Ups and Downs

We’ve been snowed in for about a week. Wait. I tell a lie. We were snowed in by bad roads for 2 days and the rest of the time school was closed because it was negative OMG wind-chill factor out there, leading us to go into pseudo-hibernation in warm flannel jammies. Thus, we were housebound for about 5 days.

My girls, whom I love with all my heart, played together without fighting during this time. That’s very good and gave me a warm glow. Since they were busy with playing, the older two girls really didn’t need (or want) a whole lot of my time and attention. However, my baby Spock wanted me to be in the living room with them and not on my computer in the office. She used her super-power on me; her big brown eyes of pleading. I folded like a lawn chair and went to the living room.

On a positive note, I got to read a shit-ton of books while holding the couch down. I also got to hear a VERY cute conversation between Spock and Stitch. Inasmuch as Stitch was patiently helping her learn to play a new computer game (educational, of course), Spock burst out with, “You are the best big sister anyone could ever imagine!” With complete and utter seriousness, Stitch modestly responded, “Well, I have my ups and downs like everyone else.”

The solemnity of this coming from a seven year old kid was just too cute, y’all. 

Posted in daughters, I like this, dammit., life as I know it, motherhood | 2 Comments

Gozer News Update

I must cut into my scheduled ranting about atheist historical asshattery to bring you news from the World of Gozer!

Last Thursday, Gozer was biting herself in class to “see if she was real”. Not too far from left field for an Aspy kid, but weird as hell for a muggle, no? Gozer’s teacher rightly told Gozer that she was not allowed to bite herself, inasmuch as Gozer was nearly puncturing the skin (again, not too odd for an Aspy kid). Gozer, being Gozer, decided that if she couldn’t test herself for realness she was going  to see if the little boy next to her was “real”.

This was not good.

There was a substitute in that day, and long story short Gozer wound up in AIM, which is also used as a sort of juvenile detention.  Yes, my worst nightmare’s have come true.

BabyBro freaked out about Gozer being stuck in AIM. The Reality Fairy hit him with a sack of Reality Dust right in the face about what could happen to Gozer. Inasmuch as BabyBro does love his kids (he always puts his wife’s needs first so I’m still judgey about that), he asked my parents to come with him to the school to talk to the principal in order to avail himself of my parents social clout in their town. He wisely chose a day TaintFace was at work, because he know how she alienates people and he didn’t want to risk having her with them at the talk.

The first thing my Dad does? Point blank asks the principal in front BabyBro if the school is aware Gozer has Asperger’s syndrome. BabyBro had told Mom that “yes, the school knew” but TaintFace had told Mom “no, because Gozer doesn’t have Asperger’s; Betty Fokker is a big ol’ liar and we had her tested again and NOPE doesn’t have it” so my parents didn’t know WTF was up. The parents and I were biting our collective nails wondering if Gozer was or was not getting help. Thus, they decided to grab the bullshit by the horns and find out.

Guess what? TaintFace is a lying sack of lies! The school DOES know Gozer is an Aspy and is doing all they can, including an IEP and special protocols. The only reason the protocols were not followed in this one instance was because the substitute didn’t get the info. The school has promised that the info on Gozer will be prioritized next time. BabyBro was clearly in on the fact Gozer has Asperger’s because the principal was discussing what they had ‘talked about before’.

BabyBro was willing to cause family disruption to ‘defend’ his wife from the consequences of her own twatwaffle behavior but was not as willing to do so when it came to the kids and their school. That makes me happy. It’s lip-curl-worthy that he protects TaintFace in the family even when he is as aware as everyone else that she is in the wrong, yet I am counting his intervention at the school as a win for humanity and a reminder of why I still love my BabyBro.

So, to recap: I am the devil because I got Gozer tested (with permission) for Asperger’s and she had it and I didn’t put up with TaintFace’s bitch-fit about it afterwards, which morphed into TaintFace vehemently claiming Gozer didn’t have Aspy’s  as they had her retested with the codicil that I could never see Gozer again until I apologized for ‘being mean’ to TaintFace, which wrecked Christmas for the kids and my parents but TaintFace didn’t care and BabyBro defended his wife. HOWEVER, it turns out I was right all along and BabyBro knows it and Gozer is getting help at school and the only person in the family who thinks TaintFace looks like anything other than knuckle-dragging, pig-ignorant trash for doing this shit is TaintFace. 

Meanwhile, Gozer is STILL trying to convince my mom to help her lie to TaintFace and see me in secret (which we cannot do because teaching a kid to lie about ‘secrets’ and hide things from her parents is something child-sex predator’s do and we don’t want Gozer’s pump to be primed with the idea of secret-keeping). Gozer is suffering because her mother is a cuntmonkey, and this makes me unhappy.

