Thursday, December 2, 2021

Bonya and Lucky

 There are so many things to rant about, the criminal negligence of the BC government being one. But there are enough rants in my inbox and news feed that I do not want to add to them, rather go for something that brings at least a small amount of relief from it all. This is the ongoing story of the friendship between Bonya and Lucky.

We have three cats which I blogged about one year ago. Bonya, Tigritsa, and Vovo. We also have one dog, Lucky, who is now about 27 months old and whose beginnings I have blogged about here Getting Lucky, and here Further Adventures of Lucky. Lots of pictures on these blogs.

The cats have good reason to fear dogs as our dog Volk, who died of congestive heart failure at age 13 last January, was a cat killer. Yet Bonya took to Lucky right off. I wrote this about him.

Bonya has a soft heart. When our German Shepherd showed up last October as a wee starving sick puppy, Bonya worried about him and would check on him every hour or two. Once Lucky got well and went into the dog yard with Volk, Bonya would still worry. He goes with Tanya (only outside the fence) when she takes the dogs their food to make sure Lucky is OK. Lucky looks for him too. They touch noses through the fence and Lucky even brought his toys to show Bonya. 

The paternalistic friendship continues. Bonya is a bit afraid of Lucky because he is so big and aggressive though he just wants to play. If they are in the house yard together, Bonya will not run from him but will only put up with so much sniffing and pushing. One day he put the run on Lucky which made me laugh.

Bonya goes with us morning and night when we go to feed Lucky. He sits outside the fence and watches, then wanders off. He will also stroll along the fence in the abandoned lot next door from time to time. I was out playing ball with Lucky when it was almost dark and Bonya came along, ducked under the brush pile next door, watched us for half an hour, then came over to the fence for a kiss through the bars.

Black and white dot is Lucky under the brush pile

Visiting in Lucky's room while sheltering from the rain 

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Happy Thanksgiving to my American Readers

 Happy American Thanksgiving. May you be safe from Covid 19 and Republican Relatives.

When our grandparents and parents were still living, our families used to gather a few times each year, Easter, Canadian Thanksgiving, and Christmas. But as the older generations passed away and we scattered around the globe, it is rare that the cousins or second cousins get together. The older generations were the glue that held us together. I miss the good times when we were young.

What? No mashed potatoes? Criminal

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Pascal's Wager and My Take on Religion and Morality

The existence of a philosophical argument known as Pascal's wager came to my attention about 20 odd years ago when a Christian colleague was addressing a group of Ukrainian young people in an English Club. These are semi-formal groups who gather to practice their English.

Blaise Pascal (1623–1662) was a seventeenth-century French philosopher, theologian, mathematician, and physicist. Pascal's wager posits that human beings wager with their lives that God either exists or does not. You can read all to gory details here in Wikipedia  

My colleague explained it this way. As we cannot prove that God exists or does not exist (though there are still some idiots arguing about it) then we should live as though he exists. If we are right, we go to Heaven, and if we are wrong, we lose nothing. If we live as though God does not exist, and we are right we lose nothing, and if we are wrong, we go to Hell. 

I tucked that away in the back of my mind and mulled it over for a lot of years. It felt to simplistic and too much like threatening people into believing in something they may not necessarily embrace.

It finally dawned on me that whether God exists or not, has no bearing on how I live my life. Religion draws its morality from people, not the other way around. Atheists and agnostics are no less moral than religious and in too many cases much more so. We do not have far to look today to find a myriad of examples of believers of all stripes acting in ways highly inconsistent with the teachings of their professed religion. 

 Plato took a run at it 2000 years ago, arguing that if the gods approve of some actions it must be because those actions are good, in which case it cannot be the gods' approval that makes them good. More recently, Albert Einstein wrote in 1930 that "A man's ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties and needs; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hopes of reward after death."

This article puts it rather nicely. Religion does not determine your morality.

Many Christians don’t believe in magic, but even the ones who do, don’t think they should kill those who use it, even though one could interpret passages in the Bible to be suggesting exactly that. . .

There is a moral behaviour advocated by the Bible that gets rejected by most people. Why? Because they think it’s morally wrong.

They ignore that part of the moral teachings of the Bible. Instead, they tend to accept those moral teachings of the Bible that feel right to them. This happens all the time, and a good thing too. . .

We see that people can choose religious beliefs, churches and even whole religions based on the morality that they already have. And this is the morality that atheists have too. . .

