Thursday, April 22, 2021

President Grant Should Have Met President Bush - "W" I Mean

 After Grant left the presidency, having chosen not to run for a third term in 1876, he became a civilian for the the first time in a long time.

Somewhere in that time he became aware of the fact that he was dying.

From his viewpoint, as I understand it from Ron Chernow, Grant wasn't particularly worried about dying, but he was worried about the financial health his wife would have after he died: would she have to go to the poorhouse?

So he decided to write his autobiography.

Maybe it would sell.

Two things stand out about that autobiography: It became a runaway best seller, and the reason that it became a runaway best seller was that Grant WAS A REALLY GOOD WRITER.

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I watched a Jimmy Kimmel YouTube tonight.

It was an interview of George W Bush ostensively promoting W's new book Out of Many, One (e pluribus unum I guess).

I had, for me, some unsettling reactions to this interview.

First was that W is a really entertaining person when he sets his mind to it.

Second was that Jimmy Kimmel has a fairly significant level of respect for W, not the President, for W.

And that jangles my memory; but I like the feel of it; so let's accept it.

Third is that, based on the images of W's Paintings - the spinal chord of the book - he has an unexpected talent,

Just like Grant, an unexpected talent has emerged.

I would like him to apply that talent to a portrait of George Floyd.


Saturday, April 17, 2021

If You Live In Asotin Maybe You Might Should Vote Democratic

 This morning I was reading an article from The Hill by Jordain Carney:

GOP acknowledges struggle to bring down Biden


Even I was startled by the implications of that headline: I had heretofore just looked upon the republicans as a dangerous impediment to getting anything done for the people of the United States.

But assertions such as

"Republicans are struggling to land attacks against President Biden as they grapple with how to win back power in Washington next year."

and

"Biden is proving to be an elusive cipher for Republicans to successfully message against nearly 100 days into his administration, keeping a relatively low profile and refusing to engage in the day-to-day verbal sparring that has consumed Washington in recent years.

"It presents a challenge that, GOP senators acknowledge, they aren't hitting the mark on.

"We need to get better at it. I don't think sometimes our messaging is as sharp as it should be because a lot of the things they're doing are things that are popular-when you're spending money, you're popular," Sen. John Thune (S.D.), the No. 2 Senate Republican, said about Republicans' success in defining Biden."

make me wonder whether we have a government or a High School Civics class.

A little farther down one finds

"Asked how his party was doing, Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.) replied: "Poorly."

"I don't think we've done a very good job because he's getting away with defining himself and rolling out this stuff that we're borrowing every penny for it, and the public is buying it," Braun said. "We've got to find ways to articulate and scuffle in a better way, and I don't know that we've found that.""

So if you live in Asotin Washington and would like to have gigabit internet you've got a wait on your hands.

(Actually, I have no idea whether you may have gigabit service right now; I'm just in the assertions business, not the facts business, just like the republicans.)

But I did do a little research before writing the just preceding sentence.

I found a web site that tells the tale of internet availability and speed in the state of Washington.


(Ephrata is near Quincy where there are massive server farms sucking electrical power from Wanapum Dam; Olympia is the state capital - all that government stuff requires bandwidth - College Park is a suburb of Olympia; Liberty Lake is close to Fairchild Air Force Base - blowing up the world requires bandwidth; and the best case, 86Mbps is hardly bandwidth, and by no means "broadband - except in the vastly inflated American Broadband Lite definition.)

Even that grim picture obscures the reality: those speeds are best case, in many cases probably after midnight; most of the time those connections muddle along at much less than the stated speeds; that's why streaming is such an exasperating experience for many Americans or a non existent experience for many more.

But anyway, there was a "find this information for your city" link; I clicked it; Asotin wasn't listed.

But Yakima was.

So I went there.

There were seven providers listed; their speeds ranged from 940 Mbps down to 3 Mbps.

Only one was 940; one was 20; two were 25; one was 50; one was 10; one was 3.

