Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Embrace intolerance...

Intolerance is a virtue
Photo by Dreams&Stuffs via Flickr

I'm about to lay some intellect on you. I'm giving you a heads up here: if it's too much for you, just skim it and I'll sum up briefly after the quote. Here goes:

“The so-called paradox of freedom is the argument that freedom in the sense of absence of any constraining control must lead to very great restraint, since it makes the bully free to enslave the meek. The idea is, in a slightly different form, and with very different tendency, clearly expressed in Plato.
"Less well known is the paradox of toleranceUnlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them. — In this formulation, I do not imply, for instance, that we should always suppress the utterance of intolerant philosophies; as long as we can counter them by rational argument and keep them in check by public opinion, suppression would certainly be unwise. But we should claim the right to suppress them if necessary even by force; for it may easily turn out that they are not prepared to meet us on the level of rational argument, but begin by denouncing all argument; they may forbid their followers to listen to rational argument, because it is deceptive, and teach them to answer arguments by the use of their fists or pistols. We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant. We should claim that any movement preaching intolerance places itself outside the law, and we should consider incitement to intolerance and persecution as criminal, in the same way as we should consider incitement to murder, or to kidnapping, or to the revival of the slave trade, as criminal.”
― Karl R. PopperThe Open Society and Its Enemies

Okay, so for the tl;dr crowd, Popper was saying this: you can't be tolerant of bigotry and hate without tolerance losing and intolerance winning. You can't truly be "tolerant." It's a paradox.

But it's really very simple when you think about it. You can't tolerate everything. The very idea is ridiculous. The key is to tolerate what ought to be tolerated in a free and just society and shun everything that seeks to undermine the ideals of freedom and justice.

So, in a free and just society, you have to tolerate women having abortions*, college students protesting things you find silly, or the winner not always winning because the system is whacked**. And, in a free and just society, you should not tolerate Nazis roaming the streets, carrying torches and swastikas, chanting derogatory things about Jews. And you should not tolerate police officers killing innocent people and getting away with it. If all of this is not clear to you, what's wrong with you?

I am a very intolerant person.

I will not tolerate (among other things):
hate for those who are different
forced patriotism
willful ignorance
Donald Trump
Donald Trump supporters
Donald Trump apologists
and, I'm sorry to say, stupidity

I'm sorry about the stupidity part, because I realize stupid people can't help it. Nonetheless, I can't tolerate it.

So, there you have it. I've embraced intolerance. And it feels good.

*This is a civil rights, personal autonomy, and privacy issue. Get over it.
**Until you change the whacked system, of course.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Hells Bells, Irma...

To paraphrase AC/DC: rolling thunder, pouring rain, she's coming on like a hurricane.

Irma is on her way and as of today, the eye of the storm is aimed right at Brevard County, FL, where yours truly lives. I'm one part calm, one part panicked, and one part concerned I won't have enough Ben & Jerry's to get through it all. (I've got a stash of Oreos in case the freezer goes out.)

I'm a lucky person, often. Certainly in the last few days. First, I didn't want to go get gas or money, so my husband came home from work and went back out again to do it for me. Maybe that's not luck, but I'm chalking it up.

Second, I needed water. My local Publix was out. My BJ's was out (Except for some kooky flavored waters. No thank you.) And Walmart was out (except for Fiji Water and I'm sorry, but I'm not paying for Fiji Water). Then the next day I went back to BJ's and I saw people coming out with brown boxes that said Zephyrhills on them. Six, eight boxes per person. (Greedy bastards.) I hurried in and managed to get myself one box (That's right ONE box people, because I wasn't the only poor soul gathered around there, trying to get the last few off the pallets). I'm sure they'll keep bringing pallets of water out as the days wear on.

Then I decided I wanted more granola bars. Walmart had none. But, as I was uptown for lunch with hubs, I decided to pop over to the other Publix and sure enough, they had my favorites. I got a few boxes, the above mentioned Oreos, some Cracker Jack, and as I was looking for flashlights (nobody had any flashlights!) I was at the back of the store when they rolled a cart full of water out from the stockroom and those of us lucky to be in the right place at the right time were allowed to take some.

"We won't make it to the shelf with them," the stock dude said. He was right.

Then I went over to Lowe's and got two really cool flashlights. The only downside is that they take AAA batteries and I'd already bought a dozen Ds at BJ's. That's the trouble with BJ's. You have to buy in bulk. I was forced to get about a thousand paper plates and about five-hundred paper bowls. What am I going to do with all of them? I refused, flat out, to purchase four-hundred plastic cups! Forget it. Luckily enough, I was able to get some at Publix.

I'm all stocked up on Diet Coke, too. So....emergency averted, right?

Odds are, we're not going to get hit as badly as it looks right now. The odds are that way because that's the way it usually turns out. Brevard County is in some sort of sweet spot. We had one, back in 2004, the Year of the Hurricanes, that was barreling right at us at a category four or five. We bugged out and had the worst experience ever. That stupid hurricane hit Brevard County as a Cat 2. (Nonetheless, there was quite a bit of devastation in our area. I don't mean to make light of other people's experiences.)

Now, I'm not saying that I'm not bugging out because I think that's going to happen again, or that I think we're invincible, or that I just don't want to leave. But I'm implying it.

We've got storm shutters to put up and a garage door that no category of wind could ever budge. A weak and old roof, to be sure. But we're up on a bit of a rise where our neighbors are a tad down below.

Speaking of sitting up on a hill of sorts. As I was coming home from Lowe's I noticed that the right lane of traffic was at a dead stop and the left (my lane) was moving along just fine. I couldn't figure out what the deal was. They were all just sitting there as we moved past them. They weren't even trying to get into our lane. Was some huge school getting out early? No. There must have been an accident in that lane. No, they'd all be moving into our lane.

It turned out that these people were in a miles long line of cars trying to get into a local park for free sandbags! Holy Cows!

I didn't get any sandbags. I think we'll be okay. It could be bad. But chances are, for us, it won't be catastrophic. Unfortunately, for others, it may very well be. In fact, it already has been. So, we'll be riding it out and hoping for the best for everyone in Irma's path.

And let's not forget that José (wtf, José ) is right behind her.

I'll try to get the Wayward Cat Book News out as usual on Tuesday. And if my electric holds out, I'll be online through the storm.

Stay safe, everyone!

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Textures of the North Charleston Marriott

Hotels have the most interesting textures and art. Some of it's bizarre, certainly. The crazy vases or chairs with eight-foot high backs. But a lot of it is a delight. And I like to take pictures of the stuff. So, here are some cool images from my recent stay at the North Charleston Marriott.

In the convention area, the hotel has what can only be...tables, that look like petrified tree stumps. Here's one in its totality* of awesomeness.

And they're just sitting there, looking funky, totally unused and probably unusable. Too low for a side table. I want one!

This is the base of a table in the lobby. Very cool. The weirdness behind and reflected in the golden slats is the carpet design.

I love taking pictures of pillows and chairs up close! The texture is amazing.

Above is a wall, sort of. Impossible photograph well. And it offers no privacy. It's just there for decoration. Here's the best pic I could get of it.

I don't really remember what this next one is. I think it's the drain of a drink dispenser in the convention area.

It's got personality, doesn't it?

A bouquet of sugar packets.

Another pillow.

This is a small part of some artwork on the wall in the convention area. 

I can't remember what this is. But it's very cool.

More art, I think.

Coffee mugs.

One of the vendors at the convention had a display of Scrabble tiles. I think we were supposed to make words, but I just wanted to take a picture.

This is a close shot of one of the crazy vases around the hotel. You can see the brick wall in the background. Below is the complete vase.

Useless, isn't it? 

I really didn't get a good picture of this...thing. But I wanted to share it anyway. I think it's art. 

This vase is more functional than the others, but still beautifully weird.

Pillow or chair.

This is what the backside of the bar stools look like in the lounge. Useful and funky.

They got really loud with some of the artwork in the lobby.

And just across the room, it's all very quiet, contemplative.

Candle holder.

This sliding glass door in the lobby tells you how cold it is indoors.

This is an outlet of some bizarre kind. It was on the wall in the ballroom. It took me forever to get a decent shot of it.

Oh, look. I took a picture looking down into the hole of one of those crazy, useless vases. 

Lately I've noticed that it's a thing to put water dispensers in lobbies filled with water and fruit. You think you're getting lemonade, but you get water with a hint of fruit. A hint of lemon in my water? No thank you.

Pineapple maybe. At least there's a chance of a bit of sweetness.

This is slat art. Or pyramid art. It looks different from different viewpoints. But it wasn't a picture. That's what you want to see. If you stand on this side, you see Washington crossing the Delaware and if you stand on the other side, you see Jimi Hendrix. That's what you want from art. Not blobs of color. Although, I did take a picture of it.

Stacked water glasses in the ballroom.

Yep. It's an exit sign.

These were the lights in the ballroom. They're actually huge. Three feet across, maybe. But, it was a pretty dim room.

And each of the big lights had a slinky effect wrapped around it. Pretty strange.

They had a camera, or a light, or something to do with the conference and it cast this weird reflection on the back wall.

Some artwork on the wall in one of the convention area rooms. Don't look at it for too long or it'll start moving around. Freaky.

And finally, a lamp. Hotels always have the coolest ways to put lamps on the walls in the hallways. 

That's it for my weird art obsession.

*That was an eclipse joke.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

The North Charleston Marriott is haunted and weird...

Candy dish in the convention center

I took a little trip last weekend to Charleston to see the eclipse. It was a rather interesting trip. Hubs and I stayed at the North Charleston Marriott where we attended the American Atheists convention. I haven't been to an atheist convention in god knows how long. (See what I did there?) Before you pee your pants with unanswered questions, let me just get this out of the way.

What do people do at an atheist convention? Same things people do at any other convention. We talk about our topic, we talk about people who hate us and people who love us. We hang out with other people (unless you're anti-social introverts like me and hubs) and you party. And drink coffee and buy stuff, apparently.

And then we go home and get back to our regularly scheduled atheist days.

Now that that is out of the way, I want to tell you about the hotel. While the lobby of the North Charleston Marriott is fabulous and filled with textural wonders that I spent some time photographing (I'll put some more pics in a different post later), and the staff (especially housekeeping, aside from a tp issue) was friendly and helpful, the hotel itself is...well, ridiculous. And haunted (I'll get to that in a minute).

Textural art at the North Charleston Marriott

I don't know who they got to design the rooms, but they need to stop this person right now. Here is the sink.

What a marvel of modernity, am I right? But it's too big for the vanity. It takes up twice the amount of space it ought to. And it's got 90° angles and doesn't drain properly on the left side. That means gross stuff that I rinse off my hands is going to linger there in those right-angle corners.

And next to that sink is a mirror. A super magnification mirror. So, whenever you lean over after brushing your teeth to rinse, you get a shocking attack from your magnified face! You might scream and spit toothpaste all over the sink.

The tub isn't much better.

That's right. The tub is flat. Where the heck is the drain?! It's that metal bar over there to the left. Sure...it drains. But not completely. It's just weird.

Now look at these modern, artsy tables next to the bed.

Are you kidding me? What are we supposed to be able to put there? At least they hung these stupid tables over a raised platform so that we could put more stuff by the bed without it having to be on the floor. But still. I call foul.

This is form over function. In a hotel!

Then there's the issue of the television. It's at the desk.

That's right. You can't sit at the desk and watch television at the same time without blinding yourself. And you can't sit at the desk if someone else wants to watch television. It's just the most ridiculous thing.

And next to the desk is this bizarre lamp that's just taking up space that could have been used for a desk so that the television could be free for viewing by everyone in the room without the chance of a head in front of it.

Imagine it! There was plenty of room for a desk, and an unobstructed view of the TV and they didn't do it!

And you know how hotels have all of their furniture reach the ground, especially the bed, so you don't lose stuff under it? Not the North Charleston Marriott!

Nope. They want you on your hands and knees before check-out (on a hard floor, no carpet) looking under every piece of furniture for lost coins and such.

The thermostat can't be adjusted higher than 72°. That's right. No matter what we did, we could not get the room warmer than 72° short of turning the whole shebang off. And then on again when it got too warm. Then off again. On again. Off again. On. Off. On. Off.

Okay, let's talk tp. Toilet paper. Here's the thing. We used to get maid service every day when we stay at hotels. But it's bothersome. I mean, you feel like you can't go back up to your room whenever you want because they might be there. And sometimes they are and you have to go away until they're finished.

Condensation on the door out to the pool

So, we go for every other day. And we always leave a tip. So, on the second day, we were at the end of our roll of tp, and I discovered a second roll hidden behind some towels, so I had it set out and ready to go. When we came back to our clean room, I discovered that housekeeping had removed our almost finished roll and put up the new roll. But they did not leave us a second, spare roll! I was like...wtf? What if I need more than one roll for my next couple of days?

You know what I think? I think they were trying to get me to have them come and clean again for more tip. That's what I think. This is how much toilet paper we had left when we checked out. And, no. It's not on a tp dispenser because the dispenser is way too low and behind you. I can't fault the North Charleston Marriott for that. Toilet paper dispensers are notoriously ill placed in hotel rooms across the country.

I totally called their bluff. But not really. I got some extra tp at the nearby Walmart just in case. That's right. I'd rather buy tp than have maid service in my room. (Despite this tp rant, I can really only say wonderful things about the housekeeping and maintenance staff.)

Lemon water in the lobby and convention area

Okay. So, let's talk about the elevators.

They're haunted! 

Elevator 3 screams this awful tormented wail as it begins to move and sometimes, I'd hear creepy whispering just before the doors opened! I was freaking out! I tried telling hubs about it but he didn't believe me! You're hearing things, he said. But I kept listening. I was certain the elevators were whispering at me!

Finally, we were alone in an elevator and I told him to be really quiet. And sure enough, just as the elevator stopped at our floor, we could barely hear a woman whisper, "Floor three."

Oh my gawd!!! Why do they do this? It's the creepiest thing I've ever heard in my life.

Art at the North Charleston Marriott

The whole experience was bizarre. I mean, it's bad enough you're not at home and you're at an atheist convention. But Satanic elevators?!

So, we watched the eclipse. Here's what we saw.

About half way eclipsed.

Almost completely eclipsed.

Aaaaand totality.

Thanks, Charleston.

But seriously. The North Charleston Marriott is a pretty cool hotel.

Taking a pic of the ghost in the elevator