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The Weird Carpet Walking Man I’m Not Following

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Much to my surprise, moiself  received a text from the campaign of Christine Drazan, the Republican candidate for Oregon governor.   [1]  The message said that Drazan “has a plan” (no details of course) for Oregon’s homeless situation, and asked for a donation.

My cell phone has been inundated by texts from political candidates, mostly from the Left side of the spectrum.  I block the caller# and delete them all, even when they are from candidates I support  (I do *not* give candidates my cell # and resent them finding and using it).  And what in the name of a purple Planned Parenthood placard…

 

Like this one.

 

…would make anyone on the Drazan campaign think that *I* would forget Drazan’s anti-abortion politics because of some mysterious “plan” she has?

Moiself  just had to respond to this text, before blocking/deleting:

If you are not pro-choice then you are no choice.
Shame on you.
Do not text this number again.

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Thanks For Sharing

The streets of Manzanita are a crap minefield. 

 

Like this, only with crap.

 

Welcome Fall; welcome to the roaming elk and deer, pooping while they’re roaming, pooping while they’re standing still…stepping on their own poop; stepping on the poop that their herd comrade just dropped in front of them; stepping in the dried poop from three days ago…

A small price to pay for living in and/or visiting a bit o’ paradise on earth – the Oregon coast – in autumn.

And yet another reason to take your shoes off when you enter a home.  If you’re walking around here, whether on the streets, sidewalks, trails, or beach, you’re stepping on poop, in some form or another.

Although it doesn’t show up well in this picture, this poop pattern continues up the street, on both sides.

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of The Playoff Game That Wasn’t

Early last week daughter Belle messaged me, wondering if she should get a ticket to Game 4 of the Seattle Mariners-Houston Astros American League Division series playoff game.  The division playoffs are a best-of-five series; Belle’s company, Schilling Cider, is a Mariners sponsor, and was guaranteed a certain number of tickets to purchase for playoff game 4.  Belle checked to see how many tickets her company would be allotted, and found out there would be enough so that she could get one for moiself  as well…and would I be interested?

It warmed the cockles of my heart, to hear that Belle was interested in going. How Belle’s grandparents would have liked that, I told her.

Chet and Marion Parnell were longtime baseball fans.  They once told me they’d always wanted to go to a playoff game but never had the opportunity. I grew up going to LA Dodgers and Anaheim Angels games, then in the 80s I lost – or rather deliberately misplaced – my interest in the sport.  I don’t remember the exact year; it was when there was yet another player/management strike.  Free agents had become the thing; it seems like you didn’t know the players anymore (“Wait…he was a Dodger and now he’s a Yankee?”), there was no team loyalty or team identity on either side of the management/players…it used to be you could follow the career of a player, having come up through the farm system….

 

LA Dodgers: The 1970s Cey to Russell to Lopes to Garvey era.

 

Then came the latest the player/manager/owner strike.

I remember thinking,

“Hmmm, which group of multi-millionaires do I feel sorry for?”

And that was that.

I became a fair weather fan – one who would watch The Big Games ®,  particularly if there’s a team I had an interest in (rooting for California or West Coast teams, and against CHEATERS like the Houston Astros…or just arrogant assholes like the Yankees).

BTW: Why do we sing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” when we are already out at the ballgame?

 

 

Yet again, I digress.

When Belle asked if I were interested, moiself  realized that *I* had never been to a MLB playoff game. And when your 26-year-old daughter solicits a visit from her (much older, ahem) mother…

I started gettin’ spontaneous.  I booked train passage to and from Tacoma, found a (very expensive, yikes   [2]) hotel room, and crossed fingers for our odds in getting the tickets, which would be for sale depending on what happened in the first three games.

Game 4 would be on Sunday (10/16). My train reservations were for Saturday afternoon. MH advised me to get to the Portland train station early, as President Biden was in town that weekend. I took his advice to heart; I’d not been paying attention and had no idea Portland was in for a presidential visit, but I remembered a story I’d read about our most recent decent President:   An Average Person ® had traveled many miles to attend a political rally, where she got to speak with Obama.  She invited him to visit her state, because “…it would be such an honor to have a presidential visit.” Obama thanked her for the invitation, then warned her in good humor that, in reality, a presidential visit is a massive inconvenience to the area of the visit.  Presidential visits cause backups and delays for motorists, pedestrians, cyclists, even public transportation users, and are difficult to plan for, as, for security reasons, the presidential limo motorcade (and the decoy limo) and entourage routes can’t be announced in advance.  So, maybe the people who are invited to the speech or meet-n-greet or whatever consider it an honor, but for almost everyone else, it’s an irritation.  I like the fact that Obama was aware of/acknowledged that.

 

“Okay, remember, the decoy limo stops at Starbucks.”

 

As it turned out, Biden’s visit impacted a train’s departure four hours earlier in the day, but as I checked in I was told that my train (departing at 3:38p) was on time.  Then, for the next two and a half hours, Amtrak moved our departure time ahead, first in 5 minute increments, then ten, then….. Train station personnel on their intercoms and passengers googling on their cellphones were trying to find out what was going on.  The delay wasn’t due to the presidential visit (Biden’s entourage was already out of the area)…something about how due to a “police action” our train was stopped across the river.  Turns out there was a person “laying on the tracks.”   [3]

Our train finally arrived and we boarded, coming on three hours after our scheduled departure time.  Then, the train just sat at the station.  And sat.  Sat sat sat sat.  What now? Eventually, the conductor announced that “someone up ahead had set a fire next to the train tracks.”

Fucking Portland, I texted to Belle, who had already moved back and then cancelled the dinner reservations we’d had.  She passed the time on her end by giving me updates on the game. It was do or die for the Mariners: they’d lost the first two games; thus, if they lost game 3 (which I – mistakenly, as it turns out – assured Belle ALMOST NEVER HAPPENS    [4]   )  there would be no game four.

The hours went by; the game went into overtime.  Belle messaged at one point,

“Heading into the 15th inning now still 0-0.
Maybe we’ll just end up going to game 3 tomorrow.”

After 18 innings the Mariners lost “the longest 1-0 playoff game in MLB history.”     [5]

There would be no ballgame on Sunday.  Still, I had a very lovely day with my daughter, which included taking the ferry to Vashon Island. Belle, who works at Schilling Cider, wanted to show me another cidery she and her fellow Schilling-ers had visited.  We got to-go sandwiches and enjoyed a picnic on the orchard grounds of Dragon Head’s Cider. We sampled their amazing Columbia Crabapple blend, chatted with the affable DH employees, and just chilled out on an unseasonably   [6]    warm October afternoon.

