What Is Remodernism?

Much modern art is not appealing to me, because it is harsh, tacky, uninspired, uninspiring, or devoid of skill. Some is unintentionally funny, but I am generally unwilling to pay to see it. I hate paying for it, especially when a taxpayer-funded monstrosity is plopped into previously pleasant public areas.

Brutalist architecture can be interesting in a masochistic way. Websites and photo streams of architectural malpractice can be engrossing, but I pity those who live in or among the structures that will blight the humans' existence. Frank Gehry's shiny angular eyesores are a prime example.

This Remodernist piece is thus something I could perhaps be down with, were I more engaged in philosophies of art.

Communist China

I have typically had very favorable encounters with Chinese of all kinds: Chinese-Americans who fled Communism; Taiwanese and Mainland students in the US and Japan; ethnic Chinese from Singapore and Thailand, or met in Indonesia; Chinese of all sorts met when I lived in Japan. China's economic growth has been fantastic and pulled many people up and out of poverty. That said, Communist China sucks.

Communist China has been attempting to violate its agreement with the United Kingdom on the return of Hong Kong, the agreement to protect autonomy for Hong Kong. Communist China is trying to crush Hong Kong's democratic and capitalist system, crush its success, and crush its populace. It has begun killing freedom protesters, a foregone conclusion.

Communist China claims to protect its ethnic minorities, but it systematically oppresses and incarcerates on a massive scale its Uighurs, a Turkic Muslim minority. Vice President Mike Pence has spoken out against this, but few others seem to care, Turkey's strongman excluded.

Communist China invaded Tibet and exiled the Dalai Lama. Ever threatened by a possible competitor to its power, it feted a ChiCom-approved puppet impostor. It also has a state-sponsored Patriotic Catholic Church to thwart papal influence.

Communist China continues patrolling and building in disputed waters and on disputed islands; it intrudes on the waters and skies of Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, the Philippines, and others. Communist China persists in intimidating and squeezing Taiwan, the Republic of China. Whenever Communist China finally feels able to invade Taiwan, the carnage will be awful.

Communist China turns out quality products, but plenty of shoddy stuff. Foodstuffs are often unfit for human consumption and sometimes fatal to animals.

Communist China requires that foreign firms allow access to Chinese nationals, government operatives, and outright spies and competitors in ways no other country does. Amazingly, many foreign firms have been happy to turn over their hard-won technologies and trade secrets with nary a complaint.

Communist China has been oppressing the Falun Gong religious group for years.

Communist China reportedly harvests organs from the incarcerated, sometimes while they are still alive.

Communist China tracks everything it can to control its population. Its Social Credit system is dystopian, but plenty of foreign companies and governments are abetting it.

Communism sucks terribly, and so does Communist China.

Nodal Ninja Panographic Tools

At the end of last month, the lone direct store and supplier of Fanotec products, including Nodal Ninja panoheads, closed in Chandler, Arizona. They sold other companies' products for people interested in virtual reality photography, of panoramas where the viewer rotates the object around self and of objects where the viewer rotates an object. Years ago, the former was a hobby of mine. With their closeout sale, I bought a new Nodal Ninja 6 panohead, but I have yet to shoot anything. I also have a newer digital SLR with much better resolution than my old Rebel XT.

Not too many weeks ago I bought some panorama software updates. There is a re-learning curve, and the loss of Photoshop, since I cannot justify the subscription fees, means a bit of effort to learn enough for a new graphic editor, be it GIMP or something else that can handle layers and masking. Maybe it is time to get a drawing tablet, too.

That I have not shot any panoramas in a long time will soon change, so please stay tuned!

Visit to Tumacácori National Historical Park

Today I drove down to Tumacácori, a Spanish mission founded by the Italian-born Father Kino, a remarkable Jesuit combining religious zeal, scientific interest, compassion, and courage. He founded this mission at a village of the local O'odham people, who had begged the Jesuits come help them, apparently mainly to introduce agricultural advancements.

Spain replaced all the Jesuits with Franciscans, which unsettled whatever order the Jesuits has established. The mission was under constant threat of Apache attacks, there were internal cultural clashes, and mission was under constant strain. After Mexican Independence, the Spanish were booted in 1828, but the mission kept going. In 1848, the Tumacácori mission, its church tower never finished, was abandoned for San Xavier del Bac. The abandoned mission slowly decayed, helped along by vandals carving their names, including John J. Pershing.

Today there is a nice museum, a very pleasant small garden, the incomplete church, mission ruins, an orchard, plenty of trees, and paths, including one to the Santa Cruz River, which provides water year-round. One of the booklets notes that the placename Arizona is a Basque phrase meaning "the good oak tree", thanks to a Spanish soldier who was a Basque.

It was a very pleasant couple of hours! I look forward to another visit.

Grocery Item Deathwatch

My local grocery store tends to quit selling products my wife and I like. We occasionally ask the store employees about this pattern, and they say the disappearance of even popular items is noted by both employees and customers alike. Here is our growing disappearance list:

  1. Marie Callender's Key Lime Pie: This disappeared from our grocery store for almost a year. The next closest grocery is a Safeway, which continued to sell it. Some weeks after complaining to a store manager, this item returned.
  1. Private Selection Black Bean and Corn Salsa: This delicious salsa was a slo-mo disappearance. It would disappear from the shelves, then return in a few weeks, but always in ever smaller quantities. In its stead appeared a new similar product with a name like Black Bean and Corn Salsa with Smoky Taste, which I bought by mistake, to my regret, as it was strongly reminiscent of bile. Since Private Selection is Kroger's own brand, I wrote them a letter, which yielded a
  1. Tillamook Cinnamon Horchata ice cream: The best ice cream we have ever eaten, such that I wrote the company a letter praising the flavor and asking that they make sure to keep selling it; the next week it was gone and my step-brother encountered a Tillamook stocker who said the company had terminated that flavor.
  1. Lundgren Butternut Squash Risotto: This tasty risotto is still sold by Lundgren's, but no longer stocked at our grocery.
  2. El Mexicano yogurt drinks, individual: These have been sold out and had their shelf size reduced, which suggests they are trending toward deletion. Our grocery never stocked the piña colada; our Walmart primarily stocks the piña colada and the strawberry, with occasional mango, so we'll buy them there.

Some Brazilian Portuguese Expressions

"A gasolina estava batizada," literally "The gasoline was baptized," meaning the gas was illegally diluted with water. An amusing expression from a very Catholic country.

"A mão de vaca," literally "the cow's hoof," meaning a cheapskate whose hand holds money tight, that never opens. Maybe an expression from the Northeast.

"Não há para onde correr," literally "there's nowhere to run," which means there is no other way to do something.

Two Brazilian Movies

Three weeks back I watched Elite Troop, the English title for Tropa de Elite, about BOPE, the special forces of Rio de Janeiro. It is a disturbing movie on many levels: violent crime, extrajudicial killings, pervasive corruption, citizens abused by both gangs and BOPE. Yet it is also quite interesting for many of those same points. My Brazilian friend had recommended it to me, but only recently did it show up on Amazon Prime.

Two weeks back I watched The Second Mother, which is Que Horas Ela Volta? A mother from the poor Northeast, a Nordestina, who is in fact from Pernambuco State, is a live-in maid for a wealthy São Paulo family. The arrival of the maid's daughter, however, causes various problems that reflect the employer-employee, old vs new generations, and notable Brazilian demographics. The daughter is a bit annoying, but the mother who has lived apart from her for over a decade, sending money back the whole time, ultimately chooses her own daughter over the security of her maid position.