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The Choice I’m Not Applauding

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Trigger Warning

This blog contains content.

 

 

Trigger

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Damning With Faint Praise

From a NY Times review of the movie Indignation:

But despite its faults, “Indignation” is easily the best film made of a Roth novel, which is saying a lot.

To the Co-founders and Co-presidents [1]  of the I Loathe Philip Roth And Other Overrated Sexually Regressive Hipster Wannabe Misogynist White Male Writers Club, [2] that is, indeed, saying a lot…but not a lot of what the reviewer imagines.

Indignation, indeed.

 

 

 

sexism

*   *   *

Department of Missing The Point

I am an admirer of Palestinian-American, Muslim-identified, comedian-actor Masoon Zayid, and follow her FB page[3]  I am not a fan of her August 14 FB comment on the recent burkini brouhaha (re the mayor of Cannes banning full-body swimsuits, or “burkinis”, from the French city’s beaches):

I dress like the lost Kardashian AND support a woman’s right to choose to sport a burkini. Your body your rules.

Zayid’s (totally understandable) instinct to support her Muslim sisters is commendable but also, IMHO, naïve and misses a larger point. Translation: I was moved to open my big mouth (or…uh…type with my big fingers?) via FB comment:

“Your body your rules” – if only. That laudable sentiment only works in societies/cultures where women have true autonomy. If a woman is raised with the reality that she can be accosted, threatened, shamed and even assaulted and murdered by boys and men if she is not “properly” covered…gee, I wonder what kind of “choice” she will be “free” to make?

 

"How embarrassing - I chose the same prom dress as Fatima...and Zara...and Aisha...and Sobia...."

“How embarrassing – I chose the same prom dress as Fatima…and Zara…and Aisha…and Sobia….”

 

Some Muslim activists tout the ideal of Muslim women who freely choose “the veil” in some form, be it hijab, niqab, even burqa. Other Muslim women activits are asking Muslim women not to wear hijab, which they feel is “…an interpretation of Islam we reject that believes that women are a sexual distraction to men…(an) ideology promotes a social attitude that absolves men of sexually harassing women and puts the onus on the victim to protect herself by covering up.”

I see those coverings [4] – particularly the suffocating, dehumanizing burqas – as glorified burial shrouds, and signs of social, sexual, intellectual (and certainly sartorial) slavery.

As for the idea that people freely choose to don such cloaking devices, of course all sentient beings like to tell themselves that they freely choose their lot. But when Muslim women can be attacked in a public park for wearing a swimsuitstoned to death for not wearing a veil, subjected to an Iman’s declaration that you are asking to be raped if you don’t wear a hijba, or be harassed and beaten for wearing a veil but not the right way, and suffer other persecutions ranging from absurdities to horrific atrocities…[5] how can there be anything resembling honest choice in the matter? Those who declare otherwise have a very different – and I would argue, dangerous – idea of what constitutes “freedom.”

 

*   *   *

Oh And By The Way While We’re On The Subject

Aka Department Of Sometimes You Just Can’t Win

Aka Department Of Damned If You Do, Damned If You Don’t….

 

So, not only can Muslim women and girls be assaulted by fellow Muslims – even in this country – for not wearing a hijab, it seems there’s a growing problem of Muslim women and girls who live in Western countries, including England and  Canada and the USA , being targeted for harassment when they do wear one.

WTF is wrong with people?

No, folks. Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo.

shame

*   *   *

Department Of Must Change Subject To Something Less Disheartening

One afternoon about a year and a half ago, MH told me that, in case I hadn’t noticed, he’d stopped wearing his wedding ring…and in case I had noticed, he wanted to assure me as to why. A combination of The Aging Process © and decades of tapping digits on keyboards had given him arthritis-like symptoms, specifically pain and swelling in his fingers. He removed his ring, hoping that doing so might alleviate the pain, and fearing that if the swelling increased and he left it on, he might have to have the ring cut off.

I hadn’t noticed his wedding band-less finger. After his revelation I decided to commiserate with his situation in the only way that seemed logical to me: by removing my own ring. This has caused just a wee bit o’ eyebrow-raising from people who’ve noticed. I assuage such concerns thusly: my removing my wedding band is not a harbinger of marital discord; rather, it’s a reinforcement of its importance and mutuality.

A long time ago in a galaxy far far away, I spent many years working in women’s reproductive health care, wherein I encountered several married couples who did not wear wedding rings. The no-ring-thing was sometimes for job-related reasons (rings can be safety hazards for jewelers, mechanics and others who work with their hands), sometimes due to dermatologic allergies, and for women, sometimes due to pregnancy-induced swelling (which occasionally led to a permanent change in ring size).
(from The Ring I’m Not Wearing blog post earlier this year)

Excusez-moi, but I must confess that I love to quote moiself. Not only does it make me feel…well, quotable…it adds that certain, je ne sais quoi to my conversation. Or, in cases when I’m talking about indescribable pastries, would that be, je ne sais croissant?

 

croissantjpg

 

 

Once again, I digress. This was supposed to be a segue into MH finding a solution to his/our wedding ring dilemma, [6]  courtesy of man MH works with who recently lost a good deal of weight and thus found himself with an ill-fitting wedding ring, and came upon these (and these and these) companies who make silicon rings. Apparently, it – the market for more functional, versatile alternatives to traditional metal wedding bands  – is a thing, now.

And if it’s a thing that ends up on my and MH’s fingers, you’ll hear about it, here.  [7]

 

 

ring

*   *   *

Department of Olympic Games Haiku

 

Synchronized Swimming;
Synchronized diving – both are
Olympic events.

This is a big world,
And so I wonder: why no
Synchronized croquet?

Yet again, the Russian team is accused of doping.

Once again, the Russian team is accused of doping.

*   *   *

May you appreciate having true freedom to make honest choices;
may you be wary of burdens disguised as choices;
May you take trigger warnings with a grain of salt and croissants with chocolate icing;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

 

 

[1] Which would be moiself and fellow writer SCM…and innumerable others.

[2] We need an appropriately cool acronym.

[3] My favorite of her lines, which she uses to introduce herself to new audiences who might be unnerved by her continual body tremors: “My name is Masoon Zayid, and I am not drunk, but the doctor who delivered me was.” (Zayid has cerebral palsy due to the oxygen deprivation that occurred during her delivery.)

