTJW makes, when cosseted within the preamble, As y’all know, I’m a woman of faith, is neither questioned nor refuted by the other hosts. The panel will openly argue about politics and current events and the implications of celebrity gossip [5]  –  they frequently and freely disagree  about those issues, but when SBCTJW spews nonsense (read: quotes her bible), it’s all somber and respectful,  “Mmm-hmms.”

I call foul, as well as bullshit.  It frosts my butt to see that drivel go out unchallenged, and “respectful silence” (read: non-refutation) implies acquiescence.

Yeah, it’s daytime commercial TV – I realize that there are limiting audience and sponsor considerations. Still, this is 2017. Is there a producer out there, somewhere, with the cojones to reserve a spot on the panel for the Sassy Black (or Brown or Pink or Tan or….) Articulate Atheist?

I respectfully submit just a few nominees for consideration: Feminist/author Sikivu Hutchinson, Mandisa Thomas, president of Black Nonbelievers; journalist Jamila Bey, Debbie Goddard, Director of African Americans for Humanism; community organizer Diane Burkholder, political activist Jimmie Luthuli; Liz Ross (Black Skeptics Los Angeles & Coalition of Vegan Activists of Color); feminist writer/professor Roxanne Gay….

I also realize there is a subject here within a subject (one deserving of far more consideration than moiself can and will handle in this venue): the presumption of religiosity for and among African-Americans is such that African-American atheists, often referred to as a minority within a minority , face additional prejudice both within and outside of their “community” when they are upfront/open about their views. And, frankly, what freethinkers of quality – of any ethnicities or cultures – have the time (or interest) to put up with the constraints that come with such a forum as a daytime TV talk show?

 (“We’ll be right back to continue our discussion on the latest recording of a police shooting an unarmed teenager, followed by guest Gwyneth Paltrow demonstrating her crystal energy bladder sling. But first, this word from Coxphase Pharmecuticals about gynecomastia…” )

 

 

 

 

black atheistjpg

*   *   *

Department Of Me, Too…But Me Later

 

If you haven’t heard about the Me, Too movement[6]   stop reading right now and go commit an act of humanist reparation.

Moiself, too intends to share my stories, or at least one of them, even as I hold reservations about doing so.  [7]   I understand why others whose experiences have been So. Much. Worse.  might – despite their fervent hope for the cessation of this dishearteningly widespread sexist abuse and their realization that the cockroaches only scatter when you turn on the light – have no wish to go public, due to the terrible memories and feeling which might be triggered.

 

 

Trigger

Hey Roy, why do they always drag me into this?

 

 

 

 

 

 

So. Maybe…next week.

*   *   *

May you never be challenged by a Footnote Insurrection Licentiousness;
May you be brave enough to listen to, sans the urge to give advice or commentary,
the me too stories of others;
May you claim the discounts for which you qualify;

…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] Yes, irkiness is a word…at least here. You know exactly what it means in this context.

[2] FIL as in Father-in-law, the acronym not to be confused with Famously Indulgent Libertarian, Faintly Illuminated Licorice; Frumpy  Inebriated Lutheran; Five Ill-tempered Leopards….

[3] Or FIL as in Frequently Inky Legumes; Freshly Iced Lemonade; First Imitative Liberace – yo, FIL! Stop that, RIGHT NOW. Your footnote relevance has passed.

[4] Such as The View and The Talk.

[5] Hey, you’ve come a long way, baby!

[6] A term in use by social activists for some time which has recently (in the wake of the Hollywood and other sexual assault scandals…please don’t make me type the name Harvey Weinsten) been revitalized by celebrities and others, to encourage  women to share their own experiences with sexual harassment and misogyny in the workplace and in other realms both public and private.

[7] Or as in Festive Imperial Linguini; Feisty Italian Lesbians; Frothy indigent lepers – I MEAN IT, GO AWAY. WHO’S IN CHARGE HERE, ANYWAY?!?!?