Experimental evidence suggests that people’s opinion of what God thinks is right and wrong tracks what they believe is right and wrong, not the other way around. 


Thursday, November 11, 2021

Chinese Simmentals and Canadian Sarcasm

 Scanning photos from the 1990s before I had a digital camera brought back a great many memories of adventures in various parts of the world. Many in China as that was where I made several trips as part of trade missions or as technical support for a genetics export company.

This one trip took me back into the mountains SW of Beijing to see a cattle herd that had been bred up to Simmental for so many generations they were, for all intents and purposes, purebred. The village and pasture land were located on a high plateau and the road into the place was typically bad. Rough, unpaved, in many places mountain on one side and a drop off on the other. Driving over it in daylight was an adventure in itself.

We set off in the morning, four of us, in a Toyota Land Cruiser SUV: Livestock specialist and senior bureaucrat, livestock specialist and interpreter, driver, and livestock specialist and Canadian. We got there in mid-late afternoon. The village bureaucrats met us and we toured the cattle herd. It had the makings of a good herd but was very much on the thin side. 

Too often in my travels I have seen breeders with big productive animals that forgot they need better quality feed in order to take advantage of their genetics. As one goes from goats to sheep to beef cattle to dairy cattle the quality and quantity of feed requirements goes up.

The buyers sure loved the calves though. Once they hit the feedlot and compensatory growth kicked in, those calves made money. Trucking the calves back down the mountain was not a job I would look forward to.

By the time we were done touring it was getting dark and of course we had to sit down to a banquet. It was getting late and starting to rain. The village mayor suggested we had better stay the night and go back in the morning. Now I have stayed in guest houses in villages but none this small and I could well imagine what it would be like. There was also a community outhouse which was impossible to get up wind of and which likely went with the guest house accommodations.

My Chinese counterparts were visible horrified at the thought of staying the night, so I thought I would help. I came down hard on the side of the mayor  and was all in favour of staying the night. We kept this discussion going for some time and my group was really having a hard time of it, trying to be polite. I kept a straight face though how, I have no idea.

Finally we just up and left. On that road, in the rain. No idea when we got back to Beijing as I curled up in the back seat and went to sleep. If we were going off the road into a canyon, I did not want to know about it.

Some days I am just plain evil.

L-R: driver, interpreter, me, senior bureaucrat

Sunday, November 7, 2021

Grocery prices again

 We do not got to town any more than absolutely necessary. And for the past two weeks, Tanya has been cleaning the house one room per day like it has never been cleaned before. I fetch and carry and have Pledge-ed allegiance to anything that looked like wood. Friday she finished and Saturday we went for groceries. Critters and hoomans were out of everything. Good time for me to learn Ukrainian words for items and check out what we are paying in CAD. USD is for other readers.

The cats get Whiskas and a small amount of meat morning and night as a 'treat'. Lucky gets dry dog food at night and rice and meat in the morning. Chicken livers is one of his favourites. I'm going to make pork and beans and chili. The government invested in the poultry and pork industry to ensure there was affordable protein for the masses. Beef is catch as catch can and usually from retired dairy cows. The beef roast we bought has ZERO fat and will be ground for chili. I'll have to add oil to fry it. Bread is highly subsidized. According to the Kyiv Post, 60% of the population is below the official poverty line so government keeps basics affordable.

Sometimes our supermarket brings in luxury items which do not always sell. There was a 750 g T-bone steak, well marbled but black as your boot, marked down 33%. I bought it for $12 CAD. Cheaper than going to a restaurant in the big city.

Here is the list of items we bought and prices in UAH, CAD, USD. Click on it to make it readable

Thursday, November 4, 2021

The Nomonhan War 1939

And now for something completely different 😀😀😀.

In 1995, while traveling through the Hulunbuir Grasslands of Inner Mongolia, my friend Hao Te and his son took me to the site of a small war on the border with Mongolia that played a decisive part in a much bigger war. Unless you are Russian or Japanese you will likely have never heard of Nomonhan. I certainly had not but filled that gap with John Colvin’s book by that title. Out of print but available on AbeBooks.

Hao Te and I on the east edge of the battle field

Hao Te's son and I at a border marker between Mongolia and Inner Mongolia

Site of a Buddhist shrine used as a Japanese command post,
 destroyed by Russian fighter bombers

The Nomonhan Incident or Khalkhin Gol War, depending on whether you are Japanese or Russian, was a series of battles fought over a stretch of grassland about 90 km long and 15-25 km wide. The Japanese, having conquered Manchuria in 1931 and set up a puppet state, Manchukuo, came up against the border of the Soviet Union and Mongolia, a Soviet satellite.

