It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
I read yesterday that Mrs. Bush refused all medical intervention except bourbon. There’s bravery in that. She was a formidable old lady. That’s all I’ve got to say. Open thread!
My sister’s dog, Kuma, had to be put down the other day after a rather aggressive cancer. She’s just devastated, and I thought I would share some pictures. I only met him a few times (she lives in Connecticut), but he was a sweet boy although he hogged the god damned couch and drooled like no one’s business.
I asked Annie for some action pics, but the simple fact is there are none- he lived to sleep. AND I AM NOT JUDGING.
Every time my mother visited Annie, when she came home her back hurt for several days because Kuma insisted on sleeping with her. Big galoot. RIP, Kuma.
Okay, it’s not an owl, it’s an oriole. It was sketched by extremely talented lurker Triplet, who used one of the oriole photos I posted this weekend to draw it. Beautiful job, Triplet!
I was on a rare weeknight out with a friend this evening, eating Thai food and drinking sake. So I missed the news. Looks like Conor Lamb won narrowly, which is fantastic!
On a more somber note, physicist Stephen Hawking has died, and on Pi Day, no less. What a remarkable man he was, and what an amazing life he led. Rest in peace.
As I’ve mentioned in comments, we cut the cable cord a while back. I got Sling TV, so I have CNN but no MSNBC.
That sucks on a night like this, where I’d like to watch election coverage without being subjected to obnoxious wingnuts. I know MSNBC gives a platform to some idiots, but it really is worse on CNN.
Anyhoo, open thread!
He was much more than Frasier’s dad, but here’s a clip from his favorite episode of that series. Open thread.
Letter to The Oregonian, published February 1, 2017:
A recent letter in The Oregonian compares a politician’s claim to tell “alternative facts” to the inventions of science fiction. The comparison won’t work. We fiction writers make up stuff. Some of it clearly impossible, some of it realistic, but none of it real – all invented, imagined — and we call it fiction because it isn’t fact. We may call some of it “alternative history” or “an alternate universe,” but make absolutely no pretense that our fictions are “alternative facts.”
Facts aren’t all that easy to come by. Honest scientists and journalists, among others, spend a lot of time trying to make sure of them. The test of a fact is that it simply is so – it has no “alternative.” The sun rises in the east. To pretend the sun can rise in the west is a fiction, to claim that it does so as fact (or “alternative fact”) is a lie.
A lie is a non-fact deliberately told as fact. Lies are told in order to reassure oneself, or to fool, or scare, or manipulate others. Santa Claus is a fiction. He’s harmless. Lies are seldom completely harmless, and often very dangerous. In most times, most places, by most people, liars are considered contemptible. — Ursula K. Leguin
I’m so old, my introduction to LeGuin was a third or fourth printing of the Ace Double Rocannon’s World, which I picked up because I was a major Andre Norton fan. When I discovered sf fandom in college, there were still malefen ready to explain that LeGuin wasn’t really an sf/fantasy writer — just a nice older lady who wrote “safe fairy tales for school librarians”. That was before The Left Hand of Darkness became… canon.
Ursula K. LeGuin, outside category, walked away from the sanitized, “civilized” communities of every literary genre she touched. She never explicitly set out to lead the rest of us away from those settled mental landscapes, but anyone walking with such determination and sparkle will always attract a following among the curious and the discontent…
She taught me that age was experience and not something to be afraid of. So much so that I wanted to be in my 40’s even then, living a life of creativity and adventure.
— Beth LaPensée (@odaminowin) January 24, 2018
John Anderson, 10-term congressman who ran for president, dies at 95 https://t.co/erUEMMu38f
— The Guardian (@guardian) December 4, 2017
Anderson got my first presidential vote (because you had to be 21 to vote in 1976, and my 21st birthday fell a week too late). In my defense, those were more innocent days; I was outraged at Jimmy Carter’s cynically abandoning women to court “heartland” anti-choice voters, and besides, my individual vote didn’t mean much in then-dependably-Democratic Michigan.
