Friday, November 17, 2017

Republican Senate Leadership Fund Head Equates Electing A Pedophile to Electing A Democrat

Interviewed by Rachel Martin on Morning Edition today, Steve Law, the head of the Senate Leadership Fund, which supports Republican Senate candidates equated being a Democrat to being as bad as a pedophile.
"[Alabama voters] are going to be faced with a very, very unsavory alternative.  Either they vote for a guy who’s been accused of being a pedophile or else they hand the Senate seat to the Democrats."
This is where Republican politics stands today - picking between a pedophile and a Democrat is a hard choice.

It's this campaign of hatred that we've seen from conservative talk radio, Fox News, and people like Steve Law, that has made it difficult for people to talk civilly.  That has elected Republicans who think Democrats are inherently evil people, not simply people who see the world differently from them.  And as a side-effect, many Democrats have become hardened to believe the same of Republicans.

The part I quoted comes around 5:23 of the audio.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

AIFF 2017: Features in Competition - Pale Blue Dot, Painless, Muse, The Drawer Boy, and American Folk

Features are full length fictional films.  Films in competition are those chosen by the original screeners  to be eligible for awards. 

I'd note that while these are the screeners picks, screeners don't always agree, so some might have chosen other features as the best.  I often disagree with the screeners, but this is a good start as you try to figure out what to watch.  There are always gems that don't make it to this list.  And you might find films on topics that you want to see or from a country you're interested in, even if they aren't in competition.

Features in CompetitionDirectorCountryLength
American Folk 
David Heinz
The Drawer Boy
Arturo Perez Torres
John Burr
Jordan Horowitz
Pale Blue Dot Girish Mohite

I'm not making any judgments here except that I'm posting the films in competition - those eligible for an award.  These are just descriptions, interviews, pictures and video I've found on line to give people a sense of what's coming to Anchorage Dec. 1.

American Folk
David Heinz
Showing: Sunday Dec. 3,  at 8:15pm Beartooth

"When their plane from Los Angeles to New York is grounded on the morning ofSeptember 11, 2001, strangers Elliott (Joe Purdy) and Joni (Amber Rubarth) are unexpectedly thrust together amidst the chaos of that historic day. With little in common but both needing to get to NYC urgently, they accept help from Joni's family friend Scottie (Krisha Fairchild) who lends the duo a rusty old 1972 Chevy Van. The shock and stress of 9/11 quickly threatens to derail their cross country journey until the pair discover what they do have in common: a love for old folk songs. Armed with a pile of guitars left in the van from Scottie’s touring days, Elliott and Joni raise their voices together (and with those they meet on the road), re-discovering the healing nature of music and bearing witness to a nation of people who, even while mourning, manage to lift each other up in the wake of tragedy.?


The Drawer Boy  
Arturo Perez Torres
Showing:  Monday Dec. 4  5:30pm Bear Tooth

From  Evan Dossey in the Midwest Film Journal:
"The Drawer Boy (Draw-er, as in, a boy who draws) is an adaptation of Michael Healey’s 1999 play about Miles (Jakob Ehman), a traveling actor who shows up at a farm owned by Angus (Stuart Hughes) and Morgan (Richard Clarkin) with the hopes of staying in their house, helping around the farm and learning what it’s like to be a rural Canadian.
Angus takes care of most of the work as well as Morgan, who has severe short-term memory loss. As Miles learns the ebb and flow of a farmer’s life, he also begins to uncover the tragic story that led to Morgan’s condition.
To director Arturor Perez Torres’ credit, The Drawer Boy captures the staging and performances you’d expect from a stage production without sacrificing opportunities afforded by the cinematic lens. It’s a beautifully shot movie. There’s a tendency for stage-to-film adaptations to sometimes come across as something stuck between the two mediums in a way that satisfies neither. That’s not the case here."

 This is probably a movie that you don't need to know anything about.  Just go and let it unfold with no expectations.

The Drawer Boy - Trailer from Open City Works on Vimeo.


John Burr
Showing:  Saturday Dec. 2, 3:30pm E Street Theater (315 E St)

From the Muse Twitter Site:
"A struggling painter's life is changed forever when he meets a Leannán Sí - a mythical Irish muse who takes an artist as a lover and defends him from any threat"
It was "The Projectionist's Favorite" at Frackfest in Oklahoma City.

And there's a review at Horror Freak News that ominously begins:

"I’ll first shower the film with the praise it so rightfully deserves, but then – unfortunately I’ll have to also discuss the bevy of negatives – which the film also contains.?


Jordan Horowitz
Showing:  Saturday Dec 2, 1:45  AK Experience Small 
                  Friday Dec 9, 7:45pm AK Experience Large

Here's the Painless website synopsis:

"Henry Long was born with a rare condition that leaves him unable to feel physical pain. Life for him is a daily struggle, never knowing when he might become seriously injured without realizing it, or worse, die from an internal injury he never knew existed. He lives in a constant state of fear and is completely alienated from those around him who cannot relate to his daily struggles.
Barricading himself in a world of science, Henry has dedicated his life to finding a cure so that he can one day know what it’s like to feel ‘normal.’ When he discovers a promising drug that he is unable to obtain on his own, he gets involved with a dangerous scientist with a dark past and his own secret agenda. Henry must decide if his need for normalcy is worth paying the ultimate price before it’s too late.
Based on actual medical science, Painless looks at the dark side of life with a rare condition and the challenges both symptomatic and social that people with these conditions face."

