Saturday, August 27, 2016

An Odd Little Book

So... I love the Mapp and Lucia series from E.F.Benson.  As it is public domain, many people have written "further adventures of".

I did as well, and the result can be purchased from Amazon or via the sidebar.

And, I would like to here dedicate this to (as reprinted from my dedication):

Dedicated to:
The memory of E F Benson who gave the world wonderful characters
And

To Laura Harris for helping me bring them to life again


What is it about?

On the eve of the Great War, Elizabeth Mapp and Emmeline Lucas (Lucia to one and all) are called to service for King and Country. Recruited by a dear old college chum of Georgie Pilson, Mapp and Lucia are tasked to gather information from the Court of the Hapsburgs in Vienna. Can these two women put aside their differences long enough to solve an international mystery? Or will their unyielding attitudes and competitive nature cause a diplomatic incident?

Scott Mitchell takes the characters from E. F. Benson’s delightful Lucia series and throws them into greater waters – where they succeed and fail with humor, charm and style..

Thursday, August 25, 2016

A Contrasting Position: Shut Up!

So, people are all aghast at Hillary and Bill's Foundation.  And it is one that does amazing things for people around the world.  One that works for education, African farmers, women rights and HIV support in poor countries.  "But it's Hillary and she must be a crook."

Ethicists "scoff" at the transition plan.  Screw you.

Donald Trump's "Foundation" gave no money to Veterans until he was caught - and then less than 10% of the "$6 Million" dollars he promised.  The Trump Foundation paid $20,000 for a Tim Tebow helmut that he has in his private office. To bring your self-righteous bullshit over here to avoid the appearance of mis-deeds (albeit NO MISDEEDS) is to waste time and hurt people for no reason but your big attitude.

Screw you, ethicists. The Clinton Foundation does great work and has before she ran for President and will long after she is gone.  Go bitch about something else.  NOT ONE person that hates Hillary will suddenly go, "Oh, now I can vote for her - now that she has changed the name of the Clinton Foundation and Chelsea isn't part of it."

Grow up.  As for what they have done....

Because of our work, more than 31,000 American schools are providing kids with healthy food choices in an effort to eradicate childhood obesity; more than 105,000 farmers in Malawi, Rwanda, and Tanzania are benefiting from climate-smart agronomic training, higher yields, and increased market access; more than 33,500 tons of greenhouse gas emissions are being reduced annually across the United States; over 450,000 people have been impacted through market opportunities created by social enterprises in Latin America, the Caribbean, and Asia; through the independent Clinton Health Access Initiative, over 11.5 million people in more than 70 countries have access to CHAI-negotiated prices for HIV/AIDS medications; an estimated 85 million people in the U.S. will be reached through strategic health partnerships developed across industry sectors at both the local and national level; and members of the Clinton Global Initiative community have made more than 3,500 Commitments to Action, which have improved the lives of over 430 million people in more than 180 countries.

Instagram of "@anneesdepelerinage"; who just traveled the silk road

In my focus on Instagram things of note: @anneesdepelerinage is Norman, a 33 blogger and travel writer - he real life a marketing manger for a stock trading company in Germany.

One thing he did recently, that I want to do someday, is travel the ancient silk road in the "-stans", Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.  It is the ancient pathway from the China of Marco Polo to Europe (via Constantinople and Venice).  Here are some amazing pictures.  Because the area isn't thought to be too safe, it was pretty empty.

Amazing!

Its Not the Heat - It's the Climate Change

Again - we are well past the tipping point here.  Climate Change is occurring and we need to prepare for it.  In multiple ways with great haste!
Flooding is often the most visible impact, for a couple of reasons.  First it is slow.  Extra tornadoes or massive Hurricanes (like the 3 "1,000 year events" in SE Asia) are hard to film and pay attention to.  But floods, in many areas, are slow motion disasters that take a long time to clean up. And they leave disaster porn pictures. Second, we have historical information to note how often these types of floods might happen.  And the news isn't good.

Other examples of climate change are occurring outside of our easy notice: ice pack melting, forest fires greatly increasing in intensity and frequency, the hottest month in the history of written records (July 2016).
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But worse will come and we must be prepared.

Here are the top things our government (the epitome of uselessness) should get ready for.

1. Drought.  Yes, drought.  While the impact on homes and cities ruined by floods are terrible, as long as the country has fresh water and food, it is a humanitarian problem we can fix.  But drought, particularly in the crop growing regions of the United States, is not something that is easily fixable.  Much of our most productive land is primarily watered by rain.  Rain is no longer predictable on reliable as it has always been.  It might seem odd in years of massive massive floods in some areas, but other areas have experienced massive droughts that destroyed crops (a few years ago in Texas, Georgia and Indiana). We have to figure out how to replenish our water supplies and irrigate intelligently everywhere, not just the Southwest. (Internationally - this same type of extra-ordinary drought has occurred in the Russian / Ukrainian bread basket and in Australia)

2. Massive Migration.  Internally, inside the United States, migration has always occurred - with Climate Change it could speed up quickly.  Hurricane Katrina sent a million people fleeing New Orleans, and more than 1/2 stayed away.  As coastal Florida, parts of Virginia and New Jersey succumb to a combination of high tide flooding and storms, millions more might move. 
- OUTSIDE the United States, expect wars to occur over migration.  Much of the Middle East is expected to be uninhabitable in a few decades (summer temps of over 130F).  Bangladesh and multiple island nations will be underwater. India, which supports well over a billion people on a wet / dry climate routine is finding that the "routine" is failing. The Sahel in Africa is moving from productive land to desert.  "Thousand year" flooding is ruining homes and farmland in Europe from England to the Balkans.  This will lead to desperate people. Imagine the Syrian refugees, only with government backing.

3. Fresh Water. Israel and Kuwait have moved most quickly on this issue, but continental west coast cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco, CapeTown, Santiago and Perth as well as much of the Mediterranean cities need to move forward with securing adequate water as well. Desalinization makes economic sense for urban areas.  There are some great advances where the city sit on the ocean (or Mediterranean Sea). Water will be more expensive from the ocean, but the demand for land based resources to go to farming will be to great to ignore.

Finally: Watch for Unexpected Triggers.
The climate is too complex for modeling at this point.  Government(s) need to be on the look-out for triggers of things we don't expect and then respond
  • Take the Zika virus. The mosquitos that transmit Zika are spreading due to climate change.  This isn't something that was easily modeled (although we did model Dengue fever).  
  • Or the spread of Pine Beatles that destroyed much of our western pine forests and made forest fires so much worse. They spread due to warm winters in the western mountains. Scientist expected warmer winters with climate change, but didn't expect the rise of a destructive insect on top of that.
  • Take a look at the ski resorts in the Alps and Western US that are going bankrupt because there is no snow or it goes very very late. NOT for the sake of the ski resorts, but look at the underlying system.  The snowpack isn't just used to ski, it is an early indicator of fresh water availability - that snow melts and is almost always used as freshwater by people.


Yes a bunch of rain sucks and makes news, but that is often recoverable. We need to get ready for those things that are unrecoverable toot sweet.

How Can I Miss a Movie With this tagline.....

I love this headline on The Daily Beast


Wednesday, August 24, 2016

TV is Trying

Either Television is trying to shift with our tastes, or they are throwing shit against the wall to see what sticks.

For me, a couple of series stand out.

First Mr. Robot.  No spoilers - even if I could figure it all out - but Mr. Robot is off the rails bat-shit crazy this year.  A cliff hanger they ignored, various cast members disappearing for weeks at a time.  And the amazing Alf guest start in Elliot's head.

Mr. Robot goes Retro for 30 minutes.
Buckle up kids.

As for buckling up, Dark Matter is a Syfy show that was fine last year.  Entertaining and offbeat.  This year they decided to crank up the crazy by 1000% - and I like it. [Warning SPOILER ahead, but not if you have seen any of season two.]

Cast Season One
Dark Matter has a very diverse case (as you can see). But last year's resident hot white guy was killed off in episode 1 this season.  And again later (long story - but I figured that was how they were going to bring him back, but ka-boom, nope.)  And not, like long sad drawn out death, but single shot to the head.  Twice!

