Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Odd looking dog

 As I wanted Junie yesterday I saw this dog. He is a French Bulldog, Pitt Bull mix.

I think it is a horrible idea. Two very inbred breeds. The pup seems actually seems nice. But imagine if you got the hyperactive / crazy French Bulldog genes, with the crazy / kill Pitt genes.

And Eddie -

 I made him point his name out on the wall.

US Open: A Couple of Days

I have been at the US Open the last two days. I love the first few days. I can see my favorites (before they stop advancing - which is a great way to say before the lose). And, to be honest, yesterday my 3 favorites were all playing. Rafa played too, but he is everyone's favorite.

So, to the tape.. (all pictures mine - except bottom of college of Holgar, and day 1 players.

Borna Čorić. He is on a great comeback trail. He is a handsome young Croatian who was out for nearly two years with a shoulder injury. He has come back better than ever.

Mackenzie Macdonald (Mackie). He is a ex-UCLA tennis guy. I didn't get a great picture and he lost, so  I don't get a second chance for pics. He is half-Japanese and half Scottish and I think he is the cutest player on the tour. But, he isn't the tallest or the best :-(. I probably like him because he is only 5' 10" and has to work harder than most.

This is Holgar Rune, a young guy from Denmark. He was in the finals at Roland Garros
 (the French Open), and I really wanted to see him. And definitely not because he is cute as hell, or he has great calves (like Mackenzie and Borna, I do not have a type).

I didn't get many pictures from day 1. But this is cool, and Ed sat right behind both Bill and Dr. Ruth. He and Bill spoke for a while, but Ed is too cool to ask for a selfie.

Finally - Some others I saw but my pictures did not come out

From left: Day 1: Maxime Cressy - another ex-UCLA guy that lost first round. Day 1:Upper is Caper Rudd, he is from Norway and won the French Open (over Holgar Rune above).  Day 2: Lower is Sebastian Korda, an American that won.

On last thing.. If you think Sebastian Korda has an "familiar" look, you may (if you are old enough) remember his dad. His father was Czechoslovakian Australian Slam winner Peter Korda. Sebie is his son.

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

The New Yorker Satire Headline


Frodo Baggins

 I am at the US Open much of the week. Yesterday my dyslexia AND imagination got. Together to throw off many game.

The first match I watched was Sebastian  Korda against an Italian. Looking across the court, I see his name on the screen, F.Baggins. And  I think, that is sad, The Lord Of The Rings must be unknown in Italy. And I look at him. He does NOT look like Frodo.

And, I recheck the  scoreboard and it says F. Bagnis.

He is not Frodo.

Saturday, August 27, 2022

I have heard way too much about Trump's Junk

Oy. So much about Trump's little trumpet.

First it was Graydon Carter, editor of Vanity Fair at the time, described Trump as a “short-fingered vulgarian.” Which Graydon did to drive Trump crazy, and it did.

During the 2016 election, Mark Rubio commented on the small size of his hands - and how they might relate to penis size.

"He is taller than me, he's like 6' 2", which is why I don't understand why his hands are the size of someone who is 5' 2"," Rubio joked. "Have you seen his hands? And you know what they say about men with small hands -- "

The crowd erupted.

" -- You can't trust them," Rubio said.

In the next debate, Trump responded.

"Look at those hands," Trump said on the debate stage, holding up his hands to the audience. "Are they small hands? And he referred to my hands -- if they are small, something else must be small."

"I guarantee you there is no problem," Trump affirmed. "I guarantee you."

And so that was the first and second time I had to hear about his penis size. But not for long.

Stormy Daniels, Porn Star and one of Trump's affairs that he paid off to keep quiet, she spoke up about the member the third time I heard about it. She explained, well. Let's here what she had to say in her memoir...

She describes Trump’s penis as “smaller than average” but “not freakishly small”.

He knows he has an unusual penis,” Daniels writes. “It has a huge mushroom head. Like a toadstool

I lay there, annoyed that I was getting fucked by a guy with Yeti pubes and a dick like the mushroom character in Mario Kart ...

