Is today still considered Black Friday, what with the COVID crisis limiting the for some white trash who look forward to the traditional shoving match at Walmart customary, day-after-Thanksgiving shopping frenzy?  Using the post-holiday letdown as an excuse inspiration, moiself has decided that this will a lighter, less filling, politics-free post.
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Department Of Someone Is Not Understanding The Concept
Our city’s curbside recycling services recently (within the past year) added food waste recycling to their yard waste recycling service. Each household was issued a small (~ 1 gallon) tan container for the house, to be kept on your kitchen counter, under the sink, wherever, for your potato and apple peels, squash rinds – all of your plant food waste. When that container is full you empty it into your large (60 gallon) brown yard waste bin which you keep outside a foot or so over the property line, so as to annoy your neighbors next to your other garbage and recycling bins. the smaller container goes back inside the house. You wheel the big brown bin to the curb when it is your street’s garbage/recycling pickup day. Pretty basic stuff.
house food waste container on the front/left, which you empty into the yard waste bin on the right.
Our city, like most cities these days, has a fleet of garbage/recycling vehicles which are automated side load trucks. The trucks have a crew of one – the driver, who operates a mechanical arm which grabs and lifts the recycling bin and dumps it.
Here is what moiself observed on Monday morning, when I was walking in a neighborhood ~ 1 mile from my house, on that neighborhood’s recycling day.
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Dept Of Avoiding Politics To Keep The Peace For Just One Day, But Of Course She Found Something Else to Tantalize Offend Some of Y’all
There are so many, many, many examples I could use, but I’ll settle on this one: Why do religious folk still engage, and/or seem to believe in, the efficacy of intercessory prayer, considering what happened to Elizabeth Smart?
Jesus Lied About Prayer (excerpts from “Lies Jesus Told,” from the blog, “EvilBible.com – fighting Against Immorality In Religion” )
“Jesus is quoted many times in the Bible saying that a believer can ask for anything through prayer and receive it. He even goes so far as to say that mountains and trees can be thrown into the sea simply by praying for it. This is clearly a lie, and can be proven to be a lie by any believer. Simply pray for me to be converted to Christianity right away. Or better yet ask God to move the mountains behind my house. He could make a lot of converts that way. If I’m converted today, I’ll post a public apology on my web site and devote my life to kissing God’s ass. If I’m not converted it would only be fair for you to apologize and devote your life to kissing my butt. Here are the quotes from Jesus that proves that he lied:”
(moiself’scomment: the following is number three of nine demonstrably claims, from the New Testament, attributed to Jesus, that the author of this blog lists): (3) “Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.
(Matthew 18:19-20 NAS)”
Remember the Mormon girl, Elizabeth Smart, who was kidnapped from her Salt Lake City home at knifepoint when she was fourteen years old? She was held captive for nine months by her abductor.  The man, an excommunicated Mormon, claimed to be a prophet and an angel, and told Smart that she was …”the first of many virgin brides he planned to kidnap, each of whom would accompany him as he battled the Antichrist.” He repeatedly raped Smart, “…sometimes multiple times a day, forced her to look at pornographic magazines, and regularly threatened to kill her.”
Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.
If the human interest stories about the case that I read were correct – if what we know about human nature is correct – there were definitely more than two or three people praying, in Jesus’ name, from day one when news of Smart’s abduction broke. For nine months people prayed alone, and in groups, Mormons and Christians alike,  as well as believers of other faiths, for that poor girl to be found and returned to her family.
And Jesus was…where, during all of this?
If what Jesus said was trustworthy – and Christians claim that their scriptures are reliable in its narration of Jesus’ words and deeds – when those people were praying he was in their midst doing…just what, exactly? Listening to them, hearing their earnest supplications, discussing it with his supposed father/god/himself ,  and ultimately, apparently, saying something along the lines of, “Yeah, we’ll let them find her, but not now. We’ll allow her to get sexually assaulted for several more months, like the Congolese women who also keep praying to us as they are raped in the refugee camps.”
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Department Of This Is In The Running For Best (Verbal) Curse Ever
The visual version of this curse would be having to look at this picture.
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Department Of What The World Needs Now, Is Love Sweet Love…. Or, Failing That, A New Game
Dateline: Thursday morning. My thoughts while walking past the Manzanita Links golf course, where moiself espied at least six people prepping for a round of golf before halving to attend to Thanksgiving dinner or whatever.
As I passed the end of the course – the ninth hole – moiself had a sudden realization: while I have no interest in golf such as it is, I am intrigued by the idea of playing it backwards. How about instead of playing golf, we play Flog ® ?
“Only a stupid infidel would use a nine iron off the tee!”
No no no; not *that* kind of flog.
Here’s how to Flog: Using a specialty club –golf putters may need to be repurposed for flogging – players “hit” (or somehow coax) their flog balls out of the ninth hole, with the aim of getting the balls up to and atop the ninth hole tee. Repeat with each hole after (before?) that, until you end up at the first tee.
Just imagine the skill set involved! I mean, anyone can (eventually) hit a golf ball off of a tee, but the precision, tenacity, and dexterity in getting one *on* to it? Flogging will require an abundance of Zen-like focus and patience.
Flogging will be a high-scoring game – probably no two- or even three-par holes, and the odds against any player shooting a hole in one (tee in one?) will be astronomical.
What do you think – could this attract a whole new generation of players? Or, are the logistics insurmountable ? Obviously, you couldn’t have people golfing and flogging at the same time, as you’d end up with weird traffic jams,  so an existing course would have to decide, day by day, to be either for golfing, or for flogging.
So, when moiself wins the lottery  I will rent out an entire course golf course for moiself and some thrill-seeking friends, and we shall Flog.
Community Service/Making The World A Better Place ® Bonus: We floggers will be a better-dressed bunch than golfers. That’s almost too easy to guarantee.
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Department Of Partridge Of The Week
Our neighborhood knows the holiday season is in full swing when the lights go up on the pear tree in our front yard (the weekend after Thanksgiving) and stay up until early January. Each week, the tree hosts a Special Guest Star ®. This week’s Partridge in our pear tree is, as always, the lead-off:
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Pun For The Day
The cook couldn’t bother to season the thanksgving Turkey – she didn’t have the thyme.
“Yeah, sure lady – you’re a vegan, like we believe that!
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Department Of False Advertising
Although I promoted today’s post as being politics-free, moiself can’t resist mentioning this. Dateline: Wednesday afternoon, listening to a podcast, wherein a physician/scientist was being interviewed about the COVID-19 vaccine options. ‘Twas music to my ears to hear, more than once, the interviewer ask the scientist what he would be expecting and/or hoping from “…The Biden Administration.”
For the first time in four years, I could hear the word “administration,” referring to the federal government, and not feel the, nauseating, gut-twisting, I-told-you-not-to-eat-those-oysters sensation in the pit of my abdomen, as was the case when the word “administration” was precede by the name of #45.
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May you intrigue your mind with thoughts of other games which might be played backwards; May your soul be soothed by phrases like, The Biden Administration; May all your shits have antlers; …and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
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 Which might be considered a silver lining, of sorts.
 And is batshit crazy-evil wife, who abetted him.
Department Of I Am Happy/Relieved, But Should Be More Ecstatic-er… As per the Biden-Harris victory. But I’m not. For reasons I shall get into next week….
It is next week. And I can’t avoid the obvious any longer.
Biden-Harris won! Yet, considering how many voted for #45, I can never look at my fellow Americans again – including some of my family and friends – without wondering.
In the week before election day I listened to several podcasts which featured interviews with “reluctant” tRump voters. Most of them made statements indicating they held religious (read: Christian) beliefs; what they all had in common was their discomfort with #45’s temperament, character, handling of the pandemic, fomenting civil unrest, ad nauseum. BUT…#45 “agreed” with them on abortion and they thought that the economy – for themselves – was “better” under his policies.
The idea that because your personal portfolio has increased temporarily (and in the long run, it’s always temporary) means “things are better” for you…I haven’t the words to aptly excoriate the staggering egocentricity and shortsightedness of such thinking.
Calling all #45 supporters,  reluctant and gung-ho: Y’all plan to live more than another year or two? What do you think will happen when the #45 regime’s chickens come home to roost, including record deficits and national debt and global warming exacerbation…
Over four years in office, the Trump administration has dismantled major climate policies and rolled back many more rules governing clean air, water, wildlife and toxic chemicals. (from “The Trump Administration Is Reversing More Than 100 Environmental Rules.” NY Times Nov. 10, 2020 )
Have you no concern for the future – for your children and your fellow citizens, if not for yourself? Can nothing override your sense of the *me-good-now,* of your satisfaction with personal financial gain and the lack of being inconvenienced by having to change personal/global habits to reduce carbon emissions; can nothing deter you from selling out our children’s future to the financial, environmental and social crises that are sure to come?
Forget, for a moment, the future: what about the present? Can you really don enough blinders and earplugs to ignore the political and social calamities besetting your fellow citizens and pretend that these don’t harm, involve, or even concern you?
“Trump has repeatedly been endorsed by white supremacist groups and other far-right extremists, and they’ve looked to him as a source of encouragement.” ( Business Insider, 9-30-20 )
“Former KKK leader endorses Trump for president again… Perhaps the US’s most renowned racial extremist has long supported what he sees as the president’s white nationalist agenda.” (The Independent, News<World<Americas, 7-9-20)
You must be familiar with how political and human rights leaders call for unity and try to appeal to our so-called better natures when the latest incidents of police brutality, sexism and misogyny, and the country’s history of systemic racism are revealed:
“This is not who we are.” “We are better than this.”
You’ve heard those phrases before; you’ll hear them again. You may even believe them. But I’m gonna shove my elbow down the throat of the next person  who says that within earshot of moiself. Because, guess what? This *is*who we are – at least, nearly half of the voting “we.”
At least 73 million of us are not “better than this,” because 73 million Americans were able and willing to set aside, ignore, or explain away the actions, rhetoric and policies of #45 which have fostered an unprecedented rise in displays of hatred, bigotry, and violence.
“Hate crimes have surged nearly 20 percent during the administration of President Donald Trump, according to a new FBI report on hate crime statistics. The report also shows that hate-motivated murders, largely committed by white supremacists, spiked to their highest number in 28 years.” ( “Hate Crimes Under Trump Surged Nearly 20 Percent Says FBI Report,” Newsweek, 11-16-20 )
Here’s news from a small town in my state, a story which probably didn’t get much national coverage during the election hoopla:
At least two Klamath Falls billboards were vandalized with…symbols linked to white supremacists and neo-Nazi beliefs….
Multiple swastikas were painted on the billboards, as well as the numbers “1488.” Those numbers are a common white supremacist symbol referencing a future for white children and an homage to Adolf Hitler…. The timing of these symbols appearing the day after the election cannot be ignored, (Klamath Falls Equity Task Force member Joey Gentry) said, noting her belief that people with racist tendencies have been emboldened by President Donald Trump. (“Swastikas appear on billboards for Democrats, store in Klamath Falls,” Oregonlive.com, 11-5-20)
There are #45 supporters who claim to be horrified by such actions. They protest, “This isn’t us!” and say that they themselves are not racist. Yet they are willing to overlook #45’s dog whistles to white supremacist organizations – hells bells, he doesn’t even bother to use the whistles anymore.
In politician speak, a dog whistle is language that conveys a particular meaning to a group of potential supporters. The targeted group hears the “whistle” because of its shared cultural reference, but others cannot. In 2018, The Washington Post wrote that “perhaps no one has sent more dog whistles than President Trump.” When Trump this year planned a rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma – the site of one of the worst acts of racial terror in U.S. history – on the Black holiday of Juneteenth, the media called the rally a “racist dog whistle.” That suggests that white nationalists would view the timing as an overture, while others would miss the date’s racism. Journalists have also referred to Trump calling COVID-19 “the China virus” as a dog whistle…. True dog whistles rely on there being an “outgroup” that can’t hear the politician’s coded message. They are so specifically targeted that there’s no need to deny their coded meaning because no one outside the intended audience even hears them. This is why the term “dog whistle” does not accurately describe Donald Trump’s rhetoric. When Trump talks about “rapists” from Mexico, “shithole countries” in Africa and white supremacists as “very fine people,” the racial connotation isn’t hidden – it is obvious. “This isn’t just a wink to white supremacists,” said Sen. Kamala Harris in a tweet about Trump’s planned Tulsa rally. “[H]e’s throwing them a welcome home party.” (“Trump’s appeals to white anxiety are not ‘dog whistles’ – they’re racism.” The Conversation, 9-18-20 )
It haunts me – the voice of an Otherwise Nice-Sounding Man I heard being interviewed before the election, who said he struggled with his decision. Despite ONSM’s misgiving about the “other stuff,” ONSM chose #45 because ONDM’s stock portfolio had risen.
