Monday: Hili Dialogue & bonus Leon monologue

by Grania

Good morning all, to those at work and to those nursing food hangovers. Jerry will be back on the road again today, I am sure he will update us regularly, and he already has some pieces ready to be published here on WEIT because he doesn’t really understand the concept of “holiday”.

Hili, who as we know, is the hardworking editor of Listy is earning her keep. Kind of.

Hili: A typo!
A: Where?
Hili: Thrid line, second word.

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In Polish:

Hili: Literówka!
Ja: Gdzie?
Hili: Trzeci wiersz, drugie słowo.

Possibly her staff are gently poking fun at her. It’s tough being a feline editor.

In other news, Leon had an adventure. Małgorzata writes:

Someone left a window opened and Leon escaped. He was away for three hours and his humans were out of their minds with worry. But he came back all by himself. He is safely at home now with all doors and windows secured against any possible devious cat’s tricks.

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The unrepentant Leon

Leon: I don’t understand what all the fuss is about. I just went out to see what’s happening in the town.

The Cobra

I’ve previously published a photo and some information on Stephen Barnard’s Shelby Cobra, but yesterday we got to take it out for a spin. That thing sure can accelerate, and it’s loud and has five forward gears. The tailpipe runs along the passenger’s side, so you have to be careful not to burn yourself when getting out:

Stephen in the car:

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A Cobra selfie:

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What I was told: the engine is a 427 cubic inch, Ford 351 Windsor, bored and stroked (shades of the Beach Boys!). I’m also told it’s “naturally aspirated” with a four-barrel carburetor, and has 535 horsepower. It could probably go up to 160 miles per hour, but we didn’t take it up nearly that high.

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Here’s the owl!

That was an easy one: the owl was at nine-o’clock: about 60% of the distance from the center of the photo to the edge of the tree. Here’s a moderate close-up, and also a photo of a juvenile (undoubtedly its offspring) in the same tree:
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Brother Tayler’s Sunday Sermon: Conservatives’ reaction to the gay marriage ruling

The 5-4 Supreme Court decision in favor of gay marriage was too close for my taste: I predicted 6-3. Too many decisions are being decided by that 5-4 vote—a serious sign of political polarization in the highest court of the U.S. And the problem is that the conservative justices show no sign of retiring, while many of the liberal ones are old. At least Hillary will be around to fill any vacancies.

In this week’s Secular Sermon, brother Tayler discusses the reaction to the court’s ruling in his Salon piece, “Let’s kick God off the Court: Marriage isn’t the only place where the law has been infected by religion.” It’s larded with telling quotes, from the Justices and others. Thomas’s and Scalia’s opinions were particularly invidious:

The dissenters, led by Justice John Roberts, presented their counter-argument.  Roberts worried that “stealing this issue from the people will for many cast a cloud over same-sex marriage, making a dramatic social change that much more difficult to accept.”

. . . Justice Samuel Alito announced that, “Today’s decision shows that decades of attempts to restrain this Court’s abuse of its authority have failed.”

Justice Antonin Scalia, a hard-line Roman Catholic, joined Roberts in objecting to the ruling.  In his telling, “The Supreme Court of the United States has descended from the disciplined legal reasoning of John Marshall and Joseph Story to the mystical aphorisms of the fortune cookie.”  Well, to a rationalist, talismanic reverence for his cult’s holy book looks a lot like belief in fortune cookies.  No one should take either seriously.

Justice Clarence Thomas bizarrely reasoned that “human dignity cannot be taken away by the government” – even by, say, chattel bondage.  “Slaves,” he held, “did not lose their dignity (any more than they lost their humanity) because the government allowed them to be enslaved . . . .  The government cannot bestow dignity, and it cannot take it away.”  This from a justice so faith-deranged he isn’t sure the First Amendment should do what it is supposed to do – prevent the government from establishing an official religion.

Seriously? The government can neither bestow nor remove dignity? What was the 1964 Civil Rights Act all about? Thomas has always been a lost cause, but, following Scalia, I see that the man has either totally lost it or hid his religious delusions much better earlier in his term. As for Alito, I’m not sure why he considers this an “abuse of authority”. Marriage is, in the U.S. a matter of law, and the law must ultimately adjudicate who can get married. That it did so in the right way, despite the split vote, is a testimony on how fast public opinion can change when what is right is so obvious.

To those who oppose gay marriage, I say this: Is it really hurting you? What does an opponent have to lose if two homosexuals get married? I suppose they could say it could lead to the dissolution of society, but that’s clearly not the case.

No, the ultimate objection must be a religious one—or a feeling that gay marriage is somehow “unnatural.” But it’s unconscionable to run America based on religious dictates, and we’ve progressed beyond the point where we should equate naturalness with rightness. To my mind, a consequentialist one, “rightness” is largely (à la Sam Harris) what increases the well being of society. And clearly allowing people who love each other to have the same marriage rights as everyone else is good for society.

Tayler goes on, recounting the predictably negative reactions of religionists and the sour-grapes journalism by people like Rod Dreher, and reaches an eminently sane conclusion:

What ultimately transpires through all the Christian objections to the Supreme Court’s decision is their mean-spiritedness.  Recourse to rancid old myths and “divine” injunctions that would be laughable were they not so pernicious only makes our days on Earth less pleasant, less livable.  Some context: In some 5 billion years, our sun is destined to die in a supernova, which will incinerate whatever life remains on our planet.  In the extremely improbable event that we humans still exist then, we will have evolved beyond anything recognizable as human today; evolution never stops, never slows.  Our habits, customs, and laws need to evolve too.

 

Spot the great horned owl

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Readers’ wildlife photographs

It’s Arachnid Day! From reader Ken Phelps, we have “a couple of little spiders.”

Misumena vatia, Goldenrod Spider:
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From the Salticidae family [jumping spiders; reader IDs welcome]:
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Odyssey Interlude: a little slice of heaven

Here’s a panoramic photo I took at sunrise (I discovered that feature on my iPhone) of Stephen Barnard’s place, facing the back. Notice Deets in the center, with whom I played a vigorous game of Frisbee. He also tried to HERD me: when I tried to run, he’d circle in front of me and growl!

To see this place in all its glory, click on the photo (twice, with an interval between) to enlarge it.

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Sunday: Hili dialogue

I arrived in Idaho yesterday at 4:30 pm—after a grueling twelve-hour drive through northern Colorado and much of Utah. And indeed, Stephen Barnard’s place is paradise: backed by a gorgeous stream with views of the mountains, and teeming with wildlife. Today we’re going on a canoe trip, followed by a pig roast held by his fishing club.  I have played Frisbee with Deets the Border Collie (there’s another border collie here, too: an aging one); I have gone for a ride in the Shelby Cobra, an amazing car that accelerates fast and LOUD; and I saw four Great Horned Owls (two adults and their offspring), the first such species I’ve seen in the wild. I have photos, will take more, and will put them up soon, but the borders of this post are too small to contain them all. Tomorrow I’m off to Nevada (not far away) and then to Davis, California and the Bay area. Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili shows three of her prime traits: her imperiousness, her desire for noms, and her cuteness, which lets her get away with the first two!

A: Hili, breakfast.
Hili: Fill the bowls. I’ll be there in a minute.

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In Polish:
Ja: Hili, śniadanie.
Hili: Napełnij miseczki, ja zaraz przyjdę.

 

The Great PCC Odyssey 3

by Grania

As Jerry mentioned this morning, the Great Trek is underway again.

I just received this photo from him, he has left Aspen behind and is now in Utah.

Click twice to achieve maximum enbiggerdness.

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Let us all hope that he manages to do better than Stephen Fry in Utah.

First you were all like “whoa”, and we were like “whoa”, and you were like “whoa…”

by Grania

Here’s a  cool video of a sea turtle with a GoPro mounted on its shell swimming on the Great Barrier reef. It’s part of a new conservation project on The Great Barrier Reef by WWF Australia.

The video description says:

To find out more about the level of pollution affecting turtles within the Great Barrier Reef, WWF is working on innovative project in Queensland with the support of our partners Banrock Station Wines Environmental Trust, James Cook University, The University of Queensland, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, State and Commonwealth government agencies, Indigenous rangers and local community groups.

As part of that project, the opportunity arose to very carefully fit a small GoPro camera to a turtle, to better understand the post-release behaviour of tagged green turtles. The result is this amazing video.

It’s very relaxing and beautiful to watch. Or you can pretend you are Nemo’s dad.

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