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May 24th, 2019

Getting Tired Of It

Out for a cigar walk this evening, after drinks and dinner at Rocket To Venus. Thinking over things. I came home and the feral calico cat I’ve been feeding and providing shelter and food for, came up to the porch looking for an evening meal. I brought the dish out for her and, as usual, tried to keep her a tad away from the bowl as I put it down. She’ll swat at me if my hand gets too close, which it will if she gets too close to the bowl as I put it down. Usually, this involves me putting my foot between her and the bowl until I get it situated on the concrete porch floor. This time accidentally, I managed to step on he paw and she yelped and now I’m the enemy and she won’t come close. I called and called and apologised profusely. But of course cats don’t understand any of that. So she’s gone. For now. Eventually I suppose she’ll come back. There is food and water here after all. But I’ve just about had enough.

Enough of all these one-way relationships in my life. I let myself put my heart into these relationships that never give much if anything back and I’m tired of it. She’s a feral, granted. I knew that when I first started putting food out for her, but it’s like a recurring thread in my life I am getting really tired of. She won’t let me touch her, she’s so skittish. but I’ve grown fond of her nonetheless and I get almost nothing back out of it but her occasional rub up against my door or my foot if she’s feeling safe enough. I didn’t mean to step on her paw but she’ll swat at me and draw blood if I get too close. If she doesn’t come back I will be heartbroken but such is what it is. My other neighbors feed her too so she won’t go hungry. I’ve become accustomed to this sort of heartbreak.

I don’t need these sorts of relationships in my life anymore, where I put my heart into it and I get nothing back. It’s how my life has gone for…well…mostly all of it. And I’m tired of it. Crushes, attempted boyfriends, putting my artwork out there and getting silence back, wearing my heart on my sleeve and getting battered, so it goes. I need to assert some degree of self respect in these things. I know…cats. Especially the feral ones. They’re not domesticated. They don’t trust humans and they’re skittish and they have to be to survive. Some gay guys too. Especially ones of my generation. But I’m tired of it. I need to be loved back. At least a little. She can go somewhere else and that would be good. I’d actually like to be able to sit on my front porch again and enjoy the evenings. Alone I suppose, but at least not loving someone that won’t love me back.


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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Getting Tired Of It
May 23rd, 2019

Guess It’s Time To Start Realizing This

I will take the light rail out to Hunt Valley to eat and drink, rather than drive it, because then I don’t have to worry about the drinking part. There are two favorite spots; the Texas Roadhouse and Bar Louie, both easy access from the light rail stations, and Bar Louie makes a great chicken quesadilla and a pitch perfect Godfather margarita. But running hard to catch a light rail train home last night I feel like I might have over exerted and hurt myself. Now my legs are aching, and the rest of me feels like a squeezed out dishrag. Plus, I felt chest pains last night. It has me concerned, and not just about having a heart attack. I need to remember how old I am. Surprisingly that’s a bit difficult.

A shrink I went to for a while after mom died told me once that I “present young”, which I took to be a polite shrink-speak way of saying I don’t act my age, even when I’m just sitting down and having a chat with someone. But I am what I am and I’ve accepted for a long, long time now that my mental sense of self isn’t quite in sync with my actual physical self. Inside I still have that same sense of self I had in my twenties. All the life experience I’ve accumulated haven’t attenuated that a bit. And it extends to my sense of my physical self. When I’m not looking in a mirror, my mental image of my face and body is lots younger than it is. When I actually look at myself and see the signs of aging I tend to give them a sniff of disapproval and put the subject back out of my mind.

Up until now it’s caused me only minor grief, like when I plan on doing some home cleaning or simple repairs, and it turns out to take three times as long to do it because I don’t have the energy I expect to have for chores like that. So far when that happens it’s just been an irritant. Last night sitting on the light rail train and nearly passing out from over exertion, it was a bit more than that. So I reckon the reckoning with age is finally here. If I don’t at least acknowledge that my body is in its middle sixties now, even if my mind isn’t, I’m going to hurt myself worse eventually.

I’ll just have to left brain it. Right brain is not going to be any help at all with this because that’s where I’m still a twenty something. No Bruce…let that train go on by and catch the next one. Pissed off fidgeting impatiently on the platform because you just missed the train isn’t as hard on your body, and it’s still keeping you active.

I don’t mind getting old as a concept. I mind getting old as a thing.


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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Guess It’s Time To Start Realizing This
May 5th, 2019

I Know It’s In Here Somewhere…!

When your level of frustration trying to find something in the top drawer of your drafting table reaches a critical mass and you decide to repack it…

 

Every now and then I’d chance across some of these old drafting tools at a flea market or garage sale and snap them up. But the dividers at the far right I bought for myself back when I was a working architectural modelmaker. They’re precise, each tong hand ground so the distance between each one is exact. Props to whoever knows what the odd tool at the lower middle of the photo is for. The one above it is a ruling pen. It’s what they used in the days before the Rapidograph, and they still come in handy.

