Hope Strikes Back

Hillary Clinton lost the Electoral College and thereby the Presidency. There are no two ways about it. There are attempts currently underway by the third candidate to ask for a recount Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan [1] but that’s not going to change the result. However, on the popular vote front, votes are still being counted and 18 states are still pending to be certified including California, New York, Maryland, New Jersey, etc. On this measure, Hillary Clinton is leading right now by 2.7 million votes i.e. by 2 percentage points.

Some say that this is a useless exercise since the outcome may have been different due to changed strategies had popular vote been the measure [2] But I disagree.

I find solace in this measure not as a way to countermand the result but simply as a barometer of popular opinion. Days after the election, I was depressed primarily because I thought this country as a whole had decided that progressive policies of the past were no longer welcome including immigrants such as myself. This measure gives me hope that the majority of the country doesn’t think so. Even the margin in those three Rust Belt swing states has been steadily falling and at last count, is fewer than 80,000 votes out of more than 13 million votes. The margin in each of those states was fewer than 1 percentage point with the lowest in Michigan at 0.2 percentage point or just under 10,000 votes.

Just imagine, a marginal shift of those 80,000 votes and we would now be talking about how those racist bigoted working class whites were finally rebuked and cast into the darkness of history. Nearly 600,000 people in those states cast their votes for the third party so clearly they weren’t voting for Trump. So even in those woebegone Rust Belt states, most people did not vote for Trump and his racist bigoted policies. The ‘First Past the Post’ system simply helped him claim victory. That’s fine and we’ll have to live through the consequences of his victory this may be the extent of the GOP victory even while being blatant racist. If that’s the only way you can get those people to turn out and the margin was a measly 80K votes in states with a combined population of nearly 28 million people, there may still be hope. You just have to wait four more years and wish the world isn’t destroyed beyond repair by then.

As far as enthusiasm for Obama in 2012 vs. Clinton for 2016 goes:

Footnotes:
  1. I hope this blatant ruse to grift from grief-stricken and panicked Democrats doesn’t go far. []
  2. Critics claim that we don’t know what the outcome may have been but given the voter trends and regions where people live and the current margin of victory, chances are that Democrats would still get more votes. In the last seven presidential elections, Republicans have won the popular vote only once but the Presidency three times.

    People often don’t vote because they’re disillusioned that their vote doesn’t matter. They may be Democrats in deeply red states or Republicans in deeply blue states. In large red states with growing populations (TX, GA, and AZ), Democrats gained votes; even to the extent of 7 percentage points in Texas.

    Also, if popular vote was a measure then the concept of protest vote diminishes and third-party vote share would fall. You would effectively voting against a candidate. []

Betraying LBJ

I’ve lived in three cities in the U.S.; all three have been home to a Presidential Library. I still regret not visiting the Carter Center in Atlanta during my five-year-stay there but I did take plenty of visitors to the Bush (senior) Library in College Station. So finally after living in Austin for three years, I visited the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library on the University of Texas campus. It’s an impressive monolithic structure featuring a cavernous atrium within, adjacent to the Public Affairs school with its name. The library, like any other, features the work and life of Lyndon B. Johnson, the 36th President of the United States. LBJ, as he was known, was a Texan native and grew up not too far from Austin in Johnson City.

LBJ Pens for Legislation

As soon as you enter the Library, you see a row of pens corresponding to the legislation it was used to sign it into law. That sight sets the tone and impact of his presidency featured extensively in the displays at the library. The amount of progressive legislation signed into law in just 5 years was enormous and continues to shape our lives to this day. Check out the following legislation he moved through Congress:

LBJ Legislative Achievements

Look at that list and think about the impact it has had on your life. I can literally trace my presence in this country (and to be writing this post) all the way to the Immigration Act of 1965 and it wasn’t even his signature legislation. Other progressive landmarks included Civil Rights Act, Voting Rights Act, Medicare, Medicaid, Public Broadcasting (NPR & PBS), the Clean Air and Clean Water Act, and plenty others in highway safety (seat belts), urban housing (Fair Housing Act), criminal justice. Even as an Indian, I can thank the Johnson administration (& of course Norman Borlaugh) for saving over a billion lives by facilitating the Green Revolution.

