Despicable Him

I’ve been binge watching Game of Thrones. It’s probably one of the best series I’ve ever seen, right up there with The Handmaid’s Tale, This is Us, Northern Exposure, and Six Feet Under. But at the end of each episode, I’m always left stunned with how despicable some human beings can be.

I try to comfort myself with the fact that this series is a work of fiction. (Obviously. I mean, there are dragons.) People can’t really be that horrible, can they?

But I know better. People can suck. I’ve seen it firsthand.

Whenever I have any doubt about the depths to which people can sink, all I have to do is remember a guy I knew decades ago, whom I’ll call John Smith for the purposes of this post. I never liked him. He gave off this selfish, hostile vibe, and he’d blatantly lie to get whatever it was he happened to want. That was bad enough, but then I learned something really horrible about him.

His wife was pregnant, and one day John Smith drives up to the house with this ratty little trailer that he proceeds to park in the back yard. Naturally, his wife wanted to know what was going on, since she hadn’t been consulted. Boy, did she ever find out.

It turns out that the trailer was there to house John Smith’s girlfriend, who also happened to be pregnant. Of course this came as quite a shock to the wife. I have no idea why she put up with such treatment, but the girlfriend lived there for many months, and then she had the baby before the wife had hers.

When the girlfriend had her baby, it was a boy. And John Smith decided to call the child John Smith Jr. Take that, wife!

A few weeks later, the wife had her baby. It, too, was a boy. Guess what John Smith named the child?

Yup. John Smith Jr.

This, to me, is proof positive that humans can be selfish, cruel, thoughtless, and evil. (I wonder, too, about the passivity of the women in this story, but that’s a perplexing tangent that I don’t have the energy to pursue at the moment, and I have no idea what either one had to do to survive. Putting up with this demon seems like way too high a price to pay, but that’s me.)

I hope neither John Smith Jr. carried on his father’s legacy in any way. They’d be adults now. I hope they realize that their father is a despicable, misogynistic, waste of human flesh. I also hope that they turned into decent, upstanding men in spite of that.


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“He’s Always Been Good to Me”

After Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony, all these people came out of the woodwork to say how nice Brett Kavanaugh had always been to them. I’m glad to hear it. But what has that got to do with her testimony?

It’s the same after someone becomes a spree killer. “He was always so quiet. He paid his rent on time. He used to hold the door open for me.”

Humans are complex, folks. The fact that Kavanaugh volunteered at a soup kitchen does not absolve him from any crimes he may also have committed. And it certainly does not mean that he couldn’t possibly have committed crimes. Character references only get you so far. Charles Manson got more fan mail than any other prisoner in American history. That doesn’t make him a Boy Scout.

I’m really glad that Brett Kavanaugh isn’t the devil incarnate. I hope he has many opportunities to help little old ladies cross the street. We need that in this world.

But do I believe that at least once in his life, his did a horrible, unforgivable, unacceptable thing, and because of that a woman’s life was changed for the worse? Yes. Yes, I do.

Until we make it crystal clear that such behavior is unacceptable, that all the soup kitchens on earth won’t make up for it, there will be no reducing the amount of sexual assault in this society.

Boys must be taught that no means no. It’s that simple. Even my dog understands it.

And just so we’re clear, a yes that changes into a no is also a no. And an intoxicated yes is a no. It’s about respect. Respect for others and respect for yourself. If you can’t follow those simple rules, you should expect consequences, no matter how nice you are most of the time. Sorry to disappoint you.

I’m reminded of something my late boyfriend used to say. “You can pour all the syrup on it that you want, but that don’t make it a pancake.”


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Thought Experiment—An Invitation to the White House

Sometimes, when bored, I like to play a little game. I call it What If. Basically, it’s a thought experiment. What would you do in various situations?

This time, after reading the recent Op-Ed about the chaos in the White House, I thought, “Oooh, Trump’s head is going to explode! I’d love to be a fly on the wall for that!”

