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The Party Hat I’m Not Wearing

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Department Of Nomination For Lyrical Couplet Of The Year

My nomination hails from the musical-comedy “The Prom,” the Netflix-streamed movie, adapted from the 2018 Broadway show of the same name. The story revolves around the political, cultural and social shenanigans which ensue when a small town Indiana High School PTA announces their intention to cancel the school’s prom because a female student wants to take her girlfriend to the dance.    [1]

The couplet moiself  refers to is sung by an archetypal cheerleader/popular/hot/girl, who is quite pleased with her perceptions of her own “hotness” as she arrives at her much-anticipated high school prom:

♫  …You have to hand it to me
I mean even I would do me  ♫

(lyric from “Tonight Belongs To You”)

 

 

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Department Of Good News For Office Party Nerds

Speaking of sexual/physical desirability, a recent episode of the Curiosity Daily podcast, “Why Birds Wore Funny Hats for Science,” dealt with scientific experiments in avian mate preference and selection.

“A female finch was given a choice between two males. One was just a regular guy, but the other had an upgrade. He was wearing a tiny hat with a giant white feather sticking straight up.   …Imagine being uncontrollable attracted to him, because that’s what happened in the trials. Females went wild for the guys in funny hats….”

 

 

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Department Of The Doctor Will See You Now…
So Turn Our Head And Cough

“Many Ph.D. holders are fine with reserving the title for medical doctors in common parlance, viewing insistence on the title as arrogant and elitist, and do not use their titles even in a scholarly setting. But for women and people of color, an academic title can be a tool to remind others of their expertise in a world that often undermines it.”
( “Should all Ph.D’s be called ‘Doctor’ ” KQED )

“…female engineers with Ph.D.s who said they are under-represented in their field, and feel like they need to put doctor in front of their names to get the same respect that male engineers get.
…researchers found that male doctors introduce their male colleagues as “Dr.” around 70 percent of the time, but introduce their female colleagues as doctor a little less than half the time.”
( “Who Gets To Be Called ‘Doctor” And Why It Matters,”  WHYY )

 

 

Yep, moiself  just has to put my two cents’ in re The Dr. Jill Biden Thing ® .

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away (UC Davis, circa 1979), most of my college professors had Ph.D.s in their respective fields.  When it came to their professional titles, I can’t recall how most of them preferred to be addressed (“Professor,” “Dr.” “Ms. ___” or “Mr. ___”), nor what I or the other students called them…with one notable exception.

I took a class from Robert Miller,  [2]  who had a Ph.D. in literature and taught a class on film/cinema (the name of which escapes me).  From day one of the class Miller made it clear as to how he preferred to be addressed. In-class questions and discussions were encouraged, but when any student raised their hand and began their remarks with, “Dr. Miller…? Miller would interrupt with, “Yes, nurse?”

Most of the students caught on rather quickly.  One particularly obsequious toady with artistic pretensions (he wore all black attire, no matter the weather, including black turtleneck shirt AND, I kid you not, a black beret)  did not.  After the fifth or six occasion of him hearing, “Yes, nurse?”  he got up the nerve to ask Miller some deferential version of, whaz up wit dat?

Miller took that opportunity to tell the entire class that, yes, he had a doctorate degree, but he preferred to be addressed by the title, “Professor,” because that was his profession.  He went on to tell an entertaining story of the history of academic titles.  According to Miller, the title “professor “fell out of favor during the mid-late 19th century, when traveling snake oil salesman referred to themselves thusly, to add a cloak of respectability re the noxious potions they peddled.  Thus, the term “professor” became associated with charlatans, and actual professors who held doctorate degrees began calling themselves “Dr.,” a title which had heretofore been reserved for physicians.

Professor Miller briefly expressed his opinion that academics in any field who insisted on being called “Dr.” were either insecure with or overly impressed by their own credentials. For clarity, Miller thought that “Dr.” should refer to a practicing M.D.

 

 

Until recently, I shared Professor Miller’s antipathy toward the use of Dr. referring to anyone other than a physician.  I am also loath to address physicians, when they are not on duty, as Doctor, and in social settings I am suspicious of medical doctors who insist on being introduced that way.  If you are a medical doctor, off-duty at the grocery store or at your spouse’s office party or any other situation wherein I can expect that you will *not* be putting a tongue depressor into my mouth, what is the point – other than for your own self-aggrandizement – to introduce yourself to me as a doctor?

Years ago, in social situations where there were enough people unfamiliar with each other so as to require name tags, I encountered that situation frequently, enough so that I was inspired to Do Something About It ®.  I’d noticed that some (not all) of the party attendees added, either before their first name or after their surname, their professional titles and/or initials in situations which clearly did not require the identification of one’s profession.  Think, “Rev. Blowschlock” at a non-religious gathering, or “Elmer Turnblatter, M.D.,” at a New Year’s Eve party or other, non-medical setting.  In anticipation of the next such event, I made moiself  a name tag which I could proudly wear on Those Special Occasions.    [3]

 

 

Being proud of your accomplishments is one thing; unconsciously or otherwise hoping for special notice/treatment because of the letters after your name is another.  Cynical moiself  usually assumed the latter reasoning, when it came to people who insisted that others know or use their professional letters and titles in non-professional situations.

Which brings us to Joseph Epstein, BFD.

In case you’ve spent the last two weeks in a drunken stupor/hiding under a rock/binge-watching”Grey’s Anatomy  paying attention to more weighty matters, you may not know about the column that journalist Joseph not-a-doctor Epstein wrote for the Wall Street Journal. In the column, Epstein offered unsolicited advice to Jill Biden, who has a doctorate degree in education, as to how people should address her and how she should refer to herself.  His column…I shall not link to it here.  Not to worry, you can easily find it, as the odor from his festering turd of deprecating sexism disguised as an op/ed can be detected across the country.  The stench begins with the first paragraph.

“Madame First Lady — Mrs. Biden — Jill — kiddo: a bit of advice on what might seem like a small but I think is not an unimportant matter.  Any chance you might drop the ‘Dr.’ before your name? ‘Dr. Jill Biden’ sounds and feels a touch fraudulent, not to mention comical.”

 

“Fradulent.”  “Comical.”

 

 

Yep. He wrote that.

Epstein has heretofore *not* offered such advice to other Ph.D. holders in the public eye.    [4]  Nor did No-doc Epstein voice any complaints when his newspaper identified non-medical doctor Henry Kissinger as Dr. Kissinger.  Epstein is taking some well-deserved heat for his comments, and is responding to this blowback by clutching his proverbial pearls and hiding behind the whiny, entitled skirts of crying, “Cancel culture!!” instead of taking this criticism as an opportunity to examine his own myopia when it comes to equal respect for and treatment of professional titles.

As Monica Hessee, Washington Post writer of  “The Wall Street Journal column about Jill Biden is worse than you thought” points out,

“As supporting evidence for his reasoning (that “no one should call himself Dr. unless he has delivered a child.”    [5]),  Epstein cites his own refusal to be called “Dr.” when he taught courses at Northwestern University — which would, in fact, have been fraudulent and comical because Epstein’s highest degree is a bachelor’s. It seems he would like Jill Biden to deny herself what she earned, because he denied himself what he did not.”

 

 

Doctor? What doctor? Epstein’s “advice” ends as malodorously as it begins.

“Forget the small thrill of being Dr. Jill and settle for the larger thrill of living for the next four years in the best public housing in the world as First Lady Jill Biden.”

 

“the small thrill of being Dr. Jill….”

Got that, folks?  Regardless of how you or I think about what professional titles any person should or should not use, Epstein reveals his closeted (perhaps even to himself) sexism in his finale:  Jill Biden’s own hard work and achievements should not be as important as those “larger thrills” which society may bestow upon her by virtue of the man she married, and that she should accept this marital title and the perks (best public housing, ever, yee haw!) and refrain from claiming her personal identity and accomplishments.

It may be possible that (doctor-less) Epstein truly doesn’t understand what all the fuss is about.  The mere fact that he could pen such a condescending column indicates he has had his head up his ass in the sand of entitlement for the past X decades, when it comes realizing how women have had to fight for respect, to have their professional accomplishments acknowledged – and even attributed, what with the history of males claiming credit for their female colleagues’ accomplishments….

*The Art of Claiming Credit: Why women in particular have to be strategic with our suggestions and insights, plus advice on calling out credit stealers.

*9 Women Who Changed History…And The Men Who Took Credit

* Men Are Taking Credit For Women’s Work, And Now We Know Why

* When Teamwork Doesn’t Work For Women: …new evidence suggests that the underrepresentation of women reflects a systemic bias in that marketplace: a failure to give women full credit for collaborative work done with men.

*When A Male Colleague Took Credit For My Work

 

 

All else being equal, I would hold with my original discomfort with non-medical-docs using the Dr. title.  But we do not live on planet All Else Being Equal.

Also, my college film professor was not entirely correct regarding his take on the doctor v. professor issue.  Ph.D.’s, not M.D.s, were the original “doctors.”

“The term doctor can be traced back to the late 1200s, and it stems from a Latin word meaning “to teach.” It wasn’t used to describe a licensed medical practitioner until about 1400, and it wasn’t used as such with regularity until the late 1600s.”
(““M.D.” vs. “Ph.D.” vs. “Dr.,” dictionary.com )

“The premise that only medical doctors should get to hold the Dr. title is etymologically specious because, as Merriam-Webster dictionary pointed out on Twitter, “doctor” comes from the Latin word for “teacher”; it was scholars and theologians who, back in the 14th century, used the title well before medical practitioners.”
(Monica Hessee, Washington Post op cit )

 

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Department Of Save That Poop – It May Save your Life

So happy to have yet another excuse to mention Murder Hornets before this year is consigned to the dumpster fire of history.

“To ward off giant hornet attacks, honeybees in Vietnam will adorn the entrances to their nests with other animals’ feces, a defensive behavior called fecal spotting…. The odious ornamentation seems to repel the wasps — or at least seriously wig them out…. Decorating one’s home with dung might sound indecorous….But the scat-based strategy appears to capitalize on a relatable trend: Most creatures aren’t keen on muddying their meals with someone else’s waste.”
( “When Murder Hornets Menace Their Hive, Bees Decorate It With Animal Feces,”
(NY Times, Sciences, 12-9-20 )

 

A house completely made of dung. Notice the lack of murder hornets…or people, within a 50 yard radius.

 

 

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Department Of Partridge Of The Week  [6]

This week’s Partridge in our pear tree:

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Pun For The Day

A dung beetle spent an entire day rolling a ball of dung up a hill, only to have it fall into a ravine on the other side.  Needless to say, he lost his shit.

 

Make. It. Stop.

 

*   *   *

May your title denigration be equal opportunity, if you feel the need to discount someone’s adacemic achievements;
May you always choose the guy (or girl) with the funny hat;
May you do whatever you have to do-do when the Murder Hornets arrive;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

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[1] Although “The Prom” is fictional, it is based on the true story of what happened in 2010 at Itawamba Agricultural High School in Fulton, Mississippi, where school officials, objecting to a lesbian student who wanted to bring her date to the prom, decided that, rather than face lawsuits of discrimination against that student they would  cancel the entire prom, for all students, rather than allow gay couples to attend.

[2] Not his real name.

[3] “Not a Doctor.”

[4] That we know of, and at least, not in print.

[5] And note the sexists defaults to the male pronouns, even as Epstein is presuming to address a female.

[6] Why isn’t there another footnote, like, right here?

The Home Health Tests I’m Not Administering

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Department Of There’s Always A Silver Lining
(But Sometimes It Smells Like Rotten Eggs)

For long-married couples, the hardships of this year have given us an opportunity to reframe some…uh, activities.  For example, a certain husband has been known to try to “sneak one” past his wife, and when she catches him   [1]   he tells her that in his ever-vigilant concern for her well-being he is merely giving her a daily hearing test, since it is a well-known fact that high frequency hearing loss accelerates with age.

Thanks to the viral vagaries of the past nine months. loving spouses can now also “test” one another for a more important concern.  When your sweet baboo wrinkles his or her nose and grumblingly wonders aloud why you didn’t at least have the decency to leave the room to let one rip after your two-can Trader Joe’s limburger chili lunch, you can reply,

“My darling, I was merely administering to you, within the privacy and comfort of our home, a vital health test: the experts tell us that, in a person without any other symptoms, a sudden appearance of asomnia – loss of the sense of smell – is one of the earliest signs of COVID-19.”

 

“I heard that….”

 

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Department Of Yet Another Thing I Was Told I Would Like…
And Looked Forward To Liking…
But Then I Didn’t

That would be the much-acclaimed HBO series, Big Little Lies. MH and I made it to episode four of the first season, and… Sorry.  Moiself  simply doesn’t wanna spend any more time around those characters.

If you are a fan of the BLL series, kindly restrain your knee-jerk reaction to channel your Literature Appreciation 101 professor in my direction.  Yep, I totally get that unpleasant characters – in protagonist, antagonist, and supporting roles alike – can be vital components of compelling storylines.  Duh, *fiction writer* here!  For example: who is a sympathetic and/or likeable character in Macbeth?

But, sorry – BLL is no Macbeth.

And, the sex scenes…

“Like, I *know*….

 

BLL uses what I call the “movie sex” presentation, which I find  ridiculous/boring:

* candle- or otherwise gauzily-lit locales

*nothing resembling safe sex being practiced

* unrealistic body presentation  (read: the men can be flabsters but the women always look like models )

* smoldering looks passing for foreplay, yet both the men and women reach wall-pounding orgasms within two minutes

* and what’s with all the up-against-the-wall-pounding?

