September 30, 2014

Religious people can't tell right from wrong

In recent years, we saw the Roman Catholic church abandon orphans rather than allow gays to adopt. They simply closed various adoption agencies. The hell with the kids; it's more important to hate gay people. It's a moral issue, doncha know.

Well, now the Baptists are on board with this tactic. Joe Jervis tells us that a Baptist church expelled an AA group because it feared opening its doors to them would open them wide for gay weddings. As if that was even a possibility. So the hell with AA and helping alcoholics. They'd rather hate gay people.

Isn't it odd how religions that profess to be the only arbiters of morality can't tell right from wrong? Gee, I wonder why. Could it be that there's no god and these folks are just flailing in the wind and being vicious because they enjoy it? Hmmmm.

Speaking of which

Utterly disgusting.
Animal activists are crying fowl over the controversial Jewish tradition of killing thousands of chickens in a pre-Yom Kippur redemption ritual.

The soon-to-be slaughtered poultry used for the Kaparot tradition are left on the street for hours — even days — in small plastic transport crates.

Last year, more than 2,000 redemption roosters in Borough Park died due to the heat before the Day of Atonement, which begins at sundown Friday this year.
But remember: religion is holy and god is good.
Ultra-orthodox Jews use the chickens in a rite, observed before Yom Kippur, in which they’re swung above the head three times in a symbolic transference of one’s sins. They’re then slaughtered and — ostensibly — donated to the poor for a pre-fast meal.

But many of the chickens are merely tossed into plastic garbage bags and taken to city landfills, videos online show. In some instances, live chickens that are too sick for a kosher slaughter are put in the bags and suffocated to death.
I wonder how long it will take before this practice moves to a football or baseball field. After all, religious nonsense mixes so well with sports. (See post below.)

Next up: sacrificing a lamb on the playing field

It's all a matter of degree, kids. People don't get that. If you let something in, you have to let similar things in - and where it stops, no one knows.
In the fourth quarter of a game on Monday night, Abdullah, a safety with the Chiefs who is Muslim, intercepted a pass by Tom Brady of the New England Patriots and returned it for a touchdown. After he entered the end zone, he slid on his knees and bowed forward with his head touching the turf.

He was given a 15-yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct.
An N.F.L. spokesman said Tuesday that Abdullah should not have been penalized. “Officiating mechanic is not to flag player who goes to ground for religious reasons,” Michael Signora, a league spokesman, said on Twitter.
Pitchers praying on the mound in MLB games, guys prostrating themselves on the field in football games. Seriously, what happens when a voodoo practitioner insists on killing a chicken on the field? 

Prayer doesn't belong on a playing field, especially not in a national sports game. The field is for playing the damn game. Churches and mosques are for praying. But silly wabbits don't know the difference. This will not end well.

September 29, 2014

Yard news

First, an update: Lo and behold, I wrote new scenes for my book today. Thank Dog for that. I spent the morning reviewing my (quite good) notes and then dove in. The hardest thing about picking up the pieces is starting to do it. But you know, all you have to do is pick up the first one and suddenly you realize that you can pick the others up, too. Hopefully, today's activity gave me enough of a nudge to get me going. Tomorrow will tell the tale (or rather, I will if all goes well). But because I've been writing, all I can muster for you, my precious bloggies, is a tale or two from my backyard.

Milo, the finest goose in the world - and the leader of the finest flock in the world - lives in my backyard and hangs out on the pond. (It may also be true that I have the finest pond in the world. I'm not sure about that.)

I used to feed Milo's flock but it kind of got away from me. At one point, I was feeding over 200 geese out there. That's a lotta feed and I couldn't afford it, so I stopped. The geese were horrified. How dare the human stop feeding us! Milo kept coming up to me and haranguing me in his cute, hissing voice, but I wouldn't budge.

On the other hand, I did toss out tons of peanuts for the squirrels, the groundhog (if that's what it is) and the crows, chipmunks and bluejays. Milo was incensed. He kept coming over and nosing the peanuts around - but he didn't know what to do with them. They weren't food, as far as he could tell.

Well, last week Milo learned how to open a peanut and then he taught the flock how to do it. So now when I toss peanuts out, everyone, including the geese, comes running. Milo looks very proud as he opens his peanuts. And he should be. He developed a new skill all on his own. It was fun to see it spread throughout the flock.

One final note. I was out there tossing peanuts the other day, when I noticed something new. The groundhog was standing on his hind legs, casually chomping on a peanut, a mere five feet from me. He always ran from me in the past. I think I have a new friend. Very nice!

But starting to write again is way better than having a new friend. Have any of you succeeded lately in doing something that you put off for a long time? Do tell in the comments. We want to hear all about it.

And hooray! I'm writing again.

September 28, 2014

Last day of baseball season. Aaaargh!

Today is a very sad day. There's only one game left in the regular baseball season. Baseball means a lot to me. It's everything about summer, wrapped up in one package and I will sorely miss it. I mean, imagine having to figure out what to do with your evening instead of watching a game?! How is a person supposed to handle something like that? Brrrrrr. Cold reality.

