Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Marjorie Prime - The Movie

So I just watched Marjorie Prime. It is a movie based on an off-Broadway play.  I would be interested in what other people thought, since I loved the play but didn't love the movie.

The basic premise is that sometime, in the very near future, an artificial person (or hologram) representing a deceased relative can be created to give a survivor comfort. In the case of Marjorie, she chooses her husband, when he was much younger. It was a 2015 Pulitzer Prize finalist for best drama.  And, in the theater, I loved it. And the same lead, Lois Smith was in both.
Marjorie and Walter (her deceased husband) on stage. (Lois Smith and Noah Beane)

It was moved to film without too many changes. Of course the male lead was updated from Noah Beane to Jon Hamm and the daughter to Genna Davis and son in law to Tim Robbins. They are all fine. But somehow opening it up slightly, seems to have pulled the heart out of it and reduced the existential question to a minor point.
Walter and Marjorie in the movie (Jon Hamm and Lois Smith)

The play was about reality vs comfortable lies. And the cost of what one loses when you choose to remember only the good times. In the movie, the questions are hit with a sledgehammer, and the answers are barely addressed.

I would be interested if anyone else saw this and what they thought. I wonder if I am being too hard on the show. (It's streaming on Amazon Prime.)

To All My Friends that Thought Armie Hammer Sucked in CMBYN

To all my friends that though Armie Hammer sucked in Call Me By Your Name, I poo-poo your objections.

First, Armie was fine-to-great acting at different moments playing a conflicted young adult being (artlessly) pursued by a younger man. It is a fine line to walk and he was very good. Really you have to be venerable, cocky, open, secretive and sexy all at the same time.  And, yes, he was sexy at the right times, standing in the bedroom and later with the peach.

Second, to complain he wasn't Jewish enough, get over your bad self. You're showing your own stereotyped expectations. The character is barely Jewish in the book and barely Jewish on film.

Third, just by being in the movie, Armie Hammer brought a massive amount of exposure to a slight and small film. For better or worse, Armie is publicity gold. The movie wouldn't have had anywhere near this amount of success without Armie. 

Finally, both Armie Hammer and Timothée Chalamet made a huge commitment in time and energy to support and promote this film. Using Armie's drawing power on television, they brought a lot of eyeballs to the screen.

You all sound very sour grapes-y.

The Lengths Thin Skinned Authoritarians Go To....

When you think we have it bad here, just look around you.  China is the latest to ban innocuous items for fear of embarrassing the leader.  This isn't North Korea / Syria level of insecurity, but it is close (link).
It reminds me of the time Belarus outlawed clapping (link).

Now that sounds silly, but Belarus outlawed any demonstrations against the Dictator President Lukashenko. He was term limited out in 2006 - before he changed the constitution. Since people couldn't demonstrate without arrest, public demonstrations on Friday outside the Presidential Palace took the form of clapping, ostentatiously for the President, but he outlawed it.

Demonstrations moved from clapping  to signing the National Anthem in front of the Palace (then it was outlawed). To smiling widely as they passed the Palace (also outlawed for a while).

It all sounds like some zany Marx Brothers skit, until you realize that Lukashenko is still in power and has been since the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

How Reality Folds Into Itself

Have you ever played Sim City, or Civilization or even Risk?
In those games there often comes a point at which the player gets tired of the game. They may send in a tornado to wreck havoc, or attack an ally or simply fold the board up,

Our country seems like a giant game where whoever is running it has suddenly gotten tired of the game. S/he has made a decision to just screw it all and see what happens.

Hence VSG President Trump.

May you live in interesting times.

I LURVED Altered Carbon - And Not Just The Nakid Butts

Joel Kinneman and Dichan Lachman doing their part for the show...
I just finished Altered Carbon on Netflix.  I loved it. And not just Joel Kinneman's ass (which should have got it's own credit). It was a cool, noir mystery - that happened to be set in a violent future.

The violence had less impact since people are "re-sleeved" after death or were holograms or were bad bad guys.  But it was very cool.  And it had some amazing people in it. The future of San Francisco is going to be very multicultural....

Yes - that is James Purefoy! (and Dichan Lachman with her clothes on).

My two favorites though were the AI Edgar Allen Poe (played wonderfully by Chris Conner) and Quellcrist Falconer (I know!) played by Hamilton's own Renée Elize Goldsberry...
Poe and Takeshi Kovacs

Very Much of Two Minds on Boys In The Band


While the cast for this is amazing, I am not sure at all about this show.  I mean, I will get tickets and go, but Boys in the Band is a dreary slog. It was a breakthru, but shows still had to be depressing about being gay. It wasn't even AIDS at the time, just a general thought that something had to be wrong with you if you were gay. Normally you would have some psychological problem.