But would I, really? What would I do if I were invited to the White House during this insane administration? It would be like entering the heart of Mordor to visit Sauron. I’m not sure I’d have the intestinal fortitude for that.

I’ve been in the presence of evil a time or two, and it has shaken me to the very core of my being. Something about looking into the eye of someone who is completely devoid of a moral compass leaves me feeling like anything could happen, and I know I wouldn’t like it.

The tension in that building must be palpable. The morale must be at rock bottom, and the paranoia must be as thick as chocolate pudding. I’d probably get an instant migraine, just like I do when I attend a wedding for a couple that I know won’t last. It’s how my body reacts to the fact that things are about to get real and there’s absolutely nothing I can do about it.

In almost any other time in history, I’d have considered being allowed to visit the White House to be an exceptional honor, even if I hadn’t voted for its resident-in-chief. (I did take a tour of it once, and even that was exciting.) It would be a distinct privilege to be able to voice my opinion to a sitting president.

But who am I kidding? This one wouldn’t listen. It would make me sick being in the same room with him. I’d actually be afraid to be alone with him. And I wouldn’t want to lend legitimacy to this farce with my humble presence.

So I’d probably decline the invitation and say I was doing so out of protest. But it would be more out of self-preservation on a spiritual level. It doesn’t pay to speak the name of evil, let alone shake its hand.


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The Current State

Okay, so I have several theories about our current Grabber-in-Chief, and each one is scarier than the last. Specifically:

  • He’s a little boy who delights in kicking ant hills so he can watch all the little ants scurry around in panic and fury. Why else would he change his views so radically, from one moment to the next, without any reasonable explanation? Even his own staff does not know what the heck he’s going to do, or who he will fire, next.

  • He is so far gone, mentally, that he doesn’t have a clue about what he’s doing. He’s completely unhinged. He’s loopy. Mad as a hatter. He’s off his nut. Brace yourself, folks, because there’s nobody flying this here plane.

  • He’s the purest, most distilled form of stupid on the face of the earth. He makes W look like a genius. He has absolutely no concept of the consequences of his actions, and is utterly incapable of seeing that he needs to rely on expert advice. Never before has this country been expected to bask in the murky waters of such unprecedented incompetence.

  • He is evil incarnate. He doesn’t care who or what he destroys, as long as the end result is personal profit. He has no moral compass whatsoever. We are doomed.

Duck and cover, people, because my worst fear is that the real answer is: all of the above.

mushroom cloud

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Malala Vs. Trump

I am always fascinated by that moment when two people interact. It’s like an intersection of fate. Each brings different things to the table; different life experience, different perspectives. In every encounter, it is almost as if another entity is briefly formed as a result of the mixing of two unique individuals.

If I could witness just one encounter, I would love to see Malala Yousafzai meet with Donald Trump. Talk about a study in contrasts. Malala is one of my personal heroes. She’s only 19, but she is still who I want to be when I grow up. She is intelligent, dignified, and a pure embodiment of what is good and decent in this world.

Trump, on the other hand… well, I think I’ve made my feelings crystal clear about him in past posts. A meeting of these two would be the closest one could get to good vs. evil outside of the movie theater. I’d be craving popcorn.

It would be a lot more enjoyable to have a ringside seat for this epic meeting if Trump had a conscience and a moral compass. If so, he’d probably turn into a pillar of salt. That would be enough to make me go on a low sodium diet.

At the very least, he wouldn’t be able to look Malala in the eye. This amazing young lady isn’t someone you can grab. She’s not someone you can discount, either. She has seen and done too much.

In fact, she has more life experience than Trump has ever had while sitting in his gilded tower, spewing his hatred and racism. Her biggest claim to fame isn’t some reality show. It’s real life.

Further, I don’t think Trump would be comfortable in the presence of Malala’s quiet dignity. Trump is neither quiet nor dignified. He’s all bluster and braggadocio. Malala would probably politely listen while he held forth about himself, but she wouldn’t be particularly impressed.

