Sunday, August 30, 2009
Friday, August 28, 2009
I'm also honored by the dozens of people who've emailed me over the years to ask questions, agree, disagree, or otherwise discuss my works... This tells me I'm reaching the audience I want to reach, which is not a mainstream audience. To me, it is the audience of people who are thinking about their religion, instead of just practicing it...an audience of people who want to engage in debate and thinking about their religious ideas instead of just burning candles or chanting because someone said so...
But I do get asked about so-called fluffy authors, and I do get accused of being one, and in the decade since the first version of my first Wicca book, I have significantly refined my view of why I dislike an author, or why I distrust certain books. You can think of these things sort of like an inverted Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs... at the top we have the big things. If a books sucks on one of the upper levels, it sucks hard enough that it doesn't matter what comes next, the book has MAJOR suck and should be abandoned. Sadly, many of the books I loathe the most come down to the bottom two levels of suck, which means they can be approached as decent source material if you're really careful about it...
And, to that end, I announce my inverted pyramid of suck:
Think of this inverted pyramid as my little tool for determining the amount that a book sucks, as opposed to the technique some people use- which, in the vernacular, can be summed up as 'just hating on an author because the kewl kids do.'
The highest level of suck, the level at which books possessing this suck should not only be warned against but should not be published at all, and if published should be pulled from the shelves, are reserved for those books that violate big ethical concerns that we all agree on. For example, books that are plagiarized (whose content was written by someone else and used without consulting the real author, or which is posted without the author's name and without their permission.) In the Wiccan and Pagan community, genuine whole-book physical plagiarism is rare. It has happened to me (and the person publishing a knock-off version of my book was shut down,) I have been told it has happened to Paul Huson's Mastering Witchcraft and I've heard rumors of it happening to a number of other authors, but it is thankfully rare. More common still is whole-book plagiarism in the form of netbooks, ebooks and the like, but these books (usually) maintain the author's name, so it's not as bad ethically, it's stealing, yes, but at least no one is lying about who wrote what. (You still should not purchase these stolen books!)
More common, but still on this level of suck are books which consist of ideas or writings taken from elsewhere and not credited to that elsewhere. I'm not talking about little things, like calling Thompson's Rede of the Wiccae by the wrong name when listing it in your book (although you should always cite properly and I think this is a stupid mistake.) I'm speaking of very big deals, like Stepanich's Faery Wicca stuff or the bizarre episode of a Harvard student's allegedly accidental plagiarism in 2006.
There are people who claim that every book should be given a chance.... NO. When a book profits a criminal, anyone who intentionally pays that criminal money is getting coated with the gross and sticky criminality of the whole thing. These books deserve to be pulled off shelves, and people should be warned against these books and the original author(s) should get the money that their hard work went into making...
The next level of suck consists of books that probably do not deserve to be ripped from shelves but certainly should not be recommended reading, do not deserve to be in libraries and if they are released in a revised edition without correcting the problems, should probably be promoted to the first level of suck I discussed and pulled off of shelves. These books usually are not present in the Wiccan community at all, and can be described as books that are physically dangerous to people, places and things. These books represent a real danger to people reading them, such as providing recipes that are poisonous, offering themselves as guidebooks to venomous animals and labeling a picture of a deadly animal as a safe one, suggesting actions that will do gross bodily harm, etc. Off the top of my head I can think of two such books in the Pagan community, one which advocated eating Mistletoe, which probably will not kill you, and another which provides a recipe for 'flying ointment' which goes beyond the entheogens which such things usually contain and right into a list of ingredients which will probably kill you if rubbed into your skin. Since these are stupid mistakes, they should be found and corrected in later editions, and if they are not, you've got to question the purpose of having a later edition... It's actually very easy for a publisher or author to get around these dangerous books, with a boilerplate warning. (Observe the one in the description of The Velvet Glove, a book that describes consuming mandragora or the warning at the top of the ordering page for herbs at this site.)
Beneath these two big categories on the inverted pyramid of suck are books that probably do not deserve to be pulled from shelves, but when weighed one against the other tend to suck more than similar books in their fields. The first such layer of suck involves honesty. Without naming names, I will give two examples of dishonestly in recent books in the Wiccan community. The lack of honesty in these two books suggests that the books should be pulled from the market by their authors as an ethical concern, and they should be edited to make them more honest before they return to shelves.
The first such book has a simple honestly problem. The author claims to be an initiate of a specific tradition of Wicca, and 'proves' this by listing a lineage that is not only inaccurate, but also goes against the way that tradition initiates people. Said author need only cease to claim to be an initiate in the details of the book, and the problem goes away.
The second book has a subtle honesty problem. It consists of a decent book, largely of the author's opinions, with an extensive bibliography that, if taken at face value, seems to imply that the author's opinions are supported by these numerous works. This bibliography, unfortunately, is largely filled with books that do not touch upon the author's views at all and, indeed, do not have any real connection to his work. Some of the books listed, in fact, diverge sharply from the author and I imagine the authors are wondering why they are listed at all... This author's bibliography exists as filler material, and the honesty problem goes away completely if the author turns it into a recommended reading list, or even places some indication in an introduction to the bibliography that these books were instrumental in said author's path, not necessarily in the construction of the book. There is a rumor, in fact, that said bibliography is cut and pasted from elsewhere, which if true puts this book up onto the first level of the pyramid of suck.
The next layer of the pyramid of suck is the scope of a book. I am a firm advocate of Pagan books that say "In our tradition, X, we do action Y for reason Z." Every Pagan author has their limitations. No author speaks for all of us. If an author fills their books will lists of what "real Pagans do" and goes off in terms of the No True Scotsman fallacy, then their book has an inappropriate scope. Books with an inappropriate scope do not deserve to be pulled off of shelves, but should be taken with the largest grain of salt you can lift. I include in these errors of scope three major types of errors:
- Claiming to speak on behalf of all Pagans
- Neglecting to mention that your unique view of something comes from you.
