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The Speech I’m Not Policing

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Department Of The Optimism I Wish I Held

“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 [1] 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.”

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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.   [2] 

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”   [3]  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!”

 

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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?”

(Radiolab, The Cataclysm Sentence,)

 

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,  [4]  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;  [5]

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!

*   *   *

 

[1] 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.

[2] Aka, “right” and “wrong.”

[3]  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.”

[4] 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.

[5] Except for those involving dreadful novels with “shades of” in the title.

The Reality Show I’m Not Watching

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Department Of Peculiar State Mottos

 

 

I love my state, despite its having these three flaws:

(1) the 46th ugliest  [1]  state flag in the USA (it violates at least one of the Five Basic Principles of Flag Design, as per the North American Vexillological Association,  [2]

(2) as well as one of the more perplexing state mottos.

(3) There is no third flaw.

Who was the person who first decreed, “States must have slogans – oh, wait, let’s call them, ‘mottoes!’ ” ? Who convinced others in the government that, with all the to-dos which come with qualifying for statehood,  motto-composing is a good use of time?  That person is lost to history.

Moiself  (motto: “It’s my blog, so there.”) decrees that there are four states vying for Worst State Motto award.  Besides Oregon, they are:

* Connecticut (“He who transplanted sustains.”)

Oh, yeah. That goes without saying.

* New Mexico (“It grows as it goes.”)

Imagine what the NM motto committee was smoking when they thought up that one.

* Maryland (“Manly deeds, womanly words.”)

 

 

Oregon’s state motto is in Latin, because the same doofus who sent out the, “Every state must have a motto” memo also apparently added, “…and if you can’t think of anything profound or at least plausible to say, say it in Latin.”

Thus, Oregon’s motto: Alis volat propriis. Which translates as…

She flies with her own wings.

 

 

Many Oregonians do not know what our state’s motto is. And when they find out, their reaction is not what moiself  imagines was the goal of the motto committee:

WTF does that even MEAN ?!?!?

The general consensus of historians and People Who Try To Care About Such Things ® is that the motto is meant to convey a sense of Oregon’s “tradition of independence and innovation” (e.g., the nation’s first bottle bill, the public beach access bill).  [3]  So yeah; there’s that. But, couldn’t it have been phrased in a more accessible way (“Oregon: pick up your trash and get off our lawn beach.“)?

On the other hand, it could be seen as reassuring to residents of other states: if you meet an Oregonian and she looks like she’s about to takeoff, don’t worry – she has too much pride and self-reliance to steal *your * wings.  So sit back, relax, and enjoy the air show.

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Best Song Couplets, V. 2

♫  The weeks went by and spring turned to summer and summer faded into fall/
And it turns out he was a missing person who nobody missed at all.  ♫

( from “Goodbye Earl,” the [band formerly known as the] Dixie Chick’s
ode to taking revenge on an abusive husband )

 

 

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Department Of Seriously, You Need A List For This?

On Monday, an ad with this headline appeared on my FB feed:

“Five Tips For Wearing Less Makeup.”

The ad’s headline accompanied a picture of an attractive Woman Of A Certain Age ®, which made me think the ad’s content could be along the lines of the standard advice that women who wear makeup should tone it down as they age…or perhaps the ad was related to the COVID shelter-in era, with people not wanting to deal with their usual routines?

I didn’t click on the ad, but instead of just scrolling by, I stared at the inane headline which had caught my eye, and repeated to moiself   the Five Tips For Wearing Less Makeup I would give, gratis, to anyone who asked:

1. Wear less makeup. 2. Wear less makeup. 3. Wear less makeup.
4. Wear less makeup.
5. Set your smartphone’s alarm reminder: Wear less makeup.

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Department Of, Once Again, Reality Outdoes Fiction

You cannot make up a line this…rich.

Context:  MH and I, watching a Netflix show, Indian Matchmaking:

“Matchmaker Sima Taparia guides clients in the U.S. and India in the arranged marriage process, offering an inside look at the custom in a modern era.”

I thought at first the show was fiction, then, a documentary, then, after two episodes, I said to MH, “This is a reality show, right?”  (Translation: “We can’t watch it anymore. We don’t watch Those Kind of Shows. ® “)

The line in question came from an Indian-American woman, who spoke with snort-worthy distain about rejecting a man who wasn’t as travel-knowledgeable as she:

“He didn’t know that Bolivia had salt flats.”

 

 

 

That particular woman was one of the matchmaker’s clients featured in the two episodes we watched. She was in her mid-30s, a lawyer, very busy, a world traveler when not working.  Once she’d agreed to matchmaking services ( via evident pressure from her mother and sister ) she began noticing how her married female friends actually spent a significant amount of time with their husbands – an idea which seemed to disgust her. And she found excuse after excuse to object to any matches the matchmaker suggested.

Her predicament led to this tender exchange between me and my life match:

Moiself: “Why is she doing this?  She so obviously doesn’t want to be married.”

MH: “She doesn’t need a husband, she just needs a vibrator.”

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of The Convoluted Path Of Memories

Dateline: last Saturday.  I posted on Facebook a list my Swenadian   [4]  friend had sent me: five anecdotes with the theme of memorable, embarrassing misstatements. I actually remember reading (in a newspaper) about the fifth one:

What happens when you predict snow but don’t get any? We had a female news anchor, the day after it was supposed to have snowed and didn’t, who turned to the weatherman and asked,
“So, Bob, where’s that 8 inches you promised me last night?”

 

 

One of the main reasons I tell my stories or share the stories of others is because of what I call the 99% reaction motivation: ala the *I’ll-show-you-mine-if-you-show-me-yours* approach to life, sharing a story almost always prompts others to share their similar stories. Whether it’s an anecdote of a major parental fail I pulled, or imparting someone else’s  *yes-she-really-said-to-the-handsome-golf-pro-that-she-liked-playing-with-men’s-balls* tale, I know that I will soon hear from a buddy about her worst mothering incident (which makes me feel better about mine), or a face-palming moment of their own which will make me laugh harder than the original story.

It’s what I live for.   [5]

Given the number of writers and reporters I know, I was certain that the last of the Five Embarrassing Misstatements stories would generate   [6]  a story in response.  What with newspaper editors asking for copy in terms of inches of print space (“I need six inches for the op-ed….”) I knew my journalism buddies would have similar stories. Sure enough, SDH, a comrade since our junior high school days, posted a doozy.

The next morning at breakfast, MH mentioned SDH’s story, which sent me on a memory flashback. I think about my high school journalism friends often – even posted about them six years ago. Since it’s summertime, I’ll indulge moiself  with a bit of a rerun:

(5-16-2014, excerpts from The Tattoo I’m Not Explaining )

I am currently reading Weedland by Peter HechtSubtitled Inside America’s Marijuana Epicenter and How Pot Went Legit, the book, as per one blurb, is “essential reading for anyone who is a fan of California’s most lucrative agricultural product.”  Which, I am not.  However, I am a fan of Peter Hecht.

I’ve known (and admired and adored) Pete since junior high school.  He was one of my buddies from a group of friends and acquaintances I still think of as the high school journalism gang.

The Write Stuff

Neither K nor Belle have ever brought home (nor even mentioned, sans my prompting) their high school’s newspaper. They both know I’d written for my school paper.   [7]  They know it was a “real” newspaper, with separate pages (and editors and reporters) devoted to news stories, editorial/opinion pieces, entertainment/feature and sports writing. They know that when The Generator, Santa Ana High School’s award-winning biweekly newspaper, was distributed in the school’s classrooms, the teachers and students stopped what they were doing and read it, cover to cover.  They know that students’ parents also read the high school newspaper, and that The Generator ran stories with enough substance to garner parental interest… and complaints.

(“I can’t believe what your reporter/ smart aleck columnist ____ wrote about! That’s no subject fit for a high school newspaper!”)   [8]

 

 

They know all of this because of the stories I’d told them.  And they could not bear to disappoint me when it came to their own school’s pitiful excuse for fishwrap newspaper.

Son K, ever the diplomat, laid it out for me after my third or fourth Why-don’t-you-ever-bring-your-school-newspaper-home? whine petition.

“Mom, our school’s newspaper sucks.
It’s embarrassing…nothing in it but rah-rah stories…
No one reads it and no one cares.”

Think back to your high school history, chemistry, English, or PE classes:  how many of those classmates went on to become historians or chemists or English teachers or pro athletes?  It still amazes me to think of how many of my peers who wrote for The Generator went on to pursue careers in journalism in one form or another. Along with Peter Hecht, there are:

* Scott Harris, former Los Angeles Times and San Jose Mercury reporter/columnist, Scott is currently one of “The Expat Files” contributors, living in/freelancing from Hanoi;

* Janis Carr, longtime Orange County Register sportswriter;

* Tim Ferguson, – Wall St. Journal reporter and current Forbes editor;

* Victor Cota, reporter for the Orange County Register 

* Phil Blauer, So-Cal area news anchor;

* Deborah Franklin, “my” editor,  [9]  whom I greatly admire for finding a way to combine her two loves, science and journalism.  Instead of (as the dubious voices advised) dumping one to concentrate on the other, Franklin became a science and medical reporter. Her works appear in a variety of venues, from VIA to NPR to Scientific American.

…and oodles of others I’m probably forgetting.  [10]

 

Three of those previously mentioned: Back row: the striped shirt and boyish-grin belong to Tim Ferguson; front row: L, Pete get-a-load-of-that-1974-hair Hecht; R Scott Harris, who was engaged in a campaign to get me to leave student government (“The BOC”) and join The Generator staff, which almost excuses his scribbled commentary;
second from R, Janis Carr.

 

Back to the breakfast table of the present: After MH told me about reading SDH’s story, I told him how delighted I was that SDH had shared it, then repeated two observations I’d made many a time: (1) I am amazed at how so many of my high school peers went on to have long careers in “actual” journalism, and, (2) of all the different sub-groups I was involved with in high school – the “gifted’ academic program; athletics; student government; the school newspaper – it is the journalism group I think of most frequently, and most fondly.

I got a good-natured, well-of-course-and-duh-you-are-all-writers reaction from MH the first time I told him that.  This time, his expression was open and interested, beyond mere tolerance mode to an actual, tell-me-more-of-what-you-mean way.

 

Yes, almost exactly like this.

 

And so, I did.

What was so great about that group was that, although they were all different, unique students, definitely not cut from the same “cloth,” politically or personally or socially or emotionally, they were all really…. *smart.*

They were intelligent, if not necessarily in the academically-gifted-program way (most of them were not enrolled in our school’s ‘s gifted program)…but it was more than that.  They were informed and inquisitive; they were both interesting, and interested – attentive to people and events and ideas outside of themselves…which was a refreshing change from the ubiquitous high school, *it’s-all-about-me* mentality.  Even those who “just” reported on sports (sorry, guys) were also conversant on politics and culture – they had a wide variety of interests, beyond their personal (and later, professional) specializations.

And they were, almost without exception, *wicked* funny.

 

 

Trading barbs, making wittily snarky observations of our fellow students – you had to have a thick hide to survive that group, and be able to take it as well as dish it out.  We were fast on the draw, quick to mine any seemingly innocent comment for innuendo potential.  Speaking of which, how convenient of moiself  to provide a segue to this apropos example:  One afternoon during my senior year, I was in our newspaper’s office, shooting the breeze with one of our newspaper’s reporter’s as he had a late lunch. He told me that someone had asked him for a clarification for the usage of the word, * innuendo,* then spat out part of his sandwich when I told him that “innuendo” was Italian for “anal sex.”

*   *   *

Department Of, It’s Her, Again? But She Won Last Month….

 

*   *   *

Pun For The Day

When you get a bladder infection you know urine trouble.

