Friday, May 29, 2015

This Week in Clown Car News

My favorite, Ben Carson, was quiet this week.  Apparently  realizing that his tremendous lack of foreign affairs background means he should do a little less flapping his gums and a little more studying.  Hopefully he’ll be back soon.
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So let’s see what’s up this week.

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Scott Walker, the great white hope of the right decided to sign a law banning all abortions after 20 weeks, including those occurring by rape or incest.  This adds to his ultrasound wand requirement, the waiting period and the closing of clinics.  So all you ladies who were raped (by a relative or not), get ready to give birth!  Of course, some in Wisconsin didn’t want the exception of “life of the mother” either.  Maybe next year.
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Carly Fiorino, not having enough press what-so-ever, decided to heckle Hillary Clinton in South Carolina.  It did not go well.
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Chris Christie is grasping at straws.  He is now against Common Core and says Obama is “fooling us again”.  He was, of course, a vocal early advocate of Common Core.
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Rand Paul pulled a twofer (not pictured this week - booo).  He went on Jon Stewart and evaded questions admirably (link).  He staged a 11 hour filibuster regarding government spying that annoyed all of his Republican Senatorial colleagues and got him called a grandstanding salesman on Fox.  Ouch.
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Jeb Bush isn’t running for President.  Technically.  You see he can’t coordinate with his SuperPAC if he says he is running for President.  Actually he did say the words "I am running for President because...", but since it wasn’t part of an “official announcement”, he got “take-back-skis”.
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The incest / child molesting Duggar Family (19 and Counting) was the subject of a rare disagreement in the field.  Mike Huckabee backed them with the old “He has asked for, and been given forgiveness from the Lord.”. The are old Arkansas hucksters friends, so that is to be expected.
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Rick Santorum, in a stunning display which I agree with (that is the stunning part) said he was sickened by the actions of the Duggars.
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Finally I leave you with the announcement of candidacy by George Pataki.  Because the field was missing a 6’5” liberal New York Republican in the race.  He announced last night and promptly went to New Hampshire for the Official Announcement Today!  Where he misidentified the city he was in, which always engenders faith in the residents of Exter New Hampshire (link).

My Review of An Act Of God - with Jim Parsons

I reviewed it on my Off-Broadway Web site.  I liked it.
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LINK
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Jim Parsons (as God) and Christopher Fitzgerald (as archangel Michael) in An Act of God

Donald Trump 2016!!

Let's Go Donald Trump!!!
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Why?
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Living on the West Coast I never understood the hatred and vitriol directed at the Trump-myster.  However, live in New York longer than a week and a half, and you get it.  The guy is an unmitigated gas-bag who won't shut up about anything.  Particularly poor people, since he blames them for being poor. This is a man who has declared bankruptcy over and over, but has the means to hide and protect millions of dollars.
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When real people go bankrupt, they lose almost everything.  When Trump goes bankrupt, he sells seminars on how to do it for $50,000 a pop.
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But if he runs, maybe Stewart stays a little longer.  It won't last (Trump doesn't run, there is no money in it, he pretends to run, where the money is), but it is a fun thought.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

I Love the Clinton Foundation - I Have Donated

Donating to the Clinton Foundation has suddenly taken on some terrible connotations.  And that is incredibly sad.  The Foundation does amazing work.
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And if people used it to try to ingratiate themselves to Hillary - screw it.  Sheldon Anderson gave over $100 million because Newt Gingrich gave him a woody by saying the right things about Israel.  The Koch Brothers are going to spend upwards of $800 million (by their own comments) to get a Republican elected.
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Fine.
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But the Clinton Foundation actually does shit.  Shit that is great and needed.  Here are some things they do:
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They have worked throughout the Caribbean to help local artisans, farmers and workers.  Within the same area, they have supported increased and improved supply chains Acceso Oferta Local Productos del Caribe (Acceso Local Offer – Products of the Caribbean). There they have also built industrial parks AND trained women for sales skills.  That is a cohesive plan to help a region from production, through distribution to consumption.
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They have developed new farming methods, product delivery and supported new farmers in Malawi (link).
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They have partnered with local countries to increased Malaria and HIV funding, prevention and care. They spent over $1 Billion dollars in 2010 on Malaria.  Now some of these areas (and the funds) are moving from treatment to prevention.
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They have specifically worked on preventing HIV spread from mother to child.
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Look, you can hate on Hillary and Bill and Chelsea all you want.  But when you pony up a billion dollars to fight Malaria, or hundreds of millions to build sustainable economies,  well when that happens, then I will listen to you trash the Clinton Foundation.  Right now, that means I would take shit from Bill Gates and Warren Buffet.
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I feel much the same way about World Vision, a very Christian organization that I support.  They work with impoverished children around the world.  Yes, they are mildly anti-gay, but they do great stuff.  Eddie and I donated big during the Nepal quake because they were already there, working on the ground with children and had doctors and hospitals.
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You don't have to agree with the politics of people that do great work.  And I fear that associating Hillary with the Clinton Foundation will lessen their ability to do amazing work.
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Sad.


