Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Stranger Things Secret Cinema

Whilst we were in England (yeah, pretty effected, let me retry)...

While we were in England we went with our friends Barbara, Gareth and their kids, Rebecca and David - both adults, to "Secret Cinema". This is a thing in England where they build an interactive experience around (usually) a movie. You kind of play in the area, then watch the movie.

Because Stranger Things is a TV show, it was a little different, but not overly so. The 3rd season of Stranger Things takes place in the Star Court Mall and they built this. We all dressed in 1980s outfits (Brits LOVE to dress up - they don't call them costume parties, they call them "fancy dress"). We all threw ourselves into it and had a blast. Here is a picture from outside, before we went into the mall.

For the actual event, you cannot take your phones in (which was cool!) and no pictures.


Exit, Stage Left

Getting out of the country for 10 days was wonderful. Barely hearing about Trump for 10 days was beautiful. I think I will stay out of it all for bit longer....

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Wisley Gardens on Xmas Eve

Went up to Wisley the day before Christmas to meet Laura’s girls and get them used to us before going to their house. A grand day out.








Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Our friends took us to The Harry Potter Experience

The Brits love Harry Potter and have created a very very cool Studio experience. Here are some pictures of our trip.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Hey Zeus

Holly Molly -

Wow, 107.4 as an average over the entire continent in Australia. That means, unless some city is literally on fire, much of the continent is HOTTER than 107.  I mean Palm Springs or Phoenix often tops out above 110, but the entire continent / country. That is really really hot.


Wednesday, December 18, 2019

The Bizarre Anti-Pete Backlash from the Left

Pete Buttegieg’s rise has caused a bit of hysteria on the left. Pete is denounced (often and loudly) by those on the left of the political spectrum a lot. Very little of it is valid (I think the “he doesn’t have enough experience” is a valid criticism - one I don’t share, but valid).

Most of it is that Pete is not “progressive” enough. And that is odd.

Pete thinks public colleges should be free for families making below $125,000. Progressives (Bernie and AOC) are slamming him for not supporting free college for all. Even the rich and super rich. Even though in 2017 Bernie went out of his way to praise this exact same law in New York State.

Pete has proposed a buy-in form of “Medicare For Those That Want It”, because he thinks a public option will prove to be superior and succeed over time, but most people don’t want to ditch their current insurance. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie have criticized this as being too conservative. But this is Warren’s short term plan, and was Bernie’s plan in 2016. This “conservative” solution is more liberal than what we have now, and might actually be passed into law.

He is reasonably liberal, but with achievable goals.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Where $ go from and to under Buttegieg's Plans

Some Good News About Climate Change

I was listening to a Podcast from Vox (the Ezra Klein Podcast) - and he is a smart guy. From Southern California, went to UC Irvine. Nice Jewish boy with a wife and a child.

He is covering a lot of climate change lately and he had someone one on that made me feel practically positive. The show (and article) is called How to Solve Climate Change and Make Life More Awesome. Link



I must say it was the first thing that has made me feel better in a while. Ezra talks with Saul Griffith. He is a really smart guy (genius grant winner) that the US Government hired to “track and visualize” America’s entire energy flow.  Really. He can tell you how much of our energy is used in Airport Runway lights (~0.008), or energy generation or anything.

And he has figured out a couple of things. First, and most importantly, we could go completely renewable pretty easily. He thinks the way to fix this is to de-carbon our economy.  That is switch to electric manufacturing, transportation, use heat sinks to heat our homes and limit fossil fuels almost totally.  AND he thinks it is relatively easy - at least compared to other things we have done.

Economic choices will not do it. He compares it to the US Highway system, or the Apollo project or the WWII economy.  He doesn’t understand how, starting in the 1980s, we forgot how to dream big.

And the tools are here. If we would put solar panels on roofs of buildings and parking lots, plus along the freeways, we could generate as much power as we do now. Adding wind just makes that easier.

