Wednesday 21 December 2022

It's 3 a.m. and I have to figure it out myself.

The toilet is plugged up. I suppose I could try to find an emergency plumber service. I live in an apartment so I could phone the superintentident and hope to wake him up. However, I am prepared with my own toilet plunger so I can undertake unplugging it myself. Okay, I don't have a plumber's snake but a plunger is a good start which probably handles the majority of stoppages. But what's important here is that by facing my issue as a DIY (Do It Yourself), I get a faster resolution to my problem. I realize not all issues are DIY issues - I may really need a snake - but it's a good place to start and hopefully leads to solving my problem faster.

My toilet problem is really a metaphor for the myriad of distressing situations we all find ourselves in. We may seek expert assistance but that assistance may be unavailable (It's 3 am!). Or maybe it's unsuccessful. (The super came, tried the plunger, failed, and now has to call a professional plumber with a snake.) And this leads me to the final option: accepting the problem, leaving it unresolved, and working around it.

Several years ago, the faucet on my kitchen sink broke. Whenever I turned it on, water would spurt out of the base and actually hit me square in the face. Whoa! Ha, ha, ha! I got out some tools and took the whole thing apart and discovered some O-ring in the cartridge had busted. I had no replacement and nothing I could improvise so I put in a maintenance request but had to wait three days for the super to come around to replace the tap. During that time, I had to use the sink in my bathroom to wash fruits and vegetables and clean up dirty dishes. Meal preparation took place in part in the kitchen and in part in the bathroom. This is how I worked around my problem and continued to live my life. It was inconvenient but doable.

In 2011, my cousin David took a vacation in Mexico and got an ear infection. Over the next six years, numerous visits to an EFT (Ear, Nose, and Throat), the emergency ward (The pain was so bad, he thought he was having a heart attack!), and four operations have left him with permanent nerve damage in his head resulting in on-going pain every single day. He's tried just about every known pain medication known to man, although his latest successful regime is based on Percocet and ice packs. It's difficult to believe but after visiting countless doctors, the conclusion seems to be that he's going to have to live with this. Pain. Every single day. Chronic. This is permanent, and there seems to be (so far) nothing that can be done to remedy the situation. In this case, the saying Hell on Earth is true.

In 2012, I tramautised the upper left quadrant of my body, stopping short of tearing my rotator cuff. I was in pain twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week for six months. After numerous visits to my doctor, a neurologist, two x-rays and two MRIs, a chropractor, multiple physiotherapists, and a kinesiologist, the speculation was that I had slightly herniated the cervical disc at the C6 level which was causing referred pain. I could barely move for about nine months, holding my left hand up toward my shoulder because it somehow reduced my pain.

My cousin and I commiserated. The main focus of our days was pain management. While other people lived their lives, the main focus of our days was when do we take a pain pill, how long did we have to wait for the next one, and what could we do in the meantime to minimize pain. How's the weather? What's for dinner tonight? Did you see the latest comedy show? Considering the gravity of our situation, that is, the on-going pain, neither of us cared.

I'm lucky. It took a year but my body healed. My cousin's condition has become chronic, and he has to live with this. As I said, while he does take drugs, he tries to minimize doing so since it has a limited effect. He is obliged to lie down periodically while holding a coldpack to the side of his head.

However, this event in my life seems to have heralded in a new era of health problems. It's as if I turned 60 and the wheels started falling off the wagon. I ain't dead yet, but the old adage seems to be true about us becoming more and more focused on health later on in life. While I do the usual checks with my family doctor, while I see a physical therapist on a regular basis, I still have to deal with the day to day issues.

In January 2021, I started having a problem with my left hip and groin. Walking up and down the half flight of stairs from my apartment to the main door of my building became painful. Many times, I would step first with my right foot then bring my left along. Lead with the right, follow with the left. Numerous visits to the therapists left everybody perplexed as to this on-going issue. Finally, the head therapist had a flash of insight, did some tests, then explained my sacroilliac joints were out of whack. He had me wear a Serola belt. Unlike a belt around the waist for lumbar support, this went around the hips to offer support for the sacroilliac joints. I wore it twenty-four hours a day and faithfully did a daily regime of isometric exercies designed to work the muscles around the joints. After some weeks, the half flight of stairs became pain-free. I started trying stair climbing, doing two, three, or four stories, then in increments of ten, slowly progressing to make sure my body could support the stress. Finally, after 2.5 months, I managed to stair climb one hundred stories. Obviously, the Serola belt did the trick.

