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The Planet I’m Not Worshipping

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Department Of The Partridge Of The Week

It’s that time of the year again. As has become a tradition much maligned anticipated in our neighborhood, moiself  will be hosting a different Partridge, every week, in my front yard.   [1]

Can you guess this week’s guest Partridge?

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Yet Another Blast From The Past

Seeing as how MH and I are hosting Thanksgiving/harvest day festivities at our Humble Abode ®, moiself  will not be sober enough able to do my usual Thursday night blog editing. 

 

 

Thus, a rerun.

Apropos of…something I’ve already forgotten, I was recently given cause to look up what I had, previously in this space, written about ancestor worship (from 2-17-17):

 

 

As regular readers of this blog know (and new or sporadic readers will likely surmise), I am not a religious person. I was raised by church-going, Christian parents;  [2]   flirted with/researched a variety of denominations during/post college; was a member (even served as a deacon, holy shit!) of a UCC church  [3]  for many years; happily (read: finally) came out over 15 years ago as a lifelong skeptic-atheist-Freethinker-Bright.

While I hold a modicum of respect for some of the ideals and practices of, say, contemporary non-theistic Buddhism and Unitarianism and Jainism, I find all religions to be more-or less silly/offensive/just plain fallacious. There is one “spiritual” practice, however, which I can somewhat understand, if only in that it makes a teesny-tiny, infinitesimally wee bit o’ sense:

Ancestor worship.

 

 

Yes, really.

Make that, ancestor *veneration,* not worship. For the love of the FSM,   [4]   get off your knees, open your eyes, and stop bowing your head – nobody should “worship” anything.

Worship: VERB
[with object] Show reverence and adoration for (a deity)
1.1  [no object] Take part in a religious ceremony.
(English Oxford Living Dictionary)

Unlike the claims of religions which have one or more deities, you don’t have to take your ancestors’ existence on “faith”  [5]  – you know they have lived (you yourself are evidence of that); you’ve likely met them one, or two or sometimes even three, generations back. From the photo albums and other heirlooms to the birth certificates, school and county records, family businesses, homes, farmsteads, and kinfolk near and far, you’ve an idea of what they have “given” you, materially, intellectually and emotionally – you’ve some idea what you might be grateful for.

Best of all, you’ve little incentive to argue or go to war with other people over whose interpretation of what their Imaginary Friend wants is correct. Your neighbor’s ancestors are their business, and yours are yours.

Of course, the option of ancestor veneration leaves out a small subset of people: those who have little or no knowledge of their forebears, such as certain kinds of adoptees,   [6]  as well as those who have just enough information (e.g., children in the foster care system) to…well, I’ll put it this way: if you come from two generations of meth addicts, ancestor veneration might not be the spiritual practice to float your boat.

Now then.  By ancestor veneration I’m not talking any kind of belief system wherein the dead are beseeched to intercede on behalf of the living – that’s just as silly as all the others. I do not believe that my deceased grandparents and parents have a continued existence in a spirit world, or that their spirits look after moiself  and my family in particular or the world in general, or that they somehow can influence the fate of the living. I’m talking about a practice of honor and appreciation, in which a person might use the roads paved and trails blazed by previous generations as a focal point for remembrance and gratitude.

 

Thanks for the dimples, Dad.

 

I’m not sure what brought the previous topic to mind.  A likely suspect is the recent death of my mother. Anyway, y’all have my permission to honor your ancestors…as well as my fervent wish that that is as far as your theology goes. However, as I look at the state of the world, it appears that the old superstitions have some staying power. As long as people will continue to proclaim and dispute over whose invisible leader is the best-est, I’d like someone to come up with another dog in the fight.

As the Bay Area’s own Huey Lewis, the Bard Of The Bammies, once sang, I Want A New Drug.

Putting it yet another way, y’all have my encouragement (if you are religiously inclined) to come up with a new religion, within the following parameters: in this belief system, it is the men who are required, in one form or another, to cover themselves.

That’s it. Yep. That’s the entire theology in a nutshell.   [7]

From a light veil or hijab – make, that, he-jab –  to a full-body, Bro-burqa, your theology must include all the usual nonsense reasons (modesty; an easily offended deity; protection from your fellow believers who will beat the holy crap out of you if you show any evidence of human form) as to why certain people –  in this case, those with boy parts – must be covered in public.

Duuuuude – put a scarf on it.

 

We swear on Her Holy name, it doesn’t make your butt look big, no, not at all.

 

*   *   *

That was then; this is now.  Last week, reveling in an awesome autumn day, I found moiself  thinking about Wicca and/or the contemporary pagan/nature spiritualities – those which mark the passing of the seasons – as another category of spiritual practices which make more sense to me.  This doesn’t mean I am or would consider being a sun or “goddess” worshiper; it’s just that, unlike the tenants of the so-called “revealed” religions,   [8]   with those nature-centered ideologies we can see and directly experience what is being venerated.

Humans living in extreme regions –  i.e., at the poles or the equator (or Southern California) –  [9]   don’t have the dramatic difference of the four season changes that we who inhabit the middle latitudes experience.  Still, the earth has seasons and cycles; we live here; they affect us.   But again, this form of spirituality gets my Nod Of Approval® for *acknowledgement,* not worship.  As in, after a period of torrential downpour I appreciate the sun; after an unremittingly unrelenting bout of summer heat moiself  appreciates the rain.

 

 

*   *   *

Punz For The Day
Planet Earth Edition

How can you tell the ocean is friendly?
It waves.

I love the way the Earth rotates – it makes my day.

How can you tell Mother Nature watches a lot of Oprah from June – November?
Because it looks like everybody gets a hurricane.

 

*   *   *

May you take care of your Mother;
May you appreciate the seasons;
May you enjoy those leftovers;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

[1] Specifically, in our pear tree.

[2] Lutheran, specifically: what was once called the ALC and now ELCA, for those obsessives interested in denominational nitpicking. It wasn’t one of the “synod” denominations (Missouri & Wisconsin), which are closer to Catholicism in their conservative doctrines (e.g. women cannot be ordained as ministers; liking to snipe about other denominations as being the “not true” faiths) .

[3] Which I have, since leaving, recommended to people who, for whatever reasons, are looking for a liberal Christian church experience and/or community.

[4] The Flying Spaghetti Monster.   “All praise to his noodly appendage.”

[5] Although, especially at Thanksgiving when someone brings up politics, you may have to take them with a helluva big grain of salt.

[6] If you’re counting “blood” kin as the only kind of ancestors which matter. Which I hope you are not.

[7] Which is the proper receptacle for all theologies.

