A Life Well Lived: Happy 200th, Clara Barton

Clara Barton was born 200 years ago on December 25, 1821.  She died age 90 on April 12, 1912.

Unlike the mythical being allegedly born on this date, Barton existed.  She accomplished meaningful and tangible things and saved lives.  But given the obsession with “xmas”, her birthday will likely be overlooked everywhere except in feminist and atheist circles.

Barton began as a school teacher at age 18, founding and developing her own school.  But after being passed over for promotion to a less qualified man, she quit.  From 1854 until the US civil war began, she worked as a recording clerk in the US government patent office.

“I may sometimes be willing to teach for nothing, but if paid at all, I shall never do a man’s work for less than a man’s pay.”

During the US civil war, starting at 40, she began to work as a nurse.  While not formally trained (there were no nursing schools at the time), her education and experience made her a very capable leader and organizer both of people and resources, moving supplies and treating soldiers on the battlefield.

Her family were abolitionist and she shared that opposition to slavery long before the civil war.  She was also a civil rights activist, and a vocal supporter of women’s suffrage.  She also founded the National First Aid Association of America in 1904, encouraging emergency preparedness in the home.

Most importantly, Barton founded the US Red Cross.  From the RC website:

On May 21, 1881, Clara founded the American Red Cross, and by 1882, the U.S. ratified the Geneva Conventions — laws that, to this day, protect the war-wounded and civilians in conflict zones. This later resulted in a U.S. congressional charter, officially recognizing Red Cross services.

Clara Barton served as Red Cross president for 23 years, retiring in 1904. After a lifetime of service, Clara died at her home in Glen Echo, Maryland, on April 12, 1912.

To this day Clara’s legacy lives on, reflected in the spirit of Red Cross volunteers and employees. Because of one woman, Clara Barton, the American Red Cross brings help and hope across the nation and around the world.

Now there’s a life well lived, an actual person worthy of admiration.

Here are a few sites with more detail about Barton’s life:

Biography.com’s profile

The Clara Barton Museum

American Red Cross’ biography of Clara Barton

National Women’s History Museum

Six Days To Go: Today’s just another day

I meant to post yesterday so I could repost Madness’s song, “Tomorrow’s Just Another Day”.

First, something to celebrate today: Happy 75th anniversary to Taiwan and the signing of its consitution, which became law on January 1, 1947.

Second, links to some of my posts from the last two years:

2019: Today, I Work: Real things to celebrate on December 25th which includes a list of people’s birthdays, one of whom I’ll highlight elsewhere.

2019: 99.99% Sucks: I hate xmas ‘music’

2020: You Have To Laugh: December memes I’ve seen

Last year, I wrote “Now They Know: And they don’t like it“, a semi-mocking post about captive audiences, and how the religious were experiencing what atheists and LGBTQIA people suffer through every December, trapped with “family” and nowhere to go.

In most years when I say “nobody owns December” and “I don’t do xmas”, some people get testy and say I’m “ruining other people’s fun”.  This year, such things have been noticeably absent.  Are they getting it now, after two years of being locked in and unable to travel?  “Hell is other people,” as Jean-Paul Sartre wisely noted.

I have to wonder how it will be if “things go back to normal”.  I’m betting that for the first year, everyone will travel like they used to.  Then in the second year, they’ll realize how much they hate the travel, the stress, the expense, the guilt trips, etc. and stop doing it.  As seen recently, Ireland’s catholic cult is in crisis, with revenues down as much as 80%.  After the lockdowns ended and people could start attending church again, they didn’t.  They probably enjoyed the free time, the lack of guilt, the absense of hypocrisy, and saving money.

Now for some fun.

Damn.  Someone has exposed our war on xmas.

There are more amusing pics below the fold.

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Fools And Their Money Are Soon Departed: The ignorant will buy anything

And when I say “they will buy anything”, I mean both financially and believing nonsense.

It’s bad enough that conspiracy “theory” pinheads believe and spew nonsense.  There are hilarious stories of people separating fools from their money.  Remember the fools who bought Faraday cages to “protect their wi-fi”?

But it’s worse when the unscrupulous people don’t care if they hurt people.  This might be worse than when companies in China used lead paint and melanine in products.

Anti-5G necklaces found to be radioactive

The Dutch authority for nuclear safety and radiation protection (ANVS) issued a warning about ten products it found gave off harmful ionising radiation.

It urged people not to use the products, which could cause harm with long-term wear.

There is no evidence that 5G networks are harmful to health.

[. . .]

“Don’t wear it any more, put it away safely and wait for the return instructions,” the ANVS said in a statement.

