Wednesday/ more pointless debating 🤪

Tonight, the night after the 2023 elections in which the Republicans had lost most of the races that had drawn national interest*, there was another (mostly pointless) Republican Party presidential debate.

Two highlights:
Nikki Haley called Ron DeSantis ‘scum’ after he called out her daughter for being on TikTok. (TikTok is owned by a Chinese company and some worry it will use sensitive data from its user, such as location data, for nefarious purposes).
Tim Scott’s girlfriend Mindy Noce (of a year or so) made her first public appearance on stage after the debate.

*Lost Ohio Issue 1: Right to Abortion
Lost Ohio Issue 2: Legalize Marijuana
Lost Kentucky Governor’s Race
Won Mississippi Governor’s Race
Lost Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Race
Lost Virginia State Legislature, both houses

A New York Magazine cover from October. (Seems to me the chase is over even though the primary elections have not even started .. but the guy with the red tie is in serious legal trouble, of course).
From left to right, the little people are Ron DeSantis (governor of Florida), Tim Scott (US senator for South Carolina), Nikki Haley (ex-governor of South Carolina), Vivek Ramaswamy (billionaire), Mike Pence (Trump’s vice president) and Chris Christie (ex-governor of New Jersey). Mike Pence dropped out of the race a few weeks ago and was not on the debate stage.

Tuesday/ peering deep and wide 🌌

Euclid is a wide-angle space telescope with a 600-megapixel camera to record visible light, a near-infrared spectrometer, and photometer, to determine the redshift of detected galaxies. It was developed by the European Space Agency and the Euclid Consortium, and was launched on 1 July 2023.
– Wikipedia

Today, the European Space Agency shared the first images obtained from the telescope.

One thousand galaxies belonging to the Perseus Cluster with more than 100,000 additional galaxies visible farther away. Each can contain up to hundreds of billions of stars.
[Courtesy European Space Agency/Euclid Consortium/NASA; image processing by J.-C. Cuillandre, G. Anselmi]
The spiral galaxy IC 342, an intermediate spiral galaxy in the constellation Camelopardalis, located relatively close to our own Milky Way galaxy.
Radius 35,000 light years | discovered 1892 | distance from Earth 10.76 million light years.
[Courtesy the European Space Agency/Euclid Consortium/NASA; image processing by J.-C. Cuillandre, G. Anselmi]
The Horsehead Nebula is a small dark nebula in the constellation Orion (in the Milky Way galaxy).
Radius 3.5 light years | discovered 1888 | distance from Earth 1,500 light years.
[Courtesy of the European Space Agency/Euclid Consortium/NASA; image processing by J.-C. Cuillandre, G. Anselmi]
Irregular galaxy NGC 6822.
Discovered 1884 | distance from Earth 1.6 million light years.
[Courtesy the European Space Agency/Euclid Consortium/NASA; image processing by J.-C. Cuillandre, G. Anselmi]
A full view of the globular cluster NGC 6397 in constellation Ara in the Milky Way.
Radius 34 light years | distance from Earth 7,800 light years.
[Courtesy the European Space Agency/Euclid Consortium/NASA; image processing by J.-C. Cuillandre, G. Anselmi]

Monday/ about those poll numbers 🤯

So, with the first of the 2024 primary elections two months away, that Twice-Impeached-Four-Times-Indicted-Conman seems to have the Republican primary all but in his pocket.
(Endorse Ron DeSantis all you want, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, but he’s polling at 16%, still some 30% behind the Conman. It’s over; has been for a while.)

Then there is the New York Times/Siena Poll of the 2024 Battleground States that came out this weekend, that shows Biden at the losing end in 5 states— and prompting David Axelrod (chief strategist for Barack Obama’s presidential campaigns) to publicly question if it’s ‘wise’ for Biden to stay in the race.

Say whaaaaat, David?
Who should take Biden’s place at this point?

The lamestream media* is having a field day with these poll numbers, even with the 2024 Presidential THREE-HUNDRED- AND-SIXTY-FOUR days away.
*A term coined by Sarah Palin in 2008. As someone said, looking back now, she may have been something of a gateway drug for today’s MAGA Republicans that had gotten hooked onto the cult of Trump.

P.S. The fine print of these polls say ‘The New York Times/Siena College polls of 3,662 registered voters in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin were conducted in English and Spanish on cellular and landline telephones from Oct. 22 to Nov. 3, 2023. When all states are joined together, the margin of sampling error is plus or minus 1.8 percentage points for all registered voters and plus or minus 2 percentage points for the likely electorate. The margin of sampling error for each state poll is plus or minus 4.4 percentage points in Arizona, Michigan and Nevada, plus or minus 4.5 points in Georgia, plus or minus 4.6 points in Pennsylvania and plus or minus 4.8 points in Wisconsin’.
Political analyst Amy Walter sums it up thus: Trump has a ceiling problem (he’s not going to gain voters beyond what he had in 2020), and Biden has an enthusiasm problem (not everyone that came out and voted for him in 2020, may do so again in 2024).

Sunday/ at the bookstore 📖

I learned my lesson today: if you’re going to walk somewhere and want to make it home before dark, don’t wait until 3 o’clock!
Direct sunlight is now long gone by 5 (sunset is at 4.44 pm).

I spent an hour or so at the Elliott Bay Book Company (at 1521 10th Avenue on Capitol Hill, highly recommended) and then realized the light was dwindling outside— and that I need to go and pay for my book and vamoose.

Saturday 🍂

It’s the end of Daylight Saving Time— we have to turn back all the clocks back by an hour.

After lots of rain and a thunderstorm this morning, the afternoon turned out to be calm and clear (61 °F/ 16° C).
Here I am back from a walk down to Capitol Hill train station for a jaunt I had intended to do, up to U-District, but it was not to be. We first waited for 10 minutes on the northbound train to depart, during which the lights went out, and the ‘NORTHGATE’ display as the final destination changed to an IP address (IP. or something).
Then an announcement came that there was mechanical trouble. The next northbound train will actually pick us up on the southbound track. The train that had a delayed departure had been full already, though. So when the next northbound train arrived (on the southbound track) also almost full of people, I decided the overcrowding wasn’t worth the trouble for me, and came back home. There is always tomorrow to try again.

Friday/ got the frame 🖼

This puzzle is a holdover from the pandemic.
The entire dining room table is full of puzzle pieces, and at this point it’s hard to believe they are all going to be squeezed in tightly into the frame!

The 1,000-piece puzzle 91130 is by Buffalo Games & Puzzles. The artwork was done by Kim Norlien, titled ‘Mountain Paradise’.

Update Sat. 9.00 am: Here’s an update! The house, the mountain and the boat are much easier to build than the water and the foliage! I suspect some of the last pieces to fall in place will be the shadows on the bottom left corner.
Update Mon. 5.00 pm: All done! The tree at the top right was hard to complete, for some reason, as were the waters of the lake. The last piece that went in was one of the brown ones depicting the rocks at the bottom of the lake. 

Thursday/ beskuit 🍪

I don’t always drink beer but when I do, I prefer Dos Equis
– From the Dow Equis beer commercial (and meme for it)

I don’t always bake, but when I do, I bake beskuit*
*’Rusks’ in English— made from dough, broken or cut into chunks or slices after baking, and then slowly dried in an oven.

I was tired of buying expensive biscotti at the store (for my coffee in the morning), and so I baked a batch of South African beskuit.

My ingredients for the dough: self-raising flour, buttermilk, a little whole milk, sugar (not too much), canola oil (instead of butter), eggs, a little baking powder and salt, and bran flakes (for a little fiber).
The dough is baked at 350 °F for one hour, taken out, cut up in chunks and put back in for 5-6 hours at 250 °F (with the oven door left open by a crack) to dry the pieces out.

Wednesday/ here’s November ☔️

Seattle-Tacoma airport recorded 2.77 in. of rain for October—  below the average of 3.46 in.

November is the wettest month of the year (usually coming in at 6.5 in), and we’re off to a good start with a forecast of 1.4 in over the next seven days.

This year’s fly agaric mushrooms in my back yard are smaller than usual (crowns of 3 to 4 inches diameter).
These ‘look but don’t touch’ mushrooms (they contain toxic alkaloids).

Monday/ long live forests 🌳

Happy Monday.
It’s Seattle Forest Week— a yearly campaign by Seattle Parks to promote the city’s green spaces, healthy urban forests, and encourage the planting of native plants.

Hello to you, too!
We don’t have these furry creatures here in the Pacific Northwest. I had to do a picture search to find out that they are tree-kangaroos, native to the Huon Peninsula of northeastern New Guinea island, in Papua New Guinea.
It is an endangered species with only an estimated 2,500 left in the wild.
[Picture posted by Woodland Park Zoo @woodlandparkzoo on X]

Sunday/ one more jab 💉

I ran out and got the new RSV vaccine yesterday (from Pfizer, marketed as ‘Abrysvo’). It does feel like my system is reacting to it, more so than was the case for the flu shot or the latest COVID vaccine.

Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is spread through contact with contaminated surfaces (and from what I understand, not by airborne transmission).
RSV causes mild cold symptoms in most people, but if the virus ends up  flourishing in the lungs, it can lead to hospitalization and even death in older people and babies.

Researchers have been trying for decades to create effective RSV vaccines.
One turning point came with the investigation of an RSV protein called ‘RSV prefusion (RSV preF)’ that turned out to provide potent stimulation of the immune system.

Abrysvo contains proteins from the surfaces of two strains of the RSV virus. When a person is given the vaccine, the immune system treats the viral proteins as ‘foreign’ entities and makes defenses against them. If, later on, the vaccinated person comes into contact with the virus, the immune system will recognize the viral proteins and be prepared to attack it.

An illustration of how subunit vaccines work, from Pfizer’s website.
This mechanism is one of SIX major categorizations of vaccines. Ready?
1. Live-attenuated vaccines (such as for measles/mumps/rubella, chicken pox).
2. Inactivated vaccines (for polio, flu).
3. Subunit vaccines (shingles, hepatitus B, and now RSV).
4. Toxoid vaccines (such as for tetanus, diphteria).
5. Viral vector vaccines (such as the Ebola vaccine, some COVID vaccines).
6. Messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines (used for Pfizer’s COVID vaccine).

Saturday/ on top of the world 🏉 🇿🇦

Bok, bok, staan styf
Hoeveel vingers op jou lyf?

(An Afrikaans rhyme from a children’s game.
Loosely translated, it says
‘Bok, bok, hold still.
What number of fingers do you feel?
Four! says the Bok).

Top: Reporting in The Observer/ The Guardian by Robert Kitson at the Stade de France.
Cartoon by South African cartoonist Dr Jack. One more stripe can now be added under the Rugby World Cup trophy on the Bok’s sleeve.
The event takes place every four years, and South Africa has now won four times: 1995, 2007, 2019, 2023. The first RWC was held in 1987 and other past winners are: New Zealand (3 times), Australia (twice) and England (once).

Friday/ Shabbat Shalom 💜

Art and text posted by Jamie Schler@lifesafeast on X:

Shabbat Shalom.
Peace, joy, kindness to you all.

‘If all life moves inevitably towards its end, then we must, during our own, colour it with our colours of love and hope’. – Marc Chagall.

Marc Chagall, La Vie, 1964, Fondation Maeght, Museum of Contemporary Art, St. Paul de Vence, Departement Alpes-Maritimes, Provence-Alpes-Cote.
Side note: The Israeli parliament building, known as the Knesset, is decorated with huge tapestries by Marc Chagall depicting biblical scenes.

Thursday/ birds of a feather? 🐦

Brutal political cartoon in South African daily newspaper ‘Die Burger’ (The Citizen) from yesterday.
The cartoonist goes by the alias Dr Jack.

Pandor*: Thanks for taking my call.
Hamas Terrorist: It is good to talk to someone that KNOWS how to bring a country to its knees.
*Dr Naledi Pandor, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of South Africa since 2019. The African National Congress party (of which Pandor is a member) continues to demonstrate their abject incompetence and pervasive corruption while governing (make that: supposedly governing) the country.
And lest we forget: the ANC was a terrorist organization in the 1980s in South Africa, killing civilians with pipe bombs and the like. (The South African government of the day engaged in atrocities itself, torturing and murdering ANC party members in return). 
Pandor has flip-flopped about denouncing Russia’s military aggression in Ukraine and in fact, called Russia a ‘valued partner’ after foreign minister Lavrov visited in January.
She has criticized the International Criminal Court (ICC) for not having what she called an ‘evenhanded approach’ to all leaders responsible for violations of international law.

Wednesday/ we have a Speaker 🔊

.. but here is what Washington Post opinion columnist Ruth Marcus writes:
If you are feeling any sense of relief that Jim Jordan won’t be the next House speaker, stop and worry again.

The new speaker, Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.), might be more dangerous than the firebrand Ohio Republican. For Jordan’s shirt sleeves demeanor and wrestler’s pugnacity, substitute a bespectacled, low-key presentation, a law degree and an unswerving commitment to conservative dogma and former president Donald Trump.

This is not an upgrade.

Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.) gives a thumbs-up after he was elected House speaker on Wednesday, Oct. 25.
[Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images]

Tuesday/ rain ☔

Uncle Ike’s pot shop on Capitol Hill’s 15th Avenue East.

There’s a steady rain here in the city tonight, and the first winter snow headed for the Cascades (more than a foot expected in some places).
I will grab my scarf from now on as I head out the door.
The daytime highs have dropped to 50 °F (10 °C) or so.

Sunday/ black and shiny 🖤

The sun came out late this afternoon, and I chased myself out of the house.
I was rewarded with spotting this beautiful 2023 Rivian R1S all-electric SUV here on Capitol Hill’s 15th Avenue.

Saturday/ another win for the green & gold 🏉

Congratulations to the Bokke from South Africa, coming from behind and notching a 16-15 win against England, in today’s 2023 World Rugby Cup semi-final.
New Zealand’s All Blacks easily dispatched the Argentinian team by 44-6 in the other semi-final on Friday.
The final is next Saturday, in the Stade de France stadium, in Paris.

Handre Pollard of South Africa kicks his side’s second penalty during the 2023 Rugby World Cup semi-final against England. The only try (‘touch down’) of the match came in the 69th minute, when South Africa’s replacement lock RG Snyman went over the line.  
[Photograph: Adam Pretty/World Rugby/Getty Images]

Friday/ still no speaker 🙃

This Jordan guy is Trump’s guy.
The divisions in a bitterly divided Republican Party where some members have seen death threats over their speaker votes have been on full display, but at least we did not get the Trump coup plotter as speaker.

So what happens now?
Here’s CNN’s reporting:
What Republicans are saying: A number of Republicans left Friday’s closed-door meeting sounding more confused than ever about the path forward and who is best to lead them. Many expressed frustration and some called for reflection after the collapse of Jordan’s speakership bid. “We’re back to square one,” South Dakota Rep. Dusty Johnson said.
The chamber is still in limbo: The House remains effectively frozen as long as there is no elected speaker. The paralysis has created a perilous situation as Congress faces the threat of a government shutdown next month and conflict unfolds abroad. The battle for the speakership has now dragged on for more than two weeks with no end in sight.

House Majority Whip Tom Emmer plans to run an “entirely positive” campaign for speaker and “won’t attack his opponents,” a source close to him says – betting it will be a welcome change in style, following weeks of nasty infighting in a bitterly divided GOP where some members have seen death threats over their speaker votes.

Update Tue 10/24: Tom Emmer was speaker-elect for just a few hours, and then rejected by the Republican conference before there was even a vote on the floor of the House. Are Republicans clowns, all of them?