Notes and Comment Blog

Our short and pithy observations on the passing scene as it relates to the mission of Butterflies and Wheels. Woolly-headed or razor-sharp comments in the media, anti-rationalist rhetoric in books or magazines or overheard on the bus, it’s all grist to our mill. And sometimes we will hold forth on the basis of no inspiration at all beyond what happens to occur to us.

Crazy dot dot dot

Aug 3rd, 2011 1:09 pm | By

[Update August 19. I've edited this, and I'm going to edit some of the comments. Very Orwellian; very memory-hole. Yes; too bad. I disagree with myself about much of this now, so I want to get rid of the worst of it, and thus the worst of the comments it triggered. I make mistakes. It happens.]

Sexist epithets. The subject keeps coming back. We think we’ve killed it and then it pops up again, undead. The disagreements of the past month have brought it back more robust than ever and fifty times as large.

Russell Blackford has astonished me by consistently brushing them aside as unimportant. I’m pretty sure that in one of the many epithet-discussions we’ve had here he told me he’d stopped using “bitch” because of what I and others had been saying. I seem to have lost my influence.

A lot of people whom I’d believed sensible are showing irrational streaks over this issue. E.g. it’s not that hard seeing what Watson did wrong – but some folks seem determined to protect her at all costs…

Likewise, we’ve been getting totally unnuanced discussions of insults like “twat”. I don’t actually like these, either,  as it happens, because I think there is at least tendency for them  to express and reproduce sexist attitudes …but not everything is the same, and it’s possible to tease out the distinctions analytically and dispassionately. (E.g. I’m far more worried about the use of “cunt” as an insult, because its primary meaning is still the female pudenda; whereas “twat” has lost that meaning to some considerable extent. I think that “fool” is now its *primary* meaning.)

Not here it isn’t. In the UK and Australia/New Zealand maybe, but not in the US – and even in the UK and Australia/New Zealand it hasn’t completely shed its misogynist aspect; not all women even there think it’s perfectly all right. I set off a discussion of the subject on the WMST list a year or so ago and there were a lot of emphatic comments from UK/Aus/NZ women saying hell no it’s not ok.

Anyway – this business of teasing out the distinctions analytically and dispassionately – that’s a lot easier for people who are not named by the epithets than it is for people who are. That is (I almost regret to say, at this point) a textbook example of privilege. When people throw around cunt and twat and fucking bitch and smelly snatch, they’re not naming Russell. They are naming me. I can be dispassionate and analytical about the (putative) distinctions under some circumstances, but not under all. I can’t do it when a mouthy woman is being called those things in public over and over and over and over again. I’m not dispassionate about that. I can’t be.

This week on Project Runway god makes it work

Aug 3rd, 2011 10:52 am | By

A Christian midwife is suing a hospital for making her wear trousers in the operating theatre…She cites a command in the Book of Deuteronomy that people should not wear clothing meant for the other gender.

Yes but even if you think that’s an acceptable reason for someone to refuse to follow a job requirement (and why would you think that?), what makes Hannah Adewole so sure that trousers have always been boy-clothing and skirts have always been girl-clothing? What makes anyone sure what clothing was “meant” for “the other gender”?

Nothing; it’s just that people associate the most prissy option in any particular situation with “what god has always meant” and pitch fits accordingly, by way of letting everyone know how pious they are and getting their names in the papers.

The Vatican reaches out

Aug 2nd, 2011 2:49 pm | By

Well good. Good good good. The Vatican is tired of being the eternal victim and is finally standing up for itself. What a relief – I’m so sick of watching people ride roughshod over it.

The papal nuncio is set to deliver a strong response to the Cloyne Report before the end of August, rebuffing the Taoiseach’s accusation the Vatican undermined child protection guidelines…

The Vatican has been exasperated by reports claiming Archbishop Leanza was being moved to Prague in the Czech Republic as a mark of his disfavour with his superiors in Rome.

I should think so! Poor Vatican, being talked about behind its back in that shameful way. If there’s anything the Vatican hates it’s gossip.

