Monday, December 14, 2015

White stuff

Started snowing yesterday, still coming down lightly.

Just shoveled 8" off the walk, did a store run, now to settle down and binge watch something. Suggestions welcome. 

Friday, December 11, 2015

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Why the surprise and dismay?

So he opened his mouth again. It's not coming as a surprise to anyone, or at least it shouldn't.

I don't even have to write his name, do I......nope.

What does surprise me somewhat, is how some blogs are expressing surprise or concern, as though this was the first time he's said something that should make most people shudder.

Our GOP candidates (the other ones) after carefully avoiding saying anything negative about him for weeks and months are finally issuing rebukes.

So if you haven't turned on a tv, radio or a computer-like device in the last 48 hours, here's the deal:
He said he thinks the US should refuse entry into the country to any Muslim, including US citizens who are returning to the US.

Yeah, repugnant, and about as far away from what I understand to be American Values as one can go. However, it's not unlike him to say something like this, not at all. He's said all manner of insulting things about Asians, African Americanscs, women, you name them, he's probably insulted them.

Now suddenly this is one toke over the line??

Let me remind you what some blogs have said about him in the past:

"Will this be The Donald's true, lasting legacy...his willingness to say things out loud that would leave other weak-kneed politicians issuing serial apologies? Would that really be such a bad thing?"

Another refers to him as "refreshing"

Well, he's being willing to say things that should make most cringe, so I guess that's refreshing.

Why back away from him now?  He's being as un-PC as one can be, that's what you like, right?

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Saturday Second Thoughts

A comment from the now well-known NY Times front page editorial post. The first one done since the '20's, I believe. It goes to the heart of what I think the debate is about, and the arguments postured by the nra and it's minions.

"I own about a half dozen guns. All long guns, shotguns mostly. All for hunting, which I have done for 40 years. The gun lobby's position is intellectually dishonest. There are 3 main arguments they make: (1) Constitutional. Setting aside the legal debate (I am a lawyer) this is a red herring. The gun lobby would not support amending the Constitution to allow more restrictive laws, so arguing about the intent of the second amendment is irrelevant. (2) Policy. The gun lobby holds that laws restricting gun access do not work because the criminals obtain them illegally. This is is undoubtedly true. However, even if it could be unequivically demonstrated that certain restrictive guns laws do work, the gun lobby would still not support the restriction. Clearly, then, this too is a red herring. (3) The cost of freedom. This is the real argument, the heart and soul of it all. That is, in a free society, there are certain costs to certain freedoms. It is essential and foundational to our national spirit and way of life to be as free from governmental intrusion and restriction as possible. Ok, fair enough. Let's have that debate. Let's look honestly and directly into that sun and say, yes, the children of Sandy Hook are the cost of this particular freedom as conceived by the gun lobby and its adherents. I'm not willing to pay that cost."

Says it all, doesn't it? If we are just going to let this one slide, as some blogs say is inevitable, then let's out and say it. Let's be up front to those who follow and will someday read our words and make their judgment. Let's say it to them, let's say it to the families of the children at Sandy Hook, and all the other schools, malls, wherever this happens. Let's say "Sorry, your kids are just the price we pay. Thanks for bearing that price, bad luck for you." 

Saturday, November 28, 2015

What the headline should have read: with addendum

"Radical Christian Terrorist Kills 3, Wounds 5 at Women's Health Center"

A note on how to blame the victim, a way to subtly imply that 'if the victim hadn't been...'   This is from comments section of an article about the shooting.

"Let's say this guy was Pro-Life. I'd also guess he was deranged.
Should we all just stop talking about what PP actually does?
For fear a few lone nutters will off script and stat shooting?"
"About time we haul the socialist off to camps. And starve them and sell their parts. They've been doing to it to us for decades. Starving us with the high taxes as well as the parts peddling. We ought to return the favor."

This is but one example of how we look for fault in the victim. A rape victim shouldn't have worn a short dress, a victim of a police murder shouldn't have been out at 2am or shoplifting. With self-righteous vigor we say that yes the police shouldn't have shot them 16times, but hey, the kid was breaking some law, and probably on drugs. And the white audience nods.  
The right wing of the gop has been notably silent on this, as have most churches and religious institution. None are coming to the discussion of what happened to Planned Parenthood. Isn't it ironic that they are doing exactly what they've been accusing Muslims of doing? The difference is that their accusations are inaccurate, while their silence speaks volumes. 
As a new blog I read says, 'so it goes'. 

Saturday, November 21, 2015

The Med: Gibraltar and Lisboa

This is the last post on the Med cruise, the last two stops, Gibraltar and Lisboa (Lisbon). Two places I'd not visited before. The interest I had in Gibraltar was entirely about being able to sail out through the straits, the 12 mile wide opening to the Atlantic from the Mediterranean. I did take one of the ships tours around the exceedingly small territory of the UK, but the lasting memory was seeing Africa for the first time, and the sensation of going out through the straits.

The rock of Gibraltar. Doesn't look much like the Prudential picture.

From the other side.

From a distance.

Africa, from Gibraltar. 12 miles across the straits.

These were all taken sailing out towards the Atlantic.


And last, how I would have liked to have gone out through the straits:

Now, on to Lisboa. If I had more time there, it might have surpassed Italy as a favorite place. It has a huge harbor, and has been compared to San Francisco with good reason.

And then there is this bridge....look familar?

Yep, same person designed this one as the GG. 

The rest of the city was delightful. Old, shabby, chic, modern, it varied and was different every block. 

And last, the place we picked for lunch....I had grilled octapus, excellent. But here was my view out the door.  Study the picture. Do I know places to have a good lunch or what? 

So it ended. The next day flew to Heathrow, stayed a night and back to the states. Quite a trip. 