But here's the thing: I'm going back to writing fiction tomorrow morning. I fell off the writing wagon last year. I'm not even sure how it happened. I was going strong, going strong...and then I wasn't doing it at all. That'll happen if you don't prod yourself to keep going.

So something ends today, but something begins tomorrow. That's how I'll get over my baseball sadness. And I really have to write the next book. No one buys Xmas Carol, my first book, because it's the only book on my Amazon shelf. People figure you're a wingnut if you only produce one book.

But I'm not a wingnut and the book is great. BTW, right now is the perfect time for you to start reading it. It begins with the Halloween season and ends with Xmas, making it the perfect holiday book. You know you want to leave summer behind. Get a head start by reading Xmas Carol.

And in the meantime, I'll write that next book. It's going to be a zinger. I promise. But for today, I've still got baseball. Hooray! And best of all, my Nats are in the post-season. Zing!

September 27, 2014

In passing

Before this disappears into the wispy memory pile, I want to note something. I saw Bill Clinton on TV two or three days back. He was talking about the new trend for companies to move their HQ offshore to avoid taxes.

His solution? Lower the tax rate on corporations.

I've been saying for years that the Clintons -- yes, both of them -- are synonymous with American corporations. If you needed evidence, Bill just coughed it up.

September 25, 2014

Be afwaid. Be vewy afwaid.

Wow! New York Governor Andrew Cuomo just rode the NYC subway to show us all that the system is safe fwom tewwow. Yes, he actually took a subway train -- you know, like all New Yorkers do every single day. Watta man!

This is exactly  like when President Jimmy Carter took his wife Rosalind to Three Mile Island when there were actual worries that it might explode at any moment. It's exackly the same as what our brave NY governor did today. Exackly!

This guy hasta run for president! He hasta! Watta man!


September 24, 2014

Bruni chimes in on the ousted gay couple

I wrote about this just the other day. As always, Frank Bruni does a far better job of telling the story. In case you've forgotten, the Catholic church ousted an old gay couple from their parish, simply because they got married. Despite the church's insistence that it is the ultimate authority on all moral issues, it doesn't understand love.

Here's a bit from Bruni's column:
The Catholic Church does incalculable good, providing immeasurable comfort — material as well as spiritual — to so many. But it contradicts and undercuts that mission when it fails to recognize what more and more parishioners do: that gay people deserve the same dignity as everyone else, certainly not what happened to the Montana couple. If Francis and his successors don’t get this right, all his other bits of progress and pretty words will be for naught.
The church committed an evil act. That's the bottom line. Part of me hopes the church will wise up. But after all the terrible things the Roman Catholic church has done to gay people, I confess I'd be happier if it just went away.

September 23, 2014

Came as news to me

I had no idea that Yogi Berra was and is an ally of LGBT athletes. Very cool. Joe Jervis wrote a post about this on his blog, so I don't have to.

Go read it. And stick it out till the end, when Joe hauls out his favorite Yogi-isms. A couple of them were new to me. The one about towels is really funny, but then they all are.

What an amazing life Yogi's had. And everyone loves him. That is one hell of an achievement, right there.

Medical adventures

My hernia surgery was a week ago today. I must say, it's been a painful week - but I'm definitely on the mend. I even went for a short walk yesterday, so I assume it won't be long until I'm fully healed. In the meantime, here are a few medical oddities.

A day or two after you return home from surgery, the back of your hand blossoms in a big, mottled yellow-and-green bruise. I'm sure you've all had this experience. It's the result of a nurse's sad attempts to stick an IV in your hand. (Must they always miss a few times before hitting the mother lode?) In any case, I've decided this bruise should be called a hospital hickey. 

Afterward, people come up to you and see the hospital hickey. Their response is to cluck their tongues knowingly and say, as they waggle a finger at you, "Uh, uh, ah, ah. I know where you've been: you've been letting a hospital have its way with your body!" And then they want all the sordid details. Tch. Must hospitals leave these hickeys behind? The least they could do is offer a little hospital hand make-up as they wheel you out the door.

Oh, and I'd mentioned that I was offered a choice: being fully out during surgery or being semi-out. The latter would allow you to be aware of what happens during the surgery, but then the drug they use would wipe away your memories. They call this retroactive amnesia and it is so strange. I went for the semi-out version of anesthesia. And sadly, I don't remember a thing. Darn. No tales from the operating table.

While I'm on medical stuff, I have to share something. I see a female doctor who is very sweet and supportive - but says odd things. When I bring up something that she doesn't consider important, she says (in a female version of Rodney Dangerfield's voice): "You're killin' me, Keith. You're killin' me!" And she has a male nurse who, no matter what you say to him, responds with "Roger that!" Yes, he just got out of the military. They're actually both quite sweet; I don't mean to malign them. It's just that I find these responses funny.

So here's hoping you don't have a hospital hickey on your hand. And if you do, what hospital did you let have its way with you, you scamp?

Whatever. Recovery continues and I'll be back to blogging some point. In the meantime, hang on.

