Posts Tagged: America

Tidbits for Monday, or the Week, Reading…

The White Succulent Flower that had no name sign

‘Roma’ star Yalitza Aparicio is so much more than her Oscar fairy tale

Cory Doctorow: Disruption for Thee, But Not for Me
Technological disruption is everywhere from AirBnB to Uber to… Mr. Doctorow hits the nail on the head on the Silicon Valley’s obsession with disrupting industries as toxic, his solution though is a bit hand wavey. I personally never use Uber/Lyft or AirBnB for reason that Cory details out and my own reasons of objection to the disruption of the disruption that makes it worse for everyone. I will write my thoughts up soon.

About Face : Death and surrender to the power in clothing of men.
But really a comic about the rise of lawlessness and fascism in the US. And the creepy black and white American flags.

In Defense of (Studying) Food : A Classical Zooarchaeologist’s Manifesto

Refugees Connect Their Personal Stories with a Museum’s Ancient Artifacts

“The Global Guides program at the Penn Museum hires recent refugees from the Middle East to give personalized tours. The leader of my tour was Moumena Saradar, a refugee from Syria who has lived in Philadelphia for two years.”

A Most American Terrorist: The Making of Dylann Roof
A hard but essential read if you are an American, visit America, or have any hopes for America’s future.

The Insect Apocalypse Is Here : What does it mean for the rest of life on Earth?
I thought I had posted this link last autumn, but a search of my site has shown that I did not. Read it. Insect life is the second layer of foundation, after algae and plankton, on this whole planet. We can’t exist without them, and to kill them or ignore our responsibility in their collapse is horrifying.

Photo Essay: For Jewish Israelis of Yemenite Heritage, Reviving a Past

Pre-wedding henna ceremonies have regained popularity in Israel’s Jewish Yemenite community, an expression of ethnic pride in their heritage and traditions.

Photo of unnamed succulent flower above taken at the Huntington’s Cactus Garden in late January 2019 by Ms. Jen with her Nikon D850 and a 300mm f/4 lens.

So, I fell down on the NaBloPoMo job… and thinking of endings.

Wed. 11.30.16 – 2016 seems to be the year of endings. After the US Elections, I saw several folks on Twitter calling 2016 ‘anno horribilis’. I am not quite ready to call it a horrible year, as we still have another month to the year for a major tsunami, nuclear war, asteroid strike, a plague that kills billions, gamma ray from an exploding star, etc.

But 2016 is/was definitely the year of endings. My Grandpa Jim died. Scruffy died. My brother’s friend Art died of cancer. The American Republic may be going into hospice care come January. And Nicole Hunter Mostafa, one of the few personal bloggers who was still personally blogging for the love and joy of it passed away. Damn cancer.

I feel even more than ever that it is time for me to take back up with my own version of personal mixed with life mixed with professional mixed with tech mixed with humor blogging, as I truly believe that making and creating in the face of adversity is how we best express our humanity. Although I may suck at blogging on a regular schedule, I will do my best to blog here a few times a week and on some weeks more.

Dear 2016, please calm down for the next 31 1/2 days.




Video from last night’s Daily Show of Jon Stewart speaking of yesterday’s South Carolina church shooting, watch it.

‘Honestly, I have nothing, other than just sadness. That once again that we have to peer into the abyss of depraved violence that we do to each other in the nexus of a just gaping racial wound that will not heal, yet we pretend doesn’t exist. I am confident though, that by acknowledging it, by staring into that and seeing it for what it is, we still won’t do jack shit. Yeah! That’s us. That is the part that blows my mind.’ – Jon Stewart

Ta-Nehisi Coates links the heritage of the confederate flag with the legacy of plunder in his article at the Atlantic this morning, Take Down the Confederate Flag—Now:

