Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

From Russia with Love

Posted: February 3, 2015 in Life
Tags: , , , ,

Lots of police-on-civilian violence in the news coming from within the USA recently. I thought I’d share my Russian version of things.

My mother, my little brother and I were living in Vladivostok, Siberia. We had just gotten up to our apartment, through the locked exterior door, up the key-activated elevator, and past the locking hallway door of our floor as well. We walked up to our steel barricade of a personal door and my mother began punching in the code. Between carrying bags of groceries in one hand and my little brother in the other (I have no idea what I was carrying), she still managed to get the massively heavy door to swing open, as she did every day, then proceeded to unlock the wooden interior door.

Vault112Only a hundred or so doors to go!

Maybe by now you have noticed two things.

1. We must have been fairly well-off to have had all this security.
and
2. Holy shit, that is a lot of security for a crummy two-bedroom apartment in a part of town where serial murderers were a monthly occurrence!
Just the other week, a woman was strangled to death with her leggings in one of our building’s elevators. Apparently, the current serial rapist was a ‘leggings fetishist’, so women were advised not to wear any lest they tempt him with their womanly wiles.

19evq452e55g3jpg                                                                     SO asking for it

At this point, stumbling into our ‘stylishly undersized’ apartment, she went about prioritizing between the placement of her children and the placement of the groceries. That is when the alarm went off.
Spinning about, my mother rushed to the door — it had stayed ajar too long and triggered the siren.
Fumbling with her keys she yelled (over the noise) for me to watch my little brother as she rushed through the door to get the land-lady down the hall to turn off the alarm, closing both home doors behind her.

The alarm soon died and I went back to putting away the food. My attention was sparked, however, when I heard a thump against our door. Walking back over to it, I found my little brother standing there, looking at it with his hand in his mouth — he had heard it too.
I stood next to him, a few feet away from the door, staring at the flimsy but pretty inside door. There were then a series of small popping explosions and the metal exterior door came crashing inward, taking the wooden one with it.
Six men in military camouflage gear, wearing helmets and ski masks, wielding automatic rifles and strapped with grenades, piled into our living room.

24a                                    Welcome to adulthood! I think puberty just hit all at once!

To put this surreal situation another way, I just had the SPETSNAZ breach my steel front door with explosives and point their AK-47s at me and my 2 year old brother while screaming at us to identify ourselves. I was 10, starting down the barrel of (into the barrel of?) a rifle. I think its right around then that I came to terms with the fear of death – saving my little brother was more important than worrying about mortality.
Everything seemed to slow down and it appeared to me that I had all the time in the world to decide what to do (I later learned that this is called an ‘adrenaline rush’ and can take years to master willingly in stressful situations).
Having had this ‘time’ to consider, I pulled my brother behind me, puffed out my chest, and answered that ‘we live here’.
The lead-man hesitated and pulled down his mask without lowering his rifle.
“What did you say, boy?” he asked.
“WE LIVE HERE,” I repeated, matter-of-factly. The strangest sort of calm had come over me and it seemed to stun this soldier.

Its_13e715_238988                   This isn’t actually funny. Brazilian cops are paid to beat street urchins to death.

Why soldiers were responding to a police alarm in the first place, I still do not know. Maybe SWAT was occupied elsewhere. Maybe the bribes were better working street. Maybe they were just passing through.
Whatever the case, at this point, my mother rushed in swearing and screaming apologies, shoving past the armed men as she threw literally handfuls of money at each of them (“for their trouble”) before finally getting to the point-man and handing him the rest of the considerable amount of cash she had with her.
As they happily filed out, the leader sternly reminded her to promptly keep her (detached) door closed at all times to avoid this in the future.

Now, imagine if she did not have a lot of money. Or that the SPETSNAZ man didn’t hesitate to blow away some ten and two year old professional burglars/terrorists. Or that we weren’t well-off by their standards. We would have been entirely at their mercy (as opposed to just being able to bargain for it).
That is the situation for 99% of the people on the planet who have to deal with overzealous police-departments. Instead of sending well-manner police officers, or — I don’t know — just a regularly lethal strike team, they might send FUCKING SOLDIERS.
Don’t we all feel safer?

“It is the job of the police to protect the people, and the job of the military to fight the enemies of the state. When the military are the police, the people tend to become the enemies of the state.”

~From Russia with Love

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                                                           Rattata, I choose you!

