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The Breath I’m Not Holding

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The right of citizens to peaceably assemble and petition their government was so vital to the framers of our constitution, it was included in the First Amendment. Thus, one of the worst things #45 has done – the photo op stunt he pulled on Monday at the DC Episcopal church – may turn out to be one of his “best,” in that more Republicans are starting to publicly declare just how demented and law-breaking #45 is, re his blatant desecration and violation one of the U.S. Constitution’s most important principles.

What say we take that impeachment vote now, Ladies and Gentlemen of the Congress?

 

 

 

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Department Of Keeping It Real

I am becoming acutely aware of the Passage of Time ® (translation:  like every living thing around me, I’m getting older). However, I have been unaware of any corresponding increase in moiself’s  personal maturity index, a phenomenon which, I was assured by my elders, was one of the benefits (the only benefit, according to my perennially grumpety  [1]   Aunt Erva) of aging.

I think they lied.

Dateline on Monday morning circus 7:55 AM, returning from morning walk. I passed the house of our next-door neighbors, who have been doing some lawn-decorating things the past few weeks, and noticed that they’ve placed two bronze Great Blue Heron statues in the corner of their yard closest to our front yard berm. Moiself’s  very first thought upon noticing the gap in the beak of heron #1, was a gleeful, “There’s just enough space to put a toy cigar in there!”

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of A Thought That Surprised Even Moiself

This festering hemorrhoid of a human being…. 

Such are my usual thoughts about the Current Occupant of the White House, whom moiself  variously refers to in these posts as #45 (when I’m feeling magnanimous), or The Mandarin Mussolini and The Cheetos Hitler (when I’m feeling realistic).  Imagine my surprise when on Monday eve, while scrolling through the news stories reporting the latest divisive shit you-know-who has flung, my quavering intellectual commitment    [2]  to the principle of Radical Empathy chose that moment to raise its pointy little head and ask a question that, actually and literally, tugged at my heart:

Does anyone love this man?

It was the saddest of questions, posed from and to moiself, and accompanied by a flood of melancholy. 

Does anyone love this man?

This Man, from all accounts ranging from the objective to the slavish, seems to have led the kind of life for which the answer to the question would be an easy, *No. *Of course not.*

His family: women and wives and children, collected and curated, tolerated and paraded about by him, then ignored/cast aside when it suits him…these “family” members seemingly tolerate the situation (do they even have what could remotely be called a “relationship”) for status and monetary gain.  This Man has no verifiable friends; he does have paid staff, and minions and political “associates” (I think frenemies, rather than associates or allies, is the more accurate term for what they are), all of whom seem willing to sacrifice whatever principals they may have convinced themselves they hold for the perceived benefits of being in his circle of power, publicity, and influence.

But does anyone really love him, personally? Does anyone really love him enough to say what they would say to any other person they loved who was in a similar situation?

What you are doing– it’s not good for you.
You are hurting yourself; you are obviously in a great deal of pain…

Forget concern for their country (if they have any), for the moment.  If someone, anyone, truly loves This Man – even if they support his politics and think he is handling things “correctly” – wouldn’t they advise him that, for the sake of his physical, emotional and mental health, he needs to quit his toxic job, get some rest, and work on his well-being?

This Man is palpably, all-encompassingly, wretchedly, miserably, unhappy. I can’t think of a word strong and deep enough to convey what I think he “feels,” about his position in the world.

His faux gloating and/or triumphant expressions are just that – fake, a simulation of smirking indifference to hide his genuine  [3]  distress.

Like an addict, This Man doesn’t know how to stop what he’s doing.  And unlike many addicts, there seems to be no one who loves him, who will intervene and tell him the truth, and care about what he is doing to *himself.*

 

I would try to love him and tell him the truth if I could, but I’m just an adorable baby sloth in pajamas.

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Things I Meant To Do, But Couldn’t

Last week, in my post mentioning how “Jane Roe” was paid by the anti-abortion crowd to publicly flip her pro-choice position, I stated that the tactics used and falsehoods told by anti-abortionists don’t surprise many of us who’ve worked in women’s reproductive health care. I also wrote that I would tell a very specific story (my WEBA story) related to that in next week’s post, which – due to the earth’s rotating on its axis while it also circles the sun – is now this week’s post.

That was my intention last week. Then, there was this week, which made me feel this weak.

 

 

Given the blatant *murder* of yet another black man by yet another white police officer, yet again bringing our country’s inadequately addressed, systemic racism to the forefront; given the misunderstood-by-those-who-most-need-to-pay-attention protests, starting out peaceful then in some cases being hijacked by misdirecting looters; given, once again, the rhetoric of inflaming tension rather than calling for unity coming from the White House occupant, along with his subsequent, blasphemous   [4]  and constitutional-trashing church “visit”…. I barely had the emotional energy to type anything of interest.

Tune in next week for the story of the WEBA (hint: it is not a Smurf or other animated character). In hopes of a better next week, moiself  shall move on to what has become a barely tolerated highly anticipated blog feature of 2020.

*   *   *

Pun For The Day

I know a guy who’s addicted to brake fluid, but he says he can stop any time.

 

Can you, like, just tell me when I’m, like, supposed to laugh?

 

*   *   *

 

“Be a lamp, or a lifeboat, or a ladder”…
“…or a whoopee cushion.”

The quote is from the Persian poet Rumi,   [5]  the addendum courtesy of comic Paula Poundstone.  Sage advice from the timeless philosopher poet, with a jester’s timely codicil regarding our need for balance.

Yes, take what’s going on very seriously; take yourself not so seriously…  Also, take *care* of yourself, and someone else, if you can.

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

May you love someone enough to (at least) notice when they are hurting;
May you be a part of the solution by realizing you are a part of the problem;
May you be the whoopie cushion life so desperately needs right now;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

*   *   *

[1] As in, grumpy and crotchety.  The world needs this adjective. You’re welcome. And we all have an Aunt Erva in our lives (even if she sometimes assumes a form and/or gender other than that of your aunt).

[2] Which is in contrast to my gut reactions to This Man and what he does, which can be along the lines of, “This person needs to be ground underneath a stormtrooper’s boot….”

[3] And totally self-absorbed, of course.

[4] A term used by many Christians re the stunt he pulled at the DC church.

[5] Rumi was a 13th-century Persian poet, who today is one of the best selling (dead) poets in the USA.

The Thoughts I’m Not Deepening

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Department Of As The Isolation Lengthens The Thoughts Deepen
(or…not)

These times of uncertainty are also times of having more time – perhaps, too much time – to ponder the great existential questions of our age. All issues, from the profound to the mundane, may come to mind in the blink of an eye…or the punch of a car radio button. 

Dateline: Wednesday, late a.m., driving home from the grocery store. “Those nachos were really hard on my stomach,” moans a voice in a radio ad, which segues into the familiar Pepto-Bismol commercial jingle.  I listen to a chorus of pleasant voices warble the praises of a product which, they assure me, will sooth just about whatever ails a person’s digestive tract, and I wonder about the singers of such jingles.  I assume they do commercials and voice-overs as a way to supplement their income – from what I gather, the life of most professional vocalists is fraught with uncertainty, and they take whatever gigs pay the bills.  Still, I wonder if the young (I’m assuming) man with the lovely tenor voice ever imagined, during all those years in the practice rooms as he was training his “ear,” learning to sight read and honing other skills in pursuit of his BFA in Vocal Performance, that he would one day be in a recording studio to practice holding just the right amount of vibrato on the end syllable of, “diarrhea-aaaaaaaah ?   [1]

 

 

 

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Department Of Screaming At People Who Can’t Hear Me
Chapter 375 In A Never-Ending Series

Dateline: May 9, 7 a.m.-ush, out for a walk, listening to the most recent Radiolab podcast: David and Dominique. From the Radiolab website, here is the episode’s description:

David ___ and Dominique ___ have a couple of things in common: they both live in New York, they’re both gay, and they’re both HIV-positive. But David is in his 60s and has been living with the disease since moving to New York in the ‘80s. Dominique, on the other hand, is only in his early 30s…this episode features a very special conversation between David and Dominique about the similarities and differences in their experiences living with HIV.

Dominique, as part of his job working for a gay men’s health crisis type organization, advises people on safe sex practices. In the last third of the interview Dominique talked with David about contracting HIV and the medications he, like David, now must take, for life.  Dominique had been HIV negative, but when he entered into what he thought was a mutually monogamous relationship, he stopped using safe sex practices. David asked Dominique if he is embarrassed about having HIV; Dominique vehemently denied that, and claimed he doesn’t regret anything. Dominique also said that when people find out about his HIV status change, some have asked him if, looking back, would he change things – what would he do different (ly)?

“I wouldn’t change *anything.*  I made a conscious decision to be in love.  If I had to change one thing I will say I wish I were in a relationship with someone who was more honest….but, like, people were saying…”don’t you wished you had ‘wrapped it up,’ and I know this (the question David had asked him, about embarrassment) is not a safe sex question, but no I probably wouldn’t have used a condom because I was in a trusting relationship, we were getting tested, right? So, I wouldn’t change anything…”

 

 

I know what I am *supposed *to think when, someone says something like that.  Moiself  is supposed to think, Oh how honest how brave how heroic/noble.

Instead, I blurted out, to the pavement and the crows perched in the trees, what I honestly and absolutely do think:

“What an idiot!”

What a shallow, non-introspective idiot.

 

 

It’s the same thing I say – usually to moiself –  when I encounter similar declarations from any individual (via personal conversation with a friend or family member or colleague, or reading an interview with or bio about a notable person) who declares that, looking back on their life, they wouldn’t change a thing.

This kind of no-regrets/I-wouldn’t-change-anything assertion (read: humble-brag) is usually/immediately followed by the explanation/justification about how the ups and downs of life, the good the bad and the ugly, have all contributed to their whole persona and/or where they are today….

Now, I don’t disagree with the we-are-everything-that-we-have-done-have-had-done-to-us sentiment. Rather, I take *strong* issue with the idea that *no regrets* is a positive, even admirable, quality for a human being to have, or strive for.

 

Or a thoughtful non-Terran, for that matter.

 

In my opinion, if you have no regrets, you simply have not paid attention.  If you have no regrets, you probably have little empathy. What is the point of self-reflection if you learn nothing from that which, you realize, was a regrettable action on your part?

Can we truly learn from our mistakes if we don’t admit or identify what was a mistake?  And yes, the question of changing one’s actions (“Looking back, what would you do differently?”) can be viewed as moot, since the opportunity to do so has, so far, only presented itself in science fiction movies and novels.  Still, I mistrust a person who says that, knowing what they know now, they would do everything the same. I think a person who confidently makes such a declaration hasn’t *really* thought the question through… or if they have and still hold that absolutist conclusion, they are shallow and/or callous.

Because our mistakes don’t just hurt our own selves.

The young man (YM) whose drunk driving killed my friend’s son (and another passenger in YM’s truck) served a jail sentence for “gross vehicular manslaughter.” I sincerely hope that he put his time in jail to good use; even more sincerely, I hope he never expresses any variation of how, if given the proverbial time travel opportunity, he “wouldn’t change a thing” because now he is more thoughtful and/or learned some bit life lessons, or now he knows from *personal experience* why people should never drink and drive….  There are *so* many other ways YM could have learned those lessons than by causing the death of his friends and the enduring agony of their loved ones.

So, to any of us who have ever (probably in haste and somewhat thoughtlessly) boasted said that we “…have no regrets/ would do everything over again,” moiself  asks,

 

 

You would never take back words said or actions done in anger or haste –  words and deeds that didn’t instigate international armed conflict but nevertheless caused someone acute or ongoing pain?  You would never admit to wishing you’d spent more time getting to know certain people (the shy or nerdy or otherwise “uncool” kid at school or work, or your aging relatives), instead of spending so much time and energy on people (the “popular” gang at school, the influential go-getters at work) whom, if you met ’em today, you wouldn’t give ’em directions to the outhouse?

Yeah, it’s your body and you don’t regret any of those cigarettes,  [2]  Ms. Marching Bravely To The Grave…but it’s never *just* your body, honey.  It’s your friends and family and colleagues who also suffer, physically as well as mentally and emotionally, as they watch you slowly suffocate to death; it’s your colleagues who must pick up the slack at work; it’s the health care system you burden….

Just to be clear, by regrets I’m talking honest self-assessment here, and not in any way encouraging shame-obsessed wallowing (which, in the opinions of both moiself  and the American Psychological Association – jolly good of them to agree with me, don’t you think? –  usually benefits no one).

Moiself  has learned from the “regrets” examples of others, when they have shared what they’ve regretted.  I can think of more than one occasion where I have stopped moiself from doing/saying similar hurtful things or rephrased my thoughts or changed my course of action, because of someone else’s admission of regret for having done something similar. And yes of course, I’ve learned from my own mistakes, but so many of them… well, there were other ways I could have learned those lessons, other ways which did not involve being unkind to other folks. 

