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The Boat I’m Not Floating

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Halloween; The Nun;  Predator;  Hereditary; The First Purge….. There have been a lot of horror movies released in 2018, and also two Stephen King books.  But arguably one of the scariest stories of the year comes from the real life experiences of Linda Kay Klein’s book, Pure: Inside the Evangelical Movement That Shamed a Generation of Young Women and How I Broke Free.  

This is FRESH AIR. I’m Terry Gross. We’re going to talk about the evangelical sexual purity movement, its insistence on sexual abstinence before marriage and the impact the movement has had on women who were brought up in it, women like my guest, Linda Kay Klein. She says the movement has traumatized many girls and maturing women who are haunted by sexual and gender-based anxiety, fear and shame. Her new book, “Pure,” is part memoir, including the story of how she left the movement. The book also draws on the interviews she did with other women in their 20s, 30s and 40s,…about how the evangelical purity movement has affected their sense of identity and their sex lives.

The purity movement grew in the 1980s during the Reagan administration, which funded abstinence-only programs for community organizations, schools and health departments. A whole industry of purity-related products developed around the movement, including purity rings, T-shirts, mugs, even a purity Bible. Klein describes the purity movement as conveying the expectation that all unmarried girls and women must maintain a sexless body, mind and heart to be pure. Klein is also the founder of Break Free Together, which tries to help people escape the sexual shame they were raised with.

 

 

fear

 

 

 

Listen, if you dare, to the rest Fresh Air interview about Klein being raised in and breaking free from the Evangelical “Purity Movement“, but keep the lights – this is scary shit.

Like many if not most horror stories, there is somewhat of a happy ending.  However, like many horror stories, the monster is not ultimately killed – it just, IMHO, assumes a different, more benign-seeming form.

Translation: the author still calls herself a Christian.  At least now she (thinks) she is practicing her faith on her own terms. Still, her answer to the host’s question about her relationship with her parents – it just about broke my heart, listening to that.  [1]

GROSS: It was your mother who brought you into evangelical Christianity. When you left the evangelical church, was your mother upset? And if she was, did you feel guilty about making her upset by following your new thinking and leaving the church?

KLEIN: My mom was heartbroken when I left and moreover, I think, scared. You know, for my mom, the fact that I was a Christian was her very favorite thing about me. She literally told me that, as did my father. On separate occasions, they both told me their favorite thing about me was my Christianity when I was younger. And so, you know, when I left, I lost my parents’ favorite thing about me.

If you haven’t heard of the Christian Purity Movement and you have a strong stomach and are curious, put on your sterile gloves – nitrile, for those of you with a latex allergy – and Google away.

It is unlikely I will be reading Klein’s book, for same reason I do not watch the Hulu series, The Handmaid’s Tale.  Although I “enjoyed”   [2]   the Margaret Atwood book upon which the series is based, I rarely find depictions of misogynistic, joy-sucking dystopias to be sufficient diversionary or amusing forms of entertainment.

 

 

puritygif

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Crimes I Don’t Understand

On March 18, 1990, 13 works of art valued at a combined total of $500 million were stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston…. Despite efforts by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and multiple probes around the world, no arrests have been made and no works have been recovered.
(Wikipedia entry on the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum theft)

I just don’t “get’ art heist – the theft of famous works of art. What good is it, to the thief, to steal a painting valued at $25 million? It’s not like you can take it to the local pawn shop, fence it at the flea market, or put a notice on Craig’s List:

 

thescream

Moving sale, Scandinavian picture, good condition, only two previous owners, $20 million OBO

 

 

The point of most thievery, as moiself understands it, is to sell (or barter) what you steal. You can’t turn around and sell a famous painting – anyone who would be interested in it or who would or who would be able to afford to buy it would know it’s stolen.

The second, less common motivation for theft is a desire to acquire that which you want but do not have and are unable and/or unwilling to acquire honestly and/or legally (for example, when a grade school friend of mine swiped my mini spy camera). [3]   Simply put, you take something because you want it for yourself.

So, you’re a passionate art lover, and you somehow are able to filch the Mona Lisa. The work of genius is yours, at last! And now you have…a masterpiece millstone, around your neck. What can you do with it? Hang it on your wall and admire it…all by yourself…forever? You can’t ever have guests or family over because, once again, anyone who sees it will  eventually figure out that it’s stolen.   [4]

Perhaps the real crime I’m thinking of is one of mislabeling: art theft really isn’t theft, it’s essentially kidnapping. The permanent acquisition of the object is not the point; the ransom is what the Renior robber is after. The thief negotiates via intermediary to return the art to the museum for a payment, with both parties grudgingly agreeing to a charade of sorts (“Look what fell off the back of my cousin’s girlfriend’s ex-boyfriend’s truck!”). If investigations by The Proper Authorities ® are going nowhere the museum agrees to this; the board of directors and curators just want their “priceless” object returned and are willing to pay a pittance of its estimated value to do so (which will still likely be a pretty penny for the thief).

 

 

steal

I wonder, did Hoffman receive any royalties (or ransom?) for this?

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Just Wondering

Dateline: Wednesday morning, 8 am. I am walking around the grounds of the Kaiser Permanente Medical center in Hillsboro, where I have taken a friend for an appointment. It is a brisk-cool-melting into sunny, gorgeous autumn day, and so naturally I start wondering about the medical center’s name.

Kaiser Permanente.  I know – or assume – where the Kaiser part of the moniker comes from: a doctor and/or founder/benefactor of the HMO.   [5]   But, whence Permanente, and what does it mean?   Were the Kaiser founders unsure, all those years ago when the idea of managed care was rather unique, that their institution would survive, and thus they named it optimistically: “It’s not Kaiser Temporaria or Kaiser What-the-hell-it-just-might-work-out, it’s Kaiser Permanente!

 

 

confusedspock

I find that explanation highly unlikely…but whatever floats your boat.