 

 

After our island visit Belle wanted to go to her apartment to see her cat and rest up for the evening.  When she dropped me at my hotel moiself  noticed that the area  –The Point Ruston development in Tacoma’s  Ruston Way Waterfront – was hoppin.’  I got in the hotel elevator along with four other people – two couples, both of whom asked me, “Are you going to the concert tonight?”

Now, you could hear music coming from outside the hotel, and I said something about how I’d just told my daughter that it was such a nice night, you’d think someone would have scheduled a band to play outside in the amphitheater (where they have a summer concert series)…but then this weather is unexpected so it would be hard to book a group at the last minute…

My elevator buddies all looked momentarily confused, and one of them said, “No, not that – Elton John.”  I thought she meant an Elton John cover band was playing outside.  I laughed, and said, “Yeah, right, I don’t think so,” and another one of them chimed in and told me that Elton John was playing at the Tacoma Dome

Later that afternoon I went out to a nearby market, and returned to the hotel for another Elevator Encounter ®.  A couple who’d just checked in got in the elevator and didn’t know how to operate it.  I showed them how; they punched the button for floor 5.  Another man who got in the elevator at the lobby floor didn’t say anything, and didn’t make a floor selection.  When I got off at my floor (3) the couple wished me an enjoyable evening.  I turned around and asked, “Are you going to the concert?” they enthusiastically replied, “Yes!” and asked if I was also going.  I laughed and said that no, “…and I had no idea it was even taking place until people in elevators started talking about it.”    [7]

 

The Amphitheater Where Elton John Is Not Playing.

 

*   *   *

Department Of Weird Carpet Walking Man

That evening over dinner I told Belle the story of my elevator encounters, and also about what happened after the second encounter. The previously-mentioned man in the elevator, whom I thought gave off “didn’t belong” vibes (and wore a big scraggy beard, torn jeans and dirty shoes) exited the elevator when I did. I lagged behind; I let him go first, to keep an eye on him, lest he turn out to be the El Creepo Guy® who follows lone females off of hotel elevators to see what rooms they go to.

So, he’s walking ahead of me, verrrrrry strangely, weaving from side to side, sometimes taking large steps and sometimes tiny steps. As I observed him I realized he was walking so as to avoid stepping on the dark(er) blue spots on the hotel’s carpeted hallway – like a kid does when playing the “Don’t touch the lava!” game or “step-on-a-crack-break-your-back.”  I got out my phone to film him, stopped moiself, then relaxed when he removed a key from his picket and let himself into a room.

After dinner Belle came up to my room to get something I had for her. On her way out of the hotel I got this series of texts from her:

Belle:
I JUST SAW THE GUY WALKING WEIRD ON THE CARPET.
It had to be the same guy. He was avoiding the dark spots.

Moiself:
YES!

Belle:
Large beard.

Moiself:

YES!

Belle:
Wow amazing.
He’s like a natural phenomenon.

 

The carpet.

 

*   *   *

Department Of Carolyn Hax    [8]    Gem Of The Week

Context: re advice to a letter writer who is being told by her husband’s family that if she objects to his extravagant spending habits she will be “emasculating” him.

“Is there a worse word (or concept) than ‘emasculating’?
It’s basically a verbal encapsulation of the concept that the genders must
work in concert toward preserving the standing of men.”

*   *   *

Punz For The Day
Baseball Edition

What’s the difference between a pickpocket and a second base umpire?
One steals watches and one watches steals.

Did I tell you the joke about the pop fly?
Never mind; it’s way over your head.

Why was Cinderella kicked off the baseball team?
She ran away from the ball.

Did you hear about the baseball player who can spot a fast-food restaurant a mile away?
He leads the league in Arby eyes.

 

“What did I say about encouraging her?”

 

*   *   *

 

May you remember that those who are not pro-choice are no choice;
May you read Carolyn Hax’s column – what are you waiting for?;
May you one day be enchanted by a Weird Carpet Walking Man;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

[1] Don’t make me use the term gubernatorial, which is a word that ought to be banned in public, IMO.

[2] For reasons revealed later in this post.

[3] A protestor? A drunk or loony?  We never found out. Just pick ‘em up and toss ‘em aside, disgruntled passengers helpfully suggested, to anyone who would listen.

[4] A sweep in a MLB series playoff.

[5] 18 innings, 1-0.  Sounds to me like a soccer score.

[6] As in record-setting for the Seattle area.

[7] And that’s why I had to spring for the pricy hotel rooms, as so many places were completely booked up, with the Elton fans, I assumed.

[8] What do you mean, who is Carolyn Hax?  Just about the best advice columnist ever.

The Clean Energy Source I’m Not (Yet) Inventing

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Department Of Yet Another Reason To Listen To As Many Science
And Nature-Themed Podcasts As You Can

Reason 349:  because you have the chance, at 7 am while out for a walk, to hear gems such as the following:

“It’s the first report of tool-assisted masturbation in wild animals…”    [1]

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Calling All Scientists And Entrepreneurs:   Save The World

Dateline: Saturday am; morning; listening to the People I (Mostly) Admire podcast with guest Ken Burns.  As is customary in PIMA podcast’s format, midway in the interview the host, Steven Levitt,    [2]  takes a break from the interview and, with producer Morgan Levey, reads and discuss a letter from a PIMA listener.  In this episode the letter was from a listener who wrote to Levitt about a petition called “Economists’ Statement on Carbon Dividends.”  Levitt, who has said that  “Putting a price on carbon is the single most efficient, effective, implementable way to fight climate,” has been a proponent of the carbon tax for years; however, he’d not heard of the petition, which has been signed by over 3,500 of his fellow economists.   [3]

LEVEY:
“So, I don’t mean to be a pessimist, but this statement signed by all these very notable and highly respected economists has been out for three years and we are no closer to a carbon tax now than we were three years ago.”

LEVITT:
“Oh, if anything we’re farther away. I think there was some glimmer of hope that we would have a carbon tax, but I think that really faded with the new Inflation Reduction Act that was passed, the big spending bill. Which devotes an enormous amount of resources towards fighting climate change, but on a different path. It focuses on subsidizing particular industries and technologies. It’s not the way economists would’ve done it, but in the end, public policy isn’t really about economics, it’s about politics. And… there’s a lot more support for giving subsidies to solar energy than there is for a carbon tax.”

 

 

Levey & Levitt talked about the carbon tax and other methods to mitigate global warming, and about how ultimately it was more comfortable for people to, say, subsidize solar energy.  Moiself  thought about the downside people point out about solar energy:  on cloudy or rainy days there’s much less UV light (for the photovoltaic cells on solar panels to convert to energy) – and there’s none at night.

