Monday, June 30, 2014

Freinds and Curiosities in England

I love odd British Taxidermy from last century.  This is either a ferret or weasel offering up a sweetie.
In a pub. Where else?

As Wallace would say.  It was a Grand Day Out.
And yes, Gareth looks down about a stone.

Atheist Need Not Apply - Updated

It is, truly, Nincompoopery.  A work of staggering idiocy.  A “Corporation” is created to indemnify people, and then act in a public manner (equivalent to a “company” in British English) for a designated purpose.  This purpose is identified in the corporate charter and is included when incorporation occurs.

It creates a legal “person” or entity to facilitate commerce or public actions.  It protects individuals from corporate actions.

For example, General Motors may be sued, as an incorporated entity, for faulty ignition switches. But one cannot sue the line operator at 2:30 PM on Tuesday the 24th of July who installed that faulty switch in Chevrolet Cruze #261,419.  Nor can you sue Jane Smith, shareholder of GM stock as being responsible.  That is why for profit corporations are created. 

The Supreme Court has held that “Corporate Entities” have the right of Free Speech.  That is, they can donate to campaigns and promote candidates.  Although I disagree with the ruling – I understand it.  The “Entity” of General Motors, based on its corporate charter does have certain interests, and political speech can often further those interests.  One can argue that “Jane Smith” stockholder supports the charter through her stock purchase, and therefore tactically supports those speech rights.

Today the Supreme Court held that a “Corporate Entity” may have the right of religious freedom – if it is closely held.  In this  case, “closely held” refers to any incorporated entity where less than 5 people hold more than 50% of the stock.  That limits the impact of this ruling to only 90% of companies (albeit not 90% of employees' employers). Updated: NBC and CBS news reported that about 50% of American workers are employed by a "closely held" company that falls under the right to religious discrimination.

And, in the religious freedom, they (Hobby Lobby in this case) have the right to break a law they feel violates their religious principles.  Note, not a law that DOES violate their religious principals, but that the Corporation “feels” or “believes” violates their religious principles.  This is critical, because they reason Hobby Lobby protested the requirement to offer birth control is because they believe it is abortion.  It is not, and medical experts were ready to testify, but the court said there was no need.  That Hobby Lobby “believed” that it violated its religious views, and that was enough.

(Le'ts look to Anthony Scalia... "Writing for the majority, Justice Samuel Alito argued that contesting Hobby Lobby’s claim that contraception is the same thing as abortion — an idea that has been refuted time and again by medical providers and associations — “in effect tells the plaintiffs that their beliefs are flawed.” ")

Does this mean that Hobby Lobby – or other closely held corporations – can discriminate on the basis of race?  No.  The Supreme Court called out that as unfair, regardless of how the building and its contents read the Bible.  

HOwever, the Supreme Court made no such mention on gender, much less sexual orientation, age, or marital status.  So Hobby Lobby doesn’t have to promote women – if they can point to the part of the Bible that says women should be subservient to men.  And they can fire a divorced woman.  They can ask if you (male or female) has premarital sex and charge you different prices.  They can certainly discriminate against gays, Jews, anyone that wears polyester, anyone that eats shrimp or crab.  

The corporation – remember a corporation is the building and its contents, its computers and its bank accounts, that is what a corporation IS – gets to decide if you are worthy of not just employment, but anything else it wants to.  In this case, woman who use certain types of birth control are not worthy of the grace of God and Hobby Lobby Inc.

The court left open the question of a those closely held corporations that don’t believe in blood transfusions, vaccinations and medicine (like aspirin or antibiotics).  But damn, if I was a corporation,  I would amend my charter so my company was a Jehovah’s Witness member.  They don’t believe in a raft of medical procedures, which would certainly cut down on expenses.

The one other item they specifically called out - you must believe in taxes.  (Seriously.)

Sunday, June 29, 2014

A Fun Thing in England

Greenwich, from the Thames.

Of course, we had a ball in England.  We did a lot of cool things, but on of the coolest was walking down the South Bank to the Tower of London (in the background), then taking a transport boat past Greenwich to the O2 area.  It was a blast.

Jane, My, Ed's Mom and Ed's Dad
I got some cool picts of the Tower Bridge and then others.  
The new Old Globe Theater

Ed's Mom and Eddie by the Tower Bridge

Looking up.  I want a little flat up at the top

The changing skyline, the Cheese grater in the middle, the Gurkin on the right and a new un-nick-named building on the left.