I was curious how an unknown to me provider with the fastest speed priced out.



About twenty years ago I read an article in Foreign Affairs.

At that time Korea had deployed 940 Gbps service widely at a monthly price of $20.

So in the 20 years since then the best the vaunted American free enterprise system can do is to offer in a few places the service Koreans had twenty years ago at a price that is five times more than Koreans were paying twenty years ago.

I wonder if that has anything to do with flood of Kia and Hyundai automobiles, LG washers and dryers and Samsung TV sets that one sees in America?

The history of that intervening twenty years has supported the general assertion that bandwidth, lots of bandwidth, fosters creativity and productivity; lack of bandwidth fosters unemployed coal miners.

I could probably go on ad nauseum, but I'll leave it off now.

So I'll get back to the point of this post - actually it's the implicit point of the article from The Hill.

President Joe wants to ASAP make cheap, fast internet ubiquitous.

And that is just one of a large array of traditional but also visionary muscular expansions of our infrastructure - an infrastructure we have either let languish for fifty years or have outright refused to upgrade to for fifty years, or have refused to acknowledge as a new and vital way of looking at the concept of infrastructure for fifty years: think child care, for example.

The republicans want to keep Joe from retaining legislative control after 2022 so they can totally cripple him for two years and, in the face of no significant action for four years retake the presidency in 2024.

(The major agenda item for that post Biden republican takeover is to install the Ku Klux Klan as the National Police Force of America - NPFAKKK. Watch for that acronym on your favorite white supremacist secret on line meeting room.)

The tactic they will use in support of the strategy will be to stifle any legislation for any improvement in the lives of  any Americans.

That, after all, has worked since 2009: working for one term presidencies has given the republicans the biggest executive disaster in American history, 2017 to 2020, and has given the American people third world health care, third world infrastructure and third world economic prospects; but Ol' Mitch and the Boys have had a lot of fun.

And all the other republicans have been in lock step for years, so it must be fair to surmise that the state of the lives, and economics and available internet speeds and prices in Asotin and in Yakima, after they have killed the infrastructure plan (I neglected to mention all the jobs with real living wages that will be the result of Joe's infrastructure plan) will be directly attributable to the actions or non actions of their elected national legislators, who are:

Asotin - Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Republican

Yakima: Dan Newhouse, Republican

Using the internet litmus test which I have just invented it seems reasonable to suggest that if you live in Asotin, or if you live in Yakima - or Wheeling, or Butte - or (there are so many) you might should vote Democratic.


Wednesday, April 14, 2021

I Have No Idea Whether Any Of This Is True

 But I think I heard  some of it on KUOW, my local Public Radio station; I have waxed editorial on KUOW's base story.

The base pay rate for Seattle Police is $60 an hour.

That's almost $127,000 a year.

Without overtime.

And Seattle cops are at the head of the line for off duty stuff like traffic control for Seattle City Light street projects - you know, the City goes in and spends weeks removing existing street bed so that the replacement street has a perfect pothole resistant substrate, and then a few weeks later the City goes back in to replace the gas pipes (they didn't know that the pipes needed replacing, weeks before, when they perfected the substrate and laid the new asphalt) - and there are lots of Seattle City Light and whoever-it-is-that's-the-gas-company projects; so there are a lot of traffic control jobs for off duty Seattle cops.

The hourly rate for that is $90.

But that's paid to a middleman so the cops probably don't get $90 an hour for being out there controlling traffic when they are off duty from their prime job which is killing unarmed black men.

They might not get much more than $60 an hour.

Think 60/15 = 4.

That's four times more than Bernie Sanders is trying to get to be the base rate for labor in America.

That's four times the rate that the republican fascist party says will sink America into the vast ocean of historic oblivion - they say it's too much money to pay people.

But I would expect that the middlemen pass on more than $60 an hour to their off duty cop independent contractors.

Because those cops have a lot of skills.

For example, if in a dispute over who has precedence at a four way intersection blocked by construction, one or more of the disputants is black, a cop has the instinct and the training to shoot the black one.

Black Lives Matter.

And nobody knows that fact better than a cop.

After all, their heritage is controlling and killing black people.

Or so one would surmise from history.

But back to the four way intersection where Seattle City Light is doing something vital:  if there happened to be more than one black disputant, the cop would have had the skill and training to shoot the other black ones.

That's a valuable skill.

Well worth $127,000 a year base pay with the addition of off duty traffic control uplift.

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

PICTURES

This was under Pont St Michel  if I remember correctly.  If I don't, it was somewhere around there. 

My first snowman. This was in Portland. The snow was pretty paltry.

At the Paris Zoo.  Lots of unhindered migratory and native birds mixed with the flamingos.


La Bastille


Rue Mazarine; my apartment is pretty near this place.

There are all the things you could ever want on rue Faubourg St Denis. That's some kind of entendre double.

On rue de Seine.

Life on la Seine where the livin' is easy; I guess; but it, for sure, is beautiful.



More life on la Seine


In the habitat at les Berges


Lopez Island rose


Lopez Island sunset


Lopez Island shorebirds


Lopez Island great blue heron on a buoy 

Lopez Island cactus flowers


Alfie thinking about dinner


I think this was in Florence.


The start of our Entre Deux Mers bike trip


Monday, April 12, 2021

I Didn't Know It Was A Gun

 As we saw previously, police sometimes use the old saw " I didn't know the gun was loaded".

Sunday we got a new variant: " I didn't know it was a gun".

And since the woman who shot Daunte Wright was shrieking " tazer, tazer, tazer" as she shot her gun at him at point blank, it must be true.

So I guess that's that and we should all move on.

In a perfect world that might be true.

But in an imperfect one, just recently released from the reign of terror of the orange scourge, there are questions that can be heard.

Here are three.

"Why does a guy who has a deodorant dispenser hanging from his rear view mirror warrant being stopped by the police"?

"Once stopped, why does a deodorant dispenser warrant his being tazered? (Cops keep their tazer on the left side, by the way, not on the right; the right side is for their gun; so I guess some sort of time/space warped transmogrification is at fault.)"

And, for sure, one would then ask in final follow on "why did ANY trigger - gun, tazer or cap gun, get pulled"?

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When I was quite young I had a fairly traumatic experience.

I pointed my cap pistol at my grandfather.

This uniformly loving and jovial being turned in a flash into a fierce and harsh disciplinarian.

"Don't ever - EVER - point a gun - ANY GUN - or ANYTHING THAT LOOKS LIKE A GUN, at ANYTHING, unless you intend to kill it."

Those words ought to be made the starting point of training at all our police academies.

If they were so trained, then all the fear uncertainty and doubt that the police always throw up around their most recent assassination would not be allowed in a court of law, just as they are not allowed in the court of public opinion.

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Sunset In The West

 Occasionally for no apparent reason I am confronted with a couplet or a concept or an image or a viewpoint that needs to be a poem.

I have a file with quite a few of them.

They certainly aren't a body of work but they are more than a couple poems.

One of them is even quite long; I wrote it in reaction to something a friend of mine had said about his rather hardscrabble childhood; I wrote it to be like a Bruce Springsteen song; I have never tried to make the music.

But it's in the file.

Live Wire had an all poetry episode today.

It was a really good episode; it moved me to open my file.

Here was my favorite for today.

If it had been tomorrow my favorite would have been some other one.

I hope I can keep writing more every now and then.

So I can have a lot of favorite ones.

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After all that is going to pass;

The contents of a glass;

When gone will mark;

The advance of the dark;

For some or all;

But most will fall;

Out of the light;

Into the night;

As well they should;

And that is or - will be - good.


Thursday, April 8, 2021

Some Images That Seem To Be Worth Glancing At; I Guess

Native cranberries at the ferry dock in Anacortes


Native orchid in the woods on Lopez island


Historic document at Richardson Dock on Lopez Island


I used the flash; I was amazed at the effect.


This was shot in a 50 mph wind storm; I put the camera on 1000th of a second shutter speed.


In my favorite rainy day place in paris


I don't know; I just saw it and shot it.


Same as above


One always hears about the light in paris.


And sometimes they make movies on la Seine.


A winter walk down the quais to le D├ępart


A night scene in Rouen at Christmastime 


A passage on the way to that scene


Seattle's City Flower


 

Seen One Seen Em All

 The Proud Boys.

El Shabab.

The Oath Keepers.

Countless other heavily armed militias living in the American forests.

Islamic State.

Taliban.

There are many, many more; they pop up constantly as needed.

Except for the accidents of birth which place these individuals in their particular time and space they are at root the same thing: nihilistic losers in a world in which they can't succeed or compete.

Their solution to their self generated plight is uniformly the same: mayhem, death, destruction and a return to a non-existent "other time when things were good; when men could be men, and women knew better than to get in the way".

That's a rather synthetic description of the genre, but it gets the job done.

It gives the explanatory backdrop to the never ending video clips of masses of women, children and a few men huddling in the misery of collapsed societies: parts of Kenya, all of Somalia, intermittently in Iraq, totally always now in Syria, recently beginning in Mozambique, and so on and so forth ad infinitum.

The confluence of all those "movements" with their constantly-being-documented results, daily fare wherever one gets one's video content, always brings me to a question.

"We have more than enough of the nihilistic nut crowd, in our military, in our police, in our woods, hills, dales and - probably - caves - to do the job; what makes America different? What keeps those factions from bringing us to the misery and chaos that reigns supreme in so many other places?"

I always breathe and heave a sigh of relief.

That can't happen here because we are a nation of laws.

We are governed by dependable representatives of the people dedicated to, above all, the universal well being, safety and success of the people; those representatives have taken an oath to uphold and defend the compact that is the basis of we the people; unlike those "other places" we have an impenetrable buffer, proven and tested by time and tide, between us and catastrophes such as are experienced elsewhere; we are Americans.

The feeling of tranquility is short lived; when I remember that almost half of those members of the buffer are republicans; and that most of them live in the world of the militias; and that if Jim Jordan is representative of the species, our days of being free from complete implosion are limited.

But we had a good deal going there for a couple of hundred years.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Arthur Schlesinger Jr. Summed It Up A Long Time Ago

 This is from The Age of Jackson by Arthur Schlesinger Jr.

"... since this is a capitalistic society, the class most interested in its security and prosperity is the capitalist class, which thus should have the most power. The theory has survived every test but experience. It simply has not worked. Since the Federalist party the American business community appears to have lost its political capacity; it has not been, in the strict sense, a ruling class. In placid days power naturally gravitates to it as the strongest group in the state; but through American history it has been unable to use that power very long for national purposes. Moved typically by personal and class, rarely by public, considerations, the business community has invariably brought national affairs to a state of crisis and exasperated the rest of society into dissatisfaction bordering on revolt. "

Since the current batch calling themselves "republican" are the latter day descendants of the Federalists it interesting that there may be a revolutionary and irrevocable breech occurring between the "capitalist class" and its elected factotums.

How Forked Tongue Of Them

 Ol' Mitch keeps saying that corporations should shut up about voter suppression and keep doing corporation stuff.

Whatever corporation stuff is.

What it isn't, I guess Ol' Mitch thinks, is expressing a value judgement.

He doesn't want them messing in politics.

He doesn't want to hear them talk.

If I didn't remember so clearly Mitt Romney saying, loudly and clearly "corporations are people" I would find Ol' Mitch's outburst as an amusing postscript to Election 2020.

But Mitt was speaking out in support of Supreme Court affirmed unlimited dark money emanating from corporations in support of republican causes and candidates: corporations being people, the thought process imbedded in Mitt's declaration was that as people, corporations have the same rights under the First Amendment as any other American person.

Apparently Ol' Mitch and the boys only like that construct when those corporate "people" toe the fascist party line.



Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Ol' Mitch Crashes Off The Rails

 McConnell to CEOs: 'Stay out of politics.' Republicans threaten businesses opposing Georgia voting law

Matthew Brown, USA TODAY 

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I guess Ol' Mitch has promoted himself to the Supreme Court.

Monday, April 5, 2021

Cats And Paris

 A little more than seven years ago now I was in Paris for two months.

I was in an apartment that my landlord had named Crazy View.

There were some crazy views from its fourth floor vantage.


Obviously, I loved living there.

One day it was time to try a Face Time call to my wife who was at that time on Lopez Island.

We talked and talked and talked, and, finally she said, I need to show you something.

She showed me Cinq.

It had turned out that the feral cat that we had been feeding for several years wasn't a male (orange cats are all male, we had heard) but, instead, was a female; and she had had a litter.

My wife had found four of them in a HVAC tube: all one had to do was pick the tube up at both ends, and voila, one had a tube full of kittens.

She also, at risk of personal harm, trapped the mother cat - by then named Gynji, which was a change from her assumed to be male name of Gympy, since he/she has a withered right leg - in the sun room.


My wife contacted the Lopez Island cat reclamation center and found out that the kittens needed to be socialized to humans post haste: they were wild animals and if they didn't get comfortable with humans really fast they would never be adoptable.

So my wife shut the four in the bathroom and began to socialize them.

Food was central to socialization.

When they were fed they all growled like little lions.

I was in Paris so I don't know if that is true or accurate, but my wife has never been inaccurate in our life together, so, I think that they probably growled.

My wife kept hearing a faint kitten like cry - for several days; finally she pulled the access panel on our deck and looked down; down there was a fifth kitten; it was Cinq; he was almost dead; but the local vet brought him back; and my wife showed him to me on the Face Time call.

We kept three of those kittens - Cinq chief among them - and the other two found great homes.

It was a coupe de chatons.

And we have learned to become a family: the cats tolerate their humans and the humans absolutely love their cats.

Here they are as adults.

Alfie


Cinq


Rose, also known as Rosie



Extremism In The Military

 In a couple of other posts to this blog I have mentioned this, but with the current "stand down" that is underway I want to mention it again.

In the days of the military draft if your father was President you could get into the National Guard; in those days the National Guard generally didn't go to Vietnam so being in the Guard was a pretty good deal.

Or if your father had a lot of money he could buy a doctor who would say that you had debilitating bone spurs.

If you were just a garden variety American you were pretty well screwed as far going into the military; the draft made it nearly certain that you were going to go; so the game quickly became one of making the best you could make of a bad deal.

The way you did that was you volunteered for military service as far from the Marines or the Army Infantry as you could get; you were probably going to Vietnam, but if you were in the Air Force or the Navy or the Coast Guard you probably were not going to be in gun toting combat.

The demographic result of that phenomenon was significant.

It was as if a giant scoop had reached down into the mass of young Americans and indiscriminately put them in uniform: we were all colors, all  religions, all geographies, all economic levels, all education levels, and all levels of prestige among the educational institutions that we were products of.

That's as heterogenous as a human population can be.

On the surface of it one would have thought that such an amalgam would be the basis for a socio-economic race riot; what it was in fact was a unified group of young Americans who got a lot mutually accomplished in the midst of what was at best a bad deal.

That's an analogue of the American Story.

The all volunteer military changed that.

Without the draft it's easy for America to indulge in never ending wars: if the kids don't have to go to war, they don't riot and burn their draft cards and their parents don't get up in arms about invading places like Iraq.

What happens instead is an act of dangerous sub-optimization: in general the young people who volunteer for military service are those who have few, or perceive that they have few, alternatives.

In general they sound a lot like trump's "base".

If that is generally true the downstream implications of that fact include the existence of a military sown with the seeds of an overthrow of our government.

I don't think we can bring the draft back quickly enough to fix that problem.


Birds Flowers And Paris Scenes