You can listen to David Majzlin's sound track for Painless here.


Pale Blue Dot 
Girish Mohite
Showing:  Sunday, Dec. 3  11:45am AK Experience Small 
                      Saturday, Dec. 9, 2:30pm AK Experience Small 

I couldn't find much on this film.  

From Filter Copy - An Indian website reporting on this year's Mumbai Film Festival last month which highlighted 13 of the festival films including Pale Blue Dot.
"Synopsis: Sarvanaam, or the Pale Blue Dot, was birthed when a photograph taken by a NASA Voyager showed the earth to be smaller than a pixel from a distance of 6 billion km in space. The very fact that the Earth is as miniscule as a grain of sand in the eternal expanse of the universe brings forth questions about the weight of our existence and death."

From The Hindu, a page of very short questions and answers at the Mumbai Film Festival dated October 2017.  Directer Girish Mohite was asked

What is your film about?
"It is about the existence of hum life and our fear of death - the eternal question that haunts us all our life"
I can imagine his head rolling back and forth as he gives this answer.
The next question was:  What should the MAMI crowd expect to see?
"I have filmed the entire feature film in natural light without resorting to artificial sets.  I have treated the subject as seen through the eyes of the central character - a man who is struggling with these thoughts about life and death when a person close to him in on the verge of dying."
I couldn't find a trailer for this film.  

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

My Slow Bumpy Road From Yosemite To High Sierra - Update

Let me be clear, I'm talking about computer upgrades, not a physical trek in California.  I wrote about this earlier.  How I had to make half a dozen calls to Apple to get this done.  And then when I tried to install it it took forever.  So I decided to wait til we went to Seattle where I'd have a faster internet connection.

I'm in Seattle (well a short ferry ride away) and so last night I decided to do the installation of High Sierra on my MacBook pro.

I'm here to report that it went fairly quickly - less than an hour in total - and everything seems to be intact, though time will tell.  I haven't noticed any problems or any significant improvements either yet.  When I looked online it said most of the changes were under the hood.

The key advantages should be with Safari.  I'd been getting notices from different companies - like my credit card company - that my browser was not secure and I couldn't take some actions on their sites.  I had to go to Firefox to make that happen.  I also had trouble sending messages in Twitter, and messages in FB weren't working right either.  I haven't checked them.

Just want to report that the upgrade, so far - after the initial problems I reported on - went fine.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Are Your Snow Tires Locked Up At Johnson Tires? You Can Pick Them Up Now

I posted last week about the sudden closure of Johnson Tires, just as people are changing from their
summer to winter tires. (I know for people without snow and ice, this probably doesn't make much sense. I was like that long ago.)

While writing about that, I contacted Cynthia Franklin, Assistant Attorney General at the Consumer Protection Unit.

She got back to me this morning again:
"The bank is trying to return the tires and is holding return hours this week Mon-Fri from 12-2 pm and 4-6 pm. They are trying to get the word out as they have 150 sets of tires and only 20 people have come by so far."
So, if you've got your tires there and haven't been able to retrieve them, you can now.  Let others know.  

I think you can get them at Johnson Tires old building (yes, at 3330 Denali).  The bank is Northrim, who had the mortgage for the building.    The bank employees helping return tires are Tina and Katie.

Blogger Note:  Took the tire track picture Saturday.  I liked the pattern, but it didn't really fit into any of my posts.  Until now.  Coincidentally, this is where the old Northrim Bank used to be at 36th between Old and New Seward Highways.  

Monday, November 13, 2017

Anchorage to Seattle: A Couple of Shots

Starting out a little early for a family Thanksgiving gathering.  Already got a couple of serious hugs from one grandchild and a couple of more coming soon.   I'll slide by with some pictures of our transition from sunny and cold to cloudy and wet.

The mudflats of the inlet on the right and the land of Matsu on the left.

Blowing snow on the peaks as we fly over the Chugach toward Prince William Sound on our way south.

A little bubble of cloud in a mass of clouds over Seattle.

Cloudscape over Seattle.

It was windy and wet as we got off the plane.  Had a nice, if short chat, waiting for baggage with a former student who lives here now.  Then train and ferry to my daughter.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Alabama Voters Could Elect Roy Moore Again - UPDATED 11/16/17

[UPDATE Nov. 16, 2017:  Here's a Washington Post article that lists the scenarios in this race they see ranked from least likely to most likely:
6.  Moore drops out before Dec. 12 election.
5.  A new election is held
4.  The state party forces Moore out
3.  Moore stays in but another Republican launches a write-in campaign
2.  Moore stays in the race and he wins or loses
1.  Moore stays in the race, wins, and the Senate expels him (Yes, this is their most likely scenario)

Reporter Amber Phillips points out Scenario 1 would take time, all during an election year.]