I must be on a repacking jag lately, or the household clutter has developed to a stage where my inner neatness geek is getting antsy. A few weeks ago I was looking for a screw of a particular kind and ended up digging through the entire bin of miscellaneous nuts and bolts and nails and screws I’ve accumulated since…well since I was a teenager. I never throw out things like that, and it gets progressively more and more difficult to dig through it all just to find that one perfect fastener you need. So I decided then and there to repack and sort everything, and of course I ended up with a bunch of miscellaneous odds and ends I could not categorize, like you do, and thereby find a container for. Little bags I’d collected over the decades of odd sized spare screws and fasteners and widgets of various sorts. It’s maddening sometimes because indecision can grind everything to a halt if I can’t work my way past it.

This is why I save coffee cans. But as always, the problem is how to label it so I’ll know which can to open when I’m looking for something…

I expect this can to be too full to put anything more into it in a couple years. Plus I’ll need to sort what’s in it.


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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on I Know It’s In Here Somewhere…!
April 21st, 2019

When I Was Between Grass And Hay

I could gaze into this photo for hours…

 

 

It takes me back. I’m a kid again, and the world is big again. I can breathe the air of those days, feel its wind in my hair. Just looking at this photo I can walk all those paths again. I’ve been gazing at it off and on now for days. At some point I’m going to make a print of it and stick it on the wall behind the bar in my art room.

This photo was posted on a Facebook page I follow about growing up in Montgomery County Maryland. Most of us posting there are oldsters like me. Some of us were kids back in the 1960s. Photos like this are often shared, but none have ever struck so deep a chord in me as this one. Why? Well, just try driving that road today. It’s true, you can’t go home again.

But, in some sense, you can. Always. If there are photographs. Alas for me, this time period was before I really got heavily into photography, so I don’t have many shots of this period of my life. This particular photo was taken sometime in the early 1960s. The person who posted it to the Facebook group couldn’t say exactly when, but I lived there and I can see the timeframe in the details. It’s Rockville Pike, then called East Montgomery Avenue, looking toward southwest from just south of Rockville. One tell of the timeframe is the bus coming toward us on the left side of the road. By it’s colors it’s an old DC Transit bus. DC Transit was the private bus company owned by O. Roy Chalk until 1974. But that’s one of the old buses. They were replaced in the late 60s with the new GM “New Look” bus which had bigger windows and a modern look.

The other tell is the cars. That’s (I think) a ’64 Ford Galaxy on the left coming toward us. It looks like there’s a touch of frost in the shadows on the right, so it’s late autumn. This explains the rolled up windows on the car. Most cars didn’t have AC back then…it was an Expensive luxury. But central Maryland is brutally humid and hot in the summer months.

Also, the large field on the right…that was a working farm. Now it’s just another ugly shopping center. Back then corn grew there. The field is empty in this photo, because the corn has been harvested, and the stalks gathered into bundles, and the earth plowed and ready for next spring. That was the cycle of life on that field I came to know all the years I lived there…

…there…in the apartments to the right of the large building in the distance on the right of the Pike. That building is the Tenley Building, which must have just been recently completed. I don’t know the name of the other building a bit further on across the Pike, but when mom moved us into the apartments, then called Courthouse Square, it was also just being finished and the top two floors of the Tenley Building were in the process of having their rooms and offices built out. The Tenley Building was built for doctors and dentists. Mom dragged me crying miserably over to it for my shots. The needle terrified me, and memories of diseases that killed many when she was a girl terrified mom. So I got my shots.

What takes me back the most, something almost completely unbelievable now about this photo, is all the wide open space in it. You’d think this was somewhere out in the sticks. And I suppose it was when we moved there from Hyattsville. My earliest memories are of the apartment we had in NE Washington DC. Mom moved us to Hyattsville when I was 5 and in Hyattsville I could still believe I was in the city. We moved to Rockville when I was 8 and into a Much nicer garden apartment with a big glass window with a door that opened onto a private balcony. And it had AC! You will never appreciate AC like I do if you didn’t grow up in Washington DC and Maryland without it in the summer. There was a swimming pool, and playgrounds and barbecues for the tenants. I thought we’d hit the big time.

