Friday, March 31, 2023

For my birthday Eddie got my favorite flowers

 I love Birds of Paradise. The official flower of Los Angeles.



Daily Stoic 4 of 16: Passage of Time

This meditation is interesting to me. I had to think about it for a while.

6: From Marcus (Aurelius) I learned who Heraclitus was (Marcus quotes him a lot). “No man steps in the same river twice,” is one of the lines he quotes. 

There are different ways to interpret this idea. In my brain, this river is your subjective experience of an event.  In the first interpretation: the difference in time means that the river is never exactly the same. The second interpretation: the act of stepping into the river (or the event) changes the river and the conditions of the experience.

If you've ever read a book, the second or third time,  you may understand it more, or you may find hidden meanings, or the book may now be boring. All of these depend on your viewpoint. The book doesn't change, but your subjective experience of it does.

I like this idea.



Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Maybe - a reason for the Red /Blue divide....

 

I and my friends try to understand why people vote against their interests. We have postulated many theories, none that are complete in helping us understand their motivations. 

But there is a great opinion piece in the New York Times that goes a long way - maybe most of the way in understanding this. I am going to quote much if it, but if you want the full story here it is (but it's NYTimes so might be behind a paywall).

This is based on "tight" states versus "loose" states. I quote...

In 2014, Michele J. Gelfand, a professor of psychology at the Stanford Graduate School of Business formerly at the University of Maryland, and Jesse R. Harrington, then a PhD. candidate, conducted a study designed to rank the 50 states on a scale of “tightness” and “looseness.”

Appropriately titled “Tightness-Looseness Across the 50 United States,” the study calculated a catalog of measures for each state, including the incidence of natural disasters, disease prevalence, residents’ levels of openness and conscientiousness, drug and alcohol use, homelessness and incarceration rates.

Gelfand and Harrington predicted “that ‘tight’ states would exhibit a higher incidence of natural disasters, greater environmental vulnerability, fewer natural resources, greater incidence of disease and higher mortality rates, higher population density, and greater degrees of external threat.”

In looking I think we assume California, with it's fires and occasional earthquakes, would rank high on tight states. But our lower mortality rates, and openness puts us squarely in the "loose" states

The South dominated the tight states: Mississippi, Alabama Arkansas, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Louisiana, Kentucky, South Carolina and North Carolina. With two exceptions — Nevada and Hawaii — states in New England and on the West Coast were the loosest: California, Oregon, Washington, Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire and Vermont.

In both 2016 and 2020, Trump carried all 10 of the top “tight” states; Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden carried all 10 of the top “loose” states.

Gelfand continued to pursue this line of research, publishing “Rule Makers, Rule Breakers: How Tight and Loose Cultures Wire the World” in 2018, in which she described the results of a 2016 pre-election survey she and two colleagues had commissioned:

The results were telling: People who felt the country was facing greater threats desired greater tightness. This desire, in turn, correctly predicted their support for Trump. In fact, desired tightness predicted support for Trump far better than other measures. For example, a desire for tightness predicted a vote for Trump with 44 times more accuracy than other popular measures of authoritarianism.

The 2016 election, Gelfand continued, “turned largely on primal cultural reflexes — ones that had been conditioned not only by cultural forces, but by a candidate who was able to exploit them.”

In a 2019 interview, Gelfand said that

Some groups have much stronger norms than others; they’re tight. Others have much weaker norms; they’re loose. Of course, all cultures have areas in which they are tight and loose — but cultures vary in the degree to which they emphasize norms and compliance with them.

Cultural differences, Gelfand continued, “have a certain logic — a rationale that makes good sense,” noting that “cultures that have threats need rules to coordinate to survive (think about how incredibly coordinated Japan is in response to natural disasters). But cultures that don’t have a lot of threat can afford to be more permissive and loose.”

The tight-loose concept, Gelfand argued,

is an important framework to understand the rise of President Donald Trump and other leaders in Poland, Hungary, Italy, and France, among others. The gist is this: when people perceive threat — whether real or imagined, they want strong rules and autocratic leaders to help them survive. My research has found that within minutes of exposing study participants to false information about terrorist incidents, overpopulation, pathogen outbreaks and natural disasters, their minds tightened. They wanted stronger rules and punishments.

