June 30, 2014

Gay Pride note

While watching media reports about New York City's Gay Pride March yesterday, I was intrigued by the similarity of comments by observers. The local news media interviewed lots of people who watched the march from the sidelines, and a common theme ran through the remarks.

Over and over, I heard people say that they were straight but attended the march every year because "it's so positive" and "I love the diversity". More than one mentioned that it was a joy to "see people so comfortable in their own skin". "It's uplifting," others said as the smiles on their faces told the story.

Haters often think of "gay" as meaning white gay men. For those people, the biggest jolt on seeing a gay pride march is that we come in all colors, sexes and shapes. Gay is not white, it's human. And for this reason, gay pride marches are a sea of diversity.

A positive experience for all -- that's what defines a gay pride march. As an oldster, I don't attend any more. But I went to the march regularly when I was in my 20s and 30s. Wouldn't miss it for the world. It's a wonderful event and I'm gratified that pride marches have gone global.

Our time is now.

June 29, 2014

Public editor wary of NYT Iraq coverage

It's great to have Margaret Sullivan at the New York Times. She's done a bang-up job as public editor. Mind you, as a progressive, I want more. (We always do, you know.) But she points an accusatory finger at the Times, when merited -- and for that, I am grateful.

Her column in yesterday's NYT harkens back to the paper's terrible coverage of the lead-up to the Iraq war. That was a gutless time for all journalism but one expected more from the NYT. Amazingly, it failed to include voices against the war, while making quite sure the warmongers were heard -- every day, loud and clear. It was all hawks, all the time at the NYT. And Sullivan says it's happening all over again.

First, she reminds us of the past:
The lead-up to the war in Iraq in 2003 was not The Times’s finest hour. Some of the news reporting was flawed, driven by outside agendas and lacking in needed skepticism. Many Op-Ed columns promoted the idea of a war that turned out to be both unfounded and disastrous.
Then she jumps to the present:
Many readers have complained to me that The Times is amplifying the voices of hawkish neoconservatives and serving as a megaphone for anonymously sourced administration leaks, while failing to give voice to those who oppose intervention.

I went back with the help of my assistant, Jonah Bromwich, and reread the Iraq coverage and commentary from the past few weeks to see if these complaints were valid. The readers have a point worth considering. On the Op-Ed pages and in the news columns, there have been very few outside voices of those who opposed the war last time, or those who reject the use of force now.

But the neoconservatives and interventionists are certainly being heard.
Let's hope this sends a chill into the hearts of the NYT editors. Journalism ain't much, these days. But it would be nice if the "paper of record" got it right this time. Still, I wonder if anything will change. The NYT is so in bed with whatever administration is in power, including this one. When I read their stories, it sometimes seems like they were written by White House or Pentagon staffers.

Americans don't want any new wars. Given our history over the last 50 years -- and the helpful refresher course we had during the Bush years -- we are wary of war. Apparently, this news hasn't reached the NYT.

Still, kudos to Sullivan for putting it out there. (It's also great that the New York Times hired her. They knew what they were getting: a no-holds barred, ethical public editor. So who knows? Maybe there is hope.) 

Pope makes jokes about women. They're not funny.

Over at Raw Story, we learn that for the first time, the pope was interviewed by a woman. Apparently all his previous inteviewers were male. Odd, that. So how did it go, you ask. Frankie didn't do well, not well at all.
In his first interview with a female journalist since his election to the spiritual leadership of the world’s 1.2 billion baptised Catholics, Pope Francis dodged a string of questions about whether he intended raising the status of women in his church while making a couple of jokes that some may find diminishing.
After he said a few folksy-cutesy things about women, the interview turned a corner. 
But when his interviewer, the Vatican correspondent of the Rome daily Il Messaggero, Franca Giansoldati, asked him whether he did not detect an underlying misogyny in the Catholic church, Francis replied: “The fact is that woman was taken from a rib.” Giansoldati wrote that he then laughed “heartily” before saying: “I’m joking. That was a joke.”

The 77-year-old pontiff went on: “The issue of women needs to be gone into in more depth, otherwise you can’t understand the church itself.” But did he envisage, say, appointing a woman to head a Vatican department?

