Saturday, May 27, 2017

White Supremacist Terrorism in Portland

I hear the murders in Portland, Oregon, aren't getting a lot of attention, so despite having had a lovely day away from my computer, I feel as though I have to write something about them.

Basically, yesterday at 4:30 p.m. Pacific time on a light rail train, a 35-year-old white man was harassing a woman who was wearing hijab. Three other white men who didn't know each other stood up to him and told him to stop. The harasser then stabbed all three men, killing two of them and severely injuring the third.

As I understand it, the woman was not physically harmed, but I don't know how it all went down.

Tonight I learned this about the dead and injured men, and it made me cry. One was Daughter Number Three-Point-One's age, the other a veteran and father of four. The injured man is just 21.

Then I read this about the killer, Jeremy Christian, and it made me angry. It appears he was a hard-core white supremacist, well known as such, with a criminal history and lots of weapons charges along the way. Will he be seen as a terrorist? Probably not. Most people won't even hear about his crimes.

He's an anti-Semite but was a Bernie supporter. He's not a Trump supporter, but Trump has given him license to take his bile to a deadly level. His worldview is bizarre and clearly grounded in violence as the solution to everything. Yet he's just a more extreme version of the Minnesota woman who laid open the face of a hijab-wearing woman in an Applebee's restaurant because she was speaking a language other than English.

If you don't think this fits the definition of terrorism, think how it feels to women who wear hijab. Just because it isn't terrorism for everyone, doesn't mean it isn't terrorism.

The suppressing effect it may have on people being willing to stand up to defend Muslims or others being attacked or harassed is another obvious possibility. There's already way too much looking the other way happening. I hope this doesn't add to it.


Friday, May 26, 2017

Walking and Seeing Things

I spent a lot of time on foot in the neighborhood today, so this is what I have to share.

First, the patterns from a telephone pole:




Not exactly natural, in that the bark is stripped from the former tree that is now a pole. But a piece of beauty I had never noticed right at the end of my alley.

And then there is this tree root...


... quietly growing a little pond of clover.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Ooooohhhhhh No!

I nabbed a free strawberry pot in the alley today, and when I went to take a photo of it to send to a friend, I realized it was another case of pareidolia:


Oh, no! Mr. Bill!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

History in Paint

I had to do some painting today. It's been quite a few years since I've had occasion to get out the roller and pan, but as I was cleaning up after I finished, I realized the pan is a piece of my family history:


The yellow is from the dresser we painted for DN3.1 before she was born.

The blue is from her room when it was repainted as she became a teenager. (The ceiling is blue, too; that almost did my neck in.)

The dark mauve is from an accent wall in the entry of the office where I worked for 16 years. I think we did that painting in about 1990.

Looking at the pan made me think about all of the other painting projects that weren't represented. I guess I did a quicker job of cleaning up on those ones.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

It's a Big, Big State

I saw this online today:


I confess I had never thought about just how wide Alaska is. Wow. I know the Aleutians and the  Juneau strip are not the main part of the state, but that stretch startled me.

Monday, May 22, 2017

And Now a Moment of Relief

It's been a while since I've mentioned Daughter Number Three-Point-One, and here I am posting a doodle she made on a Yahtzee sheet a few weeks ago:


I don't know why. It just seemed kind of cool and a relief to post in the midst of bombings, high crimes and misdemeanors, and all sorts of havoc.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

The Diggers

One of my favorite songs (performed by Billy Bragg on video here). In this age of corporate greed and wealth inequality, it was on my mind today.

The World Turned Upside Down
© Leon Rosselson, 1975

In 1649 at St. George's Hill
A ragged band they called the Diggers
Came to show the people' s will.
They defied the landlords, they defied the laws.
They were the dispossessed reclaiming what was theirs

Chorus:
"We come in peace," they said, "to dig and sow.
We come to work the lands in common
and to make the waste land grow.
This earth divided we will make whole
So it will can be a common treasury for all."

"The sin of property we do disdain
No one has any right to buy and sell the earth for private gain
By theft and murder they took the land
Now everywhere the walls spring up at their command."

"They make the laws to chain us well:
Their clergy dazzle us with heaven or they damn us into hell.
We will not worship the god they serve!
The god of greed who feeds the rich while poor folk men starve."

"We work, we eat together, we need no swords
We will not bow to the masters or pay rent to the lords
Still we are free, though we are poor
You Diggers all, stand up for glory, stand up now!"

From the men of property, the orders came:
They sent their hired men and troopers
to wipe out the Diggers' claim,
Tear down their cottages, destroy their corn.
They were dispersed, but still — their vision lingers on.

"You poor take courage, you rich take care.
The earth was made a common treasury for everyone to share
All things in common, all people one
We come in peace" — the order came to cut them down.
The Diggers were real and the song is accurate on the history of what happened. In getting ready to post this, I realized there's a much older song called "The Diggers' Song." I'll have to look into that.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

More from the Alternate Reality of Trumplandia

Today, in its ongoing effort to prove it's "fair and balanced," the Star Tribune editorial page had three (count ’em, three!) pro-Trump letters in a row. The writers were replying to a recent commentary by local attorney Marshall Tanick, who was ruminating on using the 25th Amendment to remove the turnip from office.

