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Sunday, April 29, 2018

A stressful night

This evening, as I was out in the backyard, one of my neighbors came over and pounded on the front door, yelling. When I walked around front, she began shouting about the cats. I didn't recognize her at first, my bad eyes, which seemed to infuriate her even more.

Apparently, the cats climb the fence and get in her yard, fight with her cat, drink from her pond, and poop everywhere. She said that she has complained to Animal Control three times (mystery solved about who ratted me out) but they haven't done anything. I tried to explain that I hadn't acquired the cats but that they just showed up, that I was spaying and neutering them, that I had called all the animal welfare agencies to find a place where they could adopted out but there weren't any that would take semi-feral cats. That just made her more angry. She yelled the whole time at the top of her lungs - I could hear the guy across the street laughing.

I feel like I'm in a nightmare. What do normal people do? I guess I'm expected to catch the cats and take them to Animal Control where they will likely be euthanized or released in some other area of town, which would probably just mean a slower and more stressful death for them. If I kept just six of them (the legal limit here), how would I choose who gets sent away to die?

There are too many abandoned and homeless cats and dogs ... each year, approximately 1.5 million shelter animals are euthanized in the US. I guess most normal people are fine with this.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Paul Ryan fires House chaplain

In the news, Paul Ryan sacks the House's Jesuit chaplain, Pat Conroy ...

So the Jesuit was fired because Ryan believed that by standing up for the poor, Conroy was favoring the Democrat party? No - the priest wasn't advocating a Democratic agenda, he was advocating a Christian agenda. Maybe the next chaplain the Republicans hire should be a priest of Plutus, the Greek god of wealth (think Plutocracy), and then they won't have to worry that his prayers will make them feel guilty.

More on this - The poor don’t have a prayer in today’s Washington: Praying for the poor is now apparently a firing offense in the corridors of power.

A song

By Jethro Tull, Ian Anderson singing and playing flute ...


Thursday, April 26, 2018

Kittens go bye bye

Today we took the kittens to the vet again for a check-up and they decided the one with the bad eye was so improved that they could take them for adoption right then. I know this is a good thing and that the kittens will be better off, but I miss them. Worse, though is how their mom and surrogate mom, Marie, must be feeling - all they know is that their babies have disappeared. I guess most people don't believe pets care that much when they are separated from family members, but I remember when I took Misty's kitten, Daisy, to the vet for adoption a few years ago. Misty was miserable and looked everywhere around the yard for days for the missing kitten.

Next up is getting Fluffy and the new stray male cat fixed and catching and finding homes for Fluffy's babies - they've been living under a wood pile and I still haven't glimpsed them yet.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Macron: There is no planet B

There is no planet B. We have to take care of the one we have. - Richard Branson

French president Emmanuel Macron addressed Congress today ... watch the whole thing here. He spoke up about the Paris climate accord and or protecting the environment, quoting Branson ...

If only Macron was our president instead of Trump!


Yep, it's a thing, apparently a primate grooming dominance thing ...

Playful dominance’: The touchy-feely relationship between Trump and Macron

I don't even know where to start - the mind boggles ;)

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

James Comey's book

My latest book from the public library is A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership by former FBI director James Comey.

I'm finding it very interesting so far. One misconception about the book is that it is all about Comey's interactions with Trump, but that's not so. The book is more about Comey's life experiences, especially those that were examples of how people in power should and should not treat people who are vulnerable.

The is what so struck him about Trump - his way of treating those he has power over - Comey saw Trump as a bully and reminiscent of a Mafia boss,. There were a couple of experiences in his earlier life that informed this opinion. When Comey a kid, his family moved and he became the new weird guy at school - he was bullied relentlessly. Later, when he became a US attorney for the Southern District of New York, Comey investigated and prosecuted members of the Mob (U.S. Charges 14 Reputed Members of Gambino Crime Family).

Here's a review of the book from The Guardian: A Higher Loyalty by James Comey – review

I'm still just a bit into it so far, but I'm looking forward to the parts about Trump. I do recommend the book.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Earth Day 2018

Trump Celebrates Earth Day By Praising Rollback Of Environmental Protections ... How Do You Celebrate Earth Day When Scott Pruitt Is Still at the E.P.A.?