 

 

 

I decided to ask the staff people I was encountering on the footpaths around the center’s grounds –friendly, smiling employees on their way to and from the various clinic buildings, who sported Kaiser name badges.  I gave up after three tries; I’d begun to feel  rather guilty to be the cause of the seemingly perpetually beaming faces slumping into confused, Why are you asking/is this a trick question? expressions.

Never mind. I suppose I could Google it….  But…sometimes…I just like to wonder. After all, knowing the answer to everything would, as the Monty Python sketch put it, “take all the mystery out of life.”

 

 

NehalemAug2012

It’s my boat, and it’s floating. Now what?

 

*   *   *

May you never stop walking and wondering;
May your boat always float;
May you bitch-slap-until-they-soil-themselves those cretins who try to teach children
that “purity” has anything to do with sexuality;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

 

 

 

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] What a monstrous worldview, that causes a mother to fear that, as Klein later states in the interview, her child “…would no longer be with her in heaven, that she would have to spend eternity without me and that she would look down and see me in eternal damnation and know that there was nothing she could do to save me.”  Yikes.

[2] Wrong word…but don’t know how to describe my reaction. It was excellent, well done, but depressing/ chilling.

[3] Which I had purchased – “redeemed” was the term, I believe – from the makers of Bazooka bubble gum, for fifty cents and a whole bunch of Bazooka gum wrappers. My friend had admired the teeny camera and tried to pressure me into trading for it, but I refused. One day she came home with me after school to play at my house, and after she left I noticed my camera was missing. The next day I went to her house to play, and when she was called to the kitchen by her mother for some reason, I snooped in her room and found my camera in a box on her dresser. She had peeled off some of the decorative paper on the camera’s body, no doubt in an effort to “disguise” it.  I quickly pocketed the camera and made up some excuse why I had to go home. I never confronted her about it; she had a sad family situation, and I felt sorry for her.

[4] The “Oh, it’s just a print” cover story will only work so long.

[5] “Kaiser Permanente is an American integrated managed care consortium, based in Oakland, California, United States, founded in 1945 by industrialist Henry J. Kaiser and physician Sidney Garfield.” – from Wikipedia entry.

The Feces I’m Not (Yet) Flinging

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Department Of Revenge Fantasies I Hope I Can Refrain From Enacting

Previously, moiself has written in this space about The Little Drug House On The Prairie ® the drug and alcohol halfway house which moved in next door last autumn.  I wish only good things for the revolving cast  [1]  of recovering addicts in their quest to maintain their sobriety and become the proverbial Productive Members of Society.  [2]    However, it is a continual burr under my saddle to note – read: smell – that most if not all of the occupants of the so-called “drug-free” house are allowed to maintain and practice their addiction to the drug nicotine via the delivery system of smoking cigarettes, which kills more people than alcohol, car accidents, AIDS, illegal drugs, murders, and suicides combined.

 

 

smoking

 

 

The house residents are forbidden from lighting up indoors (fire regulations) or on their front porch or front yard (house rules). Thus, first thing in the morning before they leave the house and then again in the late afternoon when the residents return to the house, [3]  and after that until bedtime/curfew time,  [4]  they leave skidmarks heading out to the house’s back porch/deck to light up their toxic torches cigarettes.

The house’s backyard deck is on the side of the property next to the fence which separates their backyard from ours.  Like most smokers, the house’s residents seemingly don’t know/care that their effluence does not remain hovering around those who produce it, but instead migrates to… Other People. [5]   We don’t use our backyard anymore – gone are the much-cherished, leisurely summer dinners on our back patio with friends and family, because of the fumes wafting into our yard. Their smoke even drifts into our house if, as we are wont to do, we open our back porch door first thing in the morning in a futile attempt to get some “fresh” air.

Yesterday morning ~ 7 am, I went outside to pick our raspberries, which grow along the afore-mentioned fence. My picking bowl was only half full before I was chased inside by the smoke. Earlier in the week around the same time I had the back door open and was doing some morning stretches on the family room floor and suddenly…why does my house have that dreadful, rancid tobacco smell when THERE ARE NO SMOKERS LIVING IN MY HOME?!?!?!! 

I told MH that I am very tempted to take up a collection of urine-soaked clay pellets from the various litter boxes [6] in our house, add a batch of particularly odiferous cat poop,   [7]  and let the collection “ferment” overnight. The next evening, when our neighbors begin their smoke-a-thon, I’ll fling the collection over the fence onto their back porch, with a note explaining that since they have been so generous with sharing their own particular, resident-specific aromas, I’d like to return the favor.

 

 

revenge

Then perhaps you know of another Klingon proverb about how bags of rancid cat shit are best served with an overhand fling….

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Sorry About That

Sometimes, when moiself is frustrated, the Really Mean Thoughts ® take over. Compassion is a daily struggle. I have found that taking an Annette Funicello/Beach Party movie break helps.

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Over-Thinking

“Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.”
 (Sigmund Freud )

What does it mean, when a college roommate’s ex-boyfriend – someone you haven’t seen or thought of in years – makes a cameo appearance in one of your dreams?  Was my subconscious using him as a symbol of some other person, or object or allegory, or was the image created by a random firing of neurons?

Just wondering.

 

 

dreams

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Mere Words Cannot Describe How Little
This Local Newspaper Headline This Means To Me

 

World’s Largest Bounce House Rocks Hillsboro This Weekend    [8]
(Hillsboro Tribune, 8-29-18)

 

*   *   *

Department Of Things That Should Be A Thing, But Aren’t Yet

“You should put that on your iceberg.”

I refer to the above line – a survival piece of advice given by the “amputee stoner” character Jane, to the title character of The Miseducation of Cameron Post – which is one of the best movies of 2018, if I do say so moiself (and I just did).

 

 

CP

 

 

 

*   *   *

 

May you enjoy your revenge fantasies without enacting them;
May you have the opportunity to take an Annette Funicello/Beach Party movie break;
May mere words be unable to describe that which will rock your city this weekend;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] The residents stay for a limited period of time; new are added when others “graduate” from the program.

