Saturday Surprise — Uniquely Interesting Critters!

I thought we could all use a short break from the world of news & politics this morning, so I popped over to Bored Panda to see if I could find us some cute critter fun, and LO & BEHOLD!  I found some!!!  Just a few cute critters with some unique traits and habits to, hopefully, bring a smile to your face before you start out on your weekend chores that might include a bit of Christmas shopping this weekend.

Some of these are animals you’re already familiar with, but have unique features or traits you may not have known about, while others are likely new to you!

Here’s Twinzy, A Half-Sider Budgie, Half-Siders Are Budgies With A Condition Called “Chimerism” Which, In Genetics, Means That It’s The Result Of Non-Identical Twins Fusing Together Early In Their Development To Become One!

Although It Takes Newborn Elephants Only A Few Hours To Master Standing And Walking, They Need 1 Year To Figure Out How To Use Their Trunks To Drink Water

The Resplendent Quetzal Is A Sacred Symbol In Mesoamerica And Guatemala’s National Bird, Pictured On The Country’s Flag. They Favor Eating Fruit In The Avocado Family, Eating Them Whole Before Regurgitating The Pits. Essentially Making Them The Avocado “Gardeners” Of Their Forest Habitats

The Maned Wolf Is The One Of Largest Canid In South America. This Species Is The Only Member Of Its Genus. Although Technically, It Is Not A Fox Or A Wolf. Its Long Legs Are Likely An Adaptation To The Tall Grasslands Of Its Native Habitat

The Wild Iberian Lynx Population Has Increased Tenfold In The Last Two Decades, From 94 Individuals In 2002 To 1,111 Lynxes In 2021, A True Success Story Owing To Conservation Efforts And Public Awareness. Listed As “Endangered”, The Lynx Lives In Fragmented Wilderness Areas In Spain And Portugal

The Olinguito (Bassaricyon Neblina) Made Global Headlines When Scientists Announced Its Discovery In 2013, A Notable Event As This Was The First Carnivore Described In The Western Hemisphere Since The 1970s. It Is Native To The Forests Of Colombia And Ecuador. This Is A Photo Of A Baby Olinguito

The Indian Giant Squirrel Can Grow To A Full Length Of Over A Metre

Blue-Footed Boobies Have Bright Blue Feet Due To Their Diet, And The Level Of Brightness Shows How Healthy The Bird Is To Their Mate!

Bat-Eared Foxes Sleep Mostly During The Day In Their Burrows And Emerge At Dusk To Feed Mainly On Termites And Other Insects. As You Can Guess, They Have An Incredible Sense Of Hearing

Gray Wolves Eating Blueberries; Wolves Actually Covet Berries And Other Fruits, During Their Growing Seasons Berries Can Make Up 80% Of Wolf Packs’ Diet

Hey, maybe that explains why I love berries — blueberries, raspberries, blackberries — I always knew the wolf was my spirit animal!!!

The Appaloosa Is An American Horse Breed Known For Its Distinctive And Colorful Leopard Complex-Spotted Coat. Each Horse’s Color Pattern Is Genetically The Result Of Various Overlay Patterns On One Of Several Recognized Base Coat Colors. This Particular Appaloosa Is Sporting A Peacock-Leopard Coat

This Is A Baby Giraffe, Giraffes Are The Tallest Mammals On The Planet. Baby Giraffes Usually Will Be Able To Stand And Walk Within 5 Hours Of Being Born. They Stand Most Of Their Life And Need Very Little Sleep. Plus They Have The Most Adorable Babies

The Tufted Coquette Is A Hummingbird That Breeds In Eastern Venezuela, Trinidad, Guiana, And Northern Brazil. The Male, Pictured Here, Has A Rufous Head Crest And A Coppery Green Back With A Whitish Rump Band That Is Prominent In Flight. Tufted Coquettes Are Known For Being Quite Approachable

The Male Of The Purple-Gold Jumping Spider (Irura Bidenticulata) Is Recognized By Its Striking, Shiny Magenta-Gold Patterned Body. It Was Discovered In 2011 In Southeast Asia. The Purple-Gold Jumping Spider Typically Measures 5–6 Mm. It Is Not Considered Harmful To Humans

Costasiella Kuroshimae (Leaf Sheep) Are Capable Of A Chemical Process Called Kleptoplasty, In Which They Retain The Chloroplasts From The Algae They Feed On. Absorbing The Chloroplasts From Algae Then Enables Them To Indirectly Perform Photosynthesis

Well, that’s all I’ve got for today, folks.  Have a wonderful weekend!

Conservative Millionaire CEOs Are Becoming Their Own Stereotype of the Welfare Queen

In case you were wondering why far too many of our members of Congress do NOT represent us, the answer lies here in this well-spoken post by our friend Gronda. It all boils down to this: The rich get richer, while the poor get poorer. Democracy in action? I think not.

Gronda Morin

Disclaimer: I’m pro-business but I truly do believe in free enterprise, competition in the marketplace where companies win by innovating, creating new widgets, smart cost cutting while paying their employees a living wage and treating them and their consumers with respect.

In short, anyone like Elon Musk buying a company at an inflated price where bills aren’t paid, employees who’ve yet to be fired are treated with disrespect, and management doesn’t deliver on a quality product, shouldn’t be allowed to stay in business. It’s the height of hubris for CEOs to blame workers who don’t want to live 24/7 in the workplace for their owners’ stupidity. This is the definition of lazy management and the antithesis of businessmen taking personal responsibility for their own lack of due diligence and failures. These greedy short-sighted CEOs have become their own stereotype of the “welfare queen.”

These are the same guys who get…

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My Thoughts On Thanksgiving This Year

Today is Thanksgiving Day in the U.S.  The origins of this day mean nothing to me, for they are based on lies, on the whitewashing of the factual history of the nation.  However, I still treasure the day for other reasons.  It is a time to stop for a minute, to remember the things that most of us have to be thankful for, starting with family & friends.  But this year feels different to me.  I am sad.  I feel guilty that I do have so much to be thankful for.  I have my family, small though it is, and wonderful friends, all of you included.  I have electricity and can keep my house reasonably warm or cool, can keep my food cold in the fridge and then cook it in the oven.  I have hot and cold running water and plenty of it.  I have a car that runs.  We have enough money to pay our bills and still have a bit left over at the end of the month.  So yes, I am thankful, but I still feel guilty when I think of all the people, both here and elsewhere, who have none of those things.

In Ukraine, winter is setting in and many residents have no electricity, no water.  Some have lost their homes to Russian bombs.  Some have lost their spouses, their children and grandchildren. Can you imagine living under those conditions?  And apart from donating a few dollars here and there, there is little to nothing that most of us can do to help.

Even here in the U.S., often referred to as a wealthy nation, more than a half-million people are living on the streets or in homeless shelters.  37.9 million people in this country are living in poverty … that’s 11.6% of the population!  6.6 million people worldwide have died of Covid since March 2020.  Imagine how many grieving friends and family members they have left behind.

Then there is the rise in all forms of bigotry … LGBTQ people being shoved back into the proverbial closet, Black people being murdered simply because of the colour of their skin, women being stripped of their rights, and religious extremism threatening to invade the very foundation of human rights.

So yes, I feel guilty.  I am no better than a homeless person, no better than a person in Ukraine, so why should I be enjoying a veritable feast with my family and good friends, while others suffer so much?  It isn’t a perfect world, but frankly … the world could be a whole lot better if governments worked together to solve problems instead of creating them, if those who can afford to shared their wealth with others less fortunate, and if everyone set aside petty differences to work for the collective good.

That said … it is not my intent to be dreary and depressing.  We will be celebrating Thanksgiving with our dear friends, the al-Dabbagh family.  They came to this country as refugees from Iraq about 10 years ago, and almost immediately we became close friends.  They are warm and loving people and we do so enjoy sharing cultures, food, and much joy with them.  They have a new baby, Naya, this year who is just 3 months old, so I’ll get to spend time spoiling her!  I don’t suggest that we all shouldn’t have a great holiday, but I just wanted to share with you some of my own thoughts, my feelings that despite our troubles, we all have so much to be thankful for.

