Free crossword puzzle!

I’ve been having a lot of fun recently creating puzzle books. Right now I’m working on a book of crossword puzzles that should be published later this year.

Here’s a downloadable freebie that’s not in the book.

You can find the solution here.

Rock n Roll

Check out my current puzzle books, too!

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On Abortion

Posted on March 22, 2022 by catspah

This essay was originally posted on the old Atheist View website in 2014 or thereabouts and reposted to this new blog a couple of months ago. It bears repeating right now.

So here it is again…

Warning: Contains talk of sex and cursing. Lots of cursing.

This is going to be a very short essay.*

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, how could an essay on abortion be short? Abortion is a volatile, emotional, controversial, difficult, and multi-faceted issue. To say you’re going to be brief is appalling. Clearly, you might be thinking, I’m not going to give this issue the attention it deserves. But you’re wrong. I’m going to give it just the amount of attention it needs.

Two “personhood” amendments were soundly defeated in the mid-term elections of 2014, one in Colorado and the other in North Dakota. Religious conservatives were trying to make “unborn” entities into people so that their “rights” can be “protected.” So far, they’ve been stopped. But as we know, as we have unfortunately witnessed, they won’t let a tiny thing like the will of the people stop them. Through oligarchy and gerrymandering, the conservatives may very likely, in the future, have their way. But I’m not going to talk about politics, because politics so often gets it wrong. I’m going to talk about what is right.

It’s really very simple. It’s so simple, it shouldn’t have to be said. There should be no argument. No protests. No signs with supposedly aborted fetuses carried around town. No doctors shot. No women harassed. Here is it:

It’s none of your god-damned, fucking business.

That’s my abortion argument in a nutshell. (And I do mean nutshell because let’s face it, the so-called pro-life nuts are all too often men.) It’s like this. I have sole right to my body. I have a right to do with my body whatever I want, so long as my rights don’t interfere with another person’s. Religious conservatives say, “Aha! There, you see! If you’re pregnant, another person is involved. And you do not have the right to MURDER!!!! that person.”


Complete and utter bullshit. A clump of cells is not a person. A blastocyst is not a person. An embryo is not a person. But that doesn’t even matter because it’s none of your god-damned, fucking business if I have either one of them inside my uterus at any given time. Until I give birth, so far as everyone else need be concerned, I’m carrying around a parasite. (Wait, but no…nobody else needs to be concerned because it’s none of their god-damned business.) That’s right. It’s a parasite–an entity that uses my body for survival.

noun: an organism that lives in or on another organism (its host) and benefits by deriving nutrients at the host’s expense.
derogatory: a person who habitually relies on or exploits others and gives nothing in return.

If I want it, it’s a baby and I’ll do my best to nurture my body, so that it’s born healthy. (Or not. Maybe I won’t take prenatal vitamins. Maybe I’ll smoke and drink and do drugs. None of your business.) If I don’t want it, it’s a parasite. And it’s nobody else’s business whether I have it, or whether I want it. You have no right to interfere with my bodily functions. Absolutely none.

When I was pregnant with my third child, our little family went to the mall and at the food court, I ordered a (gasp!) Diet Coke. Do you know that the little shit behind the counter had the nerve to hesitate, and to tell me that caffeine was not good for my baby? It’s fortunate for her that I’m actually a very nice person…in person. Because otherwise, I’d have handed her her ass and done my best to have her fired. But you know what? That’s just the sort of world a lot of people would like to see us living in. A world in which pregnant women are no longer in control of their own bodies. A world in which other people decide that women are vessels and when that vessel is full, they get to deny her her rights. Well, fuck that.

What goes on between a woman and her doctor is nobody else’s business. That’s right. Nobody else. Abortions are safe, routine procedures that do not require undue oversight by the ‘government’–i.e. a bunch of nosey people. What goes on between a woman and her doctor is also not the business of the sperm donor. I’m sorry, dudes. But the fact of the matter is that your donation of the sperm does not entitle you to any say whatsoever about what your partner does with her body (unless she grants you an opinion on the matter). You can not (no one can) force a woman to carry a pregnancy to term. It’s not your right to do so. Why? Because she is a living, breathing, sentient being and her rights absolutely trump any so-called rights of an embryo. And they sure as hell trump any rights you think you ought to have over her body. Woman are not slaves to men. (Not any more, at least.)