The Kwantung Army, which controlled Manchukuo, had some of the best Japanese divisions. The western region of Manchukuo was garrisoned by the relatively newly formed and least experienced 23rd Infantry Division with outdated equipment, HQ’d at Hailar, 150 km away. The Soviet and Mongolian borders were held by the 57th Special Corps, deployed from the Trans-Baikal Military District, 750 km away from their supply base but with good dirt trail roads. Mongolian troops were mainly cavalry (of course) and light artillery.

Dirt trails are remarkable good roads.

In 1939, the Japanese were already at war with China. For more on that read “Forgotten Ally; China’s World War II 1937-1945” by Rana Mitter The Kwantung Army was under orders from Tokyo NOT to do anything that would start a full-scale war with Russia as facing both China and Russia was a non-starter. However, their leaders were loose cannons, and decided that the border between Manchukuo and Mongolia should be the Khalkhin Gol (Khalkha River) a few km to the west of the actual border.

Map showing the location of the disputed area.

While 1400 to 1800 sq. km (600 to 700 sq. miles) of grasslands with a village or two thrown in, would make a nice ranch, one must question the wisdom of losing several 10s of thousands of soldiers and many hundreds of planes, tanks, trucks, aircraft, horse etc. to decide ownership. Even the Lincoln County or Wyoming Cattle Wars never got that big. However, the Kwangtung Army thought it was God’s gift to warfare and the Soviets were still suffering from the humiliation of the severe beating the Japanese navy gave them in 1904-1905. Sooo!

In May 1939, the Japanese started harassing the Soviet troops on the east side of the Khalkhin Gol or Khalkha River. In June, Stalin sent Georgy Zhukov with troops and equipment, including an aviation unit of fighter-bombers, to the area with instructions to put a stop to that nonsense. In late June, the Japanese Army Air Force, without permission from Tokyo, bombed the Soviet airbase, risking escalation. But at the end of June, the Commander of the 23rd Japanese Infantry Division got orders to clear out the “invaders” on the east side of the river.

Shtern, Choibalsaan and Zhukov at Khalkhin Gol

They opened a two-pronged encircling maneuver in early July which Zhukov beat back, nearly encircling the Japanese at one point and driving them well back of the river. The Japanese attacked in force again in late July and were forced to partially withdraw after failing to break Soviet lines. Zhukov decided enough was enough and launched a massive attack on August 20th, destroying the 23rd completely. From May to August, the Soviets lost 10,000 more men and many times more equipment than the Japanese. Since replacements were easy come by, their tactics reflected the Soviet disregard for life. In the meantime, the Soviets and Japanese signed an agreement not to attack each other.

The consequences of this small war with fewer than 50,000 casualties were immense:

  • ·         The Soviet victory encouraged Stalin to sign the 23 August Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact.
  • ·         The victory avenged the disaster at the 1905 Battle of Tsushima and restored Soviet prestige
  • ·         Zhukov burnished his credentials and returned to Moscow a hero.
  • ·         Moscow got to practice a coordinated offensive attack by motorized forces and aircraft.
  • ·         Japan saw that the Soviets would not be an easy opponent and turned south, focusing on China and the oil fields of SE Asia which eventually took them into conflict with USA.
  • ·         Stalin felt free to reduce his defensive strength facing Japan to the bare minimum during the darkest early days of World War II in 1941.

A number of references were used in writing this but the best for those who want more detail is Wikipedia

Also a new book on the subject is being released this month. The Nomonhan War 1939: Soviet-Japanese Clash at the Khalkhin Gol


Friday, October 29, 2021

Terrifying Reading for Halloween

 Scary stories come in many sizes and sources. If you are following American politics and its impact on the rest of the world, there is enough to scare the wits out of you. Here are some of the writers and journalists I follow on a platform called Substack and their articles are truly terrifying in many cases. 

If you are not familiar with Substack, it is an American online platform that provides publishing, payment, analytics, and design infrastructure to support subscription newsletters. 

Substack—which allows writers to send digital newsletters directly to their readers and monetize their work by putting it behind a paywall—has been growing steadily ever since its launch in 2017. Substack now has more than 250,000 paying subscribers. Its top ten publishers collectively bring in $7 million in annualized revenue. While Substack takes a 10% cut of earnings and payment company Stripe takes another 3%, writers pocket the rest. 