In September 2016, I started having red marks appear on various parts of my body that were very, very itchy. I was convinced I had inadvertently brought some pest from the outside into my apartment. Bed bugs? Lice? Ticks? I had in numerous experts to spray but the results were negative. I finally visited a dermatologist and using skin samples, he tested for parasites. The results were negative. I've heard it said that our skin is the body's largest organ. Was I suffering from some sort of partial organ failure? For the past six years, I have tried every over the counter oinment and cream for itchiness with limited success. Three months ago, a new series of symptoms had my dermatologist diagnose me with folliculitis and started me on a daily regime of a oral antibiotic and an antibiotic cream. According to medical web sites like WebMD and the Mayo Clinic while this condition can clear up in weeks, for some persistent cases it can take months. I'm currently at day 60 and I'm not really seeing results. I keep waking up in the middle of the night in a tremendous fit of itchiness and must get up and slather on a topical analgesic gel to calm things down. My sleeping patterns are disrupted, and I'm exhausted. I did visit my family doctor out of desperation but he felt the best course of action was to continue with the prescribed treatment and discuss everything with the dermatologist in my follow-up visit at the four-month mark. I thank my lucky stars I found the topical analgesic gel or I'm sure I'd be going out of my mind.

My Point
Other than to bitch and moan? While I supposedly have a course of action, I must be patient and see it through to the end. And then, if necessary adjust that course of action in consultation with an expert. The problem, however, is how do I deal with anything on a day to day basis. What do I do when it's 3am, and I'm all by myself?

Several years ago, I went to the grocery store but before starting my rounds, I visited a small men's room. I opened the door and was immediately confronted with an obstacle. A man stood at a sink washing his hands. Stretching out behind him were two plastic tubes going to an oxygen tank sitting in a wheeled grocery cart parked against the opposite wall. I suppose I could have stooped down under the tubes but thought it best to wait to avoid catching them and causing a mishap and so reflected on the scene before me. This man was suffering from some respiratory ailment like emphysema but was still mobile and able to do his own grocery shopping. He had an health issue but was managing to retain a degree of freedom.

To be honest, I may be whining about my own circumstances but I like to think I can recognise that all of us have our own issues to deal with, and we may be dealing with said issues with varing degrees of success. We're doing our best with limited skills and sometimes with limited professional help. Yes, sometimes our issue is beyond the skills of the experts but we have to cope anyway.

We have to cope. I think that's the point of this rant. After all is said and done, after every consultation is complete, every test been carried out, and every remedial course of action implemented, all of us are sitting alone at 3am and have to cope. There's no other choice. There's no other option. We're on our own, and we have to figure it out ourselves. I'll be thinkin' o' ya at 3am when I'm up with an itchy attack, in the bathroom applying analgesic gel. Ha!


Site Map - William Quincy BelleFollow me on Twitter

Saturday 17 December 2022

What's my survival rate?

I have two acquaintances on social media, D and L. I say acquaintances for although we are technically friends as per how people are linked on social media, I've never met either one in real life and only know them through text messaging.

D is rarely on and I suppose we only exchange messages a few times per year. A month ago, out of the blue, she sends me a message while I'm offline, explaining she's been diagnosed with esophageal cancer, the doctors giving her six months to three years. I write back with my condolences but hear nothing. A few weeks later, I see her name online briefly. I write again but hear nothing. Considering I'm just an acquaintance she rarely talks to, I suppose I shouldn't expect a response. D has other things on her mind.

L and I have in the past had some lengthy conversations but in the past year or so have rarely been in touch. Two weeks ago, she contacts me while I'm online. She's been diagnosed with leukemia and is actually messaging from the hospital where she's undergoing chemo. We exchange texts about her type of leukemia and as I Google it, we discuss the five-year survival rate of 65%.

I've heard it said that the illness and/or death of somebody else makes us reassess our own lives. When is my time going to be up? I can't imagine what either one of these people are going through. I can only guess it must be surreal. You get the news you have a disease, and you're going to die. What do you do? How do you plan for that? Is there a plan? What exactly is death? What happens when I'm gone?