It may have been the least impressive sex I’d ever had, but clearly, he didn’t share that opinion.

And now Donald Trump Junior brings it up Trump's size again in a different setting:

I am not sure a son bragging about how long is dad's dick is, that might not be the best mental image one wants to share.


Friday, August 26, 2022

Washington Post Cartoon



 I want to talk about parallels in history. One of the first major works on this topic was "The Origins of Totalitarianism" written in 1951 by Hannah Arendt. It is receiving new interest since Trump left office. Because his playbook and response from his followers does read like the beginning of this book.

I want to start by saying that I don't think we are headed to a Nazi like regime. Ms. Arendt does indeed focus on the Jewish holocaust. But her work focus on HOW totalitarian systems came to power. And on this level,the parallels to the current situation are a bit uncanny.

One thing that struck me and hit home was how "cult" * followers can so easily hate other people. What she wrote about colonialism struck me because the reasoning behind it helps to explain slavery and the current climate towards minorities and the "elites" by certain (loud) segments of the US population.

(* in this case I mean "cult" as a group of people who accept the same truths. Not as in a "religious cult".)

The point introduces this in the context of colonialism. Ms. Arendt shows that to successfully implement colonialism was to extract wealth from colonies and transfer that wealth to the colonial conquerers. To do this, the European powers "invented" mass racial segregation to jsutify exzploiting others.

Before this period, racial animus was not common. Crusades and wars were do to religious reasons or straight up plundering. Previously, once a conflict ended the local populace was integrated into the country - most often by expanding national borders. But with colonialism, the local population was NOT brought into the country as citizens. 

In order to justify exploitation, the colonizers had to paint them at the "other" and less than human. Once you do that, you can treat them as sub-human and ignore their needs. This is how we "justified" slavery, by using propaganda that said Africans were not "real people".

And, according to the book, once a population buys into the fact that some people are sub-human, then that population of "real people" are almost impossible to reach in order change their minds. If their minds change, then people have to look inwards to see how awful they were to others.  To the author, this explains how the Jews in Europe were seen as other. And how the Nazi's exploited this to paint them as sub-human.

Not all instances of this lead to slavery or extermination. First the British and then the Americans regarded the Irish or Chinese are not equal to their own citizens. 

So now we come to MAGA supporters. Trump and his ilk have labelled groups of people as immoral and evil; and that they are trying to take over the country. They see Blacks as "thugs" and "freeloaders", Mexicans as "rapists", scientists as "ungodly", elites as "out of touch" transexuals as "deviants" and LGBT as "groomers". They have labelled broad swathes of Americans as "not morally equal" to themselves and other white church going Americans. 

Their justification allows them to transform the idea minority rule into a simple belief that only "Real Americans" deserve full rights, including the right to vote and hold office. Look at the attacks on voters of color. Look at the comment from Trump that "the squad" should go back to where they came from. Look at the acceptance of many politicians and journalists when Americans were removing immigrant children from their parents at the border.

It did not have to happen this way. Canada, similar to Americans in most ways, hold that immigrants are also people. They have generally accepted that superficial looks do not translate in defining people as sub-human. 

The worse problem is trying to change minds. If MAGA people admit that non-Republicans and Rinos have equally important viewpoints and are equal morally, then their belief system falls. It is more acceptable to belief idiotic conspiracy theories than accept you not only made a mistake, but mistreated others because of it.

For me, electing these people again will only amplify their belief and convictions they are the only (as Sarah Palin said a decade ago) "real Americans:".

Thursday, August 25, 2022

Fan Week w/Rafa, Jimmy Connors, Coco Grauff and Iga Swiatek raised $1.2 million for Ukrainian Charities

 Yesterday, during free fan week, the USTA held a party / fund-raiser for Ukrainian charities. It was not only great for Ukraine - $1.2 Million was raised, but also great for fans.

