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It's Christmas, still, for a few more hours [Dec. 25th, 2012|08:58 pm]
Yes, still alive. So is everyone else who I post about in this journal. Not necesarily all well, mind you, but alive. Except my cousin Jim, whose death was a mercy. (unable to move; communicated by blinking eyelids, spent the last few years of his life like that. In case you've forgotten or missed those entries).

Not really the energy to post a more detailed update, but in case anyone was wondering or or worried, here's this.

Hope you are all well and happy. Or at least have realistic expectations of such on the horizon.
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A query [Jun. 12th, 2012|02:45 pm]
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Why the extreme, zealous (one such as myself might even be inclined to say extremely and zealously close-minded)hatred of all non-mainstream medical & healing practices by many in the liberal/progressive community?

Case in point: I have been sorta remiss in my political reading of late, but made an effort to partially catch up this weekend. On Sunday, a post by Natalia Antonova went up on Feministe advertising her availability for online Tarot readings (you can see it, and the responses, some of which were truly awful, here: http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2012/06/10/tarot-get-your-tarot/ ).

Now, one would think anyone who's been noticing the world economy and possessed of an IQ above 80 would immediately think "Oh, crap! Yet another person having a rough time of it, financially speaking." Which, probably, most people did. But a significant # of people felt compelled to post some variant on "Why are con artists being allowed to advertise their dangerous new-age garbage on this site and make us all look like gullible fools?" (note: whether you like her or not, Natalia is fairly well known in most online feminist circles, and especially in this particular one; she has been a guest poster on that site many times in the past, and there's no reason to suspect her of wanting to con people out of money, or plaster their personal information provided for the readings all over the internet, both of which some commenters suggested)

But hey, a large # of people online are awful human beings who lack empathy and live to say "You suck!" at the slightest pretext; that's not news, or particularly surprising. But I was surprised at the people who felt compelled to state, rather out of the blue, that "I hate homeopathy!" and, some going further, "I hate not only homeopathy, but ALL complimentary and alternative medical practices!" "Hey, me too!"

And someone I mentioned this to in passing said Shakespeare's Sister, a site I haven't been to in a while but generally think highly of, occasionally has entire threads devoted to the awfulness of alternative medicine in general and homeopathy in particular.

Okay, I get that some new agey types practically beg to be mocked (note, again: not including Ms. Antonova in that group; I suspect I'm way more new agey than her). And I get that the principles of homeopathy do not, at either first or second glance, appear to make a whole lot of sense. But, well, four things here:

(1) Why lump all alternative/complimentary/non-approved-by-the-American-medical-establishment practices together? There are a LOT of very different things that could fall under this heading, many of them with very good studies supporting their efficacy, many others of which the jury still seems out on but may work; many that seem loopy; some that are loopy and/or fraudulent. But if you're lumping glucosamine in with the Hulda Clark and the Zapper, you are the one who is being unscientific, illogical, and uninformed.

(2) Why the doctrinal zealotry? A lot of supplements work. A lot of things that used to be on the fringes are now widely accepted. Some things that used to be widely accepted are now considered worthless. With regard to many supplements and practices, studies seem to get different results depending on which country they are performed in. It is highly unlikely that some herbs work in Europe and/or Japan, but not in the US. And even if people are mistaken about what works (and they are bound to be, on both sides, some of the time), the level of hostility seems bizarre. If someone goes to an acupuncture clinic and gets better, that doesn't mean the fundies are right or that surgery is no longer a viable practice. But you'd think those were the stakes from some of the reactions.

(3) Why the assumption that because you can't figure out (or haven't YET figured out) how or why something works, that must mean it doesn't work?

(and there was more, and some of what I have was more nuanced and better written, but live journal ate my first attempt at a post, so you get what was left in the saved draft, minus some stuff that I had already rewritten and didn't want to rewrite again; I gotta run)

Thoughts?
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A flapping outside my window [May. 24th, 2012|12:26 am]
Skipping over the most awful travails of the last few days, this one was still extremely upsetting. Yesterday in the bathroom I heard a sudden sound, and at first thought it was water loudly dripping in the walls. Then that it must be an animal of some sort on the roof.

