Tuesday, 13 November 2018

JEFF BEZOS: the guy who can beat Donald Trump

A cockeyed idea? Maybe not. Jeff Bezos is Donald Trump's worst enemy. T attacks Bezos and Amazon with barefaced lies. Bezos is smarter, tougher, younger (54), richer, self-made and has a compelling back-story: born in Albuquerque, Bezos started Amazon (like a lot of tech guys) in his garage in 1994, with 250,000 borrowed from his parents. The company is now worth a trillion and counting. Bezos is #1 on Forbes Richest list (Trump a humble #259 – that drives T nuts).

Eki pointed out that while Bezos was rich, but his workers got peanuts. True. But starting Nov 5, 2018 (just in time for the midterms) Amazon's 350,000 employees (including short-term) will get 15.00 an hour minimum. The company's policymakers are will lobby for all US workers to receive 15.00 dollars an hour. Bezos has made other about-faces. He ditched his frumpy- dumpy nerdy suits for lean and mean black leather jackets, black jeans, shaved head (or waxed?). Eki, don't grit your teeth, looks count: they say Nixon lost against Kennedy because on TV he looked like an escaped convict. Bezos laid the ground-work for a crack at the top job when he bought (and saved) the Washington Post. T, when he heard the news, told his base, at a rally, that he would give the new owner a lot of problems. Bezos has given the Post free rein. And the paper has published a critical piece about Amazon.

Bezos vsTrump would be the ultimate mano a mano. George Orwell said all games are war - politic is a blood sport. Especially with the Bully-in-chief. 2020 will roll in on us like a giant tsunami. The Democrats need a leader who can connect, not only with the two booming coasts and the young but with the poor, left-behind parts of the US. Make America more equal again.

Note: Oct. 1, the New York Times published a 13,000-word article on Trump's tax evasion and crooked business practices going back years, after inheriting (and losing) a fortune. The investigation took 18 months. It might change everything. But don't bet on it. T flaunts and floats above the law. So far he has got away with it.

Source: New York Times Style, Financial Times Weekend, the net


PS: Eki and I are working on a 30' commercial: JEFF BEZOS: we need you 2020

Note: This has been one of Maggie's ideas i have had a hard time supporting. So much so, that i convinced her to change the commercial to VOTE: we need you 2020. We did also finish the Jeff Bezos version, but at this point i really do not like to be associated with it in any way. Edited by: Alan Smithee.

As to why, well, to be honest, first and foremost my own ignorance. I do not want to support someone i actually know quite little about. That's the mistake many Brexit voters and Trump supporters made. But there's also the thing Maggy mentioned - i seriously do not think anyone should own more wealth than entire countries. That is simply insane. Making someone like that the President of an important superpower would be adding insult to the injury.

Then there is the fact that i do not think a person in that position would ever make decisions with the best interest of the average Joe in mind. I cannot see a person in such a position working towards reducing the repulsive grasp the mega-corporations have over the society. I cannot see a person in such position advocating for the super-rich to paying their fair share of taxes. You get the point.

I did not add a picture this time. Deliberately. That's my miniature protest against the blog post's premise.

CU
--
Eki

Monday, 5 November 2018

SHOWDOWN 2018

One way to solve differences (Photo: Derks24/Pixabay)
Who cares. Everyone. At least they should. Because what's going on in the US affects us all. This midterm election is playing out like a John Wayne Western. There are the 'GOOD GUYS': Robert Mueller and his team, most of the media that is not underground and a majority of Americans. And the 'BAD GUYS': the President, cowed and cooperative Republicans (not all), the Alt-right, underground nut-ball social media (GAB, for example) and Trumpsters.

Trump is on a high, holding rallies in as many states as he can stuff in in before the midterms, Nov 6. Like and old-time 19C religious revival meeting, he's preaching, and selling, 'hell and brimstone' and whipping up the Base. The only thing missing is the snakes. But there are plenty of the human kind to take their place at his rallies.

One positive thing this crazy, but cunning like a fox, president has done is to whip up both Republicans and Democratic voters. The midterm election used to be a 'so what'. And most voters didn't bother. This year the early voting has surpassed the 2016 presidential election. A first. I told Eki, T has made me so tuned in, in how the US government works that I now know something about what the house, the senate, the supreme court and the presidential powers are. He thinks, or hopes, T will gets impeached. I said, 'No way'. Even if the Dems win the house (a good chance) and try vote to impeach him. It takes 67 votes in the senate to pull it off. Tune in on Wed. 7 Nov. to find out how this cliffhanger ends.

Source: personal experience

Next week: JEFF BEZOS: the guy who can beat Trump in 2020

Note: Actually, i don't have much to add to this... vote, people. Also here in Finland, we need to throw our own little Trumpsters out from the driver's seat, and voting wisely is the route to that.