September 22, 2014

Catholic church wants same-sex couple to bend over for punishment

Honestly, the Roman Catholic church is disgusting. Check this out:
GREAT FALLS, Mont. — A Roman Catholic bishop says a central Montana parish is about evenly divided over a new priest's decision to prohibit a gay couple from receiving Communion unless they divorce, live separately and write a statement affirming that a marriage is between a man and a woman.
Yes, because that's exactly what a loving church would command two men (who are in their 70s, BTW) to do: bend over and receive a public caning. Well, okay, they didn't actually require that. But they want to 1) destroy the men's lives; 2) separate them forever; and 3) force them to admit in public that they sinned and that the church is totally, fabulously right in its insistence on limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples.

Jesus would be so proud. In case you're not clear about this, the Catholic church is the sinner here and it is the one that needs to repent. Of course, why these two men want to be a part of this backwater church is unclear. Perhaps they're masochists. To each his own. But religions can't spurn their gay members, not if they want to survive.

Let's hope the men wise up and leave this particular church behind. And let's also hope that this hateful church goes the way of the dodo.

Great post on America

Tom Sullivan has been blogging over at digby's place for the past couple of weeks, and he is something else. He's perceptive and has a magical way of saying things. I'm totally impressed.

Now, blogger rules say that I should paste a telling paragraph or two here, to lure you in. But you know what? His post is short and I want you to read it in full. This way you'll feel the magic.

And then, of course, you'll feel sad about this failed country of ours. But hey, you read a good writer! I hope Sullivan sticks around. He's a gem.

September 21, 2014

Bruni today

Go read Frank Bruni's column in today's NYT. If you thought you were disappointed in the media before reading the column, just wait.

September 20, 2014

Bad guy out, semi-good guy in

Thankfully, Pope Francis pushed out one of the most anti-gay cardinals in the United States, and installed a seemingly reasonable bishop in his place.
The bishop chosen by Pope Francis to be the new head of the Archdiocese of Chicago says that people should not read too much into the decision about the Catholic Church's future direction.

Bishop Blase (BLAHZ') Cupich (SOO'-pihch), of Spokane, Washington, has been described as a moderate and has called for civility in the culture wars.
Civility would be nice. Let's see if he churns any out.

The only hint in the linked article of the monster who preceded this appointment is given here:
During a news conference Saturday in Chicago, Cupich was asked several times about whether he would shift direction as a successor to Cardinal Francis George, who is particularly admired in the church's conservative wing.
You know what it takes to be "admired" by the "church's conservative wing", doncha? This kind of thing. Yup, he actually compared gays to the KKK. He is a full-fledged monster. So good riddance, though who knows if Cupich will be any better.
Seriously, there's a "wing" of the Catholic church that consistently cheers vicious statements? Says a lot about the god those people worship, doesn't it?

And of course, the clincher is that there is no god. All this hate, for no reason at all. As I often say, religion is a magic fence surrounding nothing.

September 18, 2014

Apple turns government surveillance off with iOS 8

I think this is pretty damn cool:
Apple is rolling out new privacy protections for iPhones and iPads, with a new system that makes it impossible for the company to unlock a device even with a warrant.
"Unlike our competitors, Apple cannot bypass your passcode and therefore cannot access this data. So it's not technically feasible for us to respond to government warrants for the extraction of this data from devices in their possession running iOS 8."
Simply and easy. I wonder how our surveillance-mad government will respond to this news. Like a spoiled child, I imagine.

A black sociology professor's take on child abuse

Michael Eric Dyson has an opinion piece at the NY Times this morning about the rampant child abuse that takes place in many African American homes. The article was occasioned by Adrian Peterson's physical abuse of his four-year-old child and his reliance on religious excuses for this behavior.
If beating children began, paradoxically, as a violent preventive of even greater violence, it was enthusiastically embraced in black culture, especially when God was recruited. As an ordained Baptist minister with a doctorate in religion, I have heard all sorts of religious excuses for whippings.
It's good to see light thrown on this shady practice. To be clear, this also happens in white families. And the abusive white parents often cite the same "religious" excuses for their behavior. God is such a convenient fall-back position. But of course, there is no god. These folks are simply evil for beating their children.

Beating a child is never okay. All parents who engage in such abuse perpetuate a cycle of violence, guaranteeing that their children will grow up to beat their children. This makes no sense. And bringing god into it doesn't help at all. The mass murders being committed by ISIS are the final, logical extension of this way of thinking. God made them do it. Sorry, but that doesn't fly.

September 17, 2014

What if people became telepathic?

In one of my sci-fi novels (not yet released), I dabble in telepathy. It's a fascinating concept, especially when you reel it out and look at it closely.

In the movies, we see telepaths sending a thought to someone else. Is that "reading a person's mind"? If it is, I'm not impressed. We'll soon have our communication technology implanted, so we can always send a thought to someone. We call that a "phone call". So that kind of telepathy gets a meh from me.

But what would it mean if some technological miracle allowed people to truly share people's thoughts, to hear how they think and discover what they're thinking about? People would find this hugely threatening. Everyone has thoughts they're ashamed of. Everyone's done something they don't want others to know about. Total mental access? Most would find it abhorrent.

But what if telepathy was forced on everyone through technological advances -- all in the same instant? Yes, they'd initially be horrified at their mental exposure -- but in the long run, would people learn that everyone is basically the same no matter what they look like, what they wear or how many buildings and companies they own? Would it bring humanity together by brute telepathic force?

