Thursday, October 16, 2014


No real agenda today. Slow at work so I'm stealing company time to just idle around this shebeen without any actual purpose other than maundering, so please excuse my disorganization.

One thing I completely failed to post about was that the Bride and I had a very muted (Muted? Nonexistent, more like...) acknowledgment of our twelfth anniversary Monday week; it was back in October of 2002 that we wrested legal sanction out of the State of Oregon for our mutual concupiscence.

She was utterly whacked from yet another day tangling with The Boy and I was working late and still trying to get my hands on her anniversary gift. I did get it, a couple of days later, and we had a quiet moment last Friday remembering why we then, and still, long(ed) for one another. Along with her soft green scarf and handmade necklace I gave her this:

Mistress of mistresses, mother of memories,
O you my every pleasure, you my every duty!
You shall recall our pleasures and ecstasies,
The warm peace of our hearth, the evening's placid beauty.
Mistress of mistresses, mother of memories!

Legal sanction is all well and good. But there must also be ecstasies.

Did I mention how I so don't have anything to say about politics because my growing conviction that between the idiot "news" media and the idiot 27% (and you have that pin-up of Cheney in your cubicle so you know who you are...) that we've pretty much achieved Peak Stupid, and that whatever I could say would either be superfluous or ignored?


I'm not sure which disgusts me more, the whole "To arms, to arms, the Sunni militia is coming!" nonsense, or the headless panic over a blood-borne pathogen that has a total U.S. morbidity of three and mortality of one.

On the former that fat bastard Brecher has been right all along, and on the latter...well, I don't know how to put it better than Pierce, so I won't:
"There evidently is going to be a strong constituency on the committee for some kind of travel ban on the countries in Africa on which the disease is laying waste, even though every expert in the world is saying that this is a terrible idea. (Governor Rick Perry, whose state is ground zero for Ebola in America, apparently believes there already is a travel ban on flights from Europe, to which he has brought the Spectacles Of Wisdom to "burnish his foreign-policy credentials," which is putting a shine on a sneaker, but never mind. This is leadership? Has anyone told Ron Fournier?) There also is going to be a lot of election-year posturing and political bloviation. Fear will be mongered. Distrust will be sown. And the statistics will tell us that, throughout last year, we lost 30 people a day. No, wait. That was due to firearms. My bad."
My pal Lisa over at RAW had a good point about one of the real problems these fucking idiots should be worried about; that after thirty-some years of treating medicine as a commodity the for-profit medical community has internalized the profit-first-"customer"( i.e. patient)-service-whenever rationale of the rest of the "market". Take it away again, Pierce:
"In case you joined American democracy already in progress, this is the way it is going to work. The private, for-profit hospital in Texas completely screws the pooch. (They sent the tubes containing blood from the late Thomas Duncan through the hospital's general delivery system? This is moronic.) The CDC comes in -- admittedly, after it should have, but there are regulations, beloved of our private-sector fetishists, that got in the way -- and the privatizers and anti-government types set up the CDC to take the fall for the hospital.

(The hospital isn't a terrific place to work at the best of times, as a nurse named Patricia Lawson found out to her sorrow.)

In prepared testimony, Daniel Varga, the Chief Clinical Officer for the Texas company that includes Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas, apologized to the House committee. "Unfortunately, in our initial treatment of Mr. Duncan, despite our best intentions and a highly skilled medical team, we made mistakes. We did not correctly diagnose his symptoms as those of Ebola. We are deeply sorry," Varga said.

Gee, that's awfully nice of you. Anybody get fired yet?"
As my old pal Struthers would have said, what a fuckin' fucked-up fuckstory.

But are We the People going to act with deliberate care, in light of the best information we can glean from scientific medicine?

Fuck, no, why would we want to do that when we can run around shrieking whatever nonsense Laura Fucking Ingraham, the Tammy Faye Baker of CNN, vomits into her lapel mike?

Gah. I say it's nonsense and I say to hell with it.

Speaking of insanely crazy things, how about this: Iceland - yes, Iceland, famed for herring and...well, herring - defeated the Dutch soccer team - the Oranje, the dreaded Clockwork Orange, World Cup quarterfinalists just half a year ago - 2-nil in Iceland.

Iceland! Sure, the goalscorer plays in Europe but I think the Icelandic keeper is the boxroom guy at the Rekjavik Safeway or something like that. These guys are minnows in the soccer ocean.

