A, C, D

Sep. 19th, 2017 08:28 am
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It dawned on me the other day that the US issues that worry me most* can be summarized by the first few letters of the alphabet. There is so much going on that a frightening number of people are unaware that the ACA might really be destroyed in the next couple of weeks by the heartless GOP.
Short, terrifying summary (the vote is expected before a new CBO score could happen:
https://mobile.twitter.com/ASlavitt/status/908072873964826624/photo/1
Clear, almost snide opinion piece
https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/wp/2017/09/18/on-health-care-cassidy-flunks-his-own-jimmy-kimmel-test/?utm_term=.692efd8a31ea

I called my parents' senators about C-G last week while I was in NC. I thought about going to DC today to participate in the rally outside the Capitol building (it's at 12:15, if you're around), but decided to send the money that would be spent on transportation by donating to organizations like Indivisible. Bernie's timing promoting single-payer, as is often the case, seems self-aggrandizing rather than useful. It's a good idea, but right now we need to save lives that depend on the current system.

Updated - saw on twitter that Senator Murkowski (R) AK is accepting out of state calls, so I'm on hold, listening to patriotic music played by a brass band, presumably one of the military bands. Hard to beat the Stars and Stripes Forever ( about the fifth song I heard. The phone answerer was surprised to hear that I was calling from MA, so maybe it was just a rumor, but I thanked her).

Or, alphabetically, (ADA), one could worry about the House instead, and oppose HR 620. That's a bad thing, but proportionally the effects won't be as (literally) deadly as Cassidy-Graham.
https://www.aclu.org/other/hr-620-myths-and-truths-about-ada-education-and-reform-act

And of course, there is the whole DACA business.

*(other than individual things like three people dying in a bus crash in NYC yesterday)
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I follow the Adverts 250 project on twitter, seeing every day ads about US enslaved people from 1767 (currently) in newspapers. There is a much more detailed web site, but the ads are the same in either format. A couple of days ago, I noticed the sixth one down on this page (I can't figure out how to isolate the image)
which says "To be sold for no fault, but want of Employ, a strong healthy Negro man, aged about 36 years, who understands the sawing business, and is very suitable for a master builder or cabinet maker. Inquire of Edes and Gill."
https://adverts250project.org/2017/09/14/slavery-advertisements-published-september-14-1767/
The ad was printed in the Boston-Gazette. The names tugged at me, and I realized that the re-enacted print shop near Old North was theirs. They currently mostly print a version of the Constitution, but they are clear about the link to the Gazette and the proprietors.
http://oldnorth.com/printing-office-of-edes-gill/
http://bostongazette.org/about/
What the sites don't mention (among many other things, no doubt) was the slavery connection. Can I reasonably expect someone who was part of the "Sons of Liberty" (Edes) to have turned down paying customers who were happy depriving other people of their own liberty? I love that building, and like the press, and this is pissing me off. One of the historical advisors of the shop is J.L. Bell. I am coincidentally reading one of his books, "The Road to Concord," the thesis of which is that the whole Patriot's day ruckus was over some stolen cannon, not powder, so much. (I'm over-simplifying). Bell also follows the Adverts 250 project on twitter (along with hundreds of other people, several of whom I also follow). I am tempted to send JLB a personal message asking why the slavery issue is ignored by the shop, but I expect that would just get me blocked, and I haven't had the nerve to ask Gary the printer in person, either.
To be accurate, I think the original bunch of guys calling themselves Sons of Liberty were named after the Liberty Tree on the common, and they were formed to fight the Stamp Act of 1765, but still. Liberty is in the name.

(unrelated, I also have a question about a passing 1766 reference to the bells in "the Road to Concord" that has insufficient source citations).
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In a good way. There is a documentary about the Avett Brothers called "May it Last" that I gather will eventually show on HBO, but it played in cinemas "One Night Only" nationwide yesterday (except for a few hurricane-hit places, which may show it later). We attended one of the shows at the Landmark Kendall. The other greater Boston locations (Liberty Tree mall in Danvers, Framingham) only had the one 7 PM show, but Kendall had several over the course of the evening. I suspect if it had a regular theatrical run we would have meant to see it, been too busy, and then missed it, but since it was our only chance (we don't have HBO), we made an effort to shift around our plans. Recommended, although I don't know if a recommendation is useful, since it's gone. We think that the teenage girls a couple of rows behind us must have caught sight of themselves during a concert audience shot near the end, because they erupted in shrieks of laughter.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=edZVme0pUzg
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After short visits (over decades) to Aruba, the Bahamas, and Puerto Rico, I felt that I had had enough Caribbean exposure to last - I live near a coast, why go so far for a beach? (in the case of PR, we went to Arecibo and the rain forest). Now I'm wondering whether it would be helpful in the next year or two to take my tourist dollars directly to some of the islands whomped by Irma. Antigua has taken in all of the residents of their fellow island Barbuda. They will need many kinds of support, including, as their ambassador told NPR this morning, a way to squeeze 500 kids into their schools immediately, since the school year has already begun. The One America Fund seems to be only supporting Texas and Florida, not the US Virgin Islands or Puerto Rico. https://www.oneamericaappeal.org/ I will send money in the short term, but after a while they might need business, not charity.
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These birds were on the window ledge on the 22nd floor of a hotel in the Kendall area of Miami. The windows don't open, so the people who have been concerned on the internet that nobody opened the windows for the birds aren't really helping.