[8] Revealed religions are religions based on the supposed revelations of god(s) to humans, particularly as described in the scriptures of those religions. Thus, the existence of these gods depends on revelation by said gods, to humans, of ideas that would not have been arrived at by natural reason alone. Examples of revealed religions are the primary monotheistic faiths – Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Baha’ism, Mormonism, Hinduism, Sikhism.

[9] Growing up in So Cal we used to joke we had two seasons:  brown and tan.

The Holiday I’m Not Renaming

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Department Of It’s The Little Things Which Make Life Worth Living
In These Trying Political Times

Dateline: Tuesday afternoon. Apropos of…whatever, my offspring, son K and daughter Belle, have this exchange on our family messenger group, Yep!!!! Cats!!!!     [1]     (sans pix; these are my illustrations):

K:
I did not realize how truly gigantic Fetterman is.
He’s like 6’9.”

Since words and reason don’t work we now have Fetterman

to give the insane senators a swirly.

Belle:
(thumbs up)
First on the list: Mitch McConnell.

 

 

Belle:
Although I think just turning him upside-down would kill him,

probably couldn’t even get to the swirly part.

 

 

 

Moiself  walked around the rest of the afternoon with a big smile on my face, thanks to the imagery provided by my offspring. 

 

Relax, Mitchie-boy. Just think of it as your well-deserved spa treatment.

 

*   *   *

Department Of Another Good Thing ® About Social Media

There’s no shortage of criticisms of the various social media outlets, and most critiques are legit, I’d wager.   [2]   Even as I am encouraging those who complain about supporting a certain megalomaniac to drop their Twitter accounts and stop buying Teslas, moiself  remains on one social media site: Facebook. Here’s one of the reasons why.

Dateline: earlier this week.   A FB friend posts pictures of his grandchild‘s visit to what looks to be an amusement park, and picture shows the child playing that classic arcade game, Whac-a-mole. Seeing this picture prompts a lovely flashback for moiself – a memory I’ve not thought of in decades.

Dateline of memory: A long time in a galaxy far far away (Southern California). I am visiting my parents at their home in Santa Ana.  It’s summertime, and the County Fair is on.  My parents tell me they haven’t been to a state or county fair in ages, and suggest we go. And so we do. As we walk past the various cheesy games and merchandise and food booths, nothing catches our interest, until we come to an arcade. I espy a Whac-A-Mole game, and instantly am obsessed with getting my mother to play it.

 

 

My mother is hesitant, despite my enthusiastic recommendation. She knows nothing about it, she says (Even better!!!, moiself  thinks to  moiself ) I assure her that it’s a straightforward game, no complicated strategy or levels or scenarios: she simply must hold the mallet and whack the heads of the moles as they pop up from the console.

“Why?” she asks me.

“There’s no time to get existential right now,” I reply.  I put my two quarters in the slot, press the game’s start button and put the mallet in my mother’s hand.  “You don’t want me to waste fifty cents, right, Mom? Look – there’s one!  Pretend it’s digging up your rosebushes!”

Unlike the champ in the above video, my mother is exquisitely awful at Whac-A-Mole. Her timing is atrocious; even so, she soon gets into it in her own way, emitting a high-pitched, “Oh!” whenever a mole head appears, followed by her delayed whack at its head. My father and I, standing to the side of the game console, are doubled over with laughter as we watch my mild-mannered mother, with an increasing maniacal look in her eyes, pursues those pesky moles:

“Oh!”
(whack)

“Oh!”
(whack)

“Oh!” (whack) “Oh!” (whack)

“Oh oh oh oh oh oh!”
(whack whack whack whack whack whack)

It is one of my favorite memories of her.

 

This is another one.

 

I haven’t gone to a county fairs in years and it’s been even longer since I’ve even seen a Whac-a-mole game.  So, then:  would that memory have been prompted by anything else, save for a post on social media? It’s not like I would have seen a picture of my friend’s grandchild playing this game – like most of my FB friends, we don’t have a letter-writing kind of relationship.  

*   *   *

Department Of Well That’s Not Up To Their Usual Standards

Moiself  is referring to the recent rerun of an interview with (the late) Loretta Lynn on Fresh Air .

It was a tad interesting, due to the skills of FA host, Terry Gross, arguably   [3]  the best interviewer out there.  But IMO it was not up to the usual FA standards.  This was because Lynn was (again, IMO)….  There’s no easy way to say it.  The guest can make or break the interview.  And it wasn’t that Lynn was a “bad” guest, or an audaciously humorless and insufferably boorish one like a notable few TG has dealt with.  [4]   On the contrary.  Lynn was pleasant enough, but it seemed to me that she was also…well… rather…simple, or basic. Not plucking every string on her guitar, so to speak.

 

In the history of country music, LL’s talent was even bigger than her hair.

 

LL seemed not at all interested in self-reflection and/or discussing or exploring how she writes her songs.  Okay; fine; her prerogative.  But then, why agree to be come on a show where the whole point is to talk about your work as a female singer who broke ground in her genre for writing her own songs?

The point of a FA interview with a musician/singer/songwriter is to reflect upon one’s work, technique, inspiration, and so on.  Which Lynn summed up in sentences like, “Oh, I don’t really know,” or “I don’t like to talk about that.” Lynn’s songs are personal – she’s said in previous interviews that her husband was, in one way or another, “in every song” she wrote, yet she wouldn’t go further when FA  host TG would ask her about *how* or why her husband is in a particular song.

And TG let her get away with it.

LL’s song Fist City is borderline hilarious in some ways and disturbing in others.  And TG did not probe into that, as I have heard her done, through the years – the decades now –  that I’ve been listening to FA interviews.  Gross is insightful and persistent as an interviewer, and respectfully so.  She typically does not give up after one attempted conversational diversion by a guest.  And her guest was country music legend Loretta Lynn, who has written all these classic country songs about women trying to take her man (including, wait for it: “You Ain’t Woman Enough To Take My Man”), and… hello? What are those lyrics about?

 

 

If it had been any other songwriter, I think TG would have asked more persistently about the song’s implications.  She did try, but Lynn wasn’t having any of it.  “Oh I don’t want to talk about that,” LL would purr, in her soft Kentucky lilt.

I wanted TG to get LL to at least to consider why people might want LL to talk about that problem – about how she was really singing about, writing about, the wrong problem.  When LL sang about how some women were ‘after,’ (her words) her man, the underlying problem wasn’t those women.

Loretta Lynn, the woman who wrote so empathetically about birth control liberating women from the life of a brood mare (“The Pill”), and the trials of a divorced woman having people think that just because she’s divorced she’s loose/available (“Rated X”) didn’t seem capable of, or willing to, consider the fact that it was her husband who was the problem. He married her, but chased after other women.  But Lynn…wouldn’t go there.
And TG, in deference to Lynn’s age, status and/or “sweetness,” didn’t seem willing to push it the way I think she would have with another musician…or politician, or writer or artist or sports figure or…..  Is that ultimately respectful, or patronizing?