And there was so much open space, I felt like a changed bird suddenly set free. The sky above was huge. The stars at night were vivid. A massive private country club abutted the apartment complex, and evenings I could walk out to a hill in a field behind the apartments and look out across it and see the lights from the WMAL radio towers in the distance. One afternoon shortly after we moved in I was standing on our balcony marveling at how far up in the world we had come, and looking across the Pike glimpsed a train go by. Huh!? I had no idea there were railroad tracks so close by and I immediately had to go see. I walked across the Pike and a small parking lot and clambered down onto tracks that I later learned were the main B&O Railroad line west out of Washington DC. The tracks ran straight as arrows toward Rockville, and back the other way to Washington, and I remember gazing into the distance while some deep and powerful urge developed within me to go see what was there, to explore those horizons.

It was all so wonderful. I was between grass and hay as they say, just old enough to be allowed to wander on my own, but not so old that I didn’t have to be back home by supper. I went to an elementary school in Hungerford, close in to Rockville for a year, then the school boundaries changed and went to Congressional elementary. It was my first experience riding a bus to school. It felt like we were living in the country. Every spring the farm behind the apartments would plant for corn. Every summer I’d watch the corn growing until it was taller than me. Every July 4th mom and I would walk to a hill next to the farm and watch the fireworks light the sky from the Richard Montgomery High School play field. Every autumn would come the harvest, and the smell of cut stalks. Then came the Rockville Fireman’s Carnival.

Summer days I’d walk down the Pike to Congressional Plaza, stopping first at the newly built Talbot Center (It was but a dug out hole in the earth the day we moved in to the apartments next to it) and the Minute Mart there for a soda to drink whilst walking. Then I’d stop at Children’s Supermarket, later to be renamed “Toys R Us”, and inventory their model car shelves for anything new. Then I’d hit the People’s Drug Store in Congressional for any new magazines and comic books (Mad was a favorite), and then check the model cars at the Kresge five and ten, and the Murphy’s. On the way home with my loot, if any, I’d hit the McDonald’s for a burger and shake.

Just re-reading this now it strikes me how much a single divorced mother could provide to her kid, including even an allowance that made it possible for him to indulge in his model car hobby, back in a time when women made maybe 60 cents for every dollar a man doing the exact same job made. But those were the Kennedy days. Things started coming apart for the working class when Reagan promised everyone a shining city on a hill if only the chains of government were taken off big business and finance. But…I don’t want to remember what came later now. We’re all living it anyway.

This photo takes me back into a different world. Classrooms smelled of mimeograph paper and chalk. Telephones had wires connecting them to the wall, and long distance was anything beyond the city limits and horribly expensive. TV came like radio over the airwaves, not a cable, and there were only four local channels, and if the conditions were right and you got the rabbit’s ears tweaked just right maybe you could get the three Baltimore stations with only a little static. There was a legendary Harrisburg station that you could sometimes see the ghost images of amidst the static. There was three daily newspapers, the Post, the Star and the News. And there was a great big beautiful tomorrow shining at the end of every day…

And I wandered. Lots. Mom felt safe letting me do that there. To this day I have to end my days with a walk, though sometimes I take a drive. But I still love to just wander. In many ways the world was so much smaller then, not nearly as interconnected as it is now. And I have my driver’s license and I’ve taken my cars from this side of the country to the other. Were I to transport many of you reading this back to those days you might get a case of claustrophobia from the sense of isolation. To me it brings back memories of a world just beginning to open up to me. I discovered the horizon here, and all its mysteries, because for the first time I could actually see it.

Just there in the photo, to the right of the Tenley Building, is the row of apartments we lived in. I can almost see my bedroom window. I used to gaze out at this stretch of road often and to the city and the horizon beyond. I can half close my eyes just now, and do that still.


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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on When I Was Between Grass And Hay
April 18th, 2019

Between The Silver Lining And The Angry One…

Facebook helpfully provides me with Memories. That’s when you log in for the first time that day and Facebook offers to show you all the posts you made on that day, going all the way back to your Facebook beginnings.

Today’s memories hold two posts of interest to me. April 18, 2014…two years after The Crisis…whatever the hell it was…

I’m cutting off my Walt Disney World vacation early and driving home in tears. Had I come of age in a better world I’d have got this over and done with back in ’72 or ’73. Anyway…then this happens…

…So I decided to wander back home instead of staying at Disney World. But it’s been a torrent of rain all the way, so I can’t exactly get out of the car and look around anywhere with my cameras. Several big accidents on I-95 blocked traffic for miles. But the worst of it was the car complaining about things that…once again…should have already been taken care of by R&H Motors.

First I started getting messages to check the fuel filter. That was supposedly replaced at the 40k service, and R&H charged me about 450 bucks to do it since (they said) it was a dual filter and more expensive for the diesels. I could buy that…you really need to filter diesel oil…just look at a diesel pump nozzle if you doubt that. But I strongly doubt I’m only getting 16k out of a new set, when I got 40k out of the set that came with the car. So I start worrying the car is going to suddenly stall out on me because the fuel filter never got changed and now it’s all blocked up.

