Flash Fiction #193

box-office-ted-strutz

PHOTO PROMPT © Ted Strutz

ETAIL/RETAIL

The world, she is a-changin’. Nothing is sure but death and taxes, and a photo with two adjacent signs which say ‘Pine’ ‘BOX’, make that evident. Did Amazon become successful because retail chains failed, or are retail chains failing because Amazon successfully serves the market?

Where does Amazon get all its boxes? Where stores were once required to compress and dispose of cardboard packaging, now my garage is full of little boxes. Amazon could come around and pick up a bunch of ‘em.

I bought a cross-cut shredder to protect from identity theft, but I won’t buy a damned compactor.

***

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

Friday Fictioneers

Advertisements

Is Atheism A Bad Idea?

Atheism

He was an Atheist for 40 years, then one day, he became Catholic. (Or so he claims. I suspect a troll.) Not A Catholic – merely Catholic. He and I had some words. They grew too numerous for a comments column…. so here we are again.

And how miserable does atheism make you? Choosing it is a bit like choosing to be fatherless in the world. Left to your own devices.

For someone claiming to be Atheist for forty years, his assumptions and questions are bewildering. He seems to imply that morality must be applied from outside. A moral framework must be accepted internally, even if it is supplied from the outside. I know “Good Catholics” who believe in divorce and remarriage, gay marriage, and priests being married – all ‘sins’ to the church. Atheism does not make people miserable. It frees them to enjoy the natural beauty of the world and the Universe, revel in the companionship of friends and family, and be proud of how much better they’ve made and left it all.

He seems to feel that he needs some kind of social and moral crutch. Most Atheists want to be left to their own devices. They have the strength of will and character to deal with life and reality on their own. Is he too stupid or lazy to formulate and apply his own moral code??

True Atheists simply do not see convincing evidence of the existence of God, or gods. They do not “choose” to be Atheist. Anyone who claims they do, or that someone else did, is mistaken and often an intentional liar.

Do you have children? Do you have a set of values? How do you pass them on? Do you even want to pass them on or do you want to just let the thousands of ancestors of yours who struggled to survive only for you to say, “eff it, my line is OUT”? (He wants me to continue to be Christian – and fruitful – simply to please my dead predecessors??!)

I have a set of values – Do unto others, as you would have others do unto you. – which is neither original, nor exclusive, to the Bible. Do the greatest good for the greatest number. I passed them on to my children, and now to our grandson – who received a small award in college for his assistance to others. I not only told them to aid and be kind to others. I showed them how, by doing it myself. From empirical observation, our practiced moral values are better than many ‘Good Christians.’

I certainly feel my/our moral values should be passed on. Some of my ancestors were deeply religious. Others were completely not, but I’m sure that all of them would agree and be proud of me and the good I do.

I hear you and agree with most of what you say, however, I don’t condemn all of Christianity because some people abuse it or make it look bad. But let me ask you this question, beyond those phrases like “do unto others” how do you guide someone to resolve complicated moral issues? Do you ever talk with your children about morals? Is that enough to lead a person through every moral quagmire he or she might face? Not in my view.

He doesn’t say why he feels that’s not enough. Perhaps I’m simplistic, but I do. Adultery is wrong – not necessarily a sin – but wrong. Her husband may beat her, or ignore her. That makes it more complicated, but that’s social, not moral. It’s still wrong. You wouldn’t want to be her husband, nor her to be your wife. You’re not doing unto others, nor the greatest good for the greatest number.

I grew up in an atheist household, and we had some discussion of morals but it was very infrequent. Until atheism offers me the discipline of continually working to be a good person, I decided I’m done with it. And given that atheists or secularists tend to not marry or have kids at nearly the rates of religious people, how do you expect your values to live on beyond a generation or two?

I don’t view life – or religion – as a contest to be won. I hope to influence my descendants, and society in general, by my example. I would not dare to attempt to impose my code on others. People who do that are called ISIS. I believe my opinion to be the best, but if it dies out after I do, that’s not my problem.

Unlike Religion, Atheism has no real structure. There is no Pope, no hierarchy, no Bible, no tenets, no dogma, no sin, and no handy rule-book with a ready-made list of acceptable actions. People have to work that out on their own. He makes no mention of belief in God, Jesus Christ, salvation, Heaven, or everlasting life. He just wants someone to hold his moral hand and lead him down the Holy Garden path. It’s like someone wanting to save the Earth from Global Warming, but buying a Hummer because it has cool wheels.

