Monday, November 19, 2018

Gramping In And Around Seattle

Not much time for blogging.  Here are some pics.

After soccer Chinese lunch at Din Tai Fun.

Enjoying the sunny side of the ferry deck.

There's something about the lines of a skyline that call out to a camera.

And a jelly fish floating on the tide this morning.

Oh, I forgot the Saturday market.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Hockney Pool Painting - One Of My Favorites - Sells For $90 Million

When I took a computer art class with Prof. Mariano Gonzales at the University of Alaska Anchorage years ago, I realized on the first day, that everyone else in the class was a real artist.  Mariano tried to reassure me.  He said that all the others began with a different medium - water colors, oils, etc. - and had to adapt it to the computer.  I was coming to this fresh, with the computer as my first medium.

At the end of the class, we had to copy a masterpiece.  Simply duplicate it completely digitally.  I started to panic.  First I thought of doing a Mondrian.  For example.  At first that seemed like a copout, but when I looked at some of his paintings closely, I understood that they were much more subtle than I first realized - lots of subtle shades blended.

So I picked out one of my very favorite pictures - David Hockney's “Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures).”   It has the feel of the chaparral hills that I knew so well growing up in Los Angeles.  It has a sparkling swimming pool.  And a man in a salmon colored jacket by the side of the pool and another man swimming.  Except for the people and the vegetation on the hillside in the background, it's pretty angular.  Or so I thought.  

Image from larger LA Times photo
 I had to recreate it from scratch.  I think in that class we were using Corel Draw.  It's amazing how much of a picture you don't see until you really, really look at it.  

But I managed to get a reasonable copy of the picture - at least for someone who didn't know the picture well.  

It was good enough that Mariano has told me that he showed students in later classes - an example of what someone who is not an artist did.  I'd show you my version, but my copy is on an old disk that doesn't fit any current computer I have.  And I'd show the copy I have hanging in the garage.  Except we're with family for Thanksgiving out of state.  And our house sitter isn't technologically savvy enough to take a picture of it and send it.  

But here's a picture from the LA Times article from the auction the other day where it went for $90 million.  I don't think that's a particularly good thing - monetizing art like that.  But that is several more blog posts.  For now, it's important because this is a picture I love and know fairly well. There are some arrangements where the artist gets a percentage of future appreciation of their work.  But I don't think this one is likely to be covered.  It was sold long ago.  

Here's a link to the whole LA Times story.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Seattle From Afar - And Bird Feathers

I biked over to a little rocky beach to enjoy the unexpected sunshine.  Across the water was Seattle.

A few ravens went by- this one was the slowpoke

If you click on the image, you can see the bird's flight feathers.  That caused me to try to find more about them.

First I got descriptions of bird fingers and how they derive from dinosaurs.  This research argues that the three bird fingers are derived from the index, middle, and ring fingers.

Then I got info specifically on the feathers at the end of the wingtips and end of the tail.  I found this Wikipedia page on flight fingers most interesting.

"Flight feathers (Pennae volatus) [1] are the long, stiff, asymmetrically shaped, but symmetrically paired pennaceous feathers on the wings or tail of a bird; those on the wings are called remiges (/ˈrɛmɪdʒiːz/), singular remex (/ˈriːmɛks/), while those on the tail are called rectrices (/rɛkˈtraɪsiːs/), singular rectrix (/ˈrɛktrɪks/). The primary function of the flight feathers is to aid in the generation of both thrust and lift, thereby enabling flight. The flight feathers of some birds have evolved to perform additional functions, generally associated with territorial displays, courtship rituals or feeding methods. In some species, these feathers have developed into long showy plumes used in visual courtship displays, while in others they create a sound during display flights. Tiny serrations on the leading edge of their remiges help owls to fly silently (and therefore hunt more successfully), while the extra-stiff rectrices of woodpeckers help them to brace against tree trunks as they hammer on them. Even flightless birds still retain flight feathers, though sometimes in radically modified forms."

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Where Do People Stand On Global Warming? The Numbers.

Saturday's monthly international Citizens Climate Lobby meeting featured Anthony Leiserowitz, Yale Program on Climate Change Communication.  They do a new survey every year to test the political climate of climate change.   They've been doing this for fifteen years.  The new survey is just starting now, but we heard about this year's survey.

The news is good and bad.  Climate change is more politically divisive than abortion.  That showed up in one of the best slides.  It showed how different shades of political thinking rank about 28 issues.  I'd post it here, but it's got so much on it, that it would be hard for anyone to read here.  Here are the categories they used.

