Sunday, September 29, 2019

How Did A Jewish Comedian Become President Of Ukraine? Netflix Has Season One of "Servant Of The People"

Volodymyr Zelensky burst into many people's consciousness last week.  Some knew that he'd been a Ukrainian comedian with a hit TV show already.  In the show he plays a history teacher who's caught on video by one of his students while he's ranting against the corruption of his government.  The video goes viral.  His students use crowdsourcing to get enough money to register him as a candidate.  And he wins.

And then the comedian actually runs for President.

I just discovered that Season one of the television show - Servant of the People - is on Netflix.  The episodes are short (about 25 minutes) and we got through about five last night.

The show doesn't tell you much about the actor himself, but it does give you a sense of what caused Ukrainians to elect a man with no previous political experience.  And you get a sense of the overwhelming corruption in the Ukraine government.  And it's fun.

So if you have Netflix, this is definitely worth your time to give you a better sense of the Ukraine and Kiev and the man Trump tried to force into finding dirt on Biden's son by withholding several hundred million dollars in aid.

Of course, you may want to know more.

This April 4 Slate article looks into the crystal ball to predict what sort of president he might be.

An April 27 Al Jazeera report.

Here's an alternative bio with some quirky English from Height Of.

In the episodes we've seen on Netflix, the school teacher/president is having some problems dealing with the layers of corruption and wealth of the many, many friends and relatives of government officials whorls  hold positions in the government.  It's not clear how the now real president of Ukraine is handling these problems.  At least he's been introduced to the dilemmas he's facing through his role in the show.

But there may be more to this.  He's an owner of the production company and a writer of the show.    Was the show a setup to get him elected?  It will be interesting to see how this all unfolds.

[I'm not linking to the Netflix show because while I know how to get there from my Netflix account, I'm not sure how to send others there.  In any case, when you're into Netflix, just put Servant of the People into the Netflix search.]

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Solstice Is Past And It's Fall In Anchorage

There's more termination dust.

Ravens Roost had an apple festival the other night.

There were clouds in   Goose Lake.

Trees are getting yellow and losing their leaves.

I got some radishes on the last day of the Muldoon Farmers Market for this year.
And this woodpecker visited our yard today.  

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Some Things Change Slower Than Others - Denali Sunset

This was the view this evening from O'Malley on the Green where we went for an event.  The day started at six am when I turned on the radio - still in bed - members of the House Intelligence Committee questioning Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire.  I thought he was a reasonable witness - well last one I saw was Lewandowski so the bar was low.  But he seemed respectful and caught in a difficult position.  He'd been recently hired (after much of the subject of the hearings had already happened) and he couldn't come out directly against his boss.

But in bed, I wasn't taking notes, so if I'm going to write about it, I need to review transcripts.  But today I was busy going through a to-do list that's been getting three or four things added for everything I actually get done.

So you get the mountains.  Foraker on the left, Denali on the right.  Everything changes.  These mountains change daily as the weather changes.  And the mountains are slowly wearing down.  But very slowly.

Denali is 20,308 feet tall (6,190 meters).  It's about 150 miles from Anchorage as the raven flies, (or  241 km.)  Unlike Everest and Anaconda,  it's pretty much a free standing mountain, towering over the rest of the Alaska Range..

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Let's Get Beyond The Politics of Impeachment And Brexit - Wos - Canguro And Argentina Upcoming Election

[This post is not what you were expecting.  Nor me.  It began as a way to step back and remind folks that there's more than US and UK politics happening in the world.  While we were in Argentina this summer we learned a little about their presidential elections.  I thought I'd offer bit of Argentine politics for folks.  That led me to the political trap video that's near the bottom, which is worth a post all of its own.  It's very catchy, even without understanding the lyrics.  Be sure to watch it.  Will this sort of thing be part of the US election in 2020?  I've also added the lyrics and a translation.]

I don't see much coverage of the Argentine presidential election this October.  On our visit in June and July people all agreed they were being squeezed by high inflation and life was getting harder.  Argentina is a country with a history much longer than the US and in the early 1900s was one of the wealthiest in the world.  People are sophisticated.  They have free health care and university education.  Current President Macri has imposed harsh economic restrictions.  People we talked to were not shy in voicing their opinions for one candidate or the other.

From AS/COA (Americas Society/Council on the Americas)
"Argentina’s first-round vote on October 27 will see the election of president and vice president, and nearly half of congressional seats (130 deputies and 24 senators). While President Mauricio Macri is in the running for a second term, Argentines chose who else will appear on the ballot in the August 11 primary elections, known as the PASO. The main obstacles to the pro-business president of the Together for Change coalition are Argentina’s economic recession and a peronist front. He polls behind center-left Alberto Fernández, who's running mate is former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.
Some 33 million Argentines are eligible to cast the compulsory vote, which will go on to a November runoff if none of the presidential candidates wins at least 45 percent, or 40 percent with a 10-point margin over the runner-up."

