Rodent of Unusual Size Strikes a Blow Against the Paparazzi

Those of you who follow this site know that recently the swamp that abuts on my property became the home of Castor canadensis (a beaver).  Next to the edge of the swamp is a small shoreline where I sometimes see foxes, coyote, deer and other woodland inhabitants.  A couple of years ago I was given a game camera as a present.  I sometimes install it in various locations to get nighttime shots of the critters.  A couple of weeks ago I strapped it to a sapling near the swamp and got some shots of the foxes, coyotes and raccoons.  I typically take the memory card out every week and then re-insert it after downloading the files.  I went to re-insert it today and couldn’t find the camera.  Thinking that I had forgotten where I’d set it up, I looked around the area pretty thoroughly.  I didn’t find it but I did notice that a lot of the smaller saplings were gone.  The beaver has been busy.  And I think he took the sapling the camera was attached to!

I’m usually a live and let live kind of guy.  But stealing my camera strikes at my very identity.  Who ever heard of a photog without a camera?  The lodge is in a fairly inaccessible corner of the swamp and getting to it probably will entail personal discomfort on my part.  Plus, I’ll be on his turf.  In my mind he has fired the first shot and must now be considered hostile.  I feel like Captain Kirk in the episode where he is being stalked by the big lizard man called the Gorn.  Yes, just like that.  It’s going to be him or me.  I wanted to coexist.  I came in peace for all mankind.  But now where can I go to be safe?  Before you know it, he’ll be dragging my truck down into the swamp.  Then I’ll be trapped without an avenue of escape.  And then he’ll come for me.

Like Kirk I have no phaser, no space age weapon to give me the clear advantage.  It’s his giant razor-sharp incisors versus my brain.  But he has a brain too.  It may not be as large but it’s backed up by all the cunning and savagery that his rodent ancestors have accumulated down the long span of this island earth.  He has that and also the hatred that all rodents feel for those who put out spring traps for their diminutive brethren the field mice.  How many of his kindred have I snuffed out with my traps.  I’ve thrown their bodies down by the swamp for the fox to eat.  This must be the basis of his vendetta against me.  What was I thinking?  How else could he take that except as a war crime.  Well, it’s too late now.  Nothing will suffice but that this contest reach its bitter conclusion.  Two will go in.  Only one will emerge from the arena.  If this be my last post then let me just say it’s been an honor.  If it turns out not to be my last post then maybe I’ve slightly inflated the situation.  Only time will tell.

Post script.  Yeah, nothing happened.  Never mind.  But my camera is still gone.  That fur-bearing bastard is probably taking selfies of himself inside his lodge and laughing and laughing at my expense.

To be continued.

Academy Awards 2019 – Wake for the Woke

Dramatis Personae:  Ellen DeGeneris (ED);  Rachel Maddow (RM);  Caitlyn Jenner (CJ);

Scene 1: Announcer’s Booth at the Dolby Theater, Rachel Maddow, Ellen DeGeneres and Caitlyn Jenner hosting the PBS Oscars preview broadcast.

RM – Hello Woke Resistance America.  I’m here with Ellen and Caitlyn to cover the first completely hetero-male purged Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Awards.

ED – And what a liberating experience it is.  Not to have to deal with the male gaze.

CJ – Sing it sister.

RM – Whoohoo!

ED – Oh yeah.

CJ – And finally the Oscars are free to explore films about real people instead of restricting topics to dated stale paradigms.

RM – Well this isn’t the first time that will be possible.  Remember last year we had the fabulous, “Call Me by Your Name.”

ED – Yes, indeed and in 2017 we had the diversity rich, “Moonlight.”

CJ – At this late date must I remind you of the damning circumstance that neither of those films had a single transgendered character?

RM – True, but both were groundbreaking positive portrayals of gay people overcoming the hurdles that a judgmental world places in front of them.

CJ – How can you begin to compare the trivial annoyances of being gay to the titanic struggle of being trans?  I mean it’s unthinkable.  It’s almost as if you are transphobic or something.

RM – What?  Are you nu …   I mean no, no, no.  I’m so pro-trans it isn’t even funny.  Some of my best friends are trans.

ED – Me too.  Not like # metoo but as in, I also.  I’m a big trans-fan.

RM – Right sure.  You’ve really straightened me out about this.  But not that kind of straight.  I hate straight.