This week's Masterpiece Mystery episode of "Endeavor," (which I watched last night on a re-broadcast) had a parrot as a character (and plot point).

I did the lesson on Russian pet words yesterday. I already knew the words for dog and cat (two separate cat words, gender-specific). I had not heard the word for parrot (попугай, pronounced popoogye, more or less), but after a couple of repetitions, I said to myself "that's the Italian word." The Italian is actually pappagallo, but close enough that it's clearly a cognate. This leads to the questions 1) why borrow from Italian, instead of some Amazonian word?
2. How did I know it was from Italian? If I look at "pappagallo," I am primarily reminded of radio ads of my youth for a store that sold Pappagallo shoes
https://www.etsy.com/market/pappagallo_shoes
Once I started checking, it turns out from online translations that the German, Portuguese, and Esperanto words are also Papag something or other. Even Finnish "papukaija," but not French, Spanish, Hebrew, Irish, or others I checked.
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It's been a day for that. First was this astoundingly well edited Marvel reel:
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=DEBjh_MTNzQ
Normally my inclination would be to skip fight scenes if possible, but there they all were, and I was staring, transfixed.

If someone had told us we needed to see a movie about adultery with a portrait painter in the milieu of the tulip bubble, we would have scoffed, but then we saw the trailer
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Thtm0jOZM54
We pondered almost literally running out to see it at that very minute, but decided that we have other stuff to do today, and can wait until it's playing in Lexington, rather than being enforced into lounge chairs at the Burlington 10 (or travel farther). Or wait until it's on demand, and stand right up next to the TV, mouths hanging open at the gorgeous representation of 17th century Netherlands. Unlike some costume dramas that I avoid, in this case I will be tempted to scream "put your clothes back on" during the nude scenes. I know what bodies look like, in general. I need more close-ups of the garments.
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Pick those people up, and move them all to some (unspecified) other part of Texas, built from scratch. It would only cost hundreds of billions of dollars, which might not be much more than trying to rebuild a city that shouldn't have been as big, situated inside flood plains, next to chemical plants or pathogen labs* or leaky refineries.
We know people who live in Houston, but in the usual way, they're either economists or bellringers, who are better off than many of the flood victims.
*The Galveston National Laboratory is, well, in Galveston, but it's nearby. Also shocking, to me. I can't think of anything but the Mighty Storm of 1900 when I hear "Galveston," and I wouldn't have built anything there, modernly. But I'm not in charge
youtube.com/watch?v=eocXA1e6XRM

2/3 of Bangladesh is flooded. I can't even imagine that. Where is George Harrison when we need him?

Byron Rushing, on the likelihood of the Boston area being under water:
"Want to know if you're prone to flooding, get an 1815 map of Boston, your streets not there? Buy an inflatable boat."
Flo and Arthur dismissed my plan to buy an axe to store in the attic, for roof access, as we live at least six miles from any river (Concord, Assabet, Charles, Mystic) and farther from the ocean. And we're on a hill. Still, I am reviewing our homeowners' insurance today, with an eye to flood coverage. I also check the sump pump regularly.
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In preparation for the week in Russia in the fall, I have been using the Mango study program available for tablet through the public library. There have been lots of things I don't need. - they seem to think one will subsist on vodka and caviar (an exaggeration - there are a few other items). I am not planning to buy anything bigger than a postcard; definitely not fur. I suppose I might break down and get something more. The last time I was there, I bought a poster of the periodic table in Russian for a chemist friend. Not planned, and inconvenient to carry, but he liked it. The lessons on health problems seem potentially useful, although I hope not. I've used one of them above, though. It means "I have a toothache" (literally "By me hurts tooth.")
Based entirely on x-ray evidence of decay near the root (no pain, totally functional), tooth #18 has had its old amalgam removed, a root canal, an extension, and the accompanying temporary crown. The second I got out of the chair almost three weeks ago, I said to the hygienist "it's not right." She said I was still numb, and should see how I felt later. Later I re-read the disclaimer pages and decided that maybe the tooth was loose. In the meantime, I have only been in Massachusetts for four or five business days. They don't work on weekends. Instead of feeling better, it is worse physically (Я чувствую себя хуже) and I sometimes lie awake in discomfort and self-loathing, because I didn't trust my initial perception. I will go tomorrow without an appointment and wait until they have time to do *something.*

