Yiddish Explained

The folks at Jesus and Mo have been talking about yiddish, and that reminded me of this old Al Capp caroon that explained the terms.  Gotta love the Internet that I could find this.


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Arrogance Writ Large

My town is littered with church billboards.  I’ve started to collect and comment on them.  I recognize that, when you are selling something, you need to advertise, even if what you are selling is eternal life and you won’t make good on your guarantee. But I am disturbingly literate.  This means that I read their stupid signs before I can stop myself.  Thus they can insert words and ideas into my brain without me being able to stop them. Fortunately, they can’t stop me from thinking about their words.

Here’s one I noticed this morning:

I have often heard atheists described as arrogant.  Supposedly this is because we do not believe there is any controlling intelligence beyond human beings. Nothing bigger than us. No celestial father figure. But consider the arrogance of imagining an all knowing, all powerful deity and then presuming to speak for that deity.  Presuming to know what that deity wants, believes, thinks and says.  I call that arrogance indeed.

Instead of sticking words in their god’s mouth, how about:  “We believe that God commands us to love our neighbor.” That statement is at least intellectually honest.  That’s what they believe.  Good ’nuff.  Stop making up direct quotes that aren’t direct quotes at all.

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My First Viral Joke

If 17k views counts as viral.  Maybe mini viral, eh. Or viral light? Oh hell, for some reason this is too blurry to read on this site.  The sign says: My Name is Ozymandias.  Look upon my works all ye mighty and dispair.



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Help Free the Naked Rambler

There’s a petition going around.  It’s demanding the release of Stephen Gough, the Naked Rambler, a man who has hiked the length of Britain from Lands End to John O’Groats in the nude, and is now in jail for the heinous crime of preferring to hike naked.

You can read about Mr Gough here.

The petition is self-explainitory.  If you agree that simply having a body like everybody else, and not feeling obliged to hide that fact, doesn’t deserve a jail sentence, please sign the petition. http://chn.ge/2zyZFeO

I know we are all cynical about the value of online petitions.  But please make an exception for this one. We need to get Stephen Gough released.  He has harmed nobody. He is asking for a right that we all should have, the right to walk around without clothing if we bloody well feel like it.


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There’s Just No Getting Away from Ken Ham

Here I am in the western corner of Canada and Ken Ham is in my face expressing his opinion.  How I wish he’d stay in Kentucky with his Arc Park pseudo museum.  But no, the ignorance oozes over the border.  This was on a local church sign. “One blood, one race. Ken Hamm (sic) video” At least he’s not here in person.

Do you find it ironic that a man who believes that the world is only 6,000 years old should hold the same opinion about race as scientists? Of course he holds this opinion for an entirely different reason. His argument is that we all descended from Noah and his family after the flood. My argument would be based on the scientific evidence and DNA analysis.

Okay, full disclosure here. I am assuming that this is Ken Ham’s argument.  I have no intention of subjecting myself to a video with his name on it.  I know enough about his beliefs to know I can’t handle that in a public setting without yelling obscenities at the screen.  I just somehow doubt that this man who claims the earth is only a few thousand years old and that Noah’s Ark is a non-fiction historical fact and that humans interacted with dinosaurs could possibly have a justification for the statement “One blood, one race.” that I could agree with.  And yet I agree with the statement.  Well, if you take “blood” to mean heritage.  Of course there are different bloods, and we better not mix them up or the patient will die.  But yes, we are of one heritage.  We all originated in Africa.

Though not after stumbling off some big amateur built boat that housed two of every kind of animal on earth, including kangaroos and koalas which managed to make their way to Australia without leaving a trace of their journey in the fossil record.  That’s just stupidity on steroids.

It hurts me to think that Ken Ham has an audience in the town where I live.  I thought people were smarter than that here.  Okay, no I didn’t.  I just don’t have much to do with people who would listen to Ken Ham. And, oddly enough, I don’t think that Ken Ham’s problems, and the problems of his followers, is a lack of intelligence.  I’ve met very smart people who are young earth creationists.  It’s something else.  Some ability to divorce logic and reason and evidence from obvious conclusions, so that they can believe something they want to believe.  That, for me, is the big mystery of religion.

One last possibility, I suppose.  Maybe the name on the sign is not a typo.  Maybe this really is somebody named Ken Hamm, and not the actual Ken Ham of Ark Encounters fame.  Somehow I don’t think so.


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The Evolution of Darwin Harmless

With a blog like this one, which is not monetized in any way, there is no real pressure to add any new posts.  Especially since the multitude who seem to have subscribed don’t ever comment on anything I write.  (I’m looking at you, Lurker.  I need some love here.) So a new topic is always a puzzle.  A new topic requires inspiration.