I own rats. Or more specifically; I have furry kids. Rats have an unjustly designed reputation among humans. The myth of them spreading disease is vastly exaggerated. The Bubonic Plague, for instance, was spread by Mongol tribes who sent rats and cats infected with fleas to Europe on trade ships in the first recorded ‘biological attack‘. These flees were then transferred from the felines and the rodents to the unwashed European masses resulting in the ‘Black Death’. And yet, I do not see cats being euthanized for their part in that sordid history (of which they had no control over anyway).
Here is a simplistic history lesson for your kids (or you), courtesy of the dreaded Disney Corporation:

To those they bond with, rats are affectionate and loyal to a fault. They are independent like cats, and can eat (almost) anything you do, thus making them very low-hassle pets. They are also very loving, like dogs, and greatly enjoy to cuddle or riding on their human’s shoulder.
Our rats have free-range of the common-area of our home, since it is our firm belief that keeping an animal (human or otherwise) confined to a cage for the majority of its existence will drive it insane and (unsurprisingly) turn it hostile to its captors.
This puts me not only in the minority of animal owners, but also in the minority of rat owners.
Double trouble!
Our rats chase our cat and ferrets around and play with them as they would with another rat from their own pack. They have adopted and have been adopted by all the inhabitants of our home (we have two rats, two ferrets, and a cat). Like ferrets, rats are social creatures, so it is good to have one other of their species for them to cuddle with when you aren’t around.

557522_337938352980743_996786424_n                                        They just want to cuddle! (and of course, feast on your cat’s food)

Allow me to back up. I recently found a rat-lover’s group on facebook and enthusiastically joined, only to discover that they have strict rules regarding posting other animals getting along with rats because ‘its a dangerous example’. I took particular offense to this because of the strong friendship between my wife’s cat and my familiar, Katirina.

cat and rats2                                Katirina the Great (rat) cuddling with her favorite friend, Hannibal the Cannibal (cat)

This bewildering denial of something I would have imagined rat owners would be proud to advertise aside, they also all took a firm stand against allowing their animal companions to free-range. This REALLY pissed me right the hell off, and I asserted that:
1. Animals take after their humans, so if their animals could not be made to get along and see each other as family, they the humans, are SHITTY parents.
and
2. A rat (or any animal) needs to be comfortable with its human and other animal housemates as well as its environment before it can be taught right from wrong (for instance, litter-box training or learning that it is not ok to chew on electric cords). This is impossible, if they are confined to a cage for 90% of their existence unless some giant mammal occasionally feels like reaching in and petting on them. That is clearly a terrible existence for any creature, and unsurprisingly, these type of rat owners have overwhelmingly failed to truly bond with their companions.
In short, I called all of these rat-bastards terrible people, and expressed honest sympathy for their captive animals.
One retort I received challenged that ‘they are better off in a cage than dead on the street or being fed to a snake’.
No shit. Of course, if your best argument is that the existence you provide them is slightly better than death, then you’ve only endeavored to make my point for me.

025                                      The Family, before our ferratty kids joined it. (mom is holding the camera)

However, like with caring for any animal, there are hardships. One thing I can say to the negative about taking care of rats is their very short lifespan (3-5 years). It is very difficult when an animal familiar you have bonded with dies of old age or health complications after only such a short time together. Additionally, be prepared for the development of possible tumors if you are caring enough to rescue them from being fed to snakes by buying them off a breeder. Since those fucked up people tend to inbreed the poor creatures, it creates health problems, specifically with the mammary tumors of female rats. But a good veterinarian can give your beloved animal many more months to live even as you give them a life worth living.

Morgan LeFay recovered from her surgery                                 Morgan Le Fay recovering, after Doctor Tanja successfully removed her tumor.

Older rats are prone to strokes but can often recover very quickly. Regardless, your older companion will require a lot of personal care to make her final days as dignified and peaceful as possible. Feed her how you can, keep her clean, and keep her close.
Before Katirina and Morgan passed away, we adopted a baby rat named Anniebel so that our old girls could pass on what they learned about living with people to their little sister. After they died, and Annie grew a bit, we decided to try breeding her (a fancy rat) with a Dumbo rat (to avoid the inbreeding issues).

photo7                                                                    Anniebel all preggers!

She gave us a litter of two, beautiful baby boys. Zechs Marquise and Dorian Gray. A group of rats is called ‘a mischief’, so to be more accurate, Annie gave birth to a mischief of two!

IMG-20140130-00298When they are happy, they will ‘brux’ (grind) their teeth together to tell you they are content. When they get REALLY happy, their bruxing makes their eyes bobble!!

We then decided to try getting a pair of ferrets, contrary to all the online warnings about how ruthlessly cruel ferrets can be to rats. Of course, by then, we were taking these terrified pearls of ‘wisdom’ with a grain of salt since we received much the same untrue advice about cats and rats living together. Our cat Hannibal loves nothing more than to be protective of his rattie friends (even if they do chase him around occasionally). So baby ferrets we got, named Marcus Antonius and Vicious Vorenus. Anniebel quickly took to putting them in their place, teaching the ferrets what was okay and what was off-limits. She was a spunky mom, to be sure!

IMG_20140613_234831                                                               “Good ferret! This is okay.”

