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boschsevendeadlysins

The Seven Deadly Really Sucky Things

It just so happens that today, the 9th of November in the year 2016, I am rereading Richard Leakey’s  1994 take on how we became what we’ve become, “The Origin of Humankind” . The timing of the read was dictated by nothing more than it being the only hardback book on hand after relocating to Italy, but it all seems somehow prescient upon awakening this morning.

Why?

Donald Trump has been elected to be President of The United States. Wow. Aside from underlining just how good an idea it was to leave the US almost 25 years ago, there are no positive points to this now being the actual reality. (Had it been scripted and edited as ‘reality shows’ actually are, no one would ever have believed this situation even remotely possible … no matter how clever the contrived convolutions.)

The New York Times conveniently compiled a list of The Donald’s tacky snipes , so there’s no reason to dwell on the nasty divisiveness that spews forth from His Orangeness, but it does rub against the grain even more abrasively when juxtaposed aside the anthropological construct that says humanity itself … the very basics of what makes humans human and separates us from apes … began evolutionarily with sharing.

As Leakey states in his 1981 book, “The Making of Mankind”, sharing is THE factor that puts us where we are, “ … the food sharing hypothesis is a strong candidate for explaining what set early humans on the road to modern man.”

The Smithsonian’s Richard Potts notes in “Early Hominid Activities at Olduvai”:

The home-base, food-sharing hypothesis integrates so many aspects of human behavior and social life that are important to anthropologists — reciprocity systems, exchange, kinship, subsistence, division of labor and language.

Yet 1.5 million years later where are we?

We are in a world that just made a lying bigot with zero experience, no integrity, ethics or morals the most powerful man on the planet, not only suggesting democracy is a failed system, but also that evolution has come to naught. Sharing made us human, now not sharing will reduce us to whatever form of cockroach-like scramblers we are destined to become as Earth revolts against perpetual rape and some learn the hard way that avarice is actually one of the seven deadly sins.

And … just FYI …

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Not dead today ... just at the beach ...

Not dead today … just at the beach …

Today is my 15th Not Dead Day.

Yes, I have had a few thousand days of being not dead, but on this day in 1999 I very well could have been.

During the course of what I thought was a routine checkup with a cardiologist while on holiday in Singapore I was yanked from a treadmill after about 10 seconds, told to lie down, had a Heparin patch slapped to my chest and was informed that I was within one to thirty days from a massive and certainly fatal heart attack.

Good thing I took that vacation, huh?

I’ve written before about the process, recovery, etc., so no need to do that again. What I would like to do today is talk about living. Fifteen years … nothing to sneeze at. I would have missed a lot had I not been around. Not that everything has been peaches and roses (sometimes not even coming close with pizza and rotgut), but an unpleasant slog through what we know as real life. There have been times I’d have rather avoided, some that almost broke me …

You fall out of your mother’s womb, you crawl across open country under fire, and drop into your grave. ~ Quentin Crisp

But so much has been worth much more than the price of admission. Fifteen years of sunsets and puppies and laughs and love and friends and fresh fruit and hugs and cuddles and kisses and great books and conversations and new experiences coming seemingly from out of the blue.

Who will tell whether one happy moment of love or the joy of breathing or walking on a bright morning and smelling the fresh air, is not worth all the suffering and effort which life implies. ~ Erich Fromm

I’ve had

They're growing, and I get to watch the process...

They’re growing, and I get to watch the process…

another fifteen years to learn new things, to confront my personal ghosts, and wrestle them for lessons, to put effort into making the world a better place.

Life has meaning only if one barters it day by day for something other than itself. ~Antoine de Saint-Exupery

I’m still around to see Sam at 11 and Cj at 9, to fill their heads with as much wisdom as I can and as little baggage as possible, to do my best to leave them with as few gaps as I can … and I have no doubt I will leave them before the gaps are full, just as all parents do … and to live up to Walt Whitman’s edict in “Leaves of Grass”

“…the powerful play goes on, and you will contribute a verse.”

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I am so confused …

Apparently we now live in a world where men are so impressed with balls they have their dogs fitted with fake ones so the world can see their stuff wag, yet women can’t seem to decide if their lips should be bigger (see photo) or smaller.