Donations

Aug. 27th, 2017 02:32 pm
lauradi7dw: (Default)
To begin with, I'm donating to:
http://www.texasdiaperbank.org/
And
http://www.portlight.org/
It has been stressed that if you give to the Red Cross, you must specify the disaster you're helping with, because otherwise the moneyngoes into a general fund.
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We saw a total eclipse in Aruba in 1998, so we knew how wonderful it is. Arthur and I both were also under its shadow, more or less, sometime during our childhoods, but his mother made them stay in to avoid the temptation of looking at the sun, and I totally misconstrued the idea of a pinhole cardboard contraption, making the hole too big (in an All-American way of presuming bigger is better, I guess). Our plan was to go to South Carolina by car from my parents' house in NC. I had originally considered Columbia, because the museums and parks there were making a big deal of it, but we went for the much smaller town of St Stephens, thinking less crowded would be better. On the morning of Eclipse day, we decided based on weather forecasts that Columbia would be more likely after all, and hit the road. On the way, we looked up vegetarian lunch options, and chose the Lambs Bread vegan cafe. http://lambsbreadvegan.restaurantwebexpert.com/
The line was to the door, they kept erasing choices from the white board, and service was slow. The woman behind us, who lives in the neighborhood, said she had never seen it like that, so there must have been lots of eclipse tourists added to the usual lunchtime bunch of locals. I guess we waited about an hour, but the food was great and we'd be happy to have such a place near us.
The museum gathering was sold out, the state park was full, and the large yard of a church where people had set up cameras and beach towels just didn't seem right to me, so we carried on, uphill, searching for clear views, cursing the clouds. We stopped at many shopping plaza parking lots to check progress, and saw people at all of those plus others, looking through their glasses at the eaten-up sun. Very close to totality, we picked the parking lot right in front of an Office Depot. This is quoting myself, from a comment to Amaebi
>>The viewing was excellent, the company of sky-watching strangers was good, and it was fun to watch the store workers take turns rushing in and out so that they all a had a chance to see. But our options for listening to non-human creatures were limited. Hearing people shriek and cheer was companionable, because I was doing the same thing. Next time I will try to plan for birds.<< Also somewhere darker for the darkness - a parking lot near a city has light pollution, I guess. The darkness during the eclipse was dark, but not as profound as it was on the beach in Aruba, where I remember yelling "There's Venus!" in 1998. We could not see anything in the sky on Monday other than the main attraction.
The vibe of the whole city was festive, and everyone seemed happy to be with other people. I am trying to frame a clear transition sentence here. I kind of agree with the song from Avenue Q that "everyone's a little bit racist" but I'm working on it, as a personal project. Whether I'm certifiably racist or sexist or whatever, I do tend to put people in conventional boxes in my head (by skin color, gender identity, sexuality, politics, class, vegetarian or not, etc). Columbia is about half and half POC (mostly African American) and white people, and while that seems normal to me based on my Southern upbringing, I did notice it. When I first moved to Massachusetts, I kept wondering why there were (percentage wise) so many white people, because it wasn't my experience growing up. I went to a segregated school until about 5th grade (possibly not legally, because it was post-Brown vs School Board)*, and there was a ruckus when the first AA family joined our church, but the level of on the street or in a store segregation that I saw in MA wasn't possible in NC. At any rate, in most of the places we went in Columbia on Monday we seemed to be in a slight minority, and it was all happy happy joy joy. Apparently not always. The very next day I learned (or was reminded) the Dylann Roof was a Columbia native, and the Columbia described in this article was not all fun and games
(it's very long. Read the whole thing)
https://www.gq.com/story/dylann-roof-making-of-an-american-terrorist/amp