I admit, I have biases about states like Alabama and Mississippi.  My impressions are not just whimsy.   Their records on racism are abominable.  They are poor on other factors that suggest a parochial self-awarenss and low  levels of general knowledge and critical thinking abilities.

Alabama ranked last in quality of school at Nationsreportcard, Mississippi ranked 6 from the bottom.  (I would note Mississippi was ahead of California.)  I'd also note that Alabama ranked 39th among states and Mississippi 45th in the US News and World Reports ranking of states on K-12 education.

I'd note a Gallup poll that says nationwide, 38% of the population believes in creationism and that the world is 10,000 years old or less.  It's not broken down by state, but Alabama matches the the characteristics of believers (less education, Protestantism, regular church attendance) better than most states.

Alabama and Louisiana ranks highest with 90%of people who say religion is very important in their lives. says Alabama is the 6th poorest state in the nation.  Alabama and Mississippi have regularly ranked #1 or #2 for number of adherents to the Southern Baptist convention and percentage of population that is Southern Baptist.  This is a denomination, from what I can tell, that encourages independent thinking and rationality in its members, only to the extent that it conforms to a literal interpretation of the Bible.  The Southern Baptist interpretation.

Is there a chance Alabama won't elect Roy Moore to the US Senate?

The Berlin Wall fell and gay marriage is legal in the United States, so anything is possible.

There are, after all, Democrats still in Alabama.  Finding out how many Democrats isn't that easy.  I've gone through the state of Alabama election website.  The voter registration page only tells you how to vote.  It doesn't give any numbers of registration by party.

Wikipedia's Alabama Democrats page just tells us how many Democrats are in the state government:

  • 8 out of 35 seats in the state senate  
  • 33 out of 105 seats in the state house,
  • 1 out of 6  seats in the US House, and 
  • 0 of Alabama's 2 US Senate seats  

So, Democrats are there.

I did find a page where I could download voter registration statistics. Here's what got downloaded for 2017. (Well, I'm just giving you the totals, not the county by county numbers.) It was by race, not party.

Total Active & Inactive
American Indian
Federally-Registered (may be of any race)
Not Identified
Total Active
TOTAL   3,253,717    19,157    11,644    843,794    2,364    27,360    46    2,260,945    30,885    9,547    3,205,742 

And I found an article on by Kyle Whitmire whose article is similar to one I wrote in 2014 about Anchorage voter registration statistics.  Whittier points out that if Alabama really had 3,330,802 registered voters (his numbers are from 2016), then 99% of eligible voters would be registered.  Way beyond the highest stats for any state.

[I did find another page on the Alabama election site (the Secretary of State site) that has some election results from 1984 to 2014.]

The New York Times says that 729,547 Alabamans voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016.  That was 34% of the vote.  Trump got 62%.

The Alabama Secretary of State page does show the results of the recent Republican primary.
Roy Moore got 262,207 votes for 56%.
Luther Strange got 218,066 votes for 44%.
That was a total 480,270 votes in the Republican primary.  Presumably these were Republicans because it was the Republican primary.

So, if all the registered African-Americans voted for the Democratic candidate Doug Jones and all the people who voted in the primary voted for Moore, Jones would win.

But it seems Moore's political incantations drip with the kinds of magic words that sway enough Alabamans, words like Jesus, Bible, Fake News, Ten Commandments, New York times, Lies, Hillary Clinton, and Donald Trump.  If his spells still work he'll be sitting in the US Senate next January.

But, if Democrats can get all their folks to the polls (not an easy thing to do in Alabama with its history of voter intimidation) and enough Republicans sit the election out, the Republican majority in the Senate could drop to 51-49.

But remember, this is the guy who defied the federal courts with his marble ten commandments in the Alabama Supreme Court and who was reelected to that court after he was kicked off.

But will enough Alabamans vote against him because of his dalliances with a 14 year old?  I don't think it will be that big a deal for most of them.

Both Alabama and Mississippi are among the highest states for teen pregnancies.  Someone's having sex with Alabama's teens.  And they're not going to be repulsed by his record.

Findlaw tells us that the minimum age for marriage in Alabama is 16 (for boys and girls) WITH parental permission.  18 without.  However, there's a comment:
"Marriage under 16 is voidable, not void. Marriage between 16 and 18 without parental consent is not grounds for annulment."
This is a story that isn't going to end until the elections (if then) so stand by.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

How Many Veterans From How Many Wars?

On Memorial Day we honor those who died in war.  On Veterans Day we honor those who survived war.  More on the difference between the two holidays here.  Let's take a moment to reflect on how many died and how many survived the wars the United States fought in.

The list below is from the Veterans Administration.  (you can adjust the size in the file below)

Americas Wars by Steve on Scribd

When you get to the bottom of page one, there's a link to The Global War On Terrorism. That link gets you to a page that gives you urls that get here.

It turns out The Global War on Terrorism is made up of a series of operations.

From Defense Casualty Analysis System - Click to enlarge and focus

From Wikipedia:
"Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) is the official name used by the U.S. government for the Global War on Terrorism between 2001 and 2014. On October 7, 2001, in response to the September 11 attacks, President George W. Bush announced that airstrikes targeting Al Qaeda and the Taliban had begun in Afghanistan.[8] Operation Enduring Freedom primarily refers to the War in Afghanistan,[9][10] but it is also affiliated with counterterrorism operations in other countries, such as OEF-Philippines and OEF-Trans Sahara.[11][12]
After 13 years, on December 28, 2014, President Barack Obama announced the end of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.[13] Continued operations in Afghanistan by the United States' military forces, both non-combat and combat, now occur under the name Operation Freedom's Sentinel.[14]"
Hagel said, "In Operation Freedom's Sentinel, the United States will pursue two missions with the support of the Afghan government and the Afghan people."
"We will work with our allies and partners as part of NATO's Resolute Support Mission to continue training, advising, and assisting Afghan security forces," he added. "And we will continue our counterterrorism mission against the remnants of Al Qaeda to ensure that Afghanistan is never again used to stage attacks against our homeland."
On the chart, we also have Operation Iraqi Freedom which happened while Enduring Freedom was still going on.  From the Congressional Research Service:
"Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), the U.S.-led coalition military operation in Iraq, was launched on March 20, 2003, with the immediate stated goal of removing Saddam Hussein’s regime and destroying its ability to use weapons of mass destruction or to make them available to terrorists. Over time, the focus of OIF shifted from regime removal to the more open-ended mission of helping the Government of Iraq (GoI) improve security, establish a system of governance, and foster economic development."
Also in there is Operation New Dawn.  From an Army site:
"During Operation New Dawn, the remaining 50,000 U.S. servicemembers serving in Iraq will conduct stability operations, focusing on advising, assisting and training Iraqi Security Forces (ISF). Operation New Dawn also represents a shift from a predominantly military U.S. presence to one that is predominantly civilian, as the Departments of Defense and State work together with governmental and non-governmental agencies to help build Iraq's civil capacity."

And Finally there is Operation Inherent Resolve.  From a military page:
On 17 October 2014, the Department of Defense formally established Combined Joint Task Force - Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR) in order to formalize ongoing military actions against the rising threat posed by ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Fueled by sectarian conflicts and division, ISIS ascended from relative obscurity in 2013 to propagate an extremist socio-political ideology, and claimed to have created an Islamic caliphate. Its successful acquisition of conventional weapons, establishment of armed formations, rapid territorial growth and unconscionable atrocities shocked the world and destabilized the region. By June 2014, the security situation in Iraq had deteriorated with the Iraqi cities of Mosul and Tikrit falling in rapid succession to ISIS aggressors.

The numbers of military who took part, were killed or wounded, is documented differently.  You can poke around that page and get numbers for each of the Operations.  Be careful to note that in most of the tables, deaths are 'per 100,000" serving.  So actual deaths have to be multiplied. If there are 1 million serving, you need to multiply by ten.  And they use somewhat  different categories.

The following document had some particularly shocking statistics.  The percentage of African-American deaths is much higher than African-American's percentage in the US population (13%).
According to the chart, in the Persian Gulf war 17% of the men who were killed were African American and 20% of the women killed were African American.
In all the wars since 1980, 17% of the men killed were African American and 26% of the women killed were African American.  And these numbers only go to July 25, 2009.  We don't know about the next six years.

It seems to me the Pentagon should have been studying those numbers to determine why.  Are black women significantly more likely to be in the military?  If so, why does that seem to be a better option for them than living with their families in the US?
If not, why are they being killed more than others?  Are white women more likely to be officers (who the other statistics say are killed much less than enlisted military), are they sacrificed, do the commit suicide more?  Whatever the answers, we should have documented explanations.

After I wrote that I googled and found this 2013 NYTimes article on a PEW study of African-American women in the military.  Yes, African American women make up a much higher percentage of women in the military than in the US population as a whole - about one-third.  But they haven't studied why, though the military says they match their recruiting target well:
"[Beth J. Asch, a senior economist and defense manpower specialist at the Rand Corporation] suggested that the military tries to attract high school graduates who are looking for job training, good benefits and help with college tuition — and that a high percentage of black women fit that bill."
Lots to think about on Veterans Day.

And here's another list that seems to be for Enduring Bullshit:

Friday, November 10, 2017

Trump's China Deals And Alaska's Liquid Natural Gas Pipeline

NPR had a report on Trump's visit to China the other day and the story essentially said China was eating our lunch.  I'm going to offer you a fair amount here, because it's all relevant, but the key points are:

1.  Trump has sidelined the professionals who know China and replaced them with political hacks.  
2.  Even with seasoned professionals at the table for the US, China is one of the most restrictive countries for foreign businesses and the US is one of the most open, giving China great advantages.
3.  China has regularly supported its private companies so they could compete with an unfair advantage overseas.
4.  China, when it does work with foreign companies, requires partnerships with Chinese companies and access to all their technology advances.  