 

 

   *    *   *

Department Of The Big Day Next Week

The more I know about the origins and mythologies (read: lies) about Thanksgiving, the less I want to call it that.

I’ve always had a certain ambivalence regarding Tday.  Even as a child, I suspected we weren’t being told the truth about that much vaunted Happy Time Between Indians and Pilgrims ®.  Historians are starting to speak up, and…how can I put this?  Folks, if the Readers Digest, hardly The Socialist Review, is willing to address this issue, that means it’s way past time the rest of us did.

 

 

“Thanksgiving is both uniquely American and full of treasured traditions. But this rosy picture of modern celebrations leaves out most of the real history of Thanksgiving….
Yes, you can still settle down with family to give thanks. But it’s important to know what you’re celebrating and unlearn some long-held myths.”
…. What’s the harm in believing the happy version so many of us grew up with? It’s just a story, right? This whitewashing downplays the long and bloody series of conflicts between white settlers and Native Americans that would occur over the next two centuries…..
‘Narratives of a harmonious Thanksgiving celebration were created to justify westward expansion and Manifest Destiny,’…. The term Manifest Destiny, coined more than two centuries after the first Thanksgiving, was the belief that settlers were destined by God to expand across America and prosper….

Myth: The “first Thanksgiving” started the tradition that founded the holiday.
Truth: The harvest celebration of 1621 was not called Thanksgiving and was not repeated every year. The next official ‘day of thanksgiving’ was after settlers massacred more than 400 Pequot men, women and children. Governor Bradford’s journal decreed, ‘For the next 100 years, every Thanksgiving Day ordained by a governor is in honor of the bloody victory, thanking God that the battle had been won.’

We should add that to our list of favorite Thanksgiving quotes as a stark reminder of the real history of Thanksgiving.”
(“The Real History of Thanksgiving,” Readers Digest, 11-15-22)

 

 

I like the idea of a holiday involving gratitude, and one in which friends and family get together for a celebratory meal.  As for what is in the meal, as the years have gone by, my own dietary preferences have changed – although even as a child I never was all that fond of the big bland boring turkey and wondered what all the fuss was about.    [5]  Moiself  likes the idea of variety feast, rather than a fixed menu.  [6] 

Moiself  also likes that which is practiced by our neighbors to the north.  Canadian Thanksgiving, which I and my family have experienced thanks to the generosity of a dear Canadian friend and (former) neighbor, is more of a general harvest celebration, without a traditional fixed menu.

Hmmm, so, how’s about Harvest Fest Gratitude DayGrativest Day? Harvitude Day?

 

Yeah, like that’s gonna fly.

 

Perhaps I’m being persnickety here.  After all, I’m the one who points out the secular origins of Christmas, which I don’t insist on renaming it, for the same reasons that, for example, I call the middle day of the week Wednesday even though I do not worship the Germanic god for whom the day is named.  Still, knowing the origins of Thanksgiving and the subsequent mythologies which promoted it, I can’t help but wish for a name change.

But that’s about as likely to happen as Elon Musk is likely to gift the running of Twitter to the Southern Poverty Law Center, sell his holdings in Tesla and donate the profits to Greenpeace, then take a vow of abstemious living and join a Buddhist monastery.

Ah, but it’s good to dream.

 

*   *   *

Punz For The Day
Tday Edition

How did Ziggy Stardust express his gratitude to the Thanksgiving host for serving her tasty sweet potato casserole?
“Wham, yam, thank you ma’am.”

My family advised me to stop telling Thanksgiving jokes,
but I said I couldn’t quit cold turkey.

How does rapper Sir Mixalot, who loathes pumpkin pie,
express his Thanksgiving dessert preference?
“I like big bundts and I cannot lie.”

 

I’ll give her points for not eating us, but really, these jokes are fowl.

 

*   *   *

 

May you have a good feast with friends and family, whatever you call it;
May visions of Mitch-getting-a-swirley warm the cockles of your heart;
May you find a whac-a-mole game and go to town;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

[1] So named, by MH…I can’t remember the specifics, but it had to do with one of us commenting about all of us posting cat pictures yet again.  It has evolved into a family message board…with – yep! – lots of cat-sighting pictures.

[2] Wager, rather than aver, because I’m not on most social media and thus can’t speak from direct experience.

[3] As in, you could argue with me about this, but you’d lose.

[4] As in her FA interviews with Bill O’Reilly and Gene Simmons.

[5] My most memorable Tday was when the friend of a host brought a huge chinook salmon he’d caught the previous day in Alaska, and the hosts, my aunt and uncle, roasted it simply, with herbs and lemon juice.  I WAS AMAZED.

[6] Also, I haven’t eaten meat for years, so there goes that feast centerpiece.

The Tribalism I’m Not Embracing

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What would ushering in the holiday season be without The Dropkick Murphys?

 

 

Speaking of holidays, since 2008 I’ve kept track of how many greedy candy mongers trick-or-treaters have graced our porch.  The numbers range from a low of 25   [1]   to a high of 63, with an average of 45.  This year we had 26.

 

 

 

 

Only twenty-six?  MH and I were speculating about the downswing (last year’s count was 60). Combination of a school night and the (at times heavy) rain?  It couldn’t be the latter…oh, c’mon, kids (and parents), this is Oregon.

Last year we gave out full-sized   [2]  candy bars.  This year (before moiself  knew what would be the lame turnout) I wanted to do something different. I walked up and down supermarket aisles, looking for inspiration.  And found plenty. 

Here are the things I wanted to give out to trick or treaters:  Small jars/cans of pimentos or black olives or cornichons or sweet corn or Liquid Smoke or soy sauce or…Beanee Weenees!  Of course, if word got out that we were distributing the latter, the kiddies would leave skidmarks from our neighbors’ porches to our own.

 

Accept no substitutions.

 

Here are the things we *did* give out to trick or treaters:

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of The Perspective That Could Save Us   [3]

From the podcast Unexplainable, The Gray Area:  “On the first episode of Vox’s new podcast, The Gray Area, host Sean Illing talks with Neil deGrasse Tyson about the limits of both politics and science.”  What caught my attention was NDT’s assertion that taking a “cosmic perspective” is the most rational and helpful– and arguably the only– thing that can solve our myriad of social, political and environmental challenges.  This is an excerpt from their discussion:

NDT:
What’s the most intelligent species there ever was on earth?

