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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?

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

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

 

*   *   *

 

 

different

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

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

 

*   *   *

 

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 Hair I’m Not Straightening

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Department Of What Is Wrong With This Picture

Dateline: At the hair salon…waiting for my turn…looking for anything other than Hairstyles of the Rich and Famous or celebrity tragedy magazines to pass the time. The pickings are slim. I pick up some kind of My House is More Beautiful Than Your House magazine. On the magazine’s second page I see the following photo, which accompanies advertising copy re furnishing one’s “dream house.” A certain detail gave me the feeling that the photographer and/or photo-stager had never actually cooked real food in a real kitchen.

 

 

pasta

 

 

Call me crazy, but my dream house would include having cooks residing therein who know the proper pasta-to-cooking-pot ratio.

 

*   *   *

Department Of The Darndest Things

 

 

 

kids say

 

 

 

Yet another dateline: last Thursday evening; after the afore-alluded-to haircut.

Backstory: I get my hair cut every six weeks. My current stylist  [1] blow dries/flat irons my hair to razor sharp, shiny verticality, which means that for 2-3 days every 6 weeks, I have really straight hair.  Ever since the birth of daughter Belle my hair has had a natural curl, no chemical inducement necessary.  [2]  The hair thing turned out to be one of those “temporary” pregnancy changes that stuck around après baby.

The first time the stylist suggested she blow dry my hair straight was four years ago, when Belle was a senior in high school.  Belle loved the way my hair looked when it was straight. MH and son K did not. They said,

You don’t look like yourself.

I agreed with them, even as I decided to forgo listing the upside of not looking like moiself every now and then.  I assured my spouse and our son that, regardless of whether or not I liked my hair straight, I’ve neither the time, the patience, nor the girly-hair-styling-skillset (nor the desire to acquire the latter) to successfully and regularly wield the Implements of Hair Uncurling ®. Thus, the look which they found so objectionable would be episodic and brief, at most.

Last week, on the eve when I returned from the salon, K made the inevitable comment re my hair. I said I was well aware that he didn’t like my hair “this way.” Before moiself could solicit reasons for his dislike, K offered the following:

“It’s just that it makes you look, in my opinion, like a soccer mom who brings Kraft Singles for the after-game snacks.  [3]

Damn right I raised that young man.

 

kraft

If this don’t straighten y’all’s hair, nothing will.

 

*   *   *

Department Of Continuing Datelines

Dateline: in line for a matinee showing of the movie, Love, Simon. Overhearing their interactions with the ticket clerk, I realize that the several women (all over a certain age, by the senior discounts I hear them claim) in front of me in the ticket line have each, separately, come to the theater to see Love, Simon. I offer an observation about that to the universe, after which the woman directly in front of me, and then the two women behind me, chime in about how they too have come to the theatre, separately, to see the same movie.

When was my turn  [4] I said to the ticket clerk, One for…can you guess? Ticket Clerk Lady’s face went blank for just a moment, until I followed up with, Yep, we middle-aged women all love us some Simon.

 

 

 

 

movieold

I’d enjoy this more if we were both older ladies.

*   *   *

 

It was great fun having Belle home for spring break (two weeks ago), and also getting to meet The Boyfriend. ® [5]  Belle, who will graduate in May  [6] with a B.S. in Biology, is pursuing a variety of jobs and internships that have to do with animal care, conservation and education; i.e.,  zoos and animal rescue/sanctuary organizations

Near the end of Belle’s visit I ventured to make a potentially touchy observation about her après-graduation plans. Which is just the kind of comment every child anticipates and appreciates…

 

 

said2

 

 

 

The internships she’s applied for – a couple of which have already been offered to her – are with Big Cat and/or other “exotic” animal parks. These organizations describe themselves as providing “a sanctuary to wild cats in need.” Translation: there are, unfortunately, a great many delusional/ narcissistic people who think that it would be fun to own an exotic animal, and/or  that owning an exotic wild animal would make them stand out and be special – that the wildness of the animal will somehow give them cred. A few weeks or months after acquiring an exotic pet (whether via legal or questionable means), Joe Lookatmei’mcoolIownatiger realizes that the cub which was so adorable at 8 weeks old is growing into AN ACTUAL FRIGGIN’ TIGER – never mind that the breeder assured them it was from eight generations of “domesticated” tigers [7] and was really just a big, big pussy cat. [8]  At that point, Joe either voluntarily abandons/surrenders the animal or is forced to do so by his neighbors or an animal welfare organization.

Enter Wild Cat Sanctuary, Big Cat Rescue, Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge, et al, who offer a place for these discarded “pets” –  along with animals rescued or retired from circuses or other anachronistic “entertainment” shows –  to live out the remainder of their lives in as natural a setting as possible.  These organizations also work to, essentially, put themselves out of business. That is, they lobby for legislation which would end the captive wildlife crisis by outlawing the buying, selling, breeding and exhibiting of such animals. (Truly a noble cause – one which has been close to Belle’s heart for many years now, even preceding her years of volunteering at the Oregon Zoo.)

 

 

tiger

No, I do not belong in your backyard…but hey, dude, thanks for the golden retriever snack.

 

 

 

These organizations are almost always privately funded. Read: they are financed hand to mouth (claw to maw?) and are always scrapped for funds. Usually only the executive directors (if anyone) are paid; thus, they depend heavily on volunteers. Their internships typically run for three to six months; interns are compensated with board and a meal stipend, but no salary. So, interns get experience (and at certain sanctuaries it may indeed be the experience of a lifetime) in a field with arguably no future.  Unless you are able to turn the experience into qualifications to work as a zoo keeper,  [9] such internships provide experience for “jobs’ for which there are no paid positions.

Yet again, I digress. About that potentially touchy observation about her après-graduation employment plans.