OK, here's from the NPR piece, just before this point there's a discussion about American beef having a much higher tariff than Australian beef.
"James McGregor, president of the greater China region for the consulting firm APCO, says China's lifting of the U.S. beef ban in May is the latest case of too little, too late. And he's not optimistic the Trump administration is focused enough to improve business for U.S. companies in China.
"There is no strategy and professionals are not involved," he says. "The people from [the U.S. Trade Representative's office] and Commerce and State are sidelined."
McGregor says instead of representatives from the U.S. Trade Representative and other government staff who typically deal with China, President Trump has political appointees with little to no trade experience engaging with the Chinese.
"It's really been a farce," says McGregor. "And if it continues like this, it's really going to hurt American business. The Chinese are pros. They know what they're doing.
Anybody sitting on the other side of the table as Chinese negotiator has been doing that subject for 20 years."
McGregor says Chinese negotiators have called friends of his in Beijing to see what the Chinese side could give to Trump during his Beijing visit to please his base. He calls these "Twitterable deliverables," and he puts the lifting of the Chinese ban on U.S. beef in this category: an easily promotable gift that, because it has come so late, may not have a meaningful impact on the U.S. economy."

What would have an impact, says William Zarit, chairman of the board at the American Chamber of Commerce in China, is forcing China to open its markets to U.S. business and to stop giving preferential treatment to Beijing's own so-called "global champion" companies. Tech giants Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent, as well as telecommunications company Huawei, have all received generous support from Beijing. 
"These global champions are being nurtured in the domestic market with protection and with strong state support, so that in some ways, when these companies go international, it's tantamount to a Western company competing with the country," says Zarit. 
And when U.S. companies come to China, they're often forced to hand over their technology and enter into joint ventures with Chinese partners. U.S. companies in at least 10 sectors — including automotive, healthcare, tech and entertainment — have investment caps preventing them from competing with Chinese companies on a fair playing field. Chinese companies in these sectors have no such caps in the U.S. market.

I thought about this as I read  the Alaska Dispatch New account of the an Alaska deal signed with China's Sinopec, two large Chinese financial institutions, and the Chinese government to move along  the governor's pet project, the one he ran for governor to accomplish, a liquid natural gas pipeline.  

Are we once again the colony having our resources exploited by wealthy Outsiders?  Is the governor making too many concessions because this project is so important to him?  Are the Chinese giving Trump some empty fluff he can use to show his base how successful his trip was?  The ADN article said that nothing was really final and that "senior Sinopec executives weren't aware of the gas pipeline deal with Alaska."

Our governor is smarter and more pragmatic than most of our politicians.  He spent time as a lawyer in court over oil and gas issues.  That's a good way to learn to understand a business and the players in it.  

Maybe the best thing for the state is to just be able to use the gas we have to raise revenue while we can.  There don't seem to be any details available and we probably don't have that much leverage anyway.   Though I have wondered, with global warming, whether we might spare the $43 billion price tag for the pipeline (which experience suggests will be considerably higher in the end) and just wait a few years until tankers can pick up the gas directly from the North Slope.

But for now, we're part of Trump's evidence of what a great negotiator he is.  And maybe it's a show of Governor Walker's smarts, that he's willing to let Trump get the credit.  Stay tuned, this is going to be a long process.

Thursday, November 09, 2017

AIFF 2017: Anchorage International Film Festival Starts In Less Than A Month

On December 1 to be imprecise.  Well that's the official opening date, but they've snuck in stuff on November 30 already.

The Thursday evening event is free, at (and co-sponsored with), the museum.  It's a movie called "Keep Talking" 
"Four Alaska Native women learning to teach their critically endangered language, as only 41 fluent Elders still speak Kodiak Alutiiq. The grit and resilience of these women helps them overcome historical trauma, politics and personal demons as they evolve into 'language warriors'"
I think this is great.  My view is that each human language is like a volume of the encyclopedia of human knowledge.  It holds the wisdom that each culture has gathered because of the niche it has in the world.  It's the knowledge that language group has gained because of where and when it lived.  While much is stuff we all know, each language has unique words and insights about the world, and we never know when suddenly their knowledge will be important to the rest of us.  So preserving a language is an incredibly heroic act for humanity - like saving a library.  

Then on Friday, there's a discussion about documentaries at noon, a look at some of the shorts at 2pm and then opening night will be. . .


Not a feature. 

Shaking things up a bit.  I think it's a good call since features tend to get the most attention and often the shorts are terrific.  

So go check out the website and the schedule.  On the schedule page, in the upper left hand corner is a grey button "SCHEDULE."  If you hit the drop down button, you can get "Expanded" - a more detailed version of the link;  or "Grid" showing all the films, where, and when together in time blocks;  or "By Venue"which groups them by where they are playing.  

And there are a couple of new venues.  

The Alaska Experience Theater's large and small theaters have been part of the festival for a while now.  But in the back of that area is a large room, more of a banquet room, now known as the Port View Room.  It's been there all along, but now it has a name and events are scheduled there.  (I think a few things have ended up there in the past, but it's more official now.)

And then there is the F [E] Street Theater.  I haven't been there, but it's on, drumroll, F [E] Street, between 3rd and 4rth Avenues.  [Hope you note my mistake their and make mental corrections - it's the E Street Theater.]

