Thoughts of a Catholic convert

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Tuesday, November 21, 2017

We need some music

Women as meat puppets

In the news, the continuing allegations of sexual misconduct by so many ... TV personality Charlie Rose, Democratic Congressman John Conyers, NYT correspondent Glenn Thrush, Hollywood director Brett Ratner, etc.

If nothing else, this shows how widespread sexual misconduct by men against women is in society ... for every famous person named, we can be sure there are so many more instances of this among the general population. Perhaps new laws will come into effect because of this that will make it easier to speak up and to hold perpetrators accountable. But what troubles me is the cause of men treating women this way = the way men think about women. I don't know how easy that is going to be to change ... it's hundreds if not thousands of years in the making ... and if that doesn't change, the behavior will continue.

From The Atlantic: Al Franken, That Photo, and Trusting the Women

[...] Aristotle—he of the “women are mutilated men” conviction—believed enthusiastically that women’s inferior bodies accounted for women’s inferior minds, and that this led, in turn, to a capacity for deception. (“Wherefore women are more compassionate and more readily made to weep,” he declared, they are also “more jealous and querulous” than men. “The female,” he continued, “also is more subject to depression of spirits and despair than the male. She is also more shameless and false … than the male.”) The Greek physician-philosopher Galen of Pergamon refined that idea in his Complexion theory—complexion in this case having less to do with the skin and more to do with the balance of the “humors”: the hot, the cold, the dry, and the wet, as anatomical approximations of earth, wind, fire, and water. Women were colder and wetter than men; this anatomical reality made them more apt to manipulate and deceive. As one summary of the matter put it: “Aristotle and Hellenistic medicine attributed woman’s fickle attitudes, immorality, and insatiable sensory appetite to biology—excessive moisture. She’s too soggy.”

The ideas trickled down, as so many ancient assumptions did, through the centuries. (“I have heard of your paintings too, well enough,” Hamlet glowers to Ophelia, and really to all women. “God has given you one face and you make yourselves another.”) Eve tempted; Delilah betrayed; Jezebel deceived; Cassandra told truths that were assumed to be lies. Calypso beguiled Odysseus—himself a master manipulator—into her island cavern not with her home-decorating skills, but with that standby of gendered scapegoatery: feminine wiles. Men and women, the ancients assumed through their literature, are at odds with one another; women, generally lacking economic or political power, exert themselves through manipulations. Lysistrata is a comedy; it is also, in that sense, an insight.

On the one hand, of course, men lie too. Yet the expectation has been that they lie as an exception while women lie as a rule. Notions of honor and honesty—“Honest Abe,” Washington’s cherry tree—have been construed over time as specifically male aspirations. (The words testimony and testify, one theory goes, are rooted in the fact that the men of ancient Rome, as a gesture of trustworthiness and truth-telling, cupped their testicles.) Women, on the other hand, the mythologies have gone, use their body to manipulate and cajole and entrance: Calypso’s “cavern,” of course, is a metaphor. So is Eve’s apple. As the author Dallas G. Denery II put it in 2015’s The Devil Wins: A History of Lying From the Garden of Eden to the Enlightenment: “Over 1,200 years of endlessly repeated authority transmitted in the form of religious doctrine, natural philosophy, and stories, poems and plays, jokes and anecdotes” framed women as men’s natural adversaries. And women have done their fighting, the long-running story has insisted, though seductions of both body and psyche: “sweet words, fallacious arguments, tears, and exposed breasts.”

It’s an ancient idea that has extended to the modern-day United States (as, of course, to many other places). Notions of “hysteria.” Dismissals of women’s anger as at once irrational and manipulative. Fear of—and interest in—witches and their crafts: “And I’ve got no defense for it / The heat is too intense for it / What good would common sense for it do?” And it has lived on, in even more recent times, in the protestations of GamerGate, and the plot of Gone Girl, and the title of Pretty Little Liars, and the trope of the gold digger, and the notion of the femme fatale, and the paradigm of “the Madonna and the whore,” and the racist logic of the “welfare queen.” It’s in every lyric of “Blurred Lines”—and every “but look how she dresses” rebuttal, and every “if true” dismissal. As Soraya Chemaly, writing for HuffPost in 2014, put it: “If she expresses herself in a combative way in response to a hectoring lawyer or reporter, she is going to be disliked. If she is silent, she will be distrusted. If she talks too much, she is thought to be making stories up. If she is a woman of color, well, all of that on steroids plus some.”

And around it goes ......

Saturday, November 18, 2017


The latest tv series I've been trying out is Salvation ... an American suspense drama television series, that premiered on July 12, 2017 .... The show centers on the ramifications of the discovery of an asteroid that will impact the Earth in just six months and the attempts to prevent it.

I've only watched the first episode but it seems fun so far :) The old 'asteroid hitting the Earth' plot is certainly not new ... remember Deep Impact and Armageddon? I find these shows pretty scary, given the plausibility of near-Earth objects striking the planet.

Friday, November 17, 2017

More on the elephants

From the PBS NewsHour tonight ...