I asked Belle if she knew the percentage of female applicants/volunteers in the internship programs to which she has applied.  She said she didn’t.  I said it wouldn’t surprise me if the stats showed 80% (or more) female. When Belle asked me why, I asked The Boyfriend ® to confirm or deny the observation I was about to make: what I considered to be an accurate if frustrating reflection on cultural conditioning/gender influences; specifically, re how both girls and boys grow up seeing – still, in 2018 – (mostly) women do much of the work upon which our society and the corporate world depends (e.g. managing home and the rearing of children), and for which you’d have to pay a lot of $$ to hire someone outside the family to do, but this work is unpaid and undervalued, thus leading to the lowered expectations of girls’ and women’s market worth….

But, I didn’t phrase it that way. I summed it up thusly (and noticed that The Boyfriend ® ruefully smiled at Belle before he nodded at me in agreement):

Men and boys learn early on not to work for free.

*   *   *

 

 

May you recognize an employer’s disincentive
to pay you if you’re willing to work for free;
May you slap into next Saturday the face of anyone who attempts to analogize the previous professional caveat into the personal realm;   [10]
May you never be forced to eat Kraft Singles, ® for any reason;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] It sounds so strange to me, to write that I have a “stylist,” but I don’t know what else to call her and that’s what she calls herself.

[2] A phenomenon which my previous, before-and-after pregnancy haircutter had noticed and commented on.

[3] Both of my offspring had somewhat ignominious (and blessedly brief) tenures on kiddie soccer teams. It wasn’t their thing, and so MH and I never had the opportunity to be Soccer parents.

[4] No footnote here. Move along, now.

[5] He took time off from work to accompany her.

[6] Or so she assures us.

[7] Ain’t no such thing. You can’t breed the wild out of wildlife.

[8] Imagine the behaviors innate to a housecat – scratching the furniture, jumping on the countertops, sometimes getting overexcited when playing rough with its owner and putting its claws out – magnified by an animal ten times the size and strength of your tabby.

[9] A very competitive field, with few openings.

[10] Yep, I’m talkin’ the odious cow/free milk equivalency that was spewed by Previous Generations. ®  Which I actually heard from one of my aunts, many decades ago, when I was a recent college graduate home for a visit with my parents. My aunt (also visiting my parents) was chatting with my mother and moiself about the lives of my aunt’s four adult children. She said she highly doubted that her youngest son would marry his girlfriend because they were already…well…sleeping together, and – she shot a knowing glance to my mother and a warning glance to moiself – why buy the cow….you know the rest.  A delicious coda to the story: that son of hers did go on to marry that girlfriend, and from all appearances they have had and continue to have a happy marriage (and he is the only one of that aunt’s children who has not been divorced).

The Phone Call I’m Not Anticipating

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It’s never good news, when the phone rings before 5 a.m. 

It was the doctor from the emergency veterinary clinic. Our 16 ½ year old Bengal cat, B.B.  was there for his second night, as the staff tried to figure out why he had stopped eating. Blood tests with our regular veterinary office indicated pancreatitis; supportive treatment and pain management hadn’t helped, and he was just wasting away in front of us. Multiple screenings were not particularly revelatory, and then an ultrasound   [1]   showed fluid collecting in his chest; they suggested draining it and doing cytology on the fluid.  B.B. briefly perked up after the draining, then the fluid began to return and he was entering respiratory distress….

Daughter Belle was back at college after spending her spring break with us. We woke up Son K to apprise him of the situation, and he chose to accompany MH and I to the clinic. The three of us went through the box of tissues in the room where the vet brought B.B. to us, to spend a few last minutes in the laps he so loved (“He’s not drooling,” MH noted, “So you know he’s really sick.”  [2]  ). When we were ready, the vet returned, added several syringe contents to B.B.’s IV catheter while I stroked his head, and he was gone.

It was at once peaceful and gut-ripping. And all before the new spring day’s dawn.

 

BBsun

*   *   *

Department Of A Brief History

You could consider me a hypocrite, in that one of our family cats is – was – an outdoor cat. For over eleven years I’ve volunteered for public (county animal shelter) and private animal adoption/rescue organizations, all of which educate/advise that cats must be indoor only pets (these organizations require adopters to sign a “contract”   [3]  stating they understand that they are agreeing to keep their cat indoors). I know all the reasons why it is better – for cats, for other animals, and for the neighborhood –  to have cats live indoors only. I agree with all the reasons.

And that was our intention when we got B.B. And he did fine for about 6 months, and we did everything right and on schedule.  [4] And then…something kicked in. And and and and and: He realized who and what he was:  he had to be the Bengal Boss. Of me, of you, of all cats, of the laundry….

 

 

BBsnow

B.B. The Snow King, Patrolling the ‘Hood

 

 

 

 

 

Re the latter: one of B.B.’d  many ways of trying to establish what he obviously thought was his Divine Right Of Household Dominance ®  (besides terrorizing our two other indoor cats) was to spray on just about anything, but in particular, on a pile of laundry. But not on any old pile of laundry – only MH’s.  An equally enticing pile of moiself’s laundry would be right there, next to MH’s, and B.B. would selectively piss on MH’s. It had to be A Guy Thing (i.e., testosterone thing), I figured.

Eventually, we converted our covered back porch to BBVille. MH and Belle constructed a box/platform (which Belle painted)…

 

 

topofBBhouse

 

 

…on top of which B.B. had his dining area outside of his covered bedroom, with a heated sleeping pad under his “winter” bed, which was inside the mini-condo with a flap opening. He preferred to sleep in his summer bed, on top of the condo, for the warm nights when he liked to sleep outside the condo and listen to the cricket serenade.

 

 

 

BBporchJPG

 

 

In B.B.’s younger days he was quite vigilant in defending his territory from the encroachment of squirrels, lizards, mice & rats  [5]  ) and…yes and unfortunately…any birds foolish enough to get within striking reach  (and some of those arrogant, taunting Scrub Jays would hop right up to him – they were practically asking for it).

Our cul-de-sac abuts a local creek, around which dwells a variety of urban-adapted wildlife, some of which roam the neighborhood after dark. The raccoons are champs at discovering and remembering which house has outdoor dogs and cats (and thus, an outdoor raccoon buffet, which I’m certain they view as their local food cart).

