Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Evangelicalism and legitimate rape

I've only begun the brain-based aggregation process I sometimes do on "news of the day" with this Rep. Akin statement on "legitimate rape" and how women's magical vaginas cause rape-induced pregnancies to be "rare," but I wanted to share this article, specifically to point out two of the most mind-blowingly accurate sentences on evangelicalism and its relationship to women and to society at large and to ME, ever written.

 Soraya Chemaly writes "These people aren't pro-life. They're pro-pain. Pain central to redemption."

 Pro-PAIN. Because pain is central to redemption.


And that's why, even though I consider myself against abortion, and even though as far as I can tell (having never been raped, and being a relatively well-off white American woman currently enjoying a stable relationship), I wouldn't have an abortion myself, I find almost 100% of the rhetoric of anti-abortion activists (and armchair activists, people who "just have an opinion, and it shouldn't bother anyone" because of free speech, etc. etc.) alarming, intensely irritating, and potentially extremely dangerous.

I'd thought it was because so much of it just refuses to trust women.

Refuses, that is, to let women say how they're feeling, and to know and say what would be best for them, for their embodied selves. Refuses to even give women the space to SAY "I'd rather not be having this baby," and refuses to trust that they might then think, and then say, "but I will, anyway" -- and when they don't, DEFINITELY refuses to allow them to say "I can't do it."

"You'll do it," the rhetoric retorts, "AND YOU'LL LIKE IT."

Just like a rapist might say, actually. That's the trouble. Rhetorically, you're kind of in a bind when it comes to rape if you've already overridden a woman's right to self-determination and dominion over her body in other areas, areas where you feel you definitely "know better" than she does.

But that's all obvious, and it's a perspective available to any Women's Studies 101 student.

What blew my mind was the depth of understanding, the revelation, of Chemaly's statement on religious suffering.

I'm still parsing it out in my exploded mind, but the need for suffering before redemption is obvious in evangelical theology -- so obvious that part of my reaction to the statement was shock and chagrin that I'd never thought about it in exactly that way before. It was like being told that I've been surrounded by air this whole time. And it made me realize a few additional things about myself.

1. I've always been obsessed with suffering. Most of my childhood experiences become "real" through a recollection of the pain associated with them. And the fact that so many of them were painful probably helped drive me toward that obsession.

2. This explains why, in my current life, which includes far less other-induced suffering (I still castigate myself occasionally, and carry a lot of needless suffering in my muscles), I'm much less obsessed with redemption than I used to be.

3. It also explains why I've felt certain for years that if I encountered true suffering again in my life, particularly bodily suffering -- though emotional suffering always brings the body along with it; so much emotional pain becomes or feels like physical sickness -- I'd likely go back to the church. It explains why I feel the main way to prevent this backsliding from backsliding is to build up new mental processes that help me cope with suffering and use perspectives on life that don't involve evangelical magical thinking.

4. It explains why I feel "magical thinking" is a useful concept, and essentially accurate, when I think or speak or write about evangelicalism.

5. It also explains so much about political realities in America right now.

Evangelicalism itself has ceased to make sense to me as a religious identity in conjunction with what has obviously also been and become a political identity. In my current life, I've come to think of evangelicalism as a political identity, almost exclusively.

But it also doesn't make SENSE as a political identity alone. WHY do all these people need to control, to squash, to assert opinions? It doesn't make any sense. It makes even less sense if they're referring to themselves as "libertarians" at the same time.

Add in this one idea -- that suffering builds character, that it's necessary for redemption, that the whole world must be redeemed, THEREFORE THE WHOLE WORLD MUST SUFFER -- and the underground, unconscious logic of it all slips easily into place.

It's scary. It's far scarier than a completely incoherent political identity. And Chemaly is right: it IS a war on critical thinking and democracy as well as a war, incidentally, on women.

If I'm going to pray about this, I think it will be one of the first times I've actually actively prayed against evangelicals. I hope a non-magical, non-women-hating, critical thinking God is up there listening somewhere.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

My commentary on "Chik-Fil-A Appreciation Day"

I have finally come to hate, really really hate, people who oppose same-sex marriage.

I feel just the way I do upon seeing those movie characters who over and over abuse a beloved protagonist, who misinterpret all events and actions as if they were the narcissistic center of the universe -- as if that comment was meant to hurt ME -- who deny any wrongdoing because THEY'RE actually the ones being persecuted; I feel consumed by hate for them.

I keep telling myself that hate is the problem, people aren't the problem, and if we could just all sit down and have honest conversations with each other, we'd be able to just LET OTHER PEOPLE LIVE THEIR OWN LIVES and STOP TRYING TO CONTROL THEM ALL THE TIME, but it does not seem like that is happening.

Instead, it seems like Christians are getting stupider. Willfully, disgustingly stupider.

