In The Yard: Have I created a New Modern Art Form?

Last night, returning from an initial autumn shopping foray with the Fair Wendy, it was dark when she parked her white Bolt in the driveway.

I got out, and opened the back seat door for a bag. When it shut— Voilá! There before me was a new art form.

EVBolt Lamplight painting-09/2022
EVBolt streetlamp painting, Sept. 23, 2022, after dark.

At least, new to me: EV car door painting, by streetlamp

Sunpainting/rainbow, 2013

Longtime readers will recall I have often captured “sun paintings,” on the blank wall of the living room, mainly of silhouetted shrubs projected by sunlight thru the windows, images that last only a few minutes.

The Bolt now offers a new “canvas”.

The shrubs are on the edge of our free-range front yard; I don’t know their  names.

Hmmm. My house is barely a mile from Duke University’s big Nasher Art Museum. Over there they pride themselves on keeping up with the newest and latest. Maybe they’ll soon come knocking at the door.

But if they haven’t caught up with the EV Car Door Streetlamp school yet, I also have many pictures of our cat.

 

Or maybe I’ll just get a life.

How the Queen Rained on My Parade

Like a lot of people you haven’t heard of, I had other plans for September 8. In fact, I was going to have a parade. For me.

Okay, it was going to be an imaginary parade, down the Main Street of my mind; such fetes  have many advantages: cheaper; much easier to clean up after the confetti-tossers and the horses; and it never rains.

The occasion and date kind of crept up on me, though I’d long been looking forward to the occasion, which was my reaching the status of being a half-millionaire.

Not, alas, a half-millionaire in dollars, or any other financial instrument. Rather, I was within sight of — wait for it — accumulating half a million hits on this blog.

Go ahead, chuckle if you want. Or even nod toward a site like the Drudge Report, which brags credibly about how it gets like 26 million hits every [g*dd*m] day.

I know, I know. This blog is, at best, a tiny cork bobbing on the great swirling swells of the internet ocean.

Yet I’ve pecked away at it for more than a decade (the start date is hazy), increasingly in recent years. People have read it, too. The occasional post reached over a thousand, a handful north of two. There have been lots of comments, only a few of which have descended into internet trollery.

The blog has delivered a number of Quaker scoops, upset a few applecarts, comforted a handful of the afflicted, got me canceled here and there, shown lots of pretty flowers, cute grandkids, cats, and reportedly even evoked some laughs.

Further, over time, the average daily hit numbers have slowly grown.

The web hosting service maintains a chart which shows hits in real time, and a running grand total. Some months back I noticed that the “all time” number was over 400,000.

That was when I decided on a parade at the half-million mark. In a time of pandemic and ebbing energy, it would show at least a certain stamina.

And two weeks ago, the countdown was at the wire, and Thursday around sundown I actually saw the tally flip over from 499,995 to 500,005 (bother that they didn’t pause right on the 500K button for a screen shot, but that’s algorithms for you, a rum lot.)

But, what the hey — now was the time to pull the cord on the parade, and I knew just how it should look . . .

. . . But on the way to setting it up, my blogger’s reflex kicked in long enough to check on any late-breaking headlines —and there it was, the news equivalent of a sudden earthquake or a two-week severe thunderstorm —

And I knew it was all over for my puny plans. The next days, or weeks would be shot for anything else but clop, clop, clop, “thru Jesus Christ our Lord,” 73 years, fifteen prime ministers, poor Diana and how many times was Harry snubbed this morning?

Whatever. Despite my firmly (small r) republican outlook, the seemingly endless foofaraw had a certain stolid appeal. And there was a tad of consolation in pointing out that the new king was named after me.

Besides, I now know that even if Her Late Majesty had muddled through for a few more weeks, there was no real hope for my parade, because September 8 was also the day of this other, long-feverishly awaited news photo, that of a certain three-shirted insurrectionist, insufferable in his defiant air of pardoned impunity, actually doing the perp walk adorned with the federal bracelets. . . .

