Friday, November 30, 2018

AIFF 2018: Earthquake Shakes Up Festival - Opening Night Cancelled While Bear Tooth Cleans Up

 I talked today and he said they were cleaning up damage and there'd be no films there tonight.  I even went by to see, but the door was locked and it's hard to see much, but what I could see didn't look damaged.

I can't find anything on the Film Festival Website, but their FaceBook page has this cryptic announcement I just found:

What exactly does this mean?  I called the Matanuska Brewing Company, where the after party was scheduled, thinking they might show films there.  But no.  No films there.  No after party.  But maybe folks will go there just to party.

I did go by the Bear Tooth this afternoon to see if I could assess the damage and whether they might be open tomorrow.  But it was all locked up.

Strongest Earthquake I've Ever Experienced Just Now In Anchorage - Updating Regularly

House shook violently.

Pictures still on hooks, but at slants.

Things fell out of bathroom cabinet, off shelves.

I'll update this.

UPDATE 8:50am

There was an aftershock, not as violent, but still one of the strongest earthquakes I've felt (I grew up in LA and went through the 1971 earthquake, plus numerous ones here in Anchorage)

Some pictures inside our house.

UPDATE:  9:01 - a second smaller aftershock.  Earthquake Center says preliminary estimate was 7.0 10 miles north of Anchorage.  I've been in 7.0 before and this was far, far stronger. But that has to do with how close you are to the epicenter.  We apparently were close.

Update  9:14am -  Another very minor aftershock.  Here's a map from the USGS website:

Click to enlarge and focu

The shaking must be related to how close this was - very.

UPDATE 9:17:  Another Tweet from the Alaska Earthquake Center - I'll just copy the text so it's easier to read:
AK Earthquake Center

Verified account

 1m1 minute ago
Fortunately we are headquartered in Fairbanks, so we're fully operational up here with the exception of the website slowdown. We do not yet have much information about the situation on the ground in Anchorage beyond widespread power outages and non-specific reports of damage.

As you can tell - at our house the electricity is still working - internet connection is ok.  We are just west of the UAA.  Water and gas are working.

UPDATE 9:21 - I had looked out the window just before the earthquake hit and saw - another aftershock as I'm writing, but just creaking - the school bus pull up to pick up kids.  After the earthquake, I looked out again and saw it drive away.

UPDATE 9:29am  Here's a message - apropos my last update - from the School District

UPDATE 10:09 am - Well we went to check on downstairs.  It looked ok, but the door to the downstairs bedroom was closed and something behind it was blocking it.  There were some old mirrors and pictures behind the door.  After some experimenting, I was able to get my hand through the door and to push them back far enough to open the door.  Here's a picture of them after we got in.

It was the book case that I was worried about.  Attaching it better to the wall was still on my todo list.  But it was fine.  Not one book fell off.

I assume the shaking is more severe on the second floor than on the first floor.  But it also looks like the house shook east/west.  This book shelf is facing north.  But then I went into the garage and two shelves had fallen over.  These were west facing walls that the shelves fell from.

Another minor rattle as I'm putting up these pics.

But my $90 million David Hockney picture was fine right next to the shelf above.

The pictures on the wall along the stairs were fine (the wall faces east.)

And in the kitchen all was ok - I've been worried about the wine glasses all along.  It's looks like things moved inside the cabinet about 1/2 an inch east, but everything was ok.  The cabinet door was closed.

UPDATE 10:26:  Just had another aftershock - Not terrible, but something I would have blogged about - clearly more shaking but just a few seconds.

UPDATE 10:47 - Getting phone calls and messages from folks outside.  We're ok.  But here's a link to a Twitter feed from Dustin Miller that is collecting Tweets about the earthquake.  There's some serious damage around town.

It looks like the Minnesota Offramp to International Airport Road collapsed.  Screenshot is from a tweeted video on on Dustin's Twitter thread.

UPDATE 12:46PM   Just talked to the manager at the Bear Tooth Theater where the Anchorage International Film Festival was supposed to have its opening night tonight.  The theater has been damaged and there will be NO FILMS today.  They aren't sure about tomorrow.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

City Planning Dept Holds Community Meeting On Waldron Lake Planning

Here's Waldron Lake from a 2012 post when the area was flooding.