“Well,” replied the pope cryptically. “Priests often end up under the sway of their housekeepers.”
Ugh. It's like they interviewed a guy from one of those "men's rights" forums that are actually feminist-hating forums. Thanks, Francis, for making us ill by giving male-chauvinist-pig responses when asked serious questions about the status of women in the church. We get it: you don't care.

Thus we learn that the pope is a caveman and the situation of female Catholics will not improve during his reign. It's sad. But the church is known for this, so we shouldn't be surprised. It's just that the old fool elicited hope in so many when he was elected. Now that hope is dashed.

June 28, 2014

Becoming invisible

We're in the process of selling our house so that we can move to a horse farm. And this particular farm just happens to be the real-life setting for my novel, Xmas Carol. The idea of moving into my book is appealing.

However, having potential buyers tromp through my house on a regular basis is unsettling. Last night a group of people came through at 7:30 pm. On a Friday night! Oy. And of course, I have to sweep through the house and hide my existence from these buyers. The place should look clean and nice, but not lived-in. I've got it down to a system. I can literally sweep away my existence in about 20 minutes. And then after they leave, I have to put all the stuff back where it belongs. It's really creepy.

Doing this reminds me of a situation that a friend experienced when we were about 20 years old. He worked for an institution that had its offices in a lovely townhouse in Manhattan. He was basically the office manager. But no one knew that he also lived there.

This was a deep, dark secret. Each night, he let all the visitors out and said goodnight. This didn't seem odd because it was up to him to close the place up and make sure everything was ready for the following day. But of course, he never left. I'd go there to hang out with him in the evening. We couldn't even turn lights on and off unless they were in a central location that wasn't visible from any window.

And each morning, he had to tear through the place and hide all the clues that might reveal the house was occupied. No bed could be rumpled, no food could be sitting in a side-room, no clothes could be in a closet. He had to clean up all his magazines, papers, etc. He was an invisible person. It worked, too, until he opened his yap and told the wrong person. And then he was out.

Sometimes I find myself thinking of him as I wipe my existence from my house. It's a hell of a way to live. But if it gets me to the horse farm, I'm willing to put up with it. Horsies!

Waiting (forever) for Scrivener for IOS

If you're waiting anxiously for the IOS version of Scrivener, as I am, you'll probably be interested in the newsflash I received from Scrivener this morning:
We're still working on it... I sincerely apologize to all our users who have been waiting so long for our iOS version. We really should have kept it under our hats for much longer, until it was nearly ready, rather than announcing it so long ago and making wild - and wildly inaccurate - guesses about when it would be ready. Right now it is undergoing finishing touches to the interface, before we implement the Dropbox syncing code and start putting it through its paces in a thorough bout of testing. We're still a few months away from release, furiously trying to ensure we make our putative 2014 release date, but it is getting there, even if from the outside progress understandably seems glacial.
Well, it doesn't seem glacial, exactly, but it's taking more time than we'd like. And by "we", I mean all the writers who rely on Scrivener. It truly is the best writing software in the world. For me, the best thing about Scrivener for IOS will be the ability to carry all my writing projects on my iPad, which goes everywhere with me. That sounds like heaven.

So maybe by Xmas? That would be a lovely gift.

June 27, 2014

So...where are the demons?

A little over a year ago, I invited demons into my home. It was May of 2013 and I was expecting another hot summer. But then it occurred to me that, in the movies at least, demons tend to make a place feel cold. Brrrrrr. Sounded good to me.

So I went on the all-powerful internet and invited any and all demons into my home. That my public offer would infuriate the pope was the icing on my dark and daring cake. He loves him some demons. Thinks the devil is real! What a card. Always fun-loving, the new pope!

Well, here I am, more than a year later. I figure it's time to recount my extensive experiences with the demons during that time. Here goes:

Uh...well...tch. The demons that moved into my house must be the no-see-'em kind of demons. Because for the life of me, I never saw or heard them, ever. And nothing in my life changed. Well, that's not entirely true. My luck and health improved during the year -- I was even saved from a tree falling on my house! It was almost like I was protected.) And the house stayed nice and cool all summer! It worked!

