Tuesday, 26 July 2022

Simon & Garfunkel: My Little Town



Published 2008 by kimtisha
YouTube: My Little Town (3:52)
Photos of Florence and Roebling, NJ

In my little town
I grew up believing
God keeps his eye on us all
And He used to lean upon me
As I pledged allegiance to the wall
Lord, I recall
My little town
Coming home after school
Flying my bike past the gates
Of the factories
My mom doing the laundry
Hanging our shirts
In the dirty breeze

And after it rains
There’s a rainbow
And all of the colors are black
It’s not that the colors aren’t there
It’s just imagination they lack
Everything’s the same
Back in my little town

Nothing but the dead and dying
Back in my little town
Nothing but the dead and dying
Back in my little town

In my little town
I never meant nothin’
I was just my father’s son
Saving my money
Dreaming of glory
Twitching like a finger
On the trigger of a gun
Leaving nothing but the dead and dying
Back in my little town

Nothing but the dead and dying
Back in my little town
Nothing but the dead and dying
Back in my little town


References

Wikipedia: My Little Town
"My Little Town" is a 1975 song by the American duo Simon & Garfunkel. It was written by Paul Simon, who produced the track along with Art Garfunkel and Phil Ramone. The song was included on the 1975 solo releases from both Simon (Still Crazy After All These Years) and Garfunkel (Breakaway). It would not appear on any of the duo's albums until the 1997 anthology box set Old Friends and the 1999 compilation album The Best of Simon and Garfunkel. It was the first single release credited to the duo since the 1972 release of "America", released in conjunction with Simon and Garfunkel's Greatest Hits.

Wikipedia: Simon & Garfunkel
Simon & Garfunkel was an American duo consisting of singer-songwriter Paul Simon and singer Art Garfunkel. The duo rose to fame in 1965, largely on the strength of the hit single "The Sound of Silence".

web site: Paul Simon
During his distinguished career Paul Simon has been the recipient of many honors and awards including 12 Grammy Awards, three of which (“Bridge Over Troubled Water”, “Still Crazy After All These Years” and “Graceland”) were albums of the year. In 2003 he was given a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award for his work as half of the duo Simon and Garfunkel. He is a member of The Songwriters Hall of Fame, a recipient of their Johnny Mercer Award and is in the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Simon and Garfunkel and as a solo artist. His song “Mrs. Robinson” from the motion picture “The Graduate” was named in the top ten of The American Film Institute’s 100 Years 100 Songs.

web site: Art Garfunkel
official web site

my blog: Simon & Garfunkel: A Hazy Shade Of Winter
"A Hazy Shade of Winter" is a song written by Paul Simon, recorded and released by Simon & Garfunkel in 1966, and then included on their 1968 album, Bookends.

my blog: Simon & Garfunkel: Fakin' It
"Fakin' It" was one of Simon's and Garfunkel's single releases in 1967.

2022-07-26

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Wednesday, 13 July 2022

Dave Chappelle, Ricky Gervais, J. K. Rowling, and the Third Gender

3,125 words, 10-minute read

Over the past few years, especially during this era of t****, I have watched dismayed at the rise of opinion. One person's opinion is equal to another person's knowledge. Faith triumphs over facts. Belief is the same as reality. To paraphrase Winston Churchill:

Never have so many, knowing so little, said so much.

I remember a U.S. senator was being interviewed about global warming, and a journalist asked how he was going to vote on an up-coming bill. He said, "I don't believe in climate change. But I'm not a scientist." I don't believe it but I'm stupid? I don't believe it, but I refuse to spend any time correcting my ignorance? Our worldview is the sum total of our life experiences but what if our lack of life experiences leads to a faulty worldview? This is a U.S. senator voting on a critical piece of legislation which impacts our future, and he admits in front of the world he doesn't know what he's talking about.

Ignorance is not just for the uneducated.
  • J. K. Rowling
    She pens a four-thousand-word essay where she takes the stance that biology dictates we are all born male or female; any other variation is invalid. She declares herself a TERF, a trans-exclusionary radical feminist and voices concern about transgender women being allowed into women's restrooms afraid they may molest other women. Needless to say, she got a lot of flak.
  • Dave Chappelle
    In his 2021 comedy special The Closer, he makes a number of jokes about the transgender community. The reaction was mixed with some LGBTQ groups boycotting the film. Like Rowlings, he sees the issue as a question about biology; we are born either male or female. He also declared himself a TERF.
  • Ricky Gervais
    In his latest comedy special he bemoans the current state of affairs, missing the good ol' days when women had wombs instead of cocks.
  • Jordan Peterson
    His stance like the others seems to be about biology. I note he got himself in hot water on Twitter for criticizing the physician who performed the sex reassignment surgery on Elliot Page.
What does anyone do when they are confronted with something they've never seen before, with something they know nothing about? They do a double take. They doubt it's very existence. And if they're a comedian, they make fun of it, mocking it as not being real.

It is apparent that not one of the above people have heard of The Third Gender, a concept which has existed for thousands of years and has been accepted in other cultures, but which is, according to Wikipedia (referencing Anthropological Theory: An Introductory History (2007) by Richard Warms, Richard L. Warms, R. Jon McGee), still somewhat new to mainstream western culture and conceptual thought. I return to our initial reaction: We don't believe it exists and ridicule the idea.

How did my views about this develop? Let me recount a number of events in my life from the past fifty years.

I, like the rest of the world, was amazed and enthralled in 1968 by the release of the album Switched-On Bach by Walter Carlos, proof once again of the genius of Bach but proof that this modern electronic instrument was more than just an experimental fad.

Fast forward to 1979. I walk by a display rack of magazines and see the latest copy of Playboy, announcing an interview with Wendy Carlos. I always thought Playboy was a good magazine and would have bought it without the pictorials of naked women. I paged through the mag to read the opening of the interview where they always gave a short bio of the person being interviewed. Holy cow! Wendy is Walter or was Walter. I bought the Playboy and read the entire interview. Had I ever heard of a man transitioning to a woman? I don't remember but because of my love for the original album, I certainly paid attention to this person's story of their life journey.

I was vaguely aware of Christine Jorgensen (1926-1989), an American trans woman who was the first person to become widely known in the United States for having sex reassignment surgery.

Throughout the 1980s and the 1990s, I followed the rise of gay culture and the horrors of HIV. There was a world out there I personally knew nothing about but just because I had no personal experience with it, didn't mean this world didn't exist. It was very much real.

I saw the 1992 thriller The Crying Game and was surprised by the reveal of the lead woman being a man. This was completely foreign to me. I had no personal experience with such a situation, and it was surprising to discover such a thing was even possible and existed in the world.

In 1997, I got a call from the wife of a high school buddy I had not seen in twenty years. Would I come visit him? He was dying from AIDS. Bobby completed university, got a career, got married, and had two children, a normal, typical life. But he confessed to me that he had had unprotected sex in a bathhouse with a man, a total stranger. Now, he was paying the ultimate price, and six months later, he was dead. Was he secretly gay? I suddenly remembered that while the rest of us dated in high school, he never did. Was there something I was unaware of all those years? In looking back on high school, there was homophobia. It was part of the culture. Did Bobby keep his true self hidden from the rest of us?

I was fascinated by the 1999 movie The Matrix. The Wachowshis brothers had produced an entertaining and profound film experience. Hats off to them.

Today, it's the Wachowskis sisters. Larry transitioned to Lana in 2008, and Andy transitioned to Lily in 2016.

Throughout the 1990s and 2000s, RuPaul rose the fame, presenting quite a different lifestyle and personage from the mainstream. There was more to life than the traditional man, woman, husband, and wife, white picket fence in the suburbs with 2.5 children.

In researching for my blog, I ran across the story of Casa Susanna. In the early 1960s, cross-dressing men and transgender women would gather at this weekend destination and spend time together, all as women. In 2005, a book of photographs was published which led to a stage play. It's curious to look at these mostly black and white photos showing dozens of men dressed as women sitting around, eating, playing cards, reading, behaving as normal human beings, their only exception is that these were men dressed as women.

