Watched the new D.C. comic superhero film, Wonder Woman 1984 last night, and in a tiny scene with an actor without a speaking part, there was this shot of an office, complete with a computer that made me giggle.
A Commodore Pet1, complete with a built in cassette deck, presumedly for programs as the floppy disk technology wasn’t advanced enough. The computing power in my old iPhone is leaps and bounds more powerful than that desktop. I wonder if this prop was working, or if the green text on it was just printed directly on the screen. Who would know?
By the way, my quick, pointless review of Wonder Woman 1984: meh. Gal Gadot is beautiful2, but superhero films are empty calories. I watch many of them, but I agree with Martin Scorsese that the genre is not great art. Also, the golden suit of armor complete with angel wings was eye-rolly. Graded on a curve, Wonder Woman 1984 was a solid B. Better than Shazam!, the last superhero film I sat through, but that’s not high praise…
For over 25 years, I have saved various bits of the web on my local computer. Vintage ads, cool graphics, first edition book covers, images of paintings by the old masters and of sculptures, funny cartoons, comic book covers, pulp novel covers, photographs of famous musicians. A version of Pinterest, I guess, but for my own visual education, not the world’s.
For the most part, I have moved all these files into a folder called Odds And Sods, and I use it as the basis for my desktop image on a randomized basis. In the MacOS, one can point the system to a folder full of images, and every 15 minutes (or some other time frame), the desktop image will change to something else in that folder.
However, the files themselves are named haphazardly. Many of them are named something like 2004-1–20-14.38.jpg
This means the image is hard to search for. On my Family Sunday Zoom™, someone suggested using Reverse Image Search, and while that is an excellent suggestion, I feel it is unpractical for the thousands of images in my Odds and Sods folder.
I wonder if there is an automated solution? A software that does the hard work of uploading and renaming images? Especially since when I tried to reverse image search the above poster from the Fraser Label Company, my browser crashed.
Merits further investigation…
By the way, this is the image that I used on my Family Sunday Zoom™, named on my computer: Screen Shot 2020-09-18 at 5.06.18 PM.png
After I switched browsers1 I was able to use the Google Reverse Image tool on this painting – turns out to be painted by Pieter Bruegel The Elder and is called “The Battle Between Carnival and Lent,” ca 1559. I had read an article in the Smithsonian about him recently, I think because I was looking for images about the plague in the European Middle Ages.
I still want to be able to do this for all the poorly or obscurely named images saved on my computer.
These opening sentences in a NYT article by Maggie Haberman and Michael Schmidt made me laugh:
With four weeks left in President Trump’s term, he is at perhaps his most unleashed — and, as events of the last few days have demonstrated, at the most unpredictable point in his presidency. He remains the most powerful person in the world, yet he is focused on the one area in which he is powerless to get what he wants: a way to avoid leaving office as a loser.
A Loser. That is how Trump will be remembered.
He has been a loser for most of his life, but managed to fool some people, some of the time.
I cannot wait for 2021, probably won’t be until spring, but sometime in 2021, Trump won’t be in the news every goddamn day. Glorious silence.
He hasn’t been doing the job of president for most of his term, his lack of work ethic has gotten more noticeable recently:
He is almost entirely disengaged from leading the nation even as Americans are being felled by the coronavirus at record rates. Faced with an aggressive cyberassault almost surely carried out by Russia, his response, to the degree that he has had one, has been to downplay the damage and to contradict his own top officials by suggesting that the culprit might actually have been China. He played almost no role in negotiating the stimulus bill that just passed Congress before working to disrupt it at the last minute. It is not clear that Mr. Trump’s latest behavior is anything other than a temper tantrum, attention-seeking or a form of therapy for the man who controls a nuclear arsenal
A Loser by circumstance, and a Loser by deeds. In other words, Trump is for ever and ever a Loser!
A little more than two weeks ago, the Chicago City Council took a bite at third-party delivery-service fees, imposing a 15% cap on fees that sometimes reached 30% previously.
Tuesday… DoorDash announced the imposition of a “Chicago fee,” a $1.50 charge added to all orders placed at city restaurants.
The new fee is charged to customers, not restaurants, so is not affected by the Chicago ordinance.
Customers ordering through DoorDash saw a $1.50 “Chicago fee” added to their orders. By clicking on that fee, the following explanation appeared:
Chicago has temporarily capped the fees that we may charge local restaurants. To continue to offer you convenient delivery while ensuring that Dashers are active and earning, you will now see a charge added to Chicago orders.”
A kind of fcku you to Chicago diners, I would say.
