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Saturday, April 30, 2022

Project Hail Mary

My latest read from the public library is a #1 New York Times bestselling science fiction novel, Project Hail Mary. It's written by Andy Weir, the author of The Martian.

Here's the beginning of a book review in The Washington Post ...

Andy Weir’s ‘Project Hail Mary’ is a bestseller. It also has some problems.

No surprise: “Project Hail Mary,” Andy Weir’s latest science fiction space adventure, is a bestseller. Like “The Martian” and “Artemis,” the book has a propulsive story line and is filled with the cool science and witty banter you expect from Weir, a software engineer who turned his love of aerospace and the hard sciences into a cottage industry. In his latest outing, Weir uses a common SF trope — a protagonist who must discover who he is and what’s going on, and oh, also save humanity. It’s a fun idea, and Weir knows how to ratchet up the excitement, but the novel seems written to be a movie (and in fact is being made into one, starring Ryan Gosling). Perhaps just wait for that? ....

Yes, I don't like it as much as The Martian, but it's still a lot of fun and the science stuff is great. I'm the person who failed "science for liberal arts majors" in college. Twice. Everything I know about science has been gleaned from the science fiction novels, tv series, and movies I've read and watched. It's wierdly satisfying to learn science this way :)

If you liked The Martian, I think you'll like this too.

Friday, April 29, 2022

Ohio law

Red states are tripping over each other trying to get more and more restrictive anti-abortion laws on the books before the Supreme Court (and its pro-life Trump majority) makes a decision on abortion.

One of the latest laws in Ohio has no exception for victims of incest or rape ...

Ohio lawmaker calls pregnancies from rape an ‘opportunity’ for victims

An Ohio lawmaker proposing a near-total abortion ban was given a hypothetical: A 13-year-old girl is raped and becomes pregnant as a result. Would the Republican’s bill force that teenager to have her rapist’s baby?

Yes — and the resulting child would be an “opportunity,” state Rep. Jean Schmidt said this week.

“It is a shame that it happens, but there’s an opportunity for that woman, no matter how young or old she is, to make a determination about what she’s going to do to help that life be a productive human being,” she said ...

I have no words. Actually, I did have words but they were so angry I had to delete them. If the Republicans have their way, we'll be back in the 1950s. I was there - trust me, it wasn't great.

Ukraine, cont.

Trying to keep up with what's happening in Ukraine. Here's a map that's helpful from one of the news shows I watched today ...

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Jim Carrey

Thinking of Jim Carrey this morning for some reason. I like so many of his movies, his impersonations, his paintings, and, of course, his stint as Joe Biden on SNL. But who knew he could sing? Here he is singing the opening of the song at the top of the post by Norwegian band A-ha ...

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

In the yard

Out with the kitties.

Here's Snowy. She looks kind of sleepy ...

Gretel ...

And here's Lucy ...

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Earth Day

Tomorrow is Earth Day. I recall the first one in 1970 - I was 18. A lot has changed since then. For instance, Humanity has wiped out 60% of animal populations since 1970, report finds. Here's more ...

Despite the rather upbeat ending of the video, I'm pretty depressed about the environmental situation. It's not that we don't know what to do to save our ecosystem, it's that most of us really don't care. At the end of the day, we refuse to inconvenience ourselves.

Maybe we humans can slip away to another planet and wreak havoc there after we've squeezed all the juice out of this one? Nope, we don't have the intestinal fortitude to accomplish that either.

I predict we'll cycle back and forth between denial and blame-shifting until we, and all the other species that rode into Dodge with us, are extinct.

Breaks my heart.

Monday, April 18, 2022


I was shocked, shocked I say, to learn that the head of the Russian Orthodox church is backing Putin's war of terror on Ukraine ... Russian Orthodox leader backs war in Ukraine, divides faith

But no one would have been surprised if they had ever read about Kirill, his relationship to Putin, his autocratic attitudes, and his antipathy for Ukraine. As I wrote in a 2011 post, Dress code for Russian women? , Kirill is an ex-KGB agent, like Putin. Here's a bit from a 2009 Forbes article ...

Putin Runs The Russian State--And The Russian Church Too

[...] Kirill, who was the Metropolitan of Smolensk, succeeds Alexei II who died in December after 18 years as head of the Russian Church. According to material from the Soviet archives, Kirill was a KGB agent (as was Alexei). This means he was more than just an informer, of whom there were millions in theSoviet Union. He was an active officer of the organization. Neither Kirill nor Alexei ever acknowledged or apologized for their ties with the security agencies ...

And apparently, Kirill just really really loves Putin: see this 2012 Reuters article - Russian patriarch calls Putin era "miracle of God".

So Kirill runs his church just as Putin has long wished, as a tool of Christian Orthodox nationalism. Here's a bit from a 2007 article in TIME ...

Putin's Reunited Russian Church

[...] Nationalism, based on the Orthodox faith, has been emerging as the Putin regime's major ideological resource. Thursday's rite sealed the four-year long effort by Putin, beginning in September 2003, to have the Moscow Patriarchate take over its rival American-based cousin and launch a new globalized Church as his state's main ideological arm and a vital foreign policy instrument. In February press conference, Putin equated Russia's "traditional confessions" to its nuclear shield, both, he said, being "components that strengthen Russian statehood and create necessary preconditions for internal and external security of the country." Professor Sergei Filatov, a top authority on Russian religious affairs notes that "traditional confessions" is the state's shorthand for the Russian Orthodox Church ...

