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The Scandal I’m Not Surprised By

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commie money

 

Department Of Maturity   [1]

I refer to what one friend has described as “that thing you do with money.”   [2]

Moiself has previously, in this space, mentioned doing that thing, which is “fixing” paper currency in order to reflect the way it should be – the way our money was, before amidst the 1950s Here Come the Commies! scare, when a minister talked President Eisenhower into adding In God We Trust to the back of the USA’s various dollar bills.

Wednesday, after receiving change from a purchase, I whipped out a pen and began my usual currency corrective.

 

 

money2

 

 

Only this time, for reasons that still eludes me, I turned the bill over and added a couple of facial hair adornments to our Boy George.  Doing so made me feel forty years younger, I swear.

 

 

money1

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of What Will It Take?

Stronger than the compassion I feel for the person who accidentally bumps his head into a brick wall is my WTF ?!?!?! mystification regarding, and contempt for, those who continues to beat their heads against a wall and then complain about having a concussion.

 

 

wall

“I don’t get it, why does this keep hurting?”

 

 

Again, and again, and again.  Folks, remaining in an organization which has committed atrocities and crimes, even if you voice your disapproval and intend to work for reform “from the inside the tent,” is acquiescing to – if not abetting – those very offenses.

I refer to the latest grand jury revelation of…

 

welk

A one and a two, all together now:

 

♫  Decades Of Child Sexual Abuse By Priests  ♫     [3]

 

This time, the grand jury report hails from Pennsylvania. The report, resulting from over two years of investigation and compilation, reinforces the impression that the most sophisticated crime syndicate could take a page from the Roman Catholic Church’s playbook when it comes to systematic, systemic and strategic cover-ups of felony behavior.

Drug lords paying off district attorneys and cops pales in comparison to the church’s:

…breathtakingly horrific…scope of sexual abuse of children. (the report) chronicles in detail how the Catholic hierarchy from the diocese to the Vatican worked not only mitigate the church’s legal exposure, but to maintain strategies to “avoid scandal.”
( The grand jury report about Catholic priest abuse in Pennsylvania shows the church is a criminal syndicate, Anthea Butler,
Associate professor of religious studies, University of Pennsylvania)

 

 

sin

 

 

 

Yesterday morning I was listening to (the NPR radio show) Here & Now ‘s interview with James Faluszczak, a former Catholic priest.  Faluszczak was himself molested by a priest and was one of the many victims – out of an estimated one thousand in Pennsylvania– who testified to the grand jury about the abuse.

Near the end of the interview, the Here & Now host wondered aloud if Faluszczak still identifies with his church.  Alone in my car, I yelled out the answer I hoped to hear from any sane and sentient being: an indignant, FUCK NO. Instead, I listened in sorrowful – if unsurprised – disgust to the following exchange:

Host: “Are you still a Catholic?”

Faluszczak: Absolutely.

Host: Why?

Faluszczak: “I have a sense that God has a relationship with me, that I have a relationship with Christ, and that is mediated through ritual, and so the rituals of the church are still important to me….

 

 

REALLY

 

 

Bingo.  This is why such abuse happens and even flourishes: the fact that there are too many people who do not remove their allegiance from that which is corrupt. Such abuse will continue to happen, in one form of another, if people have the credulity to embrace superstition and mythology and allow reality to be “mediated” in any way, but especially “through ritual.”

 

 

wtf

 

 

Mr.  Faluszczak….dude.  I’m sorry for what happened to you, and thanks for testifying to the investigation.  [4]  I’ve no doubt think you are a force for good, but by continuing to stay in the church/identify as a Catholic you are in fact an enabler of the very evil you claim to be disgusted by.

You say you “sense” you have a relationship with this Christ, who, according to your Catholic/Christian theology, is your “savior.” Your god/savior did nothing to save – let me pick just one example from the thousands upon thousands of cases worldwide   [5] –  a seven year old girl from the physical and emotional brutality of having one of your god’s mediators rape her while she was hospitalized for a tonsillectomy.   [6]

Such a deity, if it actually existed, deserves to be spat upon instead of having “a relationship with.” 

