HuffPost’s repeated smears of Joe Biden

HuffPost, of course, is not a source of news, but an Authoritarian Leftist rag where opinion masquerades as news. Their agenda is so transparent that you can see it simply by scanning the “headlines.”

Right now the site is busy smearing every Democratic candidate save Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, and it especially hates Joe Biden. Well, I’ll tell you this: I think Biden would make a decent President, a gazillion times better than the moron who currently holds the office, and I’d vote for him over Trump any day. But I don’t yet have a favorite Democratic candidate, as it’s way too early.

But HuffPost (is it in secret thrall to Trump?) is trying to divide Democrats by backing only a few candidates and denigrating the rest. To that end, it tries to turn readers against Biden with articles like the one below, whose headline implies that Biden was either a racist or was friendly to segregationists. But read the damn article (click on screenshot):

Here’s what Biden was “guilty” of:

Speaking at a New York City hotel, Biden recalled his working relationships with the late Sens. James Eastland (D-Miss.) and Herman Talmadge (D-Ga.), who served under a much more uneven Democratic party platform. Both men fiercely opposed desegregation.

“I know the new New Left tells me that I’m ― this is old-fashioned,” Biden said, according to a pool report. “Well guess what? If we can’t reach a consensus in our system, what happens? It encourages and demands the abuse of power by a president. That’s what it does.”

Biden, who was elected to the Senate in 1973, told the crowd how Eastland used to call him “son,” rather than “boy,” and labelled Talmadge “one of the meanest guys I ever knew.”

“Well guess what? At least there was some civility,” Biden continued. “We got things done. We didn’t agree on much of anything. We got things done. We got it finished. But today, you look at the other side and you’re the enemy. Not the opposition, the enemy. We don’t talk to each other anymore.”

. . . He has previously pointed to his successful working relationship with Eastland as proof that people with opposing views can work together in Washington. Yet Eastland and Talmadge held views that would likely shock many present-day Democrats.

This is slander, though it’s not illegal slander. Biden is not a racist, and yes, both Republicans and Democrats have demonized each other to the point where cooperation is not possible. We all know that, regardless of whom you consider most to blame. (I think it’s mostly Republicans, because while we have many centrist Democrats, centrist Republicans are very scarce.)

Recall that Lyndon Johnson courted a number of segregationist Senators to get the Civil Rights Act of 1964 passed. He rubbed elbows with many racists to enact the greatest anti-segregationist law of our generation.

The point of the Senate and House is to make laws, and to do that you have to work with people who often hold reprehensible views. If you refused to do that, nothing would get done.

And HuffPost can shove their opinions, generated by millennials who get paid virtually nothing to parade their vacuity.


Hawaii: Day 2

Yesterday included a visit to the Koko Crater Botanical Garden, a plethora of lovely plants residing in a volcanic crater. Wikipedia describes it like this:

The Koko Crater Botanical Garden (60 acres) is a botanical garden located within the Koko Crater (Koko Head) on the eastern end of Oahu, Hawaii. It was given the dual title of the Charles M. Wills Cactus Garden by the Honolulu Department of Parks and Recreation, in recognition of his contributions to the garden, in 1966.

The garden is part of the Honolulu Botanical Gardens, and first established in 1958. Its hot, dry climate is suitable for Plumeria and Bougainvillea cultivars in the outer crater, kiawe (Prosopis pallida) and koa haole (Leucaena leucocephala) trees, and four major collections organized by region (Africa, the Americas, Hawaii, and Pacifica). Other collections include adeniums, alluaudias, aloes, baobabs, cacti, euphorbias, palms, and sansevierias, as well as a native grove of wiliwili trees (Erythrina sandwicensis). A loop trail (2 miles) runs through the collections. They have about 500 trees and 200 species of trees.

Before we begin, though, I have to show my three favorite animals on Oahu. The first is Fergus the Duck, who lives in a marina not far from where I’m staying. Fergus (and his many duck friends) get fed a big meal of Mazuri waterfowl food (for adults, not for ducklings) at least once a day. They all live on an island in the marina, and so are safe from predators.