[2] Even as we in the ‘hood curse the owners of the rehab, whose tactics of deceit and intimidation in establishing their business here were…regrettable, to say the least.

[3] The residents are mostly gone during the weekday, as they are required to go to either jobs/and or schools and/or  various training and educational and rehab functions.

[4] Which seems to vary, but I’d guess is around 10 pm.

[5]  And I have not asked them to move their smoking activity to another side of the property, because unless their house rules outlaw smoking entirely, they can only smoke in their backyard, and I would not feel “right” about having moved the problem to the rehab house’s two other neighbors – the elderly widow who babysits her grandchildren who play in her backyard, and the retired couple who seemingly spend all day with their grandchildren and other relatives in their backyard.

[6] Which rarely smell, even though we have four litter boxes, as we keep them clean and scoop each box at least twice daily.

[7] K’s cat, which is  confined to the room he occupies, has some “intestinal issues” which cause her to occasionally produce feces that, aroma-wise, could knock a buzzard off a shit wagon.

[8] Y’all understand now why I often head for the coast for the weekend? There’s just too much excitement for me to stay in town.

The Cemetery I’m Not Visiting

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Department of AAAAARRRRRRRRGGGGGGHHHHHH

Radiolab is one of moiself’s favorite podcasts, as readers of this blog may have surmised from my mentioning it several times in this space. Recently the show has featured episodes of a themed series on sex and reproduction, titled, Radiolab Presents Gonads . During a recent morning walk I was listening to the July 26 episode of the Gonads series, Sex Ed. About half way through the episode the announcer made (what moiself considered to be) a startlingly inaccurate announcement:

“So far we’ve talked about condom demos without any condoms, periods, we even went on to talk about the deeply important topic of what happens to all the bananas after condom/banana demos….”

You know how NPR is proud of producing (inducing?) what they call “driveway moments?”  Hearing that announcement was, for moiself, yet another stopping-on-the-street-silently-screaming-to-nobody-who-can-hear moment.

Attention, well-meaning hosts of the Gonad series: No, you have not talked about “periods,” as in, menstrual cycles. Instead, you have presented one story about endometriosis[1]

 

 

 

PSA

 

 

 

Over 90% of women do not have endometriosis.  But you Gonadians used the story about one woman’s struggle with a rare, painful medical condition as somehow representative or emblematic of “periods.” A consequence of this is, that some of the people who don’t know much about or have no personal experience of menstrual periods – and as you Gonads hosts mentioned, “half the people on the planet do not get them”– are going to conflate this phenomenon of repeatedly experiencing toe-curling pain as being common to all women. And there is enough weirdness when it comes to public knowledge of and discussion about menstrual cycles without focusing on an aberration.

 

 

iknowwhatyoumwan

 

 

 

Go out people-watching one day, to some public place where you can watch the crowds (and not look like a stalker).  Watch the people passing by, and try to figure out which of the women, on their way to and from work or the market or the park or the theatre, are having their menstrual periods. You can’t, because for most women it’s just another day of the week, except perhaps they needed to remember to pack a tampon in their purse….and where’s the sturm und drang   [2]  in that?

Radiolab Presents: Gonads is a multi-episode journey deep into the parts of us that let us make more of us. Longtime staff producer….explores the primordial roots of our drive to reproduce, introduces a revolutionary fertility procedure that sounds like science fiction, reveals a profound secret about gender that lives inside all of us, and calls on writers, educators, musicians, artists and comedians to debate how we’re supposed to talk to kids about sex.

Check out Misconceptions, part of a special exploration of fertility and reproduction from Romper & Radiolab.
(intro to the series, from the Radiolab site)

I’m well aware of the reasons why aberrations make for a “better” story. Like how the proverbial squeaky wheel gets the grease, the story of pain and inconvenience gets the attention. But please, earnest Gonadians, if you want to make a meaningful contribution to, as you say in your show’s description, how we’re supposed to talk to kids about reproduction and sex, why not focus on the more common reality? You could still produce an entirely entertaining segment about periods – say, by focusing on the myths and stereotypes and folklore and personal stories  [3] –  filled with interviews with people like…well, like the millions of women resembling me and my friends   [4] who experienced menstrual periods as just another bodily waste product to, ahem, periodically….

 

 

elvis

 

 

…. have to deal with, just another reality which was sometimes inconvenient but which, like with other normal bodily function, we did not customarily go around complaining or even talking about it (Goddamn it, I have to pee again and I just peed yesterday!) unless there was a major inconvenience – or entertaining story – related to it (I foolishly drank 6 cups of coffee before getting on the train only to discover there were no working toilets aboard and no stops for three hours and I was so desperate I tried to find a discrete corner where I could take a camel’s bladder-sized whizz into my briefcase….”).

 

 

CAMEL

 

 

 

And hey, Gonadians, about that last sentence in your intro: I realize the pun refers to another show, but speaking of misconceptions, there are so many about “periods,” and y’all have not serve to clear any up.

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, I worked in the reproductive health care field, in both “public” and “private” settings.  [5]  I saw firsthand how the depiction of severe menstrual pain as a normality can keep women from seeking medical help when they have an untreated STD or an ovarian cyst or uterine fibroids or other abnormalities which can cause extreme discomfort. Just as importantly, the normalization of extreme period pain fits right into the script of fundamentalist religions and the patriarchy – that girls and women are somehow damaged and crippled).

 

 

 

sarcasm

 

 

 

So. Nice try, Gonadians, for tackling “periods,” a – what did you call it, a once “taboo subject” –  and focusing on the less than 10% thing that would put the boo in taboo, rather than the 90% which would make it seem like what it is – another natural, essential, biological process.

Yep, I’m annoyed by PMS – Period Misrepresentation Schmucks.

