Department Of Groovy Natural Phenomena
Part One Of Two In This Post
Magnificent to observe – from a safe distance, y’all.
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And Speaking Of Groovy Natural Phenomena…
What would ushering in the holiday season be without The Dropkick Murphys?
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Department Of More On Stormfronts
Dateline: earlier this week. Moiself saw a post from a FB friend, in which they announced that it was their son Oden’s  birthday…and that they would be celebrating without him, as he is in another state and wants nothing to do with his parents and is “angry angry angry.”
There are few relationships sadder than those involving parent-child alienation. The emotional part of me took hold first. I wanted to message them privately, until the rational part of me said:
As in, WTF are you – moiself – thinking?
Because my message would have been along the lines of:
“Oh, ____ (friends’ names) I am so sad to read this…and the fact that I’m reading this on social media makes me even sadder.
Is Oden on Facebook? Will Oden’s seeing or becoming aware of this post help him to be less angry?”
Of course it won’t help. Nor would my rhetorical question to them have been of help, no matter how many times I would have tried to “gently” rephrase or reframe it. And I refer to this hypothetical question as rhetorical, because I can’t think of a sensible reason for someone to believe that making such a public statement  would help their cause of reconciliation. Unless…
…duh and ahhh, unless reconciliation is *not* their cause (at this point). Rather, the only cause I can think of which would be served by such an announcement is to receive pity/sympathy from their friends and family – reactions which could have (should have, IMHO) been garnered privately, by speaking or messaging personally with those who are aware of the long, complicated, parents-child relationship here, rather than by exposing the already-alienated-and-angry son to public scrutiny and even shame. 
If feeding the parents’ sense of martyrdom heartache was the true purpose of the post, then, well-played.
It’s still sad. No matter what. I wish that seeing a picture of a *Baby Sloth Wearing Magic Pajamas Of Reconciliation* would make it all better, for everyone.
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Department Of Yeah What He Said
Moiself occasionally checks comedian and author and TV host Bill Maher’s “New Rules” segment, and his one last week, Rule: Words Matter , was a doozy. Maher starts out proposing that instead of putting bibles in hotel rooms people should put dictionaries,
“…because apparently, nobody knows what words mean anymore.”
Maher goes on to illustrate one of my pet peeves – the fact that you dilute the importance of words when you misunderstand and misuse them. And I couldn’t have given a better example of misusing/redefining than the cringe-worthy one Maher provides. It involves a standup comic, some of whose work I have listened to and liked, commenting on the standup special of another comic, some of whose work I have listened to and liked (and some…nah).
Chappelle, who above all else seems to (consider himself to) be a free speech advocate, is once again testing the limits of that in his new streaming special on Netflix. Certain remarks he has made in the special have raised the hackles of many in the LGBTQ community. 
“Dave Chappelle does not make it easy.
He is one of the most brilliant stand-up comics in the business. But he also makes a sport of challenging his audience — putting ideas in front of them that he knows are uncomfortable and unpalatable to those invested in modern notions of how to talk about feminism, gender, sexual orientation and race.
Sometimes, he does it to make a larger point. But at times, especially during his latest special for Netflix, ‘The Closer,’ he also seems to have a daredevil’s relish for going to dangerous places onstage and eventually winning his audience over — regardless of what he’s actually saying. “
(“For Dave Chappelle, punchlines are dares. His new special, ‘The Closer,’ goes too far.”
( NPR, Morning Edition, Tv Review 10-5-21 )
Australian standup comic Gadsby, a lesbian who often features LGBTQ issues in her routines, characterized Chapelle’s special as “…hate speech dog-whistling.”
Maher points out the glaring misuse of two terms which essentially cancel each other out:
” ‘Dog whistle’ refers to when someone puts something in code because they’re afraid to come out and say what they really think.
That’s what you get from Dave Chapelle –
he’s afraid to say what he really thinks?”
Maher also on touches on my second semantic pet peeve: attaching “-phobic” to any reaction you don’t like.
“…and it’s not hate speech, just because you disagree with it. Nor is it phobic. Phobic comes from a Greek word meaning something you fear irrationally, like spiders, or germs. But now it is used as a suffix for something you just don’t like.I’ve been called ‘commitment-phobic.‘ No, I don’t *fear* commitment, I just don’t want any. Other people do; great! I don’t call them, ‘single-phobic.’
….And if I talk about how wrong I think it is to force women to wear a beekeeper’s suit all day, that’s not Islamophobic – I just don’t like it.”
“A phobia is a persistent, excessive, unrealistic fear of an object, person, animal, activity or situation. It is a type of anxiety disorder.
A person with a phobia either tries to avoid the thing that triggers the fear, or endures it with great anxiety and distress.
( “Phobia – what is it?” Harvard health a-z.edu )
For those who fling the –phobic suffix with Woke® impunity: y’all ever met a person with an actual phobia and seen that phobia manifested?  True phobics endure debilitating symptoms that can mimic a heart attack. It is a frightening, humbling thing to see.
