A Placeholder for Something Decent
With apologies to both of my loyal fans, due to various immensely frustrating circumstances beyond my control, I am unable to complete the post that was planned for this weekend. However, I made a goal years ago to post something every week, even if it's crap, and I'm not ready to give up on that now. So I will just say a couple of things today.
1. CenturyLink should be embarrassed to charge money for their spectacularly awful wi-fi. Sometimes, like today, it makes me think nostalgically of the dial-up service I had as a child. I would have switched companies long ago if the service here were in my name. Where are you, Google Fiber? Why have you forsaken us here in Logan?
2. In 2008, the renowned prophetess Sheryl Crow made a very detailed prediction for the summer of 2017. Since it hasn't happened yet, I'm assuming that it will in the next couple days and that it will be entirely Donald Drumpf's fault. Such exciting times we live in.
Beauty and the Beast + Nazis
At home evening last week I watched the live action "Beauty and the Beast". I haven't even seen the animated one in longer than I can remember. I didn't want to watch it and I didn't think I would like it because Jeremy eviscerated it on CinemaSins and held it to be a redundant waste of movie. All of the plot holes and continuity errors he pointed out were valid reasons not to like it. But what can I say? Beneath my callous, cynical, sarcastic, angry, bitter, contemptuous exterior beats the heart of a hopeless romantic. And even though there were people around, I couldn't help hugging my knees and thinking Awwwwwwwwwww! And not just because I've had a crush on Emma Watson since 2001. (I would have liked to hear her try an actual French accent like Ewan McGregor, but alas, it was not to be.)
Having said that, however, I do have a couple complaints to add to Jeremy's. 1. They rhymed "wife" and "life" in three songs. Come on, writers. Google "rhyme dictionary" next time you're stuck like that. 2. The appliances watching the budding romance sing, "Who'd have ever thought that this could be?" and while that makes sense from the perspective of movie characters who don't know they're in a movie, it's an insult to the audience's intelligence because everyone with an age and IQ over five knew that this would be even if they were completely unfamiliar with the story. But just for fun I drafted an alternate and perhaps more realistic outcome. "Realistic" being a relative term, given that one of the parties is still a human magically turned into a talking monstrosity by an enchantress.
"Beast," says Hermione, er, Belle, "I've decided that I just want to be friends. I promise it's not at all because you look like the offspring of Chewbacca and Satan."
"Hmph," says the Beast. "That's what they all say. I thought you were different. The same old lies... Do you think I can't handle the truth? Is that what you think?"
"Oh, stop it." Belle sighs. "Look, okay, maybe that is a teensy little bit of the reason, but mostly it's because I didn't like how you treated my father and I."
"My father and me."
"My father and me. You wouldn't say 'how you treated I', so saying 'how you treated my father and I' is a hypercorrection improperly substituting the nominative for the accusative."
"Je m'en fous. I didn't like it, is all I'm saying. And that was only, what, three days ago? How can I trust that you've really changed already? I'd have to be some kind of idiot, right?"
The Beast's face seems to go a little red beneath his fur. "Er... I guess when you put it that way..."
"We can be friends forever, though, you and me and -"
"You and I."
"- and the clock and the candle and all these other cute little guys." Belle stoops to pat Cogsworth on the head.
The Beast sighs. "Yes, well, I'm afraid all these other cute little guys are going to become mute inanimate objects soon because friendship isn't sufficient to break the curse. Thanks for nothing."
"Curse? What curse?" Belle is jarred by this revelation.
The Beast facepalms. "Duh, what did you think was behind all of this, science? Only true love can break the curse, and it's almost too late..."
"Oh, why didn't you say so? I can help you with that!"
The Beast's ears perk up hopefully. "Yeah?"
"Yeah!" Belle says, clapping her hands together. "Let's head on over to https://www.russianbrides.com and I'll have you set up in no time."
Yes, I got a little carried away. Emma Watson has that effect on me. I think she should be in Star Wars. I can see her now as Rey's Padawan Hirmai Ohn'ee, an exceptionally studious and straitlaced Jedi with the charming quirk of saying strange words whenever she uses the Force.
I've been a bit surprised to discover the depth of racism that still exists in the United States. I know, I know, white privilege. I figured out a long time ago that there was some, of course. One time my family and I ended up driving through a seedy, impoverished, dangerous part of Albany for some reason, and every single person we saw outside their houses was black. Even at that young age I knew this couldn't be a coincidence and that racism somehow, some way, had to have something to do with it. But then Obama came along. I was very conservative and didn't like him at all. My high school friends teased me for being racist. I assumed they were just being stupid teenagers. When I moved to college and discovered that so-called adults were doing the same thing, I was speechless. So yes, some liberals have an obsession with pretending it's still 1953 and whining about racism where there is none in an attempt to shut up anyone who disagrees with them, and they have only themselves to blame for other people not noticing or taking seriously the racism that does exist.