Abortions should be simple procedures done in family practitioners’ or OBGYN offices as a matter of routine. There should be simple procedural codes that allow pregnancies before a certain point to be aborted in doctors’ offices and those past a certain point aborted in hospitals. There should be facilities available in free clinics. Sure, there should be a code regarding viability–if it is determined the fetus is able to live outside the womb, the abortion becomes a birth. Problem solved. See how easy that was?

This is not a big deal. It shouldn’t be a big deal. Do you get it, yet? It’s none of your business and it’s not a big deal.

Why are religious conservatives always frothing at the mouth over abortion? Well, there are a couple of reasons.

First, yes, there are some conservatives who get all googly eyed about babies. They think of them as gifts from a god; and that gift is precious and they truly feel that abortion is equivalent to murder. They are so blinded by the emotions that this issue calls up within them that they are unable to see that other women’s bodies are not their business. It’s not enough for them to refrain from having abortions themselves. They feel they must save all the babies! But, if they really believed in that god of theirs, if they really had faith in him, they’d realize that nothing can be done that is not according to his will. The idea that the almighty god of the universe needs their help to ‘save the babies’ is beyond absurd. But that’s the way religion works. God does nothing, so people do it ‘in his name.’ Egad, what a mess that’s led to throughout history.

Second, there is in this country, for the conservatives, a deep and shuddering fear of sex. Sex is, let’s just get it out there, perverted. It’s smelly and kind of gooey. There are noises. It’s weird. I mean, you have to take off your clothes and be naked in front of someone and then…you know. But by god it feels good, doesn’t it! It’s perverted as shit but we really like doing it. Religious conservatives have to wrap all of that up inside a moral code somehow. A code that will allow them to do it–because, well, you have to do it–and still be able to, on Sundays in church, act like nobody is really doing that. How in holy hell can you look your preacher in the face every week knowing what you and the missus did the night before? Easy. You make sex a necessary evil. There’s only one real purpose for it: procreation. Having babies!! Yay, babies!

So, you see, if you let women have abortions, then, well, why are they having sex? You mean…women are having sex just because they enjoy it? That’s just not right! For religious conservatives, women are vessels for god’s most precious gift. They must not have sex until they are married (to a penis). Only then can they do it, and maybe enjoy it. Men. Well, it’s always been different for men. Men have to ‘sow their wild oats,’ which means have a little sex before they get tied down to one woman (oh, for those days of polygyny in the Bible they secretly yearn). But not women! No. Women must remain pure. And by pure, we mean virginal. Like Mary. Jesus couldn’t be born through a canal that had some guy’s penis in it, right? And you don’t want your kids traveling into the light of day through one that had some other dude’s penis in it. Am I right? Like, gross. Sex is dirty, remember? Once a woman has sex, she’s dirty, degraded, used, tainted. And if she likes it and has a lot of it, she’s a whore, a slut.

What do we call a man who loves sex and has a lot of it? He’s a stud. A playboy. Isn’t that sweet? We’ve shortened it nowadays to simply, player. Because sex for men can be a fun game. The women players use are then tossed away like trash. Because that’s what women who have sex outside of marriage are…trash. Men can send dick pics to young women and we wink and giggle and tease them. Women who flash men are ostracized, hounded, bullied, and told they should just kill themselves.

That’s what religion has done to us. We need to stop it.

They say there are secular reasons to be against the right of women to have abortions. Those reasons are based on the idea that life is life and there is no more moral reason to abort a fetus than there is to kill a toddler. Bullshit. There are moral reason to abort a pregnancy. 1. There are too many people in this world and to bring more into it because you think human life is so precious it must be protected is immoral. 2. To bring a child into a life of poverty or extreme suffering is immoral. 3. For a woman to sacrifice her life to care for a child she is not prepared to care for is immoral. 4. To force women to have children they do not want is immoral.

Oh, and 5. It’s none of your god-damned business.

What are you even suggesting, people? You don’t even understand your own positions. Are you prepared to monitor women’s menstrual cycles so that they can be watched to be sure they do not get abortions? Will you enact laws to force women to eat right, refrain from drug usage, etc. while they’re pregnant? (They’re already trying to do that, aren’t they?) When a woman miscarries, is she a murder suspect?

No. Actually you’re not suggesting that, are you? None of you are. What you’re suggesting is making safe abortion illegal and/or unavailable so that women will resort to homemade drug concoctions, intentional ‘accidents,’ coat hangers, and compassionate doctors putting their freedom on the line working out of hotel rooms. Great job busybodies, great job!

[Update: Except that they are now suggestion that. Example: Louisiana Republicans have advanced a bill that would make abortion chargeable as homicide. ]

This is absurd. Women are not chattel. We are not vessels for male sperm. We are not vessels for children. We are sentient human beings who have bodily autonomy. We will fight for it. You can not take it from us. Get out of our reproductive organs and give it a rest. Creeps.

Let me sum up.

It’s none of your business. It’s not your right to force women to carry pregnancies to term. It is a woman’s right to have an abortion. Nothing more should even have to be said.

Mind your own fucking business.

*Okay, so I’m long-winded.
**That definition is from that little pop up box on Google. Nobody knows from where the pop up definition box comes… Nobody.

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That’s no monkey…

Do they even know?

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If I’m just a fictional character, can I be Elle Woods?

According to Nick Chater, we know nothing about anything, even ourselves. I suppose that’s an oversimplification. But in an excerpt from his book The Mind is Flat* over at BigThink, he lays out the evidence to show that we make up everything we think about ourselves, especially about our motivations for doing things and our reasons for believing things.

This is the (at times) extraordinarily handsome Rutherford B. Hayes
19th President of the United States (also sometimes attractive)

We’re just fictional characters in our own heads, apparently.

And my first reaction is…so what?

The human organism is so complex why would anybody think their thoughts, memories, and beliefs are rooted in something solid? Think about it…there are articles all over the Tubes about people who suffered for years and years with some affliction or other and finally doctors figured out what was wrong with them. Just recently they discovered what they’re calling a new organ in the lungs (it’s really just some cells with a specific function, but let’s not get pedantic…

Oh, hell, let’s get pedantic…

Hubs complained about the phrase “body part,” because the article’s title is, “Scientists Have Discovered a New Part of the Body Hiding in the Lungs.” Hubs says, “If somebody tells you the police found body parts in the street, what are you thinking of? Arms and legs, right? Not cells, and not even organs. Arms and legs! It’s the alligator all over again!!**”

The point being that scientists and doctors don’t know everything there is to know about the body. Throw the mind into the mix and we know even less. Why would we think that the mind isn’t affected by the body? In fact, we know it is. Chater points to studies that show how adrenaline affects the way we view the world.

I once saw a spider in the garage that I swear was six inches in diameter. That thing was HUGE! But hubs didn’t believe me, probably because he saw a much smaller spider a little later. He says the sight of the spider scared me, so I exaggerated its size in my mind. I say there had to be dozens of spiders in the garage so what does he know?

But what does it matter? Nothing. I could have caught the spider and measured it, and then I’d know how big it actually was. Maybe. Because spiders can curl up their legs…you know…stand up a bit, and look smaller. And honestly, if I managed to catch it, it would probably be because I killed it (which is not something I tend to do to spiders) so it’d be even more curled up. Anyway, this one’s legs were spread out as it clung to the side of a cardboard box. But I didn’t catch it, so I’ll never know and who cares?

The thing about us is that we learn (most of us) and we doubt ourselves (most of us) so just because I might think Rutherford B. Hayes was good looking after I hike part of the Appalachian Trail, doesn’t mean I won’t come back to a picture of him at some later point and wonder what the hell I was thinking. (Read the BigThink excerpt, it’ll all make sense.)

The whole reason I started this post was to say that the title of the article, “We are Fictional Characters of Our Own Creation,” is bullshit. I don’t know if Chater wrote the title, it’s not listed as a chapter title in his book. But it’s just dumb.