For fans that might not ever to afford tickets when Rafael Nadal, Coco Grauff or women's #1 Iga Swaitek plays, they could see these stars and more during a fund raising event Play for Peace. It was in the newest venue, Louise Armstrong court.

It started with a child who sang the Ukrainian National Anthem beautifully. It is a long long Anthem, but still, well done.

The first "match" was between Rafa Nadal and Iga Swiatek versus Coco Grauff and Jimmy Connors. It was all in good fun and a great time. And rarely do you see Rafa laughing during a game.

Our loudest election denier is a television carnival barker

I know that my British friends think they know how crazy we are, but they don't know the full scope of sheer nut-jobery. Let me introduce you to Mike Lindell. If you look up Mikey on the interwebs, you get this mini-description.

Michael James Lindell, also known as the My Pillow Guy, is an American businessman, political activist, and conspiracy theorist. He is the founder and CEO of My Pillow, Inc., a pillow, bedding, and slipper manufacturing company. Lindell is a prominent supporter of, and advisor to, former U.S. President Donald Trump.

Read that last sentence. The My Pillow guy is and advisor to exPresident Trump. What are Mike's qualifications to advise the ex-most powerful man in the country? 

Mike sells pillows via commercials on Fox News. Since he is a prominent advertiser and donator to Donald Trump, he was able to convince Fox News to promote his loony-tune ideas on how Trump really did win the election. He hasn't shut up since.

Because he is the minorest of celebrities, but a celebrity none the less, he was promoted on Fox News as an expert. Trump had very few celebrities on his side at the end. And Mike is still hawking theories about how Trump was robbed.

He has had 3 or 4 specific times he has held a rally, telethon or news conferenced where he has pledged to revel the truth about the election. This first couple of times people showed up, but no new news was released. So the press and people just tuned him out.

And so he has to get louder and more desperate to get news.

This might embarrass a normal person, but Mike knows he is persecuted. And Trump still takes his phone calls. He has been promised a position in the next administration* and so is now going even louder and harder on Trump approved bullshit. 

And yes, his pillow commercials are still one. Sometimes during his appearances on Fox News.

*I totally made the position thing up, but it sounds right. It seems truthy.

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Ed is very proud of the US Open's Fan Week

 The US Open is in the "Qualifying" stage right now. They have opened the grounds for free for people to watch these matches. These are the players that do not get an invite to the the US Open. They are playing for 8 open spots on the male or female draw of play.

What the team is proud of is that they have begun not only to allow this, but have put in place activities for kids and let people in to the Arthur Ashe stadium (the big one) that many people cannot afford. And, since all players have to practice, even the big names, the big name players are around.

Many of these big names will practice on the main court, and people can watch for free. This is in addition to everything else going on. It is a chance for many to see their heroes for free.

Ed can be proud because, as the money guy, he had to estimate the trade off of money to present Fan Week, versus the payback. And he believes community outreach is critical, so they invest that money.

And I am proud of him.

One should never laugh at others... but come on!

 This was actually built by the city!  It opened and closed within hours on the first day.

It may take a second to load, but you gotta watch it.

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Sometimes you wonder... Are they stupid or trolling?

 I can't believe they are this stupid. But then again, maybe they aren't.. maybe they are just trying to bug us.


I'm going to vote for stupid.

Okay, now I get the "T"

 I have been pretty open that I have not been sure why the LGBT group included Trans (the T). It's not that I disapprove, it is that I do not understand at all. As many people don't. 

Let's face it, may Americans know a gay man or lesbian, but very few of us know someone who is trans. It is unusual to us and confusing. Not the mechanics, but if you have always been comfortable in your gender (like me) - it is hard to understand others.

BUT... the campaign of hate and deviousness has convinced me that the T is a very important part of LGBT (and its other letters like  LGBTQIA). Not as a group identifier, but as people. There are actual people, children and adults, who know they are the wrong gender.

And there are people who hate them for it. I do understand that. And I will try to stand up for these Trans Americans.

