Monsanto

January 13, 2017

A continuation from this blog: https://notesfromthewest.wordpress.com/2017/01/06/electronics/  (with Monsanto comments at the end.)  The county has set up a website about the Monsanto proposal at tucne.ws/h1b

Pima County will hold five community meetings to take public comments on the proposed Monsanto greenhouse facility ahead of a formal vote on the county’s support of a trade-zone designation that would result in a tax break for the company.1

monsanto-libraryStanding room only for first public Monsanto Meeting1

Went to the first of the first of the Board of Supervisors’ meeting.   And I, never getting anywhere early, was one of those standing (the short person circled).  Here are the dates and places for the next meetings:

  • District 2: 6 p.m., Jan. 19; Quincie Douglas Center, 1575 E. 36th St.
  • District 3: 5 p.m., Jan. 17; Ellie Towne Community Center, 1660 W. Ruthrauff Road.
  • District 4: 11 a.m., Jan. 13; Green Valley Recreation Center, Las Companas Room, 565 W. Belltower Drive.
  • District 5: 6 p.m., Jan. 18; Pima County Housing Center, 801 W. Congress St.

The 155 acres of land that they bought in Marana is for a $100 million …seven-acre greenhouse facility where it would develop and grow genetically modified corn.  However, the Monsanto Product Strategy Leader, Amanda McClerren, who spoke did not rule out the use of pesticides and other chemicals1.  We do not want to risk one of the Monsanto spills here.

Monsanto Liable In ’79 Dioxin Spill… in Sturgeon, Missouri…  The jury awarded plaintiffs $16.2 million in punitive damages…  Dioxin is known to cause brain, heart and genetic damage in laboratory animals. The health risk to humans is subject to debate, although the form of dioxin found in the soil at the spill site has been called the world’s most toxic synthetic chemical.3

Then there’s Poca River Basin, West Virginia:

The level of cancer has reached abnormal numbers in the communities located close the Monsanto’s dump sites in Poca River basin. Almost everybody has a family member affected by cancer.

Poca River Basin is part of the area locally known as the “Chemical Valley.” During its peak in the 1950s and early 1960s, the area was the leading chemical producer in the world. Monsanto’s plant near the town of Nitro was the primary manufacturer of Agent Orange. The waste and residues from the plant were illegally dumped around the area. For years, the leaks from the dump sites have contaminated Poca River which joins Kanawha River, the largest inland waterway in West Virginia.4

And West Anniston, Alabama

For nearly 40 years, while producing the now-banned industrial coolants known as PCBs at a local factory, Monsanto Co. routinely discharged toxic waste into a west Anniston creek and dumped millions of pounds of PCBs into oozing open-pit landfills. Thousands of pages of Monsanto documents – many emblazoned with warnings such as “CONFIDENTIAL: Read and Destroy” – show that for decades, the corporate giant concealed what it did and what it knew.

annistonA house, located close the former Monsanto Plant (Solutia Plant today), was abandoned due to a high level of PCBs. Monsanto’s facility was in a primarily low-income neighborhood and affected more than 20,000 people. Today, it represents the biggest population affected by a single contamination. In recent years, Monsanto has bought and demolished around 100 PCB-contaminated houses and businesses in the area, turning the neighborhood into a virtual ghost town.

In its 113 year history, Monsanto has manufactured everything from plastic to the now-banned Agent Orange, an herbicide used to destroy a large area of jungle during the Vietnam War. Agent Orange has since been found to cause miscarriages and birth defects in the children of Vietnam veterans. Today, Monsanto is a main producer of the herbicide glyphosate, which goes by the brand-name Roundup, and bovine growth hormone, both which have raised ethical and environmental concerns relating to the welfare of animals, humans, and the environment.4

I could go on and on.  These are just the first two articles I read after googling Monsanto spills.

The Women’s March On Washington Has Gone Global5

Amsterdam, Netherlands; Auckland, New Zealand; Barcelona, Spain; Berlin, Germany; Brussels, Belgium; Copenhagen, Denmark; Edmonton, Canada; Frankfurt, Germany; Geneva, Switzerland; Heidelberg, Germany; London, England; Malecon, Mexico; Oslo, Norway; Ottowa, Canada; Paris, France; Rome, Italy; St. Johns, Canada; Stockholm, Sweden; Sydney, Australia; Toronto, Canada; Vienna, Austria; Wellington, New Zealand; Jalisco, Mexico.  So far.

See my blog https://notesfromthewest.wordpress.com/2017/01/06/electronics/ for what’s happening in Tucson.

hello-kittySeen Today

A woman with short gray hair in a small black pickup with a Hello Kitty sticker.

