If only some other country built a Great Wall

Then we’d know how it works out


Still waiting on news with Alison so I thought I’d write yet another political post, which I have rarely done in the past but these are different times.

All this talk about a wall reminds me of something I told you years ago that I’ll retell now.

For thousands of years, China was invaded by the north by:

  • The Xiongnu (aka Attila the Hun) between 133 BC to 89 AD.
  • The Jurchen between 960–1279AD, and they won (!) ruling China for over a century.
  • The Manchus, who invaded from the north and controlled China for over three centuries, 1644 to 1912.

It goes on.

In any case, some bright-eyed fella hit on the idea to build a wall. And for the next 1,800 years, they did just that at the cost of $13 billion to $65 billion. Finishing it at 13,170 miles, which is over five times the distance from NYC to LA.

When it was done, they kept an eye on that wall.

Then in 1839, the Opium Wars started – in the south – by a buncha white dudes. It never entered China’s imagination that (a) white dudes from (b) the south might try to invade. Cause it never happened before.

And guess what, they had no significant army, no significant navy, and no firepower of any consequence for the task to come. Because when you spend all your scratch on something to fix yesterday’s problem, when tomorrow’s problem comes, you’re in a lotta trouble.

The builders of the wall never had the imagination to think they could be invaded from anywhere but the north, and the arrogance to think that if they couldn’t imagine it, no one else could.

China paid for their myopia: Once the new invaders came, they sliced the country up into a buncha little colonies that only started to be sorted out a hundred years  – and millions of dead Chinese – later, with WWII, the Korean War, the Vietnam war, and whatever this insanity is with North Korea.

It’s still being sorted out as China pushes into the South China Sea.

My point is that China trained itself to respond to yesterday’s threat with yesterday’s technology, blowing out its funds while doing it.

A great wall was easily defeated in 1839. 178 years later, a fool is going to try the same thing again, expecting a different result.

 

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Button, Button

Our experience on Obamacare


When I was a kid in the 80s, they brought back The Twilight Zone.

One of the stories, called Button, Button, taught me a valuable lesson about empathy; so much so that it stayed with me for some 30 years.

It was about a couple that was given a box by a stranger. On the box was a button. If they pressed the button, they’d get $200,000 but someone – whom they didn’t know – would die.

After a lotta struggle, the wife ultimately pushes the button. The next day, the stranger returns, gives them $200,000 and takes the box back.

When they ask what happens next, the stranger says that he’ll give the box, and the same offer, to someone else – someone that they don’t know.

No one’s asked me but I’m sure people are wondering: “What are you doing with all the money you’ve raised?” It’s only fair I answer it.

Originally, we weren’t sure how much our original insurance was going to pay towards Alison’s treatment. Her cancer was on the aggressive side of aggressive. The only “lucky” thing about our situation was that we were already on the platinum level of Obamacare, which essentially meant that we pay 10% and insurance pays 90%.

It has been a godsend to us. At last count, Alison’s 2016 cost of care was around $2.8 million dollars. Without the Affordable Care Act, Nathan and I would be bankrupt and Alison would be dead. It’s that simple.

But we’re not and she’s not, thanks to the ACA and everyone’s generosity.

With what’s left of our money, we’re paying for normal expenses – mortgage, food, bills – some experimental drugs, physical and occupational therapy, and exploring future options, like a potential cancer vaccine in Germany.

Mainly, though, we’re saving up to see what happens with the ACA. So we’re watching the news daily to see what unfolds.

Lately, I’ve been reading a lot about #Trump Regrets and how so many people are regretting voting for Trump because they realize that things like their meals and lives are jeopardy.

Yet, it’s hard for me to feel very sorry for them.

It’s like the box. They knew someone would suffer. That someone – like Alison – might die. And they were ok with that, until they realized that the person that would die might be them.

Her: What will they do if they lose their insurance?
Me: They’ll die the same way they lived: Never knowing that when you save someone else, you save yourself. It’s a shame for a million reasons.

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Location: about to start some more PT
Mood: fighting the schadenfreude
Music: Give my love to the future of the humankind
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It’s good to be wrong

Our lives are not a football game

Eagle Statue in Riverside Park, NYC, UWS

I didn’t vote for Obama. I felt he didn’t have enough leadership, management, or business experience to run the country.

