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.
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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.
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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:
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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!
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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.
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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!
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 Which might be considered a silver lining, of sorts.
 And is batshit crazy-evil wife, who abetted him.
Department Of I Am Happy/Relieved, But Should Be More Ecstatic-er… As per the Biden-Harris victory. But I’m not. For reasons I shall get into next week….
It is next week. And I can’t avoid the obvious any longer.
Biden-Harris won! Yet, considering how many voted for #45, I can never look at my fellow Americans again – including some of my family and friends – without wondering.
In the week before election day I listened to several podcasts which featured interviews with “reluctant” tRump voters. Most of them made statements indicating they held religious (read: Christian) beliefs; what they all had in common was their discomfort with #45’s temperament, character, handling of the pandemic, fomenting civil unrest, ad nauseum. BUT…#45 “agreed” with them on abortion and they thought that the economy – for themselves – was “better” under his policies.
The idea that because your personal portfolio has increased temporarily (and in the long run, it’s always temporary) means “things are better” for you…I haven’t the words to aptly excoriate the staggering egocentricity and shortsightedness of such thinking.
Calling all #45 supporters,  reluctant and gung-ho: Y’all plan to live more than another year or two? What do you think will happen when the #45 regime’s chickens come home to roost, including record deficits and national debt and global warming exacerbation…
Over four years in office, the Trump administration has dismantled major climate policies and rolled back many more rules governing clean air, water, wildlife and toxic chemicals. (from “The Trump Administration Is Reversing More Than 100 Environmental Rules.” NY Times Nov. 10, 2020 )
Have you no concern for the future – for your children and your fellow citizens, if not for yourself? Can nothing override your sense of the *me-good-now,* of your satisfaction with personal financial gain and the lack of being inconvenienced by having to change personal/global habits to reduce carbon emissions; can nothing deter you from selling out our children’s future to the financial, environmental and social crises that are sure to come?
Forget, for a moment, the future: what about the present? Can you really don enough blinders and earplugs to ignore the political and social calamities besetting your fellow citizens and pretend that these don’t harm, involve, or even concern you?
“Trump has repeatedly been endorsed by white supremacist groups and other far-right extremists, and they’ve looked to him as a source of encouragement.” ( Business Insider, 9-30-20 )
“Former KKK leader endorses Trump for president again… Perhaps the US’s most renowned racial extremist has long supported what he sees as the president’s white nationalist agenda.” (The Independent, News<World<Americas, 7-9-20)
You must be familiar with how political and human rights leaders call for unity and try to appeal to our so-called better natures when the latest incidents of police brutality, sexism and misogyny, and the country’s history of systemic racism are revealed:
“This is not who we are.” “We are better than this.”
You’ve heard those phrases before; you’ll hear them again. You may even believe them. But I’m gonna shove my elbow down the throat of the next person  who says that within earshot of moiself. Because, guess what? This *is*who we are – at least, nearly half of the voting “we.”
At least 73 million of us are not “better than this,” because 73 million Americans were able and willing to set aside, ignore, or explain away the actions, rhetoric and policies of #45 which have fostered an unprecedented rise in displays of hatred, bigotry, and violence.
“Hate crimes have surged nearly 20 percent during the administration of President Donald Trump, according to a new FBI report on hate crime statistics. The report also shows that hate-motivated murders, largely committed by white supremacists, spiked to their highest number in 28 years.” ( “Hate Crimes Under Trump Surged Nearly 20 Percent Says FBI Report,” Newsweek, 11-16-20 )
Here’s news from a small town in my state, a story which probably didn’t get much national coverage during the election hoopla:
At least two Klamath Falls billboards were vandalized with…symbols linked to white supremacists and neo-Nazi beliefs….
Multiple swastikas were painted on the billboards, as well as the numbers “1488.” Those numbers are a common white supremacist symbol referencing a future for white children and an homage to Adolf Hitler…. The timing of these symbols appearing the day after the election cannot be ignored, (Klamath Falls Equity Task Force member Joey Gentry) said, noting her belief that people with racist tendencies have been emboldened by President Donald Trump. (“Swastikas appear on billboards for Democrats, store in Klamath Falls,” Oregonlive.com, 11-5-20)
There are #45 supporters who claim to be horrified by such actions. They protest, “This isn’t us!” and say that they themselves are not racist. Yet they are willing to overlook #45’s dog whistles to white supremacist organizations – hells bells, he doesn’t even bother to use the whistles anymore.
In politician speak, a dog whistle is language that conveys a particular meaning to a group of potential supporters. The targeted group hears the “whistle” because of its shared cultural reference, but others cannot. In 2018, The Washington Post wrote that “perhaps no one has sent more dog whistles than President Trump.” When Trump this year planned a rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma – the site of one of the worst acts of racial terror in U.S. history – on the Black holiday of Juneteenth, the media called the rally a “racist dog whistle.” That suggests that white nationalists would view the timing as an overture, while others would miss the date’s racism. Journalists have also referred to Trump calling COVID-19 “the China virus” as a dog whistle…. True dog whistles rely on there being an “outgroup” that can’t hear the politician’s coded message. They are so specifically targeted that there’s no need to deny their coded meaning because no one outside the intended audience even hears them. This is why the term “dog whistle” does not accurately describe Donald Trump’s rhetoric. When Trump talks about “rapists” from Mexico, “shithole countries” in Africa and white supremacists as “very fine people,” the racial connotation isn’t hidden – it is obvious. “This isn’t just a wink to white supremacists,” said Sen. Kamala Harris in a tweet about Trump’s planned Tulsa rally. “[H]e’s throwing them a welcome home party.” (“Trump’s appeals to white anxiety are not ‘dog whistles’ – they’re racism.” The Conversation, 9-18-20 )
It haunts me – the voice of an Otherwise Nice-Sounding Man I heard being interviewed before the election, who said he struggled with his decision. Despite ONSM’s misgiving about the “other stuff,” ONSM chose #45 because ONDM’s stock portfolio had risen.
Other stuff. As in, #45’s history of sexual harassment and bullying, encouraging and abetting racial and social inequity, white supremacy, racism, homophobia, transphobia, & xenophobia; coddling (and imitating) dictators; collusion with Russia & obstruction of Justice, corruption and nepotism and “birtherism’ lies and lies lies and more lies… 
If you’ve a strong stomach, you can view (or download a pdf of) the unfortunately-not-yet-complete, “Listing of Trump’s Atrocities,” compiled via years of diligence of the non-profit publisher, McSweeney’s:
Early in President Trump’s term, McSweeney’s editors began to catalog the head-spinning number of misdeeds coming from his administration. We called this list a collection of Trump’s cruelties, collusions, and crimes, and it felt urgent then to track them, to ensure these horrors — happening almost daily — would not be forgotten. This election year, amid a harrowing global health, civil rights, humanitarian, and economic crisis, we know it’s never been more critical to note these horrors, to remember them, and to do all in our power to reverse them. Various writers have compiled this list during the course of the Trump administration. Their work has been guided by invaluable journalistic resources, including WTFJHT, NPR, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and other sources….
Other stuff. That #45 supporter, and millions like him, claim “That is not who we are,” yet vote for someone Who Is Exactly That. And that’s just as bad – no, it’s worse.
The leaders aren’t the problem; they rarely are. Leaders can do nothing without followers, plus those who claim not to be followers, but are Bystanders and Overlookers.
Charles Manson personally killed no one at the Tate-LaBianca murder scenes; he got his followers to butcher those seven people for him. Perhaps you’ve read about the protestations post-WWII from Italians who claimed not to have supported the policies of their Prime minister, Benito Mussolini, and who thus objected to being called fascists? “The concentration camps and mass killings of civilians in Yugoslavia and Greece – those happened outside our borders; we don’t really know about that. And, yeah, we, like, kinda, sorta, maybe knew that here, in our own country, Mussolini suppressed his opponents, dissenters, and social outsiders via physical assaults, imprisonment, economic deprivation, yada yada yada…. But, he made the trains run on time.” 
“This is not who we are.”
It sucks, massively, to realize the contrary.
And so my thoughts still go to dark places, dragged down by the reality of the complicity of millions of my citizens, plus this HOLY CRAP realization:
Joe and Kamala are stand-up, intelligent, competent, compassionate people, but yikes – look at how many problems they have to fix. What looms largest, exacerbated by #45, are the worldwide effects of global warming. Biden and Harris accept the obvious, hard truths laid out by science, but without a change in the hearts and minds of Republicans in congress, will we have a repeat of the Obama years, when Republicans’ only policy mandate was to counter everything he tried to do? Will they continue to stamp their metaphorical toddlers’ feet and tantrum their way through Biden’s term: “NO, I WON’T WONT WONT WONT PLAY WITH YOU AND YOU CAN’T MAKE ME.”
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Department Of Fun With Misreading Science
Dateline: 11/14, listening to Clear + Vivid podcast, episode Life on Venus? From the podcast’s website, this episode’s description:
She studies what may be the most disgusting molecule known to humankind. And that’s made Clara Sousa-Silva a key member of the team that may have detected life in the clouds of Venus. Her foul (and lethal) molecule has been discovered in those clouds – and the only current explanation for its presence is that it is being made by living organisms.