In its response, the Vatican will point out the  weakness of Irish state monitoring of child abuse. And it will insist that the Taoiseach’s comments failed to recognise the efforts of Pope Benedict XVI to ensure bishops comply with national laws.

The Government will also be told that the seal of the confession is

And that therefore priests and bishops have every right to ignore the law and do whatever they like, so children will just have to put up with it.

Down, peasant

Jul 31st, 2011 5:15 pm | By

Have you seen the Texas prayer day’s site? It explains about itself.

On August 6, the nation will come together at Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas for a solemn gathering of prayer and fasting for our country.

We believe that America is in a state of crisis. Not just politically, financially or morally, but because we are a nation that has not honored God in our successes or humbly called on Him in our struggles.

Why do they believe that? They don’t say. It’s a very stupid thing to believe. It takes a huge, complicated, arbitrary claim – America is in a state of crisis – and without even saying what is meant by it or listing the ingredients of it, it assigns a cause which is just gibberish.

Some bad things are happening in America. This is because “we are a nation that” hasn’t done a couple of things to or for or about an imaginary character. What do they mean “we are a nation that”? Plenty of people in the nation have indeed “honored God” for things they like and begged him for more things they like, so what do they mean about the nation? That the gummint hasn’t joined the people in honoring and begging? But parts of the gummint do that too. Maybe they mean it’s not unanimous, and that’s what itches them on the bum. But that’s very bossy of them. The whole idea is stupid, so they should be satisfied with the numbers they have and not go seeking after more.

Rick Perry, the governor of the deranged state of Texas, explains some more.

I sincerely hope you’ll join me in Houston on August 6th and take your place in Reliant Stadium with praying people asking God’s forgiveness, wisdom and provision for our state and nation. There is hope for America. It lies in heaven, and we will find it on our knees.

How does he know that? I don’t think he does…and I think telling people to get on their knees is disgusting.

The virtue of hmm

Jul 31st, 2011 4:33 pm | By

Hmm. Jason Rosenhouse did a post a few weeks ago saying what things he hates in writing. It pains me to say that I do some of them, and not seldom.

In fact one of them is “hmm,” which I use a lot, as you can see from the beginning of this post. I honestly typed it before remembering that it was one of the items…This is a “hmm” post, so there it appeared, as if by its own volition.

Sadly that’s the very first thing he mentions.

Starting a sentence with “Uhm” or “Hmmmm,” for example.  This is an especially common one among blog writers.  It’s a silly and cliched way of suggesting that your opponent has not merely made a weak argument, but has actually said something unhinged and foolish.  In the early days of blogs this might have been a clever way of achieving a conversational tone, but now it’s so overused it just makes the writer look ridiculous.

But…but…but that’s not always what it’s for. I use it that way sometimes – or rather, I use it sometimes to express mild skepticism, as opposed to full-throttle skepticism. But mostly I use it to mark thought; to mark uncertainty, and groping, and thinking things through as I go. I think that’s all right, if you don’t do it every other sentence.

Ending a sentence with “no,” (or, more rarely, ”yes.”)  It’s a miserable excrescence the rhetorical world would be better off without.  This is obvious, no?

I do that occasionally, I think. It’s just a variation, that’s all. It’s irritating if it’s all over the place, but in moderation? I keep wanting to umm or hmm so I’ll just stop, instead.

“To be sure” is another one I can live without.  As in, “To be sure, everything I have said to this point is a ridiculous oversimplification with little basis in facts, logic or evidence.”  It makes you look pompous and full of yourself, since considerable education is required before it feels natural to use such a vapid nonsense phrase.

Hey! Now that’s not fair. I use it as a kind of joke. It’s a bit 18th century, a bit Johnson or Austen (who was 18th century in many of her linguistic habits); I use it because I like the oddity of a whiff of the 18th century now and then. (I don’t mean I think about it that consciously. I include that phrase now and then, and that’s why – it has a faintly antiquated note that amuses me.)

That’s it; the others I have no problem with. I mean withal.

