Rome, Italy – Long ago, there was a huge stadium called Circus Maximus which was used for chariot-racing. According to the Wiki, it held 250,000 spectators. Today it holds a park.
And is the plural of multiple maximus’, maximii? Pronounced: MAX-im-eye? Well, why not? I like it.
Milwaukee, WI – Mr. Viva informed me this morning that the naming rights for the baseball stadium the Milwaukee Brewers call home were purchased by American Family Insurance. And I wonder insurance? But what will we drink?
As I reflect on the genesis of this blog — “I am a people watcher reporting from the bleacher seats” — this renaming news is a healthy reminder that the physical bleacher seats I fondly remember and occupied at Milwaukee County Stadium are gone. They were dozed and replaced by a newer, bigger, better stadium with a retractable roof to accommodate Wisconsin weather.
Bleacher seats move on. Stadiums are replaced. Stadiums are renamed. Change happens.
Rome, Italy – Romans were such big fans of spectacle, they staged full-scale naval battles. For reals.
While standing on Palatine Hill in Rome in 2007, Andrew, our tour guide pointed out the Campus Martius area. Imagine attending the spectator sport of a full-size reenactment of a naval battle on a man-made lake. What to wear? What to wear?
Well, Italians are good at water diversion because they’ve been at it a.long.time. First piece of evidence: ancient staged naval battles.
Milwaukee, WI – I had the great good fortune to be at the new Fiserv Forum on Monday to watch the Milwaukee Bucks play basketball against the Dallas Cowboys Mavericks. Just across the street from this new beautiful stadium was the location for the BMO Harris Bradley Center, aka Bradley Center.
It was only 30 or so years ago when I sat in seats where the air was thin at the Bradley Center. In addition to a couple of basketball games, there was a circus. For the record, aerial acrobats do not seem so daring when you’re looking down on them from the bleacher nosebleed seats.
But those seats are gone too.
Maybe the former Bradley Center site will be a city park. That would be nice.
I have terrific video footage from the game, but WordPress hasn’t recognized my Premium upgrade yet. Heh, heh. WordPress can charge my credit card like a Tesla supercharger but still no video upload, which trust me, it’s terrific, it’s the best, it’s the most beautiful video.
So, in the meantime, enjoy a couple of photos of the Fiserv venue:
The Fiserv Forum capacity is only 17,500 people proving that we’re mere amateurs. Ancient Rome’s Circus Maximus could hold 14 Fiserv Forums although to be fair, the Romans likely weren’t restrained by any consumer protection regulations.
Insert diatribe about the government shutdown going 33 days or into its second month and the Trump non-Administration circus pulling our government apart, risking our security, corrupting international relationships, putting a nuclear football in the hands of a usurper. Super fail for, or of, democracy.
Ann! Thank you for the great experience, food, and Bucks-Mavericks game Monday! (Along with not being able to upload videos, WordPress has also hidden superscript from me. Normally this would be a footnote. Oh well.)
And I’ll attempt to keep it short but politics & religion – it is Sunday, after all, billionaire breakdown, and literature & poetry. Let’s go!
Politics & Religion
Israel envy. The Evangelicals are so behind the Trumpster building his wall because in spite of Jesus, they like the Old Testament Bible, they like Old Testament law, and they are Chosen People and the United States of America is their Promised Land by gumminey.
Meanwhile, the rest of us Philistines just want a solid wall between church and state.
Twenty-nine years later, the estimated daily cost of the government shutdown is about $857,000,000/day and suddenly, $450,000/month seems like a real bargain.
Please, get us out of this art of the deal.
Farming & Rural Rehabilitation. The 2020 Democratic field running to be President will be big and interesting and exciting! Julian Castro, former Secretary of HUD threw his hat in the ring this past week in San Antonio. And we are all of “Bravo!” and he will add nuance and complexity to the conversation.
But what really piqued our interest was the mention of HUD — Housing & Urban Development. With the plunge in the number of small farm operations and the horrific rise in the number of farmers who take their own lives, maybe isn’t it time to devote a department to Farming & Rural Rehabilitation?
Asking for some states.
