Department Of Why Are Some People Still Doing This?
“Summer is synonymous with barbecues, parades and fireworks. The National Safety Council advises everyone to enjoy fireworks at public displays conducted by professionals, and not to use any fireworks at home. They may be legal but they are not safe.” (National Safety Council, “Leave Fireworks to the Experts” )
Please don’t purchase or use fireworks. Moiself doesn’t give a roman candle’s flaming buttcrack about how fondly you look back on those childhood July 4th fireworks parties  – such an activity should be considered anachronistic at best.
“*I* can celebrate with a safe and sane fireworks display, I know it!”
I was surprised by my own visceral reaction (barely suppressed rage; an urge to approach the owners and employees and shame them into leaving) when I saw a fireworks stand this year. *WTF are they doing here?* This was before the heat wave that pummeled the Pacific NW (and western Canada). But folks, we’ve known for years about why, even if Some People ® just can’t get it up for Uh-Mur-ica without viewing explosive pyrotechnic devices, fireworks displays should be left to a few professional or civic shows.
Fireworks suck. For fleeting moments of pyrotechnic entertainment, we also get
* extensive air pollution produced in a short amount of time, leaving metal particles, dangerous toxins, harmful chemicals and smoke in the air for hours (sometimes days) and which find their way into our soil and water systems; 
* fear, acute anxiety and distress, risk of hearing loss (especially for dogs) for our pets; 
* habitat destruction and degradation for wild animals, which is particularly “…energetically costly and physiologically stressful for wild birds, which leave their roost in explosive panic and can smash their skulls or break their necks as the result of flying into trees, fences, billboards, houses and other solid objects that they cannot see in the gloom and smoky chaos (and survivors of the original explosive panic flight remain in danger because these birds are forced to find a safe place to roost in the middle of the night).” 
* over 19,000 fires set – from home roof blazes to wildfire – and over 9,000 people (most often children and teens) sent to emergency rooms due to severe burns and other injuries caused while using consumer fireworks. 
The 2017 Eagle Creek wildfire consumed 50,000 acres of the picturesque Columbia Gorge. Embers of the fire were still smoldering eight months after major containment. Hiking trails and other areas of that scenic wilderness were heavily damaged; U.S. Forest Service and other officials estimate that some trails may remain closed for years. The devastating conflagration was, like so many other wildfires and brushfires, started by fireworks.
Life is all about change, about altering our behavior to accomodate altering circumstances. We didn’t always have firework stands and home fireworks shows; we can survive, thrive, and celebrate without them.
Does this boy represent an ignorant, self-centered, head-in-the-sand danger to the humanity and environment…or is he just another cute dork in a silly costume?
* * *
Department Of The Cinematic Story Strategy Which Annoys MH
That would be time travel. Moiself appreciates (and mostly shares) MH’s aggravation with the over-used, cheap-way-not-to-have-to-deal-with-reality plot device.
Moiself cannot recall the name of the podcast I heard recently, in which the podcast hosts and guests discussed a (non-scientific) survey conducted about time travel. Random bench sitters were asked questions along the lines of,
“If you could travel in time, (1) would you choose to do so? (2) if you said yes to (1), would you choose to travel to the past,
or to the future?”
The surveyors seems to have the idea that time travelers going to the past would do so with the motivation of having the opportunity to change something that they did, or neglected to do – an action which, the time travelers hoped, would right a wrong and/or increase happiness or success in their present lives. (Indeed, some people questioned gave answers supporting that idea.)
There was a bit o’ surprise among the surveyors re the number of people over age 50 who wanted to travel to the future, not the past. Some of the younger folk – even a few children – said there were things in the past they’d like to change (words spoken; actions they wish they could do over). But most of the 50+ folk surveyed expressed little desire to go back in time to change some pivotal event (whether it be in their own/personal lives, or re world history  ). The podcast guests and hosts bantered about why that was so, and the answers of a few of those who were surveyed gave them a clue: older people know, from decades of experience, that there are innumerable incidents large and small which make up a lifetime; thus, going back to change what might seem like a pivotal moment would probably not make much of a difference in one’s long-term outlook and prospects.
I don’t know how the episode ended; I stopped listening midway through, as I was consumed with the thought of what *my* time travel choice would be. Seeing as how traveling to one’s past is Not One Of Those Things That Will Happen At All, Or At Least In My Lifetime ®, I dismissed that option, for a clear-eyed – and ultimately more fulfilling, moiself thinks – embrace of reality: I hold that each of us are, already, “one way” time travelers.
“Please elucidate, in a non-sesquipedalian manner.”
We are time travelers to the future. True, it’s on a smaller scale as compared with sci fi cinematic conceits, but that doesn’t change the fact that today is the future we were envisioning twenty years, ten months, two weeks, one day ago. Right now is yesterday’s future. With every breath and step I take, I travel into the future.
Although…how cool would it be to join Ms. Frizzle and the gang and ride The Magic School Bus back to the time of the dinosaurs?
* * *
Department Of The Best Way To Begin A Podcast
…is with an opening line comparable to this, from a recent episode of Curiosity Daily :
“The butt – way more versatile than you may expect…” ( Curiosity Daily, “Mammals can breathe through their butts,” 6-25-21 )
And why, you may ask, is such a possibility worthy of notation, or research? Researchers are hopeful that this discovery may lead to treatments for humans suffering from severely diminished lung capacity.
Well, of course they are.
As for moiself, although I generally avoid reality TV, I could be persuaded to tune in to see a butt-breathing act on one of those “America’s Got Talent”-type shows.
* * *
Punz For The Day Time Travel Edition
I used to be addicted to time travel, but that’s all in the past now.
If you time travel to the future and get decapitated, you really are a head of your time
If I travel back from the future and carry a bratwurst with me, do I have a link to the past?
I’ve invented a device to harvest herbs from the future: it’s a thyme machine.
“Please, Doc, take us back to before there was this blog.”
* * *
May you enjoy fantasizing about your own Magic School Bus destination; May you help your pulmonary-compromised friends and relatives practice butt-breathing (discretely, please); May you liberate yourself from the desire to buy and/or use fireworks; …and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 I have such memories. For many years now I’ve have realized that that’s just what they should be: memories, as in, in the past.
Happy Lunar New Year to my Chinese friends and family, and all who celebrate it.
* * *
Department Of At Least They Didn’t Start A Forest Fire
“A 26-year-old Michigan man died on Saturday after he was hit with shrapnel from ‘a small cannon type device’ that exploded when….”
This is how the news article began. What words, would you think, could possibly complete the article’s lead sentence?
“… it was fired in celebration at a baby shower….
Because celebrating babies and pregnancy and impending parenthood – one immediately thinks: Ah, yes: armaments!
“A cannon type device.” As in, a cannon? It was a friggin’ baby shower; it was not a Civil War reenactment, nor battle enactment of any kind…although – WARNING: BAD PREGNANCY PUN AHEAD – many a woman in her ninth month of gestation has felt like she is personally fighting the Battle of the Bulge.
The story continues:
“The man, Evan Thomas Silva, a guest at the party, was about 10 to 15 feet from the device when it blew up in the backyard of a home. Metal shrapnel hit Mr. Silva, three parked cars and the garage where the shower was being held, the police said….. The night Mr. Silva died, he was among the guests…attending a baby shower — not a gender reveal party….” ( “Celebratory Cannon Salute at Baby Shower Ends in Death,” NY Times 2-7-21
Interesting that the article took pains to mention that this was *not* a gender reveal party, as per the idiotic trend in which celebratory pyrotechnics employed by excited parents-to-be inadvertently yet efficiently caused *more than one* wildfire in the past year (a trend which yours truly had mocked in a previous post).
Attention, expectant parents: stop this. Right now. Stop throwing such events for yourselves and stop attending them in your “honor.” Your friends and family will thank you: no matter what they are saying to your face, under your nose and behind your back they are embarrassed and appalled that you apparently find the fact of *your* impending parenthood – an event so ordinary that it happens worldwide, 385,000 times PER DAY – to be so special that it is the cause for the type of celebration usually reserved for a nation’s liberation from a dictator or the opening of yet another Disney theme park.
Have a party if you want to, of course! Keep it simple – those kind of celebrations are remembered most fondly, and are less stressful to plan *and* attend. Do the potluck thing, play music and silly games.  But have some perspective, puuuuuhhhhllleeeaassee. NO cannons, no fireworks – nothing which intentionally or otherwise explodes… with the exception of your Uncle Beauford’s mouth (and other orifices) after his third helping of your elderly neighbor’s double-chili-bean-cabbage-beer-garlic casserole.
“We’re so excited about baby’s first artillery!
* * *
Department Of What To Serve At Your Baby Shower Sup-Department Of Maybe Reconsider The Chicken Wings
Selective breeding by agricultural scientists for larger overall size and enormous breasts – the white meat consumers prefer – has produced “exploding chickens” that put on weight at a monstrous clip….The journal Poultry Science once calculated that if humans grew at the same rate as these chickens, a 2-month-old baby would weigh 660 pounds…. The chickens’ legs, unable to support the weight of their out-of-proportion bodies, often splay or collapse, making some chickens topple onto their backs (and then they cannot right themselves) and others collapse onto their bellies, where they lie in mounds of feces and suffer bloody rashes called ammonia burns – the poultry version of bed sores.
* * *
* * *
Department Of Memory Sparking
The film class moiself had in college: I hadn’t thought of it, nor of the class’s professor, in years. Now, twice in the past two months both have come to mind (and thus, to this blog).
The first time was two months ago, during the brouhaha manufactured by a Wall Street Journal columnist who chided Jill Biden, who holds a Ph.D. in education, for using her professional credentials. I’d remembered how I’d gotten a kick out of how Robert Miller, my film class’s professor,  made his point as to how he wished to be addressed. Miller, who had a Ph.D. in literature, introduced himself as “Professor Miller.” When a student speaking in class prefaced their remarks with, “Dr. Miller…” Miller would interrupt with, “Yes, nurse?”
The second time was last week, when I was listening to a recent Fresh Airinterview with former writer  and current professional observationist Fran Leibovitz. Leibovitz was promoting a new Netflix docuseries, “Pretend It’s a City,” in which the series’ director (Leibovitz’s longtime friend, Martin Scorsese) talks with Leibovitz about…well, about Leibovitz, and whatever Leibovitz thinks about any and every thing she thinks about. 
In the Fresh Air interview Leibovitz talked about her “career” background. Before enjoying her fifteen minutes of fame as a writer in the 1970s  Leibovitz held a series of menial/odd jobs. She claims she took housecleaning jobs and drove a taxi because, “I don’t have any skills. I didn’t know how to do anything else.”
“I also didn’t want to do the job that most of my friends did, which was wait tables, because I didn’t want to have to be nice to men to get tips or to sleep with the manager of my shift, which was a common requirement then for being a waitress in New York.”
My film professor, who was a writer as well as a teacher, didn’t (to my knowledge) require any of his students to sleep with him – that’s not why this memory was sparked. He *did* do something which I thought was an abuse of power, although at that time I hadn’t the emotional or intellectual context to frame it as such, given its complexity.
One afternoon in class the topic was screenplay adaptation. As an example of how you would turn a literary story into a cinematic one, Professor Miller announced that our next assignment, due the following week, would be to write up a proposal for adapting a piece of short fiction he would give to us. We’ll spend the rest of the class time discussing the assignment, Professor Miller said. He began passing out photocopies of – I stifled a gasp when I read the byline – a short story *he* had written.
I remember thinking, “Uh, this a good idea? HELL NO.”
Would any student dare say, “This story is not adaptable,” or, “There’s no way I would want to adapt this even if I thought I could because I just don’t like it.…” or express any other critique, from mild to scathing, knowing that it is the professor’s own work?
