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Sunday, January 31, 2016

Mr. Holmes

This week's movie rental was Mr. Holmes ...

a 2015 British–American crime drama mystery film, directed by Bill Condon, based on Mitch Cullin's 2005 novel A Slight Trick of the Mind, and featuring the character Sherlock Holmes. The film stars Sir Ian McKellen as Sherlock Holmes, Laura Linney as housekeeper Mrs. Munro and Milo Parker as her son Roger. Set primarily during his retirement, the film follows a 93-year-old Holmes who struggles to recall the details of his final case while his mind begins to deteriorate.

I liked the movie very much. I've read almost all the Sherlock Holmes stories and I like Ian McKellen, but one of the main reasons I watched the movie was because Hiroyuki Sanada was in it. He really gets a lot of work and I've most recently seen him in Lost, Sunshine, Helix, and that past Tom Cruise film, The Last Samurai. Here he is sparring with Cruise's character ...

But, back to Mr. Holmes .... you can read a review of the film here - Mr Holmes review – the old sleuth on the trail of his younger self and here's a trailer ...

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Cat Stevens/Yusuf Islam blogs for HuffPost Religion

Here's a post of his - 'Alliance of Virtue (or Get Your Bags Together)' - which tells of his faith journey. I've liked him ever since I was a teen :) Here's one of my favorite songs of his from the past ...

Friday, January 29, 2016

Still trying to help Mouse

- Mouse, last spring

I still haven't caught Mouse to take to the vet for his bad arm. He's still very afraid of me and hiding when he sees me, which leads me to wonder if his injury wasn't an accident but that someone hurt him. I have rented a trap from the vet and hope to catch him in the coming days, though I dread how much it may cost to fix him up. After my last cat Kermit died in 2008, I had decided not to get another pet because I'm not really a good caretaker of others ... bad eyes, no money, no car, and a squeamishness that makes it really hard for me to do the necessary but unpleasant stuff. The cats deserve someone better, but unfortunately there's no one else but me. Crossed fingers on catching Mouse soon.

Thursday, January 28, 2016


- Why Police Shot the Oregon Occupier LaVoy Finicum

- First Amendment won’t shield defendants in Planned Parenthood scandal

- Three New TV Shows With Religious Subplots

- From last year but still interesting: Brave New War

- :) ...

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Editorial in the Times

From The New York Times Editorial Board on the recent news about Planned Parenthood. Here's just the beginning of it ...

Vindication for Planned Parenthood

One after the other, investigations of Planned Parenthood prompted by hidden-camera videos released last summer have found no evidence of wrongdoing. On Monday, a grand jury in Harris County, Tex., went a step further. Though it was convened to investigate Planned Parenthood, it indicted two members of the group that made the videos instead.

The Harris County prosecutor, Devon Anderson, a Republican who was asked by the lieutenant governor, a strident opponent of Planned Parenthood, to open the criminal investigation, said on Monday that the grand jurors had cleared Planned Parenthood of any misconduct.

Yet despite all the evidence, Texas’ Republican governor, Greg Abbott, said on Monday that the state attorney general’s office and the Health and Human Services Commission would continue investigating Planned Parenthood. This is a purely political campaign of intimidation and persecution meant to destroy an organization whose mission to serve women’s health care needs the governor abhors.

Fortunately, in the Harris County case, the jurors considered the facts .....


- Poetic justice: Felony charge for maker of anti-Planned Parenthood videos

- How Can We Find Planet Nine? (And Other Burning Questions)

- ‘In God We Trust’ Doesn’t Mean What You Think It Does

- In Latin America, the one crucial thing that can help fight Zika is almost impossible to obtain

Monday, January 25, 2016

Yard photos

- I tried to get a pick of this blue jay but I mostly got twigs instead ;) ...

- the loquat tree is blooming ...

- Vicky the terrible, taking a break from beating up the other cats ...


Saturday, January 23, 2016

The Return of the King - Extended Edition

This week's movie rental was the extended edition of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. There was quite a bit more in this extended version than was in the theatrical version and everything felt more complete ... like the opening scene with Saruman's death and the budding of the relationship between Faramir and Éowyn. Still, the parts that especially touched me were the same ones that were in the shorter version too ...

Théoden's death ...

Gandalf's description of death ...

The surviving members of the company reuniting after the ring is destroyed ...

And Aragorn's coronation ...