At the church across the street from the Waldron Lake Park parking lot (where apparently people don't have legal access to park), the Muni held an initial community input meeting.

I put to pics together and you can tell if you look carefully - even not so carefully

Here's a map of the area - I added street names  The park is the area in yellow.

Here's some background from the MOA (Municipality of Anchorage - AKA Muni) website on this project:

Waldon Lake Park is Anchorage’s newest park.  In 2015, the Municipality of Anchorage purchased the property from the Boys & Girls Club of Southcentral Alaska for $3.92M with funds from an Alaska State Legislative Grant.
The 16.95 acre park is zoned PLI and will remain parkland into the future.  To ensure that future development of the park meets the needs of the community, Anchorage Parks and Recreation is developing a master plan."
It's hard to think of it as a new park.  My daughter played soccer there 30 some years ago.  But it's new as an MOA official park.

There were no formal presentations.  People could look at the maps and prior comments and talk with MOA employees in charge of this.

If you click on it, it will focus better
Here are some maps of the land over the years.  1960-70 appears to be when the area developed.

If you missed the meeting and want to be involved, here's the MOA web page for this.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Almost Headed Home - Kindergarten, Rainbows, and Poke

Part of volunteering at my granddaughter's school is prep work for the teacher.  Had to copy the numbers onto the yellow paper, then cut them up.  There were also booklets to copy, cut, and staple.  Then sit with a group during reading and be a resource.  I was surprised at what fluent readers some of the kids were.  And they had use of tablets and earphones to listen to someone read as the words turn red as their spoken.

Later in the day I walked to the school bus stop and waited in the sun and rain.  When I figured I should look for the rainbow, I just had to look up.

And we all ate at the nearby Japanese restaurant.  I've been poke spoiled since Hawaii and this poke was good and spicy.

And one of the sushi rolls.

We're at the airport waiting to board.  It's been warm - in the 50s.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

AIFF 2018: Shorts In Competition - From Australia To Finland, Canada, Holland, And USA

Films in competition are the film the screeners picked as the best in their category.  The shorts category was the only one I was able to get a list of the films in competition.  So here's a list, a little information, and the times they'll be shown.  Best as I can tell from the schedule, these only show once each.  They are part of programs of several short films, so the starting times are for when the program begins.  The program links below will show the other films playing in that particular program. I've put them

Here are the Shorts in Competition.  

Field Guide to Being a 12-year-old Girl
Directed by Tilda Cobham-Hervey
Country of Origin - Australia

(20 M)
Opening Night - Fri. Nov. 30, 2018  Bear Tooth  6:30pm

This is a film about 12-year-old girls, made by 12-year-old girls, for 12-year-old girls, or anyone that has been a 12-year-old girl, or will be a 12-year-old girl, or wishes they were a 12-year-old girl.

"Created by Tilda Cobham-Hervey with twelve 12-year-old-girls, this film is a cross between a documentary and a theatre piece, where real girls articulate what they hope for, what they remember and what it feels like to be 12. Performing themselves as part of a filmed field-guide, together these specimens investigate their own species."  (From the Lowdownunder)

Fauve (Canada)
Directed by: Jeremy Comte
16 min

Global Village Program Sat. Dec. 1  Ak Exp Theater  3pm
Set in a surface mine, two boys sink into a seemingly innocent power game with Mother Nature as the sole observer.

This is a powerful and difficult film.  The video below is the whole film.

About The Birds and the Bees (Finland)
Directed by: J.J. Vanhanen
12 min
Global Village Program Sat. Dec. 1  Ak Exp Theater  3pm

A quiet farmer father and his son set out on a trip to the pharmacy after the teen has a little accident with his girlfriend.
About the Birds And the Bees - Trailer (English subtitles) from J.J. Vanhanen on Vimeo.

Directed by: Carey Williams
Country of Origin: USA
12 Min
Martini Matinee Thursday Dec. 6 Bear Tooth 2:30pm

Faced with an emergency situation, a group of young Black and Latino friends carefully weigh the pros and cons of calling the police.

This film has won a number of awards, including Best at Sundance.  

"EMERGENCY" Teaser from CDUB on Vimeo.