See, this is where being lactose intolerant is helpful. (joke)

Monday, August 22, 2022

Borna Ćorič won the Cincinnati Open

 Excuse me will I celebrate AND gay out bit.

Borna Ćorič won the Western and Southern Cincinnati Open this week-end. I was a huge fan of Borna until he got hurt and kind of left the tour about a year and a half ago. Even before that he was flailing a little.

But with shoulder surgery, new racket stringing and training, he is back better than ever.

He won the tournament by beating some great players - including Rafa. I'm glad he is back.

Winning at Cincinnati above. Looking great after rehab.

One last thing (this is the gay out part of the evening) - he has the cutest ass butt in tennis.

Saturday, August 20, 2022

We're Going Way Back....

 Way back... I think was a Wedding Anniversary. I am not sure if it was my Grandparents on my mom's side (on the right) or my Great Grandparents (not pictured).

I am the charming child in the middle. Above me is my Uncle Timo. I have always looked very much like him. The couple to the left is my mother and father.

Blast from the Past

 Who remembers this? And why?

Friday, August 19, 2022

Too Big to Comprehend

The NY Times has an amazing interactive article - which mainly means you scroll and every now and again a  movie file plays. The subject of this is "city" a localized Nevada art project / homage to Egyptian and MesoAmerican temples.

It is a wild scene. The "art" covers about a mile in the desert. It is meant to be walked around and experienced. It just finished - a project started when I was in High School in the 70s. When it fully opens, it will only allow 6 or so people in a day. 

Because of the location (bumblefuck Nevada) there is no cell service, no place to stay, not even a paved road for about 30 miles. The team (still to be hired) will bring in around 6 people a day to walk the art, take in the sights and essentially, commune with the desert.

It is wild. It is art. It certainly isn't for everyone.

Stanislao Lepri and the World of the "Wikipedia Hole"

"I'm on a mailing list and..." that could be the start of any number of posts. Somehow, I get on email lists that annoy me and I have to leave. Then every now and then I get on a list and I don't know why. 

Today that message that lead me into a wikipedia hole was titled "New from Independent 20th Century Features".

At first I assumed that 20th Century Fox had, after being acquired by the Disney Entertainment juggernaut, spun off a boutique film house. But now, it has no relationship to 20th Century Fox. I know I lived in LA too long.

But, I  checked and it turns out the mail is promoting an art fair that occurs Sept 8 - 10th in New York. That isn't great for me given the US Open is going then, and I have friends coming to see it.

Anyway, one of the big artists being shown is someone I never heard of, Stanislao Lepri. A contempory-ish Italian surrealist painter. And then you investigate Stanislao because his work is interesting and I think I want to see the show.

Here is where the wikipedia entries take one down a rabbit hole.

First, Stanislao was born to "black nobility" - a group of nobles that did not want the unification of Italy. This caused me to read about the Italy unification, but more about later.

Second, early in his life Stanislao Lepri the Ambassador to Monaco. Then, in 1942 in Monaco he saw a woman at the theater and was entranced, Leonor Fini. Remember this was in 1942, which was during the war and so he was a representative of Mussolini. I have nothing more than that, I just found it interesting.

Anywho, Stanislao leaves his Ambassadorship, Monaco and Italy - Leonor Fini leaves her husband, and together they move to Paris. And Stanislao focuses on his art and painting. He is (as you see) a surrealist.

Leonor Fini is unorthodox to say the least. You should read about her, it is crazy. 

Ten years after she and Stanislao move to Pairs, in 1952 Leonor meets Polish writer Konstanty Jeleński. She was "delighted to discover that he was the illegitimate half-brother of Sforzino Sforza, who had been one of her favorite lovers"

Konstanty joined Leonor and Stanislao in their Paris apartment, their lives and their bed in October 1952. The three remained inseparable until their deaths. Like a thruple (with occasional extras) they lived from 1952 - 1980 together until Stanislao dies. Then Leonor and Konstanty live together until he dies in 1987. She lives another nine years.

Anywho, this show is about Lepri's work. And it is cool.

That is when I realize I have drifted far from Stanislao Lepri's art. But it is cool.

Thursday, August 18, 2022

Investigating Children Because Utah Parents are Sore Loser Fuckfaces


Well, fuckity damn. I just have to copy this information:

After one competitor “outclassed” the rest of the field in a girls’ state-level competition last year, the parents of the competitors who placed second and third lodged a complaint with the Utah High School Activities Association calling into question the winner’s gender.

David Spatafore, the UHSAA’s legislative representative, addressing the Utah Legislature’s Education Interim Committee on Wednesday, said the association — without informing the student or family members about the inquiry — asked the student’s school to investigate.

“The school went back to kindergarten and she’d always been a female,” he said. To protect the student’s identity, Spatafore said he would not reveal the sport, the classification of play nor the school the student attended.

Yes, this is from the same political group that demands "private authority over their bodies" - when it refers to masks, and "their authority over your body" in regards to pregnancy and now demands to see the "medical records of any girl that beats my daughter in sports".

At least she did not have to display her vagina to the referees. That IS the law in this situation in Indiana (I think it's Indiana, it could be Tennessee.) But neither her parents or the child were informed that they investigated to see if she was born female.

Hazzah. No one could have possibly expected demonizing trans kids would lead to this. (That was sarcasm).

By the fucking way. When this law passed, there were (and are) only 4 trans kids in school in the entire state of Utah. And only 1 is living as a female.  And she isn't anywhere near sports.

It's for the children's sake. Bullshit.

Interesting Discussion on Ukraine and the Future

 As one knows, I tend to admire and have a little mind crush on Yuval Noah Harari. I was looking at his web site the other day - he posts upcoming events - and I saw the talk about The Last Forty Years and the Next Forty: Eastern Europe, Europe, the World. The talk / debate/ discussion was streamed and it is now on the website, so I listened.

There were quite a few takeaways, but a couple I wanted to share. However my brain is having a hard time getting ahold of the amorphous discussion and my thoughts are both confusing AND imperative. 

I have started this post 3 times now. It was a fascinating conversation but hard to break apart. So I will start with a small part of the discussion.

Regarding Ukraine - one of the reasons for the discussions - they made the point that our historical myths often guide our current actions. For example, the Nazis were one of the first existential threats to the USSR. They drove right to the heart of the country taking over Ukraine on its way.

Therefore, when trying to pull Ukraine back into the Russian sphere of influence, Putin makes a call back to Nazi's. Not the way Americans think of Nazi's - as a one off group of fanatics that invented the holocaust as a sign of hatred. But they way Russians might think of Nazi's, as a foreign attacking entity aimed at taking Russian soil. This is particularly useful for Putin as it identifies opposition to the war as opposition to the idea of Russia itself.

In a similar manner, America sees itself as the defender of last resort for the "West". (From our point of view) America stepped up to save Europe in 1917 in WWI, in 1942 in WWII ** and in the Cold War. And we are committed to doing it this time, and to support this feeling, Ukraine is making itself as "western" as possible. The VERY conservative country is even legalizing gay rights. Not as the right thing to do, but to fit in with Europe and the West.

This doesn't give us an easy path to resolution in Ukraine, but it does shift the dynamic of how we think about the war. 

And the information gives us a clue about where else historical myths might effect politics. For example, the varying myths we tell ourselves about the Civil War still cause issues between many Whites in the South and Whites in the North. (Black Americans don't disagree about the civil war.)

Anyway, it was thought provoking.

** - If you ever want to rile up a Brit, ask them when WWI and WWII started. For America it was 1917 and 1941. For Europe it was more like 1914 and 1938. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Cultural Sensitivity My Sweet Aunt Fanny

"How to Fight Polio With Cultural Sensitivity" is just an annoying title. You have to wade through some shit to understand that the writer means we ned to be careful to not offend the Orthodox Jewish Community.