 

 

“Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.”
(Voltaire)

*   *   *

Department Of There’s More Than One Way To Abuse A Child

 

 

Dawkins

 

 

 

 

*   *   * 

cant-we-talk-about-something-more-pleasant-a-memoi

A great book, as well as a good segue to a slightly less icky topic.

 

*   *   *

Department Of In God(s) You May Not Trust, But Believe Your Nose

If, when you get dressed in the morning to go for a walk, you sense that your daughter’s otherwise adorable Bengal kitty – which you are caring for while your daughter is doing a six-month post-college internship in a wildlife sanctuary in Arkansas – has peed in your basket of exercise socks, ditch the incredulity, for that is indeed what has happened.

 

 

 

 

yetipee

What a cute object. I think I’ll piss on it.

 

 

 

*   *   *

 

 

May you have the courage not abet the abominable;
May you neither believe absurdities nor commit atrocities;
May you trust your nose, especially when putting on your socks;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] Which, I am told, is going to happen to me any minute now.

[2] And moiself is not the only god-free person who does this. It is an easy form of activism, meant to provoke thought on the issue (or knotted knickers for the Christian Fundies – I’ll settle for either).

[3] Which should be the name of a punk rock band.

[4] And for attempting,as he did for decades, to report his abuse, to his superiors and then fellow priests, only to have his testimony – SURPRISE! – totally ignored. He of course should have gone directly to the police….

[5] There are so many they merit their own Wikipidia page, which lists the scandals per country.

[6] “The depravity of the abuse…I can’t even begin to describe,” Faluszczk said during the interview, when he was asked if the revelations shocked him.

The Book I’m Not Finishing

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Department Of I Should Have Known Better

It was a podcast that sent me back to the book, this time.  By the book I mean the book I should have finished reading several ( as in, almost ten ) years ago.  Do you know what I mean?

 

Of course you don’t. Because I am the only person on this planet who does what I am about to describe.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali came to the attention of the wider world in an extraordinary way. In 2004 a Muslim fanatic, after shooting the filmmaker Theo van Gogh dead on an Amsterdam street, pinned a letter to Mr. van Gogh’s chest with a knife. Addressed to Ms. Hirsi Ali, the letter called for holy war against the West and, more specifically, for her death.
A Somali by birth and a recently elected member of the Dutch Parliament, Ms. Hirsi Ali had waged a personal crusade to improve the lot of Muslim women. Her warnings about the dangers posed to the Netherlands by unassimilated Muslims made her Public Enemy No. 1 for Muslim extremists….
The circuitous, violence-filled path that led Ms. Hirsi Ali from Somalia to the Netherlands is the subject of “Infidel,” her brave, inspiring and beautifully written memoir…..
Ms. Hirsi Ali describes a journey “from the world of faith to the world of reason,” a long, often bitter struggle to come to terms with her religion and the clan-based traditional society that defined her world and that of millions of Muslims all over.

The book I’m not finishing is the much-praised (as per the above excerpts from William Grimes’ review in the New York Times) Infidel: My Life, by Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

I have had the Infidel book for…I don’t know how long.  [1]  And I have started reading it….I don’t know many times. Last weekend, as I have done before (and before and before and before), I found the book in my stash pile, started over (it had been at least a year since my last attempt), then, once again, set it aside.  I haven’t been able to read past the chapter in which the author – using an almost journalistic,  dispassionate prose style I’ve come to recognize as being common to PTSD survivors – describes her horrific torture and mutilation at that age 5, when she (and her younger sister) underwent the barbaric procedure of FGM or female genital mutilation (which was, and in some cases still us, euphemistically and mistakenly referred to, by the countries and cultures and religions that practiced and/or mandated it, as “female circumcision”  [2]  ).

Ms. Hirsi Ali’s bravery seemingly knows few bounds; she is a passionate and articulate activist for feminism,  human rights, free speech and freedom from religion, despite being under constant fatwas or death threats from Muslim extremists  (ala another ex-Muslim writer, Salman Rushdie, who lived for years in virtual exile).  [3]    I’ve read/heard  excerpts of Hirsi Ali’s other works and speeches;  I know she is respected in the free speech and Freethinker communities, and I feel that, in order to respect her work, I need to read her influential memoir in its entirety….

