Wishing My Kid A Happy Birthday

Today is your 24th birthday, Lewis.  I know your real life and online friends know you as revstrangehope and realnightcat, but I know you as Lewis, and that’s all you’ve ever asked me to call you even though you’ve shared with me (and the rest of the world very publicly) countless handles and avatars.

It’s amazing how quickly time goes by, and as hackneyed as the phrase may sound to those who haven’t come to this realization, time flies by and before you know it, the future is staring you straight in the face.

I remember thinking when you were born, if I could hold on to a wall calendar from 1995, you could use it again in 2023 when both years would have the exact same dates on the exact same days. Imagine that! The year you celebrate your 28th birthday, you’ll be able to recycle that calendar from 1995.

Oddly enough, Time magazine’s cover story that week was “The Mysteries the Brain.”  The edition was titled, “In Search of the Mind.” Perhaps the universe was whispering a warning to me that you had a most amazing mind with incredible ideas and unexpected insights?

The month you were born, there were some amazing movies that hit the theaters, and I didn’t get to see any of them until years later:

Species (both on July 7, 1995): A government scientist intercepts a space transmission with the genetic sequence for an alien life form.

Nine Months (July 12, 1995): A successful child psychologist and full-time playboy panics when he finds out his current girlfriend is expecting their child, and the crisis of impending fatherhood hits him straight on.

The Indian in the Cupboard (July 14, 1995): A 9-year-old boy is given a cupboard for his birthday, and when he puts a small figuring of a Native American Indian inside, Little Bear comes to life.

The Net (July 28, 1995): A computer programmer starts a new freelance job and shortly after starting the job, her fellow computer programmers start dying.

Waterworld (July 28, 1995): A lone wolf mariner has adapted to the ocean and develops gills after both polar caps have melted.

Alone, each movie is interesting but when they are seen as a package, I can’t help but think there was a fair bit of foreshadowing going on that July as it wasn’t long before your love of all things scientific and computer were of particular interest to you, your love of water was evident within months of being born, and you loved the idea of magic in the world around you.

Over the past 24 years, you have lived through 8,766 days from the day you were born through to today — your birthday.

There have been 297 full moons over those years. I wonder if you remember that the full moon this month is called the Thunder Moon?  Did you know this year it’s also involved in an eclipse?  It’s actually called a half-blood lunar eclipse so, you know … Harry Potter tie-in.

As a side note, it’s going to take until March 26, 2027 for you to celebrate one billion seconds of life so let’s celebrate that when you’re 31 going on 32, okay?

I wonder if you realize what amazing things happened on July 18th in the years leading up to your birth. For one thing, Carl Sagan turned one billion seconds old on July 18, 1966. Pretty cool science connection, right, Lewis?

Also on July 18, 1966, Gemini 10 was launched from Cape Kennedy on a 70-hour mission, so that’s another science connection to your birthday. Another side note is that Buzz Aldrin was the back-up crew for the Gemini 10, and he went on to be assigned to the Apollo 11 crew that landed on the moon 50 years ago.

Talking about NASA, remember how you and I and Thomas visited NASA in Florida back in September 2009?   We picked up all kinds of mission patches for you.  Good times, good times.

But getting back to this birthday post all about you and July 18th — Intel was founded in Mountain View (CA) in 1968. By the time you were born, the digital native generation was just kicking off. How cool is that when it comes to strange albeit unrelated connections?

And on July 18, 1986, the first videotape recordings showing Titanic’s sunken remains were released to the public (and long before the Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet movie hit the big screen).

I know how much you like random facts so here are a couple neat ones for you this year on your 24th birthday:

1. If you find yourself in a room with 22 other people, there’s a 50% chance two of you will share the same birthday (month and day, but not necessarily the same year).

2. If you find yourself in a room with at least 253 other people, there’s a 50% chance two of you will share the same birthday (month and day and year).

Other random facts that have to do with the day you were born are that on July 18th that same year, 361,817 babies were born. That works out to 251 babies per minute.

You were unique, and so were all those other 250 babies born at exactly the same minute you were born.

But as unique as all those other babies were, you were MY newborn and so that makes you the most unique of them all in my heart.