There are significantly different costs and benefits to tight and loose communities. In her book, Gelfand writes that tightness encourages conscientiousness, social order and self-control on the plus side, along with close-mindedness, conventional thinking and cultural inertia on the minus side. Looseness, Gelfand posits, fosters tolerance, creativity and adaptability, along with such liabilities as social disorder, a lack of coordination and impulsive behavior.

There is more, but that is the key finding. And it makes sense to me. I like a good theory that helps my brain....

My Birthday...

 It's my birthday. It isn't a big deal to me, which is growth considering I have been remarkably resistant to ignoring my birthday. It all stems from living with my father for a decade and him forgetting or pretending to forget my birthday so he can spend the money on something else. Money often given to him by my grandparents to go in on a bigger present.

And, sure it has taken 45 years or so to get past it. But I have. My "stoic" meditations have helped. I mean it happened, it hurt my feelings, but it's been over for a long time. There is no use bothering myself (and everyone around me) now. So yay me.


This is me at the Salton Sea, back before it died. I was with my grandparents and Martha. I begged my grandfather to take me out fishing. Apparently I lasted about 4 minutes before begging him to take me back to shore. I was not particular patient even then.

PS - If you look at my pants, they are preemptively patched in the knees from the inside. I used to stop pretty much everywhere from a run to dropping on my knees and sliding to a stop. And this was before soccer players appropriated it.

Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Daily Stoic: 3 of 16

 I have changed the order of #3 and #4, because I think the one below sets the stage for the rest of the meditations.

4: In the introduction of the Gregory Hays translation (my favorite translation) I was first introduced to the distillation of Stoicism into three distinct disciplines (perception, action, will).  When I get asked to explain the three disciplines, this is usually my short answer:  what we must.


Monday, March 27, 2023

Daily Stoic 2 of 16 of the key learnings

2: One of my favorite lines: “To accept without arrogance, to let it go with indifference.” Another translation of the same: “Receive without pride, let go without attachment.” Meaning: You are who you are, success or failure, admired or ignored.

I think of this in the following manner. Suppose someone tells you that they like the way your feet angle when you walk. And you think: Okay, that is odd. How do I respond? Should I respond. Then you say "Thanks". 

Now suppose you've been working out and exercising. And someone compliments you. And you say, Thanks!".

The idea here is that you are the same either way. You have been working out for some reason, and you're pleased that someone notices. But your travel towards your goal is what counts.

So weather someone compliments you, or complains about you, or questions you commitment. - the result is the same. You judge yourself by your own standards. And we should set our standards are what is really important.

You know, like looking good in the summer at the beach. 


A French man, comfortable in his skin



My Latest post on the Geography and Economics Substack

 


Friday, March 24, 2023

Daily Stoic Reprise 1 of 16

 Looking at the web site the Daily Stoic today (still can't find my book), I came upon this, the top 16 take aways from reading the meditations of Marcus Arelious

1: In my first read of , I highlighted the line “It can ruin your life only if it ruins your character.” But COVID created a different way for me to see and understand what Marcus was writing about. When he talks about how there’s two kinds of plagues: the plague that can take your life and the plague that can destroy your character — he was talking about the things that we’re seeing in the world, that we saw on a daily basis over the last two years.

I like these 16 principals and the definition and examples given. I like how sees that there is a plague of conscious that can tear at your soul, if you let it.



Thursday, March 23, 2023

This is an asinine change

 I think Unions were the backbone of our country. They worked for safety and equitable pay.

And then there are New York Unions. They suck. For me, one of the most annoying is the Sanitation Workers who deal with trash pick up. Because of the Union, trash bags line the street every other or every 3rd night. The trucks rumble through and pick up the trash, unless they decide the bag is too heavy.

This system leads to rats on the street, massive smells on the street and dogs peeing on the trash bags, which must be terrible for the workers.

Now I think we all know the solution. Bins. Either single bins for households or large bins for condos and such. Bins that, everywhere else I have lived, are accessed automatically by trucks. This hasn't occurred in New York.