Podcast Host Alan Alda was asking guest Clara Sousa-Silva (quantum astrochemist  ) about how astronomy professor Jane Greeves contacted Sousa-Silva regarding a phenomenon of interest to both of them:
Alda: “And what prompted her (Greeves) to look for phosphine on Venus?”
Sousa-Silva: “It was a paper that we’d both read that mentioned phosphine association with penguin feces. So it seems like the intestines and excrements of penguins have… a rich, complex anerobic world that is producing phosphine, and there was an article released saying we’ve found phosphine above these places where there’s a lot of penguin poop and I had found that paper and read through every peer-reviewed paper that mentioned phosphine, and I’d collected this body of evidence as phosphine as a bio signature for anaerobic worlds… “
Y’all know what this means –
PENGUINS FOUND ORBITING VENUS ! !
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Department Of 7:45 am Observations While Walking Through The Neighborhood
I see the silhouette in the skies above me, that of a great blue heron flying on to its next destination, whether that be a nearby creek or someone’s backyard koi pond. The bird’s distinctive “fuselage” reminds me of a 747, at least in comparison to two other birds, one dove and one crow, occupying different flight paths below the heron.
Its good to use your imagination.
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Department Of The Standup Routine I’m Not Practicing
Dateline; last Friday. Apropos of nothing (that moiself was aware of), a few minutes after finishing breakfast, I got this flash vision of moiself practicing for a stand-up comedy routine, taking on the persona of a somewhat oblivious and bemused parent. Here was my opening (or closing…or both, depending on how well it would be received) joke:
“The kids these days, with all of their gender-this and sexual-that labels! Most of it goes right over my head.
The other day I caught my teenage son masturbating with a cast iron skillet. Is that what they mean by, ‘pansexual’?”
Yes, I thought that one up all by moiself. I want applause, dammit.
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Pun For The Day
Parallel lines have so much in common; it’s a shame they’ll never meet.
I thought I made it clear – no more math nerd puns!
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Department Of Possibly The Most Useless Question Posed To A Sentient Being…Ever
The following email, with this provocative tempting totally bat shit ridiculous thought-provoking come-on, somehow made it past my spam filter:
“Need eyelash extensions for the holidays?”
Honey, do you think *I* need eyelash extensions?
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May you never be a Bystander, nor an Overlooker; May you realize that you never “need” eyelash extensions, for any occasion; May we all strive to be better than this; …and may the hijinks ensue.
 Except that, he didn’t. Like many dictators, Mussolini “…liked to take credit for everything that went right in Italy, even when it didn’t go that well at all. He was particularly fond of saying he was responsible for successful, large-scale public works projects, such as the railroad system.” (Did Mussolini Really Keep the Trains Running on Time? history.howstuffworks.com )
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
* * *
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!”
* * *
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 !!
* * *
 For a variety of reasons, some discussed in this space, mostly summed up by my disdain for what is happening in that business: ICK.
And by check out, moiself means put down what you’re doing and listen to it, right now. Okay; maybe take a pee break first, if you need to (it runs a wee bit – sorry – less than 45m).
It starts out with a gabby, somewhat potty-mouth banter  between the Reply All host and Resistance podcast producer, the latter who has spent the past year following Warriors in the Garden, a New York City, youth-led activist collection. The story itself is an absolutely chilling account of head-scratching, mind-boggling, Orwellian-level abuse of authority. That the subject of the incident, Derrick Ingram, made it out alive (I don’t wanna give anything away, but I don’t want to scare you off from listening, either) is amazing.
It’s a prime example of “This is why people are protesting and this is *what* they are protesting,” especially for anyone who wonders what the fuss is about.
* * *
Department Of This Guy Is So Observant – He Should Have His Own Blog 
Dateline: last Saturday, breakfast table. MH, reading the previous day’s New York Times, says to moiself, “This headline makes no sense.” The headline in question came from the article, Inspired by Trump, Hasidic Backlash Grows Over Virus Rules; it was actually the sub-headline which he found bemusing:
Orthodox Jewish leaders have seen a growing, raucous faction of young men in the community, tired of pandemic guidelines and resentful of the secular authorities.
“Hasids, tired of guidelines and resentful of authority?” MH shook his head.
That’s, *secular* authority, moiself reminded him. I, too, found the concept ironic, as in, Hello?! Do y’all know we can hear you when you talk?! ridiculous.
Unquestioning compliance with rules and guidelines and adherence to authority is what the Hasidic lifestyle – what any orthodox religious life – is all about. Using the pretext of obedience to their god’s will, the insular Hasidic communities follow rules and regs about what and when they may eat, where they can and cannot live, what language they speak, what clothing they can and cannot and must wear – like the Shtreimel, the bizarre traditional fur hat a Hasidic man dons for religious holidays and festive occasions and those times when a guy just feels like balancing a dead gopher on his head – what they can do for a living, who and when they marry, even when a married couple can and cannot have sex – every aspect of their lives….
But health guidelines meant to protect *every* community from a deadly infectious disease? Dude, that’s asking too much.
“Wear a mask? Oy, that would make us look ludicrous.”
* * *
Department Of Have I Mentioned Before How Serious I Am About This?
What with the looming appointment of yet another antediluvian-minded wacko religious conservative nominee to SCOTUS, the subject of attempts to overturn Roe v. Wade is once again up for social media debate. I like this guy’s pithy phrasing of the reality that some folk still don’t seem to understand, even as many of us – men and women, religious and secular, even a Mormon mother of six – have pointed out that all pregnancies are caused by male ejaculations:
There are, of course, reasons for abortion that do not stem from unplanned/unwanted pregnancies and therefore would not be prevented by preventing irresponsible ejaculations. If you’ve ever known a couple  who’s had to terminate a much-wanted pregnancy due to medical reasons you’ve had a glimpse at the pain involved…and if you think that no one you know has ever been in that situation, as a wise friend said recently, “If you don’t know someone who has had an abortion, it just means you’re the kind of person they wouldn’t tell.”
What with the upcoming election, the ongoing pandemic, the stresses and pressures all of us are dealing with, I often despair at the divisiveness of our political and personal discourse. That said, I’m still going to draw my own dividing line. If you don’t understand this point – if you are a man who favors regulating the bodily autonomy of women but not men (and if you’re a woman with the same opinions, WTF is wrong with you?) and are not willing to just MYOFB on this issue, please, stay away from me, stay away from my husband, my family, my pets, my car, lawn, my recycling bin, my pear tree….
Side note that shouldn’t be a side note, but a main talking point: I’ve witnessed plenty of women being asked if they’d ever had an abortion, but have yet to see a man asked if he’s ever been the *cause* of an abortion.
Let’s change that, shall we?
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Department Of For Those Who Wonder What Is The Concept Of Bodily Autonomy Sub-Department of And For The Rest Of Us Who Think That Women Should Have As Much Or More Bodily Autonomy Than A Corpse
* * *
Different as in, lightening up the subject matter. It’s time to giggle.
* * *
Department Of The Following Joke Is Courtesy Of Sigourney Weaver
Yeah, we’re best buds, didn’t you know? She calls me up to share her latest jokes. The Sigster is quite the gagster, which surprises some people who primarily think of her as a flamethrower-wielding, saving-the-world-from aliens, warrior woman. This jest of hers had me in fits of pig-snorting laughter. 
My doctor told me I have to stop masturbating. I asked, “Why?” She said, “Because I’m trying to examine you.”
* * *
Department Of Trying To Be A Good Citizen….
Even as I don’t like wearing a mask, I alwaysdo when I go out. But they are a problem for me; it seems like I bought about 15 different kinds, trying to get a good fit, but no matter what the style they don’t want to stay around my ears and are always popping off.
Do you remember the “earlobes” lesson? Maybe they don’t use that example in school anymore, but both MH and I remember that, when we were in our high school science classes, two basic human traits were used to introduce students to concepts in genetics: eye color, and earlobe shape.
If earlobes hang free, they are detached. If they connect directly to the sides of the head, they are attached. Free/unattached is the dominant trait. Scientists used to think this trait was controlled by a single gene; thus, it was a good illustrative introduction to genetics, with students having fun comparing earlobes, and going home and doing the same with their parents and siblings. Nowadays, geneticists think it is likely that several genes contribute to this trait.
MH said that my attached earlobes make it difficult for the mask strings to get a good hold. I’d completely forgotten that moiself has attached earlobes, until MH was helping me with a stubborn mask, and pointed that out. I had to pout for a moment.
I HAVE A GENETIC DISABILITY.
I WANT MY OWN PARKING SPACE, DAMMIT.
* * *
Pun For The Day
Never trust atoms – they make up everything.
“I swear, one more bad science pun and….”
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Department Of Just Thinkin’
On my early morning walks, I listen to podcasts. When a podcast ends, depending on its length/how many minutes I have before I return home, moiself either tunes in to another podcast or switches to some music.
I’ve noticed that I walk faster, with the proverbial spring in my step, when music is coming through my earbuds. Occasionally I wonder if someone walking behind or towards moiselfwould notice the difference:
“Look at her – The Fresh Air interview must have ended and now she’s listening to The Go-Gos….”
Who could resist bopping to that?
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Department Of Th-Th-Th-That’s All, Folks
Among the many observations of #45 which are supposed to be character- revealing is the fact that he is the first president since James Polk (over 170 years ago!) who has not kept a pet while in the White House.