From Forbes:
"On September 29 the Argentine province of Mendoza will elect its governor and renew one-half of its bicameral legislature. Mendoza is Argentina’s fifth most populous province, and one of only five provinces (out of 24) currently governed by a member of President Mauricio Macri’s Together for Change alliance. A Together for Change victory in Mendoza would provide a glimmer of optimism for a dignified loss by Macri in the October 27 presidential election against Peronist Alberto Fernández (and against Fernández’s vice presidential nominee, former president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner) as well as provide hope for some Together for Change down ballot success in congressional races. In contrast, a defeat would foreshadow a potential shellacking on October 27 and demoralize the Together for Change forces even more than they already are. . ."
This article was written by "Mark P. Jones[who] is the Joseph D. Jamail Chair in Latin American Studies and the Director of the Center for Energy Studies’ Argentina Program at Rice University’s James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy."

That, of course, gives me a chance to post some Mendoza pictures from last summer I didn't post yet.

 The fountain in the huge Parque San Martin

Vistante Winery - Mendoza is the center of the Argentine wine industry

Mendoza is also a center for olive oil.  This picture is from the Pasrai olive oil factory.

And here's a more personal reporting style that leads this post in a different direction from Americas Quarterly:

"BUENOS AIRES - “He can’t stop coughing/working 12-hour-long shifts/he makes two meager coins a day to support a family of four/and don’t talk to me about meritocracy, don’t be funny, don’t screw with me/because without opportunities/that mierda doesn’t work.”
It’s hard to miss the frustration driving the lyrics of “Canguro,” a song written by 21-year-old Argentine trap star Wos, whose criticisms of the status quo under President Mauricio Macri have struck a chord with many. Debuting just days before the August primary election that delivered a blow to Macri’s reelection prospects, the song quickly climbed the charts and has racked up over 44 million views on YouTube.
Wos is among a cohort of young public figures who have used popular culture and social media to mobilize opposition to Macri among youth. The demographic has been hit particularly hard by the recession under the current government. In the second quarter of 2019, unemployment among ages 14 to 29 rose to 18.6% for men and to 23.4% for women, according to the latest government figures."

Here's Wos' video.  With the introduction above you can get a good sense of the power of this song even without understanding Spanish.  It says it has 50 million hits since August 8.  That's about six weeks.

And here's a version with the lyrics as he sings.

Here are just the lyrics from  I've added a Google Translate English version in purple.

[Letra de "CANGURO"]

Hoy no voy a salir y voy a quedarme en la' nube' donde nadie sube

(Uah) No vengas a molestar, dicen que está todo mal‚ bueno
(Uah) Yo estoy más que bien acá y no te pienso ni mirar‚ ciego (Ciego)
Vamo'‚ repriman la mierda que tienen guardada en el pecho
Traguen y callen hasta estar desecho', párense siempre derecho
"Cállenlo, sédenlo‚ que haga lo que quiera, pero sáquenlo" y
"Cállenlo, sédenlo‚ que haga lo que quiera, pero sáquenlo"
Ey, háganme caso, ¿o no tienen claro que soy el rey?
Háganme caso que soy la ley, dame mis blíster', mis Parisiennes, wah

["CANGURO" lyrics]:
I'm not going out today and I'm going to stay in the 'cloud' where nobody goes up

(Uah) Don't come bother, they say it's all wrong ‚well
(Uah) I'm more than good here and I don't even think about you ‚blind (Blind)
Vamo '‚repress the shit they have in their chest
Swallow and shut up until you are wasted ', always stand straight
"Shut it up, know it‚ do what you want, but take it out "and
"Shut it up, know it‚ do what you want, but take it out "
Hey, pay attention to me, or are you not sure that I am the king?
Listen to me that I am the law, give me my blister ', my Parisiennes, wah

[Verso 1]
Patada de canguro, golpe duro
No vamo' a parar con esto, negro, te lo juro
Traje cianuro pa' meterle' en el trago
Cinco minuto' acá y ya estamo' causando estragos
Un mago nos quiere hacer desaparecer
Pero esta plaga rara nunca para de crecer
Somo' de los pocos locos que andan buscando placer
Y aunque quieran vernos roto', no damo' brazo a torcer
No para de toser, trabajando doce hora'
Cobra dos moneda' al mes pa' mantener cuatro persona'
Y no hables de meritocracia, me da gracia, no me joda'
Que sin oportunidades esa mierda no funciona
Y no, no hace falta gente que labure más
Hace falta que con menos se pueda vivir en paz
Mandale gas, no te perdás, acordate dónde estás
Fijáte siempre de qué lado de la mecha te encontrás