Substack offers journalists a platform to say whatever they want, unencumbered by editors. The independent writers that join the platform own their own content, as well as their subscription lists. They also have no obligation to stay on the platform. They can leave at any time—and bring their subscribers with them. 

1. Heather Cox Richardson from Letters from an American

Heather Cox Richardson is an American historian and professor of history at Boston College, where she teaches courses on the American Civil War, the Reconstruction Era, the American West, and the Plains Indians. She previously taught history at MIT and the University of Massachusetts Amherst. HCR would be my first choice; a daily summary of important news with historical background and analysis, usually as positive and upbeat as she can make it... but not always. I am a paid subscriber but her daily articles are also available on Facebook. She is in the top 10 on Substack and justifiably so.

2. TCinLA from That's Another Fine Mess

TC (Thomas McKelvey Cleaver) has written a number of military histories of WWII, Korea, and Vietnam that expose the dark side of the politics of war. His is the only other writer I am a paid subscriber to though I think you can sign up for free but it doesn't cover all articles.

3. Thom Hartmann of The Hartmann Report

Thomas Hartmann is an American radio personality, author, former psychotherapist, businessman, and progressive political commentator. I am currently on a free subscription but is one I would pay for though @ $50 to $75 USD there is a limit.

4. Timothy Snyder from "Thinking about..."

Dr Timothy Snyder is a well known historian and author. He is currently doing a series of podcasts from his booklet "On Tyranny" and has written and lectured a great deal on Eastern and Central Europe and the Holocaust. I have an unpaid subscription to his podcasts.

5. Robert Reich

Robert Reich is an American economist, professor, author, lawyer, and political commentator. He served in the administrations of Presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter, as well as serving as the United States Secretary of Labor from 1993 to 1997 under President Bill Clinton. He strongly supports Progressive Democrats such as AOC, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren. He is on Facebook and I also have an unpaid subscription.

6. Jeet Heer from The Time of Monsters

Jeet Heer is a Canadian author, comics critic, literary critic and journalist. He is a national affairs correspondent for The Nation magazine and a former staff writer at The New Republic. About half articles and half podcasts. I have an unpaid subscription.

7. Spencer Ackerman from Forever Wars

Spencer Ackerman is an American journalist and writer. Focusing primarily on national security, he began his career at The New Republic in 2002 before writing for Wired, The Guardian and The Daily Beast. His columns tend to reflect the dark side of American politics of war. I have an unpaid subscription but would consider a paid one of necessary.

8. Greg Olear from PREVAIL by Greg Olear

Greg Olear is an American novelist, journalist, and author. His journalism includes political commentary and investigation; in 2018 he published the book Dirty Rubles: An Introduction to Trump/Russia. I have an unpaid subscription.

9. Lucian K. Truscott IV from Lucian Truscott Newsletter

Lucian King Truscott IV is an American writer and journalist. A former staff writer for The Village Voice, he is the author of several military-themed novels. I have an unpaid subscription.

10. Ruth Ben-Ghiat from Lucid

Ruth Ben-Ghiat is an American historian and cultural critic. She is a scholar on fascism and authoritarian leaders. Ben-Ghiat is Professor of History and Italian Studies at New York University. I have an unpaid subscription.

11. Diane Francis on America

Diane Francis is a US-born Canadian journalist, author and editor-at-large for the National Post newspaper since 1998. She is a Non-Resident Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council in Washington DC, specializing in Eurasia policy and political issues. She writes about power, money, tech, and white-collar crime in America. She is totally behind a paywall. 

Friday, October 22, 2021

Indian Summer

 One of my favourite poems, which I memorized in elementary school in the 1950s is William Wilfred Campbell's Indian Summer. The last warm days in October before winter begins to set in.

Indian Summer

Along the line of smoky hills
The crimson forest stands,
And all the day the blue-jay calls
Throughout the autumn lands.

Now by the brook the maple leans
With all his glory spread,
And all the sumachs on the hills
Have turned their green to red.

Now by great marshes wrapt in mist,
Or past some river's mouth,
Throughout the long, still autumn day
Wild birds are flying south.

We are enjoying Indian Summer (Бабье лето Baba Leto in Russian) here in Zhovti Vody. We had a few days of 10C weather and one night of frost but now it is 20C in the daytime and 10C at night. The cats don't even come home at night. 

Tanya has gone to Kyiv for three days to visit Masha as her roomies have gone to Turkey on holiday. It is a risk as Covid is running wild in Ukraine. Two days ago people were lined up here for vaccinations as Pfizer was finally readily available. Waiting for Pfizer may have been a mistake as we have 40 new cases per day and lost 8 people in the past two weeks.

Yard work is pretty much done. Tanya has continually clipped and dug in her flowers. We cleaned off the last of the garden, hauled the dead plants to our compost pile in the abandoned garden next to us, and spread well rotted manure over some of the garden. We will hire our neighbour to rototill it next week. He has a big front wheel drive garden tractor.

Our walnut trees yielded well again. We cannot give them away and have a tub left from last year, a big wire basket and large cardboard box from this year and left lots on the ground. We raked the leaves into a long row one day and burned them the next. Of course we had a very strong wind on the third day and the rest of the leaves fell so I will rake them before Tanya gets home. She will do the burning.

Lucky and I will go for a walk today. It is too nice to be inside.

Fall colours on our street

Walnut leaves

The long view of the walnut leaves

Burning leaves. NW wind blew the smoke towards the pig fam 1 km away.
Tanya said it was their turn

We cleaned the driveway. The white sand is to refill Lucky's sandbox.
He love to dig in it and hide his toys, then 'find' them.

Yours truly in my 20 year old South African Stockman's hat.
A gift from my friend Wayne at 

Half of this year's crop of walnuts

Our neighbour trimmed low branches off the walnut trees.

Friday, October 15, 2021

Gentle Rant on Anti-Vaxxers

 It is quite frustrating for people who are vaccinated and try to follow the rules to keep others safe, to see so much energy wasted by people to avoid the vaccine, mask, and safe distancing. It is mucking up lives and the economy. 

An state rep from BareFlanks Alaska has been banned from flying Alaska Airlines for being obstreperous so she has been unable to get to Juneau to sit in the legislature. She now has Covid and is treating herself at home with Vicks Vapo Rub and Ivermectin.

A relative in the States, her husband, and husband's family, good Republican Jesus Christians all, have Covid. The parents are not young. I have not heard how they are doing. Or if their daughter has it.

UPDATE Oct 17: The father-in-law died two days ago. Mother-in-law and husband were hospitalized briefly but will recover. Relative had a mild case and is fine, daughter is worn out from looking after all of them. Dying for one's unbeliefs.

Tanya and I, being old, are taking any precautions we can. Last Oct we took a taxi to Dnipro to get a pneumonia vaccination and wouldn't even stop for my McDonald's fix. In November, Tanya purchased flu vaccine and administered it to both of us. In June we got both Pfizer shots. We still mask up in shops and such.

I should not feel too smug. I resisted a mumps vaccine for years as I was too lazy to go and get it. Reasoning? We had four kids and owned a wheelbarrow. When we sold the wheelbarrow, I went and got my shot.

Flu vaccine, the same. Resisted for years as I could not be bothered. Then I got the flu. Tanya and I were sick for two weeks a few years back. That's when we started looking for a vaccine source in Zhovti Vody. Hard to find then. Got my first shot in Canada in 2018 because I did not want anything to interfere with my scheduled surgeries and I wanted to go home. Since then it is available at some of our pharmacies but they do not inject it, just sell it. 

Too soon old and too late smart. Don't be like me. 

Do not spend any time doing "research". It's all been done. Avoid YouTube. It is the only place you will learn that more people have died from the vaccine than from Covid. No one knows anyone who has actually died. It is always "my mechanic's third cousin's aunt's daughter's boyfriend's sister knows someone. 

A former FB friend sent me a link to a video of a doctor addressing the Texas Senate. As If. 

There have been people who had reactions as to any vaccine. Of the millions of doses administered, the severe reactions are a very miniscule percentage compared to the sickness and deaths of the unvaccinated.

Get vaccinated, and mask up. Protect yourself and others who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons. 

Friday, October 8, 2021

The Bitter Sweet Story of Kathy's Song

 Written by Paul Simon, sung by Art Garfunkel, Kathy's Song remains one of the most beautiful love songs ever written. When I study the lyrics, I am in awe of Paul Simon's use of words. I could listen to it for hours with the music washing over me like a warm sea. The story behind the song brings so much meaning and so much sadness.