Not true, sez moiself. What about his lap dog, William Barr?
* * *
May you have more bodily autonomy than a corpse; May you take pity (but not patronizingly so) on we recessive freaks of nature who have attached earlobes; May you remember that, when it comes to boppin’ out to The Go-Gos, resistance is futile; …and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 But why the fuck would anyone who reads this blog object to that shit?
 Or, at least he should get mentioned in several footnotes.
 Or you yourself have been part of that couple.
 Okay, so I actually saw this on a NY Times link to famous people telling jokes…but I want Sigourney to know I would be a good audience for her humor, and we should hang out, some time soon. Unless she has a problem with PWAE (People With Attached Earlobes).
Now I know I’ve given up: I put away the St. Patrick’s Day dinner decorations.
Moiselfand MH had a dinner party planned for Tuesday, March 17, an event that – surprise! – got…suspended. At the time, I told would-be attendees that we were, in an act of delusion optimism, not cancelling the invitation but merely postponing it, and that I would be leaving the dining table decorated. And I did, for two months. Then, gradually, the napkins and plates were put away, and I put the table décor, such as it is/was (think: an eight-year-old’s idea of festive holiday dining), into its long term storage bag but did NOT transport it to its shelf in the attic. It remained on the table, until three days ago.
Instead of deleting the reminder I had on my computer calendar (“Rsch St. Patrick’s day dinner when COVID shit is over”) I have reduced its occurrence from weekly to every other month. The computer prompt, initially a hopeful harbinger of a return to normalcy, came to be a dispiriting reminder of physical isolation: I miss the company of dining and conversing with friends, both long time and recently met, all treasured, and groaning at each recitation of a dreadful (but occasion-appropriate) joke and pun. 
All apologies to the centerpiece: Good Lady Spud, your time shall come again.
* * *
Department Of The Title I Want When I Grow Up
…I’ve carved out this little niche for myself on the internet…
because as we all know, the easiest way to be at the top of your field is to choose a very small field.” (inventor Simone Giertz, in her TED talk)
Dateline: Monday; listening to a TED Radio Hour episode, titled “Pure Joy.” A description of the episode, as per the TEDsite:
More than ever, we need to make time for joy. This hour…(we)…explore talks that surprise, inspire, and delight.
The first talk excerpted was one given two years ago by Simone Giertz. Twenty-nine-year-old Giertz, the creator of the toothbrush helmet,  is a Swedish inventor and robotics enthusiast. She’s also, and perhaps most prestigiously for her generation, that which most generations never imagined would be a thing: she is a YouTube celebrity ®.
In her talk, “Why You Should Make Useless Things,” Giertz apparently advocates for inventing devices which are “useless at solving the problem they are attempting to solve,” but which serve a higher purpose of overcoming your fear of failure (by working hard at something you know is bound to fail) and teaching you engineering and design skills. I say “apparently” because I was unable, or rather unwilling, to listen to the rest of her talk, after hearing the podcast curator describe Giertz as
“…the queen of useless robots.”
Overcome with both admiration and envy, moiself completely lost interest in listening further. I figured it was better to let my imagination take the wheel as I envisioned the perks and responsibilities of that particular kind of royalty.
“…uneasy is the head that wears a crown” …unless of course that head belongs to The Queen of Useless Robots.
* * *
Department of The Neighborhood Guerilla Prankster Strikes Again… In Her Dreams
There’s a house a couple of blocks away from my street with an attached, two-door, three-car garage set up:
An older couple lives in said house. Depending on the route I take, I often walk past the house in the morning, and I’ve seen it with either or both garage doors open; thus, moiself knows that the smaller, one-car garage is not used as a garage but has been turned into the workshop space of the older gentleman. When the workshop/garage door is open you can see the tool racks and radial saw and other workshop equipment; when the workshop/garage door is closed, you can see a sign on it which reads, MEN ONLY.
When I first saw the sign, and then every time I walked past the house, moiself had the almost overwhelming desire to take a picture of it, then take the picture to a signage shop and order a self-adhesive sign in similar lettering, color and size that read: GIRLY. The plan: early one morning, I would post GIRLYabove MEN ONLY.
Alas; the time for that prank has passed. I recently noticed that the exterior of the house (including the garage doors) has been painted, and the MEN ONLY sign has not reappeared on the garage door. Still, I think of it when I pass that house, and remind moiself of the ultimate reason I decided against enacting my prank: the ubiquity, nowadays, of cell phones and home security cameras. Ending up on someone’s YouTube shaming video is not something I crave for moiself, even in the performance of (what would have been) a public service.
* * *
Department Of Just Wondering
Due to the wildfires plaguing the West, I am checking the Air Quality Index several times daily – even though a cursory look out of my house’s (all tightly closed) windows tells me all I need to know about whether or not it’s safe to go outside.
How quickly I and my friends have adapted to using yet another acronym:
“So, what’s the AQI in your town?”
This is so surreal. The air where I live has been smoky-jaundice-colored; the pictures I’ve seen of the Bay Area’s midday, sci-fi/Martian orange skies have a certain, apocalyptic beauty, even as I realized the horrific reasons behind them that had nothing to do with a more benign reason, such as a particularly flamboyant sunset or sunrise. 
In my early morning walks (the ones I used to do before our AQI was at Hazardouslevel – the carefree mornings before I even knew what an AQI was) I pass by several houses where I often see a smoker out on his front porch, lighting up his first deathstick cigarette of the day. Actually, I smell the smokers before moiself sees them – even from across the street. I’ve come to know which houses they live in and cross to the other side before passing by. (Most smokers seem to not know – or care – how far their effluence travels and how long it lingers.)
From having exchanged pleasantries with them over the years, I know that the main reason these folks are lighting up on their porches is because they are the only smoker in their household, and they’ve been forbidden by their spouses and/or other family members from polluting their domicile and have been banished to puffing in The Great Outdoors ® .
I haven’t done a morning walk since the AQI reached the first level of Unhealthy…even though I didn’t know it had done so at the time. I’d gone out earlier than usual and wore a mask; it was the first morning where the sky looked…suspicious. I decided to end my walk after 30 minutes, and thought I probably shouldn’t walk outside again until I figured out what was going on. On my way back I passed by two of the Porch Smokers, the glowing ends of their cigarettes providing an eerie impetus for me to get back home.
Our current situation: we’ve been warned about the wildfires near and far, spewing particulate matter in the air which, at an AQI in the upper ranges (which we’ve been having in the Pacific NW for days), can aggravate or trigger serious respiratory conditions in otherwise healthy people, even with relatively short exposure.
So, when smokers awaken, and eagerly or furtively inhale the day’s first fumes into their lungs, moiself can’t help but wonder: what’s being circulated in the organ between their ears? Amidst the reports of the wildfire’s devastation – it’s been all wildfires, all the time, for local news reporting – including the loss of life from burns and smoke inhalation, do they consider even for a moment the fires’ victims? Do they find their eyes tearing up with compassion as they think to themselves, “Oh, how awful! Those poor people!”as they suck in their own mini-conflagration?
While we live with the warnings to not go outside even for short periods of time because breathing the air could sicken or even kill you, and smokers continue to expedite that process by lighting up their cigarettes.
We humans are experts at compartmentalization and denial…and, yeah yeah yeah, nicotine is one of the most addictive substance on earth, and addicts are not known for rationality and or introspection thoughts…. Still, it boggles my mind.
The Great American Smokeout, the American Cancer Society’s annual “quitting campaign,” is on the third Thursday in November. The Not-so-Great American Smoke-In is happening as I type. Aaaaaarrrrrggggghhhhh.
* * *
Department Of, Of All The Things To Be Thinking About….
2020. The year that, on a national and global shitstorm level, has brought us:
* Year three of criminally negligent governance by a musty scrotal hair of a human being (#45) and his soul-sucking sycophants;
* Too many Americans determined to focus on someone looting a 7-11 rather than face the centuries of systemic injustice which have prompted the (majority peaceful) displays of civil disobedience;
* the apocalyptic wildfires in the US, yet another testament to the consequences of ignoring of global warming…
Thank you, and please demoralize us further.
On a personal level,  my concerns include a friend who fled the wildfires (her town is essentially gone; her neighbors have lost nearly everything); my daughter Belle who, recovering from foot surgery, has developed an allergy to medical adhesives holding her bandages in place; MH’s “sister/cousin”  and her protracted recovery from the heart surgeryand kidney failure after she and her young adult daughter discovered they both have a genetic disorder which has given them, among other conditions, aortal defects; learning that the son of my MIL’s longtime friend and business associate has just lost his son to suicide….
Two days ago, amidst all of these woes and more, I found moiself thinking,
The beloved comedian/writer/screenwriter/playwright/songwriter/director and WWII vet has seen so much in this world, and contributed so much to our culture…and now here’s this shitty year in which Mel had to mourn the death of his best buddy – another national comedy treasure, Carl Reiner.
I just want Mr. Brooks to be able to survive this year. I would so look forward to his commentary on all of this, you know?
Two of my favorite scenes from my favorite Mel Brooks movie:
* * *
Pun For The Day
The past, the present, and the future walk into a bar. It was tense! 