Yes, my ideas, thoughts, beliefs, and explanations about my own motives, thoughts, feelings, and beliefs are impacted and dependent on my own body, my psychological and physical history, and how I’m perceiving the world around me. But that doesn’t make me a liar. It doesn’t mean that everything I think about myself, or say about myself, is fiction.

I’m not a fictional character. I’m just a human being. Incredibly complex and regularly irrational.

But, if I were a fictional character, if I do say so myself, I’m a rather great one. (Oh, hush and let me have my little moment!)

*You can take Chater’s course The Mind is Flat: The Shocking Shallowness of Human Psychology at FutureLearn.

It’s a tad odd that the title of the course is one word off from the title of Chater’s book: The Mind is Flat: The Remarkable Shallowness of Human Psychology.

And odder still that the book mentioned in the course description is The Mind is Flat: The Illusion of Mental Depth and the Improvised Mind.

I’d love to hear Nick Chater’s creative defense of all that… (Again, read the article.)

**The alligator…

Well, it drives hubs mad when there’s an article in the paper about an alligator (we’re in Flori-duh) terrorizing a neighborhood or some such and it turns out the thing is a tiny little reptile. An alligator, hubs says, is at minimum 8-feet long. Anything less and it’s not newsworthy. He has a point. And he has a similar theory about plane crashes, but I’ll leave that to your imagination.

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Wait a minute…who am I, here?*

Here it is! The first Poultry Apologies and Foot Holes post since the resurrection! I’m so excited I could…well, I’ve been sitting here for a minute or so trying to decide how excited I am and what that feeling might make me do. So, I guess I’m not as excited as I led you to believe.

Let’s just get right to the ranting, shall we?

TurboTax or Intuit or TurboTax Live (Pick a name already!) has an ad all over television about crypto. This dorky looking guy has apparently invested. One minute he’s a millionaire and the next, he’s not. It happens more than once when along comes a TurboTax lady.

“Crypto can be complicated,” she says. “But as a tax expert with crypto experience, you–”

Now hold it right there, lady. That dude is a tax expert with crypto experience? Really? The guy who invested in crypto?

Pardon me. I’ll let her continue: “–can hand your taxes off to me.”

Like I thought. If dorky guy is a tax expert with crypto experience, why would he need to hand his taxes off to a TurboTax rep?

I can just hear the ad writers agonizing over how to get “tax expert with crypto experience” and “you can hand your taxes off to me” to go together.

Mad Man One: She’s a tax expert with crypto experience.

Mad Man Two: Right. And she wants him to hand his taxes off to her.

Mad Woman: If you want to get technical, she wants everyone to.

Mad Man Three: Not now, Marcia. How can we get that into one sentence?

Mad Woman: “I’m a tax expert with crypto experience. Hand your taxes off to me.”

MM1: We said one sentence, Marcia.

MM2: And she can’t say “I.”

Mad Woman: Why not?

MM3: It can’t be personal. It’s TurboTax, not that one lady.

Mad Woman (rolling her eyes): “We’re tax experts with crypto experience. Hand your–”

MM1: One sentence, Marcia. One!

MM2: “As a tax expert with crypto experience, you can hand your taxes off to me.”

Mad Woman: No. That isn’t right?

MM2: What’s wrong with it?

Mad Woman: “As a tax expert with crypto experience” is a phrase acting as an adjective to modify what comes next.

MM3: So?

Mad Woman: So, Todd, it should modify the lady, not the dorky dude. It would be, “As a tax expert with crypto experience, I…” I, Todd! The lady is the tax expert. Not the clueless dude!

MM1: There’s no need to shout, Marcia.

MM3: And her name is Nia. Nia the tax expert.

Mad Woman: You said not to get personal, Todd.

MM2: Let’s just go with it. What’s for lunch?

Mad Woman: But…it’s wrong!

MM3: Nobody will notice.

MM1: Yeah. It’s not like there’s a crazy woman out there with a blog, Marcia.

Salem Cat GIF - Salem Cat Cats GIFs

*That’s a quote from the 1987 film The Stepfather. I don’t recommend it.

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