My Turn
I turned 70 this past October. My father died at 80. The average life expectancy of a male is around 82. Inevitably, I'm going to die. I just don't know when and I don't know how. When each of my parents died, I was the chosen member of the family to give the memorial speech. I can only describe the deaths as surreal. I always knew my parents wouldn't live forever and that someday, I was going to get the news. When I did finally get the news, I remember thinking that at last, the moment had arrived. I had thought about it, I had sort of planned it out in my head, and now, I had to do it. I kept having to remind myself that this was really happening. This wasn't a drill.

Someday, I'm going to get the news. My doctor is going to give me the results of some test and tell me I've only got so long to live and to arrange my affairs. I know it's going to happen and when it does, it's going to be a moment I'm going to have difficulty grasping. It's going to be surreal.

People disappear
In my social media, I go down my list of friends. Some I haven't chatted with in years. Where are they? Busy elsewhere? Have they dropped using such and such social media in favor of other activities in life? Or have they possibly died? I have no way of knowing. Periodically, a person's account goes silent and there's no indication of why. All we can do is conjecture.

Up to now, I've been talking about death. According to NamUS (National Missing and Unidentified Persons System)

Over 600,000 individuals go missing in the United States every year. Fortunately, many missing children and adults are quickly found, alive and well. However, tens of thousands of individuals remain missing for more than one year – what many agencies consider “cold cases”. It is estimated that 4,400 unidentified bodies are recovered each year, with approximately 1,000 of those bodies remaining unidentified after one year.

This isn't something I normally think about but the above statistics tell me the world is full of mysteries. There's a lot going on we know nothing about. It's an odd comparison, but I remember watching some nature show following a herd of water buffalo. At one point, the herd is grazing on a savannah. Some lions in hiding rush forward and drag one of the buffalo off into the bush, and a few buffalo briefly look up then go back to grazing. At another point, an elderly, sick buffalo falls behind and is left by the herd. It eventually dies and the scavengers have at it.

Are humans like the herd? Except it's not lions per se, but disease, accidents, and God knows what else. But the rest of us, the rest of the herd, carry on. While I suppose that may seem heartless, what other choice do any of us really have other than carrying on? Humanity as a whole will live on while us as individuals disappear.

Social Media
Over the past few years, I've written about fellow bloggers suddenly leaving us.

my blog: Bobbie Morgan (1964-2015): A Good Woman's Dirty Mind - Nov 21/2015

my blog: Audrey van Petegem (1962-2020) - Oct 14/2020

I noted that family and friends supported their endeavors, keeping web sites up, and tending things like Facebook. I've realized I don't exactly have a contingency plan, and if I keeled over tomorrow, nobody knows my password to Facebook.

The world currently has a population of 8 billion. There are approximately 140 million births and 70 million deaths each year. 70 million is almost 0.9% of 8 billion. Facebook has 2.9 million users. It would stand to reason that 0.9% of Facebook dies each year which equals 25 million users. There would be variations by age group, etc. but the same logic could be applied to any social media platform.

Final Word
D and L seem like nice people. I've always had good interactions with them and think of them fondly. I'm sorry for this personal turn of events, and as I said, I can't imagine what they're going through.

Life is finite. The ride doesn't go on forever. Inevitably, we are all going to shuffle off this mortal coil. A silent account could mean any one of a number of things as it's an inescapable fact of life. And someday, my account is going to go silent.

Postscript: 2022-12-18
This random tweet popped up in my feed. I was stunned.

Twitter: Mark Stokes @StokesNeuro, 2022-12-18

I read through the comments. It was heartrending. There was an outpouring of emotion, surprise, grief, and best wishes for the next part of his journey.

I followed up. Mr. Stokes died the next day.

Mark Stokes Death – University of Oxford Cognitive Neuroscience Professor Mark Stokes has sadly passed away after a courageous battle with cancer. He died leaving behind his family and loved ones in shock. He was announced dead on Sunday 18th December 2022 on Facebook by Gregory Hilton in a publication that reads “A heartfelt goodbye to Dr. Mark Stokes This is not political and in a brief time Professor Stokes made the world a better place”.

Update: 2023-11-18
I didn't think to look before but it finally dawned on me to check D's partner. In his profile, he says that D died in February 2023.

I chat with L from time to time. She's getting treatment and doing well. I don't think she can say she's completely in the clear but things at the moment look promising.