In contrast, every word Malala would speak would be about others. She would be talking about the importance of education to someone who is functionally illiterate. She’s also about truth and compassion, which are words that Trump can barely pronounce.

Malala is also a Muslim that Trump would be hard-pressed to turn into a caricature of violence. Her very existence counters his entire belief system. Malala could very well be the bucket of water that we throw on the witch that is Trump. He would melt away to nothing. He has no substance.

Unfortunately, he doesn’t have a conscience or a moral compass, so he’d probably say something condescending, dismiss her out of hand, cut the meeting short, and never realize he had just crossed paths with one of the most amazing people of our time.

I’ll leave you now with Malala Yousafzai’s statement on President Trump’s latest executive order on refugees:

“I am heartbroken that today President Trump is closing the door on children, mothers and fathers fleeing violence and war. I am heartbroken that America is turning its back on a proud history of welcoming refugees and immigrants — the people who helped build your country, ready to work hard in exchange for a fair chance at a new life.

I am heartbroken that Syrian refugee children, who have suffered through six years of war by no fault of their own, are singled-out for discrimination.

I am heartbroken for girls like my friend Zaynab, who fled wars in three countries — Somalia, Yemen and Egypt — before she was even 17. Two years ago she received a visa to come to the United States. She learned English, graduated high school and is now in college studying to be a human rights lawyer.

Zaynab was separated from her little sister when she fled unrest in Egypt. Today her hope of being reunited with her precious sister dims.

In this time of uncertainty and unrest around the world, I ask President Trump not to turn his back on the world’s most defenseless children and families.”


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Poking Fun at Hitler

So I’ve been hearing this rumor about Hitler having a very tiny weenie all over the internet for the past few days. My gut reaction was to be thrilled. Not because I think that size is important, or that it says anything about a person’s manhood or sexuality or value as a human being. It mainly made my day because I know that a lot of men take that sort of thing personally, and the thought of upsetting someone like Hitler, even if only from the great beyond, makes me very happy indeed.

I started to write a vicious blog entry about it, but something in the back of my mind made me hesitate. I couldn’t quite nail down what was making me uncomfortable about the topic. I just knew that something wasn’t quite right about dancing on Hitler’s tiny little phallus.

And then it dawned on me. Here it is. First of all, aside from the fact that there’s no real proof, in this day and age we should be more mature and more enlightened. Poking fun at a medical condition isn’t right. There are good people in this world, wonderful people, who suffer from penile hypospadias. That doesn’t make them less manly, if in fact they want to be manly. That doesn’t automatically mean they will be monsters, or even hold a grudge. That doesn’t mean they are all mentally warped into making epic decisions that will devastate generations of human beings.

The fact is, by singling someone out for ridicule based on something over which he has no control, I become no better than that evil man. And I genuinely want to be able to call him a pathetic human being without people thinking I’m taking a jab at sexuality in general.

Besides, the mustache alone is ripe enough for parody. And he had plenty of control over that. (Seriously. What the hell was he thinking?)

So I’ll take the high road and not discuss his wee wee anymore. Small, medium, or large, it has long since converted to dust. He can continue to roast marshmallows in hell without any further input from me.


Witch Bottles, Desiccated Cats, Concealed Shoes, and Witch Balls

I always find it a little disconcerting when I discover that something exists in the world that up to this point I knew nothing about. That’s the height of arrogance, I know. It’s crazy to expect to know everything. But it always makes me wonder what else I’ve been missing all along.

Case in point: witch bottles. I can’t even begin to tell you how I came across this topic. It was at the end of a crazy internet surfing expedition designed to keep me awake during an unanticipated graveyard shift. I remember that the original google inquiry was “Crows and Facial Recognition” for a previous blog entry, but how I got from there to witch bottles is a mystery. I doubt I could retrace my path if my life depended on it.

