Saturday, February 20, 2021

This is less "toxic" and more "pathetically humorous"

Republicans sent a few nut-jobs to Washington this year: see here for nutbag Marjorie Tyler Green, or here for Nazi enthusiast Matthew Crawford.

But Lauren Boebert is a piece of work. Now, nothing wrong with not finishing high school, particularly when you went back and got your GRE. Good for you. And you made something of yourself, despite no college degree. Good for you. But, for goodness sake, don't lecture people and get it wrong. The very 2nd Amendment, which you constantly call to protect, was a change to the Constitution. That's what an amendment is. If we didn't change the Constitution, you wouldn't be able to be elected.


It is not a college thing, College Football Coach turned Alabama Senator thinks the 3 branches of government are The House of Representatives, The Senate and The Presidency (they are Legislative, Executive and Judiciary). He also thinks that the Founding Fathers did not any one party to have all 3 branches (the Founding Fathers did not envision political parties at all). Think I am making him look dumber than he is, you wish.

It Is Hard to Avoid the Toxic

The Internet would probably have always gotten here sooner rather than later, but the Trump Administration's 24/7 bullshit probably pushed it quicker. I refer to the fact our news is now toxic.

I don't mean a Pollyanna-ish way - the "what has become of civility" way. I get that news is generally focused on bad news, that sells eyeballs, not good news. But the news is now TOXIC. Every item is now a moment of outrage.

Just the last few days we have been SHOCKED AND APPALLED that some normal things are happening.

  • Mario Cuomo (D-Gov NY) lied over Covid deaths
  • Ted Cruz (R-TX) took a vacation while his state was freezing
  • Joe Manchin (D-WV) is blocking the new initiative to raise the minimum wage
  • Lauren Boebert (R-CO) doesn't know what an amendment is
  • Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) is losing his family over impeachment vote

Everything isn't outrageous all the time. And new "news" groups are worse than facebook. Look at this brain-fart of a story from TV. Bdien's dog is ugly and unpresidential!


This crap is almost impossible to ignore. It requires you to check out mentally from the news, which leads to an uninformed populous, which then elects idiots. 

For me, the New York Times is LESS crazy than others, but that doesn't mean "not crazy". I miss the LA Times of the Chandler family. From the late 1970s until it was purchased by the Chicago Tribune group - it was relatively centrist paper, that grew more left leaning as the California Republican Party rode the rails to crazy town. But it was NOT anti-Republican.

The LA Times was the biggest home delivery paper in San Diego when I went to grad school there (late 1980s) and San Diego is (and was) a very conservative town. Which leads me to believe that people didn't want a helping of outrage with their morning coffee.

I think I will resubscribe to the home delivery of the New York Times. The full paper was more relaxing than the splash headlines.

Friday, February 19, 2021

Our Infrastructure Breakdown is neither Republican nor Democratic

The long running joke was that Presidents Bush (both), Clinton, Obama and Trump all promised a renewed focus on infrastructure. President Trump was just stupid how he kept promising it, whereas we all knew it wouldn't happen.

A good question is why? Why have we allowed our infrastructure (and other "public goods") to fall to shit. It does not have to be this way. Look at Iowa and New Hampshire - not coincidentally the first 2 primary states - where roads are paved and smooth, small airports work and schools don't drive people away.

All it really takes is a government designed to support people's needs - not fight with each other. And the candidates and Presidents all know this, which is why the first 2 primary states are showered with money and a government that wants to help people. That's the end of the main story.

But I think the deeper story is that the American mode of Capitalism is as dead as the Russian form of Communism. American Capitalism (post-1980) fairs poorly in quality of life next to regulated Capitalism, where public goods are valued.

Pretty much everywhere (outside of IA and NH) American Capitalism has screwed people. Up until the 1970s, American Capitalism stressed corporate responsibility and high taxes on the very wealthy. In the 1950s, 60s and 70s, the top income rates never dropped below 70%. Think of that! Then Regan and others began to run against the idea of "government".