I would like to close up by saying that rats are beautiful, empathic creatures, and people who take the time to look past their own medieval prejudices will be privileged indeed to have a rattie companion in their life. Rats, when made a free-ranging part of the family, can get along with any other animal; provided you are patient and willing to help all the animals learn that you love each and every one of them all the more when they love each other. And then? Then they will love you right back.

Marriage is the sexist, socially-accepted selling of people into male domination. I find it, and the unnatural state of monogamy it attempts to enforce to be quite abhorrent. Therefore, I greatly enjoy the idea of turning the whole twisted institution on its head and having the female take full control of the whole process. As such, if I were ever to indulge in the masochism of marriage, I would insist that it be I who loses a last name in that arrangement. All the interesting history was on my mother’s side anyway.

Now, I realize that most people do not exactly see it all that way, so allow me to address some concerns you may raise in response to the above sentiments.

First of all, this video says everything I need to say about monogamy.

Its bought and paid for, dammit!
And I’ve got the receipt to prove it too!

Second, some men act as if marriage is a trap* set for us by the conniving females – a loss of our independence, as opposed to the concept of gaining ownership over another person.
*please don’t read the entirety of that article. That entire website is rather distasteful, but alas, illustrates the mentality I am referring to perfectly.
And I’ll grant you, things aren’t exactly as barbaric as straight-up human-trading like in those wondrous biblical days certain folks pine for. You know, the good old simple times, where women were legal property to be sold off and their primary function was to produce heirs. Heirs who, by the way, would be traced by the patriarchal line – a practice about as logically backwards and intellectually absurd as insisting that women came from men, not the other way around.

whynotmatrimony
You should listen to him. After all, he’s a Doctor!

In a way, I understand the male resentment of the whole arrangement — upon entrance into this contract, we lose our sexual independence as the marriage implies a monogamous relationship. Naturally, the same is true for women but we’ll get to that in a minute. Men may feel marriage is a woman’s invention (its not) to insure they are around for the raising of children and providing for the family and so on and so forth and some men take to the ‘natural’ model of this idea and have no problem with it. Traditionally, the men are still in charge. Modern-day ‘first-world’ nations continue to have an earnings gap of in favor of men (here is a great video explaining why thats the case), so its still pretty easy to be the ‘bread-winners’.
So whats the harm, REALLY?
Speaking of people-spawn… (an oft-cited by-product of human coupling in and outside of marriage)
…it really IS pretty shitty to run around impregnating folks and then leaving them alone to deal with the psychological, physical, fiscal, familial, social, and possibly religious implications.
Like, WAY worse than jaywalking.

deadbeatdudes
Happy Father’s Day, MOM

Many women, on the other hand, are raised since childhood to look forward to The Wedding Day. In fact, it is often cited as the ‘Happiest Day of a Woman’s Life‘.
Isn’t that sad?
To think that getting hitched to some bloke is the culminating achievement of a person’s existence?
I would think not, and indeed some people want more from life.
But alas, not everyone sees the practice as backwards.
Okay.
Be that is it may, I don’t exactly see the appeal of partaking in an archaic tradition of subjugation — even if your modern variant might not actually be at all oppressive. But hey, I guess thats what happens when people let others define the idea of ‘romance’ for them. You get long-dead people’s ideals entrenched into a social psyche and you end up with people raised into gender stereotypes of pink and fluffy versus blue and gruff(y?) even if those things might not feel at all natural to you on an individual basis (and probably shouldn’t on a group basis either). Also, unlike the males, there is a certain kind of pressure for the female to be chaste — a by-product of the days (not exactly all gone) when a woman was seen as a tool for procreation (and it seems ‘used’ tools are worth less…because people are ‘things’ and a woman who know how to enjoy her gentiles is ICKY! And probably a witch).

mrs..anderson
Considering the options…

So anyway, I’m sure most people aren’t so morbid about the whole affair but I find the idea of other people’s wacky binding rituals of two lovers (lovers, provided it isn’t one of those arranged-marriage deals) to be pretty much useless to me. Whats worse, this forced, unnatural monogamous relationship (meaning it governs the sexual aspects of the marriage as well) is not only made the standard socially AND in the eyes of the Law, but all too often has religious elements tied intrinsically into the entire affair (a by-product of theocratic rule spilling over into modern-day government regulation).

And so the two people burn an effigy to the deity of fertility and dance naked around a fire on the full moon….or have the patriarch of the bride pass her off to the new penis-haver while people throw rice and stroll solemnly through a religious temple — whichever sounds less ridiculous to you — and then they are MARRIED.
Yay.
Now these two people are entitled to certain government-sanctioned privileges and have a noticeably different social standing as opposed to their unbound (unwed?) counterparts. Well jolly good for you, then!
Mazel Tov!