Debut of new blogging group

Jul 30th, 2011 4:19 pm | By

It’s Freethought blogs. There’s a Facebook post about it. It starts August 1. It will be “led by” (I’m not sure what that means) PZ Myers of Pharyngula and Ed Brayton of Dispatches from the Culture Wars. There will also be The Digital Cuttlefish, This Week in Christian Nationalism, and Zingularity.


Preying on the gullible and vulnerable

Jul 30th, 2011 4:00 pm | By

Update: A joker on Twitter pretending to be Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg thinks Edzard Ernst should be sent to the Tower. Why? Because Ernst said Prince Charles is a snake-oil salesman. Well he is! I guess saying that makes me fit for the Tower too, or would if I were a subject of the Crown, which I ain’t.

This week Ernst showed how little his critics have dented his confidence. At a press conference to mark his retirement he joined in the name-calling, agreeing with a Daily Mail reporter’s suggestion that the Prince of Wales is a “snake-oil salesman”.

Excuse me, that’s not name-calling – it’s the simple truth. The p of Wales sells a bogus “detox remedy”; he sells it for money. There’s no such thing as “detox” and if there were it wouldn’t be a dab of dandelion and a whiff of artichoke. It’s bogus and expensive; how is it “name-calling” to say he’s a snake-oil salesman?

“He’s a man, he owns a firm that sells this stuff, and I have no qualms at all defending the notion that a tincture of dandelion and artichoke [Duchy Herbals detox remedy] doesn’t do anything to detoxify your body and therefore it is a snake oil.” Far from regretting the choice of words and the controversy it has generated, he appears to relish it.

Goodness, how prissy. Yes Mr Posh and Privileged is flogging a silly hand-waving “remedy” to credulous people; he’s the one who should be regretting something, not Ernst for pointing it out.

it was a complaint from Prince Charles’s principal private secretary five years ago that nearly cost Ernst his job. The letter, sent by Sir Michael Peat in his capacity as chair of the Prince’s Foundation for Integrated Health, accused Ernst of violating a confidentiality agreement in relation to the publication of a report. Prince Charles denies having anything to do with the letter personally, and Ernst was cleared by a subsequent inquiry. But Ernst believes the power of the royal family has distorted public policy in relation to complementary medicine, and does not plan to let the subject drop.

Good. It’s an outrage, the royals using their archaic meaningless privilege to push homeopathy and “detox remedies.”

When in 2005 he was asked to comment on a report on the economic benefits of complementary medicine – commissioned by Prince Charles’s complementary health foundation, written by economist Christopher Smallwood and due to be delivered to government ministers – Ernst let rip.Sir Michael Peat’s letter of complaint was the result, and the investigation of his conduct which dragged on for 13 months.

They fight dirty, the royals.

He believes there is a “conflict of interest” for Prince Charles in using his public and charitable activities to promote complementary medicine, and making money from the “Duchy Herbals” range of remedies (Ernst calls them “Dodgy Originals”). The Foundation for Integrated Health was shut last year and its finance director jailed for theft.”I think it’s an abuse of power. It’s not his job to do that. He’s not a politician. He’s the king to be, and that is a very defined role, and it’s not to mingle in health, politics or anything else.

“He would probably argue he doesn’t make money from it, it all goes to good causes and so forth, but it’s still preying on the gullible and vulnerable. And it implies we can all overeat and over-drink and live unhealthy lives and take a few detox tablets and everything is right again. That’s not true.”

He likes the queen though.

Chris Hedges is still frothing at the mouth

Jul 29th, 2011 4:12 pm | By

Chris Hedges is as nasty as ever. It’s a wonder he has any spittle left, he’s expended so much of it on people he hates.

The gravest threat we face from terrorism, as the killings in Norway by Anders Behring Breivik underscore, comes not from the Islamic world but the radical Christian right and the secular fundamentalists who propagate the bigoted, hateful caricatures of observant Muslims and those defined as our internal enemies. The caricature and fear are spread as diligently by the Christian right as they are by atheists such as Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens. Our religious and secular fundamentalists all peddle the same racist filth and intolerance that infected Breivik. This filth has poisoned and degraded our civil discourse. The looming economic and environmental collapse will provide sparks and tinder to transform this coarse language of fundamentalist hatred into, I fear, the murderous rampages experienced by Norway.