SI:
 Oh…you’re setting me up. Um, since you’re asking me, it can’t be people…

NDT:
No, it *is* people; it’s not a trick question.  So now I ask, who declared that humans are the smartest animals there ever were?  Humans did.
Whereas a cosmic perspective would say, imagine a lifeform smarter than we are:  Is there anything we have done in the history of civilization that (this smarter-than-us lifeform) would judge to be clever?

 

 

This was a great 1980s, one-woman play (written by Jane Wagner and starring Lily Tomlin), which was being revived in early 2022, starring Cecily Strong.

 

 

NDT:

It’s a simple thought experiment, when we compare ourselves to chimpanzees, our closest genetic relative.  We have 98, 99% identical DNA to a chimp. Now, if you’re really into homo sapiens you say, What a difference that 2% makes! We have philosophy and the Hubble telescope and art and civilization! And all the chimp can do is maybe extract termites from a mound, and the smartest of them will stack boxes to reach hanging bananas from the ceiling.
 But I pose you the question: suppose the intelligence difference between chimps and humans was actually as small as that 2% might indicate.  What would we look like to some other species that’s 2% beyond us in intelligence – just the 2% that we are beyond the chimps?
Continue on that line. The smartest chimps can do what our toddlers can do.  By that analogy, the smartest humans would do what the toddlers of this species can do.
Putting all that in context, all I’m saying is that for you to say we’re pretty clever… another species 2% beyond us, there’s nothing we could do that would impress them.
So, that species visiting earth on the rumor that intelligent life had surfaced, after seeing our rampant irrationalities – the wars we fight against our own species, because you live on a different line in the sand, because resources are unequally distributed on the land and in the ocean, because you worship a different god, because you sleep with different people – and we slaughter each other and enslave people….  Those aliens will run home and say, “There is no sign of intelligent life on earth.”
It’s a cosmic perspective, offered for your consideration.

SI:
This …is (your) central plea…that we take a more cosmic perspective on things…

NDT:
On *everything.*

SI:
 …on everything, and achieve some clarity about what really matters and what doesn’t, and how stupid so many of the things that we *think* are important really are…

NDT:
I wouldn’t say stupid so much as just kind of irrelevant. You think it’s important and it’s actually not. That’s a more significant value of a cosmic perspective: it forces you to rebalance your portfolios of concerns in the world.

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of A Cosmic Perspective Is Definitely Needed Here

The LA Times is one of four (online) newspapers moiself  subscribes to, and I’ve been watching (as in, reading about) the following scandal unfold for…yikes, is it weeks, now?  The machinations of local/Los Angeles politics may be way off most people’s current events radar; however, even those with no interest in such, even those with their heads under the proverbial rock when it comes to west coast politics, by now have likely heard of the LA City Council recording scandal.

The scandal in a nutshell:   [4]   An anonymously leaked recording of a private conversation among LA City Council members and a labor leader making racist and classist remarks and political scheming regarding redistricting has prompted a state investigation, and led to the resignation of the LA City Council president and said labor leader.

“Behind closed doors, Los Angeles City Council President Nury Martinez made openly racist remarks, derided some of her council colleagues and spoke in unusually crass terms about how the city should be carved up politically….
Martinez and the other Latino leaders present during the taped conversation were seemingly unaware they were being recorded as Martinez said a councilmember handled his young Black son as though he were an “accessory” and described the boy as “Parece changuito,” or “like a monkey.”…
Martinez also mocked Oaxacans, and said “F— that guy … He’s with the Blacks” while speaking about Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. George Gascón.

( “Racist remarks in leaked audio of L.A. council members spark outrage, disgust,”
LA Times 10-9-22)

 

 

 

 

Moiself  listened to excerpts of the recorded audio tape…as much as I could stand, before switching to reading the key moments of the transcripts.    [5]    In private conversations among three council members and an LA Labor leader – all Latino and all Democrats –  Councilmembers Nury Martinez, Kevin De León and Gil Cedillo scheme with LA county labor dude Ron Herrera re redistricting plans; Martinez disparages Oaxacans as “little short dark people” and “so ugly” and refers to a (white, gay) councilmember’s Black son as a monkey who, in her opinion, needs a “beatdown.” Re LA County Dist. Atty. George Gascón, Martinez said, “Fuck that guy. … He’s with the Blacks.”  None of the others present and participating in the conversation disputed or called out Martinezon her remarks –  which also included crass and bigoted comments about Jews, Armenians, and other groups….

I felt a little bit left out at some point.  Martinez insulted just about everyone but middle aged white ex-Californians who moved to Oregon.

When reading about the scandal, I was reminded so much about what I think is a fact being overlooked here.  Nury Martinez was caught acting out one of our collective human traits on steroids:  she was revealing her tribalism.

 

Picture from 4-2-12 Newsweek article by biologist E.O. Wilson,
Why Humans, Like Ants, Need a Tribe.

 

We home sapiens are a tribal species. It’s too bad that the whole concept of race has entered human consciousness, as we are not different “races,” whatever that means. We are not racial – that term is a misnomer invented by European naturalists and anthropologists in the early 18th century.    [6]

“More than 100 years ago, American sociologist W.E.B. Du Bois was concerned that race was being used as a biological explanation for what he understood to be social and cultural differences between different populations of people. He spoke out against the idea of ‘white’ and ‘black’ as discrete groups, claiming that these distinctions ignored the scope of human diversity.
Science would favor Du Bois. Today, the mainstream belief among scientists is that race is a social construct without biological meaning.”
(   Race Is a Social Construct, Scientists Argue,”  Scientific American 2-5-16)

“(The tape’s) comments about Black and Indigenous people displayed a prejudice against darker skin that, while not ubiquitous, still runs deep in the community and is rooted in the colonial eras of Mexico and Central America.
‘This is not just four bad apples,’ said Alejandra Valles, chief of staff of SEIU United Service Workers West.
‘We have to use this opportunity as reflection and honesty about the anti-Blackness, the anti-Indigenous colorism and racism in the Latino community. Because that’s happening.’ ”
(“ L.A. Latinos grapple with familiar colorism against Black and Indigenous people in racist tape,” Rachel Uranga, Los Angeles Times, 10-17-22)

Interesting, to me, that comment about the bad apples. Because that’s it – that’s the dang the thing about “race.” We are all from the same apple tree, and yet we pick at each other.

 

“You want bad apples? I’ll show you bad apples.”

 

Race.  It’s an unfortunate entry in our Lexicon of Life. We are not racial, but we are definitely tribal at our core…maybe I’m just quibbling re semantics.  However we define “we,” we spend our lives scrambling like roaches across the floors of an old San Francisco apartment kitchen, trying to make sure we get (what we perceive to be) our share but wanting to hide our maneuverings when the light comes on.