Now they still have the resident hot asian guy, hot mulatto gal, semi-hot robot woman and brought in a new hot white guy (who might have been killed off already as well - not clear) and a new hot black girl.  Anyway, TV is screwing with the formulas, which is perfect.

Cast Season Two: New hot guy and new hot girl are first and 3rd from the left.

The Original General Electric Building


Today I was walking up to see a friend who is running a PopUp shop.  On my way I past this great building.  I was stuck by the odd "batman" head about half way up the building.

I could tell it a GE building because of the clock (it acutally says GE).

It turns out it was built 1931 for the Radio Corporation of America (RCA) and when they moved to Rockefeller Center, General Electric took it over.  Oddly, it was about 75 years later GE took over Rockefeller Center.

It is very cool.

Save the Date (for LA) November 19th I am having a Project 1948 Fund Raiser. More Info coming....


Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Some Athletes of Rio (that we met)

One of the most amaing things about this trip to Rio was the chance to met a lot of Athletes.  It was really really fun.  I admire the work ethic and ability of all of these people.  Almost all were charming.  Almost (you'll have to study to see who wasn't).
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This is Madison Hughes - the Captian of the Rugby 7s.  He was charming and cute as a bug!

This was Weverton - the Brazilian Goalie. The night after they won the Gold, he was at the airport and took pictures will all of the locals.  He was a huge hit.

This is Mariel Zagunis.  She is a multiple Gold Winner in Fencing.  She was super charming.

Me and Madison and Ed.  This was at another event.  He is fun.

This is Adam Von Koeverden.  You might remember him as Adam Von Kayak - he was the Mascot of the Month a few years ago.  Time has not made him pleasant.  Like, I'm sorry the sponsor brought you here to talk to people.  Next time just wear a sign that says, "Don't fuck with me, I'm cranky"

This is Alev Kelter.  She is on the Rugby Sevens Women's team.  She was also very very nice.  And maybe related to my sister in law!

Wieird picture because of the lighting for the mural. But the young lady is Lee Kiefer, a US fencer.  She wanted to met the artist so I drug her over. (I am not shy - I think we know that).

This was actually the same mural under white lighting.  The artist did this during the party.  It was a blank wall to start!

These are two Canadian Judo Team Member s- they were great.  It is Antoine Bouchard, me, Antoine Valois-Fortier and Eddie

Monday, August 22, 2016

A Quick Update on Rio - More Later

Rio de Janerio and the Rio Olympics were fantastic.  I feel sad about the coverage the Olympics received in the United States.

Cariocans (Rio residents) watching Beach Volleyball Finals in the rain at midnight.  It was great!
No, the city wasn't unsafe.  Rio de Janerio is a city in a developing country, and -as so - it pays to be careful.  But charging all  of Rio (and Brazil) with the crime of certain areas, is like being afraid of the entire country of the USA due to the crime rates in Chicago.*

Rio did a great job.  People loved the Olympics, the Subway got done in time, the city was relatively safe (the number of athletes that were assaulted was lower than the number of athletes that committed rape at the games towards Brazilians).

Ryan Lochte is a tool - and makes all Americans look bad.  He lied, whines and leaves - letting his friends trying to cover it up.  He still can't say he lied. But he is learning from American politicians - so that is no surprise.  PS - No one in Rio believed he was robbed for a second, because a real robber would take his cell phone.  They are worth a ton in Rio.

Anyway, I'll post more later, but the people were great and I hate hearing all the shit from the US about the crime, racism and corruption.  It makes me sad.  When did we all get so freaking bitter?

*Or, imagine if we said all of Chicago is like the very worst parts of the city with riots, rampant murder and police on the take.  If you think that isn't really fair, then that is exactly what Cariocans (Rio residents) think about us.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Really - Not the same at all

This is not at all the same at all...

Robbery and Paying for Damages - The same!

Still, Lochte didn’t walk back completely, defending the way he has described himself and fellow swimmers as victims in the situation. “It's how you want to make it look like. Whether you call it a robbery, whether you call it extortion or us paying just for the damages,” Lochte said. “All we know is there was a gun pointed in our direction and we were demanded to give money.”

Day 2 was great