All Reg. Voters Liberal Dems Mod/Cons Dems Lib/Mod Repubs Cons Repubs

Global Warming was the 4th most important issue for Liberal Democrats and ranked 28 for Conservative Republicans.  My interpretation is different from Tony's.  It were as divisive as abortion, it would be more important to the conservatives.

It just isn't that important to anyone besides the Liberal Democrats.  It only ranks 16 for the Moderate/Conservative Democrats.  But the upside is that with more education on the topic, it will gain a greater base of support.

Another chart shows that most American believe global warming is happening.

Click on the charts to enlarge and focus

He attributed the drop after 2008 to the Tea Party, and it's taken ten years to get back to 70%.  He mentioned that in Japan about 98% of the population believe it is happening.

The chart on Potential Political Movement shows a huge potential of people who would be ready to work on action to reduce global warming.

More encouraging, perhaps, was this chart that showed across the board strong support for moving to more Climate Friendly policies.

You can see the presentation here.  Actually the link takes you to the whole meeting.  Tony starts at 3:32 or so (there's a dot on the video timeline there).  His presentation is short, but packed with interesting data and interpretation.  And the charts are easier to read than here.

I've been going to these monthly meetings for many years now and I'm almost always impressed by the quality of speakers and I almost always get some new data or thought that significantly adds to what I know on this topic.

The Anchorage Chapter meets at 8:30am, second Saturday of the month, at the Rasmuson Building 220, at UAA.  Free parking Saturday mornings.  Here's where others can find out about their local chapters.  Don't be shy, everyone is delighted when a new member arrives.

Here's a link to the Yale Climate Connections where Tony works.  There are lots of videos on different climate related topics.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Sullen Trump, Vaporware Presidency, Nevada Analysis, Health/News/Politics From STAT, And Proof Of Collusion

Things to think about from here and there:

1.  From Eli Stokols, LA Times, "Sullen Trump avoids usual duties"
“He’s furious,” said one administration official. “Most staffers are trying to avoid him.”
The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, painted a picture of a brooding president “trying to decide who to blame” for Republicans’ election losses, even as he publicly and implausibly continues to claim victory.
It's hard to move from business to government.  All the politicians touting the need to run government like a business simply show their ignorance about government, at least in a democracy.  In business you can mostly choose the projects you want to be involved in. In government the issues choose you.  In business you have much more unified top down command, but in government, you share power with two other branches.  And your customers have a say in more than buying your product or not.  They can decide on who you have to work with.  And in government, particularly in the higher offices, what you do is much more scrutinized.  You can't get away with serial fraud by hiring lawyers who intimidate competitors or quietly settle with cash and non-disclosure agreements.  

So it's easy to see why this Trump might be angry this week.  He's moved into an arena where his various personality disorders are less tolerated.  

2.  The Weekly Standard's Jonathan V. Last writes a piece called The Vaporware Presidency
Here's an excerpt:
Did you enjoy President Trump’s military parade?
Last winter Trump announced that he was going to stage a military parade in which our glorious armed forces would march down the boulevards of the nation’s capital proudly displaying their firepower and awesome weapons of war. Then we all spent several days bickering about whether or not it was proper for America to throw a military parade. (After all, it’s a totally normal thing that democratic republics do.) The parade was scheduled for November 10. 
Maybe people were taking Trump seriously instead of literally, or diagonally instead of orthogonally, but whatever the case, the walk-backs started soon after the ruckus died down. First, the Pentagon announced that the parade couldn’t include tanks, because they would destroy the streets. Instead, Trump’s parade would be heavy on wheeled vehicles and aircraft, they said. 
Then it was revealed that the parade would cost $12 million. Or, as Axios put it dryly, “just $2 million less than what the now-cancelled military exercises with South Korea would have cost, which Trump has described as ‘tremendously expensive’.” 
But of course, that was just the initial estimate. Eventually the budget ballooned out to $92 million. In August, Trump announced that he was “cancelling” the parade. He then tried to use this pretend cancellation of a make-believe parade that never had any chance of actually marching to attack local Democrats. And in the same breath he suggested that the real parade will really, truly, take place next year.
The article goes on to review the history of the word 'vaporware' coined by a Microsoft employee to describe early announcements of non-existent software.
The reason the nonexistent software was announced so prematurely was to act as an anti-competitive club against other potential entrants to the market. Sometimes the company announcing its vaporware knew it couldn’t deliver the product. Sometimes it didn’t even intend to deliver it.
'Today, when tech people talk about vaporware, they generally mean incompetence. But the roots of the term encompass malice, too.'
Then it lists other Trump initiatives that are vaporware.  I don't think we can be boil down a presidency to just one factor,  but this adds importantly to my own thoughts (influenced, I'm sure by many others):  most of what Trump says has no substance, it is mainly intended to distract from things he doesn't want the media to spend time on.   

3.  Some more probing analysis from the Nevada Independent by Michelle Rindels.  

How Democrat Steve Sisolak defeated conservative rising star Adam Laxalt in bid for governor's mansion

Gives detailed analysis of how The Democratic candidate for governor in Nevada beat the Republican. This piece doesn't focus on just one thing, but takes a wider view of the many little things that collectively matter.  But some things stand out:  focus on and consistency of issues; availability to media and people; and being more of a mensch (my term, not theirs.)  But, of course, lots of candidates who did that - Beto O'Rourke in Texas, Alyse Galvin in Alaska, for example, did all that and still lost.  In Nevada there were more factors - like unionized Latinos - that got Sisolak elected which weren't working in Texas and Alaska.

4.  STAT - A website worth tracking.  Here's how it describes itself:

STAT delivers fast, deep, and tough-minded journalism about life sciences and the fast-moving business of making medicines. We take you inside academic labs, biotech boardrooms, and political backrooms. We cast a critical eye on scientific discoveries, scrutinize corporate strategies, and chronicle roiling battles for talent, money, and market share. We examine controversies and puncture hype. With an award-winning newsroom, STAT gives you indispensable insights and exclusive stories on the technologies, personalities, power brokers, and political forces driving massive changes in the life science industry — and a revolution in human health. These are the stories that matter to us all. 
Some recent STAT pieces:

5.  Seth Abramson's book Proof Of Collusion: How Donald Trump Betrayed America just came out.  Here's a snipped of  a review by Aaron Gell at Medium:
"It is, as the author concedes, merely a “theory of the case” at this point. But it’s the only plausible theory, he adds, that “coordinates with all the existing evidence” and “explains decades of suspicious behavior by Donald Trump, his family, and his closest associates.”
Incredible as the story of Trump’s Russian entanglements always sounds when stated plainly, the evidence Abramson assembles is compelling, and we don’t know the half of it. Robert Mueller, presumably, knows more.'
[UPDATE Nov 15: I found the Intro and Chapter 1 of this book on the Barnes and Noble site. ]

After seeing Abramson regularly retweeted, I looked him up, and then followed him myself.  

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Anchorage Airport and Beyond

From my seat before we left.

Backing out from the gate.

Dirty snow pile beyond the wing.

Empty Anchorage runway.  And when we got to Seattle, there were no delays like last time.

Cloud islands as we head south.

I always did like Mondrian.

Ranges west of Seattle.

Everything worked right.  We left on time.  Arrived a little early, with no delay at SEATAC like last time. Our luggage was on the carousel before we got there.  We only waited a minute or so for the train into town.  And had plenty of time to get the 4:45 ferry.

On the other side we met our daughter and granddaughter for dinner and on home.

Started reading Michael Ondaatje's Warlight.   

Sunday, November 11, 2018

AIFF 2018: Stink! (AIFF 2015) Is Now On Netflix - 2018 Festival Opening In Nov 30!

I just noticed that Stink! is showing on Netflix.  It played at the Anchorage International Film Festival in early December 2015 - not quite three years ago.

One reason to go to a film festival is to see films long before they make it theatrically, or, in this case, on Netflix.  Another reason is to good films that, because of the competition of the film world, will never make it to a theater or a film site like Netflix.

The 2018 Anchorage International Film Festival (AIFF) will begin soon and will be over in less
than a month!

You can see a list of the films coming to town at the AIFF2018 website.  On this page to be exact.

I'm a little concerned this year, because all they have listed on the website as of today, is a site blogpost with a list of the film names by the categories there in.  In the past, by now, the site would have a list which included the film name, the director's name, the country, and length.  Until last year, it would also let you know which films were in competition.

And because the festival is a little behind, and because I've been at the Henry trial for the last three weeks, I'm behind too.

Seeing Stink! listed on Netflix got me to write this first post for this year's festival.  The Shorts programmer has sent me a list of the Shorts in Competition so that will be one of my first posts after this one.  And I'll get an AIFF2018 tab up top pretty soon too.  In the meantime, I'd suggest people trying to figure out the ins and outs of this film festival check out the AIFF 2017 tab above. Or you can get there with this link.  Then scroll down to #2.  Tips and Background.  Then go to the links there.

The festival begins Friday, November 30 and goes until Sunday, December 9.  The Festival Schedule is available here.  

Saturday, November 10, 2018

My Voting Reform Fantasy - A Short Story

It's two months before the election in the not-to-distant future.  She had three more days to take the voting test.  She'd looked on line and studied all the questions and the answers.  She was excited.

