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The Baby I’m Not Head-Banding

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Department Of Things That Make Me Want To Alternatively Weep For And Scream At Humanity And/Or Get A Lobotomy And Join A Polygamous Cult
Because There Is No Hope For Humanity If People Think This Is Cute

 

 

Background info: IMHO, pink baby headbands should be outlawed as child abuse.

 

 

babybow

Also, if your baby is this furry you might want an outward marker denoting its species, not its gender.

 

 

MH wrote this about her “vitals,” on the announcement we sent to friends and family after the birth of our daughter, Belle:

…weighing 7 lbs 1 ½ ounces
stretching 20 inches from head to heel
Known allergies: pastels and headbands

When those baby headbands became a thing, I can’t remember. I just know that it wasn’t always like that – people either let their babies go bare-headed, or put a knit cap on them when the weather was chilly.  When I began to see infants with the headbands    [1]   I would ask the parent(s) variations on,  What’s up with that? And the parental unit(s) would inevitably spew variations on the following justification    [2] :

 

Babies are so androgynous-looking; this way, people know she’s a girl!

 

To which moiself would reply:

And it is important for strangers to know a three month old baby’s gender because….?

Are you shocked to hear that I didn’t get invited to many Mommy-Baby groups?

 

 

 

Kandbelle

K was confused by his baby sister: “Sure, they *say* it’s a girl, but where’s the strap of female identification?”

 

 

 

 

Once again, I digress.

The cause of my most recent early a.m. rage against the machine ( aka yet-another-reason-not-to-check-Facebook-while-getting-dressed) was something I saw on a friend-of-a-friend’s post: a picture of a baby girl, with the caption, “If I had a daughter I would want to do this picture.

 Yeah, well, I *have* a daughter, and I left skidmarks deleting the picture, which I found nauseating…and now, of course, I can’t find it to share with y’all. Basic description: it is of a female infant, dressed in a billowy satiny prom dress-type-gown-thingy (which is composed of four times as much fabric as the baby has skin). The baby, whose forehead is wrapped with one of those frilly bow headbands, is sitting partially atop a mirror. The shot is taken at such an angle that you see the picture of the baby looking at her reflection in the mirror, and also the reflection itself.  It looked something like this:

 

 

babytutu

 

 

 

Note the choking hazard, knotted several times around her neck. Welcome to the feminine noose, babe.

 

*   *   *

Department Of And Then, There Is That Which Makes Everything Worthwhile….

Sub-Department Of Random Moments Of Petty Defiance

When I go for morning constitutionals at the coast I love walking up a cul-de-sac which has this sign at its entrance. I walk to the end of the street…and…can you guess what I do, boys and girls?

Yep. I turn around.

Cosmic chaos ensues.

 

noturnaround

 

 

 

*   *   *

 

 

Department Of Saved By The Spirit Of America

I am a notorious parade-loather. I find parades, at both the conceptual and practical levels, to be…absurd, at best. Thus, unless a parade’s entrants and/or organizers acknowledge  the inanity of it all [3]  and try to be deliberately silly – anyone seen Pasadena’s Doo Dah Parade?   [4] – you can count me out, as either a spectator or participant.

However….

The Oregon beach town of my dreams and my heart, Manzanita, has a yearly July 4th parade, which, I have been told, is just so low tech and small-towny cutesy that even a parade-hater such as moiself would find it adorable (or at least tolerable).  So, I had an idea for my participation in this year’s parade I had a banner made, and began gathering the beginnings of my parade “uniform, much to the consternation of MH, who wondered aloud if he would attend the parade (or would need to leave town afterward), should I be a participant, wearing and doing…whatever it was I was going to wear and do.

I checked the Manzanita City hall website where, I was told, parade entry info would be posted the first week in June. And it was, and…

Damn you, Foul Crushers of Aspirations!

 

 

brokendreamsjpg

 

 

 

Manzanita’s parade apparently has a theme, which varies from year to year. This year’s theme is, The Spirit of America. My planned getup could be – very, very, verrrrrrrrry loosely – attributed to a certain, uh, independence of spirit, but it definitely ain’t yer red white and blue/flag-waving, lovin’ that good ole country of mine. What I have in mind holds no disparagement toward my country nor toward the concept of patriotism, but it would be a non sequitur, given the theme, as per this description from the parade’s participant registration form (which has a picture of a very serious-looking bald eagle, ready to pluck the eyes out of anyone who would mock its usage as a symbol of American Greatness ® ) :

Decorations required: All entries including autos must be decorated in a patriotic theme and/or in the theme of the parade. The theme is “The Spirit of America”.

Last week I visited the city hall, to try and clarify the parade registration form information. The clerk told me she thought that the requirement to dress as per the parade’s theme might be only for entrants “who want to be judged.”

“Trust me,” I told her, “I’m judged all the time, whether or not I’m an official entrant of anything.”

She flashed me that I-have-no-idea-what-you’re-talking-about smile, and we bid each other a good afternoon.

Later that day, when I returned home (to Hillsboro), I reassured MH that he’d been saved by the (Liberty) bell, so to speak. My parade accoutrements will remain in my closet, in a bag protected by a sentiment dear to the heart of every perennial loser underdog sports team’s fans:

 

 

wait

 

 

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Department Of I Can Guarantee You Will Win A Double Nobel Prize
– For Both Peace And Medicine – If You Can Cure This

The mystery of why a person‘s immune system decides to treat a benign substance as a toxic invader…It’s just not right.

Yep, I’m talking Pollen. Or as I refer to it during the months of February through August here, in the Willamette Valley,  aka the Grass Seed growing Capital of the USA:

#!?&*% flora sperm.

Life as we know it would be impossible without the powdery, wind-and-insect borne gametes that fertilize vegetation ovules; I get that. But why do plants think it’s okay to try to get it on in my nose?

 

 

pollendeathstar

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of How Long Will I Be Able To Get Away With This?   [5]

I found this magnetic bumper sticker, a relic of when K and Belle were student drivers, in the garage, and put it on the back of MH’s car.

 

 

prankbumper

 

 

*   *   *

 

 

 

 

May you never be too old or indifferent to enjoy pranking your spouse’s car;
May you win many Nobel Prizes for your cure for seasonal allergies;
May you realize that society will put enough pressure on the female members of your family to be ornamental beings without you forcing it upon them when they are infants;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] Which were always pink…ah…is there a pattern, Sherlock?

[2] After the tenth time receiving the same answer, I stopped asking the question.

[3] As bunch of people sitting on street curbs, watching another bunch of people walk past them, or watching cars drive by slowly and horses poop while they are walking and then other people following behind scooping the poop.

[4] How could I not love a parade which introduced the world to the following Drill Teams:

* Synchronized Precision Marching Briefcase Drill Team

* Lawn Mower Drill Team

* The BBQ & Hibachi Marching Grill Team

* The Shopping Cart Drill Team

* The Men of Leisure Synchronized Nap Team

* The Marching Lumberjacks

* Claude Rains & the 20-Man Memorial Invisible Man Marching Drill Team

* The Committee for the Right to Bear Arms, which marches while carrying mannequin arms.

[5] The answer was, a little over 24 hours…but it was a glorious 24 house, including him driving to work, not knowing it was there, heh heh heh.

The Pity I’m Not Tempering

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

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

 

 

 

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

 

*   *   *

Department Of Justifying Eating Movie Popcorn On A Daily Basis

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

 

 

stonehenge

 

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

Ah, but I digress.

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

 

groover

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

 

 

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

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

 

 

immature

 

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

 

claws

 

 

 

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

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

Just wondering.

 

*   *   *

different

*   *   *

Department Of Being Thankful To, And For, Ronan Farrow

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

snowden

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of I Am Somewhat Puzzled By My Second Reaction

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

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

 

 

sad sloth

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

 

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

*   *   *

 

 

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

[2] She is Canadian; he is Swedish.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Sights I’m Not Lowering

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Department Of Check The Definition Before You Use The Word

progressive
adjective

pro·gres·sive  \ prə-ˈgre-siv \

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

(Merriam Webster Dictionary)

Y’all get the idea.

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

 

 

 

martha

 

 

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

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

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

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

Hell yeah.

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

 

 

religion1jpg

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

So, yeah.

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

 

 

pope

You talkin’ to me?

 

 

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

 

 

 

SPDMyth

 

 

 

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

 

*   *   *

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

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

*   *   *

 

 

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

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

[3] E.g. the Magdalene Laundries.

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

The Super Power I’m Not Flaunting

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Department Of Before I Go Any Further….

Happy Star Wars Day, y’all.

 

 

May4

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Department Of Justice Served Cold

While the “Klingon” proverb declares that Revenge is a dish best served cold, I think that justice is best served steaming from the oven. But as that great philosopher Mick Jagger Simone de Beauvoir said, you can’t always get what you want. Keeping that in mind, last week provided quite the celebration for fans of hot dishes.

Backstory.  Dateline: a long time ago in a galaxy far far away (read: Davis, California, summer, 1978). I am a student at UC Davis, and it’s a muggy eve with not much to do after my summer job shift at the library has ended. Friend and fellow student RM invites me to go with him to visit his friend, MH.  MH and his girlfriend (real life working people, not students) share a studio apartment in Davis.  For reasons unclear to me, RM thinks I might enjoy watching MH and his girlfriend practice for an upcoming backgammon tournament.

The apartment is small; as MH and his girlfriend set up the backgammon board they gesture to RM and I to take a seat on their bed.  We do, and my heel bumps against the hard, metallic edge of something under the bed. I reach down and remove – an axe? Yep, that’s what it is – from under the bed, and tentatively hoist the rather hefty chopper over my shoulders.

“Uh…expecting lumberjacks?” I ask.

“No,” MH replies, “But if the East Area Rapist shows up, we’ll be ready.”

 

 

EARjpg

 

 

Frontstory. Dateline: last week. Two days in a row, while driving On My Way To Somewhere ® and listening to the radio, I found moiself pounding my car’s steering wheel and yelling YEEEEEEEEESSSSSS !!!!!   as I heard

Day 1: on an NPR newscast that authorities in California had arrested the suspect known as the East Area Rapist/Golden State Killer, and then on

Day 2: on a BBC World News program announcer crisply and dryly   [1] broadcasting the news of the conviction of Bill Cosby for sexual assault.

 

 

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Worlds Yet To Be Discovered

While listening to a Planet Money podcast, titled The Blue Pallet, I was once again struck by a sense of perspective-inducing humility vis-à-vis my knowledge of the universe and my place in it.

I do try to keep up with the latest discoveries in astronomy, and give a hearty cheer whenever I hear the announcement that another NASA satellite has discovered another exoplanet. But I found myself floored when I tuned in to what I expected was just another podcast, and heard the following:

We are going to bring you deep inside the pallet world…..

Why is this the first time I am hearing about a world of which I hitherto had no knowledge?

 

 

planet

Yeah, fine, more planets, but can they find a new (and blue) pallet?

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Pot, Meet Kettle

Surely, IMHO, there are few books with a more apt title than the one I just finished re-reading:  And the Band Played On  (20th-Anniversary Edition). Award-winning journalist Randy Shilts’ classic, hailed by many as a “masterpiece of investigative reporting,” is subtitled, Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic. As for the band that played on…and on…and on…what a frustrating story, so magnificently told.

IMHO there are very few heroes in the book, other than family and friends carrying for the desperately ill and dying in such trying and confusing circumstances, and also those compassionate physicians and research scientists searching desperately for a cure.  [2]

As for far too many of the gay rights “advocates” and almost all of the politicians and religious “leaders” back then…. Here’s my cheer for y’all:

Gimme an I, gimme a C Gimme a K, what’s that spell?

Both of those “sides” were the proverbial opposite sides of the same coin when it came to tactics of blame and denial. Time and time again, the gay rights advocates and the Christian Right  [3]   reminded me of each other, as they both clung to their ideology/party line in the face of the facts, and with seemingly little willingness to look at the faces of suffering/dying human beings.

 

 

 

shame

 

 

 

Certain business interests,   [4]   political conservatives (read: the Reagan administration) heavily influenced by (and politically beholden to) the fear- and hate-mongering rhetoric of Jerry Falwell and his ilk, and the growing ranks of politically active Evangelicals – all ignored the alarms raised by scientists and epidemiologists (and in some cases even their own family members, who knew someone affected by AIDS or were themselves at risk).

Conservative politicians targeted public health agencies for budget cuts, and in effect stuck their fingers in their ears and sang la la la we can’t hear you at any mention of anything related to (what was considered then to be an exclusively) a health crisis affecting homosexuals. Reagan even forbid his Surgeon General from answering reporter’s questions about the epidemic.

Any concern about individual human health, as well as that of the society at large, was suffocated under a blanket of shaming/bigoted rhetoric about how AIDS was a “gay disease,” and that gays had brought “the wrath of ______( insert name of favorite deity)” down upon themselves by abandoning “traditional family values.” Meanwhile, traditional values of compassion and empathy, of caring for the weak and vulnerable – and of listening to the scientists and doctors talking about the treatment and transmission of disease – were nowhere to be found.

Imagine something, anything – a disease, or a natural disaster or a series of coal mine explosions or terrorist attacks – taking the lives of over 20,000 Americans, and the President of the USA saying nothing about it[5]  And meanwhile, people were dying.

 

 

disappointed

 

 

Then and now, the rhetoric and actions (or lack thereof) of the conservative political, business and religious communities came as little surprise to moiself. But I expected more of others.

On the other side, there were a growing number of (both gay and straight) physicians who, before they began putting the pieces together of the puzzling array of symptoms and illnesses which would come to be known as AIDS, had been saying that “something is going on/something must be done” about the alarming increase in the number and variety of diseases infecting sexually active gay men – diseases about which doctors found the afflicted to be alarmingly casual (Gonorrhea? Syphilis? Shigellosis? Hepatitis? Salmonella? And amoebic dysentery and amebiasis and giardiasis and campylobacteriosis and a variety of intestinal parasites and …? Just give me my pill/penicillin injection and I’ll see you later….).

And yet far too many gay rights advocates would broke no criticism of either the industries marketing the commodification of anonymous/promiscuous/unprotected sex (e.g., the sex clubs and bathhouses) – which were fertile grounds for both the transmission of existing diseases and the “breeding” of new ones – nor the patrons of such businesses.  Those who pointed out both the psychologically numbing and physiologically deadly dangers of bathhouse-type hook ups   [6]   were seen as betrayers, and were often isolated and vilified, even (or especially) when the warnings came from those of “their own kind” (e.g. playwright and activist Larry Kramer).  And meanwhile, people were dying. 

 

“This is going to be a world-class disaster. And no one is paying attention.”
Dr. Marcus Conant, dermatologist, founder of the San Francisco AIDS project, and one of the first physicians to diagnose and treat AIDS , as quoted in And the Band Played On)

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Department Of Since That Was Not Exactly The Feel-Good Post Of The Year…

 

different

 

*   *   *

Department Of Reasons To Keep Your Superpowers Hidden

Dateline: a recent evening, at the dinner table, discussing with MH the Superhero movies we have yet to see.  I confessed that, unbeknownst to him, my dear spouse, I have hidden something all these years: I am a Superhero.

MH (flashing a prove-it smirk) “And what is your superpower?”
Moiself: “I can smell fear.”
MH: ???
Moiself: “The problem is, it smells like farts.”

 

 

 

 

super

She who smelt it, dealt it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

May your super power be socially acceptable if not impressive;
May you relish the occasion when justice is (finally) served;
May the 4th be with you;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] You know the conviction is real when you hear it from the mouth of a Brit.

[2] When some of them weren’t fighting over “first discovery” credits.

[3] Whose ascendency to political power – something evangelicals had long eschewed and/or held in suspicion – was  in large part fueled by appeals to homophobia.

[4] E.g., for-profit blood banks.

[5] Ronald Reagan infamously refused to say the word AIDS or even publicly acknowledge the epidemic’s existence until late in his second term. By that time over 36,000 Americans had been diagnosed with AIDS, almost 21,000 had died, and the disease had a reported 50,000 plus cases over 100 countries.

[6] The promiscuity so prevalent in many 19702-80s era gay (male) communities, often presented as  an in-your-face reaction to the repression and stigmatization of gay relationships, reminded me of a five year old’s tantrum – a tactic admittedly effective at attention-getting, but ultimately self-defeating (“You callin’ me a perv? I’ll show you some perversion that’ll curl your hair….).

The Word I’m Not Making Up

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Department Of Words You Wish You’d Never Heard

Sub Department Of I So So So So Wish I Were Making This Up

incel

aka “involuntarily celibate,” a man who has a horrible personality and treats women like sexual objects and thinks his lack of a sex life comes from being “ugly” when it’s really due to his blatant sexism and terrible attitude. Incels have little to no self-awareness; when they see other “ugly” men with girlfriends  [1] they consider those men to be tricksters who have somehow beat the system and can get women despite being cursed with unattractiveness. Incels believe that women owe men sex, and that women torture men by “denying” them sex, as if sex is something people “deserve” and not a privilege given by potential sexual partners that should be respected.
Many extreme incels spend time in incel communities on the internet, scheming ways to make women have sex with them, discussing genocide of people of color and of “Chads” (men who have sex) and taking rights away from women and/or raping them and having sex with women’s dead bodies…which is PRECISELY why women want nothing to do with them.

(definition adapted from urbandictionary)

 

bad smell

*   *   *

Department of
WHAT A SURPRISE; WOW HOW UNEXPECTED; ARE YOU KIDDING ME?
NEVER SAW THAT ONE COMING; ALERT THE MEDIA;
WHO WOULD EVER HAVE GUESSED

…while most mass shooters in the past 35 years have not been found to have a serious mental illness, nearly all of them do have one thing in common: their sex…
Men don’t just constitute almost all mass shooters in recent history; they are also responsible for the vast majority of gun-associated deaths in the country. Men own guns at triple the rate of women in the U.S., at 62 percent compared to 22 percent—and also commit suicide at nearly triple the rate of women. Eighty-nine percent of murder-suicides are committed by men, and most often include an unwitting female partner or ex-partner. (excerpt from “Don’t Blame Mental Illness
for Mass Shootings; Blame Men. 
If you want to cut down on gun violence, first target toxic masculinity.”  Politico, Law and Order, 1-17-18)

 

 

gunman

Less of this, please.

 

 

 

The man accused of mowing down pedestrians in a bloody rampage in Toronto on Monday expressed his support moments before the attack for a mass murderer who became a hero of the fringe men’s rights movement.
“The Incel Rebellion has already begun!…. All hail the Supreme Gentleman Elliot Rodger!” Alek Minassian wrote on Facebook shortly before he allegedly used a van to kill 10 people and wound another 14.
( Elliot Rodger killed six people during a 2014 shooting spree in Isla Vista, California. The 22-year-old called himself an “incel,” or an involuntary celibate, a phrase invoked by men’s rights activists who feel rejected by women. Before killing himself, Rodger left behind a 137-page manifesto that described how he felt shunned by women and sought revenge.)
(excerpt from “Accused Toronto Killer Praised Woman-Hating Mass Murderer Moments Before Attack,” Daily Beast 4-24-18)

 

After claiming that he was “fighting feminism” and calling the women “a bunch of feminists,” (the mass shooter) shot all nine women in the room, killing six. He then moved through corridors, the cafeteria, and another classroom, specifically targeting women to shoot. Overall, he killed fourteen women and injured ten other women and four men in just under 20 minutes before turning the gun on himself. His suicide note claimed political motives and blamed feminists for ruining his life.
(Wikipedia, The École Polytechnique massacre)

 

 

femman

More of this, please.

 

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Which Came First – Chicken Attitude Or Egg Behavior

 

It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me,
but it can keep him from lynching me, and I think that’s pretty important.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

You may be the biggest, whiniest, most self-righteous misogynist on the planet, who believes that your god Jehovah Allah Marduk [2]  (or whatever you call your invisible friend) made the genders to be separate and yours superior; you may come from a country wherein no matter how low class/under-educated/ignorant a person you otherwise are you are also male, and thus there is always someone (female) below you in value and status, as decreed and enforced by religious and cultural norms and legal directives….

Then, you move to, say, Norway…

 

 

norse

No, please…you can go somewhere else.

 

 

 

…or another country where gender inequality is not the dominant view. You may be able to continue to structure your private and home life according to your primitive, bigoted attitudes, but in the public sphere, the laws are no longer on your side. You are forced to interact with women who are unrelated to you and over whom you have no dominance. You’ll have women clerks and baristas who will assist you with your purchases and orders; you’ll have women as co-workers and co-public transit riders and bus drivers, you’ll have women who are teachers and health care workers and who will interact with your children, and you are legally prohibited from forcing women to cover their bodies in ways you deem appropriate…and in order to navigate this society you have to interact with women (ick; girl cooties!) and aren’t allowed to fire them from a job or segregate them in a restaurant or public settings due to their gender…

And slowly…something happens. When the laws of your society change not only will many of your behaviors be forced to change, but (research shows that) your attitudes are likely going to change, as well.

 

 

 

change

 

 

 

When it comes to changing our beliefs and behaviors, most of us have it backwards. We’ve long been told that first you must change how you think and/or feel, and then that will change your behavior (e.g., educate a racist to like or at least grudgingly admire Hebrew culture and he will stop spraying painting a swastika on his Jewish neighbor’s garage door).  [3]

 

 

wrong

 

 

 

Instead, whether through compulsion or persuasion, change a person’s behavior first, and their beliefs and attitudes will eventually adapt.

 

In 2015, the Supreme Court ruled that the U.S. Constitution guarantees the right to marry as a fundamental liberty for both straight and gay couples….
(a social scientist researcher)  followed ordinary Americans at the time to see if the court decision changed their own views. Again, people’s personal beliefs didn’t change, but their behavior did….
What moved everyone in the same direction was this perception of whether other Americans support same-sex marriage and whether it would become more accepted in the future….
The Supreme Court ruling in effect told people the United States now believes same-sex marriage is OK. You could still think otherwise, but if you acted in ways that showed you didn’t agree with the consensus, you risked being left behind.
( from Romeo & Juliet In Kigali: How A Soap Opera
Sought To Change Behavior In Rwanda, 
Hidden Brain podcast 4-16-18)

 

The opening quote I used from Dr. King came from King’s reaction to a proposition – one that was both ongoing in society at large the time of King’s crusade and made to King personally – about how advocating for civil rights laws was ultimately futile unless there was a change in white people’s hearts and minds. When challenged by those who claimed you can’t legislate acceptance – or even tolerance – Dr. King and others noted that that wasn’t the point. The law may not force you to love me, but it could “force” you to leave me alone and/or not bash me upside the head for occupying the “wrong” seat on the bus.

One of the biggest boons to gay rights was when gay rights leaders advocated for across-the-board “coming out of the closet,” on the premise (later proven to be true) that the gaining of civil rights – and personal acceptance of gays as friends, neighbors, co-workers and family members – for gay people, by straight people, was correlated to whether or not they (straight people) actually knew a gay person. A 2009 Gallup Poll noted that, while “views of gay marriage are strongly related to ideology…when controlling for ideology, those who know someone who is gay or lesbian are significantly more supportive of gay marriage than are those of the same political persuasion who do not personally know someone who is gay or lesbian.”

 

 

gay

 

 

 

That poll, and many surveys since, similarly found that  “…those with personal experience with gay or lesbian individuals more accepting of same-sex relations in general,” and that when people are no longer free by law to discriminate, they may at first maintain their personal beliefs and attitudes which cause them to discriminate, but that these attitudes gradually change, or at least soften.

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of And Don’t Even Get Me Started On Us Happy Heathens

atheists

*   *   *

May your attitudes change your behaviors for the better;
May your better behaviors change your attitudes;
May you put your Science Mind ® to work and come up with a vaccination for incel-ism;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

 

 

 

[1] These “ugly” men with girlfriends are respectful to women and women are attracted to their personalities, but incels can’t comprehend such a phenomenon.

[2] Marduk was one of the big cheese deities of Mesopotamia/Babylon. Y’all are probably familiar with the names Allah and Jehovah.

[3] Actually, legislating and enforcing laws against such hate crimes will be more likely to keep the guy’s garage door graffiti-free, independent of what his neighbor really thinks about him.

The Privacy I’m Not Assuming

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Department Of Weighing In On The Privacy Thing

Re the Facebook data scandal, and the reality – apparently astonishing, to some people – that social media and other websites are compromising and/or selling the data they collect on their users and visitors.  Some of these astonished some people are throwing fits of indignation, demanding that Congress “do something.” When it comes to the idea of doing something, others of the some people have been expressing their sense of futility by employing that old English proverb, trotting it out before, during and after FB co-founder/CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony before Congress:

It’s like closing the barn door after the horse has bolted.

Gee, ya think?

Not only has the horse bolted, that high-spirited steed done high tailed it to Louisville where it placed in the Kentucky Derby and was last seen headed for Lubbock to join the Professional Rodeo circuit.

*   *   *

I have no solutions for the problem and even less hope for its abatement, based in part on the existence of Amazon and Netflix recommendations. Y’all may know what I mean.

 

 

recommend

 

 

 

My recent purchases from Amazon include spatulas, two Kindle books (one on Buddhist meditation, the other a rock star’s memoir), and a tava. [1]  Thus, in the coming weeks I will see ads for such items not only on Amazon[2]  but on other sites I visit, along with “recommendations” for future purchases, such as books on the “uncensored oral history of punk” and “Vodka is Vegan,” and cinnamon-flavored dental floss, and a ten pound sack of chickpea flour, and….

We are living in a world wherein seemingly/otherwise intelligent people do not  apply their time and (presumably) hard-earned  mathematics/computer skills in ways which might be used to, say, reverse global warming or otherwise improve The Human Condition. ®  Instead, those with coding and other such skills are rewarded for devising algorithms to enable Netflix to offer me “Top Picks for Robyn” and “Because you watched….” categories. Based on the fact that in the past month I have watched episodes of Grey’s Anatomy and The Great British Baking Show, a documentary on endangered snow leopards, and a Ricky Gervais standup comedy special, the great minds in charge of such things have used their highly sophisticated calculations to try to convince me that I’d love to watch….50 First Dates?  [3]

There is little hope, in such a world.

 

 

 

horse

Don’t let the door hit you in the ass on your way out.

 

 

 

A long time ago in a galaxy far far away, I remember listening to an interview with a “computer/Internet/privacy expert” – a hacker who got caught, and as penance/punishment was hired by the corporation he’d hacked, to try to make their systems as un-hackable as possible. Former Hacker Guy went on to do independent consulting work for various corporations in areas related to internet privacy. I can’t remember all the details of the interview,   [4]  but what got seared into my brain were the two pieces of incongruous advice Former Hacker Guy gave, when asked by the interviewer to tell The Average Citizen ® what they can do to protect their information:

(1) When it comes to data about yourself – personal, employment, financial, recreational, you name it – fiercely guard your privacy and fight for laws to protect such information.

(2) There is *no* privacy, not anymore. Get used to it.

 

privacy

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of It’s Not Working

After finishing   [5]   the (afore-mentioned) book on the efficacy of Buddhist-style meditation – about seeing life for how it really is, detaching your illusions and gaining perspective – why did I then, while standing in a concert entry line with MH, note the faces of the young, attractive females standing in front of and behind me, and think petty comments to myself (along the lines of, I wonder how long it’ll be before she looks like…well, like me.)?

 

buddha

Not a verbatim quotation.

 

 

*   *   *

Privacy, Schrivacy – Department Of The Last Word On The Subject

Some of us realized long ago – or at least after we adopted our first feline – that there can be no privacy where a cat is involved.

 

 

catpawdoor

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of The Word After The Last Word

I was wondering: Can a Buddhist monk feel it is appropriate to use email?

My guess:  Sure, as long as there are no attachments.

 

 

squirelbuddha

 

*   *   *

 

 

 

May you realize that when you shut the bathroom door your cat thinks you’re doing something incredible enthralling;
May your barn doors  [6]  stay open so horses can come and go as they please;
May you share your squirrel-and-buddha jokes with an appreciative audience;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] A large flat frying pan used for cooking chapattis and a variety of Indian and south Asian flatbreads.

[2] I don’t get it – continuing to advertise, say, the spatula to me when their records would clearly show that I have already purchased it.

[3] They are so, so wrong, to recommend to moiself any movie with Adam Sandler in it.

[4] Nor even what show ran the interview…I’m thinking something NPR-ish.

[5] Isn’t it time for another footnote?

[6] Not that one.

