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Nothing New Under The Sun
(the ARX acta diurna)
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is the sort of brain-twisting exercise in frustration that doing blacksmith's puzzles is for most of us, even without migraines, chest colds, work craziness, back pain and s forth. But I do have a mostly-finished excursion into Sacred/Profane Time/Space from a rational-humanist-yet-Mythicness-respecting angle, which just needs a little more connecting tissue before it's ready to be released.

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Of course I'm a fanatic and a milquetoast at the same time - wave/particle, legitimate/bastard, evil-selfish-brat/goody-two-shoes, it's a wonder I even exist--

My brothers were allowed to go on school and scounting trips to Canada, Pennsylvania, out West, to go rock climbing and rafting and have lives as kids because they were males and males needed freedom (and children, or at least male children, shouldn't be coddled, see Good Old Days of unsupervised play) while it wasn't safe for girls to walk down their own suburban block in broad daylight in company let alone go away from paternal protection because Something Bad Might Happen (even though the Somethings Bad that did happen always happened under our own roofs or those of trusted acquaintances and by friends and relatives, in our extended families); but even my younger sisters were allowed more freedom than I - even when I was in college and they were in high school, and after - I was the one who got yelled at for being half an hour late from an unannounced curfew that I simply should have known I was bound by, by pure natural reason.

Yet I also got ranted at as an evil destroyer and/or destructive fool for calling to let my father know I might be twenty minutes late because he hadn't thought to fill up the tank when he had the car earlier, too.

Then he'd get mad if I timidly begged, or grovellingly apologized, too, because I was making him out to be some kind of tyrant by being nervous around him of provoking his disapproval, and I should be bold and courageous and just tell him to bugger off if he was out of line. Read more...Collapse )

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Some animals just are more equal than others--

It's more important that we all suffer and eat all the shit he dishes out, than that he have to face up to his own responsibilities - because he is The Good Guy and the one who deserves protection, that nobody else merits. The last time he decided he was going to "reconcile" with me - with those revelations that broke my last psychic brake cable - I told him, I warned him in advance that I didn't think he could bear to listen to me, to hear me out, to listen to how badly he'd hurt me over the years and how these were systematic patterns that he did to all of us and was still doing and needed to stop if he really didn't like having us keep on walking away from him. That there couldn't be Reconciliation without Truth, and truth hurts. He insisted that he could handle it - and then broke it off abruptly when I yet again wouldn't give him easy absolution, saying that it wasn't doing either of us any good, as if I hadn't warned him all along that he couldn't handle the truth, and that I was making him drink too much again - Oh yeah, party of personal responsibility!

"You're so lucky to have such a happy family, you're so lucky to have the parents you have, you're so lucky they're together and not divorced like mine, if only I could have your home life" - Yeah, if only. I'd have traded in a heartbeat, all those years when I was wondering if I cut my elbows with a razor blade like in Quo Vadis, I am incapable of believing that there's anyone who doesn't, hasn't thought of suicideCollapse )

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When the game is rigged, the only way to win is not to play there is no way to win - or not to play

It got a lot easier, in terms of my own ethical center and sanity - not that it got any better from a day to day basis, but at least I didn't have to angst over whether I was being a Bad Kid so much. But he hated unarguing compliance even more than he hated resistance and would mock me for being a milquetoast, "meek," "lukewarm who will be spat out of the mouth of the Lord" when I wouldn't give in to his baitings, the more bland and emotionless I managed to make myself, the better I got at wearing a faint, fixed smile so that I wouldn't be accused of "sulking" (even when I wasn't at all, when I was actually feeling fairly okay & just being quiet with my face its natural shape) and likewise wouldn't be interrogated over what I "had to smile about" for being too cheerful (if, God forbid, I actually was feeling happy about something.)

"You're taking the path of least resistance," he'd sneer - and how could I argue? moral coward, that's meCollapse )

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Can you catch Sin Cooties by material cooperation with heretics?

I didn't know. I didn't like the ads, they made me think; but they also made me think that if I was going to insist that Catholics be free to publish anything and everything we wanted, then I had to extend that right to everyone else, too, and what was immoral about presenting the arguments of the opposition (let alone in such a passive and peripheral way as making camera-ready-copy) to be openly debated in print since even St. Thomas Aquinas did it, why half the Summa was spent on dissenting views--

I didn't mention at home that I was statting ads for heretics, though; I knew that would be a no-win situation.

