WOW #50

Dictionary

I recently ran into the word

ADVERTENCY

I bruised a couple of ribs, but I’ll be okay.

Advertency = advertence: The state of being advertent – aware, attentive, heedful, knowledgeable, perceptive

The modern (somewhat restricted) equivalent is “Woke.”

I have been somewhat covert (covered, concealed) in my production of another WOW. Some of you have been a bit overt (open to view, observable) in your expectations that I do, so I thought I’d introduce most of the bunch. The family name – VERT – comes from Latin, through the French, ouvrir-to open, into English. They all have something to do with showing, or seeing – or not.

With its negative prefix, avert means to prevent something from happening, so that the results are not seen. Similarly, invert means to display something, but upside-down. Evert means to turn something inside-out, and show the inner surface. With an opening syllable that means – in, at or to – advertising points your attention to the presentation of goods that retailers want you to be aware of, and purchase.

We move to psychology to meet the introverts, who keep most of their personalities hidden within themselves, and the extroverts, who fill any room they’re in with their outward glow and conversations. Then there are the members of the family that we usually don’t mention, pervert and subvert. They’re the guys who get to see stuff that they shouldn’t.

My advertency about the term advertency came from a science-fiction book. In it, one planet prided themselves about their citizens’ knowledge and understanding of what went on around them, so that they could make the most optimal, informed decisions. The giant University even taught a course on advertency – how to notice details, be informed, know what was going on.

It all comes down to making reasonable, informed decisions. This is what many Atheists wish that the religious hoi polloi would do. If you want to worship one particular God, or follow the tenets of a specific denomination or church, do it. Just be able to give a better justification, when asked, than, “I have faith.”

Canada and the U.S. – Hell, most of the world – could use a University that teaches advertency. I notice far more things than the average Joe, but I could still use some training in how to do more.

I come over a rise, driving in the curb lane. A block ahead is a bus. I know that it will stop and block my lane, so I move out. The guy behind me now rushes up beside me, almost rear-ends the bus when it stops, and almost sideswipes me, trying to go around at the last minute. Too many drivers ‘drive’ no further ahead than their hood ornament.

If we could just raise the average awareness of citizens, then the uninformed, unaware, extrovert leaders like Donald Trump, Justin Trudeau, and Boris Johnson wouldn’t get re-elected. Probably won’t happen though. Jay Leno used to air a segment titled Americans Are Dumb, And Proud Of It! I continue to hope, though. Were you aware of that?   😕

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I’ve Never Herd Of Smith

People Named Smith
H. Allen Smith once wrote a book titled People Named Smith. This was a financial move on his part, as he knew that if only five percent of the Smiths in the United States bought the book, he would be able to retire rich. Unfortunately, he discovered that “almost everyone named Smith is either (1) stingy, or (2) illiterate, or (3) both.”

He did this because Mark Twain had shown him how. Twain claimed that he had met a John Smith in every town he had ever been in, and cynically dedicated his first novel to “John Smith,” claiming that people who have a book dedicated to them, will purchase a copy of it.

Captain John Smith was an explorer of note, and an island he discovered near Cape Charles was named “Smith Island” after him. However, Captain Smith wasn’t happy with the island chosen to honor him, and he complained, “Why, I could spit across it.”

The book is mainly about names, and not all of them were of people named Smith. He once met an imposing man, when invited on a cruise on a yacht in the Caribbean. Not impressed with the commonness of his name, Smith, he declared, “A man’s name is a mere label – nothing else – and has no more meaning than the label on a can.

The gentleman disagreed, and introduced himself. He was Theron Lamar Caudle, the assistant Attorney-General of the United States. His name was all old Anglo-Saxon, and represented a complete sentence. Theron means ‘go seek.’ Lamar means ‘the sea,’ and Caudle is a ‘hot toddy.’ Translated literally, it means, “Go seek a hot toddy by the sea,” and here he was, with a drink in his hand, on a boat, in the Caribbean.

People afflicted with the last name Smith, sometimes go to lengths to have a first name of some significance which sets them apart from all the other multitudes of Smiths. Labels are important to many, although one Appalachian mother cared so little that she insisted to the interviewer, that the official names of her two kids, on the ‘Guv’mint papers, really was Shithead and Fartface Smith.’

One child was named 5/8 Smith. I don’t know if he was the runt of the litter, or maybe, just not all there. One father christened his son Smith, so that he went through life with the double-barreled name of Smith Smith. A photographer, whose work appeared in newspapers and magazines, legally changed his given name to Another, because he was tired of hearing, “Oh, another Smith.”