[Verse 1]
Kangaroo kick, hard hit
I'm not going to stop with this, black, I swear
Cyanide suit to get him in the drink
Five minutes 'here and I'm already' wreaking havoc
A wizard wants to make us disappear
But this weird plague never stops growing
Somo 'of the few crazy people who are looking for pleasure
And even if they want to see us broken ', I don't dare' arm to twist
He doesn't stop coughing, working twelve hours'
Charge two coins' per month to 'keep four people'
And don't talk about meritocracy, I'm funny, don't fuck me '
That without opportunities that shit doesn't work
And no, you don't need people to work anymore
It is necessary that with less one can live in peace
Send gas, don't get lost, remember where you are
Always notice which side of the wick you found

[Verso 2]
Dice: "What up? Esto pega como coca"
La gente baila loca, el cuello se disloca
La droga en lo' dedo', que vaya de boca en boca
Sentís como te choca, esa vaina subió la nota
Salto como una pulga, empezó la purga
Largo todo fresco como un PXXR GVNG, hijo de…
Otra vez con sed entre fiebres y migraña'
Vuelvo a soñar con un viejo en el medio de una montaña
Me miró y me dijo: "De la vida nadie se salva
Y eso de la juventud es solo una actitud del alma"
Qué virtud extraña, ahora me queman las entrañas
Mi mejor conversación la tuve ayer con una araña
No sé qué hora es, ni me interesa
Acá siempre son 4:20, y estamo' de la cabeza, con simpleza
Birra barata y mala en lata, má' la planta santa esa
La que calma el cuerpo y te lo desestresa
El hood está de fiesta, el culo se te tensa
Entiendo que te molesta, la empatía te cuesta
Y si ahora gritamo' y cantamo' en modo de protesta
Es porque preguntamo' bien y nadie nos dio una respuesta
Se creen dueños, salgan del medio, lo digo en serio
Fuera la yuta que meten al barrio, le tira a los pibe' y le mata los sueño'
Bueno, juego, del underground, del agujero
Estamo' agitando de nuevo, sacando pa' afuera a eso' carroñero', ñero

[Verse 2]
He says: "What up? This hits like coca"
People dance crazy, the neck dislocates
The drug in the 'finger', that goes from mouth to mouth
You feel how it hits you, that pod raised the note
I jump like a flea, the purge began
Long all fresh as a PXXR GVNG, son of ...
Again thirsty between fevers and migraine '
I dream again of an old man in the middle of a mountain
He looked at me and said: "No one is saved from life
And that of youth is just an attitude of the soul "
What a strange virtue, now my insides burn
I had my best conversation yesterday with a spider
I don't know what time it is, nor interest me
It's always 4:20 here, and I'm right in the head, simply
Cheap and bad canned birra, plus the holy plant that
The one that calms the body and unstresses you
The hood is partying, the ass tenses
I understand that it bothers you, empathy costs you
And if now I shout 'and sing' in protest mode
It's because we asked 'well and nobody gave us an answer
They believe they own, get out of the way, I mean it
Out the jute they put into the neighborhood, he throws the kids 'and kills them the dreams'
Well, play, underground, hole
I'm 'waving again, getting out' that scavenger 'outside, ñero

(Uah) No vengas a molestar, dicen que está todo mal, bueno
(Uah) Yo estoy más que bien acá y no te pienso ni mirar, ciego (Ciego)
Vamo', repriman la mierda que tienen guardada en el pecho
Traguen y callen hasta estar desecho', párense siempre derecho
"Cállenlo, sédenlo, que haga lo que quiera, pero sáquenlo" y
"Cállenlo, sédenlo, que haga lo que quiera, pero sáquenlo"
Ey, háganme caso, ¿o no tienen claro que soy el rey?
Háganme caso que soy la ley, dame mis blíster', mis Parisiennes, wah

(Uah) Don't come bother, they say it's all wrong ‚well
(Uah) I'm more than good here and I don't even think about you ‚blind (Blind)
Vamo '‚repress the shit they have in their chest
Swallow and shut up until you are wasted ', always stand straight
"Shut it up, know it‚ do what you want, but take it out "and
"Shut it up, know it‚ do what you want, but take it out "
Hey, pay attention to me, or are you not sure that I am the king?
Listen to me that I am the law, give me my blister ', my Parisiennes, wah

Monday, September 23, 2019

Tiny World of Mushrooms

With all the dry weather it seemed like we might not get any mushrooms, but more recently we've had plenty of rain and some of the mushrooms are popping up in the back yard.

And something a little bigger.

I wish I had time to go through my Field Guide to North American Mushrooms to share what these mushrooms are, but too much happening.  Just relax and enjoy a more natural post.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

To Impeach Now Or Not - Stepping Back To Understand The Debate A Little Differently

I've written on the topic before, but this time I want to consider the motivation of people (Democrats) who differ because some want to start impeachment right now and others say that its futile if the Senate votes it down.  I'm just thinking out loud here.  So bear with me as I wander into a little philosophy.