This was every underdog story come true. My only regret is that there was no Icelandic announcer to go utterly spastic after the victory: "Queen Juliana! Jan de Hartog! Famke Janssen! Eddie Van Halen! Hans Brinker! We have beaten them all! We have beaten them all!"

Don't get me wrong; I have always been partial to the Oranje ever since the disgrace of Argentina in 1978, when the original Clockwork Orange - Cruyff (who refused to play in the bloodyhanded Argentina of the Dirty War), Neeskens, Rep - was disgracefully robbed of the title. But I love to see these little teams upset the big, rich nations, and in soccer, Holland is very much a have and Iceland very much a have-not.

Except for this once. Wish I'd had the under on THAT bet...
There's a million tales in the naked Facebook; this one is mine.

Back when I was in college, and then later for a while when I was in the service, I had a sort-of-girlfriend.
(BTW, in case you aren't familiar with GFT conventions, people whose likeness I am neither at liberty blue to nor desire to seen blued all over the Internet are always shown from the ankles down, if possible. So this is her, over to the right there, and I should add that whilst I yield to no one in my appreciation for my Bride's attributes my old sort-of-girlfriend still rocks the black slippers...)
I say "sort-of" because I could never quite figure out where I stood with her, or what we were doing. I liked her. We were definitely friends. But we were never lovers, and I'm not sure that we were, either of us, really sure what "love" was, or how to love each other.

I know that I wasn't, and while she was, and is, a very beautiful, dear, sweet, kind, and loving woman I'm glad we didn't end up together back then for, as my first wife found out to our mutual grief, I was not then fit company for any woman of worth.

Still, we seemed to have some sort of very-close-but-not-quite relationship for quite some time that finally, as such relationships often do, drifted away when we were separated by time and space. We never even had a "breakup" in any real sense. Our association just kind of...stopped.

Decades later, while searching a completely different subject, I came across a short video clip of my not-quite-inamorata singing (and she had, and has, a lovely voice) that led me to suspect that she had moved to the Midwest and married. Several years later, motivated by a sort of vague nostalgia and curiosity, I looked her up on the dreaded Facebook and there she was. Using her maiden name, so, apparently, divorced or separated. Living in Missouri, and now an ordained minister in one of the UCC congregations there. We then resumed our friendship in the modern electronic-epistolary form of Facebook.

And from what I've seen as she was then she is still today a very good person; full of love and kindness, the very sorts of things that it seems to me to be very good for a cleric to be given the responsibilities of the job; caring for the sick and the distraught, guiding the afflicted, celebrating with the joyous and comforting the dying. She seems to me to be very likely to be a terrific pastor.

It is when I think of her that it occurs to me that one of the things that sickens me most heartily about many "religions" and those that preach them is the often-outspoken belief that having breasts and a vagina and ovaries somehow makes a person less...spiritual, less fitted for the business of contemplating, or interceding - if it is your nature to want to and try to so intercede - with the Infinite.

"Let your women keep silence in the churches..."

Fucking Paul of Tarsus really has a lot to answer for in my book.

My former-almost-girlfriend is too gentle to do that good work, but give me the Wayback set to 42AD and a good sturdy baulk of dimension lumber, and old Mister Road-to-Damascus would have been getting a solid two-by-four upside the head.

Speaking of soccer and patriarchal religions, I finally got to watch the Portland Pilots-Brigham Young University women's match from last week.

The game was utterly one-sided. BYU is for real; those gals are solid from front to back, and UP is gonna have trouble making the NCAA Finals with this year's young squad.

But my real thought as I was watching the play was that "Cougars" is an utterly lame name for teams from a school named for a scarey Victorian theocrat with high double-digit wives. Cougars? When the heck was the last cougar exterminated from around Provo, anyway, something like 1888? And, besides, you and I both know that cougars are not what Utah and BYU are all about, right?

It's all about the Mormons, baby.
So. The BYU men's teams really need to play as something like the "Patriarchs". "The Mormon Battalion" would be fine, as well as historical. Or how about "The Sword of the Lord"? Can you imagine the headlines in the sports section: "Sword of the Lord slays Pepperdine"? "Sword of the Lord beheads St. Mary's"? "Sword of the Lord eviscerates Bulldogs"?

Fucking stone cold awesome.