What happened next convinced me (and should have convinced younger voters, IMO) that there are only two possible choices in American presidential elections, and the Democratic one is always preferable. The ensuing, increasingly suicidal, embrace of Ralph Nader by “progressives” only reinforced my conviction that too many leftists are less interested in actual political progress than in performative virtue-signalling.
We may not have fully appreciated it in 1980, but John Anderson marked the last bastion of Liberal Republicanism. Per Ed Kilgore, at NYMag
John B. Anderson of Illinois, who died today at the age of 95, served in Congress for 20 years. But what gave him national fame was a briefly sensational independent candidacy for president in 1980, running against President Jimmy Carter and soon-to-be-president Ronald Reagan. By doing so, Anderson represented two milestones in modern political history: He was the most conspicuous of early conscientious objectors to the conservative movement’s takeover of the Republican Party, and he was the prototype for the kind of centrist third-party presidential candidate that so many pundits and billionaires long for in today’s era of partisan polarization.
Anderson was not, of course, the first moderate-to-liberal Republican to oppose the rightward drift of his party. But he was the first to take an unsuccessful presidential primary candidacy right out of the GOP and into an independent ballot line. He took that fateful step in part because of the low regard he had for Ronald Reagan, his vanquisher in the primaries. But he also realized his brand of socially liberal, fiscally conservative politics had a stronger constituency outside his own party…
For a while, Anderson’s campaign was quite the phenomenon. In June his National Unity Party ticket (with running mate Pat Lucey, a Democratic former governor of Wisconsin) was polling at 24 percent according to Gallup. But as is typically the case, voters returned to the two major parties as the election approached. And in fact, Anderson largely abandoned his centrist positioning in order to poach liberals from Jimmy Carter, whose Evangelical background, fiscal conservatism, and cool relationship with Israel alienated a lot of usually Democratic voters. I recall seeing Anderson speak in San Francisco in the fall of 1980, by which time he was emphasizing his progressive social views, including what was then an unusual attitude of support for gay rights.
In the end, Anderson won only 7 percent of the vote, and his National Unity Party vanished without a trace. By 1984, Anderson was endorsing Democratic presidential nominee Walter Mondale. And so he was the prototype for millions of other relatively liberal Republicans who trended Democratic as even larger numbers of conservative Democrats joined the GOP. He had a distinguished later career as chairman of the electoral-reform group FairVote, which promotes a national popular vote and ranked-choice voting…
One of only two third party presidential candidates to get a televised debate with a major party nominee. (Ross Perot is the other.) https://t.co/n51DU7itM5
— Jim Antle (@jimantle) December 4, 2017
Horrible news from Tamara this morning, as her beloved Bailey has died in her sleep. I will let Tamara fill you all in when she has more information, but we believe it was due to a ruptured diaphragm that was punctured and repaired during surgery when she was a puppy.
I spoke with Tamara this morning and she is devastated, so please send some good vibes in her direction and keep her in your thoughts.
These are some of my favorite photos of Gracie. She had a good cat life and she had her uniqueness in our house. Gracie was nobody’s cat because she exerted ownership over Grumpy Code Monkey. Every night she would get into his lap (microseconds from his butt hitting a seat cushion), lean into him and gaze up at him with pure adoration.
We got Gracie from a co-worker at the software company we both worked at 16 years ago. She had followed his son home as a kitten and was completely enamored of little boys. Unfortunately, his son was very allergic to cats and we said we would be happy to take her. Whenever we had a little boy over at the house, from a contractor’s son to our nephew, she would follow them around and beg them to be hers.
She was horrible as a bed cat. When she wanted to get up or be let out of the bedroom she would lick Grumpy’s eyes. But she was actually more content to just sleep in the kitchen so she could let us know promptly when her meal was meant to be in front of her.
She was named after Gracie Allen for her wonderful, constant, always on meow and her complete and utter lack of grace when walking the furniture when she was a kitten. Gracie was our last tuxedo and I’m not sure our house looks right without one in it.
