Friday, January 17, 2020

At Some Point, Honesty Will Come Back Into Fashion. Maybe November 2020

The website Amino, the source of this image, says the original Japanese intent of the phrase "See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil" was to keep a person pure, but
"Now it means turning a blind eye to evil and wrongdoing. It is meant to represent the fear of witnessing or speaking about evil and choosing to ignore its existence altogether."
That seems to be a pretty good description of what most Republican Senators are doing.  Avoiding any and all evidence of what they know is true.  First McConnell just wanted to acquit Trump with no real trial at all.  No witnesses.  No evidence.  And they're doing their best to hide what little will happen from the public.  The  Senate has added new, greatly restricted rules for press access to cover the impeachment.

Tim Miller, at The Bulwark, writes about Sen Martha McSally's response to reporter Manu Raju's question whether the Senate should take new evidence in the impeachment hearing:
“Manu, you’re a liberal hack. I’m not talking to you. You’re a liberal hack.”
Miller goes on to say this is the Republican 'heel turn' in response to questions about impeachment.
"They all know Trump is guilty. The only question is whether or not they can avoid admitting this, out loud, before they vote to acquit him. Every action Republicans take in the coming days should be viewed through the lens of them casting about for a strategy that lets them avoid telling voters what they actually believe."
Miller also tells us they are squeezed between doing what's right and being attacked by Trump.

My junior Senator - Dan Sullivan - was a marine.  Marines are supposed to be known for their courage and for risking their lives to protect the US.  That's the PR anyway.

In the Senate he doesn't seem ready to even risk his Senate seat to do the right thing.  I'm sure he's saying that not criticizing Trump means he can get things from this administration for Alaska.  Short term gains, long term disasters.  My senior Senator - Lisa Murkowski - is giving signs of trying to get out from under the charade, but we'll have to wait and see.

We also learn today that two of Trump's defense attorneys (Dershowitz and Starr) defended Jeffrey Epstein.  (Who committed suicide in prison where he was supposed to be watched carefully, and the video mysteriously disappeared.  This was a guy who hosted many big name men with underage girls.)  Dershowitz has been implicated in going to Epstein's parties.

From a Tweet by Kenneth Boykin:
"Ken Starr, the guy who thought Bill Clinton should be removed from office for a blowjob, is going to argue that Donald Trump should remain in office even after he illegally asked a foreign government to interfere in our elections."

Q: Does Roberts' presiding over Trump's trial present recusal issues for the pending Trump lawsuits? Might presiding over it change how he'd rule?
Everyone gets pulled into the mud.

My sense is that in a fair election, Trump gets beat bad by any of the Democrats, even if there is an automatic loss of votes if the candidate is a women or person of color..  Though that could be partially made up by people coming out to vote who wouldn't otherwise.  

But I know the Trump team will do everything they can to suppress voters, sway votes through outright lies, and meddle, if they can, with voting machines and electronic registration lists.  So, I'm not counting on a fair election.  

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Reading On The Bus, Five Modes Of Transport Yesterday

Like the other school days in San Francisco, we left with the kids at 7am to catch the bus.  We got them settled and took the bus back.

Lots of the San Francisco bus stops have electronic monitors that tell you pretty accurately how long it will be for  the next two buses arrive.

I took this picture because of the woman reading on the bus.  That's fairly uncommon nowadays.  Most people are busy with their cell phones.  How many screens can you see in this picture?  (I see five, not counting the guy with the earbuds who had just put his away.)

I decided to blur the face of the woman looking right at me.  I learned last year in an OLÉ class on photo journalism that one benefit (for photographers) of taking pictures with your cell phone is that people tend not to pay attention.  But she seems to have figured it out.  And I don't know think people should have their pictures 'stolen' if they don't want it to happen.  So I blurred her somewhat.  She then started to do her eye makeup.