But now! Well they have finally approved a test case to use bins. Images below. The only problem becomes obvious when you look at the images. There is still no way to access the bins except for manually opening and closing them with a lock. So the city is "progressing" in a way that is still lame as hell.

From the resident's side

From the city side. Are those pallets to empty them automatically?
No. Those are hand locked bins that must be emptied by Sanitation workers every time.

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

It is NOT a "Hush-Money" probe

 Framing the crime that our ex-President committed and is now being investigated for is NOT A HUSH MONEY PROBE! Despite what talking points people, media and Republicans are spreading, it is not about hush-money.


Hush money is simple crime and quite possibly a misdemeanor. No, this is for violations of Campaign Finance violations in 2016. Just before the election $130,000 was paid to Stormy Daniels to keep quiet about the sex they had. Now, alone that would not be a big deal.

BUT, Trump had his lawyer pay her and then he paid the lawyer with his funds. Unreported, this is an illegal campaign donation. It is difficult to say is isn't a big deal, when Trump's lawyer was sentenced to years in jail for this actual crime. And, if you don't remember, his co-conspirator was Donald Trump.

It is a law designed to keep our country safe from illegal donations and foreign interference, both of which can be used to blackmail the government. So, no - it was not hush money. And, yes - it is a big deal.

World Happiness Chart - Actually Good News

 I often here, and share, information about how the United States is not even in the top 10 of the happiest countries in the world. Well despite this being true, it turns out that United States is a pretty happy country. This chart doesn't only show "the most happy" in a list, but in an image (select to increase size).

Turns out the United States may not be as happy as other places, but it is only by a small amount. This is a good infographic.


Select the graphic for a big original sie.

Monday, March 20, 2023

My post on the Volunteer Army is up on The Intersection of Geography and Economics

 LINK



Now Hating Queers: Catholics, Jews and the Proud Boys

Well, well, well. Isn't this becoming a theme? 

Proud Boys (who call themselves Christians), Catholics and the Orthodox Jews have all decided we must not live our lives. At least pubically.








Okay - should this be funny? No. Is it funny? Yes

 ".... hours starting at buddy..." (Answer below)


I wish there was some way to stop it. No wait! Move the fucking bird. Or at least close the drapes. Your giving buddy a heart attack!

Daily Stoic: Murder in Alabama

 I have understood enough I think I have learned enough from studying this that I shall stop posting "Daily Stoic" updates. But I will occasionally posted how it helps or hinders me.

I will start with the Alabama Basketball Team, because it infuriates me. Their star, Brandon Miller, is a killer basketball player. In more way than one.

(This is the Basketball's Team story - I am not making this up.) On January 15th, Brandon Miller had a gun in his car. How it got there is in dispute. But Miller's friend - Darrius Miles who owned the gun - called Brandon Miller and had him bring Mile's gun to a club. Miller did and gave Miles the gun. Miles was in the car with another player, Buzz Davis and a woman Jonea Harris. Miles gave the gun to Buzz Davis. In an argument Jonea Harris, mother of a 5 year old, was shot and killed by Davis.

Alabama police said there is nothing they can do to Brandon Miller - star of the Alabama Basketball team. Nothing to charge him with. To which one must say bullshit. In driving over and providing the gun, Brandon would be guilty (or at least charged) with accomplice to some degree of Homicide. In California and many other states, he would be charged with Homicide as he directly provided the means.

Brandon and his "boys will be boys" Coach
Evil personified

But if you are a star of Alabama's #1 Basketball Team, jack shit happens to you. Brandon Miller is playing in the NCAA Tournament now with nary a peep from the coach and team . No wait, the coach said "You can't control college kids. Brandon was in the wrong place at the wrong time." But he was in the wrong place with the murder weapon. And he was at the wrong place because he drove to the wrong place with the Murder weapon.