So with that impressive list of achievements, you would imagine Johnson is still feted as the greatest President ever by the Democrats, right? Plus he would easily win a second term. Not so. Johnson got bogged down in the Vietnam War and didn’t even seek a second term. The anti-war progressives protested vociferously and eventually pinned the Vietnam War mess solely on Johnson’s shoulders and we ended up with a Nixon presidency who eventually expanded the war into Cambodia and Laos after having to withdraw ignominiously from Vietnam in 1974. The ‘secret plan’ to end the Vietnam War as promised (does that remind you of someone today?) was never revealed and in fact, it’s now known that the Nixon campaign treasonously sabotaged a peace plan in 1968 to prolong the war and deny the Johnson administration any credit.

So even with those solid progressive victories that liberals continue to cherish and enjoy even today, Johnson was relegated to the history books as a failed President and passed away without any fanfare. Given this precedent, why would any Democrat work for any progressive agenda if he or she knows that one error in judgment in a war-related decision would take you down (again, does this remind you of someone?) The progressive Left would never stand by you and would instead let a demagogue conservative win just coz their candidate wasn’t as perfect as they demanded. Eventually, all the liberal environmentalists from the 60s ended up driving SUVs in the suburbs that they fled en masse to get away from the minorities. If nothing else, the progressives love two things – protesting in perpetuity and acting in ways that eventually underscores the goals that they are protesting against. Wait, add one more thing – being goddamn hypocritical. Holier-than-thou progressives will always complain about not getting their perfect candidate and will blame the rest of us for nominating a flawed candidate but eventually it comes down to who gets the most votes. The other side turns up but progressives don’t.

If nothing, conservatives understand electoral politics. Remember the 2010 midterms after being nearly wiped out in 2008? You can achieve your goals but you have to first get elected to introduce and pass legislation. As a Democratic presidential nominee once famously said, you cannot change minds but you can change laws. That’s how we got desegregation, civil rights, and even gay marriage. You are not going to get everything at once but you can lose everything at once. Unfortunately her words fell on deaf ears.

Be it 1968 or 2016, the progressives love snatching defeat from the jaws of victory just because they didn’t have a perfect candidate. Even when they were shown that the conservatives have fielded the most imperfect candidate you could imagine. But will we learn? I hope so but I fear we will not.

Voting for a Racist is the New Normal

“America is already great because America is good”
– Hillary Clinton

Two weeks ago, that statement was dealt a severe blow as Donald Trump became President-Elect of the United States. Just like many others in my circle, it landed like a hard blow and made me question my beliefs and assumptions about this country. I’ve lived here for little over 16 years now or rather in two Bush terms and two Obama terms and never have I felt more despair in terms of this country’s future and ideals. To be honest, I’ve not yet completely recovered much less heed to any advice of being open to the “other side”. It’s almost like America woke up suddenly and said, it’s a white country and you just live in it.

The more I read about this election especially after a grueling and anger-inducing 16 months of campaigning, the more I believe that white America stood up and stamped its authority over this country of immigrants. We often ask each other that how could anyone vote for Trump after what he said and has done throughout the course of his campaign and his earlier life? He and his supporters offended Mexicans and other immigrants, African Americans and other minorities, Jews, disabled people, and even women. He was caught on tape bragging about sexually assaulting women and a dozen women came forward confirming that he indeed had. He called Mexicans rapists and criminals and implied black neighborhoods have an infestation of crime. He mocked disabled reporters.

Well, maybe…just maybe they voted for him just because of those things and not in spite of them. Perhaps he was so generous in his hatred of various sections of the society that people focused on the things they hated too and ignored the rest. This may just be a form of cognitive deafness if you may. A Muslim woman who hates Mexicans, or a feminist who hates Muslim, or a Latino who is sexist, or, well, you get the picture.

Pundits are already spinning narratives on why Clinton lost but don’t pay heed to those. The race angle only makes sense. I don’t say this lightly since I do (still) believe America tries the most in attempting to address the scourge of supremacy of one race or religion over the other. Except in this election, Republicans actively sought to support the candidate who dispensed with the dog whistle and actively courted white supremacists and anti-Semites.

The Republican base had been clamoring for a more overtly radical and less politically-correct candidate since the GOP chose to nominate moderates like McCain and Romney. Instead this time when the base won out and they got the brash loud-mouthed lout, they came out in droves to support the nominee. Data shows Trump won a lot more Romney voters in red counties or at least enough to counter the increased Latino voters in Democratic counties. In my opinion, Clinton’s only electoral folly was that she appealed to the better angels of the GOP’s nature only to find out that there were none. The moderate and #NeverTrump-ers either went back to the Republican fold or simply were too few to matter. A majority of whites, whether they were college educated or not, voted for Trump.

The Rust Belt is not evolving as rapidly as the other parts of the country in coming to terms with the new economy. Resentment against declining job opportunities and resistance to training for the newer jobs [1] was redirected to the presence of immigrants. Fear in those parts worked much better than hope. People did not vote for Trump in spite of his despicable views but because of it. He forced them to dig up their primal fears and baser instincts of resentment and victimhood based on a false sense of racial superiority. Other moderates hadn’t made those fears explicit yet.

Subtle hints didn’t work, obvious hints didn’t work; ultimately you just had to say it out loud and repeatedly for those people to get it. No amount of talking to them about ‘economic anxieties’ is going to matter. I’ve lived for 8 years in one of the more conservative towns in the country where college-educated white conservatives consider a space space under a Republican administration and a Democrat administration. The fear is real. No one was talking about reaching across to the liberals once Obama got elected in a far bigger mandate. They just got down to work and decided to beat liberals and in 2010, they laid the groundwork of doing just that.

However, to end on a slightly positive note, it turns out that just over 100,000 voters in three Rust Belt states (Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin) decided the election in which 130 million people voted in a country that has more than 320 million people. Of course, it was the Democrats much vaunted blue wall that cracked; however the signs have been there for a while now. So if there’s any reason to hope it’s that the majority of this country doesn’t subscribe to those views. As votes are still being counted, Clinton continues to increase her lead in the popular vote and may end up with at least 2 million votes or around a 2% margin. That’s a point and a half over Al Gore who also won the popular vote while losing the presidency. That’s progress; rest is just electoral college reality.

Footnotes:
  1. We see this as part of our professional jobs []

Innovation-Schmovation

It’s that time of the year when the major tech companies try to flex their “innovation” muscles. Samsung tried kicking off the season early but it literally blew up in their face so they’re kicked to the curb for now. Let’s hope they get their shit together.

Google put its Fiber plans on hold and laid off more than half of its team in addition to firing off its CEO (he wrote a nice blogpost full of MBA jargon but call that Google’s exit interview). We are slated to get Fiber installed in our home very soon now but my enthusiasm is somewhat muted because you want to be assured that your utilities company is going to stick around. It’s not like your every other photo storage startup that abruptly shuts down and offers a zip file of your uploads.

Apple announced its ‘same old’ iPhone and ‘nearly same as before’ Macs minus the ports [1]. But they added a ‘Touch Bar’ that added a smidgeon of touch interface to their vaunted Mac lineup. Everyone else has skipped straight to making their screens touch-based but Apple has (rightfully, in my opinion) so far resisted. Keep the touch controls where your hands always are, I say. In fact, many of the touchpad controls are located on the Touch Bar. E.g. no longer using the trackpad to select a menu item when it’s right there on your contextual touch bar. Apple is more likely to replace its hardware keyboard with a touch interface with oodles of haptic feedback before it makes the screen with touch interface. So if you want a touch screen laptop, you’re better off jumping ship right now but empirical evidence suggests no one is in a hurry.