I tried to stifle my instinctive, lip-curling expression as I read the story, which was a Mailer-Hemingwayesque male fantasy, about a backpacking trip taken by an Older Man ® (an artist-teacher of some kind) and the Much Younger Woman ® he is mentoring and – surprise! – fucking dating. Meanwhile, Professor Miller read aloud from the story’s campfire scene, a scene which, he told the class, would be particularly visually appealing for a screenwriter (the following is my summation of the scene):
OM and MYW are sitting around their campfire, their conversation terse and tense. There is a sense of growing strain between them for a variety of reasons, including the status of their relationship, and signs of bear activity in the vicinity. When MYW excuses herself (presumably to go behind the tent to take a pee break), OM ruminates about how their relationship will likely be coming to an end, as he is older, more educated and world-wise, and she is…well…she is what she is (young and beautiful).
MYW returns, tossing an item into the campfire as she sits down; OM sees a tampon briefly blaze before the flames incinerate it. He begins to panic….
Already feeling nauseated by the retch-worthy cliché of the older male teacher/younger female student predatory romantic relationship scenario, I had another thought that made me want to puke in class: he’s not going to incorporate the macho woodsymyth about bears being attracted to menstruating women in his story, is he?
OM starts asking MYW about why she didn’t tell him she was having her menstrual period – they’re in bear country, FFS! That explains his feeling that a bear has been stalking them. Now, they are in danger….
Several students (all male) took turns praising the scene and shared their ideas as to how they would script it. I remember Professor Miller looking at me several times, as if he expected my feedback – me, who remained silent, despite usually speaking up in class discussions; me, the one student (or so the professor told me a week earlier, when he’d returned an assignment of mine  ) whom he allowed to turn any assignment into a prose-writing opportunity. 
I remember looking around at the class, paying particular attention to the expressions on the other female student’s faces, and having a click-worthy moment of realization:
Oh, so *this* is how women learn to fake orgasms.
Up until that moment, the class as a whole had had little problem tearing into films we had been told were “classics” but which one or more of us found poorly made, reductive, or just plain boring. But for this assignment, what choice did we have, other than to act as if we liked the story? He was our professor; it was his story. We had to pretend to like or at least approve of it in order for us to succeed in that situation.
Somewhere near the end of class time moiself raised my hand and asked if we had other options for the assignment – for example, adapting works of…other authors. I remember phrasing my question as delicately as I could, and squeezing in some (faux) compliments of his story, compliments which were bland enough that I didn’t hate myself for wimping out on what I wanted to do, which was to object to the inherent hubris of him assigning his own story. Fortunately for me, several of the professor’s suck-ups acolytes weighed in on the subject, and my tacit criticism of his self-indulgent ego trip of an assignment didn’t seem to register (or at least not for long, as I got an A in the class).
* * *
Department Of Sometimes I Miss The Good Old Days Of Censorship
“When I’m good, I’m very good, but when I’m bad, I’m better. ”
“I’ll try anything once, twice if I like it, three times to make sure.”
― Mae West
The Good Old Days ® of any kind were usually not-that-good, just old. I am not condoning censorship; continuing with this post’s cinematic theme, I am remember the day in my film class where we learned about the Hays Code, aka the Motion Picture Production Code. The Hays Code was used, for almost four decades, by film studios to require that their pictures be “wholesome” and “moral” and free from a list of no-nos (e.g. nudity, overt violence, sexually suggestive dances, discussions of sexual perversity, characters which engendered sympathy for criminals, unnecessary use of liquor, making fun of religion, interracial relationships, “lustful kissing,” ridicule of law and order….)
A lively class discussion about the Hays Code ensued. Several students, and the professor, gave reasons for favoring some kind of code or guidelines (although not outright censorship), due to the artistic ingenuity such guidelines inevitably inspired.
This idea that “guidelines up the game” is one which crosses artistic genres. I recall experiencing a joy I don’t think can be replicated today, when I realized that 13-year-old moiself “got” The Kinks’ song, Lola, and my parents  and the radio censors didn’t. Presently, pop vocalists can call for the execution of people they don’t like, can call each other obscene and racist epithets, can brag about the…uh, humidity level of their intimate parts…. There are few if any lines to subversively read between.
A fun factoid about “Lola” is that the word “Coca-Cola” in the original recording had to be changed ( ♫ “I met her in a bar down in old Soho where you drink champagne and it takes just like Coca-Cola…” ♫ ). Singer Ray Davies dubbed in “cherry cola” for the song’s release, due to the BBC Radio’s policy against product placement.
Son K and I had an interesting IM session about the subject of censorship when, apropos of what-I-cannot-now recall, K came across some info about the Parents Music Resource Center, asked me some questions, and began searching for and then watching videos of the PMRC’s congressional hearing.
[ The PMRC, as some of y’all may recall, was an American governmental “advisory committee” formed in the 1980s which sought to increase parental control over children’s access to music with violent, sexual, and drug-related themes. The PMRC lobbied the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) to develop a music labeling system, ala the MPAA’s film rating system. Because the PMRC was founded by four women whose husbands had political connections (including Tipper Gore, married to Senator and later Vice President Al Gore) the group was sometimes derisively and dismissively referred to as “The Washington Wives.” ]
K: man so reading about the PMRC. what was tipper gore’s problem
Moiself: What made you read about the PMRC? Some say Tipper Gore was looking for a “cause,; others, including herself and her husband, say she was a concerned parent who became shocked when she listened to the lyrics of one of her daughter’s favorite songs…and then started acquainting herself with other lyrics to popular music. I think it’s probably a combination of both motivations. The PMRC was actually a milder version of other parental groups at the time which were calling for censorship – the PMRC wanted parental warning labels as to content….
I gave K a brief history lesson: at that time, many kids didn’t buy their own records – their parents or grandparents did. As a parent and “consumer,” I wouldn’t want to spend my money on songs that used racial epithets or promoted homophobic or misogynistic viewpoints to my kids. And in the ’80s lyrics were getting really explicit, which made me actually wish for the days of radio content restrictions…because then singers and songwriters had to be clever. It was so much fun when, ala my “Lola” reference, you knew something was slipped by the sensors – you caught a reference that even the supposedly hip radio programming directors, as well as your own parents, didn’t “get.”
K: just looking through it, (the PMRC hearings) all comes across to me as one of those bullshit moral crusades. a need to either feel self superior, or a need to control anything that doesn’t appeal to X person’s personal tastes, or both. it just reminded me of a milder version of McCarthyist witch hunting. demonizing something for political gain
Moiself: Yes, but the latter is a proven technique.
Later on, in an in-person dialogue, I shared with K my opinion that any form of guideline or structure-free art risks…well, think of the criticism of free verse poetry as playing tennis with the net down. I’m not lauding censorship per se, but, to reiterate, IMHO guidelines can actually make people more creative – or sneaky, which has a strong element of creativity to it. Because when you can’t just come out and say Certain Things ® you have to be subtle and sly, employing cheeky imagery and evocative dialogue. You have to be more poetic, in a way.
A movie critic once asked the late great writer/screenwriter/director Nora Ephron if Ephron agreed with the critic’s observation that there seemed to have been stronger roles for women actors, and better plots and dialog, in the earlier days of cinema. Ephron agreed, and lamented contemporary movies’ lack of witty dialogue and snappy repartee – and distinctive, self-assured female characters – which were found in the movies of the 30s and 40s and even 50s. Beginning in the late 60s, along came the “New Cinema” movement, which emphasized so-called gritty realism. You no longer had to employ clever camera angles and witty, double-entendre laden repartee – now you can just show (instead of imply) a graphic murder, have the protagonists jump into bed together (which had the effect of valuing, defining – and casting – female actors as per their sexual appeal)…and then what?
In an atmosphere where nothing is considered to be off-limits, you will never have the delightful shock value of experiencing, say, the judicious use of “strong” language. I fondly recall my mother telling me about her most memorable movie experience, when as a child she saw Gone With The Wind. She said she’d never forget how she was both scandalized and thrilled – and how “the entire theater gasped” – when Rhett Butler delivered his infamous parting line:
* * *
Pun(z) For The Day
Moiself: Did you hear about that actress, Reese, who just stabbed a guy to death? Innocent bystander: Witherspoon? Moiself: No, she used her knife.
Q. How does award-winning actor Reese eat her Cheerios?
I suppose I have to be a good sport about this.
* * *
May you shun any event mixing pyrotechnics and babies; May you neither actively nor passively contribute to “exploding chickens;” May you challenge yourself to both follow and subvert the guidelines; …and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 Of course, have these events safely, distanced/outdoors, and masked until this damn COVID-19 thing peters out …do I really need to say this? Apparently.
 Leibovitz has famously suffered from writer’s block for years, and now seems to get by with having people pay to listen to her talk about the things she used to write about. Not a criticism – she has a keen, sardonic eye, and is quite witty. I have enjoyed the series, so far (haven’t as of this writing finished listening to all episodes).
 I’m not sure if “observationist” is a thing, but Leibovitz seems to be making a living from it.
 Which centers around her technophobic life in New York city; specifically, Manhattan.
 Using her satirical, NYC-centered wit, she opined on American life in two best-selling collections of essays, Metropolitan Life and Social Studies.
 After class I found a couple of Wildlife Fisheries Biology majors who confirmed that was a myth. Even so, it was a myth that got a lot of traction, and it wasn’t until in the 1980s and ’90s that biologists did studies proving that bears – or sharks – are no more attracted to menstruating women than to any other kind of human.
 storyboarding a dada-esque, vignette-style commercial for the soft drink, 7-Up, which he graded A+.
 We’d had and would continue to have various projects over the quarter, from “making” a short films or advertisements or animation. I’d no interest in filming anything or doing animation, and always chose to interpret “making” as doing the screenplay, storyboarding and/or writing portion of the project.
 When my friend’s très conservative mother was singing along to “Lola” on the radio while was driving us to the beach, I somehow resisted the urge to ask if she knew she was enjoying an ode to a naïve young man’s romance with a transvestite.
Noteworthy science podcast anecdotes; musings on how we understand, use (and misuse) the term “educated;” wondering how and why some people can believe in the efficacy of intercessory prayer; a bad pun or two; the last Partridge of the Week, etc. I don’t know if the subjects I had planned to address in today’s post were more profound, but they were certainly more fun, than…this.
“It is my considered judgment that my oath to support and defend the Constitution constrains me from claiming unilateral authority to determine which electoral votes should be counted and which should not.” (Vice President Mike Pence, 1-6-21, in a letter to members of Congress. From “Pence defies Trump, says he can’t reject electoral votes,” apnews.com )
“Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done….” ( #45‘s tweet, after Vice President Mike Pence acknowledged he does not have the power to throw out electoral votes )
* * *
Someone needs to be shot for insurrection.
If #45 had the cojones he accused Pence of lacking, he‘d call a press conference, resign, then blow hisbrains out  on live television. He‘d get the “biggliest ratings, ever!” which is and always has been hisultimate concern.
* * *
“Prevoskhodno! This is all going according to plan.”
* * *
How many times did I read or hear, during the last four years,
“Yeah, I know he (#45) is a dick a horrible person as a person, but I’m voting for him because of ______ (conservative policy).”
As friend MM so succinctly put it,
“Everyone who voted for Trump for tax cuts and judges, you own this.”
* * *
What was it that the anti-Vietnam war protestors chanted as they were beaten by Chicago police in 1968?
“The whole world is watching.”
And they were. And we are.
* * *
Department Of Get HimOut, Now. How Can You Not?
Congress: Impeach. Invoke the 25th amendment – #45is clearly “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”  Get the SCOTUS to lead a squad of Capitol Police to arrest him. Whatever it takes.
Please, no cries of, “But we only have to hang on another two weeks, for the good of the country…”
For the good of the country, he needs to go. Would *anyone else* who had fomented a riot – committed sedition – *not* be held accountable?
For the good of the country, his legacy, as MH put it, “needs to be appropriate.”
For the good of the country, we cannot let strongman hooliganism subvert or even delay our democratic processes.
For the good of the country, we need to show the world – we need to show ourselves – that we have not become another anarchic banana republic our laws and ideals have actual meaning.
