Monday, July 02, 2007

Eight Rather Stupid Things About Me: The Unabashed Version

Jade's idea.
It's all her fault.

1. When I was 17, I was recruited to play drums for a Scottish pipe band, and stayed on for two years. We had gigs at bars,parades, weddings,etc... and in every crowd there was always some young lady who, usually egged on by friends, would attempt to see what I was wearing under the kilt. After the first couple of times, I started to wear a pair of boxers with a Valentine heart pattern. Another pair had a lipstick kiss pattern. The gals got a kick out that.

2. I smoke. Heavily. For 28 years, with no lack of impact on my health. Although I did succeed in going smoke-free for 5 months a couple years ago. Today, I struggle with the nerve to put them down again, any day now.

3. I was very active in the pro-life movement back in the late 80's and through out the 90's. Not unusual in and of itself. What was unusual: I came to my conviction intellectually, without any religious practice to speak of. I started out as an agnostic/deist. My fellow movers couldn't understand how somebody could not be Christian, or religious at all, and still be as intellectually committed to pro-life principles as I was. And still am. And I still think the pro-life movement is too heavily Jesusafied to be the success it should be.

4. If you see me with a bucket of KFC and a six-pack, leave me alone. I don't wanna be bothered. Both wives will attest to this.

5. I like to bake, and it helps me relax and unwind. I've been doing my own cakes,pies, cookies etc... since I was old enough to stand on a chair to reach the mixer. As it goes, I have a collection of top quality bake ware and gadgets, along with traditional recipes handed down that you cant find anywhere else. Even Betty Crocker would be envious.

6. If I had my choice: I'd rather be stuck in crowd of Muslims than a roomful of Jews. I've had the experiences of both, and on more than one occasion. Muslims are warm, friendly, open-armed people, generous of spirit and quick to befriend. Jews,though nice and decent, are just plain annoying in large numbers.
*On second thought: Everyone else is,too. Maybe that's why I avoid crowds.

7. No secret: I was born in Chicago, and my ancestry is heavily Italian. Calabrese, to be more precise. But this is only my father's side, who immigrated to this country alone when he was 15. Mom's side is predominantly Canadian-French laced with Pottawatomie, rooted entirely in Chicago from the city's founding, and has been traced to this grandfather.
All this, and $1.50, will get a me good cup of coffee, and a place to sit, at any Denny's in the nation.

8. I was here!


Mick said...

Care to share any of the recipes? I need something for rhubarb.

Gino said...

never done rhubarb.

rhubarb? what are you doing with rhubarb?

The Law Fairy said...

*Mormons* are the nicest religious people. They even beat us cool-ass Episcopalians.

Mick said...

I found it and decided to bring it home

now I have 4 plants growing with no idea of what to do with them.

kr :) said...

Dude, times were different way back: 17 children?!?

So, did Milo get sick from the mini-burger, as the YouTube poster asks? Or would we rather not know ;)?

Did the ladies try to lift the pipers' kilts? I'd expect some crazy squawks ...

My husband was pro-life and agnostic. (Now he's pro-life and religious.) But we both agree with you that focussing on a heavy Jesus-tack doesn't help the movement.

Do you use butter or shortening or margarine? Salted or unsalted?

(Look, I've accidentally written good blog-post questions :). )

Gino said...

kr; yeah, and with all those kids, i think 1/2 of chicago can claim relation.
anybody kilted was a target to be lifted. it just went with the territory.

butter. always butter. it performs better, though salted or not i've never been able to tell a difference.

kr :) said...

mmm ... butter ...

oh the joy the day I realized butter is lactose-free:
oh, the cookies ...
oh, the piecrusts ...

mmm ...

(Although, I have to disagree a little. Crisco made prettier cookies and crusts. Back before I realized it was sugar-coated death ;).)

Gino said...

do you remember domino liquid brown sugar?
havent seen it in like 20yrs, but damn, it was good for chocolate chip cookies.

kr said...

no, I've never heard of it ... really? I would think it would mess with the light-and-fluffy aspect of creaming the butter and the sugar?