Hitchens and Harris peddle racist filth, says Hedges mildly. Really? No, but that’s ok, Hedges writes for Truthdig, so he can’t be just making it up out of his own bile and bad-tempered mendacity.

Our secular and religious fundamentalists come out of this twisted yearning for the apocalypse and belief in the “chosen people.” They advocate, in the language of religion and scientific rationalism, the divine right of our domination, the clash of civilizations. They assure us that we are headed into the broad, uplifting world of universal democracy and a global free market once we sign on for the subjugation and extermination of those who oppose us. They insist—as the fascists and the communists did—that this call for a new world is based on reason, factual evidence and science or divine will.

No they don’t; no they don’t; no they don’t; no they don’t.

All fundamentalists, religious and secular, are ignoramuses. They follow the lines of least resistance. They already know what is true and what is untrue. They do not need to challenge their own beliefs or investigate the beliefs of others. They do not need to bother with the hard and laborious work of religious, linguistic, historical and cultural understanding. They do not need to engage in self-criticism or self-reflection. It spoils the game. It ruins the entertainment. They see all people, and especially themselves, as clearly and starkly defined.

Unlike Chris Hedges, who does such a brilliant job of seeing people as complicated and various and difficult to pin down, not to mention his genius for self-criticism and self-reflection.

Claiming to speak for

Jul 28th, 2011 10:30 am | By

One strange meme that has turned up in the recent wars is the idea that feminists are “claiming to speak for all women” and that that’s why feminism is so bad and awful.

That’s a ridiculous claim. All political and moral views do that; they all say this is better than that, and not just for me but for everyone in whatever the relevant group is, from the neighborhood to the species. Feminism has always made large claims about what women should be and do, and it has never had unanimous agreement from all women. Of course in some sense feminism claims to speak for all women, but it’s not unique or weird in doing that.

Feminism has never meant “whatever all women agree on” or whatever the majority of women agree on. It’s never meant agreeing with all women because they’re women. It’s always been demanding – it’s always urged women to be more than they currently are, which is guaranteed to be annoying and irksome. Reformist movements are like that.

The recent disturbance has triggered an astonishing amount of sneering and jeering at feminism and feminists, so much so that it has created a glaring example of the very problem it’s busy denying and sneering at: the sense that women are alien to “the atheist movement.”


Jul 27th, 2011 5:08 pm | By

The church in Australia is also saying how sorry it is. Sorry sorry sorry. Oh dear, so sorry. It doesn’t know what came over it. It was a moment of carelessness that lasted for decades. It’s terribly sorry, unless anyone can think of a way it can dodge culpability of course, in which case it isn’t.

It is believed at least 150,000 Australian women had their babies taken
against their will by some churches and adoption agencies between the 1950s and 1970s.

Think about that for a minute. A period of thirty years, in which the church yanked away the babies of 150,000 women.

But hey, the church is sorry. Maybe.

Oh look, an escape hatch

Jul 27th, 2011 4:47 pm | By

The Vatican feels really really really really bad about what its priests did in Ireland. Really it does. It’s so so so so so sorry. It’s wounded to the core; it’s devastated; it’s super-upset; it’s crying into its pillow every night; it can hardly eat.


What if it can say that what Catholic priests do is nothing to do with it?

Ah. Well in that case, it feels perfectly fine, because after all, it didn’t do anything. Yay!

Victims of sexual abuse by priests will no longer be able to sue the Catholic church for damages if a landmark judgment rules that priests should not be considered as employees.

In a little publicised case heard this month at the high court, the church claimed that it is not “vicariously liable” for priests’ actions. The church has employed the argument in the past but this was the first time it had been used in open court and a ruling in the church’s favour would set a legal precedent.

The use of the defence raises further questions about the church’s willingness to accept culpability for abuse.

Well yes, it does, rather, but be fair – you can’t expect the church to accept culpability for abuse if there’s some way they can wriggle out of it do you?

