I was a late adapter to a cell phone. I thought I didn’t need it. I could use one of the ubiquitous pay phones that were everywhere in Japan. Well, the pay phones are now an endangered species and I would feel naked without my cell phone. I call it a cell phone but it really is a small computer with a phone function. What amazes me is the wonderful apps you can download to make your life easier.
I will share two apps with you. One app I have used for years and a new one that came with iOS 12 on the iPhone. The first one is 駅Locky (Eki-Locky). Eki means station and Locky is added so it sounds like “clock” in Japanese. What this app does is gives me a countdown timer for when my train leaves the station. This is far better than just giving me the time when the train leaves. Looking down at a timer that says I have 5 minutes left gives me the information that I need. I can either run to the station or relax and take the next train. If I swipe left the application shows a countdown timer for the next train so it is easy peasy.
The new app is Measure by Apple. This little app uses the camera in the phone to measure an object. Instead of a tape measure I can point the phone at a starting point then an ending point to see how long the object is. Pretty neat, right? It also has a level so one can see if the picture on the wall is crooked or not.
OK, the last post about standards drifted way off topic, or so it seemed to some. I tried to get a screen grab of an interview with the owner as seen on FOX News. Since I could not get a direct link to the clip, I grabbed it and reduced it in size to post. Unfortunately the video clip is still too large, even after I reduced the resolution by 50%, so here is the audio from the clip. The video just included stock footage that many have seen before. The point is that he took the effort to exceed standards, deeper pilings, special windows and accepting the fact that the first floor would be swept away.
Well a little bit more than a fender bender… I was rear ended on the way to work on the 15th. I’m not sure the whole concept of posting a few image of the results are really Ratburger material, but since I sent them off on Facebook, I thought I might share them here.
This post will be about Brett Kavanaugh with an aside to Justice Thomas. Recently I saw Pres. Trump defending Kavanaugh and saying that the hearings were a disgrace. This is so important because if there is silence only the opposition is heard. There is a cloud over Justice Kavanaugh head that needs to be dispelled. Trump at least is trying to do that. I don’t remember any strong defending of Clarence Thomas, do you?
One can safely say that George H W Bush was no Donald Trump. He was known for his loyalty but from what I recall he was not much of a public defender of his people. He never ridiculed Ted Kennedy for his hit job on Thomas. A good man was disgraced and because of the silence of Pres. Bush the Elder people still doubt Thomas.
Fighting back has to be done well. If it is done poorly one loses a second time. There can also be a Streisand Effect that is people blow a small problem up to a big problem. The thing is you can’t win if the other side only gets out their message. I have the feeling the GOPe are more of the Neville Chamberlain types. They would rather be seen as peacemakers than to actually do something effective. They fight intra-party battles better than against the opposition. It is an appeasement strategy because to actually do something would make them look bad. And heaven forbid they should do something positive and win. They are above that.
There are the defeatist like Fred Cole are for impractical things. Which really makes life pleasant for the them. They can always gripe about how their wisdom is never followed. I doubt these types would ever defend a part of the conservative coalition who lacked their purity of vision.
I am not proposing a scorch earth denigration of the opposition but it should be robust and effective. They should not be allowed to just walk into “Czechoslovakia”.
Now here is something you don’t see every day. Or do you?
This is “Chłopiec niosący snop” – “Boy Carrying a Sheaf.”
A snop is a sheaf, of wheat or barley originally, in Europe. At harvest, the peasants glebae adscripti walked along in a line, each with a scythe, cutting the stalks and binding them into sheaves. If they were smaller ones they would be stacked three or four together, upright, so that the rain would mostly drain off.
Below are stooks of barley sheaves in Somerset, England. (Thanks, Bdk, for the upload to Wiki.)
After a few good drying days they would be brought into the barn. In the quaint and far-off times, this was done by taking the biggest snop each child could carry, and sticking it on his head.
Aleksander Gierymski painted “Chłopiec niosący snop” in 1893 in a Polish village called Bronowic. Looks like a good dry day, doesn’t it? By the shadow I would say it is late morning, which it would have to be for the dew to have burned off. The field is otherwise empty as much as we can see, so maybe they have been doing this for a few days, planning their harvest festival all the while.
I hope they all got their harvest in on time. Around here we have gotten our corn into the silos for another year without any human injuries due to accidents. Those do occur from time to time, as people work long hours with powerful machines.
Americans continue this activity for decorative purposes, and use American cornstalks, as they would. These sheaves turn up this time of year in the oddest places:
It is good to have things snug before fall hits. I just learned a new jingle about that:
Na Edwarda jesień twarda.
“From St. Edward’s Day [October 13th]
the fall is hard.”
After working it out with both hands, I construe that at the mid northern lattitudes, about 120 days after the summer solstice, the atmosphere has cooled down enough to notice, especially when the wind picks up. Why does it happen so suddenly?
As Mr. Bennet says in Pride and Prejudice, “I leave that for you to determine.” Stay snug.
This is the fourth novel in the Mitch Rapp saga written by Kyle Mills, who took over the franchise after the death of Vince Flynn, its creator. On the cover, Vince Flynn still gets top billing (he is now the “brand”, not the author), but Kyle Mills demonstrates here that he’s a worthy successor who is taking Rapp and the series in new directions.
In the previous novel, Enemy of the State, Rapp went totally off the radar, resigning from the CIA, recruiting a band of blackguards, many former adversaries, to mount an operation aimed at a nominal U.S. ally. This time, the circumstances are very different. Rapp is back at the CIA, working with his original team headed by Scott Coleman, who has now more or less recovered from the severe injuries he sustained in the earlier novel Order to Kill, with Claudia Gould, now sharing a house with Rapp, running logistics for their missions.
Vladimir Krupin, President/autocrat of Russia, is ailing. Having climbed to the top of the pyramid in that deeply corrupt country, he now fears his body is failing him, with bouts of incapacitating headaches, blurred vision, and disorientation coming more and more frequently. He and his physician have carefully kept the condition secret, as any hint of weakness at the top would likely invite one or more of his rivals to make a move to unseat him. Worse, under the screwed-down lid of the Russian pressure cooker, popular dissatisfaction with the dismal economy, lack of freedom, and dearth of opportunity is growing, with popular demonstrations reaching Red Square.
The CIA knows nothing of Krupin’s illness, but has been observing what seems to be increasingly erratic behaviour. In the past, Krupin has been ambitious and willing to commit outrages, but has always drawn his plans carefully and acted deliberately, but now he seemed to be doing things almost at random, sometimes against his own interests. Russian hackers launch an attack that takes down a large part of the power grid in Costa Rica. A Russian strike team launches an assault on Krupin’s retired assassin and Rapp’s former nemesis and recent ally, Grisha Azarov. Military maneuvers in the Ukraine seem to foreshadow open confrontation should that country move toward NATO membership.
Krupin, well aware of the fate of dictators who lose their grip on power, and knowing that nothing rallies support behind a leader like a bold move on the international stage, devises a grand plan to re-assert Russian greatness, right a wrong inflicted by the West, and drive a stake into the heart of NATO. Rapp and Azarov, continuing their uneasy alliance, driven by entirely different motives, undertake a desperate mission in the very belly of the bear to avert what could all too easily end in World War III.
There are a number of goofs, which I can’t discuss without risk of spoilers, so I’ll take them behind the curtain.
Goofs (here there be spoilers!)
The copy editing is not up to the standard you’d expect in a bestseller published by an imprint of Simon & Schuster. On three occasions, “Balkan” appears where “Baltic” is intended. This can be pretty puzzling the first time you encounter it. Afterward, it’s good for a chuckle.
In chapter 39, one of Rapp’s allies tries to establish a connection on a land-line “telephone that looked like it had been around since the 1950s” and then, just a few paragraphs later, we read “There was a USB port hidden in the simple electronics…”. Huh? I’ve seen (and used) a lot of 1950s telephones, but danged if I can remember one with a USB port (which wasn’t introduced until 1996).
Later in the same chapter Rapp is riding a horse, “working only with a map and compass, necessary because of the Russians’ ability to zero in on electronic signals.” This betrays a misunderstanding of how GPS works which, while common, is jarring in a techno-thriller that tries to get things right. A GPS receiver is totally passive: it receives signals from the navigation satellites but transmits nothing and cannot be detected by electronic surveillance equipment. There is no reason Rapp could not have used GPS or GLONASS satellites to navigate.
In chapter 49, Rapp fires two rounds into a door locking keypad and “was rewarded with a cascade of sparks…”. Oh, please—even in Russia, security keypads are not wired up to high voltage lines that would emit showers of sparks. This is a movie cliché which doesn’t belong in a novel striving for realism.
This is a well-crafted thriller which broadens the scope of the Rapp saga into Tom Clancy territory. Things happen, which will leave the world in a different place after they occur. It blends Rapp and Azarov’s barely restrained loose cannon operations with high-level diplomacy and intrigue, plus an interesting strategic approach to pledges of defence which the will and resources of those who made them may not be equal to the challenge when the balloon goes up and the tanks start to roll. And Grisha Azarov’s devotion to his girlfriend is truly visceral.
Mills, Kyle. Red War. New York: Atria Books, 2018. ISBN 978-1-5011-9059-9.
Here is an Author Stories interview (audio only) with the author about the novel and process of crafting a thriller.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren released some DNA findings to prove Indian ancestry. Trump has punched backed. What I find fascinating is not the substance but the ripples of this public debate. Whether someone likes Trump or not he is the master of forcing opponents to look silly fighting back. “Why aren’t I 50 points ahead” Hillary and “His hands are small” Rubio are a few examples. I don’t see how this will end well for Warren.
Two hundred years ago, halfway around the planet from where I sit, Constable painted someone fishing, or perhaps just messing around, in some little English stream I shall never see. “Tree Trunks” is the name it goes by, and the trunks are all right, as are the shadows and sun on the grassy bank. What touch me most are the browned leaves of autumn and the shimmering gold light created by those increasingly slanting sunbeams.
This is what we have now; we have it every year; amazing. Further, after the last couple of weeks we deserve it more than ever.
To go with that, here is John Keats: Ode to Autumn.
“Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness!
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o’er-brimmed their clammy cells.
Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep,
Drowsed with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twinèd flowers;
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cider-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.
Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too, –
While barrèd clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The redbreast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.
No more have we thatched roofs, thankfully, and no more standing there winnowing grain for hours by throwing basket after basket after basket – full up into the air so that the chaff can blow away. Nor do we dose our babies with poppy juice, as my ancestors did, and lay them to snooze at the edge of the field while we go out to bend down and reap, hours by hours.
Aside from those things, Keats details all the loveliness still to be enjoyed in autumn. Our season is prolonged this year. How goes it with you all? Have you a favorite painting or poem for autumn?
The Grand Ave subway station in northeast Queens is a madhouse at 7:15 am. Young people tryna get to school, grownups tryna get to work; it’s crowded; it’s uncivil; nobody gives way; nobody is polite; elbows are out; people are squished; if I don’t get on this train I’m gonna be LATE. (Continual delays and disruptions are a microagression against all New Yorkers, but I’ll let others moan about that).
However, the same station at 7:00 am is nice. It’s tranquil. It’s quiet. It’s peaceful. There’s a place to stand, maybe even a seat.
So I leave my house much earlier than I need to, just to have a peaceful ride to the city. I spend the extra time at Starbucks composing original content for all you fine people.
So yes, I’d rather wake up earlier, and get to work earlier, in order to have extra time to chill.
How is your commute? Would you leave your house earlier just to avoid unpleasantness?
The title is turning the saying “The best man for the job is a woman.” on its ear. Recently men who have become women have been winning in women’s sports. Is this fair when in taking account hormonal doping is a disqualifyer in most sports? If one is born XY, isn’t that giving a “woman” a big hormonal boost in training? Should prior men be handicapped for this advantage? (I am thinking of women’s tees in reverse.)
What is the difference between good humor and snark?
When is snark good and when is it bad?
If good, at what percentage should it be used?
I think most people are biased. They think using snark against opponents is good but take umbrage when it is used against them.
Please write your thoughts in the comments and I will give my answers there too.