My Secular Self; Secular and Holier-Than-Thou Defined: Trump’s New Fund Raising Email by Andy Borowitz; Canadian Wild Fires Bring Dangerous Hazy Days Says Dhruv Khullar: Catastrophe Strikes, No Phone Reception; Cartoons Exemplify Secular Emphasis 

Now is the time for my secular self to come to the fore. I feel particularly gifted in that I can be both funny and serious; and secular and spiritual. I put both of this dualities into play when writing this blog. If I was funny all the time, the blog would become trivial; if I were serious all of the time it would become weighty and boring. A combination of the two keeps readers guessing. Hahaha! You silly readers. 

The same is true with secular and spiritual. If I were spiritual all the time it would be a turn off: a holier-than-thou  people are irritating. They have been defined as being hypocritical. insincere. pharisaical. What do you call someone with a holier-than-thou attitude? Self -righteous. sanctimonious. goody-goody. hypocritical. judgmental.

Me: Do I want to be called any of those things – yuck NO! Particularly sanctimonious 

Alter Ego: How do you avoid that? 

Me: By throwing in a little secular, a little humor now and then. 

Alter Ego: Sounds like a good plan. 

Me: It is come to think of it. 

Secular is a much used word. What does it mean actually? It has many meanings but the one that coming closet to the concept I am attempting to convey is: denoting attitudes, activities, or other things that have no religious or spiritual basis: The synonyms of that meaning are: nonreligious, temporal, worldly, earthly, unhallowed.. The antonyms are: holy, religious, sacred. 

I am in a worldly, earthy temporal state of mind today because I am indulging in my New Yorker magazines, the ones that greeted me upon returning to my mailbox. 

I shall kick off this unhallowed blog by borrowing from Andy Borowitz yet again. The August 2, 2023 title: New Trump Fund-Raising Email  Asks Supports to Serve Prison Time for Him. 

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—A new fund-raising e-mail from Donald J. Trump is offering donors the “unique chance” to serve prison time for the former President.

“Jack So-Called Smith and the Biden Justice Department want to put Your Favorite President Behind Bars!” the appeal, which was sent to millions of Trump supporters, reads. “For a Limited Time Only, You Can Go in My Place!!!”

I love the language: ‘for a limited time only’. It is a total come-on used constantly by scammers and other illegitimate individuals. The spoof continues: According to a campaign spokesman, Trump donors are lining up in substantial numbers to serve time in prison for him. “This offer is doing even better than the Trump N.F.T.s,” the campaign worker said.The success of the appeal, however, has raised concern that the demand for Trump prison slots could overwhelm supply. “Hopefully, there will be some more indictments soon,” the spokesman said.”

The thought that the demand would overwhelm the supply is tempered with the arrival of more indictments. Andy, is nothing short of brilliant. 

Serious secular matters were also discussed in the New Yorker. You shall now hear of some  serious secular matters. This from the July 3, 2023 edition, but also found online.The Hazy Days of Summer 

“The masks came out again this month—only, contrary to the covid years, New Yorkers donned them outdoors and slid them off when they stepped inside. As smoke from hundreds of Canadian wildfires drifted across the northern U.S. border, engulfing much of the eastern seaboard in an orange miasma, it sent New York’s air quality to the worst levels on record, and, at one point, the worst in the world. Planes were grounded, outdoor activities were cancelled, and patients with asthma and other respiratory conditions filled emergency rooms. Senator Chuck Schumer called on the Biden Administration to send more American firefighters up North to stave off a “summer of smoke. There is nothing more fundamental to life than respiration, and an awareness that the air around you isn’t fit to breathe can be a uniquely alarming sensation. It is also likely to become more common. Summer is only beginning, but Canada’s fire season is already one of the worst in its history. Fifteen times as much Canadian land has burned relative to this time last year—eleven million acres, an area twice the size of New Jersey—and firefighters in Quebec’s boreal forests have called the fires “unstoppable.”

This Hazy Day article, founded totally on fact and research, can be dow-right frightening. Read on! 

