Flash Fiction #250

PHOTO PROMPT © Roger Bultot

THE LONG, SLOW CLIMB

When is a Starbucks not a Starbucks?  When it’s right across the street from the city hall, but in a building that’s designated Historic, on which they can’t hang any exterior signs.

He’d studied welding in Community College, till he found out about clothing fires, toxic fumes, and blindness from ‘welders’ eye.’  Waiting for his barista betrothed, he was soon as adept as any employee, and was quickly hired, himself.

COVID slashed their hours and income in half, but it did give him free time to study online, as a Civil Engineer.  Education is the best way up and out.

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

Be Good – For Goodness Sake

Stupid – or Stubborn??!  Your call.

Many Christian Apologists, arguing against evolution, deny Darwinism because they believe that it supports a ‘Might Is Right’ stance that doesn’t fit with the ‘God Is Love’ picture that they like to paint.
Seems that the tribes out hunting game, making weapons of war, and raping their neighbors ought to have a genetic leg-up on those singing and dancing to their “gods” around the campfire.

Be Nice – Your Species Will Last Longer

If you’d like another opinion on why to be nice, click here.  https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/185318256/posts/294

British naturalist, Charles Darwin got it right, but a lot of Apologists get it wrong.  Most people assume that Darwin was talking about physical strength when referring to “Survival of the Fittest,” meaning that a tougher, more resilient species will win out over its weaker counterparts.  But what if he didn’t mean that at all??!

He said, “It is not the strongest, or the most intelligent who will survive, but those who can best manage change.”  Charles Darwin

Scientists Brian Hare and Vanessa Woods, both researchers at Duke University’s Center for Cognitive Neuroscience, believe something else has been at work among species that have thrived throughout history, successfully reproducing to sustain themselves, and it has nothing to do with beating up the competition.

Their new book, Survival of the Friendliest: Understanding Our Origins and Rediscovering Our Common Humanity, posits that friendly partnerships among species and shared humanity have worked throughout centuries to ensure successful evolution.

Species endure – humans, other animals, and plants – based on friendliness, partnership, and communication.  People think of it as strong, alpha males who deserve to win.  That’s not what Darwin suggested, or what has been demonstrated.  The most successful strategy in life is friendliness and co-operation.  We (some of us) see that, again and again.

The first question a recent caller to an Atheist podcast had was, “Who took care of the first babies?”  When the answer was, “Their mothers took care of them.” he just laughed and said, “Yeah, right, but who took care of the first babies??”  The host explained that hominids and most other mammals, as well as most birds, and some reptiles, tend and rear their young.  “But a baby can’t even wipe its own butt.  Who took care of them?

After almost five minutes of this “Who’s On First” routine, I realized that, for his understanding of Evolution to be true, at some specific point in time, some or all ape mothers stopped giving birth to baby apes, and started giving birth to baby humans. (Not that there’s that much difference)  The answer is still the same.  Their mothers took care of them.  Has he never read “Tarzan the Ape Man?”  Probably only the comic book version.

When it became clear that neither side understood what the other was saying, he took off in another direction.  Do you believe in DNA?  Of course we believe in DNA.  Well, DNA is a code, and if you have a code, then there must be a code-maker, and that has to be God. DNA is not a code in the way you are referring to it.  Well then, you must believe that fully-formed adult humans just crawled out of a pool of DNA.

It was at this point that the hosts decided that he must be an internet troll, because nobody could be this stupid and uninformed of scientific theories and facts.  I think that they gave him WAYYY too much benefit of the doubt.  The current state of education, especially in the US, and particularly among the willfully ignorant Christian Apologists, means that people like this are far too common.

Despite not knowing what they’re talking about, there is NOTHING that they won’t seize, and present as a gotcha ‘proof’.  One recent unintentional comedian claimed that the head is the home of our intelligence and our spirit, which we use to “know,” and ‘worship’ God.  We are born head-first…. Therefore GOD exists.  😕

Since almost all mammals are born head-first, as well as many birds and reptiles (pecking their way out of their shell), I wonder if he means – and is okay with – hippos and wombats and tortoises, “knowing and worshipping God.”

