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Tuesday, August 31, 2021


Last night Rachel Maddow went over the history of other countries which tried to make Afghanistan their own, but failed .... England and Russia.

This reminded me of how all this has been portrayed, not just in history books, but in novels and movies.

When I was in college I read M. M. Kaye's novel, The Far Pavilions (1978), which dealt in part with the Second Anglo-Afghan War.

But a more recent and kind of silly example of this was the one James Bond movie I ever actually liked (because Timothy Dalton) - The Living Daylights (1987). In that film, Bond and his girl friend end up in Afghanistan, fighting the Russians with the help of a romanticized mujahideen ...

Who would have guessed back then that we would someday invade Afghanistan ourdelves and stay for 20 years, then end up surrendering, as both Britain and Russia had before us.

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Lake Tahoe

Beautiful Lake Tahoe is a bit over 100 miles from where I live and I've visited a couple of times. Now it's in danger from fire :( ...

Monday, August 23, 2021


The baby possums are back. A couple of weeks ago we found a dead possum in the backyard. The next evening, some baby possums showed up at the cats' food dish for a snack. Was the deceased possum their mother? They seem to be ok, and seem to love Purina cat chow. Here's one of them who came out early today ...

Saturday, August 21, 2021

The Alpinist

A film I'm looking forward to seeing is a documentary about Marc-André Leclerc, a Canadian rock climber and alpinist. He and his climbing partner disappeared on a climb in 2018, their boies never found.

When I was a teen, my high school let us all go on a rock climbing trip in the Desolation Wilderness area, if I remember correctly. Some friends and I opted out of the actual rock climbing part (too scary) and took LSD instead. But there is something fascinating about mountain climbing, and I've seen many of the movies about it, good and bad, from The Eiger Sanction to Everest.

Friday, August 20, 2021


When I was married, we didn't have a tv. At night we would listen to music instead. One of the ex's favorite musicians was Canadian Gordon Lightfoot ...

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Not Saigon?

US secretary of state, Antony Blinken's assertion that "this is manifestly not Saigon" is proven untrue.

I saw Biden's speech today. It's obvious he has strong feelings on this issue, but he wasn't entirely honest ... he was in no way forced to honor the agreement Trump made with the Taliban to pull out troops or to pull them out so quickly. Meanwhile, it appears he has no plans to help the women and girls of Afghanistan.

What Biden could have done was leave a small peacekeeping force in Afghanistan to lend stability to at least part of the country - that would save some of the women and girls from a horroble life under the Taliban.

Why should Americans care enough about those women and girls to keep troops in Afghanistan? Because we made the choice to invade and occupy their country in the first place. Some perspective - we fought the Korean war about 70 years ago, the war is not yet officially over and there's a stalemate, and we still have about 28,000 troops there.

Sunday, August 15, 2021

Grinder priest

In the news: a top official of the US Bishops Conference - a priest, Msgr. Jeffrey Burrill - has resigned after it became public through reporting that he frequents gay bars and uses the gay dating and sex app, Grinder.

It is almost laughable to watch the Catholic press telling us to "move along, nothing to see here".

Someone not Catholic might think ... oh no, a celibate priest, one high up in the political infrastructure, has been revealed to be gay and sexually active.

But those Catholics who are reporting on this are carefully *not* going there. Instead, they are (1) attacking the source of the reporting, (2) attacking what they see as a homophobic reaction to the news, or (3) saying that the "liberal" viwepoint should be to protect the priest's privacy and to shrug off the sex (Peter Steinfels actually wants us to believe he is a liberal - ask him how he feels about a womsn's right to choose).

I, however, *am* a liberal, and I will tell you what a liberal would think about this news of Msgr. Jeffrey Burrill and his Grinder account.

(1) It doessn't matter who reported the news if the facts are accurate.

(2) It is not homophobic to note that a gay priest is lying to the faithful about being sexually active.

(3) This news is indeed a big deal, though church people like Steinfels say it's inconsequential. Why does it matter? Because ...

- The Catholic church and the pope are always and constantly telling not just Catholics but everyone how to live their lives, telling us what is good and what is bad, telling us that only they know what God really wants.

- The church and the pope have spent a lot of time telling us that sex outside of marrigae is bad for straight people, telling us that any sex is bad for gay people.

- The church tells us that the Catholic priesthhod is celibate, though reporting for decades has shown that about 50% of priests are sexually active with other adults (both straight and gay), and that many priests are pedophiles.

So why is a sexually active priest high up in leadership not an issue for Catholic pundits?

If it's ok for priests to have sex, and I think it should be, then officially do away with the "celibate" priesthood. If being LGBTQ is ok, and I think it is, then stop teaching that gay people are "intrinsically disordered",and stop lobbying against marriage for LGBTQ people.

Despite what Steinfels says, liberals actually care about facts, they care about honesty, they care about trust. Liberals are repelled by a churcch that so casually lies to us, that tells us to live one way while they live another, and that tells gay men that the only real family they can ever find is in the priesthood.

And this explains why there are very few liberals left in the Catholic church. Those who call themselves liberals are mostly Republican apologists for a religious/political institution that still benefits them, despite its hypocrisy and corruption.

Quiet Place 2

This week's movie rental was A Quiet Place Part II ...

a 2020 American horror film and the sequel to 2018's A Quiet Place, following the family from the first film as they continue to navigate and survive in a post-apocalyptic world inhabited by blind aliens with an acute sense of hearing. The film was written, produced, and directed by John Krasinski for Paramount Pictures. Emily Blunt, Millicent Simmonds, and Noah Jupe reprise their roles from the first film, while Cillian Murphy and Djimon Hounsou join the cast; Krasinski returns from the first film in a new flashback sequence.

If you saw the first film in the series, then you know what to expect. I'm more of a science fiction fan than a horror fan, but I made an exception for the first movie and for this one too, and I found them both well worth a watch.

The New York Times gave it a positive review: ‘A Quiet Place Part II’ Review: Pump Up the Volume

Enjoy :)

Friday, August 13, 2021


Watching all the news about the US retreat from, and the fall of, Afghanistan. Though the Biden administration is trying not to let it, it does seem reminiscent of the fall of Saigon in 1975 ...

There's been much in the news about the US evacuating those who helped the US military, like Afgha interpreters, but less about all the girls and women whose lives will be much worse off once the Taliban takes over.

The Biden administration's take seems to be "We couldn't force them to adopt our cultural norms. The Afghan people want to go back to how it was under the Taliban".

But that's not correct - things weren't always really awful for women in Afghanistan - that was not always their culture. Women were given the right to vote and were officially recognized as men's equals under the country's constitution (1964), and earlier rulers often made women's rights an issue. Here's a photo from Wikipedia: Afghan women in 1927, during the reform period of Amanullah Khan ...

And, Afghan women in Kabul entering a bus during the 1950s ...

During the communist era (1978-1992), there was a period of unprecedented equality for women in Afghanistan. The Communist ideology officially advocated gender equality and women's rights, and sought to implement it on all classes throughout both urban and rural Afghanistan.

When the conservative religiously extremist Taliban took over Afghanistan (1992), however, women's rights took a serious dive ...

The Taliban declared that women were forbidden to go to work and that they were not to leave their homes unless accompanied by a male family member. When they did go out, they were required to wear an all-covering burqa. Women were denied formal education and usually forced to stay at home ....

Several Taliban and Al-Qaeda commanders engaged in human trafficking, abducting women and selling them into forced prostitution and slavery in Pakistan. Time Magazine writes: "The Taliban often argued that the brutal restrictions they placed on women were actually a way of revering and protecting the opposite sex. The behavior of the Taliban during the six years they expanded their rule in Afghanistan made a mockery of that claim."

For the last 20 years, women and girls in Afghanistan were seeing a light at the end of the tunnel. Now the Biden administration has turned its back on them.

More from Susan Glasser at The New Yorker ... “Not Our Tragedy”: the Taliban Are Coming Back, and America Is Still Leaving

Tuesday, August 10, 2021


In the beginning: the 50s ...

The 60s. Me and the high school boyfriend ...

The 70s. Me, the college boyfriend, and our families ...

The 80s. I got married and divorced ...

The 90s. OK, this is actually close to the 90s but not quite there. Me and my sister in Portland ...

The 2000s ...

2020. Gray haired me and my sister and the pandemic ...

And now I have just turned 70. Never thought I would get this old. The ancient bod is starting to fall apart but so far I can still do the basic stuff (knock on wood). But I haven't really changed much interiorly since I was a teen - still a Democrat, still love animals, still a faminist, still love books and movies and music and chocolate donuts, and still wish I could discover the mysteries of the universe.

Monday, August 09, 2021

The report

This doesn't even mention the vast extinction of other species that's alo taking place. But anyway, I will predict that our ecosystem is doomed. It's not that we couldn't turn this around if we were all onboard, it's that a significant number of people around the world (in the US they are called Republicans) either don't believe in climate change or don't give a poop about trying to fix it. To reference a similar example of The Stupid, just think of our world-wide pandemic and the anti-vaxxers.