That would be silly.

Cross at the crosswalk

Jul 26th, 2011 4:05 pm | By

Transportation for America has Raquel Nelson on the Today show yesterday. It’s very hard to watch, but worth watching. She’s impressive, and obviously not just some giddy irresponsible parent dragging her children into traffic because she can’t be bothered to walk down the block to the intersection.

It also has a guy called Ken Edelstein of Green Building Chronicle in Atlanta showing us the bus stop, the street, how far away the intersection with traffic lights is, how obvious it is that the bus stop is there for the apartment complex, how people who live there never go to the intersection to cross, how like a highway the street is, how heavy the traffic is and how fast it goes, and, above all, how infuriatingly tiny the strip of concrete in the middle is. I don’t have a car; I use public transportation; I’ve crossed busy suburban roads and stood on strips of concrete between two rivers of traffic hoping no bits of me were sticking out as the cars flashed past. I thought of standing on that thing with shopping bags hanging off my arms and three children – not because I wanted to but because it was getting dark and walking back from that distant intersection in the dark would also be dangerous – and I shuddered.

It’s an insult. It’s as if human beings are trespassing on the property of automobiles. It’s as if human beings are worms and cars are gods.

By way of more insult, Cobb County transport put a big sign in the bus shelter saying CCT Cares – oh right! – and be safe and cross at the crosswalk. Cross at what crosswalk?! There is no fucking crosswalk! “Cross at the crosswalk five miles from here.” What the hell is the point of that? People need buses to take them where they’re going, not 3/10 of a mile down the road and then 3/10 of a mile back up the other side.

It makes me angry. It’s typically American and brutal and it makes me angry.

Green Building Chronicle thinks just maybe CCT will be sued.

Trying to survive in Bachmann’s district

Jul 26th, 2011 12:17 pm | By

How ugly.

Over the past two years, a total of nine teenagers have committed suicide in a Minnesota school district represented by Rep. Michele Bachmann—the latest in May—and many more students have attempted to take their lives. State public health officials have labeled the area a “suicide contagion area” because of the unusually high death rate.

Some of the victims were gay, or perceived to be by their classmates, and many were reportedly bullied. And the anti-gay activists who are some of the congresswoman’s closest allies stand accused of blocking an effective response to the crisis and fostering a climate of intolerance that allowed bullying to flourish.

Teachers and counselors in the district, as well as civil rights activists, say that Bachmann’s closest allies like the MFC have helped create a vitriolic climate in the wake of the teen suicides in the Anoka-Hennepin area that may have hampered the community’s ability to effectively address what was, at root, a serious mental health crisis. Following the deaths and the publicity about bullying and anti-gay sentiments, the school district became inflamed with nasty infighting over whether promoting anti-bullying efforts was simply a cover for advancing the homosexual agenda in schools.

That seems to be what the extra-pious are good at – coming up with pointless reasons to treat some people as Evil-Other and then persecute them.

The anti-gay climate in the schools in Bachmann’s district has been so extreme that it has attracted the attention of the Justice Department and the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights, which are both investigating allegations of anti-gay bullying.

Ugly. Cruel. Pointless. Reasonless.

Fun with names

Jul 25th, 2011 12:28 pm | By

How to get more traffic on your blog…write about elevator guy. Ha! That’s a good one. That’s a real thigh-slapper.

Steve Caldwell makes a different suggestion.

Apparently, the secret for a successful website (aka “blog”) is misspelling a person’s last name so the misspelled name includes a slang term for female genitalia.

That will get one over 1240 comments …

Quite, with the addendum that as of this moment the count is 1283. What fun all this would have been if Watson had had a couple of confederates, Rachel Unt and Rosalind Ussy. But then again what if the confederates had been named Rachel Igger and Rosalind Pade? Would the count have been higher, or lower, or the same?

Let them eat bus transfers

Jul 25th, 2011 11:53 am | By

Punishing people for not having a car. Prosecuting people for not driving. Teaching a lesson to pedestrians and bus-takers.

