iran79This is a picture of women protesting the forced Hijab in Iran days after the 1979 revolution. Don’t forget this and the fact that they lost this freedom when you are defending the Hijab.

Is it really too hard hard to hold two thoughts in mind at the same time? You can be tolerant toward emigrants AND see the ways their culture is anti-women (and gays, and freedom of speech). Your ancestors saw these things in OUR culture and fought them, not to success, but to an ever threatened improvement. It’s obvious that right wing Americans consider equal rights for women to be a political football and very much in play.

Progress is never a settled issue. Ignoring the things your own mothers hated having forced upon them, while claiming a feminist perspective is cognitive dissonance. Other cultures are not wiser, purer, better than us. It’s like saying you can’t understand what food tastes like. Taste it.

Also… The image to the right does not represent my opinion, I’m critiquing it. hkapology
This is a logical fallacy, a false equivalence on several levels.
It aims to equate honor killings, a socially accepted, cold blooded, ethically based rationale for murdering a family member with a sampled statistic for north american murders of women.

1. We consider murder a horrible crime with no religious or other mitigation. Where honor killings are practiced they are seen by some as murder and by many as a cultural/religious obligation.
2. They also have regular horrible murders, which the article ignores entirely, satisfied with the math it’s done so far.
3. In standard Islam, a man is committing no crime by beating his wife. In fact it is a cultural norm approved by religious authorities.
4. Ultimately what does the article wish us to think? It seems that the idea is to neutralize any outrage at honor killings by saying to ourselves: “I live in a flawed place too, Who am I to judge?”

And don’t forget in Islamic courts , known in many places as “THE court” women’s testimony counts half or even a third as much as a man’s. The cultural norms we are talking about display a pattern of treating women as goods and chattels and should be despised by people who are happy to see that idea stamped out here.
It’s astounding to me that a woman taking a theoretically feminist stance would write this letter which plays out as becoming an apologist on the subject of honor killings. I could imagine virtually the same letter being written by a conservative Islamic cleric.

There is a huge taboo on disliking and judging  any culture except our own. Hating OUR culture is a given in politically correct circles. I have no comfortable seat on this subject, as the right wing tends to only like “our culture” in the same way the people with gluten allergies like baked goods. If there’s a conclusion, it’s that when you separate something from the political scrum around it, you can see it’s merits and failings for exactly what they are.



As usual, I’m thinking “out loud” here. I guess that means, awkwardly, and in public.

Anyone who is thoughtfully worried by Islam finds themselves in an awkward position. On one side are traditional right wingers who don’t like Muslims because they are outsiders and immigrants. This is just the usual “stranger danger” anti-immigration issue. This group is a range from people who are simply negative about it, to people who could easily be stirred up to violence. This is not a thoughtful and considered position. I want to wear a sign around my neck saying: “I’m not with these people”.

From the left one gets categorized as a racist for expressing fears about Islam. Considering the extreme side of the first group, you can see WHY liberals might go here. But this is also not a thoughtful or considered position.  I believe liberals are guilty of being lazy here and choosing convenience and simplicity over a somewhat complex response.

(Just a disclaimer before going on here: Scientifically speaking, race does not exist, but I need to use the terms in play as they are meant by the people using them.)

Islam is no more a race than Christianity or Buddhism. How could it be? It’s funny but both left and right are over simplifying Islam into the same thing. Outsiders. The right is focused on barring those “unpleasantly different” folks and the left is standing up for them, wanting to give a warm welcome. You know, embrace diversity.

By “rounding down” Islam to a nickname for middle eastern people and conflating concerns about it to racism, liberals are engaging in convenient short term thinking. They may also be poisoning the argument in a way that works against their central values. “Islamophobia” as a word is a cork meant to be shoved into the mouths of anyone speaking out. Since Islam is not a race, but a religion this amounts to a war on free thought and speech. It becomes a thought crime to criticize it. And all of this done underneath the banner of letting people believe what they believe.

