Saturday, September 22, 2018

tracking a stranger

What a wonderful idea -- one I wish I'd thought of:

Since no man ever walked a mile in another man's shoes, how about the possibility of simply following someone -- someone chosen at random in a foreign city?
[W]hat I’m doing is a one-off exercise, and, as artist and writer Phil Smith puts it, is handing over control of exploring the city to someone else, chosen at random.
Smith regularly gives this task to students of theatre and performance at the University of Plymouth, seeing it as a valuable exercise. “The idea is that you’re exploring the space but someone else dictates it to you – it neutralises your will,” he says. “The intention – or hope – is that the followed person will lead you into places you haven’t been before.”
Neutralizing "your will" -- erasing a blackboard in order to admit new writing and thinking and seeing and being. What a great idea. I don't travel well any longer, but if I were to, what a plum-wonderful experiment.

Reminds me of the 1961 book "Black Like Me," about the white author who traveled the deep South here in the U.S. as a black man. I can imagine the current exercise would be full of false starts and do-overs, but still, when you think about what you see as a tourist or visitor ... hot damn!

"Where you haven't been before."

big oil's smoking gun ... and then some

Passed along this morning:
Newly found documents from the 1980s show that fossil fuel companies privately predicted the global damage that would be caused by their products.
Shell and Exxon, two of the wannabe oligarchs of this era, predicted the calamaties they would wreak, but neglected to tell the rest of us. You know, these are the guys sporting American flag lapel pins and a die-hard patriotism.
Although war planners and fossil-fuel companies had the arrogance to decide what level of devastation was appropriate for humanity, only Big Oil had the temerity to follow through.

visual Trmp ranting

Passed along to me this morning, as it had passed along to the sender, came this compendium of visual rants about Donald Trump. It's hard to pick a favorite among what is no doubt all "fake news," but I liked the one above ... and pretty much all of the others:

Friday, September 21, 2018

take aim

At 5:30 a.m., my younger son was out the door for a weekend of having his finger on the trigger -- a weekend of shooting as part of his National Guard obligation. He took off for Fort Devens, east of here. A weekend of reestablishing ties with a tribe he has agreed to be part of.

I, by comparison, awoke seemingly determined to be sad that I had no tribe I could identify. Where was my mooring and tribe, however stale? I could not find it and felt a bit like a crumpled bit of newspaper, scrunched in a fist, waiting to be added to a wood fire: Each nook and cranny held a tale that failed to yield any adhesiveness. Memory, yes; but adhesiveness -- that sense, however false, of reliability -- no. I wanted a mooring. I could not find a mooring. I was determined to be sad and full of something less than even echoes.

When I was 11, my mother took me with her to Italy and in the course of that trip we stayed a while on the Adriatic Sea, where I met Dili, a boy of about my age. Neither of us spoke the other's language, but we hung out in the waters, did boyish leaps and scanned the sea bed below our masks.

The water was incredibly clear and pale blue/aquamarine and you could watch fish or -- in the case of a slingshot-like spear gun my mother bought me -- kill them. On the seabed perhaps 10 or 12 feet below, the sands were littered with greening bullet shells from the war that had ended six years previously. The bullet shells were there by the handful. Their horrors had been spent and as a boy, I thought them heroic and masculine and tribally bright. What I was interested in, before I changed my mind, was the fish I might pinion with my spear gun.

Dili would give the spear gun a try from time to time as well. It was the kind of toy any waxing boy might enjoy. When he did take over, he would swap me the long bamboo pole he carried with him in the water ... long enough to reach into the nooks and crannies of the small rock caves on the sea floor below. The pole had a triple hook fastened to the thin end. Dili was after the shy octopuses that sheltered in the micro-caves. He would thrust the hooked end of the pole into the cave and like as not withdraw it with a middling-small octopus squirming on the hook. Then he would swim with his prey to the dock, hoist himself and his pole/catch, then grab the flailing creature and bite the back of its head ... at which point a blackish liquid would spill onto the dock and the octopus would be dead.

I never did catch and octopus and never bit the back of its head, but I admired Dili for it. I did not occur to me that he might have just caught his family dinner or something to sell for hard money in the town square. I was on vacation. He was moored in his life.

And I ... I killed fish on occasion before I got my first inkling that killing for sport felt distinctly wrong, viscerally wrong, to me. If I wasn't going to eat it (and I still dislike eating fish), then killing it was presumptuous and somehow disgusting.

