Friday, January 20, 2017

Obama Still Alive And Well After 8 Years - What Did Trump Say Today?

I remember back in 2009, that many of us worried that Barrack Obama wouldn't survive his presidency.  So as I watched the new president being sworn in, I was delighted to see Obama there.

I hope those who have great fears about the next four years, will see at the conclusion of the Trump presidency, that their worst fears weren't realized.

Meanwhile, some reactions to the new president's inaugural speech.  It wasn't a typical Trump speech.  He only used the word "I" about three times. (I say 'about' because the word counters can be tricky, especially with single letter words.  I checked some words using a search function, but I also used an online word counter. The numbers vary a bit, so my numbers here are approximate.)  He used 'we' over 40 times and 'you' and 'your' about 23 times.  The words 'environment,' 'constitution,' 'climate,' and 'health,' were not mentioned. Though he did mention 'the misery of disease.'   "Law' was mentioned once - as part of 'law enforcement.'

But it painted a vision of a dark America with many people suffering poverty, unemployment, crime, and bad schools which will all be made great again.  He talked about America First, a phrase used by Nazi sympathizers who wanted to keep the US out of the second world war.  You can see his competitive model of the world throughout his speech.  Our team is going to start winning again was a key message.  Another key message was giving power back to the people from the corrupt politicians.

Here are some excerpts and my reactions.  You can watch or read it all here.

"Together, we will determine the course of America and the world for years to come."
That was one of two uses of the word 'together.'  The other time it was attached to making America great again.
". . . today we are not merely transferring power from one administration to another, or from one party to another -- but we are transferring power from Washington, D.C. and giving it back to you, the American People."
Exactly who the 'American people' are, who 'you' is supposed to mean is not clear in this speech.  Though I suspect Trump supporters think it means them and Trump opponents think it means Trump supporters too.  
"For too long, a small group in our nation's Capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost. Washington flourished -- but the people did not share in its wealth. Politicians prospered -- but the jobs left, and the factories closed."
Government is the bad guy.  That's a pretty common theme in the US.  I've been thinking about a post that argues government isn't the enemy because it's been taken over by business.  If government is corrupt, whose paying to corrupt it?  All the corporations who spend billions on lobbying to pass laws that help them and kill laws that would make corporations more accountable.  

Trump doesn't mention the non-governmental multi-millionaire and billionaire class that is getting richer at the expense of everyone else, he only mentions their puppets, the politicians.  
"January 20th 2017, will be remembered as the day the people became the rulers of this nation again. The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer."
Who exactly will become the rulers again?  Not Native Americans or African-Americans, since they never were the rulers.  Not Asian-Americans or Hispanics.  Not LGBT folks.  Not women.  Who does that leave?  OK, he does mention women in the next sentence, but this is the 'forgotten men and women.'  Is this where he's talking about the Native Americans and all the others? Why does that seem like putting words in his mouth?  Toni Morrison's essay in the NYTimes offers one explanation of this part of the Trump appeal.
"You came by the tens of millions to become part of a historic movement the likes of which the world has never seen before. At the center of this movement is a crucial conviction: that a nation exists to serve its citizens."
This comes closer to classic Trump rhetoric - 'which the world has never seen before.'  You can make statements like this if you never read about history or about the rest of the world.  
"Americans want great schools for their children, safe neighborhoods for their families, and good jobs for themselves. These are the just and reasonable demands of a righteous public."
I bet if we sat in with the speech writers, we would have heard some debate about whether to mention health care.  Well, maybe not.  I doubt there was any discussion about climate change.

Here is where it begins to sound like a Communist Chinese report on human rights abuses in the US.
"But for too many of our citizens, a different reality exists: Mothers and children trapped in poverty in our inner cities; rusted-out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation; an education system flush with cash, but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of knowledge; and the crime and gangs and drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential."
"This American carnage stops right here and stops right now."
Why don't I think this is a call to restrict the sale of automatic weapons?
"We are one nation -- and their pain is our pain. Their dreams are our dreams; and their success will be our success. We share one heart, one home, and one glorious destiny."
This is the closest this speech comes to a unity theme.  But the idea that Trump feels anyone else's pain just doesn't ring true to me.  
"For many decades, we've enriched foreign industry at the expense of American industry; subsidized the armies of other countries while allowing for the very sad depletion of our military; we've defended other nation's borders while refusing to defend our own; and spent trillions of dollars overseas while America's infrastructure has fallen into disrepair and decay.
We've made other countries rich while the wealth, strength, and confidence of our country has disappeared over the horizon." 
When I was a graduate student, I was surprised to read a review of American foreign aid packages. The aid bills in Congress always stipulate that US products are used to aid other countries and for the most part US companies get contracts to do the work.  It was always a good way to distribute money to American companies and workers in the guise of helping others.  Let's not fool ourselves that spending money abroad hurts the US.  If it did, Congress wouldn't pass those budgets.  They get lobbied by all the companies whose products - often things they can't sell - are going to be bought by the US to ship overseas.  It's a great stimulus to the economy. (See especially the bottom of page 44 in this report.)  And military spending has enriched American businesses since the Revolutionary War.  

Seeing American infrastructure rebuilt would be a great thing.  And it would be great for American businesses to thrive and for them to create lots of good paying jobs to build that infrastructure.  I just don't want them to get unduly wealthy, their employees overworked and underpaid, and a shoddy end product.  
"One by one, the factories shuttered and left our shores, with not even a thought about the millions upon millions of American workers left behind.
The wealth of our middle class has been ripped from their homes and then redistributed across the entire world."
This is a side-effect of capitalism.  Companies work to make a profit.  If they make more profit by going overseas, that's what they'll do.  But as many jobs, maybe more, are lost to automation of jobs.  In the 50s and 60s there were articles about how Americans would spend their leisure time when automation brought the work week to 30 hours.  What those writers weren't thinking was that the benefits would go to the owners, not the workers.  That 'leisure' is called today 'unemployment.'

It seems to me that 'ripped from their homes' was related to unregulated mortgage schemes ultimately the fault of big banks that were making money so fast they didn't care about the consumer.  Government's involvement was that they didn't regulate the banks closely enough.  
"We assembled here today are issuing a new decree to be heard in every city, in every foreign capital, and in every hall of power.
From this day forward, a new vision will govern our land.
From this moment on, it's going to be America First."
As mentioned above, America First, has a dark history.  If Trump sticks to his word here, his friend Vlad is in for a surprise.  I'm not holding my breath.
"Every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs, will be made to benefit American workers and American families. We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our products, stealing our companies, and destroying our jobs. Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength."
No, other countries aren't 'stealing' our companies.  Even though they may be owned by Americans, these are Americans who weigh their costs and benefits and decide to ship jobs overseas.  
"We will reinforce old alliances and form new ones -- and unite the civilized world against radical Islamic terrorism, which we will eradicate completely from the face of the Earth."
I can't in any way defend people who murder women and children in cold blood.  But they are still human beings.  To deny that may be an attempt to distance oneself from the atrocities that humans commit.  The leaders who led the genocides in Africa used similar language - calling their enemies cockroaches to be eradicated.  Dehumanizing the enemy is practiced all over the world.   However misguided ISIS terrorists are, they come from situations where they are alienated enough to be susceptible to recruitment.  And then they are trained to obey orders and be loyal to the group.  

Here's a passage I'd love to have the new president discuss with, say, Charlie Rose or Bill Moyers.
"At the bedrock of our politics will be a total allegiance to the United States of America, and through our loyalty to our country, we will rediscover our loyalty to each other.
When you open your heart to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice. The Bible tells us, "How good and pleasant it is when God's people live together in unity."
Whoa!  Total allegiance to the United States of America!  I imagine a lot of Christians might argue that their first allegiance is to God.  Others might say their allegiance is to all of humankind, not just to Americans.  And what does that mean for people who don't agree with what the United States is doing - say like Trump until today?   Or people who have dual citizenship?  Is that going to be abolished?  What will happen to someone who has only 75% allegiance to the USA?  Should we have more loyalty to corrupt Americans than to saintly citizens of other countries?  

I like that he suggests there is no room for prejudice, but I don't understand how that follows from loyalty to the US. White Nationalists would argue they are completely loyal to the US, but with whites in power.  

Then there is the bible quote.  What exactly does "God's people" mean to Trump?  It's from the Old Testament, so does it refers to Jews?  Is it understood to mean Christians?  Christians and Jews?  What about Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, and atheists?  It would be nice to hear an explanation of what Trump, or the speech writers, had in mind.  

Knowing that bible translations vary greatly, I looked it up.  Of 22 different translations, biblehub  shows only one that mentions "God's people."  All the others refer to when "brethren" or "brothers" live together in unity.  (One says 'brothers and sisters.")  To suggest that it's "good and pleasant' when brethren live together in unity, also suggests that it's common for them not to.  The bible it comes from appears to be one of the most used, which raises questions about how close to the original biblical language most American Christians are.  

This is going to be an interesting four years.  

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Alaska Legislative Info Office Joins Facebook And Twitter

Well, it's a lot cheaper than a new building.

Here's their announcement:  (The links below should help people connect.)


Alaska LIOs Launch New Facebook, Twitter Accounts
Live video/audio links to be shared with Alaska media

Alaska’s Legislative Information Offices will have an increased social media presence as the 30th Alaska Legislature begins this week, providing more ways to keep Alaskans informed about legislative news and events.

The additions include a Legislative Information Office (LIO) Facebook page and the LIO Twitter handle @AKlegislature. The social media platforms will be used to provide immediate notice about new information added to the Legislative Affairs Agency website at

The LIO Facebook page will promote information such as the weekly schedule of committee meetings and events, educational resources, opportunities for public testimony, and more.

The Twitter account will share links to live-streaming video and audio of committee meetings via

In addition, the LIO’s Media Services section will begin distributing video codes to Alaska media outlets interested in hosting the live video and audio feeds produced through To learn more about hosting these live streams contact the Juneau LIO at 465-4648.

“The LIO’s core mission is to provide accurate and timely information to Alaskans to encourage engagement in the legislative process, and having a strong social media presence will go a long way in furthering that goal,” said LIO Manager Charles Westmoreland.

About Legislative Information Offices
Alaska has 23 nonpartisan Legislative Information Offices located throughout the State, with 11 staffed year-round and 12 staffed during the legislative session. The LIOs operate under the Legislative Affairs Agency. To learn more about LIOs and where they are located, visit To learn more about the Legislative Affairs Agency, visit

Contact information
Juneau Legislative Information Office
Phone: (907) 465-4648

Click HERE to visit the Alaska State Legislature Website
Click HERE to watch live streaming of the Alaska State Legislature
Click HERE to send a Public Opinion Message during session

Quick Turnaround

We only got back to Anchorage last Thursday night and already Tuesday we were looking at the Chugach Range from above again.

We're in Seattle at the request of a certain four year old who wanted us at her birthday party.

So we'll stay a while and give her mom some relief.  A win-win situation.  Besides, the temperatures in Anchorage have dropped below zero.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

About This Blog

When I first started blogging, many of the posts were about blogging itself, as I was learning what this is all about.  But once I got out most of the kinks, figured out how to put up pictures and videos, and how to put up a stat counter and tables, I stopped paying that much attention to the technical details, unless I had new problems.

Also, as things went along, I began to have a better sense of why I was blogging and what I was blogging about.  I figured a page on top would be a good intro for people who wanted to know such things.  I've finally put it up today.  It's the top left tab under the header.  Or just click here.   It links to some of the old posts I've done which help people understand what this blog is about.

