Holy shit! It’s the first day of Spring! Happy Equinox, everybody! The days are already growing longer, the temperatures are already rising, and tornado season has already begun here in Michigan. Soon the grass will turn green again, and all the cutesy woodland critters will start making babies. I’m already itching to pull out the ol’ Maypole and light me up a Wicker Man for the season!
The holiday I celebrate at this time of year is Walpurgisnacht (April 30), and I plan to make a big honkin’ deal about it this year. There will be nature walking. There will be barbecuing. There will be headbanging. And there will probably be a campfire in my back yard at some point too. Man oh man, am I glad that winter’s over!
Here’s hoping everyone will have a fantastic Ostara / Easter / Passover / May Day / Walpurgisnacht holiday season.
My heart goes out to all the Muslim families in Christchurch, New Zealand who are now suffering in the wake of yesterday’s horrific tragedy. I can only imagine how it must feel to see armed police in front of every house of worship in your neighborhood that is dedicated to your faith. Know that there are people all over the world standing in solidarity with you, of all beliefs and no belief. This tragedy will not be forgotten.
One thing that really sticks in my craw is the idea that churches deserve or are somehow entitled to receive funding from American taxpayers. Some people think denying the use of taxpayer funds for the historic preservation of churches is an “infringement” upon people’s free exercise rights. In particular, Justice Brett Kavanaugh says he is “troubled” by a lower court opinion on this matter that ruled against the churches. He seems unduly concerned that churches are being denied historic preservation funds simply because they are religious establishments.
Churches are given too many breaks as it is. While you and I have to pay taxes for our houses, our roads, and our emergency responders, churches don’t. They enjoy all the benefits of owning property, driving on paved roads, and dialing 911 without having to help pay for either of these things. Churches also generate revenue from their members, and most of their revenue is spent not on charitable things like feeding the poor, but on purchasing property, manufacturing products, and organizing missions or other “outreach” programs (so they can attract more followers and generate more revenue). In other words, churches are essentially private businesses that don’t have to pay any taxes, and by giving them so many tax exemptions, the federal government forces all American taxpayers to support them—whether we actually affiliate with them or not.
If you think I’m overreacting, the Church of Scientology is a legally-recognized church that enjoys all the same protections and exemptions as the Roman Catholic Church. So if you live in a state that’s lucky enough to have any Scientologists living in it, chances are good that some of your tax money is going into the manufacture of E-meters. Now if you’re a Scientologist, I can see how this might not bother you; but if you aren’t a Scientologist, it might really piss you off. Some of us feel the exact same way about more conventional churches as well. I think the Catholic Church has every right to exist, but it does not have the right to fund its activities and its politics with my money. This is an institution, after all, that denies women the right to terminate unwanted pregnancies, which is a fundamental human right that Setians hold sacred. A Setian woman must be capable of terminating a pregnancy if she is to be fully capable of practicing her religion (even if she doesn’t actually choose to terminate), which means the Catholic Church is working to deny her free exercise rights. And the fact that my taxes are being used to support such an initiative is, frankly, unacceptable.
Of all the stupid things that have come out from the White House this past couple of years, this is my nomination for the absolute stupidest. Mind you, I don’t know that every little thing in AOC’s proposed Green New Deal is actually feasible; there is always some disappointment to be experienced in almost any transition from ideality to reality. But nevertheless, I think AOC’s proposals are absolutely worth fighting for, and I think raising the minimum wage is essential.
But then we have Ivanka Trump offering cute little hum-dingers like this one:
“I don’t think most Americans, in their heart, want to be given something. … People want to work for what they get. So, I think that this idea of a guaranteed minimum is not something most people want.” (Source)
Here are all the reasons why Ivanka is wrong:
- Most people want to be able to pay all their bills.
- Most people are unable to pay all their bills.
- This is because most people aren’t being paid enough money by their employers.
Furthermore, it is common knowledge across the entire globe (and possibly the universe) that Americans love to earn more money for doing less work. (I know I certainly do!) Surely, a rich and privileged aristocrat who has never had to earn a living for herself should already be well-acquainted with this fact. But of course, Ivanka isn’t really speaking for the American People here. She’s clearly speaking for the 1% of our population who are billionaires and who use all their social and political leverage to keep the rest of us under their thumbs. You see, people like Ivanka live in a totally different moral universe where a person’s worth is determined entirely by their wealth and status (or their lack thereof). Only those with the most wealth and the highest status are important; everyone else is just an insect to be ignored, manipulated, or perhaps even exterminated. And whenever anyone tries to address the injustice of this system, they are dismissed as some gibbering, wild-eyed “radical.”
Since the dawn of humanity, in every culture and every age, the masses have always been cheated and tyrannized by wealthy assholes who think they know what’s good for all the rest of us. And for most of history, the masses have simply bent over and taken it. It’s only been during the past couple hundred years that we’ve even started articulating this issue. Here it is, a century and a half since the death of Karl Marx, and people still think bridging the gap between the rich and the poor is a “radical,” “ridiculous,” or even “scary” idea. Considering how much the 1% hate us, it’s a miracle there are any “little people” left to refill their martini glasses or powder their noses.
This is a fascinating article about Laxmi Narayan Tripathi, an Indian reality TV star who later came to identify as transgender, and who eventually founded the first monastic order of transgender people in Hinduism.
This is a fascinating article about apotropaic symbols that were carved into the walls of a cave system in England centuries ago, but which have only just been discovered and recognized for what they are. (I have to admit, it makes me giddy to see a CNN report with the word apotropaism used in the text several times!)
This cute little fellow is the Bramble Cay melomys, and he no longer exists; the government of Australia has now declared his entire species to be extinct. What’s more, his species appears to have been wiped out by human-made climate change.
Now I know some of you are saying, “So what? It’s just a rat.” And that is certainly true; the Bramble Cay melomys is (or was) most certainly a rat. But I think it’s sad whenever an entire species goes extinct—especially if the root cause of its extinction is the human race. Unfortunately, I’m sure the Bramble Cay melomys will not be the last species to disappear thanks to our own species’ destructive behavior. I think we can expect to hear more reports like this one in the years ahead.