Of course, the rest of us have had an unequivocal wake-up call from the Nazis and Klansmen and their ilk now that our president has made it acceptable for them to come out of the shadows. There is little for me to say that hasn't already been said a million times but I wish to go on record as being opposed to them and everything they stand for so no one assumes otherwise. I just really wish Americans would get over their leg-humping obsession with skin color already. Drumpf, of course, continues to drag the presidency through the mud with his refusal to unequivocally condemn so many of the people who voted for him. I can't imagine how black people, Jews, etc. must feel about these people, but I wonder if it's similar to how I feel about the anti-vaxxer movement. I wonder if it's similar to the primal rage I felt welling up in my gut just the other day when I found a Jenny McCarthy book at work. Because, while I won't pretend to share their heritage of systematic prejudice, I do have some idea what it's like to have a sizable group of people that don't want people like me to exist.
On a similar note, have you heard that Iceland has almost completely eliminated Down Syndrome? Well, kind of. All it's actually done is abort almost every baby that has it. Now at first glance this may appear quite similar to the Nazi program of removing "undesirable" people from the population, but don't be fooled. These are just clumps of cells we're talking about here. And somehow one can tell when a clump of cells has Down Syndrome, and eliminate it accordingly.
Erasure - Always
Everyone who has played the classic "Robot Unicorn Attack" is very familiar with this song. I chose it because it fits the fairy tale romance theme with which this post began, kind of.
These items are presented in the opposite of chronological order because I think they flow better that way. If you clicked on this post because of its provocative title, congratulations! To myself, I mean. Because my ploy worked.
Befriending a Fake Prostitute
I've felt for a few years now that prostitutes are actually people. It all started when I included one as a minor character in my novel "Space Girls". Originally she was just there as a symbol of how depraved Earthling society had become by 2153, but then I decided to enlarge her role just a bit with hopes and dreams and a bit of a character arc. Then, since her introduction is from the POV of an alien arriving on Earth for the first time who has no idea what she's talking about, I realized during a revision that she shouldn't be referred to as a "prostitute" at all, and now she isn't. I like her as a character and would gladly be her friend if she were real, and I would gladly be friends with any real prostitute that I happen to encounter in real life. I'd try to persuade her to change her ways, of course. "Roxanne -" I'd say.
"Will you stop calling me that?" she'd interrupt. "My name is Katie."
"Right, Katie, you should come work at Jenson Online instead. I've worked there since September and I love it so much that I may never leave. You get to see all kinds of interesting books, you get to listen to music the whole time (unless you're driving a forklift, which is awesome in and of itself), they give you food once a week, and they do monthly drawings where you can get gift cards and stuff. I heard they're hiring a bunch of people right now. You should apply and send your resume to firstname.lastname@example.org."
"Okay," she'd say.
But I don't want to be friends with a fake prostitute who doesn't exist. That's where I draw the line. So the dozens of Facebook requests I've received from them in the last month or so have gotten to be pretty dang annoying.
I have accepted requests from people I don't know, with no mutual friends, and I've met some great people that way and that, for example, is how I got invested in Entebbe Alpha & Omega Development Organization Uganda. But I only did so when I was reasonably certain that they were real people. I'm honestly a bit insulted that someone or some computer program thinks I'm stupid enough to believe that dozens of scantily clad women looking for sex live in my city and have all decided to join Facebook this month. Or even one, really. And who says I'm into that sort of thing, anyway? If someone did, they were grossly mistaken. But I did recognize that either the women in the profile pictures were real women, or CG humans have already advanced dramatically since "Rogue One". Where did the pictures come from? I Google Imaged one from a profile named Dakota Donna Merritt and found that it originally came from woman not named Dakota Donna Merrett, on a social media site I'd never heard of. I assume the rest of them are a similar story of theft.
But they'd worn me down by this point. I was tired of clicking "Delete Request" and "Mark as Spam" almost every day, and thought maybe I could try having some fun instead. I was inspired by a woman I recently read about who severely trolled a Nigerian scammer. I accepted Dakota Donna Merrett's request and messaged "her" to see what would happen. Alas, I don't have a hilarious story to share about that because the only thing that happened was that "she" deleted "her" account.