 

 

 

wellofcourse

 

*   *  *

Department Of Little Known Gems Used As A Post-Rant Segue

What do references to an obscure Michael Caine-Christopher Reeve-Dyan Cannon movie, velcro, Harry Potter & Dracoy Malfoy, and NASCAR  have in common?  Why, that would be the song, Two Guys Kissin’ Ruined My Life:

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Whistling Through The Graveyard

My two other siblings and I recently received an email from our older sister, which contained pictures of our parents’ respective grave markers.  The occasion was the arrival and installation of our mother’s marker. 

I am not a Gravesite Visiting Type Of Person ® .   [6] It’s not that I deliberately avoid going to the cemetery where my parents’ caskets  [7]  are buried in adjoining plot: I don’t have to be deliberate about it, since the cemetery is in So Cal and I live in Oregon.  Cemetaries; gravesites – it’s just not how I remember people. Should I be in So Cal visiting relatives and, for whatever reason,   [8] a trip to the cemetery is on the agenda, sure, I’ll tag along.  But there will be no purposeful pilgrimage on my part to see the graves.

Nevertheless, I appreciate the pictures my sister sent, and the stories behind them.

 

CBP marker

 

The inscription on my father’s (below the “Beloved husband….”) is an oft-repeated tagline of Chet’s – his mantra, if you will:  “These are the good times.”

When our mother’s gravestone arrived, my sister was surprised to discover that the headstone company had given us a stone slightly larger than the size she’d ordered for our father (and for no extra charge!), even though she thought she’d ordered the same size for our mother.

 

 

their headstones

 

 

 

 

I like the idea of Marion’s headstone being just a wee bit bigger than Chet’s, seeing as how in life, my introverted mother was often (if unintentionally) overshadowed by the “bigger” personality of my outgoing father.

 

 

 

MAPheadstone

 

 

 

There was joking relief expressed by one of the Parnell siblings, that the arrow for Mom’s inscription is pointing the right direction – toward her husband’s marker, indicating with whom she enjoyed the “good times.”  Although I got a kick out of imagining what if it wasn’t – what if the arrow pointed toward the right, to the next gravesite over, to another man’s gravestone.  ‘Twould give passers-by  [9] something interesting to speculate about.

 

*   *   *

 

May you always have something interesting to speculate about;
May you remember to focus on the 90% ;
May you watch that Michael Caine-Christopher Reeve-Dyan Cannon movie;   [10]
…and may the hijinks ensue.

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] Involving endometrial tissue which, for reasons not understood to medical science, growing outside of a woman’s uterus.

[2] I need to start using more German phrases in this blog. Suggestions are appreciated.

[3] Almost every woman I know has a hilarious story or six about how their own mothers/grandmothers/aunts had to navigate a world in which “such things” were not discussed.

[4] Ok, back when we were young enough to still be having periods.

[5] Respectively, Planned Parenthood clinics and a private OB/GYN medical practice.

[6] Yes, that is one of the lesser known “types” included in the earlier versions of the Briggs Meyers personality inventory, along with Intuitive, Judging, Thinking, Perceiving, Feeling, Gravesite-Visiting, Dentist-Avoiding….

[7] I am also not a casket-approving person. If it were up to me, all burials would be replaced by cremations.

[8] “Your entertainment choices are a trip to the cemetery to visit Mom’s and Dad’s gravesites, or attend your nieces’ and nephews” school talent show where each grade competes by singing their version of “Tomorrow” from the musical Annie.”

[9] Including that anonymous (to us) man’s family members.

[10]Deathtrap.”

The Deal I’m Not Smelling

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Department Of Why I’m Typing With (Mostly) One Hand

In answer to the question (which no one is asking), Are those mandoline blades as sharp as they say?  [1]

 

 

fingers

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Any Questions, Class?

I’ve been seeing this quote requoted quite a lot, which leads me to believe that there is a need for clarification in the matter it addresses.  Apparently, there are people who are confused as to the responsibility of journalists to give “equal” ___   (time/weight/consideration) to “both sides” of an argument/issue/statement.  For example, if 98 out of 100 climate scientists say they have evidence showing that human activities are causing global warming, and the other two say it is uncertain whether or not human activity is causing global warming, interviewing one scientist “from each side of the debate” is not proportional or “fair and balanced” reporting on the issue.

This quote, a pithy yet profound guideline from a journalism teacher, says it best:

 

journalism101

 

*   *   *

Department Of Life Imitating Art

I await the juicy revelations that are sure to come from the case of the recently arrested Russian spy, Marina Butina – who seems to be a real live red sparrow, nesting right here in the US of A. Butina is allegedly a “… covert agent (who) pursued a brazen effort to infiltrate conservative circles and influence powerful Republicans while she secretly was in contact with Russian intelligence operatives.”  Among other charges, Butina is accused of having traded – surprise! – sex for favors, which included having access to an

“…’extensive network’ of influential Americans through ‘US Person 1,’ widely believed to be GOP strategist Paul Erickson….
The DOJ added that on at least one occasion, “Butina offered an individual other than US Person 1 sex in exchange for a position within a special interest organization.”
(Business Insider, 7-18-18)

Pictures have surfaced of Butina attending that most odious of conservative religious/political US Constitution mindfucks, the National Prayer Breakfast.  It will be interesting – if not totally predictable – when her other sex-for-favor contacts turn out to be, like Erickson, the prayer breakfast moralizer types; i.e., Republicans who are also active in ultraconservative religious causes.

 

 

 

 

I once read a seemingly sincere question in an advice column about the phenomenon:  Why is it that, for example, the politician who spouts virulent anti-gay rhetoric will be the one later caught with a rent boy?  The columnist gave an articulate psychological explanation about sublimation, cognitive dissonance and denial….an explanation which I forgot a week or so after reading it.

But it seems obvious to me that many of humanity’s most complex and seemingly contradictory behavioral and rhetorical conundrums can be explained in terms a nine year old can appreciate – namely, fart analogies:

“He who smelt it, dealt it.”