[4] Whether on a Muslim woman or a Benedictine nun.

[5] Go ahead, google “Muslim woman beaten for not wearing ___,” but not right before bedtime or meal time.  And FFS, don’t watch the videos.

[6] MH nixed the solution posed by daughter Belle, that we have wedding rings tattooed on our respective fingers.

[7] No more footnotes, as is noted in this footnote.

The Bridge I’m Not Building

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Department of Snarkosity and Sarcasm

Aka, Religion Is Such A Rational Reaction to Reality

Dateline: last Friday afternoon: To driver of the Grand Caravan minivan with the California license plates, you who made a concerted effort to pass me on the right and then cut me off in traffic  [1]  on that very busy road in Beaverton where two lanes narrow down to one:

I assume you placed the Bloody Praying Hands Of Jesus ® decal on your rear window for a reason.  Do you really want your “witness” to be that which provokes a reaction like mine –

Jesus F. Christ You Drive Like A Dick!

stigmata

*   *   *

Department Of Missed Opportunities

 

Neither MH nor I have ever owned a gun. MH fired a gun a few times in his childhood, on a trip to Montana with a friend to visit the friend’s uncle (uncle had a backyard target range or something). I have fired a gun twice. Once was during my grade school years, when a neighborhood kid was showing off his BB gun. [2]  My second Annie Oakley moment took place the summer after my sophomore year in college, when I fired a shotgun for the first (and so far, last) time, giving me my first (and so far, only) Shotgun Story © .

A college friend APRIATT [3] and I were visiting the friend’s brother, who lived in a cabin in the mountains in Northern California. Friend’s Brother was a logger who looked like he’d applied for a job as a Jeremiah Johnson [4] stand-in.

 

 

Kinda like this, sans bear hat.

Kinda like this, sans bear hat.

 

 

 

Friend’s Logger Brother aspired to live the life of a Mountain Man. ®    FLB liked to fire his shotgun out in the woods behind his cabin, to keep his aim sharp in case he ever needed to protect himself from, say, a marauding tin of Spam (or so I assumed, as his target practice consisted of firing at cans placed on a tree stump). FLB took us to his makeshift firing range, set some cans on a log and shot at them, knocking all but one off the log. He then winked at his brother, held out the shotgun to me, and asked me if I’d like to give it a try.

I did not hit the can. I also did not get knocked tit-over-ass, or even sideways, by the shotgun’s recoil, which is what happens to most novices, or so I was later told (in an abashedly admiring tone) by FLB. Somehow I’d managed – totally without any kind of instruction, mind you  [5] – to instinctively brace the barrel properly and tuck the gun stock into my shoulder before squeezing the trigger.

Firing once was enough, for me. It was neither traumatizing nor titillating; it was very, very LOUD. It sounded, I told my friend, as if three Led Zeppelin concerts had just been performed in my right ear.

*   *   *

Time warp with me, if you will, to many years later – early 1990’s, is my guess. I was walking to downtown Hillsboro one afternoon, and on my way to Someplace Else I passed the only local gun store in town (which is no longer there). Apropos of nothing, I realized I’d  never set foot in a gun shop. And so I did.

I was the only customer. There was one employee, a smiling, genial man in his late-30s-to-early40s-I-reckon. He introduced himself as the shop owner and asked if I needed any assistance. I told him my story, such as it was: I was passing by, realized I’d never been in a gun store, and spur-of-the-moment decided to see what one looked like. While relating this thrilling tale I did a quick visual survey of the shop, noting the glass display cases filled with ammunition and the variety of firearms hanging on the walls, seemingly organized into categories: shotguns on the east wall, handguns on the south wall, rifles on the west wall.

Friendly Gun Shop Owner invited me to look around and said he’d gladly show me any “piece” that caught my interest.  Oh, alrighty. And, since you mentioned it, when you get a customer who is a potential first-time buyer, what is the first “piece” you show them?

Immediately after posing that question I realized the answer it would depend on if the customer had express interested in taking up hunting or target shooting or felt paranoid every time an iota of progress was made in civil rights that they needed a gun for personal protection. But before I could add this follow, FGSO whirled about and grabbed a shiny black pistol from the wall behind him. He set it on the counter in front of me and asked me to pick it up (It’s okay, it’s not loaded) and admire it.

The gun felt lighter than I’d expected. What is it that I am holding? FGSO said it was a 9 millimeter Smith & Wesson. This prompted me to ask about a gun’s designation: did the caliber size refer to the size of the bullet, or the dimension of the gun’s barrel, and if the latter was that an external or internal measurement, and either way, diameter or radius – diameter, I’d always assumed, but I didn’t know for sure and wondered…

Don’t really know. FGSO shrugged his shoulders, and seemed almost perplexed by my question. I found that odd – did he, a gun shop owner, actually not know, or did he think it something I shouldn’t bother knowing? Before I could ask a follow-up question, he began talking about the beauty of the piece he’d shown me. Yes, I said, I can see the attraction of it – of  admiring the construction of any kind of mechanism, and appreciating the craft…although I had to admit that even just holding that gun made me a wee bit nervous. You see, I hadn’t been around guns much and, considering their purpose…

No, don’t think like that.

There was an infinitesimal yet noticeable shift in FGSO’s demeanor.  It’s like what you first said; it’s just a mechanism – a machine. It’s a tool. A gun is just a tool. People who don’t like guns or are afraid of them don’t understand that.

His tone became insistent, and although the corners of his mouth remained his smile had transformed, from genuine to forced.  A gun is just a tool, like a car is a tool. Every year thousands of people are killed and injured in car accidents, but no one tries to ban people from owning cars.

Uh, gee…how do you figure? I donned what I thought was my most disarming, wide-eyed, smile, [6] and gently pointed out that the auto analogy didn’t quite hold up.  Injuries and deaths due to auto accidents are just that – accidental, and while certainly tragic, are also incidental to an automobile’s purpose – which is to transport people and/or cargo. A gun’s purpose, what it is in fact designed for, is to shoot (at) some thing or some one.

 

 

Oops.

Oops…versus….

 

Mission accomplished.

Mission accomplished.

 

And he just lost it. When guns are outlawed only outlaws will have guns!

“Uh….?” I looked around the store; it was still just me and FGSO. “Who said anything about outlawing guns?”

 

 

Ok, Chucky, just hold still....

Ok, Chucky, just hold still….

 

 

Guns don’t kill people; people kill people!  There are no dangerous weapons; only dangerous men! The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun!

The clichés rolled off out of FGSO’s soon-to-be-frothing mouth. I thought, oh, this is great – a gun nut is going into rhetorical seizure mode, he’s likely packing some serious heat, and here is little ole moiself holding the unarmed “piece.”

Just for a moment, I thought to tell FGSO of the small but ultimately significant bridge he could be building…the opportunity he was missing – to show a non-gun owner that not all gun folk were irrational, hot-tempered zealots. Instead, I laid the pistol on the counter and thanked him for his time. He continued to spout slogans at my back as I slowly headed for the exit, shaking my head with can-you-believe-this? wistfulness.

I left the store, and left FGSO with the impression he’d likely/already held – that people who don’t own guns are fearful, naive do-gooders. In turn, he had done his best to reinforce my own stereotype of the wild-eyed, paranoid, slavering, gun nut. Not exactly an outstanding moment in the history of cultural diplomacy.

 

 

gunworld

*   *   *

May you speak your piece without fear;
May you work for peace without regret;
May you watch out for who’s packing a piece;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] Yeah, so you got ahead of me, and then stayed just ahead of me for another five miles, making me wonder what was the point to your machinations, which got you to your destination …what, twenty feet/two seconds earlier than had you not cut me off?

[2] A birthday present which was confiscated by his parents when they realized he was letting other kids fire the gun without adult supervision.

[3] And Possible Romantic Interest At The Time.

[4] And who spoke highly of what he saw as the ideals espoused in that iconic Robert Redford film.

[5] I can only assume FLB was playing a joke on me, and thought he’d amuse his brother by having his brother’s potential girlfriend mishandle a firearm – and who doesn’t enjoy seeing that?

[6] The one I heretofore privately thought of as my blonde smile. All appropriate apologies to you melanin-deficient ladies and gents.

The Butt I’m Not Holding Onto

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Department Of Message Received

 

Hold on to your butts, indeed. Apparently, the DOTUS [1] is running for POTUS.

Trump is a racist demagogue, a narcissistic pathological liar, a treason-baiting mocker of other’s sacrifices, a tin-plated orangutan-haired would-be autocrat with delusions of personhood….

Yep. Gotcha.

Message received.  Over and over and over.

Y’all are cheering to the pep squad in this matter. I really don’t think critical votes in the upcoming presidential election will be swayed, one way or another, by someone reading the latest

YOU WON’T BELIEVE WHAT TRUMP SAID!!!

HAS TRUMP GONE TOO FAR !?!?!?!?!?!

link on your Facebook page.

If you think that The Donald is a Dick is breaking news, you might want to brace yourself for the following alert:

 Cigarette smoking linked to lung disease !!!!!

Can we go back to cat videos and sloth pix, please?

More of me is good for you!

More of me is good for you!

 

*   *   *

Department Of I Should Have Stopped Watching Right After Her Acceptance Speech.

Dateline: last week, Democratic National Convention, Hillary Rodham Clinton’s acceptance speech. In the space of 20 minutes I went from cautious/cynical optimism to being won over by the power of the moment. I couldn’t believe, after all the excellent speakers she had to follow (Michelle Obama, Corey Booker, the POTUS, Joe Biden, her own daughter….), that HRC, know for policy fine points rather than rhetorical charisma, would rise to the occasion.  But she did. She made her case, confidently, powerfully, compassionately.  And then…

I should have known better. After watching the rousing 7th game of the World Series in which the team you’re rooting for wins in the bottom of the ninth when the team’s catcher, not known for his speed, hits a triple and then steals home…you do your version of the Happy Dance ® and then turn off the TV. You don’t need [2] to hear overpaid and under-educated color commentators explaining that you just saw an amazing play…or trying to convince you that it wasn’t as exciting as you thought.

I forgot. I left the TV on. MH was still watching… I puttered around the kitchen, and couldn’t help but hear the background noise of the talking heads of the media. Even those on NPR who Should Have Known Better ®  had to weigh in:

* But still, what does the most unknown known person have to tell the American people?

* How can voters get to know “the real” Hillary, as her friends do, etc., how can the real, personal candidate be portrayed….

And I find moiself screaming to moiself,

WHAT THE FUCK DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH ANYTHING?!?!?

I guess this – me resorting to the all-caps mode – is evidence that The Terrorists Have Won ® . But when – oh, like NEVER – is this asked of any other (read: male) candidate?  Why do we need to know the “real, personal” Hillary? She’s running for POTUS, not for your junior high school BFF.

 

 

you like me

 

 

 

 

So much for history. Yeah, we’ve finally [3]  nominated a female person for head of state, but it is pathetically obvious that our country is still, sadly but resolutely, shackled to antiquated/sexist expectations of the past. Hillary Clinton has got to be “known,” and “likeable,” and “personal,” whereas our male candidates…well, we just want to know that, maybe, they aren’t (currently active) serial killers.

One friend [4] responded thusly to my tirade, with wise concepts I shall try to put into practice:

I know. I share that rant big time. But now a big deep breath and I will do my best to be thankful for progress. No matter how absurd the inequalities are that remain. Ohmmmm.

 

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Department Of Yeah What She Said

 

 “When I look at the idea that life sucks and I have to deal with it as best I can, and compare it with the idea that an immensely powerful being is fucking with me on purpose and won’t tell me why, I find the first idea far more comforting.”
-Greta Christina, The Way of the Heathen

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Department Of Dealing With Things The Best You Can

If you don’t know about the Foundation Beyond Belief,  you should. FBB is a 501(c)(3) charitable foundation created to focus, encourage and demonstrate humanist generosity and compassion through charitable donation programs, sponsoring volunteer programs and disaster recovery programs.

By making one time or regular donations, I am able to set up a donor profile indicating how I would like my contribution spread among beneficiary organizations in each of the following “cause” areas:

*Education
*Poverty and Health
*Human Rights
*The Natural World
* Challenge the Gap (charities based in other worldviews)

 

 

 

foundationpng

 

 

Each quarter the FBB’s Humanist Giving staff selects five charitable organizations to serve as Quarterly Beneficiaries, one for each of the cause areas. Donors such as moiself can then review the organizations and decide how we’d like to distribute our donation (e.g. 20% to each, or 100% to one…) however we choose, depending on our interest in the specific causes and organizations. [5]

FBB’s featured beneficiaries are “…carefully selected for impact and efficiency,” and are all secular organizations (with the exception of Challenge the Gap, which features non-proselytizing organizations based in other worldviews). At the end of each quarter, all donations designated for FBB’s featured charities are forwarded to those charities (no percentage is retained for administrative costs), and a new slate of beneficiaries is selected.

 

*   *   *

invasion force

 

Our neighbors should be on the lookout for a drive-by fruiting, since we need to get rid of distribute what MH refers to as “the invasion force.”

Translation: The pear tree Belle bought with her own allowance and birthday money, all those many years ago, is in full, bloomin’ swing. Like our raspberries and blueberries, and like most fruits around here, the harvest is coming much earlier this year .

 

 

Can you say global warming, boys and girls? I knew you could.

Can you say global warming, boys and girls? I knew you could.

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

Yet Another Important Detail

I must make an addendum to Robyn and MH Have Left the Building [6] , our notebook of what-to-do-when-we-die instructions for our family. I recently realized that I’d neglected to document an important aspect of my memorial service:  I want the first all whoopee cushion funeral. Every seat in the memorial hall/auditorium/junior high girls’ locker room or whatever venue is to be outfitted with a whoopee cushion, hopefully of varying sizes and, uh, tonal quality. Attendees will be given instructions as to how to end the service with a rousing cheer for the dearly departed.

 

 

 

why settle for this...

why settle for this…

 

 

 

...when you can have this instead?

…when you can have this instead?

 

 

 

*   *   *

May you enjoy the fruits of summer;
May the talking heads leave you in peace;
May you deal with things the best you can;
May you plan your own whoopee-worthy memorial service;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

*   *   *

 

 

[1] Demagogue of The United States.

[2] Well, maybe you do, but I don’t.

[3] After over 40 other countries beat us to it. So much for our “Leader of the Free World” braggadocio.

[4] ¡Muchisimas gracias, mi amiga, CC!

[5] I’m currently doing an even distribution, although my interests tend toward the Human Rights and Natural World categories and, in the past, have tended to “skew upwards” as per my donation percentages, to those causes.

[6] since plagiarism is the sincerest form of flattery, I proudly note that I stole that title from the lovely and talented Karl Wiegers).

The Culture I’m Not Relativizing

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Content warning: content, much of it cranky. If you’re not cranky, you’re not paying attention.

*   *   *

Here is the understated headline of the article MH alerted me to, in Tuesday’s NY Times:

Clash of Values Emerges After Afghan Child Bride Burns to Death

I find the passive voice repugnant – burns to death? The girl didn’t just spontaneously combust. She was beaten and set on fire, after being bartered away as a 6th grader to settle a family dispute – treated and discarded as the piece of dispensable property women ultimately are in such brutal and backward cultures.

Clash of values. What an obscenity it becomes, being put so mildly. And how many times have I read variations of this grotesque play out of cultural values?

* Afghan woman, whose genitalia was severed by her husband, fights for justice amid rising violence against women

* Banished or battered at home, Afghan women share stories of surviving abuse.

*  … the images show an Afghan woman beaten to death by a mob…savagely beaten not by bearded Taliban but by very young men, wielding sticks and carrying mobile phones.

Go ahead, do the search yourself. You can Google until you gag with this subject, and also with the knowledge that for every story of the barbarous treatment of women and girls that makes the news, thousands more are not headline grabbers; rather, it’s just Life Goes On in Afghanistan and other Islamist cultures.

Back to the shiny happy first story. In the final paragraphs of the NY Times article, the story tells of how a relative of the family suspected in the girl’s torture and murder was questioned, by a criminal investigator and local activists, as to whether the girl was even old enough to consent (to the bartered marriage) in the first place.

“Why are you asking me? Go ask the Prophet,” (the relative) said, explaining that they were merely following traditions from the Prophet Muhammad’s time.

 

 

warning

 

 

As I have no doubt noted before in this space, I am not a cultural relativist. I abhor the fact that there is even such a concept as cultural relativism. And if you support it or defend it and I find out about it, I am going to go all medieval judgmental on your ass. Because the idea that people’s backwards and bigoted beliefs and cruel behaviors should be understood in terms of their culture leads to backwards and bigoted beliefs and cruel behaviors being defended or even excused…because it’s their culture.

You bet your ecumenical ass I’m gonna judge that. Judging cultures – any and all cultures – is what we all should be doing.

Discerning differences and making choices are good and necessary practices. It is wise to judge a tree by the fruit it produces. If your pear tree consistently produces sour-tasting, parasitic-ridden pears that rot before they ripen despite your best horticultural and pest control efforts, you’d best leave it to the bees and get your Anjous elsewhere.

 

 

bees

 

 

Don’t let any mush-brained cultural apologist fool you into thinking there are not valid criteria for testing or judging beliefs, world-views or practices, whether religious or non-religious. There are criteria, and they focus on the centrality of that most humanist value, compassion.  Analyze a belief, worldview or practice – does it lead to compassion and loving kindness?  Or does it produce in its adherents certainty, self-righteousness, belligerence, and the domination of the powerful us over the vulnerable them? [1]  

A worldview that teaches humility, gratitude, love and compassion and fosters equal responsibility and equal justice for all, is “better” than one that justifies or permits slavery and/or inequality and/or values (or even demands) incuriosity and ignorance re the natural world and/or preaches fear and guilt or the domination of the majority by a plutocracy.

Way back in the ’60s and ’70s I heard the argument that the ideology of Apartheid was part of the Afrikaaner culture; thus, who are we, as non South Africans, to understand or judge South African society? When enough of us worldwide stopped accepting that excuse, Apartheid was ended.

As a brown-skinned person with a Muslim name, I can get away with a lot more than you’d think. I can publicly parade my wife or daughters around in head-to-toe burqas and be excused out of “respect” for my culture and/or religion, thanks to the racism of lowered expectations.
( Pakistani-Canadian writer and physician and self-described “Atheist Muslim” Ali A. Rizvi )

 

allah says

 

  

“Go ask the prophet.”

Fuck your prophet.  Fuck anyone’s prophet. Fuck your shitty prophet’s shitty, primitive, ignorant, Iron Age, intellectually dysenteric misogyny still practiced as “traditions” by the various prophets’ blinkered, small-minded, ignorant followers Find some kind of shield, place it over prophet-following countries, and remove it when there’s nothing left but the cockroaches. [2]

Some days, that’s how I feel. Which is one reason I so love Bruce Cockburn’s song,  If I Had a Rocket Launcher …because it reminds me why it is a good thing I don’t have a rocket launcher. [3]

So. On my good days, I try to remember the individual women living in such cultures. I try to think of the almost 500,000 women sponsored via an organization I’ve supported for many years, an international organization which works directly with “marginalized women in 8 countries  [4]  affected by war and conflict…to offer support, tools, and access to life-changing skills to move from crisis and poverty to stability and economic self-sufficiency,” via offering these women  “job training, business and life skills, access to opportunity and more.”

On my bad days, [5]  I consider the email I got from said organization informing me of the new “sponsored sister” I’ll be supporting for the next 18 months and think, What’s the point? I think about the fact that this woman lives in Afghanistan, and I am sponsoring her…for what? To “access opportunity” in a culture of this?

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of I Tried, I Really Tried…

…to force myself to watch a live telecast of the Republican Convention.

 

 

REALLY

 

 

Yes, really. Civic Duty ®  and/or Informed Citizen ® , and all that.

Five minutes into it, I thought it would be more intellectual stimulating [6] to enjoy re-watching one of my favorite Star Trek TNG episodes, appropriately titled, Disaster.

 

 

Has there ever been a larger assemblage of metaphorical Number Twos, Number One?

Has there ever been a larger assemblage of metaphorical Number Twos, Number One?

*   *   *

 

Speaking of disasters,

Department Of This Should Come As Little Surprise, But Still…

I’m shocked – shocked! – that anyone associated with the self-anointed Law and Order candidate would engage in such bald-face, bare-assed thievery.

Please tell me someone is planning to sue for plagiarism, after many journalists and bloggers pointed out that portions of Melania Trump’s convention speech contained “striking similarities” – i.e., word for word pilfering – of Michelle Obama’s address at the 2008 Democratic convention.

You can’t make this stuff up.

Oh – cynical moiself. Who am I to judge? [7] It was difficult for Melania, growing up as a black woman in Chicago. Just ask her daughters, Sasha and Malia.

*   *   *

Department Of Yes It’s True I Live To Burst Your Bubble

In our over-stressed and under-thought society, we esteem the concept of taking time out from our busy lives to notice, admire and appreciate the simple pleasures in life. We even have an advisory adage for it:

Remember to stop and smell the roses.

I am someone who stops to smell the roses, whenever I’m out walking and come across a particularly alluring one. Thus, I feel entitled to add a cautionary addendum to that adage.

 

 

How quaint; she's going to bollix it up for us, isn't she?

How quaint; she’s going to bollix it up for the rest of us, isn’t she?

 

 

If we (claim to) appreciate taking the time to seek the beauty in the everyday world, I hope we also appreciate telling the truth about performing such acts. Because the thing about stopping to smell the roses is that if you do so you will, at times, feel sorely disappointed – even betrayed.

As MH can testify, many is the time I’ve paused on our walks or hikes to sniff a beautiful flower, only to indignantly exhale, What is this – they call this a rose!?

Not every rose smells like a rose, or like any blooming thing at all, for that matter.

Not every visually enticing flower has a fragrance worthy of its name. Some of the most visually stunning roses seem to have no scent at all, as if they’ve had their monoterpenes bred out of them. The beautiful grandiflora salmonie that caught your eye may not have a whiff of anything remotely floral  [8]  emanating from its delicate, salmon-colored petals.

 

 

 

Keep Calm and pretend you relish the aroma reminiscent of your grandmother's mothballed woolen stockings.

Keep Calm and pretend you relish the aroma of your grandmother’s mothballed woolen stockings.

 

 

*   *   *

May you, like Trump Missus #3 in a series,
have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood and call bullshit (and plagiarism) when they hear it;
May you beware of trees producing rotten fruit;
May you take the risk and stop to sniff the blossoms anyway;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

[1] Be it men over women, true believers over infidels….

[2] I would like to find a shield that would let the innocent flora and fauna survive, but the people, I’m not so sure are worth preserving. Even the “victims” of such cultures go on to victimize others, as that is how they are raised.

[3] Ah, but if Trump were president, a rocket launcher in every garage!

[4] Afghanistan, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq, Kosovo, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Sudan.

[5] Or perhaps, realistically, those are also good days?

[6] And less psychologically disturbing.

[7] Oh, that’s right – I settled the judgy thing in the previous rant.

[8] Or remotely salmon…for which you may be grateful.

The Girl Power Link I’m Not Sharing

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“So flattered and honoured that our crazy song
is being used so beautifully for such a great cause.”

(Melanie C.)

The “crazy song” former Spice Girl Melanie is referring to is the Spice Girls’ hit song Wannabe; the great cause is “Girl Power,” as per the link to The Global Goals ‪#‎WhatIReallyReallyWant video. The video has been getting a lot of sharing and positive comments among my FB friends, but I can’t bring myself to click on share.

The Global Goals is (or seems to be) an internet organization which wants us all to “Make the noise” about inequality and investing in education and other opportunities for girls and women worldwide. In their own words:

Girls and women are disproportionately affected by (challenges of global challenges of poverty, climate change and inequalities) and are key to building resilient communities to withstand them. That’s why we need to ensure World Leaders and the Secretary General of the United Nations listen to the voices of girls and women and put them first in policies and plans.
2016 is our chance to use our collective power and tell world leaders what we really really want for girls and women….

 Truly laudable goals…but [1]

The tune is as catchy as ever; still, I had to sigh the same sigh (as in, not this, again) when I saw the video.

 

 

reallywant

 

 

I wanted to love the video’s two brief scenes featuring girls in Arabic/Middle Eastern and African Muslim classrooms [2] with a sign Quality Education For All Girls on the rooms’ chalkboards.  Wanted to love, but couldn’t, because I paid attention to the video as a whole, and thought that, however sincere the sentiments behind those who produced it, the people who most need to be reached by the message or ideas the video wants to send are not likely to look at the video or appreciate the ideas/ideals expressed in it, due to the clothing and pelvic gyration-dancing of the other girls/women in the video. The video will likely be seen as just one more piece of Western propaganda.

You see what they mean by “Quality Education?!”
What they really want is for our females to be corrupted by infidel Western immorality….

Content warning: cranky feminist rant ahead.

So I’ll tell you want I want/what I really really want: I want messages of Girl Power to stop playing along with the commercialization and sexualization of girl bodies; I want third wave feminists and their (supposed) supporters [3] to stop illustrating the idea that “girl power,” and the related idea of loving/accepting/celebrating your body means donning tit/ass/ab revealing clothing and using provocative, sexualized gyrations and dance moves to “sell” the idea of equality.

Harumpf.

I think I need some celebration of boy power to change the mood:

 

 

 

*   *   *

The Book I’m Not Recommending

As in, not merely recommending; rather, urging you to read How Not To Die, by Michael Greger, M.D.

The author, Dr. Gregor, cheekily acknowledges his book’s intentionally provocative title – which really should be, How Not To Die Prematurely, he writes later on in the book. The book itself is provocative in that its message, that a plant-based diet is the healthiest way to eat and can prevent and even reverse chronic disease, has been scientifically established yet is almost unknown among medical doctors, who receive little to no training in nutrition but plenty of indoctrination (and free samples and steak dinners and other perks and incentives) by pharmaceutical companies – companies which, of course, have a strong disincentive in having people choosing nutritional and lifestyle changes over popping pills.

But, don’t just take moiself‘s word for it. Here’s my favorite review of the book: [4]

Stop whatever you’re doing and buy this book. Not only does Dr. Michael Greger drop a metric f*ckton of evidence that a plant-based diet will save your damn life, he lays out the blueprint to make it happen. Dr. Greger shows us how regular folks can eat well and not get taken down by some totally preventable bullsh*t. Thug Kitchen”

HNTD was recommended by a friend.[5] I was skeptical at first, given the book’s similarity, title-wise, to another book I’d read several years ago: The Thing About Life Is That One Day You’ll Be Dead. But the two books could hardly be more dissimilar.

A “litany of decay and decrepitude,” as one reviewer described it, TTALITODYBE takes a supposedly humorous and fact-filled examination of the medical and philosophical issues re aging and death…and it just got to be too much for me. Chapter after chapter delineating the cognitive and physiological indignities that await you, the majority of which you have little or no control over.  Even the ones that didn’t apply to me…it added up to an impacted bowel-ful of dismal TMI. Did I really need to know, for example, about the inevitability of scrotal sagging?  Although I must admit it is a lot of fun to type scrotal sagging.

 

 

Thanks, mister, but I've no interest in seeing if the carpet matches the drapes.

Thanks, mister, but I’ve no interest in seeing if the carpet matches the drapes.

 

*   *   *

The Cheese I’m Not Making

But I will be, soon. The following picture is of what will become a batch of rejuvelac, a non-alcoholic fermented liquid made from sprouted grains (quinoa, in this case), which I will use to (attempt to) make non-dairy cheese.  The good, the bad, and the ugly shall be reported herein. Eventually.

 

rejuvelac

*   *   *

Department of With Apologies to Nike, Just Do It

Feeling frisky recently, I wanted to go to a Dollar Tree store, fill a handcart with a miscellany of the store’s wares, get in line at the checkout counter and ask the clerk for a price check on every item.

Sometimes, I am amazed by my self-restraint.

 

 

Oh, thank you – because this job doesn't suck enough already.

Oh, thank you – because this job doesn’t suck enough already.

 

*   *   *

May you restrain yourself when necessary;
May you just do it when just doing it is called for;
May you appreciate the good, the bad, the ugly, and the cheesy;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] You knew a but was coming, didn’t you?

[2] I assume Muslim, as the girls are clothed in identical school uniforms and all wear hijab or headscarves.

[3] Many if not most of whom, I’d wager, are first wave misogynists, clothing marketeers, or just plain lechers.

[4] And you know you gotta trust the opinion of someone who works in the Thug Kitchen.

[5] A friend who has made and maintained the changes recommended in the book for several years now, changes which caused me to literally gasp when I saw her, she looked so %$&* healthy and happy was back to her normal high school weight (and if that subjective evidence isn’t impressive – and BTW health, not weight loss, was her objective – her cholesterol, BP and other “disease indicator” numbers have significantly dropped).

The Parents I’m Not Blaming

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Or, am I?

*   *   *

Department Of Not Ignoring The 800 Lb Gorilla In The Room

That would be the 450 lb gorilla named Harambe, an endangered silverback who is no longer in the room (at the Cincinnati Zoo). As you’ve probably heard by now, Harambe was shot and killed last week by zookeepers to protect a three-four year old [1] boy who had somehow climbed under a rail, through wires and over a moat wall to get into the gorilla’s enclosure.

Visitors. Guests. The Public  whatever you call them (that is, us), zoological parks, National and State Parks and wilderness preserves and  animal conservancies couldn’t exist without them.  And, as any park employee [2] can tell you, the most dangerous animals to be found at such preserves are the humans.

 

 

zoo1

 

 

MH and I have been members of the Oregon Zoo for a long time. Both our son K and daughter Belle were active in the ZooTeens program and other zoo internships, service and educational programs for 5+ years. Through our membership level, our own years of attending the zoo, and our kids’ involvement with some amazing mentors, we’ve been privy to behind-the-scenes info and stories from zoo staff and volunteers…which is leading up to this: you wouldn’t believe the crazy, stupid, irresponsible (and sometimes just plain malicious) shit some people will pull.

Take this story, of the Very Tall Dad who, holding his infant daughter in his arms, pushed through shrubbery to get as close as he could to the railing guarding the concrete moat surrounding the tiger enclosure. While his wife aimed her camera at him, VTD stretched his very long arms out as far as he could to make it appear as if he were dangling his baby above the tiger enclosure.

I heard about this from zoo employee ZE, a much-loved mentor to many ZooTeens. The afternoon this debacle-in-the-making unfolded, ZE happened to be walking by the tiger enclosure on her way another area of the zoo. She quickly approached the parents and pointed out that they were endangering both the tigers and their child. The parents were shocked out of their astonishing act of idiocy by the reality check from ZE, and thanked her accordingly:

Oh my goodness, you are so right, and we are so sorry! We were thoughtless and acted rashly, and set a bad example for other parents and children, and put you in an awkward situation. Thank you for bringing this to our attention.

 

 

REALLY

 

 

Of course they didn’t. Snap out of it!

The actual reaction: the father glared at ZE and snarled, Fuck you as he and his equally white trash negligent immature partner wife scurried away.

Over my two decades plus of zoo-going, I’ve received similar responses from The General Public ®  when I’ve kindly yet firmly pointed out to people that their children were climbing over/under barriers (not into animal enclosures, but barriers meant to keep people on the trail and not trample plant habitats) or tossing their litter into animal habitats or pounding their hands against terrarium walls or shrieking in front of enclosures (in defiance of signs clearly pointing out that the animal inhabitants were sensitive to loud noises) or otherwise yelling/roaring at/taunting the animals [3]….

 

 

zoo2

 

So. We have the template, of both intentional and unintentional negligence and even willful harm, that is part of what happens when you have people at zoos.  [4] And then, there are the accidents. A kid got away from his mom, somehow got into an animal enclosure, and a beloved, valuable member of a highly endangered species is dead.

Social media is doing what social media does: casting blame, seemingly without pausing for a moment’s reflection, and abetting what has become our new national pastime. Why pay $ for tickets to a baseball game when you can, for free and in the comfort of your own living room, shame/vilify/judge the parenting skills of other people? The parents should be brought up on child endangerment charges/shot and skinned and their hides sold and the money donated to endangered gorilla/wildlife  reserves….

 

 

Yet another thoughtful rumination.

Yet another thoughtful rumination.

 

 

My Unofficial Survey On The Matter ®  indicates that most people commenting online on the matter are blaming the parents (read: mother), while a smaller percentage fault the zoo for not having a foolproof enclosure: …it could be argued that she (the boy’s mother) surely trusted the zoo to have an enclosure that was childproof.”

And I surely trusted that most people who have the slightest familiarity with children doubled over with thigh-slapping laughter after reading that statement.

 

 

 

CAMEL

 

 

 

An enclosure that was childproof.  I made no such assumption when I took my kids to the zoo, or anywhere, for that matter – even to another family’s home. [5] There is not an enclosure in the world that is childproof, or (adult) human willful stupidity-proof.

It seems there is the opportunity every day, skimming through the news, for us read about the consequences of the human propensity for doing stupid things/not paying attention/thinking “it won’t happen to me.”  Yet, like most blowholes concerned citizens ruminating over this tragic affair, I wasn’t there. Thus, I can only imagine how the tragedy unfolded…and, of course, cast hindsight judgments about what zoo officials should or shouldn’t have done, and what the gorilla would or wouldn’t do, after viewing the one video that has surfaced.

What with our Selfie Society, wherein everyone is seemingly documenting every minute of their noteworthy lives, there’s got to be another shaky cellphone  recording of the incident (or a zoo security videocam) that might shed more light on the situation. Until that or other accounts surface, we’ve only a few bystander reports, including the story of A woman who witnessed the boy’s fall said she heard the youngster say he wanted to get in the water with the gorillas. She said the boy’s mother was with several other young children and told him no.

There will continue to be a crap-ton of second, third, and twentieth guessings: the mother will be blamed (perhaps, rightfully) for not noticing the boy signaling his intent to get into the enclosure and/or for her negligent parenting skills (who is responsible for the fact that her son obviously didn’t take her “no” seriously?!?!!?), while others will point out the naiveté and willfulness of a three year old.  And, seriously folks, what parents reasonably suspect that toddlers will follow through on every desire they express? “Mommy, I wanna play with the gorilla” does not immediately translate into the almost unthinkable, Uh oh, this means my kid is going to run away from me and find a way to get into that gorilla enclosure.

The parents of the boy aren’t talking (as of this writing), except for releasing a statement through a public relations firm – a statement that froze my butt, almost as much as the whole incident itself:

“We are so thankful to the Lord that our child is safe. He is home and doing just fine. We extend our heartfelt thanks for the quick action by the Cincinnati Zoo staff…”

 

Typical.

 

 

epicurious

 

 

The parents thanked their imaginary friend – for what? For apparently picking his holy nose while their child scrambled away from his mother and somehow got up/over/under barriers and fell into the gorilla enclosure? They thanked their “lord” for their boy’s safety, a “lord” who did nothing while the gorilla alternately (arguably) protected the boy and dragged him around the enclosure [6]?  What, pray tell,  [7] exactly, did that lord do to deserve thanks? Did their deity magically/invisibly aim the gun that the heartbroken keepers used to kill the gorilla – a beloved creature mourned by his caretakers as “a gentle giant” and “like a member of the family” –  in order to protect the errant toddler from his own folly and/or parental negligence?

Once again, I digress.

Look. The parenting thing: I’ve been “there,” and it is truly amazing, even frightening, how quickly a child can apparently vanish when you do the proverbial turn your head just for a moment to check on something.

But – you knew there was going to be a but, didn’t you? – I’ve also been to and witnessed the other “there.” I’ve seen the there where parents turn their heads for way more than for a moment –the there where parents carelessly and sometimes seemingly deliberately focus their attention elsewhere, and/or expect others to pick up their slack.

;

As animal expert Jeff Corwin put it, “the zoo is not your babysitter.” And, I would add, also not your babysitter is the candy aisle of the grocery store, the video and electronics section of Costco, the furniture section of the department store…nor any of the other public places and/or employees I’ve seen parents use as virtual/free childcare. Including the doctor’s office. [8]  [9]

 

*   *   *

May we all be accountable for our actions;
May we also be understanding of lapses in judgment and other human frailties;
May we work to ensure that empathetic humans are not an endangered species;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

*   *   *

 

 

[1] I have read conflicting reports as to the boy’sage.

[2] If you know them well enough and can get them alone/willing to speak off the record.

[3] This seems to be, in my experience, largely the territory of late adolescent/early adult young males who, when they get near the larger felines, bears and or other predator species, are trying to prove…what are they trying to prove?

[4] Or at the DMV, for that matter.

[5] I was One Of Those Parents © who asked other parents, when my kids were going to their house for the first time, if they had firearms in the house (and if so, how/where are they stored) and if there were cigarette smokers in the house (smokers tend to leave matches and lighters around, and every small child is an inherent firebug).

[6] Depending on which animal behavior expert’s interpretation you read.

[7] On second thought, ignore the expression. Don’t pray, just tell.

[8] “Oh, I can bring him in the room with me and you can just watch him for a bit, can’t you?” Sure, lady, it’ll be no problem for me to use my other four hands to restrain your child while I’m prepping the pap smear slide for the doctor who is PERFORMING YOUR PELVIC EXAM.

[9] Yes, that scenario has happened to me, and more than once, during my former reincarnation as a women’s reproductive health care assistant.

The Troops I’m Not Supporting

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Would you like to support our troops?

It’s that same woman outside the same grocery store, sitting at the same folding table covered with the same pile of camouflage pens and toys and ribbons and bracelets, and flag pins and bumper stickers and decals.  “Would you like to support our troops?” she says – a statement more than a question – and she waves her hand over the pile of schocky military-themed shit allegedly patriotic crap.

 

*  Is this a private charity, and if so, what is its name?

* Will I find your organization listed on Charity Navigator and/or give well and/or GiveWell and/or CharityWatch and/or other independent organizations that vet charities for cost effectiveness and transparency and efficiency and efficacy of donation usage?

* Do you have a statement on your administrative overhead/costs? If not, can you tell me where does the money go? How much do you make on each plastic brimmed camouflage hat, and what percentage of the sale of this…merchandise…goes to “the troops,” and by “the troops” what do you mean….?

Those are the questions I thought to ask, but didn’t. Instead, mindful that I had things to do/places to be, I responded tersely, but truthfully. I paused at the table, looked at the WTF? collection of items, then favored her with what I hoped was an expression of genuine regret at the ignorant naiveté of her request, and not the disgust I felt welling up.

“No, sorry, but buying plastic crap made in China does nothing to ‘help the troops.’ ” [1]

Her eyes glazed over; she did not engage me further but didn’t miss a beat calling out to the next person exiting the store. So when I saw her last Wednesday night, doing her same shtick, it was good thing she didn’t catch me because I’d vowed if she ever solicited me again I would waste a precious ten seconds telling her that what our troops really need is our help in electing leaders who will not send our soldiers to fight senseless, strategy-less, endless, oil-dependency fueled wars.

 

 

Feeling guilty about sending young Americans to fight overseas while you stay at home enjoying the comforts of your LazyBoy ® ? Not to worry, saying "Thank you for your service," to a soldier in uniform, plus sticking any of these decals on your vehicles is the equivalent of serving one tour of duty in Dumbfuckistan and crafting a rational foreign policy.

Feeling guilty about sending young Americans to fight overseas while you stay home enjoying the comforts of a LazyBoy ® ? Not to worry, saying “Thank you for your service,” to a soldier in uniform, plus sticking any of these decals on your vehicles, is the equivalent of serving one tour of duty in Dumbfuckistan and crafting a rational foreign policy.

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of That Which Defies Description  [1]

When Mariya Karimjee was little, members of her family made a decision that would affect her entire life. Years later, she wants to know why.

Such a down-to-earth introduction to a mind-blowing, heart-rending and yet ultimately, I’d argue, triumphant story – a story that (surprise!) is not about the Holocaust.  [2]

If you are up for a dose of humanity, please listen  [3]  to  Whose Great Idea Was This?”, from the most recent edition of This American Life: Who Do We Think We Are.

 

*   *   *

A Somewhat Happier Dose of Humanity; aka,
Department Of Making The Best Of Things Via Fun With Eggcorns

 

One of the few upsides of having an elderly, cognitively sketchy, memory-impaired parent, who is also hard of hearing, is having an exchange like that which I recently had with my mother  [4].

Context: phone call with my mom, updating her re various family members.  [5]   She asked about my son, K, who is, I assured her, in a happy place. He’s working at a job he likes, renting a house with friends, and – bonus for us! – he took one of the cats with him.  [6]

Moiself: “You may recall that MH and I have three indoor cats. The one named Tootsie – she’s with K, now.”

Mom: “I remember her. She’s the one with many toes. K took her? How nice.”

Moiself: “Yes, she’s living with him.”

Mom: “Oh, that’s a shame.”

Moiself: “Uh…what’s a shame?”

Mom: “That she’s an invalid.”

It took me a beat to realize, “She’s living with him” got translated as, “She’s an invalid.”

 

*   *   *

Department of And One More Thing

It can – and indeed has – been argued that living with any cat is like living with an invalid. A fussy, demanding, hard-to-please invalid.

 

"No, I said I wanted the mice purée served at room temp and my footbath steaming hot. It's so hard to find good help these days...."

“No, I said I want my mice purée served at room temp and my footbath steaming hot. It’s so hard to find good help these days….”

*   *   *

May you be inspired to help – troops, or anybody – in ways that truly do;
May you appreciate the whimsy of eggcorns, no matter the source;
May you enjoy kind of pleasure that comes from foisting off a yet another household responsibility onto sharing a beloved pet with your adult child;
and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] And yet, someone finds the strength to do so.

[2] Although it could be argued it is about another kind of Holocaust, wherein a group of people are abused solely because they belong to a certain category as defined by those in power.

[3] You could get the transcript, but I think there is more power in hearing the voices of those in the story.

[4] Assurances for the easily concerned: my mother has no computer access, doesn’t read my blog, doesn’t know that I write a blog, doesn’t know what a blog is….

[5] That is, repeating the same information during every phone call (and often more than once during the same call).

[6] Now, if only he would take one or both of the snakes….

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