Next was BART to SFO.  There are lots of places, it seems, where there are escalators up, but not down.  With my tricky knee and a suitcase and backpack, that was slow.  And I couldn't find the elevator.   If you click on the image below, you can see it much more clearly.  These are the email messages I got from Alaska Airlines (in chronological order):
  • Your flight is on time
  • Your gate has changed
  • Your flight is delayed

The delay turned out to be nearly an hour.  That seems to happen a lot out of SFO.   In Seattle it seemed like the cloud cover was down to about 30 feet when we landed at SEATAC and snow was blowing horizontally.

Fortunately, our two roll on suitcases were already coming onto the baggage carousel as we got there and the snow wasn't coming down either.

We got to the Link light rail station at the airport where an employee was telling people the train was no longer going past Pioneer Square.  To go further you had to get off and transfer to another train.  But that's where we were getting off anyway.

This construction began January 4. They're adding new lines and you can find out more here.

Then we walked down the hill a few blocks to the ferry terminal.  There's been construction there, it seems, forever.  I told J I'd take both suitcases up the elevator if she took the steps and got the tickets.  We were getting very close to departure time and they usually shut off the walk on passengers five minutes before the ferry leave.  But there was no elevator to be seen.  Grrrrrr.  As I start to haul my suitcase up while being careful not to move in a way that would cause pain in my knee, a young man reached out to help me carry it up.  I thanked him and pointed him to J who was just ahead of me.  By the time I got to the ticket booth, J had our tickets and we managed to get the 4:15 ferry.

It felt good to sit down and look out the window with the part of the Seattle skyline that includes the Space Needle, not to mention the reflections in the glass.

Finally, on the other side, our son-in-law was waiting and took J's suitcase and we walked to the market where our daughter and granddaughter were waiting.  They told us the elevator was in a new place now.   We decided that we'd just all get something from their take out offerings and eat in their modest dining space.

Today I walked with my daughter and granddaughter to her school.  Saturday she has a birthday, which is why we stopped here on the way home.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

It Appears That Ruth Sheridan Has Left Us

I got an email the other day saying that Ruth Sheridan had passed away at 101 years of age.  Ruth was an activist to the end.  I didn't know Ruth well, but I did see her frequently at various events around town - often at Bear Tooth movies, and often at protests.

I got the email because the writer had found a post I did in 2018 that had a picture of Ruth Sheridan at a protest against tightening immigration regulations and wanted permission to to send
copies to friends.

Anchorage's Ruth Sheridan at 100 July 2018.

She also wrote:

"January 25th would be her 102nd birthday.
Unitarian Fellowship is hosting a remembering of her and her life (Celebration of Life Service) from 2-5PM that day.
All welcome."

Luckily we'll be in town that day.

I'd note the tentative nature of the post's title.  I hate to post 'facts' when I get them from just one source, especially someone I don't know.  This does look pretty genuine. And I thought I'd post this to give people a heads up for the event on January 25.    I couldn't find any online confirmation when I got the email or even now.

I did find this 2016 note from the ADN in 2016:

"In addition to those 10 women, long-time Anchorage community and political activist Ruth Sheridan was named as the recipient of the Arliss Sturgulewski Award. This is a special award, which is not presented every year, said YWCA Board President Carrie Lindow. She said the previous honorees have included the late Iditarod champion Susan Butcher and Sturgulewski herself."

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

More San Francisco Shots

The beads and pipe cleaners were already set out in my granddaughter's pre-school class when we got there.

We walked a bit in the neighborhood before getting the bus the rest of the way.  We stumbled into
Boudin Bakery on 10th and Geary.

Wikipedia says:

"Boudin Bakery (Anglicized pronunciation: "boo-DEEN") is a bakery based in San Francisco, California, known for its sourdough bread (trademarked as "The Original San Francisco Sourdough").[1] It was established in 1849 by Isidore Boudin, son of a family of master bakers from Burgundy, France, by blending the sourdough prevalent among miners in the Gold Rush with French techniques.[2] The Boudin Bakery is San Francisco's oldest continuously operating business.[1]
Steven Giraudo, an artisan baker from Italy whose first job in America was at Boudin, bought the bakery in 1941 but later sold it in 1993 after Boudin became the cornerstone of the San Francisco Frenchbread Company.[3] After a series of ownership changes the bakery was reacquired by Steven Giraudo’s grandson, Daniel in 2002. Under Daniel’s leadership Boudin’s products are available globally through retailers such as Costco, Safeway and other grocery retailers.[3]
The bakery has locations on Fisherman's Wharf near San Francisco Bay, Disney California Adventure Park, and 30 other cafés scattered throughout California. The main bakery in San Francisco is in the Richmond District on the corner of 10th Avenue and Geary Boulevard."

But according to the sales lady this morning, the bakery moved to Fisherman's Wharf last year.
She mentioned that when I asked about the names in the sidewalk out in front.  They're the names of employees in the bakery.  (There is another list just like this one a few feet to the left.)

 Just across the street is the neighborhood library.

Thom, an old Peace Corps friend who lives in San Francisco, picked us up and took us to lunch near the Castro District - a great little dim sum place called Ma Ma Ji.  The food was excellent - good sized portions - and a wonderful server.

That's the best I can do today.  Getting up at 6 to take the kids to school by bus at 7 and getting them later in the afternoon and today providing dinner as well, has limited my interest time.  But I'm not complaining.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Some San Francisco Shots

Up early to get the grandkids to school.  We bus to meet one school bus in front of the second kid's school.  Then walk most of the way back.  I have lunch with a student from over 20 years ago who is working on his doctorate and the National Intelligence University in Monterey.

Then back to do kid pick ups.  Here are a couple of pictures from the day.

The shot below was on the kitchen counter.  I call it Still Live with Monster and Cheerios.

But there parks, large and small, tucked in here and there too.

This is Mountain Lake.  The sign began:

"Before you is one of San Francisco's last surviving natural lakes . . ."

It's part of the Golden Gate National Recreational Area where I also took the following picture.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Everyday Art

People argue over what is art.  Artists have mocked critics with absurd creations.  Context is important to some so called pieces of art.  But some things are just beautiful.

I was stopped at a long red light, when I saw these cacti brightly lit by afternoon sunshine against this salamander orange wall.  Did someone plan that these cacti to grow again this bright wall? Did they think about the afternoon sun hitting directly on it like this?  Is it still a work in progress and the artist is aiming for larger cactus?  Maybe no one even thought about this at all.  But I think there's some intention.  You don't just paint a wall a color like that without wanting to make some sort of statement.

In any case, it's spectacular and it's free for anyone there in the afternoon sun.

Friday, January 10, 2020

Uber Ends Guaranteed Prices In California (And Alaska Gov Recall Gets Another Judicial Approval)

I got this email Wednesday from Uber:

"Changes to Uber in California
Due to a new state law, we are making some changes to help ensure that Uber remains a dependable source of flexible work for California drivers.
These changes may take some getting used to, but our goal is to keep Uber available
to as many qualified drivers as possible, without restricting the number of drivers who can work at a given time.
We want your Uber experience to be excellent, and fewer drivers on the road would mean a more expensive and less reliable service for you.

What’s changing?
From upfront price to estimated price range
You will now see a price range rather than a set price before you request any non-Pool ride, which is our best estimate of what the trip will cost you. The final price will be calculated at the end of your trip, based on the actual time and distance traveled. You can see the final price on your receipt or in the app.

Schedule rides with your favorite drivers
After you give a driver a 5-star rating, you can now add them as a Favorite Driver. Next time you request a scheduled ride, your favorite drivers will have the opportunity to accept your reservation. If you give a driver a 1-star rating, you won’t be matched on future rides.

Changes to Uber Rewards benefits
We unfortunately have to discontinue some Uber Rewards benefits, like price protection on a route and flexible cancellations, for trips in California. To learn more, see the Rewards hub in your Uber app. We’re actively working on new benefits for California riders, so stay tuned for future announcements."

Uber's map system has given our drivers from LAX to my mom's house, much longer routes than necessary.  The driver tells us it's faster.  One time we let him go with it and it added 5-7 miles to the trip.  He drove fast while on the freeway, but much further.  This last time we insisted going our way and got there in the same time that Uber predicted for the long way.

When the price was guaranteed, that doesn't matter - except they use more fuel if they aren't all electric.  But now, the extra miles will add to the bill.  That was an advantage over taxis.  When I drove a cab out of LAX, one driver said he could add a mile going downtown, just by switching lanes regularly.

The new California law addresses contract workers, not just Uber.  But it affects them a lot. Uber and Lyft have a referendum that challenges that law.  I would guess this is part of the campaign to get their users to vote for their ballot measure.  A part that will probably evade campaign finance laws.

No such email from Lyft yet.

Meanwhile, it appears that  Judge Aarseth, the judge on the Graham v. MOA case, found the Governor Recall petition to be valid.  It will go to the Alaska Supreme Court now.  Libby Bakalar, one of the attorneys fired by Dunleavy, an attorney whose opinions on recall petitions were still on the AG's page last time I looked, and who helped write the recall petition tweeted that very recently.  I assume she know what's she's talking about here.  Didn't find it yet on Google.

Thursday, January 09, 2020

Mystery Spots, Floating Bear, Changing Neighborhoods

The two year old mirror in the back bathroom at my mom's house had developed dark round spots here and there.  A mystery.  And a project.  I loosened the brackets that were holding it up, only to discover there was glue involved too.  Youtube showed me how to remove a mirror with glue.  Fortunately I followed the advice and taped it well because it did break into pieces.  Someone else gave me advice to wear long sleeves.

When I got the mirror off, I found out the source of the mystery spots.  All the spots were where the glue was on the back of the mirror.

Another youtube showed me how to glue a new mirror up.  I needed mirror adhesive.

On the way to the hardware store, I passed this new (to me) mural.  It's much easier to stop and take a picture when you're on your bike.

@TJN3FF did this great bear mural - though it looks more like an otter pose than a bear pose.  If you go to his instagram page you'll see at least one more that I've posted in the past.

While I was at the hardware store, some clouds came over and there were even scattered raindrops. We have drizzle (it wasn't), shower, rain, downpour (none of them), but we don't have a word I know of for 10-15 raindrops per square meter per minute.

I'd notice this boxy modern new house going up on the way.  I was particularly struck by the steps to the roof.  I thought they looked very cool, but I know they're going to get a railing before long, and that's probably a good idea.

But on the way back I was thinking about the way this neighborhood is changing.  Up on this small hill, the houses tend to be bigger than the bungalows in the flatter area, but this one is still bigger and a stark contrast in style.  Here are a couple of the neighboring houses:

This is within a mile of my mom's house, but a totally different neighborhood

Back in 2007 I posted some pictures of some of the original subdivision houses in my mom's neighborhood along with some of the newer, much larger ones that have replaced the originals.

In the 12 years or so since I did the 2007 post, Google and other high tech companies have moved in between these neighborhoods and the beach.  So there are lots of affluent young tech folks buying up old houses, demolishing them, and building much bigger ones.  And there are also developers doing the same and then putting them up for sale.  

I grew up in a three bedroom, one and a half bath house - a family of four.  It seemed plenty big at the time, but it's only about 1200 square feet.  And not cleverly designed to use the space to its fullest.  

And I'd note there was a tent encampment along the sidewalk by the post office near the hardware store.  That hadn't been there last time.  

Wednesday, January 08, 2020

What Happens To Jurors Who Work To Get Defendants Acquitted?

Senate President McConnell has said he's working with Trump in preparation for the impeachment trial in the Senate and that there will be a quick acquittal.  Given that, it seemed appropriate to consider what can happen when a juror does this in a court trial.  Here's an example:

From the American Bar Association Journal:
Jovanda Blackson, a prospective juror in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, answered no to each of those questions during voir dire last year, ensuring her place on the panel that would decide the fate of two men charged with murder.
Trouble is, Blackson did know one of the defendants. She did know his wife. And, while this mother of three had no criminal record, a couple of her relatives—including her brother—did.
Unfortunately, the judge and prosecutors didn’t know that until after Blackson succeeded in hanging the jury, prompting a mistrial for both defendants. Only later, thanks to a tip from a jailhouse informant, were suspicions from her fellow jurors confirmed and the truth emerged.
Blackson had known the defendant from grade school. When she appeared for jury duty, prosecutors say, Blackson recognized him, winked to let him know she would take care of him, and later conspired with his wife to either convince her fellow jurors to acquit or hold out for a mistrial.
Blackson is serving 61⁄2 years [published in 2006] behind bars after pleading guilty in May to conspiracy, contempt and obstruction of justice. The man she attempted to help, Lamiek K. Fortson, and his co defendant, Harry Ellis, are serving time too, having been retried and convicted, and an obstruction offense was added to Fortson’s record. Fortson’s wife, Erica Williams, was given a 74 month suspended sentence, five years of supervised release, 500 hours of community service and a $250 fine.

And in court trials, there's the process known as voir dire, where attorneys from both sides can dismiss jurors they feel are biased or likely to vote against their client.  They're estimating this process will take at least two weeks in the Weinstein trial that started this week.

Here are some notes from the Judicial Education Center at the University of New Mexico:

"Judicial Participation in Voir Dire
The judge overseeing voir dire, who is listening first hand to the attorneys' questions and the jury panel members' responses, is in the best position to determine whether voir dire has sufficiently exposed any biases that may preclude jurors from acting fairly and impartially. State v. Martinez, 2002-NMCA-036, ¶35. As previously noted, the judge has the right to control and limit voir dire with the limitation being the ultimate need for fairness in the process. To ensure fairness in the process to both the prosecution and defense, the judge should consider doing the following regarding voir dire:
Determine in advance how much time to allow for voir dire, advise the attorneys of that allotted time frame and work to ensure that it is divided as equally as possible between the two sides.
If the need arises to step in to resolve a dispute between the parties or deal with an objection, call the attorneys to the bench and take care of it outside the earshot of the jury panel. Alternatively, remove the jury panel from the courtroom and deal with the issue outside of its presence. The goal with either of these methods is to resolve the dispute and move on with voir dire while maintaining the critical neutrality of the judge and communicating that to the panel.
If asking the jury panel questions of his or her own, the judge should make efforts to do so sparingly and in a way that does not create the perception that the judge has "taken a side" in the case. In other words, in addition to working to ensure fairness between the prosecution and defense, the judge wants to present him or herself as being fair to both parties and neutral in the case. This is especially critical in stalking and harassment cases where the behavior can be seen as bizarre on its face and responses provided by jury panelists during voir dire can perhaps promote similar responses and reactions."

One might hope that Chief Justice John Roberts would be thinking about these issues.  Except that this is not a judicial trial.  Due Process - which gives the accused the right to a fair trail before their life, liberty, or property is taken away - is not the standard here.  President Trump doesn't risk jail, execution, or even a fine if he's found guilty.

This is more like firing someone for not performing his job duties satisfactorily.  Just cause - the idea that there must be a violation of the rules - is the standard when one is fired.

Perhaps a major news outlet could track down Jovanda Blackson today and interview her about the consequences of colluding with the defendant to hang a jury.  Right after having Sen. McConnell brag about working with the White House.

Tuesday, January 07, 2020

Can You Guess The Mission Of The Center For Consumer Freedom?

I'd seen the full page ad in the LA Times.  There were two lists of chemicals.

From Center for Consumer Freedom
 The tiny line on the bottom says, "Paid for by the Center for Consumer Freedom."  My guess was this was paid for by the beef industry.   But I had other things to do than pursue this.