He knows there are dense urban areas (New York, Singapore) that may still have to use some fossil fuels, but we can recapture their carbon. It is a longer, more complex topic, but the just is good news. If we have the leaders that demand it.  (So, given our current situation, bad news.)

Read it, you might feel better too.

... that is until you read that the current administration is going the other way totally.

Because forestry in the Alaskan panhandle is just what we need!

Thursday, December 12, 2019

England Votes! Again...

Today England votes on the future of the country. For the 3rd time in 5 years.



And they get to vote in the rain, cold and dark of December.

Between two men they don't like, leading two parties that are pushing what many of their voters don't want.

And, in this groundhog-day system, they are hoping for a clarity which wasn't there the first 3 times they voted and isn't there now.

Fun. It is like Democracy Designed by Marquis de Sade.

(However, it could always be worse. Israel just called elections for the 3rd time in a single year!)

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

It's A Tie!

Ahh.. this is what happens when I turn away for a second!  Friends note things that are full on Nincompoopery. Lynn couldn't even pick of these was most disturbing.  You choose.



At a discussion on Friday about reducing government red tape:
Trump Wants a Review of Toilets: Americans Are Flushing '10 Times, 15 Times' - "We have a situation where we're looking very strongly at sinks and showers and other elements of bathrooms..." The EPA was looking at the issue at his suggestion.

      OR:

Trump also talked about new efficiency standards for light bulbs.
"They got rid of the light bulb that people got used to....The new bulb is many times more expensive, and I hate to say it, it doesn't make you look as good.... It gives you an orange look. I don't want an orange look."

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/07/us/politics/trump-toilet-flushing.html

I will add, the image of President Trump, perched on the edge of the toilet, in a dim White House bathroom - with an orange glow around him staring at a turd that won't flush, no matter how hard he tries - well it's an image now emblazoned on my senses.

Monday, December 9, 2019

Longwood Gardens - This is where I am teaching for 2 days.

I am teaching at Longwood Gardens today and tomorrow. It is a public Garden built up from the gardens of the DuPont fortune. I can’t see it during the day (or spring) when it would be beautiful, but they do have the Christmas set up in the Conservatory. It is massive.  Here are some pictures.
The main entry way. Just from here you know the scale of this is crazy.

The pathways to the tropical and desertscape.

The tree is okay, but I love how the uplift the trees behind to frame them.

Indoor Rose Plants for cuttings and blooms!

The birds reminded me of home...

Friday, December 6, 2019

NATO Is Doing Good, Better Than Ever, Because Of Our President, Best Ever

It would be nice if the President understood how NATO works. It really would be.



These are the President's comments after NATO - from the official White House press releases...

As you know, NATO was suffering very badly from depletion of funds, and it was going down like a rollercoaster goes down.  Not up, but down.  And I was able to, over the last couple of years, increase their contribution — not the United States, because we were paying far more than anybody else, to put it mildly.  It was really getting ridiculous.
And over the last couple years, I had them increase by $130 billion.  And then, over the next couple of years — and this was done largely over these last two days, but also set up time before that — they had to now contribute $400 billion more.  So it’s a total of $530 billion other countries will be putting into NATO.  And NATO now is very financially sound.  It’s very strong.  Far greater than anybody ever thought.

That is a lot to unpack.

Let's start in the first sentence. NATO was NOT suffering from a depletion of funds. It is true that many NATO nations were not (and most are not) meeting their Defense spending commitments. This is NOT money TO NATO. It means that the percentage of national spending on defense was below 2%. That money does NOT go to NATO. It goes into their own military.

The money spent on defense spending was not 2%, but it wasn't "going down". Not "going down" like a rollerocaster or anything else. It was slightly increasing.

So it is NOT $130 billion (much less $530 billion) going into NATO. It is going into their defense budgets.

He has been explained this many times. So either he is stupid or he thinks Americans are stupid (unfortunately this appears to be correct - we are stupid).