Chicago Alderman Scott Waguespack agrees with me:
“This disgraceful fee is an outright attempt to pass this IPO of $3 billion,” he said. “Just pile on more fees and pass their IPO; that’s the only thing I can think of.”
Calling it a Chicago fee might also cause customers to think the charge is a city charge, Waguespack said.
“They might think it’s the city dinging them for an extra $1.50,” Waguespack said. “It doesn’t say ‘DoorDash fee,’ it says ‘Chicago fee.’ I think that’s their intention — to stick it to the city.
“It’s that kind of vulture capitalism mentality — we can do it, so we’re going to do it,” Waguespack said. “The billions of dollars (via the IPO, if successful) isn’t enough; they have to take this too.”
Especially in light of:
The sudden onset of the pandemic in March sent the restaurant industry into a death spiral. Working in a notoriously low-margin business, many couldn’t withstand weeks of limited or no indoor dining. As a result, about one in six restaurants nationwide has closed permanently, and as of September nearly three million restaurant workers had lost their jobs.
Under pressure to pay rent and retain workers, some restaurants turned more of their attention to delivery, particularly from app-based companies like DoorDash, UberEats and Grubhub. Few restaurants that hadn’t done delivery in the past had the time or money to create their own delivery service, which typically brings in less money than dining rooms, where customers are more apt to order more profitable items like appetizers, desserts or a second round of drinks.
These restaurants have quickly found that the apps, with their high fees and strong-arm tactics, may be a temporary lifeline, but not a savior. Fees of 30 percent or higher per order cut eateries’ razor-thin margins to the bone. And a stimulus package that would bolster the industry has stalled in Congress, even as states and municipalities enact new limits on both indoor and outdoor dining.
…the fees are also funding a consolidation among the four largest players that together represent an estimated 99 percent of delivery market share and which will give them greater pricing power.
Though still unprofitable, Uber this month completed its acquisition of Postmates in a $2.7 billion deal. And DoorDash, also a money loser, is going public this week with hopes of raising more than $3 billion from investors. DoorDash’s I.P.O. will net already wealthy investors billions in profits, particularly galling as restaurants wither.
Dan Raskin, an owner of Manny’s Deli in Chicago, said his greatest frustration was the companies’ unwillingness to share customer information with him. That means he cannot verify their claims that they are bringing him new customers. Worse, they appear to be using that data to create competing virtual restaurants — which have no dining rooms, offer multiple cuisines from one location and operate only on the apps.
Whew, that’s a relief to say. Try it, “President-Elect Joe Biden”
Thanks to everyone sane who voted overwhelmingly for Joe Biden. I will admit Joe Biden was not in my top three candidates for the Democratic nomination, but I will give him a chance to be a good president. And really, let’s be honest, yesterday’s coffee grounds would be a better choice than Donald J. Trump having a second term.
In Trump’s White House, there is little process that guides decision-making on the pandemic. The president has been focused first and foremost on his reelection chances and reacting to the daily or hourly news cycle as opposed to making long-term strategy, with Meadows and other senior aides indulging his impulses rather than striving to impose discipline.
What’s more, with polls showing Trump’s popularity on the decline and widespread disapproval of his management of the viral outbreak, staffers have concocted a positive feedback loop for the boss. They present him with fawning media commentary and craft charts with statistics that back up the president’s claim that the administration has done a great — even historically excellent — job fighting the virus.
A senior administration official involved in the pandemic response said, “Everyone is busy trying to create a Potemkin village for him every day. You’re not supposed to see this behavior in liberal democracies that are founded on principles of rule of law. Everyone bends over backwards to create this Potemkin village for him and for his inner circle.”
Government health officials are wary of saying anything publicly — even if they are merely speaking truth — that might be construed as contradicting the president or countering his rosy assessments.
One of the clearest examples of how fear and loyalty have infected the response came in Trump’s decision last month to begin formally withdrawing the United States from the World Health Organization. Many government officials hoped the president would not take that drastic step, but none had the courage to try forcefully to persuade him against a withdrawal by explaining that doing so would risk damaging not only the global response to the virus but also the U.S. response. “Everybody is too scared of their own shadow to speak the truth,” said a senior official involved in the response.
What also has frustrated a number of the president’s allies and former aides is that he simply seems uninterested in asserting full leadership over the crisis, instead deferring to state leaders to make the more difficult decisions while using his presidential bully pulpit to critique their performances. He deputizes Pence to handle much of the actual communication with states and other stakeholders in the fight against the virus. “If we want to return to school safely, we need not only adaptive safety practices at the schools but also lower amounts of virus in each community,” said Tom Bossert, a former White House homeland security adviser under Trump. “A suppression-level effort to shrink and not just mitigate the spread of covid requires a national strategy that includes standards and significant federal funding. Such a strategy is lacking right now.”
Remember Amy McGrath? Maybe you do. In 2018, the Kentucky Democrat was briefly famous for a viral campaign ad and an ultimately doomed campaign to represent her state’s Sixth Congressional District. A moderate and a former Marine fighter pilot, McGrath is the apotheosis of a particular Democratic electoral strategy: to win in a conservative state, dispatch a veteran with lukewarm politics. That strategy didn’t put McGrath in the House in 2018. But two years later, Senate Democrats tried it again, pitting McGrath against a top prize: Mitch McConnell.
Now she might be lucky to win her primary race.
McGrath faces a robust challenge from Charles Booker, the youngest Black legislator in the Kentucky House of Representatives. Booker has run to her left, and while McGrath holds a major fundraising advantage, Booker is gaining significant momentum ahead of the primary on June 23. Two of the state’s largest newspapers have endorsed him, and on Tuesday, Booker earned another major supporter. Alison Lundergan Grimes, who challenged McConnell in 2014, endorsed him over McGrath.
Enthusiasm might not be enough to propel Booker to victory over McGrath, but it’s a symptom of a bigger problem. National Democrats think they know what Kentucky wants, but Kentucky may disagree. A theory that recommends McGrath over Booker is one worth reconsideration, and not only because Booker marshals local support that McGrath lacks. Whatever momentum McGrath may have been capable of generating, she stifled. Her Senate run is riddled with embarrassments. She said she would have voted to confirm Brett Kavanaugh — a no-go area even for many conservative Democrats — before reversing herself in response to outrage. She blurred out the images of two eastern Kentucky coal miners after they threatened to sue her for using them in an ad without their permission. She characterized McConnell as an impediment “in the way of what Donald Trump promised,” a statement understood by many as a way to dodge public criticism of the president.
America didn’t have to have so many people die, as the example of Hong Kong proves…
This is the new normal in Hong Kong — both very different from before the virus and very different from an American-style lockdown.
Subway workers clean handrails frequently. Restaurants are open, with tables spaced five feet apart. Diners are often given a small paper bag in which to put their mask — so it doesn’t infect the table, or vice versa
Entrance to Hong Kong is limited mostly to residents, all of whom are tested and quarantined, even if the test is negative. And residents wear masks despite 90-degree heat. “They’re so hot,” Adrienne says. “But it feels second nature to me at this point.”
The most important point: Hong Kong’s strategy is working extremely well.
It hasn’t reported a new homegrown case in more than two weeks. Over all, only about 1,000 people — out of 7.5 million — have tested positive. Only four have died.
Via NYT newsletter.
Meanwhile, in one US area roughly the same population size as Hong Kong:
The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) today announced 2,122 new cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Illinois, including 176 additional deaths.…Currently, IDPH is reporting a total of 65,962 cases, including 2,838 deaths, in 97 counties in Illinois. The age of cases ranges from younger than one to older than 100 years. Within the past 24 hours, laboratories have processed 13,139 specimens for a total of 346,286.
If only the US had competent leadership, and a president who trusted science and data, and we had ramped up testing back in February (or even January!)
I took this photo on November 17, 2015, and processed it in my digital darkroom May 3rd, 2020. Click to embiggen
Nikon D7000 35.0 mm f/1.8 ƒ/2.5 35.0 mm Shutter -1/60 ISO 100
Tri-X 400, in emulation, provided via a Photoshop filter (Exposure 5), plus some other tricks-of-the-trade, including using a gold reflector, and other techniques to accentuate the rain.
A while ago1 I purchased a raincoat for my camera: basically a thick, transparent plastic sleeve with a drawstring at one end. The drawstring is used to wrap tightly around the end of the lens, and the rest of the camera is contained within the sleeve, and thus kept dry. It works pretty well actually, except changing camera settings is a bit tricky, as is focusing, sometimes.
probably before this photo was taken, but maybe not, who can remember [↩]
For months, I searched for the larger principles or sense of purpose that animates McConnell. I travelled twice to Kentucky, observed him at a Trump rally in Lexington, and watched him preside over the impeachment trial in Washington. I interviewed dozens of people, some of whom love him and some of whom despise him. I read his autobiography, his speeches, and what others have written about him. Finally, someone who knows him very well told me, “Give up. You can look and look for something more in him, but it isn’t there. I wish I could tell you that there is some secret thing that he really believes in, but he doesn’t.”
