Friday, December 31, 2021

The fascinating architecture of Aruba

Aruba is, first: great, warm, easy going and expensive. But it is an island and nice islands are always expensive.

But it is interesting in other ways besides those above. One of them is the architecture. Thee are clear demarcations. 

The obvious is old time Holland. This is a Dutch Island and so many of the tourist places are olde Dutch. Here is one.

They are clearly new reproductions of olde Holland, but they are painted brightly and the tourists off the boats seem to like them.

We are far from the tour boats, which stop in Orangestat. We are about 3  miles now and were about 4 miles before. It isn't bad, and the roads are quick, but it is definitely too far to walk and the tours go up to a different beach.

But this also meant we weren't the capital city much. But as we have visited and ate occasionally, I have found a lot of deco buildings. I think the place was busy a bit before, during, and after WWII. This has left a big stock of Art Deco buildings. Some in great shape, some needing help.

Cool buildings - in good shape:

And a lot in bad shape. I am showing this one, because I fell in love!

I think it is the old police / civic building

Detail of the upper windows

A church in great shape; founded by a Dutch man, restored by Americans and Dutch Arubans, and host of John Paul II once.

And finally, an honest old Dutch Aruban house that has been through a few transformations and now needs a lot of love (and probably trunks full of cash).

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Covid Fatigue

I read a great article about Covid fatigue - regardless of political nuttiness.

It says that your fear will wear down over time. There are essentially two kinds of fear / response. 

The first type of phobia fear. Like people who freak out about spiders. The best way to resolve that is get the person used to spiders by repeated and controlled exposure (I could not spell inured for the life of me).

The second fear is low level learned fear. Like if you left the iron on once, you will freak out about doing it again. But, after a few times leaving the house with no horrible consequences, you learn to live with it.

Covid has attack both of these types of fear. People freaked out about a pandemic are exposed to Covid variants over and over and are just inured to them. And people with a low level dread / fear are just trained by repeated warnings, that the fear is bullshit.

Even with people taking it seriously, there is a burnout of wearing masks and sitting in a condo or apartment, not seeing anyone else. 

This knowledge doesn't change anything, but it helps me to understand the burnout and people's lagging compliance with experts. And then experts get more persistent and louder and the burnout accelerates, not diminishes. I think we all saw that with Delta - which was real and killed people, so vaccinations increased. And you saw it much less so with Omicron, which causes a sore throat for most vaccinated people.

I admit to both kinds of fear and both kinds of response. I am glad I am in Aruba, not hearing the constant complaints of Faucci and of the idiots that won't vax.

Response based on fear, with hidden consequences, cannot last forever. I assume that is why people that have experienced loss of a loved one take precautions more seriously that those who know "a friend" passed away and those take precautions much more seriously than those poeple who haven't lost anyone.

Viva Aruba (or whatever it is in Dutch)

Aruba in Dec/Jan is kind of a dream. Pretty consistently in the high 80s during the day and low 80s / high 70s at night. The average temp in January (their coldest month) is 81. There average temp in May (their warmest month) is 84, so you get it.

We have visited much of the island. Those of you who have lived an"island" life understand it is both freeing and a little claustrophobic at the same time.

But mainly, it is warm and relaxing.

Saturday, December 25, 2021

Ho ho ho from Aruba

For Christmas, Ed and I gave each other a snorkeling day. This is the resort as we pull away. (No, we are in an AirBNB with a separate kitchen, living room, bedrooms. Resorts are not really “a bit of me.”)

And this is why we don’t shop at Walmart

(“Scott, that’s not funny “)

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Dec 23rd: Festivus for the Rest of Us

The 23rd of december is Festivus, the holiday for the rest of us. Popularized by George Costanza (father of "I Can't Stand Ya, Costanza") it is celebrated around the steel festivus pole and includes feats of strength and the airing of grievances. Herein is my Festivus Airing of Grievances both large and small. There are many, so buckle up kiddo.