Senate tax bill

Senate tax bill would cut taxes of wealthy and increase taxes on families earning less than $75,000 by 2027

The tax bill Senate Republicans are championing would give large tax cuts to the rich while raising taxes on American families earning $10,000 to $75,000 over the next decade, according to a report released Thursday by the Joint Committee on Taxation, Congress’s official nonpartisan analysts ...

Yes, Senate Republicans have determined that those people who only make $10,000 a year deserve to pay *more* taxes. I would ask readers to call their senators and ask them to vote 'no' but I doubt any Republicans visit here and I'm sure all the Democratic senators will vote against this, because, you know, they're not effing heartless bastards. How can Christians vote for stuff like this?

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Trump admin hurts animals

Read more: Trophies from elephant hunts in Zimbabwe were banned in the U.S. Trump just reversed that

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

How to buy a wife

Treasury Head, Wife Mocked for Photo of Them Holding Money

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

It's Not Easy Bein' Green

Boy, Kermit was right! .....

Monday, November 13, 2017

Tax cuts & Supply Side Jesus

As voting on the Republican tax plan nears, that tax plan that will give big cuts to the richest and to corporations, a plan that will cause cuts to Medicaid, a plan supported by so many conservative Christians, I was reminded of "The Gospel of Supply Side Jesus" ...

Saturday, November 11, 2017

The basket of deplorables

UPDATE: 11/13 ... A fifth accuser ... Woman Says Roy Moore Sexually Assaulted Her When She Was 16 ...

[I]n December 1977, when she was 16, Nelson told reporters, Moore offered her a ride home after a late shift[as a waitress]. But instead of driving her home, Nelson alleges that Moore parked his car in a dark spot behind the restaurant, locked her in and began groping her breasts. She said he attempted to force her head toward his crotch, causing bruising around her neck.

"I was terrified. He was also trying to pull my shirt off. I thought he was going to rape me. I was twisting, I was struggling, and I was begging him to stop," she said. "At some point, he gave up. He then looked at me and he told me, he said, 'You’re just a child,' and he said, 'I am the district attorney of Etowah County, and if you tell anyone about this, no one will ever believe you.'" ...


A basket of deplorables is a phrase used by Hillary Clinton in a campaign speech to describe a group of Trump supporters ...

She got jumped on for doing that, but I agree with her. Some Republicans are deplorables, and you can see them raising their voices right now in defense of Republican candidate Roy Moore, who has been very credibly accused of sexual behavior with a minor. It's not that they don't believe the accusations are true, it's that they don't care if the accusations are true, just as they didn't care that Trump is a self-confessed sexual predator.

Republican Voters Won’t Care One Bit Whether Roy Moore Molested an Underage Girl

[...] Members of the Republican Party in Alabama are performing bizarre contortions of logic to justify Moore’s alleged molestation. A Toronto Star correspondent reports that David Hall, the chair of the Marion County GOP, said he didn’t “see the relevance” of the allegations because “it was 40 years ago.” “He was 32. She was supposedly 14,” Hall said. “She’s not saying that anything happened other than they kissed.” (She is.) Alabama state auditor Jim Zeigler said that “even if” the story is true, it’s “much ado about very little.” He compared Moore to two Biblical figures, Zachariah and Joseph. “Zachariah was extremely old to marry Elizabeth and they became the parents of John the Baptist,” Zeigler said. “Also take Joseph and Mary. Mary was a teenager and Joseph was an adult carpenter. They became parents of Jesus.” Zeigler also noted that Moore ended up marrying a woman 14 years younger than him—implying, perhaps, that his intentions were noble when he touched and kissed high-school-aged girls. “There’s just nothing immoral or illegal here,” Zeigler said. “Maybe just a little bit unusual.”

Some Republican senators, among them John McCain and Rob Portman, have called for Moore to step aside as a candidate in Alabama’s upcoming special election. And there is a kind of precedent here, as Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley resigned earlier this year in the wake of a sex scandal, though his departure was spurred more by the misdemeanors he committed while covering up his affair than by the affair itself.

Nevertheless, it seems unlikely that Moore will drop out, given that he’s committed to the “fake news” angle and his state party comrades still seem to love him. If he stays in the race, the chances that these allegations will harm his candidacy are vanishingly slim. He’s already called the whole thing made-up, and if he does back down and admit that the Post’s reporting is true, his allies have already furnished him with a playbook of excuses. It was a long time ago. It was a different era. It was all legal. It was consensual. It was just a kiss. And the Bible says sexual relationships between teenage girls and adult men are OK, even holy. He could also break out that old chestnut beloved by pastors accused of sexual abuse: Only God can judge me, and he has forgiven me for my sins ....

If he does continue to run, I believe he will win, and it will be that basket of deplorables who will elect him.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Veterans Day

The only veteran I've ever really known personally is my grandfather. He was a colonel in the army, in for 20 years, and served in both WWI and II. He never really talked about it and was not at all military-ish.

Here he is with me and my (baby) sister ...

Here he is with my grandmother ...

And here's a pic of him when he was young. He's on the far left, with his father and brothers ...

He was my main father figure since I never really got to know my father. I learned so much from him, including how to be a Democrat, but also about pickle sandwiches and polka music :) Love you and miss you, grandpa.

Thursday, November 09, 2017

Throwback Thursday

This was me (far R) in Oahu, at the airport with my mom, my grandmother, and (taking the photo) my sister. It was just before I got married. Fun trip. We visited Maui and the Big Island too. At the last stop, we were in a hotel that had mongeese living in the bushes :)

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

The stray cat saga continues

Dina is one of the cats who has been here from the beginning. She appeared as a kitten about four years ago with her siblings Thor and Lucy. As more and more cats ended up here, Dina got more uncomfortable and she began hanging out under the bushes of my neighbor's yard across the street. The neighbor didn't mind, but now new neighbors have moved in there, and the man who lives there hates cat. As I mentioned in an earlier post, he has never spoken to me except to once shriek from his yard, "keep your stinking cats on your own property".

Things seem to be getting worse - the other day he was chasing her, loudly stamping his feet, down his driveway. I'm worried he's going to eventually harm her. I've tried to get her to stay here, tried to get her to come inside, but so far it hasn't worked.

Today I called the vet and asked if they could keep her and try to find another home for her. I'm supposed to call back tomorrow to see what they have decided, but it doesn't look hopeful = Dina has lived outside her whole life and when I tried to get her to come inside, she began howling and running back and forth, looking for a way out. The vet people said that if she acted that way there, it would be too disruptive. The trouble with taking her to the SPCA is that she would almost certainly be put to sleep as a problem cat.

I will try to get her to come inside again but I dread how upset she will be and I doubt I will always be able to keep her inside without her slipping out past me and my cane. Must figure something out.

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Another mass shooting: where was God?

Another mass killing. I don't know what to think when I see stuff like this in the news, not to mention the news of the plague in Madagascar or the suffering of the Rohingya. I guess a lot of people pray. There are a post at America magazine on this ... There’s no problem with praying after a mass shooting—but what does that prayer look like? ... which seems to say that prayer is a way for us to figure out what we, not God, should do to stop terrible things like this.

My prayers are different. I always want to know why God is letting this stuff happen, because the God of the bib;e is an intervening God. Here's a bit from a post by NT scholar Ben Witherington from a few years ago about The Shack ...

[...] The Bible is all about divine intervention. God is always intruding into our affairs, like a good parent should when his children are as wayward as we are. Is it really the case that God never rescues us against our will? Does God stand idly by, when a normal human parent would leap in and grab the child about to step out onto a highway and be smashed by a sixteen wheeler? .....

[W]hen you once allow that God is busy working all things together for good for those who love Him, whether they realize it or not, then it becomes perfectly clear, as also in cases like when God flattened Paul on the road to Damascus that there are times when God doesn’t wait on our permission to do things on our behalf, and in various cases does things that would have been against our wills at the time. And herein lies the mystery—God, by grace both gives humans limited freedom, but is prepared to intervene and make corrections, redirections etc. for God is free as well, and there is something more important than human beings ‘having it their independent way’ and that is rescuing them. A drowning person can’t save themselves, they require a radical rescue—but how they respond to that rescue thereafter, whether in loving gratitude or with a bad attitude—well that’s another matter and involves human volition.

In other words, the answer to the question of why tragedy happens in the world is not just because God won’t violate our wills, or just because our wills are bent and fallen, and we are the orchestrators of our own tragedies. It’s far more complicated than that ..........

It seems to me that a lot of Christians, perhaps those who have had prayers go unanswered, have revised the traditional view of God, made him into a bystander instead of someone who is involved in our lives. They have good excuses, the free will argument leading the list, but I think the biggest reason is that they are willing to sacrifice an interactive God in order to keep their belief in a good God who cares.

I can't say I have it figured out myself. I still pray for help but all the time I'm doing it I feel conflicted. My prayers are really arguments to a God I'm not sure exists about why he *should* intervene, even while I doubt he will ... I mean, come on, a lot of awful stuff happens on God's watch, and will continue to, I expect. What I don't understand is how other Christians keep on sending their "thoughts and prayers" to the victims, believing this will help.

Sunday, November 05, 2017

Out in the yard

Sunny today and I was out in the yard with the cats and the plants :)

The Thompson seedless grapes my stepfather planted long ago have gone wild and taken over a dead apricot tree ...

Gretel is keeping me company ...

One of the oak trees ...

There are still some oleander flowers blooming ...

Olive the cat ...

Saturday, November 04, 2017

It's raining and that's ok

It's raining here in drought-world (California). Here's Mouse during a break in the showers ...

Rain has made me anxious every year because the garage where the cats stay in rainy weather has a badly leaky roof and it was quite a chore trying to soak up the leaks with cardboard. But this year my sister and I figured out how to tarp the roof without having to actually climb up there, and so, no leaks. it's such a relief! Here's a kind of fuzzy photo of inside the dry garage ...

Some of the cats don't like to be in the garage when it rains - for some reason they want to stay on the brick planter area so I made a little tent for it out of a piece of tarp ...

I think this calls for a rain song from Eric Clapton :) ...

Thursday, November 02, 2017

More on General Kelly

Lawrence O'Donnell on General Kelly ...