Thursday, June 30, 2016

The World’s Challenges- Preface: Let’s Put to Rest the Idea that “Un-Educated” is Equal to Stupid

Once again today – in the paper and in print – are polls that show Donald Trump’s biggest lead in the Presidential Race is among those Americans who have only a High School Education.  Among those with a College Degree, Hilary is winning more and more votes.

The inference, sometimes called out sometimes not, is that stupid people are voting for Donald Trump.

Un-Educated or High School Diploma doesn’t mean stupid.  It simply means the person didn’t attend college.  Some people had to work to support families.  Some people had a great job out of High School and chose not to attend college.  Some people didn’t have the opportunity because of location or expense. Some people find their passion and challenge outside of college.

In different times, and in different parts of the country – these were/are perfectible understandable and valid choices. But once the original opportunity goes away, the next available opportunity for those “un-educated” people might be more limited.

And, while I disagree that Donald Trump is the “answer”, the problems of those without a college degree are quite real.  People without a college education face significant challenges in our new economy. 

In many cases, a college degree (or professional certification or the right school) is a pre-requisite just to get an interview.  And that has changed over the past decade or so.  I have a PMP certification (now) that hasn’t really taught me all that much.  But I needed it to continue to work in Project Management in New York financial industry despite having done the work for 15 years.

So as we look at what the hell is going on in the world, let’s not assume that High School Diploma or less equals stupid.

What an Amazing Event!

The reading of The Other Village at Fundamental Theatre Project's Mass Rhetoric last night was fantastic - and Project 1948 (and I) got to play a large part in it.

The play itself was inspiring.  It tells the story of a town that is isolated behind a giant wall, and every inhabitant of the town tries to acknowledge feelings, write them down and then move past them. There are no "stories", no metaphors and no figurative language.  They have done this to prevent anger and altercations and fighting.  Into this society a Syrian refugee washes up.  She has to tell her story not just to explain herself, but to bring people to action and to process what happened.

The Other Village then follows the effect of her truth on the town's residents.

After the reading, I participated in a talk back with the Author, Director, Founder of the Company and a cast member who lead the discussion.  I had the chance to explain that one of the key purposes of Project 1948 is to give voice to young people who may not have other ways of sharing or processing this information.

Many people in Bosnia don't want to, or can't acknowledge what happened in the past - or they cannot move beyond it.  Project1948 works with younger people to shape their inner voice - through photography and interviews - into something impactful that must be heard.  It was very rewarding for me.  The message resonated.

During the show, the backdrop (as you can see) included pictures from the Photo-Voice process of 2015.  Some people, unfamiliar with our work, asked how they can help and I look forward to moving Project1948's work forward.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Really? This is just Counter-Intuitional

I totally accept that Marijuana can have some very positive medical effects.  I don't understand HOW, but I get it helps with glaucoma.

And I totally understand the positive effects for pain and nausea.

But this one, well it runs counter to my understanding.

I mean I have talked to a lot of pot-heads who, when high, seem like they HAVE Alzheimer's.  So maybe it's true, but it sounds fishy to me.

Arg... It is Impossible to keep up with Donald Trump's Bad Ideas

Donald Trump just spoke in Pennsylvania (outside of Pittsburgh) about trade.  His populist appeal is undeniable, but even a few seconds thought should convince people otherwise.  I'll talk about the parallels in general historic terms later, because I think there is a lot people are missing in the mood of the country and world that have echoes from the past.

But this trade idiocy must be addressed.  Here is the general idea he is peddling, China (and Mexico and Japan) are cheating at free trade agreements, and he will come in a smack a 40% tariff on them right away.  Worse, this is something the President could reasonably do, at least until the courts inevitably snuff it out.

Here's the thing, this is - like - EXACTLY what moved the economic depression of 1930s into the Great Depression.  It was a short tariff war that prompted a gigantic crash in world trade and world output.

Sure, American could make everything we import, given the time to come up to speed.  But our tariffs will be matched by tariffs from other countries (not a huge deal) and by limits on American Services - financial and other (a HUGE deal).  Also, it isn't the trade deals that are putting Americans out of work - often.  The NY Times has a great story about job loses that aren't exclusively the result of trade deals, but a combination of lower cost production (sometimes but not always in China) and greater productivity by automation in America.

The high wage jobs lost in manufacturing in the 1950s aren't coming back, because they aren't there anymore.

Worse, a trade war with China will have follow on effects that he MUST know are horrible for the US.  During the Cold War with the Soviets, there was a policy of Mutually Assured Destruction - MAD.  The idea that any nuclear war would destroy us both.  In many ways, we have that same scenario with China on an economic front.  US consumers and US companies (internationally as well as domestically) drive the sales that China depends on.  Chinese bond purchasing drives the deficit spending that allows the US to afford an International Military system of 800 bases, a safety net for Medicare and Social Security and one of the lowest tax rates of an internationally powerful and well off economy.


Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Heartbreaking in Instanbul

The triple suicide bombing in Istanbul is a bit freaky. 

Eddie and I have been to the city a few times and I gone via that airport about 8 more times. It's how I go to Bosnia or Croatia. 

I worry that the wrong people will be blamed, as the government hates the Kurds. 

It is horrible. 

Monday, June 27, 2016

New York Pride March

Ready to start (our group handed out the Rainbow Sunglesses)
Eddie and I marched at New York Gay Pride Parade yesterday.  And it was great and moving and LONG.  Seriously, we didn't even start marching until 4:00 and were still marching at 6:30.  The parade itself started at Noon!

After a while "moving emotionally" morphs into "hurry up" through no fault of one's own.

But I am really glad we did it.  Here are some pictures.
Many of the LGBT Tennis marchers (the lights behind us were from Mt. Sinai Ambulance - part of Mt. Sinai's group). 
The Empire State Building (we were a little behind Macy's)
The corner of Gay Street and Christopher Street

The People on the ledge freaked Eddie out
Us with Eddie's Pride Shoes!

Friday, June 24, 2016

Hummm... This Doesn't Bode Well

A few months ago, storm clouds were on the horizon.  But, in my bringing them up to Ed he said, as he is normally correct in doing, "This shit won't happen.  Don't get freaked out."

It would be impossible for the police who "arrested" Freddie Gray without cause, and then drove him to the Police Station where he died to go completely unpunished.

Britain will never vote to leave the EU. It will cause chaos and they are too smart for that.

And, my favorite, Donald Trump will never be elected President.

If the trifecta hits, we are all screwed.

This Weekend at Gay Pride New York

Ed and I don't normally attend Gay Pride in NYC.  To be honest, it is not as fun as West Hollywood's Pride.  The "festival" kind of blows (in comparison) and LA's Dance starts right away - and in New York you have to have a Disco nap and go to the Pier Dance and that is all just too much work for an old guy like me.


But this year, Ed and I are marching.  We will be with Ed's Tennis group.  This year, after Orlando, I think it is important to stand up and tell everyone not to fuck with us.  We aren't going away or hiding.

I worked for 7+ years at a gay bar.  It was fun, sexy and I made friends that I cherish to this day.

But, I never forgot what The Revolver was for some patrons.  A haven, a small corner that was theirs.

I used to work Christmas Eve and Thanksgiving and I loved it.  I loved it because men and women would come in, sad - often rejected by their families and alone.  And we, me - the other bartenders and the customers, we would make them part of a family.  For a few hours they weren't alone and rejected, they were part of a group that was having fun, sharing experiences and supporting each other.  For a night or a few hours or even a few minutes, they were family.

And those people, we made it through AIDS, and votes to take away our rights, and hate.  I was lucky and had family and friends to help me through that.  But for some people, we in the Gay Clubs became their family and friends.

The shooting in Orlando tried to take that away.  And so here I am.  Marching in a Gay Pride event at 57 years old, my super non-6pack, with my husband and my comfortable family.  And I am marching to say you can't take that away from us.  Fuck you.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Our Hawk is Back

Our Hawk is back!!!

Perhaps some backstory is needed.  When we first moved up here, we found a hawk that hunted in our area around Morning Side Park.  We spotted him flying right in front of our window (we are on the 10th floor, and the park is way below us) on the look out for food.
The park as feeding grounds
When he got something, he and his mate would usually eat it over on the top of the old hospital, right outside our window.
Watching...  When they ate it was on the green gable behind.
Then one day, we didn't see him in his nest on top of the Cathedral outside oru window, St. John The Devine.
The nest he and his partner shared... (and where they are in the top picture)
But a few days later we read this, and knew it was our Hawk!
News story.
He shouldn't have been hunting in a strange neighborhood - but all is forgiven now.  Well, the good news is that about 5 days after that story, they released the hawk, and it was definitely ours.  As you can see from the very top picture, our Hawk and his mate are back in their nests.  We saw him flying by the last few days and could not be happier.

Funny how the simple things in life - even life itself, make you feel joy when news makes you feel like shit.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Good News & Fascinating News Today

Every Tuesday, the New York Times has a Science section.  And it can be fascinating.  Today, it is both fascinating and full of (happily) good news.