My personal experience makes me wonder why people are so afraid of demons. It seems they don't do anything bad -- in fact, they sometimes help people live happier, healthier lives. I guess demons are kind of like vitamins. Protective, you know?

I wonder what religious gits think about all this. They go around blessing stuff and doing incantations to ward these demon fellers off. They seem to think demons are bad. So why did I have such a lovely year after inviting demons into my home? Is there a pastor out there who'd like to reply?

It couldn't be that...demons aren't real. Could it? Heavens!

June 26, 2014

Priests to harangue faithful more than ever

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican is admitting many Catholics around the world reject its teachings about sex issues like artificial contraception as an intrusion into their private lives, and are ignorant of other core doctrines about marriage, divorce and homosexuality.
The Vatican blamed its own priests for much of the problem. It says they simply aren't doing a good enough job educating the faithful about essential church teachings and helping out families when they run into trouble.
Yes, that must be the problem. The priests just need to talk more about what you can't do down there. They've been far too quiet about sex the past fifty years or so. Just imagine how refreshed Catholics will feel when priests double down on the sexy no-no's. Because we never hear priests jabbering on and on about how awful gay people are. Or how you'll go to hell and never receive communion again if you get a divorce. Absolutely never.

What a church.

June 25, 2014

Seriously out of whack

I become nauseous when I hear the salaries that baseball players earn. Mind you, when a guy that I like gets his five or ten million, a small part of me is happy for him. But the nausea remains. No one should have a twenty-million-dollar annual salary. No one.

Yesterday, the draft (scrap paper, nothing more) of Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone" sold for two million dollars. For scrap paper? People pay many millions of dollars to own things in our world today. The .01% buy apartments in Manhattan for upwards of sixty million dollars. Handbags can cost many thousands of dollars. And politicians earn more than 100,000 dollars for a talk. What's wrong with this picture?

This is not okay, especially in light of the fact that you can buy scads of items at Amazon for dirt-cheap. I bought sunglasses at the big A the other day. They're really nice sunglasses -- and they cost $2.13. Delivered to my house, the total cost was five dollars.  Did I mention that they're nice? Someone (probably many "someones") gave their life's blood to make those two-dollar sunglasses. You don't produce something that cheaply without harming lots of people.

And who's to blame for this insane divide in prices? Us. It's people who set prices by their willingness to buy. What is the stock market but a gambling house where the rubes set the price of the items? Yes, the stock market is sky-high. But why? Because people are willing to pay that much (just as it's people who are willing to pay millions for sports stars to join their team). Purchasers blithely say, "It's worth that much to me," and hand over the money.

Prices rise and rise, except for the dirt-cheap stuff. And it's only the little people who are harmed. Trickle-down is real, but it's pain that trickles down, not money. The latter moves upward.

Lest we end with nausea alone, let's consider the phrase "out of whack". (Just to lift our spirits.) Where did the phrase come from? It seems that "in fine whack" was a phrase used in the late 19th century. It implied that something was in fine form. Though no one can truly track the reverse phrase, it makes sense that when something wasn't in fine form, it was referred to as being "out of whack". So there you go.

June 22, 2014

Cuomo's Roman Catholic medical marijuana law

Andrew Cuomo is so Roman Catholic. Because of him, there is now a medical marijuana bill in New York that says patients can't, ahem, smoke it or cook it. (Nice work, Andrew!) All you can do is buy it in final form (oil or, presumably, prepared products that you can eat) from a sea of middlemen (who will raise the price, of course). In other words, you'll never ever see a bud of marijuana. (To do so might send you directly to hell, and Andy doesn't want that for your soul.) And did I mention there's also a tax? Nice work, Andy. You've ruined the whole concept.

But this is so Catholic. You know how Roman Catholics are: they're joy-killers. "You can have sex -- but not in that position!" And "You can get married -- but not to that person!" It's what Catholicism does: it ruins virtually everything by injecting guilt into the process although there's absolutely nothing to feel guilty about.

The pope would love this proposal. Patients, not so much. Can you just imagine what it would be like to have this bozo as president? I think he'd end up being the "half-assed president". Digby put it well today. First she quoted Don Hazen's Nanny Cuomo post:
In a cringeworthy move that will be compared with Bill Clinton's much lampooned line, "I smoked pot, but I didn't inhale," New York governor Andrew Cuomo says you may need cannabis for medical reasons, but you can't smoke it. Why? Because it is too dangerous, says Cuomo, ignoring tons of data showing that pot smoking is far less dangerous and more beneficial than alcohol. But Cuomo, for reasons that are unclear and open to severe head scratching, continues to remain in the Dark Ages when it comes to pot.
And then Digby added: "He must be daft enough to think it's true. Nobody could possibly be so politically tone deaf as to think that people will think that's some kind of reasonable compromise instead of a completely stupid attempt to have it both ways."

Back to me: Having it both ways is the essential Catholic stance. Welcome to the Vatican version of medical marijuana. I bet the drug will end up costing way more than dope from your local dealer. Because that's what compassionate care is all about: making people's lives more difficult. Thanks, Cuomo!

Image: Wikipedia Commons

The Noah legend could use a flute

Pied Piper/1902
I ask you: how did Noah get all those damn animals (and dinosaurs) on his ark? The answer is obvious: he was the original Pied Piper. It was Noah who provided the basis for the modern Pied Piper story, used for centuries to scare sweet children to bed.

I can just see Noah now, waltzing down a dusty path while playing his flute, a veritable hootenanny of animules following him toward the ark. The man really knew how to get the most out of his flute!

In fact, Noah probably had a selection of tunes up his sleeve, magic tunes that god taught him. For instance, there was probably one tune that meant, "Quickly! Move to the other side of the ark before we capsize!" And since it was a magical, heavenly flute, only half of the animules would move to the opposite side of the ark. Hallelujah!

Seriously, Christians could get some serious mileage out of this -- and a lot of money from the rubes. Noah flutes would be a huge seller at church events. If you know a biblical literalist, get him on this immediately.

(I can just imagine Ken Ham's eyes lighting up as he reads this post and envisions adding a flute wing to his Creation "Museum". You go, Ken! Nothing's too stupid for your audience. And by the way, you're welcome.)

The image above is from a 1902 postcard. It is in the public domain.

June 21, 2014

This and that

I wish there was a "vegetarian" button I could press on my TV. If this was set up, I wouldn't have to see dead animals on my screen during commercials. Some call it food but I call it murder preceded by imprisonment and torture. Why do I have to gaze at dead animal parts as I watch my shows and baseball games? It's sickening.

Next item. Read this:
When he was president, George W. Bush hosted a White House reunion for his former Yale classmates, including a transgender woman who had lived as a man when Bush knew her. Another guest told reporters that the president grabbed the classmate's hand and exclaimed fondly, "Now you've come back at yourself." (I assume they meant "as yourself".) 
That's the thing about Georgie: he wasn't the worst human who ever lived. He even had some good impulses. But he was the weakest, dumbest president in recent memory and he allowed abominable people to control his actions. He was an idiot, rather than a monster.

Moving right along, let's discuss a certain phrase. You hear people use it all the time. The phrase is "oddly enough", as in "oddly enough, I saw your mother having sex with a police officer this morning." Oddly enough? What's with the "enough"? Is there a level of oddness you must rise to before someone can say, "Ah, there you go: that's enough oddness"? It just seems strange. A simple "oddly" would work just as well. I say we kick "enough" out of the word tent.

And while we're on the topic of words, why do was refer to a "wooden table" rather than a "wood table"? After all, we don't say a metallen table, we say "metal table". The only other word like this, that I can think of at the moment, is "leaden". He always showed a leaden face. Odd (but oddly enough?).

And last but not least, it surprises me that no one has created spreebay.com -- for folks who really want to toss a lot of money out the window. I'm sure it would be a hit with the current batch of Americans.

You may carry on with your weekend now. As you were.