While those stuck to a woman’s face are seen to need invasive plumping, trimming the lower lips is the nip-du-jour for the tuck down under

Dr Sarah Creighton and colleagues believe the future demand for so-called “designer vagina” operations or labial reductions is potentially infinite and is driven by society’s wider and growing desire for cosmetic surgery in general and changing expectations about what is a desirable appearance for women.

“It’s shocking, particularly because we are seeing girls who are really young. They are asking for surgery that is irreversible and we do not know what the long-term risks of the procedure might be.”

She said latest figures for England show about 2,000 of the procedures are paid for by the NHS each year.

“That’s probably just the tip of the iceberg. It’s a massive boom industry in the private sector.”

According to the BBC, girls as young as 11 are lining up to have their lines lined up.

Sigh …

It has long been the case that while people are starving to death in some parts of the world, others are busily clogging their arteries every day with stuff containing enough calories to sustain entire villages for a month, but this idea that women in flourishing societies are queuing and paying for a version of the cut that can be called mutilation in the ‘developing world’ is also appalling.

Female genital mutilation is the removal of part or all of the external female genitalia. In its most severe form, a woman or girl has all of her genitalia removed and then stitched together, leaving a small opening for intercourse and menstruation. It is practiced in 28 African countries on the pretext of cultural tradition or hygiene.

Sure, FGM should be considered brutal abuse, but it is at root a cultural dictate that demands women’s bits conform to whatever it is a culture decides the form must take. Are we now moving toward the same, albeit with surgical blades instead of broken shards of glass?

While men so proudly dangle and fondle the holy scrotum no matter how unbalanced the hang, how hairy and wrinkly and bumpy and squishy the bag, it seems women have come to the thought that anything excess of what they had about age five is somehow obscene and in need of surgical intervention.

Really now, Ladies, it’s 2011! Did we not fight long and hard for the right not to have to be tight-lipped?

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Wiki imageFor those of us living on islands surrounded by miles and miles of water, as these clearly are, the tragic shark attacks of the past weeks convey a resonance that goes deeper than the horror of the deaths.

With the Indian Ocean on our doorstep we’re used to seeing the sea almost every hour of every day, but we’re looking at it a bit differently for now, contemplating what lies beneath the barrier between air and water, and from many angles.

For sure, sharks are scary and we’re keeping our kids to the shallows, but many are also considering what the seas may still promise when these children are adults. With part of the reaction to the recent shark attacks amounting to a virtual war, a petition is circulating advising caution.

In response to a government statement by Mr St Ange, director of Seychelles Toursim (sic) Board who said “We need to find the beast and get it out of our waters,”

We would like to highlight the following misconceptions implied within this statement1. Sharks are not beasts they are ancient fish highly specialized and adapted to hunting in aquatic environments.2.Sharks have for centuries lived, reproduced and hunted in the oceans travelling (sic) thousands of miles each year, therefore, the notion of a land based species i’ll adapted to the aquatic environment owning the seas is a little ridiculous. 3. By “get it out” do you mean remove humanly to another location or as some reports have stated begin a shark hunt?
As we are sure you understand culls of species without knowledge of their impact can destroy ecosystems and be tragically detrimental to other species reliant upon them.

Tourism relies on the ocean and any widespread shark culling will have a widespread negative effect on the reefs and the reasons people travel to your beautiful islands.

With an estimated 100 million sharks killed by humans every year, shark populations are crashing in oceans all over the world, some species depleted by over 90%, so the idea of a massive cull does not sit well with everyone.

Many governments and the UN have acknowledged the need for shark fisheries management, but little progress has been made due to their low economic value, the small volumes of products produced and sharks’ poor public image.

That “poor public image” thing hasn’t been helped by the deaths of two young men calmly taking to our beautiful waters. Seychelles depends on two industries for financial security: tourism and fishing. With the world’s second largest tuna processing plant here fish are a very big deal.

Located in the Seychelles International Trade Zone, IOT is the second largest tuna processing and canning plant in the world. In the year ending 31 March 2009, IOT processed almost 66,000 metric tonnes of tuna and sold 4.6 million statistical cases of tuna cans, mostly to the UK, French and Italian markets.

That’s a whole lotta dead fish, folks, and doesn’t even begin to take into account the bycatch that never makes it as far as the factory.

