Ratfuck Journal

Religion and Politics are venal twins…that's what we're about


Remember Momism? Phillip Wylie coined the phrase “momism” in his 1942 savagely spiteful collection of screeds called “Generation of Vipers” in which he ranted on and on about everything that was wrong with everything…the world’s devotion to mothers being only one of society’s pathologies which, according to Wylie, had ruined the world.

Were Wylie alive today (he died of a heart attack in 1971)…one wonders if he would devote a few thousand choice words to Kidism.

I mention this, only because of the May 23rd killing spree of University of California student Elliot Rodger in Santa Barbara. The thing that is not mentioned much, but that probably carries more importance as to the “why” of this rampage than any other reason is that Elliot Rodger’s every whim during childhood was indulged in by his parents. Elliot Rodger’s parents practiced kidism to its maximum degree.

At one point in his 141-page Manifesto, Rodger says that after his parents divorced when he was seven years old he liked staying with his mother more than his father because “she indulged me more than my father”. But it was his father who had the bigger house, more money, more wherewithal to indulge his son. Young Elliot may have liked his mother’s parenting more, but he loved the grandiosity of his father’s life-style. And in fact, he said he was embarrassed by his mother’s small house.

Elliot Rodger speaks of how he was short and underdeveloped when he was young, that he was bullied and not liked in school, that he was made fun of. But when he was at home, it is clear he was a very important person…he had power. He developed a sense that just being Elliot Rodger entitled him to happiness, love, respect and actually, anything he wanted…he didn’t have to do anything, or in Rodger’s estimation, he shouldn’t have had to do anything but sit back and receive the perks he saw others had and that he was, by his very existence, entitled to.

The Rodger’s raised a brat. And, needless to say, not all brats go on to kill people when the world doesn’t reward them for being alive. But the current trend toward kidism among parents is certainly raising thousands of brats and Elliot Rodger was one of those entitled brats.

Yes, Elliot Rodger acquired an arsenal of guns to complete his massacre. But it’s not the guns and it’s not the NRA in this particular shooting scenario that are to blame for these killings. It’s Elliot Rodger’s sense of foiled entitlement that made him want to exact revenge.

He said that girls were his problem…girls didn’t like him. Rodger never considered that he was unlikeable or that in any relationship he had to earn love and respect. He certainly hadn’t needed to give anything back to his parents in the way of being loving. He had only needed to demand, or whine, or cry or have a tantrum. Elliot Rodger was raised to expect the world should react to him in the same way his parents had reacted—everyone should love him, praise him, give him whatever he wanted because he existed.

Had Rodger not been able to acquire guns, he would have built bombs…or used knives, hatpins or razor blades to kill people because the world needed to know that Elliot Rodger was worthy of worship, not dismissal, sleights and disregard.

Was Elliot Rodger just a brat gone wrong, or was he a sociopath or psychopath? These are unanswered questions, and they may be unanswerable. But the kidism practiced by his parents cannot be discounted.

US District Court Nonsense

Yesterday, I received a questionnaire in the mail from the United States District Court Eastern District for Pennsylvania. It was to determine my eligibility to serve as a juror in the US District Court. I was told my name had been drawn by random selection. Thirteen years ago, I officially and in writing, opted out of jury service…that’s an option one can take at age 70 and I availed myself of it.

The print copy of the questionnaire was from the 1970’s. The Yes or No questions had a little oval that had to be filled-in completely with a No. 2 pencil (with “heavy black marks” we were advised), ink pens or ballpoint pens were a strict no-no. A postage-free envelope for returning the questionnaire came with the questionnaire. The instructions noted that it could alternatively be submitted online through a dot-gov site called eJuror. I did it that way, and it was easy and totally tech-savvy. All the questions were the same as the ones on the print version.

I don’t understand why I got the questionnaire at all…random is one thing, but doesn’t the US District Court keep records? And sending out forms devised forty or fifty years ago is ridiculous. Who or what tabulates the answers on these ancient forms? Does the US District Court still use daisy wheel printers? And yes, I could opt-out because of age, just as I had before…but I had to go through the drill again.

But the question I really wonder about is: Why was I asked if I am “Black/African American…Asian…American Indian/Alaska Native…White…Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander…Other (specify)” ?And separately I was asked if I am Hispanic or Latino. Why is that a separate question? The questionnaire says these questions are asked in order to ensure that all people are represented on juries. That just doesn’t scan for me. This was a preliminary random questionnaire…why are these questions asked on a preliminary random questionnaire? And when one is called up for jury duty, there are all kinds of ways that lawyers can keep “all people” from being represented on juries—challenges for cause…peremptory challenges, etc. Juries are definitely not represented by all people…but why the bullshit on this form?

Getting answers to these questions about ethnicity does not ensure that all people will be represented on juries…but what are these questions for? All dot.gov forms ask these same questions about ethnicity. Why? Presumably, being qualified for assistance or for any government program is not based on ethnicity…is it?

Well, is it?

The Holy Life

In the Christian religion it’s impossible to arrive at a consensus as to what a holy life is. This is because there is no consensus in Christianity as to what Christianity is. The born-agains have one model, the Roman Catholic Church has another model, Protestant religions have another model.

However, one can say that the most widely-followed forms of Christian religion base their tenets on the Bible’s New Testament English version commonly called the King James Bible completed and printed in 1611. And the Jesus Christ that is presented to us in the 27 accepted books of the New Testament in all the various Christian churches throughout the world is the Jesus Christ we are to follow and emulate. Presumably, if we do that, adhering to whatever model of Christian religion we choose. then we will come close to living a holy life.

The odd thing is, if we fashion ourselves after the Jesus Christ that is presented to us in the New Testament, we would not be living the holy life our churches claim is Christian. We can only live a holy life if we follow the teaching of Christian churches. Emulating the way Jesus acted is not good enough.

We are told Jesus said, “Love each other as I have loved you”. If we look to Jesus’s actions for guidance on loving each other, we would see that he sharply criticized his followers when they fell short of his expectations (Matthew 16:23); he was sarcastic to them (Mark 8:14); he was inconsiderate to his mother and father (Matthew 12:46; Luke 2:41); he sassed his mother (John 2:1); he was nasty to a non-Jewish woman who asked for his healing (Matthew 15:21). On the plus side, he accepted everyone into his inner circle and was not judgmental about life styles and behaviors. and he cautioned that anyone abusing little children was putting his soul in jeopardy.

In other words, Jesus loved the way most of us love…very humanly and sometimes thoughtlessly.

Jesus railed against the rules and practices in the organized religion of his day and preached that there needed to be changes.

Jesus railed against the theologians of his day who were also the political leaders of his day.

Jesus did not follow the religious dietary rules of his day; Jesus did not follow the religious rules of his day against touching unclean persons, which made him unclean.

And Matthew 16:24 shows that Jesus was very arrogant.

According to the picture of how Jesus lived and acted that the New Testament shows us, yes, I believe I live a holy life. But according to the after-the-fact spin Christianity put on Jesus’ actions, when I act the way Jesus acted, I am not being anywhere near holy enough.

Are You Atypical? Pharms, Doctors and Shrinks Want to Fix You

Two articles in the New York Times Today (“Attention Disorder Spurs Research”; “The Trouble With Too Much T”) made my hair stand on end. Even though the world continues to be horrified by the aims of the Nazis to rid the earth of people it deemed inferior and to form a super race, and even though we are still pointing fingers at Germany for its sins seventy years ago, our medical, pharmaceutical and psychiatric industries are doing the same thing with little objection or criticism from reasonable thoughtful people around the world.