Now back to the important topic – myself:

526804_475130382540833_370298069_n
If I’m awesome and you know it clap your hands!

My current lover of several years and I are considering marriage. She is a practicing pagan and as such, the religious aspect of such a union are important to her.
Before we became lovers (how juvenile does ‘girlfriend/boyfriend’ sound?), we agreed that in order to avoid the rather cruel act of betrayal that is ‘cheating’ (on people, not on tests), we would inform one another if we found other people attractive BEFORE we deigned to sleep with them (sleep as in having The Sex). If the other party was not comfortable with this revelation, we would attempt to find some resolution. If no compromise could be made, we would part amicably as adults (not as Jerry Springer guests-stars).
This arrangement of genuine, beneficial-for-everyone honesty has worked quite well for us.

A year ago, the prospect of marriage was broached by me as something that made fiscal sense if she were to go into the military. This led to the revelation that marriage is something that is ultimately important to her spiritually. Nothing about our previous arrangement would have to change and since it means so very little to me, it would have been odd for me to refuse. So, I set terms for the arrangement to the effect that she would need to buy me an engagement ring and propose to me in a crowded (but fancy) restaurant. Were I to then accept (I would), we could have a ceremony with one of her Wiccan priestesses presiding as cleric and I would take her last name (which sounds more cool than mine, anyway).

pinkyoutfancy
If you like it put a ring on it

I find this to be an example of a healthy relationship and a rather fun reason to partake in the ritual of marriage. It changes literally nothing about my life, except maybe change the way I file taxes (we are already co-habitating), and grants my partner something that is important to her because of her beliefs.

I see no reason why the trust that can be established between two people cannot be extended to other people as well. Arguing to the contrary is akin to claiming you only have enough love for exactly one person. Some people have more affection to give. Others feel just peachy with one partner. I say do what makes yourself and those you care about happy and you’ll be just fine.

In short: make your own definitions. Define yourself. Do not allow others to rule you with entrenched social axioms and absurd ritualistic peer-pressure.
I think that is very basic and sound advice.

Macho Military Mentality

Posted: October 1, 2013 in Life
Tags: , , , ,

The military and other ‘manly’ jobs often have a (well-deserved) stigma of being crass.
I would like to share an instance from my time in the United States military. This took place at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. The fort’s recruit population was exclusively male, though plenty of seasoned staff were female, including the Colonel in charge. This gender discrimination among recruits had something to do with the fact that artillery (which this fort specialized in) was one of those jobs segregated to males only. Why this affected Basic Training recruits I have no idea, though I heard that those rules changed shortly after my group graduated.
Anyway.

formation

We were standing in formation, the stern and impassive face of one of our drill-sergeants relating the plan of the day when suddenly he paused and turned to look off in the distance as a group of ROTC Cadets — mostly female — went marching by. I do not know why they were there, and it was the only time I ever saw them. Perhaps they were on some excursion from their college. Either way, the formality was broken as our drill-sergeant removed his hat in order to ‘take in the sight’. This unofficially gave everyone in formation leave to rubberneck and grin and talk.

I looked over like everyone else as the women marched by. I even smiled as some of them looked back, though my gaze did not linger. Seeing them reaffirmed the knowledge that I greatly missed the company of women, but I was soon looking attentively back at the drill-sergeant, awaiting further instruction.

By the way, when I say ‘missed the company of’, I mean several things. Sexually, sure. But that was not the actual sentiment. I decided that I generally preferred female company in literally any environment or activity. My reasoning for this was validated a moment later when a comrade who was standing next to me, who had evidently taken note of the fact that I had not gaped at the passing females as long as the others, decided to comment while the informal atmosphere of wistful and vulgar murmuring continued to swarm around us.

woohoo

He said something to the effect of “Whats the matter, K? Not interested in female ass?”
“Indeed,” I replied dryly, keeping my eyes fixed on the drill — who had made the rare act of breaking the hardass character of the drill-sergeant and was grinning and making lewd comments along with the rest of the boys, “I am more interested in the entire package.”

Laughter howled around me as my compatriots judged that I had made a good retort and retained my ‘manhood’. Knowing that they had misunderstood however, I continued, “I do not know any of those women, as such they are of no interest to me. I have better things to do than act like a savage.”

“What did you say?” He asked with an edge in his tone, knowing full-well what I had said.
Perhaps he though I had meant it as an insult based on our different ethnicities.

I looked at him coolly before clarifying, “As in, it is barbaric to drool over women like a jackass.”

Everyone quieted down. The drill-sergeant was watching closely now, with narrowed eyes. Clearly, I’ve managed to offend most if not all of them.

“We’re supposed to be savage!” my fellow soldier sneered, breaking the silence.

“HOO-AH!” cried a few of his friends, in support.

Before voices could join the supporting cries and the conversation come to a close, I hasted to correct him.

