Lazy Caturday Reads With Surrealist Cats

Cat’s Paradise, by Remedios Varo

Good Afternoon!!

There’s been another earthquake in Southern California and this one was bigger than the last one.

The LA Times: 7.1 earthquake causes damage; more significant temblors likely.

A magnitude 7.1 earthquake struck Southern California on Friday night, the second major temblor in less than two days and one that rocked buildings across Southern California, adding more jitters to an already nervous region.

The quake was centered near Ridgecrest, the location of the July Fourth 6.4 magnitude temblor that was the largest in nearly 20 years. It was followed by an aftershock first reported as 5.5 in magnitude. Scientists said the fault causing the quakes appears to be growing.

Friday night’s quake caused some fires and other damage in and around Ridgecrest and Trona, two Mojave Desert towns shaken by both quakes, said Mark Ghilarducci, director of the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services. The quake was felt as far away as Phoenix, Las Vegas, Baja California and Reno, according to crowd-sourced data logged into the U.S. Geological Survey’s Did You Feel It? website.

Cat and Violin, Remedios Varo

About 3,000 residents in Ridgecrest and the surrounding areas are without power after the earthquake, according to Southern California Edison. In Los Angeles, there were no immediate reports of major damage to buildings and infrastructure, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department.

Read much more at the link.

According to CNN, people were sleeping outside because they were afraid of staying in the houses. This quake lasted longer than the previous one.

Bakersfield resident Giovanna Gomez was at home with her family when their house swayed and the water in her pool overflowed. They ran outside.

“It was about a minute long,” she said. “Far larger than the one that (happened) yesterday. It was a smooth roll going back and forth.”

Bakersfield is in Kern County about 110 miles from Ridgecrest. Donald Castle, who lives in Porterville west of Ridgecrest, said his house shook for nearly 25 seconds.
“It was more of a shake than what we had on the Fourth. It lasted longer and was more rolling,” he said.

Read more at CNN.

More from the LA Times: 11% chance of another huge earthquake in Southern California, scientists say.

The odds that Southern California will experience another earthquake of magnitude 7 or greater in the next week are now nearly 11%, according to preliminary estimates from seismologists.

Remedios Varo, Simpatía. La Rabia del gato (The Madness of the Cat), 1955

And the chances that a quake will surpass the 7.1 temblor that struck near Ridgecrest on Friday night are roughly 8% to 9%, said Caltech seismologist Lucy Jones.

“There’s about a 1 in 10 chance that we could have another 7 in this sequence,” she said.

More likely is that the Owens Valley will experience another temblor of magnitude 6 or greater. The odds of that are slightly greater than 50-50, Jones said. And more quakes of magnitude 5 or greater are a near certainty.

Scientists also say that earthquakes do not “relieve pent-up seismic stress.” These quakes won’t prevent “The Big One.”

It’s wishful thinking to imagine that, as a rule, earthquakes “relieve” seismic stress, said seismologist Lucy Jones.

In fact, generally speaking, earthquakes actually increase the risk of future quakes.

The reality is coming into focus as Southern California experienced its largest earthquake in nearly two decades, ending a quiet period in the state’s seismic history.

Click the link to read more about the science of earthquakes.


The Fern Cat by Remedios Varo


If you’re wondering why I’m spending so much time on the California quakes, it’s because there’s not much news breaking today–a rarity since Trump was installed in the White House by Russia. But here are some interesting reactions to Trump’s 4th of July speech to check out.

A very good piece by Never Trumper Tom Nichols at The New York Daily News: Trump’s sad, strange, somewhat Soviet Fourth of July spectacle.

Let’s get an obvious point about President Trump’s Independence Day speech out of the way right at the top. It was a bad speech.

It wasn’t bad in the way most of Donald Trump’s speeches are bad, in that it was not overtly objectionable. It was relatively free of the populist claptrap and barely disguised racism that characterizes so many of the president’s rally addresses. In some ways, it was even anodyne, and certainly not even in the same league as his hideous “American carnage” inaugural address.

Instead, it was just a poorly written speech: a long, cliché-plagued, rambling trip through American history that tried to name-check battles and famous people as applause lines. Imagine “We Didn’t Start the Fire” if Billy Joel had been born in 1776 and his producers told him to take as much time as he needed to finish the song.