  1. Cowboy Bebop was canceled almost before it aired. A true shafting of John Cho in a delightful role.
  2. Covid
    1. Delta
    2. Omicron
  3. Covid PCR Testing - apparently the nose bone is connected to the brain bone.
  4. Taron Egerton has not been in a movie this year
  5. Murder Hornets (an 2020 holdover)
  6. Malicious Otters
  7. Kyle Rittenhouse
  8. The number of commercials in ABC Nightly News.
  9. No new Umbrella Academy Season Yet
  10. They way Irish spell names Ian = Ion or Eion? / Chivon = Siobhán or Siubhán? / And we all have just agreed that Shawn is spelled Sean, no reason why! Kids, there is no H in that spelling!
  11. The UCLA Head Coach Chip Kelly. W /L record at Oregon 33 - 6, W/L record at UCLA 18 - 2!
  12. Borshat: It just cold pureed beet soup
  13. Beets
  14. Politics
  15. Aaron Rogers
  16. 24 hour delays in Charlotte NC
  17. The lack of Broadway in most of 2021
  18. What's back on Broadway at the end of 2021: Mrs. Doubtfire! / Diana - the Musical / Temptations the Musical / Tina Turner the Musical / Michael Jackson the Musical / rumored return of Jersey Boys the Musical. Yuck!
  19. Masks on planes (just make vaccinations required!)
  20. Mask on Broadway: Kids, we had to be vaccinated to get in!
  21. De Blasio
  22. Texas
  23. The Supreme Court
  24. The dying sound of Democracy
  25. The dying sound of the planet (and the fact it's slapping us in the face on the way out)
  26. Peacock + streaming? another one?
  27. The lack of either Del Taco or Jack in the Box in a 500 miles radius
  28. Cancer / TIA of my loved ones
  29. Billionaires in space
  30. Elon Musk (1/2 the time, the other 1/2 - I love him)
  31. Fat Chris Pratt
  32. Dune 2021 (man! it was more boring than Dune of the 1980s!)
  33. Jan 6th
  34. March 29th (2nd straight Covid birthday)
  35. Zoom
  36. Cowboy Bebop cancelled (I know, but I really did love that show)
  37. The new Sex in the City with 60 and 70 year olds.
  38. Benedict Cumberbatch as a Cowpoke
  39. My very own Covid 19 (pounds)
  40. Proving you're a human by checking crosswalks on the screen
  41. Paul Rudd as the Sexiest Man Alive
I've got more, but I think that gets to the point.


Eddie and I are headed to Aruba for a while - assuming a negative Covid test for Ed. I am already approved. We are desperately working to go before the walls close in again.

We had plans to go to Curacao last year, but Covid interrupted. If we make it, expect lower posting for a week.

Happy Festivus

Merry Christmas

Happy New Year

My last freakout of the year

 I have one last freakout about the state of the country in me for this year. This is it.

America is facing rising fascism. It is insidious, stealthy and growing. First let's define Fascism by the textbook definition. Mirriam-Webster defines it as well as anyone:

Yeah, that sounds about right. Given this definition, Trump and his followers are definitely following the fascist playbook. In removing as many voting rights as possible, the Republican party is a willing participant. 

On January 6th, protesters actually tried to stop an election - based on a lie. They stormed the capital and, although some have been prosecuted or charged, none of the major instigators - from John Eastman to President Trump - have been charged. Or apparently even investigated.

Based on the Big Lie (which most legislators acknowledge isn't true) 8 Senators and 139 Representatives voted not to certify a public and clean election. The full list is after the jump.

As for me. Well I listed what would make me get the fuck out of Dodge. I have updated the list, and find I should get out EXCEPT that Trump is no longer in power. I figured it is best to wait out the Supreme Court decisions (June 22) and the midterms in 22. Let me just say though, it's hanging by a thread!

My list (and status), also after the jump

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

The Getty Villa

J. Paul Getty was a dick of a father and grandfather (letting kidnappers cut his grandson's ear off, and still not helping). This movie is a pretty good indicator of his life - All The Money In The World.