Simon and Garfunkel's first album, Wednesday Morning 3 AM, was released in October 1964, and did not do well. Paul Simon went to England where he performed in folk clubs and pubs where he met Kathy Chitty, who worked at one of the clubs. They became passionate lovers and she became his muse. He wrote Homeward Bound in Widnes, Essex, while waiting for a train and longing for Kathy.

They returned to United States and toured by bus (listen to Paul Simon's America where she is mentioned twice). Back in UK, The Paul Simon Songbook, featuring Kathy with Paul on the album cover, was released in August 1965 and included Kathy's Song which he wrote when in New York while she was in England.

In the meantime, the producer of Wednesday Morning 3 AM took the song The Sound of Silence, reworked the music, and released it as a Single in 1965 and in 1966 it was at the top of the charts. Paul Simon and Kathy returned to America, where Simon and Garfunkel began recording the series of albums for which they are famous. When I was in University in the late 60s, you could not turn on the radio without hearing Simon and Garfunkel.

Fame, fortune and public attention overwhelmed the incredibly shy and sensitive Kathy. She and Paul had a very traumatic breakup and Kathy returned to England. 

Simon and Garfunkel released their last album, Bridge Over Troubled Waters, in 1971 and their on again-off again partnership was off. They reunited several times for concerts and tours the most famous of which was 1981's concert in the Park, but never recorded another album.

When I read of Paul Simon's subsequent marriages and deep depression, I wonder "what if..."

Kathy’s Song

I hear the drizzle of the rain
Like a memory it falls
Soft and warm continuing
Tapping on my roof and walls
And from the shelter of my mind
Through the window of my eyes
I gaze beyond the rain-drenched streets
To England where my heart lies
My mind's distracted and diffused
My thoughts are many miles away
They lie with you when you're asleep
And kiss you when you start your day
And a song I was writing is left undone
I don't know why I spend my time
Writing songs I can't believe
With words that tear and strain to rhyme
And so you see I have come to doubt
All that I once held as true
I stand alone without beliefs
The only truth I know is you
And as I watch the drops of rain
Weave their weary paths and die
I know that I am like the rain
There but for the grace of you go I
Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: Paul Simon
Kathy’s Song lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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Monday, September 27, 2021

More songs to sing myself to sleep

 In a previous post I wrote about the songs I sing to myself inside my head (or out loud if I am walking the dog). At night they keep my thoughts organized and help me to go to sleep. Here are a few more that I enjoy and I hope you do too.

Monday, September 20, 2021

A great holiday in Turkey


Panorama of the beach. The safety guide rope is visible on the right.

Tourism is huge business in Turkey, the 6th most popular tourist destination in the world. People are drawn there for archaeological sites such as Ephesus, cultural sites such as the Blue Mosque or the Hagia Sophia and the beach resorts along the Mediterranean and Aegean coasts. In 2019, 51 million tourists entered Turkey. This year they expect 25 million as the world recovers from Covid and Turkey battled forest fires all summer.

Russia is #1 country of origin for tourists and Ukraine is #7

We took our first holiday in Turkey in 2008 in July. Never did that again. 40C+ is out of our comfort zone. So after that we went in late September and sometimes into early October. Weather is still warm and the water is too. Also the price is way down. Our experiences have been mixed, to say the least but the swimming has never disappointed us. 

Antalya, the tourist capital of Turkey, sits on top of the Gulf of Antalya with resorts down both sides. Until this year we stayed in resorts in the Bildebi area, north of Kemer on the west side of the gulf. This year we tried one south of Kemer, Club Akman Beach Hotel in the Camyuva area and were so happy with it. I'd give a 5 star rating to this 4 star hotel.

Location of Club Akman

Overhead view of Club Akman Beach Hotel

Tanya in front of the hotel. Everyone at the resort is double vaccinated
 or had a negative test within 48 hours of arrival
so no masks inside but if we went out we wore masks

For great pictures of the hotel, go to or watch Far better photography than I am capable of.

North of Kemer the beaches are very bad. Narrow with coarse sharp gravel. You need rubber sandals even in the water. Not very good for kids. The beaches in Camyuva are not perfect but far superior and great for kids. The sand is coarse grey but not impossible to walk on in bare feet. The sea does not drop off quite as soon so there are decent shallows. Club Akman was swarming with kids, ranging from babies to toddlers to preschoolers and a few 6-10 year olds. Little ones were in flotation devices with parents close by. Even the babies. 

I can't swim but here, I can't sink either. It takes little effort to stay upright in the water and paddle along. Tanya swims like a fish and is usually way out from the beach area. I stay close to the safety guide rope where it is only 5 to 6 meters deep and would paddle back and forth between the two docks in the picture, about 400 to 500 ft.. The water is so clear you can see the bottom. 

Just paddling along, vertical to the horizontal

Tanya off to the left along the safety guide rope.

All of the resorts we stayed at over the years, including this one, catered to Russian speakers. Up and down both sides of Kemer, even the people in the shops spoke enough Russian to make sales. So I was a bit of a curiosity and got many questions, "Where are you from?" The Activity Director (6 ft blonde model, 1/3 my age, 6 months making money in Turkey, 6 months spending it in Moscow, flawless English) said I was the only foreigner at the hotel, maybe in all the Kemer area. 

That cracked me up. Housecleaning staff were Tajik or Uzbek, grounds maintenance were from Turkmenistan, the night receptionist was from Armenia, some guy who looked homeless but told me he was director of maintenance, was from Manchester. But I was the only foreigner.

Women outnumbered men about 2 to 1. Mothers with kids. Wives holidaying while husbands worked. Men, by and large, wore boxer swim trunks and sported washtub abs. A few 6-pack abs but mostly two-four pack abs. I felt right at home.

Women's bathing suits were much more varied. A few one piece but mostly two piece. Some were mainly strings which, like barbed wire fences, protected the property but did not obstruct the view. The rest of the tops fell into five categories. Orthodox which were divinely iconic. Catholic which supported the masses. Presbyterian which were staunch and upright. Salvation Army which lifted the fallen. and Baptist which made mountains out of molehills. 

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Watch this space next week

Tanya and I are vacationing in Turkey. We are staying at the Club Akman Beach Hotel South of Kemer. We will be home late on 19th and a full report asap after. Our friends Vitalik and Natasha are staying at our place and looking after our critters. 
Best holiday ever. Best resort we have found in over 10 holidays to this area. Weather is perfect. Sea is perfect. Food is good, beds comfortable, grounds well maintained.
I burned my face out swimming so now I have appealing eyes and a peeling nose.

Monday, September 6, 2021

Marketing Forced-Birth as Pro-Life

Since Roe vs Wade, the religious right have been fighting to have it repealed and abortion made illegal again. Many states have passed laws which eventually were thrown out by the Supreme Court. However the five Injustices, three of which were appointed under Trump have changed the nature of SCOTUS. They refused to even hear the new Texas law before it went into effect Sept 1st. They are currently hearing the Mississippi law which if they find in its favour will end Roe vs Wade. 

Dr Heather Cox Richardson provides an overview of the Texas Law and what it means to women in Texas and possibly in every other Red state and a brief history of the anti-abortion movement. The Republican Jesus Red Southern States claim it is because they are "Pro-Life" however they rank at the bottom in terms of poverty, infant mortality, maternal mortality and anything else that might make it easier to carry a child to term and raise it to adulthood. Their politicians are opposed to any programs that might improve the lot of the actual living, even vaccinations or wearing a mask.

Their argument, in favour of advocating for forced-birth only, is spelled out in this article which will likely make you nauseous but read it anyhow. John Pavlovitz, whom the "Pro-Life" people hate because he calls them out for what they are, summed it up quite eloquently. His articles  are Here and Here. 

Embryos are relatively easy to advocate for. They don’t encroach upon people’s privilege or confront their politics or challenge their theology or require much from them in the way of lifestyle change. . .

. . . By opposing abortion, religious people can feel the intoxicating, easy high of self-righteousness and moral virtue—without having to actually love or help people: strange, disparate, uncomfortable-for- you-to-be-around people. That’s because embryos can be idealized into something pleasant and palatable, devoid of any of the messy characteristics they find undesirable in actual walking-around human beings. They aren’t yet gay or Muslim or liberal or Black or poor or atheist (or whatever other qualifiers trouble you), and so affinity with them is uncomplicated, solidarity with them does not cross the lines of their tribalism.

Anti-abortion believers get to feel like noble advocates for Life, while still holding onto their prejudices and hang-ups and hatred.

 Or as George Carlin put it, "If you are pre-born, you're fine; if you are pre-school, you're f**ked".

One of the advantages of pushing an extreme position is that you are not bound by facts or reason. Emotion beats rationality any day. Two examples of the misinformation used to oppose abortion:

Life begins at conception. What is life? The sperm is alive. The egg is alive. The embryo (<8 weeks) is alive. The fetus (>8 weeks) is alive. Science can define the stages of pregnancy but cannot define when life begins. That requires theology. Genesis 2:7 (KJV) says And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. So when a baby draws its first breath, it becomes a living soul and a human being. This is what the Jews believethat existing life should take precedence over potential life, and a woman’s life and her pain should take precedence over a fetus. I expect most rational people would agree that Jews are just as moral as Republican Jesus Christians.

A fetal heartbeat can be detected at six weeks. Yes and no. Ultrasound can detect a small flutter in the area that will develop into a heart. These are electrical impulses from the cells that will be the heart's 'pacemaker'. The sound is made by the ultrasound machine itself. The heart has no valves so cannot beat. A true heartbeat caused by the sound of heart valves that can be heard on a stethoscope usually occurs after about 10 weeks. The term 'fetal heartbeat' is very misleading as used in forced-birth laws.

The 'forced-birth' crowd like to talk about 'murdering babies, or murdering children'. An embryo or a fetus is not a baby or a child though it has potential to become those, and then a teen ager and an adult and an old person but they don't talk about abortion as 'murdering teenagers'. They are playing on images with their language which is good marketing, of course.

When the forced birth people talk about a pregnant woman, you are always shown images like on the left, never like on the right which is what most women look like if the seek an abortion. In 2018, 92% of abortions were preformed at under 13 weeks.

This is what embryos look like at 6 and 8 weeks. Bean size. When 65% of abortions occurred in 2016. mid-term (2nd trimester) abortions are usually because the woman had to come up with the money or if young teens, because they feared their parents to deal with it earlier. Third trimester abortions which account for about 1%, are usually tragic, either the mother's life is in danger or the fetus is terminally malformed. 

Of course it is the third trimester  abortions the 'Pro-Life' people focus on because they are the most gory. They talk about children being torn limb from limb, even as they exit the womb. 

These images are how you are to imagine aborted embryos and fetuses. Ruddy cheeked, blonde, blue-eyed, healthy and white. . . because these are the only children that matter. . . so long as they are not poor. Or gay or atheist or. . .

You are never to imagine these children. They may well be very much loved but their mother may not be able to afford another mouth to feed.  In 2014, 75% of abortion patients were poor or low income. And 59% of patients who obtained an abortion already had one or more children.

CDC Stats were available for 2018. There is no mandate for states to report abortions and not all do. Of 48 reporting areas in 2018, there were 614, 820 abortions reported: 11.3 per 1000 women aged 15 to 44 years and 189 per 1000 live births. Early medical abortions accounted for 38.6%. Women in their 20s accounted for 57.7% of abortions. 

Guttmacher Institute provided the following data. in 2019, 29 states with 58% of women of reproductive age were considered hostile to abortion, 14 states with 35% of women of reproductive age were considered supportive. using 2014 rates, 1 woman in 4 will have an abortion before age 45.  Adolescents made up 12% of abortion patients in 2014: 18-19 8%, 15-17 3% and <15 0.2%. Of abortion patients in 2014, 39% were White, 28% Black, 25% Hispanic and others 9%; 17% mainline Protestant, 13% evangelical Protestant, 24% Catholic, 38% no religion, 8% other. in 2014, 51% of abortion patients were using birth control the month they got pregnant, 24% condoms and 13% a short acting hormonal method.

Criminalizing abortion won’t stop it – it’ll just make it deadly. Women will continue to terminate pregnancies and put their lives in danger in the process. In 1967, 42% of American maternal death rate was attributed to botched abortion. This does not matter to the 'Forced-Birth" movement as they were likely poor anyhow. And be sure that if the wives, daughters and mistresses of the 'Pro-Life' lawmakers and their wealthy friends need abortions, they will get them in a safe clinic.

The government cannot (yet) require Americans to follow the Catholic Church's prohibition against divorce or (yet) forbid a woman from using birth control. And neither should it utilize one particular interpretation of Christianity to make a woman bear a child. but the Republican Jesus Christians are will on their way to establishing an authoritarian theocracy. They may have stirred up a hornets' nest or be the dog that caught the car, but the voter suppression laws may well keep the rabble at bay.

And regardless of what O'Toole is telling Canadians, the religious right vote solidly CPC and will fight to once again make abortions illegal in Canada.