Days of grief and rage

Some days, I just want to lie in bed and cry. Cry for the dead, for the families of the dead, for this country. This video hit me hard.

If you’re at all human and humane, you have to feel the same.

But then, it also reveals that there are monsters among us. Ted Cruz was hogging the cameras with his ridiculous claim that we could solve the school shooting problem with doors and cops, anything but controlling access to slaughter guns. Republicans lined up to defend guns, not people. Not even children.

[Trolling parody deleted.]

And the trolls and liars and conspiracy theorists

Predictably, the worst of the lot were the white-nationalist-friendly trolls at the message board 4chan, who trotted out photos of a Hispanic transgender woman who they claimed was the shooter—a claim that was promptly debunked on Reddit, where the person whose photos were being used chimed in and denounced the claims as utterly and obviously bogus, since she didn’t even live in Texas and couldn’t possibly be the shooter.

However, that didn’t stop the bogus claim that the shooter was a transgender woman from spreading far and wide on social media, bolstered both by Jones’ Infowars program and by prominent far-right figures like race troll Candace Owens, white nationalist Dave Reilly, and Congressman Paul Gosar. Other Republicans wondered aloud whether the shooter—identified by law enforcement as 18-year-old Uvalde resident Salvador Ramos—was an “illegal immigrant.”

Are you angry yet? If you aren’t, what’s wrong with you?

Little human beings were murdered, if you need a reminder

Looking for more depressing content? The Washington Post has started compiling profiles of the victims of the Uvalde murders. If you want to see photos of little 10 year old kids smiling for the camera before they were executed, go on, get heartbroken.

By the way, for all the people who think the solution is arming teachers, the gunman got past armed cops who were hiding behind their cars while the slaughter was going on. Jesus.

What kind of sick coward murders 14 children?

Another mass shooting.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said 14 students and a teacher were killed in a mass shooting at a school in the city of Uvalde on Tuesday.

Abbott said Salvador Ramos, an 18-year-old Uvalde resident, entered the school with a handgun and may have been carrying a rifle. Inside the school, a gunman “shot and killed — horrifically, incomprehensibly” more than a dozen children and a teacher, said Abbott (R). The gunman is also dead, and it is believed that officers responding to the scene killed him, Abbott said.

Since this is Texas, the response is not going to be sensible gun control. Instead, Attorney General Ken Paxton. wants to arm teachers. More guns.

That is the most likely change we’ll see. We know congress will do nothing.

Patriarchy poisons everything

This is Franklin Graham, evangelical leader of the Southern Baptist convention, son of Billy Graham, yesterday, the 23rd of May. He’s got his priorities.

What’s somewhat surprising about this is that the day before, the Washington Post broke the news of a major scandal among the Southern Baptists. You’d think this should be a 5-alarm crisis for the evangelical leadership.

Leaders in the Southern Baptist Convention on Sunday released a major third-party investigation that found that sex abuse survivors were often ignored, minimized and “even vilified” by top clergy in the nation’s largest Protestant denomination.

The findings of nearly 300 pages include shocking new details about specific abuse cases and shine a light on how denominational leaders for decades actively resisted calls for abuse prevention and reform. They also lied to Southern Baptists over whether they could maintain a database of offenders to prevent more abuse when top leaders were secretly keeping a private list for years.

The report — the first investigation of its kind in a massive Protestant denomination like the SBC — is expected to send shock waves into a conservative Christian community that has had intense internal battles over how to handle sex abuse. The 13 million-member denomination, along with other religious institutions in the United States, has struggled with declining membership for the past 15 years. Its leaders have long resisted comparisons between its sexual abuse crisis and that of the Catholic Church, saying the total number of abuse cases among Southern Baptists was small.

Somehow, I don’t think the campaign to bring back McDonald’s fried apple pies is going to be an adequate distraction from the bad news.

Franklin, and the rest of the world, might want to read that 300 page report. It begins…

For almost two decades, survivors of abuse and other concerned Southern Baptists have been contacting the Southern Baptist Convention (“SBC”) Executive Committee (“EC”) to report child molesters and other abusers who were in the pulpit or employed as church staff. They made phone calls, mailed letters, sent emails, appeared at SBC and EC meetings, held rallies, and contacted the press…only to be met, time and time again, with resistance, stonewalling, and even outright hostility from some within the EC.

Our investigation revealed that, for many years, a few senior EC leaders, along with outside counsel, largely controlled the EC’s response to these reports of abuse. They closely guarded information about abuse allegations and lawsuits, which were not shared with EC Trustees, and were singularly focused on avoiding liability for the SBC to the exclusion of other considerations. In service of this goal, survivors and others who reported abuse were ignored, disbelieved, or met with the constant refrain that the SBC could take no action due to its polity regarding church autonomy – even if it meant that convicted molesters continued in ministry with no notice or warning to their current church or congregation.