June 19, 2014

Condi tries new mushroom-cloud remark

Okay, so she didn't really say "mushroom cloud" but her quote, which I've bolded below, has that same ominous tone and feel. I'm sure the wingnuts will run with it as a new slogan. I give you Condoleeza Rice, savior of democracy:
Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Thursday the United States must continue to lead the world because it represents an ideal of democracy.

Rice — one of the architects of the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq — told a crowd at Norwich University the United States should use counterterrorism operations, including the possible use of attacks with aerial drones, to keep the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant from making territorial gains.

"We do not want these people in charge of a swath of land the size of Indiana," said Rice, the former National Security Adviser and Secretary of State under George W. Bush.
In my opinion, Condoleeza Rice is the most disgusting American alive today. And I thought that before I learned that she's still spouting wingnut war rhetoric. I mean, the goddamned mushroom cloud lady is actually pushing for another war. It's chutzpah gone mad, and entirely beyond the pale. She is a monster. Obviously, she learned nothing from her recent dabbling in world affairs. Condi, you failed. Big-time.

What must it be like to be that clueless? It's a frightening thought. And some people listened to her quietly -- and maybe even clapped when she was done? Ugh. Condoleeza Rice should be hissed and booed by every human she encounters for the rest of her life. 

One last note: I did enjoy a remark made by one of the protesters who was "escorted" from the event:
"We feel that Condoleezza Rice led us into one illegal war and had that not happened, we wouldn't be beating the drums of war that are being beaten right now to go back into Iraq," Zevon said.
Well said, Zevon.

Photo credit: US government image, bombing of Nagasaki


The first set of white wayfarers arrived...and I look fabulous! These aren't the glasses inching their way to me from China. This is another $5 pair. I swear, I don't know why people pay a lot for sunglasses. Get a cheap pair.

Anyway, I am it. Just try to deny my fabulosity. You can't, can you? See?

(Extra bonus: my tattooed arm reaching for my iPad's photo button, reflected in the glasses.)

June 18, 2014

Cuomo: the make-believe progressive

Governor Cuomo is a joke. He's been making all these noises to sound progressive, but it's just not there.

His latest scam has been to tell all and sundry that he'd sign a medical marijuana bill as long as it met his personal requirements. Well, we just found out what those nebulous "requirements" were, when he put the kibosh on a perfectly good medical marijuana bill that was sent to him for his signature. It's a no go. And why?

He was upset that there was no provision forbidding smoking it. Srsly. That's his story and he's sticking to it.
"This was supposed to be for very serious diseases. There's not supposed to be loopholes you can drive a truck through."
Like...(ahem)...smoking it.

The man is a joke, he's always been a joke, and anyone who falls or his shtick is a fool. Dog help us if this guy becomes president (which is the only thing he wants to do).

June 17, 2014

Go: optical illusions

This is Go's new video. It's filled with optical illusions, so go full-screen. As for the song, it's not knock-em-dead but it grows on you.

The geezer express

I love the current resurgence of "wayfarer" frames for sunglasses, and I adore them in white. They're right up there with famous fashion don'ts of historical proportions -- like white belts for men in the 1970s and white go-go boots in the 1960s. Sometimes fashion is so terrible, you have to own it. And I want these white wayfarers on my shelf. They look dated even now. Just imagine how archaic they'll look when I wear them in the year 2036!

But that's not what this post is about. I ordered them from Amazon for the princely sum of $4.28, and it said "free delivery" too. I thought that was bizarre. How can you sell something this cheaply and deliver it for free? And then I received the shipping confirmation email, which said they'd arrive sometime between July 10 and July 28. So it'll take somewhere between three and six weeks to receive them.

I stared at the delivery date and thought, "Well, they've finally gone and done it. Someone has mobilized the shuffling old men wandering around aimlessly on the street corners of every city in America. That's how my glasses will get to me. They'll be passed along by hand, old man to old man, from street corner to street corner. I figure using this method, it probably takes a couple of hours for them to move the glasses a distance of one city block. Given a couple of months, though, these old guys are gonna get my glasses to me. Pronto.

Okay, so in reality the glasses are coming from China. How does it make economic sense for a pair of sunglasses to generate a mere $4.28 for a company, when that same company then has to ship them around the world?

I don't like that, so I'm going to forget I ever heard about the China connection. It's old men that will bring my new wayfarers to me. Good, solid old men. I'm so glad they finally found work.

June 16, 2014

Do it in the proper order

Another day, another father goes postal on his family.
A Virginia man shot his wife and their two young children to death on Father's Day and then killed himself, police said.
Now, see, it's not that these guys have the wrong idea. They're just doing it in the wrong order. For instance, this guy's order probably looked something like this:

1. Kill wife
2. Kill kid
3. Kill other kid
4. Kill self

Okay, now let's see if we can't straighten up that list for him. This is how he should have ordered his activities:

1. Kill self

See how that works? If you know someone who might do something like this, be sure to tell him the proper order. It could be helpful.

Uh-huh. Real deep.

Pope Francis and the archbishop of Canterbury denounced human trafficking as a crime against human dignity Monday and pledged to combat it jointly — finding common ground on a social issue amid deep theological divisions over the Anglicans' ordination of women bishops.
I'm sure this is a very deep and highly theological disagreement -- as opposed to one where the pope simply sees women as inferior and is mortally (not morally; mortally) opposed to doing anything about the inequality of the sexes in his church. It's just that Jesus doesn't like women. That's the whole shebang right there. And the pope can't do a damn thing about it. He couldn't, you know, change the rules or anything. Nuh-uh. Remember: he's only the pope.

Another outtake from the article:
The Catholic Church doesn't permit women to be ordained priests, much less bishops, on the grounds that Christ's apostles were all male.
Hmmm, so let's see. There was once an all-boys club about two thousand years ago ... and they haven't updated the rules in, oh, about two thousand years. Makes perfect sense to me.

June 12, 2014

Ominous news tidbit

The Obama administration is advising local police not to disclose details about surveillance technology they are using to sweep up basic cellphone data from entire neighborhoods.
Nothing to see here. Move along. 

(No link; it's too depressing. What country is this, again?)

Cute little guys

This isn't the best photo in the world but it was all I could manage with my minimal zoom lens. These two little guys have been down by the pond for about a week. (That bright green stuff above them is a reflection of trees in the surface of the pond.) I think they're baby heron. I saw an adult heron at the pond about a week ago and I assume these are her chicks. I haven't seen her in several days. Perhaps she produced her young and left them behind, though that seems unlikely. Birds are usually terrific parents.

Anyway, these guys are cute. I hope they survive. I saw a pack of crows ogling them yesterday. The odd thing was that two geese seemed to be acting as the babies' protectors. It's possible. Babies are babies; we all feel the need to protect them (except for Republicans and priests). Protecting the young is how life works.

Spring always brings a new slew of babies. May this never stop.

June 11, 2014

The oddness of the rightwing brain

Seriously, how do rightwingers become so deluded? The following is a display of one typical brain dysfunction they seem to suffer on a daily basis. It comes from the Southern Baptist Convention, where they just elected a new leader who's sticking with the whole anti-GLBT bigotry thing:
On Tuesday at their annual meeting in Baltimore, members of the Southern Baptist Convention passed a resolution opposing efforts by governments to "validate transgender identity as morally praiseworthy."
What goes on their brains that makes them see the according of equality as equivalent to the awarding of praise? That's nothing more than a brain fart, and they do it all the time. To say gays are equal to straights, to say transfolk are equal to cisfolk, is to them, the equivalent of awarding an Oscar to the person. 

This is similar to their cries about gay marriage being a threat to straight marriage. How, exactly? Show us one straight marriage that has been affected in any way by a gay marriage.

I'm waiting. Oh, actually, I just remembered that I have to go give some gay guy an award -- just for being so wonderful, you know? Be right back.

June 8, 2014

Humanity's fatal flaw

I hesitated as my hand reached for the red hairband. I'd worn that hairband for the past two days -- and things hadn't gone well. I reached for the black one. It was safer. 

That's a true outtake from my day. Each morning, my hand actually hesitates as I reach for one of the many, colored bands sitting in a small dish by my bed, trying to suss out the "lucky one". And I don't believe in nonsense. Still, it's there.
We humans are prone to superstition. That's why religion still exists in the year 2014: we're idiots. Something in our evolutionary history implanted this susceptibility to supernatural notions. It's burned-in; we can't escape it. This is our fate.