But no worries .... we're all moving to that dead ball of dust known as Mars, right?

Sunday, August 08, 2021


Tonight I watched Val ...

a 2021 American documentary film .... The film follows the life and career of actor Val Kilmer, including footage of Kilmer shot by himself throughout his career, footage of his childhood, and home movies.

If you're a Prime member at Amazon, it's free to stream. The movie was kind of sad, but also interesting, especially if you are a fan of the actor. I have been a fan for many years. Here are some of his movies I especially liked ...

- Thunderheart ...

- a 1992 American Neo-Western mystery film, directed by Michael Apted from an original screenplay by John Fusco. The film is a loosely based fictional portrayal of events relating to the Wounded Knee incident in 1973, when followers of the American Indian Movement seized the South Dakota town of Wounded Knee in protest against federal government policy regarding Native Americans.

- Heat ...

a 1995 American crime drama film written and directed by Michael Mann .... The film follows the conflict between an LAPD detective, played by Pacino, and a career thief, played by De Niro, while also depicting its impact on their professional relationships and personal lives.

- At First Sight ...

a 1999 American romantic drama film directed by Irwin Winkler and starring Val Kilmer and Mira Sorvino. It is based on the essay "To See and Not See" in neurologist Oliver Sacks' 1995 book An Anthropologist on Mars and inspired by the true life story of Shirl Jennings.

- Red Planet ...

a 2000 science fiction action film directed by Antony Hoffman, starring Val Kilmer, Carrie-Anne Moss, and Tom Sizemore.

Thursday, August 05, 2021


My Body, My Choice? The Paradox of Republican Anti-vaxxers

The first time I saw a photo of an anti-vaxxer with a sign that read “My Body My Choice,” I was sort of puzzled. I thought perhaps the photo editor had used the wrong image to accompany the story—but then I saw that the sign also included a picture of a mask with a red line across it. No, these people weren’t protesting a government that was regulating uteruses, a government that was telling women when they could end a pregnancy that was going on in their own bodies. They were instead protesting a simple and painless public-health measure. They were mad at the idea of having to wear a piece of fabric on their faces. For this particular group, government regulation was fine unless it was regulating them—at which point it became a horrible infringement on their constitutional rights ...

There was a time when conservatives/libertarians actually were for a woman's right to choose an abortion because they didn't want government getting involved in that decision ... Evangelical: Religious Right Has Distorted the Faith ... but that was before they realized an anti-abortion stance would make a great issue around which to consolidate right-wing Christians and Republican voters into a powerful political block.

Read more: The politics of abortion: a historical perspective

As with the issue of fiscal responsibility, we see that conservatives are hypocrites, without any actual values or ideals beyond what will gain them power over others.

Wednesday, August 04, 2021


I think most women have experienced sexual harassment at work. I have. There are now laws against it, harassment training sessions, and the #MeToo movement, but the rate of sexual harassment has not changed ... Why do employers keep providing the same ineffective sexual harassment training?

I think most harassers know what they are doing is harassment and that it is verboten, but they believe they have an inherent right to take advantage of those who are vulnerable. Training will not affect their behavior. Punishment might. In Cuomo's case, he should lose his job.

Tuesday, August 03, 2021


Monday, August 02, 2021

The list

So much has been going on that it has been hard to concentrate on blog posts.

One thing is that my sister is thinking about paying for having the roof re-done. I've been trying for years to find some government agency that would pay for it, and I got close: there's a federal program that will give a grant to poor-ish old folks to fix their homes, but it's only for people who live in rural areas. So anyway, time to get estimates.

Also, I've put Timmy the Terrible (see above) on a list at the SPCA to "surrender" him to find a new home. I don't know when he will get to the top of the list, but somehow I have to figure out how to catch him before then. I feel very guilty about this, but he is still terrorizing the other cats and I just can't take it anymore.

And last time I went to the doc they said my blood tests were bad = high cholesterol, high blood sugar, hig blood pressure. Must buy some dumbbells. Must become an almost vegan. Must actually use the exercise bike that sits in the kitchen gathering dust. Must eat Häagen-Dazs pistachio ice cream only once a week. Sigh :(

And someone ran over my mailbox. I have to replace it because the mailman won't deliver the mail now and I have to ask my sister to take me to he post office to pick it up. I've sent for a "no dig" mailbox post thing with a pointy end that you can supposedly easily drive into the gound. It hasn't come yet but I'm hopeful.

So much more. I hate the feeling that most of the stuff that needs to be done just lingers on my endless to-do list.