Category Archives: News/Politics

Flowers are Just Flowers

I hate when people take an ordinary thing and make it a symbol. Now it seems sunflowers are controversial. At least they are in China. I hope this won’t spread to the U.S. just because a pop star happened to bumble upon a political symbol. Though the Taiwan flag bit didn’t help matters any.

By the way, in response to the Chinese fan who said, “These performers who intervene in other countries’ politics are the most annoying.” (And I really wish that person and anyone else who feels that way could read this.) No, what is really annoying to you is that other people are allowed to have opinions that are different from yours. Having an opinion about other countries’ politics is not the same thing as “intervening” in other countries politics. Grow up and get over yourself.

But, ordinary things as symbols… That really gets under my skin. Now, flags are symbols. They were purposely created to represent a particular country, state, people, or ideology. A flag is a legitimate symbol. Colors and plants are not. Green is just green. Pink is just pink. And flowers are just flowers. If you need a symbol stop being lazy and create a flag or a logo and just let the natural world be.


No Surprise

Last night on CBS news they had a segment about McDonald’s severely declining profits and mentioned some vague “plan” to lure back customers which probably doesn’t even come close to what they really need to do: get customers’ orders right! I haven’t been to a McDonald’s in a number of years (5? More?) for that very reason. (That and the food is mostly okay but not that great. If I’m going to eat something that bad for me it’s going to be really outrageously delicious.) Literally the last five times we went there at lunch or dinner time* they got our order wrong. Usually it was something minor, like the wrong size drink or something but still, every time no matter which McDonald’s location I go to. (*To give them some credit, they do seem to be able to not screw up a sausage biscuit and orange juice.)

Well, this morning I saw this: Woman shoots at a McDonald’s because there was no bacon on her bacon burger. OMG! No bacon?! Seriously, I totally understand. But, even more seriously, punishing McDonald’s employees for incompetence is not worth going to prison. Just go somewhere else. A lot of other places have bacon burgers and most of them are better than McDonald’s. It might not be as immediately satisfying but there’s no better or more appropriate punishment for a business than taking your business elsewhere. One might think that if enough people stop eating there they will finally get it but, realistically, if they haven’t figured it out by now it’s hard to believe they ever will.

And Another Quote

I started to include this in my usual Quotes post but I decided that the part I want to quote is rather long for that so here it is, all by itself. From this Interview with Neil deGrasse Tyson.

Now, where the rubber hits the road is, since we are a free country where belief systems are constitutionally protected — provided they don’t infringe on the rights of others — then how do you have governance over “all” when you have belief systems for the “some”? It seems to me that the way you govern people is you base governance on things that are objectively true; that are true regardless of your belief system, or no matter what the tenets are of your holy documents. And then they should base it on objective truths that apply to everyone. So the issue comes about not that there are religious people in the world that have one view over another, it’s if you have one view or another based on faith and you want to legislate that in a way that affects everyone. That’s no longer a free democracy. That’s a country where the few who have a belief system that’s not based in objective reality want to control the behavior of everyone else.

Thought for the Week

Thinking about incidents in the news… actually thought about writing something about it… but what I had to say really just boils down to this and it doesn’t apply only to one particular incident or people.

Like it or not you are a representative of your group. We all belong to groups: your race, your religion, your political party, your home state. And even if you’re not religious or don’t support any particular political party those are groups too. You don’t necessarily put yourself in these groups. It also can be what other people see you as. Whatever group or category other people identify you with, you are a representative of that group. What you do affects how people who are not in your group think about people like you. If you are a religious person and you support candidates who say they will pass laws that will take away the rights of some citizens, people may think that members of your religion are closed-minded and don’t care about other people. If you are an atheist and you swear a lot and generally break the rules of decent society, people may think that all atheists are immoral. If you happen to be a cop and you shoot an unarmed person several times, people who are not cops may fear and hate cops because of what you did. If a member of your group suffers an injustice and you and a few other members of your group riot and loot, people who are not members of your group may think that people in your group are more likely to be thugs and criminals. If you threaten, intimidate, and kill people and you talk about your religion a lot people who are not of your religion will think that believers in your religion are more likely to be terrorists.

That’s stereotyping. It’s not fair and it’s not right but you can’t end it by just saying, “Stereotyping is wrong. Don’t do it,” because that’s just how people are made. Even people who know it’s wrong are affected by what they observe in the world. They may know most cops are not murderers, most black people are not thugs, most white people are not racists, most Muslims are not terrorists but still notice these behaviors and be affected by them. Whoever you are, you are a representative of your group. Be, at all times, the kind of person you want other people to consider “typical” of your group.

All We Need to Know About Israel/Palestine

I generally don’t do politics but this is too good to pass up: This Land Is Mine. There is plenty of reason for sympathy for both sides and plenty of reason to blame both sides. Most people only see blame on only one side or the other though.

Anyway, both sides are wrong; both sides are right. It’s been going on for thousands of years and there’s only one way the situation will ever be resolved. Aliens. That’s right, aliens invade the Earth and either kill everyone or they go all Mom on everyone and say, “I don’t care who started it. We are going to finish it,” and with technology so advanced it seems like magic to us poor, backward humans, they simply stop all fighting. I know, I know! Shut up. This is MY fantasy and it will go the way I want it to.

Dressing Ethically

Today is the one year anniversary of the fire that killed 1,133 workers in a Bangladesh garment factory. “Who makes your clothes?” As a person who sews I am tempted to feel smug and proudly answer, “I did.” But who made the fabric? The buttons? The zippers? The needle on my sewing machine? I don’t know.

Living ethically is a lot of work and I’m lazy. I care. I really do, but I don’t even know how to find out these things. I have to rely on the media to tell me about things like the fire in Bangladesh so I will know which clothing not to buy. But things get really complicated. Look at the labels. It’s all made in Bangladesh or some other place where children work 16 hours a day for fifty cents and are beaten for complaining. It makes one want to throw up one’s hands and say, “Well, sheesh! Why don’t we all just start sewing together leaves from the plants in our back yards and wear those?”

Thanks to the demand, there are now a few companies producing ethical clothing. (There’s no way I can write that sentence that doesn’t look weird.) If you work at it you can live ethically. But can you trust the claims of people who are trying to make money? And if you buy clothing that is 100% made in the USA are you starving some orphan in Bangladesh who was counting on that fifty cents a day, however hard earned it might have been?

I do appreciate that there are people out there keeping a watch out for this kind of thing. Just by reporting they can force manufacturers to clean up their acts. So keep reporting and I will shop ethically when I can. Just don’t expect me to go nuts about something over which I have no control.

Spring Miscellany

Today is a big day. Well, not really. Today is the first time this year that I am wearing a spring/summer dress. It’s this one, since I’m not planning on going anywhere today. I briefly considered wearing the crazy pink one. Anyway, I love dresses. They feel so free. That’s why this is sort of a minor big deal to me. It’s supposed to be cooler tomorrow though so it’s not quite time to put away the slacks yet.

It is definitely time to start summer sewing (I’m almost finished with a long sleeve cotton blouse, which I hope to be able to show off tomorrow but probably won’t get around to until early next week.) but I just realized that I do not have anything to sew that does not require some notion or trim or lining or something that I do not have yet. So I will have to either go to Tulsa in the next day or two or order stuff and wait a week. The latter is probably what I’ll do. I suppose it’s not a bad thing to take a short break from sewing. I can still work on that darned quilt that I’ve been stalled on for what seems like forever and I’ve got a couple of quilt tops I could be working on. But I’ve got the bug. I have pretty pieces of fabric that I want to sew now.

Remember I was talking about homemade shoes yesterday? Well, I was looking for the soling material and found these Xero Shoes kits. They’re very minimalist sandals. I don’t know… I don’t really like the look. I did also find the Vibram soling sheets at Amazon. That stuff is EXPENSIVE but there are some other brands. I’m not sure I’m quite ready to jump off into shoe making yet but I’m thinking about it.