There might be an added bonus. The vicious people of the world might not be able to survive in such an environment. Once others could see into their dark hearts, they would be scorned by virtually everyone. They might even be pushed into becoming decent people by the force of opprobrium directed their way by the telepathic mob.

Does this sound familiar? (Think of the way social networking is driving the news today. Ray Rice, anyone? Adrian Peterson? Roger Goodell? Without social networking, their sins would remain hidden, or be brushed aside by the powers that be. Make no mistake about it: social networks are driving the American story right now.)

What will happen when telepathic social networks become the norm? I'll bet it's in the cards.

PS: Sorry to be absent from the blog but I'm recovering from hernia surgery. Hurts a lot, even with oxycodone. But if the surgery fixes the problem, I'm willing to put up with it. I'll be back soon.

September 14, 2014

Isn't it funny how some traits go together?

Now, where have I heard news about Adrian Peterson before? I'm sure I saw something last year about him. Let me think. In the meanwhile, there's this:
It's another scar for the NFL and this time the victim is a 4-year-old boy, beaten in the back, buttocks, legs and scrotum by his dad, running back Adrian Peterson.
Oh, wait - now I remember! He's the NFL player who felt compelled to share his distaste for gay marriage.
Peterson says he considers Kluwe [Chris Kluwe, a football player who is in favor of marriage equality] a good friend but he differs with the punter on the subject for gay marriage.

"To each his own, [but] I'm not with it," he said. "I have relatives who are gay. I'm not biased towards them. I still treat them the same. I love 'em. But again, I'm not with that. That's not something I believe in.
He simply had to say that. Couldn't stop himself. And now he's being looked at for beating his four-year-old child with "a switch or a branch". On the scrotum!

I wonder if he was trying to beat heterosexual marriage into the boy.

Isn't it funny how people who are literally scum are the ones who fight against marriage equality? I wonder if there's a connection there. Hmmm.

September 13, 2014

Pope Francis is absolutely right

Pope Francis at Redipuglia war memorial.
Pope Francis hit the bulls-eye with his remarks while visiting a war memorial in Italy yesterday.
Pope Francis urged the world Saturday to shed its apathy in the face of what he characterizes as a third world war, intoning "war is madness" at the foot of a grandiose monument to soldiers killed in World War I.

Standing at an altar beneath the towering Redipuglia memorial entombing 100,000 Italian soldiers fallen in World War I, the pope said "even today, after the second failure of another world war, perhaps one can speak of a third war, one fought piecemeal, with crimes, massacres, destruction."
I think these remarks are very perceptive. The third world war is already taking place. I've felt this in my heart for a long time but I confess I'd never put it in such concise terms. Let's repeat the pope's words:
"Perhaps one can speak of a third [world] war, one fought piecemeal, with crimes, massacres, destruction." 
Well said, and I hope the world takes note and adopts this language. The third world war is already being fought.

Photo credit: European Pressphoto Agency, photographer: Daniel Dal Zennaro.

Something to keep in mind

Scientists are getting close to producing hydrogen by splitting water into its constituent elements. H2O, as you know, is the formula for water: two hydrogen molecules bonded to one oxygen molecule. Split that hydrogen off and you can use it as fuel without harming the environment. In other words, we're closing in on on a glorious moment in humanity's existence, when we'll be able to produce hydrogen cheaply, easily and in tremendous volume. And from that moment forward, we will be able to power our modern lives without killing the planet.

Just today, I bumped into yet another science story that indicates we're very close to solving this problem.
Scientists have taken a major step forward in the production of hydrogen from water which could lead to a new era of cheap, clean and renewable energy.

Chemists from the University of Glasgow report in a new paper in Science today on a new form of hydrogen production which is 30 times faster than the current state-of-the-art method. The process also solves common problems associated with generating electricity from renewable sources such as solar, wind or wave energy.
Which brings me to my point. What do you think will happen when Russia, a country that has nothing to export other than oil and gas, suddenly finds itself with a bounty of fuel that no one is willing to use? Ditto for the Saudis and other eastern countries. What will they do when the happenstance underpinning their vast wealth - the fact that they're sitting on a pile of oil - disappears? I suspect it won't be pretty.

BTW, I believe I heard Putin raving about new nukes that he's planning to use if threatened. I'd say the advent of a hydrogen economy will be a hugely threatening event for Russia.

A watershed moment is about to arrive and hardly anyone is thinking about the ramifications. But you can't fault people. After all, they've got celebrity scandals to think about. The coming hydrogen economy and Russia's nukes? F'get about it. We have more important things to occupy our attention.

Oooo, look! A new, shiny thing! I have to go look at it. So...never mind.

September 12, 2014

Pitcher "pulled the chain"

I must look up the origin of at least three phrases a day. I always find myself wondering where they came from - and that wonder must be satisfied. It must!

Last night I found myself wondering about a baseball phrase. Sports announcers will often say the pitcher "pulled the chain" on a ball. They sometimes add "and the bottom dropped out". What they mean is that the ball dropped at the last instant, causing the hitter to miss with his swing. The pitcher fooled him.