The Stories I’m Not Cribbing

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I am not cribbing; I am making links and attributions. The Happy Feet Dance ® reasons cited in last week’s blog  have left me with little time for originality this week.  (Ah, white people problems.)

Just sayin.’   [1]

 

*    *    *

Department Of Yet Another Reason To Read The Obituaries…

“Before I turn 67–next March–I would like to have a lot of sex with a man I like. If you want to talk first, Trollope works for me.”
(Jane Juska, from her personals ad in the New York Times Review of Books, which led to her writing her memoir)

Reading obituaries is something I don’t (usually) do. Yesterday, however, I was grateful for whatever reason caused me to glance at the NY Times obituaries, wherein I encountered what I am nominating for Best Last Line Ever.

 

 

 

 

 

andtheawardjpg

 

 

 

 

The obituary was for Jane Juska, a retired schoolteacher who found literary fame late(r) in life, re her book, A Round-Heeled Woman: My Late Life Adventures in Sex and Romance. The memoir chronicles what happened when Juska decided to reinvent herself in her late sixties and seek sexual pleasure, after realizing she was a self-described “cliché” (long divorced after a loveless marriage; a history of sexual abuse; weight and drug problems; all-encompassing single motherhood….).

Save for the deceased’s literary notoriety, the obit was nothing out of the ordinary, and ended with the customary list of survivors (“…in addition to her son, she is survived by two granddaughters…”). And then, the pièce de résistance:

Her son said in an interview that he had never read A Round-Heeled Woman.
“I tell people,” he said, “ ‘If your mother wrote it, I’d probably read it.’

 

*   *   *

Department Of More Than Just Pissing In The Wind  [2]

When you take on a group or person who has money and power they aren’t just going to roll over. They will fight back. Sometimes viciously. They will use multiple intimidation tactics, including hiring lawyers to make subtle and not so subtle threats to control the narrative.
They will use carrots and sticks to achieve their goals. The sticks scare the crap out of most regular people….. Hiring lawyers and PR fixers to intimidate people is the method used by the rich and powerful. Harassers who don’t have money use other methods to intimidate before and after the fact. It is helpful to be prepared for these actions.
(From Why Didn’t I Read About This Before? How Sexual Harassers Quash Stories
10-26-17, Spocko’s Brain blog )

 

If you are interested in what I call Cognitive Behavior Therapy In The Form Of Rational Activism ® –  i.e., not just identifying and ranting about what’s wrong, but researching how things work and applying effective solutions – then Spocko’s Brain is your man.  [3]

 

 

 

 

 

Spocko’s October 26 post was in part instigated by Clients Turn on ‘Champion for Women’ Lisa Bloom After Her Scorched Earth Crusade for Harvey Weinstein, — an article which, Spocko wrote, makes him “ill.” Nevertheless, he suggests reading it “…because it explains other reasons we didn’t hear many of these harassment stories.”

Read Spocko’s blog. Please. It is written by a man [4] who cares enough to look at the hard facts, including sharing his own experiences and stories in being a Nice Guy On The Right Side Who Still Needs To Learn How To Understand That It’s All Of Us, Not Just Them, as per his coda to this particular blog post:

Men don’t want to be lumped in with harassers.  Some might start bringing up false accusation stories or stories of female harassers they hear. They will say, “Not all men!”  “Sometimes women lie! It’s true! Look at this data!”  They will want to be heard. How do you respond? Let me mansplain my response.
One time, decades ago, I found one mistake a female co-worker had made while keying in 10’s of thousands of numbers. I was excited to find it and point it out because I had been the source of multiple mistakes.  When I brought the printout up to her she acknowledged the error and said,  “My one to your one hundred, Spocko. My one to your one hundred.”
She acknowledged the fact, pointed out the ratio and reminded me again who was the main source of the problem. Me. I was the one who needed to do better, not her.