This infuriates me. Clearly because he is a star player for Alabama he is getting away with a major crime. The person in me is abjectly ruined by the fact that nothing has happened. But the practicing Stoic in me says, that ... the murder has happened. Grieving and gnashing will not help. In fact it is Alabama where the White Government is taking over the  courts in the only  major Black majority city of Jackson. The White State government is firing the city's DA's because they don't think Black People can be in charge of courts.

Wha can I do? Short term, nothing. All I can do is state the fuck away. To treat Alabama the same way I would treat Afghanistan. As a theocracy that takes the rights away from women, condemns trans people to zero treatment mentally or physically, and has passed laws to eliminate discussion of gays.

But I can't effect their politics or discrimination. And I will not let their evil overwhelm me.

Sometimes being a Stoic is shit. 

Friday, March 17, 2023

What is a Raccoon Dog

 In reading about possible virus vectors for Covid, they have found that Raccoon Dogs in Wuhan have both human DNA and the Covid Virus.

Interesting, except I have never heard of a "Raccon Dog".


Turns out they are pretty common in parts of Asia - including China. The are canids, kind of a carnivorous member of the dog-ish family like hyenas and foxes.  Who knew? 

And so it continues

 Doesn't really need more explanation, but if you want to read, here it is (LINK).

Hummmm

Science Baby!

 Climate change has disrupted sea life and the ecosystem that depends on predators for balance. The warming of the west coast ocean which is VERY cold with Alaskan waters moving south by sea currents. This has contributed to a wasting disease which has decimated the 24 legged starfish. 

These starfish (officially "sea stars" now) kept the sea urchin population in balance. Without these predators sea urchins are strangling kelp forests up and down the west coast. If you don't know (and why should you) kelp forests in cold water fulfill a similar ecological niché as coral reefs in very warm ocean waters.

So the wide spread destruction is pretty horrible as sea urchins have explode in population by 10,000% in some areas.


Enter University of Washington (LINK). They have collected and bred disease resistant 24 legged sea stars that feast on urchins and that are immune. In breeding these naturally immune sea stars, scientists are testing if they are also disease resistant. Sea stars can only eat 1 urchin a day, but a few will release millions of larvae. Many perish, but more will live as there are sea urchins to feast on.

So, here's hoping their efforts are successful.

Daily Stoic: Meaning in Politics

 So I have misplaced my Daily Stoic book today. So let me propose a meditation I have to do all the time, and the consequences. 

Transgenderism. How do you deal with what you don't understand?

Let us follow my Stoic principals here.

  1. Some people are born thinking they are the wrong sex.
  2. They act on that information by either ignoring it or "transitioning" to a different gender.
  3. For me, this act is complete. It does not good for me to wish these people to do something different. I accept that some people are born different. Some act upon it and some reject it. But in either case, the act of transitioning does not effect my personal beliefs and value system.
  4. My values include the right to life your reality when it doesn't harm someone else or the collective "we". Therefore I support their rights to self-autonomy and their decisions.
  5. My values also include that people should have respect towards others. 
    1. In  my definition of value of point 5: I do not understand, nor can I support, bullying of people. In particular I find legislative bullying terrible and an evil.
  6. My course of action then is to fight these laws when possible and where it makes the most difference.
    1. That also means doing the small things I can. Using correct language and supporting their new name and gender.
    2. It does NOT mean (for me again) that I support the idea of using terms like "people that can give birth to children" instead of women. As I understand it, people who have transitioned or are in the process of it should just be called "women", as they have decided. The very few transitioned men that decide to give birth can correct me. And again, I will properly show these men respect. But I don't feel that this sub-set of transitioned men is large enough to change our world view.
  7. Note: I haven't figured out HOW to help yet in a wider sense, but I am working on it. At the very least I support the transgender as part of our community. Both LGBT people in specific and society as a whole.

Doing this gets me past the, "Do I understand it?" phase? No. But it allows me to treat individuals with respect, which is what they desire.

Support doesn't mean surgery for minors (for me)
But it does mean respecting and honoring their reality...
And, as a society, showing respect and understanding.

Thursday, March 16, 2023

I saw Parker Posey in The Seagull / Woodstock. (UPDATED)

 She was great! The show was even better. And I hate Chekov.

The Seagull / Woodstock Soars at Signature Theater

The Seagull / Woodstock is brought to life with an outstanding cast and a great new adaptation by Thomas Bradshaw at the Signature Theater. The show is well paced, relatable, and often hilarious. If none of this sounds like The Seagull you know from Chekhov, you would be correct. I do not like being a critic that refers to previous iterations of a play, but it is hard not to do here. This adaptation is that entertaining. Set in New York and populated with English names, the characters of The Seagull / Woodstock are distinct and the show much easier to follow. But Chekov’s rumination on love comes through stronger than ever. Self-love, romantic love, obsessive and jealous love, they all flow as easily as water on stage.

The Seagull / Woodstock is set in Woodstock New York - the town, not the concert. Here the Broadway Diva Irene rules the social set by force of an oversized personality. Parker Posey plays Irene with a sharp edge and a patter that reminds you of Parker Posey the actress. But Irene’s persona, dreams, and fears quickly drive the real Parker Posey out of the viewers mind. Irene is the local star who everyone wants to be friends with, in the group of rich theater refuges from the City. Irene’s boyfriend William (an outstanding Ato Essandoh) is a published writer. His easy-going charm and sex appeal hangs around him like an aura.

Ato Essandoh, Parker Posey, Daniel Oreskes and David Cale

We meet the group as they gather for Irene’s son Kevin's (Nat Wolff) play featuring his girlfriend Nina (Aleyse Shannon). Done on a makeshift stage in the woods, Kevin's friends as well as his mother and her boyfriend attend. The play within the play is an experimental piece with Nina interacting with the audience. It is not a good play and has progressed to the terrible when Irene loudly puts an end to it. But that does not put an end to Nina's fascination with author William.

Irene’s co-owner and life long bestie Samuel (David Cale) is attendance. He is the lovable gay housemother to the gang, but with a restrained personality. As peacemaker he tries to keep the group's snarkiness in check. Husband and wife, Darren and Pauline (Daniel Oreskes and Amy Stiller) are old friends and neighbors. Old friends whose marriage now seems like a set of rounds in a boxing match. Also in attendance is old hunk Dean (Bill Sage), a man who drifts through the show effortlessly and grounds the proceedings. Darren and Pauline’s daughter Sasha (Hari Nef) sets up the story of unrequited love. 

A local young man Mark (David Foley) is in love with Sasha. Sasha tells Mark that she cannot love him and cannot force herself to love him because she is in love with Kevin, Irene’s son. Kevin, meanwhile, is in love with Nina. But Nina has becoming smitten with William, the writer and Irene’s partner. Barbs disguised as jokes and anger barely disguised at all, are tossed around as these friends meet in various groups. All the while with an undercurrent of love and friendship

The second half of The Seagull / Woodstock takes place two years later. Samuel is dying in hospice and his friends travel to Woodstock to gather once more and say goodbye. David Cale doesn’t play Samuel as a tragic character, but as a man happy to see his friends one last time.

In the proceeding two years Nina had an affair with William. It only ended when Nina’s baby was stillborn. Nina left William (or he left her) and is now traveling the country as an actress in road company’s playing in third string cities. William and Irene are still together, despite his long affair with Nina. Kevin has given up playwriting and has had a book published. Sasha, realizing that Kevin will never love her, has married Mark, but treats him with contempt. In the second half, the characters still ring with laughter but it is forced and brittle.

Ato Essandoh and Aleyse Shannon


And, in the end, The Seagull / Woodstock proves the adage that if you introduce a gun in Act I, you will use it by Act III.

Thomas Bradshaw has delivered a fantastic adaptation of Chekov’s The Seagull. He brings the story and feelings center stage. This in a show that usually feels remote and clinical. Director Scott Elliot makes use of the stage, the entrances and lighting to breathe a robust life into the show. His direction of the cast is spot on. The Seagull / Woodstock is fantastic and extended. Go see it!