Only clean/renewable energy is going to get us out of this mess. So, the major players in that category are solar, wind, and hydro (we arguably could have avoided this climate mess had we embraced nuclear, but that seems stalled   [4] ).  Now, I don’t know if this term exists or if moiself  just made it up, but what about *percussive energy?* What about a way, akin to solar panels, to harness the energy of raindrops hitting some kind of energy producing/capturing device?

This sounds like a job for SNOW !  [5]

 

 

For many years Intel, the world’s largest semiconductor producer, sponsored a yearly science fair for students  (my emphases):   [6]

“The Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, a program of Society for Science & the Public, is the world’s largest international pre-college science competition. Through a global network of local, regional and national science fairs, millions of students are encouraged to explore their passion for developing innovations that improve the way we work and live. Each May, a group of these students is selected as finalists and offered the opportunity to compete for approximately US $5 million in awards and scholarships.
Guided by the belief that advances in science and engineering are key to solving global challenges, Society for Science & the Public has organized and produced the competition since it was founded….”
( intel.com/ISEF factsheet )

The fair has been reborn/renamed, as the Regeneron ISEF.  ISEF awards are given to projects in four categories:  Global Health; Agriculture and Food Security; Climate and Environmental Protection; Working in Crisis and Conflict.

Moiself  found a picture of some of the award winners from 2021:

 

 

In the faces of these young scientists I see another kind of renewable energy:  Hope.

Calling all ISEF participants: whatever your category was, switch to Climate and Environmental protections.  Without that, we will have no use for awards in those other categories.  Without a habitable habitat there will be no global health or food security (except for the proverbial toast that we will all be).   [7]

 

 

 

Yo, Catherine, Daniel, Michelle, Franklin, Jon, Atya, Neha: please, will you and your like-minded friends get to work on percussive energy, and more?  Your adults have failed you; we have failed us all.

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Holding A Thought For Religious Believers Who’ve Experienced The Trauma Of Recent Natural Disasters (aka, “acts of god”)

 

 

 

*   *   *

Punz For The Day
Natural Disaster Edition

What song title do you get if you cross a card game with a hurricane?
Bridge Over Troubled Water.

I went into the kitchen and saw a hurricane making a pot of tea.
“Hmm,” I thought, “there’s a storm brewing.”

I’m writing a book on hurricanes and tornadoes.
It’s only a draft at the moment.

What do a tornado, a hurricane, and a redneck divorce have in common?
Somebody’s gonna lose their trailer.

 

 

*   *   *

May we encourage young/future scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs
to save the planet;
May our economists do more than sign petitions about carbon tax;
May we be treated to WTF?! podcast facts;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

[1] Curiosity Daily, 10-6-22, “Bee Venom Kills Cancer, Giant Manatees, Monkey Masturbation”

[2] University of Chicago economist, professor, and author.  And podcast host!

[3] I’d had no idea the world had more than 3500 economists.

[4] Thanks in large part to the hysterically bad science portrayed in “The China Syndrome.”

[5] Science Nerds of the World

[6] I think the last couple of years the fair was put on hold,  another pandemic casualty. Then it was reborn, and remaned.

[7] And no need for footnotes.

The Color Coordinated Outfit I’m Not Wearing

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

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

 

 

 

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

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

He says he does.

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

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

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

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Generalizations

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Women don’t do that,” I grumbled.

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

 

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

 

*   *   *

*   *   *

Department Of Apropos Of…Something

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

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

“I’m sorry you feel that way.”

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

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

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

Then I elaborated, along these lines:   [5]

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

 

 

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

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

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

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Things We Keep To Ourselves   [6]

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

“Roll over.”

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

“Why – was I making noise?”

 

 

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

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

What I actually say:
“Yes.”

 

 

*   *   *

Punz For The Day
Losing My Religion Edition

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

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

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

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

 

 

*   *   *

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

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

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

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

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

[4] Sorry?  I was fucking elated.

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

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

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

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

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

The Intentions I’m Not Setting

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Department Of First Things First:

Happy International Blasphemy Day, y’all.

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of It’s Not Working
#397 In A Never-Ending Series

Dateline: Monday morning, 9 am, at the beginning of my streaming Vinyasa yoga class.  The teacher announces that, in case we weren’t aware, September is National Yoga Awareness Month. She says that before the pandemic a group of yoga teachers in the area used to gather on the first Sunday after the Equinox to do 108 Sun Salutations in an open space, such as a public park.  They would begin the practice by “setting an intention” for world peace.  For this morning’s practice she was going to lead us in a series of Sun Salutations – but don’t worry, she assured us, *not* 108 of them.   [1]

 

 

Moiself  is aware of the practice of yogis doing 108 Sun Salutations to mark the changes of the seasons, and I’ve done them for the past few years, by moiself,   [2]  on the day of the solstices and equinoxes.  I hadn’t heard of the first-Sunday-after/intention-for-peace ® thing. And, after Monday morning’s class, when the teacher again mentioned the intention-for-peace, I couldn’t help but siggle (a combo sigh and giggle).

For thousands of years, thousands of monks and nuns – whether in Tibetan Buddhist monasteries or Roman Catholic abbeys, have devoted their lives to the practice of praying for world peace.

 

 

Yo, all you well-intentioned monastics (and any like-minded yogis):  it isn’t working.

One true thing: while occupied with doing yoga poses my fellow yogis and I were not outside the studio and/or our homes, fomenting armed conflicts.  And all those folks praying for/meditating on world peace, while they are so engaged, they also are not participating in any wars.    [3]    But prayer and good intentions…dudes, really?  These and other elements of “spiritual warfare” may give you a temporary dose of the warm fuzzies, but they didn’t stop the Romans or the Huns or the Nazis then, and they don’t stop Putin’s army now.

Nevertheless…. Yeah, it is a nice “intention.”  Namaste, y’all.

 

I’d prefer one yoga pose which does not effectively put all of my weight on my boobs…but hey, whatever works for you.

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of International Celebrations Of Yoga

Meanwhile, Irish yogis marked the Equinox with their traditional celebrations.   [4]

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Particularizing

“The best argument in the world won’t change a single person’s point of view.
The only thing that can do that is a good story.”
(novelist Richard Powers)

Recently I was listening to an interview with Ken Burns, who was promoting his latest documentary series, The US and the Holocaust.  When discussing with the interviewer how to get past the numbness of such atrocities, Burns said something at once common-sensical and dazzlingly insightful:   [5]

“If you don’t particularize, you anesthetize.”

