Scientific Notation: A trillion.

When I was in third grade, The Weekly Reader reported that the national debt per person was about the same as the cost of a new car.  I remember thinking, ‘I can’t pay for a new car! I can’t even drive a car.’ My future was doomed even as I knew that car would be red. Since third grade, the national debt has gone up and come down but the trend of late is definitely up. Cleanly and clearly driving in the red.

The current GOP tax bill is projected to add about $1.5 trillion (USD) to the national debt. Not to be outdone, Prescedense OTUS proposed a $4.4 trillion (USD) budget which, net of income, would throw many more trillion on the national debt. (And the words ‘Trump budget’ sound like an oxymoron.)


A trillion is a 1 followed by 12 zeroes (000000000000).  Reading the word ‘trillion‘ doesn’t have the same impact as seeing the number 1,000,000,000,000.  Represented in scientific notation, a trillion looks like 1×10¹² and ten raised to the twelve (10¹²) looks big … because it is BIG!

I propose that numbers like the US national debt and the budget be spelled out using scientific notation. Scientific notation emphasizes that the number is not of human scale. It is not in your lifetime.  I did the math. It would take 396.372399797 lifetimes lasting 80 years each to count to one trillion. No time for food or any other comfort. Each second counts. For 80 years.  And 400 lifetimes. Whoa!


Although writing $1,500,000,000,000 adds more ink and more space by including all the numbers, writing $1.5 x 10¹² adds gravitas and looks all sciencey and interesting. It looks other-worldly. As a number, it is as hard to wrap my head around the space of a trillion as it was to imagine paying for and driving a red car in third grade.

The space of a trillion.  The space of all those zeroes. The zeroes of space, the last frontier. By means of illustration, this picture was taken from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. Due to sentence construction, the article seems to imply that the Hubble Space Telescope is a trillion miles from earth. It is not. But the photograph itself is of a spiral galaxy about a trillion miles from the earth. And to our point, the article contains this very valid observation:

Looking at this stunning image forces one to ask: what mysteries and life forms exist there?

And so I would suggest that space and applying scientific notation to the national debt gives us pause to wonder where we are headed with all this debt and what mysteries miseries will exist for our children and their children and what form will life take in the future? Let’s face it, the current administration and circus in Washington don’t give much credence to science, scientists, the scientific method, or much consideration to future generations, or shoot, us even.

So, for all we owe ourselves, I think we owe it to ourselves to apply scientific notation to the national debt.  Here we go:

$20.632X10¹² (US Debt Clock.org: snapshot taken 2018.02.16, 12:30 PM)

Hmmm.  I’m incredulous. Stunned. Representing the national debt in scientific notation underscores that most of us don’t understand macroeconomics and economic theory.

It’s like, science, dude.


In closing, as we consider gun control shoot our ‘thoughts and prayers‘ for the victims of AR-15 weapons of mass destruction into the void, let’s add a ‘thoughts and prayers’ chaser for the national debt. Afterall, the nearest black hole is only about 27,000 light-years away or 158,722×10¹² miles. Or 69,913,020 lifetimes of 80 years.

Ugh.

The face of performance under abuse.

The vox populi argues whether or not Circuit Court Judge Rosemarie Aquilina went too far in her comments¹ during the sentencing of Larry Nassar, the former USA Gymnastics doctor.

And other news outlets publish victim’s statements.

So as a reminder, I would like to use this space to celebrate some of the amazing athleticism and performance of a few survivors while under the good doctor’s care suffering sexual abuse and molestation when the cameras were put away:

Jordyn Wieber:

Gabby Douglas:

McKayla Maroney:

Simone Biles:

Aly Raisman:

I watched these Olympics thinking what amazing athletes. What presence! What grace! Give them all the points!

We did not know what was going on backstage. And why did it take so long and so many to report before any action was taken?

– Ugh. I just need to stop here today.


¹ From other opinions I’ve tripped across, during the sentencing phase of a trial, a judge’s statements are from the point-of-view of “we the people.”  In my unhumble, nonlegal and there-is-no-justice-but-karma’s-a-bitch opinion, Judge Aquilina did not overstep. She was IMO, essentially expressing “hopes and prayers” for Nassar’s future life in prison and as such was on board with the small group of “we the people” at coffee today.

New shoes.

This showed up on my Twitter feed last weekend:

skinner (@elizaskinner) “Women over 30 — what’s something you wish you had known in your 20s?” 18 Jan 2018, 11:33 AM. Tweet.

owl, very expensive (@vxpowl) “Cultivate relationships of all sorts with older women. Less surprises as you fill their shoes, less anxiety over leaving your old shoes behind.” 19 Jan 2018, 7:49 PM. Tweet.


I was a latecomer to the ball.  When we first met, Joan moved slower and prefaced stories with “stop me if you’ve heard this before” – aware that the string of memory was thin and unreliable. She was committed but tentative when in motion. Such is age and aging.

But the shoe she left to fill! Over the weekend, I had the privilege to attend her memorial service. She was a strong woman of a certain ageless intellect, curiosity, and strength of will, living with the conviction — “it was the right thing to do.”

  • Joan had an FCF, a First Close Friend because she refused to say “oldest” friend. And in the brief time of our acquaintance, she made me feel I counted, I might be numbered as “Close Friend” too. And I felt special.
  • She dropped some pop music knowledge by singing all the words – multiple verses and the chorus — to Depeche Mode’s cover of Route 66, (1987-ish) and her son’s friends were stunned. Her cover of “mom, ” the old and stodgy, was blown.
  • Working voter registration, she was excited about the poetry slam happening that night, too.
  • Haiti, 1983. She held a toddler who was amazed or frightened by the middle-aged foreign white woman. And as she held him, he had an accident on the front of her shirt. Oh well. She took it all in. It happens.

And right things:

  • She was an early adopter of recycling and reusing. No waste. It was the right thing to do.
  • She believed in the importance of activism and civil rights. While living in Atlanta, Georgia, she volunteered as an assistant in the office of Coretta Scott King.  It was the right thing to do. (And whoa! I would’ve liked to hear the stories.)
  • She brought the activism home. She lived in a tony suburb of Milwaukee and while pushing a stroller, she knocked on neighbors’ doors to solicit support for affordable housing. Doors slammed in her face. And I wonder at the pain she must have felt to learn more about her neighbors than she wanted to know, but she persisted.  It was the right thing to do.

And Joan was a fierce alto and so am I!

And Joan remained bright-eyed and curious — of a certain generation yet not defined by generation or age.

And I want to grow up and be all that too!


Back to that initial tweet: “Less surprises as you fill their shoes. Less anxiety over leaving your old shoes behind.”

And we are surprised at the size of the shoes Cinderella Joan left when the clock struck midnight but filling new shoes and leaving the old behind is the right thing to do.

Thank you, Joan.

 

 

A Sunday Sundry Assortment

What a whirlwind week it has been!  The list I made last week gives me lots of topics to investigate and focus on that aren’t  politics, but here I am again with my binoculars pointed toward Washington … go figure.

Dodgeball: White Goodman

The character White Goodman in the movie “Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story”, (2004) — reminds me of the Prescedense — clueless, cheap, arrogant, an *ss**le. He thinks Kate Veatch is attracted to him because he is attracted to her.  She is not.  He thinks she works for him. She doesn’t. He believes his privilege and position make him a winner.  He isn’t.

So when it was reported that the Prescedense loves his McDonalds, I can’t shake the closing credit image of White Goodman, antagonist, chowing down on his sorrows.  I do not include a link. You have to Google it yourself, (‘White Goodman Dodgeball closing credits’).

You have been warned.  You cannot unsee it.

White House smoke & mirrors.

From the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks and this week it was reported that during a discussion of immigration policy, the Prescedense referred to certain countries as ‘shithole countries.

And yes, I’m taken aback. And no, I’m not surprised.

And so this week, the New York Times with their motto of “all the news that’s fit to print,” gained a word that’s now fit to print — shithole.

Is the plural of POTUS, POTII? Asking for a friend.

Well, previous POTII have used salty language in White House meetings and it has not made national news in such a bigly way.  Why now? Who decided we should all be outraged over his language? The words from his mouth reflect the abundance in his heart and we are not surprised. But this time, this administration, someone in the room and someone in the MSM decided Teflon Don’s pronouncement — his exact words —  were news worthy.

No, with the current cage match the Prescedense is waging with the office of President OTUS, respect is gone.  Trump did not respect the office before he was elected. He doesn’t respect or step-up to provide behavior, the gravitas expected of someone sitting POTUS.  His tweets, his statements — winners, losers — he treats his role like it’s reality TV. And for the most part, the MSM treats the events in the cage, the events under the big tent like entertainment.

But it is smoke &and mirrors.  While you’re busy twittering on and on about ‘shithole countries’, magicians work on the other bigger s*it that’s happening.

And we are not entertained. (Link: “Trump’s racism is more than rhetoric – it forms policy and ruins lives”, by Sarah Kendzior.)

 

S*it*ole.

I like asterisking the ‘h’s in shithole.  It looks almost foreign.  S’it ole. Maybe it is a greeting. A term of endearment.

Word Mash-up: Pronounciation

Pronounciation (n): A bold declaration of an alternative way of pronouncing a word.

Pronounciation is a mashup of the words pronounce (v): declare or announce, typically formally or solemnly and pronunciation (n): the way a word is pronounced. And by way of example, we offer the following pronounciations:

Shi•the•ad:  SHY-thê-äd

As•sho•le:  as-SHO-lay

Bastard is still BAS-tard though.

Wheel of Fortune: Public Service Announcement

If you’re ever a contestant on Wheel of Fortune and you’re spotted the letters R, S, T, L, N, and E, the solution to:

S – – T – – L E

– – – N T R – E S

is ‘SHITHOLE COUNTRIES’ as stated by a R – – – S T  – S S – – L E.

MSM: Stop it. Get out from under the tent.

Bark, bark, bark! Get angry. Stay angry.

This headline from OZY captures the mission of the MSM: “Annoyed, Frustrated, and Outraged? You need this Nigerian word.”

I am reminded that when you enter a circus, a zoo, a barn, a smelly place, it stinks and after then after you acclimate, it really doesn’t smell at all.  The MSM is still trying to tell us that is it smelly in here.  It is smelly in the Trump circus. We know.  Make note and move on.

The circus is on the move. Follow the money. Income tax statements. Real estate transactions. Follow the documents that get signed, the policies that are implemented.  You are killing us with the chase to publish click-bait. We are sick of the diet of circus cotton candy.

Drilling in Hawaii

For 45 minutes Saturday, Hawaiians were exercised in a drill that had kicked off with the words ‘THIS IS NOT A DRILL.’

How is this? I have participated in bulk electric system restoration drills.  The #1 Rule: Every statement, every announcement, every conversation and announcement end contains the words “THIS IS A DRILL.”

If the Prescedense had not been preoccupied with golf, would we now be busy at another war?

SMDH.

DNC & the SOTU address

Rep. Maxine Waters and Rep. John Lewis among others will not attend the State of the Union address this year.  And that is their right, their perogative, and good Lord, they’ve earned it.

For Democrats who choose to attend —  I mean, you will have primo seats at the circus — comport yourselves with the same solemnity and respect as at a funeral.

Wear black. No smiles. Solemn all the way around. Pay your respects to the dying.

And I would love to see Kamala Harris deliver the rebuttal in the form of a eulogy celebrating the passing of the traditional American values that are missing from the Trump Administration — truth, liberty, equality, independence … it’s a long list.

 

 

 

Year-end Rumination: Pale Blue Dot

Years end and what a year this was!


This will be my most political year-end statement because it kicked off my 2017.

In the late ’80’s, a brilliant classmate from China mentioned that the Chinese cultural revolution had been horrible, bad — her parents were educators. Her mother was still living in China. Her father had died during the revolution. I stayed away from asking much. I was afraid I would learn too much about the horror she had lived through.

As the U.S. leans toward further divisions — economic, education,  generations — a cultural and/or political revolution seems imminent, so I started the year reading Mao’s Last Revolution. It is a hefty, heady tome and you will not be surprised that at years end, I haven’t finished yet. But let’s not focus on that, no. The authors — Roderick Macfarquhar and Michael Schoenhals — deserve bigly kudos for documentation of a closed communist culture in which conformance to party ideals and pledged loyalty to individuals in the political structure is a shifty business. Deception, intrigue, danger. It’s all there.

Struggle early in the revolution, early in what I’ve read.

And so at year’s end, we continue to struggle a more perfect union and I will continue to struggle Mao’s Last to the finish.


Sub-zero temperatures from my bleacher seat here in the Midwest of the U.S., so the following was a nice confluence of different points of view this year:

After the Alabama election of Doug Jones to the U.S. Senate to sit Sessions seat, Dulce Sloan on the The Daily Show with Trevor Noah said, “Or at the very least cancel winter. You know only white people like snow.”

But! but! This video of black Louisianan Da’Quan Bellard dancing in the snow made me smile, made me scream ‘put on a jacket! put on a coat!’, and made me shake my head.

And most remarkable to me, he sings along to Vanessa Carlton’s ‘A Thousand Miles‘ like Frood did back in the day. Whoa!

And Frood’s in Hawaii for the New Years holiday, and I’m sitting here frozen. SMDH.


My New Year’s Resolution? I’m going to reclaim my time too.

And I hope at the end of 2018 I can report back on what reclaiming my time means in my world.

Focus isn’t a word that figures prominently in my vocabulary. That might be a start.


Maria Popova: In Praise of the Telescopic Perspective: A Reflection on Living Through Turbulent Times, reminds us that we have puny little sorrows when viewed from the universe across space and time. I recommend. It’s a good read.

And she nods at Carl Sagan’s Pale Blue Dot.

Approximately 4550 days after leaving the earth, the Voyager space probe turned it’s cameras to photograph the earth from a distance of about 3.7 billion miles from the Voyager. God bless Carl Sagan! He convinced NASA to take the picture because it puts the earth in a context with its place in the universe.  Scientific value? Null. Nada. Zip.

“Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity – in all this vastness – there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. It is up to us. It’s been said that astronomy is a humbling, and I might add a character-building experience. To my mind, there is perhaps a no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly and compassionately with one another and to preserve and cherish that pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.”

(my bold)

Progress on this pale blue dot is small, baby steps. A struggle.

But the progress of this small pale blue dot in our puny little solar system, now we’re talkin’ and I love this reflection from a Vonnegut work of sci-fi:

“Every passing hour brings the Solar System forty-three thousand miles closer to Globular Cluster M13 in Hercules — and still there are some misfits who insist that there is no such thing as progress.”

― Kurt Vonnegut Jr.The Sirens of Titan


Here’s a picture of matcha tea making rings around a cup during an afternoon of conversation. It reflects the contemplative nature of afternoon tea and like crop circles so does conversation. Circle. Contemplation. Circle. Conversation. Circle, the noun, and circle, the verb.

Hardly comparable to the Grand Canyon. Yet somehow a puny little afternoon becomes, Grand. Capital ‘G’.

And very 2017 in it’s Pantone Greenery 15-0343.

Matcha

 

Note to self, fast now: Drink 2017 Pantone Greenery 15-0343 matcha; wear 2018 Pantone Ultra Violet 18-3838.


On the death of two souls I hold dear during December, with deep love and gratitude, I say:

Thank you, Richard.

Thank you, Joan.

And as needed, comfort dropped in yesterday in the form of an exclusive from Longreads:  This is How You Say Goodbye, Lillian Slugocki.


And thank you, dear readers!

Stay safe. Stay warm. And Happy New Year!

On blogging.

This time of year usually inspires reflection.  A check of the calendar shows that I’ve been standing on my orange crate bullhorning into the void for about 10 months. I set a minimum expectation of one blog post by Thursday each week and yes, I am behind this week.

And blogging writing. I love this quote by Joan Didion, “I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear.” And I think, well, me too. Run with me!

What I’m thinking.

Ah! There’s the rub. The quality of writing is directly correlated to the quality of thought. The practice of writing makes good writing possible; great writing at it’s foundation has not pen and paper or screen and mouse and keyboard, but thought. And this for me is always, always the challenge — to improve the thought, improve the communication. Words can be found. The exactness, the preciseness of the word, the nuance — that is what requires thought.

And I sit with that and I’m pretty sure greatness is overrated. Heh, heh.

What I’m looking at.

Originally, in early 2017 I was looking at the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) and I wanted a place to drop my notes, research, and thoughts and prayers summary of the protest and concerns for possible outcomes.

That hasn’t happened yet.

My notes and research on DAPL are somewhere, since I started blogging there has been another spill, and it was announced that the pipeline will be finished soon.  I’m pretty sure I’ll get on it.

I’m often surprised to find that what I’m actually looking at and choose to publish isn’t what has been under my microscope. When I look through draft posts with ideas that were current at the time, I push ‘publish’ on something from the periphery. As an example, I had just finished Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City when the Hurricane triplets Harvey, Irma, and Maria visited eviction on great swaths of population independent of their poverty or wealth.  Instead of a commentary on eviction as living in a steady state of hurricane uncertainty, I dropped some climate change ideas. Go figure.

What I see and what it means.

The immediacy of the internet has made reporters of us all. And the professionals — the trained journalists and reporters and publications that try to beat the immediacy of ‘now’ — try to get the facts straight and think and form opinions on the fly. By reference to current news sources and writing about current events, I appreciate how hard it is to locate the truth. Any truth. Statements have to be researched, sources need to be verified and I appreciate that professionals deliver news in a race for your attention and in competition with click-bait.

And what it means is that I have the luxury of time to consider an event, to turn it over and look under the hood, to discuss with others what things mean. And to weigh in with my bullhorn after-the-fact and not in-the-midst-of and during.

What I want and what I fear.

What I want is to read and to be read!

And what I fear? Technology and that big blue ‘publish’ button up and to the right means there is no editor, there is no traditional publisher, there is no one between you and me. There is no one to save me from myself.  My thinking could be off. And very public.

What was I thinking? I stand on this little orange crate with my bullhorn. I might spout strong yet wrong ideas and slide off into the margins like the itinerant repent-the-end-of-the-world-is-coming preacher or other interesting and startling orange crate peers.

Or maybe my orange crate and bullhorn, reporting from my little space off in this section of the bleacher seats is just homage to my love of mixed metaphor and play on words.

I know that very time I click the ‘publish’ button and release a post, any post, this post into the internet wild, I win.

I think. I look. I find meaning. I write. I want. I overcame fear.

And dear readers, you have my love and gratitude for reading me thus far.

Thank you!

I win.

 

A sundry assortment of musings.

Today I will try my best to not pontificate with my bullhorn on my orange crate in my little corner of the internet as I’m wont to do.

Here we go anyway:

Fearless Girl & Time

And not tick-tock time! On December 1, 2017, I identified women who have joined the company of ‘Fearless Girl’ and Time Magazine’s annual Person of the Year 2017 is The Silence Breakers — more company for what ‘Fearless Girl’ represents. The Time stories are painful — “if you do [speak out], your complaint becomes your identity“¹ — but this is literally facing down a figuratively charging bull.

An avalanche started.

GOP Tax reform.

No taxation with representation! And that would be representation in the form of dollars — Kochs, Mercers, Adelsons, et al.

Representation of voters?

Eh, not so much. In word only. Overall,  suppression is going well. Just show up as an adult, present, able and accounted for and it will not be enough.

We require ID.

Eh?

Hard to obtain an ID?

Well, no worries. Our national experiment in a pluralist democracy may be over soon.

And we’ll return to historically scheduled ‘taxation without representation’ programming shortly.

Trump & GOP Tax reform.

He benefits. But his estate benefits bigglier when he is dead.²

Polling all millenials …

Well this is good news! From The Independent, “a majority of young people in America want a third party involved in US politics.”³ And so do I and I feel young again!

I hope Millenials can organize, identify leadership, establish a party platform and a snappy name. Bring it.

I’m here for you kids.

Project Runway Season 16: A new development. Cliff hangers.

In the run up to the finale, Project Runway featured episodes that ended in cliff hangers and we had to tune in next week to see the runway results.

I don’t know whose idea this was, but stop it. Stop it future seasons of Project Runway.

There is too much drama going on in the regular news cycle and it is hard to keep up.  We do not need more drama in our reality TV show competitions.  We need less.


¹ Zacharek, Stephanie; Dockterman, Elianan; Edwards, Haley Sweetland. “The Silence Breakers.” Time Magazine, Person of the Year 2017. December 2017. Web. 08 December 2017.

² And so do the rest of us. Harwell, Drew and O’Connell, Jonathan. “The many ways President Trump would benefit from the GOP’s tax plan.” The Washington Post. 10 November 2017. Web. 08 December 2017.

³ Sampathkumar, Mythili. “Majority of millenials want a third party in US politics, new poll says.” The Independent. 29 November 2017 19:45 GMT. Web. 08 December 2017 11:40 AM CST.

Aside: In a different political environment, I would also include bullhorn screams at Democrats. After all, we should all be better in our struggle for a more perfect union.  As such, due to the current GOP majority rule, I hold my rage at the Dems back.