* * *
May we work for the best (even if we suspect the worst); May we return to the privilege of not knowing our AQI; May we all be deserving of even the most obscure royal title; …and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 “What do you call an Irishman with an IQ of 100? A village.”
 A device which you have never heard of because it is “recommended by zero out of ten dentists,” the inventor admits.
 Henry IV, Part 2. I don’t imagine Shakespeare imagined just how heavy – or silly – crowns could get.
 Ash higher in the atmosphere turned the Bay Area skies orange, as opposed to around me, where the smoke was lower. If I can remember some basic physics/light refraction, I think this has to do with the high ash/smoke particles scattering blue light & only allowing certain wavelengths of light – yellow-orange-red light – to reach the earth’s surface.
 This not some Mormon polygamy term; rather, she is cousin who is more than a cousin but not technically a sister – she came to live with MH’s family when she was an adolescent, after both of her parents died.
 I’m sorry, but there is no room for a seventh footnote.
Department Ah, Morning, With The Delicate Aroma Of Horseshit Wafting Through The Air Sub Department Of Yet Another Reason Not To Check Facebook Before Breakfast
A wise and witty friend recently posted this on her FB site:
Right on!, moiself thought. I began to read one of the comments on her post, one which started with a teensy provocative sentence, and then, there was that blue more…
I should have left it at that, but, noooooooo. I had to click on more, and there was more. And more, and more, and more – and did I mention, *more*?
*More* turned out to be a multi-paragraph treatise of Buddhist proselytizing, starting with how we should remember that there are also poor and downtrodden white people  who don’t feel particularly privileged (which should have clued me in – it’s the, “But, all lives matter!” equivalent of deflection from the issue), and how people’s choices and actions in life lead to their circumstances, plus many other Buddhist tenets…. 
At least it wasn’t pimply-faced kids half your age showing up on your front porch, calling themselves, “Elder.”
I thought about privately messaging Wise and Witty Friend, something along the lines of, Hey, WWF, would you allow someone to post a fundamentalist Christian tract on your page, because some Karma fundamentalist has just done the equivalent. It turns out WWF was way ahead of me, and deleted the comment soon after it was posted. Dang. Now I have to slag it from memory.
BTW, be it the Christian version, or Buddhist/Hindu/Karmic fundamentalism, I call BS on all of ’em. So, let the specific slagging begin.
The Buddhist Evangelical Fundamentalist Commenter (BEFC) quoted a Buddhist adage:
Sweet, and harmless, right?
Wrong. Especially as per the issues of privilege and systemic racism that the Black Lives Matter movement is bringing to the fore…as well as a host of other life situations.
As I read BEFC’s proselytizing prose I flashed back to a bar conversation I’d had many years ago,  with a friend who’d emigrated to the USA (with his parents) from India when he was an adolescent. We were  talking religion; specifically, his refutation of his religious background (although, in part to please his family, he kept up with a few of what he considered to be non-religious, cultural practices). He simply could not overlook the damage done by the concepts of karma and reincarnation (central to both Hinduism and Buddhism).
Karma…though its specifics are different depending on the religion… generally denotes the cycle of cause and effect — each action a person takes will affect him or her at some time in the future. This rule also applies to a person’s thoughts and words…. With karma, like causes produce like effects: a good deed will lead to a future beneficial effect, while a bad deed will lead to a future harmful effect…. Importantly, karma is wrapped up with the concept of reincarnation or rebirth, in which a person is born in a new human (or nonhuman) body after death. The effects of an action can therefore be visited upon a person in a future life, and the good or bad fortune someone experiences may be the result of actions performed in past lives. What’s more, a person’s karmic sum will decide the form he or she takes in the next life. (LiveScience, “What is Karma?”)
To summarize an hour-long discourse, the gist of my friend’s opinion: Besides being superstitious nonsense physically and intellectually unsubstantiated, karma essentially credits people for their successes and blames them for their failures. Your success is justified because it is either something you have achieved yourself in the here and now or it is the result of your good deeds in your previous life – the fact that you happened to be born in a powerful class/caste/gender/time period can be conveniently ignored. As for that poor Dalit (aka, “Untouchable“) man you sometimes run across, who does your laundry, sweeps your streets, unblocks your sewers with this bare hands and does other “unclean” work out of economic necessity? Yeah, that’s unfortunate for him, but who are you to interfere with his experience of cause and effect? It’s his karma; obviously, he did something bad in his previous life and/or has something to work out in this one….
There are so many Life Factors we humans don’t – or don’t wish to – understand (or even acknowledge), including those of luck and circumstance. In particular, people who are happy and successful are often hesitant to attribute their well-off circumstances, even in part, to the happenstance of their birth into the “right” (or at least more opportunity-providing) society/class/ethnicity/gender. People can be reluctant, even nervous, to admit that not everything is in their own control. This reluctance paves the way for religion/supernaturalism to step in with, “Don’t worry – here’s the answer!” or, “Sure, there *is* an answer, but it’s too much for mere mortal minds to comprehend so just trust in what we tell you and one day in the future/heaven/your next life you’ll get it….”
As to BEFC’s presentation, certainly the attitude embodied in the Buddhist saying (about the journey from blaming others, yourself, and then no one), has some merit, in the positive mindset/know thyself realm. But to avoid the fact that some things are mostly or even entirely out of your hand, and that sometimes other people and/or social frameworks and institutions *are* to blame – ignoring reality is not how we combat injustice.
The karma concept has always reminded me of a much-loathed – by moiself, at least – allegedly inspirational phrase from my own culture, which states that it is admirable and possible to Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps. The thing is, in order to pull yourself up by your own bootstraps, you have to have a pair of boots in the first place – you either can afford a pair of boots, or someone has given you boots. With straps.
Although I’m onboard with RuPaul pulling up any boot with any kind of strap.
A Black American family, working and saving diligently to be first-time home owners, can have the most positive attitude in the world, but when their mortgage application is denied, their “blaming no one” will not help them “arrive” on their journey to financial security when that loan denial is due to reasons out of their control.  “Blaming no one” will not alleviate the injustice when the family has been redlined, due to their skin color and/or the neighborhood in which they currently live and/or the neighborhood where the house they wish to purchase is located.
The concept of karma arose and survived because, like all religious philosophies, it tries to explain the unexplainable, and many of us are uncomfortable with uncertainty. Life is complex; there is much we don’t understand, about the physical world around us and the inner world of people’s thoughts motivations, and humans evolved to see and seek patterns even where none exist. But worldviews which admit to this reality – “Hey, this stuff is complicated and no one has all the answers” – don’t get many followers (and even fewer collection plate donations and tax credits).
Ah, karma. “What goes around comes around“…if only. Don’t we all know too many people whose actions merit shit pie, yet Life keeps serving them Crème Brûlée?
“For every action there is an equal and opposite re-action”
Karma and other religious principles are sometimes quoted as if they were one of Newton’s Laws of Motion, yet they are not even close to qualifying as laws of physics, let alone testable hypotheses. The karmic premises of cause and effect –
“each action (as well as a person’s thoughts and words) a person takes will affect him or her at some time in the future,” and “like causes produce like effects”
(1) presumptuous; (2) not borne out by objective data, and often refuted by experience; (3) antithetical to the reality of injustice and systemic bigotry; (4) aren’t the first three reasons enough?
Most abhorrent of all, whether you call it karma or one of those other, “You can do whatever you dream/You make your own reality” philosophies, such concepts lay the foundation for victim-blaming.
“… the accused had entered the West Delhi residence of the minor with the intent to ransack, but attacked (a 12-year-old girl) after she spotted him….
Besides the sexual assault, the girl was hit on the face and head with a sharp object. She was found lying in a pool of blood by her neighbours….
The girl has multiple head fractures and bite marks all over her body. She has been brutally assaulted to the extent that there are injury marks on every part of her body….” (“Two days after 12-year-old beaten, sexually assaulted, one held Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who visited the hospital, said the brutality inflicted on the girl has “shaken is soul” and the government will hire the best lawyers to bring the guilty to justice.” Indianexpress.com)
Two disturbing facts of life are that (1) sometimes people chose to do bad things and good people can simply be in the wrong place at the wrong time; and (2) cultural/gender privilege and systemic bias exist. But people won’t try to change that which they won’t acknowledge as existing…or which can be explained away by concepts like karma.
The white 16-year-old by pulled over by a cop for a minor traffic infraction (then let go with a warning) has the privilege of escaping violent stereotypes associated with his race, in a way that his 16-year-old Black classmate – pulled over for the same infraction yet subjected to an unwarranted drug test/vehicle and body search by the suspicious cop – does not. Neither boy is experiencing the “karma” – or “cause and effect” – of their own relatively short lives; rather, their immediate circumstances are determined by the biases of others who hold power over them.
Nothing that 12-year-old girl (in the above news story) did or could ever do is responsible for or related to the brutality which was done to her. Anyone who would even entertain a mindset which would allow for that possibility needs to wash out their mind with soap.
* * *
Departments Of Exceptions To The Rule
Moiself is, however, grateful for whomever dreamed up the concept of karma, if only for the fact that it (eventually) led to one of the best “The Far Side” cartoons, ever.