I am G.O.D. and I can prove that I exist.  I expect a little more worship from you in a couple of days.  Blessed is he who likes and follows.

I’ll Drink To One-Liners

I always take life with a grain of salt….
….And some lemon – and tequila.

The French have actually developed a COVID19 vaccine….
….But it’s refusing to work.

A newborn Blue Whale is the second biggest baby in the world….
….Right after people complaining about having to wear masks

Someone tried to tell me a COVID joke….
….But they were wearing a mask and I didn’t catch it.

I wanted to tell you a COVID joke….
….But you’d just spread it around.

The last thing I want to do is hurt you….
….But it’s still on the list

The problem isn’t that obesity runs in my family….
….It’s that nobody runs in my family.

Maybe if we told people that their brain is an app…
….They’d want to start using it

I got a new pair of gloves, but they’re both ‘Lefts’….
….On one hand, that’s great, but on the other it’s just not right.

I just got kicked out of a secret cooking society….
….I spilled the beans.

6:30 is the best time on a clock….
….Hands down

I got fired from my job as a set designer….
….I left without making a scene

A dung beetle walks into a bar….
….And asks, “Is this stool taken?”

My friend tried to explain electricity to me….
….I said ‘Watt’?

Are people born with photographic memories….
….Or does it take time to develop?

The World Champion Tongue-Twister got arrested….
….I hear they’re going to give him a tough sentence

Pollen is what happens….
….When flowers can’t keep it in their plants.

Communist jokes aren’t funny….
….Unless everybody gets them.

Geology rocks….
….But geography’s where it’s at

I buy all my guns from a guy called T-Rex….
….He’s a small-arms dealer

My friend’s bakery burned down last week….
….Now his business is toast

If you don’t pay your exorcist….
….Do you get repossessed?

When the cannibal showed up late at the buffet….
….They gave him the cold shoulder

Fighting for peace….
….Is like screwing for virginity

A ghost walked into a bar and ordered a shot of vodka….
….The bartender said, “We don’t serve spirits here.”

A blind man walks into a bar….
….and a chair….and a table

The first time I got a universal remote control, I thought….
….This changes everything

I saw a sign yesterday that said, “Watch for children”….
….I thought, “That’s a fair trade.”

Whiteboards….
….Are remarkable

I’m Philosophical About It

Bias And Presupposition

Like the student who was asked by his English teacher if he would begin stacking firewood in the middle of a pile, many people, (especially Christian Apologists) who believe that they are deep thinkers, unwittingly start in the middle of an argument.

A young writer who considered himself to be a (at least developing) philosopher, posed the following questions.  While innocent-enough looking, they are fraught with assumptions and beliefs.
What is the nature of the universe?

What is man’s place in the universe?
What is good and what is evil?
What is the nature of God?
What is fate and what is free will?
What is soul and what is immorality?
What is the order of man and state?
What is education?
What is mind and matter?
What is ideas and what is thinking?

What Is The Nature Of The Universe?

The Universe has no “Nature!”  It is a brute fact which each of us must endure in our own ways.  It is supremely indifferent and insensible to the wants and needs of any person, in the same way that we are unaware and uncaring of a red blood cell in our veins – more so, because we at least can become aware of a drop of blood, while the Universe sails serenely on, completely unaffected and unaltered, despite our actions.  There is no intrinsic purpose or meaning to the Universe.  Any ‘meaning’ is only one which each of us imbues it with.

All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players!

What is Man’s Place in the Universe?

Here is the first place where the presuppositions become obvious.  There is no Cosmic airline hostess to escort us to our preordained seat, from which we may not move.  People who ask questions like this often assume that our place will be in First Class, when in fact, we are lucky to get a spot in coach, and not be stuck in the Baggage compartment.

‘My place’ in the Universe is in front of my computer, trying to understand people’s thoughts and actions.  Your ‘place’ will probably be somewhere else.  Each (wo)man’s place, and each group of (wo)men’s place, is wherever we strive and succeed in making it.

What is good, and what is evil?