I also discovered that the American Psychiatric Association (APA), in their book the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), classified homosexuality as a mental disorder until 1973. (Wikipedia: Homosexuality in the DSM) Even then, the manual listed in one form or another various terms to describe distress over homosexuality, and it was not until 2013 that any reference to homosexuality was removed. It would seem our views on human sexuality, whether anecdotal or institutional, are deeply ingrained.

From my blog What the @#$%^* do I know about sex?, Sep 27/2011:

Back in the early 90's, I'm watching one of the talk shows, not quite as elevated as Oprah but not as low as Jerry Springer. A couple is being interviewed but we're given to understand they have a secret. Commercial break. We return to see two women. I look closer. Woman number two is the husband; he's dressed up in drag. The wife explains that her husband has always had a fetish for women's clothes and once a month he dresses up and the 2 of them go out for a drink together as 2 female friends. She goes on to say that her husband is a wonderful man, a great husband, a good lover and an excellent father; he just seems to have this one special quirk and it is the only oddity out of an otherwise exemplary human being.

Now just mull that one over for a minute. We have a gentleman who has a fetish for woman's clothes. How in heaven's name did this couple arrive at a point where the man could bring this up with his wife? Who knows, maybe he told her about his fetish before they were married, and she married him anyways. The point is that their relationship was open and honest enough that they could discuss this. But look at the alternative. What if she had reacted to this discovery with, "Eew. Get away from me your goddamn weird-oh pervert!" Well, there's one relationship which would have come to a screeching halt and there's one guy who would say to himself that he would never, ever again speak frankly with anybody about "his secret".

At some point she must have weighed the pros and cons and felt the balance sheet showed more benefits than liabilities. But picture what would have happened if the man felt so ashamed of his feelings that he never talked about them with his wife; he kept them hidden. Do I see a potential headline? "Respected family and businessman Fred Schwartz, seen here dressed up in drag in a photograph taken in the local bar Tom's Eatery, was arrested this past Saturday."


In 2017, on a social media platform, I run into a person identified by a female avatar, Alice. We chat, the usual small talk. But then, things turn serious, and Alice decides to tell me her story. Alice is actually Frank, a 55-year-old man transitioning to a woman. Frank was born male. He grew up male. He went to school, graduated, and found himself a career as a male. He got married and had two children. At the age of fifty, he decides to come out. His wife is accepting but she said she couldn't live as a lesbian, so they get a divorce, remaining good friends and still co-parenting. Frank sends me a real-life photo of himself. I see a man, wearing makeup and a wig in a dress. He looks nothing like a woman; he looks like a man in drag. He looks very much the men dressed as women in the photos of Casa Susanna.

Our conversation came to an end, and we went our separate ways never to see one another again. However, I've thought about this story on many occasions. What trials and tribulations was Frank going to face? What ridicule? Obviously, this was important to him, or he wouldn't risk it all, but I still found it incredible that he gets through fifty years of his life as a man but now feels it is of the utmost importance he finds the real him in a woman.

Moving into the 2010s, the question of transgender became more visible in the media. I was aware of Laverne Cox (b 1972), an actress and transgender advocate who rose to prominence in the Netflix series Orange is the New Black. I noted Wikipedia's list of transgender people, bringing attention to the extent of the phenomenon.

What does all this mean?

In light of the above, with the controversaries about transgender over the past few years and not delving into the differences between transgender, transvestite, gay, etc., I did some research and ran across The Third Gender. I like to say that if something happens once or twice, it could be nothing more than a fluke. But when it happens repeatedly, there has to be a phenomenon, something real which I'm unaware of. For years, I knew about the shemale niche in porn, males who appeared as women but with male genitalia. It was all titillating but my curiosity about the topic had led me some time ago to the conclusion there was more to this than meets the eye. I had heard of the ladyboys of Thailand (Kathoey), some, because of discrimination, are forced to work in the sex trade. I could ask why men would be attracted to a ladyboy, but I could also ask why a man would want to become a ladyboy.

I return to an earlier statement: [The Third Gender is] still somewhat new to mainstream western culture and conceptual thought. The Wikipedia article, with references in the footnotes, describes this concept as dating back thousands of years. Human sexuality can be more than just the traditional binary of male and female with various shades of gray, feminine males, masculine females, androgynous, hermaphrodite, etc.

All of us are faced with something we've never seen before; with something we know nothing about. It's disconcerting. It upsets the balance of our world. But is this thing really new, or is it merely new to us? Is the problem that we're confronting something unseen or is the problem that we're confronting our ignorance? I'll be the first to recognise that it's a big world out there, and there's a lot going on I know nothing about. My problem is not falling into the trap of dismissing something if I, personally, know nothing about it. My ignorance doesn't make something invalid.

J. K. Rowling
I just finished reading once again the entirety of the June 10, 2020 essay which supposedly got Ms. Rowling into trouble. It's heartfelt and brings up important points about the transgender issue. Nevertheless, her belief in the innateness of gender doesn't explain all of the previous examples I've mentioned. She admits to being "triggered" by her own bad experiences, and I question how much this has clouded her judgement. She says she's worried about men being granted access to women's washrooms, forgetting when referencing the leader of the free world’s long history of sexual assault accusations and his proud boast of ‘grabbing them by the pussy’, that any man can walk into the women's washroom right now without having to pretend to be a woman.

I can't help feeling that like water, this issue will find its own level. The pendulum has been on the side of denying transgender, keep it in the closet, ignore it, and it will go away. Activists have pushed the pendulum to the other side and now, everything is about transgender. (I see a parallel with homosexuality in our society.) I'm sure there's a middle ground. There is a third gender.

Dave Chapelle
I've watched a number of clips about Chappelle's transgender jokes taken from the comedy special The Closer. (YouTube: here, here) In my piece The S Word, I talk about how the N word can only be used by blacks and go on to conclude that the S word (slut) can really only be used by women. Chapelle is a comedian. He's trying to make jokes. However, Chapelle is not transgender, and his jokes come across as homophobic and cruel. Yes, homophobic. In one piece, he talks about Caitlyn Jenner possibly posing nude in Sports Illustrated. After making comedic faces of surprise and disgust, he states that he's going to say it for everybody, "Yuck!" Every joke has a premise, and the premise here is that somehow Caitlyn's female genitalia are not just inferior but disgusting. Why? The only conclusion is that Chappelle is still thinking of Caitlyn Jenner being Bruce Jenner, and being a heterosexual man, Chappelle is saying yuck to a man. In another piece, he says, "I'm not saying trans women are not women. I'm just saying those pussies they got... You know what I mean?" I'm sorry, that's not funny. It's cruel. I'm sure a transgender woman as a comedian could impart humor in some of these ideas but hearing a man, Dave Chappelle say them, it comes across as mean. So, for me, the real controversy is not Chappelle stating his opinion about transgender issues, it's that he's a professional comedian who's failed at his job. He's not funny. And I find his opinion to be uninformed. It's obvious he has no idea of what The Third Gender is.

Ricky Gervais
In his Netflix special, Supernature, Gervais speaks longingly of the old-fashioned woman, the ones with wombs but says he enjoys the new women, the ones with beards and cocks. (YouTube: here) He's trying to be funny, but his joke is based on the premise that this issue is something new. It's like he tells a joke about machines in the air that fly like birds. Well, hello! Did somebody just wake up from a hundred-year coma? Gervais is a professional comedian. It's his job to be funny. I'm not going to discuss possible transphobia, woke culture trying to cancel him, etc. I'm merely going to say these jokes aren't funny. He's failed at his job. The reference to the old-fashioned confirms what was said above: This is new to western culture. There is a third gender.

Jordan Peterson
I don't really know Mr. Peterson. However, I have run into his public pronouncements through media and have found that for whatever reason, he has not clearly thought through the implications of what he's said. (Peterson talks about Canada's response to the pandemic, and I wonder, if he had been in charge, how many Canadians he would have killed.) He criticizes Elliot Page and his transition from Ellen to Elliot. Twitter suspends Peterson's account. (here) I have no idea what Peterson thinks he's going to achieve with his adamantly opinionated stance, but I repeat what I said above. There is a Third Gender.