It’s a familiar story that we’ve seen again and again. Women are harassed, they report the problem to a designated authority, said authority buries the report, the offenders continue to offend (maybe with the advantage of being reassigned to virgin territory), and the hierarchy responds to queries with What? No, we don’t have a sexual abuse problem. My files are empty of cases!. We’ve seen it in the Catholic church, and also in smaller entities like the James Randi Educational Foundation.

Maybe the problem isn’t religion. Maybe the real root of the problem is patriarchal social structures. We should start dismantling every organization that has a mob of men at the top, where processing reports of abuse is handled by a chain of men. That seems like a reasonable starting point to fixing an issue.

Alternative explanation: maybe Franklin Graham is right and the real problem is that McDonald’s now bakes their apple pies, rather than frying them.

After all, God speaks directly to the Graham family.

Bring on the pain!

I’m beginning a course of physical therapy this morning — my back pain is currently at manageable levels, so it’s time to work it over and get my core up to a better state for the long term. I am not looking forward to it, but it would be nice to get into a stable shape.

Hey, I’m back already, and that wasn’t nearly as bad as I imagined. I pictured brutal gym coaches yelling at me as I worked out on big heavy machines, but it wasn’t like that at all. I got an ultrasound treatment of my lower back, and then a nice firm back massage (it was difficult to stay awake), and finally we ran through a set of 3 stretching exercises I have to do every day. They were exercises I can do lying down in bed! I’m also supposed to continue taking long walks, but I was doing that anyway.

Now the only danger is that I’m feeling so relaxed that I want to go take a nap.

Know wonder we struggle with French pronunciation

Maybe if I had more French, I’d be able to appreciate these more. There exists a book of Mother Goose rhymes written by Luis d’Antin van Rooten that has to be mind-bending if you are bilingual.

His book Mots d’Heure Gousses, Rames, as you might expect from the title, is written in French – but rather odd, archaic-sounding French. The book ostensibly contains a collection of poems, which have scholarly footnotes attached to them. In fact, the brilliant idea behind this book is that if you read the French poems aloud they sound exactly like English nursery rhymes spoken with a French accent. This is called homophonic writing and here’s an example from the start of the book:

French poem Nursery Rhyme
English translation
Un petit d’un petit

S’étonne aux Halles
Un petit d’un petit
Ah! degrés te fallent
Indolent qui ne sort cesse
Indolent qui ne se mène
Qu’importe un petit
Tout gai de Reguennes.

Humpty Dumpty

Sat on a wall.
Humpty Dumpty
Had a great fall.
All the king’s horses
And all the king’s men
Couldn’t put Humpty
Together again.

A child of a child

Is surprised at the Market
A child of a child
Oh, degrees you needed!
Lazy is he who never goes out
Lazy is he who is not led
Who cares about a little one
All happy with Reguennes

That almost makes me want to learn French just for the wordplay. My second language was German (now extremely rusty, I’m afraid), and I don’t think you could do anything similar, because the pronunciation is so close to English already. I wonder if you could do something similar with Italian?

Why would anyone trust Greg Locke?

I did suggest that Greg Locke’s tax exempt status be revoked, as did many other people. It is now being reported that Locke has “dissolved” his status as a 501(c)(3) organization.

However, I have to bring up two facts. (1) This is a self-assertion that has not been verified, and (2) Greg Locke is a loud-mouthed liar. I’ll believe it when I see evidence that Locke’s church has started paying taxes on his revenue.

For now, you should look at the IRS statement on tax exemptions for churches.

Churches (including integrated auxiliaries and conventions or associations of churches) that meet the requirements of section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code are automatically considered tax exempt and are not required to apply for and obtain recognition of exempt status from the IRS. Donors are allowed to claim a charitable deduction for donations to a church that meets the section 501(c)(3) requirements even though the church has neither sought nor received IRS recognition that it is tax exempt. In addition, because churches and certain other religious organizations are not required to file an annual return or notice with the IRS, they are not subject to automatic revocation of exemption for failure to file. See Annual Return Filing Exceptions for a complete list of organizations that are not required to file.

See that bit in boldface? Most churches do not have to apply for 501(c)(3) status. Just say you are a church (I presume you could have to show that you have a congregation, etc., or I could do the same), and the IRS doesn’t require you to file an application for that status. Locke very likely has never had to apply for 501c3 communism and didn’t have anything to renounce, and will probably not pay any taxes on his church by default.

Never ever take a Christian at their word, and especially don’t trust evangelical fanatics.

A truly sinister trend

Look at the data, scientifically!

In 1900, only about 3% of the population would admit to being left-handed. In the mid-1970s, it was up to about 11%. I don’t want to know what it’s like now, but being left-handed is clearly trendy, and if we just extrapolate from those numbers of an 8% increase in 76 years, I’d estimate that the population must be about 16% left handed today, and that the lefties will have completely taken over by 2800. We righteous righties are on the path to extinction! This is the real Great Replacement! Someone needs to alert Tucker Carlson and get the word out!