Burns was referencing how one can try to illustrate or explain seemingly unimaginable numbers, such as this disorienting fact:

There were nine million Jews living in Europe before World War II; afterword,
there were only three million left alive.
Six million Jews died.

How many of us can imagine six million, of anything?  But, as Burns explained, you can tell the story of a family of three; you can show the pictures of a mama and a papa and their child, and tell how only one of the three will be alive at the end of the war.  *That* can touch people; that is something people can relate to.

I immediately thought of the movie The Martian, one of my favorite films of the past…well, ever.  Many is the discussion I’ve had with MH about that movie; more specifically, about the idea of sending people on manned missions to our moon or other planets.  Moiself  is in favor of that; I am keen on extra-Terran investigation of our cosmos and don’t see it happening otherwise.  I see the need for humans in space exploration as an inversion of the old astronaut’s axiom.  “No Buck Rogers, no bucks.”    [6]

 

 

MH’s position, held by some scientists and laypeople alike, is that it makes no sense to undertake the higher costs and logistics of sending astronauts to (for example) Mars when robots and probes, etc. can do similar jobs of exploration more efficiently and less dangerously.   [7]   But I say it depends on what kind of “sense” you are talking about.

If a probe crash lands or simply runs out of juice, the scientists who have worked for years (in some cases, decades) on the mission will be distressed, of course.  But no one will be scrambling to mount a rescue mission.

Exactly.

 

 

Without human involvement – not just in the design, but in having human/astronaut “boots on the ground” – you will not capture the wider human attention for the mission.  In the real-life case of Apollo 13, millions of people around the world were watching.  Even if only temporarily, people set aside personal concerns and were united in their hopes that the three imperiled astronauts would make it back to earth alive.  Three men in a space can.  Meanwhile, 100,000 times as many people were dying across the globe every day, some from (arguably) treatable causes such as famine, war, and poverty.  But we don’t relate to those numbers; it is the particular stories which can capture our hearts and minds.

Figures like 100,000 deaths anesthetize.  But a particular story can, I firmly believe, unite people across seemingly intractable political barriers, as when, in the fictional case of The Martian, an international crew of astronauts faced tragedy, and Chinese scientists persuaded their government to essentially give up their secrets in order to help a stranded fellow scientist.

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of The Podcast I Couldn’t Listen To All The Way Through

But first, a flashback.

Dateline: a long time ago in a galaxy far far away, during one of those late-night, discussing-Deep-Topics®-while-sitting-in-someone’s-dorm-room conversations.  One of the Deep Topics® participants, in whose room the conversation was taking place (there were a total of five of us), was considering majoring in psychology.  While we bantered about various subjects, “Tim,” a dorm friend of ours, appeared in the open doorway of the room.  Reeking of dead skunk and beaming a beatific smile, Tim looked down at us five, spouted some stoner nonsense, and continued staggering down the hallway, loudly humming a Grateful Dead song.

Deep Topics® host chuckled, then offered a provocative discussion topic. With the caveat that psychological survey claims cannot ultimately be tested, they said they’d read a survey wherein religious believers generally claimed to be happier than religious skeptics. 

“And your point would be?” moiself  snarked.   I pointed out that, right now, Tim would no doubt “survey” as being happier than all five of us combined.  Little did I know that Someone Smarter Than Moiself ® had already nailed that one.

 

 

Back to the podcast I couldn’t finish.  It was a recent episode from one of my favorites: Alan Alda’s Clear + Vivid podcast.  In that particular episode, Alda was up to his usual high standards of affable yet probing interviewer, and his guest was equally amiable and engaging.  But the episode, Bridging Science and Faith, was about a subject at which guest Francis Collins tanked, IMO.

There was no bridge constructed.  Not even an inflatable pontoon.

 

 

Collins is a noted a physician and researcher, former director of the NIH, and one of the Human Genome Project leaders.  The episode had this teaser:

Head of the National Institutes of Health for 13 years and now interim science advisor to President Biden, Francis Collins is that rarity in the scientific community – an outspoken evangelical Christian.
For him, science is “getting a glimpse of God’s mind.”

In the interview Collins ultimately (even cheerfully) did not offer any “evidence” for his belief in a (Christian) god, except for the fact that he did believe.  He openly admitted that he could make no argument for the evidence affirming the particulars of Christian theology over those of other religions.  It quite surprised me, coming from a scientist – his offering of the shopworn, “oh gosh all these things I am studying it must have come from something, and it looks like there is some kind of order to it, yet we don’t know what it is…”  reason.

You don’t know something, and so you conclude that the something must be a supernatural deity, aka, a god?  That’s quite a leap, for which there is no evidence.  And science is all about the evidence.  Thus the fact that scientists consistently survey as the least religious professionals.

Then, when Collins decides to embrace the concept of a deity, he happens to choose a religion which would be the most comfortable and familiar and acceptable in his culture and country: Christianity.  It was a giddy, circular concept, as dizzying as a child’s playground roundabout.  Collins said that by studying what he studied (biology/the human genome), by examining the “evidence,” he became convinced of the existence of a creator, which led to his religious faith – however, this same evidence does not convince other scientists who have studied the same things (the vast majority of scientists) that there is anything supernatural guiding the cosmos….  So, Collins talks about the evidence leading him to faith even as he admits that he takes his faith on faith, because there *isn’t* objective evidence to prove his faith.

 

 

Scientists, of course, are human beings, raised by and living among other human beings.  Whether or not they actually believe in their particular culture’s religions, many scientists do not object to being identified with the religion of their family or “tribe,” or they continue to hold on to some kind of religious identity for cultural and social reasons (and for professional and personal safety reasons, as in some societies you do not have the freedom to be open about religious disbelief, no matter what your profession is).

“I have no problem going to church services because quite often, again that’s a cultural thing,” said a physics reader in the U.K. who said he sometimes attended services because his daughter sang in the church choir. “It’s like looking at another part of your culture, but I have no faith religiously.”
( “First worldwide survey of religion and science: No, not all scientists are atheists.”
Rice University news and media relations 12-3-15 )

Even as I kept those contingencies in mind, moiself  started doing that thing – have you ever done it? – feeling embarrassment for or on behalf of a person I have never met, a person who is not even in the same room but whom I think is speaking…well…foolishly.

I wish Collins would have just said, “I have chosen to believe this,” instead of claiming that some kind of evidence – which, unlike the evidence used to map the genome, is not evident to his fellow scientists – is what led him to faith.  Like the vast majority of religious folk, no matter their profession or education, Collins’ decision to embrace the supernatural is not (IMO) the result of response to objective evidence;   [8]  rather, it is due to that most human of traits: credulity.  For whatever reasons, he *wanted* to believe.  And so he did. 

Don’t get me wrong – I think Collins is a great guy.  And I love the fact that he had a friendship with the late great British journalist and author, Christopher Hitchens. “Hitch” trashed Collins in public debates (re the existence of a supernatural deity) but got to know Collins personally.   [9]

 

 

We now pause for a break in our regularly scheduled program to take advantage of this opportunity for segue.

Many is the person, however witty and wise they had previously seemed to be, who regretted debating Christopher Hitchens.  Hitchens was acknowledged by admirers and detractors alike as being one of the best debaters to ever take the stage.  In 2007 at an FFRF convention I had the pleasure of hearing Hitchens speak, then answer questions from the audience.  One of the audience questioners…oh, dear.  I felt so sorry for the man, but he phrased his disagreements with several of Hitchens’ opinions – disagreements I moiself  actually held – somewhat inanely and very clumsily.  And Hitch pounced.  I witnessed a phenomena that (at the time) I didn’t know had already been given a name:  the man had been Hitch-slapped.

 

Hitchens response to the biblical story of Abraham obeying god’s command to sacrifice his son Isaac.

 

Definition: when a person overwhelmingly lost a debate with Christopher Hitchens or was the subject of a devastating Hitch putdown, s/he was said to have been “Hitch-slapped.”

Most of the people Hitchens debated with wound up Hitch-Slapped within a few minutes of making their first remarks. You can check out one of my favorite H-S moments here.

Christopher Hitchens was an annihilative debater, seizing on logical weaknesses and often dominating the discourse with his vast vocabulary and Oxford-honed debating skills.  No matter the subject, Hitch would have all the facts at his disposal and an overwhelmingly witty way of presenting them, in his unpretentious British accent.  Some of his finest moments were when he had the audience on his side and he turned his powerful forensic skills on them, if he felt they’d mistreated his opponent:

“The liberal…audience members were on Hitchens’ side, of course….  They cheered him on and loudly booed (his opponent) ….  Instead of basking in the adulation, he stopped the debate to scold the audience for treating (his opponent) so shabbily.
As a leftist way outside of the mainstream, he knew what it was like to have his opinions shouted down, and he objected to his own partisans engaging in such behavior.”

( “Christopher Hitchens…outrageously fierce, outrageously classy…” Isthmus12-16-11 )

 

 

Hitch called his and Collins’ friendship despite having differing opinions on religion “The greatest armed truce of modern times,” and he praised Collins’ devotion to the Human Genome and other scientific projects.  I do appreciate how over the years Collins has been the point man in getting other evangelical Christians to consider the facts of science.  But I don’t think “the facts,” other than the those of Collins’ own humanity and credulity, are what caused Collins to undertake the most human of endeavors: religion.

 

 

*   *   *

Punz For The Day
Autumn Edition

What’s the best vehicle to drive in the fall?
An autumnmobile.

A pumpkin got a job at a public pool, watching children swim.
I guess you could say it was a life-gourd.

My husband lets people blame him for anything bad that happens in Autumn.
What can I say; he’s a Fall guy.

How do you fix a broken pumpkin computer program?
With a pumpkin patch.

 

 

*   *   *

May we do more than visualize what we want for the world;
May we be aware of our own credulility and never deserve to be Hitch-slapped;
May we remember that all great truths began as blasphemies;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

 

 

*   *   *

[1] It was more like 27.

[2] And once in the studio, in a pre-pandemic group.

[3] Except of course for the war on rational thinking.

[4] I’m half Irish, and thus claim the right to make fun of my peeps.

[5] Hardly surprising, from the person who has had a (if not the) most profound influence on how Americans see and understand their own history.

[6] That phrase, from The Right Stuff (movie and book) refers to the reality understood by the USA’s early space program participants, from NASA scientists to astronauts: No money, no space travel.  Thus, the space program courted the press (well, the “right kind” of press) and public interest, without which they knew the funding for their program would not likely be approved.

[7] As in, your average homo sapiens does not (yet) equate losing a robot with having an astronaut die.

[8] As contrasted with people who are religious and admit not to have examined their religions’ theology and/or tenets – they are religious because they were raised to be and have accepted it.

[9] Collins played the piano at Hitchens’ memorial service.

The Mirror Universe I’m Not Occupying

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Department Of Aging Well

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

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

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

 

 

 

*   *   *

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

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

 

 

 

*   *   *

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

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

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

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

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

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

Or, perhaps mirror moiself  has a real job.

 

 

*   *   *

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Here is the actual passage:

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

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

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

 

 

At least one Christian blogger noticed and took issue:

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

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

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

*   *   *

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

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

 

 

 

Ballerinas can fart, too!

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

 

*   *   *

Punz For The Day
MGE   [7]

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

*   *   *

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

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

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

[2] Not amish.

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

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

[5] The words of others, not moiself.

[6] And evidently do.

[7] Miscellaneous Groaners Edition.

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

The Highways I’m Not Renaming

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Department Of I Have Questions…But To Whom?

Dateline Tuesday am.  Driving Highway 26 from the Oregon coast to Hillsboro, moiself  comes upon a portion of the highway with has a new-ish sign on the side of the road which announces: “POW-MIA Memorial Highway.” I’ve seen the sign several times before, and have often thought, why?

Is this –  naming portions of a road for a person or group of people – considered an honor, *by* that person or group of people for whom the road is named?

I know that that is a thing – roads being named for people.  But what I don’t know is why having a thoroughfare named for or after you is considered to be…an act of respect  [1]  ?

Here’s what a bit ‘o googling got me:  I was mistaken in thinking it’s only that particular portion of the Highway 26 (where the P-MMH sign is) which is now the P-MMH.  The whole damn highway, which I’ve always known as The Sunset Highway, was renamed – excuse-moi, “officially dubbed” – the P-MMH.  This happened in 2020. I didn’t get the memo, nor was moiself  invited to the ceremony.

 

 

 

 

“Highway 26 has now been named the POW-MIA Memorial Highway. This designation was celebrated in cities across the state, including Boring, on National POW-MIA Recognition Day, Sept. 18, and came as a result of the efforts of Lt. Colonel Dick Tobiason (Ret.) and his nonprofit, The Bend Heroes Foundation.”   [2]

(“Highway 26 officially dubbed POW-MIA Memorial Highway,”
Oregon Department of Veterans Affairs, 9-24-2020)

I wish for a relative (of a POW or MIA) whom I know well enough to be comfortable asking them, “Does having a road named after your soldier-uncle make you feel warm and fuzzy, or honored, or that his sacrifices were not in vain, or….?”