Thursday, November 19, 2015

State's rights vs Federal? The Bermuda conference redux? It's had to know where to start.

So far there are around 30 or more governors, mostly the gop, who have proclaimed that no Syrian immigrants will be allowed into their states. And one of our more repugnant gop presidential candidates (a low bar indeed) has said he wouldn't allow Muslims in the immigrant mix. It's unclear if he'd deport those presently here and citizens.

Perhaps if the gop folk would read past the sacrosanct 2nd amendment they might realize that it's not within their purview to decide who gets to live in their state. One of my favorite governors, Tom McCall of Oregon, tried that around 1970 to keep  Californians out of Oregon. Didn't work worth a hoot.  So these bozos politicizing the immigrant plight to further show their dislike for the President is about as valid as my saying "No more Texans in Montana", and less worthy.

In 1943 the US and the UK had an opportunity to evacuate and take in thousands of Jewish refugees, some still in Europe (Portugal, Spain, 'neutral France'), they met in Bermuda and decided that it would be unpopular at home. In 1939 the US had the chance to evacuate 100,000 Jewish refugees, mostly women and children, from Europe. FDR had poll taken, and only 6% of those polled were in favor.

And here we are again. This time, at the gop's urging, the US population seems to be ignoring the facts of the matter, and going on fear and fearmongery.  It's being completely ignored that our situation in regard to immigrants is night and day compared to Europe. None, repeat none, of the terrorists acts in the US have been committed by immigrants. We don't have boats of undocumented refugees landing on the shores of South Carolina, or California (well, maybe the odd Mexican who has a boat). It's the least efficient, and the least likely method that a terrorist is going to use to gain entry to the US. It's much easier and safer to simply get a passport from France, the UK, Belgium, etc and come. Or get a student visa from Saudi Arabia. It takes a minimum of two years, living out of this country, probably in a refugee camp, to get entry as an immigrant. Two years, and likely longer. Why in hell would any terrorist do this instead of getting a compliant Saudi government to issue them a student visa?

Why then is every gop senator, congressman, governor and able to talk spouting the demagogy we're hearing about 'no more middle east immigrants', or even 'no Muslim immigrants'?

Because they know it plays. They know there are enough of us out there who'll  nod and say 'damn right', and pop another budweiser. Facts, truth, don't matter to the gop. Fear and emotions do.

Land of the free, and home of the brave. As long as you aren't one of the groups immortalized in this poem:

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”

― Emma Lazarus

Sorry Emma, those days are long gone.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Back to the Med: Cartagena

The city of Cartagena Spain was one of the last stops for the ship. Located on the southern Mediterranean coast, it's been a city for two millennium.  The Romans occupied it until around 400 CE, and used it as a port and a regional capital. When the Romans pulled out, the city underwent the same circumstances as much of the rest of Europe: occupied by the Vandals, Visigoths and then the Muslims. To it's credit Cartagena was the main port of the Spanish Republican Navy, fighting Franco in 1939.

It's Roman past comes to importance when in 1995 a construction crew started excavating for a new building and discovered ruins and debris. After extensive digging by archaeologists, this was discovered:

When other excavations were started in other parts of town for other projects, much the same thing was found....Roman ruins. An unfortunate byproduct of this has been that developers have pretty much written off the city for future investments. 

The rest of the city is equally lovely, with the usual accompaniment of piazzas, side streets, open air markets and cafe's with outdoor seating that invite long periods contemplating live over a glass or two of wine. 

One thing I found interesting is the market changes at around noon from this:

To this:

The colorful food stalls are replaced by various clothing and merchandise. I didn't see this in other markets, but perhaps I didn't go at the right time. It all happens within an hour. 

Next post will be the last one about this trip, Gibraltar and Lisboa. 

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Catalan.....Barcelona and Valencia

The next stops were Barcelona and Valencia, cities within the region known as Catalan, which recently voted for complete independence from Spain. It will be interesting to see how Spain, or at least the government, reacts. Thus far, they have declared the vote and results illegal and unconstitutional.


Barcelona has a huge market in the central district, enclosed in something of the size of a football stadium. It was fascinating and crowded, I could have stayed for hours. 

Just outside one of the entrances was a small shop named 'Churros and Chocolate', the title of the book for a Spanish class I once took. The chocolate was thick and rich, much denser than what we usually think of when we think hot chocolate. 

A bit later we had lunch at a out of the way cafe with outside tables, as most restaurants there have. The waitress was friendly and talkative, at least until I ordered. Turns out she's a vegetarian. 

I liked Barcelona, the people seemed friendly. And everywhere was the Catalan flag, I don't remember seeing the Spanish flag at all. 

A place I'd be happy to go back. 


Monday, November 9, 2015

Toulon and Palamos

I'm going to combine a few places, in truth it's all kind of melding together in my memory, which was where, etc.

Toulon is one of the many places in Europe I've not visited....I lived here for nearly a year, visited many other time for 2-4 weeks, but the south coast, the med coast of France and Spain were unknown to me. This visit to the Med coast were a treat for me, and broadened my view of Europe, previous mainly of North Europe and the UK.

As others have opined, cruises are not the way to first visit Europe. You see little of what is actually life out there on the shore, and mostly what life is like on the boat. I had a very good time, and it's an experience that I've never considered before. I'm happy about the whole experience. It's fun, but don't expect to experience the culture's you're visiting.

So, Toulon France, and Palamos Spain.

Palamos was noticeably different than France. The food was more seafood/fish based, the people less self-conscious, the cities both more relaxed and more shabby. 

The last pic is me back on board, out on our balcony/veranda with the spoils of the day, a baguette from the local bakery, various eats gathered on the days activity.