My Very First Sneaky Pic

It was the last day of classes (or maybe the day after, I don’t honestly remember at this point) at the University of Arizona in Tucson, 1976. Since I would shortly be returning home to Phoenix for the summer, I was out taking photos around campus (with my old Kodak Tourist Camera that shot eight—eight—photos per roll of film) and as I was leaving the Student Union, I caught sight of this fine specimen leaving as well. I kept a discreet distance as I followed, hoping to find out where he was heading and maybe use the single remaining shot available on that roll of film to capture him.

Imagine my surprise when he stopped on the mall right outside the Union, stripped off his shirt, and sprawled out in all his glory on the grass to eat an apple. As George Takei would say, “Oh my~~~~~y!”

I never found out where he was headed. I wonder where he is now, 40 years later?

Artists Strike Back

Thankfully Herr Trump will not get anywhere near the White House, so his proposal for an unbuildable wall (of any color) will never come to fruition.

Via Dezeen:

Trump’s Mexican Border Wall Envisioned As Barragán-Inspired Pink Barrier

Mexican firm Estudio 3.14 has visualised the “gorgeous perversity” of US presidential candidate Donald Trump’s plan to build a wall along the countries’ border.

In response to the controversial proposal, a group of interns at the Guadalajara-based studio came up with a conceptual design that would celebrate Mexico’s architectural heritage.

The giant solid barrier would run 1,954 miles (3,145 kilometres) uninterrupted from the Pacific coast to the Gulf of Mexico, and be painted bright pink in the spirit of the 20th-century buildings by Pritzker Prize-winning Mexican architect Luis Barragán.

“Because the wall has to be beautiful, it has been inspired in by Luis Barragán’s pink walls that are emblematic of Mexico,” said the studio. “It also takes advantage of the tradition in architecture of megalomaniac wall building.”

Republican candidate Trump announced his idea to build a wall along the US-Mexico border early in his campaign, as his solution to keeping illegal Mexican immigrants out of America.

The team suggests that the wall could employ up to six million personnel. It could also incorporate shopping centre straddling its width, and a viewpoint from which US citizens could climb up and look down onto the other side.

5,253 Days

That’s how long I lived in San Francisco.

The other day I realized that I’ve now probably been gone from The City longer than I actually lived there. Some calculations verified that suspicion. I’ve been gone—and haven’t even been back for a visit—for 5,367 days.

Based on two prior attempts to leave The City’s siren call, when I returned to Phoenix in 2002, I had assumed it would be short term; a port to weather the economic storm that gripped the country post 9/11. But then something happened. I actually grew to like it here.

And then cancer diagnosis arrived. I came out of the ordeal a changed person; I looked at the Mark who existed prior to the diagnosis and wanted nothing more to do with him—and by extension the city that had contributed so much to who he had become.

To be honest, the intervening years have produced an occasional pang of homesickness when I stumble across a particularly stunning photograph of The City, but it passes quickly when I realize how circumstances brought me to the beautiful life I have now with Ben and that San Francisco has very much become a city for the young and obscenely wealthy; two demographics to which I definitely do not belong.

A Must Read

Burning Down The House

Timothy Egan, NYT:

A wounded bear is a dangerous thing. Detested and defeated, Donald Trump is now in a tear-the-country-down rage. Day after day, he rips at the last remaining threads of decency holding this nation together. His opponent is the devil, he says—hate her with all your heart. Forget about the rule of law. Lock her up!

He’s made America vile. He’s got angel-voiced children yelling “bitch” and flipping the bird at rallies. He’s got young athletes chanting “build a wall” at Latino kids on the other side. He’s made it O.K. to bully and fat-shame. He’s normalized perversion, bragging about how an aging man with his sense of entitlement can walk in on naked women.

Here’s his lesson for young minds: If you’re rich and boorish enough, you can get away with anything. Get away with sexual assault. Get away with not paying taxes. Get away with never telling the truth. Get away with flirting with treason. Get away with stiffing people who work for you, while you take yours. Get away with mocking the disabled, veterans and families of war heroes.

You know this by now —all the sordid details. For much of the last year, the Republican presidential nominee has been a freak show, an oh-my-God spectacle. He opens his mouth, our cellphones blow up. But now, in the final days of a horrid campaign, an unshackled Trump is more national threat than punch line. He’s determined to cause lasting damage.

Is there one sector of society he has yet to maul? Until this week, it was the denial wing of his own party, those “leaders” who looked the other way while their leader walked all over the Constitution.

