Anyone want to engage in a conversation about the emotional development of boys?
Like I post a lot about women and the media, but I hardly, if ever touch on the emotional (lack of) development of boys
I cannot tell you how proud I am of this pun
"It’s $25 for oral, $50 for sex, $100 for anal, and $150 for Ayn Rand."
"…what’s an Ayn Rand?"
"Prostate massage. Also known as an invisible handjob."
Atheist Holiday Songs
Reader suggestion. Here goes.
"Notable covers" present the song in a significantly different way: different style, different tempo, different feel, etc. "Trad." indicates that a song is either traditional, or has been recorded so widely that identifying a definitive singular version would be rough.
I am deliberately avoiding “Christmas is Okay, Guys!” songs: that’s Tim Minchin, Dar Williams, etc. Frankly, I just don’t like them. I’m also not including any parodies or “secular versions” of established songs, because that’s cheating.
Music I Think Most Of Us In The Nothern Hemisphere Associate With The Holidays
- River by Joni Mitchell (Notable cover: Madeleine Peyroux + k.d. lang)
- Song for a Winter’s Night by Gordon Lightfoot (Notable cover: Sarah McLachlan)
- My Evergreen (Orig.) and Sleigh Ride (Trad.) by the Squirrel Nut Zippers
- I’ve Got My Love To Keep Me Warm by Ella Fitzgerald + Louis Armstrong (Trad. Notable cover: Billie Holiday)
- Greensleeves by the Baltimore Consort. (Trad.)
- A Long December by Counting Crows
- Joy to the World by Three Dog Night (“Jeremiah was a bullfrog”)
- Auld Lang Syne by Pink Martini (Trad.)
- The Galaxy Song from Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life.
- The Holly and the Ivy by the King’s College Cambridge Choir. (Trad.)
- Baby It’s Cold Outside by Louis Armstrong and Velma Middleton (Trad.)
- Fairytale of New York by The Pogues + Kirsty MacColl
- Good King Wenceslas by Loreena McKennitt (Trad.)
- Across the Universe by the Beatles
Music I Associate With The Holidays, But You Might Not, And That’s Okay
- Beethoven’s 6th Symphony (“The Pastoral Symphony”)
- All The Things You Are by Ella Fitzgerald (Trad.)
- Donkey Riding by Great Big Sea (Trad.)
- When You Go by Jonathan Coulton
- Good Riddance by Green Day
- Jupiter from The Planets by Gustav Holst
- If I Had You by Nellie McKay (Trad.)
- Life On Mars by David Bowie (Notable cover by The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain)
- P.S. I Love You by Billie Holiday (Trad.)
- Half The Perfect World by Madeleine Peyroux
- Here Comes Your Ride by Holidays on Ice
The Problem With Living Saints
The problem I have with a lot of the memorializing of Nelson Mandela is that it takes place in a context where we shame people for their anger.
Bluntly, a lot of people were—and still are—angry about apartheid, and about a million and one greater or lesser wrongs done to hundreds of other groups at various times in human history. (And, indeed, to this day. Many of them in this very country.) These people inevitably have to compete against a powerful cultural meme: “You’re way too angry. Why can’t you be more like Mandela? And MLK Jr.? And Gandhi? Why do you have to be all emotional?”
But let’s be real here. There’s nothing inherently wrong with anger. In fact, channelled appropriately, anger—even seething, white-hot rage—can be one of the most potent forces for political and social change we’ve got. (What motivated Rosa Parks to tell that bus driver to screw off? It definitely wasn’t her innate sweetness and gentle personality…) Indeed, when someone is being mistreated so egregiously and utterly that they find themselves occupying a position of white-hot rage, perhaps this suggests that, rather than dismissing them as overly-emotional and incapable of logical thought and therefore unworthy of our attention, we should be striving even harder to listen, and understand, and parse what they’re trying to communicate?
Angry people can, of course, be wrong. Anger can be misplaced, or misguided, or manipulated by sinister forces, or channelled in purely destructive ways, or bound up in conflicts which, upon analysis, are less significant than they may initially appear.
But so can love and kisses, yes?
I keep hearing about this guy who encountered a rude passenger on board a flight and decided to REALLY TEACH HER A LESSON by passing her abusive notes.
Here’s the thing.
I used to work in customer service: for most of my university career, I was a venue manager for the Department of Theatre, which included responsibility for frontline customer service. When you asked to speak to a manager, I’m the person they brought out.
You know what literally NEVER EVER EVER made a customer service situation better?
Someone else deciding to “teach a lesson”.
I understand the impulse. Really, I do. But this isn’t a court of law. Nobody’s keeping score. My job as a customer service representative isn’t to adjudicate the situation or crown a winner, my job is to end the dispute so we can all move on with our lives. And when one party to that dispute keeps smacking and smacking away, regardless of how correct that person is?
Fuck that person.
You think you’re going to educate this woman about the importance of considering the feelings of others, or teach us all a valuable lesson about being nice to customer service staff, or show support for the flight attendants? Because you aren’t. Those flight attendants have a bajillion more important things to be doing with their time and energy than dealing with a scab you insist on picking away at.
And in this specific case, when this woman—who was clearly having a dreadful day—specifically asked him to stop sending her notes, and he decided to double down instead? That’s just straight-up childish. (Yes, the other passenger was behaving childishly as well. Doesn’t mean I suddenly want to be responsible for the care and feeding of TWO six-year-olds.)
You want to support the poor schlubs who are stuck dealing with rude customers? You want to be an ally? You want to help out and acknowledge the difficulty in these situations?
Give us a sympathetic smile and roll your eyes. Thank us privately. Write something on the comment card. Shoot an email to our employer. (“I was on flight BG 6724 from Windsor to Sudbury, and I’d like to talk to you about the excellent service provided by Tanya X.”) Be extra-nice to us when it’s your turn.
But DO NOT, under any circumstances, white-knight for us. Literally everything you do at that point will make our lives harder.
But Guys, capitalism is inherently fair!!
If the market demanded that Walmart Workers get paid, oh idk a living wage, then they would be paid a living wage.
But the market has spoken and thus it is morally wrong!!!! Absolutely WONG for those workers to be demanding a penny more.
Have they no regard for market forces??
How inconsiderate of them!!
Exchanges with the Universe: How An Atheist Deals With Death
One of the most common questions people ask atheists: how do you deal with death? How do you confront it? How do you stare it down?
My answer to this question starts in my lungs.
My lungs absorb oxygen from the atmosphere and expel carbon dioxide. Everyone knows that.
But when I inhale, oxygen doesn’t just get sucked into my lungs: it enters my bloodstream. It interacts with my muscles and tissue. It moves and swirls through my body. It, in effect, becomes a part of me, exactly the same as the molecules which make up my skin, and my muscles, and my kidneys, and my brain.
And every time I exhale, the same thing happens in reverse: hundreds of thousands of molecules of carbon dioxide, all of which have just been part of my body, get pushed out and merge back into the atmosphere.
Breathing, then, isn’t just a process of pulling oxygen into the bloodstream: it’s a process of exchanging a little bit of yourself with the universe. Every time you inhale, a little bit of the atmosphere becomes part of you; every time you exhale, a little bit of you becomes part of the atmosphere.
The oxygen I breathe is the same oxygen you do. The same oxygen our ancestors did. The same oxygen our descendants will. The same oxygen that lemurs and ocelots and humpback whales do. Some of it may be diverted into other environmental processes, and all of it has to be periodically recycled from carbon dioxide, but we’re all sipping from the same cup.
This isn’t just true of oxygen.
18% of my body is made up of carbon. And the carbon I’m made of is the exact same carbon that trees are made of; the exact same carbon that the dinosaurs munched as the asteroids hurtled towards earth; the exact same carbon that was fired from cannons during the golden age of piracy; the exact same carbon that makes champagne fizzy; the exact same carbon that rose in enormous, sooty pillars of smoke from the ovens at Auschwitz.
As with oxygen, I exchange carbon with the universe. Practically everything I eat contains it, and practically everything that leaves my body does, too, even in little ways: every time a tiny little bit of skin flakes off, or a hair grows a micron longer, I’m pushing a teeny wee hunk of carbon back into the universe.
But if all I’m doing is exchanging, this means that none of this carbon, or this oxygen, or any other part of me really belongs to me. I’m borrowing it. I’m inheriting it from the people who used it before I was born; I’m sharing it with the people, animals, plants and other things and processes with which I share this planet; and when I die, I’ll be handing my components—every single part of me—down to the people who come after me.
Because that’s how it ends.
The water will leave my body and pour into the aquifer: it will run along streams and rivers, splash up on beaches, belt down from the sky, and eventually enter the vast, vast oceans which dominate our planet.
The carbon will leave my body, enter the soil, and fertilize the countless things which grow on and in it. From there, it will feed people, or animals, or become books and newspapers, or furniture, or simply be allowed to grow as tall and mighty as it possibly can.
The oxygen will leave my body, return to the sky, and give sustenance to someone halfway around the world: someone I’ll never meet, someone who doesn’t know I exist, but someone with who I share every part of me, and who shares every part of themselves in return.
And in this manner, I will complete my final exchange with the universe.