Microsoft, on the other hand, egged on by its new young CEO is upping the ante on innovation. It launched the admittedly cool looking Microsoft Studio, a virtual drawing board with a hinge. The video looks great and it definitely seems great to use. But…you knew a ‘but’ was coming…it suffers from the Google Glass problem. Everyone you know says they are definitely not going to buy coz it’s not for them but they definitely see the use for ‘creative professionals’. Yup, that’s what they said about Google Glass and turns out only dorks ended up buying it.

Continue reading

Footnotes:
  1. Removal of the ports always causes consternation but within a year no one even remembers their anger []

Changing Expectations with Instagram’s New Avatar

a_texan_winestopper_-_october_21__2016_at_0507pmFor me, Instagram has always been a place to share my phone camera’s photos. I have seen others including National Geographic and 500px share their professional shots and I’ve come to accept that. But personally, I like the constraints that a phone camera (aka iPhone for me) imposes on you. Initially it was the square format but now you can post your 4×6 photos as well. The filters allowed you to treat your photos like art (I never really understood the #NoFilter [1].)

With each iteration, phone cameras are getting better and better. Right now, even with the smaller sensor size, they allow for RAW capture that you can edit in apps like Lightroom, Enlight, Snapseed, VSCO, etc. that are almost as good as their desktop versions. With speciality apps like Prisma, there’s no illusion for depicting reality as it literally urges you to treat your photos like art. That’s a direction I like. However, with Instagram, if you follow the right people, there’s always the expectation of showing off your best photos. Although now you have your ‘camera’ on you all the time, the pressure to capture great photos can get to you and more often than not, you’re less likely to post if your previous one was really good.

more_lucy____-_september_24__2016_at_0751pmOf course, there’s an entire parallel and even larger community that is using Instagram to share photos, good or not. But most of this community had been living on Snapchat where no one is appreciating your photos but rather looking for where you are and what you are doing. The photos take a backseat and sometimes literally, with the countless overlays of emojis and text. To take that on, Instagram launched its newest feature – Stories. Photos that you’ve taken in the last 24 hours can be added to one stream with no captions, titles, or even locations [2]. But more importantly, there’s no pressure to edit your photos or present the best of them. You just click and share with minimal tagging with colors, emojis, or text. More importantly, like Snapchat, these stories disappear in 24 hours.

So with one notable addition, Instagram has resolved that dilemma of whether a photo is good enough to share on your feed or not. Now you basically can ‘dump’ your so-so photos in the Stories and curate the best ones for your main feed. Think of your main feed as your primary gallery showcasing your best works and your stories as the behind-the-scenes process. It’s the director’s commentary for your movie. Heck, the commentary may be for a movie that never made it to the screen or a movie that has no commentary at all. All the rules are out the window.

I follow some insanely talented photographers on Instagram and their ‘stories’ in terms of the photo quality can be crap but it’s fun taking a look behind the scenes. Or the cook who shares the final product on the main feed and all the steps involved in 10 separate photos on the Story, with a few videos thrown in. This Instagram I like and it may be Mark Zuckerberg’s wisest acquisition at what now seems like a steal.

Footnotes:
  1. I never quite got the intent behind #NoFilter. Is it meant to indicate that this scene I’m presenting to you is just as glorious as it looks? That implied that your other photos are heavily edited to make them look pretty. I’ve no problems with either except I don’t believe photos always are intended to depict WSIWYG unless you’re doing photo journalism in Aleppo. []
  2. A sign of my greying age is that I had to google to find out how to use it the right way. But soon, I was somewhat mollified when others asked me about it []

Comedy Roasts Bookend Trump’s Political Career

Given how obsessed I was with blogging about the previous three Presidential elections I’ve been witness to in this country, I completely missed documenting the most interesting one in 2016. Less than three weeks away, it may be coming to a predictable and anti-climactic end as Hillary Clinton is leading by more than 6 points in an average of polls.

