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

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!

The Watering Hole; Friday May 15 2015; Bertrand Russell

“The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure
and the intelligent full of doubt.”
~Bertrand Russell

A decade or two ago, I happened across a quote by Bertrand Russell. Two things caught my eye: (1) his ‘definition’ of fascism matched what appeared to be underway in the US at least since the 1980 election of Ronald Reagan, and (2) Russell had penned the line in 1940, two years before I was born.

“The first step in a fascist movement is the combination under an energetic leader of a number of men who possess more than the average share of leisure, brutality, and stupidity. The next step is to fascinate fools and muzzle the intelligent, by emotional excitement on the one hand and terrorism on the other.” ~Bertrand Russell: Freedom; (Harcourt Brace, 1940)

I was curious. I had heard of Russell, of course, but having not been much of a humanities student whilst in college all those years ago, I was largely unfamiliar with the specifics of his work, of his ideas. So I dug a little deeper and found tons more tidbits of B.R. wisdom. Here are a small handful that demonstrate, to me, Russell’s immense capacity for rational thought as well as his amazing ability to clearly summarize most any topic, all-the-while subtly exposing popular fallacies in the process.

“Neither a man nor a crowd nor a nation can be trusted to act humanely or to think sanely under the influence of a great fear.”

“We may define ‘faith’ as a firm belief in something for which there is no evidence. [and] We only speak of faith when we wish to substitute emotion for evidence.”

“If throughout your life you abstain from murder, theft, fornication, perjury, blasphemy, and disrespect towards your parents, your Church, and your king, you are conventionally held to deserve moral admiration even if you have never done a single kind or generous or useful action. This very inadequate notion of virtue . . . has done untold harm.”

“If you think that your belief is based upon reason, you will support it by argument, rather than by persecution, and will abandon it if the argument goes against you. But if your belief is based on faith, you will realize that argument is useless, and will therefore resort to force either in the form of persecution or by stunting and distorting the minds of the young in what is called ‘education.’ This last is peculiarly dastardly since it takes advantage of the defenselessness of immature minds. Unfortunately it is practiced in a greater or less degree in the schools of every civilized country.”

And then there’s this GEM!

“The date of the creation of the world (according to the orthodox view) can be inferred from the genealogies in Genesis, which tell how old each patriarch was when his oldest son was born. Some margin of controversy was permissible, owing to certain ambiguities and to differences between the Septuagint and the Hebrew text; but in the end Protestant Christendom generally accepted the date 4004 B.C., fixed by Archbishop Usher. Dr. Lightfoot, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge, who accepted this date for the Creation, thought that a careful study of Genesis made even greater precision possible; the creation of man, according to him, took place at 9.00 A.M. on October 23rd. This, however, has never been an article of faith; you might believe, without risk of heresy, that Adam and Eve came into existence on October 16th or October 30th, provided your reasons were derived from Genesis. The day of the week was, of course, known to have been Friday, since God rested on the Saturday.”

Undercurrent thesis stated another way,

“Dogma demands authority, rather than intelligent thought, as the source of opinion; it requires persecution of heretics and hostility to unbelievers; it asks of its disciples that they should inhibit natural kindliness in favor of systematic hatred.”

Bertrand Russell (1872 – 1970) lived a long and extremely productive life. I’ll not even attempt to make a list his accomplishments — the multi-paged Wikipedia link embedded above offers a detailed summary of his life; it also includes links to more detailed information for any who so desire. Suffice to say that in my somewhat shriveled and mediocre mind, I see the world in much the same way as he did — a footnote I readily admit and accept.

Here, for example, is Russell speaking of God and Religion in 1959. Curiously, he and I do share one tiny bit of religious ‘history.’ When asked when he decided not to remain a believer in the Christian beliefs he’d been taught, he said that “by the time I was eighteen, I discarded the last of them.” For me, likewise. :)

“Collective fear stimulates herd instinct, and tends to produce ferocity
toward those who are not regarded as members of the herd.”
Bertrand Russell

21st Century GOP defined. Amen.

OPEN THREAD

The Watering Hole; Thursday May 14 2015; Of Geese and Goofs

The day was Monday, May 11, 2015. Springtime, right? I was up early, and when I first looked out the window this is what I saw: the endpoint of an overnight snowstorm, some five, maybe six inches of heavy wet stuff. Looked like the middle of January out there, and certainly not like a happy time for springtime’s nesting bird life. Early AM snow May 11 1161A few hours later the temp had climbed into the low forties, and the clouds had begun to break up, revealing this view of the Front Range where, according to reports, as much as two feet of snow had fallen. Mojada breaking clouds 1181The following day, the PM temps returned to the low seventies where they typically reside this time of year. That afternoon, we decided to take a walk around the local lake, see if we could again spot the Canadian Goose family that had been busily exploring its corner of the lake during the week before the storms came.  The photo below was taken on May third, very near the day the goslings first left the nest to explore their new world. Goose family 1126So on Tuesday the twelfth we returned to their corner of the world and eventually spotted the mating pair of Canadians (Branta canadensis) relaxing near the shore of a small island that lies about a hundred yards out. They were, as usual, in the company of the only remaining pair of Chinese geese (Anser anser domesticus) in the lake’s current goose colony. 4 geese 1183In the photo above, note the absence of goslings — they were nowhere to be seen, which is most unusual as the days approach the middle of May. Where were they? Normally if they were nearby, either the Canadian mating pair or the Chinese geese would be supervising, watching carefully. Such was clearly not the case, so the first assumption was that something had gone awry. Were they victims of the sudden snowstorm? The recent weather had certainly been goofy enough to be assumed a possible threat to days-old chicks. Or maybe a fox stopped by? Or a cougar? Dog? Feral cat? Take your pick. One thing I did notice — later in the day while reviewing the above photo — was what appeared to be a battle wound of some sort on the neck of the white Chinese goose: Chinese goose neck injury 1183Chinese geese are a popular domestic breed, well-known to be an efficient watchdog that is typically very noisy when anything unusual is around. In this local semi-wild setting, the two of them are always and invariably in the company of their Canadian ‘friends.’ They are, in fact, extremely protective of Canadian goslings. They seem to watch from a distance, but whenever another critter pops up in the neighborhood (humans included) they immediately start honking loudly as they hurry over to offer whatever help might be needed. My first glance at the neck wound above, therefore, definitely made me wonder if maybe the goslings had indeed “gotten got” by one or another of our furry critter locals. 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.

Meanwhile, back to the human world where the idiocy continues unabashed, as evidenced in these few recent headlines:

Poll: One-Third Of Republicans Think Obama Wants To Invade Texas

Conservative Pundit: ‘Major Outbreak Of Violence’ Against Obama Administration Imminent

And finally, this absolute GEM!

Beck: Free Community College Is A Government Plot To Enslave People Through Student Loan Debt

OPEN THREAD

Watering Hole: May 12, 2015 – I still miss you

Nonewhere is experiencing “technical difficulties” so he asked me to post something so that bloggers have a place to discuss the issues of the day.

I’m going to regress to Sunday’s special day, Mother’s Day.  My mother had a beautiful singing voice and she sang a variety of different songs throughout the day.  She gave me my love of music.  Here’s one of the songs she would sing.

This is your Open Thread for the day.  It’s your turn to Speak Up or Sing if you like  :)