Nelson, 30 and African-American, was convicted on the charge this week by six jurors who were not her peers: All were middle-class whites, and none had ever taken a bus in metro Atlanta. In other words, none had ever been in Nelson’s shoes:

They had never taken two buses to go grocery shopping at Wal-Mart with three kids in tow. They had never missed a transfer on the way home that caused them to wait a full hour-and-a-half with tired and hungry kids for the next bus. They had never been let off at a bus stop on a five-lane speedway, with their apartment in sight across the road, and been asked to drag those three little ones an additional half-mile-plus down the road to the nearest traffic signal and back in order to get home at last.

They apparently operate on the assumption that responsible people have cars and people who don’t have cars are irresponsible and reckless.

Why is this familiar?

Because we saw the same damn thing just before and during and after Hurricane Katrina. I remember it vividly – that Sunday afternoon, the day before Katrina hit, the news was full of warnings about the hurricane and officials saying urgently, “Everyone get in your cars immediately and get out of New Orleans”…with no mention of what people who didn’t have cars were supposed to do. I remember fuming and ranting about that on Sunday; fuming and ranting that nobody in charge even seemed to have formed the idea that some people actually don’t own cars and that perhaps they should not just be abandoned to drown. I ranted and fumed a lot more in the days that followed, as lots of people fumed and ranted about the reckless irresponsible fools who stayed in New Orleans, overlooking the fact that most of them had no way to get out.

What about the highway designers, traffic engineers, transit planners and land use regulators who allowed a bus stop to be placed so far from a signal and made no other provision for a safe crossing; who allowed – even encouraged, with wide, straight lanes – prevailing speeds of 50-plus on a road flanked by houses and apartments; who carved a fifth lane out of a wider median that could have provided more of a safe refuge for pedestrians; who designed the entire landscape to be hostile to people trying to get to work and groceries despite having no access to a car?

What indeed.

Let’s send all the victims to jail! That’ll teach them

Jul 24th, 2011 2:50 pm | By


On April 10, 2010, Raquel Nelson lost her 4-year-old son. Nelson was crossing a busy Marietta, Georgia, street with her son and his two siblings when they were struck by a hit-and-run driver. Police were able to track down the driver, Jerry Guy, who later admitted he had been drinking and had taken painkillers the night of the accident. He was also mostly blind in one eye.  Guy had already been convicted of two prior hit-and-runs. He pleaded guilty, served six months of his five-year sentence, and was released last October.

…Last week Nelson herself was convicted on three charges related to her son’s death: reckless conduct, improperly crossing a roadway and second-degree homicide by vehicle. Each is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 12 months in prison. Nelson could spend up to six times as many months in jail as the man who struck her son and then fled the scene. Nelson’s crime: jaywalking.

“Jaywalking” – because the bus stop is on the other side of a busy street from Nelson’s apartment building, and there is no crosswalk nearby, so people who get off the bus at that stop cross outside a crosswalk, in other words they “jaywalk.”

And then they get prosecuted for it, and convicted (by people who never take the bus). The rich hate the poor; whites hate blacks; everybody hates women.


There’s a petition you can sign if you want to. It asks the judge not to send Nelson to jail.

Rebecca gives some helpful advice

Jul 23rd, 2011 3:35 pm | By

Seen Rebecca’s dating advice? I think it’s pretty damn funny, and apposite. More apposite than I’d like it to be.

I don’t exactly see myself on either “team,” to the extent that there are two “teams.” I don’t think absolutely every single thing said and done on either side is 100% correct and perfect and right, so I’m not really on either “team” if that’s what it takes. But I don’t suppose anybody on either “team” really thinks either “team” is 100% correct and perfect and right any more than I do, so maybe that’s not what it takes.

At any rate I’m not on any team that calls Rebecca “Twatson” or thinks that her dating advice is a reason to declare that she’s a fucking bitch. And I think her dating advice is funny.

Someone did a transcript there, so I’ll give you a couple of highlights in case you don’t have time to watch it right now.

