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Location: California, United States

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

Annihilation



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 Chili, 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 Chili 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.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Happy Easter

Here below is a resurrection clip from my favorite Jesus movie, Jesus (Jeremy Sisto) ...



It's 2001

I'm now up to 2001 in music now and here are three songs from albums released then ...

- The Lighthouse's Tale by Nickel Creek ...



- Wedding Day by the Bee Gees ...



- From an Aerosmith compilation album, the Run–D.M.C. version of 'Walk This Way' ...





Friday, March 30, 2018

Trump unleashed



Watching Lawrence O'Donnell tonight. He talks about how unleashed Trump will be now that Hope Hicks has left the White House, and he shows the awkward parting of the two, including a kiss. Having read Michael Wolff's book, Fire and Fury, I am kind of curious about Hicks ... the book gives some insight into her. I can't help thinking that she must be a somewhat disturbed person, given her strangely close relationship to Trump (Why Hope Hicks Resigning Matters), her affair with married man and former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, and her romance with accused wife-beater and former White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter (The Trump White House has been plagued by rumors of illicit romances — and now Hope Hicks is at the center).

Scary times.

Bad Friday

In Christianity this is Good Friday, the day Jesus was killed by the Romans, but I always think of it as Bad Friday because of the horrible suffering ...



What I've never understood about most Christians is why they seem to really really like that Jesus was murdered amid a whole lot of suffering. In my opinion, Jesus would have been resurrected no matter how or when he died, and I don't think it was God's plan that he be tortured to death at an early age ... it's just the awful way things turned out. It's not just me who doesn't buy the creepy atonement theory ...

Here's a bit from an article by Richard Leonard SJ ...

God did not need the blood of Jesus. Jesus did not just come ‘to die’ but God used his death to announce the end to death. This is the domain of ‘offer it up’ theology: it was good enough for Jesus to suffer; it is good enough for you. While I am aware of St Paul in Romans, St Clement of Alexandria, St Anselm of Canterbury and later John Calvin’s work on atonement theory and satisfaction theology, I cannot baldly accept that the perfect God of love set [us] up for a fall in the Fall, then got so angry with us that only the grisly death of his perfect son was going to repair the breach between us. This is not the only way into the mystery of Holy Week. For most of Christian history the question that has vexed many believers seems to be, ‘Why did Jesus die?’ I think it is the wrong question. The right one is ‘Why was Jesus killed?’ And that puts the last days of Jesus’ suffering and death in an entirely new perspective. Jesus did not simply and only come to die. Rather, Jesus came to live. As a result of the courageous and radical way he lived his life, and the saving love he embodied for all humanity, he threatened the political, social and religious authorities of his day so much that they executed him. But God had the last word on Good Friday: Easter Sunday.

More ...

- The Incarnation: Why God Wanted to Become Human by Ken Overberg SJ

- BBC Radio 4 Lent Talks by Jeffrey John

- Duns Scotus and the meaning of Love by Seamus Mulholland OFM

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Holy Wednesday


- Jesus gives Judas the gimlet eye in Jesus of Nazareth

Holy Wednesday ...

In the New Testament account of Holy Week, after Palm Sunday, the Sanhedrin gathered and plotted to kill Jesus before the feast of Pesach. On the Wednesday before his death, Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the Leper. As he sat at the supper table with his disciples, a woman named Mary anointed Jesus' head and feet with a costly oil of spikenard. The disciples were indignant, asking why the oil was not instead sold and the money given to the poor. But Judas Iscariot wanted to keep the money for himself. Then Judas went to the Sanhedrin and offered to deliver Jesus to them in exchange for money. From this moment on, Judas sought an opportunity to betray Jesus.

So many questions. Did Judas really do this? Why? Did Jesus know beforehand? If so, why did he choose Judas as a disciple, why didn't he stop him, was Judas needed as the bad guy, was it fair to use him as an object lesson? Don't know the answers, but as I read The Last Jedi, I think of Luke Skywalker and his apprentice, Ben Solo/Kylo Ren, who he knew would probably betray him but who he took on anyway in order to save.

Monday, March 26, 2018

The new kittens

I wrote in an earlier post that one of the cats I was trying to get spayed had had kittens. That was Snowy. Strangely, Marie, who did get spayed a few weeks ago has become kind of the co-mom of the kittens. I hadn't seen them up until today because they've been in a cat igloo under a table in the garage, but my sister has been crawling under there every couple of days to check on them. Today they somehow moved or got moved to a corner of the garage that is all icky with decay and piles of junk. I had to dig them out and I put them in a box back under the table. Hopefully the mom cats will decide that's an ok place for them. But while I was doing that, I got a photo of them. Kawaii!!! Look at their tiny tails :) ...



Thankfully, the vet did say she would take them to find homes for them for a donation, but she wants us to wait until they can eat on their own. I hope I can keep track of them until then.