Friday, June 30, 2017

Now to make a shit sandwich worse

So, today's shit sandwich is the US Middle East Policy. And the shit-stirrer in chief is (wait for it) President Trump.

Playing the role of the "adults" in this story are his Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, and his Secretary of Defense, (General) Jim Mattis.

When the President traveled to Saudi Arabia this year, he gave defacto concurrence to taking the Sunni side in the Sunni / Shia aka Saudi Arabia / Iran conflict. This made no sense on multiple levels.

Past Presidents, both Republican and Democratic, have tried to stay relatively neutral on this situation. There are lots of reasons, but we can start with the fact in Syria we are fighting ISIS (a Sunni organization) and are de facto allies with Iran.

Another great reason is that Saudi Arabia is the chief exporter of Wahhabi-ism, the most virulent anti-Western form of Islam.

But if Obama liked anything, Trump must hate it. So he did a little impotent sword dance* and gave his blessings to the King.

Saudi Arabia then turned immediately and has threatened Qatar. The President, with his great depth of Middle East knowledge applauded that action and took credit for enabling it.


Well, Qatar (1) hosts our Naval Port in the Persian Gulf, (2) hosts our Air Force Base for supporting our troops in Syria and Iraq - and the origin for our bombing ISIL. It has the only (3) free press in the Middle East (outside of Israel). It (4) is useful whenever the US wants an off-the record discussion with a nation or group we can't talk to  like (used to date for discussions with) (5) Iran and (6) the Taliban. It also (7) hosts our NATO ally, Turkey's, military base in the region.

Our Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense both are trying to discuss this situation and fix it. The President has, repeatedly, trashed Qatar and taken credit for isolating it. It isn't that Trump is stupid, it is that he is actively ignorant of the facts on the grounds and refuses to learn them or ever admit to an error.


*Sword dance in need of a case of viagra...

Thursday, June 29, 2017

It Appears the NRA is Getting Ready for a Civil War?

This is the new NRA (National Rifle Association) ad. You may think it is over the top (it is, in fact, f*cking MILES over the top) - but there is a reason.

You see they expected Hillary Clinton to win. And putting a Clinton in was a guaranteed boost for gun sales. Because they exploit this whole "The Democrats will take your guns away" mind set. They did the same with Obama and gun sales soared.

Well Trump won and gun sales have flatlined.

So this. They are arguing for civil war. It is fucked up.

If I Were A Cynic...

If I were a cynic, I would be worried about what happens tomorrow, Friday - July 30th.

We're about to go on a 4 day week-end with lots of fireworks, hot dogs and American patriotism. A 3 day week-end is always a good time to drop a political bomb and a 4 day national holiday is even better.

So, if I were a cynic, I would expect some combination of firing Robert Muller, releasing an update Senate health care bill and / or announcing a Russian action (either giving them back their compounds or a full on meeting planned for the G20) in the next 36 hours.

A New View of the Dorilton

So I have taken quite a few pictures of the Dorilton, because it is this gorgeous French Chateau type building at 72 and Broadway. But coming out of the subway yesterday I saw a new view and I liked it.

Detail of the 4th floor pediment
Below are the normal views of the Dorilton - both now and when it was built in 1902.
Except for the shades (removed when Air Conditioning went it) it hasn't really changed much at all.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

I Was Thinking Today About Jonathan Livingston Seagull

So I was thinking about something complete different today, and Jonathan Livingston Seagull popped into my brain. Because, in the first few iterations, the images were so simple, the message so simple that it struck a chord in lots and lots of people. Myself included.

And everyone read it, and everyone was touched.

And then the movie came out. And Neil Diamond released a song about him.

And we realized that the voice in our head, and the deep message it brought to us individually, was best left in our head. On screen, or out loud, the deep meanings were simplistic and self-involved.

And the movie took the messages, almost verbatim, and put them on screen - where they sat and festered and made us all feel like idiots.

