American Elephants


Reading for Pure Pleasure, Or How to Get Lost in a Book by The Elephant's Child

I recommended a few books a few days ago to add to your knowledge. There are many kinds of reading, thrillers, histories, mysteries, westerns and romances, among others. If you are still locked down, or avoiding going out, you are likely to need more reading just for pure pleasure. To get lost in a book.

At the very tip-top of my list is Patrick O’Brien. with seventeen novels described variously as “the best historical novels ever written”, “the best sea story I have ever read,” books you will keep to read again and again. The series is about the Royal Navy in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries and establishes the friendship between Captain Jack Aubrey R.N. and Stephen Maturin. ship’s surgeon and intelligence agent against the thrilling background of the Napoleonic wars.

Details of life aboard a man of war in Nelson’s navy are faultlessly rendered; the conversational idiom of the officers in the ward room and the men on the lower deck, the food, the floggings, the mysteries of the wind and the rigging and the roar of the broadsides as the great ships close in battle.

The first, Master and Commander, was published in 1970, the last in 1995. You can get the whole series from Amazon for a hefty $240.75 or one at a time for $10.89. One of the best investments you will ever make.

Another series I recommend highly is James Clavell’s Asian Saga which begins in 1600 with Shogun, followed by Tai-Pan, 1841, Gai-Jin,1862, King Rat, 1945, Noble House,1963, and Whirlwind,1979. Clavell is an excellent storyteller. Today’s China and Hong Kong add to the interest although the books are fiction.

If you are female and do not read books about wars and battles, shame on you, but you might enjoy anything by Penelope Lively, Joanne Greenberg, or Elizabeth Spencer.



They Are Vacating the Autonomous Six Blocks of CHOP That Had Seceded From the Rest of the Country. by The Elephant's Child

This is all extremely weird. The national news is reporting that the occupiers of the Capitol Hill Organized Protest (CHOP) are vacating, moving out. Their officials say that any protesters can stay as long as they went, but they seem to be tearing up the newly-planted vegetable garden and attempting to return it to ordinary park status, except that it has been all dug up.

Capitol Hill businesses have filed a major lawsuit against the City of Seattle. The merchants said in the suit that they have suffered economic ruin because the city allowed CHOP to happen. CHOP leader Naudia Miller confirmed reports that the area is being dissembled. She added “The burden of owning a business doesn’t compare to struggles of living in a nation that’s built on anti-black racism,” directed at businesses that are a party to the lawsuit.

A local investment firm closed it’s doors and announced that they were moving to Arizona. No local news purveyor managed to take pictures of the emptied streets, if they indeed are emptied. This is a screen capture from a hard-to-find video. Perhaps after the shootings, reporters and photographers decided to play it safe. This is the same view as in previous pictures that were decorated with barriers, signs, tents, debris and more signs. They talked about setting up at Seattle Center, by the Space Needle or elsewhere. The feckless Mayor of Seattle, Jenny Durkan, was perhaps right when she called it a “summer of love” thing.

The CHOP (formerly CHAZ) has been major news across not only the country, but the world, turning the city of Seattle into something of a laughingstock, and suddenly they’re seeming to pretend that it never happened. There was a murder there, and people hospitalized.

CHOP leaders insisted their efforts are far from over: “We need every one of us to step up in a way that’s in our capacity, because we are dealing with trauma,” Miller said, adding that the only difference going forward is that Capitol Hill will no longer be a staging ground for Black Lives Matter.

Miller also spoke about everything that’s happened at the East Precinct, saying protesters’ takeover of the building was fair game after police used tear gas to disperse CHOP attendees.

“The Seattle Police Department chose that location when they terrorized people on Pine Street, and when they tear gassed people in their homes,” she commented.

The city says that the East Precinct will be reoccupied by next week. Stories about the six-block CHOP are pretty much absent from the news here, where one would think it would be big and welcome headlines. I had to really hunt to find anything.

Did they all suddenly recognize that this mess was giving Seattle a major black eye?

Capitol Hill is distinctly uphill from downtown Seattle, which is on a slight gradual slope down to the west and the water of Puget Sound, where the ferries dock. Seattle was famously built on seven hills, and some were plowed down to make them more acceptable for stores and businesses. If you assume that the CHOP area was in downtown Seattle, that’s incorrect. Capitol Hill is home to Seattle University, hospitals, schools and businesses. It slopes down on the eastern side to Lake Washington, and expensive residential areas along the lake.

Protesters have been shutting down the freeways too, or trying to. The Police keep them under control. As far as I can recall, we haven’t much here in the way of statues, or Confederate anything. Some totem poles.



A World Shifting and Changing As We Try to Grasp What is Happening. by The Elephant's Child

Has the magazine industry died entirely while I wasn’t looking? Magazines are still plentiful in waiting rooms of doctors, hairdressers and barbers, and in bookstores. But do ordinary people still subscribe? I get a few specialized publications. But I grew up with Time, Life, Fortune, the Saturday Evening Post, Readers’ Digest, and Smithsonian. Times changed, and we all got computers. There used to be stories and cartoons, and interesting ads.

Now many people pay significant sums to avoid having to see any ads at all. I don’t remember ads being so objectionable as they are now. I am a reader, and I don’t want my reading interrupted, especially with something that moves and has sound. Google regularly tells me, as I delete yet another ad, that they base the advertising I see on my interests as determined by the websites I visit. They are clearly very bad at determining my interests. I have never responded to a Google ad, except to delete it. I’m still in the deleting phase rather than paying a hundred dollars to be free of ads. How about you?

The world is shifting and changing. We are occupied with the current protests and statue eradication, and not really noticing that shopping malls are disappearing, going broke, being transformed into apartments.

Post-pandemic, will our world return to pre-pandemic or has it all shifted? There is certainly more talk about more people working from home. Meetings can be held online. Offices are expensive. Here in Seattle businesses are moving out. What has driven them out is official failure to deal with protests and CHOP and consequent lack of public services and police protection. Protesters are occupying the freeways too.

If you are looking you will see frequent reports of whole populations moving, People leaving the large coastal cities and heading for safer territory. Even Chicago had 100 people shot on Father’s Day. The weekend before set a record, I believe, for fatalities.

Daniel Boorstin, the late Librarian of Congress, once wrote: “In our world of callused ears and overtaxed eyes, there are many symptoms of the desperate need of people to make somebody listen, to be sure somehow that somebody is hearing. More and more people are willing to pay fees they cannot afford, to medically trained psychiatric listeners who listen, nod, and take notes. A few desperate people especially young people with great energy who find that they cannot get people to listen when they say something, decide instead to throw something.” Is that what is going on?



A Bit of History That You Probably Never Knew by The Elephant's Child

The photo is from Venezuela, a line of hungry people trying to get groceries, and scarce toilet paper. Here in the Seattle area we are having runs on toilet paper, people are desperately trying to stock up. Some stores are limiting how many packages of rolls one may buy. We have a delivery of groceries coming on Monday, and won’t know until then how much, if any, toilet paper will be included with the order. Thanks to Covid-19.

That leads those of us who read a lot to check into the history of toilet paper, and a lot of people are doing so. You may know that the “slang term” for the toilet is “the crapper.” This is not a bad word for the facility, but the name of the gentleman, Thomas Crapper, who patented his valve and siphon design in 1891. Philadelphia was the first city that switched entirely to cast iron pipes for their new system of water delivery.

Chicago was the first city in the country in 1885, to have a comprehensive sewer system. The Tremont Hotel in Boston was the first hotel of its kind to feature indoor plumbing for guests in 1829. Eight water closets were built by Isaiah Rogers. Until that time indoor water closets were commonly found in the homes of the rich and in luxury hotels.  Soon soap was introduced during bathing,(!) and it was adapted widely for hygiene purposes. Think about that one, with what you know of history in general. Before there were comprehensive sewer systems, there was often a town pump where you went with your bucket. We live in such an age of invention that it’s hard to think about previous generations as not having them. My mother bought her first television so she could see the first moon landing. But there was a time when someone in the family bought their first toilet, and someone first bought toilet paper. Before that the pages of the Sears and Roebuck catalog usually were used.

The first water pipes were discovered by archeologists in the Indus River in India, dating back to 4000-3000 B.C. Egyptian ruler Menes supported a thriving civilization by constructing canals, irrigation ditches, and basins.

This comes from a History of Plumbing Timeline: The Invention of Indoor Plumbing posted by John C. Flood of Virginia, apparently a plumbing company. Do take the time to visit it and learn a bit about our history that you probably never knew. Always good for starting a new conversation at a boring party.



President Trump Goes to India by The Elephant's Child

Of course, the obligatory visit to the Taj Mahal, a stunningly beautiful building built of white marble. It is a mausoleum on the south bank of the Yamuna river in the Indian city of Agra.

It was commissioned in 1632 by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan who reigned from 1628 to 1658, to house the tomb of his favorite wife, Muntaz Mahal, and also contains the tomb of Shah Jahan himself. It is the centerpiece of 42 acres that contains a mosque and a guest house, and is set in formal gardens bounded on three sides by a crenellated wall. Muntaz Mahal died while giving birth to their 14th child in 1631. Her death left the emperor heartbroken, and his hair was said to have turned grey overnight. The construction began in 1632.

Here are the pictures from the President’s visit It’s fun to scroll through them. There’s a picture that’s my favorite of a man mounted on a camel, man and camel decorated lavishly with flowers. The camel seems to be smiling in a funny grin, and the gentleman riding him is carrying a Tuba, which he obviously plays at some point.

When you reach the end, do not click on the <2 or 3> which is just a repeat of what you already saw, unless, of course you want to see it all again.



Happy Valentine’s Day! by American Elephant
February 14, 2020, 2:38 am
Filed under: Humor, Pop Culture | Tags: , ,

Valentines Elephants

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Being of the male of the species, I’ve never much understood the importance some place on the holiday. Let’s face it, Valentine’s Day is nothing more than a concoction of the greeting-card industry to promote the sales of schmaltzy valentines. And as a holiday, it’s kind of a rip-off — if even the most perfectly executed Valentine’s Day gesture doesn’t excuse one from being romantic the rest of the year, then, really, what’s the point?

That said, I should point out that Elephants are known to be very partial to chocolate truffles.

[reposted from previous years]



All The Excitement of Oscar Night! by The Elephant's Child

Oscar night. I didn’t watch. No interest. I have had to listen for months to Hollywood “celebrities” extolling their hatred for the President of the United States, TDS, and unfortunately, their general ignorance of economics and law. Tiresome and annoying. I returned the favor by not viewing any Hollywood movies this year at all.. Did watch a British movie or two. If they find that box office receipts are down or that interest in the Oscars has dropped off, they have only themselves to blame.

Who is a celebrity? In general, someone who has accomplished something and has been extolled in the press. In Hollywood, it’s often someone who has a good press agent, who gets a big salary for getting their celebrity-to-be’s name in the press. Once someone becomes a certified celebrity, then it’s a quick and easy report for the press, whose jobs depend on filling the reports of online news or the pages of a newspaper. So the lazy way is always to call up some celebrity to see if they have a comment.

Photo: Jonathan  Schmer

ADDENDUM: Ho Ho ho! Breitbart:s John Nolte article: WOKETARD OSCAR RATINGS COLLAPSE 20 PERCENT TO ALL-TIME LOW

Oh, well, except for the fact that Sunday night’s telecast ended up being exactly what those of us who refused to watch knew it would be: Three-plus hours of elitists hectoring and lecturing the rest of us to make sacrifices they never will.

The whole night was smug and pompous and sanctimonious and hypocritical.

The whole night was filled with man-hating and self-congratulations… It was appalling.

The whole night was filled with small, petty, mean-spirited, divisive, spiritually-unattractive blowhards who obviously hate most of their customers, but who are so bubbled and spoiled and privileged and sheltered, they not only feel no need to hide that hatred and contempt, they believe that by being boorish and insulting and off-putting, it will actually boost their standing within a failing industry held together by literal spandex.

Second Post: AXLEROD WARNS APATOW; HOLLYWOOD’S TRUMP-BASHING MAY HURT DEMOCRATS

David Axelrod, who managed Barack Obama’s presidential campaigns and worked as a senior advisor to the president in the Obama administration, told film director Judd Apatow that Hollywood’s hostility toward President Donald Trump may be damaging the Democrat Party’s political fortunes in Middle America.

I won’t say I told you so, but I told you so.



Brexit Day Has Arrived and Britain Leaves the European Union by The Elephant's Child

Well, Happy Brexit Day to our British friends across the pond. It’s a thing that seems to be going around. People aren’t too happy with  giant bureaucracies trying to control their prized freedoms with ever more regulations and laws and nit-picking.

Whether government is elected or assigned, human nature intrudes, and once in power bureaucracies want to fix their subjects, make them behave better, become whatever they think will or might be an improvement. The people don’t mind some moderate regulation, but the regulators always go too far. Americans started off with a bit of that when the British initiated the Stamp Act and the taxes started interfering with daily life. America became it’s own nation with a unpleasant Revolutionary War just  to make things clear. So we fully understand what the Brits are up to with Brexit. The Bureaucrats of the European Union went too far, and it wasn’t just regulating the proper size and curvature of bananas and cucumbers, but food regulations went so far by 2008 that shops were refusing to stock up to 20% of food and vegetables because it didn’t meet EU regulations. And it’s not just food, but illegal immigrants, refugees, who is or isn’t, and what to do about it. The EU has become a busybody and the fear, of course, is that other nations might follow Britain out.

If the complexities of regulation interest you at all, you might enjoy Matt Ridley’s speech to the House of Lords about Genome Editing. OK that sounds unbearably boring, but the speech is short and demonstrates just how the future can be fouled up with bad regulation. It really is interesting.



Absolutely Entitled to Be In Charge! by The Elephant's Child

It is certainly clear that Democrats believe they are entitled to run things, to be in charge. Three years later, and they still have not gotten over it. “Entitled” seems to be the key word. They should be in charge – because they are morally superior. They are compassionate. They care.

Republicans clearly do not care. They make it clear every day. Desperate people looking for a better life, and Republicans want to build walls to keep them out. They want to send people to prison just for smoking a joint. They have this cruel police force called ICE that wants to track down immigrants living quietly in this country and deport them. They want to tell women what they can do with their bodies, and deny them health care when they need it most. They clearly do not really care about the people at all.

The earth is facing a horrible doom because Republicans won’t face facts and move to clean renewable energy, and stop the evil oil pipelines that are despoiling the planet, because they favor Big Oil companies instead of clean natural wind and solar energy. It’s very clear that Republican care far more about budgets and big corporations than they do about the American people.

If you just keep their moral superiority in mind, everything will become clearer and less argumentative. They are really trying to improve things. Just see what they are offering to do to improve your lives. Rein in those big corporations that are polluting the planet. Medicare for all, not just the old folks. Compassion for all.  Social Justice for all. More equality. More fairness. What more could you ask?



Are We Getting Dumber? Or Does It Just Seem That Way? by The Elephant's Child

I just questioned (online) the vaguely remembered claim that most Americans cannot name the three branches of government. It was supposedly only 26% who could not name them, then it got turned around to 75% of Americans could not, and just 26 percent who could, and only 33% who could name a single branch. Well, that’s informative. No wonder President Trump speaks of “Fake News.”

It’s clear that people don’t know how to think about the climate. Popular thinking runs somewhere from total panic because the earth is ending in just 5 years, to this article I ran across today: “A Relatively Painless Guide to Cutting Plastic Out of Your Life.”

Last year may have been the beginning of the end for plastic. It may have taken a while for the average person to wake up to its dangers, but many were shaken into action by the images and videos of plastic’s impact on the natural world that flooded the media in 2018.

A viral video showed a turtle with a straw stuck up its nose. Stories about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch revealed how island-sized trash mounds had collected in the ocean between Hawaii and California. And then there was that National Geographic cover of a plastic bag floating in the water, beneath the scrawled words “Planet or Plastic?” The issue publicized a remarkable statistic: Despite the world’s efforts to recycle, 91 percent ends up in the trash.

What, you are telling me that we have these huge, expensive recycling programs, and they don’t work at all? Not to worry, the plastic in the oceans apparently comes from China, which is actually worrisome. The United States has done a remarkable job of reducing noxious emissions — more than any other country.

This is from SEPP’s weekly newsletter (Science and Environmental Policy Project’ free newsletter)

Appropriate Models: Mathematics is the language of science, but that does not mean that mathematical models correctly describe physical phenomena. Or that a mathematical process in a model used in analyzing physical evidence (data) from observations and / or experiments suitable for one phenomenon is suitable for other phenomena. The model may or may not describe the subject phenomenon. That is one reason why Richard Feynman stated that hypotheses (guesses) must be tested against all relevant data. Experimental data is preferred because other possible influences are controlled to the extent possible, but observational data may be necessary.

Benny Avni writes in the New York Sun that as America’s Democratic Presidential Candidates promote programs borrowed from Europe’s traditional left, Europeans are increasingly pushing back against them. Angela Merkel was blamed for dragging Germany’s Christian Democratic Party too far to the left. France’s National Rally Party beat President Macron’s centrist faction. In Poland, Hungary and Italy, politicians of various right-wing parties are now in power, and anti-leftist parties are on the rise. In Canada, Prime Minister Trudeau is struggling to stay in power after his Liberal party suffered parliamentary seat losses. Lot of Politics out there.

I got my hair cut yesterday, and picked up a copy of the old familiar Readers Digest  in the waiting room. No longer a big thick magazine, it had dieted down to maybe a quarter of an inch thick. Magazines and newspapers are clearly dying. I’m more concerned about the dumbing-down of society. I suspect that the online opinions flashing across computer screens suggest that people don’t read anything of length. Some websites are suggesting, beside their stories, that it is  only a 4 minute, or 6 minute read, to encourage those who have a tiny bit of time to pause long enough for their story. Reminds me to be brief and get to the point. But it suggests that we are becoming more superficial, less informed, and more open to bad information. What do you think?



AAAARGH!!! by The Elephant's Child

Forgive me, but I want to rant a bit! I HATE PASSWORDS! I did business with this outfit two or three years ago, wrote down the password in my little password notebook, but it seems that is not actually my password, because (???) it doesn’t work. Well, then, they have my special verification clues, which apparently is the name of my best man or matron of honor at my wedding a couple hundred years ago. But that doesn’t work, and which one did they want — male or female, They don’t accept either one. So we start all over with sending codes and emails and new passwords. Supposedly I gave then the name of my “favorite author” as a verification back in the distant past. Favorite author? I was an English major, I do not now or ever have favorite authors. It depends on what I just read and whether I liked it or not, and I read all the time. And all this was for a very unimportant $10.00 purchase.

Does anyone else have this difficulty with passwords and verification? Or is it a universal complaint? Didn’t some federal person just become a laughingstock recently because his password was “password”? Oh do, please, tell me your horror stories so I won’t feel so alone in my rage.



Sixteen Year Old Greta Thunberg Has Arrived in America to Address the UN on the Horrors of Climate Change by The Elephant's Child

Democrats have, in the modern era, always insisted that Republicans, those backwoods folk who live in the hollows of  Arkansas, or the woods of Idaho, are racists or Nazis, or whatever boogie-man they can devise. Democrats are destined to be in charge of the important things, like the country, [and major cities like New York, Baltimore, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle] simply because they are morally superior.

Democrat-run cities don’t hold out a lot of promise for allowing them to be in charge of much of anything. You should probably keep that in mind when you vote. That said, they are now down to 10 Democrat candidates for the next debate, and there will be only one, not two.

Our governor, Jay Inslee, has dropped out. His campaign was entirely about Climate. But ordinary people are not convinced. He is clearly a true believer, and it is looking as if our state is going to go entirely to renewable resources for energy. Wind and solar, which do not produce dependable power, and Washington state still has renewable hydropower, though we’ve pretty much run out of places to dam. Look for regular blackouts.

We apparently do not need facts in order to be concerned about climate. There’s a worldwide outcry and those most passionate fight to see just how many years we have left. I suspect that few have ever studied up to see what the cries of Climate Change are all about.  And as they cry passionately that we have only 12 years left, their information is as ephemeral as 16 year old Greta Thunberg’s insistence that she can (in complete refutation of science) see the molecules of CO² in the air. A little child will lead us, I guess. She has arrived by sailboat in  America to address the United Nations.

I am concerned with the amount of nonsense out there. I think that our reliance on computers has us accustomed us to too much news in snips and bits. The long reads of background and history and development get passed by, and our understanding because of that lack, is even more incomplete. When there are voices shouting Climate panic and suggesting that the earth is going to end in a very few years, there are lots of people who will take that as fact, and order their lives accordingly, without ever studying up.

It is quite possible to determine who are the experts and who are the phonies, and what is established and what is simply fashionable conversation. Whenever there is a Climate demonstration, there’s usually someone in a polar bear costume to elicit pity and warm feelings, but the polar bears are just fine and multiplying nicely according to Susan Crockford who is the expert on polar bears. But that is how it works today




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