Other stuff. As in, #45’s history of sexual harassment and bullying, encouraging and abetting racial and social inequity, white supremacy, racism, homophobia, transphobia, & xenophobia; coddling (and imitating) dictators; collusion with Russia & obstruction of Justice, corruption and nepotism and “birtherism’ lies and lies lies and more lies… 
If you’ve a strong stomach, you can view (or download a pdf of) the unfortunately-not-yet-complete, “Listing of Trump’s Atrocities,” compiled via years of diligence of the non-profit publisher, McSweeney’s:
Early in President Trump’s term, McSweeney’s editors began to catalog the head-spinning number of misdeeds coming from his administration. We called this list a collection of Trump’s cruelties, collusions, and crimes, and it felt urgent then to track them, to ensure these horrors — happening almost daily — would not be forgotten. This election year, amid a harrowing global health, civil rights, humanitarian, and economic crisis, we know it’s never been more critical to note these horrors, to remember them, and to do all in our power to reverse them. Various writers have compiled this list during the course of the Trump administration. Their work has been guided by invaluable journalistic resources, including WTFJHT, NPR, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and other sources….
Other stuff. That #45 supporter, and millions like him, claim “That is not who we are,” yet vote for someone Who Is Exactly That. And that’s just as bad – no, it’s worse.
The leaders aren’t the problem; they rarely are. Leaders can do nothing without followers, plus those who claim not to be followers, but are Bystanders and Overlookers.
Charles Manson personally killed no one at the Tate-LaBianca murder scenes; he got his followers to butcher those seven people for him. Perhaps you’ve read about the protestations post-WWII from Italians who claimed not to have supported the policies of their Prime minister, Benito Mussolini, and who thus objected to being called fascists? “The concentration camps and mass killings of civilians in Yugoslavia and Greece – those happened outside our borders; we don’t really know about that. And, yeah, we, like, kinda, sorta, maybe knew that here, in our own country, Mussolini suppressed his opponents, dissenters, and social outsiders via physical assaults, imprisonment, economic deprivation, yada yada yada…. But, he made the trains run on time.” 
“This is not who we are.”
It sucks, massively, to realize the contrary.
And so my thoughts still go to dark places, dragged down by the reality of the complicity of millions of my citizens, plus this HOLY CRAP realization:
Joe and Kamala are stand-up, intelligent, competent, compassionate people, but yikes – look at how many problems they have to fix. What looms largest, exacerbated by #45, are the worldwide effects of global warming. Biden and Harris accept the obvious, hard truths laid out by science, but without a change in the hearts and minds of Republicans in congress, will we have a repeat of the Obama years, when Republicans’ only policy mandate was to counter everything he tried to do? Will they continue to stamp their metaphorical toddlers’ feet and tantrum their way through Biden’s term: “NO, I WON’T WONT WONT WONT PLAY WITH YOU AND YOU CAN’T MAKE ME.”
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Department Of Fun With Misreading Science
Dateline: 11/14, listening to Clear + Vivid podcast, episode Life on Venus? From the podcast’s website, this episode’s description:
She studies what may be the most disgusting molecule known to humankind. And that’s made Clara Sousa-Silva a key member of the team that may have detected life in the clouds of Venus. Her foul (and lethal) molecule has been discovered in those clouds – and the only current explanation for its presence is that it is being made by living organisms.
Podcast Host Alan Alda was asking guest Clara Sousa-Silva (quantum astrochemist  ) about how astronomy professor Jane Greeves contacted Sousa-Silva regarding a phenomenon of interest to both of them:
Alda: “And what prompted her (Greeves) to look for phosphine on Venus?”
Sousa-Silva: “It was a paper that we’d both read that mentioned phosphine association with penguin feces. So it seems like the intestines and excrements of penguins have… a rich, complex anerobic world that is producing phosphine, and there was an article released saying we’ve found phosphine above these places where there’s a lot of penguin poop and I had found that paper and read through every peer-reviewed paper that mentioned phosphine, and I’d collected this body of evidence as phosphine as a bio signature for anaerobic worlds… “
Y’all know what this means –
PENGUINS FOUND ORBITING VENUS ! !
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Department Of 7:45 am Observations While Walking Through The Neighborhood
I see the silhouette in the skies above me, that of a great blue heron flying on to its next destination, whether that be a nearby creek or someone’s backyard koi pond. The bird’s distinctive “fuselage” reminds me of a 747, at least in comparison to two other birds, one dove and one crow, occupying different flight paths below the heron.
Its good to use your imagination.
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Department Of The Standup Routine I’m Not Practicing
Dateline; last Friday. Apropos of nothing (that moiself was aware of), a few minutes after finishing breakfast, I got this flash vision of moiself practicing for a stand-up comedy routine, taking on the persona of a somewhat oblivious and bemused parent. Here was my opening (or closing…or both, depending on how well it would be received) joke:
“The kids these days, with all of their gender-this and sexual-that labels! Most of it goes right over my head.
The other day I caught my teenage son masturbating with a cast iron skillet. Is that what they mean by, ‘pansexual’?”
Yes, I thought that one up all by moiself. I want applause, dammit.
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Pun For The Day
Parallel lines have so much in common; it’s a shame they’ll never meet.
I thought I made it clear – no more math nerd puns!
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Department Of Possibly The Most Useless Question Posed To A Sentient Being…Ever
The following email, with this provocative tempting totally bat shit ridiculous thought-provoking come-on, somehow made it past my spam filter:
“Need eyelash extensions for the holidays?”
Honey, do you think *I* need eyelash extensions?
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May you never be a Bystander, nor an Overlooker; May you realize that you never “need” eyelash extensions, for any occasion; May we all strive to be better than this; …and may the hijinks ensue.
 Except that, he didn’t. Like many dictators, Mussolini “…liked to take credit for everything that went right in Italy, even when it didn’t go that well at all. He was particularly fond of saying he was responsible for successful, large-scale public works projects, such as the railroad system.” (Did Mussolini Really Keep the Trains Running on Time? history.howstuffworks.com )
This has been such a dismal year, in so many ways…and yet, yesterday, November 12, gave us something to rejoice about: it was the 50th anniversary of The Exploding Whale, Oregon’s legendary contribution to contemporary culture.  And in honor of that most sacred (to Oregonians) event, the infamous news video has been remastered, and I present it below for your viewing pleasure. You’re welcome.
Turn up the volume and listen carefully: in the background, just after the explosion, you can hear a woman advising her (I assume) husband, “All right, Fred, you can take your hands out of your ears…here comes pieces of – oh – uh – whale…”
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Department Of Nomination For Editorial Cartoon Of The Year
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Moiself is still somewhat in shock. Is our nation’s battle with truth-telling and political constipation is finally over, now that we were able to take a giant tRump dump?
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Department Of I Am Happy/Relieved, But Should Be More Ecstatic-er…
As per the Biden-Harris victory. But I’m not. For reasons I shall get into next week….
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Department Of For Those Still Wondering What The “Defund” Fuss Is About
“Defunding” the police means different things to different people; I think it’s a poorly chosen term for a complex problem. But…consider this recent incident, in a small Oregon town, as yet another reason why So Many Of Us ® have concerns (my emphases):
An off-duty Forest Grove police officer faces a criminal mischief allegation after a resident reported that he stumbled into the family’s driveway early Halloween morning, banged and kicked at their front door and yelled at them to fight.
Forest Grove police quickly caught the alleged intruder about 50 yards away and recognized him as one of their own, even giving Officer Steven Teets a ride to his nearby house, investigators confirmed Monday….
Police also don’t have body camera video of Teets’ escort home because the officer who picked him up and gave him a ride home had a body camera that was not recording, a potential  violation of department policy that’s now under investigation, officials said.
“We feel violated by what he did to me and violated by the way this was handled,” said Mirella Castaneda, 39, who called 911 that night to report the scare. … Castaneda said she and her husband were awakened when an alarm from her husband’s truck, parked in their driveway, was activated around 12:30 a.m. on Oct. 31.
It went off twice, and after the second time, she and her husband saw a man emerge from between their two trucks.
The stranger then banged on their Black Lives Matter flag hanging outside their garage door and a Halloween witch decoration on their front lawn, which activated their outside light.
As Castaneda opened the front door and peeked out, the man charged toward her, she said. She slammed the door and locked it.
“The guy is kicking the door, pounding on the door, trying to get in,” she recalled.
Her husband, Pablo Weimann, was looking out their dining room window, yelling at the man, “What the hell do you want?” Their four children had been asleep inside, but their 13-year-old son was awakened by the commotion.
The stranger, according to Castaneda, balled his fists and responded, “Come on! Come on!”
Castaneda called 911 and remained on the line with an emergency dispatcher for about 15 minutes, she said. During that time, the stranger left and the dispatcher told Castaneda that an officer had stopped someone.
When a Forest Grove officer arrived to the family’s home…the officer didn’t seem that concerned but asked if they could describe the stranger, Castaneda said….
Between 2 a.m. to 2:30 a.m., a Washington County sheriff’s deputy arrived at the home and said his office was taking over the case because Forest Grove police personally knew the suspect, according to Castaneda.
( excerpts from The Oregonian, ” Family says off-duty cop terrorized them on Halloween. Forest Grove officer faces criminal mischief allegation. ” )
Playful misbehavior or troublemaking, especially in children.
(‘she’ll make sure Danny doesn’t get into mischief’)
1.1 Playfulness that is intended to tease, mock, or create trouble.
(‘her eyes twinkled with irrepressible mischief’)
1.2 Harm or trouble caused by someone or something.
(‘she was bent on making mischief’)
Mischief is, apparently, used differently in a legal sense. Still, I find it…less than adequate, to put it mildly…to have the term applied to this situation, even with the modifier criminal preceding it. A police officer, a person who, even when not on the job, carries the advantage of authority (read: a gun and a badge) and then – surprise! – is treated differently (read: leniently…read: fucking *escorted to his home* instead of arrested) by responding officers than how a civilian suspected of the same crime would be dealt with.…
Golly gee; this is not my idea of Little Officer Stevie gettin’ in some “mischief.” For the family, I imagine it was more like, abject fear-inducing, a crazy man is trying to attack us/call-the-police terror…oh, it’s a cop who is terrifying us….
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Department Of Who Was In Charge of Adjectives For This Article’s Headline?
” What the president of the United States did tonight wasn’t complicated but it was stunning, even after four long years of the politically extraordinary.
In his remarks tonight from the White House, Mr. Trump lied about the vote count, smeared his opponents and attempted to undermine the integrity of our electoral system.” (NY Times, “Trump’s Stunning News Conference,” 11-5-20)
And this is *stunning* because…? And to whom – some nickel miner in New Caledonia ?
No one who has paid a mosquito’s ass worth of attention these past four years would find this stunning. This is what The Tangerine Toddler does.
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Department Of Why Aren’t You Reading Leonard Pitts Jr.’s Column On A Regular Basis?
Or, maybe you are.
…”If we don’t seek reconciliation, how can we go forward, together?”
The truth? Maybe we can’t…. All I do know is that if it depends on me to reach out to Trump supporters, it will never come to pass.
Please understand: I view this moment through the prism of an African-American man who is a student of history. And one thing that prism has impressed on me is how often this country has sold out Black people in the name of some supposedly greater good.
It happened at the founding, when a condemnation of slavery was removed from the Declaration of Independence to appease the Southern colonies. It happened in 1877 when Rutherford B. Hayes won the presidency in a disputed election after striking a backroom deal to withdraw from the South federal troops who had been protecting black rights — and lives. It happened in the early 20th century when the Senate refused to pass anti-lynching legislation for fear of angering the South. It happened in 1961 when Attorney General Robert Kennedy agreed to the illegal arrest of the Freedom Riders as Mississippi’s price for protecting them from white-supremacist mobs. It happened in 1964 when President Lyndon Johnson blocked a racially mixed delegation from being seated at the Democratic convention because that would offend the South.