* In the past couple of weeks I have been trying to describe to my daughter what it was like growing up white in the South in the 1950s and 1960s. What is different isn't that white supremacists were/are around, it's that now the Nazis and the KKK people are hanging out together, at least in demonstrations. Enough of our fathers fought in WWII that the idea of being Nazi sympathizers would not have come up. By the time I was in junior high school (7-9th grades), a county all-AA junior high school was closed down, adding all those students to our school. As desegregation goes, that may have been the bureaucratically simplest way, but it was presumably hard on people who felt school loyalty. The school bus I rode was about 1/3 black and 2/3 white students, self-segregated within the bus. During the long year leading up to the 1968 election, there were sometimes political chants on the bus. When I was talking about this, I learned that Flo had never heard of George Wallace, but he had a following on our school bus, sometimes drowned out by the Humphrey supporters. And the singing of the James Brown song "Say it loud, I'm Black and I'm proud." In my memory, people were singing along *to* James Brown, but would that have been possible? Did someone have a portable 8-track player?
In my (50 year old) memory, most of my classes were still all-white for some years, except for band and gym and Home Ec. How was that arranged? Could it possibly have been a coincidence?
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This is the somewhat shortened version of something that has been percolating for a couple of weeks. My eclipse post (soon to follow) will actually pick up on more of the underlying ideas. Short version - as I mentioned farther back, I think the statues in battlefield parks and graveyards should stay (and graves remain unmolested entirely), the other Confederate statues should come down (legally, properly, with cranes or whatever the local DPW needs), and that statues are not nearly the main offenders. I have learned a lot about the role of the Daughters of the Confederacy in the coast to coast memorials (I suppose I am technically eligible, or at least could be a great-great (etc) niece of the CSA, but I'd rather have my toenails pulled out than associate with them in any way). I was interested to see that the much-discussed traitor Robert E Lee suggested no memorials, and that his descendants are fine with the removal of his statues.
The flags have bothered me for decades. The various Nazi and CSA flags bother me even more now. In terms of learning things, I heard that in Germany (where one cannot fly a Nazi flag), the Confederate battle flag is sometimes used as a substitute.
Query - if it's supposed to be about heritage, why is nobody waving the Bonnie Blue Flag? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bonnie_Blue_Flag
It's because most people wouldn't recognize it. Everyone knows the implications of waving the battle flag.

On Tuesday, there was a big rally in Chapel Hill about removing "Silent Sam," the statue/memorial to UNC students who died fighting for the CSA. OK, but could those people have made more of a difference by attending the hearings on the new voting districts? NC has been required to change the maps, as the previous districts were set up to disenfranchise African American voters (with "surgical precision," as a judge said), but the lines are drawn to keep the Republicans in exactly the same seats, without mentioning race. Maybe the statue protesters wouldn't have mattered at the hearings, because the time was limited and not everyone got to speak as it was.
Andrew Young on the statue removals, and why the Stone Mountain carvings should remain:
http://www.npr.org/2017/08/23/545435024/civil-rights-activist-argues-to-keep-confederate-monuments
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After Trump's astounding (but not surprising) "press availability time," I tweeted: "If 131 year old G Washington had been around when Virginia seceded, which way would he have gone?" Nobody has unfollowed me yet, but I wonder whether it could be seen as endorsing what the president said. I hope not. It's more of an indication of how my mind flits about. I don't know the answer. Arthur said he thought Thomas Jefferson would have kept on sticking by the Union (that's me plagiarizing a phrase from another context). I said he was a big supporter of slavery. Arthur queried it, and I replied that he hadn't even freed the mother of his children. Arthur granted my correctness, but pointed out that GW and TJ had anticipated the trouble slavery would cause in the future. I said "they kicked the can down the road," and then of course I had to check to see whether they could have done so. Not in 1789, but TJ lived long enough to see the commercialization of canned goods.
http://www.history.com/news/hungry-history/what-it-says-on-the-tin-a-brief-history-of-canned-food

May I remark how much I dislike the expression "presser?" I understand the desire to cut out keystrokes/characters, but it's really unpleasant.
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The Qatar situation has dropped from mainstream US news, but Al Jazeera is keeping track. I was shocked to see this:
>>
Jassim bin Saif Al Sulaiti, Qatar's minister of transport and communications, met on Tuesday with Bishar Hussein, the director general of the Universal Postal Union (UPU).