Philosophers talk about deontology and utilitarianism.  From Gabriela Guzman:

Deontological ethics is an ethics system that judges whether an action is right or wrong based on a moral code. Consequences of those actions are not taken into consideration. This ethics system is intended to be precise and by the book. Doing the right thing means to follow proper rules of behavior and, by doing so, promoting fairness and equality. . . (emphasis added)
In the other hand, utilitarian ethics state that a course of action should be taken by considering the most positive outcome. This ethics system is more accurate when it comes to addressing complicated situations, which solutions are not as trivial.
[This is a very brief pair of definitions.  For more nuance, check out the link above, or find other sites that discuss it.]

 Roughly, using this way of seeing the debate, one could argue that those calling for impeachment now - because they see the president as having committed high crimes, misdemeanors, and treason - is the right thing to do.  It doesn't matter whether the Senate votes for impeachment.  Doing the right thing is what is important.  The law/constitution was broken, so action must be taken.  At the extreme case would be the swimming referee in Anchorage who disqualified a female swimmer because the rules required the butt cheeks to be covered.

And those calling for a careful calculation of how this is going to play out in the Senate before impeaching, could be seen as utilitarians.  What's the point, they'd say, of the House voting to impeach, if the Senate does[n't] vote to convict?

But, of course, life doesn't settle into neatly articulated categories.  One could argue that demanding impeachment hearings start now, is the best strategy  to get rid of the president - either via impeachment of the 2020 election. Impeachment hearings give the House the power to investigate the president's actions, to get documents, tapes, and to compel witnesses to testify.  That process itself, they would argue, could lead to revelations that would swing enough Republican Senators to obtain a successful conviction in the Senate.  And, even if that doesn't happen, it could reveal enough to help Democrats take the presidency in 2020.  Which would put those folks into the utilitarian camp.

Rep. Pelosi, who clearly represents the chief utilitarian in the original scenario, would argue that getting rid of Trump and restoring the US to a nation of law, is the ultimate goal.  If we go the impeachment route, we need to win, not make a show of ideologically pure failure.

As I think about this, I'd say Rep. Pelosi fits fairly neatly into the utilitarian box.  But I suspect the impeach now faction is made up of folks who are clearly deontologists and also utilitarians, who see impeaching now as the path to the best overall outcome.  And some may feel that impeaching now is both the right thing to do and the most likely path to accomplish their goals.

These splits among people who ostensibly hold the same political beliefs (or religious beliefs) is not uncommon.  Humans probably line up somewhere on a continuum from Deontology to Utilitarianism.  Those on the ends of the scales aren't likely to budge.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Anchorage Gets Termination Dust, Finally

The first dusting of snow on the mountains by Anchorage lore, marks the end of summer.  This change, in the past, more often than not, came in August.  It doesn't mean it's sticking, but it's clearly white up there.

Well, this Fall Solstice day (I always have to check because the exact date changes slightly each year, so it seems this year, it's not today, but tomorrow) comes one day after the first termination dust.  (And, technically, I suppose it came yesterday, but the clouds didn't clear until today.)

Great views as I bike this afternoon.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Anchorage Students Climate Strike Pictures

It's heavy grey and steady rain out.  I really wanted to stay inside and read.

But I went off to Cuddy Park to see if Anchorage students were going to brave the weather on Climate Strike day.  Here are some pictures.

I decided I'd seen enough to know that Anchorage students had come out, even in the rain.  A decent crowd, considering the weather.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Beach Walk on Rainy, Cloudy, Rainy, Briefly Sunny Anchorage Day

Had a morning meeting at Kincaid Kaladi Brothers.  Healing Racism in Anchorage is finally ready to come out of hibernation.  (That means the three of us who have been waiting for a time when we were surfacing from deep commitment dives are all now back on the surface and ready to reach our for more members to make this a working organization again.)

Clouds were threatening and so I didn't ride my bike, like yesterday when I got soaked (enjoyably) coming home from another meeting.  And since I was close, I drove to Kincaid Chalet and walked down the path through the gnarly birch trees and and the yellow devils club.  (Not a typical Anchorage landscape.)

Then off the paved path, along a dirt path and finally to a path down to Anchorage's main salt water beach.

Looking south.

Looking north.

Lots of great garden rocks, but no way to get them back to the garden.  

And a good patch of mostly sand

Here's looking out to the lowering tide and the water.  Fire Island is in the distance on the right.  The resolution on this picture is too low to see the windmills on the island, the only sign of humans (other than the footprints) as you walk along here.

Come mid September and one is reminded to get out into the natural wonders all around here beyond the bike trails in town.  This beach is still in town, and I need to overcome my anti-driving bias and get out of town while the weather is still relatively warm and the roads ice-free.  

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Anchorage North-South Runway Almost Done. Quiet Starts Oct 1, Maybe

My daughter sent me a picture of the Anchorage airport North-South runway that she took as her plane was leaving two weeks ago.  There it is out past the wing to the north.  I was told a couple of weeks ago that it needed grooving, painting, electrical work, and FAA approval.  Looks like - and admittedly the picture doesn't show all the runway that clearly - most of the work is done.

Checking the project website today, there's nothing new since the August 16, 2019 update.  There really never were very many updates.  The FAQ link still goes to "Not Found" within weeks (I hope) of the two year project.

The Update Video is still the same pre-project video.  The August 16 update was hidden in the Project Documents tab.  I say 'hidden' because the project page had two other links with the word "updates" which didn't give updates.

I talked to Jason Lamoreaux again.  It's still on schedule for October 1 reopening of the North-South Runway.
FAA is due to do inspections Sept 23, 2019.

But I'm still doubtful that the airport did this as fast as it could.  We had the driest summer on record.  What if there had been lots of weather problems?  Lamoreaux assured me that the only weather dependent work was the striping at the end, and that airport employees have to live through the noise as well.  He said they were working 24/7, though the only time I went out to look at the runway, there didn't seem to be much happening.  A few guys working near the fence.

Summary  (since this is getting long)
1.  I accept the need for renewing the runway.
2.  I doubt there was any real concern of the impacts on the people of Anchorage - only to the extent they might complain and interfere.  We've been watching the Netflix series Unbelievable in which the first set of cops interviewing a rape victim are two men who just don't take her seriously.  I'm sure they believe rape is terrible, but the victim wasn't someone they were sympathetic to.  The next set of women detectives were totally different in their empathy to the rape victims they met with.   I feel like the airport's interest has been like the first male detectives.  They wanted to get the job done and how the noise affected the people of Anchorage wasn't a high priority.
3.  Their noise maps that show 65 decibel noise levels end at the airport boundaries are a joke.  The levels are way above 65 decibels over our house often.
4.  I can find no concern - other than compliance with regs - about health or pollution in their reports
5.  Even with a perfect summer for construction, I see no evidence that they are trying to open the north-south runway ahead of schedule so planes can stop taking off over residences non-stop.
6.  Because there are so many other political distractions nationally and in Alaska, people were out of energy to protest something that at least had an end point.  And few were opposed to the idea of renewing the runway.
7.  Nothing will change this time, but they're going to want to do this again in the future and perhaps this documentation (along with last year's) can be helpful in preparation.

I went through the issues last year - the noise, the clearly bogus decibel maps, and how the people of Anchorage were not a high priority in this project.  The concern was for the collective income the city will get from the jobs and all the planes this runway will be able to handle in the future.  But issues like the effects of having 80 - 120 decibel planes flying over your house regularly for four months one summer and six months the next, nah, people just have to live with that.

My complaint isn't that they're 'renewing' the runway and making it wider.  I understand that will have impacts on those of us who normally enjoy the fact that the airport is a short ride away.  My concern is the project managers' apparent lack of concern for the public, shown by the lack of updates on their website AND their apparent lack of interest in getting the project done as quickly as possible.  We have had a summer of warm, rainless days.  Conditions couldn't have been better. But apparently we're going to have to have those planes rumbling overhead until the originally scheduled deadline.  Maybe Lamoreaux is right.  He sounds like a nice enough guy on the phone, but the website had very little information other than what they were required to put up.  Normally DOT has much more information with time lines and milestones for road building projects.  We had nothing like that for this project.  And the updates, for the most part, didn't exist.

And the noise is more than an annoyance if you live right on the flight path - which covers a large swath from mid-town to South Anchorage.  These decibel levels can have long time effects on people's hearing, on their blood pressure, and on their sleep which leads to other problems.  None of that shows up in their environmental impacts.  Nor do the fumes of all these planes falling on Anchorage.  Most of the EIS addresses problems from the actual construction and not the change in flight patterns that has had ALL planes in what the airport touts as one of the busiest airports in the world, flying over much of the city.