Interesting article about the Hobby Lobby case. I don’t know what to think about this. I’m not familiar with the site but I’m sure it’s not exactly unbiased. (I saw this on Facebook) I’m not normally a very politically committed person. I don’t make purchasing decisions based on politics. It just gets too complicated. But I have to admit this thing with Hobby Lobby has really bothered me and made me not want to go there anymore. I don’t shop there very often but they have a small sewing department that is a little better than Walmart’s and there’s one closer to me than Tulsa. If what the article says is true it’s still not enough to make me completely change my mind about the case but it goes to show that the issues are more complex than the talking heads make them out to be and people on both sides of the political fence ignore anything that is inconvenient for their side.

Well, I don’t want to end on a political note but I’m fresh out of relevant and interesting [/sarcasm] things to say at the moment so how about a couple o’ cats. All together now: AAAWWWWWWWW….

False Conflict

I keep finding more reasons why Neil deGrasse Tyson is awesome.

He says several things in this video that I particularly like. At about 3:50 he says that “maybe there is something in the brain’s wiring that prevents some people from becoming atheists.” In a way, I don’t want to believe that because I don’t like to believe that a certain way of thinking (whatever it is) is “pre-wired” but, on the other hand, this explains a lot and, as I (and others) have said before, brains are weird. I also respect him for trying to avoid politicizing science, though that’s often impossible.

I wish I could introduce Neil deGrasse Tyson to my grandmother. Actually I wish I could introduce a lot of people to my grandmother. She was extremely conservative. She thought almost everything on TV was immoral in one way or another. It’s probably not surprising that she objected to I Dream of Jeannie but she even considered The Lawrence Welk Show immoral because when the young ladies on the show danced and whirled around you could see their knees and (gasp!) sometimes even their thighs. From knees to belly buttons to kids smarting off at their parents there was no show so wholesome she couldn’t find something wrong with it. (and we’re talking about the 60’s, when TV couples slept in twin beds) She had similar opinions about real life behavior. You might assume from this that she was an unpleasant person but she wasn’t at all. She was usually cheerful and pleasant and never preachy but when certain subjects came up she would certainly tell you what she thought.

My grandmother read the Bible every day and believed in it and considered it a guide for living but one thing she did not believe was that the world was created in only six days. She understood that the Bible was never meant to be taken literally. I can clearly remember when I was very small she explained to me that both Genesis and evolution were true because the Bible said that to God a thousand years were as one day, which, of course, she also did not take literally. The world was not created in six thousand years any more than it was created in six days.

That one person could believe both the Bible and the true time scale of evolution and that humans evolved from a single cell, up through amphibians, small mammals, primates, early hominids to modern humans, does not compute for some people but I say, “Why not?!” We all believe things that are much more unlikely than that. My grandmother did not care for conflict. She did her best to educate her children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews but was content to leave strangers to believe anything they liked, but I know that if asked she would have said that creationists reduce God to human scale because they are not capable of grasping anything greater.

My grandmother was actually very interested in science. To her, science was the study of God’s creation so you had to get it right. I’m sure there are people who would say that she was cheating, that she had been convinced of the scientific truth of evolution but still couldn’t let go of religion. Perhaps there’s some truth to that. So what? People manage to reconcile seemingly conflicting ideas in their minds all the time, maybe because these ideas are not really as opposite or mutually exclusive to one another as some have been led to believe. Maybe someone with an agenda decided that a conflict would be to their advantage, created one, and convinced a lot of other people. Oh man, I wish I had that kind of talent! The talent to convince people. Well, if I can’t maybe Dr. Tyson can – the kids at least.

In Hope of a Just Afterlife

Here’s an old favorite of mine, posted in memory of the “Reverend” Fred Phelps, may he soon be forgotten.

A Pagan died and, much to her surprise, found herself at the Pearly
Gates facing St. Peter. He walked up to her and said, “Hello, and
She stared at St. Peter in complete confusion. “Wait a minute,” she
said. “I was supposed to end up in the Summerlands.” He smiled. “Ah, you
must be one of our Pagan sisters. Follow me, please.”

Peter gestured for her to follow him down a small path which went
through the gates and down a bit to the left. They walked for a short
while, then he stepped back and gestured her forward. Looking past his hand,
she saw the verdant fields and forests of her desired Summerlands. She saw
people feasting, dancing, and making merry, exactly as she expected.
While standing there in wonder, the Pagan happened to glance over to one
side and saw a small group of people near the edge of the Summerlands. The
people in the group were watching the revelers, but not joining them.
Instead, they were screaming and weeping piteously.

The Pagan looked at St. Peter. “Who are those people?”

St. Peter replied, “Them? They’re fundamentalists. They’re a bit
surprised to see you all there, so they stand there and carry on like
that all day.”

“Why? Don’t they have better things to do?” asked the Pagan.

Peter leaned conspiratorially toward her. “They don’t really have a
choice. They’re actually in Hell. God doesn’t like being told what He

Not In My Wallet

Maybe we should actually read those user agreements before we click Accept. On the other hand, does it really matter? It’s not like we can negotiate a more agreeable agreement.

Capital One specifies that they can contact their customers by any means they choose, including telephone, email, text message, or even “personal visit.” Well, of course we all knew they could do that anyway but seeing it written out that way does make it seem rather creepy.

They also say, “We may modify or suppress caller ID and similar services and identify ourselves on these services in any manner we choose.” Now that’s beyond creepy. If you ask me, (and, sadly, no one ever will) that should be a capital offense. (See what I did there.)

Just Chill, Oklahoma

The story of the day is that a federal judge has ruled that Oklahoma’s same-sex marriage ban is unconstitutional. I think you can imagine how popular this decision will be in Oklahoma.

I am all over the place politically. I am neither left, right, nor center. I like to say I’m somewhere out in space. I have opinions that would creep out, offend and horrify conservatives and other opinions that would creep out, offend and horrify liberals and some opinions that would just confuse everyone. But I have found a statement – perhaps you could call it a mantra – that is useful in many, many different situations: “It’s none of my business. It doesn’t affect me personally.” Just keep saying that to yourself, over and over again, until you believe it.

Flyover Country Does Not Exist

That’s what it seems like sometimes, watching the national evening news, which I really only watch for entertainment and the occasional blog fodder. Last night the weather was the lead story and the anchor dramatically announced that there were freezing temperatures in every state in the continental U.S. That is pretty significant. You would think that they would focus on those parts of the country that rarely have freezing temperatures, such as Florida and southern Louisiana, and the hardships of those who are not prepared for such cold but they only talked about places like New York and Philadelphia and interviewed a few well-dressed people complaining about how cold it is.

Maybe the south doesn’t provide enough drama or maybe it’s because, generally, even unprepared, southerners deal with bad stuff pretty well and therefore do not fit into the mainstream media’s preferred narrative regarding the people of the south and flyover country. I didn’t hear anything about North Dakota either and I’m sure many people there, like many people here in Oklahoma, have to drive 30 or 40 miles to work and can’t just walk to work or take the train when the weather is “too bad to drive”. Maybe they just don’t know how to report things like that. Maybe they are reduced to, “How do those people even live?”

Save the Doorknobs!

Vancouver has banned doorknobs. What the…? What? Apparently they’re more difficult for elderly and arthritic persons to open. I should be more sympathetic I guess but I really hope this idea doesn’t take off in the U.S. Every time I see one of those lever-style door handles I think, “I bet my cat could open that.” In fact my cat sometimes reaches for the doorknob. I actually sort of doubt he could successfully perform the entire pulling the lever and opening the door operation, but I’m pretty sure there are some dogs that could. I don’t know… I suppose some people might want their dogs to be able to open doors but I like having a little control. The ability to open doors is the one power I have over my cats.

Of course the real issue is that the levers look too modern no matter how antique-brassy they are and it’s nobody’s business what kind of hardware I have on my doors.

Oh That Brady

There has recently been some controversy over the name of a street in Tulsa – Brady Street. Some people wanted it renamed because Tate Brady, whom it was named for, was a Klan member. But people like their street names and hate change, and besides, it would cost money to change all the signs. So, last night Tulsa city councilors voted to “rename” Brady Street for civil war photographer Matthew Brady. If one wanted to be snarky one could say they could just as well have “renamed” it after Mike Brady on The Brady Bunch, but I like it. Rarely in politics has there ever been such a handy solution to a problem.

What She Said

Wow. Preach it, sister. This absolutely wonderful screed has already gone viral but I just have to say this is awesome. This is exactly the kind of thing I’m always saying or thinking only she said it better. There is so much there that is quoteable but I especially like this bit:

The fact that I’m not fixating on the perfect purity of my food and not doing it to those around me means I have a pretty good quality of life.

I’m fortunate that I don’t often run into people who bother me about my food choices but if I did I think I would be tempted to print out copies of this and pass them out to the busybodies.


Next Please

Do you ever, a few days after a major news event, find yourself wishing that something else Big and Important would happen just so the media would move on already? I mean… it doesn’t have to be anything really tragic, just, say, something like a group of Republican congressmen from the bible belt hire a bunch of prostitutes and have a drunken orgy. Could we maybe make that happen?

Stop! Think!

The recent two minute stock market crash, due to a hoax Tweet, has to be one of the top ten idiotic news events of all time. Seriously? Now our economy is controlled by Twitter? I hope everyone involved feels properly embarrassed. It’s true I don’t know anything about the stock market but I’m not stupid. I understand that people who are responsible for huge amounts of money need to do what is necessary to protect that money but it is obvious that panic causes exactly what they are afraid of.

I know how to fix the stock market. It needs to run like an older version of Windows. Every time someone buys or sells, after a 30 second delay they are asked, “Are you sure?” Then, if they choose “Yes”, there’s another 30 second delay before anything happens. And any time the stock market drops more than 100 points it blue screens. But, lacking that, if you’re in the financial industry, STOP READING TWITTER AT WORK!

IRS Mistake

The IRS says that making a Star Trek parody “training video” was “a mistake.” The only thing about it that I see as a “mistake” is that they spent $60,000 on it. Well, on that and another short parody video. How can you spend that much money making a six minute video? There are thousands of videos on Youtube that cost little or nothing to make and many of them are, no doubt, better than IRS’s expensive attempt to entertain their employees.

Food Fraud

There’s a good chance that some of what is served as calamari is actually pork bung. Well, I think I’m safe; I wouldn’t knowingly eat either one. But, sadly, that’s not all.

Samples sold as snapper and tuna had the highest mislabeling rates (87 and 59 percent, respectively), with the majority of the samples identified by DNA analysis as something other than what was found on the label. Only seven of the 120 samples of red snapper purchased nationwide were actually red snapper. The other 113 samples were another fish. Halibut, grouper, cod and Chilean sea bass were also mislabeled between 19 and 38 percent of the time, while salmon was mislabeled 7 percent of the time.


“Our study identified strong national trends in seafood mislabeling levels among retail types, with sushi venues ranking the highest (74 percent), followed by restaurants (38 percent) and then grocery stores (18 percent). These same trends among retail outlets were generally observed at the regional level,” Oceana said in their summary report.

And it’s not just seafood that might not be what it seems:

But what about honey? Or extra virgin olive oil?

These are products most of us believe we could spot as fraud. However, most of the honey sold in American chain stores does not meet international quality standards.

Testing done for Food Safety News found that most store honey isn’t honey, with ultra-filtering techniques removing pollen and hiding the honey’s origins.

“More than three-fourths of the honey sold in U.S. grocery stores isn’t exactly what the bees produce.

I knew about most honey being excessively processed, if not outright fake. I try to always buy honey produced in Oklahoma. There’s not a huge difference in taste and I can’t tell if it’s less processed than other honey available in the grocery store. We have a beehive in our back yard but haven’t been very successful at beekeeping. We got honey from them only one year.