On my own (i.e., without Wikipedia's help), I figured this baseball phrase has probably been around for a long time and may be tied to the old toilet tanks from the 1940s and 50s. Toilets were weird back then, with water positioned in a tank high above the toilet bowl. When you wanted to flush, you pulled the chain and the water dropped down. Flush accomplished.

It just seemed like a natural: you pull the chain and the bottom drops out. Sadly, my instincts were off.

It's a miners' term -- but hey, I wasn't that far off. Well, okay, I was. But it does have something to do with toilets. Here's one version of the origin (there are several):
"...this phrase comes from old miners who would carry a length of chain with them for a very specific purpose. The bathroom that was used in the lower levels of the mine was actually on wheels on a track so it (along with all the waste) could be moved out of the mine when it was full. It was a common practical joke to unlock the break and push the "honey wagon" down the track while someone was sitting on it. So, miners carried a length of chain to lay in front of one of the wheels to act as a brake in case someone decided to pull this prank. Hence the phrase, "Don't yank my chain".
Hmph. Now I know, and so do you.

There is no such thing as a holy statue

"Holy" is a word without meaning, referring as it does to a nonexistent property. Here's something you can try at home: Wave your hands around in the air aimlessly; I'll wait while you do it. Good. The random hand moves you just made are as holy as a "holy statue". Or a "holy person". Or a "holy Pope". There is no holy, there are only holes.
A Pennsylvania teen is facing two years behind bars after he simulated oral sex with a statue of Jesus and uploaded pictures of his unholy deed online.
Duh. There's nothing wrong with what this kid did. Nothing at all. 
The 14-year-old allegedly straddled the Son of God figure outside the "Love in the Name of Christ" Christian organization's Everett HQ in late July.

A friend reportedly took the pictures as the laughing boy thrust his crotch towards the Messiah's mouth.
Go outside now and pick up a rock. Thrust your junk at it. Same thing this kid did, with the same actual result: nada.

You cannot do something "unholy" with an object, for the simple reason that there is nothing that is "holy" - not to mention the fact that plaster, rock and other objects don't feel anything. They're not sentient or even conscious. If you want to "abuse" an object all day and all night, go for it. The object won't care - and neither did this Jesus statue. See, it's just plaster.
Cops were contacted and the teen, who has not been named, was on Tuesday arrested and charged with desecrating a venerated object.
The key word in that sentence is not "desecrating". You can't desecrate anything because nothing is sacred. The far more important word in that sentence is "object" -- as in dead piece of rock-like thing. There's nothing "unholy" that you or anyone else can do to an "object".

The world scares me because there's so much stupidity and no one to counter it. How could any human fail to grasp the difference between a person and a rock? Only religion could so disorder a mind that it can't discern between the two.

September 10, 2014

More of this, please

You don't see this kind of news every day in America.
A Pennsylvania county council has voted 8-6 against posting the national motto, "In God We Trust," in its chambers.

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald had threatened to veto the measure, which he called "a movement by the right-wing evangelical Christians across the country basically to impose Christianity" in public buildings.
That's so refreshing. It seems some Americans can still think. I wonder who they are.
Fitzgerald is a Democrat, as are the eight council members who opposed the display...All five Republicans on council voted for the display.
The same perps, I see. Republicans and other religious gits are trying to snuff out rationality in the United States. Let's stop them.

I bring this attitude into my daily life, as I think we all should. Whenever someone mentions god - for instance, by saying "Thank god" - I immediately respond, "There is no god." Just to set the record straight, you know? If someone says "God bless you," I say "There is no god." If someone says "Praise god," I say "There is no god." Make this a habit in your life. No mention of god goes unnoticed. It's the new rule.

We've got to stop this nonsense somehow, and all movements begin with individuals fighting back. Fight back, kids. Religion is not an innocent activity. Look around and you'll see that it's suffocating the entire world. Fight back!

September 9, 2014

Can you hear it?

Listen. You hear it, don't you?

Phshwiiit. Swiish. Floop.

That's the sound of bloggers everywhere pulling pants on over their boxers! That's right - we're wearing clothes! It's time to gear up for Autumn.

Listen! The sound is louder now. More bloggers must be waking up and donning their gay apparel. It's such a beautiful thing. Someone should put words to it and make a song.

Phshwiiit. Swiish. Floop.

The sounds of the season. How I love them!

Visual migraines. Sigh.

They're sometimes called "migraines with aura". They are migraines without the pain (hooray!). But they have to do something irritating; after all, they're migraines. So they obstruct your vision by placing sparkly shapes in your way. Aggravating, but as I say: pain-free.

For the past three days I've had one each day. Now, I really can't complain. I used to have cluster headaches, which are often referred to as the worst pain humans can experience. They come in bunches, two a day, eight in a week, 38 in a month, that sort of thing -- and then they disappear for a time. Could be for a week, could be for years. You never know. I used to have cluster headaches and then one magical day, they turned into visual migraines. Since I'd been thinking about killing myself to avoid the pain of cluster headaches, I was right pleased with this change.