Now in 2020, this great-grandson of slaves is expected, in the name of a supposedly greater good, to seek reconciliation with followers of one of the most flagrantly racist — not to mention misogynistic xenophobic and Islamophobic — presidents in history?….
At some point, this country has to… stop asking Black people to swallow insults to their dignity, their integrity, their very being, for the good of the country.
What about what’s good for us? When does that get addressed? At what point does America stand up for us the way it has always asked and expected us to stand up for it?
Trump and his supporters broke this country, and it will take years to repair, if we ever do. They didn’t care then, and as far as I can tell, they don’t care now. So as an African-American student of history — and frankly, just as an American who loves the ideal of America, the truths held self-evident and more perfect union of America — I ask you not to ask me what I will do to reconcile with those people. Here’s a better question:
What will they do to reconcile with me?
(“Blacks are supposed to reconcile with Trump supporters? Nah, not this time. You first.” By Leonard Pitts, Jr. Miami Herald, 11-7-20)
The many, many reasons I am not in favor of “reaching across the (proverbial, political) aisle” have been and are being expressed by persons more articulate  than moiself . Some of them were stated in the previous excerpts of Mr. Pitt’s op-ed.
Read, or even skim through these articles, if you have the stomach for it.
“The Victory of ‘No’ – The GOP’s unprecedented anti-Obama obstructionism….” (Politico Magazine, 12-4-16)
“I can’t ever recall a newly elected president being faced with the leader of the other party’s caucus saying “Our No. 1 priority is to make this president a one-term president,”’ says (Ed  ) Rendell citing the remark made by Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader, that exemplified the fierce partisanship that has attended Obama’s tenure. ‘That McConnell would say that in the first nine months of Barack Obama’s tenure is absolutely stunning, disgraceful, disgusting — you name the term.”
(Peter J. Boyer, writing in Newsweek, Sept. 10, 2012, quote from WaPo fact checker article “When did McConnell say he wanted to make Obama a ‘one-term president’?”) “The Party of No: New Details on the GOP Plot to Obstruct Obama” ( Time magazine, 8-23-12 )
“The GOP’s no-compromise pledge” ( Politico, 10-28-2010 )
“Republicans Keep Admitting Everything
They Said About Obama Was a Lie” (The New Yorker , 2-11-19)
The behavior of congressional Republicans during the past 12 years have made it plain as to the futility of across-the-aisle-reaching. Democrats can reach all they want; Republicans refuse to do so. They’ve even bragged about their obstructionism.
Joe Biden, the nation’s president-elect and Kindhearted Uncle In Chief, has spouting the rhetoric of working together, going forward, reaching across the aisle. Biden is perhaps the best – and one of the only – politicians capable of such magnanimity…even so, I say, Yeah, good luck with that, Joe. Given that across-the-aisle for the past twelve years perches that monstrous vulture, obstructionist Mitch McConnell and his miserable minions, whose policy has been It-doesn’t-matter-what’s-best-for-the-country-we-have-to-be-sure-that-whatever-happens-THEY-LOSE.
I feel a deep, simmering, hard-to-accurately-describe rage when I hear calls for “reaching across the aisle,” “not treating your opponents as enemies,” and other statements which imply that seeking justice is “looking backwards, not forwards.” These calls are, of course, not coming from those on the Right who most need to beg for reconciliation with those whom they’ve wronged, but from Well-Meaning People ® on the Left.
“Swalwell calls for creation of presidential crimes commission to investigate Trump when he leaves office” ( The Hill, 8-14-20 )
I’ve been surprised by how many Well-Meaning People ® also seem hesitant to hold #45 et all responsible for their crimes, because, they say, they fear doing so may throw “gasoline on the fire” and be viewed by #45’s already volitile supporters as an act of vengeance.
Giving into the loudest/most unreasonable voices does not keep the peace, nor does it snuff the fire. Stop tip-toeing around the feelings of people who would support such a disgraceful, delinquent, despotic politician as #45. Such people Don’t. Care. What. You. Think. Or. Say. About. Them.
A thorough investigation of how #45 and his nepotistic nest of nincompoops and comrades abused and profited from the office of the presidency is not seeking vengeance, it is enacting justice. Prosecuting lawbreakers is what prosecutors do. In particular, a POTUS like #45, who appealed to tribalism via using the law-and-order tag, should be held accountable for breaking the law and fomenting disorder. To do otherwise is to uphold the fundamentally anti-American notion that a POTUS is above the law, and would help write the playbook as to how crimes and corruptions will be excused for the next would-be despot to occupy the Oval Office. 
When Biden wins I’m going to be a sore winner. Sure Democrats can reach across the aisle–if they’re serving subpoenas. I’ll “look backwards” at the crimes committed by Trump, his family, elected & appointed officials in the GOP. What will I “look forward” to? Convictions.
* * *
But…I amtrying to concentrate on some good, less stressful things.
* * *
Department Of Nominee For Quote Of The Year
Dateline and context: Tuesday morning, breakfast. MH is standing beside the table, looking over a jigsaw puzzle (“Rosie the Riveter”) which has been on our puzzle board for far too long. He has done the majority of the work; our cats, over the weeks, have done some overnight “rearranging” of the pieces.
MH is talking about completing the puzzle, about how it would probably be best to do “the blue section” next, as there aren’t many pieces in that section, and he’s got them all organized according to color…. He’s not addressing me specifically (he almost sounds as if he’s thinking aloud)…oh, but of course he is – who else is there? And he’s using a very gentle, encouraging voice, as if I’m a novice and/or special needs puzzle-doer. It’s not patronizing, but for some reason his placid encouragement cracks me up. I start giggling to moiself…but it doesn’t stay with moiself, and soon morphs into teary-eyed laughter. It is a full minute before I can collect moiself and answer his “Okay; why are you laughing?” query.
I tell him why.  His mumbled comment, as he sorts through the blue puzzle pieces while feigning indignation:
“This is why people are quiet.”
* * *
Pun For The Day
Why do grizzlies hate this part of my blog? They can’t bear puns.
“It’s *your* turn to make her stop….”
* * *
May you know that you can pursue justice *and* reach across the aisle; May you understand what the fuss is all about; May you remember why people are sometimes quiet; …and may the hijinks ensue.
Department Of One Person‘s Cool Fact Is Another Person’s Bloodcurdling Nightmare
I count myself fortunate to be in the former camp, as per moiself’s reaction when I learned about the phenomenon known as spider rain.
Moiselfhad heard about spider “ballooning,” which is the way some hatchling spiders migrate and disperse.
But I didn’t know that a bunch of spiders ballooning at the same time is called a spider rain. Ain’t nature grand?
“Ballooning is a not-uncommon behavior of many spiders. They climb some high area and stick their butts up in the air and release silk. Then they just take off…. This is going on all around us all the time. We just don’t notice it.” (Rick Vetter, UCR arachnologist)
The reason people don’t usually notice this ingenious spider behavior is that it’s not common for millions of spiders to do this at the same time, and then land in the same place….In these kinds of events [spider rains], what’s thought to be going on is that there’s a whole cohort of spiders that’s ready to do this ballooning dispersal behavior, but for whatever reason, the weather conditions haven’t been optimal and allowed them to do that. But then the weather changes, and they have the proper conditions to balloon, and they all start to do it.” (Todd Blackledge, biology professor, University of Akron in Ohio).
(“Cloudy with a Chance of Arachnids?
Spider Rain’ Explained” livescience.com )
She’s ready for the spider rain; are you?
* * *
Department Of Celebrating That Which Also Needs Mourning
Thinking about the torturous path to women’s suffrage. As the hundredth anniversary of the 19th Amendment approaches, I’ve been listening to podcasts ( e.g., She Votes! Our Battle for the Ballot) and watching TV shows (e.g., American Experience: The Vote ) detailing the long history. Some of it I already knew, via college classes and independent reading. And, some of it I didn’t…and, as with many civil rights issues, learning the history is both illuminating and nauseating. The latter because of why there had to be a 19th amendment in the first place.
Two other amendments to the U.S. Constitution, the 14th – specifically, its first section, aka The Equal Protection Clause – and the 15th amendment in its entirety, should have taken care of that. Here are the referenced texts (my emphases)
Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
Section 1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.
Section 2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
The reason the 19th amendment was needed to give women the vote is because gender/sex needed to be mentioned specifically…because, until it was, the14th and 15th amendments would not be applied, to women, by male jurists and lawmakers. The only conclusion possible for as to why, given the gender neutral language of the above amendments, is because women were not considered to be included in the terms “people, or “citizens.”
All together now:
Moiself has also been ruminating on the broader implications behind one of the more common arguments which was presented against women’s suffrage: the idea that the awesome responsibility of voting would take women “out of the home.”
This idea was accompanied by the usual horseshit arguments re a woman’s supposed “delicate feminine nature/sensibilities,” which might be jostled by the strain of voting and civic engagement. That is an interesting juxtaposition with the argument that the importance and rigors of child-reading and household maintaining were such that only women were qualified to do them, yet no one argued that *those* particular rigors were too much for the delicate female nature.
Education; employment; political action – anything which might distract (read: unshackle) women from what was considered to be their primary sphere – taking care of home and husband and children – was threatening to most men. Some folks even used the lame argument that granting women equal voting rights to men would be a “come down” from women’s “superior” position That absurdity argument held that the raising of children made women the fictional proverbial power behind the throne, and that by raising future (male) leaders and voters women could more effectively influence public policy than by actually voting themselves. 
Really; they used that argument.
All of the emphasis on The Home ®- that a loving, stable, well-run household and the rearing of children are the foundations of civilization – guess what? No argument from moiself on that account – although I strongly differ as to the relegation of such important work to only one gender.
But using that reason – the paramount importance of household management and child-rearing – as an argument to deny voting to half the human population holds about as much water as a cheesecloth catheter bag.
Yep, I’m proud of that one.
The thing is, men truly didn’t believe the argument themselves, or they would have taken over the management of home and children.
Yes this is so incredibly important- the most important thing in the world, actually!…but we want someone else to do it, and we want them to remain mostly invisible, and have no political power.
History shows us that anything patriarchal societies deem to be of upmost importance they also declare women as being incapable of, and/or forbidden by “nature” (read: religion), of successfully doing.
If the preparation and maintaining of a household and the raising of children were indeed considered to be of supreme importance to society, where was the remuneration for doing so – then, as well as now? Child-rearing and household management, for women at least and for the most part, continue to be all-encompassing “jobs” which have no independent financial recompense, professional status, or safety net. 
So, yeah. The 100th anniversary of MORE THAN HALF THE CITIZENS OF THIS COUNTRY obtaining the right to vote…a mere ONE HUNDRED FORTY FOUR YEARS after their country is founded…is noteworthy, and the struggle for our country’s universal suffrage should be better known and taught. But the more I learn about what the struggle entailed, the less cartwheels I feel like doing.
And besides, mine would look something like this.
* * *
Department Of I Hate The Fact That The Analogy Is So Apropos
Friend JWW’s disturbingly astute observations, shared on Facebook, after the first presidential debate:
I am afraid of this president. If this is how he comports himself in front of the whole United States of America on national TV….
He was threatening and says if he does not win the election then things will not end well. What is that supposed to mean? If he doesn’t win what is he going to do? This makes me very frightened about what the future holds for the USA.
I am also afraid because I am a woman and this president sounds like an abusive husband or boyfriend. I am afraid because if a woman wants to leave a guy like that, she has to be afraid that if she does leave, he will come and hunt her down and kill her and her children. There is no way out. Restraining orders don’t work. So many women are killed even when the guy has a restraining order against him.
We need to vote him out. Vote him out. Vote him out.
And even then we are not sure he will leave.
* * *
Pun For The Day
Why hasn’t #45  ever finished a novel? Because he always gets stuck in Chapter 11.
* * *
May you remember to vote him out; May you remind everyone you know to vote him out; May you convince total strangers at the grocery store to vote him out; …and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 There were some women making the same argument, which should not be surprising, considered that they as well as men were subject to the same cultural mythos, forces and expectations.
 Other than via financial dependency upon a spouse, which can disappear at drop of a hat (as in a divorce decree or death certificate).
 There was nothing presidential about #45’s deportment.
 Aka Little Chief Bunker Bitch, and other assorted monikers employed by those of us who love our country and thus cannot bear to use the given name of the man who shits all over it.