RCP Poll of Polls Oct 2016 Screenshot

The last of the three debates concluded earlier this week and last night’s Al Smith’s Dinner was the last opportunity where both candidates meet in person. The latter is a social event and is known for self-deprecating humor speeches by the candidates. Although no Obama but Clinton held her own but Trump after a good start, bombed badly and was uncharacteristically booed by the audience. You could seem him smarting and get rattled. I bet his smartphone is hidden away lest he go on a late night tirade on Twitter again.

But more interesting was the fact that his entire political career has been bookended by comedy roasts. It’s said that he decided to finally run for President after he was skewered at the White House Correspondents Dinner by Obama and now less than three weeks before the election, Hillary drags him. There cannot be more justice in the world than to be finished off by people who belong to two groups that he has hated the most in this life – black people and women.

Now it’s the home stretch and his GOTV Director just quit last night but he has to pretend to win and be unwilling to concede through these last two weeks. Karma can be a bitch; Trump should know coz he’s called many people just that.

Staying Neutral in Face of Impending Fascism

Anand is, like his peers, a decent journalists and will report on facts and be fair to both sides. But this concern for fairness has often led to him and his peer equating false equivalence with being fair or as he calls it, neutral. Max Weber’s value-free judgement often has molded these views that you ought to let your personal values not color your work. In this case, journalists often treat Trump’s crazy ramblings that can best be described as raving bigotry and rampant racism as just another view from the right. That has let most journalist to slot Hillary Clinton’s views as the other side without even acknowledging that Trump’s views are so far removed from normal discourse that it wouldn’t be tolerated in the public sphere.

Liberal Media Staying Neutral

As I’ve always said, calling it “liberal media” has been the conservatives’ masterstroke. By terming anything that the media says as ‘liberal media bias’, they sow doubt into the self-introspecting minds of professionals who are unnecessarily trying to stay value-free. It makes them couch every issue into the two-sides argument leading to false equivalence. Trump calls Mexicans rapists but hey, Clinton had a private email server. Trump encourages anti-semitisms leading to online witch hunts but hey, Clinton had a private email server.

I wonder what broke the camel’s back when journalists like Anand were committed to adhere to “norms of neutrality” when Trump was maligning Hispanics, blacks, Jews, and women for the past year. Did the “norms of neutrality” compel them to equate blatant bigotry and sexism so they would be told that they’re doing their job by people least qualified to do so?

But maybe better late than never, lets see if you can call Trump out on the blatantly false statistics he quotes as soon as he quotes them. Do not let him proceed to his next talking point unless he admits that the claim was false. If need be, let him throw a tantrum and walk out of the interview. You can tell your advertising supervisor that you may just get more eyeballs on that interview. Let’s see if he is willing to forgo ‘free airtime’ walking out on every interview.

All it takes is to not stay neutral on obvious falsehoods. I’m sure that will make your journalism professor will be proud instead of the drivel you shovel every day.

Motivations behind Brexit

The United Kingdom decisively voted (52-48) to leave the EU and has now caused massive economic uncertainity at the least. However, the underlying sentiment that drove natives to vote for ‘Leave’ was immigration. Like in America, they “wanted their country back” whatever that meant. In fact, it was nothing but approaching the tipping point of hetrogentity.

Europe has often prided itself on its liberal culture and attitude but just a whiff of immigration in recent years from the so-called undesiable parts of the world shatters that fragile image. Given its colonial past, Europe has never been friendly to other cultures and been accepted in some circles due to its economic benefits. A slight downtick in economic fortunes and like in the U.S., the native rush to blame immigration when in fact, it’s the one of the successes of globalization. Several dog whistles such as “cultural identity” have been used to justify tempering free mobility of people but that’s just a facade of shifting blame for declining economic fortunes on to people you know won’t fight back.

