Thursday/ Tintin, in Welsh

I have Welsh ancestors, and so a Welsh translation to add to my collection of translations of Tintin adventure called ‘King Ottokar’s Sceptre’ was definitely required.

Quick Quiz (answers below): In which country is Welsh is spoken? Which city is the country’s capital?
Welsh is the only language that is de jure* official in any part of the United Kingdom, with English being de facto official.
*de jure- by law; de facto- in fact/ the reality

Welsh has been spoken continuously in Wales throughout recorded history, but by 1911 it had already become a minority language. Today Welsh is spoken by some 850,000 people in Wales. The Welsh government plan to have one million Welsh language speakers by 2050. [Information from Wikipedia]

(Answers to the Quiz: Wales, in the southwest of Great Britain, capital Cardiff).

King Ottokar’s Sceptre, translated into Welsh by publisher Dalen (2019). ‘Braint y brenin’ translates as ‘The King’s Privilege’ in Google translate. Welsh is a Celtic language, and does not come out of the Germanic branch of the world’s language tree.
Here is the panel that I have looked at in other languages, this time in Welsh. (It’s weird that some words have no vowels at all, and the phrases are hard to translate, even with translation engines such as Google Translate).
The panel seems to be a play on the word ‘fur’ (referring to Tintin’s white pooch Snowy, called Milyn in Welsh):
Detective Parry-Williams: We are holding tight, to fur with you!
Detective Williams-Parry: In fact, we’re holding the fur, tight with you!
Tintin: All right!
Here’s the English translation, just for reference.

Friday/ Ruth Bader Ginsberg (1933-2020)

The children’s book ‘Ruth Bader Ginsburg: The Case of R.B.G. vs. Inequality’ by Jonah Winter, Stacy Innerst (Illustrator).
Growing up in Brooklyn in the 1930s and ’40s, Ginsburg was discouraged from working by her father, who thought a woman’s place was in the home. Regardless, she went to Cornell University, where men outnumbered women four to one. There, she met her husband, Martin Ginsburg, and found her calling as a lawyer. Despite discrimination against Jews, females, and working mothers, Ginsburg went on to become Columbia Law School’s first tenured female professor, a judge for the US Court of Appeals, and finally, a Supreme Court Justice. [Description of the book from barnesandnoble.com]
Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg (87) passed away today (pancreatic cancer).
She was a trailblazer and a champion of gender equality. Now that she is gone, there may be profound consequences for the Court, and for the country.
Only 3 of the remaining 8 justices are now considered progressive or liberal, with 5 conservative.

A growing crowd gathered on Friday night at the grounds at the US Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. for an impromptu vigil for Justice Ginsberg. [Picture posted by Kelsey Reichmann @KelseyReichmann on Twitter]

Tuesday/ Luby’s may be going out of business

I dined at Luby’s a few times while I lived in Houston in 1999.
The restaurant chain is now headed for liquidation.

Writes Jill Smits in Texas Highways Magazine:
‘If you grew up in Texas, you’ve probably eaten at Luby’s. And if you’ve eaten at Luby’s, your feelings about the restaurant may run surprisingly deep. While it’s been decades since I stepped inside one, my nostalgia for square fish, church clothes, and green Jell-O has been in overdrive since hearing the 73-year-old Houston-based cafeteria chain is closing multiple locations and heading toward liquidation’.

Luby’s circa 1955. Check out the cool cars. [Picture from Texas Highway Magazine; photograph by Dewey G. Mears; courtesy the Austin History Center, Austin Public Library].

Friday/ 19 years since 9.11

2,974 victims were confirmed to have died in the initial attacks. It has been reported that over 1,400 9/11 rescue workers who responded to the scene in the days and months after the attacks have since died. (Figures from Wikipedia).

Here is a list of dates and events that followed the 9/11 attacks ..

