Thursday, November 30, 2017

Norwegian Air Responded! Kudos!

Well, it took a little while, but considering it was a full 787 that was cancelled, that is okay.  Thye got back to us in less than 1 month. That is pretty damn good.

Our refund was processed for the nightmare (link) trip.


Norwegian processed this quicker than most any group of airlines I have dealt with. They also wrote me a letter that responded to my complaint and I appreciate that.

I give them great marks for follow up service.

By way of example, Delta hasn't responded to an issue I had with them 3 years ago. And I bring it up every survey.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Something is really wrong with the Tax Bill

There is something inherently wrong with the tax bill that advanced in a way that will ultimately help destroy the country.

Compare this tax bill with Reagan's or Bush 2's bill. In the previous tax bills there were a lot of cuts and tricks to make it all work out (actually Reagan's Tax Bill was Bipartisan and that was back when it was thought "trickle down" might work).

BUT this tax bill was written only by Republicans and specifically hits Democratic voters. (And it was not because "Democrats wouldn't work with Republicans", the process was closed to begin with.) In particular:

- The deduction for pulling out state and local taxes has been removed. The tops users of this deduction are Democratic states (see below) (Only Iowa is a red state in this list).


One might reasonably say that blue states have only themselves to blame, but that isn't entirely true. Blue states tax themselves because the federal government takes from blue states and gives to red states (see chart below). Most of the "net contributors" - that is, we pay more in than we get out. So we have taxed ourselves to pay for missing federal help.

- If the mortgage rate interest is kept in, it will be capped at $500,000. The top 25 housing markets are all in blue states, and the average price in each is over $500,000. (link)

- It raises taxes on college students in general and grad students in particular. Which Republicans say are liberal interests.

I don't think that this type of law is good for the country. Raise or lower taxes on everyone. NEVER in our history has this been done - where taxes increases were targeted towards one party. It is bad for our country. (PS - This isn't me. We file jointly and will do fine  to great under the new plan.)

I think California and other states might pass a law now that the outlays are equal to the percentages paid in when they are in power - and that will be ugly for the top of the list above.

In Case You Lost The News Amoungst President Tiny Hand's Tweets... North Korea Can Now Hit the US Capital

So, while Princess Tiny Hands was retweeting snuff films, calling Obama a Kenyan (yes, still), endorsing a child molester for Senate and saying that the Pussy Tape wasn't him (despite admitting it earlier)... While that entire side show was going on...

North Korea fired a new rocket that can hit Washington DC.



Remember how PTT said North Korea would NEVER be able to do that? 

Remember how PTT said, they would "take care of it"?

Remember how he promised to rain down fire and fury like never before on "Rocket Man"?

They did, we didn't and we haven't.

Princess Tiny Hands Need To Check Snopes

President Tiny Hands was quite busy this morning retweeting out salacious videos purporting to show Islamist Militants attacking people.

Let us not forget this is the President of the United States that has the world's best intelligence at his beck and call - check for f*ck's sake!

Princess Tiny Hands couldn't even be bother to check snopes.com where the Dutch video was shown to be an act of (horrible) Dutch bullys - not Islamic Militants (link).

Kid's this isn't the way a President Acts! And Sarah Huckabee-Goebbles says the truth is whatever they say it is.


Minnesota v Wisconsin Football

Well, last Saturday we went to the Minnesota v. Wisconsin football game in Minneapolis. It was suppose to be 29 degrees (-2 C), but come game day it was a balmy 40 (+4 C).

Pregame with Faith (a Gopher), Ed (a Badger), myself (Badger in Law) and John (Football Fan and not going to cross his daughter).
We went with my brother-in-law and his friend. It was cool.

Late in the game. Yes, Ed is in the cow hat.


The State of our "National Discussion"

Well team, it has come to this. Presidential Spokesgal Sanders-Huckabee say we are to take Princess Tiny Hand's tweets as Presidential policy... And they Donald tweeted this..


So Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (called "Chuck" by PTH) and House of Representatives MInority Leader Nancy Pelosi responded to Princess Tiny Hand's Presidential policy and said they saw no reason to attend the meeting. They worked with their Congressional counter-parts to address the looming government shut down.

The President, in an act very Presidential, made sure to sit - forlornly - at a table showing that he was the bigger man.  And by "bigger" he means that he should be allowed to bully anyone and get away with it.
 
It is important to note that neither Senator Schumer and Representative Pelosi shouldn't be needed in any case. The Republicans hold majority in both Houses of Congress and, with Princess Tiny Hands, the Presidency. The government shouldn't be at risk of shut down at all.