And of course it’s a holiday weekend so I doubt I can get any actual Mercedes service done on the car until Monday.

Then I started getting notices that I was running low on Diesel Emissions Fluid (DEF). The DEF tank gets topped off every 10k and I only have 6.4k on the current tank. No way it’s almost empty now. If you run out of DEF the emissions system prevents the car from starting until you fill the tank again.

So I bought a gallon of some generic DEF at one of the truck stops along the way. DEF is supposed to be just a simple solution of about 35 percent (or thereabouts) synthetic urea and the rest distilled water. I checked the label that that is what I bought and hopefully the car accepts it even though it isn’t Genuine Mercedes-Benz DEF but I was in a panic.

I stopped for the night at South Of The Border because all their rooms have private covered car ports I could pull into and empty the trunk and fill the DEF tank with the gallon I bought. That stopped the complaining about low DEF. Hopefully the car won’t notice that it isn’t Genuine Mercedes-Benz DEF on the leg home tomorrow and stall out on me somewhere far from anything.

I began my trip home massively depressed. Now I am massively pissed off at R&H Motors. That seems better somehow. I guess every cloud has a silver lining, except the ones that have an angry lining. You work with what you get.

It’s amazing how a big dose of Anger can blow all the sadness in your life away. At least for as long as it persists. It gives you something else to focus on besides that knife in your heart. Maybe this accounts for the Fox News effect on us old people. Maybe this accounts for why that audience wants to be angry all the friggin’ time. Good thing I don’t watch much TV anymore. Besides that my bullshit buffer overflows the instant I see Tucker Carlson on a TV screen anywhere and it’s a good thing I don’t have a brick handy.

Anyway…riddle me this: how is a car dealership like a flirt who wants into your pants as long as their spouse doesn’t find out?

 


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by Bruce | Link | React! (1)
March 25th, 2019

Coincidence? I Think Not…

I subscribe to MeUndies. I like the fit and the material, and it’s one less thing I have to buy at the store. But mostly what I like about MeUndies is the fun, colorful new patterns they come up with every month. Raised in a gloomy Yankee Baptist household where disapproval at anything smacking of personal vanity was always in the air, nearly all my life since I left the nest I’ve been trying to give myself permission to…well…just be myself. I like color in my wardrobe, even the parts not generally visible in public. Well…except for my blue jeans. Blue jeans must be blue. It’s tradition. But I want color everywhere else. Ask me about the electric blue streak I sat in the chair for three and a half hours to get in my hair. Lately I’ve taken to wearing a bandanna hanging out a back pocket again, like I used to when I was a younger guy, only now I get ti-dyed bandannas, partly to confuse anyone who thinks I might be signalling something (ask me how much I Hate that damn hankie code!) , but mostly because I like the idea of tie-dyed bandannas. Next winter I swear I’m going to buy some new flannel shirts like I do every winter, but this time I’m going to bleach them white and then tie-dye them.

So…anyway…the Very Day before I got on my train to Florida and Walt Disney World, MeUndies sends me a new pair with their latest pattern… 

Llamas. They sent me Llama underwear. Well of course I wore it to my Biergarten dinner reservation.

 

 

Dude, it’s hilarious. You’re hilarious. Good thing you’re not reading my blog or this post might piss you off.


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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Coincidence? I Think Not…
March 21st, 2019

We Can Rise

There is a renewed effort to ban the practice of ex-gay therapy on kids. Adults it seems, will just have to take their own risks with this brutal quackery. But at least the movement to keep it away from kids has some momentum. In large measure, this is why…

Meet the Conversion Therapists Who Turned Against Conversion Therapy

Some of the most powerful voices against conversion therapy are those of ex-conversion therapists, who have now come out as LGBT and formed their own support group.

One of them, Michael Bussee, co-founder of Exodus International, had this to say about his road to Damascus moment after leaving Exodus because he had fallen in love with another Exodus member…

At first, he wanted to heal in private: Bussee himself is gay, and had left to be in a relationship with Gary Cooper, a man who also belonged to the Christian-based organization known as Exodus International. Together, they tried to forget about Exodus, which went on to become one of the most influential conversion therapy organizations in the world until its 2013 closure.

But at some point in the 1980s, Bussee finally came to terms with what Exodus had done—and it nearly destroyed him.

“When the full extent of what Exodus had done to people hit me, I must have sobbed for days,” he told The Daily Beast. “It was just gut-wrenching. The guilt was overwhelming, crushing guilt. I thought, ‘How am I ever going to deal with this guilt?’”

Many have been deeply wounded by groups like Exodus and others of their kind. And not just the ones who submitted themselves to it, or were thrown into it like so much human garbage, but also the many who were simply collateral damage in the right wing culture war against the hated Other. Those of us who might have found love but for the brutalization of so many, and the lies told about us.  