In Tijuana, Mexico, 20 years later, I determined to go to a bullfight. I had read about bullfights in Ernest Hemingway novels and it sounded manly and moored and ever so empowered. If Hemingway's books said so, surely I might be invited into a manly brotherhood somehow, if I went to see one.

It took about 20 minutes to realize that killing for sport -- goading and wounding and stabbing an animal trapped in a man-made enclosure -- was, by whatever moored or unmoored book was on my shelf -- despicable. If I paid a lot for the ticket to get in, I would have paid multiples of that amount to get away from such a scene. "Horrible" in its earliest incarnations is too kind a word for me.

And yes I eat beef, much as I suspect a beef might eat me.

Moored. I would have liked to be moored this morning. Moored in something more than sorrowful conclusions. And yes, I have helped to butcher cattle -- and was sad at it, though knowing it would end up on my plate offered a sort of morbid solace.

Perhaps I should take a lesson from my son, aim at a target some distance away and moor myself to the outcome. How I sometimes wish I could do that and credit it.

digital models debated

Does the anorexia cost extra?
LONDON/NEW YORK (Reuters) - The three women gazing into the camera in an advert for French luxury label Balmain look like they could fit in at any high-end shoot, but Shudu, Margot and Zhi are “digital models” whose rise is dividing the fashion world.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

"settled rules"

In my neck of the woods, words like "compassion" and "democracy" are popular. But the further the country descends into Donald Trump's miasma of self-aggrandizement, the harder it is to see how anyone can use the word "democracy" without a blush. Democracy requires a willingness to sacrifice and as it currently seems to stand, sacrifice is a dwindling commodity, left, right and center.

Yesterday, a friend passed along a lengthy Atlantic article that circled once more the drain down which American "democracy" is dripping. I can't say I was either willing or able to absorb the article's analytical efforts but the following stood out for me:
Willingness to adhere to settled rules, even when in the short term doing so ensures your opponent’s triumph and your own defeat, is the hardest of all democratic habits to acquire—and increasing numbers of Americans never did.
"Settled rules" seems increasingly far from a description of current events. Politically, morally, socially ... where are the settled touchstones? Somehow things have become uncoupled or unmoored and all that is left is the personalized anger and loneliness of those who feel suckered by the self-serving likes of a Donald Trump AND the preening pomposities of those willing to speak the word "democracy."

I may have this all wrong, but I feel it in my bones. Blood -- literal blood -- tinges a future in which "settled rules" are re-established. Because the alternative is too gruesome.

The Dalai Lama once said, "Everyone wants to be happy." But perhaps this can or should be modified a bit: "Everyone would prefer not to be sad." Being angry and lonely and far from anything resembling "settled rules" ... living under a pall of mediocrity rife with racism and misogyny and a price tag on every capacity for decency and companionship and sacrifice... talk about repopulating the political swamp!

A confusing time. I suppose that itself is a democratic description, but it certainly isn't pleasant.

arachnophobe's nightmare

A Greek beach has been turned into an arachnophobe’s worst nightmare, as spiders have covered it in a web some 300 metres long....The web has been built by spiders of the Tetragnatha genus. They are often known as stretch spiders, as they have elongated bodies – and in another worrying development for those who fear spiders – Tetragnatha extensa are small enough and light enough to be able to run across water faster than they can move on land. However, the spiders of Aitoliko, which is 300km from Athens, don’t pose a threat.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

defining old age?

Less to say and more of it.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

World Nomad Games women

The substance and presentation of this photo essay about women in the World Nomad Games made my life easier and happier somehow ... beautiful women archers, beautifully dressed, with rules of the game that might flummox lesser athletes. Imagine competing from the back of a horse you had never met before.... 

sexual assault ... or not

Congressional Washington is currently alight with allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh: Did he did or did he didn't sexually assail a woman thirty years ago and can that woman, who has stepped from the shadows of anonymity, undo his hitherto impeccable credentials to win confirmation? Another political pissing contest, another sexual past, another dust storm of solemn kerfuffle that means so much to those willing to risk so little?