“On the contrary,” I snapped, perhaps too sharply. “This is as civilized and disciplined as society gets.”
What I meant was, the military SHOULD be as civilized and disciplined as any place in society could be.

Nothing more came of the conversation. The scoffing died down immediately soon after the drill-sergeant replaced his wide-brimmed hat, and my peers merely thought of me as even more tight-assed then before. Also possibly homosexual.

I was perfectly fine with both or either of these assessments. Though neither helped me win any off-clock popularity contests, they did not impact any leadership duties I was to be assigned thereafter. Thankfully, there were some among my future superiors who still valued performance over popularity-polls.
Maybe it was a harmless incident and the drill-sergeant was just giving us a rare moment to be silly.
Maybe its important to set a fucking example and throw the boys club attitude out the airlock when in just the last year alone 26,000 soldiers reported being raped in the United States military.

Personally, I do not see how a difficult profession is an excuse for sexism (or worse). If anything, it should instill a greater sense of dignity the harder the tasks.

PS: I know women can be vulgar too. The difference, it seems to me, is that when guys do it there tends to be more of a creepy under-current that makes me go
gross

woman chooses
No one has ever won their freedom by appealing to the humanity of the those enslaving them

The men who speak of self-sacrifice, speak of slaves and masters — and aim to be the masters. Those men insist that you are wretched and vilify any sense of happiness. The people that follow such men are accordingly filled with Fear at the concept of rejoicing in their own natures, which they are told are inherently base, flawed and/or ‘sinful’. These self-loathing followers are therefore filled with seething Hatred for all those who do not follow their self-deprecating creeds. Their consistent Fear of themselves and Guilt at their own natures causes them to like ways strike dread into the hearts of others (sometimes violently). The people that follow these doctrines jeer at the sight of any who manage to achieve any sense self-sustaining happiness not born of their own deprecation or the ridicule of others. In the eyes of the followers, these religious apostates/political dissidents fall even lower than themselves on those demented ladders of ‘morality’ and ‘virtue’.
But if ever you hear a woman telling you that you must be happy, that it is your natural right to smile, that your first duty is to delight in your existence — that will be the person who needs nothing of you and is the enemy of those who would rule you by denying you joy. Historically, the individuals urging for personal happiness get shot for their trouble. Why? Because the followers get taken in en-mass by the Fear and the Hate of countless philosophies — religious and secular — that preach guilt and sacrifice of the self. Then people wonder why atrocities are common-place.

God-Hates-Everyone
You are not responsible for the programming you were force-fed in childhood. However, as an adult, you are 100% responsible for fixing it.

Fear and Hate are two sides of the same twisted coin — they are prosthetics built by feeble minds attempting to grasp at the nuances of stimuli beyond their small cognitions. They are also a tool of manipulation. It can be argued that ‘Fear keeps you alive’ and ‘Hate gives you strength’. To the logical who have a grasp over both their own actions and emotions, Caution and Anger provide all the benefits of Fear and Hate without the self-destructive drawbacks.
You must be active if you wish to be free of oppression and then to keep the freedom which you have earned or inherited.
Face your oppressors.
Confront your abusers in every space they occupy.
Give not an inch.
Challenge all their fear-fueling, hate-filled rhetoric and feel no shame.
Allow no guilt to hold you from your task and tolerate no apathy to seep into your soul. Guilt is the tool through which the manipulated followers can garner self-satisfying redemption for their failures, and apathy is the excuse. That is not to say you should be immoral (needlessly cruel). The logical have no need for guilt and no patience for apathy. You have within you the discipline to not simply live by your chosen creeds, but to also seize responsibility for your lapses in judgment — a necessary action in order to fix mistakes instead of simply regretting them (as guilt would have one do). Guilt therefore, is a crutch for those who need others to validate their morality.
You do not have time for apathy. The stakes are far too high. We, as a species, are losing far too much.

Quote 2
Quote 3
Freedom is not given, it is fought for and earned or lost, each and every day.

Women have and continue to be legendary philosophers, warriors, and scientists, despite being the single largest and longest-standing oppressed group of humans throughout history. Many ethnic, gender, and religious groups have and continue to face similar persecution despite our collective claims of ‘virtue’ and ‘civilization’. If you feel that the oppression of these people does not effect you, think again — every individual is adversely affected by global atrocities against the nature of our species to varying degrees, even you.
Do not bother with guilt.
Take responsibility for your apathy, then fix yourself by taking action.

Quote
To any sentient being, there is no emotion more important than Hope. Nothing can begin without first being a Dream.

One finds freedom from Fear, Hate, and Guilt when one is able to let go of everything that one clings to — and not in that ‘self-sacrificing’ way. You have to come to terms with Death and the changing nature of the universe. You have to fully love and enjoy everything you are and everything you have and everyone you care about even as you know that all those things will eventually become lost to you. You must take the time to feel that loss and grieve before it inevitably comes. Taking the time to do this, will free you of the fear of that loss and allow you to truly cherish what you have while you have it. And when the loss finally comes, you will be ready to accept it with dignity and be able to be grateful for the experiences you enjoyed.
You already faced the music before it started.
You are invincible to loss because you embraced it so fully.
Yet you are not made of stone.
You cherish and savor each emotion but you no longer despair.
Your passions are even and ever-burning.
You are an eternal fire and you are ready to stand up for something worthwhile —
Yourself.

Which is stronger, fearlessness or bravery?
Bravery implies intent and action. Fearlessness is a state of being.
“We are what we repeatedly do, excellence therefore is not an act, but a habit.”

atrocity

______________________________________________________
I have never commented on recent news (or any news). I am breaking that trend today. Fox News has openly attacked Wiccans (or maybe all Pagans) because the University of Missouri has decided to include Wiccan holidays and that is just too amazing to leave to others.
I have never talked about Fox News before. Perhaps today I am struck with a fervor. Perhaps as a naturalized citizen and veteran of the US Army I am feeling patriotic and compelled.
I will address each offensive statement step by step:

“There’s Wiccans and Pagans out there. Probably–I don’t know if they make up a large percentage of the population.”
“I do–they don’t.”
“Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha!”
1. Whether Pagans making up a large or small portion of the population is irrelevant. Not allowing them their 1st Amendment because you say they are a minority is Anti-American.

(By the way, Paganism is any religious faith not based on the three patriarchal monotheistic religions, which means this term includes religions like Taoism and Buddhism and Hinduism among literally countless others from all over the world. I can only assume you are talking about Wicca specifically so that is what I will refer to from here on as I address your statements)

“Now the bad side of Wiccanism is that its obviously a form of  ‘witchcraft’, but the upside is you get a ton of holidays.”
2. There is no ‘downside’ to Wicca any more than there is a ‘downside’ to Christianity…except Witches didn’t torture and burn millions of Christian women. Christians did. Do you not know your own atrocious history? Have you neglected to read or even heard of the Malleus Maleficarum? Also, its cute how you imply that people become Wiccan for the ‘many’ holidays or that observing numerous holidays is somehow childish/amusing.

“20% if all school holidays as described by the University of Missouri are Wiccan holidays. Twenty percent of all!!”
3. Conversely, 20% of their holidays are Christian, why don’t you complain about that instead? You should, because you’re ‘fair and balanced’.

“Its about Pagans and Wiccans being used for a political agenda to downgrade whats important to a majority of Americans. I think this is an anti-tradition action. I think Pagans and Wiccans should be VERY angry about being used by the establishment.”
4. How is Pagan and Wiccan traditions being respected alongside others translate to Wiccans being ‘used’ by the ‘establishment’. How is it anti-tradition when this upholds traditions much older than your own along side YOUR OWN? Why should Wiccans be angry at the University? Should they not be angry at YOU? If not for the history of brutality, than at least for these continuing insults of their ancient traditions?

“Right! And somehow if you’re Christian in this country, too that you can’t say ‘Merry Christmas’ to somebody or else you’re trying to push your Christian faith on other people!”
5. You can’t say ‘Merry Christmas’? Where can’t you say ‘Merry Christmas’? I have yet to see anyone get angry about this. What I have heard is ‘certain’ people get angry when they hear a more inclusive ‘Happy Holidays’. Further, how is observing holidays equivalent to ‘pushing’ religion on people? If that is the case, then the observation of ANY holiday is ‘pushing’ religion.

“Right, but you get TWENTY holidays now if you’re a Wiccan.”
6. Wiccans do not ‘get’ 20 holidays. I am personally not Wiccan. In fact I can only name two Wiccan holidays off the top of my head: Samhain and Yule. The first is reverence of the dead and the second a marking of the winter solstice. Actually taking a moment to research this, there are in fact six others for a total of eight. That is twelve short of ‘twenty’ (according to basic math). The University confirms, with Christians holding 7 and Wiccans being outnumbered by Jewish holidays, not counting others. But perhaps you ‘accidentally’ mixed up the percentage of the University holidays being observed with the physical number and it ‘accidentally’ sounds alarmist.

“Any religion who’s most sacred day is Halloween I just can’t take seriously.”
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7. Well I could point out the spiritual vs the commercial difference between the Samhain and Halloween but instead I could say that I can’t take seriously a religion that stole two of its most famous holidays from the Wiccans. Christmas is just Yule with the word ‘Christ” thrown in (including the tree). Easter is not actually a holiday but a Pagan Goddess Eostre who represented fertility and rebirth with bunnies and eggs and celebrated life through divinely inspired sex (went the opposite way on the last part, huh?).