I recently spoke with J, a colleague from my previous job. In the spring of 2023, he was having difficulty walking and thought he had a back problem. After several consultations and tests, he was diagnosed with ALS. The mean survival rate is two to five years, and it's been six months since his first symptom. He now has to use a wheelchair, having a ramp installed at his house. He's given up driving as he is no longer able to operate the brake pedal and the accelerator with his feet. At night, he uses a machine to help with his breathing. J's a nice guy. He doesn't deserve this but such is the randomness of fate.


Wikipedia: Five-year survival rate
The five-year survival rate is a type of survival rate for estimating the prognosis of a particular disease, normally calculated from the point of diagnosis. Lead time bias from earlier diagnosis can affect interpretation of the five-year survival rate.

Wikipedia: Death and the Internet
A recent extension to the cultural relationship with death is the increasing number of people who die having created a large amount of digital content, such as social media profiles, that will remain after death. This may result in concern and confusion, because of automated features of dormant accounts (e.g. birthday reminders), uncertainty of the deceased's preferences that profiles be deleted or left as a memorial, and whether information that may violate the deceased's privacy (such as email or browser history) should be made accessible to family.

The Guardian: Who will deal with your online presence when you die? How to create a ‘digital will’, 2021-04-10
Making a plan now can prevent identity theft, save records and stop friends getting painful pop-up reminders when you’re gone


Site Map - William Quincy BelleFollow me on Twitter

Thursday 15 December 2022

What's wrong with politics: Me!

It's my fault. I realize this is an odd thing to say, but I've come to the conclusion I'm what's wrong with politics.

Let me explain. I'm Canadian but what I'm saying is applicable to American politics or any politics anywhere.

In Toronto, my hometown, we recently had an election, and I had to cast three votes, for mayor of the city, and in my ward Willowdale, for city councilor and school trustee.

For mayor, I voted for the incumbent John Tory. He seems to have been doing a good job, so why not? But I'm not being honest with myself. I had no idea what the issues were. I had no idea about the other candidates, their platforms, and what promises they may have made during the campaign. John Tory's record was completely unknown to me so I had no right to say he's been doing a good job or a bad job. I've been living my life and paying absolutely no attention to the state of affairs of the city. If we were in the dumpster, I was unaware of it. I have to be truthful and say I haven't been paying attention and anything I've heard about what's going on has been very isolated, merely what may have percolated up to the top in a random headline in my social media feed. John Tory won.

A week before the election, for some inexplicable reason, I had a flash of conscious and spent some all too brief of time researching the candidates for city councilor. The incumbent, John Filion, decided to retire so the field was wide open. I went to the polling station with the intention of voting for Markus Fehr because of his 10 years of experience as the chief of staff for John Filion. However, over the week, I had seen a number of advertisements for Lily Cheung. As I stood in the privacy booth, looking at the ballot, I paused for a moment, then leaned over and checked the box not for Markus Fehr but for Lily Cheung. I don't have a legitimate reason for doing so. It was very much a spur of the moment whim. In the back of my mind, I somehow thought giving a newcomer a chance may lead to fresh results. Lily Cheung won.

I knew nothing about the school trustee. I used my phone to look up the incumbent, Alexander Brown, and voted for him. As of this writing, I see he didn't win.

In looking at the above and in being honest in analyzing what I did, I can't say this is a good example of democracy. As a voter, I should be informed. I should know about the issues and the candidates. I was not. Yes, I voted, but I voted in a capricious manner, something akin to throwing a dart against the wall.

If I take my example and apply it to society in large, what results am I going to see?

Over the past ten plus years with this blog, I have wrote numerous articles about various issues, especially politics. My conclusion is that the average citizen knows very little about the world, and I'm including myself in that assessment. When those citizens step into a voting booth, there is a very good chance their votes, like my votes above, are carried out on a whim as opposed to an informed, deliberate objective. It's amused me to think about the number of people who voted for t**** in 2016 just to screw the system. They didn't do it because they thought he was the best candidate; they did it just to stir up some sh*t.

Chaos Theory
The branch of mathematics that deals with complex systems whose behavior is highly sensitive to slight changes in conditions, so that small alterations can give rise to strikingly great consequences.

I don't know what the f*ck I'm talking about
The Dunning-Kruger Effect basically says that those with less knowledge about something seemed to be more convinced they know the right answer. No need to further investigate anything; they know what's going on!