But my main objection to BLL’s sex scenes is the violence.  Having worked in my past life   [2]   with victims of sexual violence, I don’t find violent, aggressive, “rough” and/or “merely coercive” sex to be entertaining, even when it’s excused justified as “necessary to portray the dysfunctional dynamic of the relationship.”

Sure, there’s great acting from all cast members, but so far,  BLL is not moiself’s  cup of strychnine tea.  In time I may return to finish the series, but at this point not even the curiosity of finding out which character gets murdered   [3]  can compel me to stay with it. 

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Department Of Will There Ever Be A Vaccine For Flagrant Asininity?

“Coronavirus could be ‘under control’ in weeks if everyone wore masks,
CDC director says.”

(Washington Post, 7-14-20 )

“…the near-universal scientific consensus that, more than any of single action short of everyone entering solitary confinement, face coverings can prevent the transmission of the coronavirus that causes Covid-19….
The benefits of masking in reducing viral transmission are clear…. In an analysis of 194 countries, those that did not recommend face masks saw Covid-19 mortality increase 54% every week after the first case appeared; in countries with masking policies, the weekly increase was only 8%.”
(“If everyone wore a mask, Covid-19 could be brought under control,
CDC director urges,”   statnews.com 7-14-20 )

Dateline: earlier this week. MH directed my attention to a Facebook post:  a kinfolk of ours posted a “group selfie” picture with three other people, all smiling into the cellphone camera, their unmasked faces close together. As reported in the post, these folks were in a bar, celebrating a friend’s birthday with, among other activities, “karaoke singing.”

 

 

Yep.  All that, plus karaoke singing.

“…singers…generate respiratory aerosols at high rates. In other words, they spew a lot of droplets into the air when they warble or blow.….
A professor  explains the physics:  ‘You have the air that’s coming out on your respiratory tube, your mouth, and your nose, and there’s liquid lining all of your respiratory system. …And when the air is going very quickly,  (the force with which singers expel air) it can basically grab a little bit of that material and put it in a particle, and then you expel it out into the air….
anything that makes the air go faster or more strongly or produce more air is putting out more respiratory particles.

If you’re singing, you’re breathing in a lot of air, you’re breathing out very forcefully, and you’re also moving your vocal cords. The vocal cords are wet, they’re covered in this fluid, they’re vibrating, and that can also produce more particles.”
As a result…group singing remains “extremely dangerous and irresponsible,” (the professor stated), pointing out numerous other super-spreading incidents among choruses worldwide.”
( ” Singers Can Be Coronavirus Superspreaders, Say Experts …”  npr.org, 8-16-20 )

 

 

“…the more responsibly you’d choose to behave…ya think?

Yeah, right.  Welcome to the USA.

“For months, public health officials have been warning about the dangers of going to bars: They’re indoor spaces, they frequently have poor air circulation, and after a few drinks, people tend to lean in close during conversations or put their arms around their besties, all while forgetting to wear their masks….


But if bars are dangerous during a pandemic, karaoke is even worse, regardless of what form it takes…. A fun way to spend a night on the town has become a raging cocktail of everything epidemiologists tell us to avoid: Gathering in groups, passing around a microphone that’s potentially covered in virus-covered respiratory droplets, and most of all, singing.


The dangers of singing in public were laid bare in March at a church choir practice in Skagit, Wash. Only one of the 61 attendees at the two-hour rehearsal was known to be symptomatic, but 53 would end up testing positive for the coronavirus, and two members died. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that the act of singing “might have contributed to transmission through emission of aerosols, which is affected by loudness of vocalization.”
( “Karaoke is a health risk during a pandemic.”  Washington Post, 8-17-20

 

 

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Department Of Damn Damn Damn Damn Damn!

Don’t you hate it when someone whom you otherwise admire –

say, a writer known for her empathetic take on complicated cultural and political topics (e.g., sexual violence, family relationships, race, privilege) using both a broad and personal lens, who is capable of recognizing the opinions of others while persuasively articulating her own –

says something which makes you realize that there is at least one    [4]  part of her brain wherein her subconscious spends way too much time staring at a frozen orange juice container because it says, “concentrate”?

Dateline:  Wednesday am, beginning to listen to Tig Notaro’s “Don’t Ask Tig” podcast.  Notaro’s guest is writer Roxanne Gay, and I’m excited to hear that…until I hear the following exchange, and have to press the what the fuck – seriously? stop button on my podcast app.

Host TN was asking RG how RG feels about being someone whose opinions people value and respect. RG responded that it feels great, if challenging, considering the kind of  stressful  [5]  topics she is asked to speak about, but most of the time it’s fine….

Host TN:
And where did you – where did that come from, in you?

Guest  RG:
I don’t know.  I’m very quiet and very shy…I think it’s because, I tend to – I’m a Libra, and so I’m able to acknowledge multiple points of view.….

Host TN:
Well, I’m an Aries, I don’t know what that means.

Guest  RG:
I don’t know either; I only know my own sign….I don’t fully understand astrology, but I have seen enough to believe in it, and take it seriously….

 

 

Damn damn damn damn damn.

I will, most likely, continue to read Ms. Gay’s essays and op-eds.  Still, grrrrrrrr.  I know that all idols have feet of clay, and that it’s good to be reminded of this, but do the idol’s clay feet have to be seemingly, blissfully, unaware that she’s stomping in horseshit?

Santa, please put Ms. Gay on your Christmas list, and sent her a special present this year: Carl Sagan’s baloney detection kit.

Moiself  gets some of the reasons why people “believe in” astrology, or just like to read their horoscopes. For some folk it’s like a game, and astrology allows you to do the humble brag (or humble rag) thing:  you can list your strengths or weaknesses without taking personal responsibility for either boasting or knocking yourself, because the credit (or blame) is in your stars.

 

 

I’ve met people who admit to “checking” their horoscope but say that they do so only for amusement purposes and don’t really think the predictions are valid.  However, many scientists argue that even the “entertainment only” aspects of things like astrology are misleading and even harmful, in that they promote the idea that it is possible to interpret or explain reality of the natural world via the supernatural.

“Astrology can be tested by the lives of twins. There are many real cases like this: one twin is killed in childhood in, say, a riding accident or struck by lightning, while the other one lives to a prosperous old age. Supposed that had happened to me. My twin and I would have been born in exactly the same place and within minutes of each other, exactly the same planets would be rising at our births. If astrology were valid, how would we have such profoundly different fates?”
( Carl Sagan, as quoted in culturacolectiva.com )

The late great astronomer Carl Sagan was proficient in taking down astronomy and other pseudosciences.  His life’s work involved encouraging people to

*  learn critical and skeptical thinking skills
* understand that science is not just a body of knowledge, but a way of thinking.

If you haven’t read Sagan’s book, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark, what are you waiting for? Even if you already know why, say, astronomy (or divination, fortune-telling, witchcraft, ad nauseum) is hokum, the book is an excellent explication of the scientific method to laypeople.  Also, Sagan was a highly entertaining writer who was “incapable of composing a dull sentence,” as one admirer put it.

 

 

*   *   *

2020: a year which started with murder hornets and descended into COVID-19, civil unrest (e.g., the BLM movement and police brutality protests), wildfires, hurricanes, and the myriad of unnatural disasters emanating from the White House….

When it comes to using bowling metaphors to describe the events of this year,   [6]  it was like our society just kept throwing a series of gutter balls.

So, the regular/festive tree will wait until next year. For 2020, this is all I can muster.

 

 

Lest you think moiself  has totally Scrooged-out on the festivities this year, I found another “tree” at an antique store.  This one has room for a mere nine hanging ornaments. It wasn’t as difficult a task as you might think – whittling down the 100+ ornaments we have to only nine. Most of our ornaments are way too big for this kind of display, so, an assortment of my favorite smaller ones will do, for now. 

 

 

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Department Of Get A Load Of This Pair

Moiself  was compelled to adopt these from the grocery store.  But, what to do with them?

 

 

I thought, maybe something Thai-flavored.  Thailand is The Country Formerly Known as Siam, ® and the first thing that came to my mind when I saw these orange beauties was, “Cool – Siamese squash.”

That thought was almost immediately followed by Well-Meaning Liberal’s Unnecessary Self-Flagellation ® : “Ooh, that might be taken as insulting, or culturally-appropriating.  I should probably say, “Conjoined Squash.”

Call ’em whatever, but what to do with them? I asked for suggestions from my family, who were as helpful as always.  Son K declined to comment. Daughter Belle’s response:  “Boobies!”  Thank you, daughter dearest, but I was thinking more along culinary lines.   [7]

MH suggested that I could hang them from my car’s trailer hitch.  Yeah, but then I’d have to paint them blue….    [8]

*   *   *

Pun For The Day

I left my husband because he kept making astrology puns –
it finally Taurus apart.

 

 

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Department Of Partridge Of The Week

This week’s Partridge in our pear tree:

 

 

*   *   *

 

May you be judicious in choosing which home health tests you give to your loved ones;
May you remember that the best way to treat your “besties”
is to wear a mask in their presence;
May you realize that if you seriously want to know what the moon is in Aries,
then you need to know that your head is seriously up your ass;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

[1] As in, “I heard that!”

[2] Private OB/GYN practice; Planned Parenthood; domestic violence and child abuse training.

[3] Unless I am promised that the answer is, “They all do.”

[4] Hopefully, teeny.

[5] I believe the term she used was, “fucked up.”

[6] And you know you want to.

[7] I ended up making a Thai coconut curry with them.

[8] If you do not get this cultural reference, be thankful, and refrain from googling the image.

The Gender Reveal Parties I’m Not Invited To

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Department Of One Size Does Not Fit All

When it comes to giving grieving advice, the best (as in, most helpful) might be:

Speak for yourself.

 

Hardly profound…but…really.  Share your experiences and perspectives if asked to do so, but remember, they are just that.  *Your* experiences and perspectives are not necessarily prescriptive for others.  Preface your remarks with something along the lines of, “I can’t speak to everyone’s situation; this is what happened to me/my family, and this is what was helpful to me/us, and this is what was not….”

I have been reading up on grief experienced by families who have lost an adult child to addiction – a subject with which my extended family has had the misfortune to become acquainted with.  In several online articles and forums, I came across three similar stories of parents telling how

* news of their child’s death was greeted by silence from both friends and family;
*  such silence was painful to these parents as they grieved their loss;
* people later justified their silence with, “I honestly didn’t know what to say; I was afraid I’d say the wrong thing, and hurt your feelings….”

The similarity in these three stories was in the response of the parents to those people who explained or justified their silences. I am summarizing and paraphrasing their responses here, by quoting one particular parent:

” ‘Hurting our feelings?’ That’s impossible!”
“It is *impossible* to hurt *anyone* who has lost a child – we have already suffered the worst hurt imaginable.
Say something, anything, to acknowledge our loss.”

Her adamancy on this matter practically screamed from the text.  And I thought, “Well…certainly, she’s an expert on her own feelings, but why is she speaking in such absolutes – why is she presuming to speak for “anyone” (read: everyone) who has lost a child?”

Also, in several of the stories I read which both preceded and followed the It-is-impossible-to-hurt-us parent’s story, other parents – those whom she had labeled as-impossible-to-hurt –  spoke of how they *had* been further hurt, by unintentionally but nevertheless painful and/or thoughtless comments from friends and family, neighbors and co-workers, doctors and law enforcement officers.  Some people’s attempts at comfort came off as giving unsolicited advice to the grieving parents – often in the form of tacit or even overt religious proselytizing –  or as passing judgement regarding the deceased, whose death was spoken of as inevitable (“his own fault;” “a foreseeable consequence of her poor choices”) and therefore less shocking than losing a child in other ways, such as via auto accidents, illness, even homicide or suicide. 

 

 

Moiself  doesn’t want to add to humanity’s burden of of consistently and compassionately understanding when and how to comfort loved ones who’ve suffered these kinds of devastating, personal losses.  It’s complicated, to say the least, for both sides – the giving and receiving of condolences.  As one poet friend so precisely and evocatively wondered,

“Many have traveled here, so why are there no better maps?”   [1]

Better maps, indeed.  Someday, we may have them.  Until then, speak to and about someone’s loss with love and kindness.   When it comes to giving advice, speak for yourself.  And only yourself.  And *listen* to the bereaved, as if your life depended on it.

*   *   *

Department Of Is That An Infectious Parasite In Your Brain
Or Are You Just Happy To See Me?

Toxoplasma gondii exerts a strange sort of mind control on rodents: Once infected with the brain parasite, they seem to lose their fear of cats and become more likely to get eaten. When they are, the microbe can make its way into the feline intestine to reproduce. But a new study argues that T. gondii’s effects on rodents aren’t cat specific; instead, the parasite simply makes mice more eager to explore and less fearful of any species that might gobble them up.”
(Science, “Brain parasite may strip away rodents’ fear of predators—not just of cats.”

Given my previous advice, I  shouldn’t speak for my entire species, so I’ll just say that moiself  has no desire to gobble up a mouse or any rodent.   However, I recently saw a mouse infected with (I’m guessing) toxoplasmosis.

I can’t think of what else might explain its unusual, survival-fail behavior.  Oh, and if you’ve never heard about the life cycle of the toxoplasma gondii, treat yourself to a brief overview of arguably one of Mother Nature’s strangest, most face-palming, biological phenomena.

 

 

Dateline: Tuesday, 7 am-ish, leaving my house via the garage, to go for a walk.  The sun is not quite up; as I walk down the driveway toward the sidewalk I notice something scurrying in the front yard, to the right, about five feet from me, in the dirt underneath our redbud tree.  I approach the Scurrying Something, and see a mouse.

The mouse also sees me.  Instead of freezing in place or fleeing, it raises up on its hind feet and looks up, its beady little eyes staring right at me.  It begins to run in circles, first towards then away from me, and makes little leaps into the air and prances about, as if it is trying to attract my attention.  Is this a batshit crazy mouse, I’m thinking, or is this behavior trying to distract me away from, say, its nest that is nearby?    [2]     Or…is this a horny mouse who’s lookin’ for love in all the wrong places, and it thinks I smell like cat pee?  I’ll admit that my regular shower schedule has lapsed during the COVID quarantine months, but hey – it’s not THAT bad.

Toxoplasma gondii …can only reproduce within the bodies of cats, and in mice, the mind-controlling parasite has evidently evolved to make mice unafraid of felines and even…sexually attracted to the odor of cat urine….”
( “Mind-Control Parasite Kills Mice’s Fear of Cats Permanently,”
livescience.com )

Moving right along….

I’m bundled up against the 30˚ temp and fumble through my layers of clothing, trying to get my cellphone out of my pants pocket.  I want to videotape this mouse’s interpretive dance or whatever it is, and show it to my offspring, both of whom were biology majors and worked with mice in undergraduate research projects.  Just as I get my phone and find the video mode, the mouse scampers toward me, which gives me pause (uh, what if it’s rabid…and is that even a mouse-thing?    [3] ). Manic Mouse gets to within less than a foot of my foot, does a little pirouette, then makes a beeline for our pear tree, which is about four feet away, by the sidewalk.  I follow the mouse; it resumes its acrobatic antics around the pear tree’s trunk and underneath the surrounding azalea bushes.  The combination of the darkness, the rapidity of the mouse’s movements, and my less-than-stellar cinematography skills makes for a poor video.  I bid the mouse adieu and go for my walk, pondering, among other metaphysical wonders:

Why isn’t it pronounced, tox-o-plas- MOUSE -is?

 

“Yeah, what she said.”

 

*   *   *

Department Of Just Wondering
#589 In A Never-Ending Series

Why do our big toes *not* have their own separate, special name?  We have a unique moniker for the pollex, the short, thick first digit of the human hand: we call it the thumb, thus distinguishing it from the other fingers.  But we have ten toes, and they’re all just…toes.  Okay, the first ones are the big toes, but, c’mon, what kind of pansy-ass distinction is that?

Is it because, unlike many other primates, humans’ big toes are not opposable, and so the big toes get no respectable label?

I’m open to suggestions.

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of What Happens To Your Brain When You When You Read Celebrity News
Before You Go To Bed

The news in question was someone’s Facebook posting of a Twitter announcement, from an actor, of said actor’s newly-claimed   [4]    trans status. The announcement included, of course, the customary pronouns preference:

“… I want to share with you that I am trans, my pronouns are he/they…”

I read this before dozing off ~ 10 pm.  Later, in the literal wee hours of the morning, I was awakened by the not-unfamiliar sounds of MH, getting out of bed to go to the bathroom but being not-quite-awake and forgetting where he was  (read: he’d walked into a wall and was feeling around for the bathroom door).

Moiself, sitting upright:
MH!

MH:
Yes?

Moiself:
You’re in Hillsboro.  And…

I stopped at “and.” But, honest-to-the-gods-whose-existences-I-refute, I almost added,   [5]

“…and your pronouns are he/his/him.”

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Speaking Of Gender    [6]

A Firefighter Is Killed In California Wildfire Sparked By Gender Reveal Party

“… The problem with gender reveals has grown so out of control, the woman who popularized them begged parents to “stop having these stupid parties” on social media. The most recent fire in California was started when clouds of blue smoke for a boy preceded the flames, which the expectant parents tried to put out with bottled water. In 2017, an Arizona gender-reveal party explosion started a wildfire that burned about 47,000 acres.”
( “After Gender Reveal Celebration Sparks Fire, Some Say The Parties Have Gotten Out Of Hand,”  Here and Now, 9-9-20 )

 

On one end of the scale of Humans Who Are Concerned About Such Things®, there’s a small but vocal crowd which insists, “Gender is just a construct.”  At the other end are those for whom gender is such defining human characteristic that they cause wildfires by trying to announce to an ask-us-if-we-care world the sex of their not-even-born precious snowflake baby.

Maybe y’all are ahead of me on this, but moiself  was gob-smacked to discover, which I did only recently, that more than one gender reveal party has started a wildfire.

 

Please, someone set fire to this.

 

To all future, even halfway serious considerers of holding a “gender reveal” gathering of any kind, please consider this: the only thing you will be revealing is probably no secret to those who know you:

“Congratulate us, we’re having a _____
(humanoid offspring of narcissistic morons) ! “

Gender is not “just” a construct,  if only “just” by the fact that for some folks, determining if a developing fetus is male or female gets their (non-gender-fluid) panties in a knot. 

 

Imagine the size of the knot which could entangle this pair.

 

“Just-a-construct;” “the end all and be all of life.” Perhaps these gender perspectives are the opposite side of the same coin… or,  the adjacent sides of the same tetrahedron, considering the complexity of the issue?   [7] 

When I was pregnant with son K and then daughter Belle, our neighbors gave a baby shower/party for moiself  and MH.  Me being, well, me, my dear, tolerant friends knew better than to host a women/moms only event, and the guys/dads truly seemed to enjoy being included in the festivities.  MH and I dared to wade through the murky waters of Being A Gracious Guest Etiquette ® by letting the party hosts know in advance that we did not want anything “gendered” – please, none of that pink or blue crap swag.  [8]    MH made it known that, in particular, any of those dreadful baby bows, which were popular at the time (mid-1990s) would be, how you say, not appreciated by the mother-to be.  [9]

From what I’ve seen lately, those ridiculous bows are making a comeback.  People: why are y’all doing this to your girl-childs? 

The first time I saw a girl-baby with one of those forehead bands, I felt so…dispirited.  Yet another reminder of how early it starts, for females:  a few days out of the V-shute and the world wants to start decorating her already?

I queried the first sets of parental units I saw whom had accessorized their child thusly; I asked in (what I thought was) an open-minded, even-toned manner, about what the forehead bow-thingy was for?  Each parental unit answered in the same way:

Gender-Crazed Parental Units:
“Oh, isn’t it cute?! That’s so people know our baby is a girl!”

Moiself :
“Oh…okay…well…your family and friends already know – I assume you’ve told them – your baby’s name, and that she’s a girl, right?”

GCPU:
“Yes, but other people don’t. And with most little babies, you can’t tell by looking at their faces whether it’s a boy or a girl. “

Moiself:
“And it is important for ‘other people,’ including strangers, to know your child’s sex, because…?”

Because it’s never too early to slap on those expectations and assumptions, and treat baby boys and baby girls differently from the get-go, before they can even sit up.

 

Why are they doing this to me? And why are boys and men already telling me to smile?

*   *   *

Department Of Partridge Of The Week

This week’s Partridge in our pear tree: Yeah, it’s a repeat of last week.  Because he didn’t get his full shift in.

 

 

*   *   *

 

Pun For The Day

Yesterday, a clown held the door open for me – it was such a nice jester!

 

“I’m going to haunt your dreams if you laugh at this – it only encourages her.”

 

*   *   *

 

May evil clown laughter never haunt your dreams;
May you nonetheless find a way to “encourage her;”
May you come up with a really clever name for your big toe;   [10
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

[1] Leslea Smith, from her poem “Terra Incognita,” ( Cirque literary journal v. 3 #2 ). 

[2] And if the mouse is nesting outdoors at this time of the year then it is a crazy mouse, as its offspring will not survive the cold.

[3] Nope.  Small rodents “almost never”  get rabies and are not a transmission source to humans, according to the CDC.

[4] I’m guessing; thus, the need for an announcement.

[5] I should have, but didn’t want to wake him, or moiself , up any more.

[6] Which I sorta kinda was here (enough to pass it off for a segue), and definitely was back here

[7] Or, perhaps I need a different metaphor.

[8] I had amniocentesis with both of pregnancies; MH and I knew, well in advance of any baby showers, K’s and Belle’s respective sex…but I can’t remember whom we told.  I know we kept the names private until birth – which we’d been advised to do by a wise friend:  “If someone doesn’t like the name you’ve chosen and they think there’s a gnat’s ass of a chance that they can change your mind – and they always think there is a chance that they can change your mind – they will try, so don’t tell anyone the name until it’s on the birth certificate.”

[9] Can you say, sling-shotted into orbit around Mars?

[10] And, it should go without saying, share it with moiself .

The Peace I’m Not Quite Keeping

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Is today still considered Black Friday, what with the COVID crisis limiting the for some white trash who look forward to the traditional shoving match at Walmart customary, day-after-Thanksgiving shopping frenzy?   [1]   Using the post-holiday letdown as an excuse inspiration, moiself  has decided that this will a lighter, less filling, politics-free post.

 

“Yeeeee-haw!”

 

*   *   *

Department Of Someone Is Not Understanding The Concept

Our city’s curbside recycling services recently (within the past year) added food waste recycling to their yard waste recycling service.  Each household was issued a small (~ 1 gallon) tan container for the house, to be kept on your kitchen counter, under the sink, wherever, for your potato and apple peels, squash rinds – all of your plant food waste.  When that container is full you empty it into your large (60 gallon) brown yard waste bin which you keep outside a foot or so over the property line, so as to annoy your neighbors next to your other garbage and recycling bins. the smaller container goes back inside the house. You wheel the big brown bin to the curb when it is your street’s garbage/recycling pickup day. Pretty basic stuff.

 

house food waste container on the front/left, which you empty into the yard waste bin on the right.

 

Our city, like most cities these days, has a fleet of garbage/recycling vehicles which are automated side load trucks.  The trucks have a crew of one – the driver, who operates a mechanical arm which grabs and lifts the recycling bin and dumps it.

Here is what moiself  observed on Monday morning, when I was walking in a neighborhood ~ 1 mile from my house, on that neighborhood’s recycling day.

 

 

*   *   *

Dept Of Avoiding Politics To Keep The Peace For Just One Day, But Of Course She Found Something Else to Tantalize Offend Some of Y’all

 

 

” ‘I prayed and I prayed and I prayed that she was out there,” Mr. Smart said.”
( Quote from father of kidnap victim Elizabeth Smart, from NY Times article,
“Utah Girl’s 9-Month Ordeal Poses a Puzzle Strange and Biblical,” 3-16-03 )

There are so many, many, many examples I could use, but I’ll settle on this one: Why do religious folk still engage, and/or seem to believe in, the efficacy of intercessory prayer, considering what happened to Elizabeth Smart?

 

 

Jesus Lied About Prayer
(excerpts from “Lies Jesus Told,”
from the blog, “EvilBible.com – fighting Against Immorality In Religion” )

“Jesus is quoted many times in the Bible saying that a believer can ask for anything through prayer and receive it.  He even goes so far as to say that mountains and trees can be thrown into the sea simply by praying for it.  This is clearly a lie, and can be proven to be a lie by any believer.  Simply pray for me to be converted to Christianity right away.  Or better yet ask God to move the mountains behind my house.  He could make a lot of converts that way.  If I’m converted today, I’ll post a public apology on my web site and devote my life to kissing God’s ass.  If I’m not converted it would only be fair for you to apologize and devote your life to kissing my butt.
Here are the quotes from Jesus that proves that he lied:”

(moiself’s comment: the following is number three of nine demonstrably claims, from the New Testament, attributed to Jesus, that the author of this blog lists):
(3) “Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven.  For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.
(Matthew 18:19-20 NAS)”

Remember the Mormon girl, Elizabeth Smart, who was kidnapped from her Salt Lake City home at knifepoint when she was fourteen years old? She was held captive for nine months by her abductor.   [2]  The man, an excommunicated Mormon, claimed to be a prophet and an angel, and told Smart that she was …”the first of many virgin brides he planned to kidnap, each of whom would accompany him as he battled the Antichrist.” He repeatedly raped Smart, “…sometimes multiple times a day, forced her to look at pornographic magazines, and regularly threatened to kill her.”

Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven.  For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.

If the human interest stories about the case that I read were correct – if what we know about human nature is correct – there were definitely more than two or three people praying, in Jesus’ name, from day one when news of Smart’s abduction broke.  For nine months people prayed alone, and in groups, Mormons and Christians alike,  [3]  as well as believers of other faiths, for that poor girl to be found and returned to her family.

And Jesus was…where, during all of this?

If what Jesus said was trustworthy – and Christians claim that their scriptures are reliable in its narration of Jesus’ words and deeds – when those people were praying he was  in their midst  doing…just what, exactly?  Listening to them, hearing their earnest supplications, discussing it with his supposed father/god/himself ,  [4]  and ultimately, apparently, saying something along the lines of, “Yeah, we’ll let them find her, but not now.  We’ll allow her to get sexually assaulted for several more months, like the Congolese women who also keep praying to us as they are raped in the refugee camps.”

 

*   *   *

 

*   *   *

Department Of This Is In The Running For Best (Verbal) Curse Ever

“May all your shits have antlers!”
( from BoratSubsequentMovieFilm )

 

 

The visual version of this curse would be having to look at this picture.

 

*   *   *

Department Of What The World Needs Now, Is Love Sweet Love….
Or, Failing That, A New Game

Dateline: Thursday morning. My thoughts while walking past the Manzanita Links golf course, where moiself  espied at least six people prepping for a round of golf before halving to attend to Thanksgiving dinner or whatever.

As I passed the end of the course – the ninth hole – moiself   had a sudden realization: while I have no interest in golf such as it is, I am intrigued by the idea of playing it backwards.  How about instead of playing golf, we play Flog ® ?

 

“Only a stupid infidel would use a nine iron off the tee!”

 

No no no; not *that* kind of flog.

Here’s how to Flog: Using a specialty club –golf putters may need to be repurposed for flogging – players “hit” (or somehow coax) their flog balls out of the ninth hole, with the aim of getting the balls up to and atop the ninth hole tee.  Repeat with each hole after (before?) that, until you end up at the first tee.

Just imagine the skill set involved!  I mean, anyone can (eventually) hit a golf ball off of a tee, but the precision, tenacity, and dexterity in getting one *on* to it? Flogging will require an abundance of Zen-like focus and patience.

Flogging will be a high-scoring game – probably no two- or even three-par holes, and the odds against any player shooting a hole in one (tee in one?) will be astronomical.

What do you think – could this attract a whole new generation of players?  Or, are the logistics insurmountable ?  Obviously, you couldn’t have people golfing and flogging at the same time, as you’d end up with weird traffic jams,   [5]    so an existing course would have to decide, day by day, to be either for golfing, or for flogging.

So, when moiself   wins the lottery   [6]   I will rent out an entire course golf course for moiself and some thrill-seeking friends, and we shall Flog.

Community Service/Making The World A Better Place ® Bonus: We floggers will be a better-dressed bunch than golfers. That’s almost too easy to guarantee.

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Partridge Of The Week

Our neighborhood knows the holiday season is in full swing when the lights go up on the pear tree in our front yard (the weekend after Thanksgiving) and stay up until early January. Each week, the tree hosts a Special Guest Star ®.  This week’s Partridge in our pear tree is, as always, the lead-off:

 

*   *   *

Pun For The Day

The cook couldn’t bother to season the thanksgving Turkey – she didn’t have the thyme.

 

“Yeah, sure lady – you’re a vegan, like we believe that!

 

*   *   *

Department Of False Advertising

Although I promoted today’s post as being politics-free, moiself  can’t resist mentioning this.  Dateline: Wednesday afternoon, listening to a podcast, wherein a physician/scientist was being interviewed about the COVID-19 vaccine options.  ‘Twas music to my ears to hear, more than once, the interviewer ask the scientist what he would be expecting and/or hoping from “…The Biden Administration.”

For the first time in four years, I could hear the word “administration,” referring to the federal government, and not feel the, nauseating, gut-twisting, I-told-you-not-to-eat-those-oysters  sensation in the pit of my abdomen, as was the case when the word “administration” was precede by the name of #45.

 

*   *   *

May you intrigue your mind with thoughts of other games
which might be played backwards;
May your soul be soothed by phrases like, The Biden Administration;
May all your shits have antlers;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

[1] Which might be considered a silver lining, of sorts.

[2] And is batshit crazy-evil wife, who abetted him.

[3] Mormons consider themselves Christians, but many (and most evangelical) Christians think that Mormons are *not* Christians.

[4] Remember, that pesky, basically incomprehsnsible Christian theology of The Trinity holds that Jesus and God are one.

[5] And head injuries, to boot.

[6] Read: never, as the way I understand it, you have to enter a lottery in order to win a lottery.

The Reasons I’m Not Fully Getting Into

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As per my comments last week (The Aisle I’m Not Reaching Across):

Department Of I Am Happy/Relieved, But Should Be More Ecstatic-er…
As per the Biden-Harris victory. But I’m not.  For reasons I shall get into next week….

It is next week.  And I can’t avoid the obvious any longer.

 

 

Biden-Harris won! Yet, considering how many voted for #45, I can never look at my fellow Americans again – including some of my family and friends – without wondering.

In the week before election day I listened to several podcasts which featured interviews with “reluctant” tRump voters.  Most of them made statements indicating they held religious (read: Christian) beliefs; what they all had in common was their discomfort with #45’s temperament, character, handling of the pandemic, fomenting civil unrest, ad nauseum.  BUT…#45 “agreed” with them on abortion and they thought that the economy – for themselves – was “better” under his policies.

The idea that because your personal portfolio has increased temporarily (and in the long run, it’s always temporary) means “things are better” for you…I haven’t the words to aptly excoriate the staggering egocentricity and shortsightedness of such thinking.

 

 

Calling all #45 supporters,   [1]  reluctant and gung-ho: Y’all plan to live more than another year or two?  What do you think will happen when the #45 regime’s chickens come home to roost, including record deficits  and national debt and global warming exacerbation…

Over four years in office, the Trump administration has dismantled major climate policies and rolled back many more rules governing clean air, water, wildlife and toxic chemicals.
(from “The Trump Administration Is Reversing More Than 100 Environmental Rules.”  NY Times Nov. 10, 2020  )

Have you no concern for the future – for your children and your fellow citizens, if not for yourself?  Can nothing override your sense of the *me-good-now,* of your satisfaction with personal financial gain and the lack of being inconvenienced by having to change personal/global habits to reduce carbon emissions; can nothing deter you from selling out our children’s future to the financial, environmental and social crises that are sure to come?

Forget, for a moment, the future:  what about the present? Can you really don enough blinders and earplugs to ignore the political and social calamities besetting your fellow citizens and pretend that these don’t harm, involve, or even concern you?

“Trump has repeatedly been endorsed by white supremacist groups and other far-right extremists, and they’ve looked to him as a source of encouragement.”
( Business Insider, 9-30-20 )

“Former KKK leader endorses Trump for president again…
Perhaps the US’s most renowned racial extremist has long supported what he sees as the president’s white nationalist agenda.”
(The Independent, News<World<Americas, 7-9-20)

 

 

 

You must be familiar with how political and human rights leaders call for unity and try to appeal to our so-called better natures when the latest incidents of police brutality, sexism and misogyny, and the country’s history of systemic racism are revealed:

“This is not who we are.” “We are better than this.”

You’ve heard those phrases before; you’ll hear them again. You may even believe them. But I’m gonna shove my elbow down the throat of the next person  [2]   who says that within earshot of moiself.  Because, guess what?  This *is* who we are – at least, nearly half of the voting “we.”

At least 73 million of us are not “better than this,” because 73 million Americans were able and willing to set aside, ignore, or explain away the actions, rhetoric and policies of #45 which have fostered an unprecedented rise in displays of hatred, bigotry, and violence.

“Hate crimes have surged nearly 20 percent during the administration of President Donald Trump, according to a new FBI report on hate crime statistics. The report also shows that hate-motivated murders, largely committed by white supremacists, spiked to their highest number in 28 years.”
( “Hate Crimes Under Trump Surged Nearly 20 Percent Says FBI Report,”
Newsweek, 11-16-20 )

Here’s news from a small town in my state, a story which probably didn’t get much national coverage during the election hoopla:

At least two Klamath Falls billboards were vandalized with…symbols linked to white supremacists and neo-Nazi beliefs….
Multiple swastikas were painted on the billboards, as well as the numbers “1488.” Those numbers are a common white supremacist symbol referencing a future for white children and an homage to Adolf Hitler….
The timing of these symbols appearing the day after the election cannot be ignored, (Klamath Falls Equity Task Force member Joey Gentry) said, noting her belief that people with racist tendencies have been emboldened by President Donald Trump.
(“Swastikas appear on billboards for Democrats, store in Klamath Falls,”
Oregonlive.com, 11-5-20)

There are #45 supporters who claim to be horrified by such actions. They protest, “This isn’t us!” and say that they themselves are not racist. Yet they are willing to overlook #45’s dog whistles to white supremacist organizations – hells bells, he doesn’t even bother to use the whistles anymore.

In politician speak, a dog whistle is language that conveys a particular meaning to a group of potential supporters. The targeted group hears the “whistle” because of its shared cultural reference, but others cannot.
In 2018, The Washington Post wrote that “perhaps no one has sent more dog whistles than President Trump.”
When Trump this year planned a rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma – the site of one of the worst acts of racial terror in U.S. history – on the Black holiday of Juneteenth, the media called the rally a “racist dog whistle.” That suggests that white nationalists would view the timing as an overture, while others would miss the date’s racism. Journalists have also referred to Trump calling COVID-19 “the China virus” as a dog whistle….
True dog whistles rely on there being an “outgroup” that can’t hear the politician’s coded message. They are so specifically targeted that there’s no need to deny their coded meaning because no one outside the intended audience even hears them.
This is why the term “dog whistle” does not accurately describe Donald Trump’s rhetoric. When Trump talks about “rapists” from Mexico, “shithole countries” in Africa and white supremacists as “very fine people,” the racial connotation isn’t hidden – it is obvious.
“This isn’t just a wink to white supremacists,” said Sen. Kamala Harris in a tweet about Trump’s planned Tulsa rally. “[H]e’s throwing them a welcome home party.”
(“Trump’s appeals to white anxiety are not ‘dog whistles’ – they’re racism.”
The Conversation, 9-18-20 )

 

 

It haunts me – the voice of an Otherwise Nice-Sounding Man I heard being interviewed before the election, who said he struggled with his decision.  Despite ONSM’s misgiving about the “other stuff,” ONSM chose #45 because ONDM’s stock portfolio had risen.

Other stuff.  As in, #45’s history of sexual harassment and bullying, encouraging and abetting racial and social inequity, white supremacy, racism, homophobia, transphobia, & xenophobia; coddling (and imitating) dictators; collusion with Russia & obstruction of Justice, corruption and nepotism and “birtherism’ lies and lies lies and more lies…  [3]

If you’ve a strong stomach, you can view (or download a pdf of) the unfortunately-not-yet-complete, “Listing of Trump’s Atrocities,” compiled via years of diligence of the non-profit publisher, McSweeney’s:

Early in President Trump’s term, McSweeney’s editors began to catalog the head-spinning number of misdeeds coming from his administration. We called this list a collection of Trump’s cruelties, collusions, and crimes, and it felt urgent then to track them, to ensure these horrors — happening almost daily — would not be forgotten. This election year, amid a harrowing global health, civil rights, humanitarian, and economic crisis, we know it’s never been more critical to note these horrors, to remember them, and to do all in our power to reverse them.
Various writers have compiled this list during the course of the Trump administration. Their work has been guided by invaluable journalistic resources, including WTFJHT, NPR, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and other sources….

 

Other stuff.  That #45 supporter, and millions like him, claim “That is not who we are,” yet vote for someone Who Is Exactly That.  And that’s just as bad – no, it’s worse.

The leaders aren’t the problem; they rarely are.  Leaders can do nothing without followers, plus those who claim not to be followers, but are Bystanders and Overlookers.

Charles Manson personally killed no one at the Tate-LaBianca murder scenes; he got his followers to butcher those seven people for him.  Perhaps you’ve read about the protestations post-WWII from Italians who claimed not to have supported the policies of their Prime minister, Benito Mussolini, and who thus objected to being called fascists?  “The concentration camps and mass killings of civilians in Yugoslavia and Greece – those happened outside our borders; we don’t really know about that.  And, yeah, we, like, kinda, sorta, maybe knew that here, in our own country, Mussolini suppressed his opponents, dissenters, and social outsiders via physical assaults, imprisonment, economic deprivation, yada yada yada…. But, he made the trains run on time.”    [4]

“This is not who we are.”

It sucks, massively, to realize the contrary.

 

 

And so my thoughts still go to dark places, dragged down by the reality of the complicity of millions of my citizens, plus this HOLY CRAP realization:

Joe and Kamala are stand-up, intelligent, competent, compassionate people, but yikes – look at how many problems they have to fix.  What looms largest, exacerbated by #45, are the worldwide effects of global warming.  Biden and Harris accept the obvious, hard truths laid out by science, but without a change in the hearts and minds of Republicans in congress, will we have a repeat of the Obama years, when Republicans’ only policy mandate was to counter everything he tried to do?  Will they continue to stamp their metaphorical toddlers’ feet and tantrum their way through Biden’s term: “NO, I WON’T WONT WONT WONT PLAY WITH YOU AND YOU CAN’T MAKE ME.”

*   *   *

*   *   *

Department Of Fun With Misreading Science

Dateline: 11/14, listening to  Clear + Vivid podcast, episode Life on Venus?  From the podcast’s website, this episode’s description:

She studies what may be the most disgusting molecule known to humankind. And that’s made Clara Sousa-Silva a key member of the team that may have detected life in the clouds of Venus. Her foul (and lethal) molecule has been discovered in those clouds – and the only current explanation for its presence is that it is being made by living organisms.

Podcast Host Alan Alda was asking guest Clara Sousa-Silva (quantum astrochemist    [5] ) about how astronomy professor Jane Greeves contacted Sousa-Silva regarding a phenomenon of interest to both of them:

Alda:
“And what prompted her (Greeves)  to look for phosphine on Venus?”

Sousa-Silva:
“It was a paper that we’d both read that mentioned phosphine association with penguin feces. So it seems like the intestines and excrements of penguins have… a rich, complex anerobic world that is producing phosphine, and there was an article released saying we’ve found phosphine above these places where there’s a lot of penguin poop and I had found that paper and read through every peer-reviewed paper that mentioned phosphine, and I’d collected this body of evidence as phosphine as a bio signature for anaerobic worlds… “

Y’all know what this means –

PENGUINS FOUND ORBITING VENUS ! !

 

*   *   *

Department Of 7:45 am Observations While Walking Through The Neighborhood

I see the silhouette in the skies above me, that of a great blue heron flying on to its next destination, whether that be a nearby creek or someone’s backyard koi pond.  The bird’s distinctive “fuselage” reminds me of a 747, at least in comparison to two other birds, one dove and one crow, occupying different flight paths below the heron.

 

Its good to use your imagination.

