Posted by: coastcontact | January 17, 2018

Nighttime on a canal in Venice, Italy

 

 

For centuries this city was a major world power and center of culture, religion, learning, commerce—and heaps of intrigue. Consisting of hundreds of lagoon islands connected by some 400 or so bridges, Venice, Italy, long ago relinquished the title of global mover and shaker. Still, it remains a unique treasure beloved by residents and beset by hordes of tourists during the high season. Quiet scenes such as this can still be had, though, if you wander through the backstreets and over the bridges after the tour groups and cruise ships have departed. And if you listen very closely, you may hear echoes of intrigues past.

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Posted by: coastcontact | January 16, 2018

Trump – Nixon

 

 

Trump-Nixon by Theo Moudakis of the

Toronto Star

Posted by: coastcontact | January 14, 2018

The Fury of Mother Nature

First it was the Thomas fire that started in Ventura County in California and spread north to Santa Barbara County.  Even as the fire was about 95% controlled the rain came in the very same area.  Without ground cover the dirt and rock washed down canyon slopes into Montecito.  The result was the flood bringing more deaths than the fire.

This is not a river.  It is U.S. 101 in Montecito, California

Tanker trucks sucked muddy water from flooded sections of U.S. 101, the only direct major artery between Los Angeles and the Santa Barbara region.There is no date set when the highway will re-open.  Montecito mudslide deaths now total 19.  Searchers are still digging through the mud and muck looking for survivors.

Posted by: coastcontact | January 12, 2018

Quantum Leap – An Alternate World

Are we living in an alternate world? Have we all passed through some kind of time warp where hate is good and peace is bad? Is this a world where the South has slavery and Hitler won World War 2?

When I turn on my computer each morning I am greeted with the latest news.  Since being retired I have the time to obtain in-depth reports and read some really interesting magazines. My problem is that too many of the reports do not seem real.

For me it started when John Kennedy was assassinated.  I could not believe that could happen in our society.  Without reviewing all of the tragedies that have happened since that day in November 1963 I am now horrified to see that the president of the United States is a racist and a bigot.  I am horrified to see politicians more concerned about gaining points for their political party rather than making decisions that are in the best interest of this nation.

Am I waking up each day in some alternate reality rather than the one that seems logical to me?

Wikipedia lists fictions about alternate realities Below are some they list but my favorite is George Orwell’s 1984.  That is a story telling of a world where the government tells its people that things are not as they appear (like war is peace). The Ministry of Love is in charge of torture.

  • Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle, wrote The Blazing World (1666), a book far ahead of its time, in which the heroine passes through a portal near the North Pole to a world with different stars in the sky and talking animals.
  • Ludvig Holberg, Danish-Norwegian author, historian and philosopher, wrote Niels Klim’s Underground Travels (in Latin as Nicolai Klimii iter subterraneum, 1741). The hero Niels Klim slips into a cave and reaches Nazar, a planet inside the hollow Earth, where societies and beings represent satirical comments to existing contemporary ones.
  • Edwin Abott Abbott, mathematician and theologian, wrote Flatland (1884), also known as Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions. It recounts the story of a two-dimensional world inhabited by living geometric figures: triangles, squares, circles, etc., and explores concepts of other dimensions (or universes) including Pointland, Lineland, and Spaceland. A feature film adaptation of this novella was made in 2007, called Flatland.
  • H. G. Wells wrote what is apparently the first explicit paratime novel, Men Like Gods (1923), complete with a multiverse theory and a paratime machine.
  • Murray Leinster‘s story “Sidewise in Time” (1934), showing different parts of the Earth somehow occupied by different parallel universes, was influential in science fiction.

Trump decries immigrants from ‘shithole countries’ coming to US

Donald Trump calls the countries of the Caribbean, Latin America, and Africa “shit holes” and wants immigration from countries like Norway and then in the next breath tells us that “Today we celebrate Dr. King for standing up for the self-evident truth Americans hold so dear, that no matter the color of our skin, or the place of our birth we are all created equal by God.”

Stop this world! I want to get off!

Posted by: coastcontact | January 10, 2018

The Taj Mahal

The Taj Mahal,The Taj Mahal in Agra, India

Another spectacular photo when I start my computer.

The Taj Mahal in Agra, India

We’re taking a slightly unconventional look at what many consider the most beautiful building in the world, the Taj Mahal. We won’t argue with that opinion—there aren’t enough superlatives in any language to capture the splendor of this white marble mausoleum in Agra, India.

But, back to the view: Most images capture the Taj Mahal from the front, at the end of a splendid line of formal gardens. Here, we’re looking at the rear of the structure from across the Yamuna River. There is likely no angle where the Taj Mahal doesn’t look magnificent, and its reflection in the waters of Yamuna only enhances the sublime display.

Posted by: coastcontact | January 8, 2018

Obsequious

Our language skills have improved thanks to “fake news.”

The viewership spike for cable news shows no signs of slowing down. Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC all saw double-digit ratings growth.

It has been reported that thanks to Donald Trump more people are watching the news.  Mr. Trump himself watches Jake Tapper’s “State of the Union” on CNN.  We know that because he tweeted: Jake Tapper of Fake News CNN just got destroyed in his interview with Stephen Miller of the Trump Administration. Watch the hatred and unfairness of this CNN flunky!

Here is what brought on the above tweet. On Sunday, White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller dropped by Jake Tapper’s CNN studio to appear on State of the Union and defend his boss, President Donald Trump, from allegations made in the hottest new political book in the country — Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House.

The interview was contentious from the very beginning. During the interview Miller repeatedly accused Tapper of being condescending. Miller attacked CNN of being the peddler of fake news. It should go without saying that Miller’s performance was aimed squarely at Trump, but Tapper said it anyway. “There’s one viewer that you care about right now and you’re being obsequious,” Tapper said near the end of the segment. Tapper finally cut Miller off. “You’re being a factotum in order to please him,” Tapper said. “I think I’ve wasted enough of my viewers’ time. Thank you, Stephen.”

That CNN flunky is one smart dude. Using the words obsequious and factotum.

So what do they mean?  I asked merriam-webster.com

 

Obsequious – An obsequious person is more likely to be a follower than a leader. Use that fact to help you remember the meaning of “obsequious.” All you need to do is bear in mind that the word comes from the Latin root sequi, meaning “to follow.”

 

Factotum – 1 : a person having many diverse activities or responsibilities. 2 : a general servant.

 

Jake Tapper is a Dartmouth College graduate earning Phi Beta Kappa and magna cum laude with a B.A. in history modified by visual studies. He has also joined the University of Southern California School of Cinema-Television.

This is not fake news!

Posted by: coastcontact | January 4, 2018

Irrational Exuberance?

The Dow Jones average broke 25,000 today.  The Dow has risen 28% in the past year and the S&P 500 has risen 21%.

“Irrational exuberance” is a phrase used by the then-Federal Reserve Board chairman, Alan Greenspan, in a speech given at the American Enterprise Institute during the dot-com bubble of the 1990s.  The stock market was on a tear.  We all know how that ended.

The dotcom bubble occurred in the late 1990s and was characterized by a rapid rise in equity markets fueled by investments in Internet-based companies. During the dotcom bubble, the value of equity markets grew exponentially, with the technology-dominated NASDAQ index rising from under 1,000 to more than 5,000 between 1995 and 2000.

What is happening in today’s stock market seems to me to be the same sort of irrational behavior.  The Dow price earnings ratio is now at 22.08 and the historical average is about 15.  But famed economist Robert Shiller indicated he was not alarmed when being interviewed on CNBC this past September.

“It’s not just a matter of low interest rates, it’s something about the American atmosphere. It’s partly the Trump atmosphere. Investors love this. I can’t exactly explain – maybe it has something to do with prospective tax cuts. But I don’t think it’s just that. It’s something deeper, and it’s pushing the American market up,” he added.

Unlike 1929, Shiller pointed out there’s not much talk about people borrowing exorbitant amounts of money to buy stocks. Plus, he noted there’s now more regulation.

I am somewhat mollified.

Posted by: coastcontact | December 31, 2017

Happy New Year 2018!

Happy New Year 2018!

Posted by: coastcontact | December 29, 2017

Destruction of the American Democracy

The first amendment to the United States Constitution.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

The American democracy depends on a free press. Donald Trump continuously attacks the press. His favorite words are “fake news” whenever the press reports something that puts him in a bad light.

His admiration for Vladimir Putin (President of Russia), Saddam Hussein (deceased dictator of Iraq), Moammar Gaddafi (deceased dictator of Libya), Xi Jinping (president of China), and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (President of Turkey) to name just a few tells us what kind of presidency Trump wants in the United States. All of these government leaders have one thing in common. They have or had no opposition. There is no press to report on their misbehavior. That is Trump’s dream.

The National Review, a conservative publication, posted the following on its website
Our First Amendment freedoms give us the right to think what we like and say what we please. And if we the people are to govern ourselves, we must have these rights, even if they are misused by a minority.

The ACLU says we must defend free speech even when we disagree with the speaker. That organization did defend the KKK when it wanted to march through Skokie Illinois, a predominantly Jewish suburb of Chicago.

There was no free press in Nazi Germany. There is no free press in China, Russia and Turkey today. Donald Trump’s war on the press is the first steps to end our democracy. CNN’s “This is an Apple” campaign is an effort to tell all viewers that they will defend their right to report the facts. Everyone should be applauding their efforts.

We must all join hands to defend freedom of the press or soon there will be no free press. The day there is no free press a dictator will be on the rise.

Posted by: coastcontact | December 27, 2017

Giving to Worthwhile Charities

This is the time of the year when many of us feel charitable.  We not only give gifts to our family members but give a gift to the gardener, the people who clean our house, the hairdresser, and some of the charities begging for help on television.

The Wounded Warrior Project seems to advertise frequently on CNN.  A few years ago CNN provided some damaging data about many charities.  They identified Charity Navigator (charitynavigator.org) as a good source to obtain evaluations of charities and how much of the money collected actually goes to the intended needy.  The Wounded Warrior Project earned 3 out of 5 stars.  Only 70.5% of the money raised actually went to the services provided.  The former chief executive was paid $575,470 annually but the report say the current chief executive receives  no pay.  Charity Watch, another organization identified by CNN as a charity evaluator,  (charitywatch.org) says The Wounded Warrior Project spend only 61% of the money collected on the needy victims.  Charity Watch gives The Wounded Warrior Project a C+.

I donate money to six charities and have carefully considered their performance.  You should too!

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