We have obsessive concerns, so majorly illuminated in the LA Council tapes, of alliances between our various tribes and the tribes within the tribes – woe to anyone naive enough to think that, for example, all White or Latino or Black politicians are a monolithic bloc.  Read the transcripts; listen to the tape and hear the concern over alliances, over who is from where.  Listen as the entrenched Mexican-American politician spews (and thus reveals) the colorism of her ancestral roots as she derides the “short ugly” Oaxacans (who are so irritating as to also want political power    [7] ) and that DA who, although he has a Hispanic surname, “Fuck him, he’s with the Blacks.”

Who is in power; who wants power; who can we trust to share the power?  Who is one of us; who could be one of us, but “us” doesn’t really want “them” included.

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of This Needs Repeating

The cosmic perspective flows from fundamental knowledge. But it’s more than just what you know. It’s also about having the wisdom and insight to apply that knowledge to assessing our place in the universe. And its attributes are clear:

* The cosmic perspective comes from the frontiers of science, yet it’s not solely the province of the scientist. The cosmic perspective belongs to everyone.

* The cosmic perspective is humble.

* The cosmic perspective is spiritual—even redemptive—but not religious.

* The cosmic perspective enables us to grasp, in the same thought, the large and the small.

* The cosmic perspective opens our minds to extraordinary ideas but does not leave them so open that our brains spill out, making us susceptible to believing anything we’re told.

* The cosmic perspective opens our eyes to the universe, not as a benevolent cradle designed to nurture life but as a cold, lonely, hazardous place.

* The cosmic perspective shows Earth to be a mote, but a precious mote and, for the moment, the only home we have.

* The cosmic perspective finds beauty in the images of planets, moons, stars, and nebulae but also celebrates the laws of physics that shape them.

* The cosmic perspective enables us to see beyond our circumstances, allowing us to transcend the primal search for food, shelter, and sex.

* The cosmic perspective reminds us that in space, where there is no air, a flag will not wave—an indication that perhaps flag waving and space exploration do not mix.

* The cosmic perspective not only embraces our genetic kinship with all life on Earth but also values our chemical kinship with any yet-to-be discovered life in the universe, as well as our atomic kinship with the universe itself.

(“The Cosmic Perspective” By Neil deGrasse Tyson
Natural History Magazine, April 2007, The 100th essay in the “Universe” series.)

 

 

*   *   *

  Department Of Regarding Next Week’s Elections,
This, Unfortunately, Says It All   [8]

“Liz Cheney and I are not brave. We are just surrounded by cowards.”
Rep. Adam Kinzinger ( R ) Illinois

*   *   *

Punz For The Day
Political Tribes Edition

I don’t approve of political jokes; I’ve seen too many of them get elected.

Republicans should build their border walls with Hillary’s emails
because nobody can get over them.

I knew Communism was doomed from the beginning – too many red flags.

What’s the difference between Rep. Marjorie Taylor Green and a flying pig?
The letter F.

What do you call a Russian procrastinator?
Putinoff.

 

I’ll laugh about this later.

 

*   *   *

May a cosmic perspective help you to rebalance your portfolios of concerns in the world;
May you be cognizant of your own tribalisms;
May you value your atomic kinship with the universe itself;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

[1]  Did not do in 2020.  Hmm, I wonder what was happening then?

[2] Not the “fun” size featured in most stores, as Halloween staples. For kids, since when does fun = smaller?

[3] From…ourselves?

[4] An appropriate container…if nuts were the size of 747s.

[5] As of this writing I think investigators still have no idea who did the recording, and who “released” it.

[6] Marked by the publication of the book Systema naturae in 1735, in which the Swedish naturalist Carl Linnaeus proposed a classification of humankind into four distinct races. (“Race and History: Comments from an Epistemological Point of View” National Library of Medicine, )

[7] Indigenous Oaxacans expressed frustration and anger at Martinez’s comments referring to them as “little short dark people” — a racist stereotype often used to demean Indigenous communities. “I was like, I don’t know where these people are from, I don’t know what village they came [from], how they got here,” Martinez said, before adding “Tan feos” — “They’re ugly.”  (“For Oaxacans in L.A., City Council members’ racist remarks cut deep,” LA Times, 10-11-22)

[8] And I hope, after next week’s election results, we won’t still be saying it.

The Holiday War I’m (Still) Not Declaring

1 Comment

Grab your sleigh bells and gird your garland-wrapped loins: you can practically smell the mistletoe in my annual, here-comes-the-holiday-season blog post:

Department Of Here They Come

Halloween (aka All Hallow’s Eve); Samhain; All Saint’s Day; El Dia de los Muertos; Mischief Night, Diwali

In the USA and in northern hemisphere countries around the world, there are multiple holidays with a relationship to “our” Halloween.  The relationship is as per the time of year and/or the theme, underlying beliefs, customs or origins of the various celebrations.

Many of these holidays originated as dual celebrations, acknowledgments of times of both death and rebirth, as celebrants marked the end of the harvest season and acknowledged the cold, dark winter to come.

And after Halloween, the holiday season really gets going.

 

 

*   *   *

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)

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of If Something Seems Familiar, That’s Because It’s Time For
My Annual Holiday Traditions Explained ® Post

What do we vegetarians, vegans, non-meat and/or plant-based eaters
do on Thanksgiving?
( Other than, according to your Aunt Erva, RUIN  IT  FOR  EVERYONE  ELSE.   [1]  )

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.   [2]

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of I’ll Take Those Segues Where I Can Find Them

Four 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,  [3]

Heathens Declare War On Christmas © post.

 

 

As to those Henny Penny/Chicken Little hysterics proclaiming a so-called “war” on Christmas, a rational person can only assume that they are not LGBTQ, or Jewish or a member of another minority religion, or an ethnic minority – in other words, they’ve never experienced actual bigotry (or actual combat). If they had, it’s likely they would not have trivialized discrimination (or war) with their whining.

The usage of “Happy Holidays” as an “attack on Christianity” is an invention of right-wing radio talk show hosts.  Happy Holidays is nothing more nor less than an encompassing shorthand greeting – an acknowledgement of the incredible number of celebratory days, religious and otherwise, which in the U.S. is considered to start in October with Halloween, moving on to November with Thanksgiving (although our Canadian neighbors and friends celebrate their Thanksgiving in October) and extends into and through January, with the various New Year’s celebrations.