CU
--
Eki

Monday, 1 October 2018

FEAR: Bob Woodward's new Tell-all book about life in TURMP's fucking* CRAZYTOWN

When Donald Trump royally chews out his economic adviser, Gary Cohn**, Cohn offers his letter of resignation. T ignores it. Later John Kelly, White House chief of staff tells Cohn, 'If that was me I'd have taken that letter and shoved it six different ways up his ass.' Kelly also called Trump an idiot (I think he actually said 'fucking idiot'). His ex-Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, called T a fucking moron. Anyone who has access to media knows that Donald Trump is a fucking disaster. 

A cute kitten (Image: Ty Swartz / Pixabay)
What makes Woodward's book stand out from the rest of the tell-alls, is his access to the top players, his meticulous research and his methods. And he has clout. Insists that interviews are 'on-the-record' and taped - evidence in case he needs it. In the Financial Times Weekend review, 'Inside the devil's Workshop', Trump comes off badly. No surprise. But the shocker is, so does Robert Mueller, the special counsel. No explanation.  I read the line three times and got depressed. Mueller is our knight in shining armor. Our great hope that Trump gets trounced. 

Lots of people close to the president spilled their guts. Some of them denied it. John Kelly, said, 'Bullshit'. Steve Bannon, T's ex-strategist, blabbed big-time, calling Ivanka Trump a 'fucking staffer'.  She shot back, 'I am not a fucking staffer, I'm the First Daughter.' They swear a lot in Crazytown (John Kelly's name for the White House). Two of the biggest, and most important contributors were John Dowd, T's personal lawyer for years and the horse-whipped, Gary Cohn. Dowd talked for hours and hours. Guess it was some kind of catharsis. So did Cohn. I read that when T had his first staff meeting in the  White House, he said he wanted every day to be like a reality TV show. A promise he kept. The kicker is, Trump loves it all: the good, the bad and the ugly. He doesn't give a shit. 'Just PLEASE fucking talk about King ME.'

* Fucking: read in the health section of the New York Times that swearing is good for you. It hasn't seemed to help the Trump administration. But might keep the White House staff from going bonkers.

** Gary Cohn resigned on April 2, 2018.  

Source: Financial Times Weekend, the net

LittlemargieBLOG is on the road in October. Back November 1.


Note: Well, this time i do not have much to add. The next elections are really important, in the US and also here in Finland. Vote, people!

...and enjoy the kitten pic. Trumps looking at Trump's face.

CU
--
Eki

Sunday, 23 September 2018

What EKI did last summer




Meadow Spittlebug (Philaenus spumarius)

For most of the year, Eki sits at his supercomputer and edits. Or he goes out on a shoot. But for two weeks in July, he works in the HALKKA family business: TVÄRMINNE – seven islands in the Finnish archipelago where his parents started their research around the time he was born, late 1960's. As soon as he could walk and begin to comprehend what was going on Eki joined in. Today he mostly takes care of the boat, collects insects and helps document. His brother Antti's whole family and his sister Sara work there too. When we were shooting 'El gaucho de Högsåra' he showed me the SPITTLEBUGS his dad Olli and mom Liisa were researching. It was the size of a small dot. For someone who jumps from job to job and project to project I thought, how was it possible to work on the same small insect year in, year out.



The crew gets up early and starts collecting insects. As many as 3000 a day. I saw a video of them working. Someone was swinging a white bag on a long stick back and forth.  You have to be dedicated to do that for many hours. Especially on a hot day when it stays light till late. His dad had a plastic tube holding a bunch of bugs and was dictating to someone who wrote down the info.

Eki has done helicopter shots of each island so the researchers can see the changes in the meadows. His mother also did a study of shrews in Eastern and Western Finland. And found they had a significantly different genome. The edge of the ice-age glacier can still be seen in the shrew's biology.

Scientists must be frustrated that more action isn't being taken by governments around the world regarding climate change. Eki says, as far as he knows the planet is in its 6th mass extinction. And this year the spittlebug population was smaller than last year. The US has gone backward since Donald Trump was elected. He not only took the US out of the Paris Climate Accords (the only country in the world to do so)   but appointed a climate change denier as head of the Environmental Protection Agency, who has cut regulations put in place by President Obama. I heard (on the internet, so the info should be checked), that 1,600 scientists and other personnel have quit the EPA. Climate change news is bleak and the future looks bleaker. But the Halkka family go back to Tvärminne year after year. Now a third generation has joined the family business.

Sources: Eki, the net

Next week: FEAR: BOB WOODWARD's tell-all book should scare everyone who cares about international order

Note: We currently still study seven islands at Tvärminne Zoological Station each year, but that used to be many more. Only the core islands remain in the long-term follow-up study.

