Category Archives: Current Affairs

First Supermoon of the month

For reasons unknown to me, I have not been able to upload any pictures since the Supermoon. Last month, we watched the Moonrise from Twin Peaks but we went to Corona Heights, lower and north of Twin Peaks. Because we were lower, I thought the moon would come up slightly later but, because it was the evening of New Year’s Day the San Francisco skyline was not as lite up. The crowd, however, was local.

A March for Science


The March for Science was kind of our rational for going to LA, that, and seeing Michele’s Irish cousins. The March was fun and interesting and I always feel very moral when I’m doing something more than complaining about the world we are in.

However, to a non-scientist the march seemed pretty disorganized we – Michele, really, I was just along for the ride – couldn’t find the actual time of the March. She did find the program, however, which was that everybody would meet at Pershing Square for some warm-up speeches, march about seven blocks to City Hall, listen to more speeches, and wander back to Pershing Square for music and even more speeches. When we got to Pershing Square, it was almost empty and we were told the party had decamped for City Hall, so we started walking over to City Hall only to find ourselves swimming upstream against all the marchers who were returning to Pershing Square.

Science March C-00488

Just before we got to City Hall, we ran into a little group of protesters? counter-protestors? who were segregated from the marchers and surrounded by police.

Science March D-00496

When we got to City Hall, the speakers were still speaking and the marchers were milling about but the layout was such that we couldn’t see the speakers or hear them very well. After about a half hour, we joined the part of the crowd that was wandering back to Pershing Square which took us right by the Bradbury Building.

Science March E-00503 Science March F-00507 Science March G-00511

As an aside, if you know the Bradbury Building, the chances are it is from Blade Runner, if you lived in LA in the early 60s and were interested in architecture, the chances are you know it from the very acrimonious fight between the  entrenched powers of friendly Developers and City Planners that were bringing their version of the future to LA and the emerging preservationist movement that wanted to save at least the highlights from the past. The Bradbury Building was old – built-in 1893 – and, more importantly, very inefficient and the site would have made a great site for a new highrise building, something along the lines of Lever House, perhaps, but the building is also an architectural and engineering tour de force. The Bradbury Building was high-tech for its time and, somehow, resisted being torn down. That’s not to say it prospered; for years, the building lingered, slowly deteriorating, not protected as a Historical Monument but, somehow, escaping the wrecking ball. Finally, almost one hundred years after it was built, the Bradbury Building was bought by a sympathetic owner,  Sydney Irmas, and under the direction of Brenda Levin, was restored to its former glory.

Bradbury Building A-00532Bradbury Building-

End aside. Meanwhile, back at the March, Michele and I switched from trying to find the center of action to taking portraits of marchers with their signs.


Thinking out loud far from the actual Trump Presidency

President Trump and MelaniaI have been relatively sanguine about Trump, mostly because I think he is more of a Populist than a Conservative. For me, the worst case scenario would be for Trump to be impeached and Pence takeover. But, while Trump says “[we] are transferring power from Washington, D.C. and giving it back to you, the people,” he keeps surrounding himself with the Conservative Establishment. That is very worrying.

I keep looking at Trump’s daughter and son-in-law who were formerly Democrats and part of the New York Liberal Elite and are now trusted advisors, and I think They sound so sane, they will keep him from going off the rails, and then I watch the first thing that comes out of the White House. The first Official press briefing wasn’t about building a wall or saving a factory or, even, canceling Obamacare, no, the first press briefing, the most important thing on the agenda, was about the size of the crowd during Trump’s speech. It was just a sad little man lying, trying to make us believe that this inaugural crowd was the largest in history.

This guy is out of control; the sane ones don’t tone him down. It is impossible to change Donald Trump because this is a family operation and President Donald John Trump is the family patriarch. He sets the tone. He is the boss. That is more than a little disquieting.

Ta-Nehisi Coates on Dylann Roof


In my opinion, Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national treasure. I think his thoughts on Dylann are right on.

“Moreover, killing Roof does absolutely nothing to ameliorate the conditions that brought him into being in the first place. The hammer of criminal justice is the preferred tool of a society that has run out of ideas. In this sense, Roof is little more than a human sacrifice to The Gods of Doing Nothing. Leave aside actual substantive policy. In a country where unapologetic slaveholders and regressive white supremacists still, at this late date, adorn our state capitals and our highest institutions of learning, it is bizarre to kill a man who acted in their spirit. And killing Roof, like the business of the capital punishment itself, ensures that innocent people will be executed. The need to extract vengeance cannot always be exact. It is all but certain that a disproportionate number of those who pay for this lack of precision will not look like Dylann Roof.”

The Oligarchy Strikes Back

USA USA (1 of 1)What we are seeing this election season, with Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, is two political outsiders trying to take political power away from the Oligarchy. I want to say this as neutrally as possible because I know that Oligarchy is a loaded word, almost always in the negative. In this case, however, I don’t mean it to be. I’m using Oligarchy in the strict definition of a small group of people having control of a country, organization, or institution, and that is not always bad (or good).

The United States was founded as an Oligarchy with only property-owning white men being able to vote. That was not an oversight, it was done to limit the power of people. In terms of the form of our institutions, we have become more Democratic since then. First the property owning qualification was eliminated giving all white men the vote, then black men were also given the vote by the Fifteenth Amendment. Finally, 130 years after our founding, women were given the right to vote with the Nineteenth Amendment. Still, there has always been the subtext of limiting what seemed like the people’s power, with literacy tests, poll taxes, picture ID requirements, Citizen United, and in the Democratic Party, Superdelegates.

I don’t want to give the impression that I think the Oligarchy is monolithic, I don’t, however they do have common interests and Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders is a threat to those interests and the Oligarchy is fighting back.