 

 

*   *   *

May you visit Oregon, but remember to bring your own wings;
May you have fond memories of at least one of your high school “groups;”
May you never reject a potential romantic partner because they
don’t know obscure geographic facts about Bolivia;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

*   *   *

[1] Beating it in ugliness are the state flags of Hawaii (A union jack? Seriously? With all the gorgeous Hawaiian colors to choose from, you steal from the Brits?) and the flags of Georgia and Mississippi, which incorporate part of the Confederate flag, tackily celebrating one of the ugliest chapters in American History.

[2] Vexillology is the study of flag history and symbolism.   Yes, Virginia, there’s an organization for everything.

[3] Oregon was the first state to enact a container-deposit bill (1971);  Oregon’s landmark beach bill  (1967) declares that all “wet sand” within sixteen vertical feet of the low tide line belongs to the state of Oregon, and recognizes public easements of all beach areas up to the line of vegetation, regardless of underlying property rights, so that the public has “free and uninterrupted use of the beaches,” and property owners are required to seek state permits for building and other uses of the ocean shore.   Wikipedia, Oregon Beach Bill

[4] A Canadian married to a Swede.

[5] Well, that and Grey’s Anatomy reruns. And world peace.

[6] Only a select few of my readers will get that reference: My high school’s student newspaper, where I met most of these fine folk,s was named The Generator.

[7] Primarily Parnal Knowledge, my regular op-ed column, plus miscellaneous reporting, ranging from “hard” news to satire to cultural reviews to sports.

[8] The Generator’s faculty advisor (English teacher Ted Clucas), was never happier than when he’d received a parental complaint.  “It proves they’re paying attention – you made somebody think about something!”

[9] Franklin, The Generator’s Editor-in Chief my senior year, displayed support and discretion above and beyond the call of journalistic duty by allowing me free (mostly) range in writing my op-ed column, Parnal Knowledge.

[10] I have not updated this list; some of the members have retired/moved on. One of the “oodles” I forgot to mention was the venerable Peter Schmuck (all together now: yep, that’s his real name), who recently retired from over 30 years of sports reporting for The Baltimore Sun.

The “Yes” I’m Not Typing

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Department Of Things I Can’t Wrap My Brain Around

 

 

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….

Hmmm, what PPE would Jesus refuse to don? 

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.   [1]

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. )

 

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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.

 

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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   [2] )

* Islam has its 99 Names of God

* several quasi-religious addiction programs claim there are 12 Steps to recovery;

* self-help books tell us about The 5 Second Rule to Transform your Life, Work, and Confidence with Everyday Courage, and the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, and Ten Principles for Nourishing a Healthy Relationship With Food, and 101 Questions You Need to Ask In Your Twenties and 1000 Places You Need To See Before You Die….

* and of course, as per Paul Simon, there are 50 Ways To Leave Your Lover

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 ,   [3]   but I cannot TYPE YES, for the following reasons for each rule:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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 not on 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.

 

 

*   *   *

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.   [4]

 

 

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.

 

Worship
Definition of worship (Entry 1 of 2)    [5]

transitive verb

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,  [6]   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.

(From Buzzfeed article, interviews w/atheists re meaning of life)

 

 

Sometimes, the most soothing “meaning of life” is the ability to appreciate pictures of baby sloths.

 

*   *   *

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!

 

*   *   *

[1] I sense a disturbance in the force…a feeling of…disappointment?  Some of y’all were expecting a fart story, right?

[2]  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.”

[3] Which could be the subtitle of this blog.

[4] Both because it bears repeating, and because we who are religion-free are repeatedly asked this.

[5] Merriam Webster.

[6] And if so, can we get you to do something to ensure that there is never another adaptation of “Cats” to the silver screen?

The Mind I’m Not Changing

4 Comments

Department Of This Is So Wrong

Dateline: last week; a cloudy day; before 7 am. As with many of my morning walks I am headed in the direction of a light rail stop. As I circle the automobile roundabout I realize that moiself usually follows the sidewalk and/or another path skirting Veterans Gateway, a relatively recently constructed memorial garden “to commemorate veterans of all wars who honorably served our country.”   [1]

Moiself  turns around and decides to go through the Veterans Gateway. I see a small circular garden surrounding a brick patio, with a path which leads to seven larger paving stones set within the brick walkway.  Each stone is engraved with the name of an “American” war, and the dates of the war’s beginning and end:

* American Revolution
April 19, 1775 To September 3, 1783

* Civil War
April 12, 1861 To May 9, 1865

* World War I
April 6, 1917 To November 11, 1918

Excusez moi, but what’s with wars commencing in April?  The only thing I can think of is that our olden day wars took place before everyone had central heating; perhaps it was just too damn cold to think about bashing your enemies’ and/or neighbors’ heads until the spring thaw began….

 

 

Once again, I digress.  There are four more war-stones ahead of me.

* World War II
December 7, 1941 to September 2, 1945

* Korean War
June 27, 1950 to July 27, 1953

* Vietnam War
August 5, 1964 to May 15, 1975

And then there is the last, WTF?!?!? stone, which wrenches my heart as I note the incomplete inscription:

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Can We At Least Talk About It?

In the past few weeks I’ve seen several shares of this optimistic, motivational-type poster on Facebook. Confession: I both embraced (“Yes! We’ll change the discourse…!”) and snickered at it (“Like that will happen – wingnuts deny evidence or ignore it when it doesn’t fit into their narrative….” ) when I first saw it.

Learning new facts; reconsidering our positions; changing our minds.  How often do I and other Well-Meaning People ® think that this applies to others, and not to ourselves?

 

 

Mere days after first seeing the Important Phrases poster, I listened to a Fresh Air podcast of Terry Gross interviewing Nikole Hannah-Jones.  Journalist Hannah-Jones won a Pulitzer Prize for creating the 1619 project. The topic of the interview was, A Call For Reparations: How America Might Narrow The Racial Wealth Gap.

And I changed my mind.

I was unreservedly in favor of reparations for Japanese Americans interred during WWII   [2]  because the compensation occurred within the same generation of those who were racially profiled and unlawfully incarcerated: the government had records of exactly who was in the camp, whose farmlands were confiscated, etc.

But I was not exactly in favor of slavery reparations (which henceforth I shall refer to as simply, reparations).  My mind was not made up and my opposition was not strongly held; I was never a hard no;  rather, in many aspects I was a mealy-mouthed (mealy-minded?) “Gee…I wish.” My opinions were more like, sure-this-is-the-right-thing-to-do-but-it-will-*never*-work reservations, due to what I saw as the complex logistical administration of such reparations, the subsets of which include:

* What is the ultimate “aim” – what will reparations achieve?

* Who pays for it? And who doesn’t pay for it? If the funds/assets come from “The Federal Government,” that translates as taxpayer dollars.  This being a nation of immigrants, a good portion of our citizenry’s antecedents arrived well after the days of slavery, Jim Crow, and even after the Civil Rights Act of 1960.  My sister-in-law immigrated from China in 2003.  Should any part of “her” money be used to atone for the actions of ancestors who were not hers?

* What exactly is the “payout” – what form will reparations take?  Cash? Land? Business and educational grants? Some combination of all three?

* Who will receive reparations, and how? How will reparations recipients be determined? Not all Black Americans are descended from enslaved persons.  What about recent immigrants from Africa? Do people with a “mixed” ethnic background qualify? What if your father’s father is a descendant of slavery and his mother was a Nigerian immigrant, and your mother is Irish-Italian – do you get 50% or 25% reparations? How can this be determined other than genetic tests for all…and then what if some weaselly white guy claims he’s owed a 15% reparation share because of what his DNA test shows – does he “qualify,” and if not, will/can he sue the government for discrimination?

* Will the costs of administering the reparations (including genetic testing – I just don’t see how you could determine recipients without it, and imagine the costs of testing millions of people, and then retesting when the results are disputed) come from the same funds as the reparations themselves…and then what other government programs will be cut as a result?  Social Services? Efforts to combat global warming? Funds for education…medical and scientific research….?

 

 

These concerns with the logistics are neither new nor original, and the rare times I mouthed them   [3]   I did so without much conviction, other than to be “realistic.”  I was primarily against reparations because of… other people. You know, the Other People ® who would be resistant, to put it mildly, to the concept.

Slavery reparations may be the single most divisive idea in American politics. Advocates have spent decades calling on the U.S. government to assess how such a policy could be implemented and to enact a law that might offer financial restitution to the descendants of enslaved people. But minds are made up — according to a recent Associated Press poll, 74 percent of African Americans now favor reparation payments, while 85 percent of whites oppose them — and Congress seems unlikely to take up the matter.  A 30-year-old bill that would study the issue, H.R. 40, has never reached a vote.
( Thai Jones, writing in The Outlook, my emphases, The Washington Post, 1-31-20)

Moiself  had no idea the numbers re white opposition (as quoted in the above excerpt) were so high. I *did* have the idea that there is a strong subset of US citizens who’d be vehemently opposed to reparations.  Translation: White racists will lose their shit over this.

I thought there was little chance in getting our country to honestly address our history of enslavement and genocide.  On the off-chance that we did, meanwhile, as we’d be fighting about it, issues like climate change – which affects every single person on the planet, and not just USA citizens – will get short shrift…and it will be too late for us all.

I thought that if the Federal Government ever approved reparations, demagogues would use the issue to foment an ugly awakening of the sleeping giant of white racism.  But, guess what?  Chief Little Bunker-Bitch  [4] and his dog-whistle administration  ***have already done that.***

 

 

So…I thought some more.  I did that thing I always hope everyone else will do, on issues about which I feel passionate:  I did more research.  And thanks in great part to the rational, nuanced, exhaustively researched and articulately itemized reasoning presented by Hannah-Jones and others, I am on board for reparations.

Perhaps my logistical concerns/fears will play out, and reparations will be too complex (or dangerous) a policy to enact – who knows?  But first, can we at least, seriously,

***have the conversation?***

Go back to the line I highlighted from the WaPo article: Congress has been sitting on a bill, a bill that would study the issue of reparations, for 30 years.  THIRTY YEARS.  It’s not even a bill to enact or require reparations, but Just.  To.  Study.  The.  Issue.  And the bill can’t even get a hearing. What does that tell you about the minds blocking it?

*   *   *

Department Of Let Me Tell You About The Minds Blocking It

“And yet it moves.”
( … a phrase attributed to the Italian mathematician, physicist and philosopher Galileo Galilei in 1633 after being forced to recant his claims that the Earth moves around the Sun, rather than the converse….despite {Galileo’s forced} recantation, the Church’s proclamations to the contrary, or any other conviction or doctrine of men, the Earth does, in fact, move [around the Sun, and not vice versa].”)   [5]

 

“Oh, “c’mon, just one little peek….”

 

The lines between the political and religious mindsets, especially in this country, are intertwined and in many cases nonexistent.  There are facts, such as the following ones I’ve listed which were iterated by Hannah-Jones, that white conservative American politicians just don’t want to see, because acknowledgement of these facts will upend their world view, which seems to be Yes, slavery was bad, but it was abolished; that was then and this is now and things are better and we are post-racial so get over it.  

 

“Reparations…is about repair…. In the context specifically of Black Americans, reparations has to do with 250 years of chattel slavery, followed by another 100 years of legalized segregation or apartheid and racial terrorism….”

“Very few Americans have created all of their wealth on their own; it’s passed down through generations and then built upon.  Black Americans never really had a chance to do that.”