And I just wanted to, ah, to address some of the questions you’ve all had.  Um, I don’t really have a lot of time right now, but I thought I would just address the one BIG question, (serious look) the one that I keep seeing over and over and over again.  Which is something along these lines:  “I’m a man, and I don’t see, uh, the PROBLEM, in cornering a woman in an elevator and inviting her back to my room, despite the fact that she said she’s tired and going to bed, despite the fact that she said she didn’t want to be hit on (shrug) and, despite the fact that I’ve never talked to her before;  I don’t see a problem with the situation.  So if you say I can’t do THAT, then, HOW can I possibly get laid?”

And (headshake) the answer to that, is that… you probably can’t.  (wry look)  You probably can’t get laid.  Because, I think most normal people see that situation, and they realize “Oh okay, yeah, that’s not an appropriate time to, uh, ask a woman to come back to my hotel room.”  And those of you who didn’t see that right away, y’know, there’s another subset of normal people, who said “Oh, well, it didn’t occur to me that that would be seen as creepy or weird or undesirable.  So thank you for pointing it out; I will not do that in the future.”  So y’know, most normal people get that, and they can then go forward and flirt with members of the opposite sex in a normal manner that may or may not result in sex for them.

But y’know, those of you who are asking that question obviously can’t do that.  So, I would recommend that you look at OTHER ways to maybe get your rocks off.  Like, I dunno, maybe one of those dolls?   They, they sell those… (indicates vague shape, wry-faced)  They’re kind of expensive I think, I dunno, I’ve never priced one myself, but I’ve seen a documentary on it, and they’re really… They’re LIFELIKE, but… their mouths are only used for sucking (pinchy hand gesture and chuckle)  y’know, so no worries about them… very calmly… giving you advice on how to approach a woman or how not to approach a woman.

When I was a zookeeper, I had a folksy supervisor who hailed from Oklahoma. One day he remarked apropos of I forget what, “I have the kind of luck that if somebody cut a woman in half and gave me half, I’d get the half that talks.” Rebecca’s joke is kind of like that…except that hers is funny. Her delivery is funny, too. She’s good at the wry deadpan thing.

Y’know, the point of me uploading the video previously wasn’t necessarily to GIVE sex advice, but to give advice on how we, as a community, might go about making our community a more inviting one to women.  But, a lot of you just have no interest in that (headshake)… you just wanted the sex advice.  So there it is, my advice to you is to buy one of those really expensive dolls, and… fuck that!  (smile)  So I hope that helps.  Thank you again to everybody who’s commented.  I haven’t really read any of them, in the past, uh, few weeks, but hey!  Keep it up, because you seem to… You seem to really enjoy it.  (warm smile) So, thanks.

Judith Martin herself couldn’t have done it better.

Starve the beast

Jul 22nd, 2011 4:41 pm | By

How to do gummint.

In the world according to ALEC, competing firms in free markets are the only real source of social efficiency and wealth. Government contributes nothing but security. Outside of this function, it should be demonized, starved or privatized. Any force in civil society, especially labor, that contests the right of business to grab all social surplus for itself, and to treat people like roadkill and the earth like a sewer, should be crushed.

Because, the national chairman of ALEC explained on Fresh Air yesterday, creating jobs isn’t the job of government; corporations are the ones that create jobs.

O rilly? I thought what corporations did was cut jobs as much as they possibly could without cutting production. I thought the job of corporations was not to create jobs but to make lotsa money for the shareholders. I thought one favored way of doing this was cutting labor costs. Jobs are all very well, but if they don’t pay anything, they tend to be more trouble than they’re worth. (I should know; I don’t get paid anything; but then I don’t call what I “do” a “job.”)

Well anyway. The Republican are determined to push us all off a cliff, so none of it matters. In a couple of weeks everybody except the very rich will be penniless. Whatevs.

To write business-friendly legislation

Jul 22nd, 2011 3:58 pm | By

How cozy.

ALEC is a critical arm of the right-wing network of policy shops that, with infusions of corporate cash, has evolved to shape American politics…ALEC’s model legislation reflects long-term goals: downsizing government, removing regulations on corporations and making it harder to hold the economically and politically powerful to account. Corporate donors retain veto power over the language, which is developed by the secretive task forces. The task forces cover issues from education to health policy. ALEC’s priorities for the 2011 session included bills to privatize education, break unions, deregulate major industries, pass voter ID laws and more.

Corporations “helping” state legislators to craft legislation, in short. What a fantastic arrangement.

“Dozens of corporations are investing millions of dollars a year to write business-friendly legislation that is being made into law in statehouses coast to coast, with no regard for the public interest,” says Bob Edgar of Common Cause. “This is proof positive of the depth and scope of the corporate reach into our democratic processes.”

Check out ALEC exposed, and grind your teeth.

Ireland wakes up

Jul 21st, 2011 4:36 pm | By

The Taoiseach lets fly:

…for the first time in this country a report on child sexual abuse exposes an attempt by the Holy See to frustrate an inquiry in a sovereign, democratic republic as little as three years ago, not three decades ago.  In doing so the report excavates the dysfunction, disconnection and elitism that dominates the culture of the Vatican to this day.  The rape and torture of children were down-played or managed to uphold the primacy of the institution, its power, standing and reputation.  Far from listening to evidence of humiliation and betrayal with St. Benedict’s “ear of the heart”, the Vatican’s reaction was to parse and analyse it with the gimlet eye of a Canon lawyer.

Music. And there’s more.

Clericalism has rendered some of Ireland’s brightest and most privileged and powerful men either unwilling or unable to address the horrors cited in the Ryan and Murphy reports.  This Roman clericalism must be devastating for good priests, some of them old, others struggling to keep their humanity, even their sanity, as they work hard to be the keepers of the church’s light and goodness within their parishes, communities and the condition of the human heart.  Thankfully for them and us, this is not Rome.  Nor is it industrial school or Magdalene Ireland, where the swish of a soutane, smothered conscience and humanity and the swing of a thurible ruled the Irish Catholic world.  This is the Republic of Ireland in 2011.  It is a republic of laws, rights and responsibilities and proper civic order where the delinquency and arrogance of a particular version of a particular kind of morality will no longer be tolerated or ignored.

Later on, Deputy Dara Calleary speaks up:

It is exactly one week since the publication of the report by the Government and the Vatican has yet to issue a formal response.  Its only response was through a spokesman this morning who, in a personal capacity, said there was noting in the advice given by the nuncio in 1997 to encourage bishops to break Irish laws.  He said the Vatican’s advice on child protection policies could not be interpreted as an invitation to cover up abuse.  Does the Vatican take us, the people of Ireland, for fools?

This is the most damning line.  There is no indication of any concern on the part of Vatican for the children who were abused.  While the Vatican authorities might not have encouraged bishops to break the laws, they encouraged them to put the reputation of the church before the protection of children.  They were more worried about embarrassment than the damage of abuse.  In how many other dioceses did the Vatican interfere in the manner it did in Cloyne?

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin:

How many inquiries do we have to go through before real action is taken on this dreadful neglect?

The Papal Nuncio refused to answer queries from a commission of inquiry and claimed diplomatic immunity.  The same Papal Nuncio still has the role of issuing Vatican instructions to the bishops in this country.  I expect that if a school system operated and directly controlled by a third party state in Ireland consistently failed to report allegations of child sexual abuse against its teachers and ancillary employees to the Garda, that state’s ambassador would be required to answer questions.  If he or she failed to do so, he or she would be asked to leave.  The church is not above the law and it is high time it stopped thinking it was.  Fr. Federico Lombardi may claim his recent remarks were made in a personal capacity, but this is the disingenuous double-speak that must come to an end.

Bishop John Magee had no interest in protecting the children of Cloyne and fobbed off his responsibility to Monsignor Denis O’Callaghan who equally had no interest in reporting the abuse of children to the authorities.  Bishop John Magee actively and knowingly lied to the Government, the health service and the Garda.  He concealed information on the crimes committed by the priests in his diocese.  He actively engaged in the reckless and, at times, wilful endangerment of children.

And there’s much more. It’s good reading.