In the 1981, the rate dropped to 50%, under Regan. In 1986 the top rate dropped to 28%. This lead to a massive drop in services the government could pay for, and the quality of government services plummeted.  It was invisible to MOST people just like putting off the dentist, doctor or painting the house doesn't show problems immediately. Basic maintenance fell.

Now, prior to 1980, corporations would often step in to support their people and the community (many large corporations like Citibank and John Hancock still reflexively support public goods). But in 1980 MBA-itis and the huge drop in tax rates lead to a self-reinforcing belief that Capitalism's ONLY purpose was to drive profits. That would, the idea went, make the companies richer, AND would make things cheaper and therefore all workers richer in the end. It hasn't worked for many Americans.

To be honest, it has worked great for those of us with a bit of money. It worked great for those of us born before 1970, who had good schools and state supported Universities that we could all afford. It started hurting the poorest and minorities among us. By the 2000s the corrosive effect of all consuming Capitalism was also hurting poorer worked of all races. 

We see this in our hospitals, which faired dismally next to other western countries. NOT because of any defect in our hospitals or doctors / nurses / staff. But because our hospitals are designed to make money, not keep people healthy. Public health is NOT seen as a general good. Other countries see hospitals, schools, roads even city historical sites as a public goods available for all citizens. We see these as areas for private investment like charter schools, tool roads and costs of tens of thousands of dollars just to have a baby and NOT stay overnight.

We don't have required sick leave, vacation pay or child care. Most families can't live on one paycheck, and yet we don't have subsidized or free child care.

I'm not complaining here, just stating the facts. I think it is important to cast infrastructure as something NONE of us care enough about to get excited or driven. We complain at our airports, then step of the plane in to - what we assume-  is a less developed region only to be greeted by sparkling airports and efficient and polite government workers (London area airports are an exception to the "sparkling and polite" descriptors presented here). We could have that. Or good and cheap schools. Or an electric grid that stays on in the cold. We choose instead to give yet another giant tax break to the richest among us. Because that is American Capitalism.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Gorgeous New Museum NOT in China or Dubai


The Odunpazari Modern Museum has opened in Turkey. This is how it is described on site:

Odunpazari Modern Art Museum is to exhibit the owner’s collection of Turkish modern art. The Museum is planned in the city of Eskisehir where the owner was born and raised. The project is to realize the owner’s ambition to promote Turkish art and to make cultural contribution to the city of Eskisehir. Eskisehir is known as university town where young population is large and the city has lively and active atmosphere.



The site is in the area called Odunpazari. It is situated at the threshold of newly developed urban area and small scale town scape of traditional Ottoman wooden houses. These wooden house, with cantilevered volume at upper level, were built in lines along the meandering small streets that makes the street scape and walk though experience quite unique and unexpected.



We aim to reflect this street scape quality into the new architectural design of the museum that stands in the urban scale. Our design strategy is to make the volume in aggregation; stacking small boxes to create the urban scale architecture. Stacked boxes at the street level is read in the scale of surrounding houses and it grows taller towards the center of the museum to stands in the urban scape that announces itself as new cultural landmark of the area.



The stacked and interlocked boxes are designed in various sizes to create diverse scales of exhibition space inside. Boxes at the ground level offers opportunities for large scale art works and installation. The boxes get smaller at upper levels to exhibit smaller, intimate scale art works. The central atrium, composed with timber blocks, connects each level to let the natural light through skylight above.



The name of this area “Odunpazari” means “wood market” in Turkish. The exterior envelop of the museum is composed with timber in full extent signifying the history and memory of the place that used to function as market in trading wood.



Australia vs. US on Voting

I don't think people outside of the United States understand what a shit-show our voting process is, and I am positive that Americans don't understand how easy it is to vote outside of the United States. Let's talk about the example of Australia and the current state of affairs in the United States - and we are actively making it harder.

Here is how to vote in Australia - and yes, the process is the same in all Australian States and Territories. (As an American, let me say this one pager is a thing of beauty!)



How does that match up with the United States? Lets take some looks:

In Oz, you can enroll to vote via the internet. In the US? Most states no.

In Oz, you can enroll before you are 18 to be ready. In the US? Most states no, where it was legal (ex. Florida) it is now illegal. Also illegal in Tennessee and Florida (among others), trying to sign up voters. Also illegal, if a voter registrar sends in more than 10 voter requests at a time.