Slimy, Stupid, Serious - Which Has Received the Most Coverage

Today we look at three stories from the last few days.  Let's start left to right (and remember they are "Slimy, Stupid and Serious" in order.
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SLIMY
Rand Paul was on Jon Stewart.  He was kind of funny, but very slippery.  Jon asked him a few times about the "religious liberty" exemption people want.  Rand agreed that things could be protected, even if he seriously disagreed with them, but they were legal.  Their example in this was the Ground Zero Mosque.  Rand then argued the whole, bakers-shouldn't-have-to-bake-a-cake-for-a-gay-wedding thing.  To which Jon asked, "Can they claim that if it is their profession? Do don't ask anyone else if they are sinners?  Do they ask everyone if they have taken the Lord's name in vain."
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Rand Paul then didn't answer the question for a minute, connected unrelated dots.  He brought this around to "can a corporation have a religion" then to "is a corporation a person" and ultimate said, "This is why it all comes back to the Patriot Act."
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The audience applauded, as did I; his feat of verbal gymnastics to avoid answering the question was stupendous.  Unfortunately Rand used that applause to stop talking and never answered the question at all.  Which was slimy but political.
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STUPID
Josh Duggar, when probably around age 14 - 16, molested a quite a few young girls, including at least one of his many many sisters (he is one of the children of the show "19 and counting" about a religious family with 19 kids).  His father downplayed it to a local policeman and didn't report it.  Although they did believe it was serious enough to send him to rehab.  Years later (after the statue of limitations expired) one of the girls related this information via the Oprah Winfrey show.
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The current media storm is driven, in part, by Josh Duggar's position as head of the Family Research Council.  And his laser focus of that group on the drive to end Same Sex Marriage.
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Many religious people have gone to idiotic lengths to justify what happened - both by the parents (who had the media power to bury it) and the sexual actions of Josh.  They do this primarily as a reaction to the hyperactive press which loves a scandal and what they see as an attack on religion.
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I choose not to deal with this sad situation because it completely avoids discussion of what happened to the girls he molested.  He is an admitted child molester and shouldn't be the focus of this beyond contempt and prosecution.
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Defending and attacking Josh Duggar is a waste of time as it has become a political issue somehow.  The take-away here, however is this.  If you are a  child molester, you should immediately embrace God and denounce fags.  Then you get a free pass from a large swath of the country.  Although you might have to move to Arkansas to get away with it (California and other states have no sexual molestation statue of limitations because of the Catholic Church's actions.)
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SERIOUS
And then there is the story that gets near-zero press (LINK).  The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a measure that up-ends our 200 year old history on the ways legislative districts are drawn.**
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As specified in the Constitution, there is a census every 10 years.  Based on this census, legislative districts are drawn.  Except for the disgusting issue of slavery (where slaves were counted as 3/5's of a person), everyone in the district is counted: women, children, citizens and non-citizens alike, as a free person, "... excluding Indians (which are) non-taxed".
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This has occasionally been challenged and is always been upheld as 1 man 1 vote. ***  Now there is a challenge in Texas that only eligible voters should count towards a district.  The idea is that more non-citizens live in some states and urban areas, so the rural areas should get more votes.
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At a cursory level, I understand the feeling.  Why should non-citizens be apportioned to a "1 man 1 vote".  But ...  Gez, where to begin?
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First, what do you do with felons, who may get the right to vote back?  How do you know the non-citizens don't naturalize?  What about children who aren't of voting age yet, but will be before the next census?
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And the Census.  The Republicans continually cut back on the census funding (because the better it is, the more non-citizens it finds).  And many conservatives will not answer any questions but person count (because that is what the Constitution says).  Now you want to know: Who is a citizen versus a non-citizen.  Who is eligible to vote?  For eligibility, do you count registered or available to register?  Felons in some states can't vote, in other states they can, in other states it depends on the crime.  IN some states the mentally disabled can't vote, in some they can.  The cenxus now needs all this data?
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And what of children. Now you need the ages of children.  If someone is 15 when the districts are created (which occurs every 10 years) are they a potential voter or not?  Or are they 7/10's of a voter (since they can vote 7 of the 10 years).
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It is silly and the Supreme Court has taken it for the sole reason that it would help Republicans and we have a crazy political Supreme Court now.
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Oye.
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** I think it is scary that they may overturn our history for this political ploy.  I do want to acknowledge that many people probably think the same thing about gay marriage.  I would argue that societal changes - including women rights, interracial marriage and children's rights have also changed over 200 years of court interpretation and are not equivalent.  However I acknowledge that an argument can be made that political changes can also be reflected by the court.  I think this cannot be argued that way.

***Another difference from Gay Marriage - which was not adjudicated in the past.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Just For Scooter

This is so insane, I must go off a little.  You don't have to indulge.  This is for me.
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This is some crazy ass bullshit.  Sure it is his "opinion", but it is so bat-shit crazy, you (I'm looking at New York Times) might think twice about printing it.
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AMONG liberals, it’s almost universally assumed that of the two major parties, it’s the Republicans who have become more extreme over the years. That’s a self-flattering but false narrative. [SM: Well "self-flattering" is pretty negative and used here to set a tone.  In fact, many liberals have become saddened by the fact that we think Republicans have become too extreme to support.  ALSO, notice how he comparing Republicans and Liberals - not Republicans and Democrats).

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Coe Hall and the Plantings Field State Park

The second home we visited yesterday was a state park, but an excellently preserved Gold Coast home.  The home was owned by William Coe (a British insurance tycoon) and Mai Huttleston Rogers Coe - an heiress.  Her family was a prime partner in Standard Oil and the sole owner of a incredibly profitable railway that delivered coal from (now West) Virginia to the coast for shipment.
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Anyway, they built this property  along with mammoth greenhouses and gardens.  It was very very cool.
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Entrance to the Hall

The entryway.  I liked the flowers.  But notice all the Queen Elizabeth tat around.  These Long Island families loved the Brits.

A View into Mr. Coe's study.
There were two rooms that were particularly fascinating I thought.   The first was the breakfast room, off the main dining hall.  The Dining Hall could hold a banquet for 50, but the breakfast room was smaller and more intimate.
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Around the room was a mural by a very famous (at the time) muralist Robert Chanler.  The family had a ranch in Wyoming and the father wanted a mural that would remind him of their time out west.  This Buffalo mural was painted, and the deeps golds are actually gold in the paint.  It was very impressive.  The ranch itself was purchased from Buffalo Bill Cody!

Reminder of the ranch.
Another of Robert Chanler's mural was in Mrs. Coe's bedroom. She had the cash and she was not a fan of subtle.  She had macaws and loved birds, so this was her bedroom mural.
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Yep, it goes to the ceiling.
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The grounds and greenhouses are amazing and in great shape.
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The Italian Garden

Azaleas / Rhododendrons in bloom.

The greenhouse

The main greenhouse.


Monday, May 25, 2015

Mill Neck House Long Island

This week-end we traveled out to the "Gold Coast" of Long Island. That part of the Island that was the summer get away for the robber barons of New York in the 1920s ish.
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This house was owned by a cosmetics heiress.  She built a faux Tudor, with a lot of furnishings from England exported between WW1 and WW2.
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The house was later donated to a school for the deaf, so it has changed very little.  It is not usually open, but they had a "Designer Showcase" this week-end that was very cool.  So the entire house was open.  Lovely.
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Entrance to the House

Back deck, with a view of Long Island Sound

Another view of the front

A Fireplace from England.

Detail from the FirePlace.  Cool huh?  14th century (supposedly)

These windows were made for the house, they are from various Shakespeare plans

Now Class: What do we learn from this?

Let us assume, for simplicity sake, that the Secretary of State was correct when he said that (paraphrasing) the Iraqi Army did not put up much of any fight for Ramadi.  He said that the Iraqi Army, which we have trained and equipped, didn't fight - but instead left the battle.
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Now, from this result we can make postulate some intelligent results (particularly when contrasted with Kurdish results):
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1) The Iraqi Army isn't concerned with holding Ramadi
2) US money and training don't overcome Iraqi lack of interest in holding this city (and quite possible many others)
3) This "fight" isn't worth losing their lives over to them.  (Question: So why is it "worth" losing American lives over?)
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Now, what many of our Congress people have apparently learned is:
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John McCain “George W. Bush at least had the guts to reverse and respond with the surge. I wish, I pray, Barack Obama would do the same thing,” link
To which I ask, "If the Iraqis won't fight for Ramadi, why should we?"
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Former Bush Officials testified to Congress that we need 20,000 troops right now to fight ISIS.  These were the architects of the surge and want a new surge.  They found a Congress that agrees. (link)
To which I say, the architects of the surge ORIGINALLY (2007) said it was a short term solution to give Iraqis breathing room for their own fights.  It didn't work then over the long term, why would it work now?
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Presidential Candidate Lindsey Graham would like an additional 10,000 Americans there right now. (link) .
As near as I can figure, because it is a nice round number.
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Other, less reasonable Presidential Candidates are spouting horse-shit, but that is because their comments are consequence free.  Pay them no mind.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Reminders of my Youth

The oil spill in Santa Barbara is, hopefully, not nearly as bad as the one in my youth.  In 1969, the famous Santa Barbara spill occurred.
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And for years, YEARS, there was tar on the sands of the beach of LA.  Seriously, after leaving the beach, you had to hose off and scrub before you could go inside.  You wouldn't have any idea of that now, the beaches and oceans all better.
See the black blobs, that was my youth.
That is what makes this so sad.
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I Hope Not

Why?  Assuming this is true, why?
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I mean in reading the article, it seems that they are planning on fighting ISIS anyway, so they want to start.
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But why are we fighting ISIS? Why are we in a hurry to shove our people into a war to kill others and be killed?  Our war-lust created this clusterf*ck.  Do we really think running in, killing a bunch of people and running out will help anything?
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And, if they want to fight, stop asking Obama.  Ask Congress to authorize the war.  Ask Congress to make this a reality.  That is the Constitution.

Bosnia Book: Jajce

After leaving Sarajevo I travelled to Jajce.
(why this see link)



Jajce 
You may be forgiven for not hearing of Jajce, Bosnia Herzegovina yet, but you will.  This beautiful town, perched in the Dinaric Alps, offers ample opportunity for outdoor activities year round, and a remarkable old town waiting to be discovered.  It boasts the (self proclaimed) twelfth most beautiful waterfall the world, right on the edge of the old town.  Why twelfth, no one knows.

Top, the Citadel sits on the top of the hill.  Lower left, a path leads from the Citadel down to the city below.  Lower right is the coat of arms of the last Bosnian King.
This Royal Town was the last holdout of the Bosnian Kings, finally falling to the Ottoman Empire in 1463.  Layer upon layer of history is found; from a Mithraic Temple of the Romans, through the Bosnian Kings, the Ottoman Empire, the Austria-Hungarian Empire, the creation of Yugoslavia to the Bosnian war.  What is left behind is an abundance of sights and sounds in an extremely walk able town.

The Citadel of Stjepan Tomašćević, the last Bosnia King, is perched atop the hill above old town.  It can be visited from 10:00 – 3:00 PM but one of the wonders of this still lightly visited country is the warmth of it’s people.  I arrived after 3:30 and was directed to homeowner just below the castle, who had the keys to the gate to let me in to wander.  The Royal Coat of arms, looking suspiciously like Davy Jones from the second Pirates of the Caribbean movie, stands out in relief from the Castle doorway.
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Above, the ruins of the Church of St. Luke. Lower left is the Gate of Travnik (which is an old city on the road between Jajce and Sarajevo)  lower right, the road up to the main gate of the Citadel.
After wandering through the Castle, I took the slow walk down the ramparts to view the city spread out and the River Vrbas far below.  Then I wandered through old town to the Gate of Travnik, a 15th Century fortification with 17th Century addition of a Ottoman siege house.  Just through the Gate, is the path to the Jajce Waterfalls.

The Tower of St. Luke still stands above the ruins of the church of Holy Mary.  Built in the 15th century, the last Bosnian Queen was said to have brought the relics for this church with her dowry.  The walls still stand, and with  the Romanesque Tower piercing the sky.  Next to the Tower, the Museum of Jajce is housed in one of the Austrian governmental buildings.  
It is a remarkable amount of styles and features in a short stretch of road. 
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The Mosque (I drove that little black VW in the far right of the picture)
Just down the path is the magnificent Esma Sultana Mosque, who’s minaret can been taken in from the same view.  The local story is that a beautiful Sultana was married to a Bosnian vizier.  The Sultana fell ill and was fortold that if she built a Mosque where “the two rivers become one” she would be cured.  She paid for the building with an dazzling (and expensive) earring and started construction immediately.  Unfortunately, the Sultana but did not live to see if completed in 1753.  The elegance and the beauty of the building is said to keep her memory alive.  It is one of the most beautiful mosques in the region.
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During the Bosnian war Jajce changed hands many times, but all three major ethnic groups are moved back to the city and live peacefully side by side, the Bosnian Croats, the Bosniak (Muslims) and the Bosnian Serbs.  

The city of Jajce sits in an area that is only now beginning to reach its full tourist potential.  In the winter, the ski slopes are excellent, the Sarajevo Winter Olympics were held nearby and the slopes are empty compared to other Alpine destinations.  In the summer river rafting, mountain biking and mountaineering are all next-door.  Bosnia Herzegovina has introduced English as a requirement for school, so it s easy to get by with a smile and broken English.  The openness of the people means you will meet a friend almost anytime you try.

Jajce is a two hour drive from Sarajevo, or a three hour drive Split in Croatia.  It makes the perfect hub for a vacation in the region, with Mostar, Banja Luka and the sights of Central Bosnia within easy day reach.  It is one of those places I would encourage people to go for a surprising stay.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Is This a Bizarre Coincidence, or Mormon Propaganda? UPDATED

UPDATE: So my question was answered.  Apparently Brandon Flowers is a big fan of this music and sampled it because he loved it.  Not for any other reason.  Which is cool.
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Let me start with the comment.  I love Brandon Flowers.  I have purchased both his solo albums and the Killer albums (his group).
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But this song is either propaganda or a really bizarre choice.  I say Mormon propaganda because a few years ago Brandon Flowers did a big "I'm Mormon" campaign as part of their outreach.
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It is "I Can Change", about changing who he is for a woman.  Which is great and all.  But he samples Jimmy Somerville's "Small Town Boy" which is about a young man who kicked out his home because he is gay.
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"I Can Change" - Brandon Flowers

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"Small Town Boy" - Bronski Beat (Jimmy Somerville)

Science: Not the Worst news

Humm..

Could be worse...
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Blood Moon - Blood Moon - where did I hear that recently?

The crazies have found yet another signifier that the end of times is nigh.  Verily, unto the Blood Moon... nutzos start your engines of doom.
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Now this story is from Salon, but the book and nuttiness is real.  I though Salon was hilarious on this, so I quote some of the article.
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“Blood moons,” which is a gussied-up way of naming your garden-variety lunar eclipse, “have preceded world-changing, shaking-type events,” says Rep. Jody Hice of Georgia, a man constitutionally permitted to vote in one of the world’s most powerful legislative bodies. Legislation, accords, Security Council Resolutions, military aid packages — why consider this mere terrestrial ephemera when you can just go out into your backyard and consult the moon?
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But all of that was merely prelude to the tetrad currently underway. The third blood moon fell in April, and the final prophetic moon will occur in late September. This tetrad, according to the prophecy, signals the beginning of the end of the world. Something bad happens to Israel, yada yada yada, then God turns out the lights and shutters the physical universe.
There is, if you think about it, a bizarre strain of anti-patriotism at work in how these conservative Christians denounce America and extol Israel in the prophecy: America’s lost moral compass (gays can get married some places, I guess?) has angered God, while Israel’s aggressive stance in the region pleases Him. The (quite false) narrative of existential crisis for Israel compounds God’s anger at the U.S. for our wayward path, and the fourth blood moon is the tolling of a final bell. It is pro-Israel America-hating, in a way.
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The impending doom even impelled Anne Graham Lotz, daughter of Rev. Billy Graham, to issue a call for a seven-day “mayday” prayer offensive, happening this week, to appeal to God, with this warning to motivate:
“Institutions will collapse. Banks will close. The Stock Market will plunge. Planes will fall out of the sky. Cars will crash on the road. Government in America at every level will disintegrate. Families will be torn apart. In the unprecedented turmoil, our nation will be vulnerable for our enemies to seize the moment and attack us. There will be mass chaos, confusion, fear, grief, despair, anger, threats, danger… judgment.”
Yikes, Anne. That sounds unpleasant.
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The prophecy and its increasingly arcane calculus stand in strange relation to the coincident right-wing rejection of science. The actual, impending threat to humanity, global warming, is considered a “hoax,” an invention out of whole cloth, while the color of the moon and the spotty wisdom of goat herders from 3,000 years ago is stitched together into some kind of astro-hermeneutics, used to determine whether or not October happens.
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Reading this I was amused, you know until I read that our government officials buy into this shit.  But then I realized, that's all crap.  I mean the candidates for President are all pitching their tent in the shadow of Crazy Pastor here, but none of them have stopped running because the big man is going to round us all up come September.
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Ah-hah!  
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Now I remember where I heard about the blood moon.  In the latest Little Red Riding Hood movie, a Werewolf that bites you (but doesn't kill you) during a Blood Moon turns the bite-ee (Werebitten?, Wolfchow?) into second said Werewolf.  Which is just about as reasonable to me as Pastor Crazy Cheeks going off.
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If you want your own copy to freak out over, search for this book (also available in Audio Books complete with spooky sound effects).