It is worthwhile to note that while many if not most Americans, Christian or not, celebrate Christmas, there are also some Christians who, on their own or as part of their denomination’s practice or decree (e.g., Jehovah’s Witnesses and The Worldwide Church of God), do not celebrate Christmas     [4]   (nor did our much-ballyhooed forebears, the Pilgrims).  Also, the various Orthodox Christians use calendars which differ from most Protestant and Catholic calendars (a biggie for them at this time of the year is the Nativity of Christ, which occurs on or around January 7).

Happy Holidays — it’s plural, and for good reason.  It denotes the many celebrations that happen during these months.  People in the northern hemisphere countries, from South Americans and Egyptians to the Celts and Norskis, have marked the Winter Solstice for thousands of years, and many still do.  And some Americans, including our friends, neighbors and co-workers, celebrate holidays that although unconnected with the winter solstice occur near it, such as Ramadan, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa.

 

In 2023 the Chinese (lunar) New Year begins on Jan 22.

 

Most folks are familiar with the “biggies”- Halloween, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day. But don’t forget the following holidays, many of which we’ve learned about (or celebrated with) via our children’s teachers and fellow students, and our neighbors and co-workers.

* The Birth of the Prophet (Nov. 12) and Day of the Covenant (Nov. 26) are both Baha’i holy days  (our family has had Baha’i teachers, childcare providers, and neighbors).

* St. Nicholas Day (Dec. 6)

* Bodhi Day.  Our Buddhist friends and neighbors celebrate Bodhi Day on December 8 (or on the Sunday immediately preceding).

* Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe (Dec 12)

* St. Lucia Day (Dec. 13) Our Swedish neighbors and friends celebrate St. Lucia Day, as did one of Belle’s and K’s schools, when they were in grade school (Belle, as the oldest 3rd grade girl, got to play St. Lucia).

* Bill of Rights Day (Dec 15)

* Pancha Ganapati Festival (one of the most important Hindu festivals, Dec. 21st through the 25th,  celebrated by many of MH’s coworkers)

* The Winter Solstice (varies, Dec.  21 or 22 this year on the 21st )

* Little Christmas Eve (Dec.  23) Celebrated by my family, LCE was a custom of the small Norwegian village of my paternal grandfather’s ancestors.

* Boxing Day (Dec. 26), celebrated by our Canadian-American and British-American neighbors and friends.

*Ramadan and/or Eid, the Islamic New Year (as Islam uses a lunar calendar the dates of their holidays varies, but these holidays are usually November-December)

* The Chinese New Year.  I always look forward to wishing my sister-in-law, a naturalized American citizen who is Cantonese by birth, a Gung Hay Fat Choy.  (The Chinese Lunar calendar is the longest chronological record in history, dating from 2600 BCE.  The New Year is celebrated on second new moon after the winter solstice, and so can occur in January or February).

This is not a complete list. See why it’s easier to say, “Happy Holidays?”

The USA is one of the most religiously diverse nations in the world.  To insist on using the term “Merry Christmas” as the all-encompassing seasonal greeting could be seen as an attack on the religious beliefs of all of the Americans who celebrate the other holiday and festivals.  At the least, it denotes the users’ ignorance of their fellow citizens’ beliefs and practices.

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Did You Know…

…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.”   [5]

…that because of its known pagan origins, Christmas was banned by the Puritans, and its observance was illegal in Massachusetts until 1681.   [6]

 

 

“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 traditional celebrations, and so the church, eventually and effectively, simply renamed most of them.    [7]

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 a 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.   [8]   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.   [9]   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 brazen little sheisskopfs 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.  [10]   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   [11]   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.    [12]

In other words, why are some folk concerned with “keeping the Christ in Christmas”  [13]  when we should be keeping the Saturn in Saturnalia?

 

*   *   *

Punz For The Day
The Approaching Holiday Season Edition

What is a jack-o’-lantern’s favorite literature genre?
Pulp fiction.

My family told me to stop telling Thanksgiving jokes right now,
but I said I couldn’t quit cold turkey.

My cousin is terrified by all of the St. Nicholas displays at the shopping mall.
You might say she’s Claustrophobic

I told you not to encourage her.

*   *   *

Whatever your favorite seasonal celebrations may be, moiself  wishes 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.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

[1] You have an Aunt Erva, somewhere.  We all do.

[2] Damn right I’m proud of that one.

[3] Well, yeah, as compared to the usual shit I write.

[4] And a grade school friend of mine, whose family was Jehovah’s Witnesses, considered being told, “Merry Christmas” to be an attack on *her* beliefs.

[5]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.

[6] Stephen Nissenbaum, “The Battle for Christmas: A Cultural History of America’s Most Cherished Holiday.”

[7]Paganism in Christianity.”

[8]  “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

[9] 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.)

[10] 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.

[11] The Winter Solstice and the Origins of Christmas, Lee Carter.

[12] 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.

[13] And nothing in the various conflicting biblical references to the birth of JC has the nativity occurring in wintertime.

The Color Coordinated Outfit I’m Not Wearing

Comments Off on The Color Coordinated Outfit I’m Not Wearing

 

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

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

 

 

 

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

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

He says he does.

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

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

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

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Generalizations

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Women don’t do that,” I grumbled.

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

 

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

 

*   *   *

*   *   *

Department Of Apropos Of…Something

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

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

“I’m sorry you feel that way.”

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

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

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

Then I elaborated, along these lines:   [5]

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

 

 

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

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

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

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Things We Keep To Ourselves   [6]

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

“Roll over.”

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

“Why – was I making noise?”

 

 

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

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

What I actually say:
“Yes.”

 

 

*   *   *

Punz For The Day
Losing My Religion Edition

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

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

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

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

 

 

*   *   *

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

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

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

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

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

[4] Sorry?  I was fucking elated.

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

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

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

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

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

The Intentions I’m Not Setting

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Department Of First Things First:

Happy International Blasphemy Day, y’all.

 

 

*   *   *

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

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

 

 

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of International Celebrations Of Yoga

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

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Particularizing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

Exactly.

 

 

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

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

 

 

*   *   *

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

But first, a flashback.

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

 

 

*   *   *

Punz For The Day
Autumn Edition

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

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

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

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

 

 

*   *   *

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

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

 

 

*   *   *

[1] It was more like 27.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Mirror Universe I’m Not Occupying

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Department Of Aging Well

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

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

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

 

 

 

*   *   *

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

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

 

 

 

*   *   *

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

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

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

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

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

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

Or, perhaps mirror moiself  has a real job.

 

 

*   *   *

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Here is the actual passage:

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

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

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

 

 

At least one Christian blogger noticed and took issue:

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

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

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

*   *   *

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

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

 

 

 

Ballerinas can fart, too!

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

 

*   *   *

Punz For The Day
MGE   [7]

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

*   *   *

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

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

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

[2] Not amish.

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

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

[5] The words of others, not moiself.

[6] And evidently do.

[7] Miscellaneous Groaners Edition.

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

The Liberty Loss I’m Not Accepting

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Department Of It’s Still Complicated

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

GORDON-REED:

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

*   *   *

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

 

 

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

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

What kind of nation had I returned to?

 

 

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

 

 

I’ll make it simple for y’all.

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

 

 

 

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

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

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

Ejaculations cause pregnancies.

 

Who, me?

 

Why is it never framed this way:

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

 

*   *   *

 

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

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

[1] Was not allowed to leave.

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

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

[4] Like there are any reading this blog.

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

[6] And wrapped in five plutonium condoms.

[7] And what are the chances of that?

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

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

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

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

The Gender I’m Not Erasing

Comments Off on The Gender I’m Not Erasing

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

Moiself  be so effin’ tired of this:

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

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

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

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

*   *   *

 

 

*   *   *

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Parenting Confessions

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

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

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

Along those lines….

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

“Go to sleep, little —-”

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

“Go to sleep, little creep,

go to sleep or I’ll drop you…”   [3]

 

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

 

*   *   *

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

*   *   *

Punz For The Day
Backroads Edition

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

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

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Multicolored Overpass I’m Not Traversing

3 Comments

Something moiself  has been thinking this week:  it’s been over 29 years since we (MH and I) have been a less-than-two-felines household.

We’re down to one, the all-white Nova, as we said goodbye to Crow this week.

It had been a challenging past 18+ months for Crow, with a possible “vascular incident” (stroke?), the progression of her painful arthritis, and finally, diabetes.   After veterinary appointments, blood tests, and consultations, we made an appointment with a veterinary euthanasia service who came to our home to do the deed.

As difficult a decision as it was, we were also much relieved, once having made it.  Crow spent her last days at home, lazing on the carpet in the sun, eating and drinking whenever she pleased.  [1]  We were at her beck and call; I told her she was at a kitty spa.

At the time we adopted Crow (fifteen years ago), all-black cats were the most likely to not find a placement.    [2]    Instead of adopting a rescue greyhound, which was the original plan to add another pet to our family, we went to Bonnie Hayes Animal Shelter,   [3]  opened our house and our hearts, and Crow made herself at home.  Crow had a good life, and she was spared a lingering death.

After the phone call with our veterinarian wherein we discussed treatment and care options, MH and I had a calm, rational discussion.  We considered all the angles – plus the fact, particularly important to moiself, that Crow (like any pet) cannot consent to nor “understand” any course of treatment.  After the phone call, we decided upon euthanasia.  When we agreed that this is what we agreeing to, I asked MH if perhaps we might take Crow on one last trip to the beach, because she seemed to enjoy lying on the deck in the sun.  And we both lost it.

 

A much younger Crow and Nova, circa 2008, playing with Nova’s favorite toy (a Lego helmet).

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of The Downside Of Loving Them

Dang, these critters tug at our hearts.  And because we care for them properly, they just don‘t die like they used to:  they get good medical treatment;    [4]  they live inside and thus don’t get killed by coyotes or run over by a car or contract illness and/or injuries and/or infection from other animals….  And if they refuse to die in their sleep in their old age, the combination of aging and chronic illness takes their toll, then *we* have to make the life-and-death decisions.

MH’s astute observation:  for all but one of the cats we’ve had who’ve died, there came that awful time when we had to opt for euthanasia for them.  Odds are that, with our remaining cat, the same will (eventually) be the case.  Each time, we knew we were doing the right thing. Each time, it was still heartbreaking.

 

 

Observant readers may notice that moiself   is *not* is reporting that “Crow has crossed the Rainbow Bridge.”  Nor am I using similar euphemisms to describe the fact of her death.  Although some pet owners seem to find such metaphors comforting, they make me…well…emotionally retch.  Moiself  is not a believer in – as in, I’ve seen no evidence for – any kind of “heaven,” for any kind of creatures.  And since I hold no such ideas for humans I see no need to burden our recollections of our animal companions with similar mythologies.

I don’t mean to come off stony-hearted.  Grief is complicated; expressing it, even more so.  I promise not to slap you if you use the RB term around moiself, and I hear or read about “the RB” often enough to know that it makes some pet owners feel good. The only afterlife I give credence to is the only one we can know for sure exists:  that which resides in our hearts and minds.  In that way and in those places, our loved ones truly do continue to live “after” they are gone.

BTW: The Rainbow Bridge, for those of you who fortunate enough not to have encountered the treacle-ism, is a mythical overpass (apparently based on imagery from some cheesy sentimental poems from the 1980s) which serves as a kind of transit for pets.  For example, upon the death of their friend’s chihuahua, RB fans will say that Sparky has “passed over the Rainbow bridge,” into a verdant meadow (or other Nature Setting ®  ) where Sparky will frolic carefree until the time Sparky will be reunited with his “human parents.”

 

While I don’t believe in Rainbow Bridges, I do believe that pictures of baby sloths in pajamas are comforting to everyone.

 

*   *   *

Department Of There’s Always Something

After we made the decision to euthanize Crow, moiself  thought, once again, about the many rational discussions which can be had as to whether people do or should treat or view their pets as their “children” – a perspective which, I believe, diminishes and misunderstands the reality of and relationships with both animals and children.

Also (as mentioned in a previous footnote), many people, including animal lovers/pet owners and those who are pet-free, hold strong opinions as to the ethics of using advances in veterinary medicine to treat conditions considered fatal just a few years ago – treatments which cost pet owners thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars…and the outcome is, eventually and ultimately, the same.

Pets, like their human owners, are mortal. They’re gonna die. Are you keeping your pet alive – in some cases, using tortuous treatments that humans with the same diagnoses can (and often do) eventually opt out of – because it’s in the animal’s best interest? Or are you prolonging its life (read: extending its dying) or because (you tell yourself) you love it and want to keep it around for as long as possible/can’t deal with its absence…or want to assuage the guilt laid upon you, whether purposely or inadvertently, by yourself or by well-meaning friends and family (or even your veterinarian)?

 

 

“Leigh K—…found herself facing a five-figure bill when her dog, Rutherford, was diagnosed with a brain tumor…. Leigh knew Rutherford needed help when the large-breed coonhound mix struggled to walk a straight line and keep his head up. But you can’t treat without a diagnosis, which meant brain scans, which meant $2,500 down before the technicians would warm up the machine.

Then the real bills started. Radiation therapy was projected to cost between $12,000 and $15,000, which, for perspective’s sake, is a quarter of the average American household’s annual earnings. It’s a sum weighty enough to give even relatively affluent Americans a lightbulb moment on how drastically their lives might be rerouted.”

