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So this past summer I visited Gettysburg for the second time. It was a more in depth visit this time. The takeaway was that it was the turning point of the Civil War and it could have gone either way. It wasn't until the third day and Pickett's Charge was stopped and the Union won. It was the high watermark of the Confederacy and from then on it was a matter of grinding them down.

Last night was the first presidental debate between the two main candidates. It wasn't a decisive win for HIllary Clinton, but she did what she needed to do and got in one very good hit. There are two debates to go. They may not decide the outcome of the election. However, what she did told me she has the skills to land several more hits including the knockout blow. Now, we cannot understimate Herr Drumpf, he of tiny hands, expensive hair weave, and spray-on tan, but he can be defeated and the consequences of not doing could easily play out at best what happened in Italy with Berlusconni, or slighly worse in the Phillipines with Duterte, or even worse what has happened in Russia with Putin.

Now, you have to ask yourself why do I think Clinton is a better candidate? I'll let John Oliver explain. He does not gloss over her defects. All I'm going to say is that Oliver deserves an Emmy for best use of raisins as a metaphor.

Gettysburg-Debate connection: The battle of Gettysburg lasted 3 days; there are 3 debates. The consequences of that battle lives with us to this very day and the consequences of this election could equally last as long. I await Drumpf's Charge.

The Long and Winding Road

I've been a science fiction fan since almost as long as I can remember. Star Trek was my gateway to science fiction. I read a lot of comic books as a child and eventually started reading science fiction in the 5th or 6th grade. I picked up a used copy of Beyond Tomorrow in a dime store. It was edited by Damon Knight.

iPhone 7

So the biggest suprise about the iPhone 7 announcement is that it includes an adapter for your analog headphones. I must say Apple does a great job of creating gadget envy. I want to see how it does in the field after a people have started using it for a few weeks before I decide. I had decided to get an IPhone 6s prior to the event release today, but now I'm dithering.

When they brought out Sia to do a few songs and they showed the dystopian music video on the screen all I could think of is why didn't they give her a huge hammer?

The purpose of removing the audio jack is leverage. It means if you want a device like a SquareUp card reader, you'll have to pay Apple's Lightning connector lighting fee. Or they may simply refuse. And it may not pass through audio from other services. It remains to be seen how it's going to work and how much of a backlash there is going to be.

The other big surprise was I'd never heard of Sia before seeing the Apple Event today. I do not feel deprived.


August is almost over

School has started so evertyhing around the university which we live near is more crowded. It's still hot but has cooled a bit. Still in monsoon season and it has rained a fair bit, even had some flooding. November looms large in my thoughts but I try not to think about it. It's a choice between things as they are or the end of everything. The former is not sustainable, but it does buy me more time to prepare and hope for a smoother transition to a world with less diversity in the biosphere, more freak weather, acidified oceans and higher sea levels. 


A nonsoon is a lot like a monsoon in that it has clouds, lightning and thunder. It even smells like rain, but there's no rain. Since we went on our roadtrip to Oklahoma and back for my dad's 75th birthday, there was no rain in Tucson. Last night I saw lightning in the distance but nothing ever came of it. And there is lightning and thunder tonight but no rain (as of yet). It will rain again eventually.


Monsoon again!

Looks like the monsoon season has officialy started. 


Brexit. Holy crap!

What hath austerity wrought. So basically everything the Brits are legitimately angry at have nothing to do with leaving the EU. Basically, the older voters have ruined the future of young voters in the UK. The immediate effect is that with the plunging Pound was to ruin their economy.

The only sliver lining is that Scottish independence is back on the table. If they vote to leave the UK which was going to happen eventually, they'll join the EU. All of this is going to take time to sort out. 


Not Monsoon!

Apparently that rain was just a teaser and the real monsoon season probably won't start until July. When we came back from our trip to Gettysburg, we had record heat warnings. In fact, several people have died in the Phoenix and Tucson areas from heat. They were hiking. Hiking? In this heat? I have no idea why anyone would want to hike in temperatures above 100F/38C.

Update: It would appear after a record breaking spell of temperatures we might actually get a bit of monsoon rain. A few hours after I posted this I went to bring in the trash and recycle bins back from the curb and I noticed a lot of clouds. I even heard thunder. It didn't smell like monsoon. So we may get some rain. Fingers crossed.



It looks like our monsoon season started really early this here in Tucson. We started getting some clouds moving in last night and I thought is monsoon season going to start early? It officially starts June 15 but we usually don't get rain until the start of July. It's been pretty cloudy today and I went outside and I could smell a change in the air, not quite monsoon rain.

Just a little while ago we heard thunder, and on twitter someone in the Tucson area, reported hail and tweeted a picture if it hitting their backyard.

I just stepped outside and definitely could smell the rain. And a litle while later the skies opened up. It rained pretty hard for about 10 minutes then died off.

Note: We've had an unusually wet and slightly cooler year so far, though this past week we had some record temperatures. You've heard the expression for March, "In like a lion. Out like a lamb." There should be one for June in Tucson. "In like an oven. Out like a steamer."


And now for a musical interlude

This captures my mood this evening.

2016 Fury Road

I have had a habit of naming years and I don't remember what I named previous years. I'm too lazy to review all of my previous posts and I don't know how to search my past posts for those year names. There may be a way, but I'll check later or peruse later when I have more time.

As Samantha Bee pointed out 2010 was the most important election in our lifetime and Republicans won. They fucked us over good and hard. Assuming the 2016 election goes well for Democrats, they won't even begin to undo the damage done. That will take decades. Decades we don't have. Anytime Democrats win the White House and Congress, Republicans fight back hard to keep them from doing anything useful. They did it 1968. They did it in 1980. They did it in 1994. They really did it 2010. And they did it 2014.

Democrats aren't perfect. In fact many of the elite are just as beholden to Wall Street and the Military-Industrial Complex as Republicans are, but there are two candidates who have tapped into the vast majority of people who have been screwed by their party elites, Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. Those two could not be more different.

Donald Trump is a con man. Bernie Sanders is an activist. Trump directs the anger of his fans at those not responsible for the current mess, at immigrants, at gays, at refugees, at women, at minorities. Bernie doesn't so much direct the anger of his supporters as explain who is responsible, Wall Street. Donald does correctly point out how trade and outsource jobs have hurt Americans, but his solutions won't work, and will only harm his supporters even more.

Stripped of his adopted family name and fake tan, Drumpf looks about as appealing as a waterlogged corpse. Remove his hair too and he looks like a paroled ex-con from The Sopranos.

Here's the thing. There's a lot of anger at those responsible for the destruction of the middle class over the past thirty years. Only Bernie Sanders offers solutions to stop the decline and reverse it, but then we have enormous environmental challenges to deal with, global warming, ocean acidifcation, species loss, habitat loss, to name a few. His movement can't solve everything but it's a start.

I'd started composing the post before Trump became the presumptive GOP nominee and that Sanders chances had dramatically dwindled. Given the voter suppression efforts ( gerrymandering) of the Republicans over the past few years and the gutting of the Voting Rights Act, it's a very real possibility that Trump will be our next president.

The media is to blame for the rise of Drumpf. They love him. They earn him lots and lots of advertising dollars, because to the corporate owned media it's not about substance it's about spectacle, and Drumpf knows it. They love portraying the campaign as a horse race. It's not a race. It's not about who is up or who is down. It's not a fucking rollercoaster but that's what it feels like. It's not a chase but they are doing everything they can to portray it that way.

But if it's a chase then may I present Immortan Trump:

I wouldn't go so far as to say that Hillary Clinton is Furioso or that Bernie Sanders is Mad Max, but those are the roles available to them in this chase, and they almost work. But if anyone fully represents the values of Immortan Joe it is Donald Trump. Furioso worked within the system until it came time to make her break; Hillary worked within the system but will she make her break? Bernie is outside the system, but wants to do right, make the system better. And in a lot of ways he is making Hillary a better candidate. A lot of people talk about fleeing America if Drumpf is elected. There's no place to go. Just like in the movie they thought they could get away but the best place was where they came from. They had to remove Immortan Joe and his War Boys. So if we're going to have a metaphor for this year, for this campaign that could very well determine the future of the US, Fury Road is it.


Fountain Pens

I decided that I needed to improve my penmanship and this led me down the deep dark path to the fountain pen. I started with a Pilot Varsity then switched to a Platinum Preppy and upgraded to a Platinum Plaisir (Preppy with an aluminun shell) and bought a fancy fountain pen at NTIF this past weekend. It's lovely. It's made from a kit and has a lovely wood barrel and cap. The nib is a Dayacom Germany M. It came with a very short cartridge and a Schmidt converter. Today I bought some Lany blue/black ink and filled it. It writes very smoothly. Apparently there is a whole cottage industry of pen kits for woodturner hobbyists.

Originally, my idea was to use my iPhone for writing and notetaking. Yeah, that didn't work. I went back to writing in a notebook (moleskine and Rhodia) and I really like it. It's just me, the pen and the paper. No distractions.

Note: my penmanship has improved just a wee bit. At least I can read it.


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