Don't let this abominable administration win. Support those who work to protect the environment. Here are a few of them ...

- Earthjustice ...

- Sierra Club ...

- World Wide Fund for Nature ...

- Environmental Defense Fund ...

Friday, April 20, 2018

Yippee ki yay

Rachel Maddow discusses the news that the Democratic party has filed a civil lawsuit against the Trump campaign, Russia, and WikiLeaks for conspiring to steal the 2016 election ...

This may seem wacky and certainly that is what the Republicans are saying it is, but it's actually a brilliant and time-tested idea - this is exactly what the DNC did after the Watergate break-in in 1972 ...

Democratic Party sues Russia, Trump campaign and WikiLeaks alleging 2016 campaign conspiracy

[...] The lawsuit echoes a similar legal tactic that the Democratic Party used during the Watergate scandal. In 1972, the DNC sued President Richard Nixon’s reelection committee seeking $1 million in damages for the break-in at Democratic headquarters in the Watergate building.

The suit was denounced at the time by Nixon’s attorney general, John Mitchell, who called it a case of “sheer demagoguery” by the DNC. But the civil action brought by the DNC’s chairman, Lawrence F. O’Brien, was successful, yielding a $750,000 settlement from the Nixon campaign that was reached on the day in 1974 that he left office ...

What this can do is not only keep the issue alive, but it will give the DNC the chance to unearth more evidence of wrong-doing through discovery. And, come on - we know they did it. It's time to just go there, lay it out, and make them pay.

The Comey memos

Read the memos yourself here.

The progression of this situation is almost funny ...

- 1) While director of the FBI, before Trump fired him, James Comey made detailed notes about his interactions with Trump to document them.

- 2) Those memos have become evidence in the ongoing FBI/Mueller investigation of Trump's obstruction of justice.

- 3) Trying to derail the investigation, Trump's Republican toadies in congress demanded from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein that they be given those memos, something the FBI normally wouldn't do.

- 4) Eventually, the memos were released to Republican lawmakers who then conveniently leaked them to the public, believing this would destroy the usefulness of the memos. Instead this has allowed the public to see the worth of the information in Comey's memos.

The leaked Comey memos just blew up in Trump’s face

[...] First, the Comey memos. When you cut through all the noise, what they really reveal is a senior law enforcement official struggling to figure out in real time how to handle efforts by the president to turn him into a loyalist devoted to carrying out his political will in wildly inappropriate fashion. Comey’s memos recount in new detail that Trump repeatedly demanded his loyalty and that Trump pressed him to drop his probe into his then-national security adviser Michael Flynn.

We already knew those things happened via dogged reporting and Comey’s previous testimony to Congress. But now that we have the memos recounting them in full, contemporaneously, the consistency and credibility of this picture become a lot firmer. Simply put, the memos confirm that Trump did, in fact, try to exert a level of control over his FBI director, and over an ongoing investigation into his and his cronies’ conduct, that is wildly at odds with norms dictating that law enforcement should be free of political and/or presidential.

The Republican reaction, incredibly, has been to claim the memos vindicate Trump of any charge of obstruction of justice ....

Rachel Maddow interviewed James Comey last night on her show, just about at the time that the memos were being leaked by the Republicans and published. You can watch her interview with him online here: The Rachel Maddow Show. And here is where her show switches to Lawrence O'Donnell's following show and they discuss her interview with Comeu ...

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Kittens go to the vet

Today my sister gave me a ride to the vet to take the two kittens. One had an eye that hasn't opened and the vet place had taken a step back from agreeing to adopt the kittens out. But things seem to be working out. The vet loved the kittens and said they would be very adoptable - they said they would take them in about a week or so. The kitten with the closed eye isn't sick with herpes, as we feared, but has a small scratch on his eye which should get better soon. This means they have a chance at a much better life than they would have living here in my yard as cats # 17 and 18! Yay :)

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

RIP: Barbara Bush

Sad to hear that Barbara Bush has died. She was a Republican but I liked her ... her championing of reading, her fearless un-dyed white hair, her book about/by Millie the dog :) .... she was admirable and authentic. Here's more about her from the PBS NewsHour ...

Evil Hearted You

- Keith Relf of the Yardbirds

Before people trashed each other on Twitter, there were songs :) Here's an example from one of my past favorite bands ...


Monday, April 16, 2018

The kittens, continued

Here is Snowy and her two babies. I think they are about 4 weeks old now. Sorry about the photo quality but it's pretty dark in the garage ...

I called the vet place Saturday - they said they would take the kittens to adopt out once they were a little older. But now they say they probably can't because they have taken on other kittens since I last talked to them. They're supposed to call back with the final word, but it doesn't look good. Meanwhile one of the kittens is having a problem with one of his/her eyes, which won't open. Worries, worries, worries.

James Comey ABC interview

Transcript: James Comey's interview with ABC News chief anchor George Stephanopoulos

It's been said that both Republicans and Democrats dislike James Comey, but that's not true of me - I think he seems like someone who has always tried to do the right thing, even when his choices may have hurt Hillary's chances of winning. I'm signed up for his book, A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership, from the library. Here is a clip from the PBS NewsHour with commentary from liberal Mark Shields and conservative David Brooks on Comey's book - both of them said it's good ...

Saturday, April 14, 2018


My latest book from the public library is Annihilation: A Novel by Jeff VanderMeer. Here's a bit about it from Wikipedia ...

Annihilation is a 2014 novel by Jeff VanderMeer. It is the first in a series of three books called the Southern Reach Trilogy. The book describes a team of four women (a biologist, an anthropologist, a psychologist, and a surveyor) who set out into an area known as Area X. The area is abandoned and cut off from the rest of civilization. They are the 12th expedition. The other expeditions have been fraught with disappearances, suicides, aggressive cancers, and mental trauma. The novel won the 2014 Nebula Award for Best Novel and the 2014 Shirley Jackson Award for best novel. A film based on the novel, starring Natalie Portman, was released by Paramount Pictures on February 23, 2018.

I learned of the book when the trailer for the film came out. Here it is ...

I'm only a bit beyond the beginning of the book, but there are some differences between it and the film. So far it's both intriguing and disturbing. Here's the start of a book review from The New York Times ...

Futuristic Thrillers

A clandestine government agency called the Southern Reach has sent 11 mostly failed expeditions into Area X, where an environmental catastrophe has created a nasty new ecosystem that may be encroaching on our own familiar world. The latest group sent to explore the region is composed of four women known only by their disciplines: surveyor, anthropologist, psychologist and biologist. Acting as narrator, the biologist takes us along as they make their way down a tunnel whose walls bear enigmatic and frightening messages that sound like Cormac McCarthy at his most biblical. Although her companions are gradually eliminated, the intrepid biologist presses on alone, finally reaching a lighthouse that holds the remains of all those earlier expeditions. Fear-fed violence ensues, and as required in this sort of novel, the biologist must foolishly descend even farther into the tunnel’s depths to confront a monster, the Crawler, so protean she can’t describe it — though at times its face seems to resemble a photo she’s seen of the lighthouse keeper ...

Friday, April 13, 2018

A porn star and some G men ...

... steal a march on Michael Cohen..

Remember when I wrote that we shouldn't forget about Stormy Daniels, the porn actress that Trump slept with? There's more news on Daniels and Trump's attorney, Cohen ... Exclusive: FBI seized recordings between Trump's lawyer and Stormy Daniels' former lawyer, the one she believed Cohen was conspiring with against her. In the last few days there has been a ton of stuff in the news about Cohen ...

