Monday, December 24, 2012

It Isn't Really Christmas Until...Snoopy!


via Krby84

One of my best friends says that it isn't really Christmas until you've heard this song. I think he's right!

From the Royal Guardsmen, I present Snoopy's Christmas!


O Tannenbaum, O Tannenbaum,
Du kannst mir sehr gefallen!

The news had come out in the First World War
The bloody Red Baron was flying once more
The Allied command ignored all of its men
And called on Snoopy to do it again.

Was the night before Christmas, 40 below
When Snoopy went up in search of his foe
He spied the Red Baron, fiercely they fought
With ice on his wings Snoopy knew he was caught.

Christmas bells those Christmas bells
Ring out from the land
Asking peace of all the world
And good will to man

The Baron had Snoopy dead in his sights
He reached for the trigger to pull it up tight
Why he didn't shoot, well, we'll never know
Or was it the bells from the village below.

Christmas bells those Christmas bells
Ringing through the land
Bringing peace to all the world
And good will to man

The Baron made Snoopy fly to the Rhine
And forced him to land behind the enemy lines
Snoopy was certain that this was the end
When the Baron cried out, "Merry Christmas, my friend!"

The Baron then offered a holiday toast
And Snoopy, our hero, saluted his host
And then with a roar they were both on their way
Each knowing they'd meet on some other day.

Christmas bells those Christmas bells
Ringing through the land
Bringing peace to all the world
And good will to man

Here is another version, with the lyrics!



via mdragon180

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Sunday Inspiration - Little Drummer Boy, Bowie/Crosbie



Many people love this version of the Little Drummer Boy performed by the aging, but still velvet-voiced Bing Crosbie and a young, charismatic David Bowie.  I had no idea there was an actual video of this!

Enjoy!!

Little Drummer Boy/Peace On Earth

David & Bing:
Come they told me pa-rum-pum-pum-pum
A new-born king to see pa-rum-pum-pum-pum
Our finest gifts we bring pa-rum-pum-pum-pum
Rum-pum-pum-pum, rum-pum-pum-pum

David: Peace on Earth, can it be
Bing: Come they told me pa-rum-pum-pum-pum
David: Years from now, perhaps we'll see
Bing: A new-born king to see pa-rum-pum-pum-pum
David: See the day of glory
Bing: Our finest gifts we bring pa-rum-pum-pum-pum
David: See the day, when men of good will
Bing: To lay before the king pa-rum-pum-pum-pum
David: Live in peace, live in peace again
Bing: Rum-pum-pum-pum, rum-pum-pum-pum
David: Peace on Earth,
Bing: So to honour him pa-rum-pum-pum-pum
David: Can it be
Bing: When we come

David & Bing:
Every child must be made aware
Every child must be made to care
Care enough for his fellow man
To give all the love that he can

David: I pray my wish will come true
Bing: Little baby pa-rum-pum-pum-pum
David: For my child and your child too
Bing: I stood beside him there pa-rum-pum-pum-pum
David: He'll see the day of glory
Bing: I played my drum for him pa-rum-pum-pum-pum
David: See the day when men of good will
Bing: I played my best for him pa-rum-pum-pum-pum
David: Live in peace, live in peace again
Bing: Rum-pum-pum-pum, rum-pum-pum-pum
David: Peace on Earth,
Bing: And he smiled at me pa-rum-pum-pum-pum
David: Can it be
Bing: Me and my drum
David & Bing: Can it be

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Netherlands or Holland? Now You Know!



via CGPGrey


For your Saturday inspiration and edification: 
the difference between Holland and the Netherlands.
Four fun-filled minutes packed with information and history. 
Learn something new today and amaze all your friends!


"Welcome to the great nation of Holland, where the tulips grow, the windmills turn, the breakfasts are chocolatey, the people industrious and the sea tries to drown it all...except this country isn't Holland." (watch the video and learn more! It's cool!)

Friday, December 21, 2012

Thank Gods It's FreyaDay!


























Good Morning, Humans.

What a to-do around here!

People hustling and bustling!

Paper flying, legs running, horns honking in the street below.

My stars! It's beginning to look a lot like something around here!

I will sit quietly under this lovely decoration.

My Human put it here just for me!

Happy Holidays, Humans!

Thank gods it's FreyaDay!


Thursday, December 20, 2012

Thorsday Tonic - A Wave of Reason





Another inspiring video from Symphony of Science.

Lyrics:
Russell:
When you are studying any matter
Or considering any philosophy
Ask yourself only: what are the facts,
And what is the truth that the facts bear out

Sagan:
Science is more than a body of knowledge
It's a way of thinking
A way of skeptically interrogating the universe

If we are not able to ask skeptical questions
To be skeptical of those in authority
Then we're up for grabs

Shermer:
In all of science we're looking for a balance
between data and theory

Harris:
You don't have to delude yourself
With Iron age fairy tales

Porco:
The same spiritual fulfillment
That people find in religion
Can be found in science
By coming to know, if you will, the mind of God

Krauss:
The real world, as it actually is,
Is not evil, it's remarkable
And the way to understand the physical world
is to use science

Dawkins:
There is a new wave of reason
Sweeping across America, Britain, Europe, Australia
South America, the Middle East and Africa
There is a new wave of reason
Where superstition had a firm hold

Plait:
Teach a man to reason
And he'll think for a lifetime

Sagan:
Cosmology brings us face to face with the deepest mysteries
With questions that were once treated only
in religion and myth

The desire to be connected with the cosmos
Reflects a profound reality
But we are connected; not in the trivial ways
That Astrology promises, but in the deepest ways

Feynman:
I can't believe the special stories that have been made up
About our relationship to the universe at large
Look at what's out there; it isn't in proportion

Russell:
Never let yourself be diverted
By what you wish to believe
But look only and surely
At what are the facts

Randi:
Enjoy the fantasy, the fun, the stories
But make sure that there's a clear sharp line
Drawn on the floor
To do otherwise is to embrace madness

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Isn't That Just Ducky!



Hello There!  Happy Holidays!

I am getting very excited for the holidays!

My Human will be home in just four more days and then the holidays will be really and truly happy!

I can't wait! I am so excited!

See this ball?  ------>

It has a picture on it of where my Human is right now.

See how far she will travel to come home to me?

My Human is coming home in four days

and I am getting very excited for the Happy Holidays!

Isn't that just Ducky!



Christmas Dog By Shel Silverstein

Tonight’s my first night as a watchdog,
And here it is Christmas Eve.
The children are sleepin’ all cozy upstairs,
While I’m guardin’ the stockin’s and tree.

What’s that now--footsteps on the rooftop?
Could it be a cat or a mouse?
Who’s this down the chimney?
A thief with a beard--
And a big sack for robbin’ the house?

I’m barkin’ I’m growlin’ I’m bittin’ his butt.
He howls and jumps back in his sleigh.
I scare his strange horses, they leap in the air.
I’ve frightened the whole bunch away.

Now the house is all peaceful and quiet again,
The stockin’s are safe as can be.
Won’t the kiddies be glad when they wake up tomorrow
And see how I’ve guarded the tree.







Saturday, December 15, 2012

Saturday Inspiration - Thank You, Christopher Hitchens




For your Saturday Inspiration, a tribute to Christopher Hitchens on the anniversary of his death from Theramin Trees.


Thank you, Christopher

I became aware of Christopher Hitchens through an unfortunate route — namely his conservative christian brother, Peter. I found — and still find — Peter Hitchens's views obnoxious. One of many repugnant strands has been his consistent championing of special privileges for some christians to act out their prejudices in professional and official forums, on the grounds of religious freedom. He likes to dismiss his opponents in these matters as Thought Police — gingerly sidestepping moral discussions he hasn't a hope of winning, and instead favouring the dirty path of appeals to paranoia.

Suffice it to say Peter provided a dubious introduction to Christopher. But, families often contain huge differences — that's certainly the case in my own family. And my approach to Christopher, as with any new individual, was to view him on his own terms.

It soon became clear that here was a Hitchens with a much deeper vision of life. An empathic grasp of the experience of the disenfranchised. A disdain for false respectability and social artifice, which allowed him to comment on public figures, sacred cows and indeed himself with a candour the likes of which I've rarely seen. Anyone can be irreverent. Anyone can get up on a stage and shoot their mouth off. What set Hitchens apart is that he'd actually bothered to do the research first. He didn't wing it on guesswork, and he didn't insult his audience with rhetoric, or what he thought he could get away with. He'd got his facts together. And in a lot of cases, not being one to rely on the common press, that was through his own firsthand experience. He also possessed a muscular sense of irony — something notably lacking in the majority of his opponents, who were often left standing there prissy as dusty old schoolmasters, while Christopher graced the stage with an easy, natural humanity.

The term humanitarian suffers from an image problem. Some folks seem to expect humanitarians to be all touchy-feely. To console and comfort. For my money, the best humanitarians don't coddle us. They challenge us — sometimes aggressively. To be our best selves. They confront us with our stupidities, our pretences, our self-delusions and deceptions. Not with the agenda of diminishing us, bringing us into line, herding us into some grubby little flock. But in fact the opposite — shaking us out of our complacency, our groupthink, our self-indulgence and pig-ignorance. Though his use of the term 'comrades' invited his audience to join him in a sense of fellowship, there was never any obligation to agree with him, or toe any kind of party line. His concern for the masses came from a position of fierce independence from all things partisan.


I became aware of Christopher Hitchens very late in the day. It seems like it was only a matter of months before he announced the cancer that would eventually kill him. I'm grateful that so much of him and his work is preserved in print and on film. Though it could never compensate for the tremendous loss of this beautiful mind, there's a bittersweet solace in knowing that I have so much Hitchens still to experience. And through that sprawling legacy of writing and video clips, Christopher Hitchens will continue to give confidence to individuals to step outside the intellectual prisons they were born into.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: people who don't want you to think are never your friend. Whether you know it or not — and I know vast numbers of us do know it — folks like Christopher Hitchens are our very best friends.

Thank you, Christopher. (TheraminTrees December 23, 2011).


Friday, December 14, 2012

Thank Gods It's FreyaDay!

Freya is perplexed, but remains patient, as always.






























Good Morning, Humans.

There is no snow. Still.

My Human has been playing holiday music, but there is still no snow!

Today, she left before dawn. No cookies, no music, no snow!

I am going to wait right here until she returns.

Then, we will listen to holiday music together and pretend that there is snow!

Thank gods it's FreyaDay!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Thorsday Tonic - The War on Christmas!


Those damned atheists are threatening poor, persecuted Christians again!  (via The Carapace)































From my favorite cephalopoet, The Digital Cuttlefish:

The War on Christmas

From the Cape of Good Hope to the Newfoundland islands,
The sands of Iran to the Panama isthmus;
From Outback Australia to Inverness Highlands
It’s time to take arms in the War Against Christmas!

My weapons are mistletoe, Christmas trees, holly,
A yule-log, and caroling out in the snow;
Sleigh-rides and snowball-fights, eggnog and Jolly
Old Santa Claus, laughing his loud “Ho! Ho! Ho!”

We’ll make them forget all the Truth of the season—
The sacrifice planned by a god up above—
And have them believing some bastardized reason
Like giving, or kindness, or caring or love!

I’ll cruelly and callously help out a stranger
Who’s down on his luck or has suffered some loss,
I won’t even speak of the babe in the manger
Whom God sent to Earth to get nailed to a cross;

When the winds of December conspire to freeze us
I’ll help collect sweaters and coats for the poor,
Neglecting to make any mention of Jesus,
Whose torture is really what Christmas is for.

My hatred of Christmas will focus my labors
On weaving an atheist fabric of lies—
For instance, I’m giving to all of my neighbors
Gift baskets, cookies, and fruitcakes and pies!

I’ll say “Merry Christmas!” I’ll say “Season’s Greetings!”
I’ll say “Happy Holidays—Joyous Noel!”
Intending of course, that with each of these meetings
The Truth About Christmas can just go to hell.

The truth is that Christmas is not about presents
It’s no time for songs, It’s not time to be nice
It’s not time for feasting on turkeys or pheasants—
It’s sin, and redemption by blood sacrifice.

No time to be jolly; no time to be merry
It’s time to be solemn, and grim, and devout!
The heathens might find it depressing or scary
But that is what Christmas is truly about.