Plus, of course, the Bear Tooth.

One last thing.  Volunteers Needed.  They are still inviting people to volunteer for various activities.  It's a cool way to get involved and get to see a movie or two as well as meet lots of interesting people.  Here's the link that tells you about VOLUNTEERING.

I've also put up a tab on top for AIFF 2017 where I'll keep an index of all my festival posts and, once the festival starts, give daily tips of what's showing.   

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Lewis Cowan Killed Fred French

It's a long drive from Yosemite to Los Angeles, so when we got to Fresno, I was ready for a break and the car was ready for some gas.  I figure that smaller towns are easier to navigate - to get on and off the highway, find gas, stop and walk around a bit - so we skipped Fresno and decided on Kingsburg.  We had stopped in a town called Kingston over night on the way to Yosemite, so this seemed like good symmetry. 

I don't want to keep you waiting for Lew Cowan too long, so here's his wanted poster.  Click it to enlarge and focus.  The details of the crime are below.

We found the poster in the Kingsburg historic jail.  Which we found strolling a downtown street. As you can see from the horse in the picture below, there's a Swedish flavor to this town as well.

We followed the sign  (above the horse's head) down a cute little passageway to the jail where we found this yellow poster about the dastardly deed.  You can click on the image to see it better, or you can just read the transcript next to it.

"On the night of November 2, 1916, Fred French, while performing his duties of deputy night watchman for the community of Kingsburg, encountered Lew Cowan behaving in a drunken and disorderly manner in the pool hall. Cowan and French engaged in a wrestling match, and bystanders pulled them apart, whereupon Cowan ran away. French then called Constable George Boyle who along with U.S. Marshall S.J. Shannon, found and arrested Cowan. Cowan also caused a disturbance at that time and managed to land a punch to the face of Boyle. They took Cowan to jail, but by that time he had become calm and pleaded that he was sorry and would go home and sleep it off if they would just release him. Constable Boyle then took him home.
Cowan's mother received him at home, but could not stop him from collecting a shotgun and shells and leaving the house. He met a fellow named, "Larson," who had been with him in the initial altercation in the pool hall. Allegedly he threatened Larson and force him to accompany him. The two men walked to the railroad depot, where they spotted French leaning against a fence. Cowan raised the gun and fired both barrels, hitting French in the head and killing him instantly.
Cowan sent Larson home and absconded. Ensuing searches failed to find Cowan.
In her book, "Bit of Sweden in the Desert," Pauline Peterson Mathes, gave this account: "Thirteen years after her father's murder and the day after her mother's funeral Alice (Fred French's daughter) was sweeping the sidewalk in front of their home when and old looking, bearded man came along, tapping a cane as he walked. He asked if that was Fred French's house. She told him her father had been dead for 13 years, having been murdered in 1916. The old man then looked at her with tears streaming down his face, and said, 'Oh, I'm really sorry to hear that.' He went on in the general direction of the old Cowan place. Was that old man Lew Cowan? We'll never know.'"
Drunks with guns isn't a new problem.  This happened 101 years ago last week.

Here's the actual jail.

 And out back, there's a person escapiing.  The muralist makes it look pretty real.

We were there about three weeks ago, but I did want to share our short diversion from the drive.  Kingsburg is on Highway 99, a road my dad and I rode summers for our vacations together in when I was kid.  It was a two lane highway most of the way and went right through the center of town.  Now it's four to eight lanes most of the way and full of big trucks.  Very unpleasant driving.  But reasonably fast.

The Kingsburg Historic Park website has more pictures of the inside - much better than the ones I took - so you can see more there.  There's lots to see in this world, if you just take the time to let it find you.

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

From Flavor and Soul to Muslim Cool On UAA's New Book Shelf

I thought this was going to be a quick post.  Just some pictures of books I saw at the library.  A reminder to me and others of how much we don't know and all the wondrous books out there that will fill in some of the gaps.  This has taken much longer than I expected as I got engrossed in finding out more about these books.

These books were in the new book section of the library.  But then I realized some of these were hardly 'new' books.  So I went back to find the publication dates of all of them.  I have question for the acquisition office of the library about how some of these were chosen.  I know when I've asked that question in the past, there were some that were gifts which might explain a few.

Nahid Aslanbeigui and GuyArthur Oakes,  Cecil Pigou (2015)

"The British economist Arthur Cecil Pigou (1877-59) reconceptualized economics as a theory of economic welfare and a logic of policy analysis. Misconceptions of his work abound. This book, an essay in demystification and the first reading of the entire Pigouvian oeuvre, stresses his pragmatic and historicist premises." From Palsgrave (the publisher.)

Karen Tei Yamashita, Brazil-Maru (2010)

"A range of characters, male and female, tell about a particular group of Japanese who emigrated to Brazil in the first decades of this century. Christian, well-educated, and reasonably affluent, they sought to establish communities where Christian and Japanese values could flourish. The group prospered, though not without cost, and it is this cost that's a major theme here. A secondary theme, suggested by the quotes from the philosopher Rousseau that precede each section, is the nature of education in a new world where emigrants' children often have only 'natural and purely physical knowledge.''' From Kirkus Reviews.

'New' at the UAA library means new to the library.  The review quoted above was published in 2010.

James Hinton, The Mass Observers (2013)

Even after reading the book cover flap, I still wasn't sure what 'mass observers' meant.  I guess in UK people know what this is.  From Google Books:

"This is the first full-scale history of Mass-Observation, the independent social research organisation which, between 1937 and 1949, set out to document the attitudes, opinions, and every-day lives of the British people. Through a combination of anthropological fieldwork, opinion surveys, and written testimony solicited from hundreds of volunteers, Mass-Observation created a huge archive of popular life during a tumultuous decade which remains central to British national identity. The social history of these years has been immeasurably enriched by the archive, and extracts from the writings of M-O's volunteers have won a wide and admiring audience. Now James Hinton, whose acclaimed Nine Wartime Lives demonstrated how the intensely personal writing of some of M-O's volunteers could be used to shed light on broader historical issues, has written a wonderfully vivid and evocative account which does justice not only to the two founders whose tempestuous relationship dominated the early years of Mass-Observation, but also to the dozens of creative and imaginative, and until now largely unknown, young enthusiasts whose work helped to keep the show on the road. The history of the organisation itself - the staff, the research methods, the struggle for funding, M-O's characteristic 'voice', and its role in the cultural and political life of the period - are themselves as interesting as any of the themes that the founders set out to document. This long-awaited and deeply researched history corrects and revises much of our existing knowledge of Mass-Observation, opens up new and important perspectives on the organisation, and will be seen as the authoritative account for years to come."

Anthea Taylor  Celebrity and the Feminist Blockbuster (2016)

"In the first book-length study of celebrity feminism, Anthea Taylor convincingly argues that the most visible feminists in the mediasphere have been authors of bestselling works of non-fiction: feminist ‘blockbusters’. Celebrity and The Feminist Blockbuster explores how the authors of these popular feminist books have shaped the public identity of modern feminism, in some cases over many decades. Maintaining a distinction between women who are famous because of their feminism and those who later add feminism to their ‘brand’, Taylor contends that Western celebrity feminism, as a political mode of public subjectivity, cannot in any simple way be seen as homologous with other forms of stardom. " Again, from Palgrave

W. G. Sebald  Die Ringe des Saturn (1995 German, 1998 English according to Wikipedia)

This is one of those cases where the similarities between English and German are so close that I don't have to translate the title.

It's not science fiction, or even science from what I could tell.   It's a travel book of Seabed's walking trip through the  rural Suffolk heath and coast where he finds traces of past glories and scandals.

Since people who can't read German won't read this book, I'll post a German description:

"Einer geht zu Fuß. Er wandert durch die Grafschaft Suffolk, eine spärlich besiedelte Gegend an der englischen Ostküste, und dort findet er, in den Heidelandschaften und abgelegenen Küstenorten, die ganze Welt wieder. Überall stößt er auf die Spuren vergangener Herrlichkeit und vergangener Schande."

John Gennari  Flavor and Soul (2017)

Another interesting looking book - this one looks at the overlap of American Italian and Black cultures.  See more at the University of Chicago Press.

Joel C. Rosenberg Inside the Revolution

This is listed as a non-fiction book and Rosenberg's cached website says it's based on hundreds of interviews including former CIA chief Porter Goss, Israeli prime minister Netanyahu, and "more than 150 Christian pastors and ministry leaders operating deep inside the Islamic world."  The website also has a link to books on biblical prophecy.  I can't tell if that's part of this book or not.

Elliot's Blog ("Generally Christian Book Reviews") tells us more about the book:

"Inside the Revolution takes the reader on a journey through the histories and present-day mindsets of three distinct religious groups in the Middle East: the radical, fundamentalist Muslims; the peace-loving, open-minded mainstream Muslims; and the Christ-following Christian converts (former-Muslims and non-). What drove Osama Bin Laden to become the man he was and relish the things he did? What do the Muslims in your town really think of Al Qaeda and jihad? How many Christians are worshiping in Iran, and how does the government treat them? The answers to all these questions (and so many more ) are developed throughout this book, a well-researched and beautifully arranged masterpiece on the roots of what has recently brought our world into its nervous instability."
   From Wikipedia:
"Rosenberg was born in 1967 near Rochester, New York. He has stated that his father is of Jewish descent and his mother was born into a Methodist family of English descent.  His parents were agnostic and became born-again Christians when he was a child in 1973. At the age of 17, he became a born-again Christian and now identifies as a Jewish believer in Jesus. He graduated in 1988 from Syracuse University, after which he worked for Rush Limbaugh as a research assistant. Later, he worked for U.S. Presidential candidate Steve Forbes as a campaign advisor. Rosenberg opened a political consultancy business which he ran until 2000, and claims to have consulted for former Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Natan Sharansky and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, where he says that he garnered much of his information on the Middle East that he uses in his books."

Rafe Blaufarb The Great Demarcation (2016)

"The French Revolution remade the system of property-holding that had existed in France before 1789. This book engages with this historical process not from an economic or social perspective, but from the perspective of the laws and institutions of property. The revolutionary changes aimed at two fundamental goals: the removal of formal public power from the sphere of property and the excision of property from the realm of sovereignty. The revolutionaries accomplished these two aims by abolishing privately owned forms of power, such as feudalism, seigneurialism, and venal public office, and by dismantling the Crown domain, thus making the state purely sovereign. This brought about a Great Demarcation: a radical distinction between property and power from which flowed the critical distinctions between the political and the social, state and society, sovereignty and ownership, the public and private. This destroyed the conceptual basis of the Old Regime, laid the foundation of France’s new constitutional order, and crystallized modern ways of thinking about polities and societies. . . "  From Oxford Scholarship.

Jan Brandt  Against the World (2011 German, 2016 English)

When I opened the book, I was surprised that someone had already made notes in the first few pages.  Then I realized these notes were part of the book.  The dust jacket reviews were sensational, something like these from the German publisher Dumont:

“Jan Brandt’s outstanding debut novel. (…) Brandt changes perspectives and times with the utmost of ease, and his novel is consequently a grandiose 360 degree view of a small world where more of the larger world outside is reflected than its inhabitants themselves can recognise at times.”
SPIEGEL online
“A stunning, wonderfully presumptuous book, triumphant in its obsession for details and lexical richness, that is aimed a world of hindrance and oppression. (…) The result is an expansive mediation on friendship, the power of music, love and other cruelties. (…) It is splendid how the 37-year old is capable of driving on his complex and multifaceted story about a handful of characters over hundreds of pages with-out ever boring the reader – and it leads one to hope for more from the pen of this manic realist.”
Rolling Stone
A still admiring, but also critical review, that would have Brandt taking advice from Robert Frost to keep it concise comes from Dialog International:
". . . What's frustrating is that Gegen die Welt contains several excellent sections and strands that could be crafted into terrific novellas or novels.  I especially liked the character Bernhard "Hard" Kupers, Daniel's father, a funny and energetic small businessman who does whatever it takes - including arson - keep his drug store afloat, even as he indulges in gambling and adulterous affairs. The dialogue between Hard and his wife "Biggi" is pure comedy.  The strongest piece of writing is the story of the locomotive driver who suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome after two young people throw themselves in front of his train.  His story goes on for over 150 pages - the bottom half the page, while the top half continues the saga of Daniel Kupers.
Jan Brandt has many such "techniques" for tormenting his readers, and I confess I put the book down for weeks at a time. But, to the author's credit, I did decide to finish Gegen die Welt, and, reading the last third of the novel, I realized Brandt's true achievement.  Gegen die Welt was published in 2011, three years before Pegida  or AfD (Alternative for Germany), yet Brandt predicted the wave of right-wing populism that today is washing over the provinces.  The citizens of Jericho are no different from those in Sachsen or Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. They see their world threatened by globalization, big box stores, automation, immigration - and are attracted to any rhetoric that promises to 'make Germany great again. . .'"  

Joseph René Bellot, Memoirs of Lieutenant Joseph René Bellot : with his Journal of a voyage in the polar seas, in search of Sir John Franklin (1855 originally, not sure of this edition)

Here's a look at a great engraving in the original.

Patrick Jory Thailand's Theory of Monarchy (2017)

"Since the 2006 coup d’état, Thailand has been riven by two opposing political visions: one which aspires to a modern democracy and the rule of law, and another which holds to the traditional conception of a kingdom ruled by an exemplary Buddhist monarch. Thailand has one of the world’s largest populations of observant Buddhists and one of its last politically active monarchies. This book examines the Theravada Buddhist foundations of Thailand’s longstanding institution of monarchy. Patrick Jory states that the storehouse of monarchical ideology is to be found in the popular literary genre known as the Jātakas, tales of the Buddha’s past lives. The best-known of these, the Vessantara Jātaka, disseminated an ideal of an infinitely generous prince as a bodhisatta or future Buddha—an ideal which remains influential in Thailand today. Using primary and secondary source materials largely unknown in Western scholarship, Jory traces the history of the Vessantara Jātaka and its political-cultural importance from the ancient to the modern period. Although pressures from European colonial powers and Buddhist reformers led eventually to a revised political conception of the monarchy, the older Buddhist ideal of kingship has yet endured."  From SUNY Press

Su'ad Abdul Khabeer  Muslim Cool (2016)

"Muslim Cool is a way of being an American Muslim—displayed in ideas, dress, social activism in the ’hood, and in complex relationships to state power. Constructed through hip hop and the performance of Blackness, Muslim Cool is a way of engaging with the Black American experience by both Black and non-Black young Muslims that challenges racist norms in the U.S. as well as dominant ethnic and religious structures within American Muslim communities.  
Drawing on over two years of ethnographic research, Su'ad Abdul Khabeer illuminates the ways in which young and multiethnic U.S. Muslims draw on Blackness to construct their identities as Muslims. This is a form of critical Muslim self-making that builds on interconnections and intersections, rather than divisions between 'Black' and 'Muslim.'”  . . . From NYU Press