I've read that, a couple hundred years ago, that whole creaming step was The Leavening in non-yeast baking--it worked air into the dough, which then expanded when heated--because they didn't use baking powder or baking soda. I've been tempted to try it ... but only because I have a mixer. One thing I have to say for the French, they must be very determined about their food--mayonaise, whipped cream, and all non-yeast baked goods were all ridiculously labor-intensive without a machine. Which has also led me to some extremely inappropriate thinking about repetitive motion and why chefs were male and farm husbands were the ones who held pride for their individual mayonaises ... ;).

Gino said...

keep that up, and you'll lose you fem cred. :0)

Jade said...

That video clip has the All-O-Gistics stuck in my head now :)

I'm curious to know how you arrive at a pro-life decision logically and not because of religion (just because the only argument I've ever heard for pro-life has had something to do with what God or Jesus said)

Gino said...

jade: in short...
is it alive? Y
is it human? Y
so, it is human life. Y

is it the woman's body?
or a distinct body of its own?

biology, and now DNA, all points that it is it's own body, possessing by extension its own humanity.

if we give benefit of the doubt in our legal system to rapists, murders, and child molesters, then why not to these innocent unborn children, (because they can be nothing else given the evidence), who's only crime is to be living and growing and inconvenient?

kr said...

Jade: additionally:

we can now grow life forward, and we can increasingly save earlier and earlier premature babies. I believe we will have the capability of non-uterine babies in my lifetime. This makes the already pertinent logic even more pertinent:

Where do you/do we draw the line? When does it become morally reprehensible to kill the little one?

Apathyboy might find this interesting, too, if he is still around.

Current American legalism generally says "at full birth," which has led to the beautiful (/sarcasm/) battles over partial birth abortion. (Kerry, supporting that, is either more evil or more stupid or has sold more of his soul for votes, as far as I am concerned, than Bush, and for all the horrendousness Bush has been affiliated with, I still would not have voted Kerry. That is of course becoming a more damning judgment all the time.)

There are plenty of societies that thought killing little people was fine/laudible for various lengths of time after birth (infanticide is WAYYYYY less medically dangerous for the mother, just for starters, than medical or pharmaceutical abortion are at any stage of pregnancy; I believe at most stages of human history birth was safer than available abortive methods. I'm pretty sure non-medical birth still is.)

Various religions and philosophies and atheist thinkers that think life begins, variously, before conception, at conception, at birth, at first breath ... I haven't heard of a later date, but certainly societally established wait-periods represent that ... those children weren't accepted into the human family until, say, naming (christening) or some other ritual presentation

There have always been people who thought some category of other people weren't _really_ people (darker skin, hereditary slaves, smaller, the tribe over the hill, the newest wave of immigrants, the native people of a land newly claimed ... )
It is so convenient, don't you know, to have people that one can use as one pleases, that one doesn't have to worry about using, abusing, or using up--especially if such use makes life easier for other people, especially if those other people are people you love (or at least people with whom you affiliate your own personal right to existence)--aren't "we" more important than "them"?
(And that's ignoring the straight-up unabashed magikal-thinking that leads to the scary ritual sacrifices seeing a resurgence in South Africa and a variety of expatriate West African communities, especially in Britain ... child trafficking was horrific enough when it was for slavery, dammit, why do we need worse nightmares?? At least those people usually see there is more power to be gained by fully recognizing the personhood of the one torture-killed. Yech.)
Ruling classes have always found it convenient to turn the oppressed classes against each other
I will cut the rest of this category of thought because I can't personally argue it except incredibly visciously (it makes me very very VERY angry), but there are sociological/psychological arguments to be made about abortion and the oppression of women, the incredibly fucked up "relationship" between the sexes right now, the history of Western medical practice re: women, the initial openly eugenic and racist focus of the early 20th c abortion advocates (not to mention some of the current ones), the entire social development that is involved with the concept of the "ME Generation" ...

"Medically," people speak of various measures for the start of human life (heartbeat? recognizably feels pain? recognizable extremities? capable of breathing?) ... but there is no consensus (AT ALL), and certainly what is considered viable (or potentially viable) outside the womb is a shifting target ... notably, it constantly shifts _backwards_, lending more and more credence to an earlier rather than a later achievement of "humanity." So many "medical" ("objective," don't you know) measures actually are perceptive ... do we decide to believe the fetus "feels pain" when we see it react exactly the way a born-child would when poked with a pin? or when its body produces, upon pin-prick, the hormones we know are the same we produce when our nerves register pain (this is much earlier than the visual test, and led German doctors a few years ago to recommend that fetuses always be administered anesthesia before termination ... I don't know if that passed into law, I think I heard it did ... because, they (properly) asserted, we just Don't Know ... )

Spiritually (not religiously--this experience is not affiliated with a specific religion), I have "met" all four babies the first week I was aware they were there, and with the first three I knew which sex they were (the fourth I didn't "ask" right away--long story) ... which "could" be some instinctual mother-hormone thing, except that various spiritually/psychically active members of both families, with quite a variety of religious and non-religious worldviews, also could touch-base with the little one well enough to accurately guess gender. I suppose even that could be phermonal. But my dad's mom (now dead) used to call my mom within days of conception (Mom tells it like it was The Day Of, but conception of course is 72 hours fuzzy, so I won't claim that) to ask about the new baby (I don't know if she pegged all five of us)--she lived thousands of miles away, had nine kids of her own, and was not blood-related to Mom, but still knew there was a new life to welcome.

Some neo-pagan books include rituals for honoring the death of your child when you choose to abort (just to hit an interesting non-Jesus religious development) ... these women were basing their need for a ritual on their (decidedly non-Christian) spiritual experiences of their own and their friends' abortions.

Speaking in actual scientific terms (as opposed to medical ones, which are extremely prone to social prejudice); in Biology I was taught (lessee if I can remember them, 17 years later) that something was a distinct living member of a species if it
had distinct DNA
had DNA per that species
consumed/used food (they didn't say it that way)
could replicate its cells for growth/repair (something about organized cell growth, I think)

Which made a bitchy retort very difficult to suppress when I ran into a jr high friend just after college, and she asserted, among other things meant to shock (or something), "Well, I was a biology major, so of course I am pro-choice."

As my godmother once put it, What do they think it is, a fish???

Oops. I slipped bitchy at the end. (Wince. Sorry. A couple of these points I haven't yet worked out non-bitchy presentations for.)

In any case, the only holds-internal-logic arguments that "human" life begins at birth are religious ones, where people CHOOSE to believe that ensoulment (or something or other) differentiates a pre-birth child from a born-child. Medicine and science (and, where available, medical science) not only don't support our weirdass legalistic distinction between murder vs legal termination, they specifically, consistently, and increasingly point to that definition being incredibly--myself, I cannot see how it is not undeniably--arbitrary.

Medicine and science cannot provide a "start date" that makes any consistent sense besides "the day it becomes a self-replicating genetically human life" ... that definition is not only the only objectively consistent one and the only morally conservative one (shouldn't we err on the side of life??), it is more and more likely to be the scientifically "proven" one, when we manage to create our first ourselves. (Whether or not that is a good idea is of course it's own can of worms.)

So, yes, there are lots and lots of ways to be pro-life without any appreciation for Jesus at all.

Jade, I spoke much more openly here than I would normally do, since I trust that you know me well enough/know enough of me from way-back-when to know that I do not mean to attack you with my answer. I don't think I even know if you are yourself pro-choice or pro-life. It was recently driven home to me that people usually perceive my determined intellectual arguments as aggressive/oppressive. I apologize if that happened here. I was trying to honor your question with the most complete answer-set I've collected. (Well, the most complete presentable one. I wish I were less angry on the sociological stuff.)


kr said...

keep that up, and you'll lose you fem cred. :0)
I'm pretty sure ... last I checked ... yep, feminists are allowed to think about sex ;).
It's my whole Catholic chastity thing that might be called into question. But I didn't "entertain the thoughts," so I think I get off on a technicality. (Whoops! No pun intended, but that was an excellent Freudian slip, woo woo! ;)! )

Jade said...


I don't feel attacked, I was just curious because the talking points the media puts on the air showing vocal pro-life individuals only ever seems to be showing religious based groups.

Personally, I'm absolutely against abortion - and I agree with all that you and Gino say (in short... it's a life, it's not right to kill) My problem is, I have this opressive cloud hanging over me that I was raised with... my mom's voice saying "Mind your own damn business!" which prevents me from saying "I don't think abortion is right, so nobody else can do it either." Even though you can make the same argument for murder - I don't think murder is right, so nobody else can do it either - and yeah... I do believe that abortion is murder... there's just still this part of me that feels like the door needs to remain open for extreme cases. I suppose that technically makes me pro-choice (I don't know if there's a Pro-only if it's medically necessary for some reason group out there?)

kr said...

(PHEW :).)

yes, it is of course convenient to show religious-pro-lifers ... provides infotainment and shuts down actual public debate, at the same time ... what more could a news program ask for? (Grr grr grr.)

yes, extreme cases are a problem, and at that level I can't operate without God
because, as I finally understood when I was door-to-dooring to repeal the Oregon assisted suicide law, if you don't believe in the redemptive power of suffering, a lot of things simply make no sense at all to choose to experience
and I haven't worked out the non-Christian arguments for redemptive suffering (I know they exist, because plenty of non-Christians believe in it, but I was brought up with the Christian set)

kr said...

oh, and the God thing comes in because of miracles, too, which doesn't fly with non-religious people ;).

Jade said...

Hmmm... redemptive suffering. Is that why my Catholic mom automatically said "God is punishing you" when I'd bang my knee on the corner of the coffee table?

I'm agnostic, and I believe in miracles. I just don't think it's one all-knowing being that presents a miracle like it's some sort of after dinner mint wrapped in a pretty bow... (or rather, I don't know if it is or not) but I believe there is a force in the universe that we are all connected to in our own way, and if you pay attention and listen to it, things happen.

Gino said...

banging the knee?
no. thats not redemptive suffering.
but it could be, if you are in proper mind to make it so.

redemptive suffering is when you take your pain, and use it to enrich your soul.
fasting is a common form of this, and a rather simple one.

kr, i'm sure, is plenty well versed in this subject to offer a more thorough explanation than i could.
i just know how to suffer with a smilie face, but cant explain how.

kr said...

kr, i'm sure, is plenty well versed in this subject to offer a more thorough explanation than i could
hmph, Gino ... this is a worrisome sort of assertion to live with ;).

Jade, I would add a second aspect to Gino's answer. Yes, there is the self-growth type. I usually think of it in the for-others way.

Both have to do, one way or another, with aligning oneself with reality. Most of us can see that really accepting and moving through a pain is somehow redemptive ... we can see that that is a growth process for us. But what happens when a pain is thrust upon you that is not really a result of your own choices (not a result of your misalignment with ideal reality)? Choosing to accept and move through that suffering can be self-redemptive, but there is at some level the added aspect that you are moving through it in order to add positive balance to reality in general, or maybe for the person who caused the pain, or for others who were caused pain by that person ...

it has something to do with the fundamentally communal nature of people, and the fundamental interconnectedness of all things on all levels, including spiritual ... any good work I do affects everything connected to me, at at least every level I am active ...

from the Catholic understanding, redemptive suffering is a more specific concept: one offers their suffering for others (either a specific other, or others in general); sometimes this is phrased as "in atonement for the sins of humanity" or such churchy-type language ...

so, I'd say your mother had an unfortunately Calvinistic understanding of suffering, fundamentally Protestant rather than fundamentally Catholic (a lot of American Catholics are more American than Catholic ... ). Sigh. I'm sorry. Suffering is pretty important in Christianity--the whole Jesus thing, you know--but humans are naturally uncomfortable with it ;).

kr said...

Jade--one of the two rosaries I had turn gold, was when I was praying for J when he freaked out during class one day. 'Thought you and your belief in miracles might think that was interesting :). I never was sure what to make of that.

(The only friend I had who witnessed both transformations was an agnostic with an openness to believing in miracles ;). )

Jade said...

KR - was that when he hauled off and punched his friend? I remember that time... what a horrible time for him.
That is interesting about the rosary... being close to J kind of automaticaly makes me believe in miracles (it's a miracle he survived to adulthood - and is currently happily married)

I think we should write directly to each other, given that we've sort of taken over Gino's comments here (sorry G!) I'm reluctant to post my main e-mail address on a blog, but my extra e-mail is pdxphile @ if you want to write :)

kr said...


I figured, given that abortion comes up fairly regularly here, we were still Gino-ist ... but thank you, and I will email you.

(Yes, that was when J hit A. I am glad to know J made it ... .)

Gino said...


soon to become a noun.

kr said...

erm ... adjective ;). (Even my casual NW self won't go so far as to noun an adjective ;). )