“I say, half a million? Jolly good, old chap. Oh — there’s Camilla, er, the Queen. Must toddle . . .”

(Can’t deny it: I would have skipped my own parade to watch that )

 

Deja Vu All Over Again! Draft Exiles Streaming Out of Russia

[NOTE: the article below opens the doors of memory. The draft resistance exodus from Russia is the third such episode I’ve witnessed.

The first two I played a bit part in: during the 1960s Vietnam War, many U. S. Quakers “aided and abetted” (technically a federal crime) many young men who left the country to avoid being swept up in the military draft: I encouraged a few myself.
Others, such as Friend Ken Maher, helped many more, and Ken recounts his adventures on the new underground railroad of those years in this post, Then 35 years later, as the U. S. Invasion of Iraq wreaked its  vast destruction, I worked with dissident soldiers who left the country to refuse participation in an illegal, immoral war. The story, “Money for College,” here, grew out of that work.
This time, I’m but a spectator and cheerleader, from a seemingly safe distance. But while Putin’s cronies jeer at them, and his minions arrest as many as they can catch, I know their refusal is important. Many may languish in prison, others have to start over in exile, and there will be no parades or medals for either. But widespread draft resistance has an impact: it helps blunt the drive for war, saps the public compliance needed even in a Putin-style tyranny. To paraphrase, “They also serve, who refuse to serve at all.”]

The Guardian —  22 September 2022

‘I will cross the border tonight’: Russians flee after news of draft

Border guards cite ‘exceptional’ number of people leaving the country after ‘partial mobilisation’ announcement

Hours after Vladimir Putin shocked Russia by announcing the first mobilisation since the second world war, Oleg received his draft papers in the mailbox, ordering him to make his way to the local recruitment centre in Kazan, the capital of the ​​Tatarstan republic.

As a 29-year-old sergeant in the Russian reserves, Oleg said he always knew that he would be the first in line if a mobilisation was declared, but held out hope that he would not be forced to fight in the war in Ukraine.

“My heart sank when I got the call-up,” he said. “But I knew I had no time to despair.”

 

He quickly packed all his belongings and booked a one-way ticket to Orenburg, a southern Russian city close to the border with Kazakhstan.

“I will be driving across the border tonight,” he said in a telephone interview on Thursday from the airport in Orenburg. “I have no idea when I’ll step foot in Russia again,” he added, referring to the jail sentence Russian men face for avoiding the draft.

Backup at the Russian border with Finland.

Oleg said he will leave behind his wife, who is due to give birth next week. “I will miss the most important day of my life. But I am simply not letting Putin turn me into a killer in a war that I want no part in.”

The Kremlin’s decision to announce a partial mobilisation has led to a rush among men of military age to leave the country, likely sparking a new, possibly unprecedented brain drain in the coming days and weeks.

The Guardian spoke to over a dozen men and women who had left Russia since Putin announced the so-called partial mobilisation, or who are planning to do so in the next few days.

Options to flee are limited, they say. Earlier this week, four of the five EU countries bordering Russia announced they would no longer allow Russians to enter on tourist visas.

Direct flights from Moscow to Istanbul, Yerevan, Tashkent and Baku, the capitals of countries allowing Russians visa-free entry, were sold out for the next week, while the cheapest one-way flight from Moscow to Dubai cost about 370,000 rubles (£5,000) – a fee too steep for most.

And so many, like Oleg, were forced to get creative and drive to some of the few land borders still open to Russians.

Border guards in Finland, the last EU country that still allows entry to Russians with tourist visas, said that they have noticed an “exceptional number” of Russian nationals seeking to cross the border overnight, while eyewitnesses also said the Russian-Georgian and Russian-Mongolian borders were “collapsing” with overwhelming traffic.

“We are seeing an even bigger exodus than when the war started,” said Ira Lobanovskaya, who started the “Guide to the free World”NGO, which helps Russians against the war leave the country.