And, if heis allowed to just…leave, do you really want any portion of your tax dollars to go to hispresidential pension? $219,000 a year, for the rest of hisdeplorable life, living among whatever other deplorables can stand to abide with him? 
“A Russian dacha or a North Korean apartment – your choice, Comrade.”
* * *
May we get the kind of honest, decent, compassionate leadership we need; May you-know-who finally get what hedeserves; May circumstances allow moiself to return to “regular programming” next week; …and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 Not to worry; it’d be a small splatter, considering the target.
 Section 4, 25th Amendment to the US Constitution.
 There need to be more footnotes, but the only appropriate footnote regarding this deranged disaster of democracy is an unending torrent of FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKK !!!
As I’ve noted previously in this blog, moiself always serves some version of black-eyed peas (aka Hoppin’ John ) and greens for New Year’s Day dinner. These culinary creations are prepared in homage to my father’s family’s logic-defying adherence  to the tradition which told them that eating black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day assures good luck in the year to come.
Good thing I followed that tradition, eh? What a luckity-luck-lucky year it turned out to be!
* * *
Department Of Advising The Advisor
Moiself took it upon herself to email Amy Dickinson, who writes the syndicated advice column Ask Amy. My feedback was re Amy’s advice to a letter writer who was distressed about her cousins’ comments of victimhood re the 2020 election:
Dear Amy, Regarding the letter from “Text- challenged,” who was concerned that her conversations with her cousins were descending into their conservative political complaints, I must point out something about this comment of yours:
“…if you voted for the Democrat candidate in 2016, you might remember how it felt to be declared a citizen of Loserville, USA. You might have felt like a victim of some mysterious process.”
Actually, Amy, (in 2016) we all *were* victims of “some mysterious process.” It’s called The Electoral College, and this mysterious constitutional relic of slave state appeasement once again thwarted the will of the people by installing the *loser* of the popular vote as leader of our (alleged) democracy, transforming us all into citizens of Loserville.
(From the Pew Research Center: “Besides the U.S, the only other democracies that indirectly elect a leader who combines the roles of head of state and head of government (as the U.S. president does) are Botswana, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, Nauru, South Africa and Suriname.” ) Wishing you all the best in the new year, Just another citizen, Robyn Parnell
* * *
Department Of Partridge Of The Week
This week’s Partridge in our pear tree:
* * *
Department Of Just What The World Needs…
Is another moniker to describe How (as in, What) Someone Eats ®. Thus, moiself will happily supply that for y’all.
We got your paleo, vegan, keto, raw foods, juice, sugar-free, food combination, raw food paleo, tantrum-throwing-picky-toddler single-food diets….
Many if not most “diets” are just that – diets – as in something-to-go-“on” (and then off) when a certain weight or health goal is reached, instead of a sustainable, lifestyle and/or nutritional change. Because someone recently asked, I thought about the best (as in, most ear-friendly) way to describe my not-a-diet FCP (food consumption patterns).
For five-plus years now I’ve been largely (as in 95%+) plant-based, but not vegan  as I have fish once or twice a week. And although I avoid other dairy products I also consume some (a diminishing amount, but still there) cheese, for both personal addiction taste reasons, and also to keep moiself travel-friendly. 
Come back to the dark side. We’re waiting for you….
MH asked me, “Doesn’t the label pescatarian describe how we eat at home/the majority of the time?” Maybe; but I don’t care for that term.
I consider my eating and cooking choices to be adventuresome, investigative, horizon-expanding rather than limiting,  and science-based/planet-friendly. I want an affable term to reflect that. Hmm; vegetarian; plant-based; planet-friendly;  fish, aquarium….
Oh, Yeaeeaaah. This is perfect.
I am a planetarium.
Feel free to borrow/appropriate, with attribution.
Can you say,”She seems quite pleased with herself,” boys and girls? I knew you could.
* * *
Department Of Yeah What She Said
When it comes to commentary on American culture and politics, moiself often finds the musings of those who are on the outside looking in to be particularly incisive. As in this excerpt from the State of the Me blog post, by C.L. Hanson. Hanson, an engineer and expat American, describes her blog as “The Adventures of a Friendly French-American ExMormon Atheist Mom Living in Switzerland!!!” (my emphases):
“I’m happy that Trump will finally be leaving the White House. As I’ve said before, I don’t agree with the people who said that voting him out is the “right” way to get him out — he should have been impeached and convicted within the first year of his presidency. Whether the president is above the law is not a question that should be up for popular vote (or some weirdly-derived subset of the popular vote). If the US system can’t eject a president for constantly and openly breaking the law, then the system is broken. But this band-aid is better than nothing. The bare last line of defense has held firm against the deadly march of fascism — when there was no guarantee that it would. Hopefully this victory will help turn the tide and encourage the people to make serious changes and fix things for real.”
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Department Of Oh, Oh, How I Hate Hate Hate Having To Write This…
But, I have to. Because it’s bugging the ever-lovin’ sudoriferous secretions out of me. 
To start the new year, here are two things I look forward to seeing ended:
(1) This should go without saying: the termination of a certain administration (hint: this will take place on January 20)
(2) “Woke” and “Cancel” culture, which, IMO, is directly related to (1)…and my concern with it is tangentially related to the first entry in this post (as in, reading advice columns).
“…many Americans have come to believe that the only way to spur change is by ginning up anger. It isn’t enough to say your opponents are wrong. You have to say they are reprehensible….
So many tools of modern culture take ancient circuits in the brain and put them in hyperdrive…. We evolved to care about relationships, but social media has weaponized this, transforming personal connections into metrics of self-worth. Getting angry at (who we perceived to be) wrongdoers was helpful in our evolutionary past, but when people apply that same impulse today…what we get are doxing and death threats. Used recklessly or for self-promotion, outrage can poison the way we interact with each other. It can imprison us in our own echo chambers. ( excerpts from “Screaming Into The Void: How Outrage Is Hijacking Our Culture
And Our Minds,” Hidden Brain, 10-7-19 )
The Orwellian speak of #45’s administration reminds me of the opposite side of the same coin, which is groupthink, and “cancel” or “woke culture.” It seems I can’t spit (and I have tried) without hearing, from aggrieved persons or interest groups, cries of “hateful!” re someone who disagrees with them, and without citation of an actual, factual statement from that someone of hate. To list only two examples…
* a woman, having been sexually assaulted in a private/public room, articulates her concerns about any man being able to enter a women’s restroom if he claims to “identify as female”.  Her concerns are not addressed logically or compassionately; rather, she is shrieked at by trans activists, YOU’RE TRYING TO KILL US ALL!!
* People on “the left” seem to feel entitled to call someone who disagrees with them and/or their identity group, on a certain issue (even if they support other issues for that group) “hateful” and “evil.”
Moiself is reminded of #45’s kneejerk way of dealing with disagreements and critiques, particularly from women. He rarely attempts to refute the substance of the criticism (he’ll say it’s not valid, it’s fake news). Rather, he goes into attack mode, claiming that those women hate him because they are “nasty,” “evil,” “pathetic,” “sad”….
I’ve written of this – my concerns about and loathing of “cancel culture” and thought and language policing and their many variants  – severaltimes previously in this space. Here is the promised advice column link.
The write said that her youngest son loved the first Harry Potter book (read in class by his third grade teacher) and was asking her to read the remaining books with him. She’d read the entire HP series to her older two sons, who loved it. But now her oldest (trans) son asked her “…not to read the books to his younger brother and not to buy Harry Potter merchandise because it would feel to him that I was supporting J.K. Rowling’s horrible anti-trans comments.” The letter-writing mom is struggling with wanting to let her youngest “…enjoy the world of Harry Potter without supporting a bigot.”
DP‘s answer included a WTF ?!?! reference to the author of the Harry Potter series as an “artist who’s made transphobia a significant part of her career.”
I can’t help but wonder how the letter writer hear about Rowling’s alleged “horrible” comments – and did she even know of Rowling’s articulate, nuanced response to being slandered, or is she (and her oldest son) jumping on the Orwellian groupthink bandwagon? The DP columnist  didn’t correct the writer’s hyperbole and seems to agree with it. Although I (mostly) like the DP column I ‘ve noticed the groupthink tendency in DP‘s answers and assumptions. I’m not cancelling my on-line subscription – that would make me part of the cancel culture, right? But the stench of self-righteous piling-on lingers, and don’t know if I’ll be able to stomach reading DP column for a while.
Summary of the issue at hand, for those who’ve managed to remain blissfully ignorant of transphobia-hysteria: in December 2019 writer J.K. Rowling tweeted her support for a British woman who’d lost her job for posting so-called “transphobic” tweets. On 6 June, Rowling poked Twitter fun at the usage of the phrase “people who menstruate” – a phrase many people and writers (such as moiself ) find unnecessary, even bizarre, not to mention WTF, Saturday-Night-Live-skit-worthyawkwardness.
” ‘People who menstruate.’ I’m sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?”
I’m so glad Rowling beat me to it, because that would have been my first reaction. ROTFL.
Sexual dimorphism is a factual, biological phenomenon in mammalian species. There are a variety of opinions as to the diversity or spectrum of expression within that phenomenon itself and within our human, culture expressions of biology. Rowling and many others hold the opinion that being female is not just a “construct,” and now, such opinions are labeled by a vocal minority as “hate speech.” Many trans activists and their supporters called for Rowlings’ books to be burned, told Rowling she was “literally killing trans people with [her] hate,” called her a cunt and a bitch….
Rowling responded to the criticism with an essay which, apparently, most of her critics (including, I’d guess, the mother who wrote to DP and DP himself ) – did not bother to fully, open-mindedly and carefully read. Nowhere in the essay did I find sentiments I’d even remotely consider hateful or “horrible,” nor indicative of someone who’s “made transphobia a significant part of her career.” Rowling is a committed feminist with a personal history of experiencing misogyny, gender discrimination, and sexual abuse. She believes that most trans people are “vulnerable and deserve protection,” and she calmly and articulately explained her concerns with the “the consequences of the current trans activism”:
We’re living through the most misogynistic period I’ve experienced. Back in the 80s, I imagined that my future daughters, should I have any, would have it far better than I ever did, but between the backlash against feminism and a porn-saturated online culture, I believe things have got significantly worse for girls. Never have I seen women denigrated and dehumanised to the extent they are now. From the leader of the free world’s long history of sexual assault accusations and his proud boast of ‘grabbing them by the pussy’, to the incel (‘involuntarily celibate’) movement that rages against women who won’t give them sex, to the trans activists who declare that TERFs  need punching and re-educating, men across the political spectrum seem to agree: women are asking for trouble. Everywhere, women are being told to shut up and sit down, or else.
I’ve read all the arguments about femaleness not residing in the sexed body, and the assertions that biological women don’t have common experiences, and I find them, too, deeply misogynistic and regressive. It’s also clear that one of the objectives of denying the importance of sex is to erode what some seem to see as the cruelly segregationist idea of women having their own biological realities or – just as threatening – unifying realities that make them a cohesive political class….
….as many women have said before me, ‘woman’ is not a costume. ‘Woman’ is not an idea in a man’s head. ‘Woman’ is not a pink brain, a liking for Jimmy Choos or any of the other sexist ideas now somehow touted as progressive. Moreover, the ‘inclusive’ language that calls female people ‘menstruators’ and ‘people with vulvas’ strikes many women as dehumanising and demeaning. I understand why trans activists consider this language to be appropriate and kind, but for those of us who’ve had degrading slurs spat at us by violent men, it’s not neutral, it’s hostile and alienating.
This is a brief except from a 3,600 word essay. Read it in its entirety before forming an opinion; I realize it’s a bit longer than many kneejerk reactors are used to (if they don’t come across the corrext buzz words they are looking for in the first two paragraphs, bye bye). Maybe you agreed with all of it, some of it, none of it. What is your response if you truly (or think you ought to, because it’s the woke thing to do) disagree with Rowling – or anyone else, for that matter, on this issue or any other. Do you go from 0 to 120 in the blink of an eye? Is there nothing in between? Can you disagree with what someone says without conflating their opinions – or your interpretations of their opinions – with terms like “hateful” “horrible,” and twist her words into saying she calls for “literally killing” someone?