If you’re gay and someone disagrees with you, about LGBTQ-related public policy or personal relationships – or if he flat out say that the idea of a gay “lifestyle” (translate: sex) makes him uncomfortable, he is just that – uncomfortable…or perhaps immature or ignorant or close-minded or whatever. But unless he slobbers and hyperventilates and screams and has to run out of the grocery store when Ru Paul enters, he is not (homo- or trans-) *phobic.*
If you’re a woman and, come time for the annual extended family Thanksgiving gathering, your strip joint-frequenting cousin Bubba Bocephus argues with every feminist principle you espouse, and freely and loudly expresses his opinion that women’s places are in the kitchen and bedroom as he tells jokes belittling his female co-workers, it is possible that Bubba actually hates women. But unless he exhibits behavior that indicates he has an irrational, anxiety-producing *fear* of any female relative at the gathering, he is not a “gynophobe.” He’s a misogynist asshole.
Related (moiself sez) to the misuse or “rebranding” of certain words and terms is safe spaces, a concept I find ominous, and even the opposite of “safe.” Those school boards trying to outlaw any form of Critical Race Theory being taught, or even mentioned, in schools? They took a page from the far left playbook: they’re trying to keep students (read: white students) “safe” from the reality of the USA’s history of systemic racism.
Ever since I first heard the term safe spaces I’ve had an almost visceral loathing of it (but, I am not safe spacephobic). This is because I think that institutions – in particular universities, which are supposed to challenge and enlighten – being asked or even required to produce “safe spaces” produces just the opposite, and stifles development of one of the most important human qualities higher education should aspire to engender: strength of character, along with the character-building-and-expanding skill of being able to listen to and consider opinions you disagree with, or even find offensive.
And now I know why I have this reaction, thanks to the series of talks I’ve been listening to (“The Stoic Path,” via this meditation app) . In the episode, “The Upside of Negative Thinking,” stoic philosopher William B. Irvine puts a name to perhaps the most vital yet an underappreciated part of our body’s defensive systems:
“Most people are born with an immune system. But for it to be maximally effective it has to be developed, and the best way to develop it is by exposing it to germs. Suppose then that you’re a parent, who wants her child to grow up strong and healthy. You know that germs cause illness. The obvious thing to do would be to keep your child’s exposure to germs to a minimum. If you acted on this reasoning, though, and tried to raise your child in a germ-free environment, you had better be prepared to keep him there for the rest of his life. Otherwise, as soon as he stepped into the real world, his underdeveloped immune system would likely be overwhelmed by germs.
So what’s a caring parent to do? As paradoxical as it may seem, she should expose her child to germs, but in a controlled fashion….
The Stoics didn’t know about the biological immune system…but they did intuit the existence of what I am calling a psychological immune system. Whereas your biological immune system protects you from sickness caused by germs, your psychological immune system protects you from experiencing the negative emotions triggered by life’s setbacks.
Consider the following scenario: suppose that parents, in order to reduce the number of negative emotions that their child experiences, worked hard to prevent bad things from happening to him. They never shared bad news with him; never criticized or insulted him and did their best to prevent other people from doing so. And whenever a problem arose in the child’s life they would deal with it on his behalf. Although these parents might have the best intentions in the world, those intentions would likely backfire. Their child’s psychological immune system would end up dysfunctional; indeed, he would be the psychological equivalent of a bubble boy. He would be hypersensitive to comments other people made; he would be angered and frustrated by the smallest setbacks, and he might burst into tears upon hearing bad news.
Caring parents…will take steps to develop their child’s psychological immune system… Their goal is for the child to be emotionally ready to face the imperfect world into which he will emerge in a few year’s time. He should able to hear bad news, criticism, and even insults, without getting overly upset. And when he encounters a setback, he should be able to calmly and coolly set about to overcoming it.”
Ponder this: Allowing yourself to be exposed to contrary, harsh, even insulting thoughts, words, and opinions is the psychological equivalent of getting a flu shot.
As he expands on the concept of psychological immunity, Irvine considers how the Stoics would respond to “hate speech.” (my emphases):
“One of their (stoicism’s) key psychological insights is that what harms you the most when you’ve been insulted, maybe by a racist or a sexist, is not the insult itself, but your reaction to that insult….
We are presently in the midst of a great human social experiment involving hate speech. The Stoics’ advice for targets of such speech is to toughen themselves up; they need to strengthen their psychological immune system.…
Lots of people reject this advice out of hand. Instead of encouraging people to toughen up, they tell them that they have every reason to be upset.
They might also provide them with “safe spaces’ in which they can recover from understandably devastating insults.
The stoics would argue that dealing with hate speech in this manger inadvertently undermines people’s psychological immune systems. Even worse, such actions can trigger a kind of downward spiral with respect to hate speech: the more people are protected from hearing offensive remarks, the more upsetting they find those remarks, and the more upsetting they find them, the more protection they need. The target of hate speech can thereby end up as the psychological equivalent of the Bubble Boy.”
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Department Of Mama Nature’s Psychedelics
Last Saturday and Sunday, we Oregonians had the rare opportunity to witness the aurora borealis, aka, the northern lights.
“A storm that started more than 92 million miles away is sending a spooky light show to skies above the Pacific Northwest…. a powerful solar flare left the sun on Thursday. Now charged particles are heading toward Earth… That’s likely to result in visible aurora borealis, or Northern Lights, in areas where the lights are rarely seen. The ghostly night-sky phenomenon, which at its brightest can fill dark skies with glowing, dancing sheets of translucent green and purple lights, occurs when electrons from the sun’s solar flares collide with the upper reaches of Earth’s atmosphere…. ( opb.org )
Of course, light pollution in our area (Portland Metro) bscured any view MH and I and other “space enthusiasts” might have gotten.
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Department Of Atmospheric Phenomenon Providing A Memory Segue
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away – when I was pregnant with That Who Would Become MH’s And My First Offspring ® – moiself made the mistake of sharing some of my baby-naming ideas with my mother.
We now pause for the following announcement.
Hear me, ye who are newly pregnant: do not share your baby name ideas with anyone other than your partner, unless you are actively seeking input (read: criticism) as to your choices. Because if anyone, especially the expectant grandparents, think there is a snowball’s chance in a California wildfire to change your mind, they will try. As a Stanford Hospital employee (the records clerk responsible for recording the newborn’s name on vital documents) told me, “Don’t tell *anyone* the name until it’s on the birth certificate – because until it’s on the certificate, *someone* will try to get you to change it to a name they think is sooooooo much better….”
The afore-mentioned mistake happened during a phone call with my mother, a few days before I’d received my amniocentesis results. Since my mother had asked I said yes, when we are contacted with the amnio results we would want to know everything, including the 23rd chromosome pair arrangement. MH and I had just begun to think about names; if the test showed we’d be having a girl, one of the names I was considering was Aurora.
I liked Aurora for several reasons. It can be a tough world for girl-childs, I told my mother, and being named for an awe-inspiring natural phenomenon – the aurora borealis! – is a sign of strength. Also, Aurora Dupin, the real name of the author George Sand, was a trail-blazing, stereotype-defying, 1800s French writer….  Aurora was my front runner for a girl, and if we chose that name we’d probably call her “Rory.”
My mother, born of Irish-Norwegian peasant stock, had royal blood when it came to her ability to indirectly express negative feelings rather than openly address them. Thus, my family’s Queen of Passive Aggression made her standard, “Oh, that’s interesting,” response to my Aurora story…which rolled right past me until she telephoned the very next day, and the following exchanged ensued.
“I’ve been thinking about your baby name choice,” my mother said.
“Do you know that the ‘R’ sound is the hardest sound for children to make – it’s usually the last consonant they learn to pronounce correctly.”
I asked her if that was a statement or a question, then reminded her that, yep, as one of the THREE of her four children whom she saw fit to give R names – ahem! – I was familiar with that phenomenon. I thought it was kinda cute that I was called ‘Wobyn’ by toddlers, my peers, kids I babysat – and even by my younger siblings, ‘Woofie’ (Ruthie) and “Wobert’ (Robert) – until they were old enough to master that devilish R consonant. So, her point would be…?
“I want you to go stand in front of a mirror,” she said. “Then look at your mouth, and what happens to your face, when you say, ‘Rory.’ “
Holy fucking non-issue, moiself marveled. She’s apparently/actually done this. She stood in front of her mirror, and did this.
I concentrated on keeping my tone as gentle as possible (more gentle than she deserved), but also as firm as the reply demanded:
“Mom, I want *you* to go stand in front of a mirror,
and look what happens to your face when you say, ‘Buttinsky.’ “
There were no further baby name suggestions (or discussions) between us.
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Punz For The Day
Baby Names Edition
Seriously, you’re going to name your son, Almondine?
Seriously, you’re going to name your daughter, Cintronella?
Seriously, you’re going to name your baby, Insurrection?
Seriously, you’re going to name your baby, R.E.M.?
You must be dreaming.
Seriously, you’re going to name your baby, KenKen?
That’s puzzling. 
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May you, some day, be able to see both the aurora borealis and king tides;
May you never have an occasion to look in the mirror and say, Buttinsky;
May the Baby Sloth Wearing Magic Pajamas Of Reconciliation be of comfort to you;
…and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
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 Not his real name. Not even close.
 And as far as this public statement of mine (blogging about this) goes, moiself is 99% certain they do not read this blog.
 for holding a grudge against his parents, who are just sitting there, posting alone in the dark, oy vey….
 Disclosure: I have not watched the special in its entirety; just clips.
 I have seen several phobic reactions, including this memorable one: I had to help a friend to the floor and raise her legs, when she began to hyperventilate at just the suggestion that my child might consider getting a pet tarantula (and keep it in the garage, in a covered terrarium, when the spider-phobic friend came over, so she would never see it). She was horribly embarrassed by her reaction, which she realized was over the top and irrational…but that’s what makes it a phobia. Quite different from the many people who don’t like spiders or “bugs” but who don’t turn into a quivering mass of quasi-sentient protoplasm at just the *mention* of them.
 who, like most if not all women writers of that time, had to use a male pen name in order for her work to be published.