Finally, I looked out the window, and to the right saw the dove that had been sitting on a nest in a little tree outside the bedroom window, standing and flapping. I thought perhaps the eggs had hatched, and left her alone, not wanting to disturb her and scare her away from her fledglings.

Then I heard the flapping again, loudly, from the bedroom, and looked out the bedroom window and again saw the dove beating its wings. And again, fearing to disturb her, left her to flap.

At least some of you are probably now furious with me for my stupidity.

The sound stops, and I go back to look out the bathroom window, since it's a bit further from the nest, and she is sitting on a branch outside the bathroom window instead of her nest. Seeing me, she flies off. Exactly what I didn't want to happen, but at least now I get to take a closer look at the nest. I see not hatchlings, nor two eggs, but a snake. I rush outside, and reach to grab the snake, then stop and try to look for a rattle. I don't *think* rattlesnakes can climb trees, but it's definitely not a king snake or a gopher snake and it's fairly sizable, and I didn't know ANY desert snakes climbed trees. As I peer closer, I spook the snake and suddenly it shoots upward, amazingly fast, going from the little tree to an ancient tv antennae to the big ... ummmm ..... after realizing I don't remember the name of this kind of tree, and some research has failed to show me an exact picture match, I'll just say the big willowy looking tree w/lots of yellow blossoms and bees that has a branch which intersects with the antennae. Anyway, in motion the snake is a shimmering hot pink blur, and I now know red racers can climb trees. So maybe the "rosy boa" aka for red racers is actually accurate? (What's funny is I could have recited chapter and verse on all of this stuff, trees and snake alike, without effort when I was 8. Really. I'm sort of ashamed to have forgotten it all.)

My appearance was too late, and the eggs were all gone. The dove came back, off and on, for hours afterward, then finally went away for good. The nest is empty. I know the snake has to eat and all, but I still feel horribly responsible. The dove had been sitting on the eggs for a while. A few more days and they probably would have hatched; a few more weeks and they could have safely flown away.
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I am glad you are all still alive. (You are, aren't you?) [May. 23rd, 2012|11:58 pm]
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I had cause to recall, just the other day, a time in college when two friends and I almost became youthful entrepreneurs. My friend Van came to me with the idea of doing a calender of girls at our university. I thought "Hey, this could work!" and had the further thought of making it dueling calenders, one for independents and one for sororities, and we came up w/themes for the different months and what have you. Of course, for this to work, we needed a photographer. It just so happened that my other friend David was an awesome photographer, whose parents had a professional photography studio and who had been taking professional photos since he was in high school. I approached David, and we began discussing the nuts and bolts of this idea, and then we all 3 talked, and, well, this really COULD have worked. We could have raked in the bucks.

Alas, conflicts arose. The first and lesser conflict was that David (correctly) had the impression that Van, while he did want to make money, was more enamored with the idea of meeting lots of hot girls than anything else. David and I both somewhat worried that this could make the whole project look bad, should Van ask out anyone who thought (incorrectly, but tis easy to see how they might think this) that there was some kind of quid pro quo entanglement tween the asking and the calender. I was willing to risk it, as Van was truly a cool and nice and non-sleazy guy, and plus he wouldn't be meeting anyone w/out me and/or David there to clarify matters. So, we got past that. (If anyone was wondering whether David and I were purer of heart than Van, David was happily engaged and uninterested in anyone else, and I was totally interested but understood that this was not really the situation to be asking people out)