- Grossly oversimplifying something important.
The fifth level of suck is about legitimacy. There are two basic types of legitimacy. The first revolves around the author. Who is this author and on whose behalf does (s)he speak? Is the author open and honest about their qualifications or are they speaking from a position of alleged expertise that, on examination, they do not possess?
The second type of legitimacy is easier to assess for the general reader, and that is does the book possess legitimacy unto itself. This can be best understood as internal consistency. Does the book represent the ethical standards that the book espouses? In terms of Wicca, does the author actually practice what (s)he is suggesting you practice? Does the author claim, for example, to have nothing against non-Wiccan religion and then lambaste Christianity? Can the book be summed up as "do as I say, but not as I do?"
Put simply, if the author is not willing to do what (s)he tells you to, why should you bother with it?
The final layer of suck is called emotion, but it more properly is termed "manipulating emotions" or even "propaganda." It comes in two basic forms, emotional manipulation the author does on purpose and emotional manipulation the author does unwittingly. I personally have no problem with the second, as long as the author is honest with the reader and tells the reader that they feel strongly about a thing and may be biased. The first, however, really has no place in books on religion, or frankly any non-fiction book. You should reason through books with your brain, not with emotions that an author plays like a string. If you find yourself being emotionally jerked around by a book, led to be angry merely because the author wants you to be, or scared merely because the author wants you to be, or distrustful of other authors merely because the author wants you to be, then I suggest putting down that sucky, distrustful book and picking up another.
In the end, no one can tell you what sources to trust, or why. No author is perfect, and no book represents any author perfectly. This inverted pyramid, however, is how *I* judge what books suck, personally, and I think if my criteria helps a single other person the time spent writing this post was worthwhile.
Monday, August 24, 2009
We're leaning towards LED growlights, at this time.
And for all my "new" followers, who are reading this because of keywords and want to know about pot growing, stuff it, as pot gives me the worst contact dermatitis, so that's the LAST thing I'd grow.
So, here are the initial plans, drawn in paint.net.... hey, I'm NOT the engineer.
Sunday, August 23, 2009
We're proud to present the coven at MacMorgan Covenstead's FIRST 2009 "off-month" Pagan friendly adult non-ritual dinner...this September the 26th. Email me if you'd like to RSVP, after reading the flyer, above.
Our goal is to provide a meet-and-greet that is intimate, open and for grown-ups. If this one goes well, the next will be done on Thanksgiving, especially for Pagans (and the LGBT community) with no local family or who don't want to face the drama of going 'home.'
If you're in Buffalo, or near Buffalo, and want to come, please, please mail me. :)
FEEL FREE TO PASS THE INFORMATION ON.
OR, Join the WNY UEW mailing list for future announcements:
Friday, August 21, 2009
They described his power naps like this: He'd stop playing, seem a little disoriented and cranky, and they'd suggest he lay down for a nap. Since he didn't usually lay down for a nap at nap time, and would spend the time playing quietly, they thought it was okay for him to nap when this happened, since he always responded positively to the suggestion of napping. He'd then pass out so hard that they had to carry him out during fire drills, and he sometimes would not wake up when we came to get him. Our pediatrician said that maybe this happened when he was sleepy, and not to worry about it.
We moved the summer after pre-school, and when the time came for kindergarten, we were in a state without mandatory kindergarten, and when they put him on a waiting list, we homeschooled him for kindergarten. Every now and then I noticed his eyes looked glassy, and he was running a low fever. When this happened, I'd put him in bed and he'd power nap- as long as 8 hours, waking up happy, healthy and energetic. Our new pediatrician suggested that maybe he was just exhausted, not sleeping well at night, and to not worry about it.
When he started first grade, we had some problems. First, he was in a very rough, urban school, second, he was ahead of the other kids in reading and math, and third, he knew it. When asked to go around in a circle and say what was the best thing about themselves, he said he was the smartest kid in the class. Yeah...that was bad. We also had a teacher who was one year from retirement and had no trouble telling us that she didn't care what was going on in her class, as this was it for her. (Scary shit, right?)
So, about once a month, our son got suspended, for doing things that first graders just don't do... crawling under desks and refusing to come out, drawing on the desk (usually when writing or drawing, the crayon or marker literally drifting over the edge of the paper and leaving half of his assignment on the desk and half on the paper, and walking out (at least once, according to their reading teacher, when the normal teacher went into a screaming rant that the reading teacher said she wished she could've walked out of.) Occasionally, he got suspended for stuff that was clearly, not him, such as graffiti on the bathroom wall that was WAY too neatly written and well spelled to be him...rofl. The problem was that he was a "problem kid" so everything that happened was his fault, whether it was or not.
We had him evaluated by three district psychologists, one who thought he was a normal, if egotistical, kid, with a high vocabulary and incredibly detailed way of describing stuff. The other thought he was severely disabled, austistic and pre-verbal. The third thought he had conduct disorder or 'explosive disorder.' Whenever my son was asked about the outbursts, he'd say he didn't know what happened, he didn't remember them happening, and he didn't know why all his teachers hated him and were making things up. I answered the school honestly when they asked "what we did at home" when he got like this: NOTHING, because I'd never seen these behaviors at home, not even once.
At the end of first grade, I was making a drop in at the school at lunch when I watched a school aid literally yank my son out of the seat he was sitting in and slam him into a wall for saying something disrespectful. I am not a helicopter parent, but suffice it to say he went home and stayed home for the rest of the year and my pediatrician saw the bruises and took pictures of the handprint on my son's arm (far larger than my own hand.)
We moved not long after this. I choose to homeschool my son for a while, then we went into the more uptight suburban school. The same thing happened. Only this time, it got worse. During one of these "fits" my son, drooling and snarling, told the teacher that he was going to "fucking kill her if she touched him." They arrested my son, put him in handcuffs, and my partner went to the police station to pick him up. When she got there, he was cheerful, and the cops described him as Jekyll and Hyde.The kid they'd brought in, they said, was so strong that he moved a metal table that they handcuffed adult perps to. Fifteen minutes later, and after a quick nap, he was chatting with the cops, talking about his pet cat and pokemon cards. They found him polite and eloquent...and he said he didn't remember getting there or why he acted that way...
Again, bear this in mind...We'd never actually seen one of these fits. Not once. We'd seen the damage they did, overturned desks, etc, but we'd never seen him perpetrate these acts.
We tried everything- the alternative school, therapy, counselors. We even sent him to a mental hospital where he had one of these fits and their reaction was to fill him full of thorazine. When I got there and he could not swallow, I removed him AMA, and had his therapist and his pediatrician observe him....it was clearly WAY TOO MUCH Thorazine...an adult dose for a pre-pubescent child...because he was *that strong* during the fit.
Did I mention I have a degree in Psychology? Yeah. Too much thorazine...not cool, and not an acceptable mistake.
I won't lie to you. At this point, we're starting to think there is some conspiracy against us. Is it because he has two Mommies? Is it because we're not Christian? Is it because we're not from this town? We even sent him to a school for disabled kids, which he did well in, and was great at helping the teachers, and kids, but clearly did not belong.
We tried depokote. All it did was make my son gain weight and make him cranky, so that was ended. The CMSW he was seeing says he's not sure the talking therapy is helping much, because my son can answer the "how to use your words" questions fine, but doesn't remember what happens during these fits... Insurance company decides that they aren't paying for this, because the therapist doesn't think it's helping, and thinks the school is, itself, on drugs. (Their quack has suggested at this point that my son has a unique form of bipolar disorder, which makes him fine except for every now and then at school, and that we're lying about never having experienced this at home.)
Eventually, he ends up in a Philadelphia Children's Hospital study of depression. That's all they can diagnose him with... Clinical depression. The head of the program even says he's not sure if it's not just because my son's life, frankly, sucks at this point. It's been a stream of doctors, accusations, anger and the like. The kid is put on a dose of an antidepressant that they later decided wasn't cool for kids under 12....because....
We're now homeschooling. One day, my son has what can only be described as a psychotic episode. It ends up with me sitting on him to hold him down, him punching, screaming incoherently and drooling. The head of the study says to take the meds he's on and throw them OUT, NOW, without delay. After a nap, my son is fine.
The only thing the study can find that's outside normal for my son is his testosterone. It's high, which doesn't surprise anyone, because my son is hairy, tall and very muscular. I had elevated blood testosterone in my final month of pregnancy, too, so this has been an ongoing thing... He also has a slightly elevated collection of chemicals in the body caused by liver or muscle damage. He'd later be diagnosed with a mild case of osgood-schlatter, which probably caused this. (He still gets a lot of pain in his knees when he 'spurts'...he's 5ft 11, now.)
Anyways, we move again. I won't lie, but there are three main things that cause us to move- disgust at Pennsylvania's education standards and how hard we have to fight to get him educated, 9/11 and wanting to be closer to home and hoping the kid can get a new start.
His first few years here are bad in school, but nothing like it was in Pennsylvania. He has a bad attitude about school, and thinks that people are out to get him, and we really can't convince him otherwise....but by 7th grade the fits have stopped, and his teacher, now a special ed teacher for kids with behavior problems thinks he's not perfect, but he's NOT a special ed kid...still, she likes having him in her class and kind of wonders at our freaking out about every little bump in his road.
Towards the end of 7th grade, my partner runs to the school to pick him up because he's 'very ill.' I don't remember where I was when this happened, but I think I was home in bed with a migraine when she got him.
She walks in and the school nurse says 'does anyone in your family get migraines?,' which gets a chuckle. My son, now passed out, had complained of the worst pain in the head of his life, was throwing up and sensitive to light, and had eventually passed out. As a nurse who, herself, suffered from migraine, she had not called an ambulance (their usual procedure) with this behavior, because this was *clearly* a migraine...he was a little young, and she'd never seen it in a boy, but it was a migraine, alright.
I called the family doctor, who reminded me that it would be illegal to give my son (also a patient of hers) my prescription for migraine, but that he was well into the safe weight limit to take it, and to make an appointment to make sure he was really okay.
He ended up with a prescription for imitrex (which I cannot take.)
Since the first "adult" migraine, my son has not had a single fit of confusion, disorientation, avoiding light and the inability to speak. In retrospect, based on his behavior and testosterone levels (testosterone is involved in migraine, science is just not sure how) his doctors (and I) have decided that those "fits" were, in fact, something called "acute confusional migraine." These symptoms were usually caused by stress (nearly every episode began with a minor stressor- a fire drill, a fight, an argument with the teacher...) but sometimes came out of the blue.
Had he presented with head pain during these symptoms, or had demonstrated his symptoms while seeing his therapist, or been seen by a school psychologist with training in recognising ACM, or a gym teacher, most of whom are trained to recognise ACM as a result of a blow to the head, he would've been put on a beta blocker, and perhaps a tryptan, and a childhood of fighting and screaming at the school, being placed in classes with non-verbal students when he was reading at the college level and the like would not have happened.
Now I have a young man who is distrustful of school authority and has gaps in his education (for example, he can do upper level algebra, but never learned fractions in school) from being in classes where the focus was on life-skills and getting through the day.