I processed this photo in my digital darkroom on April 11, 2020.
Nikon D7000 35.0 mm ƒ/1.8 35.0 mm 1/50 shutter speed 250 ISO
And of course Photoshop to emulate TRI-X 400 film, pushed a couple of stops.
Death does seem to be on everyone’s mind these days. I’ve been having weird dreams, I assume you are as well. I won’t bore you with mine, at the moment. We’ll see if the Stay At Home continues through summer, all the rules will be different…
Oh, and lyric magpied from Jeff Tweedy’s great song, New Madrid.
Come on, do what you did, roll me under New Madrid Shake my baby and please bring her back Cause death won’t even be still, caroms over the landfill Buries us all in its broken back
Ran errands yesterday (food, pet food, booze), and I’d estimate 10%-20% of people I encountered in stores or walking on the street were wearing masks. I thought there would be more. I don’t have a quality mask, but at least it is something, and helps against touching my nose/mouth/eyes.
The hardest part for me was that my sunglasses kept fogging up.
Since the book I’m reading mentions the Little Ice Age of 1550 to approximately 1750, I looked it up in Wikipedia:
The Little Ice Age (LIA) was a period of cooling that occurred after the Medieval Warm Period. Although it was not a true ice age, the term was introduced into scientific literature by François E. Matthes in 1939. It has been conventionally defined as a period extending from the 16th to the 19th centuries, but some experts prefer an alternative timespan from about 1300 to about 1850.
The NASA Earth Observatory notes three particularly cold intervals: one beginning about 1650, another about 1770, and the last in 1850, all separated by intervals of slight warming. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Third Assessment Report considered the timing and areas affected by the Little Ice Age suggested largely independent regional climate changes rather than a globally synchronous increased glaciation. At most, there was modest cooling of the Northern Hemisphere during the period. Several causes have been proposed: cyclical lows in solar radiation, heightened volcanic activity, changes in the ocean circulation, variations in Earth’s orbit and axial tilt (orbital forcing), inherent variability in global climate, and decreases in the human population (for example from the Black Death and the colonization of the Americas).
“Eurasian bacteria, viruses, and parasites sweep through the Americas, killing huge numbers of people—and unraveling the millennia-old network of human intervention. Flames subside to embers across the Western Hemisphere as Indian torches are stilled. In the forests, fire-hating trees like oak and hickory muscle aside fire-loving species like loblolly, longleaf, and slash pine, which are so dependent on regular burning that their cones will only open and release seed when exposed to flame. Animals that Indians had hunted, keeping their numbers down, suddenly flourish in great numbers. And so on.
Indigenous pyromania had long pumped carbon dioxide into the air. At the beginning of the Homogenocene the pump suddenly grows feeble. Formerly open grasslands fill with forest—a frenzy of photosynthesis. In 1634, fourteen years after the Pilgrims land in Plymouth, colonist William Wood complains that the once-open forests are now so choked with underbrush as to be “unuseful and troublesome to travel through.” Forests regenerate across swathes of North America, Mesoamerica, the Andes, and Amazonia.
Ruddiman’s idea was simple: the destruction of Indian societies by European epidemics both decreased native burning and increased tree growth. Each subtracted carbon dioxide from the air. In 2010 a research team led by Robert A. Dull of the University of Texas estimated that reforesting former farmland in American tropical regions alone could have been responsible for as much as a quarter of the temperature drop—an analysis, the researchers noted, that did not include the cutback in accidental fires, the return to forest of unfarmed but cleared areas, and the entire temperate zone. In the form of lethal bacteria and viruses, in other words, the Columbian Exchange (to quote Dull’s team) “significantly influenced Earth’s carbon budget.” It was today’s climate change in reverse, with human action removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere rather than adding them—a stunning meteorological overture to the Homogenocene.
“Right now, all people are hearing about are the deaths,” Republican Senator Ron Johnson told the New York Times last week. “I’m sure the deaths are horrific, but the flip side of this is the vast majority of people who get coronavirus do survive.” The problem with this line of reasoning is that “the vast majority” is not a useful standard when measuring a pandemic that is projected to infect at least half the population.
Johnson is comparing the virus to auto fatalities. Around 37,000 people die every year in car crashes, which is certainly a lot. But losing 1 to 3.4 percent of people who get the coronavirus would mean millions of deaths. So no, we don’t shut down the economy to prevent 37,000 deaths, but we might shut down the economy to prevent 100 times that many deaths.