The second and greater conflict was over money and responsibilities. Van kinda wanted half the profits for having the idea, and for being sufficiently involved in the project as to meet all prospective calender girls and get to decide who would be in the calender, and make suggestions as to outfits and pictures, and meet girls and watch the photo sessions. In this worldview, he would do that, and David would handle all the photography and such for half of the other half, and I would handle all the distribution and marketing and budgeting and other remaining logistics for the other half of the other half. You can see where David and I were not particularly happy with this. So it was brought up that maybe we should split the profits equally between us for the aforementioned delegation of labor. And we got past THAT, but then the "putting money into it" came up. David didn't think he should bear any costs beyond the use of his labor and equipment and studio, which Van and I both agreed was entirely fair and just. But Van didn't think he should bear any costs since it was all his idea yet he wasn't getting any more of the profits than David or I. That ALL of the upfront costs and risks be born by me was not only somewhat irritating, but beyond what I could afford, and if I could have afforded it, I would have wanted a profit increase. David and I were irritated with Van. Van was irritated with David and I. And thus did much planning come to naught.

Fastforward to 1990. Say what you want about Van and I being erratic, nonconformist, underachieving malcontents, David was a nice straight arrow, all round solid citizen. Engaged in college, married immediately afterword, dressed conservatively, never even tried marijuana, steadily employed and making good money in his photography studio, had applied himself in college even though he hadn't really needed to go, etc. Then one fine weekday morning, a drunk driver enters the free way on the exit ramp at high speed, and there's a head on collision, and the next day I get tearful call in LA from David's wife back in Alabama that he's dead. He did everything right, had a solid future set, and boom. All gone.

Fastforward to 2001. Over the intervening years, Van, the only one of my high school and college friends I have kept in touch with on a semi-regular basis, has been an English teacher in Taiwan, the drummer in several jazz and rock and roll bands. and lived a really interesting life during which he never quite managed to hold down a regular job. A very talented, very smart, very capable person with a good heart, showing up on time on a regular basis simply wasn't his strong point. (Not that it was mine, either. The difference between me graduating college and him not was that after a semester of missing practically all -in some cases actually ALL - of our morning classes, I would always show up for the reviews and turn in the papers and ace the exams. He would only manage these latter things on occasion. And those classes in the later afternoon and at night, I was actually there for on a regular basis.) He did have quite spectacular success in picking up hot girls, tho, even without the calender. I suppose the whole long hair (waist length, most of the time) alternative rocker thing didn't hurt. Then, one spring Alabama evening, he went to sleep and never woke up. The official cause of death was heart failure. I have no idea if this was due to an underlying heart problem, or intentional or accidental overdose of some sort. He had been quite depressed over the 2000 election results and Bush's inauguration and the level of support for said ex-President in Alabama. So, I dunno.

And then there was one. I will just point out that there was an 11 year gap 'tween David and Van, and this year will make another 11 (which isn't what brought it to mind, but I couldn't help noticing dates). Hopefully I won't complete the trend.
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Defenders of Cultural Norms Unite! [Feb. 7th, 2012|12:24 pm]
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One wonders how much things like enforcers of fascist xenophobia insisting that paying customers(somehow, I suspect only latino or asian looking people, or people with really strong accents) "show their papers" or whatever the fuck they want certain people to do (can you imagine the lines if they applied this rationale to *everyone* they didn't know personally?) is from the indoctrination of an awful culture, how much is from some people just being misbegotten jerks, and how much from the two reinforcing each other?

I mean, you can hold stupid, ignorant, bigoted beliefs without being a big jerk. You can subscribe to an absolutely saintly set of enlightened tenets (or at least claim to) and still be horribly cruel in how you treat others. (I have known plenty of folks who fall into both these categories.) Did the store clerk who wanted to see proof of citizenship or a green card or a passport or god/dess/other knows what take advantage of a nasty cultural trend to go ballistic on the Costa Rican family, because they just get off on harassing people and this gave them a handy excuse, or were they basically a decent person who had just been convinced that everyone who fell into the wrong category of "other" was dispossessed of feelings, or a walking malignancy whose feelings didn't matter because of the sheer evil they were perpetrating by having an accent and skin tone that were atypical for the location? (you can't say they *knew* the person was there illegally, as I doubt they were psychic, so they'd have to, on some instinctual level, feel this person warranted bad treatment simply by who they were, as random southern-accented white people are not being subjected to this sort of thing; or, I suppose, think illegal immigrants posed such a greater threat than all homegrown terrorists, murderers, rapists and bullies that TSA checkpoints needed to be set up at every check-out counter).