The Seagull / Woodstock
PlaywrightThomas Bradshaw, based on Chekov | DirectorScott Elliot | CastDavid Cale, Ato Essandoh, Patrick Foley, hari Nef, Daniel Oreskes, Parker Posey, Bill sage, Aleyse Shannon, Amy Stiller, Nat Wolff
website


Daily Stoic: Personal

 There are some things I think would be almost impossible to be Stoic about. That is, there are things I can accept as done and devise a solution. In the moment there are things I can deal with I never knew I could, Mark's illness being the prime example.

And then there are things that would be impossibly tough. Okay, impossible tough for me and many others, but not everyone.

My brother has cancer. He has lived with it for a while. But it has moved from the original location and it now threatening his life.  "Threatening" is too loose a word, to say it all obliquely. 

And yet, he is dealing within so much better than other people I know. He has faced it, taken care of everything and is prepared. He is loving the time he has with his wife.

I am so proud of him, you can't believe it. And even though we did not grow up together, I am proud somehow. He is thinking of his wife and his friends and enjoying himself.

Here is a picture of he and his wife at the Super Bloom in Lake Elsinore just recently.



Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Interesting Ideas on the Soul and Consciousness

 One of the things that worries people about Artificial Intelligence is the idea that they may aquire sentience and turn on us. Wiping out their creators. Movies like The Matrix, Blade Runner, and The Terminator use this trope.

And it makes us (people) question what is different between us and things / beings that can out think us by millions in terms of speed and complexity. What makes us unique. Now, I know that for millions of people that is God. But for some of us, that is not an answer we can take on faith.

But a new book proposes a different idea. A neuroscientist has proposed that consciousness evolved to give people a purpose and make life worth living. Here is the link to the article. I cannot read it (I have hit my limit of free articles at the New Yorker) so I can't promise it will work, but it should.


Note: This, of course, does not prove or disprove the reality of God. For those so inclined, God may have created this idea for mankind.

Real Life Effects I Saw at a Middle School to LGBT Laws

Monday, Ed and I attended a GSL (Gay Straight Alliance) at a Middle School as role models. We were there to tell our story, to answer questions and provide a catalyst to these 7th and 8th graders. This is part of our volunteering for Live Out Loud - a support system for schools in NYC.

First, these kids are so much more comfortable exploring their sexual preferences than I can imagine. Kids gave us their stories about knowing they were gay in elementary school. One girl wasn't comfortable telling the school friends until 5th grade. They didn't have answers to everything, but were thinking about it and discussing it with their parents.

Now, this is the Upper West Side, where progressives are very liberal in their values, but still!  It was not fully sexual, just that same way kids had boyfriends and girlfriends in middle school. They discussed crushes.

And, just as we were thinking about how different this was to us, and wondering if it was too early - we met a girl. She was in 8th grade and very confident and self-assured. She had a girlfriend here and they sat holding hands. And then we spoke withe her. Her father was here for a work for a year, and then she was going back to Mississippi for High School.

She told us in Mississippi she wasn't going to say anything because she would get beat up. Her father was fine about it here, but they had talked about what she could not say back at home.

It brought home to me that kids totally get what is going on politically. These kids already knew what they could and could not say in different parts of the country. They knew about state laws trying to erase them.

I was blown away. And felt bad for this girl. But, then again, she is going to grow up and kick ass!

Unintended Consequences of dropping the SAT / ACT for College

 Even before Covid temporary requirements, many universities were dropping the use of standardized testing scores, like the SAT and ACT. The idea is "holistically" look at a student's application. To be perfectly honest, this was first used as a way to guarantee a diverse student body. It is true that poorer families, often minorities, did not have the means to compete with richer students.

Richer students could hire tutors for the tests. They had time to attend extra prep classes that working students did not have time for. The tests themselves had problems often around situations that were "normal" for richer students but outside the experiences of poorer students.


What could go wrong?

Well, it turns out that as the "holistic" view has progressed, the entrance criteria has subtly changed. In addition to social and economic hardship being considered, student activities counted a lot. Outside sports leagues, outside school volunteering, and grades, to name a few, are more important. And these activities are even more skewed towards richer households. A student without transportation means cannot participate in these activities as much. A family that does not have "extra" time cannot consistently get young people to activities and volunteering activities that make up much of the entrance decisions.

Poorer families might depend on students to work many hours, or spend time taking care of younger children or older family members. Poorer families often suffer with poor education options in elementary and high schools. Their ability to succeed is stunted.

 I don't have an answer to this. Putting SAT scores back into decisions has the same problems it presented before. Using quotas based on race, wealth or circumstances is not legal, and they come with their own fairness issues.

I was lucky. My family wasn't particularly wealthy, but universities were cheap (about 10 times cheaper in the case of UCLA). Incomes are no where near keeping up with costs. And less expensive options in schools often lack the reputation necessary for the best jobs.

Equality of opportunities works in many nations. Free or inexpensive child care frees students to study and succeed. Health insurance does not wipe out income where health care is guaranteed. 

My Latest from The Intersection of Geography and Economics

 

LINK

Daily Stoic: Reason vs. Happenstance

 Why do bad things happen to people?

Whenever you find yourself blaming providence, turn it around in your mind and you will see that what haw happened is keeping with reason.

Epictetus

Most actions do not occur in a vacuum. There are reasons that we need to understand.

Just as the people of the 1700s learned that wind wasn't created by God blowing at you, we now understand that much of our new disasters are enhanced by climate change.

We understand that the outlawing of abortion was the consequence of long term actions and education by conservative jurists. And those jurists were honed by a conservative legal infrastructure, designed specifically to return to a older time - like The Heritage Foundation.

We understand that space exploration manifests in fits and starts as a reaction to the cause of it. Great power rivalries and national pride are what drove space exploration. 

To rail against nature is to eliminate the root cause of issues. And once you are convinced people have no agency in actions, paralysis sets in.



For example, horrible flooding in California was made worse by:

  • Changes in weather systems, exacerbated by climate change
  • Draining of lakes and then building in that area - forgetting that these low lands will be flooded if there are unforeseen situation changes naturally (like the "atmospheric rivers") or disastrously (level breaks)
  • Building homes in areas unsuited for construction -say hillsides and foothills - or unsuited for the types of construction
  • Ignoring flood plain maps and history
  • Fires destroying watersheds that exacerbate flooding (again, made worse by climate change)
None of this means that we should ignore the immediate effects of flooding, or the very real impacts to people. But it also means that cursing nature itself is both self-defeating and causes paralysis.

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Spoon Growth

 I posted a few weeks ago about Spoon. This is our friends' golden doddle. He is adorable and we have watched him twice. He is a puppy and growing.

Here is the picture from about 3 or 4 weeks ago.


Here he is today!!!

FYI that is mom, not a child.

Have you all heard of the Global Seed Vault?

 I have often said that the most important thing now is to prepare for climate change, we cannot stop it now.

Well, I have known about this for a while, but it has taken on added importance now. The Global Seed Vault is a facility in way northern Norway. It built to preserve seeds from around the world. The idea is that if a global or regional catastrophe occurs, the seed bank could be used to replenish plants.


The seeds might be needed is a disease kills, say, GMO corn; the seed bank holds many different types of corn seeds to restart farms.

Who would think of such things? Scientists and futurists. Who pays for such things? 

The Nordic Council. Americans are focused on drag queens and guns. Russia is focussed on war. China and Asia are focussed on fears of war. Poor countries are focussed on providing food and shelter to their populations.  Most of the west is able to accomplish thing like this. But we don't.

The Global Seed Bank isn't only used in some sci-fi future either. The GSB provided the right seeds when typhoons destroyed certain farming habitats in the Philippines. The GSB provided seeds to southern African nations as drought and climate creeps into the area.

This is something we, as humans, can be proud of. It is what I would rather be doing with our resources. The seed vault costs about $41 Million dollars to build and update ($8M to build and $332M in upgrades over time). 

By comparison, the cost to build Texas' At&T stadium and UK's  was $1.48 BILLION dollars. About the cost of 36 Seed Banks. Los Angele's So Fi stadium was about $5 BILLION!

It's not that we don't have the funds, we don't have the will. Britain's Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and Wembley Stadium and the US's Atlanta, New York, and Las Vegas Stadiums were all between 1.3 and 1.9 Billion to build.

