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The Dinner I’m Not Hosting

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* Taking my car through the car wash;
*posting links to the Divinyl’s “I Touch Myself” and Joan Jett’s “Do You Wanna Touch Me,”
on Facebook,
and thinking of Way. Too. Many. other songs for the COVID-19 situation;
* hanging a bag of nut milk   [1]   to drain over the kitchen sink….

Someone has too much play time on her hands.  Girls and Boys, are you, too, practicing safe sex Social Isolation ® ?

 

Abby, my Emotional Support Avocado, who typically occupies the middle of the back seat (always safely buckled in – click it or ticket!), gets to play inside while I vacuum out my car.

 

*   *   *

Department Of I Was Not Prepared For This

Dateline: Monday, March 16. Email from my yoga class studio (my emphases):

…effective immediately, we will be limiting class sizes to 9 students. With this class size, the “social distancing”
between students in our classroom can be up to 40% higher than the CDC recommended distance of 6 feet.
Our Older Student Population
Because you are in a higher risk group, we are recommending our students
who are 60 years and older to please stay home until conditions improve.

Moiself  immediately began thinking most unyoga-like thoughts:  Ahem, and WTF?  When did I get into a “higher risk group” when I can keep up with the Millennials in class and seriously kick some yoga ass  [2]  in pigeon pose….

Fine. I’ll be a Good Citizen. ®  It’s funny to me, how much that frosted moiself’s butt, to realize that I’d been placed in a Category.  The next day I was still a bit steamy.  [3]  Perhaps I’m overreacting…

 

Ya think?

 

*   *   *

Department of The Corona Virus Playlist
British Invasion Edition

For those too young to wipe your own behinds remember, the British Invasion refers to

“… a cultural phenomenon of the mid-1960s, when rock and pop music acts from the United Kingdom and other aspects of British culture
became popular in the United States…. groups such as the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Kinks…and the Animals
were at the forefront of the “invasion.”  [4]

Moiself  has listed some of those groups’ song titles which are, IMHO, are applicable to our self-isolating, transmission–paranoid, COVID-19 times. At first I thought to list them alphabetically, but had more fun arranging them in groupings:

* A Hard Day’s Night
* Don’t Bother Me
* Get Back
* Get Off of My Cloud
* Inside Looking Out
* Long Distance
* Run For Your Life
* You Better Move On
* You Won’t See Me
* You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away

* Getting Better
* We Gotta Out Of This Place
* Help!
* Doctor Robert

* From Me to You
* Gimme Shelter
* Hello Goodbye
* Helter Skelter
* Here, There, And Everywhere

* I Don’t Want To Spoil The Party
* I Feel Fine
* How Do I Get Close
* Worried About You
* I Want to Hold Your Hand
* You Can’t Always Get What You Want
* You Can’t Do That
* You Really Got A Hold On Me

* I Should Have Known Better
* I’ve Got a Feeling
* Misery
* I’m So Tired
* Ventilator Blues
* Wish I’d Never Met You
* Where Have All the Good Times Gone
* Who’ll Be the Next in Line
* It’s All Over Now
* The End

 

*   *   *

Department Of Another Way To Get A Good Laugh In Stressful Times…

…is to do something really stupid – something that makes you face palm yourself (which is one reason why moiself  is a Frequent Flyer when it comes to giggle mileage).

 

No question, that’s the most pathetic flying metaphor we’ve ever heard.

 

Dateline: earlier this week, after an at-home (of course) workout and before venturing to the grocery store. I change from my exercise t-shirt to a non- less-smelly t-shirt and glance in the mirror.  I reach for my toothbrush to use as an eyebrow brush: when I pull a snug shirt over my head, my eyebrows get a little unruly.

 

Not Andy Rooney unruly, but, still….

 

A second too late, as I have placed brush to brow, I realize that moiself had applied a small dab of toothpaste to the toothbrush a couple of hours earlier, got distracted, and set the toothbrush down on the sink edge without brushing my teeth. Thus, I now have very straight eyebrows with a dab of minty white toothpaste in them, giving me that certain je ne sais quoi (as well as a minty/fluoride scent wafting from my forehead).

The thing is, I did both brows before I realized what I was doing.  The second thing is, this is not the first time I’ve done this.  I’d say my average is once every two years.  Upside: my eyebrows have never had a cavity! So, yeah, I’m not absent-minded, I’m participating in an important research program involving the collection of dental hygiene data.

 

Stand back, she’s about to try SCIENCE.

 

*   *   *

Department Of Rescheduling Fun

There were to be ten of us around my dining room table on Tuesday, March 17.  Even before our state’s governor (in line with CDC and other health organization guidelines) called for voluntary social distancing, my guests began to cancel.

Not to worry, moiself assured my would-be guests via email, we will not scratch our celebration. We’ll just postpone it until…until we know more about what’s going on.  Also, I’m assuming my guests cancelled due to their concern for public health safety, and not as a commentary on my planned dining table centerpiece:

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Silver Linings

If something is good coming out of this pandemic it might be the concept of social distancing, which may come in handy after Whatever Is Going To Happen ® has died down.  Playing it correctly and not overusing it, you could artfully excuse yourself from certain tedious personal and professional obligations.  Y’all know what I’m talking about: that feeling of, “I’d rather stick a Tabasco-coated tuning fork in my eyeball than attend…

* another of my nephew’s ukulele recitals;

* our Homeowner’s Association meeting on proper dog-walking and waste disposal protocol;

*my boss’s latest attempt to mitigate his blatant racism, sexism
and homophobia by holding a pronoun sensitivity training session;

* my neighbor’s latest pyramid scheme lure   Amway/Herbalife/Mary Kay bait setting-disguised-as-a-ladies’-cocktail-party….”

Repeat after moiself:

“Oh, gee, I’d love to, but for the sake of community health,
and as per the advice of my ____
(doctor/psychiatrist/pedicurist/Mar-a-Lago online Medical School and Virtual Putting Green website),
I’m practicing social distancing.

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Problem Solved

“…1,135 people have needed intensive care in Lombardy, but the region has only 800 intensive care beds….
As the COVID-19 epidemic expands and the disease progresses, (ICU beds) are in increasing demand, especially because of the breathing problems the illness can bring. Every time a bed comes free, two anesthesiologists consult with a specialist in resuscitation and an internal medicine physician to decide who will occupy it.
“In Italy, Triage and Lies for Virus Patients,”
NY Times, 3-16-20 )

 

“Sometimes extraordinary problems require a supernatural response.  Fearless prayers is what is needed in this moment.
Let’s all pray for a swift end to the coronavirus.”
( Tweet by Jentezen Franklin, evangelical pastor, whose online service #45 claimed to have had joined for the National Day of Prayer to counter the coronavirus.)

 

 “…(Evangelist) Cindy Jacobs…said God told her to create a global day of prayer to stop the virus from spreading.
(  Mother Jones online )

 

 

When there is a shortage of vital medical equipment, Those In Charge Of Such Things ® face agonizing choices (and remember, every day in this country, people are placed on respirators due non-coronavirus related accidents/illnesses).  Should these triage situations arise in the United States, I’ve got a solution to easing the shortage.  Yes, I hereby volunteer to be Triage Czar.

 

I’m just in it for the hat.

 

Here’s how I’ll do it. Short of being able to talk to all ICU admit-tees and/or respirator candidates in person, I’ll design a simple questionnaire to be filled out by the patient or their designated medical representative, to determine the patient’s category.

Category 1:
Conservative Christians (and even the moderates and some liberals) and followers of any other religions (and the NRBS – “Not Religious But Spiritual” folks),
particularly those who claim to “believe” in the power and efficacy of prayer (or crystal energy patterns, homeopathy, reiki, etc.),
particularly those who pray for cures  (for any and all conditions, from cancer to “gay-ness”) for themselves or friends and family, and those who credit
supernatural intervention when they recover from illness.

Category 2:
Freethinkers, Brights, Atheists, Agnostics, Humanists: religion-free folk
who hold a naturalistic world view and follow the guidelines of medical science.

How does this work, you ask?

Category 1: Y’all who put your faith in the supernatural, when you are admitted to the hospital you will be assigned a bed in the chaplaincy ward,
where you and the chaplains/religious /spiritual counselors/fellow believers of your choice
can pray pray pray pray pray.

Category 2: Y’all get the doctors, the medicines, the ICU beds, and the respirators.

Surprisingly logical, for a human.

You’re welcome.

Should be a most revealing data gathering experiment, if my advice would be followed and someone kept statistics.   [5]

 

 

*   *   *

Department of Epicurean Excursion   [6]

Featuring this week’s cookbook, author and recipe:
Wildwood: Cooking From the Source in the Pacific Northwest, by Cory Schreiber

Recipe: Apple-Cider Raisin Bread

My rating:

☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

Recipe Rating Refresher  [7]

*   *   *

May you “put your money where your mouth is” when it comes to medical care;
May you always remember what is on your toothbrush;
May you have an epic playlist when you are in social isolation;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

*   *   *

[1] Don’t have a cow, dairy industry – I realize that almonds do not lactate.

[2] Actually, kicking some yoga ass is not a thing.

[3] The day after that, all classes were cancelled.

[4] Wikipedia; British Invasion.

[5] Of course, many people of all worldviews, including the supernatural, will have an immune system up to the task and recover on their own.

[6] A recurring feature of this blog, since week 2 of April 2019, wherein moiself decided that moiself would go through my cookbooks alphabetically and, one day a week, cook (at least) once recipe from one book.

[7]

* Two Thumbs up:  Liked it
* Two Hamster Thumbs Up :  Loved it
* Thumbs Down – Not even Kevin, a character from The Office who’d eat anything, would like this.
* Twiddling Thumbs: I was, in due course, bored by this recipe.
* Thumbscrew: It was torture to make this recipe.
* All Thumbs: Good recipe, but I somehow mucked it up.
* Thumby McThumb Face: This recipe was fun to make.
* Thumbing my nose: Yeah, I made this recipe, but I did not respect it.

The Exhaustion I’m Not Getting Over

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“I want my non-women friends to look at Elizabeth Warren’s trajectory and
understand how fucking exhausted I am, every woman is, today. Exhausted.
Climb every mountain, there’ll be a white man there already who
took the lift, and gets the prize.”