The movie was bad Disney on Acid. And we all know, if your going to watch Disney on Acid, watch good Disney on Acid - Fantasia

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Mitch McConnell is Clever as Hell

So the Senate Health Care Bill (TrumpCare) is - as one commentator put it - same shitburger, different bun as the House Bill.

And it has faced some real opposition in the Senate. Two Senators that think it is too mean, four Senators that think it is too nice.  President Trump is ready to throw up his hands and let ObamaCare fail.

Now ObamaCare will fail ONLY if the government does not agree to pay an overage fallback that the Obama Administration did pay, which it has promised. These are currently being dealt with in courts, but if Trump doesn't agree to pay them, then ObamaCare has a real problem.

However, as McConnell now says, it will be a Republican problem. Trump believes he can pin it on the Democrats. McConnell says that since Republicans control all of government, they will get the blame.

So, in order to avoid this AND to force Republicans to vote for this bill, he has said that if the current Senate Health Bill fails, then Republicans have to work with the Democrats to save ObamaCare. And the resulting bill will be a hell of a lot worse that this one - i.e. it will cost more and mean less tax cuts. AND the Republicans will then own ObamaCare.

It's a clever tactic, let's see if it works.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Yes, I Know I Do Romanticize California Too Much, But Really, TICKS!!!!

Sure, people are tired of me telling them how Southern California is great, but in this case it really is. Really.

Southern California doesn't have ticks. Now, you may think I am making this up, but I am not. It's too damn dry.

When I had the first two dogs (Ashford and Hastings), they were acquired in Northern California, and vaccinated in San Mateo. The Vet talked about tick diseases that I had to understand because they didn't have them in LA.

I loathe ticks. I actually loathe anything that gets stuck under my skin: ticks, splinters, mosquitoes - they freak me out.


Sunday, June 25, 2017

Very Proud of the work...

Adnan Bajramovic (with Project 1948 CEO Dr. Jen White)
The key thing that Project 1948 (the non-profit I volunteer with) does is work to end inter-generational trauma in Bosnia.  We work with students in order to do that.

One of our participants has recently been featured in work he is doing in Travnik (part of Bosnia).

He is working with high school students trying to end ethnic segregation. after the civil war, the Bosnian school system was divided into ethnic school classes only: Serbian, Croat, Bosniak.

The students, with help from some previous students like Adnan, are working to reintegrate the schools.

Amazing work!

Saturday, June 24, 2017

What is the right thing to do with regards to Health Care?

I am torn over the Health Care debate, I admit it.

I think that in many ways it is almost evil to take away Medicare and other programs that save lives. On the other hand...

The Democrats HAD a a majority in the House and Senate and passed the affordable Health Care Act.

Since then around 22 million people now have insurance that did not have it before (link). Of these, maybe up to 43% didn't WANT insurance before (young and healthy and free-riding on a system that demands emergency room care) - link.

For millions more, health care has become much more affordable (and for a much smaller subset of upper middle class families - more expensive).

Also, since the Affordable Care Act was passed in 2010..

Republicans HAVE taken control of both the House of Representatives AND the Senate largely based on the promise to repeal, (only later changed to Repeal and Replace) the Affordable Care Act.

If enough people care to vote to change our entire government based based on repealing the Affordable Care Act, should we let them? People will die - no doubt. But Americans have voted that they don't care if people die. A MAJORITY of people voted for that!

And, to me, this isn't like discrimination against a minority group. People aren't voting to take away Health Care from Black people or Hispanic People or Gays or Singles or Christians or Muslims. People are voting to take away Health Care from everyone - discrimination free. And voting to get rid of Women's Health Services and Family Health Services (no guaranteed coverage for birth control, pregnancy or child birth). And a majority of women voted for that!

I still think removing the ACA is wrong. I will still vote and march to keep it. I am still committeed to keep a system where we pay more taxes to help people in this country that cannot afford it. But the people served by it are voting against it. And so, I am doubting myself for believing in a commitment to something the recipients don't want - or if they do want it, not enough to bother voting.

Ed's Hotel in Chicago

This is Ed's hotel (or shot from - I am not sure yet) in Chicago this week for work. The detail is amazing!

