Friday, December 29, 2023

Odds and ends - from dancing ladies to dancing daddies, and dogs, of course

So tonight I have been going through various Bookmarks and other saved posts and I'm finding some great stuff to share.
This month I saw two different cartoons based on the Matisse dancing ladies, of all things. The first is about folding a fitted sheet:
And the second is about scientific research, of all things:

Moving on, here's something I do all the time:
Continuing on, check out this whole thread, it's hilarious:

Saturday, December 23, 2023

Christmas traditions: 12 Days, Festivus, Messiah, and the oddest Christmas Special ever!

Time for an annual "traditions" post -- 

Twelve Days of Christmas:  


The Messiah:
 The New York Times writes Handel’s ‘Messiah’ Teaches Us a Surprising Lesson About Tradition:
...Fortunately, Handel’s “Messiah” is so popular that the ideological fashions of critics and performers cannot contain it. The work continues to be gleefully performed very much as it was in the days of Stokowski, even as the Handel and Haydn Society solemnly persists in its commitment to small ensembles, period instruments and other trappings of historical accuracy....
This seemingly inexhaustible variety of interpretations is possible because “Messiah” is sui generis: an unclassifiable hybrid of sacred art and theatrical revelry that cannot be subsumed neatly into any given school of performance, idiom or national tradition. This is why “Messiah” has succeeded in such a wide array of cultural contexts, including the TV special “It’s Christmastime Again, Charlie Brown” (1992), in which Marcie and Peppermint Patty attend a performance that sounds remarkably similar to the Stokowski version, as well as the Japanese animated TV series “Neon Genesis Evangelion” (from 1995 to 1996), in which the Somary recording plays over images of a teenage girl thrusting the spear of Longinus into a monstrous alien being.
“Messiah” is now the common property of the entire human race: a jewel in the crown of the Anglican cultural tradition that has become not only the source of recessional hymns for Catholics but also an indelible symbol of Christmas for millions of non-Christians. In the words of the oratorio’s first chorus, taken from the Book of Isaiah: “All flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.”
Years ago, I participated in a "sing-along Messiah" that was such great fun. This Opinion piece is right - the Messiah belongs to us all, even the Silent Monks.

Finally, this - 
The Oddest Christmas Special Ever - Bing Crosby and David Bowie:  
The story behind this Christmas Moment is stranger still -- Wipedia reports;
...The special's musical supervisors, Ian Fraser and Larry Grossman, originally intended the duo to record a straightforward rendition of "The Little Drummer Boy". However, Bowie balked at singing "Little Drummer Boy": "I hate this song. Is there something else I could sing?", Fraser recalled Bowie telling him. Scriptwriter Buz Kohan further stated that Bowie felt "Little Drummer Boy" "wasn't a good showcase for his voice". Startled, Fraser, Grossman, and Kohan found a piano in the studio's basement and wrote "Peace on Earth" as a counterpoint to "Little Drummer Boy" in just over an hour. Regarding the experience, Kohan said, "It all happened rather rapidly. I would say within an hour, we had it written and were able to present it to [Bowie] again." Crosby performed "Little Drummer Boy", while Bowie sang "Peace on Earth", which they reportedly performed after less than an hour of rehearsal. Kohan added that "Bing loved the challenge" of the arrangement, stating he "was able to transform himself without losing any of the Crosby-isms."...
Happy Festivus, everyone!

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Dogs, bruh - plus cats and owls and the rest of the barnyard

Here's some great dogs - plus cats and owls and the rest of the barnyard.

First, of course, dogs!
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Courage, sister!
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Sunday, December 17, 2023

Israel-Hamas War Update: what happens next?