Here's an interview with the director and the producer last February

Directed By: Zara Dwinger
Country of Origin: Netherlands

26 min
Year of the Woman Shorts Program Sat. Dec. 8, 3pm AK Experience 

SIRENE is a film about confusion, friendship and becoming who you are. The 15-year old Kay lives a boy's life in between roaring motorcross bikes.When the enchanting Melody sails into his life on a big boat, their flourishing friendship lures him towards this dormant feeling. When it turns out they both had a different idea about their friendship, Kay doesn't know what to feel and to do anymore. He decides to drastically go against his feelings and Kay gets even more tangled up in his own confusion...

Teaser SIRENE from Zara Gina on Vimeo.

Sirene's website is here.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Waiting For The Shoe To Drop: "[Trump's defense] so far is not recognizable to an attorney as any sort of legal defense at all"

I got this email teaser this morning. It's for a book that keeps Trump's lies alive.  (Sure, it's worth someone checking out just to see if there's anything there that can help understand all this, but one person can buy one copy and tell us about it.)

I'm wondering why they are featuring a book by apologists for the president.  I guess that's part of 'being fair' and offering 'both' sides to every argument. I learned long ago - sometimes there is only one right side and the other side is wrong.

Another book came out last week that I started reading.  I'm only into the first chapter, but this book promises to paint in a lot of the missing background to the indictments and other news bits occasionally escaping the Mueller investigation.

The title of Seth Abramson's new book Proof of Collusion:  How Trump Betrayed America  tells us Abramson's conclusion.   But that doesn't necessarily mean the book is biased or hype.  After all a book titled  Charles Manson: Proof of Murder wouldn't be questioned.

As I've written and rewritten this post, I've cut out some quotes that I surely need to share with you, so I'll just drop them in here. I also need something interesting in the title.

"[My work here is made easier] by the almost historic absence  . . . of any exculpatory evidence suggesting the president of the United States did not conspire with our enemies to violate federal law." 
"...the defense he and his team have mounted so far is not recognizable to an attorney as any sort of legal defense at all"
I wonder if the quote about the lack of a legal defense simply reflects Trump's disregard for any rules or laws that confine him and that he believes that he can win this politically.  Or perhaps those pursuing various policies and appointments hope simply to gain as much as they can from him before he crashes.

Now, to the book.

Introduction: A Theory Of The Case 

After pages of background and context, Abramson offers us this:
"In the case of the ongoing Trump-Russia probe, the only plausible theory of the case that coordinates with all the existing evidence is that Donald Trump and a core group of ten to twenty aides, associates, and allies conspired with a hostile foreign power to sell that power control over American's foreign policy in exchange for financial reward and - eventually - covert election assistance.  This theory doesn't contend that anyone in the president's sphere participated in any hacking or even knew about Russia's cyber-intrusions in advance;  it doesn't allege that the conspiracy many members of the Trump team were involved in was finely wrought, as opposed to chaotic, amateurish, and quickly capable of producing a mountain of incriminating evidence;  it doesn't require that all elements of its grand narrative take place in private, as indeed many of them occurred in the plain sight of millions of Americans;  and it doesn't allege that any of the actions involved rose to the level of statutory treason - a federal criminal statue that applies only if America is in a declared state of war.  What this theory of the case  does do is explain decades of suspicious behavior by Donald Trump, his family, and his closest associates, behavior that suggests that these bad actors expected and received a massive financial reward for taking policy positions friendly to the Kremlin and adverse to the interests of the United States.  The theory further maintains that once Trump had sufficient knowledge of Russian crimes to be legally responsible for not aiding and abetting them with promises of policies unilaterally beneficial to the Kremlin - a point Trump reached on August 17, 2016, a the very latests - any additional actions taken to advance Russian interests were criminal."

Chapter 1 is in three parts.

1.  The summary - About half a page and it begins like this:
"After fifteen years of financial failures in Russia - failures born not  of a lack of desire to succeed, but a lack of access to the people in Russia who make wealth creation possible - the Trumps discover that the key to making a fortune in real estate in Russia is greasing the skids with influential Russian officials.1  [I've left the footnote in and linked it, because Abramson tacks a source on most every claim.  That doesn't make it true, of course.  Someone else could have made it up.  There are three in this short summary]
2.  The Facts - Eleven pages of specific history, that covers Trump's failed attempts to do business in Russia, how his US businesses were funded by Russian mobsters when banks would no longer take the risk, and how things got better for Trump in Moscow after the Miss Universe contest in 2002 where the Trump picked winner was the girlfriend of a 'Russian gangster' and the object of Putin's 'secret admiration.' (At the bottom of the last page of facts is footnote 92.)