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Niiiiice


Let Me Test My Understanding

So, given the Republican Senators comments, let me test my understanding...

From now on, future Democratic and Republican Presidents can...

  1. Withhold aid that was approved by Congress until the target nation supplies dirt on political opponents.
  2. Ignore subpoenas from Congress when they perform Constitutionally mandated oversight (that would have been handy during the Bengazhi hearings).
  3. Obstruct Justice by not cooperating with Congress
  4. Ask for and receive help from our enemies in a US election.
  5. Leave allies to be killed, but allow Americans to be killed to save oil.
  6. Cozy up to dictators (that would have been helpful as Republicans berated Obama for even thinking of talking to North Korea).
  7. Ignore or anger allies, whilst simultaneously not understanding how the NATO budget works.
  8. Make an agreement (like Trump did with Brazil and Argentina) and then break them in a fit of pique
  9. Exit ANY treaty or agreement (Paris, Iran, Start) on a whim and without Congress’ approval.
  10. Use the office to campaign in violation of election laws.
  11. Impose tariffs without understanding how they work.
  12. Penalize one set of states (like the Red states) while rewarding others.
  13. Sleep with porn stars.
  14. Call publicly for the death of his enemies (Adam Schiff, anyone who didn’t clap during the State of the Union address, Robert Muller, anyone else who “deserves what we do to traitors”)

That’s good to know. It’s going to fuck you in the future and it is all due to your evilness towards our Constitution and Country.  And I am going to be right there, doing the biggest I Told You So dance there is. 

Except for Susan Collins who is “very concerned”, but still will go along with it.

I think Republicans think this is all okay because Democrats don’t usually go in for pay-back. But when we win, whenever that is, I am going to be all for payback. 

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

And now, a moment from my favorite Christmas movie...

War of the Roses.  And, if you don’t think it is a Christmas movie you didn’t grow up in my house.



Oliver Rose(played by Michael Douglas): “I think you owe me a solid reason. I worked my ass off for you and the kids to have a nice life and you owe me a reason that makes sense. I want to hear it.” 

Barbara Rose (played by Kathleen Turner): “Because. When I watch you eat. When I see you asleep. When I look at you lately...I just want to smash your face in.”—The War of the Roses (1989), written by Michael Leeson, adapted from the novel by Warren Adler, directed by Danny DeVito.

GOOD NEWS in nature!!!!

Hazzah!

Monday, December 2, 2019

Some Things I Do Not Have To Be Told Are A Bad Idea

Josh Brolin tried the craze of “sunning his Perinium”. It’s what we in the biz call the taint (because it t’aint your balls and it t’aint your ass).

It did not go well.


This is Josh’s Instagram featuring (in the picture) the person who recommended this new craze.

When did I turn against Canada Goose coats?

There is a post over at The Daily Beast (link) about how Canada Goose coats are relationship red flags. Apparently they are highly over-priced and cruel to animals. (Real Canadian Goose feathers and real Coyote Fur trim).



For many it denotes a person buying high priced swag just to prove they can.

That isn’t what bugs me. What bugs me is that the down is from regular geese who live in Canada - NOT Canada Geese. If they used real Canada Geese they I would get behind it. I hate those birds.


They are mean, crap like crazy and cause airplanes to crash. I do not like them Sam I Am.

Again: That’s Not The Way This Works

President Trump is either stupid of deliberately dense with regards to some economic items. In particular, currency rates. Today he put tariffs on Brazilian and Argentinian Steel because their currencies have dropped.



But Argentina and Brazil don’t manage their currencies, like China can. Their currencies are traded on the open market, and they are worth less now because those two countries are spending more than they have, and investors are worried the B Real and Arg Dollar won’t buy as much due to debt.* (Note: So is the USA, but right now people believe we will pay our bills, people aren’t so sure Brazil or Argentina won’t just default.)

So he is putting a tariff on their steel, which will only worsen their economy and drive their currencies down again.

