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.

Wednesday/ here’s Kirstenbosch

It is spring in South Africa, and I just had to stop by Kirstenbosch: one of the world’s finest botanical gardens.

All kinds of Namaqualand daisies are in bloom in September and October in Kirstenbosch, on the southeastern slopes of Table Mountain.
These are Livingstone daisies (Cleretum bellidiforme), also called Bokbaaivygie (Afr.), a flowering plant in the family Aizoaceae, native to the Cape Peninsula in South Africa.
I love the soft pinks, whites and yellows of the tassel heath (Erica coccinea). It’s a type of fynbos native to Potberg north of Cape Town.
The bees and the birds do it .. and so do long-horned beetles!
Pincushion protea (genus: Leucospermum), one of some 48 such species with the flowers in variations of oranges, reds and yellows. The plants are evergreen upright or creeping shrubs.
Here’s a red-eyed fly on a common pagoda (Mimetes cucullatus). This is a type of fynbos found on the Cape Peninsula.
The king of all the proteas, the iconic and beautiful King Protea (Protea cynaroides). It has the largest flower head of all the proteas.
This could be a scene from 200 million years ago on the slopes of Table Mountain. Most of these plants are Eastern Cape Giant Cycads (Encephalartos altensteinii). The dinosaur is a model of Aardonyx celestae ‘Earth Claw’, fossils of which were discovered in 2005 in rock in South Africa. Aardonyx was 7 m (21 ft) long and 1.5 m (5 ft) tall at the hips.
Here is the Tree Canopy Walkway, new-ish addition to Kirstenbosch (May 2014) of a curved steel and timber bridge that winds and dips its way through and over the trees of the Arboretum.
Here is the Conservatory by the main entrance to the gardens, with Africa’s southern-most boabab tree specimen.
The Conservatory houses a large collection of Namibian desert plants. This one is a Kobas (Cyphostemma currorii).
The curators have also gone to great lengths to cultivate a number of the weird and wonderful Welwitschia mirabilis desert plant. The enclosures are heated, as is the soil, so as to mimic desert conditions. Some specimens in the Namib desert are estimated to be 1,000 to 1,500 years old.
Heath (genus Erica) type fynbos vegetation. Fynbos (‘fine bush’) is a small belt of natural shrubland or heathland vegetation located in the Western Cape and Eastern Cape.

Wednesday/ about Greenland

I just had to check out Greenland again on my Earth globe (with the stupid and completely unnecessary flap created around it, and all ⁠— by You-Know-Who in the White House).

Greenland is the world’s largest island and is a semi-autonomous country of the Kingdom of Denmark. It has been politically and culturally associated with Europe for more than a millennium.

Greenland sits almost due north of the United States. It has some 56,000 inhabitants, 1/4 of which live in the capital, Nuuk. Ethnicity of its people: 88% Greenlandic Inuit (including Inuit-Danish mixed); 12% Danes and other Europeans. Insets: Coat-of-arms (a polar bear) and national flag.
It’s fun to use Google Streetview to do virtual tours of Greenland. In a few places they mounted the Streetview camera on a boat and recorded some views. This one in the bay by Narsaq.
Here is a little store in the capital Nuuk. Let’s see what the Danish translate into: Møbler: furniture, gaveartikler: gifts, slik & chokolade: sweets & candy, festartikler: party items, friske blomster: fresh flowers.
.. and a little Danish design flair for a new apartment building. Very nice.

Thursday/ where the brutality of American capitalism comes from

The New York Times has launched a project called the 1619 Project. ‘The 1619 Project is a major initiative from The New York Times observing the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery. It aims to reframe the country’s history, understanding 1619 as our true founding, and placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of the story we tell ourselves about who we are’.

Here is an excerpt from an essay written by Matthew Desmond, professor of sociology at Princeton University for the Times’s 1619 Project.

‘Those searching for reasons the American economy is uniquely severe and unbridled have found answers in many places (religion, politics, culture). But recently, historians have pointed persuasively to the gnatty fields of Georgia and Alabama, to the cotton houses and slave auction blocks, as the birthplace of America’s low-road approach to capitalism.

Slavery was undeniably a font of phenomenal wealth. By the eve of the Civil War, the Mississippi Valley was home to more millionaires per capita than anywhere else in the United States. Cotton grown and picked by enslaved workers was the nation’s most valuable export. The combined value of enslaved people exceeded that of all the railroads and factories in the nation. New Orleans boasted a denser concentration of banking capital than New York City. What made the cotton economy boom in the United States, and not in all the other far-flung parts of the world with climates and soil suitable to the crop, was our nation’s unflinching willingness to use violence on non-white people and to exert its will on seemingly endless supplies of land and labor. Given the choice between modernity and barbarism, prosperity and poverty, lawfulness and cruelty, democracy and totalitarianism, America chose all of the above’.

Monday/ how will the Hong Kong protests end?

Wow .. it is Tuesday in Hong Kong and protesters are again flooding into Hong Kong airport. (The airport was brought to a standstill on Monday).

Who will ultimately win the public’s support, and will it matter once the Chinese army moves in? Hong Kong law states that the People’s Liberation Army (the Chinese armed forces) stationed in the Hong Kong region cannot interfere in local affairs, but the law does allow for their deployment at the request of the Hong Kong government to ‘maintain public order’.

What started as protests against changes to Hong Kong’s extradition laws to China, have now morphed into protests against police brutality (against the protestors), and against the Hong Kong government and Chief Executive Carrie Lam in general.

Protestors doing a peaceful sit-in at the airport on Monday, although the latest reports say that they have gone to the departures halls as well, preventing passengers from checking in.

Saturday/ Sandy Hook 2012, now already long gone

The massacres continue unabated here in the United States.
Saturday at an El Paso Walmart: 20 dead, dozens wounded. 
Early Sunday in Dayton, Ohio: 9 dead, 27 wounded.
Both are acts of domestic terrorism, committed by home-grown white nationalist Americans.

The Republicans and Senate Leader Mitch McConnell have repeatedly blocked laws passed by the House in the Senate.

The New York Times notes: “In retrospect Sandy Hook marked the end of the US gun control debate,” Dan Hodges, a British journalist, wrote in a post on Twitter two years ago, referring to the 2012 attack that killed 20 young students at an elementary school in Connecticut. “Once America decided killing children was bearable, it was over.”

It should be noted, though, that in 2013, Connecticut State lawmakers did make sweeping changes to the state’s gun laws. It did not impact gun sales very much, but today Connecticut has one of the lowest gun death rates in the nation. (‘Lowest gun death rates’ is still a problem).

The United States of America with its lax gun laws: Awash in guns, awash in mass murderers. P.S. 2019 figures: 393 million guns in America, population 327 million.

Sunday, sans sun

It was a gray Sunday, with a little rain, here in the city today.
I did run out to go check on the Alaskan Way Viaduct’s gradual disappearance (on-going demolition), and the new buildings under construction nearby.

Looking south from the upper deck at Pike Place Market. No Mt Rainier in the distance, just low clouds.
Looking north. There’s the Norwegian Bliss at the Bell Street Cruise Terminal (Pier 66), just getting ready to set sail for a round trip to Skagway, Alaska. It will be back early next Sunday morning.
The neon sign at Pike Place Market is almost as iconic as the Space Needle. It has been there much longer (since 1935), and was designed by architect Andrew Willatsen.
Nearby is The Emerald, a 40-story, 265-unit condominium high-rise. The mural artwork is for outdoor store Fjällräven (Swedish for arctic fox), around the corner.  (Scientists recently published an article that tells of a female arctic fox that had trekked an astonishing 2,700 miles from Norway to Canada, across arctic ice, in just 21 days).
And how is the new Rainier Square Tower on 5th Avenue progressing? I believe it still has 15 to 20 floors to go before topping out.
I always walk by this building on the way back from Pike Place Market and even though it now sells discount clothing, it has a storied history. It was built in 1940 as a major West coast store for the F. W. Woolworth Company. These the waning days of Art Deco architecture, but the building still has many Art Deco traits. The terracotta and lighter cream colors go together nicely, and I love the styling of the clock with its horizontal ‘wing’ accents.

4th of July 2019

It’s America’s 243rd birthday.
I plan to ignore the TV coverage of the military parade in Washington DC, and the ‘Salute to America’ speech by Trump! .. but here’s a little impromptu artwork, done with the help of a 1967 Spirograph set that I had recently bought on EBay.

Saturday/ the Stonewall riots, 50 years on

The fight for LGBT goes on, says this logo [Picture from Twitter]. Yes, minority communities need to fight for social justice, but they cannot do it all on their own. They need the support of the majority, or the establishment, before major changes will make their way into legislation and into the mainstream.

It has been 50 years since the Stonewall riots in 1969.

A series of spontaneous, violent demonstrations were made by members of the gay (LGBTQ+) community, against a police raid that had begun in the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, at the Stonewall Inn in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of New York City.

The Stonewall riots are widely considered to constitute the most important event leading to the gay liberation movement and the modern fight for LGBT rights in the United States.

 

Thursday/ 75 years on: we shall never forget their sacrifice

Time marches on, and here we are, 75 years from the day in World War II, on which the Allied Forces had landed on the beaches in Normandy.

After sunset on June 5th, an enormous fleet of some 6,900 Allied vessels made their way to the French coastline. The first Allied soldiers set foot on the five beaches at about 6.30 am.  (The five beach-heads would only be connected by June 12th, much later than planned, though). An estimated 4,400 Allied soldiers died on D-day, and an equal number or more German soldiers.

By the end of June 1944, some one million Allied soldiers were on the ground on French soil. The casualties for both sides during Operation Overlord that lasted until Aug. 30, 1944, would come to some 450,000 dead.

D-Day: This is How the Invasion Went  The boxes at the top are the code names for the landing beaches. The orange shows the areas that the Allied forces occupied on the first day after the D-day landings. (Their goal was to reach the dotted lines). The port city of Caen (lower right), a key target, was only completely liberated by July 21. [Graphic by Theunis Kruger, Grafika24, from Die Burger newspaper].