I cannot forgive them for what they did to others, that is not my prerogative. But if you ever wondered what integrity is you are looking at it here. It isn’t the apology that costs you little or nothing. It is the acceptance of guilt, and a willingness to make amends even though many of those you have wronged will probably never forgive you. Because you had your road to Damascus moment and now you know, and now you must go on knowing, and so you must set things right. Because there is no other way. These men will probably have to walk through fire for the rest of their lives, but they want to put as much of it right as they can. I cannot help but admire them for it.

Because it is the ones among us who can admit they were wrong, and own the damage they caused, despite the costs to themselves, and do their best to make things right again, that are civilization’s final hope. Think of everything you have seen and heard in the last two years…all the cheating, all the excuses, the lies, the abject moral squalor, coming from the highest offices in the land. Some days it seems like the human gutter has overflowed and we are drowning in its depravities. Still, despite everything, there is a nobility to the human spirit, rough-hewn though it may be. We can rise from the fallen state. We can turn this around. 


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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on We Can Rise

Atheism: Not What You Think It Is

A friend on Facebook shared this, from of all places Scientific American…

Atheism Is Inconsistent with the Scientific Method, Prizewinning Physicist Says

In conversation, the 2019 Templeton Prize winner does not pull punches on the limits of science, the value of humility and the irrationality of nonbelief

I had to do a double-take when I saw the direction this came from, but then again this man is a well respected physicist and the sciences are just as diverse as any other crowd. Marcelo Gleiser, a 60-year-old Brazil-born theoretical physicist at Dartmouth College and a science popularizer. The article’s headline is a tad sensationalistic…the body of the article is mostly about a need for humility in science, and his evolution as a physicist. But there is a passage about atheism where he says 

“I honestly think atheism is inconsistent with the scientific method. What I mean by that is, what is atheism? It’s a statement, a categorical statement that expresses belief in nonbelief. “I don’t believe even though I have no evidence for or against, simply I don’t believe.”…”

But this gets it entirely wrong.

This is mischaracterizing atheism as a positive declaration that there is no god. That’s a pretty common mistake and I suppose a lot of folks who call themselves atheists make it too. But then you’re boxed into the position of proving a negative and that’s how believers like to tie atheists in knots and how he gets to where he can say it’s inconsistent with the scientific method. But atheism is simply unbelief. And if declaring there is no god is unscientific then so is declaring there is when the evidence simply isn’t there.

I’ve written previously that in his book Science and Human Values Jacob Bronowski makes an excellent case for the moral values the practice of science teaches…that scientific method Mr.Gleiser says is atheism is inconsistent with. And it begins and ends with respect for what a fact is…

Theory and experiment alike become meaningless unless the scientist brings to them, and his fellows can assume in him, the respect of a lucid honesty with himself. The mathematician and philosopher W. K. Clifford said this forcibly at the end of his short life, nearly a hundred years ago.

If I steal money from any person, there may be no harm done by the mere transfer of possession; he may not feel the loss, or it may even prevent him from using the money badly. But I cannot help doing this great wrong towards Man, that I make myself dishonest. What hurts society is not that it should loose it’s property, but that it should become a den of thieves; for then it must cease to be a society. This is why we ought not to do evil that good may come; for at any rate this great evil has come, that we have done evil and are made wicked thereby.

This is the scientist’s moral: that there is no distinction between ends and means. Clifford goes on to put this in terms of the scientist’s practice:

In like manner, if I let myself believe anything on insufficient evidence, there may be no great harm done by the mere belief; it may be true after all, or I may never have occasion to exhibit it in outward acts. But I cannot help doing this great wrong towards man, that I make myself credulous. The danger to society is not merely that it should believe wrong things, though that is great enough; but that it should become credulous.

And the passion in Clifford’s tone shows that to him the word credulous had the same emotional force as ‘a den of thieves’

The fulcrum of Clifford’s ethic here, and mine, is the phrase ‘it may be true after all.’ Others may allow this to justify their conduct; the practice of science wholly rejects it. It does not admit the word ‘true’ can have this meaning. The test of truth is the known factual evidence, and no glib expediency nor reason of state can justify the smallest self-deception in that. Our work is of a piece, in the large and in the detail; so that if we silence one scruple about our means, we infect ourselves and our ends together.

-Jacob Bronowski “Science and Human Values” 1956

But in the end Carl Sagan said it best:

“Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.”

Science, as Richard Feynman once said, is just a way we have of not fooling ourselves. Where is the evidence for the existence of god? Where is the science? My atheism isn’t a reaction against religion. It’s one day I finally had to admit to myself that belief had stopped making sense to me. But I can be convinced. Perhaps one day I’ll find myself walking on Newton’s beach and pick up one of those prettier sea shells he spoke of and find God inside (oh…well there you are!). But at this point in my life I just don’t believe. I am not asserting a negative, I’m saying I don’t see the evidence and even the concept makes no sense to me anymore.