I don’t think that people should regret *everything* (that they either knew at the time or that turned out to be a bad move on their part).  I do hold that those who’ve convinced themselves that they regret *nothing* are demonstrating that they have learned nothing about what it means to walk through this world as a sentient being.  To any and all  No-regrets folk, please: Do the world a favor: find a sci-fi time travel machine and go back and work on yourself.

 

Honestly, could a face like this have any regrets?

 

*   *   *

Department of The Corona Virus Playlist
The Honky-Tonk Country Music Edition

There are more sub-genres of Country Music than there are hook extender panels on Dolly Parton’s brassieres’ straps.  Honky-Tonk, a term whose etymology is disputed, generally refers to the kind of music which emerged from early 1900s piano bars which provided country music – often referred to (by the music industry) – as hillbilly music – to entertain their patrons. As per Wikipedia:

Originally, [honky tonk music] featured the guitar, fiddle, string bass, and steel guitar. The vocals were originally rough and nasal, as exemplified by the singer-songwriters Floyd Tillman and Hank Williams, but later developed a clear and sharp sound, such as that of George Jones and Faron Young. Lyrics tended to focus on working-class life, with frequently tragic themes of lost love, adultery, loneliness, alcoholism, and self-pity.

Moiself  has listed some of those exemplars of honky-tonk song titles which are IMHO, applicable to our social-isolating, transmission–paranoid, COVID-19 times, and which, in small groupings, imply a related story.

I’ve Been Out A-walkin’
I’ll Give You Something To Drink About
If Drinking Don’t Kill Me
God’s Gonna Get ‘cha
Your Cheating Heart
Hell Stays Open All Night Long

All My Friends Are Gonna Be Strangers
Blue Side Of Lonesome
We Live In Two Different Worlds
Bridge Washed Out
Don’t Let Me Cross Over

Just Waitin’
I Love You So Much It Hurts
Near You
Nothing Can Stop My Loving You
Drivin’ Nails in My Coffin

We Must Have Been Out Of Our Minds
We’re Gonna Hold On
There’s The Door
How Can You Refuse Him Now
When The Grass Grows Over Me

Be Careful Of Stones You Throw
Alone And Forsaken
I Love You So Much It Hurts
I Just Don’t Like This Kind Of Livin’
I’ve Just Told Mama Goodbye

Take These Chains From My Heart
The Angel Of Death
The Old Log Train
Wealth Won’t Save Your Soul
You’re Barkin’ Up The Wrong Tree Now

*   *   *

Pun For The Day

Puns about German sausages are the wurst.

 

Nein! Nein! Nein!

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Department of Epicurean Excursion Evolution  [3]

 

 

And here’s what I made for ours, one day this week.

Featuring this week’s Theme Day (Thirsty Thursday – soup) and recipe:

* Celeriac soup (escorted by garbanzo bean salad, horseradish beets, Chinese broccoli mushroom stir-fry.)

 

My rating:

☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

Recipe Rating Refresher  [4]

 

*   *   *

May you truly not have a reason to regret the majority of your regrets;
May time spent reading this blog *not* be one of your regrets;
May jingles about intestinal distress remedies never intrude upon your deep thoughts;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

*   *   *

 

[1] I wonder how that credit appears on a professional vocalist’s resumé?

[2] A declaration from one (there have been so many) of my relatives who died from smoking-related or caused disease. This particular one had arranged with a doctor she used to work for to insure that nothing related to cancer/smoking would go on her death certificate (she was too proud for what to her would have been an admission, that, as a former nurse, she “should have known better”) .

[3] A recurring feature of this blog, since week 1 of April 2020, wherein moiself decided that moiself would go themes as listed in the 4-3-20 blog.

[4]

* Abject Failure:  I’ll make a canned wieners & SpaghettiOs gelatin mold before I make this recipe again.
* Tolerable:  if you have the proper…attitude.
* Yep: why, sure, I’d share this with my cat.
* Now you’re talkin’: Abby the support Avocado ® approves.
* Yummers: So good, it merits The Purple Tortilla Chip Of Exclamation ® !

 

The Letter (To The Editor) I’m Not Sending

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Department Of Although I Promised Not To Use The Term
“Silver Lining” When Referring To A Pandemic….

…there is at least one good thing to come from our world’s current situation. The “good” I refer to is a side effect of the stay at home/shelter in place/physical distancing/non-essential business closures. This side effect – I need a better term; ’tis not marginal consequence – provides some evidence that it might not be too late for us (humans). It’s the realization that, when we stop screwing with Mother Nature, even inadvertently, we begin to clean her (read: our) house.

“4.2 Million Deaths per year attributed to ambient (outdoor) air pollution.
…. The combined effects of ambient (outdoor) and household air pollution cause about seven million premature deaths every year, largely as a result of increased mortality from stroke, heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lung cancer and acute respiratory infections.
( World Health Organization website, health topic: air pollution )

 

New Delhi, during rush hour…not at night.

 

Imagine living a mere 500 miles from the world’s tallest mountain range – in the geographic scale that means Mt. Everest is practically in your backyard – but you haven’t been able to see the world’s tallest peak in 30 years?

* Residents in the northern Indian state of Punjab say they’re seeing the Himalayas for the first time in decades while on coronavirus lockdown.
*Since India was put on lockdown in March to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, the country’s air quality
has seen immense improvement.
*The air quality has increased because public transportation has stopped,
fewer people are driving, and there’s less air traffic in the skies.
( excerpts from “India’s air quality has improved so much since the country
went on coronavirus lockdown; citizens can now see the Himalayas
for the first time in 30 years,” Reuters)

“The reductions in air pollution in China caused by this economic disruption likely saved twenty times more lives in China than have currently been lost due to infection with the virus in that country.”
( Marshall Burke, assistant professor, Stanford Department of Earth System Science, from CNN’s China’s coronavirus lockdown curbs deadly pollution, likely saving the lives of tens of thousands, says researcher” )

It remains to be seen, of course, how people and businesses adjust after the various stay-at-home restrictions are lifted.  That tiny, optimistic part of my brain – a part so small it cannot be located on this map of basic brain regions –

 

(that tiny part is located behind the brainstem and contains the pathways for minor yet essential neutral activities, including optimism, holding grudges, understanding fart jokes….)

 

– that part lets me hope that all sides of this multi-faceted situation, from big and small businesses to individuals, will see the benefits of working (at least part time) from home where and when possible, and coordinate alternative solutions to our transportation and energy needs and uses.  

 

*   *   *

Department Of The Letter (To The Editor) I’m Not Sending

That would be a letter in response to The Oregonian’s front page promo puff piece article several weeks back, titled “Crafting an Easter message of hope and faith at a time when both seem elusive.”

The article was written by staff writer Tom Hallman Jr., who purported to explore “finding the light in a season of darkness” and other such (supposed) Easter themes, all from Christian points of view.  [1]

I wasn’t sure what to call the piece when I first read it, and even now.  “Article” is too neutral, for that which was essentially a newspaper staff member’s promotion of a particular religious faith; also, it ran on the front page of a (supposedly) neutral newspaper, and not in the op-ed section.

Moiself  meant to craft a response of some sort, something compelling and rational, a day or so after reading the article, which is when my feedback would have been more topical, if not appreciated. You know the advice: “Strike while the iron is hot;“Make hay when the sun shines,” and…um…“Tee up while the caddy isn’t looking” – all those inspirational sayings from the pantheon of metallurgical, agricultural and sports idioms which make this The Greatest Nation On Earth ® .

 

 

I wanted to ask Hallman if, in light of the COVID-19 crisis (or for other reasons), he is planning on doing comparable PR pieces/blatant bootlickery  articles on religious faiths besides Christianity, as well as articles exploring religion-free worldviews, during their respective, reflective, special times and/or celebrations?

MH has an abundance of co-workers who hail from all over the world, largely from India and other south Asian countries. These folks, who have become an integral part of the Portland Metro area society and workforce, have a variety of cultural and worldview roots, including Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, Sikh (and secular!). What about their – and other – ways of “finding light in darkness?”

The Hindu multi-day celebration of Ganesh Chathrthi will be coming up this summer. Ganesh is a Hindu avatar known as the “remover of obstacles” and “imparter of wisdom”– attributes even non-Hindus can appreciate, especially in these COVID-19 times when there are obstacles aplenty (and a shortage of wisdom, considering what passes as “leadership” from the White House).   

Besides (and no disrespect intended), who doesn’t enjoy the image of a colorfully-dressed, multiple-limbed elephant avatar (and his ever-present rodent sidekick)?

 

 

The Muslim holy month of Ramadan, a time of fasting, reflection, and community, is ongoing, as I type.  Vesak Day, upcoming any day now,  [2]  is observed worldwide by Buddhists (and some Hindus), who, heeding the Buddha’s exhortation that the only way to truly honor him is to follow his teachings, encourage love, peace and harmony via “noble deeds” such as donating to charity, organizing blood donation drives, distributing gifts and food to those in need, etc.

Portland has a thriving Pagan community, and given the past months of uncertainty (and those to come), the Wiccan celebration of Lughnasad (August 1) will hold special meaning this year. What can Wiccans teach non-wiccans, with analogies via a celebration filled with both the hopes and fears that are as real today as they were in ancient times: hopes for a bountiful harvest and abundant food, juggled with fears that the harvest might not be enough and that the approaching winter will be filled with struggle and deprivation.

Here’s one of Hallman’s opening statements, in his The Oregonian Easter article:

“What we’re hungry for is an answer of certainty. Given that (his prior statements of the worries of our time, including spread of a new disease, school and economic closures and general life disruption and uncertainty)…Is there a place this Easter for a message rooted in something as nebulous as the concept of Christian faith?”

Here moiself’s  reflective statement, after reading Hallman’s article: Will be we be seeing a front page feature on the relevancy of modern interpretations of ancient celebrations – as we did with Easter –  illustrating other worldviews, e.g., the Wiccan acknowledgement of facing your fears, concentrating on developing your own abilities, and taking steps to protect yourselves and your homes?  Are Hallman and/or other Oregonian reporters going to write about that?

 

We’ll get right on it.

 

Or, how about space for a message that needs no special time of year, in contrast to (using Hallman’s wording) “a message rooted in something as nebulous as the Christian faith”   [3] :

“Is there a place for a non-nebulous message — a message as far as possible from supernaturalism, and which is as grounded as the principles of Humanism?”

These principles, found in greater detail here, are, briefly and chiefly:

Humanism affirms both the ability and responsibility  of people to live their lives and pursue opportunities compatible with social and planetary harmony, and seek the greater good for our fellow human beings. Since it is free of theism and other supernatural beliefs, humanism derives the goals of life from human need and interest, rather than from theological or ideological abstractions, and asserts that humanity must take responsibility for its own destiny.

 

 American Humanist Association logo

 

“Protestants and Catholics are shrinking as a share of U.S. population;
all subsets of “none” are growing.”
(“In U.S., Decline of Christianity Continues at Rapid Pace,”
Pew Research Center, 10-17-19, Religion and Public Life)

 

It should come as no surprise that, along with the nationwide increase in the number of people who ( are willing to   [4] ) identity as Atheists, Agnostics, Skeptics, Freethinkers, et al., at least one third of Oregonians claim a “not-affiliated/none” label when asked to list their religious affiliation . Added with the number of people practicing non-Christian faiths, that makes ~ forty percent of Oregonians who are “Christianity-free.”  That sounds like a subject worthy of exploration in a publication which calls itself The Oregonian.

 

“You heard the lady; we’ll get right on it.

 

*   *   *

Department of The Corona Virus Playlist
Los Angeles Seminal Punk Rock Bands Edition

And by seminal moiself  is referring to how influential and ground-breaking were the punk bands which formed and played in So Cal in the late 1970s/early1980s – not the variety of bodily fluids that were flung onstage during a Germs performance.

Along with the afore-mentioned Germs, Bands in this genre include Black Flag, Alice Bag Band, the Circle Jerks, Catholic Discipline, Fear, and (my personal favorite), X.

Moiself  has listed some of those groups’ song titles which are IMHO, applicable to our social-isolating, transmission–paranoid, COVID-19 times, and which, in small groupings, imply a related story.

 

Modern Man
American Waste
Annihilate This Week
Beat My Head Against The Wall
Fix Me
Life Of Pain

I’ve Had It
Loose Nut
Nervous Breakdown
Nothing Left Inside
Padded Cell
Shut Down

Media Blitz
I Don’t Care About You
Let’s Have a War
We Destroy The Family
Have A Beer With Fear
World Up My Ass

 

 

Deny Everything
Moral Majority
Killing For Jesus
Your Phone’s Off The Hook, But You’re Not
Back Against The Wall
We’re Desperate

I’m Coming Over
Some Other Time
When Our Love Passes Out On The Couch
Under The Big Black Sun
How I Learned My Lesson

I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts
Painting The Town Blue
What’s Wrong With Me
Lettuce and Vodka
Live Fast Die Young

*   *   *

Pun For The Day

I’m reading a book about anti-gravity.  I just can’t put it down

 

MAKE IT STOP

*   *   *

Department of Epicurean Excursion  Evolution  [5]

And here’s what I made for ours, one day this week

Featuring this week’s Theme Day and recipe:
Mushroom-Miso-Mustard Monday: Mushroom Stroganoff Over Roast Cauliflower

My rating: 

☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

Recipe Rating Refresher  [6]

*   *   *

May you find your own silver linings (and perhaps a better term to describe them)
in times of stress and deprivation;
May you be able to spot the mountain ranges – be they metaphorical or
actual – from your own backyard;
May you embrace the part of your humanity that takes responsibility for its own destiny;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

[1] Which, like the name “Easter,” was appropriated by early Christians from Celtic, Germanic and Pagan cultures.

[2] Many religious or cultural holidays use a particular culture’s ancient lunar – rather than the contemporary Gregorian – calendar, and so their date(s) vary from year to year.

[3] I would add, “or any religion” when it comes to being nebulous.

[4] Those who are open about being religion-free face “intense prejudice” in this country.

[5] A recurring feature of this blog, since week 1 of April 2020, wherein moiself decided that moiself would go themes as listed in the 4-3-20 blog.

[6]

* Abject Failure:  I’ll make a canned wieners & SpaghettiOs gelatin mold before I make this recipe again
* Tolerable:  if you have the proper…attitude.
* Yep: why, sure, I’d share this with my cat.
* Now you’re talkin’: Abby the support Avocado ® approves.
* Yummers: So good, it merits The Purple Tortilla Chip Of Exclamation ® !

 

The Excuses I’m Not Excusing

Comments Off on The Excuses I’m Not Excusing

Department of War Is Hell
(And Also Entertaining, In A Masterpiece Theatre Production)

MH and I watched season 1 of World on Fire, “an adrenalized, emotionally gripping and resonant World War II drama that follows the intertwining fates of ordinary people in five countries as they grapple with the effects of the war on their everyday lives.” Which is * exactly * how I was going to describe it to y’all, until  Masterpiece Theatre’s website did it first and saved me the trouble of using terms like resonant.

The seven part series, which follows the first year of (the European experience of) WWII, left us looking forward to the second season (not yet available, but in the works).  Moiself  of course wants to see how the *intertwining fates of ordinary people*  plays out; also, I’m curious to see if something moiself  noticed, about the presentation of the series’ male and female characters’ personalities, continues into season two.  

With the exception of an endearingly awkward, ethically decent RAF pilot and a shell-shocked WWI vet-turned-pacifist-activist, the male characters seemed rather and  variously “weak” when it came to overall content of character, from their decision-making, treatment of others, and ability to act on – and modify, as circumstances dictated – their principles.  In contrast, the majority of the female characters, no matter their economic, personal, and cultural backgrounds, displayed a certain ethical, temperamental and intellectual strength, despite the chaos and amorality of the war around them.  I wanted to ask the writers and producers, was this gender character discrepancy intentional?

I’m thinking, yes…or at least, maybe…and that it is,at least in part meant to ironically highlight the strength of the women of that time and in those countries, wherein they were viewed as the “weaker” sex.  In so many, many ways (ways that still are in place, around the world), women, indeed, were “weaker” than their male counterparts:

* Women were “weaker” in that being born female automatically assigned them to a lower status in their country, their religion, their own family;

* Women were “weaker” in that they had fewer (if any, in some cases) civil rights or personal, professional, educational opportunities as compared to men, yet they were subject to life-altering decisions imposed upon them by (male) politicians, religious and cultural leaders, as well as that of their own and husbands, fathers, and male kin;

* Women were “weaker” in that their opportunities for self-determination were limited, and if somehow they were able to take direct action they had to do so at the sacrifice of what was considered a normal life and risk incurring societal shaming and ostracizing;

* Women were “weaker” in that the personal life choices both men and woman made had very different consequences for women than for men (e.g. extramarital sex; bearing vs. fathering a child out of wedlock).

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Talking Back To Someone Who Can’t Hear Me

Dateline: last week, circa 7:45 am on a rainy morning.  Moiself  is listening to a Fresh Air podcast during my morning walk. I’m at the end of the podcast, a slot typically reserved for a book, film or other artistic review.  As book critic Maureen Corrigan begins her segment on “Need A Mental Escape? These Books Offer Solace In Troubled Times,” my mind begins to drift. I’m snapped back to the present when I hear Corrigan, speaking about who she thinks of when she thinks about her favorite food writers, say that she always thinks of:

“…the immortal Laurie Colwin, who died in 1992.

With only the raindrops splashing up from the street to hear me, I blurt out:

“Well then, she wasn’t exactly immortal, was she?”

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Sometimes I Don’t Even Ask, “What?” (Or, “Why?”)

Sight of the week, spotted at the entrance to our cul-de-sac, while moiself is driving to the grocery store: An Older Gentleman (late 70s, I’d guess), is standing on our street corner, talking to a neighbor (they are a bit closer to each other than social distancing norms would recommend, and neither is wearing a mask).

 

 

As I round approach and then round the corner I see that the OG is holding a…gas dispenser nozzle?  Yep, that’s what it is…in each hand.  OG (consciously or otherwise) uses the nozzles to gesture as he speaks.  Neither nozzle is attached to a hose, or anything else –  they are just nozzles, no gas tank or gas station in sight.

 

“For the last time, Regular or premium, and do you want your receipt?!”

*   *   *

 

Department Of Excuses In The Coronavirus Age

My late mother  [1]  was born and raised in the small northern Minnesota town of Cass Lake.  A reserved, studious, compliant child, she was never what I would (nor she did) describe as introspective or particularly perceptive. Still, every now and then she’d share with me an anecdote from her childhood which demonstrated, even when it was not the point of the story, that she was paying attention to the world of grown-ups around her, and not always liking or respecting what she saw.

Mom was in her early teens during the WWII era. One time when I asked her to recount some of her wartime memories, the first thing she told me was how she’d noticed that so many of the townsfolk, from merchants to private citizens, used The War ® as an all-purpose excuse or evasion for their mistakes, oversights, and outright incompetencies.

Cass Lake was far off the national defense radar; the town was not a hub or conduit for anything of vital importance  [2]  for The War Effort. ®   Of course, there was rationing of certain goods (e.g., gasoline, butter, sugar, canned milk) and shortages of others (e.g., automobile tires; shoe soles, and other rubber items), like in all towns across the country. Everyone knew this and adjusted their habits and expectations accordingly.  But when your mother asked you to stop on your way home from school at the five and dime store and get a spool of (non-rationed) black thread and the shopkeeper told you he was out of black thread but would put in an order and he’d have it next Tuesday…then when you went to the store on Tuesday and there was still no black thread and you timidly inquired as to when your mother could expect it to be in, the shopkeeper would glare at you and dismissively whine,

“Don’t your folks know there’s a war on?”

 

 

War on- schmoron.  You found out later (from a classmate who had an after-school job in the store’s stockroom) that the shopkeeper had written up his re-supply invoices just before closing time, that very day of your first visit – after he’d taken a late lunch (read: three whiskeys) at the tavern. He’d simply forgotten to include your order, as well as the orders of several other customers, who also found out on Tuesday that the ______ (shoelaces/spatula/salt mill/cornhusker’s lotion) they’d requested were not in because,

“There’s a war on.”

The town’s lone barber station was closed for four hours one Friday afternoon, during your father’s regularly scheduled 2 pm appointment.  It was a sunny day; business was slow, and the barber wanted to go fishing during lunch and stayed at the pond later than he’d planned.  The next day, when your father complained to the barber about leaving work and showing up for his appointment only to find that there was no one there to trim his hair, guess what he heard:

“Don’t you know there’s a war on?”

The one movie theater in town oversold their Saturday matinee.  You and your friend bought tickets to the show but could find not one empty seat in the theater, and when you returned your tickets and asked for your money back, or at least tickets to a later showing:

“Don’t you girls know there’s a war on?”

Y’all get the picture.

 

 

Nowadays, we (allegedly) peacetime Consumers ® get the you-know-what excuses, most frequently encountered when we are put on hold during telephone calls (and we’re making more calls then we used to, what with  sheltering-at-home and not taking our concerns directly to the businesses and organizations) to customer service lines.

First, there are the two customary/introductory lies which accompany our journey to the call waiting queue:

* “We’re experiencing a higher volume of calls than usual…”
(WTF, customer service voice dude!?  This is your default/standard message, no matter what day/time of day I call – which means that since you are *always* experiencing a “higher” volume of calls, by definition you are experiencing just a normal volume of calls…which you can’t admit and so you feed me this bullshit line, trying to get me to imagine 500 people calling at the same time as moiself instead of admitting you don’t have the staff to handle a normal amount of customer calls.)

* “We thank you for your patience.”
(Ahem. I do *not* thank you for your presumption.  We’ve never met; you haven’t even spoken with me, yet you are thanking me for my temperament, when I am not in fact experiencing anything resembling patience.)

Now we move on the Situation Specific Mendacity:

* “Due to the coronavirus, we are ______________

* “…taking extra precautions with your newspaper production and delivery…”

* “…dealing with customers who have extra concerns about our services, and we are doing our utmost to ensure that…”

 

 

Attention, companies:  unless you are a health care business, you can’t use the virus as an excuse for putting us in the same holding pattern you’ve been using FOR YEARS.

No, no, and no – the coronavirus has nothing to do with ourcellphone family plan you altered with neither my request nor permission…. And people are not calling your newspaper’s customer service subscription info line to ask about COVID-19 symptoms…nor are they waiting to speak with a Target customer returns representative about how best to administer the Presidentially-recommended COVID-killing bleach enema….  The timeliness and accuracy, or lack thereof, of your responses to our concerns have to nothing to do with COVID-19, and your call centers/customer service department employees are perfectly capable of lying to us/not listening to our complaints working from home, so don’t be using this as yet another excuse for your ineptitude.

*   *   *

Department of The Corona Virus Playlist
The Weird Al Yankovic Edition

Moiself  has listed some of Weird Al’s song titles which are IMHO, applicable to our social-isolating, transmission–paranoid, COVID-19 times, and which, in small groupings, imply a related story. If I were making a movie of these times, Weird Al might just be the person I’d tap to do the soundtrack.

Germs
Cable Tv
I Can’t Watch This
Callin’ In Sick
The Saga Begins

Stuck In A Closet With Vanna White
Amish Paradise
Laundry Day
I’m So Sick Of You
I Was Only Kidding

Livin’ In The Fridge
Free Delivery
Girls Just Want To Have Lunch
Fast Food

I Love Rocky Road
Rice, Rice Baby
Snack All Night
Fat
Fatter
You Don’t Love Me Anymore
Won’t Eat Prunes Again

Everything You Know Is Wrong
Dare To Be Stupid
I’ll Be Mellow When I’m Dead
Mr. Frump In The Iron Lung

 

 

*   *   *

Pun For The Day

Did you hear about the cross-eyed teacher who lost her job
because she couldn’t control her pupils?

*   *   *

Department of Epicurean Excursion Evolution  [3]

 

And here’s what I made for ours, one day this week.

Featuring this week’s Theme Day and recipe…Never mind.
It was my and MH’s wedding anniversary. We got takeout veggie burgers and tots.  [4]

My rating:

☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

Recipe Rating Refresher  [5]

*   *   *

May you enjoy the petty pleasure of talking back to those who can’t hear you;
May you not accept “coronavirus” excuses for non-coronavirus issues;
May you remember to be mellow when you’re dead;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

[1] Late as in deceased, not as in chronically tardy.

[2] Except of course for the young men (and women) who joined the Armed Forces – thank you for your service (oh…yeah…they’re all dead now…it’s just a reflex, ya know?).

[3] A recurring feature of this blog, since week 1 of April 2020, wherein moiself decided that moiself would go themes as listed in the 4-3-20 blog.

[4] Cajun spiced, okay?

[5]

* Abject Failure:  I’ll make a canned wieners & SpaghettiOs gelatin mold before I make this recipe again.

* Tolerable:  if you have the proper…attitude.

* Yep: why, sure, I’d share this with my cat.

* Now you’re talkin’: Abby the support Avocado ® approves.

* Yummers: So good, it merits The Purple Tortilla Chip Of Exclamation ® !

 

The Tea I’m Not Drinking

1 Comment

Department Of Thanking Them For Their Service

Here’s the vibe I’m getting from listening to/reading interviews with nurses, doctors, home health aides, and other health care workers: They do not want acclaim and platitudes, thank you very much. They want you stop voting for sociopathic ignoramuses who don’t want you to have viable public health care systems in the first place.

 

Sorry; this doesn’t cut it.

 

*   *   *

Department Of As If You Needed Another Reason…

… to transition to plant-based nutrition.  Not to go all PETA on y’all,  [1]  but other than the:

* benefits to your personal health   [2];
*  your concerns re the significant contribution of
animal agriculture and meat consumption to global warming;
* the cruel/abusive practices of intensive/industrial animal farming and your desire to *not,* directly or indirectly, support such practices;

…how about preventing a pandemic or two?