I feel this tweet in my gut this morning. I’d just insert “old” before the “white man”, because I’m ever hopeful this will change. One day .

I got this from a friend’s Facebook page last week and have seen it shared many times since.  It originated as a tweet; since I have yet to inflict moiself with that particular form of social disease media, I depend on the kindness of others to share the goodies.

Yeah, it’s been a couple of weeks…  [1]  and still I hate the fact that this nails how I feel.  Why does the glass in this particular ceiling seem like it’s made of titanium?

There has be a word for this phenomenon – most likely from the language that gives us terms like Schadenfreude and kummerspeck and treppenwitz. Maybe….

Screwdenfrauenpolitikscheisse

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Things I Forget Every Ten Years

Why do I get excited when the census questionnaire arrives…and then am disappointed, every time, to see how boring the questions are?

     

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Keep Calm And Curse The Pollen

Pollen, an allergy trigger for one in five Americans, is surging year after year…. A recent study in the journal Lancet Planetary Health found that airborne pollen counts have been increasing around the world as average temperatures climbed. The majority of the 17 sites studied showed an increase in the amount of pollen and longer pollen seasons over 20 years.
(“It’s not your imagination.
Allergy season gets worse every year.”
Vox, 5-21-19)

Dateline: earlier this week, at a grocery store.  One glance at the friendly checkout clerk and moiself can see that she shares something with moiself and one in five Americans:  seasonal allergies (aka, “hay fever.”)  Her friendly eyes are red, teary and itchy-looking; she is sniffling, and finally gives in to a sneeze, turning her head behind her and putting her face into her elbow.  The woman standing in line behind me sighs oh-so-loudly, which causes me to glance in her direction; thus, I see how she rolls her eyes in disgust and glares at the clerk as she conspicuously reaches for the bottle of hand sanitizer the store has placed by the checkout credit card scanner.

Although the clerk has finished bagging my groceries, I decide to linger and get chatty, in part to annoy enlighten Eye Rolling Woman.

Moiself, to checker: ”I feel for you…and I’m feeling it already.”
(I point to my own eyes and throat).
“Allergy season starts earlier every year, doesn’t it?”

Checker, nodding: “Yes, it does! And now, everyone is so paranoid…”

Moiself: “In the past few weeks, I bet every time you sneeze or cough you feel like you should have a neon sign on your forehead
which reads, “ ‘Hello – allergies!  They’re not contagious!’ ”

Checker: “Exactly!”  (she flashes me a grateful smile).
“I’m so tired of explaining it….”

 

 

Allergy season is here, America.
People, including moiself, are going to be sneezing and coughing.
Try not to lose your shit, and don’t assume every sniffle is an indicator of:

* influenza

* covid virus

* covert prius

* the heartbreak of psoriasis

* Ebola

* E. coli

* eHarmony

….and/or any other viral or parasitic infestation. Okay?

 

 

*   *   *

Department of Addendum/Apology re The Previous Department

I was thinking of the word/sound “flow,” from covid virus to covert prius to psoriasis, and meant no disrespect to people living with psoriasis (an autoimmune disease which, as Someone Who Knows pointed out, can be truly heartbreaking)!

I was thinking of that old commercial, wherein “…the heartbreak of psoriasis,” was used to promote an OTC medication (Tegrin), used for mild scaling of the scalp or skin, and which, like any over-the-counter medications, had no actual/beneficial effects in controlling actual psoriasis lesions.   But the alarmism of the commercial had the effect of getting people with just ordinary dry skin or dandruff to fear that they had psoriasis, and, as many doctors feared, it encouraged people who might actually have psoriasis to postpone seeking medical treatment and waste time and money on ineffective treatments….

Also, as MH pointed out to me: “There’s a whole lotta people out there who haven’t seen that commercial….”

Which I could take as a commentary on my age, but I’m not gonna go there.

*   *   *

 

 

Department Of Life Is Tough But It’s Even Tougher If You’re Stupid
Chapter 5 in a series

Advice is what we ask for when we already know the answer but wish we didn’t.
(Erica Jong, American author)

Not that I think people who request advice (in particular, from advice columnists) are stupid.  Far from it.

It’s just that, sometimes when I read a Dear Abby-type letter, I can’t help but think,

“No, really – we’re supposed to believe that you *don’t* know
what to do in this situation?”

I started reading advice columns when I started reading newspapers, which was…I can’t remember, but my father once told me it was when moiself  was in first grade.  From the nationally syndicated columns of yore such as Dear Abby and Ann Landers, and today’s Dear Prudence (slate.com), Ask Amy, and sometimes even Savage Love    [2]   and many more, I found (and still find) them to be one of the more entertaining (and sometimes educational) features of the paper.

Even the bad columns could be “good”  in some ways, as in the jaw-droppingly sexist, regressive (even for its time) admonitions of The Worry Clinic, by George Crane . The Worry Clinic (an advice column which appeared in my parent’s favorite newspaper,  The Orange County Register, and which I have previously trashed described here) had some excellent take away nuggets: mainly, that its consistently contemptible, anti-wife/anti-woman admonitions were a useful eye-opener for the budding feminist that was moiself.

 

 

So many of the issues presented in letters from advice-seekers – from dealing with the expectations of demanding friends, unreasonable workplace dilemmas, nosy neighbors, clueless extended family, partners disagreeing over sex-love-money-pets-careers-whatever – seem to me to have one thing in common.  What you’ve got is grown-ass people asking for permission from (supposedly) objective grown-ass strangers to make the grown-ass decision to tell people the truth.

Dear Moiself,
Blah blah blah blah blah blah something funny blah blah blah
something WTF blah blah blah blah,
and, I mean, really – blah blah, right?
I’d appreciate your perspective.
No real names, please, I live in a small town.
Just sign me,
She Hates It That Friends Are Calling Every Day

 

Dear SHITFACED,
First of all, thank you for the lovely acronym opportunity.
It seems seems like you already know what you want to do;
you just want a stranger (with credentials!)
to give you permission to do it.  Consider yourself permitted.
Moiself

 

And she wonders why her advice column career never made it out of space dock?

 

*   *   *

Department of Epicurean Excursion   [3]

Featuring this week’s cookbook, author and recipe:

The Way To Cook, By Julia Child

Recipe:  Steamed Eggplant With Parsley Sauce

My rating:

☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

 

Recipe Rating Refresher  [4]

*   *   *

May you never be too emotionally exhausted to try and tear down the glass ceiling;
May you receive (and give) advice with good humor;
May you be patient with allergy sufferers (and grateful if you’re not one of us);
…and may the hijinks ensue.

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

*   *   *

 

[1] Since Warren and Klobuchar dropped out of the Presidential race.

[2] Although I admire Dan Savage as a writer (and activist), his advice column, Savage Love  (subject: sex, sex, and more sex)  is not for the squeamish. Many is the time I have quickly scrolled past questions and answers as I – who would likely be described in his column as a straight cis vanilla middle aged lady – see things I would just rather not read about, thank you very much…and, eewwwww….

[3] A recurring feature of this blog, since week 2 of April 2019, wherein moiself decided that moiself would go through my cookbooks alphabetically and, one day a week, cook (at least) once recipe from one book.

[4]

* Two Thumbs up:  Liked it
* Two Hamster Thumbs Up :  Loved it
* Thumbs Down – Not even Kevin, a character from The Office who’d eat anything, would like this.
* Twiddling Thumbs: I was, in due course, bored by this recipe.
* Thumbscrew: It was torture to make this recipe.
* All Thumbs: Good recipe, but I somehow mucked it up.
* Thumby McThumb Face: This recipe was fun to make.
* Thumbing my nose: Yeah, I made this recipe, but I did not respect it.

 

The “Next Time” I’m Not Waiting For

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Department Of Let’s Get This Out Of The Way

Even leaning-toward-cynical moiself got caught up in thinking, if just for a moment, that the person with the really good experience and résumé and ideas…

 

 

I have the Post-Super Tuesday Blues, as was somewhat adequately delineated in this NY Times opinion piece:

“This is one of the vexing realities that plague highly accomplished female candidates… women whose résumés outstrip those of many of their male rivals. They have been told their whole lives that they have to outwork and outperform the men in order to be taken seriously — only to discover that it’s not enough….

….consider Amy Klobuchar’s conspicuous irritation with Pete Buttigieg’s precocity. On multiple occasions she noted that a woman with his résumé — a 38-year-old former mayor of the fourth-largest city in Indiana — would never be taken seriously. ‘Women are held to a higher standard,” she said at the November debate. ‘Otherwise we could play a game called ‘Name Your Favorite Woman President,’ which we can’t do because it has all been men, including all vice presidents being men.’ “

Whatever your feelings about Mayor Pete, Ms. Klobuchar was not wrong.”

( 3-5-20:  Elizabeth Warren Had a Good Run. Maybe Next Time, Ladies.
By Michelle Cottle, NY Times Editorial Board )

 

This picture of Senator Klobuchar, taken during just one of the shouting fests from the South Carolina debate, made me wonder what she was thinking about.  Klobuchar later described her thoughts in the moment ( to CNN):

“…Steyer moved over closer and closer…to the point I thought I could actually get hit on the debate stage.
I was literally sandwiched between the two of them yelling at each other….”

 

 

At the time it happened, the look on Klobuchar’s face and her hands reaching out in humorous supplication – I read into that as her acknowledging the frustrating double/triple/quadruple standards faced by female politicians.  As if she wanted to say, “Can you believe this #$@!??!   If Elizabeth Warren and I were going at each other like that, can you imagine what they’d say about women in politics?”

“As for complaints that (Warren) was too strident or shrill or hectoring or inflexible, have any of these critics seen Bernie Sanders?  Come on.”
(Michelle Cottle, same article)

 

Maybe next time.  Some day.  In the future….

Guess now I have to channel my hope for a vice presidential bid for Warren, so she can take over when one of the Two Old White Guys dies while in office.

*   *   *

*   *   *

Department Of Favorite Poop Stories
Family Division

If there can be a Board of Tea Appeals (USA), an Office of the Swan Marker (England) and a Minister of Toilets (Japan), moiself can have a Department Of Favorite Poop Stories.

