The Watering Hole; Friday May 22 2015; Cool Critters v. Clown Car Creepoids

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In these days where political insanity seems to rule the world in which we’re stuck, it’s most enjoyable to head out and commune with critters that have never heard the word ‘Wingnut,’ and most certainly would head for the tall weeds if ever they should happen to encounter one — a concept with which I happen to be totally sympathetic.

Ergo, whenever the opportunity shows itself, I grab at the chance to turn my back on the ‘madding crowd’ and head for a more peaceful surround — assuming the weather cooperates, a rare happenstance so far this year (I could make some sort of snide comment concerning the science of climate change, but won’t because I don’t want to come across as really arrogant).

So here are a couple of critters that share the lake with the local flock of Canadian Geese. First up is what I’m guessing to be a Western Painted Turtle. He likes to hang out on an old bleached beaver-felled log that lies in the shallows very near the shore. He’s a fairly good sized fella, shell about 12″ in diameter, plus or minus one or two. He’s also a very peaceful dude; was sprawled on the same log on both days last week that we spotted him. We watched him for close to a half-hour each day, and he was the most statuesque critter I’ve ever seen — never moved a single muscle.

Beckwith turtle 1197Beckwith turtle 1227In the turtle’s general neighbood we spotted this other fellow as well. S/he is one half of a mating pair of Great Blue Herons which appear to have set up houskeeping at the lake this year. At least they’ve been hanging around for several weeks — time will tell if they choose to settle in. They are, however, very elusive, very secretive, and quite skilled at avoiding people. I got lucky with this one — spotted it standing near the shore a hundred yards or so distant. Fortunately, the camera’s 60X zoom was ready and willing to do its job!

Great Blue Heron 1192In the immortal words of Robert Burns,

“Still thou art blest, compar’d wi’ me
The present only toucheth thee:
But, Och! I backward cast my e’e.
On prospects drear!
An’ forward, tho’ I canna see,
I guess an’ fear!”

That’s a very fair summation of what rolls about in the back of my mind every time I leave “we the people” behind and venture out for a mingle with the Higher Animals. The main downside to the whole process is the inevitable return to “civilization” and all of the noise that keeps it operational. Such as current political news, even little tidbits thereof. I think it was just yesterday morning, for example, when I heard that Rick Perry is going to announce on June 3rd or thereabouts that he’s decided to become the first Presidential candidate in US history to enter the race while under criminal indictment. WOW! He’s also just recently made it clear that nobody will worry about jade helm-type conspiracy theories when HE is president. Double WOW! For some odd reason, those two headlines, along with recollections of his brief candidacy in 2012 B.G. (Before Glasses),  reminded me of an old joke which, if based on genuine fact, would explain a lot of that WOW stuff:

A few decades back, a Texas family – mom, dad, and son – moved to another state. Come fall, mom and dad enrolled their son in first grade in the local school and told him that from the first day onward they wanted to hear all about what school was like, how things were going, etc. Dad said, “Son, always remember one thing: we’re from TEXAS and proud of it! And being from Texas means we got a heads up on everybody else, cause that’s what happens when you’re born in TEXAS!”

Son nodded and smiled. “Yes, daddy, I know. We’re from TEXAS!”

Over supper the night after the boy’s first day in school, dad asked, “So, son, how was school today? What’s it like?”

“It was ok, daddy. We all got told by the teacher where we should sit and I’m in the front row! Then she asked if anybody knew the alphabet and I raised my hand and she called on me, had me go to the blackboard and write it out, and I did! And I got all the letters wrote just right and teacher said I was the only one in first grade that ever knew all the alphabet on the first day! Is that cause we’re from Texas, daddy?”

“Yep, son, that’s cause we’re from TEXAS!”

The next night at supper, daddy asked again how school went. The boy smiled big and said, “It went great, daddy. Today the teacher asked if anybody could count all the way to twenty, and I raised my hand and she had me stand up and do it, and I done it! She was really happy, cause most kids can’t even count to ten and get it right. Is that cause we’re from Texas, daddy?”

“Yep, that’s cause we’re from TEXAS, son.”

On the third night, daddy again asked the boy how school went.

“Well daddy, today we went to the gym and they gave us shorts and a shirt to wear when we learnt how to do exercisins on the gym floor.”

“How’d you do, son?” Daddy asked.

“Oh, I done good. But afterwards we all had to take a shower get cleaned up afore we went back to class, and in the shower I noticed that all them boys had little bitty weenies compared to me.” The son paused, then asked, “Why is that, daddy? Is that cause I’m from Texas?”