“When it comes to our health, wildfire smoke may be the most injurious form of air pollution; according to one study, it can be ten times as toxic as other forms of pollution, including car exhaust. Wildfires release enormous amounts of fine particulate matter known as PM2.5—toxins up to 2.5 microns in size, or roughly one-twentieth the diameter of a human hair. These particles travel long distances and are readily inhaled into the lungs; from there, they can slip into the bloodstream, lodge in organs, and even enter the brain. Their effects may be especially damaging to children, whose bodies are rapidly developing and whose immune defenses haven’t fully matured. There’s still much to learn about the hazards of wildfire smoke, but research on air pollution more generally paints a morbid picture. When the air quality is poor, studies have shown that crime goes up, test scores go down, umpires make more bad calls, and investors make more mistakes. Exposure to air pollution has been linked to asthma and emphysema; Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s; cancer and strokes; depression and suicide; miscarriages, premature births, and infant mortality. Each year, air pollution contributes to as many as ten million deaths around the world. Given the scale of damage, the status quo represents a profound failure of mobilization and a striking feat of normalization.”

Author Khruller extends a message of hope in the midst of this despair. 

“But air purifiers appear to work—sometimes strikingly well. After a gas-leak scare near Los Angeles, the city school district installed air filters in classrooms, and students’ math and English scores shot up, the magnitude roughly on a par with cutting class sizes by a third. Meanwhile, for those venturing outside, N95 masks, if worn properly, seem to offer meaningful protection; in one laboratory study, they reduced exposure to wildfire smoke by a factor of sixteen. Some models suggest that widespread use of N95s could have averted thirty per cent of hospital visits attributable to smoke during a recent fire season in Washington State.”

The article ends in this fashion. 

“Good health has, in some sense, always been a fight with nature. For much of history, that battle has been waged against microbes, mutations, and the ravages of old age. Increasingly, however, we find ourselves contending with the planet itself—a consequence of the damage that we’ve inflicted upon it. For many of us, the danger has long seemed remote, theoretical, abstract. Now simply breathing makes it hard to ignore.”

The author is one of my favorite people: qualified, scientific, a great writer. Dhruv Khullar, a contributing writer at The New Yorker, is a practicing physician and an assistant professor at Weill Cornell Medical College.

This is only Day 3 of my return. A major setback was encountered yesterday. The worst of all calamities happened – suddenly could not make calls on my iPhone. Foolishly thought the damage would be temporary as I have a Saudi SIM card and made plans to purchase a new iPhone to make me accessible and available to the entire world. However, even the experts at the Apple Store could not make it work. I frantically emailed AK: 

Me: Got the Apple phone and SIM card in but no reception. 

He: Give me few minutes ill call them and get back to you.. (Then in a few minutes) Ok just finished the call and here is what they say.. Sim card can only work inside Saudi Arabia as it is “visitor sim card” more details here:

Me: Well that is not terribly good news. Anyway more than a slight snag.

What seemed like hours, ( if not days later) emailed the immensely helpful man again, 

Me: Today as been a zoo. I have a new number.. Long story. So frustrating.

Went to Telus to find they were not the culprits but a wonderful man saved the day.  At the conclusion of ‘what seemed like hours’ of helpful advice, he told CCC and me his good news. He is a Muslim. His wife is expecting twin girls in a few weeks. 

The solution: Now have a Canadian number, easy to remember, that is equipped with wifi. The Muslim about-to-be-Dad-of- Twins solved the problem, most confusing. My US carrier is totally at fault. So goodbye US carrier. The whole idea was to have a transition period from old phone # to new Saudi #. It did not work, but I am fine, actually good. I can just get rid of all the old hangers-on. I will not tell them of my new Canadian number. 

When life gives you lemons – make lemonade. Remember that one. 

The ‘photos’ will continue in the Secular Manner. One is highly amusing – a car in the wilderness taking about midnight snacks.  My Instagram contains a reel filmed at the Edge of the World, in Saudi Arabia. Watch it – alexis_dryburgh is my Instagram moniker. It is most spiritual. My other self.