"Art" at the O2 Pier.  The Skycups above...

Friday, June 27, 2014

Well said

I like this coverage of the new HBO show.  It is just fun (well) written. LINK

If there’s a flavor profile for the TV drama that’s considered eminently seductive these days, it’s apocalyptic sadness mixed with sexy, seize-the-day nihilism blended with a few sprinkles of unfocused aggression. Tellingly, the screener DVDs of “The Leftovers” feature a photograph of Theroux punching a wall so hard he’s making it crack. He looks bereft and enraged and his tattooed shoulder muscles speak of power and disdain for authority and they also whisper “Jen loves these meaty hot wings,” to those of us shallow enough to hear it. The whole thing is pretty savvy and evocative and seriously cheesy.
I love that phrase "Jen loves these meaty hot wings"

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Extra! Extra! House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner ...

Extra! Extra!  House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner  plans to sue President Obama over Executive Orders.  Even though he has issued less that George W Bush, George Bush and Ronald Reagan.  Speaker Boehner is shocked, SHOCKED at the flagrant disregard for his fiefdom.
Wall Street Journal Atwitter Over Possibility
"Trampling"  TRAMPLING separation of powers.  And by TRAMPLING, they mean, doing it less than previous Presidents in this Century and the previous century.
In other breaking news, the Sun is expected to rise tomorrow somewhere between this evening and tomorrow evening.  Boehner plans to sue.

Reality Check - Barak Obama has issued fewer than any President since Grover Cleveland.
The above chart is a reality check.  However, John Boehner and the Wall Street Journal Editorial board are unpersuaded by reality.  Quote, "I'm not a scientist..."
How important is this really?  Remember the whole "Czars" fiasco last time.  Yeah, that important.

Windsor Castle

Like I said, we had amazing weather in England.  You never get that kind of weather for a week.  It was great.
One thing we did was take Ed's parents to Windsor Castle.  In the sun, the grounds were astounding.  Particularly the garden in the Keep.
Jo, Ed and Donald in the lower courtyard

The Garden in the Keep.  I had never seen it so lovely.

We missed the Changing of the Guards at Buckingham Palace, but saw these here.

My favorite silly souvenir.
And finally, just for shits an giggles, so more of the Keep Garden.

You can't really see it, but you can hear the water flowing here.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Out yesterday around London

It was a gorgeous day yesterday wit Ed's parents and our friends in London.
I love the eye
Ed and his parents on the Eye. 

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Landed - At the Weather is Beauitful

We landed after a great flight.  The weather is wonderful and Jane's Garden is gorgeous.  When I was here last month, she had one or two blooms.
Not now.  It's amazing.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

And we are off

On our way to Jolly Old

We are on our way to England with Ed's parents.  Pictures will be posted, pubs will be visited, lives will be changed.
All aboard.

Last Non-Travel Post

Good Grief...

Salon is a little snarky, but very funny.
For the not insignificant portion of the right that operates under the theory that everything the Obama administration does is intended to distract from the Benghazi scandal, yesterday’s news Ahmed Abu Khatallah, the alleged ringleader of the Benghazi attacks, had been apprehended in Libya was something of a conundrum. The White House was making news about Benghazi – the very thing they wanted swept under the rug. What did it mean???
The consensus was White House had switched gears, and was now diabolically using Benghazi to distract from something else. But no agreement could be found on what that other thing is. It’s either Iraq (the Limbaugh theory), Libya (the Daily Caller theory), Hillary Clinton’s gaffes (the Fox News theory), or everything (the Allen West theory).

Today Dick Cheney Joins Sarah Palin and Anne Coulter as a Never Again On the Blog

"Blather blather blather. HATE! Obama is evil. President wants to ruin America! Quack qauck qauck! Gun control means I can't shoot my friend in the face or hunt captive birds! Argel bargle argle BARGLE!  I'm looking at you, hippie!"

Dick Cheney has driven the PenguinMobile over the cliff joining Thelma and Louise.  And, like Thelma and Louise, he has become a fictional character.
His final banishment from the files of Nincompoopery occurs with his latest asinine attack in the Wall Street Journal against Obama's policy.
It isn't his argument that Obama is a wrong that offends me to the point of banishment.  It is the crazy ass extra assertions that cannot be tolerated in the Reality based world.  Here is his editorial - and my favorite bits noted.
Let's start with the easy bait at the first sentence.  That particular hyperbole is always easy to refute in a picture.
As the terrorists of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) threaten Baghdad, thousands of slaughtered Iraqis in their wake, it is worth recalling a few of President Obama's past statements about ISIS and al Qaeda. "If a J.V. team puts on Lakers' uniforms that doesn't make them Kobe Bryant" (January 2014).(Scott - this wasn't in reference to ISIS but to random Jihaddi groups claiming to belong to Al Queda)  "[C]ore al Qaeda is on its heels, has been decimated" (August 2013). "So, let there be no doubt: The tide of war is receding" (September 2011). (This was on the 10 year anniversary of the 9-11 attacks. And yeah, it is receding).
Rarely has a U.S. president been so wrong about so much at the expense of so many. 
It might be rare, Dick, but not unprecedented....

Then there is this crapola.
Mr. Obama had only to negotiate an agreement to leave behind some residual American forces, training and intelligence capabilities to help secure the peace. Instead, he abandoned Iraq and we are watching American defeat snatched from the jaws of victory.
This is the recent Official Republican Talking Point Lie (tm) that has gotten so much traction.  It is, of course, bullshit.  The "simple agreement to negotiate" was actually already in place.  George W Bush had negotiated it.  And, if his Vice President didn't like it, they could have re-negotiated it.  No wait, the couldn't because we had left a broken shell of Iraq with a Shite President who wouldn't work with the minorities.  VP Dick Cheney's administration left the time bomb.  it happened to go off last week.
And finally there is this jewel.
In 1983, President Ronald Reagan said, "If history teaches anything, it teaches that simple-minded appeasement or wishful thinking about our adversaries is folly. It means the betrayal of our past, the squandering of our freedom."
Look, I like President Reagan, but he was no Mid-East Saint.  He high-tailed it out of the Mid-East when our Embassy in Lebanon was bombing killing hundreds of Marines.  IN late 1983 -   241 Marines were killed in a terrorist bombing of the Embassey in Lebanon.  Lebanon fell (to the Shites!) and started slaughter Christians.  On Feb 3rd and 4th 1984, Reagan committed (to the Wall Street Journal - ironically) that we would stay in Lebanon.  And on Feb 7th Reagan ordered the evacuation of Lebanon.
The Embassy Attack in Lebanon - Before partisan hackery ruined our country.
And, by the way, there was less Congressional Review of the Lebanon bombing of an Embassy that killed 241 Marines (and assorted civilians) than the 18 plus months of hearings and Fox News argle bargle we have had to pretend to listen to over Benghazi.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

My honey and Our puppy

Part Three of an Epic Road Trip : The Mojave National Preserve (from Amboy to Las Vegas)

Leaving Amboy on Route 66 you travel only a mile or two before turning right, going under the freeway and entering the Mojave National Preserve.  A quick left can take you too Mitchell Caverns – but by this time you’ve had enough and are ready to get to Vegas.

And so you fly along the road to Vegas, but an odd thing happens to you.  The beauty of the Mojave starts to infect you here.  There are occasional Joshua Trees (later a forest of them, but they start slow – building excitement).  And the rocks take on exotic wild configurations.  Your mind cannot help but feast on the sensory perceptions.  After so much plainness, the land and the cactus and the road take on a quality that puts you into the mind of a movie.  Even with full air-conditioning – at some point you go 90 mph and roll down the window.  The speed is ferocious, the land empty and the smell is dry.  There is no other way to describe it.

Suddenly you see what appears to be a Mission on the Horizon.  Since you’re in the desert, you see it from miles away and it burns into you mind.  You have to stop.  You have imagined so much that you have to see what it is.

I have been in years, and apparently they have  changed it.  It used to be an old train depot (Kelso).  Well  preserved on the outside and closed.  Rumor has it they added a restaurant and information center and I hope so.  In any case, it is a stop everyone makes.  It is as close to a stagecoach stop as you will find in the country anymore.  Not a film set, but a piece of history preserved in the Sahara like desert air.
The Keslo-Cima Road (note the one train that stretches to forever)
The signs will tell you to take the road to Baker (the KelBaker Raod) to get to Vegas.  But you are long past signs.  And that one is a ruse.  You would end up doubling back.  No, head straight away down the Kelso-Cima road, then to the Ivanpah Road this takes you the quickest way to Vegas.  And, along the way, you will pass the densest Joshua Tree forest I have ever seen.

Now, to call it a forest might be to give you the wrong impression.  It is a “forest” made up of Joshua “Trees”, which are really just tall yuccas.  So it’s not like a shady leafy forest.  But it is unlike almost anything else you will ever seen.  And, at the end, you are on the California / Nevada state line.

You gps won’t get you there easily, but that is what an Epic road Trip is all about.

THE Definitive Answer on Who's Fault Iraq is...

I know we all wonder who's fault the Iraq debacle is.  Sure Bill Kristol (so correct last time about the flowers and candy) wants us to go in an take over the country again.  But first, who's fault is it that Iraq has descended into Civil War?
Fox News "It's Obama's Fault"

Salon "It's W's Fault"

Definitive from The Daily Beast (and Time) "It's Gertrude's Fault!"

Monday, June 16, 2014

My Eddie - Sharing the Jan Brady Square with Billie Jean King

LGBT Champions of Tennis
Top row, left to right: Martina Navratilova, David Slade, Missy Malool & Bunny Williams, Jason Freed, Karin Buchholz, Dan Merrithew.
Middle row, left to right: Ed Neppl, Billie Jean King, Mark Reiter, Anne Davis, John Lansville, Marilyn Sherman.  
Bottom row, left to right: Jan Adams-Richards, Joe Ceriello, Winnie Fink, Jeff Williams, Pamela Sloane, Fred Allemann.

June is Pride History Month, and to commemorate it, the Partners-LGBT Business Resource Group is showcasing the contributions of “LGBT Champions in Tennis” with displays in our office of various prominent LGBT tennis executives, staff and players who positively impact the game of tennis.

Non Eddie names removed...
Ed Neppl
Ed Neppl, the USTA’s Chief Financial Officer, held several positions at NBC Universal prior to joining the USTA in 2012.  Most recently, he served as Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer for NBC Sports & Olympics, where he was responsible for strategic planning and business analysis, rights acquisition analysis, financial reporting, and accounting and control for the $750 million Sports division of NBC and the $1.2 billion Olympics division of NBC.  He also served as the Chief Financial Officer of the Universal Studios Production Lot in Los Angeles and the Global Controller for Universal Studios Theme Parks & Resorts division. 
Before he joined NBC Universal, Ed served as the Vice President of Finance at Pallotta Teamworks (producing the Avon Breast Cancer 3-Day Events and AIDSRides across the country) and as Finance Manager at Walt Disney Imagineering in Burbank. 
Ed is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin.

Part Two of An Epic Road Trip

The Desert Blooms in the  Middle of No Where
Leaving Twenty-Nine Palms takes one through the bleakest parts of the drive.  It is long flat and straight beyond the point of monotony.  But stick with it and you will see something interesting after a while.  You see the lone ruins of a cabin or a house.  Long abandoned, the stand empty in the blazing sun (and it is always blazing sun) and you wonder at the regularity.  This is actually one of the sings of long vanquished dreams.  These are the remains of homesteading.
After I wrote this, I found this site all about the Homesteads out there.  LINK

Homesteading, for those of you not familiar, was once used by the United States to open Federal lands to the public.  Certain areas were given over to Homesteaders who got a plot of land (usually 160 acres or a ¼ section).  They could keep the land if they lived on it and worked it (farming – usually) for five years.  Then they would receive the title to the land.  The regularity of the dilapidated houses out here is an artifact of the homesteading process.
After what seems like forever, the road finally makes a huge end left and up another hill.  At the crest of this rise, the large Amboy plateau greets you.  The vegetation thickens here, as they get more rainfall.  Since there is no outlet for water, there are large salt flats where the occasional rainwater collects and then evaporates.  There are salt works here.
Amboy Crater
It is an interesting drive down into the hill, culminating in the all but abandoned town of Amboy.  Right before you get to the “town”, you can see a lone hill to the west.  This is Amboy crater.  A real life meteor crater you can hike to when it is hot enough to kill you.  The road you are driving will end at a T in the intersection of Amboy.  There is a light that sometimes works, sometimes doesn’t.  Town itself is interesting as it has been sold a few times.  Grand plans to remake it into a resort or reopen the hotel have fizzled over time. It’s only real use seems to be as a stop on the highway for soda and a part time film location.
Amboy... Sitting in the Sun


The road you are now on is part of old Route 66.  You can stop and take a picture if you want, where the road name is stenciled on the ground.  It isn’t used anymore in any meaningful way.  The freeway – Interstate 40 – took a route on the other side of the Amboy Hills.  This lonely section of the road is a reminder of how desolate that route used to be in parts.
Jane - Getting Her Kicks
The hills above Amboy - after a very wet winter.