Hannah-Jones traces the wealth gap to slavery, and the fact that enslaved people were not allowed to own property. She notes that the legalized segregation and racial terrorism that followed slavery exacerbated the problem and “prevented generation after generation of Black Americans from acquiring the type of wealth or foothold in the economy that allows you to live a life that is much more typical of white Americans…. 250 years of slavery where they are unable to accumulate any capital and then coming out of slavery, Black Americans face the dragnet of discrimination and segregation that further prevented them from building any type of wealth. Black people were denied access to colleges, were denied access to high schools, were denied access to higher paying jobs. And when Black people were able to get some land or to build a business, oftentimes they face those businesses being stolen or burned down or destroyed…

…Black people being denied access to the primary wealth-building tools, homeownership, federally financed loans, the G.I. Bill to be able to purchase housing that white Americans use to build their wealth. And so what we see today is the stark chasm that was built up over generations, and then only made worse by the fact that today Black Americans still face discrimination across the spectrum of American life.

We are often taught in this country that Black people are emancipated and then everyone is on an even footing. We don’t often question, what does that mean, to be emancipated after 250 years of bondage — to be emancipated with no job, no home, no money, no clothes, no bed, no pots, nothing. Enslaved people were unable to own anything or to accrue anything at all….

(excerpts from A Call For Reparations…podcast)

 

A telescope aimed at historical reconsideration is not a lens through which most white conservative American politicians (who overwhelmingly tend to be religious) are eager to look.  A bill to study reparations is stuck in congressional limbo, with our elected leaders unwilling even to study the issue. This reminds me of the church officials who not only disagreed with what the astronomer Galileo said he could see through his telescope, they refused to even look through it themselves.  Why?  Because to do so could mean acknowledging that their worldview was incorrect – their theology was diametrically opposed to the facts Galileo’s telescope revealed.

Galileo had constructed his telescope to show how the earth revolved about the sun and not the sun around the earth….

When he demonstrated this, many highly intelligent people even refused to look through the telescope, so frightened were they of what they might see. Some people had such a strong dose of cognitive dissonance that they forced Galileo to his knees and made him withdraw his evidence and recant his discovery.

Biblical references Psalm 93:1, 96:10, and 1 Chronicles 16:30 include text stating that “the world is firmly established, it cannot be moved.” In the same manner, Psalm 104:5 says, “the Lord set the earth on its foundations; it can never be moved.” Further, Ecclesiastes 1:5 states that “And the sun rises and sets and returns to its place.”

The sentence of the Inquisition was delivered…Galileo was found “vehemently suspect of heresy”, namely of having held the opinions that the Sun lies motionless at the centre of the universe, that the Earth is not at its centre and moves, and that one may hold and defend an opinion as probable after it has been declared contrary to Holy Scripture. He was required to “abjure, curse and detest” those opinions.

From the article, “(Galileo and Truth,” The Library of Social Science)

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Getting To The Point

My former (and other people’s current) concerns with the logistics of reparations are beside the proverbial point: the first, *long* overdue debate/discussion to be held should be *why* reparations are (or are not) necessary.  Then, if it is determined that reparations are the way to go, you work out the details (including looking at how other countries, e.g post WWII Germany, and post-apartheid South Africa , administered reparations). Although it can seem overwhelmingly complex, the decision to go forward with reparations would be like any other major decision:

* First, you decide to do it

*  Then, you figure out how to do it.

If reparations are the right thing to do then the consequences of doing so are also the right consequences to deal with.  I mean, holy sci-fi dream: we were challenged to go to the moon within ten years, back in 1961, when our best scientific minds had had no fucking idea how they would accomplish that…and we did it.

 

 

 

*   *   *

Addendum to first story in this blog.  Moiself  returned to the Veterans Gateway memorial on my walk yesterday morning. What I found there illustrates why I often despair for the course chosen by some of my fellow human beings.

 

“Yeah, thank you for your service.”

 

*   *   *

*   *   *

Pun For The Day

I dated a man who was cross-eyed, but I broke up with him because
he was seeing other people on the side.

 

“And people think *I* smell bad….”

*   *   *

May you open our hearts and minds to that which seems impractical;
May we always remember that when discussing the most virtuous of issues there is always room for a bad pun;
May we know this:  “And yet, it moves;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

[1] (as per the descriptive plaque placed there by the Washington County United Veterans Council).

[2] (the reparations were dispersed via the Civil Liberties Act of 1988)

[3]  Rare because the subject just hasn’t come up much in general political conversation… but I have a feeling that is going to change.

[4] 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, we use alternative monikers, ala #45, tRump, The Mandarin Mussolini, The Cheetos Dictator, Private Bonespurs…and my current favorite, as per the recent I’m-not-hiding-in-it-just-inspecting-it incident during the DC protests: Little Chief Bunker Bitch.

[5] And Yet It Moves, Wikipedia.

The Dinner With Mel Brooks I’m Not Having

Comments Off on The Dinner With Mel Brooks I’m Not Having

Department Of SpellWalking is Spellbinding

What, you may ask, is this “SpellWalking” thing you’ve been hearing so much about?  And if you haven’t heard about it….

Spellwalking Spellwalking Spellwalking Spellwalking
Spellwalking Spellwalking

…there. Now you have.

You Must Check This Out ®.

Here’s the description of the activity, from the  brilliant   [1]   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’s favorite (so far), due to its proximity to greenspaces, is the Haight.

 

 

*   *   *

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   [2]  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 moiself cannot take whatever I am reading seriously until I deal with an image that always – as in, every F. 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 moiself  being 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, moiself might 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.

 

*   *   *

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 moiself  hadn’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?”

 

Wow as 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.

The End.

Wow  as in, there’s not much to the story, is there?  It’s too insipid to be tragic.

*   *   *

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 )

Goodbye, Carl Reiner.

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.

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

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.

Never Rarely Sometimes Always

*   *   *

Pun For The Day

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!

*   *   *

 

[1] Partial disclosure – can you ever make a *full* disclosure? – he’s my nephew.

[2] 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?

The Grumpy Grandpa I’m Not Correcting

2 Comments

Another Fact Abscess Feminist Ruins A Family Outing  Enlightens A Grateful Grandpa

My offspring, K and Belle, successfully fledged several years ago. When they were young (ages 1-5), their respective daycare/preschool teachers knew that, rain or shine, they wouldn’t be in class on Wednesdays, as that was our zoo/museum outing day.  Nine out of ten times, we’d go to the Oregon Zoo.

Those zoo trips were before the massive, community bond-supported revamping, updating, and expansion of the zoo and its animal habitats. There weren’t many visitors then – particularly on windy/rainy days, which were our favorites, because it often seemed if we had the zoo all to ourselves.  [1]  Several of the zookeepers got to recognize us, and we them. The staff were impressed and amused by K’s and Belle’s flourishing interest in animals and wildlife conservation and liked that we always greeted the keepers by name and asked (or tried to ask) interesting questions about the animals.

That the zookeepers took the time to speak with us (often quite extensively, and when it was obvious they had *real* work to do) is one of several factors moiself  credits for both K and Belle going on to be in the Zoo Teens program while in high school and then majoring in the Biological Sciences in college.

I’d also like to think that I “modeled” or that K and Belle inherited (nature?  nurture?) that interest from me. Moiself  was quite the animal nerd growing up, particularly in grade school.  My parents recognized and encouraged that interest, and for years I always received at least one nature-themed/animal facts book for my birthday and Christmas presents.  Thus, informed and armed, I was able to spoil the fun of many a prepubescent boy – who was trying to be naughty by teasing his female classmates about this AMAZING animal he’d come across – by explaining that a titmouse was in fact *not* a well-endowed rodent, but a petite North American songbird.

 

 

As always, I digress.

One of my interests at the zoo was not only watching my kids watch the animals, but watching the other zoo visitors. In that older version of the zoo, near the Penguin House, there was a habitat wherein dwelt a solitary, enormous, beautiful, Alaskan Brown bear named Marcia  (Marsha? Or Martha? Don’t know the spelling; her name was not on the information card on the habitat; we’d learned about her from the zookeepers   [2] ).

On days when there were many other zoo visitors and we stopped by Marcia’s habitat, inevitably – I mean, without fail – other adults would “mis-identify” the bear.  Always the male visitors (and also quite a few of the females) would remark, to themselves or to the kids who were with them, something along the lines of,

“Wow, get a load of that bear, he’s so big! Look at his paws…”

I would then take the opportunity to say, “Actually, her name is Marcia.” My comment/correction  would oftentimes lead to brief but interesting, personal-connection type conversations about the zoo and the animals, and sometimes my kids and I would learn something new, from a visitor who had talked with a zookeeper at another exhibit and had an interesting animal fact/behavior tidbit to share.  If the person seemed receptive, I would sneak in a factoid about how a zookeeper told me that the majority of the zoo’s resident animals were female…and how another zookeeper, and more than one biologist I’d met, told me that the majority of the world’s biomass is female but that an individual animal’s gender is usually misidentified by non-biologists when they use a pronoun other than “it” to refer to the animal.  For example, if you espy a wild animal when you’re out and about – say, a garter snake when you’re hiking the Wildwood trail in Forest Park – it is most likely a “she snake,” even though you or your hiking companion(s) will probably call it, or think of it as, a “he.”

With two exceptions moiself  can recall, these interactions at Marcia’s habitat were always positive (which is why I kept engaging in them).  In exception #2, an older dude got his grandpa tighty-whities in a knot when I spoke up after he’d pointed out the bear to (what I assumed were) his two grandkids, as well as to moiself and my two kids, and exclaimed, “Look at that HUGE bear – can you guess how strong he is?”

“She sure is something – she’s one of our favorite animals at the zoo!” I cheerfully chirped. “And, actually, her name is Marcia.”

The man’s face slowly but surely morphed into Grumpy Old Man, get-offa-my-lawn!  territory, as his granddaughter waved to the bear and called out, “Marcia – she’s Marcia! Hi, Marcia!”

“Why does that matter?” he said to me. 

“What do you mean?” I asked, not knowing if the “matter” he was wondering about was the bear’s name or its sex.

“Why does it matter?” he repeated, now looking full-blown irritated, as if he thought I were trying to show him up in front of his grandkids (neither of whom were paying any attention to the adults, but were standing with my kids, waving to the bear). “Does it matter if it’s a he or a she?”

Moiself  donned my best, well-practiced, kill him with kindness visage, raised my voice to a perky, non-threatening octave above my usual tone, and delivered my reply with bared teeth pretending to be a smile a friendly grin:

“Well, obviously it does, or you wouldn’t object to being corrected about a simple fact.”

He muttered under his breath and herded his grandkids away from the exhibit. The little girl turned back and called out, “Marcia!  Marcia! Bye, Marcia!”

 

The Brady Bunch Marcia Marcia Marcia GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

 

*   *   *

Department Of Telling Grandpa Why It Matters

If Grumpy Gramps had stuck around and showed an ounce of amiable interest in the subject, I might have told him that I also would have offered a corrective comment had he misidentified the bear’s species, or its coloration or predation habits or dietary needs (“Look at that black bear/purple grizzly bear/orange sun bear – you know, in the wild, polar bears climb trees to hunt penguins  [3]….”), or any other basic fact about it. An animal’s sex or gender   [4]  is just another one of those basic facts.

The most obvious “proof” as to how important this is, Gramps, is that when I pointed out this particular, simple, factual error, did you notice how many of your feathers got ruffled?

I have taken it upon moiself  to be a “Squirt Gun Ambassador” re the natural world, hoping to incorporate the playfulness/good humor that this childhood summer toy brings to mind, when dealing with this particular issue, which is of importance TO THE ENTIRE WORLD (whether the entire world realizes it or not).

 

 

The SQUIRT gun issue to which I refer is my Sex Question Identification Reparations Therapy ®  crusade, regarding peoples’ tendency to apply male pronouns to all animals they see, unless the animal is obviously female (e.g., nursing its young).  I go the other direction, and use “she” instead of “it” (which I used to always do, and which I’ll get back to doing some day, when people stop defaulting to using “he”) to refer to an animal whose gender is unknown.  My crusade is somewhat analogous to, and in part inspired by, actor Geena Davis’ campaign on gender inequity in entertainment media.