The turnover rate there was enormous, as was the wastage rate of materials due to inaccurate order transcriptions and rushing - it wasn't so much "measure once, cut twice," but "measure? what's that mean?" - only I assumed then that this was unique to this particular disfunctional plant, not common to the industry as I subsequently have learned. It was scary, not just the constant sexual talk that taught me what "smegma" was and "felching" and who Rosie Palmer and her four sisters were and how handcuffs went with sex, and the yelling and occasional fisticuffs among the 'roid ragers; but I'm supposed to be scared of strange men carjacking me instead of my coworkersCollapse )

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In which I take a jackhammer to the cement encasing my personal Chernobyl


"When someone tells shows you who they are, believe them."
--attr. to Maya Angelou


Whatever I said, whatever I did I didn't mean it
I just want you back for good
Whenever I'm wrong just tell me the song and I'll sing it
You'll be right and understood
--"Back for Good" by Take That, 1995

The books and the teachings all said that a wife must submit to everything except for sin. And making me give away my car wasn’t sin. In fact, it was a good deed. Why was I so selfish? What was wrong with me?
So I sadly but obediently gave away my cute little car to a poor man who worked at our Bible school (not telling him that I *had* to, of course) and then had to get up an hour early in order to drive Mark to work every morning. That hour early was horrid. I had to drop Mark off and then sit in the parking lot of my work for an hour every morning until my job’d doors opened for the day. It was miserable.

He was very displeased at my lack of cheerfulness about the situation, and made sure to let me know, in a pastoral way, that it was a mark of my lack of spirituality. A good Christian would have gladly given up her car at the request of her spiritual leader/husband, you see. Spiritual leaders know best, and the role of a follower is to cheerfully submit.
"Shutting off my Brain, Part 4" from "The Tale of a Passionate Housewife Desperate For God," by Journey

The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all your Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all your Tears wash out a Word of it

--Omar Khayyam, E. Fitzgerald translator.


This is not a linear narrative, because I did not experience it linearly, but in a Groundhog Day way, cycles of events repeating over and over again - or more like some video game in which one must keep rerunning dungeons, fighting the same bosses over and over again because there's no save point, and no way to skip ahead either. This is a Rashomon narrative, because all narratives are Rashomon-style narratives - the way I remember my childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood, and tried with the fury of a thousand suns to burn out of my mind, to ignore and cover over by living in the present, by telling myself that since it was all over and done now and only I'd been hurt it didn't matter - except that wasn't true, it wasn't "over" and it did matter, as every single younger child in my family has gone through self-harming and depressive episodes too.

My father always claimed that he loved me, just like he loved my mother, and that the fact that he'd adopted me proved that he loved me even more than an ordinary parent.

At odds with that was how he behaved to her and to me in the subsequent years.

--People would say to me even as a kid - other children even, who already knew something of the ways of the world and were not always fooled by words: "Probably your father is so hard on you because you're not really his," as if that were both necessary and sufficient condition for abuse - but even as a kid I knew that wasn't it, or not all of it: partly that was mere logic, because he was also similarly hard on the rest of us, so it couldn't be mere genes determining reaction; he pulled the same stuff on my siblings who were his biologically, so it seemed to be more a problem with parenting generally, since absence of shared DNA was neither necessary nor sufficient.

And yet - there was always something going on between us that I could never fully nail down, something nebulous and yet undeniable, like the Pleiades, some extra hostility and bitterness against me that went beyond the usual "you children just want my money/you children don't appreciate how hard I work for you,.you children hate your old man and dream of pushing him down the stairs in his wheelchair/a prophet is without honor in his own country/you don't appreciate what a sensitive soul I am/you're all trying to persecute me by [not getting perfect grades/jumping on the furniture/being loud on the stairs/etc]/if it weren't for me you'd be starving on the streets, I own everything that is yours and don't you ever forget it/etc" that he subjected us all to, daily.

I always loyally replied, "No, he hates us all equally," -- but sometimes I couldn't help but wonder if there was not, in fact, some sort of male dominance thing going on whereby he was jealous of my sperm donor's prior intercourse with his wife and I was the unerasable reminder of it--

Well, I wasn't wrong that there was more there than an angry suburban dude feeling trapped by his familial responsibilities, but it was way worse than that.

Some time ago, in the course of one of his perennial attempts to get me to tell him it was all okay and he's not a Bad Person for having abused me all those years because he couldn't help it due to his background while simultaneously acknowledging that really I deserved it for being such a bad kid, I finally got the real explanation, the key that made sense of so bloody much which hadn't even made sense.
Some of the seriously crazy-making things I could sort of figure out, over the years, like the way he would hurl the accusation that "I look so much like her" as if that were justification for his losing his temper at me in some outrageous fashion for some trifle or misunderstanding. I seriously considered getting plastic surgery when I could afford it, to try to stop thatCollapse )

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is that it validates the very human impulse to think that we can "make up" for things - rewrite the past, undo what we have done, magic away the reality with something else - that we can fix our misdeeds and harms done by harming ourselves in some way.

And we can't. We really can't.

It's not that religions create this idea: as I stated above, it's there from the beginning, children barely old enough to speak have grasped from somewhere the idea that if they hurt another kid, they can balance the metaphysical scales by letting the other child hurt them back - "Quick, you bite ME now!" - or by hurting themselves - "See? I hit myself with the block! Now you mustn't tell!" - in order to escape the potential for worse punishment by parental involvement. The concept of buying our way out of unfairness seems to be as innately human as the notion of fairness is innate in many social animals. Dogs don't engage in sophistry, howeverCollapse )

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Enough of abstractions - mere chronology instead


In autumn of 1999 I was in Barnes & Noble where my selfish restiveness often took me of nights being single and thus "having no responsibilities" when I wasn't teaching CCD (but my father had sneered at me that I didn't really have a vocation, did I? and I couldn't just become a nun because I was "scared of men," - and so I didn't), and selfishly enjoying a cup of green tea with honey while I distracted myself from my poverty and lack of prospects and family troubles and how I couldn't protect people I ought to be able to protect - why DID they have to spoil a lovely outing and the illusion that everything was fine at home now that I was no longer there to cause friction with unsolicited laments about the dog being beaten before them and I with no more to offer than feeble platitudes? - and the general fear that the cosmos was uncaring and God nonexistent or worse yet as malicious and brutal as our religion painted Him settled down to look at the newest Pratchett novel that I had just discovered, with a moderately-pleased anticipation.

I wasn't expecting any trouble - yes, this was one of the "Witches" books, but I was even back then sufficiently enlightened to not be scared of Occult Cooties any more, and did not worry that merely reading about Good Witches not sufficently denatured and intellectually separable from actual Occult Practices (as in the Oz books) might be a Danger To My Soul, as many* in my denomination let alone religion still taught; I thought it would be a light, snarky take on the Anne Rice vampire craze and its potrayal of angsty aristocratic bloodsuckers as infinitely more sympathetic than the mundane mortals around them - and it was.

It was also a hell of a lot more*. Take this exchange from page 275 and following between a witch and a cleric of Om, the deity who came back from near oblivion in Small Gods:


"What's that you're singing?" Granny demanded.

"It's called 'Om is in his Holy Temple.'"

"Nice tune," said Granny. "You take comfort from it, do you?" there is more than enough affliction to go aroundCollapse )

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Sentimentality, Envy, Vainglory Make a Toxic Trifecta All Right
(and Authority-Seeking & Prudery don't help any either)



I've described so far how, if you take seriously the teachings of the prolife movement as they have been expounded upon by all levels within it since the earliest years, it becomes not only a sane-seeming thing to do but a moral imperative to plan acts of violence that to everyone else look just like terrorism; in this penultimate installment I have tried to vivisect the mental traits and temptations that wind people into this cocoon-trap and make it so hard to see the internal contradictions and dishonesties of it all, make it so easy to become tools of natalists, xenophobes, union busters, the intellectual heirs of Fr. Coughlin and Henry Ford and Henry Cabot Lodge in all ways that can be numbered--


Sentimentality

Sentimentality as the ruling passion passing for ethics in prolifism is pretty obvious once you start looking at what is okay with prolifers. Not just the death penalty (Seamless Garment folks are few and very far between) which after all is being applied to people who are guilty of something if not what they've been charged of: they're adults and thus sinners and so it really doesn't matter to your rank-and-file prolifer who can't imagine themselves ever being on Death Row (unless it's in the context of the godless liberal Death Camps of the NWO Apocalypse) nor anyone they know; the saying that prolifers only care about people from conception to birth sounds like a cheap shot, but when you combine it with the ferocious opposition to everything that would reduce infant mortality and improve quality of life and longevity across the board that is the rule and not the exception among prolife conservativism, it's hard to argue with - and even that becomes a mockery, a pretense, when you consider things like the disregard for prenatal health that goes along with toxic environments and inadequate nutrition let alone the forced abortions of the Marianas sweatshops and so on; but the really blatant hypocrisy of prolifism, and how it depends on the ability to compartmentalize so drastically that one can simultaneously care "passionately" about the plight of the unborn - and not care about them at all, when they're not the right sort of unborn.

