Monday, 30 July 2012

07:29 – Barbara and her sister organized a party yesterday for their dad’s 90th birthday. They rented a meeting room at a local convention center and had the food catered. I shot a few minutes of video. Barbara shot lots of stills. Our friends Paul and Mary were there, and Paul was kind enough to bring along his camera and shoot stills as well. So today I’ll transfer a few GB of still images to the hard drive for Barbara to select among, as well as start on transferring and editing the video.


17:13 – I’ve mentioned it many times before, but, thanks to Barbara, here it is in Living Color. The Mary Chervenak Fist of Death. Mary pretends to think I’m teasing her when I tell her that I fear her anger, but I’m entirely serious. I mean, look at the size difference. I’m barely twice her size. If I were ten times her size, I’d still flee in terror when she threatens the Fist of Death.

33 thoughts on “Monday, 30 July 2012”

  1. Hi Bob, Congrats to your FIL. 90 is quite the accomplishment, even nowadays. Three of my grandparents made it to 87 (the other was 59). I am 52 and 90 seems a impossibly long way off from here.

    One of my wife’s grandmothers made it to 91. She was driving and taking care of her housebound younger aunt until 6 weeks before she passed with a sudden brain cancer.

  2. Yes, 90 is pretty impressive even now. Of course, Barbara’s dad’s a Marine, and they’re tough.

  3. I just hope my mum makes it to 90. She’s 17 months short and has had three falls in the last week. The last one put her in hospital and she was given morphine…

  4. “The Mary Chervenak Fist of Death. Mary pretends to think I’m teasing her when I tell her that I fear her anger, but I’m entirely serious. I mean, look at the size difference. I’m barely twice her size. If I were ten times her size, I’d still flee in terror when she threatens the Fist of Death.”

    Amazingly enough, you’re not looking at Mary’s chest. Did you Photoshop the photo or was the threat of the Fist of Death enough?

  5. On a completely different topic, I see the Prevaricator in Chief has (again) officially embraced racism, this time by creating the “African-American Education Office”. Worried about the black turnout in November, presumably…

  6. On a completely different topic, I see the Prevaricator in Chief has (again) officially embraced racism, this time by creating the “African-American Education Office”. Worried about the black turnout in November, presumably…

    Worse, there are reports that the President is advocating racial balance in the application of school discipline. So that if 50% of a school’s students are white, half of the students who get suspended are white. How students are disciplined should be determined by student behavior and effectiveness of the discipline.

    My best friend received more discipline in elementary school than I did because he misbehaved more than I did. Nobody cared about the fact that his family was poorer than mine or any other politically correct bovine excrement. The only thing that mattered is how we behaved.

  7. Ah, the great liberal myth that equal opportunity invariably results in equal outcomes.

  8. I can picture a scenario right now in a school somewhere; a dozen black kids beat and rob another kid and get nothing. A white kid snaps a rubber band at another white kid and is tasered, arrested, jailed and then expelled. I’m guessing this is the sort of ‘justice’ O’Bozo and his enablers and supporters would like to see; punish the current generation for the sins of generations two-hundred years ago.

    The sad thing here is that Mittens could get in and nothing much would change in any area, except that yet another stupid overseas war would be far more likely.

    Well, Jerry says to despair is a sin. I believe that and will try to remember it, but some days it is HARD.

  9. I don’t believe that totally fictitious sin nonsense, made up by a bunch of guys who wanted control of your life, but nevertheless, despairing is a pretty useless activity.

  10. Satan is especially entertained and amused by those who do not believe in him or in sin. And stereotyping the vast majority of honest and faithful Christian clergy as “a bunch of guys who wanted control of…” our lives is in itself fiction. Despite the plethora of nooz media accounts which seem to indicate that every last swinging dick was busy porking little boys. Utter bullshit and people who swallow all that without question and then repeat it ad infinitum, ad nauseum, ought to know better.

    It is to invite despair when one hears this all the time, as though itself Holy Writ.

    Like: global warming; the efficacy of affirmative action; the wonderfulness of Democracy and Diversity; the necessity of the State from womb to tomb; etc., etc.

  11. I agree with both OFD and Chuck. (Yep, The Great Uniter, that’s me. You may bask in my glory.) Despair is a sin, with “sin” meaning really really unproductive waste of time and of opportunities and an insult to your own nominal worth as a human being, but there is no Great Cosmological Platypus judging us and our acts.