Final Word
Something is going on. There's a phenomenon happening. I've never had doubts about my gender. I'm a male. I've always been one; I will always be one. However, I've seen enough to realize I'm not looking at a few isolated incidences, flukes as it were, but something significant in the human race as a whole. I can no longer look at the world purely from my own life but must conclude there are things going on outside my realm of experience.

I can't help thinking the above mentioned four public figures will sooner or later revise their opinions. It's obvious to me none of them know anything about The Third Gender. I repeat they are each giving their opinion as opposed to saying what they know. Belief trumps knowledge. In my piece Cancel Culture, Supposedly, I talk about those who complain about woke people trying to cancel them. I then go see why they've incurred the wrath of the crowd and have found on far too many occasions the individual in question deserves their wrath by being sexist, racist, xenophobic, ill-informed, misinformed, or just plain stupid. If what anybody believes ostracizes another group of people, I'd say they desperately need to reassess their beliefs. They complain about being cancelled, not realizing how they themselves are cancelling other people.


References

Wikipedia: TERF
TERF is an acronym for trans-exclusionary radical feminist. First recorded in 2008, the term originally applied to the minority of feminists espousing sentiments that other feminists considered transphobic, such as the rejection of the assertion that trans women are women, the exclusion of trans women from women's spaces, and opposition to transgender rights legislation. The meaning has since expanded to refer more broadly to people with trans-exclusionary views who may have no involvement with radical feminism.

Those referred to with the word TERF typically reject the term or consider it a slur; some identify themselves as gender critical.[5] Critics of the word TERF say that it has been used in an overly-broad fashion and in an insulting manner, alongside violent rhetoric. In academic discourse, there is no consensus on whether or not TERF constitutes a slur.


Wikipedia: Casa Susanna
Casa Susanna was a popular weekend destination in Jewett, NY for cross-dressing men and transgender women in the early 1960s. The bungalow camp was run by Susanna Valenti and her wife Marie, who also ran a wig store in town.

A Safe House for the Girl Within By Penelope Green, NY Times, Sept. 7, 2006
There was a pilot and a businessman, an accountant, a librarian and a pharmacologist. There was a newspaper publisher, and a court translator. By day, they were the men in the gray flannel suits, but on the weekends, they were Felicity, Cynthia, Gail, Sandy, Fiona, Virginia and Susanna. It was the dawn of the 1960’s, yet they wore their late 50’s fashions with awkward pride: the white gloves, the demure dresses and low heels, the stiff wigs. Many were married with children, or soon would be. In those pre-Judith Butler, pre-Phil Donahue days, when gender was more tightly tethered to biology, these men’s “gender migrations,” or “gender dysphoria,” as the sociologists began to call cross-dressing, might cost them their marriages, their jobs, their freedom.

2022-07-13

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Thursday, 7 July 2022

Pro-lifers are morally superior to the rest of us.

Postscript 2022-07-07

Full disclosure: I'm a libtard, a badge I wear with great pride. To borrow from the 1960s hippies, I'm a peace, love, and understanding type of guy. And if you haven't guessed, I'm pro-choice but let me add a seeming contradiction: I, too, am anti-abortion. This is elective surgery and represents an unwanted pregnancy. If all babies arrived at the right time, if all pregnancies were wanted, nobody would have an abortion.

Morally Superior
Abortion is murder. It goes against God's will. I'm not going to argue those points but I'm going to point out the contradiction in all this.

Pro-lifers want to enact a law but don't care if it's followed. They've done their work; it is now up to the rest of us to respect that law. If somebody unintentionally gets pregnant, if somebody tries to get an illegal abortion, it's the fault of the individual, not the pro-lifers.

The rate of abortion could be zero, today.
If we collectively instituted a comprehensive program of sex education, if we ensured birth control was readily available to everyone, condoms for all, the pill for women, and I would also include vasectomies for men, pregnancy would only happen when people would want a pregnancy. Nobody gets an abortion if they want to have a baby. People seek abortions only because they don't want a baby.

But pro-lifers do not want sex education. They do not want to distribute birth control. They want abstinence and for them, there is no other way of dealing with sex.

An anti-abortion law makes pro-Lifers feel good about themselves
They don't care about reducing the rate of abortion to zero. They don't care who dies having a botched abortion. They don't care about the pain and heartache of those faced with a life-changing situation. I repeat they don't care about reducing the rate of abortion to zero. They just want to feel good about themselves. They want to feel morally superior to the rest of us. They want to go to bed at night, feeling they've done the Lord's work as if they had exclusive access to the Almighty's intent. If the rest of us can't see the goodness in His way, well, too bad for us. We're all going to Hell.

If pro-lifers truly wanted to reduce the rate of abortion to zero, they should be willing to do anything to achieve that goal, sex education, birth control, etc. But they aren't willing. And so, they fail. Making something illegal does not stop that thing. Prostitution, drugs, speeding, texting, heck, even murder! The very fact something is deemed illegal does not mean people will not do it. If people want something, law be damned!

As an aside, I would point out how Portugal decriminalized drugs in 2001, focusing on therapy not prison sentences. (Drug liberalization: Portugal) While going against the common, accepted approach of combating drug use with incarceration, the country has seen an improvement in their situation.

Pro-Lifers think they're doing God's will.
Guess what? Not everybody believes the same thing. Abortion is murder? Not everybody agrees. According to WHO, the World Health Organization, there are over 70 million abortions in the world each year. (WHO, Nov 2021) That's a lot of people who disagree with pro-lifers. Out of all religions, Christianity accounts for only 31% of the world population. (Wikipedia) In the United States, 55% of the population identify as pro-choice with 39% as pro-life. (Gallup, 2022)

God's will? I repeat how pro-lifers are so concerned about the fetus but then have nothing to say once the baby is born. Don't understand my point? Two words: school shootings. It is the height of hypocrisy to campaign against abortion and yet do nothing about gun violence.

The Christian Taliban
A pro-choicer says have an abortion, or don't have an abortion, it's your choice. A pro-lifer says I'm right, and everybody has to do what I say.

Final Word
This whole debate is f*cking stupid. Medical science says that preventative is better than curative. It is easier and less costly. Once you are sick, a lot more is involved in resolving the problem. We are arguing about how to deal with an unwanted pregnancy. Why oh why did we get to this point? Why is anybody getting pregnant when they don't want to get pregnant?

I repeat I'm pro-choice but I'm anti-abortion. Collectively, we have the means today to reduce the rate of abortion to zero. However, pro-lifers have turned this into a moral issue and refuse to do what's necessary to make that happen. Consequently, this supposed victory of overturning Roe vs. Wade is an empty victory. Abortions will continue regardless of the law, but now, due to the illegality of the procedure, those abortions will be done in secret, not under optimal circumstances, and the rate of injury and death will go up. The WHO estimates 45% of the over 70 million abortions a year worldwide are unsafe which I assume means illegal. Despite the morality of religion, despite the laws of the country, women still seek out abortions at the risk of their own lives. But Like Pontius Pilate, pro-lifers wash their hands of responsibility.



Postscript 2022-07-07
Shortly after I posted this article on Twitter, I got a response which led to the following exchange. According X's Twitter profile, she's "married, anti-abortionist asf, conservative." (FYI: "asf" seems to be textspeak for "as f*ck")

X: LMAO

Me: I'm sorry you didn't read my article. I'm an anti-abortionist. I want to see the rate of abortion at zero. However, while you and others celebrate the overturning of Roe vs Wade, I note you have failed to stop abortion. You can make abortion illegal but you can't stop it.

X: I personally cannot stop abortion or make it illegal. I'm leaving it up to the higher ups to do that.

Me: I suppose we all leave it in the hands of the higher-ups. But should we support somebody who keeps failing to deliver? I want no abortions. None at all. Making something illegal doesn't stop it. This isn't a win.

