My Photo
Location: United States

Sunday, December 31, 2017

'We've got to get ourselves back to the garden'

One thing I like about the new year is that I get to buy a new calendar. Last year I bought a Star Wars one, but for 2018 I've gone back to buying the one I usually get - The Secret Garden. It has pics of beautiful and peaceful garden-y spots. If there's a heaven, I hope that's what it's like - a garden. When I'm in places like this, even in my own raggedy yard, I feel safe and also expectant, as if some wonderful truth is about to finally be revealed.

Maybe I feel this way because it reminds me of my grandparents' yard, where I spent a lot of time growing up. They had a couple of acres, a little pocket of peace in the midst of a suburb, filled with fruit trees, nut trees, vegetables and flowers. Every day they worked in the garden and we helped ... we picked peaches and grapefruit, knocked almonds from the trees to peel and set in the sun to dey. There was a trellis with so many roses attached that it looked like a wall of flowers, and we would snack on the nasturtiums and boysenberries and figs.

When my grandfather died, my grandmother could no longer keep the place up and she sold it. It doesn't exist anymore - the house was destroyed and the land partitioned up and not even the address remains. It makes me sad to know that it only exists in memory now. So I buy a garden calendar and imagine myself back there again.

Friday, December 29, 2017

2017: books and movies

Some of the books and movies I enjoyed in 2017 ...

- The Autobiography of James T. Kirk by David A. Goodman

- Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War by Mark Bowden

- Operation Thunderbolt: Flight 139 and the Raid on Entebbe Airport, the Most Audacious Hostage Rescue Mission in History by Saul David

- Drift: The Unmooring of American Military Power by Rachel Maddow

- House of Spies: A Novel by Daniel Silva

- Striking Back: The 1972 Munich Olympics Massacre and Israel's Deadly Response by Aaron J. Klein

- Hue 1968: A Turning Point of the American War in Vietnam by Mark Bowden

- Playing with Fire: The 1968 Election and the Transformation of American Politics by Lawrence O'Donnell


- Snowden ...

- Doctor Strange ...

- Arrival ...

- Assassin's Creed ...

- Rogue One ...

- Logan ...

- Kong: Skull Island ...

- Gifted ...

- Alien: Covenant ...

- Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 ...

- The Mummy ...

Thursday, December 28, 2017

The Letter

Leon Russell and Joe Cocker do The Letter. I think this is 1970 at the Fillmore East ...

Joe Cocker Leon Russell The Letter - Video Dailymotion from orlando heredia on Vimeo.


Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Jerusalem: Trump and the Evangelicals

In the news: Israeli Minister Wants to Name a Jerusalem Train Station for Trump. I guess this is in gratitude for Trump deciding to move the US embassy to Jerusalem. I do consider Jerusalem to be Israel's capital, but there's no question that Trump's decision has stirred up controversy.

It's thought he did it to assuage his Evangelical Christian base. The thing is, I'm not sure the Israelis understand that support for Israel from Evangelicals isn't necessarily or only about them being Israel's friend. Many Evangelicals believe that at the end times after the rapture, those who are now Jewish will become Christians, Jesus will return, and he will reign over all for 1000 years from Jerusalem. The belief is called Dispensationalism

Here's a bit from an article by religious history scholar Diana Butler Bass that will help explain ...

For many evangelicals, Jerusalem is about prophecy, not politics

[...] This theology -- a literal belief that all these things must happen before Jesus will return to reign on Earth -- is called "dispensational pre-millennialism" and it is not the quirky opinion of some isolated church. Although the majority of Christians do not share these views, versions of dispensational pre-millennialism dominate American evangelicalism.

It originated as a small movement in the 1840s, but by the 1970s, millions of evangelical and fundamentalist churchgoers had embraced some form of it. Dispensationalism was popularized in a best-selling book called "The Late, Great Planet Earth" by Hal Lindsey; and later, in the 1990s, it reached an even larger audience through the "Left Behind" novels by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. The theology spread via Bible camps and colleges, through theological seminaries and revival meetings, in films and videos, by Sunday school materials, and in daily devotional guides -- all teaching that the end of the world was near, and that Jerusalem was the physical place where this apocalyptic drama would unfold ...