But on the bright side the school is aware of Gozer’s autism and is reacting accordingly for the most part.

The whole thing makes me weary.

Posted in are you kidding me with this shit?, Asperger's and Autism Spectrum, daughters, health, irony set on "stun", life as I know it, motherhood | 4 Comments

The Inherent Fallacy of Smug, Part One

I have a surprising number of atheists in my life (waves) and they are almost uniformly wonderful people. Come to think of it, the one jackass atheist who I abhorred has been dumped by his lovely atheist girlfriend and is out of my life, so I can say that all the atheists in my personal sphere are great. It is very rare when one can claim a universal, no?

I do have some beefs with some closely-held beliefs in the larger atheist community, however. I don’t give a mouse sized shit that they are non-theists; that is their business and I respect their choices.  My beef is with the smug  assumptions on the part of some who think that atheism is not an ideology and is completely immune to asshattery. Why does this bother me? For the same reason self-righteous hypocrisy bothers me when theists do it. The very concept of someone who thinks they have de facto ascendancy over those who think or feel differently makes my ass crave buttermilk.

This is extremely silly of me, inasmuch as “when you are dealing with that kind of level of certainty, whether you are talking about a religious fundamentalist, or an atheist fundamentalist … it’s really a waste of time to try to argue either data points or logical reasoning, because they have already made up their mind and it becomes kind of useless to have that kind of conversation.” However, I am not preaching to fundies of any sort. I’m explaining something. Explanations exist independently of their pensiveness.

Since this is a convoluted topic, it’s going to need two part. Here is the first part, dealing with whether or not atheism is an ideology (spoilers; it is).

There are a lot of high-profile atheists who are vociferous that THEIR ideas do not constitute an ideology. They fall face-first into the everyday incorrect usage of ideology, “which is largely negative, and typically refers to the rigid, misguided or partisan ideas of others: we have the truth, and they have ideologies.” They also rely heavily on the eliding the first definition of ideology. An ideology is “the set of ideas and beliefs of a group or political party; 1 :  visionary theorizing 2a :  a systematic body of concepts especially about human life or culture; 2b :  a manner or the content of thinking characteristic of an individual, group, or culture; 2c :  the integrated assertions, theories and aims that constitute a sociopolitical program. An ideology can ALSO be thought of as “the body of doctrine, myth, belief, etc., that guides an individual, social movement, institution, class, or large group.”

Now, I agree that the second definition of ideology – the one that usual deals with religious ideologies – isn’t entirely apt for atheism. (Except that inasmuch as a ‘belief’ is “acceptance that a statement is true” and/or “a strongly held idea” I think it could be reasonably argued that atheists have belief.) Nonetheless, atheism fits the essential aspect of an ideology – a group formed around an idea. They think that because atheism is not a religion it is QED not an ideology, which is wrong. All religions may contain ideologies, but not all ideologies center on religious beliefs. It is the “all thumbs are fingers but not all fingers are thumbs” saw.

Atheism is like most other non-religious ideologies. Compare it to feminism, for example. The central idea of feminism is gender equality. That definition is the umbrella concept that can encompassed all other ideas of feminist theorists or groups (they are legion). Feminism isn’t a religion. We don’t we collectively. There is no one who can speak “on-behalf” of the feminist “community” anymore than there is someone who can speak “on-behalf” of the Muslims/Jews/Christians/Pagans/Atheist “community”. People will identify as feminist or not  — regardless of any other overlapping and concurrent ideology – based on whether or not they feel gender equality is an idea or ideal of importance. Feminism doesn’t control the lives of feminists, but it sure as hell colors our perceptions and opinions of life events. If a pregnant woman is fired for being pregnant, a feminist will see it as an issue of gender inequality, where a communist may see it as a result of the evils of unchecked capitalism, or a feminist communist would see it as both.

The only way atheism is NOT an ideology is if an atheist can say that people calling themselves atheist do not all embrace the central idea that there is no deity/deities.

Posted in I've been thinking too much, shit I think y'all should know | 3 Comments

From Coconut Oil to Poop Transplants

Do you guys remember when, according to scientific wisdom, things like coffee, chocolate, coconut, and eggs were foods of the devil that would kill you dead as a bag of hammers if you took one bite? Well, I certainly do. If you had ever been coaxed into eating ‘fat free’ cheesecake and ‘no egg” omelets, you’d remember those days too.

As any medical anthropologist will tell you, allopathic medicine and science is no more immune to the effects of culture and the ‘everybody knows that’ phenomenon as any other group, field, organization, or career. New information happens. Paradigms shift. I can fokking eat coconut again without being thought to be lining my arteries with the equivalent of lead-based paint. In fact, there is a whole bunch of ‘bad’ foods that turned out to be on the side of the angels all along. Halleluiah and pass me the salted popcorn!

Coconut and coconut oil in particular have been recovering from years of having been unfairly maligned. Coconut oil doesn’t make you fat and sick (which is axiomatic for most of Western medicine); coconut oil makes you burn belly fat and live longer. All hail the coconut!

Since we are talking about fat and health, that reminds me to mention the interesting phenomenon of poop transplants – or faecal microbiota transplantation as the doctors call it. All joking aside, this procedure is giving many ill patents a new lease on life. However, they have noticed something intriguing. Gut flora may have more to do with your weight than food and exercise. Recently, a woman got a life-saving fecal transplant from her soon-to-be-obese daughter and:

“Following the therapy, the woman’s symptoms vanished and she no longer experienced recurrent infections. Sixteen months later, however, the woman reported unintentional weight gain of 34 pounds and met the criteria for obesity. Two and a half years after the transplant, the woman weighed 177 pounds with a BMI of 34.5, despite a medically supervised liquid protein diet and exercise program. “We’re questioning whether there was something in the fecal transplant, whether some of those ‘good’ bacteria we transferred may have an impact on her metabolism in a negative way,” case report author Colleen Kelly said in a statement.”

It turns out that “factors other than the types of food and their availability appear to be important. Recent evidence suggests that the gut microbiota play a role in energy harvest, storage, and expenditure. The preponderance of the evidence demonstrates that germ-free mice are protected against obesity and that the transfer of gut microbes from conventionally raised animals results in dramatic increases in body fat content and insulin resistance. Moreover, the composition of the gut microbiota has been shown to differ in lean and obese humans and animals and to change rapidly in response to dietary factors. The gut microbiota may also influence the development of conditions characterized by low-level inflammation, such as obesity and type 2 diabetes, through systemic exposure to bacterial lipopolysaccharide derived from the intestinal microbiota. Together, these data suggest that modification of the gut microbiota may be a relevant therapeutic avenue for obesity and other metabolic disorders.”

As a fat person who eats “right “and exercises and who is told in a barrage of cultural messaging that she will become magically thin if she just eats “right” and exercises, meaning that the fat is a sign of her sloth and gluttony and attacking or mocking her for her excess weight is OK because it’s ‘for her own good/heath’, I would just like to extend two hardy middle fingers to all jackasses judging me for my jiggly butt.

I am also going to ask my friend Sorcha, who cannot gain weight and whose weight plummets under any stress, for some of her poop. Between Sorcha poop and coconut oil, I look forward to my skinny jeans.

Posted in fat hating, health, life as I know it, shit I think y'all should know, victim blaming | 5 Comments

Atheistic Islamophobia Also Kills

Like any decent human being, I was I appalled when I heard about the murders of three young Muslims in North Carolina. The victims were 23-year-old Deah Shaddy Barakat, (a dental student at the University of North Carolina), his 21-year-old wife Yusor Mohammad, and her  19-year-old sister Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha. They were nice people. The man who was murdered, Deah Shaddy Barakat “helped provide free dental supplies to 75 homeless people in downtown Durham … [and] was due to travel to Turkey in the summer to treat children who have become refugees following the civil war.” He and his wife were raising money online to help refugee children. Last month, he tweeted: ‘It’s so freaking sad to hear people saying we should “kill Jews” or “Kill Palestinians”. As if that’s going to solve anything SMH [shaking my head].’” 

See? Good people.

Initial police reports said that “preliminary investigation indicates that the crime was motivated by an ongoing neighbor dispute over parking” and Police Chief Chris Blue stated that “We understand the concerns about the possibility that this was hate-motivated and we will exhaust every lead to determine if that is the case”. Of course, this almost no coverage in the US nation-wide media until shitstorm of criticism on Twitter and international coverage shamed them into it. People sarcastically noted that the religious affiliation of murderers only gets attention if that religion is Islam. There were also cartoons like this:

muslim deaths at UNC_thumb[1]

I agreed with the criticism and the cartoons. I thought to myself, “Watch. If the gunman was a hard right Teabagging loony Christian his faith and his politics will get left out of the mainstream US media.” Turns out I was right, but for the wrong reason. The murdered,

In this case, the shooter had no religious affiliation, although he was born into a family and community that was at minimum “culturally Christian” . The man who killed them, Craig Stephen Hicks, “describes himself as a vehement supporter of atheism”.  According to Hicks, he considered both Muslim and Christians equally stupid followers of the same mythical deity, yet the only people he murdered were Muslims. Why? Why were their lives worth less than a parking space? Can the omnipresent hate speech against Muslims NOT have played a part in the dehumanization of these three young people? Hasn’t the fact that radical Atheists have discussed Muslims in ways that make them seem less than real people inspired one of the fringe wackadoddles to kill?