I also looked on the right hand column and deleted the "Can't Find It?" reference on the upper right.  It  looked like this:

Can't Find It?
1. Try the search blog button, upper left
2. Try Edit on toolbar, then Find in this Page
3. Try the labels list on the lower right.

I think nowadays people are more used to blogs and know how to find things.  

I've also been wanting to change the copyright announcement there and move to Creative Commons, but it seems that is more complicated than it used to be.  So now I have to figure out which of the six options I'm most comfortable with.  

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

How Close Are Trump's Actions To Putin's Priorities?

Is Putin pulling Trump's strings?  Let's look at some of the signs.

What are Putin's biggest obstacles?

1.  NATO, as weak as it is, is still a threat.  Anything he can do weaken NATO would help him restore the Soviet era power balance in Eastern Europe - Ukraine, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, etc.

2.   China has a long, long border with Russia and there's always been conflict on that border.  Anything he can do to weaken China's ties with the US would be helpful.

3.   Turkey holds the key to the waterway from southern Russia.  Good relations with Turkey is to Putin's advantage.  Putin's performance in Syria contributed to refugees into Turkey and Europe, destabilizing the EU and threatening Turkey's acceptance into the EU partnership.  But Putin forgave quickly Turkey shooting down a Russian military plane and is making nice to Turkey.

4.   The US Intelligence agencies are always keeping watch on Russia.  The less capable they are, the more power Russia has.

Now, what are some of the things Trump has been promising to do?

1.  NATO is obsolete and doesn't pay its bills according to Trump.  He's going to shake things up.

2.  Trump's been riling China - congratulations call from Taiwan's president,  Secretary of State nominee Tillerman is challenging China's access to nearby islands.   All this looks aimed at making the US-China relations much more fragile and making China's border with Russia weaker.

3.  Trump supports Erdogan and his strongman ways.

4.  National-Security Republican elite fear they are being kept out of Trump administration.

OK, Trump is anti-establishment and we can expect some of his views to be a big change from the past.  But these all seem to line up in one direction - supportive of Putin's agenda.  They are pretty big deals.

And given the help Russia gave Trump in the campaign, and all the Russia friendly appointments, and the most recent news about Russia's leverage on Trump, I'd say that the evidence is lining up to a very dire conclusion.

It took a lot of [for] people to give up their support of Nixon.  They couldn't believe the president would lie, and it meant a change of their whole way of thinking.  But the Watergate committee in the Senate was made up of Republicans as well as Democrats.  While the Republicans made the Democrats prove things, they weren't in denial, and they didn't stonewall the hearings.  This is going to be 'interesting times.'

Monday, January 16, 2017

Snowy Day In Anchorage

The clouds are low and heavy.

The clouds have been spitting snow all day.

This bull moose snacking on BP trees reminded me why I'm here.

Downtown was quiet on this MLK holiday.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

"The copulation of cattle as an enterprise in Ballona was soon mounted" and Other Notes

1.  Mar Vista History

My mother's house is in a part of Los Angeles called Mar Vista and a local realtor there dropped off a flier with a lengthy excerpt from a history of Mar Vista.  When I looked up the source - the Mar Vista Historical Society - I found the whole long and, for some of us, interesting document.

But I have to say that the sentence in this post's title jumped out at me.  One possible explanation is that this part was translated into English, presumably from Spanish, and the the computer stuck in 'copulation' instead of 'breeding.'  But I can't account for the 'mounted.'

I'd note that the excerpt in the real estate flier left out the story in the original of how the Spanish settlers' land grants displace the indigenous people in the area and then after the Spanish American war, the Americans either invalidated outright or set up administrative barriers that effectively dispossessed the Mexican landowners of their property.

2.  Viewing Sourdough Starter As A Pet

It's been a long time since Cocoa died, but we decided against another dog because we didn't think it fair if we were going to be away for longish periods.  But I realized on this trip, that in some ways my
sourdough starter is a kind of pet.  But one that can stay safely in the refrigerator for fairly long periods of time.  But as we were close to returning to Anchorage, I began to wonder how my starter was doing.

When we got home I took it out, let it warm up a bit, then fed it a bit of flour and water.  Soon it had risen in the jar and was actively bubbling.  So I had to do the sourdough starter equivalent of taking it for a walk, I had to make a bread.

The rubber band around the jar shows where the starter was after I fed it.  When it grows like that, it's like a dog jumping and yipping to go for a walk.

I made two breads.  First a baguette and then a second round loaf.  Here's the baguette.

3.  One Step Closer To Filling The Gap

Picture from Mayo Clinic

Back in October I wrote about the post the oral surgeon embedded in my gum.  On the left is a picture from the Mayo Clinic.  In the October post, I talked about the process and there's a picture of my post implanted in my mouth.

It takes time for the post to get connected firmly to the existing jaw bone.  So Friday the oral surgeon checked to see if it was in ok.  Monday I go to my regular dentist who will do a mold for a new tooth.  The oral surgeon was pleased with his work and said no one would notice.

I couldn't help but think about having the dentist give me a green tooth so they would.  After a bit more thought, I was thinking I should have the tooth on the other side pulled too and get vampire like fangs.  It would be great if you could have several different teeth and you could trade them out by yourself.  I suspect the dentist has to do that.  I'll check on Monday.  The dentist had a full display of teeth in the window sill.

The 'flipper' (sort of like a retainer with a tooth on it) that was supposed to fill the hole until all this work is done, was a pain.  It interfered with speech - my tongue would rub against it on the roof of my mouth when I spoke - and it made eating unpleasant.  It might be a good diet tool, but I found it a pain.  So I wasn't too upset when it disappeared somewhere in the house.  If you don't mind a gappy smile, I'd recommend skipping the flipper.  Fortunately, the missing tooth isn't right in front.

On the way home I passed this hoar frosted hedge.  Most of the trees I saw looked like this. Yesterday there was more snow, warmer temps, and all the frost is gone.

3.  Citizens Climate Lobby Meeting

The second Saturday of the month is the international CCL meeting.  The Anchorage chapter meets at UAA.  The speaker was Yareth Bauman, the man who lead the Washington state's initiative for a revenue neutral carbon fee in that state.  It didn't pass, but it got 40% of the vote, and potential opponents with deep pockets, chose not to campaign against it.

You can listen to the podcast of the meeting here.

4.  Shoveling Snow - My Winter Exercise

Yesterday we got about 5 inches of snow, and showering out the driveway and sidewalk was a productive way to get in some good exercise.  People didn't used to have to go to the gym to stay fit, they just walked more and did chores without all sorts of motorized devices.

When I got back from the meeting, there was another inch of snow and it was windy.  Our mountain ash tree tends to keep its leaves as long as it can and the wind had scattered some of them onto my recently shoveled driveway.  But I got out the shovel and did another rep.   I feel great after 30-60 minutes of moving snow around.

By the late afternoon, there was sunshine and clear sky.

Friday, January 13, 2017

"Those Who Do Not Learn History Are Doomed To Repeat It." BUT How To Use It Right?

People can use the bible to support slavery (and oppose it.)  Or justify male domination over women.  Until Luther, the quote about it being easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, was used to condemn the rich until Luther made being wealthy godly.

And so with learning from history.  We can learn the wrong thing if we choose the wrong event, or interpret it inappropriately for today's situation.   People, including myself, have made comparisons between what is happening in the US now with the rise of the Third Reich in Germany.  There are areas where comparisons are justified - such as how to use the media for propaganda.  We can learn something useful today about that.  But that doesn't mean that the writer thinks Trump is going to copy everything else Hitler did, like set up concentration camps, as some people assume.

I got to thinking about this when I read a passage about Hitler's plundering of art and jewels the other day.

Sergeant Major von Rumpel is a gemologist in Anthony Doerr's All The Light One Cannot See.  
"Because of the war [WWII], his job has expanded.  Now Sergeant Major von Rumpel has the chance to do what no one has done in centuries - not since the Mogul Dynasty, not since the Khans.  Perhaps not in history.  The capitulation of France is only weeks past, and already he has seen things he did not dream he would see in six lifetimes.  A seventeenth-century globe as big around as a small car, with rubies to mark volcanoes, sapphires clustered at the poles, and diamonds for world capitals. He has held - held! - a dagger handle at least four hundred years old, made of white jade and inlaid with emeralds.  Just yesterday, on the road to Vienna, he took possession of a five-hundred-and-seventy-piece china set with a single marquise-cut diamond set into the rim of every single dish.  Where the police confiscated these treasures and from whom, he does not ask. . .
"Rumor is that the führer is compiling a wish list of precious objects from all around Europe and Russia.  They say he intends to remake the Austrian town of Linz into an empyrean city, the cultural capital of the world. . .
"The document is real, von Rumpel has heard.  Four hundred pages." [emphasis added]
While All the Light One Cannot See is fiction, Hitler's plan for museum in Linz was real.  And the plundering of art and other valuables was real.

I don't see Trump with plans to plunder art, but it would probably  be safe to say he has his eye on prime real estate around the world for Trump hotels and towers.   His website shows fourteen Trump hotels, half of which are in the US. That leaves lots of countries without Trump hotels yet.  The Washington Post, for example, says he'd like 20 - 30 in China alone.  

As president of the US, he won't have have to steal them, he can just trade American favors for them.  "Sure, we can sell you some jets.  That means jobs for Americans and, I'd sure like that historic castle to be a Trump hotel."

I'd note that Wikipedia says that Hitler didn't steal everything he collected.  He sent one of his art experts
"on trips to Italy and France to buy artworks, which Hitler paid for with his own money, which came from sales of Mein Kampf, real estate speculation on land in the area of the Berghof, Hitler's mountain retreat on the Obersalzberg, and royalties from Hitler's image used on postage stamps.[28] The latter, which was divided with his official photographer Heinrich Hoffmann, amounted to at least $75 million marks over the course of Hitler's reign.[29]
This, however, was not the primary method used to build up the collection."
Did you skip over that quote?  If you did, you missed the part about him getting royalties from having his image on postage stamps!  Wow. Trump's picture on forever stamps.  With him getting royalties for each stamp.  Now that's something to look forward to.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

We Made It To Seattle

We made it by bus to the airport without it raining on us.

I want to say thanks to Theresa at Alaska Airlines for changing our ticket because she was sure we wouldn't make our connection in Seattle.  (We'd changed our flight that was supposed to stop in Portland to one stopping in Seattle because of the weather.  Alaska lets you change flights when there are big weather issues without having to pay the flight change or change in cost of the ticket.)  We learned another big advantage of being MVP on Alaska.  You get a leg up on the waiting list.  I have issues about this airline class system, but if it exists, I'm glad we were on the right side and I apologize to anyone who might have not gotten on because of us.

We got our ticket and you can see the view through the window above as we waited to take off.

The landscape around Portland was pretty white as we flew by Mt. Hood.

But as we got further north, things were looking better and we landed in the sun in Seattle.

Our gate has been changed from C11 to D1 and my wife is waiting for me to finish this so I will. Be back in Anchorage soon if all goes well.

In LAX Travel Chaos Hoping to Get On This Flight -Updated

Our original flight to Seattle was delayed and the checkin person didn't think we'd make our connection to Anchorage, so she put us on the earlier 11:45 am flight which is overbooked, but she thought we might be able to get on when they upgrade people to First Class.

This one is also delayed.  Passengers are just getting off the plane now.  It's 12 noon.

We've been lucky to avoid this sort of mess most of the time.  I do have an appointment in Anchorage at 1pm tomorrow.  Fingers crossed.

UPDATE  12:12 pm -  we now have boarding passes with seats.   On to Seattle with plenty of time to connect to the Anchorage flight.

UPDATE:  4:40pm the follow up to this post is here.  We made it to Seattle.