By the way, why would he want to create this dust up today. Is there something he wants to distract everyone from???

Oh yeah, this came out yesterday...

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

The New Tax Bill (You Get the Bill, Rich People Get The Break)

The new tax bill under consideration in the Senate is fine news for anyone that makes a lot of money.  It sucks for anyone else. But then, only rich people pay for campaigns - so the donors are getting what they paid for (and they paid for our representatives).

The (non-partisan) Congressional Budget Office - that is the Budget Office that the Congress created and staffed - has the projections below. Negative numbers mean they pay less.  Positive numbers mean they pay more.

But, hell, you can just think of it this way - who does Congress love - rich people. Then you can read the table without too much thinking. (link)


Answer To: How Can People Not Belive Science?

So I am constantly bothered by the problem that many people don't seem to "believe" science.

It might be vaccines, man-made climate change, evolution... whatever; I was at a lose as to how people could not believe. But a book I have been reading has helped.

I am reading the Thomas Friedman (I know, a bit of a blowhard) book "Thank You For Being Late". In it, he explains that the world is changing on 3 axis faster than we humans can keep up. (Technology, Globalization, Social Change)

When you think of huge innovations before - the printing press, the steam engine - they spread slowly across time and geography. Maybe a bit around Western Europe, and then North America or just China - and tens or hundreds of years later they moved on. For example, most of Africa didn't have printing presses before 1900 - 400 + years after they were invented. Indigenous Americans didn't have gunpowder 600 years after it was invented or 150 years after it was used extensively in Europe.

Now, change is occurring very fast. Too fast, in fact, for people to keep up. The relentless march of technology, global markets and social change has people freaked out.



Sure, I don't have a problem with social change (I'm gay and married now, so I like it) - but to understand think back to 2006.

In 2006 there was no: Facebook, iPhone, Smart Phone Aps, Android phones, tablets, Cloud Computing, Streaming Services, Mobile Phones world wide. Back in 2006 mapping 1 (ONE) persons' DNA cost $10Million dollars (now you can do your own for less than $100). Hell we are now gene-splicing fixes into people.

It is impossible to fully understand the sum of information we have now. Maybe in 1900 a single person could be smart enough to understand how "everything" worked. But find me a person today that can: create a mobile phone from scratch, splice a DNA sequencer and set up a multi-national funds transfer system and explain why some people are born gender fluid.  No ONE person can understand, much less do "everything".

And so we reject some of it as wrong.

There are things some people choose not to believe - like science or transgenderism or evolution. But that isn't all that different from what we take on faith. We have to take it on faith that molecular physics, transistors, OLED screens, jet planes, MRI machines and a host of other items will just work.

As Arthur C Clark once said...
And who believes in magic?  It's easier just to pick what you want and want NOT believe in it. I think it is a recipe for disaster for that person and their family, but I now understand it a bit better.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Thanksgiving with Ed's Family

We had a great Thanksgiving in Minnesota with the family.
Mom and Donald and their boys

Me, Ansley and Ed (Ansley is there to cover my fat :-).


Lucy - the great dog!

Everyone (but Faith's BF, because we. couldn't work the timer).

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Wheels of Justice Grind Slowly - But Sometimes it works.

These are the graves of many of the 10,000 men, boys and male children killed in a genocide cleaning in Srebrenica, Bosnia. The United Nations, hemmed in by rules and lack of weapons, let this happen. They lead Serbian forces, lead by Ratko Mladic march into a UN Camp and pull out over 7,000 males and systematically shot them and drop them in mass graves.



This was one of the things that finally forced the US and NATO's hand to intervene on behalf of the nearly unarmed Bosniaks (mainly Muslims).

This week, the International Criminal Court found Ratko Mladic guilty of genocide. This isn't a cause for rejoicing or congratulations. But it is good that sentence was finally passed on this man who committed atrocities. 

I've flown over the fields of Serbrenica while on the landing path to Sarajevo. It is a sobering site.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Ho Ho Ho

I saw this headline and I thought, no that can't be right!

Then I read the question.

Ho Ho Ho indeed.





Kudos To President Trump (Seriously)

President Trump has put a stop to the importation of Elephant Trophies from hunting. Kudos to him.

And, in his written statement, he did it for the right reason. At this time it isn't clear that Zimbabwe is able to assure that elephant hunting is managed correctly to improve conservation.

Good Job.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Starbucks Two Hands is "War on Christmas"

Oye...

When you all get my War On Christmas - Card, you will understand.

Fox thinks that Starbucks is the devil because of cup on the far right has two hands holding. THEY (not Starbucks, not LGBTQ people, ONLY Fox News) is saying they are two lesbians holding hands. It is, from the cup, impossible to tell if this is 2 men, 2 women, a man and a woman, a married couple, friends, whatever. It takes a supreme leap of non-faith to assume that these are two lesbians.

But, hey, otherwise they might have to cover real news.


Friday, November 17, 2017

VOX Explains Uranium One in a Single Chart

So much for conspiracy. Of course, those that hate Hillary won't care, but for those that don't get it - here are 2 charts. (full link)

The first is what happened with Uranium One.


The second is what the conspiracy theorists are using to paint Hillary as evil. This was the exact chart a Republican Congressman used on the House Floor.

It May Surprise You, These Are NOT the New James Bond Villains...

This is an exquisitely unfortunate picture of our multi-millionaire Secretary of the Treasury and his wife holding up a sheet of one dollar bills to show his signature.


If you look at a US currency note, you will see there are two signatures, the Treasurer of the United States and the Secretary of the Treasury. It isn't unusual for a new signatory to hold up the bill to show his or her signature.

What makes this spectacularly bad form is the image of his wife (with the gloves) who was pictured looking much like this exiting a government jet they used for their private honeymoon in Europe - and she told people, essentially, to get over it. She is the Marie Antoinette of our current administration.  See her last instagram kerfuffle below....

Who Would Have F*cking Guessed?

During campaign...
 March 2017 -  2 Months in Office...


November 2017 - 8 months later....

Half A Nuance is NOT Better Than Nothing in This Case

This article from slate.com (a liberal to moderate site) is half a good idea. But here half an idea is actually worse that an entire idea.

The "half a nuance" is true. That is, hunting is a form of conservation that often makes sense. The argument here however is not about hunting. It is about the trophies.

You see, traditionally the trophies include the tusks - and will again. At the same time, ivory elephant tusks are highly sought and used in illegal trade.  This has lead to poaching and the near extinction of Forest Elephants and wild Asian Elephants.

If you want to allow trophies, minus the tusks, then I would agree maintenance and sport hunting is acceptable. But any opening on a legal Ivory trade fuels the illegal ivory trade and the merging of the two. And that has lead to and will again lead to catastrophe.

My Review of The Mad Ones

Life On The Road As Therapy

The Mad Ones, now on-stage at 59 E 59 Theaters, is a musical of both youthful exuberance and heartbreak. In a very non-New York centric way, it uses the analogy of cars and the road for freedom. For most of America, it is an obvious metaphor.  The title itself refers to the characters from Jack Kerouac’s novel, On The RoadThe Mad Ones are the freewheeling group that speaks to our heroine.
L-R: Emma Hunton (as Kelly) and Krystina Alabado (as Samantha Brown) in Kait Kerrigan and Brian Lowdermilk’s THE MAD ONES at 59E59 Theaters. Photo by Richard Termine
Samantha (Krystina Alabado) is a teenager on the cusp of adulthood, and all the emotional baggage that entails. She longs to be crazy and free - in general terms like the characters in Kerouac’s novel and, in specific, like her friend Kelly (Emma Hunton). She and Kelly have taken road trips, stayed out late talking through the night, and planned to chuck it all and just drive away. Kelly was Samantha’s best friend and instigator. But Kelly was killed right before graduation, and Samantha has been frozen since.
Samantha’s mother, Beverly (Leah Hoaking), is a dynamic professor, brilliant woman and overly protective single mother. She wants Samantha, High School Valedictorian, to attend an Ivy League school and become a success. Samantha is pulled between the future her mother wants and the future her friend Kelly offers. Thrown into the mix is her unobtrusive and supportive, if a bit dim, boyfriend Adam (Jay Armstrong Johnson). Adam is just “there” for Samantha, the sweet boy without an agenda, unloved both Kelly and her mother.
These competing forces converge one night as Samantha is about to drive away from home, maybe to college, maybe just drive away. She sits caught between the competing visions of her future. The Mad Ones is a musical set against these competing visions, and the cast has the pipes to carry the show beautifully. Each actor has at least one moment in song that is touching, but the stars of this show are Krystina Alabado and Emma Hunton. Their voices are wonderful and their scenes together are a joy.
But this combination is also key to the drawback of The Mad Ones. Together, Kelly drives Sam into action. However, when alone, Samantha is a passive character. True, she longs for something, that something is frustratingly undefined. Samantha is a reactive creature: reacting to her friend, her mother or her boyfriend in turn. When alone, her youthful confusion has a tendency to turn into whining.
Most of the songs (Kait Kerrigan and Brian Lowdermilk) are very good: catchy and fun or serious and soulful. There is an overreliance on the metaphor of a car as freedom, which grinds after a while. The sparse direction of Stephen Brackett is perfect for the space here. It is a spare story in a spare space and he allows the actors to fill it with pathos and song. The Mad Ones may not make you wish for a road trip, but you definitely want the best for our little Sam, all grown up now.
The Mad Ones | Book, Lyrics & Music: Kait Kerrigan, Brian Lowdermilk | Director: Stephen Brackett | Cast: Krystina Alabado, Leah Hocking, Emma Hunton, Jay Armstrong Johnson | Website