Afterglow Review is Up

My review of Afterglow is up today. It is a good play with a lot of penis on display. (Actually I think there is a ton of nudity early so that it stops being what you focus on later. As the show gets more emotional,  you have to just ignore the penis(es.)


 And one cutie shot from the shower....

Friday, June 23, 2017

Three New Show Reviews Yesterday!

If you mosey on over to my Review Site:, you'll see that yesterday was a big day for Theater openings. I reviewed two great new shows that are off Broadway and one terrible show that is on Broadway...

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Civil Dialog: Updated

(post brought about by a comment from Shelly that made me think).

Civil Dialog has gone by the wayside.

That is too bad. Because we can't carry on a civil dialog anymore, and so we can barely talk to each other. We can barely even tolerate each other. In this atmosphere we cannot work to a common outcome.

For a rabid few Americans, the idea of civil dialog has been dead for a long time. Personally I saw it happen on the right side of the political spectrum on shows like Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage and some others. On those broadcasts, people that disagreed with them were trashed with de-humanizing monikers and were considered stupid. Michael Savage called them sub-humans.

There were, on the other hand, many many right political actors that did not demonize the other side. Dennis Prager, Bill O'Reilly and others. They disagreed with liberals, but didn't attack their right to exist.

I am sure that people on the right could point to Liberals that did the same thing in the olden days (Stephanie Miller?) - I just don't know of them (and didn't listen to them).

However, in order to get ratings, more mainstream groups began using less civil terms. Ann Coulter made a fortune by being uncivil. Slowly Presidents were not respected. Clinton was a murderer. Bush was an idiot. Obama was a Kenyan Muslim.

This has culminated, I think, with Donald Trump's candidacy. Candidate Trump was not just dismissive of Democrats and Republican opponents of his, but was crude and derogatory. And people enjoyed it, the media ran it and the process fed on itself. Other candidates began hurling insults (Hillary and her Deplorables comment).

Now normal Americans feel free to hurl these insults at each other. And doing so, it immediately blocks other from listening to your point. So.. getting people to listen to your points is no longer possible. Let's say that I make a reasonable point - and someone listens to me. If some other person agrees with me, but uses offensive language, then that point, and all others go away.

We need to be able to talk.

This isn't about being "politically correct", it is about being polite.

Update: I am guilty of this as well, and shall endeavor to stop it going forward. Feel free to call me out when I blow it.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Congratulations to Karen Handel

Well, there went $60,000,000 dollars :-).

I think if you live outside of the United States would be amazed what happened here recently. We spent about $60,000,000 for a race for a single legislative district in a special by-election. The seat was held by a Republican for many years, and he was appointed to President Trump's administration.

A very good showing by a Democrat in the primary, lead to a run off between a new Democrat and an older Republican for a seat that has been Republican for years. In trying to hand Donald Trump a defeat (a vain attempt as it turned out), Democrats across the United States donated upwards of $23,000,000 dollars to Jon Ossoff.  Republicans individuals donated about $4,000,000 to Karen Handel. In "dark money" - that is outside interested that don't have to say who they are - $18,000,000 was spent on Handel and $4,000,000 spent on Ossoff.

Throwing in other funds, the total spending was near $60 Million dollars. There is something wrong with the US System.

  • For comparison, during the entire 2010 UK election, ALL PARTIES COMBINED spent approximately $38,000,000 (30.4 UK Pounds). (That is the entire election in England cost lest than 2/3s of what this one Congressional race did.)
  • For comparison, that is twice the Gross National Product of the nation of Tuvalu.
  • For comparison, that is more than the Foreign Aid budgets of Slovenia, Iceland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Malta.
  • It is also twice as much as what the Susan B Koman Breast Cancer Foundation was able to grant for testing, treatment and research of breast cancer. This is important because:

There is a special place in hell of Karen Handel, it's being kept being kept warm and toasty. Karen Handel's unilateral decision to cut Planned Parenthood - the largest breast cancer screening organizations in the country and one of the only ones available to women with little or no health insurance - nearly destroyed the Susan B. Koman Foundation (link).