That isn’t unscientific. And more than that, it’s respecting my human identity and that of my neighbors. We are a thinking animal, we’ve benefited greatly in the struggle for survival from having minds capable of rational thought, and Bronowski also said that the state of mind and of society is of a piece, and when we discard the testing and verifying of facts, we discard along with that what it is to be human.

Your mileage may vary on the question and the evidence and that’s fine. And it’s true that some questions put to us can be frustratingly subjective. Details matter. Science can demonstrate that Pluto exists, but some folks might disagree as to whether or not it’s a planet. I happen to think “planet” fits little Pluto just fine but I’ll listen to arguments to the contrary…or at any rate Much Better ones than I’ve heard previously. What is God? What do we mean when we say we believe or not in God? What would William Jennings Bryan say? What would Albert Einstein? Frank Lloyd Wright had this wonderful saying, I believe in God but I spell it Nature. For a long time that was me, but at some point even that became untenable. It had just stopped making sense to me.

Maybe as the concept of God evolves and changes so does the concept of atheism. Maybe as atheists listen more to why believers believe, and to their understanding of God, atheists better understand what it means to not believe. Maybe some decide they’re actually agnostics. Maybe others eventually figure out that it isn’t actually about proving a negative, proving that there is no God, and that they really and simply just don’t believe.

And if even an eminently respected physicist says my atheism is contrary to the scientific method I think I’m rightly allowed to object. He needs to understand atheists a little better.


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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Atheism: Not What You Think It Is
March 10th, 2019

How Facebook Earns My Eyeball Time

It isn’t as often as I like, but Facebook does earn my eyeball time every now and then. I keep bigots and idiots off my “Friends” list, and I block in a heartbeat any homophobes and/or Tump morons I see in the comments, so I probably don’t get it as bad as some people. I’ve been wandering the social media landscape ever since the BBS days and I’ve learned how to keep the dogshit and chewing gum off my shoes. The advantage to social computer networking is the connections you and your online friends make to news and information you might otherwise have missed in the mainstream media conversations.

Like the other day, when a guy in my friends list posted a link to this blog post…

Motte and Bailey, Particle Physics Style

“Motte and bailey” is a rhetorical maneuver in which someone switches between an argument that does not support their conclusion but is easy to defend (the “motte”), and an argument that supports their conclusion but is hard to defend (the “bailey”). The purpose of this switch is to trick the listener into believing that the easy-to-defend argument suffices to support the conclusion.

This rhetorical trick is omnipresent in arguments that particle physicists currently make for building the next larger collider.

So the blog post is about arguments among particle physicists…which was a good read all by itself. But I have seen this little rhetorical sleight of hand over and over and Over in arguments about sexual orientation and gay equality and I never knew it had a name and a formal definition.

Here’s more about that…

Motte and bailey (MAB) is a combination of bait-and-switch and equivocation in which someone switches between a “motte” (an easy-to-defend and often common-sense statement, such as “culture shapes our experiences”) and a “bailey” (a hard-to-defend and more controversial statement, such as “cultural knowledge is just as valid as scientific knowledge”) in order to defend a viewpoint. Someone will argue the easy-to-defend position (motte) temporarily, to ward off critics, while the less-defensible position (bailey) remains the desired belief, yet is never actually defended.

In short: instead of defending a weak position (the “bailey”), the arguer retreats to a strong position (the “motte”), while acting as though the positions are equivalent. When the motte has been accepted (or found impenetrable) by an opponent, the arguer continues to believe (and perhaps promote) the bailey.

Note that the MAB works only if the motte and the bailey are sufficiently similar (at least superficially) that one can switch between them while pretending that they are equivalent.

Source: RationalWiki

Consider: As gay kids are starting to get more visibility in movies and TV aimed directly at a young audience, you hear complaining that The Media is sexualizing our kids. The argument there is portraying same sex crushes is a further example of the slide into sexual moral oblivion, pushing sex on kids too young to be exposed to that. A variant of that complaint is allowing transgender kids to even be visible in pop culture, let alone have crushes.

Now, you can argue that pitching products, whether they’re consumer goods or movies and TV shows to immature kids with blatantly sexual imagery isn’t helping them become mature adults. But I’m not sure going back to a 1950s set of broadcast standards is the right answer either. Sex is hard wired into us and at a certain age those hormones are going to start percolating and ignorance is never a good plan at any age. Plus, they’ve been doing that to teen and preteen girls since I was a kid, though granted it’s more blatant now. There’s a difference between teaching kids healthy attitudes toward sex and teaching them they’re only valuable as people to the degree they’re desirable.