 

 

spocklogic

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Stop Denigrating (Intentionally Or Otherwise) Things
About Which You Are Obviously Ignorant

Sub Department Of Things That Make Me Pull Over To The Side Of The Road While Listening To A Podcast And Take Angry/Frustrated Notes

I referred to the July 23  Fresh Air podcast, which featured an interview with writer Michael Arceneaux promoting his new book, a collection of essays titled, I Can’t Date Jesus: Love, Sex, Family, Race, and Other Reasons I’ve Put My Faith in Beyoncé.  [2]

Arceneaux is, of course, his own expert when it comes to his experiences growing up “black, gay, and Catholic in Texas.” I’ve no beef with that,  [3]  and am likely to read his book.  But when FA host  Terry Gross ask Arceneaux, who claims to have left the church, about what he believes now with regards to religion, his response revealed an annoying lack of knowledge about a designation he rejects:

Gross: So you write that…you struggle with what it is that you do believe in, but you know you’re not an atheist. Why – if you’ve given up basically on your religion, what’s the difference between that and being an atheist?

Arceneaux: …But I wouldn’t call myself an atheist because I do believe in something….
I don’t want to call myself an atheist though. I think my mom would hit me with a Bible. But, yeah, I believe in something. I’m still wrestling with that, Terry Gross.

 

facepalm

 

 

Oh. Dear.

Mr.  Arceneaux, I’d say you’re definitely not an atheist.  Because if you were, you’d likely be smart enough – i.e., a rational enough thinker –  not to say that you don’t call yourself an atheist because you “still believe in something,” which implies that (you think) atheists believe in nothing.

Look, it is okay to reject any other person’s designation of your beliefs, but make sure you understand the definition before you do so. Many of us who are religion-free call ourselves Humanists and/or Skeptics and/or Freethinkers and/or Brights, and a variety of other positive identification terms. Some of us do call ourselves atheists, or will accept being so labeled by religious people, even as we may have objections to the term. 

The biggest objection in the term, for moiself, is that it supplies very little information. By definition, an atheist is simply an a-theist – that is, someone without theism, which is a belief in gods/deities/a “supreme being.”  Thus, the term atheist defines a person in terms of what they are not, and says nothing about what they are.

A seemingly minor point, in some people’s eyes,  [4] although I’d argue that this is a very crucial distinction, one worthy of a far greater exposition than will – and has been  – found in this blog. 

 

 

 

lions and tigersjpg

Skeptics, Freethinkers and Brights, oh my!

 

 

 

 

We who are religion-free hold so many viewpoints and opinions – we don’t “believe in nothing.” I have diametrically opposed political opinions, musical tastes, etc., than other “atheists” I’ve met. Our commonality is that our worldviews are (almost always  [5] ) free from supernatural and mystical elements.  We do not believe that the natural world is the way it is because of an alleged supernatural world.

There are many things other people put great faith in which I don’t believe in – astrology, homeopathy, the trickle-down theory, “one size fits all” as an accurate clothing label – and I don’t want to be labeled by those rejections.   If you are a religious believer, then you are a theist, and you probably don’t want your beliefs framed in reference to mine, or even to be so narrowly labeled (you’d likely want to claim a more specific form of theism, such as Lutheran or Baptist or Orthodox Jew or…). Thus, I’m not going to call you an afreethinker or an –ahumanist.

 

 

hellowerethehendersons

 

 

“In fact, “atheism” is a term that should not even exist. No one ever needs to identify himself as a “non-astrologer” or a “non-alchemist.” We do not have words for people who doubt that Elvis is still alive or that aliens have traversed the galaxy only to molest ranchers and their cattle. Atheism is nothing more than the noises reasonable people make in the presence of unjustified religious beliefs.”

( Sam Harris, Letter to a Christian Nation )

 

*   *   *

 

 

 

May you always remember, when given conflicting actual or metaphorical forecasts, to check for yourself – i.e., look out the !#$%?! window;
May you understand the labels you reject, and embrace;
May you trust that the blades are, indeed, sharp;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

 

 

 

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

*   *   *

 

 

[1] The pain of the cut(s) pale to the pain of realizing moiself’s own stupidity in obtaining them.

[2] Title of the year, or what?

[3] Although, being a plant-eating pescetarian, I’ve no beef with…well…anyone.

[4] And if you’re one of those people, open your eyes a bit wider, please.

[5] Thus, for example, people who reject traditional religions’ theologies but believe that their astrological signs are accurate depictions of reality, or who believe in crystal healing – while these folks may technically be atheists, they are definitely Supernaturalists.

The Movie I’m Not Reviewing

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“The Library” was chosen by a Red Ribbon panel comprising representatives from Coca-Cola, Regal, EFILM Digital Laboratories and others in the entertainment industry based on the creativity, creative fit and entertainment value of the film, the media release stated….
“I couldn’t even believe it,” said (one of the students). “It’s a dream come true. It means so much to us as aspiring filmmakers.”
(” Two Ithaca College students…win Coca-Cola and Regal Films competition“)

 

 

bored-in-movie-theater

Let the excitement begin.

 

 

 

 

As previously noted in this space, I’ve been seeing a lot of movies this summer. As previously complained about noted in this space, a downside to seeing a lot of movies is having to sit through the same advertisements/promotions/previews that run before the main feature. Of particular annoyance to moiself has been the short “films,” produced as part of a contest, by a pair of (alleged) aspiring filmmakers. These spots run around a minute, and are introduced by the students.

Hi I’m Clara!
I’m Eva!
Enjoy our movie!
(Intro to The Library,” winner of The Coca-Cola and Regal Films Program)

 

I’m sorry, Clara and Eva, but I can’t enjoy your movie. Because.

* Because it’s not a movie, it’s a fucking Coca-Cola commercial.

* Because it’s an embarrassing waste of any talents you may have had.