The meeting comes in response to the complaint submitted by Qatar to the UPU, concerning the violations of the constitution and conventions of the Universal Postal Union (UPU) by the blockading countries, which is the first of its kind in the world and a dangerous precedent for the UPU charters.<<
http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/06/qatar-diplomatic-crisis-latest-updates-170605105550769.html

I cannot express how furious this makes me. Of the things in the world that we as human manage to get right, international cooperation about delivering the mail is in some ways the most endearing. Anybody who has access to paper and postage (which I admit doesn't include everybody) can send a letter to anybody in the world. Except not between Qatar and the Gulf jerks.

edit Not meaning to imply that this is the worst thing people are doing to each other.
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Nobody in the household remembers acquiring them, but during some recent attic clearance (hundreds of hours of sorting yet to go), we found two toy stuffed cats dressed up to be seasonal for Christmas. A friend of Flo's suggested that they came from a years-ago yard sale when friends got rid of their rambling house after a divorce. I moved the Christmas cats to the dining room, the staging area for donations about to leave the house, and there they stayed for a week or so. Two days ago, I started hearing a tinny sound. I wandered around, and discovered that one of the cats was playing Christmas melodies. After specific attention, I realized that the songs were coming out of its paw. We tried squeezing it, but couldn't get it to stop. I put it down. It stopped. Then it started again. This has now happened several times. Arthur's theory is that the battery is almost out and suddenly had a burst of trying to work at the end of its life. Beats me. We have a clock (also from a rummage sale) that has stopped abruptly three times, unrelated to its battery's life span. The first two times, I left it sitting around and then it suddenly would begin working again. This time (even with a new battery), it remains un-ticking. I haven't decided how long to wait.

In a non-battery device, our nearly forty year old toaster oven, the way to make toast (as opposed to baking or roasting) is to push down a lever and come back in a while. Several years ago, the lever started popping up right away, and it became necessary to hold it down while the toast was toasting. When Flo was here last week, she pushed down the lever and walked away. It stayed down. Toast resulted. It worked for Arthur, too, so it isn't her magic touch. This has happened several times over the years. We have no idea what makes the difference.
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No, not that one. August 6th is always very sad, as the anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima. The destruction of Nagasaki was worse, in a way, because we'd already proved that we had the worst weapon ever, and could have waited a little longer for the reality to sink in. Maybe the reality still hasn't entirely sunk in. There was an emergency preparedness person on NPR yesterday explaining what to do in the event of a nuclear attack (my recollection from the Viet Nam era was "kiss your ass goodbye" but he didn't mention that). Basically stay inside, and listen to a reputable radio station. My mother and I had just been discussing the lack of formal bomb shelters last week, after the tests from North Korea and the US. She suggested that I head for a subway station, as in WWII London, but I pointed out the massive death toll when Bank Station (London) suffered a direct hit, and besides, in the time it would take me to get to Alewife (my closest station, which is only sort of underground), I'd be dead (or at least exposed) anyway.
Here I am, making it all about me again, instead of a memorial to the dead of 1945. I will think of them throughout the day.
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I was reading about the Hundred Years War just this morning, and of course we are involved in a never-ending war in Afghanistan and Iraq and all of their neighbors, so it's not as though wars are far from mind in general, but the centennial observances of WWI just keep making me angrier every time. 100 years ago today was the beginning of the Battle of Passchendaele, also known as the Third battle of Ypres. The Wikipedia gives a straightforward account with more detail than I care to know
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Passchendaele
My take is that the underlying things to remember are that since Britain came into the war on the side of Belgium to begin with, they felt they couldn't abandon them, and that one should never make a plan based on the hope for favorable weather.
Commemoration fashion opinion - I think Kate should be wearing black
http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-40767601

This is just the latest. I think the whole war was a mistake to start with, and the resolution of it helped lead to Hitler's rise (not an original thought on my part). I am reminded every month about death, death, death, because the weekly newspaper for change ringers (printed in Britain) https://www.ringingworld.co.uk/
has a monthly tribute section about the ringers who died that month a hundred years earlier, with some biographical info, the names of the places they rang, and photos when available. Due to this battle (named that in the same sense as the battle of the Somme - months of a campaign), there had to be two issues with the tributes because the numbers were so high.

Dunkirk

Jul. 20th, 2017 09:11 pm
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We saw the 70mm film version at the Somerville Theatre. It was worth it. Amazing, in an old fashioned kind of way. Those were real Spitfires, and some of the original little boats appeared as themselves, though the whole cast and specific plot points were fictional. At 1:42, Arthur thought it was longer than necessary. Acting very good. We both felt that the music was meant to be manipulative, and we resented it. I think it might have been better to have no music at all, just ambient sound. Filming took place in Dunkirk, Britain, the Netherlands, and a bit mysteriously, the US, probably California. Arthur has acquaintances among the stunt people. We were surprised that in a crowd of people to whom actual film matters, only a very few of us stayed for all the credits.
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