“Call me a bigot.”
8. You are a bigot.

“How many Wiccans can name every Wiccan holiday?”
9. As I said, before looking into this I could only name two of the eight. I am sure a Wiccans could name all eight. Shouldn’t be that hard. In fact I bet you can, Christianity having ‘borrowed’ most of them.

“I don’t know a single Wiccan.”
10. The company you keep is very telling.

“I will say this, because you know we’re journalists and I have covered this.”
11. LOL

“I went and interviewed a number of Wiccans and they say ‘Look we are the most peaceful individuals, we just–we don’t practice, crazy things, we’re just Of the Earth.‘”
12. Uh huh? And this will be followed by…

“I think thats right. Every Wiccan I’ve ever known is either a compulsive deep–Dungeons and Dragons player or is a middle-aged, twice-divorced older woman living in a rural area who works as a mid-wife.”
13. Somebody throw a D20 and a battleaxe at this asshole. I’m done. Thats all I can do.

I leave you with these words a witch kindly puts it into song for us:

THE BLOCKADE

             The 900 Day Blockade of St. Petersburg

                A WWII Survivor Tale

                 In Commemoration Of:

              Maya Peterson

             &

               All the souls lost in WWII and Stalin’s Purges

            Told By:

                    Elena (Peterson) O’Donoghue

               Written By:

               Aleksandr Kolpakov

       

The following historical account was orally passed on to me by my mother. I wish to share with you the narrative as my mother recounted the heroic story of my Grandmother and her family during the terrible events of the Nine-Hundred days-long St. Petersburg blockade of the Great Patriotic War (WWII) as she, Maya Peterson, experienced it. I hope you the reader, can also learn something new and useful out of this most painful story of my heroic Grandmother.

 the-right-one1Stalin and Mao killed their own people, ‘domicide’. “And we’re sort of fine with that. Hitler killed people next door. Oh, stupid man. After a couple of years we won’t stand for that, will we?” — Eddie Izzard

Maya Peterson was born in the city of Pushkin to a family of Russian kinsmen in 1929, which was a residence for noble families. Maya’s mother’s name was Ekaterina and her father’s was Mikhail. They were both of noble Polish and Swedish backgrounds, but were Russian citizens (or more technically for the time, Soviet citizens). Andrei, her elder brother, and Marina, her little sister lived with them. The father was an army engineer–the mother, a house wife. Maya’s Grandfather, (my Great-Great-Grandfather) Major-General Sergei Nikolaevich Wojciechowski (veet-sa-hov-ski), PICTURED LEFT was third in command of the White Army who had to stop their fighting with the Germans in WWI alongside the rest of the world and turn to fight the communists at their backs that had overrun their homeland while they were away. During this revolution both of Major-General Wojciechowski’s commanding officers,  General Vladimir Oskarovich Kappel, as well as the head of the White Movement: Admiral Aleksandr Vasilyevich Kolchak were killed (as illustrated by the recent historical movie “Admiral“). Maya’s Grandfather therefore, was known to have for some time been the default commander of the entire anti-communist ‘White Movement’. Perhaps this is one of the reasons her family along with many others were targeted for extermination by their countrymen while the rest of the world stood unified against fascism.

Months before the Red Revolution of 1917 in which the German-paid communists under Vladimir Ilyich Lenin took control of Russian Parliament–the Duma–by force. Before the destruction of the 9 month-old Democratic Provisional Government that had been established when the czar voluntarily gave up all power. Before that same czar was nonetheless executed by firing squad along with his wife and children. Maya’s family had intended to flee to France where they could seek shelter with relatives. However, a child of the family caught a severe illness and could not be moved, thus the family stayed and watched as the borders were closed off by the new communist regime and as that regime made a pact with and was paid for by the Axis Powers.

Before the second war, “Uncle” Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin’s secret police had Mikhail Peterson (Maya’s father) secretly arrested and abducted during the night. During Stalin’s early purges, all intellectuals (those having college degrees or professional jobs) and those of professed noble birth, were killed for fear of opposition of Stalin’s tyrannical rule (later, he turned against even the most loyal Communists, making the record breaking genocide numbers of his reign of terror from the time of the Revolution to the time of his death in 1954 an unholy, unspeakable, 62 million Russian lives not counting war and famine casualties which were always in the high millions.*
* these numbers were released by modern-day Oxford Scholars

Maya Peterson lived with the remnants of her family in St. Petersburg (then known as Leningrad) when the Second World War began. Once again, the world stood together to fight the Germans and once again the communists made a pact with them. It was not long however, before the fascists betrayed that pact and invaded an unprepared Russia. The Peterson family owned their own manor on the bank of the river Neva (the manor is still there, though our family does not have the documents to claim it as our own). When the Nazi blockade began, all the schools closed and Maya’s mother went to work, something unheard of for a noblewoman of her family’s stature. Ekaterina was paid with food stamps instead of money.