Darwin Harmless self portrait, total dickhead.Finding my voice has been a interesting process.  I started this blog because, at the time, I was employed at a Chinese university where my official blog served the interests of students and visitors to China.  It was read by my employers and, I’m pretty sure, by state officials.  I had one complaint from some prude when I posted a picture of me kissing my wife.  The university suggested that I should take that picture down, which I did. Expressing my true feelings on many issues would have resulted in expulsion from China very quickly.  So Darwin Harmless began as an outlet for my frustration.

My early posts were mostly rants about some of the outrageous things happening in the world.  Things like the murder of Salman Teseer.  I used obscene language liberally, and my writing style more or less imitated the voices of Freethought Bloggers.  I was ugly.  I was not polite. I called people stupid and idiots with wild abandon.  And slowly I became tired of that voice. I found myself toning it down. I found myself trying to be just as forceful without breaking language taboos unless severely provoked.

The choice of subject also changed.  I stopped commenting on things that were already saturating the Internet blogosphere. I think I have posted on Donald Trump twice, once before the election when he claimed to speak in my voice, and once after, in recognition of the social bubble that caused me to feel safer than we were, a social bubble that shattered with the election.  But mostly I try to avoid the obvious that is covered by so many other bloggers, unless I feel I have something new, personal, special, or genuine to add.

Writing as Darwin Harmless has been an interesting exploration of who I am, of who I want to be.  I now feel like I’ve found my real voice. I feel like the stuff I post is bravely personal and worth spreading around.

This site is still a wank. But even wanking can have a purpose – getting one in touch with his body, his feelings, his needs and desires, overcoming shame at something that is healthy and natural.  Verbal and emotional masturbation can serve the same purpose. So, Darwin Harmless, wank away.

Now if I can just find something to inspire a good wank.

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Sex Positive

I recently got a link exchange request from Zoey Miller, wanting to promote her post on how to give good fellatio.

I usually don’t do this kind of thing, because the requests I’ve had have come from people with blatantly commercial interests and no relationship to the content of my site.  But Zoey and I are on the same page.  Let’s talk about sex, and what sex is all about, and let’s stop being so damned uptight about it.

Zoey constantly refers to her target audience as “girls”.  That made me cringe just a bit.  I think women who are ready to give their man a good hummer should be called women. They are certainly, or at least hopefully, not girls. But I’m going to forgive her for that, though my feminist wife might not.  I guess women can call themselves girls if they want to.

Besides, reading Zoey’s post gave me a pulge.  With the hormone therapy that has cut my testosterone down to trace amounts, a part of my prostate cancer treatment, a pulge is a rare event.  The least I can do is pass along her post.

By the way, on a completely different subject, either my site has been infested with robots or there are a heck of a lot of lurkers out there.  I’m getting a couple of hundred subscription signups every day, and this has gone on for weeks.  I feel like a guy doing standup comedy in a huge theater and he can’t see past the footlights and the audience is totally silent.  Uncomfortable feeling.
This is a provocative site.  At least I hope it is. If you are a real person and reading my words, please consider laying in a comment.  And thanks in advance.  I live for your comments.

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Is it Over Now? Am I Cured?

I had my follow up visit with my oncologist last week.  The treatment for my prostate cancer is finished. I’ve had hormone therapy, twenty-three days of radiation therapy (which I affectionately call putting my butt in a microwave oven), and brachytherapy, implanting radioactive iodine seeds in my prostate.Time to get the report card, which, as expected, was good news.  My PSA level is down to 0.5.  Since anything under 4.0 is considered normal, this means that my cancer has been beaten back.  All that remains is to monitor every six months.  So it’s okay to buy green bananas.  I will live to see them ripen.

Unfortunately, my testosterone level is also down to 0.5.  I’m not sure what units this is measured in, but that is way below normal for a man my age.  This is not surprising. I was given a testosterone blocker at the very start of my therapy. Apparently, prostate cancer feeds on testosterone.  In the old days the primary treatment was an orchiotomy, which is the medical euphemism for castration.  Anybody who longs for the “good old days” should consider this.Nowadays they give you a drug that blocks testosterone production, probably stilboestrol (now known as diethylstilbestrol or DES) the same drug the court ordered for Allan Turing as part of his probation after being found guilty of indecency, i.e. being gay.  In Turing’s case the drug resulted in gynecomastia, enlargement of the breasts. In my case my nipples have only become painfully sore, without my chest growing man boobs.

The hormone therapy has been the only part of my cancer treatment that goes beyond inconvenience.  Losing all my testosterone has been quite unpleasant.  Aside from the tender breasts, the side effects have included a desire to sleep all day, a lack of ambition and motivation… uh, okay.  Maybe that was normal for me already. It’s also included a complete inability to have an erection.  I mean complete.  My dick has actually shrunk like it’s threatening to internalize.  It has shrunk so much that it now appears to have a foreskin again.  Be careful what you wish for.

I shall try to end this post on a positive note.  The obvious one is that I have had superb treatment by dedicated professionals who have saved my life.  No complaints. And thank you Tommy Douglas, the sainted politician who gave us our Canadian health care system. My treatment has costs thousands, and there’s no way I would have been able to afford it in the Untied States.

I asked my oncologist if I could have some testosterone supplements.  He said no.  It will be a couple of years before they are confident that my cancer is truly gone.  But there’s a possibility that I will enjoy another puberty in a year or two.  So there’s something to look forward to.

I really miss sex, but life is still worth living.

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What do we tell the kids?

I wrote this in response to a very touching article by a mother with terminal lung cancer.  It’s a beautifully written article, and well worth reading.  I totally get where she is coming from.  Hiding the truth from children is a terrible idea.  But her truth made me feel really sad:

A beautiful woman with her beautiful daughter.

Picture from the article used without permission.

(I initially put this in the comments under the article, which is why it speaks directly to the author.  But then I wanted to share it with Darwin Harmless readers.  To preserve my anonymity I decided to put it up here instead.)

This is such a difficult time for you, and a difficult subject. It takes a lot of courage to face it the way you do. And yet, you don’t face it at all as I would. You told your daughter your truth. But everybody’s “truth” is different.

You see, I am an atheist. I do not believe in an afterlife. And telling my children that I will be watching them from an invisible place is not a truth I can believe.

What I would tell my child is that time passes and things change. There will come a time when I am no longer here. I will not exist, except as a memory.

I might ask my child if they remember what it was like before they were born. Unless they engage in intense fantasy, they will recognize that they don’t know, they don’t remember. I will explain that they have no memory of that time because they didn’t exist yet. It will be the same for them after they are dead. They won’t exist. And I won’t exist after I am dead. There is nothing wrong with that. Nothing to fear. Not existing, which is the same as being dead, didn’t bother us before we were born. Why would it bother us after we die?

It is painful to live without somebody you have loved. I miss my father and mother terribly, and I miss friends who have died. But pretending they still exist just doesn’t work for me. It would be like losing an arm in an industrial accident, yet insisting that my arm still existed, only invisibly, in another place.

Everybody goes where they need to go to get comfortable with death. Our social norm is to deny that death really happens. For me, that is not accepting reality. That is not truth. I find reality is not all that terrible, if I just accept it. And I’m not going to pass on a belief in an afterlife, no matter how socially accepted or attractive, to my children as “truth”.

I’m okay with knowing that time passes and things change.

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Oh no. No. No. Please not that.

Okay, I’ve got it figured out now. That horrible ripping roaring rumbling, complete with moans and screams, I heard last night was the sound of my echo chamber falling apart.

President trump our new reality.

Obviously my echo chamber has been saving me from perceiving reality. The people I talk to, associate with, or count as Facebook friends, are all in the echo chamber with me. None of them would have voted for Trump. None of them are sexist, racist, ignorant privileged fools. Nobody I knew thought Trump spoke for them, or considered him their hero. He wasn’t even good at what he claimed as his turf, business.  He would be worth more, I was told, if he had simply invested his inheritance in an indexed fund and avoided the business world.
Every Facebook meme condemned Trump.  Every comedian made fun of Trump.  Every clip of Trump talking made him look absolutely unelectable.  The Scots made fun of Trump in very colorful language.  The British parliament was forced to debate the question of banning Trump from the U.K, triggered by a petition that garnered thousands of names, and did so with appropriate disdain, calling him a fool and a buffoon.  It seemed that everybody was against Trump and the only warning that he would be elected came from Michael Moore and could be dismissed as a scare tactic to motivate Americans to vote.  Who on earth, other than the idiots at his rally, was going to vote for Trump.
So I was left with the impression that we are safe. There was no way Trump could win.
Damn, I’m going to miss my echo chamber. It made me feel so good. But now it’s time to explore the real world. Sigh. Couldn’t I just enjoy my childhood for a while longer?
I usually refrain from commenting on things that are covered so completely by other bloggers and the Internet.  Usually I have nothing more to add.  But this is about me.  My pain. My worry.  My awakening.  My disillusionment.
Capitalism has failed the American middle class.  They have responded by electing the ultimate capitalist pig.  I may die of irony poisoning.

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