She said her website had received over one and half million visits since Putin’s speech on Wednesday. According to Lobanovkaya’s estimates, over 70,000 Russians that used the group’s services have already left or made concrete plans to leave.

“These are people who are buying one-way tickets. They won’t be coming back as long as mobilisation is ongoing,” she said.

Many of those who are still in Russia will feel that time is running out. At least three regions have already announced they will close their borders to men eligible for the draft.

Border agents at Russian airports have also reportedly started interrogating departing male passengers about their military service status and checking return tickets.

After thousands of Russians rallied against the war and mobilisation on Wednesday, some took to social media to criticise protesters for not speaking out earlier, when their country’s troops were committing human rights abuses in Bucha, Irpin and countless of other towns across Ukraine.

Policemen detaining protesters in central St. Petersburg
Policemen move in to detain participants of an unauthorised protest against partial mobilisation in central St Petersburg, Russia, on Wednesday. Photograph: Anatoly Maltsev/EPA

“I understand people’s frustration,” said Igor, a 26-year-old IT professional from St Petersburg, who is planning to fly to Vladikavkaz and drive to Georgia, another popular fleeing route used by Russians, next week. “I attended the anti-war protest when Putin launched his invasion, but the authorities just jail everyone.”

Some of the protesters detained in Moscow have subsequently been given draft notices while locked up, according to the monitoring group OVD, further underlying the dangers average Russians face when taking to the streets.

“I think the only way I can personally help Ukraine right now is by not fighting there,” Igor said.

There have also been calls for the EU to support Russians who are looking for a way out of the draft.

The EU Commission spokesperson on home affairs, Anitta Hipper, said that the bloc would meet to discuss the issuance of humanitarian visas to Russians fleeing mobilisation. The three Baltic states said on Thursday, however, that they are not prepared to automatically offer asylum to Russians fleeing the draft.

Even those without any military experience – men who Putin vowed not to call up – are packing their bags.

Russian police detaining a protester
Russian police detaining a protester against the partial mobilisation. Photograph: Maxim Shipenkov/EPA

They point to the ambiguity of Putin’s mobilisation law and point to previous broken promises that he would not call for one.

“Putin lied that there will be no mobilisation,” said 23-year-old Anton, a student in Moscow, referring to the president’s International Women’s Day address on 8 March, when he insisted that no reservists would be called up to fight in Ukraine. “Why would he not lie again about this partial mobilisation?”

Fears have grown after independent website Novaya Gazeta Europe reported, based on its government sources, that the mobilistation decrees allow the Ministry of Defence to call up 1,000,000 people, instead of the 300,000 announced by the country’s defence minister, Sergei Shoigu, on Wednesday.

For now, Lobanovskaya said, the majority of Russians leaving are men.

The Guardian also spoke to a number of women, mostly medics, who similarly decided to leave the country after reports started to trickle out that Russia was calling up health professionals to the front.

“I know medics are supposed to treat people, that is our duty,” said Tatayana, a doctor from Irkutsk, who bought a plane ticket to Baku for next week. “But I believe the sooner this horrible war stops, the fewer people will die.”

The mobilisation also appears to have spooked some of the very people on whom the regime relies to sustain its war efforts.

“For me, mobilisation is the red line,” said Ilya, 29, a mid-level official working for the Moscow government. “Tomorrow I will be in Kazakhstan.”

One man, the son of a west-sanctioned oligarch due to come back to Russia after his studies abroad to work for his family business, said he no longer planned to do so.

“Well, one thing is clear,” he said, in a brief interview by text message. “I won’t be coming back to Russia anytime soon.”

 

Quote of the Day — Lincoln & Emancipation: The First Version

On this day [Sept. 22] in 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed his preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, a document that put the Confederacy on notice of his intention to free their slaves. They had until January 1, he said, to lay down their arms; after that, any slave within a rebelling state would be “then, thenceforward, and forever free.”

