Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Garbage In, Garbage Out

We'll return to Charlie Company pretty soon. More pictures will ensue. If I can post a movie, I will.

Right now, let me refer you to this:

One of the great talismen of the decline of our electorate is the fact that David Brooks, some years ago, became a fixture on the Jim Leher News Hour. As a few realistically inclined web pundits have realized some time ago, Mr. Brooks and a few others toil endlessly in the field of lies, to the end of persuading millions of otherwise sensible people--people who would not be swayed by the outright racism and hate of the Limbaughs and Hannitys--that, really, the whole effort to enfranchise all Americans was always a misguided effort driven by the Democratic Party's structural need for votes, and by the Democratic Party's romanticism in the face of reality. Remove those two problems, says Mr. Brooks, and we'll get "our country" back. In the process, women will be back in the kitchen, cooking, mothering, and having more babies. Black people will only vote when they can pass rigorous tests on American History and the political process. The border will be fenced, and patrolled by hundreds of drones, and those millions who are here "illegally" will be riding cattle cars back into Mexico and Central America, while their American Citizen children are removed to "foster" care. Homosexuals will be just fine if they will just stop flaunting their perversions, or trying to get married and/or raise children. Unions will be, like the gray hair in the new commercial for some sort of men's hair dye, a thing entirely of the past. And, as Mr. Romney has suggested, it will eventually be illegal to run for President if you don't have "business experience."

Hannity yesterday interviewed some third tier Nashville songwriter named John Rich. Here's a story about him from last year, and the pic posted here comes from that story:

Mr. Rich has written a new song, which Hannity played in full, called "Why I Pray." It's got a lot of guitar and drums and bass, and it complains a lot about how in 'Murrica these days things are bad for a lot of people. You can't celebrate Christmas or pray at football games Mr. Rich asserted and reasserted in his long interview with Hannity pre- and post-airing the ditty. He didn't mention the outrage of getting kicked off a plane for being drunk--and certainly that stupidity isn't something reserved only for conservative singer-songwriters. Rich also objected to the very bad treatment being given to Tim Tebow. His implication was that the gubment was to blame for all these outrages, and Mr. Obama in particular. The images in the video (see below) pour a veritable fountain of victimhood and loss over "ordinary people," and if you don't see this video as a backdrop for a Romney commercial before it's over this fall, I'll be surprised. Boys, says Mr. Rich, the money keeps a-rollin' in.

Well, I have to say at least it was nice to hear Hannity getting played for once. This cowboy hatted phony knows how to market, like the rest of Gnashville. Tebow ( is a victim? Pass the biscuits, I'll take some of those millions, I could get me some fucking tires. We don't celebrate Christmas any more? What the hell? While Brooks rearranges our memory banks so as to cause blank spaces where sweatshops and industrial accidents and coathanger abortions used to live, Hannity and his pal Rich are working on the short-term side. We just got past Christmas, and I KNOW it was celebrated in every conceivable way all over this great land of ours. You couldn't escape Christmas if you were holed up in Gnome, Alaska, or in the last trailer on Copperhead Road. You'd get some sort of Xmas advertising straight to your cell phone if you'd hacked yourself right off "the Grid." There'd be planes with banners tied to them flying over your house wishing you Merry Christmas, Shop Walmart if they'd closed the whole rest of American Airspace for the entire month of December.

So hat's off to Mr. Rich, I guess. He got hissef some airplay, even if he had to wear those Rock Hudson leathers with the zippers on the back. As it is every day on the Hannity Radio Extravaganza, the Whyte Dove done sang. Glory hallelujah. (Which looks like it might be either an Arabic word, or something Bob Marley might have said more than once, I and I doncha know.) And you know, if you have to have a friend like Hannity to make a living in the music business, maybe you deserve to get yosef drunk as a skunk and throwd off an airplane. Look at Nugent and Charlie Daniels, Mr. Rich. There you go, Xmas Past, Xmas Future. Have another shot, it won't hurt so bad after a while, and maybe Waylon and Willie will invite you to the big hayride in the sky some sweet day. Getting tossed off that plane is the only cred you have left.

