Showing posts from November, 2012



"Soul searching" requires a soul

After the recent election, there were many reports in the media about how the Republican Party was completely gobsmacked, blind-sided by the election results. They really believed they were going to win and win big and couldn't understand how they didn't. So, there began a period of "soul searching." They were going to analyze why they lost and fix the problem. They lost because they were only able to appeal to one demographic - old white people. ( Full disclosure: I am one, but I'm an exception - and there are plenty of us old liberals. They didn't appeal to us .) They lost every other demographic in the country. Their base is angry old white men and there are fewer and fewer of them. If the Republicans cannot expand their appeal, their party will die along with its base, not unlike the Whigs before them. Some Republicans have sort of acknowledged this and have made half-hearted statements about how their party needs to embrace immigration reform and soft

Wordless Wednesday: A Nature moment - Sleepy Orange butterflies


A Sunless Sea by Anne Perry: A review

I have been a fan of Anne Perry's Victorian mysteries for at least twenty years and I've been reading the William Monk series for almost that long. So, by now, Monk and his wife Hester and their friend, the barrister Oliver Rathbone, as well as the coterie of people around them are well-known to me, old friends I might say. This is the 18th entry in the Monk series and I have faithfully read them all. Familiarity breeds...familiarity, in this case. I know very well the way Perry's plots work, and before I was halfway through this book, I had solved the mystery of who the murderer was, although I wasn't completely clear on the motive. But I read these books not so much for the mystery anymore, as for the depictions of the social milieu and Perry's exploration of the dark underbelly lying just beneath the surface of the strictly ordered world of Victorian society. This story takes place in the 1860s and at the heart of it is opium. In the mid-nineteenth century, op

Irony rules

Remember way, way back a few weeks ago when we learned what Mitt Romney really thought about 47 percent of his fellow Americans ? "Those people" who it was his job not to worry about? In retrospect, those uninhibited remarks that Romney made to a bunch of his billionaire and millionaire supporters in Boca Raton, Florida may have been the final nail in the coffin of his doomed presidential candidacy. Once Americans learned how he disdained them, it was very hard for them to warm up to him. So Romney lost the election.The final total of votes still hasn't been calculated, as some votes are still being counted, but today a significant and highly ironic milestone was reached. Today Romney's percentage of total votes dipped to 47.48%, while President Obama's stands at 50.8%. In other words, President Obama's rounded percentage is 51%; Mitt Romney's rounded percentage is - wait for it! - 47% . And irony rules the day.

Three silent beauties

American Painted Lady Pipevine Swallowtail Variegated Fritillary

Here's something cool

Here's something for all fans of Earth's beautiful natural satellite and it is really cool! This NASA animation shows the phases of our Moon for the entire year of 2013. As you watch the animation, you'll notice that the Moon seems to rock back and forth, tipping and tilting over the course of every month. That action is due to the Moon's orbit being elliptical and slightly tilted with respect to the Earth's equator. The motion is called   libration , and because of it we see the Moon from a slightly different angle each day There's a lot of information here and it helps to pause the animation from time to time when you first watch it in order to take it all in. The NASA website for the animation   has much more information and details about the video, and starting in 2013, the image of the Moon at the top will automatically change every hour to represent the actual view of the real Moon. For those of us who assiduously watch and follow the phases of

Garment of Shadows by Laurie R. King: A review

Morocco, 1924. Control of the country is divided between two European nations - Spain and France. But that control is slipping as a native revolt gains momentum. It is not only Spain and France that maintain an interest in Morocco. Germany has mining interests there and seeks to promote and protect those interests, and England, (or, at the time, the British Empire) by nefarious means, tries to guide events into pathways that will benefit its own foreign interests. At the center of the British efforts, in Laurie R. King's fictionalized telling of the events, is Mycroft Holmes and, of course, where Mycroft spins and weaves, his younger brother Sherlock lurks in the shadows. Sherlock Holmes and his young wife Mary Russell were already in the area in a continuation of the action which we saw in the last novel in this series, The Pirate King . They are participating in the filming of a motion picture about - yes - pirates. Sherlock breaks away from the company to pursue his own ad

Happy Thanksgiving!

