Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Hope's Village of SLO: Mobile Showers



This page will serve as my depository for all things "Showers of Hope".

Others around the country with shower trailers

West Palm Beach, Florida
xxx

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

NATION: Trump Inauguration Thoughts

What Makes Trump an "Illegitimate" President: This is a serious issue, promoted by so many Americans, so let's take a look at the best case for Trump's illegitimacy, shall we? It was hard to find a serious article that Trump's election was illegitimate (most were just expressing extreme anger at his election), and thus, that impeachment proceedings should begin immediately. I settled on this article by leftist Michael Moore: 6 Reasons Trump is an illegitimate president.
Here are Moore's 6 reasons. We'll take a look at all of them - maybe Michael can change my mind?
1. Hillary had won the popular vote. 2. Trump is mentally unstable. 3. The Russian government interfered in the election. 4. The FBI interfered in the election. 5. Trump’s Secretary of State nominee, Rex Tillerson, would enrich himself. 6. Trump is a criminal.
1. Hillary had won the popular vote. Ummm. This one is easy - ever heard of the Electoral College (EC), as enshrined in the constitution? I'm a big believer in the EC for too many reasons to list - regardless of which party it happens to benefit. However, the biggest reason is that during the constitutional convention (a subject of many books that I have read), the smaller states were afraid of being steam-rolled by the bigger states - a legitimate concern. To this day, states have different interests - we're not one big blob, despite some who argue otherwise. The EC gives more weight to smaller states (just like in the Senate, and to a lesser degree, in the House), which seems reasonable to me. Without this granting of rights to smaller states, we may not have formed this "perfect union" and would not have a country at all. http://www.270towin.com/maps/2016-actual-electoral-map Even if you believe the EC is unfair, it is the law of the land until it is overturned, which will probably never happen.
Interesting Electoral College Comparison: the EC is kind of like how you keep score in the game of Basketball (stay with me here). Each time the basketball goes through the hoop, you get either 3, 2, or 1 point. Outside the 3 point line, you get 3 points; 2 points when it goes through while inside the 3 point line; 1 point for a free throw - those are the rules of the game. Replace "going through the hoop" with "one vote". Just like making a hoop depends on where you are on the court, the value of casting your vote depends on which state you are in. Basketball coaches use the variable point rules to plan their game strategies (think Golden State Warriors), same as presidential candidates when it comes to the Electoral College.
Precedent: Trump is the 5th incident of a candidate winning the EC but not the popular vote. Each time, the opposition claims "illegitimate". The claim holds no water, and never will, as long as we have fair judicial oversight of the election process.
2. Trump is mentally unstable. 
I spend a lot of time with mentally ill people - Trump is not one of them. I doubt there is a mental health professional that would find Trump mentally unstable and thus unfit for office. This one has no merit whatsoever.
3. The Russian government interfered in the election. 
This is perhaps my favorite reason - to rebut. Interestingly, U.S. has a long history of attempting to influence presidential elections in other countries – we've done so at least 81 times between 1946 and 2000, according to a database amassed by political scientist Dov Levin of Carnegie Mellon University. Apparently, we think its okay to do so - so when others do it to us, how loudly should we complain? Read more here.
Is this a reason to overturn the election? Recently, Obama famously tried to alter the democratic election of our ally in the middle east, Israel. Yes, Obama dislikes Netanyahu, and did much to make sure Benjamin Netanyahu did not prevail (yet he still did). Countries try to influence the outcome of the elections of other countries all the time. IMHO, that is grounds for overturning an election ONLY IF the candidate aided the foreign countries efforts to do so. No evidence, so far, that Trump aided Putin in publicizing the emails of the DNC on Wikileaks (saying kind things about Putin doesn't count). Interesting to note, however, that there is plenty of evidence that the DNC tried its best to trash the candidacy of Bernie Sanders; if Bernie was my candidate, I would be particularly angry about this one. The democrats don't seem upset about that - not even Bernie!
4. The FBI interfered in the election. 
You mean, the FBI headed by a person appointed by President Obama? Maybe Obama should have chosen more wisely? Does Obama dislike Hillary that much? I'll let you answer that one. First, Comey was a hero (Hillary is not a criminal), then he was a zero (we're still looking into it).
5. Trump’s Secretary of State nominee, Rex Tillerson, would enrich himself. 
You mean, the nominee for Secretary of State who has yet to be confirmed by the senate? This might not even happen, as Tillerson is the most likely of Trump's cabinet selections to NOT get appointed to Trump's cabinet. Maybe we can wait to see if Tillerson is confirmed? Even if he is, NBC reports that Tillerson is already worth $150 million - how much more enriching would he need? 
Plus, consider this: on a salary of $400k as President, the Obamas together (Barrack and Michelle) are exiting the White House worth an estimated $24 million - how could this be on a salary of $400k over 8 years - I'll do the math - 8 x $400,000 = $3.2 million (even if they didn't spend a penny). Maybe someone else more important than a cabinet member is enriching themselves excessively? Small wonder that Trump gained a lot of traction by claiming that he would "drain the swamp".
6. Trump is a criminal. 
The easiest left for last. This is a legal distinction. I think we would know it if Trump was a convicted criminal - being an "alleged" criminal doesn't count. Just like Hillary, Trump was not charged and convicted of a crime - the thing that would make him a criminal.
Conclusion: Done. That was too easy. I didn't find anything that would lead me to believe that Trump's presidency was illegitimate, and that he should be impeached. Your reasoning might differ.
Fascinating fact: Previously, the oldest elected president was Ronald Reagan, who took the oath of office at the age of 69 in 1981. Donald Trump is 70 years old. Interestingly, had Hillary Clinton won election, she'd have been our second-oldest president-elect at the age of 69. Of course, unlike countries like Japan and Korea, the US just does not respect the wisdom of our elders - we find respect in Silicon Valley-style youth, but not in the ancient amongst us.
Above: Valley of Fire petroglyph, Nevada. Bighorn Sheep.