Here's the "official video" of "Why I Pray." You be the judge of the music.

As for the shocking banning of public prayer which Obama instituted just before the start of Ramadan last year, check out Joe Gibbs' outright flaunting of the ban down in Charlotte on a recent weekend. Good thing Coach's got Kyle Busch to fend off the black taliban.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Charlie Company Settles In

This past week the boys have been given full range in the house, with only a few small exceptions, which they can probably overrule as their athleticism increases with further leaps and bounds. That ain't no pun intended, it's just the deal. Cats are leapers and bounders. As well as being driven by an immense curiosity. They're damn near as curious as people, and probably more ruthless, truth be known. They just made a deal with us long ago. Feed us and we won't conspire to kill you.

These guys may not kill us outright, but they might eat us out of house and home and any chance to get a better vehicle or a tooth repaired. Next on the agenda is to get all three of them "neutered." The nads are showing. It's getting to be time. We don't want to rush it because we think their personalities need to develop, something that's already one of the human pleasures of being around them, in their home. The three are all quite different. Bruiser, now called Grey Bear by me (Libby has different names but I can't remember them, although they're very nifty and I need for her to write them down for me--put em on the fridge or something--Grey Bear is much less the pushy one now. He's the most "self-contained," happy to be by himself some of the time, while the two black ones, Fuzzy and Wuzzy, wrassle and tussle. He has a tendency, slowing waning, to want to "nurse" one of the others when he's wanting to go to sleep. In that regard, one of his favorite toys is a little rubble nipple that came with a pet-feeding bottle. Toss him that and he plays and plays with it, ignoring what the others are up to. Meanwhile, Wuzzy has become more and more vocal and more and more engaged with us. He will often meow loudly and then climb onto one of our chests, purring loudly, then going right off to sleep. This morning Wuzzy climbed the barrier into our sleeping loft and was exploring all over the bed. He has the kitty-alarm gene apparently, and also the sleek look of a siamese, which goes with his vocality. Fuzzy still has bigger feet, and the softest, sweetest temperament. He's a panther, but reasonably friendly. He doesn't mind being the nursee to Grey Bear. He'll tussle with either or both endlessly, but there's a kind of get-along way about him. If this was the Dirty Dozen, he'd be Clint Walker. I'm hoping Wuzzy isn't Telly Savalas. I'd like to give Grey Bear the honor of Lee Marvin's character, but I'm not sure he's quite that much of a leader. Maybe he's Bronson. Maybe Wuzzy is Jim Brown. Yea, that's the ticket. Nope, the wrong ticket--it's obvious really; Wuzzy is Cassavetes. He's the one who complains.

Right now they're all standing at the French doors watching Momma eat breakfast. Libby spend much of yesterday looking for that trap. They're all out at Lowes. Not a good sign, but a sign of the fact that spring is here, and summer close at hand. The livin' is easy for felines on the wild right now. There's plenty of water and the grass is high. Probably mice and voles and moles all abound. I know there's a bunch of squirrels. Rabbits too. The light comes early and stays late. The moon casts shadows in the woods.

Charlie Company doesn't realize how good they've fallen into. They look out the door and see nothing but fun, stretching forever. When they go to sleep they go upstairs, which was once our bedroom but at the moment has turned into an attic full of whatnot. I think it reminds them of the shed, where they first saw light. We go to sleep hearing them running around up there, then they quiet down, finding little secret sleeping places. Yesterday they sat on their "kitty condos" (made of particle board, cardboard, and felt, held together by staples, crafted by the crafty Chinese) and watched the Indianapolis 500. I shoulda made a movie of that.

[Libby took the pic, a few weeks back now. They're much bigger now. I think I'm wearing my Kyle Busch shirt, so it must be race day.]

Friday, May 25, 2012

Laura; or Small Victories

The following comes via Tbogg:

Here's the thing. The Limbovians can listen every day to the radio hater and they can imagine that they are just like him, and can blow off just like he does, in any way they want to, with no consequences. And although they are actually and sadly far too correct about that state of affairs (witness, for example, NC's recent sad new Constitutional Amendment, which brings our fine Constitution down to the level of used toilet paper, now and again, ordinary people who imagine they are just like "El Rushbo" discover that, in true fact, they actually live in the world they think they are far far above.

So it is for Mr. Gene Tierney Junior of Greenville, South Carolina. His unmitigated obnoxiousness did not go unpunished.


For a full recounting of the tale of Tierney, you can go backwards through Tbogg's posts on the matter, and on, back back in time, to the start of the whole thing--where a nice law student from Georgetown University testified before a Democratic House non-hearing on the Republican House's Hearing concerning women's matters, which said hearing included no women at all, and where said law student was subsequently insulted by "El Rushbo," on the airwaves owned by all of us (so they say) for nearly a week, in the most obnoxious manner possible, stirring up all manner of controversy and leading, ultimately, to the immortal words of Mr. Gene Tierney of Greenville, South Carolina.

Once, Gene Tierney was the name of a beautiful movie star. That's her picture, above. Was she from S.C.?

Saturday Update: More good news. Amazing.

Update 2. I just spotted this, from Tbogg:

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Reality Arrives for the Democratic Party

Driftglass has already put the dots together, so start out with these two posts of his:

Here's the deal. When Mr. Booker popped off this past weekend about how Mr. Obama was being "nauseating" when he decided to attack Bain Capital head on, this was not a mistake. Nor did Mr. Booker recant his words on the Rachel Maddow show on Monday night. Certainly he did express support for much of Obama's agenda and record. Certainly he will remain a Democrat (unless progressive Democrats really decide to make a full blown issue of this, and force him to the "independent" place of mystery and confusion, where such folks as Joe Lieberman and Bernie Sanders now share crackers and milk and a footrub before bed).

But the Cory Booker problem puts the real Democratic Party, as it actually exists today, to the wall. On the one side--the Republican side--is the view that (as David Brooks says in his column cited by Driftglass), venture capitalism as practiced by Bain and many other businesses is actually an effective corrective medicine for what ails an economy. This means that no matter what the carnage when viewed in the particular, as Mr. Obama's advertising on the point does via interviews with people who lost their jobs via Bain Capital, in the broad overview, in the great sweep of history, and as Doris Lessing once said through the mouth of a big time gold mine exec. in South Africa, "well, you have to break some eggs to make an omlet."

The fact is, a large swathe of the Democratic Party also accepts this view. They are loath to disparage a segment of business, venture capitalism, which has made great donations to their coffers, and which continues to support candidates from both parties. Moreover, a large swathe of the Democratic Party pretty much agrees with the premise that successful business is a self-justifying thing, for society as a whole. Or, as Romney puts it in his usual inept way--anyone who makes money deserves commendation.

This evolution of the Democratic Party has been ongoing. It is marked, historically, by the defeat of Tom Harkin in 1992 by Bill Clinton, who was and is in many ways what used to be, long ago, called a Rockefeller Republican. There is, in fact, an agreement among a large center of the political "class," which includes both many Democrats and all Republicans. People who make money are to be commended. Period. As corollaries, such Democrats believe in things like "right to work" laws. (My state, North Carolina, has had such laws since the late 1950s, and through almost all of the period since we have had Democratic leadership. It makes no difference down here who's running the show.)

When Mr. Obama says that a President should be concerned with the welfare of all citizens, he is--by the lights of the vast, vague "independent" middle--saying something radical. This is why the Democratic Party is allowing Scott Walker, Republican Governor of Wisconsin, to maintain a 20/1 monetary advantage in the current campaign to unseat him and replace him with a moderate Democrat, the mayor of Milwaukee.