*   *   *

Department Of The Standup Routine I’m Not Practicing

Dateline; last Friday. Apropos of nothing (that moiself  was aware of), a few minutes after finishing breakfast, I got this flash vision of moiself  practicing for a stand-up comedy routine, taking on the persona of a somewhat oblivious and bemused parent. Here was my opening (or closing…or both, depending on how well it would be received) joke:

“The kids these days, with all of their gender-this and sexual-that labels! Most of it goes right over my head.
The other day I caught my teenage son masturbating with a cast iron skillet. Is that what they mean by, ‘pansexual’?”

Yes, I thought that one up all by moiself. I want applause, dammit.

 

*   *   *

Pun For The Day

Parallel lines have so much in common; it’s a shame they’ll never meet.

 

I thought I made it clear – no more math nerd puns!

 

*   *   *

Department Of Possibly The Most Useless Question Posed To A Sentient Being…Ever

The following email, with this provocative tempting totally bat shit ridiculous thought-provoking come-on, somehow made it past my spam filter:

“Need eyelash extensions for the holidays?”

 

Honey, do you think *I* need eyelash extensions?

 

*   *   *

May you never be a Bystander, nor an Overlooker;
May you realize that you never “need” eyelash extensions, for any occasion;
May we all strive to be better than this;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

[1] Like they read *this* blog.

[2] But only if they are not wearing a mask.

[3] An extensive list may be found at McSweeney’s: The Complete Listing So Far of Trump’s Atrocities,

[4] Except that, he didn’t.  Like many dictators,  Mussolini “…liked to take credit for everything that went right in Italy, even when it didn’t go that well at all. He was particularly fond of saying he was responsible for successful, large-scale public works projects, such as the railroad system.”  (Did Mussolini Really Keep the Trains Running on Time? history.howstuffworks.com  )

[5] Yep, it’s a thing.

The Aisle I’m Not Reaching Across

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This has been such a dismal year, in so many ways…and yet, yesterday, November 12, gave us something to rejoice about: it was the 50th anniversary of The Exploding Whale, Oregon’s legendary contribution to contemporary culture.   [1]  And in honor of that most sacred (to Oregonians) event, the infamous news video has been remastered, and I present it below for your viewing pleasure.  You’re welcome.

Turn up the volume and listen carefully:  in the background, just after the explosion, you can hear a woman advising her (I assume) husband, “All right, Fred, you can take your hands out of your ears…here comes pieces of – oh – uh – whale…”

 

*   *   *

 

Department Of Nomination For Editorial Cartoon Of The Year

 

 

*   *   *

 

Moiself  is still somewhat in shock. Is our nation’s battle with truth-telling and political constipation is finally over, now that we were able to take a giant tRump dump?

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of I Am Happy/Relieved, But Should Be More Ecstatic-er…

As per the Biden-Harris victory. But I’m not.  For reasons I shall get into next week….

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of For Those Still Wondering What The “Defund” Fuss Is About

“Defunding” the police means different things to different people; I think it’s a poorly chosen term for a complex problem.  But…consider this recent incident, in a small Oregon town, as yet another reason why So Many Of Us ®  have concerns (my emphases):

An off-duty Forest Grove police officer faces a criminal mischief allegation after a resident reported that he stumbled into the family’s driveway early Halloween morning, banged and kicked at their front door and yelled at them to fight.

Forest Grove police quickly caught the alleged intruder about 50 yards away and recognized him as one of their own, even giving Officer Steven Teets a ride to his nearby house, investigators confirmed Monday….

 Police also don’t have body camera video of Teets’ escort home because the officer who picked him up and gave him a ride home had a body camera that was not recording, a potential   [2]   violation of department policy that’s now under investigation, officials said.

“We feel violated by what he did to me and violated by the way this was handled,” said Mirella Castaneda, 39, who called 911 that night to report the scare.   … Castaneda said she and her husband were awakened when an alarm from her husband’s truck, parked in their driveway, was activated around 12:30 a.m. on Oct. 31.

It went off twice, and after the second time, she and her husband saw a man emerge from between their two trucks.

The stranger then banged on their Black Lives Matter flag hanging outside their garage door and a Halloween witch decoration on their front lawn, which activated their outside light.

As Castaneda opened the front door and peeked out, the man charged toward her, she said. She slammed the door and locked it.

“The guy is kicking the door, pounding on the door, trying to get in,” she recalled.

Her husband, Pablo Weimann, was looking out their dining room window, yelling at the man, “What the hell do you want?” Their four children had been asleep inside, but their 13-year-old son was awakened by the commotion.

The stranger, according to Castaneda, balled his fists and responded, “Come on! Come on!”

Castaneda called 911 and remained on the line with an emergency dispatcher for about 15 minutes, she said. During that time, the stranger left and the dispatcher told Castaneda that an officer had stopped someone.

When a Forest Grove officer arrived to the family’s home…the officer didn’t seem that concerned but asked if they could describe the stranger, Castaneda said….

Between 2 a.m. to 2:30 a.m., a Washington County sheriff’s deputy arrived at the home and said his office was taking over the case because Forest Grove police personally knew the suspect, according to Castaneda.

( excerpts from The Oregonian, ” Family says off-duty cop terrorized them on Halloween. Forest Grove officer faces criminal mischief allegation. ” )

 

 

Definition of mischief (lexico.com) :

NOUN
Playful misbehavior or troublemaking, especially in children.
(‘she’ll make sure Danny doesn’t get into mischief’)

1.1  Playfulness that is intended to tease, mock, or create trouble.
(‘her eyes twinkled with irrepressible mischief’)

1.2  Harm or trouble caused by someone or something.
(‘she was bent on making mischief’)

Mischief  is, apparently, used differently in a legal sense. Still, I find it…less than adequate, to put it mildly…to have the term applied to this situation, even with the modifier criminal preceding it.  A police officer, a person who, even when not on the job, carries the advantage of authority (read: a gun and a badge) and then – surprise! – is treated differently (read: leniently…read: fucking *escorted to his home* instead of arrested) by responding officers than how a civilian suspected of the same crime would be dealt with.…

Golly gee; this is not my idea of Little Officer Stevie gettin’ in some “mischief.”  For the family, I imagine it was more like, abject fear-inducing, a crazy man is trying to attack us/call-the-police terror…oh, it’s a cop who is terrifying us….

*   *   *

Department Of Who Was In Charge of Adjectives For This Article’s Headline?

” What the president of the United States did tonight wasn’t complicated but it was stunning, even after four long years of the politically extraordinary.
In his remarks tonight from the White House, Mr. Trump lied about the vote count, smeared his opponents and attempted to undermine the integrity of our electoral system.”
(NY Times, “Trump’s Stunning News Conference,” 11-5-20)

 

 

And this is *stunning* because…? And to whom – some nickel miner in New Caledonia ?

No one who has paid a mosquito’s ass worth of attention these past four years would find this stunning.  This is what The Tangerine Toddler does.

*   *   *

Department Of Why Aren’t You Reading Leonard Pitts Jr.’s Column
On A Regular Basis?

Or, maybe you are.

…”If we don’t seek reconciliation, how can we go forward, together?”

The truth? Maybe we can’t…. All I do know is that if it depends on me to reach out to Trump supporters, it will never come to pass.

Please understand: I view this moment through the prism of an African-American man who is a student of history. And one thing that prism has impressed on me is how often this country has sold out Black people in the name of some supposedly greater good.

It happened at the founding, when a condemnation of slavery was removed from the Declaration of Independence to appease the Southern colonies. It happened in 1877 when Rutherford B. Hayes won the presidency in a disputed election after striking a backroom deal to withdraw from the South federal troops who had been protecting black rights — and lives. It happened in the early 20th century when the Senate refused to pass anti-lynching legislation for fear of angering the South. It happened in 1961 when Attorney General Robert Kennedy agreed to the illegal arrest of the Freedom Riders as Mississippi’s price for protecting them from white-supremacist mobs. It happened in 1964 when President Lyndon Johnson blocked a racially mixed delegation from being seated at the Democratic convention because that would offend the South.

Now in 2020, this great-grandson of slaves is expected, in the name of a supposedly greater good, to seek reconciliation with followers of one of the most flagrantly racist — not to mention misogynistic xenophobic and Islamophobic — presidents in history?….

At some point, this country has to… stop asking Black people to swallow insults to their dignity, their integrity, their very being, for the good of the country.

What about what’s good for us? When does that get addressed? At what point does America stand up for us the way it has always asked and expected us to stand up for it?

Trump and his supporters broke this country, and it will take years to repair, if we ever do. They didn’t care then, and as far as I can tell, they don’t care now. So as an African-American student of history — and frankly, just as an American who loves the ideal of America, the truths held self-evident and more perfect union of America — I ask you not to ask me what I will do to reconcile with those people. Here’s a better question:

What will they do to reconcile with me?

(“Blacks are supposed to reconcile with Trump supporters? Nah, not this time. You first.” By Leonard Pitts, Jr.  Miami Herald, 11-7-20 )

 

 

The many, many reasons I am not in favor of “reaching across the (proverbial, political) aisle”  have been and are being expressed by persons more articulate   [3]   than moiself .  Some of them were stated in the previous excerpts of Mr. Pitt’s op-ed.

Read, or even skim through these articles, if you have the stomach for it.

“The Victory of ‘No’ – The GOP’s unprecedented anti-Obama obstructionism….”
(Politico Magazine, 12-4-16)

“I can’t ever recall a newly elected president being faced with the leader of the other party’s caucus saying “Our No. 1 priority is to make this president a one-term president,”’ says (Ed   [4]  ) Rendell citing the remark made by Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader, that exemplified the fierce partisanship that has attended Obama’s tenure. ‘That McConnell would say that in the first nine months of Barack Obama’s tenure is absolutely stunning, disgraceful, disgusting — you name the term.”

(Peter J. Boyer, writing in Newsweek, Sept. 10, 2012, quote from WaPo fact checker article “When did McConnell say he wanted to make Obama a ‘one-term president’?”)
“The Party of No: New Details on the GOP Plot to Obstruct Obama”
( Time magazine, 8-23-12 )

“The GOP’s no-compromise pledge”
( Politico, 10-28-2010 )

“Republicans Keep Admitting Everything
They Said About Obama Was a Lie”

(The New Yorker , 2-11-19)

 

 

The behavior of congressional Republicans during the past 12 years have made it plain as to the futility of across-the-aisle-reaching. Democrats can reach all they want; Republicans refuse to do so. They’ve even bragged about their obstructionism.

Joe Biden, the nation’s president-elect and Kindhearted Uncle In Chief, has spouting the rhetoric of working together, going forward, reaching across the aisle.  Biden is perhaps the best – and one of the only – politicians capable of such magnanimity…even so, I say, Yeah, good luck with that, Joe.  Given that across-the-aisle for the past twelve years perches that monstrous vulture,  obstructionist Mitch McConnell and his miserable minions, whose policy has been It-doesn’t-matter-what’s-best-for-the-country-we-have-to-be-sure-that-whatever-happens-THEY-LOSE. 

I feel a deep, simmering, hard-to-accurately-describe rage when I hear calls for “reaching across the aisle,” “not treating your opponents as enemies,” and other statements which imply that seeking justice is “looking backwards, not forwards.”  These calls are, of course, not coming from those on the Right who most need to beg for reconciliation with those whom they’ve wronged, but from Well-Meaning People ® on the Left.

“Swalwell calls for creation of presidential crimes commission to investigate Trump when he leaves office”
( The Hill, 8-14-20 )

I’ve been surprised by how many Well-Meaning People ® also seem hesitant to hold #45 et all responsible for their crimes, because, they say, they fear doing so may throw “gasoline on the fire” and be viewed by #45’s already volitile supporters as an act of vengeance.

Giving into the loudest/most unreasonable voices does not keep the peace, nor does it snuff the fire.  Stop tip-toeing around the feelings of people who would support such a disgraceful, delinquent, despotic politician as #45.  Such people Don’t. Care. What. You. Think. Or. Say. About. Them.

A thorough investigation of how #45 and his nepotistic nest of nincompoops and comrades abused and profited from the office of the presidency is not seeking vengeance, it is enacting justice.  Prosecuting lawbreakers is what prosecutors do.  In particular, a POTUS like #45, who appealed to tribalism via using the law-and-order tag, should be held accountable for breaking the law and fomenting disorder. To do otherwise is to uphold the fundamentally anti-American notion that a POTUS is above the law, and would help write the playbook as to how crimes and corruptions will be excused for the next would-be despot to occupy the Oval Office.    [5]

As my friend and political blogger Spocko put it,

When Biden wins I’m going to be a sore winner.
Sure Democrats can reach across the aisle–if they’re serving subpoenas.
I’ll “look backwards” at the crimes committed by Trump, his family, elected & appointed officials in the GOP.
What will I “look forward” to?
Convictions.

 

 

*   *   *

But…I am trying to concentrate on some good, less stressful things.

 

*   *   *

Department Of Nominee For Quote Of The Year

Dateline and context: Tuesday morning, breakfast.  MH is standing beside the table, looking over a jigsaw puzzle (“Rosie the Riveter”) which has been on our puzzle board for far too long.  He has done the majority of the work; our cats, over the weeks, have done some overnight “rearranging” of the pieces.

MH is talking about completing the puzzle, about how it would probably be best to do “the blue section” next, as there aren’t many pieces in that section, and he’s got them all organized according to color…. He’s not addressing me specifically (he almost sounds as if he’s thinking aloud)…oh, but of course he is – who else is there?  And he’s using a very gentle, encouraging voice, as if I’m a novice and/or special needs puzzle-doer.  It’s not patronizing, but for some reason his placid encouragement cracks me up.  I start giggling to moiself …but it doesn’t stay with moiself, and soon morphs into teary-eyed laughter. It is a full minute before I can collect moiself  and answer his “Okay; why are you laughing?” query.

I tell him why.    [6]   His mumbled comment, as he sorts through the blue puzzle pieces while feigning indignation:

“This is why people are quiet.”

 

 

*   *   *

Pun For The Day

Why do grizzlies hate this part of my blog? They can’t bear puns.

 

“It’s *your* turn to make her stop….”

*   *   *

 

May you know that you can pursue justice *and* reach across the aisle;
May you understand what the fuss is all about;
May you remember why people are sometimes quiet;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

*   *   *

[1] Well, that and Tonya Harding.

[2] Whaddya mean, “potential” violation? 

[3] And less prone to profanity, at least in print.

[4] Ed Rendell, former governor of Pennsylvania.

[5] This should be footnote #5, don’t you think?

[6] Did you know that four out of three dentists recommend footnote reading instead of flossing?

The Post-Election Rant I’m Not Posting

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Because there is too much post-election uncertainty for moiself  to compose anything else, it’s time for the annual intro to the holiday season.  Brace y’all selves.

 

 

 

Department Of Life Is Tough But It’s Even Tougher If You’re Stupid
Chapter 22467 in a (never-ending) series

“The idea of a “War on Christmas” has turned things like holiday greetings and decorations into potentially divisive political statements. People who believe Christmas is under attack point to inclusive phrases like “Happy Holidays” as (liberal) insults to Christianity….
Christmas is a federal holiday celebrated widely by the country’s Christian majority. So where did the idea that it is threatened come from?…
The most organized attack on Christmas came from the Puritans, who banned celebrations of the holiday in the 17th century because it did not accord with their interpretation of the Bible….”
(“How the ‘War on Christmas’ Controversy Was Created,” NY Times, 12-19-16)

 

*   *   *

Department Of If Something Seems Familiar, That’s Because It’s Time For
My Annual Holiday Traditions Explained ® Post

 

What do vegetarians, egans, non-meat and/or plant-based eaters do on Thanksgiving?
( Other than, according to your Aunt Erva, RUIN IT FOR EVERYONE ELSE.   [1]

The above question is an existential dilemma worthy of Soren Kierkegaard, the Danish philosopher, who wrote eloquent discourses on the subjective and objective truths one must juggle when choosing between a cinnamon roll and a chocolate swirl    [2]

 

*   *   *

Department Of I’ll Take Those Segues Where I Can Find Them

Three weeks from today will be the day after feasting, for many of us. Then, just when you’re recovering from the last leftover turkey sandwich/quiche/casserole/enchilada-induced salmonella crisis and really, really need to get outside for some fresh air, here comes the Yule season. You dare not even venture to the mall, lest your eardrums be assaulted from all sides by Have a Holly Jolly Christmas, Feliz Navidad, ad nauseum.

This observation provides a convenient segue to my annual, sincere, family-friendly,   [3]

Heathens Declare War on Christmas © post.

 

Department Of Did You Know…

…that the Reverend Increase Mather of Boston observed in 1687 that, “the early Christians who  first observed the Nativity on December 25 did not do so thinking that Christ was born in that Month, but because the Heathens’ Saturnalia was at that time kept in Rome, and they were willing to have those Pagan Holidays metamorphosed into Christian ones.”  [4]

Because of its known pagan origin, Christmas was banned by the Puritans, and its observance was illegal in Massachusetts until 1681.  [5]

 

 

“Do you celebrate Christmas?”

We Heretics/apostates non-Christians Happy Heathens often hear this question at this time of year.  The inquiry is sometimes presented in ways that imply our celebration (or even acknowledgement) of Christmas is hypocritical.  This implication is the epitome of cheek, when you consider the fact that it is the early Christians who stole a festival from our humanist (pagan) forebears, and not the other way around.

Who doesn’t like a party, for any reason? And we who are religion-free don’t mind sharing seasonal celebrations with religious folk– sans the superstition and government/church mumbo-jumbo — as long as they accept the fact that the ways we all celebrate this “festive season” predate Christianity by hundreds of years.

 

 

Early Roman Catholic missionaries tried to convert northern Europeans to the RC brand of Christianity, and part of the conversion process was to alter existing religious festivals. The indigenous folk, whom the RC church labeled “barbarians,” quickly discovered that when it came to dealing with  missionaries, resistance is futile. The pagans intuitively grasped the concept of natural selection and converted to Christianity to avoid the price (persecution, torture, execution) of staying true to their original beliefs.  But they refused to totally relinquish their old celebrations, and so the church, eventually and effectively, simply renamed most of them.    [6]

Pagan practices were given a Christian meaning to wipe out “heathen” revelry.  This was made official church policy in 601 A.D., when Pope Gregory the First issued the now infamous edict to his missionaries regarding the traditions of the peoples they wanted to convert. Rather than try to banish native customs and beliefs, missionaries were directed to assimilate them. You find a group of people decorating and/or worshiping a tree? Don’t chop it down or burn it; rather, bless it in the name of the Church.  Allow its continued worship, only tell the people that, instead of celebrating the return of the sun-god in the spring, they are now worshiping the rising from the dead of the Son of God.

( Easter is the one/odd exception, where the pagan celebration was adapted by Christians without a name change. Easter is a word found nowhere in the Bible. It comes from the many variants (Eostra, Ester, Eastra, Eastur….) of a Roman deity, goddess of the dawn “Eos” or “Easter,” whose festival was in the Spring.)

The fir boughs and wreaths, the Yule log, plum pudding, gift exchanges, the feasting, the holly and the ivy and the evergreen tree….It is hard to think of a “Christmas” tradition that does not originate from Teutonic (German),Viking, Celtic and Druid paganism.   [7]   A celebration in the depths of winter – at the time when, to those living in the Northern Hemisphere, the sun appears to stop its southerly descent before gradually ascending north – is a natural instinct. For thousands of years our Northern Hemisphere ancestors greeted the “reason for the season” – the winter solstice – with festivals of light and gift exchanges and parties.  The Winter Solstice was noted and celebrated long before the Roman Jesus groupies pinched the party.

 But, isn’t “Jesus is the reason for the season”?

The reason for the season?  Cool story, bro.  Since you asked; actually, axial tilt is the reason for the season.  For all seasons.

 

 

And Woden is the reason the middle of the week is named Wednesday.  [8]   My calling Wednesday “Wednesday” doesn’t mean I celebrate, worship or “believe in” Woden.  I don’t insist on renaming either Christmas, or Wednesday.

 

“Now, go fetch me the sheisskopf who took the Woden out of Woden’s Day!”

 

The Winter Solstice is the day with the shortest amount of sunlight, and the longest night. In the northern hemisphere it falls on what we now mark as December 21 or 22.  However, it took place on December 25th at the time when the Julian calendar was used.   [9]   The early Romans celebrated the Saturnalia on the Solstice, holding days of feasting and gift exchanges in honor of their god Saturn. (Other major deities whose birthdays were celebrated on or about the week of December 25  [10]   included Horis, Huitzilopochtli, Isis, Mithras, Marduk, Osiris, Serapis and Sol.)  The Celebration of the Saturnalia was too popular with the Roman pagans for the new Christian church to outlaw it, so the new church renamed the day and reassigned meanings to the traditions.   [11]

In other words, why are some folk concerned with keeping “the Christ in Christmas”  [12]  when we should be keeping the Saturn in Saturnalia?

 

 

*   *   *

Whatever your favorite seasonal celebrations may be, I wish you all the best.

May you have the occasion to (with good humor) ruin it for everyone else;
May you find it within yourself to ignore the Black Friday mindset;
May you remember to keep the Saturn in Saturnalia;
…and may the fruitcake-free hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

[1]  You have an Aunt Erva, somewhere.  We all do.

[2]  Damn right I’m proud of that one.

[3]  Well, compared to the usual shit I write.

[4] “Increase Mather, A Testimony against Several Prophane and Superstitious Customs, Now Practiced by Some in New England (London, 1687).  See also Stephen Nissenbaum, The Battle for Christmas: A Cultural History of America’s Most Cherished Holiday,” New York: Vintage Books, 1997.

[5] Stephen Nissenbaum, “The Battle for Christmas: A Cultural History of America’s Most Cherished Holiday.”

[6] “Paganism in Christianity.”

[7] “Learn not the way of the heathen…their customs are vain, for one cuts a tree out of the forest…they deck it with silver and gold…” Jeremiah 10:2-5

[8] Wednesday comes from the Old English Wōdnesdæg, the day of the Germanic god Wodan (aka Odin, highest god in Norse mythology and a big cheese god of the Anglo-Saxons until the seventh century.)

[9] The Julian calendar, adopted by Julius Caesar ~ 46 B.C.E., was off by 11 min/year, and when the Gregorian calendar was established by Pope – wait for it – Gregory,  the solstice was established on 12/22.

[10] The Winter Solstice and the Origins of Christmas, Lee Carter.

[11] In 601 A.D., Pope Gregory I issued a now famous edict to his missionaries regarding wooing potential converts: don’t banish peoples’ customs, incorporate them. If the locals venerate a tree, don’t cut it down; rather, consecrate the tree to JC and allow its continued worship.

[12] And nothing in the various conflicting biblical references to the birth of JC has the nativity occurring in wintertime.

The Genre I’m Not Reading

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Department Of One Of My Favorite Questions To Ask
(of anyone, about moiself  )

“Do I have a bit of chocolate stuck between my teeth?”

 

She’d be happier if it were a piece of Lindt 85%  instead of spinach.

 

*   *   *

Department Of Getting Really, Really Genre Specific
Sub-Department Of Who’d A Thunk It?

After a three-year, self-imposed sabbatical from the business side of What I Do ®  [1]  I’ve been doing some research into the state of literary publishing   Research as in, getting (re)acquainted with who (as in publishing companies, large and small) is out there and what they want and/or specialize in.

When I started this task, I was wondering if things are just as bad as when I said *ick* and walked away.  The answer: Yep (as in, duh), and even more so.

However, I am discovering hidden   [2]  gems that make this task worthwhile.  Such as, this list, from the writers guidelines posted on the website of a particular publishing house, for a particular editor’s areas of interest rearding manuscripts she wishes to review (my emphases ):

“….contemporary romance, women’s contemporary fiction, historical fiction, gay fiction, dark suspense and thrillers, Amish romance.…”

Holy bodice ripper! There’s more than one editor with that unusually specific, uh, specification:

“80,000-word contemporary romance—either sexy or sweet, Amish and inspirational romance, women’s fiction….”

“Amish romance” as a genre. This is news to moiself – and, perhaps, only to moiself ? Did y’all know about this and if so, why did you keep it to y’all selves?

I can’t imagine the market for Amish Romance © is substantial for actual Amish readers, whom (ya think) would be forbidden from tainting themselves with such “English”    [3]  depravity.  Amish romance as a genre must be for the lurkers.  The kind who…you know…like to watch.  Or read. 

 

 

I’m not a genre writer, nor reader. I have read books that would fit such classifications (e.g. a Zane Grey western or two; some Agatha Christie mysteries, four or five Star Trek “novels” ). Without knowing much about the genre – except that there are, apparently, far more sub-genres than I would have imagined – “romance” is the least interesting genre to moiself …up until now.

I find moiself  wanting to at least skim through the pages of something that would qualify as an Amish Romance.  I’m trying to imagine the content of such: the exchange of furtive glances over the milking stool; sly winks by the well after the quilting bee; coy lasses who offering their luscious berries for perusal during the barn raising….

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of  Next Tuesday, Y’all Know What To Do

 

 

*   *   *

Speaking of the election, and what with the approaching holiday season….

Department Of How To Get Dis-Invited To Extended Family Gatherings

It’s easy! First, post something like this on your Facebook page:

I have family members, who are religious, who are likely voting for #45.

Because tR*** says the magic words conservative Christians want to hear about two key issues for them: taxes and abortion – and he of course *lies* to his supporters about this (he was pro-choice until he planned his presidential run as a Republican, as documented here and other places: https://qz.com/…/trump-shifted-from-pro-choice-to-pro-life…/), they are apparently willing to ignore/overlook/excuse all the rest?

This saddens me in ways I cannot express…so I’ll post it here, and never get invited to extended family Thanksgiving dinners again. 

Then, add a link to McSweeneys’ A catalog of Trump’s worst cruelties, collusions, corruptions, and crimes.

 Any questions?

 

 

” Restrict/criminalize abortion!  Lower taxes! “

Lather; rinse; repeat, and conservative evangelicals will lick your otherwise faith-mocking, narcissistic, heathen patootie.   [4]

It is interesting to moiself – and by “interesting” I mean, repulsive – that so many Christians are willing to overlook a politician’s flagrant, repeated, unapologetic violations of *their* scripture’s advice on issues which, if you take their scriptures as true and literal accounts of their god’s messages to them (and most conservative Christians do), were of primary importance to Jesus:

* caring for the sick, poor, imprisoned, and vulnerable

* treating others as you wish to be treated

* giving your possessions, even clothing, to those who have none

… and instead support this same lying adulterous racist misogynist politician who spouts the rhetoric they want to hear about abortion, an issue about which Jesus never spoke, despite abortion being known and practiced since ancient times. Yep, as long as humans have been pregnant/getting each other pregnant, they have found ways of intentionally ending unwanted pregnancies.

The practice of abortion—the termination of a pregnancy—has been known since ancient history. Various methods have been used to perform or attempt an abortion, including the administration of abortifacient herbs, the use of sharpened implements, the application of abdominal pressure, and other techniques….
Many of the methods employed in early cultures were non-surgical. Physical activities such as: strenuous labor, climbing, paddling, weightlifting, or diving were a common technique. Others included the use of irritant leaves, fasting, bloodletting, pouring hot water onto the abdomen, and lying on a heated coconut shell. In virtually all cultures, abortion techniques developed through observation, adaptation of obstetrical methods, and transculturation.

(excerpts from the Wikipedia article, History of Abortion)

“The Bible never once specifically forbids abortions; it’s actually quite the contrary! Not only were methods of abortion well-known at the time, there’s times when the Bible states God commands that one take place. I’m going to walk through a few examples as illustrations.
* In Genesis 38, we have the story of Tamar
* Hosea: Progeny of the Rebellious Shall Not be Born
(Hosea 9:14:  God will cause the deaths of the unborn, as he will “give them a miscarrying womb and dry breasts.” Hosea 13:16: “Samaria shall become desolate; for she hath rebelled against her God: they shall fall by the sword: their infants shall be dashed in pieces, and their women with child shall be ripped up.”)
* Sotah: Abortion-Inducing Potion due to Husband’s Jealousy  [5]

(In Numbers 5, instructions are given by God to Moses regarding situations where a husband is fiercely jealous of his wife: his wife should be made to take a drink that will cause an abortion if she slept with another man…regardless of whose child it is).
* Causing a Miscarriage: Mere Property Loss
(The Bible didn’t treat miscarriage as murder, regardless of intent. Rather, it was treated as a property loss by the father, punishable by whatever fine the judges felt was appropriate. This is spelled out in Exodus 21:22-25  )
(excerpts from Biblical Abortion: A Christian’s View)

 

 

As for taxes, Jesus is quoted as advising tax collectors to do their job honestly.  He is mentioned/quoted about twice in personal stories about taxes, both times advising that people pay the taxes they owe. He had plenty to say about people who strive for and value the accumulation of wealth, and none of it was positive.

In the New Testament, Jesus offers more wisdom and has more to say about money than any other subject besides the “Kingdom of God.” I remember when I first heard a pastor proclaim from the pulpit that Jesus said more about money than he did about love. To be honest, I was a little angry. There was no way that was true, I thought to myself. I’ve grown up hearing that “God is love,” but now I find out He may care more about my checkbook than my heart?
Sure enough, after doing a bit of research on this subject as well, I discovered that the pastor was right: Jesus talked more about money than he did Heaven and Hell combined. Eleven of the 39 parables He tells are about finances.
( “Jesus Talked the Most about…Money? “)

 

“Gotcha on that one, eh bro?”

 

Jesus presented the desire to accumulate riches as both an offense to faith and an obstacle to faith.  This is something “prosperity Christians” find easy to ignore, by concentrating on other issues they think don’t apply to themselves (like homosexuality and abortion, both of which existed in biblical times and yet were not condemned, nor even spoken of, by Jesus).

Some of Jesus’ better-known quotes on the subject of money include:

* “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6)

* Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!” The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” (Mark 10:23–25)

* “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” ( Luke 16:13)

* “Whoever has two tunics should share with him who has none, and whoever has food should do the same.” (Luke 3)

Every so often when discussing the prosperity gospel, I hear proponents say, “But surely God doesn’t want us to be poor, does he?” ….People who say such things ignore the many Bible passages addressing wealth…
They also choose to ignore the many biblical passages warning against the detrimental effects of wealth—and especially love for wealth. You don’t hear prosperity preachers mention such verses. It’s as if their Bibles are missing them.

(from “Bible Verses Prosperity Preachers Wish Didn’t Exist“)

Jesus did not oppose the payment of taxes. In fact, Jesus paid taxes.
In Matthew 22:15-22, the Pharisees ask Jesus, “Tell us … is it against our law to pay taxes to the Roman Emperor or not?” Jesus responds, “Why are you trying to trap me? Show me the coin for paying the tax!” They brought him the coin and he asks them, “Whose face and name are these?” “The Emperor’s,” they answer. So Jesus says to them, “Well, then, pay to the Emperor what belongs to the Emperor, and pay to God what belongs to God.”
 Matthew 17: 24-27 relates the story of a group of tax collectors asking Peter, “Does your teacher pay the … tax?” Peter’s answer, “Of course,” is followed by Jesus instructing Peter as follows: “… go to the lake and drop in a line. Pull up the first fish you hook, and in its mouth you will find a coin worth enough for my tax and yours. Take it and pay them our taxes.”
 Romans 13:6-7: Paul explains, “That is also why you pay taxes, because the authorities are working for God when they fulfill their duties. Pay, then, what you owe them; pay your personal and property taxes, and show respect and honor for them all.”
( excerpts from “What does the Bible say about taxes?
By Ken Milani, professor of accountancy at the University of Notre Dame, and Claude Renshaw, emeritus professor of business administration at Saint Mary’s College.
Both men are Christians.)

 

“Got that? And keep your noses out of women’s and LGBTQ folk’s business!”

 

*   *   *

Pun For The Day

A cheese factory exploded in Paris – onlookers were showered with de Brie!

 

*   *   *

May you not feel the need to consult Iron Age manuscripts for 21st century personal or financial guidance;
May you imagine your own Amish romance;
May we all get chocolate stuck in our teeth;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  AND GET OUT THERE AND VOTE !!

Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

[1] For a variety of reasons, some discussed in this space, mostly summed up by my disdain for what is happening in that business:  ICK.

[2] At least, heretofore, from moiself.

[3] The Amish refer to the non-Amish as English.

[4] ” Trump Secretly Mocks His Christian Supporters: Former aides say that in private, the president has spoken with cynicism and contempt about believers.”  The Atlantic, 9-20-20; “…half of U.S. adults either say they’re not sure what Trump’s religion is (34%) or that he has no religion (16%), while just 33% say he’s Protestant.” Most Americans don’t see Trump as religious; fewer than half say they think he’s Christian, Pew research Center, 3-29-30   And Americans overall don’t think Trump is particularly religious: A majority say Trump is “not too” (23%) or “not at all” (40%) religious… “

[5] Sotah is an old Hebrew term for a woman accused of adultery.

The Masks I’m Not Not-Wearing

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Department Of Before We Go Any Further

Check out the “Introducing: Resistance” podcast, hosted by the Reply All podcast.

And by check out, moiself  means put down what you’re doing and listen to it, right now.  Okay; maybe take a pee break first, if you need to (it runs a wee bit – sorry – less than 45m).

It starts out with a gabby, somewhat potty-mouth banter   [1]  between the Reply All host and Resistance podcast producer, the latter who has spent the past year following Warriors in the Garden, a New York City, youth-led activist collection. The story itself is an absolutely chilling account of head-scratching, mind-boggling, Orwellian-level abuse of authority. That the subject of the incident, Derrick Ingram, made it out alive (I don’t wanna give anything away, but I don’t want to scare you off from listening, either) is amazing.

It’s a prime example of “This is why people are protesting and this is *what* they are protesting,” especially for anyone who wonders what the fuss is about.

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of This Guy Is So Observant – He Should Have His Own Blog   [2]

Dateline: last Saturday, breakfast table. MH, reading the previous day’s New York Times, says to moiself , “This headline makes no sense.”  The headline in question came from the article, Inspired by Trump, Hasidic Backlash Grows Over Virus Rules; it was actually the sub-headline which he found bemusing:

Orthodox Jewish leaders have seen a growing, raucous faction of young men in the community, tired of pandemic guidelines and resentful of the secular authorities.

“Hasids, tired of guidelines and resentful of authority?” MH shook his head.

That’s, *secular* authority, moiself  reminded him.  I, too, found the concept ironic, as in, Hello?!  Do y’all know we can hear you when you talk?!  ridiculous.

Unquestioning compliance with rules and guidelines and adherence to authority is what the Hasidic lifestyle – what any orthodox religious life – is all about.  Using the pretext of obedience to their god’s will, the insular Hasidic communities follow rules and regs about what and when they may eat, where they can and cannot live, what language they speak, what clothing they can and cannot and must wear – like the Shtreimel, the bizarre traditional fur hat a Hasidic man dons for religious holidays and festive occasions and those times when a guy just feels like balancing a dead gopher on his head – what they can do for a living, who and when they marry, even when a married couple can and cannot have sex – every aspect of their lives….

But health guidelines meant to protect *every* community from a deadly infectious disease?  Dude, that’s asking too much.

 

“Wear a mask? Oy, that would make us look ludicrous.”

 

*   *   *

Department Of Have I Mentioned Before How Serious I Am About This?

What with the looming appointment of yet another antediluvian-minded wacko religious conservative nominee to SCOTUS, the subject of attempts to overturn Roe v. Wade is once again up for social media debate.  I like this guy’s pithy phrasing of the reality that some folk still don’t seem to understand, even as many of us – men and women, religious and secular, even a Mormon mother of six – have pointed out that all pregnancies are caused by male ejaculations:

 

 

There are, of course, reasons for abortion that do not stem from unplanned/unwanted pregnancies and therefore would not be prevented by preventing irresponsible ejaculations.  If you’ve ever known a couple  [3]   who’s had to terminate a much-wanted pregnancy due to medical reasons you’ve had a glimpse at the pain involved…and if you think that no one you know has ever been in that situation, as a wise friend said recently, “If you don’t know someone who has had an abortion, it just means you’re the kind of person they wouldn’t tell.”

What with the upcoming election, the ongoing pandemic, the stresses and pressures all of us are dealing with, I often despair at the divisiveness of our political and personal discourse. That said, I’m still going to draw my own dividing line.  If you don’t understand this point – if you are a man who favors regulating the bodily autonomy of women but not men (and if you’re a woman with the same opinions, WTF is wrong with you?) and are not willing to just MYOFB on this issue, please, stay away from me, stay away from my husband, my family, my pets, my car, lawn, my recycling bin, my pear tree….

Side note that shouldn’t be a side note, but a main talking point:
I’ve witnessed plenty of women being asked if they’d ever had an abortion, but have yet to see a man asked if he’s ever been the *cause* of an abortion.

 

 

Let’s change that, shall we?

 

*   *   *

Department Of For Those Who Wonder What Is The Concept Of Bodily Autonomy
Sub-Department of And For The Rest Of Us Who Think That Women Should Have As Much Or More Bodily Autonomy Than A Corpse

 

 

*   *   *

 

Different as in, lightening up the subject matter.  It’s time to giggle.

*   *   *

Department Of The Following Joke Is Courtesy Of Sigourney Weaver  

Yeah, we’re best buds, didn’t you know?  She calls me up to share her latest jokes.  The Sigster is quite the gagster, which surprises some people who primarily think of her as a flamethrower-wielding, saving-the-world-from aliens, warrior woman.   This jest of hers had me in fits of pig-snorting laughter.   [4]

 

My doctor told me I have to stop masturbating.  I asked, “Why?”
She said, “Because I’m trying to examine you.”

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Trying To Be A Good Citizen….

Even as I don’t like wearing a mask, I always do when I go out. But they are a problem for me; it seems like I bought about 15 different kinds, trying to get a good fit, but no matter what the style they don’t want to stay around my ears and are always popping off.

Do you remember the “earlobes” lesson?  Maybe they don’t use that example in school anymore, but both MH and I remember that, when we were in our high school science classes, two basic human traits were used to introduce students to concepts in genetics: eye color, and earlobe shape.

 

 

If earlobes hang free, they are detached. If they connect directly to the sides of the head, they are attached.  Free/unattached is the dominant trait. Scientists used to think this trait was controlled by a single gene; thus, it was a good illustrative introduction to genetics, with students having fun comparing earlobes, and going home and doing the same with their parents and siblings. Nowadays, geneticists think it is likely that several genes contribute to this trait.

MH said that my attached earlobes make it difficult for the mask strings to get a good hold.  I’d completely forgotten that moiself  has attached earlobes, until MH was helping me with a stubborn mask, and pointed that out.  I had to pout for a moment.

I  HAVE A GENETIC DISABILITY.

I WANT MY OWN PARKING SPACE, DAMMIT.

*   *   *

Pun For The Day

Never trust atoms – they make up everything.

 

“I swear, one more bad science pun and….”

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Just Thinkin’

On my early morning walks, I listen to podcasts. When a podcast ends, depending on its length/how many minutes I have before I return home, moiself  either tunes in to another podcast or switches to some music.

I’ve noticed that I walk faster, with the proverbial spring in my step, when music is coming through my earbuds.  Occasionally I wonder if someone walking behind or towards moiself  would notice the difference:

“Look at her – The Fresh Air interview must have ended and now she’s listening to The Go-Gos….”

 

 

Who could resist bopping to that?

*   *   *

Department Of Th-Th-Th-That’s All, Folks

Among the many observations of #45 which are supposed to be character- revealing is the fact that he is the first president since James Polk (over 170 years ago!) who has not kept a pet while in the White House.

Not true, sez moiself . What about his lap dog, William Barr?

 

*   *   *

 

May you have more bodily autonomy than a corpse;
May you take pity (but not patronizingly so) on we recessive freaks of nature
who have attached earlobes;
May you remember that, when it comes to boppin’ out to The Go-Gos, resistance is futile;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

[1] But why the fuck would anyone who reads this blog object to that shit?

[2] Or, at least he should get mentioned in several footnotes.

[3] Or you yourself have been part of that couple.

[4] Okay, so I actually saw this on a NY Times link to famous people telling jokes…but I want Sigourney to know I would be a good audience for her humor, and we should hang out, some time soon.  Unless she has a problem with PWAE (People With Attached Earlobes).