I wasn’t able to find the cartoon itself, so use your imagination. First, picture the silhouette of a classic Far Side Woman. ®
The cartoon consists of a single panel: two flies are on a refrigerator door. Looming over and behind them we see the shadow of Far Side Woman ®, her upraised arm holding a fly swatter. One fly says to the other,
“I guess I should have been nicer to my wife when I was alive;
this is the third time I’ve been reincarnated as a fly in her kitchen.”
* * *
Department Of Idiocy Makes My Brain Hurt Sub-Department Of Let’s Just Cancel those Pesky Qualities of Imagination And Empathy, Part 102.7 In A Contemptibly Long Series Adjunct to the Sub-Sub Division Of Why My Own Profession Has Left A Bad Taste In My Mouth For Years
One of the worst things for writers is not to be censored, but to self-censor in fear of crossing the sensibilities and preferences of others.
I’ve written before of my frustration with and loathing for the “cultural appropriation” tribalism/mob mentality that has infected the world of literary fiction…and I’ll doubtless have cause to lament about it again. The latest instigation was a Fresh Air interview (a rerun, which I heard for the first time, this week) with actor/producer Kerry Washington.
Washington has been nominated for Emmy awards for acting in and co-producing the series, “Little Fires Everywhere,” which was adapted from the bestselling novel by Celeste Ng. Washington is Black; in the novel, the ethnicity of Mia, the character Washington plays, is never mentioned. Podcast host Terry Gross asked Washington how changing the character’s race changed the story and the story’s subtext. Washington said that casting herself in the role was the idea of her producing partners.
Washington (my emphases):
“…They had the idea to call me up and send me the book and ask me if I wanted to do it. And I thought it was an amazing idea. Of course, when I read it, I was reading it through the lens of Mia being Black because I’m Black. I think the novel is so much about identity and how the roles and the context of our identity contributes to how we live and relate to others in the world. So we knew that adding this layer of race would add to that complexity in an exciting way.
Then when I met Celeste Ng, the writer, for the first time, she actually admitted to me that she had always thought of Mia as a woman of color and that she had been drawn to the idea of writing Mia as a Black woman. But she didn’t feel like she had the authoritative voice to do that in the right way.”
I felt sucker-punched to hear that…yet I was hardly surprised. I’ve little doubt that author Ng’s hesitation about her “authoritative voice” was due to her anticipating charges of cultural appropriation (and the very real possibility of being boycotted by publishers, who would fear such a backlash): as in, how dare Ng think that she, an Asian (read: non-Black) writer, could create a full-blooded, multi-faceted, Black character?
* Although the Asian-American author imagined a Black woman as this lead character, she couldn’t bring herself to actually write her as such;
* Nevertheless, this Asian/non-Black writer was so successful in creating a compelling story about “identity and how the roles and the context of our identity contributes to how we live and relate to others in the world” that a Black actor could identify with this lead character as Black;
* And it was acceptable for the series’ casting director and other lead actor and producers to suggest casting the character as Black, and the Black actor allowed herself to take the role (“an amazing idea”), which was created by an Asian, non-Black writer….
* * *
Department Of Worst First (and last) Date Ever
Dateline: an early morning walk, listening to a Curiosity Daily (“a unique mix of research-based life hacks, the latest science and technology news”). One of the podcast’s topics was how male angler fish fuse with their mates without risking immune system rejection.
Narration: “… (the) male angler fish latches on, and begins to dissolve. As his tissues and circulatory system meld with the female’s, eventually most of his body parts and organs disintegrate, leaving his girl with only a pair of reproductive organs to remember him by. This is called sexual parasitism, and it’s totally unique to the anglerfish…”
Moiself : ” ‘Sexual parasitism is unique to the angler fish’ ” – really? ‘Cause I’ve heard stories from friends that would curl your hair (or dissolve your organs)….”
I’m thinking, is there a Barry White song which could possibly make this kind of coupling bearable? Nope; nada. Gotta be something more post-punk….
* * *
Department Of News Stories Like This Make Moiself Struggle With My Humanity… Because I Am *So* On The Side Of The First Victim
This post, earlier this week on Facebook, from an Oregon Coast news bulletin board:
HUNTER KILLED BY ELK ” (Man, name; age, residence) was archery hunting on private property…. Man wounded a 5X5 bull elk but was unable to locate it before dark. Man and the landowner attempted to find the wounded bull on the morning of (the next day) at approximately 9:15 A.M., Man located the bull and attempted to kill it with his bow. The elk charged Man and gored him in the neck with its antlers. The landowner attempted to help Man but he sustained fatal injuries and died. The elk was killed and the meat was donated to the Tillamook County Jail….”
The lead sentence (which I omitted) in the post was, “Please send prayers for the family!” Moiself’s instinctive (if admittedly unsympathetic) reaction was, “F*** no; he got what he deserved! The elk was tortured, wandering for over 12 hours with a grievous wound….”
It was nice (? perhaps moiself should seek another word) to realize, as per several comments on the article, that I was not the only heartless judgmental bastard person concerned with the issue behind the issue:
* for the elk, this was literally a matter of life and death
* for the hunter, it was sport, and maybe some tasty elk steaks for the freezer 
Along with the posts saying, “Prayers to the deceased and his family”, I spotted several comments along the lines of, “Prayers for the poor elk’s family & friends.”
Whaddya think – would I look just as majestic decapitated and mounted above someone’s fireplace?
* * *
May you enjoy the exceptions to the rules; May you cherish the simple windfalls of life, like not having an angler fish for a mate; May you never give an elk (or any other animal) cause to think, “It’s him or me!”; …and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 Nothing about the concept of white privilege claims or implies that there are no poor/struggling white folk….arrrrrrgh.
 With which I was mostly familiar, although there are several streams of Buddhist thought, and without the original post I cannot say for sure if the post-er was referencing Mahayana, Theravada, Vajrayana, or modern variants and “branches” of the those streams.
 As in, Wine and Deep Thoughts ® were involved.
 Part of our conversation included the fact that, by even acknowledging the Indian caste system, he might be creating “bad karma” for himself, as many higher-caste Indians who now live in America – and if they have the means to come here they are from the higher castes – surprise! – would rather pretend, in front of non-Indian Americans, that such a thing goes not exist. The social stratification of Indian society – including the emphasis of skin color and the bias against dark skin – is seen as an embarrassing cultural relic, yet, since it benefits them…why work to change it?
 With the emphasis on sport. Subsistence hunters don’t go for elk with bows and arrows on their landowner friend’s private acreage, and don’t care if it the animal they hunt, out of absolute necessity, is a “5×5″( a ranking system which refers to the points in each side of the antler rack).
Dateline: Wednesday, circa 4pm, outside a grocery store. A woman who exited the store ahead of me scurries to a spot around 30 feet from the store’s exit door. She pulls a cigarette and lighter from her purse, pulls down her mask and lights up. She proceeds to take several long, desperate drags of the cigarette, pulling her mask up inbetween, in a bizarre ritual: lower mask; suck on her death sticks; exhale; raise mask; wait five seconds; repeat.
Lady, just take down your mask, go into a filthy public restroom, run your bare hands over every surface and then touch your hands to your face and mouth and rub your eyes. Get it over with.
Celebrities like Ben Affleck won’t let a pesky pandemic stop their slow suicide, so why should she?
* * *
Department of Yep, This.
* * *
Department Of My Defund The Police Story
In the ongoing Defund the Police ® debate, some folks declare that an alternative phrase for police reform is needed. It seems that too many (white) people read or hear “defund” and lose their shit react defensively. They interpret “defund” as doing away with police forces entirely, instead of the how the term is used by reform activists: as shorthand for reallocating funds from police departments to non-policing forms of public safety and community support, (e.g. social, mental health, housing and education services).
Moiself has heard this defensive reaction explained along these lines:
White people get defensive and even frightened at that notion (doing away with police) because white people associate police with security, in ways that communities of color, because of their collective history with aggressive and discriminatory policing, do not.
Sometime in the late 1970s-early 1980s, I read a feature article in a So Cal newspaper about police officer recruitment. Police chiefs were just starting to realize that for community policing to be effective the police force needed to be representative of all members of the community. Given the rising number of Vietnamese immigrants in So Cal, local police departments were trying, and mostly failing, to recruit Vietnamese-Americans. The reason for that failure was not apparent to the majority white police staff, until a cultural liaison enlightened them:
The police forces in Vietnam, and several other Asian countries, were considered to be corrupt, and the average Southeast Asian immigrant’s contact with them had been unpleasant. Thus, young Asian men  who might have been interested in being recruited were discouraged from doing so by their parents, who thought policing a dishonorable profession.
There’s a very basic lesson here: your experiences color your perception.
Yep, that seems evident on a Psychology 101 level. Moiself thinks it’s a bit more far-reaching than that, and ties into the Black Lives Matter movement in a variety of ways and from a variety of perspectives…including the one I am about to share here.
Little known fact about moiself: from about my 5th to 8th grade years, I hated and feared the police. I held particular fear and loathing for men I suspected were undercover cops in unmarked cars. This is because of an experience I had….
Translation: there is a story to be told.
Key elements of this story (“The Wagner Incident”) became much beloved by my family as the years past. My parents in particular loved for my older sister and I to recall the tale, and I always obliged. However, most of my family never knew that I was actually quite traumatized by what happened.
