Friday, October 29, 2021

A Tree House I've only seen online

Somehow, while bumbling in the gardens, we stumbled upon this Tree House. It seems it was designed by the architecture students at U of Arkansas. It is in the ""play" area but there isn't much but a view, so no kids were in it. But another couple who loved was there.  So cool.

Lynn in the Tree House from afar

Is it not the coolest thing every (okay, not ever, but still very cool).

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Trip to Garvin Gardens in Arkansas

 Lynn and I are in Hot Springs Arkansas and were bumbling around. Yesterday was beautiful here (although apparently bad in most places in country). So we went to a lovely garden. The first part was exceptional interesting huge Japanese Garden amid a forest. Usually they are rather empty spaces, but this was beautiful. Below are pictures from that part of the garden.

One of the water features with Lynn there.

Lynn and I in the garden. There is a fall blooming azalea in the back, 

Here is a better view one of the azaleas

Those are from around the lake, but there were tons of other areas here.

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Incorrect and deceiving information on Windmills from Facebook

 There is a post going around now on Facebook that is both deceptive and wrong. Here it is in three parts and the story behind all three.

Okay we start with the first sentence. The one that includes the information that 12,000 gallons of fuel per wind farm with 150 turbines.

An average American car is driven about 15,000 miles per year. The mileage average  (including cars, SUVs and consumer trucks) is 20mpg. So "ALL THAT OIL for 150 Turbines" is the same as 16 cars a year use. Fair trade on gas.

If you are using that 12,000 gallons that is less than 10 percent of that 3 day pipeline spill in California this year.

So that whole "so much gas" is crap, even using their numbers.

As for using New York for your example, It is a crap example of a "typical city". New York's population (for example) is larger than San Antonio, Houston and Dallas combined.

New York is twice the size of LA and 4 times the size of Houston (population ranked #2 and #4 cities).

Even if you use their "average" for New York, 304,000 gallons is the same as used by 406 cars in a year. That is amazing!

Each turbine requires a footprint of 1.5 acres. Okay, I don't see where it is documented, but let's assume he is right. Today wind farms are in the deserts (CA, TX, NW and AZ).  Or they are on farmland (Iowa, Midwest) where that 1.5 acres is still used to production. So the idea that you need some astronomical "cleared" forest is bullshit.

Let's even use their numbers and to power NYC you would need 57,000 acres. Which is an area 6 by 6 miles. Doesn't sound so bad now. If you want to do the whole USA's power generation (which we are not! -green includes solar, nuclear and natural gas) AND not use offshore, the land area is about 90% of Wisconsin. Or about the size of the desert in California or Arizona

Add to this, Biden wants to use offshore wind farms, which mean even less land is used.

Now to page 2

Okay, so now we know that wind power for all New York is the equivalent of 406 cars for New York city. Since New York city is 2.4% of the country's population that means powering the entire country with wind power would use the equivalent of 17,000 cars. Which is less than 15% of the cars that cross the George Washington Bridge DAILY!

Again, with the clear cutting - get a grip. You could put all the turbines necessary in the desert in California OR Arizona. Or the fields of Nebraska. Or the desert part of Texas. And, remember, we are talking if we don't use solar, nuclear power or natural gas.

 First "running out of landfill for 200 foot long turbines. Bullshit. The average landfill is 600 acres or approximately 1 square mile. 200 foot long turbines mean you could put 26 to a length. And there are 3000 landfills in the US, so no, we are not running out of landfill.

And, these are a high tech carbon fiber that are massively expensive, so we will soon figure out how to recycle the material in them. As for the 20 years, that's a guess because we haven't had these longer than 20 years. Right now, Texas authorities project  they could last 25 - 35years.  So, golly gee, that is pretty fucking green.

As for the number of birds killed, we can use their estimates. I'm okay with that. But the split of birds they quote is wrong. The high end estimates (Erikson study) found 62% are small birds, not hawks, eagles and owls. 

That sound like a lot, but cats kill 2.4 Billion birds a year or 4,800 TIMES the number killed by windmills. HOUSE CATS. And no, wildlife conservations are not ecstatic, but just getting rid of that amount of pollution will save billions of birds, so it is a trade off they are more than willing to make.

So if you could power the entire country with the oil from 17,000 cars (or 1/26th of the cars in Delaware) and 1/4800th of the birds killed by cats, yeah that is pretty damn good.

I also want to point out that these hundreds of windmills in the Cajon Pass in California are NOT each on 1.5 acres each.

So if you crunch the numbers  AND you present in a manner to make them scary, you can make it look bad. But it isn't. It is just built to present real answers in dumb terms. 

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Articles of Confederation -> The Constitution : Part 1 Why Didn’t It Work?

The story we were all taught in 5th Grade Civics and History classes was pretty straight forward. After the American Revolution, the 13 colonies created a document that defined the relationships between the states called The Articles of Confederation. The Articles proved to be unworkable, and our forefathers got together and created the Constitution in order to protect the country. 

Today I heard a podcast that called that theory into question. Just as an aside, I think many podcasts are the liberal response to right wing radio, but that isn’t here or there.

The historian in question, Woody Holton, has been challenging the consensus of historical interpretations of the founding of the country. One less interesting aspect, to me, is he’s feelings about the founding fathers like Jefferson, Washington, and Adams. He questions the need to think of them as flawless individuals, and rather as people who did some HEROIC things. 

His example is Thomas Jefferson, who had slaves during his life and, in fact, freed only those who were blood related to him. And not until after his death. Definitely flawed. But Jefferson also wrote the Declaration of Independence which says, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." Which are some of the most quoted and honored words in human history. Dr. Holton's feeling is that you can hold this great man in reverence, but still admit he had flaws.

We can do this with Ronald Reagan - acknowledging he screwed up the AIDS challenge while still a hero to some Republicans. As well as Bill Clinton – acknowledging he was an adulterer and smarmy while still being a hero to many. So Dr. Holton sees no reasons we shouldn’t be able to do that with the founding fathers.

The more interesting aspect of the PodCast was the WHY the Articles of Confederation were rewritten, and who benefitted. 

First let’s start with the problems (the Constitutional changes I’ll do in part 2)

The Articles of Confederation (let’s say AoC from here on) were first written in 1777. They came into effect in 1781 when the last colony (Maryland) signed on. Oddly, the Continental Congress, which kind of ran things - until we had this AoC - stayed on after the ratification as our new Congress.

The traditional causes we were taught are correct, but not complete. It is true that almost all power was devolved to the states. The states issued their own money, had their own taxes. And regularly had conflicts over competing rights.

The AoC also defined the Federated President and Congress based on the UK Monarch and House of Lords system This means that very little actual power was actually held at the national level. The government that the founding fathers fought for had almost no power over the country as a whole.

The states and state legislatures were the equivalent of the British House of Commons. Nearly all legislative power lay in the state legislatures, not the national Congress. The 13 states also had very weak or non-existent Governors, for example none were allowed to veto state legislation. So the states ran freely by their legislatures. The AoC bound the states into a federation of “friends”, responsible for their own debt and laws.

Dr. Holton posits an additional explanation for the failure. One that quotes both Thomas Jefferson and Massachusetts Governor Elbridge Gerry (of Gerrymander fame). They both said the Articles of Confederation were victims of “too much democracy”.

The state legislatures were built with very small districts and were therefore super responsive to their voters. This led to a condition the founding fathers called “mob rule of the majority”. 

That is the states didn’t work together but at odds with each other and passed laws that were good for some states, but antithetical to the Federation*. And the Federal Government, as weak as it was, couldn’t do anything about it.

To fix the AoC, there was a Constitutional Convention in 1787. The men changed with amending the AoC quickly decided to throw it out as unfixable and centralize power in the Federal Government.

And, in doing so, our Forefathers solved the problem of “too much democracy”. See Part II for more.

*Oddly I spelled antithetical correctly on the first try. As opposed to particularly - which I rarely spell correctly.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Ladies and Gentlemen - The Candidate for Nevada's Governor

Just watch. Watch and weep.


Review Up - A Venomous Color: The Fairest

 My review is up here. Below is an excerpt:

Snow White Approaches in A Venomous Color: The Fairest

The new play at The Wild Project, A Venomous Color: The Fairest, has a simple premise that unfolds in layers. The framework is a workplace from Disney Studios - long before it became famous for animated movies. The play is set in the workshop where the cel illustration for Snow White the movie is done. This workplace provides the added pressure because they are working to complete the first full length animated feature. This was a period of sex segregation, and it is women who outline and paint the cels that are designed by men. The show provides a mirror to many of the problems and expectations in the workforce today, augmented by a disdainful attitude towards women.