Minor Thought Experiment:

Liberals, imagine you live in Eugene, Oregon or some other solidly left wing community. Diversity is embraced, alt-lifestyles are accepted. Suddenly a very large stream of outsiders begin moving in, buying houses, starting businesses, running for school board, etc. Consider your response if they are:

  • Mormons
  • Scientologists
  • Funded by the Koch brothers
  • Jehovah’s Witnesses
  • Randites

For simplicity, imagine all those groups mashed up into one. Imagine their name is “Surrender to the Power”. Imagine they believe overall:

  • In sexual segregation and shame based clothing for women
  • That a woman’s testimony is worth half that of a man
  • That once someone has joined, death is the punishment for leaving
  • That violence is an appropriate response to blasphemy

They aren’t ALL this strict but it’s generally true. Taken person by person they are all nice enough. But they are sending the message that women in this town seem immodest. And on the school board they want make the curriculum more in line with their beliefs. Don’t be a hypocritical dipshit here. You are going to be worried and upset. That’s because these are beliefs and values that starkly contrast with your own. Education, free speech and equal rights are all being diluted into a mix with the “Surrender to the Power” system. You would be upset because your philosophical system and values are being lost. Your children will grow up in a world less free and open than yours was.

I claim the right to criticize modes of thinking and behaving


I have always been intrigued by the Placebo effect. Especially the fact that drama and style are part of how it works. For example a red pill or a bigger pill will often have a bigger effect. We know that the effect is real and that people experience real relief from symptoms, and often improved health generally. This raises some interesting questions. 
  • If a doctor (say, on a desert island) had no real medicine left, just some sugar pills, wouldn’t it logically  be ethical for him to hide this fact from his patients and even do his best to play up the theatrical side to deliver the strongest “dosage” possible? 
  • Doesn’t it mean that tribal style shamanic healers were actually doing what they could for their patients? And at least to a degree succeeding? 
  • When drug trials get to the human testing level, do the experimenters take the effect into account? When judging results do they allow a sort of fudge factor both for the control group and the test group? Because they would both be affected. How do they “zero out” the effect?
  • How to understand the impact of things like size and shape and color (and communicated expectations) on the prescriptions we use daily? 
  • Would it ever be medically unethical to tell someone experiencing a benefit that it was only a placebo?
  •  If we know it helps the effect for the pill to have some “show biz” should real prescription pills be designed also to impress? Are they already? 
Interesting also that there is a Nocebo Effect evidenced in people with very negative expectations and fears. They can experience apparent psychogenic discomforts from sugar pills or real medicine. It’s believed that this can also be a factor in patients who experience more side effects. 
  • During the Plasticine era dinosaurs were squishy and easily shaped.
  •  I hate the Playa AND the Game.
  •  Seattle socializing: “Hey, let’s try to meet sometime before we die! You know, if it’s convenient”
  •  I’ve started making artisanal ice in my own freezer using free-range water I collect by hand with a silver thimble. Prices upon request.
  •  God never closes a door without opening a window. And he never closes a window without leaving the tap dripping. And he never turns the tap off without leaving a freakin t-shirt on the floor.
  • How many nuns would a nunchuck chuck if a nunchuck could chuck nuns?
  • All that glitters has a high refractive index.
  • It might look like I’m doing nothing, but at the cellular level I’m really quite busy.
  • “In your FACE, baby peach!” A sane person might possibly say that after a very difficult race in Mario Kart.
  • I believe it was Mel Gibson who once said: “Why you ******* ***** I ought to ***** you and you ought to *********** ***** **** my ******** ****!”
  • I really hurt my neck the other day and now have zero range of motion looking to my left. I’d like to encourage anything interesting that happens to stand to my right.
  • Weird dreams, I was helping the three stooges build a waterfront resort. The night before, I killed a chihuahua in a microwave. The portents are mysterious…
  • New on TLC this season: “I didn’t know I was obese, little, paralyzed and pregnant”
  • Bad Beth and Beyond…One Woman’s Sensuous Journey
  • Davejavu: I’m sure I’ve met you before, Dave.




My Great Grandfather, Karl Oscar Lundstrom wrote this letter to his wife, my Great Grandma Henrika. 

Dieppe the 20th of June 1883

My dear beloved wife, live well. Many thanks for your welcome letters which came today, it was a great joy for me. Any other earthly joy can’t be compared to this one, when I heard that you are still alive and in good health. I am in good health too, thanks god, till now and God, may these simple lines find you, my noble wife by the same precious gift of grace. I don’t know anything better to wish for than that.
We have to be separated, but in thoughts we can embrace each other I hope. If God helps me, then I can take your hand once again just like the hands here above and I can press you to my heart with devoted love. May god give us soon that day.

We stayed here longer than we thought to, but now the cargo is taken in and we are nearly ready to go out to sea. I wrote a letter the 13th of this month. You hadn’t had it yet when you wrote your letter but perhaps even got it the next day, I don’t know. Please write to me again as soon as you can, so I can know how you are. Remember me to Father and Mother, sisters and brothers, relatives and friends. Tell the first and last of them, you are all remembered.
My consolation, my joy, Goodbye.
Respectfully yours,

K.O. Lundstrom

If you haven’t had the first letter yet I write the address here
Sailor K.O. Lundstrom
The Swedish ship FRANS



I made these up. Kind of proud of them. 

Gobbledygeek = alternative to Technobabble.

Cheapscape = (Cheapskate + Landscape) How the world looks when you never repair infrastructure.

Satisfiction= The story you tell yourself about how well this is gonna go.

Solipsismo = (from solipsism and machismo) A gut feeling that your gut is never wrong.

Snivlets = fleeting thoughts of self pity.

Slacktivities = Various sweatpants related behaviors.


About Guns:


Sure, we’ll be happy to pry your gun from your cold, dead fingers. And don’t forget to try Prickly Ash Bitters!

  • When NRA types say: “Let’s not politicize this tragedy” they are proactively politicizing it.
  • Claiming that talk of gun control or of better access to mental health care is “politicizing” this tragedy is like saying that common sense fire prevention is politicizing arson.
  • How about this? To own a handgun you have to be licensed DMV style and test every few years. To own more than one gun or more assault-style guns you have to be part of an actual “well-regulated militia.” (with no actual police powers) this would be framed as a quasi Switzerland “Homeland defense” style group. In reality, it would probably function as more of a natural disaster response style group but it would give the gun guys a civic investment and a sense of pride while also making sure that some thoughtful eyes are on these weapon owners at regular intervals.
  • I was just watching a Ken Burns documentary on the old west and you know who had really restrictive gun control? Frontier towns — places like Tombstone, Deadwood, and Dodge.
  • Gun sales have surged following the Sandy Hook massacre. I realize these people don’t wish to emulate the murderer but I’m damned if I can think of much about this more depressing than that it should actually inspire a sales “boom” for gun companies. It means that as a result of the shootings there are people in gun business saying “Wow! This is going great!”
  • All the people who hold up second amendment rights furiously, as if they were sacred, never mention second amendment responsibilities. Let’s get THAT talk going.
  •  The son of the current president of the NRA has served jail time for shooting into the car of another driver during an incident of road rage. This isn’t to call names but it just points out the real nature of the problem: Even the people the NRA sees as “good guys with guns”, the supposed antidote to our dangerous times, are mammals with limited self-control and sanity.

And an Open Secret

I’m pretty liberal but I hate it when people only look for the answers that give them a comfortable feeling. If you bend over backward to avoid offending, you are no longer facing in the correct direction to have an informed opinion. We have an outrageous number of gun deaths yearly in this country, as you know. There were 31,000 in 2005 and also in 2010. Using 2010 stats:
  • 55% (17050) were suicides, guns being a fairly certain means. This is tragic but its relationship with guns is somewhat gray, would they be dead without a gun? It cannot be known. This sad situation might be improved by some form of mental health screening for gun owners but ultimately it is more an issue of depression than guns.
  • 3% were accidental.
  • 2% were considered justifiable or unknown.
  • 40% or 12400 of these were murders

Continue reading


A talented and esteemed lecturer in early childhood education has resigned from teaching at Yale because an email she wrote suggesting a little flexibility about Halloween costumes resulted in an inferno of moral indignation and demands for her (and her husband) to be fired by the college. (Demands by the students of course).

Here is the intolerable message:

“This year, we seem afraid that college students are unable to decide how to dress themselves on Halloween,” she wrote. While noting that she did not wish to “trivialize genuine concerns about cultural and personal representation, and other challenges to our lived experience in a plural community,” Christakis went on to question the imposition of “standards and motives” on others as well as the feasibility of agreeing on how to avoid offense. “Is there no room anymore for a child or young person to be a little bit obnoxious… a little bit inappropriate or provocative or, yes, offensive?” she asked. “American universities were once a safe space not only for maturation but also for a certain regressive, or even transgressive, experience; increasingly, it seems, they have become places of censure and prohibition.”

Even -asking- the profoundly politically correct to consider being a little more relaxed results in a take no prisoners purge of the impure. Left wing. Read your history. You do this. Stop.

The Reign of Terror | The Great Purge | The Cultural Revolution | The Killing Fields

Continue reading


There’s some disagreement about how long modern humans have existed but the figure of 200,000 years is frequently cited. The lifestyle of the stone age was wandering groups of associated families usually between 25 to 50 people. Pretty much anyone you knew, you knew for a lifetime (yours or theirs). The stone age ended as the neolithic revolution in farming transformed the lifestyle of people into the sort of population dense settlements that have basically carried on to this day.

The Population Reference Bureau estimates that about 107 billion people have ever lived – since the beginning. Scientists suggest that out of that huge number, only about 12% of those people lived in the stone age. 12% doesn’t sound like a very significant number to influence the sort of people we are today. Until you realize that every person since then is a descendent of that 12%. And even more importantly that that 12% of all people was us during 96% of our time on Earth. Our roots are deep, deep in the stone age. 

So our inner cave clan easily breaks through the surface of our modernism. 192,000 years of comforting small groups of closely related people with a distrust of strangers is not something you shake off like a daydream. When we utterly detest racists and xenophobes we are behaving toward ourselves as we might to our dog humping legs at a party or chewing shoes. We shout “NO!” and we drag them off, “stupid dog” we mutter. The dog’s behavior has been momentarily suppressed but not altered in the slightest. And certainly not for the next generation of dogs.  Continue reading


I think there’s an odd problem waiting for the right wing media who keep desperately trying to officially classify the San Bernardino shootings as Islamic terrorism (because it’s about blaming Obama for terrorism on American soil, get it? So much for not politicizing).

The main killer, the guy, seems to be using Islam as the rationale but really he’s perfectly in the mold of the seething, isolated grudge holder who we’ve seen so often. He’s an unusual new hybrid for Americans: He’s killing because he’s a fucked up jerk, but he’s hitching his wagon to a larger cause, Islam. Of the two issues here I would say it’s more like he did it because he was a fucked up angry jerk. Since he would identify this act as Islamic terrorism though, who am I (or the news media) to argue with him? His stockpiling of weapons and the readiness of his wife to join him in suicide/mass murder indicates a long period of drifting toward this moment.

But if THIS is terrorism then so is the more common garden variety carried out more typically in this country by angry right wing men who have hitched their wagon to anti-abortion or anti government causes. The personality type for these events is a mostly a forgone conclusion. If we can’t register guns maybe we can register bitter, grudge holding bastards. Of course it would just become one more thing on their list of reasons they plan to kill some folks.

I am 100% in favor of calling Islamic terrorism what it is. There are people who balk at the phrase, instantly complaining that it indicts all Muslims. * Of course it doesn’t represent all of Islam…It represents the terrorist side of Islam. In its own way it’s as ridiculous as arguing with the phrase “Islamic charities” because not all Muslims are charitable! This is simply using words meaningfully, to describe what something in particular is.

I would like to extend this logic though. When we have an act of right wing terrorism let’s call it loud and clear. When we have an act of left wing terrorism let’s call it loud and clear. We haven’t had an ongoing issue of left wing terrorism in this country since the sixties but we do have a chronic right wing terror problem. And for some reason it’s virtually taboo to state this fact. That reason of course is that the American news media are made of entirely of jelly and kissing up to power. To protect their commercial revenue and increasingly meaningless “access” they keep within the lines approved of by those they report on.

Truth in naming is notable for its absence in most public conversations. But I would adore hearing Bill O’Reilly say “Another act of right-wing terrorism” (I got your “no spin” right here, pal). Potentially some acts should even be called Christian terrorism if the rationale put forward by the perpetrators has some Christian theological justification.

But somehow I don’t think the right wing media is going to start calling it that.

— Update: It’s come out that in their online courtship the two killers shared an interest in martyrdom and prepared for an attack far in advance.


*(Honestly, the left is SO concerned with being nice and not offending anyone that they virtually become BFFs with the some of the most regressive, hidebound, anti-woman, anti-gay theology on the planet. But that is another topic.)