Panda discovers ice

I always love seeing animals encounter stuff in the environment that they’ve never experienced before. The classic genre of this is “a cat’s first time in the snow.” But this is even better: it’s the Toronto Zoo’s teenage panda, Jia Panpan, born in October of last year, encountering ice for the first time. (It’s said to be part of his “enrichment program”.)  Mr. Panpan makes himself a snowcone about 1 minute in:

h/t: Michael

Here are the klipspringers!



To see where they are, go below the fold (click “read more”).

Read More »

Bigotry walks among us

Even if you think that some of the tactics of the Black Lives Matter movement aren’t optimal for their goals, remember that there is still a point to it all. Racism is alive and well in the U.S. While overt racism is no longer permissible in polite society, it still can go underground and be used to terrorize others.

Here’s a video filmed by Mia Frias-Russell in Campbellsburg, Indiana on Wednesday. She’s alone and scared, and who wouldn’t be to wake up and find this?

h/t: KP

Kabul attack on Shiite Hazara kills 61

The violence isn’t even close to over in Afghanistan. 84 people were killed in Nice by Islamist terrorism, now another 61 Afghanis, members of the Hazara minority, were killed by bombs in Kabul, and another 207 were injured. ISIS claims responsibility.  As CNN reports:

The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack through its Aamaq news agency. The purported claim was reported by SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors militant websites. It says two of the group’s fighters detonated explosive belts and were targeting a “gathering of Shiites.”

The thousands-strong march through Kabul on Saturday was demanding that “a major regional electric power line be routed through their impoverished home province,” as the AP reports. Government officials had rebuffed their calls, saying that rerouting the line “would cost millions and delay the badly needed project by years.”

. . . Hazaras make up most of Afghanistan’s Shiite minority – and the Islamic State group considers Shiite Muslims apostates.

The Taliban has killed thousands of Hazaras, as NPR has reported. It condemned this attack and denied involvement, according to the BBC.

There’s a video on the CNN site that shows the aftermath of the bombing, but since it shows the dead and wounded, you can go to the site yourself to see it.  Multiple 268 by the average number of people in each person’s network of friends and loved ones. That’s the toll of grief. Or multiply what you felt when you lost a loved one, and multiply it by 61. That’s the titer of misery—beyond, of course, that of the lives that were lost, who will never feel anything again.

As the BBC reported, a freelancer working for its Afghan service said “blood and body parts were everywhere, with debris strewn around.”

The Times spoke with Muhammed Ali, a protester “whose clothes were covered in blood.” He said “he had personally loaded dozens of dead bodies into trucks.”

“People were going toward a prayer break when two explosions happened – one near the truck where speeches were given,” Ali told the Times.

It is the height of insanity for anybody to kill in the name of religion, but it’s even more ridiculous when you see that these two groups are both Muslims, but kill each other because they differ in who they see as the rightful heirs of Mohammed. And I can’t imagine that if we had a world without religion, those people would be dead.  I’m not, of course, saying that in a religion-free world we’d see no murders. People kill for all sorts of reasons, and all manner of ideologies. But is it too much to claim that removing the ideologies would lessen the deaths?

UPDATE: Reader Barry contributed this:

Ricky Gervais


Why I hate the PuffHo

Why do I hate PuffHo? Let me count the ways. One is that they don’t even pretend to look at the news objectively, so all their “news” articles are really opinion pieces. They have an agenda, presumably dictated by Arianna, and they hew to it religiously (word intended, since one of their briefs is to extol faiths of every kind). At least the New York Times, also a Left-leaning paper, tries to present the news objectively, clearly making a distinction between reporting and opinion (usually confined to their Op-Ed page).

But the headlines in this morning’s PuffHo really infuriated me. Look at the bit I’ve circled below:

Screen Shot 2016-07-23 at 10.06.20 AM

This is virtue-signaling, pure and simple. “Look,” say the privileged post-college white women who edit the rag (see below), “We’re calling out the Democrats for racism!” Are these people unaware that the Democratic Party just ran a black candidate for President twice in a row, and brought him to victory? Are they unaware that now we’re doing it with the first woman Presidential candidate from either major party, and one who will likely win? No, that’s not enough: they have to start an #ElectionsSoWhite campaign.

What, I wonder, do they hope to accomplish by this? Are they trying to make black people feel bad about the slate, or show that African-Americans have once again been marginalized? If so, why didn’t they support Ben Carson as a Republican candidate? Or are they trying to make white people feel guilty that neither the Presidential or Vice-Presidential candidates are people of color? What, in other words, do they hope to accomplish by this?

I don’t think they know, really. All they know is that they have to say something bad about whiteness to demonstrate their ideological purity. It’s reprehensible.

Party of diversity? Give me a break. Here, have a gander at the Editors of Diversity, posted by Liz Heron, one of the editors:

Yeah, I notice that there are no black people there—among 14 editors shown. That’s a lot less diversity than the two-person Democratic ticket, which is gender-balanced with a woman at the top.

Candidate contest: Big Fail (but I declare a winner anyway)

On August 8 of last year, I put up a contest asking readers to name three Presidential and Vice-Presidential candidates, to wit:

“I’m having this contest now because it’s early on and many things are uncertain—remember the 2008 election? Some surprises are certainly in store. So I have a two-part question, and the winner is the first person who guesses both answers correctly (one entry per person). The contest will remain open for a while—until June 30, 2016, a few weeks before both parties’ conventions.  But since the first correct guesser gets the prize, it’s in your interest to enter early. And I’m curious about the readers’ views.

  • Name both the Democratic presidential candidate (not a hard one at this point) AND the vice-presidential candidate.
  • Name the Republican presidential candidate. 

Given that the Republican’s presidential pick is so uncertain, I won’t ask you to name the GOP vice-presidential candidate.”

The prize was an audiobook version (signed) of Faith Versus Fact.

Well, as of yesterday the answers are known: Hillary Clinton, Virginian Senator Tim Kaine, and Donald Trump, respectively.  Was there a winner among the 92 comments and 35 guesses?

No. First, I was amused by this comment:

Screen Shot 2016-07-23 at 6.56.59 AM

Yes, I guess we all thought that was not a possibility. But one person did guess that Trump would be the nominee; the vast majority of the rest picked Jeb Bush (two thought Trump would run as an independent). NOBODY guessed the Democratic VP except for one reader, who, sadly, got the Republican nominee wrong:

Screen Shot 2016-07-23 at 7.02.47 AM

Looking at just the picks for Democratic presidential candidates, 35 people voted, with 25 correctly choosing Hillary Clinton and 10 choosing others, including Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

Among the 35 people picking GOP candidates, only one correctly picked Trump. The vast majority of the others selected Jeb Bush, with a few giving the nod to Marco Rubio.

So, it was a BIG FAIL. But that’s not surprising given the difficulty of picking a Democratic VP candidate as well as adjudicating the clown show that became the Republican nomination.

So as to not make everybody feel bad, I am going to award a prize anyway, to GEORGE, who deserves it for picking Tim Kaine as the Democratic VP candidate.

George, email me to claim your prize. You can choose between either a signed book or a signed audiobook of Faith Versus Fact, and with a cat drawn in/on it if you so desire.

Caturday felid trifecta: Insouciant cat, Maru and Hana, rock-climbing cats

This cat meme, which purrfectly expresses the solipsism of the felid, comes from The Purrfect Feline Page:


I don’t know why I’ve stopped looking at Maru and Hana videos, but that was a mistake. Not only are they cute, but the title are adorable as well. I present to you the latest video, “The canned box is jam-packed with Maru & Hana”.  I think poor Hana has the worst real estate here, as she’s being dorsoventrally compressed by the tubby Maru:


Climbing Magazine presents an article on “9 Crag Cats“: cats who do rock-climbing. Actually, it looks as if most of them stay at the base while their staff does the climbing, but a few do venture up the rocks:


Climber cat Millie seconds the West Slabs (5.5) up Mt. Olympus in Utah. @Pechanga


Rigby has climbed in three states at just seven months old. He got his first taste of lowering/rappelling here at Kootenai Canyon in Montana. @mchellefelix


Halo loves being outdoors, especially with his cat mama, Rachel Mitchell. As the feline crusher of Cooper’s Rock, this leash-trained cat knows how to spend a fall afternoon in West Virginia. @sugaraeray

Most of the cats, however, just go along to enjoy the outdoors, like this one:



And, as lagniappe, a tw**t with a video:

h/t: Moto, John S., Matthew Cobb

Spot the klipspringer!

Just in case you don’t know what a klipspringer is, it’s a small African antelope (Oreotragus oreotragus) that looks like this when it’s visible:


Cute, no? Well, reader Michelle de Villiers sent in a photo that has not one, but two klipspringers hidden in it. It was taken in Kruger National Park. Can you spot them? Answer in a few hours. (Click photo to enlarge.)

As usual, if you spot it you can laud yourself in the comments, but please don’t reveal where the animals are!



Saturday: Hili dialogue

It’s Saturday, July 23, and the “heat dome” over Chicago, which is broiling much of the U.S., is predicted to abate. It’s National Hot Dog Day in the U.S., so go out and have a Chicago-style dog: the best of all possible dogs. It is an all-beef dog in a natural casing and resting happily on a Rosen’s poppy-seed bun, dressed with mustard, onions, relish, hot peppers, tomatoes, celery salt, and a pickle spear. Ordering ketchup on a dog is a felony in Chicago—as it should be everywhere.

On this day in history, in 1903, the Ford Motor Company sold its first car. Exactly 39 years later, the Treblinka concentration camp was opened in Poland.

Notables born on this day include Raymond Chandler (1888), Justice Anthony Kennedy (1936), and Philip Seymour Hoffman (1967, died 2014). Those who died on this day include Ulysses S. Grant (1885), D. W. Griffith (1948), Eudora Welty (2001), Amy Winehouse (2011 ♥), and Sally Ride (2012). Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili attacked from her hiding behind a wicker chair:

Hili: How did you know I was here?
A: Somebody sank her claws into my back.
In Polish:
Hili: Skąd wiedziałeś, że ja tu jestem?
Ja: Bo ktoś mi wbijał pazury w plecy.

We have special lagniappe today. The heat continues to sap all of us in the central U.S. This photo was sent by reader Blue in Iowa:

Screen Shot 2016-07-22 at 10.00.35 AM

And in southern Poland, Leon is taking intermittent hikes as he and his staff search for a house.

Leon: Another 500 meters up the hill and then I will walk by myself.


I sent my godcat Gus a present for his third birthday. It’s a Canadian license plate shaped like a polar bear, but it also looks like Gus. For a while several decades ago, both the Northwest Territories and Manitoba had polar bear-shaped license plates (God love the Canadians!), and I bought one on eBay for Gus. See the resemblance?


Finally, this picture was taken exactly two years ago yesterday. I like it (as does Hili), so I’m putting it up again.


The wolf genes are calling

In an expansive mood, I’ll actually put up a d*g video today. This one, sent by reader Anne-Marie (who owns a German shepherd), shows the wolf genes in a d*g suddenly activated by an environmental stimulus:


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