Rowling, on the record as supporting LGBTQ rights and people, envisioned one of the most beloved characters in literature, Professor Albus Dumbledoree, as gay . I find it both ironic and pathetic that the creator of the most famous and beloved world of witches and wizards is now herself the object of an ideological witch-hunt.
Those who jumped on the public chastisement bandwagon included actor Daniel Radcliffe, whom I took to task here. I in turn didn’t want to accuse Radcliffe of being “hateful” nor accuse him of trying to “kill” Rowling’s career…but perhaps I should have. As per our culture of outrage, no one will listen to you unless you go over the top.
“Harry Potter, you need to learn to think before you speak.”
Anyone from a bartender to a biologist who disagrees with the “woke” tenet re gender- that it exists in the mind/is primarily/only a social construct – will, sooner or later, be called transphobic. To disagree with someone is to “hate” them and what they say, and to label them as pathologically fearful.  You disagree with me on that? You hater, you…opposition-ophobe, you! And woe unto you if you make a simple, human error. If you absent-mindedly  call a trans-man by his birthname, even if you originally – as in, for forty frickin’ *years*- knew him as her, you are no longer a fallible friend who made a totally understandable slip of the tongue – you DEAD-named him, you transphobic bigot!
This issue is more than one of free speech and ideological and imaginational conformity (which, as a writer, I have great concerns about). This link directly to What Just Happened ® (in the past four years and the recent election), which we are still trying to figure out. Bear with me a bit longer as I make the point I earlier alluded to.
People stop talking with one another across party, ideological, and cultural “lines” if they know or fear that others are going to pay more attention to *how* they say something rather than *what* they are saying. In particular, folks who are not hateful and/or ignorant fools, but who
(1) don’t consider themselves deftly articulate or skilled in written expression, and thus (2) worry that they won’t use the “correct” jargon or terminology
fear being misunderstood, and are prone to withdrawing from dialogue with those who hold differing opinions.
Someone can disagree with you on an aspect of what you consider to be your most important or even defining cause, without rejecting your entire cause. That Someone can be an ally, can still be “on your side” – unless blindered, politico-speak conformity is your price for alliance, in which case you’ll end up driving allies away, or underground. Then, hey – good luck dealing with the vocal opposition, who are as firm in the self-righteousness of their position as you seem to be of yours.
This is not just a matter of agreeing or disagreeing with a successful author who has social media followers. The vitriol directed against Rowling is directly related to disturbing social phenomena which have political and cultural ramifications for us all – phenomena that give us headlines like the following, which too many left-leaning/”progressive” Americans either ignored or misunderstood, in their post-election head-scratching:
Although the election pollsters were mostly accurate about Trump’s impending defeat, Democrats lost ground in other important areas, which took pollsters by surprise. How could they have been so wrong about that? Several studies and theories point to the idea that although most folks, even conservatives, agreed that #45 had to go, people on all sides of all aisles are becoming more and more concerned with cancel culture, and they blame the Democrats/The Left for that (or for being the *least* willing to call it out). And because of cancel culture, people didn’t answer truthfully to pollsters (or even to their own family and friends) about their concerns, lest they be called evil, ___- o-phobes, and haters.
“Differences of opinion no longer are defined by one’s approach or framing of an issue, but rather by the person who holds a contrary position as being evil…. Comedy, one would think, should be exempt from restrictions on speech, but it is not. Chris Rock stated… ‘I stopped playing colleges (because of) … their social views and their willingness not to offend anybody. You can’t even be offensive on your way to being inoffensive.’
Free speech in America is on the ballot for many Americans who see an intellectual orthodoxy rapidly developing….They fear that zealots have been permitted to gain power to banish anyone who questions or denies progressive beliefs or policies….
Pew Research found that “majorities in both major parties believe censorship is likely occurring (on social media.)” …. On Nov. 3, these beliefs may motivate a new voting bloc to cast their votes for the candidate who stands up to cancel culture.” ( “Cancel culture’ may spawn a new, silent voting bloc,” The Hill )
“…the mythical “blue wave” fizzled out into a splash long before the first ballot was even cast. While President-Elect Biden won with a sizable lead in both the electoral and popular votes, the Democratic Party barely held its own in the Senate and the House….and Republicans may be on track to win back the House in 2022.
If Democrats truly want to emerge mightily victorious in the future, they must analyze why over 73 million people voted against them and their party. The analysis must be a brutally honest one for it to have any merit,and conclusions such as the opposition being ‘racists’ or ‘fascists’ are lazy responses which fail to examine the failures of the Democratic Party to reach out to millions of Americans.
… Bill Maher — a vocal Democrat — (stated) that the biggest enemy to liberals is themselves…that the woke culture which has permeated both the personal and professional world is halting the Democrat’s chances at flipping right-leaning voters.
Maher’s analysis could not be more astute. Phenomenon such as…’woke’ culture are the very thing which created the political atmosphere in which a person like Donald Trump could thrive and rally supporters. Democrats created their own monster in this regard. While President Trump may be in office for only a few short months, the angst which propelled his political support is here to stay.
… many (on the Left) subscribe to the belief that ‘if you don’t agree with me, you’re a racist and a bigot and your career should be destroyed.’ …Fear has gripped many, as they struggle to articulate their thoughts, frightened if they may be the next ones to be ‘cancelled.’ “
You really want to equate JK Rowling to this?
* * *
* * *
Pun For The Day
I was disappointed by the organizers of the New Year’s Eve celebration at Times Square.
Once again, they dropped the ball.
But wait – there’s more!
Did y’all here about the guy in England who assaulted a dozen people with a miniature replica of Big Ben on New Year’s Eve? He couldn’t wait for the clock to strike twelve.
Someone has to end this, and soon.
* * *
May the hyperbole of “woke” culture take a well-needed nap; May the new year be filled with new hope and old (but still loved) puns; May 2021 be better than…oh, you know; …and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 They were dirt poor sharecroppers tenant farmers. That good-luck-meal thing failed, year after year.
 Although when dining out – y’all remember that thing we used to do, way back in 2019? – I will ask for vegan items, to get the point across to restaurant staff that, for example, I don’t want the “vegetable” soup if it’s made with beef broth.
 It’s becoming easier to have plant-based options when traveling, but in many cultures and foreign countries – e.g., Arkansas – it can be difficult: the ideas and imaginations of some folks, when it comes to vegetarian/vegan foods, is remove the “meat” and add cheese and voila, it’s a veggie entrée! Also, I want to be a good visitor and not reject *everything* the host/local cuisine offers.
 Plant-based is not so much about out cutting meat, milk, and eggs —it’s about crowding them out with the amazing variety of fruits and veggies and nuts and legumes and grains that there are out there, many of which get overlooked when the centerpiece of the meal is a big hunk of flesh, accompanied by the usual side veggie suspects.
 Whaddya think, should I have just written, “sweat“?
 When daughter Belle was working closing shifts at a restaurant, and a lawyer friend of mine who was working for a law firm specializing in sexual assault cases found out that Belle’s duties included cleaning the restrooms, she warned Belle about never closing the doors and being very careful to watch her back, because of the number of cases she’d seen where a male waited until a female co-worker was alone in a restroom to assault her.
 Which include literary censorship (“write what you know” which equals “write what you are”) and “cultural appropriation.”
Moiself is torn between Sayit ain’t soand Good riddance. 
* * *
Department Of Partridge Of The Week
This week’s Partridge in our pear tree:
* * *
Department of Who Is This “We” Who Were Thinking This?
A recent podcast of Curiosity Daily, “Early Female Hunters Were More Common Than We Thought,” features a story on recent archaeological findings which have changed the assumptions scientists made about hunters of the early Americas. It turns out that female hunters were “…more common than we thought,” yet another discovery indicating that anthropological and archaeological interpretation of the lives and behavior patterns of early peoples have been interpreted through contemporary (read: patriarchal and male dominance) lenses.
Episode summary: anthropologists have long taught that life in hunter-gather societies was fairly unambiguous: the tribe’s strong, brave men hunted the animals and the patient, passive women gathered berries and roots and other necessities. Recent archeological finds showed that the man-equals-hunter hypothesis was off the mark. The archaeological find of a female hunter buried with her hunting accoutrements was “so unexpected” (by male archeologists) that researchers decided to cast a wide net and see if this finding was a “one-off,” or if there might be evidence of other female hunters in graves that had already been excavated and cataloged.
Researchers looked at records of burial sites in North and South American which were more than 7000 years old. A small percentage of those sites were found with artifacts which suggests that the graves/tombs belonged to hunters, and of that group, more than 40% were female. That was a surprise – to the researchers, but not to the “…ton of indigenous communities which already knew this.”
The fact that both the Greek and Roman gods of the hunt were female (Artemis and Diana, respectively) never gave researchers a clue?
The bigger, or perhaps ultimate story here, IMHO, involves, as the podcast host put it:
“…what counts as knowledge, or *whose* knowledge counts as ‘real’ knowledge? These findings are a big deal to the western scientists and archeologists who have been wrong about this, for centuries. The researchers point to a couple of reasons for this big mistake. One might be that men *seem* to do most of the hunting in contemporary hunter-gatherer societies, which may have led archaeologists to assume that this was always the case. They also point out that many researchers’ interpretations may have been colored by their own preconceived notions about males and females and the division of labor.”
Researchers and scientists have preconceived notions about males and females? Shocking.
* * *
Department Of Little Things I Missed This Year
The big picture of pandemic and worldwide economic upheaval, along with the twin holyshitrevelations of how many of our citizens are clueless (and/or in denial) re the realities of science and of our history of systemic racism, is enough to boggle any mind and frost any fanny.
Moiself, of course, wants all of these problems solved – or at the very least, acknowledged. No, mere acknowledgement won’t do. I want it all fixed. And more.
On a personal scale, I look forward to regaining some simple pleasures.
I want to be able to hug people. I want to laugh uproariously (not from more than 6 feet apart, or behind a mask, or via a computer monitor) at someone’s outrageously great (or stupendously lame) joke, while nudging their arm in appreciation.
I want to watch a movie in a theatre, and turn to the side (or glance behind me) to catch the eyes of fellow movie-goers, strangers in the dark, laughing and gasping together, united briefly by our mutual, “Can you believe that ?!?!?” reactions to what we have just seen onscreen.
I even miss having the opportunity to “Shhhhh!” people.
I’d like to greet fellow hikers on a trail without crawling up the hillside to give them enough space to safely pass by.
In February I bought some nice clothes.  I’d like to have somewhere and/or some occasion – other than a funeral – to wear them.
Considering what so many people have had to deal with during this dumpster fire of a year, these are small grievances, I realize.
Department Of Things I Am Thankful For: Friends Like SDH, Who Persist
This past year, and particularly before/during/after the election, my offspring and moiself had some interesting IM discussions triggered by all of us having come across certain social media postings. These postings led my offspring to voice their despair when they saw friends and relatives falling down the rabbit holes – i.e., either personally expressing conspiratorial/anti-science sentiments or posting links which indicated they agreed with such views.
“Leave them alone/they aren’t really listening anyway/nothing you can say will be helpful/don’t get dragged down to that level by even engaging….”
I know these and other arguments for maintain a modicum of sanity: DO NOT RESPOND.
I also know that if everyone else refuses to engage with such people re such matters, then the only voices they will hear are of those fellow inhabitants of the rabbit holes. And I also also *also* know personally, and have read about, other folks who have escaped from rabbit-hole viewpoints. These escapees attribute their being able to attain emotional and intellectual freedom to the patient, persistent, rational voices of a friend or family member – voices they discounted or even mocked at the time, yet which kept returning to them, and eventually got them to thinking,
“Wait a minute, how do I *really* know what I think I know?”
“Why am I trusting those sources, and not these?”
“Who benefits from me believing what I believe,
and who stands to lose – and lose what? – If I change my mind?”