YearDayMilestone
2001Tue–Sept11The 9/11 attacks
2001Sun–Oct07Taliban driven from power/
War in Afghanistan starts
2003Thu–Mar20War in Iraq starts
2006Thu–Apr27One World Tower construction starts
2011Mon–May02Osama bin Laden killed in Abbottabad, Pakistan
2011Sun–Dec18War in Iraq ends
2015Fri–May29One World Tower observation deck opens
2020Sat–Feb29Conditional peace deal signed with Taliban in Doha, Qatar
.. and here is 1 World Trade Center shortly after its completion in 2015. The building and spire stand 1,776 ft / 514 m tall, and has some of the heaviest I-beams in the world, manufactured in Luxembourg. At its busiest, the construction site had 10,000 workers.

Tuesday/ the explosion in Beirut

‘This is like Hiroshima
– Mayor of Beirut, Marwan Abboud, while appearing to be in tears while addressing reporters a few hours after the massive explosion that rocked the city on Monday evening


As someone said on Twitter: in a city that still bears the scars of a civil war of 15 years (1975-1990), the people of Beirut deserve better than this.
Early indications are that the explosion was the accidental ignition of 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate used in fertilisers and bombs had been stored for six years at the port without safety measures.

It looks like a war zone in Beirut. France has promised to send help. Trump expressed sympathy and said the USA would help, but said ‘Looks like a terrible attack’ and ‘It was a bomb of some kind’ .. offering no evidence or that intelligence was gathered or obtained, of course.  [Picture was reposted on Twitter, original source unknown]

Thursday/ John Lewis laid to rest

Though I may not be here with you, I urge you to answer the highest calling of your heart and stand up for what you truly believe. In my life I have done all I can to demonstrate that the way of peace, the way of love and nonviolence is the more excellent way. Now it is your turn to let freedom ring.
– John Lewis (80), in an essay he wrote shortly before his death on July 17.


Civil rights icon and former congressman John Lewis was laid to rest today after three former presidents (Clinton, Bush, Obama) had delivered eulogies for him at a service in Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta.

Sunday March 7, 1965: Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) Chairman John Lewis (far right) and Hosea Williams of Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) lead peaceful voting rights demonstrators across the Edmund Pettus Bridge from Selma to Montgomery, Ala. | © Alabama Department of Archives and History.  Photo by Tom Lankford, Birmingham News.
Minutes later, with white onlookers cheering them on, Alabama State troopers in riot gear brutalized and trampled unarmed men, women and children, beating them with clubs and unleashing tear gas. Lewis was hit on the head and fell to the ground and when he tried to get up, was struck again, leaving him unconscious.

Friday/ it’s Juneteenth Day

Google’s home screen ‘doodle’, to celebrate Juneteenth Day.

Dating back to 1865, it was on June 19th that the Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free. Note that this was two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation – which had become official January 1, 1863.

More at https://www.juneteenth.com/history.htm


The Trump campaign did good work (unintentionally) by initially scheduling his stupid rally in Tulsa, OK for today. Oh! It’s Juneteenth, had no idea (I’m parapharasing), said he, we will move it. (Moved it by one day, to Saturday).  So now many millions more Americans — at long last — know what Juneteenth is, and there will be a push from Congress to make it a federal holiday.

As for Saturday’s rally, there is the reality of Oklahoma being in the middle of a spike in Covid-19 cases. No matter. Deaf to Oklahoma public health officials, the Trump 2020 campaign will pack 20,000 adulating Trump barbarians into the Bank of Oklahoma Center. They will not be required to wear masks. Tulsa Mayor, and Oklahoma Governor — the consequences will be on you.


Sat. Jun 20: Trump delivered his usual disjointed speech; told the thin crowd he ‘wanted to slow testing down’, and called the corona virus Kung Flu.
His appearance at the outside overflow area was cancelled. The overflow area was empty.

Inside the Bank of Oklahoma Center at the start of Trump’s speech. The Tulsa Fire Dept. told Forbes magazine on Sunday that attendance was just under 6,200. The capacity of the Center is 19,000. [Panorama shot from Twitter, taken by CNN’s @DJJudd]

Tuesday/ the day apartheid died

Young South Africans, wearing face masks and keeping a distance, mark the country’s Youth Day holiday in Soweto, South Africa, Tuesday, June 16, 2020. Nearly 200 young South Africans, wearing face masks and keeping a distance, marked the country’s Youth Day holiday, the 44th anniversary of the 1976 Soweto students’ uprising which helped to bring about the end of the country’s previous regime of racist, minority rule. Äsivikelane is Zulu for “Protect each other’. [Themba Hadebe/Associated Press]
June 16, 1976, is a day that saw fierce police brutality in South Africa.  Several thousand high school students in Johannesburg’s poor township of Soweto demonstrated against the minority South African government.  (In 1974, a decree had been issued that had forced all township schools to use Afrikaans and English in a 50–50 mix as languages of instruction).