This article published in Australia this morning illustrates many of the issues surrounding the tuna industry.

It will come as a surprise to some that eating fish is bad for the environment. In the past, fish was seen as a healthy and sustainable food option with few ethical implications.

But we know now that fishing fleets are completely dependent on fossil fuels, and have to travel longer and longer distances to find fish in commercial quantities. We also know seafood stocks are crashing at an alarming rate.

The methods we use to improve catch rates harm habitats and kill other species we never meant to eat in the first place.

Unfortunately, farming fish does not solve these problems.

The best solution to this growing problem is to eat only those fish you know to be harvested sustainably.

The issues, of course, are not only local, not limited to the local economy, happy tourists or putting tuna in tins.

Nope.

The issue is a global human population at close to seven billion and growing daily which puts paid to any idea of sustainability over the long haul.

Shark-free seas and cupboards full of tinned tuna may actually sound okay to some, but when the oceans die we’ll go with them.

There is, however, the option put on film way back in 1973:

In the year 2022, the population has grown to forty million people in New York City alone. Most housing is dilapidated and overcrowded, and the homeless fill the streets and line the fire escapes and stairways of buildings. Food as we know it in present times is a rare and expensive commodity. Most of the world’s population survives on processed rations produced by the massive Soylent Corporation, including Soylent Red and Soylent Yellow, which are advertised as “high-energy vegetable concentrates.” The newest product is Soylent Green, a small green wafer which is advertised as being produced from “high-energy plankton.” It is much more nutritious and palatable than the red and yellow varieties, but, like most other food, it is in short supply, which often leads to food riots.

For any who may not know where this goes, we’ll skip to the last line of “Soylent Green” …

“Soylent Green is PEOPLE!”

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17 to 60

The question of the week seems to be:

How does it feel to be 60?

After a flash of “Ya talkin’ to me?” that clears fairly quickly since I can only be delusional in short spurts, the answer so far comes in some version of: Well, it sure feels weird to say it.

For much of the time, I can go with Erma Bombeck’s take:

As a graduate of the Zsa Zsa Gabor School of Creative mathematics, I honestly do not know how old I am. ~Erma Bombeck

That gets harder to swallow when birthdays present, and decade-flipping ones make it close to impossible even though most of the time I have no idea what bloody month it might be and how notoriously crap I am with numbers.

All-in-all, I don’t feel different. I’m less-than-chuffed about how I look, but I felt the same at seventeen so nothing odd about that. The list of places I want to go, things I want to do, people I want to see has grown no shorter. I still wonder what I’ll be when I grow up and which paths I may discover will lead me there. I like loud music, raucous laughter, rolling around on the floor with kids, occasionally drinking myself stupid and wild sex when I can get it. I make more decisions with my heart than my head, gamble outrageously with my health and safety and take comfort from hope no matter how often that has proven fruitless. I have all my own teeth, can read without glasses or 5-foot-long arms, don’t color my hair or inject toxins into my face. I avoid doctors, ignore aches and pains and spend a lot of time in the sun.

I’m as intolerant as ever of the cautious old who set life behind them and choose recollection over participation, dependability over experience, sagacity over enthusiasm, no matter how many years they may have chalked up. On the same hand, I’m still far too lenient when it comes to devil-may-care brilliance, too easily dazzled and can highly enjoy hours spent in conversations on topics I’ve not had before from angles new to me. I dream of happy-ever-after.

Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul.
~Samuel Ullman

So … 60 years …

Okay … it’s now my mother’s hands sprouting from the end of my arms, I’m slower up a hill, I allow myself a certain rudeness I’d been uncomfortable with when younger (especially with “authority figures”, since many are whippersnappers). My epidermis grows thinner no matter how thick-skinned I become. I don’t pop up as fast after a knockdown. My rose-colored glassed sport a cynical filter. I need more, trust less and spend a lot of time pondering the meaning of it all.

Forty is the old age of youth; fifty the youth of old age.
~Victor Hugo

Maybe I do do delusional … maybe I’m living it … but, for now anyway, I’m going with the thought that I’m a teenoldager.