It had taken years, but when people realized what Alaska was ike after four years of Dunleavy, the reform movement began.  People realized that knowing something about a candidate's past, and knowing something about how things worked, made you a better voter.  Things like how a trust fund works, or how much an income tax would cost most people compared to a Permanent Fund check.  Like knowing what the budget was before they said it was too much and needed to be cut.  Like understanding what services government provides people BEFORE they get cut.  And understanding the link between potholes and the cost of car repairs, between crime and insurance rates.   Like understanding the costs of a good school system compared to the cost of any prison system and how those costs are related.  Just knowing the size of the population and understanding how to figure out costs per capita.

So finally, Alaskans passed new voter registration rules.  Everyone could still register to vote.  But you also had the option of taking a bi-partisan approved factual exam.  The more answers you got right, the more your vote counted.  It could count one time if you didn't do very well, two times if you got half the questions right, and three times if you 90% of the questions right.

No, Alaskans hadn't gotten rid of the one person one vote rule.  The extra votes didn't change the election.  But along with the actual one vote per person results, Alaskans got to see what the results would have been if informed people got two votes and very well informed people got three votes.

So she took the test and instantly learned that she was rated "informed."  She was looking forward to the results of this experiment.  Would it make a difference?  Would the people of Kivalina, (who are in a lawsuit over  the loss of their village due to climate change)  vote for a climate change denier instead of a a strong advocate of slowing down climate change if they knew the facts?  Would knowing the facts change people's voting?  (Kivalina example from a FB message from Elstun Lausen.)

Friday, November 09, 2018

Henry v MOA: ADN Reports Jury Sides With Henry For $2.3 Million

There were a lot of details in this case and I couldn't imagine that the jury would decide this soon.  They only got the case yesterday afternoon.    The judge explained that in Federal Court they can have 6-11 jurors.  This trial began with 9.  The judge didn't think they'd decided this quickly either because he was arguing for releasing one of the jurors who had plane tickets for Tuesday.  I didn't see her in the jury box Thursday.

I want in to this trial without knowing which side was right.  If I had a bias at all, it was against the MOA because of what I saw last year in the Graham v MOA case that I was involved with.  It never should've gone to trial.  The MOA was clearly wrong, from my perspective, and should have resolved this long before it ever went to court.

But this case was entangled in lots of bizarre complications.  The plaintiff, Tony Henry, was a key witness against two minority police officers in a case that ended in a hung jury and had to be tried a second time.  When the first trial was over, the MOA then hired the investigator, Rick Brown, to, ostensibly, look into why the APD hadn't responded to the sex and drug scandals at the National Guard. Henry was a big part of that issue, being blamed for tipping off the Guard about the an informant who worked for the Guard.

So Henry know exactly how the police did this sort of thing.  He was in on the first case, going after two minority officers.  (They won the second trial.)  The jury didn't know anything about the prior case and Henry's role in it.  The case name popped up twice, but the plaintiffs seemed to have successfully kept it out.  Or did the defense?

And that's what's so crazy about this case.  Both sides had problems.  I think it could have gone either way, depending on the jury.  So I'm a little disappointed that this jury came to such a quick decision.  I'm not saying they were wrong, but they couldn't have picked through the issues very carefully in such a short time.  I'm guessing most of them must have decided Henry was treated unfairly (not an unreasonable conclusion).  But nothing was clear cut.

Here's a link to the ADN story.  [11/10/18  1:30pm Sorry, had a bad link, fixed now.]

Palate Cleanser After All The Trial Posts -Anchorage Sunrise, Blog Mail

A little pink on a cloudy day.

And just a glimpse into the email bloggers get, and to remind you not to trust what people post.

This one is particularly unappealing.  They didn't even put my name on it.  Not that my name would help persuade me.  I wonder if they've read my posts on cruise lines? Like New Pirates of the Seven Seas?  or How did Carnival Cruise Lines get US taxpayers to buy them a $28 million train depot?  Is it because I'm in Alaska?  Who knows?  And I'm not going to ask.
I was researching a campaign I’m working on for a luxury cruise line and came across your blog. I think you’d be a great fit and we’d really like to partner with you.
Do you offer sponsored posts that would mention or feature our client?
Thanks and I look forward to hearing from you.
So remember, any posts you see about cruise lines or really anything else, should be taken with a grain of salt.  Bloggers get these sorts of requests all the time.  It's a way to pick up a little extra cash here and there.  But rest assured.  in 12 years of blogging I think I have maybe 3 or 4 guest posts.   Two from friends who had something interesting to say and I asked them to write a post, and one from a veteran who had something to say that I thought was worth sharing.

Enjoy your Friday as the jury works through all the allegations and exhibits to figure out if Anthony Henry was wrongfully terminated.