January 16, 2021

Saturday Brunch, December 5 2020

Hello, friends, and welcome to the weekend. How about some brunch?

I told my wife I wanted a book for Christmas. Just a book. Nothing else. And, no, not some first rare first-edition Tolstoy or something; just an art book that is coming out this month. So she was happy to agree.

But I might need a bigger bookcase:

That, my friends, is a three-volume collection of photos from the Sistine Chapel. What makes it special?

  • It is printed at 1 to 1 scale. You get the same size as it was originally painted.
  • A team of photographers visited the chapel over 67 consecutive nights while it was closed off to the public. They used a 33-foot-tall scaffold and rig.
  • They took 270,000 separate ultra-high def digital photos.
  • Those photos were then seamlessly stitched together using special imaging software to create gigapixel images.
  • the book contains 822-pages across three volumes that each measures 24×17 inches (61x43cm) and [each] weighs 25 pounds (~11.3kg).
  • The book is printed on Fedrigoni Symbol Tatami paper with spines in white calf leather debossed in silver, gold, and platinum foil stamping. I don’t know what half of that means, but it sounds impressive.
  • Only 1,999 copies of this book are being published worldwide, with only 600 sets in English, and there will never be a reprinting.

Here are some pics.

Now, how much will this little thing set back my dear wife? Only $22,000. She doesn’t know that yet. But, hey, that includes postage and shipping, so there’s that.

Norway has made “Biphobic, Transphobic Speech” illegal.” More specifically, “The penal code states that those who are guilty of hate speech face a fine of up to a year in jail for private comments, and a maximum of three years in jail for public remarks. Furthermore, those charged with violent crimes that are motivated by a victim’s orientation or gender identity will receive harsher sentences.”

So, a private comment deemed hateful to an LGBT person or persons could get you a one-year jail sentence. Make this comment in public, and you’re looking at three years in jail, the same penalty for third-degree murder (meaning, by neglect) in Norway.

Supporters of the bill note that “for prosecution comments must be direct attacks against LGBTQ+ people or include language that intentionally dehumanizes them to the public.”

But would quoting relevant verses from the Bible cross that line? Would stating that there are only two sexes cross that line? Would denying the term “marriage” to a same-sex union cross that line?

And just who gets to decide which “speech” will land you in jail?

And which kinds of speech will land you there 10 years from now?

Did you know North Korea sent boatloads of ballots into a harbor in Maine before the U.S. election? Totally true. No less an authority than Roger Stone, the dude convicted to lying to investigators in the Mueller probe, has let the cat out of the bag.

“I just learned of absolute incontrovertible evidence of North Korean boats delivering ballots through a harbor in Maine, the state of Maine. If this checks out, if law enforcement looked into that and it turned out to be true, it would be proof of foreign involvement in the election.”

So many questions, here:

  • If the evidence is absolutely incontrovertible, then…where is it?
  • Wouldn’t Kim want his buddy Trump to win anyway?
  • So North Korean boats can now dump stuff off in Maine and not only are they not stopped, but the president doesn’t even know about it?
  • Wouldn’t North Korean boats maybe go to a harbor on the same ocean as North Korea? Or did the crew have a craving for lobster?

Soooo many questions.

J.R.R. Tolkien’s Oxford house is up for sale: “The longtime home of the author J.R.R. Tolkien is about to re-enter the market, and a crowdfunding campaign has been started with hopes that Lord of the Rings and Hobbit fans will support an initiative to purchase, restore and turn the property into a Tolkien museum.” It’s a cool house, but I’m not sure how Tolkien himself would feel about it.

J.R.R. Tolkien lived in this Oxford home and wrote “The Hobbit” and much of the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy here.

The more things change, the more they stay the same: “The best thing about reading lively narrative histories is the realization that we do not, in fact, live in uniquely strange times. The last few years have been unsettling, to say the least; but as Matthew Lockwood reminds us in his new book To Begin the World Over Again, so were the 1770s, ’80s, and ’90s. In his lengthy, leisurely study, he takes his readers from the eye of the storm in North America and London to the myriad lands that were affected by the American War of Independence, demonstrating that “a local protest over taxes in a remote corner of North America would end on the streets of Dublin, the mountains of Peru, the beaches of Australia, and the jungles of India.” Lockwood draws a moral from this spectacle and lays it out in his introduction: ‘Examining the revolution from a truly global perspective, both geographically and thematically, forcefully reveals the often tragic interconnectedness of the world, compelling us to contemplate ourselves in an entangled world rather than as an isolated, excep­tional chosen people. Removing the blinkers of a narrowly national political point of view opens new horizons of understanding, allow­ing us to realize the most urgent lesson taught by America’s founding moment: American actions have, and have always had, unforeseen, unimagined global consequences.’”

Molly Everette Gibson, the daughter of Tina and Ben Gibson, was born Oct. 26. Her mother gave birth to her after an embryo that had been frozen for more than 27 years was implanted. 

This picture, taken last month, is of a 27-year old woman. Okay, not really. But she was conceived 28 years ago. Molly Gibson, a Tennessee baby born in this fall to Ben and Tina Gibson, set the record for the longest-frozen embryo to result in a live birth, more than 27 years. The previous record was set in 2017, when Molly’s older sister, Emma, was born after an embryo from the same donor couple was implanted in Ms. Gibson.

“Both pregnancies went smoothly,” Tina said. “Both are perfectly healthy.” The age of the embryos is something the couple now laughs about. “We always joke that Emma is an old soul. She does something and I’ll say, ‘That’s the ’90s baby coming out in you.’”

If you watch only one filipino cola ad made by insane middle-schooler boys on meth, make sure it’s this one:


One of the largest examples of ancient rock art has been discovered in the Amazon.

Many of the paintings are very high up, similar to these at the nearby site of Cerro Azul, some so high they can only be reached by drones.

“Hailed as “the Sistine Chapel of the ancients”, archaeologists have found tens of thousands of paintings of animals and humans created up to 12,500 years ago across cliff faces that stretch across nearly eight miles in Colombia. Their date is based partly on their depictions of now-extinct ice age animals, such as the mastodon, a prehistoric relative of the elephant that hasn’t roamed South America for at least 12,000 years. There are also images of the palaeolama, an extinct camelid, as well as giant sloths and ice age horses.” There are more pictures here. And don’t tell Ken Ham.

Did you know that every year a group hosts the annual comedy wildlife photography awards? Let’s end with some of their finalists for 2020.




    (I almost want to make up ‘captions’ for those great pictures)

    Thanks, Daniel

  2. Pellicano Solitudinis says

    The giraffe on the right has been photobombed by the one on the left and is Not Amused.

    The parrots – “Talk to the claw cos the beak isn’t interested.”

    That little gopher is practising for auditions for a part in a Shakespeare play.

    The macaque at the bottom looks like Gollum landing in the fires of Mt Doom.

    • Daniel Jepsen says

      Good stuff

      • Pellicano Solitudinis says

        Mama Bear: “Can we, just once, have a nice photo with everyone behaving normally?”

        The turtle has spent his morning looking for something to eat that isn’t a plastic bag. Humans aren’t his favourite right now.

        The mouse is really hoping the fox’s mum read him Aesop’s Fables when he was little, specifically the one about the lion and the mouse.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          The fox & mouse one looks ideal for a “BAD RESPAWN” meme.
          (Though that fox looks VERY young. Young enough to want to play with the mouse instead of eating him.)

    • Burro (Mule) says

      The macaque at the bottom:

      “In my day, you had to pick the seeds out by hand and then c-a-r-e-f-u-l-l-y tuck the edges of the paper under before you twisted it up.”

      The giraffes:

      “You’re right. The Kandinsky looks better from this angle. Do you think they hung it correctly?”

      The bro bear:

      “Hey! I’m open over here, glory hog!”

      The fox to the vole:

      “Wha’ I tell ya ’bout come’ ‘roun dis hood, pendejo?

      The seagull? teal?

      “I don’t think my CPU can handle this graphics card”

      The female macaque:

      “Can you f-e-ee-ee-ee-ee-ee-l the Spir-rit here tonight?”

  3. Why do names like Hinn, Copeland and Osteen go through my mind when I see the animal pictures?

  4. Dan from Georgia says

    At first I thought you were kidding when you mentioned that the Sistine Chapel books reprints were 1:1 scale.

    I heard that aliens from Jupiter came down and zapped a bunch of Trump-winning ballots that were on their way to counting sites in Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Michigan…

  5. We’ve been hearing the engine noise of strange boats lately, usually around 2 or 3 in the morning. It sounds like some activity down in Bunker’s Head Cove, possibly the landing of North Koreans with counterfeit voter ballots. The summer homes are empty this time of year, but I’ll ask around with some of the caretakers. Incidentally, Tolkein’s home in that photo would fit right in along that shoreline. Imagine that stuffed with ballots, waiting to overthrow the current president. Could happen.

    I’m headed out now to bring in my next-to-the-last load of traps this season. I’ll swing in by the cove on the way out.

    • I didn’t see any activity in the cove this morning, or anywhere along the north shore of the island, but it was still a little dark. But on the way back, around 11, I saw a man in a trench coat and a fedora hat. It was raining by then, and he was skulking around the rocks of Bunker’s Head, carrying a white flag with what appeared to be a blue and red yin-yang symbol.

      • Sorry. Wrong flag. Really should do better research, even for satire.

        What I MEANT to say was that this character had a red and blue flag with a big red star in it. Yeah. That’s it.

        He may have been advertising Texaco, however. No absolute incontrovertible evidence of North Korean boats.

        Or, I may be part of the cover-up. What do you wanna hear?

  6. Daniel, when your wife gets the credit card bill and takes note of the cost of the books you will be amazed how strong she is when she picks up one of those maga-tomes and beats you about the head with it… ;o)

    • Pellicano Solitudinis says

      Speaking as a person whose partner’s taste in books is expensive, I believe the correct procedure is to get what money one can for the books, legally or otherwise, before battering the aforementioned spouse with something rather less valuable.

    • On the other hand…if you’ve got the disposable income… This is a very limited run and most of the copies are destined for official institutions. A private copy will substantially increase in value in just a few years. Of course you can’t open the book and actually look at it. Just wrap it up, place it in a vault, and forget about it for ten or twenty years.

      • Daniel Jepsen says

        Actually, I had that thought also. I would have to sell both cars and refinance our house to make the payment, but I bet I could make a killing off it in 15 years.

        And it does come with a set of white gloves. Really.

  7. “The Sistine Chapel of the ancients”…looks to be in a tropical clime. How do cliff paintings persist?

  8. Steve Newell says

    For another installment of “This Week in Right Wing Crazies”, recently pardoned Michael Flynn called on Trump to do the following:

    * Suspend the US Constitution
    * Declare marshal law
    * Have the US military to conduct a national election to reelect Trump

    So much for his oath as a soldier to “protect and defend the Constitution of the United States from all enemies, both foreign and domestic”.

    • Crazy stuff. This man was a general in the U.S. Army, and National Security Advisor. And the course he recommended to Trump is widely supported on the far Right; in fact, it’s mild in comparison to some of what is being promoted, which includes mass arrests of federal and state officials and judges,and public execution for “traitors.” This man should never have been anywhere near positions of official power; he makes Robert Duvall’s character Colonel Kilgore in Apocalypse Now look sober.

    • What does a pardon mean?
      Burdick v. United States
      “a pardon carries an imputation of guilt and acceptance carries a confession”

      • Yeah…surely part of the pardon is explaining just what the beneficiary is being pardoned from. This is why most pardons come after conviction. What Trump wants is called immunity from prosecution. But none of this can prevent what’s coming from the AG of NY who is waiting for January 21st.

      • I heard T**** wants to pardon his family members and himself before he leaves office. This is the stupidest thing he’s done amid a sea of stupidity.


        • The president has since denied that on Twitter. But…apparently there was a conversation about it.

          What exactly is a “pre-emptive pardon?” Isn’t that an admission of guilt before there’s even a charge of crime?

          One can never be too careful.

        • Yes, he does want to do just that, and no amount of backpedaling on his part can erase what he initially said.

          I mean, he pardoned Joe Arpaio.

  9. Roger Stone says the North Koreans put that rock art on those cliff faces, to undermine real Christianity in America. They did it around a month ago, at the time of the election.

  10. As you’ve reported it, what Norway is doing, on the face of it, does seem very oppressive of free speech, which means that it could also be very oppressive of religion, as you’ve pointed out. A year in prison for saying something deemed hateful in private? That would also seem to promote citizens operating as informants for governmental totalitarian-like monitoring of all aspects of private life.

    • Look at it this way. Time was, when a black person, or an LGBTQ person, spoke up for their rights, they’d get harassed, beaten, or even killed. And many conservative people would still have it that way if they could. Free speech was and is not an absolute, in any society. And however odious some folks will see laws like this, you gotta admit that karma is a *****.

      • My point is, in case my sarcasm is a bit too subtle, that if you are so concerned about this law, and didn’t give two shakes about how the people this law is supposed to protect were treated before this, then that looks a lot like hypocrisy.

        • I’m concerned about both, though I have to say that I don’t exactly know the current situation in Norway with regard to the already existing legal protections for LGBTQ people, nor if Norwegian society is known for current oppression of the same. My admittedly limited knowledge about this gives me the impression that Norway is socially, legally, and politically already very progressive with regard to LGBTQ rights and inclusion.

          • You should look up the rise of the far right in Norway (and other Scandinavian countries). It’s scary.


            • I remain wary of the criminalization of speech. It gives government tremendous power which can be abused now or later; and it results in prohibited speech going underground, where it can either die… or fester.

              • And that has always been the case. But again, why are we only concerned about this *now*, when we perceive *our* rights in danger? You’ll have a hard time convincing anyone not in the conservative/libertarian bubble that we aren’t being hypocrites about this…

                • I don’t perceive my rights as being in danger. I’m in favor of full inclusion of LGBTQ folk in all aspects of church and secular life. As for the homophobic parts of the Bible, my denomination already edits them out in the lectionary cycle, and has for a long time. They are only read and studied as examples of the oppressive aspects of our tradition.

              • Robert, i have a reply to you in moderation for now. I don’t know that we understand exactly what’s going on in Norway.

                But the main point of my post isn’t about that.

                Hope you’ll check back later. I’ve already sent CM a heads-up. (I seem to run into the spam filters a lot – none of the posts that get trapped that way have been offensive. One was about nuns who were scientists!)

          • Well, there’s this: none of us are Norwegian and likely none of us can read Norwegian or have family in Norwayl. Meaning that we really do not know much about any aspect of the situation.

            The thing is, we all could do with looking at the murder rate of trans folks + rate of other hate crimes, particularly re. Ztrans folks, in the US. And the suicide rate, especially among teens and young adults who are trans. (As well as LGBQ+, more generally.)

            Once you see the figures, look for the stories of how those people died, and what their lives were like. Presently, people like Laverne Cox and Janet Mock are very exceptional. And Laverne Cox was walking down the street with another transwoman earlier this week when her friend was violently attacked by an angry man who was shouting epithets at them both. Frankly, they were lucky to escape with their lives.

            This happens *every day,* multiple times per day – like other violent crimes, particularly rape.

            Please, people- don’t just accept whatever your current or former “party line” is regarding all LGBTQ+ folks, but in this case, most especially tramns folks.

            I have friends whose oldest child is trans. The refusal to accept this + irrational anger on the part of family members is REALLY bad. The child in question is in their mid-teens. The kind of stuff being leveled against this kid is *exactly* what drives so many young trans kids to despair and suicide.

            Kindness costs nothing. And I’m certain Jesus would never treat any trans person as this particular teen is being treated.

            Oh, btw: those angry family members are white evangelicals. Every.single.one.of.them.

            For me and for so many others, hatred and violence toward trans folks isn’t some hypothetical thing.

      • The government monitoring and punishing speech, even in the home, by loosely defined criteria is not just payback, but dangerous overreach that forms the substrata on which the edifice of totalitarianism is built. You or I may support the goals of the current government of Norway in using such means for what we consider worthwhile goals, but when the government changes next week or next year, we may consider things very differently. If the neo-fascists who have recently taken charge of Hungary were to legislate this same policy in support of their nationalist agenda —- and they may! — , we would rightly decry it.

      • Look at it this way Eeyore. Imagine political groups become officially protected classes of people. What you just said about conservatives seems very hateful. Perhaps someone could report you, maybe you spend a year in jail, perhaps you just get a major fine. But oh well, like you said, freedom of speech has never been an absolute. So let’s just keep restricting it until no one can say anything that might offend whoever the ruling party might be at this hour.

        • I’m wary of legislation against hate-speech (which I do believe exists, and is deplorable) for the same reason I would be wary against legislation against hate-thought: both require too much much governmental invasiveness of and power over human affairs, power that would necessarily be wielded by imperfect and sometimes malign people and institutions that would abuse it in the service of oppression.

          • Eeyore is not wrong that freedom speech is not absolute, I can’t freely commit perjury. However, freedom of speech is one of the most important right we have and any time someone wants to limit it further they better have a dang good reason for doing so.

            • Klasie Kraalogies says

              Like protecting people from hate that actively harms and kills?

              • The problem comes with who defines hate? If I say the Bible declares homosexual sex to be sinful, is that hate? If I say marriage can only be the union of a man with a woman, is that hate? To some people it is.

                • How about we let the people who have suffered most from hate define it?

                  • Are you assuming that those people all agree with each other regarding this matter?

                    • Does everyone agree on speed limits? No. But we have and enforce them anyways. And in most cases err on the side of safety and precaution more than speed and freedom when setting those limits. The same principle applies here I think.

                • Klasie Kraalogies says

                  Regarding your final question. On a personal level I’d say the following:

                  You are free to say that “I have a belief system that marriage is between a man and a woman”. What you are not free to say is that people who don’t believe that should not be allowed to marry or have their marriages recognized, should be discriminated in terms of employment, and are evil bastards. The latter is hate speech that encourages harm.

                  But that is my personal and current opinion

                  • Klaise, you don’t think a person should have the right to say that people of the same sex shouldn’t be allowed to be married? If the law of the land allows same sex couples to get married, then certainly no one has the right to stop them from getting married, but they should still have the right to voice their disagreement with that law. I don’t defend free speech because I want people to go around saying hateful things. I defend it because of the danger of suppressing the truth, suppressing honest dialogue, and suppressing dissent against those in power. How would you have liked for Trump to have been in charge of defining hate speech for the last four years and having the power to punish those who he considered speaking hatefully?

                    • The ACLU gets to make this argument, because they have consistently stood up for the right of everyone to speak (the KKK included). We American Christians have very little moral authority left to make it, however.

                    • Speak for yourself Eeyore. I’ve never denied someone’s right to free speech, or supported such a thing. So I’ll make the argument all I want

                    • If we claim to be Christians in America, we are part of that legacy. We don’t get to play innocent. Myself included. Which is why I’m not criticizing that Norwegian law at all.

                    • Klasie Kraalogies says

                      Can you say it without ending up doing it?

                    • Eeyore, Christians in America are not a monolith. Just because I happen to be a Christian who happens to live in America doesn’t mean that I or anyone else is guilty of whatever certain Christians in America have done. This is taking the concept of communal guilt to absurdity. What about black Christians in America, or gay Christians in America? What about the white Christians who marched for civil rights or supported gay marriage? Do they all have to keep silent about free speech as well? Do two wrongs make a right? Does oppression in the past require oppression in the present or future? This self flagellation for things you aren’t even guilty of is ridiculous.

                    • Klaise I’m interested to know what you think about my last question; would you want a man like Donald Trump in charge of policing and punishing hate speech? Would you want him to have the authority to punish people he believed were using hate speech? If that thought makes you uncomfortable, you will understand why I get uncomfortable when people start talking about making laws against hate speech.

                    • “Just because I happen to be a Christian who happens to live in America doesn’t mean that I or anyone else is guilty of whatever certain Christians in America have done.”

                      How very individualistic of you. But the Bible is chock full of examples of collective guilt and responsibility, at least as many examples as there are for individual guilt.

                    • Klasie Kraalogies says

                      Oh I understand your discomfort Jon. It is not an easy subject. But you have to understand that someone like Trump is an extremist leader of a far right political party. American politics has been distorted- Biden is a centrist using the metrics of the rest of the world. Which makes Obama slightly right of centre. This is relevant because any extremist government in charge of anything is a frightening idea.

                      That being said, in theory you have the rule of law and the independence of the courts. I say in theory because in practice your supreme court is so far from impartial it is laughable. Your judicial system is an absolute bloody joke.

                      But the question here was never America. Other places exist. Places where the rule of law and the well being of society as a whole are still respected. Places such as Norway. Now they are by no means perfect, and it will probably take a single Google search to find something wrong, even something abominable. But in the end this is why we say that Democracy is fragile. It needs to be protected. And by Democracy I don’t mean just the practice of voting for our overlords. I mean the entire system of checks and balances, the delicate dance between the rights of the individual and the wellbeing of society.

                      America is not the bastion of democracy. At this stage it is a bloody joke of cosmic proportions. But still a better place to be than.a sizeable junk of this planet. I wish it well. But man, it can do with a chill pill and taking a serious bloody look kn the mirror.

                    • >I say in theory because in practice your supreme court is so far from impartial it is laughable.

                      A good reason to be apprehensive about some of these Trump law suits designed to overturn the election reaching the SCOTUS. No matter how many of these suits state courts and federal circuit courts have dismissed, the Trump partisans on the SCOTUS could turn it all around with one partisan decision. And then things in this country will come apart at the seams.

              • Klasie – THIS


                • As to Norway, do any of us read Norwegian?

                  There *has* to be much more to the story than we English-speaking non-Norwegians know.

                  And sadly, none of us seems willing to do the research – so far – but instead, we’re arguing from our minimal knowledge as presented by Daniel above.

                  Until we actually know the whole stiry, perhaps we should refrain from making assumptions? That’s my take, anyway..

                  Knowing about actual v.i.o.l.e.n.c.e against trans people in *our* country might be illuminating. Just saying…. b/c it’s a *lot,* as are s.u.i.c.i.d.e.s., especially among teens-young adults who are trans.

                  Again, just saying…

                • Ack! Now i have not one, but two replies in mod.

                  Oh well. Those filters catch even the most innocuous comments at times.

          • I would be wary against legislation against hate-thought

            Any “hate” crime statute that requires mind reading is an abomination.


    • From what I can find out, Norway has had a hate speech law since 1981; this latest iteration is an expansion to include another group. In practice it is most commonly used to make another crime (e.g., battery) more serious. BTW the new law also now protects straight people (it changed the wording of the current law from homosexual orientation to sexual orientation). The Norwegian Constitution does protect freedom of speech and the final check would likely be the European Court of Human Rights. I checked the Columbia University Global Freedom of Expression for actual cases. The ones that dealt with hate speech included

      1. “conviction of an individual for hate speech and inconsiderate behavior for using racial slurs against a Norwegian-African doorman who refused him entry into a bar due to suspected intoxication.” https://globalfreedomofexpression.columbia.edu/cases/norwegian-prosecution-authority-v-x-2012/
      2. “The defendant who posted a racist message on the Facebook profile of a well-known singer, writer and journalist was convicted under Norway’s hate speech laws. He alleged she had “slept her way into permanent leave to stay” and called on her to “move back to Africa”. He was sentenced to imprisonment because he was also found to be in possession of illegal drugs.” https://globalfreedomofexpression.columbia.edu/cases/norwegian-prosecution-authority-v-x/
      3. “The Oslo Magistrate’s Court sentenced three persons to prison for assaulting and racially abusing two Norwegian nationals of Kurdish origin. The Oslo Magistrate’s Court found that sufficient evidence had been presented to determine the defendants had acted on the basis of racist attitudes and that such racist hate speech was not protected under the Norwegian Constitution. Following the assault two Norwegian nationals, X and Z, and one British national, Y, were convicted of aggravated violence motivated by racism; Y was additionally convicted of shouting racist hate speech. X was sentenced to 120 days’ imprisonment, Y to 75 and Z to 60 days’ imprisonment. This decision indicates the limits of hate speech under Norwegian law and provides an example of what constitutes racially aggravated assault.” https://globalfreedomofexpression.columbia.edu/cases/norwegian-prosecution-authority-v-x-y-z/
      4. the defendant was acquitted of “respectively, for making a discriminatory or hateful expression against the lesbian victim of assault and his public admiration of terrorist attacks” (he said they should have been stoned) though convicted of “threatening, discriminatory or hateful expressions against Norwegian Jews” and also for threatening some journalists https://globalfreedomofexpression.columbia.edu/cases/hussain-v-norwegian-prosecution-authority/

      • Klasie Kraalogies says

        Thanks for that! Context, evidence – who would have thought?

        • Indeed!

          Which is exactly why the bare mention in the OP was, i think, unwise.

          Daniel, you’re a good guy, but with topics like this one, maybe…. next time, more research?

          I’m *not* upset with you, just an inveterate researcher who used to do research for a living. Context is all, especially when it appears that a “fact” is outrageous. More often than not, such statements are made in media where distortions and, all too often, “alternative ‘facts,'” are the stock in trade of the site, newspaper, whatever.

          • Daniel Jepsen says

            numo, fair enough. I used to do a fair bit of research myself.

            On the other hand, the Saturday Brunch is a place where things are presented with some brevity. And I was trying to make deadline.

        • The Scandinavian countries are orders of magnitude better than the US on most human rights issues, although notably behind on one particular issue, that of indigenous peoples (in this case, the Sami, still known – pejoratively- as “Lapps” by many, both over there as well as here).

          We have many citizens who are at least partly if Sami descent, especially in the upper Midwest. Until recently, most Sweushe, Finnish and Norwegian Sami hid their origins, if/when possible. (Some can’t – like the singer Bjork, who has never spoken about her background, they have an epicanthic fold. Bjork could be Sami or possibly part-Inuit, but i don’t think she will ever discuss her heritage publicly,)

          • Klasie Kraalogies says

            Numo, which reminds me of something interesting. I did the DNA thing and I have (as was corroborated by genealogy) Khoisan DNA (the original nations of southern Africa and the oldest extant population group on the planet. My ex showed (potential) Sami markers. Which makes me kids potential recipients of indigenous ancestry from the opposite sides of the planet.

            • Klasie – wow! I know a bit about the Khoisan, but not much, apart from “The Gods Must Be Crazy” plus mentions of their way of life in old books on the Kalahari.

              Myself, i bet I’m not nearly as Pennsylvania German as I’ve been led to believe, but have never been tested. I have cousins who *must* have either Black or Native ancestry, possibly both. The physical traits show up about once a generation, in one child, usually. The cousin who was around my mom’s age looked like she’d come straight from Indian Country, out West, but she was as Pennsylvanian as the rest of us.

              One other possiblity: could be some Roma ancestry in there. In the 19th c., there are records of so-called “black Dutch” in south-central and eastern PA. They traveled in wagons and were adept at repairing kitchen tools/pots and pans, etc., and appear to have spoken a language that had many words borrowed from German, Dutch, or both. I suspect they were from the Netherlands and/or Germany.

          • Pellicano Solitudinis says

            Björk is Icelandic, I believe. They’ve always been a much more mixed bag than the mainland Nordics, as many of the women were of Irish and Scots origin.

            Epicanthic eye folds pop up all over northern Europe. My mother’s family are Friesian as far back as the records go, and most of the women have those eyes. I and my sister do, and so do some of our children.

            • Many Scandinavians are partly or entirely Sami, but even now, many don’t talk about it or let anyone outside of their families know. There’s a tremendous amount of prejudice.

              Those whose eyes have pronounced epicanthic folds can’t hid it. It’s assumed that many Sami are also descended from other Arctic peoples who do have obvious epicanthic folds.

              If you look at early 20th c. photos of Sami people, this comes across quite clearly, especially in group shots of some villagers, including Sami in what is now part of Russia’s Arctic coast. Inuit and various groups of Arctic hunter-gatherers from Siberia and points west used to have vast hunting “ranges,” and there’s a consensus on many Sami having “mixed” ancestry. Both the Inuit and other peoples in question look East/SE Asian in some ways.

  11. Some good acting in that Filipino commercial! But RC cola sucks.

    • Brianthegrandad says

      Yes. Very entertaining. Also, I found that the subtitles were a big help in understanding what was going on. And be thankful you’re making that hateful comment about RCCola here on Imonk and not in Norway. (Does the site have that kind of reach? Good thing we’re all under nom de plumes!)

    • Surrealism lives!

      But I have to wonder what the Filipinos think of an American actor having an orgasm when they scarf down a breath mint?

  12. What I Learned Last Week: The house in London where George Frederick Handel lived is a museum. OK, that’s not surprising. It turns out that Jimi Hendrix lived in the adjacent house. So they did the sensible thing and made them into a single-admission double museum. Bravo!

  13. Klasie Kraalogies says

    From the Reuters article on the Norwegian law:

    The bar for prosecution is high, requiring direct incitement against people or language that dehumanises them, she said.

    Direct incitement against. Read those words again and think about what they mean. Then calm down about Free Speech.

    • Again, as my lead off comment indicated, I’m not adequately familiar with the law or the level of anti-LGBTQ crime in Norway that would’ve necessitated the legislation. Incitement to violence certainly is not a legitimate expression of free speech; but “language that dehumanizes” is a very vague and broad phrase, and what it means more precisely would depend on each country’s legal tradition and history. The excitement isn’t about free speech, but about the danger of giving any government — beyond the Norwegian case — oppressive power in the name of curbing evil speech. It is a liberal, not a reactionary, concern.

    • flatrocker says

      What I think it means doesn’t matter all that much. The definition imposed by those having the power to incarcerate matters a lot more.

      And in the land of the perpetually aggrieved and offended, “direct incitement that dehumanizes” can mean anything.

      • Klasie Kraalogies says

        Remember, we are speaking about a country under the rule of law here, not the US.

        • Should I be comforted or concerned that the one person in this discussion I most agree with is the agnostic/atheist? 😉

          • Klasie Kraalogies says

            I know how I would answer that question… 🙂

          • Just don’t be offended. I’d hate to end up in jail 🙂

            • Klasie Kraalogies says

              You might rethink that if younsaw Norwegian jails. Interestingly, those kails result in a much lower rate of recidivism than the abominations here in North America.

              Maybe in some aspects the Norwegians are just a little bether at running a society, and we could all learn from them.

              • Klasie, to that I say a hearty YES!

              • Klasie, yep!

                Given that Reconstruction has never been allowed to finish (nor has it ever been reinstated!), given that the federal government only moved against Jim Crow “laws” when its hand was forced, and given the curfent horrific resurgence of white supremacism + many accompanying hate crimes, well…. we here have no room to accuse other countries for acting to prevent and even prosecute those who are extremely hostile toward fellow citizens who, as the offenders see it, are abominations for the sole reason that they’re “different” in sime way or another.

                We are, on the whole, an extremely intolerant country. The rise in hate crimes against the Jewish community, Muslims, Sikhs and those of many other religious backgrounds since 2001, but especially since the 2016 campaign season, should be an obvious indication.

                – Written from the state in which a mass murder if elderly Jewish folks at worship (Tree of Life synagogue) took place not all that long ago…

              • I get the feeling my quality of life would go up if I lived in a Norwegian prison. I’m sure I’d get better healthcare than as a “free” citizen of the US.

        • …”a country under the rule of law here, not the US.”

          Alas here in the US of A we confuse respect for the rule of law with respect for law enforcement.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        What I think it means doesn’t matter all that much. The definition imposed by those having the power to incarcerate matters a lot more.

        “There are those who will say what we do is illegal. Before that can happen, make sure WE are the ones who define what is legal and what is not.”
        — L Ron Hubbard, founder of Scientology

        And in the land of the perpetually aggrieved and offended, “direct incitement that dehumanizes” can mean anything.

        “You should have been Nice to me when I gave you the chance.”
        — my sociopath brother, when he screwed me out of an inheritance

    • I read them, and still they have to defined. What is it? Is it a direct call for violence against a group of people, or can it be defined as something that might potentially lead someone to discriminate against a group of people, even if there is no direct call to do so?

  14. senecagriggs says

    Would I be the only commenter at I-monk who thinks Ellen/Ellliot Page has serious emotional issues?

  15. Klasie Kraalogies says

    Unfortunately, after once again seeing the tendency of some here to degenirate and defend harm to others, as wenhave seen sonoften in the last 4 years especially, I am reminded of that 70’s/80’s little chorus

    “And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love”

    – and I am beginning to think the word love was seriously misplaced. Hate would be more accurate, and I say that being sad and disappointed.

    • And a lot of those same folk wonder why it is that their children and grandchildren have less than zero interest in the faith they profess.

      • Klasie Kraalogies says

        I certainly noticed that too.

        • Eep! Now i have a 3d comment hiding in the spam filter.

          Oh well… and the ironic thing is that none of them wre contentious.

      • Eeyore – yes.

        That son, the one Klasie quoted, comes from US Roman Catholic circles in the immediate post- Vatican IIMera of openness and ecumenism. I was in my teens when i sang it frequently, as i hobnobbed with Catholic charismatics back then. I not only believed in its lyrics, i really can say that i believe most of the folks i knew tried their best to live it out.

        But that was in the ewrly 1970s. Things were different (in both good ways and bad) then. One thing that was genuinely good was the ecumenical spirit of many American Catholics. I wish we could have that again, but originating from among Protestant and EO Xtians as well.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      That “little chorus” has changed since then.
      Now it goes:
      “And they’ll know we are Christians ’cause we’re smug, ’cause we’re smug,
      Yes they’ll know we are Christians ’cause we’re Smug…”

    • Daniel Jepsen says

      I’m confused here. Are Robert’s (and others) concerns about government over-reach and stifling free speech to be viewed as denigrating and defending harm to others?

      That is a rather uncharitable interpretation.

      • Klasie Kraalogies says

        Daniel, see Erp’s response. Context is important. And while it is worthy to protect free speech, 9 times out of 10 such discussions are a front for hate and discrimination. I am NOT saying that is what you or Robert were doing. Others were though.

      • Again, it’s a reaction to the perceived hypocrisy. When people who disagreed with the conservative/christendom concensus spoke out, they were punished, and few spoke up for them, and fewer worried about whether it was government overreach to say some sexes couldn’t have sex together. But when we think *we* might be the targets, then we’re all hot and bothered about “who gets to define what’s bad?” (Hint: it’s no longer us and we don’t like that) and “Government overreach!” (again, wasn’t a problem when we weren’t the ones in the cross hairs). And LGBTQ people *are* getting hurt in the process.

        Maybe, just maybe, we Christians should suck it up and take just a tiny dose of what we may perceive as persecution. It’s not like the Bible told us we wouldn’t get any of that in this life, after all…

        • I can’t think of an example in the last forty years where the federal government punished any body for speaking in favor of any group about anything. Nor can I think of an example where a large number of Christians tried to have the government punish people for speech or writing supporting same sex marriage. Can you provide some examples to support this argument? I’m not talking about the actions of individuals or private groups. I’m talking about the federal government punishing people for their ideas and beliefs being expressed, because that is the situation being discussed. If you go back farther maybe you can find some, I’m not a history expert. But I can’t think of a single time in the last forty years. If you don’t know of any this claim of hypocrisy regarding free speech is baseless.

          • Why the 40-year deadline? That puts things after the civil rights struggle, conveniently enough…

            • I’m going to take that as a no then. I wasn’t alive during the civil rights struggle and I’m not a historian, so I restricted myself to a time period I have a little more confidence in knowing.

              • If you’re not a historian, perhaps you should make some effort to become one. That 40-year cutoff conveniently puts a huge chunk of Jim Crow and the Civil Rights struggle out of the discussion, and they are quite germane to it.

                • Well go ahead and give me an example from the last sixty or seventy years then. And remember, this is about the federal government punishing people for speech, since that is the subject at hand.

          • Jon – well, the supposed Xtians who speak loudest about their belief that they’re being “persected” here in the US generally do so via broadcast networks, websites and actual, physical publications owned by supposedly Xtian concerns.


      • It seems to be the nature of such arguments that both sides talk past each other. One side sees this as a “free speech” issue. One side sees it as an effort to prevent oppression of marginalized groups.

        It reminds me of the abortion issue in this country. One side sees it as a protection of human life. One side sees it as an issue of bodily autonomy.

        If it was a simple black and white issue, one side right and the other wrong, there would be no problem. But in these matters both sides are right. And so we face one of the paradoxes of living in open democratic societies. Sometimes rights are in conflict with one another..

        • “One side sees this as a “free speech” issue. One side sees it as an effort to prevent oppression of marginalized groups.”

          True. However, biblically speaking the latter is far more important than the former.

      • Daniel – i honestly think both context (which is lacking in your OP regarding Norway and Norwegian law) is crucial.

        Their country is one anazing lot better at dealing with (most) hate speech and hate crimes than we are. If you see a mention of the info. that you posted that is cited without any context, then honestly, it’s advisable to come to grips with that before jumping to conclusions.