And yet what draws my reading attention this morning is of a rape that is hundreds of years old:
A 17th-century sailor’s confession about a rape, of which he became so ashamed that he sought to cover it up for ever, has been exposed by conservation workers who discovered the note hidden under a rewritten version in his journal....
[Edward Barlow] originally wrote an excruciatingly frank account of his rape of Mary Symons, a young female servant in a house where he was lodging, an encounter he admitted was “much against her will, for indeed she was asleep but being gotten into the bed I could not easily be persuaded out again, and I confess that I did more than what was lawful or civil, but not in that manner that I could ever judge or, in the least, think that she should prove with child, for I take God to witness I did not enter her body, all though I did attempt something in that nature”.
Barlow inserted a line of warning: “I found by her that women’s wombs are of an attractive quality and dangerous for a young man to meddle with.”
Another time. Another sensibility. Another bit of "meddling." Do the two stories deserve to be in the same barrel? I'm not really sure. I just know that the earlier tale caught my attention -- possibly because of the "shame?"

There's little or no shame of any sort in Washington these days. But apparently there was shame in the man's heart so many years ago. The circumscribed delicacy of the earlier language ... a strange matter as it seems today.

Anyway, the two played in my mind this morning.

Monday, September 17, 2018

effects on the assassin

As a teenager during World War II, Freddie Oversteegen was one of only a few Dutch women to take up arms against the country’s Nazi occupiers. (Courtesy of National Hannie Schaft Foundation)
In an article about Dutch sisters who worked for the underground during World War II (blowing up bridges and other acts of sabotage but also luring Nazis into the woods for a private execution), here are some of the words of and about one sister:
By Truus’s account, it was Freddie Oversteegen who became the first to shoot and kill someone. “It was tragic and very difficult and we cried about it afterwards,” Truus said. “We did not feel it suited us — it never suits anybody, unless they are real criminals. . . . One loses everything. It poisons the beautiful things in life.”....
In interviews, Ms. Oversteegen often spoke of the physics of killing — not the feel of the trigger or kick of the gun, but the inevitable collapse that followed, her victims’ fall to the ground.
“Yes,” she told one interviewer, according to the Dutch newspaper IJmuider Courant , “I’ve shot a gun myself and I’ve seen them fall. And what is inside us at such a moment? You want to help them get up.”

pitons of interest

Reading the newswires this morning (as I have for years), I find fewer and fewer points at which to hammer home a piton of interest. It is like swimming through a roomful of cotton candy. Nothing seems to offer a reliable holding point. Instead, I am merely irritated.

"Compassion" is irritating.
Thirty-year-old sexual allegations are irritating ... priest or politician or entertainer ... if it's true, then what? If not, then what?
"It is what it is" is irritating.
The Israelis have found a new way of fucking the Palestinians.
The sensitivities of these times drone on an on and I, like some supporter of Donald Trump, am merely irritated by the entire panorama.

And now I have to admit it -- the problem does not reside in others and their endless sensitivities, it lies with me. What is news needs to be handed over to the next marathoner. Pass the baton and keep my crabby mouth shut. I might like to find the piton point of interest, but I can't.

It's confusing and amorphous and ... what the hell?!

Writing too wafts into the tall pines like wood smoke from a camper's fire. Pitons fall away. Nothing fancy, nothing "Buddhist," ... whatever it is, it just ain't there.

This definitely calls for a good dirty joke.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

plump and entitled

It seems to have no basis in fact -- I kind of Googled around -- but nevertheless, the thought keeps nudging...

That I grew up in a time when recollections of the Depression meant people tended to be thin, as when there was not enough to eat and people scratched out or eeked out a living .... but whatever they did, they made something, created stuff and had no real laurels to rest on.

And that I grew into a time of entitled plumpness, one in which there is an overly-generous sense that each and every person deserves whatever s/he wants and gets to whine if s/he is denied it.

Oh yes, and while we're at it, keep the joking politically-correct. No more Polish jokes, thank you very much. No more smiles about broad-brush considerations of men or women or whatever.

It's just a thought that I think is flummoxed.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

john oliver riffs

A couple of John Oliver riffs I hadn't seen"

youth, age and horseshit

It has been asked before but still...

If, as G.B. Shaw or Oscar Wilde or someone else observed, "Youth is wasted on the young," isn't there some reason to pose the possibility that "Old age is wasted on the elderly?" And if this is possible, on whom is old age wasted?... what is wasted and on whom?

Google is full of suggestions that it is wisdom that is wasted on the elderly, but, as usual, the meaning of "wisdom" is left hanging like some venerable wraith -- undefined and presuming that 'everyone' might agree not only on what wisdom is, but that it might be venerable in the first place.

I have a hunch everything is always wasted on someone, irrespective of wisdom or idiocy, youth or age. Everything is wasted until someone decides to investigate and use. Waste is life's/Mother Nature's most prolific product, perhaps.