And yet I just can’t get past her recounting of the misogynistic, life-negating, barbarism, which – as is the norm in FGM – was arranged and abetted by trusted family members. I know she survives her ordeal and eventually escapes from other self -negating circumstances (including an arranged marriage)…but the FGM was done to her when she was only five years old, and moiself, perhaps immaturely but self-protectively, wonders how much more deprivation, ignorance and brutality is going to be served up until I can get to the Triumph-Over-Adversity ® chapters?

What am I, some kind of intellectual coward?

 

 

chickens

 

 

 

As a long-time feminist activist with a background in reproductive health care, I am no stranger to the horrific reality of FGM.  Still, it affects me in ways that reading about other brutalities (e.g. war; serial murders) do not, possibly in part for the personal/worldwide/political ramifications of such a primitive, atrocious, spirit-crushing, female-hating ritual.

I’m wondering if others have had the same problem, when it comes to reading about gruesome trauma?  There have been other books I’ve read, usually memoir other non-fiction, where I have been unable to get past certain passages, then felt it was somehow disrespecting the integrity of the work as a whole to continue reading the book via skipping problematic passages or chapters, so I set the books aside for a few months…but eventually tackled them again and was able to finish. But, in this case, I’m talkin’ years of avoidance.

And now, once again, the Serious Book ®  – which I’ve come to view as a literary equivalent to cleaning behind the refrigerator, taking cod liver oil, and memorizing the capital cities of all fifty states (i.e., daunting tasks that are supposed to be “good for me”) sits on my nightstand, atop my I’ll-get-to-it-eventually pile.  [4]  Not that I’m paranoid or anything, but I swear the book’s front cover has been glaring at me disapprovingly, each night since I set it atop my reading pile, as it sees me open the literary equivalent of Twinkies on my Kindle reader: two other memoirs (one of a recently deceased actor and the other of a punk/pop “princess”).   [5]

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of You Had To Be There

Sighting of week: Dateline, Monday morning, just before 7: 30 am. A big ass truck (y’all know the kind) pulls into the driveway of a house I am approaching on my morning walk.

 

 

big truck

This about captures the size ratio.

 

 

 

The driver’s door opens, and inside the big ass truck I espy a very petite, very blonde, very, very pregnant young woman. Dwarfed by the mammoth vehicle, she exits the cab by somehow sliding down the side of it (the truck has no cab step). She manages to land gracefully and delicately on her tiny feet, then waddles toward the house.

On the one hand, nothing remarkable, right? On the other hand…I have different fingers.

 

 

bearmeme

 

 

Sorry.

On the other hand, it seemed like a noteworthy feat for me to bear witness to, let alone for the Very Petite, Very Blonde, Very, Very Pregnant Young Woman ® to accomplish. The image has been coming back to me all week, and has served as a reminder that there is a kind of extraordinary grace – even beauty – to be found in ordinary situations.

 

*   *   *

Department Of If You Haven’t Got Anything Nice To Say, Come Sit By Me

Dateline: last week, driving to the beach.  I took one of my favorite “shortcuts” from the Sunset Highway to the coast – a very windy, two lane road snaking through the Nehalem River Valley, Route 53,  which MH and refer to as Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride – and stopped for lunch at a café off of Highway 101. I’ve eaten at the café many times in the past few months; I’ve found the service is friendly, and the food a notch above standard diner fare if mostly unremarkable.

There was much food remarking that day, however, between a young man working at the café and an older couple who were seated at a table near the door. The café is small, and I couldn’t help but hear the conversation, which began with the couple complimenting their lunches (“This is hands down the best food we’ve had on the coast!  [6]  ) to the young man when he refilled their water glasses. They asked him for dining recommendations as they headed north; the young man enthused about a Thai restaurant up north of Astoria, then the three of them began discussing other local dining options

The couple said they’d heard about a new restaurant in Manzanita, which several people had recommended to them, but it had a crazy (to them) name:  YolkWhose idea was it to call a restaurant, Yolk? the man chuckled. It’s not very appealing, but their food is good, I hear. Maybe, a little on the fancy side?”

“It’s hard to imagine it would be as good as this,” said the woman, indicating with her fork the mass various yellow, fried items on her plate.