 

 

Dateline: a weekend, at a Southern California campground, on a family camping trip however many years ago it would have been when my brother was three years old. At that age my brother was housebroken, but still needed supervision in toileting matters since, like most toddlers, puppies, and the Current Occupant of the White House, he was not in complete control of his excretory system.

Early one morning my two sisters and I were out exploring various spots around the campground. My brother (RSP) stuck close to our family’s trailer, playing with some wooden blocks under a tree at our campsite, under our mother’s supervision (our father was in the campsite bathroom, shaving).  RSP suddenly pushed himself up to standing, announced that he had to go potty “RIGHT NOW,” and dashed toward the camp restroom.  Mom ran after her son, but nature could not be delayed.  RSP, realizing he could not make it to the restroom, stopped right where he was and pulled down his pants.

Right Where He Was was in a neighboring campsite, under that campsite’s tree, six feet from a chaise lounge occupied by a man who was reading a newspaper.

My mother shrieked for RSP to wait for her, but it was too late.  “Oh, no!”  Stricken with mortification, Mom wailed as her son began pooping beside Newspaper Reading Man’s campsite tree. “I am so sorry….”

Newspaper Reading Man sat upright in his lounge chair, looked at my brother, then up at my mother. With unflappable tranquility he uttered these now classic words before he just as unflappably reclined in his chair and went back to reading his newspaper:

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of What Are Your Favorite Words
Which Can Be Difficult To Pronounce?

“Rural” can be challenging, even for people with no speech impediments.  Even better is “wasp”, and even better-est is the plural:  wasps.  If you want to torture someone who has ever had a lisp problem in the present or past, maneuver the conversation so that they have to say, “wasp’s nests.”   [1] 

 

“ ‘The Meaning of Life’? I’m still trying to figure out who’s the jackass who put an “es” in the word ‘lisp.’ ”

 

*   *   *

The Social Media Break I’m Not Taking

Moiself’s niece recently made a Facebook announcement about how she won’t be posting on FB for a while.  In the past year I’ve seen similar announcements from people …not often, but not rarely, either.  Sometimes it is due to the poster’s stated wish to bow out from all social media due to time and/or interest constraints; sometimes it’s attributed to personal or even political concerns (e.g., antipathy toward FB’s privacy and willingness to bend over and accomodate Russian election interference political advertising policies).   As for my niece’s case, she gave more than one reason, and alluded to (although not by name) a phenomenon social psychologists have been studying:  social media envy.

You might recognize the feeling if not the label: we can’t help but compare ourselves – our personal lives, professional accomplishments, travel destinations, even what we had for dinner  – to those of our friends and family as presented online.

Human beings have always felt what Aristotle defined in the fourth century BC as pain at the sight of another’s good fortune, stirred by “those who have what we ought to have”….

But with the advent of social media, says Ethan Kross, professor of psychology at the University of Michigan who studies the impact of Facebook on our wellbeing, “envy is being taken to an extreme”. We are constantly bombarded by “Photoshopped lives.”….

Clinical psychologist Rachel Andrew says she is seeing more and more envy in her consulting room, from people who “can’t achieve the lifestyle they want but which they see others have.” Our use of platforms including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat, she says, amplifies this deeply disturbing psychological discord. “I think what social media has done is make everyone accessible for comparison…. In the past, people might have just envied their neighbours, but now we can compare ourselves with everyone across the world.”

(“The age of envy: how to be happy when everyone else’s life looks perfect,”
The Guardian, Health & Well-being column, 10-9-18 )

 

 

 

MH asked me if I had seen my niece’s announcement; we briefly discussed social media envy, and he said he sometimes felt the same way.  I admitted that moiself did, too.  Here’s a lovely post and pictures from friends vacationing in Bali, and here we are, pulling the massively overgrown weeds in the front lawn, scooping the litter box, trying to untangle the serpentine jumble of laptop, monitor and keyboard cords underneath my desk…

And yes, I can feel this envy despite knowing/assuming that people (including us, of course) are only posting “the good stuff” – a picture of their daughter hanging the framed First Place High School Regional Essay Competition certificate on her bedroom wall, and not one of that same daughter pouting in her room because she’s grounded for trying to vape her grandma’s NyQuil Nighttime Relief Liquid ® .

Perhaps, moiself suggested to MH, we could take it upon ourselves, as a kind a kind of a charity cause, to improve the world with these tiny steps: for every Smiley Happy People ® post we make, such as a picture of an interesting driftwood formation we encountered at the beach,  we also post a picture illustrating the mundane tasks that fill up most of our lives.  We could post pictures of us moving furniture from the attic back to the bedrooms after the new carpeting was installed. (But then, MH countered, we’re effectively announcing that we’ve gotten new carpeting, and some might be jealous of that.  True, I said, but we could also mention how long it took us to do that and what horrible shape the old carpeting was, and they might think, “Well, at least *we* never let our carpet get that pathetic….”).

For every picture of a gourmet meal I prepare, maybe I’ll post one of the breakfast MH has almost every morning: Cheerios and soymilk and raisins.

MH’s breakfast remnants. Feeling less envious already?

*   *   *

Department Of The Last Cow-Related Post…For Now

OK, I promise, this is the last cow-related blog in a while almost. Last week, after my blog post about the mini-cow pet thing, a friend commented on it, which led me to his FB page, which led me to another friend’s FB page where I saw a link to an article about why docking the tails and ears…

 

Explain to me again how this is cow-related?

 

Ahem. …which led me to another friend’s FB page where he’d posted a link to an article about why docking the tails and ears of certain dog breeds – of any dog – is a bad idea:

“Dogs are born with ears and tails. They should get to keep them.”

Dobermans, Boston Terriers, Great Danes, et al, with their ears clipped…Cocker Spaniels, Rottweilers, and Yorkshire Terriers etc., with their tails bobbed – even as a child I wondered about such dogs when I saw them. Certainly, those traits couldn’t have been “natural,” and I groused (until told by adults to keep my opinions to myself when it comes to other people’s ”property”) about the hubris of humans who thought they could improve on nature – or, worse yet – that they had the right to do anything to an animal for their own aesthetic considerations.

The professional dog breeding and showing bureaucracies have – surprise! – been bought out on this issue. With a straight face and in Times Roman font they defend these barbaric (“breed standard”) practices, even today:

“Much of the opposition regarding these procedures comes from a misunderstanding of why and how they are performed. Many believe that these procedures are painful, performed purely for convenience or cosmetic reasons and have no value. This is completely false….Each of these procedures is a safe, humane standard practice that serves a practical purpose, and in the case of ear cropping and tail docking, preserves a dog’s ability to perform its historic function.”
(“Issue Analysis: Dispelling the Myths of Cropped Ears, Docked Tails, Dewclaws, and Debarking”, The American Kennel Club)

Yep, you read right: having ears and other body parts amputated is a pain-free procedure – the dogs told us so!

It gets better, with the AKC’s justification of a dog’s “historic function”:

The Boxer…has traditionally been used for a number of important tasks including… seeing-eye dogs for the blind. The cropped ears help enhance the Boxer’s hearing, thereby helping it perform its tasks to the best of its ability.


Other dogs…were historically kept in stables to catch vermin…. Cropping the ears protected them from damaging bites when cornering a rat ….


Hunting and sporting breeds…often go into thick brush to track game. While some of these breeds have thick, strong tails…other breeds that have weaker tails…prone to injury when they run through thick brush or brambles.   [2]

In the same way, a docked tail on a terrier makes it stronger, which helps an owner more safely and easily pull these burrowing dogs out of holes….

 

Gee, the breeds most commonly used for guide dogs are Golden Retrievers, Labradors, Standard Poodles and Retriever/Labrador crosses, and they somehow manage to hear what they need to hear without having their big, floppy ears cropped.

The practices of ear and tail bobbing are cruel and anachronistic.  Education about these procedures is one way to stop these procedures.  Another way is to encourage people to exercise their right to choose when selecting a dog breed.

“Mutts are the Hondas of the dog world. They’re cheap, reliable and what nature intended in the first place.”
( Columnist Mike Capuzzo, quoted in a 1994 Time magazine article on the effects of over-breeding which reported that
as many as 25 percent of the 20 million purebred dogs in the US are afflicted with a serious genetic problem. )

We now pause for the well-known if oft-ignored plea for people to adopt mixed breeds. Others have made the argument more eloquently than I could, including here and here.

 

It’s time to go all judgmental on y’alls asses.

 

So, you think you really want a purebred Doberman, for breed personality or other qualities, not just “the look.”  Tell all Doberman breeders you contact that since you’ve done your research and know that tail and ear docking are purely cosmetic procedures that serve no health or behavioral purpose for the dog, you want your Dobie “au natural.” Then, stick to your principles and refuse to buy one from a breeder who will not comply with your request.

If you cannot find breeders who will honor this request, boycott that breed.  Really; just say no.  These mutilating practices could be stopped in one generation, if people would simply acknowledge their own selfishness and brainwashing by breeders (“This is the classic Doberman look!”).

 

Yeah, like that’s gonna happen.

 

Or if you are, for whatever reasons, attracted to that ear-docked look, remind yourself where that “look” comes from.  If, even after educating yourself as to the barbarity and total uncalled-for-ness of tail and ear bobbing, you still want to get a puppy from a breeder who insists upon confirming to the breed standard and performing those practices, then you need to take a long hard look at yourself and your values. And don’t “adopt” any pet more sentient than a dust bunny.

*   *   *

Department of Epicurean Excursion   [3]

Featuring this week’s cookbook, author and recipe:

Vegans Go Nuts, by Celine Steel & Joni Marie Newman
Recipe:  Pistachio Pesto Rice & Beans

My rating: 

☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

 

Recipe Rating Refresher  [4]

*   *   *

May you never think a dog would be improved by amputating parts of its tail and/or ears;
May you be the proud protagonist of a precocious poop story;
May we all stop having to hope and work for a “next time;”
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

[1] Thanks to the podcast Curiosity Daily for the inspiration to remember a blast from my past. I had speech therapy in grade school for a mild lisp, and one day my fellow lispers and I tortured each other by challenging ourselves to pronounce certain words and phrases.  “Antithesis” and “wasp’s nests” were the winners.