The NYT tells us that an article in the “Journal of Abnormal Psychiatry” reports that many of the world’s children may not only have ADHD (attention deficit hyperactive disorder)—which diagnosis is allowing doctors and psychiatrists to overmedicate youngsters because parents want their children to calm down and be smarter. But the world’s children may also have SCT (sluggish cognitive tempo), which diagnosis, the shrinks assure us, can also be treated with the drugs used for ADHD. Never mind that the malady sounds like it would be the opposite syndrome of ADHD–the Journal says both ADHD and SCT focus on “inattentive” children.

SCT has not been formally admitted to the shrinks’ Bible—Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders—nor does the new disease have an agreed-upon list of symptoms. But a preliminary list of symptoms that are being found in children and which can be medicated with the ADHD drugs, are, the Journal says: lethargy, daydreamyness and slowness in mental processing.

Admittedly, though many child psychiatrists view the recent SCT news to be “an exciting finding”, and a spokeswoman from pharmaceutical firm Eli Lily said that SCT is a condition it “continues to study to help satisfy unmet medical needs around the world”, many psychiatrists feel SCT is just the latest fad which has been invented to sell drugs.

Nevertheless, diverse behaviors and physical conditions that have always been seen as acceptable by society and by the medical and psychiatric industries are being switched over into the “unacceptable” column of conditions that need to be treated and eradicated. How different is this from the aims of Nazi Germany?

And even more horrifying and hair-raising is the second article in today’s NYT, which is about women in sports who are being forced to take drugs and have surgeries when they are found to have more testosterone than is thought to be normal. “Forced” is a strong word. But sports-governing federations mandate that a female athlete must undergo tests to prove that she is a woman if it’s thought she has too much natural-occurring testosterone in her body. If it is found she does have too much “T”, she will be told she has to have surgeries and take drugs to lower her T level, or she will be banned forever from sports competition. Some woman are born with internal testes that raise their T level. Two of the surgeries a woman with too much T are forced to have is surgical removal of these testes and surgical removal of the clitoris. All of these procedures are draconian and unnecessary since a high T level does not mean a woman has an edge in performance in sports.

As far as I can tell, doctors and psychiatrists are making narrower and narrower determinations about the conditions they deem to be normal and the conditions they view as unacceptable and needful of eradication or drug therapy.

Right after World War II, I enrolled in the music school at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. I remember being herded into the university gymnasium with the other freshman women and told to take my clothes off. (Back, then, one did not argue with authority…it was a procedure I had to go through in order to be a U of I student, like it or not.) I was photographed front, sides and back, totally naked, in front of a panel of men and women. We were told we were part of a study on scoliosis. Many years later I found out I had been part of a eugenics (controlled breeding) study on female body types.

Are we sliding into mandatory genetic altering “for the good of mankind”? Yes, I think so. And it scares me!!!!!!!

The Voice of God and the Archbishop

The latest message from Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, is that he has decided to be a follower not a leader of the Anglican Church.

Welby is in hot water over remarks he has recently made about same-sex marriages. On that subject in Oklahoma this past December he said, “I think we need to be aware of the realities on the ground, in our own countries and around the world, and to take those into account when we’re moving forward…we never speak exclusively to ourselves, but we speak in a way which is heard widely around the world. ” Last week on a radio show in Britain, Welby said, “I have stood by gravesides in Africa of a group of Christians who had been attacked because of something that had happened in America. We have to listen to that.” In explaining this remark, Welby said the massacre in Africa was influenced by western acceptance of same-sex marriage.

The Archbishop says the Church of England is in a two-year process of talking about same-sex marriage. “We are not going simply to jump to a conclusion,” Welby said, “we have to make sure that we hear the voice of the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay. Bisexual, Transgender) communities, which themselves in many parts of the world, including our own countries, suffer a great deal, and we also need to hear very carefully the voices of other members of the church, of other faiths, of ecumenical partners, so that it is a genuine process of listening, and in listening to each other, to listen to the voice of God.”

In other words, for the next two years, Welby intends to do nothing and to listen to what the world and God says about same-sex marriage.

I have no doubt that voices about same-sex marriage from groups around the world will be quite clear. I also have no doubt that Welby is hopeful that these voices will say what Welby is being very careful not to say, and that is that same-sex marriage is an abomination. By doing nothing and by saying that he is “listening”, Welby has effectively passed the buck to anti-gay ranters around the globe.

But Welby says he’s also going to listen to the voice of God. What will Welby hear?

Anti-abortion zealots listen to the voice of God. He tells them that killing zygotes is wrong but killing people that kill zygotes is right. Tea Party right-wingers listen to the voice of God. He tells them that poor people are poor by their own fault. Born-again Christians listen to the voice of God. He tells them that only Christians will go to heaven, everyone else will go to hell.

Old Testament patriarchs listened to the voice of God. He told them to kill anyone who didn’t believe in their one God. Old Testament women listened to the voice of God. He told one to murder a man in his bed; he told two sisters to have sex with their father.

The members of the Roman Catholic Church listen to the voice of God. He tells them that only men can be priests, sex should lead to pregnancy or not be indulged in, abortion and contraception are sins, homosexuality is a sin and when communion is received the bread actually becomes the body of Christ and the wine actually becomes the blood of Christ.

What will Archbishop Justin Welby hear when he listens to the voice of God? Justin Welby will hear exactly what he wants to hear…just as the human race has done for as long as the human race has believed in God.

Climate Change is Happening

All the otherwise intelligent people who don’t believe in global warming are going to have to pull their heads out of the sand, if not out of their asses. Climate across the globe is changing and it’s because of the actions of unthinking human beings. This morning, the New York Times reported that the secretary general of the World Meteorological Organization Michel Jarraud said, “Now we are at the point where there is so much information, so much evidence, that we can no longer plead ignorance. “ And, a hopeful sign is that governments and businesses around the globe are making changes to “adapt to climate disruptions”, such as preventing future damage from flooding and raising flood walls.

But the major change that is going to have to be faced by the US and other large countries on this planet is that we must cut down on greenhouse gases—emissions like carbon dioxide from cars and power plants that kill earth’s animals and creatures that live in our oceans and cause frozen Arctic soils to melt. In addition, a consequence of climate change is that the world’s food supply is under risk which is leading to even greater incidents of starvation around the world.

Climate change is here and it’s a serious problem. And no matter how much politicians want to pretend it isn’t happening, we have to start undoing the damage we’ve done to ourselves. And we have to do it NOW.

The Problem With Empathy

John Boehner is a selfish, narrow-minded Republican troglodyte. But when he says, as he was reported in the New York Times this morning to have said: “Since the passage of the farm bill, states have found ways to cheat once again on signing up people for food stamps,” I am now fully aware that he cannot understand—and the fact that he doesn’t want to understand is a separate failing—the horrors of living in poverty. Boehner is incapable of empathy where poverty is concerned…he does not feel poor people’s pain. If people are poor it’s their fault, is his position.

 His statement, quoted in the NYT, needs a bit of clarifying. What he was saying is that the farm bill has given states a way to allow people to receive food stamps that was not available before, and according to Boehner, those states that utilize this way of awarding food stamps are “cheating”. 

 As is right and proper, a NYT editorial roundly criticized Boehner this morning for his rhetoric and his beliefs.

 But the fact is, John Boehner is no more capable of understanding that poverty is not a weakness in character and/or a divine judgement from God, than I am capable of changing the color of my eyes without artificial help.

Usually, when one reaches a conclusion, one has a solution to the conclusion problem. I have none. Oust John Boehner is about the best I can do.


Debunking…One Can’t Resist

So…the last Trapp Family singer has died. Last Tuesday, February 18, 2014, Maria von Trapp died at age 99.

Maria was the eldest daughter of Georg and Agathe von Trapp. Agathe died of scarlet fever in 1922. It was then that young school teacher and postulant to a Roman Catholic nunnery Maria Kutshera, was hired by Georg von Trapp to tutor his daughter Maria who had been severely ill with scarlet fever and had missed a lot of school.

The von Trapp’s had five other children, but Maria was hired as a tutor only for Maria.

When Rogers and Hammerstein wrote the music and lyrics for “The Sound of Music”– the musical fictionalization of the von Trapp story–history had to be rewritten. History often is inconvenient and unromantic. Captain von Trapp actually had been a loving, warm father, not a strict martinet. Georg’s daughter’s name was changed from Maria to Louisa because the heroine’s name was Maria. The family didn’t walk across the Alps shortly after Georg and Maria married, toting baggage and musical instruments. Georg and Maria married in 1927 and left Nazi-Germany by train in 1935 with no interference from the authorities.

And that’s for starters. But my memory of Maria von Trapp dates from 1958.

At the time, I was secretary to Muriel Francis, a New York press agent for opera singers and musicians. Muriel’s client list included opera stars Ezio Pinza, Lily Pons, Rise Stevens, Blanche Thebom, Phyllis Curtin, composers Marc Blitzstein and Ned Rorem and architect Edward Durrell Stone. I loved knowing little inside stories like Lily Pons’ flutist always had to play flat because Lily Pons invariably sang flat. Muriel’s crew of press agents made up things about the client list and fed the nonsense to columnists who wrote for New York papers. Some of the stories were true, but most of them were silly lies.

The von Trapp singers had disbanded in 1957. However, because of the popularity of the “Sound of Music” musical which opened on Broadway in 1959 with Mary Martin, matriarch Maria was appearing on talk shows. By then, she was 53 and living in Stowe, VT. Georg had died of lung cancer in 1947. The day Maria von Trapp came into Muriel’s office for a sit-down with her press agent was a red-letter day for me. I could not wait to see the famous Maria von Trapp in the flesh.

I can’t remember who went to the front door of Muriel’s townhouse/office at 116 East 65th Street to let the von Trapp entourage in. It probably was Edgar Vincent, Muriel’s star press agent…he was an extremely handsome and elegant man. I had to make up a reason to go into Muriel’s inner sanctum to see Maria and whoever came with her. I think I asked if anyone wanted tea or coffee. Maria was holding forth as I came in. She had brought four or so of the von Trapp singers with her. The men…and by now, all of the male von Trapps were well into their forties…were wearing leder hosen…you know, those leather shorts with leather suspenders. And the women, Maria included, were wearing peasant dirndl skirts with leather cummerbunds and white frilly blouses. I stood in the door, transfixed.

Maria was standing up–she was a very imposing big woman, tall and substantial–she was laughing loudly. When she spoke, she talked in a commanding voice that sounded like Marjorie Main doing Ma Kettle. Finally, Muriel turned to me and glared and I realized I needed to absent myself and I left.

Maria von Trapp hired on as a consultant to the producers of the “Sound of Music” musical. She told them that Mary Martin was far too “tame” to play Maria. They didn’t listen to her, of course. The “Sound of Music” movie of 1965 with Julie Andrews as Maria von Trapp put the finishing touches on the von Trapp family history rewrite. Now that the eldest daughter of Georg and Agathe von Trapp is dead, there is no further impediment to a beatification and canonization of Mary Julie Maria Martin Andrews von Trapp as Roman Catholic saint.

I Repeat, Our Doctors Are Killing Us

An Op/Ed piece in the New York Times this morning (“We Are Giving Ourselves Cancer”) reports that the increased and unnecessary use of high-dose radiation in hospitals has gone off the charts in the last 20 years. The article says that, “The radiation doses of CT scans are 100 to 1,000 times higher than conventional X-rays…but there is distressingly little evidence of better health outcomes associated with the current high rate of scans…there is, however, evidence of its harms…CT scanners were once rare, but now many Americans undergo a CT scan every year and many get more than one.”

A telling, though woefully underplayed sentence follows: “CT scanners cost millions of dollars; having made that investment, purchasers are strongly incentivized to use them.” Also, we are told, the growth is a result of multiple facts, including a desire for early diagnosis, but “direct-to-consumer advertising and the financial interests of doctors and imaging centers” is a huge factor.

A 2009 study from the National Cancer Institute estimated that CT scans conducted in 2007 would cause 29,000 excess cancer cases and 14,500 excess deaths over the lifetime of those exposed. It is impossible to know how much that estimate has increased over the last 6 six of monumentally increased use of CT scans, but the NYT says it is probably in the hundreds of thousands.

A shocking bit of data in the article is that “emergency room physicians routinely order multiple CT scans even before meeting a patient…such practices, for which there is little or no evidence of benefit, should be eliminated.”

The article goes on to report that, “We know that these tests are overused. But even when they are appropriately used, they are not always done in the safest ways possible…there are no specific guidelines for what these doses are, and there is considerable variation within and between institutions. The dose at one hospital can be as much as 50 times stronger than at another.”

The NYT ends with a salubrious, weasel-worded send-off: “Neither doctors nor patients want to return to the days before CT scans. But we need to find ways to use them without killing people in the process.”

What we really need are doctors and hospitals that have a prime interest in their patients and not a prime interest in making money. Our doctors not only have gotten into bed with the pharmaceutical industry and are prescribing unnecessary and/or dangerous drugs when a drug firm pays them to do so…OUR DOCTORS ARE KILLING US.

The Pope’s Wishful Thinking

I am reposting here, a Facebook post of mine from January 26, 2014.

Yesterday, Pope Francis had an audience with a group of Italian women. The Associated Press reported that he “insisted” that women take on “greater responsibilities in the church as well as in professional and public spheres”. He said he has been heartened that “many women share some pastoral responsibilities with priests in looking after persons, families and groups” and he said he had hoped that “the spaces for a more diffuse and incisive presence in the church be expanded.”

In some parishes, Pope Francis said, “women visit parishioners too frail to come to church, run prayer groups and outreach programs to the poor, as well as help distribute communion to the faithful at Masses, especially in churches with large congregations.” He read from a document he had written last November that made it clear women would never be ordained in the Roman Catholic Church because Jesus was a man. But he praised women for their “sensitivity and intuition” toward the “weak and unprotected” Francis said women’s presence in a domestic setting turns out to be “so necessary for the transmission to future generations of solid moral principles and the very transmission of the faith.” He said we cannot “forget the irreplaceable role of the woman in a family…families benefit from women’s gifts of delicateness, special sensitivity and tenderness.”

If ever there was a man out of touch, that man is Pope Francis.

His remarks reminded me of the mouthings of Home Ec teachers in the 40’s and 50’s. Or the blather of Phyllis Schlafly who opposed feminism and counseled women to dress up when their men came home from work and cater to them like geishas. Pope Franny thinks the little woman is delicate, sensitive, tender and intuitive and she needs to stay at home and look after her children and her husband and be a tool for the Roman Catholic Church.

The Pope has chosen to ignore the fact that women run countries now, women fight in wars, women are the CEO’s of large companies, in addition to being mothers and wives. The Pope also seems to choose to ignore the fact that his view of how women should comport themselves and take on “greater responsibilities” is simply the old RCC view of women when it encouraged them to be unpaid cleaning ladies and cooks for priests, breeders of babies, uncomplaining family slaves and compliant sex objects for husbands.

How many metaphors are there for what Pope Francis is trying to do and which can’t be done? A bell can’t be unrung, toothpaste can’t be put back in the tube, this ship has already sailed, and you can’t keep them down on the farm once they’ve seen Paree. The fight not to be barefoot in the winter and pregnant in the summer has been fought and won by women, Pope Franny. Now you and the RCC are the ones who have to change or content yourselves with being a religion run by liars, dissemblers and fools, with parishioners who pay no mind whatsoever to the Holy See in Rome but respect and pray to God in the way they see fit.