  12. I would just like to say that if by chance anyone here is visited by an entity appearing as a great cosmological platypus or a flying spaghetti monster, those are most likely NOT manifestations of the Holy Trinity as described in Christian belief and Scripture. In fact, I would be very wary of such entities, at about the same level of alarm generated by the use of a ouija board. Some of us may remember how exactly young Regan got invaded by the demon in “The Exorcist.” The demon did not enter her of its own volition entirely; she invited it. That movie, by the way, is theologically correct and based on a composite of true incidents.

  13. Now you’ve done it, OFD. You left the capitalization off of Great Cosmological Platypus. Now you’re going to get smitten. No, that’s not right, unless you fall in love with Him/Her/It. Smited? Smitefied? Smut? That’s it. Now you’re going to get smut.

  14. I’ve seen and heard smut before. It don’t scare me none.

    67 here in northern Vermont tonight and gorgeous weather by day so fah this week. We will be punished for this at some point.

  15. Joel Osteen told a great joke on his radio program last Sunday:

    A little girl asked her mother, “How did the human race appear?”

    The mother answered, “God made Adam and Eve and they had children, and so was all mankind made …”

    Two days later the girl asked her father the same question.

    The father answered, “Many years ago there were monkeys from which the human race evolved.”

    The confused girl returned to her mother and said, “Mom, how is it possible that you told me the human race was created by God, and Dad said they developed from monkeys?”

    The mother answered, “Well, dear, it is very simple. I told you about my side of the family and your father told you about his!”

  16. Satan is especially entertained and amused by those who do not believe in him or in sin. And stereotyping the vast majority of honest and faithful Christian clergy as “a bunch of guys who wanted control of…” our lives is in itself fiction.

    I would like to see you offer unequivocal and reproducible proof that what you say is true. Produce Satan for me so I can get, straight from the horse’s mouth, what he stands for, and what influence he believes he has over me. Oh, wait a minute: he is as fictional as Harry Potter, so you will have an impossible time doing that.

    I challenge any intermediaries’ explanations as desperately wrong—especially those who call themselves clergy. They are as phony as magicians. Nothing you have presented so far is anything more than complete reliance on the fantastical fictional writings created by priests and scribes, who worked as hard as Disney at their fiction, for it competed with others, like Pixar and Pagans, writing similar fiction with slightly different specifics, in order for them to acquire the allegiance of thought, money, and power from the masses.

    It is truly amazing—and a sad commentary—what extremes of fantasy people will accept as true, without one shred of proof.

  17. Just goes to show the power of brainwashing. Especially of brainwashing
    children, ne?

  18. We were watching an episode of Parenthood last night. One of the siblings and her husband were sitting eating breakfast with their 5-year-old daughter when a bird flew into the window and fell onto their deck. The father wanted to tell the little girl that the bird was dead. The mother thought it would upset her too much, and raised the “heaven” card. The father thought that was a bad idea, that lying to the kid was a big mistake.

    So, they put the bird in a shoebox and told the little girl they were letting the bird recover. After quite some time of lying to her about the dead bird, the father finally told her the bird had died, that death was permanent, and the bird wasn’t coming back. The little girl was upset, of course, and the mother finally couldn’t take it any longer and told the little girl that the bird had gone to “heaven”. Then they had some discussion about how the parents would die eventually, as would the little girl. The mother told the little girl that they’d all be re-united in “heaven”. It nauseated me listening to the mother lying to the little girl about something this important. Even telling her that we don’t know what happens after death but that we have absolutely no evidence that anything happens after death would have been an improvement. Instead, she lied to this little girl.

  19. As it happens, I’m reading a book called Dangerous Lies We Tell to
    Children
    . The author hasn’t yet mentioned religion, though I’m less
    than 1/3 of the way in so it may come up. I’m betting she won’t, though.
    So far the book has been reasonable in tone, observations, and
    suggestions, but very cautious.

    Years ago, when Kid#2 was small, I picked up several children’s books
    from the Freedom From Religion Foundation. The one I remember in
    particular drew comparisons between Santa and Jesus: fun, happy tale
    told to children which is eventually revealed as a lie. Kid#2 at age
    4-ish was disturbed by this. His mother told him all the usual lies
    that Christian Crutchian parents tell their children,
    and he wanted to believe those lies. I don’t know whether that
    points to a childish desire for protection and fairness and meaning,
    which many so-called adults do not grow out of, or to the power of
    brainwashing.

  20. I cannot remember an example at the moment, but both of my kids misinterpreted something I said to them when they were small, and ended up carrying the mistake into adulthood. Young kids are a voracious magnet for information, yet they do not have either the experience or developed maturity to reason correctly with that information. I agree that lying to kids, thinking they cannot handle the truth is an error that can affect them into adulthood.

    Even very young children have seen ants and bugs exterminated before their very eyes. What makes an adult believe they cannot handle the death of a bird or larger animal?