You’ve lived through so much chaos and tragedy in those few short years, but I have always believed you were headed towards an amazing future. I look forward to seeing where life takes you over the years.

But this year, I’m celebrating 24 years of your life. Happy birthday, Lewis.


A Psychopath, A Schizophrenic, and An Autistic Walk Into A Room

According to scientific data, 1 in 100 persons is a psychopath, and according to scientific data, 1 in 100 persons suffers from schizophrenia.

Here is what that does not mean: It does not mean if you gather a hundred people in a room, you will have a psychopath, a schizophrenic, and 98 normal people in the room.

You could have a handful of psychopaths in the room and no schizophrenics, or a handful of schizophrenics and no psychopaths, or one person who is both a psychopath and a schizophrenic, or no one who is either a psychopath or a schizophrenic.

Yes, on average, all things being equal, you will have someone in the room with a psychopath diagnosis and someone in the room with a schizophrenia diagnosis, and it might be the same person! Then again, it might be two separate people.

That’s the funny thing about prevalence rates and incidence rates, and how a great many people confuse the two. An incidence rate indicates the risk of something happening while a prevalence rate indicates how widespread something is in society.

So when someone states what the incidence rate of something is, it doesn’t necessarily mean that if you gather up the requisite number of people and sequester them in a room together that you will find anyone who fits the profile indicated by the incidence rate. In fact, you may find that your room of people implies (but does not confirm) an epidemic of whatever it is you were looking for within the group of people gathered.

When autism warriors claim 1 in 34 people has autism, that’s not accurate. It’s only accurate in areas where that is a fact. When autism warriors claim that 1 in 59 people has autism, that’s not accurate either. In 2016, a study of 8-year-olds indicated that among those studied, 1.7% of those studied had autism.  In other words, 1 in 59 eight-year-olds.

What does this mean exactly?

It means that in a school with 500 students, there may be 8 or 9 students with autism spectrum disorder. But that doesn’t mean there won’t be more students with autism attending that school, and it doesn’t mean there will be fewer students with autism attending that school.

What’s more, that 1 in 59 claim only applies to 8-year-olds as no other studies of older or younger subjects were conducted in order to collate data collected that would provide what the incidence rate might be for other age groups.

What would be interesting to study would be how many rooms of 100 people yielded one psychopath, one schizophrenic, and two autistics, leaving 96 other people wondering what might be going on with them which no licensed and accredited medical practitioner has diagnosed to date.

The Historical Predictability of Alleged Randomness

On Facebook, someone in a group to which I belong asked why random numbers are used in measurements. As an example, they pointed out that a mile is made up of 5,280 random feet, and the person posting sneered at how arbitrary numbers are used to determine measurements.

To add poignancy to the post, the poster mentioned that a kilometer is made up of 1,000 meters, and it was about time Americans got with the times and gave up what the poster called random number measurements.

Except that 5,280 feet is not a random number used to express a mile on land.

When someone talks about randomness, it’s important to understand the meaning of the word.  Random refers to something that is made or done, or that happens, or is chosen without method or conscious decision.  This means that for 5,280 feet to be a random number that defines a mile is to imply that no thought whatsoever went into determining how many feet are in a mile.

A mile is based on the Roman mille passus which means “thousand paces” and was a measurement based on 5,000 Roman feet.  As we know, not all feet are the same length. Some people have short, square feet and some people have long, rectangular feet, and a great many have feet that are about the same size. In other words, a foot in Roman times wasn’t an exact measurement.

Over the course of centuries, it was decided that since 12 was a perfect number when it came to creating divisions, and the sum of its divisors was a perfect number, that one foot would be 12 inches. This created a uniform measurement for what one foot was because every foot was now 12 inches long, and every inch was, according to King Edward II of England, the length of 3 grains of barley placed end to end lengthwise.

Barley being a common, every day food item regardless of whether one was in England or in France or on a ship somewhere out on the ocean or anywhere else, it was easy for even the simplest peasant to understand what one inch looked like, and how 12 of those inches was considered one foot.

Grains of Barley

                                   Grains of Barley

Now, it’s a fact that the average man’s foot just happens to be 12 inches long, so the average man’s foot also just happens to be as long as 36 grains of barley placed end to end lengthwise.