6 in 10 Infectious Diseases Come from Animals
The CDC Is Most Worried About These 8
(  Article in Livescience.com 5-17-19 )

MERS, SARS, many influenza viruses, and now COVID-19   [3] – over half of all infectious diseases are zoonotic; that is, they are spread from animals to humans.

If humans stopped animal food production it would break the major link in the disease chain, via what scientists call the “animal-human interface” – read: the keeping and raising of poultry and animals for human food (“animal husbandry”), which allows for and concentrates “…pathogen movement from confined poultry and swine operations resulting in environmental releases and interspecies transmission…”   [4]

If you didn’t know about the health/climate change/animal abuse aspects of meat production and consumption, or kinda-sorta knew but didn’t care to do some research on the issues…. Well, we’ve got plenty of time on our hands now, don’t we?

 

*   *   *

Department Of Life Is Tough But It’s Even Tougher If You’re Stupid
Chapter 6 In A Series

I don’t UnFriend ® often.  I’ve done the -un thing, hmm, only one or two times that I can recall. One case was after I realized I’d accepted a friend request from someone moiself  didn’t fully recognize but figured was a high school acquaintance…then after some odd postings  [5]  on their part I did some sleuthing (the low-tech variety – I got out my high school yearbooks) and realized that, yep, we’d gone to the same high school, but I’d confused them with someone else, and…yikes.

 

Since when has “un-friend” been a thing?

 

Dateline: March 31. I get a FB message, don’t recognize the name, see a posting that consists of what appears to be photograph of a notice with the eye-catching titled:

“IN ISRAEL NO DEATH FROM COVID 19”

Golly gee, that would be good news…if it were true (which, of course, it isn’t).

This notice, in hilariously horrible, Nigerian-scam worthy English, describes the “super news”  of a “simple recipe” – a lemon bicarbonate tea –  which

immediately kills the virus completely (sic) eliminates it from the body….That is why the People of Israel is (sic) relaxed about this virus. Everyone in Israel drinks a cup of hot water with lemon and a little baking soda at night, as this is proven to kill the virus.”

 

Really.

I looked up the (supposed) sender’s FB profile.  Yep, went to my high school; is friends with several people I know; I can’t recall other FB postings or messages from her.  Poor thing; it’s likely her FB messenger has been hacked (and when she finds out she’ll be sending apology messages to everyone).  But, just to be safe, bye-bye for now.

*   *   *

Department Of Andrew Yang Was Right…But Sooner,
And For a Reason No One Predicted

“… we wind up automating millions of American livelihoods and then are left trying to figure out what the path forward is for those people, their families, those communities. What the pandemic has done is accelerate those circumstances in an incredibly compressed time frame where it has literally sent tens of millions of Americans home all at once.
I was talking about an evolving automated economy that would affect more and more of us home over time. And it’s become painfully obvious that putting money into our hands is the only commonsense solution to keep our families afloat.”
( “Republicans Adopt Andrew Yang’s Cause. He Isn’t Celebrating.”
Politico 3-17-20 )

 

* Over 15 million Americans work in tourism and hospitality—in hotels, amusement parks, art museums, and restaurants—making it the fifth largest industry in the country;
* Another 16 million Americans work in retail (which, 15 years ago, surpassed manufacturing as the country’s largest industry by employment);
* Over 20% of Americans work in retail/hospitality/entertainment industries, which were among the first to be shut down or drastically curtailed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lawyer, entrepreneur, philanthropist, and former Democratic Presidential candidate Andrew Yang, using statistics and economic models and forecasting, warned that in the coming years AI and automation would bring job losses for one third of American workers. This was a major part of the reasoning behind his proposed “Freedom Dividend,”  [6]  an economic stimulus and security plan widely misunderstood and knocked by people on all sides of the political and economic spectrums. And now….

“White House expresses support for immediate cash payments to Americans
as part of coronavirus stimulus package”
(Washington Post 3-17-20)

Check out Yang’s campaign website (which is still up), in particular his policy stands of The Freedom Dividend and Human-Centered Capitalism.

 

*   *   *

Department of The Corona Virus Playlist
Girl Groups Edition

Girl Groups was a term applied to the American female pop music singing groups of the late 1950s – early 1960s.  “The Supremes,” “Martha and the Vandellas,” “The Ronettes” and “The Shangrilas” are examples of the GG genre.

Moiself  has listed some of those groups’ song titles which are IMHO, applicable to our social-isolating, transmission–paranoid, COVID-19 times, and which, in small groupings, imply a related story.

Heatwave
I Gotta Let You Go
Nowhere To Run
In My Lonely Room

Reach Out And Touch
Stop In The Name Of Love
The Beginning Of The End
Where Did Our Love Go?

A Breath-Taking Guy
It’s All Your Fault
You’ll Be Sorry
My World Is Empty Without You
Someday We’ll Be Together

A Change Is Gonna Come
Comin’ Out
Come See About Me
Back In My Arms Again

 

Girl Groups recommend Beehive hairdos for TP, Hand Sanitizer, and all coronavirus storage needs.

 

*   *   *

Epicurean Expedition Evolution

The Epicurean Expedition was a recurring feature of this blog (from a year ago until last week), wherein I decided that moiself  would go through my cookbooks alphabetically and, one day a week, cook at least one recipe from one book for dinner.  It was fun and challenging, the latter via trying to adapt recipes from books I’ve had for decades and which were acquired before moiself became a picky plant-based eater.  Some recipes – in several cases, entire cookbooks – proved almost impossible to adapt while still being true to the spirit of the original (read: almost anything by Julia Child.  All that “buttah” – lawdy, Julia went well-lubricated to her grave).

 

 

In the spirit of been there/done that, aided by the COVID-19 virus-induced, Take On A Project ® mindset and social/physical isolation, I’ve started a new culinary adventure: differing dinner themes.

I’ve done dinner themes before, but never a different one for each day.  When son K and daughter Belle were younger, Friday was the theme day. For a few years it was Make Your Own Za Night, then Friday Fondue, each theme accompanied by what we called “Friday Bread.” (a homemade braided sweet bread with raisins – essentially, a raisin challah).  After our offspring fledged, Friday became just another day for MH and I.

The themes are listed below; I’ll start reporting on them next week, with a completely new, as-of-yet-unchosen rating system (I will miss the Hamster thumbs-up).

I’m giving moiself a lot of leeway in this new EE. Which day will I report on?  Depends on what recipe worked best or failed most epic-ly (let’s face it, epic fails are the most fun to write about).  The power to choose is all mine, mine, MINE, I TELL YOU.   [7]

 

 

Steelhead Sunday
Steelhead, the trout that thinks it’s a salmon, is my go-to fish (and plant-eater moiself still has fish once a week).
This day will be reserved for anything pescatarian .

Mushroom Miso Mustard Monday
Three alliterative ingredients, at least one of which will be featured.

Tofu/Tempeh Tuesday
Fairly straightforward.

  • Wednesday Wraps
    Crepes; tamales; pancakes; tortillas; tacos; spring rolls, dosas….

Thirsty Thursday
Soups gets a starring role on this day.

WTF Friday
Anything goes…including out to dinner (when we’re allowed to do that again)

Sushi / Spaghetti Saturday

Sushi: I hadn’t made it in years.  A couple of weeks ago, inspired by the isolate-at-home mandate (translation: moiself  had a captive audience, as MH and I would not be going out to eat) I decided to do some maki rolls, and had a lot of fun.
I’m going to offend sushi purists try different classes of fillings (all plant-based, save for the steelhead/salmon in the PNW varieties) inspired by different culinary tastes, from Pacific NW to Mexican to Chinese to Indian to Eastern European to ___?  The short grain, vinegar-ed rice (which is what makes it sushi ) will remain, although it will be brown rice and the type of vinegar will vary with the fillings.

Spaghetti: as in, pasta.  A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, moiself and a coworker with a Good Ole Midwestern Boy ®  background were talking about food during our lunchbreak. GOMB asked me what I would be making for dinner that night. I replied that I hadn’t exactly decided, probably pasta with a lemon basil…

“Spaghetti – you’re making spaghetti!
Why can’t you just say you’re making spaghetti?!
All pasta is spaghetti!”

The snideness of GOMB’s interruption indicated he thought moiself  was being pretentious when I was merely being accurate.  I knew I was going to make a pasta dish but didn’t know what kind of pasta it would be. As it turned out, I didn’t have any *spaghetti* in the house.  How do you say, “So, there!” in Italian? )

 

Who wouldn’t miss me? I’ll give two thumbs down if I’m not included in her new version of this project.

 

*   *   *

Department Of Yet Another New Feature:

Pun For the Day

This girl said she recognized me from the vegetarian club,
but I’d never met herbivore.

 

 

*   *   *

 

May you try not to “contribute” to the next (or current) pandemic;
May you remember that all spaghetti is pasta
but not all pasta is spaghetti;
May you offend culinary purists whenever possible;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

[1] I have mixed feelings about the organization – alternately admiring some of their work and viewpoints while deploring some of their rhetoric/tactics.

[2] “Healthy eating may be best achieved with a plant-based diet,” is the opinion of a bajillion studies and scientific/medical journals, including The Permanante Journal,

[3] Like SARS and MERS, COVID-19 was spread from animals to humans. Public health experts think COVID-19 originated at a “wet market” in China, where vendors sell both live and dead animals for human consumption.

[4] “The Animal-Human Interface and Infectious Disease in Industrial Food Animal Production,” Public Health Reports, National Institute of Medicine.

[5] Read: batshit crazy political and religious comments/rants.

[6] A $1,000/month stipend for every American adult over the age of 18.

[7] I used to have more footnotes in this blog.

The Face I’m Not Touching

2 Comments

Department Of Reconsideration

“One of the reasons I do appreciate social media is that it allows us to connect with people we wouldn’t be able to normally…
And since right now that’s everyone, I am back!”
(3-25 announcement from a Facebook friend, who had announced
her hiatus from social media just last month)

Something moiself  is pondering these days: Amidst the warnings from psychologists about how social media is isolating us – a concern I have long shared – I’ve noticed that, in these times of self-imposed/government-encouraged physical distancing, social media usage is one of the tools keeping so many of us connected.

 

A fascinating dichotomy…and such deep thoughts, for a human.

 

*   *   *

Department of The Corona Virus Playlist
Surf Groups Edition

A genre of music springing from and influenced by Southern California surf culture, Surf Music had its heyday in the early to mid-60’s, then had a revival in the punk era. The Beach Boys, Jan & Dean, The Ventures, and The Surfaris are examples of the first wave (sorry), and The Surf Punks of the latter.

Moiself  has listed some of those groups’ song titles which, IMHO are applicable to our social-isolating, transmission–paranoid, COVID-19 times, and which, in small groupings, imply a related story.

* All Alone
* All Summer Long
* At My Window

* In My Room
* Busy Doin’ Nothing
* Locals Only
* Point Panic
* Drag City
* Shut Down

* I Get Around
* Don’t Worry Baby

* Come Go With Me
* Cuddle Up
*Island Fever
* Heroes and Villains

* Do You Wanna Dance?
* Kiss Me Baby

* Caroline, No
* Help Me Rhonda
* Wipe Out*
* Dead Man’s Curve

Fun Factoid: Only one of the five original Beach Boys (Dennis Wilson) knew how to surf. The rest were…not quite hodads, but they didn’t surf.

 

*   *   *

Department Of Calling All Nerds Geeks Application Designers:

Make me a phone-slap app, okay?  Here’s what moiself  is looking for: something to punish robocallers and/or telemarketers, who have this new technology which enables them to use someone’s else’s caller ID.

Have you ever answered your cellphone because the ID said it was your husband’s cell or your home phone number…but it turned out to be Rajni from Bangalore trying to approximate a Tennessee twang?  That annoys me to no end (the spam call; not the twang).  I want an app that, with a swipe of my finger, will send a shock to the call’s originating number – something that could be the equivalent of a slap across the face.

 

“And don’t ever interrupt ‘The Great British Baking Show’ again!”

 

*   *   *

Department Of Keeping Busy Mature Contemplation And Self-Improvement

 

Before.

 

In these times of social distancing, many if not all of us are taking the opportunity to work on special projects around our homes or apartments, or take on more extensive plans for what might fall under the categories of Personal Growth and/or Self Improvement.

These are good times for looking deeper into one’s own psyche, and exploring the basic human needs and wants that change as we age and accumulate wisdom and experience.  Moiself, for one, has already begun

* Re-learning the basic French I studied in college;
(Translation: organizing my sock drawer)

* Redesigning future vacation plans to account for
the increased carbon footprint of overseas travel;
(and what about my t-shirt drawer?)

 

* Updating my IRA portfolio and retirement plans;
(should socks be arranged by pattern, or color?)

* Researching community volunteerism opportunities
for when the social distancing requirements are lifted;
(if organizing by pattern, do the tie-dyes go near the argyles or the polkadots?)

 

After.

 

*   *   *

Department Of Helpful Hints

The Experts ® say we are supposed to wash our hands for 20 seconds, and that singing “The Happy Birthday Song” is a good way to time yourself.  Not over my sink, it isn’t.

I really loathe that tune.  When it comes to expressing birthday greetings to someone, my ditty of choice is the Mary Tyler Moore Show theme. As long as y’all don’t get all gender specific on me, who wouldn’t want to be serenaded with an upbeat song that expresses such life-affirming sentiments:

♫  “Who can turn the world on with her smile?
Who can take a nothing day, and suddenly make it all seem worthwhile?
Well it’s you girl, and you should know it
With each glance and every little movement you show it
Love is all around, no need to waste it
You can never tell, why don’t you take it
You’re gonna make it after all….”  ♫

Once again, I digress.

So, to time myself at hand-washing instead of singing the insipid happy birthday song, I have been soaping my paws while warbling two rounds of my childhood summer camp favorite: Scab Sandwich.  If you don’t know the tune, you could improvise your own; in case you haven’t heard the lyrics – and in that case, what kind of rock did you grow up under? – moiself  has oh-so-thoughtfully provided them:

Scab Sandwich: pus on top
Turkey vomit; camel snot;
Crushed-up eyeballs; monkey doo –
scab sandwich good for you!

You’re welcome. This has been a public service announcement.

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Extreme Times Call For Extreme Measures

“… some face touching is almost automatic. For example, neuroscientifically, scratching an itch on your face (or anywhere else) is an automatic reflex, meaning you do it without thinking.
When you have an itch, it registers as a complex pain-like sensation. Scratching or touching an itch feels good because it temporarily interrupts the discomfort. When we’re in pain, our instinct is to withdraw, but when we itch, our reflex is to scratch, according to the American Academy of Asthma, Allergy and Immunology.

(“Why you can’t stop touching your face, according to science and psychology,”
cnbc, 3-21-20)

 

Officer, I’d like to make a citizen’s arrest….

 

Confession: moiself  can’t stop touching my face.

Like most people with seasonal allergies (aka, ”hay fever”), these  DON’T TOUCH YOUR FACE  admonitions are proving to be a bit of a challenge for me.  I think I’m doing it right/paying attention, and then, seemingly out of nowhere, it’s as if a stranger’s hand reaches out to scratch my nose or rub my eyes.  Perhaps I need to take out a restraining order on moiself?

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Hope For Humanity

Harold:
You sure have a way with people.

Maude:
Well, they’re my species!

 

 

I persistently battle my urge to give in to My Inner Curmudgeon, ® and generally if privately (well…until now) think the average American has an IQ equivalent to their inseam length and an EQ no bigger than a hamster’s hemorrhoid.

(For those of y’all with a low IQ, EQ refers to the ability to identify and manage one’s own emotions, as well as the emotions of others, by utilizing at least three skills: emotional awareness [the ability to identify and name one’s own emotions]; the ability to harness those emotions [and apply them to tasks like thinking and problem solving]; and the ability to manage emotions [ including regulating one’s own emotions when necessary and helping others to do the same].)   [1]

However, following video illustrates why, ultimately, I like my species.  No matter how bad/silly/frustrating/batshit crazy Things Get, some people will do some things like this: In a store in Los Angeles, professional musicians Bonnie von Duyke and Emer Kinsella donned lifejackets, went to the empty toilet paper aisle, and serenaded the ransacked shelves to the tune of Nearer, My God, To Thee.   [2]

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department of Epicurean Excursion   [3]

Featuring this week’s cookbook, author and recipe:
World Vegetarian, by Madhur Jaffrey
Recipe: Chickpea Flour Pancakes with Crushed Green Peas and Cilantro

My rating: 

☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

Recipe Rating Refresher  [4]

*   *   *

Department Of Advanced Psychology Tip For The Day

It takes so little to say, “You’re right; that’s a good idea,” and it makes the recipient (the “you” in “you’re”) so happy.

 

 

*   *   *

May you always turn the world on with your smile;
May you be on the receiving end of a serenade (with, preferably, an upbeat song,
ala The Mary Tyler Moore theme, and not the soundtrack to a disaster movie);
May you be able to stop touching your &%$!?#*  face;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

*   *   *

[1] “What is Emotional Intelligence,” Psychology Today.

[2]  the song the ship bandmaster plays as the Titanic sinks, in the 1997 movie.

[3] A recurring feature of this blog, since week 2 of April 2019, wherein moiself decided that moiself would go through my cookbooks alphabetically and, one day a week, cook (at least) one recipe from one book.

[4] 

* Two Thumbs up:  Liked it
* Two Hamster Thumbs Up :  Loved it
* Thumbs Down – Not even Kevin, a character from The Office who’d eat anything, would like this.
* Twiddling Thumbs: I was, in due course, bored by this recipe.
* Thumbscrew: It was torture to make this recipe.
* All Thumbs: Good recipe, but I somehow mucked it up.
* Thumby McThumb Face: This recipe was fun to make.
* Thumbing my nose: Yeah, I made this recipe, but I did not respect it.

 

The Exhaustion I’m Not Getting Over

Comments Off on The Exhaustion I’m Not Getting Over

“I want my non-women friends to look at Elizabeth Warren’s trajectory and
understand how fucking exhausted I am, every woman is, today. Exhausted.
Climb every mountain, there’ll be a white man there already who
took the lift, and gets the prize.”

I feel this tweet in my gut this morning. I’d just insert “old” before the “white man”, because I’m ever hopeful this will change. One day .

I got this from a friend’s Facebook page last week and have seen it shared many times since.  It originated as a tweet; since I have yet to inflict moiself with that particular form of social disease media, I depend on the kindness of others to share the goodies.

Yeah, it’s been a couple of weeks…  [1]  and still I hate the fact that this nails how I feel.  Why does the glass in this particular ceiling seem like it’s made of titanium?

There has be a word for this phenomenon – most likely from the language that gives us terms like Schadenfreude and kummerspeck and treppenwitz. Maybe….

Screwdenfrauenpolitikscheisse

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Things I Forget Every Ten Years

Why do I get excited when the census questionnaire arrives…and then am disappointed, every time, to see how boring the questions are?

     

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Keep Calm And Curse The Pollen

Pollen, an allergy trigger for one in five Americans, is surging year after year…. A recent study in the journal Lancet Planetary Health found that airborne pollen counts have been increasing around the world as average temperatures climbed. The majority of the 17 sites studied showed an increase in the amount of pollen and longer pollen seasons over 20 years.
(“It’s not your imagination.
Allergy season gets worse every year.”
Vox, 5-21-19)

Dateline: earlier this week, at a grocery store.  One glance at the friendly checkout clerk and moiself can see that she shares something with moiself and one in five Americans:  seasonal allergies (aka, “hay fever.”)  Her friendly eyes are red, teary and itchy-looking; she is sniffling, and finally gives in to a sneeze, turning her head behind her and putting her face into her elbow.  The woman standing in line behind me sighs oh-so-loudly, which causes me to glance in her direction; thus, I see how she rolls her eyes in disgust and glares at the clerk as she conspicuously reaches for the bottle of hand sanitizer the store has placed by the checkout credit card scanner.

Although the clerk has finished bagging my groceries, I decide to linger and get chatty, in part to annoy enlighten Eye Rolling Woman.

Moiself, to checker: ”I feel for you…and I’m feeling it already.”
(I point to my own eyes and throat).
“Allergy season starts earlier every year, doesn’t it?”

Checker, nodding: “Yes, it does! And now, everyone is so paranoid…”

Moiself: “In the past few weeks, I bet every time you sneeze or cough you feel like you should have a neon sign on your forehead
which reads, “ ‘Hello – allergies!  They’re not contagious!’ ”

Checker: “Exactly!”  (she flashes me a grateful smile).
“I’m so tired of explaining it….”

 

 

Allergy season is here, America.
People, including moiself, are going to be sneezing and coughing.
Try not to lose your shit, and don’t assume every sniffle is an indicator of:

* influenza

* covid virus

* covert prius

* the heartbreak of psoriasis

* Ebola

* E. coli

* eHarmony

….and/or any other viral or parasitic infestation. Okay?

 

 

*   *   *

Department of Addendum/Apology re The Previous Department

I was thinking of the word/sound “flow,” from covid virus to covert prius to psoriasis, and meant no disrespect to people living with psoriasis (an autoimmune disease which, as Someone Who Knows pointed out, can be truly heartbreaking)!

I was thinking of that old commercial, wherein “…the heartbreak of psoriasis,” was used to promote an OTC medication (Tegrin), used for mild scaling of the scalp or skin, and which, like any over-the-counter medications, had no actual/beneficial effects in controlling actual psoriasis lesions.   But the alarmism of the commercial had the effect of getting people with just ordinary dry skin or dandruff to fear that they had psoriasis, and, as many doctors feared, it encouraged people who might actually have psoriasis to postpone seeking medical treatment and waste time and money on ineffective treatments….

Also, as MH pointed out to me: “There’s a whole lotta people out there who haven’t seen that commercial….”

Which I could take as a commentary on my age, but I’m not gonna go there.

*   *   *

 

 

Department Of Life Is Tough But It’s Even Tougher If You’re Stupid
Chapter 5 in a series

Advice is what we ask for when we already know the answer but wish we didn’t.
(Erica Jong, American author)

Not that I think people who request advice (in particular, from advice columnists) are stupid.  Far from it.

It’s just that, sometimes when I read a Dear Abby-type letter, I can’t help but think,

“No, really – we’re supposed to believe that you *don’t* know
what to do in this situation?”

I started reading advice columns when I started reading newspapers, which was…I can’t remember, but my father once told me it was when moiself  was in first grade.  From the nationally syndicated columns of yore such as Dear Abby and Ann Landers, and today’s Dear Prudence (slate.com), Ask Amy, and sometimes even Savage Love    [2]   and many more, I found (and still find) them to be one of the more entertaining (and sometimes educational) features of the paper.

Even the bad columns could be “good”  in some ways, as in the jaw-droppingly sexist, regressive (even for its time) admonitions of The Worry Clinic, by George Crane . The Worry Clinic (an advice column which appeared in my parent’s favorite newspaper,  The Orange County Register, and which I have previously trashed described here) had some excellent take away nuggets: mainly, that its consistently contemptible, anti-wife/anti-woman admonitions were a useful eye-opener for the budding feminist that was moiself.

 

 

So many of the issues presented in letters from advice-seekers – from dealing with the expectations of demanding friends, unreasonable workplace dilemmas, nosy neighbors, clueless extended family, partners disagreeing over sex-love-money-pets-careers-whatever – seem to me to have one thing in common.  What you’ve got is grown-ass people asking for permission from (supposedly) objective grown-ass strangers to make the grown-ass decision to tell people the truth.

Dear Moiself,
Blah blah blah blah blah blah something funny blah blah blah
something WTF blah blah blah blah,
and, I mean, really – blah blah, right?
I’d appreciate your perspective.
No real names, please, I live in a small town.
Just sign me,
She Hates It That Friends Are Calling Every Day

 

Dear SHITFACED,
First of all, thank you for the lovely acronym opportunity.
It seems seems like you already know what you want to do;
you just want a stranger (with credentials!)
to give you permission to do it.  Consider yourself permitted.
Moiself

 

And she wonders why her advice column career never made it out of space dock?

 

*   *   *

Department of Epicurean Excursion   [3]

Featuring this week’s cookbook, author and recipe:

The Way To Cook, By Julia Child

Recipe:  Steamed Eggplant With Parsley Sauce

My rating:

☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

 

Recipe Rating Refresher  [4]

*   *   *

May you never be too emotionally exhausted to try and tear down the glass ceiling;
May you receive (and give) advice with good humor;
May you be patient with allergy sufferers (and grateful if you’re not one of us);
…and may the hijinks ensue.

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

*   *   *

 

[1] Since Warren and Klobuchar dropped out of the Presidential race.

[2] Although I admire Dan Savage as a writer (and activist), his advice column, Savage Love  (subject: sex, sex, and more sex)  is not for the squeamish. Many is the time I have quickly scrolled past questions and answers as I – who would likely be described in his column as a straight cis vanilla middle aged lady – see things I would just rather not read about, thank you very much…and, eewwwww….

[3] A recurring feature of this blog, since week 2 of April 2019, wherein moiself decided that moiself would go through my cookbooks alphabetically and, one day a week, cook (at least) once recipe from one book.

[4]

* Two Thumbs up:  Liked it
* Two Hamster Thumbs Up :  Loved it
* Thumbs Down – Not even Kevin, a character from The Office who’d eat anything, would like this.
* Twiddling Thumbs: I was, in due course, bored by this recipe.
* Thumbscrew: It was torture to make this recipe.
* All Thumbs: Good recipe, but I somehow mucked it up.
* Thumby McThumb Face: This recipe was fun to make.
* Thumbing my nose: Yeah, I made this recipe, but I did not respect it.

