What Recent Supreme Court Decisions Have Told Me About My Value as a Woman and a Human Being

I’ve learned so much from the Supreme Court over the last few years:

Corporations are totes people who have the right to put as much money where their mouth is as they want – well, they don’t technically have mouths, but they’re still American people who have every right to talk as much as those mere biological people they’re notorious for trodding upon.

Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 558 U.S. 310 (2010) Limits on corporate and union political expenditures during election cycles violate the First Amendment. Corporations and labor unions can spend unlimited sums in support of or in opposition to candidates as long as the spending is independent of the candidates.

(Notice we hoi polloi are thrown a sop in the form of labor unions being able to spend unlimited sums – which would be nice, if it weren’t for the fact that corporations have been busy murdering unions for decades. Hey – does that count as first-degree murder? Because that means we should be able to imprison or execute them, then.)

Corporations and rich people have lots more freedom of speech than people who aren’t rich or corporations.

McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, 572 U.S. ___ (2014) Limits on the total amounts of money that individuals can donate to political campaigns during two-year election cycles violate the First Amendment.

Image shows Supreme Court portrait: the conservative justices have corporate logos on their robes. Caption says, "I don't always undermine the Constitution of the United States, but when I do, I make sure I get paid."

People who want to keep guns around in order to shoot other people (but not corporations, because while corporations can “speak,” they can’t actually bleed) are more important than people who would rather impose sensible limits on guns for the safety of total non-people (such as children outside of wombs).

McDonald v. Chicago, 561 U.S. 3025 (2010) The individual right to keep and bear arms for self-defense is fully applicable to the states through the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

People of color don’t need any protection from systemic racism. Nossir. Times have changed and there is no longer any such thing as, oh, say, corporations (which are Very Important People) and political parties (*coughRepublicancough*) discriminating against people whose skin is other than white. They certainly wouldn’t refuse to hire them or prevent them from voting!

Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, 572 U.S. ___ (2014) A Michigan state constitutional amendment that bans affirmative action does not violate the Equal Protection Clause.

Shelby County v. Holder, 570 U.S. ___ (2013) Section 4(b) of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which contains the coverage formula that determines which state and local jurisdictions are subjected to federal preclearance from the United States Department of Justice before implementing any changes to their voting laws or practices based on their histories of racial discrimination in voting, is unconstitutional because it no longer reflects current societal conditions.

Making everybody in government pray to Jesus doesn’t violate anyone’s free exercise of religion. Why wouldn’t Muslims and Hindus and Buddhists and atheists and pagans and all them other (totally fake) people love praying to Jesus? Their objections are silly and can definitely be ignored. Remember: being forced to pray to a god your religion or conscience tells you doesn’t exist is no big, even if your god is a jealous fucker who will cut you for paying lip service to someone else’s god.

Town of Greece v. Galloway, 572 U.S. ___ (2014) A town council’s practice of opening its sessions with a sectarian prayer does not violate the Establishment Clause.

We look forward to seeing the Court twist into pretzels to define why praying to Allah is totes a violation of the Establishment clause.*

The Court has given me to understand that women are definitely lesser people than corporations. Corporations have the right to force women and trans men who haven’t had surgery to pay for their own birth control, because a corporation can be totes religious just like a person, and private for-profit corporations are so pious that they, like churches, can impose their beliefs that women should be baby factories upon women, trans men, and other folks with a uterus. Uterus-having folks, however, have no right to impose their desire for appropriate healthcare upon the corporation providing health insurance as part of their compensation. No word yet on whether corporations must pay for the aspirin they’re telling ladies to keep between their knees as a substitute for effective birth control, but I’m sure they won’t have to if they classify all pills as birth control.

Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores Inc, 573 U.S. ___ (2014) Closely held for-profit corporations have free exercise of religion under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Viagra, of course, will be provided to the menfolk with limp willies free of charge.