In fact, my own Condo building was less than $41 Million.

I am not sure why our own priorities sadden me. Our country does a lot of good in the world. And a lot of bad. I just wish we did better.

As for upkeep yearly. Norway pays.

The Lucas Museum of Self-Congratulation or Narrative Art?

I recently was reading about the progress on the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art. First, to be honest, I never heard of it. I suppose I am not privy to the machinations of LA neighborhood fighting so I missed this.

Also it reminds me I am 16 years away from my city. Which makes me sad, but I will go on.

Apparently George Lucas is building a museum to the "Narrative Arts" (more on that later) on an unused parking lot in Los Angeles on an old and ugly parking lot next to the LA Coliseum. It is a rather cool, spaceship-y thing that is very cool now and possibly very dated in 20 minutes.

It sits in Exposition Park along with a new outdoor stadium / concert venue that is a lot smaller than the Coliseum.  I saw in progress pictures that also seem to imply the entire neighborhood is super gentrified. And yes, the irony is not lost on me that Los Angeles has these beautiful new facilities (Broad Museum, Academy Museum, SoFi Stadium, etc.) in a city that prices people out of homes and into living in camps, tents and cars all over the city.


Anyway, it is cool and intersecting building, but it might be a $100 Million vanity project for George Lucas. We will see.

But I actually like the idea as presented on their website (here). Not just because it has theaters, learning spaces, places to interact. It also has a co-chairman and board that will make sure it is not focussed on Lucas Films. The are looking how different visual arts tells a story. Look at the pictures below.


The stories the images provoke are quick and visceral.  Barbers or stylist getting clients and friends ready to face the world. I had to look up the final image. It is the ancient gods getting Cadmus ready to bring enlightenment to the Greeks. Cadmus brought writing to the Greeks from the Assyrians. 

It could be quite cool.


Progress so far...


Daily Stoic: Learn from good

 Today's meditation is the Stoic version of your mom telling you not to hang out with troublemakers (or that annoying little Jimmy kid).

From good people you'll learn good, but if you mingle with the bad you'll destroy such soul as you had.

Theognis

We have all heard, "You are judged by the company you keep." The difference between your mother warning and the saying is choice.

We have a choice in how to model our behavior. And who become or remain friends with. It is easier to stay with a plan, worldview or moral base when you share it with your friends.



Monday, March 13, 2023

Trip to the Ringling Brothers Museum

When I visited Lynn last week, she and I went to the Ringling Brothers Museum. I know, I know, it sounds kind of dull. But we have a great time. It is in Sarasota Florida, where the Ringling family had their winter headquarters and private home. They had moved it from Baraboo Wisconsin as their winter home because... well, winter.

Here are some pics.

63 and still king of the Horse Ring

Lynn accidently getting mauled by a Tiger

Human Cannonball. One of the worst ideas ever.

I thought this was cool. Each wagon for the parade had unique wheel paint

Yes, they did this. No, I would not.

Daily Stoic: Oiêsis

 Oiésis is a fancy way of saying fooling yourself. Today's meditation is about what we tell ourselves. And, more importantly for me, how we warp our brain into forcing observations which conform our assumptions.

Self-deception is an awful disease and eyesight is a lying sense.

Heraclitus

This is true about me in a way that is the opposite for most. I see the worst about myself and my future. When that bad thing invariably happens, I convince myself I should not have done whatever it was I did. I know that this mistake, misunderstanding or catastrophe is my fault.

It sounds stupid, but think of it this way. If it is my fault then I don't blame others and can avoid a conflict. Sure it eats at part of me, but not the part I need to protect.



Saturday, March 11, 2023

OH NO!

 Tonight (Mar 11) at Indian Wells Tennis Tourney two of my favorites are playing.  I mean they are my favorites not just because they have great calves and ... glutes. But because they are fun, and excited to be there.

Holger Rune just enjoys himself out there. And Mackenzie Macdonald is a cute UCLA Alumni.

Holger

Mackie

And one more, just for me.

Sorry, did you say something?

About sums it up