And on that note, I wish all my friends in the U.S. a very happy holiday with friends & family (and turkey), and to the rest, I just wish you a happy day.  I will be busy cooking for our two families (9 people in total), so I won’t likely have an afternoon post nor be answering comments today, but I will try to get caught up on Friday.  Love ‘n hugs to you all!

Too little hype, several climate change initiatives passed in last week’s elections

There is no single issue that is more important to the survival of life on earth than the environment and climate change. None. Yet, I think most of us were unaware of the environment-related issues that were on the ballot on November 8th, most of which passed muster with the voters. Our friend Keith summarizes …

musingsofanoldfart

In an article by Frida Garza of The Guardian called “Voters pass historic climate initiatives in ‘silent surprise’ of US midterms,” some very good news occurred while we weren’t paying too much attention.

The full article can be linked to below, but here are a few paragraphs that summarize the story:

“While the economy and abortion rights drove momentum behind the midterm election this year, voters in cities and states across the US also turned out to pass a number of climate ballot initiatives .

Among the measures passed were ahistoric multibillion-dollar investmentinto environmental improvement projects in New York state, including up to $1.5bn in funding for climate change mitigation. This election also saw a $50m green bond act pass in Rhode Island, and in Colorado, the city of Boulder approved a climate tax as well as a ballot measure that will allow the city to borrow against…

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“The High Cost of Underestimating Joe Biden”

President Joe Biden is the subject of criticism from within and without his party. He’s called boring, too old, incompetent. But the reality is that he is working behind the scenes and getting things done. Our friend Annie shares with us today the words of David Rothkopf who fully understands the greatness that is the Biden presidency and the accomplishments he’s made, but received very little credit for. Thank you, Annie! Wonderful piece!

annieasksyou...

Constitution

By David Rothkopf

November 13, 2022

In 2020,@JoeBidenwas second guessed by many (me included). He wasn’t exciting. Too old school. Talked about healing. Talked about a clear agenda when the other side had little to offer but hate and good TV ratings. And he won decisively despite the skepticism of the “smart money.”

For two years, he was derided for reaching out to the other side, for his compromises with the left or with the centrists in his own party, for not be exciting enough. He ignored the Beltway buzz. He did the dullest thing imaginable: he governed.

The American Rescue Plan lifted millions out of poverty and helped stimulate a job boom that now has produced 10 million jobs, a record, more than the last three GOP administrations added up. Record number of quality judges were appointed. Executive orders undid Trump’s damage.

He made the bold decision…

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This, That, and ‘TOONS!

Until the past week, I was generally able to focus on a single issue or topic for an entire post, but my mind seems to be made of rubber these days and just bounces all over the place, hence I have done a number of posts with a variety of ‘mini-thoughts’.  This afternoon’s post is yet another such …


Apparently, some people wish to live in a nation where all people are controlled by a single religious belief set.  To those people I say, “Then please, feel free to relocate to Iran.  I would caution you, though, if you are a woman, you will be controlled, manipulated, and killed if you break the religious laws. If you are a gay person, you will be killed if it is discovered, no questions asked.”  Meanwhile, here in the United States, women are, at least in theory, given equal rights, although only for the past 100 years or so.  We now have the right to divorce our spouse, to own property in {gasp} our own name, receive equal pay for equal work, and even to … VOTE!  Okay, so we’re still working on that ‘bodily autonomy’ thing, but we’ll get there, because it’s important enough for us to fight tooth and nail for.  That’s not quite how it works over in Iran, but hey … if people want religious laws to dominate the people, they’ll just have to … get over the level of bigotry that is the foundation of such a society.  Meanwhile, here in the U.S. the majority of us fully support women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, and realize it is nobody’s business whether a woman chooses to have children or who a person chooses to love.

I respect every person’s right to believe as they wish, to adhere to the religion of their choice or no religion, if that is their choice.  But what I cannot tolerate is people trying to force everyone into their own narrow-minded box.  One of the things that the United States is noted for is freedom of religion, freedom to believe as you choose.  You have the right to attend the church, mosque or synagogue of your choice and participate in the various rites & rituals of your religion. BUT … when politicians pander to a religious group that wants to impose their will on the entirety of the nation, they are attempting to rob us of one of our most fundamental constitutional freedoms.  Be a Christian, a Muslim, a Jew or a Jain, but don’t tell me that I have to believe as you do.  Freedom OF religion must also include freedom FROM religion as an option.  The United States is not and should not become a ‘Christian nation’ but is founded on the basis of welcoming people of ALL beliefs.


A reader recently commented the following in regard to my concern for the environment:

“Time for the USA to get the message. As far as destruction of the enviro, humans cause somewhere i between 0.00020% and o.00034% of global warming. We’ve seen far bigger periods of gobal warming and ice ages throughout recorded history. Guess why the ice desert Greenland is called Greenland. It was fuxn green when the first settlers arrived there. In late Roman times they made wine in England! And we had periods of unusual warm weather but also mini ice ages and freak storms not too far in the past. Vineta (Atlantis) happened in medieval times, Tenerife will probably split in two during our lifetimes. With or without our ‘help’.”

How does one even converse with someone who is so convinced their ignorant views are correct and who looks down their nose at those of us who believe the science that tells us human activities, particularly continually increasing emissions of CO2 are creating an environment that will no longer be able to sustain human … or most other … life within a relatively few short years?  I have come to the point that I no longer bother to respond to such, for there is no give-and-take, no meaningful dialog, just arrogance and an unwillingness to consider facts.


Lindsey Graham said that if Catherine Cortez Masto beats Adam Laxalt in the race for the senate seat from Nevada, then it was fraud.  So, let me get this straight:  If the candidate Lindsey likes loses, it was fraud, but if his candidate wins, it was a fair and honest election.  Sounds to me like a rather juvenile viewpoint, rather like the ten-year-old child turning over the checkerboard and running in tears to her room and slamming the door because her dad won the game.  “No fair!  You cheated!”  But then, I guess the ten-year-old mentality is in keeping with the Republican modus operandi of late, ever since they decided to make a ‘man’ with a funny creature atop his head, a pocky complexion, a contorted mouth, and lies flowing from his mouth their “Supreme Leader”.  As of 8:49 p.m. last night, Cortez Masto is the projected winner of the race for the senate seat from Nevada, giving the Democrats a majority in the U.S. Senate.  I wonder what ol’ Lindsey will have to say this morning?  Will he have the decency to keep his mouth shut, or will he whine and demand that the election be overturned?


My jaw dropped last night when I logged onto Twitter and found that an off-the-cuff remark I had left on someone’s tweet had gained 1,281 likes, 92 retweets, and 51 comments!!!  I’M A TWITTER CELEBRITY!!!  (just kidding)  I have never had more than 30 or so likes on any tweet or tweet comment I’ve made.  Never!  This is the tweet and my response that gained so much notoriety …


And I conclude with a few political ‘toons I’ve run across over the past few days …

Lots O’ Funny Critters!

I have been at a bit of a loss for motivation to do Saturday Surprise posts of late, so I haven’t.  But last week, this years Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards finalists were announced, and that’s always fun stuff!

The annual Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards are fun, sure, but there is a deeper purpose behind the project.  The project began when co-founder Paul Joynson-Hicks, a professional wildlife photographer who was living and working in East Africa at the time, was going through some of the photos he had taken and found himself laughing at a few of them.  At that point, he realized that the humour of these photographs was both entertaining and a means to engage people with the threats facing these same animals.  Says Mr. Joynson-Hicks …

“Our world is extraordinarily beautiful and interconnected, yet the human race is doing its best to over-exploit and damage it. Issues of wildlife conservation and sustainability are gaining momentum globally, yet the messages and images tend to be negative, depressing and enervating.”

If you have time, check out their website … you’ll find not only lots of fun pictures from the current competition, but from years past as well, and a number of ideas for things you can do to help protect and preserve wildlife!  And now, for the fun pictures!

“Talk To The Fin!” By Jennifer Hadley — This was shot on the Falkland Islands. These two gentoo penguins were hanging out on the beach when one shook himself off and gave his mate the snub.

“Tight Fit!” By Mark Schocken — I was going to see and photograph this eastern screech owl nest in a local park in Florida. One morning, a few days before the two owlets fledged, one owlet tried to squeeze into the nest hole with Mom, maybe to see the outside world for the first time. It was hilarious and I was glad I was there that morning to photograph it. The moment lasted only a few seconds as Mom didn’t seem very happy with the arrangement. Check out the expression on her face.

“The Wink” By Kevin Lohman — An American Red Fox casually walked up to the edge of the woods and sat down, then turned around and gave a wink. Moments later, this sly fox disappeared into the trees.

“Mum Life” By Sophie Hart — A baby long-tailed macaque clings on to its weary mother.

“Pegasus, The Flying Horse” By Jagdeep Rajput — Actually this is Indian Saras Crane attacking a Bluebull from behind, the bull happened to venture close to Saras’s nest, where in, it had laid a single egg. The Saras Crane, which is tallest flying bird in the world, opened it’s huge wings and attacked the bull from behind, driving the bull away from the nest.

“Curtain Call II” By Dave Shaffer — This little guy had a blast playing with a stick . I also had a very good time watching him .

“Fight Back” By John Chaney — This salmon decides to punch the bear in the face rather than be lunch.

“Not So Cat-Like Reflexes” By Jennifer Hadley — This 3 month old cub and his sibling were in a tree. The other lionesses were in other trees and on the ground. He wanted to get down and walked all over the branches looking for the right spot and finally just went for it. It was probably his first time in a tree and his descent didn’t go so well. He was just fine though after landing on the ground. He got up and ran off with some other cubs.

“Jumping Jack” By Alex Pansier — A red squirrel jumps during a rainstorm, so you can see the drops flying around.

“Maniacs” By Saverio Gatto — Lappet-faced Vultures in display.

“What Shall I Write Next” By Torie Hilley — Most bear cubs do cub-like things. Like, follow mom around, nurse, and be generally cute. But this cub took it to another level of cuteness. She found an eagle feather and started to play with it for a good 10 minutes! As she danced and rolled with the feather, she held it in her mouth for a moment – as if she was thinking of what to write next! Cuteness overload!

“Say Cheeeese” By Arturo Telle Thiemann — A couple of triggerfish looking into the camera, captured at the Azores.Even they may look funny, these fish can be quite aggressive. In this case they didn’t attempt to bite me, but the domeport of my camera housing ended up with some scratches… life is hard… at least it wasn’t me who was hurt.

“Rushing Little Owl Fledgeling” By Shuli Greenstein — I was told that I can find a lot of little owls in the Judean Lowlands in Israel. So, I went on a journey early in the morning and really, I found a lot of little owls standing on the ground, on stones, near the nest and on tree branches. Suddenly, my eyes were caught by two fledgelings that were playing with each other on the ground. One of them crossed my field of vision. I started taking pictures in sequence and this is what came out…

“It’s All Kicking Off!” By Michael Eastwell — Apart from its beauty, Cape Hillsborough is renowned for its resident kangaroos and wallabies. I visited the area for three consecutive sunrises, but it was on my final morning that I captured this beautiful spectacle, two wallabies playing / fighting on the beach as the sun burst through the surrounding clouds.

“I’m Gonna Strangle You!” By Emmanuel Do Linh San — I was following a group of meerkats on foot in the Kalahari Trails Game Reserve, in South Africa. Most individuals, including adults, were in a playful mood. It gave me a unique opportunity to capture very interesting and dynamic interactions between some members of the group. In the photo that I have selected, there is no aggression between individuals, but rather an interaction that reminds us of humans when one of your friends jokes about you and you pretend to strangle them and, in response, they open their mouth like a simpleton.

“Uncomfortable Pillow” By Andrew Peacock — These elephant seal weaners were practising their jousting skills for many minutes before they collapsed in exhaustion. One looks to be resting far more comfortably than the other!

“Monkey Wellness Centre” By Federica Vinci — Walking near a cambodian temple where groups of wild monkeys lived, I came across this scene: a wild monkey in total relax, while its friend was taking care of it.

“Misleading African Viewpoints 2” By Jean Jacques Alcalay — Hippo yawning next to a heron standing on the back of another hippo.

“Stop And Stare” By Andy Evans — After hearing Borneo’s borders would reopen again in April 2022 I couldn’t wait to visit and photograph some of the weird and wonderful wildlife on the island. After 2 years with no tourists it seemed like the wildlife was just as shocked to see me as I was to see them. This young proboscis monkey watched in amazement as I cruised by on the kinabatangan river.

Half a dozen plus heroes to think about today – an updated post of a few years ago

Time to look away from elections for a few minutes and take a look at some real-life heroes that our friend Keith is shining a light on today. Thank you, Keith, for such an inspiring post, for showing us the courage of those who have truly earned the title ‘hero’.

musingsofanoldfart

My wife and I watched the movie “Harriet” on Friday about the American hero Harriet Tubman. She helped over 300 slaves find their way to freedom. Her courage, tenacity, faith and smarts are highly commendable. The movie is excellent and quite moving.

It got me thiking about a few other heroes. Let me mention three more historical heroes who need more notoriety, before I close with two current ones who deserve the shout out.

I have written before about Alan Turing, the father of modern day computing. He led a team that cracked the Nazi Enigma code used in secret transmissions. Allied Commander General Dwight Eisenhower said Turing and his team helped shorten the war by two years and save 750,000 lives. Sadly, Turing had to hide the fact he was gay and was later imprisoned after his sexual preferences were discovered. What if they had discovered he was gay…

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Everything Is Not Alright

I was determined to either find another topic than Tuesday’s elections here in the U.S., else not write a post for this morning.  I’m sure you’re all tired of hearing about the elections, especially those of you who live outside the U.S. as nearly half of my readers do, and frankly I’m tired of talking/writing about them.  So, I was going to write about … oh, maybe the COP27 taking place this week, or the ignominious Kanye West, or … something!  But then … as I was attempting to reduce the clutter in my email inbox, I came across a piece by Thomas Friedman that … well, it just begs to be shared.  And so, once again, I’d like to talk about this election … and things to come.  Some of what Mr. Friedman says is frightening, much of it is not what we hoped to hear, but I believe he is right and that his words carry a great deal of wisdom for what happens in the future, not only here in the U.S., but elsewhere.

Thomas Friedman knows of what he speaks.  A three-time Pulitzer Prize winner and author of seven books ranging from topics such as foreign affairs, global trade, the Middle East, globalization, and environmental issues, he is currently a weekly columnist for the New York Times.


America Dodged an Arrow

By Thomas Friedman

09 November 2022

You can hold off moving to Canada. You can forgo the call to the New Zealand Embassy on how to become a citizen there. Tuesday’s election really was the most important test since the Civil War of whether the engine of our constitutional system — our ability to peacefully and legitimately transfer power — remains intact. And it looks to have come through — a little dinged up, but OK.

I am still not even close to ready to sound the all-clear, to declare that running on a platform of election denialism will never tempt another American politician. But given the unprecedented degree to which election denialism was elevated in this midterm and the way several big-name Trump-imitating knuckleheads who made denialism central to their campaigns got their clocks cleaned —- we may have just dodged one of the biggest arrows ever aimed at the heart of our democracy.

To be sure, another arrow could target us at any moment, but the whole U.S. electoral system — in red states and blue — seemed to perform admirably, almost shrugging off the last two years of controversy, diminishing it to what it always was: the shameful fabrication of one man and his most shameless sycophants and imitators. Given the threat posed by Trump denialists to the acceptance and legitimacy of our elections, that is a big deal (and hopefully it will last through the Arizona count).

It could not come at a better time as the leaders of both Russia and China have manipulated their systems to entrench themselves in power beyond their previously established terms of office.

One of their arguments to their own people in doing so was to point to things like the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection in America and the seeming chaos of our elections to tell their citizens: “That’s what democracy looks like. Is that what you want here?”

Indeed, in May, during his commencement address to the U.S. Naval Academy’s graduating class, President Biden recalled when President Xi Jinping of China congratulated him in 2020 on his election: “He said democracies cannot be sustained in the 21st century; autocracies will run the world. Why? Things are changing so rapidly. Democracies require consensus, and it takes time, and you don’t have the time.”

For that reason, both Xi and Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin — and the supreme leader in Iran now facing an uprising led by Iranian women — lost on Tuesday night, too. Because the more wild and unstable our politics, the less able we become to peacefully transfer power, the easier it is for them to justify never doing so.

But while election denialism took a thumping this week as a winning message, none of the things that are still eating away at the foundations of American democracy — and preventing us from actually getting big hard things done — have gone away.

I am talking about the way in which our primary system, gerrymandering and social networks have coalesced to steadily poison our national dialogue, steadily polarize our society into political tribes and steadily erode the twin pillars of our democracy: truth and trust.

Without being able to agree on what is true, we don’t know which way to go. And without being able to trust one another, we can’t head there together. And everything big and hard needs to be done together.

So, our enemies would be wise not to leave us for dead, but we would be even wiser not to conclude that, because we avoided the worst, we’ve locked in the best going forward.

Everything is not all right.

We are as divided coming out of this election as we were going into it. But to the extent that the red wave did not manifest itself — particularly in swing states like Pennsylvania, where John Fetterman won a Senate seat over the Trump-endorsed Dr. Oz, and in swing districts like one in central Virginia where Democratic Representative Abigail Spanberger was re-elected by defeating another Trump-backed candidate — it was because enough independents and moderate Republicans and Democrats showed up to put Fetterman and Spanberger over the top.

“There is still a viable group of centrist voters out there, who, when given a valid choice — not everywhere, and not always, but in some key districts — asserted themselves,” Don Baer, who was a communications director in the Clinton White House, told me. “I think there are still a lot of voters saying: ‘We want a viable center, where we can figure out how to make things happen that can really help people, even if it isn’t perfect or all at once. We don’t want every election to be existential.’”

The challenge, added Baer, “is, how do you take that sentiment to scale and make it work in Washington on a regular basis?”

I don’t know, but, if this election is a sign that we are at least edging back from the brink, it’s because enough Americans still fall into this independent or centrist camp and do not want to keep dwelling on the grievances, lies and fantasies of Donald Trump, which they can see are making the G.O.P. crazy and roiling the whole country. They also don’t want to be shackled by the woke enforcers of the far left, and they are terrified by the spread of the kind of sick political violence that was just visited on Nancy Pelosi’s husband.

We owe a huge debt for keeping this center alive to Republican Representatives Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger and Democratic Representative Elaine Luria. The three of them helped to spearhead the Jan. 6 investigation in Congress and ended up being forced out of office as a result. But the message that committee sent to enough voters — that we must never, ever, ever let something like this happen again — surely also contributed to the absence of a pro-Trump wave in this midterm election.

In sum, we did not get a clean bill of health. We got a diagnosis that our political white blood cells did OK in beating back the metastasizing infection that threatened to kill our whole electoral system. But that infection is still here, which is why the doctor advised, “Behave in healthy ways, build back your strength and return in 24 months for another scan.”

Some Words of Perspective …

If you could use a bit of encouragement today, Robert Reich has just the right message with his Election Day thoughts.  No, he doesn’t promise that everything will come up rosy in the morning, but … he does put things into context, a historical context, that reminds us that even if it ain’t a bed of roses, it also isn’t a box of thorns with nary a bud.

Take a look … listen to what he has to say and read his words of wisdom, think about what he says.  Then take a deep breath and relax, my friends.

Robert Reich’s words of encouragement