The march had been peaceful, but then a police convoy arrived. Not long after that, the protestors were fired upon with live ammunition, causing the deaths of several young students. There was more bloodshed the next day. The number of young people who died is usually given as 176, but other estimates put it at hundreds more.

Many white South Africans were outraged at the government’s actions in Soweto. It would be another 14 years before Nelson Mandela would be let out of jail, but at no point after 1976, was the government able to restore the relative peace and social stability of the early 1970s.

June 16, 1976. Umbiswa Makhubo carries the body of Hector Pieterson, 12 years old. The screaming girl in the picture is Hector’s younger sister Antoinette. [Photograph: Sam Nzima/Archive]

Wednesday/ more than 100,000 lives lost

So here it is, four months in: the United States reached the 100,000 mark for Covid-19 fatalities. We have a long way to go – but at this point the US has a far, far worse outcome compared to most other countries in the world.

Moreover, the actual number for the pandemic may already be as high as 125,000, if one adds in what is called ‘excess death*’ statistics.
*The observed number of deaths, minus the expected number of deaths under normal conditions, for a certain population.

There was not a word out of Trump about all this, who was at the SpaceX launch event in Kennedy Space Center in Merritt Island, Fla. (scrubbed at the last minute due to bad weather).

Joe Biden, Democratic candidate for the 2020 Presidential Election, on Twitter today.

Memorial Day

The last Monday in May is Memorial Day.
The Korean War (1950-1953) is called ‘The Forgotten War’, but let’s also remember those soldiers that had paid with their lives in the very recent wars in Afghanistan (2001-present) and in Iraq (2003-2011).

Sunday/ trying to peer into the future

‘Never let the future disturb you. You will meet it, if you have to, with the same weapons of reason which today arm you against the present.’—Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, Roman emperor from 161 to 180 and a Stoic philosopher


To help keep my sense of time and seasons intact, I drew up a little timeline of the 9 months that still stretch ahead of Seattle and the world in 2020.
Major sport events in the world have now been cancelled through July (including Wimbledon tennis at the famous ‘All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club’, and the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics).

After that – well, we just don’t know right now.

Sure looks like it’s going to be remote learning for Seattle schools through June, and NO proms, NO high school graduation ceremonies. Confirmed: NO 2020 Opening Day for Seattle Yacht Club. I don’t think there will be a 2020 Seattle Pride Parade (late June), nor 4th of July fireworks gatherings. Seafair Weekend is the end of July .. not yet cancelled. Will kids go back to school on Sep. 2? Don’t know yet. The 2020 NFL season is slated to start Sept. 10, and insiders are said to be ‘skeptical’ of that start date. And by then Thanksgiving and Christmas loom.

Friday/ the U.K. leaves the E.U.

50 pence coin cupro-nickel coin issued by the Royal Mint to ‘observe’ the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union, says the website. Yes. And now we will observe how Prime Minister Boris Johnson will make life better for Britons, now that the Brexiteers finally got their way.
P.S. Some grammar geeks point out that the so-called ‘Oxford comma’ should have been used before the ‘and’. That would clarify to the reader that all of the three things mentioned, are wished between the U.K. and other nations —not only friendship.

From the Royal Mint website: ‘Commonly known as ‘Brexit,’ the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union officially took place on 31 January 2020.

The withdrawal serves as culmination of a period in British history kicked off by a referendum on 23 June 2016 which was followed by the country triggering Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty on 29 March 2017′.

 

Monday/ ‘bring jelly, and blankets’

The train tracks leading to Auschwitz’s entrance, on the cover of a 2019 book by Robert Jan van Pelt, Miriam Greenbaum and Luis Ferreiro. We have not (yet) had a World War III after 1945 — and atrocities on the scale of the Holocaust — but man! there have been horrible genocides, in Indonesia (1966), in Cambodia (1975), and in Rwanda (1994), among others, and many, many wars.

The horrors of the Auschwitz concentration camp came to an end 75 years ago. I confess that I did not know that it was the Russians that liberated the people trapped in the camp.

Here is a little bit of what Don Greenbaum (94), says of the U.S. Army Liberation of the Dachau Concentration Camp (this was on April 29, 1945).  From German news weekly Die Spiegel :

We couldn’t communicate at first. The prisoners spoke all sorts of languages, German, Czech, just no English. Then we found out that one of our boys could speak Yiddish. He said: “We are American soldiers. We are here to free you. You can go wherever you want.” But where should the poor devils go? We couldn’t even feed the prisoners. People were so starved that they were unable to eat normal food. We said to the comrades behind us: “Bring something to the people here that they can keep with them! Soft food, something like jelly. Anything they can swallow. And bring blankets! “

Tuesday/ the Twin Towers in 1999

Here is a digital scan of the 35mm film negative, of a picture of the Twin Towers, that I had taken in 1999 from the Hudson River.  I was on a Circle Line boat tour around Manhattan island.

The World Trade Center’s twin towers, seen from the Hudson River, in March 1999. The building in the distance — between the Towers — is the Woolworth Building, an early American skyscraper, located at 233 Broadway. Designed by architect Cass Gilbert, it was the tallest building in the world from 1913 to 1930, with 55 floors and a height of 792 ft (241 m).

Monday/ Martin Luther King Jr. Day

It was the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday here in the States today, and it felt like a Sunday to me.

Martin Luther King: (my paraphrasing) all people should have equal political rights and social freedoms, and we should speak up, and act, when we see someone’s civil rights violated.

Leaders of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs & Freedom marching w. signs (R-L) Rabbi Joachim Prinz, unident., Eugene Carson Blake, Martin Luther King, Floyd McKissick, Matthew Ahmann & John Lewis. (Photo by Robert W. Kelley/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images)
I liked the Google ‘doodle’ artwork that was on the Google homepage for MLK Day.

Friday/ unpacking my bags

My bags are unpacked.
As usual,  I dug out several items between the layers of clothes in my suitcases that I had ‘acquired’ during my visit to Tokyo and Perth.

I admit I may have gone a little overboard this time with my animal figures, but they are all great additions to my collection. Clockwise from top left: Giant Sable Antelope, Black Wildebeest, Eland, Three-toed Sloth, American Bison, Bald Eagle, Raccoon, baby Polar Bear, Scarlet Macaw.
And I added three small cones (aluminum, brass, copper), and three spheres to complete my collection of geometric shapes. These are from the Tokyo Hands craft store.

Friday/ for my stamp collection

I stopped at an ‘Australia Post’ post office today.
I had the poor clerk behind the counter flip through the big album, full of sheets of stamps, so that I could pick out colorful and interesting stamps to buy. She was very patient with me!

Top to bottom & left to right: Set of freshwater crayfish stamps by naturalist and zoologist Roger Swainston | ANZAC Day 2019 (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) mini-sheet | Celebrating marriage equality (the law was passed two years ago, Dec. 2017) | Little penguins, the smallest penguin species, found on the coastlines of southern Australia and New Zealand | 50th anniversary of the moon landing | Snorkeling, windsurfing, kite surfing and just old-fashioned board surfing, at Cocos (Keeling) Islands, a remote territory of Australia in the Indian Ocean.

Saturday/ the fall of the Berlin Wall +30 yrs

Saturday marked the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.  Construction of the Wall was started by the then-German Democratic Republic (GDR, East Germany) on 13 Aug. 1961.  It came to symbolize — metaphorically and physically — the ‘Iron Curtain’ that separated Western Europe and the Eastern Bloc during the Cold War.

Print ad in the Tagesspiegel newspaper on Saturday, showing the scene at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin shortly after Nov. 9, 1989*. Germany was officially unified again in Oct. 1990. (Even so, many observe that the true unification of West and East Germany is an ongoing process to this day).   *The Gate was soon hereafter refurbished at a cost of €6 million (from private donations), and reopened in 2002.

Wednesday/ Trump gets a scolding

The House overwhelmingly (354-60) approved a resolution, that formally rebukes Trump, over his sudden and disastrous pull-out of American troops from northern Syria. (The damage has been done, of course — to America’s reputation, to the Kurds that had fought shoulder-to-shoulder with Americans against ISIS, and to the stability in the region).

‘All roads with you, lead to Putin!’ is reportedly what Nancy Pelosi told Trump at a meeting in the White House, when this picture was taken.

P.S. A recent blog post from Terri Kanefield explains a lot to me. Here is just the end of her explanation regarding the Mueller findings, and why impeachment then, would not have been viable.

Back when Trump appeared to be trying to goad the House into impeachment, it was when impeachment would have been basically about the Mueller findings.

With the Mueller stuff, Trump knew how to control the narrative because he knew the parameters. This was what the “impeach right now” people didn’t understand.

Legally, the House can keep impeaching. Politically, it would be insane. Imagine this: a prosecutor brings charges (obstruction of justice, for example) in June. The jury acquits. Then in September, the prosecutor says, “I have more evidence on that guy! Let’s have another trial!”

See how that looks?

The public was bored with the Russia investigation, and didn’t want to hear about things Trump had done before he was elected president. Scholars on impeachment say that traditional crimes are not what impeachment is about. Impeachment is for a president so abusing his power that removing him in the election may not be an option, or even possible.

If Trump had been impeached last spring, the Senate would have acquitted, and Trump would have declared himself Completely Exonerated.

The House would have looked silly impeaching again.

Trump knew once he was impeached and acquitted, he would would have been insulated from any additional impeachments.

In other words, he would have been untouchable.

Pelosi has decades of Intel experience. A lot of the Ukraine stuff happened in the open. What’s happening now is much more serious and compelling.

Pelosi waited for this or something like it to come out.

Check mate.

Either Pelosi got lucky or she knew what she was doing. Given that she’s the one of the most experienced and savvy people in politics, I’ll take Door #2.

Being a woman complicates this. People are less likely to assume she knows what she’s doing. 

Saturday/ unpacking my bags

As usual, my luggage was filled with books, and with little nothings and souvenirs. Here are some of the items.

From left to right: ‘Carnaval of the Animals’ (Afr. Karnaval van die Diere), satirical sketches & rhymes | Tintin postcard pictures and Tintin double book ‘Tintin and the Moon’ (Dutch. Kuifje en de Maan)’ | Norwegian Fairy Tales | from South Africa: Fritz Deelman, Agaton Sax & Vonk de Jongh books.
From left to right: Polar bear from the Museum of Natural History in Oslo | Unusual new LEGO bricks from the LEGO store in Hamburg  | The Groke mug (a Moomin character from the comic strip by Swedish-speaking Finnish illustrator Tove Jansson) | vintage LEGO doors from a second-hand store in Hamburg | a little piece of polished obsidian, a naturally occurring type of molten volcanic glass that has become solidified rock | Okapi & snow leopard from a toy store | Five Roses tea from South Africa. ‘Nobody makes better tea than you and Five Roses’, was what the print ads would say many years ago.
‘Norwegian stamps – Norway in miniature’, says the lettering on the envelope they gave me to put the stamps in. The 26 kr stamp has Harald Oskar Sohlberg, a Norwegian neo-romantic painter, below it the 38 kr stamp has Norwegian lumberjack Hans Borli who was also a poet and writer. The little bird at the bottom left corner, is Norway’s national bird, the white-throated dipper. There are no penguins in Norway, though – that chinstrap penguin on the other 38 kr stamp is from Antarctica.
And here is some Norwegian krone banknotes and coins. On the 50 kr is Utvær Lighthouse, the westernmost coastal lighthouse in Norway, on the 100 kr is the Gokstad Viking ship, a 9th-century ship currently on display at the Viking Ship Museum in Oslo (I did not make it out there), on the 200 kr a codfish, and on the 500 kr a lifeboat (rescue vessel) called RS 14 Stavanger.