Good and evil are imaginary concepts, dreamed up by people who want to feel good about themselves, their lifestyle and their choices.  What they do is good – what you do is evil.  I have even had self-righteous folks who admit that “you” did good things, but you did them for the wrong reasons.

Good is what is beneficial to me, and evil is anything which causes me loss or pain.  This definition applies to everyone, so there are countless definitions of “Good” and “Evil.”  The only commonality is when evolution-caused empathy makes it apply to larger and larger groups of people.

Hitler did not think that he was doing evil when he invaded Poland, or executed Jews and Gypsies.  He was trying to improve the standard of living for him, and his German people.  The victors write the History.  Aside from becoming psychopathic about it, his main problem was that his field of empathy was not wide enough.

What is the nature of God?

This is another assumption, like the one above, of the nature of the Universe.  At least the Universe can be observed.  First, prove that God is real, then we’ll discuss/argue His nature.  Either He does not exist, or He is the winner of the longest game of Hide And Seek ever.  The Old Testament portrays Him as a vicious, vengeful, spiteful, capricious, contradictory, ill-focused, incoherent, destructive old man, while the New Testament shows Him as a petulant child.

What is Fate, and what is free will?

Fate is the delusional excuse that ‘believers’ of all stripes give to the evidence that the Universe is supremely indifferent to them.  It is almost always applied negatively.  If they win a lottery, it’s egotistic entitlement.  If they lose – “I guess it’s just Fate.”  Call it fate, luck, karma, God, Satan – they all operate at the exact frequency as blind, random chance.

If God exists, free will is another delusion that does not, and cannot exist.  God knows the future, and there is no deviation from His perfect plan.  If God does not exist, free will looks a lot like this.

What is the soul, and what is immorality?

The soul is another imaginary assumption.  There have been a number of, both scientific and non-scientific, studies searching for it, and the results have been universally negative.  If it is anything different from ‘consciousness’ (which is another big, not-completely-understood phenomenon), no-one has been able to demonstrate it.

Like ‘Good’ and ‘Evil’ above, morality/immorality are subjective, man-made concepts, invented by power-hungry religious leaders, anxious to have and hold control over their obedient followers.  What is moral now, was not moral then.  What is moral here, is not moral there.

What is the order of man and state?

What is the meaning of this question?  These deep, ‘philosophical’ concepts are deteriorating into chaos and confusion.

Man came first, and when groups of men became numerous enough, they invented the concept of ‘state.’  Is he asking if the individual man should be more important than the state?  Clear, concise communication should be the first order of business.

What is education?

Why does he ask?  Did he not receive enough to know?  Does this person, who wishes to discuss philosophy, not have a good enough grasp of language to do so?

The act or process of imparting or acquiring general knowledge, developing the powers of reasoning and judgment, and generally of preparing oneself or others intellectually for mature life.  Modern usage generally assumes the transmission (or guidance of transmission) of knowledge from one person to another, but there are those who ‘educate’ themselves – known as autodidactics.

What is mind and matter?

If you don’t mind, then it doesn’t matter.

The mind is a delusion of self.  It is the mostly non-physical, bio-electrical, neurological process of the physical brain.

Matter is also an illusion, and a delusion.  While it looks and feels solid and strong, it is really 99.999% empty space.  Infinitesimal particles group together to form, what used to be called, The Basic Building Blocks – protons, electrons and neutrons.  Different numbers of protons dance around each other to form atomic nuclei.  Different numbers of electrons orbit around these nuclei at relative distances that make the Sun and Pluto look like close friends.

Despite the apparent distance, the electrons whirl around the center so fast that, no matter what side other atoms approach from, the electrons are ‘always there,’ shunting them away.  Various atoms get together to form molecules, but even there, they are none too cosy, leaving a lot more empty space.

Different numbers and arrangements of particles and atoms give different pieces of matter different feels, looks, and properties – but they are all made up of the same basic little bits.  What are these basic bits made up of, you ask?  Tune in to the TED Talk next week, when the smartest scientist in the world says, “Beats the Hell outta me!  We’re still trying to figure that out.”

What are ideas, and what is thinking?

