Sunday: Hili dialogue (and Leon monologue)

Good morning on Sunday, October 20, 2019. Tomorrow I’m off to Chile, where I’ll spend a few days in Valparaiso before heading out of that port towards Patagonia, Antarctica, and, at the end, the Falkland Islands. I will be giving three lectures on a cruise (“The Fuegians, The Beagle, and Darwin,” “Science on Scott’s Terra Nova Expedition,” and “Evolutionary Lessons from Antarctic Animals”), and am looking forward to the trip immensely.

Posting will be reduced to a daily Hili dialogue (just the cat), which Matthew has volunteered to post. I’ll try to post from time to time on the ship, but I’m told internet is dicey, so don’t expect much. And I will, of course, be taking photos.

It’s National Brandied Fruit Day and National Eggo Day, celebrating that execrable frozen waffle. It’s also the Bahá’í holiday, Birth of the Bab, celebrating a forerunner of the Bahá’í faith, International Sloth Day (celebrating the animal, not the vice), and National Suspenders Day. (Why do people continue to wear suspenders when we have belts?) If you’re going to wear suspenders, wear these, which you can get on Amazon for a mere $19.95:

Stuff that happened on October 20 includes:

  • 1720 – Caribbean pirate Calico Jack is captured by the Royal Navy.
  • 1803 – The United States Senate ratifies the Louisiana Purchase.
  • 1935 – The Long March, a mammoth retreat undertaken by the armed forces of the Chinese Communist Party a year prior, ends.

The March lasted over a year and traversed at least 6000 km. Here’s the route:

  • 1944 – American general Douglas MacArthur fulfills his promise to return to the Philippines when he commands an Allied assault on the islands.
  • 1947 – The House Un-American Activities Committee begins its investigation into Communist infiltration of the Hollywood film industry, resulting in a blacklist that prevents some from working in the industry for years.
  • 1951 – The “Johnny Bright incident” occurs in Stillwater, Oklahoma.

Read the link; it tells how a star quarterback and halfback from Drake University was targeted onfield by Oklahoma A&M College—because of his race. Bright, a black man, was knocked unconscious three times in the game’s first seven minutes, and had his jaw broken. Bright nevertheless threw a touchdown pass before he had to leave the game, and later and went on to a great career in Canadian football. Oklahoma State University (formerly Oklahoma A&M) didn’t apologize until 2005, and by then Bright had been dead for 22 years. Here he is:

Letters uncovered two years ago reveal why Kennedy turned down the marriage proposal of her long-time friend Lord Harlech to marry Onassis instead.

  • 1973 – “Saturday Night Massacre”: United States President Richard Nixon fires U.S. Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus after they refuse to fire special prosecutor Archibald Cox, who is finally fired by Robert Bork.
  • 1973 – The Sydney Opera House is opened by Elizabeth II after 14 years of construction.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1620 – Aelbert Cuyp, Dutch painter (d. 1691)
  • 1790 – Patrick Matthew. Scottish farmer and biologist (d. 1874)

Matthew anticipated Darwin’s theory of selection in an appendix to his 1831 book, On Naval Timber and Arboriculture, and the resemblance is striking, but neither Darwin nor Wallace ever read that book and Matthew didn’t develop his theory, so the other two men get the credit. He even called it “the natural process of selection,” and here’s a bit:

THERE is a law universal in nature, tending to render every reproductive being the best possibly suited to its condition that its kind, or that organized matter, is susceptible of, which appears intended to model the physical and mental or instinctive powers, to their highest perfection, and to continue them so. This law sustains the lion in his strength, the hare in her swiftness, and the fox in his wiles. As Nature, in all her modifications of life, has a power of increase far beyond what is needed to supply the place of what falls by Time’s decay, those individuals who possess not the requisite strength, swiftness, hardihood, or cunning, fall prematurely without reproducing—either a prey to their natural devourers, or sinking under disease, generally induced by want of nourishment, their place being occupied by the more perfect of their own kind, who are pressing on the means of subsistence. The law of entail, necessary to hereditary nobility, is an outrage on this law of nature which she will not pass unavenged ….

It was indeed a precis of a kind of natural selection, but nobody paid any attention to it, and it was called to Darwin’s attention by Matthew himself after On the Origin had been published. In later editions of his book, Darwin gave Matthew credit for anticipating what Darwin saw as his greatest idea.