Daddy thought a minute, then finally said, “No, son. It’s because you’re seventeen.”

The following year the Perry family moved back to the cotton farm in TEXAS.

Yep, that would pretty much define the Rick Perry with which I’m familiar. And I should add that while I’m definitely NOT a Democrat who has ‘sold my soul’ for immigrant votes (in spite of what one of the potential Clown Car Creepoids proclaims), it remains a FACT that I’d happily vote for either a turtle of a Great Blue Heron — immigrant or native, no worries —before I’d vote for ANYONE in said Clown Car!

Ok, that’s enough for now. The OPEN THREAD  is now . . . ummm . . . open.

The Watering Hole; Thursday May 21 2015; “Difficult standards for people to live up to.”

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“Animals are reliable, many full of love, true in their affections,
predictable in their actions, grateful and loyal.
Difficult standards for people to live up to.”

Alfred A. Montapert

About two weeks ago, I posted here a series of ten photos, taken on May 2 and 3, of a Canadian Goose “family” which included three newly hatched goslings, probably out on one of their very first forays into their new world.

3 sibling goslins 1126-cr

Then a week ago and for no apparent reason, those three little guys were nowhere to be seen. I noted here our fears that the “odds against them being somewhere — even in the nest — unsupervised are quite high. Dare we hope? In any case, time will tell if they’re still around or gone for good. We do intend to keep a close eye on the situation and will report back if anything happens to pop up.”

Later that same day, fellow bird-watcher Woody-the-Goose-Guy stopped by late in the afternoon to say he’d spotted the little ones in another corner of the lake. So last weekend when the weather finally cleared up long enough for us to go take a look, we got lucky. There they were!

Here’s the “family” as of May 16, pretty close to exactly two weeks since the goslings first left the nest (note that the newbies have grown a bit in those two weeks — apparently there’s adequate chow available!).

Goose and goslings 1231Goose family 1235Goslings 1237crGeese & gosling 1233Goose family 1245So all is well, at least with what appears to be the ONLY local Canadian Goose family that has managed to reproduce this year, and that’s out of an overall population where potential mating pairs likely number in the hundreds. Also curious, there are only three goslings; usually in years past the number is typically more like six, maybe seven goslings per family. So what’s up with that?

I asked Woody-the-Goose-Guy the same question, and he explained that “they” (Homo sapiens sapiens) who monitor and control the local goose population are sending their people out during spring nesting season with instruction to locate eggs and coat them with vegetable oil. That prevents the embryos from developing (by disallowing the eggs to “breathe”), and when most eggs don’t hatch there are obviously going to be far fewer goslings and, as a result, far less goose crap on the lake’s paved walkway come late summer/early fall — which means far less complaining by people who are offended by goose crap. Problem solved. More or less. Humans are SO clever, aren’t we?

One thing I have to wonder when I ponder these human-inspired “lower” animal birth control agendas is highlighted by this pair of recent ‘headline’ links:

Trent Franks: 20-Week Abortion Ban Will Make Americans Realize Legal Abortion Is Like Slavery

Anti-Choice Leader Admits Rape Exceptions Are ‘Political,’ Goal Is To Outlaw All Abortion ‘From Conception’

So “fundamentally” it’s OK to control birth rates in (and numbers of) every other species of life on the planet, but it’s NOT permissible to allow the same or similar privilege to fellow humans? Why the difference? Just curious.

Stephen Jay Gould once wrote,

“The fundamentalists, by ‘knowing’ the answers before they start examining evolution, and then forcing nature into the straitjacket of their discredited preconceptions, lie outside the domain of science —
or of any honest intellectual inquiry.”

I think I agree.

OPEN THREAD

The Watering Hole, Monday, May 18, 2015: Bryan Fischer Threatens Violence

There are some male opponents of same-sex marriage who desperately need for it to remain illegal lest they leave their wives and follow their hearts to find the man of their dreams and settle down to a life of happiness. I’m beginning to wonder if Bryan Fischer is one of them. The very idea that the Supreme Court might actually strike down all bans on marriage equality and declare it a constitutional right (thanks, in part, to Justice Antonin Scalia’s own opinions, in which he suggested the strategy to use for marriage equality proponents to win) has Fischer scared. Very scared. But what does he have to fear if his own marriage is solid and loving? In what way would the right of people (who have no interest in him) to marry each other affect him? Is he afraid that the last thing to stop him from leaving his wife to shack up with another man is a law making that relationship with that man illegal? What else makes sense? Unless he means the violence.

Fischer is pretending that what he fears is the civil unrest that a ruling in support of marriage equality would make inevitable.