Transposition of time on the same street in St. Petersburg. Then and now.

Maya’s brother was drafted and killed in the first few weeks of the Nazi invasion. Andrei was eighteen at the time of his death. The cause of which was most certainly the preferred “method” of fighting by Stalin’s drafted young forces: to overrun the enemy position with sheer numbers, something that was purely suicidal when faced against the automatic firepower of Nazi trench warfare. These draftees were furthermore either armed with outdated muskets leftover from the First World War or with nothing at all. The combat motto was: “Go out and get a weapon”. And the response to hesitation was “We will kill your family if you don’t.”

During The Blockade there was nothing to eat. No light. And no warmth. The people that stayed alive that long had to go every morning at 03:00 to a store and stay in line in the freezing cold (-45ºC/-49.0ºF) for hours in order to obtain an inch-sized piece of bread per person each day (the “bread” was made of clay and paper). Nobody had any money that was of any use; they just had ration tickets to get the so-called ‘bread’. Maya’s mother sold all the good furniture, cloths, books, priceless relics revered as ancient family treasures, for mere pittances. Anything that could bring in some scraps of food, all so she could feed her two remaining children: Maya and Marina.
Maya’s little sister was two years old when The Blockade began, and she cried all the time as she slowly starved. Maya remembered one night very well. Maya had to go every morning across the “ghost city” to get the bread for her family since her mother had to tend to the ever-sick Marina and was herself too sick to walk long distances. Maya was twelve years old when one early morning she went for the bread and was attacked by a desperate man in the dark. She got away, but the glove that held the ration tickets was torn off during the struggle. The already starved family had to go for one whole week without any kind of food at all, until they were issued new ration tickets.
“In such a horrible time, people would eat dogs, cats, rats, even little girls…”

One night, Maya’s mother Ekaterina, died in her bed from hunger. She had been giving all her scarce food to the children for too long. The then thirteen year old Maya and the four year old Marina put their mother’s corpse on a sled in the middle of harsh winter, and dragged her through the famine stricken town to be dropped into the “Body-Hole”, were all those who died in The Blockade were dumped without ceremony. They were–from that moment on–all on their own.

A Soviet version of the Red Cross would go around the city and pick up stray children and pack them into military trucks, Maya and Marina were scooped up by one such truck. The Soviets then took lines of these trucks across the frozen Neva river, through The Blockade, and into public foster homes. However, trucks would often fall through the ice and the children inside would quickly die from exposure. To make the trek more hazardous still, the Nazis were also firing their long-range cannons on the column of ‘Red Cross’ trucks as they attempted to cross. Due to the cadence of their shelling, every odd-count truck was blown away by the missile-fire from across the river as they fled the city. Maya and Marina were in an even count truck.

While going across the lake, Marina no longer begged for food, but for a big doll she remembered seeing in a store before The Blockade had begun. Maya kept promising that just as soon as they got to safety she would get her one just like it. Halfway across the lake Marina died of hunger in Maya’s arms.

After she escaped the Blockade, Maya stayed in a foster home until she was eighteen years old. There was much fighting and drinking, and Maya endured every single disease and pestilence of that time. Yet still she survived. Afterward, she finished school and went on into medical college. In order to join however, she had to become an official member of the Communist Party. Having no other options, she joined the community that had caused her family so much suffering in order to continue her education. Maya lacked the money to finish however, and instead worked as a hospital nurse to augment her training. Afterward, she took up after her father and became an engineer. She eventually married, though it was not to last. Her husband left Maya and her two daughters PICTURED LEFT, leaving my Grandmother with no options but to take up two extra jobs, including grueling hours iron-working at a factory in order to satisfy the fiery woman’s desire to give her children the very best in cloths, toys, and especially food. In this, she succeeded with extraordinary grace.

Maya is pictured at center, crying at the ceremony

Recently, the modern-day Russian Federation held a ceremony officially recognizing Maya Peterson along with elderly citizens who had survived the events of the Blockade to present day, as Heroes of The Motherland, and even though she no longer resides in Russia, they were given the highest awards possible for civilians of the State. Furthermore, Maya was recognized as true owner of the old family home in St. Petersburg, however she did not wish to return to a place filled with so many painful memories, and instead donated the estate to a historical society.
To this day, Maya lives in the city of Tallinn in the country of Estonia in Europe (former USSR), and thanks to her children, and her own endurance, is not the sole survivor of her noble bloodline. I am very grateful that my Grandmother–the heroine of this story–related the tale to my mother. It would sadden me beyond compare if the valiant story of my Grandmother should ever be lost to time. We are the few who are privileged to know the truth, and I am proud beyond words that my own living Grandmother has made it so.