Friday, May 27, 2022

Guns Are the New Cigarettes

 Smoking was very fashionable when I was a kid. There were t.v. commercials that promoted it, there were brands for women and brands for men, and the product was available everywhere and affordable. The tobacco industry employed thousands and thousands of workers.

Everybody smoked.

I have no idea why, but my family was an exception. My parents and grandparents didn't smoke, although their siblings did. But my tobacco-free household was the exception to the rule.

Movie theaters were hazy with smoke. Buses were clouded with smoke. Go to a restaurant, everyone would be smoking with their meals. Cigarette butts lined the gutters. Every house had ashtrays.  And nobody gave it a second thought. People weren't defensive about smoking, it was just something everyone did.

Big Tobacco knew as early as the 1950s that smoking was linked to lung cancer, mouth cancer, throat cancer, and emphysema. They released "study" after "study" that showed no link between tobacco and cancer.

Lots of people were dying, though.

It took a long while for reality to sink in. Figure that cigarettes became widely popular in the 1920s. So by the 1960s, people who started smoking in the 1920s were getting sick. In droves.

My best friend's mother was a chain smoker. She died of emphysema in her 40s. And this unfortunate woman was not an outlier. I had numerous friends whose grandparents were battling cancer. My parents' friends were all sick.

In the face of such carnage, Big Tobacco could no longer lie their way out of responsibility. Better yet, the widespread public perception of smoking changed.

Smoking was banned in theaters. Then on planes and buses. Then in restaurants, hospitals, libraries and schools. Then in bars. Then in outdoor settings. Nowadays, if you light up a gasper in a crowded Irish pub, you'll get the stink eye and the bouncer along with your shot and chaser.

So many people had to die for this major social change. It was a rare family that wasn't touched in some way by smoking-related illness.

Guns are the same way.

The NRA will tell you that there's no correlation between gun violence and gun ownership. They have "studies." They have a veritable Bible of philosophy on the goodness of guns.

The assault weapons ban enacted after Ronald Reagan was shot was allowed to expire in 2004.

If guns have a 40-year run of death and destruction the way cigarettes did, the American public will finally be fed up and ready to enact bans around 2050. Sadly, that is my prediction. We are looking at a situation where gun violence will have to touch a majority of American families, the way smoking-related illnesses did, before any action will be taken.

Then it will be taken. Gun owners will get the bouncer and the stink eye. They will be shamed in public for their bad habits. They will give the guns up for their own safety and encourage their friends to do it too. They'll do it because they will personally know multiple people who have died due to gun violence.

This is the anatomy of a public health crisis. People blithely use a deadly product and justify their use, right up until there are widespread deaths directly linked to the product. Then, and only then, do people step back and show some common sense.

The difference between guns and cigarettes is that not many kids died from smoking-related illnesses. Kids are dying from guns. But until lots and lots and lots of kids die, until the gun-toting citizenry loses its own loved ones, nothing will be done.

Gun ownership is a public health crisis. It's a plague masquerading as a pastime.

As a teacher, I hope I survive it.

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Redirecting You Tonight

 Not gonna lie, I've lost a step or two with the ol' humor, and I know it. Fortunately, my old pal Thumper Lightfoot is ramping up. So tonight I offer a link to his very helpful advice about how to rile up a River Spirit.

The post is here, I hope! 

Monday, May 16, 2022

A Public School Teacher Reads "The Dawn of Everything" in the Spring

 What's the name of this blog again? Something about Gods. What's my name? Oh, I know this one! My name is Miss. Pretty sure of that. It's a very common teacher name.

So for Xmas my husband (I forget his name) gave me a book called The Dawn of Everything. It's a heavy book. I mean heavy as in it hurts your hands to hold it. Don't quote me on this, but I think it's over 700 pages, including exhaustive footnotes and bibliographies.

I've been reading this book with teacher brain since early March. It was interesting, I think.

Long story short, this book is about, em ... everything? First thing in the morning? Well, I am an absolute expert on that! I have to be everything to everybody at 7:15 a.m. every weekday! Heck, it's dawn or near dawn or before dawn when I wake up, ten months of the year. So I know me some dawns.

The book. It's about ancient cultures, and Indigenous Americans, and whether or not human history leads in a straight line from little bands of hunter-gatherers to Elon Musk buying Twitter.

Now, I would absolutely hate to ruin this important and fascinating book for you, so I'm not going to offer up any spoilers here. Mostly because I can't. I read this book with teacher brain. I think I got the message of it, but I won't be sure until mid-July when the fog clears and I'm no longer chronically sleep-deprived.

It's not just The Dawn of Everything that eludes my fried-egg-in-the-pan brain. It's the Sunday New York Times, the cookie recipe on the side of the oatmeal box, the exit signs on the New Jersey Turnpike, the laundry directions on a pair of blue jeans. I can't comprehend basic syllables, let alone sentences.

Well, it's 8:12 p.m., my bedtime. I feel like I could sleep for 15 years.

I have not used The Dawn of Everything as a book to fall asleep while reading. It's too heavy for that. Plus, my cat Gamma bats books out of my hands when I read in bed.

I liked The Dawn of Everything? Ask me again in August.

Sunday, May 08, 2022

May Day Faerie Festival at Marshy Point

 What do you know? All this Supreme Court s*** hits the fan, and I get so bummed out that I don't post about the first Faerie Festival I attended since the lockdown! It was already last weekend.

I thought I would cry, and I did.

Day to day I don't have any close friends around me. I have acquaintances like the Monkey Man and colleagues at work, but most of my spare time goes to the spouse and the daughters. There are only so many hours in the day.

I'll bet the same can be said for the other people who go regularly to faerie festivals, because wow, when we got together it was like a fresh breeze blowing away all the stale air! So very good to see everyone again, so good that we came through the pandemic and into each others' arms!

The festival outgrew its original stomping grounds before the pandemic and has since moved to Marshy Point Nature Center near Baltimore. This is a quite pretty setting. Along some of the walking trails there are vernal ponds full of tadpoles, and of course there's that classic Chesapeake Bay-style view of a swath of water with reeds and stuff. Another bonus was a black vulture named Dumplin on exhibit. (Turns out black vultures don't particularly care for bagpipes and shouting. Who knew?)

All the elements of May Day returned. The Maypole, calling the Quarters, Tribal rivalries. Which of course yours truly aced like a boss.


Okay, okay. At least I had a tribe. With a hobgoblin. Something to be said for that. If you look close you can see Kwiplick the hobgoblin on the shoulder of Professor Greenman. That's me behind the banner.

The event was very well attended, and the vibe was merry, festive, and respectful to our great Mother Earth. It was incredibly great to see all my friends!

Beltane is one of the major holy days on the Pagan calendar. It's a day dedicated to youthful joy and the lust that's rising in the land at this time of year. Perfect moment for a bunch of people who have been holed up behind masks and locked up in their homes to come dancing out for a good ol' time!

The festival lasted two days. I went to Marshy Point a day early to help set up. And I actually set things up! Not my strong suit. 

All hail the return of festivals! All hail Beltane, the day of dancing! As for me and my house, we will serve the Green Man.

Saturday, May 07, 2022

What Happens When It Happens?

 There was no particular controversy back in 1973 when women were guaranteed the right to bodily autonomy in the USA. Then as now, the majority of thinking people in American felt like the government shouldn't be messing in peoples' personal medical decisions.

The only blowback on Roe v. Wade came from certain sects of fundamentalist Christians. At first they made a lot of noise in their own domains. Then the Republican Party needed a platform to attract those voters, and abortion seemed tailor-made.

