The cat is going to be insufferable if she finds out

So don’t tell her she looks exactly like the first cat of the emperor of Japan.

I was going to take a photo of her to demonstrate how much alike they are, but I just noticed that we’ve been adapting the house to suit her. She has a strong preference for resting on black surfaces, so we’ve been putting down black blankets for her to reign from. I’ve got a black backpack — if I leave that on the floor I’ll come back to find her nesting there. We’ve been able to control where she sleeps in our bedroom to a small degree with a black cloth in a corner. You try taking a picture of a cat whose color is like the deepest ink, who likes to disappear at night.

Wait a minute — why is this cat acting like a ninja in our home? What is she scheming?

Misinformation networks are killing us

They misspelled “disinformation”

Something called the Red Pill Festival went down in Idaho recently, led by the odious Matt Shea. It was the usual bullshit from the Christian Right.

The Red Pill Festival served as a rendezvous point Saturday for those who traffic in anti-government conspiracy theories and as a recruiting event, given credibility by a lineup of state lawmakers from the Christian conservative wing of the Republican party.

What I found interesting, though, was the next step in pandemic denial. Here’s a fellow who had COVID-19, is suffering from serious respiratory issues and in a wheelchair, and he still refuses to accept the reality of the virus.

Steve Black, a 72-year-old from Spokane, was directing cars to the parking lot from the back of a utility vehicle. Saturday’s event was the first time he had been out of the house for about a year after COVID-19 left him with some challenging health issues, he said. He surmised COVID-19 was a “political thing, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they sprayed it out of the air.”

Asked to clarify, he said “chem trails,” a debunked suggestion that condensation trails from aircraft is actually a government ploy to crop-dust citizens with some nefarious substance.

Wow. It’s easier for him to believe the US government is intensionally hosing its citizens with a poison to kill them than to think a disease, of the kind that has plagued humanity for millennia, might be responsible? Impressive twisty logic there, guy.

And then we have the father of a survivor of the Parkland shooting. For years, I sent my kids off to public school every school day, and if one of my children had suffered through that kind of terror, I’d be totally wrenched, I’d feel like I’d never be able to offer enough love and support to compensate. Not this guy!

He was part of the final graduating class of survivors of the 2018 shooting, and they all had just marked the third anniversary of the day 17 people were killed, nine of whom were Bill’s classmates.

But Bill also had to deal with his father’s daily accusations that the shooting was a hoax and that the shooter, Bill, and all his classmates were paid pawns in a grand conspiracy orchestrated by some shadowy force.

Bill had worked hard to get over his survivor’s guilt after the shooting, but for the past five months, his own father has been triggering it all over again.

“He’ll say stuff like this straight to my face whenever he’s drinking: ‘You’re a real piece of work to be able to sit here and act like nothing ever happened if it wasn’t a hoax. Shame on you for being part of it and putting your family through it too,” Bill said in an anonymous post on Reddit last week.’

How could this be? You know the answer: QAnon.

As is true for many who fell down the QAnon rabbit hole in recent years, Bill’s dad’s descent coincided with the pandemic.

“It started a couple months into the pandemic with the whole anti-lockdown protests,” Bill said. “His feelings were so strong it turned into facts for him. So if he didn’t like having to wear masks it wouldn’t matter what doctors or scientists said. Anything that contradicted his feelings was wrong. So he turned to the internet to find like-minded people which led him to QAnon.”

But until January, that was as far as it went. Then Bill’s father saw a video of Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene harassing Parkland survivor David Hogg in 2018, while he was visiting Washington to advocate for stricter gun control. Greene has repeatedly voiced support for QAnon and claimed the Parkland shooting was a hoax.

“He is a coward,” Greene told her followers.

Ever since then, Bill’s father has become convinced the shooting his son survived was a so-called “false flag” event and that the shooter was “​​a radical commie actor.”

Q isn’t going away soon, but it will go away. One of the things I note in all these stories is how most of the fanatics are my age or older — it’s a movement of the decrepit. We’ll all die off eventually, and I expect the younger folk out there to do better.

It’s been a pretty good day

I’ve just been tuned into the American Arachnology Society meeting all day, and boy is my brain tired. It’s a good tired, though.

Then Mary gave me a belated Father’s Day gift: a Laowa 60mm f/2.8 ultra-macro lens. She shouldn’t have. I’ve only had a few minutes free to play with it, but it’s sweet: amazingly clear and sharp, but definitely not your casual macro lens, since it has no autofocus, no electronic aperture control, no image stabilization, just a hunk of very nice glass.

Now I have a little time to go on a walk and try it out. It’s a hot day, the spiders have been gamboling in my office, there’s a good chance I’ll find my octo-friends outside. Also, AAS is running a bioblitz, so I’ll have to get some specimens for that.

Oh, and DEREK CHAUVIN WAS SENTENCED TO 22.5 YEARS IN PRISON. That’s a relief, now I don’t have to riot and set Morris on fire tonight.

The CDC is run by idiots

I trust them on the science. When they say being vaccinated means you’re pretty safe and don’t need a mask in most circumstances, I believe them. When they say we can loosen social distancing requirements outdoors, I’ll believe them, and the studies do support that. But you have to know by now that this pandemic has a psychological, sociological, and political dimension that you also have to recognize, and they have to know that their advice has ramifications. Our idiot conservative democrat governor has to know that too, but do they care? No. Our state mask mandate has been dismissed, thanks to the short-sighted recommendations of the CDC. This is only going to encourage the worst elements in the state.

Case in point: our local grocery store, Willie’s Super-Valu of Morris, Minnesota.

When the seriousness of the pandemic began to hit us all, they dragged their heels on implementing even the most basic preventive policies. For months, they were carefree, few of the workers wore masks, and almost none of the customers did. It was so disgracefully bad that we gave up and started shopping 40 minutes away. They finally did put up signs requiring masks in the store, but it was too late — we have lost all trust in the store. I go there only reluctantly, and when absolutely necessary, like today. I’ve been car-less for almost a month while my wife was off spending all her time with our granddaughter, and the pantry was bare. She’s going back this week so I’ve just this weekend to stock up again, and I made the mistake of going to Willie’s.

The instant the governor ended the mandate, the signs all went away. None of the workers are masked anymore, and very few of the customers. The kaffeeklatsches have resumed, with people stopping in the middle of aisles to gossip with other residents. We are back to “normal”, I guess, but the pandemic isn’t over, and the CDC recommendations are about people who have been vaccinated…that is, about half the population. This is a politically conservative area, so I have no confidence that any of the people in that store have been following prior recommendations, or have been vaccinated, or at all responsible in protecting the health of the community. I sure as hell don’t trust the owners of the store.

So here we are again, with the local Trump-loving citizens of this town showing their asses and being irresponsible.

I’m going to have to continue occasionally visiting Willie’s — it’s basically the only major grocery store in walking distance — when my wife takes the car again, but as soon as she gets back home again for good, they have lost my business. It’s a shame, too, that a place that has the silly slogan “Home of the People-Lovers” should so reliably betray their community.

Glory! Welcome the Jubilee!

I drove by the local grocery store, and there, on the other side of the street, was a…was a…you won’t believe this, but I actually saw a…

TACO TRUCK!!!

In Morris! I don’t know if it’ll be here for long, but we were promised this way back in 2016. At last it has been accomplished, at last it is done.

(I didn’t actually stop at the taco truck — there were several people in line, but I don’t do that anymore.)

Sometimes, I pine for life in the Pacific Northwest

Sometimes, I don’t.

An “exceptional” atmospheric river, rated Category 5, is drenching the Pacific Northwest, unleashing a fire hose of moisture — heavy, flooding downpours, along with mudslides and strong winds in parts of coastal Oregon and Washington. Up to 10 inches of rain are possible, with multiple feet of snow in the high elevations. And signs point to another atmospheric river targeting the region late in the week.

Unfortunately, the left over bits of PNW storms often end up here in Minnesota as blizzards.

I am powerless!

We’re experiencing a blizzard right now — I know I was complaining about the lack of snow this year, but that doesn’t mean I wanted it all at once, and I could do without the savage winds — and now it has knocked out all the power to our house. No internet. No lights. No Netflix. No refrigeration (not worried about that one, we just put everything in a cardboard box and put it out on the deck). At least I’ve got some old fashioned books to tide me over, until darkness falls.

Every step in this sequence is equally stupid

Here’s an unremarkable correlation in idiocy.

  • You want to have an elaborate “gender reveal” party. We could stop right there, you can just fuck off now, I don’t want to be your friend.
  • You decide the reveal will be by some kind of flashy pyrotechnics. If you want to tell me the sex of your incipient child, just say “it’s a boy” or “it’s a girl”. That’s adequate. I don’t need a flashy garnish. Congratulations!
  • You are going to set off your fireworks in CALIFORNIA? And you live there? And you’ve been warned over and over about the fire danger?

Well, that’s a regular cascade of predictable foolishness, with the end result of the El Dorado Fire. Brilliant.