"Mitigation and Environmental Commitments
The environmental commitments below would be implemented to minimize impacts during and after constructing the proposed project. The terms, conditions, and stipulations of all environmental permits and clearances would also be met. All commitments will be part of the construction contract specifications.
Air Quality
Measures to control fugitive dust, such as pre-watering sites prior to excavation, covering or stabilizing material stockpiles, covering truckloads, removing particulate matter from wheels prior to leaving the construction site, and removing particulate matter deposited on public roads, would be implemented during construction. No vehicles, trucks, or heavy equipment would be allowed to idle unnecessarily. All motorized construction equipment would be routinely maintained and serviced.
DOT&PF has, in extensive coordination and research with ANC operations, air traffic control and the air carriers researched all possible mitigation measures to reduce temporary increased noise from aircraft departing to the east when RW 15/33 is shut down for approximately six months for construction during construction season one and possibly construction season two. The only feasible option resulting from coordination and research to mitigate this increased aircraft noise (as predicted by noise modeling) is DOT&PF would issue a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM). The NOTAM would request air carriers to follow noise abatement procedures to reduce noise impacts over the noise sensitive areas east of the Airport which would experience a significant increase in noise during the RW 15/33 construction shut down. Air carriers can choose to adopt or not adopt the NOTAM recommendations. The public would be notified in advance of construction activities via the project email list and project web site. The public would have access to the project web site and ANC contact information for construction updates and inquiries."
There is reference to a 1978 study that talks about health effects over 65 decibels:

"FAA’s and FICON’s findings support Schultz’s widely-accepted 1978 research.13 That research indicated the level of transportation noise to which a community is exposed is directly related to the community’s health, welfare, and annoyance. Schultz’s work, and FICON’s reassessment of that work, showed cumulative noise levels above DNL 65 decibels (dB) cause community annoyance levels that make noise sensitive land uses (i.e., residences, schools, churches, hospitals and certain businesses) incompatible with airport operations.
According to FAA Order 1051.1F Desk Reference, Chapter 11, for aviation noise analyses, the FAA has determined the cumulative noise energy exposure of individuals to noise resulting from aviation activities must be established in terms of yearly DNL, the FAA’s primary noise metric."
Their map shows that the DNL of 65 ends at the edge of the airport, but that's totally bogus.  I went through all this in one of last year's posts.  They mention noise, but they don't mention the kinds of things high decibel noise does to people.

Again, maybe they did it in lightening speed.  But I only have their very undetailed assurances of that.

This is here then, so that people can start getting prepared and know what questions to ask before   the North-South Runway needs to be renewed again, in I'm not sure how many more years. (Lamoreaux didn't know.  He told me to call the airport.  I told him I did and they transferred me to him.)

Next time we want to see:

1.  Detailed plans with milestones and dates for when each milestone is met and who's responsible.
2.  More realistic measures of decibel levels where the planes are taking off over the city.
3.  Plans to measure the decibel level in various locations well beyond the airport boundaries
4.  More options for reducing the number of planes and the duration of planes flying over the city.
5.  Plans in the scheduling for speeding things up (reducing the time planes fly over the city) if things go well.

That's just a starting list.  Noise matters to people's health and well being.  Reducing what residents of Anchorage are exposed to should be a high priority next time.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Two Excellent ADN Letters To The Editor - One On Climate Change, One On Ambler Road

In this time of strong partisan divide, of fake news, and intentional distortion of facts, and even creation of totally fabricated stories, I'd like to share two excellent letters from today's Anchorage Daily News(ADN).  But I also recognize that in this age I probably need to explain why I rate them so highly.  I'll do that later. But first I'll let you look at the letters yourselves.  Well, I'm only excerpting them, you can see the complete letters at the links.*

First, from Kendra Zamzow** of Chickaloon:
"Climate Change is not an environmental issue.
It’s a real estate issue when people leave behind homes destroyed or at risk from fire and coastal erosion. It’s a public health issue when saltwater seeps into drinking water wells as seas rise. It’s a public health crisis when heat kills hundreds or thousands of people.
It’s a public works issue when major cities like Miami run pumps to de-flood city streets and sidewalks.
It’s an infrastructure issue when railroads collapse and roads melt. It’s an agricultural issue when sustained flooding prevents crops from being planted. It’s a ranching issue when drought forces cattlemen to kill their herds. It’s a national security risk when military bases repeatedly flood, leaving planes and equipment stranded.
It’s an immigration issue when crops fail and farmers move, seeking land or work. It’s a defense issue when water tables drop, disrupting livelihoods and driving conflict. It’s a food resources issue when warm ocean waters drive algal blooms that cause shellfish to be poisonous .  . ."
Second, from Rachael Gaedeke of Anchorage:

[*It turns out the second letter is not yet posted online in the ADN.  I'll offer you part of it and will put up a link when the whole letter is available.]  It talks about the hearings to take testimony on the Ambler Road, being proposed into roadless land for the benefit of a private mining project. The letter was written by Raechel Gaedeke:

"When I read through the DEIS, it was sadly apparent that no one had thought to address the negative social impact of this proposed 211-mile road. . .
"Study after study has shown that when mines are built, the communities closest suffer from increased rates of alcoholism, increased rates of domestic violence and increased rates of sexual assault.  The villages in proximity to this propose road and this potential mine(s) do not have the resources to support the influx of miners, truckers and "man camps" that will follow.  I greatly fear for the women and children in every village that comes close to the proposed Ambler Road. . .
"I strongly urge BLM to address the following questions:
1.  How will you ensure the safety of the women and children living in the communities within proximity to this proposed road and the mine(s) that will follow?
2.  What security measures will be taken to ensure that alcohol or drugs will not be bootlegged into the communities via this road either by truckers employed by the mine(s) or potential poachers?
5.  What security measures will you take to keep poachers off the road . . .
6.  How will you prevent the potential for sex trafficking on this road via truckers, poachers, etc. into the mine(s) or the man camps or the villages?
7.  When More police officers  and Village Public Safety Officers are needed, who will pay?
8.  How will you research and document and mitigate the potential for negative social impact on the indigenous people in the region of the proposed mine . . ." 
So, what makes these good letters?

  1. They broaden the scope of the issues.  The climate change one moves the discussion from simply 'record temperatures' or 'more intense storms and fires' to all the many ways a warming climate is going to affect people.  These things are already affecting many people, but the scope will get greater and greater.  This is not somebody else's problem.  It's a human problem.  The Ambler Road letter moves the discussion from narrow physical environmental impacts of the road to the social impacts of this sort of large scale remote development tends to bring with it.
  2. These letters are sensational.  The issues they raise are well documented.  
  3. I can't spot any factual fabrications or distortions.  
  4. They pack a lot of information into relatively few words, though the Ambler Road letter is a little repetitive in its list of questions, though what I'm calling repetitive points seem to focus on a slightly different aspect.
  5. The language of each letter is clear and easy to understand.  It's strong, but focuses on issues and does not attack individuals or categories of individuals.  (That last sentence should go without saying, but nowadays needs to be said more and more.)

I realize those who emotionally deny climate change will be unhappy with the first letter and call it alarmist.  The nearly 70% of US residents who think it's real and are worried about climate warming will learn more about the many likely impacts. (If they want to do something to help slow down climate change they can check out the Citizens Climate Lobby website.)

And those financially in favor of the Ambler Road, really are responsible for answering the questions raised.  Can they prevent these likely externalities of their project?  If not, should the State of Alaska allow a project that is likely to add to Alaska's high level of sexual violence to a large extent fueled by drugs and alcohol, and to increase sex trafficking?

So I thank these two letter writers for their strong and articulate letters raising important issues for Alaskans (and all US residents) to consider.  And I thank the ADN for publishing them.

**I didn't know anything about Zamzow when I read the letter in the hardcopy paper today (Yes, it's still coming.)  But there's a brief biographical blurb in the online version, which helps explain why the author wrote such a powerful letter:
"Kendra Zamzow, a resident of Chickaloon, is an environmental chemist and the Alaska representative for the Center for Science in Public Participation. She has a doctorate in environmental chemistry from the University of Nevada, Reno and a bachelor's degree in molecular and cellular biology from Humboldt State University, California."

Monday, September 16, 2019

Why I Live Here - A Little Nature Break

Had some errands to run, but that also gave me the opportunity to take in some looking nature spots.  So just let yourself slide into the picture for a moment to slow down your heart beat.

University Lake.

The creek that goes by the dorms at the University of Alaska Anchorage.

It makes sense to me why Anchorage homeless would rather be out here than in some institutional storage room for people.  Now if they could police those who trash the place and/or use it as a base for petty theft, everyone would be happy.  Maybe.  I'm taking an OLÉ class starting in October on Homeless Issues, so maybe I'll understand this better.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Jonathan Haidt At Citizens Climate Lobby And Then Cauliflower And Carrots At Farmers Market

Anchorage voters are adamant that the summer flower budget isn't cut.  So the municipal green house keeps busy all year.  And the best two landscaped institutions are the University of Alaska Anchorage and Providence Hospital.  Our Citizens Climate Lobby meeting is at UAA and these flowers are an example.  There are small luxuries that do matter because they do so much for people's mental health.

Even these summer tourists were enjoying a stroll around the campus.

Inside, we heard from Jonathan Haidt via teleconference with the other 400 plus local chapters of CCL around the country.  Plus another bunch of international chapters.

Haidt, the author of The Righteous Mind, studies and talks about the emotional aspects of morality and public debate.  He listed

Three Principles Of Moral Psychology:

1.  Intuition comes first, then the brain can take in the rational argument.  So, the brain reacts emotionally first to something, which is why what you look like, how you talk, etc. will affect how people listen. If the intuition reacts positively, then it's more likely to accept the rational argument. I saw this as a good explanation why small talk, ice-breaking matter.  First you need a sense of the messengers before you listen to what they suggest.

2.  There's more to morality than harm and fairness - people conceptualize these basic human reactions differently.  For the Left, say, fairness is more equated with equity, whereas for the Right more with loyalty, authority.

3.  Morality Binds and Blinds.  It keeps tribes together and causes them to NOT see things that contradict their beliefs.

He went on to connect these ideas specifically to climate change politics.