Young Café Man thanked them again, and said he thought that his café’s food could stand up to that of any other restaurant, including the “high end” ones, like Yolk.  He treaded lightly at first – he said he had friends who’d dined at the new place and liked it – then he dove right in.

“I don’t want to knock another local place…. Young Café Man said (as he proceeded to do so). “Fancier places like Yolk have a impressive menu and all. But most people don’t realize we local restaurants all  get our food from the same suppliers, then they serve the same thing – they serve the same French fries we do – only  call it something different and charge four bucks more a plate for it….”

And there I sat, eating my Gardenburger, trying not to smirk as I realized that holding my tongue when I first heard the mention of Yolk was a good idea. I was going to offer, after the man had said their food is good, I hear, that indeed, IMHO, Yolk’s food is not only good but great – in fact, Yolk was my favorite place in on the coast for breakfast and I would highly recommend it, for the incredible, tasty, creative menu items, a visually appealing dining space and friendly service….

But if I had done so, perhaps I wouldn’t have had the guilty pleasure of listening in on Young Café Man’s bogus claim about Yolk’s food sources.

Yo, Young Café Man: it’s one thing to share your opinion – to which of course you are entitled.  But when you start making allegedly factual statements that are untrue….

“… then they serve the same thing – they serve the same French fries we do – only  call it something different and charge four bucks more a plate for it….”

 

 

 

we are not amused

 

 

 

 

Young Café Man, I have many meals at your restaurant, and also at the restaurant you unjustly disparaged.  Not only does Yolk have an entirely different menu than your establishment,  [7]   they do not, in fact, “serve the same French fries.”  Thus, I assume you were just talking out of your ass.  Let’s hope your restaurant doesn’t cook that way.

 

 

 

ass

“You want to cook out of my what?”

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of And One More Thing

BTW, when you’re in Manzanita, be sure to get either breakfast or lunch at Yolk. Owner Connie and staff will take good care of you. Their lemon ricotta pancakes are rave-worthy, their take on huevos rancheros (served atop a delectable grilled cornmeal patty instead of a corn tortilla) is sublime, and whatever you order, be sure to get the molasses oatmeal bread. My go-to favorite is their roast veggie hash (with just the right touch of harissa, a simple yet inventive touch rarely found in a breakfast dish.  Yummers!).

 

 

 

yolk

 

 

*   *   *

 

May you be able to see the grace and beauty in mundane situations;
May you have the courage to finish the books that need finishing;
May you know the difference between expressing an opinion
and unfairly dissing a competitor;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

 

 

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

*   *   *

 

[1] I purchased it not long after it was released, so it could be as long as 10+ years.

[2] FGM could only be compared to male circumcision if male circumcision involved the excision of the entire penis, rather than a portion of the skin of the tip of the penis.

[3] And then in the good ole USA, Hirsch Ali had an invitation for an honorary degree withdrawn from the university that extended the honor, after her telling the unvarnished truth criticisms of Islam’s treatment of women was called, “hate speech.”

[4] Well, at least it’s at the top of the pile.

[5] Respectively, IN THE PRESENCE OF GREATNESS: My Sixty-Year Journey as an Actress, by Patty Duke, and Lips unsealed: A Memoir, by the Go-Gos Belinda Carlisle.  I purchased both of them within minutes of putting down Infidel.

[6] To which I thought, “This is your first day on the trip?”

[7] I double-checked, both in person and online, to make sure my memory was correct.

The Deal I’m Not Smelling

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

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

 

 

fingers

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Any Questions, Class?

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

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

 

journalism101

 

*   *   *

Department Of Life Imitating Art

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

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

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

“He who smelt it, dealt it.”

 

 

spocklogic

 

 

 

*   *   *

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

facepalm

 

 

Oh. Dear.

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

lions and tigersjpg

Skeptics, Freethinkers and Brights, oh my!

 

 

 

 

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

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

 

 

hellowerethehendersons

 

 

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

( Sam Harris, Letter to a Christian Nation )

 

*   *   *

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

*   *   *

 

 

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

[2] Title of the year, or what?

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

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

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

The Movie I’m Not Reviewing

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

 

 

bored-in-movie-theater

Let the excitement begin.

