Thursday, November 27, 2014

Safe at last

Tamir.  He is 12.  Shot in the park playing with a toy gun.  No doubt he will soon be cast as a thug that had it coming.
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After the string of police killing black young men, it is hard to look and not see a pattern.  One that Fox News and many others subtly play without acknowledging it. 
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The not-at-all-subtle message is to the black community at large, "There may be a black President, but don't think that changes anything.  We can chock you, stomp on your rights and even kill you at will."
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We look back at the obvious racism of the south and are appalled at it.  How could that happen?!
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Hopefully future Americans will look back and say, "How could those people make excuses and look away from actions and pretend they were all justified?  Why was it okay to value black lives so cheaply in a just country?"
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Until then we can thank the police of Ohio for making us all safe from a twelve year old playing on the swings at a park.
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Sunday, November 23, 2014

Off To Jolly Olde - For the Thanksgiving...

If you want to know what we are in for, a lot of crying... as per  Russell Brand (approximately a minute and half in)...
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Friday, November 21, 2014

And that got me thinking

So, my brain makes random connections all the time.  Random. connections  All.The.Time.
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So I love reading someone else’s prose who’s brain works as my does.  This time it was an Entertainment Weekly Recap of Survivor the other night (LINK).  Read this wonderful digression….
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The immunity challenge was a foot fetishist’s dream! Seriously, Rex Ryan must have watched, rewound, paused, slow-mo’d, and rewatched this thing like 1,000 times. The object was to unspool a rope holding up blocks and then stack the blocks and flag using only your feet. It actually got me thinking about that Dug podracer Sebulba fromThe Phantom Menace, who did everything with his feet. And then that got me thinking about Jar Jar Binks. And that got me thinking about Darth Vader as an annoying little kid running around yelling "Yippee!" for no reason. And that got me thinking about how Han Solo no longer shoots first, because even though that is not even in the same movie, everything about Star Wars comes back to the fact that Han Solo no longer shoots first and Han Solo should ALWAYS shoot first. And that got me mildly depressed 
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For the Visual among my readers....
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Survivor Match makes one think of foot fetish.
which brings to mind...
Sabula from the Phantom Menace who used his feet as hands.
which brings to mind...
Annoying young Anakin Skywalker (Darth Vader) yelling Yippee! after winning said pod race
which brings to mind
Annoying changes by George Lucas, including the rerelease of Start Wars (now Star Wars 4 a New Hope) in which Greedo shots first, this ruining Hans' mojo....

The Art of the Not Possible

The wholesale loss of African Elephants in the wild is a tragedy that few will understand.  I say this with no joy and I know the statement has more than a twinge of snobbery – I apologize, it is unintended.  But the truth is, elephants are hard to fully appreciate until you see them in the wild or working with people (as in much of Asia).
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The reasons for saving them are esoteric, but actual.  They are amazing creatures that must be seen to be believed.  However, they also play a complex role in ecosystems that is not easily replaced.  Parts of Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi that were denuded of elephants have not  recovered since.  Savana and scrub land that supported a wide variety of animal life (and tourist dollars) has become barren or supports a fraction of the previous wildlife.  The vast tracks that have become home to crocodiles and  little else bring in no tourist dollars.  Rhinos could play them same ecological role, but they are all but extinct.
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There is only one reason for killing elephants , and it has returned with a vengeance.  A poacher can get $30,000 for elephant tusks.  That is a pretty vast wealth for people on the fringe of society.  And there is a massive demand from newly wealthy Chinese, a population that historical values ivory and is moving, in great numbers, into the position to afford ivory.
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Humans previously stopped poaching by reducing the demand for ivory in the late 70’s and 1980s.  As Japan and southeast Asian countries became rich, demand for ivory went up.  It took a concerted effort to make ivory ownership distasteful.  Money for campaigns, famous celebrities advocating for Elephants, governments (Japan and Korea) cracking down very hard on smuggling and a desire of the people of Japan and South Korea to emulate western values – all of these created the environment where elephant flourished and ivory trade reduced to a trickle.
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But the Chinese have a much lower desire to emulate Western Values, and Chinese officials have been notoriously bad at stopping smuggling.  Just as the US cannot stop drug smuggling if the population demands drugs, China cannot stop ivory smuggling unless the population stops valuing ivory.  Some key Chinese figures, for example, Yao Ming, are trying to make a difference.  I hope they succeed in time to stop the trade.
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But until the Chinese change their habits, elephant extinction looms.  West African jungle elephants are already probably past saving in the wild.  Elephants in Kenya, Tanzania are on the decline in great numbers.  Park ranchers are being killed, and safeguards are being overrun.  In South Africa, there are still great numbers of elephants, but as the elephant numbers reduce in the rest of Africa, the price of ivory will rise until the risk are worth poaching there.  Already armed poachers are encroaching onto the major preserves.
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It is a tribute to the elephants and the park ranchers that still protect them knowing they do so at the threat of their own lives.  Park Ranchers make much less than poachers, and do the job out of love for the animals and the countryside.
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Making eventual recovery even harder is an unfortunate problem that is less well understood.  Elephants live in complex social groups and trauma inhibits the return of population, even after poaching is effectively ended.  The devastation in Mozambique occurred not from poaching, but from a civil war that exploded and killed vast herds of elephants.  Those that survived were too emotionally scarred and unable to repopulate the region.  They were killed in herds by the thousands, and so the survivors avoided herds at all costs.  Mating occurred occasionally, but without the family units to safeguard them, the newborn fell victim to predators.
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Elephants, as a species, will probably survive.  Of the Asian Elephants, smaller and more domesticated, only the males have ivory, so wholesale slaughter doesn’t usually occur.  But the world will be a less interesting place without Elephants (and Rhinos).  I know it is a small concern in the world of (liberally-speaking) climate change and (conservatively-speaking) illegal immigration growth.  But it is heartbreaking.
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PS – the NRA has blocked legislation to prohibit ivory trade in the United States ONLY because some old guns have ivory handles. Please, if you are an NRA member, voice your support for an ivory trade ban.  These majestic creatures really are worth the cost of stopping trade in old ivory handled revolvers.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Cat Bibs