 

 

 

whatamans

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of It’s All Related, Y’All

A study published in the Harvard Business Review (The 5 Biases Pushing Women Out of STEM, March 24, 2015) indicates that “bias, not pipeline issues  [5] or personal choices, pushes women out of science.” The article highlights the sexism that exists in STEM fields, including what the authors called the Prove It Again Pattern: female scientists surveyed reported having to prove themselves over and over again, with “their successes discounted and their expertise questioned.”

The Hollywood political/workplace sexual assault and harassment scandals brings this predicament to mind: There are other ways of being assaulted, other than the “obvious.”

That statement is in no way intended to mitigate the brutality and malice of physical violence, harassment and intimidation. Rather, I’d like for us all, moiself included, to keep in mind that the subtle assaults upon girls’ and women’s intellects and expectations are more pervasive, and arguably more insidious.

You may remember/have read or heard about a letter, written two years ago, by a young man who both noticed and “got it.” Jared Mauldin, an engineering student at Eastern Washington University, observed that men and women in STEM classes were definitely not “equal.” He wrote a letter to EWU’s student newspaper, addressed to “the women in my engineering classes,” which could have been the beginning of a bitter, sexist troll’s rant, but instead turned out to be a gracious and superbly perceptive dose of reality, from an ally to – well, not to overstate it, but to all humanity, men and women equally, IMHO.

To the women in my engineering classes:
While it is my intention in every other interaction I share with you to treat you as my peer, let me deviate from that to say that you and I are in fact unequal.
Sure, we are in the same school program, and you are quite possibly getting the same GPA as I, but does that make us equal?
I did not, for example, grow up in a world that discouraged me from focusing on hard science.
Nor did I live in a society that told me not to get dirty, or said I was bossy for exhibiting leadership skills.
In grade school I never had to fear being rejected by my peers because of my interests.
I was not bombarded by images and slogans telling me that my true worth was in how I look, and that I should abstain from certain activities because I might be thought too masculine.
I was not overlooked by teachers who assumed that the reason I did not understand a tough math or science concept was, after all, because of my gender.
I have had no difficulty whatsoever with a boys club mentality, and I will not face added scrutiny or remarks of my being the “diversity hire.”
When I experience success the assumption of others will be that I earned it.
So, you and I cannot be equal. You have already conquered far more to be in this field than I will ever face.
Sincerely,
Jared Mauldin
Senior in Mechanical Engineering
The Easterner, Letters to the Editor, 10-5-15)

Besides being a student himself, Mauldin taught STEM classes to grade school and junior high age students, and noticed the obstacles female students encountered in such classes. Even so, he was surprised by all the attention he received for writing the letter. In an interview with The Huffington Post (“Male Engineering Student Pens Letter Explaining Female Classmates Why Aren’t Equals,”), Maudlin noted, “Nothing I said was new, it has all been said a thousand times before. The difference is that I am a man. Maybe by standing up and breaking the silence from the male side, I can help some more men begin to see the issues, and begin to listen to the women who have been speaking about this all along.” 

 

*    *    *

different

 

 

 

 

Blog Department Of Yet Another Reason I’m Glad I’m Not Hard Of Hearing

Dateline: Monday afternoon. I overheard the following bit of dialogue, while I was exiting through the door of a building as a man and a woman were entering the same building.  Man to woman:

“…It was enough to make me wonder why he had to pee again.”

 

beanhuh

*   *   *

May you appreciate/be the kind of man who stands up and breaks the silence;
May you have the fortune to hear/see that which makes you wonder why anyone had to pee again;
May your mother never write a book that you would refuse to read;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

 

 

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] No, I wasn’t the first one to write that, either. But, sometimes, it feels like I could have been….

[2] I hope y’all appreciated the segue.

[3] Or rather, your blog.

[4] Who has been so successful in, for example, getting advertisers to pull spots from radio talk show hosts spouting violent rhetoric that he must remain anonymous, as per threats he receives.

[5] i.e., the theory/myth that women choose to forgo careers in STEM to attain better work-family balance.

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