Now I know I’ve given up: I put away the St. Patrick’s Day dinner decorations.
Moiselfand MH had a dinner party planned for Tuesday, March 17, an event that – surprise! – got…suspended. At the time, I told would-be attendees that we were, in an act of delusion optimism, not cancelling the invitation but merely postponing it, and that I would be leaving the dining table decorated. And I did, for two months. Then, gradually, the napkins and plates were put away, and I put the table décor, such as it is/was (think: an eight-year-old’s idea of festive holiday dining), into its long term storage bag but did NOT transport it to its shelf in the attic. It remained on the table, until three days ago.
Instead of deleting the reminder I had on my computer calendar (“Rsch St. Patrick’s day dinner when COVID shit is over”) I have reduced its occurrence from weekly to every other month. The computer prompt, initially a hopeful harbinger of a return to normalcy, came to be a dispiriting reminder of physical isolation: I miss the company of dining and conversing with friends, both long time and recently met, all treasured, and groaning at each recitation of a dreadful (but occasion-appropriate) joke and pun. 
All apologies to the centerpiece: Good Lady Spud, your time shall come again.
* * *
Department Of The Title I Want When I Grow Up
…I’ve carved out this little niche for myself on the internet…
because as we all know, the easiest way to be at the top of your field is to choose a very small field.” (inventor Simone Giertz, in her TED talk)
Dateline: Monday; listening to a TED Radio Hour episode, titled “Pure Joy.” A description of the episode, as per the TEDsite:
More than ever, we need to make time for joy. This hour…(we)…explore talks that surprise, inspire, and delight.
The first talk excerpted was one given two years ago by Simone Giertz. Twenty-nine-year-old Giertz, the creator of the toothbrush helmet,  is a Swedish inventor and robotics enthusiast. She’s also, and perhaps most prestigiously for her generation, that which most generations never imagined would be a thing: she is a YouTube celebrity ®.
In her talk, “Why You Should Make Useless Things,” Giertz apparently advocates for inventing devices which are “useless at solving the problem they are attempting to solve,” but which serve a higher purpose of overcoming your fear of failure (by working hard at something you know is bound to fail) and teaching you engineering and design skills. I say “apparently” because I was unable, or rather unwilling, to listen to the rest of her talk, after hearing the podcast curator describe Giertz as
“…the queen of useless robots.”
Overcome with both admiration and envy, moiself completely lost interest in listening further. I figured it was better to let my imagination take the wheel as I envisioned the perks and responsibilities of that particular kind of royalty.
“…uneasy is the head that wears a crown” …unless of course that head belongs to The Queen of Useless Robots.
* * *
Department of The Neighborhood Guerilla Prankster Strikes Again… In Her Dreams
There’s a house a couple of blocks away from my street with an attached, two-door, three-car garage set up:
An older couple lives in said house. Depending on the route I take, I often walk past the house in the morning, and I’ve seen it with either or both garage doors open; thus, moiself knows that the smaller, one-car garage is not used as a garage but has been turned into the workshop space of the older gentleman. When the workshop/garage door is open you can see the tool racks and radial saw and other workshop equipment; when the workshop/garage door is closed, you can see a sign on it which reads, MEN ONLY.
When I first saw the sign, and then every time I walked past the house, moiself had the almost overwhelming desire to take a picture of it, then take the picture to a signage shop and order a self-adhesive sign in similar lettering, color and size that read: GIRLY. The plan: early one morning, I would post GIRLYabove MEN ONLY.
Alas; the time for that prank has passed. I recently noticed that the exterior of the house (including the garage doors) has been painted, and the MEN ONLY sign has not reappeared on the garage door. Still, I think of it when I pass that house, and remind moiself of the ultimate reason I decided against enacting my prank: the ubiquity, nowadays, of cell phones and home security cameras. Ending up on someone’s YouTube shaming video is not something I crave for moiself, even in the performance of (what would have been) a public service.
* * *
Department Of Just Wondering
Due to the wildfires plaguing the West, I am checking the Air Quality Index several times daily – even though a cursory look out of my house’s (all tightly closed) windows tells me all I need to know about whether or not it’s safe to go outside.
How quickly I and my friends have adapted to using yet another acronym:
“So, what’s the AQI in your town?”
This is so surreal. The air where I live has been smoky-jaundice-colored; the pictures I’ve seen of the Bay Area’s midday, sci-fi/Martian orange skies have a certain, apocalyptic beauty, even as I realized the horrific reasons behind them that had nothing to do with a more benign reason, such as a particularly flamboyant sunset or sunrise. 
In my early morning walks (the ones I used to do before our AQI was at Hazardouslevel – the carefree mornings before I even knew what an AQI was) I pass by several houses where I often see a smoker out on his front porch, lighting up his first deathstick cigarette of the day. Actually, I smell the smokers before moiself sees them – even from across the street. I’ve come to know which houses they live in and cross to the other side before passing by. (Most smokers seem to not know – or care – how far their effluence travels and how long it lingers.)
From having exchanged pleasantries with them over the years, I know that the main reason these folks are lighting up on their porches is because they are the only smoker in their household, and they’ve been forbidden by their spouses and/or other family members from polluting their domicile and have been banished to puffing in The Great Outdoors ® .
I haven’t done a morning walk since the AQI reached the first level of Unhealthy…even though I didn’t know it had done so at the time. I’d gone out earlier than usual and wore a mask; it was the first morning where the sky looked…suspicious. I decided to end my walk after 30 minutes, and thought I probably shouldn’t walk outside again until I figured out what was going on. On my way back I passed by two of the Porch Smokers, the glowing ends of their cigarettes providing an eerie impetus for me to get back home.
Our current situation: we’ve been warned about the wildfires near and far, spewing particulate matter in the air which, at an AQI in the upper ranges (which we’ve been having in the Pacific NW for days), can aggravate or trigger serious respiratory conditions in otherwise healthy people, even with relatively short exposure.
So, when smokers awaken, and eagerly or furtively inhale the day’s first fumes into their lungs, moiself can’t help but wonder: what’s being circulated in the organ between their ears? Amidst the reports of the wildfire’s devastation – it’s been all wildfires, all the time, for local news reporting – including the loss of life from burns and smoke inhalation, do they consider even for a moment the fires’ victims? Do they find their eyes tearing up with compassion as they think to themselves, “Oh, how awful! Those poor people!”as they suck in their own mini-conflagration?
While we live with the warnings to not go outside even for short periods of time because breathing the air could sicken or even kill you, and smokers continue to expedite that process by lighting up their cigarettes.
We humans are experts at compartmentalization and denial…and, yeah yeah yeah, nicotine is one of the most addictive substance on earth, and addicts are not known for rationality and or introspection thoughts…. Still, it boggles my mind.
The Great American Smokeout, the American Cancer Society’s annual “quitting campaign,” is on the third Thursday in November. The Not-so-Great American Smoke-In is happening as I type. Aaaaaarrrrrggggghhhhh.
* * *
Department Of, Of All The Things To Be Thinking About….
2020. The year that, on a national and global shitstorm level, has brought us:
* Year three of criminally negligent governance by a musty scrotal hair of a human being (#45) and his soul-sucking sycophants;
* Too many Americans determined to focus on someone looting a 7-11 rather than face the centuries of systemic injustice which have prompted the (majority peaceful) displays of civil disobedience;
* the apocalyptic wildfires in the US, yet another testament to the consequences of ignoring of global warming…
Thank you, and please demoralize us further.
On a personal level,  my concerns include a friend who fled the wildfires (her town is essentially gone; her neighbors have lost nearly everything); my daughter Belle who, recovering from foot surgery, has developed an allergy to medical adhesives holding her bandages in place; MH’s “sister/cousin”  and her protracted recovery from the heart surgeryand kidney failure after she and her young adult daughter discovered they both have a genetic disorder which has given them, among other conditions, aortal defects; learning that the son of my MIL’s longtime friend and business associate has just lost his son to suicide….
Two days ago, amidst all of these woes and more, I found moiself thinking,
The beloved comedian/writer/screenwriter/playwright/songwriter/director and WWII vet has seen so much in this world, and contributed so much to our culture…and now here’s this shitty year in which Mel had to mourn the death of his best buddy – another national comedy treasure, Carl Reiner.
I just want Mr. Brooks to be able to survive this year. I would so look forward to his commentary on all of this, you know?
Two of my favorite scenes from my favorite Mel Brooks movie:
* * *
Pun For The Day
The past, the present, and the future walk into a bar. It was tense! 
* * *
May we work for the best (even if we suspect the worst); May we return to the privilege of not knowing our AQI; May we all be deserving of even the most obscure royal title; …and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 “What do you call an Irishman with an IQ of 100? A village.”
 A device which you have never heard of because it is “recommended by zero out of ten dentists,” the inventor admits.
 Henry IV, Part 2. I don’t imagine Shakespeare imagined just how heavy – or silly – crowns could get.
 Ash higher in the atmosphere turned the Bay Area skies orange, as opposed to around me, where the smoke was lower. If I can remember some basic physics/light refraction, I think this has to do with the high ash/smoke particles scattering blue light & only allowing certain wavelengths of light – yellow-orange-red light – to reach the earth’s surface.
 This not some Mormon polygamy term; rather, she is cousin who is more than a cousin but not technically a sister – she came to live with MH’s family when she was an adolescent, after both of her parents died.
 I’m sorry, but there is no room for a seventh footnote.
Department Ah, Morning, With The Delicate Aroma Of Horseshit Wafting Through The Air Sub Department Of Yet Another Reason Not To Check Facebook Before Breakfast
A wise and witty friend recently posted this on her FB site:
Right on!, moiself thought. I began to read one of the comments on her post, one which started with a teensy provocative sentence, and then, there was that blue more…
I should have left it at that, but, noooooooo. I had to click on more, and there was more. And more, and more, and more – and did I mention, *more*?
*More* turned out to be a multi-paragraph treatise of Buddhist proselytizing, starting with how we should remember that there are also poor and downtrodden white people  who don’t feel particularly privileged (which should have clued me in – it’s the, “But, all lives matter!” equivalent of deflection from the issue), and how people’s choices and actions in life lead to their circumstances, plus many other Buddhist tenets…. 
At least it wasn’t pimply-faced kids half your age showing up on your front porch, calling themselves, “Elder.”
I thought about privately messaging Wise and Witty Friend, something along the lines of, Hey, WWF, would you allow someone to post a fundamentalist Christian tract on your page, because some Karma fundamentalist has just done the equivalent. It turns out WWF was way ahead of me, and deleted the comment soon after it was posted. Dang. Now I have to slag it from memory.
BTW, be it the Christian version, or Buddhist/Hindu/Karmic fundamentalism, I call BS on all of ’em. So, let the specific slagging begin.
The Buddhist Evangelical Fundamentalist Commenter (BEFC) quoted a Buddhist adage:
Sweet, and harmless, right?
Wrong. Especially as per the issues of privilege and systemic racism that the Black Lives Matter movement is bringing to the fore…as well as a host of other life situations.
As I read BEFC’s proselytizing prose I flashed back to a bar conversation I’d had many years ago,  with a friend who’d emigrated to the USA (with his parents) from India when he was an adolescent. We were  talking religion; specifically, his refutation of his religious background (although, in part to please his family, he kept up with a few of what he considered to be non-religious, cultural practices). He simply could not overlook the damage done by the concepts of karma and reincarnation (central to both Hinduism and Buddhism).
Karma…though its specifics are different depending on the religion… generally denotes the cycle of cause and effect — each action a person takes will affect him or her at some time in the future. This rule also applies to a person’s thoughts and words…. With karma, like causes produce like effects: a good deed will lead to a future beneficial effect, while a bad deed will lead to a future harmful effect…. Importantly, karma is wrapped up with the concept of reincarnation or rebirth, in which a person is born in a new human (or nonhuman) body after death. The effects of an action can therefore be visited upon a person in a future life, and the good or bad fortune someone experiences may be the result of actions performed in past lives. What’s more, a person’s karmic sum will decide the form he or she takes in the next life. (LiveScience, “What is Karma?”)