X: I want abortion criminalized for the mother and abortionist. I think overturning Roe was a good thing but we still have work to do

Me: You haven't read my article. Until you address the issue of "unwanted" pregnancy, you will never stop abortion no matter the fines, the jail time, heck, even if you execute the mother and the doctor! Why? Other people don't see abortion the way you do.

X: Then that's not my problem then

I'm sure X is a nice person and wants to make the world a better place. But I keep running into this, especially with conservatives. They have a vote, and they're going to use it but detailed questioning reveals that they don't grasp the issues. Their vote is blind obedience to their party. Once they cast their vote, they get back to living their lives, free from any worry about whether or not issues are resolved. And if those issues are not resolved, there's always an explanation. "That's not my problem."

The sign of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. -Unknown


I have to shake my head. Over and over again, I see the same mistakes being committed. Why? Opinion is now the same as knowledge. Faith is the same as fact. One's belief is equal to another's expertise. But that's not my problem.


References

my blog: Abortion: If we make it illegal, the problem will go away - June 26, 2010
I watched a news item on television last night which stated that every year 25,000 women die from unsafe abortions in Africa and 1.7 million are injured. Due to the restrictive laws governing abortions in almost all African countries, virtually all of the 5.6 million abortions performed annually in Africa are unsafe. Apparently only about 100,000 of them are performed by trained professionals in a safe environment.

my blog: Abortion: My final word on unwanted pregnancy - Sep 24, 2010
The never-ending debate.

2022-07-07

Site Map - William Quincy BelleFollow me on Twitter

Sunday, 3 July 2022

Charlottesville: Jews will not replace us!

Like many on August 11, 2017, I watched the scenes of white supremacists and neo-Nazis, wielding tiki torches while chanting anti-Semitic slogans. An anti-Nazi meme I later saw stated: You don't get to be both a Nazi and a proud American. We literally had a war about this. The whole world was involved.

I was perplexed. It was 2017, 72 years after the end of WWII and the horrors of the Holocaust. Why was anybody bringing this up? The issue had been settled: anti-Semitism bad.

However, the more I thought about it, I had seen a growing number of examples over these past few years of where Jews have been made out to be the go-to group for hatred. Conspiracy theorists loved to formulate all sorts of evil plots around the Jews conquering the world and subjugating all other people. George Soros, being rich, was a well-known target for these tall tales.

I knew that the world population had passed 7.6 billion in 2017 and as of this writing, I've heard the number stands at 7.96 billion. What I didn't know was how many Jews there are in the world. Previously, I had seen pie charts showing the various religions in the world and remembered that the Jewish faith always was part of a very small slice of the pie labelled other. What was the exact number? Was it technically possible for the Jews replace them?

Question: How many Jews are there in the world?

20 million

I fell off my chair. Wait! What? That can't be right. There has to be more of them than that!

I had started with Wikipedia but then moved on to other sources to double check, triple check, and quadruple check that number. I consulted the work of Sergio Della Pegola, an Italian Israeli statistician, specializing in Jewish demography. (World Jewish Population,2020)

As of 2020, the world's "core" Jewish population (those identifying as Jews above all else) was estimated at 14.8 million, 0.2% of the 7.95 billion worldwide population. This number rises to 18 million with the addition of the "connected" Jewish population, including those who say they are partly Jewish or that have Jewish backgrounds from at least one Jewish parent, and rises again to 21 million with the addition of the "enlarged" Jewish population, including those who say they have Jewish backgrounds but no Jewish parents and all non-Jewish household members who live with Jews. Counting all those who are eligible for Israeli citizenship under Israel's Law of Return, in addition to Israeli Jews, raised the total to 23.8 million. -Wikipedia

Israel is the number one country with 6.3 million core population and the United States second with 5.7 million. All other countries are measured in less than half a million, most with tens of thousands. (Core = 100% Jewish, no partial connections)

My Background
I grew up in a Protestant family. The family across the street was Jewish. The people up the street were Catholic. Everybody in my neighborhood all seemed to be at the same place in life; all the neighborhood kids were around the same age. We all played together. Adults had cocktail parties together. Every May 24, the entire neighborhood came together to celebrate Victoria Day in Canada in a common park in the center of the neighborhood with Moms dispensing food and Dads lighting off fireworks. My parents went to a bar mitzvah of the Jewish family. I never thought anything of any differences such as religion. It all seemed perfectly normal.

It wasn't until later in life I started running into racism, sexism, antisemitism, etc. These ideas were foreign to me. And perplexing. Just what the heck was the issue? Hate Jews? Why? I couldn't see any justification for such an attitude.

For my entire adult life, Jews have always been around: neighbors, friends, school mates, co-workers, businesspeople, etc. Every major center had a synagogue. For the last 23 years of my career in I.T., I ran the computer department of a small company. One of my best employees was an orthodox Jew who always wore a yarmulka.

It did occur to me that the entertainment industry had its share of Jews. Mel Brooks and Jerry Seinfeld immediately come to mind however, in consulting a list, there are an astounding number of names.

Question: If Jews don't have quantity, do they have visibility?

Although Jews constitute only 3% of the U.S. population, 80% of the nation's professional comedians are Jewish. (Time Magazine, Oct 2/1978)

Wait! What? Hold on here a sec. Why would so many Jews gravitate to such a field?

New York City Psychologist Samuel Janus, who once did a yearlong stint as a stand-up comic, thinks that he has the answer: Jewish humor is born of depression and alienation from the general culture. For Jewish comedians, he told the recent annual meeting of the American Psychological Association, "comedy is a defense mechanism to ward off the aggression and hostility of others." (Time Magazine, Oct 2/1978)

Holy cow!

However, the question of visibility segways into the next question.

Question: Are Jews richer than others?

My father was a dentist. I grew up in an upper middle-class family in an upper middle-class neighborhood. In my own life, I lived in an upper middle class tax bracket. If my impression is that I've always run into Jews, is there a correlation with income?

The median income of the United States in 2020 was around $67,000. (census.gov)

A study in the United States (based on data from 1985 to 1998), conducted by the sociologist Lisa A. Keister and published in the Social Forces journal, found that adherents of Judaism and Episcopalianism accumulated the most wealth, believers in Catholicism and mainline Protestants were in the middle, while conservative Protestants accumulated the least; in general, people who attend religious services accumulated more wealth than those who do not (taking into account variations of education and other factors). Keister suggested that wealth accumulation is shaped by family processes. According to the study, the median net worth of people believing in Judaism is calculated at 150,890 USD, while the median net worth of conservative Protestants (including Baptists, Jehovah's Witnesses, Seventh-day Adventists, Christian Scientists) was US$26,200. -Wikipedia: Wealth and religion

The same article has an interesting explanation for this income gap: A study published in the American Journal of Sociology by Lisa Keister, found that "wealth affects religion indirectly through educational attainment, fertility, and female labor force participation" but also found some evidence of direct effects of religion on wealth attainment. Keister notes that certain religious beliefs ("one should have many children", "women should not work") lower wealth accumulation, both on the micro- and macro-scale.

I have to assume that being richer means more important types of work, positions with more power, more authority, and hence, more visibility.

Question: Why are Jews seemingly always picked on?

To understand why anti-Semitic rhetoric is so common among modern conspiracy theorists, we need to go back over 2,000 years. Deborah Lipstadt, an Emory University historian and leading expert on anti-Semitism, traces the structure of anti-Semitic ideas back to the very origins of Christianity — specifically, the New Testament description of Jesus’s death.

The early Church taught that “the Jews” conspired to kill Jesus — even though Jesus and his apostles were all Jewish and the Romans who actually executed him in the story were not. This, according to Lipstadt, was in part a strategic choice: Christianity had become a competing religion to Judaism, and its leadership wanted to marginalize the older, more deeply rooted tradition. What better way to do that than to blame Jews for killing the literal savior, casting remaining Jews as Christ-denying heirs to a dark conspiracy?