Image is an angry Captain Picard with his hand extended as if protesting. Caption says, "Hobby Lobby is not a church, it's a fucking crafts store."

But hey, isn’t it sweet that the Court’s enlightened enough to finally realize there’s no good reason for the federal government to say “I don’t” to same-sex marriage?

United States v. Windsor, 570 U.S. ___ (2013) Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines—for federal law purposes—the terms “marriage” and “spouse” to apply only to marriages between one man and one woman, is a deprivation of the equal liberty of the person protected by the Fifth Amendment’s Due Process Clause. The federal government must recognize same-sex marriages that have been approved by the states.

Shorter Supremes: “We’re going to give corporations insane control over the political process, and gut all the laws protecting you from racist jackasses, and let Christians force their prayers and beliefs upon you even in government settings, and we don’t give a single shit about women’s reproductive rights because every fetus and potential fetus is sacred until it’s born, after which we don’t care if it gets shot, but hey, we’re not bigots – you can have all the same-sex weddings you want! Just, y’know, don’t expect us to tell corporations, which are completely religious people, that they can’t discriminate against you. Because it’s obvious we think they own you.”

Image shows Scalia. Caption reads, "Equality? Not founder's intent, lol."

For those who say elections don’t matter, I just want to point out one thing: the majority are all Reagan / George W. Bush appointees. The dissenters: Clinton and Obama. Just one less Bush term, and women might not have to put up with their employer forcing their religious views up their vagina. Had Obama lost, same-sex marriage would still be a distant dream rather than an impending reality. So fuck you if you’re one of those who was willing to risk McCain or Romney just to punish the Dems for not being progressive enough. Play those games with local and state elections where there’s less risk and more reward, people. Leave the ability to appoint Supreme Court justices in hands that aren’t bloody evil.

Image shows Voting Rights Act being signed. Caption says, "Undone by 5 justices. #whycourtsmatter"

And go read Greta Christina’s piece on this travesty. Get outraged. Get voting. Don’t ever let yourself believe elections don’t matter. The only thing that’s going to defeat all that corporate cash is a lot of good people willing to pull the right levers.

Image is a gray cat in a suit. Caption says, "Lawyer cat objects to everything."Boycott Hobby Lobby. Get involved with SafeAndSecular.org.

*I will soon be running for office as an ordained minister in the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster – if you vote for me, I assure you each meeting will begin by invoking his saucy blessing upon our government business. Does anyone know where I can find meatballs that are halal, kosher, and don’t violate Hindu dietary laws?

Snippets about the landmark rulings filched from Wikipedia’s handy list.

The following memes were found by Ophelia, who has been blogging this case all day. Take them. Spread them. Annoy your Tea Party relatives with them.

Americans United meme. Text reads, "Apparently, the Supreme Court's HOBBY is acting as a LOBBY for the interests of corporations run by the religious right." Image is a 50s illustration of two women. Caption reads, "Face it, dear. Corporations have more rights than we do." Fight back at www.safeandsecular.org. Atheists.org meme: Image shows a Hobby Lobby store, with a Monopoly-style card over it that reads "Fake religious freedom. Get out of the law free. This card may be used to treat women as second-class citizens." Caption says, "A gift from the Supreme Court to religious extremists."  Elizabeth Warren quote: I cannot believe that we live in a world where would even [sic] CONSIDER letting some big corporation deny the women who work for it access to the basic medical tests, treatments or prescriptions that they need based on vague moral objections. The current Supreme Court has headed in a very scary direction.

Get Your Ideas All Up in My Business!

All right, my darlings, it’s now less than two weeks until the day I hang up my shingle, and I haven’t got any idea what name to put on it. Well, I have a few ideas. You may have better ones. Think!

Image is a black cat in a suit. Caption says, "We need to think inside all the boxes."Think of names for a store selling all sorts of geology-themed thingies. And you know I like a nice Spanish flavor. Something like… Mercado Geológica, f’r instance. Mega Mercado de la Verdad? Give me ideas! I rather suck at naming things. One of you has to be better.