* Because, Holy you-may-not-have-drunk-the-Koolaid-but-you-did-guzzle-the-carbonated soft drink, you haven’t even “made it” yet, and you’ve already sold out.

 

 

your movie

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of I Miss Roger Ebert   [1]

 

I’m just sayin.’

 

 

 

 

hatedthismovie

 

 

 

hate2

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Unsung Heroes

In this belated July 4th post, I would like to briefly celebrate those folks who are, IMHO, some of the truest if most unappreciated Americans: journalists.

 

 

tomi

“I’m thrilled and honored to receive this thrilling honor….”

 

 

 

Uh, no. I’m not referring television talking heads with little to no actual training and/or experience in actual journalism but who get a gig spewing commentary and eventually claim the title of “reporter.”   [2]

 I am referring to professional journalists, who came up through the ranks/paid their dues/continue to hone their craft – those about whom Thomas Jefferson was likely thinking, when he had this to say regarding the value of “the fourth estate” to a democracy:

Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.

I thought about this last month, when I wrote about journalist Ronan Farrow and his Pulitzer Prize-winning reportage on the Harvey Weinstein scandal. And I think about this whenever I begin to read   [3]  certain Facebook posts from a friend of mine, SDH, who posts frequently on political issues.

An expat   [4]American journalist, SDH has always been an insightful observer, and living abroad has, IMHO, honed his observations on American culture and politics.[5]  SDH, along with another reporter friend, PH – the latter less active on FB but just as dedicated to journalistic integrity – have seemingly made it their mission to point out the missteps and misstatements, from the silly to the egregious, of our elected officials.  It may sound corny but it’s true: they are promoting truth and justice, and shining the light of free inquiry on the powerful.

 

 

clark

 

 

 

 

I admire SDH and PH more than I can say, because they do what I cannot bear to (or perhaps have given up on, as I cynically think of the venture – any social media commentary  [6] – as pissing in the wind): they consistently, coolly and firmly respond to paranoia and outright bullshit, and (try to) steer the conversation back to facts. In the face of persistent ad hominem attacks, they respond with rationality, and maintain a discourse with friends, whether longtime or vague high school acquaintances, despite the latter’s often overwhelming juvenile rantings.

I observe these interchanges from afar as it were, with an attitude that sometimes reveals that part of my human nature that impels me to crane my neck as I pass the three-vehicle accident on the highway and hope I get a glimpse of something…interesting.  Many of these Juvenile Rantings People ® are known to me, and their articulation (I use the term oh-so-broadly, here) of their political opinions makes me embarrassed on behalf of them, in that, Jezuz H. Christ on a logical fallacy raft, do they actuall ythink that way? manner.

 

 

batman

 

 

 

 

We’ve all heard the truism – thank you, unfortunately accurate observer and manipulator of human nature, Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebels, that “if you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes the truth.” I hope that the (kinda) opposite is also true: that if you repeat the truth often enough, it will eventually sink in. I do know people who have changed and/or expanded their opinions/beliefs/understandings over the years (including moiself) – people who were motivated to do so, in part, due to respectful, and sometimes challenging, exchange of ideas with others.

Fewer ventures are more stimulating and rewarding than a challenging tête-à-tête between thoughtful, passionate and perceptive people who hold differing points of view.   [7]   However, moiself’s experience makes me lean toward the opinion that it is futile to engage those whose rhetoric indicates…how you say…brains not working right.

 

 

pigsing

 

 

Yet, SDH and PH (and others like them) persist, consistently avoiding the hyperbole-bait and steering the discussion(s) back to discovering and recognizing what are the facts – not “alternative facts” – that can be determined by evidence. And they manage to do this while seemingly remaining undistracted by the inevitable slavering responses of the #45 supporters, which typically  [8]   are the intellectual discourse equivalent of a feces-hurling chimp chattering,

 

 

poopfling

“But, Hillary’s emails !!!!”

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

 

May you remember to “make it” before you sell out;
May you take time to appreciate your own unsung heroes;
May you, at least once in your life, try to teach a pig to sing;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

 

 

 

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] But you can access the archives of his film reviews here.

[2] Oh, and as to the title of your program, Ms. Lahren, Final Thoughts implies that you have actually had some others (thoughts) at some point in your life.

[3] And usually/quickly devolve to merely skimming, as my psyche can’t take the rampant anti-intellectualism of the conservative illogic disguised as dialogue.

[4] Temporarily, I hope.

[5] Read: that toddler-tempered, egocentric, lying, cheating, racist, misogynist sack of corruption that is #45. Aka The Mandarin Mussolini or The Cheetos Hitler, in this space.

[6] Including ultimately, this blog?

[7] Other ventures, like sitting on the drain when the water runs out of the bathtub, run a close second.

[8] There was going to be another footnote here, but I was late for my teaching-pigs-to-sing lesson.

The Pity I’m Not Tempering

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Department Of Things That Make You Jump Out Of Bed In A Cold Sweat (Five Minutes Before Your Alarm Is Scheduled To Go Off), Silently Screaming,
What Have I Done To Deserve This?

I refer to the phenomena of earworms, in this case, specifically and horrifically, when the earworm is something along the lines of…I can’t bear to type the title.

 

 

 

Rumor has it that US Intelligence officials forced suspected terrorists imprisoned at Guantanamo to listen to this song when water boarding proved to be an ineffective interrogation technique.

 

*   *   *

Department Of Justifying Eating Movie Popcorn On A Daily Basis

MH and son K were gone last week, on a Grand Canyon rafting trip. I was alone in the house, save for the cats and too many litter boxes. As for the latter, I had choice words for K upon his return, suggesting that he might want to scoop his particular cat’s box more frequently.  Moiself  did not appreciate spending what seemed like hours dismantling the (admittedly, visually stunning) Stonehenge of Piss that Tootsie,  [1] his cat, had been assembling in the right rear corner of her litter box.

 

 

stonehenge

 

Imagine the above, only constructed of cat pee-soaked litter. If there’d been a way to get rid of the overpowering stench of ammonia I might have considered its revenue-generating potential as a tourist attraction…..

Ah, but I digress.

I did not accompany my boys on the rafting adventure for a variety of reasons, one of the most compelling being saving the $$ I would have spent on that trip for an upcoming travel adventure of my own.  Friend CC and I will, possibly before the end of the year, travel to Sweden to visit our “Swenadian”   [2]  friends and former neighbors SS and her husband CS, who are now living and working in (you guessed it) Sweden.  This trip promises to be equally as scenic and memorable as any river expedition, and (I assume) will not involve us having to tow a barge of our feces behind us on a raft.

 

groover

Y’all know the wilderness travel motto: pack it in, pack it out.   [3]

 

 

Yet another digression. I must be channeling my inner eleven year old, what with the pee and poop references. I know what you’re expecting next, so let’s just get it out of the way:

Q: Why do cherry trees stink?
A: Because George Washington ‘cut one.’

 

 

immature

 

 

But no – wait! My initial intent was to stylishly segue into a story about seeing movies; that is,  my quest to see a movie a day, in a movie theater,  [4]  while MH and K and other raft loads of happy campers were relieving themselves in the mighty Colorado River.

From the big studio summer blockbusters to the smaller, “artier” releases, I am happy to report, Mission Accomplished. I saw:

Book Club
-Avengers: Infinity War
-Solo: A Star Wars…something (you know the name)
-A Quiet Place
-Life of the Party
-Tully
-First Reformed
-Deadpool 2
-The Rider

 

There are still many more movies on my want-to-see wish list to see, but I need a break from doing so. The one drawback to seeing a movie every day is that you are also seeing, every day, the same promos for cable/streaming service TV series and Coca-Cola ads and the other screen nonsense which has become ubiquitous in movie theatres (the poorly-named “entertainment” before the previews of coming attractions).

As a result, I am determined now, more than ever, to not see a TV show that I admittedly would have had little interest in the first place, but after days in a row bombarded by its loud, vapid  [5]   promos, I’ve decided I would rather claw my own eyes out than even be in the same room where a screen is showing anything related to Claws.

 

 

claws

 

 

 

I got the feeling the Claws promos were trying to convince me that the show is about female empowerment, which is not the first (or even twenty-first) idea that comes to mind when I’m watching five women manicurists flashing their hideous finger deformities ludicrously long, garishly painted fingernails and “clothed” ala the woman in the middle – who seems to be the series’ protagonist and who, in the promos, is featured packed into a series of squeeze-me-like-a-sausage-and-ogle-my-T-&-A outfits.

Am I the only one who, when she sees a lady-person thusly attired, wants to take a long, thin, pointed metal something – a cake tester, say – and prick that lady-person in several of her cartoonish/bulbous lady-parts (starting of course with her ginormously swollen boobs) to see if she then flies all over the room, bouncing from ceiling to corners like a rapidly deflating, body-shaped balloon?

Just wondering.

 

*   *   *

different

*   *   *

Department Of Being Thankful To, And For, Ronan Farrow

In a recent Fresh Air interview, host Terri Gross interviewed Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, author, UNICEF activist, (former) government adviser and lawyer and way-too-well-adjusted-for-being-the-son-of-two-famous-people-one-of-whom-is-a-creep, Ronan Farrow.  [6]

Ronan Farrow won this year’s Pulitzer for Public Service   [7]  for his articles in The New Yorker on the sexual assault charges brought against Harvey Weinstein. While investigating the story, Farrow faced harassment and intimidation from Weinstein’s cohorts,   [8] (including threats of physical harm from Weinstein himself), as well as discouragement and warnings from his bosses and colleagues:

Fresh Air host Terry Gross: …And then you were continuing to report for NBC but maybe as a result – I think as a result of the Harvey Weinstein reporting you wanted to do – that they were not anxious to have you pursue – that job ended, but you were kind of out in the cold for a while.

Ronan Farrow: Yes, that’s right. There was a low point last year where I did not know if I would have a job in journalism in a matter of weeks or indeed ever again and was being told by some very powerful people that I would never work again and, you know, also being told by some pretty sensible-sounding people around me you’ve got to just let this go. Just let it go, and your career will be fine. And if you don’t, it’s all over. And yeah, that the reality is…

TG: When you say let the story go, you mean the Harvey Weinstein story.

RF: The Harvey Weinstein reporting. I had been ordered to stop reporting and cancel interviews, and I didn’t

In the FA interview Farrow comes across as exceedingly intelligent, well-informed, passionate and articulate, yet refreshingly modest and self-deprecating for…well, for anyone, but especially for someone who has done so much already in his relatively young life, and who was one of those genius children (went to college at age eleven, then law school at age sixteen, then….).

Someone like Farrow, a young person possessing an open, sharp and inquiring mind and a strong work ethic and an interest in many fields, could have gone into any kind of law, or science or medicine or finance.  He chose investigative journalism, a discipline of uncovering and speaking the truth to both the powerful and the power-less; a job which – always, IMHO, but especially in these crazy, dangerous times – ranks right up there, in terms of its value to humanity, with the scientists and engineers who are working to save us from ourselves (read: find solutions to global warming and the degradation of our habitat).  And Farrow did this at a time when journalists are not only facing shrinking professional opportunities worldwide, but are also increasingly under attack, both verbally and physically (by those afore-mentioned powerful interests).

 

 

 

snowden

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of I Am Somewhat Puzzled By My Second Reaction

When I told MH about the FA interview with Ronan Farrow and how my first reaction was to be impressed by Farrow’s accomplishments and aspirations, I also mentioned my second reaction, and how it caught moiself off guard.  I was not expecting to feel what I felt: a moment of pity for Woody Allen, Farrow’s biological father.