 

 

 

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

 

your movie

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of I Miss Roger Ebert   [1]

 

I’m just sayin.’

 

 

 

 

hatedthismovie

 

 

 

hate2

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Unsung Heroes

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

 

 

tomi

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

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

clark

 

 

 

 

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

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

 

 

batman

 

 

 

 

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

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

 

 

pigsing

 

 

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

 

 

poopfling

“But, Hillary’s emails !!!!”

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

 

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

 

 

 

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

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

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

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

[4] Temporarily, I hope.

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

[6] Including ultimately, this blog?

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

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

The Nazis I’m Not Comparing Us To

2 Comments

Department Of Missing The Point

“Here’s a reminder for the President and his team, who have conveniently omitted the second half of Romans 13… ”
(seemingly every other post, by liberal Christians, on Facebook,
re the separating-immigrant-families issue)

 

(Some) Christians have been saying, to some of their fellow Christians, that a-man-who-seemingly-would-have-been-ok-with-Nazi-Germany’s-eugenics-programs US Attorney General Jeff Sessions, by quoting the first half of the (biblical book) Romans chapter 13, is missing the point. This is because, these some Christians say, the obey-your-government-because-is-established-by-god    [1]  verses are followed by verses declaring that to love others and do no harm to neighbors is the fulfillment of the law.

While always grateful for Christians who attempt to correct their own, we Brights and Humanists and Freethinkers and Atheists , as well as many of our fellow citizens who are Buddhist, Jewishs, Baha’I, Hindu, Muslim and other minority religious beliefs, are waving from the sidelines, yoo-hooing at the trying-to-do-a-good-thing Christians –  our associates in democracy – with this reminder:

It doesn’t matter if the morally bankrupt, scripturally illiterate minions of #45’s cabinet get their biblical quotations “right.”   The plethora of GodBlessAmerica bullshit rhetoric heard at far too many sporting events and political rallies aside, the USA, This Great Country Of Ours, ®  is – and was deliberately and carefully established as – a secular government.

Translation: what your scriptures may or may not say re government policies don’t mean diddlysquat.

 

 

understand

 

 

We are not a theocracy; we are not Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Iran, Sudan, The Vatican, nor any of the other countries whose rulers and/or legal system claims divine authority.

When it comes to our laws and policies, please, everybody – yep, even y’all who quote your religion’s “nice stuff”  [2]  stop citing your scriptures. At. All.  The only documents which should be referred to, adhered to – and amended, when necessary – are our country’s laws and the U.S. Constitution – which, ahem, is a “god-free”  document which cites no deities and mentions religion only twice, and then in exclusionary terms:

* -“…no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”    [3]

* “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof….”  [4]

So, the “nice” Christians want to quote their verses on treating neighbors kindly; well, I hope that in their personal lives, these folks do strive to act with compassion.  I also hope that one day their reasons – that everyone’s reasons –  for treating their fellow human beings with decency are not dependent on some suggestion from An Invisible Friend, but are based on the recognition that their fellow human beings are, indeed, just that.

 

 

slavery

 

 

 

Morality and ethics should not be based on the whims of a capricious, primitive, blood sacrifice-demanding deity, who in one of his stories, may speak briefly on how you might be nice to your neighbor, and then go on to give explicit instructions to his devotees as to how they should

* punish and/or kill neighbors who don’t worship like you do, or are suspected of being “witches” or “fortunetellers” or homosexuals, or who don’t worship like you – hell, kill the entire town of neighbors if one person among them worships another god

* turn the captured females of your neighbors (whom you’ve defeated in war) to sex slaves

* set a price for selling a raped girl to her rapist   [5]

* if you are a slave, respect and obey your master, and if you do something wrong, even if you don’t know it was wrong, expect to be beaten or even killed  [6]

 

The alleged musings of an ancient deity – and respect given to such by its followers – are (or should be) irrelevant to US policy on immigration…or anything else.