Some of you may want to help out, but come up just as blank as I do on names. No problemo! You know what else you can do? Let me know what kind of products you’d like to see. I’m going to be opening up a store on Cafe Press or Zazzle or Red Bubble or some site like that, maybe more than one – what sort of stuff do you want me to put up there?

I’ll be doing some crafty sorts of things and selling them through Etsy. That store will include things like my scarves, mufflers, wraps, hair wraps, scrunchies, and such. Anyone interested in handkerchiefs or other simple little fabric things? I can do simple bags, throw pillows, pillow cases, and things like that. I’ll also be doing custom work, so if you need something done, hit me up for an estimate. I might be able to save you a ton of money on curtains, for instance. And if you have a bit of fabric needing turned in to something, let me know.

Outside of sewing, would you go in for hand-collected pebbles for fountains, Zen gardens for your desk, rock sample magnets, things like that? Would you like me to look in to what it would take to make and sell coal and rock candy?

I’ll be looking in to getting some necessary items soon, too. If any of you has a used rock tumbler that works well and is in good condition you’d like to sell, let me know.

Now, on to writing, which will be the main focus of this whole enterprise: I am most definitely doing the Mount St. Helens book so many of you have requested! Two, in fact: the one about the May 1980 eruption, and I’m going to also do a geology travel guide. Probably more than one, now I’ll have time to investigate the other roads to the mountain! And I’m hoping to write up the more recent dome-building eruption, too.

I’m also writing a geological guide to Discovery Park, a book on women in the geosciences, and will be collecting and expanding some of the best posts from both ETEV and Rosetta Stones.

I’ve got a ton of other things planned, but your ideas are always welcome, so if there’s a bit of geology (or any other subject) you’ve been wanting me to do a post on, let me know.

All right, I’m off to begin putting the house in some semblance of order. Hit me with all your suggestions and demands!

My Fish, Damn You! A Hungry Heron’s Tale

It’s been one of those weekends filled with fortunate happenstances. B’s household emptied out for a camping trip, so we took the place over. We could do what we wanted, when we wanted, so when the weather suddenly cleared late Saturday afternoon, we buggered off to Juanita for a nice walk and some vitamin D production. It was far less crowded than expected. There was only one gentleman and his dog birdwatching at the first cul-de-sac in the wetland, and one mighty large heron hanging about on a log.

A great blue heron, standing upon a half-submerged log, surrounded by pads that will soon be full of lilies.

A great blue heron, standing upon a half-submerged log, surrounded by pads that will soon be full of lilies.

It really was a tall bird. Here’s some perspective:

A wider version of the above, showing the bit of Juanita Bay where the heron fishes.

A wider version of the above, showing the bit of Juanita Bay where the heron fishes.

And there were red-wing blackbirds, one of whom would later cause our hungry heron some grief.

A red-wing blackbird hanging about on the cattails.

A red-wing blackbird hanging about on the cattails.

The heron was being boring. It didn’t look like it would move for the next century or so, and I got occupied looking at some unusual wetlands plants, and the gentleman was speculating upon when the heron would go fish, while the dog chilled and B associated with a duck. So the gentleman was the only one ready to get the whole sequence of the fast-moving action that came next, alas. It began with the heron spotting a catfish and spearing it in a flash, followed by the blackbird deciding that, even though the heron is enormous compared to it, that catfish was worth trying to steal. I saw the blackbird swoop down and harry the heron, but didn’t have time to swing the camera about until it had given up and gone away. Drat.

But I’m pretty damned happy with the shot I got just after the heron had turned away in a huff.

The heron, catfish in beak, crouched in the lily pads with its wings out.

The heron, catfish in beak, crouched in the lily pads with its wings out.

That, my friends, is the most magnificent photo of a heron I’ve ever managed. I’m in love with it.