  21. Here’s my theory, and it’s just me talking out my ass. I don’t recall
    ever seeing or hearing it from a child development psychologist or
    anyone else.

    Parents lie to their children about death because the parents are
    cowards. Yes, children can comprehend that the bird isn’t coming back
    and they can handle it, but it makes them sad. The parents don’t want to
    deal with a sad child and have to explain how the world works. It’s much
    easier to tell a happy lie.

  22. Actually, I think you are quite right. Moreover, I think kids have an already in-built sense of fairness that needs to be tempered with truth, not manipulated with lies. But beyond that, adults need to deal in truth and reality, too.

    There is some very interesting research going on at Duke right now, related to people’s concept of truth, honesty, fairness, and equity. For several years, Dan Ariely, Professor of Behavioral Economics, has been conducting research into how people react in different situations with different pressures regarding truth and honesty. A lot of it reinforces what I have believed for most of my life—things like punishment, of any degree, NOT being a deterrent to crime; also, even slight inducements to act illegally, pushing a large group of people over the edge to do the unlawful. The truth of these results suggest changes that need to be made in society. No matter how much people wish that punishments would lower crime, that will not make it happen. And I have long contended that making examples of more-or-less random individuals, is the height of inequity and unfairness to that person, because their excessive suffering will NOT stop the transgressions of others. But since the early ’70’s, the US justice system has allowed lawyers to argue that deterrence works, and lie to juries about its efficacy. At least there is some concrete research that is reinforcing the truth. Other recent studies of the incarcerated are backing up Ariely’s work.

    Some of Ariely’s recent studies show that—regardless of what people may publicly say—most have a sense of fairness that exceeds even the level of wealth redistribution that Sweden employs. Large groups of randomized US subjects have chosen levels of redistribution that are far in excess of what the US currently employs. That is why I say it is useless to fight the tidal wave that is coming. Like it or not, the future of the US is going to be in duplicating the current European experience.

  23. The wife and I were talking last night how to deal with the legal aspects of gay marriage and polygamy (that will be next). She read an article recently that recommended that all marriages be treated as partnerships. We already have a good legal definition of partnerships which should suffice. Needless to say, children, spousal support, common property ownership and inheritance will all have to be adjusted in order to fit this brave new world of ours. Won’t those battles be nice and calm? Wouldn’t you like to be the first to experience one?

    I just got through reading a book (Leviathan Wakes) where a guy was raised in the future USA by 5 Dads and 3 Moms. It was glowingly presented as a great situation for children but I have my doubts.

    However, as far as the governments go, all people should be treated as individuals and not as spouses for taxes and benefits. I believe that many of the EU nations already have implemented this (otherwise known as the nanny state).

    I would recommend that the USA stay as far away from this as possible but the train seems to be gathering speed. Already, many of the 20+ somethings are choosing to not get married and just shack up. In my experience, the man tends to be unstable and leave the relationship frequently when they are just shacking up. Sometimes the woman leaves instead, it just depends.

  24. Not to worry. It will all be so much better when all of humanity is persuaded, finally, that there is no God, all of religion is malarkey, no Satan, no angels or demons (and by the way, if one believes in angels, one must, perforce, also believe in demons), and the human race can continue to strive mightily, freed from all this pernicious evil, to its glorious future. A wonderful world of science and reason, where people just…well…just all learn to just….well….get along. Can’t we all just get along? Cue up usual retorts of all the massacres and wars, etc. ginned up by religions.

    Wait—did I say not to worry? Silly me! Either way we should be very worried; if none of it exists what the fuck is there to stop anybody from doing anything they like to anybody they like? What determines right and wrong? Is there, in fact, such a thing as natural law? Free will? Or is it all just malarkey, dreamed up by demented priests and witch doctors all messed up on shrooms and smoke? I guess we might find out.

    OTOH, religion, God, Satan, et. al., are not going away anytime soon, despite the media’s breathless and masturbatory assertions that atheism is growing in leaps and bounds, doncha know, and soon the whole country will be that way and won’t it be grand???

    So be worried; in the first place if there is nothing after all, and people realize that. Be worried also if religion continues on its merry paths around the world, because not all believers are as benign, peaceful and civil as, say, contemporary Roman Catholics, Buddhists, B’a’hai, et. al. In fact, some varieties of Christian belief will probably be quite perturbed at someone’s lack of same and seek to do them damage accordingly if they be not converted.

  25. I lived pretty deep into the former East Germany, where religion was absent for so many generations, that there is not even a curiosity about it among the people there, and definitely no conversation about it. Never met one person who lived there, who felt life was any more evil in no-religion East than in the religious West. In fact, there were a great many who felt things got worse after the fall of the Wall. The single biggest complaint about life in the East was that free travel was nearly impossible there, and the reunification at last allowed them to travel wherever, whenever.