Heck, some people even thought when they’re voting for ‘Leave’, it meant that immigrants would’ve to leave UK. Naturally, the vote has led to several public displays of bigotry and prejudice. The sentiments always existed on the underbelly but it can only be manifested when the bigots feel empowered by people in power to freely express their racism.

It has happened in the U.S. for generations and its an on-going battle every year but so far saner heads have prevailed. UK just let the crazies take control and underestimated the power of hate to get the vote out. People point to the Scandanavian countries as places of bliss in terms of tolerance. I say, give it a few years, let in a few brown people, and then we’ll talk.

[image source: Freestocks at Flickr]

I guess I’ve been so out of the blogging world that I never knew this existed. Or is it new?

PS. Notice anything different?

Math of the Democratic Primary

Finally, our long national nightmare is over. Yesterday, the last of the states voted in the Democratic Primary. Although Washington D.C will vote on the 14th, no one cares about them because, one, it will vote overwhelmingly for Clinton and two, because taxation without representation still holds true for the nation’s capital ironically. Anyway, to summarize the results of the primary:

Hillary Clinton now has:

  • Won a majority of the popular vote count
  • Won the most states
  • Won the most primaries/contests [1]
  • Won the most closed primaries
  • Won a majority of the pledged delegates

Bernie Sanders has:

  • Won a majority of caucuses

Ergo ‘super delegates’ will and most already have pledged support for Hillary Clinton (571 to Sanders’ 48) pushing her over the edge for securing the Democratic nomination quite comfortably.

Caucuses versus Primaries

As Five Thirty Eight projects, if the caucuses were primaries instead i.e. voters cast a ballot instead of spending time debating for a few hours before casting their vote, Hillary Clinton would end up winning a majority of those as well. A grand total of 10,000 people caucused in Alaska. If it was a primary, an estimated 57,000 would cast their ballot.

But why estimate when Washinghton State provides the perfect experiement. It held an official caucus that awarded the delegates on March 26. Bernie Sanders won 73% of the vote compared to Clinton’s 27%. Nearly 237,000 votes were cast in this caucus. The state also held a primary on May 24. This time, however, Hillary Clinton won 54% of the vote compared to Sander’s 46%, and even though these results wouldn’t matter and it was purely a symbolic primary, more than 800,000 votes were cast in this primary. I’ll leave it up to you to decide which method gives the opportunity to the most people to exercise their choice.

Even though Clinton won most of the open primaries i.e. open to non-Democrats, I would argue that all primaries should be closed. If you want to elect a nominee for the Democratic Party, you should be a member of the Democratic Party. It’s that simple. If you want to claim youself as an Independent, you’ll have to wait until the General Election to cast your vote. There are umpteen third-party candidates in the fray if you are not satisfied with the two major party candidates.

On to the General

However, remember that, given the structure of the country’s winner-take-all Electoral College, unless your third-party wins the majority of the electoral votes, your vote will benefit the eventual winner from the two major parties. This year, such votes will help elect Trump. You can still exercise your choice but that’s the unintended consequence whether you like it or not and nope, this is not being passive-agressive. It’s just the way things play out.

there is a chance

This Democratic Primary wasn’t really close although it went through to June. But that was mostly because California hadn’t voted hence giving the person who was behind a probable although very unlikely chance. If California had voted on Super Tuesday, we wouldn’t be having this conversation today.

Congratulations to Hillary Clinton. Now onward to beating Trump in the general.

Footnotes:
  1. includes territories that vote in primaries but not in the general. A total of 57 geographic contests were held this year []

Grand Canyon Vistas

I wrote about my first glimpse of the Grand Canyon previously which unfortunately was in fading light at the end of a long day plagued with travel delays. However, the next day was perfect and we started off with gifting my parents a helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon for their 40th wedding anniversary. [1] By their accounts, it was nothing less than spectacular and I can only imagine given what we saw later standing at the rim.