‘The Confederate flag’s defenders often claim it represents “heritage not hate.” I agree—the heritage of White Supremacy was not so much birthed by hate as by the impulse toward plunder. Dylann Roof plundered nine different bodies last night, plundered nine different families of an original member, plundered nine different communities of a singular member. An entire people are poorer for his action. The flag that Roof embraced, which many South Carolinians embrace, does not stand in opposition to this act—it endorses it.’ – Ta-Nehisi Coates

Felicia Sanders, mother of shooting victim Tywanza Sanders, is quoted in the NY Times:

“We welcomed you Wednesday night in our Bible study with open arms,” Felicia Sanders told Dylann Roof, the suspect in a massacre that officials said was racially motivated. She was in the room when the gunman fatally shot nine people, including her son, Tywanza, and Ms. Sanders survived by pretending to be dead.

“You have killed some of the most beautiful people that I know,” she said. “Every fiber in my body hurts, and I’ll never be the same. Tywanza Sanders was my son, but Tywanza was my hero.”

But like some of the others, she added, “May God have mercy on you.”


Today is a bad day in the neighborhood. A shooter, or set of folks, decided that they would gun down at very short range a congresswoman, a judge, a 9 year old girl, and others outside a supermarket in Tuscon, Arizona.
Assassination is never the answer, is only a chaos maker. Assassination or attempted assassination may seem like the fast and cheap way out of a sticky political situation, but it involves people being murdered.
If we passionately believe in the idea and/or myth of the United States of America, then assassination is never an option. Lobbying your congress human or senator, yes. Writing letters, yes. Peaceful protests, yes. Running for office yourself to do the work of change, yes. Working at civil discourse, discussion and debate, yes.
Killing people, no. Never.
I don’t care what your opinion is on guns or gun laws, killing or attempting to kill another person is not an option, it is wrong. I don’t care what your political point of view is, killing is wrong.
My condolences go out to the family, friends and neighbors of the folks killed and injured today in Tuscon. I sincerely hope that all the folks who are in the hospital, including Congresswoman Giffords will have a full recovery.

A Few Tasty Links for Your Fourth of July Enjoyment

It is 12:41pm here in Seal Beach, California, socked in with the dreaded ‘June Gloom’, aka the Marine Inversion Layer, and it is chilly for a mid-summer day at 66F/18C and there is a bit of wind. The Sun has made no effort to come out for a visit. Hopefully, old Sol will burn the clouds soon.
In the meantime, here a few nice links for your Fourth of July reading enjoyement…
How America got its name: The suprising story of an obscure scholar, an adventurer’s letter, and a pun

When Ringmann read this news, he was thrilled. As a good classicist, he knew that the poet Virgil had prophesied the existence of a vast southern land across the ocean to the west, destined to be ruled by Rome. And he drew what he felt was the obvious conclusion: Vespucci had reached this legendary place. He had discovered the fourth part of the world. At last, Europe’s Christians, the heirs of ancient Rome, could begin their long-prophesied imperial expansion to the west.

Nick Patrick on Did Americans in 1776 have British accents?

Reading David McCullough’s 1776, I found myself wondering: Did Americans in 1776 have British accents? If so, when did American accents diverge from British accents?
The answer surprised me.
I’d always assumed that Americans used to have British accents, and that American accents diverged after the Revolutionary War, while British accents remained more or less the same.
Americans in 1776 did have British accents in that American accents and British accents hadn’t yet diverged. That’s not too surprising.
What is surprising, though, is that those accents were much closer to today’s American accents than to today’s British accents. While both have changed over time, it’s actually British accents that have changed much more drastically since then.

The Tyburn Angling Society:

Nonetheless, in addition to a regular circuit of dinners, drinks, and fishing outings, the Tyburn Angling Society is committed to resurfacing the ancient stream — still theirs to fish, they argue, by a never-repealed royal decree. “You could have people fishing by the river in the middle of Mayfair,” Jim Bowdidge told the Evening Standard, “We would get the Wild Trout Trust to get the habitat right for small wild brown trout. Properly done, we could have salmon.”