So the first bit of the answer to the allegedly random number has been explained: One foot is 12 inches, with one inch being clearly defined regardless of what direction you look at said measurement.

But let’s get back to that allegedly random number of 5,280 feet equaling one mile.

Back in the day, furlongs were also used. The word is derived from the Old English words furh (furrow) and lang (long) so it’s easy to see how it became known as a furlong, right?

Acres of land were measured in furlongs (which was the length) and chains (which was the width). A chain was a unit of length equal to 66 feet and was subdivided into 4 rods. A furlong was made up of 10 chains (which was 40 rods).

It was understood by all that one acre of land was 40 rods long by 4 rods wide.

Since 40 rods was the equivalent of 660 feet, and because of the Roman mille passus, it became law that a land mile was eight furlongs in length, or 5,280 feet.

When you look at this from a historical perspective, those allegedly random numbers aren’t so random after all, are they?

Elyse Bruce

You’re Scaring Me

The following may be offensive to those who do not understand the intent of this article,
which is
to encourage reasonable discussion on a very serious matter that affects all people.


Many people are confused about how to address an individual these days, and truth be told, many are afraid to address an individual with a pronoun that implies gender for fear they have chosen a pronoun that offends the other person.  This article is not about whether it is right or wrong, moral or amoral, possible or impossible (or any other option that may or may not be available) for someone to claim they are transgender.  That is about common sense, courtesy, and sensitivity — and the lack thereof.

First off, I would ask that readers view this short video before continuing.

Pink runners (which the worker cannot see from behind the counter), a pink shirt (barely visible under a grey hoodie), hoop earrings, and a purse do not identify the person as female.  In fact, all of those items are available at various retail stores in various men’s departments.  The only difference is that purses for men are called murses (man purses).  That being said, murses are available in many colors, including pink.

Men wear pink shirts and have for decades regardless of whether they identify as male or female.  In fact, according to the Smithsonian Magazine website, pink was the preferred color when dressing boys at the turn of the century, and going into the WWII years (when pink fell out of favor and defaulted to being thought of as a girl color).  Even then, pink shirts for men were still available from retailers so the color didn’t fall completely out of favor with males.

But what about those earrings?  Men have been wearing earrings as a fashion statement and without issue since the 1980s and, if you include pirates and sailors, since like forever.  Centuries even.

Those long locks aren’t going to be the determining factor either.  Jon Bon Jovi had beautiful, long, blonde locks back in the day.  Steven Tyler still has beautiful, long locks.

All of the above being factual, the question becomes this:  How was the employee to know with all certainty that this person — who by all presentation is more likely to be male than female — self-identifies as female?

In other words, there was an unfair expectation placed on the store employee by the customer who reacted negatively to being called sir.

The easiest and most effective way to address the issue would have been for the customer to state calmly, “I prefer being called ma’am.”

Clean.  Simple. Non-confrontational.  Polite.  Respectful.

When I watched the video and saw the reaction, I backed up from my computer screen.  The person who filmed the video was careful not to get caught in the customer’s line of sight.  I wonder why that might be?  Was the person afraid of the repercussions of daring to film the bullying this transgender person engaged in towards the store employee?

Reasonable people who take issue with something in society tend to default to problem solving.  Unreasonable people automatically threaten others, and in this case, the customer threatened violence against the store employee.  In fact, he offered to beat the store employee up as a man.  That’s sexist.  Everyone knows there are women out there who could put a beat down on a male and walk away the victor.

In this case, however, it wasn’t a given the customer was going to wait to get outside to rumble with the store employee.  The customer was so angry, it was just as likely the customer was going to reach across the counter and lay a beating on the store employee right there and then.

Now the return policy at GameStop (where this happened) is to offer the customer an identical exchange when an item is returned within 30 days of purchase (unless it’s a pre-owned item, in which case the item must be returned within 7 days of purchase). If they refuse the exchange, they can get their money back but only under certain circumstances.

Based on the customer’s demand for a refund and not an exchange (which would have had to be offered for it to be refused), the item in question was obviously a pre-owned item.    The store employee treated the customer the same way he would have treated any other customer who was returning a pre-owned item.  That’s not discrimination.  If anything, that’s good customer service that respects all customers equally.

The imbalance of power is overwhelmingly obvious in the video uploaded to YouTube.  The store employee is young and of a much smaller build than the enraged customer.  The aggressiveness of the customer poses a viable threat against the store employee.

Had I been in that store at the time this incident occurred, I would have been worried the customer was going out to the car to get a gun and take out everyone in the store — not just the store employee.

I am not a licensed and accredited medical doctor, nor am I licensed to practice law, so I am not about to venture a guess as to what is going on with the angry person in the video.  I will say this:  When someone claims to represent a specific segment of society, whether they do or don’t, people are going to remember the behavior observed.  In this case, the customer dragged the LGBTQ community into the middle of the customer’s temper tantrum.

What opinion will minors and adults who were at GameStop at the time of the incident have about transgender people specifically, and the LGBTQ community at large?  If they haven’t had much interaction with transgender people or the LGBTQ community, the reaction is far more likely to be negative than positive. It may even result in people distancing themselves from others in their community who identify as transgender or who are members of the LGBTQ community … out of fear, not because they are bigoted, trans bashing haters.

Guess what else?  If this behavior had been from a straight person who claimed to represent a specific community, people would give him and that community a wide berth for the same reason.

Whitewashing Artistic Expression

The following may be offensive to those who do not understand the intent of this article,
which is
to encourage reasonable discussion on a very serious matter that affects all people.

It would appear that one cannot see a performance of “The Sound Of Music” — the story of how Austrian Captain Von Trapp and his family escaped Nazi Germany — that includes Nazi references because to do so would be politically incorrect.

Lisa Mars, the principal of the Fiorello LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts in Manhattan (NY) — the school known as the elite “Fame” school — ordered Nazi flags, emblems, and symbols removed from the stage set.  The principal made the decision based on her opinion that the display of hateful symbols was inappropriate even if it was an historical fact, and even if those symbols were germane to the story line. All Nazi iconography — from costumes to set design — had to be removed. What was allowed to remain did so amid worries of copyright litigation.

Now let’s not get this musical get mixed up with the musical “Springtime For Hitler” because “The Sound Of Music” is anything but that, and let’s not mistake that while a production may be about fascism, a production such as “The Sound Of Music” does not promote fascism.

IMPORTANT SIDE NOTE: Springtime for Hitler: A Gay Romp With Adolf and Eva at Berchtesgaden” is a fictional musical in Mel Brooks’s 1967 film “The Producers.”

But the principal of this high school founded in 1936 by the 99th Mayor of the City of New York — when fascism was thriving in Germany and Italy — has other ideas, and a completely different opinion on how “The Sound Of Music” should be presented on stage.

The Sound of Music” tells the story of how one family fled the Third Reich. In other words, it clearly is not in support of what the Nazi party stood for, and it does not condone the acts of Nazi Germany.  If anything, it speaks loudly against fascism.  Why, there’s even one scene where Captain Von Trapp rips the Nazi flag in half.   That’s an impossible scene to recreate with no flag to tear, and the force of the message is greatly diminished with no visible repudiation of fascism as it was originally portrayed in the script.

If you still aren’t convinced, consider this:  What if the entire production was staged in the badlands of Alberta because having the play set in the lushness of Austria with all its environmental privilege is land shaming those people who only know what it is like to live in the badlands of Alberta (even though the Rockies are a mere 3 hours drive away by car)?

Getting back to the original topic:  In a rush to make sure none would be offended, the principal at Fiorello LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts in Manhattan (NY) decided to whitewash the entire production.

We all know the arts are meant to stir conversation. It can be pleasurable or it can be political, but the bottom line is that art is mean to create a platform from which many aspects of the subject matter may be discussed.

In the case of “The Sound Of Music” it looks at the social injustices that exist during the era in which the production is set. Political alternatives are suggested and considered. The complicity of art in the environment of political injustice is seen for what it is.

Nazi symbols and emblems in “The Sound Of Music” do not normalize, or place a stamp of approval on, fascism anymore than vanilla ice cream proves the existence of white privilege.

If we start removing important visual and audio clues that support the narrative in a piece of art, what sense is there in involving yourself as an audience member in the discussion that is meant to be brought abut by that piece of art?

At what point does being a social justice warrior begin to work against the social justice warrior narrative?

My guess is it happens at about the same point where re-writing history is preferable to hearing uncomfortable facts about humanity — or the lack of humanity.



Furor Over Nazi Symbols in “Sound Of Music” Play At NYC’s Elite ‘Fame’ Performing Arts High School

New York’s “Fame” High School Removes Nazi Symbols From “Sound Of Music” Production

Next Up On The PC Chopping Block: The Sound Of Music

NYC High School Known For ‘Fame’ Bans Nazi Symbols From ‘The Sound Of Music’

Principal Spars With Parents Over Nazi Props In ‘Sound Of Music’

Teaching Students and Audiences About Swastikas, The SS and “The Sound Of Music”

Saving PETA’s Bacon

The following may be offensive to those who do not understand the intent of this article,
which is
to encourage reasonable discussion on a very serious matter that affects all people.

Well you can’t call BS or horse puckies on this latest stunt from PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). I suppose you just have to call compost on it instead.

I mean, surely PETA has bigger fish to fry — errrrr, more potatoes to mash or maybe juicier tomatoes to grow — than to publicly decry expressions that have animals associated with them?

Now, PETA is claiming that speciesism is a thing, and no one should engage in that kind of harm towards others.

Wasn’t it just two months ago you were claiming cows’ milk is a symbol of white supremacy, PETA? Yes, I believe so! I was shocked — shocked I tell you — when your organization forgot to include white eggs in that claim.

And now we are supposed to stop hurting animals’ feelings by changing how we use animals in everyday expressions, or we are being speciesist.

Gone are those who succeed because of dogged determination. Farewell to those who are plucky comic relief in life. Forget complimenting someone on working like a horse or having the keen sight of an eagle or nine lives. No one will ever again be accused ever of eating like a bird or wolfing down a meal … not if PETA has its way.

And what should we replace those expressions with?

Since PETA only take exception to expressions referring to animals, I can only guess that PETA is promoting its own form of speciesism by hoping we will hurt plants by using plant expressions instead.

So instead of telling people there’s a fox in the henhouse, perhaps you will hear people say there’s a weed in the garden. It doesn’t sound as ominous as the fox in the henhouse expression, but anyone who has ever maintained a garden will tell you that weeds are the bane of their existence so that’s pretty bad to tell someone there’s a weed in their garden, right?

Jokers won’t be able to put the cart before the horse because the horse won’t be allowed to pull the cart anymore anyway, so that’s a moot expression. Dreamers won’t be putting all their eggs in one basket in case they drop the basket and most, if not all, of those eggs get broken. Dogs will no longer have their day.

Forget being free as a bird because that’s not happening any more either, and if you think you’ll be allowed to crow about any accomplishments, it’s best you find another way of expressing that moment as well.

There’s not going to be any more horse sense either but that doesn’t surprise me because fewer and fewer people seem to have any horse sense these days any way.

You won’t be allowed to call someone or something out by saying if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and looks like a duck, it’s a duck. I suppose you could replace the duck with pretty anything, but when’s the last time you heard an oak tree quack?

There’s going to be a lot more fights though as you won’t be allowed to let dogs lie or let sleeping dogs sleep. Now you’re going to have to bother them and roust them unless you’re okay with letting carpets lie which just doesn’t do too much with getting the idea across because that’s what carpets do … they lie, usually flat, and almost always on the floor.

One bit of good news is that no one will be accused of being naked as a jaybird which is a strange expression in the first place because jaybirds have feathers. Then again, if the expression means jailbirds referring to inmates being processed into a correctional facility back in the 1920s and 1930s, then the expression will have to stay put. Except that’s going to cause confusion for those who think a jaybird in that expression means a bird in which case it’s just safer to throw that expression out with the bath water, too.  Better safe than sorry, I always say.

And instead of protesting cat calls, people will now have to protest whispering willows because I have never heard an expression that refers to a loud plant unless it was a manufacturing plant in which case those can be terrifically loud sometimes.

I’m even concerned about that segment of society that lives in states and provinces where cannabis has been legalized because they won’t be able to complain about marijuana that smells like skunk weed. I mean, it’s so hurtful to mention that skunks sometimes smell even if it’s true. It’s not like they can help stinking sometimes. It just happens whenever they feel threatened by another animal.