So much potential wasted. I was already thinking of additional things to say. If she just didn't answer then I would have messaged her again every day until I got tired of it. I would have started off, "Oh, did I come on too strong? I'm sorry. It's just, I can see in your eyes that you're really intelligent and I would love to have a thoughtful discussion with you." And if "she" asked me to click on "her" link that would probably destroy my computer, I would have said, "Sorry, I'm asexual and also Mormon. How much do you know about Mormons? Would you like to know more?"
Arguing with a Jackass
I've done so much better at not getting into fruitless arguments with strangers on the internet. It used to be arguably my biggest vice, which is saying a lot. The last major incident that I remember was chronicled on this very blog in December 2015. On that occasion, I screenshotted the whole thing and didn't bother to blur Mike Poole's name because he didn't deserve it. This time, I won't go to the trouble because there wasn't that much to it in the first place, and if anyone doubts my version of events then I don't actually care. This is for posterity.
Last weekend, Apostle Dale G. Renlund gave a Q&A broadcast to LDS youth throughout Africa. Then the Salt Lake Tribune ran an article about it, and the excerpt they chose as a blurb for the Facebook post was this: "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints did not begin sending missionaries to black Africa until 1978, when the Utah-based faith ended a long-standing ban on ordaining black men and boys to its all-male priesthood and excluding black women from entering its temples." I didn't mind them having this historical information in the article, despite it having literally nothing whatsoever to do with the actual story, but putting it as the blurb when it has literally nothing whatsoever to do with the story was just a pathetic, shameful display of the Tribune's bias that I've come to depend on.
Obviously one can be forgiven for finding this ban disturbing - not just at face value, but even more so for how poorly understood, inconsistently applied, and racistly rationalized it was from the very beginning. I found it so disturbing that I spent years grappling with it. I read and watched everything I could about it, pro-LDS, anti-LDS, source documents whenever possible. I'm confident that there are very few people in the world who have read and watched as much about it as I have, and that the historical overview I compiled in the process is the most extensive and thorough one ever published. I even had that on my resume for a while, but took it off because no one seemed to care. And I know most people have neither the need nor the desire to read that much about it, but for those who do, I've made it super convenient. You're welcome. So it's pretty cute when critics who haven't studied this topic a hundredth as much as I have purport to lecture me on it, telling me things that a. I already know or b. simply aren't true.
In a reply to a comment I referred to the priesthood ban as "a policy that ended nearly 40 years ago", and then a condescending jackass named Brandon Trujillo took it upon himself to educate me. "Christopher Randall Nicholson, policy? Oh my dear child... Policy?" he said. "Try foundational doctrine that will never change and was received by direct revelation to the Prophets and first presidency. See for yourself, the OFFICIAL correspondence between Nelson Lowry and the first presidency. From the archives of Utah State University. So who is lying? The Prophets then, or the Prophets now?"
I didn't want to bother trying to answer his accusation poorly disguised as a question, as I don't accept the assumption loaded into it. But contrary to his assumption, this "dear child" has not only read the correspondence between Nelson Lowry and the First Presidency multiple times but included every word of it in my historical overview. As unpalatable as it is, and I won't downplay that, it doesn't say what he thinks it says. This is a little prideful of me, but I wish I could have seen his face when he realized he had picked the wrong Mormon to patronize. Of course he just dismissed my "little write-up", which I'm sure he didn't actually read that quickly unless he has literally nothing else to do with his time, as having "spewed the same apologists [sic] talking points that all the others before you have" and reiterated his "question" without engaging with anything in it. This is a pretty consistent theme among those who claim to be critical thinkers while their opponents are brainwashed. To use his own words back at him, "Someone in wilful [sic] denial of facts isn't exactly someone I expect to have any meaningful conversation with."
The priesthood ban was ended by a revelation to LDS Church president and prophet Spencer W. Kimball after years of prayer. (A previous president, David O. McKay, also prayed for such a revelation but got a negative response. Nonetheless, he did everything in his power to reduce the ban's scope.) Critics who don't accept the veracity of this revelation insist that the Church just caved to social or political pressure. But unfortunately for them, the facts don't line up with this hypothesis by any stretch of the imagination. Aside from a couple incidents, pressure over this issue evaporated after 1970. Therefore an astonishing number of critics have resorted to parroting the barefaced lie that the federal government was threatening to revoke the LDS Church's tax-exempt status. This time around I saw a less common but equally false variation: that the ACLU was threatening a lawsuit. Of course I don't let such things stand unchallenged when I see it, and of course it does no good because they aren't concerned about truth. Don't tell me to "check my facts" when I call you out for making crap up, Donna Kani. The burden of proof is on you.