To summarize an hour-long discourse, the gist of my friend’s opinion: Besides being superstitious nonsense physically and intellectually unsubstantiated, karma essentially credits people for their successes and blames them for their failures. Your success is justified because it is either something you have achieved yourself in the here and now or it is the result of your good deeds in your previous life – the fact that you happened to be born in a powerful class/caste/gender/time period can be conveniently ignored. As for that poor Dalit (aka, “Untouchable“) man you sometimes run across, who does your laundry, sweeps your streets, unblocks your sewers with this bare hands and does other “unclean” work out of economic necessity? Yeah, that’s unfortunate for him, but who are you to interfere with his experience of cause and effect? It’s his karma; obviously, he did something bad in his previous life and/or has something to work out in this one….
There are so many Life Factors we humans don’t – or don’t wish to – understand (or even acknowledge), including those of luck and circumstance. In particular, people who are happy and successful are often hesitant to attribute their well-off circumstances, even in part, to the happenstance of their birth into the “right” (or at least more opportunity-providing) society/class/ethnicity/gender. People can be reluctant, even nervous, to admit that not everything is in their own control. This reluctance paves the way for religion/supernaturalism to step in with, “Don’t worry – here’s the answer!” or, “Sure, there *is* an answer, but it’s too much for mere mortal minds to comprehend so just trust in what we tell you and one day in the future/heaven/your next life you’ll get it….”
As to BEFC’s presentation, certainly the attitude embodied in the Buddhist saying (about the journey from blaming others, yourself, and then no one), has some merit, in the positive mindset/know thyself realm. But to avoid the fact that some things are mostly or even entirely out of your hand, and that sometimes other people and/or social frameworks and institutions *are* to blame – ignoring reality is not how we combat injustice.
The karma concept has always reminded me of a much-loathed – by moiself, at least – allegedly inspirational phrase from my own culture, which states that it is admirable and possible to Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps. The thing is, in order to pull yourself up by your own bootstraps, you have to have a pair of boots in the first place – you either can afford a pair of boots, or someone has given you boots. With straps.
Although I’m onboard with RuPaul pulling up any boot with any kind of strap.
A Black American family, working and saving diligently to be first-time home owners, can have the most positive attitude in the world, but when their mortgage application is denied, their “blaming no one” will not help them “arrive” on their journey to financial security when that loan denial is due to reasons out of their control.  “Blaming no one” will not alleviate the injustice when the family has been redlined, due to their skin color and/or the neighborhood in which they currently live and/or the neighborhood where the house they wish to purchase is located.
The concept of karma arose and survived because, like all religious philosophies, it tries to explain the unexplainable, and many of us are uncomfortable with uncertainty. Life is complex; there is much we don’t understand, about the physical world around us and the inner world of people’s thoughts motivations, and humans evolved to see and seek patterns even where none exist. But worldviews which admit to this reality – “Hey, this stuff is complicated and no one has all the answers” – don’t get many followers (and even fewer collection plate donations and tax credits).
Ah, karma. “What goes around comes around“…if only. Don’t we all know too many people whose actions merit shit pie, yet Life keeps serving them Crème Brûlée?
“For every action there is an equal and opposite re-action”
Karma and other religious principles are sometimes quoted as if they were one of Newton’s Laws of Motion, yet they are not even close to qualifying as laws of physics, let alone testable hypotheses. The karmic premises of cause and effect –
“each action (as well as a person’s thoughts and words) a person takes will affect him or her at some time in the future,” and “like causes produce like effects”
(1) presumptuous; (2) not borne out by objective data, and often refuted by experience; (3) antithetical to the reality of injustice and systemic bigotry; (4) aren’t the first three reasons enough?
Most abhorrent of all, whether you call it karma or one of those other, “You can do whatever you dream/You make your own reality” philosophies, such concepts lay the foundation for victim-blaming.
“… the accused had entered the West Delhi residence of the minor with the intent to ransack, but attacked (a 12-year-old girl) after she spotted him….
Besides the sexual assault, the girl was hit on the face and head with a sharp object. She was found lying in a pool of blood by her neighbours….
The girl has multiple head fractures and bite marks all over her body. She has been brutally assaulted to the extent that there are injury marks on every part of her body….” (“Two days after 12-year-old beaten, sexually assaulted, one held Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who visited the hospital, said the brutality inflicted on the girl has “shaken is soul” and the government will hire the best lawyers to bring the guilty to justice.” Indianexpress.com)
Two disturbing facts of life are that (1) sometimes people chose to do bad things and good people can simply be in the wrong place at the wrong time; and (2) cultural/gender privilege and systemic bias exist. But people won’t try to change that which they won’t acknowledge as existing…or which can be explained away by concepts like karma.
The white 16-year-old by pulled over by a cop for a minor traffic infraction (then let go with a warning) has the privilege of escaping violent stereotypes associated with his race, in a way that his 16-year-old Black classmate – pulled over for the same infraction yet subjected to an unwarranted drug test/vehicle and body search by the suspicious cop – does not. Neither boy is experiencing the “karma” – or “cause and effect” – of their own relatively short lives; rather, their immediate circumstances are determined by the biases of others who hold power over them.
Nothing that 12-year-old girl (in the above news story) did or could ever do is responsible for or related to the brutality which was done to her. Anyone who would even entertain a mindset which would allow for that possibility needs to wash out their mind with soap.
* * *
Departments Of Exceptions To The Rule
Moiself is, however, grateful for whomever dreamed up the concept of karma, if only for the fact that it (eventually) led to one of the best “The Far Side” cartoons, ever.
I wasn’t able to find the cartoon itself, so use your imagination. First, picture the silhouette of a classic Far Side Woman. ®
The cartoon consists of a single panel: two flies are on a refrigerator door. Looming over and behind them we see the shadow of Far Side Woman ®, her upraised arm holding a fly swatter. One fly says to the other,
“I guess I should have been nicer to my wife when I was alive;
this is the third time I’ve been reincarnated as a fly in her kitchen.”
* * *
Department Of Idiocy Makes My Brain Hurt Sub-Department Of Let’s Just Cancel those Pesky Qualities of Imagination And Empathy, Part 102.7 In A Contemptibly Long Series Adjunct to the Sub-Sub Division Of Why My Own Profession Has Left A Bad Taste In My Mouth For Years
One of the worst things for writers is not to be censored, but to self-censor in fear of crossing the sensibilities and preferences of others.
I’ve written before of my frustration with and loathing for the “cultural appropriation” tribalism/mob mentality that has infected the world of literary fiction…and I’ll doubtless have cause to lament about it again. The latest instigation was a Fresh Air interview (a rerun, which I heard for the first time, this week) with actor/producer Kerry Washington.
Washington has been nominated for Emmy awards for acting in and co-producing the series, “Little Fires Everywhere,” which was adapted from the bestselling novel by Celeste Ng. Washington is Black; in the novel, the ethnicity of Mia, the character Washington plays, is never mentioned. Podcast host Terry Gross asked Washington how changing the character’s race changed the story and the story’s subtext. Washington said that casting herself in the role was the idea of her producing partners.
Washington (my emphases):
“…They had the idea to call me up and send me the book and ask me if I wanted to do it. And I thought it was an amazing idea. Of course, when I read it, I was reading it through the lens of Mia being Black because I’m Black. I think the novel is so much about identity and how the roles and the context of our identity contributes to how we live and relate to others in the world. So we knew that adding this layer of race would add to that complexity in an exciting way.
Then when I met Celeste Ng, the writer, for the first time, she actually admitted to me that she had always thought of Mia as a woman of color and that she had been drawn to the idea of writing Mia as a Black woman. But she didn’t feel like she had the authoritative voice to do that in the right way.”
I felt sucker-punched to hear that…yet I was hardly surprised. I’ve little doubt that author Ng’s hesitation about her “authoritative voice” was due to her anticipating charges of cultural appropriation (and the very real possibility of being boycotted by publishers, who would fear such a backlash): as in, how dare Ng think that she, an Asian (read: non-Black) writer, could create a full-blooded, multi-faceted, Black character?
* Although the Asian-American author imagined a Black woman as this lead character, she couldn’t bring herself to actually write her as such;
* Nevertheless, this Asian/non-Black writer was so successful in creating a compelling story about “identity and how the roles and the context of our identity contributes to how we live and relate to others in the world” that a Black actor could identify with this lead character as Black;
* And it was acceptable for the series’ casting director and other lead actor and producers to suggest casting the character as Black, and the Black actor allowed herself to take the role (“an amazing idea”), which was created by an Asian, non-Black writer….
* * *
Department Of Worst First (and last) Date Ever
Dateline: an early morning walk, listening to a Curiosity Daily (“a unique mix of research-based life hacks, the latest science and technology news”). One of the podcast’s topics was how male angler fish fuse with their mates without risking immune system rejection.
Narration: “… (the) male angler fish latches on, and begins to dissolve. As his tissues and circulatory system meld with the female’s, eventually most of his body parts and organs disintegrate, leaving his girl with only a pair of reproductive organs to remember him by. This is called sexual parasitism, and it’s totally unique to the anglerfish…”
Moiself : ” ‘Sexual parasitism is unique to the angler fish’ ” – really? ‘Cause I’ve heard stories from friends that would curl your hair (or dissolve your organs)….”
I’m thinking, is there a Barry White song which could possibly make this kind of coupling bearable? Nope; nada. Gotta be something more post-punk….
* * *
Department Of News Stories Like This Make Moiself Struggle With My Humanity… Because I Am *So* On The Side Of The First Victim
This post, earlier this week on Facebook, from an Oregon Coast news bulletin board:
HUNTER KILLED BY ELK ” (Man, name; age, residence) was archery hunting on private property…. Man wounded a 5X5 bull elk but was unable to locate it before dark. Man and the landowner attempted to find the wounded bull on the morning of (the next day) at approximately 9:15 A.M., Man located the bull and attempted to kill it with his bow. The elk charged Man and gored him in the neck with its antlers. The landowner attempted to help Man but he sustained fatal injuries and died. The elk was killed and the meat was donated to the Tillamook County Jail….”
The lead sentence (which I omitted) in the post was, “Please send prayers for the family!” Moiself’s instinctive (if admittedly unsympathetic) reaction was, “F*** no; he got what he deserved! The elk was tortured, wandering for over 12 hours with a grievous wound….”
It was nice (? perhaps moiself should seek another word) to realize, as per several comments on the article, that I was not the only heartless judgmental bastard person concerned with the issue behind the issue:
* for the elk, this was literally a matter of life and death
* for the hunter, it was sport, and maybe some tasty elk steaks for the freezer 
Along with the posts saying, “Prayers to the deceased and his family”, I spotted several comments along the lines of, “Prayers for the poor elk’s family & friends.”
Whaddya think – would I look just as majestic decapitated and mounted above someone’s fireplace?
* * *
May you enjoy the exceptions to the rules; May you cherish the simple windfalls of life, like not having an angler fish for a mate; May you never give an elk (or any other animal) cause to think, “It’s him or me!”; …and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 Nothing about the concept of white privilege claims or implies that there are no poor/struggling white folk….arrrrrrgh.
 With which I was mostly familiar, although there are several streams of Buddhist thought, and without the original post I cannot say for sure if the post-er was referencing Mahayana, Theravada, Vajrayana, or modern variants and “branches” of the those streams.
 As in, Wine and Deep Thoughts ® were involved.
 Part of our conversation included the fact that, by even acknowledging the Indian caste system, he might be creating “bad karma” for himself, as many higher-caste Indians who now live in America – and if they have the means to come here they are from the higher castes – surprise! – would rather pretend, in front of non-Indian Americans, that such a thing goes not exist. The social stratification of Indian society – including the emphasis of skin color and the bias against dark skin – is seen as an embarrassing cultural relic, yet, since it benefits them…why work to change it?
 With the emphasis on sport. Subsistence hunters don’t go for elk with bows and arrows on their landowner friend’s private acreage, and don’t care if it the animal they hunt, out of absolute necessity, is a “5×5″( a ranking system which refers to the points in each side of the antler rack).
Department Of Even Yoga Teachers Need To Be Careful What They Ask For
Backstory: A couple of months ago, when we were all new to this streaming business, my 9 am yoga class teacher held a pre-class video chat for us streamers. She told us a “yoga joke,” then said that if anyone else knew any yoga jokes, she’d love to hear them.
Dateline: Monday; circa 9:30 am; doing a vinyasa (yoga) class via streaming. The regular teacher is on vacation. As the substitute yoga teacher leads the class into Triangle Pose, my mind wanders – which *not* the point of a yoga class, I realize…
…my mind wanders to ponder the many different yoga pose names, both their English “nickname” and the Sanskrit names and translations, and as I do this, a joke begins to develop in moiself’sun-mindfulness-practicing mine. There are a few twisting yoga poses which are notorious for producing, in certain people, a certain bodily response – in fact, the Sanskrit name for one such pose translates as:
My joke is a play on the Sanskrit name for Triangle Pose, which is Trikonasa (TREE- kone-ah-sauna). I will ask my yoga teacher if there is a yoga pose known for inducing bladder leakage, and if so, would that pose be called, Trickle-asana?
My guess is that Trickleasana would look something like this
* * *
Department Of Extending The Metaphor
Yeah, hipster, since you obviously don’t care about trashing your own lungs, go right ahead and give no thought to trashing your small portion of the planet, which happens to be shared by everyone else. That’s the true American Spirit. 
* * *
Actually, not. Not something *completely* different, that is.
Instead, a smooth segue into….
Department Of Smoke Gets In Your Eyes… And Nowhere Else, If You’re Lucky.
MH and I have two fireplaces in our house. One has never been used; the other has been used once, not long after we moved in (~ 26 years ago), and never since. This is because of moiself’skilljoy spirit high livability standards.
I have been the family spoilsport when it comes to wood fires, be they fireplace fires or beach bonfires or campfires. When on vacation, burning wood is “permissible” only if necessary – e.g., if your accommodations have a wood-fire stove as the only heating source. You see, I am one of those annoyingI-can’t-pretend-to-not-know-something-once-I-know-it kinda people, and cannot justify sitting around a pollution source sans a more compelling reason than my personal entertainment.
And yes, I have fun, sitting-around-the-campfire memories from childhood. And yes, I have been pooh-poohed for my anti-wood fire attitude (“Oh, c’mon, it’s not really that bad…“). And yes, I am thanking someone else for doing the legwork on the It Really Is That Bad ® statistics I once knew but have forgotten and was too lazy to look up.
That info via Someone Else ® was provided in yesterday’s Ask Amy column, wherein Amy dealt with a woman’s am-I-right-to-be-disturbed-by-this question. This (nonsmoking) woman has been accused by her (non-smoking) husband’s “big smoker” sisters of over-reacting because of the woman’s concerns about the fact that when she and hubby go for “chats and s’mores” to the sisters’ place, the sisters toss their butts and partially smoked cigarettes into the fire pit:
“…since we don’t smell any cigarette smoke as the fire burns, (the sisters claim that) second-hand smoke isn’t an issue.
I feel this is second-hand smoke and a very real health concern.”
Amy lays it on the line (my emphases):
Cigarettes aside, the backyard fire pit itself presents risks to lung health. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (epa.gov), “In addition to particle pollution, wood smoke contains several toxic harmful air pollutants, including: benzene, formaldehyde, acrolein, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).”
Cigarette filters are made of cellulose acetate, which is a finely spun plastic (not cotton, as I had always assumed). Burning plastic sends off toxic fumes. The leftover tobacco on the spent cigarettes will also release “second-hand” smoke.
So yes – this bonfire is basically a flaming pit of toxins.
The Scoutmaster says we’re only two requirements shy of earning our Flaming Pit of Toxins merit badges!
Are you lost in the forest in the dead of winter? Ok; build a fire. You and your friends just wanna sit beside a pile of wood and watch it burn for…oh, that warm, glowy-feeling, or whatever? There are other ways to enjoy each other’s company that don’t involve needless production of toxic waste. How about playing charades, or that game where you find clever ways to trash your hypocritical friends who make you feel guilty about, say, things like polluting for your own pleasure?
Or how about this: re-purpose some old holiday lights, and if you put them on twinkly-mode you can pretend it’s flickering flames. Imagination is good for the body and spirit.
* * *
Department Of Could The Editor Have Cut The Movie To Give You All At Least Five Minutes Before Contradicting Yourselves?
Dateline: a week ago, this evening; watching The Go-Go’s documentary with MH. One of the Go-Gos was doing a voice over about the early 1980s Los Angeles punk scene (from whence the Go-Gos was spawned); specifically, about how accepting the punks were: it didn’t matter if you were gay or straight, white or black, male or female etc. you were welcomed for however you were/whatever you were.
This kumbaya declaration was made literally seconds before the band went on to recall how the other Go-Gos demanded that their new drummer, Gina Schock, an import LA from Baltimore, undergo a makeover when she arrived – they cut and dyed her frizzy blonde hair to short and dark, to be more suitable to the punk scene.
Confession: the picture of Gina’s “Baltimore” hairstyle that flashed onscreen during that recollection…it *was* really, clownishy, wretched, even by 1980’s hair standards.  Open and accepting only goes so far; I guess even punk rockers have standards.
Yep; it was worse than this.
* * *
Department Of Stopping Moiself In The Nick Of Time
Dateline: Tuesday, circa 7 am, walking north along the beach at Manzanita. There are few people on the misty beach. About 200 yards ahead of me I see three creatures walking south – a man, a woman, and their dog. The man and the woman each hold a large takeout coffee cup in their respective right hands. The dog, walking between the two, is looking up at the man. Dog pays the woman no attention; dog’s eyes stare up at the man.
As the trio gets closer I notice that the dog’s laser focus is on the man’s left arm, which the man has tightly clenched to his left side, and I get a glimpse of the halves of two brightly colored orbs the man is carrying between his upper arm and armpit/chest.
As our two groups (well, moiself is a group of one) we both do the polite, COVID-appropriate thing, moving to the side and smiling in acknowledgement and greeting. The woman says a few words to the dog, which gives no indication it has heard her – it never tears its gaze from the man and the toys he has “hidden” under his arm…and the woman sees that I have noticed this. As she gives me a “What am I – chopped liver?” look and shrug of her shoulders, I stop myself at the last minute from pointing to the dog and to the man and saying to the man,
“Oh, I get it – you’re the one with the balls!”
“In a just world, I’m the one with *all* the balls.”
* * *
Pun For The Day
I can’t believe I got fired from the calendar factory – all I did was take a day off!
* * *
May you enjoy the simple pleasure of wasting precious brain wattage on composing a bad joke about your favorite form of exercise; May you be the coveted one with the…uh…balls; May we all hope that the nostalgia for pre-pandemic times does not presage a return to 1980s hair; …and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 No no no – not *that* kind. A yogi is anyone who practices yoga.
 Can you make out the cigarette carton brand? Do ya get it, huh? Huh? Huh? Huh?
 I can provide no still picture of that hair, from the documentary – I think it would have burned the camera lens to even attempt it.
“His recent book Upheaval: Turning Points for Nations in Crisis, could hardly be more timely.
And it has a fascinating twist, seeking links between how individuals deal with crises – with insights from his clinical psychologist wife – to how nations succeed or fail when confronted with a crisis.”
That blurb is from the description of “How It Can All Fall Apart,” a recent episode of Alan Alda’s Clear and Vivid podcast. Professor, historian, and Pulitzer Prize-winning popular science author Jared Diamond (“Guns, Germs and Steel“) was Alda’s guest.
As with many podcast guests, Diamond had a new work to promote (the above-mentioned book, which just may join the ever-expanding pile of *read-this-and-you’ll-be-a-better-or-at-least-smarter-person* tomes by my nightstand). What I found most captivating about the interviews Diamond has been giving is the cautious optimism he expresses about what positive awakening may arise from the COVID-19 crisis:
…if there is a solution found, a majority of people may finally realize that *global problems require global solutions,* which could result in the setting aside of political differences and working together to find solutions to problems from which no artificial barriers of borders or international politics can shield us (read: Global Warming/Climate Change.
I wish I could believe Diamond is right. The USA should, of course, be a leader in this and other issues. Instead, it may take our country many months – how long until the election? – to be able to fully get on board in this matter. Chief Little Bunker-Bitch I mean, that festering gallstone of a human being – okay; remember, we’re going for the spirit of cooperation – our pathetic excuse of a leader… I’m sorry, world, but the truth is….
Ok. How shall moiself put this? If you know even a smidgen of #45’s personal, business and political history, you also know that the one comment any teacher would *not* write in the report card of his life is, “Plays well with others.”
* * *
Department Of Since You’ve Asked
Inquiring Minds: “What is your diagnosis of the greatest problem facing humanity?”
All-righty then, to rephrase:
“What would you say is humanity’s biggest mistake, or weakness?”
Moiself: Humanity’s *blunder grande* is our misplaced faith in certitude, vis-à-vis both our factual knowledge and our sense of ethics.
Giving the probabilistic nature of our world (including our very existence as a species), strength and resilience lies in people who are able to see and act on the grays in life, instead of labeling everything either black or white.
Fly your gray banner; keep open to the possibility that you may be wrong, but don’t let this entangle you in the morass of uncertainty that some use as an excuse for inaction (“Since we can’t know for certain then we can’t know at all”).
Wow. That’s a lot of profundity for one keyboard to spew. I need a beer.
“Don’t waste it on her; she doesn’t even drink beer.”
* * *
Department Of Terms Worth Picking A Few Nits Over
I’ve written in the past (and given our current “cancel culture”  and the unfortunate, seemingly liberal-led trend of looking under every verbal rock for aggrievements, I will likely have cause to write again) of my disdain for people who criticize/judge/assume they know the opinions of other people who don’t use the “proper” or “accepted” terms in discussing social issues.
Moiself deplores the censoring of ideas and the alienating of allies which results from when you focus on *how* someone says something, versus paying attention to *what* they are trying to say (i.e., confusing style with substance). But, language is tricky. None of us can accurately claim to be an expert of verbal and written communications, which are the conduit between our forming ideas and our expression of them.
The choices we make matter, as do our words, which both express and influence our ideas and worldviews. I try to view each case separately recently, I’ve learned of a couple of centuries-old terms which moiself thinks are very much worth changing, for the important reason of the terms’ subtexts.
Journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones won a Pulitzer Prize for creating the 1619 project at The New York Times, which tracks the legacy of slavery. In Terry Gross’s Fresh Air interview with journalist Hannah-Jones, (which I referred to in a recent blog post as influencing my opinions about reparations for slavery), TG asked Hannah-Jones about why she uses the term “enslaved person” and not “slave” in her writing (my emphases):
“It was very important in the 1619 Project and whenever I write about this, to not use language that further dehumanizes people who every system and structure was designed to dehumanize.
I think when we hear the word “slave,” we think of slavery as being the essence of that person. But if you call someone an enslaved person, then it speaks to a condition. These people were not slaves. Someone chose to force them into the condition of slavery, and that language to me is very important, as is using the word “enslaver” over slave owner because these people didn’t have a moral right to own another human being, even though the society allowed it, and I think it needs to be active, that this was an active system of people choosing to treat other human beings as property.”
I think this change in terminology is adoption-worthy and will henceforth try to consistently to use those words. If someone comments on it (“I’ve noticed you say, ‘enslaved person’ and ‘enslaver’ instead of ‘slave,’ and ‘slaveowner’ “), then there is an opportunity for dialogue.
However, I will not turn into a member of the Speech Police, and hope that other Well-Meaning People ® act accordingly. Joe Dude who seems open to the idea of reparations for enslaved persons is a potential ally; don’t turn him off if he starts to say, “I realize there is validity in reparations for descendants of slaves…” by jumping in with a correction, no matter how well-meaning: “Whoa, Joe – the proper term is, ‘enslaved persons….’ “
In these Twitter Mob Times ® it so easy to criticize *how* someone is expressing an idea that we often neglect to listen to *what* they are trying to say. When it comes to style vs. substance, go for substance. Every Time.
“There’s the guy who said ‘disabled’ instead of “person with a disability’ – let’s get ’em!”
* * *
Department Of The Things We Leave Behind For Others
One day in 1961, the famous physicist Richard Feynman stepped in front of a Caltech lecture hall and posed this question to a group of undergraduate students:
“If, in some cataclysm, all of scientific knowledge were to be destroyed, and only one sentence was passed on to the next generation of creatures, what statement would contain the most information in the fewest words?”
….we posed Feynman’s cataclysm question to some of our favorite writers, artists, historians, futurists – all kinds of great thinkers. We asked them, “What’s the one sentence you would want to pass on to the next generation that would contain the most information in the fewest words?”
One of my favorite Feynman quotes. If you want to know what his “cataclysm sentence” was, you’ll have to listen to the podcast.
I thought about that question for several weeks after hearing that podcast.The answers given, by Feynman and others, could be rephrased as, What would you leave behind for others? My cataclysm sentence, which needs some serious editing, would have something to do with embracing embrace curiosity; try to understand reality and do not be satisfied with stories that purport to assuage your fears about what you don’t know….
One day during one of my early morning walks, I put those What would you leave behind for others? thoughts on hold, and have yet to return to them. I was crossing a residential street, mulling those profound thoughts, and I noticed two brown plops, and a brownish line of…ick…stretching from the center of the street to the gutter, and then up on the sidewalk, for a total plop-streak of about 20 feet. Moiself realized it was a series of feces droppings, from a doggie which was evidently on the move.
Not wanting to fall into the trap I just wrote about – making up stories for that what you don’t understand – moiself nevertheless used my powers of deductive reasoning to come up with the most likely scenario: dogs, when they’re on their own or are being led by a human on a walk or run, stop to squat when they defecate. Why was this dog in such a hurry that it could not do so? It was either being chased by something…or being pulled by someone. I realized that the speedy early morning jogger I’d passed earlier, on that very street, her leashed dog trotting a good ten feet behind her, was the likely source.
And it made me wonder about how many of the countless dog-accompanied joggers and cyclists I’ve seen consider themselves to be responsible owners and the kind of people who always pick up after their dog… Except, when you’re moving at those speeds, essentially forcing your dog to run with you, it has to “go” on the run,  and since it is trailing behind you, you don’t see what is happening…. And you run or cycle merrily along, blissfully ignorant of the shit trail you have left behind, for others to deal with.
Book ’em, Danno.
* * *
Whaddya think, is there some kind of life metaphor in all that crap?
* * *
Pun For The Day
You shouldn’t fart in an Apple store; they don’t have Windows.
* * *
Department Of Just One More And Then I’ll Stop, I Promise
My dad burst into my room and said, “Wanna hear a joke?”
He proceeded to fart for a whole minute, then said,
“Sorry; that was a long-winded story.”
Okay; make that, just two more.
After letting out a trumpet of a fart the toddler stopped, gasped,
looked up at her mother and said, “Did you just hear that elephant?”
She’s going to be a great dad someday.
* * *
May you be mindful of what you leave behind; May you recognize and celebrate life’s gray areas; 
May you have the optimism to believe that a world which produces fart-dad joke combos
can come up with a cure for a pandemic ; …and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 For those of us who love our country and thus cannot bear to use the given name of the man who shits all over it, this is one of the milder monikers we use.
 As per dictionary.com, cancel culture refers to “…the popular practice of withdrawing support for (canceling) public figures and companies after they have done or said something considered objectionable or offensive. Cancel culture is generally discussed as being performed on social media in the form of group shaming.”
 I have seen more than one dog, running alongside its jogging/cycling owner, stop to squat and then get jerked/dragged along by its leash, while its owner kept on going.
 Except for those involving dreadful novels with “shades of” in the title.
Moiself has a hard time getting protective face mask straps – whether elastic or tie-on – around my ears (not much room behind the upper ridges of my earlobes, apparently), and then when I do, it’s not particularly comfortable. But, it’s not about my comfort, is it?
I have an even harder time understanding how, despite the entreaties from doctors and public health officials, some people refuse to wear masks because, as the maskscofflaws say, it’s a matter of “personal freedom.” In particular, I feel as if I’m falling into a Twilight Zone vortex when I read about conservative Christians who seem to be suspending their usual Jesus loves me/saves you platitudes in favor of mouthing repetitive denials of the sort which might be expected from Satan’s toddler’s temper tantrum:
It’s My Right! It’s My Right! It’s My Right! You Can’t Make Me!
Whoever was the first of the maskholes responsible for trying to link protective health measures to politics needs to be bitch-slapped back to the Middle Ages (or a present day COVID respirator ward). The fact that *any* of the anti-maskers identifies as Christian….
Folks, this is an opportunity to show selfless love, in the form of concern for and kindness toward your fellow human beings. Do y’all really think that disease and/or the actions of others are respecters of either your religion or your politics? Secondhand smoke doesn’t waft away from liberals and toward libertarians, or vice versa.
Speaking of which, here is my personal, unexpected bonus to mask wearing. Dateline: Wednesday afternoon. After grocery shopping I am walking through the store’s parking lot toward my car, the point at which, if there are no other people around, I would usually take off my mask. I hear the distinctive sound of a big ass engine behind me, and a woman (whom I recognized as having been ahead of me in the store’s checkout line) slowly drives past me, quite (read: too) closely on my right side. A cigarette dangles from her lips; the driver’s side window of her truck is rolled down and she exhales vigorously, as only a nicotine addict forced to go a whole 20 minutes without smoking can do. Many are the times I’ve been assaulted by secondhand smoke, but as her gray cloud envelopes me I realize I only get a faint whiff of it, and am grateful that I left my mask on. 
Take it away, Science Guy.
* * *
Department Of Favorite Song Lines Couplets
Moiself returned from a walk singing the following…which took a bit of explaining to MH.
♫ You’re in the corner with your boys you bet ’em five bucks You’d get the girl who just walked in but she thinks you suck… ♫
(from U and Ur Hand, singer/songwriter Pink’s deliciously sharp-tongued ode to girls who just want to have fun and the boys who think that girls’ fun has to include them. )
* * *
Department Of, Oh, That’s Kinda Sweet… But Mostly Pathetic… And You *Do* Realize It’s Too Late To Help This Poor Woman, Don’t You? Sub-department Of, I Really Need To Finish This Book And Move On.
For the past two weeks I’ve been reading Little Girl Blue: The Life of Karen Carpenter. As I near the end of the book, I find moiself cringing because I know what is going to happen: anorexia will cut short the life of a talented musician and singer who had one of the most distinctive voices of the 20th century. And I’ve noticed that the more I read of Ms. Carpenter’s refusals to eat, the more I’m rummaging through my refrigerator after dinner.
This nacho’s for you, Karen.
* * *
Department Of Missing The Mark For Good Advice
What is it about us humans, with our propensity for numbered lists?
* Buddhism has its Three Jewels, Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path;
* Christianity and Judaism have their Ten Commandments (but there are three versions of them, a fact most Christians seem to be unaware of  )
Here’s a new list moiself has been seeing recently, in various social media posts:
At first glance these so-called 7 Rules of Life could be easily accepted (or dismissed) as yet another benign (or banal, depending on your POV) list of feel good/common sense admonitions. But when I read the request – almost more of a command – at the end of the list (“TYPE YES IF YOU AGREE”), I decided to actually give each item in the list more than a cursory glance. And, then….no way.
“TYPE YES IF YOU AGREE.” Uh, if I agree with what? With discounting complexity and nuance in favor of treacly naiveté?
Not that anyone cares ,  but I cannot TYPE YES, for the following reasons for each rule:
I’d say first, try to *understand* your past, so you can understand your present and not let your past rule your future. And if some part of your past is disturbing to you, and the disturbance has to do with personal and/or institutional abuse and discrimination, depending on the situation, hell no, don’t just let it go! Don’t give a pass to people and institutions which keep abusive systems in place just because they tell you that the only way you will have peace is if you let them get away with it. That’s just another form of abuse.
This one is…sorta okay. Unless what they think of you is shaped by their bigotry and stereotypes – then, it is *very much* your business, because they are going to treat you (and others they deem like you) accordingly, and if they have personal/political/financial power, this could mean a whole lotta trouble for you.
This one reeks of shallow, First World Privilege and, “If-you-can-visualize-it-you-can-act-it” victim-blaming mentality. Yeah, by all means, please tell the continually unhappy woman in the refugee camp, who risks being gang-raped by guards on her way to fetch water or use the toilet facilities, that she is in charge of her happiness.
This one mostly gets a pass…with, of course, exceptions: Do compare *certain* areas of your life to others, to help both you and your colleagues. If your coworker who does the same job as you and has your same credentials/seniority/work performance reviews, but his salary is higher than yours and the only difference is your gender/skin color, you owe it to yourself and others to compare…and challenge, if necessary.
Mostly. Give many things time…but again, don’t apply this across the board. That festering sore on your bum which is starting to smell like last year’s ham – time is noton your side, dude – get yourself to the ER, pronto. And remember, those in power use the “Be patient; it’ll take time; nothing changes overnight…” admonitions to placate (read: stall and prevent) the less powerful from gaining access to human rights. American slaveholders kept those they enslaved from rising up against them by stripping enslaved people of their own spiritual beliefs and teaching them Christianity, with the assurance that, if the enslaved persons were docile and obedient (as the scriptures say) and would bide their time, their woes would be healed in paradise.
These two sentences are incongruous. Of course it’s alright not to know all the answers. However, always be suspicious of someone who tells you to stop thinking – either “so much,” or in any amount.
Excuse me and fuck you very much ? No one fully knows what problems another person holds. And, never patronize anyone – especially a woman – by telling them to smile. If someone is not smiling and you tell them to smile, it is *always* patronizing. People are perfectly capable of smiling when they have a reason to.
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Department Of Getting All Philosophical Before Breakfast
Dateline: Tuesday morning, the site of Mount Neahkahnie is in my eyes and the sound of a science podcast comes through my earbuds as I walk north along the beach. I am reflecting on a subject I’ve had cause to ponder two days in a row, thanks to snippets of an overheard conversation, and now this podcast.
I assume moiself has addressed this issue previously, in this space, and surely will have the occasion to do so again. 
One of the more common, (and often patronizing) questions that religious believers ask of those of us who are religious-free seems to follow a certain script. First, there will be a statement of what they think we believe, followed by the question:
* Oh, so you think there is no god, which means that we are just particles of atoms in the cosmos, which means we have no significance and there is no meaning to life. If you don’t believe in (a) god, what is the meaning of life?
“Seriously? How many hours do you have?” is moiself’s (so far, successfully restrained) fantasy, kneejerk response to a person who poses this question.
1: to honor or show reverence for as a divine being or supernatural power 2: to regard with great or extravagant respect, honor, or devotion (“a celebrity worshiped by her fans”)
intransitive verb : to perform or take part in worship or an act of worship
Definition of worship (Entry 2 of 2) noun
1: reverence offered a divine being or supernatural power
also : an act of expressing such reverence
2: a form of religious practice with its creed and ritual
3: extravagant respect or admiration for or devotion to an object of esteem
(“worship of the dollar”)
It’s funny, that those who pose the if-you-don’t-believe-in-a-god/meaning-of-life question never seem to turn it on themselves. And when moiself has been so queried, the query-poser has never stuck to the subject long enough for me to ask in return,
“What does worshiping a deity – which you believe is all-powerful and has created you, correct? – what purpose and meaning does that give to *your* life…other than being part of the hive for the cosmic being who created your ant farm for its own amusement? And why does “worshiping” that deity seem to be a worthy task for you – what reasoning allows you to give your devotion to any entity so narcissistic as to demand it?”
Certainly on a cosmic scale, humans have little significance. This realization should be humbling, but not humiliating. Considering how over the millennia religious believers have done so much damage to the planet and their fellow human beings under the excuses of divine mandate and of humans being the crown of creation, I think a little humility in this matter would benefit us all.
But just because there is no singular or ultimate meaning in life doesn’t mean that life is meaningless. Perhaps none of us have cosmic significance, but each of us has great individual, personal significance. And the purpose of Life, capitalized or not, is the purpose that we give it.
There are so many varied and rich meanings to existence (other than being minions in some deity’s humanoid experiment). Here’s a general answer, variations of which I hold moiself, and have heard from others who identify as Agnostics, Atheists, Humanists, Brights, Freethinkers, Happy Heathens, et al, be they physicists or pharmacists or photographers or physical therapists or Phillies fans….
Life itself is the meaning of life.
Quite profound, for a human.
We determine the meaning of our lives. Yours might primarily revolve around the scientific search for the origins and composition of the rings of Saturn, and hers might center upon artistic expression via musical theater,  and his might be his family and the joys and challenges of raising kind and inquisitive children. We are responsible for setting our goals and for pursuing that which may bring us and others well-being and happiness. It is our privilege, our right and our responsibility, to create meaning.
These heartfelt, wise reflections are from a woman who, suddenly and unexpectedly, lost her beloved husband to a previously unknown medical condition:
I find meaning in everyday things, and I choose to carry on.
