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The Superhero Unmentionables I’m Not Wearing

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Department Of Theme Songs Previously Unheard…

Until now, that is.

Thanks to a radio station I frequently listen to when I’m driving – a station which treats the ears with old advertising jingles and televisions theme songs as well as “oldies – I recently heard part of the “Wonder Woman” theme song for the first time.

That show was on during the no-TV years for me. I never watched it, nor even knew it had a theme song with lyrics.  As soon as I returned home I had to search the web and check the lyrics, to make sure I was hearing what I thought I was hearing:

Wonder Woman, Wonder Woman/All the world’s waiting for you,
and the power you possess.
In your satin tights/Fighting for your rights….

 

 

REALLY

 

 

 

Really.

In your satin tights/Fighting for your rights….

Ahhhhhh, yes. Perhaps I have inadvertently stumbled upon an explanation for just one of the many, many reasons why both my lifelong quest for superhero status and civil rights have fallen short of my dreams:

no satin tights.

Now I can’t help but think of alternative verses commending the magical underwear of superheroes:

☼  In your lingerie/Showing us the way….

☼  In your undergarments/Chasing evil varmints….

☼  In your silken thong/Righting all that’s wrong….

In your tighty whitey/Looking fierce and mighty….

☼  In your boxer shorts/ Rescuing cohorts….

☼  In your granny pants/Evil has no chance….

☼  In your woolen bloomers/Saving Baby Boomers….

☼  In your BVDs/Fighting Killer Bees….

☼  In your magic drawers/cleansing zit-clogged pores….

☼  In your skanky skivvies/.…

Feel free to stop me anytime.

*   *   *

Content warning:

SOAPBOX

 

Department Of How To Do More Than Just Gripe

…. meat production funnels far more resources through animals than it gets out of them…. even the most efficient sources of meat convert only ~ 11% of feed energy into human food.
And to grow all that animal feed, the industry is constantly converting more native lands to agricultural operations—burning and clear-cutting the Amazon and other forests to make way for feed fields. Today, a whopping 30% of Earth’s landmass goes to meat, dairy, and egg production, according to the United Nations. As the UN also reports, livestock production causes “an even larger contribution” to climate change “than the transportation sector worldwide.” That’s right: Factory farmed animals contribute more to climate change than all the world’s cars, trucks, planes, trains and ships combined.
(Fortune, “How Your Diet Can Save the Planet,” )

Governments of the Most Powerful and Influential Nations ® , especially ours, are doing little to nothing when it comes to initiating effective solutions to combat climate change. We need a global Marshall Plan devoted to such. Absent that, it is easy for individuals to become cynical and think that our ordinary, Best Efforts ®  (I wash and reuse my plastic ziplock bags!) mean diddly-squat.  But… and this is a big but…

 

 

bigbutt

Even bigger than this, if you can imagine.

 

 

…. there is something every individual can do that will make a difference:

Switch to a plant-based diet.

The human population has reached 7.6 billion and could number 9 billion or 10 billion by midcentury. All those people will need to eat. A sobering report published in the journal Nature argues that a sustainable food system that doesn’t ravage the environment is going to require dramatic reforms, including a radical change in dietary habits.
To be specific: Cheeseburgers are out, and fruits and veggies are in.
The 23 authors of the report, hailing from Europe, the United States, Australia and Lebanon, reviewed the many moving parts of the global food system and how they interact with the environment. The authors concluded that the current methods of producing, distributing and consuming food aren’t environmentally sustainable and that damage to the planet could make it less hospitable for human existence.
A core message from the researchers is that efforts to keep climate change at an acceptable level won’t be successful without a huge reduction in meat consumption.
(“Earth’s population is skyrocketing. How do you feed 10 billion people sustainably?” Washington Post)

uncle sam

…to eat your veggies!

 

Despite your best intentions, a weekly Meatless Monday or Steak-less Saturday ain’t gonna cut it. The numbers have been crunched: our patterns of producing, distributing and consuming foods – specifically, animals and animal products – are not sustainable.

New research shows moving away from animal protein towards legumes makes sense nutritionally and environmentally.
… A substantial amount of (greenhouse gas emissions, which exacerbate climate change emissions) comes from livestock farming with the production of the gas, methane….
switching diets towards plants as sources of protein as opposed to meat, is much more sustainable….plant protein sources (have) the lowest environmental production cost, while at the same time demonstrate the highest density of nutrients. “Peas have a nutrient density to environmental footprint ratio approximately five times higher than equivalent amounts of lamb, pork, beef or chicken.”
(“A switch to plant-based protein could help tackle climate change and hunger,”
Science X Network”)

You care about climate change and environmental degradation, don’t you?  [1]  You can do something. Not only about The Planet ®, but about yourself, as well.  If this concept (plant-based nutrition) is new to you, you’re in for a treat. You’ll discover a tasty, healthier way of fueling your body, as opposed to the SAD (Standard American Diet) you’ve likely been following.   [2] And despite the food-as-entertainment and eating-as-sport mindset our industrialized food culture has spawned, our intake of food is ultimately and primarily to provide fuel for our bodies.

If physicians know of a treatment that could prevent and reverse disease, then it seems like that treatment should be the first-line method of care prescribed to patients. Researchers at Kaiser Permanente, one of the largest managed care organizations in the country, found that there is, in fact, such a treatment. In their official materials, they now advise the 17,000+ physicians in their network to recommend the most powerful, yet least-used prescription to their patients: a healthy, plant-based diet and active lifestyle.
(“Why the Nation’s Largest Health Plan Wants Its Doctors
to Recommend a Plant-Based Diet”, Wellness)

Talk to someone who’s made the switch.  Yeah, you’ve fallen for all the advertising that makes it seem cool to brag about adding bacon to every meal, but your body and mind….

 

 

wilbur

…and Wilbur….

 

 

will thank you for wising up.  [3]  

You’ll also, hopefully, derive some satisfaction for not personally contributing to the myriad of environmental degradations caused by industrial meat production, which includes the lagoons of pig shit which overflow after hurricanes and other natural disasters…

 

 

lagoon

No palm trees to decorate these festering lagoons…are your Jimmy Dean sausage patties really worth it?

 

 

   [4] …and the totally preventable/unnatural disaster of the contamination of rural communities’ water supplies from manure and nitrates, which are the “natural” and unavoidable by-products of industrialized meat farming.

And no, if you change your eating habits and go plant-based, you don’t have to go around tossing buckets of blood on people who wear fur,  [5] or call yourself a vegan – or anything special, for that matter. Treat it like any other issue you care about and may, for example, disagree with a family member about. Your Uncle Anus takes every opportunity to crow about why he doesn’t “believe” in global warming; to keep the peace at Thanksgiving you might not counter his beliefs with the facts right there at the table, but you encourage him to do the research  [6]  and get back to you. Ditto, here.  Do the research. Then, be a responsible person and make the changes you can make,  [7]  rather than literally or figuratively sitting on your (expanding, animal products-fed) ass and pissing and moaning about why your government doesn’t ban all coal production or whatever.

 

 

 

turkeys

*   *   *

Department Of Ouch

Dateline: one week ago. I am on the phone with a Very Helpful Young Woman ® who is setting up an account for a new utility billing for MH and moiself. In order to establish credit and bill us, as opposed to requiring payment at time of service, she needs to run a brief credit check on moiself. The only info required is my name, last four digits of my SSN, my mother’s birthname, my date of birth, and occupation.  She goes down the list of questions, and when it gets to occupation, she says, “I assume you’re retired.”

Now, then. Ahem. We’re communicating by phone, so I’m guessing the VHYW made the assumption based on my birth date (which still, IMHO and experience, is a young date to retire). No one’s ever told me my voice sounds old, but maybe to her I sounded like this?

 

 

OLD

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department of Touchy Issues  [8]

I remember, at the beginning of the modern gay rights movement, how there were some vocal, disgruntled black Americans who complained, in a my-experience-of-prejudice-is-greater-than-yours kind of way, that with regards to discrimination (I’m paraphrasing here), “It’s harder to be black than gay, because you can’t hide that you’re black.”As in, people look at you and know your “race,” while homosexuals can “pass” or get by and no one will know unless you want them to.

 

 

flaming

Of course, it’s harder for some folks to pass than others.

 

 

I’ve been thinking about this issue – that of coming out, to family, friends, neighbors, co-workers – for many years now. On last week’s National Coming Out Day, I wondered if it would be appropriate to, say, on a Facebook post, encourage those of us who are religion-free (but unknown as such, to family and friends) to do the same, on that day?

I decided not to steal the fire, so to speak, from LGBTQ issues. Still, many of us who are religion-free (we People Of The Many Monikers ®, including, atheists, humanists, Freethinkers, Brights, Skeptics, et al) have long realized that we need to take a page from the LGBTQ’s civil rights playbook.  It is far too easy for us to “hide’ or to have our worldviews remain unknown, especially in the USA where prejudice against non-religious believers is common.

A 2013 Harris Poll…found that 23 percent of all Americans have forsaken religion altogether. A 2015 Pew Research Center poll reported that 34 to 36 percent of millennials (those born after 1980) are” nones” and corroborated the 23 percent figure, adding that this was a dramatic increase from 2007, when only 16 percent of Americans said they were affiliated with no religion...(The Rise of the Atheists,” Scientific American)

Despite the fact that there’s been a dramatic increase in the percentage of Americans who claim no religious affiliation, unless you are “out” the default assumption is that you hold (some kind of) religious beliefs.

It was only when LGBTQ people began to come out that the myths surrounding them began to be destroyed. It is easier to express or hold hateful (or just well-meaning but ignorant) opinions and beliefs about what “those people” think or do when those people remain unknown to you – you never have to confront your mutual humanity.

When you find out those homos or those godless commies include the person in the cubicle next to yours, your next door neighbor, your cousin, your mom’s favorite auntie, the man sitting across the dinner table or the woman who sits beside you in the pew every Sunday,   [9]   your opinions almost have to become enlightened…or at least, a bit more in touch with reality.

Wait a minute, I’ve always thought that gays are __ (insert favorite stereotype), but now I found out that cousin Andy is gay, and so is Susie in accounting and my best friend’s brother, and these people are all nice, intelligent, decent, hard-working and principled citizens — not the kind of people at all to cause tornadoes to hit Midwestern trailer parks….hmmm…maybew the 700 Club was wrong about that, and other things….

 

 

Ateed

 

*   *   *

 

May you come out, come out, wherever you are;
May you fight the cynicism and make the changes you can;
May you send me your list of superhero undergarment rhymes;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

[1] If not, stop reading this blog right now, slit your arteries open and dive heart-first into a vat of suet.

[2] Not that you’re a bad person, but we’ve all mostly been raised that way.

[3]  And if for whatever selfish personal reasons you continue to eat meat, climate concerns aside, you do know why you should not eat processed meats…don’t you?

[4] “Lagoons of Pig Waste Are Overflowing After Florence. Yes, That’s as Nasty as It Sounds,” NY Times.

[5] As fun as that might be…I mean, you can still do that, if you want (but I hope you don’t).

[6] This is an easy one to start with: (“Hidden Costs of Industrialized Agriculture“,
Union of Concerned Scientists)

[7] while you can still do so voluntarily and proactively, before all your “numbers” (BP, blood sugar, cholesterol & triglycerides, etc. ) skyrocket and you get your doctor’s ultimatum to go veggie.

[8] As if the whole “go plant-based!” screed wasn’t touchy enough.

[9] Yep, many religious non-believers (including MH, son K, daughter Belle, and moiself) continued to be active church members, for a variety of reasons and for various periods of time, after personally acknowledging that they do not hold religious beliefs.

The Ownership I’m Not Experiencing

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Happy Half Birthday to K

Yes, half-birthdays are a thing (at least in our family).

 

Eli In Leaves 1995

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of How Do You Say Wistful In Swedish?

MH and I bid a fond, happy-for-them-but-sad-for-us, Bon Voyage to our beloved and longtime “Swenadian” friends this week. The S family was one of the first families we met when we moved to this neighborhood, over 20 years ago. And now they have metaphorically set sail for the mother ship (the husband’s), Sweden.

After taking his company’s retire-or-get-fired [1]  offer this year, the Swedish-Canadian couple began planning to live their dream of returning to academia/research.  [2]  They sold their house in Hillsboro and are on their way to Sweden, and will reside in Gothenburg .

Their three now young adult children, of whom our son K and daughter Belle have so many fond memories, are all US citizens and are all (so far) content to remain in the USA; thus, there is an “anchor” to have our friends return stateside for visits. [3]  We also have their generous invitation to come across the pond and stay with them in Sweden. And so our wishes for them were Bon Voyage and best of luck – we didn’t have to truly bid them goodbye…even as my heart was aching, to lose the physical proximity of such good people.

Their daughter remarked on FB about how admiring and proud she was of her parents for taking on such a life adventure, and she hoped she would be doing something similar when she was 55.  Moiself, too, I thought, when I read her touching tribute. Similar (admittedly selfish) thoughts have added to the tug at my heart – where is my (post, ahem) age 55 adventure?  [4]  I’m sad to see good friends depart, yet happy for them as they pursue their dream…and also slightly envious of their willingness and ability to embark on their new venture.

Skål!

 

 

SegersNYE2005

How we will miss those classy family celebrations; e.g., the Swenadian Year of the Gummy Worm, aka New Year’s Eve 2005 (our son K [the only one sans eyeglasses] and daughter Belle(second row, middle) nd Belle with the S family’s children)

*   *   *

Department Of It’s So Much More Than That

“We hope you are enjoying your ownership experience with your Outback.”

So began the email I received last Sunday. After expressing their wish for my satisfaction, the good folks at Subaru of America tried to entice me to participate in an Outback ownership survey.  [5]

It didn’t take me long to reach for the delete key.  But I must admit, for a nanosecond or so, the email did get me to consider my life anew.  In the next few days, if y’all notice the twinkle in my eye or the spring in my step or the bug up my ass , it’s because I’ve seen the light.  How can I have been so callow, so unappreciative, for so long?  I don’t merely possess a car; I have an ownership experience.

 

 

subaru

Believe it or not, this wasn’t what sold me on my automobile purchase.

*   *   *

Department Of Yet Another Win For Science

Although the usage of win implies a contest, and there’s no contest between objective evidence and wishful thinking…although, if you spend a lot of time reading Facebook posts you realize how many people confuse the latter with the former.

To wit: The most recent total solar eclipse. Specifically, the fact that it occurred, as predicted by scientists, years ago. Win win win.

 

 

eclipse

“Let’s hear it for me!”

 

 

 

A momentary digression: Freethinkers, Brights, Humanists, Skeptics, Atheists – whatever we who are religion-free call ourselves, most of us have had the experience of being asked, by a religious believer, if we ‘believe” in science. Uh, nooooo, we reply, some of us successfully stifling the instinctive, WTF!? raising of our eyebrows (or just a fit of giggling), we don’t need to “believe” in science because “science” does not require that.

Science – observing, documenting and trying to understand the natural world – is a methodology, not a belief system.

Scientists cannot “believe” in science – they have to do science. Science requires action. Believing is passive – not only is no action required, seeking objective evidence is discounted and often even criticized by religions (which champion faith over facts because they couldn’t exist without the former and strive to exist despite the latter).  [6]   And of course they do – if you have evidence, you don’t need faith.

Back to the eclipse: we have fresh in our minds (and stunningly gorgeous pictures and videos on our FB and other feeds) yet another example of how to respond to those who would ask us  [7] if we “believe” in science.

Religions have been preaching about and predicting the end of the world for, well, since the beginning of religions. They prophesy the year or the season – often giving exact dates – when the world will end and/or their god(s) will “return.” It doesn’t happen.

Using information they’ve obtained on planetary and celestial body orbits, scientists predict solar eclipses. Scientists predict the exact dates and even times of these astronomical events, and they do this decades in advance.  The eclipses happen, on the dates and times predicted.

This could be the ultimate illustration of understanding the world using science, versus using religion. One is based on objective measurement and study of the natural world to discover and affirm what is true, and one is based on mythology, supernaturalism, and wishful thinking.  [8]

Sub-Department Of Define Your Terms

My use of the term wishful thinking:  when I apply that term to describe a person’s belief, it doesn’t necessarily mean I think said belief is inherently false, or true. It just means that the person believes what they want to be true, without objective evidence of whether it really is true.

Faith is believing what you know ain’t so.
Mark Twain

stars

*   *   *

Department Of Yet Another Loss For Humanity

“I think I can speak for all Oregonians when I say our hearts are breaking.  The gorge is Oregon’s crown jewel. It’s our playground and we are very, very sad.”
(Multnomah Co. Chair Deborah Kafoury, Eagle Creek Fire Grows, Oregon Live.)

A text from Belle, up at school in Tacoma: “the amount of ash is crazy…there was a layer of ash all over my car this morning and it’s swirling around outside like snow.”

Alert after alert, popping up on my weather app. But I don’t need an app to tell that the air quality sucks – I just need to walk to the mailbox. The smoke-hazy skies, the catch in my breath, the lightly falling ash – ASH! – on the raspberry and azalea bushes, the awful feeling in my lungs, followed by the awful feeling in my head and heart, of hoping it’s due to prevailing winds carrying debris from fires far, far away…and finding out it is much closer than I think.

The awful feelings continue, as I find myself thinking the (almost) unthinkable: what I wish would happen to the juvenile shitstains of an excuse for sentient beings young arsonists who tossed firecrackers – in this weather! In ANY weather! – over a cliff, starting the Eagle Creek fire that is currently decimating the Columbia Gorge

 

 

 

gorge

*   *   *

May you look forward to reuniting with those whom you’ve bid adieu;
May you not settle for mere possessing when you can have an ownership experience;
May you have memories of visiting or hiking the Columbia Gorge when it was flame-free;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] It was a bit more complicated, and less nasty, than how I have stated it.

[2] Sadly, a big impetus for pursuing that dream was getting out of the Land of the Cheetos Hitler, the Mandarin Mussolini (insert your favorite epithet for #45)….  They found the changing political and cultural landscape of their adopted country to be increasingly odious.

[3] Although, realistically, the kids will go to Sweden to see Mom and Pop more than Mom & Pop will come back here.

[4] Having an ongoing, Life’s Third Act crisis doesn’t count.

[5] They were unsuccessful.

[6] (“Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” Jesus berating the “Doubting Thomas” in the book of John)

[7] (often in defensive ways that indicate they somehow/deep down inside suspect that their religious beliefs are contradict by reality, and so they want to bring science, skepticism and the study of the natural world down to their level – “Well, you have faith in atheism/religion!” This is also known as the kindergarten-worthy, Oh yeah? Well so’s your old man/nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah! argument.

[8]  (“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1, KJV )

The List I’m Not Making

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Haiku for Walking
While Listening to Nothing
Yet Hearing So Much

Early evening,
heading downtown, I greet the
others who walk past.

They nod, adjust their
earbuds, and return their gaze
downward, at their phones.
They have their iTunes,
podcasts, or conversations,
but miss the street songs:

Backyard wind chimes;
breeze rustling the birch leaves;
a child’s distant laugh.

Cars unseen but heard;
cheers from the nearby sports field;
crows rebuking jays.

Walking to downtown
to meet MH for dinner
cellphone in stasis.

downtownb

*   *   *

Department Of Pissing In The Wind
Aka, Will It Do Any Good?

Briefly: I experienced buyer’s remorse after purchasing something online and, when the product arrived, was horrified by the excessive, totally unnecessary, wasteful, non-recyclable packaging. I sent an email to the company [1], with this picture, and advised/implored them to do better. [2]

 

olay

*   *   *

Department of Even More Essential Than a Bucket List

 

Last Friday MH surprised us [3] by procuring dinner reservations at an mahhhvelous vegetarian restaurant, Natural Selection. The dining atmosphere was at once intimate and welcoming, and not at all twee or intimidating, despite the restaurant having the all-too-Portland description rustic chic applied to it by critic.

We spent over two hours enjoying a prix fixe, four course (with wine pairings for each course) dinner. We enjoyed the kind of meal that makes you feel ebullient and comrade-ic with your fellow diners, and you turn to those seated to your left and right and find an excuse to make conversation – the kind of meal that turns strangers into friends (“What did you choose for the second course?”).

It was the kind of meal that should have had me posting a picture of each course to a certain friend, but I was so into the repast I neglected to do so. By the way, if you have the good fortune to know Scott Duke Harris, intrepid Santa Ana, CA – Hanoi journalist, do send him pictures of your favorite meals. He’ll love it.

 

NS

 

 

Once again, I digress.

As per the afore-mentioned, strangers-begin-talking-when-inspired-by-good-food impulse, I struck up a conversation with the gentleman seated at the table to my right. He and his Lovely and Talented Wife © were, like MH and I, first-timers at the restaurant. They were celebrating her retirement from 25 years with one job and moving on to the third act. He preceded her in retirement, and we began chatting about how he was filling his time, including trying new things – like a gourmet vegetarian restaurant – and yet not falling into the I-only-have-so-much-time-left-and-must-do-all-the-things-I-missed-doing-when-I-was-younger trap. We commiserated about the ever-increasing swiftness of the passage of time, and about avoiding the well-meaning advice of those people who have compiled their own bucket list and pressure you to do the same.

I told him how, while continuing to seek meaningful ways to contribute to society, I also seek to minimize time spent in activities I loathe. [4] For example, I know I will never be able to reclaim those hours, attending a “morale raising/teamwork-building” business workshop, or sitting in a committee, listening to someone ask a question that needn’t have be asked (or that had already been answered) but was put out there so that the asker could be seen as insightful or perceptive by his colleagues….

The gentleman concurred, and offered this sentiment: the older he gets, the more he realizes the importance of not doing certain things. That is, he recognizes what, for him, is the primacy of not the bucket list, but the fuck-it list.

Exactly! I resisted the urge to pound my fist on the (artisanal, hand- crafted) table in enthusiastic recognition of a kindred spirit.  And I told him I was going to steal his description.

No matter our age, we are all bound by the limits of lifespan. You may be compiling an inspiring bucket list, and if so, good for you!  I hope you are also keeping track of what you do not need to do anymore – including things you’ve never done, things that may be #1 on someone else’s bucket list but which you just don’t see as effort- or time- or money- or risk-worthy  [5]  .  As in, fuck it, I’m not going to squander my time on that.

 

 

buycket

*   *   *

Skepticism is hard.  How do you convince someone they’re not thinking clearly when they’re not thinking clearly?
Our brains are not “wired” for skeptical thinking; studies have shown that people who lose their “faith” tend to replace it with something else, with a different type of belief – with some other non-evidence-based reasoning.

(Phil Platt, astronomer, writer and science blogger, from his “Don’t be a Dick” talk at the TAM Conference , 2010)

Acartoon

 

 

Last week I came across a link to an article titled, Transgenderism: A Pathogenic Meme. The article was written by Paul McHugh, MD, a Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Medical School, and published via the conservative thinktank, The Witherspoon Institute. The link to the article was posted by a FB friend who is a conservative Christian and who recently obtained an (on-line) degree in counseling from Liberty University.

Yep. That Liberty University – the one founded by Jerry Falwell. [6] Liberty is the kind of conservative religious institution that purports to offer an “education” and “the pursuit of knowledge in every discipline” – as long as said knowledge can be cherry-picked to conform to their frighteningly, medieval superstition relic doctrinal statement…in which Iron Age mythological beings are treated as serious 21st century driving forces.

So. FBF posted this intro to the link: “Very good article. If a person wants help, evidence-based intervention is always the best way to go.”

One of the article’s assertions about transgenderism –  that facts are more determinative than feelings –  is one I happen to agree with…about any subject. And so I couldn’t help but chuckle Oy vey, if only after reading FBF’s intro.

“For those who want to be helped, evidence based-reasoning….” Indeed. That would be a nice change and a pleasant surprise.

If only y’all religious believers would apply evidence-based reasoning across the entire spectrum of your lives, and not only when you (think you) can find or fashion evidence to suit a particular doctrinal tenet.

Facts are (or should be) more determinative than feelings, including the fact that religious/supernatural claims about the world are ultimately based on feelings – believers [7] live and walk by faith, as their own holy books tell them . The only fact-based thing about religion is the fact that all religions tells different stories as to how the world works and/or how and why their god(s) operate, and competing faiths use similar arguments to stake why theirs is the only true faith.

 

faith

 

 

Meanwhile, Humanists, Brights, Freethinkers, atheists, agnostics, and others who hold a reason-based worldview shake our heads and smile our holy shit?! smiles and say, Cool story, bro.

And for those religious believers who want to be helped, evidence-based reasoning can be found at the Freedom From Religion Foundation, the Recovering From Religion organization and hotline, and many, many other organizations which provide support for those who recognize they need to overcome religious indoctrination.

 

*   *   *

May you carefully and joyously compile your bucket and fuck-it lists;
May you remember to pull the plugs and listen to the nothing;
May you enjoy many a meal that Scott Harris would envy;
.. .and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] whose product line name rhymes with Soil of NoWay.

[2] The same advice I gave to myself, re checking out a product’s packaging before looking for a good price.

[3] Yes, both us; as in, I think he surprised himself by the awesomeness of his choice.

[4] Read: committees and meetings.

[5] Sky diving, anyone?

[6] Yep, that Jerry Falwell, the one who said, among numerous batshit crazy claims for Jesus, “Good Christians, like slaves and soldiers, ask no questions.”

[7] Notice they are called, and call themselves, believers.

The Advice Column I’m Not Writing

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 The potters are here!  The potters are here!

The Oregon Potters Association is holding its annual Ceramic Showcase this weekend.  Today and Saturday and Sunday, the nation’s largest show of handmade ceramic art is on display (and for sale), as over 170 Oregon and Washington artists take over the main exhibition hall of the Oregon Convention Center. Free admission!

Horsley teapot

Teapot by Patrick Horsley

If your head is spinning like a potter’s wheel after a few hours of viewing the coolest teapots on the planet, take a break and check out the neighboring exhibition halls, where more than 200 Oregon artists will display their one-of-a-kind artwork, handmade from metal, beads, glass, wood & hand-woven fabrics.  The Creative Metal Arts Guild, Oregon Glass Guild, Guild of Oregon Woodworkers, Portland Bead Society and the Portland Handweavers Guild have joined forces to present this show, which they refer to as…wait for it… A Gathering of the Guilds.

 but a sampling from my Wall of Faces, many purchased at OPA conventions

but a sampling from my Wall of Faces, many of which were purchased at OPA conventions

This is year 32 for the OPA showcase. I’ve attended this event for at least twenty years, usually accompanied by friends who are also pottery and art admirers and collectors (and even artists themselves). [1]  After years of attending, I’ve no excuse (read: room in the house) for further pottery purchases, be they utilitarian or ornamental.  Or so I thought, until a fortuitous tragic event in December, when a longtime member of the Wall of Faces (only partially pictured above) committed suicide, as it were. [2] And now, there is room for one more.

Chickenface

And there was much rejoicing. 

 *   *   *

Complesults and Insulments.

You’ve probably been on the receiving (or spewing) end at least once, even if you aren’t familiar with these terms, which I (think) am just-right-now making up.  A complesult or an insulment is a sly statement that allows an ostensibly positive remark to cover a dis. Think of disparagement masquerading as praise. Or, an insult disguised as a compliment – sound familiar now?

HISS

 “I can see why you like Carol Burnet’s TV show; she proves that a funny girl can be successful even if she’s not pretty.”

I received that lovely bouquet from a grade school rival.  The other 6th graders standing in the tetherball line didn’t seem to get it, but I sure did.  Hsssssssssss.

And now, I’d like to hear yours.  Uh—not about moiself, thank you.  But, if you’re up to sharing, what are some of the most memorable complesults and zingiest insulments you’ve received?  Or delivered – ‘fess up and don’t worry; I’ll assume the targets were worthy. Judgment shall be withheld.

*   *   *

More From The Department of Withholding Judgment

Earlier this week I received an email from Scarletta Press, the publisher of The Mighty Quinn, notifying their authors that Scarletta’s director of publicity has resigned.  Further communication will reveal who will fill the vacancy.  I’m hoping for someone interested in doing…well…consistent and vigorous promotion.

*   *   *

 A Day Late and a Dollar Short [3]

Ever had a great idea, only to find out someone else – in fact, several someone elses – beat you to it?

Me neither.  Until I toyed with the idea of starting an advice column.

 Please give me some good advice in your next letter. I promise not to follow it.
 (Edna St. Vincent Millay, American poet)

I had the column’s title, format (via another blog, at first) and rationalization raison d’être for the project.  My niche was to be advice in various areas – from personal and professional quandaries to matters of protocol – from and for Brights, Humanists, Atheists, Agnostics, Freethinkers. The religion-free consistently encounter a plethora of WTF? situations, as we navigate a society that bestows privileges and even positive attributes upon religious believers.

I even had some topics in mind, for how I would organize the issues, including:

* Fun with Fundamentalists

* Are those your holy scriptures in your pocket or are you just happy to see me? (dealing with proselytizers)

*  Say What? (how to respectfully but firmly deal with family/friends/neighbors/co-workers who pressure you to participate in their overtly religious rites and ceremonies)….

Oh, what fun.  Oh, what the (mythical realm of eternal torment) was I thinking?  It’s already being done.

facepalm

The Humanist magazine, to which I’ve recently subscribed, is doing it (in their colun, “The Ethical Dilemma”) , as is the Freedom From Religion Foundation,via a relatively recent addition [4] to Freethought Today, their monthly newsletter…which I would have known had I more carefully read the journals’ recent issues instead of passing them on to my son and other interested parties, oy vey.

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

And so it goes.  Stay tuned for more info on this project.  Or, less. Until then, my advice to you is to let the hijinks ensue.

 Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

 

 

[1] Why aren’t there any footnotes, you may be asking?

[2] Apropos of nothing, it dove (or so it seemed) from its perch on the wall and plummeted to the tile floor.

[3] Yeah, that also has already been done.  Or, said.

[4] Something along the lines of “Ask a Freethinker.”

The I’m Erotic Cattle Abduction Scene I’m Not Writing

1 Comment

Some authors should not go there

Sex.  As in, writing a sex scene. I find myself either yawning or cringing – sometimes both [1] – when I read them.  Rarely have I found a fictional account of a sexual encounter to be anything other than mildly ludicrous at best, and wonder, is this claptrap supposed to be erotic?

No entendre, double or otherwise, intended with the use of the word claptrap.  Although it would make a good title for a murder mystery novel.

Claptrap :  While on vacation in New York City, Kenyan homicide detective Yawanna Ubangi gets drawn into the investigation of an apparent female serial killer, a Femme Fatale whose M.O. involves weakening her lovers through intentional gonorrhea infections….

Hot damn, I may be on to something. I shall have to restrain myself, until I’m at least done with the first draft of the next Quinn book.

Once again, I digress.  Back to bad sex.

Case in point, the book I am currently reading.  I like the plot and most of the characters; I want to like the book in toto, but the author is making it difficult for me to do so.  There is something off-putting about the prose style I can’t quite put my finger on, and then, there are the intermittent sex scenes between the protagonist and her husband that make me never to want to put a finger on anything, ever again.  Not only are the sexual encounters awkwardly written IMHO, they are so…perfunctory, mechanical, and terse .[2]   I find myself wondering, in the most basic, high school Literature Evaluation sense, why are these scenes in the book in the first place?  What plot point or character reference do they serve to illustrate or advance?  Did the author feel obligated to include a minimum amount of whoopee, or was it an editor’s misguided marketing strategy (“There’s no sex in this book, FFS!”) ?

BADSEXjpg

*   *   *

Yet another reason not to follow a link on Facebook and end up wasting far too much time blowing steam about some hypercritical misanthrope

The link to a Huffington Post opinion piece was posted by friend RN, with the question, “You know, this is how A__ (RN’s partner) and I roll, too.  Are we extremists?”

After reading the article I had to wonder if RN had read it all the way through, for although I know that RN & A___ have generous spirits and kind hearts and have opened their home to rescue dogs, I can’t imagine they are anything like the extremely judgmental lady dick who wrote An Open Letter to the Person Who Left This Sweet Dog at the Kill Shelter.

The article is a hostile, self-congratulatory screed by a self-described “blogger, Dog Lover,” who takes to task – and threatens the safety of – the person who surrender an elderly dog with multiple health issues to a “kill” shelter.

“Warning – it’s not easy to read,” RN wrote re the article, referring to the details of the poor dog’s plight, I assumed.  Assumption #2: I anticipated my reaction would be similar to RN’s, until I followed the link and read the article…and felt compelled to reply:

Uh, it’s not easy to read because the author is a vile, judgmental, sanctimonious narcissist, who in truth knows little to nothing about the situations that may have led to a family surrendering their dog. 

My daughter and I volunteered for a no-kill animal organization [3]  and we met some of those people. “Pet surrenders” increased dramatically with the downturn of the economy, and for every jerk who turned in a pet that they just didn’t want anymore there were two grieving families, heartbroken over the fact that they had lost their jobs and their homes and/or leases (yes, our organization researched these surrenders and checked references), had no friends or family to take their beloved pet and had to choose between buy their own diabetes medication or their son’s anti-seizure drugs…. 

What little information is on an animal surrender intake sheet does not tell the whole story, and people are often reluctant and embarrassed to reveal their private miseries. That self-congratulating dog rescuer may have a heart for animals but I wish s/he’d extend the same compassion toward his fellow bipeds.

I could have gone on, could have mentioned the heartbreak of seeing the elderly pets “surrendered” by their elderly, loving owners who had fought for years to be able to stay in their own homes but due to illness/disability/dementia were entering nursing homes and had exhausted every resource to find a home for their beloved animal companions – stories way too complicated to fit on an intake form…. And no-kill shelters almost always have a waiting list.  A very long waiting list.  To assume that any person who “surrenders” an animal does so voluntarily and cavalierly frosts my butt.

And so, Blogger-dog-lover, this asshat’s for you:

AHat

*   *   *

It was time to send another care package to K, up at UPS.  I gathered a motley assortment of silly items ® and went to a certain store to get some cheap junk food inexpensive nutritious snacks to fill out the box. I also got him one of those paper fold out turkey centerpieces (one dollar, such a deal!), and wrote my suggested instructions on it: K should wait until his housemates are out, assemble the hideous thing tasteful decoration and place it atop the dining table. Once its presence has been noticed he should deny all knowledge of how it got there, and suggest that they have been the victims of yet another drive-by centerpiecing.

TURKEY

 Anyway….

I placed my items on the checkout counter conveyor belt along with my own bag, and for some reason flashed back to the first time I’d brought my reusable bag to the store (the name of which rhymes with Collar Free):  The clerk seemed to be in a hurry, and started shoving my items into a plastic bag seemingly before they’d touched the conveyor belt.  “Oh, wait please.” I waved my cloth bag while stating the obvious. “I brought my own bag.” The clerk’s eyes grew wide with concern as she transferred my items from the store’s bag to mine.  “I’m sorry,” she said, in the measured, you may want to sit down for this tone usually reserved for telling someone their favorite auntie has died, “But I can’t give you a discount for using your own bag. Store policy; it’s still a dollar, for everything.”

Uh, yeah, that’s fine. That’s not why I bring my own shopping bag, to get five cents off my total.  I didn’t even think of the bag rebate until you called it to my attention…but, now that you mention it, the injustice is sinking in and I am outraged, I am appalled, utterly appalled. GODDAMMIT I WANT MY NICKLE REFUND!  I AM NOT LEAVING THIS STORE UNTIL I GET MY NICKLE BACK OR YOU GIVE ME ONE OF YOUR PLASTIC BAGS.

REUSALE

It has rained several times this week, after last week’s glorious burst of late summer sun and high temperatures. The first rainstorm of the season – I love the way it smells.  For some people, the return of the rain is enervating, but I find it energizing.  The harbinger of autumn, my favorite season. Bring it on.

*   *   *

SOAPBOX

One of my favorite comics from one of my favorite comic strips, Bizarro, shows two couples, beverage tumblers in hand, meeting at an outdoor party.  The husband of one of the couples extends his toward the other couple and says, “Hello, we’re the Hendersons. You must be the non-Hendersons.”

I can't afford whatever the fee would be to borrow a Bizarro comic, so use your imagination here.

I can’t afford whatever the fee would be to borrow a Bizarro comic, so use your imagination.

This shall make sense; bear with me.

The first rain of the season reminded me of other firsts.  Three of We (MH, Belle and I) are attending the FFRF’s [4] annual convention later this month.  This will be Belle’s first, Mark’s third and my fourth FFRF convention.  I’ve been fondly recalling one of the more thought-provoking moments at my first convention, which occurred during the convention’s customary non-prayer breakfast [5] .  The charming elderly gentleman seated next to me at breakfast outed himself as a “non-atheist.”  He said that although his wife was a “long-time atheist” he was a theist, and that he found it educational, intriguing and humbling to be in the minority, as he was likely one of the few non-atheists in the room.  Isn’t it funny, I replied, that you’re sitting next to another minority member…only in that I do not call myself an atheist.

I think words are incredibly important; they are what we humans, a non-telepathic species, use to communicate ideas.  And I can get picky about labels. Although some might find it amusing if not presumptuous for a freethinker to even attempt to persuade other freethinkers to think differently, I don’t like the atheist label and wish those who claim the word would claim…something else, instead.

There are several reasons for my dislike of the term.  For one, I find it to be a misnomer.  Also, I think Freethinkers, Humanists, Brights, Skeptics and others who accept and even embrace the A-label are making a semantic as well as a strategic/public relations mistake.

One of the best pieces of parenting advice MH and I received was that when it came to discipline we would need to “choose our battles” wisely.  We found that to be true; there are things not worth the fuss, and others that are so worth fighting for.  I think the battle to claim or rehabilitate the word atheist is futile; it has too many negative connotations and associations.  Of course, those associations were and are concocted and perpetuated by the religious and are largely and historically inaccurate, but since when has acknowledging that fact corrected a firmly entrenched misperception?  [6]

Personally, I’ve no “fear” of being called an atheist.  To the contrary, being thusly labeled has provided many an Entertaining Educational Moment, when I’ve reminded the person who used the word that we’re all atheists vis-à-vis our stance on other gods/religions, and that it is only relatively recently that “atheism” has come to mean a lack of belief in any gods (historically, an atheist was someone who didn’t believe in the god you believed in, and so Jews, Christians, Buddhists, Pagans, Moslems and Hindus have all been referred to, by those outside their respective religions, as atheists).

But that Educational Moment, no matter how entertaining, ultimately misses the point.  For if we are all Something in relation to Something Else, then Something has no specific meaning.  I find the Something that is atheism to be imprecise, and so I correct someone who applies that term to me, just as I would correct a mispronunciation of my name or misstatement of my height. [7]

The religious generally try to understand or dismiss atheism as just another (“false”) religion. That’s silly, of course, but that’s how they, in their minds, can handle it. One reason they get away with this is that self-labeled atheists involuntarily abet such faulty reasoning by allowing themselves to be defined in religious terms by religious people.  But atheism isn’t a religion, a philosophy, or even a world view. It’s not even an ism.

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

Sam Harris, Letter to a Christian Nation

"I believe, Elsie, I believe!"

“I believe, Elsie, I believe!”

I am not religious, and thus find it improper and even rude to be defined in terms of what I do not do, believe, or practice.  I am not a negation of something; like anyone else, I want to be defined positively, on my own terms, not in terms of my relation to someone or something else.  When it comes to politics, I’m an Independent, not an anti-Democrat, un-Republican, de-Green Party or dis-Libertarian.  I’m not an a-astrologist, a-New-Ager or a-theist; I am a Freethinker, a Humanist, a Skeptic, a Bright.

Let’s say I’m visiting my Floridian, Republican, Lutheran, tennis-loving, Gucci satchel-toting mother-in-law, Gladys. [8]  And let’s say Gladys gives the following description of me to her neighbor, Jethro:  “Her name is not Gladys, she’s not from Florida, she’s an a-Republican and an a-Lutheran, she’s not a tennis player or an Italian purse carrier, and she’s not my daughter.”

While technically correct, that description provides no pertinent information about me.  Jethro knows nothing of what I am, only a little bit of what, in relation to Gladys, I am not.

Another reason I don’t like the term atheist is that it elevates theism to the #1 position of the many things in whose existence or veracity I don’t believe.  It gives the false assumption that there is something out there (a supernatural world and/or deities) to deny. Yes, I do not believe in the existence of deities, but I also don’t believe in demons or ghosts or fairy godmothers or homeopathy or astrology or the trickle-down theory, either.

Most religious folk think they know what an atheist is, does and/or believes, but, in my humble opinion and experience, even the most academically challenged Fundamentalists can be intrigued by the unfamiliar.  Call yourself an atheist (or allow them to do so) and in their eyes, you’re pegged – beginning/end of discussion.   Call yourself a Freethinker, a Bright, a Skeptic, and you’ve set their ears (and sometimes…gasp…even their minds) atwitching.  (“Freethinker?  What exactly do you mean by that?”).

As a Bright, I hold a naturalistic worldview, free of supernatural and mystical elements.  As a Freethinker, I hold that opinions or beliefs of reality should be based on science, logic and reason, independent of religion, authority, “tradition” or dogmas. As a Skeptic, I take a provisional approach to all fantastic declarations, and support the application of science and reason to test the validity of any and all claims. As a Humanist, I hold a progressive philosophy of life that bases my values and actions on a naturalistic worldview and affirms my ability and responsibility to lead an ethical life that aspires to the greater good of humanity.  And yes, if you are a religious believer you may call me an atheist (but be prepared for me to point out that you’re the one who’s the theist, not me, a- or otherwise).

Bright, Freethinker, Skeptic, Humanist, Happy Heathen, Apostate, Atheist, Heretic – I will embrace or tolerate any of those terms.  Although my title of choice would be “T’Saywhat, Galactic Sovereign of the Terran System.”

ZSAQUEEN

Queen T’Saywhat’s philosophy is to protect and enhance the earth, to enjoy life in the here and cultivate moral excellence, maturity and common human decency.  She would exercise her Galactic monarchical responsibility by requiring all humans to meditate upon the truths illustrated herein:

Get that Captain a charcoal seat cushion, and let the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!


[1] Which I am able to do thanks to years of yoga practice.

[2] Not that I’m complaining about a poorly written scene not dragging on and on and on….

[3] over five years with C.A.T. Cat Adoption Team

[4] The Freedom From Religion Foundation’s objective is to promote the constitutional principle of separation of state and church, and to educate the public on matters relating to non-theism.

[5] Which begins with a “moment of bedlam” instead of a moment of silence.  Such fun before 9 am is illegal in most Islamsit countries. You really gotta be there.

[6] Greater and more articulate minds than mine have argued for dropping the A-label – most notably author and neurobiologist Sam Harris at the Atheist Alliance Conference, for which he was burned at the rhetorical stake, so to speak.  Hmm, are there Atheist Fundies?

[7] I am taller than you think.  I am taller than I think…in my dreams.

[8] Neither her real name nor her taste in handbags.