Although he didn’t make a point of it, his proclamation — both this preliminary one, and the official one he made at the first of the new year, when the deadline arrived — did not free all slaves; those living in border states, for example, would remain enslaved. Nor did Lincoln have, of course, any way to actually enforce a liberated slave’s freedom; other than promising to no longer aid in the capture of fleeing slaves, his promised emancipation relied entirely on the Union eventually winning the war.

But continuing to fight was exactly what Lincoln hoped to avoid with his announcement. Continue reading Quote of the Day — Lincoln & Emancipation: The First Version

The Hidden Quaker Role in a Famous Catholic Monastery Cookbook “Empire”

How a solitary monk, known for his soup, united a community
[And how a Quaker helped him start]

Washington Post — September 20, 2022

By Kristen Hartke

As dusk began to fall on Jan. 10, 2001, Ray Patchey just wanted to get home to his family for his birthday dinner.

A lineman with Verizon, Patchey had been sent out to repair telephone lines following a snowstorm in rural Dutchess County, N.Y. Chilled to the bone, Patchey and another technician were just packing up to leave when the door to the nearby farmhouse swung open and a voice called out, “Don’t go, I’ve made some soup for you!”

Looking up, Patchey saw a Benedictine monk, clothed in traditional habit and sandals, standing in the doorway, and thought, “How can I say no?”

Little did he know that the monk was a best-selling cookbook author with legions of fans around the world. That bowl of soup, like so many others that Brother Victor-Antoine d’Avila-Latourrette has shared with friends and strangers alike over the course of several decades while living mostly alone at Our Lady of the Resurrection Monastery, was just the beginning.

Now 82, Brother Victor is the author of some 18 books, half of which are cookbooks that have collectively sold in the millions and been translated into multiple languages, including French, Japanese and Dutch. Born in Lées-Athas, a village in southwestern France’s Pyrenees mountains, Brother Victor grew up eating food that was cooked in rhythm with the seasons, saying now: “There is nothing like the French way of cooking, and everyone I knew cooked well — my mother, my grandmother. Everything we ate, vegetables, cheese,
bread, was fresh and local.” Continue reading The Hidden Quaker Role in a Famous Catholic Monastery Cookbook “Empire”

Putin’s Mobilization: Preparing for a bigger, more desperate war on Ukraine

Overview: Russia begins massive Ukraine war call-up, spurring some men to flee

Reuters: KYIV/NEW YORK, Sept 22 (Reuters) – Russia pushed ahead on Thursday with its biggest conscription drive since World War Two, prompting some men to rush abroad, while Ukraine demanded “just punishment” for a seven-month-old invasion that has shaken the world.

President Vladimir Putin’s order to mobilize another 300,000 Russians escalates a war that has already killed thousands, displaced millions, pulverised cities, damaged the global economy and revived Cold War confrontation.

The mass conscription may be the riskiest domestic move of Putin’s two decades in power, after Kremlin promises it would not happen and a string of battlefield failures in Ukraine.

Anti-war protests in 38 Russian cities saw more than 1,300 people arrested on Wednesday, a monitoring group said. Some had been served summons to report to enlistment offices on Thursday, the first full day of conscription, independent news outlets said.

Prices for air tickets out of Moscow soared above $5,000 for one-way flights to the nearest foreign locations, with most sold out for coming days. Traffic also surged at border crossings with Finland and Georgia. Continue reading Putin’s Mobilization: Preparing for a bigger, more desperate war on Ukraine

David Corn on the Origins of the Trump Disorder

NBC News, Sept. 18, 2022 – The GOP’s American psychosis didn’t start with Trump. It won’t end with him, either.

A line runs from the 1964 Republican National Convention to Trump’s Jan. 6 riot. It has zigged and zagged over the years. But there is a path.