I refer, of course, to the rampant indifference (at best) to casualties of war - which even the most naive and unimaginative prolifer over the age of twelve has to admit includes women and children, and some of those women must statistically be pregnant ones.

To take an author in our sphere, Orson Scott Card, whose rhetoric is entirely typical of the Wanderer crowd of the Seventies - ,or my own diocese's in 2004Collapse )

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Logic is one of the most valuable self-defense arts out there, because what it does (one thing, at least) is create wiring diagrams of conversation, so that you can see what connects up and what doesn't, what verbal switch or combination of switches work to make something else work, and what breaks the circuit or is completely irrelevant.

What it doesn't do is give you hard-'n'-fast answers to anything: it doesn't provide proof that a verbal machine actually does what it's supposed to do (to push the analogy about as far as it can be pushed) when you turn it on, but it does help you see if a chain of if-thens actually leads where it's supposed to go, or if there's some results-fixing going on to make it "work" or avoid the problems inherent in the circuitry. It helps you sort out, using shorthand, where the bits and pieces are when you're diagnosing fallacies and figuring out what arguments actually consist of.

IOW, it's a really great bullshit-detecting device, and since bullshit is primarily a tool of social dominance, it's a really great mental shielding device if you use it in combat rhetoric scenarios, as well as helping to avoid making mistakes, yourself.

One of the critical tools in the FL kit is the separation of the word "or" into its two not-identical uses: and/or, aka "inclusive or" which describes states which may coexist, and either/or, aka "exclusive or", which describes states which rule each other out. If A is the case, then not-A cannot also be the case. (But is A the case? Depends on what A is. So it doesn't get you very far - but sometimes setting out what A and not-A are is a very big deal. Frex:

* Either A, or not-A;

* Either having been abused is excuse for abusing, or it is not;

* Either having the power to do harm justifies doing harm, or it does not;

* Either doing something good is a free pass for doing something wrong , or it isn't;this could go on for pages, but doesn'tCollapse )

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I doubt it.

Guy "Guido" Fawkes, an Englishman who converted to Catholicism as a teenager in the time when Catholicism was no longer the state religion but a proscribed and persecuted one, and then went to fight on the side of the empire that had tried quite hard to invade and conquer England when he was eighteen, came back with explosives training and joined an attempt by a radicalized member of an old ruling dynasty (whose father had been arrested and tried for harboring Catholic clerics due to fears that Catholics were supporting and aiding said foreign invasion) to destroy the British government in protest against the Penal Laws that to their disappointment had not been ended by a new administration as expected.

The plot only failed because someone among of the plotters had qualms and in effect whistleblew upon themselves to warn away a sympathizer in the government before the event, followed by the discovery of the planted explosives and the sapper himself in the course of searching the unsecured building on November 5th, 1605.

Re-authorization of judicial torture by executive fiat, which had been banned in the interrim since the Armada, didn't didn't actually work to yield any of the other conspirators, although prototypical police work - and a possible double-agent - did. That is to say, Fawkes didn't reveal anyone who might have another bomb ticking away in another undetected rented storage unit somewhere near government center, until after it would have been too late.

It did however eventually provide more suspects to torture and execute and validation of all the fears of the majority Protestant population and leadership regarding Catholics being dangerous traitors, leading to more repression justified as a reaction to the Gunpowder Plot.

The people calling today for more torture of suspects and persecution of Muslims in America as a result of the horrible but not unprecedented fragging at Ft. Hood, TX, on November 5th, 2009, ought to see the parallels, have little-to-no excuse not to, but almost certainly won't if they haven't yet.

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T. E. Lawrence to the Editor of The Times (emphases mine)


All Souls College

July 22 [1920]

Sir,

In this week's debate in the Commons on the Middle East a veteran of the House expressed surprise that the Arabs of Mesopotamia were in arms against us despite our well-meant mandate. His surprise has been echoed here and there in the Press, and it seems to me based on such a misconception of the new Asia and the history of the last five years, that I would like to trespass at length on your space and give my interpretation of the situation.

The Arabs rebelled against the Turks during the war not because the Turk Government was notably bad, but because they wanted independence. They did not risk their lives in battle to change masters, to become British subjects or French citizens, but to win a show of their own.

Whether they are fit for independence or not remains to be tried. Merit is no qualification for freedom. Bulgars, Afghans, and Tahitans have it. Freedom is enjoyed when you are so well armed, or so turbulent, or inhabit a country so thorny that the expense of your neighbour's occupying you is greater than the profit. Feisal's Government in Syria has been completely independent for two years, and has maintained public security and public services in its area.

Mesopotamia has had less opportunity to prove its armament. It never fought the Turks, and only fought perfunctorily against us. Accordingly, we had to set up a war-time administration there. We had no choice; but that was two years ago, and we have not yet changed to peace conditions. Indeed, there are yet no signs of change. 'Large reinforcements', according to the official statement, are now being sent there, and our garrison will run into six figures next month. The expense curve will go up to 50 million pounds for this financial year, and yet greater efforts will be called for from us as the Mesopotamian desire for independence grows.

It is not astonishing that their patience has broken down after two years. The Government we have set up is English in fashion, and is conducted in the English language. So it has 450 British executive officers running it, and not a single responsible Mesopotamian. In Turkish days 70 per cent of the executive civil service was local. Our 80,000 troops there are occupied in police duties, not in guarding the frontiers. They are holding down the people. In Turkish days the two army corps in Mesopotamia were 60 per cent Arab in officers, 95 per cent in other ranks. This deprivation of the privilege of sharing the defence and administration of their country is galling to the educated Mesopotamians. It is true we have increased prosperity - but who cares for that when liberty is in the other scale? They waited and welcomed the news of our mandate, because they thought it meant Dominion self-government for themselves. They are now losing hope in our good intentions.

A remedy? I can see a cure only in immediate change of policy. The whole logic of the present thing looks wrong. Why should Englishmen (or Indians) have to be killed to make the Arab Government in Mesopotamia, which is the considered intention of his Majesty’s Government? I agree with the intention, but I would make the Arabs do the work. They can. My little experience in helping to set up Feisal showed me that the art of government wants more character than brains.

I would make Arabic the Government language. This would impose a reduction of the British staff, and a return to employment of the qualified Arabs. I would raise two divisions of local volunteer troops, all Arabs, from the senior divisional general to the junior private. (Trained officers and trained N.C.O.'s exist in thousands.) I would entrust these new units with the maintenance of order, and I would cause to leave the country every single British soldier, every single Indian soldier. These changes would take 12 months, and we should then hold of Mesopotamia exactly as much (or as little) as we hold of South Africa or Canada. I believe the Arabs in these conditions would be as loyal as anyone in the Empire, and they would not cost us a cent.

I shall be told that the idea of brown Dominions in the British Empire is grotesque. Yet the Montagu scheme and the Milner scheme are approaches to it, and the only alternative seems to be conquest, which the ordinary Englishman does not want, and cannot afford.

Of course, there is oil in Mesopotamia, but we are no nearer that while the Middle East remains at war, and I think if it is so necessary for us, it could be made the subject of a bargain. The Arabs seem willing to shed their blood for freedom; how much more their oil!

T. E. Lawrence

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Sweet dreams are made of this,
who am I to disagree?
I travel the world and the seven seas,
everybody's looking for something:
some of them want to use you;
some of them want to get used by you;
some of them want to abuse you;
some of them want to be abused...

--The Eurythmics, 1983/1991


A dispiriting way to bring girls up, Sarah thought; to make marriage the sole end of female existence, and yet deny that love between men and women was possible. Ada did deny it. In her world, men loved women as the fox loves the hare. And women loved men as the tapeworm loves the gut.
--Pat Barker, Regeneration, 1991*


In time the love of the prince became a little less ardent than formerly, so that his evil mood seemed to grow again. It was as though a thick fog had obscured his senses and corrupted his heart. In everything that the princess did he imagined that he saw little real sincerity. Her outstanding goodness offended him; it was a snare, he thought, for his credulity. His unhappy state of mind led him to believe every suspicion. As a result of the melancholy with which his mind had been tainted, he followed her about, watching her. He seemed to enjoy limiting her pleasures and alarming her, mixing the false with the true.

"I must not be lulled asleep," he said. "If these virtues of hers are indeed genuine, then even my most unreasonable actions will only strengthen them."