Having lost one of my best friends to breast cancer , I was one of those people raising money for research, treatment and discovery via Susan B Koman Foundation. Karen Handel has cost some number of poor women their lives. One is too many, and she is responsible for the deaths of many more than one.

She is now gets to be a vote for TrumpCare. Hazzah.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Mean to Each Other

This is just mean...

Wait! Good News for a Change

Okay, some good news.

The World Monuments Fund - driven by work from made possible by a new grant of 530,000 Pounds (approximately $670,000) from the British Council's Cultural Protection Funds - is doing a very cool thing in Jordon.

They are training Syrian refugees and Jordanians to help rebuild, preserve and teach about the historical sites in Jordan and (hopefully later) Syria. (link)

It is a concrete step to help the refugees where they are to build a better life and prepare them for something inside Syria after the war.

My total respect to The World Monuments Fund and the British Council Cultural Protection Funds.

Kind of a Fascinating Graphic

The New York times does some amazing graphics, this is simple, but really odd.

It is the 15 Congressional Districts that have the highest percentage of College Graduates. It is confirms a liberal belief that the more educated you are, the more you tend to vote liberally. It ALSO confirms a negative conservative belief that the "elites" are out of touch with the common person (if you define "elites" as college educated and well off).

Now, as a liberal, I would say that people with college degrees and a reasonable amount of income seem more interested in preserving the public good - across all incomes. Conservatives, on the other hand, would say that Liberal largess rewards those that don't work and therefore encourages sloth.

I give you the data.
Note: (No Rep. in race in CA 17 is because an open primary lead to 2 Democrats finished 1st & 2nd )

Now, it seems to me that a reasonable and telegenic person should be able to bridge that divide since we all want a country that works. A more considerate, less caustic (and insecure) Donald Trump might have been that person. Berniacs believe that Bernie Sanders might have been that person. As FDR was in remaking political institutions.

But Trump, and anyone else now Republican or Democratic or even Socialist, face an entrenched donor class that will stifle any meaningful change.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Today in Legal Matters

Today they found a girl, on new meds, guilty of 2nd degree manslaughter. She had texted the young man who killed himself.

Also today, they found the policeman who shot an unarmed black man in front of his wife and 4 year old child, not guilty of 2nd degree manslaughter. He shot the man after a traffic stop in which the man told the officer he had a legal gun and was reaching only for his wallet as requested to get his driver's license. He was killed as his wife and little girl were in the same car and as he was doing only what the officer requested.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

A Quick Review of Infrastructure Week

Highway being built
The White House team made a rather big announcement about 10 days ago that this would be "Infrastructure Week." That is, a week when Donald Trump would finally talk about his Infrastructure plans.

Now, if we cast our gaze back to the campaign, Candidate Trump proposed spending up to $1 Trillion dollars on Infrastructure projects. He said, in fact, that this is what distinguished him from a traditional Republican because he wanted to spend money to put Americans back to work.

The timing was, from a business stand-point, quite positive. Interest rates are very very low and there are lots of things that need fixing or building.  Our last big bouts of Infrastructure construction or repair were during the 1930s great depression under Franklin Roosevelt (to help with the great depression) and under Dwight Eisenhower (dealing with unemployment after World War II).

So we have lots of failing infrastructure that we need help with.

So what was the President's $1,000,000,000,000.00 plan?

And we know it is atrue  $1 Trillion dollar plan because Sarah Huchabee Sanders told us the President is not a liar.

He dribble out two half formed thoughts, like a baby trying to eat Gerber Pears. First, privatize Air Traffic Control. Second, "reduce the oversight" directed towards construction. Because, apparently the reason bridges are falling down is that cities have too many restrictions to repair?


Friday, June 09, 2017

It's Been a Busy Busy Week

Trump Dump.

Comey and Terresa May and You Blog About BEACHES??

Yes.  Yes I do.

You see I am from LA and grew up in Southern California and the beach is a magical place. The roar of the waves (not this little "woosh" you get on the bays) clears your mind. The stiff breeze off the ocean. The shock of the water. The freaking beauty of it all!

If you haven't driven up PCH after a shift, stopped between Santa Monica and Malibu (where Sunset hits the ocean), parked and sat just below the road on the sand - well you haven't lived. You can sit there, not 8 feet lower than Highway 1 - and hear only water. You can look down (south) and see the lights of the city's - they call it the Queen's Necklace. And you can look West along the Malibu coastline and see only a few lights and the moon reflecting off the water. And suddenly the bad tippers and screaming kids and your shitty professor fall by the wayside. And you are in Zen.
Huntington, Santa Monica, Manhattan (South Bay) and La Jolla Beaches.
You may ask why I bring this up, why now? Well, I am here to share with all of you people who love the ocean, the very sad truth about the East Coast above North Carolina. Many of the beaches are private or pay to go.


Not like "pay to park", but it is illegal to go on Ashbury Beach without annual permit or daily pass you buy. Lots of CITY beaches in Connecticut they don't let you go to. Even in New York, they have lots of beaches with no access.

So imagine that you drive to Ashbury Park. It's a cool afternoon, and you just want to wander along the shore in your bare feet and feel the ocean. Yeah - buy a pass!


Beach Access in California is the law. We have fought for coastal access everywhere. WE own to the high tide line - beach!  From the zillion dollar beaches in La Jolla, Laguna and Malibu, up to the tech millionaire beaches in Carmel, Monterrey and Half Moon Bay you have a right to go to the beach. Even you Jersey people.

I think this is what breeds such nasty and selfish people up here.

Thursday, June 08, 2017

Yesterday in Theater

So I saw two shows yesterday.

The first was "Antipodes" at the Signature Theater with Josh Charles.

To be honest, I did not know he was in it, so I was thrilled. AND, I sat front row about 10 feet from him for the whole show. It is set around a conference table with seats on both sides. So in the picture above, I was on the seat side where this picture was taken from. I mean I could touch him.

He was excellent, but the show was less than fulfilling. It was 60 minutes of dialog, 20 minutes of ideas stretched into a 120 minute show with no intermission. It was "about" (if anything) how stories shape our lives. With a "epiphany" that all the stories are over and we should go home and wait for the apocalypse.  Yeah, uplifting. And it took 2 hours to get there.

Now, this is Annie Baker, and she is a Pulitzer prize winning playwright, so there is probably a lot I am too dumb to understand, but I don't think I am alone.

A Simple Art: A Tiny - GREAT - show.

Then last night I went to see a tiny show called "A Simple Art". It was a documentary piece about the murder of Father Eric, one of the writer's old teachers.

It was the opposite of "Antipodes". It was fast moving, interesting, silly, heartbreaking and ultimately talked about the stories we tell and why we tell them. Their uplifting conclusion was the opposite of Annie Baker's. We all create our stories for a lot of reasons, and it was important to share them. Apocalypse not mentioned.

Terror Attacks in Tehran and Kabul

We in the states are very aware of the terror attacks in London and Paris recently. We are almost unaware of horrific attacks in Tehran and Kabul. On some level this makes sense. Americans are more familiar with, have more family and have traveled more to London and Paris. Both cities have a plethora of media to report of what happened.

Furthermore, and more disconcerting, London and Paris fit into a narrative that implies that Muslim terror is directed at Christians. When, in fact, the terror is directed at agents that work against them.

In Kabul (Afghanistan) over 150 people were killed as the Taliban / Al Queda network killed over 150 people with a gigantic truck bomb in the secure zone of the city.

We have become inured to bombings in Afghanistan. In fact, we Americans have pretty much tuned out Afghanistan all together after 16 years of war and bad news. Which is easy for us to do.

But imagine the hell of life for Afghans. I can't actually. What was a cosmopolitan and western city in the 1960s (pics here) is now a dusty town of lawlessness, warlords and death. We have accepted their deaths as what? Inevitable? Normal? Justified?