This has been a very hard year with losing Mishka, my heart cat, in February and now losing John’s baby just a month after losing one of our best friends to cancer at 49. Even though we don’t comment a ton, the Balloon-Juice community has been a source of sanity and hope for the two of us in this difficult year.
She was clearly such a good girl. I had the pleasure of meeting RonnieRoo and GCM a while back. Hope to do so once again next time I am in town. Give your pets some attention tonight.
Tom Petty is dead at age 66. This isn’t my favorite Tom Petty song — “Mary Jane’s Last Dance” is, but that video strikes me as too macabre for this moment, so I’m posting this one instead:
Tom Petty was a fellow Floridian. He shared some interesting thoughts on the Confederate flag in a 2015 Rolling Stone interview here. He seemed like a pretty good guy. Rock on, Tom.
ETA: CBS News has since retracted their story that Tom Petty died. New reports say he’s hospitalized and not expected to survive. Sorry for passing along bogus info.
I grew up in Bergen County and I must differ with Lucinda Rosenfeld’s attribution of Jared Kushner’s entitlement to his growing up there. I was there somewhat earlier than she was, though.
The neighborhood I grew up in was ethnically mixed, although yes, white. Czech, German, Irish, longer-time American, and, overlaid, Jewish and Christian. We were Democrats and Republicans. We were too working-class to aspire to the heights of New York society. We kids would have disdained that anyway. We had the local playground, the railroad tracks that our parents wished we wouldn’t frequent, and buses to get to the next town. Who needed more? We had good schools that continue to be good. The diversity mix has changed, but diversity there is.
It particularly pains me when I read that Kushner attended a private school in Paramus. Paramus was, for me, a magical place.
Spare a thought for commentor Tissue-Thin Pseudonym (JMN) tonight…
I’ll never see him again; all I have is memories.
I remember finding him huddled under the tire of our car on a February morning when it was 0 degrees. He wasn’t moving anywhere, so our only choices were to take him in or run him over. He had worms and a horrible case of ear mites, so we didn’t bother trying to find the owner who had let him get into such rough shape.
I remember the cat who loved to pester Monster until she completely lost it and would repeatedly smack him in the head. He absorbed his punishment without complaint: that’s the price you pay if you pester the top cat. Dirk had no problem being at the bottom, but he wasn’t going to let Monster shirk her responsibilities.
I remember that he picked up more nicknames than any other cat I’ve had. One of them was Bus Person, from his habit of wandering around the house muttering to himself, like that guy who gets on the bus and you hope doesn’t sit next to you. He was loud enough to be heard from three rooms away.
I remember the way that he and Eddie would wrestle. The goal was to pin the other so that you could groom him. It was very sweet.
I also remember how quickly he grasped that Eddie didn’t want to wrestle anymore during the last year of his life. He treated sick, three-legged Eddie with great gentleness.
I remember how annoyed he got when three month old Harry followed him everywhere around the house. Harry worshipped him, and Dirk learned first to tolerate it, and then to enjoy it. And Dirk’s gentleness with Eddie was repaid by Harry seeking him out and snuggling with him when Dirk was declining. Harry still worships him, and I’m not looking forward to tonight, when Harry starts to realize that Dirk isn’t coming back.
I remember Dirk losing weight and kidney function over the last two years. My plan was to let him decide when to check out, when he stopped eating, but he defeated that. He kept eating, even as his kidneys and heart and brain failed him. He kept trying to move around even when he struggled to keep his paws underneath him. The last few weeks, he adopted a sprawled out eating stance as his hind legs, especially the left one, slid to the sides.
And I remember his exquisitely soft fur, the last thing I got to experience of him, even after he had stopped breathing. I’ll be cleaning that fur off of everything I own for years still.
I miss him so much, and it’s only been an hour.
This was all over my facebook page this a.m.:
Even on vacation in Italy, our Angry Black Lady is killing it. Miss her here, glad I can follow her on twitter.
Meanwhile I’m thinking about all our BJ jackals in Florida. Stay safe and keep checking in with us over the weekend.