Having said that, two terms in:

  • Unemployment is at 5.9%, versus 7.8% when he first took office.
  • Both wars have significantly drawn down.
  • The markets are significantly up – the S&P is up 126%.
  • Gas prices are just over $2 a gallon here.
  • We have nationwide healthcare, based on a Republican plan, for the first time.

I was wrong. Obama has been a pretty good president – his foreign policy, or lack thereof, notwithstanding.

I think that most people don’t actually understand politics, economics, or history. But they want to look like they have some deep-seated knowledge.

So they imitate one side or another – like when you’re a kid and become a genre of a person – and have a team. The same way they root for a football team. And they are incensed when their side loses.

But we are the side. If the country is doing well, that means we’re doing well, irrespective of the team.

I’m glad I’m wrong because it wasn’t, he would have been a terrible president and our situation as a whole would be much, much worse. Instead, my investments are going up, my family has health insurance, and we can take the whip for a spin without breaking the bank.

The world would be vastly different if people could say, I was wrong, that’s a good thing.

Those that don’t look at it as a negative mark against their intellect rather than a positive mark for their character.

Eagle Statue in Riverside Park, NYC, UWS

Above is a chart from the non-partisan Factcheck.org.

Location: home, waiting for an appraiser
Mood: better
Music: seen sunny days that I thought would never end.
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We love death more than you love life

At the very least, they’re honest about that

Polished concrete floor

A few years back, had to replace a large section of floor and was given a number of options like ceramic tile, wood, etc.

One guy suggested stained polished concrete, which we chose because of its versatility.

The guy that installed it said that he worked with concrete because it’s one of the oldest, strongest, more durable construction materials out there.

We stained it a leather brown, polished it to high gloss, and sealed it with wax. Everyone that comes by always asks about it.

It cost me about half of what it would have cost to put in anything else because, while the labor costs were the same or more (for the specialized knowledge), the raw material is just so cheap.

60 pounds of concrete costs $3.00 here in Manhattan. Three dollars.

And everything’s more expensive in Manhattan.

Recently, I’ve had a number of heated discussions with well-meaning but staggeringly ill-informed people regarding the current Israel/Gaza strife and lately, I’ve just been asking one question:

Where are the bomb shelters in Gaza?

There are at least 30 tunnels – at a cost of $30 million and  at least 1,780 rockets (all fired). Where are the bomb shelters?

There answer is that there are none. There is nothing to protect the people of Gaza by the ersatz government of Gaza because that’s not how Hamas sees the role of government.

But no one says it better than Hamas themselves:

We are a people that love death for the sake of Allah as much as our enemies love life.

That is their slogan. Their motto. Their trademark.

And the trademark lawyer in me cynically thinks, “Well, at the very least, they’re honest about that.”

Location: the interstate
Mood: cynical
Music: A spray of stars hit the screen As the 10th impact shimmered
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What the hell is going on with the Republican Party?

Why would you want something you didn’t earn?


We had a mouse in the house recently. Spent the better part of the weekend hunting it down with nothing to show for it – well, that’s not entirely true, the place is spotless.

Now that I got the green light from the doc to wrassle again, been easing back into it.

The ranking system of my school is: White, Blue, Purple, Brown, and Black. After some five years of doing it – on and off because of work and injury – I’m still only a white belt. It is what it is.

Here’s the thing: I’ve spent in excess of $3,000 to be a white belt. That’s not counting the $3,500 for surgery and rehab.

I could simply go buy a black belt for $22.95. It’d be here in less than 24 hours and I’d get to skip over the additional 12 years it takes to earn one.

But that’s not really the point is it?

Things are only as valuable as the meaning we put behind it. After all, what’s the difference between a $100 bill and a scrap a paper if not the meaning we put behind it?

For those of you that’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know I’m either a liberal conservative or a conservative liberal.

Having said that, this whole government shutdown nonsense has been bothering me precisely because it seems that the Republican party wants the trappings of achievement without having earned it.

The law was passed. The Supreme Court upheld it. The Republican party lost this round.

And yet, here we are.

In other words, they didn’t earn their black belt, but they’re not above trying to simply buy one.

It’s more than disingenuous, more than underhanded.

It’s embarrassing.

It’s embarrassing to throw a tantrum after losing. It’s embarrassing to screw everyone else because it didn’t go your way. It’s embarrassing that because you didn’t win, everyone else must lose.