One day the author was speaking to a writer friend. They discussed some personal things, and then he said, “What are you working on these days?”
“I’m collaborating on a book.”
“With whom?”
“Man named Ira Smith.”
“You serious??”
“Certainly I’m serious.”
He said, “My God, that’s exactly what I’m doing.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean that I’m collaborating on a book with a man named Ira Smith.”

It was true. The other writer was working on the memoirs of Ira R. T. Smith, who for 51 years had been in charge of mail at the White House. At the same time, H. Allen Smith had been working on a book of baseball anecdotes with Ira L. Smith, a Washington journalist.

Ira wouldn’t seem to be an especially common first name, yet Ira L. had had his share of confusions. He was forever getting newspaper clippings from friends;
Ira Smith caught drunk driving in Georgia
Ira Smith an upstate New York cabbie, kidnapped, robbed, tied to a tree, and murdered
Ira L. Smith, a retired Virginia lumberman, dying at the age of 91

He even had a newspaper ad which said;

FOOL your friends. Pretend you are in San Francisco
3 postcards sent 25 cents (20-$1) You write
message, address, return. I remail in San Francisco
Letter mailed 15 cents. Your friends will think
you’re travelling. Ira Smith, 153 Liberty St., San
Francisco, Calif.

The middle name of our Ira L. Smith was Lepouce, his mother’s Belgian maiden name, meaning ‘the thumb’. He was once under consideration for a great job in Washington, but a senior executive named Smith, didn’t want him hired. There were already too many Smiths in the office, and he didn’t want another one messing up phone calls and mail.

Ira went to the man, and offered to apply his middle name to all phone calls and correspondence. The exec replied, “Anyone who would permit himself to be called I. Lepouce Smith in order to get a job must want that job pretty badly. You’re hired.”

The author mentions a situation called Ultra-Smith, where one Smith marries another. My sister did this, confusing all sorts of folks. As you climb down from the family tree, EVERYBODY is named Smith.

(* I have a framed reproduction of a Feb. 13, 1923 Saturday Evening Post cover, with a Norman Rockwell painting and an article about Wodehouse’s recent Psmith book, which refused to upload to WordPress.  It, and a mug with his name, Cyril, were all I got from the nursing home when my Father died.  I didn’t even know he had it.  Perhaps if/when I figure out the problem, I can display it in a later post.)

In England, we have the interesting case of Mr. Psmith, a dashing young character invented by P. G. Wodehouse. In the novel Leave It to Psmith, we find him engaged in a colloquy with a young woman.

“The name is Psmith, P-smith.”
“Peasmith, sir?”
“No, no. P-s-m-i-t-h. I should explain to you that I started life without the initial letter, and my father always clung ruggedly to the plain Smith. But it seemed to me that there were so many Smiths in the world that a little variety might well be introduced. Smythe I look on as a cowardly evasion, nor do I approve of the too prevalent custom of tacking on another name on the front by means of a hyphen. So I decided to adopt the Psmith. The P, I should add for your guidance, is silent, as in phthisis, psychic, and ptarmigan. You follow me?

This Smith book was written in 1952, which explains the ancient, minuscule postage fees, and the somewhat formal construction. Aside from the P-ed off words above, the author used ‘expatiate,’ which means, to enlarge in discourse or writing; be copious in description or discussion: ramble on and on – which I’ve done magnificently with this post. Thanx for rambling along with me, and some of my questionable namesakes.

Forgive Me Father, For I Have Joked

confession-box

There is the story of a pastor who got up one Sunday and announced to his congregation: “I have good news and bad news. The good news is, we have enough money to pay for our new building program.

The bad news is, it’s still out there in your pockets.”

—–

A minister waited in line to have his car filled with gas just before a long holiday weekend. The attendant worked quickly, but there were many cars ahead of him. Finally, the attendant motioned him toward a vacant pump. “Reverend,” said the young man, “I’m so sorry about the delay. It seems as if everyone waits until the last minute to get ready for a long trip.”

The minister chuckled, “I know what you mean. It’s the same in my business.”

—–

People want the front of the bus, the back of the church, and the center of attention.

—–

The minister was preoccupied with thoughts of how he was going to ask the congregation to come up with more money than they were expecting for repairs to the church building. Therefore, he was annoyed to find that the regular organist was sick and a substitute had been brought in at the last minute. The substitute wanted to know what to play.

“Here’s a copy of the service,” he said impatiently “But, you’ll have to think of something to play after I make the announcement about the finances.”

During the service, the minister paused and said, “Brothers and Sisters, we are in great difficulty; the roof repairs cost twice as much as we expected and we need $4,000 more. Any of you who can pledge $100 or more, please stand up.”

At that moment, the substitute organist played “The Star Spangled Banner.”

And that is how the substitute became the regular organist!

___

 

A carful of Irish nuns are sitting at a traffic light in downtown Dublin, when a bunch of rowdy drunks pull up alongside of them. “Hey, show us yer teets, ya bloody penguins!” shouts one of the drunks.

Quite shocked, Mother Superior turns to Sister Mary Immaculata and says, “I don’t think they know who we are; show them your cross.”

Sister Mary Immaculata rolls down her window and shouts, “Piss off, ya fookin’ little wankers, before I come over there and rip yer balls off!”

Sister Mary Immaculata then rolls up her window, looks back at Mother Superior, quite innocently, and asks, “Did that sound cross enough?”

***

A German Shepherd, a Doberman and a Cat died. (Notice no type of cat was named!)

In heaven, all three faced God.
God wanted to know what each of them believed in.

The German Shepherd said, “I believe in discipline, training, and loyalty to my master.”

“Very good”, said God. “You may sit at my right hand!”
And so the German Shepherd did.

The Doberman approached and declared, “I believe in the love, care and protection of my master.”
Once again, God proclaimed, “Very good! You may sit at my left hand!”
And so the Doberman did.

Finally, the Cat approached and God looked down from high above on his throne and inquired of the Cat, “And what do you believe in?”

The Cat looked squarely at God and replied, “I believe you are sitting in my seat!”

___

 

The Whichness Of The Why

Rene DesCartes

Philosophers have nothing to say, but will take all day (or all of their lives) to say it.

In my ongoing attempts to get psychological explanations for why people – often Christians, but also Atheists – believe what they do, I kept running into philosophers. I thought that Philosophers were deep-thinkers, who used the power of their intellect to uncover important social revelations.

The more I read though, the more I realized that this was not so. One of them, like René Descartes (above) might make a significant claim, like; “Cogito ergo sum – I think, therefore I am” then the rest of them would discuss and debate it. If only one Philosopher contended a theory, it was like mental masturbation. If a group of them worried it like a dog with a bone, it was more like a circle-jerk. It made them all feel good, without actually accomplishing anything.

Often, no-one really proved anything. They just kept arguing with one another until observed facts finally showed one of them to be the closest guesser. Then folks would congratulate him as if he’d discovered something.

Even the winner of a debate, or series of debates, did not reveal, or prove, any particular truth. The champion became the victor by looking the best, yelling the loudest, and waving his hands the most. One Philosopher had a mortal enemy, another debater. There was only one subject about which the two agreed. Mr. Ego challenged his opponent to a debate, and took the ‘anti’ side. He won the debate by disproving an opinion that he held.

Despite the fact that colleges and Universities teach Philosophy, we have no Philosophers any more. What we have today are authors, bloggers, podcasters, and Christian Apologetics. All of them are full of strongly-held opinions, but if you laid them all end-to-end, they wouldn’t reach a valid conclusion.

Gilileo Goes To Jail

Case in point, a book that I recently read, titled Galileo Goes To Jail, 25 myths about Science and Religion. Seldom have I seen hairs split so finely, with no purpose other than to make the contributors appear learned and impressive. All 25 writers tiptoed through the minefield of truth and logic, but I felt the worst among them was the jackass who set out to prove that

Giordano Bruno Was Not The First Martyr Of Modern Science

Now, the first of anything is going to look different from what has gone before. This genius wanted to play the “Own The Definition” game. He started by claiming that Bruno was not a scientist, or was not teaching science. Of course not! Back then, the words, the definitions, the very concepts of “science” and “scientist” did not exist. Everything was Natural Philosophy.

‘Science’ did not exist, and Bruno wasn’t ‘teaching’ it. He did however publicly express and debate his opinions and conclusions about reality. He openly held Galileo’s position, that the Earth moved, and the sun didn’t, contrary to the Church’s dogma of a fixed and unmoving Earth. His claims were heresy to The Holy Catholic Church, which owned the definition of heresy.

