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Thoughts of a Catholic convert

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Sunday, August 20, 2017

Gifted

This week's movie rental was Gifted ...

a 2017 American drama film directed by Marc Webb and written by Tom Flynn. It stars Chris Evans, Mckenna Grace, Lindsay Duncan, Jenny Slate and Octavia Spencer. The plot follows an intellectually gifted 7-year-old who gets caught up in a custody battle between her uncle and grandmother.

This isn't the kind of movie I usually rent but I like Chris Evans very much ... hey, he's Captain America ... so I gave it a try. It was actually very good, I thought. The acting was convincing and the story had some interesting details, such as stuff about the Millennium Prize Problems, a soundtrack that featured Cat Stevens ...



And there was a one eyed cat named Fred :) ...



Here's the start of the review of the film in The New York Times ...

What’s in a child’s best interest? It depends on who’s answering the question. That’s the crux of “Gifted,” the director Marc Webb’s return to small-scale features after tangling with Spidey. The gifted child here is a 7-year-old math prodigy, Mary (Mckenna Grace, charmingly precocious), who is being raised by her uncle Frank (an impressive Chris Evans). He wants a normal life for Mary; her mother, also a math genius, was under pressure and committed suicide when Mary was a baby. So they live a simple life with their one-eyed cat in Florida, where Frank fixes boat engines; the grime under his nails (and the beer he swigs) suggest that he’s firmly rooted in the working class.

Yet Frank and Mary’s strong bond — one of the film’s most convincing parts — is tested when he sends her off to the first grade. She’s been home-schooled, but Frank thinks it’s time she tried “being a kid.” While Mary can solve differential equations, she has less-than-advanced social skills and manners. Her teacher (Jenny Slate) recognizes her abilities immediately, and floats the idea that Mary would be better served at a prep school. Frank objects, but it’s too late: Soon Frank’s rich mother (a haughty Lindsay Duncan) arrives from Boston to usher Mary off to a life of higher learning. Next stop: the local court, where a fight for her “best interest” ensues, bogging down the story .....


And here's a trailer ...



I recommend it!

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Polanski the victim (not)

In the news - Roman Polanksi 1977 Rape Case 'Cannot Be Dismissed:' U.S. Court

A Los Angeles judge has rejected a request by the woman who was raped by director Roman Polanski 40 years ago to have the criminal case against him dismissed. Superior Court Judge Scott Gordon said in a ruling that Polanski remained a fugitive from justice and that the court could not dismiss a case "merely because it would be in the victim's best interest." The ruling follows the first appearance in June in the case by Samantha Geimer, who was 13 years old when Polanski sexually assaulted her in Los Angeles in 1977. The director, who admitted raping Geimer, spent 42 days in pre-trial custody. He then fled the United States, fearing a plea bargain with prosecutors would be overruled and that he would get a lengthy prison term. The "Chinatown" director, who turned 84 on Friday, has never returned and numerous attempts to strike a deal without him spending more time in prison have failed ....

I've been following this case for years. I'm glad the judge did not accept the victim's wish to have the crime "forgiven". I can understand why she might want to do that, but crimes like this are against society as well and society has a stake in seeing them prosecuted.

Sure, it happened a long time ago, and if this was a sex abuse case like the one involving Cardinal Pell, they would call it "historical" to distance it emotionally. But it did happen and the details of it are really awful, so please let's not try to turn the rapist into a victim, especially not because you're a director or actor who hopes Polanski will collaborate with you or put you in his next movie .... would you be doing this if that 13 year old had been your daughter? (Woody Allen is at the top of the list of those who want Polanski forgiven, no surprise, and I guess in his case, my rhetorical question would prompt a different than expected answer - yuck).


Friday, August 18, 2017

Charlottesville

Watching Anderson Cooper discussing Charlottesville on CNN. In this segment he destroys the fiction created by Trump that there were "very fine people" taking part in the alt right demonstrations. A reporter who was present shows a video of the torch lit march in which those "fine people" chanted "Jews will not replace us" ...



And here is Rachel Maddow of MSNBC from a few days ago detailing the recent history of the white supremacy movement in the US and the worsening affect Trump has had on this disease ....


Thursday, August 17, 2017

More on pro-life Democrats

This is a follow up to my earlier post, The DNC and pro-life candidates , in which I opined that it is a bad idea for the DNC to support pro-life candidates for office in their frenzied bid to woo Trump voters and thus get more congressional seats.

Hey, DNC bigwigs, this is what the Democratic party is supposed to look like ...

Megadonor Steyer vows to only back candidates that support abortion rights ...

Democratic mega-donor Tom Steyer said on Saturday that he and his NextGen America group do not intend to work on behalf of anti-abortion politicians, jumping into the Democratic Party’s ongoing debate on the topic. “We’re pro-choice,” the hedge fund manager-turned-activist told POLITICO on the sidelines of the progressive Netroots Nation conference here. Asked if his group would help candidates or sitting lawmakers who don’t support abortion rights, he said, “We do not work for a single candidate who is not pro-choice. I think people like to have litmus tests. We are explicitly pro-choice. We work a lot with Planned Parenthood, we work a lot with NARAL. We are absolutely committed to it.” ....

Oregon Passes Law Protecting Abortion and Reproductive Rights

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown Tuesday signed what activists describe as the most far-reaching law in the land to solidify access to abortion and subsidized birth control, bucking efforts in Washington to limit reproductive health coverage. The Reproductive Health Equity Act requires insurers to cover abortions at no cost to the patient, enshrining the right to abortion in Oregon even if Roe v Wade is overturned in the U.S. Supreme Court. The statute also includes the whole gamut of reproductive care, from contraception and vasectomies to STD screenings and post-natal care. The law covers all patients, regardless of gender, gender identity or immigration status -- that includes undocumented immigrants ...

Lucy

I took this photo in the backyard today. It didn't turn out very well and isn't in focus, but it still cracks me up to look at it ... Lucy the cat, surprised while cleaning her tummy :). She has such golden eyes ....



Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The DNC and pro-life candidates

UPDATE: more on this here: More on pro-life Democrats (8/17/17)


- Women's march on Washington

Today I unsubscribed from the Democratic National Committee's email list, the one they use to constantly nag me for money, because I won't support a political party that plans to officially fund pro-life candidates for office.

I understand the desperation to win Democratic seats in Congress, but the decision to throw women's rights under the bus in order to lure in pro-life Republican votes is just repugnant. What's next - funding racist candidates so we can scoop up all those bigot votes we missed in the last election?

I would rather not vote at all than vote for a pro-life candidate, because I believe one effing Republican party is more than enough. And I'm not alone ....

- 13 Organizations Pledge Not to Support Anti-Abortion Democrats

- Democrats' disastrous mistake on abortion

- If Democrats turn back on abortion rights, they’ll get punished at polls

- There Is an Abortion Litmus Test And It's Called Women's F*cking Rights

The Master :)

From a concert in 1985 in Hartford, Connecticut, Eric Clapton's Layla ...

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

I miss President Obama!


:)

Monday, August 14, 2017

More unplugged music

Here's Paul McCartney singing We Can Work It Out, from MTV Unplugged ...



Democrats must move left, not right

There's been much in the news about the Democratic party making compromises with conservatives in order to win elections ... one example is the effort by pro-lifers to gain a foothold in the DNC. I think that is a terrible idea and I'm not the only one - Elizabeth Warren agrees with me ... Amid 2020 buzz, Warren urges Democrats to reject centrist policies and move leftward ...



Here's a bit from another article a couple of weeks ago in The New York Times ...

Of Course Abortion Should Be a Litmus Test for Democrats

Democrats will fund anti-choice candidates in conservative districts, Representative Ben Ray Luján, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said in an interview this week, citing the party’s need to build “a broad coalition” to win control of Congress in 2018 ....

I relate to the flailing panic that is no doubt undergirding such a morally putrescent idea. Nineteen hyenas and a broken vacuum cleaner control the White House, and ice is becoming extinct. I get it. I am desperate and afraid as well. I am prepared to make leviathan compromises to pull us back from that brink. But there is no recognizable version of the Democratic Party that does not fight unequivocally against half its constituents’ being stripped of ownership of their own bodies and lives. This issue represents everything Democrats purport to stand for .... to be anti-choice on a policy level is absolutely indefensible from an economic justice, racial justice, gender justice and human rights standpoint. And if the Democratic Party does not stand for any of those things, then what on earth is it?

It’s true that the left will have to choose (and soon) between absolute ideological purity and the huge numbers required to seize the rudder of the nation and avert global catastrophe. But abortion is not valid fodder for such compromise, nor is racism, nor is L.G.B.T.Q. equality, nor is any issue that puts people’s fundamental humanity up for debate. Abortion is not a fringe issue. Abortion is liberty ....

What the Democrats need to do, I often hear, is to move away from issues of “identity” and toward purer, broader issues of economic equality. But there is no model of economic equality that does not reckon with “identity politics.” There is no economic equality without the ability to terminate a pregnancy. There is no economic equality without the overthrow of white supremacy. What good is an economic opportunity if large swaths of the population can’t access it? Telling minority groups that it’s their responsibility to sit back and wait, to subordinate their needs for the good of the party — that implies that “the party” is not theirs as much as everyone else’s. And it sounds a lot like the people we’re trying to defeat .....


Some say we should be willing to support candidates that disagree with us on just one issue, but why is it only women who are expected to take one for the team? Will the DNC support candidates who want to roll back marriage equality in order to get more religious conservatives' votes? Will the DNC support racist candidates so they can pick up the bigot vote that they missed in the last election? At what point does the Democratic party become just another version of the Republican party?

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Unplugged music

I've been looking through old music from MTV's unplugged shows. Here's one for tonight - R.E.M., Losing My Religion ....



Trump: willing champion of white supremacists


Saturday, August 12, 2017

Taylor Swift and bodily integrity

I've been reading/watching in the news about the trial in which Taylor Swift has accused a man of grabbing her behind ...



I'm glad she has chosen to make a public issue of this. I think it's probable that most women have experienced some level of sexual harassment at the workplace - I have - but many of us are not able to really redress it. What's disturbing is that using another person as your involuntary squeeze toy is often not seen as a serious violation. I know this because many Americans, including Catholics and Evangelical Christians, just knowingly voted for a professed pussy grabber for president.

This issue touches on the idea of bodily integrity, a concept which has informed issues not just of assault but also of torture, suicide, abortion, circumcision,. Some people think our bodies are the property of God or of society or of other people, but bodily integrity emphasizes the importance of personal autonomy and the self-determination of human beings over their own bodies. In the field of human rights, violation of the bodily integrity of another is regarded as an unethical infringement, intrusive, and possibly criminal.

Here's a bit from an article on the Taylor Swift trial ...

Taylor Swift’s Sexual Assault Testimony Was Sharp, Gutsy, and Satisfying

[...] For young fans of Swift’s, hearing a beloved artist speak candidly about the emotional damage of sexual assault and stand up to a courtroom of men trying to prove her wrong could be a formative moment for their developing ideas of gender, sex, and accountability. Swift certainly has advantages most women who endure similar violations will never have: the money and time to mount a strong case against her alleged assailant, the jury-endearing privileges of white skin and a beautiful face, and millions of supporters rallying publicly behind her. And since he’s suing her for money and she’s already one of the biggest superstars in the world, detractors can’t argue, as they so often do in sexual-assault cases, that she’s making up a story for money or fame.

But Swift also faces some of the same obstacles other assault survivors endure if they bring their perpetrators to court. She must relive a distressing moment over and over again to dozens of observers, recounting in detail how her body was allegedly touched without her consent, while lawyers on the other side try their hardest to make her look unreliable, petty, and fake. When McFarland asked her how she felt when Mueller got the boot from his job at the Denver radio station, Swift said she had no response. “I am not going to allow your client to make me feel like it is any way my fault, because it isn’t,” she said. Later, she continued: “I am being blamed for the unfortunate events of his life that are a product of his decisions and not mine.” Women who allege sexual assault are scolded all the time for ruining men’s lives, even if those men are proven guilty. Swift’s sharp testimony is a very visible condemnation of that common turn in cases like these. That’s an important message for women who may find themselves in Swift’s position someday, and maybe even more so for the men who’ll be called on to support or rebuff them.


Good on you, Taylor.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Another song from the distant past

Magic Man by Heart ...



OK, chortle if you must ;) but she does have a nice voice.

Trump/Star Trek

Fans of Star Trek will recall that there is a regulation that allows a ship's doctor to relieve the captain of command if he is for some reason no longer competent to fulfill his duties (here Kirk provokes then acting Captain Spock to the breaking point to prove that he should be relieved of duty) ...



Today as I watched Trump double down on his threats to the leader of North Korea, seemingly daring him to nuke Guam, I couldn't help wondering if there isn't some kind of similar safety measure in place in our government that allows for the removal of a president who's as crazy as a bedbug. ...


Thursday, August 10, 2017

Life with cats

Watching this video made me laugh :) ...

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

We Used to Know

I remember seeing these guys, Jethro Tull, in concert when I was a teen :) .....

On a path to thermonuclear war



Yes, another post on the possibility of us being nuked by North Korea. Effing idiot Trump has just upped the chances of N. Korea bombing us ... Trump, North Korea Trade Escalating Threats of Fire. How can the Republicans stand by and let this obviously unstable person lead us to the brink of thermonuclear war? Wake up, fools!

Monday, August 07, 2017

What if we get nuked

There are a lot of things to worry about, from drug resistant bacteria to global warming, but the thing that's so scary I can't allow myself to consider it more than moments at a time is the threat from North Korea .... yep, us getting nuked. The subject was in the news again today - North Korea Ready To Teach U.S.‘Severe Lesson’ - and I can't help wondering how long we have before our crazy president pisses off N. Korea's crazy dictator enough to make him flip the switch.

Here's some info on what it might be like if that happened .... WAR GAMES This is what would happen if North Korea launched a nuclear attack on the US… and Trump would have just 10 MINUTES to decide how to react.

When I imagine what it would be like, I can't get that horrific scene from Terminator 2 out of my head. But, but, but, that can't be a realistic depiction, right? Uh oh, it pretty much is ...



:(

Sunday, August 06, 2017

Music from the ex

When I was first going out with the ex, he loaned me some of his albums and one of them was by this guy :) ....


Friday, August 04, 2017

Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War

My latest kindle book from the public library is Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War by journalist Mark Bowden. The Wikipedia page for the book begins ...

It documents efforts by the Unified Task Force to capture Somali faction leader Mohamed Farrah Aidid in 1993, and the resulting battle in Mogadishu between United States forces and Aidid's militia. One of the key events is the downing of two United States UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, from which the book derives its title, and the attempt to rescue their crews. United States forces included Army Rangers, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, 10th Mountain Division, Delta Force and Navy SEALs, with United Nations peacekeeping forces also involved.

The raid became the most intense close combat in U.S. military history since the Vietnam War. Although the particular mission to apprehend Aidid was officially codenamed Gothic Serpent, the media colloquially termed it the Battle of Mogadishu as well as the Battle of the Black Sea ...


I had seen the movie of the same name a few years ago and wrote a blog post about it: Somalia at the movies . That post goes into the historical details of the actual incident, if anyone is curious.

It's fairly interesting if only as a look at how modern warfare operates. I haven't yet read to the part where everything goes teribly wrong - the movie depiction of that part was pretty harrowing. This is kind of an atypical book choice for me because I have mixed feelings about the military itself and military engagements ... I suppose in some senses they are necessary but I cringe at what they must do to the heads and hearts of the people involved.

For those interested, here's a trailer of the movie version, to which Ebert gave 4 stars ...