You can tell this heron’s had it rough. It’s been scrapping with more than red-wing blackbirds, judging from the raw spot on its wing. So I’m quite pleased for it, managing to catch such a tasty fat fishy.

Our heron, posing prettily with the fishy in its beak, standing tall in triumph, and also wondering where it's going to go to get this thing off its beak without losing it.

Our heron, posing prettily with the fishy in its beak, standing tall in triumph, and also wondering where it’s going to go to get this thing off its beak without losing it.

It stood on the log for a bit, with the turtles looking on in admiration (and probably pretty smug about the whole evolving-armor thing). Then it waded off into the water.

Our heron treading off toward the shore, looking for a likely spot for lunch. You just know it's headed for some place in the tall grass or the cattails where we won't be able to watch nature being nature.

Our heron treading off toward the shore, looking for a likely spot for lunch. You just know it’s headed for some place in the tall grass or the cattails where we won’t be able to watch nature being nature.

And I managed one last shot as it crouched and readied itself to possibly fly away…

Our heron, complete with fish dinner, crouched and ready to spring into action, as a turtle dives at its feet, having decided this obtaining supper scheme sounds like a darned good idea.

Our heron, complete with fish dinner, crouched and ready to spring into action, as a turtle dives at its feet, having decided this obtaining supper scheme sounds like a darned good idea.

…but it actually just ended up hopping into a tall clump of grass. The gentleman said this heron likes doing that, so apparently it’s a regular here, and so should I be, if I want to get even more awesomesauce heron dining shots.

I got you some other lovely photos of various and sundry, which I’ll have up soonish. Right now, though, I have to go cuddle my kitty by way of apologizing for ditching her for other kitties for a night. It’s no consolation to her that neither Kirby nor Luna slept with me, nor that Kirby walked all the way down the hall and trod all over his daddy rather than just nudging me to navigate the few steps from couch to door to let him out this morning. Cats. They always go for the person who’ll have to work the hardest to meet their needs, don’t they?

As for those of you who may be wondering what became of the red-wing blackbird after his ill-fated attempt to steal from a heron, he went chuckling off into the rushes and appeared quite content. The gentleman with the dog says he regularly harries the herons. Once I’m free of ye olde daye jobe, I may just have to head down to see if I can capture another chapter in this story.

An End, A Beginning… and a possible major freakout

Today’s the day I put in two weeks’ notice. Ye olde daye jobe will soon be defunct, and I will be working for the worst boss of all: meownself.

People at work keep asking me if I’m sure. As if trading stability for risk is ever something you can be sure of.

Image shows a cat on a boat, staring at a bird on the dock. Caption says, "Risk vs. Reward. Choose wisely."Of course I’m not sure. I’m not sure my books will sell. I’m not sure the merchandise I’ve got planned will move (although I have a feeling you guys are going to love the stuff based on geology puns!). I’m not sure the economy won’t tank and flush me just as things begin to take off. Can’t be sure of anything.

Except.

I’m sure I can’t play it safe anymore.

I’m sure I want to step off that mountain, even though there’s no way of knowing if I’ll fall or fly.

I’m sure there’s a lot I want to do that I haven’t got time for now: so many books to write, and fun things to design, and adventures to go on.

I’m sure I’ve got the world’s best cheering section (that would be you, my darlings!).

And I’m sure the time is now. Because if not now, it’ll be never.

So I’m all in.

Image shows a squirrel sprawled on a deck with a thick scattering of seeds in front of it. Caption says, "Awl In"Two weeks, and the badge gets discarded forever. I kiss the sweet union-bargained benefits goodbye. I say sayonara to the steady paycheck. And probably panic a bit before I get my footing. Shit’s a little scary, y’know. But I’m ready to take the plunge, because even if I fall, I can manage to land somewhere soft enough. And who knows – maybe this is the day that I fly.

Wish me luck.

