I’m More Moral than the Religious Right

how-to-deal-with-the-bboc-big-bully-on-campus-bjodqt-clipartThis is going to be a gloating victory lap. I get to puff out my chest in pride, raise my fist to the wind (maybe flip it the bird), and let out a loud “Fuck yeah! I’m better than them!”

What? You say pride goeth before a fall, Religious Right?

Donald Trump.

You say it’s wrong to swear?

Donald Trump.

What’s that you say? I’m not allowed to have sex before marriage?

Donald Trump?

I can’t get divorced and remarried?

Donald Trump.

I have the perfect…er…trump card to EVERYTHING they throw at me now! Donald Trump is their guy. And he is the embodiment of everything they have ever been against, holding their stone-age book of rules (extrapolated eisegetically for the common era) over the heads of those they deem unworthy of their hateful god.

But that’s not really my point. No. I’m actually better than them. Not only do they now have no leg to stand on, with respect to their faux holiness, but they also are defending the very acts that they accuse we atheists of partaking in, simply because we can. After all, the Religious Right holds that morality is dictated by God and without God there can be no morality. Remove God and you have anarchy. Every man for himself. Every woman for herself.

Except that’s not really how morality works. Those with their heads out of their dusty Bible cover scented asses understand this acutely. Simply put, if it takes a God to prove to me that I cannot grab a woman by the pussy, I’m no better than a worm.

And that’s my point. I understand that a woman’s snatch, hootch, box, vagina…whatever she wants to call it, is hers. She’s the owner, just as I am the owner of my penis, and nobody has the right to grab it without my permission (unless, of course, I’m about to fall over the edge of a bridge, my pants come off, and some good Samaritan is flailing to grab onto something – anything – to stop my inevitable tumble. Then, of course, he or she (or it, if it’s a dog’s jowls) can grab it). I don’t need a god to tell me this.

More to the point, I won’t defend those who say they can do it. And that’s why I’m better.

The Biggest Scandal of the Year

stream_imgShe mocks my iPhone.

In June, 2015, I wept as I gave up my Windows Phone, replete with the beautiful and intelligent voice of Cortana, and moved over to the iPhone 6. I wept because I hate being like everyone else and had held out hope, for two years, that the technology would improve, people would catch wind of the perfection that was the Windows Phone, and move to the platform in droves.

In the span of two years, the technology continually broke down where I had to get my phone replaced exactly eight times. My cell carrier, Verizon, had trained their people to deal with tech problem on the iPhone and Samsung’s line of devices, but had failed to give their technicians even a brochure that the Windows Phone existed. Not to mention, the Windows Store app library was so unpopular, the only Google apps available were third party. And those broke every time Google changed their API. And I needed Google.

So I went to the iPhone. My wife was on a Samsung S5, or whatever the hell they called them then. I had watched as she struggled to remove simple storage, in order to free up space to just send texts. I watched as the battery life and charging abilities made you feel like you were using heavy duty batteries from the dollar store. I watched as saving and watching videos took half-a-dozen finger touches to get where you wanted to be. And I went with the iPhone.

She has laughed at me every day since. Whenever Samsung announced a new feature, she would laugh. Every time she put her phone on the wireless charger (which is still wired to the wall), she would laugh. Whenever she heard that Apple was removing a time-tested, standard feature, she would laugh. Every time she saw me purchase an official Apple accessory or a charger, for exorbitant prices, she would laugh.

And I took it. Humbly, with silent gloating eyes of intrepid pride. I knew I was hooked. Hooked with the ease of this device I held in my hands. A device that would sometimes get warm, but would never explode or melt my nether regions. A device that never required me to delete OS backup files, in order to get 1K extra space to send a text. A device that the FAA gladly let me take onto a plane. A device THAT. JUST. WORKED. I’m not a gadget guy and don’t spend three seconds in an entire year, messing with the configuration of my iPhone. It looks nearly the same as it did when I took it out of the box last year (except for that large crack on the bottom of the screen).

So when the Samsung Note 7 began to melt, causing the company to halt production, kill the entire thing, and lose $20 billion off their market cap, I expected an apology. A tearful one. One done on her knees, wringing her hands in the style of the old black and white motion pictures. I imagined the softness of her lovely face, even softer around the edges, lit with the rays of a sunbeam straight from the heavens, as she wept in non-contrivance, begging me to forgive her, acknowledging that I had been right all along.