3.  Annotated History - 18 more pages (ending at footnote 193) of excerpts from the fact section, where Abramson expands on the meaning of those facts.

Abramson is like the Vin Scully of the Mueller investigation, giving color and background to the Trump-Russia investigations and other related questionable acts. When (I'm going with when, not if) the Mueller investigation starts becoming public, I suspect Proof of Collusion will be the  program used by many to figure out who all the players are.

So far in the book there's a lot of circumstantial evidence.  A lot of people whose spheres of influence overlap the worlds of Trump and of Putin.  This format results in a fair amount of repetition, but there is so much information, that's repetition is helpful.  And going back to the summary for this post was also helpful - being reminded what Abramson thinks is important.  I'd note that I had intended to focus on Chapter 1, but then the "Theory of the Case" seemed important too.  As an indication of how much is here, I'd forgotten that at the end of the Introduction, Abramson offers us a theory.  And so, I spent unnecessary time trying to reconstruct what his theory was from the first seven pages of the introduction.  His actual theory of the case only shows up on the last two pages.  But the exercise gives me more insight.

And I'd remind everyone that Abramson is not some flake writer simply gathering all the details that others have produced and organizing them.  He's got unique qualifications which you can see  at his wikipedia page.  He's got an interesting educational background.  For starters:
"Abramson is a graduate of Dartmouth College (1998), Harvard Law School (2001), the Iowa Writers' Workshop (2009), and the doctoral program in English at University of Wisconsin-Madison (2010; 2016).[1]"
You can read the Introduction (The Theory of the Case) and Chapter 1 here.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

How To Shoot Up A Mall Without Getting Caught - This Only Works For Whites

In April 2014 I wrote a post titled How To Shoplift Without Getting Caught - This Only Works For Whites.  It recounted African-American astrophysicist  Neil Degrasse Tyson's story about how he got stopped for shoplifting white the actual white shoplifter walked out at the same time without being pursued at all.
 "I walked out of a store one time and the alarm went off and so they came running to me.  I walked through the gate at the same time a white male walked through the gate.  And that guy just walked off with the stolen goods, knowing they would stop me and not him.  That’s an interesting exploitation.  What a scam that was. People should do that more often."
This apparently works for shooters too.  From AP:
"HOOVER, Ala. (AP) — Protesters on Saturday marched through an Alabama shopping mall where police killed a black man they later acknowledged was not the triggerman in a Thanksgiving night shooting that wounded two people.
An officer shot and killed 21-year-old Emantic Fitzgerald Bradford, Jr. of Hueytown while responding to the Thursday mall shooting. Police said Bradford was fleeing the scene with a handgun.
Hoover police initially told reporters Bradford had shot a teen at the mall, but later retracted the statement."

I guess you just have to make sure there are innocent black men near you and the first responders will go after them while you get away.  

This is what is called a teaching moment.  People profess not to be racist.  Our president has said variations of "I'm the least racist person you've ever met" on at least  six occasions.   (That's probably not a good example, but we've all heard from many people that they aren't racists.)

And if they mean, they wouldn't use racial slurs it's probably true.  But racism is deeply embedded in our culture.  Television and movies have overwhelmingly put non-whites in negative roles over the years.  We hear repeatedly from the media and our friends that minorities are poor, on welfare, commit crimes We absorb that.  We don't hear as much about the structural reasons they're poor - redlining that keeps property values low in minority neighborhoods, the higher bars to get loans for minorities, lack of good educational opportunities in minority neighborhoods, and reluctance of landlords to rent to them and employers to higher them.  

So we all carry these stereotypes in our heads.  Even the targets of the stereotypes get infected.  