In Oz, you can check if you are already signed up. In the US? No. And you can be struck from the voter rolls for not voting, sometimes you can be struck for only voting in Presidential elections, not off years.

In Oz, national voting takes place on a Saturday. In the US? No, it is always on a Tuesday. This is by Constitutional Mandate (back then the only day off was Sunday and it was the Lord's day. The idea of Tuesday is that it might take more than 1 day to ride your horse to a voting site.

In Oz, if you are away on voting day, you can vote early. In the US? maybe. Some states have absentee voting and some have early voting. Rules vary from state to state and sometimes within the state (early voting times can vary by city and location). Republicans in multiple states have reduced early voting hours, days and closed sites. Absentee voting in some states requires a trip to a notary or travel to a certain drop box in person (which is impossible if you are voting absentee because you're gone for work).

In Oz, voting is easy and required by law. In the US? No. voting is made harder and harder and laws try to block non-white voters.

Election Day in Georgia



Election Day in Australia


Because election day in Australia is required to be on a Saturday, and everyone is legally required to vote, it is a PAR-tay! Since you don't have to line up for hours, miles away from where you live, Australians go to the beach or park or bar-be-que to vote, pop a sausage on the barbie and have fun.

One last thing. In Australia, the one who has the most votes wins. In the US, Arizona is trying to change that so if the legislature (presently overwhelmingly Republican) thinks there might have been fraud, then the legislature can change the vote outcome.

I Love Dan Rather

I have loved Dan Rather for a long time. Here, Dan comments on the Texan Politician's lies that Texas power problems are a result of "green initiatives" (it wasn't, Texas didn't weather proof their sources of power AND the natural gas pipelines froze).


Wednesday, February 17, 2021

I Love The Honesty of This Texan Mayor

Tim Boyd is the mayor of Colorado City Texas. And he doesn't need any pansy-ass socialist liberals demanding something for nothing. In this case the something is water and power during a once in a 30 year winter storm. And the nothing is the government giving it to you for free! (Although the people actually do pay for water and power, but never let that interrupt a good anti-socialist rant.)

He posted a real honest to goodness, fuck you all rant on twitter. I applaud it. He is speaking Texas truth. They whine and want no government or handouts, until it is something government does in most states. You know states with taxes and a government that meets at least once a year - so NOT Texas.

So fix yourself you lazy assholes. ha ha ha ha ha


Update: "Was" Mayor. He resigned after this didn't go over like he expeced.

Science is the Best

Science is funny stuff. Things that we "knew" were impossible are proving really possible all the time, and I am not talking about pumpkin spice (which is neither a true spice, nor pumpkin and is, for me at least, disgusting).

No, I am going for things more mundane, but more profound. Like the sublime to the ridiculous.

The Sublime: Life is tougher than another thought.

Turns out that life, which we long thought was truly rare and hard to sustain, is one tough old broad. In testing for something else (sea floor debris from millions of years ago) has yielded life where it shouldn't be. In this case it was sponges and barnacles.

Scientists drilled a hole through 2700 feet / 900 meters (about a 1/2 mile) of ice sheet to get to the sea floor. In a case of bad luck, turned amazing find, they did not hit the seafloor mud, but a single (but big) boulder that was in the way. But that boulder held at least 11 sponges and 20+ other items that are probably barnacles. 

Why is this amazing? There is no sunlight down there. Where do they get nutrients? These are probably living off filter currents, but the closest open water is 160 mies away and the closest area to see sunlight is over 350 miles away! Science has no answers yet.

The Ridiculous: Wombats' scat is square

Yes, despite my father's joke (Why isn't poop tapered? Because if it was square, your butt would snap shut), it turns out some shit is, indeed, square. In this case Wombat poop. Turns out, after many years of research, they have found that Wombat's large intestines, at least the last 8% of it, is elastic and creates cubes by inflating and collapsing areas during formation. Seriously.

