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Saturday, December 31, 2022

RIP: B16

I see that Pope Benedict XVI has died. I thought he was wrong about, well, everything, but his one redeeming feature in my eyes was that he cared about animals (German pope made no secret of his love for cats).

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Frozen Worlds

For the last few days I've been watching Frozen Worlds, the second episode of a UK nature documentary narrated by David Attenborough titled Our Planet. Here's the description of this episode from Wikipedia ...

Gentoo penguins climb to the top of a rocky outcrop to lay their eggs. Beneath the melting sea ice, trillions of Antarctic krill graze upon algae. The penguins and several humpback whales gather in large groups to feed on the abundant krill. A pod of orcas arrive and hunt the penguins. On the island of South Georgia, wandering albatrosses raise their chicks. Leopard seals stay the winter in the warmer waters of South Georgia to hunt king penguins out to find food for their chicks. Two male southern elephant seals fight over dominance. Far north in Svalbard, the impact climate change has on polar bear's hunting habits is shown, as ringed seals use dens less often, removing the bears' advantage of ambush. During summertime in the Canadian Arctic, narwhals wait for a crack in the ice to hide from predators in a shallow bay. Over a hundred thousand walruses have hauled out on a beach in the Russian Far East due to much of the sea ice having melted. Some of the walruses manage to scale the high cliffs, but many fall to their deaths.

It's pretty amazing. Sad too, because it shows the devastating effect climate change, caused by us, is having on other species. Whatever few creatures are still extant by the time we humans eventually kill ourselves off (nope, we aren't escaping to Mars), will doubtless breathe a sigh of relief that we are finally gone.

Monday, December 26, 2022

The rain

Torrential rain happening here ... Potential Category 4 atmospheric river to hit Northern California. Seems like it will be continuing for many many days. Now that the roof is fixed, at least it's dry in the house, but the poor outdoor cats are miserable. They can go into the garage, but for some reason, only a few will do so. Others are huddled on the porch under the pop tent, but that's not much protection. I know this is good for the trees, but I still hate the rain :(

Sunday, December 25, 2022


US storm: Dozens dead as big freeze grips North America

The weather news has been grim and frightening, so perhaps it's no coincidence that tonight I watched a certain film free now at Amazon Prime: The Day After Tomorrow ...

a 2004 American science fiction disaster film directed, co-produced, and co-written by Roland Emmerich. Based on the 1999 book The Coming Global Superstorm by Art Bell and Whitley Strieber, the film stars Dennis Quaid, Jake Gyllenhaal, Sela Ward, Emmy Rossum, and Ian Holm. It depicts catastrophic climatic effects following the disruption of the North Atlantic Ocean circulation. A series of extreme weather events usher in global cooling and lead to a new ice age.

I liked the film back when it first came out, but watching it tonight was more than entertaining - it was pretty scary/disturbing. The theory of the climate disaster in the film was pooh-poohed when it came out, but it is looking more possible all the time. Here are a few articles ...

Far-Drifting Antarctic Icebergs Are Trigger of Ice Ages, Scientists Say and How Melting Arctic Ice Affects Ocean Currents and Will melting glaciers cool the climate?

But anyway, the film is worth a watch - I like Dennis Quaid and Jake Gyllenhaal :) And the special effects are really pretty good ...

And the message is worth reiteratong. Here is a scene at the end of the movie in which the new US president (the former one got frozen) addresses their new situation ...

Saturday, December 24, 2022

Merry Christmas

Friday, December 23, 2022

Swine Lake

When it's Christmas time, I think about ballet - the Nutcracker, of course, but also just ballet in general. My mother took us to see a ballet when we were kids and after that my favorite ballet dancer was Rudolf Nureyev (and then Baryshnikov and Godunov).

Here's Nureyev in 1977 dancing Swine Lake with someone who looks a lot like Miss Piggy, but apparently wasn't :) ...