After the meeting, I biked over to the Farmers Market at the BP parking lot (I guess it will have a different name next year).

Friday, September 13, 2019

We walked over to the university (of Alaska Anchorage) the other night.  It was a beautiful evening.

Even though it's mid-September now, there was no snow yet on the mountains.  The speaker was Katharine Hayhoe.  I've heard her talk a couple of times via the Citizens Climate Lobby (CCL) monthly meetings.  She's an incredible speaker with lots of recognition - like 100 most important people awards kinds of things.  In the Climate Science field she's know as a communications specialist and does a lot of work with the Evangelical community.

Probably the thing that was new for me Wednesday night was this idea:

People don't disagree so much on whether there is climate change, even if it's human caused.
The disagreements - including the denials - arise from the perceived consequences of climate change.  Conservatives see the consequences of doing something about climate change are seen as such a threat to our economy and way of life, it isn't worth it.  So the challenge is to educate them on how switching away from fossil fuels is not only doable, but will actually boost our economy.  If you aren't aware of that part, check out the CCL website.  CCL's emphasis is on getting Congress to legislate a fee on carbon with a dividend,  because for most experts on this, it's the most effective and achievable way to have the biggest impact.

Rather than write what she said, I'll just give you her Ted Talk.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Dem Debate Tweets With A Few Of My Thoughts

This first one captures my impression of the debate.

I thought that Yang made a number of good points.  He's an outsider in a number of ways - as a Chinese/American, as a business man, his  lack of political/governmental experience.  And he's smart.  That lets him raise issues we wouldn't normally get.  But he also seems a little isolated from things as well as this Tweet  from a Filipina/American who calls out his use of the smart-Asian stereotype and his implied lack of acknowledgment of non-East Asian Asians, who make up most of the Asian/American population. But it's good to see his face and ideas up there in the Democratic debates.

Bernie seemed to have a cold, but he's been around a long time, has been fighting the status quo forever, and his ideas are now mainstream.  He's one I'd have full confidence in going one-on-one with Trump.  He knows the facts and he's got the passion.
I've been really impressed with Harris in her Senate role questioning witnesses.  But as someone pointed out tonight, she's a lot better at asking questions than answering them.  While I think this Tweeter exaggerates, she does seem to be caught off-guard with people questioning her credentials and record.
Yes, I was struck by the kind of issues that were raised and how united most of the candidates were on the basic issues.  And the fact that Beto broke the tip toeing around gun issues wide open with his impassioned stance.
I've come to the conclusion that O'Rourke would make a much better Senator than a President.  He's got a way of saying things clearly and with passion.  I'm less confident of his overall common sense and ability to administer.  A role in the Senate is perfect for his talents.

And Butteig also made history for a presidential debate.

I'm afraid Biden is the great white hope in this group.  He's the link to the Democrats of old.  He's the 'safe' candidate.  Like Hilary.  (Who did actually win the popular vote and would probably have won the electoral college without Russian interference in the election - which includes what we know about things like FB ads and what we don't know about about the wins in Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.)  But Trump would run circles around him in a one-on-one debate.  Trump's lies and insinuations would leave him tongue-tied.  The only possible way he could win would be because people felt sorry for him.  And that's not a good look for a president.

And talking about playing the record player to help kids learn is exactly the kind of thing that raises questions about his time having passed.  But there were folks who defended his reference to record players.

I think Booker is another candidate who could go head-to-head with Trump.  He too knows his facts and talks well.  And he's been a mayor and a US Senator.

Another is Elizabeth Warren:
I'd like to see her when she wasn't turned up to full indignation mode.  She has a right to be indignant, but I'd like to hear her sometime talking in a normal voice.

I noticed a lot of obvious GOP Tweeters out to trash every candidate - except Tulsi Gabbard, who wasn't in the debate.

And here's an article about a despicable attack ad on ABC during the debate by paid for by donors to the GOP New Faces PAC,
 "opened with a photograph of the young Latinx congresswoman’s face being set on fire to reveal images of the 1970s genocide in Cambodia underneath." 
This is the kind of open hate the grew worse and worse in 1930s Germany.  No, this is not a frivolous comparison.  I've read Victor Klemperer's I Will Bear Eyewitness  in which he, among other things, documents the language used by the Nazis from the 30's through the end of WWII.  This sort of ad targeting AOC is not only blatantly untrue propaganda, but it's also a call to crazies to physically attack people like AOC.

And this reaction to O'Rourke's call to buyback assault weapons:

From the Texas Tribune:
Republican state Rep. Briscoe Cain drew fierce ire Thursday night for a gun-related tweet that many considered to be a death threat against Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke.
Twitter took the comment down within hours because it violated a rule forbidding threats of violence and O'Rourke's campaign planned to report the tweet to the FBI, according to CNN. It's against federal law to threaten "major candidates" for president.