I always like the mildly-twisted Dhammapada line, "Better your own truth/ However weak/ Than the truth of another/ However noble."

Friday, September 14, 2018

cabbage ... very big cabbage

Talk about fart food writ large!

passing fox

No bears as yet, but I did see a scrofulous fox trotting up the street outside my house yesterday. Scruffy, but distinctly a fox, an animal I think of as shy and more nocturnal in its travels. And this small bit of nature whispers at the edges of a feeling that wildlife is growing more common as Donald Trump guides the political ship. Probably just a wisp of thought.

Fox are such handsome creatures, it was bizarre seeing a scruffy one...

On a suburban street...

In daylight.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

if it's expensive, it must be worth it

A swimming pool painting by David Hockney could become the most valuable work of art by a living artist sold at auction.
Christie’s in New York announced on Thursday that it was selling Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures) with an estimate in the region of $80m (£61m)....Alex Rotter, co-chairman of postwar and contemporary art at Christie’s, said Hockney’s pool painting was “one of the great masterpieces of the modern era”.
I realize that as the world seems to sink ever deeper into the bourgeois swamp of Donald Trump and the likes (everything has a price) that the expense of a piece of art might occasion a news story. But as I look at this particular offering, all I can think of is American comedian Dan Ackroyd's riff on an auction of "hotel and motel art..." ... art "seen by millions" .... gracing your very own living room

I can't believe I cannot find a clip of Ackroyd's sctick (maybe I am remembering poorly), but I can't.

PS. My mother once told me that she enjoyed the art history classes she once took at Smith College after the professor confided off stage, "it's all bullshit." My mother enjoyed stringing important-sounding adjectives and other encomia together when she wrote her papers and got her A's.

may we paddle your kids?

The Georgia School for Innovation and the Classics is based in the biblically named-town of Hephzibah, and promises to teach students using the Socratic method. But those aren’t the only ways it likes to invoke a sense of antiquity. This week the school sent letters home telling parents they wanted to reintroduce corporal punishment for students, and asking for their consent to have their children struck with a paddle if they misbehave.

the movie "Island"

Nudity is only as sexy as the clothes anyone is wearing. Once you get down to nudity, well, it's all there and all obvious and ... there's nothing extraneous about it. It's not exactly "boring." Rather, nudity is just plain. It's like noting the sky is blue when the sky is blue.

Maybe the same can be said of death. It's only as dramatic and touching as the clothes it wears. Once death arrives, well, isn't that blue sky?
What interested (artist and filmmaker Steven Eastman) about filming in a hospice? “I realised that there weren’t a lot of films about end of life. I just thought: how strange that there are very poor descriptions of something as natural as death, that’s happening on every street. In the history of visual art, there’s so many depictions of deathbeds. Isn’t it interesting that it’s fallen out of the space of art?”...
I tell Eastwood I was expecting something more. He nods. Other people have said the same thing. “What’s interesting is there isn’t an image. You can’t see the dying. I think that’s fascinating, because to talk about how the film shows you the moment of death, I don’t know when that moment is. I’ve watched it over and over. I still find myself thinking: is he going to breathe again?”
"Island" opens in the UK tomorrow.

public research, private profit?

Interesting question: If the taxpayer funds the research which leads to a discovery, isn't there some reason to argue that that breakthrough is already bought and paid for and that (at a minimum) some portion of the results should be free to the one who paid for it?

Guardian columnist George Monbiot poses the question as regards scientific papers: Should the taxpayer pay twice?
Most of the work involved in writing the papers, reviewing and editing them is carried out at public expense by people at universities. Yet this public asset has been captured, packaged and sold back to us for phenomenal fees. Those who pay most are publicly funded libraries. Taxpayers must shell out twice: first for the research, then to see the work they have sponsored. There might be legal justifications for this practice. There are no ethical justifications.
It's thorny, but it is interesting.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

murdering Americans

Something more than 2,700 people were killed during the demolition of the World Trade Center towers in New York on Sept. 11, 2001.

A wildly gyrating estimate of those killed in Hurricane Maria after it struck Puerto Rico on Sept. 20, 2017, ranges from 3,000 to 5,000. Either way, it's a hell of a lot of Americans. Either way, there seems to be an untold lack of support for those Americans or those they left behind. So it seems fair for a columnist to relegate the governmental reaction to the "scandal" folder. A year later, these Americans are still struggling for water, electricity and other basic services. It is hard not to imagine that the fact that Puerto Ricans are largely brown had something to do with the clusterfuck of relief ... relief that came swiftly to mainland locations similarly afflicted by Maria.

