Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Why I Generally Try To Avoid This Now

I generally and tried to stop commenting on individual members of Congress that say idiotic and hateful things, just to raise money.


Majorie Taylor Greene, for instance, has compared vaccines and mask wearing to Nazi's. Multiple Times! And every time liberals freak out over the idiot, she makes more money from her idiot backers.

Matt Geatz, probable pedophile, goes all in nuts when he can. And, even under FBI investigation for paying a minor for sex and taking her over state and national borders - which, if you care to know, is child sex trafficking - gets oodles of money whenever he attacks liberals.

These are not serious people - and they should not even BE in a sane Congress - but we are where we are. And complaining about them only drives crazy money to them (both crazy as in a lot, and crazy as in from crazy people).

So - radio silence whenever possible.

Monday, July 26, 2021

Im' shocked, SHOCKED, to find Gambling Going on here.

It is hard to believe that a group of Republicans - who voted against  paying for this through more IRS enforcement - are now crapping on the Infrastructure Bill. (To find the origin of this comment, please see past the image.)


Shocked!

Fingers Crossed - We're Outta Here Tomorrow

 Fingers crossed,  Eddie and I are leaving on a Jet Plane tomorrow. And our first International trip since January of 2020. WE have our vaccination, our negative Covid Tests and it looks good.

Here's hoping nothing goes wrong.

Akureyri in the North - Where we haven't been before


And Then There Is This

 

And EVEN More Good Montenegrin News

 Cool. Although I had no idea the Balkans had Flamingos!



And Now Some Good News From Montenegro

 This is good news from Montenegro (one of Scott's favorite countries).



It CAN Be Done

 And all this time, I thought it was impossible.


link to Balkan Insights

Not The Way I Thought, But Similar

So the well respected author of Hillbilly Elegy is running for Senate in Ohio, and has gone full on Trump-Crazy. 

He thinks we should limit voting to people that have children. This, by the by, would excluded Kamala Harries, our Vice President, because her children are step-children and Pete Buttigieg, our Secretary of Transportation because he is gay and Cory Booker (Senator) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (Congresswoman) because they are childless. The people he mentioned by name also "happen" to be People of Color or gay. He thinks childless liberals should not be making policy for this country.

I assumed this would happen at some point. However, I did think it would be more capitalistic. I thought the Republicans would try to limit the vote to land owners and those who can provide "proof" of residency - then give renters a bonus for NOT have a lease (and therefore un-allowed to vote).

But JD Vance has in mind the model of Illiberal Democracy guru, Hungary's Victor Orban. If he can't disenfranchise the liberals through this "childless" plan, then he believes every child should be given the right to vote, but that right is deferred to their parents until their 18th birthday. So if you're a wife and you have 4 children, your husband gets 5 votes.

The “childless left”, he said, have no “physical commitment to the future of this country” yet offer an “elite model” for the American business and political class.

This is what passes for intelligent discussion in Republican spheres now. And it is easy to dismiss this as a stupid ploy for votes. But like Trump's lies were unmasked and people still believe him - and the January 6th insurrection is now called (by Republicans) either a love-fest (Trump), a sightseeing tour or a protest without injury or illegal actions, - or the MAJORITY of Republicans who don't believe that Biden really won the Presidency. 

In other words, don't trust logic to rule this party. (As a famous Southern Comedian said, "You can't fix stupid".)

Welcome to the United Sates in 2021.

Abundance at the Pulitzer Fountain

I do love the statue - now hard to see with the trees - across from the Apple Store on 5th Ave, across from the Plaza Hotel (now Plaza Condominiums and Hotel). I take pictures of it a lot, because I love it, investigating it, I found some interesting history.

Pulitzer Fountain with the Plaza behind it.

The statue is called Abundance (you can see in the detail of the second picture why). It was done in 1916 and was designed to balance the "Sherman" Statue across Central Park South. Although the Sherman Statue has recently been gold plated and garners much more attention.

The model for the statue was Doris Doschar (stage name Doris Doree)

The model for this statue was Doris Doschar who was a rather famous actresss in the silent's under the name of Doris Doree. Interestingly, she also posed for the Liberty Quarter as Lady Liberty. which came out in 1916, the same year the fountain was finished.


One last picture I took, because I love Abundance through the trees.

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Beaconsfield

The NY Times today has an article on how "The Conservatives" in England are losing votes. The Conservatives in this context are the name of a party, not a descriptor. They are the Republican party of England (albeit, much more liberal than our Republicans) and won areas they didn't expect int he Brexit and post-Brexit voting.

But now people are voting against them. They are voting both for the Labour Party (like our Democrats, but further left) and the Liberal Democrats (a kind of 'fuck both' Party that we don't have here). Bu tthat isn't my point.

There are, in this article, a lot of pictures of Beaconsfield, a glorious town that Barbara and Gareth live right outside of. they pictures are lovely and make me sad I can't go there.... (sad face).

But here they are.

This is Amersham (nearby Beaconsfield) where Ed worked for a month with GE

Ed worked in this little town. He stayed at Gary's House near Barbara and Gareth and Pubbed it a lot after work.

Downtown Beaconsfield

Walking the child (it usually a dog) in Beaconsfield

Nearby Tudeley and the fields.

Friday, July 23, 2021

Now Republicans are Turning on Their Own

The last few days have seen an abrupt turnaround in (most) Republicans stances on the Covid Vaccine. America News ONE (more right than Fox), FOX News, Governors of Arkansas and Alabama have called for Americans to get the vaccine as a way to save lives, and to counter their overflowing hospitals.

This is a stunning turnaround. There have been some questions why, and I hope the real answer is that they care fr people. But, the cynic in me notes that new Republican polling shows that they are losing the battle for voters and Independents and many Republicans are abandoning the Party due to its obviously crazy-ass stance.

And Gov. Kay Ivey is mad as a hatter.

Yet, at least 3 states, Texas, Florida and Missouri, stand fast against vaccines. Their Governors - all with eyes on a bigger prize - are all in on crazy theory support. Oh well....

Where we are with Abortion Rights

You may wonder, what with the new Supreme Court and all, where the United States stands now on reproduction rights of women. I think good people can disagree on this topic.

I understand both sides of the argument. I think a woman has a right to choose until the fetus if viable outside the womb, albeit that gets earlier and earlier. But I do understand those that think ending a pregnancy at anytime is wrong. It is a difficult position, and a very personal one.

Particularly as state by state rights roll back protection and endanger women (who might use black market procedures to terminate a pregnancy). These laws in some states make it MUCH harder for poor women to terminate a pregnancy. Let's say you are stuck in a state that requires a 48 hour cool down period (many states) and you live far from a center (Texas is as big as France and has 15, Louisianna and Mississippi have 1 each). Now it takes 2 days off work and a drive hours away - bigger obstacles the less money you have. One state now requires the consent of the father regardless of circumstances, i.e. a rapist can force a victim to take the pregnancy to term. On the other hand, middle class and rich women can simple visit a state (like California, New York or Illinois) where termination is legal.

Two laws are being challenged right now and on their way to the Supreme Court (newly stuffed with Conservatives) that are very bad. 

Mississippi has outlawed abortion after 6 weeks. Many pregnant women don't know they are pregnant at 6 weeks. An a miscarriage is very possible that early. So Mississippi will investigate a woman who has a miscarriage - because it may be an abortion. Mississippi has request that, in reviewing this, the Supreme Court overturn Roe v. Wade.

Texas has hit on a novel (and super ass scary). There it is illegal after 6 weeks to get an abortion, or to help a woman get an abortion (i.e. drive them to New Mexico - the next state over) or providing a woman money for them to fly and get an abortion or provide the morning after pill. 

BUT the scary part is that to get around the federal law regarding what states can do, the law allows ANY RANDOM PERSON to fill a claim against a woman, doctor or those that provide help. If that case is successful, Texas has promised to provide $10,000 to the informant. Which is super ass funny (and super ass scary) if you think of Republicans' comments that China has a surveillance state.

So, that is where our "liberal Democracy" is headed. 

Training the Hopelessly Clumsey

 This is what I would be if I was a dog... Watch

Thursday, July 22, 2021

I Think the Term "Trash Parrot" Might be Offensive

(I know, no one knows why I randomly capitalize things!)

Lynn wanted some good news. And so right now, instead of blogging about a new Climate Change issue, I though I would blog about this. The "trash parrots" title is used for some other animal entirely; like trash panda for raccoons, of flying rats for pigeons. 

NYTimes link


So the trash parrots are really Sulfur-crested cockatoos, which may sound exotic to us but apparently all over the suburban areas of Sydney. They learned a new behavior to get into lidded trash cans. Wht is amazing is that it was not developed spontaneously in each area. Instead researchers could plot where 1 cockatoo learned it, and it spread from there. Other cockatoos watched and repeated it to learn.

 I will quote from the article here

Some birds walk left, some right, they step differently or hold their heads differently. The process is similar to the spread and evolution of human cultural innovations like language, or a classic example of animal culture, bird song, which can vary from region to region in the same species.

Dr. Klump and her colleagues in Germany and Australia plotted the spread of the behavior in greater Sydney over the course of two years. The behavior became more common, but it didn’t pop up in random locations as it might if different birds were figuring out the trash bin technique on their own. It spread outward from its origin, indicating that the cockatoos were learning how to do it from each other.

The cockatoos’ new skill opens up a whole new resource for the birds. This is adaptive cultural evolution, spreading at lightning speed compared to biological evolution. Dr. Klump noted that culture has been called a second inheritance system and that applies to both humans and animals, allowing us and them to quickly adapt and change our behavior.

It’s impossible to know which bird or birds first developed the trash bin technique, but apparently there is not one lone cockatoo genius. During the course of the study, the behavior popped up a second time in a suburb too far away from the first for the spread to be by social learning, Dr. Klump said. The technique was invented again.

What is fascinating about this is that it is not instinct. And we (humans) just don't expect learning and problem solving in other animals, so we had to do a lot of study to prove it.

Better?


New Beverly Hills Development


Beverly Hills, never a fan of complexes, has a new development on Wilshire to blocks west of La Cienga. It's gorgeous.


Made up of different apartment types. "The 48,000 sqft “hillside village” offers a variety of housing typologies: two studios, eight condominiums, three townhouses and five villas. This healthy mixture results in a high sense of community, and a feeling of individuality and exclusiveness even in this small-scale development. Each unit has its own independent entry/exit circulation route, while almost every unit features a pitched-roof volume with dynamic interior expressions."

I kind of love it.


More Info.

Hurtful (but not depressed)

I tend to see things in a worse way when depressed. Let me say at the outset here, I am not depressed. I am saddened by what's going on, but not in that "I ate too much wheat and am despondent" way.

This sadness is more in the "I saw this coming and could do nothing to stop it" kind of way. Today the NY Times had a story from a woman who was a ranger in Yosemite in the 1990s. She took her nearly adult sone to see Yosemite, the place she worked, loved and idolized. (I feel much the same about Yosemite, albeit I never worked there.) In any case, the trip was bittersweet; scorched earth, the end of the two glaciers in the park, dry meadows and trickles of falls (although it was July, the falls are pretty low in July in most cases).

I have talked about climate change, seen it coming, yelled and still could accomplish nothing. Snow packs dry up, rivers fall, we still don't build reservoirs designed for this new normal, fires rage, hundreds die from heat and fires, millions are displaced. And we still argue over the reality of climate change because massive donors find profitable inaction preferable over reaction much less proactive action. It wrecks me that we have done nothing. And now we are losing animals (the greatest extinction in the shortest time in history), losing nature and beginning to lose our way of life. And still... Crickets.

And then there is our political inaction. I don't need to go back through this. Over fours years ago I recommended a  book called "On Tyranny"- it's more of a pamphlet really. Many of its warnings have come to pass. 


We had an election that has been delegitimized, our Capital was unsuccessful stormed by our own citizens and millions of millions of people still worship at the alter of Trump. Who doesn't believe in Climate Change, rule of the law or common decency to women and minorities. 

Then... we've watched (watched with our own eyes) our black and brown citizens killed, incarcerated for years - often held for years before a trail for a minor infraction and harassed. And our reactions were confined to marches and screams that accomplished nothing.



What does this inaction say about me. It's not that I don't care about other's opinions and actions, it hurts me to see this and I feel powerless.

And finally for today, I see over 600,000 dead in our country from a pandemic that did have to be this bad and is getting worse through misinformation from politicians who can't admit being wrong and a cult of personality from a man who wants accolades for developing the vaccines and who tells others it isn't needed. Millions and millions of more have died world wide, while our citizens die through their own choice but won't release millions of life saving doses of vaccine on the off chance they change their mind.


So yeah, I am saddened by the world today. I wish I had an answer besides running away and hiding - an ineffective coping mechanism, but really what's the alternative.

My Review of The Disciple is Up

My Full review of The Disciple is up (here). It is a show about Ayn Rand and her lover Nathaniel Branden. I liked it a lot.

The Disciple is a Study in Contradictions

The new, live presentation of The Disciple by the Thirdwing theatre company premiered at The Wild Project and told a riveting tale. 

On a very simple level, it is the story of Ayn Rand told through the eyes of her protégé and future best-selling author, Nathaniel Branden. But you can’t summarize the story that simply. The Disciple is many things: a tragic love story, a coming of age story, the story of self-deception, and an argument both for and against Ayn Rand’s “Objective Consciences”. That the play succeeds on all counts is a tribute to writer / director Rachel Carey and cast of Maja Wampuzyc and Cameron Darwin Bossert 

Nathaniel Branden begins the story, and marks the chapters in it, at the foot of the stage, lecturing to a group about his latest self-help book. The play echoes the format of his book “The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem”. Early on, he explains that his theory of Objective Consciences comes from his studying under Ayn Rand.

CONTD

I will also say that this was expanded from a previous short. Not only did review the short, but I was quoted in the poster (it was a small piece by different female authors about women).

That's me. I am Reviews Off-Broadway (on the digital version).

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

My Spirit Animal

Most people who have a spirit animal or totem choose and exotic animal that is wise, or crafty, or awe inspiring. Not me.

I have come to believe (really just play with the idea) that my sprit animal is a mallard duck. Male, of course, I do love the coloring. Now I know I love penguins and puffins and condors. Penguins are graceful swimmers. The puffins, beautiful divers. The Condor, a majestic lord of the sky. The mallard is none of these things, but they trudge on none the less.

Their coloring is displayed well here.

His swimming is defined by ass in the air and not knowing any better. 



His flying is laborious, but effective. If you haven't seen them trying to take off from the water, a chaotic mixture of running, flapping like crazy and blind hope, you ain't seen nothing. 



And their landing is just a graceful, a whiplash splash down that looks more like a water crash with their engines in full reverse.


And they won't shut up when annoyed (see sounds like me).


And while they rarely look graceful, when they are comfortable and simply gliding through the water, they have a certain contentment I strive for.

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Opinion: What Scott Thinks of Billionaires in Space

Billionaires in Space sound to me like the old Muppet skit Pigs in Space.


But that isn't the point of this post. I see a lot of complaining that Bezo and Branson, the billionaires, are squandering their money when it could be used for good.

But it isn't. Our system of cut-throat capitalism means that we cannot get at their money regardless (there was an excellent article about why the IRS can't get it the NY Times).

So when we (the US government with the backing of most of the country) quit trying to get manned space flight back, NASA went the only route that would work. They outsourced manned space flight to various companies, pretty much all funded by billionaires, because who else has money to spend on a very risky adventure with a great chance of failure and a small chance of success. 


Branson is working on space tourism. He is using a place to launch his ship. That plane designed and funded by the late Paul Allen, one of the founders of Microsoft.

Elon Musk (who hasn't gone up to satisfy his need to show a bigger dick) has created SpaceX which can now launch people and goods (and 1 Tesla) into space. He has been successful with replacing NASA in manned space that Space X now ferries goods and people up to the International Space Station. And he does it cheaper than outsourcing to Russia, to the point Russia - without American funding for their rockets - is seriously considering quitting the International Space Station.

Bezos company (Blue Origin) plans both a space tourist operation and manned Moon Operations.

And, if you outsource development of rockets, space vehicles, moon landings and Mars colonization to private companies, of course their founders are going to use it to travel in. In fact, think of the shit Bezos would have received if he didn't fly up on the first manned flight and it killed people.

Original Rides at Disneyland and One that I don't believe

I have been counting down the 11 rides that were at Disneyland on Day 1 and are still running. The list includes 2 more that I think have changed too much to be counted.

DISNEYLAND RAILROAD

Since opening day, the Disneyland Railroad has transported guests around the theme park. It originally had two steam engines named C.K. Holliday (after Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway founder Cyrus Kurtz Holliday) and E.P. Ripley (after the same railway’s first president, Edward Payson Ripley). The design was inspired by the ridable miniature railroad Walt Disney maintained in his backyard.

When the Park first opened (1955) to when I worked there (1977) the ride was owned by the Disney Family - WED Enterprises (Walter Elias Disney - later the Disney Family). It was a gesture of respect to to Walt because it was based on his miniature home railroad.