“The sellers in the Netherlands known to the ANVS have been told that the sale is prohibited and must be stopped immediately, and that they must inform their customers about this.”

Conspiracy theories have fuelled a market of “anti-5G” devices that are typically found to have no effect.

In May 2020, the UK’s Trading Standards sought to halt sales of a £339 USB stick that claimed to offer “protection” from 5G.

Watters’ Call To Kill: An assassin’s screed

You can tell which side “law enforcement” is on when white male rightwingnuts can openly incite assassination attempts with impunity, but calling for the trial, conviction and sentencing of rightwingnuts (i.e. giving them due process) is considered a “threat” or “violates terms of service” on websites.  When even that phrase, white male, will get you in trouble.

And we’re supposed to believe commercial and social media are “run by leftists”?

Fauci says Fox News’ Jesse Watters should ‘be fired on the spot’ for ‘kill shot’ comments

Dr. Anthony Fauci called out the “crazy” threats made against him by Fox News Channel’s Jesse Watters, saying Tuesday that Watters “should be fired on the spot.”

Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease doctor, responded in an appearance on CNN’s “New Day” to comments Watters made over the weekend to the conservative, pro-Trump youth group Turning Point USA.

Watters, a conservative provocateur, told the group to “ambush” Fauci in the streets and to record a rhetorical “kill shot.”

“That’s horrible. I mean, that is such a reflection of the craziness that goes on in society,” said Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. “The only thing that I have ever done throughout these two years is to encourage people to practice good public health practices, to get vaccinated, to be careful in public settings, to wear a mask, and for that you have some guy out there saying that people should be giving me a kill shot, to ambush me?”

In his remarks to the far-right youth group, Watters appeared to link Fauci to wild conspiracy theories that connect him to allegations of biowarfare.

“Now you’re going for the kill shot. The kill shot with an ambush [is] deadly, because he doesn’t see it coming,” Watters told the crowd.

Imagine the backlast if anyone said “verbally confront Watters and Tucker Carlson face to face!”  I would be taken as an incitement to commit violence.

Fox Nuisance isn’t news, it isn’t even opinion or propaganda anymore.  It’s the new Fiery Cross.


How Attitudes Change: Remember Legionnaires’ Disease?

I recently cited one of Fascinating Horror’s videos (the Harrington Event, about solar flares).  Another appeared this week about the Legionnaires’ Disease epidemic.  Here’s the US CDCs writeup on the disease.

Ex-US military were holding events at the Bellvue Stratford Hotel in Philadelphia in July 1976, some sort of bicentennial event.  Unbeknownst to everyone there, the hotel’s air conditioning system was spreading a then unknown bacterium, legionella.  It caused a form of pneumonia which can have mild symptoms or be fatal if untreated, and can be spread.

When the hotel was identified as the source (affecting staff, guests and even passersby who didn’t enter the hotel), what was the response of those had been in the military?  To say “my body, my choice!”, to claim “legionnaires doesn’t exist!” and refuse to cooperate with doctors?

No.  They cooperated, gave samples, isolated or hospitalized themselves to prevent the spread of the disease.  Read PBS’s history of Legionnaires’ Disease and how it was identified, how people cooperated in the investigation.  Too bad those today (US military and cops) don’t share the same sense of responsibility to society when it comes to COVID-19.

More below the fold.

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As I’ve Asked Before: Why isn’t today New Year’s Day?

Happy solstice day.

Because the perigee, apogee, and 23° axis of the planet are the reasons for the seasons.

Speaking of New Year’s Eve/Day, the subway in Taipei will operate for 42 hours straight from Friday morning until Saturday night, allowing drunk revellers to get to and from events both days.  My empathies to those heroes, I hope they’re getting paid double time.  My sister Kat wants to watch the fireworks at midnight near Taipei 101 (here’s video of the event from two years ago), but I can’t find a pair of noise cancelling headphones that fit into a purse.

Chinese New Year 2022 (year of the tiger) is on Tuesday February 1st, which will be a nice change.  For the past five years, CNY started mid-week, only lasting six days.  2016 was the last weekend to weekend CNY, nine consecutive days off.  We need it.

Too bad nobody can travel anywhere, though.

Gabriel Lusts: Anti-gay bishop quits over sex scandal

But not the sex scandal you normally imagine.

Xavier Novell was a Spanish bishop in the catholic cult, rabidly anti-gay and promoted the torture of “conversion therapy”.  He was an extremist, even for them.

At least he’s not a pedophile.

Anti-gay bishop quit to marry author of satanic erotica

Spain’s Roman Catholic episcopal conference yesterday removed the right of anti-gay Bishop Xavier Novell to undertake any religious duties. The conference confirmed that Novell quit the church last month to marry Silvia Caballol, a writer of satanic erotica.