So in situation where someone has to make a split second decision about who the bad guy is - the shoplifter, the shooter, etc. - those stereotypes point the responders gun at the black guy, the Hispanic.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

If Logic And Reason Don't Work, Perhaps It's Time For Poetry


by Warsan Shire

"You have to understand
that no one puts their children in a boat
unless the water is safer than the land"

The bio below is from Seekers Club:
"Warsan Shire is a Kenyan-born Somali poet, writer and educator based in London. Born in 1988, Warsan has read her work extensively all over Britain and internationally – including recent readings in South Africa, Italy, Germany, Canada, North America and Kenya- and her début book, ‘TEACHING MY MOTHER HOW TO GIVE BIRTH’ (flipped eye), was published in 2011. Her poems have been published in Wasafiri, Magma and Poetry Review and in the anthology ‘The Salt Book of Younger Poets’ (Salt, 2011). She is the current poetry editor at SPOOK magazine. In 2012 she represented Somalia at the Poetry Parnassus, the festival of the world poets at the Southbank, London. She is a Complete Works II poet. Her poetry has been translated into Italian, Spanish and Portuguese. Warsan is also the unanimous winner of the 2013 Inaugural Brunel University African Poetry Prize."

Friday, November 23, 2018

Edward Snowden On Blockchains/Masha Gessen On An Injustice

Ben Wizner explains why he's making this discussion public:
"Through it all, I’ve found him to be the clearest, most patient, and least condescending explainer of technology I’ve ever met. I’ve often thought that I wished more people — or perhaps different people — could eavesdrop on our conversations. What follows is a very lightly edited transcript of one of our chats. In it, Ed attempts to explain “blockchain” to me, despite my best efforts to cling to my own ignorance."
and this comes almost a the very end of the discussion:
"This is the one interesting thing about blockchains: they might be that one tiny gear that lets us create systems you don’t have to trust. You’ve learned the only thing about blockchains that matters: they’re boring, inefficient, and wasteful, but, if well designed, they’re practically impossible to tamper with. And in a world full of shifty bullshit, being able to prove something is true is a radical development. Maybe it’s the value of your bank account, maybe it’s the provenance of your pair of Nikes, or maybe it’s your for-real-this-time permanent record in the principal’s office, but records are going to transform into chains we can’t easily break, even if they’re open for anyone in the world to look at.
The hype is a world where everything can be tracked and verified. The question is whether it’s going to be voluntary."
You can see how Snowden and his interviewer got there here.

Another example of our  imperfect justice system.  Some of it is 'the system.'  Much of it is people who simply don't care and do their job perfunctorily, without considering how they can make the system work better.  And some people get off on their power, which they can best demonstrate by harming others unnecessarily:

The Injustice of Siwatu Ra’s Imprisonment and the Relentless Logic of Mass Incarceration

"A story can defy belief and appear ordinary at the same time. This is such a story. Siwatu Ra, a twenty-six-year-old woman with no prior criminal record, was sentenced by a Detroit court, in March, to two years in prison on felonious assault and felony firearm charges, after brandishing a gun at another woman during an argument. Ra maintained that she pointed the gun in defense of herself, her mother, and her two-year-old daughter; her gun was unloaded and licensed, and she has a concealed-carry permit in Michigan, which is an open-carry, Stand Your Ground state. Ra was incarcerated as soon as she was sentenced, even though she appealed her conviction, and even though she was nearing her third trimester of pregnancy. Three months later, she gave birth in St. Joseph Mercy Hospital, in Ann Arbor, in the presence of four armed guards. Her son was taken from her two days later."
One can't help wishing that stats were easily available to test my belief that this result (the incarceration) would be less likely to happen at all if this were a white man, instead of a black woman.

The author,  Masha Gessen, has US and Russian citizenships, wrote a biography of Putin, and is just smart - both in intelligence and street smarts.

But I spent a good part of the day at the Kiddie Museum with my three grandkids.  Such activities are necessary for one's mental health in today's world, and because they still need to have a childhood full of fun and new experiences.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

We Give Thanks Today, But Few United States Citizens Contemplate Giving Back

History books have given us a pretty story of the origin of this holiday.  But as time has passed and the stories of the victors have been challenged, more and more people are jumping in to tell a different version.  Some just quibble over the facts.