A Venomous Color: The Fairest isn’t an indictment of Walt Disney or the studio, per say, but it functions as a safe place to air out our current angst. Written and directed by Cameron Darwin Bossert, the play moves at a brisk pace. The intermission less show feeds our own anxiety of finishing on time. The ensemble is excellent, ensuring that this is a provocative and thoughtful piece.

Odd memories that pop up

Ed and I were in Pittsfield earlier this year. While walking around the town, I saw thing on the sidewalk. It brought back memories of shopping for shoes as a child. And, for some reason, I remember just dreading it. PS - I remember the reasons, but I have no more reason to trash Deanna; after all, she was fighting my father for money to shoe 3 boys of varying ages.

There wasn't a store left. Or even a store front, it was now something completely different. 

But it made me happy, despite any bad memories. While I didn't like shopping, particularly for school clothes and shoes, it now seems quaint in retrospect. The walking between May Co for clothes, Thom McAn for shoes and the local sears for the gym shorts and reversible shirts we had to use. Amazon makes it all seamless and quick, but there was something positive about family time, even it was a chore.

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

AND Stress Inducing. Don't Forget That

New York is the city of rude strangers, near comic disregard for others and an undercurrent of noise that is painful. The below report is not surprising, since I have never seen someone in this city pull over for a ambulance - unless it helps them cross a red light to get out of their way. 

Some of this reluctance is gridlocked traffi, some of it is New York stubbornness and some is the outrage that someone else may get "there" faster if they pull over. It is annoying for me and devastating for those relatives whose loved one died on the way to the hospital.

And loud. So very, very loud. With near constant honking, near constant sirens, and the old ladies screaming curses in the street* it is an acquired taste.

*Sung to the tune of "old men playing checkers by the tree" from MacArthur Park.

The WRONG way to look at it

This heading is wrong.

Don't get me  wrong Putin is not a nice man. But either the Cold War Era was going on before this, OR this is the "start" of nothing.

What happened is NATO kicked out 8 Russians from the mission accused of spying. IN retaliation, Putin closed the NATO offices in Moscow.

NOW - if they really were spying, the "New Cold War" era started long before this.

If they really were not spying, then we kicked off the "New Cold War" era.

Pretending this is a new era ignores their efforts to sway elections both for Trump and or Brexit. Both won, but might have won without Russian shenanigans. 

I just want us to be clear. Words matter. Words like insurrection and overthrow.

Monday, October 18, 2021

Amazing Diplomacy of George Bush I

I was thinking the other day about how amazing it was that the world made it through the breakup of the Soviet Union so easily. You have to give a ton of credit to two men, both without a great reputation today. George Bush I and Boris Yeltsin. Look at the map below and here are some facts that are amazing.

Countries 2, 3 and 4 are the Baltic Countries (not to be confused with Balkan) of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. The had a fight for recognition since WWII even though they had only be nation states in this form, since 1917. Not only did these three become independent immediately, Russia let them go. They were then "supported" by Finland and Sweden and joined NATO for protection and ultimately the European Union. They are now poster childs for a great transition. Particularly as they joined NATO, and Russia gave acquiesce.

Countries 6 (Ukraine) and 11 (Kazakhstan) actually gave up nuclear missiles and arms - that they had under their control - back to Russia. (Which screwed Ukraine during the last war, but was a major win for all involved.

Aside from (8) Georgia and (9) Armenia, nearly all descending into strong man rule, often the ex-Soviet governors. And their independence from Russia was not guaranteed. It was a strength (seen at the time as a weakness) that Yeltsin didn't reintegrate them by force. 

Since then Russian President Putin has made some minor moves to reclaim Russia territory, specifically the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine. Not particularly a surprise since it was a gift from Russia to Ukraine sometime after WWII. And it has invaded some parts of Georgia to teach them a lesson.

But overall (and compared to Yugoslavia) the break-up went about as well as possible.

Amazing Sculptural Building in Greenland

Dorte Mandrup, a female Danish architect, design this building that stands in Greenland on a fjord. It is beautiful and designed to showcase different views of the arctic. There is a pathway to the fjord for viewing in the summer, when the ice is melting. The story is interesting, but here are some killer pictures of the building.

This first image made me think it was a folly, not a building. But then I saw the people on the roof. It is big.

It blends in well to the landscape

You can walk the roof, and visit the views and artifacts inside as well. Cool

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Climate Change Frustrations

Yosemite. I used this picture because it is beautiful, even though it is used to illustrate "16 fires in Yosemite caused by lighting strikes this year".

I guess I am resigned to climate change. I used to be frustrated people wouldn't take it more seriously, than frustrated people aren't even preparing for it.

Then I remembered what my great friend - and the smartest guy I know, Steve.C, said once. "Tell me how someone gets paid, and I'll tell you what motivates them." No one pays people to fight for climate change. Now some people still do fight for this; those that are more motivated by public good than private compensation. But they are rare and usually young with very little power. And they all quickly learn it is a useless battle.

For most of us, the trade off between climate change and not changing lifestyle is an easy choice for lifestyle. We (and I include myself) would rather drive, fly and have access to cheap energy rather than not travel, not use the luxury of a private car and pay more. We all might be willing to make a trade off for better climate, but those easy options are rare.

If you understand that less than 0.8% of the world's people own more than 68% of the world's wealth, you realize that the incentives of those that are rich, overwhelm the incentives of the bottom 68%. AND, the poorest 68% would easily trade more pollution for a higher standing of living.

In China, America and, to a lesser extent, other wealthy countries, every survey finds that legislatures do not respond to constituents, they respond to donors and high worth individuals. And these people have less reason to support climate change than the rest of us. They have built fortunes on energy extraction or cheap labor and cheap energy.

The long term consequences to everyone else and the planet are just not important to them. They, and the other rich people of the world (including nearly all of the "western world") will learn to live with climate change. As oceans rise, they will move to higher land. As climate disaster get worse, they will build safer communities ANd move to safer land.

And so yes, I guess I am resigned. And. like most  of the rich (which we are not), I am old. This will happen outside of my lifetime. But it's getting closer. Remember 20 years ago we were looking at climate impacts in 2100s, over a 100 years away. Ten years ago, the best guess for climate impacts was 2075. Now the outlook is 2050 for the worst and 2035 for significant effects. And yet the needle on emissions hasn't slowed its growth trajectory.

almost nothing has change

The US government keeps insuring beachfront property for nothing. Insurance against wildfires will soon be subsidized. Rather than focussing on leaving super low elevation areas, we are building more and picking up the insurance. Any policies to overturn this staggering mistake were meant with howls from nearly every East Coast and Gulf Coast state;  now the West only because the West Coast isn't nearly as low and protected by seaside cliffs for the great majority of their coastlines - they fight for fire insurance.

If we, the richest country in the world, can't care, how can others?

Friday, October 15, 2021

The Great Hall Carvings at Penshurst House

The wood carvings from inside the Great Hall.

In England we visited Penshurst House. In passing I did mention the 14th century Great Hall. Still there some 600 years later. One of the things I found impressive, and per the docent, still standing after 600 years, were the carvings in the Great Hall. A line of them are above. Detail below. Very cool.

Penhurst Great Hall is the one with the read / tiles roof inthe middle.

The actual carvings are a bit stern.


Welcome back Moulin Rouge

Ed and I had a date night yesterday. We ate at an Italian restaurant, Amorona, which was very good.

Then we headed to see Moulin Rouge with a new Santine, Natalie Mendoza. She is the only new cast member after Broadway was dark for over a year. It reopen on July 26th, which was early on (many shows still aren't open yet).

The getting in was easy, New York has the Covid passes down pat. Ed used the New York state ap and I used the New York city ap. Either one let us pretty fly through the lines, although we did get there early.

Anyway, the musical still works. It still moves me. And the new Santine brought out a different, and better, side of Aaron Tveit. So, yes, it was great.

Again and still.

Thursday, October 14, 2021

A War you never heard about, but (maybe) an important one

So there is a long running war, with occasional bursts of a cold peace, between Armenia and Azerbaijan. For most of recent (say 1600s onward) both Armenia and Azerbaijan were part of the Ottoman empire, then the Russian Empire. In 1917, they were incorporated into the Soviet Union. Through a long and tangled history, this might result in Turkey acquiring US nuclear missles.

Ethnically Armenia and Azerbaijan are very different. Armenia is Orthodox Christian. In fact it is the oldest Christian nation there is. It embraced Christianity before before 350AD and the does not adhere to the official reduced book of gospel as degreed by Rome in 453.

On the the other hand, Azerbaijan is a muslim nation, whose people are ethnic Turks. In fact, these people (spread through northern Iran as well) are the largest group of ethnic Turks, after Turkey itself.

Originally (say 1980s), the bright orange was part of Armenia, and the yellow in the southwest was (and still is) part of Azerbaijan. The dark brown has been "ruled" by Armenia since the 1990s.

So, right off the bat, there is both an ethnic and religious divide. Worse both countries, during Soviet rule, were granted pieces of non contiguous territory inside the other's borders due to the ethnic populations. When the Soviet Union broke up, the borders were left intact. That is Armenia controlled the bright orange of the map above in Azerbaijan and Azerbaijan controlled the yellow in Armenia's territory.

The first war broke out the year the Soviet Union collapsed (1988). There has been low level fighting ever since, with major conflicts in 1994, 2005, 2016 and 2020. The most recent, and the simmering tensions that have followed, added a major international element to the fight.

For the first time since the Ottoman Empire, Turkey inserted itself. They supported Azerbaijan along with Russia. Turkey and Armenia have had a strained relationship since 1914 when Armenians in Istanbul and Ottoman Turkey were massacred - in the first oficial genocide

In 2020, after multiple attempts by Congress, President Trump officially recognized this as genocide, infuriating Turkey. Many many Armenian-Americans celebrated.

So Turkey, with no reason to hold back now, lent its support to Azerbaijan. With Turkey and Russia on its side, Azerbaijan overwhelmed Armenia. A super fragile peace has been imposed by Russia and Turkey, which is sporadically broken by both parties.

Why is this a big deal? Well, it is the second time that Turkey, our ally and NATO member, has aligned with Russia in an international conflict despite the express wishes of the USA. (The first was in the Syrian Civil war, a few years earlier.) As Turkey and Russia find common interests, the United States has become less important as an ally. Still, this might not be a big deal, except the United States actually has nuclear attack missiles in Turkey at an American base.

And, during a tiff with Trump, Turkey actually closed the base's access. Which is a pretty big deal, and something we would definitely go to war over. We don't want a anti-US faction in Turkey to take control of nuclear weapons - particularly ours.

And so, almost a decade after the fall of the Soviet Union, we find ourselves in the middle of another intractable war in the mid-east (adjacent).

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Is America an Empire?

An interesting question is, “Is America an Empire”? The question has implications for world stability and our own self-image. Generally, if you ask an American, we will quickly respond no. We tend to think of Empires, like The British, French, Spanish, Roman and Russian Empires of their time, as relics of a different era. They had physical colonies around the world. Some people know that the colony <-> home country trade was a way of extracting natural resources to the detriment of the colony. We believe in open trade, open communication, self-determination, and sanctity of international institutions. So we say no.

But if ask non-Americans you will get a different answer. Outside of America, the reach of our military and the domination of soft power (TV, movies, and fashion) has always been massive. But, they will also note, that America is losing power. Not only to others in terms of economic, military, and cultural power only to others (like China and the EU) but we are losing our own will to function as a major power. 

(more after jump)

Famous Interactions 1: Mainly Embarrassing

Well, I've had nincompoopery since 2004 - that was documented. I had an earlier version starting in 1998 that is lost. Along with about 5 years of emails between me and Gareth and John sent when we were single before the internet. This were also lost although Gareth, John and I all think, thank goodness, But is a round up of life, isn't it? So let's go.

Scott and Michael Cristofer

One year at the Men's finals of the US Open, I meet Michael Cristofer (yes, that is he spelling). Now I did ask Ed if I could talk to him (because of the Lleyton Hewitt Rule (c) )*. Once I got the go-ahead, I walked over and we spoke of Mr. Robot. He had a small but pivotal part. 

And we discussed the show, his role - and how great he was. We also discussed the cinematography, because they consistently shot from low to high, making bringing an artificial limit and claustrophobia to the shots, without tight rooms. We laughed had fun, and Ed finally exhaled.

I love how the characters are only in the lower 1/3 of the shot.

Then I went and looked him up online to see if I did anything stupid. Which I did not. But I didn't know how talented he was. I will put his biography below the Mr. Robot shots, but let's say he is amazing. He has written a ton of Broadway shows and movies. He has won Tonys for his work as a writer. He WON a Director's Guild award for Gia.

Okay this is not a tight shot, but the discussion later is.

And so, I went back and said, "Oh my goodness I had no idea what a big deal you are, my apologies."

He said, "What do you mean?"

And I said, "A Tony, a DGA? All those plays you've written and directed!"

And he replied, which I thought was hilarious, "And a Pulitzer. Don't forget the Pulitzer." And we laughed. One of the nicest people I have ever met.


Michael Cristofer was awarded a Pulitzer Prize and an Antoinette Perry "Tony" Award for the Broadway production of his play, The Shadow Box. Other plays include Breaking Up (Primary Stages), ICE, (Manhattan Theatre Club); Black Angel, (Circle Repertory Company); The Lady and the Clarinet starring Stockard Channing, Amazing Grace starring Marsha Mason and Man in the Ring, the story of prize fighter Emile Griffith, which received the American Theater Critics Award for best American play in 2017.

Mr. Cristofer's film work includes the screenplays for The Shadow Box (1980) directed by Paul Newman (Golden Globe Award, Emmy nomination), Falling in Love (1984), with Meryl Streep and Robert DeNiro, The Witches of Eastwick (1987) with Jack Nicholson, The Bonfire of the Vanities (1990) directed by Brian De PalmaBreaking Up (1997) starring Russell Crowe and Salma Hayek, Georgia O'Keeffe (2009) (Writers Guild Award) with Joan Allen and Jeremy Irons, Casanova (2005) starring Heath Ledger, and Chuck (2016) starring Liev Schreiber. His directing credits include Gia (1998), for HBO Pictures starring Angelina Jolie, Mercedes Ruehl, and Faye Dunaway, which was nominated for 5 Emmys and for which he won a Director's Guild Award. He next directed Body Shots (1999) for New Line Cinema and Original Sin (2001) starring Antonio Banderas.

For eight years he worked as co-artistic director of River Arts Repertory in Woodstock, N.Y., where he wrote stage adaptations of the films Love Me Or Leave Me and the legendary Casablanca, directed Joanne Woodward in his own adaptation of Ibsen's Ghosts and produced the American premier of Edward Albee's Three Tall Women - a production which later moved to Off-Broadway. His most recent works for the theater are in workshop at the Actor's Studio where he is a member. After a fifteen year hiatus, Mr. Cristofer has returned to his acting career appearing in Romeo and Juliet (NY Shakespeare Festival), Trumpery by Peter Parnell, Three Sisters (Williamstown Theater), Body of Water with Christine Lahti, and the acclaimed Broadway revival of A View from the Bridge with Liev Schreiber and Scarlett Johansson.

His film work includes The Girl in the Book (2015), The Other Woman (2009) with Natalie Portman and Michel Franco's Chronic with Tim Roth. He created the role of Gus in Tony Kushner's The Intelligent Homosexual... at the Public Theater and starred in Stephen Belber's Don't Go Gentle at MCC Theater. He appeared as the infamous Truxton Spangler in the AMC series Rubicon (2010) and was recently seen in the NBC series, Smash (2012), American Horror Story (2011), Showtime's Ray Donovan (2013). On the USA Network series, Mr. Robot (2015), he plays Evil Corp CEO, Philip Price.

*The Lleyton Hewitt rule says that at the US Open I am (1) not to talk to players and (2) must ask Ed before I talk to people in the suite, lest I embarrass him.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

James Bond Villains' Lairs

Achritectizer has a bunch of James Bond lairs form the movies. These are villians' lairs.

Clearly, this is my favorite although I never saw the movie it was in. A Greece Monastery from "For Your Eyes Only"

Lake Como Villa from "Casino Royale" (the Daniel Craig one)

French chateau from "Moonraker"

This is interesting. It was used in "The Quantum of Solace" - stupid title. The place itself is the ESO Hotel and is used for scientist and astronomers from a Bolivian Observatory high up in the Andes.

Another odd one. This was written about in "His Majesty's Secret Service" the book. When the movie producers for the movie scouted for a location, they found that the Swiss were actually building this place! They had starting build the restaurant and ski lifts. The movie help pay to get this ready on time.

Monday, October 11, 2021

One more in the occasional series: Cool New York Buildings

A lot of times when walking around New York, you don't notice the buildings. Maybe it's because new buildings don't cry out to be noticed the same way. Or maybe it's because we are too busy walking, talking or complaining to bother looking up. One of Lynn's co-works was told never to look up in New York City for fear of purse snatchers.

Whatever the reason, we often miss the beauty of old architecture. The architecture where the ornamentation, particularly on top, was common. Don't get me wrong, I do love a low slung modern house and a deco building. But there is something uniquely lovely about the old "igh-rises" of New York.

From the street

Details above the top floor. carved looking concrete arches and terracotta head tiles.

Speaking of Jails (and prisons)

When Americans think of prisons or jails, there are two types we think of, white collar "low conflict" prisons and death traps. Riker's Island is a death trap. And it is part of the "prison complex" where prisoners often never leave. 

This was written today about Riker's...

The situation in the notorious Rikers Island jail complex has spiraled out of control in recent months, and detainees have had free rein inside. They are in near-total control of entire units in some buildings.

The rest of that article is below the jump.

In a slightly exceptional case (although not rare enough) an 18 year old black man was killed after being in Riker's for 16 months - he was arrested at 17 and shipped to Riker's to await trial. What did he do? Nothing. He was waiting trail for a misdemeanor offense and couldn't afford the $10,000 bail. For 16 months the city wasn't ready to even START his prosecution, so they left him there. Where the young man was raped for months before being killed. Note that the longest possible sentence for this misdemeanor was 1 year!

Riker's Island. It is the combined jail for each borough in the city.

How did it get this way? Was it always this way? Historically in the US, no - it wasn't always this way or planned to be this way. Prisons were - and in most western countries still are - places for people to be punished by taking away their freedom AND places of rehabilitation. Remember the prison library in Shawshank Redemption? Those libraries are gone. Remember the asylums in 12 Monkeys? Those mentally ill people are put into prisons now.

So, why are prisons now hell holes? Starting in the1980s prisons were outsourced to various corporations. Under Ronald Reagan people worried less about how to rehabilitate people and more how to lock them up and stop worrying. Now, to be fair, the 1970s and early 1980s were petty damn crime ridden. The statistics on murder, property crimes and other crimes were much higher than now and growing. People were afraid, whether from the media hype or from real like, it doesn't matter. Crimes were huge and growing until the 1990s.

So the outsourcing was less about making them back into members of society and more "just take them out of our sight". Of course, in hindsight, the current issues were obviously coming. Private prisons get a dollar amount per prisoner. And, as a capitalistic society, we try to maximize profits. So cuts were made to quality of food. Cuts were made to anything rehabilitory. Prisons no longer cared about rehabilitating, only punishing. And, since it was out of view for most of us, and nearly all politicians (remember, they go to country club prisons), we ignored it. 

WE don't even see it. When a rich or famous person goes to jail, they can actually pay to go to a better local prison somewhere in the system. (This may be an LA only thing, but you don't think stars sit in prison, do you? Teh city of Downey has nice prison cells they rent out to stars serving sentences.)

Now, instead of rehabilitated prisoners with skills, after their sentence we release criminals that are more hardened, more angry and have no skills. No wonder we say it is a revolving door back to prison. Our society doesn't care. Like guns, wide open spaces, soaring national parks and extreme poverty - this is a US thing. Other countries still think their citizens are worthwhile and try to rehabilitate them back to society. We do not think this way. TV even jokes about prison rape all the time. We think prisoners deserve it, not having any idea what they did.

Okay now the full article on to the shit show with the inmates running the asylum - but real.

The tale of Chiselborough

 Our second dog sit in England this past month was in Chiselborough. Which is a village of about 100 - 125. It was in the middle of nowhere....