It looks like, when it comes to economic fealty, the Democratic Party may well leave it's own sitting President twisting slowly in the wind. Then we'll all be dependent on luck--can the GOP actually manage to be so crass and stupid as to drive away large majorities of women, black people, latinos, and various other minorities who are always under the boot when the GOP rules the United States. Or will they lure enough of these folks back into the voting booth, yet again.

Photo is from Goddard's masterpiece, La Chinoise, circa 1967, when things were clearer in some ways. While I try, usually, to see deeper into the flow of events than just the headlines of some local newspaper, there is this:

Fact is, when you takes the money you pretty much puts yourself in the corner. Or, as we say, Citizens United. La Chinoise could have occurred in an odd corner of 1984, come to think of it.

Meanwhile, one could go back and look at just what "private equity companies" do to be congratulated for. Here's an explanation, from an actual economics professor who teaches these days at the University of California (just sayin'):

Monday, May 21, 2012

Charlie Company Takes Maneuvers

Just a brief update on the Houdahenians. This past weekend we took them to spend the weekend with their aunt Anna, who lives far far away in Durham County. This was a distance entirely incomprehensible to the boys, so we didn't bother to explain it to them. For them it was just "get in this box," "stay there till the car stops," "now you can get out." Might as well have been a new planet. Libby and I then went off to practice music with our old pals in Unknown Tongues, the only Down East Cajun-Zydeco band on the planet.

I'm hoping Aunt Anna will put up a post here on the doings at her house. There was, I hear tell, a kitty trampoline, and so much fun they even forgot to eat for a few hours at one point. There were also two very established yellow cats on the premises, including one who was long ago a feral kitten on the island of Ocracoke, where such critters who are tough thrive amongst the fishermen and New Jersey tourists, living the high hog of stale champagne, foi gras on broken crackers, assorted cheeses, leftover wedding reception banquets, rare roast beef and turkey bits, and the odd fresh fish head or entrail. It is only tough during hurricanes and nor'easters. These two yellow cats hissed at the boys from a distance of screen porch, the boys apparently stared back, then returned to the trampoline. They return to the deep woods of base camp today. Or we considered just leaving our truck there at Anna's and considering it a trade.

The practice was excellent. We remembered a lot of things we once knew, musically speaking. The rental car, a Toyota Yaris, was nifty. The trip was uneventful, and there's a new chunk of road which gets one from Smithfield all the way to Raleigh without a stop light. This, in inself, was a remarkable experience, new to both of us. Now the week begins, ready or not.

That's a pic of the Tongues. Here's some of their music, for free no less:

If you download "Tongue and Groove," let it be known that Libby is co-author. A fresh rendition can be expected at our joint gig this August 17 in Durham.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Prisoner

Ever watch that rather weird
teevee show, The Prisoner. I saw bits and pieces of it back when it was running on, I think, UNC-TV. This was long ago. I probably never saw a whole episode, but I don't think that really mattered much. The premise was that this guy, possibly a British secret agent, had been spirited away to a prison camp which was designed to appear to be a comfy resort, where everyone was happy and having a great time. In each episode the hero discovers, somewheres along the half-way mark, that something is askew. He finds a cushion out of place that he left just so on purpose. He discovers that there's a camera in his ceiling. Another "inmate" whispers something to him, then disappears. There are countless variations on this theme of discovery, but at the end of each episode the hero (played by Patrick McGoohan) finds himself back at square one, in his nicely appointed bungalow, while unseen observers discuss his case.

So anyways, we've discovered that we are actually hostages of a feral cat colony which has been living here for an unknown number of months, unknown to us. Last evening, as dusk fell and Greg Biffle led the parade around Darlington, I went outside and looked down the driveway to where I'd parked my truck, sos I could do some mowing earlier. On top of my truck was a large silhouette--a cat's head and ears, his body shape directly behind. He was at rest, just looking. At me. I couldn't make out any of his features. I figured, though, that he was the big yellow tom. Libby later shone a flashlight in his direction and confirmed my theory.

Charlie Company might be viewed as a small invasion force, the first to make it inside our inner compound. (Except of course for the squirrels who live in the ceiling in the winter months, but they are a third force, and if anything good comes of our colonization it might be that squirrels make good meals for feral cats.) This, at least, would be the creationist logic of the situation, as opposed to visions of Newtonian entropy too depressing to savor on my meger two days away from my retirement
job. It's sort of like saying, "isn't it amazing how grapefruit all have the same number of sections. There must be a Creator." Versus something I saw the other night on the History Channel--where they were talking about Earth-like planets and someone asked, "well, how long would it take to get to one of those planets from here," and the answer was, "um, er, between 50 and 100 thousand YEARS." Which sorta takes the shine off the notion that we have alternatives "out there." Sartre was right.

I'm not sure that here in rural Chatham County we have much of a support system for them what wants to intervene in a feral cat colony, beyond the Old Ways (e.g., Mr. Yellow Tom provided a fine if silhouetted target, and I probably could have taken him out without much risk to my windshield). Here's a couple of youtubes of what people in more progressive realms do. It's pretty interesting for the cultural information, as well as for the information about feral cat colonies, imho (as the bloggers like to "say").

I like the "drop trap" idea. As a movie I mean. I like how you can watch the colony at work, the momma and her adolescent charges. It worries me some, that latter part of the vid, where you have to get each individual cat into a smaller carrier from the bigger group confinement area. That part where you have to have one foot just so on the bigger trap, then put a foot on the smaller trap, with the box of rocks set just right on the tab at the back. That's a juncture in the procedure where there might be problems humorous from a camera's eye point of view to be sure, but related to the bullet hole in the windshield problem discussed earlier.

So we find ourselves now looking past the three boys, careening around our former living room with the speed of Sprint Cup racers, while the race itself unfolds on the screen, indeed, stopping to watch the cars now and then before some rustle or quick movement from another brother distracts them. Now it's about trapping these creatures who live Out There, who are bringing Out There to our very doorstep. Libby fed the momma at 2 AM. She stood guard at the door so the yellow tom would not steal Momma's food. She then researched the best trap some more on-line. We are told that some local stores carry knock-off versions of these traps which tend to fail. Above all, we don't want to teach these invaders that they'd best beware of food in a shiny box. Our hope is that if we get Momma neutered, the toms will be less interested in hanging around. We can deal with her--an outside cat, per se, is easier than an inside one.

We might have to take Momma to some more "civilized" county when and if we do manage to capture her. There's not much sign of a human culture here in Chatham County which resembles the people depicted in the two videos posted above. But then, we are amongst only 8 counties in our whole state which voted against the No Equal Marriage Constitutional Amendment which just passed here in North Carolina. Maybe in this small regard the google does not know all. We'll certainly ask around. Some places, like Ocracoke, NC and Seattle WA, cherish their feral cat colonies. We don't live there I don't think. Here such colonies are more viewed as new vectors for rabies, which already thrives in raccoon and fox populations.

Put 'er in warp drive, Scottie.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

A Band of Brothers

[It was chilly last night, and Charlie Company decided to enjoy some of my body heat while I was watching teevee.]

Libby took the kittens
to the vet on Monday, where we discovered that we have three brothers. Charlie Company. There's the nervous squeaky one, black coat just like his mom, very quick, very very curious. He's already climbed over the barrier to our loft bedroom, and will no doubt be balancing on the ledge over the stone floor below within the next week, unless we decide to cardboard ourselves completely into our bedroom (which sucks). This one is "Wuzzy." Perhaps they're all going to end up with different names eventually, in fact it's likely. I've been calling him Wuzzy here. Wuzzy got me up this morning by, um, being there. The cat alarm system is an effective alternative to a radio that brings only bad country music or horrible news, and requires no connection to the grid.

Fuzzy is going to be much bigger than Wuzzy. He's got much softer fur and big feet. He's shy, has a caution about arms reaching for him, yet quickly snuggles up and even purrs now and then, and will go to sleep almost without exception when being petted, unless something very exciting is happening across the room. He has a quiet interest in the world. Last evening I was playing a game of wii tennis and Fuzzy sat and watched atop a scratching post, until the other two attacked him from behind and got him involved in their ongoing tussle. Fuzzy looks at you from under his brow, not exactly straight on.

The most striking of the boys is of course "Bruiser" as I first called him, although now I'm lobbying for "Chessie" and Libby's come up with a different name-a-day. He's the most self-contained, with the softest fur imaginable. He'll snuggle up and purr on his schedule, but doesn't much like to be just picked up at our whim. He likes to rough house with Wuzzy, and we've noticed that when they're all bedding down, he tends to try to nurse one or the other of his brothers. We're not sure about that. Libby's known kittens who grew to cats who never got over nursing inappropriately. "He'll nurse the dots off a chenille bedspread" is something we've heard said. It doesn't sound good. On the other hand, we don't want to be prudes.

I hear that when we get these guys neutered, we'll have to separate them for a week to keep the surgeries safe. That's going to be one tall order. Maybe we can space it out. It's coming up, this next step. Next weekend they'll be "sat" for the first time, as Libby and I have to go play some music out of town. One nice thing is, they keep each other company. I'm not sure if, in the end, we're going to keep all three. It's a major handful. Already we're living in a house with cardboard walls, and while we've never been one for a highly structured, orderly home life (Libby once put a sticker up on the fridge which said, "My only domestic quality is that I live in a house"--I took that to be a significant marriage principle and have tried to take it into consideration at all times, as the years of bliss have rushed by like autumn leaves in a hurricane)--still, having to program the microwave from over a cardboard wall isn't the easiest thing to accomplish.

Meanwhile, the larger world which has come to us continues. Momma is probably pregnant. We're frantically researching trapping methods before some new brood arrives. This week I put out a second plate of food for her as she was acting like she wanted more (in her complex method of signalling me--by showing herself, then hiding, then showing again). I was washing dishes by the door where she eats, and glanced over. There was a new cat there--a gray tabby with an amazing fur ball at the end of his tail, almost like a lion has. Never seen this guy before. Sheesh, now there's three around. I tapped on the window and he flew off the porch and out through the woods. He knew he was trespassing--on my turf. But I'm thinking that we have what in the parlance is known as a "colony." There's certainly plenty of woods out there. We've sighted the momma of course, and the big yellow cat who acts as though he owns the place. Now this third one. Maybe a former kitten from an earlier brood?

If you want to watch lots of videos about catching feral cats, they're certainly there, on youtube. Google "trapping cats" and you're on your way to a morning of delight. There's one I particularly enjoyed involving catching a whole colony with one big trap. The trick there is getting each one into a smaller carrier. It looked easy enough. On the video I mean. Driving a race car looks easy on the video too. Meanwhile, I watch the little waves of responsibility expand, ever wider, out of that moment, so long ago now yet only yesterday, when I saw a mysterious black cat insinuate herself into a distant storage shed. Little did I know.

Anyways, as I was starting to say--the Monday vet trip gave us Charlie Company, a round of worming meds, and a start to the shots they'll all need to be, um, domesticated. Which may in the end mean something akin to Libby's fridge bumper sticker of long ago. The boys do seem to like to use a litter box. I sure didn't teach them that, so there's at least something domesticated about 'em.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

A Dark Day in North Carolina

[illustration by Maurice Sendak from "Where the Wild Things Are"]

Go over to the NPR site
and listen to the wonderful interviews Terry Gross replayed last night with the late Maurice Sendak.

You might have to click around to hear all the interviews. It's worth it. Indeed, I'd rather you just listen to them than even come back and read this, but if you do...

Mr. Sendak was by any measure a person who wonderfully fulfilled his gift of life. He was a beloved and renowned children's author, who wrote books that children loved, but with great depth and truth, which adults also perceived and appreciated. He was a person of rare generosity and kindness. He embodied towering empathy, particularly for children. At one point in one of the interviews he talks about how children frequently did not understand why he was asked to autograph their books, and found the experience upsetting. Either he was stranger taking away their favorite book, and or (worse still), someone who was going to write in their book--something they had always been told not to do. He recounted a particular case of a "brave boy" who shouted, during the experience, "hey, don't mess up my book!" Sendak had to take the father aside and praise the boy--show the dad that what his kid did was actually seeing the world aright--reasonable, connected to reality--not something that was embarrassing to the dad.

Well along in life, and when the attitude towards gay and lesbian people in the United States had softened to some degree, Mr. Sendak "came out." During these interviews he talks about his partner of 50 years, a psychoanalyst who died four years ago. He talks about grief, about losing so many friends as he grew older (a fate anyone who lives a long time will endure). Even with his partner dying, and himself in very ill health, Mr. Sendak undertook a new book. He said that he had many younger friends who came and helped him, and who seemed to think he was wise. He laughed at that. As well as empathy, and a huge heart full of love, he had humility.

And yesterday North Carolina stuck a knife in the heart of love, empathy, and humility. We voted to make only a "marriage" between a man and a woman legal--indeed, "constitutional," in North Carolina. My guess (based on some legal opinions I've read and heard on the air) is that this constitutional amendment will actually injure thousands of families, including thousands of children, since there are of course many relationships of "marriage" which do not involve just one man and one women--and many of them involve children.

This is nothing particularly new in North Carolina or in the country. According to Rachel Maddow, this kind of referendum has occurred 33 times before yesterday, and lost all but once. The prejudice and bigotry America holds to its bosom towards gays and lesbians has never been seriously addressed. Precious few teachers and leaders have actually tried to lead ordinary Americans to the light on this, no matter what they themselves actually believed. And of course far too many teachers and leaders simply share the hate and bigotry. In a Fayetteville NC church just last week--leading up to the vote yesterday--a minister told his congregation to "smite the limp wrist if it appears in your family." When there was something of a media uproar about his sermon, his congregation responded with justifications--"he's being taken out of context," they said.

Mr. Sendak talked at length about his childhood, and about how his parents were desperate for a quiet, well-behaved little boy. He said his brother Jack saved him--Jack became an ally in an otherwise oppressive life. And so Mr. Sendak managed to blossom--to start writing and drawing his wonderful books. They made him famous and reasonably well off. They made us happy, and better people. But this gift did not stop North Carolinians from giving Mr. Sendak one last passing kick, because he was in the end of it nothing more than another faggot.

What a sad, sad day for North Carolina. One can only hope that, upon reflection, North Carolina voters will realize which party stood with the brutes and bigots. Mr. Biden just this past week said he had "no problem" with two people of whatever sex having a marriage. I believe he's a Democrat.

Update: Digby has a very good piece on the amendment posted today:

Be sure to listen to the interview with the NC legislator. Rust indeed never sleeps.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

While They Sleep

A return to the larger matters. Start with Charles Pierce:

I read on a lot of liberal blogs that Obama is so far superior to Mr. Romney that there's no way he can lose. If one is a rational, grounded citizen, particularly with a memory longer than, say, 1994, it simply seems inconceivable that yet another Republican Administration could be allowed into office. Romney is George W. Bush cubed. It's simply amazing. He's the same guy, the same arrogant, rich, know-it-all we saw in Bush, the same utter belief in money. Plus, Romney has always believed in himself, in his own judgment. The dog-on-roof story is important mostly because he still stands by it. "He was having fun up there."

Meanwhile, there is a states-rights counterrevolution grinding on in many key presidential election states. Just look at Wisconsin, or Michigan, or Tennessee, or Virginia, or Florida, or Ohio. Laws are being passed which will limit access to the polls by voters who tend to vote Democratic. Here in North Carolina, the likelihood of Obama winning again is not high. (An interesting bell-weather will be Tuesday's upcoming primary, where a nasty "whack the queers" constitutional amendment embellishes the ballot like the star on the Xmas tree. So-called "gay marriage" is already illegal in NC. Now we're asked if we want to make it unconstitutional. A small ray of hope: in my little town there are some signs in yards saying "Another Family Against the Amendment," and "The Amendment is Bad for Children." Maybe that means this horrible idea will lose. Maybe that will mean there's more tolerance and good will left in the North Carolina electorate than one might think--surely a good thing for Mr. Obama, who represents those values in far greater degree than Mr. Romney.

The fact remains. America is an either/or democracy. One of the poles of that dichotomy now believes in destroying the country as we know it--destroying the compassion that Roosevelt and the various Democratic Administrations (and even in some ways the Nixon Administration) built into the on-going history we all are living. To have one of the two parties so radicalized, so destructive, so... well, lost. That is a very dangerous thing for all of us in an already dangerous world.

I hear rustling in the kennel. The Houdahenians awake. They know nothing of these matters, but we're down to the last can of cat food around here, and it's 8 miles to town.

[You can get the calendar and lots of other good stuff at]

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Houdahenianland, Chapter 2: They Sign the Lease

A few days back, Libby decided it was too frustrating to keep watch on the three critters while they searched for kitty-crevices in our cardboard box living room boundary fence. The living room is a log-walled room, which means no convenient flat edges for a panel of cardboard to line up with at more or less 90 degrees. There will always be a serrated line made up of the logs and the intervening chinking area--which is recessed. The logs themselves, being hand-hewn oak logs, are by no means plumb. The hewing happened back in 1867, and originally the interior was paneled with some kind of beaded board. How many cats have lived in this house since it enclosed thin air? A question for Saint Anselm perhaps. As I moved it piece by piece in 1979, shall we count only the kitties who've been in my care?

Anyways, Libby kitty-proofed the kitchen during one late night this past week, and now they have a room which we can safely leave them in, for a good while, when we have something else to do (such as write, watch tv, do the books, etc. Cooking we might need to move 'em to still another room--Libby's putting up card board panels even as we speak. Then we'll have two rooms out of five for the critters to simply live in. As thought they were, um... cats.

They're all eating, drinking, pooping, sleeping, playing. It worries us how fiercely they play, but so far we've seen no actual blood drawn. You could put out an eye with those whip-fast claws, I tell the gray one (he's now Gracie, and might be a she). Stop biting your sister I tell Fuzzy. Stop biting your brother I tell Wuzzy. Here's a ball to play with, stop trying to find out how to get behind the stove, I tell Wuzzy and Gracie. They go back to attacking each other's tails and ears, like I just warned them about. When Fuzzy climbs atop the kitty condo to just sit back from the action and observe, it annoys both Wuzzy and Gracie greatly--and they both attack him from opposite sides. Eventually, they all go to sleep for a while, the two black ones wrapped around each other, Gracie adjacent, on three straight-backed chairs with cushions sporting wonderfully dangling ties which have previously been of great interest to all.

It's Saturday. Laundry day. Some gardening perhaps. A summer meal, as it's 90 already. This morning Libby set up their first vet appointment for Monday morning. They'll get checked out, blood-tested, etc. Gracie had a bit of a cough last night--but we think it was some lint rather than something terrible--judging by her/his spirit and appetite today. Gawd knows we have some lint here and there for them to find. Like children, everything is interesting to taste.

Libby took the pictures. You'll of course note that as I'm wearing a Kyle Busch tee, we are using Lowes Building Supplies boxes to barricade the portions of the room(s) we'd rather our charges remain innocent of. We figure such product placement will succor JJ and might even produce a victory tomorrow at "Dega" for the big Four-Eight. We'll all be watching--all 5 of us! Gracie auditions for the role of the Chessie Cat, certainly the best American Railroad logo there ever was. Gracie is even the right color as the original model, although I have seen the logo with a black cat. Might be the moment for a name change.