Yes, Jesus is really the ultimate reason
And Christmas is really redemption and sin;
The war against Christmas is early this season—
For God’s sake, let’s hope that the atheists win!

'Tis always the season for heart-warming CuttleVerses!  Happy Holidays!




Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Yes, It Is Rape.

Today's post is a Nifty PSA that I hope my readers will pass on far and wide. Let's make it go viral on Facebook. There is no banner photo on this post because the subject is too serious and I do not want the TRIGGER WARNING* that this post discusses rape culture to be missed.

We live in a culture - the culture of virtually all of humankind, not any particular national culture - which refuses to hold men accountable for acts of sexual aggression against women. The sociological term for this is Rape Culture.

Glamorizing rape.
  Rape Culture is an environment in which rape is prevalent and in which sexual violence against women is normalized and excused in the media and popular culture.  Rape culture is perpetuated through the use of misogynistic language, the objectification of women’s bodies, and the glamorization of sexual violence, thereby creating a society that disregards women’s rights and safety.
  Rape Culture affects every woman.  The rape of one woman is a degradation, terror, and limitation to all women. Most women and girls limit their behavior because of the existence of rape. Most women and girls live in fear of rape. Men, in general, do not. That’s how rape functions as a powerful means by which the whole female population is held in a subordinate position to the whole male population, even though many men don’t rape, and many women are never victims of rape.  This cycle of fear is the legacy of Rape Culture. (Rape Culture, Marshall University Women's Center.)

 From very early ages, men and women are conditioned to accept different roles. Women
are raised to be passive and men are raised to be aggressive. We are conditioned to accept certain
attitudes, values and behaviors. Our conditioning is continuously and relentlessly encouraged and
reinforced by the popular media, cultural attitudes and the educational system. The media is a
major contributor  to  gender-based  attitudes  and  values.  The  media  provides  women  with  acomplete list of behaviors that precipitate rape. Social training about what is proper and ladylike,
as well as what is powerful and macho, teaches women to be victims and men to be aggressors.
 The high incidence of rape in this country is a result of the power imbalance between men
and women. Women are expected to assume a subordinate relationship to men. Consequently,
rape can be seen as a logical extension of the typical interactions between women and men. One
way to analyze the power relationship between men and women is by examining some of the
common social rules women are taught. (Defining a Rape Culture, UC Davis web publication.)


Glamorizing violence
Whittling down the definition of rape to such a thin sliver of possible scenarios that it might eventually simply disappear as a "crime" entirely, has become the vogue these days. The impetus behind that social and legislative push is that many men (and many women, too, since we all are immersed in Rape Culture) believe that, in most cases, forced sex is justifiable. Most people agree that it may not exactly be polite, or the smoothest, nicest way to behave, but coerced sex is usually not really rape: it's just a guy doing what comes naturally when he finds a woman attractive. If men don't pursue, the human race will go extinct! She probably asked for it. If she didn't say "No', then she probably meant "Yes", and if she wasn't clear, how is a guy supposed to know anyway? If something happened that she didn't really want, then she ought to have thought of that before going on that date/accepting that drink/asking him in for coffee/smiling and flirting/pick any scenario because they all lead to forced sex somewhere every day.

With very rare exceptions,  not quite consensual sex is seen as the inevitable result of mistakes made by women (leading men on, dressing like sluts, asking for it, etc) and therefore most people are uncomfortable labeling such incidents "rapes". After all, it somehow strikes people as unfair to call a man who uses a woman's body against her will a rapist, when he is otherwise a nice guy and anyway it was a natural reaction by any red-blooded male to female provocation. For many people there is really only one definition of rape: the violent 'bushy-haired stranger' (this imaginary monster is always a 'bushy-haired stranger', ever notice?) who sexually assaults a virgin, leaving visible injuries. 

Violent stranger rape is comparatively rare. If Republican hopes to narrow the definition of rape to so-called "forcible rape" are realized in every state, rare violent stranger rape could become the only kind that will be recognized as criminal, while women actually live in fear of the myriad forms of "not-really" rape that can happen to them at any time, while society looks the other way. Since in Republican dreams the coercive power of the threat of force is not equivalent to the use of physical force, cannot be measured and is probably all in the woman's hysterical, over-reacting imagination anyway, nearly all of the most prevalent rape scenarios would no longer be considered crimes. Women will be victimized by the sexual aggression of men without even the inadequate protection of seldom-prosecuted laws to give them the courage to step out into the world knowing that they have the legal right to not be sexually harrassed - even though that right is assaulted every single day in a thousand little ways. This systemic intimidation which limits women's ability to pursue their lives and happiness as freely as men is sanctioned and encouraged by Rape Culture. 


22 Ways to Stop Violence Against Women
Below is an ad airing in the UK which addresses Rape Culture in a gut-wrenching, all-too-common scenario: a party, probably with drinking, the initial trust of the young woman, the expectations of the young man, and the eventual rape. Rape culture ensures that many young men really do not believe that forcing sex on a person who is saying 'No' is rape, especially if she was initially flirting or drinking at a party or has had sex with him before. This ad underlines the truth that rape occurs whenever one person coerces another into sexual activity against the second person's wishes

*TRIGGER WARNING!  Please be aware that this ad portrays a commonly-experienced scenario where a rape occurs, and though very well-done, it may be painfully triggering to many viewers.

via Love, Joy, Feminism


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Tuesday Tonic - The War On Christmas




Mrs. Betty Bowers, America's best Christian, reports on the war on Christmas from her embedded position in the enemy's maw - er, the shopping mall.

Quote for the win:

"We stole December 25 fair and square and we're not giving it back!"

Friday, December 7, 2012

Thank Gods It's FreyaDay!














   Two

   Cats




















Good Morning, Humans.

I am miffed because we are still without snow.

I have decided to amuse myself by putting my two companions to work today.

Artemis and Apollo will entertain you.

What's that? They are asleep? Well, that makes a pleasant change around here!

Look at them.  Just look at them! (sigh)
Shh! Don't wake them up. Finally, I can survey my domain in peace and tranquility.

Although, they are rather endearing...
in an annoying, kittenish way.

I had decided to amuse myself by putting the A-team to work today, but they are asleep.

(sigh) Do I have to do everything?

Here is a poem. Enjoy.

Thank gods it's FreyaDay!