And nothing. Nothing but silence.

It’s bloody difficult to be so humble.

“Holy Shit, The Donald Has Scored!”

51gsrq4zt3l-_ac_ul320_sr202320_By now, everyone has heard that comment from Billy Bush on the infamous 2005 recording.

“Holy Shit, The Donald has scored!”

It is clear that Bush is referring to Arianne Zucker, who is seen wearing a purple dress, and quite uncomfortable with the entire exchange. But The Donald hadn’t “scored.”

To “score” in popular culture, means to get the girl. Whether one is talking about a quick shag betwixt the sheets or even just a wink and a nod in your direction. I’ve given my wife a high five when she has scored an enviable triple-take from a lovely gentleman. In short, there is a definite connection between both parties.

Except, in this case, there wasn’t. Donald and Billy Bush were sitting on the bus, behind windows that were painted over, clearly unable to be seen from the outside. They saw Zucker walking up to the bus and Bush uttered the word “scored.” I’ve seen this phenomenon before.

“I’ve gazed upon, I liked, and thus it was my right to have.”

I have a dear friend in Arizona that plays the Russian roulette game of OK Cupid and other nefarious dating sites. As a woman, she gets the pleasure of being introduced to every filthy assault that men can throw at her. But one in particular always gets to me: The perceived right for a man to be acknowledged. And it isn’t just that the man demands acknowledgment. It’s that he feels that, if he gazes upon the woman and likes what he sees, regardless of his intentions, he deserves to be vetted.

The following is a typical conversation:

Male (2:07 PM): “Hi.”

Male (2:08 PM): “You look hot.”

Male (2:34 PM): “Fine, you racist cunt!”

Again, I look at this one-person interaction (which is exactly what it is) and see that the man has claimed a sort of ownership over the woman, at 2:07 PM. Not 2:34 PM. 2:34 PM is when he decides that his victim has not performed the correct master/slave ritual, and must be put in her place. This man sees he has scored, by simply happening across the woman’s online profile, and thus can require the woman to prove why she should not be owned by him, if but for a little while.

Billy Bush and Donald Trump are like these men. Arianne Zucker looked pleasing to them, thus they had “scored.” Arianne Zucker’s desires, independence, and most importantly, her inalienable and equal set of human rights, was removed from the equation, the power given to the leering men.

No, Billy Bush. The Donald had not scored. Quite the contrary. As he was filling his face full of minty-fresh Tic Tacs, preparing for a sexual assault, a talented young woman was strolling toward history, holding in her being every right to knee a billionaire in the balls.

The Art of the Deal: A Broccoli Cheese Soup Tale

broccoli-cheese-soup_5992At the end of August, my bride and I surprised the kids, waking them up at 4:00AM, having packed the previous day, and told them to get dressed and get ready for a week in Colorado. We were taking them on a plane for the first time in most of their lives. The older three had vacationed to Maine many years ago, flying on the old Midwest Airlines (I miss them so much), but nobody actually remembered the experience.

They were so excited.

During that week, we stayed on a ranch in south central Colorado, about 12-miles from a horse ranch where you could ride horses – and eat. The place was owned by a lovely couple and their mother cooked the food for the guests. One morning, when my wife and girls got back from riding, we sat down and ordered food.

Laura (13) ordered a large bowl of broccoli cheese soup, The Freak (6) ordered some nondescript sandwich  with a pile of large fries, and Fred (11…also, he has decided he does not like to be called Frederic anymore) ordered another forgettable sandwich with massive onion rings on the side.

Fred and Laura despise each other. Their personal hatred for one another is greater than the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

“Fred, can I have some of your onion rings? I can trade some soup,” Laura asked.

“No.”

That was it. No explanation. Just a quick and dirty rejection with no fanfare.

“Laura, can I have some of your soup? I’ll give you some fries,” Analisse (The Freak) piped up.

“I don’t want fries. I want onion rings! Daddy! Fred won’t trade me his onion rings!”

I shrugged, ignoring the tattling. It had been like this the entire vacation and I was simply tired of it. Ignoring it didn’t make it go away, caused me even more stress, but gave the semblance that I was actually indifferent to the pointless non-issues at hand.

Laura slumped in a huff and made noises of disgust.

“Fred, can I have an onion ring for three of my fries,” Analisse asked.

“Sure!”