( excerpts from “My dying dog’s vet bill put me in debt. It could happen to you.”  Vox, 7-25-19 )

 

If my father had lived to see the age of  $3k MRIs for pets,  [5]  he would have scoffed at the very notion.  It’s not that he didn’t like animals, or was one of Those Pet Haters ® .  Growing up in the Parnell family, moiself  cannot remember a time when we didn’t have pets.  My siblings and I were allowed to acquire a variety of critters, from dogs and cats to hamsters and reptiles.  While my parents appreciated their children’s emotional bond with their pets, my father never seemed to have much of an attachment to them.  When I look back via an adult’s perspective, I consider this pet-bonding detachment of his to be due, in part, to his impoverished childhood.

 

 

 

Chet Parnell grew up poor, on a farm, in a place and time when animals were utilitarian.  His family’s infinitely patient and tolerant farm horse, who would let Chet and his siblings climb all over him, was a plough horse.  A succession of family dogs had “jobs” to do – they kept the crows out of the corn and chased the neighboring farms’ dogs and roaming strays away from the chickens, and the barn cats earned a roof over their heads by keeping the mice and rats at bay.  With the exception of the horse, the other “pets” had to hunt for and feed themselves (although my dad’s mother occasionally snuck table scraps to the barn cats, much to her husband’s dismay).

My father’s heart rose to the occasion when our family cat, Mia, died.  Mia, a stray kitten adopted by my family when I was in grade school, had been “my” cat,   [6]  but stayed with my family when I went off to school.  After graduating college and joining the working world, my parents and I agreed that, considering both my inability to pay my apartment rent if I also had to buy pet food and litter, and Mia being an old lady kitty and attached to her home, it was best if Mia stayed with them.  I saw Mia two to three times a year, when visiting my parents, and noted Mia’s increasing frailty with the passage of time.  Pay attention, I pleaded with them.  If there is something wrong with her, take her to a vet, don’t just let it slide.   [7]  I was determined to be dispassionate about it – if Mia was dying, I did not want her to suffer.

One day when I was in my mid-twenties I received an early afternoon phone call from my mother.  She called the private line in the medical practice where I worked, which was a red flag.   [8]  She apologized for calling me at work, said she thought I’d like to know about Mia, and told me the following story.

In the past few weeks Mia, age 20, had grown weaker, lost weight, and developed a tumor on her head.  My parents found a veterinarian who would do house calls; after speaking with my parents over the phone, the vet came to their house with the assumption that he would likely euthanize the cat.  After briefly examining Mia he told them that that would be the most humane option.  My younger sister, by then in college, happened to be at my parents’ house for a visit, and she and my mother became so distraught re Mia’s situation that Chet banished them from the scene.  He shooed his wife and daughter into the house, while he stayed on the back porch with the veterinarian.

After Mia had been euthanized and the vet had left, Chet got a legal pad and a pencil, and a shoebox for the body (Mia would be buried in my parents’ backyard, by the rose bushes she where she would nap in the summer shade).  He wrapped Mia’s body in a towel, placed her in the box, then composed a poem, on the spot, about Mia.

Mom read the poem to me.  I found it overwhelmingly touching then, and still do, after all these years – to think about what my father wrote to comfort his grieving wife and daughter, and also the mere fact that he did so.  The poem’s theme was how gentle and sweet Mia was; how she’d had a good life….   I can remember only parts of it,     [9]   but its closing stanza is etched on my heart:

Mia was loved by the Parnells all;
As there is a time to rise, there is a time to fall.
To be loved by a family is why she was made,
And now our dear Mia will rest in the shade.

As I hung up the phone, my employer noticed the distraught look on my face.  Dr. B asked me what was up.  With all the detachment and professionalism I could muster – which turned out to be none at all – I blubbered, “My family kitty died!” and, tried to tell him how my father had written a poem…

I was a hot mess.  Dr. B placed his hand on my shoulder.  Compassionately, yet firmly, he said to me, GO HOME.

And now for dear Crow, I say, with gratitude for years of love and “tummy time,”  Go home.

 

Crow was a gentle spirit and a good sport.  Here is one of moiself’s favorite pictures of her, one I called, for obvious reasons, *rumpcat.

 

 

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Department Of The Supporting Cast And Crew

I cannot say enough good things about the doctors and staff of our family’s long-time veterinary clinic, the (surprise!) feline-exclusive  All About Cats Clinic.  Also deserving of high praise is Compassionate Care, the in-home euthanasia service we used, as per ABCC’s recommendation.  CC’s vet was kind, empathetic, sweet, and competent – she gave MH and I (and Crow, I imagine), a sense of tranquility in an emotionally taxing situation.

“She had a good life,” was son K’s post on our family chat site, when MH informed our offspring about row’s death.  My reply:

“Yes, she did…and though it may sound strange, I dare to say that her death was good, as well.
She was comfy on the carpet, enjoying lots of pets from us, and she just ‘went to sleep,’ as they say. It was one of the more peaceful things I have ever seen.”

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Punz For The Day
Dead Catz Edition

Hmmmmm.  On second thought….

 

When face palm cat just won’t cover it.

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May you experience the distinctive love of, and for, a pet companion;
May the inevitable loss of that love help you to appreciate it all the more;
May you be strong enough to lather, rinse, and repeat;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

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[1] But not, oddly, wanting “tummy time” with MH, which, until the diabetes, was her favorite activity.  She seemingly became uncomfortable sitting in laps or being held during her last two weeks – one more piece of the puzzle which help us make the decision.

[2] Fortunately, thanks to deliberate and innovative strategizing on the part of regional animal shelters, almost *all* healthy cats and dogs at shelters who do not have  “behavioral issues” (read: biters) now find homes.

[3] Where I would later volunteer, in cat care.

[4] Too much, some critics say, in that using “human” treatments for cancers and other mortal illnesses – treatments previously unavailable to animals and to which they cannot consent – are essentially torturing pets in order to assuage our guilt….and speaking of the latter, many people on fixed incomes cannot afford the substantial vet bills but feel pressured, if the procedure/treatment is available, to do so, lest they be considered a heartless person who doesn’t really love their pet.

[5] Which was one of the quotes we got for what a brain scan would cost, when we were trying to figure out the “neurological incident” our cat Crow seemed to have suffered. 

[6] And was so named to indicate that – mia is Spanish for mine.

[7] This post needs more upbeat footnotes.  Nah.

[8] My mother was not one to instigate phone calls – that was my father’s purview – and she never called me at work, before or after Mia’s death.

[9] I have a copy of it, somewhere in my file cabinet….

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