Billionaire I relate to on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Whilst researching the Bezos on the list of Forbes’ billionaires, I was surprised to see names that I instantly recognize because of the product they produce! Giovanni Ferrero of Nutella and chocolate fame, that’s a lot of happiness spread around — was #36 on the list.
Although I can’t relate to the wealth of anyone on any of Forbes lists and poor Mr. Ferrero is only 1/6 of a Jeff Bezos pre-divorce, I can relate to Nutella and chocolate.
Nutella spreads itself across Maslow’s entire hierarchy of needs, and chocolate? It improves my mood.
Mini-billionaire breakdown. I’m recording this for posterity and because I like statistics and numbers and information baby! Some people study astronomy and the movement of planets, stars, galaxies, otherworldly objects. Well, the this-worldly humans on Forbes‘ list also work with astronomical numbers.
Subject to visual inspection and any errors are all my own, out of the top 100 billionaires in the world on Sunday, January 20, 2019:
Jeff Bezos’ worth is down $37B (from $149B) to $112B.
If MacKenzie Bezos gets half in the divorce, and I hope she does, she will be the wealthiest woman in the world. Half of today’s Jeff Bezos worth: $56B.
Being worth a half-Bezos or $56B will put Jeff and MacKenzie between #10 – Larry Ellison ($58.5B) and #11 – Michael Bloomberg ($50B). Still respectable.
10% of the top 100 are currently women. No photos but first names of Dieter and Michael were counted as men. I counted the no-photo Iris as a woman.
Combined worth of the current 10 wealthiest women: $242.9B or ($242.9B/$112B/Jeff Bezos) = 2.16 Bezos. Or 4.33 half-Bezos.
4% of the top 100 are Walton’s of Walmart money — Jim, S. Robson, Alice, and Lukas.
Combined worth of the Waltons: $154B or ($152B/$112B/Bezos) = 1.37 Bezos. Or 2.75 half-Bezos.
31% have US citizenship, 7% are Russian.
That is all on this line of numbering. Make of it what you will. As mentioned previously, I’m an information junkie and I like to mash it up all ways from Sunday for no good reason other than, why not?
Literature & Poetry
What was Margaret Atwood thinking? Politics trigger warning. I’m reading The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, published 1986 by Anchor Books. This week I read these horrific sentences which are as clean as a bone:
“It was after the catastrophe, when they shot the president and machine-gunned the Congress and the army declared a state of emergency. They blamed it on the Islamic fanatics, at the time.
Keep calm, they said on television. Everything is under control.”
Wait, there’s more:
“That was when they suspended the Constitution. They said it would be temporary. There wasn’t even any rioting in the streets. People stayed home at night, watching television, looking for some direction. There wasn’t even an enemy you could put your finger on.
So much for fiction being a respite from reality. I was relieved when Nancy Pelosi cancelled the SOTU (Shout Out To the Union) this week due to the government shutdown.
RIP: Mary Oliver, September 10, 1935 – January 17, 2019.
Mary Oliver was an American poet who died this past week. I end with a short piece of her poetry which captures the chiaroscuro, the light and the dark of life. From a Twitter share (@kaysarahsera):
tl;dr? Imma blogging on Life — the magazine between now and the new year. Specifically the March 31, 1972 issue. Enjoy! Or not.
A note. I republished this post about 3 minutes after first hitting publish. Laurene Powell Jobs was quoted in a recent NYTimes article. Not the 1972 Life magazine. Ms. Powell Jobs was 9 years old in 1973. Her fame and fortune were not yet a thing.
I am in possession of the March 31, 1972 issue of Life magazine.
As a child, George Wallace was a candidate in the first Presidential election of which I was aware and his name popped up in a discussion of the current racist resident of the White House with FAL*. When she tripped across a Life with an article on Wallace, she sent me the whole enchilada.
And what a time capsule!
*Not her real name. FAL is an acronym. Favorite Aunt L.
Is the plural of FLOTUS, FLOTII?
Look was a contemporary magazine of Life. Look folded in the early 1970’s, Life died later. Thumbing through this issue of Life, magazines with curated news heavy on photos are a treasure.
In a recent NYTimes, I read with great interest, an interview with Laurene Powell Jobs who is investing heavily in media:
Both magazines have managed to create unique journalistic platforms that help foster empathy and a better understanding of the world. – Laurene Powell Jobs
” … narrative moves people more than anything else.”
Kara Swisher, “Can Laurene Powell Jobs Save Storytelling? NYTimes, November 27, 2018.
Looking through the Life relic, I believe Ms. Powell Jobs is on to something. The photos were lush and contained another 1000 words each, they made me curious. The writing was smart and sharp, edited, considered, worthy of ink and paper, not of-the-moment and gone.
The unfiltered, uncurated internet increases connection without adding to understanding. Although the purchase of Pop-Up — a company that specializes in performance type art — can’t be held in your hands, I’m ready for a Look or Life reboot. Please?
And the Life March 31, 1972 issue is chock-full of reminders that some things never change.
In April 1971, Richard Nixon ran interference between a pending antitrust suit and a hearing at the Supreme Court for I.T.T.! And I love that the NYTimes has an online archive and that in 1973, they were the paper of record! Now? Eh, not so much, but I digress.
In The Presidency op-ed, Hugh Sidey quoted Lyndon B. Johnson:
“Business,” snorted Lyndon Johnson once when he was battling the big interests, “is what makes the mare go.”
Hugh Sidey, The Presidency: What makes the mare go, Life, March 1972, p.12.
My bold. And this is comforting maybe things do never change! Remember John Mulaney’s observation that “Trump is a horse loose in the hospital.” This makes perfect sense since business is what makes Trump go.
Forty-six years on, the mare goes horse is unhinged and loose.
Change a few names, tweek a situation or two, and Hugh Sidey’s op-ed would bring you up to speed on the Trump Administration’s political acrobatics. In the Nixon era:
“Even more fascinating was the story of Herbert Kalmbach, an obscure California attorney who happens to be Nixon’s private lawyer. According to one Washington authority, he now “has the goddamnedest bunch of clients lined up outside his door that you’ve ever seen.”
Hugh Sidey, “The Presidency:What makes the mare go,” Life, March 31, 1972, p.12.
Michael Cohen is Herbert Kalmbach to Trump’s Nixon. I cannot make this stuff up.
Last paragraph of the Life op-ed:
Up on the Hill at the ITT hearing room a few days ago a young man with fire in his eyes waited for a seat. What for? “Because I want to hear them lie,” he spat. … this new bitterness … began in the secluded chambers of power which this administration still seems to think are its private preserves, where matters too lofty and complex for common comprehension are dealt with. It is, once again, a policy of non-communication, and it is an added insult to the American intelligence.
Hugh Sidey, “The Presidency: What makes the mare go,” Life, March 31, 1972, p.12.
My bold. Jim Acosta could play the part of the young man with fire in his eyes. Ignore the mention of ITT, replace “them lie” with Sarah Huckabee Sanders lie” and that paragraph could have been written yesterday.
Today that paragraph would be updated to pile on more insult to the American intelligence with reference to Trump’s “gut tells him more than anybody’s brain.”
Just wondering, what with his gut and Fox & Friends talking to him, maybe we should track his daily horoscope, too? He is a Gemini.
Finally, general observations from the bleacher seats decades removed from George Wallace:
George Wallace is a reminder that racists persist — he made four runs for the White House.
Wallace ran as a Democrat. Historically, racism has not been limited to party. (And we hope that has changed.)
He was a ‘segregationist’ which is just a fancy bow tied around the gift of a racist. (To be clear, racists are a curse, not a gift. See also, sarcasm.)
As a judge and an early adopter of voter suppression, he blocked federal review of voting lists.
His wife’s name was Lurleen. She sat in for him as governor to get around term limits. Ugh. Political dynasties. Kennedys, Clintons, Bushes, who’m I missin’?
An early adopter of shooting people to gain fame made an assassination attempt on Wallace in 1972. Wallace was left paralyzed for the remainder of his life.
And hope. Hope that minds and hearts can change. In 1979, Wallace apologized for the physical, literal stance he took at the door of a school to impose segregation demonstrate racism in action. “I was wrong. Those days are over, and they ought to be over.” –Edwards, George C.
My Favorite Aunt, let’s call her FAL, tells of a Viva cousin who at the age of 7 or 8 looked at the TV programs scheduled for the week and declared that it was all ‘politickles.’ Ah! These missed pronunciations delivered with additional meaning must be genetic. Pronounciations!
Political? Politickle. Let’s go!
Working the Polls
I’ve wondered what it is like to work the poles polls. And each election, if not now, then, when? When are you going to work the polls, Viva? So this year, I didn’t just cut bait, I fished. I attended the training and registered voters for the general election on Nov. 6, 2018. My report:
Pre-gotta-get-me-to-work voters! Voting for two Wards was held in a facility with stacked ballrooms. By 7:15 AM the line was out the upstairs balloting ballroom, down the stairs, and curled around into the lower level ballroom. My compatriot reported this was more gettin’-up-mornin’ turnin’-out than she had seen in previous elections!
Same day registration. Availability to register the same day should be a requirement of any voting system. At the site I worked, I don’t have statistics on the number of people who would have not been eligible to vote because their VOTER REGISTRATION HAD BEEN PURGED BETWEEN THE WISCONSIN PRIMARY ELECTION HELD APRIL 3, 2018 AND THE GENERAL ELECTION, NOVEMBER 6, 2018. But I held up my right hand and swore to work the polls and I will attest that the number was greater than or equal to four. And a couple of those good folks were OUTRAGED.
Generations younger than mine SHOWED.UP. Boom! There it is. I am one. A late Baby Boomer. Out of the 50 or so voters I registered, only two were older than me with long-time residency. And so I wondered what brought YOU to the polls? Have you not voted before? But hey! You do you. Better late than never?
Gravitas, I. Without exception, voters who needed to register same day SHOWED UP with PROOF of their right to cast their vote. Serious. They had checked the requirements. Residence, valid photo ID, and for many, multiple forms of both. Viva’s heart was warmed. This also made it hard to tell someone their proof, although following the spirit of the law, was insufficient in letter. See Gravitas, II.
Gravitas, II. We are here to GET YOU REGISTERED. Kate worked next to me had worked the polls before. Her experience was golden. If you presented yourself to vote and you needed to register, without exception — we had folks hop on the internet and log on for utility/credit cards/valid account bills and we even sent a few good folks home for additional documentation. BUT YOU COUNT, WE ARE HERE TO GET YOU REGISTERED, AND GET YOUR BALLOT TO THE POLLS! And what a relief! The registration checklist makes you feel like a gatekeeper looking for fraud when you are not, and there isn’t any. More than once, Kate’s direction, encouragement, and flat-out problem-solving made me feel I had superpowers. We got ‘er done!
Gravitas, III. The rigorousness in registration — a physical visible human presenting themselves as who they are and where they live — affected me election day. Registration is separate from actual balloting/voting and the checklist is not long, but when you’re the one who checks, it is easy to second and third guess whether or not you skipped a check. And this is where my obsessive-compulsive-repetitive disorder was a blessing and a curse. If you presented, I checked and rechecked and you were good to VOTE! Blessing. But. Hold on. Wait. Did I really check? Did the photo ID of the voter over an hour ago really look like them? Curses. Spam!
Gravitas, IV. The whole of election day at the site I worked was rigorously run. The polls opened when the time on our ballot machine said ‘go.’ The polls closed when the ballot machine said ‘stop.’ And for the record, the ballot machine said ‘stop’ when internet-phone-time said there were still two more minutes and we had two people running up the stairs to vote when the proctor called ‘closed.’ Disappointment! And they pointed at their phone time, but to allow them to vote would invalidate the whole. Wowza! Gravitas closed.
Nancy’s got a brand new HOUSE!
Representative Nancy Pelosi (D- 12th district CA), is poised to become the Speaker of the House of Representatives January 3, 2019! Again! But! This time she will preside over a body that includes more diversity than ever before. And we are warmed.
A semblance of checks and balances is restored to the horse running wild in the White House in concert with the elephants preening in the Senate.
And in the whole brouhaha of whether Ms. Pelosi is the best suited to be Speaker, the best story I’ve tripped across was her response to a Republicant pushing for Social Security privatization legislation:
“Never. Is never good enough for you?”
Ah! Hearts, unicorns, and rainbows. Holes in the social safety net keep growing. Privatization would drop the remaining net to the floor and the predators would come out to feed.
I love my Millennials! They are great people and as a group, they get a bad rap. Proof? Here we go.
A Google search to find the percent of Millennials that actually.showed.up.and.voted, returns links to pre-election article lamentations onhow many and why Millennials may vote. Election day, the media barking dogs couldn’t wait to call elections even as balloting horseplay was in motion and several elections weren’t decided for days. Oh, and there is a run-off in Mississippi tomorrow. Go Espy! But I digress.
Maybe my Google game is off, but two weeks after the election, a search for the Millennial vote turns up crickets. The media has moved on with the exception* of … TeenVogue!
TeenVogue: “An estimated 31% of eligible voters age 18 to 29 actually voted.” – Linley Sanders, November 10, 2018, 7:00 AM EST.
And we celebrate teenVOGUE! Writers like Lauren Duca and Linley Sanders are relatable, reliable voices that point to legitimate sources to back up their statements. In the search to see what the Millennial vote was, I tripped across a site called EliteDaily. Although it looked legit, further investigation dropped it in our metaphorical internet click-bait chum bucket. Viva will not be fishing there.
Click-bait is all the rage. In an effort to be first, many media outlets called races on election night while the number of uncounted ballots turned the winner around.
Example: In Wisconsin, Frood continued to monitor results after her mother went to bed cried herself to sleep. This is how close the race was in the wee hours of the morning:
Whoa! At 11:40 CST, 2,759 ballots separate Walker and Evers. The drama continued. From Frood’s final screenshot:
By 1:40 AM CST, Evers lead Walker by 29,050! In two hours, Walker made a gain of 117, 571 votes; but Evers collected another 149,380! Enough that in the morning, Viva dried away her tears and celebrated with a steaming hot cup of coffee. Whew! EVERY.VOTE.COUNTS!
And so in jumping on the calling it early train, my pick for the 2020 Democratic Presidential nomination is Kamala Harris — Amy Klobuchar!
Two sharp, strong, capable women at the top. Why not? Isn’t it about time? And sharp, strong and capable seems redundant, but I am not afraid to be wrong. Buckle up!
“State the obvious. You’re hardly ever wrong” was a maxim my father invoked often. Note: You may sound like a simpleton, but conversation is simplified. So, I state with impunity that life goes on between elections.
And as we struggle a more perfect union, between now and the 2020 elections or the next protest, I’m refreshing my civics education and upping my participation through indivisible.org. Consider this an invitation to join me!
Well, Keebler Elf Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, III was firedlet-go resigned yesterday at the request of tRump. Rumor has it Mueller is ready to indict Junior which would be bad for the brand and AG Sessions has been at odds with tRump for a long time. About 12 dog years give or take.
Enter acting Attorney General Matthew G. Whitaker — a tRump loyalist, Mueller investigation critic, and bureaucrat thrown in to gum up the works should need be.
In response and this is not much notice, but today at five (5) PM (Thursday, 11.08.2018), MoveOn.org has organized a protest to protect Mueller. Participate and find a site near you here.
In my opinion, this protest pre-emptively shows the current administration that we the people are watching. We are concerned for the rule of law. We are concerned that no.one is above the law.
Future protests by MoveOn.org will happen on an as-needed basis and will be scheduled as necessary if or when these identified red lines are crossed (MoveOn.org):
For those of you who followed along with White Lies I & White Lies II, Mr. Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, III was US Attorney General for 636 days.
Photographic evidence suggests that I intend to vote on November 6, 2018. But, true confession, I drive with this sticker lied to my bumper. (Yes, intentional unconventional use of “lied” as verb. I just like it.)
I voted October 23, 2018.
Comedian, writer, actor, man-about-town John Mulaney has the best description of the Trump administration regime.There is a horse loose in the hospital.
A horse is running loose in the hospital and elephants¹ across the nation are emboldened to follow suit. But the majority elephants are journeymen and amateurs at the art of the lie compared to the big horse in the hospital.
We’re used to white lies, shades of lies, lies of omission, lies camouflaged with a smidgen of truth, lies that are barely distinguishable from misunderstanding. But this horse lies. Blatantly. Openly. And a lot.
Elephants attempt clumsy, transparent magic tricks with healthcare. Many campaign that health insurance needs to cover pre-existing conditions while simultaneously pulling out the tablecloth on pre-existing conditions. The healthcare coverage table will not be set. See also, current governor of Wisconsin.
An angry elephant fan of the horse took words of the horse in the hospital literally and delivered a spate of bombs to the horse’s critics. Welcome to horse inspired domestic terrorism. Let’s not get ever used to it. K?
The horse’s first wife reported that he kept a copy of Hitler’s Mein Kampf at bedside. Many have observed that although he does not appear to read well, much, or even at all, the accusations of fake news discrediting the press and disparaging lies about opponents reads like Hitler’s playbook. Or the first few chapters I’ve read of Mao’s Last Revolution. Ugh.
Sarah Kendzior, my nominee for Fearless Girl come to life, has written much about what to watch for as the horse cements and normalizes behaviors to expect in this administration regime. Political and social markers, gaslighting, spin of events, changes in behavior — written in 2016, her post Welcome to the Authoritarian Kleptocracy contains a wealth of information. A self-described Cassandra for our times, she did not want to be.
Immigrants seeking asylum are walking through Mexico and the horse has directed 800 troops to the border to greet them. Nevermind that they won’t reach the US for a few more months, many will stay in Mexico, and the horse’s alleged “Middle Easterners” traveling in the caravan will disappear. The horse pushes the immigration hot button to rile up his base.
And riddle you this. When the Donkeys have a majority, Elephants are all about fiscal responsibility. When the Elephants are in majority, fiscal responsibility takes a back seat is thrown out with the bath water. After adding $1.5 x 10¹² (a trillion and a half) to the deficit, Elephants now be all about throwing another $2 x 10¹² down the hatch. Paid for by cuts to Medicare and Social Security, the horse is all in. He’s been bankrupt before.
And 2018 election integrity is at risk. In addition to the possibility of more foreign meddling in our elections, known stateside meddling oddities:
In Texas, about 30% of the voting machines will spit out select candidates or no candidate on a straight party ticket selection.
In DeKalb County Georgia, more than 4500 early voting requests have gone missing.
In North Dakota, reservation residents/indigenous citizens cannot vote without an address. To which we say, what kind of spammery is this? Voting age citizens whose ancestors were here BC (Before Columbus) denied the right to vote.
And the beat list goes on. And on. In California, Republican Duncan Hunter is under investigation for felonious use of campaign funds. I like the quote “you can be guilty and still serve.” What!? Guilty of a felony, Duncan Hunter could serve. Meanwhile in Florida, felons who’ve served their time, can’t vote. My mind boggles.
Vote early or vote Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018. This election is about restoring a check to the horse in the hospital because the current elephants are enthusiasts and enablers and the hospital is falling into ruin. Okay, I stop with the analogies now.
Vote (D) and restore a check and some balance to this administration regime.
Your pen is mightier and your superpower is your vote.
And the LA Times misspelled ‘again’ as ‘next’ but the outcome will remain. Mitch will leave us leftovers out on the curb.
IV. The Horror in the Familiar
Reading of the details of the assassination, torture, murder, dismemberment, and incineration of Jamal Khashoggi by the Saudis, I was reminded of the wood chipper scene in the movie, Fargo. For me, Fargo was a true horror movie. Too real to my real life — the characters, the dialog, the interiors, the scenery. I am of, and from the Fargo midwest.
And so, I contend that as Mr. Khashoggi walked into the Saudi Embassy, he knew.
Basket I, 2nd Rinse. Be a Hero. VOTE!!!
In the music mix this week, I listened to vintage David Bowie. And I miss him knowing that whatever was in his music vault, it is what it is and only is. That’s it. That’s all.
The song Heroes played. “And the shame was on the other side … we could be heroes for just one day.”
And so please, be a hero with me on or before November 6, 2018.