Xavier Novell became Spain’s youngest bishop in 2010 aged just 40, presiding over the 12th-century Solsona Cathedral. He previously endorsed conversion therapy and carried out the occasional exorcism. His strident opposition to gay rights led to battles within the Spanish Church. One well-known nun described him as ‘out of his mind’ for promoting conversion therapy.

[. . .]

Silvia Caballol is divorced, a psychologist and writes fiction, specifically satanic erotica.

Her books include The Hell of Gabriel’s Lust. She promises the reader a journey into sadism, madness and lust and a struggle between good and evil, God and Satan. She says the plot will shake your values and religious beliefs.

Well, it certainly worked for the bishop – gave his values, or something, a good shake.

I like the QNews writer’s sense of humour.

ROGD Is: Rabid, outlandish, and grossly dishonest

There is no evidence for rapid-onset gender dysphoria (ROGD).  It is the equivalent of phrenology, a load of garbage used to attack and deny the existence of Transgender youth, to justify torturing them and driving them to suicide by denying health care.

You can be sure that TERF trash and other anti-Trans bigots will quote unqualified quacks and deny that the University of Western Ontario is a credible source of research.  The original paper can be read here.

Study Dispels Harmful Gender Dysphoria Myth

A first-of-its-kind study by Schulich Medicine & Dentistry researchers dispels a controversial gender dysphoria theory that activists and experts have called inaccurate and harmful to transgender people.

Greta Bauer, Ph.D., and her team at Trans Youth CAN! found no evidence in a recent study to support the idea of rapid onset gender dysphoria (ROGD)—a proposed condition often used as an argument against providing gender-affirming medical care to young people.

“It’s impacting policy, and there is no research on any actual adolescents that supports this hypothesis,” said Bauer, professor in the department of epidemiology and biostatistics at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry and the CIHR Sex and Gender Science Chair.

[. . .]

In 2018, researchers in the U.S. claimed ROGD was a unique pathway in which youth going through puberty experienced sudden gender dysphoria influenced by social and peer contagion along with other factors including poor mental health or parent-child conflict.

Bauer said that paper has “taken on a life of its own” in the three years since its publication, purporting that youths’ gender identity could be influenced by their queer peers and fuelling the notion that young people might identify as trans or non-binary as part of a temporary phase.

“The ROGD hypothesis perpetuates the fear that says, ‘you shouldn’t let your kids hang out with trans people.’ It’s harmful,” Bauer said. “Socially, that’s a really horrible message and ostracizing for youth who are trans or non-binary.”

The only thing that exposure to Transgender people did to Transgender kids was tell them they’re not wrong, that it’s not a “fad”, “transtrending” or akin to “contagious suicide”.

Transitioning saves lives.  That’s why bigots oppose it, they want Transgender and Non-Binary people to die.


Ready, Aim, Fire: A supersonic trebuchet exists

This is beyond cool.

David Eade (an engineer or engineering student, I don’t know) produced a video about trying to build a supersonic trebuchet.  Eight minutes of it (1:00-9:00) are engineering equations that will make your head swim, but he demonstrates how to design (and what materials to use) and build his trebuchet.

The frame is wood, the elastic is rubber, and the arm is titanium.  He calculates that the projectile is fired at over 400 metres per second.  That’s 1440 kilometres per hour, which is faster than the speed of sound.  You can actually hear the sonic boom in some of his test fires.


And sorry to harp, this also demonstrates how to make videos, very pleasant to watch and easy on the brain.

Rush Day Is Coming Soon: More calendar fun

As Rush fans will tell you (“yes, they ALWAYS tell us!” I hear you respond), December 21st is deemed Rush Day because it can be abbreviated to 21/12.

However, this year is a little different since it’s 2021.  In nine days’ time, just after midday, the calendar and clock will read (using YY/MM/DD HH:MM:SS):

21/12/21 12:21:12

Have fun with it.

This year is also different because both side one and side two of “2112” have relevance to current events.  “A Passage To Bangkok” and vaccines.  “Twilight Zone” and bizarro rightwing politics.  “Lessons” and the unwillingness to learn.  “Tears” and the sense of loss.  “Something For Nothing” and arrogance of the ignorant.

Have you ever noticed the ending lyrics of the “2112” suite?  “Attention all planets of the solar federation” and “We have assumed control” are repeated three times each, 21 words and 12 words.  And if the suite clocked in at 20:39 instead of 20:36, it would have been 33 seconds short (21+12) of being 21:12 in length.

I’d Like To Know: Exactly which date does politeness become “offensive”?