- The FBI raided Cohen's home, hotel room, and law office, confiscating literally millions of documents ... F.B.I. Raids Office of Trump’s Longtime Lawyer Michael Cohen; Trump Calls It ‘Disgraceful’

- Since then, more has come out about Cohen ... RNC deputy finance chair steps down after admitting Trump’s lawyer negotiated settlement between him and pregnant Playboy model

- Cohen challenged the government's right to take his documents in the aforementioned raid ... Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen fights to block investigators from using items seized in FBI raid ... which backfired on him when the government sought to show Cohen isn't really a lawyer for Trump, leading perhaps to the question of whether there's any attorney/client privilege between Trump and Cohen ... US Attorney’s office to Michael Cohen: You’re hardly a lawyer

- And now we're beginning to see more of the connection, too, between Cohen and the Mueller probe into Russian collision. We already knew of Cohen and the Moscow Trump Tower thing ... Trump attorney reached out to Kremlin to pursue Moscow Trump Tower project. Remember the Steele dossier that had Michael Cohen in Prague meeting with Russians in 2016? In today's news ... Sources: Mueller has evidence Cohen was in Prague in 2016, confirming part of dossier ... and ... Why the question of whether Michael Cohen visited Prague is massively important for Donald Trump

We don't know how long Mueller or the US Attorney have been looking at Cohen, but I can't help thinking that the legal fight put up by Stormy Daniels and her present lawyer, Mixhael Avenatti, against Cohen's NDA is part of the reason Cohen's trove of info has just been forcibly harvested by the FBI.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

The Pope apologizes ...

But .... he takes no action.

The Pope installed a bishop in Chile, Juan Barros, who had been credibly accused by a number of people, of having covered up sexual abuse committed by his mentor, Fernando Karadima, over huge protests. The Pope insulted the victims. Then he finally agreed to have someone go to Chile to interview the victims. Now he's sorry he insulted them. But he's not removing the bishop. And he's not doing anything to stop sex abuse by clergy. If this was happening in a secular corporation, people would be going to prison.

More: Francis' Chilean critics welcome apology, hope for action on abuse cover-up

You Can't Catch Me

Today was the fifth, yes fifth, time we've tried and failed to catch one of the three cats that still need to be spayed/neutered ... argh! We've been making appointments with the County's spay and neuter clinic and you have to have the cat there by 7:30 am. The day before, I try to keep all food from the target cats so they will be hungry the next morning. I get up at 5:30 on the big day, get the cat food ready, the traps ready, and try to look invisible outside near the traps, waiting for the target cats to appear. My sister comes by to take the captured cat to the clinic on her way to work at about 7. As I was dejectedly standing out there this morning, futilely hoping, a song began playing in my head, one written by Chuck Berry and covered by the Rolling Stones: You Can't Catch Me ...

Sigh ;)

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Trump 's war on the poor

One of the most depressing books I've ever read was Oliver Twist, with its storyline of life in a Victorian era workhouse. Here's a description of such a place, from a 2012 Guardian article about proposed welfare laws in the UK ...

[...] the workhouse – a place where paupers would be incarcerated and made to work. In 1834 the new poor law was promulgated. At its heart was the notion of less eligibility: reducing the number of people entitled to support, so that only those who could not work (rather than those who would not work) would receive support. It's here that the distinction between the deserving and undeserving poor became a legal one. To deter those who would not work from applying for poor law support, workhouses were made deliberately unpleasant, often resembling a prison as much as a refuge. Critics condemned them as "the new Bastilles". As we celebrate the 200th anniversary of Charles Dickens, we are witnessing a return of just the sort of language about the poor that he did so much to expose as cruel and inhuman ...

What made me think of Dickens was a story in the news today that Trump is going to make welfare and food stamp recipients work for their benefits. First he gives huge tax cuts to the rich and now he will punish the poor.

Monday, April 09, 2018

Woo hoo!

F.B.I. Raids Office of Trump’s Longtime Lawyer Michael Cohen

This is good news on a whole number of levels.

Related: from the editorial board of The New York Times ... All the President’s Thugs

Friday, April 06, 2018

Two movies

Rented two movies this week to which I had been really looking forward ...

- First was Star Wars: The Last Jedi ...

a 2017 American epic space opera film written and directed by Rian Johnson. It is the second installment of the Star Wars sequel trilogy and the eighth main installment of the Star Wars franchise, following Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) .... The ensemble cast includes Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Lupita Nyong'o, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels and Gwendoline Christie in returning roles, with Kelly Marie Tran, Laura Dern and Benicio del Toro joining the cast.