Hummer

Jim says

“The reason you returned to religion is self interest. That’s how it always is. Just because you failed to find a meaningful life outside of faith, you have joined the herd to find solace. I, and many like me, find complete satisfaction finding our own way in the world. You on the other hand, profess belief in something you don’t believe, to have community. That is hypocrisy and lacks integrity.

There is no meaning but what you make it. Searching for it inside of prearranged dogma is cheating yourself of possibilities. Spirituality comes in billions of options that are quite fulfilling outside the plug-and-play religions. It’s even true inside religion. Everyone just picks the parts they want to believe anyway. Your mind has now been hijacked by the herd.”

 

’19 A To Z Challenge – G

AtoZ2019

Letter GWhere did it all start to go wrong??! I blame it on reading Mad Magazine as an impressionable youngster. Mad satirized society, politics, entertainment, and much more. While it was full of silliness, it was still thinking man’s humor. When it achieved commercial success, it was quickly imitated by the likes of Cracked, and Eh magazines. Full of Adam Sandler-like fart jokes, they didn’t last long, and folded. Mad is still publishing after almost 70 years.

One of the ongoing humor bits, was the “translation” of foreign words and phrases.

Gott mit uns – I found my winter gloves
Deutschland uber alles – Alice got run over by a Volkswagen
Mare nostrum – Mary can’t play the guitar
Ad hoc – I had to pawn some of my stuff
Honi soit qui mal y pense – Honey, why did you spank Malcolm?
Sic transit gloria mundi – Gloria threw up on the bus, early this week

This brings us to the translation of this week’s foreign word – actually, a German name, which many local people carry

Gottschalk

Gottschalk – an elementary-school teacher 😉

I ran into this name in a book about people’s delusions. He was a medieval priest who helped raise an army of 100,000 men in Germany, to go on a crusade. Through poor preparation and planning, as well as internal strife, only a handful lived to even get as far as Constantinople, leaving a trail of death and destruction through several countries, including Hungary, with at least that many ‘civilians’ dead behind them.

Always interested in name values, I plugged it into Google Translate. I regret the fact that Dictionary.com can no longer afford to maintain their translation service. It was the best translator I’ve found. When I just enter ‘Google translate’ into the computer toolbar, I always get Bing Translate at the top of the page – terrible site – couldn’t translate a wish into an action.

For those of you who have never used Google Translate – I assume, most of you – when you begin typing text in, it immediately begins translation. I knew that ‘Gott’ equals ‘God,’ so I wasn’t surprised to see that quickly pop up. I thought that the compound word was possessive – Gotts chalk = God’s ?????, but the word ‘schalk’ has a meaning of its own.

As I continued to type in the S, C, H, A, L, suddenly the translation was God scarf, showing how the Anglo-Saxon word ‘schal’ became the English word ‘shawl.’ I typed in the final K, and got knave, rogue, instigator, troublemaker. For a busybody Christian, whose religious fervor was instrumental in causing the deaths of almost a quarter million people for no benefit, I find the name’s word value of ‘God’s little shit-disturber,’ painfully appropriate.

Don’t wait to stop back, Hoss, but if you do, I’ll have something for the letter H in two weeks. 😀

WOW #45

Moping Emoji

I was gonna do the post for this word earlier. I really was. It’s not procrastination. I was in a blue funk.  Even though blue is my favorite color, I just couldn’t seem to find a reason to tell you about

MOPERY

All the interesting words that I could come up with, and I managed to find one that means

Noun

The actions or attitude of a person who is sunk in dejection or listless apathy, sulking, brooding, or dejected

I thought that ‘listless’ meant that I wasn’t keeping up with my 2019 A To Z Challenge words, but I found that it just means ‘not interested’ or ‘indifferent.’ I don’t give a damn.

Then I found out that someone had opened a Papa John’s Pizza outlet, right down the hill from me. We really needed one. Within a two-block stretch we only had a Gino’s, Topper’s, Little Caesar’s, Domino’s, and Double-Double. I need a little variety in my life. The Pizza Hut, just up the street, closed some years ago, so I guess it’s karma that the second pizza chain that John started is now here to tingle my taste-buds.

pizza

An all-meat pizza with hot sauce, and I’m out of my funk, and back to Funk and Wagnall’s dictionary for my next WOW. See you there.

Book Review #18

Extraordinary Popular Delusions & the Madness of Crowds

Extraordinary Popular Delusions & The Madness Of Crowds

I am ticked off…. or rather, this book is ticked off the reading list challenge that I don’t follow.

It was originally published before I was born – more than a century before. It was first printed in 1841. The copy that I got on an inter-library loan was reprinted in 1980. It had 3 prefaces – the original, a slightly revised version when the author had it reprinted 30 years later, and yet another from the 1980 re-release.

The 1980 instigator was taking a University Psychology course, when he thought he heard the instructor speaking of an old book about The Madness Of Krauts. He didn’t realize that Germans were called Krauts, that far back. A check of the University library showed him his mistake, but since the copyright had long expired, he felt that he could make a little money by having it reprinted.

This book was a disappointment, yet also a delight to me. Even since the ‘70s, there have been great changes and improvements in psychiatry and psychology, but since I only knew of the 1980 publish date, I hoped to get some fairly up-to-date insights into mob behavior. The 1841 composer rendered none of that. He only provided recountings of historical events which were notable for mass delusion.

These included the likes of the monetary bubble, collapse of the Louisiana Investment scam/scandal, the sad failure of the earliest attempt at a German Crusade, and the ongoing hysteria of the witch hunts. While the historical details were interesting enough, he delivered them all with the long-winded panache of someone reciting a Life Insurance actuarial table.

With the German Crusade, 100,000 young men were said to have started out, but only a handful survived, even to reach Constantinople, because of fighting among themselves, and with the armies of states and countries they marched through and denuded for food and drink.

As usual, the section on the witch hunts provided the worst atrocities. It was both a Church and State viewpoint that, “Because of the seriousness of this offence, none who are accused of this horrid crime shall escape torture to make them confess their sins. It is better that a million shall die, than that one witch shall be allowed to escape.”

Even while trying to do good, the well-intentioned did bad. As the witch-hunt frenzy was ebbing, a minor member of British Nobility tried an experiment. He was unconvinced that torture-induced confessions, and especially the naming of other witches, was valid.

He was acquainted and friends with, two Jesuit priests who acted as judges at the torture trials. To convince them of his viewpoint, he used a woman accused and imprisoned as a witch. They all attended the torture chamber, and he acted as interrogator. He had the woman stretched on the rack, and afflicted with the gamut of horrible tortures. Within a day, she admitted that she was a witch. Skillfully using leading questions, he also had her claim that the two Jesuits were wizards, calling them by name.

As they left the building, leaving the poor woman to her undeserved fate, the senior priest said, “It is well that this was done by a friend, rather than by an enemy.” And so, the witch-hunt frenzy slowly died, but not before thousands of innocent people also suffered and died.

This book is old enough to display some of the some of the English language’s spelling shifts. Words like ‘showed’, and ‘shown’ were printed as shewed, and shewn. While it was not what I thought I was getting, still it was an interesting read.

Three – Two – One-liners

Comedy

When you’re down by the sea
and an eel bites your knee….
….that’s a moray

Life without music….
….would b Flat

Decaf coffee is depresso

Reading while sunbathing….
….makes you, well, red

I had a Wookie steak last night….
….It was a little Chewy

Don’t let anyone call you average….
….That’s just mean

Kleptomaniacs always take things….
….literally

Huge fight at the local seafood diner….
….battered fish everywhere

Last week my doctor told me that I was going deaf….
….I haven’t heard from him since

Try resistance training….
….Refuse to go to the gym.

Whenever I feel blue….
….I start breathing again

I named my IPod Titanic….
….It’s synching now

The four seasons are all different….
….Summer warmer than others

A book hit my head….
….and I’ve only my shelf to blame

Bad puns….
….That’s how eye roll

Looking back….
….I really hurt my neck

If you are in it up to your ears….
….keep your mouth shut

Police toilet stolen!….
….Cops have nothing to go on.

Shenanigans….
….because life is more fun when you’re up to something

Can’t get up to vote?….
….You may have electile dysfunction

Do people in Australia….
….call the rest of the world ‘Up Over?’

I can’t believe it’s been a year…
….since I didn’t become a better person

I don’t have a Fit-Bit….
….but I do have some fat bits

Flash Fiction #192

Mom

PHOTO PROMPT © Valerie J. Barrett

FIRST WORLD PROBLEMS

The more household chores I take on because of the wife’s medical situation, the more I am impressed and amazed at my dear, departed Mother.

Toilets won’t clean themselves. Unattended laundry will not voluntarily enter a washer. My mother ran a house without modern conveniences. Laundry water boiled in a big copper tub on a wood stove. The washing-machine had to be rolled out from a corner. A rinse tub filled with a pail.

Growing up, I thought I ‘did my share’ around the house. I now know that she let me off easy. A woman’s work is never done.

***

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

Friday Fictioneers