Nonetheless, he accomplished was some good in his own way. He was a collector of art. He collected man many pieces, but his first love was Greek and Roman Statuary. He choose to display it in a museum near his house, but it quickly overflowed, so he built a much larger place, the Getty Villa. It was based on specific Roman Villa and served as a gorgeous place to view ancient items.

View of the Pacific behind us

It opened in 1974 - oddly Getty died 2 years later, having never visited. It is Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) just north of Sunset and just south of Malibu. In 1997 the main Getty Museum opened (on the 405 just north of the Sunset exit). When that huge campus opened, the Villa was closed for repair and updating. It took nearly a decade, reopening in 2008.

This was part of a selection of ancient statues and how Rubens interpreted the ancients in his paintings (yes J.P. owns both the statues and the paintings!)

Timed entry means it was not very busy

By 2008, Ed and I were already in New York, so we missed it. Last weekend, I finally got to take Ed.

It is stunning. Both the art and the villa grounds.
It is unbelievable to me the sculptured top on the woman in the middle!

Jupiter (Zues)

Question: re 12 Days of Christmas?

Is it me, or is The Twelve Days of Christmas just the 99 bottles of beer on the wall song with bells?

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Back from LA: The Broad Museum

 Eddie and I went to Los Angeles this weekend to see friends and just relax a bit. It was fantastic and we had a great time. One of the other things we did (in addition to friends) was to visit places Ed hadn't been before.

First up was the new Broad Art Museum. It is downtown and the gift of Eli Broad, the developer who was a huge donator in Los Angeles. In fact, he gave the largest donation to the new LA Cathedral, pretty generous for a Jewish man to do for the Catholic archdiocese. 

Anyway, he had (he died in 2015) a massive collection of artwork. For years he would loan parts out (the museum still does) but he also wanted to share it in his older age. So he built the Eli Broad Art Museum. Admission is free - although timed because of Covid.

The Broad (near) sits next to the Disney Concert Hall downtown.

It is an interesting place, architecturally. A cut out curtain wall pulls interest. The same cut out still on the roof as well, seen through many many skylights.

Inside, the regimented facade quickly transitions to an organic flare, as the escalator to the top floor passes through a shrinking aperture. It is very Frank Lloyd Wright, in that the architect collapses the space, before opening it up to make the result seem even larger. They needn't had. The top floor is an expanse of over an acre, with the roof floating about the place.

The escalator shaft.

Multiple distinct "rooms" are created in the space and it is a great place to wander through.

With this large piece you can see from the central atrium towards the Koons room

African American art using stencils.

Jeff Koons room with the ubiquitous dog.

This is fascinating. You walk down steps to the first floor. The second floor (pictured through a window) is where most of the non displayed art is stored.

A fascinating piece where all the German chancellors are painted looking at a different piece of modern art. Painted as if through a window. 

For the piece above, the artist has the German Chancellors (from reunification to Merkel) looking at Modern Art. The artist used this modern piece to illustrate the changes in Germany since reunification. In pre-unification East Germany -as well of the rest of Eastern Europe) looked at Modernism as decadent and threatening.

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Lying to the audience (and not being embarrassed by it) moves to sports television

(note up front) I don't hold this personally against Chris Collinsworth. I use this whoel shebang as an example (one of hundreds) that Americans in the public eye just lying all the time. If they aren't lying (as I don't think Collinsworth was), they make mistakes but can't acknowledge it 

Look, I like Chris Collinsworth. Generally I believe he is funny, smart and insightful about sports. But, again, we seem to be stuck where people who are "experts" (in this case, Chris Collinsworth) who either flat out lie (which I do not think was the case here) or say something stupid - then cannot acknowledge the mistake and - as my father bragged about doing - sticking with the lie.

I, and many other sports fans, were shocked by Aaron Rogers - previously a great, stand up guy - either lying or very willfully not providing the truth about his vaccination status. It is a giant brouhaha in the field, so he was obviously aware of Aaron's "misspeaking".

Then Chris Collinsworth, on a Sunday Night Football broadcast this last week, said:

During the second quarter of Green Bay's game against the Bears, Collinsworth said, “He doesn’t care. Have you seen a guy, and in particular, this year, be more honest about everything? You may not agree with everything he says, but we have heard from the beginning of this entire season exactly what he thinks about everything.”

I think Chris was referring to a podcast, where Rogers shared an excuse on his own misleading statements. The rest of the interview was truthful and introspective. Therefore, I totally give Chris Collinsworth a chance (in this case 3 days) to clarify his remarks.

Or he could pull the Trump trick of just going on. Guess which one a public broadcaster with decades of experience chose? Shocking (that was sarcasm).

From Chris.... crickets.

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

I Hate the Phone.. (updated)

And today I had to call Telecharge, Roundabout Theater, AFAR Magazine and American Express. I was 25% successful and 100% annoyed. Make that 25% annoyed and 75% freak out annoyed.

Change that to 100% super ass annoyed.

Gambling Ships off the Southern California Coast

I just finished Erle Stanley Gardner's Perry Mason book, The Case of the Dangerous Dowager. The Perry Mason books were written from the 1930s to the 1950s. I have also seen the boats in a Thin Man movie (the last and worst, Song of the Thin Man).

So I checked. Wikipedia has all the details (like everything), but there is also a great LA Times story of one of them.

What happened was that during prohibition and then the 1930s, gambling boats would anchor 3 miles offshore, just past the national limit (it has since been extended to 12 and 200 miles, depending on in regards to what it is in reference to). There gambling and booze were essential legal-ish.

The Rex

In movies and stories, they are depicted as luxurious haunts of the rich, famous, and big-time racketeers.  The reality seemed something else indeed.

Wikipedia gives the best story of the demise:

Enforcement of the Law[edit]

There was once an incident off the shore of California by Santa Monica Bay. A man, Tony Cornero, owned a ship called "Rex." Cornero licensed his ship from the state of Nevada, where gambling was legal, and set anchor three miles out from the coast of California.[11] There were water taxis that would carry boat loads of people out to the "Rex" and they could gamble on the ship. A State Attorney General, Earl Warren, did not like having this ship off the coast of his state. Warren set out with the sheriff department and drove boats out to the "Rex" to shut it down.[11] Cornero would not give in for eight days. But when he did the dispute went to the courts. California’s supreme court decided that "three mile line" that marked international waters was not actually only three miles out from the nearest shore. The "Rex" was shut down permanently.[11]

One Reason why Climate Science is to Freaking Tough

Climate Science is a still evolving science, unfortunately. That doesn't mean it is wrong, but it does mean we don't fully understand the effects that both cause climate change and are braking climate change. This HAD the terrible effect of bad estimates meant people believed in the science less. It now HAS the effect that new interactions surprise and worry us, every few months.

I remember at UCLA people were trying to computer plot every input to make forecasts. Back when computing power was (comparably) tiny. Scientist then were confronted by too many variables and computers that would choke on the numbers - remember that computers were so much smaller back then. The cutting edge technology was a 5 1/4 floppy disk containing 360 KB of data. Now we give away flash drives of 500MB which hold about 1,400,000 times more data.

So we ran out of computing power. 

Here's the thing, there are still too many unknowns, too many knows and we still cannot map all the data. There is just too much and we don't understand all the effects and interdependencies. For example, the slowing Antarctic Ocean Current, the strongest ocean current in the world is slowing down. Today the NY Times has a great graphic and story about how all this works.

We have recently (like last 10 years or so) have found that current is slowing. It seemed - maybe okay - maybe even good. That is because the current pulled very very cold water from the depths, and in the process warmed it up before releasing it. If it is now slower, then less cold water (which contains more CO2) would be pulled up, and at least one input to CO2 output would slow. 

Wrong. It turns out that slowing the current doesn't change the push. So the currents that push water to the Antarctic don't stop, and this "ancient" water that has been stuck holding extra CO2 as other water drives over it, now is forced to the surface outside the Antarctic current. So the current is warming up and slowing and, in that process, is releasing MORE CO2.

The more we learn, the more fucked we seem. Part of that is true, and part of that is that any good news we didn't expect is vastly outweighed by the bad side effects or other bad news

We didn't know back then (1981) that melting permafrost would release tons of methane into the air - a great cause right now of a greenhouse gas that is 80 times more powerful that CO2 in the short run (up to 20 years).

Too many inputs and too many unknown reactions is why climate change forecasting is a loser's bet. And, so far, nearly all of the unexpected changes are not good. 

For example, energy was thought to raise temperatures (hence the original "Global Warming" name) and temperatures primarily. Now we find that same energy not only heats air, but causes greater storms (energy in a different way), spiraling ocean temperatures ( ~ dead coral reefs) and massive arctic cold spells as the energy in the Arctic spins storms moving the jet stream far south.

Monday, December 13, 2021

A (as in one) Reason we have a problem confronting climate change

I think most everyone now believes Climate Change is real. The unprecedented Kentucky tornados, floods in Europe, wildfires in Australia, Turkey and the Western US , plus others issues to numerous to count have lead almost everyone (who isn't a corporate shill) to understand climate change is real. We may not agree on the cause (although 99.5% of Scientist do - spoiler alert, it's humans) but we can agree the Climate is changing and is going to get worse.

So, why can't we act on it?

My favorite thinker / writer, Yuval Noah Harari, has some thoughts on this I read last week. He believes that, through the evolution of humans, which has worked wonderfully in our societal growth - but crappy now, we have certain mindsets about dangers and threats. 

One of the realities of us humans, is that we struggle to comprehend a problem that doesn't have a villian. We evolved to understand a predator - like a lion. We evolved to understand a villain - like Hitler or the playground bully. We were even able to rationally grow this up to the society level predators - like Communists or Slave holders.

But, there is no villian in Climate Change. Climate Change occurred due to a growth of industrialization and pulling more and more people out of poverty. Climate Change occurred as a result of great intentions and unexpected consequences. Shell Oil didn't start out to poison the earth. Our parents, grandparents and us did not set out to make smog, or stuff landfills or create toxins.

To mentally resolve this, we tend to set people against each other. For some "progressive thinkers" it lets them think they are better than others that don't recycle, or eat beef, or bike to work. For some "conservative thinkers" it means there is no problem without a villian. So James Inhofe throws snowballs on the floor of the Senate and thinks anyone who believes in Climate Change is an idiot.

Think about it. IF humans need a villian, AND we don't agree with you on Climate Change Resolutions, then you must think of us as villians. And now we don't like you and seriously won't help.

If you can't see this in your own life, look at climate conferences. The participants and the press divide people and countries into good guys and bad guys. And, if you're going to call them bad anyone, they will not work with you.

It makes a formidable roadblock to resolution.

Sunday, December 12, 2021

I know I should be anti-Walmart, but...

Look, I know I should hate Walmart. And I DO hate the way they have decimated downtowns in small cities. The abuse of labor both in the manufacturing sectors and retail sectors. I get it.. But....

When I buy online from most stores aimed at gay man, I am an XL.
When I buy from Japanese retailers, I am a XXL.
When I buy from Chinese online retailers, I am a 5XL.

But Walmart, just a LARGE, baby!

Saturday, December 11, 2021

Well, now that's a new though

The New York Times published a story generally saying that we are reacting to the Omicron Covid variant in an atypical way. That is, with the first few Covid, Covid- B, than Delta, we reacted as expected, fread out. But with Omicron, we are not freaking out much at all. 

And then say it is perfectly in line with assumptions that they make. Here is a snippet of the article (and it is the crux of it as well, so no need to read the whole thing.

The seemingly constant flow of emergency alerts has dulled many people’s fear response to this pandemic, leading them to let down their guard, relax their restrictions or masking habits, or even refuse potentially lifesaving vaccines. Why? We’ve basically all been through one of the best available therapies for extinguishing extreme fear.

If you have a fear of spiders, the mere sight of a bug with eight legs activates your amygdala — a vital part of your brain’s threat detection system. The amygdala acts as a safety siren that immediately drowns out all the other noise in your head and propels you to take rapid protective action: fight, flight or freeze.

When that response is overactive — especially if you have a phobia — psychologists often recommend exposure therapy. The goal is to make you so familiar with the source of your fear that it no longer seems like a threat. Your amygdala takes a nap and your prefrontal cortex takes over, allowing you to think rationally about whether that daddy longlegs in the bathtub is really a danger.

Therapists generally use one of two approaches to exposure therapy: systematic desensitization and flooding. Systematic desensitization involves introducing the threat in small doses and gradually increasing it over time. You might start off looking at pictures of spiders, and then encounter a live spider in a sealed cage across the room. You learn to manage your fear in less threatening situations before you get up close and personal with the creepy creature.

Flooding, on the other hand, involves putting you right in the middle of your nightmare. A therapist might drop a spider onto your lap. Yes, you’ll probably panic, but the hope is that after surviving the experience unscathed you’ll quickly realize that your terror was misplaced, and you’ll be less afraid of spiders after that.

Lesson Learned: Watch Out for Singaporean Otters

Out of the case files: Don't screw with wild animals, a story from Singapore.

Apparently there are Otters in a botanical park in Singapore. They are (were) very well behaved and not fenced in,  and Singaporeans love the free ranging Otters. The otter family is actually named Zouk after a nearby nightclub. There are 9 adults and 6 juniors.

During the pandemic they got a little more free range, swimming at an empty condo pool and frolicing in a child's park. But they attack this guy last week.

Apparently as the gentleman was walking in their direction, he was passed by a male jogger. They now think the jogger might have stepped on one of the juveniles. So the otters freaked out, but coming out of the bushes, mixed up the two men.

Apparently they attack the hell out of this guy and 15 otters might have actually killed him, but someone came running up yelling and driving them away.

Moral of the story: don['t screw with Singapore Otters.

Friday, December 10, 2021

The Supreme Court Befuddles Texas Watchers

The Supreme Court kind of ruled on the Texas law. And totally did not rule on abortion part at all. You can tell it was going to be an unpopular ruling since they dropped it on a Friday night to get lost in the news cycle.

Here is want the Supreme Court did on the two main questions:

1. Question of Who to Sue in Texas: because the law allows Bounty Hunters to make money, but not be sued about the law. People can now bring suits - if this happens - against County Clerks and Courts, i.e. they now have someone to sue.

2. Can Texas outlaw all abortions after 6 weeks? No comment.

2a. No comment, WTF? Can the Court put the law on hold until you do comment? No.

Thursday, December 9, 2021

The sad decline of Yugoslavia's Resorts

Yugoslavia is a now only a memory, but the memory of it goes on. In many ways, Yugoslavia was a more liberal China, back before China became scary as hell right now.

It was also a playground for the rich and famous, like Richard Burton & Elizabeth Taylor who partied on the beaches at the coolest hotel.

That specific resort, the Haludoval was gorgeous. The end of Yugoslavia meant the end of these hotels, mainly because they were in war zones. The one below hung on until 2002 before closing. It is interesting to see hotels built in a brutalist architectural style. You don't think of that with Brutalism.

At it's peak

Indoors now

Outdoors now

And then there is this hotel below. It was perched on a hill in Bosnia overlooking the mountains and valleys below. I actually took pictures of this (which I cannot find, duh). But I remember it because it was so unique. Turns out is was both a hotel and a monument building.

It is such bad shape because during the Bosnian War, the Serbs used it for a headquarters (it had a commanding view).


While some rural-dependent brands dump LGBT and CEI - there is Campbells Spoon

 I totally get how John Deere and Tractor Supply felt the need to publicly repudiate their DEI and LGBT support positions; they are, after a...