So they mess my vision. Who cares? (Okay, I do.) The thing is they're pain-free. You can't buy the joy that comes along with that statement. When visual migraines replaced my clusters, I wanted to shout from the housetops: I'm free!

Well, maybe not. I still have these nagging visual migraines. And they come in clusters, just like the old painful cluster headaches. In other words, the same song is playing but in a new, delightful key. That's an image of what they look like, up top. It's a good representation. They always come in a set shape, often a crescent like the one in the image. At first. they're very tiny. But they grow and grow and grow. At one point, they totally obstruct your vision -- but that happens just before they disappear. While retaining their shape and continuing to grow, they eventually move "off the page". And poof, they're gone. Mine just ended, which is what made me write this post. As I say, pain in the butt. You can't do anything, can't read words on your screen, can't watch a baseball game. But there's no pain. Did I mention that? Woohoo!

Oliver Sacks, the writer/psychiatrist who gave us the delightful "The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat", once wrote about his experiences with visual migraines. As is his wont, he described the beauty of the images. True, they're pretty. But I'd still like to skip them entirely. (BTW, Artichoke Annie sent me a link to a new Oliver Sacks piece in the New Yorker. It's about autism and I found it fascinating. It's a long article; just saying.)

Anyway, migraine gone. Time to move on. Phew. Anyone else out there have these? How do you deal with them? (I get up and do housework until they're gone. Or I sit back with headphones on, close my eyes and watch the light show. What else can you do?)

Image from

September 8, 2014

Espresso is god

When I accepted Caffeine as my Lord and Savior, I felt a wave of Blessedness wash over me -- or perhaps it was the effect of the cuppa java I had just guzzled. Either way, it was Divine.

And when I discovered the purity and power of Espresso, I realized that this was God Hisself.

I said, "Lord Espresso, come unto me and jangle my nerves with your Holy Rush. Make of me a productive person rather than a slouch. Get me up and running, oh Lord!"

And ever since that Blessed Moment when I turned my life and my future over to Caffeine, things have been faaaabulous!

If you haven't had a cup of Espresso today, I pity you -- for you are not among the Chosen. Hear my words, oh Lord Espresso, bring your dark, aromatic Goodness to these poor fools who know not of your Virtue. Go unto them, and plant a carton of vacuum-packed Espresso in their kitchen cabinets -- for they know not what they are missing.

May Lord Espresso look kindly upon you -- and may you imbibe His Virtue today and every day. So be it.

September 7, 2014

Sunday's message of hate from five religions

Can you believe these gits?
The Mormon church and four religious organizations are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene and settle once and for all the question of whether states can outlaw gay marriage.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in a statement Friday, said it joined a friend-of-the-court brief asking the high court to hear Utah's marriage case.

Also taking part in the filing were The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the National Association of Evangelicals, the Ethics & Religious Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention and the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.

Each teaches that marriage is between a man and a woman.
"The time has come to end the divisive national debate as to whether the Constitution mandates same-sex marriage," the brief states.
These religions are simply evil. How else could they do something like this? Lashing out at gay people is pretty much what these five religions are all about. Lest you have any doubt:
The religious groups urged the Supreme Court on the basis of tradition and religious freedom to uphold a state's right to disallow gay and lesbian couples to wed.

"Legal uncertainty is especially burdensome for religious organizations and religious believers increasingly confronted with thorny questions," the brief says. "Is their right to refrain from participating in, recognizing or facilitating marriages between persons of the same sex, contrary to their religious convictions, adequately shielded by the First Amendment and other legal protections? Or is further legislation needed to guard religious liberties in these and other sensitive areas?"
Aw, the poor dears! "Legally burdensome", eh? An abridgement of their "First Amendment" rights? Uh-huh. Never mind our marriages, our love, our lives and those of our children. That doesn't matter. For these folks, it's all about their god-given right to hate gay people.

Their own words condemn them to hell. At least, that's the way I see it. Too bad there is no hell, but that's just a minor glitch. What we need to do is see the hatred of their words. That's all. And then back away from these filthy religions, en masse. Their gods are vile.

And note how the virulently homophobic US Conference of Catholic Bishops is always in the mix. The Catholic church is, to my mind, the most dedicated enemy of gay people. Ask yourself why? There is no rational answer. It's just pure evil.

Bruni for your Sunday

Frank Bruni has an excellent column this morning at the NY Times. It's about college life and the way kids are using it these days. But as always with Bruni, it's far ranging. Here's a bit:
The Internet has proved to be one of the great ironies of modern life. It opens up an infinite universe for exploration, but people use it to stand still, in a favorite spot, bookmarking the websites that cater to their existing hobbies (and established hobbyhorses) and customizing their social media feeds so that their judgments are constantly reinforced, their opinions forever affirmed.
I suggest we all develop a habit of reading everything Frank Bruni writes. He is a national treasure who will only grow more valuable in the murky years ahead.

September 6, 2014

And we wonder why religion exists

People will believe any stupid thing if it promises life after death. So it's not surprising that we're all going to be treated to a new show for idiots, called "Angels Among Us".
Forget the crystal ball and tarot cards.

All Rosie Cepero needs to communicate with someone's guardian angel is a message from beyond – even if it comes to her while shopping at a party store.

In an exclusive first look at Angels Among Us – a new TLC series premiering Sunday and focusing on Cepero's special ability to communicate with angels – the upstate New York wife and mother moves an employee to tears as she relays a message from the young staffer's beloved grandfather.

"He says, 'It's okay, you can indulge in ice cream,' " Cepero tells the employee, Caroline, while holding a package of plastic cups.

Caroline cried as she told Cepero how she recently found an old birthday card from her now-deceased grandfather that included that very message, nearly word for word.

Later, Cepero stroked Caroline's hand in a way the employee said was eerily reminiscent of her grandfather.

"It was almost like his spirit was in her body and he was trying to touch me and talk to me," Caroline told the cameras afterwards. 
And of course this gem is on the "Learning" Channel, where we, uh, learn things. Most of the things are incorrect -- but learning is learning. Amirite? Who cares if it's nonsense? It makes people feel good and that's all that matters. Life is just a big ice cream cone, and we get to slurp on it even after we're dead and rotting in the grave. Hallelujah!

Things like this tell us clearly why religion exists. People are so illogical, so prone to swallowing fairy tales whole, that they will literally believe anything. That there are demons all around us? Check. That there is a King of all Gods, living eternally in a really cool place that we can visit once we, you know, die? Check. That there is Someone watching everything we do or say or think -- and grading us on it? Check.

Ghosts are real, witches are real, the devil is real. Check, check, check. Even if you make up a new god, lots of people will rush on over and believe in it -- if it promises great Cracker Jack prizes after we, you know, die.

It's hopeless, it really is. The hairless monkeys of Earth aren't ready for prime time -- and apparently, they never will be. We've got this flaw, you see. And it's a big one.

Image: Public domain - "Cortona Guardian Angel 01" by Pietro da Cortona - Web Gallery of Art

September 5, 2014

Modern life offers odd choice

Okay, so I'm going to have this operation in a week or two. This week, I went to the doc for a pre-surgery appointment and he told me I have to make a choice -- though no matter what I choose, the outcome will be identical. That's how he introduced the topic to me.

I can choose to be "semi-conscious" for the surgery, or I can be unconscious from beginning to end. The choice he's offering may be familiar to some of you. An anesthesiologist can give me a drug that will allow me to be conscious during the procedure but will also cause retroactive amnesia that eliminates any memory of the event. The other choice is to let them put me out before the procedure begins. But as the doctor pointed out - either way, I won't remember anything.

That's so strange. Mind you, those of us who've had an endoscopy or colonoscopy are familiar with this drug. (I don't know the name of the drug; sorry.) In both procedures, you're present at the beginning, but afterward you don't recall what happened. (At least, that's the way it's supposed to work. My brother-in-law remembers every nasty bit of his endoscopy.)

It's a bizarre choice. Should I remain conscious as they're cutting up my abdomen? Doesn't sound too bad to me. Kinda fun, actually. But what would be the point? I wouldn't remember it afterward. It's like putting yourself through something for no reason at all. So I guess I'll opt for unconsciousness. What the hell, right?

When I had an endoscopy (where they stick a long, long tube in your mouth and down your throat, to look inside your stomach), I recall the doctor holding the plastic tubing in his hand and saying, "Now, I'm going to ask you to swallow this and keep on swallowing. It might be uncomfortable." I said, in my best Bea Arthur voice, "I'm gay. Just stick it in!" That's the last thing I remember. I can't recall swallowing it.

Anyone have a story about their experience with this retroactive amnesia drug? Weird stuff.

September 4, 2014

Babies left in hot cars

I'm crushed each time I hear about the death of a baby left in a hot car. You forgot your baby? Sorry, but I don't buy that. You're a monster. That's why your baby died.

I saw a woman on the news who goes around the country telling people how to avoid these tragedies. Her standard line is "If you think this can't happen to you, you're wrong. It can."

Uh, no, it can't. There is no way I could ever forget a baby in my care. Not for one second. Not even if I was hurt or drugged. Not ever.

Go ahead and think I'm mean to say such a thing. You're wrong. And if you really think it can happen to anyone, then I suspect there are various varieties of people. And you and I are on different sides of that aisle.

Could. Never. Happen. Babies are the most important thing on this planet. You don't forget them.

Words cannot express

When there is an incident where someone is harmed, media outlets often provide a statement from the employer (or school administrator or whoever is the appropriate authority figure).

It seems that a majority of these statements begin with "Words cannot express..."

If words cannot express what you want to say, just be quiet. Okay? Your opening remark is an oral disclaimer, as I see it. You may as well begin with "Pay no attention to me, I'm just babbling..." or "Never mind what I'm about to tell you..." Those make as much sense as "Words cannot express..."

Here's an idea. Take the time to figure out some words that do express what you're feeling or thinking. And then make your statement. Just a thought.


The curious incident of the drone in the nighttime

For a week or two, we wondered if a "guy with a flashlight" was wandering around our property at night. What we saw was so strange, we couldn't grasp its nature.