And none of this is an argument for keeping gay kids invisible. The unspoken premise there is that treating their lives on screen the same as anyone else’s is sexualizing children, because sex is all there is to homosexuality. As Vito Russo wrote, “It is an old stereotype, that homosexuality has to do only with sex while heterosexuality is multifaceted and embraces love and romance.” So the motte here, the easy argument to make, is media companies and advertisers shouldn’t be treating kids as sex objects and bombarding them with hyper-sexualized imagery. The more difficult argument, the bailey, is gay visibility in the media is all part of the militant homosexual agenda to sexualize children, the better to prey on them. And how it goes is you argue that gay kids have crushes too and need healthy role models too and the bigots argue that sexualizing kids is predatory and it might feel like you are arguing past each other but no…they’re avoiding your argument altogether and sticking to the one they know they can win, as if winning that argument also wins them the other. That is how they play the game.

I can think of others…how lowering moral standards leads to social decay and acceptance of homosexual behavior is a lowering of moral standards that only speeds the decay up (the fall of Rome and all that…). My experience arguing this stuff is it usually Begins with the bailey and segues into the motte as I try to pick apart the argument that letting us live our lives openly to the same degree as everyone else contributes to social decay. Sometimes the motte is random examples of heterosexuals behaving badly and gosh we don’t want any more of that do we so keep the gays in the closet please. More often it’s random examples of gay people, usually gay men, behaving badly. As Anne Frank put it in a different context,“What one Christian does is his own responsibility, what one Jew does is thrown back at all Jews.” And so it goes. The easy argument is behaving badly is…well…bad. The hard argument to make is They’re All Alike, because that’s basically admitting you’re a bigot and bigots only own their cheapshit prejudices among themselves, or when resigned to the Lost Cause.

Sometimes the motte and bailey are about religion and homosexuality. The bible says it, I believe it, and that settles it. Religious freedom means I get to disapprove of homosexuality. Yes, but why should your religious beliefs govern everyone else’s lives? The bible says it…I believe it… And so on. We’re currently in this country arguing in the courts and in the public square that giving gay people and same sex couples equal access to goods and services, equal access to representation in the media, full equality in our civil rights laws, tramples the religious freedom of people opposed to…well…having to share the world with us. Arguing that people in a democracy have the right to follow their own religious convictions is the easy argument. Arguing that gay people and same sex couples must face barriers in their everyday lives that others don’t used to be an easy argument too back in the 1950s and 60s when we were dangerous sexual deviants and a cancer on society. Not so much anymore.


Posted In: Politics
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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on How Facebook Earns My Eyeball Time

He’ll Be Selling Them In His Hotel Any Day Now

Via Facebook friend John Becker…


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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on He’ll Be Selling Them In His Hotel Any Day Now
March 6th, 2019

Life As A Sequence Of Fine Dining And Lots Of Tequila

I’m going to start a gallery of foodie shots of every nice dinner I’ve had on March 6 since 2016…

…but first…

Afternoon of March 6, 2016.  One of the shots I took inside one of my favorite watering places in Walt Disney World (the other two are Tune-In Lounge and Jock Lindey’s Hanger Bar). The margarita before the storm. Plus chips and jalapeno and cheese dip. Hot? Ohhh Dios mío…the day is about to get hotter…

The Kobe beef steak I was having at the Brown Derby when I got scolded. In retrospect it would have sounded better in the original German…

Rocket to Venus 2017…their absolutely decadent pork steaks and garlic mashed potatoes. I’ve been mourning the loss of this item on their entrée menu for a long time…

Rocket to Venus 2018 (noticing a pattern here?). I forget what this one was but it was amazingly good, as always. I can’t recommend this Hampden, near The Avenue eatery enough.

And here I am drinking my margaritas every march 6 since 2016.

Probably heading out to Rocket to Venus again for dinner tonight. Because the food is great, the staff are nice, and one of the bartenders is very nice on the eyes, doesn’t mind my gawking at him in disbelief, and I can get drunk enough I can appreciate the sight of a beautiful guy and not feel any pain. Plus I can walk home stinking drunk and not be a hazard to everyone else on the highway. 

Prost!


Posted In: Life
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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Life As A Sequence Of Fine Dining And Lots Of Tequila

No Pain, No Gain


Life goes on…


Posted In: Life
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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on No Pain, No Gain
March 3rd, 2019

The Bidet…A Couple Weeks Later

So…the bidet… And if you think this is oversharing feel free to change the channel. But some people expressed interest in how well the thing actually works.

Just to recap, I bought one of those bidet toilet seat conversions when I saw a really nice one that Costco was selling for slightly better than half off. I’m assuming it’s an about to be discontinued model, because when I last checked they still have it listed on the manufacturer’s website.

