Namo amitabha Buddhaya, y'all.
This here's a religious establishment. Act respectable.

Friday, September 25, 2015

/rant mode: ON/

Item:  Would somebody please tell me why the hell Jeb Bush would "disagree" with the Pope about the existence of climate change?  I can see why Jeb doesn't want anything done to fight climate change--he might make less money, which of course would be a tragedy--but why would anyone "disagree" that climate change is happening?  Maybe Jeb should check in with some real scientists.  Like, say, the Pope, who has a degree in chemistry and worked as a chemist before becoming a priest.

Item:  Global warming aside, can anybody offer some suggestions about how in the bloody hell we're going to feed, clothe, house, educate and employ 11 billion people using just this planet?

Item: I'm 46 years old and I do hereby promise you that I will never, ever wax nostalgic (at least, not in public) about how great things were in the "good old days" or when I was a kid.  People who do that seem not to realize that the "good old days" weren't good for everybody.  They were good for rich white people.  Nobody else had civil rights, access to good education, high-paying jobs or the ability to get ahead. Go on, ask an elderly black man about how great things were in the 1950s when he was legally prevented from using the same water fountain as you in most of the Southern states.  Go on.  I dare you.

Item: This high school in Idaho has officially banned its cheerleaders from wearing their uniforms without leggings or sweat pants, allegedly because the short skirts exposed their butts on stairs and while sitting.  I, personally, have never before seen a cheerleader skirt that didn't also have some kind of bloomer stitched into it, but that aside, has it maybe occurred to the school that the cheerleaders' skirts ought to be a little bit longer?!  You know, a couple of inches more fabric between her butt and the outside world?  Seems like this one can be blamed on the school, not the students.

Item: John Boehner is resigning from Congress.  So the next time you want to laugh at some guy with an orange face who just can't seem to stop embarrassing himself in public, you'll just have to find yourself a puppet or something.

Item: A flight was delayed because a pet tarantula escaped from its enclosure in the cargo bay.  Look, I'm all for exotic pets, but in a world where an eighteen-month-old baby can be removed from an airplane for being on the no-fly list, I just don't think anything that has a number of legs divisible by eight should get a pass.  And while it may be true that not all terrorists are spiders, it is also true that the vast majority of spiders are terrorists.  The price of liberty is eternal vigilance.

Item: Presidential candidate and general asshole Mike Huckabee apparently has it in for rainbow-colored Doritos.  Evidently your choice of snack is now a political statement.  So if you're a Republican, you might want to stick to Cheetos.  Not only are they crunchier, they will turn your fingers orange.  You know, like John Boehner's.

That's about it for today.  I started a new job this week, and one of the things I'm going to have to do, a lot, is speak a little Spanish.  Luckily, I already speak that language, but I'm a little rusty.  I forget stupid words like "building" and "boat."  But looky here what just came in the mail:
I think these will help.  It's awesome to live with a librarian.

/rant mode: OFF/

Sunday, September 20, 2015

I Stand With That Kid

By now you've probably heard of Ahmed Mohamad, the 14-year-old who was arrested for taking a homemade clock to school.  The police allegedly thought it was a "hoax bomb," even though Ahmed told anybody who'd listen that it was, in fact, a clock.  The school officials' idiotic behavior, which included suspending Ahmed for three days and calling the police, is probably grounds for a civil-rights lawsuit (among other things, the principal threatened to expel Ahmed if he didn't sign a statement; just for the record, students, like all American citizens and residents, don't lose their 5th Amendment rights when they walk into a school building).  The Internet exploded with outrage, most of it directed at the school officials.  Because would any of this have happened if Ahmed had been a white Christian boy named Chad?  Probably not. A new Twitter and Instagram hashtag reads, #IstandwithAhmed.  But this blog post isn't about Ahmed Mohamad.  Instead, it's about That Kid.

You know That Kid.  You've probably seen him at your child's school, standing a little apart from the others.  Maybe he's a friend of your kid's.  Maybe you know his mom, or work with his dad.  That Kid is the kid that just doesn't seem to fit in with the other kids.  Maybe he's a different race or a different religion.  Maybe he's very smart.  Maybe he's fascinated by insects or internal combustion engines or Nazi war planes or something else that grown-ups find creepy.  Maybe he just doesn't have the patience for the ever-growing list of soul-crushing bullshit rules that schools come up with in the name of "safety" and "good citizenship."  Regardless, he's the kid who's always in trouble, whether that's from his peers or from the school administration or both.  He's the nail that sticks up above the two-by-four, and everybody's on a relentless mission to pound him down.  You know.  That Kid.  Everybody knows That Kid.

I'm 46 years old, and I used to be That Kid.  My trek through elementary and middle school was particularly hellish because I was a. fat, b. very smart and c. the wrong religion.  Any one of these would be enough to make you a social outcast in the clannish, insular society where I grew up (Salt Lake City, Utah, in the early to mid-1970s).  But all three?  Forget it.  Not even your parents are going to back you up when you're all three.

My first brush with school administration bullshit in general happened when I was in kindergarten, or maybe first grade.  Something I was drawing upset one of my teachers.  I don't for the life of me remember what, but there was A Meeting.  You know those meetings; the ones where your parents talk to the teacher, you sit outside in the hallway in a chair, and you know that no matter what happens, you're going to catch hell when it's over.  After The Meeting, my mother suggested I try drawing flowers.  Flowers are nice.  So I started drawing flowers and everybody calmed down for a while.

The calm lasted, oh, for maybe a year.  Around then the school told my parents that I was "hyperactive" (the 1970s term for ADHD) and needed to be on medication.  (I like that; non-doctors telling other non-doctors that somebody needs medication.  I thought that was illegal.  Practicing medicine without a license or something.)  So my parents dutifully took me to a psychiatrist who gave me great big doses of a drug called Ritalin, which is a street drug in Canada, ground down and shot up like heroin.  All the stuff ever did was make me sleepy, but then the school isn't going to complain about a sleepy student, unless she nods off in the middle of math class.

So I was good to go, even though I had no friends, didn't really like any of the other students anyway and couldn't figure out why I even had to be around them at all, much less eight hours a day.  I would have been thrilled to just be left alone, but instead I became every bully's favorite target.  Don't think for a moment that discrimination against somebody because of his or her religion is a new thing; it dates back to approximately ancient Rome.  And I was Lutheran, for God's sake (!).  Not exactly the most controversial of faiths.  So there were more meetings with school officials.  And more meetings with school officials.  And why it never occurred to anybody I might do better at another school, or even no school at all, I have no earthly idea.

Anyway, it's a long story and very sad and it really doesn't turn around until I'm in high school, in the marching band, but that's not the point, anyway.  My point, and I do have one, is That Kid.  You probably know That Kid.  That Kid has probably grown up to be That Adult, somebody who's socially awkward at work or in your circle of friends.  So, since you know That Kid, how about giving him or her a break?   How about talking to him or her, getting past the social awkwardness and just hearing what he or she has to say, without worrying about what your friends might think?  You'd be doing That Kid a great favor (nothing facilitates normal interaction like interaction with normals) and who knows, you may even learn something.  Like how to build a clock from materials everybody has at home.  Cheers, y'all.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Mass Migration

You guys, I am sorry again about the lack of blogitude.  I'm going to try once again to get this thing back on schedule, which means, every Thursday (in case you haven't been hanging around here for a while).  There's been a lot going on (hence the lack of blogitude, among other things.)  Stuff tends to develop in my life faster than I can write it down, or type it, or whatever.  But it's Thursday, so here I am.

You'd think, with everything that's been happening in the news lately, I'd have a plethora of stuff to blog about. There was the clerk in Kentucky who wouldn't issue marriage licenses and got to be world famous for, well, basically being an asshole, as far as I can tell (and I doubt we're finished yet; let's check back on Monday and see).  There was the airplane that caught fire in Las Vegas, during which, miraculously, no one was hurt (and if it had been an American plane, the death toll would have been staggering; try evacuating an airplane in a hurry with the amount of space you have between rows these days).  There was Donald Trump saying whatever he's said lately.  Finally, there were something like 800,000 people pouring out of Syria and into Europe, the pitiful European response, the even more pitiful American response (we'll take 5,000 of them.  Next year.  Maybe.) and the great big mess that's going to remain no matter what happens in Europe (let's see a show of hands; how many think it's only a matter of time before Angela Merkel starts cramming refugees onto cruise ships and sending them over here to the States?  Yep, that's what I thought).

So let's talk about those people from Syria for a minute, if we may.

Mass migration of human beings is not something that's going to stop, people.  It's just getting started, in point of fact.  In the next 20-30 years, we're going to have to evacuate Kiribati due to rising sea levels. Throw in Vanuatu and Tuvalu (both Pacific island nations with a maximum elevation of about 4.2 meters) and that's about 360,000 more people that will need new homes.  And let's not forget about Bangladesh.  It'll be underwater pretty soon too, and that'll make the current European mess look pretty minor (unless all 156 million Bangladeshis can fit onto their one 1052-meter mountain peak).  Yes, I did say 156 million.  Give or take fifty thousand or so.  All we need to make the mass migration over a billion is to hit China with a once-in-a-hundred-years typhoon on its heavily populated east coast--something that's bound to happen sooner or later.

Where are we going to put everybody?  Where are we going to find enough food and jobs and a decent education for everybody? These are not rhetorical questions.  We just think we're not going to live to see it actually happen.  In all probability, we'll be reborn right in the middle of it.  Well, I will be, anyway.  Unless I get enlightened this time around and decide not to come back, which honestly, I can't see happening.

(A couple of months ago I did a blog post about the clash between Mormon and Buddhist views of the afterlife, and who would probably win.  Answer: Mormons.  Buddhists keep disappearing to be reborn.  Damned inconvenient, that.)

So ponder that, and get back to me when you have some ideas. Meanwhile, back here in the First World, I am once again looking for work.  It's a long story and not that interesting, but if you know anybody who needs a paralegal, I'm fine with anything except possibly litigation.  I might just be done with litigation forever.  I'd say I'm done with being a paralegal forever, but tuition at guitar-building school is around $10,000 and the unemployment rate is pretty high. Besides, I like things legal.  Just other things legal.  I'm thinking about bankruptcy, or maybe criminal law, or even finance as long as it's not mortgage lending.  Or heck, maybe I'll get a job at Starbucks.  I'm certainly spending enough time there, perusing the Internet in search of work and just incidentally writing blog posts.  And I've gotta get back to that first thing.  So cheers, y'all.