Media is one of the most important factors influencing our values. Women and girls are 51% of the population, but entertainment media is bereft of female characters, with a ratio of approximately 3:1 male characters to female characters since the 1940s.
(Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media )

……When her…daughter was a toddler, and (Davis) started watching movies with her, she realised how woeful the depictions of women in family movies really were.
She was particularly struck by just how few speaking characters in these films were female. She took this point to industry colleagues, but most denied it. Well-meaning and sincere, they couldn’t see a problem.
Davis pressed on – she wanted to see the numbers….she sponsored the largest study carried out on gender depictions in family-rated films and children’s television…and found that for every female speaking-character, there were 2.5 or three male characters – a figure unchanged since 1946.
Furthermore, the vast majority of those female characters were stereotypical or highly sexualised, with ambitions largely related to romance. Even crowd scenes were only made up of 17% women….

 

Hollywood thinks women just don’t like to “gather,” or flee from monsters….

 

“What if we are inculcating generation after generation to believe that low representation of women is the norm?” (Davis) asked her audience.
So her institute commissioned more research: this time, a global study of gender in film in the 10 biggest film markets in the world. The findings were “bleak”: of those characters seen to be holding a job, 77.5% were male and 22.5% were female. Women in leadership and science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM fields were dramatically underrepresented in film, she said, and of the 127 characters that held political office, only 12 were women.
This lack of onscreen depiction contributes to symbolic annihilation, Davis said, by which those that don’t see themselves reflected on screen believe they are unimportant. She quoted damning statistics that show the more hours of television a girl watches, the fewer options she thinks she has in life.

(“How Geena Davis became a champion for women on screen,”
The Guardian, 3-5-17 )

*   *   *

Department Of And While I’m On The Subject…

Can we agree to get rid of those dreadful feminizing/diminishing suffixes appended to people, animals, and professions?

If you come to a party at my house, I am your host, not your hostess.

 

And I won’t be serving these, BTW.

 

Your doctor, if she is a woman, is your doctor, not your doctress. Lions are male and female; there is no need for “lioness” as an identifier. If you name your Aunt Erva in your will as the person who will manage your estate, she should be called your executor, not your executrix.

Still with me, Grumpy Gramps? Since you asked it’s important, to know the animal’s correct gender because girls need to know that what is female is present, in the world, everywhere.  Girls often grow up into women who lack the confidence to move through the world as easily and powerfully as men do, because they don’t think that the world belongs to them.  Unintentionally and sometimes deliberately, girls get presented with skewed perceptions of their “place” – even of simply how many of them there are  [5]   –  in the world.  In the images and examples girls *and* boys are shown, the default for everything is male, especially if the thing in question is perceived as being big and powerful.

It’s important because a person will want to care for the world and that which is in the world, to seek education and take action – from studying to be a geologist to learning to do their own basic auto maintenance and repairs – if they think these things are truly and equally theirs.  If it belongs to you, then you feel a sense of responsibility for it. Despite the progress made in the past few decades, girls (and boys) still look at the world, at the images and descriptions presented to them, and see it as primarily belonging to, and inhabited and ruled by, boys and men.

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Remember That Which Will Eventually Kill Those Of Us Who Survive The Rest Of This Ca-Ca?

Global warming/climate change – the human-induced warming of the planet  – has been getting our attention span short shrift these days, what with the pandemic, poor policing of POC and other parts of the panoply of poop parading past.   [6]

After my pitch for gender label inclusivity, I’ve not much energy left for another harangue.

 

 

I’ll leave y’all with this analogy on the subject. At many a dinner party discussion, I’ve listened while friends have lamented the conundrum of how and why otherwise rational-seeming people can ignore the evidence  of climate change and/or that some “aware” people tacitly admit that the evidence is real, but find ways to avoid thinking about it and/or don’t want to act on this evidence because they view any such actions as impeding their current lifestyle, or that they believe that individuals cannot make any significant changes to the problem.

I’ve had to bite my tongue when well-meaning people whom I admire and even love have sincerely claimed not to understand such willful ignorance…because they do the same thing, with regards to the same issue. They are all willing and enthusiastic participators in the environment-razing, carnivore fodder industry.

They all eat (factory-farm grown and processed) meat.

I’ve decided to be silent no more.  I will try my Girl Scout Best  [7]  to *not* be of those self-righteous scolds, but the next time someone starts with the, “How can those people ignore the evidence ?!?!?” wail I will gently point out that their lament is not only rhetorical, but disingenuous. They know, or *should* know, exactly why “those people” want to ignore the evidence of climate change because they themselves use the same rationale for ignoring the evidence on meat consumption:

* because they don’t want to alter their current way of life;

* because they don’t want to make the necessary changes, which they view as making sacrifices and being inconvenienced;

* because they just don’t want to be bothered.

Some of the most thoughtful people I know find ways not to give the problems of animal agriculture any thought, just as I find ways to avoid thinking about climate change and income inequality….
Animal agriculture is now recognized as a leading cause of global warming….
We cannot protect our environment while continuing to eat meat regularly. This is not a refutable perspective, but a banal truism….cows produce an enormous amount of greenhouse gas. If cows were a country, they would be the third-largest greenhouse gas emitter in the world.
According to the research director of Project Drawdown — a nonprofit organization dedicated to modeling solutions to address climate change — eating a plant-based diet is “the most important contribution every individual can make to reversing global warming.”
Americans overwhelmingly accept the science of climate change. A majority of both Republicans and Democrats say that the United States should have remained in the Paris climate accord. We don’t need new information, and we don’t need new values. We only need to walk through the open door.

 ( “The End of Meat Is Here: If you care about the working poor,
about racial justice, and about climate change,
you have to stop eating animals,” Jonathan Safran Foer,
 NY Times 5-21-20 )

*   *   *

Pun For The Day

 

*   *   *

May you carefully consider which evidence you are choosing to ignore;
May you remember that I’m a writer, not a writress;
May you enjoy an adolescent’s misunderstanding of “titmouse;”
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

[1] I remember at least two occasions where we saw no other human beings, with the exception of the zookeepers and other zoo employees.

[2] And two keepers told me two different names for that bear: “Martha” and “Marcia.”

[3] Despite all the cute cartoons you may have seen, polar bears and penguins never interact. Polar bears are northern pole denizens while penguin species all live south of the equator. And neither of them climb trees.

[4] I realize these are loaded terms, used interchangeably and not always in the same manner, by humans.

[5] The world human population male/female ratio consistently hovers around 50-50,   but you wouldn’t know that if your only statistic in this matter came from your consumption of popular media, where the male characters consistently and overwhelmingly outnumber the female.

[6] I counted at least eight Ps there.

[7] Well, in my case, Girl-Scout-drop-out best….

The Police Officer I’m Not Judging

Comments Off on The Police Officer I’m Not Judging

Department Of The Calm Before The Storm
Sub Department Of Something Sweet Before The Ranting Thoughtful Consideration of Provocative Subjects Begins

We celebrate half-birthdays in my family – not my family of origin, but the family MH and I created. This is MH’s doing. When he found out that our first date was the day after my birthday, he expressed mild disappointment that he had missed helping me celebrate. I thought nothing of it until six months later, when I received a small gift from him and a birthday card with its pre-printed “Happy Birthday” altered to read, “Happy (half) birthday.”

I found that delightful.

And I did the same for him, when his half-birthday rolled around. And we’ve kept doing it all these years,  also with our children, K and Belle.

What makes it such a simple pleasure is that although we/ve been doing this for decades (!?), every year, without fail, I forget when it is my own half-birthday, until, for example, like Tuesday morning, when I came downstairs and found a card and small package and realized, “Oh yeah – it’s my half-birthday!”

This year’s card is arguably the best ever. The inside message, “Hope Your (Half) Birthday Is This Much Fun!” is an almost impossible wish, given the expression of unsurpassed, mischievous joy on the puddle jumping girl. It is a familiar expression, one I’ve seen in many a picture pasted in my parents’ old photo albums.  It makes me think of them fondly, knowing if they were alive they’d both laugh in recognition when I’d show them the card, and my father would exclaim,


“Where did MH find it?! Robbie Doll, that is *you*!”

 

*   *   *

Department Of Much Ado About Nothing You’ve Got To Be Kidding Me
Sup-Department Of The Hidden Book In A Beloved Fantasy Series:
Happy Potter And The People Who Play Their Nitpick Fiddles
While Hogwarts Is Burning Down Around Them

What a fun past couple of weeks we’ve had. And because there is not enough injustice to keep us all busy, several self-appointed transphobia warriors have Twitter-twisted their rainbow panties in a knot because they felt excluded – even, “erased” – due to a 21-word tweet from author JK Rowling.

 

 

Bear with me as I make a related association.

One of my favorite podcasts,Alan Alda’s “Clear and Vivid,”  focuses on connections we make via communication.  The response to Rowling’s tweet reminds me of one of the issues brought up in Alda‘s recent podcast interview with cognitive scientist, linguist, professor and author Steven Pinker. In the latter half of “Talking About Talking,” Alda and Pinker discussed the “pr” problem science currently has, in that many (non-scientist) people seem to have little idea how science and scientists actually work, and thus fall for pseudo science and conspiracy theories. These science doubters don’t trust science and scientists, partly because they think scientists cannot really speak out due to academic orthodoxy and the “cancel culture”  (which, moiself notes, is a problem typically more associated with the liberal arts and social sciences).

Pinker:
The backsliding in universities – away from free speech and open ideas, the ideological conformity, the political correctness, the policing of ideas – can be corrosive, precisely because it erodes that knowledge of what the rules (of science) are – mainly, you shouldn’t be able to get away with claiming something false, because someone will call you on it.
But when the impression the public has is that the universities are just another cult, where you really can’t speak your mind or you’ll be drummed out or you’ll be cancelled or you’ll be shut down by protests, that feeds the conspiracy theories….”

As my offspring would verify (with a modicum of eye-rolling, moiself dares to hope), I reminded them at any opportunity – when they were young and especially later, when they were talking about their college classes where they sometimes felt discussions about pertinent or controversial issues were was stifled because someone said something that another person did not want to hear or claimed was “offensive” –  of the following:

The reason I have the opinions I have today, opinions that keep evolving and adapting to new information, is that (particularly during my school/observing-how-the-world-works-and-how-) I get to hear and read about ideas and events that the Someone Else ®  chorus found dangerous, offensive, blasphemous, destructive.
For example, my lifelong feminism has been possible because I got to hear people argue with and debate the various “sides” of the issue.  And the idea that males and females should have equal value, rights and opportunities but that powerful cultural, governmental, religious and academic structures are designed to prevent that and preserve patriarchal status quo – that was highly offensive, to many, many people.    

I will never forget the reaction of the charismatic, good looking, Nice Christian Boy ® in my high school’s gifted math class when the teacher brought in a recently published academic study on gender bias.  The study showed how school’s math textbooks, from an early age through the upper grades, discriminatorily portrayed boys and girls when presenting “story problems.”  For example, the study showed pictures of grade school math workshop books, where boys were overwhelmingly/statistically over-represented and were portrayed as active agents in the story problems, while girls, if mentioned at all, were in domestic scenarios or doing housework. This NCB’s boy’s way entering the discussion on this issue, which another girl and moiself were having with a couple of our male classmates, was to interrupt, and name-call us (the two girls) and dismiss our concerns and observations:

“This is ridiculous!
Stuff like that doesn’t matter – I can’t believe you’d fall for….”

Later in the school year this boy, in his yearbook graduation notes (where seniors got to list favorite activities, friends, future aspirations and what they wanted to be remembered for, etc.) wrote that his life goal was “to tactfully convey to those around me what the Lord has done for me.”  The Very. First. Things. I thought of at the time, when I read what he’d written – and the first thing that comes to mind today, on the rare occasions I have to recall him – is the “This is ridiculous” incident, and several others involving the ridiculing of classmates, wherein NCB demonstrated (what would later be defined by stand-up comics as) the phenomenon of “punching down.”

