The Watering Hole: Wednesday, July 31, 2013: A Parable


The Traveler and the Rainbow

A modern parable by

Briseadh na Faire

A Traveler sat on an old stone, by a well-worn path one summer day. A storm had passed to the east, and the sun was low in the western sky. A brilliant rainbow shown against the dark clouds.

The traveler marveled at the bands of coloured light, each blending in infinite shades to the next. He reached into his pack and took out some drawing papers and chalk and began to sketch the rainbow.

A girl chanced by. She looked at the rainbow, and at the Traveler’s sketch. Then she pointed to his sketch.

“There’s too much blue in your rainbow.” she said.

“You think so?” the Traveler looked up at her.

“Definitely.” she replied. “Way too much blue.” Blue was her least favorite color. The world would be a lot better off with less blue in it, she thought.

The Traveler looked at the rainbow, and at his drawing. To Him, they seemed to be identical. He saw the disapproving look in the girl’s face and sighed.

“Ok.” he replied, and rubbed out much of the blue from his drawing.

“That’s better.” The girl chirped, and skipped on her way down the path, hardly noticing that the rainbow in the sky had a bit less blue in it now.

After a short while a man walked up. He too looked at the rainbow and the drawing. After looking back and forth several times, the man said, “Orange.”

“What?” The Traveler asked.

“Orange. Too much. Get rid of it. Just go from yellow to red. Skip the orange.” for the man hated orange.

“How’s this?” The Traveler held up his drawing. There was no orange in the rainbow. And his drawing matched the rainbow in the sky perfectly.

The man looked at the drawing, and at the rainbow, back and forth, slowly, several times. At last he said, “That’s better. That’s much better.” and went on his way.

And so it went, with different passers by, each complaining about this color or that color, until at last all that remained of the rainbow was gray rain in a gray world with a gray sunset.

The Traveler was about to pack his drawing away when a young mother and toddler approached. She was tired and cold and wet. The traveler offered her his cloak and some food. The toddler wandered about the small clearing exploring under each small rock and plucking a bouquet of gray wildflowers. The child walked up to her mother, offering the flowers to her with a smile. She smiled wearily back to the child.

The toddler climbed onto the Traveler’s lap and looked at his drawing, then at the sky. She looked with a puzzled face into the Traveler’s deep blue eyes.

“Rainbow?” the toddler asked, pointing to the sky.

The Traveler could only shake his head.

“Rainbow.” the child said, pointing to the drawing. “Rainbow. Rainbow. Rainbow.” the child tapped at the drawing.

The Traveler reached back into his bag and drew out the chalk once more. With masterful strokes he coloured the rainbow back into his drawing. And there, in the sky, the rainbow shown once more. The bouquet of flowers in the mother’s hand became a rainbow of color as well.

The Traveler continued on his drawing, coloring in the sky and the trees and the grass and the flowers. The child smiled and clapped. “Rainbow.” the child said affirmatively, nodding with approval at the drawing, and, at the sky.

“Yes” the Traveler replied, “rainbow.” There was a tear in his eye.

The mother rose, smiling. She looked at her child, and at the Traveler.

“Thank you.” she said, softly, as she kissed the Traveler on his forehead.

“No need to thank me.” replied the Traveler. “This is the world as you see it. The others who were before you are in the world as they see it. This path is different to each who walk upon it.” The mother gathered up her child and continued on her way.

“Thank you.” the Traveler thought. “You are teaching your child to see the path with all its colors, and your child will teach her children, and so on.” He knew, too, that each generation would explore and learn. He looked into his bag, then at the figures of the mother and child in his drawing. “For you and your offspring,” he wiped a tear, “I’m going to have to get some more chalk.”

© 2013 Briseadh na Faire


Watering Hole: Tuesday, July 30, 2013 – Mandela

This a man that I greatly admire.  He was brave while he was imprisoned and even braver after he was elected President.  Nelson knew that in order for South Africa to move forward, it could not dwell in its past sins and atrocities.

President Mandela celebrated his 95th birthday on July 18th and he was hospitalized for a lung infection back in June.  Even though he is showing improvement, his situation remains critical.

Just like everyone else, no leader is perfect.  What is important is the legacy that their leadership gives to us.  Here’s to you, Mandiba.

This is our Open Thread.  Speak Up!

Anatomy of a coat hanger abortion

This is what the anti-choice crowd is creating for women all over this country. Laws against abortion do not stop abortion; they guarantee unsafe abortions.

Dr. Jen Gunter

The coat hanger isn’t sterile. It isn’t even clean.

If the woman, or girl, is alone she thrusts it blindly upwards into the vagina. She’s hoping it will get into her uterus and do something. She may or may not know that to get into the uterus the coat hanger has to navigate the small opening in the cervix called the os.

A coat hanger is technically narrow enough to get through a pregnant cervical os, but the end is sharp not tapered so it can lacerate and perforate. Getting any instrument through the cervix safely also requires visualization and knowledge of the correct amount of force.

If she’s lucky enough to get the coat hanger through her cervix it could easily sail right through the back or side walls of the uterus. The uterine wall is soft and easily perforated with the wrong instrument or unskilled hands. If…

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The Watering Hole, Monday, July 29th, 2013: Saint Ronnie? I Don’t Think So!

I have always had great admiration for President James Earl Carter. I confess that I did not start voting until 1988, after I married Wayne (so Clinton was “my first.”) But my parents were pretty staunch Democrats who voted for Carter, and in those times we actually did sit down to watch the evening news every night, and I watched the Sunday political shows with my dad each weekend – which, of course, usually ended with me taking a nap. So I was not completely ignorant of political machinations, especially with dad filling me in on the background issues.