There is (unfortunately or yee-haw! depending on your enjoyment of background information) stage-setting to be done, for this Drama of Shakespearean Importance. 
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, my family lived in a house on Martha Lane in Santa Ana (CA). Martha Lane extended west from a major thoroughfare down to a cross-street (Pacific Ave.) which led to the local community college.  Across Pacific Ave., Martha Lane continued as a cul-de-sac, where my family’s house was located. 
The Wagners were an older couple  whose house was on the main part of Martha Lane (ML). The Wagners had gained a reputation – not a good one – among the other denizens of ML. Mr. Wagner, occasionally accompanied by Mrs. Wagner, walked their massive dog twice daily around the neighborhood. They made of one or two loops around the main portion of ML (they did not cross the street to the cul-de-sac), and they let their dog defecate on other people’s lawns. They made no attempt to pick it up the droppings or at least “curb” their dog; they let him go where he wanted to go. 
Some of the neighbors began to come out of their houses and speak to Mr. Wagner as he made his rounds. At first they politely suggested – then, as time passed and the poop accumulated, they increasingly and more frustratingly demanded – that the Wagners’ dog should do its doggie business at their own home, and not foul other people’s property. The Wagners ignored all such requests, with Mr. Wagner on a couple of such occasions responding with strongly-worded suggestions as to what the other homeowners could do with his dog’s “business.”
Petty, inconsiderate neighbor shit, so to speak, right? Nothing either novel or earth-shattering.
There were other actions the Wagners took that, looking back, seemed almost intentionally aimed at making them the scourge of the neighborhood. It was as if the Wagners got some kind of petty pleasure in taunting their neighbors, in particular, the Young People ®. I can find no other explanation for their behavior.
As a Girl Scout, moiself had the twice-a-year fundraising duties (which I loathed) of going from house to house in my neighborhood, peddling Girl Scout Cookies in the spring and Girl Scout Calenders  in the fall. The Wagners did not have a no solicitingsign on their porch; nevertheless, the first time I rang their doorbell on behalf of the Scouts I received a very snooty dismissal from Mrs. Wagner, when a simple, “We’re not interested” would have sufficed. The second (and last) time I approached their house as a Girl Scout (having forgotten about the first incident, since six months had passed), Mrs. Wagner apparently saw me coming, and couldn’t wait until I set foot on her porch to reject my sales pitch. Before I’d taken three steps from the sidewalk to her driveway her front door flew open and she came barreling out of her house. Her voluminous bat wings shook along with her index finger, which she waggled at me while she bellowed about how she didn’t want to buy anything.
I fled the Wagner driveway with as much dignity as I could muster. Later, I compared stories with other neighborhood kids, whom, I discovered, had experienced similar treatment when they were seeking donations for, say, a school paper drive or other charities. The next time I had to do my GS soliciting I remembered my lesson, and as I left the porch of the house *before* the Wagners’ I proceeded on to the house *after* the Wagners’. As I did so, Mrs. Wagner once again came charging out of the house into her driveway – how strange, I later thought, as she must have been sitting by her front window, just waiting for…what? For a youngster to yell at? – and proceeded to berate me. Apparently, I was a stand-in for all the neighborhood children, as she began her rant with, “YOU KIDS….” I hadn’t even made the slightest indication of stopping at her house – I was just walking past it, on the sidewalk!
At least she wasn’t armed with a garden hose.
Sharing and comparing stories – that’s what kids in a ‘hood do. As the years passed the older kids began to compile a hefty dossier of Wagner Incidents, many of them involving the holidays. A few neighbors told about “Christmas incidents,” stories I cannot now recall,  and every July 4 we heard about how the Wagners did their own fireworks in the street in front of their house, then loudly complained if their next door or across-the-street neighbor’s – in particular, their neighbor’s children or grandchildren – did the same…or just yelled at teens who were walking on the other side of the street, on their way to a friend’s family’s fireworks party.
October 31 seemed to bring out the worst (or weirdest) in the Wagners. On Halloween night the Wagners always turned their porch light on and hung Halloween decorations on their front door, then were randomly and mystifyingly rude to the kids who rang their doorbell. In our neighborhood the trick-or-treaters tended to go in groups of four or more children; the Wagners would often single out someone in your group, make disparaging remarks about a costume they didn’t like, then give candy to some kids and not to others. Sometimes, as if on a whim, they would answer the doorbell, refuse to give candy (from the big jar they had on display) to anyone, and shoo your entire group off their porch. 
Like many grade school-aged children, I found the world of adults both baffling and boring. Unless a home contained children of my or my siblings’ ages, I didn’t pay much attention as to who lived in what house on my block. It took a couple of years for it to sink in: you don’t go to the Wagner‘s house for Halloween…or anything else.
Can you guess what kind of attitude among the neighbors, in particular among the youth of Martha Lane, was engendered by the Wagners, toward the Wagners?
“I knew you could, boys and girls.”
There were many more incidents that my older sister and her friends shared with moiselfand my friends. Slowly but surely, a vendetta arose. The older kids in the neighborhood had had it with the Wagners, and conspired to tease them at every opportunity.
My older sister and her friend rewrote lyrics to the tune of, “We Love You Conrad,” (a song from the Broadway musical, Bye Bye Birdie):
♫ We hate you Wagners Oh yes we do We don’t hate anyone like you When you are near us, P.U.! Oh Wagners we hate you. ♫
Yeah; I know – hardly cutting-edge satire. Still, I thought my sister and her friend were so clever when sang me that song, and they were obviously proud of themselves. They taught the song to all the neighborhood kids, and made us all vow to sing it at any Wagner-sighting opportunity.
Things escalated, as they say, from there.
Early one hot summer night a bunch of us ML kids were hanging out on the corner of Pacific and ML, negotiating which chase/tag game we would play that evening (Green Monster? Hide n’ Seek?) We spotted Mrs. Wagner up the street, identifiable from even 200 feet away by her towering, glow-in-the-dark white beehive hairdo and imperious, waddling stride. She was walking her dog, and one of us in the group – I can’t remember who but it might have been me or my older sister – had the brilliant idea to begin humming the Miss America theme song:
♫ There she is…Miss America…
There she is, your ideal…. ♫
Silly stuff – hardly the material of celebrity stalking lawsuits. Even so, it apparently put a burr under Mrs. Wagner’s saddle (or that ridiculous beehive). Unbeknownst to us kids, when Mrs. Wagner returned home she told her husband what we kids had done, and he called the police and insisted they open a harassment investigation.
We hummed the Miss America song – that’s what put them over the edge? We didn’t even sing the words.
Also unbeknownst – to me, at that time – were other incidences of kids taking revenge on the Wagners. Some older teens who lived on the main section of ML had, with their parents’ knowledge and approval, saved some of the “droppings” the Wagner’s dog left on their lawn. After accumulating several days’ worth, the kids delivered shovelfuls of feces to the Wagner’s lawn. When this failed to deter Mr. Wagner from his dog walking/dumping, on July Fourth one family’s teenage son played the proverbial, flaming-sack-of-poop prank on the Wagner’s front porch. 
That and other incidences enabled the Wagners to convince the police to open a harassment file…or a case…or whatever it was.
“Martha Lane Kids v. Wagner” ? – what is this bullshit, Danno?
So. This “case” was going on, without my knowledge.
Then, one day….
I’ve always wanted to say that.
The story continues, in next week’s post.
* * *
May you get to say something you’ve always wanted to say; May you be mindful of how petty neighborhood disputes can escalate; May you bear with me until next week; …and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 And it was only men who were being recruited, at that time.
 Those two portions of Martha Lane no longer exist. Under eminent domain, the community college took over the properties in the early 1980s. In archetypical, SoCal development fashion, the area where my family house once stood is now a parking lot.
 Do people still use that term? For the young ‘uns who may be unfamiliar with it, to curb one’s dog involved pulling it off the curb – away from someone’s lawn or sidewalk – and making it poop in the street gutter.
 Anyone remember those? The Girl Scouts stopped selling them in 2008.
 The Wagners scared off Santa’s reindeer with a shotgun? Nothing would surprise me.
 But they would leave the porch light on – the universal sign of “open for business” for trick-or-treaters – and answer the doorbell when the next group of kids came by. Yep, we watched, to see what happened.
 He filled a brown paper bag with the Wagner’s dog’s droppings, put the bag on the Wagner’s front porch, set it afire, rang their doorbell, and hauled ass up the block. And yes, when Mr. Wagner answered the doorbell he attempted to stamp out the flames….
The Democratic convention’s pandemic-mindful/physical distancing states’ roll call (in its entirety, here ) – how delightful was that? The usual political party convention roll call, with the delegates dressed basically the same (we can wear three colors – can you guess what they are?) and wearing those ridiculous straw boater hats, some of which look to be made of styrofoam….it’s beyond boring.
Well hellooooo, ladies.
Moiself sez let’s do it this way from now on, pandemic or not. We got a brief glimpse into the states’ – and US territories’ – terrain as well as character,  with a few surprises, too. Rhode Island calamari – that’s even a thing? Who knew?
* * *
Department Of Which Is The More Accurate Adjective?
What the radio podcast host said: ” (name)…is a board-licensed professional counselor.”
What moiself heard; “(name) …is a bored, licensed professional counselor.”
* * *
Department Of If Given My Druthers, I’d Like To Leave The Civics Lesson To Someone Else
What, BTW, are druthers? In the various idiomatic expressions which use the word, it does seem to be a positive thing. Do I have to wait to be given them, by someone else, or can I get or earn them on my own? 
If it were in my power, I would give all of you your druthers. Wouldn’t it be great if druthers turned out to be something like this:
Once again, I digress.
Moiself is thrilled with Joe Biden’s choice of a running mate. During the Democratic debates, a California friend (MM) and I were exchanging ideas/compliments about the various candidates. In MM’s opinion Sen. Harris, besides being experienced and intelligent and a razor-sharp questioner during Senate hearings, was also not the kind to put up with crap or betrayal – “She’ll put a shiv in you,” MM wrote admiringly. We both agreed that was a talent sorely needed when dealing with the petty viciousness and mendacity of the Republican congress. 
One of the many, many other things I like about Senator and Democratic Vice Presidential nominee Kamala Harris is that I don’t know a thing about her religious/spiritual and/or worldview beliefs. And I’d like to keep it that way.
Except of course, the Republicans will not stand for that. Even the (secretly) religion-free among them must grovel to the altar of right-wing Jayyy-suuuus lovers. #45 figured this out when he was laughing all the way to the bank (or golf course), passing church after church along the way, metaphorically thumbing his nose at them even as he was snickering about how easy it was to bamboozle the congregants.
The Republicans will look for every opportunity, during the election and debates,  to play their piety cards and jab Biden and Harris about their beliefs. Biden has already fallen into that trap –of talking about his own faith rather than telling those who ask that it’s none of their business as the USA is not a theocracy, and let’s get back to the issues….
Thus, I humbly offer my advice to Ms. Harris – the advice she didn’t solicit from me  but which I hope she takes:
Don’t fall for Pence’s religious rhetoric claptrap, and make him sorry if he even asks. I know you’re capable of going all prosecutorial on his ass…even though that tactic, if you employed it, would make your advisors reach for the smelling salts as the white evangelicals would clutch their pearls and gasp in horror at The Angry Black Bitch Atheist (whether you are or are not the fourth, you’d definitely be pegged as the first three). So, yes, I understand how you must go for discretion.
I also hope you don’t mumble platitudes about respecting everyone’s faith journey (although I understand there will be pressure to do so). When – not *if,* as religion will definitely be an issue – the subject of a paticular candidate’s religious beliefs are brought up, don’t ignore it. Instead, candidly and assertively steer away from the subject, every time it happens, and every time reminding us of why you are doing so:
We are electing presidents and vice presidents here,
not popes and pastors and vicars and decans – or rabbis, imams or mullahs, Zen masters or Lamas, pujaris or gurus….
I know, this is important…I’ll ty to stay alert.
American citizens hold a diversity of religious opinions. The candidates elected will be the President and Vice President for all the people, including the growing percentage of atheists, agnostics, humanists, Freethinkers Brights – aka, to pollsters and scientists, as the “Nones,” as in, we Americans who are religion-free and/or claim no religious affiliation.
Polls and studies reveal that 23 to 26 % of the US population – approaching one out of every four people – claim “none” for their religion, despite facing open hostility and discrimination from religious believers (and incurring a political liability as well, if they run for office). And scientists note that these 23-26% figures are conservative estimates.
“…psychologists…contend that there may be far more atheists than pollsters report because “social pressures favoring religiosity, coupled with stigma against religious disbelief…, might cause people who privately disbelieve in (god[s]) to nonetheless self-present as believers, even in anonymous questionnaires.”
To work around this problem of self-reported data, the psychologists employed what is called an unmatched count technique, which has been previously validated for estimating the size of other underreported cohorts…. (Using a) Bayesian probability estimation to compare their results with similar Gallup and Pew polls of 2,000 American adults each…they estimated, with 93 percent certainty, that somewhere between 17 and 35 percent of Americans are atheists, with a “most credible indirect estimate” of 26 percent.
As a former prosecutor you, Senator Harris, are aware of the average person’s cognitive capacities, so I’ll trust you to condense those statistics into something debate-attention-span appropriate.
After doing so, please give a brief reminder – more like a civics lesson, considering how many Americans know next to nothing about the history of our country’s secular roots – that the USA was the first country to have a totally god-free constitution. “God” – anyone’s god – is not mentioned in the US Constitution (nor is Jesus, nor Christianity), not even once. Religion is only mentioned twice, and then in exclusionary terms: in the First Amendment (“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”), and in Article VI, which declares that “…no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”
And do this – remind folks of the facts – Every. Time.
There will be some ignoramuses (most likely your debate opponent), even among otherwise seemingly articulate members of the press, who will confuse the Declaration of Independence with the Constitution, and will quote the former:
“But wait, what about the part where it says,
‘”We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights’….”
Here is, yet again, another opportunity for education. Remind the populace of the difference between the two: The Declaration of Independence (an “apology” and call to arms for the American revolution); and the Constitution of the United States (the new nation’s governing document).
You may also want to be prepared for when some idiot sputters about how his dollar bills say, “In God We Trust”…which he probably doesn’t know was not added to our currency until 1957, during the Commie/Red Scare era:
…and then he may continue on as how the Pledge of Allegiance contains the phrase, “Under God”…except that until relatively recently, it didn’t:
The Pledge of Allegiance was written in August 1892 by the socialist minister Francis Bellamy… (who) had hoped that the pledge would be used by citizens in any country. In its original form it read: “I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands,
one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” In 1923, the words, “the Flag of the United States of America” were added: “I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America
and to the Republic for which it stands,
one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” In 1954, in response to the Communist threat of the times, President Eisenhower encouraged Congress to add the words “under God,” creating the 31-word pledge we say today.
Bellamy’s daughter objected to this alteration. (“The Pledge of Allegiance,” Historic Documents, usdocuments.org)
You will likely also encounter shade from the historical yahoos who will crow about how the USA was formed as a “Christian nation.” Not only does Constitution make no such claims, we have the confirmation to the opposite, declared and signed by the very founding fathers of our country and the framers of the constitution, in the 1797 Treaty of Tripoly – which was sent to the Senate (by President John Adams). The entire treaty was read aloud on the Senate floor (including the (in)famous words in Article 11; copies were printed for every Senator; the treaty was ratified by a unanimous vote of all 23 Senators. They knew what they were doing:
Treaty of Tripoli, article 11
“As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Mussulmen; and, as the said States never entered into any war, or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties, that no pretext arising from religious opinions, shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.” 
All this history should be enough. Of course, it won’t be.
So, please, get the message across…in your own astute, succinct way. Perhaps, a more prime time-palatable version of the following?
* * *
Department Of Fun With Nature’s Wacky Reproductive Scenarios
“Some sharks give live birth from two uteruses — and that’s not the weirdest part.”
Dateline: earlier this week, listening to a Curiosity Daily podcast. CD is one of my favorite podcasts. As per their website:
The award-winning Curiosity Daily podcast will help you get smarter about the world around you — every day.
In less than 10 minutes, you’ll get a unique mix of research-based life hacks, the latest science and technology news, and more.
I’m not sure how much smarter CD has helped moiself to get, but I’m certainly entertained, and armed with interesting trivia facts, by each episode.
A recent segment on sharks which have dual uteri caught my eye (ear?). The takeaway: many shark species have multiple uteri and give birth to live baby sharks, which hatch from eggs in the uteri. Before being expelled, the baby sharks which hatch first swim between the uteri, and eat the eggs of their un-hatched siblings, so they can grow faster. In one species, multiple free-swimming baby sharks hatch at the same time and fight to the death inside their shark mom’s uterus.
“Congrats, Mom, it’s a boy…I mean, a girl…uh, make that, a cannibal.”
For some petty reason, I enjoy the idea of anti-choicers – most of whom hold a conservative religious dogma which says that their god creates and directs all life (so guess who’s responsible for this preborn carnage?) – cringing at these facts…even though sibling predation – “siblicide” – is not unknown in other animals (e.g. the newly hatched chicks of some bird species will attack and eat their smaller siblings, or push them or any unhatched eggs out of the nest).
As with every CD episode, at the end of this one the two hosts recapped what they’d learned. The male host, whose wife is pregnant, said that he’s been feeling his wife’s belly when the fetus kicks her, and now he’s thinking how “…that is really mild, compared to what sharks do.” He then declared, “I’m glad I didn’t marry a shark.”
“Oh, honey, can you feel them fighting to the death?”
* * *
Pun For The Day
Presidential candidate Scissors was forced to withdraw from the race
after failing to find anyone who would run with him.
“Do you see what humor they have to put up with, in a so-called ‘free’ society?”
* * *
May you support politicians in remembering and upholding our country’s secular foundation/roots; May you have yet another reason to detest that insipid “Baby Sharks” song; May someone surprise you with the gift of druthers; …and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 But California should have had a surfer boy standing between those two women.
 I could Google this, I know, but sometimes, it’s just more fun to wonder.
 Then added that, as much as he admired President Obama, “that was a talent Obama lacked.” (moiself ageed).
 Or, maybe she *did* and her email got caught in the spam folder.