Then the women's teams, seeing how the Mormon Church feels about women in churches and all, could play as the "Handmaidens" or maybe the "Helpmeets" or the "Yeah, We're The Ones Being Fucking Silent in the Churches, You Happy Now, Asshole?"

Either that or both should play as the "Jackmormons". Except I think there's already a band named that.

Whatever. But "Cougars"? Sorry. WAY lame.

And while we're on the subject of "White People That Colonized Places" along with "Lame Stuff In General" I note in passing that the annual Columbus Day contretemps reminds me of the thing about the Admiral of the Ocean Sea that drives me more wild than anything else; his math.

Because, you see, in order to sell his expedition to the Spanish Crown he had to make the idea of sailing west to reach Japan, China, and the East Indies plausible. The farrago about the world being flat in 1492? Bullshit. Learned people knew that as early as Eratosthenes a couple of thousand years before Greek (and Arabic) scientists had figured out that 1) the Earth was a globe, and 2) that it was about 20,000 miles around, give or take a Roman mile or three.

But our boy Chris had to know that short of a ginormous expedition that Reconquista Spain didn't have the cash, the naval technology, or the inclination to outfit a fleet to sail across some 7,000 or so miles of open ocean. And he had to know that even if they had that there was no way in Hell that Ferdinand and Isabella were going to equip some sketchy Italian adventurer with that sort of fleet.

So - through a combination of ignorance, wishful thinking, and plain damn stupidity, Columbus came up with a figure of about 16,000 miles for the equatorial circumference of the Earth and a completely ridiculous distance of 3,000 miles to Sumatra. Here's a good little summary of the sort of bone-headed mathematical and navigational errors that the cack-handed spaghetti-bender had to commit to manage that.

Samuel Eliot Morison wrote of Columbus: “His calculation is not logical, but Columbus’s mind was not logical. He knew he could make it, and the figures had to fit.” Morison seems to find that admirable. I find it as moronic as panic over a bunch of raggedy-assed Arab guerrillas or a West African disease.

But maybe that's just me.

Okay. Enough meandering. I'll leave you with a couple of images:

You sleep in public in this house at your peril. This is "Drachma the Merkitty"; the thing on his head is supposed to be one of those seashall-bra things that mermaids are supposed to wear, but it wouldn't fit over his head, so its a crown. Little guy didn't wake up during the whole dress-up process, so he was pranked for hours whilst he slept.

I tried to explain that this was Cruelty to Sleeping Pets, but the small people merely laughed and continued to prank the little possum. He was quite the surprised kitty when he woke up, too.

I should add that our housecats have a long tradition of that kind of thing. When Maxine was a toddler she would announce a cat-sighting with a noise we called her "cat-scream", a loud squawk that was Maxine-speak for "Aha! Strange furry creature unlike anything ever seen in my orphanage, I shall pat you now!" and would precede a round of violent head-slapping that was her version of "petting the cat".

The calico, Lily, was smart enough to grab a hat at the sound, but Nitty (a.k.a Few Kibbles Shy Of A Full Bowl) would hunker down on the principle of "if I make myself REALLY small she can't see me". Which worked about as well as you'd think it would.

And this: a mural from Honolulu. Naiad sporting with vicious aquatic pandas? Wahine frolicking in the surf with hairy racoon-like menehunes?

Your guess is as good as mine - I got nothin'. But I liked the image, so there you are.

I should really finish up my Panama stories. Soon. Promise.


Syrbal/Labrys said...

Wow, what a compendium! Yeah, don't get me started on Pauline religion and Mormons and such...the concern in the nor'west would be mouth-foaming rabies!

As for the ebola fearmongering after, as you and Lisa say, making medicine for those who can afford it? Here in the house where we like to image Death as Terry Pratchett's CAPITAL LETTER speaking figure, it brings more to mind of Edgar A. Poe: The Masque of Red Death stomping through the halls of the poor and un-doctored merely enroute to more entitled realms.

I fear my sympathy bone might be broken if and when that happens. Just desserts -- not made of angel food cake after all.

Big Daddy said...

Oops, sorry for forgetting your anniversary. I usually key off the Portland Marathon for the date and since I cancelled my subscription to the daily fishwrap I don't get a reminder. I still count that as one of the more memorable weddings I've been to, featuring taco truck catering, kilt, and face planting son.

Lisa said...

Yes, more Panama, please :)