I know Seymour Hersch has his flaws - a tendency toward grandiosity in his reporting -- but he has good sources and his column last night raises some good questions about the Israel-Hamas War that undoubtedly will dominate international discussions over the next weeks:
Thousands of Hamas fighters are now facing a deadly shootout with the Israeli army as the disastrous war their leaders triggered is in its tenth week. Now out of their tunnels, those men are trying to cope with the increasing winter chill and heavy rains. There is little shelter for them, or for the bedraggled surviving citizens of Gaza, from the elements and from Israeli bullets and bombs.
War is hell, too, for Israeli troops, who are on the hunt, now engaged in house-to-house and rubble-to-rubble searches for Hamas fighters, who will be far more willing to engage in one-on-one shootouts in the south of Gaza than in the earlier days of mass bombing in Gaza City. Future historians will make their judgment on the stunning ratio of dead Palestinians in Gaza to the Israeli combat dead. Israel’s military leaders now assess that the majority of Hamas fighters will be dead, will be captured, or will have deserted by the end of January. But then what? If the religious zealots who now dominate the government headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have a day-after plan, it is not known.
At least they're talking tonight about another ceasefire and hostage release:

Friday, December 15, 2023

Today's News: "being down 10 is a victory these days for the Liberals"

I got a chuckle out of Evan Scrimshaw's lead in his Substack yesterday: Abacus' Conservative Curveball Is There Life In The Liberals?:
It is a notable statement that being down 10 is a victory these days for the Liberals, but Abacus has the Tory lead down 9 poll to poll, so it is actually good news for a government that’s needed it for a while. It’s of course not the same thing as saying that the government is in good shape – a government that’s happy to be at 26% in Nanos and 27% in Abacus because the trendlines are good is not a government that is in a good spot in an absolute sense. Nor does any of this mean that Poilievre giving up more and more of his lead is an evitability.
But it is a decent endorsement of the idea that Poilievre will not be able to be a dogshit political leader and still win easily. Yes, the Liberals are troubled, yes the economy is bad, and yes the Liberals need a rate cut or 5 before the election. But there’s been an air of inevitability about the Tories imminent victory that hasn’t sat right, as if the election had already been won and lost, and all that needed to happen was the results to be relayed to the masses.
What he is talking about is the recent Abacus poll: And today this was happening: Scorch! Pow! Poilievre thought his polls were so good he could get away with anything he wanted. Like dissing Ukraine and calling it a "far-away foreign land".
Think again, PP:
And finally, this:
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Saturday, December 09, 2023

Weekend fun stuff: from The Beatles to more Cats v. Christmas Trees

This is the kind of thread that I used to find occasionally on Twitter and all of the comments were always just so funny. 
Glad to see this type of goofy stuff is on Threads now:
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Still some good stuff on Twitter/X too:

Wednesday, December 06, 2023

Well, here's more upsetting news

On the day that Canada remembers the Montreal Massacre, I am reading articles about the terrible sexual violence and rape that Hamas inflicted on Israeli men and women on Oct 7 -- I think it is shameful that it has taken two months for this violence to be called out and condemned. The New York Times writes Biden condemns sexual violence in the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks.
President Biden on Tuesday condemned the “unimaginable cruelty” of Hamas attackers who raped and mutilated women in Israel on Oct. 7, and he blamed the group’s refusal to release its remaining female hostages for the breakdown in cease-fire talks.
Speaking at a fund-raising event in Boston, Mr. Biden cited reports that Hamas fighters “used rape to terrorize women and girls” on Oct. 7, as they swept through Israeli towns and a music festival in the southern part of the country, killing more than 1,200 people, according to Israeli authorities.
“Over the past few weeks, survivors and witnesses of the attacks have shared the horrific accounts of unimaginable cruelty,” Mr. Biden told donors at the event at a Westin hotel. “Reports of women raped — repeatedly raped — and their bodies being mutilated while still alive — of women corpses being desecrated, Hamas terrorists inflicting as much pain and suffering on women and girls as possible and then murdering them.”
He added: “It is appalling.”...
...Mr. Biden also echoed comments made on Monday by Matt Miller, a State Department spokesman, who said that Hamas had “reneged” on an agreement to release all the women it was holding hostage, and that the group’s officials “were never able to provide a credible reason why.”
Hamas has said it considers the women to be soldiers. But President Biden said, “These are civilian women, mostly between the ages of 20 and 39,” adding, “Let me be crystal clear. Hamas’ refusal to release the remaining young women is what broke this deal and ended the pause in the fighting.”
On Monday, Mr. Miller said that “a number of people believe” that Hamas did not want to release the female hostages because of the stories they would tell about how they were treated.
For more, see several articles in the New York Times over the last couple of days. 
December 4: What We Know About Sexual Violence During the Oct. 7 Attacks on Israel Israel has accused Hamas of committing abuses against large numbers of women. Hamas denies the allegation By Jeffrey Gettleman, Adam Sella and Anat Schwartz \
December 6: Silence Is Violence — but Not When It Comes to Israeli Rape Victims column by Brett Stephens, which includes the stomach-turning testimonies heard at a UN Special Session conference this week organized by Sheryl Sandberg, Hillary Clinton and Kirsten Gillibrand 
Also see the article from Associated Press in the Globe and Mail New signs emerge of ‘widespread’ sexual crimes by Hamas, as Netanyahu alleges global indifference by Sam Mednick.