Thursday, December 22, 2022


Wednesday, December 21, 2022


Watch President Zelenskyy's speech to Congress. I hope the Trump/Putin-worshipping Republicans in the House don't stand in the way of the US helping Ukraine financially and militarily. I feel we have to help them, not just to defend themselves, but to kick Russia completely out of Ukraine.

Here is Yale professor Timothy Snyder commenting on Zelenskyy ...

Tuesday, December 20, 2022


Finally! Even Nixon allowed his taxes to be scrutinized, and presidential candidates have made their taxes public for 40 years, but Republicans are having conniptions over Trump's taxes being published. Why? What has he been hiding?

Apparently, the mandatory audit the IRS is supposed to do, since the 70s, of every US president and vice president, was not completed on Trump (Report on the I.R.S. Mandatory Audit Program for Presidents). Just a coincidence that the head of the IRS had been appnted by him under questionable circumstances?

Monday, December 19, 2022

Last hearing

Today was the last hearing of the January 6 Committee. They gave a video summery of their work, added in some new stuff like testimony from Hope Hicks and others, and then voted unanimously to make criminal referrals to the DOJ for Trump. The full report by the committee is due out on Wednesday. Here's the video summery ...

Sunday, December 18, 2022


Missing the Rings of Power! Below is the scene where Elendil takes Galadriel to the Hall of Laws (episode 3) ...

Priests for Life

Vatican defrocks an anti-abortion priest who once placed an aborted fetus on an altar

[...] A letter to U.S. bishops from the Vatican ambassador to the U.S., Archbishop Christophe Pierre, obtained Sunday, said the decision against Pavone, who heads the anti-abortion group Priests for Life, had been taken Nov. 9, and that there was no chance for an appeal.

Pavone had been investigated by his then-diocese of Amarillo, Texas, for having placed an aborted fetus on an altar and posting a video of it on two social media sites in 2016. He posts frequently about U.S. politics and abortion, and the video of the aborted fetus was accompanied by a post saying that Hillary Clinton and the Democratic platform would allow abortion to continue and that Donald Trump and the Republican platform want to protect unborn children ... Priests for Life is not a Catholic organization ....

More about this organization from Wikipedia ...

Priests for Life

Priests for Life (PFL) is an anti-abortion organization based in Titusville, Florida PFL functions as a network to promote and coordinate anti-abortion activism, especially among Roman Catholic priests and laymen, with the primary strategic goal of ending abortion and euthanasia and to spread the message of the Evangelium vitae encyclical, written by Pope John Paul II ....

A Catholic World News analysis of tax returns indicated that between 2006 and 2008, Priests for Life spent less than 63% of its revenues on its programs. It also found that Pavone did not draw any salary from the organization. Charity Navigator awarded Priests for Life one star out of four for financial accountability and transparency. The Better Business Bureau Charity Review lists PFL as "Did Not Disclose" indicating that the "organization either has not responded to written BBB requests for information or has declined to be evaluated in relation to BBB Standards for Charity Accountability." It explained, "without the requested information, it is not possible to determine whether this charity adheres to all of the BBB Standards for Charity Accountability." ....

In early November 2016, ahead of the elections in the United States, Pavone, a member of Donald Trump's 33-member Catholic advisory council, posted a live video to Facebook in opposition to the continued "child killing" in America, urging people to vote for Trump ....

Wow, so bad, even the Catholic church had to renounce them.

Friday, December 16, 2022


My favorite historian, Michael Beschloss :) I'm actually so old, I can remember the day JFK was killed - I was 12 and we kids were sent home from school early. I wish the Biden administration would just release all of the documents.

Thursday, December 15, 2022


Yep, it may actually be the case that Republican voters are tired of Trump and want Ron DeSantis instead as their presidential candidate. But that's not necessarily a good thing. DeSantis has his own raft of scary stances and policies - a "Trump with a brain" will only be more dangerous.

Tuesday, December 13, 2022


The idea of achieving fusion energy, the very power of the sun, has shown up a lot in science fiction - it would deliver a limitless, safe, clean energy source. Look, In Spider-Man 2, Dr. Otto Octavius (Doc Ock) tries to create a stable fusion reaction ...