I have pretty much given up on people who think doctors and researchers and scientists are lying to them but somehow find trustworthy the bullying rhetoric of a documented, serial liar/reality TV show host. Meanwhile, those who study human behavior tell us it’s rare for someone to change a deeply held opinion. That’s probably spot-on; still, I struggle with my responsibilities as a Good Citizen ® to countermand the crap that’s out there, particularly because moiself has changed my mind on many issues over the years. These changes were due to moiself encountering new or obtaining additional information on the issues at hand – and never, to my recollection, because someone insulted me or told me that my opinions were crap.
People rarely change their minds because someone calls them stupid or ignorant. A calm, persistent interest in their opinions, a respectful questioning of how their opinions were formed and where they get their “facts,” seems to be the only thing that “works,” even if the odds seem to be against that (or any) approach.
Thus, here’s to those who persist, despite the odds.
Over the years I have watched many such tenacious souls in action, both in person and via the one social media site I frequent. SDH in particular, whom I have known since junior high school journalism days, is quite amazing. He is a long-time professional journalist, and the investigative, analytical, and *people* skills he has honed over the years have served him, his profession, and our society,  quite well.
It’s not that SDH calls people out on their bullshit, it’s that, like the savvy reporter he is, he hangs in there. He will not be misdirected; he patiently and persistently asks questions (Where did you get that? What are your sources?) while deftly deflecting ad hominem attacks. He responds with facts, facts, and more facts – always trying to bring the argument back to reality.
I haven’t the stomach for it; I “lurk” on the sidelines, reading with awe as SDH takes on cretinous blathering face-palming misinformation spewing, often from friends/acquaintances/family – people he has known for decades.  I admire this quality of SDH’s more than I can say, but since I’m a lousy artist (stick figures dancing in exultation is likely the best tribute I could draw), the “saying” will have to do.
And in the “saying,” I’m going to out him. It is my policy in this blog to initialize or alias-ize the names of non-public people, but as a journalist, with decades of bylines, SDH is already out there…. Besides, I want him to bask in his well-deserved glory:
Scott Duke Harris, A Purple Tortilla Chip Of Exclamation & Appreciation ® is for you.
* * *
Pun For The Day
Not to brag, but I already have a date for New Year’s Eve. It’s December 31st.
May you not need an archaeological find to make you examine your preconceived notions; May 2021 bring a return to your favorite, simple pleasures; May we all persist, despite the odds; …and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 The latter sentiment would refer to 2020, not my blog.
 Perspective check: “nice” as in relative to moiself’swardrobe. In other words, not tee-shirts or tie-dye.
 Absentee ballots, vote by mail – we’ll count them all!
Department Of There’s Always A Silver Lining (But Sometimes It Smells Like Rotten Eggs)
For long-married couples, the hardships of this year have given us an opportunity to reframe some…uh, activities. For example, a certain husband has been known to try to “sneak one” past his wife, and when she catches him  he tells her that in his ever-vigilant concern for her well-being he is merely giving her a daily hearing test, since it is a well-known fact that high frequency hearing loss accelerates with age.
Thanks to the viral vagaries of the past nine months. loving spouses can now also “test” one another for a more important concern. When your sweet baboo wrinkles his or her nose and grumblingly wonders aloud why you didn’t at least have the decency to leave the room to let one rip after your two-can Trader Joe’s limburger chili lunch, you can reply,
“My darling, I was merely administering to you, within the privacy and comfort of our home, a vital health test: the experts tell us that, in a person without any other symptoms, a sudden appearance of asomnia – loss of the sense of smell – is one of the earliest signs of COVID-19.”
“I heard that….”
* * *
Department Of Yet Another Thing I Was Told I Would Like…
And Looked Forward To Liking…
But Then I Didn’t
That would be the much-acclaimed HBO series, Big Little Lies. MH and I made it to episode four of the first season, and… Sorry. Moiself simply doesn’t wanna spend any more time around those characters.
If you are a fan of the BLL series, kindly restrain your knee-jerk reaction to channel your Literature Appreciation 101 professor in my direction. Yep, I totally get that unpleasant characters – in protagonist, antagonist, and supporting roles alike – can be vital components of compelling storylines. Duh, *fiction writer* here! For example: who is a sympathetic and/or likeable character in Macbeth?
But, sorry – BLL is no Macbeth.
And, the sex scenes…
“Like, I *know*….
BLL uses what I call the “movie sex” presentation, which I find ridiculous/boring:
* candle- or otherwise gauzily-lit locales
*nothing resembling safe sex being practiced
* unrealistic body presentation (read: the men can be flabsters but the women always look like models )
* smoldering looks passing for foreplay, yet both the men and women reach wall-pounding orgasms within two minutes
* and what’s with all the up-against-the-wall-pounding?
But my main objection to BLL’s sex scenes is the violence. Having worked in my past life  with victims of sexual violence, I don’t find violent, aggressive, “rough” and/or “merely coercive” sex to be entertaining, even when it’s excused justified as “necessary to portray the dysfunctional dynamic of the relationship.”
Sure, there’s great acting from all cast members, but so far, BLL is not moiself’s cup of strychnine tea. In time I may return to finish the series, but at this point not even the curiosity of finding out which character gets murdered  can compel me to stay with it.
* * *
Department Of Will There Ever Be A Vaccine For Flagrant Asininity?
“Coronavirus could be ‘under control’ in weeks if everyone wore masks,
CDC director says.”
(Washington Post, 7-14-20 )
“…the near-universal scientific consensus that, more than any of single action short of everyone entering solitary confinement, face coverings can prevent the transmission of the coronavirus that causes Covid-19….
The benefits of masking in reducing viral transmission are clear…. In an analysis of 194 countries, those that did not recommend face masks saw Covid-19 mortality increase 54% every week after the first case appeared; in countries with masking policies, the weekly increase was only 8%.” (“If everyone wore a mask, Covid-19 could be brought under control, CDC director urges,” statnews.com 7-14-20 )
Dateline: earlier this week. MH directed my attention to a Facebook post: a kinfolk of ours posted a “group selfie” picture with three other people, all smiling into the cellphone camera, their unmasked faces close together. As reported in the post, these folks were in a bar, celebrating a friend’s birthday with, among other activities, “karaoke singing.”
Yep. All that, plus karaoke singing.
“…singers…generate respiratory aerosols at high rates. In other words, they spew a lot of droplets into the air when they warble or blow.…. A professor explains the physics: ‘You have the air that’s coming out on your respiratory tube, your mouth, and your nose, and there’s liquid lining all of your respiratory system. …And when the air is going very quickly, (the force with which singers expel air) it can basically grab a little bit of that material and put it in a particle, and then you expel it out into the air….
anything that makes the air go faster or more strongly or produce more air is putting out more respiratory particles.
If you’re singing, you’re breathing in a lot of air, you’re breathing out very forcefully, and you’re also moving your vocal cords. The vocal cords are wet, they’re covered in this fluid, they’re vibrating, and that can also produce more particles.” As a result…group singing remains “extremely dangerous and irresponsible,” (the professor stated), pointing out numerous other super-spreading incidents among choruses worldwide.” ( ” Singers Can Be Coronavirus Superspreaders, Say Experts …” npr.org, 8-16-20 )
“…the more responsibly you’d choose to behave…ya think?
Yeah, right. Welcome to the USA.
“For months, public health officials have been warning about the dangers of going to bars: They’re indoor spaces, they frequently have poor air circulation, and after a few drinks, people tend to lean in close during conversations or put their arms around their besties, all while forgetting to wear their masks….
But if bars are dangerous during a pandemic, karaoke is even worse, regardless of what form it takes…. A fun way to spend a night on the town has become a raging cocktail of everything epidemiologists tell us to avoid: Gathering in groups, passing around a microphone that’s potentially covered in virus-covered respiratory droplets, and most of all, singing.
The dangers of singing in public were laid bare in March at a church choir practice in Skagit, Wash. Only one of the 61 attendees at the two-hour rehearsal was known to be symptomatic, but 53 would end up testing positive for the coronavirus, and two members died. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that the act of singing “might have contributed to transmission through emission of aerosols, which is affected by loudness of vocalization.” ( “Karaoke is a health risk during a pandemic.” Washington Post, 8-17-20
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Department Of Damn Damn Damn Damn Damn!
Don’t you hate it when someone whom you otherwise admire –
say, a writer known for her empathetic take on complicated cultural and political topics (e.g., sexual violence, family relationships, race, privilege) using both a broad and personal lens, who is capable of recognizing the opinions of others while persuasively articulating her own –
says something which makes you realize that there is at least one  part of her brain wherein her subconscious spends way too much time staring at a frozen orange juice container because it says, “concentrate”?
Dateline: Wednesday am, beginning to listen to Tig Notaro’s “Don’t Ask Tig” podcast. Notaro’s guest is writer Roxanne Gay, and I’m excited to hear that…until I hear the following exchange, and have to press the what the fuck – seriously? stop button on my podcast app.
Host TN was asking RG how RG feels about being someone whose opinions people value and respect. RG responded that it feels great, if challenging, considering the kind of stressful  topics she is asked to speak about, but most of the time it’s fine….
And where did you – where did that come from, in you?
Guest RG: I don’t know. I’m very quiet and very shy…I think it’s because, I tend to – I’m a Libra, and so I’m able to acknowledge multiple points of view.….
Host TN: Well, I’m an Aries, I don’t know what that means.
Guest RG: I don’t know either; I only know my own sign….I don’t fully understand astrology, but I have seen enough to believe in it, and take it seriously….
Damn damn damn damn damn.
I will, most likely, continue to read Ms. Gay’s essays and op-eds. Still, grrrrrrrr. I know that all idols have feet of clay, and that it’s good to be reminded of this, but do the idol’s clay feet have to be seemingly, blissfully, unaware that she’s stomping in horseshit?
Santa, please put Ms. Gay on your Christmas list, and sent her a special present this year: Carl Sagan’s baloney detection kit.
Moiself gets some of the reasons why people “believe in” astrology, or just like to read their horoscopes. For some folk it’s like a game, and astrology allows you to do the humble brag (or humble rag) thing: you can list your strengths or weaknesses without taking personal responsibility for either boasting or knocking yourself, because the credit (or blame) is in your stars.
I’ve met people who admit to “checking” their horoscope but say that they do so only for amusement purposes and don’t really think the predictions are valid. However, many scientists argue that even the “entertainment only” aspects of things like astrology are misleading and even harmful, in that they promote the idea that it is possible to interpret or explain reality of the natural world via the supernatural.
“Astrology can be tested by the lives of twins. There are many real cases like this: one twin is killed in childhood in, say, a riding accident or struck by lightning, while the other one lives to a prosperous old age. Supposed that had happened to me. My twin and I would have been born in exactly the same place and within minutes of each other, exactly the same planets would be rising at our births. If astrology were valid, how would we have such profoundly different fates?” ( Carl Sagan, as quoted in culturacolectiva.com )
The late great astronomer Carl Sagan was proficient in taking down astronomy and other pseudosciences. His life’s work involved encouraging people to
* learn critical and skeptical thinking skills * understand that science is not just a body of knowledge, but a way of thinking.
If you haven’t read Sagan’s book, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark, what are you waiting for? Even if you already know why, say, astronomy (or divination, fortune-telling, witchcraft, ad nauseum) is hokum, the book is an excellent explication of the scientific method to laypeople. Also, Sagan was a highly entertaining writer who was “incapable of composing a dull sentence,” as one admirer put it.
* * *
2020: a year which started with murder hornets and descended into COVID-19, civil unrest (e.g., the BLM movement and police brutality protests), wildfires, hurricanes, and the myriad of unnatural disasters emanating from the White House….
When it comes to using bowling metaphors to describe the events of this year,  it was like our society just kept throwing a series of gutter balls.
So, the regular/festive tree will wait until next year. For 2020, this is all I can muster.
Lest you think moiself has totally Scrooged-out on the festivities this year, I found another “tree” at an antique store. This one has room for a mere nine hanging ornaments. It wasn’t as difficult a task as you might think – whittling down the 100+ ornaments we have to only nine. Most of our ornaments are way too big for this kind of display, so, an assortment of my favorite smaller ones will do, for now.
