Saturday, April 10, 2021

Can't Touch This


Hey hey! Welcome to my humor blog! Join us on a madcap romp through the world of strange science, fun facts, and human foibles! Now let's talk about abortion!

Oh. We're not supposed to talk about abortion. It's a "touchy" subject, kind of like Hell is "toasty." I just got to thinking about it on account of all the so-called "heartbeat bills" that are getting passed that criminalize abortion at the stage a fetal heartbeat can be detected, or about the time when a woman starts feeling bloaty and crabby for no reason. 

I suspect the whole heartbeat thing has to do with how we romanticize the heart. It's where we imagine love is, it's what we paint on our valentines, it's how young girls dot their i's. Seems like a good place to draw a line, but here's the thing: any line we draw is going to be arbitrary. Even the moment of heartbeat detection depends on what device you use to detect it. Are you bent over a belly with a warm stethoscope, or jamming a wand up a personal area? Is a heartbeat the beat of a heart, or a flickering of electrical activity in a group of cells that aspire to be a heart?

Doesn't really matter. The only thing that we ought to be able to agree on about abortion is that we can't agree on a thing about it. It all depends on what we as individuals believe about human life, and its preciousness or insignificance, and that's personal. Many people abhor the thought of snuffing out even potential human life, and there we're getting into unfathomable territory: the existence of the soul, and the moment of its inception. Is it here, at the eight-cell stage? At the kidney-bean stage? Is any of this obvious? Some people believe it starts with the gleam in the father's eye. That it is sinful to obstruct the safe passage of a raft of sperm cells on its glorious emission.

That's why the one thing that has been proven to dramatically reduce abortion numbers across the board--the provision of free birth control--is still controversial.

Heck, whether you believe in a soul at all is not a given either.

I myself tend to the non-preciousness side of the scale. I think a viable dodo egg is far more valuable than any human blastocyst. It's a supply-and-demand thing in a world choked with people. But that's just me. I also would have no trouble deciding whether to snatch an infant out of a burning building, or twelve jars of unimplanted embryos. No trouble at all.

But here's the other thing I believe about abortion. I believe that there are some politicians who know in their maturely-beating hearts that abortion is a great sin. That is why they got into politics. But I believe there are far, far more politicians who thunder on about abortion, with trembling fingers and quavering voice, and don't actually care at all; might even have underwritten a few. For them, abortion is a lever to move as many voters as possible to their party so they can do what they really care about: assure that the vast wealth of the country remains in the hands of the few.

You might think your legislator is doing the Lord's work, and that's your right, but maybe he's just working you over.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Don't Open The Shed


Someone's been charged with murder in two cold cases here. In the first case, they just assumed the murder took place, in the absence of a body. I don't know: it's hard enough to keep track of all the people we have and if someone lies low for for a while it seems rude to just conclude, ipso fucto, he's been murdered. I suppose there are clues. I, for instance, can hole up inside the house for a long time--I've got toys--but if a few weeks go by and nobody sees any beer bottles in my recycling there might be cause to worry.

Anyway, the cases appear to have been broken due to forensic genealogy. That's the relatively new practice of sleuthery using data that were volunteered to an outfit like Ancestry or 23andMe. Our murderer might have had cause to wonder just how much Neanderthal he had in him and didn't stop to think that dribbling drool into a tube might have consequences for him down the line. (I'm guessing there was a lot of Neanderthal.) Or maybe he just wanted to reassure himself he was super white.

He was connected to the first murder due to the discovery of Probable Murderer DNA in the victim's house. He was connected to the second murder due to the discovery of the victim's dismembered remains in his shed. In criminal investigation circles, that's considered a red flag. I'm guessing he lives in the boonies, and didn't need his mower for a while.

He's also being investigated for a number of other unsolved murders. They'd have him in the slammer already, if any of the detectives searching his house had gotten a craving for fish sticks.

It makes me think of when the Bob Crane murder case was reopened after the discovery of "previously overlooked" brain tissue in the suspect's car. It wasn't enough to convict, but again, highly suspicious, there being vanishingly few innocent ways to get brain tissue in your car, even with the worsening pothole situation.

The other thing it makes me think of is I don't really know what-all is in our shed, and maybe I should find out.

Dave built the shed a long time ago and it has two doors that swing open wide. One of them opens easily by turning a bent nail and the other one is latched shut by two eye-bolts that slot into a cavity, and you have to pull them out from the inside. For thirty years now I've bothered to open that door only a couple times. If I want anything on the right side, I hold onto the middle post and swing my body around like a pole dancer. There's too much stuff on the floor to actually step all the way inside. I am not tidy.

I do have four big containers of water in there somewhere for The Earthquake, and I should replenish them one of these days, but it's a bother, and I figure even real old water would be fine in an emergency. Anyway I can't rule out a body part or two. It's not a big shed, but not everybody is all that big, and things happen. I know we have a saw.

We did find a whole cat tail in there once. Just the tail. Seemed like there had to be a story connected, and I was content to just wonder about it, because I don't reserve my sentiment for outdoor kitties. Cats are wonderful creatures but once they step outside they're coyote chow as far as I'm concerned. Anyway, months later, we did see a tailless cat skulking around the yard. I'd like to say we had ways of making him talk, but we didn't.

Saturday, April 3, 2021

The Lettuce Assassin



I chop lettuce. Go ahead, let me have it.

You're not supposed to chop lettuce. I'm no cook but even I know that. I don't know why exactly, but I know you're supposed to tear lettuce, not chop it.

Which is better than leaving it untorn. One of the downfalls of going to a nice restaurant is you're likely to get a salad with great big leaves flapping around in it. You can try to fold it up into a tidy package with your fork, but you're still at risk of looking like a turtle, snapping your neck back and forth trying to corral the greenery. Little fringey bits are trailing all over your face because despite your best fork-folding efforts the stuff is springing back out of your lips and dripping unsightly dressing down your cheek. And you're also not supposed to go after it with your fingers. You have to herd the escaped greens back into your mouth with your fork, and that can't be done with any delicacy. I don't know how the Queen manages it.

It's worse if you have a small face. I have a small face on account of I have a small head, and my face is on the front of it. Sure, everything from the chin down has swollen into pudding, but there's not a lot of acreage in the face itself. I start smearing runaway lettuce onto it, I look like I've planted myself in a hedge.

Poo on that. I make my own salad, I chop the bejesus out of the greens. I want every portion of that salad bite-sized. I want to make the transfer from plate to gullet as orderly as possible. Let's just say when we had a dog, she didn't park herself next to my dining chair.

That's allowable, in your lesser restaurants; you can tear your lettuce into little pieces. But I am not inclined to stand there over my cutting board and rip plants into confetti when I can just whack at them with a big knife in four seconds. Done.

I read up. Seems the reason you're supposed to tear, not chop, is that the resulting pieces will separate along natural cell-wall lines and not rip the cells apart. I've studied plants with a microscope before. The cells are generally lined up like subway tiles. And they're very little. Even if a whole bunch of them are screaming at once, you're not going to hear them over the chewing.

Well, I can't even separate an invoice from a page along the perforated line without messing up at one end or the other. I could, if I took the time to fold it real good and crease it with my thumbnail, but that's not my idea of a good use of time.

Presumably the cells damaged by my kitchen knife produce polyphenols in order to protect the plant against further damage. I'm making a salad. I'm already planning on damaging the hell out of those little princesses, right quick.

I'm chopping. If the Queen drops by, I'll chop a salad for her, too.