1http://tucson.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/public-meetings-on-monsanto-proposal-begin-next-week-in-pima/article_7867ea4f-614d-530c-afe4-10aa5b2a71c3.html
2http://www.tucsonnewsnow.com/story/34221416/standing-room-only-for-first-public-monsanto-meeting
3http://www.nytimes.com/1987/10/23/us/monsanto-liable-in-79-dioxin-spill.html
4http://www.featureshoot.com/2014/09/compelling-photos-reveal-legacy-americas-hated-corporation/
5http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/how-the-womens-march-on-washington-has-gone-global_us_586e342be4b021b75256f0f1?

Women

January 10, 2017

planned-parenthoodI am trying hard not to say anything (yet) about our upcoming prez.  But I can’t ignore all politics.  This came to notice: House Speaker Paul Ryan announced yesterday that Republicans will once again push to cut off federal tax dollars to Planned Parenthood. Republicans have tried and failed to do this in the past. President Obama vetoed a similar bill last January.1

So now women are going to be punished for even running for President?  The underweight babies will suffer too.  And the children who no one wants.  An aside: One of the guys I worked with said that his sister had a deformed baby.  (I think the PC term is special needs child.)  One day she was driving by a Planned Parenthood center where there were protesters.  She took her baby out and walked down the line asking who would want to adopt her child.  No takers.  Just people who want to control others.

I had never read The Feminine Mystique, by Betty Friedan, but got it from the library and skimmed it.  Most of it you could get by following Betty Draper in Mad Men.

But  in the Epilogue I got an idea of why so many women voted for Trump:

At first, that strange hostility my book—and later the movement—seemed to elicit from some women amazed and puzzled me… if you were too afraid you wouldn’t really make it, too afraid to face your real feelings about the husband and children you were presumably living for, then someone like me opening up the can of worms was a menace.

Then there was an idea I had never heard of:

Society had to be restructured so ‐ that women, who happen to be the people who give birth, could make a human, responsible choice whether or not—and when—to have children, and not be barred thereby from participating in society in their own right. This meant the right to birth control and safe abortion; the right to maternity leave and childcare centers if women did not want to retreat completely from adult society during the childbearing years; and the equivalent of a G.I. bill for retraining if women chose to stay home with the children.2

poetryA friend of mine posts poetry sessions on her Facebook page.  This one hits the woman and the black:
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/6/24/1396071/-A-black-man-and-a-white-woman-switch-mics-and-the-result-is-amazing

Aging

old-cyclist105-year-old man sets record by cycling more than 14 miles in an hour
Frenchman Robert Marchand, who previously broke record in over-100s category, sets time in new over-105s class2.

I had mentioned this guy back in 2012, when he was “just” 100.4

1http://www.npr.org/2017/01/06/508587569/republicans-prepare-efforts-to-defund-planned-parenthood
2http://www.nytimes.com/1973/03/04/archives/up-from-the-kitchen-floor-kitchen-floor.html?_r=0
3https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jan/04/105-year-old-man-sets-record-cycling-14-miles-hour-robert-marchand
4https://notesfromthewest.wordpress.com/2012/03/04/book-festival/

Electronics

January 6, 2017

Suppose that aliens (not Mexicans or Muslims, but those from Outer Space) came in flying saucers and disrupted our earth’s electrical and magnetic fields?  It would crash our defenses and worldwide communications!  OMG!  No internet!  No phone, no messages, no twitter, no snapchat, no facebook, no google…

I’ve had my first smart phone for probably less than a year.  I decided, as part of a New Year’s resolution to get more current, to put all of my schedule on the phone’s calendar.  My phone had said that I was almost out of memory, so I deleted all of my messages, sent emails, deleted emails, and even photos, including a couple of phone photos (which I only recently have begun taking, as it’s more convenient than a camera) that I thought I had emailed to myself to drop into my desktop photo file.  Then, a week ago, I could no longer get or send emails with my phone.  Had not depended upon that before, having both a tablet and a desktop, but the email I had thought had gone through hadn’t.  It was in the Sent folder as failed.  And it wouldn’t let me download the photos, either.  Bother.

So… I called the techie (who was not in India, but Texas), and after she had waved her magic wand and some such, said that I would have to reboot the phone, and sent a page of directions.  Got them from my desktop email and followed instructions.  My phone email now worked (‘cept the one with the photos was gone, so you’ll have to imagine the Catalina Mountains shrouded with clouds, and a young man, in a chair at Dillard’s on its 75% day after New Year’s off sale, with a huge pile of women’s clothes in his lap, which family members are adding to).