Moment of Beauty: Cherry Blossom Rain by Jane

Fruit Tree Blooming Season here was a bit tricky – we had lots of gorgeous blooms, of course, but we also had rain. Rain rain rain rain rain and heywhodaguessedit more rain. There would be these glorious intervals of sunshine, but they’d either be gone by the time you dug the camera out or they happened when you were otherwise occupied.

It made taking photos nigh impossible. But oh, the result when you could grab one of those moments and run with it! Jane caught a sun break with her new smartphone: a fleeting instant of breathtaking beauty, preserved with such clarity that you can feel the cool, rainswept breezes from the storm clouds and taste a perfect drop of rain on soft petals.

Image shows a cluster of cherry blossoms covered in raindrops.

“Here’s my picture of the cherry blossoms bursting with raindrops taken with a silly phone!” Image courtesy Jane.

You know, I never thought anything would make me pine for rain again now that we’ve finally had a few days without, but all of a sudden, I wouldn’t mind a few drops of the stuff.

…   …   ……….

You know what, let’s settle for a sprinkler instead.

I Think Jesus Probably Hates You

There’s a preacher man on The Ultimate Fighter 19. A lot of MMA fighters are religious; B and I have a good eye-roll at the ones who ink crosses and bible verses all over their bodies, and the ones who fall to their knees thanking God for helping them beat the shit outta that other Christian. But this is the first time I’ve seen an actual preacher in the cage.

Todd Monaghan getting ready to fight Daniel Spohn, TUF 19.

Todd Monaghan getting ready to fight Daniel Spohn, TUF 19.

I don’t think God actually likes this preacher – Todd Monaghan – very much. I mean, sure, Todd got to live the dream by submitting his opponent with an arm bar, thus winning a spot on the show. So far, so “God loves meeeee!” But then he got defeated his very first fight against an opponent who didn’t seem to like hitting preachers in the face. Daniel Spohn (who got into The Ultimate Fighter house by knocking a tough dude out cold in front of the dude’s mom) pretty much just dumped Todd on the ground and kept him there for the entire fight. His corner screamed at Spohn to score some points with some ground-and-pound. Dana White, lord and master of the UFC, nearly puked with boredom. But Spohn just kind of hugged and squeezed, while Mr. Man-o-God did not listen to the excellent advice being screamed at him by the two legendary fighters coaching him. Perhaps he couldn’t hear them over the sound of his praying. It ended with Todd basically being cuddled to defeat and the man who could make-or-break his MMA career thoroughly disgusted with him. God works in mysterious ways, eh, Preacher Todd?

Daniel Spohn hugging Todd Monaghan into submission.

Daniel Spohn hugging Todd Monaghan into submission.

Alas, he’s around for the whole season, because losers stay in the house to watch everyone else win. And he probably now believes God only wanted him there to win souls. Sigh. Happily, most of his preaching appears to have been left on the cutting room floor.

But it’s not the defeat that makes me think that if Jesus actually exists, he can’t stand Preacher Todd. It’s not even the fact Jesus doesn’t seem to want him preaching the gospel on teevee in between yakking to the audience about the other fighters. It’s the stuff Jesus has done for him that makes me wonder.

You see, Preacher Todd is a man who has been blessed by God. We got to hear all about it the Sunday before his defeat, when he gave a little sermon to the guys about how his life had been soooo shitty before God. He told ‘em how he’d been adopted by a white family in Iowa, who protected him from gangs and stuff, but couldn’t do his African-American hair right, so the black kids teased him. So he got into fights, and the next thing he knew – bam – he started “selling things I shouldn’t sell.” His life of crime doesn’t sound at all bad: all that robbing and stealing got him lots of nice things in college. He’d make at least $1,000 per weekend, so he had all the “ladies” he wanted, 5 pairs of gold teeth, more shoes than Imelda Marcos, and apparently no jail time worth mentioning.