When the President issued his order, I was not the only person hearing echoes of dispensationalism. Robert Jeffress, one of Trump's evangelical advisers, declared: "Jerusalem has been the object of the affection of both Jews and Christians down through history and the touchstone of prophecy." Other evangelical pastors and teachers also praised the action as "biblical" and likened it to a "fulfilled prophecy."

While that may sound benign (or perhaps nutty) to the theologically uninitiated, they are referring to the "prophecy" of the conversion of the Jews, the second coming of Jesus, the final judgment, and the end of the world -- the events referred to as the biblical apocalypse ...

Israel may be glad to have a US president who seems more friendly than those in the past, but I'd just warn caution. Trump doesn't have friends, he has stepping stones on the path of his own agenda.

If you want a fictional insight to this Evangelical belief system, try the Left Behind books (which are pretty bad) or instead the trilogy written by former CIA and DIA employee and Christian, James BeauSeigneur, the Christ Clone Trilogy - it was pretty good, I thought.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Roll Away the Stone

From Leon Russell ...


Sunday, December 24, 2017

Christmas eve

Remember this? :) How times have changed for the worse. We miss you, President Obama! ...

Friday, December 22, 2017

It's almost Christmas

- me when I was married (Christmas time)

So much of what Christmas is has to do with family.

When I was a kid my family had the typical gatherings at Christmas. We would visit my aunt, uncle, and cousins on Christmas eve, my grandparents would visit us Christmas morning, and the whole family would go to my grandparents' house Christmas day for dinner. Then my grandparents passed away and the cousins drifted away and my sister moved away.

I had two Christmases as a married person. The ex and I would drive to the Bay Area near San Francisco to visit the in-laws and extended family. So stressful ;) I wasn't the in-laws idea of the best possible daughter-in-law, I guess because I was six years older than the ex and worked at a nothing special job at a hospital. And I wasn't Japanese. When I was a little kid I had hoped to grow up to be like my grandmother, with a big family coming over on holidays to my home .... I had no idea I would only be married for a little over a year and would never for the rest of my life find anyone else I felt romantically about.

Eventually things looked up. I moved in with my mom, my sister moved back here, my four cats appeared. Then my mom got lung cancer and died, my cats got elderly and sick and died.

My Christmases now are spent with my sister and the new pile of cats. It's a good thing but I worry about what the future holds.

Oh, I must cheer up. Maybe some music will help ...

OK, better now :)

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Cardinal Law is dead

When I first saw the news last night, I was tempted to post this song ...

Here's why ...

The New Yorker: The Death of Cardinal Bernard Law and the Legacy of Clergy Sex Abuse

In the spring of 1989, a group of black-clad clergy gathered to bury one of their own—a Boston priest named Father Joseph Birmingham. Presiding at the funeral was their leader, Cardinal Bernard Law, who died himself on Wednesday, in Rome. As the obsequies for Birmingham drew to a close and the crowd began to disperse, Law was confronted by a man named Thomas Blanchette. He identified himself as having been sexually abused as a child by Birmingham, who would ultimately be accused of having molested more than forty boys. In 2002, Blanchette told the Boston Globe what happened next; Law “laid his hands on my head for two or three minutes. And then he said this: ‘I bind you under the power of the confessional never to speak a word of this to another.’ ”...

Cardinal Law was in charge when the truth about the covered-up clergy child sex abuse scandal in Boston was broken in 2002 by The Boston Globe (they won a Pulitzer prize for this investigative reporting and a recent Best Picture Academy award-winning film was made about the topic: Spotlight).

The situation was so bad that 58 priests in Boston actually wrote a letter to Law telling him to step down. But when he scuttled off to Rome, he met with no punishment, not even a harsh word of criticism from the Vatican. Instead he was rewarded with the top job at one of the most prestigious churches in Rome, the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore. People hoped that when Francis was made pope, he would get rid of Law. But though Francis did visit Law's church on his first day as pope, he didn't fire him, he had a friendly chat with him instead.

And now that he's dead, the Vatican has created more rage with its decision to honor Law with a state funeral, Pope Francis presiding ... Pope Francis presides over the final rites of Cardinal Law’s funeral Mass

Read more ...