I’m not going to heed the scripture citer who tells me to do something “mean” because his god has established it (“Look, it says so, right here, in First Contradictions chapter 5….”), just as I’m not going to heed the scripture citer telling me to do something they interpret as “nice” because their god says so (“Look, what is *really* says is right here….”).  Dueling mythological extracts don’t cut it – you must appeal with facts, and reason, and compassion. I heed the humanistic principles of common moral decencies, including

* altruism, integrity, honesty, truthfulness, responsibility;
*  a sense of ethics amendable to critical, rational guidance
* there are normative standards that we discover together
* moral principles are tested by their consequences

 

 

slothinbox

” ‘Be nice, and don’t be in a hurry.’ I think that’s a tenet in my Holy Sloth scriptures…but it might take me a while to thumb through the texts.”

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of I’ve One Question For Supporters Of Jeff Sessions And His Employer  [7]

Since y’all (conservatives) tend to give a hearty Hear, hear! to a bible quote about obeying the government, what’s all this then, with y’all’s slavering opposition to the Affordable Care Act?  Since, as you claim to believe, governments are established by your deity, yours obviously approved of “Obamacare,” seeing as how he established its namesake for *two* terms as your president.

 

 

 

justsayin

Neil Degrass Tyson wants to know…and so do I.

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of The Five Word Phrase My Father Would Use
To End A Topic He Didn’t Want To Talk About Any More
(“Well, That’s Enough About That.”)

One more thing. As for the policy itself, of taking families entering the country illegally and separating the children from their parents, yes, it is cruelty bordering on barbarism. And for those   [8]  crying about what is happening,

“This is not who we are!”

“We (as Americans) don’t do this!”

…and who are doing so sincerely…um…

 

 

REALLY

 

 

…have you being paying attention?

Apparently, something else “we” don’t do is understand or admit to our own history. In fact, “this” – and a whole lot more nasty stuff – is indeed what we do; and therefore, regrettably but truly, it is a part of who and what we are. From African slavery to the eviction and genocide of indigenous peoples (and removing their children to boarding schools) to denial of civil/legal rights according to gender and…and…and….

We “do this.”

What we also do, seemingly/sometimes at a snail’s pace, is recognize and try to correct injustices.  So, go for it, y’all. But quoting your – or anybody’s – scriptures on Facebook is pissing in the wind

 

 

*   *   *

 

 

 

May we all recognize the kind of government we have;
May we all work for the kind of government we want;
May we be never be subject to the government we may deserve;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

 

 

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] A few of those verses from Romans 13 are quoted frequently by conservatives, who then – surprise! – also stop the quotes before the verses  which talk about why believers should pay their taxes.

[2] And conveniently ignoring the barbarism found within your scriptures. I mean, I’m glad you pick and choose and pick the nice stuff…but how do you justify ignoring the rest?

[3] US Constitution, (Article VI, Section 3)

[4] (from the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution)

[5] 50 shekels, as per Deuteronomy, but I’m sure the god would recognize inflation and allow for upping the fee

[6] Hey, nice one, Jesus!  (Luke 12 & Matthew 24)

[7] Like they are flocking in droves to read this blog.

[8] Sorry, but it seems to be mostly white people.

The Pity I’m Not Tempering

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

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

 

 

 

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

 

*   *   *

Department Of Justifying Eating Movie Popcorn On A Daily Basis

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

 

 

stonehenge

 

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

Ah, but I digress.

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

 

groover

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

 

 

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

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

 

 

immature

 

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

 

claws

 

 

 

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

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

Just wondering.

 

*   *   *

different

*   *   *

Department Of Being Thankful To, And For, Ronan Farrow

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

snowden

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of I Am Somewhat Puzzled By My Second Reaction

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

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

 

 

sad sloth

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

 

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

*   *   *

 

 

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

[2] She is Canadian; he is Swedish.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Sights I’m Not Lowering

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Department Of Check The Definition Before You Use The Word

progressive
adjective

pro·gres·sive  \ prə-ˈgre-siv \

1 a : of, relating to, or characterized by progress
b : making use of or interested in new ideas, findings, or opportunities
c : of, relating to, or constituting an educational theory marked by emphasis on the individual child, informality of classroom procedure, and encouragement of self-expression
2 : of, relating to, or characterized by progression
3 : moving forward or onward : advancing….

(Merriam Webster Dictionary)

Y’all get the idea.