Except to Say....

I am not going to comment on the plethora of charges of abuse, molestation and inappropriate touching / calling / leering... except to say this.

Those that do it to children (you Kevin Spacey and Roy Moore) have a special place in hell.


Thursday, November 16, 2017

A Pathological Hatred of Anything Obama Did Reaches Its Sad Apex

Princess Tiny Hands has a pathological hatred of anything President Obama did. It is bizarre, but dependable. Here he gets a 3-for.

1. He gets to overturn Obama's rules

2. He gets to go against Worldwide norms (and piss off "lefties")

3. His boys get to keep their trophies.*

Sad
* And, if you think I am crazy here is a pic of the boys and their "fun" - and link to snopes where it is true.
 

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

The New Top is from Wurzberg Residence

The new header is part of the ceiling fresco from the Wurzberg Residence.  I loved it.

Because?

Apparently because cheating on your own wife with a married woman (who has kids and a family) is sexy.


I Will Thank You

Thank you. It was mighty nice of you.


Tuesday, November 14, 2017

This Truly is Evil Genius

Evil Genius!

The Administration has not been able to scare, intimidate or harass the special counsel into silence. They can't fire him. So they have decided to discredit him. To date, most of their obvious nincompoopery has lead to nothing. But they have hit on a truly evil plan.

As in evil for the country and the future of America. But it is brilliant.

One of the few institutions Americans generally belief is our court and justice system.  Since they can't discredit Muller directly, they have decided they can discredit the entire system. 

And so, like some 1970s banana republic or authoritarian regime, they are going to send a special prosecutor on their political enemies.  They are thinking about appointing a special prosecutor for a Uranium Deal that was approved by Congress. But not towards Congress, but towards Hillary Clinton, who was already out of office when this was signed off.

It is obviously political. But even pointing that out, will make Muller's probe also look politically driven.

Sure it discredits American Justice. It weakens out institutions. It is another step on Princess Tiny Hand's drunken stumble towards fascism. But it is brilliant.


Friday, November 10, 2017

Alabama - Where Progress Goes To Die

Alabama, for those of you counting, is the very same state that has Jim Crow laws against mixing of the races not only on the books, but written into their state constitution. And they recently passed a law making it okay for anyone (doctors, paramedics, police, grocery store clerks, - you name it) to refuse service to a gay person because of a deeply held belief (that homos are icky).

So no surprise here that a state legislator thinks you should prosecute the woman who was physically assaulted at 14 years old. The age of consent in Alabama is 16, so the two 16 year olds he harassed when he was in his late 30's and met them at their high school is all a-okay in Alabama.


*Sarcasm Alert*: So this is in no way whitewashing a problem

Problem Solved!

Remembrance on Veterans Day

In America it is Veterans Day, in England it is Remembrance Day, but the day honors the same purpose - it honors the Veterans that fought for our ways of life.

In America it is celebrated on the Friday or Monday closest to November 11th. And so, today and tomorrow we are in thanks of our Veterans. We do not owe them awe or acquiescence, we don't owe them a cup of coffee or reflexive gestures. I owe them a sincere thank you for the gift of their lives, be it a year or two or a lifetime, that they gave so that my way of life and our country's values can thrive. And I give that Thank You honestly and gladly.

We honor them now because on the 11th Day of the 11th Month was the armistice of World War I.

At the time it was called The Great War. Not because it was glorious or great in any positive manner, in fact the opposite. It was a hellish war with millions of deaths that consumed all of Europe. It remade the map of Europe, it end signified the end of Empires, the beginning of killing on an industrial scale (the first major war with machine guns, airplanes, submarines, chemical weapons and more). But it was so awful, so terrible that people at the time though War, as a means to end, would be no more. Life was too sacred.  We can only weep that that sentiment didn't last twenty years.

 As for the red poppies...

My friend Jane explained the significance of the red poppies to me. Red poppies will germinate only when the ground is disrupted. The fighting in Flanders, Belgium was so intense that the ground was all turned. Then the dead were buried there. Hence, the red poppies the next year. Red poppies bloomed from the graves of the dead.

The poem below is from the dead to the living. It was written before the poet (and everyone else) was cynical about the war. When that war could still be thought of as a strong and just war.


IN FLANDERS FIELDS POEM
The World’s Most Famous WAR MEMORIAL POEM
By Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae


Lieutenant Colonel John McCraeIn Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place: and in the sky
The larks still bravely singing fly


Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead: Short days ago,
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved: and now we lie
In Flanders fields! 


Take up our quarrel with the foe
To you, from failing hands, we throw
The torch: be yours to hold it high
If ye break faith with us who die,
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields


Composed at the battlefront on May 3, 1915
during the second battle of Ypres, Belgium

Thursday, November 09, 2017

Laurie Metcalf is Amazing

https://www.thedailybeast.com/lady-bird-star-laurie-metcalf-might-be-the-best-actress-working-right-now
I have found my devotion to Laurie Matcalf surprising. The story that this image links to (LINK) is about her role in Lady Bird.

And it is probably a sign of age (and Bradley Davis) that when I hear "Lady Bird" I think of Lady Bird Johnson and her quote, "From the Highways to the Byways, Beautify, Beautify, Beautify."

As for Laurie Metcalf, until I moved to New York she was locked in my mind as Rosanne's sister and/or Sheldon' mother.

But I have seen her on stage in an amazing variety of roles and she is quietly amazing. She can do comedy and make you laugh in one second and make you tear up in the next.

She was in Misery, a Doll's House Part 2, November... She has been on Broadway, off-Broadway in London and on stage in LA. All the while doing great TV work and movies.

She is remarkably "normal" looking and versatile. In an age where actresses and actors have to be specimens of physical perfection, she makes her job look easy by inhabiting roles. 

I kind of love her.

Sometimes You Struggle to Be Honest

It is much easier to mean and funny than be informative and actually helpful. Take the show below. The idea behind it sounds interesting, but it didn't work. I wanted to let people who still might be interested know about it, but warn those just looking for a good show, this isn't it.  It is a tough line. 

Romance Doesn’t Fit in a Trapezoid


The idea behind Romantic Trapezoid is interesting - it is an updated take on a 1930s sex comedy, complete with gender role reversal. The lead male character, Dave, teaches film, so the call backs make sense. Unfortunately the show never takes off.
The trapezoid is thus: Melissa (Elizabeth Inghram) is a sexy confident writer who enjoys the company of Dave, three nights a week, and other men other times. Dave (Zack Calhoon) is a love-struck mensch who wants to marry and settle down with Melissa. He has the Miriam Hopkins role here, hopelessly in love with Melissa and unable to force the her into marriage. Beth is the final part of the Trapezoid (all the other men are in one corner). Beth (Joy Donze) is Dave’s graduate assistant, who states she wants to marry Dave so Melissa better decide to take him or leave him. It isn’t clear if Beth is actually in love with Dave or if this is a ruse of Dave’s to force Melissa’s hand. You see, Melissa has the Clark Gable role here: handsome, suave and sure of herself and her sex appeal.  But just like poor dumb Clark Gable, she falls for the ruse, even though she knows it might be a ruse and all is wrapped up by the final reel.
Elizabeth Inghram and Joy Donze
But... a 1930s sex romp can be excused for not showing any sex. Romantic Trapezoid is  surprisingly lacking in romance or sex. And, in the black and white movies, it is funny to see a man get played by a woman. However, in person, it is a little creepy seeing a woman being manipulated by a man into marriage.
Wedging Dave into the role of impotent love toy is both unrealistic and unappealing. Poor Mr. Calhoon is called on to be a wimp, a stud, fun and a killjoy almost concurrently. Then, he is called on to give old movie dialog with a wink and a nod. It does not work. Melissa has an easier time of being a sexy but ungrateful louche. But her transition to jealousy is too generic to be fun.
Joy Donze is the only cast member with a believable story and she makes the most of it. Ms. Donze luxuriates in a role that might have been a throw away. She is hilarious.
Romantic Trapezoid tries to pull off a high wire act of witty banter winning out, just like in the movies. When it works it sparkles, but it doesn’t work enough.
Romantic Trapezoid | Playwright: Victor L. Cahn |  Director: Alberto Bonilla | Cast: Zack Calhoon, Joy Donze, Elizabeth Inghram | website