Then today's LA Times had an editorial titled:

Beef sellers vs. faux meat  (In the print version)
The beef industry is freaking out over plant-based meat? Too bad (online version)
It starts out telling us the impossible burger is hard to tell from the real thing.  And that's scaring the meat industry which put out this ad through the Center for Consumer Freedom.  There used to be research institutes that did reasonably objective research.  Places like the Rand Corporation and the Brookings Institute.  They may have some built in bias, but they had really smart researchers and they aimed at giving their clients the most accurate information they could.  When wealthy conservatives saw the influences these 'think tanks' had, they began creating their own which would produce 'research' that supported their political pet projects.  

Here's what the website Consumer Deception found when they asked "Consumer Freedom or Deception?"
"The Center for Consumer Freedom is a nonprofit corporation run by lobbyist Richard Berman through his Washington, D.C.-based for-profit public relations company, Berman & Co. The Center for Consumer Freedom, formerly known as the Guest Choice Network, was set up by Berman with a $600,000 “donation” from tobacco company Philip Morris.
Berman arranges for large sums of corporate money to find its way into nonprofit societies of which he is the executive director. He then hires his own company as a consultant to these nonprofit groups. Of the millions of dollars “donated” by Philip Morris between the years 1995 and 1998, 49 percent to 79 percent went directly to Berman or Berman & Co."
Sourcewatch's introduction to its research on the Center for Consumer Freedom  says:
The Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF) (formerly called the "Guest Choice Network (GCN)") is a front group run by Rick Berman's PR firm Berman & Co., originally primarily for the benefit of restaurant, alcohol, tobacco and other industries. It runs media campaigns that oppose the efforts of scientists, doctors, health advocates, animal advocates, environmentalists and groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving, calling them "the Nanny Culture -- the growing fraternity of food cops, health care enforcers, anti-meat activists, and meddling bureaucrats who 'know what's best for you.'"
More recently CMD revealed that the Milwaukee-based Bradley Foundation is funding CCF to attack environmental groups with pop-up websites, like the "" website, as well as to assist and train other Bradley-funded organizations in crisis communications (more below).[1]
CCF changed its name to the Center for Organizational Research and Education in early 2014[2] but uses both names.
CCF is registered as a tax-exempt, non-profit organization under the IRS code 501(c)(3). Its advisory board is comprised mainly of representatives from the restaurant, meat and alcoholic beverage industries. As of its most recent (2015) tax filing, Berman was its principal officer and held its books.[3]

The LA Times, to their credit,  did a pretty strong editorial exposing the ad. Some excerpts:

"While it’s true that a plant-based meat alternative is processed — meaning altered in the preparation process, like just about everything else at the grocery store — and it’s true that eating one is not as healthy as say, a pile of raw vegetables, it’s best to take the ads with a generous pinch of salt. (Or sodium, which the ads correctly note is higher in precooked plant patties than in the beef kind.). . . "
"And if methylcellulose, a food thickener, sounds unappetizing, it’s really nothing compared with the E. coli or salmonella poisoning you can get from regular meat. The truth is that beef and other industrial meats are often packaged with things a lot more dangerous to human health than food additives. You want to talk about a public health threat? The widespread prophylactic use of human grade antibiotics in cows and other livestock has contributed greatly to the rise of lethal antibiotic-resistant organisms. . . "
Then they take a totally different tack.  They talk about eating burgers guilt free, because fake burgers don't increase climate change by cutting down the Amazon forest for cattle grazing.  And then they talk about the brutal lives that beef and chicken lead before being slaughtered.
"So why do we still do it [eat meat]? Because meat tastes soooooo good and is such an efficient source of protein. Plus, did we mention it’s so tasty? A plant-based meat that satisfies meat cravings and delivers protein but with a smaller climate footprint is a potential environmental game changer and the reason Impossible Foods was one of the recipients of the U.N. Global Climate Action Award in 2019. No wonder the meat industry is on guard."

What I take from this is:

  1. Check the who the groups that sponsor such ads are.  If their name seems suspiciously goody-goody, look them up online.  There are lots of legitimate sites that check out such organizations and tell us who pays for them.  
  2. Give credit to the LA Times for putting up a prominent editorial exposing an advertiser in their paper.  
  3. Remember how much beef impacts climate change.