Unless you’re referring to that pesky red rash on your patootie, something that is progressive  is generally…well, what would Jesus Martha say?

 

 

 

martha

 

 

Of course, the idea of progress and improvement and using education and reason to move forward has long proved threatening to many religious leaders.

Reason is a whore, the greatest enemy that faith has….”
(16th century Protestant reformation leader Martin Luther )

And now we have mean-spirited Christian nationalist Billy Boy’s son Franklin Graham flogging a 21st century version of religion’s fear of progress.

“Progressive? That’s just another word for godless.“
(Franklin Graham, from “The Evangelical Fight to Win Back California.”
New York Times, 5-27-18 )

Hell yeah.

Frankie G., please know that you are welcome to take your traveling circus tent show and leave California – and please skip Oregon while you’re out west – and all states exhibiting progressive values – and go back to the safety of the Iron Age mythology/superstition rock you have crawled out from under.

 

 

religion1jpg

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of While We’re On The Subject Of Leaving The Dark Ages

Ireland Votes to End Abortion Ban, in Rebuke to Catholic Conservatism

Not long after seeing this welcome and long-overdue headline,  [1]   I saw another headline, about how the pope was “setting his sights lower” – as in, concentrating missionary efforts in the countries of South  American and Africa – now that Ireland seems to be going the way of other European countries (read: throwing off  centuries of Roman Catholic oppression and influence).

Many people are “crediting” the late   [2]  Dr. Savita Halappanavar‘s (and her grieving husband’s) pitiless and primitive treatment (read: lack of it) at an Irish (read: Catholic) hospital in 2012 as yet another prime motivator in the fight to overturn Ireland’s abortion restrictions. You may remember (or have tried to forget) reading about Dr. Halappanavar’s horrific death – which was commented upon by moiself,  here,

Halappanavar, a 31-year-old, 17-weeks pregnant dentist, presented with severe back pain at Galway University Hospital in late October. After doctors confirmed she was miscarrying, Ms. Halappanavar asked for a medical termination. Savita’s husband, Praveen Halappanavar, an engineer at Boston Scientific in Galway, says his wife asked several times over a three-day period that the pregnancy be terminated, but her request was refused because the fetal heartbeat was still detected (“This is a Catholic country,” Savita and Praveen were told). Savita spent a further three days “in agony” until the fetal heartbeat stopped, after which the doctors removed the dead fetus and took Savita to the intensive care unit, where she died of septicemia.

Heart-wrenching, scandalous, deplorable, merciless, primitive, callous – of the many dreadful descriptions  that can be applied to this travesty of medical “care,” surprising isn’t one of them. This is what happens, outrageously but totally predictably, when governments allow interpretations of Iron Age mythologies to influence and even dictate 21st century medical decisions.
As Irish Parliament member Clare Daly pointed out, 
“An unviable fetus…was given priority over a woman’s life.”

 

So, yeah.

As to the pope “setting his sights lower” re the RC church concentrating its missionary efforts on South America & Africa, in the wake of Ireland’s vote signaling the waning of influence of RCs in Europe…Hey, you – dude in the pointy hat –

 

 

pope

You talkin’ to me?

 

 

…don’t’ let the shamrock hit you in the ass on your way out the door. And be sure to take your snake charming charlatan saints with you.

 

 

 

SPDMyth

 

 

 

Aye, the RC missionaries, as per their own PR, drove out the old evil pagan ways of Ireland…and brought with them…oh yes, what is it they forget to mention? Maybe it’s how they subsequently brought in their new evil ways, including Catholicism’s “empire of misogyny,” enslavement of “fallen women,”  [3] restriction of medical care, religious and educational discrimination, child and adult sexual abuse by priests ….  [4]

 

*   *   *

May you understand the implications of progression;
May you be a part of any movement that causes a pope to set his sights lower;
May you continue to be patient with this blog, even when it strays too far into current events/politics and thus fails to deliver even one rousing fart joke;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

*   *   *

 

 

[1] for Freethinkers and anyone who cherishes religious, political and scientific freedom.

[2] “late’ as in, dead due to religiously mandated, medieval medical care restrictions.

[3] E.g. the Magdalene Laundries.

[4] There could be a bajillion other footnotes even more depressing.

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