Then his neighbor got all up in his face with some bible verses and knowing Christ as his savior, so he decided to do it “God’s way.” He didn’t say what that is, but did assure everyone that God blessed him with a Jaguar for his very first car after converting. Coulda been a Pinto, and “materials” aren’t important, he sez, but God gave him a Jaguar. And he’s not bragging or materialistic or anything, but God’s also blessed him with a camper and a boat and a brand new Tahoe. We weren’t told if the gold jewelry and Rolex watch he wears are also blessings or were purchased with the ill-gotten gains of his youth, but God surely has blessed Preacher Todd with many nice vehicles. That’s what you get when you are, and I quote, “taking care of business” for the Lord.

This is the point where I started laughing my ass off – I mean, seriously, a Baptist MMA fighter spouting all this Prosperity Gospel bullshit? LOLZ.

Now, I’m an atheist, and I really think Todd has managed to bless his own self with all this stuff, both back when he stole it and now that he’s earning it with the sweat of his brow. But something struck me that has never occurred to me before.

If we take this shit at face value, if there is a Jesus and he did say that shit attributed to him in the New Testament, such as:

It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of God. (Mark 10:25)

and really meant it:

Again, I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the Kingdom of God. (Matthew 19:24)

what does it mean if Jesus makes you rich?

Sounds to me like JC can’t stand Preacher Todd and all these other Prosperity Gospel ratfuckers, and is making absolutely damned sure he won’t have to spend eternity with them. I can tell you from personal experience that there is zero chance of any standard camel getting through the eye of quite large needles.

Image shows a dromedary camel standing in profile, with its head turned toward the camera. It appears to be smiling.

Standard camel. Rather too large to stuff even through a needle meant for yarn. Image courtesy Jjron via Wikimedia Commons.

Now, murderers, rapists, thieves, and other assorted assholes can repent and be saved, thus ensuring they end up in Heaven.

But do you really think these Prosperity Gospel greedlords will ever do what Jesus commands in Mark 10:21?

Image shows an orange and white cat lying atop an enormous stack of money, looking defensive. Caption says, MINENope.

Which means, if Jesus is making you rich, you might want to consider what that says about his long-term plans for you and your soul.

Squirrel!

You’ve not seen anything in life until you’ve seen a squirrel dragging a hunk of bread nearly half its size up a tree.

Image shows a squirrel perched in a tree with an enormous hunk of bread

Okay, I may be exaggerating the size of the bread a bit, but still, it was at least the size of a softball. And that squirrel wasn’t letting go for anything.

I love wild critters, and the way some of them have adapted to urban life. I love the mallards along the stream behind the ballfields who shamelessly demand food, and the crows who remember neighborly acts and never forget (although they may, eventually, forgive) a slight. I adore the adorable things they do. And I admire their moxie.

I imagine most of you have got stories. Do share!

Caption Kirby!

This is a true Captain Derp moment:

Image shows Kirby on the couch, hunched over with one hind leg sticking straight out, and a very startled, derpy look on his face.

Yer Werdz Heer

You know how adorable cats can be when they’re washing – all those limbs sticking out at odd angles, and the rather impressive contortion and so forth. So Kirby was being extra-adorbs, and I was snapping away, and then this moment happened. Great moments in cat derp, oy.

This photo begs to be turned into a meme. Meme-ify, my darlings!

New at Rosetta Stones: A Pretty Hawt Post

I’ve resurrected a fun old post from ancient days, and given it a sexy new video. All you fans of volcanic activity, especially the night stuff, should drop by and ogle.

And here’s a little something extra for ye: an amazing classic image of Mont Peleé in eruption by Angelo Heilprin, who was a braver human than I’ll ever manage.

Image shows several people watching a pyroclastic flow.

Image of Mont Pelee in eruption in 1902 by Angelo Heilprin, a geologist whose passion for knowledge told fear to fuck itself. Image courtesy Volcano World.

You should check out that Volcano World article. But only after you get intimate with mine!