Bosnia Book: And We Leave Sarajevo

Bosnia Book Contnd.  Why? link
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Sarajevo from Castle Hill.  
Modern Sarajevo – And Reminders of the War
Sarajevo is now a teeming city, most of it rebuilt, expanded and attempting to forget the Siege that killed so many.  New shopping centers, rebuilt hotels and a vibrant business district lure business men and locals.  But all over town a few reminders still linger.  Without dwelling on the past, these places are worthy of a visit to see how far the city and the people have come.
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The Latin Bridge, where ArchDuke Ferdinand was assassinated and World War I began.
The Latin Bridge
One of the most famous and infamous sights in all of Sarajevo is also one of the least impressive.  The Latin Bridge was the location of the assignation of Franz Ferdinand, the heir to the Austrian throne.  It was his assassination, by Serbian Gavrilo Princip, in hopes of incorporating Bosnian into greater Serbia, that was the immediate trigger to World War I.   Before the Bosnian War, the bridge was named Princip Bridge, it is now the Latin Bridge.  A small museum sits on the Old Town side that describes the day and recreates the scene.
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New grave markers line the front of Ali Pasha’s Mosque.
Ali Pasha's Mosque
A wide street fronts the Ali Pasha’s Mosque, built in 1560.  Across the street is a hill park, which is peaceful and green, even in winter.  But the hill above this used to be home for snipers by the score.  Ali Pasha’s Mosque was an outpost during the Siege.  The front courtyard contains an array of new marble columns, the headstones for those killed.  It is a simple reminder of what price the population paid for their city.
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A Famous Tito statue - draped in police tape

The Museum of Bosnia Herzegovina
This Museum now houses the history of the Siege of Sarajevo.  Most of the upper floor has been turned over to how people survived the Siege.  It doesn’t dwell on the killings as much as the efforts of the people of Sarajevo to cope with the lack of necessities.  The museum has invited the citizens to donated items from the time and an eclectic and heartbreaking collection of civic detritus is the result.  At the entrance of the space information about the war crimes and prosecutions greet the visitor.  It is a emotional sight.
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The Library on a foggy night.  
The Sarajevo Library
At the far end of the city, the beautiful Moorish Revival Sarajevo Library stands, majestic but closed.  In an attempt to erase history, the Serbian forces fire bombed the National Library and then fired on any people that tried to extinguish the fire.  Over three million documents and volumes were destroyed, including almost all dating from the Ottoman or Austrian period.  It was an attempt to destroy the culture of Bosnia, and thereby eliminate the argument that and “independent Bosnian” should function.  It stands, day and night, as a silent reminder of the spirit of those that defended the city.
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Top row: Memorabilia from Sarajevo Games including the mascot which is prevalent in the city. Lower left, the Sarajevo emblem.  Lower right, a gift from the LA Olympics to Sarajevo - the sculpture sits in front of the LA Olympic Stadium (the Coliseum) 
The Museum of the 1984 Olympics
Calling this a Museum is pushing at the limits of the definition, but the Sarajevo games were memorable to me.  Those games took place in 1984, the same year as the second Los Angeles Summer Olympics.  I attended the LA games, and knew lots of members of the team.  I also attended the Beijing Summer and Vancouver Winter Olympics, so I have a soft spot in my heart for Olympic Museums.  Ed and I visited the Venue for the Montreal Games, the Berlin Games, the Athens Games and more.  So I jumped at the chance to see the Sarajevo Olympic Museum.  
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The Museum is housed in the 1984 Stadium where the Opening Ceremonies were held.  It is now home to the National Sports committees.  It was said to be open until 3:30 and I arrived at 3:15 and asked.  A nice woman – Bosnia is filled with amazingly accommodating people, took me into a large room, which was set up for a Press Event the next day (the Futbol team had qualified for the World Cup) and turned on the lights.  She asked me to be careful, and let me roam around the room.  In display case after display case were the mementos of those 1984 games.  Scattered about with them were also reminders of the Los Angeles Games of that summer.  It was a little surreal wandering through these reminders of 1984.  The Sarajevo Games were hosted by Yugoslavia, which would disintegrate less than a decade later.  I ran the gamut of emotions that I won’t try to explain, (I would just sound silly).  But for a moment, time seemed to fold in on itself, so much had happened in the 30 years since those games.  An impossible amount of history, both my personal history and this city and country I was standing in.  It was disconcerting, but I was happy.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Well, it might be because you give them $3,000,000,000.00 a Year for Defense