- Bernard Law, a cardinal of scandal and disgrace by Fr. Thomas Reese SJ

- From Cardinal Law to Harvey Weinstein, how ‘Spotlight’ scandal paved way for #MeToo movement

- The Hurt Is Still There’: Abuse Survivors Grapple With Cardinal’s Death

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Trump ruins lives in Africa

I wrote about this back in January ... Trump presidency: punish women ... but the PBS NewsHour had a segment on it tonight. Oh, and PS, the characterization of the situation given in the video by Trump's representative is disingenuous, as would be expected ...

Read more about this ... Trump Strikes at Abortion With a Revived Foreign-Aid Rule

Monday, December 18, 2017

The tax bill: being Christian

The hardest job in this country is being poor. And tax bills like this ensure that poverty for many many people is going to be both a life sentence and a death sentence. And we ignore it. - Mike Barnicle on Morning Joe ...

Republican lawmakers pride themselves on being Christians. The subject Jesus spoke the most about in the gospels was money ... about the ethical pitfalls of being rich and the importance of helping the poor. The tax bill helps the rich and the people who will feel the worst effects of it will be the poor.

We don't talk about those who are at or below the poverty line because, I guess, it's just too icky to think of them. As far as I can tell, politicians never talk about them, not even the Democrats. They believe poor people don't vote (Bernie Sanders actually said this) and so the poor can be forgotten with impunity. Maybe I wouldn't care if I wasn't so close to being poor myself, maybe I'd clutch my riches to my chest and chant "mine, min, all mine" too, just like Trump and his Republican lackeys. I hope not.

Republican lawmakers voting for this bill - you are not Christians.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

The 7 forbidden words

UPDATE: This clarification from the NYT ... The Times confirmed some details of the report with several officials, although a few suggested that the proposal was not so much a ban on words but recommendations to avoid some language to ease the path toward budget approval by Republicans .... [a] former official said. “They’re saying not to use it in your request for money because it will hurt you. It’s not about censoring what C.D.C. can say to the American public. It’s about a budget strategy to get funded.”

In the news: CDC gets list of forbidden words: fetus, transgender, diversity

The Trump administration is prohibiting officials at the nation’s top public health agency from using a list of seven words or phrases — including “fetus” and “transgender” — in official documents being prepared for next year’s budget.

Policy analysts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta were told of the list of forbidden words at a meeting Thursday with senior CDC officials who oversee the budget, according to an analyst who took part in the 90-minute briefing. The forbidden words are “vulnerable,” “entitlement,” “diversity,” “transgender,” “fetus,” “evidence-based” and “science-based.”

In some instances, the analysts were given alternative phrases. Instead of “science-based” or ­“evidence-based,” the suggested phrase is “CDC bases its recommendations on science in consideration with community standards and wishes,” the person said. In other cases, no replacement words were immediately offered ...


More from Jethro Tull ...

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Goodbye net neutrality

Another gift from the Trump administration ... F.C.C. Repeals Net Neutrality Rules

For those who don't understand how truly awful this decision is, watch this past episode of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver ...

Wednesday, December 13, 2017


A Jethro Tull song from the distant past. I can still remember all the words, which is kind of frightening ;) ...

Well the dawn was coming
Heard him ringing on my bell
He said, My name's the teacher
That is what I call myself
And I have a lesson
That I must impart to you
It's an old expression
But I must insist it's true

Jump up, look around
Find yourself some fun
No sense in sitting there hating everyone
No man's an island and his castle isn't home
The nest is full of nothing when the bird has flown

So I took a journey
Threw my world into the sea
With me went the teacher
Who found fun instead of me

Hey man, what's the plan, what was that you said?
Sun-tanned, drink in hand, lying there in bed
I try to socialize but I can't seem to find
What I was looking for, got something on my mind

Then the teacher told me
It had been a lot of fun
Thanked me for his ticket
And all that I had done

Hey man, what's the plan, what was that you said?
Sun-tanned, drink in hand, lying there in bed
I try to socialize but I can't seem to find
What I was looking for, got something on my mind


Out in the yard

It's chilly but sunny. It's actually warmer outside than inside if you're in the sun, so I walked around with the cats today :)

Leaves ...