There was always a predator out there, trying to eat us. It seemed evil. And we reached for anything we could (figuratively) lay our hands on, to assuage the fear, to reassure us and make us think we'd go on living for another day.

This mindless tendency is still with us, and apparently it will never go away. We know it's based on nonsense but we give in to it anyway. We have a natural affinity for this.

Today, our reliance on supernatural nonsense is killing us. Consider why people are fighting in countries all across the globe. For the most part, it's because people think their fairytale creature is more powerful than the other guy's fairytale creature. It makes no sense, it has no basis in reality, but we continue on this path. It leads to doomsday, but we just can't help ourselves.

I opted for a nice, safe, black hairband today. Phew. I'm safe -- at least for today.

New respect for people with asthma

I just experienced a very bad week. I couldn't breathe. By this I don't mean that I had difficulty breathing. I mean I couldn't breathe. I swear, if I didn't have the right medicine at hand, I don't know what would have happened. It was like there was no room in my lungs for air. The space was already occupied.

I still have no clue why this happened to me. I got one of those "maybe it's a severe allergic reaction, maybe your immune system is attacking your lungs, maybe..." responses from doctors (I saw two). That's kinda creepy because if something triggered it, I can't avoid it since I don't know what it is.

In any case, this leads me to say two things. First, let's hear it for nebulizers! Hooray!!! They're those machines with a long tube, and a contraption that you put in your mouth, which seems to dribble smoke (it's vapor) as you suck on it. What a fabulous machine this is! I will never be without one again.

The second thing is I think I understand now how frightening asthma (and other respiratory distress) can be. For me, this was just one week out of an otherwise free-breathing life. But for those with chronic difficulty breathing, this problem goes on and on. I empathize with anyone who suffers like this, especially children. It's a nightmare.

Anyway, it seems to be over and I should return to regular blogging in the days ahead. Phew. Let's hear it for air: hooray!!!

June 5, 2014

The appalling cuteness of Japanese robots

A story in today's news made me ill. No, it wasn't about another senseless murder; it was about a "cute" robot made in Japan. Named "Pepper", no less.
A cooing, gesturing humanoid on wheels that can decipher emotions has been unveiled in Japan by billionaire Masayoshi Son who says robots should be tender and make people smile
That is disgusting. Cute isn't a virtue, it's a fatal flaw. The idea of encountering a robot like this makes me ill. Hell, reading about it made me ill.
The machine, which has no legs, but has gently gesticulating hands appeared on a stage in a Tokyo suburb, cooing and humming. It dramatically touched hands with Son [its creator] in a Genesis or "E.T." moment.
Isn't that special? If you recall, they sent one of their "cute" robots (that's a photo of it up top) to the International Space Station, where people were trapped inside a tin can with it, with no way to escape. I swear, if I was one of those astronauts and this thing came near me, I'd rip off its head and toss it out the airlock.
In Thursday's demonstration, Pepper sang, "I want to be loved."
Yeah, well good luck with that, Pepper. C'mon people, admit it. This is the kind of thing we'll encounter in Hell, when we get there. It'll be extra-extra-cute and you won't be able to shut it off or get away from it, no matter how hard you try. Cute, my ass.

Photo credit: Kibo Robot Project / EPA

June 1, 2014

Frank Bruni's take on today's journalism

Today's NYT column by Frank Bruni is called "Full Screed Ahead". Here's an excerpt:
Grandstanding is booming as traditional news gathering struggles to survive: It’s more easily summoned, more cheaply produced. It doesn’t require opening bureaus around the country or picking up correspondents’ travel expenses or paying them for weeks on end just to dig. So it fills publications, websites and television airtime the way noodles stretch out a casserole, until we’re looking at a media meal that’s almost all Hamburger Helper and no beef.
I often try to provide a Bruni link on Sundays since it lies behind the Times paywall (which you hit if you visit the NYT "too often"). Links from blogs will always get through. So what are you waiting for? Grab a cuppa coffee and go read it.