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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

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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

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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 Embryos I’m Not Thawing

1 Comment

Department of Archery Haiku

archery1

I’ve taken up a
new sport, game, activity –

whatever it is 

Zen and the art of…”
Yep; archery. Just for fun.

(I don’t hunt Bambi). 

Blownup balloons pinned
on target – they’re better than

hitting the bulls-eye. 

I think it’s the sound:
A sharp, satisfying “pop”

and the balloon sags. 

I’ve learned what improves
my aim: mean faces, drawn on

balloons, with Sharpies

It only takes me
one or two arrows to burst

Vladimir Putin.

 

I do not have a picture of one of my Putin balloons (I popped ’em all), but I can share something even better: a video of Vladimir Putin making a balloon animal.

 

Is this a great world, or what?

*   *   *

Department of No Comment Necessary

From psychologist and author Valerie Tarico’s  interview with Sarah Morehead, executive [1] director of Recovering From Religion, a support group for people reconsidering the role of religion in their life and who have negatively affected by religion.

VT:Your commitment to supporting people in religious transitions comes from your own transition, which started with you as a life-long member of the Southern Baptist Convention and ended with you as an atheist.

SM: Yes. It was a long journey. Twelve years ago, I separated from my Promise Keeper husband. He had been violent toward me, but when he turned that on our kids, it was over for me. I found myself strapped financially, and in desperation I went to the benevolence committee at my church and asked for $600 to help pay the bills. This was a huge, successful mega-church, and the benevolence committee was their mechanism for helping members in need. The committee—all men—said they needed to pray about my request, and that regardless I needed to go to counseling about how to be a more godly wife so that I could lead my husband back to Christ through my submissiveness. They said this even though they knew he was physically abusive. Then, after praying, they let me know that Jesus wasn’t keen on them giving me the money.

patr

*   *   *

Favorite crossword puzzle clue I’ve encountered this year:

Clue: They are taken to go. [2]

pcrossword

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Department of Paying Attention

Frozen Embryos Have A Right To Live was the absurdly provocative title of an op-ed in last Thursday’s New York Times. The byline belonged to someone described as Sofía Vergara’s Ex-Fiancé, aka, Nick Loeb.  (SVEF/Mr. Loeb admitted up front that the issue at hand would likely not be newsworthy save for the Famous Person © involved.)

Ms. Vergara is one of the stars of (yet-another-popular-series-I-don’t-watch) Modern Family, a show in which the fiery, heavily-accented Latina plays the stereotypical heavily-accented Sexy/Fiery Latina ®, a pandering stereotype breakthrough performance for a Latina actor as a regular sitcom cast member.

I am familiar with Ms. Vergara in the vaguest celebrity knowledge way; i.e., twice or thrice I’ve seen her on late night talk shows, where I found her manners and mannerisms at once irritating and charmingly reminiscent of…someone….  Oh, yes – Charo. [3]

We now we pause in our deliberation of Serious Events ® for a moment of cuchi-cuchi to celebrate the first – and hopefully not last – mention of Charo in this blog.

 

 

Once again, I digress.

The subject of SVEF/Mr. Loeb’s op-ed is the lawsuit he has filed against his ex-fiancé, re control of the frozen embryos the two of them created, back when they were on embryo-creating terms. Ms. Vergara does not want these frozen embryos implanted in a surrogate now that she and Mr. Loeb are no longer a couple.

In his opening paragraphs SVEF briefly outlines questions he would like readers to consider, re the rights of parenthood, the idea of embryos as property vs. the “sacredness” of life/religious beliefs. SVEF uses the bulk of the article to establish his I am a sensitive man and have always wanted to be a father credentials…which are superfluous after the first two sentences of paragraph 3 of his article (below, my emphases):  

In 2013 Sofia and I agreed to try to use in vitro fertilization and a surrogate to have children.  We signed a form stating that any embryos created through the process could be brought to term only with both parties’ consent.

Duuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuude? Really?

REALLY

Not to be insensitive, but holy frozen ballsack, [4] buddy, do you have even a remedial understanding of reading comprehension?

Both parties have not consented. You changed your mind — a cognitive alteration which may be a major bummer for you but which in no way nullifies the legal document you signed which stated the terms to which you agreed.

We signed a form stating that any embryos created through the process could be brought to term only with both parties’ consent.

I wanted to stop reading the article after that one simple-yet-explicit, concise sentence.  How elegantly clear can an agreement be? Game over.

*   *   *

Department of Yes, I Do Have a Heart

Lest you think me unsympathetic to SVEF, after reading the article I did pause to consider his emotional well-being, and that of others in his situation. I think he would be well-served by channeling his (what he feels to be) thwarted parental energy into acting on behalf of even one of the millions of orphaned/neglected/needy,  real live, non-frozen children currently residing on this planet.

Also, I think he should meditate upon pictures of a star-pajama clothed baby sloth.

As should we all.

pjsloth

*   *  *

May hitting your favorite target provide you with a bulls-eye experience…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

 

[1] A word like executive deserves its own footnote, n’est ce-pas?

[2] Answer: Laxatives.

[3] You know and/or remember who Charo is?  Dang, you must be old.

[4] Have you checked out the frozen ballsack section of your natural foods store? What are you waiting for?