Saturday: All I want for X-mas is a baby owl…

Click to go to source post.

Morning, news junkies!

Anyone who really knows me off the blogs knows I am obsessed with owls. I sported an owl beanie + handmade rhinestone owl t-shirt for Halloween this year. I own multiple pieces of owl jewelry. I have owl-themed kitchenware (including a crockpot), and lately I have taken to sending snail mail on owl stationary plastered with owl stickers all over them. Owls are the Hillary of the animal world for me.

I am even considering an owl tattoo, and my very Desi parents would probably have simultaneous heart attacks if they found out. In common Hinglish parlance, I have gone pagal.

My family and I also lost our sweet little pomeranian of almost 13 years this past March. This is my first Christmas in forever without her physical presence, but I still feel her with me…if nowhere else but in my heart.

I am not quite ready for another pet, though I do visit the adoptable kittehs at the Petco right next to my house whenever I have a chance and have grown rather fond of a certain French mastiff puppy in the family. And, just this week I held an adorable fluffy white lapdog (also in the family) in my arms for the first time since I became dog-less. I cried my eyes out the next morning watching home videos of my angel-goddess.

That being said, if it were possible to keep a baby owl that was suitable for domestication in the United States, I would be seriously tempted to own such a beautiful creature. As I understand it, though, owls would not make the best of pets and their dietary habits are not exactly something I’m so sure I could easily adjust to (I’m mostly a pescetarian, occasionally a flexitarian). However, I have been looking into this and found out that my sister and I may be able to adopt an owl from the Houston Audubon Society. This might be the ideal solution for awhile until/if we are ready to have pets again. I am thinking of surprising her either tomorrow or on New Year’s.

Alright, now that I’ve bored you to pieces with my owl monologues (like you give a hoot…I know, I know, bad pun, sorry!)

Anyhow, onto some Saturday reads…

I’ve still got some holiday odds and ends to attend to, so I’m just going to do a straightforward link-dump, with teasers and snippets for your convenience:

  • Two links to cheer about, both from Jezebel:

–Welcome home, Wati: Girl Missing Since 2004 Tsunami Turns Up Alive In Indonesia

The Best Holiday/Military Photo You Will See Today (or this year, imho!); per NPR…For First Time, Women Share ‘First Kiss’ At A Navy Homecoming

  • Even more to cheer about…

Governor ‘All asshat, no cattle’ Perry knocked off Virginia ballot [Wapo]

Voters leaving Oligarchy flavors, D and R, in droves [USA Today]

  • Via Yahoo’s Destination 2012/The Ticket:

Stephen Colbert offered $400k for South Carolina GOP primary naming rights (and almost succeeded!)

  • Hillary headlines:

–Star-Ledger Editorial Board: Hillary Clinton’s forceful remarks on Cairo women inspire pride

Do women in power make a difference? After the awful situation in Egypt, and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s swift denunciation, the answer is a resounding yes. […] Would a male secretary of state—say, a James Baker or Colin Powell—been as forceful or quick? Hard to say. But there’s no denying that coming from Clinton, the words pack an extra wallop.

–Columbia Daily Spectator: Clinton inspires Barnard students at State Department

At the inaugural colloquium hosted this Thursday, hosted in the State Department building, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and a dozen other women leaders spoke to students from Barnard, Bryn Mawr, Mount Holyoke, Smith, and Wellesley Colleges.

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Barnard President Debora Spar sat across the aisle from one another.

Farah Pandith, special Representative to Muslim Communities for the State Department, attributed this goal to the “Hillary effect,” a phrase that has come to describe Clinton’s contagious enthusiasm. Pandith applauded Clinton for her 2008 presidential campaign, citing “15 million cracks in the glass ceiling.”

In keeping this reputation, Clinton spoke fervently about the multifaceted initiative. She deplored the United States’ reluctance to support female politicians, while applauding India’s quota of female lawmakers. Clinton’s opening remarks referenced her own experiences, too. “It was 18 million cracks,” she declared.

– U.S. National Action Plan Puts Women at Forefront of Foreign Policy (the article pats President Obama on the back for his “own commitment to women’s leadership,” but come on… we all know this is Hillary’s signature issue and without her influence and clout as a crusader for women and girls, this “action” plan would not be happening.)

–via the Canadian Maclean’s: On the job with ‘Hillary’s angels’ (neat photos at the link)…

No U.S. Secretary of state has travelled like Hillary Clinton does. As Barack Obama’s top diplomat, she clocked more than 354,000 km in 2010—enough to circle the globe nearly nine times. And as the woman who famously said she made “18 million cracks” in the “glass ceiling” during her 2008 bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, Clinton also travels with a highly trained security contingent that includes more than a dozen women.

They were chosen from thousands of applicants to personally guard the secretary as she trots the globe touting American interests. Writing in Elle magazine, Laura Blumenfeld dubbed them “Hillary’s Angels.” Given that they’re trained to fire guns upside down, run for miles on end and take people down in hand-to-hand combat, the handle seems entirely appropriate.

Great blog post from USA Today’s Christie Garton on Hillary’s Women in Public Service initiative; includes an interview with Kim Bottomly, president of Hillary’s alma mater, which is one of seven sister schools participating in the project.

Elizabeth Warren And Hillary Clinton Trade Lessons (excerpt from an interview with Elizabeth Warren in The Progressive, highlighted via “Steve’s Politics blog”):

Q: You have an amazing anecdote in The Two-Income Trap about Hillary Clinton and the bankruptcy bill, which she called “that awful bill” and opposed when her husband was President but voted for in 2001, though it didn’t pass then.

Warren: I give Hillary Clinton a lot of credit. When she was First Lady, I sat down with her in a hotel in Boston. I had all these graphs and charts, and she was crunching through a hamburger, listening, and asking a lot of questions, and she really got it. At first, she was resistant. After all, the White House was quietly supporting the banks’ bankruptcy bill. But boy, by about the third or fourth slide she was starting to say, “Oh,” and she could jump ahead. She got it.

Someone later told me there were skid marks on the floor in the White House from people reversing position on that bankruptcy bill when Hillary Clinton got back from Boston.

Steve poses a good question for Elizabeth Warren to answer at the end:

The lesson Elizabeth Warren gave to Hillary Clinton was the explanation of how bad the bankruptcy bill was.

The lesson Hillary Clinton gave to Elizabeth Warren is that even if you understand the horrors of the bill and you convinced President Clinton to veto it, you may still eventually give in to the lobbying pressures once you become a Senator.

I would love to hear Elizabeth Warren’s plan to resist this pressure when she becomes the Senator from Massachusetts.  Unfortunately President George H. W. Bush made the “Read my lips” assurance null and void.   I have no idea what plan Elizabeth Warren could have to make sure she does not succumb.

–via Politico…Hillaryland: Draft movement a GOP plot?

Hillary Clinton’s people — current and former — are mystified, suspicious and bit peeved with the recent raft of mysterious “Draft Hillary” robocalls and emails and a mangy web site – which looks like it was produced in the Hindu Kush.

The current theory, according to posts on a listserv frequented by former Clinton 2008 staffers and senate staff forwarded to POLITICO, is that it’s a GOP plot.

  • Sisterland Must-reads!

–Nancy Folbre: Feminism’s Uneasy Success (via Economix; complete with nifty graph)… as Folbre concludes:

The gender revolution didn’t cause this problem, but it is surely being hindered by it.

–David Rosen: Sexual Violence in America (via Counterpunch)

Sexual violence is the shame of the nation.

–Minjon Tholen: Women’s Sexual and Reproductive Health Should Be Prominent on the Progressive Agenda (via New Deal 2.0)… Tholen’s closing argument:

So rather than imposing abstinence-only education and preventing Plan B from being sold over the counter, let’s follow the Ad Council’s lead in acknowledging reality, trusting people to make responsible decisions, providing comprehensive information and resources, and recognizing the social and economic benefits of respecting women’s sexual and reproductive rights. The progressive movement needs to once and for all understand and embrace how these issues are intertwined with all of our other causes and put these rights at the core of its agenda.

–Bryce Covert: The Paternalism of the Holiday Car Ad (via New Deal 2.0)… from Covert’s piece:

As Annie Lowrey tweets in parody of these ads, “Husband buys wife a car! Wife expresses horror that he made a major financial decision unilaterally, on impulse!”

  • Meant to post this last weekend… calling all fellow Jane Austen fangirls:

Happy Birthday Jane Austen and the 7 Hottest Austen Men (via Houston Press’ Art Attack).