So, how much of one and how much of the other?

On a related note, I strongly recommend the "Red Riding" series of movies, in which Game of Thrones fans will see Sean Bean as a whole different kind of "King of the North." Sort of a British film noir, in which Yorkshire somewhat reminds me of where I grew up, except a lot bleaker and less welcoming and minus the good points. But the bad points? Amazingly similar.
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Gee, why did I leave Alabama again? [Feb. 6th, 2012|11:49 am]
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[mood |apalled]

And why is it I'm no rush to move back?

http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/2012/02/self-deportation-more-liberty-for.html

Among other things:

But what I found most surprising was that amid the chaos, regular Alabamians, here and there, were taking the law to heart, pursuing ad hoc immigration justice on their own. I met a young Costa Rican woman named Carolina who long ago overstayed her visa. She told me about a recent time at a grocery store checkout. She and her husband tried to pay for their food with a credit card and valid ID. The cashier refused them, saying they'd first have to show that they were here legally.

Sadly, this cashier is probably not considered among the lunatic fringe there. Sadly, I could even see some of my relatives pulling a stunt like that. It was conservative when I lived there, and unlike the country as a whole, Alabama has grown more conservative, a trend that became obvious in the mid 90's and continued through the last time I visited in 2000. Ah, yes, just reading this article brings back memories of giant billboards along the interstates saying "Go to church or go to Hell" dancing in my head, along with various equally welcoming giant-sized roadside sentiments.

But hey, if any of y'all are looking for a place where

"And from the alien's perspective, it's better, too. He can depart the United States on his own, freely, without ever being in custody. And so there's more liberty for him. And there's less cost for the United States"*

is a popular line of thinking, then start packing your bags!**

*Sexism, fascism, xeonophobia, racism, massive logic fail and delusion all in one cheery paragraph.

**Not everyone in Alabama is like this, mind you, despite it being the first ?and possibly still only? state to outlaw vibrators. There are people like me (who left), my friend Van (who died), and my friends... wait, no they both turned into fundies, and, uh, well, seriously, a good third of the people in the state are probably still very nice and non-scary and not hateful. Whatever the percentages, no insult intended to those, and I genuinely, truly, wish them all the best in at least surviving, hopefully thriving and creating ripples of positive change around them.
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(no subject) [Feb. 2nd, 2012|05:16 pm]
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May you all have a wonderful 2012. [Dec. 31st, 2011|05:53 pm]
May the next year be vastly better than the last in every way for all of us, filled with happiness, good health and prosperity.
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Writer's Block: Don’t look back in anger [Dec. 31st, 2011|02:47 pm]
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Do you have any regrets from this year?

View 716 Answers


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Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all! [Dec. 25th, 2011|02:07 pm]
Stolen from Avedon Carol at the Sideshow, this bit of Dickens seems quite appropriate for today's times:

"You are fettered," said Scrooge, trembling. "Tell me why?"

"I wear the chain I forged in life," replied the Ghost. "I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it on of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it. Is its pattern strange to you?"

Scrooge trembled more and more.

"Or would you know," pursued the Ghost, "the weight and length of the strong coil you bear yourself? It was full as heavy and as long as this, seven Christmas Eves ago. You have laboured on it, since. It is a ponderous chain!"

[...]"But you were always a good man of business, Jacob," faltered Scrooge, who now began to apply this to himself.

"Business!" cried the Ghost, wringing its hands again. "Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!"
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