“The Supreme Court can be slapped down through a deliberative and representative process,” he said, “rather than through chaos and civil unrest which I and a lot of other pro-family leaders fear is the alternative. If the Supreme Court continues to overreach and they aren’t checked, we are headed towards civil unrest, I don’t think there is any other way around it. If it’s not stopped and reversed, the tyrannical overreach of the Supreme Court, we are to have social dislocation and I believe we are going to have violence as a result. And that is simply because freedom is too deeply ingrained in the DNA of the American people to permit tyranny to continue unchecked forever. The solution: state legislatures rediscovering their constitutional authority under the Ninth and 10th Amendments. “

Tell us something, Bryan. Who would be committing these acts of chaos, these acts of civil unrest, these acts of violence? Would it be the people who support marriage equality? Or would it be the people like you and the other “pro-family leaders” who will be taking to the streets to spread chaos, be civilly unrestful, and commit acts of violence? I think we who support marriage equality are the ones who have something to fear from the people who oppose it, not the other way around. When we start hearing we might lose, we start taking action to elect Democratic Senators and Presidents who will make sure these socially deficient rulings are reversed. When your side starts hearing it might lose, you talk about taking to the streets and committing violence. Who are the real domestic terrorists in this scenario, the ones who want a peaceful remedy to our disagreements, or the ones who talk casually about violence?

Lastly, I think you States Rights’ advocates don’t seem to have gotten the memo yet. The Constitution is not the Articles of Confederation. You keep talking about how the States have the power to enact these same-sex marriage bans because the Constitution doesn’t give the federal government the right to regulate marriage. You frequently refer to the Tenth Amendment and how it means the States have the power over things the federal government doesn’t. But that’s only partly correct. First, you’re deliberately misinterpreting the Ninth Amendment as having something to do with States’ Rights. A plain reading of it proves it doesn’t. Here it is.

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

You have to read the Tenth Amendment in conjunction with the Ninth to understand why the People have rights even the states can’t take away.

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

In all your States’ Rights talk, you leave out the rights reserved to the people, the ones who have specifically have rights not mentioned in the Constitution. And one of those rights reserved to the people is the right to marry the person of your choice. Not people, not pets, not some perversion I don’t wish to name, but person. One person. So stop the polygamy and polyandry claims, stop the bestiality claims, stop the perversion claims. Nobody has ever seriously argued that marriage should be between anything other than two, and only two, people. (Some nutjobs might have, but they are few in number and can safely be regarded as totally without public influence. In fact, if you never brought them up, we’d never hear about them.)

You also leave out the Fourteenth Amendment, one of the most important constitutional amendments in human history. Without the 14th, your 1st Amendment rights mean nothing. If you read the Bill of Rights carefully, it says nothing about the States not being allowed to infringe upon your right to freedom of religion, or free speech, or a free press, or free assembly, or the freedom to petition the government. The 14th Amendment does. It says:

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

That means the rights you have as a federal citizen are now the rights you have as a citizen of your state. So your state can’t block your right to freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly or petitioning. What never ceases to amaze me, Bryan, is how you States’ Rights advocates get all up in arms about freedoms you claim the federal government is taking away from its citizens, but you are perfectly happy with your own state taking away those same freedoms. So why are you so opposed to the federal government saying the states can’t deny citizens within its borders their right to marry? What is it you’re so afraid will happen. Bryan? That you’ll run out into the streets to commit acts of violence against your fellow citizens, or that you’ll leave your wife for another man? I’ll support you 100% on the latter, but not on the former.

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to make fun of Bryan Fischer’s paranoia, how my interpretations of the Constitution are off the mark, or anything else you wish to discuss.

Sunday Roast: Mt St Helens anniversary

May 18, 1980, thirty-five years ago tomorrow, Mt St Helens in Washington State went off like a bomb, killing 57 people and turning hundreds of square miles of beautiful forest into a wasteland.

Here’s a handy dandy graphic from the Wiki page of what happened during the blast:

I was living near Lake Shasta at the time, and working at the K-Mart just off I-5 in Redding.  I was amazed at the uptick in the numbers of travelers going north; we could tell who they were because they were buying stacks and stacks of crappy K-Mart air filters for their cars.  My thought was, “Why drive into that mess on purpose?,” but I guess they had their reasons — maybe selling crappy air filters to the masses.  :D

Thankfully, no one in my family was living in northern at the time.  My parents and younger sister moved to Moscow the next year, so they could establish residency before my dad started law school in 1982.  To hear the old people around Moscow tell it, they received anywhere from a couple inches to 12 feet of ash.  As much of a nightmare as it was, I’m pretty sure it was closer to a couple inches than it was to a foot — let alone 12 feet.

Exciting times!!  My inner geology geek was pinging like mad…

This is our daily open thread — where were you the day Mt St Helens went off?

The Watering Hole, Saturday, May 16th, 2015: Holy Rollers

Karma is a Bitch…

You Reap What You Sow…

The Law of Unintended Consequences…

A Homer Simpson “D’OH!” moment…

A Simpsons’ Nelson “HA-ha!” moment…

What Goes Around Comes Around…

Revenge is a Dish Best Served Stoned?

However you want to describe it, it’s going to be a fun time in Indiana on July 1st. July 1st is the day that Indiana’s revised RFRA law goes into effect. It is also the day that the State-of-Indiana-approved “First Church of Cannabis” holds their inaugural worship service. So when July 1st rolls around, prepare your favorite snacks, roll a fattie/fill a bowl/fire up the bong/bake some ‘special’ brownies, and get ready to enjoy the circus and the fireworks.

An excerpt from yesterday’s Think Progress thread about the Church, which was formed in March subsequent to Indiana’s revised RFRA law:

“It’s going to be a standard service,” Bill Levin, the group’s leader and self-proclaimed “Grand Poohba and Minister of Love,” told ThinkProgress. He explained the ceremony will last around 45 minutes, complete with music and teachings, but will conclude with an unusual benediction: “At the end of the service … we will enjoy cannabis, because it’s how we enjoy life.

An article from the Christian Post website, written by Vincent Funaro, is also informative. (I would have posted a link to it, but pop-up ads there refuse to go away – while, yes, I DO want to look at The Home Decorator’s big Outlet sale, I got their email yesterday so right now it’s just blocking an entire paragraph – but I digress!) While the article is written in a straightforward, non-committal way, I thought the stock photo they used to begin the article, although captioned appropriately, was just a tad over-the-top, not to mention outright misleading.

Hindu holy man(Photo: Reuters/ Navesh Chitrakar)

A Hindu holy man, or sadhu, smokes marijuana in a chillum on the premises of Pashupatinath Temple in Kathmandu February 17, 2015. Hindu holy men from Nepal and India come to this temple to take part in the Maha Shivaratri festival annually for holiday when it is legal to smoke the otherwise illegal drug. Celebrated by Hindu devotees all over the world, Shivaratri is dedicated to Lord Shiva, and holy men mark the occasion by praying, smoking marijuana or smearing their bodies with ashes.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

An Indiana organization dedicated to marijuana that calls itself the First Church of Cannabis will host its first “worship service” on July 1, the same day that the state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act goes into effect.

The organization will test the law’s ban on government burdens on the exercise of religion as it will feature a pot-smoking session that is illegal in the state of Indiana.

The cannabis group’s founder Bill Levin explained plans for the service to U.S. News and said it will open with “Amazing Grace” played on a harmonica by a popular young musician and move to a quick sermon followed by a “call to worship,” which is actually just a time for smoking marijuana.

“I’m an old-school producer,” Levin told U.S. News. “We start off the show soft and we have a build-up and then in the end we explode in glory and we all dance around the hall.”

Levin is searching for a church that will lease him space for the event and will also consider holding it on a religious campground or in a public park. It’s still unclear if local police and prosecutors are prepared to accept pot smoking as protected conduct under the state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Peg McLeish, a spokeswoman for the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office in Indiana told U.S. News that the Religious Freedom Law doesn’t necessarily protect people who commit crimes from being arrested.

“It’s that they could assert [their religious beliefs are] a defense if they are prosecuted,” she said.

Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act says the government cannot “substantially burden” a person’s ability to follow their religious beliefs, unless it can prove a compelling interest in imposing that burden and it does so in the least restrictive way.

Critics of the law contended that it could be used to discriminate against the LGBT community on the basis of religion. This would apply to Christian business owners refusing to service gay weddings based on their beliefs.

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence later clarified RFRA after signing it into law in March stating that it “does not give businesses a right to deny services to anyone.”

To appease detractors, Pence signed revisions into the law to remove fears that it would allow businesses to discriminate against the LBGT community in April.

However, the article fails to point out that part of the Church’s raison d’etre is the celebration of the healing and medicinal powers of the ‘blessed’ plant.

And yes, folks, there is a membership application posted on The Church of Cannabis’ Facebook page – in fact, I see that someone we know visited before I did.  ;-)

Hmm…is anyone else thinking what I’m thinking? :D

This is our daily Open Thread – have fun!