--Charles Perrault, Griselda, 1697 (after Boccaccio)





--Maybe it's perfectly normal for disputes between married adults to involve things being thrown and smashed and furniture being overturned and people being hit with frying pans and screaming and slamming and broken pieces and children fleeing out the windows and tires screeching into the night - I wouldn't know, I hardly knew anything else for the first decade and a half of my life.

--Maybe it's perfectly normal for fathers to talk regularly about killing, and wanting to kill, specifically to go up "on top of a tower and shoot people" at frequent, random intervals; I certainly thought it was, and didn't even know it was copycat crime envy, for most of my life. I never knew anything different, growing up.( Eventually you just get inured to it, if your mother keeps saying it's just talk and doesn't mean anything: doesn't everybody's dad talk about how he wants to massacre strangers all the time?)

--Maybe it's perfectly normal for women to marry men they don't love to get out of their parents' home, and then disillusion them shortly after the ceremony, and lay it on their children by prior relationships, setting up a dynamic of cryptic blame and resentment and using to poison the whole family from day one.

--Maybe it's perfectly perfectly normal for men to make "jokes" about husbands killing wives Who wouldn't want to get married, really?Collapse )



* Oh, I can't begin to tell you how ferociously I hated Pat Barker back in 1991, and hated the NYT for reviewing her and excerpting that passage where I could stumble over it by accident - how much easier it would have been to avoid looking at the whole damn cauldron of worms that was "romantic love" and Christian marriage in the twentieth century--! As bad as how they kept playing that song on the radio wherever I went that year...

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I have to run down and post the rent check before I forget again and it gets too late, and then I have to do housework that I have been putting off for far too long, and then I will try to answer comments before buckling down to slog through the rest of my writing duties.

Meanwhile, a smattering of more whimsical observations, for leaven:

1. Wasps are not kitty treats. Unfortunately there is no way that I know of to convince cats of this. So I have a disgruntled deprived kitty sulking after having been shoved out of the way and pinned under my knee, and somewhere yonder there is a disgruntled wasp looking for somewhere else to hibernate after being scooped up in a glass-and-paper and thrust outside again.

2. Why I have to say I'm Bi, not L nor Asexual. As I said, it's easy to think you're Just Not Into Guys when the usual local selection tends to run the gamut from bland to blech (at least over-Axeing seems to have gone out of style here, thank goodness!) and weeks without a single male-induced raising of the pulse - and then someone has to go and post a link to a picture like this --! Uh, yeah, definitely hot. In all possible ways. (Prolly not SFW, unless you work somewhere very fun; via Angry Asian Man) Flannel shirts are not supposed to be that sexy!

3. Also very nice-looking, but safe for work this time: shiny cobalt-blue Mediterranean-style solar roofing, looks like something out of a fantasy illustration doesn't it? I've always liked that roof style, and I've always liked the color blue, and that just does the "two great tastes that taste great together" thing.(Unfortunately I can't remember where I scarfed this link from, probably a tech blog.)

4. Standard warnings, playing w/fire is dangerous, don't do this indoors, don't hurt yourselves, all fun'n'games till somebody loses an eye, you know the drill - now on to the fun stuff, DIY flaming swords. For reals, not photoshoppery - oh yeah. High-tech fibermaking meets the ancient arts of Messing Around With Fire and Messing Around With Knives. Try not to burn the place down while you're having fun!

5. Maple-Bacon Lollipops - and more outre flavors, too: I can't remember if I posted the link to the maple-bacon and absinthe lollipop makers before, but anyway it's the right date for it, and they have new flavors too now, including Irish Cream and Wasabi Ginger, all handmade with real ingredients. I'm not even a hard-candy fan and I find them tempting! (Some of the site is NSFW due to artistic nudity.) OM NOM NOM~

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Averting the Sin Cooties is All That Matters

Sorry, conventionalists, I'm going back to my old Victorian letter-writer/typist's style of using underlining for primary emphasis because it's just too distracting for me to use bold for primary emphasis all the time and italics don't always show up well. Links are burnt-orange and usually bolded in my personal style-sheet; bold & italics indicate shifts in tone.

And I'm not doing this for praise, it's embarrassing to be praised for something that I should have had the guts to do back in 2004, and in 2006, and in 2008, and didn't.




Souvenir from another country - the past, that is--



Fred's posts at Slacktivist have helped clarify the way that prolifers do not, for the most part, really believe the "Abortion is murder!" slogans they trot out, any more than Millennial Dispensationalists really believe that the End of the World is nigh as they go right on making long-term investments and generally living like everybody else. Struggling with the cognitive dissonance of both Apocalypticism and Prolifism in my own sub-society and trying to explain a worldview that makes planning to blow up buildings in your hometown seem not only sane but a moral imperative to a devout teenager, and yet not to the adults who preached it daily, the "don't really believe it on a fundamental level" is invaluable as an explanation - but as a philosopher and student of human nature, the question then becomes "so why do they embrace it?"

I know why I did - I was raised to, with no conflicting teachings; but why do adults choose it, as my parents and their friends did? To this I must answer with the question, "Why did I continue to cling to it, even when I knew it was rubbish?" and the answer to that is found in the term "Sin Cooties," coined by natecull years ago when we were all discussing the problems of faith, loss of faith, different kinds of faith, Fearing Believers (as opposed to Cheerful Believers) and dogmatic behavior generally.

"Sin Cooties" is the ontological moral contamination you get from entertaining doubts however slight, from hanging around sinners, from disobeying your authority figures, from wandering into the ill-defined and nebulous shadows of The World. Sin Cooties are not on your head, but in it - and your fellow conservatives can see them too, if you dare voice any doubts aloud.

How serious is the fear of Sin Cooties? Remember how scared you were, as a kid, of army ants? --Way worse than thatCollapse )

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How Prolifism Substitutes For Genuine Ethical Engagement With A Fantasy Life of Moral Heroism

I've been trying to write this post for years. I keep failing at doing it, for various reasons. It keeps on needing to be written. So, this time, I'm just going to write it, and fail, and post it anyway, however far or not I get, and however muddled it is when I can't go any further.

I've talked about having been a "single-issue voter" in the past and people have asked me how I could go from a solid-Republican, Pat-Buchanan-and-Alan-Keyes-voting "prolife" conservative to a flaming liberal voting for "proabort" Democrats, and I've tried to explain in bits and pieces over the years.

I've also tried to explain what it's like being such a person from the inside, as a corrective to outsiders' uninformed speculation (aka ASSumptions) and how it's not wrong to say that "they really just care about the babies and saving innocent lives" - but it's also not wrong in the least to say that "they just want to control women, they just hate female sexuality" either.

Those are not actually mutually exclusive positions, we could multitask, tooCollapse )

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A short while back, I was in a situation where the only book on hand to read was a novel by somebody I'd never read nor heard of, of that genre that is hard to nail down, the quasi-mystery novel which is often called "suspense" or "thriller" but which would be most accurately called "serial-killer fear porn" in most cases - they were very big throughout the Nineties, and I skimmed a whole bunch of them in bookstores and department store book sections, trying to figure out their perverse appeal, since most of the purchasers seemed to be women. "Be afraid, be VERY afraid at ALL times of ALL men!

--Except for The Hero who will if you are a VERY lucky Good Girl show up to rescue you at the last minute from the charming (or deceptively-bland) serial killer whom you stupidly trusted and now in whose cackling clutches you are helplessly caught--" that was the message of each one that I perused, which admittedly was the message of my parents and the whole adult world, only with more explicit gore and sex. The covers, like the authors and titles and synopses, were pretty much interchangeable, with a lipsticked screaming mouth or terror-and-mascara-widened eye on a ghostly-white background, or, sometimes, for variety, an ominiously-silhouetted female on a shadowy cover.

This one fell into the latter style.

So, yeah, not looking to be my cup of tea, but again when you are trapped without stuff to read - well, you know how it goes - and it turned out to be a lot different than the cover indicated, with women doing their own rescuing (the exception being a six year old child) as well as some of the evildoing, and a Bechdel-Wallace pass as one of the protagonists is mentored by an older FBI agent, and a lot of focus Ack, Politically-Correct Bestseller!Collapse )

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"She lied! She lied to us!"
--Grand Moff Tarkin, Star Wars, (1977)



This is something that I've been kicking around for a very long time, and which I suppose doesn't really need a good "hook" to tie it to, as the problem never seems to go away. We talk a lot about "empathy," defined in Webster's as "the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner; also : the capacity for this", and the need of it for a functioning, humane society - or the horror of it, according to the conservatives in this country, with the somewhat surreal spectacle of rightwing pundits openly booing the concept of empathy as a significant part of their measured opposition to the nomination of Judge Sotomayor to the US Supreme Court.