Now you may think this has no effect on mankind (unless one wanted to make a poop-based igloo, in which case, wombat poop would be the perfect building blocks), but you'd be wrong. I mean wrong about human implications, not the wombat based scat igloo. In fact, there is an interesting implication. Humans can make cubes only from a cube shaped mold or by cutting something into blocks. But the use of flexible methods to make cubes is a completely different method, and one that might be useful in some situations!

The Mundane: Humans Still Can't Pick Whom to Love

Lindsey Graham (code name Lady G from the Washington Chapter of the Homosexual Sex-Workers Union) is suffering from the Republican Divorce (r) and cannot stand to watching Mommy and Daddy fighting. 

To which I must say, suck it up Buttercup; we all had to watch our parents fight after the divorce.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

New House Porn: Bosnia

During lock-down, I have looked abroad for house porn. I just found this one in Sarajevo. 3 Bed, 2 Bath, brand new redo for $1525 per month. Now, don't get me wrong, there are plenty of 2 beds, 1 bath that are nice for around $500 per month, but this is special. It's pretty. Here is the LINK, but the key pictures are here.





I point this out because if you saw Saturday Night Live's Zillow ad, it is true. If not, here it is..


Thursday, February 11, 2021

And now for something that makes me super happy

If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands. For the Eurovision "song-a-long". This is a clip from the happiest stupid movie in a while Netflix' "Eurovision: The Story of Fire Saga". Here a bunch of old Eurovision singers and winners join Will Ferrell and  Rachel MacAdams for a medley of hits. 

I particular LOVE LOVE LOVE, Netta (the rather large Israeli woman getting out of the car towards the end), Alexander Rybak (the fiddle player from Estonia) Conchita Wurst (the Austrian drag queen with the mustache). All three won their years and the links are after the clip (someone posted all the singers, and links to their songs). 

Also, Dan Stephens (from Downtown Abby and who I've seen on Broadway three times) is autotuned fantastically as the baritoned Russian Superstar.

๐Ÿ’ฅ๐Ÿ’ฅ๐Ÿ’ฅ๐Ÿ’ฅESC – European Song Contest ๐Ÿ’ฅ๐Ÿ’ฅ๐Ÿ’ฅ๐Ÿ’ฅContenants and Winner ๐Ÿ’ฅ๐Ÿ’ฅ๐Ÿ’ฅ๐Ÿ’ฅ 0:28 John Lundvik, Sweden, ESC 5th 2019 "Too Late for Love" 0:35 Anna Odobescu, Moldova, ESC 12th in the 2nd semi-final 2019 "Stay" 0:44 Bilal Hassani, France, ESC 16th 2019 "Roi" 0:59 Loreen, Sweden, ESC Winner ๐Ÿ‘‘ 2012 "Euphoria" 1:06 Jessy Matador, France, ESC 12th 2010 "Allez Ola Olรฉ" 1:30 Alexander Rybak, Norway, ESC Winner ๐Ÿ‘‘ 2009 "Fairytale" 1:40 Jamala, Ukraine, ESC Winner ๐Ÿ‘‘ 2016 "1944" 2:30 Elina Nechayeva, Estonia, ESC 8th 2018 "La Forza" 2:34 Conchita Wurst, Austria, ESC Winner ๐Ÿ‘‘ 2014 "Rise Like a Phoenix" 2:53 Netta, Israel, 2018, ESC Winner ๐Ÿ‘‘ 2018 "Toy" ๐Ÿ’ฅ๐Ÿ’ฅ๐Ÿ’ฅ๐Ÿ’ฅLink for every song๐Ÿ’ฅ๐Ÿ’ฅ๐Ÿ’ฅ๐Ÿ’ฅ John ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ช: https://youtu.be/iEEuG5XML-A Anna ๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ฉ: https://youtu.be/-mo207V5Z2o Bilal ๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ท: https://youtu.be/AjZNbIQtWvw Loreen ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ช: https://youtu.be/Pfo-8z86x80 Jessy ๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ท: https://youtu.be/-NlvQ6Ln9fc Alexander ๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ด: https://youtu.be/WXwgZL4zx9o and https://youtu.be/N17BdRwOvBA Jamala ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ฆ: https://youtu.be/B-rnM-MwRHY Elina ๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ช: https://youtu.be/ImawXdXIGd8 Conchita ๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡น: 2014 https://youtu.be/SaolVEJEjV4 2020 youtu.be/VRs4BPvbIVc Netta ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ฑ: https://youtu.be/84LBjXaeKk4

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The 2nd Impeachment Trial

If you want to be heart-broken about our country, watch the Impeachment Trial at the Senate. What is wrenching is to watch an attack on our Capital, on our electoral system, on our police and then watch the 85% of our Republican Senators not give a shit.


I understand it is politics. But it hurts. So I haven't commented on it. It's not that I don't care, but I have to pretend not to care. IF I cared, I would have to leave the country. A country where the President inflames, incites and then is let off the hook after multiple people were killed.  

We are a country where the white criminals that stormed them capital (and killed 1 police and injured multiple police) are allowed to go to Mexico on vacation while out on bail, but where black Americans are killed with no consequences for playing in the park, going to 7-11 or even walking out of their own homes when a policeman asks them to. Where black children under 8 are handcuffed and put to the ground because they were in a car with the police (wrongly!) thought was stolen, but these people who drug the police to the ground and beat them with metal flag-poles (with the American flag on them) are transferred to different prisons because they only eat non-GMO food!

This trial shows that white people have very few consequences, rich white people have fewer consequences, and the most powerful white people are allowed to incite murder and insurrection and get away with it.

It is too sad for me to comment on. That is why I am trying to ignore it. If it wasn't for Ed's job (and Covid) I would be out of here.

Misheard Lyrics

Thee are always those lyrics you mishear that are funny. For example, I thought it was "Wanting You" not "Waterloo" for decades. But then, yesterday, I was listening to a song I loved for years and found I had heard it wrong, and it massively changed the meaning.

Donna Sumer has a song on "Bad Girls", which I purchased in like 1980, called "There Will Always Be A You." It is a gorgeous love song about how she is in love with someone and will love him until the end of time. Until the stars fall from the skies, there will always be a you.

Turns out, in listening to the actual words again for the first time since the 1980s, I misheard the lyrics. And the change is big! it is until the stars fall from my eyes, there will always be a you.

Well, that is very different, isn't it?


Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Poor, Stupid Devin Nunes

Devin Nunes is a particularly easy Republican to make fun of. He was Trump's biggest backer in the House for years, including running to him to report on anything the Muller investigation was touching. He was so offended by a parody account on twitter - purportedly from his cow bak home, he sue'ed the twitter user "Devin Nunes' Cow".

He represents a farming community and speaks of his farm and his roots, but about a decade ago he moved his farm to Iowa (which is more than 1,000 miles from his district in California). But read this, the last sentence is my favorite and just a total burn.


 

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Very Cool Converted Water Tower in England

 This is very cool. Near Leicestershire (upper middle of England)






UCLA at the Australian Open 3 of 4 Through 1st round (doubles not started yet)

 (from the Bruin Web Site)

MONDAY, FEB. 8 & TUESDAY, FEB. 9

Three former UCLA tennis standouts earned wins on Days 1 and 2 of the Australian Open in Melbourne, kicking off the first Grand Slam of the calendar year. Former men's student-athletes Maxime Cressy and Mackenzie McDonald were victorious in singles play, as was Jennifer Brady on the women's side. Marcos Giron dropped his first-round match in the men's draw.

Tasked with taking down No. 6 seed and world No. 7 Alexander Zverev of Germany, GIron won a first-set tiebreaker in Margaret Court Arena. Zverev returned the favor in a second-set tiebreaker and controlled the match the rest of the way for a 6-7(8), 7-6(5), 6-3, 6-2 decision, nixing Giron's hopes of an upset. Giron is not done in Melbourne, though, as he is set to team with Cameron Norrie of Great Britain in the doubles draw.

Cressy, who qualified for the main draw in January, also started his match against No. 117 Taro Daniel of Japan with two tiebreakers. Cressy was victorious in each of them, putting him well on his way to his second singles win in a Grand Slam. He finished the job in straight sets, 7-6(1), 7-6(3), 6-4, on Court 15. Cressy will get a shot at Zverev in the second round.