Seriously, cat bibs!
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Now I understand the purpose.  Cats kill a lot of wildlife.  This is generating big news in England (where they love their garden birds) and Australia (where the cats are doing some real harm).  In Australia, the cat population is decreasing as people understand they are one of the primary contributors to environmental problems.
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These bibs are designed to prevent the "fast cat paw leap".  It makes them stumble or slows down their cat-like reflexes.  The look idiotic, and birds fly away laughing.  OK not really.  In reality it apparently cuts innocent bird deaths by about 85% (in a controlled test).
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But my point here is not that these stylish bibs are or aren't useful.  Or even why people have cats (aside from Cat Art Critics).   Many of my best friends love cats.  So I am clearly not prejudiced against cat people – per say.  But these cat owners are deluded.  They have posted pictures of their "happy cats" with the cat bibs on.

Look at the pictures of these poor poor cats.  They are (left to right) Mittens, Chester, Marvin and El Gato.  Mittens and Marvin seem annoyed, but willing to put up with bids.


Chester, on the other hand, is plotting a terrible and twisted response to this indignity.  I would step carefully around  Chester for a while.  He is not a happy cat.

As for El Gato – lock up the guns, now.  El Gato is not subtle (like Chester).  In fact, I have my doubts that the picture taker is still alive mere moments after this picture was taken.  I see a dead old lady, with a purple cat-bib stuffed into her unbreathing maw – with an “innocent” El Gato licking his privates nearby.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Nincompoopery Round Up

Concierge vs. Valet
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Our building has a “Concierge” Desk.  When the building was built, 10 years ago, they were all the rage.  But now, not so much.  Now, if you want tickets to an event – you go on-line. If you want a Black Car, you contact Uber.  If you really want a Concierge, then you Platinum Credit Card and use their service.  Our “concierge” mainly coordinates dry cleaning, house cleaning, dog walking  and package delivery.
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So yesterday, in my Condo Board meeting, they proposed changing the name to Valet.  To which I think, why?  We just bought the “Concierge” letters and redid the room.  Why screw with the sign for no return and that will probably annoy people. They may not have used it, but they liked the possibility of using it.
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Instead of raising this, perfectly reasonable, reasoning and discussing it for hours, I simply fell into being an annoying LA President and shut down the talk with the comment, “If they don’t park cars, they aren’t a Valet.  Next.”
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Sanctity of Marriage
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Charles Manson, 70 year old serial killer in jail for life, is getting married to a 25 year old woman.  This is legal in every state, however my and Ed’s marriage is sinful and illegal in about 20 states.  Nincompoopery.
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Charles and the intended Mrs. Manson

Unintended Consequences
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It is cold as can be in the states.  This was unexpected in Climate change.  You see we don’t understand all unintended consequences.  We know that Europe could get colder.  The idea is that as Greenland’s icebergs melt quicker, more very cold water will mix with the warm Gulf Stream that keeps Northern Europe habitable (London, Paris, Berlin and Prague are all further north than Winnipeg Canada! – Venice is farther north than Minneapolis.)  So with the Gulf Stream being not so warm, Europe will start to shiver in the winter.

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We did not know that Arctic Sea Ice kept the low pressure system over the North Pole.  Once the very cold water of the Arctic Sea  turns from Ice to Water, the land of Canada is suddenly colder, the low moves south and voila, freezing cold in North America in the winter (and hotter in the  summer).
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Exodus (the Movie)
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Looks like a Computer Graphics disaster with Christina Bale as over emoting Moses on steroids.   Only Ridley Scott can make Charlton Heston look like a paragon of subtle nuance.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

TheaterMania Stress Hugh Jackman's Talent in the Photo Shoot for His New Show

Yeah, it's all about this acting in this new show.  Which is titled "The River" and subtitled "Look at Those Arms". LINK
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