I have no idea, and I was thinking that someone should have checked with a dictionary, which says that IDEAS are:

any conception existing in the mind as a result of mental understanding, awareness, or activity.
a thought, conception, or notion
an impression
an opinion, view, or belief

Thinking is:

Having a conscious mind, to some extent of reasoning, remembering experiences, making rational decisions, etc.
Employing one’s mind rationally and objectively in evaluating or dealing with a given situation

Ideas are formed in the mind by the process of thinking, which is the action of electrons running around in the brain’s neurons, and leaping the synapses between them.  Serious, professional scientists are still studying the brain and the mind, but despite considerable investigation, are still not entirely sure how it all works.

If our amateur philosopher wanted to credit a God for this, or any part of the above, no indication, much less proof, has ever been found.  If he wanted deeper or broader information, his communication skills appear lacking.  He seems to have ended up right where he started – in the middle, and in a muddle.

Flash Fiction #240

PHOTO PROMPT © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

IMPRISONED INTELLIGENCE

In 1960s America, civil rights was still just a dream for many.  What should have been an inalienable right – Voting – sometimes had conditions.  Negroes had to Prove they were educated, Prove that they were intelligent enough to vote.

A Negro in Alabama approached a polling station.  A redneck Cracker handed him a copy of the Hebrew Times to read.  When he couldn’t, he was given a sheet of waxed paper and a ballpoint pen, and told to write his name.

When he failed that several times, he said, “I just don’t understand it.  I could read and write this morning.”   😯

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

Flash Fiction #239

PHOTO PROMPT © J Hardy Carroll

THE MISTAKES OF OTHERS

He tried to raise his head from the floor, but someone had turned the gravity up.  He’d just lie here and ask Whatzizname, the jock, for assistance.  Whatzizname??!  What was his name?  This was silly.  He just got a bank statement….  Happy birthday to you.  Happy birthday to you.  Happy birthday dear…. Jerry.  Yeah, that was it – Jerry.

He vaguely recalled a frat-party that included beer-pong and tequila shooters.  He also remembered some nice man…. Dad – telling him to concentrate on his university studies, and not attend such bashes.  Right, Dad – when the bleeding in his eyes cleared up.

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

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I credit 1950s/60s comedian, Shelly Berman with the inspiration for this cautionary tale.  Click here if you’d like to hear some classic comedy about The Morning After The Night Before.

’20 A To Z Challenge – O

 

I took my new bifocals out for a test drive, and felt that I’d found the perfect word to describe me.  I thought someone said that I was an ‘Oopsy-Mess.’  When I cleaned the dryer lint off the lenses, I found that I had to look up the word

OPSIMATH

A person who learns late in life
Greek
opse = late
math = learn

We should ALL be opsimaths, all except you young bucks.  Learning should be a life-long ambition and objective.  Some folks stop learning when they graduate high school, or college.  Many of them go on to become managers at McDonald’s or Domino’s, although at least one of them got elected as President of the United States.  Some voters never learn.  😳

I could go on (and on) about this, but I’ve learned to, Be Brief – Be Bright – Begone.  Are you still learning stuff to advance you in your job, or to get you a better one?  Are you still learning things, just for the joy of knowledge?  I would have been a professional scholar, if I’d just been able to find a sponsor.

Potlicker

Potlicker

From my random knowledge post about ‘Boudin’, a rustic French sausage, I want to tell you about a real-life potlicker.

‘a poor person, often uncouth and uneducated’
Dialect. A worthless or disgusting person or animal.

A small but prestigious College in the United States had a professor retire.  The Dean and his staff set out to find a suitable replacement.  The final choice(s) came down to two men.  On paper, they looked exactly evenly matched, the same amount of education, the same amount of quality experience.  Both had sterling references.

“On paper” and “in person,” are not the same thing.  It was decided to invite each of them out for dinner with the small selection committee, to see how well they fit in on a personal basis.  Each was taken to a lovely, up-scale steakhouse.

The meeting with the first one went well…. until the main course was finished, and the applicant picked up, and licked his plate clean.  Glances were cast, and he was assured that, “We’ll be in touch.”  The choice seemed obvious, but, it was felt that the second contender should, at least, be looked at in the same social situation.