And… you guessed it – my calendar was now empty and I had to find all of the dates and times which I had entered to reenter.  Took a long time.  Here are some events you might be interested in.  First, a free documentary film The World According to Monsanto tonight (January 6, 2017) at 6:30 at Green Fields School auditorium6000 N Camino De La Tierra, Tucson.  Here is some backstory:

Multinational chemical corporation Mon$anto has plans to move into the Tucson area (1.5 miles away from Marana High School) and is seeking a 66% tax break (also known as “Project Corn”) from the Pima County Board of Supervisors.
Come to this free movie screening of “The World According to Monsanto” documentary and find out what kind of neighbor Mon$anto is and what you can do about it.
This movie screening will take place in a large auditorium with hundreds of seats in northwest Tucson (near Orange Grove and I-10).
After the movie, Going Against GMOs author Melissa Diane Smith will give an update on the local grassroots movement that’s building against Mon$anto’s plans: She’ll provide details about five open public meetings—one in each district—that begin January 9th to the 19th and explain many different ways to take action against Mon$anto.
This must-not-miss community event is organized by concerned citizens of Pima County in cooperation with GMO Free Arizona, GMO Free Baja Arizona, March Against Monsanto Tucson, and Organic, Sustainable Baja Arizona.
https://www.facebook.com/events/153079711842632/

monsantoNext, Public meetings on Monsanto proposal begin next week in Pima County. For those who live around me,  5 p.m., Monday, Jan. 9, Oro Valley Public Library, 1305 W. Naranja Drive.  More backstore here: http://tucson.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/public-meetings-on-monsanto-proposal-begin-next-week-in-pima/article_7867ea4f-614d-530c-afe4-10aa5b2a71c3.html

Then there’s Tucson’s version of the Women’s March on Washington:

The Women’s March will begin at 10 a.m. on Jan. 21 at Armory Park, 221 S. Sixth Street, and proceed for just over a half-mile to the Joel D. Valdez Library Park, 101 N. Stone Avenue, where marchers will join the Tucson Solidarity Rally at noon.1

In DC there shall be…

…more than 100,000 people [who] have registered their plans to attend the Women’s March on Washington in what is expected to be the largest demonstration linked to Donald Trump’s inauguration and a focal point for activists on the left who have been energized in opposing his agenda.2

That’s all for now.  More next week.

1http://www.arizonawomensmarch.com/tucson
2https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/it-started-with-a-grandmother-in-hawaii-now-the-womens-march-on-washington-is-poised-to-be-the-biggest-inauguration-demonstration/2017/01/03/8af61686-c6e2-11e6-bf4b-2c064d32a4bf_story.html?utm_term=.d267458cd2b6

Who to Help and Who to Kill

December 31, 2016

Volunteering

Because we adjuncts are so poorly paid at Pima College, I have pretended that I’m getting twice the pay half of the time, and the other half of the time I’m volunteering.  But I continue, even though I meant to completely retire. When the head of the department, at the end of the semester, said that one of the instructors for the Writing Fundamentals class had bowed out, and asked if I would teach another class, I said yes.

senior-transI’ve also decided that I need to help more than my students.  (Did connect on of my students last semester to Helping Hands for Single Moms, which provides scholarships and services for single mom college student families.)  Shall be going through orientation for ICS (Interfaith Community Services) – Helping Seniors and Individuals with Disabilities Stay Safe and Independent, as a Senior Services Driver – providing transportation to doctor’s appointments, the pharmacy, the grocery store, etc.1

I know that it’s more than the transportation, but the companionship. When I had done Christmas at Primavera1, which has a temporary shelter for the homeless south of town, (with my mother and possibly my children – it was years ago), we were asked not only to bring food,  but to sit and listen to their individual stories.

Sure, this is through a church group, and most of you know that I don’t go to church, as I can plainly see that if there is a god, he or she doesn’t micromanage, or we wouldn’t have such horrible natural disasters, wars, diseases, and overpopulation, so prayer does nothing.  But if churches, synagogues, mosques want to help others, I’m all for that.

Charity

I believe that I got ripped off.  A few months ago a couple of young people at a table outside Lee Lee International Supermarket were asking for contributions to ChildFund International Guardian Angels.  The brochures were glossy and the pitch sounded legit.  But they said that I had to sign up for at least $30/ month to sponsor a child.  They took my email address to send the receipt, and since then I have gotten at least two junk emails a day for EnhanceMind IQ <EnhanceMind@nd1.kndrako.site>, Military Flashlight <Military@nd1.kndrako.site>, Choice Home Warranty <Choice@clouacierl.xyz>, and so on.  It took me a while of tossing them into the Junk Email folder to realize that I should Block them.  (Done.)  But after three months I tryied to cancel the money being taken out automatically on my credit card by ChildFund, and hadn’t gotten an answer since my email on December 18, nor a returned call from a message I left (with an actual person) on December 22.  Finally, a chirpy woman called on December 27 to say that yes, they’d cancel but wouldn’t I like to give only $10 a month.  Apparently that had always been a choice, but it was not given to me.  I declined.  Here is a lawyer’s take on the charity:

childfund
The ‘Kids Wish Network’… has doled out less than three cents for every dollar contributed over the last ten years. $110 million donated by people thinking they were helping sick kids has gone into their own pockets. Another $4.8 million has gone to the founder and his consulting firms. It’s rather shameless that on their own website they claim 100% of donations to “Kids Wish Network’s Guardian Angel Fund will go directly to supporting our kids through our services and programs.” I sense some lawyerly dissemination there. Do they mean the donations go directly to the kids, or that they go to their companies which operate the charity and ‘support’ kids? That second interpretation is MUCH different from suggesting the money goes straight to the kids and I suspect it’s what is actually going on.

The strange thing is that apparently watchdog groups think a legitimate charity should spend about 35% of donations on direct aid. If you’re good enough to really pick a great name, throw together a great website with a link for donations, and then get some great pictures of sick or hungry kids (remember Sally Struthers and the Child Fund?) you can operate a legal money-making machine on a grand scale. If you keep your overhead low you should have no problems tossing a few dollars here and there to real charitable causes to get close to the 35% guideline and stay off the bad list. I mean, hey – if you bring in $200,000 this year you can spare $50,000 if it goes to a soup kitchen or something. Of course running one of these fake charities really depends on your ability to stomach all that ripping off of well-meaning people who think they are trying to help some dying three-year old kid in Africa. But if you can do that then you are in business.3

Who to Kill

Interesting article: Self-driving cars are already deciding who to kill.4  I thought I had already written about the trolley problem, an ethical conundrum, but I can’t find it in any old blog.  This from Wikipedia:

trolley_problemThe general form of the problem is this: There is a runaway trolley barreling down the railway tracks. Ahead, on the tracks, there are five people tied up and unable to move. The trolley is headed straight for them. You are standing some distance off in the train yard, next to a lever. If you pull this lever, the trolley will switch to a different set of tracks. However, you notice that there is one person on the side track. You have two options: (1) Do nothing, and the trolley kills the five people on the main track. (2) Pull the lever, diverting the trolley onto the side track where it will kill one person. Which is the most ethical choice?

So the programmers of the Autonomous Vehicles have to decide who to kill:

The most well-known issues in AV ethics are trolley problems — moral questions dating back to the era of trolleys that ask whose lives should be sacrificed in an unavoidable crash. For instance, if a person falls onto the road in front of a fast-moving AV, and the car can either swerve into a traffic barrier, potentially killing the passenger, or go straight, potentially killing the pedestrian, what should it do?4

“Poetry”

NPR discussed Ring Lardner this morning.  He wrote poems about when each of the boys were born. His wife insisted they name Ring Jr. after himself, so he writes,5

When you are christened Ringworm, by humorists and wits
When people pun about you, till they drive you into fits
When funny folks say ‘Ring, ring off!’ until they make you ill
Remember that your poor old dad tried hard to name you Bill.

1https://www.icstucson.org/
2http://www.primavera.org/index_flash.html
3https://lawyerrant.wordpress.com/favorite-scams/fake-charity-scam/
4http://www.msn.com/en-us/money/technologyinvesting/self-driving-cars-are-already-deciding-who-to-kill/ar-BBxI6mq?li=BBnbfcL&ocid=mailsignout
5http://www.npr.org/2016/12/31/507595363/lost-journalism-revisits-the-golden-age-of-ring-lardner

Santaland

December 23, 2016

xmas-colorsStarted this two days before Christmas, then got busy.  (Photo of Tucson’s Christmas colors.)

It’s not even close to beginning to look a lot like Christmas.  The desert outside my window is in shades of tan, grey, chartreuse (Pantone 362 – the palo verdes), and a turquoise green (Pantone 374 – the prickly pears).  But after our rain the past few days, the clouds got snagged on the mountains, so Mt Lemmon probably has snow.

david-sedaris-as-elfAt least I’m not tired of Christmas carols yet.  Did not even step into a mall. Tried to find a kid’s toy at Target and got frustrated. Plus I don’t even remember what cheery music they were playing.  So got a couple of gift certificates and ordered everything else online.