These letters are... whew. We live in different realities, for sure:

THE TRUMP PRESIDENCY
Invoke the 25th Amendment? Better for Obama, not Trump.

As I was reading employment law attorney Marshall H. Tanick’s May 17 commentary regarding the use of the 25th Amendment to remove a president, I continually thought this article should have been published and acted upon about eight years ago. It was at this time that a very ill-equipped and ill-prepared Barack Obama was elected president. If the 25th Amendment had been activated during the beginning of his presidency, we would not now be faced with a badly broken health insurance system, a decimated health care structure, a barely recovering economy, low wages, continued underemployment, the ISIS takeover of Iraq, a decimated military, a sorely divided nation and a loss of respect from our allies abroad. All Mr. Tanick has to hang his constitutional hat on is fake news reports, rabid left-wing hatred of President Trump, illegal surveillance and leaks from anonymous sources to savage President Trump’s rather short-lived presidency.

Bob Maginnis, Edina

• • •

Tanick does not like Donald Trump, whom he describes as “maniacal” and “mentally unhinged.” Since Tanick is strangely silent on the reasons for this visceral antipathy, we are left to infer that it stems at least partly from some profound policy differences with the president.

Tanick’s proposal for resolving these differences involves Trump’s removal from office, a respite that would enable Trump to regain “any equilibrium he once may have had.” This sounds eerily similar to the former Soviet Union’s practice of treating any disagreement with the communist system as a form of mental illness.

Peter D. Abarbanel, Apple Valley

• • •

I am shocked and upset about the negative things said about our president! He is doing a great job of building our country back up after the last administration! We should be ashamed of ourselves of the way he is being treated. Do we want things to be the way they were before Donald Trump took office? I don’t think so!

Elaine Malakowsky, Chanhassen
All suburban writers, of course.

While I disagree with the second letter, I don't question that writer's grasp on reality. In contrast, I had to reread the first and third ones to make sure they weren't parodies. (Obama should have been removed under the 25th Amendment, but Trump is fine? "Do we want things to be the way they were before Donald Trump took office?"... Uh, yes.)

But nope. They're serious.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Ding Dong, Roger Ailes Is Dead

Regular readers may remember how I feel about tramping the dirt down on the graves of reprehensible people.

In that vein, here's a comment from the Twitter account of Christian McCrea:

Here's the only Roger Ailes obit you need. (From a Deadspin commenter):
This is true for so many (white) people I know, including me.

The comments that follow in McCrea's feed include this sequence:


The damage done by Roger Ailes and Rupert Murdoch may have happened if the two of them had never existed. The underlying structural changes to media regulation made during the Reagan years, including the demise of the Fairness Doctrine, allowed anyone awful enough to exploit the new system for profit.

But the reality we have to cope with is the one that has Fox News in it. So good riddance, Roger. The world is better off without you.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Data Visualization Needs to Be in Scale

I saw this graphic on Twitter this morning, courtesy of Jennifer Keesmaat, chief planner for the city of Toronto:


Yes, it takes a lot longer to stop the faster you're going. So I thought, Wow, great graphic, I'll have to save that.

And then I thought, Wait a minute... the data is accurate but the image is completely inaccurate! Here's what it should look like:



I had to make it a lot wider to show the relative distances, and while I was at it, I added our retrograde American miles and feet translations.

In St. Paul and other towns and cities in Minnesota we are stuck with a 30 mph speed limit. We can't change it to even 25, let alone 20, which would obviously make pedestrians a lot safer (if drivers of cars obey the speed limit).

And that's not even getting into the difference in the force of impact at these various speeds; that also goes up exponentially.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Animal Paintings

Walking through an elementary school recently, I saw some paintings I just had to share.

First, this poor bereft cat:


A hummingbird without a flower:


And finally, a big-headed orange cat with an attitude:


Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Insulting and Irritating

I'm not the intended audience, but this hiring campaign at one of my local Taco Bell restaurant's insults the intelligence of anyone who sees it. What, if any, result could it have as its intended purpose, which is to hire workers?

First, I saw this poster on the outer door:


Riiiiight. The work at a fast-food restaurant is almost so much fun that workers would pay to be there. They're playing pan guitar constantly in the kitchen. I believe that. The reality is, it's not clever to imply work doesn't need to be paid if it's fun enough. Especially when it's not fun.

The next poster is just...


I can't even grok the depth of stupidity that would lead someone to think it was witty to say you can be trained to have fun. And the photo grasps at a way to illustrate fun, while infantilizing the model (and by implication the employees) at the same time.


This one is less weird, but the overly friendly looks on the two models' faces are so artificial (especially the woman). But I admit, if it weren't for the two posters, this cutout wouldn't have caught my attention.

Meanwhile, who is actually working at this Taco Bell? What does it seem like to work there?


Three youngish black men and a Latino (the other three are working the drive through and in the kitchen). It looks like any other fast food restaurant you'd ever see. No one having any particular fun, just doing their jobs.

Again, I wonder, how did this campaign get done? Who thought it was a good idea? Will anyone who wants a fast-food job believe its message?