President Carter’s administration covered some troubled times, but he always spoke to the nation in a unique combination of down-home-folksy Sheriff Andy and subtly eloquent professor. That he is still, and always will be, derided by Republicans as one of the worst Presidents in history, just proves how little the Republicans respect intellect and integrity.

President Jimmy (as I like to call him) differentiated himself from too many other former Presidents by, after leaving office, continuing for decades to serve his planet, his country, and humanity in general. Jimmy and Rosalynn remain wonderful examples of “public service” at its most noble.

Here’s a selection of interviews, articles, and videos, all from the last year or two, which include President Carter’s views on America’s dysfunctional democracy and the effect of Edward Snowdon’s NSA leaks; his speech at the Carter Center’s “Mobilizing Faith for Women” conference on June 23, 2013; and an interview with CNN’s Piers Morgan from January 2012 on a wide range of topics, but mostly about the Middle East.

And saving the best for last, here’s Part 1 and Part 2 of President Carter’s appearance on The Daily Show, April 9th, 2013.

In my opinion, no other President has acted so Presidential after leaving office as has President Jimmy Carter. The right-wing can criticize and ridicule him all they want, but Jimmy deserves beatification to sainthood much more than their much-vaunted but historically inaccurate Saint Ronnie.

jimmy and rosalynn

This is our Open Thread. What’s your opinion about President Jimmy Carter? Or on anything else, for that matter.

The Watering Hole, Saturday, July 27, 2013: The Acerebralists™ Are Still Among Us

I own a great book (thank you, Jane) called “The Superior Person’s Book of Words”, by Peter Bowler (1985). It’s very funny and has definitions (or explanations) of a bunch of great and, almost always, actual words that describe things perfectly. Not quite Ambrose Bierce, but chosen to effect an air of superiority when the occasion calls for it. Words like

CONTRADISTINCTION n. Why say “in contrast with” when you can say “in contradistinction to”?

There’s another great entry for

EREPTION n. Snatching away. Do not confuse with EREPTATION (creeping forth). Snuggling up to your beloved at the drive-in, you say, “I sense an ereption coming on,” and suddenly snatch the M&Ms from her lap. If it transpires that she has put the M&Ms somewhere else, you will be compelled to perform an ereptation.

The whole book is like that. It’s great. On the back cover can be found this:

ACEREBRAL a.Without a brain. A word for which there would at first sight appear to be no use, since no entity to which there would be any point in applying the term could in fact possess this attribute. (There would be no point in speaking of an acerebral windowsill.) However, recent researches into the central nervous system of the wire-haired terrier have conclusively demonstrated the need for such a word.

I then (technically improperly, I think) applied a suffix to indicate a person who practices or is concerned with something (“-ist”), and came up with

ACEREBRALIST n. A person who tries to think without having the capacity to do so. (i.e. A person without a brain who insists on trying to use it.)

You’ll probably derive your own variations on the theme, but it’s one of those words that you either get it and know to whom it applies or you don’t, and probably never will. Remember, you heard it from me first. Don’t go trying to steal it, Colbert!

[The above was part of a post first published more than six years ago on my original blog.]

Fast forward six years later and a word with what seemed like limited application then is almost indispensable in describing large segments of our society today. What other word best describes the faithful and believing viewers of Fox News Channel? I’ve written about Fox News in my song parodies (here, here, here, and especially here), and yet despite my efforts people still watch that network to get their news. And the sad part is that the Acerebralists™ in America (their target audience) believe every lie they’re told. Whether it’s about Benghazi or polls based on the lies about Benghazi, misinformation about the recent Supreme Court ruling striking down one section of the Voting Rights Act (not all of it), or denying that racism is still a major problem in this country, Fox News knows their audience lacks the brain power to think for themselves (or do their own internet research). If it weren’t for brainless people, Fox News Channel wouldn’t have enough viewers to stay on the air. (BTW, all of the examples I linked to were just from the past few days on Fox News Channel. The rest of the year is no better.)

But cable TV news is not the only place dependent on Acerebralists™ to make a living. Right-wing talk radio not only counts on them for their audiences, they even employ some Acerebralists™ as on-air hosts. I’m not talking about Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity. Those guys aren’t stupid, they’re just plain evil in all sorts of ways. I’m talking about people like Bryan Fischer, who once regaled his audience with tales of his bravely fighting off demons, who thinks Liz Cheney isn’t anti-gay enough to be a US Senator, and who thinks it’s your patriotic duty (as Americans) to worship God. You can read about soem of the others at Right Wing Watch (A Project of People For the American Way).

And maybe all of that wouldn’t be so bad, wouldn’t be so detrimental to the country, if there weren’t any Acerebralists™ in Congress. Unfortunately for us as a nation, there are. On just the anti-immigration front, there’s Rep Michele Bachmann, who predicted that if any kind of immigration reform legislation passes, the Republicans will lose the House of Representatives because President Obama “will wave his magic wand” and declare that all immigrants have the right to vote (he can’t and won’t); Rep Louie Gohmert, who thinks that not only are black people “embracing” the Republican Party, but that “Hispanic voters will do likewise once they understand that the GOP wants them to learn to speak English and assimilate so that they don’t have to work as ditch diggers.”; and Rep Steve King (IA), who thinks that most of the undocumented immigrants are “130-pound” drug mules with “calves the size of cantaloupes.” [Not to be confused with Rep Peter King (NY), the famous terrorist supporter.] Acerebralists™ can truly feel they have one of their own (or, in this case, at least three) representing them in our Congress.

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to discuss the Acerebralists™ in your life, the ones who watch Fox News Channel, or even the ones in Congress, or anything else you wish to discuss. I only ask that you use your brain, which I know you have because you’re here at The Zoo right now.