Saturday, December 02, 2023

Time to put up the tree!

First, Advent Calendars! To celebrate the season I created a new List of many of the people posting daily Advent Calendars posts on Twitter - click here to find it. It ranges from art to opera to fashion to the Walking Dead. 

Next, this is sweet: And now on to the funny stuff:
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Thursday, November 30, 2023

Today's News: From Trudeau v. Poilievre, to "effective altruism"

Well, well, well -- so Trudeau was right about India's responsibility for the murder of Canadian Hardeep Singh Nijjar. 
In his National Intelligence and Security Newsletter, Wesley Wark brings us up to date in tonight's post Murder Inc. New revelations about Indian government-directed assassinations
...This sordid tale adds further weighty credibility to the Canadian government’s public claim that there was Indian official involvement in the murder of Mr. Nijjar, a claim that the Indian government has strenuously denied. The Indian government response had a ring of protesting (way) too much. New Delhi then reacted by creating a freeze in diplomatic relations with Canada, expelling a large number of Canadian diplomats from India, suspending visa applications for a time, and suggesting Canada had failed to provide the Indian government with any material evidence of a supposed plot involving Mr. Nijjar.
In response to the unsealing of the US indictment, the Indian government has now pivoted to announce that it has created a “high level inquiry” into the matter. That is more of a concession than the Canadian government was able to obtain, but it also shifts the focus onto the higher plane of India-US relations....
Now I'm waiting for all the apologetic tweets from all the Canadian right-wingers who were so quick to take Trudeau to task for insulting poor Modi ...guys? ....I'm waiting... (crickets)

Monday, November 27, 2023

Well, here's some upsetting news

Hamas apparently doesn't know where at least 40 of the hostages are.
In his nightly Ukraine post at Balloon Juice, Adam Silverman is also keeping up with the latest news about the Israel-Hamas War and the hostages being held in Gaza. 
And the news is not good.
Under the terms of the truce, no Israeli men – of single or dual nationality – are to be released. Additionally, the only American-Israeli released today was Abigail Idan. The remaining eight, which is the current published estimate for American-Israelis being held, are still unaccounted for. I expect that Sinwar will claim that they cannot be located or will try to hold them as a final bargaining chip should all else fail. I do not expect they will be released.
Except we now know that Hamas DOES NOT have many more hostages to actually exchange! The Financial Times has the details:
...Efforts to extend a temporary truce between Israel and Hamas depend on the militant group locating dozens of women and children held hostage in Gaza by civilians and gangs, Qatar’s prime minister has said.
But Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani told the Financial Times that more than 40 other women and children were being kept captive in Gaza who were not believed to be held by Hamas
He said the truce could be extended if Hamas was able to use the pause in the conflict to locate those hostages.
“We don’t yet have any clear information how many they can find because . . . one of the purposes [of the pause] is they [Hamas] will have time to search for the rest of the missing people.”...
The estimates have been that there are between 70 and 100 Israeli women and children being held hostage in Gaza. If more than 40 of them are not in Hamas’s custody & Hamas doesn’t know where they are, then Hamas will run out of women and children hostages to exchange either tomorrow or Tuesday.
What happens then? The Israelis are going to go in hard. They are going to throw everything at Hamas. They are going flatten anything standing, bounce the rubble. The preferred course of action is to get as many of the women and children out first. But if Hamas cannot release any more after Tuesday, because they do not have them, cannot find them, or cannot get them from PIJ or the Gazan criminal gangs that have them, then they, like the men being held hostage, will be written off.[Emphasis mine]
Written off? 
OMG, this is what I have been afraid of for the last seven weeks - that the remaining hostages, close to 200 of them - will never be released. 

Saturday, November 25, 2023

"Conservative' means never having to say you're sorry

The stupid, it burns! 
Yesterday following that awful crash at the Niagara Falls border crossing, somebody in Pierre Poilievre's office was listening to Fox News when they jumped the gun by calling it a terrorist attack and saying it was all Biden's fault. 
Well, here in Canada we can't have that -- it must be all Trudeau's fault! 
So the CPC staff jumped the gun and fed the story to Poilievre. 
Who jumped the gun and called it a terrorist attack. Which turned out to be wrong, it was just a terrible accident. 
But of course, nobody in the Conservative party, including the leader, can ever accept responsibility for any error, no matter how trivial, by just saying "sorry, I made a mistake" or even using the Political Passive Aggressive tense of "a mistake was made". 
So if Poilievre can't blame Trudeau and can't blame the Liberals, he will of course blame the Canadian media. At his Routine Proceedings blog, Dale Smith picks it up from there - Roundup: Trying to falsely blame CTV
At his media availability yesterday, Pierre Poilievre was asked if it was responsible for him to declare the explosion on the Rainbow Bridge in Niagara Falls to be “terrorism” before anything was confirmed. And what did Poilievre do? True to form, he attacked the Canadian Press reporter asking the question (including lying about the substance of the corrections that a recent CP story made to a story about comments he had made), then lied about why he said “terrorism.” Poilievre claimed this was from CTV reports, and tried to get the CP reporter to try and denounce CTV. The problem was that CTV didn’t publish anything before Poilievre began his questions in QP. And what we do know is that Fox News was definitively calling it terrorism, as were several disinformation merchants who pose as journalists over Twitter. But rather than admit that these were his sources, Poilievre lied, continued to lie, and then post the video of him attacking the CP reporter to his followers, because right-wing populism has a huge hard-on/wide-on for putting people in their place (particularly if they’re vulnerable minorities or someone they suffer no repercussions for attacking, like media). 
And then things got stupid online, as Poilievre’s fans and apologists kept trying to “prove” that CTV was still the source, really, relying on screenshots that came from a different time zone. And at least two MPs shared these screenshots before they were called out and deleted them. 
I will say that between these lies, and the ones he has been telling about the Canada-Ukraine trade deal legislation, it seems to finally shaking up some legacy media outlets to actually start calling him out on them. Somewhat. Some outlets are still egregiously both-sidesing the lies, as they always do, but you had Power & Politics host David Cochrane finally interjecting in places saying “That wasn’t true,” or walking through the timeline of lies in the case of yesterday’s attempt to blame CTV. It’s not nearly enough, but it is a start, but we’ll see how long it can actually last. 

Maybe that is happening already:

Thursday, November 23, 2023

Dogs, bruh!