Heresy they might have been, but as the equivalents of modern Astronomy, Astrophysics, and Mathematics, they were a Hell of a lot more like science than say, if the Pope might not be infallible, God did not exist in three parts, or we had to eat fish on Friday.

I try not to be hidebound in my opinions, and not get caught in confirmation bias. I invite, and delight in, discussion and debate about anything I publish. If you prove me wrong about any claim I make, I will accept defeat Philosophically. 😉

***

Oops, I left a link to a 1949 Sci-Fi story at the end of this draft.  Rather than delete it –  anybody want to access and read it??

Edmond Hamilton – Alien Earth

https://archive.org/details/Thrilling_Wonder_Stories_v34n01_1949-04/page/n51

 

’19 A To Z Challenge – L

AtoZ2019letter-l

 

 

 

 

 

 

Superstition

And superstition rears its ugly head again. Closed-minded tribalism makes too many of humanity fear anything different. Destroy it! Destroy it! It is the Devil’s work! 😯

This post takes for its theme, the word

LANUGO

Noun; a coat of delicate, downy hairs, especially that with which the human fetus or a newborn infant is covered.

A few times (far too few), Bible-thumping Christian Fundamentalists have changed their minds about LGBT+, when they realized that their child was gay, but not evil and sinful. One Southern Methodist preacher had three of his four children (two sons, and his daughter) go gay on him.

It is regrettable that extreme cases of lanugos are not more common. It might educate the evolution-denying, Young Earth Creationists, to have a baby that looked like a Bonobo pop out. It would clearly show that we are related to monkeys – although the monkeys might object.

Lanugo

While the occasional baby has a thick enough coat of fur to look like a chimp, it falls off within days, or a week, leaving a pink, squalling, naked ape. While not afflicted with an actual lanugo, my son’s enate Italian heritage gave him considerable heavy body hair at birth – arms, legs, shoulders, back. He looked like a miniature, stereotypical Guido. He had a full head of black hair the day he was born. Old wives’ tales say that it causes the mother heartburn. He got his first haircut at age three months.

I’m not sure, even in today’s society, what reaction a lanugo baby might receive from narrow-minded ‘Good Christian’ parents. Another similar religiously-connected word is

Caul

Noun; a part of the amnion sometimes covering the head of a child at birth.

It’s merely a bit of internal tissue, but superstitious peasants used to believe that it was a sign that the baby was owned or possessed by Satan. Such children were strangled, smothered, drowned, or stabbed at birth, or even worse, exposed to the elements to die, like the Athenians used to do.

The Christian portion of the world is getting better – moving forward into the discoveries of how the Universe works, but the Evangelicals don’t understand why large portions of the population – Good Christians, as well as Atheists – want to maintain separation of Church and State, and prevent being dragged back into the Dark Ages of superstition.

Now, if only we could get the Islamic portion to do the same.

Sorry if this was a bit of a downer. Comedy next Monday – bring your biggest smile.

Laughing Face

IS ATHEISM A RELIGION?

Religions

‘Theism’ means ‘belief in a god or gods’. Believers usually sign up to the values and principles of a godly belief system: it’s an ideology. Theistic ideologies are commonly known as faiths or religions. Many ideologies have the suffix ‘ism’; for example, liberalism, socialism, and communism but, in the case of ‘atheism’, the ‘ism’ ending has merely been inherited from its root: ‘theism’. The prefix ‘a’ turns the meaning around to the negative, that is, ‘not a belief in a god’, so ‘atheism’ is as far from a faith or religion as it’s possible to get.

Atheism is not a belief system, so that should end this article right here, but theists will likely not be satisfied. They might point to the things atheists and religions have in common: religions form churches, atheists form associations; churches and atheist associations appoint members to formal roles such as bishop and president; church members give offerings, atheists pay subscriptions; churches hold services, atheist hold meetings. Churches and Atheists both have literature they value and people they admire.

The problem is, these are superficial similarities and if they make Atheism a religion, they make political parties and table tennis clubs religions too. That is obviously absurd.

There is one organization in the United States which makes it their job to decide which group is a religion and which is not, and that’s The Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Religions receive highly favorable treatment in the USA and the IRS wants to avoid giving these advantages to organizations that are not genuine religions. So the IRS has a set of criteria they apply to any group claiming to be a religion. The primary criteria are listed below with how Atheist groups qualify [shown in parenthesis].