Two Cats

It's better to be a cat than to be a human.
Not because of their much-noted grace and beauty—
their beauty wins them no added pleasure, grace is
only a cat's way

of getting without fuss from one place to another—
but because they see things as they are. Cats never mistake a
saucer of milk for a declaration of passion
or the crook of your knees for

a permanent address. Observing two cats on a sunporch,
you might think of them as a pair of Florentine bravoes
awaiting through slitted eyes the least lapse of attention—
then slash! the stiletto

or alternately as a long-married couple, who hardly
notice each other but find it somehow a comfort
sharing the couch, the evening news, the cocoa.
Both these ideas

are wrong. Two cats together are like two strangers
cast up by different storms on the same desert island
who manage to guard, despite the utter absence
of privacy, chocolate,

useful domestic articles, reading material,
their separate solitudes. They would not dream of
telling each other their dreams, or the plots of old movies,
or inventing a bookful

of coconut recipes. Where we would long ago have
frantically shredded our underwear into signal
flags and be dancing obscenely about on the shore in
a desperate frenzy,

they merely shift on their haunches, calm as two stoics
weighing the probable odds of the soul's immortality,
as if to say, if a ship should happen along we'll
be rescued. If not, not. 

by Katha Pollitt

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Because...Hillary























Several news sources are reporting that an opinion poll shows that Hillary Clinton enjoys the highest approval ratings of her long career and that 57% of people polled said that if the 2016 election were held tomorrow, they would support her for President!

Now that is the kind of thing that brightens this long-time supporter's day!

I am more focused on supporting President Obama's efforts right now (which is why I have turned away with steely resolve and haven't clicked on any of those Hillary Clinton 2016 posts on Facebook), but in the back of my mind a little voice is whispering, "Run, Hillary run!".

Run, Hillary, Run: Majority want a Clinton candidacy, Jon Cohen, Washington Post Politics blog, December 5, 2012.

Hillary Clinton is the peoples' choice for 2016: poll, Kristen A. Lee, New York Daily News, December 5, 2012.

Filed under "Who Gives a damn?" but what the hell, I'll include it anyway: Hillary Clinton in 2016: Celebrities who support Clinton, HuffPost Celebrity, December 5, 2012.

And yes, a thousand times yes, let's talk about this question: After Hillary Clinton, who will fight for women? Ritu Sharma, Politico Opinion contributor, December 4, 2012.



Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Isn't That Just Ducky!




Hello.

I am at the vet's office for my shots.

I don't think I like getting shots.

I like Doctor Katie, though. She is gentle and kind.

Can I just visit Doctor Katie and not have shots?

We can play! That sounds like a great idea!

I am at Doctor Katie's office and we are going to play!

Isn't that just Ducky!


Friday, November 30, 2012

Pat Robertson Does It Again!!

Visitors at the Creation Museum paid good money to view an utterly false "vegetarian" dinosaur display.































Stop the presses! For the second time this year, Pat Robertson has actually expressed a rational thought! First, it was "legalize marijuana" and now...LOOK!...Pat has declared that Young Earth Creationism is false!

Everything you need to
deprive your child of a
science education!
Yes, you read that correctly, Pat Robertson went on television and admitted to his viewers that millions of fundamentalist Christians have been lied to by the perpetrators of the YEC dogma, among them the "Answers" in Genesis fabulist and founder of the Creation "Museum", Ken Ham. Answers in Genesis was created to provide apologia for young earth creationism, and in the USA Ken Ham was their man. Thousands of homeschooling networks have used Answers in Genesis curriculum materials to deprive their students of any coherent understanding of the reality of the age of the earth, the evolution of life or any other reality-based scientific knowledge.

The Creation "Museum" is part of the even broader outreach of that movement's determination to indoctrinate youngsters with lies and mythology. Ham lobbied for (and received!) publicly-funded financial incentives to construct a glorified indoor theme park which tells the "story" of life on earth according to Biblical mythology. By gaining access to some public funding and calling the religious edifice a "museum", Ham and his disciples were able to misrepresent their religious agenda as a mainstream "educational" institution just like bona fide museums and libraries. The targeted groups can venture outside their religious "schooling" bubbles and find their carefully-inculcated worldview confirmed in a "public place". It is all part of the drive to paint a veneer of legitimacy over the fabrications, mythology and straight-up lies that the Young Earth Creationists present to their students in place of real science and reality-based history. (The other part of that strategy is to inject YEC into public schools by claiming that it ought to be taught alongside real science and history, thus giving it a false equivalency to reality-based instruction).
Now, now, settle down, Viewers!
I'm still the same old batty Patty!

Yet, even in the echo chamber that is the fundamentalist religious schooling movement, young people still claw their way out of the suffocating fear of eternal damnation to question the validity of a belief system which denies the reality right before their very eyes every day. In response to a viewer who was worried about her family's ticket to heaven in the afterlife because they found the Biblical "explanation" (or lack of it) for the existence of dinosaurs unconvincing, Robertson had this to say:

Look, I know that people will probably try to lynch me when I say this, but Bishop [James] Ussher wasn't inspired by the Lord when he said that it all took 6,000 years. It just didn't. You go back in time, you've got radiocarbon dating. You got all these things and you've got the carcasses of dinosaurs frozen in time out in the Dakotas.

They're out there. So, there was a time when these giant reptiles were on the Earth and it was before the time of the Bible. So, don't try and cover it up and make like everything was 6,000 years. That's not the Bible. 

If you fight science, you're going to lose your children, and I believe in telling it the way it was.

Of course, Pat Robertson did not always believe in telling it the way it was (or, for that matter, telling the truth at all). But, things are different, now. It seems that the wily ol' fox has twigged to the fact that young people sometimes resist being indoctrinated with lies. That 'god-created 6000 year-old earth, end times are a'nearing' alternate universe that fundamentalist Christians have been forcing on their young is not just a terrible, manipulative lie, but it is a terrible manipulative lie that they can't sustain because the facts just won't go away.

Even a broken clock is right twice a day,
so a wingnut with bats in the belfry
 can be right twice in a year!
Naturally, Pat tries to spin it as a positive for fundamentalist Bible-based faith ("That's not the Bible"! Any flaws in Christian Reconstructionism have been human errors, not flaws in the actual theology!), but the jig is up. Religious extremists simply cannot cover up the overwhelming evidence that their doctrines are false. The younger generations are on to them. While it is unlikely that we will soon hear confessions that extremist religious teachings were misleading at best and harmful at worst, and their favored position in society and influence in government policy has been detrimental to the country, the public confirmation by a former proponent that young earth creationism is dead wrong is at least a step in the right direction. For over a decade, creationist nonsense has been used to eviscerate school science curricula thus undermining our scientific and technological progress. It may take another decade to undo the damage, if indeed we still have that much time before the rest of the world sprints ahead of us in the global race for scientific and technological innovation.

Isn't it marvelous how quickly base self-interest will induce even hardliner right-wing extremists to soften their irrational stances when it just isn't winning them elections anymore? Rabidly fundamentalist preachers doing a U-turn on the anti-science highway, GOP representatives decrying the anti-immigration hard line, and wingnut radio hosts giving themselves whiplash spinning their positions on immigration policy, reproductive rights and economic inequality: Change is in the air! Republicans are doing a hasty, awkward two-step which they are trying to sell as a modern dance with intentionally surprising twists and turns. Their extreme positions were an illusion! In fact, they are for what they only seemed to be against. Or at least, some of them hope to conceal their true agenda better in the future. Meanwhile, others believe that their approach was not extremely conservative enough.
Equality for women next, Pat?
Oh, right.

But batty Patty knows that doubling down on a losing strategy simply won't pay doesn't make sense. He has admitted that young earth creationism is a lie, because he understands that - even with homeschooling, burying "sheltering" young minds, and determined miseducation of children (often using public funds) - not even the hugely powerful evangelical Christian machine can suppress reality-based knowledge and cover up the truth forever.

Next thing you know, old Pat will be arguing in favor of right-wing acceptance of evolution, global climate change and women's equality!

"The feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women. It is about a socialist, anti-family, political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians." Pat Robertson

Okay, maybe just the first two.

                                         -------------------------------------------------------------------

Update: Before I even had this blog post finished (yes, it's taken me two days - I have the flu, so sue me), Ken Ham has taken the time to blast Pat Robertson over his remarks. Quelle surprise!

Head-shaking and accusations of disloyalty to the authority of ???:
"Not only do we have to work hard to not let our kids be led astray by the anti-God teaching of the secularists, we have to work hard to not let them be led astray by compromising church leaders like Pat Robertson," Ham said Wednesday in a post on Facebook.
"Pat Robertson gives more fodder to the secularists. We don't need enemies from without the church when we have such destructive teaching within the church," Ham added in the statement shared with those following his non-profit Christian apologetics ministry on Facebook.
...And...like clockwork...the inevitable threats and fear-mongering:

"I still shake my head at the number of church leaders who want to appease the secularists and accept their anti-God religion of millions of years and even molecules to man evolution," Ham wrote. "Such leaders (including Pat Robertson) have a lot to answer to the Lord for one day. Such leaders are guilty of putting stumbling blocks in the way of kids and adults in regards to believing God's Word and the gospel."

Ken Ham of Creation Museum Slams Robertson for Dismissing Young Earth Theory, Stoyan Zaimov, The Christian Post, November 30, 2012.


Thank Gods It's FreyaDay!

video


TGIF!


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Full Frost Moon - And Jupiter, Too!

photo by TaviGreiner











The moving moon
went up the sky,
And nowhere 
did abide:
Softly she was
going up,
And a star 
or two beside -


(from The Rime of the
Ancient Mariner,
Samuel Taylor Coleridge)















The full moon tonight came with a special treat: just off the moon's left shoulder a bright "star", which is not a star at all, but the giant planet Jupiter. Jupiter is the largest planet and the fifth planet from the sun in our solar system. In the ancient Roman pantheon, Jupiter was the name of the putative "king" of the gods - his Greek equivalent was Zeus. Jupiter is the ruling planet of the astrological sign Sagittarius, bestowing upon those lucky individuals good fortune, nobility and lives of meaning and purpose. Jupiter is also associated with luck and happiness.

Perhaps Gustav Holtz was thinking about the good luck and positive influence attributed to Jupiter when he subtitled the movement dedicated to the giant planet, "Bringer of Jollity". Listen to the beautiful Jupiter movement of Holtz's orchestral suite, The Planets. You'll hear the parts which remind you of Jupiter's connection to the idea of higher purpose around the 3 minute mark. Turn up the volume and lose yourself in a 7 minute musical vacation which will be a tonic to body and soul.



Chicago Symphony Orchestra, conducted by James Levine.

Off to the right and slightly below the moon shines the red giant star, Aldebaran.

Apparently, tonight's full moon was the smallest one of 2012, because the moon is at its apogee - the farthest distance from earth in its orbit. Don't tell me or Carolyn Ann that it was small, however. Tonight's huge moonrise was as spectacular as many a Harvest or Hunter Moon. The huge buttermilk- coloured orb ascending in a deep azure sky that was pierced by the light of the moon's two brilliant celestial companions was truly captivating.

The November full moon is known as the "Beaver Moon" or the "Full Frost Moon" in Native American lore. There was also a lunar eclipse earlier today, but unless you were in Australia or at least in Alaska, you probably didn't have much of a view. Lucky for you, Nifty is here to save the day!

A little night-sky gazing for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy!





Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Buffet Rule Redux - Wait, Isn't That The Reagan Rule?


















Warren Buffet rocks. I'm just going to come right out and say that. In the spring, the New York Times' Dealbook editor, Andrew Ross Sorkin, reported that when a shareholder complained to Buffet that his 84 year-old father refused to invest in Berkshire because of Buffet's publicly stated position on taxes:

"Mr. Buffett replied with a zinger: “Sounds like your father should buy stock in Fox.”"

This week, Mr. Buffet's Op Ed piece in the New York Times expands on the topic of rational tax policy. In a few short paragraphs, he recaps the history of how the much higher tax rates of the past paved the way for economic expansion and a prosperous, growing middle class. As those tax rates were gradually reduced, financial inequality in American society began to grow again. With ever more drastic cuts to the tax rates on the wealthiest Americans since the Reagan administration, the gulf between rich and poor has rapidly widened, while manufacturing and other middle class jobs have dried up resulting in a steadily shrinking middle class.

Someone's sitting in the shade today 
because someone planted a tree a long time ago.  
Warren Buffett
Between 1951 and 1954, when the capital gains rate was 25 percent and marginal rates on dividends reached 91 percent in extreme cases, I sold securities and did pretty well. In the years from 1956 to 1969, the top marginal rate fell modestly, but was still a lofty 70 percent — and the tax rate on capital gains inched up to 27.5 percent. I was managing funds for investors then. Never did anyone mention taxes as a reason to forgo an investment opportunity that I offered.

Under those burdensome rates, moreover, both employment and the gross domestic product (a measure of the nation’s economic output) increased at a rapid clip. The middle class and the rich alike gained ground.


So let’s forget about the rich and ultrarich going on strike and stuffing their ample funds under their mattresses if — gasp — capital gains rates and ordinary income rates are increased. The ultrarich, including me, will forever pursue investment opportunities. 

Warren E. Buffet, A Minimum Tax for the Wealthy, New York Times, November 25, 2012.

Warren Buffet has earned popular respect for more than just his quick wit and feisty defense of his principles. Although he is one of the richest and most successful businessmen in the world, Buffet broke ranks with most of the super rich when he said that he did not think that rich people like himself should be paying less in taxes than the middle class. That pronouncement probably cost him a few friends (though probably not business followers) in the rarefied world of the super wealthy.      

Debbie Bosanek
The reality is that the current micro-fraction of superrich Americans have accumulated a rapidly growing portion of the wealth pie due to their ability to influence legislation to favor their own interests. Warren Buffet seems to have reached a point in his life where personal ambition and business pragmatism no longer justify turning a blind eye to or remaning silent about immoral wealth inequity and increasing plutocratic control of government and the economy.

The Oracle of Omaha went on the record saying that he is uncomfortable about the fact that his secretary - earning considerably less than $100,000 per year - pays a higher tax rate than the Berkshire Hathaway legend himself pays. That was the anecdote cited by President Obama when he put forward his suggestion for a more fair and balanced tax structure - featuring a minimum 30% tax rate on high incomes - aptly named the Buffet Rule.

On April 16, the Buffet Rule was killed by the Senate, thanks to determined Republican obstructionism.  Later that same week, the Republicans planned to vote on a bill handing out yet another 20% deduction on business income. That bill was passed by the Republican-controlled House on April 19. It has not yet been passed by the Senate. While braying about class warfare - by which they mean envy of the productive rich by the shiftless, lazy not-rich -  the Republicans managed once again to champion tax advantages for the wealthiest Americans, while heaping more of the tax burden onto the middle class and the poor.

via Charles H. Smith
How ironic it is that while the incredibly wealthy Warren Buffet speaks out in defense of the 99.9%, Republicans in Congress appear to live in an alternate universe where the extremely wealthy never use roads or shipping infrastructure to move their goods across the country and around the world. They appear to have missed completely the fact that workers - many who have endured wage freezes or at best wage increases which have barely kept up with the cost of living: inflated health care costs, rents and mortgages, college tuitions and gas prices - enable the production of goods and services which provide the enormous profits that line the pockets of the wealthiest Americans. (Yes, Paul Ryan, there are makers and takers: the workers - too few of them unionized - make the goods and services while the plutocrat elites take the profits).

Republicans appear to have been asleep while banks, mortgage companies and brokerage houses played fast and loose with the economy, enriching the tiniest sliver of the population while the other 95% or more fell farther and farther behind in the income gap. When the housing and stock market bubbles burst, most of this same extremely wealthy and privileged few escaped prosecution - and escaped serious financial damage - and were soon recouping their losses from the crash by buying up stocks in more companies at extremely discounted post-crash prices. Meanwhile, the middle class and the poor ate the cost of the crash - losing jobs, losing homes, losing livelihoods - and still kept paying taxes, on income, on goods and on services.

Yes, Paul Ryan, there are makers and takers: the workers - too few of them unionized - make the goods and services while the plutocrat elites take the profits.

It's also interesting that Warren Buffet isn't the first person to depart from the received "wisdom" of his overwhelmingly conservative peer group. Theodore Roosevelt, the father of the progressive Republican movement, had to break away from the Republican party as his goals for social justice became increasingly at odds with the plutocratic ambitions of party hardliners. Similarly, though he courted the support and votes of conservative hardliners, Ronald Reagan - the demi-god of the right wing - expressed views which today would see him kicked unceremoniously to the curb by the party "base". 




Via Upworthy

Last fall, Think Progress published a great article comparing the class warrior presidents - Reagan and Obama - with supporting video. As the White House and Congress continue negotiations to avoid the so-called "fiscal cliff" at the end of the year, it is interesting to consider that the current party of No has its roots in progressive social justice, ideals that were apparently shared by their idol, Ronald Reagan, even as his ambition led him to an unholy alliance with the right wing fringes of his party thus enshrining himself as the father of the current economic nightmare.

Once more, history offers compelling evidence of just how fanatical and extreme the conservative movement has become in this country. Jay Bookman, Atlantic Journal-Constitution, October 3, 2011.

Some days, the irony meter spins way up on bust.

via Mother Jones, It's the Inequality, Stupid
























Tuesday Tonic - Ode to Newfoundland




This post is in honour of my amazing daughter who was born on this day 
        in this beautiful place, during a shimmering white snowstorm. 
                                     Happy Birthday, J!!

Ode to Newfoundland

1. When sun rays crown thy pine clad hills,
And summer spreads her hand,
When silvern voices tune thy rills,
We love thee, smiling land.
We love thee, we love thee,
We love thee, smiling land.

2. When spreads thy cloak of shimmering white,
At winter's stern command,
Thro' shortened day, and starlit night,
We love thee, frozen land.
We love thee, we love thee
We love thee, frozen land.

3. When blinding storm gusts fret thy shore,
And wild waves lash thy strand,
Thro' spindrift swirl, and tempest roar,
We love thee windswept land.
We love thee, we love thee
We love thee windswept land.

4. As loved our fathers, so we love,
Where once they stood, we stand;
Their prayer we raise to Heaven above,
God guard thee, Newfoundland
God guard thee, God guard thee,
God guard thee, Newfoundland.

--Sir Cavendish Boyle


Monday, November 26, 2012

Isn't That Just Ducky!





























Hello there, People!

We are putting up decorations! We put up lights and everything!

I am a helper! I run and I bark and I help everyone smile!

I help keep Frosty company as he waves to everybody...

...but Frosty! Why are you lying down?

We put up lights and decorations and everything and Frosty was bobbing and waving, too.

Frosty must be tired. I will still keep him company, though.

I am a good helper!

Isn't that just Ducky!


Friday, November 16, 2012

Thank Gods It's FreyaDay!






























Good Morning, Humans.

It is a lovely, bright fall morning and my Human is sleeping.

Last night, she fell asleep exhausted after so much reading and writing!

She said it was her last assignment for her degree, and then she laid down her pen and slept.

Whatever a degree is, I am glad it is over. At last, my Human can rest. And snuggle with me.

But wait! She is awake and she is writing again! I must stop her from taking up books again!

I must protect my Human! I must make her snuggle with me!

It is a new bright fall morning and my Human is writing again.

Thank gods it's FreyaDay!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Tuesday Tonic - Macushla



In loving memory of a fine man who would have been 83 today.
                               Happy Birthday, John.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Lest We Forget - Remembrance Day November 11





























In Flanders Fields 

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow 
Between the crosses row on row, 
That mark our place; and in the sky 
The larks, still bravely singing, fly 
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago 
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow, 
Loved and were loved, and now we lie 
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe: 
To you from failing hands we throw 
The torch; be yours to hold it high. 
If ye break faith with us who die 
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow 
In Flanders fields.

By: Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)
Canadian Army





John McCrae was a poet and physician from Guelph, Ontario. He developed an interest in poetry at a young age and wrote throughout his life. His earliest works were published in the mid 1890s in Canadian magazines and newspapers. McCrae's poetry often focused on death and the peace that followed.
At the age of 41, McCrae enrolled with the Canadian Expeditionary Force following the outbreak of the First World War. He had the option of joining the medical corps due to his training and age, but volunteered instead to join a fighting unit as a gunner and medical officer. It was his second tour of duty in the Canadian military. He previously fought with a volunteer force in the Second Boer War. He considered himself a soldier first; his father was a military leader in Guelph and McCrae grew up believing in the duty of fighting for his country and empire.
McCrae fought in the second battle of Ypres in the Flanders region of Belgium where the German army launched one of the first chemical attacks in the history of war. They attacked the Canadian position with chlorine gas on April 22, 1915, but were unable to break through the Canadian line which held for over two weeks. In a letter written to his mother, McCrae described the battle as a "nightmare": "For seventeen days and seventeen nights none of us have had our clothes off, nor our boots even, except occasionally. In all that time while I was awake, gunfire and rifle fire never ceased for sixty seconds ..... And behind it all was the constant background of the sights of the dead, the wounded, the maimed, and a terrible anxiety lest the line should give way." Alexis Helmer, a close friend, was killed during the battle on May 2. McCrae performed the burial service himself, at which time he noted how poppies quickly grew around the graves of those who died at Ypres. The next day, he composed the poem while sitting in the back of an ambulance...
McCrae was moved to the medical corps and stationed in Boulogne, France, in June 1915 where he was named lieutenant-colonel in charge of medicine at the Number 3 Canadian General Hospital. He was promoted to the acting rank of Colonel on January 13, 1918, and named Consulting Physician to the British Armies in France. The years of war had worn McCrae down, however. He contracted pneumonia that same day, and later came down with cerebral meningitis. On January 28, he died at the military hospital in Wimereux and was buried there with full military honours. (wikipedia)




Friday, November 9, 2012

Leadership: A Study In Contrasts

If you want to know what a man’s like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals. Sirius Black

They say you can judge the true character of a leader by how he behaves toward those who have served under him when times are tough. Most of us agree that a man who stands tall and generously thanks those who stood by him in defeat is a man with integrity. John McCain is one such man.  But even more revealing, sometimes, is how a man behaves when he has achieved a cherished goal with the help of many others. When the temptation to see himself as a conquering hero must be very great, a man who shares the credit for victory - indeed who gives the credit almost entirely to his supporters - is rightly regarded as a man of sterling character. A truly great leader has no need to stand on the backs of other people and declare himself a self-made man. A great leader - a great president - has the quiet confidence and steady character that allows the generousness of spirit to show appreciation for the aid that all great leaders receive from other people along his way. By his example this week, President Barack Obama showed us what true integrity and great leadership really means.

John McCain to campaign staff: "A lost
election will never mean more to me than
 the privilege of your faith and friendship."
After the lights go down and the confetti is swept up in the wee hours of the morning after an election night, political candidates may take a few moments to gather themselves and consider the future. As they prepare to move into the next phase of their lives, most recognize that they have one last campaign-related duty which leadership, integrity and common courtesy demand: to thank their campaign workers for their months of hard work. Win or lose, most acknowledge that their many accomplishments over the preceding months were not theirs alone. They know that their candidacy would have been impossible without the sustained effort, through months of hard slogging on the campaign trail, of a multitude of people whose commitment to the candidate and the ideals which they believe he represented was unwavering. Weary candidates longing to rest have long understood that before retiring from the campaign, their final duty is to thank their campaign staffers with the respect and gratitude that those men and women have surely earned. Most go on to urge their supporters to continue to fight for their shared ideal of a stronger America by finding renewed energy to work with their former adversaries on solutions for the good of the country.

Well, hang on a minute. It is true that that is what most candidates would do after a grueling campaign. It is, after all, what most decent men and women do when they owe an enormous debt of gratitude to people without whom they could never have come close to their own ambitious goals. John McCain understood that very well and, being an honorable man, he rose to the occasion even in the face of a devastating defeat.  His humble and heartfelt remarks to his gathered supporters after the 2008 election were intended to uplift and encourage them, to express his gratitude and to affirm their shared love of this country. In spite of his own crushing disappointment, Senator McCain knew his duty to his supporters - knew that in their hour of disappointment, it was his duty as a leader to show them the way forward - and he performed it willingly with grace and honor.

But in 2012, the Republican who postured as a "values" candidate exhibited no such grace or honor.