Post by @dogsarethefunniest
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Wednesday, November 22, 2023

"As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly"

Using the excuse of American Thanksgiving, I just need to post the funniest line ever said on television:

and here's the back-story:

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Today's fascinating stuff: from Saskatchewan Batman to outstanding truckers

Historian Craig Baird is doing more interesting AI stuff -- this one is from his series on The Provincial Batman: Apparently this isn't really from Campbell's. But it should have been!
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Monday, November 20, 2023

Surveying the Substacks: from the Wingnut Grievance Bubble to the imminent end of the baby boomer generation

I’ve written before about the Wingnut Grievance Bubble. it’s that enclosed feedback loop where lunatic fantasies, feverish delusions, nutty conspiracies, repugnant behavior and harebrained notions are amplified. these people watch themselves on Fox News all day long. whatever crackpot ideas rattle around in their heads are never challenged.
for example, inside the Wingnut Grievance Bubble, everyone knows that Joe Biden took bribes from China because everyone knows that Joe Biden took bribes from China. it’s doctrine. it’s tautology. it’s an article of faith. it goes unquestioned.
it doesn’t matter that there’s no evidence.
which is why, every time one of these nudnicks steps outside the Bubble and opens their mouth, they fall right the fuck on their stupid face.
This one hits close to home -- at Crushed By Margaret Cabourn-Smith, MCS writes Secretly Fat CW: Fat and fatphobia
...what happens when you call a woman “fat”:
“The accusation is so strong, it is still effective even if it has no basis in truth whatsoever. I have seen size 10 women being silenced by this line – as if they feel the accuser has somehow sensed that they secretly have a fat aura or will become fat later in life, and called them on it.”
The first time I read this I both gasped and cringed (gringed?), it hit so hard. Recently I read a piece by a fat activist where she mentioned that size (UK) 14 was where fatphobia kicked in and I realized the truth of it....

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Today's News: My List about the Israel-Hamas War

Credit: WarMapper

I have started a new Twitter List of people who have useful perspectives on this awful war -- I call it just "Israel-Hamas War" and you can sign up to follow it here: 
I wish Threads had a "list" function - I like Lists because it makes less likely I will miss newsworthy posts on specific topics from people I want to follow. Hopefully eventually Threads will add this. 
But in the meantime, I will just have to continue to use the twitter list functionality. 

Catching up on recent news stories:
First, here is some recent reporting about the Oct 7 attack, which seems to have been virtually forgotten: 
Matt Gurney: What I watched Hamas do The screams I heard on Monday weren't fake. The monsters at the door weren't actors in a lot of latex. These monsters were real. 
I view these clips with something of a trained eye, and noted quickly that the shootings are methodical and efficient. The attack force was well-drilled and organized. The killers are mostly task-oriented and focused. They had objectives and stuck to them. But that doesn't mean they weren't having the time of their lives. The National Post's Sabrina Maddeaux was there on Monday as well, and in her column about the briefing, she made a point of flagging something I'd noticed too — glee. Pleasure. Delight. Whooping cheers, selfies with the boys (carefully framed to put dead or captured Jews in the background), huge grins. The attacks were efficient, but not joyless. The Hamas terrorists are thrilled to be doing what they're doing.
The survivors in the Re’im shelter played dead for hours. Ms. Yosefzon was shot in the leg and her boyfriend in the arm. Their two other friends were dead. All the while, they could hear shooting and yelling in Arabic outside.
Eitan Halley, 28, a student, was drifting in and out of consciousness on the floor. He was full of shrapnel, and the fragments of someone else’s skull lay on his leg. Two of the friends he had arrived with had been killed. “I saw the face of death,” he said.
Reuters: Hunted by Hamas: 27 hours of slaughter and survival inside Israel’s Kibbutz Be’eri
The survivors, just beginning to process the nightmare they endured, spoke in the days after the attack. Many described how spouses, children or grandparents were killed by the Hamas gunmen who had invaded their homes. Some were shot dead, others burned alive. In some homes, entire families were slaughtered or kidnapped.
“It’s like a 9/11,” said kibbutz secretary Alon Pauker, referring to Al Qaeda’s 2001 attacks on New York and Washington, but with a difference: “You know everyone who died.”
Some of the survivors cried as they spoke, others were stoic. Some were enraged, their ire directed at the killers but also at Israel’s leaders, who they said had failed to fulfill their most fundamental duty – protecting them.
Like many Israelis, whose sense of security has been shattered by the attacks, they wanted to know how Hamas militants had so comprehensively breached Israel’s border defenses, and why the army they trusted had been so taken by surprise and taken so long to respond.
Anger at the government is intense. Some ministers who have tried to visit the injured in hospitals or displaced survivors have been berated and forced to leave.
The Israeli state “failed us totally,” said kibbutz secretary Pauker.
Washington Post Hamas envisioned deeper attacks, aiming to provoke an Israeli war 
Even if its current leadership is effectively destroyed, she said, Hamas and its followers will continue to regard Oct. 7 as a victory. That’s partly because the group unquestionably succeeded in focusing the world’s attention on the Palestinian conflict, she said.
“It’s the first time I can remember that Hamas has become so prominent on a global scale,” Katz said. “So many people have already forgotten Oct. 7 because Hamas immediately changed the discussion. It put the focus on Israel, not themselves. And that’s exactly what they wanted.”
Next, some analysis about public reactions and protests: 

Sunday, November 12, 2023

Oddities and funny stuff: from the Valeriepieris circle to a bull riding a motorcycle

First up, the Valeriepieris circle, which is sorta fascinating. Out of a total world population of 8 billion, there are 4.2 billion living in this circle.
And this is fascinating too:

Wednesday, November 08, 2023

Today's News: Ain't it the Truth!

Just a whole bunch of comeuppance news tonight. 

First, from Canada:
Scrimshaw has an interesting column about the recent "Trudeau is Toast!" polling: Comebacks, Challenges and the Connoisseur's Curse
...Poilievre has spent millions – which he has to spend, and good for him – on a relentlessly positive ad campaign. It’s Harper’s sweater vest, except with a bigger ad buy behind it and Poilievre’s kids are young enough to look cute in the B-roll.... The kids do look cute, and he looks normal.
It’s also not going to matter when the Liberals eventually go on air with an ad blitz of their own about crypto as a way to opt out of inflation and banning all vaccine mandates and all the other crank lunacy that Poilievre’s said. We see them trial ballooning the eventual TV spots with all these digital videos – they’ll find the one that works best and hit him with it, in time. Will it matter? It’ll probably blunt his rising favourables (up to 40% per Abacus, and the ascent coinciding with the ad blitz’s start), when it comes. But what will matter is how the economy is when the election’s called, and whether people come to believe that Poilievre will win.
Another two years of columns from everyone about how Trudeau’s dead and Poilievre’s inevitable will probably have the effect of hurting Poilievre....
I am afraid Trudeau isn't going to get another two years - I expect Poilievre and the entire CPC are trying every trick in the book to get Singh to abandon his agreement with Trudeau next spring -- but I expect the Liberals will be ready for that one, too.

Saturday, November 04, 2023

Today's News: Updates about the Israel-Hamas War

I think Israel is finally trying to inform the world about what it had gone through, and what it is trying to do - we're seeing more stories about what happened to Israelies on Oct 7, and what the IDF is now achieving in Gaza. 
Unsurprisingly, Israel is refusing to consider a cease-fire until the hostages are returned, placing the responsibility squarely on Hamas for endangering the safety of Palestinians in Gaza. 
Several articles I read this week provide nuance and detail on this war: 
 Reuters reporters Stephen Grey, Maayan Lubell and Ryan McNeill have written an outstanding article - Hunted by Hamas: 27 hours of slaughter and survival inside Israel’s Kibbutz Be’eri 
Malcolm Nance - HAMAS Needs Children to Die 
But the pro-Palestinian or anti-Israel marches around the world today are uninterested in nuance - just angry at Israel. 
There were massive pro-Palestinian marches today in Washington:

Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Halloween part deux

My brother just sent this to me - it is amazing!
In The Hall Of The Mountain King, by VoicePlay 

Happy Halloween!

Here's some to laugh at today: