Friday, August 17, 2018

Seriously, What Happened To The Good Old Days...

.. when a man could represent a foreign government without registering, make a few millions under the table and hide it in 31 offshore accounts and not pay taxes without being dragged into court?

The Odd Success of Running Against Nancy Pelosi

Republicans up for election this mid-term are running against Nancy Pelosi. For those of you in America out of the loop, or for those outside of America - Nancy Pelosi is the leader of the opposition in the House of Representatives. She has very little power - she is in charge of the minority of the lower house of Congress.

She is an older woman who has ran the Democratic Representative group for a long time. She is a conservative boogie-man, because she is unabashedly liberal and represents San Francisco (and hence is tied to "the gays"). Fox News and Republicans have railed against her for at lest a decade - but she has been in the minority since 2010.

But she is so vilified by the Right side of the political spectrum, that her name is toxic in many areas. This is not unusual.

But it is unusual that the Republicans, in charge of the House of Representatives, the Senate, the Supreme Court and the Presidency don't have a positive message. Their singular message is "we suck, but she sucks more".

It is too bad that this message, combined with a malicious, venial, rascist thin-skinned vulgarian in the White House might be enough for many people.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

The Problem with Turkish / American Politics (NOT Trump's fault)

We are in the midst of a slow motion disaster with Turkey. It started with problems inherit in our relationship, which is critical to both our countries. Time and political progress has increased the pressures working against the relationship and removed some of the factors that kept us working together. These are now coming to a boil with two leaders who do not like to back down (Erdogan and Trump)

The short story (read below to understand it all, here is the incomplete but critical story):

After an attempted coup in Turkey, which their President blames at least in part on the United States, Turkey arrested over one hundred thousand possible conspirators. An American Pastor was swept up in these arrests. The Pastor and his family appear to be innocent - but we haven't cooperated in picking up a Turkish Religious figure in the United States that President Erdogan has loaded the blame upon. So Turkey is holding our Pastor, hoping to exchange him for an America based Turkish citizen he blames for the coup.

Side-bar, the Turkish citizen in America does not seem to be the instigator of the coup. However, if (I said IF) America had an interest in the new outcome or, worst, was tipped off the coup was coming, the Turkish guy here might be who we would have informed about it. IF any of that was true, we don't want to hand over an innocent man.

The Americans want the US Pastor released and the administration has worked hard to make it happen. The latest effort included a complex series of moves in which we provided some relief and Israel was going to release a Turkish woman. Everything seemed to happen, except that hte Pastor wasn't released.

The administration was furious and President Trump was furious, since his base is loudly saying the Pastor knew nothing. And Trump isn't furious quietly.

Erdogan said he wouldn't cave to America and there was no deal for the Pastor. Now he, like Trump, has painted himself into a corner with his political base.

Trump has loudly more than doubled the tariffs on Turkish Steel and Aluminum. This has pushed the already weak Turkish Lira lower and made it more wobbly. It is also illegal and should have been done quietly another way. (It is illegal because we said the tariffs were a security issue and therefore had to be consistent across nations - we are in of breach on the WTO which we set up.)

It matters because Turkey is an ally with a lot of information and an US Air Base and Russia is waiting to welcome them (and our info) into their waiting arms.

It's going to get ugly

The long story (necessary to understand this)...

Friday, August 10, 2018

Looking Back on Able Gance's Napoleon

I was recently looking at the Internet and memories were brought back by this piece of click bait.

I saw the first restoration of Napoleon, albeit only the 4 hour version not the 6 hour full restoration that occurred a few decades later. It was one of the few things that came out of Zeotrope Studios before One From The Heart bankrupted it. (And it is a beautiful piece of filmmaking, way before it's time - watch it again and see how in front of the times it was!)
Expand to Read about the Plitt Century City

Anyway, I saw this at the old Plitt Century City theaters back when they were still 2 huge ass theaters. (Side note, I was there once to see a movie and during previews the Secret Service came in and President Regan sat with Nancy to watch it with an audience. This was only a few years before the attack on him and the end of Presidents sneaking in anywhere.)

Zeotrope Studios was run by Francis Ford Coppola. He had restored much of the movie, including the tinting and tri-part screening, and his father had written a new score for the film. The time I saw it, there was no live orchestra (as there was in New York at the Restoration Premier a few days earlier). But it was cool. L O N G, but cool. The big ending with the three screen shots, tinting in France's tricolor was very memorable.

Apparently 30 years later, the British Film Institute restored the entire 6 hour version and had lots of copy write fights with Coppola, but that was after my time. However the preview below gives you an idea of the scope. Image seeing this on that massive Plitt screen.

The Nerd in Me Loves This... The Scooter in Me Hates It...

Here are the logos we get to vote on for the new Space Force Logo.

Now, here is what is annoying. These logos aren't anywhere near what the actuality will be should it ever come to pass. If it is a branch of the US Military, then it won't be a fun logo. See the bottom of page for our real military logos.