The Good Old Days I’m Not Remembering

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Department Of The Joke I Wish Was Not So Spot-On Descriptive

Q. How many Republicans does it take to change a light bulb?
A. None; #45 just says it’s been changed and the rest of them sit in the dark and applaud.

 

*   *   *

Department Of The Good Old Days Are More Old Than Good

Why is nostalgia like grammar?
We find the present tense and the past perfect.   [1]

Thanks to the podcast Curiosity Daily, moiself  has learned that there is a classification for the nostalgic lens with which my mother viewed the stories of her childhood. In the podcast’s August 13 episode, one of the topics was nostalgia.

Nostalgia is a sentimentality for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations…..
Nostalgia’s definition has changed greatly over time. Consistent with its Greek word roots meaning “homecoming” and “pain,” nostalgia was for centuries considered a potentially debilitating and sometimes fatal medical condition expressing extreme homesickness. The modern view is that nostalgia is an independent, and even positive, emotion that many people experience often. Occasional nostalgia has been found to have many functions, such as to improve mood, increase social connectedness, enhance positive self-regard, and provide existential meaning.
( excerpts from Wikipedia entry on nostalgia )

Specifically, the podcast focused on the fact that the folks who study such things (nostal-geologists, as I like to think of them) have classified nostalgia into two types: restorative versus reflective nostalgia.

Restorative nostalgia is when you feel like things used to be better in the past, and you long to relive or even reconstruct the way (you think) that things were.  Reflective nostalgia involves recognizing your wistful feelings about how things used to be, and admitting you sometimes long for the old days even as you accept the fact that the past is past and that your perceptions of that past are probably biased.

 

 

I had an immediate, visceral reaction to hearing the names and descriptions of the two types of nostalgia;  Moiself  felt like I’d won a jackpot of sorts, in having a spot-on term for the kind of “looking back” my mother preferred to do.

My mother was quite willing to share her stories of growing up in the small northern Minnesota town of Cass Lake.  I frequently asked my parents about their childhoods, as I found their stories entertaining, fascinating, and ultimately revealing (even as I later found out about all of the concealing that was going on).  My father was the more skillful storyteller, both in the entertaining way he presented his stories and, as my siblings and I discovered in our adulthood, in his deftness at deflecting or avoiding talking about certain times of his life.    [2]   But this space, today, is for my mother’s restorative nostalgia.

As a child I’d observed that adults had this thing for “the good old days.” Although my mother didn’t present her stories with that introduction, the forthright manner in which she presented How Things Were Back Then ® made me astonished by the idea that anyone would pine for the olden days.

Restorative nostalgia: even as that kind of rose-colored-glasses/longing for the past is understandable, I’ve come to believe that it is ultimately not helpful, and can even be damaging.  Besides being unreal – you can’t and go back and make things the way they were – restorative nostalgia is, or should be, undesirable, for any rational person. When I have met people who really and truly seem to wish for “the way things were,” I sometimes want to bitch slap them into reality…

 

 

…and ask them, Have you fully considered the totality of that “safe space” you think you long for…and would you be willing to take everything else that came with it?

Those “simpler times” for which many people wax nostalgic included the not-so-simple realities of massive (and oft-times life-threatening) racial, gender, and sexual orientation repression and discrimination.

“Wait a minute, Mom – I remember you telling me…”  became my unintentional mantra, when it came to listening to my mother’s restorative nostalgia.  And after I had pointed out what, in my opinion, needed pointing out, she would respond with a somewhat conciliatory, “Oh yes, well, there was that….”

One day when I was visiting my parents back during the first Gulf War, I brought up the subject of current events.  My mother began telling me about how she found herself “pining for” the days of World War II, aka, “The Good War.”

Uh….Mom…those were days when the WORLD was at WAR.

“Oh yes, well, there was that… but, she continued, everyone knew each other in the town, and they all pulled together, and there was a feeling of solidarity….

I tried to validate that for her, then gently asked her if the pulling-together part made up for that awful day when the news came about the small town’s Bright Shining Hope:  the Cass Lake High School star athlete and recent graduate, beloved by all and engaged to a local girl, was killed in combat in Europe. The news devastated the town.  And didn’t she remember telling me about how horrible it was when the “telegraph truck” drove down Main Street, and when people saw it coming they ran into their houses, as if they could hide from the bad news, as if their shut doors would mean that the notice of a husband/brother/son/cousin who was KIA or MIA or wounded would pass on to another family….  And didn’t she remember telling me how “sick to death” she was by the adults who used the war to excuse their incompetence and blunders that had nothing to do with wartime circumstances, but if you tried to bring it to their attention or ask them to correct their mistakes, they’d sneer at you and say, “Don’t you know there’s a war on?!” and you’d be accused of being unpatriotic if you said anything after that?

 

 

“Oh yes, well, there was that….”  But things were “simpler” back then, in the old town/small town days, she declared. 

Well, maybe, I said…but “simple” doesn’t always equate to better, or even good.  And it seems far from simple – it seems complicated, even frightening, to me – to ponder much of what people had to navigate back then.

What would that be, she wondered?  She said she liked to remember the simple days, like the time when she and a friend walked back to their respective homes late one night after a school activity – they thought nothing of walking home after dark because they were safe from danger in a small town, and she’s thought of that over the years, when she couldn’t sleep until her own school-age children were home because she worried about us being out after dark….

“But wait a minute, Mom….”   you had so many dangers back then that we don’t have now. Maybe you felt safe walking home at dark, but I remember the rest of that story you told me:  the very next morning, when you went to your friend’s house to walk with her to school like you did on every school day, you saw the frightening QUARANTINE! sign on her front door.  Your friend had been stricken – overnight, seemingly out of nowhere – with polio and was being kept alive by an iron lung, and your parents were almost frantic with fear, thinking you might also be infected.   And over the years I’ve heard about children in your small town who were crippled, even blinded and deafened, by diseases for which we now have vaccines and/or cures….

 

Quarantine sign, Polio. 2005.3080.07.

 

“Oh yes, well, there was that….”  But still, she insisted, people were friendlier back then. They pulled together, and put aside their differences to cooperate as equals – being a good citizen meant something, back then.

“But wait a minute, Mom…. The “everyone pulling together” did not, in fact, include everyone.  Some citizens were more equal than others.  Don’t you remember telling me about “the Indian kids,” who were required by law to go to public school until age 13, after which they all dropped out, and how they all sat in the back of the class and the teachers rarely spoke to them and they never spoke in class?  You said, when I asked about their tribal affiliation, that you thought there were “at least two kinds of them,”    [3]  but you didn’t know what the “kinds” were – none of the whites did, because they weren’t interested and didn’t bother to find out, even though all the whites in town knew who was Norwegian-American and who was German- or Swedish-American…and that sometimes you felt bad for the Indians because you knew they had gone from being the majority to a minority in their own land….

And you told me about a high school girl who befriended the son of the only Chinese family in town – a family that had to constantly remind everyone during “The Good War” that they were Chinese, not Japanese – but this girl’s parents forced her to stop even speaking with him because they were horrified by the idea that their daughter might want to date “an Oriental”…. and when that Chinese family opened a grocery store because they couldn’t shop at the other stores in town during regular hours   [4]  no one patronized their store, and they were unable to make a living and moved to another town….

 

 

“Oh yes, well, there was that….”   Still, it was so much fun, the carefree high school days, she said, asking me if I remembered her telling me how she got to be lead saxophone player in the marching band (in such a small school in such a small town, if you played an instrument, you got to be in the band) and was valedictorian of her high school?  You know, back then, the teachers knew all the students and their families; they took a personal interest in their students, and everyone was so nice….

“But wait a minute, Mom…. What about the fact that your mother had to call the school principal and fight to get you into the physics class, because the physics teacher refused to “waste my time teaching science to girls”?  And then, after the principal forced the teacher to accept the two top students in Cass Lake High School – two girls, you and your best friend, Dorothy K – into his class, the teacher refused to speak to you or call on you when you raised your hand, and said openly to you and Dorothy on the first day of class that although it was against his will he’d been ordered to allow them in his classroom, and he grudgingly agreed to teach Dorothy because, “It’s obvious that she will have to work for a living.”

 

 

“Oh yes, well, there was that….”

Then, without a modicum of introspection or self-awareness, my mother said, “Oh well, it turned out I never found physics to be very interesting….”

Well, of course not – why would you have?!?!?!  You were actively discouraged from being interested in it! The teacher paid no attention to you – he didn’t care if you learned anything. He had to give you an A because you read the required materials, aced all of the tests, and all the other students knew you had the top grade in the class.

And what about the way your best friend, Dorothy K, was treated?  Because she was “disfigured” – a botched forceps delivery damaged her facial muscles, causing the right side of her face to droop, as if she’d had a stroke – Dorothy was raised to accept the “fact” that because she lacked the most important feminine asset – a pleasing face – no man would ever want to date, much less marry her, and that she would need to make her own way in the world…in a world where the same men who would not consider her romantic partner material were also predisposed to not consider her their intellectual or professional equal….

“Oh yes, well, there was that….” 

And that job you had, after your junior college graduation: you worked as a secretary at the post office, and you said it drove you nuts, how the clerk was so incompetent and you often ended up doing his duties (but of course you didn’t get paid for doing so), and you knew you could do the job better but when you asked the manager you were told that, as a woman, you weren’t eligible to even apply for such a position…and how you were saving up your money to buy a car, but as soon as you were married you had to quit your job, because a married woman couldn’t work at the post office….

“Oh yes, well, there was that….”

and that…and that…and that…and that….

The incidents – read: life – my mother told me about…how do I explain this?  She never told those stories as examples of hardship or discrimination.  She presented them matter-of-factly, and often seemed to be befuddled by how gob-smacked I was to hear them.  To her, that was just the way things were; I heard the between-the-lines details – hardship and fear, racism and discrimination – that didn’t even, technically, require me to read between the lines, as they were, to me, glaringly overt…even as those details were, to her, not the point of her stories.

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Dorothy Is Not In Kansas Anymore

I met my mother’s friend, the afore-mentioned, legendary (to moiself ), Dorothy K, only once.  I was in college, home for a visit, and my mother excitedly told me that her friend Dorothy was returning to the States after her latest overseas trip, and had arranged to take a flight to LAX. My parents picked up Dorothy at the airport and brought her to their house, where she stayed overnight until she caught a flight back to her home.    [5]  

I was somewhat enthralled with the idea of Dorothy: over the years, I’d heard about how she was a chemist, made good money, and spent her free time travelling around the world.  When I finally met her I remember thinking how attractive I found her to be – she had “good bones,” and I couldn’t help but wonder how her life would have been, sans that incompetent doctor forceps mishap.

Part of my enthrallment came via comparing her life to my mom’s.  Moiself  (ungraciously, I know) saw my mother as a staid homemaker, someone who worked all day but never got paid and who had never been anywhere except for Cass Lake and Santa Ana. And here is her friend, with a career in science, who travels the globe….

I later thought of the ironies of Dorothy’s life, including the fact that the characteristic which made her “damaged goods” in the eyes of her culture is also what allowed her to go to college and work in fields that were closed to women in that time.  Her disfigurement essentially neutered her in the eyes of males; thus, she presented no threat of “distraction” (i.e., of them being sexually attracted to her).  Although I’ve little doubt that she faced discrimination (she shared a few stories with me, about always being the only woman in her department), it was as if she were a third gender: since men didn’t see her as a woman she was less of a threat to male colleagues, in terms of them having to consider that they were being equaled, or even bested, by a woman.

My mother (privately, years after Dorothy’s visit) admitted to me that she sometimes wondered what it would like to be Dorothy, whom she saw as independent and carefree.  And I wondered, is that how Dorothy saw herself?  Considering the culture she was raised in, instead of fully embracing her life – her career and the intellect she was allowed to develop – did she ever compare herself to, say, my mother?  Did she in any way envy my mother for having a husband and children – for having the life Dorothy was told would not be possible for her, even as it was the only/ultimate/proper life to which a girl was supposed to aspire? Or, did she look at my mother’s life and find it…tedious, and limited?

Such questions haunt me, whenever I think of Dorothy.  I wish I could ask her, but she died several years before my mother did. I can only hope that whatever nostalgia Dorothy dabbled in, that it was reflective, and brought her satisfaction.

 

 

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Pun For The Day

You know what seems odd to me?
Numbers that aren’t divisible by two.

 

 

And I also vote for more nerd puns in this space.

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May your nostalgia be reflective;
May you live in the present with your eyes open;  [6]

May you change the damn lightbulb when it needs changing;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

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[1] Couldn’t find attribution for this old pun.

[2] In last week’s post, I mentioned a few of them. My father died not knowing his adult children had found just how poor (and dysfunctional) his family was, and that he’d never graduated (nor even attended) high school because his father forced all his children to drop out of school at age 13. And when I found this out, some missing pieces fell into place; I realized that all the stories Dad had told about his youth, to his children, were carefully told to hide those details.  For example, we’d made assumptions that the job he talked about having “after school” was part-time, when in fact he was working fulltime, when his peers were in school, and we never put the pieces together to realize that the school stories he’d shared were all pre-high school….

[3] The Minnesota Chippewa Tribe and the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe were “two kinds” of indigenous tribes which had settled in the Cass Lake area, centuries before Europeans arrived.

[4] One grocer let the Chinese family shop at his store early, before regular hours, so that the other (white) families wouldn’t see them.

[5] …to wherever that was for her.  I cannot remember; it was in some larger city.  She’d left Cass Lake to go to college, and only returned to that small town to visit her parents, who remained there until their deaths.

[6] Even when it too often involves holding your nose (think: #45 and his primeval toadies) and wishing for a fast track time machine to the future

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