The wild grapes have climbed up a dead tree ...

Fig is getting some sun under the loquat tree ...

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Yes !!!!

Doug Jones won the Alabama election over Roy Moore :) ...

Playing with Fire

My latest book from the public library is Playing with Fire: The 1968 Election and the Transformation of American Politics by MSNBC political analyst Lawrence O'Donnell.

I'm just at the beginning, which has a lot about Bobby Kennedy and his decision to run for president against Johnson and Nixon in 1968. Bobby Kennedy was a charismatic figure who tried to bring people together - he was the antithesis of Trump. Here he is giving a speech on the back of a flatbed truck just after Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated (Robert F. Kennedy's speech on the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.) ...

Here O'Donnell is interviewed about the book at the Commonwealth Club ...

Ah ha

Now I understand where those plush toys I never bought the cats came from ;) ...

Monday, December 11, 2017

Alabama voters: the deplorables

Apparently a number of those Hillary deemed "deplorables" live in Alabama ...

Those people deserve Roy Moore.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Some music

Wishful thinking ...


The Alabama race and abortion

There's much in the news about the Alabama senate race between Democrat Doug Jones and Republican Roy Moore. I've seen speculation that if only Jones were not pro-choice, he would have a better chance of winning against accused pedophile Moore. I don't believe that's true. I think the pro-life issue for Republicans is much like the deficit issue ..... they don't really care about it but it gives reputable cover for the real reasons they will not vote for something (reference the tax bill's effect on deficit). And there's a poll that supports my view ...

Abortion Isn’t Main Reason More Republicans Still Won’t Back Doug Jones, New Poll Finds

[...] On Nov. 4-5, Clarity Campaign Labs, a Democratic polling firm, surveyed 707 Alabama voters in a survey commissioned by Planned Parenthood Votes. (Planned Parenthood has no involvement in the Alabama special election and has not endorsed a candidate.) The results were shared with HuffPost.

Clarity Campaign Labs was specifically interested in Republican voters who might be persuaded to back Jones. The survey found that less than 1.5 percent of Moore’s supporters said they had considered switching and backing Jones.

The pollster then tried to figure out why those voters decided to stick with Moore. Was it because of Jones’ support for abortion rights?

But Clarity didn’t want to limit people with a list of possible answers. So they were asked to explain, in their own words, why they continued to reject Jones.

“Abortion wasn’t really in the top couple issues people gave us,” said John Hagner, the Clarity pollster who conducted the survey.

More than one-third of those Republican voters who said they decided not to switch to Jones gave a reason that fell into the category of just generally not liking him. Ten percent said they didn’t like his personal history. (Jones is a former U.S. attorney best known for finally putting Ku Klux Klan members behind bars for blowing up an African-American church back in 1963.) Eight percent cited abortion as the reason.

“Of the people who were undecided, they weren’t citing choice as the major driver,” Hagner said. “Of the people who had considered voting for Jones and decided not to, there was a whole range of issues.”

Clarity conducted the poll before women came forward and alleged that Moore had pursued them when they were in their teens and he was in his 30s. Presumably, there are more Republicans giving Jones a second look. But Hagner said he didn’t think abortion would now become a more significant factor in the race ...

Doug Jones stood up for those little girls who were murdered in the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing and he's standing up for women's reproductive rights today. The idea that Alabama voters who support Moore do so for moral reasons ... a man who thinks LGBT people shouldn't be allowed to marry, that Muslims should not serve in Congress, that the best time in America was in the era of slavery, and who is now believed to have preyed on teenage girls ... just beggars belief.

Friday, December 08, 2017

X-Men directors accused of harassment, rape

There's been much in the news about those who have sexually harassed or assaulted women/men. One story that hasn't been as much in the public eye but which I noticed because I'm a fan of Marvel films, is that of two different directors of X-Men movies: Bret Ratner and Bryan Singer. The reason I bring this up is the silence from most of the actors of those movies, guys like Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart ... have I just missed it?

Here's more ...

- Brett Ratner Accused of Sexual Harassment or Misconduct by Six Women (Report)

- Brett Ratner and Russell Simmons Accused of Working Together to Carry Out Sexual Misconduct

- New lawsuit alleges 'X-Men' director Bryan Singer raped a 17-year-old boy

- The Deeper Significance of Bryan Singer's Firing

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

The wedding cake case

Democratic Congressman from my state, Adam Schiff, tweets ...

I agree with him. Here's more from the LA Times ...

The 'gay wedding cake' case isn't about religious freedom or free speech

[...] The bakery’s argument is among the most radical to come before the Supreme Court in recent years. When you scratch below the surface, the case poses the following question: Is there a constitutional right to discriminate?

The bakery argues that there is, and that the Constitution should exempt it from state laws requiring that businesses not discriminate when serving their customers. In an Orwellian twist, the Department of Justice — the very body charged with enforcing the country’s anti-discrimination laws — agreed with the bakery in a friend-of-the-court brief.

Specifically, the bakery argues that it should be allowed to refuse service to people if doing so runs contrary to the religious beliefs of its owners. That should give us pause.

In the 1960s, Piggie Park, a small chain of barbecue restaurants in South Carolina, said that its owner’s freedom of religion would be violated if it were held responsible for disregarding the Civil Rights Act when it refused to serve black patrons.

In 1983, Goldsboro Christian Schools of Goldsboro, N.C., argued it had a religious right to refuse black students. In the same case, Bob Jones University of Greenville, S.C., argued it had a right to deny admission to students who engaged in, or advocated for, interracial dating.

As recently as 1990, Roanoke Valley Christian Schools in Virginia argued that it had a right to pay women less because their faith taught that men should be heads of households.

The courts rejected all of those arguments. They understood that religious liberty does not translate into a right to discriminate. If the Supreme Court now accepts the cake shop’s religion argument, the decision would have far-reaching consequences. Religious liberty could become a way out of anti-discrimination law. ...

And of course Trump is supporting the baker in this case :( ... WH: Trump Backs Religious Liberty as SCOTUS Hears Wedding Cake Case

Monday, December 04, 2017

The stray cats, continued

- Snowy and Fig

Today I had a visit from an Animal Control officer ... the neighbor across the street lodged a complaint against me as having a lot of "sick and injured" cats. I've been dreading this ever since that neighbor yelled at me from his yard "keep your stinking cats on your own property". I had thought of all the stings I would say, like how I had contacted all the animal agencies and charities I knew of for help in finding homes for the cats but how none would help .... the SPCA even suggested I just have them all euthanized as being semi-feral would make them impossible to adopt out. When the lady came to the door, though, I was so upset I couldn't remember all my lines.

First, though, I did say that none of the cats was sick, though one does have a permanent limp from an old injury (Mouse). She wanted to know how many were spayed/neutered and I said all but the most recent additions ... the five kittens who appeared this spring. I gave her the name of the veterinarian place I took them and told her that Mouse's leg had been examined by the vet. And I told her I had been in contact with someone from the Animal Control place before, discussing the cat situation and asking for help finding homes for the kittens.

It wasn't as bad as I feared. She isn't going to take the cats off to kill them. She said that as long as I got them all spayed and neutered and as long as they were in good health, they would leave things as they are. But she took my name and number and said she would check back. I think there's a new reality .... there are just so many abandoned and feral cats and dogs in neighborhoods now. The County kills thousands every year. If some people take it upon themselves to feed and spay/neuter some of these animals, I think the County is willing to look the other way much of the time.

But with the neighbor across the street having made a complaint, I don't know what the County may decide to do about my cats. And what about the neighbor .... when he realizes that the County probably won't make this problem go away, what might he do to the cats himself?

Sunday, December 03, 2017

Trump destroys Bears Ears National Monument

- Bears Ears National Monument

A day can't pass without Trump destroying something good, especially if that good thing was created by President Obama.

Trump Is Going to Destroy 2 of the Country’s Most Beautiful National Monuments

President Donald Trump is planning to drastically shrink two national monuments in Utah. According to documents obtained by the Washington Post, Bears Ears, which is currently 1.35 million acres could be shrunk by 85 percent, and the 1.9 million acres of Grand Staircase-Escalante will be reduced by 85 percent. Trump will be announcing the proposal when he visits Salt Lake City on Monday.

The move comes after Trump asked Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke in April to review any national monument larger than 100,000 acres. Three months later, Zinke submitted a report with recommendations for reducing or eliminating 27 monuments, including Gold Butte in Nevada and Vermillion Cliffs in Arizona.

The push to shrink national monuments comes from the Trump administration’s intent to open up federally-protected land to oil, gas ...

- a timelapse taken in Valley of the Gods, Bears Ears National Monument

Hue 1968

My latest check-out from the public library is Hue 1968: A Turning Point of the American War in Vietnam by Mark Bowden. You can read a New York Times review of the book here - The Beginning of the End in Vietnam: An Account of the Battle of Hue, by the Author of ‘Black Hawk Down’

I'm just a short way into the book but it's very interesting. I was in high school at the time of the Tet Offensive of 1968, when the Battle of Huế took place. It's strange to have lived through a war and to remember so little of the details, but still the book is bringing back a lot of memories.

At the time covered by the book - the 60s - Lyndon Johnson was president. He had inherited the war from Kennedy, but it was Truman who first got us involved by sending money, weapons, and military advisors to help France hang on to its then colony of Vietnam. The French were defeated in 1954 by the Communist North's Ho Chi Minh, the country was temporarily divided into North and South, and an election were planned in two years to unite the country, with the French taking off. In 1955 the prime minister of the South, Ngô Đình Diệm, rigged the election when it became clear he would lose to Ho Chi Mihn, and the two halves of the country were set against each other.

The US stayed involved, worried about a domino effect in Asia. By 1968, with Johnson president, there were half a million US troops in Vietnam and more bombs were dropped by the US than had been dropped on Europe and Japan in WWII. Yet still, the US couldn't seem to win the war. And meanwhile journalists like Morley Safer were bringing home from Vietnam stories that shocked America ...

Anti-war protests grew. I do recall this - my friends and I were very against the war and the 1968 Democratic national convention showed that we were not alone ...

The convention was held during a year of violence, political turbulence, and civil unrest, particularly riots in more than 100 cities following the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. on April 4. The convention also followed the assassination of Democratic presidential hopeful Senator Robert F. Kennedy of New York, on June 5. Both Kennedy and Senator Eugene McCarthy of Minnesota had been running for the Democratic Nomination at the time ....

[T]he National Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam and the Youth International Party (Yippies) had already begun planning a youth festival in Chicago to coincide with the Democratic National Convention. They were not alone, as other groups such as Students for a Democratic Society would also make their presence known. When asked about anti-war demonstrators, Daley repeated to reporters that "no thousands will come to our city and take over our streets, our city, our convention." 10,000 demonstrators gathered in Chicago for the convention, where they were met by 23,000 police and National Guardsmen.

Sometimes when I despair about this Trump era, I remind myself that I've lived in interesting times before and we all (mostly) still made it through.

I'm just at the beginning of the book, so I may post more about it later.

Saturday, December 02, 2017

Tax bill passed

I wanted to post on the Senate passing the tax bill, but I feel such rage about it that I should limit myself to only a few words.

All of the Republicans voted for it save Bob Corker, even Flake and Collins and McCain voted for it. All but one voted for it knowing that it would make the rich (their donors) richer, knowing it would make Trump a billion dollars richer. All but one voted for it knowing it would increase taxes on the most vulnerable among us, knowing that it will take away health insurance from millions and that it will end up causing cuts in services to children, the elderly, the sick, the poor. All but one voted for it even though they all claim to be Christians. I will never again give a Republican lawmaker the benefit of the doubt. They are not people, they are things.

More: Senate Republicans pass a tax bill giving corporations a massive tax cut and cutting health care

Friday, December 01, 2017

And the world is about to turn

Oh my. Flynn pleads guilty to lying to the FBI in a plea deal that will have him give info about Trump/Russia collusion. And despite White House lies to the contrary, it is now known that Kushner knew exactly what Flynn was doing vis a vis the Russians.

James Comey posted this today ...

And I would like to post a song :) ...