When the time came to thank the legions of tireless campaign workers who, for the better part of a year (if not longer), had lived and breathed loyalty and devotion to their candidate and his cause, Mitt Romney failed them miserably. He had a chance to step down off the stump, look his exhausted staffers in the eye and thank them for a herculean effort in the face of tremendous challenges, but the opportunity was utterly lost on the "caring" candidate. Romney's supporters gave their hearts and minds and boots on the ground - they sacrificed, their families sacrificed; their personal lives and careers were willingly put on hold for his cause -  and win or lose, this was the moment for their candidate to offer them sincere gratitude and much deserved congratulations for a job well done.

Romney to campaign staff: Thanks for nothing, Suckers!
"My job is not to worry about those people."

Let them find their own way home.
Instead, Mitt Romney hurried through a brief, painfully perfunctory concession speech and then he walked right out of that ballroom and out of their lives. Before daybreak on November 7, he had also made sure that his staffers' campaign credit cards had been cancelled - before many of them had even finished the night's work and dragged their tired bodies into a taxi to go back to their hotels. One can only hope the campaign workers were not also stiffed with their hotel bills, although they almost certainly were left with any remaining expenses incurred while they made their weary way home after nearly a year serving on the campaign of the most stunningly callous political ingrate in recent memory.

The contrast between Governor Romney's abrupt concession speech and his predecessor Senator McCain's gracious and patriotic remarks points belatedly to the answer to an important question: How will the candidate react under duress? Will he respond with measured grace and wisdom, or will his reaction show that he is unprepared for leadership? But it was Romney's unseemly, hasty severing of connections with his campaign workers - he literally left them in the lurch in the middle of the night! - compared to McCain's genuine appreciation of his supporters which will forever remind Americans of the stark difference in character between the last two Republican presidential candidates.

Even more pronounced is the contrast between Mitt Romney's reaction to defeat and Barack Obama's reaction to victory. Apparently under the mistaken impression that the usual rules of candidacy for the most powerful office on the planet do not apply to him, Romney refused to answer questions about his secret financial dealings or to discuss his plans for America. His barely concealed sense of entitlement to the presidency meant he was ill-prepared for the outcome of the election. When the American people declined to elect him as the 45th president, Governor Romney was visibly stunned. His subsequent response exhibited all of the suppressed rage and frustrated ambition that such hubris often entails.

In telling contrast, the incumbent Obama - taking nothing for granted - laid out his plans for the future and then asked the American people for their support. When they gave it to him on November 6th, he accepted their decision not simply as a vindication of himself, personally, but as a confirmation of the spirit of community and fairplay in America. His remarks late that night made clear that he saw the election result, not as a personal triumph, but as a victory for the country itself and for the ideals upon which it is founded. As for the test of principled leadership, President Obama's heartfelt appreciation of his supporters could not have been more revealing:

Obama to campaign staff: Thank you. You are the
"source of my hope...my strength and my inspiration."
"So I come here and I look at all of you, what comes to mind is it's not that you guys actually remind me of myself, it's the fact that you are so much better than I was in so many ways," he told the volunteers.

"Whatever good we do over the next four years will pale in comparison to what you guys end up accomplishing for years and years to come and that's been my source of hope. That's why in the last four years when people ask me how do you put up with this and that, the frustrations of Washington, I just think about you, what you guys are going to do.

"That's the source of my hope, that's the source of my strength and my inspiration." President Barack Obama in a moving speech to his campaign workers, November 7, 2012.

President Obama calls Chicago home, and although that city has been unceasingly reviled by the right wing as a den of iniquity, the truth is that the 'city of broad shoulders' can lay claim to a great leader whose actions live up to the words of one of its spiritual leaders:

It is the way one treats his inferiors more than the way he treats his equals which reveals one’s real character. —Rev. Charles Bayard Miliken, Methodist Episcopal, Chicago. 1910

These final scenes of the 2012 presidential campaign highlighted the main theme underlying the ideological battle being fought on America political stage today: the question of whether success is a personal or a societal achievement. Are we all in this society together? Or are we rugged individualists whose successes and failures occur entirely separately from the privileges or disadvantages we are born into within a hugely diverse society? Are the wealthiest Americans rich because they deserve to be rich or could it be that there is an element of luck in success? Some people are luckily born into privilege, luckily born with high intelligence or exceptional abilities, luckily not struck down by illness or injury while others are unluckily born into poverty, unluckily cognitively challenged or unluckily physically disabled.  Do we acknowledge that some of us begin the race for success on the starting line while a few begin life already halfway to the finish line and a few others never even make out of the locker room or do we insist that everyone starts on the same starting line and the ones who do not reach the finish line before all the prizes have been scooped up were simply not trying hard enough?

Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan made it clear that they believe that there are makers and there are takers in this world of ours; winners and moochers. Romney claimed that his tremendous wealth was the result of his own hard work alone, and not because he was born into wealth and privilege, was able to buy his way out of military service and had the backing of the most powerful and wealthy church in America. Another man born into poverty, unable to avoid being drafted to Viet Nam, a wounded veteran physically unable to avail himself of the GI bill which would have been his only possible way to afford a higher education and subsequently dependent upon public assistance for survival would be, in Romney and Ryan's worldview, a taker: a moocher who deserves to live in poverty. The failures of other people are their own fault, while their modest successes are the result of taking from their betters. Yet, the successes of a Romney or a Ryan - by their lights - are the result of their own efforts independent of the advantages they enjoyed, while their failures are the fault of the mistakes of lesser people. Those lesser people felt the sting of Mitt Romney's cold-hearted rejection on Wednesday morning.

The President, on the other hand, has a different view of the world, and in particular of this exceptionally promising country we call our United States of America, which he laid out clearly once more this week. In his Acceptance Speech early Wednesday morning, Barack Obama reminded the American people what it is that he believes makes this country great:

This country has more wealth than any nation, but that's not what makes us rich. We have the most powerful military in history, but that's not what makes us strong. Our universities, our culture are all the envy of the world, but that's not what keeps the world coming to our shores.
What makes America exceptional are the bonds that hold together the most diverse nation on earth. The belief that our destiny is shared; that this country only works when we accept certain obligations to one another and to future generations. The freedom which so many Americans have fought for and died for comes with responsibilities as well as rights. And among those are love and charity and duty and patriotism. That's what makes America great...

The American people made a choice on November 6.
Watch the speech again to understand just why they chose Barack Obama.