[2] Well then, those breeds shouldn’t be used for such “sporting,” should they?

[3] A recurring feature of this blog, since week 2 of April 2019, wherein moiself decided that moiself would go through my cookbooks alphabetically and, one day a week, cook (at least) one recipe from one book.

[4]

* Two Thumbs up:  Liked it
* Two Hamster Thumbs Up :  Loved it
* Thumbs Down – Not even Kevin, a character from The Office who’d eat anything, would like this.
* Twiddling Thumbs: I was, in due course, bored by this recipe.
* Thumbscrew: It was torture to make this recipe.
* All Thumbs: Good recipe, but I somehow mucked it up.
* Thumby McThumb Face: This recipe was fun to make.
* Thumbing my nose: Yeah, I made this recipe, but I did not respect it.

 

The Senator I’m Not Speaking To

1 Comment

Since the Senate’s impeachment kangaroo court trial, moiself  has had a few weeks to ruminate on this…issue. I’m not speaking to this particular senator, because – well, for one thing, why would he listen to me?  If I had the slightest inkling that he would consider my opinion, I’d ask Mitt Romney to seek his party’s nomination for president.

I’d be upfront with him: Senator Romney, I’m not going to vote for you.  After the last three years’ clusterfuck of spineless weasels (the only Congressional mammal not on the endangered species list)…

 

“Hey!”

 

…and their internationally-recognized, shameless, ass-kissing and toadying mendacity, I shall never vote for a candidate who has joined (or has remained in) the Republican party – no matter at what level, from local to state to federal – unless s/he performed the most epic grovel in the history of groveling, explaining why they did not speak up and/or actively oppose #45 and his traitorous, Putin-sucking minions.

How your fellow Republican senators can still roam the halls of Congress – and do so without their aides having to haul them in slop-barrows specially designed to contain their festering, gelatinous excuses for vertebral columns – still baffles me. 

That said, moiself is not lacking sympathy for some members of your party who perhaps have been seriously intimidated and /or genuinely confused by #45 and his barbarian horde supporters. If these people are determined to vote Republican, they deserve a choice other than the traitor/huckster in chief.  So, why not you?

While you and I would likely disagree about so-many-if-not-every issue, especially those wherein politics and religion intersect, you were the sole Republican senator who seemed to take your duty and your oath seriously.

I realize that you are a politician, and likely value that power above all else –  even above the religious beliefs you credit for your political positions, as your stance changes in the past would indicate. Thus, I have no illusions to shatter should it turn out that your currant “courageous stance” was, at least in part, a set up for future political positioning.

How far to the right Romney has gone over the years has had a lot to do with where he was running for office and who he was hoping to reach. Romney’s less extreme side asserted itself in 1994, when he challenged…Ted Kennedy in Massachusetts and portrayed himself as a Rockefeller Republican.

Although Romney lost.…his Rockefeller Republican image served him well when he ran for governor in Massachusetts in 2002 and won.
As governor of Massachusetts, Romney was conservative-leaning but not extreme. He was pro-choice on abortion, and his program for universal health care in that state underscores the Republican influence on the Affordable Care Act of 2010….

But Romney moved way to the right when he ran for president in 2008 and 2012. Romney flip-flopped on abortion, pledged his allegiance to the Christian Right and the anti-choice movement and railed against universal health care…. It’s no coincidence that when Romney ran for the Senate in the 2018 midterms, he did so via Utah rather than Massachusetts….(as) Utah is much more conservative than Massachusetts…

( “Mitt Romney’s flip-flops: How the Utah senator has deceptively tap danced between being a reasonable conservative and a far-right ideologue,” alternet, 1-4-19

 

 

Still, you did what you did.  I thank you for it, even as moiself wonders why you did not publicly call out your fellow senators and try to sway more of them to do the right thing.

It’s ironic to me, that in a political body wherein the vast majority of the Republicans claim some Christian right wing and/or evangelical allegiance, and wherein each was required to take the following oath/affirmation, which referenced their deity –

I solemnly swear (or affirm, as the case may be) that in all things appertaining to the trial of the impeachment of Donald John Trump, President of the United States, now pending, I will do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws: So help me God.
(“Opening Ceremonies: The Impeachment trial of  [#45],” Wikipedia)

…that of these self-proclaimed conservative Christians, who generally and historically have abhorred Mormon theology (and denounced as aberrant, untrue, and blasphemous), it was a Mormon who stood alone, doing the right thing.

 

 

*   *   *

Speaking of ruminations, can there ever be enough cow stories?

Department Of Life Is Tough But It’s Even Tougher If You’re Stupid
(Chapter 4 In A Series)
Sub Department Of You’re A Special Kind Of Stupid If You Think This Is A Good Idea.
Sub-Sub Department Of No.  Just, No.

There is a link I keep seeing on Facebook (unfortunately posted by a few FB friends), about what moiself fears may become the latest designer pet trend: mini-cows.

“No Joke: These Fluffy, Adorable Mini Cows Make Great Pets! “ reads the headline of the article accompanying the following picture.  “Woah…cows? How on Earth could a person be expected to keep a cow at their home? They’re big, loud, and pretty smelly too, right?
You would be correct about that if not for Lovable Little Ones, a specialty mini-cow breeder…. According to Lovable Little Ones, cows make “exceptional pets that demonstrate a great deal of affection, are very social, and are easy to take care of….” ”.

 

 

Look at those lil’ cows! About the picture: moiself has to admit, it is so cute it makes me want to squeal like a newborn piglet and slap that hog-faced MAGA hat-wearer I saw eating Twinkies ® at the farmer’s market.   [1]

It is *such* a cute picture, no denying it.  Now, can we look at the bigger picture?

As for the “no joke,” headline – I agree, this isn’t funny. If anyone out there is seriously considering this, please, even more seriously reconsider – to the point of consulting a therapist and having them do cow patty aroma therapy with you on a weekly basis –  should you even think about having a mini-cow as a pet.

FYI: I’m not sure if I’ve ever mentioned cows in this space before, and now, after last week’s  screed concise yet heartfelt presentation of the dairy cow dilemma, two weeks in a row of bovine blog bits? Trust moiself, this is coincidence and not conspiracy.

So, moooooving right along….

 

“What the….”

Sorry.

Mini-cows. I don’t get who comes up with these ideas. Someone has an interest in animals, a bit of time on their hands (and dollar $ign$ in their eye$?), and says to themselves,

“Selves, what can we do? Maybe we could work with existing animal welfare organizations to reduce animal suffering in, oh, say exposing the horrors of industrial farming, reversing habitat degradation which leads to species extinction….
Nope, that doesn’t interest us. We like pets. OK, let’s work for ways to reduce the surplus pet population (1.5 million shelter animals are euthanized each year in the USA  [2]  ), increase spay and neutering options and availability, and find responsible and loving homes for the animals that already exist….

 

 

MYOB and STFU, Martha; we’ve got a better idea.
Let’s take an ungulate mammal – which in 10,500 years of domestication has never been used as a companion animal – and use our knowledge of genetics and selective breeding to scale ‘em down and create a whole new market of “pets.”

The following is from the website of Lovable Little Ones, the farm business blamed credited with starting the trend. On the home page of the site there is a seven-point bullet list titled, Why Miniature Cows? Here are three of the bullet point list’s “answers” I found to be most notable and telling (and primarily aimed at potential mini-cow breeders?):

* Miniature Cows are great tax write-offs for the small acreage farmer.
* Miniature cattle can easily pay for themselves through the sale of calves and potential tax write-offs.
* Miniature Cows can be a great business opportunity. Demand for good quality miniature cows is very high. I currently have a waiting list that extends into 2021….

Yep. Gotcha.

 

 

Hey, it’s not all bad. You can size a cow down, but it will still be a ruminant with a four-chambered stomach whose nutritional requirements equal prodigious intake of fodder resulting in prodigious stool production. Translation: Mini-cow’s crap will not be so mini.

Petty little moiself adores the image that comes to mind:  the clueless/ arrogant (or even well-meaning) suburbanite with a big backyard who is the first in her neighborhood to have a mini-cow. There she is, taking her mini-cow out for a walk, nodding in greeting to dog owners, the latter tipping their metaphorical hats to her as they pass on the sidewalk, the dog owners each holding one bag of dung swinging from their grasp, she struggling to juggle eight bags of cow crap (plus her “mini” scooping shovel) ….

 

And don’t think you’ll get away with saying, “Not me – that was must have been someone else’s cow!” if your neighbors accuse you of being remiss in your scooping.

 

So, good luck with that, y’all. 

But I don’t need to wish *you* good luck, because *you* will have the good sense not to purchase one of these vanity symbols/playthings creatures, right?  As for the breeders, come on, Lovable Little Ones (and other mini-cow sellers, actual or potential) – consider the moniker you chose for your business; then pretend, if necessary, that you really do love those little ones, and don’t create them in the first place.  Put yourself out of this exploitative business.

If you really think it benefits humanity to have yet another designer animal variant, you need to talk with Wally Conron, creator of the Labradoodle:

The inventor of the labradoodle, the ubiquitous, mop-headed designer dog, said that creating the mixed breed was one of his life’s regrets.
Wally Conron, who has been credited with sparking a crossbreeding frenzy resulting in shih poos, puggles and more, said the labradoodle was originally intended as a guide dog….
“I bred the labradoodle for a blind lady whose husband was allergic to dog hair,” Mr. Conron said. “Why people are breeding them today, I haven’t got a clue….I find that the biggest majority (of the doddle-dogs) are either crazy or have a hereditary problem…I’ve done a lot of damage…I’ve created a lot of problems.”
(Conron) said that unscrupulous people setting up “horrific” puppy mills, and backyard breeders who were breeding for bucks, were to blame for producing a glut of unstable dogs that would eventually be euthanized.
In an interview with Psychology Today… Mr. Conron acknowledged that the “doodle” name was “a gimmick” that went global.
“People ask me, ‘Aren’t you proud of yourself?’ I tell them: ‘No! Not in the slightest.’ I’ve done so much harm to pure breeding and made many charlatans quite rich.  I wonder, in my retirement, whether we bred a designer dog — or a disaster!”