It will be amazing if it works. Hopefully the government won't spend all their time making super bombs but will use the technology to end the use of polluting power sources.

Wednesday, December 07, 2022


I love the San Diego Zoo. I lived nearby it years ago and would visit Balboa Park, where the zoo is situated, almost every day :)

Religious liberty

I've been waiting for someone to bring a suit like this, given that the Jewish faith is pro-choice ...

Judge Blocks Indiana Abortion Ban on Religious Freedom Grounds

A second Indiana judge on Friday blocked the state from enforcing its law banning most abortions after Jewish, Muslim and other non-Christian women challenged it in a lawsuit ....

"The Court finds that S.E.A. 1 substantially burdens the religious exercise of the Plaintiffs," Welch wrote, using the formal name of the law, in granting the plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction while the challenge to its legality proceeds.

"Although some religions believe that human life begins at conception, this is not an opinion shared by all religions or all religious people," the ACLU said in a statement.

I'm waiting now for the conservative Catholic judges of the Sopreme Court to say that the only religious beliefs that matter are their own.

Tuesday, December 06, 2022

Warnock wins


An article

There's another pro-life article at America magazibne. I tried to leave a comment there, but I it didn't show up, so I thought I'd comment on the article here. Why? Because the article, like many of the pro-life articles at America, is filled with misleading statements, and that just really bothers me. Here are a few bits ...

Former Democratic Congressman: Pro-life politicians should rally around a 15-week abortion ban

[...] The misleadingly titled Women’s Health Protection Act passed the House twice but failed in the Senate twice in the current Congress. While this bill is portrayed by supporters as a modest guarantee that abortion will not be completely outlawed, it would instill into federal law abortion-on-demand through an entire pregnancy and prevent any state regulation. This extreme policy is opposed by a sizable majority of Americans—a supermajority, in fact.

The Women’s Health Protection Act does not "instill into federal law abortion-on-demand through an entire pregnancy". Like Roe, it allows for abortion up to the time of viability (24 weeks). It allows for an abortion after that time only if a woman's health or life are threatened. Lindsey Grahan'ss anti-abortion ban includes an exception for the "life of the mother" that would also allow a late term abortion. And no, there is not a pro-life supermajority in the US.

It is also important not to forget legislation that has been proposed in Congress for years without any constitutional objections but has never been enacted. This includes a bill that prohibits federal taxpayer funding of abortion and one that guarantees conscience protections for health care providers.

Why have these bills never passed? Because they would keep poor wommen from accessing an abortion, and because protections for health care workers already exists in law.

Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey were joined by a number of organizations in announcing the introduction of legislation that would restrict abortion on the federal level at 15 weeks of pregnancy. This bill includes exceptions for rape, incest and the life of the mother and makes clear that women will not be prosecuted for having an abortion. It also does not pre-empt any additional state regulation of abortion.

This bill will never be acceptable, because it does not make the 15 week ban and the exceptions for rape, incest, and the life of the mother mandatory in every state, only in states which now have more liberal laws. It will allow states that have complete abortion bans with no exceptions to keep those complete bans in place.

The pro-life movement has never only advocated for legal restrictions on abortion. Recognizing the conditions that often lead women to seek abortions, many in the movement have endeavored to help pregnant women in other ways .... such a shift could help shape the public’s understanding of what motivates the pro-life community

Right, Republicans helping the poor with government money - don't make me laugh. Even if these government "pay women to have babies" plans ever came to pass, they would not be able to erase the fact that the pro-life movement has a history that stretches to today of lies and violence towards women. The pro-life movement will never be trusted as being "for" women.

Monday, December 05, 2022

We the People

Trump has called for ...

Why? So that he can be put in power once again. Republican lawmakers, for the most part, are still lining up to kiss his ass and to support him as the future, let's just say it, dictator/monarch of America (with his spawn to rule after him in perpetuity).

Bye bye democracy.