Friday, December 23, 2016

NATION: You Do Realize They Are Human, Don't You?

Working Theory: I've stated many times that in my anecdotal experience, about half of our SLO population hates the homeless, and about half feel that we need to do more to help them. The high "hate" percentage has always confused me, because basic humanity calls for treating all people with a certain level of dignity, even those we don't like. For instance, the Israelis and America both give 100's of millions of dollars to the Palestinians every year, even though the Palestinians primary reason for living appears to be the killing of all Jews. So why so much hate for our homeless brothers and sisters? That is the topic of this article.

The Spanish Ruled our California Missions: I've been putting together a presentation on the California Missions for a local community service group on 2/3/2016. While thumbing through my extensive library on the California Mission System, I made the connection: the Spanish Conquistadores of New Spain in the 1500's, as well as the more recent Friars and Soldiers of our California Mission system in the late 1700's and early 1800's, both somehow saw Native Americans as less than human. In addition, a theory has been posited that in order to treat slaves in our early days of America so poorly, you had to see them as somehow less than human. 

Let's start with this book I just ordered from Amazon, called Less Than Human: The Psychology of Cruelty, which you can read about by clicking here

An excerpt from the book: In ancient Chinese, Egyptian and Mesopotamian literature, the author found repeated references to enemies as subhuman creatures. When people dehumanize others, they actually conceive of them as subhuman creatures. When the Nazis described Jews as Untermenschen, or subhumans, they didn't mean it metaphorically. They didn't mean they were like subhumans. They meant they were literally subhuman."
Above: Our stone age Indians crafted deadly arrowheads from obsidian, as in this beautiful example from California. What are our homeless capable of, if given the chance to be productive? At this rate, we'll never know.

Friday, December 16, 2016

HISTORY: Things you didn't know about our central coast missions - 2/3/2017 Presentation

I will be giving a presentation on the Central Coast Missions to a service group on February 3, 2017. I doubt that it is open to the public, but in case it is, I will post information about how you can attend. I will be collecting some of my concepts for the presentation on this web page, so check back often.

I have visited all 21 California missions, and have studied them all in detail over the years. It was an amazing and transformative time in California history - not necessarily for the better, either! I have never given a presentation on this topic, but that is a good thing. I don't like giving presentations that I have already done before - I like new subjects that allow me to pull together my resources in an area of interest such as this. Stay tuned...
Above: My most favorite mission of all - La Purisima! Why? It's fascinating history, and the fact that it is the most completely restored of the 21 missions. Research continues, as the site is among the least disturbed of the missions, thus allowing new facts to continue to reveal themselves. 

Speaker Biography: Tim Waag has a BS in Math and Computer Science from UCLA, and an MS in Math and an MBA from USC. He has been an adventurer and explorer since the time he could walk, and is a featured speaker at various historical societies across the state. He is an amateur archaeologist and is a member of the SLO County Archaeological Society, and works with various Native American tribes in a variety of social and cultural arenas. He is a trained archaeological site steward for several culturally sensitive sites around the state.


