Oktoberfest 2018 in Munich is over, but here is a cute little cartoon from German cartoonists Greser & Lenz.
We have had a streak of beautiful blue-sky days here in the city, reaching all of 72 °F (22 °C) on Tuesday. A high pressure system parked above the Pacific Northwest will give us even more clear weather days, all through the weekend, say the meteorologists.
I was a little shocked today when the message ‘Microsoft Co-founder Paul Allen passed away’ appeared on my phone. Allen disclosed earlier this month that he was receiving treatment (again) for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, but I did not know that his health was deteriorating rapidly.
Born in Seattle, he wielded his enormous fortune to transform South Lake Union into office buildings and apartments, to help the Seattle Seahawks to stay in the city (he owned the team since 1997) and to make contributions to a large number of causes and charities.
There was a beautiful ‘60 Minutes‘ segment on TV tonight, about wildlife photographer Joel Sartore’s quest to photograph all the creatures in zoos, for the National Geographic Photo Ark project (natgeophotoark.org).
The project’s goal is to increase awareness of Earth’s biodiversity and the efforts by zoos to save threatened species. He has visited 40 countries and has completed intimate portraits of more than 8,485 species so far.
It’s been a rough week in the US stock market this week, with the Dow Jones Industrial Index down 3% and the Nasdaq down 4% just on Wednesday, both down some more on Thursday, and then recovering a little bit on Friday.
Morgan Stanley published a bland note on Wednesday for their investors saying – uh, the market is down – and ‘a host of concerns have appeared to weigh on the market in recent sessions’. (Higher US Treasury yields, rising interest rates, trade uncertainty between the US & China, political uncertainty & rhetoric, economic growth could be peaking). Yes, yes, we know all of that. And it’s October, notorious for weighing on the stock market.
For once, Trump is not crowing about the stock market; now relentlessly attacking the Federal Reserve Bank (for raising interest rates). Always looking for someone else to blame.
This little bird hopped around in my backyard this afternoon, and I had to wait a little bit for it to come out in the clear, so that I could snap a picture.
I believe it is a hermit thrush. They like to hop around and forage in fallen leaves, and they can sing in beautiful notes.
There was a big gas transmission pipeline explosion in Prince George, BC, Canada, on Tuesday. Even though it is 500 miles away, it is impacting us here in Seattle as well, since we get some of our natural gas from Canada.
Our local gas utility company is requesting that everyone to turn down their thermostats, and limit the use of hot water and electricity for a day or two. (Natural gas is used for some electricity generation).
Hurricane Michael will make landfall in the Florida panhandle tomorrow. It’s going to pack a powerful punch, with winds that could exceed 100 mph. At least it is projected keep moving at a steady pace, and not sit in one place like Florence did.
A landmark report from the United Nations’ scientific panel on climate change, is pointing to worsening food shortages and wildfires, and a mass die-off of coral reefs as soon as 2040. There is also the set of global goals for sustainable development, shown below. (A sample: donate what you do not use | do not waste food, or water | vaccinate yourself & your family | call out sexist or racist language or behavior | recycle | bike, walk or use public transportation | plant a tree | avoid using plastic bags).
So we can all contribute, but powerful governments and corporations can have the biggest impact. The United States Federal Government with Trump at the helm is of course absolutely no help at all* (we will hopefully start to correct that in November, and get them out altogether in 2020). In the meantime, at least some State governments and cities are stepping up and the right thing.
*The State Dept: ‘We reiterate that the United States intends to withdraw from the Paris agreement at the earliest opportunity absent the identification of terms that are better for the American people’. Really. ‘The American people’ .. they are not humans? And pray what planet will they live on in 2040? We will all be on Mars?
We went down to the annual ‘BrickCon’ LEGO exhibition, at Seattle Center today. This is where LEGO master builders show off their work, and fans come to admire it. Here are some of my favorites.
After another week of national gnashing of the teeth, pulling of the hair and a fake FBI investigation, Senate Republicans are on now the brink of putting Judge Kavanaugh on the US Supreme Court, to join Clarence Thomas.
Trump’s nominee is opposed by 47% of the citizenry (41% in favor), by thousands of law professors, by a church council representing 40 million, by the American Civil Liberties Union, by the President of the Bar Association, by his own Yale Law School, by retired Justice Stevens, and by Human Rights Watch. The nomination is in violation of Title 18 U.S. Code § 1001 & 1621. This is a democracy at work?
It is almost a done deal, that Seattle will be granted a franchise for a team to join the National Hockey League (NHL). The team actually playing is still two years away. The Key Arena stadium still has to be upgraded, and a team put together – and all that goes with it.
In the meantime, the Seattle Times is running an informal survey of its readers to determine a name and a moniker for the team. It’s now down to the final two: the Totems, or the Sockeyes – after eliminating names such as Seattle Freeze, Seattle Sasquatches and Seattle Emeralds.
Everyone in the United States with a smartphone got a ‘Presidential Alert’ this morning – a test by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Man! Does that mean Trump can spam everyone with a stupid message from his phone? Mercifully, not. These messages are generated & sent from a special FEMA notebook computer, and by law, must be for true emergencies only.
One shudders to think what significant national crises would justify every American to be alerted. I can think of a few. Nuclear war (‘Hey everyone: Kim Jong-un & I are no longer in love, so just so you know, I sent him some ICBMs’). A meteor hit from outer space. A massive electromagnetic pulse from a sun flare (that may very well wipe out FEMA’s ability to send the alert altogether).
The New York Times uses the phrase ‘outright fraud’ in a special investigation published today. ‘Surprise’: Trump is also a lifelong tax dodger. He should be indicted, found guilty, and be sent to jail. ▼
Light rain is finally starting to fall here in Seattle, after the driest summer on record. (Rainfall for May-August was 2.5″, compared to 7.0″ normally).
Here’s another one of my resident European garden spiders (Araneus diadematus), repairing its web today, from a little wind and rain damage.
So with September out the back door, it’s now only October between us and the important Nov 6. midterm elections here in the United States.
I see Beto O’Rourke (Democrat) had country music icon Willie Nelson (85) perform at one of his campaign rallies. This is in deep-red Texas, to beat out sitting Senator Ted Cruz. Nelson sang a ditty called Vote ‘Em Out.
Hopefully, scores of more young people have realized these last two years that they have to exercise their power at the ballot box. In 2016, Hillary Clinton got 65 million votes and Donald Trump 62 million. Another 100 million eligible voters in the country did not vote. Oy.
I am under the weather. Sometimes today I had to put on several layers of clothes to keep me warm out of bed, and to keep the chills under control.
‘That reminds me of the Friends episode with Joey wearing all Chandler’s clothes’, I thought.
I’m sure as soon as feierabend* had arrived on Friday in Washington DC, politicians & their staff rejoiced more than they usually do.
*Feierabend literally translates to ‘celebrate-the-evening’ (the end of the work day).
Meanwhile, the 185th Oktoberfest is in full swing in Munich, Germany. I’d still like to make it out there one year – just not sure I could handle even just one of those one-liter steins filled with potent beer! It would be really embarrassing to keel over and fall off one’s chair while the umpa band plays.