I hope Joe Mantello can update this so that it isn't as dismal as the film was.

Remember When The Budget Was A Big Deal for Republicans

This cartoon made fun of the minimal success President Obama had in reducing the budget deficit. Of course he was dealing with Bush's Great Recession, but that got him no slack.  No siree, the Republicans were going end the deficit for once and for all.

Now the Republicans have grown the deficit over $1.5 Trillion with the tax breaks for the rich (while giving the waitress $1.50 raise every 2 weeks!). And the two year budget congress agreed to growns the deficit another $1.0 Trillion.

It makes one questions Republican's truthfulness.

The Supreme Court Arguement over Union Fees and Free Speech

Today in Chipping Away at America as we knew it....

The Supreme Court takes up a case that proves Mitch McConnell was pretty damn smart in waiting to seat a new Supreme Court justice. And a price will be paid, just not by Mitch - by anyone who values the voices of the working stiff.

Yesterday the Supreme Court heard arguments in a case that will the 1977 precedent of  Abood v. Detroit Board of Education. Now if you have never heard of that decision join the group. It was one of many decisions, over years, that allowed Unions to collect fees from members working in a union shop. It is the modern support for labor unions.  As such, it has been something in the cross hairs of Republicans ever since they became the party of big business.

The argument put forward is that employees working in a Union Shop should not have to pay union fees, in this case, is based on free speech. That is, paying Union dues subsidizes the Union to take positions the members do not always agree with. This has been brought up before and is always ruled down, but the Republicans have packed the court now enough to pass this.

Interestingly, the plaintiffs are arguing here that fighting for higher wages is against their right to free speech. An argument made only for the purposes of dragging this to the Supreme Court.

If Abood is overturned, then Union members and workers in a Union shop can avoid paying dues, since those dues might be used to argue for things they are personally against.  In states where this has passed (17 states), like Wisconsin, the union membership falls, the unions advertising falls and Republicans benefit.

To twist oneself into supporting this, you must agree that Companies are "people" worthy of free speech, but that Unions are not "people" worthy of free speech. This argument falls apart when you look at other things people have to pay for that espouse positions they oppose - like taxes to our government, state and cities.

But for people that hate unions, the overturning of precedent here is a happy nail in the death of workers rights.

Why a win for Mitch McConell? Well, last time this came to the Supreme Court it failed 4-4. If Merritt Garland has been confirmed, it would have failed 4-5. But with Gorsech, Abood is pretty sure to be overturned 5 - 4.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Fair Warning: TMI Coming

I have the habit of sharing too much, occasionally.  TMI or To Much information as the kids call it. Well, buckle up.

So I have this odd little eczema thing going on my arms. I went to the doctor and it is normal with age. Nothing you can do about it. I mean, you can burn them off but they come back.

Except there is this plant, milkweed or Euphorbia peplus, and the sap is toxic to rapidly replicating human tissue (link). So I bought some seeds and grew some.

As you can see in the picture of my arm, it redens the area around it, but is working excellently to reduce my eczema. And it doesn't burn or anything.

Or so I thought...

So,  I spread the sap on my arm.
Then I went to the bathroom to wash up and thought, hey, as long as I am in here, I might as well pee. Then wash. That was not the right order to proceed.

It turns out that while the sap doesn't burn my arm, persay, the less exposed skin of my junk was not so lucky. In particular, my testicular area is on fire right now. The best way to describe it is that my nuts have a sunburn.

China Changes Rules for Xi

One of the important pieces of news you might not have noticed is that China has changed it's constitution (who can keep up with International news as our VSG President brags that he would have rushed the gunman, even if he didn't have a weapon*).
The change allows the current leader, Xi Jinping, to stay in power indefinitely.  Longer than any other leader since Mao. Perhaps a bit of background is needed here (link).

When Mao passed away, the Chinese Communist Party introduced term limits for it's hierarchy. This was because there had been no way to remove Mao, even as the leadership wanted to. To prevent the adoration and idealization of a single leader, the party decided that two terms was enough.

This has stayed in place since Deng Xiaoping who took over in 1978. That is 40 years. This current change then is actually remarkable (link).

China has profited from President Trump's rule. Xi Jinping effortlessly plays Trump and has pushed his vision of leadership around the world. Since China is mainly a benevolent power externally (everywhere but Asia), world leaders have been happy to allow China to lead.

While this change seems benign, it has the possibility to be a major disrupter enabling an unchecked, extremely powerful Chinese leader. It has moved China from being a dependable, nominally traditional power to a country with a singular ruler. A nuclear power with over a billion people subject to the whims of one man. It did not go well under Mao and there isn't a reason to think it is a good thing in the long run.


Deadline Day ... Everyone Takes Whiff
Today was Security Clearance Day. 

Today was the day Chief of Staff General John Kelly (remember way back when the general was the savior from a crazy Trump) anyway, today he was going to refuse to allow people with temporary Security Clearance get Super Double Secret Intel.

Jared Kushner in charge of Mideast Peace, Mexican relations, Opioid Addictions, Chinese Condo Sales and making sure that Ivanka remembers her purse, still has "temporary security clearance". 

Why? Something to do with the fact that (deep breath) he lied on his security forms over 100 times, has resubmitted those same forms with mark ups 3 times, has $400 Million in outstanding debt to foreign creditors and is a person of interest in an ongoing Federal counterintelligence investigation, among other items.

So today Jared had to stop getting intelligence briefings.

Or everyone could just forget they said anything.

Coral Castle Visit This Week-end

Lynn has moved to Florida and Eddie and I got to visit her this week-end.  It was fun.
The walls of the Coral Castle. The large obelisk weighs approximately 28 tons (25 Metric tons)

On Friday, it was just Lynn and I, so we headed out across the Everglades (more later) to Homestead Florida and the famous "Coral Castle".


It is an odd attraction. A tiny (5'0") guy built essentially an outdoor house using coral. He said it was to inspire his childhood sweetheart from Latvia to move to the states. But there isn't any record that he told her about it.

His quarters atop the tower (which makes me say he either didn't know the secrets of the pyramids - or didn't put that knowledge to great use) His bed was suspended (Florida has lots of bugs)
Since he was so tiny, there is a mystery about how he built the place. It doesn't seem reasonable that he built it using the tools that were around.  Some said it was the same "energy" that built the pyramids, some say he sang to the stones, some said he was an alien.

Lynn at the cooker where he sold hot dogs cooked in an old car differential
But, upon seeing the castle and the grounds - while impressive, it seems as if any of those stories were true then the site would be more impressive. Instead it looks like an amazing, but doable, feat of strength by a little guy.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Cutest Bruin in England!

"Let's Go Bruins." Quothe Amalia (Hunt) Harris

Conspiracy to Defraud the United States

So the Muller indictments to date include charging 13 Russians with conspiracy to defraud the United States. They did this by screwing with our election.

This does NOT mean Trump would have lost or anything else except that there was a conspiracy to screw our country.

That is a big deal.

If someone in the Trump (or Clinton) campaigns contributed to that conspiracy they should be prosecuted.

We have to prevent this from happening again. Our government is too important to let Russia fuck it over.

I wish Our President would agree.

Sent from my iPhone

Wild and Wacky World

The World is full of Wild and Wacky places.  This is the William Reich Institute in Maine.

You have to read his entire biography to truly appreciate him but short story:

Herr Reich was an Austrian doctor that fled to the United States before WWII. H was a real (medical) doctor, and also studied under Freud in Vienna, before coming to the United States.

He believe, as did Freud, that the human orgasm was very powerful. And while Herr Freud moved on to the orgasm as a psychological power, Herr Reich believed it was very physical and capable of great things.

He believed having many orgasms, and not being limited by society, would cure cancer and other illnesses.

The lady (pre-orgasmic) in the box.  Wood box, lined with Steel.

Later, he built a "orgonon" box to harvest the power of orgasms, and use it to seed clouds and end droughts.


Monday, February 19, 2018

Happy President's Day

Today in the United States is President's Day.

Seeing the country now, you would assume President's Day was the day all our President's went shopping for brand new cars.

But no. "President's Day" was a fix to a problem.

In the 1980s the country wanted to add Martin Luther King's Birthday as a holiday, but around the same time we already had holidays for George Washington's Birthday and Abraham Lincoln's Birthday. In order to not overload our holiday schedule, we smushed together Washington and Lincoln's Birthday celebrations into "President's Day" and added Martin Luther King's Birthday as a Holiday.

So now we have an extra holiday in February.

And this Very Stable Genius as President....

So here we are ... Happy President's Day.

Alabama Congressional CoSponsers the Law to Allow Mentally Disabled to Own AR 15s.

It takes a village to raise a child and a Congress to allow their deaths.  These 5 Alabama Congressmen cosponsored legislation to role back the rules that barred the mentally ill from easily getting a gun.

The Alabama 5
District 1: Bradley Byrne
District 3: Michael Rogers
District 4 Robert Aderholt
Distrist 5: Mo Brooks
District 6: Gary Palmer

Sunday, February 18, 2018

These Congress Poeple Co-Sponsored a Law to Allow Mentally Disabled to Own AR 15s.

These Congress people cosponsored HJR 40 (LINK) - that overturned a rule put in place after the Sandy Hook shooting that limited access to gun ownership to people with mental health problems.

List from the Official Bill (search for you Congressman for fun and profit).

What can we do? I am thinking on this....

CosponsorDate Cosponsored
Rep. Abraham, Ralph Lee [R-LA-5]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Flores, Bill [R-TX-17]* 01/30/2017
Rep. King, Steve [R-IA-4]* 01/30/2017
Rep. McKinley, David B. [R-WV-1]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Duncan, Jeff [R-SC-3]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Wittman, Robert J. [R-VA-1]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Wilson, Joe [R-SC-2]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Roe, David P. [R-TN-1]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Olson, Pete [R-TX-22]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Rouzer, David [R-NC-7]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Poliquin, Bruce [R-ME-2]* 01/30/2017
Rep. LaMalfa, Doug [R-CA-1]* 01/30/2017
Rep. McClintock, Tom [R-CA-4]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Messer, Luke [R-IN-6]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Westerman, Bruce [R-AR-4]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Jones, Walter B., Jr. [R-NC-3]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Aderholt, Robert B. [R-AL-4]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Kelly, Mike [R-PA-3]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Smith, Adrian [R-NE-3]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Walorski, Jackie [R-IN-2]* 01/30/2017
Rep. McCaul, Michael T. [R-TX-10]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Franks, Trent [R-AZ-8]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Fleischmann, Charles J. "Chuck" [R-TN-3]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Mullin, Markwayne [R-OK-2]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Rogers, Mike D. [R-AL-3]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Moolenaar, John R. [R-MI-4]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Hultgren, Randy [R-IL-14]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Thompson, Glenn [R-PA-5]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Meadows, Mark [R-NC-11]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Weber, Randy K., Sr. [R-TX-14]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Smith, Lamar [R-TX-21]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Brat, Dave [R-VA-7]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Babin, Brian [R-TX-36]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Hill, J. French [R-AR-2]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Yoho, Ted S. [R-FL-3]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Smith, Jason [R-MO-8]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Barr, Andy [R-KY-6]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Palmer, Gary J. [R-AL-6]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Harper, Gregg [R-MS-3]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Schweikert, David [R-AZ-6]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Cramer, Kevin [R-ND-At Large]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Allen, Rick W. [R-GA-12]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Marchant, Kenny [R-TX-24]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Griffith, H. Morgan [R-VA-9]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Harris, Andy [R-MD-1]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Newhouse, Dan [R-WA-4]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Arrington, Jodey C. [R-TX-19]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Long, Billy [R-MO-7]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Luetkemeyer, Blaine [R-MO-3]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Black, Diane [R-TN-6]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Burgess, Michael C. [R-TX-26]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Palazzo, Steven M. [R-MS-4]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Emmer, Tom [R-MN-6]* 01/30/2017
Rep. McSally, Martha [R-AZ-2]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Brooks, Mo [R-AL-5]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Renacci, James B. [R-OH-16]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Hensarling, Jeb [R-TX-5]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Farenthold, Blake [R-TX-27]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Young, Don [R-AK-At Large]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Hudson, Richard [R-NC-8]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Blackburn, Marsha [R-TN-7]* 01/30/2017
Rep. DesJarlais, Scott [R-TN-4]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Wenstrup, Brad R. [R-OH-2]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Hice, Jody B. [R-GA-10]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Collins, Doug [R-GA-9]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Byrne, Bradley [R-AL-1]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Cole, Tom [R-OK-4]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Conaway, K. Michael [R-TX-11]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Rooney, Thomas J. [R-FL-17]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Massie, Thomas [R-KY-4]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Ratcliffe, John [R-TX-4]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Barton, Joe [R-TX-6]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Noem, Kristi L. [R-SD-At Large]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Latta, Robert E. [R-OH-5]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Loudermilk, Barry [R-GA-11]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Collins, Chris [R-NY-27]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Carter, John R. [R-TX-31]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Jenkins, Evan H. [R-WV-3]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Bishop, Rob [R-UT-1]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Higgins, Clay [R-LA-3]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Gosar, Paul A. [R-AZ-4]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Marino, Tom [R-PA-10]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Peterson, Collin C. [D-MN-7]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Hunter, Duncan D. [R-CA-50]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Lamborn, Doug [R-CO-5]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Tiberi, Patrick J. [R-OH-12]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Barletta, Lou [R-PA-11]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Sessions, Pete [R-TX-32]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Gohmert, Louie [R-TX-1]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Poe, Ted [R-TX-2]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Banks, Jim [R-IN-3]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Thornberry, Mac [R-TX-13]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Reed, Tom [R-NY-23]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Scott, Austin [R-GA-8]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Hurd, Will [R-TX-23]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Bost, Mike [R-IL-12]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Guthrie, Brett [R-KY-2]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Williams, Roger [R-TX-25]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Crawford, Eric A. "Rick" [R-AR-1]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Posey, Bill [R-FL-8]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Nunes, Devin [R-CA-22]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Holding, George [R-NC-2]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Hartzler, Vicky [R-MO-4]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Foxx, Virginia [R-NC-5]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Pittenger, Robert [R-NC-9]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Culberson, John Abney [R-TX-7]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Graves, Tom [R-GA-14]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Johnson, Bill [R-OH-6]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Roskam, Peter J. [R-IL-6]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Rothfus, Keith J. [R-PA-12]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Cheney, Liz [R-WY-At Large]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Labrador, Raul R. [R-ID-1]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Russell, Steve [R-OK-5]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Granger, Kay [R-TX-12]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Mitchell, Paul [R-MI-10]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Shuster, Bill [R-PA-9]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Cook, Paul [R-CA-8]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Love, Mia B. [R-UT-4]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Scalise, Steve [R-LA-1]* 01/30/2017
Rep. Amodei, Mark E. [R-NV-2]* 01/30/2017

Trying to Get A Handle on Guns

Intellectually, I find it hard to support gun laws as written in much of the country.

I mean, I can understand Trump voters. I understand (even though I don't agree with) voters that want to outlaw abortion or even contraception. I understand voters that believe the tax changes will positively benefit them.

But I have a hard time getting into the mind set of the NRA. Not the members, most of whom seem reasonable, but the NRA itself.

It you look at the laws and responses to gun accidents.

Some outspoken critics say that outlawing guns on campus makes the campus MORE susceptible to mass shootings.  I EVEN understand their thinking.

But an AR-15 is not a sporting weapon. I know that some ex-soldiers, having trained on that weapon, like to target shoot with it. That particular argument does not convince me. Once they leave the army they can't target practice with grenades, tanks, artillery shells or planes anymore. Limiting their access to AR 15s won't hurt anyone.

But even if I buy that argument. Can I limit AR 15 ownership to veterans?

You see, we allow AR 15s (the American answer to AK47s) to anyone, since 2004. Congress let the ban on them expire, saying it hadn't helped. And now, here are all the places where AR 15s have been used in mass shootings in the last three years (link USA Today):
  • March 19, 2015: Justin Fowler, 24, used an AR-15 to kill one and injure two on a street in Little Water, N.M., before he was killed.
  • May 31, 2015: Jeffrey Scott Pitts, 36, used an AR-15 and .45-caliber handgun to kill two and injure two at a store in Conyers, Ga., before he was killed.
  • Oct. 31, 2015: Noah Jacob Harpham, 33, used an AR-15, a .357-caliber revolver and a 9mm semi-automatic pistol to kill three on a street in Colorado Springs, Colo., before he was killed.
  • Dec. 2, 2015: Syed Rizwyan Farook and Tashfeen Malik, 28 and 27, used two AR-15-style, .223-caliber Remington rifles and two 9 mm handguns to kill 14 and injure 21 at his workplace in San Bernardino, Calif., before they were killed.
  • June 12, 2016: Omar Mateen, 29, used an AR-15 style rifle (a Sig Sauer MCX), and a 9mm Glock semi-automatic pistol to kill 49 people and injure 50 at an Orlando nightclub before he was killed.
  • Oct. 1, 2017: Stephen Paddock, 64, used a stockpile of guns including an AR-15 to kill 58 people and injure hundreds at a music festival in Las Vegas before he killed himself.
  • Nov. 5, 2017: Devin Kelley, 26, used an AR-15 style Ruger rifle to kill 26 people at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, before he was killed.
  • Feb. 14, 2018: Police say Nikolas Cruz, 19, used an AR-15-style rifle to kill at least 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.
AND, because Obama was for it Congress and the administration reversed a rule that prohibited bans based on mental illnesses.

I don't get it.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Valentine's Day School Shooting: 17 DEAD - Thoughts and Prayers...

Another Day - another school shooting.  More thoughts and prayers from our Congress and VSG President Trump...


Just FYI - seven were killed in Chicago in the "St. Valentine's Day Massacre"(link) back when mass shootings meant something.  We considered that a massacre when it happened during Prohibition to rival gangs of illegal drug (booze) runners. 

But at a school - that is the price of gun rights....

---- Thoughts and Prayers are Very Helpful.... Hence..


Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Errors on Globes and Maps 2: Somalia and Somaliland

Continuing on yesterday's theme of errors on maps, Somalia.

The error on the map of Somalia is based on an internal civil war. Normally, this would be a temporary item, not worth redrawing maps. But the basic outline and self governing political demarcations have now been around for three plus decades and it might be time to update the maps.

Somalia lies here on current maps.

In reality, a series of civil wars has blistered the country since the late 1990s. Two areas, Somaliland and Puntland, have obtained a functioning independence.  Of the two, Somaliland has declared independence and functioned as a separate country fro at least three decades.

It might be helpful here to look at colonization, in which much of this has its roots.  There were 3 colonial powers in Somalia: France, Britain and Italy. After WWII, Italian Somalia was given to Britain as a protectorate (something they did with the Axis' old colonies) and Britain gave a united Somalia independence.  In reality British Somalia and Italian Somalia had very little in common, different histories, didn't variants of Islam and differences in racial make up of Arabic versus African.

What held Somalia - as a singular country - together, for a long time was the cold war, in which Russia and America traded off as the backer of Somalia versus Ethiopia. At the end of the cold war Ethiopia broke into 2 parts (Eritrea and Ethiopia) - and Somalia is now doing the same

Major powers (like the United States and China) already treat Somaliland like and independent country with treaties and actions. Primarily because Somaliland support is key to stopping the pirate activities on the Horn of Africa. At some point, the maps will reflect this reality.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Errors on Globes and Maps: 1

The Globes and Maps we use to describe the physical political worlds are not always accurate.  Not in the sense that the actual land is not there, but in the sense that the countries occupying that land may not be correct.

For example, for a long time, Tibet was listed as a separate country, even though it was - in reality - a province of China.  There are a few mistakes that have been on our globes for a long time (and probably won't change for a while).

First - Western Sahara - (labelled as Spanish Sahara on older maps)

In 1975, Spain withdrew from their colony the Spanish Sahara (in the 1970s Spain and Portugal transitioned from Autocratic Dictatorships to Democracies - both abandoned their colonies quickly after the transition).

There was a generally acknowledgement that the colony should decided itself what to do, but Morocco and Mauritania both invaded immediately.  Morocco won the better of the deal and controls most of the territory, the great majority of the population centers and production.

Mauritania captured some areas and was almost immediately embroiled in a local civil war. After a few decades, in the 1990s, Mauritania relinquished it's power to the local population, called variously the Polisairo Front - the rebels as support primarily by Algeria and the Sahrawi Republic - the political entity.  But the Polisairo Front was not nearly as strong as the Moroccan Army which took control of most of the areas Mauritania withdrew from.

The "country" is essentially ruled in this format...

No easy resolution presents itself as Morocco shows no sign of leaving and the world doesn't really care that much.  But most countries don't want to acknowledge the facts on the ground. So the maps show a snapshot of the area that is 40 years out of date.

Friday, February 09, 2018

While At The Morgan Library

As I posted, Ed and I went to the Morgan Library last week-end.  We say the library and two shows.

The first show was about how time was kept in the Middle Ages in Europe.  It was fascinating. The way they divided up the hours in day - for example. Since the time keeping was kept by the clergy, the time was split up around prayer times.

It also defined the time on Earth for humans, based on the Bible.

They also had a scroll of life that outlined when Adam and Eve started farming, how they begat down to the French kings (although the ancestry did say Adam / Eve ... Noah and then went from there).

It was a cool show
Eddie (for scale) with the actual scrolll
This is a wooden Astrolabe from 1455 - one of very very few around and still working. It shows the days of the week, phases of the moon, day of the year, year, month, what feast day it is, which constellation is in the sky constellation in the sky. It also shows the exact time of the middle of the night (between sundown and sunrise) because the monks had to pray then.  Crazy!