Anyway, witch bottles were very popular in the 17th through 19th centuries. Apparently they were used to ward off witchcraft. People would fill these bottles with a variety of things, including (my apologies in advance if you’re reading this over breakfast) urine, menstrual blood and human hair. Then they’d add sharp objects like needles, thorns and nails. In theory, witches would be attracted to your “essence”, enter the bottle, and be impaled forever on the sharp objects. People would seal these bottles tightly, and then bury them, often upside down, under their fireplaces. In later years the fluid of choice seems to have been holy water. Thank goodness.

After reading up on this bizarre tradition, that took me to another creepy topic; that of desiccated cats. It seems Europeans and Americans used to board these up in the walls of their houses to either bring good luck or ward off evil. It makes me shiver to think about these poor cats. I couldn’t intentionally kill one even if it meant bad luck would rain down upon me for life.

From there I went on to concealed shoes. Archaeologists have found thousands of them in the walls of buildings, and they assume they were placed there either to ward off evil or encourage fertility, or perhaps as an offering to a household deity. If you think we’re less superstitious now, think again. People still tie shoes to the bumpers of newlywed’s cars, which gives credence to the odd connection between shoes and fertility.

But of all these things, the one that unsettled me the most was the witch ball, because I’ve actually seen a whole bunch of these hanging in people’s windows or placed in gardens. I wonder how many of these people have them without knowing their mystical origins, because up until I wrote this, I just assumed these round glass spheres were simply pretty baubles. But no. Originally they were meant to entice evil spirits and capture them, or ward off the evil eye, or perhaps prevent a witch from entering the area because they’re not supposed to be able to abide their own reflection.

Funny to think that people are keeping talismans that many don’t even realize they have. Even funnier to think that in this day and age, people could be still displaying them for their original purpose. I’m glad I’m not superstitious like that. Knock on wood. Cross my heart and hope to die.


Good God, He’s at it Again.

Just when you think that Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty can’t wander any further out on the lunatic fringe, he does just that. This time he ranted not about homosexuals or AIDS or hippies (Are there enough hippies left to rant about? Apparently so.) but what he appears to consider the most evil creatures of all: atheists.

It seems that this silly, ignorant old man equates atheism with a lack of morality. As far as I can tell, his message boiled down to this: without a belief in a judging, Christian god, you cannot be afraid of consequences, and therefore can run wild and give in to your baser instincts.

But here’s what really gave me the willies about his speech: he showed the world exactly what his instincts would be, and even for someone as desensitized as little ol’ me, who is a true crime documentary addict, his scenario was chilling. I won’t go into detail about it. You can read it here if you’re so inclined. But suffice it to say that his violent, sadistic story would make the most diehard serial killer gasp. It takes a special kind of twisted imagination to come up with a plot like that. I wouldn’t want to run into this guy in a dark alley, just in case his god was off duty that day.

I’m not an atheist, but neither am I a Christian. I have never equated my moral compass with my spirituality. In fact, this recent study shows, and history bears it out, that religion doesn’t make people more moral.

I always strive to do the right thing, not because I fear going to hell, but because, well, it’s the right thing to do. I don’t behave decently out of fear. I behave decently because I’d like to think that others will do the same. Otherwise we could not have a functioning society. You can believe in the golden rule without believing that the bible is the voice of god.

If anything, I think that the more you are taught to question, the less dogmatic you are, the more moral you will be. If from birth you are force fed the concept that there is only one right way, and all other ways are wrong, it would be so much easier to stray from a path that you consider to be righteous, and once you’ve done that, once you decide that you’re a bad person, all bets are off. On the other hand, if you are taught to think for yourself, to consider your options, and to realize how your actions will impact those around you, you will be much more apt to care about the consequences of your behavior.

Yes, there is evil in this world. It spans across all religions and every philosophy. Some people are just sick, and I think Phil Robertson’s latest speech demonstrates that he’s one of those people. That’s all there is to it.