Some excerpts from the Daily Signal
"The Pilgrims very famously didn’t celebrate Christmas. They said, “There’s not a place in Scripture that authorizes the celebration of Jesus’ birth. There’s no scripture that tells us when it occurred.” And they saw it as an invention that the Catholic Church had basically created. . ."
". . . The first time that you really would say that Thanksgiving becomes a national holiday is during the American Civil War. And that would not have been realized at the time—we see it more from hindsight. But Abraham Lincoln in 1863 issued a proclamation in the fall, making the fourth Thursday in November of that year a day of national Thanksgiving. And he primarily means it as a day of thanksgiving for the way that God was aiding Northern armies in the war against the South. And that also doesn’t endear Southerners to a Thanksgiving holiday."
" . . .And I joke—but also sort of mean it seriously—that one of the things that ultimately reconciles Southerners to Thanksgiving is the development of football.
And by the 1890s, the national championship game for what was the forerunner of the NCAA was being held annually in New York City on Thanksgiving Day. And well before 1900, the tradition of having football games on Thanksgiving Day is sweeping across the country. And Southerners find out that the holiday isn’t that bad after all."
"There had been 18 wives on the Mayflower, 14 of whom had died in the first winter. And so most of the married couples now were separated by death.
Large numbers of the children had lost a parent, there were some children present who had lost all parents and siblings. It was an overwhelmingly male, now single gathering, and also a young gathering, in that about half of the group was teenagers or younger."
Some put the relationship with the indigenous peoples into a different perspective like this one titled "The Real Story of Thanksgiving" (again, some excerpts)
"The story began in 1614 when a band of English explorers sailed home to  England with a ship full of Patuxet Indians bound for slavery. They left behind smallpox which virtually wiped out those who had escaped.  By the time the Pilgrims arrived in Massachusetts Bay they found only one living Patuxet Indian, a man named Squanto who had survived slavery in England and knew their language.  He taught them to grow corn and to fish, and negotiated a peace treaty between the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Nation. At the end of their first year, the Pilgrims held a great feast honoring Squanto and the Wampanoags.
But as word spread in England about the paradise to be found in the new world, religious zealots called Puritans began arriving by the boat load. Finding no fences around the land, they considered it to be in the public domain. Joined by other British settlers, they seized land, capturing strong young Natives for slaves and killing the rest.  But the Pequot Nation had not agreed to the peace treaty Squanto had negotiated and they fought back. The Pequot War was one of the bloodiest Indian wars ever fought.
In 1637 near present day  Groton, Connecticut, over 700 men, women and children of the Pequot Tribe had gathered for their annual Green Corn Festival which is our Thanksgiving celebration. In the predawn hours the sleeping Indians were surrounded by English and Dutch mercenaries who ordered them to come outside.  Those who came out were shot or clubbed to death while the terrified women and children who huddled inside the longhouse were burned alive. The next day the governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony declared "A Day Of Thanksgiving" because 700 unarmed men, women and children had been murdered."

Or give the indigenous credit for being more than the 'savages' that they were portrayed as in this more academic look at the government to government relationships between the new country and Indian tribes in Flashpoint:
"When Christopher Columbus thought he had discovered the “New World” in 1492, it is estimated that 10-30 million native people lived in North America, that is, in the present day countries of Mexico, United States and Canada. These millions of people lived under governments of varying sophistication and complexity. These native governments were viable and fully operational political bodies which controlled their citizens and their territories and were an important factor in the development of the United States government we live under today."
This National Geographic article says the population dropped in half not long after Columbus arrived.

European Americans justified their decimation of the Native population first on what they saw as their obvious superiority - based on not only their technical superiority, but also on their Christianity.  They also, of course, justified killing Indians based on self-defense.  The fact that they had invaded Indian land didn't seem to cross their minds.

The wealth of the United States - national and personal - is based on the take over of the land that had been inhabited by the indigenous people, through lopsided treaties (often signed by representatives of a tribe picked by the whites), through removal (ie Trail of Tears), and through massacre.

Our debt is so massive that for most US citizens, repaying that debt is inconceivable.  But it's a debt we owe, and which should be repaid, if not in whole, in a significant way that is more than a token reparation.

We need to start imagining how this can be done.  As well as recognize how much we still commit the kinds of crimes against other people today, that we committed against North America's indigenous people.  

[Sorry, this one is rushed - being called to dinner.]

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

"created a parallel universe that combined medieval theology with twenty-first-century communication."