Ronan Farrow and his mother and family are famously estranged – with good reasons, to put it mildly – from Allen.  I am on Team Farrow in this matter. Whenever I have cause to think of Allen I feel my mouth curl upward in a contemptuous sneer,    [9]  yet this time, after learning more about and hearing from Ronan Farrow, my Allen-induced scorn was, at least momentarily, tempered by pity.  How much has Allen has lost, and how much will he continue to lose, by not being able to know this fine young man as a son?

 

 

sad sloth

Even the sloth finds it a sorry situation…and when was the last time you saw a sad sloth?

 

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

 

 

 

May you avoid toilet humor distractions while trying to tell a simple story;
May your earworms be something classical, or at least classy;
May you appreciate investigative journalists and other unsung heroes;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

 

 

 

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

*   *   *

 

 

[1] So named because she is a polydactyl, aka Hemingway cat.

[2] She is Canadian; he is Swedish.

[3] Aka the “latrine raft” or “the groover.”

[4] Netflix offerings in a home theater doesn’t count.

[5] My impression of the series, after sitting through the promos.

[6] That creep would be his biological father, Woody Allen. Fuck yeah, I think he’s guilty.

[7] which he shared with The New York Times journalists Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, for their reporting on the #MeToo movement).

[8] Weinstein hired Black Cube, the Israeli private intelligence company, to target his accusers and also those reporting on the accusations (such as Farrow), to try to smear and intimidate them and suppress the reporting.

[9] The kind I reserve for human scum like trophy hunters and, oh, pedophiles and child molesters.

The Privacy I’m Not Assuming

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Department Of Weighing In On The Privacy Thing

Re the Facebook data scandal, and the reality – apparently astonishing, to some people – that social media and other websites are compromising and/or selling the data they collect on their users and visitors.  Some of these astonished some people are throwing fits of indignation, demanding that Congress “do something.” When it comes to the idea of doing something, others of the some people have been expressing their sense of futility by employing that old English proverb, trotting it out before, during and after FB co-founder/CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony before Congress:

It’s like closing the barn door after the horse has bolted.

Gee, ya think?

Not only has the horse bolted, that high-spirited steed done high tailed it to Louisville where it placed in the Kentucky Derby and was last seen headed for Lubbock to join the Professional Rodeo circuit.

*   *   *

I have no solutions for the problem and even less hope for its abatement, based in part on the existence of Amazon and Netflix recommendations. Y’all may know what I mean.

 

 

recommend

 

 

 

My recent purchases from Amazon include spatulas, two Kindle books (one on Buddhist meditation, the other a rock star’s memoir), and a tava. [1]  Thus, in the coming weeks I will see ads for such items not only on Amazon[2]  but on other sites I visit, along with “recommendations” for future purchases, such as books on the “uncensored oral history of punk” and “Vodka is Vegan,” and cinnamon-flavored dental floss, and a ten pound sack of chickpea flour, and….

We are living in a world wherein seemingly/otherwise intelligent people do not  apply their time and (presumably) hard-earned  mathematics/computer skills in ways which might be used to, say, reverse global warming or otherwise improve The Human Condition. ®  Instead, those with coding and other such skills are rewarded for devising algorithms to enable Netflix to offer me “Top Picks for Robyn” and “Because you watched….” categories. Based on the fact that in the past month I have watched episodes of Grey’s Anatomy and The Great British Baking Show, a documentary on endangered snow leopards, and a Ricky Gervais standup comedy special, the great minds in charge of such things have used their highly sophisticated calculations to try to convince me that I’d love to watch….50 First Dates?  [3]

There is little hope, in such a world.

 

 

 

horse

Don’t let the door hit you in the ass on your way out.

 

 

 

A long time ago in a galaxy far far away, I remember listening to an interview with a “computer/Internet/privacy expert” – a hacker who got caught, and as penance/punishment was hired by the corporation he’d hacked, to try to make their systems as un-hackable as possible. Former Hacker Guy went on to do independent consulting work for various corporations in areas related to internet privacy. I can’t remember all the details of the interview,   [4]  but what got seared into my brain were the two pieces of incongruous advice Former Hacker Guy gave, when asked by the interviewer to tell The Average Citizen ® what they can do to protect their information:

(1) When it comes to data about yourself – personal, employment, financial, recreational, you name it – fiercely guard your privacy and fight for laws to protect such information.

(2) There is *no* privacy, not anymore. Get used to it.

 

privacy

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of It’s Not Working

After finishing   [5]   the (afore-mentioned) book on the efficacy of Buddhist-style meditation – about seeing life for how it really is, detaching your illusions and gaining perspective – why did I then, while standing in a concert entry line with MH, note the faces of the young, attractive females standing in front of and behind me, and think petty comments to myself (along the lines of, I wonder how long it’ll be before she looks like…well, like me.)?

 

buddha

Not a verbatim quotation.

 

 

*   *   *

Privacy, Schrivacy – Department Of The Last Word On The Subject

Some of us realized long ago – or at least after we adopted our first feline – that there can be no privacy where a cat is involved.

 

 

catpawdoor

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of The Word After The Last Word

I was wondering: Can a Buddhist monk feel it is appropriate to use email?

My guess:  Sure, as long as there are no attachments.

 

 

squirelbuddha

 

*   *   *

 

 

 

May you realize that when you shut the bathroom door your cat thinks you’re doing something incredible enthralling;
May your barn doors  [6]  stay open so horses can come and go as they please;
May you share your squirrel-and-buddha jokes with an appreciative audience;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] A large flat frying pan used for cooking chapattis and a variety of Indian and south Asian flatbreads.

[2] I don’t get it – continuing to advertise, say, the spatula to me when their records would clearly show that I have already purchased it.

[3] They are so, so wrong, to recommend to moiself any movie with Adam Sandler in it.

[4] Nor even what show ran the interview…I’m thinking something NPR-ish.

[5] Isn’t it time for another footnote?

[6] Not that one.

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