Once again, I digress. Thank you for bearing with me.

 

“You’re welcome. Now, as you were saying….”

 

So: JK Rowling’s tweet was in response to a May 28 article,  [1]  from the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council,   [2]   titled,

Opinion: Creating a more equal post-COVID-19 world
for people who menstruate

At first glance, I thought the article’s title was a headline from The Onion. It would seem JK Rowling did as well, and she beat me to the satirical punch (as easy thing to do, as moiself  is not on Twitter).  Here is Rowling’s tweet in its entirety:

” ‘People who menstruate.’ I’m sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?”

We are in the midst of a worldwide pandemic and resulting economic recession, with the largest unemployment figures since The Great Depression and uncertain options for recovery, while simultaneous grappling with nationwide civil unrest after the horrific death of yet another black man murdered by police officers,  [3] with demonstrations in a few cases turning to riots and sparking even more shocking displays of police brutality …which seems to be leading us toward a long overdue reckoning of our country’s entrenched system of political, judicial, financial, educational and cultural racism, the (grudging, in the case of many white folks) acknowledgement of which is fueling calls for the Herculaneum and potentially divisive (as counter-protests by white supremacist terrorist groups – which have yet to be labeled as such by our federal law enforcement agencies – indicate) tasks of addressing systemic racism, which includes reforming – or some cases, even dismantling– our nation’s law policing agencies….

And does even *one* of y’all think Rowling’s tweet is a fight worth picking?  Are you having a really bad period – excuse me, are you a Person On The Rag?

 

 

The denizens of the Transphobia Determination Committee and their special friends, famous and otherwise, began to pile on. One Twitter-er responded to Rowling with a judgmentally terse, “Why did you do this?”

Rowling doesn’t need me to defend her (she explains her wider concerns with gender and feminist issues, including the censorial tyranny of “wrongthink,” here).  But, As A Writer, ® I understand exactly (at least one) reason why Rowling “did that.” Because she wrote   [4]  just what I was thinking – and likely would have mentioned in this space, had I come across the article’s title before this silly controversy began…because the phrase “People Who Menstruate” is a stand-up comic’s wacky, face-palming, WTF?!? gift…not to mention grammatically ungainly.

Oh, and, Et tu, Daniel Radcliffe?

“Who, moi?”

 

For those of you who’ve been off-planet for the past nineteen years, actor Radcliffe played the title character in the eight movies made from Rowling’s “Harry Potter” series.  In his intro to a piece he wrote for the Trevor Project blog site, Radcliffe opined on Rowling’s tweet.  He stated that he feels compelled

“…as a human being…”

(nice of him to clarify that, for those people who may think he is actually some kind of non-human wizard, or something)

“…to say something at this moment.
Transgender women are women. Any statement to the contrary erases the identity and dignity of transgender people….”

Oh, Danny boy. Do you really think that JK Rowling possesses what would be the most powerful magic ever: that she could, in a mere 21 words, cast a wizarding spell which “erases the identity and dignity of any of your fellow human beings?

Identity erasure, schmasure.  Rowling said no such thing – who is trying to attach this “erasure” identity onto her? Just as she called out conservative evangelical Christians who accused her of promoting Satanism and the occult in her Harry Potter books, Rowling is calling b.s. on the transphobic accusation.  You supported her re the former “charges;” why are you so quick to accept the latter?

Rowling’s tweet poked fun at a comically cumbersome phrase. Harry Potter  (whoops! sorry for the unintentional erasure of your true identity)  Daniel Radcliffe, you owe your career to this gifted writer, who created a seven book series filled with wonder and adventure and, arguably more importantly, interspersed with nuanced portrayals about individual and group reactions and responsibilities vis-à-vis recognizing and responding to good and evil.  Now here you are, forsaking even a modicum of nuance in jumping on the *Someone is Offended!*  bandwagon. Did you even think to contact Rowling privately, before joining the social media pile-on?

What is happening to Rowling frosts my butt.  At best it’s snippy – and at worst can be confusing, angering, and frustrating and sometimes dangerous – to be labeled as something that you are not.  Hmm, this phenomenon seems somehow…familiar.  Other people trying to force an unwanted  and inaccurate identity upon you – hey, y’all “transphobic” accusers: double standards, much?

 

 

Humans are mammals. In mammalian species all females have uteri, most have an estrous cycle, and the females of ten primate species, four bats species and a couple of other rodent species have a menstrual cycle.  Human females are generally referred as women (although as per gender identity theories a small percentage of people who identify as women are not born female).

Pick your battles, folks.  Don’t alienate those who are your allies, or who would like to be allies but who are hesitant to go public with their support because they fear you might rip ’em a new one if they use terminology you don’t like or “misuse” pronouns, etc.  

Where is Monty Python at a time like this?  [5]  Imagine the Ministry of Silly Terminology or Argument Clinic-style skits they could get out of this Twitter tantrum.

You who want to pick fights over what should be non/the smallest of issues – pick away. Meanwhile, #45 ( aka Chief Little Bunker-Bitch  [6]  ) and his minion of bigots keep pulling this shit while they notice we’re busy picking at ourselves:

The tRump administration announced (on 6/12… it is eliminating an Obama-era regulation prohibiting discrimination in health care against patients who are transgender.”

Moiself can hardly believe how many keystrokes I’ve wasted on this brouhaha.  It’s errand time;  my essential supplies are getting scarce. There are some chili bean-loving dudes coming for a visit in a couple of weeks, so I’m off to stock up on toilet paper for when the guys – excuse me, I mean, People Who Shit – stop by.

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Can’t Resist This Segue: Speaking Of Labeling….
Sub-Department Of Message To Police Officers Everywhere
(That They Are *So* Likely To Read….)

I’ve seen several Facebook posts linking to an article published recently in The Baltimore Sun. In ” An open letter to a protester from a Baltimore County police officer,” officer Seth Templeton, a five year police veteran who views himself as “one of the good guys,” writes with sincerity, articulation, and heartfelt regret about his pain, as a police officer, of being tainted by the actions of a few bad cops.

“I would ask that you judge me not by my uniform,
but by the content of my character.”

To the “good guys” (and good gals) in police forces across the nation:

Do you not see what an *amazing* gift this tainting is?

I don’t mean to dismiss your pain; if you can’t understand my explanation of why this tainting is actually a gift, please take a breather and read it again…then, if you still don’t get it, moiself  humbly but seriously suggests that, for the good of the nation and your own sanity, you should find another profession.

Most of us think we have the ability to do, or are presently doing, what in fact is one of the more difficult tasks human being can undertake, in our journey to be Better People ®:  to put ourselves in another person’s place. You remember the axiom about not judging a person until you have….

 

 

This is your chance for change and growth, a chance to start your own mindful practice of empathy.  If you consider yourself a good/honest/upright police officer, if you took your oath *to protect and serve* seriously, please do the following:

Every time you feel tainted by the actions of a few of your “brothers in blue,” put yourselves in the shoes of another of your could-be brothers and sisters – of just one of the countless black men and women whose entire lives are tainted by the assumptions and prejudices of others.  They are

* pulled over for minor traffic infractions – or for no reasons at all – because they fit a stereotype in some cop’s mind of what a criminal is/does/looks like

* pulled over while driving and questioned because they do *not* fit the police officers’ image of what kind of person drives a luxury car/lives or works in this wealthy neighborhood/has a car with MD license plates…

*stopped, questioned and frisked, in their neighborhood or on their own front porches, by the police, who are looking for drugs, while their same age white peers living on college are told by the campus police to move their marijuana plants away from their dorm windowsill so that parents attending Homecoming Weekend won’t see them

* arrested for breaking into your own home, by an officer who ignores the proof that it *is* your own home, and you forgot your house keys

* questioned, hassled, or even taken into custody by the police for doing an innocuous activity (having friends over for a bbq, attending a grad party in your friend’s backyard, bird watching, jogging, napping in your own dorm room, sitting in a Starbucks, using the pool in their own gated community, golfing “too slow,” mowing the lawn or playing on a Slip n’Slide, for going to work, eating at a Subway – and other ways of “living while black”) because it upset some white person’s judgement of who can do what in “white spaces.”….

 

 

Here’s the thing: those people who judge you, who do not know you personally but who put you in the category of “bad cop,” because of your uniform? Those people do not have the weight of your gun, night stick, taser, squad car and fellow officers and police union to back you up, along with a judicial system predisposed to believe your word (even when there are eyewitnesses and objective evidence – including video footage from street cams, stores, cellphones, and even your own body cam – to contradict you).

Those people who judge, fear and/or slag on you have…what? Merely their scorn, their fear that you are “one of *those* cops.”  Do you realize how skewed the power dynamics are?  Even as I’m hoping you take this opportunity to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, the shoes are hardly the same size, are they?

It’s a big culture to reform; police officers are part of their communities and do not operate in a vacuum. Rather, the violence, prejudice and corruption we see in policing stems from the systemic racism promulgated by the mythology of white superiority that has plagued our nation since its founding, and which permeates *every* aspect of its power structures. This is your opportunity be part of the solution…or get out of the way if you’re not up to it.

But, I hope you don’t leave. Your essay gives me hope that you have the strength to do the right thing, even if it means bearing the sting of false accusations (while remembering that so many others have borne and continue to bear so much more than mere false accusations). I’d rather you stay and work for change, and justice. Because that is what a good cop would do.

 

 

*   *   *

Pun For The Day

My aunt urgently needed a transfusion…
but she died before we could remember her blood type.
Her last words to us were, “Be positive!”

 

 

*   *   *

Department of Epicurean Excursion  Evolution  [7]

And here’s what I made for ours, one day this week.

Featuring this week’s Theme Day and recipe:

Sushi Saturday:   Green maki and nigiri rolls (made with jade pearl “bamboo” rice, avocado, cucumber, scallions, roasted red pepper).

My rating:

Recipe Rating Refresher  [8]

*   *   *

 

May you surprise someone by celebrating their half-birthday;
May we all try to be the good cops;
May you enjoy making your own damn dinner;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

[1] in Devex, a “global development media platform.”

[2] The WSSC is a global organization advocating for “…poverty eradication, health and environmental improvement, gender equality and long-term social and economic development.”  The article deals with the worldwide requirements, pandemic or no, for safe access to “menstrual materials, toilets, soap, water, and private spaces in the face of lockdown living conditions that have eliminated privacy for many populations.”.

[3] Or should I say, George Floyd was murdered by “People With Guns and Badges.”

[4] I can’t bring moiself to use, “tweeted.”

[5] Dying off, one by one, I know….

[6] Belle sent me this epic video, with the insistence that I heretofore use a new moniker for #45.

[7] A recurring feature of this blog, since week 1 of April 2020, wherein moiself decided that moiself would go themes as listed in the 4-3-20 blog.

[8]

* Abject Failure:  I’ll make a canned wieners & SpaghettiOs gelatin mold before I make this recipe again.

* Tolerable:  if you have the proper…attitude.

* Yep: why, sure, I’d share this with my cat.

* Now you’re talkin’: Abby the support Avocado ® approves.

* Yummers: So good, it merits The Purple Tortilla Chip Of Exclamation ® !

 

The Dad Jokes I’m Not Telling

Comments Off on The Dad Jokes I’m Not Telling

Department Of Trying To Remember How I Organized This Bookshelf

Dateline: a week ago; 7 am-ish. Moiself  is on my elliptical exercise thingy,  [1] which is in the corner of our family room next to a floor-to-ceiling bookcase. I open the podcast app on my cellphone and place the phone on the second-from-the-top bookcase shelf.  After five minutes I want to listen to a different podcast, and as I reach for my phone I notice, as if for the first time, a row of book titles on the top shelf.

All of the book case’s shelves are – or were, I think – organized as per some kind of theme. Thus it gives me no small amusement to look at the following titles on the top shelf and wonder to moiself who arranged these books…knowing full well it was moiself…and having no memory of why I put those  titles there ?

* The Complete Works of Mark Twain, Volumes I and II (Mark Twain)

* Ball Four (Jim Bouton)

* I am Spock (Leonard Nimoy)

* My Antonia (Willa Cather)

* The Lathe of Heaven (Ursula LeGuin)

* The Thurber Carnival (James Thurber)

* The Odyssey of Homer  (Homer Simpson)  [2]

* The Search For Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe (Jane Wagner)

* Candide (Voltaire)

* Tarzan of the Apes (Edgar Rice Burroughs)

* Go the F*** to Sleep (Adam Mansbach, Ricardo Cortés, illustrator)

 

*   *   *

Department Of Following Up

The relative risk of mental health problems following a single elective first-trimester abortion of is no greater risk to mental health than carrying a pregnancy to term.
(APA American Psychological Association, “Abortion and Mental Health,”)

“Most antiabortion activists oppose abortion for moral and religious reasons. In their effort to win broader public support and legitimacy, however, antiabortion leaders frequently assert that abortion…harms women physically and psychologically….
Likely because the science attesting to the physical safety of the abortion procedure is so clear, abortion foes have long focused on what they allege are its negative mental health consequences. For decades, they have charged that having an abortion causes mental instability and even may lead to suicide, and despite consistent repudiations from the major professional mental health associations, they remain undeterred. For example, the “postabortion traumatic stress syndrome” that they say is widespread is not recognized by either the American Psychological Association (APA) or the American Psychiatric Association.
 (“Abortion and Mental Health: Myths and Realities,”
GPR – Guttmacher  Policy Review )

As per in last week’s post, here is the follow up I mentioned in this post:

“Apparently, there are some people who are shocked and/or disappointed to learn that Norma Jean McCarvey, aka “Jane Roe” in the 1973 Roe V. Wade SCOTUS decision, admitted she was paid for her notorious “flip-flop” – from pro-choice to anti-abortion – by the anti-abortion side….
Such tactics are no surprise to many of us who have worked in women’s reproductive health care.  The anti-abortionists  [2]  use the ends-justifies-the-means excuses for their deception, propaganda, and outright pants-on-fire lies.
Moiself  has more stories than I care to recall, from both my days at Planned Parenthood and a private OB-GYN practice, having to do with women’s encounters with anti-choice exploiters activists. One of the ickiest stories I will detail in next week’s post.”

And now, the Icky Story ®.

One of the largest studies about women’s emotions after an abortion finds most feel relieved and don’t regret their choice, even if they struggled beforehand or worried about stigma. The study, one of the largest to date on the topic, was published Sunday in the journal Social Science & Medicine.
(
CNN, women-emotion-abortion study 1-15-20 )

Whether a girl or women terminates her pregnancy because it was unwanted (unplanned; the result of contraceptive failure; the result of rape/incest/molestation)… or it was dearly wanted and anticipated, until maternal and/or fetal health anomalies arose, she most likely experiences situationally-appropriate sadness. And then, she moves on…unless she has the misfortune of getting involved with an organization like WEBA which, perversely, seeks to convince the woman that she cannot move on, and that she has been physical and emotionally damaged will be haunted by shame and guilt.  [3]

What’s the number one emotion women experience after getting an abortion? …New research has found that most women feel relief after an abortion.
Nearly all women in the study — including those who had difficulty making the choice to end their pregnancy — said it was the right decision 5 years later.
The report, which was published in the journal Social Science & Medicine on Jan. 12 (2020), debunks the assumption that women regret terminating their pregnancies — a notion that’s been used by anti-choice activists to lobby for mandatory waiting periods and abortion counseling in many states.
(“99% of Women Say They Feel Relief, Not Regret, 5 Years After Having an Abortion,”
Healthline, cnn)

When I worked for Planned Parenthood clinics in the Bay Area, one of the clinicians I knew volunteered to do some espionage for us, by “infiltrating” a WEBA group..

 

Not nearly this glamorous…or entertaining.

 

PP administrators and clinicians didn’t want to destroy the group from the inside, or do anything that dramatic or nefarious. Rather, after public encounters with WEBA groups, which had started to appear alongside right wing religious groups demonstrating at certain PP clinic sites, we were curious as to what WEBA was saying – about both Planned Parenthood in general and women’s reproductive health care in general – in private.

WEBA (“Women Exploited By Abortion”) was   [4]  founded in the 1980s by anti-abortionists who claimed they wanted to find a more emotionally violent way to lie to women “expand the anti-abortion conversation.” They did this by promoting the (unsubstantiated) idea that women who have abortions experience substantial emotional, mental, and physical distress and regret as  a direct result of the procedure itself and the lack of information given to them regarding “post abortion syndrome.” [1]

PP clinician MT volunteered to go underground, as a woman who’d had an abortion and was interested in joining WEBA. She offered to do so after encountering a group of WEBA  sign-carrying women (at first, always led by a man   [5] ) at an anti-abortion protest.

MT noted that the WEBA group seemed to be connected with a couple of church groups.  She called the churches and, after being screened by receptionists, was able to attend WEBA meetings over a period of several months.

The stories MT told…oh, if only we had cell phones back then!  For fear of being found out MT did not carry any kind of recording devices, but wrote down her experiences in a notebook immediately after each meeting.

When I learned of MT’s adventures and asked her to recount them, the first thing she said to me was that the group’s acronym should be changed, from WEBA to WEBMEFWMH, as in,  “Women Exploited By Men Exploiting Fragile Women’s Mental Health.”  However, MT agreed with my observation that the latter wasn’t as catchy an acronym as the former, nor even pronounceable to most Americans, who might think it was some kind of Czechoslovakian skin disorder.

MT said she was angered and disgusted by what she saw at the meetings. Although the misinformation and outright lies told about medical issues did not surprise her, what did surprise her was how the dominant emotion for her was *not* anger and disgust, but sadness. She was saddened to see a group of obviously unhappy and depressed (some dangerously so) women (whom I called the “WEBA waifs”) who needed professional help…and who were obviously not going to get it in WEBA.

Numerous studies  (at that time, and now) showed that “post abortion syndrome” does not exist.  Rather:

* if you were a woman who had mental health issues before having an abortion, you would have them afterwards – abortion wouldn’t change or solve that.

* if you were a woman who was mentally and emotionally stable before having an abortion, you would remain so afterwards, even as you might be temporarily angered/saddened/frustrated by the circumstances of your life which led to your choice to terminate your pregnancy.

While MT couldn’t say whether the WEBA waifs she encountered were emotionally fragile before they’d had abortions, they were obviously fragile in the present.  Not once did MT hear any offers made, by the WEBA facilitators, for the chronically disturbed WEBA waifs to seek medical/psychological counseling.  The depressed and agitated WEBA waifs were made even more so by their participation in WEBA, a group which purported to embrace them and their experiences, but which in fact kept them whipped up in an emotional frenzy about the “sin” they had been sucked into.  This (in MT’s observation) was so that they could be deployed like rabid dogs at anti-abortion protests…and MT noticed that the WEBA leaders would stoke their rhetorical fires – i.e., ramp up the hysterical rhetoric – just before the group was deployed to a protest site.

Calm and serious folks offering pamphlets and chanting slogans is run of the mill, but a pack of sobbing women, pulling at their own hair, holding signs with dead baby slogans and screaming about sin (“Planned Parenthood forced me to murder my baby – JESUS please forgive me!”)…now, *that* is an attention-getter.

Shy, even-tempered woman that she was, even while “undercover,” MT did not at first merit much attention from the WEBA leaders, which was fine with her. MT’s main interest was the in plight of the WEBA waifs.  One such WW whom MT befriended, “DF,” was obviously, as per MT, “on the edge.” DF confided to MT about being bullied into carrying a sign with “pictures of hell” – a sign DF had adamantly told the WEBA leader she did *not* want to hold – at a recent anti-abortion rally.  DF spent a lot of time mumbling to herself during WEBA meetings and rocking back and forth, like an autistic child.  MT was so concerned about DF she approached one of the WEBA leaders after a meeting and suggested that not only was DF was in acute distress, DF had confided to MT that being on the front lines of demonstrations only exacerbated her pain: “I think DF needs more help than we can give her, perhaps a medical evaluation and professional counseling….”

MT’s observation was quickly shot down.

“That’s what WEBA is for – these women receive the best counseling available, from the group and the church pastors!  If you are suggesting a need for psychological counseling – which, BTW, if you don’t know yet you should know, is a tool of the devil – you need to get yourself right with God. Only Jesus  [6]  will help these women heal, and to suggest otherwise  shores up the atheist’s clever secular agenda disguised as in the medical profession…”

The reaction MT received from the WEBA leaders – when she suggested that obviously distraught women should not be deployed at protests but should be devoting their time and energy to getting healthy – made MT think that her cover was about to be blown.  She only went to two more meetings after that, each one sadly confirming her suspicions that those WEBA waifs and their individual psyches were not important to the church leaders – the only thing that mattered was the “work“ that they were doing on the picket lines.

*   *   *

*   *   *

Department Of Inquiring Minds Want To Know

How can I *not* be a thing, or display a certain characteristic, if I can’t be that thing/exhibit that characteristic in the first place?

If I am impatient, I can also be patient.  If someone judges an action of mine to be undisciplined, there is some standard by which I can display discipline.

What this is leading up to is the burning question I had in my mind, after doing a New York Times word puzzle game, in which I got points for one word but was informed that its “root” is not a word:

If I can be unruly, why can’t I be ruly?

 

*   *   *

Department Of Righteous Causes About Which I Have One Minor Reservation

I fully support equal/gay marriage and the rights of LGBTQ parents. Moiself  does have one particular concern re the latter issue – perhaps psychologists have already studied this, and can reassure me about my qualms?

Specifically, I am concerned about a child growing up with two fathers and thus being subject to *twice* as many Dad Jokes.

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Let’s All Go To The Biffy

In a recent post to his Facebook page, a buddy of mine used the term “biffy,” which warmed the cockles of my heart.  My Aunt Erva used to say that word (“Excuse me, I’m off to use the biffy”).  No one else did that I knew of. Thus, I thought it was one of her own peculiar euphemisms, until, when I was around 11 years old, I asked my mother about it. She told me it was a term favored by “older folks” and that no one really uses it today.

Now, I say, let’s bring it back.  Given our alternatives:

bathroom; restroom; loo, the facilities; powder room; W.C..; shithouse, tRump closet; outhouse; ladies/gents room; dumpster; privy; back house; can; john; lavatory; House of Wi; bum chapel; crap castle; coffee house; dingleberry creek; relief station; temple; Parliament plumbing; bog; house of easement;

isn’t biffy a wee bit (sorry) more festive?

 

“Whatever you call it, your bum will shine in my crap castle.”

 

*   *   *

Bad Poetry Written In My Head While Walking On A Drizzly Manzanita Morning
Past The Golf Course, Which Is Open, And Where I See Two
Rain Gear-Clad Persons About To Tee Up

I think I could tolerate golf in the rain,
My usage of “tolerate” I must now explain.
Some people love golf, but as I understand,
golf courses are harmful to water and land.

Ground water, habitats, wetlands and more
fouled by chemicals and fertilizers galore
which must be applied to maintain the course grass….
I think of the waste, and it just chaps my ass.

And yet, on this morning, I pass the course by,
Caught by surprise as I feel myself sigh
at the sight in the mist, on a morning serene,
And I’m struck by my feelings – they’re quite unforeseen.

I’ll rethink for a moment a “sport” I disdain,
and maybe, one day, I might golf in the rain.