But what made my day today (so far – I shall be making Christmas cookies with the kids soon) was hearing David Sedaris read from his Santaland Diaries on NPR this morning.  (Photo here of author David Sedaris in his actual Macy’s elf costume.)
http://one.npr.org/?sharedMediaId=506475364:506687049

La Encantada

I thought it would be nice to take the kids to see the lights at Tohono Chul (Holiday Nights, A Million Lights!) the weekend before Christmas, but it was pricey ($16 apiece, for six of us), so my fake-snowdaughter suggested seeing La Encantada’s “Enchanted Snowfall”, which was free.

Enchanted Snowfall will take place in the gorgeous Tucson Lifestyle Courtyard at La Encantada… delicate sprinkles of snow will cascade to the ground and fill the shopping center… keep toasty with hot chocolate from Williams Sonoma.
http://www.arizonafoothillsmagazine.com/tucson/tucson-travel-and-leisure/1561-la-encantadas-enchanted-snowfall.html

Don’t ever do this!  There was one Christmas tree, “artistically” decorated (read sparingly), and some garlands on the second floor handrails.  The “snow” was made of soap bubbles, which did not fill the shopping center, but made us cough.  The free hot chocolate was in 4 oz paper cups.  And there were three women with screechy voices, singing Christmas carols into a not-very-good sound system.  (Photo of me, my daughter, and granddaughter, taken between coughs.)

Cookies

img_6643 img_6644img_6642This is always fun, but having seven people (my son was in from out-of-town too) in my daughter’s kitchen was cozy.  We made walnut kiefel, pecan butterballs, chocolate spritz, and peppermint cookies, as well as the decorated sugar cookies.

img_6640 img_6638 img_6635I took a plate of the cookies to my next-door-neighbor the next day, and heard a bit of gossip about the neighborhood.

CAS Holiday Party

bear-grassThe TMA Contemporary Art Society Holiday Party was a couple of weeks ago at Tucson’s Museum of Contemporary Art, which is housed downtown in what used to be a fire station.

creosoteThe current show, Aranda\Lasch and Terrol Dew Johnson | Meeting the Clouds Halfway,  is quite nice.  Terrol Dew Johnson is a Tohono Oodham basketweaver, and this new work blends traditional Native  American craft with contemporary design.  (Benjamin Aranda and Chris Lasch, who collaborated with him, are architects, http://arandalasch.com/, as well as artists.)  The show runs through the end of January.

Terrol’s favorite is the endless knot with creosote (top right), but I liked the hanging one done with bear grass.  His work is in permanent collections of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian, Washington, D.C., and the Heard Museum
http://nationalbasketry.org/artist-profile-terrol-dew-johnson/, so it is quite pricey.

Christmas Day

My daughter and her family drove up to Fountain Hills (northeast of Phoenix) on the day before Christmas, to exchange gifts with the inlaws, so the grandchildren already had a surfeit of toys, but with Santa’s presents, their parents’ and my presents, there were enough toys (and clothes, and books) for all of the children of Gabon.

But everyone seemed to like their gifts.  My granddaughter liked the hamster T-shirt (she has a pet hamster), the cat liked the boxes, the middle grandson liked his bicycle helmet with a Mohawk, the youngest can’t be pried away from his Pretend & Play Cash Register, the decor was fun (including the fake fire in the fireplace), and the breakfast (my daughter’s traditional sticky buns), dinner (scalloped potatoes, roast, veggies, mostly prepared by my son), and dessert (rum cake, with whipped cream) were fab.  All in all, one of the more successful holidays.

Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

img_6675img_6676img_6666

img_6654img_6650

Last Minute Xmas Gifts

December 18, 2016

mouse-slippersMost of you know that you can buy slippers to look like animals, or “bear” feet, or even Dory slippers1, but here are a few more interesting ones.2foot-shoes

fish-sandals

grass2

A couple of years ago for her birthday I gave my daughter a pair of grass flip-flops (left).3 Too weird for her.mouse-mouse

 

Then there is the mouse-mouse.4 Thought to give my son one,  but as he has to kill mice in his epigenetics lab, I figured it might be A Bit Much.

 

 

Photos I Can’t Look At

world-trad-center
An architect I knew had a huge photo of the guys on the beam on his wall.  I couldn’t look at it.rockefeller-beam-workers-lunch-construction

The iconic photograph of workers enjoying their break whilst perched on a beam 69 floors up was, in fact, just a publicity stunt… taken on September 20, 1932… during the construction of the RCA Building (later renamed the GE Building in 1986).5

A publicity stunt meaning they were 69 floors up, but they didn’t usually eat lunch up there!  Here is a short documentary on it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MiYn9d1CAto More of those terrifying photos!