Over the years, I've come to realize that I am like Socrates: I know nothing. In other words, the more I know the less I know. As John Cleese amusingly summed up when talking about Dunning-Kruger, one has to have a certain degree of intelligence to understand one's limitations. Truly dumb people have no idea they're dumb.

Over and over and over again during this tumultuous period in American politics marked by the great Drumpf, I have seen the vast rise of the uninformed electorate. I am absolutely flabbergasted by the misinformation being passed around as the truth. Alternative facts? Pure, unmitigated bovine defecation! Nobody takes any time to verify anything and as a consequence, they accept anything said by anyone and repeat it ad infinitum. Or is it ad nauseam? As I like to say:

Never have so many knowing so little said so much.

Example: Brittney Griner
A MAGA supporter I know, tweeted the other day that Brittney Griner is a drug addict. At the same time, I found out Griner had been condemned to nine years in prison for smuggling and possession charges over 0.7 grams of cannabis oil, medicinal marijuana prescribed to her in her home state of Arizona.

0.7 grams? This doesn't add up. The story or the interpretation of the story is inconsistent. What's going on?

First off, I have a cousin dealing with a tremendous amount of chronic pain due to nerve damage. He has more experience than anybody I know with various pain treatments, and has spoke to me about using cannabis oil, CBD, etc. He's not a drug addict; he's a man in pain.

With a minimal of searching, I turn up this article from UC San Diego Health, a legitimate, respectable health service provider.

Increasingly, professional athletes in sports ranging from football to bicycling to long-distance running have turned to using cannabis to reduce pain from post-game injuries and to help speed recovery.

I am also aware of cannabis being used to treat pain in cancer patients. In other words, labeling these people drug addicts displays a complete lack of understanding about pain management.

In searching for "Brittney Griner is a drug addict", I ran across far-right journalist Benny Johnson of Newsmax as reported by mediamatters, ranting against the Biden administration:

“They wouldn't allow a Black woman, lesbian woman, drug addict, America-hating – woke, to be kept in prison in Russia”.

I have doubts this reporting is going to be in any way objective. Johnson continues:

So Biden is sitting there bragging about the worst US foreign policy decision in my lifetime. This is on par, in my lifetime, with abandoning our soldiers in Benghazi to die at the hands of terrorists.

Hillary Clinton has been demonized over and over again about Benghazi but here's the point that Johnson, conservatives, and the Right miss out of this story. Republicans along with others voted for defunding security in Benghazi. Yes, you heard me. The people bitching about Hillary are in part responsible for this tragedy. They somehow have conveniently forgotten their part in these deaths.

Final Word
People open their mouths and say stuff with no idea they don't know what they're talking about. People are voting but have no idea of what the issues are or the candidates they're voting for. Many or us or all of us have limited knowledge of how the world works. A democracy means the people vote but people should vote intelligently, being informed about what's going on.

While anybody can be adamant about their views, it strikes me that the Right is angry. I mean like off the dial angry. They are so angry they are blinded to anything but their anger. They are so entrenched in their ideology, they can't see anything else. They are incapable to tackling any subject in a calm, logical, well-researched manner. My way or the highway. Over and over again, I ask a conservative to prove their point to me and I will gladly vote with them but they fail to do so. Their anger has made them irrational.

I'm tired. Politics has always been about bullsh*t but I think this has been taken to a whole new level in the era of t****. It's no longer about "the truth" or making the world a better place, it's about getting and maintaining power at all cost. Lie, cheat, steal, do anything and everything about power. Nothing else seems to matter. The people who are screaming at me that I'm a sheeple because I'm a progressive liberal are incapable of looking at themselves in the mirror. They don't care about being right; they only care about winning the argument. Repeat it often enough and two plus two equals five. However, sooner or later, there will be a reckoning.

The truth doesn't give a f*ck about your opinion.


Wikipedia: Brittney Griner: Arrest in Russia
On February 17, 2022, Griner was arrested on smuggling charges in Russia. She was detained at Sheremetyevo International Airport after the Federal Customs Service found she was carrying vaporizer cartridges containing less than a gram of hash oil. In Arizona, she had been prescribed medicinal cannabis, which is illegal in Russia.

Published Apr 11/2014 by Robert Grimsby
YouTube: John Cleese on Stupidity (0:58)
Cleese explains why extremely stupid people do not have the capability to realize how stupid they are.