KING ARTHUR’S CAROUSEL

This elaborate carousel has been a fixture of Disneyland since the park’s grand opening. After acquiring a vintage merry-go-round from the Sunnyside Amusement Park in Toronto, Walt Disney and his team updated it to consist solely of "galloping" horses. The ride is meant to make guests feel like the Knights of the Round Table charging on their steeds.

I think (don't fully remember) going on this when I was young. I probably had 1 of 2 reactions (knowing my youth), either crying and demanding to get off, OR being to cool for this at 5 years old. I don't remember which, but I am sure my mother will remember well.

MAIN STREET CINEMA

Okay, this doesn't count to me. When the Park first opened, the Main Street Cinema showed old Disney cartoons (usually the black and white, Mickey Mouse ones). Sometime in the 1980s / 1990s it switched to more current cartoons and feature film clips. Finally, in 2019, theMain Street Cinema was just a facade for the Cartoon Collection, a shop focussed on Mickey and the Gang merchandize.

Here are some pictures from the old Cinema, which kids did not love - but for parents it was a short respite from screaming children and the heat (it was air-conditioned),


Typical Size crowds in the 1990s


I Will Not Rise To The Bait

Republicans were back at their worst yesterday. They are stupid, stubborn, assholes. Here is their latest stupid moves. The are infuriating, but I refuse to be sucked in. Look how restrained I am.


First off, the Republicans have found a way to torpedo the bipartisan proposal to pay for infrastructure. Their "red-line", meaning a position they will not relent on, is (I swear to God) investigating tax cheats. Seriously, they have blocked the law because the IRS avoidance option is NOT to raise taxes, but to recover all the money now required by law. Yes, they won't pass this until it protects tax cheats.

The Texas Senate passed a law yesterday that specifiably removes the requirement to study Martin Luther King's speech and works. Removes the requirement to study Susan B Anthony and Cesar Chaves. What does it replace it with? They have to teach that the Klu Klux Klan as not based on White Supremacy. Apparently they just liked white outfits and lynchings just happened to occur at their meetings. No. reason why.

I know these are real positions, even though I do not know why. But I will not let it trigger me. Taht is what the dark side wants.

 

Monday, July 19, 2021

Phil, Julie and Dora Visited

On our way to Times Square

This week-end Eddie's brother, Phil and his family came for a visit. They are on their way up to Massachusetts and made time for a stop. It was very hot here, but we had a good time talking, walking the High Line (in super hot weather) having lunch and then sending them to Central Park as we took an air-conditioned cab home.

Apparently (which means I never heard of it, but it is true) the Krispy Kreme Store in Times Square is the only place to get a Krispy New York Doughnut. 


The High Line Park in full bloom (timed entrances now)

To eat if you're allergic to Gluten, but totally safe if you're a Glutten



Sunday, July 18, 2021

Mass Shootings Are Freaking Most Americans Out

Random and frequent Mass Shootings seem to freaking Americans out. Correctly, I think, but happening none the less. A couple of things about it. First they affect a tiny group of Americans. Second, we have them so much more than any other country, yet we can't seem to stop them. And now, the are freaking us all out.


And the response has become as predictable as the wind. Urban dwellers find semi-automatic gun killings appalling and don't understand their motivations, they just want it to stop. 

Gun nuts find these shootings another reason to buy more guns. Their motto is "Only a good guy with a gun can stop a bad guy with a gun." They also publicize the hell out of the very very rare times a good guy with a gun does actually stop a bad guy. And THAT is a great story on any news, so the crazy position is normalized. But it is super rare. More often, if there are multiple weapons the police find it harder to spot the bad guy.

And "normal" people find themselves in this odd position of being torn between the two. Many use guns for hunting or have a gun for safety. They find mass shootings both scary and frustrating. These events drive an all or nothing position on both sides.

Friday, July 16, 2021

Floods Along the Rhine (Not the Rhine, but along it)

There is significant flooding right now in Europe. It is up and down the area (if not the river) of the Rhine. Some pictures are amazingly scary.

Lucerne Switzerland (after and in the tourist brochures)



Liege Belgium (now and in the tourist msgs)






Schuld Germanu

Erftstadt Germany (I think a dam broke)


For those wondering, I did call Peter in Sleigistadt and he and his family are fine. FYI - Peter's Mom (87) had Covid but recovered nicely.


About sums it up