Thursday, January 31, 2019

It is Very Cold

It is 4 degrees F.  That is -15.5 C.  That is butt cold.

I haven't had a car in years, so I am walking in this. I did take an uber this morning to Grand Central, but I had to walk the 1/2 mile in Stamford to work (I am teaching up here this week).

It is very very cold.  That 4 degrees with without wind chill.  And yes, it is windy.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Travelling along the LIRR

As I head out toward Hicksville (an actual town name), I ponder the lies of the Long Island Railroad.

Specifically, there are no woods at Woodside, no meadows at Flushing Meadows.

Life meanders.

The Difference in Rich Old White Men and the Rest of Us

Donald Trump and his cabinet, typified by Wilber Ross, simply do not understand life for most people. In particular, during this government shut-down the plight of regular people is incomprehensible to them. Let us look at these to quotes.

Right there in black and white (get it?) is the problem.They have never had a money problem that a real person has.  Donald Trump has gone through 4 bankruptcies and banks work with him. And, when you are doing millions of dollars of business with a retailer, they will cut you a break if you have problems.

Wilber Ross says get a loan, because any bank will give you a loan with the promise that the feds will pay your back wages.But for real people, the banks don't take our words as collateral.

Here is the problem - as I once told my husband when he was worried because our two house loans were balancing on days of cut-over.  When you owe the bank $100,000, it is your problem. When you owe the bank $1 Million dollars, it is their problem and they will work to fix it.

Thursday, January 24, 2019


Sun a Little, Swim a Little

So in Exuma, we had a blast. Ed had a good birthday.  Here are some pics.

When we went on a boat rtrip we stopped on a sand bar for salad.  Nice.

Wait, Wait, Look Over Here!

seriously: Ground Hog Day ... again

Can I just take a moment out of your day to address this Nincompoopery.

"Hillary's emails" are short-hand for "we hate her and maybe this makes you stop thinking about Trump". The emails are from over 4 years ago, have been investigated by 4 House or Senate Committees, 3 FBI probes and 1 NSA probe - costing over $ 4 Billion dollars.

Results, nothing illegal.

Maybe this is the part of government that should be shut down.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Him, I Like, but I get that he's got a snowball's chance in hell. Pete Buttigieg

He's got a great resume, except that one little thing.

The lack of foriegn policy experience doesn't bug me as much as it did for Trump or (LA Mayor) Pete Garcetti because he studied overseas (Rhodes Scholar) and he is a veteran of the War in Afghanistan. Although, truth be told, I would prefer a little more foreign experience, but none of the candidates to.

As mayor he has turned around a smaller town in the mid-west, was re-elected in conservative Indiana in Catholic South Bend. All that is the good.

He is married and gay. That is the bad. The folks of South Bend Indiana can get past that, but I am not sure that America can.

Science Fiction Used to be Fun

Science Fiction used to have some fun incorporated into it. Sure, not all (or even most) stories were uplifting, but many were. Flying cars, Recreational Star-vehicles, happy robots.

But Science Fiction has moved to a dark place. Dystopias full of angst-y teens. Killer Robots, killer zombies, killer Artificial Intelligence,  bad Keanu Reeves movies.

Why, you ask. Presumably the money is good. 

Oh yeah, why is SyFy so downbeat now a days. Here is why I think it is. Tech is too complicated to understand. We depend on it like the ancient peasants depended on God. When it is good it increases wealth, food and opportunities. When it is bad, it causes famine, war and frustration.

Almost now one understand enough to make uplifting Science Fiction. And those that do, often drift into the weeds of the technology. If you want generally uplifting Science Fiction try Jack McDevit or Kim Stanley Robinson.

And avoid 75% of Keanu Reeves movies. But those 25% ...

Zen Me Baby

This is the waterfall and Temple at Seiganto-ji in Japan. The temple was destroyed inteh Japanese civil wars in the 16th century and rebuilt in 1587,


Tuesday, January 22, 2019

So Scott, What about the Shutdown offer from the President

As we march off the cliff like lemmings, the President offered a "compromise"to end the shutdown.

The "compromise" was to extend DACA projection and TPS (Temporarily Protected Status) immigrants fleeing national disasters and wars for 3 years.

Why use quotes around the word compromise?

Well, DACA and TPS immigrant status was taken away by President Trump last year. So this is like going to McDonald's with Trump - and you order a quarter-pounder,  chicken sandwich and fries. And immediately Trump takes the chicken sandwich and fries. Then he offers to compromise and give you back the chicken sandwich and fries for 1/2 your quarter-pounder. And he'll take the chicken and fries back when you start to eat them.

That is not a compromise.

That is blackmail and shouldn't work between 2 co-equal branches of government.

And the Pigs

I took Eddie to Exuma for his birthday this past week-end. We had a great time and I will post pictures. One of the oddest experiences was swimming with the pigs at a beach. I guess they were shipwrecked there and now live happily with visitors coming up and feeding them.

I will say they were very clean for pigs.

What's Wrong with a Border Wall?

We are in day 31 (?) of the government shut down. The shutdown is caused by the President's insistence on money for the Border Wall. This only occurred after Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter denounced his original agreement to fund the government without it.

So, what it is really about? Well, that is tougher. The President cancelled a deal in place because the right wing media called him weak. The Democrats are newly installed as representatives, the very large majority elected after an election that Trump made about the Wall. So they are generally against it because the voters are, and the new leadership doesn't want government by ransom. The thought is (and I agree) that if you give in to the President here, it just emboldens him to take the government hostage again when he wants something.

Worse, neither Trump's base nor the Democrat's base wants them to give in. But what about the wall in general?

Well truth is, we have a wall where it makes sense.

As the image shows, we have a lot of wall. In some areas (like the "vehicle barrier" in California) the border is in isolated and super rugged areas, so a wall is too expensive and not worth the cost.

That area of un-fenced border in New Mexico is on tribal land where the Native American Tribal Land is on both sides of the border. Other than that tribe, all the land borders are already fenced or barricaded, and the Democrats have appropriated money to fix the current fencing / walls.

The unfenced sections are in Texas along the Rio Grande River. How much money do you spend to put a wall along the river? (the fenced areas are near bridges.) No border state or county thinks new walls are the right answer. Why? Well, the new migrants are requesting asylum. These people want to turn themselves in, so they go to a border station, not the border. The Trump administration has slowed asylum processing, so some are trying to come overland, but mainly in order to turn themselves in.

As for the crime, drugs, etc. The great majority of illegal immigrants now come in via air and overstay their visas. The border wall doesn't nothing for that. The drugs are smuggled through current ports of entry, the border wall doesn't help that.

The Democrats say they are willing to pay for more border security, checkpoints, officers and equipment to find smuggling. But they aren't willing to pay for a wall.

When does this stop? When enough Republicans feel the heat and get the President to agree to some face saving way of opening the government. I would say "or if the Democats find a face saving way out of this", but the rejection of the crappy compromise shows that the Democrats are not (yet) ready to cave and grovel to the President.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Gillibrand and Castro And Babbard

At least 3 more entered the fray this week. None are making me super pumped.

Julian Castor is no surprise. He's been sniffing around for a long time. He is very young, but seems okay.

He says all the right things, was the mayor of the 7th largest US city (San Antonio!) for a while.

But there hasn't been any clamoring for him to run. He seems pleasantly bland. Maybe a pleasant bland Latino is the anti-Trump, but I am not sure that is enough going forward.

His experience seems a bit lacking to me - particularly none in International Affairs and we are going to have to repair a lot of relationships.

He seems fine.
Then there is Kristin Gillibrand.

She is my current Senator. I like her more than Chuck Schumer, but that ain't saying a whole lot.

Here's my 2cents on Gillibrand. She is in many ways perfect. She's a centrist (although recently she has been tacking left for the primary), she has valued women's issues for a long time.

She is reasonable, smart and capable. Again, she's not going to set you on fire.

But her big drawback is Hillary Clinton. IN two ways. First as a Democratic Senator from New York that was pretty conservative and is now more liberal - just like Hillary.  Second she worked for Hillary's election pretty hard. She is going to be easy to paint as a 2nd Hillary. And that is not good.

And then there is Tulsi Gabbard. That is a hard no for me.

Tulsi spent much of her early career fighting hard against gay marriage in Hawaii. She worked for her father's group "Stop Promoting Homosexuality" and the "National Campaign to Protect Marriage" and Hawaii's own "Save Traditional Marraige"

I know people can change their mind and I don't want her to lose her seat or anything, but I won't be supporting her.

From Fox News: Gabbard was a visible force against same-sex marriage, and in 2004 spearheaded a fight in the state against a same-sex union measure. “To try to act as if there is a difference between ‘civil unions’ and same-sex marriage is dishonest, cowardly and extremely disrespectful to the people of Hawaii,” she said at the time. “As Democrats, we should be representing the views of the people, not a small number of homosexual extremists.”

Disagreeing with me on a topic is fine, saying that my wanting to get married is somehow dishonest, cowardly and extremely disrespectful is her right. And my right is to judge her purely by her words. So let me respectfully say, no thanks.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Roman Amphitheater parts used to build church of St. Donatus, Zadar

Round Church in the center left is St. Donatus
Stumbling across some pictures as I am trying to get them ready for Jane. These are of the church of St. Donatus in Zadar, Croatia.  Here is the blurb from wikipeida...

The Church of St Donatus is a church located in Zadar, Croatia. Its name refers to Donatus of Zadar, who began construction on this church in the 9th century and ended it on the northeastern part of the Roman forum. Originally named Church of the Holy Trinity, in the 15th century it was re-dedicated to St Donatus. Wikipedia
It is fascinating because it is now a museum / performance space. A lot of the columns are set on pedestals that were pulled from the old roman amphitheater or graveyards.  Look at see.

The Tuesday New York Times Sceince Section

I do like the New York Times. Should we leave New York, leaving the NY Times will be tough to do. For me, for years, the LA Times was a great paper.

I actually sent it to my mom when she lived away from Los Angeles. And when I was in grad school in San Diego (1988), I had it delivered in La Jolla. Actually it was San Diego's biggest paper (edging out the San Diego local paper) because of it's reporting and seriousness.

The full sad story of the LA Times can be found here, but that isn't the point of this post.

No, today's post is to celebrate the New York Times. And no better example of their service is that they still have a weekly Science Section. Today's was about the European Jackal.
The image is from the online version, but the physical paper has a "Science Section" every Tuesday. It's very cool.

Spoiler alert, the Jackal population has has boomed as the European Wolf eradication in the Balkans has opened up a ecological niche.  Climate Change is now increasing the potential Jackal territory.  You see, Jackals can't live where snow is on the ground more than 100 days - which used to keep them in the Balkans (hemmed in by the Hungarian Steppe and Julian Alps). but now, as there is less snow they have left the Balkans and are now seen in Austria, Germany, Italy, Belgium and Estonia.

And yes, they are very much coyote like, but not quite as social and still afraid of people.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Senate Outlaws Lynching. Evangelicals Lobby House of Representatives to Remove Restrictions for LBGT Lynchings from Bill

Really, say you?  Aye, Aye, say I.


 You see, it is a slippery slope. If you protect fags from being lynched, then they will want other protections...

(FYI - It is not the first time LBGT people and rights from harm have been spelled out in the Federal Law.)

Yes, Collusion.

In case you missed it this week, there was proof of collusion between the Trump Campaign and the Russian intelligence services.


Paul Manafort submitted a filing and his lawyers missed redacting part of it. Therefore it is available for people to read. In the unredacted filing, he acknowledges that - as Trumps Campaign Manager - he shared internal polling data with a Ukrainian who is tied to the Russian Intelligence. He admits to lying about it (or forgetting to mention it). The Russian intelligence used detailed polling data to identify targets on Facebook, Twitter and other social media.

President Trump's campaign conspired with a foreign power - and not just any foreign power, but Russia - to sway a United States election.

I would say, what if a Democrat did this, but you know what a Democrat, and person of honor would not do this. No other Republicans did.

Have the Republicans, who continue to stand behind this man, have no shame?

Saturday, January 12, 2019

So Scott, What The Hell is Going On over there?

For my British friends that are perpetually confused by American government, and extra confused now. Here are the basics.

About 1/2 of our government is either working without pay or shut down. This includes our Airline Security personnel (the TSA and the Air Traffic Controllers) and our Border Agents, all of whom are expected to work without pay.

It effects about 800,000 government employees - many who will probably get back pay later - and about 600,000 contractors who will not get back pay for the last 21 days.

It all started, as these things do, with a Trump about-face. A stumble by the Republicans, fully. In December, the President agreed to fund the government for a few months at current levels with no wall.  This was to cover the government until the Democrats took over the House of Representatives.

That agreement passed the Senate 100 - 0 and went to the House of Representatives. But, in the 2 or so days between Senate and House votes, the conservative press complained loudly that there was no wall money. And, with the Republicans loosing control of the House of Representatives, this was the last chance to get wall money. The press in general, and Ann Coulter in particular, made fun of Trump's manliness and we were off to the races.

Must ... stop ... brain ... hurts... so very muchhhhh

She got keen competition....


Thursday, January 10, 2019

Because you taste like Lucky Strikes...

I was going to post the new video of Trump saying he never said Mexico would "Pay!" for the wall. and then, going to YouTube, I found this.  I like it better....

Have you ever crushed on anyone so hard that even their cigarette smoking made you think of them...

Lucky Strikes ...

I Am Rather Opinionless on Kamala Harris

I don't have much of an opinion on Kamala Harris and her bid for President. I don't really know enough about her, she rose to prominence after I left California. I am not negative towards her, but also not positive. She was very good (or very bad depending on your position) in the Kavaugh hearings, but that isn't enough of sample for me.

President Trump gets flustered, bitter and racist when dealing with women of color, so it would be a particularly ugly campaign and a bitter loss for either side. I am not sure that is the best thing for the country. But I an uncomfortable letting a racist determine who should run.

I am not sure she is progressive enough to inspire voters, but I am sure that her recent movement towards overt progressive positions smack of political expediency. I suppose we will see.

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

Palm Springs Dreaming (or is it a fever dream)

So, we all know I love house porn. Sometimes I dream of moving back to Palm Springs and I look at houses. I have a Trulia pop-up when there is a house I am thinking of.

Usually the houses have been redone by that whole "house-flippers-do-mid-century-modern-gay" vibe that I really do love.  Occasionally, though, one is sent that just slays me.

This one says it needs updating. That is an understatement! I both love and hate this house. It is like the worst of the 70s. It is SO over the top, I kind of want it!!! It is so horrible, it has moved right to kitsch. I think you could rent it for bad movies....

Cuz you can't have too much orange.

Bathroom 1

Bathroom 2

Yes kids, the Aztec god is guarding the orange shag game room!