Not that I’m against honoring or acknowledging soldiers, particularly POWs and MIAs.  Anyone   [3]  remember the POW and MIA bracelets from 1970-on, during the Vietnam War era?

 

 

The idea was for people to wear the bracelets to keep the recognition of POWs and MIAs in the public eye. I wore two such bracelets, but can’t remember from whom/where I got them.  I recall that, for some nominal fee to the organization which started the campaign,   [4]   you would receive a copper or nickel-plated bracelet, engraved with the rank, name, and capture or loss date of an American serviceman known to be captured or missing in action during the Vietnam War.  You were supposed to wear the bracelet until said soldier (or his remains) was returned to the USA.  [5] 

I was as anti-Vietnam war as teenager could be, but didn’t blame soldiers for our country’s massive FUBAR of a military campaign.  Thus, when someone asked me if I would “help” soldiers by wearing one of the bracelets I said sure, and shelled out my nominal bracelet donation (~ $3).  I first wore a POW bracelet, then a MIA bracelet.

I never got the chance to return the bracelet to “my” POW.  Whether or not he was part of the group set free in the 1973 liberation of North Vietnam-held American POWs, I’ve no idea.  His name is lost to the abyss of my long term memory, the bracelet known to only the residents of Davey Jones Locker.

I shall explain.

 

 

 

 

My POW’s bracelet was liberated from my wrist during a body surfing incident at Newport Beach in the summer of…1971, I think.  My younger sister’s friend, JT, was swimming with me, trying to catch the same (way-too-big) wave as I was riding.  She attempted to cut underneath me, and we both wiped out.  As we tumbled t-over-a in the foamy surf, the edge of my bracelet “pantsed” JT, catching on her bikini bottom and pulling it down to her ankles.  When we both surfaced, sputtering and laughing, she pulled up her bikini bottom and handed me my POW bracelet, which had been stretched beyond its tensile strength – when I tried to crimp it back to its normal size it broke in half.  As JT and I stood gasping and giggling in water up to our elbows, another wave knocked both of us over…and my POW bracelet became one with the briny.

I got a MIA bracelet after that, but cannot remember its fate (nor that of the unfortunate soldier whose remains were still – or never – to be found.)   [6]

Yet again, I digress. 

Another Oddly Named Thing ® on Highway 26, that I think of every time – yes, every gawddamn time I see it – is the Dennis L. Edwards Tunnel.  “Oddly” is being kind; I consider the naming of the tunnel to be somewhat macabre, seeing as what Mr. Edwards had to do to acquire his namesake.

 

 

The Dennis L. Edwards Tunnel is a highway tunnel in northwestern Oregon that carries the Sunset Highway (U.S. Route 26) through the Northern Oregon Coast Range mountains….
The tunnel was originally known as the Sunset Tunnel until 2002. It was renamed in honor of Dennis L. Edwards, an Oregon Department of Transportation worker who was killed on January 28, 1999 when part of the tunnel collapsed while he was inspecting it for damage caused by heavy rains.
(Wikipedia entry for Dennis L. Edwards tunnel)

When moiself  sees the tunnel sign, I briefly ponder: what does Edward’s family think, when they are driving to or from the coast and approach the tunnel?  Or perhaps, after the tunnel was renamed, they said uh, yeah, thanks for remembering and now just avoid THE SUNSET HIGHWAY altogether?

Inquiring minds want to know.  But perhaps we never shall.

*   *   *

Department Of Blast From The Past

Updating/cleaning out my writing documents on my computer, I stumbled upon a contribution I had been thinking of making, several years ago, to the literary journal Stoneslide Collective’s Rejection Generator Project.  As described on their website, the rejection generator was…

“…a tool to help anyone who faces rejection. The Rejection Generator rejects writers before an editor looks at a submission. Inspired by psychological research showing that after people experience pain they are less afraid of it in the future, The Rejection Generator helps writers take the pain out of rejection….The Rejection Generator Project is built on the premise that the most painful rejections ultimately help writers build their immunity to future disappointment.”

Moiself  had completely forgotten about that project of theirs, until I came across notes I’d made for my planned contribution (which I can’t find any record of having been sent).

Stoneslide Corrective had published a story of mine, “The Aunt” (October 2012) , which was an excerpt from my then novel-in-progress.  [7]   A few months after publication of my story I received this email from SC’s editor:

I hope all is going well with you and your writing. We at Stoneslide are planning a celebration to mark the one-year anniversary of our Rejection Generator Project. As part of that, we are inviting some of the writers we’ve published to provide “Guest Editor” rejection letters. Please let me know if you’d like to participate.

Evidently, I had fun with the Rejection Generator Project…but in my records there is no indication if I ever sent it in (and SC ceased publishing in 2016 or 17).  Here are the rejections I (apparently/evidently) would have contributed.

***************************

Dear Writer,

We are returning your manuscript.  As per your request for feedback:  Don’t quit your day job.  If you don’t have a day job, find one with a benefits package that includes adult literacy classes.

The Editors

********

Dear Writer,

We are returning your collection of poems, any one of which makes the bathroom stall ode, “Here I Sit So Broken-Hearted” read like Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18 by comparison.

The Editors

********

Dear Writer,

While our standard rejection letter begins with the phrase, Thank you for thinking of us, we are anything but thankful that you considered us an appropriate venue for your manuscript of “erotic verse.”  If for some inexplicable reason we’d desired to be assaulted by expressions of juvenile sentiment and vulgarity we’d have install listening devices in the nearest junior high school boys’ locker room.

The Editors

P.S. and F.Y.I. – nothing rhymes with “bulbous.”

********

Dear Writer,

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

No; really.

The Editors

********

 

********

Dear Writer,

Please excuse this form rejection letter.  Frankly, your mediocre manuscript does not merit a personal response.

The Editors

********

Gentle Writer,

Do bother to acquaint yourself with the most basic understanding of submission guidelines.  When an English language journal states that it accepts translations, this means that the work submitted must be translated from its original language into English.  Whatever dialect your short story was written in, none of us – not our Da Bronx native fiction editor, not our Appalachia-born, Kentucky-raised poetry editor, not our intern from the Ebonics exchange program – could decipher it.

Vaya con Queso,

The Editors

********

Dear Writer,

Please excuse what appear to be coffee stains on your returned submission. By the time she made it to paragraph three of your putrid prose our fiction editor was laughing so hard she spewed a mouthful of her espresso bean kale smoothie on the manuscript.

The Editors

********

Dear Writer,

Should you wish to submit to us in the future, please heed our guidelines – specifically, our request that you “Send us your best work.”  If what you sent was your best work, you have our sympathy, as well as our enduring request that you ignore our future submission periods.

The Editors

*****************

 

*   *   *

Punz For The Day
Writing Punz Rejection Generator Edition

What kind of references do physician writers insert in their research papers?
Podiatrists use footnotes; proctologists use endnotes.

What is a car’s favorite literary genre?
Autobiography.

What mantra did the Star Wars screenwriters use to remind themselves to put more figures of speech in their scripts?
“Metaphors be with you.”

 

 

 

*   *   *

May no one ever have cause to name a highway after you;
May your rejection notes be few, and facetious;
May the metaphors always be with you;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

[1] Or something else?  I cannot think of another concept.

[2] For y’all non-Oregonians, Bend is a city in the central high desert area of Oregon. So, the Bend Heroes Foundation refers to the location of the veteran’s organization, and not to their limberness or exercise routine.  And Boring – yep, that’s an Oregon town as well.

[3] Of a certain age, ahem.

[4] I think it was a couple of college students.

[5] At which time, via the organization, you could send the bracelet to the serviceman and/or his family.

[6] An older veteran once I spoke to told me that MIA essentially meant KIA, but that in some cases, where a soldier’s death was witnessed by others and the death was in such a gruesome manner that there could be “no body parts left to identify,” the MIA label was reassuring to the family…which I never understood, unless it was a tacit agreement on their part to not acknowledge the unimaginable?  A soldier blown to pink mist by a bomb is still dead, even if there was not enough of him left to be identified at the time, in the battlefield, with the forensic methods then available.

[7] Since retitled…still unpublished!

The Clinic Protocol I’m Not Following

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Moiself opted for the waiting area.

 

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

 

*   *   *

Department Of Yet Another Lie My Teachers Told Me

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

Swine flu stew tonight! Invite the neighbors!

 

*   *   *

Department Of Celebrity Mythos

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

*   *   *

Department Of Thar She Blows

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

 

 

Once again, I digress.

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

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

 

 

*   *   *

Punz For The Day
Cetacean Edition

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

*   *   *

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

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

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

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

[3] How’s that for a modest title?

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Eyebrows I’m Not Combing

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Department Of Why I Love Dicks

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

 

And they love equal access to health care as well.

 

*   *   *

Department Of Good Intentions That Still Make Me Slightly Queasy

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

 

*   *   *

*   *   *

 

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

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

 

 

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

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

 

 

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

*   *   *

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

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

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

 

 

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

 

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

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

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

Moiself:
“Yep.”

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

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

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

 

*   *   *

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

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

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

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

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

[3] (if you deem them worthy).

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

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

The Liberty Loss I’m Not Accepting

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Department Of It’s Still Complicated

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

GORDON-REED:

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

*   *   *

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

 

 

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

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

What kind of nation had I returned to?

 

 

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

 

 

I’ll make it simple for y’all.

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

 

 

 

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

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

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

Ejaculations cause pregnancies.

 

Who, me?

 

Why is it never framed this way:

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

 

*   *   *

 

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

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

[1] Was not allowed to leave.

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

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

[4] Like there are any reading this blog.

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

[6] And wrapped in five plutonium condoms.

[7] And what are the chances of that?

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

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

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

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

The Gender I’m Not Erasing

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Department Of Why I Fear For My Country
Chapter 1285 In A Depressingly Long Book

Moiself  be so effin’ tired of this:

“….writing for the majority in overturning Roe vs. Wade, Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. argued for a more narrow interpretation of the rights guaranteed to Americans, saying that the right to an abortion was not spelled out in the Constitution.”

 

 

Imagine that!  How astonishing, that the all-male, all-white, enslavers-of-Black-Africans, upper class, property-owning dudes who wrote and signed our nation’s governing document over 240 years ago didn’t “spell out” women’s’ rights to bodily autonomy, when they wouldn’t even give women the right to vote?

 

 

Justice Alito, take your ass out of your mouth for just one minute:  consider the intellectual absurdities behind why you (or any person in the 21st century person), when it comes to interpreting and applying the US Constitution, would consider himself an originalist.

 

 

And as one who call himself an originalist, why are you not then demanding the resignation of your SCOTUS colleague and fellow ignoramus originalist, Clarence I’m-only-black-when-I-can-play-the-race-card Thomas, whose enslaved ancestors were “spelled out” in the Constitution as 3/5 of a white person and who were not enfranchised, much less able to hold judgeships and other public offices?

 

 

Why are you not also demanding the resignation of the latest originalist  horseshit-licker adherent, Amy Conehead Coney Barrett, who, if the original writers of the Constitution had their way, would neither be able to vote nor serve on the SCOTUS?

“…why should we, in the Sight of Superior Beings, darken (America’s) People? Why increase the Sons of Africa, by planting them in America, where we have so fair an Opportunity, by excluding all Blacks…”
(Founding Father and United States Constitution signatory Benjamin Franklin,
lamenting the “darkening” of America,
“Founding fathers, trashing immigrants,” The Washington Post 8-28-15 )

Nor was it “spelled out” in the Constitution, nor even imagined by its framers, that one day the Roman Catholic son of “swarthy” complected immigrants with surnames like, hello, ALITO, might serve on the SCOTUS.

 

 

 

Look.  Moiself  was born here (USA), and almost everyone I love is here.  Sigh, to the nth.  To start over in another country, at my age and lack of “other” language skills – which would translate into never-quite-belonging-in- ____ (insert country name) – is not likely to happen.  But in the past few months….

 

 

Having seen other alternatives, I get urges to run away to Norway or Denmark or Sweden or Iceland – to countries with equally complicated histories but which don’t enshrine the mistakes of those histories in their contemporary governing documents.

*   *   *

 

 

*   *   *

Except…not completely different.  In fact, depressingly similar.

Department Of Stop What You’re Doing And Read This Op Ed Piece Now,
Whether You Be A Man Or A Person With A Vagina Woman:

The following are excerpts from “The Far Right and Far Left Agree on One Thing: Women Don’t Count” ( Pamela Dowd, NY Times,  7-3-22; my emphases)   [1]  

“It wasn’t so long ago — and in some places the belief persists — that women were considered a mere rib to Adam’s whole. Seeing women as their own complete entities, not just a collection of derivative parts, was an important part of the struggle for sexual equality.

But here we go again, parsing women into organs. Last year the British medical journal The Lancet patted itself on the back for a cover article on menstruation. Yet instead of mentioning the human beings who get to enjoy this monthly biological activity, the cover referred to “bodies with vaginas.” It’s almost as if the other bits and bobs — uteruses, ovaries or even something relatively gender-neutral like brains — were inconsequential. That such things tend to be wrapped together in a human package with two X sex chromosomes is apparently unmentionable….

“…(on the far Left) the word ‘women’ has become verboten. Previously a commonly understood term for half the world’s population, the word had a specific meaning tied to genetics, biology, history, politics and culture. No longer. In its place are unwieldy terms like ‘pregnant people,’ ‘menstruators’ and ‘bodies with vaginas.’

Planned Parenthood, once a stalwart defender of women’s rights, omits the word ‘women’ from its home page. NARAL Pro-Choice America has used “birthing people” in lieu of ‘women.’ The American Civil Liberties Union, a longtime defender of women’s rights, last month tweeted its outrage over the possible overturning of Roe v. Wade as a threat to several groups: ‘Black, Indigenous and other people of color, the L.G.B.T.Q. community, immigrants, young people.’

It left out those threatened most of all: women.
Talk about a bitter way to mark the 50th anniversary of Title IX.”

“The noble intent behind omitting the word ‘women’ is to make room for the relatively tiny number of transgender men and people identifying as nonbinary who retain aspects of female biological function and can conceive, give birth or breastfeed. But despite a spirit of inclusion, the result has been to shove women to the side….

Women didn’t fight this long and this hard only to be told we couldn’t call ourselves women anymore. This isn’t just a semantic issue; it’s also a question of moral harm, an affront to our very sense of ourselves.”

 

 

 

“Those women who do publicly express mixed emotions or opposing views are often brutally denounced for asserting themselves. (Google the word ‘transgender’ combined with the name Martina Navratilova, J.K. Rowling  [2]    or Kathleen Stock to get a withering sense.) They risk their jobs and their personal safety. They are maligned as somehow transphobic or labeled TERFs, a pejorative that may be unfamiliar to those who don’t step onto this particular Twitter battlefield. Ostensibly shorthand for ‘trans-exclusionary radical feminist,’ which originally referred to a subgroup of the British feminist movement, ‘TERF’ has come to denote any woman, feminist or not, who persists in believing that while transgender women should be free to live their lives with dignity and respect, they are not identical to those who were born female and who have lived their entire lives as such, with all the biological trappings, societal and cultural expectations, economic realities and safety issues that involves.

But in a world of chosen gender identities, women as a biological category don’t exist. Some might even call this kind of thing erasure.

When not defining women by body parts, misogynists on both ideological poles seem determined to reduce women to rigid gender stereotypes. The formula on the right we know well: Women are maternal and domestic — the feelers and the givers and the ‘Don’t mind me’s. The unanticipated newcomers to such retrograde typecasting are the supposed progressives on the fringe left. In accordance with a newly embraced gender theory, they now propose that girls — gay or straight — who do not self-identify as feminine are somehow not fully girls. Gender identity workbooks created by transgender advocacy groups for use in schools offer children helpful diagrams suggesting that certain styles or behaviors are ‘masculine’ and others ‘feminine.’

Didn’t we ditch those straitened categories in the ’70s?”

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Parenting Confessions

This memory came to me apropos of … still trying to figure it out.

Anyway, the setup: People say you can call your dog anything as long as you use a certain type of voice.  It doesn’t matter what you say; Rover thinks you’re expressing undying admiration as long as you use high tones and a sing-song inflection:

“  ♫  Oh, whose the good little dung-doggie?  Rover’s just a little dirt doofus,
you widdle sweetie doo-doo-eating turdy-sack, oh, yes you are!  ♫  “

Along those lines….

Dateline:  a long time ago in galaxies far, far away (28 and 25 years ago).   I am blurry-eyed after early morning breast-feeding sessions, rocking whichever babe (28 years ago, son K; 25 years ago, daughter Belle), desperately trying to get them to go back to sleep by trying to sing a lullaby whose name and lyrics my sleep-deprived, 3 am brain cannot recall… except that it begins with the ultimate parental admonition,

“Go to sleep, little —-”

“…little…” what?  I think it’s something that rhymes with sleep.  Maybe, sheep?  Yeah, maybe, but what comes after that?  And I refuse to call my children sheep.  So, as I am wont to do, I craft my own lyrics, using my most Loving Mother ® voice:

“Go to sleep, little creep,

go to sleep or I’ll drop you…”   [3]

 

“C’mon, sweetie, drink your Ambien tea or mommy’s gonna keep singing.”

 

*   *   *

Department Of Appreciating Mondegreens    [4]
Is A The Key Factor In Maintaining Mental Health

Dateline: Monday afternoon, driving up the coast to meet friends from high school who are in the area.   [5]    The podcast I was listening to ended;  moiself  pressed my car radio’s scanner, trying to find a station which had somewhat decent reception (which can be iffy on the coast) and which was not a talk or religious format.  The first such station I hit upon was in the midst of playing a song with this lyric in its chorus:

♫  You’re the best thing since bathrobes, baby….  ♫

Huh? I pressed the button to remain on the channel, as my curiosity was piqued.  No, it can’t be “bathrobes.” Let’s see what the second chorus sounds like….

♫  You’re the best thing since bathrooms, baby….  ♫

Who doesn’t appreciate a bathroom, (especially when you’re on a road trip), but, really?

One more chorus:  oh…backroads. It turned out the country crooner   [6]   was comparing his sweetie to backroads.

 

 

*   *   *

Punz For The Day
Backroads Edition

I don’t care for most country music – not to denigrate those who do.
And for people who DO like country music, ‘denigrate’ means ‘put down.’

What do you get when you combine country and rap music?
Crap.

I got a white noise machine for our bedroom.
It turns out that falling asleep to country music is harder than I thought.

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

May you resist the pressure to use gender-erasing terms;
May you enjoy making up your own lullabies;
May you learn to fall asleep to country music;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

[1]  Excerpts, schmexcerpts – I practically quoted the whole damn article.  Because it’s that good, that refreshingly sensible.

[2] The latest, which sounds so silly as to be an The Onion story. Sadly, I ain’t making this up: “Quidditch is now quadball, distancing game from J.K. Rowling, league says.,”  (Washington Post, 7-20-22 )

[3] And they did, eventually, go to sleep.

[4] “…a mishearing or misinterpretation of a phrase in a way that gives it a new meaning. Mondegreens are most often created by a person listening to a poem or a song; the listener, being unable to hear a lyric clearly, substitutes words that sound similar and make some kind of sense….” (Wikipedia, Mondegreen )

[5] Friends from high school…junior high, actually.  Wow.

[6] Well, of course it was a country music song.  Did moiself  really need to tag the genre?

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