We always took B.B.’s food dish inside at night; nevertheless, we still had the occasional night visitors. B.B. was street-wise enough to give raccoons a wide berth; the nutria,  [6] while bothersome to neighbors further down the creek, rarely strayed into our part of the ‘hood  (but B.B. killed two who ventured here).  Possums B.B. seemed to regard with a placidity bordering on compassion – I think he thought they were some kind of deformed, mentally challenged feline. He never chased them away, but would stand by, looking on in mild surprise and pity (as if to say, Now, isn’t that pathetic?), when a possum managed to waddle up to his food bowl and take a few nibbles.

He was watchful and cautious around dogs (and never tangled with them, to our knowledge, although he made a few passes at smaller ones that got too close when their owners walked them by).  Other cats…were an other matter.

He had what I can only describe as a friendship with the cat who lived in the house across the street, a long-haired gray male (the imaginatively named, “Fluffy,”), who was also neutered and who never showed any aggression (and thus was the only cat B.B. would allow in our yard). Several times I saw the two of them under one of our cedar trees out front, sitting side by side, as if shooting the breeze. One time I approached and saw that there was a (dead) mouse on the ground between the two of them, which made me assume they were telling the cat equivalent of fishing stories (You shoulda seen the one that got away.”)  When Fluffy died, I wondered if B.B. missed his buddy.

Over the years B.B. cost us…I don’t want to estimate how much…in vet bills. Mostly/seemingly (as the vets tried to reconstruct how he’d obtained certain injuries) due to fights with other cats, or the hazards of roaming (e.g., jumping up on a fence post and landing on a protruding nail) and hunting (cracking teeth while chewing on a squirrel femur). Here is a photographic souvenir of one of his more “creative” injuries, which resulted from a bite at the base of his tail which got infected , requiring the vet to construct an interesting draining apparatus. To help B.B. save face, we told everyone the device was intentional – that B.B. was trying out a potential Halloween costume, with his butt as an African elephant’s head:

 

 

BBtail

*   *   *

 

In his later years we would often bring B.B.  inside in the evening, for some playtime with us (and his favorite slobber toy. as per K’s video below – turn up your volume). We still had to watch him carefully – as in, MH would say to me will you watch him for a sec? while MH turned his back to do something or get some thing, because in that mere second of not being right there and looking at him, B.B. might take the opportunity to correct the fact that our family room was bereft of his scent and attempt to remedy that by peeing on anything within pee-reach.  [7]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As the weather warms it seems sad and strange, to not have him accompany me to and from the mail box (“like a dog,” as more than one neighbor has put it). B.B would scurry ahead of me, his tail upraised – the tip of it crooked always to the left, like a cane handle – and look back to make sure I was following him. Without warning he’d flop down in front of me, causing me to slam on my walking brakes and lean down to pet him as he rolled around on his back and commented  [8]   on the weather.

And in the coming summer, when I am out in the back and side yards, picking raspberries and blueberries, I know I will feel the absence of his presence by my side (and running commentary, which I always interpreted as, “you missed a bunch, back on the left….”

*   *   *

Department Of It Wasn’t A Uniformly Sad Week

There are usually opportunities for levity, even in bleak circumstances. To wit, I was able to bring a flit of amusement to the vet’s somber/compassionate visage as she described the euthanasia process to MH, K and moiself. When she said that she would begin by giving B.B. the anesthetic propofol, I felt a momentary relief of distraction, realizing the celebrity connection, and blurted out, Just like Michael Jackson!

And then, there was Monday. In the afternoon a UPS truck left a delivery on our front porch. It was a large box, addressed to MH, which presented me with the cherished opportunity to send him the following message:

You got a big package.

 

 

grannyshock

 

 

 

*   *   *

May you have the good fortune to have appreciated non-human companionship;
May your pangs of grief be assuaged by the depths of affection for what is lost;
May you find a ray of sunshine in a piss-storm
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] Translation: $$$

[2] Despite B.B.’s tough guy of the “hood appearance, he was always a sweetheart to the vets, and drooling was his almost immediate response to petting and lap time.

[3] Which is essentially unenforceable.

[4] As per how introductions to the other cats were facilitated, timing of B.B.’s neutering, etc.

[5] Our cul-de-sac abuts a local creek, home to many rodents, and we were grateful for B.B.’s pest contro several years back, when we didn’t have the mouse/rat problems common to other homes in the neighborhood.

[6] An invasive, destructive rodent of South American origins – smaller than a beaver but quite aggressive and known to take over a beaver family’s territory, decimate neighbor’s lawns and even attack small dogs – no one in the hood regretted their demise, and after neighbors made multiple calls to animal control…I haven’t seen any nutria in the creek for years.

[7] For B.B., everything was within pee reach.

[8] Bengals tend to be extremely vocal.

The Omission I’m Not Admitting

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Department Of Corrections

Dateline: Sunday eve. As I settled in one of the Comfy Chairs ® in our family room, looking over my 2018 Oscar ballot (along with fellow Eager Oscar Watchers MH and friend LH), I gasped in horror and embarrassment. My reaction was worthy of a supporting acting nomination, as I realized I was mistaken re my previous claims (on this blog, to fellow movie-loving friends, to total strangers in the quick check line at the Home Depot….  [1] ) of having seen every movie nominated for the Academy Awards  “Big Ones.”

 

 

To Protect, Serve, And Apologize

 

 

 

Just in case y’all have lives as pathetic as mine are wondering, the “Big Ones” are the seven awards for Best _____

Picture;
Director;
Actors in a Leading Role, male and female;
Actors in a Supporting Role, male and female;
Best Original Screenplay  [2]

There was the name, Canadian, dignified, yet mocking me for my smugness.  Christopher Plummer,  number four of the five actors listed for Actor in a Supporting Role, for his role as multi gazillionaire J. Paul Getty in All the Money in the World, a movie I’d made plans to see with a friend.  I can’t remember what happened…but I didn’t see that movie.

Christopher, darling, loooooove your work all these years – and really, could anyone have played a Shakespeare-reciting Klingon general as well as you did?    [3]   So sorry to have missed your latest.  I hope you’ll forgive me.