Last year I believe I may have written about the odd Saiga Antelope of Kazakhstan.  It is an almost prehistoric looking creature that suffered a lose of about 60% of their population and no one knew why.

The good news from today (link) is that they still aren't sure why it happened (they think it was the evolution of an old virus) - but it hasn't happened this year.  Either the bug wiped out all the at risk population or, like many human flus, it ran it's course.

In any case, the Saiga numbers are growing again.


The piece of fascinating news is about Coral and reproduction.  So corals occupy that weird borderline area between plants and animals.  They are organisms that grow and eat.  But they attach to other corals into a reef so they don't really "move" after attachment.

Well, this article is fascinating about how the release eggs and sperm to procreate.  Apparently they have to release the sperm and another coral releases the eggs within a couple of minutes of each other - or no conception.  When they do get together, the coral(ettes?) float on the tides until they find an appropriate reef to attach to.

Scientists have been trying to understand when this occurs (better to grow new corals).  It turns out it depends on the latitude of the reef, the temperature and the phase of the moon (but not so much the tides).  This last one freaked out the Scientists because corals have no eyes, so how can they tell a full moon.

Turns out (get this) well - I will let them explain:

The breakthrough came after Oren Levy, a young Israeli scientist, traveled to Australia to study at the University of Queensland. Dr. Levy was fascinated by a class of photoreceptors known as cryptochromes. Originally found in plants, they had also been identified among insects and mammals. Dr. Levy wondered if corals might possess the complex molecules as well.
In 2007, he and six other scientists from Australia, Israel and the United States reported in Science that corals do have primitive photoreceptors, if not true eyes. In experiments, they found that the photosensitive chemicals responded to moonlight as admirably as, well, human lovers.

Cool huh?

Monday, June 20, 2016

Took a Little Trip to the New York Conservatory Garden This Week-end

Eddie and bumbled around a bit this week-end.  We saw a couple of movies, but we also took a trip to the Central Park Conservatory Garden - which I do like.

The Conservatory Gardens are the more formal part of Central Park

They have hedges and mixed borders and lots of fountains. 

After that, we went to the Cooper Hewitt Design Museum and saw some mid-century designs I LOVED...

Sweet Audio Cabinet

A "Mod" (Modular) Radio from the 30s

A tricked out turntable and the outboard motor behind it.

Friday, June 17, 2016

My Review of Himself & Nora is Up (and no, it's not a Thin Man title)

Himself and Nora: A Musical Look at James Joyce

James Joyce, the author’s love for Nora and his journey to get published provides the structure of Himself and Nora. Some beautiful singing provides the breath and soul of the play. Wonderful performances by Matt Bogart (as Joyce) and Whitney Bashor (as Nora) bring these two characters to life. So the question becomes, why is the whole not better.
Himself and Nora isn’t a bad musical by any stretch. It is an involving story that sheds new light on the personality and struggles of the famous author, making him more human and accessible. For most of the two plus hours, it is almost a great show.
It starts with the irascible but charming James Joyce in Ireland, where he fights with his dad, buries his mom, rejects the Catholic Church and meets a charming young woman, Nora. Joyce and Nora share a remarkable emotional and sexual chemistry at the outset, but Joyce won’t marry. He won’t subject himself to the Catholic rite that approves of his choice. Nora, understanding the man she loves and willing to be a partner, not a wife, agrees to the arraignment.
Matt Bogart and Whitney Bashor in ‘Himself and Nora’ (Photo: Matthew Murphy via The Broadway Blog.)

Poor John McCain: First He Has to Support Trump (who doesn't think he is a hero) and Now This

John McCain:  Remember him?  He used to be a "straight shooter".  Come on, you remember.

"Misspoke" ... that's Washington-ese for "Caught Lying"
Well, after this latest Orlando shooting, he blamed President Obama personally.  Really, read it below.  I highlighted in yellow the multiple times he personally blamed Obama. (original - link)

Before you do, remember that President Obama was following the reduction of forces treaty NEGOTIATED by President George W Bush.  This wasn't President Obama's doing.  But, let's go on.