Again, all went well until the end of the meal.  When he was asked if he had any questions about things that they hadn’t covered, the only thing he wanted to know was, what the College’s policy was on professors dating students.

In the car, on the way back to the College, it seemed unanimous that, “I guess that it’s the plate-licker then.”  You can teach a rube some table manners, but it’s dangerous to have a sexual predator on campus, especially one dumb enough to advertise his intentions.  😯

Why They Don’t Speak English

Stunned Emoji

Why do you study English??! We all speak it.   😳

The lights are on, but there’s nobody home.
The wheel isn’t turning. The hamster is dead.

Once upon a time, on a sunny September afternoon in 1958, I sat in a high school English class. We were studying Shakespeare’s ‘Merchant of Venice.’ The teacher had just read a passage, which included the phrase, “By dark and divers ways.”

The SCUBA diving system was a relatively recent invention, having only been patented by Jacques Cousteau 15 years earlier, in 1943. Suddenly, Biff, the class jock who sat in the row next to me, put up his hand. “Uh, Mr. Johnson, are they talking about guys who jump off cliffs, or that new SCUBA thingy?”

Mr. Johnson is bewildered. As far as he knew, we hadn’t been talking about people throwing themselves off cliffs – and he had no idea what a “SCUBA thingy” was. As he was stammering for a reply, I hissed at Biff, “Put an E on the end of it!”
“Whuh??
No talking in class!
Well, I was in it now. Might as well be hung for a sheep, as a lamb. “Put an E on the end of it!”
“Uh…. Edivers??”
That’s right Biff; there are two ends to a word. Only you would pick the wrong one. Now there were at least two confused people in the room.

“What’s going on back there?”

I stood up. I’m sorry Mr. Johnson. Biff saw the word ‘divers,’ and wondered if Shakespeare was talking about people who dive off things like cliffs, or if he was referring to the new mechanical system which allows people to be SCUBA divers, and breathe underwater, even though it didn’t exist 400 years ago.

We just came here from French class, where the French word ‘divers’ (dee-vare) means of many types, different, various. I was trying to tell Biff to add an E at the end, to produce the English word, ‘diverse.’

This led Mr. Johnson on a spirited lecture about the origin and changes to many English words, and got me off the hook. Biff probably went on to fame and fortune, and a football scholarship, while I can only define the word ‘obscure.’ He was regularly outwitted by the tackling dummy, and needed a handler to tie his shoes, ‘cause Velcro hadn’t been invented yet.

One-Liners Are A Rip-off

Velcro

The guy who invented Velcro died….
….R.I.P.

Iron Man is actually….
….Fe Male

I used to sell security alarms door to door, and I was very good at it….
….If no-one was home, I’d just leave the brochure on the kitchen table

The early bird may get the worm….
….but the second mouse gets the cheese

How many lawyers does it take to change a light bulb?….
….Hourly, or flat fee?

What did the ocean say to the beach?….
….Nothing, it just waved

When the smog lifts in California….
….UCLA

My wife was angry at me, and said I have no sense of direction….
….so I picked up my stuff and right

I am terrified of elevators….
….and I’m taking steps to avoid them

Every time I try to eat healthy….
….a chocolate bar looks at me and Snickers

Double negatives….
….are a no-no in English

The problem with political jokes is….
….sometimes they get elected

I danced like nobody was watching….
….My court date is pending

What happens if….
….you get scared half to death – twice?

Ants are healthy because….
….they have little antibodies

I checked into the hokey-pokey clinic….
….and I turned myself around

All those who believe in psychokinesis….
….raise my hand

Between two evils….
….I always pick the one I’ve never tried

I went to the Air and Space Museum….
….but there was nothing there

A clear conscience is….
….the sign of a fuzzy memory

If you think that education is expensive….
….try ignorance

What if there were no hypothetical questions?

My reality check bounced.

I want to grow my own food….
….but I can’t find any bacon seeds

They’re not going to make yardsticks any longer

I told my wife she was drawing in her eyebrows too high….
….She looked surprised