 

 

A pox upon the silly human; I am sick with laughter as she fears her remembrance doth hold rank!

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Stress Reduction
Sub-Department Of Eventually Luck Runs Out

No political rants today; the week has been stressful enough.  To wit: one of the many, many things I do not “believe in” – including gods, the efficacy of homeopathic remedies, and the accuracy of the garment label claim, one size fits all – is “fate.’  Accordingly, I also do not believe that I can, intentionally or otherwise, “temp fate.”

So, apparently it’s just sonofabitch coincidence that, two days after musing to moiself, apropos of nothing, Golly gee, it’s been 40 years since anyone has hit my car, am I lucky or what?!, guess what happens in the parking lot of the Elderberry Inn on Highway 26?

Ford truck backing up, meet stationary Subaru Outback.

 

 

 

 

 

The first Very Nice Claims Department Person (for the insurance company of the dude who hit me  [4]) I spoke with asked me to describe the extent of the damage (to my front passenger door), starting with, Have you checked to see if the door still works?

I told her the door can be opened and shut and locked; I didn’t know about the power window (which was all the way up,) and would not check it. VNCDP asked why I would not check the window. The question surprised me. I told her I’d leave that to an auto service person and would NOT attempt to ascertain whether the window “works,” seeing as how:

(a)  This is NW Oregon (the claims dept person was located…somewhere else); it rains, frequently. It is raining right now, even as we speak. Thus, even if I am able to get the window down…

(b) I might not be able to get it up

(c) I realize (b) is a problem typically associated with men….

 

Okay; I stopped myself from saying (c). But I did think it.

 

 

 

 

 

Now I get to be acquainted with just how much fun it is to deal with insurance bureaucracy and repair estimates…and with what appears to be, as of this writing, the looming/potential ignoring of responsibility by the Dude Who Was Initially So Cooperative ®   [5] – a dude who almost made his boneheaded-act worthwhile  [6]  by telling me, as I was photographing his insurance card and driver’s license, how he’d once backed his truck into his wife’s car.

Your Honor, the Defendant has already admitted that he doesn’t look where he’s going when he puts his truck in reverse….

 

 

 

Why do I get all the bone heads in *my* courtroom?

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of This Ought To Last Him

Back in the day, I used to regularly make buttermilk biscuits for son K and daughter Belle.  I gradually and persistently tweaked the recipe as the years went by, trying out more “healthful” ingredients,  [7]   but one thing that remained the same was son K’s love of Gloria’s Mount Hood Marionberry Fruit Spread as a biscuit topping.

I fell out of regular biscuit baking when the offspring flew the proverbial nest. Son K graduated college three years ago and is living and working nearby. He has turned into an occasional and enthusiastic baker, and recently asked for my biscuit recipe. He also wanted to know where he could find that marionberry fruit spread he loved so much (he’d looked, but had been unable to find it in any local stores).

Even when I served it on a regular basis, it had been difficult to find a regular supply of the stuff  – I used to order it by the case from the maker. I searched the web and thought I’d found a supplier via the Made in Oregon website, but the site had an out of stock notice re the marionberry spread. Perhaps, I sadly posited to K, it’s no longer being made?

A few weeks ago I spontaneously decided to stop and check out a roadside store I pass regularly on my drives to and from the coast. I had long been intrigued by the signs outside the store advertising the store’s various specialty items, such as, “vegan jerky.”  After stopping to sample the store’s wares I was able to assure MH that vegan jerky was not, in fact, “jerky made from vegans” (which was his guess). Unexpected bonus: the store had jars of various flavors of Gloria’s fruit spreads, including a couple of the Mount Hood Marionberry K adores. Gloria’s was still being produced, the store clerk assured me, but she had no idea where the store got their supply.

I did my Internet Snooping Thing, ®  found the local producer, and….

What to get your 25 year old son for his birthday?  Why, this, of course:

 

 

Shown: case one of two

*   *   *

May you correct that which needs correcting;
May we all live in the future wherein car repairs are accomplished with a Harry Potter-ish Carrus Reparo spell;
May someone love you enough to give you cases of your favorite fruit preserves for your birthday;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

 

And a (one day belated) Happy Birthday to my favorite son.

Son K, age 2 ¾, Mackenzie River Valley, circa Fall 1995

*   *   *

 

 

[1] To the dude with the pack of florescent light bulbs, I am so sorry.

[2] I vacillate on including Best Adapted Screenplay in my “big ones” category;  I want the original author of the adapted material to get the lion’s share of the credit.

[3] In Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.

[4] Which shall not be mentioned by name here…unless they really piss me off, so stay tuned.

[5] Of course he was, seeing as how he hit me.

[6] Strike that – of course it wasn’t worthwhile, under any circumstances.

[7] Replacing most of the unbleached white flour with oat flour and whole wheat pastry flour; using non dairy “milks” and/or yogurts and other substitutes for butter….

The Dead Man I’m Not Praising

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Department Of The Sister- And Brother-Hood Of The Soiled Stocking

You feline fanciers know what I’m talking about: the moment when you discover a pile of cat barf – consisting of either too-hastily-consumed kibble which makes a rapid reappearance, or slimy green-fiber-streaked matter from a chewed-up houseplant –  by stepping in it.

At least my family is supportive to one another when it happens. We also have our own “scoring system” re the matter (which involves how many times you have to change your socks due to stepping in the cat upchuck   [1]).

It happens so sporadically I sometimes forget about the fact that it, like shit, does happen.  Just when I’m thinking, Ah, sweet hamster-cuddling bliss, I am living in a world of harmony and safety…I feel the sudden but unmistakable, cold, wet ick creeping in through the sole of my REI 90% wool blend…

I had an usually bad morning last week: it was a Three Sock Day ®  before 9 am. On a morning like that , sometimes it’s better (and safer) to just go back to bed.