Not to be glib about it, but how about we tell them it saves lives of their children and others! Will that work? 

True, that didn't work for Covid. Or measles. But the writer points out that this doesn't mean they should be harassed. Which I understand, physical harassment and religious violence is always wrong. But repeating lies about the vaccines and making communities more venerable sucks too.

It is not wrong to tell people who are behaving selfishly that they are selfish. 

During the early part of the Covid lock down the community in Manhattan had a wedding celebration in the streets with over 2,000 people. They city asked them not to have a public reception. The neighborhood asked the same. The community either didn't believe or  did not care. The superspreader event closed multiple city blocks. AND it did not only effect that community. Hospitals, already burdened by Covid had to treat hundreds more and no doubt lead to many deaths.

In the Measles outbreak of 2019 - this unvaccinated community was hit hard AND contributed to community spread.

There is nothing in the Jewish religious writings that outlaw vaccines*. As a people, Orthodox Jews have been discriminated against, and this leads to a fear of outsiders. But by not vaccinating AND by broadcasting you don't care about the community outside yours AND spreading disease, the Orthodox communities are not helping their cause.

I say this as a gay man who's friend's brother was an Orthodox Jewish Pediatric Doctor who caught Covid from his patients and died in May of 2020.

*Note: This information has been stated by the New York Times, TV and Jewish friends. I believe it is correct, but I am not familiar with the Torah, so I might be wrong.

The Mojave Desert Drive

Hard to believe, but this is a pretty typical view in the north part of the Mojave National Preserve

There was an article somewhere today about the Mojave Desert. Basically the Mojave is middle of three deserts. North of it is the Great Basin Deseret - a larger, cold and dryer desert. South is the Sonoran Desert that is a lot hotter.

The map above includes the blue line that (pretty much) traces the driving route from Palm Springs to Las Vegas, the nice way. I have made that drive with my mom, Ed, Lynn, and Jane among others.

The first landmark on the way is the town of Joshua Tree. This area used to be pretty sparsely settled, mainly with retired military (you can tell from the map there are a lot of military bases in the area). Now it is very much cool, off the grid, and very hip second homes.

The black triangle is where the route to Joshua Tree merges onto the old Route 66. That is the place of Perth / Amboy. One hesitates to call 1 gas stations and a motel (and abandoned Post Office) a city or town or even wide spot in the road.

Then the road goes under Interstate 10 and into the Mojave National Preserve created by Senator Feinstein over 3 decades ago (thank you but retire already).

Wild flowers at Kelso Station

It goes through the back roads of Joshua Trees, wildflowers (for a few weeks every couple of years after desert rains) and the old Kelso Depot. 

Kelso Depot is an old train station on the route to Los Angeles. The tracks are still there and trains run by, but no passengers. After falling into real disrepair by the 90's, it was restored to be the Visitor Center.

I love that and decided to post some pictures.

You cannot make this shit up!

In addition to the Diary of Anne Frank, these are 4 of the other 42 books being banned, and 800 more that are under review:

  1. The Bible
  2. The Bluest Eye (Women's Prize of Fiction): Toni Morrison 
  3. Fun Home: Alison Bechdel (I didn't like the play, but that's no reason to ban the book.)
  4. So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed: Jon Ronson (A book about public shaming now and historical. It was a popular punishment in Colonial America - which might make people upset.)

Still In Love: Italian Futurism

In 2014, Ed and I saw an Italian Futurism show at the Guggenheim. It was one of the shows that stayed with me for a long time. And know I must share with you, again.

Italian Futurism was interested in both the meaning behind the image, and the idea of movement. Whether unconsciously or by design, the dynamics of the future was suggested with bold images, sweeping images, and the promise of speed or speeding into the future.

I love the lines, the colors and the odd visual thrill they provide.

Even a potentially banal subject - a woman walking her dog, gets a dynamic treatment by these painters.

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....