–Amanda Vickery: 200 years on, why Jane Austen’s lovers find new reasons for their passion (via the Guardian/Observer):

Many different Jane Austens have been celebrated since 1811 – sweet Aunt Jane in her rose-wreathed cottage, sardonic critic, master stylist, mother of the novel, feminist rebel and queen of romantic comedy. I think the key to her adaptability is her restraint. Austen leaves room for the reader’s intelligence and fantasies, which has the uncanny effect of allowing each new generation to see themselves reflected back from her pages. And in another 200 years, I am sure readers still will.

  • Today (December 24th) in Women’s History:

–Via lizlibrary:

Event: 12-24-1948, first solar heated house occupied. The experiments were sponsored by Amelia Peabody, house designed by Eleanor Raymond, It was cheap and effective and promptly ignored by industry.

–For more info, see Fast Company’s March 2009 report “Some of the Greatest Inventors Are Women“… here is the blurb specifically about Dr. Telkes:

Maria Telkes invented the first solar home heating system:Maria Telkes was fascinated with the sun. She went to high school in Budapest, Hungary, and gained a PhD in physical chemistry from the University of Budapest. She traveled to the United States in 1925 and eventually joined the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Solar Energy Research Project.

While she was there, a Boston sculptor, Amelia Peabody, approached Maria and offered to pay for construction of a solar heated house on land she owned in Dover, Massachusetts. The house was to be designed by architect Eleanor Raymond. Maria was to design the solar-heating system.

That was in 1948. “I envisage the day when solar heat collecting shelters, like power stations, will be built apart from the house,” she told W. Clifford Harvey of The Christian Science Monitor. “One such solar-heating building could develop enough heat from the sun for pumping into an entire community of homes.”

Just think of all the carbon footprints Dr. Telkes could have shrunken by now if the world were ready to lift up its female talent instead of ignoring it. Especially during the holiday season!

Speaking of which, I stumbled upon this Blake & Sons Heating and Air blog post that I thought I’d close with…

A Holiday Debate: Clean Air vs. Full Wallets

It’s hard to spoil the Christmas or Hanukkah spirit at the popular holiday bazaars that sprout every year in places like Union Square or the Columbus Circle corner of Central Park, selling all manner of tchotchkes, knick-knacks and bric-a-brac for impulsive gift hunters.

But Jeffrey H. Brodsky, a graduate student in history at Columbia University, points out that all those stalls, lights and heaters are powered by diesel-fuel generators, which environmental groups say emit fumes that can aggravate lung and heart ailments and cause problems in children’s developing bodies.

“I’m not saying they should be closed down, but it’s almost Third World to put up with them,” said Mr. Brodsky, who lives three blocks from Columbus Circle. “We’re in the middle of New York City and we should be able to use electricity. We have ample power. It’s surprising that the city administration allows something so antithetical to public health.”

The markets have contracts with the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation, whose officials have pointed out in the past that they produce sizable revenue for a city in need just now, and that they are temporary; they last a month or so.

People vs. profit…the age-old political dilemma continues. I don’t think the original DFH (Dirty Frick-on-a-stick Hippie) Jesus would be very pleased with the priorities that rule our country today.

I’d love to see Amy Poehler on Parks and Recreations tackle this one.

Well, I think that about covers it for me. I hope you have a lovely Saturday & Sunday, however you spend it. Once again, I am very privileged to be co-blogging the morning reads on X-mas weekend alongside the magnificent Minkoff Minx…I can’t wait to see the linky goodness she serves up at the buffet table tomorrow morning! On behalf of the Sky Dancing frontpage team, here’s wishing you and yours ‘a merry & a happy’ as we look back at 2011 and look forward to 2012. I know it’s a busy time for a lot of us (and for the rest of us, it’s a time to sleep in and ignore the season of excess!), but if you can drop in and let us know what you are up to for the holidays and what’s on your reading list this weekend, we are always happy to hear from you! And, with that, I’m turning the discussion over to you in the comments, Sky Dancers.

43 Comments on “Saturday: All I want for X-mas is a baby owl…”

  1. Beata says:

    Excellent round-up, Wonk. Thank you. It is good to see you posting again.

