Gender Masking Clothing? WTF?

•June 17, 2010 • Leave a Comment

I saw an ad recently on TV for women’s underwear that was guaranteed to prevent camel toe.  I spit out my coffee when I saw that.  WTF?  Is this a major problem?  Are children running shreaking in horror, “mommy, what is that  horrible thing?”

It’s bad enough they now make bras with little flowers inside to insure that no one knows you have nipples.  It’s a superfluous addition because nipples don’t show through a fiberfill bra anyway, but it’s actually seen as a selling point!   Give me a break!

Who among us decided that we must deny our those physical aspects of our body that identify our gender?  Do people really think everyone out there is scoping for headlights and vulva lines?

Throughout history, even in the most prudent times, clothing has accentuated our sexuality, not hidden it.  Even in Victorian times, waists were cinched and bustles made a woman’s curves more obvious.  What have we become when people seek this crap out?  Who is really that repressed?

So if you see me out in public with my headlights on, or wearing a pair of pants that are way too tight, just look into my eyes and say “hi.”  There’s no need to deny my gender.

Now if they would just market a cure for those nasty white stretch pants worn on massive, bumpy and lumpy backsides.  Now that’s truly offensive to the eyes.  Ack!


Faith and Religion

•April 15, 2010 • Leave a Comment

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines faith as “ firm belief in something for which there is no proof.”  We all have faith.  I have faith that better things lie ahead of me and that some day I will dance at the weddings of the grandchildren I’ve yet to have (I’m in no rush kids; take your time please).   However I have a hard time understanding those who confuse faith with fact and faith with science.  Why is it that when it comes to religion, having faith isn’t enough?

It drives me absolutely bat shit crazy when people are so insistent that their religious teachings are fact.  Most well-educated, theological experts will tell you that the bible is likely a combination of fact, parable and outright myth.  The fact that a story might be a fable does not have to detract from the intent of the message it is supposed to deliver.  The value of the Judeo-Christian bible as a moral compass has been proven.  So who cares if there really was a worldwide flood or if Jesus was really the product of a virgin birth (a story that incidentally did not come into existence for several hundred years after his death)?

I ended up with a major, flaming email war several years ago that all started with “as a Jew, you must be appalled that the schools want to teach that your kids descended from monkeys.”  I told her that the Jewish viewpoint on creation did not necessarily conflict with the theory of evolution.  This apparently, evoked a war.  All I will say further about this woman is that people who do not study history and cannot write a grammatically correct sentence should not home school their kids.

Lawmakers keep trying to put creation into our science textbooks.  I have no problem with creation being taught as social science, but science it is not.  Scientific theories must be able to endure a process that can either prove or disprove the theory in question.  Religious beliefs, God, cannot be either proven or dis-proven.   If one choose to believe in God, it is faith, not science.

I’m admittedly in the Bill Maher, 99% certain there isn’t a God.  I’m not quite an Atheist, but pretty darn close.  There might be a higher being.  I like the Pastafarian, Flying Spaghetti Monster.  Creator Bobby Henderson cleverly pokes fun at religion by pointing out that correlations do not prove out fact and the existence of a higher being, any higher being, is purely a matter of faith. Upsetting as it may be to many, the factual evidence to support the existence of the Flying Spaghetti Monster is equal to that of God.

Clearly many humans need faith and need religion.  If it makes someone feel better about themselves or life, than so be it.  I’m not about to tell them they are wrong.  But please leave me and my chosen beliefs alone!   I do not need to be saved.  I do not fear retribution at life’s end.

So many of the entities accepted as religions in this industry are cults.  Some are high control cults that severely limit the lifestyles of their members.  As a devotee of critical thinking, I’m amazed at how well people ignore the hypocrisy, contradictions and outright lies of most churches.   Yes, I do believe faith is separate from the people who run religions, and yet people follow religious leaders and believe what they are told, even when it flies in the face of truth and logic.

A close friend told me last week that the number of religious people in this country is on the decline.  I hope so but if it is left up to the Duggar’s of the world, the religious right and cults will breed themselves into a strong voting block.  This dangerous block is already creating bad law, restricting human rights in the process.  Nebraska legislators just passed another bad anti-abortion law.  Let’s hope the Supreme Court tosses it.

If you have faith and it provides a positive support for you, by all means, enjoy it.  But please don’t use your need for validation as grounds to push your faith on me or anyone else.  The Jehovah’s Witness’ teach their cult members what to expect people to say to talk them out of their faith.  They do a great job of it, even providing answers that make sense to their followers.   What I’ve yet to see a mainstream religion do is know what to say to entice interest.   Fear of damnation doesn’t scare me so how about telling my why I’d want in, instead of why I should be afraid of being out.

Show me some intelligence and heart for a change.

Feeling guilty

•March 1, 2008 • 5 Comments

I meant to post this a while back but got waylaid.  I disappointed myself for not acting.

I was driving north on the 183 frontage on a Saturday morning a few weeks ago.  I was in the left lane, but as I approached the corner I saw one of Williamson County’s finest [choking on that  phrase] giving a ticket to a homeless person because he’d been panhandling.

 I remember thinking WTF?????  To what purpose was this officer doing this?  Because someone told him too?  I too am embarrassed when I see people begging in the streets. I feel bad they are there and wish they would go away.  At least, I used to feel that way.  I’ve had enough ups and downs in my life now to know how easy it can be for pretty much anyone to end up in that spot, so I’m far more compassionate these days.

Our society encourages people to run up debt, then allows corporations to penalize anyone who has had any hiccup in their life that creates less than perfect credit.  The minute you are late on a payment, your interest rates go up, then there’s the late fees usually significant fees that can be anywhere from a daily fee, to a set percentage to the typically $35 a credit card company will charge you on even a very small balance.  Then your balances grow because you’re already struggling and your payments no longer truly dent the balance. 

As you struggle to catch up, your auto insurance rates climb, your future landlord takes a pass and that job offer you were excited about suddenly disappears.  All of a sudden that “hiccup” is now a full blown tragedy where getting by becomes a daily struggle.

You don’t have to be mentally ill or drug-addicted to end up on the streets.  All you have to do is stretch your budget too tight, have an unexpected expense or loss of income and the downward spiral begins.  If you aren’t fortunate enough to have a family to take care of you, you’re out on the streets.  Period.

Timothy once pointed out to me that we treat stray dogs better in our society than stray people.  If a stray dog is picked up, it gets fed, medical care and heated and air-conditioned accomodations until some family adopts them or a rescue agency takes them until they can find a new home.  Yes, some are euthanized, but that’s done in the name of mercy because our society says that letting a pet struggle out on the streets is cruel.

So why is it cruel to let a dog or cat run stray and allow hundreds of thousands of people to do the same?

So what brilliant idea has society come up with?  Ah…give them a ticket.  A ticket that will never be paid.  I’m sure paying tickets is really high on the priority list for a homeless person.  On the bright side, after that unpaid ticket becomes a warrant, the next officer that starts to right a ticket might actually arrest this poor person, guilty only of wanting to eat, and that person might actually get  night or two in a heated or air-conditioned room, a hot shower and a meal (though the dogs probably get fed better). 

Of course they’ll be tossed out soon enough to return to begging until the next time some officer decides to waste both time and money.

So why do I feel so guilty this time, when I pass homeless beggers often, and only occasionally offer up some cash?  Because I should have stopped and chewed out the officer.  I should have challenged the absurb and I didn’t.  I used the excuse that I was in the left lane, but that was just an excuse.  The truth is that I didn’t think fast enough, and have already had experiences with the Wilco officers that told me I might be the one that ends up in jail regardless of whether or not I broke any low.

 So once again, I thought of myself first, instead of taking a few minutes to maybe help out humanity, even if just a tiny bit.

New Year’s Resolutions

•January 1, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Well, it’s that time of year again; when we make promises to ourselves and sometimes other people that we mean to keep, and often do not.  So I figure if I make my promises public, maybe I’ll be more inclined to keep them.

 So the question begs, what do I want to do differently this year than next?

Well first of all, I’m going to further my path into financial recovery by really making the effort to pay all my bills on time.  Why?  Because late fees add tremendously to the cost of living.  Late fees and interest eat a lot of Americans alive. 

I understand the business logic of charging those having trouble making their payments late fees and higher interest.  It’s easy to understand as there is a true cost to the business that is carrying your debt until you repay it, and yet as a consumer, I both see and feel the other side of it.  When you look at it from the consumer point of view, it seems illogical to add more charges to a bill someone is already struggling to pay.  Wouldn’t it make more sense to collect what you can? 

Many a predatory, or semi-predatory financial firm loans money to people that probably shouldn’t be borrowing it.  As a Libertarian, I believe we are all responsible for our own choices, and yet in a society where economic responsibility and the facts on how credit really works is not often taught, I do see some need for the government/schools to step it up and make sure people are prepared to afford their lives.

At a time when social security is at risk, and guaranteed pensions nearly non-existent, the need for personal savings has never been greater, and yet the savings rate for Americans is now at a negative level.   My parents saved and budgeted.  Somehow it never occured to them that maybe they should teach me and my brother those skills.  I was the typical kid, who rarely went without anything I needed and usually got what I wanted too.  I was completely unaware of how hard they worked to provide for my brother and me, and to be honest, I don’t think I truly respected their efforts.

By the time I was 18, I had credit cards and by the time I was 21, I filed bankruptcy for the first time.  Yep, I said “first time,” because I’ve done it twice.  Divorce often wrecks financial lives and mine was no exception, but the first time could have been prevented with a little financial education in my teens.

That’s a mistake I’m trying not to pass on as I teach my children the value of working for what you want, and the patience to wait.  I’m actually trying to teach my children these skills and am sad to say that so far I’ve only partially succeeded at it.  My younger two kids get it (19 and 12); my oldest, who has lived on her own says she gets it but she isn’t living like she does.  Despite actually listening to me and avoiding credit cards for now, she’s got a fair load of debt already.  It’s mostly unpaid medical bills and traffic tickets.  I’m not going to bail her out.  She needs to handle her own mess.

My oldest is a 20 year old college student who has taken this year off of school to play nanny in Australia.  It’s a good adventure, but from a parent’s viewpoint, ill-timed.  In addition to interupting her education (which isn’t necessarily life altering), she’s going to come back to all that debt, traffic tickets and a risk of arrest because they’ve gone unpaid.  She says that when she returns she’ll live at home a bit to catch up and I hope she can do just that.  It’s not easy for the two of us to live under one roof.  We’re both pretty bull-headed.  Still I’d like her to stay long enough to catch up and maybe long enough to learn the concept of “frugal student” living.

She’s never had to live a frugal lifestyle.  Yes, she can shop for a bargain, but frugal usually means no shopping.  It’s living without new clothes, gadgets, CDs and other stuff, and keeping the entertainment budget as low as possible.  It’s learning to repurpose and reuse what you already have and figuring out where you can barter to trade your services or things for other things and services you want. 

Sometimes it means two jobs, or living in a cramped place with a bunch of annoying roommates.  Frugal is figuring out how to eat healthy on $50 a week or less. Frugal is being the first in line at the used bookstore so you can get your textbooks as cheap as possible.  Austin isn’t a cheap town, but it is indeed very easy to live an interesting and full life here on little money.

 Yeah, you can live cheaply if you aren’t in debt.  Find yourself in debt and suddenly life gets a lot more expensive.  Once you begin to damage your credit rating all these things happen that make it harder and harder to break even, let alone get ahead.

  1. It gets harder to rent or purchase a home.  At a minimum, a landlord will want a bigger deposit, but many just won’t rent to you if your credit is flawed, so you have to find one that will and they usually charge more.
  2. You just might not get the job you want.  Employers are increasingly checking credit even for jobs that do not involve handling money and where your personal credit should have little bearing.  I’d like to see laws passed preventing this for most jobs.
  3. Your insurance will be higher.  I’ll write more on this ripoff in another post, but any or all your insurance rates may go up or you can be outright denied coverage for your car, life or health protection.
  4. The utility companies are going to want fat deposits.
  5. If you’re still determined to have credit, you’ll pay high annual fees, higher interest rates and being late just once could jack all those fees even higher.
  6. All those higher expenses just make it tougher to pay what you must each month.

So yes, I’d like to teach my children how to save, not spend and live well even while making the sacrifices necessary to live a secure life.   Like most parents, I want better for them than I had for myself.

And that takes me back to my second resolution for this year, really working with my two oldest children to teach better economic management.  That will include the three of us learning where to find financial aid for college so they can hopefully graduate debt free.  Perhaps if we do it together we’ll all learn more.

As to my other resolutions, they are more general.  A few months back I shifted my “all or nothing” mentality towards losing weight and regaining a healthy energy level and body to a more forgiving, take it in steps, mentality.   It’s been interestingly successful too.  I’m actually losing weight, regaining energy and getting more accomplished since I started allowing myself room for imperfection and accepted that sometimes I’m only doing things “partially.”   I can eat a cookie and the earth doesn’t give way below me.  I can pick and choose which days I hit the gym as long as I get there at least twice.

Lastly I need to make more time to get out with friends.  I’m still making excuses to sit home alone and that’s just dumb.  I think it’s the last remnants of depression but being around people helps lift the cloud.

Happy New Year Y’all!  To a better 2008.

Merry Christmas??? Bah Humbug!

•December 25, 2007 • Leave a Comment

Hello Dear Reader,

So today is Christmas day.  I don’t really give a damn about Christmas.  It’s not my holiday.  I am an agnostic Jew but even if it were, the massive commercialism of the American Christmas sickens me.  I’ve seen grown adults throw temper tantrums because someone had the nerve to give a gift that wasn’t on their wish list.  Tsk, tsk.   I’m so glad my own children have better manners than that.

A friend recalled a story of a conversation she recently had with an eight year old who still goes to meetings with her Grandmother, a Jehovah’s Witness.  Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t celebrate Christmas either.  They [rightfully] claim it isn’t Jesus’ birthday and that all the commercial celebratory practices take away from the solemn faith in Jesus they hold dear.  This is actually one of the few beliefs held by this high control sect I believe in too, but then what do I know for I am a mere heathen.  Christmas?  Bah humbug!

 Anyway this child was quick to chastise a [non-Witness] family member that Christmas is bad to which this relative said “so does that mean you will not accept all the gifts we have for you?”  Needless to say, this child was speechless.  Of course my thoughts were “why didn’t the mother of this child take her aside and explain that her own beliefs and those of other people are different from Grandmother’s.  It would also seem that at 8, this little girl is old enough to make a choice – celebrate Christmas and enjoy the loot, or stand by the belief that Christmas is bad and not accept any gifts.  

I’m not part of that family, but if I were, that kid would be getting coal in her stocking from me; and probably a stern lecture on courtesy and manners.

 I hate that this holiday is thrust on everyone, believer or not.  I hate that I can’t go to a supermarket without being bombarded by nauseating holiday tunes.  I hate that each year I have to go to the school and discuss an inappropriate assignment, or explain why my children should not be expected to sing Christmas carols, or worse yet, to explain why throwing in “The Driedel Song” into a Christmas medley is not being tolerant or acceptable.   Sheesh!  I’ve had to cope with the ignorance of schools all my life. 

I just don’t get how, in an increasingly diverse society, our acceptance of the FACT that not all humans are Christians or want to be is being decreased.  The United States has always prided itself on our “melting pot” population, and yet people are only “okay” if they are white and Christian.   More than 230 years after our independence, we still far from being a homogenious society.

 Nowadays, you can be chastised for wishing someone “Happy Holidays.”  Apparently that isn’t good enough to those who staunchly defend their right to push Christmas on the rest of us.  The fact that not all people celebrate Christmas, or that there are other holidays this time of year, including the New Year, seems to be missed by these zealots.  I always thought that “Happy Holidays” was the politically correct way of wishing someone seasonal joy without having to predetermine which, if any, holiday they may celebrate.

As a non-Christian, I always thought Christians were supposed to be kind and loving; certainly traits that might attract me to their faith, but that has not always been my experience.  As with any group, some people are terrific and some are assholes.  I’ve always wondered how those who are pushy and judgemental and, at times, downright rude can find their behavior such that I would be interested in being just like them.  Hmmm…  Do self-righteous religious assholes really think their behavior attracts converts?

So, as I sit here today, bored out of my mind because it isn’t a workday, half my family is in other parts of the planet, and the television sucks, I contemplate the idiocy of those who preach love and charity and yet practice exactly the opposite.   Sigh…

Not so Bitter Woman Contemplates the Mysteries and Frustrations of LIfe

•December 25, 2007 • Leave a Comment

This is a rash experiment, allowing me to ask my worldly questions, rant without debate and maybe learn a little about myself at the expense of the web host. I’ve actually made my living, until recently writing, but always on some subject not of my choosing so this is my chance to write whatever I feel like.  Yeah!