Over the cries of unfairness by Laura, The Freak crossed to Fred’s table, summarily dropping four fries (one more for a reason you’ll soon see) on his plate, grabbed the largest onion ring (which Fred couldn’t argue about now, being she gave him extra fries), walked over to Laura’s table, dropped the onion ring on her plate, grabbed the spoon without so much as a polite request, and slurped down an ample helping of soup.

Fred was pissed. Here, his archenemy got an onion ring, when he had worked his rear  end off keeping it from Laura. He made it quite clear that he didn’t want Laura to have it even then.

“It’s not your onion ring, Fred. It was mine,” Analisse giggled.

Fred had no case and was left mumbling under his breath. He had been bested. Everyone had been bested.

And The Freak’s stomach was full of warm soup.

Hello Again. People Have Been Asking Me to Write

So I’m writing.

I realize I’ve been away for a while. I’m still alive. I have a lot to say, but much more to ruminate on. A few months ago, I was full of words and things happened. The words evaporated while my thoughts needed to mature. After all, I’m only 36-years-old. That’s too young to be right about everything and too old to be wrong about most things.

I’m still married, still dating other women, still a daddy, and still a fucking atheist. In fact, after watching the Religious Right defending the non-consensual grabbing of the pussy, I’m even more of an atheist. I’m so amused at the curtain finally coming down and revealing the wizard.

Trump is a good Toto.

Anyway, I’ll write more…

Love you all,

Joe Sands

My Son Wants to be a Cop

goodcopbadcopIt was July 4th, in Lakeville, Minnesota. We had just been witness to the worst fireworks show since Christopher Columbus arrived on our fair shores, the natives celebrating with their Gattling guns, shooting glittered cherry pits into the air, peppering the smelly white folk with scented ash (hey…if David Barton can embellish history, I can too!).

We had a long walk back to the car. Two blocks, that is. Long Lakeville blocks. Traffic was everyone, everyone trying at once to get back home, faster than the next person. At 10:30PM on a Monday night, who wouldn’t want to be home faster than everyone else?

Police whistles cut the air and hurt your ears, the closer you came to an intersection. As we waited at the corner, Fred (11) watched with pure happiness on his face, as the officers waved their lighted wands, directing traffic against the lights. Then, they let us go, whistling unnecessarily, somewhat irritable.

Stepping off the curb onto the street, Fred stumbled over the feet of the crowd, making sure to continually catch a glimpse of the officers with every step he took. Pure joy was on his face.

“Daddy, I’m going to be a cop when I grow up, so I can do that.”

I bristled. A cop? You mean that police force that feels as if they’re on the clock when they encounter someone with a mental health condition? You mean the officers that treat me like a criminal during a simple traffic stop? You mean those men in blue that spout racist comments on social media, even encouraging people to run over protesters and activists calling for equal justice and actual due process, as afforded by our Constitution? You mean the men and women who sit on top of defenseless human being, citizens with every right to exist, and shoot them in the back? You mean those?

But I didn’t say that. I looked at my son and saw a generation of rebirth. One cog in the wheel of changing the system that my generation is attempting to start for him. He would have the opportunity to be a foot soldier in a new era of policing. One with recognition of rights and equality. One with empathy, sense of community, restraint, trustworthiness, yes, even love.

“Which kind? A good cop or a bad cop?”

With a look of utter disdain, side-eyeballing me with deep suspicion, wondering why the hell I have the audacity to question his character, he muttered under his breath, “You know the one, of course.”

I tousled his hair as we stepped up on the curb on the other side of the street, hoping the system won’t get to him before he brings hell to them.

I Get Comments: Thanks for the Laugh

maxresdefaultI posted a eulogy to the Dunn Bros Coffee shop in my lowly town and a reader by the handle of blf left the following comment, which gave me a good chuckle:

Weirdly, when I lived in the States, I tended to drink tea — even though most USAliens have no idea how to make the stuff — at least until I moved to Santa Cruz, where it’s illegal to be more than c.10 metres from a coffee shop. Then I discovered espresso.

So in England, I drank coffee. Despite the English having a clew how to make tea. And espresso being, initially, at the time, a weird foreign thing…

In France, where it is again illegal to be more than a few metres from a cafe, moar espresso! So the typical day is: Get up. Stumble towards the the nearest cafe. Realize I forget to put clothes on and stumble back… Stumble back, dressed. Have a croissant and a café. Stumble slightly less to the cafe. Café. Walk more-or-less upright to the bus terminal. Vending-machine pseudo-café. With a foul taste in the mouth and fully awake, wish the bus had a pissoir. Arrive near work, which is slightly closer than the cafe. And has a WC. Relived, get first espresso in the break room. Sit down at desk, get up, and go back to the WC. (Repeat…)

And then there’s the vin

Now I want to move to France.

