Saturday, July 23, 2016

Cultural Finds

South Burlington, VT

I imagine a future archeologist discovering this packet that I found today at the airport.  It is very revealing about the differences between American and India culturally.

The packet appears to be from an Indian Student from Indian Institute of Technology Guahati.  There is a note pad form Stowflake Resort and Conference Center in Stowe VT, so the student probably went to a conference there.

In addition to the pad are:

  • A pouch saying "My Clear Bag"
  • A pen
  • A stapler
  • A box of staples
  • A package of paper clips
  • Two large sheets of tracing paper (I haven't seen tracing paper since my own time in school.)
  • A tube of mosquito repellent
  • A package of mosquito repellent incense.
  • A bar of soap that says "germ protection + Insta Deo"
  • Copies of a form saying "Supplementary Answer Sheet"
I'll turn it in to lost and found, but I thought you might be as interested as I what an Indian student carries as he travels internationally.

Friday, July 22, 2016

The Revolution Fizzled Out Already

South Burlington, VT

In June I posted Election or Revolution? making the argument that Trump's supporters were actually attempting to make a non-violent non-organized revolution against the US Federal Government.  I said that the revolution was likely to fail.

Now, with the Republican Convention over, I say that the revolution has already failed.  One of its prime goals was to split and destroy the Republican Party.  That didn't happen this week.

But I can't help to prognosticate some more.  (Why not?  Bloggers don't have to ask anyone for permission to say what they think.)  I don't know who will win Trump or Clinton.  I don't know how I or Libby will vote.  However:

  1. If Trump wins, the immediate reaction will be regret and a feeling by Trump's supporters that they reached too far.  I compare it to the Brexit vote in that way.  Longer term, everyone will try to limit what Trump does.   But four years from now, a liberal democrat will be virtually guaranteed to win a presidential race.  The country will swing left for generations.  It will be historic.
  2. If Clinton wins, the angry people will become angrier.  The next time a surge in anti-government anger coincides with a national election, the angry people could say, "We tried working within the system with Trump.  That didn't work.  Violence is the way."   The word civil war sounds extreme, but something coming close to that could happen.
In last night's acceptance speech, Trump did say one thing that could greatly mitigate the anti-Trump emotions should he win.  He talked about government screwing the people.   Suppose that as President, he used the power of executive orders to squash the worst behavior of federal employees?  That would be wildly popular.    For just one example, think of the IRS.   The President could say to IRS, "Any rule that you can not explain properly over the public telephone hot line, you may not enforce.  You shall not collect any taxes based on rules that the man in the street can not understand."  Actions like that would be wildly popular, and it could change many people's opinions of Trump.

If the Supreme Court upholds Obama's executive orders on immigration, it would pave the way for hundreds of executive orders by the next President circumventing Congress.  

"We live in interesting times."  Unfortunately (fortunately?) for me, most of the consequences of 2016 will occur after I'm gone.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Never Thought About That

Middlebury, Vermont

On the way to Woodstock, we stopped at an overlook site to take a picture.  Overlooks on Vermont highways are rare.

Reading the sign, we learned that the cliff you see in the picture on Mount Horrid, is very special.  It is nearly the only south facing rock cliff in the state.

First of all, it is true that Vermont's mountains have fewer bare rock cliffs than New York's Adirondacks or New Hampshires White Mountains.  But I never stopped to think about how many of those face which direction.   Vermont's mountains are dominated by nouth-south ridges, so their slopes face mostly east-west.

Second, what difference does the direction make?  A big difference it turns out, but it was not obvious to me.  South facing cliffs are warmed by the sun.  That makes them perfect temperature for brooding eggs, as well as offering protection from predators who can't reach the nests.

This particular cliff features perigrine falcons.  Aha!  Now I understand.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Hidden Right Under Our Nose

Woodstock, VT

Do you know about, Marsh - Billings - RockefellerNational Historical Park in Woodstock, Vermont?   We didn't either.  When we got there, the ranger said that most people from Vermont and New Hampshire also didn't know about it.  Even the neighbors from Woodstock didn't know it was there.  Now that's a good open secret.

Anyhow, the buildings, the grounds and the gardens are jewels.  They rival Shelburne Farms (which was a contemporary development with this one.)  Admission is free.  So if you're ever near this place, allow a few hours for a visit.  You'll enjoy it.

Below is a little photo animation from our tours today of the mansion and the gardens.

By the way, I think Google Photos sucks.  There are many things the old Picassa did well, that Google Photos does poorly or not at all.  This photo animation whose speed I can't control is an example.   

To see a much better slideshow of these pictures, click here.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

What is the Message?

South Burlington, VT

I previously posted this picture from BTV.  They changed the sign from "Family Restroom" to "Gender Neutral".  It is a third choice after Men and Women.  It also seems to retract the multiple occupancy implied by the former FAMILY sign.

Now, here is a second and worse example from Perkins Pier in Burlington.  They added this decal sign below the MENs room sign.  But the second photo shows that the WOMENs room is still reserved for women only.   How is that different from North Carolina?  Will Burlington have an ID officer with rubber gloves ready to certify the gender of people wanting to use the women's room?

Ridiculous.  Worse, by making transgenders choose a third kind of room, that singles them out.  It is like wearing a scarlet letter. The only truly neutral choice for labeling all restrooms is the simple sign RESTROOM.

Also ridiculous is the almost total absence in the press accounts about the more difficult part of that infamous North Carolina law; locker rooms and showers.   Why?  Because I believe that almost all of us can agree that there is nothing wrong with unisex rest rooms, but when it comes to changing rooms and showers, the majority holds the opposite view.   When will we allow high school boys to shower with the girls if they want to do so?  Answer: not in my lifetime.

So where do transgenders change and shower?  That question has no simple answer, no discrimination intended.  If we push that question to the limit, the only possible universal solution is to remodel our buildings to make private single occupant unisex changing/shower rooms.  Then the signs on the door can say simply SHOWER.