 

 

barfsock

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Inadequate Obituary Headlines

The New York Times announced the recent death of Billy Graham by noting two of the activities that the protestant evangelist was arguably most known for – that Graham “filled stadiums and counseled presidents.“ Yep; that he did. As for what those stadium (attendees) and presidents were filled with and counseled for…let’s just say that, regarding Graham’s demise, there will likely be few if any tears (crocodile or other) shed by the Freethinking and human rights loving communities, especially as we see how the damage Graham both perpetuated and advanced (“in the name of the gospel” is no excuse) for those who were not straight white male evangelical capitalists are glossed over in the tributes to “America’s Pastor.”

My parents were admirers and financial supporters of Billy Graham and the Billy Graham Evangelical Association. Their coffee table groaned under the weight of back copies of the BGEA‘s monthly Decision magazine and its other periodicals and brochures (which were kept company by at least a six month’s supply of Reader’s Digest and Trailer Life magazines). It was a goal of my mother’s to attend a Billy Graham crusade, and our family did so the summer of my 5th grade year, when the Circus BG Crusade came to town (i.e., to nearby Angel Stadium).

 

 

circusmonkey

Strangely enough, this was not the runner up to the Billy Graham Crusades motto contest.

 

 

 

I can’t remember if my entire family attended the crusade; I remember my parents encouraged me to invite a friend, and I brought my buddy, NJH. I can’t remember one single thing of what Preacher Billy said but I was fascinated with the whole show – for that is truly what it was – and when it came time for the “call,” [2] my friend wanted to go down and I went with her. I wasn’t going to miss that for the world.

NJK and moiself (along with the other crusade attendees who’d come down to the stadium field) were soon surrounded by BGEA “counselors.”  NJH and I each had our own young (college age) woman, whose soon-to-be-apparent mission was to “lead us to Christ.”  Straight-A student that I was, I prided myself on figuring out what would be the correct answer to every question my counselor threw at me…even as I was only giving her marginal attention. The real show – the interaction between NJH and her counselor – was right next to me.  NJH was crying, but not for the reasons her counselor had hoped  [3]  While NJH expressed her concern about her beloved cat who had recently died,  [4]  her counselor gently but persistently tried to steer NJH into believing that NJH’s tears should be shed for the state of her own sinful soul, not the welfare of a pet. What you are really upset about even if you don’t truly understand it now, the counselor counseled, is your realization of your own/ultimate sickness which is your separation from god, and there is no answer for that except to accept that Jesus who died for your sins (but not your cat’s)….

 

 

EVIL

 

 

 

I only vaguely recall the “follow-up” to having attended a BG Crusade: I must have given the counselor my name and address, because I began to receive (school-age appropriate) workbook-type materials in the mail from the BGEA. These workbooks instructed me to read select Bible verses and fill out and mail back a questionnaire based on the readings, for which…some kind of brownie points were promised.  It was homework, and I quickly lost interest. But the counseling on the baseball turf itself I remember vividly, with the enthralled clarity of a child  [5]  who at age 11 had neither the insight nor vocabulary to define to myself then what it was I was truly experiencing: one of the earliest sparks had been lit in my this stuff makes no sense detector.

There was no noticeable (to me) follow-up to my family’s BGEA Crusade attendance. As the years passed the only connection to all things Billy Graham was the propaganda literature my parents continued to receive and pile on the coffee table. When I’d come to my parents’ home for a visit, whether as a college student and later as young (and then not so young adult),  I’d occasionally peruse the coffee table offerings…and when I did, I’d often than not find myself cringing at the “messages” contained therein, as, beginning in the 1970s, Graham/The BGEA used the anti- “homosexual agenda” and other right-wing political  fear-mongering as “culture-saving” (and fund-raising) tactics.

 

 

REALLY

 

 

Yep.

I also, very gradually, became aware of/began to educate myself re Graham’s background, including his history of involvement with (and mentorship by) the Good Old Christian Boy Tent Revival network, much of which espoused racist, anti-Semite, sexist  [6] and pro business/anti-worker attitudes.  As per the latter, Graham famously listed “union dues” and “labor leaders” among the ills that could not have existed in the Garden of Eden,  [7] and his public anti-union rhetoric caused one London columnist to nickname the American preacher “The Big Business Evangelist.”  Graham’s rise to public influence was abetted (and financed) by the wealthy and powerful, including billionaire Texas oilman, Sid Richardson, who,  

“… befriended the evangelist, introducing him to other corporate leaders and helping him out any way he could.  Graham’s film production company produced a movie, “Oiltown USA”, which cost $100,000 and espoused, “the story of the free enterprise system of America, the story of God-given natural resources by men who have built a great new empire.”  In 1951, {Graham} spoke about the “dangers that face capitalistic America”, that as a nation America was no longer devoted to, “the individualism that made America great”, and that to survive Americans needed to show, “the rugged individualism that Christ brought” to mankind.
(Billy Graham, “Big Business Evangelist”, Is Still Anti-Union And Touts Christ’s “Rugged Individualism.”

 

 

 

americanjesus

Forget “Turn the other check” and that Sermon on the Mount pacifist shit – I died to bring you American capitalism and rugged individualism!

 

 

 

 

 

In his later years Graham withdrew (somewhat) from his self-appointed Pastor To The Presidents ® role, in particular, after the Nixon tapes began to be released.  Graham made statements indicating he felt he had been used, in part, to help shore up Nixon’s image. I remember being shocked by Graham’s reactions to the release of the Nixon tapes – I was shocked that the Rev.  Billy was shocked by the language Nixon used as opposed to the content of what the president of the United states was actually saying and thinking. Nixon’s salty profanity seemed to be more important to Graham than the beliefs and policies Nixon espoused and which the strong language bracketed.  Who gives a fuck, I marveled, how many times tricky Dick said fuck and goddamn, when the real obscenity was Nixon’s racism, anti-Semitism, criminality, subversion and justification of genocide and lawbreaking. Graham was upset that Nixon took “the Lord’s name in vain.” How’s about literally and figuratively taking the very ideals of humanity in vain?

And then there was that pesky business about Graham’s private conservation with President Nixon being caught on tape, a conversation not included in the first batch of tapes but which became public record years later.