But those who take pleasure in watching Trump destroy the Republican Party are missing the bigger picture. He’s trying to destroy the country, as well. Civility, always a tenuous thing, cannot be quickly restored in a society that has learned to hate in public, at full throttle.

Trump has made compassion suspect. Don’t reach out to starving refugees — they’re killers in disguise. Don’t give to a charity that won’t reward you in some way. Don’t pay taxes that build roads and offer relief to those washed away in a hurricane. That’s a sucker’s game. We’re not all in this together. Taxes are for stupid people.

Every sexual predator now has a defender at the top of the Republican ticket. The most remarkable thing about last Sunday’s debate was Anderson Cooper having to school a 70-year-old man on workplace taboos that most of us learn on our first job.

“You described kissing women without consent, grabbing their genitals,” said Cooper. “That is sexual assault. You bragged that you have sexually assaulted women. Do you understand that?”

What you heard was the lecture the human resources director gives just before saying, “You’re fired.” Trump could not get hired at the drive-through window at a Jack in the Box. Knowing about his history would make any employer liable. It took decades to get the workplace to that point where Trumpian predators are shunned. Given the biggest pulpit in the world, Trump is trying to bring that consensus down.

He calls it locker room talk. The locker room has pushed back, resoundingly. Let’s call it what it is—the workplace. And as Trump told Howard Stern in 2005, when he bragged about his voyeur intrusions into backstage beauty pageants, “I sort of get away with things like that.” He made a similar comment—the blueprint for his actions—in the 2005 television tape that has blown up in his face. If he can do it, any creep outside of the celebrity bubble should be able to get away with the same thing.

He’s destroyed whatever moral standing leading Christian conservatives had — starting with Mike Pence. Their selective piety is not teachable. Take solace in one of the small acts of courage breaking out in recent days: a group of students at Liberty University telling their Trump-supporting president, Jerry Falwell Jr., to practice what the school preaches.

Trump is “actively promoting the very things that we Christians ought to oppose,” the students wrote. These young people, at least, are smart enough to see what Trump is doing to their world.

It will take many people like those students, and like the first lady, Michelle Obama, a model of decency and class, to repair the awful damage Trump has done.

In a powerful speech Thursday, the nation’s most respected public figure scorned the “hurtful, hateful language” of Trump and its effect on children: “The shameful comments about our bodies. The disrespect of our ambitions and intellect. The belief that you can do anything to a woman. It’s cruel. It’s frightening.”

So it has come to this: The core lessons that bind a civilized society are in play in the last days of this election. We long for family dinners where Trump no longer intrudes, for tailgate parties where football is all that matters, for normalcy. Remember those days? They may be gone forever.

Bitching and Moaning

Or, as I like to call it, further adventures in Apple, Fix Your Shit!

I honestly don’t know why I do it. Every time there’s a new OS available I immediately jump on it. It’s not just an Apple thing; I used to do the same thing with Windows. In fact, as I’m sure I’ve written here before, it was a misbehaving Windows 7 Beta that sent me into the arms of Steve Jobs to begin with.

Sadly, Steve is no longer with us, and perhaps more importantly, Apple’s signature truism “It just works!” also apparently died with him.

Having learned my lesson with the Yosemite Betas a couple years ago, I eschewed loading either El Capitan or Sierra on anything more than an external hard drive until the final product was released to the public. With Sierra I actually jumped the gun a bit: I loaded the Gold Master Beta right before the public release and had no issues whatsoever (beyond the ones I’d been having with every OS since Mavericks).

The public release of Sierra however brought a slew of new glitches. They aren’t work-stopping or kernel-panic inducing, but they are annoying as hell.

The most visible one is the fact that no matter how many times I check off boxes in any of the System Preferences panels to show their particular icons on the menu bar, they won’t stay turned on. With each reboot, all the icons have disappeared.

In fact, the only way I was able keep the icons appearing on a consistent basis was by doing this:

Yes, I had to manually add every .menu item to the Login Items panel that I wanted to actually reappear when I rebooted.

The next problem was the inordinate amount of time it would take to shut down or log off. We were talking minutes—something that all previous versions (including the Gold Master Beta) did not suffer from. I traced that glitch to something with File Vault, Apple’s whole-disk encryption scheme that I’d been using without incident since Mavericks. I solved that issue by turning it off.

I tried using the new Photos app—going so far as to import all my personal photos because it was nice to see everything arranged in time and space in an easily-accessible format. But damn if it didn’t send my MacBook’s fans into overdrive (much like Adobe Bridge, but that’s a rant best saved for another time) even when it wasn’t actively loaded. (It apparently does its piss-poor facial recognition and indexing on the database when the application isn’t running.)

Then there’s iTunes, the bloated Frankenstein monster that Apple apparently has no intention of breaking apart into separate components as much as it needs to be done. “Slap another coat of paint on it and call it a day. No one cares about the Mac anymore. Aren’t you needed over in iOS?”

I’m sorry, but that’s the feeling I’m getting from Apple lately. Everything is about the iPhone. They stopped being a computer company years ago; those devices are just a sideline to their phone business.

And that’s sad, because as much as I like my iPhone, it will never replace my laptop.

But who am I? I’m in a demographic that doesn’t even register on Apple’s radar any more.

And yet I’m still not ready to jump ship and return to Microsoft. Supporting that nightmare if only on a professional basis still sends my stomach acid churning, and for all the bitching and moaning I do about Apple, it’s still far and away my preference for my own computing needs. I have thought about reverting my OS back to El Capitan, Yosemite, or even Mavericks, but even that process has become unnecessarily cumbersome, basically requiring that an entire day be set aside for the OS reinstall,  reloading of every single application, and manually transferring all my data. I’m sorry, but that’s one of the many reasons I gave up on Microsoft…

Quote of the Day

Donald Trump is not a black swan, an unforeseen event erupting upon an unsuspecting Republican Party. He is the end result of conscious and deliberate choices by the GOP, going back decades, to demonize its opponents, to polarize and obstruct, to pursue policies that enfeeble the political weal and to yoke the bigot and the ignorant to their wagon and to drive them by dangling carrots that they only ever intended to feed to the rich. Trump’s road to the candidacy was laid down and paved by the Southern Strategy, by Lee Atwater and Newt Gingrich and Karl Rove, by Fox News and the Tea Party, and by the smirking cynicism of three generations of GOP operatives, who have been fracking the white middle and working classes for years, crushing their fortunes with their social and economic policies, never imagining it would cause an earthquake….

But they don’t control Trump, which they are currently learning to their great misery. And the reason the GOP doesn’t control Trump is that they no longer control their base. The GOP trained their base election cycle after election cycle to be disdainful of government and to mistrust authority, which ultimately is an odd thing for a political party whose very rationale for existence is rooted in the concept of governmental authority to do. The GOP created a monster, but the monster isn’t Trump. The monster is the GOP’s base. Trump is the guy who stole their monster from them, for his own purposes.” ~ John Scalzi

I Can Relate To This

And I blame the Internets.

“I used to be that person who read two 400-page books a week. Now I carry around a book with me everywhere I go to try and remember what it feels like to feel that connection within the pages because I can’t concentrate to read further than a paragraph, or remember it, for that matter. Every time I see someone engrossed in a novel, it’s bittersweet, because I miss what it is like to get lost in the written word. I just want to be able to read like that again.”

14 Sayings Today’s Kids Will Never Understand

We use these sayings all the time and never think about where they came from because those of us “of a certain age” (basically anyone born before 2000 lived through most of them. But, kids use these phrases without even knowing what they mean. They have no idea what VCRs are or what copies used to look (or smell!) like. Here are a handful of the sayings we use that most kids today will not understand.

1. “Broken Record”
Few kids today will understand the annoying sound a broken record makes, skipping on repeat. But, most kids know the phrase means someone who sounds repetitive.

2. “Roll the Window Down”
Before power-everything, we rolled down the windows of a car with a crank that rolled. Well, ok, so maybe the kids of classic car collectors will understand this one.

3. “Hang Up the Phone”
Back then you actually had to hang up the phone on the receiver in order to end the call. Kids who’ve only ever used cell phones or cordless phones won’t have a clue how we used to talk on the phone.

4. “Rewind”
Ok, due to the resurgence in cassette tapes, some kids may know what this one means. Remember rewinding machines for VHS tapes? Blast from the past!

5. “Close, But No Cigar”
Once upon a time, cigars were among the prizes given out at carnivals. When you inevitably did not win, this phrase was the only consolation prize.

6. “Been Through the Wringer”
Back when washing day was an all-day affair, the clothes would need to be wrung out. Even folks who had a washing machine often did not have a dryer. Most kids today wouldn’t even know what a wringer is!

7. “On the Flip Side”
The other side of the record is something kids won’t experience (unless they’re into vinyl). They still use this term, many without understanding where it comes from.

8. “Blowing Off Steam”
Back when trains were the main form of long-distance transport for people and for cargo, the steam engines had to occasionally release steam in order to stabilize the whole mechanism. It was so much fun to ride the train back then! Kids today are really missing out.