Featured Presentation: While we are all familiar with the California Mission system, there are many surprising facts that have been buried in history and mythology. For instance, Fact or Fiction: There were 21 California missions? Answer: Fiction. There were actually 48, founded between 1697 and 1834, with most located in what we now call “Baja" California. Tim will lead a lively discussion featuring little known facts about our central coast missions, focusing on San Antonio, San Miguel, San Luis Obispo, Santa Ines and La Purisima. While raising his 2 sons, Tim took them to visit all 21 “Alta” California missions, and along the way, was able to dive deep into their rich history.
Definitions. 
New Spain in the 1700's:  colonial territory of Spain in the new world north of the Isthmus of Panama

Truth or Myth? The Spanish created the mission system in order to convert the Native Americans to Christianty? False. During the 1760's, officials of New Spain heard rumors of Russian and British advances towards the west coast of North America - a territory that Spain considered to be "theirs". Though this rumor was totally and completely false, as a precaution, the Spanish crown ordered the colonization of "Alta" (or upper) California. "Baja" (or lower) California had already been colonized and missionized in the region of Mexico that we know today as Baja California. 


See the 2 maps above for the locations of the Alta and Baja California missions systems. Many believed that the mission system was forged in order to exploit gold and other resources in the area - also false. The Spanish had determined during previous colonization efforts in the 1500's that there was no gold or other resources of value in California. Oops! Of course, they got that wrong as well! Oh my. The new world, and especially Alta California, was a big place, and not much was actually known about it by the Spanish during their times of conquest.


Truth or Myth? The 21 California missions were spaced to be “one days ride apart”? False. This is a myth that seems to have been created by the AAA (Automobile Association of America) and perpetuated by our United States school systems, as well as, apparently, the Southern Pacifc Railroad. Interestingly, it’s veracity is actually up for debate for a variety of reasons discussed below. However, at the heart of the matter is the questions: were the mission locations determined primarily or exclusively by their distance between each of them? That claim is, almost without doubt, not true.


All one has to look at is haphazard order in which the missions were built, and the slow and weak funding mechanism from Spanish authorities for creating the missions. Just for fun, I took a look at the “modern driving distance” between the 21 California missions today, with some interesting results. From south to north, here are the distances between the missions today on modern roads, as measured by Google Maps (numbers are in miles): 41, 33, 61, 29, 61, 30, 32, 19, 60, 37, 41, 45, 45, 37, 36, 32, 16, 54, 19, 27. The average of these 20 distances is 38 miles. When using Google Maps, they give alternate routes and mileages. When given a choice of routes, I used the shortest distance and rounded up to the nearest mile. Two types of distance outliers are of interest: those that are much too long for a “day’s ride” and those that are much closer than average to each other.


Missions that are much longer than one days ride apart - distance in miles: 61, 61, 60, and 54. Let’s take a look at an example on our central coast of two well-known missions that are much more than one days ride apart at 60 miles. This 60-mile distance is from one of my favorite missions, La Purisima Conception (the 11th mission, founded in 1787), near Lompoc, to our very own Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa (the 5th mission, founded in 1772) in San Luis Obispo. 


In the late 1700's, there is no way you are riding a horse, driving a wagon, or walking on foot and to get from Lompoc to SLO in one day. My research has shown that a prudent horse and rider can cover 20 to 30 miles in a day, thus seemingly to eliminate the longer distances from “one days ride” contention. Modern endurance horse riders often cover more than 30 miles in a day, but horse mortality rates and negative impact on the horse's health increase significantly. It is unlikely that a horse owner in the mission era would risk permanent damage to their horse, just to get from one mission to another in such a short amount of time. Exceptions might be for trained horse and messenger teams of the era, who were prepared for just such tasks.




Asistencias and Estancias:  It would seem that one example alone would blow apart any conception of traveling between San Luis Obispo and La Purisima in a day. Research into whether there were interim facilities between La Purisima and SLO de Tolosa does not indicate that any known assistencias existed along that stretch of the “King’s Highway”. See link to a find web site on known asistencias associated with the California mission system.

Above (click to enlarge): Santa Margarita Asistencia, circa 1906 - author unknown.

Another interesting phenomen with regard to distance between the mission are the outliers that are much closer than the average of 38 miles. These distances in miles are: 19, 16, and 19 miles, respectively. These closer distances are worth investigating another time.


The Franciscan missions didn't start in San Diego. The first few we're already in place Baja California in the Sierra Gorda (today Queretaro state, Mexico) before Junipero Serra ever arrived from Spain. As he expanded the central Mexican churches, he built a series of missions stretching from Jalpan (today Jalpan de Serra) to the northwest, with each mission a days apart at walking speed. Junipero Serra was always known for walking. 


He was later transferred to the California missions, which already were established in Baja California before he arrived. They were spread out along the peninsula and travel between them was normally done by water. Mission San Diego (de Alcalá) was Serra's first new expansion to the already established Baja California missions. From there he moved further into Alta California, establishing the 21 missions in Spanish territory that we know today as "the California missions". 


During Spanish rule and expansion, any road built by Spanish forces (including the church) was known as a Camino Real (royal road). Official Spanish roads extended all across Mexico, including from Mexico City to Serra's nine original missions and on (overland) to California. The Camino Real from Baja California to San Francisco was just one of many Caminos Reales across Spanish territory. 



Works Cited:
Taylor, Alan. American Colonies - The Settling of North America. New York: Penguin Books, 2001.

Links Cited:

Monday, December 12, 2016

JUST FOR FUN! Catalina Crazy, 2016!

Above (click to enlarge): Aerial view of Catalina's Isthmus - also known as "Two Harbors". Isthmus Harbor is nearest to the viewer in the photo, and Catalina Harbor, a favorite deep harbor for Spanish Explorers in the 1500's and 1600's is facing away from the viewer.

This walk through California's most amazing water wonderland, Catalina, is dedicated to David Blackford, El Segundo High Class of 1977 (of which I am also a member). Go Eagles!

Above (click to enlarge): our trusty boat, "Turn Key". Anchored on the reef off of Parsons Landing near the West End of Catalina. She's a 1998 26 foot Seaswirl Striper with 325hp Fuel Injected gas V-8 stern drive, packing 132 gallons of fuel, and sleeping for 3 below deck and 2 up on deck. Featuring radar, 2 depth finders, 2 vhf radios, auto pilot (when it works!) and 1 Raymarine Chartplotter Shuttling her owners all over California since 2012.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

NATION: Illegal Immigrants Fear Deportation Under Trump?

Disclaimer: I am neither a Hillary nor a Donald fan. Like most folks, I'm not thrilled with either. I'm an issue guy, and this is (yet another) issue-based, not partisan-based, discussion. Like all politicians, Trump makes a lot of promises, not all of which he will keep. Like Obama, let's wait him out and see what he does. How'd Barack do on closing Gitmo? Keeping your health plan if you like it? Etc. If you showed patience for Obama, how about extending it to Trump (or to Hillary if she were to have been elected).

Begin Commentary: Why didn't illegal aliens fear deportation under President Obama? (Answer: They did!). During Obama's nearly 8 years in office, he deported many more illegal aliens than any other president before him. You can read about it on ABC News by clicking here. Sadly, our media propagates this fear of deportation without regard to the facts. Uneducated illegals apparently believe everything they hear on TV and take it as gospel. Sad.

8 years (almost) of President Obama: 2,500,000 illegals deported.
8 full years under President Bush: 2,000,000 illegals deported.
Fully 25% more illegals deported under President Obama, and during a time when the US economy was unfavorable to low income illegals coming across the border. So many, in fact, that many immigration groups refer to him as the "Deporter in Chief". 

Just one quote from the above artcle:

"Based on statements so far, Trump's plan to remove the undocumented immigrants who have committed crimes is similar to what President Obama declared in 2014."
Above: Rick and Chris had a Haunted House in El Segundo again this year. During a break, I took this "Mad Monk" selfie with some kids in line. Blog photos are more interesting with photos. 

I find it hard to deal with all the misinformation put out there by those who know better. Apparently, their intention is to upset (and bring to tears) illegal aliens in our country, and turning them towards their political side. How about some facts?

What will Trump do in regard to deportations? Probably about the same as Obama. So let's wait and see, and not get prematurely upset, shall we?

E-Verify: Hopefully, the Trump administration gets the E-Verify system working correctly (another epic government failure) so that employers have a way to figure out if an employee can work here legally. There have been serious problems all along with E-Verify, as you can read by clicking here.

Here's a quote from the article:

"E-Verify’s accuracy problems mean that Americans are and will continue to be barred from work due to false positives.  Roughly 0.15 percent of all E-Verify queries result in a false “final non-confirmation.”  While that is an admittedly small percentage, if applied nationwide to an American labor pool of roughly 125 million workers, it would result in 187,500 wrongly issued FNCs to American workers each year. "

Saturday, November 5, 2016

NATION: Private Unions Good - Public Unions Bad

*****UPDATE: 11/5/2016
I am in favor of unions (under certain circumstances), such as when they are used to correct unfair work conditions and pay, and to deter illegal discrimination. However, public employee unions are a conflict of interest. Union members support politicians with their member donations, and the politicians, in turn, give out generous benefits (too generous to afford, in the case of California!) to the union members in exchange for their politicking and donations. Simple quid pro quo
Above: blog posts are boring without photos. "Abnormal Activity" Haunted House, 2016, El Segundo, Calif. Click to enlarge. Scene from the 1973 movie, "The Exorcist".

The government does not oppress it's workers - just the opposite. It coddles them, then pays them more than private sector workers (when you add up the lifetime pay AND benefits). I'm not saying that public workers don't perform necessary services - indeed, they often perform them well - I'm saying that public taxpayer-funded unions are unnecessary, based on the traditional union role to right the wrongs inflicted on the workers. With a government job (even more so with a government UNION job) you are in for life, you can never get thrown out, unless you do, as Donald Trump famously stated, "stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody".