Yet another blog for spewing. This one may end up with a lot of religious and social content.


Childfree, or how I dodged the baby bullet

On November 16, 2005, I got spayed. I had it done because I had fibroids. I was 44. It hass been the most liberating and delightful thing in my life. No more periods, no more cramps, no more worrying about *ever* getting pregnant!!

But for years and years earlier, whenever I had sex, I would *always* worry if I would get pregnant. Yeah, I could get an abortion, I lived in California. But even the first trimester fucks with your body. Having erratic menses didn't help, either. I had never sought sterilization previously, because I grew up with the ethic of "If it isn't broken, don't fix it!", and being "baby ready" is the default configuration of the female body.

I came to hate the script, that little "plan" that my socioeconomic caste was expected to follow: college, marriage, house and kids. No matter what field I went into, it would always be pushed aside, along with my self, in the interests of the next generation. Still, I always said "When I can afford it.", "When I have a house.", blah, blah. Buying a house has been out of reach for me for decades in the Bay Area - I wasn't willing to be a gold-digger to get a spouse that could afford it.

The fact is, I knew, deep in my heart, that I didn't want to be a mother. I have only recently, in the last decade, been able to even somewhat control my temper well enough to be responsible for other lives. I hate loud crying, screaming, and whining. I hate the constant "Why, why, why" of toddlers. If I had followed the script, I would have been an abusive, frustrated and bitter bitch, and no kid should ever have to grow up with that for a mother.

So I just... avoided it. Dodged it with a lot of "Well, after I've X, Y or Z." I didn't socialize a lot with people who had young kids - we had very little in common. If I couldn't have a real conversation with the kid, I didn't play entertainer. Fortunately, I didn't get too much flak about it. People who knew me knew I wasn't mommy material, and I stayed away from the type of people that pushed parenthood, including the religious nuts who think it's some sort of mandate from gawd. Avoiding idiots is something I try to have as a fine art.

It's only in the last few years that I've come to embrace the label childfree. Not because my social circle has become a nest of kid-pushers, but because American society has become more and more child-centric. Even my friends that have kids are disgusted at the cult of the brat that has sprung up around the youngest parents and their "precious" offspring. Even the youngest of my friends were raised to be courteous to others. Not most kids today - they're taught that the world revolves around them, the world owes them adulation, that what they want is all that counts. I want to drop-kick a lot of them, with their so-called parents, off a cliff.

The easiest, cheesiest way politicians have of selling some social restriction or establishment of a new victimless crime is "for the children". Helmet laws, seatbelt laws, smoking laws, drug laws, gun laws, decency laws, blah, blah, blah are all passed on the "think of the children", "do it for the children" line. Sorry folks, we old farts were here first, and there are more of us.

The religious right has jumped on the baby bandwagon with both feet. The whole "right to life" thing is just one more front in their religious, faux moral, war on American culture, just like the drug war, the crime war and all their other pet wars. Best way to keep those uppity feminists in their place - saddle 'em with a baby on each hip, "for the future", "for the glory of god", "for the sake of Life™". What about the lives of those who are already here? Oh, that's right, we're only women, nothing more than vessels for the next generation of men to rule the world. Fuck that. Birth control, access to sterilization, and abortion are nothing more than our demand to chose our own destiny, not be merely brood mares for the next generation.

Oh, BTW, why is it okay for 13 year olds to be forced to bear a baby to term, but for a doctor or a state to deny a 20 year old an abortion or a sterilization because they "don't know what they really want" or "aren't old enough to make that decision"? Birthing another life is a lot more life altering and permanent than getting fixed, for two (or more) people, not just one.

So, yeah, I'm childfree, and I blog. I usually don't make a really big deal about it, because I believe in the right of every person to chose their own life path, and the responsibility of everyone to deal with the consequences, both good and bad, or those choices. But when people start assuming that "females with blogs" = "mommy blogging", I've got to set them straight.

This post triggered by Purple Women & Friends.


Bush at His Work...

Denying the will of the American people, again.

First, he wielded his petulant veto on money for our troops because the American people, through Congress said "No forever war, no blank check!"

"Waah, waah!" says King George, "If you don't give me what I want, which is carte blache, I will veto it." So the troops get no money. Way to go, King George, way to support the troops! I'm sure they love their failing equipment and 15 month overseas deployments in your little dick waving adventure to prove how baddass you are. A lot of people have celebrated all the way to the graveyard.

Then, Congress finally passed a long overdue hate crimes bill adding protection for women, gays, transgender and disabled people. King George doesn't consider any of those to be real people, they are lesser beings who should not be out on the streets, if allowed to live at all.

So out comes his petulant veto pen, which never saw the light of day when his Rethuglican cronies passed rapacious bill after bill, and promises to veto a modest protection, albeit only after the fact, for people who aren't able-bodied heterosexual males.

Well, we can see who butters his bread, don't we? Let me give you a hint - it's not the majority of Americans.

So Georgie gives another set of payoffs to his wing nut "base" - the people who espouse and commit hate crimes against women, gays, the disabled, clinics, liberal churches, immigrants, Muslims, liberals, and other non-white-rich-able-bodied-evangelical-Christianist-chickenhawk-males.

Doesn't that make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside? Isn't it great that Georgie cares so much for the mothers of his soldiers that he won't even sign hate crimes legislation to help protect them? Or sign a bill to protect the soldiers once they come home broken and disabled from his quest to make a name for himself in history?

His cronies already have cut, and cut again, veterans funding, including housing funding, all the while creating loopholes and tax breaks for rich guys and fat-cat corporations who use offshore tax dodges right and left.

2008 can't come soon enough. George and his lapdogs aren't listening. Throw the bastards out!!


Politics and Religion

Now, I've covered the gay marriage thing here, and a bit about the abortion issue, plus a few zings at the pharmacists who don't want to do their jobs because they thing God told them not to. I've taken a swack at the Dominionists, too.

But now lets take a look at one of the most insidious of the lot: the religious "credentials" of elected officials.

Now, when I was in school in the 60s and 70s, they taught us very carefully that there was no religious test for office. In fact, if you actually read the US Constitution, in Article VI, the last paragraph states:
The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States. (emphasis mine)
Now, this carries two relatively loaded concepts:
1) All elected, executive and judicial officers of the federal and state government are to be bound by oath or affirmation to uphold the Constitution.
2) No religious test is required to be passed to fill any elected or appointed office (or presumably any civil service post.)

How then, does this square with the outrage that the Christianists spewed forth over the election of a Muslim Representative, Keith Ellison, and his desire to use the Koran for his swearing in pictures? How does this settle with the comments by the blowhard Dominionist wingnut James Dobson that former Senator Fred Thompson is "not Christian enough" to be elected to the presidency, that were subsequently given airtime by the mainstream media outlets? Why in the hell is even Barack Obama, a Democrat, holding forth frequently about his faith? Is that supposed to make Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Agnostics, Atheists and Pagans want to vote for him?

It's getting to the point where if a politician wears his or her faith on their sleeve, I am less inclined to vote for them. If they feel that the best place for a photo op is in front of a megachurch, then I doubt they care enough about people like me to earn my vote.

Even Jesus said "Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's". The secular stays secular, the laws of the land are not gods laws, and vice-versa!

The fact that for the last 10 years the mainstream madia has been like flies on shit for every little pronouncement from evangelical "leaders" like Robertson, Dobson, Haggard, Falwell, and their cohorts fills me with disgust and apprehension. Why does a secular government and media put so much weight on the blatherings of a bunch of religious power seekers that already have their own media outlets? Is it always that slow of a news day, or are the owners and editors of these giant media corporations going and drinking the Christianist Flav-R-Aid?

Essentially, these Religious Right wingnuts are turning their reach and media aided influence into a defacto religious test for office, and non Judeo-Christian(-Islamic) people automatically flunk, and the rest are graded on how well they mouth the bogus morals of the Christianist party.

BTW, if you need a religious book or preacher to tell you what is right and wrong, under the threat of hell if you don't obey, then to me you are mortally defective, and possibly a sociopath. The person who does right because it is right, not because a book or church says to, or because they expect some sort of reward in an unknown afterlife, is the truly moral person.


Blog Against Theocracy

So, it's an official campaign. Part of it is being sponsored by First Freedom First

Now, this blog has, since its inception, been given over to posts against religious right dittoheads, and other smarmy control freaks who would shove their religion down the throats and into the private lives of others. Whether the subject has been marriage law, abortion, or other things, the personal, religious, and the political meet here.

So take a look through some of my prior posts, and also my Live Journal posts relating to theocracy.

I hope to hold forth, albeit to a small readership, on things relevant to the theocratic/dominionist attempt to borg this country.


Earth is a Mother

Hey, religious right fundamentalist blowhards! Remember when your leaders (Robertson, Limbaugh, etc.) said that Katrina, Rita and all of those other natural disasters were God's punishment of the wicked, yada, yada??

Then why is it, especially this year, that it's the RED (religious and republican) states that are getting hammered by tornadoes and stuff? Are you wicked, immoral, and against God?? We know you are bigoted, judgmental, and not following the example of Jesus. Maybe your God is trying to tell you something?

Or maybe weather is weather, global warming is real, and you're getting bitten by something you supposedly don't believe in. Oh, the irony! Aren't you sorry that FEMA still sucks due to the Republican gutting of government to pay for their illegal war?


Religious Instruction and Teens

There has been a bit of turmoil roiling about the web about people who "teach" teens their religion. It seems as if any old Christian church is free to indoctrinate any non-believing teens that it can get through its doors, but if pagans and heathens teach teens about their religion, they get slammed by the parents as "contributing to the delinquency of a minor", "sexual predators", or "abuse of trust", etc. The argument is that this is "not fair".

If it were that simple, the argument would be absolutely correct. However, the reality is a bit different.

First, the true unfairness: Christianity is an "accepted" religion to teach kids about, even if their parents don't approve. Any suits about it would get laughed out of court, because it's ubiquitous. If a Muslim, Hindu or Pagan parent gets bent out of shape about their kid attending a Christian service, they have little recourse.

Of course, it could be, and is, argued that a service isn't "instruction". Why don't they get accused of molestation and contribution to delinquency? Because they are general thought to be "safe" - but look at the catholic priests and boys issues, even for parentally approved interactions!

However, most Christian services and instruction take place in an open, public setting. There are lots of people, lots of "upstanding" witnesses. It becomes much harder to prove misconduct in that environment. Still, very few fundamentalist/evangelical preachers ask for permission slips from their under-age attendees whose parents aren't present or members also. Bad, bad news, IMO. I'd love to see one of those deceptive religion sellers hoist on their own petard for that.

Pagan instruction tends to be one-on-one, or small group, and not public. This, then, can be twisted much more easily by a DA looking to make a name, or a parent with a control issue.

Adults who teach teens tend to be targets of overzealous prosecution, and they have a lot to lose. How would you like to be arrested, have your reputation and job ruined, be imprisoned and/or sued for everything you own, have a criminal record, and possibly to be branded a "sex offender" because you had a teen over to your house for simple religious instruction? This is also why most capable teachers won't teach teens, period. Not in any tradition where "sky clad" or "sex positive" could even be attributed to it - even if you don't say a word about it!

Now, this is not to say that adult pagans can't give information to teens. They must, however, be more careful of how they do so, to protect themselves and the community.

First, the don'ts:
  • Don't meet alone with a teen. One-on-one must wait for adulthood or parental permission.
  • Don't meet with teens in a private location.
  • Don't delve into the sex, body image, and other anti-puritanical stuff yet.
  • Don't encourage the kid to lie to their parents. The truth or silence does just as well.
  • Don't lie about your own age to teens you are working with.
Then, the dos:
  • Do ask for parental permission, in writing (see below).
  • Do invite teens to open and public events.
  • Do post informational material and resource lists on the web.
  • Do answer email and chat questions.
  • Do be willing to answer parental questions.
  • Do give the teens credit for some brains.
  • Do counsel patience for teens whose parents are averse to the entire idea, as much as it sucks.
About permission slips - here's a sample:
I, __________________________, give my permission for my son/daughter, ___________________________, to take religious instruction with ___________________________________. I understand that this instruction is pagan/heathen in nature, and is viewed by some as non-mainstream.

Signed: ________________________________________

Date: ________________ Phone Number: _______________________
A permission slip should be designed to cover the instructor's ass, the kid's ass, and the parent's ass from busybodies and nosy parkers, as well as parents. If the parent knows, and assents, you can do formal initiatory instruction. If not, well, you need to stick to what you can point to that is publicly available.

IMO, any religious instruction (sermons, schooling, "abstinence education") of minors should require a permission slip of this sort. If I had a kid, and they were being preached at or indoctrinated, I would want to know about it, and if a preacher or "witness" wanted to drag them to services, they could damn well get my permission.

If the parents don't approve, the teen is very limited as to what can be done for them. Yes, they could seek emancipation, but that has its own troubles. Having the kid lie about their activities to their parents is bad for both your ethics, and their ethical development. Sometimes, putting up with fundie indoctrination can be a test of patience and resolve.

This is where the "Die Gedanken Sind Frei" (Our Thoughts Are Free) concept comes in: a teen's parents may have control over what the teen is permitted to do or attend, but there is no moral way for them to control what they think.

If they are true jerks, they can send the teen to one of those nasty "boot camps" that break and brainwash the kid. However, that is only quasi-legal (because of the physical and psychological torture involved), and definitely unethical and immoral (a true religion doesn't convert or retain by brainwashing). Also, it can backfire horribly. I know adults who have been through those camps, and they hate their families with a passion, and suffer PTSD on top of it.

So, if the teens' parents are hostile, the best advice is for the teen to keep their views on religion to himself, attend whatever church services the parents require, and read whatever religious information is freely, publicly available, possibly at the library. It keeps the peace in the home, teaches patience, and prepares the teen for a lifetime of being a member of a misunderstood and much maligned minority religion.

© 2007 by Ravan Asteris. Permission to repost granted, provided the text is unaltered and the attribution and copyright notices are retained.


Homeless Fundamentals

What does it mean to be "homeless"?? Poor? Crazy? Addicted? Loser?


Let's look at the basic etymology of the word - home-less: home = place to live with walls and roof, -less = without, minus, lacking. So homeless is "without (a) place to live". Simple, no?

Now, what causes this?
* Is it addiction? No, lots of alcoholics and drug addicts have homes, and not all homeless are addicts.
* Is it mental illness? No, lots of mentally ill people have homes, and not all homeless are mentally ill.
* Is it poverty? Yes and no. The poor that can't afford homes where they work end up homeless, but being poor does not in and of itself cause homelessness.
* Is it lack of will? No. The homeless hustle a lot more just to eat, drink, keep their stuff, find a place to sleep, etc, than many of us with housing, and lots of losers have places to live.

To be really, really blunt: being homeless is caused by the unavailability of housing that you can afford.

In many urban areas, a full time minimum wage job (CA: $7.50/hr * 168 hr/mo - taxes = $1,017.30 {/2 = $508.65}, AZ: $5.15/hr * 168 hr/mo - taxes[no state income tax] = $733.48 {/2 = $366.74}) does not pay enough rent a cheap, run-down studio in a crappy part of town, much less a safe place to live (figure half of take-home). State and Federal Disability payments are not enough either. ( - most here are out in the boonies, rv spaces, or shared housing).

There are a limited number of "Section 8" units in these areas, and the waiting lists for them is usually several years long. Where do the people live in the meantime? On the streets, or on the couches of already overcrowded friends and family.

Several years ago, an older couple we knew was forced out of their apartment by a greedy landlord who wanted to "remodel" and get "market" rent (about twice what the couple was paying). They could not find another place. They literally put their stuff into storage and moved into my living room for 2 years. We had 6 adults living in a small 4 bedroom, 1 bath house. Technically, they weren't "homeless", but they still had little privacy.

So I figure that for every person living on the streets, there are two more "couch surfing" or otherwise crowded into inadequate living conditions.

This problem has grown from almost non-existant in the early 70s to an epidemic today. Why? The lack of federal and state funding for construction and maintenance of affordable (and accessible) housing units. Many previous (pre 1980) units have been "privatized" - returned to "market" rates - and removed from the affordable pool. This, coupled with the gross decline in the buying power of a minimum wage job, has led to the current "crisis".

The gutting of the affordable housing programs started before Reagan, but accelerated each time we had republican majorities in Congress (they who control the purse).

Most "homeless assistance" programs today are just band-aids on a sucking chest wound. They can only open shelters - crowded, demeaning, and unstable, because they cost less than building real, long term affordable housing. There is at least an order of magnitude difference in funding.

If we got shed of Bush's Iraq war, and put that money instead into building affordable housing, retraining the returning GIs for new careers, and paying down the deficit, we would be making an important investment in the future of this country.

Reference: “Without Housing: Decades of Federal Housing Cutbacks, Massive Homelessness and Policy Failures”