9. “Ditto”
Ditto is a popular term these days, but most kids have no idea that it refers to an early form of copy machine. Used from the 1920s to the 1980s, the small machine produced mimeograph-like copies on the cheap, and those of us who went to school during those years will never forget the smell of a fresh ditto.

10. “Drop a Dime”
Way back when people used public pay phones, you would drop a dime into the coin slot in order to make a call. It’s hard to believe sometimes that a call used to be that cheap!

11. “Johnny Law”
The hero of the day, Johnny Law, will fight for justice! The DC comic book character of Johnny Law made such an impression on us that we still use this phrase to mean police officers. In the Golden Age of comics, from the 1930s into the 1950s, Johnny Law was a role model for kids across America.

12. “Clean Slate”
Chalkboards used to be used in every single classroom. Back in the old days, they were made with slate. Thus, a clean slate is the fresh start of a new day, when the mistakes of yesterday have been erased. Kids today are used to dry erase boards and computers.

13. “Ring Up a Purchase”
Oh so many years ago, a cash register was manual and had an actual physical bell inside of it that rang when the lever was pulled for the bill total. Remember hearing that familiar sound?

14. “Stay Tuned”
Back when TV and radio stations had to be tuned to the right frequency to o get good reception and enjoy your program, before a commercial the announcer would tell everyone to “stay tuned” for the rest of the show. How long has it been since you used a tuning dial?!

It’s funny how our technology changes, yet our vocabulary still reflects a time long gone. We remember a time when records and train travel were common. Even though kids won’t know what these sayings really refer to, they’ll still be used years from now!

(This original article was written by Rose Heichelbech and published on Dusty Old Thing)

This Ain’t Your Father’s Westworld

When I first heard that HBO was remaking the 1970s scifi classic Westworld, I was more than a little apprehensive. While Westworld was not by any means great 20th century cinema in like 2001: A Space Odyssey, it was still good—and after seeing it again only about a year ago, I felt it held up well and  in my estimation didn’t need to be remade.

Well, I’ve now seen the first two episodes of HBO’s journey into the world based on Michael Crichton’s closer-than-we’d-like-to-believe future, and I have to say that any doubts I may have had have been erased and it’s become one of my personal “must see” series this year.

Much like the team that took the original Battlestar Galactica and turned it on its head, Jonathan Nolan, J.J. Abrams & company have reimaged the original in such a way that I was immediately drawn in with its believability. We’re only two episodes into the story, but it’s already raising fundamental questions about the nature of sentience and what constitutes life itself—much like Galactica. There’s also a decidedly sinister undercurrent to the whole operation; the park itself is only the outward manifestation of much darker things going on behind the scenes. By who and for what reason is one of the great mysteries already presented to the viewer. If I could binge watch the entire series right now, I would, because I want to know what happens next. It’s that good.

From the Collider review:

Westworld seems determined to take a no-holds-barred approach to morality in the face of rapid technological advancement. It’s not about humans, it’s about humanity. What makes it? Who has it? Does our biology make us human? Or is it something more elusive? And can that essence, whatever it is, be translated into electrical impulse? Can A.I. be human? And what does “human” even mean in a world where technology and reality can blend so easily?

You see what I mean, it’s pretty deep stuff. The series is essentially a meditation on consciousness, and all the pros and pratfalls that come with an aware state of mind, both human and artificial.

“It’s questioning where does life begin,” Nolan said,”and what characterizes the importance of life, whether it is a human who is dictated by biological impulses, and neuron synapsing, and the double helixes of DNA entwined within our bodies, or whether it’s an artificial being that’s coded with zeros and ones.”

What makes a person good or bad? And can that which we create achieve a conscience all its own? Can it decide upon its own sense of right and wrong? These are the questions at the heart of Westworld‘s compelling narrative set-up.

On top of that, Westworld asks some pretty uncomfortable questions of its viewers — well, at least if you ascribe to conventional morality. “Who are we when we don’t think anybody’s keeping score?” Nolan asked, and that’s really the crux of the human characters in a narrative where we’re set to identify first and foremost with the robots. Who would you become in an environment like Westworld? How far would you go? And could you stomach watching a “person” brutally suffer, maybe even die, at your hand with every emotion rendered in explicit detail? If you knew they were naught but circuit boards and wires inside, what would you be capable of? And would that internal circuitry immediately deem them somehow less than the biological circuitry that dictates human life?


“We have had enough of the hatreds [this man Trump] has unleashed and the apologists in the media who have not stood up and have called him what he is: a fascist who wants to end this democracy.”

There’s nothing patriotic about the lunatic outrage of the angry white male Trump voter. Real Americans have had enough.