John Scalzi on Status Check, Re: USA:

The 234th birthday of the United States of America is a fine time to check in with one’s self about how one feels about being a citizen of this country, so today’s question: Am I proud to be an American?
I am. The United States, like so many things, is better as an idealized concept than it is as an actual entity, on account that the nation is made up of people, and while most people mean well, in a day-to-day sense they struggle with their ideals, which are often so inconvenient to their desires. And so, like a married family-values politician with a Craigslist personal ad, or a vegan Febreezing the apartment so no one will catch the smell of bacon, America often finds itself failing its own expectations for itself and others.

Last but not least, the quote of the day from Kevin Lawver:

Happy “Crap, We Lost Some Colonies” Day, Brits!

Update! 12:54pm on 07.04.10 – The Sun is doing his job & is burning through the clouds, Seal Beach now has some sun, some clouds, and is still chilly. Wahoo.
Happy Fourth of July!

Tomi Ahonen on Fire! Two Rants on the State of American Mobile Carriers!

My fave quote from Rant #1, US vs Them? American wireless industry, come meet me at Camera 3:

But no, Americans consumers get crippled versions of the cheapest lousiest phones you can find. Why is it that an Apple ‘innovation’ of a Forward Facing Camera is somehow radical in the USA? We’ve had these forward facing second cameras as standard features on essentially all 3G phones in Europe and Asia and Australia and Latin America and.. for Heaven’s Sake, in Africa! I was the person flown in to place the first 3G video call on the continent of Africa when Vodacom of South Africa opened its 3G network for developers – and I used a forward facing second camera on that 3G phone – and this was in …2004! Shame on you American carriers! That you haven’t bothered even to bring this international standard to Americans and we have to wait for an outsider like Apple to bring it (now obviously, they do it on their Facetime proprietary solution, and can you blame Apple for that? You ruined yet another opportunity). The best phones? Isn’t it time you joined us in the 21st Century and let American consumers enjoy what the rest of the world expects as normal.

My fave bit from Rant #2, Serious reply to CTIA Steve Largent – he’s cruisin’ for a bruisin’:

In Japan, on just one carrier, NTT DoCoMo, there are today over a million content partners, application and service providers. When did they pass that 100,000 level? in 2004! You think Steve Largent that this is a sign of innovation in America in 2009? You are literally 5 years behind Japan – a country only a third the size of the USA in population. Shame on you! But I know the app store argument is fun to make today, eh? So you admit that the carriers can’t do this level of creativity, it takes the outsider – like Apple – to do it. Thats exactly what I argued. So, one, I defeat your argument that the USA is ‘innovative’ because of the Apple App Store – but you then admit that the 100,000 in December 2009 and most of the 240,000 today (Apple having 225,000) is because of Apple who could not deploy these on the carrier systems, and had to develop its own app store. You are helping me prove my point that the carriers in the USA are dinosaurs, Steve.

The internet, the blogosphere, and the mobile worlds are all the richer for Mr. Ahonen’s rants. Put Tomi on your RSS feed, it is always a good read.

The Temple Begat the City: 11,000 Year Old Temple, and Vice Versa with the First American Heretic or Independent

Be you a-theist or a theist, three great links were found on the Inter-Tubes today, one is on Anne Hutchinson and the other two are on the recent archaeological find of an 11,000 year old Turkish temple complex.
It appears that religion started before the villages, agriculture, and cities did, rather than the other way around. More importantly is how advanced the sculptural art is on the T-shaped temple lintels, the photos are truly gorgeous. For as much as we love to think of ourselves as the only era who makes art and creates systems, humanity has been doing both and more for far longer than our systems of history and archaeology have accounted for:

The new discoveries are finally beginning to reshape the slow-moving consensus of archeology. Göbekli Tepe is “unbelievably big and amazing, at a ridiculously early date,” according to Ian Hodder, director of Stanford’s archeology program. Enthusing over the “huge great stones and fantastic, highly refined art” at Göbekli, Hodder–who has spent decades on rival Neolithic sites–says: “Many people think that it changes everything…It overturns the whole apple cart. All our theories were wrong.”
Schmidt’s thesis is simple and bold: it was the urge to worship that brought mankind together in the very first urban conglomerations. The need to build and maintain this temple, he says, drove the builders to seek stable food sources, like grains and animals that could be domesticated, and then to settle down to guard their new way of life. The temple begat the city. – Newsweek.