Georgia Representative just completed his first trip to Israel.  He had wondrous things to say (LINK)
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Let's take a small example, shall we?
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Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-GA) recently completed an 11-day trip to Israel — his first international CODEL (a congressional delegation trip) — and he loved what he saw.
“The whole time we were there, of course, we had security with us,” he said in an interview on the Family Research Council’s radio show “Washington Watch.” “But there was no restrictions on travel, we never felt threatened one bit, unless you’re threatened by the merchants in the Old City trying to get you to come in their shops! In fact, I can say that we felt safer in Israel than we would in certain parts of New York City or Chicago.”
“Yeah, or Baltimore, I would think, as well,” added host Tony Perkins.
“Exactly!” laughed Loudermilk.
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I am guessing that Baltimore, New York or Chicago would be safer if you gave them $3Billion dollars with no strings to use for safety.
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Dipshit.

Eurovision - Start Your Engines

Why the box?
Eurovision begins tonight - actually today in the states, but you know what I mean.
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Eurovision is that delightfully silly-ass competition of songs but country in Europe.  This year with a special appearance by Australia!
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Anyway, I love the silly thang.  Today and Thursday are the semi-finals where the reduce the number of groups from crazy chaos to crazy manageable.

This year's pre-campaign favorite is  Måns Zelmerlöw from Sweden.  I can't tell if he is trying for the lay-about casual look that the Trivago Man pulls off, or if he is just lazy.
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His song isn't bad and the video really does help you follow the words.
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Bosnia Book Cntd: The Old Church and the Synagogue (Sarajevo)

Unassuming exterior of the Old Church
Built in 1539, on even older foundations, the Old Orthodox Church is fascinating.   It is an unassuming building on the outside, set just off a major street.  The small and (in the winter) unattractive grounds host this church that seems regal on the inside.  But it isn’t just the beauty of the site that surprised me, but the age of the structure and the fact it has housed an Orthodox Church for almost 500 years.


The Ottoman Empire was tolerant of non-Muslim inhabitants and religions for most of its rule.  To advance in the ranks of government and bureaucracy, conversion was important, but for the people day to day, the Ottoman’s were quite supportive of other religions.  This Church was built during Ottoman rule and has stayed Orthodox ever since.  The delicate interior belies the humble exterior.

Sarajevo also supplied a sanctuary for the Sephardic Jews fleeing the Inquisition.  The first Synagogue was founded in 1581.  It was destroyed by fire and rebuilt repeatedly until the famous Sephardic Synagogue of 1932 was built.  It was destroyed by the Nazi’s in 1941.

The Ashkenazi Synagogue was built in 1902, when the Ashkenazi community came to Sarajevo with the Austrian Empire.  It still stands in the Moorish Revival style popular in the early 1900s.  (A style shared with the Sarajevo Library and Civic buildings in Mostar).  The two variants of Judaism lived peacefully in Sarajevo for many years.  Sarajevo once boasted a large Jewish population of Sephardic and Ashkenazi people, until both were decimated by the holocaust.  Sarajevo’s Jewish population now numbers less than 6,000.
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Top and lower left, interior of the Old (Orthodox) Church.  Lower Right, the Ashkenazi Synagogue