Fergus always comes to his name, and always leads the other ducks to the edge of the marina where they get fed. He seems to be a mallard, but with at least some domesticated genes. His name, of course, comes from the Yeats poem, and from the fact that he’s always the lead duck:

And my local Hawaiian cat bros, Loki and Pi. The view of Pi is what I get every morning when I rise at 4:30 a.m. so you can have something to read!

Pi keeps me company for hours as I write:

On to the botanical garden. I do not know much about plants, but will identify the ones I remember. The rest I leave to the readers.

The crater walls rise all around the garden, and there’s a circular loop trail of two miles inside:

Right now the Plumeria are in bloom all over Oahu, and are especially resplendent in the crater. Their fallen blooms litter the ground.


A screwpine, Pandanus tectorius, native to Southeast Asia, Australia, and the Pacific. The stilt roots are unusual; its fruit is eaten while the leaves are used as flavoring in cakes and jams (I even have a bar of Pandanus soap that is wonderfully fragrant).

You tell me what this is, ’cause I don’t know:

A golden barrel cactus, Echinocactus grusonii, endemic to Mexico:

What is this?

And I don’t know this bird, either. Readers will have to help with the IDs for this post:

The yellow hibiscus, the official state flower of Hawaii:

And a red one:

Now here’s a wierd plant, the salacious “sausage tree”, Kigelia africana, a monospecific genus native to Africa. Their weird fruits, which give the tree its name, can be up to 60 cm (2 feet) long and weigh as much as 12 kg (26 pounds).

The fruit “sausages” are used for medicines and as containers.

What kind of animals ate that fruit?

I didn’t see a flower on the tree (there were some wilted ones on the ground), but here’s what one looks like (from Wikipedia):

Pachypodium rutenberianum, a weird plant native to Madagascar:

This may be another specimen of the species, but you tell me.

I’m not sure what tree this is, but it was replete with red flowers that attracted birds, and several small birds (unidentified) made their nests in it, probably because the thorns offer some protection from predators like mongooses (mongeese?):


A baobob tree, Adansonia sp., with its bulbous trunk making it look like one of the world’s strangest-looking trees. It’s native to Africa, Australia, Madagascar, and Arabia:

This lovely flowering tree, Bougainvilla, I think, is in bloom all over the island:

The obligatory vanity photo, courtesy of Nilou:

Hiking around in the sun makes you hungry, and so for lunch we repaired to an all-you-can eat shabu-shabu restaurant in the ritzy Ala Moana mall, Shabuya. For less than twenty bucks you can get all the meat, veggies, seafood (clams, mussels, shrimp) that you can cook in your personal hotpot, along with appetizers like gyoza and fresh noodles, including soba and udon. We took full advantage of the place, ordering many trays of meat, which you can cook in a lovely broth that doubles as a soup on the side.

The meats are two cuts of pork and two of beef; we made repeated orders of the beef at the extreme right:

Cooking away in the hot pot:

Conveniently, the best shave ice place I know, Uncle Clay’s House of Pure Aloha, was in the same mall, and so we had dessert. A nice shave ice is the best ending to a hotpot meal.

There’s a better, sitdown Uncle Clay’s in Aina Haina, which is also cheaper.

Strawberry shave ice:

I deviated from my usual practice of having the matcha (green tea) shave ice with azuki beans and mochi, trying instead the taro malasada (Hawaiian/Portuguese spherical donut) cut in half and filled with gourmet Tahitian vanilla ice cream.

And so endeth another day in Paradise.



Here’s the mongoose!

Did you spot it in this morning’s post? Here’s the reveal and an enlargement.



Jesus ‘n’ Mo ‘n’ moderation

Today’s Jesus and Mo strip, called “way,” came with the email message “Moderate, but not *too* moderate.” And on the page itself one can see this:

Also, what is “moderate” about believing so strongly in something which is almost certainly not true?

Unfortunately, Mohamed’s argument self destructs in the end.



A farewell to Anna the Human

Anna Mueller’s namesake, the hen Anna Mallard, is still with us, along with her eight healthy ducklings, but Human Anna is leaving tomorrow to take a job at Indiana University in Bloomington. I doubt that she’ll return for the rest of the summer, and so the ducks she tended will grow, and then depart, and she won’t see that. But I will keep her updated with doings at Botany Pond.

Anna was glad that we named the new mallard hen after her, and expressed her happiness on Twitter, as you see below. (Note that Twitter considers some of my duck pictures to be “sensitive content”, which is part of the site’s algorithmic stupidity. I think it comes from my having tweeted Jesus and Mo cartoons!)

So Anna came over to Botany Pond last Saturday, graduation day at the U of C, so we could give the ducks and ducklings their last supper from the two of us. She also brought organic strawberries and blueberries as a special treat for the waterfowl.

The ducks turned up their bills at the strawberries, but did go after the blueberries, though they had a hard time processing them. I think the fruits were too hard to squash with their bills. Here we see one of Katie’s teenaged ducklings going after a blueberry, trying to squash it, dropping it, dabbling it back up, and finally losing it in the pond (or so it seems to me):

Anna feeding the eight-duckling brood of her namesake:

It made both her and the ducks happy:

She didn’t neglect Katie’s brood, either. Here she feeds what she called the “Angry Teenagers”, because they got pissed off when we ran out of food at mealtime. You can see the expensive but uneaten strawberries on the bank.

And Anna took the obligatory selfies with me, Anna’s brood and Katie’s brood. I was unshaven and haggard after a long weekend of work, but I’ll be spiffy when I travel the day after writing this. Katie et al. are in the background:

Some graduates posing by Botany Pond (a favorite post-graduation picture spot), and there are some tiny ducklings among the water lilies that are invisible.

So farewell to Dr. Mueller, and best of luck in her new job! She was a superb duck farmer, and we will miss her. I only hope that she finds some new ducks to tend Bloomington.

Duck reports will be fewer in the next three weeks as I’ll be in Hawaii, but our two Duck Farmers promise to provide me with regular reports, and I’ll pass those on to you.

Wednesday: Hili dialogue

At least for this week we’ll continue with Grania’s format for the dialogue, as well as using only the tweets she sent me.  As she is not around to add the Hili dialogue to my pre-written posts, Hili dialogues (and all other posts) will be several hours late until I return to Chicago.

So it’s Wednesday, June 19, 2019, and National Martini Day. If I want a “sophisticated” drink, I’ll have a martini, or rather a Gibson, which is a martini with a pickled onion instead of an olive. And I’ll go very light on the vermouth:

It’s Juneteenth as well, which has been celebrated, especially by the African-American community, for over 100 years, as it commemorates the announcment in Texas of the abolition of slavery throughout the U.S.—on June 19, 1865. The event that marks this is given in Wikipedia:

On June 18, Union Army General Gordon Granger arrived at Galveston Island with 2,000 federal troops to occupy Texas on behalf of the federal government. The following day, standing on the balcony of Galveston’s Ashton Villa, Granger read aloud the contents of “General Order No. 3”, announcing the total emancipation of those held as slaves:

The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor. The freedmen are advised to remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.

Other events on this day include (all bullet points taken from Wikipedia):

  • 325 – The original Nicene Creed was adopted at the First Council of Nicaea.
  • 1269 – King Louis IX of France orders all Jews found in public without an identifying yellow badge to be fined ten livres of silver.
  • 1862 – The U.S. Congress prohibits slavery in United States territories, nullifying Dred Scott v. Sandford.
  • 1865 – Over two years after the Emancipation Proclamation, slaves in Galveston, Texas, United States, are finally informed of their freedom. The anniversary is still officially celebrated in Texas and 41 other contiguous states as Juneteenth.
  • 1953 – Cold War: Julius and Ethel Rosenberg are executed at Sing Sing, in New York.
  • 1964 – The Civil Rights Act of 1964 is approved after surviving an 83-day filibuster in the United States Senate.
  • 1991 – The Soviet occupation of Hungary ends.
  • 2012 – WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange requested asylum in London’s Ecuadorian Embassy for fear of extradition to the US after publication of previously classified documents including footage of civilian killings by the US army.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1623 – Blaise Pascal, French mathematician and physicist (d. 1662)
  • 1896 – Wallis Simpson, American wife of Edward VIII (d. 1986)
  • 1902 – Guy Lombardo, Canadian-American violinist and bandleader (d. 1977)
  • 1903 – Lou Gehrig, American baseball player (d. 1941)
  • 1914 – Lester Flatt, American bluegrass singer-songwriter, guitarist, and mandolin player (d. 1979)
  • 1945 – Aung San Suu Kyi, Burmese politician, Nobel Prize laureate
  • 1947 – Salman Rushdie, Indian-English novelist and essayist
  • 1963 – Laura Ingraham, American radio host and author

Those who died on June 19 include:

  • 1953 – Ethel Rosenberg, American spy (b. 1915)
  • 1953 – Julius Rosenberg, American spy (b. 1918)

Both were executed for espionage.  And, finally,

  • 2018 – Koko, western lowland gorilla and user of American Sign Language (b. 1971)

Koko is the only non-human individual whose death I’ve seen listed on a Wikipedia “date page”. There may of course be more.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Andrzej and Hili have a Serious Discussion about evolution. I think Andrzej is right.

Hili: Is memory an adaptation?
A: It’s possible, because without it we wouldn’t be able to learn, and learning is crucial for
In Polish:
Hili: Czy pamięć jest adaptacją?
Ja: Raczej tak, bez niej nie moglibyśmy się uczyć, a uczenie się jest konieczne dla przetrwania.

Finally, these are the very last tweets that Grania sent me. There will be no more from her, and it’s just so sad. I’ll present them without comment.

Grania loved the Twitter site Emergency Kittens, and also sent me one or two kitten tweets when I was sad or depressed. And here is the last one from her:

Spot the mongoose!

Yesterday, at the Koko Crater Botanical Garden, we spotted a mongoose darting furtively through the underbrush. Mongooses (mongeese?) aren’t native to Hawaii, but were introduced in a disasterous plan to control rodents. As reports:

The mongooses found in Hawai’i are native to India and were originally introduced to Hawai’i Island in 1883 by the sugar industry to control rats in sugarcane fields on Maui, Moloka’i and O’ahu. The introduction of mongoose to Hawaii with the intent to control rats was misguided, because while rodents make up a large portion of the mongooses’ diet, the their substantial negative impact on other desirable birds, insects, and animals outweighs their minor impact on rat. Mongoose are now widespread on all of the main Hawaiian islands except for Lanaʻi and Kauaʻi, where there are no known populations. Mongooses can live in both wet and dry conditions including gardens, grasslands, and forests.

Here’s one. Can you spot it? (Click to enlarge.) I would rate this as “fairly easy”. Answer at noon Chicago time.

Now: WEIT with 60K subscribers

I just noticed, at 5:10 Chicago time, that we had attained this goal:

Technically, it’s 60.001, since I’m following it, too, but I don’t count. Over 10 years, this means about 6,000 subscribers a year. I can’t hope for that pace to maintain itself, but if it does, in 7 more years (if I’m still alive), we’ll reach my dream goal of 100,000 subscribers. Then I can retire and raise ducks.

Oops. . . I just noticed it went back down to 59,999. Who’s the miscreant who unsubscribed?

Acorn woodpeckers defend their larder

Reader Michael sent this National Geographic video about acorn woodpeckers (Melanerpes formicivorus) and a larder tree near the Grand Canyon. As I suspected, they drill each hole to fit a specific acorn (how else could the food remain securely wedged?), but then how do they drill a hole for a specific acorn without having it in their mouth? This is a mystery that, I hope, readers will solve.

At any rate, you can see they cooperatively guard the food supply (are the birds related?), and you can see them driving off a marauding squirrel.

Hawaii Day 1: Sea turtles, cats, and noms

I have arrived, and yesterday spent my first full day on Oahu. It was a good day, too, greeting my favorite cat, seeing green sea turtles haul themselves out of the surf to bask in the sand on the island’s North Shore, and having a great Hawaiian plate lunch. Here’s the drill.

I was greeted by my favorite cat, Pi, a rescue gray Persian who’s been shaved down because of the heat:

He looks a bit like Grumpy Cat, or rather, the oatmeal flack Wilford Brimley, but Pi is a real sweetheart. I love him to bits.

Wilford Brimley:

After breakfast (a rare bagel and lox for me), we headed for Laniākea Beach, famous as a spot on Hawaii’s North Shore where Hawaiian green sea turtles haul themselves out of the surf to bask on the beach. We were lucky enough to see two of them engage in this endearing activity.

Here’s the location of the trip, but instead of taking the “middle road” to the north, we drove east to the road along the island’s east (windward) coast and then around to Laniakea:

The shore road is gorgeous, and, in the morning, is not too crowded with tourists. Along the way is the famous island called Mokolii, but better known as “Chinaman’s Hat” (don’t judge me; I didn’t name it that):

The beach was already crowded when we arrived by 10:30, but we found a parking spot, got our snorkel gear (I did a wee bit of snorkeling, though the fish were sparse), and headed to the beach. Here it is, and a lovely beach it is, too:

When we saw these signs we knew we were on the right track:

The Hawaiian green sea turtle is just a local population of the endangered green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas), which lives and feeds (on algae, seaweed and jellyfish) in Hawaii, but breed, I was told, in some “sub-aleutian islands” about 500 miles to the north. They attain reproductive maturity at about 25 years old, and can live up to 100 years.

During the breeding period, they lay several clutches of about 100 eggs each. Given this, and that they can reproduce about every other year for at least 25 years, and add to that the fact that, in a stable population, each female will leave only two reproductive adults, you can see that the mortality rate is high: well over 99%.

The turtle watchers (volunteers who keep people away from the beached and swimming turtles, and kudos to them), told us that they tend to come ashore at about noon. We laid out our towels and waited. Turtles hadn’t shown up for the past few days, but we lucked out.

Sure enough, about noon a juvenile turtle (they told us it was probably a female, 10-15 years old) hauled itself slowly and painfully out of the water and onto the beach. A sequence:

Can you spot the turtle off the beach?

Here it is!

Using its flippers (what Steve Gould would call an exapatation), it hauled itself slowly and painfully onto the beach, stopping above the wave level:

They have such beautiful eyes, which gave rise to the name of this one (see below):

Researchers recognize the turtles by the pattern of scales around their eyes, which is unique, though some turtles have been microchipped to study their migration. The Turtle Guardians have signs for some of the most frequently-visiting animals, and so this one was Maka Nui:

Finally, it rests, closes its eyes, and soaks up the sun:

Here are three videos of the hauling-out:

Of course the tourists and beachgoers gather round, but are kept away from the turtle by an orange rope with a radius of about ten feet, adhering to regulations:

As we left, another juvenile female came ashore:

Snorkeling, sunning, and photographing turtles makes you hungry, and fortunately we were in one of the best Hawaiian plate-lunch places on Oahu, the Waihole Poi Factory, which makes its own fresh poi. Here’s the place, which, as you can see, is unprepossessing. But what treats come from within!

Lunch: kalua pig (the Hawaiian version of barbecue), laulau with chicken wrapped in taro leaves, fresh poi, lomi-lomi salmon (lower right: raw salmon mixed with tomato and onions, and a white hunk of haupia (coconut gelatin).

If you’re on the east side of the island, don’t miss the Waihole Poi Factory!

Self aggrandizing photos: me snorkeling at the top (middle bottom), and photographing the turtle (photos by Nilou):