Why is it that language and phrases spoken from January to November suddenly become “offensive” in December? When is the exact starting date that it happens so I can avoid those people?

There is no “war on xmas”, but there certainly is a guerilla war on basic civility perpetrated by those who want everyone to participate in “xmas”.

For example, this is a common conversation in October:

          Me:    "Happy Hallowe'en!"
          Them:  "See you on Monday!"
          Me:    [friendly smile, waves]

Then, there’s this common conversation from December:

          Them:  "Merry xmas!"
          Me:    "See you on Monday!"
          Them:  "WHY DON'T YOU JUST TELL ME TO GO **** MYSELF?"

This may be an exaggeration, but there’s a grain of truth.  I’d wager most reading who have been an atheist for over ten years have experienced something similar.  Someone said “merry cheezwhiz” or somesuch, and you responded with one of these phrases or something similar:

          "take care"
          "see you soon / on Monday"
          "have a nice night / weekend"

and you were labled “difficult”, “offensive”, or “trying to ruin other people’s fun”.

There words didn’t suddenly become “offensive” overnight.  The “war” types are demanding participation, whether they admit to it or not.

Let’s Remember: Steve Bronski, 1960-2021

Steve Bronski has died (born Steve Forrest, February 7, 1960 to December 9, 2021), age 61. He was a “Smalltown Boy” who made a big splash, creating an all-time classic song and video that spoke to and for a generation of young LGBTQIA people.  When you live in a society that doesn’t want you, despises you or outright hates you, knowing you’re not alone makes a difference.

Steve Bronski: co-founder of Bronski Beat dies aged 61

Steve Bronski, a founding member of the influential British synth-pop trio Bronski Beat, has died, a source close to the group has confirmed. The BBC reported his age as 61. No cause of death was given.

His bandmate Jimmy Somerville described him as a “talented and very melodic man”.

“Working with him on songs and the one song that changed our lives and touched so many other lives, was a fun and exciting time. Thanks for the melody, Steve.”

Bronski, AKA Steven Forrest, formed the band alongside Somerville and Larry Steinbachek in 1983. All three members of the band were out as gay and sought to counter what they perceived as the inoffensive nature of the era’s gay performers by embracing explicitly political themes in their music. America’s Spin magazine described them as “perhaps the first real gay group in the history of pop”.

See below the fold for more about that.

When the song came out in 1984, I was seventeen and NOT out, still in my rabid Metalhead phase, still trying to hide my preferences and identity.  It was a small (minded) town and family that were rabidly gay hating, racist, and redneck, so the song was not popular.  (It is any wonder I haven’t communicated with anyone in twenty years?)  I couldn’t admit how the song resonated with me and I identified with it, admit to listening to or liking it.  But I still did.

(Don’t get me wrong.  Listening to Metal wasn’t done to “compensate” or put up a macho front.  In recent years, I’m listening to more and more Black Metal and Death Metal than ever.  Looking back, I wish Rob Halford had come out as gay in the 1980s instead of waiting until 1998.  I would have been a bigger Priest fan than Iron Maiden, though I still liked both.)

The song made a difference to millions of people’s lives, to know that somebody felt the same things, had the same experiences.  When you learn for the first time that you’re not the only one who feels this way, it changes your view of the world.  It gives you hope.


More below:

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Knocked Down Again: PLEASE don’t tell me I need a booster shot

My employer booked and organized the first vaccination back in July, which I received.  The school was supposed to organize the second in October, but the appointment was never made.  To get the numbers up and make it easier, the government set up public vaccination sites, the largest at Taipei’s Main Station.  I went there and got my second shot two days ago.

In July, I received AstraZeneca and was knocked down for four days.  Not the worst symptoms, but awful.  On Wednesday, it was Moderna which the CECC approves as a second shot for those with AZ as their first.  And just as before, I’ve been floored with symptoms.  No fever this time nor the worst symptoms (e.g. no shortness of breath, no signs of a heart attack like arm pain), but aches everywhere, chills, nausea and others for the last 48 hours.  I hope I can start going out by Sunday.



To increase the percent of people vaccinated and reduce outliers or wild cards, the CECC promised to let undocumented workers receive vaccinations without fear of arrest.  If people here are working and going around without health care coverage, there’s a strong chance of them spreading it, so this was a good idea.

Unfortunately, some genius hospital employee decided to turn in a Philippine woman without documentation who showed up for a vaccine, whereupon she was arrested.  Brilliant.  What do you think other undocumented workers are going to do now?  Show up, knowing that the promise will be broken?  Even if it wasn’t the CECC leadership that violated the promise, this will damage the trust and voluntary compliance we’ve seen thus far.

More below. . . .

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