McCain answered the question about the gun debate by citing Obama’s culpability for the attack through his foreign policy: “Barack Obama is directly responsible for it, because when he pulled everybody out of Iraq, al-Qaeda went to Syria, became ISIS, and ISIS is what it is today thanks to Barack Obama’s failures,” McCain said. 
ISIS and ISIL are alternate terms for the Islamic State. 
When pressed by a reporter on the claim that Obama was “directly” responsible, McCain reiterated his point — that Obama should not have withdrawn combat troops from Iraq: “He pulled everybody out of Iraq, and I predicted at the time that ISIS would go unchecked, and there would be attacks on the United States of America,” he said. “It’s a matter of record, so he is directly responsible.

When the shit hit the fan, as it is wont to do when you accuse the President of being personally responsible for the terrorist murder of 49 innocent people in Orlando - he said he "misspoke".

Apparently Trump really is influencing his party.

And should you think this was a principled stand, which he took all along.  I refer you to his words AS President Obama fulfilled President Bush's treaty in 2010...

This does not seem to support his comment:
“He pulled everybody out of Iraq, and I predicted at the time that ISIS would go unchecked, and there would be attacks on the United States of America,” he said. “It’s a matter of record, so he is directly responsible.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Coco, Pam and Family Were Here last Week-end

Last week-end my cousin and her family were in New York.  Her mom (technically my aunt, but we are a little closer than that in age) and her sister stayed with Ed and I.

We had fun taking them around and hanging out.  They were excellent guests.

NRA - Clearing Up Some Misconceptions

The National Rifle Association has become more and more strident about never entertaining any gun control, gun licensing or gun background checks over time.  One would natural assume then that the NRA is moving from speaking for gun owners to speaking for the gun lobby.

In looking, I can't find any proof though that the income mix has changed, as least using 2004 as the earliest base time.

About half of the NRA's funds come from dues - this seems consistent.  The other half comes from a variety of incomes, most dependent on gun manufacturers (advertising in NRA magazine, donations from gun manufacturers, percentage of gun sales, etc).

What is interesting is that the NRA benefits from every mass shooting attack. After an attack, gun purchases go up (each contributing the bottom line directly), donations from gun manufactures go up to pay for lobby to stop any gun control and magazine enrollment spikes (helping directly and with advertising revenue).

The NRA also directly benefits anytime there is mention of gun control in terms of donations; to the point that the NRA actively misquotes positions to make it seem politicians want to "take away your guns".

So while it may seem odd to see Wayne La Pierre (the $1,000,000.00+ / year spokesman) gets more strident after each mass shooting - it makes financial sense.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

My review of Indian Summer is up

New post on What's On Off Broadway

Indian Summer Works It’s Magic Lightly

With Indian Summer, playwright Gregory S. Moss sets out to capture that fleeting moment of youth on the cusp of adulthood. The moment that feels impossibly real while it is happening and impossibly dreamlike in retrospect. It often succeeds. Indian Summer plays with time and memory like the sand dunes where the play is set - both real and permanent, but constantly shifting.
Owen Campbell portrays Daniel, a young man of 16 or so, left at his grandfather’s house on the Rhode Island beach in the summer for an indeterminate length of time by a flaky mother. Daniel, friendless and annoyed, takes to the beach to sulk, escape his grandfather and feel sorry for himself in that desperate way only the young can. But the beach throws up the detritus of life: his grandfather, marking time after the passage of his wife, a townie stuck in the rules of masculine preening and Izzy, the local girl that challenges and entrances him.
Elise Kibler and Owen Campbell in Indian Summer
Elise Kibler and Owen Campbell in Indian Summer
Elise Kibler gives life to Izzy. A native Rhode Islander with an Italian working class heritage that is perplexed by the skinny pale “summer people” with an attitude that is Daniel. Together they talk gently and long about life and their future and their dreams. Theirs is that first great summer infatuation filled with possibility, not only of the person you meet, but also of being bigger and more than you are right now. These two actors grow into that moment organically and honestly. One of the most touching moments is as they sit, back to back, role playing a distance future in which they meet with their respective partners.

Chris Christie wants to bomb the places related to the Orlando Terrorists. Where exactly?

Chris Christie wants to bomb the places related to the Orlando Terrorists.  Where exactly?

Queens NY, where he was born?
Port Lucie FL, where he lived?

Or the places where they have publically shown support for the Terrorist / Murderer?

Ramadi – Home of ISIS, who claimed him?
Sacramento CA – Where the Baptist Pastor Steven Anderson said there were “50 less pedophiles in the world today” ?
Austin TRX – Where the Lt. Gvnr tweeted out that you reap what you sow the immediately after the killings?
Washington DC or Augusta, GA – Where a week before the killings, Georgia Representative read a verse in conference that Homosexuals are worthy of death?

Just curious where Chris Christie thinks the problem is.