He could then admit his mistake and move on. Or pretend (again) they did this on purpose and double down.  What do you think the likelihood him admitting it didn’t work is (I have a bridge to sell if you think he will admit it didn’t work.)

*This happens because if there is too much debt, the country can just print more money. The more money you print, especially to pay debt, means each unit of currency is worth less than before extra money was printed.

I’ve Read From Trump Supporters and I am Trying to Understand

I have been reading a lot from Trump supporters, and I am trying to understand their comments. A typical take can be found here, in the New York Times from Maureen Dowd’s brother. LINK

I do want to address some things though...

The liberals still sneer at religious conservatives.

Who? We don’t sneer at religious conservatives. I do disagree with a total ban on abortion - all the time with no exceptions. But we don’t sneer. We do question the idea that, as Rick Perry said, Trump was anointed by God, but that isn’t sneering at religious conservatives.

I support the president for his economy, his jobless rate and the record numbers of the stock market that his deregulation fueled. 

I get this. I am afraid that he has artificially juiced the economy with drunken sailor spending, advancing the debt at levels never seen before, and the bill will come due with the next Democrat, but this is a valid reason to support him.  As for deregulation, it is an understandable choice to pick money from Trump now, over clean water and air for kids. Not one I agree with, but understandable.
.

I feel safe in my bed with the way the president is handling Iran and North Korea.

He has let North Korea get nuclear weapons AND the missiles to reach to America and he has allowed the Iranians to start reprocessing Uranium. I think this reasoning is a stretch.
.

The impeachment inquiry is a farce. Ukraine didn’t do the investigation and the aid was released. I think that all aid is quid pro quo.

I don’t understand this. Trump held up aid, authorized by a bipartisan Congress, for self-dealing political points. If anyone else did this (say Obama or Clinton) people would be storming the gates.
.
Everything else is ignored. The internal crookedness. The self-enrichment. Lying to Congress.

I do agree with his comment.  The election is in a year. If Trump is as bad as Democrats say, let the voters impeach him.
.
At least I would if he would stop breaking the law, and illegally encouraging for governments for dirt on his political enemies. I would love nothing more then to wait to the election. I just want him to stop breaking the law until then.  If he would do that, I would be okay.

Sunday, December 1, 2019

World AIDS Day

It’s December 1st again. It’s World AIDS Day of remembrance. And I can’t go a December 1st without thinking of Mark. Entertainment Weekly used to print a list and pictures of those in the Entertainment industry that died of AIDS the previous year.

I’ve grabbed an archive screen list with his name. I am teaching in Columbus this week or I would share a picture.

AIDS is not spoken of much anymore. And that is a great thing. We have some good drugs now for those people with AIDS and some good drugs to prevent people from getting AIDS - although both are limited by cost. So it is good we don’t have to talk about it much.

But for a lot of us, the list of those who are gone comes back to haunt us. Not often enough to be used to it, but just enough to break your heart. Not just December 1st, but at random times. A list of questions and demands that cannot be forgotten.

What would Freddie be doing now?
Did I do everything I could to help Mark?
I understand that life hangs by a thread, am I doing enough good?
I understand life is precious, am I wasting it?

I treasure every moment I had with Mark.

I treasure Ed now for allowing me the space - every now and then to grieve afresh, to question what I am doing with myself, to let me be me.

Those moments with friends, so many now gone, are like images in amber. Super close friends that died too young. A random harvest of youth that took some and spared others for no reason. I miss so many of them.


Well that was cold as hell

Eddie and I traveled to Minneapolis for Thanksgiving. It was a lovely time with his family.

And then we went to the coldest football game I think I’ve ever been to.  But I (wait for it) did not complain about the weather. I am now, of course, but I was stoic then. And that has to count for good husband points.

Here are some pics.
Me, Ed and John in the snowy evening.


Me, Goldie Gopher (Minnesota Mascot) and Ed given the W for Wisconsin

Don and Eddie

About sums it up