 

The Senator I’m Not Speaking To

1 Comment

Since the Senate’s impeachment kangaroo court trial, moiself  has had a few weeks to ruminate on this…issue. I’m not speaking to this particular senator, because – well, for one thing, why would he listen to me?  If I had the slightest inkling that he would consider my opinion, I’d ask Mitt Romney to seek his party’s nomination for president.

I’d be upfront with him: Senator Romney, I’m not going to vote for you.  After the last three years’ clusterfuck of spineless weasels (the only Congressional mammal not on the endangered species list)…

 

“Hey!”

 

…and their internationally-recognized, shameless, ass-kissing and toadying mendacity, I shall never vote for a candidate who has joined (or has remained in) the Republican party – no matter at what level, from local to state to federal – unless s/he performed the most epic grovel in the history of groveling, explaining why they did not speak up and/or actively oppose #45 and his traitorous, Putin-sucking minions.

How your fellow Republican senators can still roam the halls of Congress – and do so without their aides having to haul them in slop-barrows specially designed to contain their festering, gelatinous excuses for vertebral columns – still baffles me. 

That said, moiself is not lacking sympathy for some members of your party who perhaps have been seriously intimidated and /or genuinely confused by #45 and his barbarian horde supporters. If these people are determined to vote Republican, they deserve a choice other than the traitor/huckster in chief.  So, why not you?

While you and I would likely disagree about so-many-if-not-every issue, especially those wherein politics and religion intersect, you were the sole Republican senator who seemed to take your duty and your oath seriously.

I realize that you are a politician, and likely value that power above all else –  even above the religious beliefs you credit for your political positions, as your stance changes in the past would indicate. Thus, I have no illusions to shatter should it turn out that your currant “courageous stance” was, at least in part, a set up for future political positioning.

How far to the right Romney has gone over the years has had a lot to do with where he was running for office and who he was hoping to reach. Romney’s less extreme side asserted itself in 1994, when he challenged…Ted Kennedy in Massachusetts and portrayed himself as a Rockefeller Republican.

Although Romney lost.…his Rockefeller Republican image served him well when he ran for governor in Massachusetts in 2002 and won.
As governor of Massachusetts, Romney was conservative-leaning but not extreme. He was pro-choice on abortion, and his program for universal health care in that state underscores the Republican influence on the Affordable Care Act of 2010….

But Romney moved way to the right when he ran for president in 2008 and 2012. Romney flip-flopped on abortion, pledged his allegiance to the Christian Right and the anti-choice movement and railed against universal health care…. It’s no coincidence that when Romney ran for the Senate in the 2018 midterms, he did so via Utah rather than Massachusetts….(as) Utah is much more conservative than Massachusetts…

( “Mitt Romney’s flip-flops: How the Utah senator has deceptively tap danced between being a reasonable conservative and a far-right ideologue,” alternet, 1-4-19

 

 

Still, you did what you did.  I thank you for it, even as moiself wonders why you did not publicly call out your fellow senators and try to sway more of them to do the right thing.

It’s ironic to me, that in a political body wherein the vast majority of the Republicans claim some Christian right wing and/or evangelical allegiance, and wherein each was required to take the following oath/affirmation, which referenced their deity –

I solemnly swear (or affirm, as the case may be) that in all things appertaining to the trial of the impeachment of Donald John Trump, President of the United States, now pending, I will do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws: So help me God.
(“Opening Ceremonies: The Impeachment trial of  [#45],” Wikipedia)

…that of these self-proclaimed conservative Christians, who generally and historically have abhorred Mormon theology (and denounced as aberrant, untrue, and blasphemous), it was a Mormon who stood alone, doing the right thing.

 

 

*   *   *

Speaking of ruminations, can there ever be enough cow stories?

Department Of Life Is Tough But It’s Even Tougher If You’re Stupid
(Chapter 4 In A Series)
Sub Department Of You’re A Special Kind Of Stupid If You Think This Is A Good Idea.
Sub-Sub Department Of No.  Just, No.

There is a link I keep seeing on Facebook (unfortunately posted by a few FB friends), about what moiself fears may become the latest designer pet trend: mini-cows.

“No Joke: These Fluffy, Adorable Mini Cows Make Great Pets! “ reads the headline of the article accompanying the following picture.  “Woah…cows? How on Earth could a person be expected to keep a cow at their home? They’re big, loud, and pretty smelly too, right?
You would be correct about that if not for Lovable Little Ones, a specialty mini-cow breeder…. According to Lovable Little Ones, cows make “exceptional pets that demonstrate a great deal of affection, are very social, and are easy to take care of….” ”.

 

 

Look at those lil’ cows! About the picture: moiself has to admit, it is so cute it makes me want to squeal like a newborn piglet and slap that hog-faced MAGA hat-wearer I saw eating Twinkies ® at the farmer’s market.   [1]

It is *such* a cute picture, no denying it.  Now, can we look at the bigger picture?

As for the “no joke,” headline – I agree, this isn’t funny. If anyone out there is seriously considering this, please, even more seriously reconsider – to the point of consulting a therapist and having them do cow patty aroma therapy with you on a weekly basis –  should you even think about having a mini-cow as a pet.

FYI: I’m not sure if I’ve ever mentioned cows in this space before, and now, after last week’s  screed concise yet heartfelt presentation of the dairy cow dilemma, two weeks in a row of bovine blog bits? Trust moiself, this is coincidence and not conspiracy.

So, moooooving right along….

 

“What the….”

Sorry.

Mini-cows. I don’t get who comes up with these ideas. Someone has an interest in animals, a bit of time on their hands (and dollar $ign$ in their eye$?), and says to themselves,

“Selves, what can we do? Maybe we could work with existing animal welfare organizations to reduce animal suffering in, oh, say exposing the horrors of industrial farming, reversing habitat degradation which leads to species extinction….
Nope, that doesn’t interest us. We like pets. OK, let’s work for ways to reduce the surplus pet population (1.5 million shelter animals are euthanized each year in the USA  [2]  ), increase spay and neutering options and availability, and find responsible and loving homes for the animals that already exist….

 

 

MYOB and STFU, Martha; we’ve got a better idea.
Let’s take an ungulate mammal – which in 10,500 years of domestication has never been used as a companion animal – and use our knowledge of genetics and selective breeding to scale ‘em down and create a whole new market of “pets.”

The following is from the website of Lovable Little Ones, the farm business blamed credited with starting the trend. On the home page of the site there is a seven-point bullet list titled, Why Miniature Cows? Here are three of the bullet point list’s “answers” I found to be most notable and telling (and primarily aimed at potential mini-cow breeders?):

* Miniature Cows are great tax write-offs for the small acreage farmer.
* Miniature cattle can easily pay for themselves through the sale of calves and potential tax write-offs.
* Miniature Cows can be a great business opportunity. Demand for good quality miniature cows is very high. I currently have a waiting list that extends into 2021….

Yep. Gotcha.

 

 

Hey, it’s not all bad. You can size a cow down, but it will still be a ruminant with a four-chambered stomach whose nutritional requirements equal prodigious intake of fodder resulting in prodigious stool production. Translation: Mini-cow’s crap will not be so mini.

Petty little moiself adores the image that comes to mind:  the clueless/ arrogant (or even well-meaning) suburbanite with a big backyard who is the first in her neighborhood to have a mini-cow. There she is, taking her mini-cow out for a walk, nodding in greeting to dog owners, the latter tipping their metaphorical hats to her as they pass on the sidewalk, the dog owners each holding one bag of dung swinging from their grasp, she struggling to juggle eight bags of cow crap (plus her “mini” scooping shovel) ….

 

And don’t think you’ll get away with saying, “Not me – that was must have been someone else’s cow!” if your neighbors accuse you of being remiss in your scooping.

 

So, good luck with that, y’all. 

But I don’t need to wish *you* good luck, because *you* will have the good sense not to purchase one of these vanity symbols/playthings creatures, right?  As for the breeders, come on, Lovable Little Ones (and other mini-cow sellers, actual or potential) – consider the moniker you chose for your business; then pretend, if necessary, that you really do love those little ones, and don’t create them in the first place.  Put yourself out of this exploitative business.

If you really think it benefits humanity to have yet another designer animal variant, you need to talk with Wally Conron, creator of the Labradoodle:

The inventor of the labradoodle, the ubiquitous, mop-headed designer dog, said that creating the mixed breed was one of his life’s regrets.
Wally Conron, who has been credited with sparking a crossbreeding frenzy resulting in shih poos, puggles and more, said the labradoodle was originally intended as a guide dog….
“I bred the labradoodle for a blind lady whose husband was allergic to dog hair,” Mr. Conron said. “Why people are breeding them today, I haven’t got a clue….I find that the biggest majority (of the doddle-dogs) are either crazy or have a hereditary problem…I’ve done a lot of damage…I’ve created a lot of problems.”
(Conron) said that unscrupulous people setting up “horrific” puppy mills, and backyard breeders who were breeding for bucks, were to blame for producing a glut of unstable dogs that would eventually be euthanized.
In an interview with Psychology Today… Mr. Conron acknowledged that the “doodle” name was “a gimmick” that went global.
“People ask me, ‘Aren’t you proud of yourself?’ I tell them: ‘No! Not in the slightest.’ I’ve done so much harm to pure breeding and made many charlatans quite rich.  I wonder, in my retirement, whether we bred a designer dog — or a disaster!”

(Labradoodle Creator Says the Breed Is His Life’s Regret: “I opened a Pandora box and released a Frankenstein monster,” said Wally Conron,
who developed the mop-headed dog.  NY Times, 9-25-19 )

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of We Are Lost, Hopelessly Lost

As the reality of the latest pandemic sets in, the world’s political leaders realize the need to consult with and empower the world’s greatest scientific/public health minds to coordinate strategy. Meanwhile, in the USA:

Donald Trump picks Mike Pence
to head government response to coronavirus.
( Headlines in newspapers across the nation, 2-26-20)

 

“Time for a quick reality check. Despite the hysteria from the political class and the media, smoking doesn’t kill.”
( [then] Congressman Mike Pence, in his op-ed “The Great American Smoke-Out,”  )

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of, I Guess It’s Enough That *We* Will Know It’s There…
But, Seriously?

Last week MH and I had our home’s upstairs carpeting replaced.  We (of course) chose the style/brand/color of the new new carpet, then just agreed with flooring store’s recommended carpet padding.  Come installation time, I’d no idea we would be getting a “woke” padding; i.e., one with a mission (or at least a message):

 

 

*   *   *

 

Department of Epicurean Excursion   [3]

Featuring this week’s cookbook, author and recipe:

Vegan Slow Cooking: For Two or Just For You, by Kathy Hester

Recipe:  Green Beans with Black Bean Sauce with Tofu

My rating:

 

☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

Recipe Rating Refresher  [4]

*   *   *

May you massively reject mini-cows;
May you wonder what charitable causes *your* carpet pad is supporting;
May you continue to speak to leaders who may or may not listen;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

[1] You have your illustrations of cuteness, and I have mine.

[2] As per ASPCA statistics.

[3] A recurring feature of this blog, since week 2 of April 2019, wherein moiself decided that moiself would go through my cookbooks alphabetically and, one day a week, cook (at least) once recipe from one book.

[4]

* Two Thumbs up:  Liked it
* Two Hamster Thumbs Up:  Loved it
* Thumbs Down – Not even Kevin, a character from The Office who’d eat anything, would like this.
* Twiddling Thumbs: I was, in due course, bored by this recipe.
* Thumbscrew: It was torture to make this recipe.
* All Thumbs: Good recipe, but I somehow mucked it up.
* Thumby McThumb Face: This recipe was fun to make.
* Thumbing my nose: Yeah, I made this recipe, but I did not respect it.

 

The Cheese I’m Not Cutting

1 Comment

Department Of The Problem With Legalization

While I am oh-so-glad that smokers of the Stupid Sticks  [1]   no longer face criminal penalties, moiself is less-than-enthusiastic about the fact that so many of them feel free to share their rank-smelling exhalations in public.  Read: yet another beautiful stroll by the beach, tainted by an redolence that can only be described as festering skunk piss.

 

Just wait until *I* start inhaling.

 

*   *   *

Department Of If Only The Cows Could Talk

Dateline: a rainy Saturday afternoon; Tillamook Creamery.  MH and I are on the self-guided tour…  I’m not all that keen on it, but he says he hasn’t been in years… And I find moiself looking at one of the exhibits and thinking, It’s enough to turn a mostly plant-eating person like me into a full-fledged vegan (I can’t quite get moiself to give up Tillamook’s pepper jack cheese…yet).   I’m also somewhat surprised that animal rights activists haven’t defaced this audacious claim:

 

 

I know enough about the company and its history to respect Tillamook as a co-op business that strives to listen to both its customers and member farmers. But those “Good Start” fiction propaganda claims elide over the facts of what is done to dairy cows in order to get them to produce the massive amounts of milk (it takes ten pounds of milk to produce one pound of cheddar) needed for cheese production.  And it’s not as if cows sign up at the creamery due to the above minimum wage salary and awesome health benefits package. They are forced into an unnatural life;  cows evolved to make and suckle other little cows, not to provide humans with dairy and meat products.

This Good Start exhibit, the first stop on the self-guided tour, makes it sound like Man In His Infinite Wisdom® has improved upon Mother Nature – that heartless bitch who was stupid enough to evolve cows to live in groups, which is oh-so-risky for baby cows as they are in constant danger from “injuries from older, larger cows” which – what, suddenly topple over and crush the calves?  When has that ever been a thing?

Anyway, so they take un-weaned calves away from their mothers and bottle feed – y’all read that correctly, they BOTTLE FEED MILK TO A (non-orphaned) CALF, whose mother and her milk are like, right there? Somehow, in moiself’s mind, that doesn’t add up to making sure the calves are “well cared for.”

I find it sobering   [2]  to consider that those (admittedly delicious) cheeses they make come at quite a cost to the animals (humans included; we are animals, too) which provide the cheese base material.  Costs to human animals include the fact that cheese is loaded (saturated?) with saturated fat; also, consider the resources spent on raising and feeding these animals   [3]  and then trying to protect our remaining wildlands and water supply and atmosphere from the resulting methane and fertilizer and feces runoff pollution, and the dairy industry’s over-sized contribution to global warming: “In the U.S., every gallon of milk (produced) results in greenhouse gases equivalent to 17. 6 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions.…”  [4]

 

 

OK; off of my soapbox (milk crate?)…. For now.

Confession: the eleven-year-old in me loved looking through the creamery’s floor-to-ceiling windows and watching the cheese packaging assembly lines.   In my grade school, when the teachers had report card prep or whatever else arose (or maybe when they didn’t want to teach), they put us 5th and 6th graders in the school auditorium and showed us factory documentaries, wherein the wonders of the Wonder Bread (or other mass-produced and packaged) product assembly line were revealed.

Something about the assembly line process – all the machines doing one specialized thing (“I’m the bottle filler!” “I’m the bottle capper!”  “I’m the bottle label applier!”), and the factory employees in hairnets watching the machines, working together to assemble massive amounts of…stuff….  It was mesmerizing.

 

And much better than taking another boring spelling test.

 

*   *   *

Department Of Gratuitous Fart Jokes Can Be Found Anywhere

Particularly, in a cheese factory.

 

 

I hope they’ve invested in a heavy-duty ventilation system to protect their workers.

*   *   *

Department Of Privilege, Celebrity Edition

Diane Keaton is one of my favorite actors. She’s also a good writer. I enjoyed her two memoirs (“Then Again,” and “Let’s Just Say It Wasn’t Pretty”) for her life and acting observations in general, and also for her specific recollections of decades-ago So Cal life that only someone growing up in Santa Ana (as moiself and Keaton both did) can appreciate.

I just finished her latest book, Brother & Sister.  The book revolves around how her relationship with her brother devolved from childhood best buddies to somewhat estranged adults, with she and her sisters trying to be caretaker to their artistically-inclined, poetry-writing, alcoholic, mentally ill brother.  B & S has been…problematic, I’ll say.  Keaton writes with heartfelt simplicity, self-deprecating humor and candor, but this book is…missing something.  It’s lightweight in  ways that have nothing to do with its slim page count.  

Here’s my problem.  Keaton’s brother is alive today (although dying of dementia as I type this) because of a liver transplant he received 20+ years ago. It’s a problem I know about because Keaton is honest enough to include this detail in her book: she grapples (very briefly) with the fact that her name and credentials and connections (read: Hollywood movie $tar) – including a substantial financial donation to a foundation run by the hospital which did the surgery – enabled her brother to get the life-saving transplant he very likely would not otherwise have received.

 

 

Yep.  Her brother was/is a schizophrenic? /bipolar? (he received many mental health diagnoses over the years) and an alcoholic. His mental illness(es) meant he would be unable to follow the stringent, life-long, after-care routines of transplant patients (ability to do so is one of the primary factors used to calculate a patient’s position on the transplant waiting list).  He also was quite upfront about the fact that he did not intend to give up the prodigious alcohol consumption which caused his liver to fail in the first place.  And yet this man got a liver transplant, ahead of others who had been on the list before him.

David Crosby, déjà vu?  Musician Crosby’s drug and alcohol excesses were legendary, even among his hard-partying peers.   Moiself recalls being surprised when I read of his receiving a liver transplant (“He’s still alive?”), then disgusted to hear how other transplant hopefuls remained on the list while a druggie celebrity vaulted ahead of them.

Crosby’s transplant raised a number of questions including: (1) did he receive a donor liver so “quickly” because he was rich and famous, i.e. is the system fair? (2) should someone whose organ has failed because of a previous “abusive lifestyle” even be eligible to receive a transplant in light of the current donor shortage? (3) just how does the system work anyway?
(“David Crosby liver transplant sparks vigorous debate on fairness of allocation system,” Transplant News, 11-30-94)

Keaton was upfront in her book (but quickly moved on) about the fact that the preferential treatment allotted to her brother was unfair, but, after all, she was just a loving sister doing what she could for her brother.  Moiself, The Suspicious Writer Who’s Had Experience In Such Matters, ®  can’t help but think that Keaton’s brother getting an organ transplant due to Keaton’s connections is somewhat parallel to the fact that Brother & Sister, a slim rumination on family relations, would not have been published if it had been written by another (non-celebrity) author.

 

*   *   *

Department Of More Fun With Writers;
Sub-Department Of Yet Another Southern Border Crisis?

English novelist Anna Sewell, who was not a horse, wrote Black Beauty, a groundbreaking, “first person” narrative memoir of the titular stallion’s life as a London cab horse.  Beloved by millions over the years, BB was influential in inspiring nineteenth century England’s animal welfare movement.

John Steinbeck was an educated, financially comfortable, native Californian, not an illiterate, dirt-poor “Okie.”  Steinbeck penned Grapes of Wrath, arguably one of the masterpieces of American literature, his novel about desperate, impoverished Midwestern tenant farmers fleeing the Dust Bowl and economic hardship.

John Patrick Shanley is an Irish-American dramatist and husband and father. He wrote the screenplay for Moonstruck, creating Loretta Castorini, a childless, female, widowed Italian-American bookkeeper, as its memorable protagonist.

Ursula LeGuin was neither a dark-skinned androgynous denizen of an alien planet nor a Roman princess in Trojan war times, yet this American heterosexual white Earthling, managed to convincingly create the lives of these beings and more in books like The Left Hand Of Darkness, the Earthsea series, and Lavinia

Stephen King, who was not  [5]   a shy, bullied 16-year-old girl raised by a fanatical, hyper-religious single mother, somehow managed to authentically bring to life that character and more in his first published novel, Carrie.

Boys and girls, can you guess which of the latest writing-outside-your-tribe literary controversies I am not-so-obliquely referring to?

American Dirt, in case you haven’t heard, is a novel about a Mexican woman and her son, the only survivors of their family’s murder by a drug cartel, who flee for their lives and head for the USA-Mexico border.  AD was chosen as an Oprah’s Book Club selection (which almost guarantees a bajillion copies sold, plus movie options) and received glowing reviews, including from Latina authors and actors such as Sandra Cisneros and Julia Alvarez and Salma Hayek.…until someone pointed out that the novel about Mexican immigrants was written by a non-Mexican, and the cultural identity police dog-piled on.

The book’s author identifies as white and Latina and has a Puerto Rican grandmother, but that’s not Latina enough for some.  Seemingly overnight the book went being reviewed as a captivating story that could “change hearts and transform policies” (Alvarez) to being “racist” and “filled with stereotypes.”  Just as quickly, the author went from to literary prodigy to pariah…her publisher even cancelled book tour appearances because of “specific threats to the booksellers and the author.”

 

 

Education and history professor Jonathan Zimmerman wrote about how reaction to the book is emblematic of our cultural “shaming” and “mob mentality” phenomena. There are people attacking the book who don’t know anything about it except that it’s been declared “problematic” and that’s enough to get them to revile the author on social media platforms:

Mexican-American actress Salma Hayek admitted that she hadn’t read American Dirt before she hailed Oprah Winfrey for recommending it and for “giving voice to the voiceless.” But then Hayek heard a different voice — also known as a Twitter mob — and she changed her tune.

“I thank all of you who caught me in the act of not doing my research, and for setting me straight,” Hayek posted the following day, “and I apologize for shouting out something without experiencing it or doing research on it.”

Do you think Hayek read the book in the intervening 24 hours and came to a new judgment of it? Think again. Her “research” was of the social media variety, confirming that a lot of people were very offended by American Dirt. And that was all she needed to know.

A writer for the celebrity website Hola! congratulated Hayek for backtracking. “It takes guts to admit when you’re wrong,” wrote Robert Peterpaul, “but Salma Hayek is gutsy.” Really? How much courage is required to put your finger in the air, figure out which way the Instagram winds are blowing, and adjust your opinions accordingly?

( “ ‘American Dirt’ controversy scores another win for mob mentality,”
Philadelphia Inquirer 2-3-20)

 

 

Can a book be “good” or “bad” because of/in spite of what you think about the author’s personal characteristics, or their “qualifications” to write it in the first place?  I’m not talking about textbooks, instruction manuals, or nonfiction – not talking about how, yes, you’d want a rocket scientist and not a manicurist to write a rocket science manual. But the qualifications for a fiction writer to write on any subject are a bit more subjective, and include interest, imagination, and empathy.

There are legitimate beefs being brought up in the AD brouhaha, having to do with the historical marginalization of “non-mainstream” voices.  From talk show gag writing to movie directing, arts and literature are (still) fields rigged by and designed to favor white males.  Many of these men are sincere allies of female/non-white artists; nevertheless, it is sadly apparent that they don’t understand that the playing field is (still) not level, as indicated by comments such as, that when it comes to voting for awards they “…would never consider diversity in matters of art. Only quality.”   [6]

 

 

There are *so many* conversations to be had about the historic and ongoing dominance of the while/male perspective in the arts in general and literature in particular, including who gets to decide what is “quality” and who’s perspectives are publishable or award-worthy…and who gets a million dollar advance for their book.

Novelist Ann Patchett, pointing out that the AD author had received a seven-figure advance for her novel:

“I read the book and I loved it…There’s a level of viciousness that comes from a woman getting a big advance and a lot of attention….  If it had been a small advance with a small review in the back of the book section, I don’t think we’d be seeing the same level of outrage.”
( “Cultural appropriation, say critics. Sexism, defenders say of the criticism. How ‘American Dirt’ launched a publishing firestorm,” The Oregonian, 1-27-20)

The thing is, now that the caca has hit the fan, no one, from layperson reader to professional literary critic, will be able to read or review the book objectively without their reactions and opinions being viewed through the warped lens of identity politics.  As I have written before and will doubtless write again, my main concern in these literary skirmishes is my concern for censorship (and worse yet, IMHO, self-censorship), in that a writer’s personal characteristics are deemed more important than their capacity for imagination, research, and empathy.

One of the most dangerous but effective kinds of censorship for a writer is when “they” get you to do it to yourself. I’ve watched with lip-curling disdain and alarm while claims of authenticity and charges of appropriation have seeped into the literary and publishing world.

The stench of the well-intended, silent-but-deadly admonition to “write what you know” has become “write what you are,” and the cherished ideals of imagination, empathy and craft are in danger of becoming subservient to identity politics.

In this write-what-you-know/are, A & A (authenticity & appropriation) world, an author cannot – or rather, should not – create or even write about certain characters unless the author shares what the self-appointed A & A police deem as those characters’ primary representative markers (hint: “race,” ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, dis/ability….).

(“The Comments I’m Not Making,” 9-27-19)

 

 

Yep, I’m quoting moiself.  Because…I can.

“I often quote myself. It adds spice to my conversation.”
(George Bernard Shaw)

*   *   *

Department of Epicurean Excursion   [7]

Featuring this week’s cookbook, author and recipe:
Vegan Planet, by Robin Robertson

Recipes:
* Mahogany Eggplant
* Red Bean and Sweet Potato Curry

My rating for both recipes:

☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

Recipe Rating Refresher  [8] 

*   *   *

May you “play fair” in matters of life and death and organ transplants;
May you realize when the playing fields are and are not level;
May you eat less cheese (but tell more cutting-the-cheese jokes);
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

[1] My old nickname for joints, because of the effect it had on those who, unlike Bill Clinton,* did* inhale.

[2] And it was the early afternoon and I was already sober.

[3] More farmland in the USA is devoted to raising meat-animal feed than food for human animals.

[4] “Cows vs. Nuts: Who Gets to Be Called Milk, and Are They Climate Friendly?”

[5] Although, with a Stephen King book, anything could happen….

[6] Author Stephen King made that Tweet, regarding the 2020 “Oscars-So-White-male” controversy. King, a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, gets to vote in certain Oscar award categories.

[7] A recurring feature of this blog, since week 2 of April 2019, wherein moiself decided that moiself would go through my cookbooks alphabetically and, one day a week, cook (at least) once recipe from one book.

[8]

* Two Thumbs up:  Liked it
* Two Hamster Thumbs Up :  Loved it
* Thumbs Down – Not even Kevin, a character from The Office who’d eat anything, would like this.
* Twiddling Thumbs: I was, in due course, bored by this recipe.
* Thumbscrew: It was torture to make this recipe.
* All Thumbs: Good recipe, but I somehow mucked it up .
* Thumby McThumb Face: This recipe was fun to make.
* Thumbing my nose: Yeah, I made this recipe, but I did not respect it.

 

The Habits I’m Not Building

Comments Off on The Habits I’m Not Building

Department Of Is Writing This Weekly Blog A Good Habit,
Or Indicative of Moiself’s Amazing Willpower?

At the end of last month, just around the time when folks might be thinking of making New Year’s resolutions, the Hidden Brain podcast ran an appropriate episode:

“At the beginning of the year, many of us make resolutions for the months to come. We vow to work out more, procrastinate less, or save more money. Though some people stick with these aspirations, many of us fall short. How do we actually develop good habits and maintain them? What about breaking bad ones?”
( “Creatures Of Habit: How Habits Shape Who We Are — And Who We Become”
(12-30-19), intro to Hidden Brain podcast)

Moiself had listened to the podcast when it first ran, but did so while distracted and didn’t remember much about it.  When MH asked me earlier this week if I had listened to it, I decided to relisten. MH found the podcast, especially the parts about how people use psychological “tricks” on themselves to build habits, to be very interesting:

“It turns out that when you build a habit, it’s like putting on a set of unconscious mental blinders. Once in place, the blinders protect you from temptations and distractions.
The more you ignore those temptations, the stronger the blinders become. To put this another way, habits are self-reinforcing. They can be difficult to start but once in place, they have a life of their own because they stop being conscious and become automatic and unconscious.
In fact, once you have developed a habit, you will stick to it even if the alternative is objectively easier.”

 

 

I was more interested in the mini-debate/subtext of the episode.  The host, NPR Social Science correspondent Shankar Vedantam, and his guest, Wendy Wood, USC professor of psychology and business, bantered about the idea that “… significant numbers of Americans believe that the way to change their behavior is through self-control, that willpower is the key to either making changes that stick or to making changes that fail to stick.”  Wood cited several examples of willpower fail, and said that “performing a behavior,” which leads to habit-building, is more effective.

IMHO, the points that were made re habit vs. willpower were mere quibbling over semantics. For true behavior and/or lifestyle alteration you need both, and there is overlap. Neither the host nor his guest made the delineation clear; it seemed as they were acknowledging – or assuming – that there is something “judgy” about using the term willpower, so they refer to “establishing good habits” instead of “exercising willpower.”

As someone who, over the years, has established and maintained several good habits (e.g. regular exercise) as well as taken on a few bad ones (never you mind), it is both my opinion and experience that you can’t have good habits without willpower, and vice-versa.  “Good habits” and willpower” are complementary, not conflicting.  But as long as we aren’t sure about this, someone will try to convince us one way or another.

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Life Is Tough But It’s Even Tougher If You’re Stupid
Chapter 3 in a series

When driving to or from Tacoma,   [1] one of the sights I have come to look forward to is the Right Wing Uncle Sam Billboard ® , on the east side of I-5 near Chehalis, WA.

 

 

This message is par for the course for Right Wing Uncle Sam (RWUS), whose baleful countenance reminds me of Balok, the fearsome (and false, as it turns out) alien from the Star Trek TOS episode, The Corbomite Maneuver.

 

 

The billboard is notorious in These Here Parts (it even has its own Wikipedia entry!), and has been up since the 1970s. The original wackadoodle wingnut archconservative who erected and maintained the billboard and changed the messages weekly died over a decade ago; his survivors have kept it going.

Poor RWUS, seemingly doomed for life to hector travelers north and south (it’s a two-sided wingnut fest billboard!). No wonder his severe visage, as if he were trying to maintain composure while being administered a perpetual colonoscopy by government-employed, immigrant gay Russian liberal Muslims dressed like John Kerry.   [2]

Returning to Oregon on Sunday after a long weekend in Tacoma, my view on the trip south was a rather mild, for RWUS: “Be glad Pelosi is not commander-in-chief.”  I forget what it was on the trip north…but RWUS seems to be losing his fire.  I used to count on his irrational screeds entertaining and stimulating messages to lull me out of highway hypnosis and remind moiself to pull over at the next rest stop and do some calisthenics.

 

*   *   *

Blog Department Of I’m Too Old For This…Except When I’m Not.

My most recent opportunity to see Right Wing Uncle Sam Billboard ® was last weekend, when I ventured north to help daughter Belle move from her tiny studio apartment into a roomier rental.  Belle is much cuter than but just as strong as the proverbial ox…

…as I was, at her age (well, the strong part).  But the Strong Young People ® who were promised to help Belle and I never materialized.  So it was my daughter and moiself, the latter feeling (and probably looking) more like the Decrepit Crypt Keeper than the Dynamic Couch Mover after two days of schlepping furniture and boxes up and down stairs and in and out of vans….

“I’m almost forty years older than you,” I huffed on Day 2, trying (and failing) to find a handhold on one end of a very heavy and extremely softly upholstered (read: slippery) couch.  “I’m too old for this…I can’t do this anymore.”

“But, you *are* doing this,” Belle remarked.

Which caused moiself  to wonder, Who raised this smartass?

 

“You want the futon *where*?”

 

*   *   *

Department Of Reflections,
While Resting Outside An Apartment Building,
Between Bouts of Furniture Moving,
Watching People And Their Dogs Walk By

Aka, Dog Poo Haiku

I see them each day:
Patiently, or otherwise
waiting, bag in hand.

Before them it squats:
hindquarters raised; tail aloft;
butthole aquiver.

The owners stand by,
impassively accepting
their twice daily task.

I often wonder,
as the doggies deliver
a fresh poop package,

If their owners knew
what they’d be getting into
each day, without fail

This is what you do;
A primal identity:
Fetcher of feces.

They scoop, once again.
I smile, silently praising
our litterboxes.

 

*   *   *

 

Department Of Well, Duh
Sub Department Of It’s Nice To Give The “Florida Man” Headline A Break, And See
“Florida Woman Does BatShit Crazy Thing” For A Change

It seems that some Christian folks be losing their Jesus shit over a video clip of President #45’s “Spiritual Adviser…”

 

Yeah, I know, right?

 

Ahem…the President’s Spiritual Adviser Paula White, her arms shaking in Pentecostal fundy lunacy fervor, praying during her January 5 sermon to congregants at her City of Loony Tunes Destiny church in Apopka, Florida. In the clip, posted to Twitter by a group that monitors radical right wing organizations, White prays as Jesus instructed his followers to do,  [3] and urges her flock to “…Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.”

 

 

Well of course she doesn’t.  Instead, she blathers entreats her supernatural friends:

“In the name of Jesus, we command all satanic pregnancies
to miscarry right now.
We declare that anything that’s been conceived in satanic wombs
that it’ll miscarry, it will not be able to carry forth
any plan of destruction, any plan of harm.”

Why is this so offensive and astonishing for some people?  Yeah, yeah, there is the flaming hypocrisy of a Pentecostal preacher who opposes abortion calling for her deity to abort pregnancies of people she deems evil….  [4]

But, really: is this surprising?

My well-known and ongoing critique of religion is evident on these (cyber) pages.  I also count religious believers among my family and friends – people I love, admire and respect (the people themselves – not necessarily the origins and contents of their religious beliefs).   However, unlike Penty Preacher Paula And Her Fundy Fans,   [5]  these people’s beliefs, like the religious beliefs and practices of most contemporary American Christians, are informed and constrained by modernity.

Whether or not what I will call these MCs – modern (moderate?) Christians – realize this, and whether or not MCs consider their beliefs and practices to be an authentic interpretation and application of their scriptures, they simply do not believe nor practice as their religious ancestors did.  Many of the MCs’ fundamentalist fellow Christians criticize them for this ( “Cafeteria Christians,”   [6]  anyone?)

But this Happy Apostate is glad that MCs give themselves license to resolve their cognitive dissonance by declaring that certain of their scriptures are meant to be allegorical or somehow do not apply in the present day (even though the scriptures themselves say no such thing).

Look: I’m glad that most MCs do not heed Jesus’s advice to demonstrate signs of their belief by handling snakes and scorpions and drinking poison  [7]   because Jesus has given them power over such things and assures them that “nothing shall by any means hurt you.”  Even so, the practice persists: a professor of psychology at UTC, who has for 25+ years studied and documented serpent-handling among Christians documents over 100 deaths of sincere believers (this is in our times, not the 1700s) from snake bites and drinking poison.

I’m also tickled several shades of apostate pink that, despite their Jesus warning them,

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I have not come to abolish them, but to fulfill them.
For I tell you truly, until heaven and earth pass away,
not a single jot, not a stroke of a pen, will disappear from the Law
until everything is accomplished”
 
(Matt: 5 17-18)

most MCs pick-and-choose among the 613 commandments of their god.

I’ve no problem with MCs who heed the commandment to respect their god’s name (Lev. 22:32). I’m *really* happy that MCs ignore the commandments to kill non-believers (John 15:6; Deut 13; 2 Chron 15) and people who work on the sabbath (Exodus 35) and stubborn and rebellious sons (Deut. 21) and those who curse or blaspheme (Lev. 24) or have consensual non-marital sex ( Deut . 22 & Lev. 20) or….

I’m pleased when you MCs find ways to live peaceful and useful lives that help and not harm others, even as I’m gob-smacked by your naivete – e.g., your being shocked when a fundy preacher calls for your god to end the pregnancies of perceived enemies.  Because even the robes of modernity cannot clothe the naked nuttiness of the primitive, pre-science, blood sacrifice-based foundation of Christian theology.

Without regurgitating a tract-worthy summation you had to memorize in seventh grade confirmation class (or one which a friend or coworker felt obliged to “share” with you); without falling back on the centuries of Church theology that tell you how you’re supposed to see things, try to explain even one aspect of classic Christian theology.  The “Fall leading to Original Sin leading to separation from god leading to reconciliation and redemption only through the death and subsequent resurrection of Jesus (who, according to the Doctrine of the Trinity, was actually the afore-mentioned god).”

Try explaining that to a ten year old.  Or, to yourself:

“Okay, it’s like this: God’s own child, who was fathered by God Himself and who is/was that same God, according to the doctrine of the Trinity (so, yeah, God impregnated His own mother)…


uh, anyway, moving right along, God killed God’s own child  (committed suicide, actually, since the Trinity means that Jesus is God) as the ultimate blood/animal sacrifice, which was the only way to appease God’s anger for something God allowed the humans He created to do (and in fact knew that they would do, since God is all-knowing)…


and although this God *is* (of course and by definition) all-powerful, this God couldn’t accomplish this appeasement in any other way…and believing all of this is the only way to God.”

 

 

Of course #45’s “Spiritual Advisor” said what she said.  Even way back in the 1700s, enlightened thinkers warned political leaders and common folk alike of the dangers of the irrationality of religion:

“Those who can make you believe absurdities,
can make you commit atrocities.”

( Voltaire,  “Questions sur les miracles,” 1765 )

*   *   *

Department of Epicurean Excursion   [8]

Featuring this week’s cookbook, author and recipe:

Vegan Casseroles, by Julie Hasson
Recipe:  Pale Ale Stew

My rating: 

☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

Recipe Rating Refresher  [9]

*   *   *

May your habits and willpower peacefully coexist;
May your pet waste disposal routines inspire poetic masterpieces;
May you never be too old to help my your child move furniture;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

[1] Which I do several times a year to visit daughter Belle, who lives and works there.

[2] Some of the favorite targets of the billboard’s founder.

[3] According to Matthew 5:44.

[4] Read: opposing the president. She also prays during her sermon for the “superior blood of Jesus” break “any strange winds that have been sent…against our President.”

[5] Sounds like a Lawrence Welk Show side act, eh?

[6] “Cafeteria Christians” is a derogatory term used by conservative Christians to critique the beliefs and practices of more liberal Christians who choose which doctrines and scriptures they will follow literally, and which they will not.

[7] Mark 16 and Luke 10

[8] A recurring feature of this blog, since week 2 of April 2019, wherein moiself decided that moiself would go through my cookbooks alphabetically and, one day a week, cook (at least) once recipe from one book.

[9]

* Two Thumbs up:  Liked it
* Two Hamster Thumbs Up :  Loved it
* Thumbs Down – Not even Kevin, a character from The Office who’d eat anything, would like this.
* Twiddling Thumbs: I was, in due course, bored by this recipe.
* Thumbscrew: It was torture to make this recipe.
* All Thumbs: Good recipe, but I somehow mucked it up .
* Thumby McThumb Face: This recipe was fun to make.
* Thumbing my nose: Yeah, I made this recipe, but I did not respect it.

 

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