The one in color (above, left) was in an ad in the NY Times Magazine.  Jamison Walsh on the spire of 1 World Trade Center, photo by Jimmy Chin for The New York Times6  Here’s a video of the photographer at the top! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FYP95WJmW3o

1http://www.skarro.com/fuzzy-plush-animal-cartoon-feet-bunny-slippers/
2http://www.designswan.com/archives/unusual-and-creepy-shoes-design.html=7pt3M8oPEF9C-M%3A
3https://notesfromthewest.wordpress.com/2012/08/11/the-ovens-a-dry-heat-too-%e2%80%8f/
4http://www.instructables.com/id/Mouse-Mouse!/”>http://www.instructables.com/id/Mouse-Mouse!/”>http://www.instructables.com/id/Mouse-Mouse!/
5http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2206050/The-picture-proves-iconic-photograph-workers-eating-lunch-Rockefeller-beam-publicity-stunt.html#ixzz4TEdyQIlJ
6http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/06/05/magazine/new-york-life.html?_r=0

 

Mea Culpa

December 16, 2016

My favorite columnist, Nicholas Kristof, skewered me in his column, The Dangers of Echo Chambers on Campus

We champion tolerance, except for conservatives and evangelical Christians. We want to be inclusive of people who don’t look like usso long as they think like ushttp://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/10/opinion/sunday/the-dangers-of-echo-chambers-on-campus.html?rref=collection%2Fcolumn%2Fnicholas-kristof&action=click&contentCollection=opinion&region=stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest&contentPlacement=1&pgtype=collection&_r=0

walking-stickspeak-englishWalking stick on my back wall yesterday morning.  Put my fingers in the photo for scale.

And a cute article a friend had on her Facebook page.

 

 

Satire

Scientists: Earth Endangered by New Strain of Fact-Resistant Humans

“Scientists: Earth Endangered by New Strain of Fact-Resistant Humans,” by Andy Borowitz (May 12th)“Scientists: Earth Endangered by New Strain of Fact-Resistant Humans,” by Andy Borowitz (May 12th) PHOTOGRAPH BY NASA EO/REX/FEATURES VIA AP

MINNEAPOLIS (The Borowitz Report)—Scientists have discovered a powerful new strain of fact-resistant humans who are threatening the ability of Earth to sustain life, a sobering new study reports.

The research, conducted by the University of Minnesota, identifies a virulent strain of humans who are virtually immune to any form of verifiable knowledge, leaving scientists at a loss as to how to combat them.

“These humans appear to have all the faculties necessary to receive and process information,” Davis Logsdon, one of the scientists who contributed to the study, said. “And yet, somehow, they have developed defenses that, for all intents and purposes, have rendered those faculties totally inactive.”

More worryingly, Logsdon said, “As facts have multiplied, their defenses against those facts have only grown more powerful.”

While scientists have no clear understanding of the mechanisms that prevent the fact-resistant humans from absorbing data, they theorize that the strain may have developed the ability to intercept and discard information en route from the auditory nerve to the brain. “The normal functions of human consciousness have been completely nullified,” Logsdon said.

While reaffirming the gloomy assessments of the study, Logsdon held out hope that the threat of fact-resistant humans could be mitigated in the future. “Our research is very preliminary, but it’s possible that they will become more receptive to facts once they are in an environment without food, water, or oxygen,” he said.

Andy Borowitz is a New York Times best-selling author and a comedian who has written for The New Yorker since 1998. He writes the Borowitz Report for newyorker.com.  http://www.newyorker.com/humor/borowitz-report/scientists-earth-endangered-by-new-strain-of-fact-resistant-humans

Melania shall not move into White House

President-elect Donald Trump confirmed Sunday that future first lady Melania Trump and their 10-year-old son, Barron, will remain in New York after he becomes president, as first reported in the New York Post…

Melania Trump’s decision to not to live in the White House, at least for now, appears unprecedented. Nearly every first lady has taken up residence there. According to the White House Historical Association, George Washington and his wife, Martha Washington, did not live in the White House because it hadn’t been built yet. Also, first lady Anna Harrison, whose husband, William Henry Harrison, was the ninth president of the United States, never moved into the executive mansion because her husband died one month after his swearing-in.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/reliable-source/wp/2016/11/20/melania-trump-and-son-barron-will-reportedly-stay-in-new-york-after-the-presidential-inauguration/?utm_term=.38a43bb53211

trump-familyConsequently,

Protecting Donald Trump and his family members costs New York City more than $1 million every day, city officials said.

The expenses come as city police have been assigned to Trump, his adult children and his grandchildren, who all live in New York and can receive Secret Service protection…

The steep costs are not expected to dip very much once Trump is inaugurated because his wife, Melania Trump, and their 10-year-old son, Barron, are not moving to the White House, at least until Barron is done with school, CNN Money reported. Trump has also said he plans to frequently return to New York.

NYPD officers are protecting Trump and his family through security posts around Trump Tower and by assisting Secret Service at screening checkpoints.

http://time.com/4579340/new-york-city-trump-protect-money/

Imagine if Melania said, no, my son should not cost the city of New York $400 million.  We’ll (sigh) live in the White House.  Give that $400 million, instead, to the New York City School District to build a new school in the poorest section of the city.  (As if.)

A Scandalous Painting

December 10, 2016

workmenNPR was talking about Gustave Caillebotte last year and his “scandalous” painting of shirtless workmen (back in 1875, when the Impressionists were scandalizing everyone, his painting was called “crude” and “anti-artistic”).  The Academy of Fine Arts in ladiesParis would not take his work, so his pals (Monet, Renoir) talked him into showing with them at the Second Impressionist Exhibition.

The Floor Scrapers (6′ 4″ x 4′ 9″) is pretty nice, but when looking at his works (online, as I am not presently in DC), that are at the National Gallery, I started giggling at this one, Portraits in the rainy dayCountryside, noticing the woman on the left with her iPhone.  He is best known for the painting Paris Street, Rainy Day.

http://www.nga.gov/content/ngaweb/exhibitions/2015/gustave-caillebotte.html

Connect the Dots

December 4, 2016

Climate change is hard to think about not only because it’s complex and politically contentious, not only because it’s cognitively almost impossible to keep in mind the intricate relationships that tie together an oil well in Venezuela, Siberian permafrost, Saudi F-15s bombing a Yemeni wedding, subsidence along the Jersey Shore, albedo effect near Kangerlussuaq, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, the polar vortex, shampoo, California cattle, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, leukemia, plastic, paper, the Sixth Extinction, Zika, and the basic decisions we make every day, are forced to make every day, in a world we didn’t choose but were thrown into. No, it’s not just because it’s mind-bendingly difficult to connect the dots. Climate change is hard to think about because it’s depressing and scary.1

This is from (of course) the New York Times, a month and a half ago.  It took me a while to find the 15 connections.  I had never heard of the Sixth Extinction, so I read Elizabeth Kolbert’s book, The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History.  Had to research the albedo effect near Kangerlussuaq, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, the polar vortex, shampoo.  So a challenge to you too.

You might also like to read the entire article, entitled When the Next Hurricane Hits Texas.  Great photo from the hurricane in 2008.

hurricane

The Worst Word in the English Language

…the website of Oxford Dictionaries called off its search for the worst word in the English language before I got a chance to have my say. When the survey was halted — the Oxford folks said that too many people were sending in offensive or insulting words — the word “moist” was in the lead…

I no longer think that the word I most dread in the English language is “maintenance.” That realization came to me not long ago, when I was in my car, by myself, at a red light. Ordinarily, I would have been thinking about the points and plugs of my car…

And here we come to the word in the English language that I now most dread: “Upgrade…”

Here’s how I imagine an upgrade to a computer operating system comes about. In the offices of a tech company in some West Coast loft building, Jason and Justin, two impossibly young-looking techies, are having a desultory conversation after finishing their 10th Ping-Pong game of the day. They’re killing time until the weekly foosball tournament starts.

“You know,” Jason says, “I think most of them are getting so they can find their calendars and their contacts pretty easily.” (“Them” is Jason’s word for grown-ups.)

“Remember how much fun it was to complicate the way to get to contacts on that smartphone we worked on?” Justin asks.

“Are you thinking what I’m thinking?” Jason replies. An expression of intense anticipation comes over their faces. They resemble the fraternity boys in “Animal House” just before someone yells “Food fight!” Suddenly, Jason and Justin shout in unison, “Upgrade!”2

I have to agree with Calvin Trillin.  (He’s an American journalist, humorist, food writer, poet, memoirist and novelist.  One of his most famous quotes is, The most remarkable thing about my mother is that for thirty years she served the family nothing but leftovers. The original meal has never been found.)  Read the entire article – it’s quite humorous.  And see my blog on that subject, when I upgraded.3

Cuba

I have no comment on Castro’s death.  But I do recommend that you read Cuba Diaries: An American Housewife in Havana, by Isadora Tattlin.  One of our art group recommended it, and I read it before we went to Cuba in 2012.  You can read my blogs, starting with this one: https://notesfromthewest.wordpress.com/2012/06/01/cuba-day-1/

Work

Shall get a pile of essays on Wednesday. (That supplements my weight training.)  My last day of school is December 16th.  Have gotten to like most of these students.  Shall I miss teaching?  Yes and no.

1http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/09/opinion/sunday/when-the-hurricane-hits-texas.html?_r=0
2
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/25/books/review/calvin-trillin-on-the-scariest-word.html?_r=0
3https://notesfromthewest.wordpress.com/2015/07/11/computers/

Yes!

December 1, 2016

Charlie Rangel was being interviewed on NPR two weeks ago, but here is the web version from CBS:

Rangel, Boxer Propose Constitutional Amendment Abolishing Electoral College

WASHINGTON, D.C. (CBSNewYork) — Congressman Charlie Rangel (D-NY) has introduced a bill proposing a constitutional amendment that would abolish the Electoral College.

The move would allow future presidential elections to be decided by the popular vote.

“It is time that we do away the antiquated and obsolete Electoral College system. True democracy should guarantee one person, one vote,” Rangel said.

Rangel’s bill is a House companion to S.J.Res.41 — a bill that was introduced by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) earlier this week.1

Animals Run Amok

Runner gets hit by deer.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zGwwxD_vD_8

queens-coyoteCoyote, that denizen of the desert, hangs out in Queens, NY.

Squirrel attacks bicyclist.

Bicycle-Riding Chicago Alderman Injured In Squirrel Attack. Howard Brookins had raised the alarm about “aggressive squirrels” wreaking damage on trash cans in his community. The Chicago Tribune reports that two weeks later he was jumped by a kamikaze squirrel.2

finn-recital-2Family

Went to grandson’s piano recital.

 

 

 

 

rusalkaTook granddaughter to the Arizona Opera to see Rusalka, a very dark version of The Little Mermaid.  Definitely not Disney.

 

 

 

 

 

Then dr-strangetook grandson to see the recent movie Doctor Strange, with Benedict Cumberbatch as Dr. Stephen Strange, a Marvel Comics superhero, and Tilda Swinton as the Ancient One.  I like superheroes.  But Marvel got ‘whitewashing’ criticisms over Tilda Swinton’s casting.  The mystical character is of Tibetan descent in its original Marvel Comics depiction, so Marvel’s casting of Swinton, a white Scottish woman, for the role has generated controversy.3

park2
My daughter had a combined birthday party for all three kids at the park down the street from her house, complete with a jumping castle, a cotton candy machine, and piñatas.  That was Sunday, when the clouds blew over from California, and it grew “cold” (which in Tucson is 57°) and windy, so that all of the candles on the cakes could not be lit at once.  Luckily it did not rain until nighttime.  I will add that it got down to freezing the past two nights.

me-lyn-price2Thanksgiving

As I usually do, spent Thanksgiving and the next couple of days with friends in San Diego.  (Photo of the three of us at my birthday party.)  Great dinner for ten.

 

 

 

 

 

Next me-butterfield-horseday went to Balboa park to see the museums.  First to the San Diego Museum of Art, which was showing Louis Kahn: The Power of Architecture.  Then my friend got a photo of me with a Deborah Butterfield horse which was different than her others (dead). My hand is above it as we can’t touch the art. (I have mentioned her horses in many blogs.3)

 

 

 

Aftererik-gronborg3 a lovely lunch at The Prado we were on to the Mingei International Museum.  Here a photo of Erik Gronborg’s living room in Solana Beach, complete with wooden crows.  The exhibition covers…

…Danish-born American artist’s creative life over fifty-five years… this project brings together examples of Gronborg’s sculpture in cast bronze, carved wood, and other media, as well as studio furniture and a comprehensive survey of his ceramics.

Another exhibition we enjoyed was: Layers of Brilliance: The Journey of Japanese Lacquer Tools.

Thatwhite-xmas evening we went to the Spreckles Theatre to see a stage adaptation of the classic film, Irving Berlin’s White Christmas.  The plot was from 1954, but the dancing was fantastic!  I would love to be able to kick straight up!

1http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2016/11/17/rangel-electoral-college/
2http://www.npr.org/2016/11/23/503108904/bicycle-riding-chicago-alderman-injured-in-squirrel-attack
3http://variety.com/2016/film/news/doctor-strange-whitewashing-tilda-swinton-marvel-1201762267/
4https://notesfromthewest.wordpress.com/2014/08/26/denver/
https://notesfromthewest.wordpress.com/2014/02/25/palm-springs/
https://notesfromthewest.wordpress.com/2010/07/05/taking-flight-again
https://notesfromthewest.wordpress.com/2010/03/08/quirky-art/