Friday, January 20, 2017

This is Where Coming From California Makes Me Miss Things

So last night on the Nightly News, this dickhead (sorry Secretary Elect Dickhead) was reported on. Apparently, during the recession, he quick Goldman Sachs and bought a bank (IndyMac) - he renamed it and starting foreclosing like a mofo. He was known as the King of Foreclosures.

Included in his foreclosures were 35,000 cases of "Widow Foreclosures" or reverse mortgage foreclosures.

For those of you not familiar with a reverse mortgage, it is when you essentially mortgage your house and get payments back - and then when you die, the bank gets your house.

I am all too familiar with it from the AIDS crises when these (and reverse life insurance purchases) were created.

But as this goes on TV and the widows are kicked out of their houses, I say to Ed, I say "I don't get it. They are still alive - how can they foreclose?"

Ed explained that the houses were usually in the man's name in the old days. Once he died, Secretary Elect Dickhead Munchkin's company would kick grannie out.

"But," I said stupidly, "she is STILL alive, they can't do that."

And Ed explains, patiently, that California is a Community Property state, and no, they can't do it there. But most states are NOT community property states so it happens elsewhere.

And again I think, not for the first time and not for the last, California Rocks.

When Lewis Black is Funny - He's Really Funny

Thursday, January 19, 2017

You Surprised Him by Being a Day Early!

Guess what my husband turns on Saturday?


Doesn't everyone love turning 50?

Fireworks!


Geography Mistakes Make Me Nuts! - UPDATE

I was going to title this "Geography Nazi Strikes Again", but I didn't want to offend anyone. So I am going with "Geography Mistakes Make Me Nuts, particular in National Geographic Magazine".

I received my issue of National Geographic Traveler (Feb . March 2017) in the mail and was pleasantly scanning the issue in the "library", when I discovered a STUPID error. Now, I don't want to blame Fox News Corp for stupidity, although it did just happen after they bought National Geographic.  And, perhaps, they believe that just saying something makes it so, but they are wrong!

First the lovely picture...


Now the last line of the caption
Corey Arnold captured Yosemite Falls, Half Dome, Glacier Point and one very daring visitor, all in a single shot.

Mr. Arnold may well have done that in some shot. But this isn't that shot.  In this shot, Yosemite Falls would be to the extreme left of the picture across the valley floor.


The falls he did capture were the low flow of two other famous falls. Nevada Falls (arrow in red in the picture detail) and Vernal Falls (arrow in orange on picture).

I wouldn't be so offended if it wasn't National GEOGRAPHIC.  Good grief, hire a fact-checker.

UPDATE
Later on the same day I posted this and wrote a note to the Magazine, I received a charming response from National Geographic Traveler. I appreciated it very much.  Here it is:

Dear Scott:

Thanks for your note. Heather and Meg are my colleagues and forwarded it to me.

What a stupid error. I am very sorry we made it. Today we all met on the editorial team to discuss how this happened. A breakdown that involved swapping images without thoughtfully (or accurately) updating text is one of the errors we identified. And it's really too bad, because there is a lot to say about the image we selected.

Can we hire you as a clean reader before we ship off to press next time? We do our very best with each issue to be accurate, inspiring and smart about our travel coverage. The most inspiring thing about our work is that readers really care and notice. So I'm sorry we let you down here, but we all value your close read and support of our magazine.

I hope this year brings you great adventures and...accurate experiences!

Best, George Fischer
 

Wow! Birth Control is Expensive (and testing for Breast Cancer too!)

Slate has an article that basically explains how much some procedures will cost that are mandated as "covered" under the ObamaCare / Affordable Care Act.

Some legislators tried to ensure these would continue to be covered under any new scheme (by voted to require it - but that was voted down by the Republicans because of their great "replace plan" which no one has heard hide nor hair about. I think the plan is repeal the ACA and replace it with God's Will.

In any case, I had no idea how much some birth control cost. The cost of the IUD is staggering to me. For us, before all the test were done we just used condoms because we only had to worry about STDs, not getting pregnant. And condoms are helluva cheap compared to the IUD.



In the case of Mammograms - the more I understand them, the less appealing they seem.  First there is the painful squish factor, which some of my friends have explained in great detail, particularly post doctor visit. If you are a guy and don't know about these, talk to your female friends - it is like squishing your testicles between two steel plates to Xray them and the more spread out they are the better. AND it turns out not all insurance covers it, so some women are paying for this torture.


Now, screening should help avoid cancer. Cancer will cost a hell of a lot more, so I don't know why it isn't covered. And, if it turns out to be good news (i.e. no cancer) - your reward is you have to come in again and again to get them squished all over again.  And pay for it!

Zoiks.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

A Quick Primer on NATO and the European Union (for Trumpeters)

President Elect Trump has not seemed to change his opinion on many things - which isn't a big deal. I didn't expect he would.  But I did hope that he would learn to be more circumspect in interviews when his words freak out our allies.  His latest comments to newspapers in our biggest allies are an example of his intellectual non-interest made ugly.

Quoting here:
Mr. Trump’s latest salvo against stalwart American allies came in a joint interview over the weekend with The Times of London and Bild, a German newspaper. His published remarks have angered and shaken America’s closest allies in Europe.
Mr. Trump said NATO was obsolete because it had failed to resist terrorism, and he repeated earlier charges that some of its members were not paying their fair share. He described the European Union as “basically a vehicle for Germany” and predicted that other European nations would probably follow Britain’s lead by leaving it.

There are two items to unpack, that are fairly critical to understand and to peace in the world.

NATO was NOT created to fight terrorism. NATO was created to guarantee peace in Europe, particularly between the two biggest rivals, the US lead Western Block and the Soviet lead Eastern Block.



NATO has accomplished that goal completely. Remember that the USSR had attacked and crushed rebellions in Hungary, Poland and Czechoslovakia in the mid-twentieth century. They also threatened to do so in Greece and supported communist terrorist groups in West Germany and Italy. With NATO, the US laid down a marker that we would support these countries in event of attack and they would support us.

Oddly enough, the ONLY time this was invoked was when the US was attacked on 9/11 and then attacked Afghanistan - well outside of NATO's core interest area. NATO countries backed our war there.

NATO is the only real thing deterring Russia from attacking the Baltic Countries, which Russia has a history of attacking and absorbing (1700s, 1800s and 1939)

NATO countries are presently sharing a lot of information on the fight against terrorism. AND they are also sharing this with Russia and other countries to fight terrorism together.

As for the European Union comment. Oy - what a dope.

The United States has long supported the European Union as a vehicle for European integration and therefore promoting peace on the continent. If you remember (which Mr. Trump apparently does not), the United States fought two World Wars in Europe -started by the continental powers fighting for land, power, riches and control of trade. The EU's purpose is to integrate the economies of the continent so as to give a forum to resolve these issues without war.


Mr. Trump's problem IT SEEMS TO ME* that he cannot see a negotiation as a win / win possibility. In his experience every negotiation and every transaction has winners and losers.  For example, stating that the EU is a vehicle for Germany is asinine. The standards of living in EVERY OTHER EU country, bar France and Sweden has grown dramatically faster upon joining the EU that without it. And normally faster than the Germany - although Germany already had a good standard of living.

Consider the new ex-Russian countries that border the EU that did not join it, Ukraine, Belarus and Moldavia. They started with exactly the same standard of living as Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia. The benefits of the EU are immediately apparent in the standard of living between them. Yes, Germany is richer because of the EU. But Finland, Estonia, Slovenia, Portugal etc. are vastly richer as well.  A win/win situation.

* That is my opinion, I could be wrong, he might be playing a long game here. But I don't believe it, given that for the European Union he is offering an opinion in a situation we are not part of.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Pick Your Battles - Rick Perry will Be Fine

Kids, constant outrage is silly - you have to pick your battles.  For example, this is dumb...



Sure Rick Perry is a Climate Change Skeptic - but we have seen he is open to change. He has run a giant bureaucracy, so that will be good. And he likes Wind Power.

The 8 "reasons" are kind of valid, but will be the same with anyone our new President chooses.
  • He opposes the Iran deal. Every Republican did - and you know Trump won't pick a Democrat.
  • He is a Climate Change Skeptic - every Republican is.
  • The Department of Energy is mainly concerned with Science and he's not a Scientist. Look, we got lucky with Obama. President Obama got a Nobel winning Scientist in there.  That is pretty rare. And, with Trump who is "really really smart" and doesn't trust "elites" - you think we'll ever get a Scientist back? Then you're living in a dream world.
I am not saying I love me some Rick Perry. And I could make fun of him easily (and humorously), but why? We need to pick our battles for the really horrible things. And trust me, they're coming. So lay off Ricky.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Last Week's Instagram Pictures

So this is what I Instagram'ed last week.  And some details.
This is a picture of the new building going up near Madison One. It is right near where I teach and I see it about once a week.  It is interesting to see it progress

It took this just as I was about to see "The Present" with Cate Blanchett and Richard Roxburgh. Here is the review on blogger and here on Facebook.

This is my friend Scott.  He turned 50 and I went to the party.  It was a kick.

This is the Met Life Building.  Most people love the clock. The face of the clock is bigger than Big Ben (by a few feet). I love the cupola.

Last night's playbill from the LaBute New Theater Festival. I haven't reviewed it yet (it doesn't open until next week).  (hint - bleh!)

Playbill from a show I saw Friday I cant' review until Jan 26. (Hint - Bravo!)

My little pup sleeping off a long day.  He had stomach problems this week. After a trip to the Vet he is better.

This building is near Cooper Square. I love it, and it is one of the buildings that would never last in an Earthquake.

One sunrise when New York looked a little Mt. Doom!

Our friend Shawn came down and we all went out for a cocktail.  It was fun.

Overreaction?

So the Republican Legislature of North Dakota is annoyed at on-going protests of a oil pipeline. The pipeline in question would go under the Missouri River on Indian Reservation land.  The Indians are protesting.

Quite beyond the native heritage idea, the river is the water supply for the reservation. This might be seen as petty except that, during the stand off, an oil pipeline in another part of the state DID burst and leak a lot of oil underground.

Anyway, it has been impossible to make the Indians and their supporters leave. Finally President Obama required the pipeline to be rerouted (something one expects President Trump to change).

In any event, the North Dakota legislature has been trying to understand how to resolve this in the future.  they have come up with a fascinating idea. Make it legal to hit pedestrians on public highways!


Really.  Here is the link to the Bismark paper.

Gives a completely new meaning to "blood for oil".

Saturday, January 14, 2017

My Guess is that Nick Adams Is NOT Playing Gaston in the Live Action Beauty And The Beast

But he should....


Who Knew! (Miles Malleson Edition)

So I saw Yours Unfaithfully at the Mint Theater last night.  No review yet, it is still in previews. (Opens Jan 26th).

But I was honestly shocked and delighted. It is an unproduced 1933 play (therefore getting its World Premier) by a "noted" British Playwright.

And by "noted", I mean noted then, not so much now.

Miles Malleson wrote this.  It is the story of an open marriage between a husband and wife. And it isn't very judgemental.

Now, it is a drawing room comedy, so there is a LOT of talk, but I do love those. At the end of a good drawing room comedy you want to go out and participate in a deep - or at least stimulating and witty - discussion with friends.

I quite loved it.  Which is my common reaction to a good drawing room comedy, but verbally and mentally. "I quite loved it."

Lovely Max in the show (with Mikaela Izquierdo and Elisabeth Grey)


It does seems very much ahead of its time, until you read the story of Miles, who had an open marriage with his three wives.  It also draws of the lives of Bertrand and Dora Russell - who ran the school the Mallesons sent their children too and also had an open marriage.

As for Mr. Malleson, he was - by all accounts - a wonderful Shakespearean  stage actor. Who later thrived as the genial "fool" in movies.  The picture top left is from Alfred Hitchcock's Stage Fright.  And below, from The Importance of Being Earnest.

With Dame May Whitney in the Importance of Being Earnest


One final word. The show, which was delightful, starred Max Von Essen. Ed and I have met young Mr. Essen a few times and he is charming. He was Migaldi in Evita and nominated for a Tony in "American in Paris". His voice as a singer is unparalleled. I saw Max in "Death Takes a Holiday" the musical and Ed and I have seen him in Christmas concerts.  I did not know he was in the show and it was a great and happy surprise (but no songs in this).

Friday, January 13, 2017

This Week in Nincompoopery (Thursday Jan 13th Edition)

Oy.

This week in Nincompoopery, I give not so much in the way of LINKS, as it would be depressing. I used the headlines from Salon, but you can find these stories anywhere (including Fox), but Salon headlines fit my blog format best.

  
The "War on Whites"? Well, if there is true "war on whites" then "they" have totally lost! It is the whitest cabinet since Gone With The Wind came out. 

Asking a person who voted against the Voting Rights Act, the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Bill, who called Roe V Wade an abomination and chanted "Lock Her Up" during the campaign, if he is really willing to function as the chief lawyer to defend all those laws isn't a War on Whites.  It is a set of fair questions. He answered that he would, and he is going to get confirmed.

Asking questions of a nominee is part of the Constitution - not a "war".
Ethics is  super-duper important when Hillary Clinton is involved. But if the Independent (and no, in this case it does NOT mean Democratic) Federal Ethics head says that Donald Trump's divestment is not adequate - the answer is not to threaten him. 

As any true Republican knows (and Mr. Trump knows), the appropriate answer is to ignore him.
Despite the fact that Mr. Carson said Mr. Carson wasn't up for heading an agency, his hearing was actually rather sedate. Only Elizabeth Warren pressed him, and only on the fact that a lot of money from HUD goes to Donald Trump's businesses.  Was there a problem with that?  Mr. Carson, unclear on any number of items, - and the basic tenets of the English Language responded, "It will not be my intention to do anything to benefit any American."

Which was both a huge gaffe and possibly his most honest answer all day.

----

And Donald Trump thinks we are living in Nazi Germany. And he might be right, but not why he thinks.

Trees of My Youth Number 4: Orange Trees

Your basic "friend's backyard orange tree"

Orange Trees are kind of the unheralded tree of my youth. They were so common they blended into the background.

A grove (we used to pass these on the way to Palm Springs all the time)
I remember we would drive from Orange (the city and county) to San Diego with my grandparents (mom's side) to see my Great Grandmother and pass through fields and fields of Orange Trees.  They just marched down the 5 - where houses now dot the hills and where "Irvine" has become a city, not a ranch or a military airport.

My other grandparents (dad's side) took us driving every Sunday for a picnic when we weren't camping.  Many was the time we would stop along the roads in the Malibu hills and pick up Oranges. From everyone's point of view, the ones on the ground were fair game. So you had to find the ones that had only recently fallen.

Ones on the ground are fair game - so you find the freshly dropped ones.

It was never hard to find plenty of good oranges.  In fact, most of us got sick of oranges by a young age.

And Orange Trees had, what seemed like at the time, a typical life cycle.  They would develop a big leafy covering, then flowers and oranges - which grew and grew. They they were picked and either the tree grew more, or it was pruned way back for the cycle to repeat.  No changing colors.
Orange Trees, Canary island Date Palms and the San Bernardino Mountains in the background. So right off the 10.
Also, although you don't see it in your friends back yard tree, orange groves were trimmed so that the trees were almost square.  That allowed in the most light and the best way to pick the oranges later.

From an LA Times story on Orange Groves in Orange County now.

Between the houses and the freeway is the Orange Grove referred too.


In the picture above, for my friends or Angelenos: It is the 91 through Yorba Linda after the toll plaza and before the 71.