I'm off to celebrate my very favorite holiday of the year. There's a lot to be thankful for this year. I hope you have a lot to be thankful for, too, and that your holiday is an especially good one.


A friend sent me this today. I guess it must be making its way around the internet. It gave me a chuckle. Maybe you'll find it amusing, too. (I especially like #3 and #14.) Winston Churchill allegedly loved paraprosdokians which are figures of speech  in which the latter part of a sentence or phrase is surprising or  unexpected; frequently humorous. Here are a few I've collected. 1. Where there's a will, I want to be in it. 2. The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it's still on my list. 3. Since light travels faster than sound, some people appear bright until you hear them speak. 4. If I agreed with you, we'd both be wrong. 5. We never really grow up, we only learn how to act in public. 6. War does not determine who is right - only who is left. 7. Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad. 8. They begin the evening news with 'Good Evening,' then proceed to  tell you why it isn&#

"It's tough being a Southern liberal."

Karen L. Cox, a history professor at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte, had an op-ed piece in The New York Times a couple of days ago that caught my attention. She had me with her first sentence: "It's tough being a Southern liberal."   As a Southern liberal who has lived most of her life surrounded, not to say overwhelmed, by a multitude of rabid conservatives, I know the truth of that sentence only too well. Cox was discussing the recent election results, of course, but she had an interesting point to make - a point that I had not seen made anywhere else. Many pundits analyzing the election have made much of the fact that although President Obama won the country, Romney won the former slave-holding states of the Confederacy, except for Virginia and Florida. In doing this, they opine that this section of the country is very different from the rest of the nation. Professor Cox reveals that her analysis proves just the opposite - that, in fact, the South very

Silent Sunday: The old Terlingua cemetery


In One Person by John Irving: A review

This book about a bisexual man and his multitudinous and varied sexual liaisons contains many of the themes of a John Irving novel - wrestling, the missing father, mentions of bears, and unconventional sex. Over the years, in his writing, Irving has explored human sexuality in all its many expressions and, here, he brings all those themes full circle as he asks his readers to accept that all of those expressions are legitimate and are merely a part of the human experience. Of all the Irving books I've read, this one reminded me most of The World According to Garp in its delineation of Irving's favorite themes. As the narrator of this story, Irving gives us William Abbott, Bill or Billy to most of his friends. This is Bill's story. He had grown up in a small Vermont town where sexual repression seemed a way of life. He attended a local all-boys school where all the boys - at least all the ones we get to know - seemed to be homosexual. Moreover, the town had a librar

Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan can't stop insulting voters

First it was Paul Ryan blaming the Republicans' loss on "urban" voters . Wonder who he could have been referring to? No doubt all those people who listen for "dog whistles" understood him very well. Of course, Ryan neglected to mention that his ticket  also lost predominately white and rural states like Iowa and New Hampshire, and underperformed in Midwestern states, but then the flimflam man has never lived in a reality-based state.  Speaking of the state where he does live, Wisconsin, he lost that, too, AND he lost his own home town !  Then along came Ryan's partner in losing, Mr. Romney. Speaking this week to donors to his campaign, he blamed the loss on President Obama giving "gifts" to various segments of voters . Here's just a snippet of his insulting remarks about "those people" who didn't vote for him; you know, that irresponsible 47 percent. Except it turned out to be 51 percent. With regards to the young people

Wordless Wednesday: The watcher


Will I have to self-deport?

It seems I may have to move after all. Texas, along with several other states, is petitioning the White House website to secede from the United States. Well, to be perfectly clear, it isn't Texas that is submitting the petition; it is about 64,000 particularly benighted Texans . And the truth is you could probably round up that many Texans to support most anything, and that is just another indictment of the educational system in this state. This particular action has gotten attention because the White House website rules indicate that if a petition has more than 25,000 signatures it requires a response. Even though equally benighted citizens in other states have sent in such petitions, apparently there aren't as many of them as there are in Texas so they haven't reached the 25,000 threshold. Once again Texas stands alone in its specialness. In this instance, even Rick Perry, who once floated the idea of secession , has distanced himself, releasing a statement to say th


Schadenfreude: n . Pleasure derived from the misfortune or discomfort of others. Schadenfreude is a big buzz word in liberal circles these days. Mostly it seems to be used by liberal scolds (of which there are plenty) telling us to pipe down, that we shouldn't gloat, that we shouldn't rub the right wingnuts' noses in their defeat. To which I reply, "Why not? They've certainly gotten plenty of glee from rubbing our noses in it over the years!" My intellectually superior companions at breakfast this morning laughed at me when I admitted that the word was new to me. I really didn't know the meaning of it until it started popping up over the last several days in the blogs and online media that I read and I had to look it up. I think that probably the reason I wasn't familiar with it was that throughout much of my life I've been on the receiving end of Schadenfreude. So, now, since I am a bleeding heart liberal, my heart is supposed to bleed

Thank you, veterans

Thank you to all veterans and to their families who also served and still serve. And thank you especially to my own favorite veteran. ...For all you did and still do.

Thank God it's over!

We've had a few days now to absorb and reflect on the news of Tuesday's election, and thank God it's over! The sense of satisfaction that many of us feel about the results has only deepened. One of the most mendacious campaigns for president in the history of the country was rejected by voters. Candidates for the senate who appealed to misogyny, racism, and magical economic thinking were mostly defeated. In the races for the House of Representatives, some of the worst of the worst ( I'm talking 'bout you Joe Walsh and Alan West! ) were defeated and others ( Michele Bachmann, Steve King, etc. ) had close calls and suffered scares which may bode well for the future. Even in Texas, the Republicans lost their super-majority in the state legislature and will no longer be able to ride roughshod over the objections of their opponents. It is very likely that except for the gerrymandering and the voter suppression efforts by Tea Party Republican state governments, the reject

Love Songs From a Shallow Grave by Colin Cotterill: A review

I am a big fan of Colin Cotterill's Dr. Siri Paiboun series. Dr. Siri is really one of the most charming characters in all of the mystery genre and I always enjoy reading about his adventures and absorbing his gentle wisdom and view of the world. That being said, I was disappointed in this particular book. In trying to analyze just why, I came to the conclusion that it was because it tried to do too much. These stories take place in 1970s Laos, just after their revolution, as the new socialist government was trying to find its footing. Across the border in Cambodia, a much darker tale of transition was taking place. The Killing Fields were in full production. The population and the culture of the country were being systematically destroyed by the Khmer Rouge. In this book, Cotterill attempts to address that tragedy along with the more mundane events of Vientiane, if serial murders can ever be described as mundane. The contrast between Cambodia - Kampuchea - and the more benign

The Beginner's Goodbye by Anne Tyler: A review

If it's Anne Tyler, we must be in Baltimore again.   This time she introduces us to a family publishing company, a small concern that mostly publishes vanity books. It has a line of "self-improvement" books called "The Beginner's..." which covers everything from cooking to you-name-it. One of the editors at the company is Aaron, the scion of the family. Aaron has a crippled right arm and leg and has had to deal with an older sister who feels the need to protect him and manage his life. Nandina is unmarried and lives in the family home. Aaron is married to Dorothy, a doctor who is very independent and outspoken. She is a plain, somewhat dumpy woman who is not interested in physical appearance or taking pains to make herself attractive. She is also not interested in taking care of Aaron or managing his life. Aaron adores her and they have a relatively happy marriage. Then one day, the unthinkable happens. Aaron and Dorothy are at home together and th

Wordless Wednesday: Big Bend vistas


Wonder what Molly would say about Romney? Here's a clue!

Home again! Just in time for the election. Well, actually, my election took place a couple of weeks ago. We voted before we left town for our trip to Big Bend National Park. A lot of people were voting that day. I think early voting is one of the best ideas to come along in a while in regard to our elections. Big Bend was wonderful and more about that later, but one of the best things about it was that it sort of insulated us from the last two weeks of hysterical reporting on the campaigns which is the stock-in-trade of much of our national media. We had only limited links to the outside world and those were easy to ignore, especially when there was so much amazing beauty around us. But re-linking myself to that outside world today, I came across a quote from Molly Ivins, possibly my all-time favorite Texan, outside of members of my family. The quote was from November 2003 and she was talking about her fellow Texan, George Bush, but, as I read it, I thought it could just as easil