"But the three jihadi commanders, who had gotten used to act icing with near-complete autonomy, ignored Droukdel's admonitions - and they even bragged about their brutality.  In the new jihadi state, the Islamists created a parallel universe that combined medieval theology with twenty-first-century communication.  They flaunted their absolute power and their Sharia punishments in YouTube videos, Twitter feeds, and website communiqués" (Emphasis added)
This comes from pp. 171-172 of Joshua Hammer's The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu.  

I picked up the book at the library because of its title.  But as I started reading it, I found a world I knew nothing about:  the golden age of scholarship when Timbuktu was a center of learning and produced hundreds of thousands of manuscripts.  And despite the way Western textbooks (and a current US president) depict Africa as backward and illiterate, these manuscripts have been preserved and hidden over the centuries to keep them from being destroyed.

The book then veers into an overview of some of the more modern jihadist leaders who, enriched through smuggling, drugs, and kidnapping ransoms, have risen to power in the Sahara in this century.

The book is about those Malians and others who worked to keep the manuscripts safe from the new marauders who claim better knowledge of Islam than those who have read and guarded the centuries of manuscripts.

I'll leave readers to contemplate the quotation and its implications.  

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Trump As Pres Is Like Living With An Abusive S[p]ouse

and no one will help you.  Every day is a new outrageous violation of the relationship.  [In a previous post I argued that the Republican Senators were the battered spouse, but they really are the officials who should be doing something but are looking the other way.]  And he brags about it each day.  But no one can help.  His behavior is reprehensible, but he controls the escape routes and those who should be rescuing us are either afraid to confront him, in denial, or complicit.  The people who know and are outraged too, can only voice their frustration.    The police are busy gathering evidence so they can arrest him and he can be prosecuted.  But meanwhile he abuses us and steals from us and taunts us and laughs.

I'm sure this must be something like what an abused spouse feels like,

But you can call or email your Republican senators and let them know how you feel.  Remind them of the long list of outrageous they've condoned.  Can't remember them all?

Amy Suskind listed the first year's outrages in THE LIST: A Week-By-Week Reckoning of Trump’s First Year

The Weekly List (This is how Democracy Ends) is here.

The Daily Trump: Filling a Time Capsule in the Oct 6, 2018 Atlantic is another source.

But letting them know how you personally have been affected is probably the most effective - it will be unique and personal.

For some, the only issue that will move them is fear of losing the next election.  Remind them that there are Beto O'Rourkes in every state.  And by 2020 and 2022 a number of them will actually win.
For others, appealing to their legacy might work.  Remind them that their children and grandchildren will know that they had the power to do something,  but looked the other way while Trump destroyed the United States.

You can find your Senators' contact info here.

Here are the Republicans who are up for election in 2020.  Links go to their email pages.  This is not a one time exercise.  This should be repeated at least twice a month.  And get friends to do the same.  Invite people for dinner and make writing part of the after dinner activities.

Alexander, Lamar (R-TN)
Capito, Shelley Moore (R-WV)
Cassidy, Bill (R-LA)
Collins, Susan M. (R-ME)
Cornyn, John (R-TX)
Cotton, Tom (R-AR)
Daines, Steve (R-MT)
Enzi, Michael B. (R-WY)
Ernst, Joni (R-IA)
Gardner, Cory (R-CO)
Graham, Lindsey (R-SC)
Hyde-Smith, Cindy (R-MS) [Hyde-Smith is in a runoff on next Tuesday - Nov. 27, 2018]
Inhofe, James M. (R-OK)
McConnell, Mitch (R-KY)
Perdue, David (R-GA)
Risch, James E. (R-ID)
Roberts, Pat (R-KS)
Rounds, Mike (R-SD)
Sasse, Ben (R-NE) [One of the few who's criticized Trump publicly.]
Sullivan, Dan (R-AK) [This one's my responsibility to work on.]
Tillis, Thom (R-NC)

Monday, November 19, 2018

Gramping In And Around Seattle

Not much time for blogging.  Here are some pics.

After soccer Chinese lunch at Din Tai Fun.

Enjoying the sunny side of the ferry deck.

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

And a jelly fish floating on the tide this morning.

Oh, I forgot the Saturday market.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 16, 2018

Seattle From Afar - And Bird Feathers

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

A few ravens went by- this one was the slowpoke

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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Where Do People Stand On Global Warming? The Numbers.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click on the charts to enlarge and focus

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

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

Things to think about from here and there:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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