“We’re so used to talking about who women are being
than about what they achieve.
And we’re so accustomed to putting attention on what men can achieve (or are perceived to achieve) versus who they are being.
We take this state of affairs so much for granted, that it’s almost invisible. Just think how much a woman running for office is scrutinized for how she speaks and dresses versus what she’s achieved in her decades-long career.
Meanwhile, a man can be a genuine predator, yet what he has done and what he’s perceived to be able to get done comes first and foremost
in how he’s evaluated.
We are obsessed with what men *do* and how women *are*.
Britney Spears is 10 years old, Ed McMahon is 69. She has just given a jaw-dropping performance in a TV singing competition. He approaches her. He comments on the 10-year old prodigy’s “pretty eyes,” rather than her powerful voice, and then asks: “Do you have a boyfriend?” “No, sir” she retorts politely. “Why not?” presses Ed. “Because they’re mean,” insists little Britney. He leans over her. “But what about me?”
* * *
Department Of Dressing Up At Home
Dateline: Last Sunday eve, watching the Golden Globe Awards. ‘Tis our family tradition (previously mentioned in this venue, including here and here) of having a movie awards watching party (not any old awards show – just the “biggies,” as in the Oscars, Emmys, Golden Globes, and Tonys…and two of those don’t involve movies, but you get the idea) whilst consuming “movie food,” which is defined as hot dogs,  popcorn, chips & guac, Skittles and Junior Mints and Red Vines licorice and/or your favorite movie theatre candies and snacks, washed down with liberal amounts of a sparkling beverage.
Due to the you-know-what-19 pandemic, this year the party was toned down, both on our viewing end and on the GG presenting end. Friend LAH has been part of our tradition for years, and she joined MH and I for our distanced and masked celebration, along with our son, K (who is full vaccinated – we are all jealous, but that’s what working in medical research gets you).
The GG’s toned-down format was regretful. Part of the fun of watching the GGs is that the nominees are seated at tables, drinking and eating and drinking and chatting and drinking, and did I mention drinking? Thus, the atmosphere – and the acceptance speeches – tend to be looser (read: funnier and drunker) than the staid-by-comparison Oscars.
One bonus of this year’s show was getting to see many of the nominees in their homes (in some case, with their kids,who were so excited about Mom or Dad winning an award, which was adorable). Their attire ranged from Jason Sudeikis’ excessively casual, I’ll-never-win-so-I’m-going-to-be-comfy sweatsuit hoodie, to others who dressed as if they were headed for the red carpet interview (when we know they are in fact home, alone, counting the minutes until they can cover their Zoom screen and dash to the kitchen to scarf a fistful of Doritos during the commercial breaks).
In the latter category was Rosamund Pike, winner for Best Actress in a Motion Picture Musical or Comedy for I Care A Lot. Pike unexpectedly supplied us with a great GG moment – not as great as the likely-never-to-be-equaled Best Acceptance Speech Ever ® (given by Sacha Baron Cohen, 2007 winner for Best Actor in a Motion Picture Musical or Comedy, which can be seen in its glorious entirety here), but we still appreciated it.
This picture doesn’t do justice to the delightfully bizarre, horizontally expansive dress worn by Pike. I’m wondering if she would have worn it had the GG’sbeen in their usual venue – she would have had to sit at a table by herself, as there would be no room on the sides for anyone else. MH and I were reminded of The Nutcracker Ballet’s Mother Ginger, the character who…well, for a moment we expected a bunch of polichinelles to come scurrying out from under Pike’s voluminous hoopskirts….
Although I enjoyed the comic relief supplied by Pike’s dress, moiself didn’t want it to distract from why she won the award. So MH and I watched “I Care A Lot.” And you should, too. A perfect performance by Pike in a perfectly peculiar and entertaining film.
* * *
Department Of Dialog Which Causes Me To Spit Out What I Was Chewing And Guffaw Aloud, Alone, At The TV
Dateline: a weekend ago, having dinner by moiself, watching the streaming show, “Resident Alien.” As per the show’s website, RA is about an alien who
“…crash lands on Earth and must pass himself off as small-town human doctor Harry Vanderspeigle. Arriving with a secret mission to kill all humans, Harry starts off living a simple life…but things get a bit rocky when he’s roped into solving a local murder and realizes he needs to assimilate into his new world.”
Harry is played by the marvelous Alan Tudyk,  who gives Harry hard-to-describe verbal and physical mannerisms which are, IMHO, totally believable and consistent with what you might expect from a character who is the equivalent of the offspring of the proverbial fish-out-of-water and a precocious adolescent with Asperger’s syndrome…in other words, an ET who gets his ideas of human behavior – and a doctor’s “expertise” – from binge-watching episodes of Law and Order and consulting his cellphone for medical information.
The dialog to which I refer comes from episode two, during Harry’s first day at the town’s medical clinic. Standing outside the clinic’s exam room, reading the chart of a patient he is scheduled to see, Harry thinks, “I was a scientist on my planet so this is easy for me,” referring to his conception of human doctors spending years in medical school to learn a procedure as simple as burning off a wart. “All I need is the internet and I can graduate in five minutes.”
Harry enters the clinic’s exam room, staring at the chart in his hands. A woman is lying on the exam table, her feet in the stirrups. He doesn’t even look at he as he sits down at the exam stool at the end of the table, by her feet. “Okay, let’s take a look at that nasty thing,” he says, as he lifts the paper sheet covering her from the waist down. He drops the sheet, stands up, and blurts out, “You’re not a 12-year boy with a wart.”
The patient, a sardonic woman (who how you say, probably gets around), chuckles, “Well, I’m not a 12-year-old boy…”
The clinic’s nurse quickly apologizes, grabs the chart from Harry’s hand, and replaces it with the female patient’s chart, whom, the nurse tacitly explains to Harry, is in urgent need of a pelvic exam (“We had to move her up from tomorrow.”).
Harry had googled wart removal, not pelvic exam. “Pelvic exam…” Harry repeats, stalling for time. Both the nurse and the patient urge him to hurry things up; we see his head disappear beneath the sheet; he takes a look and triumphantly announces,
“Oh, okay, I see your problem – you sat on an earring!”
The patient flinches as Harry tugs at (what we assume is) her labial piercing. “No – ah, no!” she gasps, “That’s – that’s supposed to be there.”
You sat on an earring. I’m still dying, a week later. 
* * *
Pun For The Day, Alien Doctor Edition
I heard a joke about amnesia, but I forgot how it goes.
* * *
May you never have cause for a doctor, or anyone, to think you sat on an earring; May you disregard the unsolicited advice – about anything – from men wearing medieval cassocks and quoting Iron Age scriptures; May you fantasize delivering an acceptance speech to rival Sacha Baron Cohen’s; …and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 Yes, that doesn’t qualify as “food,” and I have the plant-based version.
 Little children/clowns, depending on the production of the ballet.
Department Of This Is Why I’m Not In Charge Of Such Things
Dateline: Thursday (yesterday), 2-18-21, 12 noonish; watching coverage of the Perseverance rover landing on Mars.  There was plenty of time to consider the ground-breaking implications of space exploration for humanity while all the TV talking heads filled the time until the actual landing. Thus, I got to wondering: what is it about the names of these planetary probes – who gets to choose them, and what are the guidelines?
It seems NASA’s Mars program is partial to names denoting desirable/adventurous personality traits. The launch and landing stages of the probes are certainly WOWevents. But I’m thinking of the decades of the less glamorous work behind the scenes to get these devices to those stages. What about honoring the less flashy but essential characteristics necessary for progress and harmony, when you’re working for years with a team of people, sometimes under stressful circumstances?
I humbly submit my nominations for the names of future Mars (or, Jupiter or…?) rovers:
Respectful Personal Hygiene
Introducing NASA’s next Mars Rover, “Fiscal Responsibility”
* * *
Department Of More Lists
I overheard a conversation in a grocery store between two employees, something about “…best inventions of the century.” We’re only one fift into the 21st century, but of course (as moiself discovered when I returned home and Googled the concept) individuals, news organizations and other companies have already started compiling lists.
Most of them overlap; “best” is of course a subjective rating; some of the entries, it could be argued, span both centuries (do you count an invention as being of this century on the date it became available to the public/was put into use, or the date when someone first started working on it?) .  All that considered, the more common entries include
Not only it is a great product, the makers of Poo-Pourri are responsible for arguably The. Funniest. Product. Commercial. Ever.  If you have never seen this commercial, then you obviously have a more fulfilling and important life than I do need to inform yourself as to this cultural milestone of marketing:
* * *
Department of Bill Gates Please Save The World
“Gates isn’t just looking to cut future carbon emissions, he is also investing in direct air capture, an experimental process to remove existing CO2 from the atmosphere. Some companies are now using these giant fans to capture CO2 directly out of the air, Gates has become one of the world’s largest funders of this kind of technology.” ( “Bill Gates: How the world can avoid a climate disaster,” 60 Minutes 2-15-21 )
Three times in the past three weeks I’ve encountered the term direct air capture, used in relation to our global warming crisis. Each time, the part of my heart that is still 12-years-old jumps for joy.
Direct air capture (as per Wikipedia): Direct air capture (DAC) is a process of capturing carbon dioxide (CO2) directly from the ambient air (as opposed to capturing from point sources, such as a cement factory or biomass power plant) and generating a concentrated stream of CO 2 for sequestration or utilization or production of carbon-neutral fuel and windgas. ….DAC was suggested in 1999 and is still in development….
Actually, a form of DAC was suggested by moiself, over two decades earlier than 1999. I, like, invented DAC. In your dreams, you may say. Well, literally, yes.
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away (Southern California, early 1970s) we had smog alerts several times during my 7th grade year, when the air quality got so bad it hurt to breathe, and PE classes were cancelled.
You’re not supposed to “see” the air, right?
During that PE downtime I would think about why we weren’t doing our 800 yard run trials. Air pollution – not only do we have to stop adding to it, we need to get that existing gunk out of the air. What about some kind of sieve or filter – which work for liquids, so why not tweak the concept to strain the air? I would dream about it at night; I had dreams about enormous fan-type devices which would suck in air, filtering out the pollutants and spewing out clean air while compressing the particulate matter into bricks and other building materials which could be used for housing, road surfaces, bridges….
Yes, dreams, as in plural. It was weighing heavily upon my mind. For a period of several weeks I thought about it a lot, even confiding in my math teacher after class one day. I asked him if he knew some science teachers, maybe in high school,  with whom I could talk to about my idea. He laughed at me – not cruelly, but certainly patronizingly, and said that I had no concept about the complicated technology which would have to be involved – which would have to be invented – for such an undertaking. 
My school stopped having smog alerts and I stopped having those dreams. Moiself looks forward to not having to dream about such things, ever again, in the very near future.
How complicated could such an invention be?
* * *
The Commercial I’m Not Filming
Yours truly came across the following ad recently.
Imnagine that, an ad for yet another product or regimen to stop/reverse “the aging process.” 
Moiself fantasized about shooting a commercial for *my* secret tips to stop the aging process. Seven seems an excessive number, so I’ll cut it down to five. The commercial will open with scenes of people sending me money for my secret/sure-fire tips to stop the you-know-what process, followed by scenes of my anti-aging goon squad who show up at said people’s houses or surprise them on the streets, and stop their aging process via:
pushing them in front of a bus
running them over with a bus
dropping a bus on top of them as they stand at a bus stop
lacing their morning coffee with arsenic
slipping a sedative in their dinner wine and setting fire to their house while they sleep
The final scene shows friends at the deceased’s open casket funeral, murmuring enviously to one another, “She doesn’t look a day older than yesterday.”
“Did you see her – she’s actually dead!” “Yes, but at least she’s not getting any more wrinkles.”
* * *
“One of the things that Teller and I are obsessed with, one of the reasons that we’re in magic, is the difference between fantasy and reality.” (Penn Jillette, of the magic duo Penn and Teller)
“It isn’t automatic that if you learn magic you’ll become a skeptic of the supernatural,” said D.J. Grothe, president of the Virginia-based James Randi Educational Foundation, which debunks supernatural claims and was founded by Randi. “But knowing magic does give you a leg up on how the mind works and how easy it is to be deceived. And from there, skepticism can be a fortunate result.” (“Magicians say their craft makes them see faith as just hocus-pocus,” The Christian Century, 10-27-11 )
I have long been drawn to the philosophy of modern-day magicians, even though the what-they-do part – the actual “magic” – doesn’t particularly hold my interest. It has been years since I’ve been to a magic show, and although I avoid Las Vegas like the proverbial plague (I think moiself is allergic to neon), if I were there, The Penn and Teller show is the one show I’d try to get tickets to.
Well, that and a show featuring Amazonian-stature women dressed as roosters. Because, you know, culture.
What interests me is (something which magicians themselves have pointed out) the similarity of “tricks” used by magicians and politicians and religions. Magic acts, religious leaders and texts, and extreme political ideologies are similar in that they employ physical and psychological methods to fool people into believing something that they otherwise would have/should have known is patently untrue ( The man did not pull a quarter from your nose…but gosh darn it, it sure looked like he did). Ultimately, magicians and demagogues and priests don’t have to fool people, because by using a combination of visual, oral, and intellectual illusions, they get people to fool themselves.
I recently tuned into my favorite podcast on communication and science, Clear + Vivid , and was pleased to hear that C+V host Alan Alda’s guest was Penn Jillette (aka “the talking half “of Penn and Teller). In Magic, Tricks, and Us, Penn explored this question:
When we see a magic trick, is the magician fooling us,
or are we fooling ourselves?
Jillette’s thesis is that “magic tricks” are a test of how we process reality:
“If you’re lying to somebody, they’ll catch you. But if you get someone to lie to themselves, you’ve got ’em. And that is what we’re (magicians) always trying to do: get people to make assumptions…because they’ll put up a wall around me, but if I can come around the edge, we can fool ’em that way.
He talks about illusions v. tricks, and how he prefers the latter:
“Tricks are ideas that you get someone to…to lie to themselves. Because the trick, instantly, deals with one of the most important subjects we can deal with, which is how we establish what’s real; how we agree on a reality. For me, doing magic is a playful epistemological experience. We are playing around, in a safe zone, with how we establish what’s true. We’ve seen what happens when truth is played with on a real stage, in the real world…and it’s horrific. If you come to see a Penn & Teller show and you say, if these two guys can make me think something that’s patently not true, what can people with a real budget, and a lack of morals, do?”
Penn, an atheist and advocate science and of reality-based thinking, briefly addressed criticism that atheists don’t accept or appreciate “mystery” in the world.
“Atheists are often accused of ‘not accepting the mystery,’ and it’s exactly the opposite. Atheists are very happy going, ‘Hmm, I don’t know.’
Reality-based thinking is actually more in love with mystery than magical thinking. When scientists said, ‘I don’t know,’ they had more love of the mystery than someone who said, ‘I do know, and it’s god.’
The three most important words of the scientific method are, ‘I don’t know.’ Those were not said until 500 years ago. Priests and rulers and kings, they always knew. Scientists came along and went, ‘I don’t know.’ Those three words are to me the scientific method.”
What spurs scientific investigation in the first place is recognizing and admitting what we don’t know, followed by harnessing the curiosity and freedom to investigate. We all benefit from the science that springs from admitting what we don’t know about a natural phenomenon, rather than being “given” incomplete, incorrect, or simply nonsensical non-answers (“Allah willed it;” “Jehovah did it,” “Pele/Isis/Jesus sent the plague/rains/tornado/volcanic eruption to punish/reward/bless/remind us….”)
“I think it’s much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers which might be wrong.” “I would rather have questions that can’t be answered than answers that can’t be questioned.” ( Richard Feynman, theoretical physicist, professor, and avid bongo player )
* * *
Pun For The Day
Harry Houdini used to use lots of trap doors in his magic act. He’s stopped that now; he was just going through a stage.
* * *
May you appreciate the difference between questions that can’t be answered and answers that can’t be questioned; May you be careful what you wish for when it comes to “the aging process;” May we all realize how truly cool it is that we have another rover on Mars; …and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 Did you see it? The announcers did a great job of transmitting the NASA/JPL team members’ “Seven Minutes of Terror,” as you think about how butt-frostingly complicated such a mission is, and how many things can go wrong….
 Foer example, the contraceptive patch was first available to the public in 2002 but had been in development and testing long before then.
 Yes, of course, that’s in my opinion. This is my blog; whose opinion were you expecting?
 Solving the world’s air pollution problems might be too ambitious for junior high, I reckoned.
 Neither did he, of course. I often wonder if I’d been a 13-year-old boy instead of a girl, and come to him with the same idea, would he have encouraged me to study engineering and solve that problem?
Noteworthy science podcast anecdotes; musings on how we understand, use (and misuse) the term “educated;” wondering how and why some people can believe in the efficacy of intercessory prayer; a bad pun or two; the last Partridge of the Week, etc. I don’t know if the subjects I had planned to address in today’s post were more profound, but they were certainly more fun, than…this.
“It is my considered judgment that my oath to support and defend the Constitution constrains me from claiming unilateral authority to determine which electoral votes should be counted and which should not.” (Vice President Mike Pence, 1-6-21, in a letter to members of Congress. From “Pence defies Trump, says he can’t reject electoral votes,” apnews.com )
“Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done….” ( #45‘s tweet, after Vice President Mike Pence acknowledged he does not have the power to throw out electoral votes )
* * *
Someone needs to be shot for insurrection.
If #45 had the cojones he accused Pence of lacking, he‘d call a press conference, resign, then blow hisbrains out  on live television. He‘d get the “biggliest ratings, ever!” which is and always has been hisultimate concern.
* * *
“Prevoskhodno! This is all going according to plan.”
* * *
How many times did I read or hear, during the last four years,
“Yeah, I know he (#45) is a dick a horrible person as a person, but I’m voting for him because of ______ (conservative policy).”
As friend MM so succinctly put it,
“Everyone who voted for Trump for tax cuts and judges, you own this.”
* * *
What was it that the anti-Vietnam war protestors chanted as they were beaten by Chicago police in 1968?
“The whole world is watching.”
And they were. And we are.
* * *
Department Of Get HimOut, Now. How Can You Not?
Congress: Impeach. Invoke the 25th amendment – #45is clearly “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”  Get the SCOTUS to lead a squad of Capitol Police to arrest him. Whatever it takes.
Please, no cries of, “But we only have to hang on another two weeks, for the good of the country…”
For the good of the country, he needs to go. Would *anyone else* who had fomented a riot – committed sedition – *not* be held accountable?
For the good of the country, his legacy, as MH put it, “needs to be appropriate.”
For the good of the country, we cannot let strongman hooliganism subvert or even delay our democratic processes.
For the good of the country, we need to show the world – we need to show ourselves – that we have not become another anarchic banana republic our laws and ideals have actual meaning.
And, if heis allowed to just…leave, do you really want any portion of your tax dollars to go to hispresidential pension? $219,000 a year, for the rest of hisdeplorable life, living among whatever other deplorables can stand to abide with him? 
“A Russian dacha or a North Korean apartment – your choice, Comrade.”
* * *
May we get the kind of honest, decent, compassionate leadership we need; May you-know-who finally get what hedeserves; May circumstances allow moiself to return to “regular programming” next week; …and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 Not to worry; it’d be a small splatter, considering the target.
 Section 4, 25th Amendment to the US Constitution.
 There need to be more footnotes, but the only appropriate footnote regarding this deranged disaster of democracy is an unending torrent of FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKK !!!
As I’ve noted previously in this blog, moiself always serves some version of black-eyed peas (aka Hoppin’ John ) and greens for New Year’s Day dinner. These culinary creations are prepared in homage to my father’s family’s logic-defying adherence  to the tradition which told them that eating black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day assures good luck in the year to come.
Good thing I followed that tradition, eh? What a luckity-luck-lucky year it turned out to be!
* * *
Department Of Advising The Advisor
Moiself took it upon herself to email Amy Dickinson, who writes the syndicated advice column Ask Amy. My feedback was re Amy’s advice to a letter writer who was distressed about her cousins’ comments of victimhood re the 2020 election:
Dear Amy, Regarding the letter from “Text- challenged,” who was concerned that her conversations with her cousins were descending into their conservative political complaints, I must point out something about this comment of yours:
“…if you voted for the Democrat candidate in 2016, you might remember how it felt to be declared a citizen of Loserville, USA. You might have felt like a victim of some mysterious process.”
Actually, Amy, (in 2016) we all *were* victims of “some mysterious process.” It’s called The Electoral College, and this mysterious constitutional relic of slave state appeasement once again thwarted the will of the people by installing the *loser* of the popular vote as leader of our (alleged) democracy, transforming us all into citizens of Loserville.
(From the Pew Research Center: “Besides the U.S, the only other democracies that indirectly elect a leader who combines the roles of head of state and head of government (as the U.S. president does) are Botswana, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, Nauru, South Africa and Suriname.” ) Wishing you all the best in the new year, Just another citizen, Robyn Parnell
* * *
Department Of Partridge Of The Week
This week’s Partridge in our pear tree:
* * *
Department Of Just What The World Needs…
Is another moniker to describe How (as in, What) Someone Eats ®. Thus, moiself will happily supply that for y’all.
We got your paleo, vegan, keto, raw foods, juice, sugar-free, food combination, raw food paleo, tantrum-throwing-picky-toddler single-food diets….
Many if not most “diets” are just that – diets – as in something-to-go-“on” (and then off) when a certain weight or health goal is reached, instead of a sustainable, lifestyle and/or nutritional change. Because someone recently asked, I thought about the best (as in, most ear-friendly) way to describe my not-a-diet FCP (food consumption patterns).
For five-plus years now I’ve been largely (as in 95%+) plant-based, but not vegan  as I have fish once or twice a week. And although I avoid other dairy products I also consume some (a diminishing amount, but still there) cheese, for both personal addiction taste reasons, and also to keep moiself travel-friendly. 
Come back to the dark side. We’re waiting for you….
MH asked me, “Doesn’t the label pescatarian describe how we eat at home/the majority of the time?” Maybe; but I don’t care for that term.
I consider my eating and cooking choices to be adventuresome, investigative, horizon-expanding rather than limiting,  and science-based/planet-friendly. I want an affable term to reflect that. Hmm; vegetarian; plant-based; planet-friendly;  fish, aquarium….
Oh, Yeaeeaaah. This is perfect.
I am a planetarium.
Feel free to borrow/appropriate, with attribution.
Can you say,”She seems quite pleased with herself,” boys and girls? I knew you could.
* * *
Department Of Yeah What She Said
When it comes to commentary on American culture and politics, moiself often finds the musings of those who are on the outside looking in to be particularly incisive. As in this excerpt from the State of the Me blog post, by C.L. Hanson. Hanson, an engineer and expat American, describes her blog as “The Adventures of a Friendly French-American ExMormon Atheist Mom Living in Switzerland!!!” (my emphases):
“I’m happy that Trump will finally be leaving the White House. As I’ve said before, I don’t agree with the people who said that voting him out is the “right” way to get him out — he should have been impeached and convicted within the first year of his presidency. Whether the president is above the law is not a question that should be up for popular vote (or some weirdly-derived subset of the popular vote). If the US system can’t eject a president for constantly and openly breaking the law, then the system is broken. But this band-aid is better than nothing. The bare last line of defense has held firm against the deadly march of fascism — when there was no guarantee that it would. Hopefully this victory will help turn the tide and encourage the people to make serious changes and fix things for real.”