On March 2, 2002, the ghost of fascism came home to roost on the head of Riley’s  [8] chosen successor, Billy Graham. On that day, an additional 500 hours of Nixon tapes were released. In a 1972 conversation between Nixon and Graham, the preacher expressed his contempt for, as he saw it, Jewish domination of the media.
(The Neo-Fascist Christian Roots of Rev. Billy Graham)

”They’re the ones putting out the pornographic stuff,” Mr. Graham said on the tape, after agreeing with Mr. Nixon that left-wing Jews dominate the news media. The Jewish ”stranglehold has got to be broken or the country’s going down the drain,” he continued, suggesting that if Mr. Nixon were re-elected, ”then we might be able to do something.”
Finally, Mr. Graham said that Jews did not know his true feelings about them.
”I go and I keep friends with Mr. Rosenthal at The New York Times and people of that sort, you know,” he told Mr. Nixon, referring to A. M. Rosenthal, then the newspaper’s executive editor. ”And all — I mean, not all the Jews, but a lot of the Jews are great friends of mine, they swarm around me and are friendly to me because they know that I’m friendly with Israel. But they don’t know how I really feel about what they are doing to this country. And I have no power, no way to handle them, but I would stand up if under proper circumstances.”
(Billy Graham Responds to Lingering Anger Over 1972 Remarks on Jews, NY Times)

 

 

billydick

Just look at them out there, ready to swarm….

 

 

 

 

 

Graham attempted to excuse the inexcusable by saying, re his conversation with Nixon:

“I didn’t remember it, I still don’t remember it, but it was there. I guess I was sort of caught up in the conversation somehow.”

Caught up in the conversation, somehow.  Somehow as in, because it fit Graham’s actual, deeply held thoughts and beliefs – those attitudes were not the just-going-along-with-a-friend aberration Graham would have had us believe

Graham’s rise to publicity and influence was enabled by the wealthy and powerful, and he courted those who had both money and power as long as they stayed in power, including those whose origins or beliefs he disagreed with and/or despised, even as he privately (or so he assumed, until the oops! taped excerpt) and practically boasted about what he really thought about, e.g., the Jews who “swarm around me.”  Graham eagerly posed for pictures with JFK once he’d attained the presidency, even as Graham had supported Nixon and privately met with Protestant leaders to confab about ways to stop JFK from being elected president because he was a Roman Catholic .

 

 

 

WWJD

 

 

Life is short; it is curdling the contents of my stomach to go much further with this. Do your own research, if you care, about Billy Graham’s legacy to American politics, religion, and culture. Aside from the detestable Hebrewphobia and capitalism-at-all-costs-ophilia, you’ll encounter

* his support for (even creation of) toxic Christian patriarchy, including the (controversial even within some members of the evangelical community) “Billy Graham Rule [9]   regarding male/female workplace interactions;

* his and the BGEA’s long-held and  outspoken homophobia, which includes opposing and actively lobbying against LGBTQ civil rights laws;

* his apocalyptic/end days theology that only the return of Jesus, not civil rights   [10] and environmental legislation could “save” us, leading to his denial of the threat of global warming and rejecting federal efforts to stymie it and indicating that the federal government has no business passing laws to protect the earth for future generations.”

* his conflation of (white) Christianity and patriotism and work to destroy that most American of principles, the separation between church and state.

And then, you’ll be in need of this:

 

 

 

 

banghead

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Just In Case This Is Your First Time Visiting This Blog
And You Were Wondering

 

 

anti

*   *   *

 

 

May you always try to free the monkeys in someone else’s circus;
May you never need the excuse of being “sort of caught up in the conversation somehow;”
May your worst of times merit, figuratively and literally, no more than a one sock rating;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

*   *   *

 

 

[1] You feel lucky when there is just enough moisture to dab the bottom of your sock with a towel and can convince yourself that you don’t *really* need to change your sock this time…it’ll dry up…soon….

[2] Analogous to an altar call, with the stadium infield serving as the altar.

[3] as were most of the people who’d made their way to the stadium field – that was the goal of Billy’s and his cohorts’ rhetoric, to induce tears, which were seen as a sign of your realization of your sinful nature and unworthiness (for which they had the only fix, of course, after they have put this idea into your head in the first place).

[4] god loves me so much he killed his son for me; okay, but if he’s in charge of everything like you say then why did he kill my cat, and maybe he could change his mind? If he can raise Jesus from the dead, one little kitty shouldn’t be too much trouble…

[5] who of course considered myself a Christian, as my family was and we were regular churchgoers.

[6] A term that would have shocked Billy and his supporters, who, of course, thought of their Iron Age attitudes towards women and girls as merely following “god’s plan.”

[7] (The Religious Right Has Been Pushing Anti-Union Right To Work Laws For A Century),

[8]  William Bell Riley, a Minnesota preacher and organizer (aka “”The Grand Old man of Fundamentalism”), whose contributions to American culture included spawning the Anti-Evolution League of America. Riley, a powerful force in the conservative wing of the Baptist Church during the 1920s, was “…rabidly opposed to the teaching of evolution, and was also extremely anti-Semitic.” Riley  founded Northwestern Bible Training School (aka the Northwestern Theological Seminary) and, shortly before his death, placed the leadership of Northwestern under the direction of Billy Graham.

[9] which, under the guise of “protecting” women (and the reputations of the powerful men who may be led astray by their female colleagues’ lady parts), effectively insures that no women will rise to positions of power, influence and leadership in conservative Christian/Political organizations.

[10] Graham was one of the first evangelists (in the late 1950s) to integrate his revivals, and made comments which seemed to support the emergent civil rights movement. But as the movement began to embrace confrontation in addition to its turn-the-other-cheek pacifism and seek actual and effective change in acquiring civil rights and overturning racist and segregationist legislation, Graham’s position changed:  “Once leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. began practicing civil disobedience and asking for the federal government to guarantee African Americans’ rights, Graham’s support evaporated. Within days of the publication of King’s famous 1963 Letter from a Birmingham Jail, Graham told reporters that the Baptist minister should “put the brakes on a little bit”.  (Billy Graham was on the wrong side of history, The Guardian)

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)

 

Augustinejpg

 

 

 

*     [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 Bullet List I’m Not Embracing

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Department Of Things That Make Me Want To Slap Somebody

Aka: Don’t you hate it when those you admire use the same tactics as those you loathe?