Here’s a birthday gift from my beautiful eldest that illustrates some of the steps between past and present …

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I’m not much in the mood for blogging this week, but can’t let it be said I don’t rise to an occasion when a topic rears its ugly head. Not that I’m throbbing with any desire to stand at attention, nor to prostrate myself in order to take in the hard issues, but do feel it apt to take it in hand to act as an organ of communication, to attempt to erect some sort of rigid structure from which to dangle a thought or two since I’ve yet to go either soft or squishy when it comes to items in the news, no matter how resistant I may be to swallowing what’s rammed down my throat.

Yes, peeps, it’s Penis on Parade Week, an event designed to illustrate for once (or a whole bunch of times) and for all (within a certain age range) that the brain is actually a superfluous body part undamaged by redirection of blood flow.

I know by now it’s a case of flogging a deceased well-endowed equine, but REALLY! Could anyone have written a tale of a guy named Weiner taking his sausage social? If something like that had come across the desk of someone other than a teacher of twelve-year-olds it would have been tossed straightaway.

As fodder, of course, the story is quite the tempting mouthful, as Andy Borowitz reveals in his usual kinda-like-a-twelve-year-old fashion as he slides in his jabs:

Traffic snarled for miles around the Capitol building as the streets filled with the penis-photo recipients, whom police sources said ranged in age from 21 to 22.

While there was no official count of the marchers, Fox News estimated the size of the crowd at twenty million while MSNBC said the number was closer to fourteen.

But seriously, folks …

I am rubbing up against a hard issue today, too.

It’s this business over taking tips that has me grabbing for the tissues.

Those San Franciscans may not be the only ones voting on whether or not to make circumcision illegal for minors.

The New York Times reports “intactivists” are fighting for a similar ballot issue in Santa Monica, arguing that the procedure is “male genital mutilation.”

“This is the furthest we’ve gotten, and it is a huge step for us,” Matthew Hess, who wrote both bills, tells the newspaper, adding that folks in other cities have been calling for help, as well. “This is a conversation we are long overdue to have in this country. The end goal for us is making cutting boys’ foreskin a federal crime.”

Although I am all in favor of moving past the point where baby boys were all but automatically circumcised … and that was the case in America for many years … this palaver seems misguided, at best, perhaps racist and possibly a dangerous diversion.

Esthetically, it’s neither here nor there to me since flaccid form seems to have no influence over function, but I do know some men long for their lost foreskin … a few with the same passion they carry resentments for stolen toys. I suppose it does give a bit more to play with, and a bit more can make all the difference in the world to some guys and the idea that they should have had some say in the matter does have merit.

From a medical perspective, phimosis must be considered. Although this super-tight foreskin problem can sometimes be stretched away, very often the only solution is surgical.

Given the drastic reduction in rates of HIV transmission circumcision offers, there also seems to be a more general advantage.

Not particularly tolerant of religious dictates, especially those involving a blade, ritual circumcision seems an unnecessary harkening back to ancient times when bathing was unusual and cheesy foreskins invited infection, then passed those along.

Cutting your kid so he looks like you seems another silly reason, and any guy who spent time in the locker room checking out the extra bit at the end the quarterback’s dick and found it unattractive was doing too much peepee peeking and should make the decision on their own sons out of more solid objectives.

The main reason, however, I’m going at it on the topic is that diversion thing I mentioned. Making a big thing out of the business of mohels … and, by the way, I understand they aren’t paid; they only take tips … is a muddying of the waters that run between removal of penile foreskin and the horrors of what is euphemistically known as female circumcision.

No matter how often the “Intactivists” toss around the words “genital mutilation” what is done to boys is NOTHING like what happens to millions of girls around the world.

From WHO:

Female genital mutilation (FGM) includes procedures that intentionally alter or injure female genital organs for non-medical reasons.

The procedure has no health benefits for girls and women.

Procedures can cause severe bleeding and problems urinating, and later, potential childbirth complications and newborn deaths.

An estimated 100 to 140 million girls and women worldwide are currently living with the consequences of FGM.

It is mostly carried out on young girls sometime between infancy and age 15 years.

In Africa an estimated 92 million girls from 10 years of age and above have undergone FGM.

FGM is internationally recognized as a violation of the human rights of girls and women.

If a bunch of people in Santa Monica want to go all high and mighty over the issue of circumcising boys, so be it, but I won’t respect them in the morning.