* * *
Department Of Oh, Oh, How I Hate Hate Hate Having To Write This…
But, I have to. Because it’s bugging the ever-lovin’ sudoriferous secretions out of me. 
To start the new year, here are two things I look forward to seeing ended:
(1) This should go without saying: the termination of a certain administration (hint: this will take place on January 20)
(2) “Woke” and “Cancel” culture, which, IMO, is directly related to (1)…and my concern with it is tangentially related to the first entry in this post (as in, reading advice columns).
“…many Americans have come to believe that the only way to spur change is by ginning up anger. It isn’t enough to say your opponents are wrong. You have to say they are reprehensible….
So many tools of modern culture take ancient circuits in the brain and put them in hyperdrive…. We evolved to care about relationships, but social media has weaponized this, transforming personal connections into metrics of self-worth. Getting angry at (who we perceived to be) wrongdoers was helpful in our evolutionary past, but when people apply that same impulse today…what we get are doxing and death threats. Used recklessly or for self-promotion, outrage can poison the way we interact with each other. It can imprison us in our own echo chambers. ( excerpts from “Screaming Into The Void: How Outrage Is Hijacking Our Culture
And Our Minds,” Hidden Brain, 10-7-19 )
The Orwellian speak of #45’s administration reminds me of the opposite side of the same coin, which is groupthink, and “cancel” or “woke culture.” It seems I can’t spit (and I have tried) without hearing, from aggrieved persons or interest groups, cries of “hateful!” re someone who disagrees with them, and without citation of an actual, factual statement from that someone of hate. To list only two examples…
* a woman, having been sexually assaulted in a private/public room, articulates her concerns about any man being able to enter a women’s restroom if he claims to “identify as female”.  Her concerns are not addressed logically or compassionately; rather, she is shrieked at by trans activists, YOU’RE TRYING TO KILL US ALL!!
* People on “the left” seem to feel entitled to call someone who disagrees with them and/or their identity group, on a certain issue (even if they support other issues for that group) “hateful” and “evil.”
Moiself is reminded of #45’s kneejerk way of dealing with disagreements and critiques, particularly from women. He rarely attempts to refute the substance of the criticism (he’ll say it’s not valid, it’s fake news). Rather, he goes into attack mode, claiming that those women hate him because they are “nasty,” “evil,” “pathetic,” “sad”….
I’ve written of this – my concerns about and loathing of “cancel culture” and thought and language policing and their many variants  – severaltimes previously in this space. Here is the promised advice column link.
The write said that her youngest son loved the first Harry Potter book (read in class by his third grade teacher) and was asking her to read the remaining books with him. She’d read the entire HP series to her older two sons, who loved it. But now her oldest (trans) son asked her “…not to read the books to his younger brother and not to buy Harry Potter merchandise because it would feel to him that I was supporting J.K. Rowling’s horrible anti-trans comments.” The letter-writing mom is struggling with wanting to let her youngest “…enjoy the world of Harry Potter without supporting a bigot.”
DP‘s answer included a WTF ?!?! reference to the author of the Harry Potter series as an “artist who’s made transphobia a significant part of her career.”
I can’t help but wonder how the letter writer hear about Rowling’s alleged “horrible” comments – and did she even know of Rowling’s articulate, nuanced response to being slandered, or is she (and her oldest son) jumping on the Orwellian groupthink bandwagon? The DP columnist  didn’t correct the writer’s hyperbole and seems to agree with it. Although I (mostly) like the DP column I ‘ve noticed the groupthink tendency in DP‘s answers and assumptions. I’m not cancelling my on-line subscription – that would make me part of the cancel culture, right? But the stench of self-righteous piling-on lingers, and don’t know if I’ll be able to stomach reading DP column for a while.
Summary of the issue at hand, for those who’ve managed to remain blissfully ignorant of transphobia-hysteria: in December 2019 writer J.K. Rowling tweeted her support for a British woman who’d lost her job for posting so-called “transphobic” tweets. On 6 June, Rowling poked Twitter fun at the usage of the phrase “people who menstruate” – a phrase many people and writers (such as moiself ) find unnecessary, even bizarre, not to mention WTF, Saturday-Night-Live-skit-worthyawkwardness.
” ‘People who menstruate.’ I’m sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?”
I’m so glad Rowling beat me to it, because that would have been my first reaction. ROTFL.
Sexual dimorphism is a factual, biological phenomenon in mammalian species. There are a variety of opinions as to the diversity or spectrum of expression within that phenomenon itself and within our human, culture expressions of biology. Rowling and many others hold the opinion that being female is not just a “construct,” and now, such opinions are labeled by a vocal minority as “hate speech.” Many trans activists and their supporters called for Rowlings’ books to be burned, told Rowling she was “literally killing trans people with [her] hate,” called her a cunt and a bitch….
Rowling responded to the criticism with an essay which, apparently, most of her critics (including, I’d guess, the mother who wrote to DP and DP himself ) – did not bother to fully, open-mindedly and carefully read. Nowhere in the essay did I find sentiments I’d even remotely consider hateful or “horrible,” nor indicative of someone who’s “made transphobia a significant part of her career.” Rowling is a committed feminist with a personal history of experiencing misogyny, gender discrimination, and sexual abuse. She believes that most trans people are “vulnerable and deserve protection,” and she calmly and articulately explained her concerns with the “the consequences of the current trans activism”:
We’re living through the most misogynistic period I’ve experienced. Back in the 80s, I imagined that my future daughters, should I have any, would have it far better than I ever did, but between the backlash against feminism and a porn-saturated online culture, I believe things have got significantly worse for girls. Never have I seen women denigrated and dehumanised to the extent they are now. From the leader of the free world’s long history of sexual assault accusations and his proud boast of ‘grabbing them by the pussy’, to the incel (‘involuntarily celibate’) movement that rages against women who won’t give them sex, to the trans activists who declare that TERFs  need punching and re-educating, men across the political spectrum seem to agree: women are asking for trouble. Everywhere, women are being told to shut up and sit down, or else.
I’ve read all the arguments about femaleness not residing in the sexed body, and the assertions that biological women don’t have common experiences, and I find them, too, deeply misogynistic and regressive. It’s also clear that one of the objectives of denying the importance of sex is to erode what some seem to see as the cruelly segregationist idea of women having their own biological realities or – just as threatening – unifying realities that make them a cohesive political class….
….as many women have said before me, ‘woman’ is not a costume. ‘Woman’ is not an idea in a man’s head. ‘Woman’ is not a pink brain, a liking for Jimmy Choos or any of the other sexist ideas now somehow touted as progressive. Moreover, the ‘inclusive’ language that calls female people ‘menstruators’ and ‘people with vulvas’ strikes many women as dehumanising and demeaning. I understand why trans activists consider this language to be appropriate and kind, but for those of us who’ve had degrading slurs spat at us by violent men, it’s not neutral, it’s hostile and alienating.
This is a brief except from a 3,600 word essay. Read it in its entirety before forming an opinion; I realize it’s a bit longer than many kneejerk reactors are used to (if they don’t come across the corrext buzz words they are looking for in the first two paragraphs, bye bye). Maybe you agreed with all of it, some of it, none of it. What is your response if you truly (or think you ought to, because it’s the woke thing to do) disagree with Rowling – or anyone else, for that matter, on this issue or any other. Do you go from 0 to 120 in the blink of an eye? Is there nothing in between? Can you disagree with what someone says without conflating their opinions – or your interpretations of their opinions – with terms like “hateful” “horrible,” and twist her words into saying she calls for “literally killing” someone?
Rowling, on the record as supporting LGBTQ rights and people, envisioned one of the most beloved characters in literature, Professor Albus Dumbledoree, as gay . I find it both ironic and pathetic that the creator of the most famous and beloved world of witches and wizards is now herself the object of an ideological witch-hunt.
Those who jumped on the public chastisement bandwagon included actor Daniel Radcliffe, whom I took to task here. I in turn didn’t want to accuse Radcliffe of being “hateful” nor accuse him of trying to “kill” Rowling’s career…but perhaps I should have. As per our culture of outrage, no one will listen to you unless you go over the top.
“Harry Potter, you need to learn to think before you speak.”
Anyone from a bartender to a biologist who disagrees with the “woke” tenet re gender- that it exists in the mind/is primarily/only a social construct – will, sooner or later, be called transphobic. To disagree with someone is to “hate” them and what they say, and to label them as pathologically fearful.  You disagree with me on that? You hater, you…opposition-ophobe, you! And woe unto you if you make a simple, human error. If you absent-mindedly  call a trans-man by his birthname, even if you originally – as in, for forty frickin’ *years*- knew him as her, you are no longer a fallible friend who made a totally understandable slip of the tongue – you DEAD-named him, you transphobic bigot!
This issue is more than one of free speech and ideological and imaginational conformity (which, as a writer, I have great concerns about). This link directly to What Just Happened ® (in the past four years and the recent election), which we are still trying to figure out. Bear with me a bit longer as I make the point I earlier alluded to.
People stop talking with one another across party, ideological, and cultural “lines” if they know or fear that others are going to pay more attention to *how* they say something rather than *what* they are saying. In particular, folks who are not hateful and/or ignorant fools, but who
(1) don’t consider themselves deftly articulate or skilled in written expression, and thus (2) worry that they won’t use the “correct” jargon or terminology
fear being misunderstood, and are prone to withdrawing from dialogue with those who hold differing opinions.
Someone can disagree with you on an aspect of what you consider to be your most important or even defining cause, without rejecting your entire cause. That Someone can be an ally, can still be “on your side” – unless blindered, politico-speak conformity is your price for alliance, in which case you’ll end up driving allies away, or underground. Then, hey – good luck dealing with the vocal opposition, who are as firm in the self-righteousness of their position as you seem to be of yours.
This is not just a matter of agreeing or disagreeing with a successful author who has social media followers. The vitriol directed against Rowling is directly related to disturbing social phenomena which have political and cultural ramifications for us all – phenomena that give us headlines like the following, which too many left-leaning/”progressive” Americans either ignored or misunderstood, in their post-election head-scratching:
Although the election pollsters were mostly accurate about Trump’s impending defeat, Democrats lost ground in other important areas, which took pollsters by surprise. How could they have been so wrong about that? Several studies and theories point to the idea that although most folks, even conservatives, agreed that #45 had to go, people on all sides of all aisles are becoming more and more concerned with cancel culture, and they blame the Democrats/The Left for that (or for being the *least* willing to call it out). And because of cancel culture, people didn’t answer truthfully to pollsters (or even to their own family and friends) about their concerns, lest they be called evil, ___- o-phobes, and haters.
“Differences of opinion no longer are defined by one’s approach or framing of an issue, but rather by the person who holds a contrary position as being evil…. Comedy, one would think, should be exempt from restrictions on speech, but it is not. Chris Rock stated… ‘I stopped playing colleges (because of) … their social views and their willingness not to offend anybody. You can’t even be offensive on your way to being inoffensive.’
Free speech in America is on the ballot for many Americans who see an intellectual orthodoxy rapidly developing….They fear that zealots have been permitted to gain power to banish anyone who questions or denies progressive beliefs or policies….