I’d be just as embarrassed if I walked in the door tomorrow with a shiny $22.95 black belt.

There’s no shame in losing. There’s shame in trying to take something you didn’t earn.

Even some deeply loyal Republicans are seeing this.

It cannot possibly be a good thing that embarrassment – not pride, not satisfaction, not admiration – is what people once loyal to the party of Reagan and the end of the Cold War, the party of Lincoln and the anti-slavery movement, now feel.

Why would you want this for the party?

And why would you want something you didn’t earn?

Location: at the rents
Mood: embarrassed
Music: We don’t wanna leave, no. We just wanna be right now
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Flip-flopping is a marketing term

Making informed decisions based upon new information is not a bad thing

While I’m glad that Obama won the election, I’m tired to hearing that Romney was/is a flip-flopper. I disliked his disengenous changing of positions, but the term flip-flopping is a nonsense marketing word like pink slime to push an agenda. It’s the difference between insect-vomit and honey.

George W. Bush refused to change his stance on anything, despite all evidence to the contrary. This is a summarily bad thing.

Thought of this because my friend Alexandra recently sent me this article and it, in turn, made me think of Fujifilm and Kodak.

For those of you too young to know, the two were bitter, bitter rivals in the photo film market. When the world went digital, Fuji saw the writing on the wall and – despite film still being very popular at that time – took a hit early to develop new technologies.

Kodak did not, instead staying the course despite all evidence to the contrary, trying to squeeze every penny from their dying business model.

As of yesterday, Kodak is trying to reinvent itself by selling its only asset, its patent portfolio.

Fuji, meanwhile, changed course and came up with products like the astoundingly advanced Fuji F1, which is potentially a game-changing, stylish camera.

Let me mention that I met Alexandra at my wrasslin class.

A decade ago, I took Judo with this instructor that thought very little of the now popular jiujitsu. Instead, he taught us very traditional judo.

My current jiujitsu coach is the exact opposite, not only teaching us very modern moves, but inventing some of his own, such as the Rat Guard, which I use and love.

He and I talk about that old Judo instructor from time to time.

The funny thing is: they’re both the same person.

He saw the world was changing and changed with it. One of his students is one of the top-ranked fighters in the city, precisely because he saw the direction of the world.

Change is inevitable. The ones that survive and flourish are the ones that change.

Me: You know that thing that I do that annoys you?
Her: You’re going to have to be a lot more specific than that.

The wife is blogging a lot more, which – because it’s a food blog – involves me stuffing my face a lot more as well. She just made a vat of Sage and Brown Butter popcorn so I’ve been eating that non-stop.

Her blog is doing better than mine. I cannot have this.

Must sabotage while still getting the benefit of food.

———-

The article Alexendra sent me, BTW, is about traditional book publishing. I think it’s dying because the world is changing how it consumes books.

Speaking of consuming books…

The Men Made of Stone - Logan Lo
Location: getting ready for meetings, lots of them
Mood: sore
Music: makes it so hard to stay But nothing lasts forever
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Render unto Caesar

The Republican Party at a Crossroads

One of the three passages from the Bible that I quote most often is Matthew 22:21, which goes: Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s.

Jesus said this after being asked by his enemies if the Jews should pay taxes:

  • If he answered Yes, they could brand him a sellout to the Roman occupation.
  • If he answered No, they could report him to the Romans as a subversive.

He sidestepped the question entirely by saying the above.

Which brings me to last night’s vote. In all of these years of posting, I don’t think I’ve ever told you what political party I adhere to.

Growing up in the Reagan years, I’ve traditionally been a Republican and then, more recently, an Independent.

Like the Republicans, I want smaller government, less wasteful spending, and tighter reins on government programs.

But their social bent makes it difficult to see myself aligning with them in the near future, or ever again for that matter: The jaw-droppingly misplaced views on women’s rights, the virulent anti-immigration bent, and (most annoying to me as a practicing Christian that has actually read the Bible) the pseudo-Christianity.

My friends think I’ve moved left. I’ve not.

With the exception of certain items, my views have been fairly consistent through the years. It’s the political landscape that’s moved right. Even Obama, with the healthcare reform – a traditionally Republican ideal spearheaded by Nixon – his aggressive hunt for Bin Laden, and his extensive use of drone strikes, is far more right than I would have expected.