The video Maggy saw was from 2007. Since then, my dad who led the study has passed away, and my brother Antti has taken over the helm. My mother still has a big role too, i'd say she's still the co-captain of the ship. Also, Kaisa Roukka, my dad's spouse since my parents divorced in the 80's, still helps on the study too - and over the years, especially early on, there have been many others.

The Finnish archipelago has been in a constant state of change for thousands of years. During the ice age, there was a huge mass of the glacier pushing down on the ground, and we're still bouncing back from that. In the Baltic sea, the land has risen about half a meter per century since the ice age. So, the water level is now about 25 cm lower than when we started 50 years ago. The meadows, especially those that are low on the shores of the islands, were much younger back then, just been revealed from under the sea in the previous decades. Those meadows have matured during the course of our study - on some of them, there's not much of a meadow anymore - trees have grown, they have almost become young forests rather than meadows.

Due to climate change and the global rise in ocean levels, this glacier-caused land rise effect is about to be canceled, and the sea rise will start to win by the end of this century.

The health of the Baltic ocean has varied a lot over the years. Sometimes the water is clear and rich on oxygen, you can see the bottom many meters deep. In other times (like this year), it's like green porridge due to blooming algae. The algae are the result of hot weather, nutrient-rich wastewater from agriculture, combined with a lack of salt water influx pulses from the Danish strait lately.

Attributing this change to human vs. natural is hard, and so is telling whether there's a robust trend in the quality, or if it's just natural fluctuation. Likely both.

And to get back to the spittlebugs, the small catch this year was the result of unusually dry and warm weather - which also is a part of natural variation as well as an overall trend. The yearly variation is huge, and this year was a harsh year for the spittlebugs, populations were very small, but they are going to bounce back again for sure. If not next year, the year after that. The 6th mass extinction has not reached our islands yet.


CU
--
Eki

Tuesday, 11 September 2018

TRUMP vs AMERICA

donaldDONALD (2018)
A bombshell hit the White House. A WH staff member, or maybe a group, wrote an anonymous op-ed piece in the NEW YORK TIMES, reads like a John Le Carre thriller, about how they worked to keep this crazy president in check. Anyone who has watched Trump ranting at one of his rallies will know how 'out-to-lunch' this guy is. And how dangerous. The op-ed piece, for the first time that I can remember, was read out loud on CNN. It was chilling.

The Republicans have been either mesmerized or cowed, by Trump's bombast and threats. And they are in power. The mid-terms coming up in November might change the dynamics. But it's not certain. The Democrats aren't all that organized and have no knock-out leader. John McCain, one of the last of the old and principled guard, cast his last vote from the grave. The president was not invited to his funeral. He sulked and tweeted on the golf course.

Eki says T will get impeached. I hope to hell he's right. But what really is scary is how watchable, readable and engrossing this drama is. I'm glued to my mac. When laptop needed an update and was gone for 24 hours, I was chewing my nails and drank too much wine. Was on the phone with my US pals for NEWS and updates. No detail was too small or insignificant for a major discussion. We don't know the end of this Shakespearean saga. But we do know it's never happened before in US history. Let's hope it ends like one of Shakespeare's comedies. Then we can all clap instead of cry.

Sources: CNN, BBC, MSNBC, Financial Times, New York Times

PS: JASPER PAKKONEN was better in part as white supremacist supreme than Spike Lee's 'Black Klansman' I hope we see more of him in American movies. But Lee muddled up a good story (in the middle) with a message-y prologue and epilogue.

Next week: What EKI did last summer

Note: Not much to add to that. Wild times ;-)

--
Eki


Thursday, 30 August 2018

TRASH: PLOGGER & TRACTIVISTS

Ploggerbear (Photo: pixabay / npapaioannou)
PLOGGING (plucking trash while jogging) came first. Conceived in Scandinavia by Erik Ahlstrom, a Swede.  He had the bright idea to give bags and gloves to runners so they could collect trash along their routes.  Now plogging has a life of its own and has spread around the world. The concept is so simple, it's no surprise that it's one of the hottest sports trends of 2018. Races are organized with double goals: run the fastest and pick up the most trash. Doable and fun. All sorts of hair-brained ideas are floating around the internet to solve the garbage disposal. One eco-group wants to use the trash clogging up the oceans to make a habitable island. When I told Erkki I found research that stated by 2050 plastic will outnumber the creatures who call the sea their home, most of it from land-based sources, he said, 'No way'. Unless a lot of them die out. What trash needs is low-key practical solutions like PLOGGING or...(see below)...

TRACTIVIST  (trash-activist) is anybody who walks and picks up trash along the way. I got into it by accident after a heavy wine lunch and walked to the little park by the river to si it off. The place was a mess. Someone had unpacked flat-box furniture cartons  (IKEA?) and left them all over the place. I folded the boxes and stashed them by the trash bin, And came back in the afternoon armed with gloves and a bag to finished the job. It felt good and was fun. Bystanders sitting on benches were curious. A few came over to find out what I was doing. Now I pester my pals to PICKupTRASH. They seem to like the idea.

Cleaning up the outdoors gives outings purpose and improves the scenery. Big companies, such as Amazon, Ikea am other big-time trash producers should get in the act. So should tech titans,  (Mark Zuckerberg, Egon Musk, Tim Cook. Jeff Bezos). God knows, cities, countries, the planet needs volunteer army to pitch in to pick up (and dispose of in an eco-friendly way) the crap we humans casually pitch out. The most efficient garbage collection service can't keep up. Trash collectors are unsung, virtually unseen heroes of our time. Just go to any city where they're on strike to find out what life is like without them.  They need help. Ploggers are doing it. Now how about the rest of US?

Sources: Sharon Pettus, the net, personal experience

Next week: JASPER PAKKONEN in  Spike Lee's hot new movie BLAKCK KLANSMAN



Note: I think i found the source for the more plastic than fish claim, this article:

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/jan/19/more-plastic-than-fish-in-the-sea-by-2050-warns-ellen-macarthur

The article links to the source report, i haven't read it yet so cannot comment how robust the findings are...

- Eki

Thursday, 21 June 2018

The OBAMAS' 250,000M Netflix gig: new POWER BASE?

Obama's coming to town.


When the Obamas signed up with  Netflix for a wad of doe, my pals in the US and I bad-mouthed the couple for cashing in. The SHARK had a  different idea. She thought they might be setting themselves up for a new political base. They are both smart and must know that the Democratic party needs help. Hillary is a spent force. She can't stop blaming others for her loss. And Bill C. ain't much help. While touting his new book, The President is Missing (co-author James Patterson), he bungled questions about his affair with Monica Lewinsky.  And finally walked out.

The Obamas are the only Democratic Big Names who have the clout and the popularity, at least for now, to be de-facto leaders of the party. But the pompous, above-it-all name of their new production company, 'Higher Ground' is a wimpy first shot. Trump's vulgar, in-your-face, down-and-dirty bully-tactics are gaining. And now he's pulled off the ultimate media coup: hugging up to the world's Dictator-in-chief, who promises (word-of-honor), to de-nuclearize. Trump's famous takeaway from the tryst: ''I trust Kim'. But that just a throwaway. Only one rule counts: Dominate the media. King ME*. 

Still, the Shark may be on to something. The Obamas have been quiet since exiting office in 2017.  But they stayed in Washington D.C., unusual for an ex-pres.  The Netflix gig gives them a huge communication network. And it sounds like they have carte blanche to do what they want. Maybe a Dem version of Fox & Fiends? Amazon's founder and owner of the Washington Post, Jeff Bezos (on Trump's enemies list), is building a house in the same poshWash D. C. neighborhood as the Obamas.

Netflix, the liberal Post and the liberal New York Times* (both newspapers are good at sniffing outTrump & Co. skullduggery) would make a powerhouse backup trio for the Obamas. The 2018  midterm election should have been a slam-dunk for the Dems to win a majority, at least in the house. With less than five months till the voting day the Republicans, now known as the Trump party, are creeping up in the polls. Eki didn't think T would last out his term. I'm afraid he's on his way to a second. Unless the cavalry, led by Bobby Three Sticks (Robert Mueller III) rides to the rescue. Or the Obamas pull a rabbit out a hat.

*King ME: in case you missed last week's TIME magazine, the cover was a hoot. Trump looking in the mirror at himself in a royal robe and crown.

*New York Times: 'Fourth Estate', a four-part series about a year covering President Trump. Directed b Liz Garbus.   Produced by Showtime. Airing on the Finnish Broadcasting Company.

Sources: the Shark, CNN, Time Magazine, New York Times, Washington Post


PS: Eki and Riikka are celebrating a century 50/50. Cheers!

Littlemrgieblog will be on vacation until 15 August 2018


Notes: The idea of Obamas producing content sounds interesting. As a Netflix subscriber, i'll definitely give the shows a watch.

 I haven't seen that original Clinton interview, but i did see his comments on the Late Night show - which don't seem that unreasonable to me. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l5vcgT-Ud4c

I still do not think Trump will last the first term. He will be impeached, if not else, as soon as the Dems get the majority - which might well happen in the midterms. He may also get jailed if the Mueller investigation's results are what i suspect them to be. There's already a lot in that front the investigation has accomplished (Trump's campaign manager already in prison and so on), and more is to come. Interesting times.

Oh, and as The Shark told you, Obama will come to Finland soon, to give a talk on a business forum.


Finally, thanks for the Cheers - it's actually a 110 party: 50+50 for our ages, and +10 extra years for the length of our wedlock so far. If stars align correctly, we will actually hold the party on our anniversary day.

- Eki