 

 

 

Mark Twain supposedly  [7] called golf … a good walk spoiled.”
It’s a good thing elk don’t read.

*   *   *

Pun For The Day

Broken pencils are pretty much pointless.

 

 

*   *   *

Department of Epicurean Excursion  Evolution  [8]

 

 

And here’s what I made for ours, one day this week.

Featuring this week’s Theme Day and recipe:

Tofu/tempeh Tuesday: Kimchi spice roasted tofu with mango red pepper lime salsa

My rating:

 

☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

Recipe Rating Refresher  [9]

*   *   *

Department Of We Need This Sentiment, Now:

 You Can Do This Hard Thing

 

 

*   *   *

 

May you stop whatever you’re doing and reorganize your bookshelf into categories which will flummox cultural anthropologists of the future, as well as anyone who knows you;
May you try a sport you think you disdain (preferably in the rain);
May you know that, eventually, you can do this hard thing;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

[1] Aka, “device.”

[2] Just seeing if y’all were paying attention. Homer Simpson is a cartoon character, and not the Homer who wrote The Odyssey of Homer. ( Homer Simpson wrote the much neglected third book in the saga, The Iliad of Idiocy.)

[3] And, they turn out to be correct – she will be filled with shame and guilt because WEBA will make sure to shame and guilt her, even under the guise of helping her.

[4] I use the past tense, as I haven’t heard much about or from them in some time and don’t know if they are still active, or have been absorbed into/by other anti-abortion groups.

[5] MT discovered that, although WEBA was ostensibly for women, it was “sponsored” by conservative Christian evangelical churches, whose dogma also decreed that men must hold all positions of leadership. When some pro-choice advocates pointed out that, at the WEBA rallies it was a man holding the megaphone and directing the WEBA women, at the very next rally (and for all subsequent public appearances by that WEBA group) an older woman was put in front on the group and given the megaphone. Another PP “spy” who attended the rallies thought it was rather comical, and obvious, that this newly appointed woman “leader” hadn’t been well-trained: when she was asked direct questions she couldn’t help but hide her reflexive deference, and she would look to the man in charge of the group – now off to the side, pretending to be just hanging around and * not*  in charge – as if to get his approval  before she said anything.

[6] Eventually…allegedly. When he makes up his mind to get around to it…’cause he sure wasn’t helping any of those poor women at the time.

[7] Sounds like something he *would* have said, and yet the first traceable printing of that quote comes from the post WWII years, and Twain died in 1910.

[8] A recurring feature of this blog, since week 1 of April 2020, wherein moiself decided that moiself would go themes as listed in the 4-3-20 blog.

[9]

* Abject Failure:  I’ll make a canned wieners & SpaghettiOs gelatin mold before I make this recipe again.

* Tolerable:  if you have the proper…attitude.

* Yep: why, sure, I’d share this with my cat.

* Now you’re talkin’: Abby the support Avocado ® approves.

* Yummers: So good, it merits The Purple Tortilla Chip Of Exclamation ® !

 

The Breath I’m Not Holding

1 Comment

The right of citizens to peaceably assemble and petition their government was so vital to the framers of our constitution, it was included in the First Amendment. Thus, one of the worst things #45 has done – the photo op stunt he pulled on Monday at the DC Episcopal church – may turn out to be one of his “best,” in that more Republicans are starting to publicly declare just how demented and law-breaking #45 is, re his blatant desecration and violation one of the U.S. Constitution’s most important principles.

What say we take that impeachment vote now, Ladies and Gentlemen of the Congress?

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Keeping It Real

I am becoming acutely aware of the Passage of Time ® (translation:  like every living thing around me, I’m getting older). However, I have been unaware of any corresponding increase in moiself’s  personal maturity index, a phenomenon which, I was assured by my elders, was one of the benefits (the only benefit, according to my perennially grumpety  [1]   Aunt Erva) of aging.

I think they lied.

Dateline on Monday morning circus 7:55 AM, returning from morning walk. I passed the house of our next-door neighbors, who have been doing some lawn-decorating things the past few weeks, and noticed that they’ve placed two bronze Great Blue Heron statues in the corner of their yard closest to our front yard berm. Moiself’s  very first thought upon noticing the gap in the beak of heron #1, was a gleeful, “There’s just enough space to put a toy cigar in there!”

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of A Thought That Surprised Even Moiself

This festering hemorrhoid of a human being…. 

Such are my usual thoughts about the Current Occupant of the White House, whom moiself  variously refers to in these posts as #45 (when I’m feeling magnanimous), or The Mandarin Mussolini and The Cheetos Hitler (when I’m feeling realistic).  Imagine my surprise when on Monday eve, while scrolling through the news stories reporting the latest divisive shit you-know-who has flung, my quavering intellectual commitment    [2]  to the principle of Radical Empathy chose that moment to raise its pointy little head and ask a question that, actually and literally, tugged at my heart:

Does anyone love this man?

It was the saddest of questions, posed from and to moiself, and accompanied by a flood of melancholy. 

Does anyone love this man?

This Man, from all accounts ranging from the objective to the slavish, seems to have led the kind of life for which the answer to the question would be an easy, *No. *Of course not.*

His family: women and wives and children, collected and curated, tolerated and paraded about by him, then ignored/cast aside when it suits him…these “family” members seemingly tolerate the situation (do they even have what could remotely be called a “relationship”) for status and monetary gain.  This Man has no verifiable friends; he does have paid staff, and minions and political “associates” (I think frenemies, rather than associates or allies, is the more accurate term for what they are), all of whom seem willing to sacrifice whatever principals they may have convinced themselves they hold for the perceived benefits of being in his circle of power, publicity, and influence.

But does anyone really love him, personally? Does anyone really love him enough to say what they would say to any other person they loved who was in a similar situation?

What you are doing– it’s not good for you.
You are hurting yourself; you are obviously in a great deal of pain…

Forget concern for their country (if they have any), for the moment.  If someone, anyone, truly loves This Man – even if they support his politics and think he is handling things “correctly” – wouldn’t they advise him that, for the sake of his physical, emotional and mental health, he needs to quit his toxic job, get some rest, and work on his well-being?

This Man is palpably, all-encompassingly, wretchedly, miserably, unhappy. I can’t think of a word strong and deep enough to convey what I think he “feels,” about his position in the world.

His faux gloating and/or triumphant expressions are just that – fake, a simulation of smirking indifference to hide his genuine  [3]  distress.

Like an addict, This Man doesn’t know how to stop what he’s doing.  And unlike many addicts, there seems to be no one who loves him, who will intervene and tell him the truth, and care about what he is doing to *himself.*

 

I would try to love him and tell him the truth if I could, but I’m just an adorable baby sloth in pajamas.

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Things I Meant To Do, But Couldn’t

Last week, in my post mentioning how “Jane Roe” was paid by the anti-abortion crowd to publicly flip her pro-choice position, I stated that the tactics used and falsehoods told by anti-abortionists don’t surprise many of us who’ve worked in women’s reproductive health care. I also wrote that I would tell a very specific story (my WEBA story) related to that in next week’s post, which – due to the earth’s rotating on its axis while it also circles the sun – is now this week’s post.

That was my intention last week. Then, there was this week, which made me feel this weak.

 

 

Given the blatant *murder* of yet another black man by yet another white police officer, yet again bringing our country’s inadequately addressed, systemic racism to the forefront; given the misunderstood-by-those-who-most-need-to-pay-attention protests, starting out peaceful then in some cases being hijacked by misdirecting looters; given, once again, the rhetoric of inflaming tension rather than calling for unity coming from the White House occupant, along with his subsequent, blasphemous   [4]  and constitutional-trashing church “visit”…. I barely had the emotional energy to type anything of interest.

Tune in next week for the story of the WEBA (hint: it is not a Smurf or other animated character). In hopes of a better next week, moiself  shall move on to what has become a barely tolerated highly anticipated blog feature of 2020.

*   *   *

Pun For The Day

I know a guy who’s addicted to brake fluid, but he says he can stop any time.

 

Can you, like, just tell me when I’m, like, supposed to laugh?

 

*   *   *

 

“Be a lamp, or a lifeboat, or a ladder”…
“…or a whoopee cushion.”

The quote is from the Persian poet Rumi,   [5]  the addendum courtesy of comic Paula Poundstone.  Sage advice from the timeless philosopher poet, with a jester’s timely codicil regarding our need for balance.

Yes, take what’s going on very seriously; take yourself not so seriously…  Also, take *care* of yourself, and someone else, if you can.

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

May you love someone enough to (at least) notice when they are hurting;
May you be a part of the solution by realizing you are a part of the problem;
May you be the whoopie cushion life so desperately needs right now;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

*   *   *

[1] As in, grumpy and crotchety.  The world needs this adjective. You’re welcome. And we all have an Aunt Erva in our lives (even if she sometimes assumes a form and/or gender other than that of your aunt).

[2] Which is in contrast to my gut reactions to This Man and what he does, which can be along the lines of, “This person needs to be ground underneath a stormtrooper’s boot….”

[3] And totally self-absorbed, of course.

[4] A term used by many Christians re the stunt he pulled at the DC church.

[5] Rumi was a 13th-century Persian poet, who today is one of the best selling (dead) poets in the USA.

The 2020 Mascot I Am Not Celebrating

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Department Of Questions That Have No Logical Answers   [1]

 

 

The realm in question:

Sci-fi and set-in-the-future movies and television shows.

The question for the realm:

Why are the (almost always male) directors’ and/or producers’ of such shows seemingly obsessed with bizarre/fantastical/just-plain-silly female hairstyles?

 

 

 

 

Kroika! Only he who is strong enough to remove this hibernating wolverine from my head shall be my mate.”

 

Do these men imagine that, in the future and/or “out in space,” the laws of gravity will not apply to hair proceeding from the scalps of both humanoid and alien women?

 

 

Just moiself  asking. Because, you know – science.

 

*   *   *

Department Of Surprise Of The Week
(As In, Are You Kidding – Not. At. All.)

AKA Jane Roe. Put that documentary on your streaming list. Highly recommended.

A bombshell documentary airing…on FX adds a final shocking twist to Norma McCorvey’s ideologically eventful life. In AKA Jane Roe, McCorvey offers what she calls a “deathbed confession”: Actually, she was basically pro-choice all along and only became a pro-life activist for the money. “It was a mutual thing,” she tells director Nick Sweeney. “I took their money, and they took me out in front of the cameras and told me what to say.” Sweeney displays tax documents revealing that McCorvey received at least $450,000 from pro-life groups over the course of her years as an activist, often classified as “benevolent gifts.”
(slate.com)

 

 

Apparently, there are some people who are shocked and/or disappointed to learn that Norma Jean McCarvey, aka “Jane Roe” in the 1973 Roe V. Wade SCOTUS decision, admitted she was paid for her notorious “flip-flop” – from pro-choice to anti-abortion – by the anti-abortion side.

In the final scene of “AKA Jane Roe,” a near-death McCorvey is asked if she felt she was a “trophy” to the pro-life movement, and she says, “Of course. I was the Big Fish. I took their money and they took me out in front of the cameras and told me what to say … I’m a good actress. Of course, I’m not acting now.”
(rogerebert.com review of AKA Jane Roe)

Such tactics are no surprise to many of us who have worked in women’s reproductive health care.  The anti-abortionists  [2]  use the ends-justifies-the-means excuses for their deception, propaganda, and outright pants-on-fire lies.

Moiself  has more stories than I care to recall, from both my days at Planned Parenthood and a private OB-GYN practice, having to do with women’s encounters with anti-choice exploiters activists. One of the ickiest stories I will detail in next week’s post.