McDonald got Day 2 underway on Court 6, where he dropped his first set to No. 79 Marco Cecchinato of Italy before turning the match around. McDonald was dominant the rest of the way, securing a 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 victory for his third-career singles second round appearance at the tournament. No.-22 seed Borna Coric of Croatia is next up for McDonald.

Brady, seeded 22nd as the world No. 24 player, needed just 59 minutes to take care of Aliona Bolsova of Spain on Court 17. Brady's 6-1, 6-3 win put her halfway to her career-best showing at the tournament, achieved in 2017, and set up an all-American second-round date with Madison Brengle.

Joining Giron in the men's doubles draw is McDonald, who will continue his partnership with fellow American Tommy Paul. Also upcoming are first-round doubles matches for Brady (with Ashleigh Barty of Australia) and the seventh-seeded tandem of Bruin Ena Shibahara and partner Shuko Aoyama, representing Japan.



Monday, February 8, 2021

Maybe Splurge Before the Pictures

 I happened upon a house for rent, and was looking at the pictures. Most are generic, kind of messy. But then, more and more messy. Until - wait for it.

Kind of messy, buy not bad

Maybe, I think, they are getting ready to move?

Now come on! How hard is it to fold the clothes before the picture

This room says, "I ride a motorcycle" and "I use knock off lube for masturbation"


Changing the Map: What Will The Effect Be

It is funny, but in a couple of areas, Ex-president Trump blew up hypocrisy. Of course, only where it helped him and pissed off others, but still... The question is, what effect will his change in policy have? Let us look at the his actions. And let's see what outcomes might or might not happen.


If you look at the map above, you will see two areas circled. In red, the area around the Western Sahara. In blue the area around Israel. In both areas, the world and maps have not reflected the reality on the ground.

Western Sahara

Despite maps to the contrary, there is no (functioning) country of the Western Sahara. The area itself had been a colony of Spain from the 1800s through 1975. The UN finally got Spain to withdraw from the area after the death of Franco and the end of Fascist Spain. Spain promised a referendum on local rule, but the forces of Morocco and Mauritania immediately went in a took over the country. Mauritania quit the conflict and Algeria supported the independence movement of the locals. Since the late 1970s, Morocco has ruled 75% of the country along the coast, and the Polsario Front controls the inland area along the Mauritanian border, supported by Algeria. But the world refused to reward Morocco's attacks.

President Trump acknowledged Morocco's claim to the Western Sahara, and therefore rewarded war.

Israel

Israel controls more land than the map shows. The map shows the legal boundary of Israel from about 1967. In reality, Israel controls the West Bank, the Golan Heights and parts of Lebanon. 

President Trump acknowledged the Israel rule over the Golan Heights (from Syria), the West Bank and all of Jerusalem (from any possible Palestinian State). This action probably has a much smaller effect, since it is (generally) assumed Israel was (originally) responding to aggression. Furthermore, Israel - and the United States - have been more successful argueing the new borders reduce rather than expand conflict.

Why This Matters (if it matters)

This recognition of the "spoils of war" matters because, since the end of World War II, the major powers have ben very insistent that countries cannot change borders by war. This is one of the key international norms that maintain the world balance. The United States (and the UN) has gone to war for this principal repeatedly. It was the legal basis for the First Gulf War (Iraq tried to take over Kuwait), for the Korean War (North Korea tried to take over South Korea) and the Vietnamese War.

Even in the case of the break-up of Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union, the new nations followed the borders of provinces within those countries. The idea has always been that IF the world allows aggression to be rewarded with land or resources,  THEN more war follows. 

Military aggression, and the world's acceptance of the results, ultimately made the League of Nations irrelevant and toothless. The United Nations (at the United States' insistence) has not followed that same rule book. It was the US basis to stop the wars in Bosnia and Kosovo. It was Australia's basis to stop the East Timor war. Tis international law / norm is what makes war and exception, not an option.

The fear is that if aggression is allowed to create wins for a country, more aggression follows. You can see this reality right now on the ground on Russia's borders. President Bush 2, and the world, allowed Russia's President Putin to absorb some small areas from the Republic of Georgia in 2008. This. lead to Russia annexing Crimea (from Ukraine) in 2014. Strong push-back to THAT attack coupled with some pretty critical sanctions stopped Putin from going farther.

President Trump, however, came to age in a time when "might makes right" was the result, if not the acceptable norm. And he internalized that reasoning. One saw this in his comments that we should have "taken the oil, when we invaded Iraq" and "no reason to attack Afghanistan, they have nothing we want". His view was common through-out most of history. But the Untied States has spent at least 100 years trying to stop wars of aggression from rewarding the warring parties (pretty much since we took all Spain possessions in 1898).

And this policy has been coincident with a huge drop in warfare between nations since the creation of the UN. Before this policy, wars to redraw boundaries occurred with regularity. Forget about the World Wars, these boundary wars were fought between: Peru and Colombia, Peru and Ecuador, Peru and Chile, Chile and Argentina, Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay, Japan and China, Japan and Russia, Siam and England, Siam and France, Russia and Finland, Jordan and Palestine, India and Pakistan, China and Formosa, even the United States and Canada.

As decolonization occurred after WWII, most people believed Africa would fall into major conflict, because the colonial border had not taken tribal population or natural resources into consideration. But the UN and member states stepped into support these new nations as long as there were no wars to change borders.

Will Trump's actions change a lot? Not really. While American Republicans may be stupid enough to follow the pied piper of racism, most countries did not approve of his antics. American and world policies have converged in trying to reward conflict. Trump's policies were decried in both these international instances where he pressed the might makes right solutions. The world is even pulling back from the Yemeni war, hoping that the old border between North and South Yemen might be reintroduced, but not redrawn. 

This is because going back to old power dynamics MASSIVELY increases the benefits of war. The way the world is structured now, wars don't lead to good outcomes if you can't take over the new areas. Wars are, now, primarily fought inside a singular country as a civil war.

Both before and post World War I, the hope to prevent war was to ban weapons. That didn't work. Post World War II, the hope to prevent war was to force international conflict to a political solution. That hasn't been 100% successful, but has been SO much more successful than previously solutions that we would be asinine to return to the old system.

And so ends today's episode of "What Else Did He Fuck Up?"

A Tribute to Two Leaders Before the Super Bowl

 Amanda Gorman slays it again before the Superbowl:


Friday, February 5, 2021

Alfie Bowen

Alfie Bowen is a photographer, in particular nature photography. His web-site is here.

What makes him so interesting is that he is autistic and turned to photography as an outlet to incessant bulling he received growing up in England. I mean that, in and of itself, is sad but not interesting. But he has turned his unique view towards wildlife and tries to really see the animal in context of their lives.

Anyway, I think it is cool and I leave you with 3 of his images. They are much like the best of Ed's work in Africa (which I will share tomorrow).





Smallest Adult Reptile Discovered

Well that is odd. The smallest (adult) reptile ever discovered was found in Madagascar. It is called a nano-chameleon, even though I think of chameleons as lizards that can change color and this nano-chameleon cannot change colors.

It fascinates scientists because the general theory is that on vertebrates (mammals and reptiles) grow in size from juveniles, but this little guy does not. As we vertebrates evolved we increased in size, apparently somebody forgot to tell this guy the rules.

The CNN story has a (fairly) easily understandable set of information on this - most other sites skin over the "why" this is so unique. 

Some highlights: 

  • The female is about 33% bigger than the male. Presumably to be able to have eggs.
  • When mating the male's penis extends out of his body much longer than expected, just to be able to reach the female.
  • The live on the forest floor and eat mites, and hide in grass.
  • They are limited to a small area in Madagascar which they are trying to protect (SM: Although they are so small, couldn't some be hiding in other areas?)
I also think it is interesting that they were found in 2012 by a group of scientist that went to Madagascar specifically to hunt for unknown species.  That is kind of cool. My college area (geography) doesn't really have anything new to discover on Earth. Now geologists (which is just historical geography), might find new information as ice melts around the globe, but not too much for Geographers.

Until next time then, live free little nano-chameleon, live free!