Not realizing that participating in consumerism to reward a fast food chain for taking a political stance is a DISASTER, from a gospel perspective. From an American perspective. From any kind of democratic perspective. That it hurts people they claim to love ("hate the sin, love the sinner!"), and that their claims to have the "less hateful" protest are ridiculous, because they're the ones with the power.

Even a fraction of hate from the majority will kill you, has killed LGBT people, will kill them again. The full force of gay fury has yet to produce the kind of violence against the majority that one careless word can unleash against LGBT individuals.

It's not an even playing field. STOP PRETENDING CHRISTIANS ARE LOSING because they no longer have ALL the points.

SHARE, you pricks.

These Christians don't seem to realize that in fifty years, when people look back on this -- I hope to be one of them -- they will see these kinds of protests as anathema. As much as school segregation and Jim Crow seem to us now.

They will look back vaguely concerned that this history is so recent, that people could have been that cruel and dumb, that anyone could have thought a corporation funding hate groups (look it up; the issue is not the statement on supporting traditional marriage) was a GOOD thing. That somehow a 4 billion dollar fast food restaurant that feeds people chicken needed DEFENDING. And CIVIC ENGAGEMENT -- the kind that is NEVER, EVER exercised on behalf of good social programs -- can be freely wasted on making sure some CEO guy doesn't get yelled at too much for bigotry and that he gets to have his franchise open up in whatever fucking city he wants it in.

They will arrogantly look back at us from the future and see how stupid we were, and they will be right.

Let's hope that by the time we get there, we haven't ruined the planet with fossil fuels and overpopulation and our horrible, intractable stupidity.

Friday, July 20, 2012

In Which We Hate on Gay-Haters

I was up for a good outrage, so I decided to click on this Room for Debate NYTimes blog link that shows a "debate" over the recent reiteration by Boy Scouts of America that gay men and boys aren't welcome as leaders or as scouts.

I was disappointed in my search for something outrageous, but encouraged in my hope for fellow humans when I found that even the "dissenting" views pretty much just said it's reprehensible that this is an issue for the organization. Heck, the guy from the Cato Institute only spent half a sentence defending the Boy Scouts organization's right to keep whoever they want out -- the same amount of space he spent mentioning that allowing girls to join the club in Canada had seemed unfortunate to him -- then spent the entire rest of his short article saying what a shame it is that they're discriminating, because whether you're gay or straight is not the POINT of the Boy Scouts.

This actually read as a response to the Boy Scout organizational leaders' response, which amounted to "we don't deal with sexuality in the Boy Scouts and also it's none of your business why we're excluding members and leaders based on their orientations." The "none of your business" vibe was un-mysteried by another commenter who mentioned that a large portion of funding for the organization comes from the Mormon and Roman Catholic churches, two of the only large organizations (evangelicals are a much larger political force, but less "an organization" than a movement/politico-religious identity) left in America that might want discrimination against gays to continue.

And in nicer news, the Camp Fire USA representative didn't even bother MENTIONING the Boy Scouts in her article about how Camp Fire is and always has been based on inclusion, even if it makes people uncomfortable. She mentioned that it's unfortunate that people of certain religious beliefs don't make it into the Camp Fire circle, because they would certainly be welcomed, and their absence makes everyone poorer in experience and opportunity to grow.

So in the end, what was apparently meant to read as debate ended up sounding a lot like an elegy for the Boy Scouts, complete with a very helpful pointer toward an organization that sounds like it's ably poised to continue the good aspects of Boy Scout traditions -- plus some better ones of its own.

Good for us. I guess I'll have to go check out some other internet site today if I'm still looking for that blood-pressure-spike fix.

Monday, July 9, 2012

"In Which We Hate On Condoms"

I really kind of wish this article had been CALLED "In Which We Hate On Condoms," and then written in a Ben-Franklin-ish vernacular, because form really should follow function. And the function of this article is to espouse old-tyme views of things in what was supposed to be a new-tyme era. At the very least, they could have hosted it on angelfire just to give us some kind of heads-up.

So while Rush Limbaugh being a dunder-headed, empty-bucket-brain, loser-type guy a few months back warranted only my Facebook contempt, I thought Continue Unprotected was probably the natural location for a rant on "How Condoms Ruin Sex." Here follows said rant.

Spoiler alert: These people think that condoms ruin sex, in the way that people who don't vaccinate think that vaccines ruin kids. I think they're all dumb.

I was willing to be convinced by some kind of science, if there was any...or, alternately, I was willing to respect the simple message that "hey, we just don't like condoms, and we're hippie-types who enjoy free love and spirituality, and condoms are unnatural and what-have-you." Instead, the "reasons" presented by the article are semi-science-y and semi-wishy-washy-emotional ones -- the kind of "common sense" that American white people are always trying to get you to buy because it makes their manifest destiny seem more manifest.

The basic arguments come down to this one idea: that women's health relies on semen. Specifically, that semen provides women with essential anti-depressing hormones, that women's infertility is "heal[ed]" by semen, that semen contains essential vitamins and minerals (as part of your balanced breakfast). Women who have unprotected sex with their husbands like sex more than women who are having condom-using sex. They want to do it more.