Before I saw the movie I had heard that Mark Hamill, who plays Jedi Luke Skywalker, wasn't happy with the script, especially the his character was written ...

After seeing the movie, I agree with Hamill. The scripts for The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi have Han Solo and Princess Leia as estranged from each other and embittered, their son as a homicidal maniac, and they show Luke as an angry and defeated hermit who has turned his back on his family and his calling. That's not who those people are. It seems that the creators of the new trilogy are willing to use the old characters as plot devises and object lessons in order to give the newer story some drama. I don't think it works.

Having said that, I still found the movie worth watching. There were lots of neat special effects and I really liked the critters they invented for this film, like the crystal foxes ...

There were also some nice references to the original trilogy, like the one near the end when Luke says with some irony to Kylo Ren, Han's killer, what Han Solo had once said to him ....

Here's a trailer ...

The other movie I saw was Thor: Ragnarok ...

a 2017 American superhero film based on the Marvel Comics character Thor .... It is the sequel to 2011's Thor and 2013's Thor: The Dark World .... directed by Taika Waititi .... stars Chris Hemsworth as Thor alongside Tom Hiddleston, Cate Blanchett, Idris Elba, Jeff Goldblum, Tessa Thompson, Karl Urban, Mark Ruffalo, and Anthony Hopkins. In Thor: Ragnarok, Thor must escape the alien planet Sakaar in time to save Asgard from Hela and the impending Ragnarök.

I've seen all the Thor movies, of course - I used to read Thor comics when I was a kid - so I was looking forward to this latest installment. The plot is pretty complicated (read the Wikipedia version) but here are the basics ...

The last time we saw Thor was a few years ago in Avengers: Age of Ultron and he didn't show up in the next Marvel film, Captain America: Civil War, because he was on vacation ;) ...

At that time he believed his adopted brother, Loki, was dead and that his father, Odin, reigned in Asgard, his home. In this film he returns to Asgard to find that Loki is alive and impersonating Odin, whose memory he has messed with and whom he has sent to Earth. With some help from Doctor Strange they find Odin in Denmark ...

Hela makes it to Asgard and wreaks havoc there after sending Thor and Loki through a wormhole to a remote garbage planet. Loki makes friends with the ruler but Thor ends up as gladiator/slave who must face the local champion, the Hulk/Bruce Banner ...

Eventually Thor and the Hulk (who's turned back into Banner) escape the planet with some help from an ex-pat valkyrie. Everyone ends up back on Asgard, including Loki, and they all join up to try to defeat Hela, but things don't go as planned.

I really liked the movie - there was a lot of humor, but also some emotionally moving scenes as well. Here's a trailer ...

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Cecile Richards

Last night I saw an interview on Rachel Maddow's show with Cecile Richards, the president of Planned Parenthood, who is about to step down from that job and who has written a new book, Make Trouble: Standing Up, Speaking Out, and Finding the Courage to Lead--My Life Story.

I can't find that video to embed, but here's another from CBS This Morning, in which she mentions how Jared and Ivanka threatened to cut funding for PP if the organization wouldn't stop offering abortion as an option ...

As I've mentioned in the past, when I was in college I was a volunteer at the local Planned Parenthood - I met some great people there and learned a lot about women's health care. It's too bad Richards will be leaving the organization. Must look for her book at the library.

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

The cats, continued

- Fluffy

Since last I wrote about the spay/neuter saga, we managed to catch one more of the cats, Socks, to take her to be spayed. Now there are two female cats left to catch - Snowy and Fluffy. Snowy is the cat who had the kittens a couple of weeks ago, so we have been concentrating on catching Fluffy, especially since she keeps getting more and more huge and we think she must be pregnant.

We've had no luck, though. Last week we had an appointment at the County place and we almost caught her with the drop trap but at the last second she bolted and it fell on her instead of around her. Fortunately, she wasn't hurt, but now she is even more wary of me. This morning we had another appointment and set up the trap, but she didn't even show up despite me not feeding her last night to make her more hungry.

I feel doomed. Fluffy is probably going to have kittens somewhere hidden, they will be feral, impossible to catch, and unadoptible even if I can catch them.