Pew Research found that “majorities in both major parties believe censorship is likely occurring (on social media.)” …. On Nov. 3, these beliefs may motivate a new voting bloc to cast their votes for the candidate who stands up to cancel culture.” ( “Cancel culture’ may spawn a new, silent voting bloc,” The Hill )
“…the mythical “blue wave” fizzled out into a splash long before the first ballot was even cast. While President-Elect Biden won with a sizable lead in both the electoral and popular votes, the Democratic Party barely held its own in the Senate and the House….and Republicans may be on track to win back the House in 2022.
If Democrats truly want to emerge mightily victorious in the future, they must analyze why over 73 million people voted against them and their party. The analysis must be a brutally honest one for it to have any merit,and conclusions such as the opposition being ‘racists’ or ‘fascists’ are lazy responses which fail to examine the failures of the Democratic Party to reach out to millions of Americans.
… Bill Maher — a vocal Democrat — (stated) that the biggest enemy to liberals is themselves…that the woke culture which has permeated both the personal and professional world is halting the Democrat’s chances at flipping right-leaning voters.
Maher’s analysis could not be more astute. Phenomenon such as…’woke’ culture are the very thing which created the political atmosphere in which a person like Donald Trump could thrive and rally supporters. Democrats created their own monster in this regard. While President Trump may be in office for only a few short months, the angst which propelled his political support is here to stay.
… many (on the Left) subscribe to the belief that ‘if you don’t agree with me, you’re a racist and a bigot and your career should be destroyed.’ …Fear has gripped many, as they struggle to articulate their thoughts, frightened if they may be the next ones to be ‘cancelled.’ “
You really want to equate JK Rowling to this?
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Pun For The Day
I was disappointed by the organizers of the New Year’s Eve celebration at Times Square.
Once again, they dropped the ball.
But wait – there’s more!
Did y’all here about the guy in England who assaulted a dozen people with a miniature replica of Big Ben on New Year’s Eve? He couldn’t wait for the clock to strike twelve.
Someone has to end this, and soon.
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May the hyperbole of “woke” culture take a well-needed nap; May the new year be filled with new hope and old (but still loved) puns; May 2021 be better than…oh, you know; …and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
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 They were dirt poor sharecroppers tenant farmers. That good-luck-meal thing failed, year after year.
 Although when dining out – y’all remember that thing we used to do, way back in 2019? – I will ask for vegan items, to get the point across to restaurant staff that, for example, I don’t want the “vegetable” soup if it’s made with beef broth.
 It’s becoming easier to have plant-based options when traveling, but in many cultures and foreign countries – e.g., Arkansas – it can be difficult: the ideas and imaginations of some folks, when it comes to vegetarian/vegan foods, is remove the “meat” and add cheese and voila, it’s a veggie entrée! Also, I want to be a good visitor and not reject *everything* the host/local cuisine offers.
 Plant-based is not so much about out cutting meat, milk, and eggs —it’s about crowding them out with the amazing variety of fruits and veggies and nuts and legumes and grains that there are out there, many of which get overlooked when the centerpiece of the meal is a big hunk of flesh, accompanied by the usual side veggie suspects.
 Whaddya think, should I have just written, “sweat“?
 When daughter Belle was working closing shifts at a restaurant, and a lawyer friend of mine who was working for a law firm specializing in sexual assault cases found out that Belle’s duties included cleaning the restrooms, she warned Belle about never closing the doors and being very careful to watch her back, because of the number of cases she’d seen where a male waited until a female co-worker was alone in a restroom to assault her.
 Which include literary censorship (“write what you know” which equals “write what you are”) and “cultural appropriation.”
Department Of I Am Happy/Relieved, But Should Be More Ecstatic-er… As per the Biden-Harris victory. But I’m not. For reasons I shall get into next week….
It is next week. And I can’t avoid the obvious any longer.
Biden-Harris won! Yet, considering how many voted for #45, I can never look at my fellow Americans again – including some of my family and friends – without wondering.
In the week before election day I listened to several podcasts which featured interviews with “reluctant” tRump voters. Most of them made statements indicating they held religious (read: Christian) beliefs; what they all had in common was their discomfort with #45’s temperament, character, handling of the pandemic, fomenting civil unrest, ad nauseum. BUT…#45 “agreed” with them on abortion and they thought that the economy – for themselves – was “better” under his policies.
The idea that because your personal portfolio has increased temporarily (and in the long run, it’s always temporary) means “things are better” for you…I haven’t the words to aptly excoriate the staggering egocentricity and shortsightedness of such thinking.
Calling all #45 supporters,  reluctant and gung-ho: Y’all plan to live more than another year or two? What do you think will happen when the #45 regime’s chickens come home to roost, including record deficits and national debt and global warming exacerbation…
Over four years in office, the Trump administration has dismantled major climate policies and rolled back many more rules governing clean air, water, wildlife and toxic chemicals. (from “The Trump Administration Is Reversing More Than 100 Environmental Rules.” NY Times Nov. 10, 2020 )
Have you no concern for the future – for your children and your fellow citizens, if not for yourself? Can nothing override your sense of the *me-good-now,* of your satisfaction with personal financial gain and the lack of being inconvenienced by having to change personal/global habits to reduce carbon emissions; can nothing deter you from selling out our children’s future to the financial, environmental and social crises that are sure to come?
Forget, for a moment, the future: what about the present? Can you really don enough blinders and earplugs to ignore the political and social calamities besetting your fellow citizens and pretend that these don’t harm, involve, or even concern you?
“Trump has repeatedly been endorsed by white supremacist groups and other far-right extremists, and they’ve looked to him as a source of encouragement.” ( Business Insider, 9-30-20 )
“Former KKK leader endorses Trump for president again… Perhaps the US’s most renowned racial extremist has long supported what he sees as the president’s white nationalist agenda.” (The Independent, News<World<Americas, 7-9-20)
You must be familiar with how political and human rights leaders call for unity and try to appeal to our so-called better natures when the latest incidents of police brutality, sexism and misogyny, and the country’s history of systemic racism are revealed:
“This is not who we are.” “We are better than this.”
You’ve heard those phrases before; you’ll hear them again. You may even believe them. But I’m gonna shove my elbow down the throat of the next person  who says that within earshot of moiself. Because, guess what? This *is*who we are – at least, nearly half of the voting “we.”
At least 73 million of us are not “better than this,” because 73 million Americans were able and willing to set aside, ignore, or explain away the actions, rhetoric and policies of #45 which have fostered an unprecedented rise in displays of hatred, bigotry, and violence.
“Hate crimes have surged nearly 20 percent during the administration of President Donald Trump, according to a new FBI report on hate crime statistics. The report also shows that hate-motivated murders, largely committed by white supremacists, spiked to their highest number in 28 years.” ( “Hate Crimes Under Trump Surged Nearly 20 Percent Says FBI Report,” Newsweek, 11-16-20 )
Here’s news from a small town in my state, a story which probably didn’t get much national coverage during the election hoopla:
At least two Klamath Falls billboards were vandalized with…symbols linked to white supremacists and neo-Nazi beliefs….
Multiple swastikas were painted on the billboards, as well as the numbers “1488.” Those numbers are a common white supremacist symbol referencing a future for white children and an homage to Adolf Hitler…. The timing of these symbols appearing the day after the election cannot be ignored, (Klamath Falls Equity Task Force member Joey Gentry) said, noting her belief that people with racist tendencies have been emboldened by President Donald Trump. (“Swastikas appear on billboards for Democrats, store in Klamath Falls,” Oregonlive.com, 11-5-20)
There are #45 supporters who claim to be horrified by such actions. They protest, “This isn’t us!” and say that they themselves are not racist. Yet they are willing to overlook #45’s dog whistles to white supremacist organizations – hells bells, he doesn’t even bother to use the whistles anymore.
In politician speak, a dog whistle is language that conveys a particular meaning to a group of potential supporters. The targeted group hears the “whistle” because of its shared cultural reference, but others cannot. In 2018, The Washington Post wrote that “perhaps no one has sent more dog whistles than President Trump.” When Trump this year planned a rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma – the site of one of the worst acts of racial terror in U.S. history – on the Black holiday of Juneteenth, the media called the rally a “racist dog whistle.” That suggests that white nationalists would view the timing as an overture, while others would miss the date’s racism. Journalists have also referred to Trump calling COVID-19 “the China virus” as a dog whistle…. True dog whistles rely on there being an “outgroup” that can’t hear the politician’s coded message. They are so specifically targeted that there’s no need to deny their coded meaning because no one outside the intended audience even hears them. This is why the term “dog whistle” does not accurately describe Donald Trump’s rhetoric. When Trump talks about “rapists” from Mexico, “shithole countries” in Africa and white supremacists as “very fine people,” the racial connotation isn’t hidden – it is obvious. “This isn’t just a wink to white supremacists,” said Sen. Kamala Harris in a tweet about Trump’s planned Tulsa rally. “[H]e’s throwing them a welcome home party.” (“Trump’s appeals to white anxiety are not ‘dog whistles’ – they’re racism.” The Conversation, 9-18-20 )
It haunts me – the voice of an Otherwise Nice-Sounding Man I heard being interviewed before the election, who said he struggled with his decision. Despite ONSM’s misgiving about the “other stuff,” ONSM chose #45 because ONDM’s stock portfolio had risen.
Other stuff. As in, #45’s history of sexual harassment and bullying, encouraging and abetting racial and social inequity, white supremacy, racism, homophobia, transphobia, & xenophobia; coddling (and imitating) dictators; collusion with Russia & obstruction of Justice, corruption and nepotism and “birtherism’ lies and lies lies and more lies… 
If you’ve a strong stomach, you can view (or download a pdf of) the unfortunately-not-yet-complete, “Listing of Trump’s Atrocities,” compiled via years of diligence of the non-profit publisher, McSweeney’s:
Early in President Trump’s term, McSweeney’s editors began to catalog the head-spinning number of misdeeds coming from his administration. We called this list a collection of Trump’s cruelties, collusions, and crimes, and it felt urgent then to track them, to ensure these horrors — happening almost daily — would not be forgotten. This election year, amid a harrowing global health, civil rights, humanitarian, and economic crisis, we know it’s never been more critical to note these horrors, to remember them, and to do all in our power to reverse them. Various writers have compiled this list during the course of the Trump administration. Their work has been guided by invaluable journalistic resources, including WTFJHT, NPR, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and other sources….
Other stuff. That #45 supporter, and millions like him, claim “That is not who we are,” yet vote for someone Who Is Exactly That. And that’s just as bad – no, it’s worse.
The leaders aren’t the problem; they rarely are. Leaders can do nothing without followers, plus those who claim not to be followers, but are Bystanders and Overlookers.
Charles Manson personally killed no one at the Tate-LaBianca murder scenes; he got his followers to butcher those seven people for him. Perhaps you’ve read about the protestations post-WWII from Italians who claimed not to have supported the policies of their Prime minister, Benito Mussolini, and who thus objected to being called fascists? “The concentration camps and mass killings of civilians in Yugoslavia and Greece – those happened outside our borders; we don’t really know about that. And, yeah, we, like, kinda, sorta, maybe knew that here, in our own country, Mussolini suppressed his opponents, dissenters, and social outsiders via physical assaults, imprisonment, economic deprivation, yada yada yada…. But, he made the trains run on time.” 
“This is not who we are.”
It sucks, massively, to realize the contrary.
And so my thoughts still go to dark places, dragged down by the reality of the complicity of millions of my citizens, plus this HOLY CRAP realization:
Joe and Kamala are stand-up, intelligent, competent, compassionate people, but yikes – look at how many problems they have to fix. What looms largest, exacerbated by #45, are the worldwide effects of global warming. Biden and Harris accept the obvious, hard truths laid out by science, but without a change in the hearts and minds of Republicans in congress, will we have a repeat of the Obama years, when Republicans’ only policy mandate was to counter everything he tried to do? Will they continue to stamp their metaphorical toddlers’ feet and tantrum their way through Biden’s term: “NO, I WON’T WONT WONT WONT PLAY WITH YOU AND YOU CAN’T MAKE ME.”
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Department Of Fun With Misreading Science
Dateline: 11/14, listening to Clear + Vivid podcast, episode Life on Venus? From the podcast’s website, this episode’s description:
She studies what may be the most disgusting molecule known to humankind. And that’s made Clara Sousa-Silva a key member of the team that may have detected life in the clouds of Venus. Her foul (and lethal) molecule has been discovered in those clouds – and the only current explanation for its presence is that it is being made by living organisms.
Podcast Host Alan Alda was asking guest Clara Sousa-Silva (quantum astrochemist  ) about how astronomy professor Jane Greeves contacted Sousa-Silva regarding a phenomenon of interest to both of them:
Alda: “And what prompted her (Greeves) to look for phosphine on Venus?”
Sousa-Silva: “It was a paper that we’d both read that mentioned phosphine association with penguin feces. So it seems like the intestines and excrements of penguins have… a rich, complex anerobic world that is producing phosphine, and there was an article released saying we’ve found phosphine above these places where there’s a lot of penguin poop and I had found that paper and read through every peer-reviewed paper that mentioned phosphine, and I’d collected this body of evidence as phosphine as a bio signature for anaerobic worlds… “
Y’all know what this means –
PENGUINS FOUND ORBITING VENUS ! !
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Department Of 7:45 am Observations While Walking Through The Neighborhood
I see the silhouette in the skies above me, that of a great blue heron flying on to its next destination, whether that be a nearby creek or someone’s backyard koi pond. The bird’s distinctive “fuselage” reminds me of a 747, at least in comparison to two other birds, one dove and one crow, occupying different flight paths below the heron.
Its good to use your imagination.
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Department Of The Standup Routine I’m Not Practicing
Dateline; last Friday. Apropos of nothing (that moiself was aware of), a few minutes after finishing breakfast, I got this flash vision of moiself practicing for a stand-up comedy routine, taking on the persona of a somewhat oblivious and bemused parent. Here was my opening (or closing…or both, depending on how well it would be received) joke:
“The kids these days, with all of their gender-this and sexual-that labels! Most of it goes right over my head.
The other day I caught my teenage son masturbating with a cast iron skillet. Is that what they mean by, ‘pansexual’?”
Yes, I thought that one up all by moiself. I want applause, dammit.
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Pun For The Day
Parallel lines have so much in common; it’s a shame they’ll never meet.
I thought I made it clear – no more math nerd puns!
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Department Of Possibly The Most Useless Question Posed To A Sentient Being…Ever
The following email, with this provocative tempting totally bat shit ridiculous thought-provoking come-on, somehow made it past my spam filter:
“Need eyelash extensions for the holidays?”
Honey, do you think *I* need eyelash extensions?
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May you never be a Bystander, nor an Overlooker; May you realize that you never “need” eyelash extensions, for any occasion; May we all strive to be better than this; …and may the hijinks ensue.
 Except that, he didn’t. Like many dictators, Mussolini “…liked to take credit for everything that went right in Italy, even when it didn’t go that well at all. He was particularly fond of saying he was responsible for successful, large-scale public works projects, such as the railroad system.” (Did Mussolini Really Keep the Trains Running on Time? history.howstuffworks.com )
Department Of One Of My Favorite Questions To Ask (of anyone, about moiself )
“Do I have a bit of chocolate stuck between my teeth?”
She’d be happier if it were a piece of Lindt 85% instead of spinach.
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Department Of Getting Really, Really Genre Specific Sub-Department Of Who’d A Thunk It?
After a three-year, self-imposed sabbatical from the business side of What I Do ®  I’ve been doing some research into the state of literary publishing Research as in, getting (re)acquainted with who (as in publishing companies, large and small) is out there and what they want and/or specialize in.
When I started this task, I was wondering if things are just as bad as when I said *ick* and walked away. The answer: Yep (as in, duh), and even more so.
However, I am discovering hidden  gems that make this task worthwhile. Such as, this list, from the writers guidelines posted on the website of a particular publishing house, for a particular editor’s areas of interest rearding manuscripts she wishes to review (my emphases ):
“….contemporary romance, women’s contemporary fiction, historical fiction, gay fiction, dark suspense and thrillers, Amish romance.…”
Holy bodice ripper! There’s more than one editor with that unusually specific, uh, specification:
“80,000-word contemporary romance—either sexy or sweet, Amish and inspirational romance, women’s fiction….”
“Amish romance” as a genre. This is news to moiself– and, perhaps, only to moiself? Did y’all know about this and if so, why did you keep it to y’all selves?
I’m not a genre writer, nor reader. I have read books that would fit such classifications (e.g. a Zane Grey western or two; some Agatha Christie mysteries, four or five Star Trek “novels” ). Without knowing much about the genre – except that there are, apparently, far more sub-genres than I would have imagined – “romance” is the least interesting genre to moiself…up until now.
I find moiself wanting to at least skim through the pages of something that would qualify as an Amish Romance. I’m trying to imagine the content of such: the exchange of furtive glances over the milking stool; sly winks by the well after the quilting bee; coy lasses who offering their luscious berries for perusal during the barn raising….
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Department Of Next Tuesday, Y’all Know What To Do
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Speaking of the election, and what with the approaching holiday season….
Department Of How To Get Dis-Invited To Extended Family Gatherings
It’s easy! First, post something like this on your Facebook page:
I have family members, who are religious, who are likely voting for #45.
Because tR*** says the magic words conservative Christians want to hear about two key issues for them: taxes and abortion – and he of course *lies* to his supporters about this (he was pro-choice until he planned his presidential run as a Republican, as documented here and other places: https://qz.com/…/trump-shifted-from-pro-choice-to-pro-life…/), they are apparently willing to ignore/overlook/excuse all the rest?
This saddens me in ways I cannot express…so I’ll post it here, and never get invited to extended family Thanksgiving dinners again.
Lather; rinse; repeat, and conservative evangelicals will lick your otherwise faith-mocking, narcissistic, heathen patootie. 
It is interesting to moiself – and by “interesting” I mean, repulsive – that so many Christians are willing to overlook a politician’s flagrant, repeated, unapologetic violations of *their* scripture’s advice on issues which, if you take their scriptures as true and literal accounts of their god’s messages to them (and most conservative Christians do), were of primary importance to Jesus:
* caring for the sick, poor, imprisoned, and vulnerable
* treating others as you wish to be treated
* giving your possessions, even clothing, to those who have none
… and instead support this same lying adulterous racist misogynist politician who spouts the rhetoric they want to hear about abortion, an issue about which Jesus never spoke, despite abortion being known and practiced since ancient times. Yep, as long as humans have been pregnant/getting each other pregnant, they have found ways of intentionally ending unwanted pregnancies.
The practice of abortion—the termination of a pregnancy—has been known since ancient history. Various methods have been used to perform or attempt an abortion, including the administration of abortifacient herbs, the use of sharpened implements, the application of abdominal pressure, and other techniques…. Many of the methods employed in early cultures were non-surgical. Physical activities such as: strenuous labor, climbing, paddling, weightlifting, or diving were a common technique. Others included the use of irritant leaves, fasting, bloodletting, pouring hot water onto the abdomen, and lying on a heated coconut shell. In virtually all cultures, abortion techniques developed through observation, adaptation of obstetrical methods, and transculturation.
“The Bible never once specifically forbids abortions; it’s actually quite the contrary! Not only were methods of abortion well-known at the time, there’s times when the Bible states God commands that one take place. I’m going to walk through a few examples as illustrations. * In Genesis 38, we have the story of Tamar * Hosea: Progeny of the Rebellious Shall Not be Born (Hosea 9:14: God will cause the deaths of the unborn, as he will “give them a miscarrying womb and dry breasts.” Hosea 13:16: “Samaria shall become desolate; for she hath rebelled against her God: they shall fall by the sword: their infants shall be dashed in pieces, and their women with child shall be ripped up.”) * Sotah: Abortion-Inducing Potion due to Husband’s Jealousy 
(In Numbers 5, instructions are given by God to Moses regarding situations where a husband is fiercely jealous of his wife: his wife should be made to take a drink that will cause an abortion if she slept with another man…regardless of whose child it is). * Causing a Miscarriage: Mere Property Loss (The Bible didn’t treat miscarriage as murder, regardless of intent. Rather, it was treated as a property loss by the father, punishable by whatever fine the judges felt was appropriate. This is spelled out in Exodus 21:22-25 ) (excerpts from Biblical Abortion: A Christian’s View)
As for taxes, Jesus is quoted as advising tax collectors to do their job honestly. He is mentioned/quoted about twice in personal stories about taxes, both times advising that people pay the taxes they owe. He had plenty to say about people who strive for and value the accumulation of wealth, and none of it was positive.
In the New Testament, Jesus offers more wisdom and has more to say about money than any other subject besides the “Kingdom of God.” I remember when I first heard a pastor proclaim from the pulpit that Jesus said more about money than he did about love. To be honest, I was a little angry. There was no way that was true, I thought to myself. I’ve grown up hearing that “God is love,” but now I find out He may care more about my checkbook than my heart? Sure enough, after doing a bit of research on this subject as well, I discovered that the pastor was right: Jesus talked more about money than he did Heaven and Hell combined. Eleven of the 39 parables He tells are about finances. ( “Jesus Talked the Most about…Money? “)
“Gotcha on that one, eh bro?”
Jesus presented the desire to accumulate riches as both an offense to faith and an obstacle to faith. This is something “prosperity Christians” find easy to ignore, by concentrating on other issues they think don’t apply to themselves (like homosexuality and abortion, both of which existed in biblical times and yet were not condemned, nor even spoken of, by Jesus).
Some of Jesus’ better-known quotes on the subject of money include:
* “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6)
* Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!” The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” (Mark 10:23–25)
* “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” ( Luke 16:13)
* “Whoever has two tunics should share with him who has none, and whoever has food should do the same.” (Luke 3)
Every so often when discussing the prosperity gospel, I hear proponents say, “But surely God doesn’t want us to be poor, does he?” ….People who say such things ignore the many Bible passages addressing wealth…
They also choose to ignore the many biblical passages warning against the detrimental effects of wealth—and especially love for wealth. You don’t hear prosperity preachers mention such verses. It’s as if their Bibles are missing them. (from “Bible Verses Prosperity Preachers Wish Didn’t Exist“)
Jesus did not oppose the payment of taxes. In fact, Jesus paid taxes. In Matthew 22:15-22, the Pharisees ask Jesus, “Tell us … is it against our law to pay taxes to the Roman Emperor or not?” Jesus responds, “Why are you trying to trap me? Show me the coin for paying the tax!” They brought him the coin and he asks them, “Whose face and name are these?” “The Emperor’s,” they answer. So Jesus says to them, “Well, then, pay to the Emperor what belongs to the Emperor, and pay to God what belongs to God.” Matthew 17: 24-27 relates the story of a group of tax collectors asking Peter, “Does your teacher pay the … tax?” Peter’s answer, “Of course,” is followed by Jesus instructing Peter as follows: “… go to the lake and drop in a line. Pull up the first fish you hook, and in its mouth you will find a coin worth enough for my tax and yours. Take it and pay them our taxes.” Romans 13:6-7: Paul explains, “That is also why you pay taxes, because the authorities are working for God when they fulfill their duties. Pay, then, what you owe them; pay your personal and property taxes, and show respect and honor for them all.” ( excerpts from “What does the Bible say about taxes?
By Ken Milani, professor of accountancy at the University of Notre Dame, and Claude Renshaw, emeritus professor of business administration at Saint Mary’s College.
Both men are Christians.)
“Got that? And keep your noses out of women’s and LGBTQ folk’s business!”
* * *
Pun For The Day
A cheese factory exploded in Paris – onlookers were showered with de Brie!
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May you not feel the need to consult Iron Age manuscripts for 21st century personal or financial guidance; May you imagine your own Amish romance; May we all get chocolate stuck in our teeth; …and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. AND GET OUT THERE AND VOTE !!
* * *
 For a variety of reasons, some discussed in this space, mostly summed up by my disdain for what is happening in that business: ICK.
And by check out, moiself means put down what you’re doing and listen to it, right now. Okay; maybe take a pee break first, if you need to (it runs a wee bit – sorry – less than 45m).
It starts out with a gabby, somewhat potty-mouth banter  between the Reply All host and Resistance podcast producer, the latter who has spent the past year following Warriors in the Garden, a New York City, youth-led activist collection. The story itself is an absolutely chilling account of head-scratching, mind-boggling, Orwellian-level abuse of authority. That the subject of the incident, Derrick Ingram, made it out alive (I don’t wanna give anything away, but I don’t want to scare you off from listening, either) is amazing.
It’s a prime example of “This is why people are protesting and this is *what* they are protesting,” especially for anyone who wonders what the fuss is about.
* * *
Department Of This Guy Is So Observant – He Should Have His Own Blog 
Dateline: last Saturday, breakfast table. MH, reading the previous day’s New York Times, says to moiself, “This headline makes no sense.” The headline in question came from the article, Inspired by Trump, Hasidic Backlash Grows Over Virus Rules; it was actually the sub-headline which he found bemusing:
Orthodox Jewish leaders have seen a growing, raucous faction of young men in the community, tired of pandemic guidelines and resentful of the secular authorities.
“Hasids, tired of guidelines and resentful of authority?” MH shook his head.
That’s, *secular* authority, moiself reminded him. I, too, found the concept ironic, as in, Hello?! Do y’all know we can hear you when you talk?! ridiculous.
Unquestioning compliance with rules and guidelines and adherence to authority is what the Hasidic lifestyle – what any orthodox religious life – is all about. Using the pretext of obedience to their god’s will, the insular Hasidic communities follow rules and regs about what and when they may eat, where they can and cannot live, what language they speak, what clothing they can and cannot and must wear – like the Shtreimel, the bizarre traditional fur hat a Hasidic man dons for religious holidays and festive occasions and those times when a guy just feels like balancing a dead gopher on his head – what they can do for a living, who and when they marry, even when a married couple can and cannot have sex – every aspect of their lives….
But health guidelines meant to protect *every* community from a deadly infectious disease? Dude, that’s asking too much.
“Wear a mask? Oy, that would make us look ludicrous.”
* * *
Department Of Have I Mentioned Before How Serious I Am About This?
What with the looming appointment of yet another antediluvian-minded wacko religious conservative nominee to SCOTUS, the subject of attempts to overturn Roe v. Wade is once again up for social media debate. I like this guy’s pithy phrasing of the reality that some folk still don’t seem to understand, even as many of us – men and women, religious and secular, even a Mormon mother of six – have pointed out that all pregnancies are caused by male ejaculations:
There are, of course, reasons for abortion that do not stem from unplanned/unwanted pregnancies and therefore would not be prevented by preventing irresponsible ejaculations. If you’ve ever known a couple  who’s had to terminate a much-wanted pregnancy due to medical reasons you’ve had a glimpse at the pain involved…and if you think that no one you know has ever been in that situation, as a wise friend said recently, “If you don’t know someone who has had an abortion, it just means you’re the kind of person they wouldn’t tell.”
What with the upcoming election, the ongoing pandemic, the stresses and pressures all of us are dealing with, I often despair at the divisiveness of our political and personal discourse. That said, I’m still going to draw my own dividing line. If you don’t understand this point – if you are a man who favors regulating the bodily autonomy of women but not men (and if you’re a woman with the same opinions, WTF is wrong with you?) and are not willing to just MYOFB on this issue, please, stay away from me, stay away from my husband, my family, my pets, my car, lawn, my recycling bin, my pear tree….
Side note that shouldn’t be a side note, but a main talking point: I’ve witnessed plenty of women being asked if they’d ever had an abortion, but have yet to see a man asked if he’s ever been the *cause* of an abortion.
Let’s change that, shall we?
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Department Of For Those Who Wonder What Is The Concept Of Bodily Autonomy Sub-Department of And For The Rest Of Us Who Think That Women Should Have As Much Or More Bodily Autonomy Than A Corpse
* * *
Different as in, lightening up the subject matter. It’s time to giggle.
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Department Of The Following Joke Is Courtesy Of Sigourney Weaver
Yeah, we’re best buds, didn’t you know? She calls me up to share her latest jokes. The Sigster is quite the gagster, which surprises some people who primarily think of her as a flamethrower-wielding, saving-the-world-from aliens, warrior woman. This jest of hers had me in fits of pig-snorting laughter. 
My doctor told me I have to stop masturbating. I asked, “Why?” She said, “Because I’m trying to examine you.”
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Department Of Trying To Be A Good Citizen….
Even as I don’t like wearing a mask, I alwaysdo when I go out. But they are a problem for me; it seems like I bought about 15 different kinds, trying to get a good fit, but no matter what the style they don’t want to stay around my ears and are always popping off.
Do you remember the “earlobes” lesson? Maybe they don’t use that example in school anymore, but both MH and I remember that, when we were in our high school science classes, two basic human traits were used to introduce students to concepts in genetics: eye color, and earlobe shape.
If earlobes hang free, they are detached. If they connect directly to the sides of the head, they are attached. Free/unattached is the dominant trait. Scientists used to think this trait was controlled by a single gene; thus, it was a good illustrative introduction to genetics, with students having fun comparing earlobes, and going home and doing the same with their parents and siblings. Nowadays, geneticists think it is likely that several genes contribute to this trait.
MH said that my attached earlobes make it difficult for the mask strings to get a good hold. I’d completely forgotten that moiself has attached earlobes, until MH was helping me with a stubborn mask, and pointed that out. I had to pout for a moment.
I HAVE A GENETIC DISABILITY.
I WANT MY OWN PARKING SPACE, DAMMIT.
* * *
Pun For The Day
Never trust atoms – they make up everything.
“I swear, one more bad science pun and….”
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Department Of Just Thinkin’
On my early morning walks, I listen to podcasts. When a podcast ends, depending on its length/how many minutes I have before I return home, moiself either tunes in to another podcast or switches to some music.
I’ve noticed that I walk faster, with the proverbial spring in my step, when music is coming through my earbuds. Occasionally I wonder if someone walking behind or towards moiselfwould notice the difference:
“Look at her – The Fresh Air interview must have ended and now she’s listening to The Go-Gos….”
Who could resist bopping to that?
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Department Of Th-Th-Th-That’s All, Folks
Among the many observations of #45 which are supposed to be character- revealing is the fact that he is the first president since James Polk (over 170 years ago!) who has not kept a pet while in the White House.
Not true, sez moiself. What about his lap dog, William Barr?
* * *
May you have more bodily autonomy than a corpse; May you take pity (but not patronizingly so) on we recessive freaks of nature who have attached earlobes; May you remember that, when it comes to boppin’ out to The Go-Gos, resistance is futile; …and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 But why the fuck would anyone who reads this blog object to that shit?
 Or, at least he should get mentioned in several footnotes.
 Or you yourself have been part of that couple.
 Okay, so I actually saw this on a NY Times link to famous people telling jokes…but I want Sigourney to know I would be a good audience for her humor, and we should hang out, some time soon. Unless she has a problem with PWAE (People With Attached Earlobes).
Department Of One Person‘s Cool Fact Is Another Person’s Bloodcurdling Nightmare
I count myself fortunate to be in the former camp, as per moiself’s reaction when I learned about the phenomenon known as spider rain.
Moiselfhad heard about spider “ballooning,” which is the way some hatchling spiders migrate and disperse.
But I didn’t know that a bunch of spiders ballooning at the same time is called a spider rain. Ain’t nature grand?
“Ballooning is a not-uncommon behavior of many spiders. They climb some high area and stick their butts up in the air and release silk. Then they just take off…. This is going on all around us all the time. We just don’t notice it.” (Rick Vetter, UCR arachnologist)
The reason people don’t usually notice this ingenious spider behavior is that it’s not common for millions of spiders to do this at the same time, and then land in the same place….In these kinds of events [spider rains], what’s thought to be going on is that there’s a whole cohort of spiders that’s ready to do this ballooning dispersal behavior, but for whatever reason, the weather conditions haven’t been optimal and allowed them to do that. But then the weather changes, and they have the proper conditions to balloon, and they all start to do it.” (Todd Blackledge, biology professor, University of Akron in Ohio).
(“Cloudy with a Chance of Arachnids?
Spider Rain’ Explained” livescience.com )
She’s ready for the spider rain; are you?
* * *
Department Of Celebrating That Which Also Needs Mourning
Thinking about the torturous path to women’s suffrage. As the hundredth anniversary of the 19th Amendment approaches, I’ve been listening to podcasts ( e.g., She Votes! Our Battle for the Ballot) and watching TV shows (e.g., American Experience: The Vote ) detailing the long history. Some of it I already knew, via college classes and independent reading. And, some of it I didn’t…and, as with many civil rights issues, learning the history is both illuminating and nauseating. The latter because of why there had to be a 19th amendment in the first place.
Two other amendments to the U.S. Constitution, the 14th – specifically, its first section, aka The Equal Protection Clause – and the 15th amendment in its entirety, should have taken care of that. Here are the referenced texts (my emphases)
Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
Section 1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.
Section 2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
The reason the 19th amendment was needed to give women the vote is because gender/sex needed to be mentioned specifically…because, until it was, the14th and 15th amendments would not be applied, to women, by male jurists and lawmakers. The only conclusion possible for as to why, given the gender neutral language of the above amendments, is because women were not considered to be included in the terms “people, or “citizens.”
All together now:
Moiself has also been ruminating on the broader implications behind one of the more common arguments which was presented against women’s suffrage: the idea that the awesome responsibility of voting would take women “out of the home.”
This idea was accompanied by the usual horseshit arguments re a woman’s supposed “delicate feminine nature/sensibilities,” which might be jostled by the strain of voting and civic engagement. That is an interesting juxtaposition with the argument that the importance and rigors of child-reading and household maintaining were such that only women were qualified to do them, yet no one argued that *those* particular rigors were too much for the delicate female nature.
Education; employment; political action – anything which might distract (read: unshackle) women from what was considered to be their primary sphere – taking care of home and husband and children – was threatening to most men. Some folks even used the lame argument that granting women equal voting rights to men would be a “come down” from women’s “superior” position That absurdity argument held that the raising of children made women the fictional proverbial power behind the throne, and that by raising future (male) leaders and voters women could more effectively influence public policy than by actually voting themselves. 
Really; they used that argument.
All of the emphasis on The Home ®- that a loving, stable, well-run household and the rearing of children are the foundations of civilization – guess what? No argument from moiself on that account – although I strongly differ as to the relegation of such important work to only one gender.