Rimbaud stopped writing at 21, and died at 37, probably of bone cancer. Here’s his grave in Charleville, France (“pray for him”):

  • 1874 – Charles Ives, American composer (d. 1954)
  • 1885 – Jelly Roll Morton, American pianist, composer, and bandleader (Red Hot Peppers and New Orleans Rhythm Kings) (d. 1941)
  • 1925 – Art Buchwald, American soldier and journalist (d. 2007)
  • 1927 – Joyce Brothers, American psychologist, author, and actress (d. 2013)
  • 1931 – Mickey Mantle, American baseball player and sportscaster (d. 1995)
  • 1936 – Bobby Seale, American activist, co-founded the Black Panther Party
  • 1950 – Tom Petty, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer (d. 2017)
  • 1951 – Ken Ham, Australian-American evangelist
  • 1964 – Kamala Harris, American lawyer and politician, 32nd Attorney General of California
  • 1971 – Snoop Dogg, American rapper, producer, and actor

Here’s Snoop on the October 15 Howard Stern show, relating that Dogg employs a man whose whole job is to roll blunts for the rapper. The professional blunt roller makes between $40,000 and $50,000 a year. What a job!

Those who shuffled off the mortal coil on October 20 include:

  • 1890 – Richard Francis Burton, English-Italian geographer and explorer (b. 1821)
  • 1926 – Eugene V. Debs, American union leader and politician (b. 1855)
  • 1936 – Anne Sullivan, American educator (b. 1866)
  • 1964 – Herbert Hoover, American engineer and politician, 31st President of the United States (b. 1874)
  • 1983 – Merle Travis, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (b. 1917)
  • 1994 – Burt Lancaster, American actor (b. 1913)
  • 2012 – Paul Kurtz, American philosopher and academic (b. 1925)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is watching her diet:

Hili: This grass is not very tasty.
A: So why are you eating it?
Hili: Because it’s healthy.
In Polish:
Hili: Ta trawa jest niesmaczna.
Ja: To czemu ją jesz?
Hili: Bo zdrowa.

And at the nearby site of Leon’s future home (which once again didn’t get built this year), the Dark Tabby kvetches:

Leon: I have to look after everything myself.
Malgorazata explains the difficulty of translation:
Well, there is a problem. Leon says that he has to look after everything with  his managerial eye but it’s a Polish idiom which, moreover, uses an old-fashioned word not really used in normal speech. It definitively is not “managerial” but it was the only one I could think of. “Look after” is not a good translation either. I feel defeated by this simple sentence.

In Polish: Wszystkiego muszę dopilnować gospodarskim okiem.


From The Cat House on the Kings (nb: First word should be “ever”):

From Amazing Things. So true–I have a box like this except I KNOW I’ll never use them again.

The Egyptians love their ducks:

There was a time earlier this year when museums and libraries were competing by putting their best ducks On Twitter. Here are a few competing with the Museum of English Rural Life:

From reader Barry, a duck that thinks it’s funny (second tweet). But it’s also a bit sad, since these are ducks in the market. Sound must be up for this one.

From Matthew Cobb. This has got to be one of the best put-downs of a troll ever. (Remember the British census that counted animals?)

These lenticular lenses are amazing. I don’t understand how the lower pencils appear whole when they turn the lens vertically:

Van Jones on Hillary Clinton’s smear of Tulsi Gabbard (and Jill Stein)

The Democratic race got even hotter this week when Hillary Clinton decide to pronounce Tulsi Gabbard a “Russian asset.”

As CNN reported, Clinton alleged that the Russians, using “sites and bots”, are grooming a female Democratic candidate, which must be Gabbard, for a third-party run. Gabbard, as is her wont, struck back:

And lo and behold, some sense from Marianne Williamson:

Now there’s no doubt who Clinton was referring to. As CNN reported:

Responding to Gabbard’s attacks, Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill said, “Divisive language filled with vitriol and conspiracy theories? Can’t imagine a better proof point than this.”
Umm. . . .Clinton started the fracas.
Asked earlier if the former secretary of state was referring to Gabbard in her comment, Merrill told CNN, “If the nesting doll fits.”
“This is not some outlandish claim. This is reality,” Merrill said. “If the Russian propaganda machine, both their state media and their bot and troll operations, is backing a candidate aligned with their interests, that is just a reality, it is not speculation.”

Below is a video of Van Jones, liberal commenter for CNN, arguing that Hillary Clinton is playing a “very dangerous game” by accusing Gabbard (and Jill Stein) of being “Russian assets.”  Jones argues, and I agree, that this is an unevidenced smear of Gabbard

Clinton, who is acting for all the world like Donald Trump, should either put up or shut up. Where’s her evidence that Gabbard is an “asset”? If Clinton has none, then she should apologize. But it’ll be a cold day in July when that happens.

Truly, I am baffled why Clinton’s mouthing off right now; I voted for her, and would again, but it’s stuff like this that made me hold my nose when I voted.

Ridiculous Offense of the Week

As if society couldn’t be any more censorious about things that aren’t hurtful, have a look at this HuffPo article about a “thoughtless use of a racial slur”. That could be bad, but when you read what actor Gina Rodriguez actually did, it’s ridiculous to cast opprobrium on her. (Click on the screenshot.) Rodriguez, by the way, is the American daughter of two parents who immigrated from Puerto Rico.

According to the Deeply Offender author Janel Martinez, here’s Rodriguez’s sin:

Actor Gina Rodriguez is no stranger to being taken to task for her anti-Black remarks. In an Instagram Story video on Tuesday, the “Jane the Virgin” star was seen getting her hair done while singing along to the Fugees song “Ready or Not.”

“I can do what you do … believe me,” Rodriguez rhymes along with Lauryn Hill’s lyrics. But instead of pausing while Hill says “nigga,” which is expected of non-Black hip-hop fans, Rodriguez goes for it.

Yes, that’s it. She sang a version of the “n-word,” because it was in the lyrics to the song. And she didn’t omit the word, an omission apparently “expected of non-Black hop-hop fans.”

I’m sorry, but chewing someone out for this is ridiculous. The word is in the lyrics, as it is in many hip-hop lyrics, and non-Blacks are supposed to pause rather than sing a lyric? I’m sorry, but I’m not having it, though I don’t sing along with hip-hop songs anyway. If the lyrics are offensive when a white person sings them, as part of a song meant to be sung, then they are offensive when a black person sings them, too.

I’m reminded here of what Grania often told me: if Blacks wanted the “n-word” gone, they should stop using it themselves. If they don’t, then I won’t take complaints seriously when a non-Black person says The Forbidden Word when singing along to hip-hop or rap. (Of course I don’t recommend that the word be used by anyone, especially non-Blacks, in normal discourse.)

Rodriguez even apologized for what she said—twice. But that wasn’t good enough. Her apology wasn’t accepted, and Martinez calls her out for other and equally risible attempts to “erase” Black Culture:

However, Rodriguez is no stranger to this education. In a September 2018 interview with her “Smallfoot” co-star Yara Shahidi, Rodriguez interrupted the interviewer, who was discussing Shahidi’s status as a role model for other young Black women, to say that Shahidi is an inspiration to “so many women,” not just Black women — minimizing Shahidi’s race. While Rodriguez emerged in this industry championing diversity, it’s clear that she prefers diverse narratives and roles that align with her own identity, rather than overall diversity.

This was not an “all lives matter” moment: Rodriguez was saying that a Black woman could inspire everyone. But that wasn’t good enough for the author, either: by saying that, Rodriguez was presumably favoring Hispanic diversity above  “overall diversity”. What is meant here, of course, is the diversity of having more Black people, not ethnic diversity of all sorts.

But wait! There’s still more offense:

[Rodriguez] favors white and mestizo (or mixed) representation in Latinx roles, at the expense of Black actors. When promotion for “Black Panther” began in 2017, Rodriguez tweeted, “Marvel and DC are killing it in inclusion and women, but where are the Latinos?! Asking for a friend…”

Not only did she call into question the significance of the first superhero movie featuring Black actors in all the leading roles, she ignored the two Afro Latinas who have starred in Marvel films: Tessa Thompson, who played Valkyrie in “Thor” and Zoe Saldana in “Guardians of The Galaxy.” Both also appeared in 2019′s box-office hit “Avengers: Endgame.” (Rodriguez has also not publicly recognized the groundbreaking character of Miles Morales, the Afro Latino Spider-Man in the award-winning “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.”)

Yet if an African-American said the same thing about a Latina/o/x movie, saying “where are the Black people?” that presumably would be okay.

Yes, we do have racial problems, and racial discrimination in this country. But if you constantly police people like this for racism, calling them out for their “anti-Blackness” when they’re either singing rap lyrics or promoting their own minority culture, it trivializes the real problems of inequity and of the legacy of slavery that still denies many people the opportunities they deserve.

The only good thing about this article is that, for once, the usually Woke readers of PuffHo struck back, calling out Martinez in various ways for her eagerness to find racism in every corner. There are many critical comments: here are four:

How did we get to this point in our culture where the color of a person’s skin matters not just more than their character, but is the main thing one has to consider? I’m pretty sure that if Dr. King were still alive, and was asked about something like this, he’d use expletives.

In the end, Rodriguez did no damage to anyone. But that’s never taken into account when demonizing the impure. There are a lot of Big Brothers out there, watching all the time.

Bret Weinstein on free will and moral responsibility

Bret Weinstein posted this short video on free will, and then, as often seems to be the case, he added on Twitter that it doesn’t really encapsulate his ideas.

At any rate, in the video Bret says that he accepts free will (without defining it—a necessary first step in any such discussion), and adds that evolution proves that “there’s a basis for free will to exist”.  (Do chipmunks and amoebas, then, have free will?) He notes that there are relatively trivial experiments one can run that demonstrate that we must have free will. Really? What are those experiments?

Bret further argues that when Sam Harris says that we don’t have free will, “he’s really talking about something else—it’s a misdefinition of free will.” Misdefinition? Sam (who does define his terms) is talking about libertarian free will: the mistaken feeling we have that we have agency and could have decided other than how we did.

The rest, about whether free will absolves us of moral responsibility, seems to have no connection with the issue of free will, except that Weinstein says that our “free will”, whatever he means by that, comes with “a hefty dose of moral responsibility.” I, of course, accept neither free will in the way Sam construes it, nor the idea that we are “morally responsible” (rather than just “responsible”) for our actions. The word “morally” adds nothing save the misconception that we could have made a choice that was either more or less moral, and that’s not true.

Weinstein’s semi-retraction and then call for a discussion is below. I’m on Sam’s side here, at least as far as I understand what he’s saying. I’m not quite sure what Weinstein is saying, but I think he really needs to write a book and explicate his ideas at length. This would fix his claims that neither his videos nor his statements (like here and here) don’t fully explain what he thinks.

There are just too many podcasts these days, and not enough books. I know people can listen when gardening or driving, but to me there’s nothing like a book for getting your teeth into ideas.

Curiously, the discussion above appears to be on “Christian Radio.”

Caturday felid triefecta: Adventure cats, residents of Japan’s “cat island” saved before typhoon,

Today’s trifecta—the last Caturday post for a while—includes a readers’ cat section featuring moggies from two readers.

First, the CBC has a featuring on Bodhi the Adventure Cat (click on screenshot), as well as a few other traveling moggies:

While most would opt for dogs for outdoor pursuits, this Canmore resident says cats are the perfect companion for hiking, camping and other fresh-air adventures.

“You can go out for the day and take them with you on adventures, or if it’s something a little more extreme, then they don’t mind sleeping all day,” Michelle Gagnon told the Calgary Eyeopener.

She says her cat, Bodhi, goes on hikes from anywhere between two to five kilometres all across the Rocky Mountains — including Ha Ling Peak and the East End of Mount Rundle.

Not only that, but her “adventure cat” also joins her on biking trips, paddle boarding and skiing.

Here’s Bodhi (a beautiful cat!) going skiing; sound up, please:

“[Bodhi] will walk up behind me in the snow and I say, ‘load up.’ And he runs up my leg and he sits on my shoulders and that’s his safe spot for when we’re hiking or skiing,” she said.

Although her one-year-old Maine Coon cat does get surprised looks from fellow hikers, she says he isn’t the only feline on the trails.

“There are other adventure cats out there now. There’s becoming a bit of an adventure cat community,” she said.

Bodhi in the mountains:

Here are two more adventure cats (click on screenshots to go to Instagram). I wonder if these are “influencer cats”:

Gagnon says you could train any cat to be like Bodhi, and that all it takes is patience and persistence.

“So the big thing with cats is if you ask them to do something, you have to follow through, otherwise you’ll never get there,” she said.

She has since created a Facebook page filled with tips so that other cat lovers can join in on the adventures.


Perhaps you were worried about what happened to the cats on Okishima, the Japanese “Cat Island”, loaded with moggies, when the typhoon hit? Well, all is well, at least according to this article from The World of Buzz:

With the news of Hagibis typhoon — the worst storm in 60 years hitting Japan yesterday (12 October), we were worried about the cats that reside on Okishima, the famous cat island.

Fortunately, netizens updated that the cats are being relocated to a safe place for a couple of days while the storms take place! It seemed like the Japanese government had taken safety measures for the cats, and they are being looked after for the time being.

The Japanese government! What a great government!


The Cats in - WORLD OF BUZZ

Photos of the relocation progress appeared after people began sharing about the rescue. Thanks to a compilation made on this Facebook post, many netizens were able to breathe a sigh of relief seeing that the cats weren’t neglected.


Finally, we have two readers, each with two cats, who sent in photographs. The first comes from Divy Figueroa, whom we’ve met before. She and her husband have two cats, Boba and Jango. Here’s a photo of an antagonistic interaction:

I saw that Dracula kitty picture you posted earlier, and I remembered a similar picture I took of the kitties playing. I happened to get that moment when Boba pounced on Jango. And though he looks to be in scared and in pain, Jango didn’t even make a sound. We laughed for days with that picture.

And from readers Laurie and Gethyn, who adopted two feral black kittens from Feline Friends London.

Here’s Alcestis Jerry (yes, named after me!)

And Octavia Sadie:

h/t: Diana

Readers’ wildlife photos

Tomorrow morning is the last time you’ll be able to send in readers’ wildlife photos or photos of yourself (“photos of readers”). Today we have a multi-photographer contribution, beginning with another chipmunk photo by Diana MacPherson. Everyone’s captions are indented.

Probably the last Eastern chipmunk [Tamias striatus] of the season. This one was startled & stayed perfectly still like that for several minutes with his little foot tucked up.
From Barbara Wilson:
This is my favorite recent photo.  The American bullfrog (Lithobates catesbeianus) seems coated in armor that consists of members of the family Araceae.  Araceae includes skunk cabbages, several house plants like Dieffenbachia, taro, and the huge, stinky corpse flower (Amorphophallus titanum) as well as the world’s smallest plants.  The very tiniest plants, about a millimeter long, are mostly Wolffia borealis with some Wolffia columbiana.  Most of the little disks are the widespread common duckweed (Lemna minor).  The biggest disk, at the waterline below the ear, is the greater duckweed, (Spirodela polyrhiza).  These floating plants all have a fast rate of reproduction and are sometimes grown to feed livestock or humans.  This photo was taken at Boyle Reservoir, southern Klamath County, Oregon, on 6 September 2019.

And three shots from Keith Cook, who lives in Oz:

First the visitor, non breeding Royal Spoonbill, (Kotuku- Ngutupapa), Platalea regia:

Pied Stilt (Poaka), Himantopus himantopus, are locals and are here all year round.

Last but not least to brighten your northern autumn days.

Saturday: Hili dialogue

This will be the last Saturday and Caturday posts for a while, though Matthew has promised to post the Hili dialogues (just the dialogue itself) every day when I’m gone. With luck, Matthew and Greg may weigh in on other matters from time to time.

At any rate, good morning on Saturday, October 19, 2019: National Seafood Bisque Day.  It’s also Dress Like a Dork Day, Evaluate Your Life Day (best to skip that), International Gin and Tonic Day, Rainforest Day and, in Albania, Mother Teresa Day, a public holiday honoring the old charlatan.

Stuff that happened on October 19 includes:

  • 1469 – Ferdinand II of Aragon marries Isabella I of Castile, a marriage that paves the way to the unification of Aragon and Castile into a single country, Spain.
  • 1512 – Martin Luther becomes a doctor of theology.
  • 1789 – John Jay is sworn in as the first Chief Justice of the United States.
  • 1900 – Max Planck discovers Planck’s law of black-body radiation.

Here’s the first page of Planck’s paper, which could be said to have marked the beginning of quantum mechanics:

  • 1943 – Streptomycin, the first antibiotic remedy for tuberculosis, is isolated by researchers at Rutgers University.

This is another case of a supervisor getting credit for a graduate student’s discovery. As Wikipedia notes,

Streptomycin was first isolated on October 19, 1943, by Albert Schatz, a PhD student in the laboratory of Selman Abraham Waksman at Rutgers University in a research project funded by Merck and Co.  Waksman and his laboratory staff discovered several antibiotics, including actinomycin, clavacin, streptothricin, streptomycin, grisein, neomycin, fradicin, candicidin, and candidin. Of these, streptomycin and neomycin found extensive application in the treatment of numerous infectious diseases. Streptomycin was the first antibiotic cure for tuberculosis (TB). In 1952 Waksman was the recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in recognition “for his discovery of streptomycin, the first antibiotic active against tuberculosis”.  Waksman was later accused of playing down the role of Schatz who did the work under his supervision

Waksman got the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1952, Schatz got the shaft, and even sued Waksman (I don’t know what became of the suit). Later inquiries revealed that Schatz did deserve some credit, but he had to be satisfied with the Rutgers Medal, a far cry from the Nobel.

  • 1950 – Korean War: The Battle of Pyongyang ends in a United Nations victory. Hours later, the Chinese Army begins crossing the border into Korea.
  • 1960 – The United States imposes a near-total trade embargo against Cuba.
  • 1973 – President Nixon rejects an Appeals Court decision that he turn over the Watergate tapes.
  • 1974 – Niue becomes a self-governing colony of New Zealand.

Niue, of course, is where the beloved migrating mallard Trevor the Duck lived, and then met his end at the hand (or mouth) of a d*g. His sad demise is recounted in this BBC article (click on screenshot). I fault the people of Niue for not sufficiently protecting Trevor.

  • 1987 – Black Monday: The Dow Jones Industrial Average falls by 22%, 508 points.
  • 2003 – Mother Teresa is beatified by Pope John Paul II. [See above.]

Notables born on this day include:

Brown was known as “Three-Fingered Brown” because he had lost bits of two fingers in a farm accident as a child. Here’s his pitching hand and his grip. Despite the injury, he was an excellent pitcher with a good curve ball, and pitched in the major leagues until he was nearly 40.

  • 1882 – Umberto Boccioni, Italian painter and sculptor (d. 1916)
  • 1895 – Lewis Mumford, American historian, sociologist, and philosopher (d. 1990)
  • 1910 – Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, Indian-American astrophysicist, astronomer, and mathematician, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1995)
  • 1929 – Lewis Wolpert, South African-English biologist, author, and academic
  • 1944 – Peter Tosh, Jamaican singer-songwriter and guitarist (d. 1987)
  • 1967 – Amy Carter, American illustrator and activist
  • 1983 – Cara Santa Maria, American neuroscientist and blogger

Notables who snuffed it on October 19 were few, and include:

  • 1745 – Jonathan Swift, Irish satirist and essayist (b. 1667)
  • 1937 – Ernest Rutherford, New Zealand-English physicist and chemist, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1871)
  • 1950 – Edna St. Vincent Millay, American poet and playwright (b. 1892)
  • 1988 – Son House, American singer and guitarist (b. 1902)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, the Editor needs her beauty sleep:

A: Hili, are you here?
Hili: Yes, but I’m very busy.
A: What are you doing?
Hili: I’m resting.

Photo by Sarah Lawson

In Polish:
Ja: Hili, jesteś tu?
Hili: Tak, ale jestem bardzo zajęta.
Ja: A co robisz?
Hili: Wypoczywam.

From Stash Krod:

From In Otter News:


And from Merilee, a great piece of satire:

From Masih Alinejad, Iranian human rights activist (in exile of course) and campaigner against compulsory hijab. Now the government of Iran is trying to punish her via punishing her brother. Sound up to hear her singing (also illegal) to her then non-incarcerated brother:

A tweet from reader Barry, who adds, “Not your favorite animal, but this is pretty cool. And you have to admit: A cat would just sit and watch.”

Yes, I’ll admit that, but a cat couldn’t save you even if it wanted to. Besides, that’s clearly a trained d*g!

Two tweets from Heather Hastie.  Two cats that can’t quite mother properly:

And a quartet of tweets from Matthew Cobb. First, an adorable sleepy duck:

Yes, we destroyed our only native parrot, though I’m not sure about the male ‘dying of grief’:

Here’s a stuffed and mounted specimen from Chicago’s Field Museum:

Matthew tweeted a pair of courting jumping spiders:

Sound up for this honker!


Photos of readers

Today we have another Man and his Toy: reader Garry VanGelderen. Garry’s notes are indented:

Here is a picture of me sitting in the cockpit of my sailboat. This is my summer residence. Marina at Gore Bay on Manitoulin Island, Ontario, Canada

I do go out sailing frequently in the North Channell of Lake Huron. The boat is a Westerly32 named ‘Andantino’.

Kid describes sounds coming from his parents’ room

I’m not sure whether those who put this on YouTube were thinking clearly, but it’s pretty funny.  Still, the interlocutors of this little kid shouldn’t have been egging him on; after all they surely knew what was gong on.  Still, ten to one the parents go buy a television set immediately!

New Pew survey shows that Americans are rapidly becoming less Christian and more secular

The Pew Organization conducted surveys for their Religious Landscape Studies in 2007 and 2014, assessing the religiosity, non-religiosity, beliefs, and churchgoing habits of Americans. They continued these surveys last year and this year, though on a more restricted scale. Nevertheless, the new Pew Survey, whose summary you can see by clicking on the screenshot below (full pdf here), heartens me, substantiating my theory (which is not mine alone) that America is becoming less religious all the time. What surprises me, as you can see in the headline below, is that the decline in the last 12 years is so fast. 

I’ll give some salient data and graphs below. First, the take-home message from the report (my emphasis):

The religious landscape of the United States continues to change at a rapid clip. In Pew Research Center telephone surveys conducted in 2018 and 2019, 65% of American adults describe themselves as Christians when asked about their religion, down 12 percentage points over the past decade. Meanwhile, the religiously unaffiliated share of the population, consisting of people who describe their religious identity as atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular,” now stands at 26%, up from 17% in 2009.

Both Protestantism and Catholicism are experiencing losses of population share. Currently, 43% of U.S. adults identify with Protestantism, down from 51% in 2009. And one-in-five adults (20%) are Catholic, down from 23% in 2009. Meanwhile, all subsets of the religiously unaffiliated population – a group also known as religious “nones” – have seen their numbers swell. Self-described atheists now account for 4% of U.S. adults, up modestly but significantly from 2% in 2009; agnostics make up 5% of U.S. adults, up from 3% a decade ago; and 17% of Americans now describe their religion as “nothing in particular,” up from 12% in 2009. Members of non-Christian religions also have grown modestly as a share of the adult population.

I’m lumping together the atheists, agnostics, and “nothings in particulars” as “nonbelievers,” and that group has risen 9% in 9 years. While self-described atheists are at only 4%, it’s still a statistically significant rise from 2% ten years ago, and of course we know how reluctant Americans are in telephone polls like these to say they are atheists. I suspect the real number of people who don’t accept the existence of a god is much higher. Here are two plots from the survey:

I suspect, in the graph above, that “nothing in particular” pretty much means “nonreligious”, and that’s gone up 5% in just 10 years.

As in Europe, church attendance in the U.S. is dropping pretty rapidly:

The graph below shows that the secularization results not so much from people changing their minds as they age, but that each cohort becomes successively less religious than the last. Nonbelief in America spreads over the bodies of dead believers.

There are other results as well, none of them giving hope to people who think religion in America is here to stay. The “nones” have increased from 39 million in 2009 to 68 million in 2018/2019, while Christians have dropped from 178 million to 167 million over the same period. Non-Christians (Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, etc.) have increased by only 2% over the same period—from 5% to 7%.

Women remain more religious than men, but both sexes are growing less religious. Republicans are still more Christian than are Democrats (79% versus 55% respectively), but both have dropped significantly in religiosity (Republicans were 86% Christian in 2009, Democrats 72%). 34% of Democrats are unaffiliated, while only 16% of Republicans are. As expected, the GOP could be termed “God’s Own Party.”

Finally, Black and Hispanic Democrats remain significantly more religious than White Democrats, while—the only “bad news” in the survey—there’s been no decline in the proportion of Protestants who describe themselves as “born again or evangelical” (about 60%, higher than I would have thought).

Overall, then the news is good—but only if you’re a nonbeliever.


h/t: cesar