And since Russia has been stealing parts of Ukraine, Kirill has been on the side of Russia. Check out this PBS news video from 2019, which is pretty informative on this issue ...

So it's not surprising that Kirill is all in with Putin's current war on Ukraine. Depressing, though, how easy it is for conservative religious leaders to subvert Christian values for political purposes.

Sunday, April 17, 2022


One of the things I think of around Easter is a moment from when we lived in Bermuda. When I was a little kid there, I went to a horse show at Easter time, 1959. My mental photo from the past shows beautiful green lawns, lovely flowers, and a wonderful white horse ... Snowman. Whenever I recall that, I can still feel the joy of 7 year old me :)

US “Cinderella Horse” Who Charmed Bermuda

[I]n 1959 Snowman .... visited Bermuda to appear at the Agricultural Exhibition in a demonstration event ....

Snowman once again prevailed, becoming something of a local celebrity during the week he spent on the island.

Bermudian equestrians as well as hundreds of school children stood line at the Botanical Garden to pet and be photographed with the “Cinderella Horse.”

Snowball retired not long after his celebrated Bermuda appearance, dying at the age of 26 in 1974.

Footage of the “Cinderella Horse’s” Bermuda show ring appearance is featured in the 2016 documentary Harry & Snowman

And here's a photo of him from The New York Times article, Harry deLeyer, 93, Dies; He Saved a Horse and Made Him a Legend ...

Thank you, Snowman, for such a happy Easter memory.

Happy Easter

Friday, April 15, 2022

Good Friday

Or Bad Friday, which is how I feel about it. Here is a scene from The Last Temptation of Christ, in which David Bowie is playing Pontius Pilate ...

It's weird how hard Christianuty has tried to portray Pilate as *not* a bad guy .... Benedict 16 almost seemed to llike him ... yet according to history, he was indeed a brutal ruler.

Sunday, April 10, 2022

How I See

The way this guy sees is very much like the way I see. If I look directly at something, it disappears. There's no big black spot, there's just an area of what is like snow on tv that tends to blend in with whats around it.

This makes it hard to read or do anything that takes detailed vision. When this gets very dangerous is when you cross a street and totally blot out the oncoming car. Or when you blot out Yoda the cat and accidently step on her - eeeek!

Thursday, April 07, 2022

Mỹ Lai

- Photo taken by United States Army photographer Ronald L. Haeberle on March 16, 1968 in the aftermath of the My Lai massacre showing mostly women and children dead on a road. Wikipedia

I was in high school when the Mỹ Lai massacre took place. This was one of the reasons I was then against the Vietnam war ...

The Mỹ Lai massacre ... was the mass murder of unarmed South Vietnamese civilians by United States troops in Sơn Tịnh District, South Vietnam, on 16 March 1968 during the Vietnam War. Between 347 and 504 unarmed people were killed by U.S. Army soldiers .... Victims included men, women, children, and infants. Some of the women were gang-raped and their bodies mutilated, as were children as young as 12. Twenty-six soldiers were charged with criminal offenses, but only Lieutenant William Calley Jr., a platoon leader in C Company, was convicted. Found guilty of murdering 22 villagers, he was originally given a life sentence, but served three-and-a-half years under house arrest after President Richard Nixon commuted his sentence ...

I was remembering this when the news came out about Bucha and other similar Ukrainian towns in which Russian britality to civilians has been discovered. Added proof - Germany intercepts Russian talk of indiscriminate killings in Ukraine.

Some will say that this kind of stuff always happens in war. Yes, it does sometimes happen, but here's the thing: most of the time when it happens, as with the Mỹ Lai massacre, it's considered an aberration and deemed a war crime.

With Russia, this kind of behavior is not an aberration but a well-established modus operandi: think of the Putin-led Russian attack on the Chechnya city of Grozny (Battle of Grozny (1999–2000)) ...

The 1999–2000 battle of Grozny was the siege and assault of the Chechen capital Grozny by Russian forces, lasting from late 1999 to early 2000. The siege and fighting left the capital devastated. In 2003, the United Nations called Grozny the most destroyed city on Earth. Between 5,000 and 8,000 civilians were killed during the siege, making it the bloodiest episode of the Second Chechen War. ...

Read more: Second Chechen War crimes and terrorism.

I'm worried this is what is going to happen to Ukraine unless we help them to defeat Russia and eject them from their country.

Monday, April 04, 2022


War crimes revealed in the small town of Bucha, near Kyiv, after the Russians withdrew.

What is the Biden administration waiting for? Civilians in Ukraine are being raped, tortured, murdered, while the US sits around imagining meaner sanctions. Holy sh*t, give Ukraine the weapons they need to drive the Russians out!

Friday, April 01, 2022


From Alex Crawford of Sky News - inside the small town of Irpin, on the edge of Kyiv, which has now been liberated from the Russians.