I don't know and either to others, so we ignore it.

In Tehran Iran, ISIS attacked two of their most iconic places (like their Twin towers or Pentagon), their Legislative Building (their Capital Hill) and Mausoleum of the Country's Founder (their Arlington Cemetery). The attack was from ISIS, whom we are both fighting in Syria.

The US "condolence" memo was appalling in its tone during this period. Remember the US received worldwide condolences after 9/11.  Yes, including from our enemies and Iran. Our message to Iran from the State Department was fine. It said, "The United States condemns the terrorist attacks in Tehran today. We express our condolences to the victims and their families, and send our thoughts and prayers to the people of Iran. The depravity of terrorism has no place in a peaceful, civilized world. " (link).

BUT THEN, well the President and White House updated that message to blame Iran themselves for the attacks, " We grieve and pray for the innocent victims of the terrorist attacks in Iran, and for the Iranian people, who are going through such challenging times. We underscore that states that sponsor terrorism risk falling victim to the evil they promote." (link)

For fuck's sake, we are fighting ISIS with Iran! Why is our own White House trying to cause trouble. Well, I mean I know, it is a political ploy to help Trump get reelected. But it is repugnant.

Monday, June 05, 2017


From the Manchester Concert

You Outside of the US Might Wonder, WTF?

I am breaking my "less Trump" rule to explain to those outside the US what the hell our President is doing.

You might have seen the tweets our Dear Leader has sent recently. They are attacking the Mayor of London by taking a clause out of context from a sentence (link). He has doubled down recently and attacked the Mayor yet again - this during a British tragedy.

You would be forgiven thinking this is some odd mistake.  You are wrong.

He is doing this for 2 reasons.

First, and most importantly, our President is a bitter, mean little man who never forgets a slight. The London Mayor objected to his Muslim ban (and is, himself, a Muslim) and Trump hasn't forgotten it. Any chance to attack him when he is down.

Second, the fired FBI Director is going to testify this week.  Trump was going to talk about infrastructure to distract everyone, but this works even better.  He gets to be mean and nasty and play to his strengths. Our media (lemmings) will take this bait and run with it.

Because Trump is petty and childish, but not stupid. Incurious and ignorant, but not stupid.

Rugby 7s - Collegiate Tourny

Eddie and I went down to Philadelphia this Saturday and watched a little college Rugby 7s. Both UCLA and Wisconsin were playing so we decided it would be a fun road trip.
The view from the far (2nd) Rugby Field with the Stadium and the bridge to Jersey in the background

The set up was pretty damn big. There is a Rugby stadium in Chester (just south of Philadelphia) - Talen Energy Stadium. They open stands on one side on Friday - Saturday and use two other outside fields. For the Sunday Finals the whole stadium is open.

The picture above is Naya Tapper, Me, Eddie and Madison Hughes.  Naya from the USA Rugby 7s and Madison is Captain of the USA Rugby 7s. We met Madison in Rio at the 2016 Olympics and spent some time with him. A great guy. There were at the Collegiate Tournament to give pointers, answer questions and generally represent the USA Rugby Teams.

On Saturday teams are in 6 pools of 4, and they all play the other 3 teams in their pools. Some pics below.

Above the the UCLA / AIC (American International University) game. It was way out on field 2. Sight lines weren't good, but every now and then they ran right by you.

This was from the Wisconsin Arkansas Tech game. This one was in the big stadium, where the views were better but farther.

After watching UCLA and Wisconsin, we found that University of Wisconsin, Stephen's Point was playing. This city is where Ed grew up - and his step-dad used to be Athletic Director - so we watched a little of that on field 1. We saw a couple of scrums right in front of us.

Here is a view from the Stadium Deck out to the practice area and fields 1 and 2 beyond. On the right, you see a little of the walkway with booths and all.

And finally... the requisite shot of cute boys (UCLA, Irish (Notre Dame), Game Cock (South Carolina) and videographer.