The Mediterranean Cat, Remedios Varo, 1949

On that level, the “Salute to America” was a flop. Perhaps this was unavoidable, since it was never meant to salute America, but rather to provide the military display Trump has wanted for two years. Like any enforced celebration, it was flat and labored. There were no memorable phrases, no vivid images and no bold proposals — unless you count a promise to NASA stalwart Gene Kranz to plant a U.S. flag on Mars one day. It would have been a challenging speech to deliver even for a better speaker, and Trump, who hates reading from prepared remarks, plodded through it with a strangely detached presence and a certain amount of mushy enunciation, including a weird blip where he referred to the glorious military capture of some airports in colonial America.

On another level, however, the speech was indeed offensive. Not only did it attempt to militarize our most sacred national holiday, but Trump tried to bathe himself in borrowed legitimacy from a military that was forced to march, sing and fly for him.

Please go read the rest.

From another Never Trumper and former speech writer David Frum at The Atlantic: Trump’s Recessional.

Trump’s speech was written by people who did not know what they wanted to say. It was a litany of old glories, a shout-out to heroes carefully balanced by race and sex, but with no conscious theme or message. It narrated old triumphs in war and commerce, but without apparent purpose or direction. First this, then that, now a third thing.

The Great Cat, Remedios Varo, 1943

Trump wanted pictures and video of his big day: Trump standing in the place where Martin Luther King Jr. once stood, the podium swathed in flags and bunting, bordered by tanks, adoring audience in front, screeching fighter jets overhead … Strong! Proud! The speech existed only to provide a reason why he needed to stand in one place long enough for five waves of warplanes to cross the sky.

As Trump retold the story of the Pacific War, he said this: “Nobody could beat us. Nobody could come close.” When he paid tribute to the Air Force, he said this: “As President Roosevelt said, the Nazis built a fortress around Europe, ‘but forgot to put a roof on it.’ So we crushed them all from the air.” He added: “No enemy has attacked our people without being met by a roar of thunder, and the awesome might of those who bid farewell to Earth, and soar into the wild blue yonder.” Bringing the story to more recent times: “The Army brought America’s righteous fury down to al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and cleared the bloodthirsty killers from their caves.”

Were these wars right or just? Why were they fought? What were their outcomes? Except for the mentions of “freedoms” sprinkled randomly through the text, those questions went unconsidered. Instead, Trump would periodically ad-lib “What a great country!” after this or that mention of power and violence. America is great because it crushes all before it. Altering for circumstances, it was a speech that could have been given by Kaiser Wilhelm or Napoleon or Julius Caesar or the Assyrian Emperor Sennacherib. A great country is one that is feared by its enemies, that can inflict more devastating destruction than any other.

Masha Gessen at The New Yorker: Donald Trump’s “Inoffensive” War on Reality.

Donald Trump’s Fourth of July address was most remarkable for the things it did not contain. Immediately afterward, commentators noted that Trump didn’t use the opportunity to attack the Democratic Party, to issue explicit campaign slogans, or, it would appear, make any impromptu additions (with the possible exception of the claim that American troops commandeered enemy airports during the Revolutionary War). The President was so disciplined on the occasion of the republic’s two hundred and forty-third birthday that Vox called his speech “inoffensive.” Slate gave the speech credit for being “not a complete authoritarian nightmare.” The Times noted that Trump called for unity, in a gesture uncharacteristic of his “divisive presidency.” The word “tame” popped up in different outlets, including Talking Points Memo, which concluded that, thanks to the President not going off script, “the whole thing was pretty standard.”

Cat’s Paradise detail, Remedios Varo

Campaign slogans and glaring Trumpisms were not the only things absent from the speech. Immigrants were missing. Trump’s most recent predecessors presided over Fourth of July naturalization ceremonies. A rhetorical link between the holiday and immigration has long seemed unbreakable. During his last Independence Day as President, Bill Clinton chose to speak in New York Harbor, against the backdrop of Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. “Perhaps more than any other nation in all history, we have drawn our strength and spirit from people from other lands,” he said. “On this Fourth of July, standing in the shadow of Lady Liberty, we must resolve never to close the golden door behind us, and always not only to welcome people to our borders, but to welcome people into our hearts.” In a much-criticized series of Independence Day events in 1986, President Reagan lit the torch of the Statue of Liberty and noted the swearing in of twenty-seven thousand new citizens across the country. He also referred to the “immigrant story” of his then new Supreme Court nominee, Antonin Scalia.