Actually, one can deny the veracity of the revelation without appealing to non-existent external factors. It's no secret that the LDS Church was trying to expand into black Africa, especially West Africa where tens of thousands of people had read LDS literature, become converted and started meeting in unofficial congregations while waiting for someone to come baptize them; or that it was about to dedicate a temple in Brazil where an extensive history of race mixing would make it essentially impossible to screen out members with African ancestry. The latter item is one of the things that critics like Paul Savallion wrongly assume I don't know, and the former is one of the things they don't want to know. Of course, internal factors like this raise the question of why the ban wasn't lifted years earlier. Haven't the church leaders always wanted more converts, or tithing payments depending on how cynical you are? Why would they shoot themselves in the foot by not letting that happen? It's almost as if their hands were tied because they sincerely believed they needed a revelation to do so... but nah.
A couple months afterward, non-Mormon scholar of Mormonism Jan Shipps wrote, "Despite the persuasiveness of this interpretation, the June 9 revelation will never be fully understood if it is regarded simply as a pragmatic doctrinal shift ultimately designed to bring Latter-day Saints into congruence with mainstream America. The timing and context, and even the wording of the revelation itself, indicate that the change has not to do with America so much as with the world... Predicting the impact of the June 9 revelation on the growth pattern of the Church would be risky. But the fact that this revelation came in the context of worldwide evangelism rather than domestic politics or American social and cultural circumstances is yet another indication that Mormonism can no longer be regarded as a 19th-century religio-cultural artifact and dismissed as a footnote to the story of American religion. Mormonism is here to stay. Where did it come from? And more important, how and why is it growing at such a rapid pace?"
Some African-American Mormons are very bothered by the priesthood ban while others don't seem to care much at all. African Mormons, who mostly don't share their heritage of racial prejudice from white people within their own countries, by and large don't care much at all - and yes they do know about it, despite the insistence of critics that because they don't have as much internet access they're cut off from the rest of the world and kept in ignorance of "the truth" about Mormonism. It's pretty common knowledge even if the nitty gritty details aren't. The thousands who waited for baptism in the 1960s knew about it somehow - it's almost as if they had other ways of disseminating information - and didn't care. Modern members know because it's mentioned in the Doctrine and Covenants (canonized scripture), a Gospel Topics essay that's now required reading for all institute of religion students, and sometimes in church talks and articles. So I don't think they need white people in Utah to feign self-righteous outrage on their behalf over a policy that ended nearly forty years ago.
Oh, what's that, Carol Clayton? Donny Osmond was asked about the priesthood ban in a television interview shortly before it was lifted? I had no idea whatsoever that such a thing ever happened. Which makes me wonder how a YouTube clip of it got embedded in my my historical overview.
Sistas in Zion - Lord, I Pray
A song with some relevance to one of the topics of the post, because I like to do that occasionally. This video is also embedded in my historical overview. I'm actually not crazy about it, but I like the theme, obviously.
More Social Drama
I fully expected to write a post about the thing Aubrey did at work that she didn't want anyone to know about, along with her real name and not a pseudonym, but she finally complied with my blackmail after I extended the deadline and fudged the terms that she agreed to and said were fair, so I won't. I'm too nice for my own good. Not only does this set a precedent for people to walk all over me, it also makes coming up with something to write about far more difficult, but that's never stopped me before. To take up space, here's a picture of the prank email I sent her from a brand new address created for that purpose. It went into her inbox while the legit email sent from my real address went into her junk folder.
(Context: she claims to no longer be a Justin Bieber fan.)
The whole thing is tongue-in-cheek, of course, as I have no problem with Justin Bieber and have never even heard "Despacito" (though I'm automatically disinclined to want to because of my knee-jerk rebellion against anything viral). Writing it kind of felt like playing millennial bingo. Timely pop culture reference, check. Twerking, check. Derogatory comment about white girls because that's totally not racist because they're white, check. It's a pastiche and a parody, a loving tribute and a sarcastic rebuke, all at once. And it would have gone to waste if I hadn't been there to make her read it instead of deleting it immediately on seeing the subject line. Instead, she shoved it in my face and said, "Did you do this?! Did you do this?! Did you do this?!" Also, the "Norwegian" bit is plagiarized from a Dilbert strip.
Mackenzie invited me to go paddleboarding at Bear Lake with her and Charlie (another person who I've rarely mentioned). For those of you who are unfamiliar with Utah/Idaho geography, Bear Lake is a lake. I love it and since I hadn't gotten to go yet this year, I agreed even though I wasn't entirely sure of what paddleboarding is. It sounds kind of like something the CIA does to brown people. When I showed up at her house Charlie wasn't there yet, but one of the many Emilies I know (and because I know so many, I don't bother giving them pseudonyms because you'd never guess which is which) was there with her husband, who was the one who actually knew Mackenzie. I met this Emily in Animal Science class in fall 2012, so wow, it's been a while. I took that class because I wanted to even though it was only tangentially related to my then-major, Wildlife Science. Animal Science and Wildlife Science are not the same thing and if you think they are you're ridiculous. I tried to end up sitting by this other girl and was initially disappointed to end up by Emily instead, but she ended up being fun to talk to and a good friend.
In this class there was an optional field trip that we both went on. If you have a weak stomach, skip the rest of this paragraph. I got up around 4 am on a Saturday to get on a bus to drive out to a sheep ranch near Evanston, Wyoming (not to be confused with Evanston, Brazil). There were hundreds, maybe thousands of sheep, and the main task of the day was restraining the males one by one and inserting some kind of shock probes up their rectums to make them ejaculate so their sperm could be collected and tested. The first time I witnessed that, I felt so lightheaded I had to go back to the bus and sit down for a while. I got over it and had a good time for the rest of the day and we had our lunches there and then on the way home stopped at a McDonald's where the TV was playing a news report on the latest thing Mitt Romney had said to offend people. So that, not to put too fine a point on it, is why the sight of Emily yesterday made me think of raping sheep. Oh, and we also had a horrible terrible soul-crushingly boring Pre-Algebra class together that I flunked because depression robbed me of my ability to give a crap.
She was real friendly. I should have warned her not to be friendly with me in front of her husband because then he'd think she was flirting and get really upset. It sounds ridiculous to me too, but as I've recounted before, that's what happened with a couple of my neighbors just because the lady said hi a few times and invited me to play hopscotch with her two year old. Her husband is so insecure. I saw him just a week or so ago, unexpectedly chatting with some people outside my house, and I had to get past him real fast before he saw me laughing at the look on his face. I wasn't sure if it was appropriate to find this situation funny, but my dad thought it was hilarious so I adopted him as a role model and absolved myself of any responsibility for it.
So we went to Bear Lake, and I found out what paddleboarding was, and I immediately decided to spend most of the time sitting down instead of standing like I was supposed to. The wind was pretty strong and I didn't want to fall in the water. I'm a little skittish about water because I can't float. I don't have enough body fat. People tell me that all humans can float and that if I just relax, I'll float, but they're wrong. The only person who understands is my dad because he's the same way, so thanks for those crappy genetics, I guess. (Just teasing. I love you.) Anyway, I did fall in once and experienced the horrifying moment of sinking before my life jacket popped me back up, and once was enough. I spent some time just laying on the paddleboard and drifting around like a shipwrecked sailor who's given up. At one point some kid drove his own paddleboard over the top of mine and said "I think I'm stuck on you" and I said "That's very flattering" which would have worked better had he been a female around my age, but a compliment's a compliment.
When I tried to head back the way we'd come, the wind erased in seconds what little progress I was able to make in minutes, so I gave up and moved closer to shore and got in the water and walked it over there. Mackenzie was frustrated because she had worked so hard to paddle over there and she has seen me just being lazy and it wasn't fair that I made it over there too. Then we stopped for shakes and I was supposed to get a raspberry shake because Bear Lake is famous for raspberries, but I actually like peanut butter better so I opted for that instead. Of course Mackenzie gave me a hard time about that too.
Information Society - Think
This is one of the songs I discovered via YouTube during one of the periods when one of my laptops was fried. I'm not sure now when that would have been because I'm not interested in doing the math. Suffice it to say that I loved it, but I forgot what the band was called and was unable to find the song again. The prominently featured audio clip "Think about it" is obviously from Captain Picard, but searching for that quote availed me nothing. My luck changed one day in Hasting's when I saw Information Society's 2015 album "_hello world" on display - on vinyl, because that's a thing again for reasons beyond my comprehension. I guess I'm lucky that my senses aren't attuned enough to tell the difference in audio quality because I enjoy having everything as computer files and shuffling them all together. Anyway, the band's name triggered my memory so that I was able to find this song and several others, and they're one of my favorite bands now. This one is still their catchiest.
"Guys. Chris's blog is the stuff of legends. If you’re ever looking for a good read, check this out!"
- Amelia Whitlock
"I don't know how well you know Christopher Randall Nicholson, but... he's trolling. You should read his blog. It's delightful."
- David Young
About the Author
C. Randall Nicholson is a white cisgender Christian male, so you can hate him without guilt, but he's also autistic and asexual, so you can't, unless you're an anti-vaxxer, in which case the feeling is mutual. This blog is where he periodically rants about life, the universe, and/or everything.