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Department Of Get A Load Of This Pair
Moiself was compelled to adopt these from the grocery store. But, what to do with them?
I thought, maybe something Thai-flavored. Thailand is The Country Formerly Known as Siam, ® and the first thing that came to my mind when I saw these orange beauties was, “Cool – Siamese squash.”
That thought was almost immediately followed by Well-Meaning Liberal’s Unnecessary Self-Flagellation ® : “Ooh, that might be taken as insulting, or culturally-appropriating. I should probably say, “Conjoined Squash.”
Call ’em whatever, but what to do with them? I asked for suggestions from my family, who were as helpful as always. Son K declined to comment. Daughter Belle’s response: “Boobies!” Thank you, daughter dearest, but I was thinking more along culinary lines. 
MH suggested that I could hang them from my car’s trailer hitch. Yeah, but then I’d have to paint them blue…. 
* * *
Pun For The Day
I left my husband because he kept making astrology puns – it finally Taurus apart.
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Department Of Partridge Of The Week
This week’s Partridge in our pear tree:
* * *
May you be judicious in choosing which home health tests you give to your loved ones; May you remember that the best way to treat your “besties”
is to wear a mask in their presence; May you realize that if you seriously want to know what the moon is in Aries,
then you need to know that your head is seriously up your ass; …and may the hijinks ensue.
When it comes to giving grieving advice, the best (as in, most helpful) might be:
Speak for yourself.
Hardly profound…but…really. Share your experiences and perspectives if asked to do so, but remember, they are just that. *Your* experiences and perspectives are not necessarily prescriptive for others. Preface your remarks with something along the lines of, “I can’t speak to everyone’s situation; this is what happened to me/my family, and this is what was helpful to me/us, and this is what was not….”
I have been reading up on grief experienced by families who have lost an adult child to addiction – a subject with which my extended family has had the misfortune to become acquainted with. In several online articles and forums, I came across three similar stories of parents telling how
* news of their child’s death was greeted by silence from both friends and family; * such silence was painful to these parents as they grieved their loss; * people later justified their silence with, “I honestly didn’t know what to say; I was afraid I’d say the wrong thing, and hurt your feelings….”
The similarity in these three stories was in the response of the parents to those people who explained or justified their silences. I am summarizing and paraphrasing their responses here, by quoting one particular parent:
” ‘Hurting our feelings?’ That’s impossible!” “It is *impossible* to hurt *anyone* who has lost a child – we have already suffered the worst hurt imaginable.
Say something, anything, to acknowledge our loss.”
Her adamancy on this matter practically screamed from the text. And I thought, “Well…certainly, she’s an expert on her own feelings, but why is she speaking in such absolutes – why is she presuming to speak for “anyone” (read: everyone) who has lost a child?”
Also, in several of the stories I read which both preceded and followed the It-is-impossible-to-hurt-us parent’s story, other parents – those whom she had labeled as-impossible-to-hurt – spoke of how they *had* been further hurt, by unintentionally but nevertheless painful and/or thoughtless comments from friends and family, neighbors and co-workers, doctors and law enforcement officers. Some people’s attempts at comfort came off as giving unsolicited advice to the grieving parents – often in the form of tacit or even overt religious proselytizing – or as passing judgement regarding the deceased, whose death was spoken of as inevitable (“his own fault;” “a foreseeable consequence of her poor choices”) and therefore less shocking than losing a child in other ways, such as via auto accidents, illness, even homicide or suicide.
Moiself doesn’t want to add to humanity’s burden of of consistently and compassionately understanding when and how to comfort loved ones who’ve suffered these kinds of devastating, personal losses. It’s complicated, to say the least, for both sides – the giving and receiving of condolences. As one poet friend so precisely and evocatively wondered,
“Many have traveled here, so why are there no better maps?” 
Better maps, indeed. Someday, we may have them. Until then, speak to and about someone’s loss with love and kindness. When it comes to giving advice, speak for yourself. And only yourself. And *listen* to the bereaved, as if your life depended on it.
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Department Of Is That An Infectious Parasite In Your Brain Or Are You Just Happy To See Me?
“Toxoplasma gondii exerts a strange sort of mind control on rodents: Once infected with the brain parasite, they seem to lose their fear of cats and become more likely to get eaten. When they are, the microbe can make its way into the feline intestine to reproduce. But a new study argues that T. gondii’s effects on rodents aren’t cat specific; instead, the parasite simply makes mice more eager to explore and less fearful of any species that might gobble them up.” (Science, “Brain parasite may strip away rodents’ fear of predators—not just of cats.”
Given my previous advice, I shouldn’t speak for my entire species, so I’ll just say that moiself has no desire to gobble up a mouse or any rodent. However, I recently saw a mouse infected with (I’m guessing) toxoplasmosis.
I can’t think of what else might explain its unusual, survival-fail behavior. Oh, and if you’ve never heard about the life cycle of the toxoplasma gondii, treat yourself to a brief overview of arguably one of Mother Nature’s strangest, most face-palming, biological phenomena.
Dateline: Tuesday, 7 am-ish, leaving my house via the garage, to go for a walk. The sun is not quite up; as I walk down the driveway toward the sidewalk I notice something scurrying in the front yard, to the right, about five feet from me, in the dirt underneath our redbud tree. I approach the Scurrying Something, and see a mouse.
The mouse also sees me. Instead of freezing in place or fleeing, it raises up on its hind feet and looks up, its beady little eyes staring right at me. It begins to run in circles, first towards then away from me, and makes little leaps into the air and prances about, as if it is trying to attract my attention. Is this a batshit crazy mouse, I’m thinking, or is this behavior trying to distract me away from, say, its nest that is nearby?  Or…is this a horny mouse who’s lookin’ for love in all the wrong places, and it thinks I smell like cat pee? I’ll admit that my regular shower schedule has lapsed during the COVID quarantine months, but hey – it’s not THAT bad.
“Toxoplasma gondii …can only reproduce within the bodies of cats, and in mice, the mind-controlling parasite has evidently evolved to make mice unafraid of felines and even…sexually attracted to the odor of cat urine….” ( “Mind-Control Parasite Kills Mice’s Fear of Cats Permanently,” livescience.com )
Moving right along….
I’m bundled up against the 30˚ temp and fumble through my layers of clothing, trying to get my cellphone out of my pants pocket. I want to videotape this mouse’s interpretive dance or whatever it is, and show it to my offspring, both of whom were biology majors and worked with mice in undergraduate research projects. Just as I get my phone and find the video mode, the mouse scampers toward me, which gives me pause (uh, what if it’s rabid…and is that even a mouse-thing? ). Manic Mouse gets to within less than a foot of my foot, does a little pirouette, then makes a beeline for our pear tree, which is about four feet away, by the sidewalk. I follow the mouse; it resumes its acrobatic antics around the pear tree’s trunk and underneath the surrounding azalea bushes. The combination of the darkness, the rapidity of the mouse’s movements, and my less-than-stellar cinematography skills makes for a poor video. I bid the mouse adieu and go for my walk, pondering, among other metaphysical wonders:
Why isn’t it pronounced, tox-o-plas- MOUSE -is?
“Yeah, what she said.”
* * *
Department Of Just Wondering #589 In A Never-Ending Series
Why do our big toes *not* have their own separate, special name? We have a unique moniker for the pollex, the short, thick first digit of the human hand: we call it the thumb, thus distinguishing it from the other fingers. But we have ten toes, and they’re all just…toes. Okay, the first ones are the big toes, but, c’mon, what kind of pansy-ass distinction is that?
Department Of What Happens To Your Brain When You When You Read Celebrity News
Before You Go To Bed
The news in question was someone’s Facebook posting of a Twitter announcement, from an actor, of said actor’s newly-claimed  trans status. The announcement included, of course, the customary pronouns preference:
“… I want to share with you that I am trans, my pronouns are he/they…”
I read this before dozing off ~ 10 pm. Later, in the literal wee hours of the morning, I was awakened by the not-unfamiliar sounds of MH, getting out of bed to go to the bathroom but being not-quite-awake and forgetting where he was (read: he’d walked into a wall and was feeling around for the bathroom door).
Moiself, sitting upright: MH!
Moiself: You’re in Hillsboro. And…
I stopped at “and.” But, honest-to-the-gods-whose-existences-I-refute, I almost added, 
“… The problem with gender reveals has grown so out of control, the woman who popularized them begged parents to “stop having these stupid parties” on social media. The most recent fire in California was started when clouds of blue smoke for a boy preceded the flames, which the expectant parents tried to put out with bottled water. In 2017, an Arizona gender-reveal party explosion started a wildfire that burned about 47,000 acres.” ( “After Gender Reveal Celebration Sparks Fire, Some Say The Parties Have Gotten Out Of Hand,” Here and Now, 9-9-20 )
On one end of the scale of Humans Who Are Concerned About Such Things®, there’s a small but vocal crowd which insists, “Gender is just a construct.” At the other end are those for whom gender is such defining human characteristic that they cause wildfires by trying to announce to an ask-us-if-we-careworld the sex of their not-even-born precious snowflake baby.
Maybe y’all are ahead of me on this, but moiself was gob-smacked to discover, which I did only recently, that more than one gender reveal party has started a wildfire.
Please, someone set fire to this.
To all future, even halfway serious considerers of holding a “gender reveal” gathering of any kind, please consider this: the only thing you will be revealing is probably no secret to those who know you:
“Congratulate us, we’re having a _____ (humanoid offspring of narcissistic morons) ! “
Gender is not “just” a construct, if only “just” by the fact that for some folks, determining if a developing fetus is male or female gets their (non-gender-fluid) panties in a knot.
Imagine the size of the knot which could entangle this pair.
“Just-a-construct;” “the end all and be all of life.” Perhaps these gender perspectives are the opposite side of the same coin… or, the adjacent sides of the same tetrahedron, considering the complexity of the issue? 
When I was pregnant with son K and then daughter Belle, our neighbors gave a baby shower/party for moiself and MH. Me being, well, me, my dear, tolerant friends knew better than to host a women/moms only event, and the guys/dads truly seemed to enjoy being included in the festivities. MH and I dared to wade through the murky waters of Being A Gracious Guest Etiquette ® by letting the party hosts know in advance that we did not want anything “gendered” – please, none of that pink or blue crap swag.  MH made it known that, in particular, any of those dreadful baby bows, which were popular at the time (mid-1990s) would be, how you say, not appreciated by the mother-to be. 
From what I’ve seen lately, those ridiculous bows are making a comeback. People: why are y’all doing this to your girl-childs?
The first time I saw a girl-baby with one of those forehead bands, I felt so…dispirited. Yet another reminder of how early it starts, for females: a few days out of the V-shute and the world wants to start decorating her already?
I queried the first sets of parental units I saw whom had accessorized their child thusly; I asked in (what I thought was) an open-minded, even-toned manner, about what the forehead bow-thingy was for? Each parental unit answered in the same way:
Gender-Crazed Parental Units: “Oh, isn’t it cute?! That’s so people know our baby is a girl!”
Moiself: “Oh…okay…well…your family and friends already know – I assume you’ve told them – your baby’s name, and that she’s a girl, right?”
GCPU: “Yes, but other people don’t. And with most little babies, you can’t tell by looking at their faces whether it’s a boy or a girl. “
Moiself: “And it is important for ‘other people,’ including strangers, to know your child’s sex, because…?”
 I had amniocentesis with both of pregnancies; MH and I knew, well in advance of any baby showers, K’s and Belle’s respective sex…but I can’t remember whom we told. I know we kept the names private until birth – which we’d been advised to do by a wise friend: “If someone doesn’t like the name you’ve chosen and they think there’s a gnat’s ass of a chance that they can change your mind – and they always think there is a chance that they can change your mind – they will try, so don’t tell anyone the name until it’s on the birth certificate.”
 Can you say, sling-shotted into orbit around Mars?
 And, it should go without saying, share it with moiself .
Is today still considered Black Friday, what with the COVID crisis limiting the for some white trash who look forward to the traditional shoving match at Walmart customary, day-after-Thanksgiving shopping frenzy?  Using the post-holiday letdown as an excuse inspiration, moiself has decided that this will a lighter, less filling, politics-free post.
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Department Of Someone Is Not Understanding The Concept
Our city’s curbside recycling services recently (within the past year) added food waste recycling to their yard waste recycling service. Each household was issued a small (~ 1 gallon) tan container for the house, to be kept on your kitchen counter, under the sink, wherever, for your potato and apple peels, squash rinds – all of your plant food waste. When that container is full you empty it into your large (60 gallon) brown yard waste bin which you keep outside a foot or so over the property line, so as to annoy your neighbors next to your other garbage and recycling bins. the smaller container goes back inside the house. You wheel the big brown bin to the curb when it is your street’s garbage/recycling pickup day. Pretty basic stuff.
house food waste container on the front/left, which you empty into the yard waste bin on the right.
Our city, like most cities these days, has a fleet of garbage/recycling vehicles which are automated side load trucks. The trucks have a crew of one – the driver, who operates a mechanical arm which grabs and lifts the recycling bin and dumps it.
Here is what moiself observed on Monday morning, when I was walking in a neighborhood ~ 1 mile from my house, on that neighborhood’s recycling day.
* * *
Dept Of Avoiding Politics To Keep The Peace For Just One Day, But Of Course She Found Something Else to Tantalize Offend Some of Y’all
There are so many, many, many examples I could use, but I’ll settle on this one: Why do religious folk still engage, and/or seem to believe in, the efficacy of intercessory prayer, considering what happened to Elizabeth Smart?
Jesus Lied About Prayer (excerpts from “Lies Jesus Told,” from the blog, “EvilBible.com – fighting Against Immorality In Religion” )
“Jesus is quoted many times in the Bible saying that a believer can ask for anything through prayer and receive it. He even goes so far as to say that mountains and trees can be thrown into the sea simply by praying for it. This is clearly a lie, and can be proven to be a lie by any believer. Simply pray for me to be converted to Christianity right away. Or better yet ask God to move the mountains behind my house. He could make a lot of converts that way. If I’m converted today, I’ll post a public apology on my web site and devote my life to kissing God’s ass. If I’m not converted it would only be fair for you to apologize and devote your life to kissing my butt. Here are the quotes from Jesus that proves that he lied:”
(moiself’scomment: the following is number three of nine demonstrably claims, from the New Testament, attributed to Jesus, that the author of this blog lists): (3) “Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.
(Matthew 18:19-20 NAS)”
Remember the Mormon girl, Elizabeth Smart, who was kidnapped from her Salt Lake City home at knifepoint when she was fourteen years old? She was held captive for nine months by her abductor.  The man, an excommunicated Mormon, claimed to be a prophet and an angel, and told Smart that she was …”the first of many virgin brides he planned to kidnap, each of whom would accompany him as he battled the Antichrist.” He repeatedly raped Smart, “…sometimes multiple times a day, forced her to look at pornographic magazines, and regularly threatened to kill her.”
Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.
If the human interest stories about the case that I read were correct – if what we know about human nature is correct – there were definitely more than two or three people praying, in Jesus’ name, from day one when news of Smart’s abduction broke. For nine months people prayed alone, and in groups, Mormons and Christians alike,  as well as believers of other faiths, for that poor girl to be found and returned to her family.
And Jesus was…where, during all of this?
If what Jesus said was trustworthy – and Christians claim that their scriptures are reliable in its narration of Jesus’ words and deeds – when those people were praying he was in their midst doing…just what, exactly? Listening to them, hearing their earnest supplications, discussing it with his supposed father/god/himself ,  and ultimately, apparently, saying something along the lines of, “Yeah, we’ll let them find her, but not now. We’ll allow her to get sexually assaulted for several more months, like the Congolese women who also keep praying to us as they are raped in the refugee camps.”
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* * *
Department Of This Is In The Running For Best (Verbal) Curse Ever
The visual version of this curse would be having to look at this picture.
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Department Of What The World Needs Now, Is Love Sweet Love…. Or, Failing That, A New Game
Dateline: Thursday morning. My thoughts while walking past the Manzanita Links golf course, where moiself espied at least six people prepping for a round of golf before halving to attend to Thanksgiving dinner or whatever.
As I passed the end of the course – the ninth hole – moiself had a sudden realization: while I have no interest in golf such as it is, I am intrigued by the idea of playing it backwards. How about instead of playing golf, we play Flog ® ?
“Only a stupid infidel would use a nine iron off the tee!”
No no no; not *that* kind of flog.
Here’s how to Flog: Using a specialty club –golf putters may need to be repurposed for flogging – players “hit” (or somehow coax) their flog balls out of the ninth hole, with the aim of getting the balls up to and atop the ninth hole tee. Repeat with each hole after (before?) that, until you end up at the first tee.
Just imagine the skill set involved! I mean, anyone can (eventually) hit a golf ball off of a tee, but the precision, tenacity, and dexterity in getting one *on* to it? Flogging will require an abundance of Zen-like focus and patience.
Flogging will be a high-scoring game – probably no two- or even three-par holes, and the odds against any player shooting a hole in one (tee in one?) will be astronomical.
What do you think – could this attract a whole new generation of players? Or, are the logistics insurmountable ? Obviously, you couldn’t have people golfing and flogging at the same time, as you’d end up with weird traffic jams,  so an existing course would have to decide, day by day, to be either for golfing, or for flogging.
So, when moiself wins the lottery  I will rent out an entire course golf course for moiself and some thrill-seeking friends, and we shall Flog.
Community Service/Making The World A Better Place ® Bonus: We floggers will be a better-dressed bunch than golfers. That’s almost too easy to guarantee.
* * *
Department Of Partridge Of The Week
Our neighborhood knows the holiday season is in full swing when the lights go up on the pear tree in our front yard (the weekend after Thanksgiving) and stay up until early January. Each week, the tree hosts a Special Guest Star ®. This week’s Partridge in our pear tree is, as always, the lead-off:
* * *
Pun For The Day
The cook couldn’t bother to season the thanksgving Turkey – she didn’t have the thyme.
“Yeah, sure lady – you’re a vegan, like we believe that!
* * *
Department Of False Advertising
Although I promoted today’s post as being politics-free, moiself can’t resist mentioning this. Dateline: Wednesday afternoon, listening to a podcast, wherein a physician/scientist was being interviewed about the COVID-19 vaccine options. ‘Twas music to my ears to hear, more than once, the interviewer ask the scientist what he would be expecting and/or hoping from “…The Biden Administration.”
For the first time in four years, I could hear the word “administration,” referring to the federal government, and not feel the, nauseating, gut-twisting, I-told-you-not-to-eat-those-oysters sensation in the pit of my abdomen, as was the case when the word “administration” was precede by the name of #45.
* * *
May you intrigue your mind with thoughts of other games which might be played backwards; May your soul be soothed by phrases like, The Biden Administration; May all your shits have antlers; …and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 Which might be considered a silver lining, of sorts.
 And is batshit crazy-evil wife, who abetted him.
Because there is too much post-election uncertainty for moiself to compose anything else, it’s time for the annual intro to the holiday season. Brace y’all selves.
Department Of Life Is Tough But It’s Even Tougher If You’re Stupid Chapter 22467 in a (never-ending) series
“The idea of a “War on Christmas” has turned things like holiday greetings and decorations into potentially divisive political statements. People who believe Christmas is under attack point to inclusive phrases like “Happy Holidays” as (liberal) insults to Christianity…. Christmas is a federal holiday celebrated widely by the country’s Christian majority. So where did the idea that it is threatened come from?… The most organized attack on Christmas came from the Puritans, who banned celebrations of the holiday in the 17th century because it did not accord with their interpretation of the Bible….”
(“How the ‘War on Christmas’ Controversy Was Created,” NY Times, 12-19-16)
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Department Of If Something Seems Familiar, That’s Because It’s Time For My Annual Holiday Traditions Explained ® Post
What do vegetarians, egans, non-meat and/or plant-based eaters do on Thanksgiving? ( Other than, according to your Aunt Erva, RUIN IT FOR EVERYONE ELSE. 
The above question is an existential dilemma worthy of Soren Kierkegaard, the Danish philosopher, who wrote eloquent discourses on the subjective and objective truths one must juggle when choosing between a cinnamon roll and a chocolate swirl 
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Department Of I’ll Take Those Segues Where I Can Find Them
Three weeks from today will be the day after feasting, for many of us. Then, just when you’re recovering from the last leftover turkey sandwich/quiche/casserole/enchilada-induced salmonella crisis and really, really need to get outside for some fresh air, here comes the Yule season. You dare not even venture to the mall, lest your eardrums be assaulted from all sides by Have a Holly Jolly Christmas, Feliz Navidad, ad nauseum.
This observation provides a convenient segue to my annual, sincere, family-friendly, 
…that the Reverend Increase Mather of Boston observed in 1687 that, “the early Christians who first observed the Nativity on December 25 did not do so thinking that Christ was born in that Month, but because the Heathens’ Saturnalia was at that time kept in Rome, and they were willing to have those Pagan Holidays metamorphosed into Christian ones.” 
Because of its known pagan origin, Christmas was banned by the Puritans, and its observance was illegal in Massachusetts until 1681. 
“Do you celebrate Christmas?”
We Heretics/apostates non-Christians Happy Heathens often hear this question at this time of year. The inquiry is sometimes presented in ways that imply our celebration (or even acknowledgement) of Christmas is hypocritical. This implication is the epitome of cheek, when you consider the fact that it is the early Christians who stole a festival from our humanist (pagan) forebears, and not the other way around.
Who doesn’t like a party, for any reason? And we who are religion-free don’t mind sharing seasonal celebrations with religious folk– sans the superstition and government/church mumbo-jumbo — as long as they accept the fact that the ways we all celebrate this “festive season” predate Christianity by hundreds of years.
Early Roman Catholic missionaries tried to convert northern Europeans to the RC brand of Christianity, and part of the conversion process was to alter existing religious festivals. The indigenous folk, whom the RC church labeled “barbarians,” quickly discovered that when it came to dealing with missionaries, resistance is futile. The pagans intuitively grasped the concept of natural selection and converted to Christianity to avoid the price (persecution, torture, execution) of staying true to their original beliefs. But they refused to totally relinquish their old celebrations, and so the church, eventually and effectively, simply renamed most of them. 
Pagan practices were given a Christian meaning to wipe out “heathen” revelry. This was made official church policy in 601 A.D., when Pope Gregory the First issued the now infamous edict to his missionaries regarding the traditions of the peoples they wanted to convert. Rather than try to banish native customs and beliefs, missionaries were directed to assimilate them. You find a group of people decorating and/or worshiping a tree? Don’t chop it down or burn it; rather, bless it in the name of the Church. Allow its continued worship, only tell the people that, instead of celebrating the return of the sun-god in the spring, they are now worshiping the rising from the dead of the Son of God.
( Easter is the one/odd exception, where the pagan celebration was adapted by Christians without a name change. Easter is a word found nowhere in the Bible. It comes from the many variants (Eostra, Ester, Eastra, Eastur….) of a Roman deity, goddess of the dawn “Eos” or “Easter,” whose festival was in the Spring.)
The fir boughs and wreaths, the Yule log, plum pudding, gift exchanges, the feasting, the holly and the ivy and the evergreen tree….It is hard to think of a “Christmas” tradition that does not originate from Teutonic (German),Viking, Celtic and Druid paganism.  A celebration in the depths of winter – at the time when, to those living in the Northern Hemisphere, the sun appears to stop its southerly descent before gradually ascending north – is a natural instinct. For thousands of years our Northern Hemisphere ancestors greeted the “reason for the season” – the winter solstice – with festivals of light and gift exchanges and parties. The Winter Solstice was noted and celebrated long before the Roman Jesus groupies pinched the party.