A large area of light - in various colors - was moving around. My nephew was the first to see it. His initial take was that someone was wandering around the neighborhood with a flashlight. At 10 or 11 pm, this can seem a bit threatening. We were all at the windows, trying to figure out what it was. It was a vague light. It lit a large area but not brightly. And sometimes the light was blue while at other times it was a soft white.

Personally, I thought it was a couple who live nearby. They're rather odd, in that they take a boat out on the pond at night and keep a constant light running on the boat. The light doesn't shine ahead of them but lights up the boat itself, as if they need to see what they're doing aboard their craft. (And just what are they doing out there?) I figured they got a weird new light, one that shines in various colors. I couldn't see their boat, but what else could explain the roving light? This continued for about a week.

Then one night, my nephew saw four small lights hovering in the sky over the pond. They weren't moving. That pretty much clinched it. One of the neighbors was playing with a drone. On a night soon after that, I heard a whining, smallish engine moving overhead, then veering here and there in the air. Yup, a drone.

It's kinda creepy. It didn't seem like the drone's intention was to approach houses closely - to look in windows, or anything like that. It was just playing overhead, roving around and probably shining the light here and there so a camera could record images for the operator. Maybe the person was looking for animals. Or maybe he was just bored.

But yeah, it's kinda creepy. I don't think I'm going to enjoy this new era of drones. Life is strange enough already. On the other hand, they sure do take interesting videos when there's an accident or a fire or something else out of the ordinary.

The creepiness doesn't go away once you know what it is. At least, it didn't for me. I haven't seen it for a couple of weeks. Maybe it crashed and died. If that's the case, I hope the operator doesn't buy a new one.

Drones near my house. Ugh. Have you seen any in your area? Do tell.

September 2, 2014

Bruni on Obama

It's good. Go read it.

It happens every day now

A Delta Air Lines flight from New York to West Palm Beach, Florida, was diverted to Jacksonville because of a dispute between passengers over a reclining seat.
They make it sound as if these altercations are all about the passengers. Here's a shocking thought: it could have something to do with the seats and the space between the rows. I wonder if a perspicacious media sleuth will suss this out and write about the greed and callousness that went into the construction of those seats. She could get a Pulitzer for an insight like that.

September 1, 2014

Of hernias and manliness

Usually, I'm not one to blog about his illnesses. I find that tacky -- and please spare me from stories about people's colons. Please. However, I'm going to make an exception today. I've got a hernia. It really, really sucks. I can hardly do anything. In fact, I just had a hard time making sandwiches. Darn those foods on the lower shelves of the fridge! And that empty Baggie that fell to the floor will remain there until further notice. I cannot pick it up.

I know, I know: you didn't need to hear about this. But something goaded me into revealing this. Lately, I've heard so many baseball game announcers talking about hernias.

It all began when a Mets pitcher, Jhenry (pronounced Henry) Mejia, "excused" a bad pitching performance by saying that he had a hernia. The broadcasters excoriated him for this. "He only said that because he's a young player who doesn't know any better." I get it: you're not supposed to offer excuses for a bad performance on the field. You're supposed to say, "I was a fool out there on the mound; I should be shot; I promise to do better."

But since that day, the announcers have gone on to speak of many, many pitchers who "pitched the whole season with a hernia, without ever complaining". Apparently this showed their manliness. Uh-huh.

I don't believe it. I would be on the floor screaming if I tried to pitch today. And some guys pitched with a hernia for a whole season? You've got to be kidding. Or lying.

If any player did this, he must have had one of those special-edition Mickey Mouse hernias -- you know, the kind that don't hurt. Me, I've got the standard issue kind, where you can hardly walk.

I doubt these heroic stories and suspect they're a product of sports writing, meant to burnish the player's manliness credentials. Has anyone reading this ever had a hernia? Wanna comment? Could you pitch with it?

PS: In two weeks, I'll have surgery to correct the problem. I wish the operation was tomorrow.

CNN on the lack of atheist legislators

This rarely gets attention. Gee, I wonder why.
Why is it that we require our candidates to profess a religious faith, but not that they demonstrate even minimal scientific literacy? Our representatives in Congress make critical decisions on science policy and science funding, and yet are often hostile to the entire scientific enterprise. In 2012, Rep. Paul Broun, R-Georgia, while serving on the House science committee, famously said that evolution and the Big Bang are "lies from the pit of hell."

As one prejudice after another has fallen by the wayside and we have elected women, African-Americans, gays and lesbians, and Jewish people to represent us, we have seen that the world has not come to an end. Life continues, and our debate is enriched by the diversity of opinions. It is time to end the prejudice that keeps qualified people without faith from considering a run for public office and keeps atheist officials from being honest about their beliefs.
Mind you, the issue isn't getting attention even now. This is merely one man's opinion, presented in print on CNN's web site with a disclaimer attached, carefully stating that it's the opinion of one man, Carlos Moreno. God forbid we think CNN would actually say something like this on its own.

Fear of atheists. In git America, it's the norm. It's particularly sad since there is no god, and science is the only way out of our current problems. In a sense, if humans go down, it will be god that did it to us. Funny, since he doesn't even exist.

The hairless monkeys of Earth need help but it's doubtful whether they'll get it. And all because no one has the guts to say the emperor (god) has no clothes.