That immigrant story is, of course, the story the Trump Administration has demonstratively abandoned. Last year, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services dropped the phrase “nation of immigrants” from its mission statement. That phrase, like most foundational myths and more than some, obscures much of the country’s history: the first immigrants would more accurately be described as settler colonialists, who brought Africans here as slaves. But this was not why the Trump Administration deleted the phrase. Trump has retired the myth of America as a nation of immigrants because he staked his election campaign and his legitimacy as president on the demonization of immigrants—and on mobilizing Americans for a war against immigrants.

A few more suggested reads, links only:

Claudia Castro Luna at The Seattle Times: Immigrant children will forever live with trauma, as I have.

Rebecca Traister at The Cut: Politics Is Changing; Why Aren’t the Pundits Who Cover It? The Donny Deutsch problem in media.

The New York Times: The Dominance of the White Male Critic.

Yascha Monk at The Atlantic: The More You Watch, the More You Vote Populist.\\


The images in this post are paintings by Spanish surrealist painter Remedios Varo. You can read about her and see more of her art at Wikiart.

Remedios Varo and her cat


What stories are you following today?

29 Comments on “Lazy Caturday Reads With Surrealist Cats”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    I had some other Remedios Varo paintings with cats to share, but they didn’t show up well in the post.

  2. bostonboomer says:

    Something else I liked by David Frum.

  3. bostonboomer says:

    This is scary.

  4. NW Luna says:

    The media is at it again.

    Kamala Harris tries to turbocharge her campaign but faces lingering questions

    Though later on in the story there’s this: “When reporters asked in Iowa whether she was worried about a reputation for backtracking, Harris said that she had been “consistent” on the issues. But most voters who attended Harris’s events did not raise those concerns.”

    • bostonboomer says:

      Sigh . . .

    • quixote says:

      God, I am so sick of these “pundits.” Brilliant debate performance. In at least one Iowa poll, pushed Harris right past Joe “The Fossil” Biden into first place.

      But we couldn’t possibly say anything admiring about a woman. let’s put cement shoes on her and make it sound like she’s flailing. Did y’all see Rebecca Traister’s excellent piece of these bloviators?

      And let’s be clear. It is the femaleness, not the blackness that’s behind the bad attitude. They didn’t do this to Obama.

      • Enheduanna says:

        Deutsch makes my skin crawl. He just looks like a smarmy guy you can’t trust.

        Traister nails it here I think:

        “…perhaps the prescription being offered by these men — which if I’m piecing it all together correctly would be a moderate show of masculine prowess and deficit-wary conservatism that makes white people feel good about themselves — might be the very thing that has kept many voters from investing energetically in the Democratic Party until now.”

        The 2018 midterms brought out droves of young people and nominating Sleepy Joe could be The Very Thing that quashes their enthusiasm.

      • NW Luna says:

        the Democratic candidates resemble “a gaggle of graduate students.”

        The horror! Candidates who can actually think and speak in words of more than one syllable!

  5. quixote says:

    More word nitpicking. Gaaa. Stop, you people. Just stop. Use a dictionary.

    This from one of the quotes: “Not only did it attempt to militarize our most sacred national holiday….”

    No. No it is not “sacred.” That was pretty much the whole point of the country to begin with, separation of religion and state. You mean meaningful. That’s different.

    (Like all the clothheads using “tragic” to mean “very sad.” No. Tragic means your refusal to change caused your own destruction, like we’re doing with the climate crisis. It doesn’t mean “bad accident” or “revolting crime.”)

    /*runs off quietly shouting Gaaaaaaa*/

  6. NW Luna says:

    • Enheduanna says:

      So what’s up with the Midwest being under water and the Florida panhandle getting wiped off the map last year?

      At least these earthquakes are centered relatively far from populous areas.

      Really these people don’t deserve the time of day.

    • quixote says:

      Reminds me of the mournful doctor in Baghdad, around 2005 or so, when the virginity testing facility closed in his hospital. That was why Iraq was having so many troubles, he was convinced.

  7. palhart says:

    Yes, indeed, this is a great country, according to Trump, because his presidency has brought in millions for him personally. He can romp around with autocrats and fill air space with his meaningless foreign trips. It’s too much fun being on tv all the time, lying and not upsetting his supporters, even the evangelicals. And so on. (I’m terribly bored by him.)

  8. dakinikat says:

  9. NW Luna says:

  10. bostonboomer says: