A sundry assortment of tidbits.

Credit where credit is due.  My father loved the phrase “sundry assortment” with its embedded redundancy. An assorted assortment with its, oh, I don’t know, je ne sais quoi quality to it.  This post feels like just such an assortment.

Robert Mueller: The Sartorialist

It was reported with much humor that Robert Mueller had Paul Manafort’s closet and suits photographed.  Haha!  (The Daily Show, Trevor Noah)

And I celebrate Mr. Mueller’s tenacity. A suit — especially color, texture, weave, cut — could triangulate with surveillance and other information to confirm the identify of Mr. Manafort meeting with low friends in high places.

Snap Elections & Campaign Fatigue

I am curious about and a little bit jealous of countries whose governance allows them to call for a snap election. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan is the most recent example. Teresa May called for a snap election for confirmation of Brexit proceedings.

Meanwhile, stateside in the US two (2) days after inauguration, Prescedense Trump started his 2020 Presidential election campaign.

And so I would posit that voters in the US suffer from campaign fatigue. Politicians should have a defined period of campaign silence after an election to focus on the work of governing.

Voters are more than hamsters on a treadmill. We need a break.

Tribalism

First, there was the boozy story that (Wisconsin) Badger fans drank the two bars in Provo, Utah dry.  Turns out the fans only hit it hard during the football game with BYU (Brigham Young University, Utah).

Ah, those Wisconsinites.  A cheerful, libatious tribe of good tippers!

And Andrew Sullivan, my favorite former social-political editor-blogger-writer, wrote a longer piece for the New York Magazine – “America Wasn’t Built for Humans.”

The entire article covers a whole lot of ground and is well worth the read if you have time but to support our ‘Tribalism’ heading above:

“One of the great attractions of tribalism is that you don’t actually have to think very much.  All you need to know on any given subject is which side you’re on.”

If you factor Citizens United and campaign fatigue in with tribalism, we will continue to get more divided.

Throwing money at the hamster voters, lets them off the treadmill.


(Aside note from me, to me): Mr. Sullivan’s commentary on Ta-Nehisi Coates is especially telling given that he left full-time blogging to pursue longer form journalism. It reads as Andrew’s justification to leave blogging before it wrecked his writing as compared to the arc of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ career who has wrecked his writing. Really? I don’t think so.

Also, Trump? Really, Andrew? You think Trump is part of the solution? I.don’t.think.so. One word: gaslighting.

And I have had a hard time forming my own opinions since Mr. Sullivan abandoned The Daily Dish. Not so much because I agreed with him, but because the variety of high-quality comments he published from his readers on topics far and wide were an education to me.)

I. Remembering …

President Carter. No, as of today, he is still with us.

I remember President James Earl Carter as the first POTUS I watched actively and avidly. During his administration, the Iranian hostage situation went on for so long, that in high school Physics class, another student wrote a problem story of Godzilla using a catapult to free the hostages for an assignment complete with equations, and solution. It was politically incorrect, but we were high school students tired of the counting of the daily counting of the days and after all, wasn’t it President Carter who brokered the Camp David Accords?

Yes, President Carter brokered the CDA. And President Carter talked of his wife Rosalyn and the other women he had looked at with thoughts and we believed that was honest, and prude, but TMI; and he talked about Amy – BTW, where is Amy now? – and if that helicopter hadn’t crashed in the desert on the way to rescue the hostages, he would have been a hero. There might have been no Reagan Administration.

And Reagan. I became an independent adult during the Reagan Administration. Life was more complicated due to many factors.

But I remember Carter and his decency toward … human beings and the human condition.

II. Remembering …

President Obama.  And no, as of today, he is still with us too!

And my heart is warmed knowing that there were many children, teenagers, young adults whose formative memory of national politics was made during the Obama Administration.

And in the slow arc of history, I hope those children, teenagers, young adults remember to bend toward decency and justice for all … human beings.

A sundry assortment of snapshots.

Here’s a sundry assortment of snapshot thoughts taken over the last week. Enjoy!

Or not.

Where I was on 2001.09.11.

The radio announced the plane hitting the first World Trade Center tower on the drive to drop my Kindergartner off at school.  And I thought ‘how could a plane not miss the one of the towers?’ what a tragic failure of air-traffic control? How …’ and I tried not to think of it further. The school drop-off zone can be brutal and requires focus and safety.

Continue reading

Tilting toward windmills …

Ah! Finally a post on something other than politics. Recently I tripped across an article on a new small output, small wind turbine whose design is meant to resemble a tree!

And so I was thrown back down memory lane to the set design of my childhood filled with farms with barns and windmills dotting the landscape.  Windmills were used to pump water but somewhere between childhood and my teens, the cost of the electricity to run a pump became more economical than the cost of maintaining a windmill with a mechanical pump powered by free fuel (wind).  You have to look hard now to see a working windmill in Wisconsin.*

Wind farms which generate power measured in megawatts, like other power generation (coal, nuclear, gas, oil), are sited outside of the sight-line of large population centers. When the wind stops blowing, the power that was being produced by a wind farm needs to be replaced with power generated by other means.  We the consumers don’t see the wind turbines stop spinning, we don’t know the source of fuel for our power, and so we don’t modify any behaviors based on a change in the availability of our  “free” windy fuel source.

But! I am excited by the prospect of smaller, scalable, distributed wind generation:

  • Visibility.  Consumers can observe when the wind is blowing.  When the wind is not spinning the blades, usage can be modified to reduce reliance on electric grid power.
  • Portability. I presume smaller would be easier to re-site to take better advantage of available wind.
  • Battery storage!  Integration with battery energy storage!  When the wind is blowing and you’re not using much power — sleeping, working elsewhere — the wind generation can be used to charge a battery.  When your consumption goes back up — making coffee, cooking — the battery helps to supply the additional load. (Developments in battery technology are amazing too … but that’s another story.)
  • Costs.  As demand goes up, the market will get bigger, costs (purchase, maintenance, life cycle) will come down.
  • Better designs.  As demand goes up, the market will get bigger, designs will be more diverse.  (I am not a big fan of the aesthetics of the little tree, but hey! It’s a great start. There will be better designs.  There will be worse.  Take joy along the way.)
  • Business creator.  There will be a need for electricians and training for people installing and servicing small wind generators.
  • Other.  I leave this bullet for the unintended consequences that always come with new technologies and new development.  I know my list is incomplete

So here I am full circle tilting at windmills …


*Aside: These.people.know.windmills.  Their website is to get wonderfully lost in — windmill parts, photos, information.  It’s all here. Ball valves and Marcy cylinders. Whoa!

 

 

 

Fearless Girl, Charging Bull

As a child raised in Wisconsin farm country, I tip-toed past the pasture of a working farm where a snorting bull complete with a ring in his nose, a short tether and fire in his belly would pound the ground if he caught wind of me. He was behind a barbed wire fence outlined around the top with an electric fence. I was absolutely terrified of him. I couldn’t get past him, get home, fast enough.

In commemoration of the International Women’s Day on March 08, 2017, a sculpture, Fearless Girl was put in opposition to the Charging Bull on Wall Street. The point being “There’s a dearth of women on the boards of the largest U.S. corporations.”

Sweet. The contrast, the juxtaposition is stark. A point is made. But like any good art, there are layers to unpack and as the day went on, I revisited the layer with the real life mis-en-scéne of a fearful little girl and an angry bull.

And so, the sculpture ‘Fearless Girl’ was a blast from the past. Like me, she doesn’t have much to fend off a riled bull.  I made it. Her? She is in front of an angry, raging bull that has no nose ring, has no tether, has no barbed wire and electric fence. And she is too close to that bull to have any chance of escape.

So my second reaction to the installation of Fearless Girl is “Get her out of there!”  Tout suite. Shoot the bull. Be quick. Save her!

But, maybe in another layer, Fearless Girl isn’t standing up for breaking the glass ceiling and more representation in the boardroom.  Maybe she is the stand-in for all of us. All.of.us. She is standing up for everything about the United States, about us, about our freedoms, about the functioning of our imperfect union, about our national treasures, about our ideas of what it means to be American, that is priceless.  She is facing down the altar of capitalism and the concept that a free market at all costs is worth it at all costs. She is staring down our very own Golden Calf in the form of the ‘Charging Bull’, taking a stand. When our politicians are not only excited, but energized by sacrificing health care, education, the environment, general welfare, and on and on at the altar of big business, privatization, granting the wealthy more wealth, we need her. Fearless Girl should remain right where she is.

She represents the future. And I hope she makes it but she needs help.

Ours.


Update:  Over the weekend photos were posted of ‘douchebag’, and ‘douchebag’ is a tad too polite, humping ‘Fearless Girl’. Who is raising these narcissistic entitled assholes?  What little switch in their little brains says this is acceptable behavior?