        Which you did (jump). I think very highly of you, but it’s not the 1st time that something about sexual orientation/gender issues has been cited by you in this way over the past several years of your contributions to “Ramblings.” You’ve done an excellent job at tackling a very (imo) difficult column, but this area… well needs a tune-up, perhaps.

        Oh, and… i remember the backlash you got over those bare-chested pics of Putin. In that case, i believe you were on the side of the angels. Am no fan of dictators.

        I know we’re going to hit the finish line soon, but…. maybe this column isn’t the best place to try and discuss issues surrounding sexual orientation and gender identity? Especially in (almost) one-liners?

        I know it can be hard, which is why I’m responding in this way. A good round table discussion, with folks who see other sides to these things (and, often, are living them out) might be a better way to approach them. Just saying…

        • Daniel Jepsen says

          numo, point taken. I appreciate your irenic spirit.


          • Thanks, Daniel. I wasn’t upset with you; just trying to make some suggestions + disagree without rancor.

            Like many of us, I’ve found the past 4 years exhausting per bigotry and generally nast views of all sorts becoming increasingly prominent. Too often, it seems, we don’t try to discuss things like grownups, but shout slogans at each other.

            It’s bad for us on every level, and not something i feel any desire to engage in.

            Peace to you!

  16. senecagriggs says

    So Klasie, you don’t think Ellen/Elliott has emotional issues?

    • Klasie Kraalogies says

      No I don’t, not in their decision to transition. Actually, the decision is likely a positive resolution of personal struggles they have had.

      Your obsession with the matter does indicate severe emotional issues with other people’s lives that have sweet all nothing to do with your own hang ups.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        All I can say is that Gender Dysphoria is a real bitch no matter what you do about it, and that to Christians “Trans is the new Fag”.

        And Christians have long had a hair up their ass about The Other Guys’s Pelvic Issues. Always The OTHER Guy’s.

    • Clay Crouch says

      What is your reason for even asking? Who doesn’t have emotional issues? Does your comment about this person come from a place of love and concern or only to denigrate?

    • Clay Crouch says

      Are you concerned about the POTUS’ emotional state?

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        No, because He is LORD and God.
        Remember the CHRISTIANS are the most fanatical of Trump Fanatics.

        “Though he slay me in thermonuclear fire, still shall I Praise Him.”

      • Yes, I’m more concerned about Trump’s emotional state, and how that impacts our nation, than Elliot/Ellen Page’s.

        But apparently Seneca has blinders on.

  17. Would stating that there are only two sexes cross that line?

    This brings up a big bug I have up my b***. Christians go with this all the time. But while not common, ambiguous sexual organs in newborns is not uncommon. And in a world of 8 billion or so people it happens a lot. But hard stats are hard to come by as most people hush it up. I’ve seen stats that range from 1 in 1000 to 1 in 10000.

    It happens to families in the medical community. It happens to Christians. It happens to Christians in the medical community. At what point do Christians have to admit that this totem is wrong.

    • Klasie Kraalogies says

      Indeed. Just on a chromosomal level there is significant diversity. XY chromosome individuals that have typical female bodies are a known phenomenon, for instance. Then there are XXY, XXXY, XXXXY, XX and YY genetics. And whe are not even speaking about the fact that there isn’t a 100% correlation between gender identity and biological sex (as in outer “hardware” ) either.

      Reductionist attitudes however are often just a front for hate propogation.

    • Apparently, admitting they’re wrong about *anything* is too much to ask, let alone having the same measure they’ve been applying to others for centuries be used against them – despite the fact that Jesus states that that is exactly how *He* will judge *us*.

    • Daniel Jepsen says

      The question in the post was whether this would be enough for the person stating it to be thrown in jail for three years, likely losing their jobs and ruining relationships.

      As it stands now, I doubt that would happen in Norway right now. But I am not certain, especially in 10 or 20 years. The interpretation will be up to some man or woman with the power of coercion.

      • Again, why does that bother us *now*? Why weren’t we making that argument *then*?

        (No, I am *not* going to stop harping on this, because that is exactly how the non-Christian world sees us when we make this argument, and they are absolutely correct to do so.)

      • Klasie Kraalogies says

        Because something can be misused is not an argument against that thing. If that were true, nothing would be legal, and/or nothing would be illegal. Law always requires discussion and debate about boundaries and grey areas.

      • The question in the post was

        If Christians are stating it and it’s not true …

  18. senecagriggs says

    [post deleted by moderator]

    Seneca, I appreciate the fact that you stick around, but your further comment on Elliot Page is off-topic and non-constructive. — Daniel

    • senecagriggs says

      Well the issues, D.J., was to whether or not there are emotional issues, which seems quite relevant to the discussion but I also know other posters have much more freedom post whatever they wish in comments where I am held to different stardards since I tend not to reflect the progressive narrative. As a conservative, I’m quite used to being censored on liberal blogs.

      To suggest a LGBT person might have emotional issues is so politically incorrect as to ask for censure if not jail time

      • Klasie Kraalogies says

        Maybe it isn’t your ideology. Maybe, just maybe, it is the way you go about talking about your ideology. And about others.

      • Daniel Jepsen says

        Hi Seneca. I am a conservative myself, mostly, though in the classical (non-trumpian) sense. I did not delete your comment because of idealogy.

        Here’s the problem. The column posed the question whether Norway’s law was a good idea; that is, whether it was just and reasonable, or whether it stifles free speech and will likely be abused. As you can see, several us us disagree, but the discussion was mostly on topic.

        You started three comment threads which did not address this question, but instead focused on the mental health of a certain individual. This was not an advancement of the discussion, but a hijacking of it. And focusing on the mental health of a certain individual, unless you are a counselor or someone personally helping that person, is neither constructive to the argument nor loving to the individual.

        • You do understand that if I published that statement in Norway I could be seen as breaking the law. IF you read it carefully, I in NO WAY am I denigrating or dehumanizing that individual.

          They did the whole transgender thing in the 70s when I was working on psych wards. The results were so negative they put a stop to it but it has now re-appeared and to even suggest that this is wrong will bring you into condemnation in the United States to say nothing of Norway.

          The current progressive Zeitgist in the USA would appear to be praise and accolades for actions that will have terrible consequences.

          Klasie is a self declared atheist [ there is no God.] I’m a self declared conservative Evangelical who believes God created mankind and has laid out the parameters for finding joy and contentment. To make illegal the speaking of truth [ “it won’t work what you’re about to do”] is to face punishment by the state.

          In my years as a psych aide, you had the occasional patient who stated they were Jesus Christ. I, as a psych aide, would tell them, kindly and gently, “Well actually you are not.” Generally they responded, “Okay.”

          Now-a-days a significant portion of the population wants to out-law reality testing. I see that as a terrible tragedy. Sanity/reality is ultimately a good thing. Delusions never lead to joy or peace.

          Finally focusing on a specific story/individual can actually bring clarity to a situation. Speaking in generalities generally doesn’t clarify much.

          • Klasie Kraalogies says

            Seneca – you really, really don’t want to use the “reality testing ” argument. Trust me. If you go down that road, your arguments, and your worldview will be eviscerated.

            Just some friendly advice.

        • Daniel – you have shown a great deal of patience with seneca, but i have seen mods and site owners who tried as hard as you are trying get to the end of their rope.

          Just an observation. I really do appreciate what you’re trying to do, but you’re one of a great many who have done so.

          What happens with anyone who is persistent in certain ways is up to the powers that be.

          Thank you for trying to be decent and compassionate about it all.

          • Attempting, and other synonyms. I am stuck in a rut ATM and am likely in need of a break from both reading and writing comments for now.

      • Clay Crouch says


        How would you like it if IMonkers chimed in on wether or not you have emotional issues?

  19. The line between good and evil runs through every human heart.

    Punishment/incarceration usually does nothing to change someone’s mind about where the line inside their own heart actually is. You can’t force someone to be compassionate, just like you can’t truly legislate morality.

    I’m with Robert on this. More context is needed (Americans are not good at context and nuance), and it’s very easy to slip into a totalitarian mode because, “Hey, I know I’m on the right side of history.” Stanley Hauerwas paraphrase: As soon as someone wishes to be in charge of the outcome of history, that person has in principle agreed to violence.

    We need to get AWAY from violence, all around. Think about it.


    • “You can’t force someone to be compassionate, just like you can’t truly legislate morality.”

      But you can make it harder to not be so. Especially if folks will not do so without that force (or should we just trust that the rich will give of their bounty to care for the poor, or that bigots will not act on their prejudices?) We have laws, police, and courts precisely because people won’t voluntarily put the good of others before themselves. It’s just a question of what criteria will be enforced.

    • Dana – yes. Thanks for weighing in.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      it’s very easy to slip into a totalitarian mode because, “Hey, I know I’m on the right side of history.”

      “I Know I’m Right —
      I HAVE A VERSE!”

  20. Love the animal photos!


  21. grey clouds
    crawl across chilly sky —
    soon the snow

  22. A lively brunch today.

    Daniel, your Saturday musings will be missed.

  23. BTW, I loved the animal pics.

    Lifted “see the foot” for another use.

  24. Headless Unicorn Guy says

    Remember those Mystery Monoliths that have been popping up recently?

    One appeared yesterday in Atascadero, at the head of the Salinas Valley in Central California. According to this article, that night it got torn down and replaced by a wooden cross by a bunch of night-riders chanting “CHRIST IS KING!”
    According to the article, they drove “five hours from the south” to Righteously wreck the monolith. “Five hours” means they would have come from Los Angeles or San Diego, depending on traffic conditions.

    Never mind The Matrix, are we all living in a South Park episode?

    On a lighter note, here’s an “Evil-ized” photo of the monolith that’s making the rounds of Interent Meme Country:

  25. I just want some place where we can continue the conversation(s)… this site was a godsend for me back in the mid-00s, when i was detoxing from a truly awful church giving me the boot, but since then, I’ve enjoyed reading and commenting simply b/c the commenters here are generally quite congenial.

    You’ve all been so supportive during difficult times, whether you realize it or not.

    You will be much-missed.

  26. Norma Cenva says

    I love the pics of the Sistine Chapel.
    Especially the one close-up of a woman’s eyes.
    That a human artist (Michelangelo) could have that much command over curvilinear space to produce such sublime images, is truly awe-inspiring.

  27. “Political correctness is communist propaganda writ small. In my study of communist societies, I came to the conclusion that the purpose of communist propaganda was not to persuade or convince, not to inform, but to humiliate; and therefore, the less it corresponded to reality the better. When people are forced to remain silent when they are being told the most obvious lies, or even worse when they are forced to repeat the lies themselves, they lose once and for all their sense of probity. To assent to obvious lies is in some small way to become evil oneself. One’s standing to resist anything is thus eroded, and even destroyed. A society of emasculated liars is easy to control. I think if you examine political correctness, it has the same effect and is intended to.” T. Dalyrumple
    I loathe political correctness.
    Other people loathe truth

    • “Thank you Lord that I’m not like these others, that loathe truth.”

      • senecagriggs says

        You don’t read enough Robert?

        • No, I don’t. Do you read enough, sencagriggs?

          • senecagriggs says

            I’m retired; I read all the time.

            • Maybe you should take a break.

              • senecagriggs says

                The clock is running out on me. I gotta read while I can.

                • What, you think there are no books in heaven?

                  • Headless Unicorn Guy says

                    Don’t you know there is NOTHING in Heaven except Praising God 24/7/365 – FOREVER?

                    In Left Behind Volume 13 or 16, we see what the Raptured do in Heaven — constantly tell each other about Jesus! Never-ending Testimony Night!

                    And during my time in-country, Heaven was going to be a never-ending Bible Study!

                    As a kid, I noticed it was the JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES of all people who were the only ones teaching Resurrection of the Body in a New Earth! Everyone else was Fluffy Cloud Heaven! Or some other similar Heaven that made Hell look like a good alternative!

  28. Headless Unicorn Guy says

    Does anyone here remember the word “acedia”? I first came across it on this blog — a Greek theological term describing of a listless, lazy drifting that paralyzes us.

    I just came across this online essay which says it best describes what we’re going through losing interest and energy in an indefinite pandemic lockdown. i.e. Conditions approximating the early desert hermits and monastics where the word originated:

  29. senecagriggs says

    Truth, born female you can never be male.

    To some portion of the population, they cling to the lie that you actually can be the opposite sex.

    The lie ultimately is destructive to their emotional and psychological stability. That is a great tragedy.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      And “Trans is the new Fag”.

      I have a neice (or is that nephew?) with a bad case of Gender Dysphoria.
      Gender Dysphoria is a real mess no matter what you do about it.

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