  1. Distinct legal existence [Some Atheist groups are legal entities.]
  2. Recognized creed and form of worship [No creed or forms of worship.]
  3. Definite and distinct ecclesiastical government [No ecclesiastical governance.]
  4. Formal code of doctrine and discipline [No doctrine.]
  5. Distinct religious history [No religious history.]
  6. Membership not associated with any other church or denomination [Atheists may join any number of atheist groups.]
  7. Organization of ordained ministers [No ministers of any kind.]
  8. Ordained ministers selected after completing prescribed courses of study [No courses of study.]
  9. Literature of its own [No literature reserved for one group.]
  10. Established places of worship [No worship.]
  11. Regular religious services [No religious services.]
  12. Sunday schools for the religious instruction of the young [No instructing the young.]
  13. Schools for the preparation of its members [No atheist schools.]

With only one criterion applicable to Atheists (and that one all political parties and many clubs share), the IRS won’t be granting religious tax exemptions to Atheist groups any time soon.

Theists might follow-up by asking why Atheists bother to meet to talk about gods they do not believe in. There are several reasons atheists meet but none of them are to talk about gods they don’t believe in. A common reason, especially in very religious countries, is to find some time to socialize with like-minded people who are not preoccupied with religious beliefs.

In many cases, atheists meet as a reaction against religious intolerance, the infiltration of religious dogma into schools and legislation, or the entanglement of church and state. They meet to get organized in an attempt to combat these religious excesses.

Let’s spell this out; Atheists have no beliefs in common, no gods of any kind, nothing they worship, no scripture, no shared values, and no dogma. They have no clergy, no schools, and no sacred buildings. The only thing all Atheists share is a lack of belief in gods.

Why then do the religious so often claim that Atheism is a religion? I don’t know, you’ll have to ask religious people that question. Perhaps it is to try to establish a false equivalency, an attempt to drag Atheism down to the level of a religion—a set of unsubstantiated beliefs, in a landscape where beliefs are held only on faith. If so, they would be completely wrong about that too. 😯

 

The Day I Almost Went Over Niagara Falls

Niagara

Dear (un-named deity), how did I ever survive childhood, to become the Grumpy Old Dude that I am today??

Early in the 1960s, my Father took our family to Niagara Falls. We rented a little cabin in the village of Chippewa, 5 miles above the Falls. I don’t know what it’s like there now, but back then you could stroll along the Canadian-side bank of the river, like a continuous park. Having been told of a picturesque picnic area, one day we set off downstream to take advantage of it.

If I was 6 or 7 years old, my brother was 3 or 4, and my Mother was busy holding or carrying him. Dad was laden with a box, full of food and drink, and I wandered along behind them. About halfway to our destination, there was a gnarly tree, growing out of the bank at a 45 degree angle, out over the river.

Someone had tied a rope to a branch, and a group of 13/14 year old boys were using it to swing out, and splash into the river. One lad would climb/walk up into the tree, and flick the end of the rope up to his compatriots. One by one they’d launch themselves, swim back, and one of them would take the spot in the tree.

I had a tree at home. It had a rope in it. I liked trees. I liked ropes. I liked swinging. 😯 When all had plunged into the river, I asked the kid in the tree if I could swing from the rope. Sure! And he flicked the end up to me.

I launched myself off the 8-foot high bank, and enjoyed a magnificent swing. I didn’t learn to swim until I was 14. When I reached the extent of the outward swing, I realized that I couldn’t let go – a little late! Holding on for dear life I swung back in, but the arc of the inward swing is never as long as the outward one, and it was nowhere near long enough to put me back up on that bank.

Actually, the point nearest the bank would have been the best time to let go. I’d have smacked into the clay and rock, and would have been able to scramble up the bank, dry and safe, but my Grade 1 brain was busy trying to figure out the physics of this whole thing.

Back out I swung. These guys wanted their rope back, and were shouting, “Let go! Let go!” Once more I swung back inward, this time again the arc becoming much shorter. As I reached the inner apogee – right or wrong – I let go…. and splashed down three feet from dry land.

I was used to a well-mannered Lake Huron, where you could walk out 100 feet before it got chest deep. In this river, three feet out put me in chin-deep water. Still, I scrambled out, and rejoined my family. If either parent noticed that my shoes, shorts and tee-shirt were drenched, neither of them mentioned it. Only later did I realize that I could have climbed up the rope, and down the tree, safely. At the time, I was a bit too busy to think of that. What do you think?? A young fool became an old one??  😕