Happy Women’s Day

                     

  • Women perform 66% of the world’s work, but receive only 11% of the world’s income, and own only 1% of the world’s land.
  • Women make up 66% of the world’s illiterate adults.
  • Women head 83% of single-parent families. The number of families nurtured by women alone doubled from 1970 to 1995 (from 5.6 million to 12.2 million).
  • Women account for 55% of all college students, but even when women have equal years of education it does not translate into economic opportunities or political power.
  • There are six million more women than men in the world.
  • Two-thirds of the world’s children who receive less than four years of education are girls. Girls represent nearly 60% of the children not in school.
  • Parents in countries such as China and India sometimes use sex determination tests to find out if their fetus is a girl. Of 8,000 fetuses aborted at a Bombay clinic, 7,999 were female.
  • Wars today affect civilians most, since they are civil wars, guerrilla actions and ethnic disputes over territory or government. 3 out of 4 fatalities of war are women and children.
  • Rape is consciously used as a tool of genocide and weapon of war. Tens of thousands of women and girls have been subjected to rape and other sexual violence since the crisis erupted in Darfur in 2003. There is no evidence of anyone being convicted in Darfur for these atrocities.
  • About 75% of the refugees and internally displaced in the world are women who have lost their families and their homes.
  • Gender-based violence kills one in three women across the world and is the biggest cause of injury and death to women worldwide, causing more deaths and disability among women aged 15 to 44 than cancer, malaria, traffic accident, and war.

[source]

“Very superstitious, writings on the wall,/Very superstitious, ladders bout to fall” ~ From Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition”

supersense-us-cover

The U.S. Book Cover for Supersense

“There is superstition in avoiding superstitions.” Sir Francis Bacon

Supersense: Bruce Hood’s Book Hits the Shelves

I know that several people who follow my blog also follow Supersense: Why We Believe in the Unbelievable (http://brucemhood.wordpress.com/), which is hosted by researcher, scientist, and author Bruce M. Hood.

supersense-uk-cover
Supersense U.K. Cover

Bruce’s blog is always entertaining, very often educational, and the comment streams can be great fun. I have been visiting Bruce’s blog for a while now, and I will freely admit that it is one of my favorites. I think that I enjoy the comments as much as the blogs themselves. Those of us who comment regularly are an irreverent bunch, mostly from the UK and the US, but people drop in from all over the world.

Bruce is currently on the U.S. leg of his promotional tour for his book, which has the same name as his blog site; unfortunately for me, Bruce’s tour dates didn’t come anywhere near the Mid-Atlantic, or I would have traveled to see him. As it is, once I am able to purchase is book, I am probably going to send it to Bruce so that he can autograph it for me.

I’ll probably order the UK version as I really prefer that cover to the US cover. (Decisions on cover designs for different countries is fodder for an entire class on design. Don’t get me started.)

Here is a brief description from the Amazon site:

Why is it that Tony Blair always wore the same pair of shoes when answering Prime Minister’s Questions? That John McEnroe notoriously refused to step on the white lines of a tennis court between points? And that President-elect Barack Obama played a game of basketball the morning of his victory in the Iowa primary, and continued the tradition the day of every following primary? Superstitious habits are common. Do you ever cross your fingers, knock on wood, avoid walking under ladders, or step around black cats? Sentimental value often supersedes material worth. If someone offered to replace your childhood teddy bear or wedding ring with a brand new, exact replica, would you do it?

It has been wonderful keeping up with him and his promotions people in the big lead up to the publication dates in the UK and in the US. And in spite of his busy and hectic schedule, he still finds time to post to allow his regular readers to keep up with his goings on.

He was on NPR on April 7 with Brian Lehrer, but I missed the show. If I hadn’t missed it, you can bet that I would have called in and asked Bruce about mummified mermaids. But since I missed the show, I wanted to take this opportunity to post the youtube of the show, called “Are You Superstitious?”

 

 

“Men are probably nearer the central truth in their superstitions than in their science” ~ Henry David Thoreau

Personally, I am very superstitious about some things but not others, but I don’t really think about it until someone points it out. For example, I have no problems in opening an umbrella inside of the house or a building, but this drives my poor mother crazy. However, I do not like to walk under ladders; but to be perfectly honest, I think that this dislike arises more from clumsiness than superstition.

I don’t believe in throwing salt over my shoulder or knocking on wood (more because everything is laminate, and that kind of defeats the purpose of wood), but I do believe in ghosts, more because of events that have happened in my life. I’ll pick up pennies whether they are heads up or heads down, just because I view a penny as part of a larger whole; is that in itself a superstition?

arnold_6661Friday the 13th passes by without my acknowledgement, but I wouldn’t want to stay on the 13th floor of a hotel, nor would I want to stay in room 666. I don’t believe in the seven years of bad luck associated with breaking mirrors, but I might want to rethink that one considering the string of bad luck that we’ve had.