Site Map - William Quincy BelleFollow me on Twitter

Saturday 10 December 2022

Shawn Desman: Maniac

Published Dec 7/2022 by ShawnDesmanVEVO
YouTube: Shawn Desman - Maniac (2:50)

(She's a maniac
But you love it just like that
Yeah, you love it just like that)

She's so dangerous
If looks could kill she'd bring you to your knees
She's so venomous
Wraps around you takes just what she needs
And then she leaves

The way she moves it's like the ocean
So smooth, she got you hoping
She'd open up and swallow you whole

She's a maniac
But you always come right back
And when she looks like that
You can't forget it
She's a maniac
But you love it just like that
Yeah, you love it just like that

It's so obvious
The way she got you begging on the floor
That you want more
Yeah, it's obvious
You've never met a girl like her before
And you want more

The way she moves it's like the ocean
So smooth, she got you hoping
She'd open up and swallow you whole

She's a maniac
But you always come right back
And when she looks like that
You can't forget it
She's a maniac
But you love it just like that
Yeah, you love it just like that
Cuz she's a maniac

You just can't resist
You're so into it
You think that it's love
But she's a maniac


Wikipedia: Shawn Desman
Shawn Bosco Fernandes (born January 12, 1982), better known by his stage name Shawn Desman, is a Canadian singer, songwriter, dancer, and television personality. He was signed to Universal Music Canada.


Site Map - William Quincy BelleFollow me on Twitter

Thursday 1 December 2022

I've turned 70

70 years. My goodness, do people really live that long? I grew up with some sort of idea that old people were, well, old. Canes, walkers, rocking chairs, slow to move, slow to respond. I know somebody’s going to come out with some quip like, “You’re as old as you feel.” At sixty you can fake it, but I think at seventy, you have crossed the line: you are officially old.

70 years. 852 months. 25,567 days. At this point, does everyone ask themselves, “Where did the time go?” Do people in general also question what they’ve done, what they’ve accomplished, and what mistakes they’ve made? “If I could be twenty again but knowing what I know now.”

My father died two days shy of his 80th birthday. How much time do I have left? This ride isn’t going to last forever, and like it or not, my stay is limited. I just don’t know when it’s going to be over.

So, just what have I accomplished? What do I have to show for anything I’ve done throughout the years? Can I point to something and say, “I did that”?

When I was a kid, I seemed to have shown promise. That promise never materialised. Much to my chagrin, I’ve turned out to be at best average, probably more mundane, even mediocre. If I am where I am, I see it more as a question of luck rather than of a carefully executed life plan of goal fulfillment. I know somebody reading this may think I’m demonstrating humility or self-deprecation but I’d say it’s more about the curse of being smart enough to realise I’m not really smart. Clever in some ways, but nothing like that promise of me as a child.

I think about my mistakes. Sometimes, I wince. Yes, I think about my mistakes, and I literally wince. I can’t take it back. I can’t undo it. I can only live with it. And it doesn’t matter if there is some sort of explanation, a rationalisation, or a legitimate excuse for what happened; it was a mistake that I committed. I’ve had moments when I’ve been working at my desk, and I flashed on something and gotten up to pace while wringing my hands. “How could I have been so stupid? How could I have done such a thing?” Some things will haunt me for the rest of my life. I can’t rectify them; I can only try to live with them. I said try. I guess I’m managing but I still have my moments.

Health is everything. It’s a seemingly trite statement everybody’s heard and doesn’t think much of. That is, until health becomes an issue.

I hit sixty and started having problems. I realise now that God had granted me sixty years of virtually no health issues at all, and I should be grateful. Now, the wheels are starting to fall off the wagon, so to speak. I’m managing; I’m getting by; but I’ve come to realise how my main focus of the day is health related. Before, it was get up, get dressed, get out the door. Now, it’s get up, do this health-related thing, do that thing, do a series of isometric exercises, stretching, and go to the gym regularly. I can’t stop moving. If I do, I stiffen up; I begin to ache; then I have to work to get loosened back up and get rid of the aches. While before it seemed as if I could go all day without stopping, now I take breaks throughout the day to get up, move around, stretch, etc. I’ve read health experts say that sitting too long is bad for us so is this related to my age or just something we all need to pay attention to?