The sun comes up and I have a chance to be kind to anyone who crosses my path because I can. I make that choice for myself and nobody has to tell me to do it. I am right with myself. I try my best to do my best, and if I fail, I try again tomorrow. I support myself in my own journey through life. I draw my own conclusions.
I find joy in the people I love. I love, and I am loved. I find peace in the places I visit; I cry when I listen to music I love, and find almost childlike joy in many things. This world is brilliant and full of fascinating things.
I have to think carefully for myself. I don’t have to believe what I’m told. I must ask questions and I try and use logic and reason to answer them…. I struggle with how difficult the world can be, but when we have free will, some people will make terrible decisions. No deity forces their hand, and they must live with that.
Grieving is never an easy road to travel….I try to be loving and caring with my family and friends, and have fun. I will cry with friends in distress and hear other people’s stories and be kind because it does me good as well. I listen and I learn. It helps me to be better. Life without (a god) is not a life without meaning. Everything, each and every interaction, is full of meaning. Everything matters.
Sometimes, the most soothing “meaning of life” is the ability to appreciate pictures of baby sloths.
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Pun For The Day
I must apollogize for making puns about Greek gods.
I’ve heard worse, and so shall you – pull my finger, you measly mortal!
* * *
May you enjoy the challenge of finding your own meaning; May you remember that everything matters; May you just STFU and put on your mask – and remember, you still have the freedom to sing while doing so;
…and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 I sense a disturbance in the force…a feeling of…disappointment? Some of y’all were expecting a fart story, right?
 Version 1 is from Deuteronomy 5:6-21; Version 2, which is similar to Version 1, is found in Exodus 20:1-17. Version 3, found in Exodus 34, – is riotously different from the first two versions, although the writing claims it is the LORD speaking. Hmmm, guess he’d forgotten what he’s said the first two times? Also, although this list is *never* quoted when religious leaders and politicians talk of the Ten Commandments, this is the only version referred to in scripture as the “ten commandments.”
Here’s the description of the activity, from the brilliant  industrial engineer living in San Francisco who started it.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, I started going on near-daily walks to help combat the monotony of being cooped up indoors all day. To spice things up a bit, I decided to plan my walking routes such that the paths I took formed letters and words. I call this activity SpellWalking. I live in San Francisco, a city favorable to SpellWalking due to the multiple intersecting gridiron street patterns to choose from.
( From the SpellWalking website Yes, it has I website; it’s a *thing,* y’all)
Check out the grid patterns – they are delightful, and mostly feature San Francisco neighborhood names.
Moiself’sfavorite (so far), due to its proximity to greenspaces, is the Haight.
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Department Of Say What? Sub-Department Of What Is The Emoji For Your Ears Doing A Double Take? Division Of Unfortunate Government Employee Names
Dateline: Tuesday; circa 11 am; listening to the car radio while running an errand. I tuned into the Oregon Public Broadcasting channel, to the end of a story announcing the appointment of the man who will be Oregon State University’s 15th president. Current OSU president Ed Ray will step down, to be replaced by F. King Alexander.
Yep, that’s what I heard – followed by those voices coming from the radio in my own mind, speculating about what form the complaints he (the new OSU president) will receive from those who are unhappy with his leadership:
“That F** King Alexander….”
* * *
Department Of Speaking Of How My Brain Works…
I have layperson’s/”hobby” interest in neurology and neuropsychology – in how (scientists think) the brain works. In my If-I-Had-To-Do-It-All-Over-Again ® mode, I might have pursued neuroscience and/or cognitive psychology-related fields, instead of following the highly lucrative and emotionally satisfying and rewarding batshit crazy “creative” path.
But I have this one problem  when it comes to reading articles about neuroscience and behavior and basic cognition. Whenever I read about a certain part of the brain, a part located deep in the temporal lobe and most strongly associated with memory, ’tis difficult for me to get past the name of said brain region. I’ve learned that moiselfcannot take whatever I am reading seriously until I deal with an image that always – as in, everyF. King Alexander time – comes to mind.
Here’s what happens: I picture a college campus setting – a university whose student body is comprised solely of herbivorous, semiaquatic ungulate mammals native to sub-Saharan Africa. And I face that image, appreciate it, and set it aside…until I come to the part in the article which says, in essence, “Let’s explore what we know about the hippocampus…” and I am immediately transported back to that same setting, with moiselfbeing led on a campus tour by a student guide…
“And over on the left is our renowned fine arts center….”
One might think that, with the interest in/reading about this neuro-stuff (excuse the fancy-pants, science jargon) I claim to do, moiselfmight have figured out why my brain does this. Nah; not gonna go there. I suppose I enjoy it enough that the why doesn’t matter. It’s not something I would want to “fix.”
Fraternity rush season at the Hippocampus is intense.
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Department Of Not All Of The Oldies Are Goodies
Dateline: same as my first lame story highly entertaining anecdote. I switched my car’s radio from the OPB channel to KQRZ, a local station which plays music from the past (aka “oldies”), and I heard a song moiselfhadn’t thought about in years.
Wildfire was popular when I was a certain age. The song had always seemed melodically anemic to me, and I’d never paid much attention to it when it somehow got regular airplay. This time I decided to actually listen to the lyrics, and….wow.
“Is that a good wow, or a bad wow?”
Wowas in, this dull ditty was a hit song?
The song’s narrator tells the brief tale of a young woman who supposedly died during a blizzard while searching for her escaped pony, “Wildfire.” The song’s narrator is in his cabin or somewhere – we don’t really know – in an early winter storm; an owl has perched outside of his window, which he takes as a sign that Ghostly Dead Girl is calling for him to join her and spend eternity riding her stupid horse lacking the horse sense to NOT run off into a blizzard pony with her.
Wowas in, there’s not much to the story, is there? It’s too insipid to be tragic.
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Department Of An Oldie Who Was One Of The Best Of The Goodies
“Mel comes over most every night. We’ll have dinner and watch “Jeopardy!” and “Wheel of Fortune.” After dinner, we’ll watch a movie, if anything good is playing that night. We once said, “Any movie that has the line, ‘Secure the perimeter,’ you know it’s good.” (” Carl Reiner: Why Van Dyke is the best, Trump the worst and Mel Brooks is a savvy movie critic. ” USA Today, 5-1-19 )
Who is left among that generation of influential entertainers? Mel Brooks; Betty White; Norman Lear; Dick Van Dyke?
Reiner leaves behind an impressive body of work and a loving family, but here’s what makes me “grieve” the most, when I think about it: now that Carl Reiner is gone, who will Mel Brooks have dinner with?
My favorite Carl Reiner-directed movie is “All of Me,” which features wonderful work by actors Lily Tomlin and Steve Martin. Frail, condescending, wealthy socialite Edwina Cutwater (Lily Tomlin) engages the help of a guru to “transmigrate” her soul upon her death to the body of a healthy young woman. Edwina enlists lawyer Roger Cobb (Steve Martin) to change her will to leave her entire estate to the young woman. Edwina dies within minutes of signing the updated will, but via an ill-timed accident she ends up inhabiting Roger’s body, sharing it with him and controlling his body’s right side. Edwina and Roger are forced to work together to find a way to get her soul out his body, as well as to navigate mundane but essential tasks, as in this scene below, when Roger desperately needs to use the bathroom.
Enjoy…better yet, watch the entire movie, which is surprisingly sweet and sentimental despite its I-am-SO-sure premise.
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Department Of Even Harder To Comprehend Than Cosmic String Theory Is The “Success” Of Certain Attention Whores Celebrities
Carl Reiner, he of the multiple “slash” talents (comedian slash actor slash writer slash director slash producer….), was more than deserving of the fame and acclaim – and arguably, most importantly, the respect – which he received over a lifetime (his career spanned seventy-three years!), from both his audience and his show business peers.
And then, we have…oh, shit. I have to type this surname, don’t I, if I’m going to pursue this bizarre reflection? Let’s just say the name rhymes with lard-ashian.
“For F. King Alexander’s sake, just type, ‘Kardashian,’ you big baby.”
Moiself has never seen the Kardashian show. Of course, living in the culture, doing crossword puzzles, standing in line at the grocery store where there’s nothing to look at but the tabloid headlines or the ill-fitting clothing of the guy in front of me and I need to avert my eyes sideways lest they be further assaulted by the worst case of plumber’s crack I’ve ever seen…I can’t really avoid having a rudimentary knowledge of their existence.
And rudimentary will do, because there’s not much to know. They are famous, for…for what? For wanting to be famous.
Maybe there’s more to the show than that. Yeah…and maybe Chief Little Bunker-Bitch will join the Black Lives Matter movement and lead protesters in replacing statues of Robert E. Lee with gold-plated vaults containing the entire Spike Lee filmography.
I feel fully comfortable in judging this Show-That-I-Have-Not-Seen, and here is why. The Kardashians actively and openly seek celebrity, and in my opinion and that of many others who are Smarter And More Educated Than Moiself, ® that in and of itself is the sign of an unbalanced personality and bloated ego.
Kardashians and those like them pursue fame, as opposed to merely tolerating (or even grudgingly accepting) celebrity status as a by-product of something they’ve done, which is the “normal” or usual way fame attaches itself to a person.
Despite my being someone friends and family would describe as being outgoing or extroverted, fame or celebrity – being recognized by strangers – is something I have studiously avoided all my life (my former editors, pushing for me to do more publicity, might snarkily add that avoiding fame was the one aspect of my fiction writing career at which I excelled ). Thus, I am somewhat bemused and mostly appalled by those who actively seek to be in the proverbial glare of the spotlight.
Fame or celebrity comes to you, in most cases, if you do something notable and/or something which brings you to the public’s attention (e.g. in the performing arts). Not to be confused with the infamy accorded a mass murderer, you may become famous if, for example, you’ve acted in acclaimed movies. Yet, even then, the amount of fame coming your way cannot be determined by a cut and dried formula. It’s interesting to consider the variables, some having to do with the life a celeb leads, whether they actively sought the limelight outside of their professional lives or desperately tried to avoid it (and thus got more attention for that avoidance), and other factors seemingly random. Why did the paparazzi ignore a young(er) Sally Field, but pursue Angelina Jolie? (That answer seems obvious on the surface, but maybe Ms. Field had some really juicy hidden details of her life that a dedicated celebrity snoop could have unearthed). Why have talented, award-winning actors Meryl Streep and Frances McDormand not been subjected to the kind of tabloid attention that talented, award-winning actors Julia Roberts and Jennifer Lawrence received?
However those actors may have played on it or downplayed it, their respective fame is due to actions or accomplishments on their part. Their celebrity is a consequence, not an predecessor, of their careers.
And then you have the reality TV stars – yep, I picked the low hanging fruit that is the Kardashian family – who want celebrity (but will settle for notoriety) first, before they’ve done anything to “merit” it. It’s back-asswards: once they have fame…for seeking fame…in order to keep their fame they need to figure out how to do something attention-worthy other than to be seeking attention. The LOOK AT ME! LOOK AT ME! stage they should’ve outgrown by age eight becomes a thing in itself. You get fame and celebrity for wanting fame and celebrity, and in order to keep up the public’s interest in your fame and celebrity you must continually pursue it in extreme and tasteless ways.
But thanks to the advent of Reality TV, which has brought us our first Reality TV president, the whole concept of tasteful may have gone out the window…
* * *
Department Of See This Movie, Right Now
Unless you’re on your way to the COVID ward of the hospital.
Otherwise, at one point in your life you’ve either been a frightened yet determined 17-year-old, or you’ve known one or (hopefully) have been a compassionate and loyal friend to one, as this movie so matter-of-factly and movingly depicts.
I just found out that I’m color blind – the news came completely out of the green.
* * *
May you enjoy your own variation of a classic curse phrase ( F. King Alexander! ); May you think twice before approaching a “famous” person when they are not in the process of actively seeking fame; May your sense of propriety pass The Tasteful Lady‘s scrutiny; …and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 Partial disclosure – can you ever make a *full* disclosure? – he’s my nephew.
 Yes, those who know me well might interject here that moiself has a lot more than just one problem… but how’s about if y’all control your intrusive thoughts on the matter and we can get back to the subject?
Active, reliable, sarcastic, affectionate, bipedal, cynical optimist, writer, freethinker, parent, spouse and friend, I am generous with my handy supply of ADA-approved spearmint gum and sometimes refrain from humming in public.