Phil Robertson

Human Force Fields

Recently, an employee with a company closely related to mine retired and I kid you not, we all felt as if we’d taken off a shoe that was two sizes too small. The man was toxic, hostile, anal, and completely evil. I’ve never in my life met anyone who was so universally disliked. The day he left, most of us were humming, “Ding dong, the witch is dead” under our breaths. And the mood is so much lighter ever since then.

I’m sure everyone has come across someone like that at least once in their lives. Also, chances are we’ve all met someone who can light up a room just by entering it, and someone else who can just make you feel calm. Certain people we like right away, and others instantly irritate us. Sometimes you don’t realize what a negative or positive influence a person has upon your life until he or she is gone.

I believe we each have a certain force field that we project outward. Some of it is natural and beyond our control. Either you have charisma or you don’t.

Part of it, though, is well within our purview. No one has to be a horse’s ass. It’s a choice. I will say however, in the defense of  equine posteriors the world over (most of whom seem to beat a path to my door), that the vast majority of them appear clueless as to how they are perceived. But that’s really no excuse. There are right ways and wrong ways to behave. Everyone should be treated with respect.

I honestly believe that the more positive people out there are ever mindful of their impact upon those around them. That’s the key. Unless you’re capable of thinking about how your behavior affects others, you cannot possibly aspire to be the best individual you can.

People with low self-esteem honestly don’t think they impact others. It would never occur to a selfish person to even take others into consideration. And inherently angry people are so focused on their rage that it doesn’t occur to them that their acid is spilling on those who are forced to live and work with them.

What kind of force field are you putting out? Your influence extends far beyond your physical body. Don’t be the type of person whom others are happy or relieved to see go away.


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Government Conspiracy: The Great Oxymoron

I have a basic philosophical difference with someone I love very much. He thinks that large scale governmental, or even global, conspiracies are possible. I on the other hand, think that’s doolally with a capital doo.

I suppose it boils down to which you think is more powerful: government evil or government stupidity. Having worked for the government, I can assure you that it will be stupidity every single time. Oh, they’d like to conspire, believe you me, and sometimes they’ll get away with things for a little while, but they are not capable of that level of organization and overall thought control in the long term.

Governments, after all, are composed of nothing more than masses of individuals, each with their own opinions and moral code. Many like to gossip. Some like to profit from insider information. Some want the spotlight. The vast majority have their eyes glued to the clock, looking forward to going home to their families. And then you have those pesky malcontents and whistle-blowers to contend with.

And in this era of social media, camera phones, satellite imagery, and traffic cameras, it’s really rather impossible to hide inconvenient things like the construction of concentration camps and the digging of mass graves.

The truth will out.

To pull off a conspiracy, you have to be certain that every individual involved thinks the way you want them to think and acts the way you want them to act. For the rest of their lives. Think about it. We don’t even have confidence that that can occur for even a few seconds.

Next time you’re at a traffic light, consider this: When the light turns green, every single person in line should be able to instantly accelerate and be perfectly fine. Like train cars, if we all move at the same speed at the same time, we would not crash into each other. But no. We don’t all instantly accelerate. The first one goes, there’s a slight pause, then the next one goes, and so on, to the point where there is a substantial delay if you are at the end of the line. Why is this? Well, duh. We can’t be confident that everyone will have the same reaction speed, the same engine power, and that some doofus isn’t in the middle of texting his girlfriend.  (“I love u, too!” “No! I love u more! <3” )

It’s the same with conspiracies. To think that human beings are automatons who will march in perfect lockstep one hundred percent of the time is to set entirely too much stock in the abilities of the human race. More than two people cannot keep a secret.

My friend has an admirably high opinion of humanity’s ability to function like a colony of bees. I, on the other hand, believe that most of us are just trying to get through life in one piece. Which one of us is more cynical? Hard to say.


“I have come to the conclusion that my subjective account of my own motivation is largely mythical on almost all occasions. I don’t know why I do things.”

–  J.B.S. Haldane


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