But using that reason – the paramount importance of household management and child-rearing – as an argument to deny voting to half the human population holds about as much water as a cheesecloth catheter bag.
Yep, I’m proud of that one.
The thing is, men truly didn’t believe the argument themselves, or they would have taken over the management of home and children.
Yes this is so incredibly important- the most important thing in the world, actually!…but we want someone else to do it, and we want them to remain mostly invisible, and have no political power.
History shows us that anything patriarchal societies deem to be of upmost importance they also declare women as being incapable of, and/or forbidden by “nature” (read: religion), of successfully doing.
If the preparation and maintaining of a household and the raising of children were indeed considered to be of supreme importance to society, where was the remuneration for doing so – then, as well as now? Child-rearing and household management, for women at least and for the most part, continue to be all-encompassing “jobs” which have no independent financial recompense, professional status, or safety net. 
So, yeah. The 100th anniversary of MORE THAN HALF THE CITIZENS OF THIS COUNTRY obtaining the right to vote…a mere ONE HUNDRED FORTY FOUR YEARS after their country is founded…is noteworthy, and the struggle for our country’s universal suffrage should be better known and taught. But the more I learn about what the struggle entailed, the less cartwheels I feel like doing.
And besides, mine would look something like this.
* * *
Department Of I Hate The Fact That The Analogy Is So Apropos
Friend JWW’s disturbingly astute observations, shared on Facebook, after the first presidential debate:
I am afraid of this president. If this is how he comports himself in front of the whole United States of America on national TV….
He was threatening and says if he does not win the election then things will not end well. What is that supposed to mean? If he doesn’t win what is he going to do? This makes me very frightened about what the future holds for the USA.
I am also afraid because I am a woman and this president sounds like an abusive husband or boyfriend. I am afraid because if a woman wants to leave a guy like that, she has to be afraid that if she does leave, he will come and hunt her down and kill her and her children. There is no way out. Restraining orders don’t work. So many women are killed even when the guy has a restraining order against him.
We need to vote him out. Vote him out. Vote him out.
And even then we are not sure he will leave.
* * *
Pun For The Day
Why hasn’t #45  ever finished a novel? Because he always gets stuck in Chapter 11.
* * *
May you remember to vote him out; May you remind everyone you know to vote him out; May you convince total strangers at the grocery store to vote him out; …and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 There were some women making the same argument, which should not be surprising, considered that they as well as men were subject to the same cultural mythos, forces and expectations.
 Other than via financial dependency upon a spouse, which can disappear at drop of a hat (as in a divorce decree or death certificate).
 There was nothing presidential about #45’s deportment.
 Aka Little Chief Bunker Bitch, and other assorted monikers employed by those of us who love our country and thus cannot bear to use the given name of the man who shits all over it.
The Democratic convention’s pandemic-mindful/physical distancing states’ roll call (in its entirety, here ) – how delightful was that? The usual political party convention roll call, with the delegates dressed basically the same (we can wear three colors – can you guess what they are?) and wearing those ridiculous straw boater hats, some of which look to be made of styrofoam….it’s beyond boring.
Well hellooooo, ladies.
Moiself sez let’s do it this way from now on, pandemic or not. We got a brief glimpse into the states’ – and US territories’ – terrain as well as character,  with a few surprises, too. Rhode Island calamari – that’s even a thing? Who knew?
* * *
Department Of Which Is The More Accurate Adjective?
What the radio podcast host said: ” (name)…is a board-licensed professional counselor.”
What moiself heard; “(name) …is a bored, licensed professional counselor.”
* * *
Department Of If Given My Druthers, I’d Like To Leave The Civics Lesson To Someone Else
What, BTW, are druthers? In the various idiomatic expressions which use the word, it does seem to be a positive thing. Do I have to wait to be given them, by someone else, or can I get or earn them on my own? 
If it were in my power, I would give all of you your druthers. Wouldn’t it be great if druthers turned out to be something like this:
Once again, I digress.
Moiself is thrilled with Joe Biden’s choice of a running mate. During the Democratic debates, a California friend (MM) and I were exchanging ideas/compliments about the various candidates. In MM’s opinion Sen. Harris, besides being experienced and intelligent and a razor-sharp questioner during Senate hearings, was also not the kind to put up with crap or betrayal – “She’ll put a shiv in you,” MM wrote admiringly. We both agreed that was a talent sorely needed when dealing with the petty viciousness and mendacity of the Republican congress. 
One of the many, many other things I like about Senator and Democratic Vice Presidential nominee Kamala Harris is that I don’t know a thing about her religious/spiritual and/or worldview beliefs. And I’d like to keep it that way.
Except of course, the Republicans will not stand for that. Even the (secretly) religion-free among them must grovel to the altar of right-wing Jayyy-suuuus lovers. #45 figured this out when he was laughing all the way to the bank (or golf course), passing church after church along the way, metaphorically thumbing his nose at them even as he was snickering about how easy it was to bamboozle the congregants.
The Republicans will look for every opportunity, during the election and debates,  to play their piety cards and jab Biden and Harris about their beliefs. Biden has already fallen into that trap –of talking about his own faith rather than telling those who ask that it’s none of their business as the USA is not a theocracy, and let’s get back to the issues….
Thus, I humbly offer my advice to Ms. Harris – the advice she didn’t solicit from me  but which I hope she takes:
Don’t fall for Pence’s religious rhetoric claptrap, and make him sorry if he even asks. I know you’re capable of going all prosecutorial on his ass…even though that tactic, if you employed it, would make your advisors reach for the smelling salts as the white evangelicals would clutch their pearls and gasp in horror at The Angry Black Bitch Atheist (whether you are or are not the fourth, you’d definitely be pegged as the first three). So, yes, I understand how you must go for discretion.
I also hope you don’t mumble platitudes about respecting everyone’s faith journey (although I understand there will be pressure to do so). When – not *if,* as religion will definitely be an issue – the subject of a paticular candidate’s religious beliefs are brought up, don’t ignore it. Instead, candidly and assertively steer away from the subject, every time it happens, and every time reminding us of why you are doing so:
We are electing presidents and vice presidents here,
not popes and pastors and vicars and decans – or rabbis, imams or mullahs, Zen masters or Lamas, pujaris or gurus….
I know, this is important…I’ll ty to stay alert.
American citizens hold a diversity of religious opinions. The candidates elected will be the President and Vice President for all the people, including the growing percentage of atheists, agnostics, humanists, Freethinkers Brights – aka, to pollsters and scientists, as the “Nones,” as in, we Americans who are religion-free and/or claim no religious affiliation.
Polls and studies reveal that 23 to 26 % of the US population – approaching one out of every four people – claim “none” for their religion, despite facing open hostility and discrimination from religious believers (and incurring a political liability as well, if they run for office). And scientists note that these 23-26% figures are conservative estimates.
“…psychologists…contend that there may be far more atheists than pollsters report because “social pressures favoring religiosity, coupled with stigma against religious disbelief…, might cause people who privately disbelieve in (god[s]) to nonetheless self-present as believers, even in anonymous questionnaires.”
To work around this problem of self-reported data, the psychologists employed what is called an unmatched count technique, which has been previously validated for estimating the size of other underreported cohorts…. (Using a) Bayesian probability estimation to compare their results with similar Gallup and Pew polls of 2,000 American adults each…they estimated, with 93 percent certainty, that somewhere between 17 and 35 percent of Americans are atheists, with a “most credible indirect estimate” of 26 percent.
As a former prosecutor you, Senator Harris, are aware of the average person’s cognitive capacities, so I’ll trust you to condense those statistics into something debate-attention-span appropriate.
After doing so, please give a brief reminder – more like a civics lesson, considering how many Americans know next to nothing about the history of our country’s secular roots – that the USA was the first country to have a totally god-free constitution. “God” – anyone’s god – is not mentioned in the US Constitution (nor is Jesus, nor Christianity), not even once. Religion is only mentioned twice, and then in exclusionary terms: in the First Amendment (“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”), and in Article VI, which declares that “…no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”
And do this – remind folks of the facts – Every. Time.
There will be some ignoramuses (most likely your debate opponent), even among otherwise seemingly articulate members of the press, who will confuse the Declaration of Independence with the Constitution, and will quote the former:
“But wait, what about the part where it says,
‘”We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights’….”
Here is, yet again, another opportunity for education. Remind the populace of the difference between the two: The Declaration of Independence (an “apology” and call to arms for the American revolution); and the Constitution of the United States (the new nation’s governing document).
You may also want to be prepared for when some idiot sputters about how his dollar bills say, “In God We Trust”…which he probably doesn’t know was not added to our currency until 1957, during the Commie/Red Scare era:
…and then he may continue on as how the Pledge of Allegiance contains the phrase, “Under God”…except that until relatively recently, it didn’t:
The Pledge of Allegiance was written in August 1892 by the socialist minister Francis Bellamy… (who) had hoped that the pledge would be used by citizens in any country. In its original form it read: “I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands,
one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” In 1923, the words, “the Flag of the United States of America” were added: “I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America
and to the Republic for which it stands,
one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” In 1954, in response to the Communist threat of the times, President Eisenhower encouraged Congress to add the words “under God,” creating the 31-word pledge we say today.
Bellamy’s daughter objected to this alteration. (“The Pledge of Allegiance,” Historic Documents, usdocuments.org)
You will likely also encounter shade from the historical yahoos who will crow about how the USA was formed as a “Christian nation.” Not only does Constitution make no such claims, we have the confirmation to the opposite, declared and signed by the very founding fathers of our country and the framers of the constitution, in the 1797 Treaty of Tripoly – which was sent to the Senate (by President John Adams). The entire treaty was read aloud on the Senate floor (including the (in)famous words in Article 11; copies were printed for every Senator; the treaty was ratified by a unanimous vote of all 23 Senators. They knew what they were doing:
Treaty of Tripoli, article 11
“As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Mussulmen; and, as the said States never entered into any war, or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties, that no pretext arising from religious opinions, shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.” 
All this history should be enough. Of course, it won’t be.
So, please, get the message across…in your own astute, succinct way. Perhaps, a more prime time-palatable version of the following?
* * *
Department Of Fun With Nature’s Wacky Reproductive Scenarios
“Some sharks give live birth from two uteruses — and that’s not the weirdest part.”
Dateline: earlier this week, listening to a Curiosity Daily podcast. CD is one of my favorite podcasts. As per their website:
The award-winning Curiosity Daily podcast will help you get smarter about the world around you — every day.
In less than 10 minutes, you’ll get a unique mix of research-based life hacks, the latest science and technology news, and more.
I’m not sure how much smarter CD has helped moiself to get, but I’m certainly entertained, and armed with interesting trivia facts, by each episode.
A recent segment on sharks which have dual uteri caught my eye (ear?). The takeaway: many shark species have multiple uteri and give birth to live baby sharks, which hatch from eggs in the uteri. Before being expelled, the baby sharks which hatch first swim between the uteri, and eat the eggs of their un-hatched siblings, so they can grow faster. In one species, multiple free-swimming baby sharks hatch at the same time and fight to the death inside their shark mom’s uterus.
“Congrats, Mom, it’s a boy…I mean, a girl…uh, make that, a cannibal.”
For some petty reason, I enjoy the idea of anti-choicers – most of whom hold a conservative religious dogma which says that their god creates and directs all life (so guess who’s responsible for this preborn carnage?) – cringing at these facts…even though sibling predation – “siblicide” – is not unknown in other animals (e.g. the newly hatched chicks of some bird species will attack and eat their smaller siblings, or push them or any unhatched eggs out of the nest).