So, let's look for a moment at America since Roe v. Wade. At the time that decision was handed down, more than 24% of Americans were in labor unions. Now that percentage stands at less than 6. A family could live on one parent's salary. Now they can't. Housing and college were affordable. Now they aren't. There was government-provided day care. Now there isn't. Companies gave their employees health insurance that was pretty comprehensive. Now they don't.

Why is this important? Because both political parties stopped caring about the prosperity of the electorate, but the Republicans in particular.

No one has challenged the ridiculous stagnation of wages while prices rise ... because unborn babies. No one has challenged our deplorable health care in this wealthy nation ... because unborn babies. Heck, if not for one principled decision by a dying man, we wouldn't even have Obamacare anymore! Because unborn babies.

Just this past year, no one stood up for a terrific child care credit. It expired. Because the babies it served are born.

Now things stand to change.

States will pass draconian laws that roll back certain guarantees that have been in place since 1973. These laws will fall upon people who have never given their rights much thought.

It will be up to those people to go out to vote. If they don't, they deserve to live in the Hellscape that has been created for them.

Now, mind you, the Republicans are trying to find more red meat to fling at these same voters. But no amount of trans-bashing and teacher-bashing is going to overcome the sudden realization by millions of men and women that they may be saddled with an unwanted child. Saddled with pregnancy, which is a tough nine months. Saddled with expenses, one way or another.

It's not going to matter to Karen whether or not there's a trans student on the volleyball team when -- at age 40 -- she suddenly finds herself carrying a baby she doesn't want and can't afford. Critical Race Theory won't matter to Buffy when her cheerleading uniform starts fitting tight and she falls out of the running for 'Bama Cheerleader of the Year.

This is a test for our democracy. This is a test for workers. Breaking free of the "right to life" dogma, people might actually ask themselves what our government has given them in the past 50 years, as opposed to what the government has taken away. 

In New Jersey we have a blue legislature and a blue governor. A woman's right to bodily autonomy is enshrined in the state constitution. And just last week we got legalized weed!

If nothing else, the Republicans have just boosted New Jersey's tourism industry. But my feeling is, this regressive party has just Fucked Around and Found Out. And if it hasn't, the whole mess of a country should be divvied up. Just as when you lop off a rotting limb to save a whole person. 

Tuesday, May 03, 2022

Annie's Garden State Tourist Haven for Single Ladies

 Are you a single lady in need of a quick vacation to the Garden State? Have I got a deal for you!

My name is Anne Johnson (really), and I have a nice little house with two spare bedrooms, here in New Jersey, the Garden State. I'm just a hop and skip from Philadelphia International Airport.

Would you like to take the Bruce Springsteen tour and hear a concert at the Stone Pony? We can do that. How about a nice hike with a few waterfalls? You would never guess New Jersey has waterfalls, but we do ... lots of them!

But of course the best part of this Constitutionally sound state is the Shore! Dear old Jersey Shore. You might not believe it, but the Jersey Shore is just like they showed it on t.v. Cheesy gaudy boardwalks, bars upon bars where you can get blotto in your bikini, caramel popcorn and taffy by the gallons, and miniature golf! And that's just Seaside Heights. If you go to Atlantic City, there are glitzy casinos and a first-class health care system in case you need some emergency procedure.

You can't beat this deal, ladies. For an unlimited time, you can stay at Chateau Annie absolutely for free! Yep, you heard that right. I know how expensive travel can be, and how single ladies often struggle financially.

The best part of Annie's Garden State Tourist Haven is that we have a big, broad, flexible outlook. We don't judge other people or tell them what to do with their lives. Be yourself, single lady! You're safe and sound here.

I'll be putting up offers here, beginning this summer. A simple email can set up your stay at Annie's. When certain things become official, this here tourist destination will be open for business.

No Bibles by the beds, either. I can give you some great witchcraft volumes to peruse. The library will be open to all the single ladies.

Come to Annie's Garden State Tourist Haven! We all need some privacy from time to time.