For howling out loud!

One year

Today. One year since he's gone. Seems like yesterday. Seems like a thousand years ago.

...and I miss him so much.

The (un)healthy interwebz

Every once in a while, one friend or another will ask me to look something up on the web for them. Most people are perfectly capable of googling things for themselves. Or at least, most people are pretty certain they are. However, there are certain topics and subjects that can be a right pain to wade through unless you know 1) what are you looking for and more importantly 2) how to properly look for it.

When it comes to science, particularely biology and up to a point medicine, I'm usually the one my friends turn to for some googling help. And now, in the Amaz!ng Metting 2012 (TAM 2012) - an annual celebration of science, skepticism and critical thinking under the patronage of JREF (James Randi Educational Foundation), "Steven Novella, David Gorski, Harriet Hall, and Rachael Dunlop tell you how to find reliable health information online and skeptically evaluate the information you find." So, I give you "Dr. Google":

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Merry Christmas by...

As you all know, I'm more of a Scrooge McDuck type when it comes to these things more than anything else. Especially when it comes to X-Mas which I'm not celebrating anyway. But if pressed into at least acknowledging it, this is the way to go:

I give you XKCD and the one and only Tom Lehrer!


This Hit The Nerve

I dearly wish the woman who grabbed me into a right bear hug as my father's coffin was sliding down had read this. Before she robbed me of what I wanted to be a moment to myself and a silent goodbye to my dad. I had an urge to push her away but I was both too stunned by the act and too stunned overall to do it. I wish I did. I really, really wish I did. I'll gladly bite her head off if I ever see her. Not that it'll help much - the memory of my father's funeral that ended up the most deeply imprinted one is of her and my rage at her act instead of what it should have been. I promised myself I won't let a random act of a random idiot bother me but seeing how reading that post instantly hit the nerve... I am bothered by it. A lot.
For howling out loud!

Brainbites addendum - because I haven't finsihed gnawing this bone yet

So, the persistance of belief, long after it's been proven to be false. Again, though my focus is primarilly on religious and/or spiitual beliefs, karmas, astrology and so on, I do apply this concept and these words to every field, science included. Because persistance of this sort is present in science as well -  there were always scientists who, when faced with facts that proved their preffered hypothesis to be wrong, chose to ignore the facts and kept defending their own stance way past its expiration date. Yeah, it does happen, more often then I'd like it to - we are, after all, human and letting go of something you hold dear is always hard. I d, however, find this way of acting to be far more common in 'believers' then in 'scientists'.

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For howling out loud!

Brainbites I

All right, so...

This year, I have gone through two huge emotiaonal rollercosters and, as is the case with such things, neither one was pleasent. The year has been bad all around (except one notable exception - G's visit here), and two things stand out the most. In January, my father, whom I adore and who has always been one of the, if not the most important figure in my life has been diagnosed with liver cancer. He died in June, 4th to be precice. The second thing happened only a week ago: my boyfriend, my partner of the past 12 years, left me.

I don't feel like dwelling too much on either right now. Both were devastating experiances, both shook me to the very core of my being, the wounds are still way too fresh for me to poke them yet again so... I won't. I will jsut say that, yes, I'm wrecked but yes, I'm still kicking. I am mentioning both just to put some things in perspective, because I feel the need to mention them and because of all the ways I could have started this post, I found this to be the best one.

With that out of the way, I will continue to say that I am still shaking like a leaf from being left like this. Both my father and my boyfriend were big parts of my life, from emotional fulfilment to intelectual satisfaction to any number of everyday, common little things, quirks and habits that I loved and enjoyed having in my life. With both those men now gone, each in his own way, there is a whole heckload of empty space left behind and I have yet to fill it with something else.

The thing with filling such gaps, though is this: I did not want for thsoe gaps to appear in the first place. What space there was, I filled with things I wanted there, things dear to me, things that were there because of all the possible things, they fit my personal physical and emotional space the best. Yes, of course that in time, the void will hurt less and less. And of course that all that empty space will eventually be filled with other things instead. Not necessarily better ones, not necessarily worse ones either. Some things, I will never be able to replace or at least, not replace them completelly. Most of it I will fill up again with things that also satisfy me but are different then the things that were there before. And some empty space will always remain empty. Because that's the way things go. I will never have another father, and even if  a very father-like figure appears again in my life (it won't, but I'm mentioning it as a hypothetical possibility), he will never, ever be exactly like my father and will never fit my father-shapes spot as fully and as perfectly as my father did. In that sense, some space will forever remain empty because there is nothing but the thing that was once there that can fill it.

So, I sit here, writing all this down with a great sense of emptiness inside. It's... bearable and by now, it does not cloud my thinking, but it nonetheless sets an emotional frame for my toughts and words. I'd still have the same thoughts, but in some other emotional frame, the words, at least, would be different.

Toughts, however, remain as they are. And for this post, not toughts about my father or about my ex-boyfriend (on that note: talking about people who ahve been a part of my life for so long in past tense takes time; it took me a long while to get my self to start talking or even thinking about my dad in past tense and it takes some conscious effort to talk about my ex-boyfriend as an ex-boyfriend now). Anyway, for this post, the toughts I have are no longer about my father or my ex-bf, though thinking about both of them did spur me into thinking about some other things further. And it is those other things that I feel the need to talk/write about. I say "things", but what I really mean is "me".

Because, among other things, one of the reasons for our breakup was the lack of mutual understanding. And by that I don't mean the general, mundane "we couldn't understand each other" situation.Quite to the contrary, we did, and still do, understand each other very intimatelly and very deeply. However, some things we obviously failed to notice, failed to understand completelly and thus, failed to understand one another's current, past and future toughts and positions.

That is what spurred my current chain of toughts (jumbled and full of digressions as it will likely turn out to be), and I took it from there and expanded it further, beyond my ex and our breakup and applied it to people around me in general.

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Nope, I'm not talking about the one you think I'm talking about. More than half a century later, our lovely, brilliant politicians heard that history repeats itself and naturally, decided to help it happen again. Twice. So what happened?

First in Novi Sad in 2009 and now in Belgrade 2011, City Councils decided to prohibit selling alcohol (and of course I mean booze - I can still go to a local apothecary and get some alcohol in the middle of the night if I need it... thank whoever for small favours, eh?) between 23PM and 6AM in Novi Sad and between 22PM and 6AM in Beograd. Not just to minors - to anybody and everybody. Grand explanation behind the decision(s)? Why, to prevent all the "Bad Stuff"(TM) alcohol brings, of course - public drunkness, street fights, late-night drinking and the accompanying noise, traffic accidents, you name it. Likely, no alcohol during the night also helps daisies grow better and makes little puppies happy, too.

Sounds idiotic to ya? Likely because it is.

The story continues pretty much the way you expect it to: big store chains have nothing against the decision, all it means to them is more customers stocking up on their booze earlier in the evening. Small local stores are, naturally, against it, especially those that work all night. Because, naturally, people aren't very keen on bying groceries and fresh fruit at 2AM but are very interested in ciggies and beer (and a hamburger wouldn't be so bad, either).

Now for the twist which isn't unexpected at all: about a month ago, the High Court (or however you call it) ruled that the prohibition decision in Novi Sad is, you guessed it, unconstitutional!  As we all knew it was fromthe word go. And again not unexpectedly at all, in a fit of brilliance, Beograd's Council makes the very same decision and prohibit alcohol sales in my city after 22PM. Yep, that would be that unconstitutional decision I just told you about; the same one.

Yes, of course people are protesting. And yeah, the complaint is already sent to the High Court. And yes, of course it'll be ruled unconstitutional all over again. It's not a matter of "if", only "when".

It is, however, that "when" that bothers me the msot.

Because until it's -again- ruled unconstitutional, this prohibition remains effective (even though it technically shouldn't because it is, you know, against the highest law of the country and as such, worthless...?). Which in turn means that right now, it's close to 23PM here and even though I really, really wanted a bottle of cider right around now, they wouldn't sell it to me in the store around the corner. Which makes me thoroughly pissed, as you may well imagine.

Wanna fight alcoholism? Wanna prevent fights, public drunkness, traffic acidents etc? Fine - Do it! But the way to go about it is to actively work on those issues, first and foremost, to properly educate people and above all, to -and this is the tough part- raise your damned kids properly. The way to do it, conversly, isn't to pervent adults from doing whatever the heck they want with their livers at any ungodly hour they choose. Unless we became Saudi Arabia over night and I just failed to notice (which, given the way this country is going, wouldn't surprise me either). Until we do, however, it is my constitutional right to get sloshed whenever the hell I want. Moreover, it is my constitutional right to buy anything not labeled 'illegal' at any damn time I want to.

Of course none of this really has anything to do with the declarative 'battle against alcoholism' (and sicne when is a bottle of beer or cider "alcoholism" anyway?). It has to do with large store chains getting more buyers stocking up on booze during the day. About politicians being their idiot selves because that's apperantly what they're for. Above all, though, it's about trying, for the thousand tome in a row, to officially treat symptoms instead of the cause even if it proved to be ineffective times and again.

Just like those damned ERSB ratings and similar crap. So much easier to just prevent your kids from seeing a tit (gasp!) or too much blood (gaspgasp!) on TV or in a video game then to actually sit down and spend some time with them talking, or playing or... well, educating them? No, no, let the state and the rest of the self-proclaimed guardians of morality do your job for you.

And why not take it one step further, then? Why not let the state take care of you as well? You are, clearly, an infantile little thing, ignorant to the effects of drugs, ciggies, alcohol and exposed tits, so instead of having to control yourself regarding those things, let the state cut off your acess to them. But of course, without actually banning any of it as such. This is, after all, a democracy, no?

Next up: prohibition of sex between 22PM and 6AM - Workers who fail to get theri good night sleep are less productive at work tomorrow and we all know that sex is number one reason for sleepless nights. So, in order to help you, the citizen, be at your best productive and healthy self, sex shall be banned from 22PM to 6AM. For your own good. It became an instant running joke here the moment the alcohol sale prohibition came to pass. I am, however, slightly worried about it staying in the domain of a joke. After all, the idea makes as much sense as the one regarding alcohol and we definitely don't lack idiots who'd go for this, too.

I am ranting. I know. I feel like ranting. I feel I am right to rant. Above all, I am still thoroughly, totally and irreversibly pissed. I really do want that cider, dammit!
For howling out loud!


So, have you even heard about this thing? By what I could make out, the news made a decent bang over here but got very little screen time where it actually maters. In a nutshell:

Vuk and Verica Nastic, Serbs who live in state of California, have been going through a real agony with CPA (Child Protection Advocacy) for the past six months...
...Their son and daughter have been handed to a Mexican foster family with no children after which the court is about to decide whether to separate them and put them into different homes...
...Our consul took his interest in the matter and on couple of occasions communicated with CPA complaining about discrimination upon Nastic family. As a consequence CPA complained to the State Department stating that Serbian Consulate puts pressure on them.

And all that because of - get this! - naked bath pictures! I have to ask - which one among you doesn't have their naked pics from back when you were kids? And how many of you find such pics disturbing, let alone sexualizing in any manner? AM I the only one whose first impulse was to cry McMartin? Yeah, I thought so...

So what's the problem here? The naked pics, the treatment the CPA is giving these people, the fact that the kids are now seperated and placed in two different foster homes, all that because an IT worker poked his nose into someone's personal files...? Or perhaps the fact that CPA is readily jumping onto something like this, yet child beauty pageants are perfectly all right?

(Well, maybe they could be all right. Personally, I find them disgusting. YMMV.)

No, the real issues here are as follows:

1. If the CPA is really jumping to conclusions and are really pulling a McMartin then ultimately, it's the very same kids they claim they're trying to protect who end up bruised the msot. Sure, the parents suffer in all this as well, but they are adults, they can cope. Kids are kids. They find it harder.

2. Whether the CPA is the bad guys of the story or not, a more general problem remains: what the hell is wrong with naked child pics to begin with?! Unless you're a pedo, nothing at all. And while being a pedo = naked child pics, naked child pics don't necessarily = a pedo.

2.a. So it's forbidden, or at least considered highly unappropriate for kids to see their parents naked in the meryy old US of A. Or so I've been told. From the same source, it's also mandatory for kids over four or five to wear bathing suits. Overall, it appears that what's truly mandatory is to teach your kids from day one that human body is something shamefull. Oh puh-lease! I watched a damned porn movie when I was, like, nine or something. If it left me deeply emotionally scarred, I failed to notice. It did make me giggle, however, me and all my friends alike. Well, did youu truly expect any other reaction from a bunch of nine year olds who rented the movie solely because it was something we weren't supposed to be doing?

3. Lack of data. So far, the only side of the story I heard was from the family's point. CPA didn't give a single clue. We have yet to hear about the supposedly incriminating pictures they based the whole thing on. While the whole thing does indeed reeek of McMartin, I'd still like to know more, and not just one side of the story.

3.a. If CPA indeed has something more substantial then a bunch of naked bath pics, then I'll have to say they were right in taking the kids out of there right away.

3.b. If they really have only a bunch of perfectly ordinary naked bath pics, coerced statements from the kids and little else, then the whole lot of them should be fired as quickly as the kids were taken away.

3.c. But to take a stand on this, you need more info. Otherwise, you can only go for what sounds "righter" at the moment. Which is not really objective at all.

4. And what's with that CPA anyway? Do we even need them if this is how they work? Why, of-fucking-course we need them! Call a Moulder on me when I say "I want to believe", but I really do want to believe that there are eally some educated, well-meaning, hard-working no-nonesense people working for the CPA and that witch-hunters such as these appear to be are an exception rather than a rule. But of there are witch-hunters marring their good name, then it's said witch-hunters that ought togo, asap. They make the whole organization look bad and I don't think that's really a good thing, do you?

4.a. That said, with all the PC policies that are currently all the rage, plus deeply ingrained 'moral' values that are nothing more than pointless monotheistic anti-body, anti-carnal, anti-sex leftovers from two and more thousand years ago, its high time to reconsider our stances on sme aspects of what we consider 'right' and 'acceptable'. Up to a certain point, protection of any sort is all fine and dandy. But after that point, it becomes pointless, a parody of itself. Which puts a bad name on all the things before said point as well. Which is, basically, an encyclopedia definition of shooting your own foot.

But all the philosophy aside - Fed the info as I am by the media, at this point I can't help but side with the parents on this one. And while I'm sitting here comfortably blogging away, a pair of kids just missed a New Year with their parents.

I may not like kids. It still doesn't mean I can't and don't sympathize with them.

Yeah. Happy New Year, you lot!

One Old Favorite ...and one extra treat

I ran into this thing ages ago. I must have showed it to just about everybody I know by now and it never once failed to induce roaring laughter (try reading it to a group of friends, in a teathric voice and without breaking into giggles half-way through it ...if you can pull it off). But just in case there is someone out there who still didn't see it, I present to you...


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In case you're linguistically inclined (and in case you aren't as well), you might ant to check out this blooper reel, too.