CJ – But I’m straight.  Do you hate me?

RM – How could you be straight?  You’ve had your penis removed.

CJ – But I’m a trans-woman.  Being straight just means I like men.  Are you doubting I’m a woman?  Because that would be trans-phobic.

RM – No, no.  I was just a little confused on the terminology.  Now I get it.  It’s all good now.

ED – Sure straight’s great.  It’s all good.

CJ – Hmmm, I’ll have to think about how I feel about all this but for now let’s move forward with the show.

RM – Absolutely.

ED – Yes let’s.

CJ – So the nominees for best picture are truly exciting and run the full gamut of artistic expression.

RM – It’s interesting that this year the Academy didn’t announce the nominees ahead of time but will reveal them as the award is being announced.  As a member of the Academy you know the list of nominees.  Can you tell us a little bit about their plots?

CJ – Certainly.  The first nominee is called “Unhealing Wound.”  It’s the story of a trans-woman coming to terms with the endless pain and psychic agony of hormone therapy and vaginoplasty.  This movie celebrates the bravery and specialness of trans-women.

RM – Hey that’s really something.  How brave.  How solemn.  That will be on my top ten for March.

ED – I’m there for sure.

CJ – The next movie up is “Man Enough.”  It’s the fictional account of the first trans-man in the Navy Seals.  It follows this extraordinary man as he battles arbitrary requirements of the transphobic military traditions to soar to the top of his field.  And he knows that he has finally arrived when he is joined by his fellow Seals writing their names in the snow during a training maneuver in Alaska.

RM – Inspirational, truly solemn.

CJ – It’s a musical comedy.

RM – Oh.   …  Brave then?

CJ – Sure why not.  Next up is the top contender for the Oscar.  It called “Made for Each Other.”  It’s the story of a straight married couple who get swept up in the excitement of transgenderism and become a transcouple.  This is also a musical although not a comedy.  There is a thought-provoking scene on their trans-honeymoon night where they bravely face the challenges of a trans/trans sexual relationship when they sing the duet, “Your Guess is as Good as Mine.”

ED – It sounds magical.

RM – I’ll bet the Chicago Tribune raved.

CJ – Absolutely.  And the last entry is a science fiction film about the first trans-gendered robot called eloquently AC/DC.

ED – So cutting edge.  I’m sure the special effects are ground breaking.

CJ – It’s in 3D.

RM – You know Caitlyn, these movies are just amazing and groundbreaking as well.  But I’ve detected a trend.

CJ – What’s that Rachel.

RM – Every single one of them is about transgendered characters.

CJ – Yes.  So?

RM – Well, don’t you think that there’s a danger of over-representing a very small proportion of the population and thereby losing the interest of the general public.

CJ – Nonsense.  The public is clamoring for trans-themed entertainment.

RM – But what about representing the rest of even the LGBTQ community?  Where are the lesbian and gay characters?

CJ – Stop being reactionary.  The debate is over.  It’s been decided.  Since the first ninety years of Oscar were essentially transgender phobic the next twenty years need to be exclusively transgender themed.  It will be fabulous.  It’s even being renamed the Olivias and the statuette will be put on hormone therapy immediately.

ED – Well there you have it folks.  Caitlyn has introduced us to the brave new world of the Oscars, I mean Olivias and we’ll go live to the ceremonies already in progress.  Speaking for myself, Caitlyn and Rachel, … uh where did Rachel go?

CJ – She just bolted and mumbled something about heading over to FoxNews.

ED – Oh, okay.  Well from me and Caitlyn, goodnight and have a brave tomorrow.

The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. – A Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Review

One time I mentioned on the site that I wondered what a combination of science fiction and fantasy would be like.  TomD, whose opinions on matters political, photographic and literary are always enlightening, immediately volunteered two examples, The Majipoor Cycle and the Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O.  I have previously reviewed the Majipoor books.  Here I will address D.O.D.O. and just to get it out of the way the acronym stands for Department of Diachronic Operatives, a government issue time travel story.

Neal Stephenson wrote this book with Nicole Galland.  I’ve heard of Stephenson but never read him before.  I’d never heard of Galland before this book.  So, the book finally got to the top of the pile and I just finished it on Thursday past.  The first thing I can say is that this is a hybrid creation.  The outline of the story is a time-travel science fiction story of the giant government project category.  On that framework is a story that combines historical fiction, fantasy and a satiric contemporary novel about day to day life in a government bureaucracy.  The other fact about the story is that most of it is a first-person narrative by a modern female character.  And this particular character is a college teaching assistant with expertise in linguistics.  And I am intimately familiar with this subspecies.  And I’m not greatly sympathetic to its idiosyncrasies.  Also, the story takes place in Cambridge, MA.  And I am also intimately familiar with the habits and foibles of the people who live there.  And I am also not greatly sympathetic to their idiosyncrasies either.  So, this starts me out in the wrong place as a reader and reviewer.

Moving on from there, the story ingeniously constructs a scenario where the present-day American military becomes worried about losing a global arms race in magic.  Military intelligence has somehow detected anomalies in the present that lead them to believe that someone has figured out how to travel back in time.  And based on a thorough computerized analysis of historical documents, they believe the method involves witchcraft.  And since witchcraft doesn’t seem to exist anymore, they need to figure out how to revive it.  And reviving it hinges on manipulating quantum states of matter and invokes Schrodinger’s Cat who literally shows up in the story (the cat, not the Schrodinger).

From there we meet a Japanese scientist/Mayflower descendant, husband/wife team, which is a category that believe it or not, I’m also personally familiar with.  He’s a quantum physicist who has been investigating the mechanism that the story needs to restore magic and she is the descendant of a burned Salem witch.  Mix in a surviving one hundred and eighty-year-old Hungarian witch, a dashing young army lieutenant colonel, a plucky and annoying female linguist (these last two being the love interests in the story) and assorted scientists, generals, computer geeks and bureaucrats both academic and military and you have the cast that becomes project D.O.D.O.  Once they succeed, we add into the stew, witches from colonial Massachusetts, Elizabethan London, thirteenth century Constantinople and various times and places in medieval northern Europe.  And the non-witch historical characters include Byzantine emperors and empresses, Varangian guards, Sir Francis Bacon, Christopher Marlowe, Richard Burbage and a raiding party of Vikings in a Walmart.

The text is a collection of Victorian era journal entries, Elizabethan era letters, some medieval vellum codices, U.S. military documents and a copious collection of e-mail messages from a variety of bureaucratic organizations.  The story is in several voices modern and antique but as mentioned above is primarily the journal of the young woman linguist who is the protagonist and the focal point of several of the original plot elements.

Despite my obvious lack of sympathy for the protagonist and several other of the main characters, the story works on its own terms.  The characters are self-consistent and wherever I am competent to compare them to their real-life exemplars highly accurate.  Because of the details of the time travel mechanism, the action is of necessity episodic and sometimes repetitive.  This situation is written pretty well and only results in a little slowness in the action at the beginning of the book.  Toward the end the pacing picks up quite a bit and the book ends by resolving the latest crisis but the finish requires that there will be sequels.

My opinion on the book is that if you are like me and rather dislike bureaucrats and modern women then you will have limited sympathy for the protagonist and several of the main characters.  There is a good amount of swashbuckling action by the military officer who is a main character and likable.  The story line is extremely clever as a science fiction plot.  So, I recommend it as a story with the proviso that men of my generation will be tempted occasionally to toss the book at the wall when modern New England feminist empowerment rears its ugly head.

08DEC2018 – Quote of the Day

“Thy husband is thy lord, thy life, thy keeper,

Thy head, thy sovereign; one that cares for thee,

And for thy maintenance commits his body

To painful labour both by sea and land,

To watch the night in storms, the day in cold,

Whilst thou liest warm at home, secure and safe;

And craves no other tribute at thy hands

But love, fair looks and true obedience;

Too little payment for so great a debt.”

William Shakespeare

I quote this to Camera Girl often but she just laughs and laughs.

Racism for Me But Not for Thee

William Voegeli has an article at Claremont Review of Books titled RACISM, REVISED.

https://www.claremont.org/crb/article/racism-revised/

In it he reviews the New York Times (NYT) differeing stance on racism committed by white people and non-white people.  The case in point is their employee Sarah Jeong.  She has a Twitter history that is littered with the most egregious anti-white bias imaginable.  But the NYT waived their hands at this and said it was those evil white trolls that made her do it.  But when an equivalent bias was shown by a white person, off with his head.  Very interesting read.