Wait, is that really right?

Um, no. This is one case where "common sense" makes "scientific" turn into "science-y"...as so often happens when evangelicalism meets the world of facts.

In Fact World, there are a jillion cases of this "scienceyness" happening, but let's focus only on the most annoying, starting with the premise that women who don't use protection like sex a lot more than women who do use it (or who, with their partners, have men who use it).

1. First, the only women who are supposed to be having any sex are the married ones, according to 1flesh. Let's get that out of the way...except that it doesn't really get out of the way. What it does is guarantee that the populations being studied here are necessarily slanted, not equivalent (and not controlled, like a real science experiment would be). We can't compare women in monogamous, long-term relationships (the ones supposed to like sex more and be having it without condoms) to ALL OTHER WOMEN and then rate their satisfaction with their relationships on the exact factor of condom use.

Women who are choosing not to use protection are either 1. free spirits who have decided, or decided not to decide, that protection isn't important for them, or 2. in a monogamous relationship, one that can sustain an unplanned pregnancy or that has a guarantee of no STIs. There's also 3. women trying actively to have babies.

The final option is women who are stupid, but I'm not going to bother listing that here because then this post would be four words long -- and you know how I love a good rant. Those are the ladies out there who are barebacking all the time. (Further others include sex workers, addicts, etc. -- but how many people from that strata of society do YOU think were interviewed for 1flesh?)

Women who use protection are all the other women who are sexually active in any way: Women who paid attention in school. Women who know they can get diseases even if their partner claims it's his first time. Women who have more than one partner, ever, over the course of their lives. Women who don't want kids; women who do want kids, but not right now. Women who think. All KINDS of women.

Which of those 2 sets of people do YOU think are probably less depressed on the whole? The happy mamas-to-be who found their Princes Charming, or all the other women in the world?

Do you honestly think it's the physical effect of the SEMEN making that first category of women happier??

2. As for the claims that semen "heals" infertility: yes, it does. THAT'S CALLED PREGNANCY.

To my knowledge, the scientific community hasn't yet discovered a way for a lady to get pregnant without sperm. Let me know when it does, and I'll update this post to make a more cogent argument -- until then, it should COMPLETELY SUFFICE TO SAY that of COURSE semen "heals" infertility. Because that's how you get pregnant. Duh-DOY.

I suppose that argument might hold some water if I'd ever met or known or heard of anyone, ever, in the history of the world, anywhere, ever, who wanted to have children but was somehow still using condoms during sex with her potentially co-parenting partner. And then claimed she was infertile.

If such a person exists, they don't need to have their infertility healed -- they need to have it made permanent.

3. Yes, I'm willing to agree without doing any research whatsoever to the idea that semen contains all kinds of good nutrients and what-have-yous. I will cede that point entirely to the non-condom-users.

You know why? Because there's an even better source of all those things in the world that don't involve unprotected sex.


4. Let's say semen is as wonderful and magical as 1flesh claims it is.

Why shouldn't we all go out and have as much sex as we can? (Using the rhythm method prescribed by the site, obvs.)

If you have religious or moral objections, why not sell it as a product?? I'm sure we could find a manufacturer to package it, and don't begin to tell me there isn't sufficient willingness among men to help supply us sad, sad ladies with the pick-me-up we so desperately need!

If women are gaining chemically based physical happiness from semen, it's irresponsible of us to be denying it to anyone. So unless there are actually other, MORE COMPLEX reasons that ladies in non-condom-using relationships are happier overall, let's make this vital resource available to everyone.

5. Let's talk about that rhythm method.

There's a comment on the site that this particular method is 96.5% effective in the real world, and that women who start using it are still using it a year later, more often than women who start using birth control are still using birth control a year later.

The method involves abstaining from sex for between 8-11 days a month to prevent pregnancy.

Think about everyone you know who could say "yeah, I could do that." Then ask yourself if that isn't EXACTLY the type of person you'd expect to still be doing pretty much ANYTHING they'd decided on, a year later. They're determined. They have the willpower of a mule...or, again, they're stupid and don't know themselves well at all. (Other possibilities are that they're asexual, have a low libido to begin with, etc.)

Again, there's no control group here. People self-select out of this method.

6. Now I want to talk about some things not discussed at all in this article:

Misogyny: I think it's inherent in the implication that men's semen is fundamentally important to a woman's well-being, and even in the implication that a woman "needing" her man('s penis) is an automatic good in the relationship.

Gay Men: Um, they do exist, so why aren't they discussed here? Because they're not supposed to be having sex at all? Why are the ONLY benefits discussed ONLY about how men's emissions affect female partners in P-in-V sex?

Lesbians: Again, nonexistent. Maybe the reason their relationships are sinful (a word carefully not mentioned here, but it's implied by context) is because they're literally being depressed by each other's lack of sperm.