(Marjorie Taylor Greene’s space laser and the age-old problem of blaming the Jews, Vox, Jan 30/2022)

As I said above, I've always lived with Jews around. I do not understand hatred for them. But I also have to note that I have always been less religious than others. In fact, I would never say I'm Protestant, even though I was supposedly raised as one, and today, I declare myself to be agnostic. Does my lack of religion mean I may have been less influenced by Christianity and potential anti-Semitism?

It's curious to see that Pew Research reports that Jews in U.S. are far less religious than Christians and Americans overall:

12% of U.S. Jewish adults say they attend religious services weekly or more often, compared with 27% of the general public and 38% of U.S. Christians. And 21% of Jewish adults say religion is very important in their lives, compared with 41% of U.S. adults overall and 57% of Christians.

Final Word
I can summarize my findings as follows:
  • There are approximately 20 million Jews out of a world population of nearly 8 billion, representing 0.025% of the global population.
  • While Jews are throughout the world, the two major countries for Jewish populations are Israel (6.3 million) followed by the United States (5.7 million).
  • In the United States, Jews are wealthier than average.
  • Because of their higher income, Jews tend to be in professional positions, implying more visibility in society, and potentially with more influence.
  • Anti-Semitism seems to have its origins in Christianity.
I'm impressed. I stand back and look at the big picture, studying the statistics, and conclude there is something about the Jewish faith which makes them work harder and achieve more. While numerically, they can't replace everybody, they may seem to be everywhere. Certainly, their involvement in the entertainment industry is astounding.

I'm also angry. Over the past ten years in writing this blog, researching articles, trying to determine "the truth", I have constantly run into people voicing opinions which have no basis in reality. Two plus two does not equal five. The Earth is not flat. These people do no research on their own but merely parrot things said by others. It's not about the truth; it's about confirmation bias. And the Dunning-Kruger Effect is on full display. I'm not a genius. I don't know everything. But somehow my critical thinking, my bullsh*t detector ofttimes leads me to question statements made by people, whether in person or in social media. Is such and such really true? Where's the evidence? It's pretty much given that the Right, conservatives, Republicans, and Christian Evangelicals will say things but be unable to prove them. I'm willing to discuss any topic but please, for the love of God, quit telling me I'm a sheeple and that I should look it up, because when I do, I find out you're full of sh*t! I am outraged by the sheer tsunami of unprovable conspiracy theories blindly repeated by people displaying a level of stupidity which defies belief.

I read several articles about Peter Cytanovic, the 20-year-old man in the picture above. He got himself into a lot of P.R. trouble over this picture making him the face of white supremacy. He claims to have denounced the movement but still spouts white nationalistic ideas. If you're white and think your race needs defending, you need to reassess your worldview. We in North American have always lived in a white-dominated culture. Don't tell me you're hard done by. Reverse racism, my ass!

Charlottesville: Jews will not replace you? Fuck off!


References

Wikipedia: Unite the Right rally
The Unite the Right rally was a white supremacist rally that took place in Charlottesville, Virginia, from August 11 to 12, 2017. Far-right groups participated, including self-identified members of the alt-right, neo-Confederates, neo-fascists, white nationalists, neo-Nazis, Klansmen, and various right-wing militias. Some groups chanted racist and antisemitic slogans and carried weapons, Nazi and neo-Nazi symbols, the Valknut, Confederate battle flags, Deus vult crosses, flags, and other symbols of various past and present anti-Islamic and anti-Semitic groups. The organizers' stated goals included the unification of the American white nationalist movement and opposing the proposed removal of the statue of General Robert E. Lee from Charlottesville's former Lee Park.

Wikipedia: Charlottesville car attack
The Charlottesville car attack was a white supremacist terrorist attack perpetrated on August 12, 2017, when James Alex Fields, Jr. deliberately drove his car into a crowd of people peacefully protesting the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, murdering one person and injuring 35. 20-year-old Fields had previously espoused neo-Nazi and white supremacist beliefs, and drove from Ohio to attend the rally. He was convicted in a state court for the first-degree murder of 32-year-old Heather Heyer, eight counts of malicious wounding, and hit and run, and was sentenced to life in prison plus an additional 419 years in July 2019. He also pled guilty to 29 of 30 federal hate crime charges to avoid the death penalty, which resulted in another life sentence handed down in June 2019.

UnHerd: Should we forgive extremists? - April 20/2022
On August 11, 2017, [Peter] Cytanovic [,a 20-year-old student at the University of Nevada in Reno] travelled to Charlottesville, Virginia, to attend the Unite the Right rally, a gathering of white nationalists including Klu Klux Klan members, neo-Nazis, and white supremacists. As night fell, the angry crowd marched and chanted racist and anti-Semitic slogans. Cytanovic was in the thick of it, holding a tiki-torch aloft as he screamed at counter-protesters. A photographer captured the moment. Soon, his picture was everywhere. “I was the face of white terror,” he tells me.

Wikipedia: Jewish population by country
As of 2020, the world's "core" Jewish population (those identifying as Jews above all else) was estimated at 14.8 million, 0.2% of the 7.95 billion worldwide population. This number rises to 18 million with the addition of the "connected" Jewish population, including those who say they are partly Jewish or that have Jewish backgrounds from at least one Jewish parent, and rises again to 21 million with the addition of the "enlarged" Jewish population, including those who say they have Jewish backgrounds but no Jewish parents and all non-Jewish household members who live with Jews. Counting all those who are eligible for Israeli citizenship under Israel's Law of Return, in addition to Israeli Jews, raised the total to 23.8 million.

2022-07-03

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Monday, 27 June 2022

Movie Review: Good Luck to You, Leo Grande

This is a small film, a really small film. When I compare it to the latest top box office, I have to wonder why anybody would bother. When I look at the plot, I realize this is targeting a niche market. However, now that I've seen it, I can attest to a profound story with stellar performances. It has a message for all of us. To paraphrase Henry David Thoreau: [Most people] live lives of quiet desperation.

Nancy, played by Emma Thompson, is retired, recently widowed, and unhappy. She knows she's missed out on something in life and tries to correct this by hiring a male sex worker. She reveals she's never had an orgasm in her life. She describes the perfunctory sex with her husband as penetration in the darkness with him subsequently rolling over and going to sleep. Her husband said oral sex, man on woman or woman on man, was demeaning to him and as a consequence, Nancy has never had a truly intimate moment with a partner.

Leo, played by Daryl McCormack, is something more than a sex worker; he's a therapist. He's kind. He's patient. He remains focused on Nancy, listening to her rants, easing her anxiousness, and going slowly to grant her permission to feel the pleasure she's been denied her whole life. The movie walks the line between the titillation and discomfort of the topic of sex, and the seriousness of the fundamental right of human beings to enjoy their own bodies. Sex is an integral part of the human experience. It can fulfill us and complete us. Nancy confesses that after one of their bouts of sex, she felt powerful.

I come back to a life of quiet desperation. If you don't do it now, when will you do it? How many people go through life unfulfilled and never, literally and figuratively, have an orgasm? Our society frowns upon sex. Prostitution is for the most part illegal. Collectively, we have succeeded in making our lives sometimes uncomfortable and dissatisfying. It's a subplot of the movie that sex work can be a good thing for both the practitioner and the client.

The film is not a love story. In the end, Nancy and Leo go their separate ways, back to their lives, better for their meeting. I give Emma Thompson credit. She's a brave woman. At the end of the film, this 63-year-old actress stands before a mirror stark naked, portraying a woman now aware of herself and her body. She's not a model. She's not perfect. She's just an average person with all the imperfections any of us have in life. But she's an average person who's made the first step in casting off her desperation. It's never too late to change.



Published on May 16/2020 by SearchlightPictures
YouTube: Trailer: Good Luck to You, Leo Grande (1:43)
In GOOD LUCK TO YOU, LEO GRANDE, two-time Academy Award winner Emma Thompson (Love, Actually) embodies the candor and apprehension of retired teacher Nancy Stokes, and newcomer Daryl McCormack (Peaky Blinders) personifies the charisma and compassion of sex worker Leo Grande. As Nancy embarks on a post-marital sexual awakening and Leo draws on his skills and charm, together they find a surprising human connection.

Final Word
Recommended. While some may feel the plot targets an older audience, I feel the message is universal. Go for the brass ring. Don't wait, do it now. Good luck to us all.


References

Wikipedia: Good Luck to You, Leo Grande Good Luck to You, Leo Grande is a 2022 British sex comedy-drama film directed by Sophie Hyde and written by Katy Brand. The film stars Emma Thompson and Daryl McCormack. [The film] had its world premiere at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival on 22 January 2022, and was released on 17 June 2022, theatrically in the United Kingdom by Lionsgate, and digitally in the United States by Searchlight Pictures as a Hulu original film.

Rotten Tomatoes: Good Luck to You, Leo Grande: 95% (as of 2022-06-27)
Sexual awakening stories aren't in short supply, but Good Luck to You, Leo Grande proves you can still tell one with a refreshing -- and very funny -- spin.

Box Office
As of today, June 27, 2022, Box Office Mojo in its world ranking for 2022 shows
  1. Top Gun: $1,006,423,000
  2. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness: $947,014,432
  3. The Batman: $770,345,583
  4. Jurassic World Dominion: $746,664,000
This film does not appear on this list which shows 200 films in total.

As of today, June 27, 2022, Box Office Mojo in its British ranking for 2022 shows
  1. Top Gun: $70,123,823
  2. The Batman: $51,513,761
  3. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness: $51,183,196
  4. Sing 2: $44,113,113
Out of a list of 200, this film appears as #74 with a gross of $291,665.

Poynter: New York Times corrects misquote of Thoreau’s ‘quiet desperation’ line
While Henry David Thoreau is often credited with variations of the aphorism “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and die with their song still inside them,” that is not what he wrote in “Walden.” He merely said, “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.”

2022-06-27

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Friday, 17 June 2022

Fact-checking, shmact-checking: Why are people blindly repeating sh*t?

Recently, I've had a number of my social media posts "liked" by various people. Out of curiosity, I went to see their stuff and discovered a myriad of crazy sh*t from the right end of the political spectrum. And I mean crazy! What the f*ck is the matter with people?

Shortly after the Uvalde school shooting, I saw this meme reposted repeatedly and immediately wondered if this could be in any way true. Within the space of sixty seconds, I found all sorts of legitimate sources debunking this claim. In fact, it turns out the picture is of a trans person who is now complaining they're being targeted by haters when they had nothing to do with the shooting at all.

Partly based on a rumor started by an anonymous user on the /pol/ imageboard on 4chan, Representative Paul Gosar (R-AZ) made unsubstantiated claims, on Twitter the day after the shooting, that the perpetrator was a "transsexual leftist illegal alien"; the tweet was taken down within two hours. The claims were further spread by Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) and other far-right House Republicans and conservative media figures and social media users, despite authorities identifying him as an American citizen. -Wikipedia

Trans woman's photo used to spread baseless online theory about Texas shooter, NBC News, Mar 25/2022
The theory, which began on the forum website 4chan, was spread by right-wing Facebook pages and even Republican Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona.

I see several important issues in all this.

1. Nobody fact checks
People blindly forward stuff without ever verifying if what they're forwarding is, in fact, right. Why? The answer seems to be confirmation bias.

Confirmation bias is the tendency to search for, interpret, favor, and recall information in a way that confirms or supports one's prior beliefs or values. People display this bias when they select information that supports their views, ignoring contrary information, or when they interpret ambiguous evidence as supporting their existing attitudes. The effect is strongest for desired outcomes, for emotionally charged issues, and for deeply entrenched beliefs. Confirmation bias cannot be eliminated, but it can be managed, for example, by education and training in critical thinking skills. -Wikipedia

Do I look at this purely from a political angle and blame the Right more than the Left? A further reading of the Wikipedia article shows that this issue exists everywhere. Flawed decisions due to confirmation bias have been found in political, organizational, financial, and scientific contexts.

But the confirmation bias on the Right strikes me as quite out of control. Why? Over and over again, journalists have pointed out how the political polarization is no longer a difference of opinion about conservative and democratic ideas, it is now about hate. The Right actually hates the Left. There seems to be some underlying psychological phenomenon here. The Right wants to return to the world of the 1950's Leave It To Beaver. Whites dominated; blacks were segregated, gays were in the closet, and immigrants knew their place and were pretty much unseen. An unskilled white man with no more but even less than a high school diploma could get a factory job, working on the assembly line and making enough to buy a home and support a family of four. That world is long gone with pundits pointing to Republican policies sometimes being at fault for how the world has drastically changed.

What's both amusing and frightening is how things like Fox News are allowed to contribute to reinforcing this mindset. A billion-dollar media empire panders to the worst impulses of Americans in order to get their ratings up to make a profit. They are counting on their viewers to never bother to fact check what they report.

2. Somebody deliberately did this.
They didn't post the picture because they thought it was true, they did it to stir up emotions. But who did it and why? I look at the above sources which point to 4chan, an anonymous chat system. I read analysis by the BBC, Slate, and AP News, and we return to the broader problem of racism and intolerance toward transgender people and immigrants.

“It’s a tactic that serves two purposes: It avoids real conversations about the issue (of gun violence), and it gives people who don’t want to face reality a patsy, it gives them someone to blame.” -disinformation expert Jaime Longoria, director of research at the Disinfo Defense League, a non-profit that works to fight racist misinformation. (AP News)

Racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, some people's anger covers up the real source of the problem.

You can't handle the truth! -A Few Good Men

Now, I know some people like to stir up sh*t just for the sake of stirring up sh*t. Post something outrageous, and then stand back and watch the fireworks. It can be hilarious how incensed people get over sh*t when you know those people don't know sh*t but are just ready, willing, and able to go ballistic over the slightest perceived slight to their way of life.

But is there even something more nefarious going on? Is this part of a deliberate plot by foreign powers to divide the population and weaken the country?

However, whether it's an individual stirring the pot or a foreign power, the real problem is that people listen to this. They seem to eat up conspiracies, dismissing anything mainstream. The problem isn't that somebody says B.S., it's that people listen.

3. People are stupid
Full disclosure: I think people like Rep. Paul Gosar and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene are stupid. I don't mean I don't like them; I mean they're actually stupid. Over and over again, these people and many in the Republican Party and the Right have displayed a lack of facts. They are ignorant of science, politics, economics, and common knowledge. They seem to be totally prejudiced against anything which is part of the so-called mainstream, including education and any resulting expertise, favoring conspiracy theories which are unproveable and illegitimate. If I ever think of them as crazy, I have to remember that they're elected. Yes, people actually voted them into office. If I ever thought t**** was a problem, I remember that 73 million American voted for him, and I realize the problem in the United States is far greater than I imagined.

Think about this. People believe an anonymous source with no credentials whatsoever over, for example, the respected, Pulitzer-prize winning New York Times. During the pandemic, conspiracy theorists were spouting all sorts of nonsense about Covid. Now, let me get this straight. You want me to believe unsubstantiated claims from anonymous sources as opposed to Dr. Anthony Fauci, a career epidemiologist of forty years who's advised seven presidents. When I want medical advice, I go to my family doctor. I assume you get your medical advice from the wall of a toilet stall in a public washroom. Or social media.

Sheeple
The Right loves to call the Left sheeple, a derogatory term meaning people compared to sheep in being docile, foolish, or easily led. But look at the above. The Right jumped on a tidbit of information which came from an anonymous source. No fact-checking, no on-the-ground interviewing of participants, no legitimate investigation of the story, just the blind forwarding of confirmation bias. The Right blindly follow anonymous sources as opposed to legitimate sources, and I'm the sheeple?

Projection
In psychology, the term projection describes the phenomenon where a person denies negative things in themselves and projects or accuses others of such things. The Right keeps warning of election fraud and yet, they are guilty of such a thing through gerrymandering, voter suppression, and restrictive I.D. laws which disenfranchise minorities, never mind a number of conservatives having been caught double voting in the election of November 2020.