By the way, is Weiner with, or without?

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Caution: do NOT click on the link to the ref to this post unless you are of age and prepared to see images that some may find disturbing … if real women’s bodies can be found to be disturbing. I offer a half-assed apology to any who may be offended by this post, the subject matter being considered taboo in some quarters, but suggest those who find it a bit unsavory get the fuck over it …

With a recent post prompting a spate of speculation over the possible reasons women subject themselves to all sorts of painful and expensive surgeries in hopes of somehow improving their … what? … looks? … chances? … futures? … whatevahhh … this article, “Why Australian law demands all vaginas be digitally altered”, really got my knickers in a twist.

Although there’s a flap in the comments over the writer’s terminology, she does admit that out of some drive for easier digestion she uses “vagina” when she should be calling the parts to be altered “vulva” and I’m not bothered.

A couple of things do bother me, though, and a lot! First, the fact that I’ve gone through my whole life having NO idea that some of what went on in the world of pornographic images of women was happening. Second, the impact on the generations of women who’ve been living during the time of this ruse.

Although familiar with the barbaric practice of female genital mutilation, I must admit to being completely surprised by the fact that women in “civilized” countries have been lining up for not only boob jobs, but labiaplasty, and for many of the same reasons.

Porn, apparently, not only touts plastic tits, but altered twats. No shit?

Pardon my naiveté, please, but quite honestly I’ve never been in a position to examine another woman’s private parts, and even on the occasions I have seen pornographic images … and there have been many of those since no few men I’ve been around have found porn “entertaining” … I found myself paying more attention to the pestles than the mortars, and absolutely none to the dialog. Given the issue of location, I’ve rarely even checked out my own all that often or thoroughly, so it’s safe to say I’ve given little thought to vulvas.

I am appalled, however, to learn that even that most girly of girl parts has been subject to the airbrush, the tidy-up, the alteration.

If I handed you a pencil and paper and asked you to draw a vagina*, odds are you would come up with something like this:

Which is interesting, considering only a small minority of mature females actually have fannies that look like that. Little girls – yes, that’s pretty much what they all look like. But grown women? The vast majority have a least a peep of their ‘inner lips’ showing, even when standing upright with their legs together while sipping Earl Grey from gold-rimmed Royal Doulton and nibbling on homemade shortbread. For many women, it’s more than just a ‘peep’ – some have full-blown dangly blossoms on display. This has nothing to do with how much sex they’ve had, their state of arousal or whether they’ve borne children (although, so what if it was?). It’s simply the way they are built.

So, getting this straight … men are being taught through the handbooks most end up learning from that women should look like little girls. That sucks!

And that’s not all that sucks …

Girls are also given one more fucking thing to feel insecure, different, weird about. Another impossible Barbie image … Great. Just great.

And the terminology!

Many of those models actually have outies in real life, which have been ‘healed to a single crease’ …

Healed?

Don’t mean to pull a tit-for-twat here, but … REALLY NOW … is there anything esthetically pleasing about a pair of hairy, puckered testicles? Yet, as pointed out in the article:

Imagine for a moment if someone in the censor’s office had decided that testicles were too ‘explicit’. Imagine that to be sold over the counter at a normal newsagent, your naked pictures of men had to have their testicles digitally removed.

Yes, digital castration. Think there might be an outcry?

I know Ken has no balls, but how many men ever felt pressure to be anything like that bit of plastic?

If someone had told me there was something else to be shocked about in the world of sex, I’d have thought them underestimating my scope, but this has really thrown me, and I’d not suspected labia to be a flash point for women’s rights.

Yes, I do know there are legions of straight men who would rather not spend time looking, up close and personal, at what they consider heaven … and, quite frankly, I’ve always rather doubted the commitment to the female form in guys not totally immersed … but the knowledge that they’ve been led down some trimmed rose path has come as a surprise.

Perhaps it’s time women developed a bit of the overblown pride men sport when it comes to their sexy parts, some of that fall-to-the-knees fascination glorifying every lift and tilt and ooze that can occupy a man for hours on end.

Sure, we won’t be able to wag it over the fence with a “Lookie what I’ve got for you, Baby!”, but we don’t have to hide ours away just because it doesn’t stand quite so high and shout for attention.

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