    Life without religion in the US would a LOT less restrictive, IMO. Maybe we would see a rise in naturist interests, instead of having busybodies calling authorities every time they saw some one dressed (or not) differently than they are.

  26. Well, I think guys of our age should *definitely* keep their clothes on in public. Except for adonisses like me… 🙂

  27. Chuck wrote:

    “A lot of it reinforces what I have believed for most of my life—things like punishment, of any degree, NOT being a deterrent to crime…”

    Believe me when I say that I *AM* deterred by fear of punishment for certain crimes I *used* to commit.

    In the Eighties I would routinely drive way way over the speed limit. Like 160 – even 170 – km/h in an 80 zone, 160+ for hours on end across the Hay Plain between Canberra and Adelaide. I’d do that for hours on end. Why? Because I was young and thought I was bullet proof, and I didn’t fear the penalty for speeding.

    The penalties have increased very significantly since then, and nowadays I could lose my license for years for doing that, get a fine into the thousands of dollars, perhaps even get a room for a while in one of Her Majesty’s less salubrious hotels.

    Partly I don’t speed now because I actively dislike it and get nervous at even 10 km/h over the limit. But trust me when I say that the greatly increased penalties had a lot to do with it.

  28. I have not read any of Ariely’s books yet, but he maintains that his research shows those who are normally law-abiding and would not commit a crime anyway, feel very threatened by punishments, while the people who have no compunction about breaking the law, are completely undeterred by the threat of punishment. He claims that explains why so many people believe punishment is a deterrence—because so many people who would never commit a crime anyway, are scared to death of the punishment.

    That applies to me, because I was never tempted to cross streets in Berlin against the walk lights, in part because I was terrified they would take away my driver’s license—even though I very rarely ever drove. (That was one part of German life I did not agree with. Unlike in the US, Germany often dishes out punishments that are not related to the crime. Jaywalk, and they will take away your auto driver’s license. That just does not happen in the US.)

    As for you…I guess in final analysis, there just is no accounting for you.

  29. I jaywalk without blinking if I think it’s safe. But not if cops are around. I’ll wait obediently on the kerb till I get a green light or the cops are gone.

    One of my friends, who’s been in prison for assault, says that people are deterred by the likelihood of being caught, not the extent of the punishment. So people will jaywalk if there are no cops or cameras around even if the penalty for doing so is slow torture to death. But if they know there is a high probability of being caught they won’t.

    Yes, I know I am unique… 🙂

  30. You have a good point. The mentality between basically law-abiding folk and the basically criminal is very different; it’s hard for one side to really understand the other. Rules that work for the one group may be counterproductive for the other. I am reminded of the old saying “locks keep honest people honest”. A lock serves to remind the law-abiding that they ought to remain so. On the other hand, a criminal will simply bash in a window.

    Getting back to OFD’s screed: “Either way we should be very worried; if none of it exists what the fuck is there to stop anybody from doing anything they like to anybody they like? What determines right and wrong? Is there, in fact, such a thing as natural law? Free will? Or is it all just malarkey, dreamed up by demented priests and witch doctors all messed up on shrooms and smoke?”

    I think classes in ethics have a place in every high school curriculum. Despite what religious folks say, lack of religion does not lead to despicable behavior. Homo sapiens seems to be a fundamentally social creature, wired to behave within cultural norms. What does not happen – and should – is to have an open discussion on what those norms are, or should be.

    Take the UK and France, with their current problems with Islamists wanting to invoke Sharia. What is missing is a simple, explicit statement by the governmental leaders that Sharia is counter to essential principles of the UK and French societies, and will not be tolerated. However, this requires said leaders to know what those principles might be, and to be able (and willing) to publicly articulate them.

  31. Making jaywalking a criminal act is stupid. You want to stop jaywalking? Pay a $25 bounty to the car driver that mows one down. Said car driver is responsible for their own damage, of course. Roo bars would quickly become the norm around the world, rather than just Australia, and pedestrians would soon be huddling around corners waiting patiently for the light to change. The only people jaywalking would be people committing suicide, or thrill seekers.

    We do punishments all wrong, most of them are nothing more than the cost of doing business. Which is why I support Capital Punishments for heinous crimes (like stealing from taxpayers…). I don’t give a flying fuck about deterrence, I want an end to repeat offenders for rape and murder (and stealing from taxpayers).

  32. Well, taking the research into account, I think you have it spot on—the only way to get rid of hardened serial repeat offenders is to put them out of our misery.

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