Critical Thinking
I looked at the above meme and immediately doubted its accuracy. Why?

Critical thinking is the analysis of available facts, evidence, observations, and arguments to form a judgement. The subject is complex; several different definitions exist, which generally include the rational, skeptical, and unbiased analysis or evaluation of factual evidence. Critical thinking is self-directed, self-disciplined, self-monitored, and self-corrective thinking. It presupposes assent to rigorous standards of excellence and mindful command of their use. It entails effective communication and problem-solving abilities as well as a commitment to overcome native egocentrism and sociocentrism. -Wikipedia

I make no claims to being a genius or something. However, I look at stuff and question it while I see others, family, friends, acquaintances on social media, blindly accepting sh*t with no questions whatsoever. Isn't it obvious that sh*t is bullsh*t? Isn't it, at least, worth questioning?

Final Word
Full disclosure: I'm a libtard, and I wear that like a badge of honor. Old saying: Liberals like education because it makes you better. Conservatives hate education because it make you liberal.

I want to be perfectly clear: Being a libtard does not mean I give Democrats or anything liberal a free pass. Any politician, any business, any individual must be held accountable. Nobody should be freely allowed to do whatever they want without being responsible to the greater good, responsible to others, and to the country and to the world. For some completely stupid reason, when a conservative hears that somebody is liberal, they think that person immediately votes Democrat without reservations, without a critical eye. I'm liberal but I'm not stupid! Or crazy!

I look at the above, and I can't do it. I can't blindly forward sh*t without finding out if what I'm forwarding is true or not. I don't want to contribute to disinformation. The world is confusing enough already, and it doesn't need me contributing to the bullsh*t being passed around as the so-called "truth".


References

my blog: The problem isn’t so much what people say, it’s that we listen. - Feb 14/2022
I don’t listen to Joe Rogan. I never have listened to him, and I have no intention of doing so. Problem solved. In fact, I don’t listen and never have listened to t****, Fox News, whether it be Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham, Jeannine Piro, Jesse Waters, et al., or any other source on the Right such as Alex Jones, Ben Shapiro, Candace Owens, formerly Rush Limbaugh, etc. Of course, clips crop up in newscasts, but I never tune into any of these people. Problem solved. It occurs to me that the problem isn’t so much that any of these people are talking, it’s that we’re, I mean, you’re listening. Why are you listening?

Wikipedia: 4chan
4chan is an anonymous English-language imageboard website. Launched by Christopher "moot" Poole in October 2003, the site hosts boards dedicated to a wide variety of topics, from anime and manga to video games, cooking, weapons, television, music, literature, history, fitness, politics, and sports, among others. Registration is not available and users typically post anonymously. As of 2022, 4chan receives more than 22 million unique monthly visitors, of which approximately half are from the United States.

Would somebody explain to me how Paul Gosar and Majorie Greene hold public office? Has the Republican Party sunk this low?

Wikipedia: Paul Gosar
Paul Anthony Gosar (b 1958) is an American far-right politician and former dentist who has served as the U.S. representative for Arizona's 4th congressional district since 2013. A Republican, he was elected in 2010 to represent the neighboring 1st congressional district until redistricting. Gosar's support of conspiracy theories, as well as alleged ties to the Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, and Holocaust deniers have sparked controversy.

Gosar opposes the Affordable Care Act, abortion, gun control, and immigration. He has been a strong ally of former president Donald Trump, and voted to overturn the results of the 2020 U.S. presidential election.

On November 17, 2021, Gosar was censured by the House of Representatives and stripped of committee assignments for posting an edited video clip to social media depicting violence against Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and President Joe Biden. It was the first House censure since 2010 and the 24th in American history.

Personal life
In 2018, six (David, Gaston, Grace, Jennifer, Joan, and Tim) of Gosar's nine siblings participated in ads supporting their brother's political adversary, David Brill, MD. In the ads, they all state their desire to defend their family's name lest the world think the entire Gosar family shares Paul's ideology. David Gosar said, "He's absolutely not working for his district." Tim said, "He's not listening to you and he doesn't have your best interests at heart." Grace said, "Paul Gosar, the congressman, isn't doing anything to help rural America." Jennifer said, "If he actually cared about people in rural Arizona, I bet he'd be fighting for Social Security, for better access to healthcare; I bet he'd be researching what is the most insightful water policy to help the environment of Arizona to sustain itself and be successful."


Wikipedia: Marjorie Taylor Greene
Marjorie Taylor Greene (b 1974), also known by her initials MTG, is an American politician, businesswoman, and far-right conspiracy theorist who has served as the U.S. representative for Georgia's 14th congressional district since 2021. A member of the Republican Party and a strong supporter of former president Donald Trump, she was elected to Congress in 2020 following the retirement of Republican incumbent Tom Graves.

Greene has promoted far-right, white supremacist, and antisemitic conspiracy theories including the white genocide conspiracy theory, QAnon, and Pizzagate, as well as other disproven conspiracy theories such as false flag mass shootings, the Clinton body count, and multiple relating to 9/11. Before running for Congress, she advocated for executing prominent Democratic politicians. As a congresswoman, she equated the Democratic Party with Nazis and compared COVID-19 safety measures to the persecution of Jews during the Holocaust. She apologized for the latter comparison. In January 2022, Greene's personal Twitter account was permanently suspended for posting COVID-19 vaccine misinformation. During the Russo-Ukrainian War, Greene has promoted Russian propaganda and praised Vladimir Putin.

A supporter of Trump's efforts to overturn his loss to Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election, Greene has repeatedly and falsely claimed that Trump won the election in a landslide victory that was stolen from him. She called for Georgia's election results to be decertified and was among a group of Republican legislators who unsuccessfully challenged votes for Biden during the Electoral College vote count, even though federal agencies and courts overseeing the election found no evidence of electoral fraud. Greene filed articles of impeachment against Biden the day after his inauguration, alleging abuse of power.

The House of Representatives voted to remove Greene from all committee roles on February 4, 2021, in response to her incendiary statements and endorsements of political violence. Eleven Republicans joined the unanimous Democrats in the vote. Greene is running for reelection in 2022.


This is insane. Gosar and Greene are representative of a large segement of the electorate and how out of touch they are with reality.

2022-06-17

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Tuesday, 7 June 2022

The S Word

It’s an unwritten rule that white people can’t say the N word. The comedian Chris Rock has some hilarious bits talking about this idea, and the gist of it is that only blacks can use the N word. By extension, only Jews can make fun of Jews; only Indians can make fun of Indians, etc.

I would put forward that the S word (slut) deserves the same treatment. There is a lot of hate in the word, and its casual use can easily be misconstrued as derogatory. We live in a culture that sex shames. Why? I’ve heard it said that this is based on religious upbringing. Religion teaches us that it is through suffering that we can gain access to Heaven, consequently, anything pleasurable, especially sex, must be considered bad. This is where sex-shaming comes from.

Going back to the story of the Garden of Eden, Eve convinced Adam to taste the forbidden fruit and thus, both were cast out of paradise. Eve, and women in general, are to be blamed for the woes of man. Since pleasure is considered verboten, that is, sex is bad; it follows that women are bad, especially about sex. Hence, we have slut-shaming. It’s curious to note that the S word here refers to anything sexual. I’m reminded of an old joke.

Question: What’s the definition of a nymphomaniac?

Answer: Someone who wants sex more than me.

In other words, this is all subjective and varies from person to person.

The other day, I read this in a gentleman’s profile:

I refuse to call you a "bitch", "whore", "slut" or any other bullshit label that heaps social shame on you for needing what absolutely EVERYONE else needs. If you wanna call YOURSELF "slut" then do it because you're PROUD of taking what you need and deserve.

Like the N word, the S word is the privilege of a woman. I, as a man, should never use the term; I don’t have the right to use the term.