 At the time of the Treat, Mediterranean Sea traffic was largely controlled by pirates from the North African Muslim states of the Barbary Coast. Many European seafaring countries paid a tribute to the Barbary Sultans in exchange for safe passage through the Mediterranean. After the American Revolution, the US was no longer covered by British tribute treaties. The U.S. decided to form tribute treaties with the Barbary States, and given the history of The Crusades, assure the sultans that the US was not going to use the excuse of Christianity vs. Islam to go to war with them.
“His recent book Upheaval: Turning Points for Nations in Crisis, could hardly be more timely.
And it has a fascinating twist, seeking links between how individuals deal with crises – with insights from his clinical psychologist wife – to how nations succeed or fail when confronted with a crisis.”
That blurb is from the description of “How It Can All Fall Apart,” a recent episode of Alan Alda’s Clear and Vivid podcast. Professor, historian, and Pulitzer Prize-winning popular science author Jared Diamond (“Guns, Germs and Steel“) was Alda’s guest.
As with many podcast guests, Diamond had a new work to promote (the above-mentioned book, which just may join the ever-expanding pile of *read-this-and-you’ll-be-a-better-or-at-least-smarter-person* tomes by my nightstand). What I found most captivating about the interviews Diamond has been giving is the cautious optimism he expresses about what positive awakening may arise from the COVID-19 crisis:
…if there is a solution found, a majority of people may finally realize that *global problems require global solutions,* which could result in the setting aside of political differences and working together to find solutions to problems from which no artificial barriers of borders or international politics can shield us (read: Global Warming/Climate Change.
I wish I could believe Diamond is right. The USA should, of course, be a leader in this and other issues. Instead, it may take our country many months – how long until the election? – to be able to fully get on board in this matter. Chief Little Bunker-Bitch I mean, that festering gallstone of a human being – okay; remember, we’re going for the spirit of cooperation – our pathetic excuse of a leader… I’m sorry, world, but the truth is….
Ok. How shall moiself put this? If you know even a smidgen of #45’s personal, business and political history, you also know that the one comment any teacher would *not* write in the report card of his life is, “Plays well with others.”
* * *
Department Of Since You’ve Asked
Inquiring Minds: “What is your diagnosis of the greatest problem facing humanity?”
All-righty then, to rephrase:
“What would you say is humanity’s biggest mistake, or weakness?”
Moiself: Humanity’s *blunder grande* is our misplaced faith in certitude, vis-à-vis both our factual knowledge and our sense of ethics.
Giving the probabilistic nature of our world (including our very existence as a species), strength and resilience lies in people who are able to see and act on the grays in life, instead of labeling everything either black or white.
Fly your gray banner; keep open to the possibility that you may be wrong, but don’t let this entangle you in the morass of uncertainty that some use as an excuse for inaction (“Since we can’t know for certain then we can’t know at all”).
Wow. That’s a lot of profundity for one keyboard to spew. I need a beer.
“Don’t waste it on her; she doesn’t even drink beer.”
* * *
Department Of Terms Worth Picking A Few Nits Over
I’ve written in the past (and given our current “cancel culture”  and the unfortunate, seemingly liberal-led trend of looking under every verbal rock for aggrievements, I will likely have cause to write again) of my disdain for people who criticize/judge/assume they know the opinions of other people who don’t use the “proper” or “accepted” terms in discussing social issues.
Moiself deplores the censoring of ideas and the alienating of allies which results from when you focus on *how* someone says something, versus paying attention to *what* they are trying to say (i.e., confusing style with substance). But, language is tricky. None of us can accurately claim to be an expert of verbal and written communications, which are the conduit between our forming ideas and our expression of them.
The choices we make matter, as do our words, which both express and influence our ideas and worldviews. I try to view each case separately recently, I’ve learned of a couple of centuries-old terms which moiself thinks are very much worth changing, for the important reason of the terms’ subtexts.
Journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones won a Pulitzer Prize for creating the 1619 project at The New York Times, which tracks the legacy of slavery. In Terry Gross’s Fresh Air interview with journalist Hannah-Jones, (which I referred to in a recent blog post as influencing my opinions about reparations for slavery), TG asked Hannah-Jones about why she uses the term “enslaved person” and not “slave” in her writing (my emphases):
“It was very important in the 1619 Project and whenever I write about this, to not use language that further dehumanizes people who every system and structure was designed to dehumanize.
I think when we hear the word “slave,” we think of slavery as being the essence of that person. But if you call someone an enslaved person, then it speaks to a condition. These people were not slaves. Someone chose to force them into the condition of slavery, and that language to me is very important, as is using the word “enslaver” over slave owner because these people didn’t have a moral right to own another human being, even though the society allowed it, and I think it needs to be active, that this was an active system of people choosing to treat other human beings as property.”
I think this change in terminology is adoption-worthy and will henceforth try to consistently to use those words. If someone comments on it (“I’ve noticed you say, ‘enslaved person’ and ‘enslaver’ instead of ‘slave,’ and ‘slaveowner’ “), then there is an opportunity for dialogue.
However, I will not turn into a member of the Speech Police, and hope that other Well-Meaning People ® act accordingly. Joe Dude who seems open to the idea of reparations for enslaved persons is a potential ally; don’t turn him off if he starts to say, “I realize there is validity in reparations for descendants of slaves…” by jumping in with a correction, no matter how well-meaning: “Whoa, Joe – the proper term is, ‘enslaved persons….’ “
In these Twitter Mob Times ® it so easy to criticize *how* someone is expressing an idea that we often neglect to listen to *what* they are trying to say. When it comes to style vs. substance, go for substance. Every Time.
“There’s the guy who said ‘disabled’ instead of “person with a disability’ – let’s get ’em!”
* * *
Department Of The Things We Leave Behind For Others
One day in 1961, the famous physicist Richard Feynman stepped in front of a Caltech lecture hall and posed this question to a group of undergraduate students:
“If, in some cataclysm, all of scientific knowledge were to be destroyed, and only one sentence was passed on to the next generation of creatures, what statement would contain the most information in the fewest words?”
….we posed Feynman’s cataclysm question to some of our favorite writers, artists, historians, futurists – all kinds of great thinkers. We asked them, “What’s the one sentence you would want to pass on to the next generation that would contain the most information in the fewest words?”
One of my favorite Feynman quotes. If you want to know what his “cataclysm sentence” was, you’ll have to listen to the podcast.
I thought about that question for several weeks after hearing that podcast.The answers given, by Feynman and others, could be rephrased as, What would you leave behind for others? My cataclysm sentence, which needs some serious editing, would have something to do with embracing embrace curiosity; try to understand reality and do not be satisfied with stories that purport to assuage your fears about what you don’t know….
One day during one of my early morning walks, I put those What would you leave behind for others? thoughts on hold, and have yet to return to them. I was crossing a residential street, mulling those profound thoughts, and I noticed two brown plops, and a brownish line of…ick…stretching from the center of the street to the gutter, and then up on the sidewalk, for a total plop-streak of about 20 feet. Moiself realized it was a series of feces droppings, from a doggie which was evidently on the move.
Not wanting to fall into the trap I just wrote about – making up stories for that what you don’t understand – moiself nevertheless used my powers of deductive reasoning to come up with the most likely scenario: dogs, when they’re on their own or are being led by a human on a walk or run, stop to squat when they defecate. Why was this dog in such a hurry that it could not do so? It was either being chased by something…or being pulled by someone. I realized that the speedy early morning jogger I’d passed earlier, on that very street, her leashed dog trotting a good ten feet behind her, was the likely source.
And it made me wonder about how many of the countless dog-accompanied joggers and cyclists I’ve seen consider themselves to be responsible owners and the kind of people who always pick up after their dog… Except, when you’re moving at those speeds, essentially forcing your dog to run with you, it has to “go” on the run,  and since it is trailing behind you, you don’t see what is happening…. And you run or cycle merrily along, blissfully ignorant of the shit trail you have left behind, for others to deal with.
Book ’em, Danno.
* * *
Whaddya think, is there some kind of life metaphor in all that crap?
* * *
Pun For The Day
You shouldn’t fart in an Apple store; they don’t have Windows.
* * *
Department Of Just One More And Then I’ll Stop, I Promise
My dad burst into my room and said, “Wanna hear a joke?”
He proceeded to fart for a whole minute, then said,
“Sorry; that was a long-winded story.”
Okay; make that, just two more.
After letting out a trumpet of a fart the toddler stopped, gasped,
looked up at her mother and said, “Did you just hear that elephant?”
She’s going to be a great dad someday.
* * *
May you be mindful of what you leave behind; May you recognize and celebrate life’s gray areas; 
May you have the optimism to believe that a world which produces fart-dad joke combos
can come up with a cure for a pandemic ; …and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 For those of us who love our country and thus cannot bear to use the given name of the man who shits all over it, this is one of the milder monikers we use.
 As per dictionary.com, cancel culture refers to “…the popular practice of withdrawing support for (canceling) public figures and companies after they have done or said something considered objectionable or offensive. Cancel culture is generally discussed as being performed on social media in the form of group shaming.”
 I have seen more than one dog, running alongside its jogging/cycling owner, stop to squat and then get jerked/dragged along by its leash, while its owner kept on going.
 Except for those involving dreadful novels with “shades of” in the title.
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.