Is this what it’s like at seventy, how bad is it going to be at eighty? I’m scaring myself.

Don’t get the impression I think about this every day, but I do from time to time wonder how the end will come. Recently, a cousin had a stroke which left him numb down the right side of his body with a speech impediment. Supposedly he can recover with therapy, but this has been a life-altering event. His quality of life has dropped considerably. Another had been doing twenty-five dumbbell raises with both arms. One day, feeling good or feeling cocky, he did fifty reps. He pulled a muscle in his shoulder, had a great deal of pain, and ended up off work for two weeks. I explained my own experience over the past decade, having done such a thing more than once, letting my enthusiasm get in the way of good judgment. Instead of going from twenty-five to fifty reps, he should had gone to thirty reps and stayed with that for three, four, or five sessions before trying thirty-five. But not twenty-five to fifty in one go!

I’ve noted over these past years, I don’t seem to feel any pain while I’m doing something. It’s not until the next day or the day after that the ache or the pain shows up as a sign I’ve hurt myself. I don’t know if endorphins mask pain during a routine, but I try to be hyper-aware of the slightest discomfort or even an odd feeling as my signal to stop doing what I’m doing out of fear of hurting myself. When I was thirty, if I hurt myself, I could recover relatively quickly. Today, it takes longer, sometimes a lot longer so hurting myself can be a disappointing setback.

As you can see by the above writing, health has become my number one preoccupation in life. Some may say that I’m self-disciplined but it ‘s more about being scared. As I’ve written here, back in 2012, I had a sports accident and traumatised the upper left quadrant of my body. I was in pain twenty-hours a day for almost six months. I could barely move. Every waking moment was about pain management: when do I take a pain pill; how long do I have to wait for the next one; and what can I do in the meantime to minimise any pain I may feel. It was a nightmare; I was trapped in my own body; and it was Hell on Earth. I will do anything to avoid going through that again, so I’ve been frightened into being disciplined.

I've become my father
At family gatherings, I'm now the senior member. I'm the old man. Although, I see myself as my father in other ways.

My mother died when my father was 72. He spent the last eight years of his life, living in the family home all by himself. I'm retired and live by myself. How did my father manage compared to how I manage? How did my father occupy his time compared to how I occupy mine? The rest of the world moves on with their own day-to-day issues, and the affairs of one old man are of little or no consequence. That is, except to him.

My father fiddled with his own interests, his own projects, for himself. He didn't do it necessarily for others; he did it because it brought him some measure of satisfaction, maybe even accomplishment. I now see myself the same way. What I do isn't that meaningful in the grand scheme of things. There are now eight billion people on the planet, and most of them have no idea I exist. Certainly, anything I do has a negligible impact on the world. So why do I do it? For myself. At the end of the day, all of us do whatever we do for ourselves, not with the intention of setting the world on fire.

Final Word
So, here I am. 70. I made it. Several years ago, a friend told me she had read that if we make it to 70, statistically, there's a good chance we'll make it to 80. I guess we'll see. I was chatting with somebody about my health issues, and they chuckled and said, "What did you expect? You're 70!" I replied, "I've never been 70 before. I had no idea of what to expect!"

I've heard it said that we are generally living longer and while decades ago, 70 may have been considered as old, nowadays, 70 can still be considered as an active, "non-old" per se age. "You're as old as you feel." Well, I don't feel old. Heck, I don't know exactly what old feels like. I am aware of certain physical limitations but I do seem to be still moving. Once in a while, I run across somebody younger than me with huge problems to deal with. There but for the grace of God... Should I complain? It reminds me that I'm lucky. Things may not be perfect but they could be worse.

Back in July, I wrote to a friend who was turning 70, congratulating him and giving him my best wishes, ending with, “See you at 80.”


I wrote this on 2022-10-20 and only just now, 2022-12-01, got around to clicking on Publish. I'm slow. What did you expect? I'm 70! Ha, ha!

Site Map - William Quincy BelleFollow me on Twitter

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


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.


Site Map - William Quincy BelleFollow me on Twitter

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.


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.


Site Map - William Quincy BelleFollow me on Twitter

Thursday 7 July 2022

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

Postscript 2022-07-07

1,200 words, 6-minute read

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")


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.


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.


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. (

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!


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.


Site Map - William Quincy BelleFollow me on Twitter