Unfortunately, the right has moved ever more right as well, particularly socially. To the point that my vote is not wanted, even though it is needed. The same goes for the Hispanic and female vote, which were deciding factors in this last election.

So now the party has a choice: Continue to alienate the fiscally conservative but socially moderate voters like myself or tack back to the middle where compromise is a virtue not a vice.

Romney won more white male votes than any candidate ever – 6 out of 10 white males voted for him. And yet that was not enough.

Moreover, it will never again be enough.

So back to the Bible quote.

Papers are noting that the party is at a crossroads: continue to cling to this ridiculously intolerant RHINO Tea-Party view and become completely irrelevant OR see the world as it is.

My suggestion is to crack open the Bible and give that quote a re-read: Give unto Caesar (the government) what the government requires for you to survive and unto your own beliefs what you need to make it through your day.

The two are separate and should always remain separate. If God is god, he is god without needing a seat on Pennsylvania Avenue. If He’s not, the problem’s moot.

And here’s the main thing: Even the big guy Himself said that.

Explicitly.

Finally, when my breakup happened years ago, the only thing I knew clearly in my haze of insomnia and sadness was this: I do not want someone that does not want me.

Every time I thought of calling or writing her, that sentence stopped me. And now I’m happier for it we’re both happier for it.

Put another way, you don’t want me? Fine. I’m going to take my ball and go home.

God bless and protect the man and the office. Le Roi est mort, vive le Roi…

 

Location: going to the office for the first time in a while
Mood: conflicted
Music: Why am I the one always packing all my stuff?
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Saying things give them life

Have you left no sense of decency?

A strange bag of junk - or dog poop - tied to an awning in NYC

Before Tom Hanks was a major star, he was in this film called Splash where Daryl Hannah’s character picked the name “Madison” off a street sign because she didn’t know any better.

As of 2012, it’s the 4th most popular name for girls in America.

And then there was recently this fake news article by the Onion that the official Iranian news agency essentially copied and put up as true.

Finally, in the story of creation in both the bible and Greek mythology, a higher power – God in the former, Prometheus (or Athena) in the latter – takes clay and literally breathes onto them to give them life.

There’s something about words that live independently of ourselves. These throwaway things we say and do continue on without us.

Do you remember the pink slime thing I wrote a few months ago? As I thought, the price of beef is dramatically higher now. Another fake news story with very real world implications.

I’m much more careful about the stuff I put out into the aether cause I know that words put out into the world manage to take a life on their own. Even if we just want things to be hot breath and lies.

Write this because, as the political season heightens, I’m finding my online world being filled with more and more with things that are completely untrue – on both sides of the fence.

And I wonder if anyone feels at all even slightly bad about doing whatever it takes to win.

Cause what really is winning if we’re left with ridiculous names, high beef prices, and lies as truth.

What kinda prize is that?

Joseph N. Welch: Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?

Location: still home with a bum leg
Mood: (really) slothful
Music: I’ll settle for one day to believe in you
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An Open Letter to Christine Quinn Regarding Chick-fil-A

New York City from Hoboken

Dear Speaker Quinn;

First of all, congratulations on your recent nuptials! Having just been married myself, I was told that my life would be the same but completely different afterward. I find that to be true.

However, I write this letter to discuss something less pleasant – which is this whole Chick-fil-A matter. Frankly, I don’t like where it’s going politically.

Specifically, you recently sent a letter to the NYU President, which you wrote on government stationary and opened with the words: “I write as the Speaker of the NYC Council.” In that letter you asked the President to break a legal agreement NYU signed with a corporation who’s view you term “repugnant.”

This comes on the heels of similar letters by the mayors of Boston, Chicago and San Francisco that have threatened to treat Chick-fil-A differently than any other person and organization for no other reason than that you find them “repugnant.”

While I too find them repugnant, as a citizen – and a minority – I also find this all even more unsettling.

A while back, I wrote about this judge 100 years ago named Stephen Johnson Field that hated the Chinese. Absolutely hated them. While sitting on the bench, he was called to judge the constitutionality of the Pigtail Ordinance. Without getting into the specifics of the law, suffice it to say that it was meant to make life hell for a group of people he personally despised.

In other words, he found us repugnant.

I’ve always found this odd because we’re a lovely people but that’s neither here nor there.

In any case, everyone expected him to uphold the law precisely because they knew his personal opinion. He did not. Instead, he struck down the law as unconstitutional.

His reason was simple: As much as he hated the Chinese, he respected the letter of the law more.

His office trumped his personal opinions.

A more recent example is the so-called Ground Zero Mosque. You stood with Mayor Bloomberg when he said that cancellation of the mosque would be a “sad day.” I assume because, in that instance, the party singled out you felt personal sympathy with AND it was on the right side of the law.

Here, you don’t feel personal sympathy with Chick-fil-A yet, like the mosque, it is on the right side of the law.

In both examples, the law is clear: An organization cannot be discriminated against because of its beliefs.

Speaker Quinn, integrity means that one is the same person in public as one is in private. It requires consistency.

It demands that if you defend the constitution for a white person you must defend the constitution for a Chinese person.

The judge in the Pigtail Ordinance, while racist, had integrity. 100 years later, that means something.

I humbly submit that you’re letting your personal feelings interfere with your respect for the law. It’s easy to defend the defenseless and sympathetic; it’s harder to defend those that you personally find repugnant.

  • The law allows a mosque to rent a space without concern that the government does not like its opinions.
  • The law allows a corporation to rent a space without concern that the government does not like its  opinions.

As a life-long New Yorker, I admit had conflicted feelings about having a mosque so close to where 9/11 happened. But in the end, the law is the law. And in the end, I supported it being there.

I would not want someone saying that I cannot live someplace because I am a Christian, or Chinese-American, or terribly clumsy.

I support citizens boycotting Chick-fil-A. I support citizens marching. I support citizens ripping them to shreds online.

But I draw the line at government telling us that its opinions supersede the law.

It’s dangerous when government officials use their positions of power to further their own personal agendas. To think otherwise sets a dangerous precedent.

History has shown, time-and-time again, that a world ruled by someone’s personal opinion is not a safe place for Chinese, gay, black, Jewish, Muslim, disabled people to live.

Imagine a world where Michele Bachmann’s personal opinion ruled it.

We put up with opinions that are different than ours – even repugnant to us – because it’s what we do. The word is “tolerance.”

One doesn’t tolerate things, people, and opinions one finds lovely. One tolerates things, people, and opinions one finds repugnant. It’s what we do.

Sincerely,

Logan Lo

Location: in front of my first cuppa joe for the day
Mood: curious
Music: if everybody looked the same we’d get tired of looking at each other
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Election day 2010

Intercom system with graffiti in NYC

Her: You’re the first person that’s sent me flowers in…I don’t know how long.

Bought flowers for that client and colleague that sent me the five gigs I’m working on. It’s nice to get get something at home that’s not a bill or an ad.

Voted yesterday – at the same place I’ve been voting in the past decade or so. Thought about that while walking away from the polling station cause they’re using these new  digital ballots; things keep changing but staying the same.

Although, gotta say that I’m voting in ways I never thought I would. But that’s for another time.

Monday was interesting in that I got stuck on the train for like an hour. It was hot as hell with a huge dude who kept falling asleep on me. Finally gave up and took a different route home to see the rents. Had me some genuine home-cooking so it was worth the bother.

Went to my usual place to get a haircut before heading back. Did I ever tell you that I get my haircut in an illegal gambling den? It’s true; in the front’re two hair stylists while in the back’re guys yelling as they play mahjongg. I remember this one time I was using Fhats Casino – and literally the same situation occurred. Always slightly worried someone’s gonna whip out a pistol while I’m getting a trim but my guy knows how to cut my hair so y’risk getting shot for a good doo. Plus I like the old school gambler’s den vibe over the modern online slots for real money scene, any day.

Stopped by the law firm for a sec; forgot that I was in my street clothes – a red leather jacket, blue jeans, and keffiyeh. S’funny how we dress so differently for work and life, sometimes.

When I made it back home, HG just came back all tan from the Caribbean too along with some new aged rum. Had just stepped outta the shower when I opened the door for her.

Her: Hey.
Me: Hey. I’m glad you’re back.

Location: yest., throwing punches in the 70s
Mood: hungry
Music: the sun is in the east rising for the beasts
YASYCTAI: Send someone flowers. (10 mins/1 pt)
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