IMHO everyone, sooner or later, needs to realize that their idols have feet of clay. Easy for me to say, since I have no idols.  I do have people whom I admire, including he-of-the-many-slash-attributes, British evolutionary biologist/professor/writer Richard Dawkins, for his science advocacy, even as I have not overlooked his, shall we say, weaker points.  [1] But a recent social media posting of his…

 

 

 

On January 2, Dawkins’ Foundation For Reason And Science posted a bullet list on Facebook. Using what I took to be a riff on a New Year’s resolution list, eight declarative statements were posted under the heading:

Embrace conclusions based on evidence.  Still true in 2018!

 The statements included several of what should be no-brainers, including

* Homeopathy is water
* Humans are causing global warming.
* The earth is not flat

But I was shocked to see this one as #4 on the list:

* Organic food is not healthier

WTF ?!?!?!?  Really ?!?!?!? Organic food is not healthier.

That was the statement, in its entirety.  And it frosted my entire butt.

Healthier than or as compared with…what? And “healthier” defined as/in terms of…what?

There is no exposition in the Foundation’s list, which seems written to be eye-catching, sound-bite worthy, pithy, gotcha proclamation. But that tactic, when it is employed by creationists and other anti-science/pro-woo/religious conservatives, is rightly criticized by Dawkins and other pro-science advocates, who point out that their opponents speak in generalizations, do not define their terms and use reductionist, simplistic reasoning.

I am p.o.’d at both Dawkins and the Foundation, who advise folks to embrace conclusions based on evidence and then make such a dick, evidence-ignoring statement as, Organic food is not healthier.

 

 

 

beanhuh

They said what?

 

 

 

I’ve seen videos/read transcript excerpts of science advocates taking on, say, climate change deniers, in debates or other public forums, and one of the first things they – or any rational debater – will do is to insist that the participants define their terms.

Organic food is not healthier…for ___ whom? For me? For my allergy-prone Aunt Erva? For silicon-based life forms? There is an unstated object in that declaration. And, Healthier”  – to what aspects, measures and scales of health and does this declaration infer?  Having previously encountered similar organic food soundbites by (self-described) rational thinkers, I’m guessing/assuming that the Foundation’s use of healthier refers to a food’s specific nutrient content; e.g., an organically grown plum tomato contains no more lycopene than a “conventionally” grown plum tomato; an organic strawberry has no more Vitamin C than a conventionally grown strawberry.

A momentary digression, if you will:  [2] how odd to use that label, as it is only relatively recently in the history of agriculture that conventional refers to plants grown with the aid of non-organic/synthesized fertilizers and pesticides.  Despite its name, today’s “conventional” agricultural methods have only been in development since the late 1800’s and did not become widespread until after World War II.  [3]  What was once conventional – farming and ranching sans non-organic/synthesized fertilizers and pesticides  – is now called organic.

So, where were we? An organic strawberry has no more vitamin C than a conventionally grown strawberry (with its residue of up to 45 pesticides residue, as per by the USDA).

That is a true statement.

It is also a narrowly-focused, blinkered, missing the fucking point/ignoring the evidence statement. For either and all you s, organic food is “healthier,” for us all, even for those who’ve never eaten an organic strawberry, in so many ways that have nothing to do with nutrition/RDA content.  A Foundation whose name touts “reason” should know about the plethora of reasons, based on evidence, why organically raised food is healthier, for us all.

Neurological disorders, contaminated drinking water, nutrient-depleted habitats and global warming don’t give a rat’s ass about Vitamin C content.  Fuck the Vitamin C content.

 

 

astonishedspock

That would seem to be an anatomical impossibility. Nevertheless, I am interested in your arguments.

 

 

 

Defining the terms, once again:

Conventional agriculture = farming systems which utilize synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides.  Organic farming (aka sustainable agriculture or permaculture) = farming which relies on crop rotation, animal and plant manures as fertilizers, some hand weeding and biological pest control.

Food produced under the latter system, aka organic food, is healthier for you, in many ways and with regard to many factors, including but not limited to:

* Runoff and leaching from non-organic farm and ranch lands pollutes rivers, streams and groundwater, contributes to habitat disintegration for trout and salmon and other aquatic species, and contaminates our drinking water supply.

“Agriculture is the nation’s leading cause of impaired water quality, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.”
(What Is Farm Runoff Doing To The Water? Scientists Wade In, NPR, All Things Considered)

 

* There is no Plan B – or rather, Planet B – when it comes to where we live. The “environment” is our home. What would you think of someone who shat in his kitchen sink and then used the sink to brine his Thanksgiving turkey?  [4]  The environmental costs of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides include:

“… wholesale pollution of most of our streams, rivers, ponds, lakes and even coastal areas, as these synthetic chemicals run-off into the nearby waterways.”
(How Fertilizers Harm Earth More Than Help Your Lawn: Chemical runoff from residential and farm products affects rivers, streams and even the ocean,
Scientific American)

* Pesticides (insecticides, herbicides, rodenticides and fungicides) are a public health concern.  Synthetic pesticides are known to cause poisoning, infertility and birth defects, as well as damage to the nervous system. Some are known carcinogens.

* The use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides poses dangers to humans working with or in proximity to the same, via exposure through the pesticides’ application and the harvesting and handling of the plants to which the pesticides are applied.

Pesticide exposure causes farmworkers to suffer more chemical-related injuries and, illnesses than any other workforce in the nation.
(Pesticide Safety, Farmworkers Justice)

Parkinson’s Disease, anybody? This devastating, progressive and incurable neurodegenerative disorder has multiple suspected causes, one of the strongest links being pesticide exposure.

“The data confirm it: farmers are more prone to Parkinson’s than the general population. And pesticides could be to blame. Over a decade of evidence shows a clear association between pesticide exposure and a higher risk for the second most common neurodegenerative disease…”
(Parkinson’s Disease and Pesticides: What’s the Connection? Scientific American),

Even without direct consumption of pesticides – let’s say I diligently wash and peel my carrots and never lick an unwashed, Thiabendazole   [5]-dipped apple, pesticides still have many routes of introduction in to human and animal tissues.

“Within a human or animal body, pesticides may be metabolized, excreted, stored, or bioaccumulated in body fat. The numerous negative health effects that have been associated with chemical pesticides include…dermatological, gastrointestinal, neurological, carcinogenic, respiratory, reproductive, and endocrine effects.”
(Chemical Pesticides and Human Health: The Urgent Need for a New Concept in Agriculture, Frontiers in Public Health, US National Library of Medicine)

* The production, and distribution and use of synthetic fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides contribute to and exacerbate global warming.

Some pesticides produce volatile organic compounds that pollute the atmosphere when they react with other chemicals. This reaction produces tropospheric ozone, which…traps in heat….The base chemicals that are used to create pesticides can be harmful to the environment even before they are combined with other chemicals to create pesticides. For example, nitrogen oxide is a gas that blocks sunlight and traps heat. The legislature body of Roxbury declared in its laws, “Nitrogen-based fertilizers release unnatural amounts of nitrogen oxide into the atmosphere causing the greenhouse effect which results in further global warming.”
(The Effects of Pesticides on Global Warming, greenscience.com )

 

 

DUH

Don’t make me cite even more face-palming evidence.

 

 

“Embrace conclusions based on evidence.” – Yes, that would be nice of you to do so. Organic food is healthier, for us all.

 

*   *   *

Department Of I Have Her Permission To Post About This

The joys of listening to your children babble in a post-surgical,  [6] pain-medicated, happy voice are not to be underestimated. How MH and I wish we’d thought to record son K on his ride home from the oral surgeon’s office, those many years ago.  We remembered to do so when it came Belle’s turn to have her wisdom teeth removed, and although she had some random non sequiturs of note, at least (to our knowledge) she did not propose to her nurse:

 

 

 

 

 

We’ve discovered that opportunities for the gathering of anesthesia-induced babbling memories do not fade with age, and are perhaps even more enjoyable when your children are young adults. Last Friday afternoon, Belle underwent a procedure which required general anesthesia. After MH and I were allowed to see her in the post-op recovery room, I did not record her ramblings (Belle was with it enough to object to that), but did manage to take a few notes. There are some gems I know I missed, mostly because, I just wanted to be present to enjoy the stream of conscious moments caused by her brain only partially connecting with her mouth.

* “Is there boob PT? (After MH and I told Belle that the upper floors of the building she was in were dominated by Orthopedic surgeons and PTs -Psychical Therapists.)

*   “It stays on for THREE DAYS.” Belle pointed to the anti-nausea patch the anesthesiologist had placed on the side of her neck, then lowered her voice to a solemn whisper. “That’s a lotta days!”

* Belle said the nurses told her she was talking about bear heads (“Let me tell you about the grizzly bear head…”), and that they don’t get many people who talk about bear heads.   [7]

* “Do you remember when people were, like, in the future, everything will be chrome? It didn’t happen. I think they meant stainless steel.”

* Belle: “I’d like to be Spider-Man.”

moiself: “But you don’t like spiders.”

Belle: No sir, I do not. But, I appreciate spiders.”

*  “Seth Meyers is like a marshmallow, with good hair.”  [8]

While waiting for the nurse to remove her IV, Belle began to describe to MH and I, with great seriousness, how the cycle of banana mitosis and meiosis indicates that bananas can tell time. The morning after her surgery, I asked Belle if she remembered doing that. She said she didn’t, but that it’s no surprise because, “Actually, I talk about that a lot.”  [9]

 

 

 

carmen

Why carry a watch when you can just ask the banana on your head what time it is?

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of But I Did *Not* Ask Her Permission To Post *This*

Dateline: Sunday eve. MH was out of town, so it was friend LH, son K, daughter Belle and moiself who comprised our  “movie” awards  night party, a family tradition (previously mentioned several times in this venue, including here and here) consisting of watching an entertainment awards show on TV (but only the “biggies” – the Oscars, Emmys, Golden Globes and Tonys) whilst dining on “movie food” (defined as hot dogs,  [10] popcorn, nachos,  Skittles and Junior Mints and Red Vines licorice and/or your favorite movie theatre candies and snacks, washed down with liberal amounts of a sparkling beverage).

After enjoying marshmallow man Seth Meyer’s witty opening monologue, we watched as the cameras focused on Nicole Kidman’s table when she rose to accept an acting award.

Belle (commenting on the person sitting next to Ms. Kidman) – “Wait, that’s…her husband? I thought it was a girl.”
Moiself: “That’s Keith Urban, her husband.”
Belle: “Keith who?”
K: He’s a country singer.”
Belle: (snorting in disgust and disbelief): “Nicole Kidman is married to a country singer?!”

 I began to explain why that might be so far-fetched, seeing as how Mr. Urban is a fellow countryman of Ms. Kidman’s.

Moiself: “Well, he’s Australian…”
Belle, interrupting: “Like that makes make it any better?”

 

*   *   *

May being Australian always make it better;
May you embrace conclusions based on evidence; even so…
May you never have to rely upon a banana to tell time;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] Including his defending the “mild pedophilia” (physical and sexual abuse) he experienced at boarding school, and his combative and provocative social media comments .

[2] And I obviously will.

[3] see: Green RevolutionW

[4] Or maybe you’re not afraid of dining with my relatives?

[5] Research shows this commonly used fungicide can penetrate apple peels.

[6] This is contingent upon having surgery for something relatively minor, ala wisdom teeth removal.

[7] This one makes sense to me, and probably was not the non sequitur the nurses thought it to be: Belle has prepped stuffed and mounted a grizzly bear head in her work as a docent for her college’s natural history museum.

[8] I likely sparked that comment by mentioning that Seth Meyers was hosting the Golden Globe Awards show.

[9] She’s a Biology major.

[10] Mine vegan, but still….

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