(Labradoodle Creator Says the Breed Is His Life’s Regret: “I opened a Pandora box and released a Frankenstein monster,” said Wally Conron,
who developed the mop-headed dog.  NY Times, 9-25-19 )

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of We Are Lost, Hopelessly Lost

As the reality of the latest pandemic sets in, the world’s political leaders realize the need to consult with and empower the world’s greatest scientific/public health minds to coordinate strategy. Meanwhile, in the USA:

Donald Trump picks Mike Pence
to head government response to coronavirus.
( Headlines in newspapers across the nation, 2-26-20)

 

“Time for a quick reality check. Despite the hysteria from the political class and the media, smoking doesn’t kill.”
( [then] Congressman Mike Pence, in his op-ed “The Great American Smoke-Out,”  )

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of, I Guess It’s Enough That *We* Will Know It’s There…
But, Seriously?

Last week MH and I had our home’s upstairs carpeting replaced.  We (of course) chose the style/brand/color of the new new carpet, then just agreed with flooring store’s recommended carpet padding.  Come installation time, I’d no idea we would be getting a “woke” padding; i.e., one with a mission (or at least a message):

 

 

*   *   *

 

Department of Epicurean Excursion   [3]

Featuring this week’s cookbook, author and recipe:

Vegan Slow Cooking: For Two or Just For You, by Kathy Hester

Recipe:  Green Beans with Black Bean Sauce with Tofu

My rating:

 

☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

Recipe Rating Refresher  [4]

*   *   *

May you massively reject mini-cows;
May you wonder what charitable causes *your* carpet pad is supporting;
May you continue to speak to leaders who may or may not listen;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

[1] You have your illustrations of cuteness, and I have mine.

[2] As per ASPCA statistics.

[3] A recurring feature of this blog, since week 2 of April 2019, wherein moiself decided that moiself would go through my cookbooks alphabetically and, one day a week, cook (at least) once recipe from one book.

[4]

* Two Thumbs up:  Liked it
* Two Hamster Thumbs Up:  Loved it
* Thumbs Down – Not even Kevin, a character from The Office who’d eat anything, would like this.
* Twiddling Thumbs: I was, in due course, bored by this recipe.
* Thumbscrew: It was torture to make this recipe.
* All Thumbs: Good recipe, but I somehow mucked it up.
* Thumby McThumb Face: This recipe was fun to make.
* Thumbing my nose: Yeah, I made this recipe, but I did not respect it.

 

The Cheese I’m Not Cutting

1 Comment

Department Of The Problem With Legalization

While I am oh-so-glad that smokers of the Stupid Sticks  [1]   no longer face criminal penalties, moiself is less-than-enthusiastic about the fact that so many of them feel free to share their rank-smelling exhalations in public.  Read: yet another beautiful stroll by the beach, tainted by an redolence that can only be described as festering skunk piss.

 

Just wait until *I* start inhaling.

 

*   *   *

Department Of If Only The Cows Could Talk

Dateline: a rainy Saturday afternoon; Tillamook Creamery.  MH and I are on the self-guided tour…  I’m not all that keen on it, but he says he hasn’t been in years… And I find moiself looking at one of the exhibits and thinking, It’s enough to turn a mostly plant-eating person like me into a full-fledged vegan (I can’t quite get moiself to give up Tillamook’s pepper jack cheese…yet).   I’m also somewhat surprised that animal rights activists haven’t defaced this audacious claim:

 

 

I know enough about the company and its history to respect Tillamook as a co-op business that strives to listen to both its customers and member farmers. But those “Good Start” fiction propaganda claims elide over the facts of what is done to dairy cows in order to get them to produce the massive amounts of milk (it takes ten pounds of milk to produce one pound of cheddar) needed for cheese production.  And it’s not as if cows sign up at the creamery due to the above minimum wage salary and awesome health benefits package. They are forced into an unnatural life;  cows evolved to make and suckle other little cows, not to provide humans with dairy and meat products.

This Good Start exhibit, the first stop on the self-guided tour, makes it sound like Man In His Infinite Wisdom® has improved upon Mother Nature – that heartless bitch who was stupid enough to evolve cows to live in groups, which is oh-so-risky for baby cows as they are in constant danger from “injuries from older, larger cows” which – what, suddenly topple over and crush the calves?  When has that ever been a thing?

Anyway, so they take un-weaned calves away from their mothers and bottle feed – y’all read that correctly, they BOTTLE FEED MILK TO A (non-orphaned) CALF, whose mother and her milk are like, right there? Somehow, in moiself’s mind, that doesn’t add up to making sure the calves are “well cared for.”

I find it sobering   [2]  to consider that those (admittedly delicious) cheeses they make come at quite a cost to the animals (humans included; we are animals, too) which provide the cheese base material.  Costs to human animals include the fact that cheese is loaded (saturated?) with saturated fat; also, consider the resources spent on raising and feeding these animals   [3]  and then trying to protect our remaining wildlands and water supply and atmosphere from the resulting methane and fertilizer and feces runoff pollution, and the dairy industry’s over-sized contribution to global warming: “In the U.S., every gallon of milk (produced) results in greenhouse gases equivalent to 17. 6 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions.…”  [4]

 

 

OK; off of my soapbox (milk crate?)…. For now.

Confession: the eleven-year-old in me loved looking through the creamery’s floor-to-ceiling windows and watching the cheese packaging assembly lines.   In my grade school, when the teachers had report card prep or whatever else arose (or maybe when they didn’t want to teach), they put us 5th and 6th graders in the school auditorium and showed us factory documentaries, wherein the wonders of the Wonder Bread (or other mass-produced and packaged) product assembly line were revealed.

Something about the assembly line process – all the machines doing one specialized thing (“I’m the bottle filler!” “I’m the bottle capper!”  “I’m the bottle label applier!”), and the factory employees in hairnets watching the machines, working together to assemble massive amounts of…stuff….  It was mesmerizing.

 

And much better than taking another boring spelling test.

 

*   *   *

Department Of Gratuitous Fart Jokes Can Be Found Anywhere

Particularly, in a cheese factory.

 

 

I hope they’ve invested in a heavy-duty ventilation system to protect their workers.

*   *   *

Department Of Privilege, Celebrity Edition

Diane Keaton is one of my favorite actors. She’s also a good writer. I enjoyed her two memoirs (“Then Again,” and “Let’s Just Say It Wasn’t Pretty”) for her life and acting observations in general, and also for her specific recollections of decades-ago So Cal life that only someone growing up in Santa Ana (as moiself and Keaton both did) can appreciate.

I just finished her latest book, Brother & Sister.  The book revolves around how her relationship with her brother devolved from childhood best buddies to somewhat estranged adults, with she and her sisters trying to be caretaker to their artistically-inclined, poetry-writing, alcoholic, mentally ill brother.  B & S has been…problematic, I’ll say.  Keaton writes with heartfelt simplicity, self-deprecating humor and candor, but this book is…missing something.  It’s lightweight in  ways that have nothing to do with its slim page count.  

Here’s my problem.  Keaton’s brother is alive today (although dying of dementia as I type this) because of a liver transplant he received 20+ years ago. It’s a problem I know about because Keaton is honest enough to include this detail in her book: she grapples (very briefly) with the fact that her name and credentials and connections (read: Hollywood movie $tar) – including a substantial financial donation to a foundation run by the hospital which did the surgery – enabled her brother to get the life-saving transplant he very likely would not otherwise have received.

 

 

Yep.  Her brother was/is a schizophrenic? /bipolar? (he received many mental health diagnoses over the years) and an alcoholic. His mental illness(es) meant he would be unable to follow the stringent, life-long, after-care routines of transplant patients (ability to do so is one of the primary factors used to calculate a patient’s position on the transplant waiting list).  He also was quite upfront about the fact that he did not intend to give up the prodigious alcohol consumption which caused his liver to fail in the first place.  And yet this man got a liver transplant, ahead of others who had been on the list before him.

David Crosby, déjà vu?  Musician Crosby’s drug and alcohol excesses were legendary, even among his hard-partying peers.   Moiself recalls being surprised when I read of his receiving a liver transplant (“He’s still alive?”), then disgusted to hear how other transplant hopefuls remained on the list while a druggie celebrity vaulted ahead of them.

Crosby’s transplant raised a number of questions including: (1) did he receive a donor liver so “quickly” because he was rich and famous, i.e. is the system fair? (2) should someone whose organ has failed because of a previous “abusive lifestyle” even be eligible to receive a transplant in light of the current donor shortage? (3) just how does the system work anyway?
(“David Crosby liver transplant sparks vigorous debate on fairness of allocation system,” Transplant News, 11-30-94)

Keaton was upfront in her book (but quickly moved on) about the fact that the preferential treatment allotted to her brother was unfair, but, after all, she was just a loving sister doing what she could for her brother.  Moiself, The Suspicious Writer Who’s Had Experience In Such Matters, ®  can’t help but think that Keaton’s brother getting an organ transplant due to Keaton’s connections is somewhat parallel to the fact that Brother & Sister, a slim rumination on family relations, would not have been published if it had been written by another (non-celebrity) author.

 

*   *   *

Department Of More Fun With Writers;
Sub-Department Of Yet Another Southern Border Crisis?

English novelist Anna Sewell, who was not a horse, wrote Black Beauty, a groundbreaking, “first person” narrative memoir of the titular stallion’s life as a London cab horse.  Beloved by millions over the years, BB was influential in inspiring nineteenth century England’s animal welfare movement.

John Steinbeck was an educated, financially comfortable, native Californian, not an illiterate, dirt-poor “Okie.”  Steinbeck penned Grapes of Wrath, arguably one of the masterpieces of American literature, his novel about desperate, impoverished Midwestern tenant farmers fleeing the Dust Bowl and economic hardship.

John Patrick Shanley is an Irish-American dramatist and husband and father. He wrote the screenplay for Moonstruck, creating Loretta Castorini, a childless, female, widowed Italian-American bookkeeper, as its memorable protagonist.

Ursula LeGuin was neither a dark-skinned androgynous denizen of an alien planet nor a Roman princess in Trojan war times, yet this American heterosexual white Earthling, managed to convincingly create the lives of these beings and more in books like The Left Hand Of Darkness, the Earthsea series, and Lavinia

Stephen King, who was not  [5]   a shy, bullied 16-year-old girl raised by a fanatical, hyper-religious single mother, somehow managed to authentically bring to life that character and more in his first published novel, Carrie.

Boys and girls, can you guess which of the latest writing-outside-your-tribe literary controversies I am not-so-obliquely referring to?

American Dirt, in case you haven’t heard, is a novel about a Mexican woman and her son, the only survivors of their family’s murder by a drug cartel, who flee for their lives and head for the USA-Mexico border.  AD was chosen as an Oprah’s Book Club selection (which almost guarantees a bajillion copies sold, plus movie options) and received glowing reviews, including from Latina authors and actors such as Sandra Cisneros and Julia Alvarez and Salma Hayek.…until someone pointed out that the novel about Mexican immigrants was written by a non-Mexican, and the cultural identity police dog-piled on.

The book’s author identifies as white and Latina and has a Puerto Rican grandmother, but that’s not Latina enough for some.  Seemingly overnight the book went being reviewed as a captivating story that could “change hearts and transform policies” (Alvarez) to being “racist” and “filled with stereotypes.”  Just as quickly, the author went from to literary prodigy to pariah…her publisher even cancelled book tour appearances because of “specific threats to the booksellers and the author.”

 

 

Education and history professor Jonathan Zimmerman wrote about how reaction to the book is emblematic of our cultural “shaming” and “mob mentality” phenomena. There are people attacking the book who don’t know anything about it except that it’s been declared “problematic” and that’s enough to get them to revile the author on social media platforms:

Mexican-American actress Salma Hayek admitted that she hadn’t read American Dirt before she hailed Oprah Winfrey for recommending it and for “giving voice to the voiceless.” But then Hayek heard a different voice — also known as a Twitter mob — and she changed her tune.

“I thank all of you who caught me in the act of not doing my research, and for setting me straight,” Hayek posted the following day, “and I apologize for shouting out something without experiencing it or doing research on it.”

Do you think Hayek read the book in the intervening 24 hours and came to a new judgment of it? Think again. Her “research” was of the social media variety, confirming that a lot of people were very offended by American Dirt. And that was all she needed to know.

A writer for the celebrity website Hola! congratulated Hayek for backtracking. “It takes guts to admit when you’re wrong,” wrote Robert Peterpaul, “but Salma Hayek is gutsy.” Really? How much courage is required to put your finger in the air, figure out which way the Instagram winds are blowing, and adjust your opinions accordingly?

( “ ‘American Dirt’ controversy scores another win for mob mentality,”
Philadelphia Inquirer 2-3-20)

 

 

Can a book be “good” or “bad” because of/in spite of what you think about the author’s personal characteristics, or their “qualifications” to write it in the first place?  I’m not talking about textbooks, instruction manuals, or nonfiction – not talking about how, yes, you’d want a rocket scientist and not a manicurist to write a rocket science manual. But the qualifications for a fiction writer to write on any subject are a bit more subjective, and include interest, imagination, and empathy.

There are legitimate beefs being brought up in the AD brouhaha, having to do with the historical marginalization of “non-mainstream” voices.  From talk show gag writing to movie directing, arts and literature are (still) fields rigged by and designed to favor white males.  Many of these men are sincere allies of female/non-white artists; nevertheless, it is sadly apparent that they don’t understand that the playing field is (still) not level, as indicated by comments such as, that when it comes to voting for awards they “…would never consider diversity in matters of art. Only quality.”   [6]

 

 

There are *so many* conversations to be had about the historic and ongoing dominance of the while/male perspective in the arts in general and literature in particular, including who gets to decide what is “quality” and who’s perspectives are publishable or award-worthy…and who gets a million dollar advance for their book.

Novelist Ann Patchett, pointing out that the AD author had received a seven-figure advance for her novel:

“I read the book and I loved it…There’s a level of viciousness that comes from a woman getting a big advance and a lot of attention….  If it had been a small advance with a small review in the back of the book section, I don’t think we’d be seeing the same level of outrage.”
( “Cultural appropriation, say critics. Sexism, defenders say of the criticism. How ‘American Dirt’ launched a publishing firestorm,” The Oregonian, 1-27-20)

The thing is, now that the caca has hit the fan, no one, from layperson reader to professional literary critic, will be able to read or review the book objectively without their reactions and opinions being viewed through the warped lens of identity politics.  As I have written before and will doubtless write again, my main concern in these literary skirmishes is my concern for censorship (and worse yet, IMHO, self-censorship), in that a writer’s personal characteristics are deemed more important than their capacity for imagination, research, and empathy.

One of the most dangerous but effective kinds of censorship for a writer is when “they” get you to do it to yourself. I’ve watched with lip-curling disdain and alarm while claims of authenticity and charges of appropriation have seeped into the literary and publishing world.

The stench of the well-intended, silent-but-deadly admonition to “write what you know” has become “write what you are,” and the cherished ideals of imagination, empathy and craft are in danger of becoming subservient to identity politics.

In this write-what-you-know/are, A & A (authenticity & appropriation) world, an author cannot – or rather, should not – create or even write about certain characters unless the author shares what the self-appointed A & A police deem as those characters’ primary representative markers (hint: “race,” ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, dis/ability….).

(“The Comments I’m Not Making,” 9-27-19)

 

 

Yep, I’m quoting moiself.  Because…I can.

“I often quote myself. It adds spice to my conversation.”
(George Bernard Shaw)

*   *   *

Department of Epicurean Excursion   [7]

Featuring this week’s cookbook, author and recipe:
Vegan Planet, by Robin Robertson

Recipes:
* Mahogany Eggplant
* Red Bean and Sweet Potato Curry

My rating for both recipes:

☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

Recipe Rating Refresher  [8] 

*   *   *

May you “play fair” in matters of life and death and organ transplants;
May you realize when the playing fields are and are not level;
May you eat less cheese (but tell more cutting-the-cheese jokes);
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

[1] My old nickname for joints, because of the effect it had on those who, unlike Bill Clinton,* did* inhale.

[2] And it was the early afternoon and I was already sober.

[3] More farmland in the USA is devoted to raising meat-animal feed than food for human animals.

[4] “Cows vs. Nuts: Who Gets to Be Called Milk, and Are They Climate Friendly?”

[5] Although, with a Stephen King book, anything could happen….

[6] Author Stephen King made that Tweet, regarding the 2020 “Oscars-So-White-male” controversy. King, a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, gets to vote in certain Oscar award categories.

[7] A recurring feature of this blog, since week 2 of April 2019, wherein moiself decided that moiself would go through my cookbooks alphabetically and, one day a week, cook (at least) once recipe from one book.

[8]

* Two Thumbs up:  Liked it
* Two Hamster Thumbs Up :  Loved it
* Thumbs Down – Not even Kevin, a character from The Office who’d eat anything, would like this.
* Twiddling Thumbs: I was, in due course, bored by this recipe.
* Thumbscrew: It was torture to make this recipe.
* All Thumbs: Good recipe, but I somehow mucked it up .
* Thumby McThumb Face: This recipe was fun to make.
* Thumbing my nose: Yeah, I made this recipe, but I did not respect it.

 

The Habits I’m Not Building

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Department Of Is Writing This Weekly Blog A Good Habit,
Or Indicative of Moiself’s Amazing Willpower?

At the end of last month, just around the time when folks might be thinking of making New Year’s resolutions, the Hidden Brain podcast ran an appropriate episode:

“At the beginning of the year, many of us make resolutions for the months to come. We vow to work out more, procrastinate less, or save more money. Though some people stick with these aspirations, many of us fall short. How do we actually develop good habits and maintain them? What about breaking bad ones?”
( “Creatures Of Habit: How Habits Shape Who We Are — And Who We Become”
(12-30-19), intro to Hidden Brain podcast)

Moiself had listened to the podcast when it first ran, but did so while distracted and didn’t remember much about it.  When MH asked me earlier this week if I had listened to it, I decided to relisten. MH found the podcast, especially the parts about how people use psychological “tricks” on themselves to build habits, to be very interesting:

“It turns out that when you build a habit, it’s like putting on a set of unconscious mental blinders. Once in place, the blinders protect you from temptations and distractions.
The more you ignore those temptations, the stronger the blinders become. To put this another way, habits are self-reinforcing. They can be difficult to start but once in place, they have a life of their own because they stop being conscious and become automatic and unconscious.
In fact, once you have developed a habit, you will stick to it even if the alternative is objectively easier.”

 

 

I was more interested in the mini-debate/subtext of the episode.  The host, NPR Social Science correspondent Shankar Vedantam, and his guest, Wendy Wood, USC professor of psychology and business, bantered about the idea that “… significant numbers of Americans believe that the way to change their behavior is through self-control, that willpower is the key to either making changes that stick or to making changes that fail to stick.”  Wood cited several examples of willpower fail, and said that “performing a behavior,” which leads to habit-building, is more effective.

IMHO, the points that were made re habit vs. willpower were mere quibbling over semantics. For true behavior and/or lifestyle alteration you need both, and there is overlap. Neither the host nor his guest made the delineation clear; it seemed as they were acknowledging – or assuming – that there is something “judgy” about using the term willpower, so they refer to “establishing good habits” instead of “exercising willpower.”

As someone who, over the years, has established and maintained several good habits (e.g. regular exercise) as well as taken on a few bad ones (never you mind), it is both my opinion and experience that you can’t have good habits without willpower, and vice-versa.  “Good habits” and willpower” are complementary, not conflicting.  But as long as we aren’t sure about this, someone will try to convince us one way or another.

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Life Is Tough But It’s Even Tougher If You’re Stupid
Chapter 3 in a series

When driving to or from Tacoma,   [1] one of the sights I have come to look forward to is the Right Wing Uncle Sam Billboard ® , on the east side of I-5 near Chehalis, WA.

 

 

This message is par for the course for Right Wing Uncle Sam (RWUS), whose baleful countenance reminds me of Balok, the fearsome (and false, as it turns out) alien from the Star Trek TOS episode, The Corbomite Maneuver.

 

 

The billboard is notorious in These Here Parts (it even has its own Wikipedia entry!), and has been up since the 1970s. The original wackadoodle wingnut archconservative who erected and maintained the billboard and changed the messages weekly died over a decade ago; his survivors have kept it going.

Poor RWUS, seemingly doomed for life to hector travelers north and south (it’s a two-sided wingnut fest billboard!). No wonder his severe visage, as if he were trying to maintain composure while being administered a perpetual colonoscopy by government-employed, immigrant gay Russian liberal Muslims dressed like John Kerry.   [2]

Returning to Oregon on Sunday after a long weekend in Tacoma, my view on the trip south was a rather mild, for RWUS: “Be glad Pelosi is not commander-in-chief.”  I forget what it was on the trip north…but RWUS seems to be losing his fire.  I used to count on his irrational screeds entertaining and stimulating messages to lull me out of highway hypnosis and remind moiself to pull over at the next rest stop and do some calisthenics.

 

*   *   *

Blog Department Of I’m Too Old For This…Except When I’m Not.

My most recent opportunity to see Right Wing Uncle Sam Billboard ® was last weekend, when I ventured north to help daughter Belle move from her tiny studio apartment into a roomier rental.  Belle is much cuter than but just as strong as the proverbial ox…

…as I was, at her age (well, the strong part).  But the Strong Young People ® who were promised to help Belle and I never materialized.  So it was my daughter and moiself, the latter feeling (and probably looking) more like the Decrepit Crypt Keeper than the Dynamic Couch Mover after two days of schlepping furniture and boxes up and down stairs and in and out of vans….

“I’m almost forty years older than you,” I huffed on Day 2, trying (and failing) to find a handhold on one end of a very heavy and extremely softly upholstered (read: slippery) couch.  “I’m too old for this…I can’t do this anymore.”

“But, you *are* doing this,” Belle remarked.

Which caused moiself  to wonder, Who raised this smartass?

 

“You want the futon *where*?”

 

*   *   *

Department Of Reflections,
While Resting Outside An Apartment Building,
Between Bouts of Furniture Moving,
Watching People And Their Dogs Walk By

Aka, Dog Poo Haiku

I see them each day:
Patiently, or otherwise
waiting, bag in hand.

Before them it squats:
hindquarters raised; tail aloft;
butthole aquiver.

The owners stand by,
impassively accepting
their twice daily task.

I often wonder,
as the doggies deliver
a fresh poop package,

If their owners knew
what they’d be getting into
each day, without fail

This is what you do;
A primal identity:
Fetcher of feces.

They scoop, once again.
I smile, silently praising
our litterboxes.

 

*   *   *

 

Department Of Well, Duh
Sub Department Of It’s Nice To Give The “Florida Man” Headline A Break, And See
“Florida Woman Does BatShit Crazy Thing” For A Change

It seems that some Christian folks be losing their Jesus shit over a video clip of President #45’s “Spiritual Adviser…”

 

Yeah, I know, right?

 

Ahem…the President’s Spiritual Adviser Paula White, her arms shaking in Pentecostal fundy lunacy fervor, praying during her January 5 sermon to congregants at her City of Loony Tunes Destiny church in Apopka, Florida. In the clip, posted to Twitter by a group that monitors radical right wing organizations, White prays as Jesus instructed his followers to do,  [3] and urges her flock to “…Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.”

 

 

Well of course she doesn’t.  Instead, she blathers entreats her supernatural friends:

“In the name of Jesus, we command all satanic pregnancies
to miscarry right now.
We declare that anything that’s been conceived in satanic wombs
that it’ll miscarry, it will not be able to carry forth
any plan of destruction, any plan of harm.”

Why is this so offensive and astonishing for some people?  Yeah, yeah, there is the flaming hypocrisy of a Pentecostal preacher who opposes abortion calling for her deity to abort pregnancies of people she deems evil….  [4]

But, really: is this surprising?

My well-known and ongoing critique of religion is evident on these (cyber) pages.  I also count religious believers among my family and friends – people I love, admire and respect (the people themselves – not necessarily the origins and contents of their religious beliefs).   However, unlike Penty Preacher Paula And Her Fundy Fans,   [5]  these people’s beliefs, like the religious beliefs and practices of most contemporary American Christians, are informed and constrained by modernity.

Whether or not what I will call these MCs – modern (moderate?) Christians – realize this, and whether or not MCs consider their beliefs and practices to be an authentic interpretation and application of their scriptures, they simply do not believe nor practice as their religious ancestors did.  Many of the MCs’ fundamentalist fellow Christians criticize them for this ( “Cafeteria Christians,”   [6]  anyone?)

But this Happy Apostate is glad that MCs give themselves license to resolve their cognitive dissonance by declaring that certain of their scriptures are meant to be allegorical or somehow do not apply in the present day (even though the scriptures themselves say no such thing).

Look: I’m glad that most MCs do not heed Jesus’s advice to demonstrate signs of their belief by handling snakes and scorpions and drinking poison  [7]   because Jesus has given them power over such things and assures them that “nothing shall by any means hurt you.”  Even so, the practice persists: a professor of psychology at UTC, who has for 25+ years studied and documented serpent-handling among Christians documents over 100 deaths of sincere believers (this is in our times, not the 1700s) from snake bites and drinking poison.

I’m also tickled several shades of apostate pink that, despite their Jesus warning them,

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I have not come to abolish them, but to fulfill them.
For I tell you truly, until heaven and earth pass away,
not a single jot, not a stroke of a pen, will disappear from the Law
until everything is accomplished”
 
(Matt: 5 17-18)

most MCs pick-and-choose among the 613 commandments of their god.

I’ve no problem with MCs who heed the commandment to respect their god’s name (Lev. 22:32). I’m *really* happy that MCs ignore the commandments to kill non-believers (John 15:6; Deut 13; 2 Chron 15) and people who work on the sabbath (Exodus 35) and stubborn and rebellious sons (Deut. 21) and those who curse or blaspheme (Lev. 24) or have consensual non-marital sex ( Deut . 22 & Lev. 20) or….

I’m pleased when you MCs find ways to live peaceful and useful lives that help and not harm others, even as I’m gob-smacked by your naivete – e.g., your being shocked when a fundy preacher calls for your god to end the pregnancies of perceived enemies.  Because even the robes of modernity cannot clothe the naked nuttiness of the primitive, pre-science, blood sacrifice-based foundation of Christian theology.

Without regurgitating a tract-worthy summation you had to memorize in seventh grade confirmation class (or one which a friend or coworker felt obliged to “share” with you); without falling back on the centuries of Church theology that tell you how you’re supposed to see things, try to explain even one aspect of classic Christian theology.  The “Fall leading to Original Sin leading to separation from god leading to reconciliation and redemption only through the death and subsequent resurrection of Jesus (who, according to the Doctrine of the Trinity, was actually the afore-mentioned god).”

Try explaining that to a ten year old.  Or, to yourself:

“Okay, it’s like this: God’s own child, who was fathered by God Himself and who is/was that same God, according to the doctrine of the Trinity (so, yeah, God impregnated His own mother)…


uh, anyway, moving right along, God killed God’s own child  (committed suicide, actually, since the Trinity means that Jesus is God) as the ultimate blood/animal sacrifice, which was the only way to appease God’s anger for something God allowed the humans He created to do (and in fact knew that they would do, since God is all-knowing)…


and although this God *is* (of course and by definition) all-powerful, this God couldn’t accomplish this appeasement in any other way…and believing all of this is the only way to God.”

 

 

Of course #45’s “Spiritual Advisor” said what she said.  Even way back in the 1700s, enlightened thinkers warned political leaders and common folk alike of the dangers of the irrationality of religion:

“Those who can make you believe absurdities,
can make you commit atrocities.”

( Voltaire,  “Questions sur les miracles,” 1765 )

*   *   *

Department of Epicurean Excursion   [8]

Featuring this week’s cookbook, author and recipe:

Vegan Casseroles, by Julie Hasson
Recipe:  Pale Ale Stew

My rating: 

☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

Recipe Rating Refresher  [9]

*   *   *

May your habits and willpower peacefully coexist;
May your pet waste disposal routines inspire poetic masterpieces;
May you never be too old to help my your child move furniture;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

[1] Which I do several times a year to visit daughter Belle, who lives and works there.

[2] Some of the favorite targets of the billboard’s founder.

[3] According to Matthew 5:44.

[4] Read: opposing the president. She also prays during her sermon for the “superior blood of Jesus” break “any strange winds that have been sent…against our President.”

[5] Sounds like a Lawrence Welk Show side act, eh?

[6] “Cafeteria Christians” is a derogatory term used by conservative Christians to critique the beliefs and practices of more liberal Christians who choose which doctrines and scriptures they will follow literally, and which they will not.

[7] Mark 16 and Luke 10

[8] A recurring feature of this blog, since week 2 of April 2019, wherein moiself decided that moiself would go through my cookbooks alphabetically and, one day a week, cook (at least) once recipe from one book.

[9]

* Two Thumbs up:  Liked it
* Two Hamster Thumbs Up :  Loved it
* Thumbs Down – Not even Kevin, a character from The Office who’d eat anything, would like this.
* Twiddling Thumbs: I was, in due course, bored by this recipe.
* Thumbscrew: It was torture to make this recipe.
* All Thumbs: Good recipe, but I somehow mucked it up .
* Thumby McThumb Face: This recipe was fun to make.
* Thumbing my nose: Yeah, I made this recipe, but I did not respect it.

 

The Menfolk I’m Not Controlling

Comments Off on The Menfolk I’m Not Controlling

Department FYI In Case you Didn’t Already Know/Suspect,
I Am A Naughty Person

Dateline: last week, out to lunch at a favorite restaurant of mine.  After two large glasses of liquid (water and iced tea)…well, when nature calls, who am I not to answer?  When I enter the women’s restroom I have the place to moiself; a mere thirty seconds later there is a small line – just three women – waiting for the accommodations.  I hold the stall door open for the lucky gal at the front of the line, a woman with friendly, brightly shining eyes peeking above a medical mask she is wearing.  She thanks me, and as I head for the sink she calls out, “Have a good one.”

It was all I could do to stop myself from blurting out, “Thanks – I just did!”   [1]

 

*   *   *

Department Of Would Everybody Please Stop Saying This?

Dateline: Tuesday, circa 6:50 am. Listening to the most recent episode of one of my favorite podcasts, actor and science communication advocate Alan Alda’s Clear and Vivid. This episode features guest Dr. Lisa Kaltenegger, an Austrian Astronomer, professor, and head of Cornell University’s Carl Sagan Institute.

In Clear and Vivid: Lisa Kaltenegger: Looking for Life on Other Earths, host Alda interviews Dr. Kaltenegger about her professional and personal interests, how she got to be doing what she is doing, and her passion for communicating science to others.  Here are some snippets from Kaltenegger’s Cornell website bio:

Lisa Kaltenegger is the Director of the Carl Sagan Institute at Cornell and Associate Professor in Astronomy. Her research focuses on exploring new worlds orbiting other stars…. She is a world-leading expert in modeling potential habitable worlds and their detectable spectral fingerprint….  Kaltenegger serves among others on the National Science Foundation’s Astronomy and Astrophysics Advisory Committee (AAAC)….

(snip snip) It goes on to list many more committees, awards and prizes, even an asteroid named after Kaltenegger.  Then, this, which caught my attention. Her book title echoed what seems to be the common question or even meme when it comes to searching for life, whether sentient or merely existent, beyond our planet:

Her book Are we alone in the universe?” has been published in…..

Moiself  loved the interview. However, I hate (the phrasing of) that damn question, and was disappointed that Kaltenegger chose it for her book title…and also that she used the phrase at least once more – as did Alda, if I remember correctly – during her interview.

Are We Alone In The Universe? ® is used by people, from professional astronomers to sci fi geeks aficionados, as some kind of guidepost disguised as a question – as if answering that question is a prime directive or reason for why we (humans) might be interested in searching for life beyond our planet. 

Are we alone in the universe?

 

 

No no no no no no.

The question might be relevant – or accurate – if it were posed by a single person, stranded on the proverbial desert island or mountain top after a full-scale nuclear war, multiple asteroid strike, or other catastrophe which could justifiably cause a person to think that they might be the sole survivor on the planet.

But, other than that, the *we* question answers  (well, it refutes) itself.

No: by definition, *we* are not alone.  There are seven billion plus Earthlings – I hardly consider that *alone* on any scale.  But, forget for a moment Earth’s astronomically boggling number of human infestation residents.  All y’all need is one other person to make a me into a *we* (or a y’all).

I know, I know; the question is meant to summon the idea of whether or not we Terrans are the only sentient species in the galaxy/nearby planetary systems), along with the proposition that if we know there is another *we* (“them”?), we will…no, there it goes again – *we* will not feel so lonely?

Just who, I’d like to know, is feeling lonely in the cosmos?  There is plenty of loneliness to go around on Earth – some mental health professionals talk about a loneliness epidemic despite (or because of) our social media/”connected” age.  However, I truly doubt that anyone’s personal or existential loneliness crisis is caused by thinking that they are not, in their lifetime, going to know if the galaxy is populated with not just earthlings but also Martians or Enceladusians  [2]  or Proxima Centaurians….

There are Are. So. Many. Reasons. to be interested in whether or not there are biological life forms outside of our planet – the same reasons for wondering about any natural phenomenon. These reasons – our primal, driving curiosity to learn more about the natural world – are why we have science.  What is this?  How does it “work” and how did it come to be the way it is, and is there more, and…?

Yo, all, you Persons Doing Science ®, whom I admire more than I can say – keep up the good work!  And maybe please kinda wouldya consider dropping the Are We Alone? claptrap?  The search for knowledge needs no hyperbolic, quasi-query justification.

Speaking of important and/or existential questions about the universe, maybe I should take a poll.  Am I the only person bothered by this?

If so, maybe I’ll shut up about it.

 

*   *   *

Department Of And One More Thing…

At the end of his Clear and Vivid podcasts, Alda asks his guests seven questions that are directly or tangentially related to the topic of communication.  The content of the questions has varied over the years of the podcast, and has included queries such as

* What do you wish you really understood?

* What do you wish other people understood about you?

* How do you stop a compulsive talker?

* How do you tell someone they have their facts wrong?

* What, if anything, would make you end a friendship?

* How do you start a conversation with a stranger sitting next to you at a dinner party?

 There is a new batch of questions this year, but one “old” question made the cut:

* What is the strangest question anyone has ever asked you?

Dr. Kaltenegger said that one of the strangest questions she ever got was,

“So, *really,* YOU are a scientist?
I always expected them to look very differently.”

Kaltenegger and Alda both laughed when she shared that anecdote, then Alda told Kaltenegger “…I hear that too often from women scientists – the stereotype precedes them.”  Kaltenegger she found the incident funny; she had been giving a lunchtime talk in a church in Germany, and the question came from a priest who approached her afterward,:

  “…he meant it completely non-offensive; he was just like super-excited to see somebody who didn’t look like the textbook version,
but he was like, “Are you *suuuure*?’
And I was like, ‘Yup, I’m pretty sure I’m a scientist….’ ”   

What a truly odd question: “Are you sure you REALLY are ___ (whomever/ whatever you are)? “

I keep thinking of someone going to work one day, then suddenly looking around and thinking, “Hey, what am I doing here, in this laboratory, wearing this lab coat?”  Or, “Why am I looking through this telescope – where am I?  Oh, I must be A Scientist ®.”

 

*   *   *

Department Of Life Is Tough But It’s Even Tougher If You’re Stupid
Chapter 2.789 in a series

This rumination is related to last week’s blog post on Chanel Miller, the writer who was raped by the Stanford student/athlete.  [3]    Specifically, moiself finds my brain coming back to Miller’s profound query/accusation about social mores and attitudes about men and woman and rape and “consent” –

“When a woman is assaulted, one of the first questions people ask is, ‘Did you say no?’ This question assumes the answer was always yes, and that it is her job to revoke the agreement. To defuse the bomb she was given.

But why are they allowed to touch us until we physically fight them off?
Why is the door open until we have to slam it shut?”

Why is the door open until we have to slam it shut?” –  the poster child phrase for the view that women have to be in charge of the “gatekeeping” of both (heterosexual) male and female sexuality.

The “bomb” Miller speaks of is the mere existence of women’s sexuality. Until recently, both boys and girls have grown up with centuries of implications or downright declarations that boys and men are easily swept away by desire when in the presence of attractive females, and are ultimately “unable to control themselves” when it comes to sex. Thus, the burden of guarding and maintaining safe, respectable sexual relationships and conduct falls upon girls and women.

 

 

I remember hearing that festering-turd-of-a-social-norm from a boy, during one of the sex education classes my family’s Lutheran Church held for junior high students.   [4] During a class discussion he championed the when-it-comes-to-sex-guys-just-can’t-control-themselves line.

This immediately frosted my bony 7th grade ass,  [5]  especially when I considered a similar statement made by another boy, which I’d heard earlier in the week, in my social studies class.  The class had somehow got into a discussion re the dearth of women in politics, and Stupid Too-Much-Yardage-Between-His-Goal-Posts  Boy #2 began to blather on about how, well yeah, maybe a Third World country like India can allow Indira Ghandi to be prime minister, but that will never happen in the USA, due to the “fact” that “everybody knows” women cannot or should not be in positions of political control, because “…they aren’t as emotionally strong as men –  women can’t control themselves.

 

 

Ah – patriarchal rationality to the rescue!  Menfolk are in control of themselves…except when they are not.

And self-control, as “everybody knows,” is or should be one of the hallmarks of leadership. If you can’t trust a person not to play grab-ass with the nearest person he finds attractive, you obviously shouldn’t trust him with his finger on the nation’s nuclear button.  Clearly, the logical position should be that men are unfit for any positions of power and should be closely monitored for the sake of civilized society.

*   *   *

Department of Epicurean Excursion   [6]

Featuring this week’s cookbook, author and recipe:
V Street: 100 Globe-Hopping on the Cutting Edge of Vegetable Cooking,

by Rich Landau & Katy Jacoby

Recipes:

* Scallion Pancakes with Citrus Ponzu
* Grilled Sweet Potatoes with Black Vinegar

My ratings:

For  Scallion Pancakes with Citrus Ponzu

For Grilled Sweet Potatoes with Black Vinegar

 

 

☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

Recipe Rating Refresher  [7]

*   *   *

May you hold the door open (and keep your smartasss mouth shut) for kind strangers
in public restrooms;
May you be in charge of controlling yourself, and no one else;
May you be sure that you REALLY ARE…whatever it is you are;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

[1] Even though I actually didn’t. Poop, that is, which is what was being implied…is this TMI?

[2] A moon of Saturn, which is included by SETI astronomer Seth Shostak on his 6 Most Likely Places for Alien Life in the Solar System due to the presence of frozen water geyers on Enceladus’s  surface

[3] Y’all remember him – the Stanford student who raped an unconscious – practically comatose – woman by a dumpster… but he swims really fast, so, give him a break, folks!

[4] As part of their confirmation curricula, one entire quarter devoted to the subject!  Pretty progressive for 1972 or whenever it was.

[5] And, how shall I say it, an “interesting conversational exchange” ensued.

[6] A recurring feature of this blog, since week 2 of April 2019, wherein moiself decided that moiself would go through my cookbooks alphabetically and, one day a week, cook (at least) once recipe from one book.

[7]

* Two Thumbs up:  Liked it
* Two Hamster Thumbs Up :  Loved it
* Thumbs Down – Not even Kevin, a character from The Office who’d eat anything, would like this.
* Twiddling Thumbs: I was, in due course, bored by this recipe.
* Thumbscrew: It was torture to make this recipe.
* All Thumbs: Good recipe, but I somehow mucked it up.
* Thumby McThumb Face: This recipe was fun to make.
* Thumbing my nose: Yeah, I made this recipe, but I did not respect it.

 

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