The Magazine Future I’m Not Imagining

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Department Of Giving One’s Imagination An Exhaustive Workout

Monday morning, in my New York Times app’s “Top Stories,” I spy with my little eye an article with the following headline:

Imagining Vogue Without Anna Wintour

Done.

Next challenge, please.

 

 

anna

How many years has it been – have I had fun yet?

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of The Wild Wacky ® Streets Of Hillsboro, Oregon

I think it’s so touching that someone in My fair City ® decided to turn a portion of their front yard into a tribute to musician Herb Albert.   [1]

 

 

 

 

lonelybull

 

 

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Things That Make Them Look Across The Table At Me And Say,
“Stop. Just Stop.”

Dateline: a week ago Friday, dinner time. I told MH and son K that I was considering ending my fiction writing sabbatical – I had an idea for a series of historical novels! The protagonists will be a poor but loving and close-knit, 19th century pioneer family, struggling to carve out a life as fruit farmers in the Oregon wilderness as they confront a recurring plague of small, parasitic insects which threaten to decimate their currant crop. I’m going to call it, “Little Louse on the Berry.”

 

 

facepalm

 

*   *   *

 

 

different

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of The Argument For Acquiring A Basic Scientific Literacy

You may be saying to yourself, I didn’t know there was an argument *against* having a basic scientific literacy.  [2]   Aside from the mission statements and curriculum listings I’ve encountered on the websites of fundamentalist religious “educational” institutions, I’m not sure that there is such an overt argument.  Nevertheless,  [3]  all you have to do is wade through a few Facebook shares (sadly, often from people who Should Know Better ® ) to realize that an appreciation for scientific thinking – that is, a basic understanding and application of critical inquiry and “factual claims” analysis – is sorely lacking in our culture.

 

 

Randiquote

 

 

 

There are soooooooooooo many reasons why we should all be on a lifelong quest to “think like a scientist” – but you really need just one: thinking like a scientist will give you a lifelong, reliable ca-ca detector.

It’s not that having a basic knowledge of science and/or the scientific method will give you all the answers  [4]   – it’s that if you have the former, you don’t need the latter.  You don’t need to know all the answers when you know the kind of questions to ask of those who allege to have The Answers.

All claims, from supernatural (“The stories in the Christian scriptures are true but those in the Muslim scriptures are false”) to economic (“Anarchocommunism is the most efficient political/economic form of socialism“) to medical (“The Chiropractic theory of subluxation is a valid diagnostic tool for identifying and treating human diseas “) to historical (“The moon landings were staged on a movie backlot by NASA”), can be understood and/or evaluated if you have a basic grasp of scientific thinking.  Doesn’t even matter if it’s the first time you’ve heard of the “healing crystals” your friend is touting – you don’t (and shouldn’t) have to take your friend’s enthusiasm at face value.

That ambassador of science literacy himself, American astrophysicist and author, Neil deGrasse Tyson, puts it this way (my emphases):

To be scientifically literate is to empower yourself to know
when someone else is full of shit…

You have an understanding of the properties of the laws of physics, so when someone comes up to you to sell you crystals and they say, “Rub these together and you’ll be healed,” you say, “Well, what are they made out of? And how many people have they healed? And what aliments do they heal? And what’s the mechanism? How much do they cost? And where are they from? And what’s their molecular structure?…and the person runs away in tears.

Science literacy is not knowing the answer – you might know the answer, but that’s not what’s fundamental. What’s fundamental is the capacity to inquire about what is true and what is not in this world. And that is the empowerment. The power of inquiry.

( Neil deGrasse Tyson, The Nerdist Podcast)

 

 

neil

 

*   *   *

 

Department Of But It Might Have Made The Checkout Clerk’s Day

Entering the grocery store, I counted my freshly-laundered, reusable produce sacks, which I’d grabbed fresh from the dryer before leaving for the store. Fortunately, I found the “hitchhiker” before I absent-mindedly used it to bag the kiwi….

 

 

 

oopsJPG

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

       May you always check for hitchhikers;
May you realize why knowing some of the questions
is better than thinking you have all of the answers;
May you, at least once in your life, place something in your front yard to make your neighbors smile;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] Get it?  Huh huh huh…get it?

[2] Maybe you should stop talking to yourself.

[3] Why does no one ever say, Neverthemore….

[4] And, of course, there is no All The Answers.

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