And why should the demolition of the World Trade Towers be lumped in with the ignoring of Puerto Rican Americans? I am among those who believe that the science does not support a World Trade Center conclusion that "terrorism" -- or at least "terrorism" from the Middle East -- had much to do with the demolition. I really haven't got the energy to collate the evidence that convinces me and I guess I am willing to be tossed into some conveniently located 'conspiracy' trash can, but I'm not interested in convincing someone else. I simply don't believe the sound-bite party line.

There were too many neat assertions that don't wash -- from neatly clipped I-beams to pancaking structures, to an $8 billion insurance payout to ... oh hell, the list goes on and on for me. I realize that the alternative scenario -- the murder of Americans -- is so enormous a crime as to (literally) defy the energies and imagination, but that's not a reason for saying it's not true.

And as a bit of collateral benefit to the neat assertions, the words "terrorism" and "terrorist" got a worldwide springboard from which any number of world leaders have since gleefully jumped.

Murdering Americans.

Is that hyperbole?

I know I wouldn't often use the phrase -- it's to bare and bald and horrific, but....

Don't worry -- no one's got the nerve to look into it. 9/11 is in the rear-view mirror. Transposing it to the microscope, like transposing the tragedy in Puerto Rico, is old news: Donald Trump demands our attention.

Monday, September 10, 2018

the body of my enemy

As an old saying (Chinese? Japanese?) has it more or less: "If you watch the river long enough, you will see the body of your enemy float by."

Somehow this dovetails in my mind with, "Do not be too virtuous. Too much virtue makes people crazy." (Provenance likewise uncertain, but nonetheless stuck in my mind.)

How long can the seriously-committed be good before all that's left is what was once dog-tagged as evil or naughty or not-to-be-done? How long can the seriously-committed be evil before all that's left is what was once dog-tagged as good or pure or to-be-done? Yes, I can hear the natterings in the rafters -- purity/clarity/understanding are endless, right? -- but I still think the body of anyone's enemy is bound to float by.

Seems like "square one" is always the only option.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

mandatory home ec courses

When I lifted the frying pan out of the drainer where it had been left to dry a day or so ago, what I found was a frying pan with skid marks of the scrambled eggs it had been washed to erase. The major clottings of egg were gone, but the pan still wasn't clean. My younger son's capacity to cook the eggs and eat them was apparently intact. But his ability to wash up was missing.

In an age when everything seems to get "walked back," I wonder if it isn't time to impose on high schools a mandatory "home ec" course in which basic household chores were covered. If you get out of high school without knowing how to wash dishes, something is badly awry from where I sit.

Home economics, as it was once called, would include how to wash dishes. And know how to use a broom. And bake a boxed cake. And run a vacuum cleaner. And rinse off a counter top. And put things back. And fry or boil an egg. And do a load of laundry. And ... well, and do the basic stuff that needs to get done around the house.

Just a hint: Dishes that are washed should be ... d'oh ... clean. I know the objections to having to clean up my own mess. Tough titty ... do it anyway. Do it and do it well.

What the hell, if reading and writing and critical thinking have pretty much been set aside, there should be plenty of time in high school to learn the manly arts of being a maid.

Home ec for all!

Saturday, September 8, 2018

what to trust

Mameluca woman under a fruiting cashew tree (1641-1644) by Albert Eckhout. National Museum of Denmark
I have lived through the era whose mantram was "never trust anyone over thirty."
I have lived through the era whose mantram was "never trust anyone over forty."
And for all I know I have lived through unremarked eras whose mantra were "never trust anyone over 50, 60, 70 ..."

None of it ever really stuck with me. Age never struck me as being a capable yardstick when it came either to wisdom or stupidity.

But if no one at any age is either necessarily-credible or necessarily-not-credible, what then shall I trust.

This morning the answer came to me.


I looked "cashews" up the other day because I wasn't really sure whether they fell from trees or spawned below the earth's surface. I also looked them up -- and decided to trust them -- because they were so damned addictively delicious in my mouth ... and like any other human being in good standing, I trust my addictions.

Never mind their distant kinship to poison ivy -- cashews are to die for.

And so, for the moment, there is something to trust ... though the cashews jar is currently empty.

