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Jack Ma’s huge head and tiny face fill me with awe


Jack Ma, founder of Ali Baba. Richest man in China. Actually he sounds like a cool guy, but he looks so strange, I actually googled to see if he had some kind of weird metabolic disorder I shouldn’t make fun of.

Nope, just freaky looking.

China, if you haven’t paid attention, is in deep shit.

On the domestic front, Uncle B and I have just trimmed and washed nine flipping pounds of gooseberries for the freezer. Gooseberries. They’re a misery.

Also, my pickled carrots have had eight days of the seven to nine I was supposed to give them. They’re delicious. I’ve put them in the fridge.

Does anyone know…now they’re in the cool, do I need to keep burping them?

July 7, 2015 — 10:05 pm
Comments: 12

Cheez it! It’s Angela!


I wonder how many Greeks, in their heart of hearts, think a No vote means they don’t have to give the money back?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m delighted to see someone – anyone – kick Europe in the nuts, but it’s awfully hard to see how Greece is going to wriggle out of this.

Janet Daley was good on this score.

July 6, 2015 — 8:50 pm
Comments: 18

Let’s start a religion!


I ceased to believe in the central mysteries of Christianity a long time ago. The miraculous bits; all the things that make it a religion rather than merely a philosophy.

Problem is, I see a lot to admire in Christianity, even without the Resurrection. Two thousand years of Western moral thought has been set in the framework of biblical scripture. It runs through our law, our literature, our language. You can’t discard it entirely without throwing away too much of what’s good in our culture.

There are things I dislike about religion and the very religious. There are things I dislike about Christianity in particular. Original Sin always made me crazy, for example. The fact that I’m a dirty bird every day of my life — even the days I don’t do anything particularly evil — because sin is baked into my heritage. It seems so unfair, and fairness is what I would look to a deity to restore.

But there’s an awful lot of value. Fidelity. Humility. The power of the oath. A strict moral code. People like to do difficult things in support of higher causes.

I think there’s probably a measurable physiological benefit to prayer, which is why most religions have such a meditative component. Plus the psychological benefit of putting your troubles into language. And the soothing notion you can be forgiven and wiped clean, if you ask nicely (if only until your next major fuckup).

So, how would you go about building a secular Christianity (or religious mashup)?



Have an awesome Fourth and I’ll see you on Monday!

July 3, 2015 — 9:16 pm
Comments: 15

A couple transgressive thoughts on race


The thing about this flag is, it’s the symbol of an America that is not entirely white. Without the organized slave trade, there would be (virtually) zero black people in America, and this flag became emblematic of that. I’m not sure the right people are swinging it around.

You can thank my slave-owning, plantation-running, lazy-ass louche Southern ancestors for an America that doesn’t look like Scandihoovia. Let this flag be your reminder.

Although…did you know in the 300 years of the slave trade to the colonies, fewer than half a million were sent to the U.S.? Of the ten million that came over in chains, nearly all ended up in the Caribbean and Brazil.

I hate to send you to Slate, but they have a genuinely fascinating animated map that demonstrates the flow of peoples.

There. I don’t know why I ever post about race. Nothing good can come of it.

July 2, 2015 — 8:52 pm
Comments: 14

Big brother is gay


I’ve been avoiding politics. I like to see myself as a happy warrior, so when I’m pissed, I post about freaking carrot sticks and mothereffing roses. It’s not one thing, it’s all kinds of things lurching in bad directions at the moment, but the gay marriage thing is the one that really got up my nose.

Not so much gay marriage itself (or, as I like to think of it, gay “marriage”), but the arrogance and mediocrity of the Supremes. Another 5/4 decision where the opinion of the five are completely incompatible with the opinion of the four. If that’s not a metaphor…

…happy thoughts…happy thoughts…

Anyway. I wanted to make sure you saw this. Those of you on FaceBook will know that FB provided a little app that would overlay your avatar with a rainbow in honor of the SCOTUS ass-reaming we all got. The Daily Mail is claiming this was a data mining tool to gauge (and possibly manipulate) popular opinion on the subject.

FaceBook denies it, but it’s plausible. They did something similar a few years ago, where you could overlay your avatar with an equals sign (for “marriage equality” natch). They then tapped that data to track attitudes. I find this all very creepy, but I am comfortable in the knowledge I put an absolute minimum amount of data into my FaceBook (either of them; the weasel has an account, too).

What surprised me is how few of my friends did the rainbow thing. I mean, not YOU guys. I knew YOU wouldn’t have any part of it. But most of my friends from back home (I’m sorry to say) are liberals of one kind or another. Yes, even the Southern ones (sometimes especially the Southern ones). I saw maybe three avatars with the rainbow.

Maybe things aren’t quite as bad as they look.

July 1, 2015 — 9:51 pm
Comments: 17

Somewhere under there is a garage


It’s finally turned nice here. We had a record-breaking cold June (we put the heat on a few times), but nice here is…as nice as you can imagine. Hot sun, cool breeze and…holy shit look at this rose.

It only blooms once a season, but when it goes over, it strews white petals like snow all over the garden.

Yeah, there’s not a gardening bone in my body. My mother used to say I had a purple thumb — every plant I touch dies. But Uncle B is an awesome plantsman. He has a greenhouse and everything. And he’s slowly making all the borders around the house explode with flowers, like slomo fireworks.

Yeah. I been out in the garden eating barbecue and drinking wine. I’m too mellow for the blogosphere.

EDIT. As requested, the Rector large and in color. The straggly bit at the right is an elder tree, the ‘blank’ spot is a blackberry bramble.

June 30, 2015 — 9:07 pm
Comments: 9

Who pickles?


Image stolen from here. Looks like a useful site.

Pickles? Saurkraut? Kimchi? Chutney? Anyone make their own kefir? (Is it gross? I’ve never tried it). Any hints’n’tips?

I’m really susceptible to hippie trendy foodie crap. Gullible. Gullible is the word I’m looking for. I’m not ashamed. Sometimes stuff turns out to be a good idea, and sometimes it doesn’t. Meanwhile, I get to do Weasel Science.

Fermentation is the trendy thing at the moment. Though, to my mind, fermentation means yeast and sugar. Putting stuff in brine for ten days is pickling. But. Whatever.

Supposedly, brined food is stuffed full of natural probiotics. And if you haven’t been reading all the interesting stuff about probiotics and gut flora floating around t’internet lately, you haven’t been paying attention.

Lucky for me, I like my snackies sour/salty/savory rather than sweet, so I’m expecting to like the outcome regardless. Unless I culture something really horrific and explode at both ends.

Nobody say “elderberry cordial” please.

BRB. Going to cut up carrots.

June 29, 2015 — 9:27 pm
Comments: 18

This crazy ass bird


Oh, I’m sorry — I have let you down. I could’ve done a really gay Photoshop or something, but I got totally distracted reading news today. From the terrorist attack in Tunisia (who the hell would vacation in Tunisia these days?) to the beheading in France right through to our very gay Supreme Court. I think I’m in love with Antonin Scalia. No homo.

Seriously, that’s not homo. We’re the opposite secks.

Anyway, by way of apology, here’s a picture of my crazy-ass chicken Mapp. She’s my elderly hen, over five years old (I’ve read various accounts of how long a pekin bantam might live, and I think six is about it). I know why she’s lived this long — she never lays me any fucking eggs.

Every year, just as laying season starts (mine only lay in Summer), she goes broody. Sits on an empty nest, refuses to budge, tries to hatch thin air. Screams like a little girl when you pick her up. They don’t lay when they’re broody.

First year she did this I thought she was egg bound, which can be fatal. So I tried all sorts of folk remedies including floating her in a bucket of warm soapy water and lubricating her vent with olive oil, an afternoon both of us would surely like to but never shall forget.

I stopped trying to break her of it. I roust her off the nest a couple of times a day and make her eat something and otherwise leave her to it. When laying season is over, she’ll pick herself up, dust herself off and act like nothing happened.

Hm. Perhaps not such a cray bird after all.

Good weekend, and stay away from the gloating lefties! The worm will turn…

June 26, 2015 — 10:28 pm
Comments: 14

Oh, boo.




Ah. Patrick Macnee has died. He was 93.

And before you ask, no. No one had him in the Dead Pool.

His first acting role was in a school play with fellow pupil Christopher Lee.

My mother let me stay up super late to watch the Avengers when I were a lass. (In a bid for Mom of the Decade, she also let me stay up super late to watch Frankenstein and Psycho). To this day, the harpsichord makes me feel all tingly.

I bought several seasons on DVD a few years ago and made Uncle B watch them with me. They are even sillier than I remembered.

But a lot more realistic than I ever knew back then…



June 25, 2015 — 8:19 pm
Comments: 17

Bruce Jenner is bustin’ out all over

not hercules, omphale



Lion skin cloak? Check. Knobbly club? Check. Tits? Ohhhhh…wait a second.

We went to a stately home for a delphinium festival today (when you hook up with a gardener, marvelous things happen). This was on the grounds. It’s got all the usual accoutrements of a classical Hercules, but this is clearly a chick.

Well. Wikipedia tells me this is Omphale queen of Lydia and not quite a goddess. Hercules accidentally biffed someone and was sentenced by the Oracle to be her slave for a while, for some reason.

Unfortunately, none of the central texts survive in the original, so we are left piecing the story together from bits of art and literary allusion. The important thing is, this was a period of rich cross dressing for Hercules and Omphale.




In a perfectly unrecognizable form, the story of Hercules and Omphale was the subject of MST3K Experiment 502: Hercules. You can watch it in its entirety here.

Because I am all about the cultcha.



June 24, 2015 — 7:53 pm
Comments: 2