Sniff sniff - a lot of crying on my part :)

Friday, January 22, 2016

Trying to help Mouse

It's been stressful here the last few days. One of the cats, Mouse, has somehow hurt his leg ... he can't use it at all ... and when I tried to pick him up to get a closer look, it apparently really hurt him and ever since he's been hiding from me under the house. I saw him tonight, though, and although he wouldn't let me get close, at least he didn't run away when he saw me. Tomorrow my sister is going to try to help me find and catch him. I don't feel very optimistic about our chances, but I'm not sure what else to do. I've been praying about this, which is difficult when I'm not even sure anymore that God exists. Fingers crossed.

Belated squirrel appreciation day

Somehow I missed that yesterday was Squirrel Appreciation Day! I've taken a lot of photos of squirrels in my yard. Here are a few of them ...

Thursday, January 21, 2016


- Enter the Grief Police

- Bernie Sanders Says Planned Parenthood Is “Establishment.” Is It?

- Consoling Voles Hint at Animal Empathy

- How the Zika Epidemic Could Change Latin America’s Relationship with Abortion

- Planet 9 ...

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Compassion, not mercy

- The Spirit of Compassion by Raynor Hoff

I saw an article today at NCR and it resonated with me. Here's a bit of it ...

LGBTQ people need justice, not mercy, from Pope Francis

[M]ercy, it seems to me, is not the door that LGBTQ people need opened to them. Mercy is an act of love, compassion or service given to those who sin or are afflicted in some way. LGBTQ people, same-sex relationships, and transgender persons are not sins or afflictions ...

In our church, mercy sometimes seems like a conditional forgiveness beneficently bestowed by those in power to those who have transgressed ... it's also seen in the case of divorced/remarried people and too for women who have had abortions.

The thing is, marriage equality, divorce and remarriage, even abortion, are not always deemed sins by all Christians .... many other denominations embrace gay relationships and/or marriage, most other denominations don't dis-communion people who have divorced and remarried, many other denominations trust that the decision to have an abortion is a matter of conscience.

I think the relevant question isn't "should we be merciful to these sinners?" but instead "should we re-examine our teachings?"

Friday, January 15, 2016


- Anglican Communion suspends the Episcopal Church after years of gay rights debates. Here's an editorial about this from the Episcopal Cafe: Editorial: Response to the #Primates2016 Statement. You can read more on this at Thinking Anglicans

- Bernie Sanders Means Well, But He’s Out of Step With Young Feminists on One Crucial Issue

- Planned Parenthood Is Going on the Offensive with Massive Lawsuit.

- An article from America magazine on the Cologne attacks on women, with a mention of taharrush gamea ... a type of sexual harassment and sexual assault of women by groups of men on the street that may involve rape, beating and name-calling, groping, sexual invitations and robbery. The assault usually happens under the protective cover provided by large gatherings or crowds, typically mass events, including protests, rallies, concerts, and public festivals.

- Keep our public lands public (and free of gun toting anarchists) ...

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Alan Rickman: RIP

- Rickman in Sense and Sensibility

Sad to read that Alan Rickman has died. I guess a lot of people know him best from the Potter films, but I never saw any of those. My favorite films of his were two in which he played very different characters.

The first movie I saw him in was Die Hard, in which he played Hans Gruber, the leader of a group of international terrorists - except they weren't really terrorists, it was a heist instead, and former Russian ballet dancer Alexander Godunov was one of the henchmen :). Rickman was great in this role ... The Unforgettable Villainy of Alan Rickman in “Die Hard”. Here Hans is in the elevator with his wealthy hostage, Mr. Takagi ...

The other film I especially liked him in was Sense and Sensibility, in which he played a really good guy ... Also appearing in the film was Alan Rickman, who portrayed Colonel Brandon. Thompson was pleased that Rickman could express the "extraordinary sweetness [of] his nature," as he had played "Machiavellian types so effectively" in other films. ... Here he is reading to Kate Winslet's character ....

He will be missed.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The Legend of Tarzan

I spent a while tonight looking at the new movie trailers at Apple. There are so many films coming up that look like fun ... Independence Day: Resurgence ... Star Trek Beyond ... X-Men: Apocalypse.

One of the most interesting trailers was of The Legend of Tarzan, which stars Alexander Skarsgård, Samuel L. Jackson, Djimon Hounsou, and John Hurt. When I was a teen I liked Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan of the Apes so I think the movie will be worth a watch. Here's the trailer ...

More Bowie

Another song of his I especially like is The Man Who Sold the World ...

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

In Sweden ...

Reading tonight about Swedish police investigating alleged officer-led coverup of sexual assaults by migrants ... Authorities in Sweden are investigating claims that police there covered up sexual assaults committed mostly by immigrant youths at a music festival in Stockholm — attacks apparently similar in style to those carried out on New Year's Eve in the German city of Cologne ...

From what I've seen online, a card carrying liberal like myself should be ignoring these news bites about women being attacked by migrants .... only the conservatives are bringing them up .... but part of being a liberal is being a feminist, so I'm not going to ignore them.

Bowie as Pilate

Remembering David Bowie playing Pontius Pilate in Scorsese's The Last Temptation of Christ ....

Monday, January 11, 2016

David Bowie: rest in peace

Very sad to read that David Bowie has died ... David Bowie Dies at 69; He Transcended Music, Art and Fashion

I've liked him since I was a teen and even my mom liked him. I've seen many of his movies, including The Man Who Fell to Earth, The Hunger, Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence, Labyrinth, The Last Temptation of Christ, and The Prestige.

Here's one of my favorite songs of his, done when he appeared on A&E's Live By Request (2002) ....

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Has hell frozen over?

Today I saw Douthat's article about the attacks on women in Cologne (Cologne attackers were of migrant origin - minister). I usually think his stuff is way too conservative, so it was pretty surprising to find myself mostly agreeing with him. I also saw this at The Daily Beast: Why We Can’t Stay Silent on Germany’s Mass Sex Assaults.

Saturday, January 09, 2016

I'm not like them But I can pretend

"Dumb" from Nirvana ....

I'm not like them
But I can pretend
The sun is gone
But I have a light
The day is done
But I'm having fun
I think I'm dumb
Or maybe just happy

Think I'm just happy

My heart is broke
But I have some glue
Help me inhale
And mend it with you
We'll float around
And hang out on clouds
Then we'll come down
And have a hangover

Have a hangover

Skin the sun
Fall asleep
Wish away
The soul is cheap
Lesson learned
Wish me luck
Soothe the burn
Wake me up

I'm not like them
But I can pretend
The sun is gone
But I have a light
My day is done
But I'm having fun
I think I'm dumb
Maybe just happy

Think I'm just happy

I think I'm dumb

Why vote for Hillary instead of Bernie?

Here's one reason why ...

Planned Parenthood Endorsed Hillary Clinton. This Speech is One Reason Why.

Planned Parenthood’s political arm made its first-ever presidential primary endorsement on Thursday, pledging its ample financial and advocacy backing to vocal supporter Hillary Clinton. "Hillary Clinton holds the strongest record on reproductive rights of all presidential contenders in not just this election, but in American history," the organization said in a statement. Clinton will accept the nonprofit’s endorsement on at a New Hampshire rally on Sunday .......

Friday, January 08, 2016

More on the Cologne attacks on women

I want to keep writing about this since I've not seen anything at all about it in the Catholic news, I suspect because the subject is considered religiously and politically "awkward". It makes me angry that the church, which has been encouraging unlimited immigration, is willing to ignore this.

- Germany confirms asylum seekers are suspected in New Year’s Eve assaults ... At least 21 asylum seekers from the Middle East and North Africa are suspects in a New Year’s Eve rampage of sexual assaults and thefts in the German city of Cologne, authorities said, even as word emerged of similar acts in Finland, Sweden and other German cities — including the alleged gang rape of two teenage girls by four Syrian men.

- And from The Guardian: Let’s not shy away from asking hard questions about the Cologne attacks .....

In New Year’s Eve, something happened that I don’t really want to talk about. It happened not to me but to about 100 women in Cologne and other German cities, some of whom probably didn’t want to talk about it either; it often takes a while for victims to report sexual assault to the police.

But that’s not quite why it has taken nearly a week to piece together the story of a spate of muggings and sexual attacks carried out that night by seemingly organised gangs of young men. Many Germans are asking why politicians, police and broadcasters seem so reluctant to discuss what happened under cover of the crowds (the state broadcaster EZF apologised for not covering the attacks until cover of the crowds (the state broadcaster EZF apologised for not covering the attacks until Tuesday), and whether it’s because the attackers are widely described as looking Arab or north African. Which is why, of course, liberals like me are reluctant to talk about it .....

But by trying not to give succour to racists, the risk is that we end up miserably self-censoring, giving the “why can’t we talk about immigration?” brigade ammunition for their conspiracy theories. Journalism isn’t really journalism when it avoids stories for fear of how some might react. The parallels between German politicians’ discomfort over Cologne and Britain’s response to predominantly Asian gangs grooming girls in Rotherham for sexual exploitation aren’t exact, but there are lessons to be learned ....

Thursday, January 07, 2016

In Cologne

In the news, on New Year's Eve in Cologne, Germany, about 1,000 men in groups sexually assaulted and robbed over 100 women during a celebration in the plaza in front of the train station. The victims described their attackers as looking to be of North African descent. The women's descriptions of their attackers were discounted at first as anti-immigrant sentiment, but almost all of the 16 police suspects for the crimes are of North African descent. Similar crimes have occurred in other German cities as well. The authorities downplayed the situation for days out of fear of being thought anti-immigration ... Germany registered over 1 million refugees this last year.

More: Cologne Assaults: Police Report Outlines 'Chaotic and Shameful' New Year's Eve

Sunday, January 03, 2016

UPDATE: Right wing anarchists in Oregon

Update: things get even weirder as Oregon militia stand-off mocked online: #Y’allQaeda and #VanillaISIS .... I almost feel sorry for them. Almost.

In the news, an armed militia led by Ammon Bundy, whose father became a notorious symbol of illegal public land use in 2014 (see The Great Republican Land Heist in Harper's Magazine), has taken control of a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon ...

Militia, Along With Family of Cliven Bundy, Take Over Federal Land at National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon

The protest began Saturday as a rally in support of Harney County ranchers Dwight Hammond Jr. and Steven Hammond, who are to report to prison on Monday for arson. They were accused of setting fires on lands managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM), "on which the Hammonds had grazing rights leased to them for their cattle operation," according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

"We all know the devastating effects that are caused by wildfires," said Acting U.S. Attorney Billy Williams. "Fires intentionally and illegally set on public lands, even those in a remote area, threaten property and residents and endanger firefighters called to battle the blaze."

Then later Saturday, after the rally for the Hammonds, militia, along with sons of Cliven Bundy -- who was involved in a standoff with the government over grazing rights in Nevada in 2014 -- initiated the occupation of the headquarters of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

Cliven Bundy's son Ammon claims the federally owned wildlife refuge in rural, eastern Oregon belongs to the people, and that they are "making a hard stand against ... overreach." He said the government's "taking of people's land and resources" is leaving people in poverty, adding that the wildlife refuge "has been a tool in doing that." .....

I've lived in Oregon and there is a lot of hostility there against environmental protections .... remember the unofficial Oregon state motto? - "Spotted owl, it's what's for dinner". In this video below, the militia guys speak of a desired future in which ranchers, miners, and loggers can once again reign unhindered by government regulations. They say they're doing this "for the people" (and that God wants them to do this) but at the end of the day, they're domestic terrorists ...

More ...

- The Bundy siege is a wake-up call: American extremists are getting desperate — and dangerous ...

This battle is not about individuals in any sense. Rather, it’s a fundamental disagreement about who controls public land. Nevada, like so many western states, has a tremendous amount of land controlled by the federal government. It’s complicated and technical, pitting business interests against recreation, access versus the protection of vulnerable species and habitat. The federal government does not always get it right and there are always winners and losers, but the vast majority of people who live here want public land to be protected, and the numbers aren’t even close. Thus, the central conceit of this battle is utter nonsense. By massive majorities, Nevadans do not want to give up public land to the likes of Cliven Bundy, who would use it to enrich themselves while denying access to others.

- Nature Caught in the Crosshairs at Oregon Militia Standoff ...

It’s been a year since a big-bellied, nap-taking, and explicitly racist Nevada rancher named Cliven Bundy incited an armed standoff against the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in southern Nevada. Bundy backlogged $1 million in unpaid grazing fees owed to the BLM (more than all other ranchers combined) for releasing way too many cattle on 578,000 acres of precious public land that’s also the habitat for the endangered desert tortoise. This anniversary is important because the legacy of that confrontation has not been forgotten in the sprawling and unpeopled wild areas blanketing the west. Now, at a gold mine in Oregon, another right-wing group is taking a stand against the BLM, its authority, and its regulations, environmental and otherwise ....

- The Oregon Standoff: Race, Land Use, and Environmental Protection ...

What the Bundy clan is doing now is an example of what happens when white entitlement is followed to its extreme, without any racial justice lens or civil rights consideration to temper it. The militia hasn’t so much as even nodded to the fact that they are standing on Native Paiute grounds.

Read more about the 2014 Bundy standoff at Wikipedia.

Saturday, January 02, 2016

George Deek

- photo from the Tablet article

An interesting talk by George Deek, who's an Arab, an Orthodox Christian, and an Israeli diplomat ....