Often, his teachers considered his problems a trial they were living through. His special ed teachers basically let him be and focused on the kids with the real problems, who my son loved helping. They all liked my son, and said they wished his attitude was better about school, but that he is a great kid, with a strong moral center and sense of justice that most people don't develop until after college...
So his High School grades are crap, and he gets suspended for walking out of classes when he feels the slightest hint of stress, and he smuggles imitrex in his backpack because it's too expensive to leave some with the nurse who may or may not be there when the migraine starts. (He, unlike me, gets an aura before they start, so he can pop a pill.) He's even been suspended for intervening with a teacher who was being unfair to another student, a suspension the principal said she would've probably gotten herself...his attitude about school is fairly sucky, but I wonder if any of us would have a positive attitude after his experiences?
Every now and then, though, the kid thinks maybe he will grow up to be that special-ed teacher, or that MSW, because he knows that one person could've made a difference for him. If even one teacher, or shrink, had believed him when he said he didn't know why, or remember what happened, his life would've been a lot different... a leading cause of short term memory loss and fugue in kids is Confusional Migraine (usually after a head blow, but not always.)
Sunday, August 16, 2009
I can deal with a tendon injury with the medicines I have at home....
Saturday, August 15, 2009
In 2004 my ex-landlady pretty much assumed we'd take care of her sick and foul tempered cat while she went away on vacation. The cat needed about 40mL a day of SubQ fluids, and it wasn't hard to do, but on December 22nd, the fucking cat sank its teeth into my hand, about 2cm "south" of the last joint on my index finger, and also in the index finger itself. The two wounds didn't bleed very much, and I did pretty much everything that a biologist, trained in handling actual wild animals, does with an animal bite. Nonetheless, I woke up the next morning with my hand curled into a claw, red streaks covering my hand.
Being a biologist, I went to the emergency room for my IV antibiotics and the like.
So, in the ER I met a lovely doctor who was a graduate of Temple University (Go Owls!) and they loaded me up with enough amoxicillin to kill my wife 9 or 10 times over, and also sent me home with the long course of the biggest fuck off pills they make of the crap [875mg/3X a day...the pharmacist thought it was a typo.] A few days later they told me it was pasteurella, because I'd *asked* what the evil bacteria was (knowing it was probably pasteurella.) I'd also gotten xrays and an mri, and they did poking around with needles and took samples and decided that the lower bite had ruptured the tendon sheath, which was why the infection had my hand curled up....we'll get back to that...
Pasteurella and I go way back, you see, because I have rabbits, and if a rabbit with the snuffles bites you, you will (often) get pasteurellosis. Even if they don't have snuffles, your bunny probably has it. At school, a girl holding a rat in an animal lab of mine panicked, and ended up with an infection in her hand and I got five points for guessing pasteurella. We also have a rabbit, probably 15 years old, with a cheesy-looking pasterella lesion he's had for at least 5, but the vet says it's not growing, and the surgery would probably kill the old guy, so since it doesn't seem to bug him, we'll let him be unless it changes....
When I was working in the animal lab, one of the vet techs would take the students to come see my scar from this incident, so I could convey the danger a small bite can put one in. Due to modern medicine, I was never in danger. Before Pennicillin, I could have lost my hand...or my life.
By the way, the landlady, who I could've sued, didn't even offer to knock part of my $250 co-pay off of the rent. Bitch.
Okay, fast forward to today. The intense rain has left my roses looking peckish, so I go out to shove some fertilizer spikes (really good for when it's rainy...they don't wash away, and oh my god, they saved my windowbox tomatoes....but that's neither here nor there) in the soil. Drawing my hand back, I catch a dead rose thorn from the small bit of debris at the base of the roses in my hand. It doesn't hurt much, so I ignore it for the 30 seconds it takes to finish, then yank the thing out... it's gone in about o.25cm. Ow.
Fast forward to now, 4 hours later. I have a cold, blueish swelling creeping up my finger (remember, I am a pale blue Scottish-American person, I make Billy Connolly (8:00+) look like George Hamilton) and a small dot damn near 0.5 cm in a straight line up the finger from the scar. The damn rose has managed to pierce the same fucking tendon, almost in the same fucking place.
Don't believe me?
It's not an open wound, so it's unlikely to be Sporotrichosis, it's cold and slightly puffy, and blue, and while the blue area is about 5cm long, it seems to be stopped there.... It looks likely I managed to rupture the fucking tendon fucking sheath and the pale blue area is a mixture of a bruise and leaking fucking synovial fucking fluid, which explains why my hand feels like the joints have sand in them.
But I don't even have crappy health insurance right now, so if is infected,when I wake up on the morrow, I will be going to the emergency room, where I will be charged $3000 because I can't afford the reasonable $150 out of pocket emergency visit to my personal doctor's clinic on a weekend... and, frankly, by tomorrow morning it will be too late to go there if it is infected, because I'll need that $100 IV and that 10-day prescription, and since it's from a rose they'll have to do labs to rule out Sporotrichosis which will bloom bigger and better if I'm on antibiotics. My other option is to take the cipro or pennicillin scrips I have in my freezer, saved in case of...well...let's say zombie attack.... I can also synthesize pennicillin easily, did it for extra credit in a lab (actually, did it for my inner survivalist) but I've no way of knowing the purity or actual dose in what I've made. I'm still going to be your best friend when and if technology collapses.
If someone sees Sarah Palin, smack her and her 'death panels' for me. I need insurance NOW, not later. My unemployment is 1400 a month, and my COBRA payment was supposed to be $1800 a month. Did I have a fucking choice to keep my coverage? NO FUCKING WAY.
Holy shit, people, I'm *crying.* I'm crying because selfish bastards are disrupting town meetings while the good guys try to save someone, anyone, from sitting between jobs with a bruise from a damn rose thorn, wondering if it's really an infection that's going to cost her HER HOUSE.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Please stop being crappy at your religion and leaving your kids so disenfranchised that they reach out for any other religion and then cling to the first they find that isn't yours. Whatever you're doing to teach your kids your faith, it's not working, because they are flocking to Wicca.
We used to be okay. Due to the demographics of the world, most of us Wiccans were Ex-Christians, but we came from British and Northeastern US churches. We were Cake-or-Death Christians. We were Comfy Chair Christians.
Your kids, however, have been raised with a Christianity that is based on absolute adherence to a set of beliefs (usually including a bunch outside the Bible) and defining those outside your silly churches as non-Christians. When they leave your silly church, they often take their 'absolute adherence' thing with them.
And therein lies our problem. Our religion of Wicca is about permissions, not exclusions. We don't have the "don't do it because I said so."
Let's take three of our religious statements:
- An it harm none, do as you will.
- ...All acts of love and pleasure are my rituals.
- Whenever you have need...and better it should be on the full moon.
- Do harmless things as often as you want.
- Things done between people in a loving manner, with full consent and to cause pleasure, where no one is being exploited or oppressed, are good with the goddess. She even encourages them, because they reflect what she wants from people.
- If you've got a reason for a ritual, do it. If you need a specific time, the full moon is a good one.
- If you do something that causes harm, the gods will punish you.
- The only time one should have sex is in the context of ritual.
- We MUST meet BECAUSE the moon is full.
We who were raised non-Christian, nominally Christian, Cake-or-Death Christian or Comfy Chair Christian were raised at a time when the increase in the population was seen as a bad thing, and our parents thought it was SELFISH to have families with 10 kids or more. You people have movements like Quiverfull or, frankly, treating a woman like the queen in a bee colony and making her sole job spitting out eggs, or in your case, larval Christians. When your daughters realize they don't want to be pregnant or recovering from pregnancy for the rest of their lives and come to our faith, they grossly outnumber those of us who were never fitted with the filters you put on them. The permissions go in one side of our head, bounce around in the brain and come back out as STILL permissions. The permissions go in their ears and come out sounding exactly like Christianity, with 'thou shalt nots' and 'you betters.'
We really were happy with our faith without the commandments your kids are coming up with... and they are being very loud and aggressive about their new faith of Wicca in a way we weren't before...and their sheer numbers are choking us.
So, I've got an idea that can help us both....
From now on, instead of calling the Christians that disagree with various aspects of your faith "non-Christians," or "False Christians," or "unChristian," call them a type of Christian you disagree with. So, if your particular church with the rigid adherence view is Catholic, call the Christians you disagree with... um...Methodists, only say it in a really scornful way... And you Methodists can call the Christians you dislike, um, Quakers, and Baptists can call them Catholics, etc. That way your messed up kids with the blinders that turn permissions into exclusions, suggestions into commandments and honest dialog and dissent into threats to the faith will leave us alone.
[Does not apply to ALL Christians. This article is tongue-in-cheek. Please use humor filters. Get off my lawn.]
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
A lot of people have a problem with the meaning of the construction ‘an it’ and trip up over it. Some, like Porter in her “Rede of the Wiccae,” claim it is a shortened form of and, and even go so far as to remove the terminal d from the ands in the rest of her poem. For the purpose of this discussion, I’m doing to assume the “an it” in the Rede has its literal meaning.
We can rewrite the Rede, without losing any of its literal meaning, as “Do those things which do no harm as you will.” For the purpose of symbolic logic, I will turn this into and If-then statement:
“If a thing does no harm, then do it as you will.”
To make it easier, I’m going to drop the “as you will,” because a good Wiccan should already be doing something, or not, in accordance with his or her will. Our new construction then becomes:
If a thing does no harm, then do it. We can write this symbolically as “p→q.”
In this language, p means “harmless action” and q means “do it.” The arrow tells us it’s in the form of If p, then q. Thus “p→q” means “If it’s a harmless action, then do it.”
To keep anyone from being offended, let’s play with a different logic statement. We’ll call this one c→s.
In our statement c→s, “c” represents a circle and “s” represents a shape. We can see right away that c→s is true: If it is a circle, then it is a shape. c→s is an example of a conditional that is not a biconditional. In other words, “if a thing is a circle, then that thing is a shape is true”, but it is not true that “if a thing is a shape, then the thing is a circle.” Biconditionals have to be equal on both sides. Thus, you could have c representing a circle and another factor, we’ll call it a, which is the equivalent of a circle. Our “a” could be “a shape whose area is found with the formula “A=πr^2” In the biconditional, we can use the phrase “If and only if” thus c→a is “If a thing is a circle, then its area is found with the formula A=πr^2” and a→c is “If A=πr^2 is the formula used to find the area of a thing, then it is a circle” and in the biconditional, we say that c↔a is “A thing is a circle IF AND ONLY IF the formula for its area is A=πr^2 (or even “The formula for its area is A=πr^2 IF AND ONLY IF a thing is a circle [a↔c].)
So, returning to the Wiccan Rede, we have a conditional that is not a biconditional.
It is true that p→q, or “If it does no harm, then we do it.” But it is not true that q→p or “If we do it then it does no harm.” In other words, the actions we take because we are Wiccan do not do no harm just because we are Wiccan. To make a logical proof of this, we might write:
p=Harmless Things q=Things we do.
p→q (If it’s harmless, then we do it.) is TRUE.
q→p (If we do it, then it’s harmless) is FALSE.
And since p→q and q→p are not BOTH TRUE, then p↔q is not true. p↔q is one phony Wiccan rede, which says “We do things if and only if they are harmless.” Since q→p is false, we discard p↔q… it’s just not logical.
So let’s look at the idea of “Harm none” that some replace the Wiccan Rede with. Let’s make it clear what they are saying: Do no harmful actions.
To place this in our p and q formula, we need another symbol:
p=Harmless Things p=Things we do.
Therefore ~p or “not p” is “Harmful things” and ~q or “not q” is “Things we do not do.”
The inverse rede is ~p→~q or “If a thing is harmful then don’t do it.”
Often, but not always, an inverse is true, but the inverse of a statement is NEVER the same exact thing as the statement itself. To claim the inverse rede is the SAME as the Rede, as some newbies do, we have to ignore reality altogether. I’m not prepared for that.
And that's all I can take...
The following things have all, at one time or another, been labeled or labeled themselves Witches. The bold headings are what *you* might mean when you say Witch.:
Practitioners of rites with a strong focus on mathematics, geometry, 'laws' about the way the world works and languages. *Most* Ceremonial magic is rooted in one of three languages:
Hebrew, Latin or Greek. Hermetic magic, Kabbalah, Enochian Magic, etc. Most Ceremonial magic, with the exception of the earliest Hermetic material, is monotheistic, and Abrahamic, referring to the god of Christianity or Judaism.
Traditional British folk magic. Much of the surviving writings of and about such people make it clear that they are *Christian* practitioners of 'low' magic, lay people (people who are not priests) who purport to cure misfortune by applying charms based upon the Bible and 'driving out' evil spirits or demons. These people had charms that they said brought luck, love and money, and were also professional healers, often with training in setting bones or delivering babies. The major reason I find it unacceptable to call this practice witchcraft is that one of the major "jobs" of a pellar was to root out "witches" (practitioners of evil magic) or find where one was at work. Often, the "spell" was a bit of vestigial Catholicism ( a rosary, a latin prayer) in a Protestant country.
People who revere the adversary (the being or concept opposed to the dominant god of their culture) including Diabolists, Satanists (theistic and non-theistic,) Thugee, Baccants, etc.
Diviners, oracles and sibyls
People who tell the future, present or past, or answer questions, based on divine information, reading tea leaves, tarot cards, etc. or by direct interaction with a god.
Evil Magicians of one sort or another
Cunningfolk, Hexen, Sangoma, Shamans and the like have historically waged wars against people who are their opposites, spiritually. These people are usually called 'witches' in English translations of their beliefs.
German, and later Pennsylvania Dutch, folk magic. Just as with the Cunningfolk, a tradition of *Christian* folk magic. Hexen can refer equally to a "good witch"or "bad witch" but the good is usually implied. Just as with the Cunningfolk, the Hexen are at constant 'war' with one another, with the good Hexen using charms and incantations to wage 'spiritual warfare' against the bad Hexen. Just as in the case of cunningfolk, it's usually better to not use the term witch, because the hexen's job was to seek out witches (Evil magic doers) and destroy them with spells. Again, often, the "spell" was a bit of Catholicism ( a rosary, a latin prayer) in a Protestant country.
Human-shaped monsters or demons:
The Wicked Witch of the West (better described as a MalHexen), Hagatha from Bugs Bunny.
Priests and Priestesses of African and African Diaspora Syncretic religions
Mostly followers of Vodun, Santeria, Candomblé,Vodou, etc. They don't use the term for themselves, so I don't use it for them.
People who purport to have extraordinary mental powers, including but not limited to telekinesis, reading minds, telling the future, etc. Usually the word "witch" is used here in reference to the verb "to witch." For example: Jake witched the dice to make them roll snake eyes.
A subspecies of human with special powers.
Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Samantha Stevens and female wizards in Harry Potter.
Sangoma and Inyanga
Sangoma are Zulu equivalent to the Cunningfolk. Often called "witch doctors" by English Speakers. Just as with Hexen and Cunningfolk, one of their jobs is to fix the "evil witchcraft" they encounter. Inyanga do so through herbal medicines.
Shamans, Medicine Men
Traditional folk magic practitioners associated with various cultures. Two major requirements: Being of that culture and meeting that culture's ideas of their pracitioners.
A "traditionalist" or "traditional Witch" is often, but not always, a Wiccan who is disenchanted with the fact that Wicca is around 70 years old and has not changed their practices at all except to say their beliefs are "hundreds of years older than Wicca." Many of them also freely lambaste Wicca with a stupid and uninformed view of Wiccan beliefs. Some of the worst of the lot try to claim they are "the real Wiccans" and Wiccans are something else. The remaining ones are generally cunningfolk, and wouldn't use the word witch if they had a clue.
A member of a religion that focuses on direct interaction with the gods. It came to be at some point between 1930 and 1945. Which exact year depends on who you ask.
....And about ten other definitions.
I do not use the word Witch for any of the above, and as far as what I can teach, it's the first and the last, above....and I'm not teaching either now.
Monday, August 10, 2009
The color codes are mine:
Pogo reply one:
User account name: [redacted]
Games Affected: All
Attempting to log in to *any* pogo game gets the unable to connect to server message, for example:
Error occurs in the following browsers, all at their most recent build/release:
SeaMonkey (Mozilla), Firefox (Mozilla), Internet Explorer (microsoft), Chrome (google) I haven't bothered to try others.
Message occurs even if firewall is OFF. Message occurs even if all security, including antivirus, firewall, pop-up blocker, etc. is off.
This is an at-home connection, and there were no firewall changes before pogo ceased working, a couple of months ago.
Popup Blocker Test, ie :http://www.pogo.com/misc/popup-blocker-test.jsp
Shows pogo is NOT blocked by any pop-ups
Java test, ie: http://www.pogo.com/misc/sun-java/plug-in-test.jsp
Shows Java as "upto date and should be functioning Properly"
Java Version Test shows: (for example)
Java 1.6.0_14 (Sun Microsystems Inc.)
Windows XP 5.1 (x86)
Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.1; en-US; rv:220.127.116.11) Gecko/2009070611 Firefox/3.0.12 (.NET CLR 3.5.30729)
Java is a clean install, with previous versions completely removed, java registries removed before re-installing java.
Java works fine on other sites, this only happens with Pogo. See attached "java console" txt to see what happens.
Also attached, traceroute and EAeasy info.
This is limited to one computer. I can access pogo on other computers on my home network without difficulty.
Hello [redacted],More info for pogo:
Thank you for contacting Pogo Support again. I sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this issue has caused you.
After looking over your report, we’d like to recommend that you clear your browser and Java caches.
It is a good practice to clear out your caches once a week. Think of it like changing the oil in your car at regular intervals - it’s good, healthy maintenance. Doing so ensures that there aren’t any old files hanging around on your computer to cause problems.
We recommend clearing out your browser and Java caches whenever you encounter a problem with Pogo games. Restarting your computer after doing so can also help game performance.
Clearing your temporary Internet files will NOT damage your computer or hamper your web browsing. Clearing your cache won't hurt your screen name, account or stats either, because all this information is stored on the Pogo servers. (Pogo "remembers" you each time you log in by using a cookie, so you may not be automatically logged in if your cookies have been cleared.)
Clearing Browser Cache
Here's how to clear the cache for Internet Explorer 7.x browsers:
1. Launch your Internet Explorer browser.
2. Click ‘Tools’ on the menu toolbar at the top of the browser.
3. Select ‘Internet Options’ from the dropdown menu.
4. Click the ‘Delete’ button in the Browsing History section.
5. Click the ‘Delete Files’ button in the Temporary Internet Files section.
6. Click the ‘Close’ button on the Delete Browsing History screen.
7. Click ‘OK’ on the Internet Options screen.
8. Close all browser windows and restart Internet Explorer.
If you are using another version of Internet Explorer or a different browser, please visit the following FAQ for more information on clearing the cache for your specific browser: http://eapogo.custhelp.com/cgi-bin/eapogo.cfg/php/enduser/std_adp.php?p_faqid=10990
Clearing Java Cache
Here’s how to clear the cache for the latest version of Sun Java:
1. Click on Start > Control Panel > Java. Then click on the ‘General’ tab.
2. In the Temporary Internet Files section, click on the ‘Settings’ button.
3. Click the ‘Delete Files’ button, and then click ‘OK.’
If you cannot find Java in the Control Panel, please visit this FAQ for more information on how to get it:
If you have completed clearing your browser and Java caches, and are still having the same issue, please respond with the information requested below so I may troubleshoot your issue further.
• Do you have any anti-virus software installed?
• Are you behind a firewall?
• Are you using any ad-blocking software?
I realize that collecting this information is a bit time consuming and can be difficult, but I need this data in order to recommend a solution that will work for you.
Please let us know if you have any additional questions, we'll do our best to help.
Caches for all browsers, all temporary files, the java cache and temporary files were cleared within the first 5 minutes of this beginning months ago. We have retried this a minimum of seven times, including before emailing this report. This even occurs WITH A NEWLY INSTALLED BROWSER that had never been on that system before and thus lacked a cache.And then Pogo replies:
This happens with the antivirus (redacted-name given) and firewall (redacted-name given) OFF. It also happens with the antivirus and firewall UNINSTALLED.
There are no adblocking applications run on the computer which has this problem.
This cannot be solved by updating java, clearing a cache, installing new browser, or doing a clean install of java.
Java works perfectly with every other site.
Speaking as a person who has done, and CARED ABOUT, customer service, I reply:
Thanks for contacting us again.
Please know that if you're using any Antivirus or Firewall these might cause such problem. Some Anti-virus software packages have very high levels of protection available. That's great for keeping your computer free from viruses, but it can prevent you from playing our games. We suggest checking the documentation for the software to see if you can lower the settings for online web browsing.
Just for your information if you're running a firewall or are playing from behind a network firewall, chances are good that the firewall is blocking the Pogo servers from connecting to your computer. If you need help configuring your firewall to allow you to play Pogo games, please reply to this message and I'll provide you with the information you need.
Ad blocking software can also prevent the game from loading. Ad-blocking is an option in many anti-virus packages, and there are also standalone ad-blocking mechanisms. We recommend turning any ad-blocking software off while playing our games. You can turn the ad blocking back on after you're done playing.
The best way to see if any one of these things is causing your issue is to *temporarily* disable one software package at a time and try to load the problematic game. (For example, turn off your antivirus software package, try to load a table game like Hearts, and see if it works. In any case, you can turn your antivirus software back on after running this quick test.) If the game starts loading properly after you've disabled one or more of your security packages, you can then determine which one needs to be reconfigured to allow you to play.
In addition, if you have any other questions or information that might help us better assist you, please let me know. Thank you very much!
Pogo gets back to me:
QUOTE: "Please know that if you're using any Antivirus or Firewall these might cause such problem. Some Anti-virus software packages have very high levels of protection available. That's great for keeping your computer free from viruses, but it can prevent you from playing our games. We suggest checking the documentation for the software to see if you can lower the settings for online web browsing."
You mean, like when I said: "This happens with the antivirus (redacted-name given) and firewall (redacted-name given) OFF. It also happens with the antivirus and firewall UNINSTALLED."
Or the first time, when I said: "Message occurs even if firewall is OFF. Message occurs even if all security, including antivirus, firewall, pop-up blocker, etc. is off.