But, isn’t “Jesus is the reason for the season”?
The reason for the season? Cool story, bro. Since you asked; actually, axial tilt is the reason for the season. For all seasons.
And Woden is the reason the middle of the week is named Wednesday.  My calling Wednesday “Wednesday” doesn’t mean I celebrate, worship or “believe in” Woden. I don’t insist on renaming either Christmas, or Wednesday.
“Now, go fetch me the sheisskopf who took the Woden out of Woden’s Day!”
The Winter Solstice is the day with the shortest amount of sunlight, and the longest night. In the northern hemisphere it falls on what we now mark as December 21 or 22. However, it took place on December 25th at the time when the Julian calendar was used.  The early Romans celebrated the Saturnalia on the Solstice, holding days of feasting and gift exchanges in honor of their god Saturn. (Other major deities whose birthdays were celebrated on or about the week of December 25  included Horis, Huitzilopochtli, Isis, Mithras, Marduk, Osiris, Serapis and Sol.) The Celebration of the Saturnalia was too popular with the Roman pagans for the new Christian church to outlaw it, so the new church renamed the day and reassigned meanings to the traditions. 
In other words, why are some folk concerned with keeping “the Christ in Christmas”  when we should be keeping the Saturn in Saturnalia?
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Whatever your favorite seasonal celebrations may be, I wish you all the best.
May you have the occasion to (with good humor) ruin it for everyone else; May you find it within yourself to ignore the Black Friday mindset; May you remember to keep the Saturn in Saturnalia; …and may the fruitcake-free hijinks ensue.
 “Increase Mather, A Testimony against Several Prophane and Superstitious Customs, Now Practiced by Some in New England (London, 1687). See also Stephen Nissenbaum, The Battle for Christmas: A Cultural History of America’s Most Cherished Holiday,” New York: Vintage Books, 1997.
 Stephen Nissenbaum, “The Battle for Christmas: A Cultural History of America’s Most Cherished Holiday.”
 “Learn not the way of the heathen…their customs are vain, for one cuts a tree out of the forest…they deck it with silver and gold…” Jeremiah 10:2-5
 Wednesday comes from the Old English Wōdnesdæg, the day of the Germanic god Wodan (aka Odin, highest god in Norse mythology and a big cheese god of the Anglo-Saxons until the seventh century.)
 The Julian calendar, adopted by Julius Caesar ~ 46 B.C.E., was off by 11 min/year, and when the Gregorian calendar was established by Pope – wait for it – Gregory, the solstice was established on 12/22.
 In 601 A.D., Pope Gregory I issued a now famous edict to his missionaries regarding wooing potential converts: don’t banish peoples’ customs, incorporate them. If the locals venerate a tree, don’t cut it down; rather, consecrate the tree to JC and allow its continued worship.
 And nothing in the various conflicting biblical references to the birth of JC has the nativity occurring in wintertime.
Department Of One Of My Favorite Questions To Ask (of anyone, about moiself )
“Do I have a bit of chocolate stuck between my teeth?”
She’d be happier if it were a piece of Lindt 85% instead of spinach.
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Department Of Getting Really, Really Genre Specific Sub-Department Of Who’d A Thunk It?
After a three-year, self-imposed sabbatical from the business side of What I Do ®  I’ve been doing some research into the state of literary publishing Research as in, getting (re)acquainted with who (as in publishing companies, large and small) is out there and what they want and/or specialize in.
When I started this task, I was wondering if things are just as bad as when I said *ick* and walked away. The answer: Yep (as in, duh), and even more so.
However, I am discovering hidden  gems that make this task worthwhile. Such as, this list, from the writers guidelines posted on the website of a particular publishing house, for a particular editor’s areas of interest rearding manuscripts she wishes to review (my emphases ):
“….contemporary romance, women’s contemporary fiction, historical fiction, gay fiction, dark suspense and thrillers, Amish romance.…”
Holy bodice ripper! There’s more than one editor with that unusually specific, uh, specification:
“80,000-word contemporary romance—either sexy or sweet, Amish and inspirational romance, women’s fiction….”
“Amish romance” as a genre. This is news to moiself– and, perhaps, only to moiself? Did y’all know about this and if so, why did you keep it to y’all selves?
I’m not a genre writer, nor reader. I have read books that would fit such classifications (e.g. a Zane Grey western or two; some Agatha Christie mysteries, four or five Star Trek “novels” ). Without knowing much about the genre – except that there are, apparently, far more sub-genres than I would have imagined – “romance” is the least interesting genre to moiself…up until now.
I find moiself wanting to at least skim through the pages of something that would qualify as an Amish Romance. I’m trying to imagine the content of such: the exchange of furtive glances over the milking stool; sly winks by the well after the quilting bee; coy lasses who offering their luscious berries for perusal during the barn raising….
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Department Of Next Tuesday, Y’all Know What To Do
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Speaking of the election, and what with the approaching holiday season….
Department Of How To Get Dis-Invited To Extended Family Gatherings
It’s easy! First, post something like this on your Facebook page:
I have family members, who are religious, who are likely voting for #45.
Because tR*** says the magic words conservative Christians want to hear about two key issues for them: taxes and abortion – and he of course *lies* to his supporters about this (he was pro-choice until he planned his presidential run as a Republican, as documented here and other places: https://qz.com/…/trump-shifted-from-pro-choice-to-pro-life…/), they are apparently willing to ignore/overlook/excuse all the rest?
This saddens me in ways I cannot express…so I’ll post it here, and never get invited to extended family Thanksgiving dinners again.
Lather; rinse; repeat, and conservative evangelicals will lick your otherwise faith-mocking, narcissistic, heathen patootie. 
It is interesting to moiself – and by “interesting” I mean, repulsive – that so many Christians are willing to overlook a politician’s flagrant, repeated, unapologetic violations of *their* scripture’s advice on issues which, if you take their scriptures as true and literal accounts of their god’s messages to them (and most conservative Christians do), were of primary importance to Jesus:
* caring for the sick, poor, imprisoned, and vulnerable
* treating others as you wish to be treated
* giving your possessions, even clothing, to those who have none
… and instead support this same lying adulterous racist misogynist politician who spouts the rhetoric they want to hear about abortion, an issue about which Jesus never spoke, despite abortion being known and practiced since ancient times. Yep, as long as humans have been pregnant/getting each other pregnant, they have found ways of intentionally ending unwanted pregnancies.
The practice of abortion—the termination of a pregnancy—has been known since ancient history. Various methods have been used to perform or attempt an abortion, including the administration of abortifacient herbs, the use of sharpened implements, the application of abdominal pressure, and other techniques…. Many of the methods employed in early cultures were non-surgical. Physical activities such as: strenuous labor, climbing, paddling, weightlifting, or diving were a common technique. Others included the use of irritant leaves, fasting, bloodletting, pouring hot water onto the abdomen, and lying on a heated coconut shell. In virtually all cultures, abortion techniques developed through observation, adaptation of obstetrical methods, and transculturation.
“The Bible never once specifically forbids abortions; it’s actually quite the contrary! Not only were methods of abortion well-known at the time, there’s times when the Bible states God commands that one take place. I’m going to walk through a few examples as illustrations. * In Genesis 38, we have the story of Tamar * Hosea: Progeny of the Rebellious Shall Not be Born (Hosea 9:14: God will cause the deaths of the unborn, as he will “give them a miscarrying womb and dry breasts.” Hosea 13:16: “Samaria shall become desolate; for she hath rebelled against her God: they shall fall by the sword: their infants shall be dashed in pieces, and their women with child shall be ripped up.”) * Sotah: Abortion-Inducing Potion due to Husband’s Jealousy 
(In Numbers 5, instructions are given by God to Moses regarding situations where a husband is fiercely jealous of his wife: his wife should be made to take a drink that will cause an abortion if she slept with another man…regardless of whose child it is). * Causing a Miscarriage: Mere Property Loss (The Bible didn’t treat miscarriage as murder, regardless of intent. Rather, it was treated as a property loss by the father, punishable by whatever fine the judges felt was appropriate. This is spelled out in Exodus 21:22-25 ) (excerpts from Biblical Abortion: A Christian’s View)
As for taxes, Jesus is quoted as advising tax collectors to do their job honestly. He is mentioned/quoted about twice in personal stories about taxes, both times advising that people pay the taxes they owe. He had plenty to say about people who strive for and value the accumulation of wealth, and none of it was positive.
In the New Testament, Jesus offers more wisdom and has more to say about money than any other subject besides the “Kingdom of God.” I remember when I first heard a pastor proclaim from the pulpit that Jesus said more about money than he did about love. To be honest, I was a little angry. There was no way that was true, I thought to myself. I’ve grown up hearing that “God is love,” but now I find out He may care more about my checkbook than my heart? Sure enough, after doing a bit of research on this subject as well, I discovered that the pastor was right: Jesus talked more about money than he did Heaven and Hell combined. Eleven of the 39 parables He tells are about finances. ( “Jesus Talked the Most about…Money? “)
“Gotcha on that one, eh bro?”
Jesus presented the desire to accumulate riches as both an offense to faith and an obstacle to faith. This is something “prosperity Christians” find easy to ignore, by concentrating on other issues they think don’t apply to themselves (like homosexuality and abortion, both of which existed in biblical times and yet were not condemned, nor even spoken of, by Jesus).
Some of Jesus’ better-known quotes on the subject of money include:
* “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6)
* Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!” The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” (Mark 10:23–25)
* “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” ( Luke 16:13)
* “Whoever has two tunics should share with him who has none, and whoever has food should do the same.” (Luke 3)
Every so often when discussing the prosperity gospel, I hear proponents say, “But surely God doesn’t want us to be poor, does he?” ….People who say such things ignore the many Bible passages addressing wealth…
They also choose to ignore the many biblical passages warning against the detrimental effects of wealth—and especially love for wealth. You don’t hear prosperity preachers mention such verses. It’s as if their Bibles are missing them. (from “Bible Verses Prosperity Preachers Wish Didn’t Exist“)
Jesus did not oppose the payment of taxes. In fact, Jesus paid taxes. In Matthew 22:15-22, the Pharisees ask Jesus, “Tell us … is it against our law to pay taxes to the Roman Emperor or not?” Jesus responds, “Why are you trying to trap me? Show me the coin for paying the tax!” They brought him the coin and he asks them, “Whose face and name are these?” “The Emperor’s,” they answer. So Jesus says to them, “Well, then, pay to the Emperor what belongs to the Emperor, and pay to God what belongs to God.” Matthew 17: 24-27 relates the story of a group of tax collectors asking Peter, “Does your teacher pay the … tax?” Peter’s answer, “Of course,” is followed by Jesus instructing Peter as follows: “… go to the lake and drop in a line. Pull up the first fish you hook, and in its mouth you will find a coin worth enough for my tax and yours. Take it and pay them our taxes.” Romans 13:6-7: Paul explains, “That is also why you pay taxes, because the authorities are working for God when they fulfill their duties. Pay, then, what you owe them; pay your personal and property taxes, and show respect and honor for them all.” ( excerpts from “What does the Bible say about taxes?
By Ken Milani, professor of accountancy at the University of Notre Dame, and Claude Renshaw, emeritus professor of business administration at Saint Mary’s College.
Both men are Christians.)
“Got that? And keep your noses out of women’s and LGBTQ folk’s business!”
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Pun For The Day
A cheese factory exploded in Paris – onlookers were showered with de Brie!
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May you not feel the need to consult Iron Age manuscripts for 21st century personal or financial guidance; May you imagine your own Amish romance; May we all get chocolate stuck in our teeth; …and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. AND GET OUT THERE AND VOTE !!
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 For a variety of reasons, some discussed in this space, mostly summed up by my disdain for what is happening in that business: ICK.
Active, reliable, sarcastic, affectionate, bipedal, cynical optimist, writer, freethinker, parent, spouse and friend, I am generous with my handy supply of ADA-approved spearmint gum and sometimes refrain from humming in public.