As with every CD episode, at the end of this one the two hosts recapped what they’d learned. The male host, whose wife is pregnant, said that he’s been feeling his wife’s belly when the fetus kicks her, and now he’s thinking how “…that is really mild, compared to what sharks do.” He then declared, “I’m glad I didn’t marry a shark.”
“Oh, honey, can you feel them fighting to the death?”
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Pun For The Day
Presidential candidate Scissors was forced to withdraw from the race
after failing to find anyone who would run with him.
“Do you see what humor they have to put up with, in a so-called ‘free’ society?”
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May you support politicians in remembering and upholding our country’s secular foundation/roots; May you have yet another reason to detest that insipid “Baby Sharks” song; May someone surprise you with the gift of druthers; …and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
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 But California should have had a surfer boy standing between those two women.
 I could Google this, I know, but sometimes, it’s just more fun to wonder.
 Then added that, as much as he admired President Obama, “that was a talent Obama lacked.” (moiself ageed).
 Or, maybe she *did* and her email got caught in the spam folder.
 At the time of the Treat, Mediterranean Sea traffic was largely controlled by pirates from the North African Muslim states of the Barbary Coast. Many European seafaring countries paid a tribute to the Barbary Sultans in exchange for safe passage through the Mediterranean. After the American Revolution, the US was no longer covered by British tribute treaties. The U.S. decided to form tribute treaties with the Barbary States, and given the history of The Crusades, assure the sultans that the US was not going to use the excuse of Christianity vs. Islam to go to war with them.
Here’s the description of the activity, from the brilliant  industrial engineer living in San Francisco who started it.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, I started going on near-daily walks to help combat the monotony of being cooped up indoors all day. To spice things up a bit, I decided to plan my walking routes such that the paths I took formed letters and words. I call this activity SpellWalking. I live in San Francisco, a city favorable to SpellWalking due to the multiple intersecting gridiron street patterns to choose from.
( From the SpellWalking website Yes, it has I website; it’s a *thing,* y’all)
Check out the grid patterns – they are delightful, and mostly feature San Francisco neighborhood names.
Moiself’sfavorite (so far), due to its proximity to greenspaces, is the Haight.
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Department Of Say What? Sub-Department Of What Is The Emoji For Your Ears Doing A Double Take? Division Of Unfortunate Government Employee Names
Dateline: Tuesday; circa 11 am; listening to the car radio while running an errand. I tuned into the Oregon Public Broadcasting channel, to the end of a story announcing the appointment of the man who will be Oregon State University’s 15th president. Current OSU president Ed Ray will step down, to be replaced by F. King Alexander.
Yep, that’s what I heard – followed by those voices coming from the radio in my own mind, speculating about what form the complaints he (the new OSU president) will receive from those who are unhappy with his leadership:
“That F** King Alexander….”
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Department Of Speaking Of How My Brain Works…
I have layperson’s/”hobby” interest in neurology and neuropsychology – in how (scientists think) the brain works. In my If-I-Had-To-Do-It-All-Over-Again ® mode, I might have pursued neuroscience and/or cognitive psychology-related fields, instead of following the highly lucrative and emotionally satisfying and rewarding batshit crazy “creative” path.
But I have this one problem  when it comes to reading articles about neuroscience and behavior and basic cognition. Whenever I read about a certain part of the brain, a part located deep in the temporal lobe and most strongly associated with memory, ’tis difficult for me to get past the name of said brain region. I’ve learned that moiselfcannot take whatever I am reading seriously until I deal with an image that always – as in, everyF. King Alexander time – comes to mind.
Here’s what happens: I picture a college campus setting – a university whose student body is comprised solely of herbivorous, semiaquatic ungulate mammals native to sub-Saharan Africa. And I face that image, appreciate it, and set it aside…until I come to the part in the article which says, in essence, “Let’s explore what we know about the hippocampus…” and I am immediately transported back to that same setting, with moiselfbeing led on a campus tour by a student guide…
“And over on the left is our renowned fine arts center….”
One might think that, with the interest in/reading about this neuro-stuff (excuse the fancy-pants, science jargon) I claim to do, moiselfmight have figured out why my brain does this. Nah; not gonna go there. I suppose I enjoy it enough that the why doesn’t matter. It’s not something I would want to “fix.”
Fraternity rush season at the Hippocampus is intense.
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Department Of Not All Of The Oldies Are Goodies
Dateline: same as my first lame story highly entertaining anecdote. I switched my car’s radio from the OPB channel to KQRZ, a local station which plays music from the past (aka “oldies”), and I heard a song moiselfhadn’t thought about in years.
Wildfire was popular when I was a certain age. The song had always seemed melodically anemic to me, and I’d never paid much attention to it when it somehow got regular airplay. This time I decided to actually listen to the lyrics, and….wow.
“Is that a good wow, or a bad wow?”
Wowas in, this dull ditty was a hit song?
The song’s narrator tells the brief tale of a young woman who supposedly died during a blizzard while searching for her escaped pony, “Wildfire.” The song’s narrator is in his cabin or somewhere – we don’t really know – in an early winter storm; an owl has perched outside of his window, which he takes as a sign that Ghostly Dead Girl is calling for him to join her and spend eternity riding her stupid horse lacking the horse sense to NOT run off into a blizzard pony with her.
Wowas in, there’s not much to the story, is there? It’s too insipid to be tragic.
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Department Of An Oldie Who Was One Of The Best Of The Goodies
“Mel comes over most every night. We’ll have dinner and watch “Jeopardy!” and “Wheel of Fortune.” After dinner, we’ll watch a movie, if anything good is playing that night. We once said, “Any movie that has the line, ‘Secure the perimeter,’ you know it’s good.” (” Carl Reiner: Why Van Dyke is the best, Trump the worst and Mel Brooks is a savvy movie critic. ” USA Today, 5-1-19 )
Who is left among that generation of influential entertainers? Mel Brooks; Betty White; Norman Lear; Dick Van Dyke?
Reiner leaves behind an impressive body of work and a loving family, but here’s what makes me “grieve” the most, when I think about it: now that Carl Reiner is gone, who will Mel Brooks have dinner with?
My favorite Carl Reiner-directed movie is “All of Me,” which features wonderful work by actors Lily Tomlin and Steve Martin. Frail, condescending, wealthy socialite Edwina Cutwater (Lily Tomlin) engages the help of a guru to “transmigrate” her soul upon her death to the body of a healthy young woman. Edwina enlists lawyer Roger Cobb (Steve Martin) to change her will to leave her entire estate to the young woman. Edwina dies within minutes of signing the updated will, but via an ill-timed accident she ends up inhabiting Roger’s body, sharing it with him and controlling his body’s right side. Edwina and Roger are forced to work together to find a way to get her soul out his body, as well as to navigate mundane but essential tasks, as in this scene below, when Roger desperately needs to use the bathroom.
Enjoy…better yet, watch the entire movie, which is surprisingly sweet and sentimental despite its I-am-SO-sure premise.
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Department Of Even Harder To Comprehend Than Cosmic String Theory Is The “Success” Of Certain Attention Whores Celebrities
Carl Reiner, he of the multiple “slash” talents (comedian slash actor slash writer slash director slash producer….), was more than deserving of the fame and acclaim – and arguably, most importantly, the respect – which he received over a lifetime (his career spanned seventy-three years!), from both his audience and his show business peers.
And then, we have…oh, shit. I have to type this surname, don’t I, if I’m going to pursue this bizarre reflection? Let’s just say the name rhymes with lard-ashian.
“For F. King Alexander’s sake, just type, ‘Kardashian,’ you big baby.”
Moiself has never seen the Kardashian show. Of course, living in the culture, doing crossword puzzles, standing in line at the grocery store where there’s nothing to look at but the tabloid headlines or the ill-fitting clothing of the guy in front of me and I need to avert my eyes sideways lest they be further assaulted by the worst case of plumber’s crack I’ve ever seen…I can’t really avoid having a rudimentary knowledge of their existence.
And rudimentary will do, because there’s not much to know. They are famous, for…for what? For wanting to be famous.
Maybe there’s more to the show than that. Yeah…and maybe Chief Little Bunker-Bitch will join the Black Lives Matter movement and lead protesters in replacing statues of Robert E. Lee with gold-plated vaults containing the entire Spike Lee filmography.
I feel fully comfortable in judging this Show-That-I-Have-Not-Seen, and here is why. The Kardashians actively and openly seek celebrity, and in my opinion and that of many others who are Smarter And More Educated Than Moiself, ® that in and of itself is the sign of an unbalanced personality and bloated ego.
Kardashians and those like them pursue fame, as opposed to merely tolerating (or even grudgingly accepting) celebrity status as a by-product of something they’ve done, which is the “normal” or usual way fame attaches itself to a person.
Despite my being someone friends and family would describe as being outgoing or extroverted, fame or celebrity – being recognized by strangers – is something I have studiously avoided all my life (my former editors, pushing for me to do more publicity, might snarkily add that avoiding fame was the one aspect of my fiction writing career at which I excelled ). Thus, I am somewhat bemused and mostly appalled by those who actively seek to be in the proverbial glare of the spotlight.
Fame or celebrity comes to you, in most cases, if you do something notable and/or something which brings you to the public’s attention (e.g. in the performing arts). Not to be confused with the infamy accorded a mass murderer, you may become famous if, for example, you’ve acted in acclaimed movies. Yet, even then, the amount of fame coming your way cannot be determined by a cut and dried formula. It’s interesting to consider the variables, some having to do with the life a celeb leads, whether they actively sought the limelight outside of their professional lives or desperately tried to avoid it (and thus got more attention for that avoidance), and other factors seemingly random. Why did the paparazzi ignore a young(er) Sally Field, but pursue Angelina Jolie? (That answer seems obvious on the surface, but maybe Ms. Field had some really juicy hidden details of her life that a dedicated celebrity snoop could have unearthed). Why have talented, award-winning actors Meryl Streep and Frances McDormand not been subjected to the kind of tabloid attention that talented, award-winning actors Julia Roberts and Jennifer Lawrence received?
However those actors may have played on it or downplayed it, their respective fame is due to actions or accomplishments on their part. Their celebrity is a consequence, not an predecessor, of their careers.
And then you have the reality TV stars – yep, I picked the low hanging fruit that is the Kardashian family – who want celebrity (but will settle for notoriety) first, before they’ve done anything to “merit” it. It’s back-asswards: once they have fame…for seeking fame…in order to keep their fame they need to figure out how to do something attention-worthy other than to be seeking attention. The LOOK AT ME! LOOK AT ME! stage they should’ve outgrown by age eight becomes a thing in itself. You get fame and celebrity for wanting fame and celebrity, and in order to keep up the public’s interest in your fame and celebrity you must continually pursue it in extreme and tasteless ways.
But thanks to the advent of Reality TV, which has brought us our first Reality TV president, the whole concept of tasteful may have gone out the window…
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Department Of See This Movie, Right Now
Unless you’re on your way to the COVID ward of the hospital.
Otherwise, at one point in your life you’ve either been a frightened yet determined 17-year-old, or you’ve known one or (hopefully) have been a compassionate and loyal friend to one, as this movie so matter-of-factly and movingly depicts.
I just found out that I’m color blind – the news came completely out of the green.
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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!
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 Partial disclosure – can you ever make a *full* disclosure? – he’s my nephew.
 Yes, those who know me well might interject here that moiself has a lot more than just one problem… but how’s about if y’all control your intrusive thoughts on the matter and we can get back to the subject?
Active, reliable, sarcastic, affectionate, bipedal, cynical optimist, writer, freethinker, parent, spouse and friend, I am generous with my handy supply of ADA-approved spearmint gum and sometimes refrain from humming in public.