This didn't work very well, because "Empathy Bad! Boo! Hiss!" is a trope that isn't as widely accepted outside the conservative bubble as its employers believed, and a meme, like a joke, that has to be unpacked and set up before most people can "get" it, just doesn't work in the id-stimulating way that slogans need to operate.

As for the mystifying-to-many rationale behind why the NRO crew et al thought that "Down With Empathy!" would be a good tack to take, it could be explored at length and in tedious detail, but it really does boil down to the essential misogyny of conservativism, Read more...Collapse )

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If you follow dKos as your first newsfeed aggregator of choice, you've already been aware of these cases, and the syncretic whole they are parts of. If not, you might have missed the story that Chico Dave RN and Robin NWLC posted about yesterday, in which it is revealed that having been raped and sought medical care afterwards is grounds for denial by our good capitalist overlords in the oh-so-profitable Health Care Rationing Industry - which goes right along with having been abused by your male "protector" and with having had common and and in past eras fatal difficulties giving birth - all of which are conditions disproportionately affecting women - are "preexisting conditions" for which someone may be denied any and all coverage no matter what one has paid for.

Now, you might think it a bit hypocritical that the same conservative status quotidians who are always going on about how American/Western (read "white") women aren't having enough babies, and how Democrats and liberals are "anti-life", should say things like "Having a child is a choice" and thus one that women should be additionally penalized for, beyond all the usual workplace and family and health consequences of pregnancy and motherhood. You might think that an HMO reoganized for profitability by someone who is so notably prolife might be even more careful of appearances in this regard. But you'd be wrong, just as you would be if you wondered if conservatarians were actually serious when they wondered why women in this country tend to vote so much more strongly liberal/Democratic and attribute it to soft-headed sentimentality rather than cold-blooded self-interest.

(The Hegemony has no shame. Never has, never will. Never forget this.)

Remember, it wasn't Republicans/conservatives - or libertarians - who fought and pushed for equal pay, either, or any end to gender-based discrimination throughout the years - including the right to fight against such discrimination once discovered and proven. The "free market" and its worshippers are no friends to women, no matter how much some of them may celebrate a pedestalled "femininity."

Even, however, if like Sen. Kyl you think that such "women's issues" are no matter to your life because you're not one of us, you should not feel complacent: they can, and will get you, too. Unless you're rich enough to pay for all possible treatment out of your own pockets, or have dependable friends-and-relations who will do it for you in an emergency, the odds are good that you'll have to be fighting for your life at just the times when you're going to be least up to it.

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Bob Herbert gives the worship of the Invisible Hand a rare and righteous smackdown in the NYT, being one of the rare members of the SCLM with a memory longer than a guppy's; people all over the blogosphere are getting fed up with the SCLM's endless torrent of "Pity the poor rich, they are being made to feel BAAAAD about their new Jags and it's TOUGH when you can no longer afford to have three maids!" and mocking it with great gusto - as well as pointing out that, you know, this attitude may have something to do with why their subscriber bases keep shrinking; the pushback against "we can't afford healthcare for all" with "we can't afford NOT to" by the grassroots seems to be having effect, if seeming Sisyphean-slow; and so - as ever - it goes.

Also, you can find 1939's Mr. Smith Goes To Washington entirely on the internets (I find Kickass Torrents to be the best & safest source), and there was even an original Spanish-language dub of it from Argentina called "Knight Without A Sword" (Caballero sin Espada) which is at least in part up on Youtube.

Yes, it's Capra, and thus cloying. It's also still really relevant - particularly the bits about Claude Raines' chara. (And, with the original trailer on IMDb, you can see another demonstration of how much more sexist Hollywood has become - Jean Arthur got top billing back then, just like Olivia de Havilland did in Captain Blood's PR. Leading ladies were considered selling points, and for more than their T&A.)

Along that line, to explain the question so many of my readers from abroad have asked - why is it so difficult to pass beneficial reforms in this country? - I will answer with a joke that I saw a while back on a blog; unfortunately I'm not sure where or who first posted it. The joke goes that Sen. Al Franken, the former comedian from Saturday Night Live who once told war criminal Kissinger to take a hike when the latter was trying to scrounge up tickets to the studio show, upon being finally seated after all the challenges mounted by his Republican rival Coleman were thrown out by the courts, was very nervous and self-conscious about making protocol mistakes. So of course he makes one, saying "The floor recognizes the senator from Anthem Blue Cross" - at which Freudian slip, thirty senators rise to their feet!

It wouldn't be funny if it weren't all-too-true - which makes it not funny at all, really.

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