History in the Remaking: A temple complex in Turkey that predates even the pyramids is rewriting the story of human evolution.
Smithsonian Photo gallery on Gobekli Tepe
Gobekli Tepe: The World’s First Temple?
And then let’s move the the new world and to America’s first public heretic (not really) and feminist (yes, really, 15 kids & was willing to go out on her own and stand up to the authorities in 1630s Boston!), Killing the Buddha parsed out what it heresy means and Anne Hutchinson’s wonderful defense for any person’s direct connection / petitioning of the Divine without the need of the clergy. She out-Protestanted the Puritans:

Where had Anne Hutchinson learned such an outrageous idea–that a person can be in direct communion with God? From the Bible; from the promptings of her heart. Minister John Cotton–who would later condemn her so severely–had taught her that the inward dwelling Spirit of Christ was more than a mere metaphor or abstraction. “It is not you that speak (and consequently not you that think or do),” he had written, “But the Spirit of your Father that speaketh in you.”
Just as Antinomianism wasn’t something that Hutchinson had cooked up on her own, but an ineluctable (if morally and philosophically problematic) corollary of the doctrine of Justification by Grace Alone, there was ample biblical precedent for Hutchinson’s conviction that she could hear God’s voice. When the court demanded that she tell them how she knew that it was God who spoke to her and not the Devil, she answered with a question of her own: “How did Abraham know that it was the voice of God, when he commanded him to sacrifice his son?” – Killing the Buddha

The best part is the the two sets of folks that I know who descend from Anne Hutchinson are also bold, outspoken, creative people of (non-conformist) faith.

I Miss My Nokia, Or Why Nokia Should Have a Finance Plan in the US

I Miss My Nokia

Photo taken by Ms. Jen with a Nokia N97.

Lauren and Dave are getting married on Saturady in Seattle and I am a bridesmaid. This afternoon I drove up to Glendale to meet up with Felicity Lao and Kim Ray for a trial wedding day makeup run.
As Felicity was putting makeup on Kim, I was taking photos with the Nokia N97 that I am currently trialing and Felicity – a current iPhone owner – said, “I miss my Nokia.” I handed her the N97 and she tested out the touchscreen and qwerty keyboard and again announced that she missed having a Nokia phone.
Kim asked about the camera and said she wanted a phone with a better camera. Felicity then said she didn’t like the camera on the iPhone. Then both of them asked me how much the Nokia N97 cost, when I told them $500 they both blanched. Kim then asked which wireless carrier had it for less, I said none in the US.
Both Felicity and Kim were sad that such a nice touchscreen cameraphone was not to be had in the US for under $200. Over the course of the conversation, it became obvious that both of them had been starter Nokia owners in the past but had moved on to other smartphones with their carriers and were unhappy with the phones that they had, mostly due to poor build quality and lack of high quality camera, but were unwilling to spend more than $200 on a mobile phone.
After thinking about it, I realized that if Nokia and the various US mobile carriers/operators can’t come to agreements to have good high end Nokias available to folks in the US for a decent subsidized price, then maybe Nokia should take a cue from the Apple online store and sell unlocked Nokia phones for either the straight up price or for a small price per month for 24 months.
If Kim and Felicity are both willing to pay AT&T $200 for the iphone plus >$80 a month for the rate plan, then why should they not pay Nokia $28 a month for the Nokia N97 or N97 mini or N86 or N79 and then get a sim chip / rate plan from whoever they want?
If Nokia charge $28 a month for 24 months and showed it as prominent option next to the phone on their website and advertise their finance plans, then they would not only sell more phones but provide the perception that their high quality mobiles are also a good value for one’s dollar.