I don’t believe in lucky clothes, but I’m not an athlete. My former husband used to be a competitive runner, and he had a lucky t-shirt. And I’ve known other people who play sports who have lucky socks or lucky shirts. However, I do have an old sweater from the sixth grade that I refuse to rid myself of, as well as a t-shirt from high school that is faded and wouldn’t fit on my thigh, but I cannot bring myself to throw that away either. Superstition or sentimentality? Is there a difference?

walking-on-broken-glass
Walking on Broken Glass by L. Liwag

I am not afraid of black cats; in fact, I find them rather beautiful. But I do believe in angels or angelic presence. I don’t believe in things commonly referred to as “old wives’ tales,” but my mother still clings to many of these.

For example, my mother still has a thing about the night air, as in people who are sick shouldn’t go out in the night air. This “old wives’s tale” actually dates back to the Renaissance and before. People used to believe that ill humours floated about in the night air, and those who actually chanced a nightly constitutional among the humours would be affected adversely by catching diseases and ailments. As a result of this, my mother would never let me go out at night when I was younger for fear that my asthma would be affected by the night air.

Okay, then.

I can tell you that since my operation, my back now is a very good predictor of rain and snow, just as people for years have claimed that their arthritis predicts bad weather.

“Like it or not, we’re still a primitive tribe ruled by fears, superstition and misinformation.” ~ Bill Maher 

My father used to have this funny superstition, but I’m not sure if he really believed it or just found it funny enough to pass on. Apparently, an ancient Filipino, perhaps Asian cure for when people were choking on fish bones was to pat them on the head. I’ll never forget when Alexis seemed to have something caught in her throat, and my dad said, “Pat her on the head. It will go away.” Luckily, she wasn’t really choking. We’ve laughed about that one for years.

Another superstition among many tribes and religions is that of a woman being unclean when she is menstruating. In some cultures, these women were/are made to go stay in a separate hut or room until her menses passes. Often the superstition is that the woman can contaminate the rest of the village somehow, or, that the menstruating woman is a little bit mad. I can vouch for the latter: Men should try having bloating, cramps, headaches, insomnia, and mood swings every month of their lives . . .

full-moon-croppedThen there are the serial killers. Now there’s a superstitious bunch for you. What do I mean? How about those who will only kill under the full moon? Or those who will only kill women with blond hair? Or those that will bury their dead in the same place because it’s lucky? Icky, huh?

Or cultural superstitions: not eating cows because they are sacred (India), throwing coins in a fountain while facing away from a fountain will grant three wishes (Argentina), or not sleeping with your head pointed north because that’s the direction that dead people face (Japan).

Or doomsday cults. That’s another superstitious subculture. The world will end at the new millennium. The world will end when women get the vote. The world will end when blacks are integrated into society. The world will end when I finally publish a book. No wait, that one is mine. Sorry.

I’m not even going to touch on the superstitions tied to various religions. That is a book all by itself. Scientology anyone?

I could go on, but it would be much better if you ordered Bruce’s book (Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or your independent bookseller), and read about these things as written by an expert on the subject.

I do want to close with a quote by the incredible Carl Sagan when he was pondering what would happen at the close of the millennium: “I worry that, especially as the Millennium edges nearer, pseudo-science and superstition will seem year by year more tempting, the siren song of unreason more sonorous and attractive.”

 “Siren song of unreason”—boy I wish that I had written that.

More later. Peace.

My Apologies for 2008

These are the people and events that I would like to apologize to and for in the past year:

The General Apologreed-gargoylegies:

To Virginia Natural Gas, for getting so behind in our payments that you felt the need to reclaim your meter. I’m sure that it is doing you more good than it was doing us. After all, we only need it for heat, hot water, and cooking. You must have needed it for something for more useful, say storage. Glad we could help. And just as soon as the economy takes a turn for the better, we’ll be getting back to you on the huge past due balance and deposit that you mentioned.

To Homecomings Mortgage for being so understanding when I’ve called to try to work out some kind of payment plan. I guess you didn’t get any kind of notification on the TARP money and how they are trying to use that to help financially-troubled mortgages. We’ll wait until you get the memo and get back to you on that.

Speaking of TARP money, my sincerest apologies to the Wall Street Bankers and Financiers who may have to do without bigger bonuses this year, or at least have pretended to do without pay cuts and bonuses until Congress finally figured out that there is actually a loophole. I just wouldn’t want anyone’s house in the Hamptons to go into foreclosure or anything. Warmest regards to all. Ta Ta.

To all of the bill collectors, it’s not that we don’t want to pay our bills, really. It’s that we can’t pay them. When a family of four is living on my disability income, and the primary breadwinner, my husband, has been out of work since January of 2008, it makes it very tricky to stretch those dollars to cover the mortgage, my health insurance, food, and just about anything else. I apologize. I sincerely do. We will be getting back to you on that as soon as we can figure out alchemy.

To my eternally snoopy next door neighbor on the left: No, we haven’t finished the soffet and fascia in the back because we have to pay someone to finish that particular job. We have, however, put up a new roof, finished the privacy fencing on almost the whole perimeter, leaving your back gate on our property (which, if it had been up to me, would not be there, but my husband is kinder), cut back most of the trees, gotten rid of the old truck, gotten rid of the old landscaping trailer. The only thing, unfortunately, I cannot accommodate you with is our own disappearance. So sorry. Maybe next year when we might be able to finish our renovations and move to a place where the neighbors actually talk to you.

To my former employer’s Human Resources department, I apologize for calling you with pesky questions about my personnel benefits as a long-term disability employee. If I could actually get answers that made sense without having to call and leave messages, believe me, I would. Trying to get someone in your department to be helpful is akin to asking for someone to drill my teeth without benefit of local anaesthesia.

To the Republican Party, nah, not really, but thanks so much for Sarah Palin. She gave me enough material for two months.

The Sincere Personal Apologies:

To my mail carrier, I apologize for never being quite as happy to see him as he is to see me. I wave and say hello even though I know that he is bringing more bad news, but I still hope that he has a good day.

To all of the people who put up with me at the pain management center, I apologize for being late, showing up on the wrong day, at the wrong time, or forgetting about appointments altogether. You are very kind for working me in because you realize that my pain has made me batty.

To my family as a whole, thank you for accepting the fact that I’m batty. Pain does weird things to people. Constant pain makes you want to be more sarcastic than usual.

To Corey, I’m sorry if I don’t always say thank you for all of the things that you do. If it seems that I take you for granted, believe me when I say that nothing you do is ever taken for granted. I’m also sorry that’s it has been such a rough year, but I know that 2009 will be better because honey, it can’t be worse.

To Alexis, I’m sorry that you have had to pick up some slack for me, which isn’t really fair since you have your own place now. But I appreciate it.

Eamonn, I’m sorry for being overbearing, but not really. I know that you don’t believe it, but you really will look back on this someday, and wonder why I didn’t come down on you harder.
my-dearhearts
For My Dear Hearts

Brett, I’m sorry for the gene pool lottery. It sucks. I know.

James, I’m sorry you just had to endure weeks of hell and that I wasn’t closer by to help you through it.

Mari, I’m sorry that we have drifted apart, and that I’ve let it happen on my end as well.

Sarah, I’m sorry for the years, and it won’t be a pine box. I promise.

Rebecca, we both should be sorry: we don’t live that far apart. Let’s make more of an effort.

And Finally, Apologies For The Rest:

To the rest of the world, let me be the first to apologize for eight years of George W. Bush.

sand-from-non-biodegradable-plastics
Vog: sand from plastics

And let me apologize to all living creatures in the Pacific Ocean for my ignorance about The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, which has now exceeded the size of Texas, a humongous, man-made floating garbage dump that many are now calling the eighth continent.

It makes me utterly ashamed to be part of this society’s vapid, disposable mentality, which has caused sand to now be formed of non-biodegradable plastics like plastic utensils, toothbrushes, and disposable razors. There is a beach on the big island of Hawaii, Kamilo Beach, also known as ‘Plastic Beach’ where this sand, known as Vog, is almost a foot deep. It makes me want to weep for Hertha, Earth Mother.

To the person on eBay who bought the turkey that was slaughtered behind Sarah Palin while she was being interviewed, let me apologize for your obvious lack of sensitivity and just add eww.

To the world, I’m sorry to have to be part of the world’s least green country (according to National Geographic’s May 31 Greendex study), but it does not surprise me. And for the record, India and Brazil tied for first as the world’s greenest countries. Go here for the complete study: http://event.nationalgeographic.com/greendex/assets/GS_NGS_Full_Report_May08.pdf

And finally, to Tina Fey: I’m so sorry that you no longer have that dimwit to impersonate, but honestly, isn’t it a relief not to have to dumb yourself down?

Now that I got all of that off my chest, I know that I feel much better . . . somewhat. More later. Peace.