Reginald, shown at approximately 12 times life size.

PS - I named him Reginald and I have no idea what amount greater than life size this pic is.


Metaphor-A- Gogo

Covid lockdown has left my eggs scrambled.


Wednesday, February 3, 2021

If This is True, Then I'm Out

CNN has a massively depressing piece online. My only hope is it is over-reaction bullshit. The New York Times, a few days ago, called this fear mongering out.

First let's start with the CNN piece. 

It purports to say what you CAN do once you've had the vaccine. Their answer is, nothing. Not one fucking thing.

You cannot stop wearing your mask. You cannot travel. You cannot visit relatives. You cannot go to an indoor sporting event. You cannot go to an outdoor event if it runs at capacity. You can still spread the virus (maybe - per the article).


If that is true, then why the fuck take the vaccine? Seriously. Do I want to live in a world where I never see anyone but Ed without a mask? Where I cannot go and visit friends? Where I can never travel to visit Lynn, or my mom, or Gavin, or my friends in England?

Now a few days (a week?) ago the New York Times had an article that basically tore this opinion apart. It said that the underselling of the vaccine was causing people to wonder if they should bother to take it.  

The "real" reason to wear a mask after vaccination is that we need people wearing masks until everyone is vaccinated, and we need to keep the habit up. But someone feels they need to lie to us to get us to wear a mask. Today's news that the AstraZenica vaccine measurably cuts transmissions very effectively just reinforces this opinion (link).

There are call backs in the CNN article that the vaccine is only 95% effective. To show what this means, they compared it to birth control to say that 91% - 96% effect means that for every 100 women who take birth control, nine get pregnant. Which is not true. A woman's odds of pregnancy are reduced (greatly) when a woman is menstruating. A woman's odds of getting pregnant are greatly reduced the week AFTER menstruation. 

The flu vaccine yearly hovers between 45% and 65% effective, yet we tout the benefits of those vaccines in ways we undersell this one.

The Covid Vaccines are, in fact, wonderfully effective at preventing a person from getting, or spreading covid. The Covid Vaccines, to date, are nearly 100% effective in preventing death, and nearly 99% effective in preventing hospitalizations.

But if we are forever suppose to live indoors, without sports, museums, Broadway, visiting friends and family and no traveling ever again, I'm not up for it.

INSTEAD - let me reproduce the entire newsletter from the New York Times on this. nd let me say, this is the only thing keeping me moving forward.

Early in the pandemic, many health experts — in the U.S. and around the world — decided that the public could not be trusted to hear the truth about masks. Instead, the experts spread a misleading message, discouraging the use of masks.

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Crocodile Tears from the Republicans

 

The Republicans are all in on Crocodile Tears around unity, impeachment and deficits.

Regarding Impeachment: The Senate has moved, and 45 of their 50 Senators, voted that you cannot hold Impeach a President after office. This has a few problems:

  1. Not legally true. But may be the out Republicans are looking for.
  2. He was impeached WHILE in office. The Republicans of the Senate under Mitch put the Senate in recess for the last week so they would not receive the impeachment, nor would they hold a trial.
  3. If you cannot impeach. a President AFTER office, then they can do anything either in the last month of his office or whenever, providing he resigns.
  4. One of the results - and the one that Democrats proposed - is that the impeached President would be prohibited from running for President again. Tis option wouldn't be there if you could not find an ex-President guilty.
The Republican are all over Joe Biden that a bi-partisan relief bill would be great for unity. 

  1. But the "bi-partisan" bill only the Republicans are pushing is 1/3 the size of the Democratic Bill. 
  2. It would reduce the beneifts to Americans from $1,400 more to $1,000 more to fewer people (note: Ed and I get nothing either way from this, so you self-interest here).
  3. The Republicans used a strict partisan only vote to cut taxes, so to claim bi-partisan is needed for unity is a stretch.
  4. Republicans say the bill is too expensive, but under Trump they more than doubled the national debt only to give rich people a huge ass tax cut.
Unity and "process" were tossed out the window when the raced through a Supreme Court pick after stopping Obama's pick.

So, politely, fuck 'em.

About sums it up