Dunn Bros Coffee Shut Down in Farmington, MN

Farmington-3I’m sad. Actually, I’m very sad.

When I was 19, my uncle took me to a lumber yard. Scherer Bros, to be exact, located in Northeast Minneapolis, Minnesota. All I remember about this yard was that my uncle suggested I partake in the forbidden elixir of coffee from the burnt sludge corporate pot on the counter. I grabbed a styrofoam cup and poured an ample serving, lifting the hot drink to my lips, and fell in love.

That was my first real coffee experience, as well as my last for a week or so. When the sober period ended, I found myself walking downtown, past an old building with a Dunn Bros Coffee sign on the front. Knowing that the rest of the world drank Starbucks and that vile Minnesota brand of Caribou Coffee, I wanted to be different. So I walked up the steps and entered the rest of my life.

When we bought our home in Farmington, there was a Dunn Bros Coffee shop at the edge of town. Excited as I was, and many a dollar spent there, I knew it wouldn’t last. It received very little business on a day to day basis, something that would maybe support a single-employee, independently owned shop, but definitely not a franchise.

And so it closed. And I was and am sad. In its place is now Blue Nose Coffee, an independent venture. The interior still smells of paint, their coffee selection smaller than their shelf of bottled Gatorade, and really nothing much to draw me there on an early Sunday morning. The one thing going for this place is that the cup feels good in my hand.

I’ll miss you Dunn Bros. But really, can we get a few Tim Horton’s down here?

The Benham Brothers Make Me Laugh

billysunday30The spaghettified loop dee loos that the Christian Right have to go through to palatabalize their support for Donald Trump sometimes leaves me in fits of giggles. It’s quite a faux pas for them to be honest, along with most voters today, and admit that they are loyal to the party that panders to at least one of their sacred cows. In many words, spoken by religious leaders, it is noted that not voting Republican is a sin.

Enter the Benham brothers, twin sons of Flip Benham, a virulently anti-gay and anti-Muslim…hell…anti-anything-but-born-again-Christian, procurators of a television show that was cancelled before it even aired, whence their anti-gay views were discovered.

When asked what we thought about Trump’s silence we simply responded, “We cannot expect political leaders to faithfully engage the spiritual battle over the shedding of innocent blood when many of our spiritual leaders refuse to address the issue from the pulpit anyway. Donald Trump’s silence simply mirrors the silence of the church as a whole for the past 40-plus years.”

In other words, Christians are hypocritical because they haven’t been anything but silent over the issue of abortion, so therefore Donald Trump’s silence is off limits.

Seriously?

For a couple of blokes who have been plugged in to the Martyred Right speaking circuit, with thousands, nay millions of fans, worldwide, how can these two possibly think that Christians are not speaking up (specifically from the pulpit) about abortion? Quite frankly, young pups, that issue used to be the only issue Republicans voted on for nearly 30 years, ever since Ronald Reagan made it a central theme of his presidency. Being anti-LGBT is all the rage now, with abortion sliding over to the passenger seat, yet still front and center for pandering pols.

Also, Donald Trump actually did make a (sort of) statement about the decision, saying that, if he had been President, things would have taken a much different path. The only problem is, the court decision was a 5 – 3 ruling, rendering any appointed justice Trump could have slid in there, irrelevant.

But why let facts get in the way of voting your conscience…or your party…or whatever reason you vote these days?

The Freak Will Not Be Repeating Kindergarten

IMG_3501Some of you may remember when I asked the question, Is Repeating Kindergarten a Good Idea? I received many comments with a variety of different viewpoints. I also posted the question on Facebook. There was no consensus except, “do what’s best for Analisse,” aka The Freak.

So, what’s best is…

She won’t be taking it over again. She’s graduating and moving to the first grade. She’s taking summer school now and tearing the training wheels off her bike before her older brother does – an allegory I feel has a bit to do with how much she wants to grow up and tackle new experiences.

I’m going to be reading to her a lot this summer. Also, her teachers and a large team of specialists got together and ran her through bunches of aptitude and cognizance tests and declared her “in no need of special education.”

Onward she shall go.