By David Corn, Washington, D.C., bureau chief for Mother Jones
This piece has been adapted from “American Psychosis: A Historical Investigation of How the Republican Party Went Crazy,” by David Corn:

Nelson Rockefeller stared into a sea of hate.

Standing at the podium of the Republican National Convention of 1964, the 56-year-old patrician politician who symbolized dynastic American power and wealth was enveloped by waves of anger emanating from the party faithful. Delegates and activists assembled in the Cow Palace on the outskirts of San Francisco hurled boos and catcalls at the New York governor.

David Corn

He was the enemy. His crime: representing the liberal Republican establishment that, to the horror of many in the audience, had committed two unpardonable sins. First, in the aftermath of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal, these turncoat, weak-kneed Republicans had dared to acknowledge the need for big government programs to address the problems and challenges of an industrialized and urbanized United States. Second, they had accepted the reality that the Cold War of the new nuclear age demanded a nuanced national security policy predicated on a carefully measured combination of confrontation and negotiation.

Rockefeller’s crime: representing the liberal Republican establishment that, to the horror of many in the audience, had committed two unpardonable sins.

Worse, Rockefeller had tried to thwart the hero of the moment: Barry Goldwater, the archconservative senator from Arizona, the libertarian decrier of government, the tough-talking scolder of America’s moral rot, and the hawkish proponent of military might who had advocated the limited use of nuclear arms. Continue reading David Corn on the Origins of the Trump Disorder

Gwynne Dyer: Putin’s Fans May be Italy’s Next Rulers

Power close at hand for hard-right populist party as Italy’s snap election draws near

Gwynne Dyer – Sept. 20, 2022

There’s an election in Italy next Sunday, almost exactly 100 years after Benito Mussolini’s ‘blackshirts’ marched on Rome and brought the first fascist dictator to power.

Giorgia Meloni, the hard-right populist politician who is likely to win that election, rejects any comparison with that ugly past. The party she leads, Brothers of Italy, has some nostalgic neo-fascists in its ranks, but she prefers to compare it to Britain’s post-Brexit Conservative Party or the U.S. Republican Party as rebranded by Donald Trump.

She shares her hostility to the European Union with Britain’s Conservatives, her hatred of immigrants, gays and Muslims with the U.S. Republicans and her truculent nationalism with both those parties. She is also militantly Christian and she dabbles in Great Replacement paranoia. And just like them, she wages a non-stop culture war. Continue reading Gwynne Dyer: Putin’s Fans May be Italy’s Next Rulers

Gavin Newsom takes Pro-Choice fight to Anti-Abortion States

On September 15, California governor Gavin Newsom announced that billboards with the assertive pro-choice messages below were going up in several states. Very striking. How many more to follow?

 

 

 

 

South Carolina? Way too close for my comfort. North Carolina could join his target list if the midterm elections go badly.

 

 

 

 

What’s this thing about states that start with “South”??

 

 

 

 

Hoosier daddy? Mike Pence has a plan . . .

 

 

 

The Buckeye Ban could STOP you here . . .

 

 

 

 

Politics aside, The flame of liberty will not be put out . . .

Preserving Liberty & Justice

 

Quaker Chuckle – 09/20/2022

One day God was looking down at Earth and saw all of the rascally behavior that was going on. She decided to send an angel down to Earth to check it out. So She called one of Her angels and sent the angel to Earth for a closer look.

When he returned, he told God, “Yes, it is pretty bad on Earth; 95% are misbehaving and only 5% are not.”

God thought for a moment and said, “Maybe I had better send down a second angel to get another opinion.” So God called another angel and sent her to Earth to investigate.

When that angel returned she went to God and said, “Yes, it’s true, the Earth is in terrible shape; 95% are misbehaving, and only 5% are being good.”

God was not pleased. So She decided to E-mail the 5% that were good, because She wanted to encourage them, give them a little something, to help them keep going.

Do you know what the E-mail said . . . ?

 

. . . Just wondering, I didn’t get one either.