Non-"vanilla" sex: If semen is such an awesome thing, why is there no discussion of non-P-in-V sex? Surely oral and anal will do the job for ladies sick of the Prozac, just as well if not better, right? While the magical semen idea is strewn all over the article, there's only a heavy implication (through omission of other body parts) that vaginas are also magical, and can do things for ladies that other non-mentioned body parts can't.

The weirdest thing to not discuss, to me, is the philosophical underpinning of the movement. Traditionally, you'd be told not to use birth control because GOD is in charge of your life and fertility, and because sex is for procreation.

SEX IS FOR MAKING BABIES. That is the crux of every cogent anti-birth-control argument I've ever heard.

This set of arguments doesn't include that bit. It treats sex like a good end in itself, even without the resulting children.

But then it doesn't follow through and explain WHY sex is good, separated from its fullest natural context, in which having it means having kids. And that is seriously problematic in a website dedicated to how "the natural way" is better.

Don't take little bits of the sexual revolution and cobble them into your subculture; really think about what you're saying and why. Is "natural" (vanilla, P-in-V, one-man-one-woman, married, non-condom-using) sex really "the best"? Why would you need to prove that to anyone other than your intimate partner?

And what do you mean by "natural" and "best"???

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Comment on China and Mao.

It's been awhile, 3 readers. It's not that I haven't been accomplishing things and even writing a bit -- it's mainly that I haven't been writing anything really annoying that would fit the purported tone of the blog.

And then there was this. It's 10 photos of kids from various countries and their bedrooms. It's a very enlightening set of pictures.

Unlike the comments, which are mostly very unenlightening.

Of course, when I see a bunch of junk on the internet, I have to jump in and start talking back to it. I'm pretty much helpless troll bait.

One person said "The one that struck me was the one in China, with the pic on the wall. How sad that child has to live like that because of that scumbag dictator, Mao. Not sure if that is him on the poster(actually, that guy looks too clean,) but the gov of that country is sick. What an awful depiction of propoganda."

Here's a reply comment from Mike:

"It’s no different than pictures of Jesus or the pope being on the wall. Or a picture of some roided out sports star who makes 60 million a year for that matter. The fact you aren’t even sure if it’s Mao or not underlines the fact you have no idea what you are talking about. You have no idea if that child is happy or unhappy. Many of the children I encountered while living in China for over 3 years were far happier than in the U.S. or Canada."

The reply (from a third person) to Mike:

Mike, I would not in any way compare the dictator of China, or a sports star anywhere on the same bookshelf… let alone sentence, as Jesus or the Pope.
The meaning behind those symbolic figures are very different, all are symbolic yes, maybe in China they view their dictators much differently, although I am not inclined to believe they feel towards them the same feelings as those towards a religious figure.
I do not say this in an effort to offend, or prove wrong. I am only stating my opinon on what you said, and that again I will say is highly uneducated in the lifestyle of the Chinese.
Although, I agree with your other statement about how can we make a judgement on their lifestyle, especially not knowing their background or day to day surroundings.

And here's my reply:

I also lived in China for 2 years, and I agree with Mike.

Mao is dead, and except for obligatory homage to the communist party and Mao as its leader, China's basically a socialist/capitalist country now. Pictures of Mao might still be easy to find, but it's harder to find his ideas in circulation.

But I'm not even offering this as an "it's okay now because Mao is dead" disclaimer. Consider, please, that even though Mao easily fits the description of "dictator" that we throw around in non-democratic contexts, China before Mao was actually run by an actual monarchic/dynastic system. Just like Europe was. All those kings were dictators, except with theoretical gods on their sides (whereas communist dictators didn't have gods/God). Our history (assuming "we" are white Americans, which is a stretch) is DEFINITELY no exception to the history of dictatorship. Just because it's more familiar to us doesn't mean it wasn't brutal and dictatorial.

I mean, has anybody here ever heard of the communist Chinese enslaving an entire race of people to do their manual labor? Because I haven't. Anybody ever heard of Chinese people gathering up millions of people they hated for no reason and killing them in death camps? No? Me neither. (Okay, that last one was Germany, but see also George Takei's recent work on the Japanese internment camps in American during WWII. It's shocking.)

What's more, we (Americans) have been propping up dictators and putting them into power around the world for decades. (Remember Saddam? The U.S. more or less installed him as head bad guy of Iraq. And gave him a bunch of weapons.)

Chinese people might not have all chosen Mao, and there have certainly been atrocities there. (Atrocities have happened here, too, and somehow we don't blame our government for all of them...or we do only if it's the other party in power.) But there WERE ideals behind the cultural revolution. And they weren't inferior to the ideals behind Western political, social or religious movements, just because they weren't Western.

Think about it from another perspective: Mao and the Gang of Four might have controlled China through part of the 20th century, but popes have controlled people around the WORLD for CENTURIES -- millennia even. It's been a pretty peaceful reign lately, but tell that to those living during the Crusades. And in a way, missionaries attempting to convert the natives were the harbingers of globalization, which has improved the luck of many countries (like the U.S.) and led to modern poverty for others, stratifying the world economically on a global scale -- in a way that's totally unfair and that causes philosophies like communism to start making sense.

I'd agree that Mao and the popes/Jesus aren't remotely similar in their impact on people throughout the world, in other words: from a gross numbers perspective, Jesus/popes' followers have had far more negative impact on the world over the millennia.

Of course, most followers aren't like that. Putting up Jesus/pope pictures don't mean that people are lauding the Crusades when they post them.

Just like Chinese people aren't saying "hey, didn't you love those atrocities?" when they post up pictures of Mao.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Accusations XIX

My FB friend who CONTINUALLY writes status updates that show that he doesn't believe in vaccinations for his infant child, even though it's clear he decided they wouldn't vaccinate over a year ago during the pregnancy. What makes this most annoying is not only that the decision was made long ago, not only that his sources are fringe science on the internet, not only that he's clearly trying to convince others to also not vaccinate their kids, but that he insists somehow that he's still "looking for the truth" and "trying to find evidence that vaccines work -- but just can't."

Try looking at the entire rest of the internet, or medical science, dude.

Facebook, for not allowing me to select out of my feed status updates from this particular friend that contain the word "vaccine" and still see the occasional non-vaccine-related updates.

Fox News, which by calling themselves "fair and balanced" have brought the meanings of all possible words into question and furthered the ability of people who find fringe groups to shore up their a priori beliefs, to consider themselves "mainstream" despite their obvious fringiness.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Confessions XLVII

I find that accomplishing things, for me, means juggling distractions: that is, I carefully select from the list of things to do at least one thing that needs doing vitally, urgently, NOW, and a few other things that not only don't need doing now, but may never need to be done.

I then throw them all up in the air and keep them all going until I get tired and have to take a nap.

This keeps me from the crushing, guilty knowledge that the Thing That Needs Doing hadn't been done when it should have been (and somehow it never, ever was), and allows me to focus on things that otherwise might never have gotten my proper attention -- which is to say, that sideways, peripheral attention that allows an honors student perfectionist to do something creative, despite herself.

Over the years, I've been in the process of realizing this. But in the fashion of the exact way that I'm describing, this way of doing things, I've only come onto the knowledge out of the corner of my eye, and slowly, and all while juggling.

...such that getting better at this juggling act has become a thing I'm accomplishing by itself, intrinsically, through apprenticeship -- through that strange and unfortunate self-apprenticeship that no non-perfectionist knows of, but that all arrogant, high-achieving types understand. We must re-invent every wheel.

An initial, accidental talent at juggling leads to more practice at it, which leads to more juggling. And crowds might sometimes gather and praise the achievements, without ever really understanding that I juggle because my hands don't work in other ways, because I've warped them to know only this task, because I can't hold things like they (apparently) can.

The only things that matter to me are the things that are still in motion.

My mind is nimble, but it never rests.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Thing I Love #20

Thing I Love #19

Thing I Love #18

I don't know this couple, but look how cute. It's sad to me that I found this at the Goodwill.

Thing I Love #17

Thing I Love #16

The WTF podcast with Marc Maron

Thing I Love #15

I have two of these. This pattern of cheese plate follows me through Goodwills, which is nice because it's my favorite one -- and I own a lot of cheese-related dishware.

Thing I Love #14

This article, pointed out by friend Jenny, on how awesome a show Community is.

Thing I Love #13

Thing I Love #12

Thing I Love #11

David Sedaris reading any of his work...but in honor of the Christmas season, "Santaland Diaries."

Thing I Love #10

This will eventually have candy in it. Perhaps lemon drops. Yellow is my favorite color dishware.

Thing I Love #9

Kumail Nanjiani talking about Benjamin Button.

Here's him talking about crazy people on the train in NYC and riding the Cyclone on Coney Island. Go ahead and watch his bit about a "new drug" called "cheese," too. And his thoughts about Heavy Rain, a video game I've seen played -- it is as depressing as it sounds -- and, heck, everything he says that's been recorded on youtube. (His show stuff is better than his David Letterman appearance, where he's obvious nervous and does the same material, but not as well.)

Thing I Love #8

Thing I Love #7

Despite my love for 30 Rock, this article about how Parks & Rec is better.

Thing I Love #6

Thing I Love #5

"Regional Holiday Music," or any episode of Community season 3.

Thing I Love #4

Thing I Love #3

Animals Talking in All Caps

Thing I Love #2

Thing I Love #1

Here's a website about Ryan Gosling being super super supportive of your Etsy shop.

It's awesome.

Happy New Year!

Happy impending new year, everyone. I, for one, will be glad to see the new year come.

In the meantime, feast your eyeballs on some of the things I've been loving lately.

PSA: Etsied

So obviously I've been up to other stuff that isn't this blog. There are SO MANY THINGS THAT HAVE HAPPENED IN THE LAST TWO MONTHS, but most of them aren't things I'm writing about here.

They include re-dating P.C., my car dying and my trying to find a new car, my finding a new car and subsequent signing of many documents indenturing me to a credit union (they seem nice, though, so they probably won't have me building pyramids or anything), going on many, many trips to see various friends, and applying to new jobs that might not kill cars so quickly.

Some of those things are things I've been writing plenty about on Facebook -- like my Etsy store opening, which I suppose is the point of this post, and which indirectly leads to my next several photo posts, because I've learned to take better digital photos as a result of having to make product photos.

Here's my shop.

Monday, November 28, 2011

New word: Secondy-first

adj. The second time for a "first" of something, when it happens; i.e., going on a "first date" for a second time with the same person after an interval of separation, as in "P.C. and I went on our secondy-first date tonight." Follows numerically (ordinal) with secondy-second, secondy-third, secondy-fourth, etc.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Web 12.0

New spam-mail from Skype:

"Adriana Sumner friended you on MySpace."

If the A.I. revolution really begins with Skype gossiping to me about what's going on in my nonexistent MySpace page using a verb I'm pretty sure is only relevant to Facebook, I think we're gonna be okay.

We'll also be guilty of having created one of the dumbest intelligences since Real Housewives came on the air, but at least it's not going to go all "Hal from 2001" on us. It will need us as fodder for gossip the way the Morlocks needed the Eloi for food, or the Matrix overlord dudes needed humans for...whatever that was.

Imagine if the cylons hadn't been able to resist gossiping aboard Battlestar Galactica. Shortest. Series. Ever. ("Who's collaborating with you guys? Gaius Baltar? What a jerk! If you bring him here to me right now I'll let you watch me send him out the airlock, and you can tell all your friends.")

Local Trivia: So THAT'S how that happens.

About two weeks ago, I was driving up a local road when a squirrel ventured out, crossing by fits and starts the way squirrels in that neighborhood always do. (I've also seen the "mad dash" method in other areas, but never on this high-squirrel-mortality street.)

As I got closer, I noticed he had one of those tiny, perfectly formed gourd pumpkins in his mouth, probably from someone's porch -- which, when I honked the horn, he promptly dropped exactly in the middle of the road before running off. I guess it was just too much of a liability to risk trying to carry it the rest of the way, what with the car barreling down on him at 12 mph. Probably a good call.

If I were this tiny pumpkin's owner, I would have been mystified to find my little gourd set perfectly on the yellow line somewhere down the street.

But now if it ever happens to one of us, dear readers, we'll know how.

Local Trivia: Sign out front for pest control company comma ones I would hire

The only
thing you
have to
fear is
fear itself

And spiders

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Cat-lady names











Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Non-local Trivia: Pushing Daisies' family tree

Here are some of the delightful guest stars that have appeared in the also-delightful show, Pushing Daisies, who have also appeared in other delightful shows:

Mo Collins, as Sister LaRue in "Bad Habits" also appears as Joan Callamezzo in Parks and Recreation. She's also been on Modern Family and Arrested Development.

Andrea Parker, as Emerson's young mom in "Frescorts," was also Miss Parker on The Pretender. She was also on ER for several episodes in the early years and My Name Is Earl.

Hayley McFarland, as Nicki in "Circus Circus," is also Emily Lightman on the prematurely cancelled Lie To Me and appeared in an episode of Criminal Minds as well as ER.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

PSA: Whitney is terrible and I agree with this.

Here's an article about how the new NBC sitcom Whitney is terrible, and doesn't belong in the otherwise stellar NBC Thursday-night comedy lineup. (Though it does make my Thursday night commute to work, always started at 9:30 p.m., much more enjoyable, since I know that I'm not missing anything I'd ever want to see on television.)

I was going to write my own post about Whitney and how it's terrible, and I could still be tempted to wax complainant in the future, but this is well-written and I already complain about Whitney a whole lot in real life. So enjoy.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

PSA: No, they don't, headline.

"Women Consider Plastic Surgery as Early as Age 10"

Ten-year-olds are not women. They're girls.

Local Trivia: Random books I got from the library and intend to read fully

Spaceman Blues: A Love Song by Brian Francis Slattery -- From the science fiction section, and written by a guy living (or who was living at time of publication) in New Haven, CT, this book seems short (219 pgs) and (unrelatedly) Pynchonesque, as it was described on the back cover. For me, this means it reads like a lot of really tiny vignettes strung together as the protagonist looks all over the place for a guy who mysteriously disappeared.

But there's promise of the apocalypse to come, so I'm sticking with it despite that it skiffs along over an ocean of material rather than diving in like my fave-book-of-all-time, Middlemarch. And since it's more than 500 pgs shorter than Middlemarch, I think it will be worth my time.

Pick it up if: you think the apocalypse is interesting (or on its way), but want to read about it in a new voice; you like Thomas Pynchon's Crying of Lot 49; you like the work of sci fi don Damon Knight, particularly his wry sense of humor and timing and the way his writing appears to goad Asimov's somehow; you can find it in your local library or think it sounds worth $5.18 (or $10 for the e-reader version); you like criminal procedurals like Law & Order, but wish they would sometimes be more creative.

Everything Matters! by Ron Currie, Jr. -- From the fiction section, written by a guy who'd won critical acclaim for his short story collection God Is Dead. The hyperbolic title is what made me pick this one up. Really? Everything? But the quick writing drew me in more deeply and immediately than Spaceman Blues, and intriguingly, it starts out in second person voice, which only one other novel I've read has done (A Prayer for the Dying by Stewart O'Nan). It shifts out of second person after the first chapter (much like Complicity by Iain Banks), but by then you're hooked.

Again about the apocalypse -- remember, I chose these at random and didn't choose any others, so perhaps it's a sign -- this book tells the story of a kid born knowing when the world would come to an end, who apparently then struggles to know what's worth doing, what's potentially history-changing, and what's significant, and what isn't any of those. I'm only a few chapters in, so I can't guarantee this, but my money is on the idea that what matters is "everything."

Pick it up if: you're intrigued by possible uses of second-person; you're intrigued by oracles, and their use in literature; you think the apocalypse is interesting (or on its way), but want to read about it in a new voice; you can find it at your library or think it might be worth $10.38 (hardcover); you're invested in stories of families, like The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen, but are worried there aren't any other ways to tell a traditional story without being either Jonathan Franzen or extremely boring.

Absurdistan: A Novel by Gary Shteyngart -- On CD. I haven't listened to any of it yet, but who doesn't love a book on tape? They keep going through the boring parts, and you can listen to them in the car, if you've got a tape or CD player and you're not obsessed with Marc Maron's WTF podcast like one of us definitely is. (It's me. You should check him out.)

I picked up this book because it was on a featured display, and because I own (but like so many books, have not yet read) Shteyngart's The Russian Debutante's Handbook, which won awards, and interesting ones like the National Jewish Book Award for Fiction. It's 12 hrs long, but if the reader's any good (like Jim Dale for the Harry Potter books on CD, or Stephen Fry for The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy) that time will fly by. We'll see.

Pick it up if: you want to beat me in reading a book I seem to be recommending, because who knows when I'll get to it, and then possibly lord it over me; you're interested in either Leningrad, where Gary Shteyngart was born, or the comedy show Laugh In, where the reader Arte Johnson won his Emmy; if you're taking a long car ride; if you can find it at your local library or think it might be worth $24.49 through Audible (or $10-15 in book form).

*Also note that these reviews of books I either haven't read or have read bits of, contain recommendations of actual books I have read and enjoyed. Do what you will with that information. Let me know how it goes.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Local "Trivia": Things that happened since Aug 5, and how they seemed

I learned that my brother had found my blog and told my mom about it, though he never contacted me or commented here -- ominous.

I closed this blog to the public and decided to make a "constellation of blogs" instead/in addition, which are still a work in progress, so that the MFHTDWF and Quantifiable Living, for instance, can have their own foci in their own internet searchable "spaces" -- like evidence of paranoia, but hopeful.

I learned two salient facts that made my previously formed plan to drive my mother and all her stuff and birds down to Florida (since she's moving there for Sept 1) unworkable, which were 1. that my brother's health restrictions meant he could only drive during the day and needed to sleep in a motel bed each night and 2. my mother expected her ten birds to be partially uncovered in the rental car I was going to drive down following the truck -- somewhat frustrating.

I imparted the following facts to my mother and brother: 1. I'd anticipated driving over the night, not day, and so P.C. was working during the day they'd intended to leave, and 2. since I'm allergic to birds, I would not be driving a car with partially uncovered cages -- like a logic-puzzle brain teaser.

While at work in the midst of a 55-hour work week, I got yelled at via telephone by my brother, who hung up on me because I was "changing the plan at the last minute" -- overkill.

I set up a "family meeting" to discuss possible solutions with my mom -- dreadful.

I listened to mom and my brother discuss what various airlines serve for food nowadays on flights, for ten minutes, as I sat waiting to begin the discussion of the plan -- excruciatingly boring.

I suggested the "new" plan, which took all restrictions into consideration (that mom and brother drive the bird car down at their own pace during the day; that P.C. and I leave with the truck late at night and arrive at the same time or before they would in Florida) -- the only reasonable option.

I got yelled at -- abusive.

I got yelled at a lot more -- abusive.

I refused to discuss in detail what allergy medications I would take that could theoretically mitigate my bird allergy, which I'd already stated I'd be doing in any case, repeatedly -- futile.

I refused to point out that no one else's restrictions were a point of argument, because health concerns were not up for debate -- futile.

I got yelled at -- abusive.

I was impugned for "interrupting everyone all the time," told to "shut up," told I was "holding the family hostage," told I needed to "think of the family" and told I had "control issues" (which explained why I was needlessly "changing the plan" three weeks before the move and the first time details had ever been discussed, aka "at the last minute") -- frustrating and abusive.

I got a text of support from P.C. -- comforting.

I got a text from my brother telling me that I "knew" they had already "caved into your demands!" and that I was "interrupting everyone all the time!" and that I was "so rude and disrespectful!" and that I needed to "go back to your Mom/FAMILY and work it out!" -- funny, because the name didn't appear initially and in the context of P.C.'s supportive text, it seemed an obvious satire sent by one of my friends.

I realized my family, when it's working most efficiently and as it's been designed to, is a crap factory, producing nothing but a pile of useless crap to hurl around, and that my refusal to question anyone's health concerns, refusal to name-call (hurl crap), and flexibility in offering another, better plan to supplant the first unworkable one, was a betrayal of Crap Factory ethos -- as a metaphor, illuminating to me, invisible though enraging to them.

My mom decided to re-price a POD, which came out to about the same cost as the truck -- so relieving.

The new plan was formed, for brother and mother to drive the bird car down, and P.C. and I to fly down, help unpack the POD, and drive the car back up to avoid the one-way fee -- also relieving.

My mom asked if I could rent the rental car on my credit card and she'd pay me back, and I agreed -- neutral.

She said to rent it from Tuesday - Tuesday -- agreeable, but flawed, as my original plan had included us leaving late on Tuesday and the new plan necessitated renting the car early Tuesday morning.

I said we'd need to rent it until the following Wednesday at 8 a.m., because driving back up from Florida in two days on Labor Day weekend left no guarantee we'd get it back by Tuesday at 8 a.m., and hourly late fees are heftier than the extra day's fee -- reasonable to me, extortion to her.

My mom "put her foot down" about the car rental, stating if it got back a day late, I would need to pay the extra day -- reasonable and disciplinary to her, ridiculous to me, the one who was supposedly reserving the car I wouldn't be paid back for.

I realized that I'd become invisible as a separate person in the process, and instead had become a body to be used however the Crap Factory dictated -- stressful.

I realized that it had become assumed, somehow, that despite my efforts to help as a favor, and despite all evidence to the contrary, I would be treated as an enemy in this endeavor, and that helping would be treated like it was my job -- illuminating

I quit the fake "job," which included unreasonable demands and was costing me a week's pay even without a rental car charge -- the only reasonable response.

P.C. decided he'd had enough and texted my mom that he was no longer available to help -- relieving in comparison to previous stress levels, but stressful in its own way.

P.C. and I had a sushi dinner -- good, but lacking in comparison to our usual sushi place.

I took the weekend "off" of family, finishing my work week with a 25-hour residential shift on Saturday/Sunday -- relieving, but still tense.

I had to watch the Glee 3D concert movie during that shift -- absurd.

I made sure to recharge my "normal" shields so as to be able to interact with Crap Factory workers "normally" after the previous week, which is the only way to try to trigger normal instead of pathological reactions -- difficult, but familiar.

I showed up at my mom's apartment to help begin loading the POD on Monday morning -- "normal" (shield)

The new plan was for brother and mother to rent the bird car one way, incur the one-way fees, and attempt to move things in from the POD on their own -- dumb, but now necessary.

It turned out she was mad at P.C. for texting because "you should call in those situations" -- baffling, but not worth the effort to understand or argue about.

I was told I "shouldn't have gone whining" to P.C. -- "normal" (Factory talk)

I said I hadn't -- "normal" (shield)

I helped load the POD -- slow and allergy-inducing.

I witnessed my mom standing in front of me in the kitchen say, looking away, "I don't have any help" -- sad.

I replied "I'm right here" -- "normal."

She did not respond -- sad.

At the end of the week, likely still finding me invisible as a volunteer helper, my mom had my brother's wife down to help pack the POD -- inexplicable, since I'd always said I would help but never seemed to count as "another person"

I became obsolete, as only one other person was necessary to help with what was left -- befuddling but in a shoulder-shrug-oh-well-I-guess-I'll-leave kind of way.

My sister-in-law thanked me six or seven times "for coming to help" on the last day with the POD -- weird? As if she were hosting? As if she belonged there and I was a guest? As if it hadn't been the plan for me to help all along? Befuddling, also.

My mom said "I love you" to my sister-in-law as she left to drive the several hours home, and I realized I couldn't remember when we'd last said that to each other -- understandable.

The POD got picked up -- relieving.

I used a groupon to get a massage -- relaxing.

I began to be able to look forward to my 30th birthday with only P.C. and roller coasters -- finally.

Friday, August 5, 2011

PSA: Looks at books

Now here's a site that made me glad I'd reshelved my books to look at least a tiny bit cooler -- some horizontal, some vertical, you see -- but still.

My bookshelves are not poems.