One of my “favorite” such stories came from a PP I worked at, a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, in the Bay Area.  I was in the clinic’s lab, about to start the centrifuge, when I saw my co-worker, MT, exit the exam room across from the lab.  MT, known and admired by her coworkers for her serenity and equanimity, face-palmed her forehead as she scurried toward me, holding a pipette of her patient’s blood.  As she added her sample to the centrifuge, I asked her whence the WTF?!?! expression on her face.  She replied that her patient had come to PP after first going to one of those shit-faced, lying to women “Pregnancy Counseling Centers” which, its receptionist assured her when she telephoned for info, was a legitimate medical clinic. While the patient was waiting for her pregnancy test to be run, the center’s “counselor” told her that having an abortion would give her cancer (of her “womb”), which could then infect her husband’s reproductive tract.

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Why We’re On The Subject Of Lying To Women…And Men….

Division Of Taking A Break From Dissing My Religious Roots
And Going After Other Peoples’

Sub-Department Of More Fun With Movies

This next movie I recommend is not a documentary, ala AKA Jane Roe, but is an equally fascinating, disturbing, harrowing, and ultimately hopeful account of real-life events. It is based on Deborah Feldman’s  Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots Feldman’s memoir recounts growing up within, becoming estranged to, and finally escaping from her rigid Satmar Hasidic community in the Willamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn.

So. My thoughts after watching Netflix’s four-part series, Unorthodox:

 

 

I wonder how many of the residents of New York City’s most populous borough go about their daily business without giving a thought to the fact that, in their northwest corner, there is an entire community of people ruled by…mmm, how do I put this…mind-numbing, misogynistic mythological minutia.

I’ve heard of/read about the voluminous rules & regs of Hasidic life, but to be presented with the daily realities of the Satmar Hasids…yikes with a capital IKES. The sect’s many extremist emphases include an ultra-orthodox, anti-Zionist theology (they’re not fond of other [read: non-Hasidic] Jews, and particularly loathe the secular ones), and rejection of modernity.  As for the latter, they are able to interpret some amusing exceptions for themselves (surprise!).  For example, Satmar Hasids may have a cellphone, but not a ‘smart” phone – or any device with internet access (which would allow you to ask questions of/read opinions and facts presented by authorities other than your rabbi).

Satmar Hasids’ lives are a continual numerical equation of sorts, a computing and tracking of what must be done and when and how often – as well as, the biggest list of all, the thou-shall nots – all carried out within the confines of a close-knit (read: gossip-ridden and judgmental) community isolated from non-Jews, estranged from other (non-Hasidic) Jews, and centered around the dicta of a grand rabbi leader.   [3]

All of the minutia of rules rules rules – and did I mention, rules?  [4]  The most time-consuming, and physically and intellectually and sexually onerous and stifling “guidelines” and restrictions are (surprise, again!) applied to women.

 “Blessed are you, HaShem, King of the Universe,
for not having made me a gentile;”

“Blessed are you, HaShem, King of the Universe,
for not having made me a slave.”

“Blessed are you, HaShem, King of the Universe,
for not having made me a woman.

(2,000 year old prayer, from the Talmud, which Orthodox Jewish men are still supposed to recite every morning)

 

 

Hasids’ lives are directed by the triviality of detail, the constant accounting of everything – how many days for this, steps for that, when to touch or say or eat this and not that, what to cover and uncover  – lives prescribed and restricted by the rules that (they are taught) are from their god and are monitored by their god (and the other community members. You are always being watched).  Yet, somehow, there’s a subset of rules as to how you can circumvent the other rules  [5]   – which, remember, are from The King Of The Universe…who apparently isn’t paying enough attention to notice when his minions are doing an end run around his holy rules.

Adherents and supporters of such religious communities argue that those rules and rituals give meaning to life.  Moiself, along with those who have escaped from such constrictive communities, call claptrap and bullshit take strong issue with that claim.

When I’ve read and watched the stories of people who’ve fled such communities, it’s obvious to moiself  that the fulfillment of the religious rules – and the task of merely trying to keep track of all of them – takes up the majority of one’s time. This crucial phenomenon serves to keep the community running…even if it’s only on its own cultural hamster wheel.  As a member of the community you aren’t really doing anything other than upholding the community.  You are not doing, learning, or producing anything new/original. You’re not even thinking original thoughts, but merely “studying” those of your community’s founder, who presents himself as your god’s interpreter. And with all this you shall pass the time because…what else is there for you to do, that you are allowed to do?

 

 

And, oh, the pervasive and primitive misogyny at the root of the Hasid – of any religion’s – social regulations! The fear and mis-characterization of, and obsession with, female sexuality is ever present, despite the claims that the religion’s rules uphold the “beauty and sanctity of the marital relationship” (the ultimate purpose of which is to produce more human specimens for their god’s ant farm). Denying and obscuring and shaming, either directly or obliquely, is applied to the physical aspects of being human, the very aspects which supposedly stem from their creator-god. What a world of spiritual and cognitive dissonance – to honestly think about it would drive an introspective person mad. But, once again: ritual and rules to the rescue!

The detailed pro-and pre-scribing of peoples’ behavior – even their thoughts – is a highly effective form of crowd control.  The decrees and rituals to be learned and applied – the continuous “studying“ of them guarantees there will be no true contemplation going on…because you’re just too damn busy trying to remember it all (“Hmm; was that mitzvot 513 or 613?”).  A day is only so long; keeping your sect’s versions of physical, mental and spiritual “kosher” keeps you from having the time for the kind of thoughtful analysis of these superstitious burdens codes which would allow you to see through and escape from them.

Now then. To those of us who are giving ourselves the proverbial pat on the back re our relatively progressive take on things:  I can’t help but wonder how many “moderate” believers (of any religion) who’ll watch Unorthodox – or perhaps another depiction of an extremist/Fundy sect of their own faith – will cluck their tongues at the primeval actions and philosophies of the Fundies, and not realize their own proximity to such retrograde superstitions.

 

Yes, the same g-d who commands that we reject the homos is honored by our Nancy-boy curls and Ru-Paul-to-die-for hats, trust us.

 

If you are religious, those are your roots. You only are a few notches up the scale of modernity, if you try to apply Iron Age spirituality in the 21st century. You may reject or laugh at the claims of, say, your Fundy Christian cousins, but do you still, literally or figuratively, embrace the tenets of Christianity?   Do you, either with fellow worshipers in a god-box (temple, church) or alone in the privacy of your home, telepathically beseech and/or grovel to a cosmic Jewish zombie who was his own father and who can make you live forever if you symbolically cannibalize him (“take communion”) and telepathically tell him you accept him as your master so he can remove an evil force from your soul that is present in humanity because a rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical but forbidden tree?

Yep.  You’re not like those silly Fundies at all.

 

*   *   *

Department Of I Know The Year Isn’t Even Half Over Yet…

…but moiself  has a nomination for the Mascot For The Year 2020.

According to the Chinese Zodiac, we are in the Year of the Rat – although in my estimation, we have been ever since #45 took office.

 

 

 

Ahem. Ladies and Gentleman, for your consideration, I propose that 2020 may be declared The Year Of The Murder Hornet.

Yes, you heard me right:  THE MURDER HORNET. A name like that begs for all caps, n’est ce pas?

THE MURDER HORNET.

I am compelled to keep typing it. I so wish I was making this up – and so will you, if you read about this insect.  The name alone – do you even want to Google it?

 

 

*   *   *

Department of The Corona Virus Playlist
The 500 Greatest Songs Off All Time Edition

As per the Rolling Stone Magazine list[6]  Not to diss songs 101-500, but I culled the following entrants from the top 100 (’cause life is short and I like to eat dinner).

As with previous CVPs, moiself  has listed some of these song titles which are IMHO, applicable to our social-isolating, transmission–paranoid, COVID-19 times, and which, in small groupings, imply a related story. This time there’s no clue save for the song titles as to who the recording artists are (but few clues needed, given the RS list’s bold title).

 (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction
My Generation
Imagine
What’s Going On
Suspicious Minds

A Change Is Gonna Come
Blowin’ in the Wind
People Get Ready
A Day in the Life

Help!
I Walk the Line
Gimme Shelter
Let’s Stay Together
Let It Be

The Times They Are a-Changin’
The Weight
Heroes
Bridge Over Troubled Water

Walk On By
You Really Got Me
I Heard It Through the Grapevine
Every Breath You Take
Crazy

 

*   *   *

Pun For The Day

 

How does Moses make his tea? Hebrews it.

 

“Haven’t my people suffered enough?”

*   *   *

Department of Epicurean Excursion  Evolution  [7]

 

 

And here’s what I made for ours, one day this week – never mind.  EEE on hiatus this week. So, get your own damn dinner ideas.

 

*   *   *

May you never see a MURDER HORNET, even from a safe distance;
May you reject all belief systems which require you to wear silly hats;
May the month of June bring us closer to a cure from
COVID-19 (and MURDER HORNETS);
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

[1] Including why they often appear in moiself’s brain, seemingly apropos of nothing.

[2] They’re definitely not “pro-life” – (unless the life in question is fetal) as their other political views and polities indicate.

[3] In the Satmar community’s case, a Hungarian rabbi who migrated to the US with a group of followers after WWII.

[4] They are way too many to list; and many revolve around the paramount importance of maintaining what they define as physical modesty: bodies must be covered fully; all clothing is formal (or what as a child my family would have called “dress-up” clothes). Women’s skirts must hang a certain distance below the knees, shirt sleeves must  extend past the elbows, bodices must cover the collarbone. Satmar Hassids take the modesty rules to the extreme re women’s hair: when a girl marries she must shave her head, then wear a wig when she is in public (if she has no hair then she cannot possibly tempt a man with her hair, because he can’t possibly or even accidentally see her hair when she has no hair. A totally logical thing for an almighty deity to be concerned with.

* Young people are kept ignorant about their bodies; masturbation (and any sexual contact or knowledge) outside of marriage is forbidden; thus, marriages (arranged when the participants are between the ages of 17-19) are often consummated with the Hasidic bride essentially being raped by her husband.

* Women are considered ritually “unclean” for a period of 12 days each month (during and after menstruation). Husbands must not have physical contact with their wives until after she has had a Mikveh (ritual cleansing bath). There are scads of rules for pregnancy, including that a pregnant woman must not gaze at “non-kosher animals and other impure things.” A woman is ritually unclean for 7 days after birthing a boy and 14 days after having a girl.

* Husbands are “unclean” – but for only one day –  after ejaculating, and take a mikvah to restore ritual purity.

-You must pray three times a day, and make sure that on the Sabbath (Shabbos) each prayer session is longer than usual, and also study certain religious texts at certain times of the day for certain lengths of time (the primary role of Hasid women is wife and mother; because of this, women are excused from some commandments that require them to study/pray at certain times of day.)

* Work” is prohibited on the Sabbath. What is defined as work includes writing (or erasing!), tearing of paper, driving, shopping, using any electric device, cooking, laundry, cleaning, carrying any object outside of the home, handling money…. There is a maximum number of steps you may take on the Sabbath (again, as interpreted per your rabbi, and there are ways to define what is your home/community that can skirt this requirement).

 

[5] Hasidic Jews will ask or even hire a non-Jew, aka a “Shabbas goy,” to perform basic tasks – e.g. turning on a light or an air conditioner – which the Hasids are forbidden to do on the Sabbath. Yet, even then, the Hasids can’t be honest, to themselves or the goys, about how they are skirting this holy commandment of no work on the Sabbath.  When enlisting assistance they’ll try to avoid asking directly (“Would you please turn on the light for me?”); rather, they’ll drop hints and hope the goy will get it and help them (example: “It’s so hot in this room…if only the fan was turned on….”).

[6] Which was curated nine years ago, so yeah, an update may be needed.

[7] A recurring feature of this blog, since week 1 of April 2020, wherein moiself decided that moiself would do themes as listed in the 4-3-20 blog.

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