This is an at-home connection, and there were no firewall changes before pogo ceased working, a couple of months ago."
Wow. the guys at [redacted] were right, your help system is...um...not helping.
Hello [redacted],Now, for those of you paying attention, you'll notice a "eaeasyinforeport.xml" attached to the first letter. Now, for Pogo nathan, this is a link, to the actual eaeasyinforeport.xml file, which is the file he's refering to above. I've sent it via their system AND ATTACHED IT TO THE INITIAL EMAIL. There's no way they don't have it. :
Thank you for contacting us again.
In order to provide you with the better assistance I am forwarding your issue to higher level for investigation, so please send us more information about your computer. We have developed an application that will summarize your system information and send to us. The Easy Info program is easy to use. You can download the latest version of EasyInfo by saving the EasyInfo.msi file attached at the bottom of this FAQ.
Or refer the "Easy - info - Pogo™ Edition" link available under Pogo Tool Box on Pogo help page.
For your convenience I have included the steps you must follow:
Click on "EasyInfo Ver.3" icon placed on your desktop.
A dialogue box will appear, go to Send system Info.
Click on the 'Send to EA' button available under 'Save Report' .
Login with your screenname.
Choose any game as a default and click on the "Select Game" button.
This will automatically send us your system report and help us to investigate your issue further.
said info was attached on initial report, do you even read these letters? SEE ADDITIONAL DOCUMENTS
Remember, that this question is stored as a discussion thread, in a form similar to what you're seeing here.
Hello [redacted],@Road_Marks pens the response, actually spelling her own name wrong in the process. She's getting frustrated AT ME, and I'm trying to tell her that short of reformatting her hard drive, I can't do anything. All of my tools say this error is on Pogo's end.
Thanks for contacting us again and I apologize for any delay in responding your message.
Please be knows that, when Pogo displays the Unable to Connect to Server error, normally it means the information being transmitted from your computer over the Internet to Pogo is not arriving at our computers. Several things can cause the information not to make it to our computers.
However, recently we've noticed a lot of AOL players getting this message while the Pogo service is running just fine. We suspect this is due to the use of 'Favorites' to get into Pogo. If you get this message all the time and you're using a favorite or bookmark to get to Pogo, that may be the problem. Try deleting your bookmark or favorite and browsing to Pogo that way.
If you get this error just once in a while, you can chalk this up to Internet instability. Try disconnecting from your ISP and dialing up again, it should clear up the problem.
Will somebody actually READ THIS PLEASE????????
I AM NOT AN AOL USER.
THIS OCCURS WITH A FRESH INSTALL OF A BROWSER WITH THE ADDRESS TYPED.
WHY DO YOU ASK FOR INFORMATION AND THEN DON'T BOTHER TO READ IT?
I have been on this site since 2000 and I will not renew my membership if I do not get a clear indication that I am getting anything other than a canned response and that somebody is actually trying to help me here.
Pogo responds...and note this is LONG after they've requested and got their eaeasyinforeport, which is the same thing attached to the file.:
Hello [redacted],Apparently, threatening the money faucet gets a third Customer Support Rep. So, I follow these steps, and also send the following:
Thanks for writing back.
I am sorry, the easy info that you have sent is not the one we are looking for, please send us the easy info using the steps requested in previous email.
The Easy Info program is easy to use. You can download the latest version of EasyInfo by saving the EasyInfo.msi file attached at the bottom of this FAQ.
Or refer the "Easy - info - Pogo™ Edition" link available under Pogo Tool Box on Pogo help page.
For your convenience I have included the steps you must follow:
Click on "EasyInfo Ver.3" icon placed on your desktop.
A dialogue box will appear, go to Send system Info.
Click on the 'Send to EA' button available under 'Save Report' .
Login with your screenname.
Choose any game as a default and click on the "Select Game" button.
This will automatically send us your system report and help us to investigate your issue further.
DID THIS AGAIN, I took these steps with the initial email as well, and according to the software the XML file is the SAME thing as the "send to EA file" so it should be redundant. Does your right hand know what your left hand is doing? Is the problem that your right hand is on twitter and your left hand is on facebook? Maybe they could follow or friend each other?Now, note, I did not uninstall the firewall and antiviruses again. I just turned them OFF this time. The response was:
Hi [redacted],And then I reply:
Thanks for providing information.
I apologize for the delay in responding to your email and for the inconvenience this may have caused to you. The information you send us indicates that you are currently using antivirus software, you'll probably need to adjust some of the protection settings or turn it off entirely while playing the games.
Each virus scanner is substantially different, so you'll need to check with the documentation for your particular virus scanner software to find out how to disable it or to turn down the security settings. Look for settings related to Java or Applets that can be lowered.
I'm sorry I can't be of more help regarding your specific virus scanner, but they're all so different, we can't begin to compile instructions for them all. The documentation that came with the virus scanner is the best place to look for help.
Could you please actually read the emails you have been sent???I will keep my lovely readers apprised of the situation, and the #pogofail of customer service hell, but this is why your sysadmin doesn't want to let you go to pogo, because even when the problem is at their end, they don't know what it is. Also, I've found at least 3 places on her computer that aren't for cookies or temp files where pogo has stored their trash files. If anyone knows where one more place might be hidden, the place with the cookie of doom or whatever is invaling her queue, please email me.
I remind you of the first AND second ones in this exchange, which can be seen directly above:
"Message occurs even if firewall is OFF. Message occurs even if all security, including antivirus, firewall, pop-up blocker, etc. is off."
"This happens with the antivirus [redacted] and firewall [redacted] OFF. It also happens with the antivirus and firewall UNINSTALLED.
There are no adblocking applications run on the computer which has this problem."