It was a pretty simple and straightforward installation, but then I have a bunch of tools and a near lifetime of experience doing my own simple household repairs and improvements. Even growing up in a bunch of suburban garden apartments you found that fixing leaks yourself got the job done quicker than calling the landlord, plus it kept strangers out of your nest. The thing most people get wrong when replacing things like a toilet float, hoses and faucet washers is they over tighten the connections and then they leak. Hand tighten, and then just a tad more with the wrench will usually do it. (When changing an oil filter, Only hand tighten.) This time I had to go back and gently add some torque to a couple of the connections a day later when I noticed some minor drippage, but it was pretty simple otherwise. My bathroom had outlets nearby but I did have to run a power strip to the wall behind the toilet. The instructions said to use a surge protector.

Does it work? Well I can’t speak to how well it works on lady parts, but as to the part we all share…yes. Absolutely! Gets you spic and span. Much Much better and more hygienically than paper. But there are adjustments you need to tweak: water temperature, pressure, nozzle position and whether to turn on the aerator. The spray is timed for a minute and then automatically stops, or stops instantly if you get off the seat. Repeat as needed. My experience is adjusting the position of the nozzle back and forth while it’s working gives best results. I only use toilet paper now to dry myself and that’s cut down my use of it considerably, and counter intuitively it’s also cut down water consumption. That’s from flushing the paper down. Now I flush less often, so that’s less water down the drain. There’s an air dry function that’s timed for three minutes but I have no patience.

There’s a seat warmer which is nice, and is adjustable. There’s a fan that turns on and pulls air out of the bowl while you’re sitting on it, and out through a carbon filter to keep the bathroom stink free. It shines a soft blue light into the bowl which is nice for when your bladder insists in the middle of the night. I give it a thumbs up. Money well spent.

Except… Due to being needed at Goddard first thing Friday morning I rented a room in Greenbelt Thursday night. Shortly after I got there I realized that when I travel from now on I’m going to miss having that bidet whenever wherever I need to hit the john. All technology is a two edged sword.


Posted In: Life
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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on The Bidet…A Couple Weeks Later
March 2nd, 2019

Finished. Mostly…

 

Finished. Except for the last of the cleaning up. Also, when the weather gets warmer I need to bring the table saw upstairs and build a nicer shelf for the TV. And I need to take that artwork down, make a digital copy and put it in a decent frame. It probably needs a Very Careful cleaning too.

When you turn off the new TV the picture fades to white and collapses down to a narrow horizontal line that quickly fades away, mimicking what the old vacuum tube TVs did once upon a time. I find it oddly comforting.


Posted In: Life

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Finished. Mostly…

This Didn’t Just Happen Overnight

GOP’s anti-Muslim display likening Rep. Omar to a terrorist rocks W. Virginia capitol

Angry arguments broke out in the West Virginia statehouse on Friday after the state Republican Party allegedly set up an anti-Muslim display in the rotunda linking the 9/11 terror attacks to a freshman congresswoman from Minnesota.

One staff member was physically injured during the morning’s confrontations, and another official resigned after being accused of making anti-Muslim comments.

The display featured a picture of the World Trade Center in New York City as a fireball exploded from the one of the Twin Towers, set above a picture of Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar, who is Muslim.

“‘Never forget’ – you said. . .” read a caption on the first picture. “I am the proof – you have forgotten,” read the caption under the picture of Omar, who is wearing a hijab.

The article is about how some West Virginian republicans put up a poster in their statehouse with a picture of one of the Twin Towers being hit on 9/11 and below it a picture of Omar with the caption that she is proof we’ve forgotten 9/11. Something else at the end of the article caught my eye…

Another Republican delegate, Eric Porterfield, was hit with calls to resign last month after he called LGBTQ groups “the closest thing to political terrorism in America” and “a modern day version of the Ku Klux Klan.”

“Let me (be) very clear with my statement,” Porterfield told NBC News then. “The LGBTQ — not homosexuals — are the modern day version of the Ku Klux Klan.”

Well I’m glad he cleared that up.

All this has been a long time coming. And don’t just be blaming talk radio and Fox/Sinclair and all the open sewers deep in the dark corners of the Internet. It is still fresh in my memory how Jimmy Carter called out the Reagan campaign’s racist dog whistles and our liberal news media nearly crucified him for being so rude. And even now they’re still hanging on to their he said/she said both sides boilerplate. The republican speaker of the West Virginia house said We have allowed national level politics to become a cancer on our state . . to invade our chamber in a way that makes me ashamed.” Cancer…maybe. Or a cesspool that nobody cared to shine a light on when it might have made a difference, because that would have been rude.


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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on This Didn’t Just Happen Overnight
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