I’m guessing they will have to refer to marijuana that smells like skunk weed as plant poo.

When all is said and done, the whole issue of speciesism is just opening up a can of worms … unless we can come up with some non-species thing that wiggles a lot and causes trouble for the person responsible for opening that can.

In the long run, some like carrots and others like cabbage, and the ones that don’t like either, are sour as a green apple. So as long as you’re a squeaky wheel, and as long as you understand this discussion about speciesism is a real stem winder, you’ll know the tree doesn’t move unless there’s wind.

Remember, water doesn’t run uphill, and it won’t be long before this brouhaha is water under the bridge.

The Racy PC Commercialization of Christmas

The following may be offensive to those who do not understand the intent of this article,
which is
to encourage reasonable discussion on a very serious matter that affects all people.


The next blog article was going to address a recent PETA claim, however, the universe is in an ever-changing state of flux and the following issue jumped the queue by virtue of time sensitive content.

Santa Claus has many names in many countries, however, everyone agrees that he is St. Nicholas who was born in 230 AD in Lycia, Anatolia, a province on the southwest coast of Asia Minor (what is now known as Turkey). He became a bishop of the church at Myra, and there is documented proof of his existence.

He is said to have performed a number of miracles in his lifetime, all of them associated with gift giving, and stories of his generosity exist in most churches that know of his existence.

What does that prove? It proves he was male. It proves he was known for his gift giving and generosity.

                         Santa Claus (1896)

When Clement C. Moore wrote about him in 1823, he was still male, and he was still known for his gift giving and generosity.

He is known as Weihnachtsmann in in parts of Germany and Kris Kringle in other parts. He is Père Noël to those who speak French, and Papa Noel to those who speak Spanish.  Sinter Claus aka Sinterklaas or Sinte Klaas is how many who speak Dutch or who are of Dutch descent refer to him, and Julemanden to those who are of Danish lineage.

There are other names for Santa Claus the world over, and in each of those countries, no matter what name he goes by, he is male, and he is known for gift giving and generosity.

Many of you  may be asking what this is all about, unaware of what is going on with the rude and purposeful misportrayal of Santa Claus at one mall in New Zealand.

                                                                               Screenshot from Ponsonby Central’s Facebook page

Some of you may think I am objecting to the fact that Santa is wearing fishnet stockings.  Some of you may think I am suffering from some sort of “ism” and exhibiting discriminatory behavior.  You would be mistaken if that is what you are thinking.

My objection is to the fact that Santa is portrayed by Ponsonby Central as an exhibitionist who enjoys exposing himself in a publicly viewable location which is, in most countries, illegal when the intent is to cause others in society to be shocked.

My objection is not based on my opinion on sexuality.  My objection is not based on my opinion on what does or does not constitute lewd behavior.  My opinion is not based on my opinion regarding genders.

With his red coat pulled back to show off his undies and accompanying accoutrements, the intent to cause others in society to be shocked cannot be denied.

If you were to visit a store or shopping mall Santa, I can guarantee you, Santa would not be sitting there in his undies with accompanying accoutrements, waiting for children to hop up on his lap for a chat about Christmas morning surprises.  Santa would be wearing clothes that cover his nether regions, and whether he wears granny pants or a thong or goes commando, we are none the wiser because Santa is not exposing himself the way the Ponsonby Central Santa does.

So to all who think this is a humorous display, it’ i not.  To those who think people who object to this display are prudes, you are missing the point.

It doesn’t matter how “untraditionalPonsonby Central’s Santa portrayals have been over the years it has been in existence, and Santa ought not to be misused by businesses to make a political statement.

No, this isn’t about defending Coca Cola’s version of Santa from the 1930s.  Santa Claus with his suit was around long before he showed up in Coca Cola advertising.

Santa Claus, regardless of what name you know him by, was never meant to celebrate exhibitionism.

Stop messing with children and their childhoods.  Let them have the warm, fuzzy memories of Santa Claus being a generous, gift giving being.  Childhood is just a few short years, especially when compared to all the years ahead as adults where one can choose to be as jaded or as enchanted as one chooses to be.


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