No this is a marketing ploy by the Trump Campaign - THE CAMPAIGN - to raise money and get names and email addresses. And by using Administration Officials to go out and sell merchandise based on US Government intentions that then drives profits for our VSG's reelection is both annoying and illegal.

But illegal means nothing to this administration and this is the least of it.

PS - Mars Awaits (my personal fav) is, per the Pentagon (really!!!) not applicable because this would be a defensive force, not an exploratory force.

PPS - They are all a little too Disney-Up With People for me. I want a death star.

PPPS - The Pentagon loves this idea, more money for them.

Thursday, August 09, 2018

THIS was right over us

A Friend took this from his place in Hudson Yards. It is looking towards the north. He is at 30th and we are at 59th.  I think this strike was right above us (we heard a ton of them)....

What is Normal and What is Not Normal

In many ways Donald Trump is a typical Republican by the way he governs. So let's look at some of what is new and what is old. What is working and what is not working.

The economy is his big achievement. Most Democrats will say that he has imply benefited from Obama's economic recovery, and it is true that all the indicators point to the fact he seems to have maintained the trajectory. But our current economic situation is a pretty big achievement. This recovery is one of the longest lasting there has ever been.  And while I disagree with much of what he has done, his business friendly positioning has undoubtedly helped that along.

Tax rates. Donald Trump and the Republican Congress have passed a big ass tax cut. Some of the items, like the new business tax rate, I applaud. Other items, like the gigantic tax break to the wealthiest individuals, I abhor. But here, he has acted as a normal Republican.

Regarding environmental law, I have massive problems with what he has done. However, the majority of the changes would have been followed by any Republican - sure a few exceptions stand out, the rolling back of car mileage, the attack on California's right to regulate emissions and the reduction in National Monuments, but otherwise it is a traditional Republican line.

Also at MOMA

In addition to the Architecture part of the show at MOMA, there were a few sections that talked about Yugoslavian design. They could export to Eastern Europe when much of the West was cut off from those consumer. So they had a variety of Exports.

Including kiosks that became ubiquitous through much of Europe, as elements could be added as necessary.

There was also a show of sculpture from Constantin Brancusi.  You know him probably. Look at the bronze sail/butter knife stuff in the background.

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Wonderful Show at MOMA

So there was an architectural show at the Museum of Modern Art in New York that was very very cool. It was about Yugoslavia and it's love of concrete and brutalist architecture. 

After WWII much of Yugoslavia had been destroyed so they had to rebuild, the did the big building and housing in concrete with futurist designs. Don't get me wrong, these buildings don't age well and I wouldn't want to live there. But as statement buildings and futurist goal, I understand the aesthetic at the time.

One of the best things about the show was they showed the models, next to the actual buildings. In some cases (like the Transmission Tower at the top of the page) the idea flowed through, in other cases, not so much.

Many of the these are now gone, and those that are still there don't hold up well - aside from the memorials. But it was a cool show. The picture above is a memorial to those lost in the wars against fascism - it hasn't aged well. The picture below is of the memorial to Yugoslavian rebels win against the Nazis. This memorial was in the show, but I like the picture I took with myself and the memorial in May better.

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

Miss Very Special Genius, If you could have one wish granted...

"Miss Very Special Genius, If you could have one wish granted, what would it be?"

"World Peace."


Monday, August 06, 2018

The Good and the Bad of a Brand New Condo By Silverstein Properties

Well, there is good and bad.

The good, the grills started working and we love them.

The bad, the water leak, which we have complained about now for months, finally dropped into our condo through the roof light. We spent the week-end fighting with a smelly recycling bin to go the toilet. (Fought past a leak to take a leak.... get it?) It has not been pleasant.

The reason is not that important - a problem a few floors up. I get this happens in new buildings, I just wish they had listened earlier. I also wish we had a condo board.

A Lot To Unpack

Trump tweeted a big ass deal yesterday (Sunday).  Let us unpack, shall we...

I know that Republicans will find nothing unusual here, but for the reality based amoungst us:

Forget about the suck up to his son... Start on the 2nd sentence.

"totally legal..." Buzz - wrong answer. It is illegal to work with foreign nationals, accept intelligence from foreign nationals or foreign countries for purposes of a domestic election.

"done all the time in politics.." Buzz - wrong answer. Opposition Research is done all the time, but not when provided by foreign nationals.

"This was a meeting to get information on an opponent..." Buzz - perjury. John-Boy Trump testified under oath to Congress that this meeting was about Russian adoptions, that took a bad turn. Perjury - you remember that Republicans, you found perjury to be impeachment worthy when President Clinton lied about oral sex.

"I did not know about it." That is where the rubber meets the road on collusion here. If he knew about it, then it was collusion. (PS Rudy Giuliani is correct in that "collusion" is not a crime. The actual crime -if his last line is a true as the prior one - is "Conspiracy to defraud the United States" - as in trying to rig the election with a foreign national and foreign government.