    I am very sorry to read about the loss of your beloved dog. The death of a pet can bring such profound sadness. I lost my 21-year-old cat to kidney failure in October 2010. I was devastated. I had her since she was 6 weeks old. I was so depressed that my family and friends urged me to get another cat, ASAP. I took a leap of faith and adopted one from the local shelter. It was a tremendously healing thing. I am so glad to have my new “baby”. She can’t ever replace my other cat but I love her dearly.

    Wonk, I would encourage you to get another pet. Don’t wait. There is a loving pet out there just waiting for you. It needs you and you need it.

    • Beata, thanks so much, especially for sharing your experience…I’m sorry you lost such a dear cat (from six weeks to 21 years! wow!) but so happy to hear you’ve been able to open your heart to a new kitty without feeling it diminishes your bond with your lost furry one.

      We were already making a donation to an animal shelter in our dog’s name this holiday season, but I will also keep in mind what you said about a pet out there… Maybe 2012 will bring the healing necessary for such a leap of faith.

    • Fannie says:

      Absolutely………… early christmas, is my 8 week black lab, her name Josey. Not getting much sleep, but loving her playfulness.

  2. Riverbird says:

    An acquaintance of mine who is a naturalist who writes about birds has a rescue owl. You might like to see photos of Archimedes:

    An owl and his human
  3. grayslady says:

    Love the picture of the sawhet owl, Wonk. A couple of years ago, a friend and I drove up to Two Rivers, WI for the annual Owl Fest. Every year, a group of volunteers captures and bands sawhets to monitor their status. We had an opportunity to see them up close and personal, and they are truly adorable. They actually seem to enjoy being petted! I am also very fortunate to have a neighborhood great horned owl, although I don’t hear him very often, and I’ve only seen him once. Tomorrow, I’m hoping to go over to the lake and see if I can spot a snowy owl. The Chicago Tribune reported that they are in our area this year due to a shortage of food in Canada (their favorite food is lemmings, apparently, and the lemming population varies from year to year). Have a great holiday weekend.

    • grayslady, wow, are you saying you got to pet a sawhet?! I am envious. I need to get my derriere back to Wisconsin to see/pet for myself.

      I love that you have owl-watching plans for tomorrow. Take pics and share here if you can!

  4. Pat Johnson says:

    Happy Holidays to one of my favorite sites, The SkyDancers! A valued “must read” on my daily list.

    Dak, Bostonboomer, Wonk, Minx, Peggy Sue, and Quixote help to keep me “sane” in a world that seems to have become “shakier” and for that I am thankful. At least I am assured I am not alone.

    Love the owl!

    • ralphb says:

      What Pat said!

      A big too bad we didn’t follow up on solar power back in 1948. We might be living in a much different world today.

      • Pat back atcha–we can always count on you to preach it in the comments of our posts, sister-friend!

        Ralph, just think of how different Texas alone might be! I sure hope if we were smart enough to have a solar-powered state, all that sunshine would disinfect the Perry/religious right fanatacism from our state politics and policies.

      • foxyladi14 says:

        tru dat 🙂

    • What Wonk said…Pat always look forward to your comments and I read your post all the time at Widdershins!

  5. ralphb says:

    Some of these kids are hilarious.

    • Lol, they did it again for Christmas…too funny. And, oh my goddess, the girl with the half-eaten PB sandwich looks like a mini-Reese Witherspoon.

      • ralphb says:

        She’s absolutely gorgeous. Practical jokes on children may be bad but they’re sure funny.

        I’m very sorry to hear about your loss. Sometimes it’s better to jump right into the new puppy phase though. Hope you have the happiest of holidays!

  6. ralphb says:

    The Big Lie

    So this is how the Big Lie works.

    You begin with a hypothesis that has a certain surface plausibility. You find an ally whose background suggests that he’s an “expert”; out of thin air, he devises “data.” You write articles in sympathetic publications, repeating the data endlessly; in time, some of these publications make your cause their own. Like-minded congressmen pick up your mantra and invite you to testify at hearings.

    You’re chosen for an investigative panel related to your topic. When other panel members, after inspecting your evidence, reject your thesis, you claim that they did so for ideological reasons. This, too, is repeated by your allies. Soon, the echo chamber you created drowns out dissenting views; even presidential candidates begin repeating the Big Lie.

    Joe Nocera has got it. All I want for Christmas is the truth to come out for a change.

  7. Hi all… I have a holi-daze question. I need a fun but uncomplicated place to buy gift cards/certificates for about 7 kiddos that I didn’t realize I’d have to shop for until last-minute… any suggestions?

    I’m also a grinch about this and don’t want to pay 30 extra bucks in “fees” to buy one of those prepaid gift cards you can get at the drugstore.

    • Pat Johnson says:

      Try Friendly’s if you have one in your area. Or an ice cream store that has coupons. Kids love thinking they are “buying something” on their own.

    • bostonboomer says:

      You can buy them on Amazon and send the info by e-mail. I don’t know if that would work for you, but it’s quick and Amazon has just about everything.

      • Delphyne says:

        I did that, too, BB, for nieces/nephews who live out of town – they liked them and you’re right, you can pretty much get anything on Amazon. For the kids in town, I went to Barnes and Noble to buy the gift cards as it is close by and the lines were never that bad, even on Christmas Eve.

      • Fannie says:

        For sure, they do have everything………….

  8. bostonboomer says:

    Hi Wonk,

    I’m so sorry for your loss. Losing a pet is very painful. For years I used to dream about two of my cats who had died. I found that comforting somehow, as if they had visted me during the night. After going through the loss of four cats, one who died at about 8 years old and the other two 17 years old, I decided I just couldn’t handle it anymore. I wish I could have another pet, but I have been traveling a lot in the past few years, so it would be difficult for me. I hope you do it though, and I hope you adopt that owl.

    Have you ever read the book “One Man’s Owl,” by Bernd Heinrich? I’ve heard it’s very good and have always wanted to read it myself. Maybe I’ll get around to it now.

  9. Delphyne says:

    I am sorry about the loss of your little Pomeranian, Wonk. Losing a pet is so difficult. After I lost my last border collie, Lucy, at 17 1/2 years old (I had her from 5 weeks when neighbors found her abandoned in a parking lot), I had to wait four years until I got my current border collie. That was only because I knew I would be leaving California to care for elderly parents and my mother was not a dog lover; otherwise, I would have gotten another dog immediately as I have done in the past.

    For me personally, the new dog has always been great therapy for me after the loss of the other dogs – the unconditional love and devotion that they give so readily is worth the knowledge that I will most likely outlive them.

    Happy Holidays, SkyDancers – thanks for a great blog with even greater writers!

  10. foxyladi14 says:

    Excellent round-up, Wonk. Thank you. 🙂

  11. Dakota says:

    If you haven’t seen the blue bra video, of police in Egypt beating a woman with truncheons (she survived), you should, even though it is difficult to watch. Here is the link, blocked here in KSA, but I was able to watch it on Facebook via Sasha Show:

    “The story behind this photo, of a modest young woman stripped down and beaten like an animal, is remarkable precisely because it is ordinary.”

    The still photo is here:

  12. Dakota says:


    Occupy the court system.

    “Most major Occupy encampments have been dispersed, but they live on in a flurry of lawsuits in which protesters are asserting their constitutional rights to free speech and assembly and challenging authorities’ mass arrests and use of force to break up tent cities.”

  13. So sorry for your loss. It’s never easy to lose a member of the family, and it’s especially sad when Christmas rolls around. Having been involved in rescue, I took in many animals in a short period of time. I’ve lost 6 cats and a dog this year. It’s been horrible.

    Getting another animal is not about replacing the one who was lost. I agree with Beata that allowing another in your life helps heal the pain. And, you are saving a life since most shelters are kill shelters.

    Many Audubon chapters have a rehab facility for injured birds. You might want to check to see if there is one in your area. Volunteers are always welcome.

    And I want to echo all the others and thank all of the contributors to this blog – it’s simply the best. I share the posts often on my Facebook page.

  14. ralphb says:

    Paul Krugman: Don’t Forget Wingnut Welfare

    Steve Benen asks why Congressional Republicans were willing to pursue what looked like a “suicidal” political strategy in the payroll tax fight. But he somehow fails to mention an important factor: reliable conservatives are assured of a safe landing even if they are defeated.

  15. dakinikat says:

    Happy birthday to all those gods born of a virgin on December 25th: Jesus, Dionysus, Horus, Attis, Mithras, etc.

  16. The Rock says:

    “15 million cracks in the glass ceiling.”

    It was 18 million. And increasing…….


    Hillary 2012

    Nice post, Wonk! 😉 Merry Christmas all!!!!!!!