Friday, September 7, 2018

poop like a samurai

Finally, some information that strikes me as worth knowing was passed along in email ... how to take an effective shit ... courtesy of the renowned samurai:

Poop More Effectively by Repositioning One Leg

You can learn a lot from the samurai way, including how to poop more effectively. As writer Will Black discovered, you just need to reposition your leg.
The samurai would sit squarely on the seat, cross his leg so that his right ankle rested on his left knee (his left foot remained on the ground), place a hand on each knee, then straighten his back. Supposedly this aligns the bowels to help one from having to strain. You may think it seems like a bunch of malarkey, but this one actually works. If you have ever felt like there is a plumbing issue when you sit down, then pay attention. Take your time, have some patience, and you will get the yoga version of Draino on your system that has been passed down from samurai warlords of old. I have literally felt a swirling sensation during the act of evacuation. Try it out to see for yourself.
I didn't want to take his word for it so I tried it myself and this does work. It's not particularly comfortable outright, as toilets weren't designed for anyone to sit this way, but you can adjust yourself for comfort before you begin your business. Once you start pooping, you'll realize your crossed leg almost acts like a frozen yogurt dispenser as it feels like it's helping to push the poop out without the need for any muscle strain. This technique won't replace the need for a balanced diet with sufficient fiber and water, but if you have healthy poop it will help you do your business better.
I haven't yet tried it, but I plan to.

how the wealthier got that way

I want to get back to this article, whose friskiness-cum-substance appeals to me, but whose length is too long at the moment:
Every January, to coincide with the World Economic Forum in Davos, Oxfam tells us how much richer the world’s richest people have got. In 2016, their report showed that the wealthiest 62 individuals owned the same amount as the bottom half of the world’s population. This year, that number had dropped to 42: three-and-half-dozen people with as much stuff as three-and-a-half billion.
This yearly ritual has become part of the news cycle, and the inequality it exposes has ceased to shock us. The very rich getting very much richer is now part of life, like the procession of the seasons. But we should be extremely concerned: their increased wealth gives them ever-greater control of our politics and of our media. Countries that were once democracies are becoming plutocracies; plutocracies are becoming oligarchies; oligarchies are becoming kleptocracies.

forcing the pope to resign

FILE PHOTO: Pope Francis speaks with the media onboard a plane during his flight back from a trip in Dublin, Ireland August 26, 2018. Gregorio Borgia/Pool/File Photo
VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Calls by a Roman Catholic archbishop and his conservative backers for Pope Francis to resign could make it difficult, if not impossible, for him to do so, Church experts say.
Canon (Church) Law says a pope can resign but the decision must be taken freely. In 2013, Francis’s predecessor, Benedict, became the first pontiff in six centuries to resign. 

Thursday, September 6, 2018

India decriminalizes homosexuality; AG targets dioceses

A landmark judgment by India’s highest court has overturned a colonial-era law that criminalizes consensual gay sex, in a long-fought for victory for the LGBTQ community.
The five-judge bench reached a unanimous decision Thursday in the capital New Delhi. Delivering his decision, Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra said, “The LGBTQ community has the same fundamental rights as citizens. The identity of a person is very important and we have to vanquish prejudice, embrace inclusion and ensure equal rights.”

“Intimacy and privacy is a matter of choice. We have to bid adieu to stereotypes and prejudices,” he said.
The court verdict is a major milestone for LGBTQ-identifying people across the country, where homosexuality remains a social taboo and gay people face endemic discrimination.
And, as an footnote, I would like to add:
The New York attorney general’s office has issued subpoenas to every Catholic diocese in the state, becoming the latest U.S. state to embark on a major investigation of sex crimes committed and covered up by Catholic priests. And New Jersey quickly followed on Thursday, announcing a criminal task force focused on investigating sexual abuse by Catholic clergy.
As someone who has seen homosexuals weep at the stresses associated with their own secret lives, I can only say, "amen!"

Both raise the question in my mind, what is "the church" (in its most generic sense) without all its tut-tutting and down-the-nose statutes and observations?

"black hairy tongue"

You heard right: "black hairy tongue." It may sound like something a not-very-imaginative high school freshman would concoct, but the truth is, it's true. Imagine calling in sick: "I'm coping with a wicked case of black hairy tongue..."

Left: A woman's tongue after she was diagnosed with "black hairy tongue." Right: Her tongue after the condition cleared up. (The New England Journal of Medicine)