Irritable Blog Syndrome

I’m having a really, really, really bad day. (Well, technically I’m not. I probably wrote this two weeks ago. Today I’m more likely to be back to my cheery self. But you get the picture.)

Today (the day I wrote this, once upon a time, whatever works), I had to deal with someone who is morally and ethically repugnant, two-faced, slimy, self-serving, and deluded. Naturally, that put me into a foul mood.

And then, already feeling foul, I had to deal with someone so steeped in ignorance that she was attacking me on Facebook because I believe the science about COVID-19 rather than her Fox news talking points. And then she went on to say that a vaccine is not going to help. Give me strength.

She probably also thinks that the sun revolves around the earth, as a horrifying 26 percent of Americans do. Heaven help us. I am so sick to death of stupidity. (And if you’re one of those believers, get thee away from this blog! I am in no mood to deal with you. There’s only so much I can take today.)

There’s a reason that “sick” and “tired” go hand in hand. I’m exhausted and in despair over the idiocy of some people. And they’re the very people who will never be enlightened.

And that makes it really hard for me to blog without sounding whiny and frustrated. Does anybody really want to hear me complain as they eat their Post Toasties? Highly freakin’ doubtful.

And so there you have it. Stupid people are the root cause of Irritable Blog Syndrome. I hate that stupidity has such a strangle hold on my writing.

So now I need to find a cure for stupidity. No pressure there. Better people than I have tried.

You’d think that education would be the solution. But stupidity seems to be the most education-resistant disease that has ever plagued mankind. I have nothing left within me to fight it.

I am just so tired.

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What Does God Think of Climate Change?

Always supposing you believe climate change is real (and I do), I have a thought experiment for you. If you believe in God, then what do you think God thinks about what we are doing to our planet? I mean, we’re taking this amazing gift, and we’re basically pooping all over it. My guess is she or it or he would be mighty disappointed in us. If I were God, I’d be totally rethinking this whole “free will” thing. Because we are definitely screwing things up.

Or maybe the old testament got it right, and what we have is a vengeful, fear-inducing God. If that’s the case, then climate change is some form of punishment, and we better start paying attention. The time for basking in our blissful ignorance is long past.

Here’s an even bigger thought experiment for you: Even if you don’t believe in God and/or climate change, please explain to me why it doesn’t make sense to live a green and clean life? What are the disadvantages?

If our actions just boil down to laziness, selfishness, greed and a basic resistance to change, then God doesn’t even need to be in this equation. We should all be disappointed in ourselves.

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Deeply Shallow

There’s nothing more annoying to me than someone who is intentionally ignorant or oblivious. Especially when that person thinks it’s amusing or charming. You were given a brain. Use it.

At this particular time in our nation’s history, as the bumper sticker says, “If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.” Yeah, I know. Outrage is no fun at all. It’s exhausting, to be honest. It is understandable that you need to take a break from the news now and again. But to intentionally block it out as a matter of course, all while sitting on your hands and doing nothing, is unconscionable.

For God’s sake, vote. And take the time to educate yourself before doing so. If you don’t vote in 2018 and then complain about your healthcare being taken from you, I reserve the right to personally slap the white off your teeth.

I know it’s tempting, and rather comforting, to just tiptoe through the tulips while humming quietly to yourself, but while you are doing that, important things are happening all around you. And a lot of it, lately, is a threat to those very tulips that you’re treading upon.

Don’t brag about your ignorance. It’s not a good look. And it’s actually becoming a hazard to the health and safety of everyone on this planet.

Wake up.

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The Trump Presidential Library

No matter how this train wreck that is our current presidency plays out, there will one day be a Trump Presidential Library. I mean, Nixon had one. Trump will not be left out. Andrew Carnegie is probably spinning in his grave.

What would this library look like? I mean, Trump is the poster child for everything libraries are against. Misinformation. Lies. Disdain for science. Inequality. Prejudice in its many forms. Closed-mindedness. Ignorance. Illiteracy. Avoidance of research. Elitism. Suppression of information. Not doing your damned homework.

What could this man possibly contribute to a library?

I’m sure there would be vast sections of porn. He objectifies women. And there would be comic books, too, because he has the attention span of a squirrel. There would be stacks devoted to nothing but copies of everything that had been ghost written in his name, as well as every interview he had ever done, and every photograph that was ever taken of him. There would be vast archives devoted to nothing but his tweets. Oddly, even the insulting and embarrassing things would be included, because it doesn’t matter as far as he’s concerned, as long as it’s about him.

There would be no section on religion, and nobody would seem to notice.

The whole place would be gilded, and over-the-top baroque architecture would be the order of the day. So much so, in fact, that it would take the focus away from the books, because really, who needs to read in this day and age, right?

There would be an Ivanka Trump shoe display, with ability to order them on line, and stuffed and mounted evidence of the many things his sons have shot. And a life sized statue of Trump, sitting on a throne, so you could take your picture whilst sitting on his lap.

Storytelling classes would be held regularly, with an emphasis on fictional narratives told with confidence and a complete lack of remorse.

And on every shelf, whether it belonged there or not, there would be at least one Russian book. “We have no idea how it got there, but…”

There would be an outrageous admission fee to enter the Trump Presidential Library, and you’d have to be a white male. And where would Trump choose to build this edifice to ignorance? On the grounds of Mar-a-Lago, where else?

That’s the only bright spot. Because then when non-existent global warming truly kicks in, we’ll all have the pleasure of watching this monument to pomposity sink into the sea, much like his ill-fated presidency. Good riddance.

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The New Dark Ages?

Back in 2013 I wrote a post entitled, “When Did ‘Intellectual’ Become a Dirty Word?” Little did I know at the time that that was just the tip of a very ignorant iceberg. I am beginning to look at 2013 as the halcyon days. Imagine that.

Ironically, I started that post by saying, “I really want to try to avoid getting political on this blog.” Snort. Now it seems like that’s all I do. But I can’t stay silent. I had that luxury in 2013. I don’t anymore.

Now we are thrust headlong into a political shit storm in which our own government is trying to dismantle our public education system. While they’re at it, they are destroying every environmental victory we’ve made since the 1970’s. They’re attacking science and medicine. They’re defunding art. They’re demonizing the media and all things that allow for the free flow of information. They’re impeding travel. They are clinging desperately to fossil fuels even though they know it’s destroying our planet. They are gleefully widening the gap between the rich and the rest of us.

This is worse than the Dark Ages, because so many of us know better these days. This is not the road we want to take. It only leads to destruction.

I keep having these dreams where half of us are trying to reason with the other half by using facts and proof and intelligence, and the other half is not listening, and destroying everything in its path with steam rollers. It makes no sense. The inmates control the asylum. Whose idea was it to give them the keys to those damned steam rollers?

I used to have a bumper sticker that said, “If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.” Word. Perhaps it’s time to buy another one.

Don’t turn out the lights, folks. The darkness is descending. And no doubt we’ll all come away with something much worse than a stubbed toe.

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A Message to the World

Hello. I’m an American. Never in my life did I imagine that I would say this, but I am ashamed of the state of my country. I am embarrassed at the face we are currently showing to the world. This is not who we are.

Never again will I look at another country and assume that all its people agree with its government. Because I don’t. Never again will I think of the resident of another country as possessing a stereotypical characteristic based on that person’s place of birth. Because clearly, I no longer fit in here.

In recent months I’ve been seeing a great deal of ugliness. I’ve seen Americans spewing hate. I’ve seen selfishness and greed and intolerance. I’ve seen ignorance deified and intelligence vilified. I’ve seen science discounted and fantasy encouraged. I’ve seen violence. I’ve seen misogyny. I’ve seen fraud. I see more and more lies every day.

I am so sorry that things have gotten this way. I didn’t vote for Trump. I wouldn’t have approved any of his cabinet members or his choices for the Supreme Court. There is not a single thing that this man has done that I agree with. Not one.

I’m particularly mortified that his immigration policies are making so many people live in fear. This is not acceptable to me. I am a second generation American, and the vast majority of the people who live here are descended from immigrants. We have absolutely no right to do what we are currently doing.

We also have no right to treat the Native Americans the way that we do. If anyone should have moral currency with regard to how we treat the land here, it should be them. They should not be beaten down for wanting water that is safe to drink. Shame on us.

We, of all people, should not have the right to negatively impact women’s health at home or abroad. We should also appreciate the good work that other members of the United Nations do every single day. We should be good stewards of our environment, because what we do affects the entire planet.

I just want you to know that many Americans still believe in human rights, freedom, justice, the environment, freedom of speech, science, peace, and respect for all people who do good in this world. I want you to know that those of us who feel this way will not remain silent. We will speak out for the values that we all strive to maintain. Our voices might get drowned out by those in power, but please don’t stop listening for us. We are here.

Because what you’re seeing now is not who we are.

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The Contradictory Metrics of Ignorance

I just came across a group on Facebook called Jewish Ritual Murder. It has 1057 likes. Its sole purpose is to perpetuate false stories that promote the myth of the Jewish blood libel. There’s an insane belief out there that Jews ritually murder Christians and use their blood for any number of nefarious purposes. This fiction has been used for centuries to justify violence against Jews. It has even been known to decimate entire communities. I’ve reported this page to Facebook. Many people have. It’s a hate crime. I hope it will be gone by the time you read this.

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Update: Facebook felt that this page does not violate its community standards. Please join me in reporting this if you agree with me that by perpetuating these lies it perpetuates hate.

It never ceases to amaze me that humanity seems to be becoming more ignorant with each passing day. That shouldn’t be mathematically possible. If we look at facts as a unit of measure, and assume people learn something new every day (I certainly seem to), then we as a species should be increasing in knowledge by leaps and bounds. And yet here are some more ridiculous and entirely false things a scary number of people believe:

  • Telephones cause brain cancer.
  • Humans never landed on the moon.
  • Evolution is a myth.
  • Humans once coexisted with dinosaurs or dinosaurs never existed.
  • Global climate change isn’t occurring, or if it is, it’s normal.
  • The earth is only 6,000 years old, give or take. Oh, and it’s flat.
  • The American Civil War had nothing to do with slavery or racism.
  • Benjamin Franklin was once president of the US.
  • People are gay by choice.
  • Africa is a country.
  • Blue moons are actually blue.
  • Barack Obama is a Muslim.
  • Elvis is alive.
  • The sun revolves around the earth.
  • Vaccines cause autism.

So why do we seem to buy in to all this stupidity despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary? Well, I have a few theories. Let’s go back to my “facts as a unit of measure” concept.

Unfortunately, in this day and age, it’s even easier to stuff your head full of false information. That leaves you little room to focus on the facts. The best way to combat against this is to fact check everything, but most people seem to be too busy waiting for the sky to fall or the next vampire movie to come out. Another way to avoid false information is to stop watching FOX news, stop assuming the scientific method yields mere opinions, and stop believing every meme that you read.

We also need to realize that, yes, we forget things we have learned, but that does not mean we should rely on the shorthand of sound bites to fill those voids. Knowledge shouldn’t be a spectator sport. We all need to make an effort to stay informed.

We also need to fight against this idea that “intellectual” is a dirty word. We need to emphasize education, not demonize it. How can knowing more facts ever be a bad thing?

An alarming number of children in the world today have little or no access to education. When you fill the planet with that many empty heads, there’s plenty of space for ignorance to thrive. Crime, terrorism, and violence do not come from a place of intelligence. Truly educating (as opposed to indoctrinating) people can only make the world a better place.

Take in as much information as you can, but learn the difference between fact and fiction. Read, but consider the source. Don’t blindly follow your leaders. Rely on logic. Don’t slide down the slippery slope of stupidity. Use your head for something other than a hat rack.

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Ping Pong and Paris

I was in my car when I first heard of the horrifying, senseless, heartbreaking series of events that occurred in Paris on Friday the 13th. I had to pull over to process the many thoughts that I was having. Concern for all my friends and family who live in the area competed with sadness that anyone should have to experience such tragedy. I also felt anger that there is still so much ignorance in this world.

But the most unpleasant thought of all probably won’t make sense to anyone but me. Ping pong balls and mousetraps.

If you’ve ever seen video footage of a ping pong ball being dropped into a room full of mousetraps with still more ping pong balls quietly poised on top of them, you know how quickly the scene becomes chaotic and unpredictable. The chain reaction is rapidly out of control.

This is the effect that terrorists count on. All they have to be is the first, destructive ping pong ball. Then they get to sit back and watch without expending any further energy of their own as all hell breaks loose.

A gunman opens fire in a Paris bar, and before you know it, a gentle and loving high school student who just happens to wear a hijab is getting beaten up in the school yard in some small town in Canada. People are slaughtered while enjoying a concert in France, and someone is pulled over by a cop in Oakland simply because he has dark hair and olive skin. One destructive group decides to make a murderous point, and hundreds of thousands of immigrants throughout the world, who are simply trying to improve their lives, are viewed with hatred and suspicion. These reactions divide us. Terrorists thrive on division.

Every time you react randomly to a very specific event, the terrorists win. Don’t hate all Muslims for what one group of very specific crazy people decided to do. Don’t hate all immigrants. Definitely do not hate everyone who is different from you. If you have to react to these awful events, make your reaction specific, not random. Focus on the actual individuals who perpetrated this crime. If we all point our energy toward them, we will be more like a spear that finds its well-deserved target, instead of a room full of ping pong balls that are bouncing willy nilly, accomplishing nothing but more destruction. The terrorists would fear that spear, as well they should.

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What Does Stupid Feel Like?

I know a girl who is, as the saying goes, as thick as two planks. She herself will admit it. But I’m not even sure she’s smart enough to grasp how tragic that is. She hums along, flying extremely close to the ground, utterly unaware that the majority of things go completely over her head. She misses out on so much, and often has to ask for explanations of even the most basic words, but none of this appears to bother her.

Another thing I’ve noticed about her is that she is totally devoid of curiosity. I wouldn’t be surprised if she had never Googled anything or made any sort of an effort to find out more about any given topic. I can’t relate to that at all. I’ll always want to learn. In a perfect world, I’d be at university for the rest of my life, without ever having to pay.

Is she capable of expanding her knowledge, and just too lazy to do anything about it, or is there some barrier that she cannot cross, despite her best efforts? She’s aware that most people are smarter than she is. But does she get the full implications of that? If she did, she would be constantly upset, and in fact she’s a very happy person.

What must it be like to have an intellectual glass ceiling perpetually pressing down upon you? Would you even be smart enough to realize it’s there? Do we all have one pressing down upon us without knowing it? Do we all bump up against our limitations on a regular basis? If so, we’ve been given the gift of not feeling rage or frustration when we do. Ignorance is bliss.

My intelligence has never prevented me from making epic mistakes or getting into the wrong relationships or making a bloody fool of myself. Those situations provide me with opportunities for further growth. Everything in life is a potential lesson. But perhaps not everyone looks at things that way.

My friend is the kindest human being I’ve ever met. She’s generous and loving and compassionate. She’s just an all-around decent human being. And yes, she is happy. Maybe at the end of the day she’s smarter than she looks.

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“Those Towel Heads Can’t Be Trusted.”

Yup, that actually came out of a coworker’s mouth the other day while we were discussing the Boston bombings. And I must admit I went off. I couldn’t help it. I’m so sick of the ignorance and bigotry. This is what I said to him:

“Every sweet has its sour; every evil its good.”

                                                                  -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Naturally his response was, “Huh?” To which I replied, “Do you seriously think the Muslims are the only group with a lunatic fringe, a mentally deranged and evil element? Seriously? Okay, then how do you explain the following?”

  • Adolph Hitler was a Catholic.
  • Pol Pot was a Buddhist.
  • Stalin, responsible for the execution of hundreds of thousands of people, went to a Greek Orthodox Seminary.
  • Pinochet was a Catholic.
  • Vlad the Impaler, torturer of thousands, was Christian.
  • Baruch Goldstein, an Orthodox Jew, perpetrated the 1994 Cave of the Patriarchs massacre in the city of Hebron, killing 29 Palestinian Muslim worshipers and wounding another 125.
  • Eric Rudolph, the Olympic Park Bomber, was Christian.
  • Ted Bundy was a Methodist.
  • James Holmes, the shooter in Aurora, Colorado, was Lutheran.
  • David Berkowitz, the Son of Sam, called himself a born again Christian.
  • Sampson Kanderayi was a Christian who killed more than 30 people to appease evil spirits.
  • Andrew Kehoe, a Roman Catholic, blew up 45 people, 38 of them children, in a school in Lansing, Michigan.
  • Wade Michael Page, the man who shot six people in a Sikh Temple in Wisconsin last year, was a devout Christian.
  • Robert Oppenheimer, who oversaw the Manhattan Project which produced the atomic bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, instantly killing  150,000 men, women, and children and many many more in the years that followed, was interested in Hinduism.
  • Jeffrey Dahmer was baptized into the Church of Christ, the religion of his childhood, after he went to prison.
  • The Unabomber, Ted Kaczynski, was an atheist.
  • Dylan Klebold, one of the Columbine shooters, was Lutheran.
  • Ivan the Terrible was Russian Orthodox.
  • Charles Carl Roberts IV, the man who shot all the Amish school girls, was a member of the Faith Church.
  • Torquemada, the poster child of the Spanish Inquisition, was, of course, Catholic.
  • Timothy McVeigh was a Roman Catholic.
  • Adolf Eichmann was raised Lutheran, and was an active member of the Evangelical Church until 1937.
  • Mao Tse-tung, who was responsible for 40-70 MILLION deaths, was an atheist.
  • Genghis Khan prayed to the Burhan Haldun Mountain, and consulted Buddhist Monks, Muslims, Christian missionaries, and Taoist monks.
  • Adam Lanza, the Sandy Hook shooter, was Catholic.

And how do you explain the following?

  • The vast majority of the participants in World Wars I and II were not Muslims.
  • In Rwanda, where the rivers have run with blood, 56.9% of the population is Roman Catholic, 26% is Protestant, 11.1% is Seventh-day Adventist, 4.6% is Muslim, 1.7% claims no religious affiliation, and 0.1% practices traditional indigenous beliefs such as the Jabiyan ethno-religious belief system.
  • Angola, home to one of the most brutal civil wars in history, is a predominately Christian country.
  • 33 people died in the Salem Witch Trials, which were conducted by a Puritan government.
  • Very few Muslims resided in America during our Revolutionary or Civil wars.
  • The vast majority of the owners of slave ships that transported slaves to the Americas were Christians.
  • The Aztecs hadn’t even HEARD of Islam, yet still managed to perform their human sacrifices.
  • Apartheid in South Africa was perpetuated by the Afrikaner minority. This system was responsible for the death of thousands and the displacement of hundreds of thousands. Afrikaners are predominately Calvinists.
  • At least 110,000 Iraqis have died since we Americans declared war on them. Some say it’s more like 1,033,000. 4,486 US soldiers were also killed. Our main justification for that war? 9/11. The number of Iraqis who were involved in the attack on the World Trade Center? 0. Another justification for that war: weapons of mass destruction. The number of weapons of mass destruction found? 0.
  • The murder-suicides in Jonestown were conducted by the People’s Temple Cult.
  • It was Christians who gave blankets infected with smallpox to the American Indians.
  • It was the US Public Health Service that intentionally misled 399 black sharecroppers into thinking they were being treated for their syphilis when in fact they were not. (They wanted to see how the disease would progress. Nice, huh?)
  • The Crusades were started by Pope Urban II.
  • When the Chinese tried to stop opium from being brought to their shores by the British, the British started the Opium Wars.
  • Germans slaughtered 10,000 Nama in South West Africa.
  • 11 Australian men, 10 of European descent and one of African descent, slaughtered 30 unarmed Aboriginals, mostly women, children, and old men, like they were dogs. It was called the Myall Creek massacre.

Do you still think the followers of Islam have cornered the market on murder and violence? Give me a break. We’re equally bad. And equally good, but that’s a subject for another blog entry.

So the next time you’re tempted to spew your Islamophobia, at least now you’ll have some facts, which means you’ll have to admit, at least to yourself, that what you’re trying to convince yourself of is actually nothing but hatred and ignorance. No culture is composed entirely of saints or completely of sinners. Stay stupid if you want to, but at least have the backbone to own it.

“Every sweet has its sour; every evil its good.”

                                                                             -Ralph Waldo Emerson

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