Radical atheists attack Islam with the same vigor with which antiemetic bigots attack Jews.  Bill Maher has publically worried that there are too many Muslims nowadays and that  if someone doesn’t do something about their spread then they will take over the Western world. Maher frequently insists Islam is more violent and worse than other religions as well. Sam Harris attacks moderate Muslims as more dangerous than extremists, decries Muslims in the strongest language possible, and says that the Islamic religion is the “mother lode” of bad theistic ideas, and yet complains with a straight face that people unfairly accuse him of Islamophobia. Sam Harris devotes himself to revealing the “reality” about Islam like any other zealot with a cause, saying that you “could hardly ask for a better example of religious dogmatism and its pseudo-morality eclipsing basic, human goodness” than that of a moderate Muslim taking offense at attacks upon his or her faith. Being  offended is exactly the same thing as shooting people because they disagree with you, apparently.

Maher and Harris aren’t alone. The atheist movement has been quick to defend the views of Maher and Harris. Many atheists have publically gone “on the defensive, not taking kindly to criticism of [Maher and Harris’s] flawed logic and bold bigotry though they have received a lot of support from the far-right, including Fox News.”

Atheists often boast that you never see atheists going around killing people over religion. It is one of their central arguments about why religion is a bad idea across the board. Many atheists, who are good people and some of whom who are good friends, are practically smug about the fact that their “team” doesn’t do inquisitions and jihads. Apparently the violent actions of the anti-theistic communist government in Russia that executed priests and other ‘dissidents’ doesn’t count, but okay whatever.  However, now that an atheist has gunned down three Muslims for the flimsiest of excuses, atheists can no longer enjoy the illusion that their anti-religion rises above the violent was of religion. It turns out hate speech can be just as deadly when used by atheists. Fringes of ANY team will slaughter innocent people who were dehumanized by rhetoric and thus easier to kill.

Bill Maher and Sam Harris both blame religion for violence because of its message to believers. Then, by their own logic,  the death of three young Muslims is on them because of the message they send out to their fellow ideologists about Islam.

Posted in I've been thinking too much, irony set on "stun", Jesus loves you but I think you are an asshat, racism, shit I think y'all should know, victim blaming | 2 Comments

Stitch and Her Little Friend

Stitch drew a picture for her Daddy the other day. Behold:

komodo_dragon

What you see before you is a komodo dragon wearing sweat bands and headphones (it likes to stay in shape, I guess).

Stitch told her Daddy that this particular komodo dragon was her invisible friend. Moreover, the komodo dragon will bite anyone who prevents Stitch from playing on the XBox. Stitch sadly informed him that such a person would be tragically poisoned by komodo dragon spit because that person did not let her play XBox. 

Subtlety, thy name is Stitch.

Sweet Babou pointed out that biting people with poisonous (it’s venomous, and it was all I could do not to jump in at that point) spit was not a very nice thing to do.

Stitch just shrugged and said, “Yeah, I know.” It was clear that she had washed her hands of the whole thing and that if someone got a poison (venomous!) spit bite on his leg because he had denied his daughter XBox then that wasn’t HER problem. She could hardly be held responsible for the consequences of that person’s failure to adhere to the basic rules the komodo dragon had laid down.

My daughter has spontaneously reinvented and refined the Somebody Else’s Problem field, y’all.

Posted in daughters, I like this, dammit., motherhood | 2 Comments

Blatant Emotional Manipulation on Behalf of a Friend

My friend Sandy James is a teacher and writes  books. Her husband has cancer and almost died of sepsis recently. Medical bills are the #1 cause of bankruptcies in the United States (but at least we are not “burdened” with universal health care like every other industrialized nation on earth!) and she is terrified at the way they are poling up already.

Sandy’s books are good but like most authors her books are a small source of supplemental income. She needs it to be larger source if she’s not going to get flattened by the medical bills. At the very least she needs it to be a bigger trickle of money than it is now.

It is for this reason that I am pimping her books today. This is her author page listing all her books on Amazon in the USA: http://www.amazon.com/Sandy-James/e/B002BLZOFW/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1423182382&sr=1-1 and in the UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_2?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=sandy%20james.   The kindle version of her books cost as little as $.99 and never more than $3.99. Her paperback copies are quite reasonably priced as well.

If you read romance novels, please buy one  or more of hers. If you don’t read romance novels, buy one anyway because you should broaden your genre horizons. I’m told they also make excellent gifts.

You can be a good human being a get a good book at the same time. You should go for it.

Posted in health, reviews, shit I think y'all should know | 4 Comments