Sex is not bad; it’s good. I consider sex to be a gift from God. It’s an integral part of being human, and it’s a wonderful part of being alive. Unfortunately, due probably to religion, we misinterpret sex and end up ashamed, unable to cope with our natural desires and the unnatural ideal of a sexless existence. Note that I said natural desires. We are all sexual creatures. We mustn’t be embarrassed by this; we must embrace it.

An Amusing Contradiction
I’ve seen this in my life. A man wants good sex; he fantasizes about it. He hopes to have a partner who is a good lover. And yet, that same man will contribute to the sex-shaming and the slut-shaming of our society. I have actually heard men refer to women using the S word, inferring that they are somehow less worthy as women. It’s curious in some Christian circles how virginity is prized. The joke for me is that I don’t want a virgin; I want a mature, experienced lover. Inexperience in the bedroom is not fun.

Final Word
We all have the right to our sexuality, regardless of race, color, creed, or gender. Women can be just a sexual as men, and there is nothing inherently wrong with that. It is, however, wrong to disseminate the traditional sex-shaming and slut-shaming which exists in society. The S word is meant to be derogatory but there is nothing derogatory about being sexual. If a woman decides to reclaim her sexuality by using the S word, that is her choice but I, as a man, will not use the word. We all need to make the world a better place, and we should all be free to enjoy our inherent right to be sexual. We’re all in this together.


References

Wikipedia: Slut
Slut is generally a term for a person, especially a woman or girl, who is considered to have loose sexual morals or who is sexually promiscuous. It is usually used as an insult, sexual slur or offensive term of disparagement (slut-shaming). It originally meant "a dirty, slovenly woman", and is rarely used to refer to men, generally requiring clarification by use of the terms male slut or man whore.

The first recorded use of the word was a 1386 reference to a man, in Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales, in which he is referring to the man's untidy appearance.

Slut-shaming is a related term, referring to the act of drawing attention to a person's promiscuous behavior for the purpose of shaming them socially. From the late 20th century, there have been attempts to reclaim the word, exemplified by various SlutWalk parades, and some individuals embrace the title as a source of pride.

Consult the site map and search for the word "slut" for other articles on this topic.

my blog: Slut Shaming Women Who Have Sex - Dec 3/2013

my blog: Sex: I'm a man and you're a... - July 13/2010

my blog: #Slanegirl: sex, (double) standards, and sluts - Aug 22/2013
This story is a perfect example of the problem in our society. A photo of a couple having sex is posted to social media and goes viral. The fallout is that the guy is either treated as a hero or gets off scot-free. The girl, however, is vilified to no end. Why? In our society, it would seem that men can be sexual, they have the right to be sexual, while women must be pure as the driven snow!

2022-06-07

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Monday, 6 June 2022

2022: Where I am and where I’m going

A few years back, I wrote "2019: Where I am and where I’m going". Maybe, it's time for an update.

Summary
I'm 69 years old. I turn 70 this coming fall. I've been retired three years this past February. I will be divorced for twelve years this coming September. This past February, I have not had a drink in thirty-four years.

Is this the time in one's life when you get reflective on your life? What are your accomplishments, and, of course, what are your failures? To be honest, there are things I've done in my life that still make me wince. God, how could I have been so dumb? I don't know what other people do, but I sometimes focus more on what I've done wrong than on what I may have done right.

70, Health, and Death
My father died of a heart attack two days shy of his eightieth birthday. How much time do I have left? I have to recognise and accept that someday, this ride will be over. I will have to leave, and the rest of the world will carry on without me.

Is that depressing? Or is it merely realistic? I find it amusing to say to younger people that by the time they reach my age, I'll be dead. I suppose someone may think I'm being morbid, but I really do find that funny.

Although, there are differences between my lifestyle and that of my father. I eat better and exercise more than him. He had a quadruple bypass at the age of 74. Obviously, the makings of cardiac issues were already in place. While I hope my lifestyle will see me live healthier and hopefully longer, there may be parallels. I suffer from erectile dysfunction. Your first thought is about sex, but this condition is also known as the canary in the pants. The blood vessels which feed the penis are some of the smallest in the body and may be susceptible to blockage long before other signs of cardiac problems manifest themselves. Studies have shown a correlation between ED and heart issues. Is my number in the queue?

I'm lucky
In the past three years since my retirement, I've handed out hundreds of dollars (probably between one and two thousand) to various homeless people in the streets. There but for the grace of God go I. I'm sure family, friends, even you, the reader, may find my behaviour odd but I'm reminded that when I hand someone a twenty-dollar bill, it means just about nothing to me. I'm not saying I'm rich but I'm okay enough to see that twenty dollars as being an insignificant amount of money. Giving it away has virtually no impact on my life but I know it represents something important to the homeless person.

Old saying: You can work hard and still fail. Yes, I worked hard. Yes, I made good choices. But I also recognise I had opportunities others may not have had. You could say the homeless deserve what they have but I would counter argue that no one chooses to be poor. With age, I'm finding I'm less critical and more compassionate.

Writing
In 2010, I started this blog. Since then, I've written hundreds of articles and hundreds of thousands of words. For a few years, 2011-2013, I did unpaid work for an online newspaper, writing about everything, politics, science, sociology, sex, divorce, etc. In 2013, I participated in NaNoWriMo. In 2016, I self-published a first novel. Since then, I've published five small collections of short stories and a second novel. I've had my stories published online in a variety of webzines. I'm currently editing a third novel and hope to have it published in the fall of 2022. If anything over the past decade, I've discovered I like to shoot my mouth off. Now, if I could only figure out how to get paid for that.

This Blog
I got bored with writing this blog. I pretty much stopped around 2016 and the break was so dramatic, I went through the site map and added indicators, showing articles as being older than 2016 so people could see what's recent.

Why did I get bored? I was repeating myself. In the past week, interested in a certain controversial topic, I went back to read my own articles from a decade ago. Those articles still stand. Same sh*t, different day. We're all arguing about the same issues, and nothing has been done to rectify the situation. I'm wasting my breath. I could take an old article, change the date, and republish it as an analysis of the issue in question.

In the fall of 2021, I finally got worked up enough over the misinformation being passed around about the pandemic that I did sit down and pen a number of articles analysing various issues relating to Covid. My conclusion is that the average person knows little or nothing about what's going on in the world and does absolutely nothing to educate themselves. People can be f*cking stupid and wear their stupidity as a badge of honour.

Don't get me started on politics. The world has gone completely mad. As I said, I could take all my political articles about the 2012 election and merely change the dates to get them to cover the current situation.

Final Word
I've been asked what I'm doing now that I'm retired. I tell people that I spend my days fiddling without going into specifics about what fiddling entails. Do I even know what it entails?

Twenty years ago, my wife and I would occasionally have dinner with neighbours who were both retired. At the time, my wife and I had career jobs; our lives were busy, like really busy. These two neighbours would talk about having full days and finding it difficult sometimes to find the time to do everything. They were retired. My wife and I would walk home after our visits and wonder between us what these two people were rambling on about. Retired? Not enough time?

Now, I am retired, and many times, my days are full. Full of what? A colleague from my former company, also retired, invited me for lunch a few weeks ago. It was a pleasant couple of hours, talking about the supposed good ol' days. But what was I doing now? I remained vague but did mention having done a little writing and had published a book. "Mom liked it." He laughed.

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?
-Mary Oliver (b 1935), American poet

Nobody knows about my fiddling with writing. Not family, not friends. Nobody knows about this blog; nobody knows about my books. Does it matter? It's a question of amusing myself and whether it leads to anything remains to be seen but also, probably doesn't matter. The point is to amuse myself.

There's an old joke about nobody has written on their tombstone "I wish I had spent more time working." Am I going to have written, "I wish I had spent more time fiddling"?


References

Forbes: 'Canary In The Trousers': Why Erectile Dysfunction Can Signal Heart Disease - Jan 30/2013

my blog: I wrote a book. So what? - Jan 30/2018

my blog: 2019: Where I am and where I’m going - Apr 3/2018

my blog: 2018: Where I am and where I’m going - Jan 30/2018

my blog: 2017: Where I am and where I’m going - Jan 28/2017

2022-06-06

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