The Obsolescence of the American Lawn

Lawns are stupid.

Well, let me step back and qualify that just a bit: Ornamental lawns that exist merely to serve as a framing device for houses and picket fences, that nobody ever walks on except to maintain, are stupid.

Think about it. How much time and energy do people spend manicuring their lawns? How much perfectly good water runs out of private irrigation systems and into the sewer grating? How many tons of unnecessary pesticides do the neighborhood lawn junkies of the world (okay, mostly of suburban America, if we’re gonna be honest with ourselves) spread on their yards – and eventually all over everything? How many men have been rushed to suburban hospitals in suburban ambulances because their suburban neighbors’ devil-may-care attitudes toward lawn maintenance have resulted in a dandelion-fuzz-induced suburban brain aneurism?

Lest you think these questions are a mere rhetorical device, here are the answers, respectively:150 hours per year, 7 billion gallons per day, 80 million pounds per year, and that last one, while a bit of a silly caricature, isn’t totally off-base: lots of people get hurt every year taking care of their lawns.

Why do so many of us do this?

Well, lawns have become important cultural markers. They started out as grazing meadows back in England, then morphed into safe play areas for children, and eventually they became a symbol of patriotism and The American Dream. Today, they seem to be mostly the subject of mindless worship and macho pissing contests.

You know, like this classic sketch from the 2007 movie The Ten. (I know, I know, it’s not about lawns. But it’s totally the same phenomenon. Only dragged hilariously past the point of absurdity.)

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Headline of the Century: Secular Men Lament Dearth of Secular Women, Stupidity Ensues

Tonight, a blog post from the New Humanist came across my Facebook feed, via Secular Women, attempting to address the dearth of female participation in the secular movement. In the embedded video from an organization called the Secular Center, host Jacques Berlinerblau (That’s his name. Seriously. He has 23 subscribers. And apparently a soon-to-be-released book.) speculates that it must have something to do with the popular confusion of (friendly) secularism and (scary) atheism, which for whatever reason, women don’t seem to be all that into. He then talks about a strategy to highlight the overlapping goals between secular groups and women’s rights groups, in three points:

1. Reproductive Rights
2. Contraception
3. Let Women Lead

Fine. Great. I don’t wanna get too picky on the details, Mister Donut Blah, but really, those first two are really one issue. A big, important issue, no doubt, and I don’t at all disagree with your intention here. You want to get the word out that secularism is on our side. That’s awesome. I get it. But your list is clumsy. (And I’m feeling a bit feisty.) And number 3 is a little dicey. But more on that later.

The video ends with an ostensible invitation to converse on the subject in the comments section, which the blog post in question, written by someone called Paul Sims, purports to do.

As is the case with our pastry-loving friend, it’s obvious that this guy means well, but he’s at best tone-deaf on the issue.

I understand that there is a problem with the general public conflating secularism with atheism. This is not a strictly female problem. It seems to be a popular talking point for the secular movement right now. While I think attacking this phenomenon is certainly a valid use of time and energy, using it as a lens through which to view all related issues could obscure other important facets and approaches.

[Possibly relevant side note: I googled “Secular Center” and found this page. I’m not sure if it’s affiliated with the above mentioned YouTube channel, but if it is, these guys are stupider than advertised. With all the hubbub about secularism not equaling atheism, you know what their motto is?

Go ahead. Seriously. Go have a look. I’ll wait.

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Bloggin’ Again…

Hello Blogosphere. How have you been?

I’ve been away for awhile. I’ve missed you.

I won’t bore you with any long explanation of my absence, or the gory details of the last few months’ work building this site (Okay, confession: I bought this damned domain last October. Ahem.) and how I’ve been staring at my empty homepage every time I open Firefox because I thought it would be better to have this as my homepage than Facebook (probably there was some masochism involved in that decision) and how I’ve been wringing my hands over whether or not blogging was really even something worth doing…

In any case, a few hours ago, I found myself, once again, being that asshole on Facebook. You know the one. We clog up your comment threads with our long-winded rants and musings. We overanalyze that nice little adage-in-a-picture post you shared because you thought the kitten in it was cute. We get all philosophical on your ass when all you wanted was a friendly conversation.

As I started typing a sixth or seventh paragraph into the little blue-framed text box, something in my brain said, “Hey. Jerkface. It’s time to stop bothering these nice people with your well-meaning but overwrought prose and go WRITE A FUCKING BLOG POST!!!!111”

So I did.