Sunday, February 8, 2015

A Tiny Little Story, just for chuckles.

A Union Man

I understand the birds are forming a union around the feeder in my backyard. Avian Union International, Backyard Chapter, Local 803. I only came to that realization when they sent their union rep to speak with me. He was wearing an iridescent suit, real gangster style, and his bearing suggested he could handle himself.

He said I could call him Mr. Starling. I just nodded.

He spoke just above a whisper which forced me to lean in. Then, with thinly veiled menace, he suggested that ,when purchasing my next bag, I might wish to consider the fancy seed. I don’t know what gave me away but he soon made it clear that I shouldn’t even consider "being the cheap-fucker I know you are”. That stung but I figured maybe it was one of those, discretion is the better part of valor moments. I let it slide.

Apparently at this point he thought it would be helpful to fill in some of the blanks. He told me the others had chosen him because of his “chill, laid back nature and strong negotiating skills". He explained, “This is a lucky thing f’you. Da'restadem were just itching to go all Hitchcock on y’r ass”. 

That seemed a bit much and I made a move towards him, as if to shoo him away. He didn't even flinch and responded with a look I can only describe as the embodiment of “Bitch, please! It had occurred to you that I can fly, right?” Then he cocked his head to his right, drawing my attention to the murder of crows who eyed our discussion from a low branch nearby. I admit it galled me that the lot of them didn’t weigh five pounds. Still, they had a thuggish look about them and any thought of defiance drained straight away. 

I gathered by the way he ruffled his feathers, Mr. Starling had a couple of other things on his wish list. I briefly considered dashing for the kitchen door but decided it would only delay the inevitable. So I sat fiddling with my coffee cup.

He offered faint praise on the installation of the bird bath but added with a cocked head and a DeNiro-like shrug, “It’s fuckin’ winta here”. I took the hint and added a water warmer next to fancy bird seed on my mental shopping list.

The only other substantive issue was the transparency/reflectivity of the glass windows on my house. Apparently a few of the dimmer bulbs among their numbers had some ongoing problems. Chief among these were failing to notice the windows while in flight, which I conceded could ruin your day. After a brief back and forth, we concluded this was one of those, problem-noticed-and problem-immediately-solved deals. “Usually with a broken neck”, I said, looking for approval.  Mr. Starling nodded obligingly.

Also a few of the robins, upon seeing their own reflections, would incorrectly infer they were facing territorial rivals. This resulted in much energy being needlessly expended trying to peck the shit out of an imaginary foe. In the end we both agreed that this was funny as shit at some level. I bravely stuck to my guns on this matter and insisted the windows would remain unchanged.

Emboldened by my little victory, I queried the union rep about his bravado. He looked at me as though I were mentally challenged. I gazed back in a manner that apparently removed all doubt from his mind. Then he explained that, despite our species bias and overall hubris, our kind was ultimately the more vulnerable. He proudly stated that while I was descended from a small rodent-like creature, his kind were directly descended from “fuckin’ dinosaurs”. Seeing the deflated look on my face, he shook back his suit, wagged his head, and gave me a pitying look.

“Ay, fuggetaboudit. That’s just the luck of the draw, kid. But don’t you worry. We don’t peck the hand that feeds us. In fact, just between you, me, and your cheesy lawn furniture, we run the protection racket around here. So, ya’see, as long as you make your payments, we’ve gotcha back. “All you gotta do is pay attention for our calls and you’ll know when predators are in the area. 

Prior to that moment, I had never stopped to consider whether a bird could sneer or how you’d know if he had. Mr. Starling helped me to flesh out that thought.

“Other predators, that is”, he snickered.

“You follow?”

I tried to respond but only a mousy squeak came out. After clearing my throat, I managed, “Sure, I follow”. But he already had his back to me and was heading toward his group.

Then he paused and turned his head around one-eighty in the way birds do. He stared straight at me with his body facing in the opposite direction. Though I’d seen this many times before, this time it felt intimidating even before he spoke. 

He paused to make sure he had my attention and finally said, “Let’s not have any more trouble, hah? I’d hate to see anything happen to the paint job on that new car, you follow?”

Monday, January 19, 2015

Those who live by the sword

What would the barbarian do? One choice was to reexamine the often brutal ways in which they treat their fellow human beings. The other choice was to arrest the person who made and presumably shared a video of the authorities brutally beheading a person.

Regarding this story:
Barbarians doing what Barbarians do...

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Human Rights

Religion isn't a person. It is a set of ideas in a book. It doesn't have rights. It doesn't have emotions. It doesn't have a family or children. Those cartoonists were living, breathing human beings. They had rights, emotions, and families. Which of these deserves your respect?

The article linked below was written by a Pakastani-born author. That shouldn't matter but I thought I'd mention it for those who've been terrorized by the notion that any criticism of Islam is tantamount to Islamophobia. The author currently resides in Canada, and I leave it to the reader to determine why that was a healthy choice on his part.

how terrorism won

Friday, January 9, 2015

Thoughts are the most dangerous things

Please read: wife-of-jailed-saudi-blogger-my-husband-is-a-victim-of-the-thought-police.html

Saudi Arabia is one of our closest allies in the middle east. I can't help wonder what might happen in these situations if things were different. What would it be like if there was a very powerful country that was perceived to have a deep well of untainted moral authority from which to draw? Those who love compassion and justice might look to such a noble land for guidance and leadership. A few words of scorn from this country, added to the cries of decent people everywhere, may well turn the tide in cases of barbarism and injustice. I know, I'm such a dreamer. Perhaps I need to just snap out of it.


I am not certain for whom I should be more afraid, Saudi liberals/secularists or Americans. I think this is a good moment to mention a couple of facts. Christianity is by far the dominant religion in this country and its believers own most of everything and control most of everything. Therefore claims by Fox news and others that Christianity is under attack and hanging by a thread, are laughable. Here is the more troubling part. Right-wing religiously motivated Christian Conservatives are ever attempting to swing the legal pendulum of our country to a more religious based system. That is not a claim made by me. That is their claim. Any number of these folks have openly stated they would prefer something more like a theocracy here. Consider this, if I said the new congress was quietly trying to inch us toward Sharia law, it would be easy to imagine huge protests. When I say that our elected leaders, federal and state, have flatly stated that they are boldly trying to move us toward the Christian version of religious law, what happens then? 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

What's the difference?

What could possibly cause one graphic to inspire me and one graphic to leave me wondering whether my fellow Liberals/Progressives/Leftists are practicing their critical thinking skills? Take one moment to consider these banners before reading on, assuming you haven't yet decided to bail.

I am bound to ask what I don't hear others asking. What does being gay or being a parent have to do with opposing bullying?

When I see these messages and similar ones all over the internet and in the real world, I feel ambiguous at best. Sure, on one hand I am heartened to see that compassionate folks are standing against bad behavior. Also, I am dismayed by the unintended bright lines we are drawing around ourselves. The nationalistic lines (I'm an American or other). The smaller lines (I'm gay or black or Aspergers or Hispanic or feminist, and so on. I have been troubled by this for some time and this is as good a day as any to say, "I quit". I am done compartmentalizing my definition of myself and my support of fellow humans. I know it is popular and politically correct to say things like, "I'm a feminist" or "I'm an ally" (referencing LGBT issues) but I'm done.

I have decided that I can't make sense of a world, nor feel hopeful for a world, in which different sub-groups feel obliged to boldly state that they are banding together against bullying. What does that mean? Are there behaviors that are clearly good for people but about which we will not join hands? Will every group need a special banner or a T-shirt for every other positive thing upon which we agree or negative thing we oppose? How far down that path do we find ourselves now? This suggests that we are so parochial and clannish that we might well abandon hope for the united (or, at minimum,  more united) pursuit of betterment. I can't prove this isn't our nature, I simply decide not to feed it.

What would it be like if we imagined ourselves as members of the same team? While I respect a person's right to see themselves as a proud homosexual/parent/etc., I am a human, which is all I need to be to oppose bullying. As a human and a proud Humanist, I oppose the factionalizing of people. I suggest that long history shows factionalizing  people tends to produce more tension and discrimination and contention, not less. Essentially, bullying (as well as other forms of bad behavior) are not bad because they are anti-trans or anti-parent or anti-gay. Bad behavior is bad because it is counter to the well being of our fellow humans.

I am a Humanist. Period.

Okay, if aliens land tomorrow and they are not human, I may need to expand my definition in light of new information. Though it doesn't roll off the tongue, I may need to become a Sentientist (?).

Though I do not usually ask this, please like or share or whatever if you follow my point.
As always, feel free to speak in calm opposition to, or contend cantankerously with, that which you feel is poorly considered, baffling, or flatly wrong.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Somebody get me a bigger rat trap!

Suggested reading:
Regarding Climate Change and firewalls agains corporate interests

I am clearly and unambiguously in favor of the purpose/intent. However, it does beg the question, do those corporate players need to be physically sitting at the negociating table in order to effect the outcome? In short, is it possible to construct effective firewalls? Here is my initial supposition. The policy makers of individual governments and international organizations may already be owned/beholding to/subsidized by these very corporate entities. Further, the inaction or insufficient action in the face of clear and convincing evidence by our best thinkers, suggests that the game is rigged from the outset. It is difficult for us to see clearly in part because we are all enmeshed in this Capitalistic game directly (through our dependence on jobs it provides) or subtly (through avenues like the stock market and the return on investment it provides). I sadly suggest that, no matter how inescapably correct or even noble our efforts, the tendency to rapacious profiteering is woven into the fabric of this beast. I offer into evidence the following. One of the bastions of American style Capitalism, Forbes Magazine, carried this headline refering to corporations:The Disturbing Link Between Psychopathy And Leadership. My advice, read it but, as with any other horror story, not before bed.

So, do I have a bigger point or am I merely expressing a nihilistic rhetoric? A reasonable query. For the moment I will answer this way. I have stake in the outcome. How this turns out effects my children and grand children. I am not served by hysteria, histrionics, or maudlin belly-button gazing. It behooves me to put on my best thinking cap. Arguably problems are more likely solved following an unflinching examination. This is generally understood to lead us to the best questions which, in turn, lead to the best answers.

So, I challenge those who read this. For the sake of argument, assume what I have said is true. Now, starting with the assumption that doing nothing is not an option, ask yourself, What course of action is most consistent with the premise? I have an idea or two but I would not think to rob you of the opportunity to work through the puzzle for yourself. I will give it a few days after which I will share my inferences.