Grand Canyon vacation

View from Desert View Watchtower - Grand Canyon

We started out by first driving to the Desert View watchtower which is about 20 miles from the park entrance and then driving back to stop at various points for views of the canyon. Fortunately, the crowds weren’t bad since school was still in session and the season wouldn’t begin until a few weeks later. It was a slightly cloudy day and we even got a few drops of rain as we stood on the edge of the precipice taking in the sights of the canyon. I hestitate to repeat but the grandeur of the Grand Canyon cannot be understated and it lives up to all the hype you hear before visiting it. The watchtower is a newish structure built on the framework of an older rudimentary building by the Native Americans. This vista was discovered way before any white man stepped on this continent and I’m sure it must’ve been worshipped.

Desert View Watchtower - Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon vacation

We stopped at two more points – Lipan Point and Moran Point – on the way back to the Visitor Center for more of the spectacular views. As you trace your eyesight down the serrated edges of the canyon, you see the river below that carved it as a thin green line making its way out. I wondered for a moment if the river will continue to burrow its way and the canyon would look different after couple of hundred years but the plaque on the edge said the river had literally reached the foundation of the continent and wouldn’t make the Canyon any deeper. Now it’s up to us to be as minimally disruptive as we can to this amazing natural wonder.

Grand Canyon vacation

Moran Point - Grand Canyon

We made it to the Visitor Center by 1pm but unfortunately, it started pouring and we had to shelve our plans to continue and had to start driving back to Vegas. We’ll definitely back and maybe visit it from Phoenix to take in more of the dry and arid landscapes of Arizona.

Grand Canyon vacation

Moran Point Panorama - Grand Canyon

Footnotes:
  1. It’s at least $200 a pop so obviously, we all couldn’t go plus it was meant to be something exclusive and special for them. More on experiential gifts rather than material gifts later. []

White Californians were much more likely to emphasize GPA when they perceived black people as their competition. However, when they compared themselves to Asian applicants and were told that Asian students are overrepresented on college campuses, white Californians deemphasized the importance of GPA.

Source: Vox. Ha! You can’t use the merit-based excuse when you’re squeezed from the top by stereotypical Asian-Americans raised by tiger moms.

The Grandest of All Canyons

Thanks to an hour and a half delay due to a high-speed chase that culminated in a shootout on the famed Route 66 – now an interstate, go figure – we were racing down route 64 to catch a glimpse of the canyon that’s referred to in the grandest of the terms, before sundown. Add to that a wailing toddler frustrated at being strapped in a child seat for 6 hours and a fuming parent whom we never can make happy, nerves were frayed all around. Unfortunately, we wouldn’t make it as light failed rapidly as the sun went down at 7:30pm. We parked our car in the now-almost-deserted parking lot and rushed to Mather Point, the observation outlook near the Visitor Center. The biting cold, very different from the hot weather in Las Vegas that we left a few hours ago, hit us but we made it to the edge. All the frustration and tiredness simply vanished.

The view was even more spectacular than I had imagined. The Grand Canyon has never been described in subtle tones (hues maybe) but in spite of the hype, it completely lives up to it. “Holy shit” were the first words out of my mouth as I saw the vast expance from the South Rim of this gigantic chasm in the earth. I’m not sure what makes an impression. Maybe it is the sudden explosion of space after driving thru uncharacteristically tall trees, or the hues on the layers of the rock weathered by time, or the literal edge of the continent you’re standing at, or simply the stark beauty of the harshness of nature.

This is the view I got that evening. Not much of a picture considering the circumstances and the light and better pictures and vistas would come the next day but nevertheless that first sight of the canyon cannot be experienced again.

Grand Canyon Mather Point

More later.

A Third-Party Run for Sanders?

By now, Bernie Sanders has all but exhausted his options for winning the Democratic nomination. Even after his win in West Virginia today that had its inordinate share of idiosyncratic voters [1], he trails Hillary Clinton by 285 pledged delegates. He would’ve to get three-fourths of the votes in California to even get tantalizingly close.

However, the super delegates who often vote in favor of the candidate who wins the majority of the pledged delegates, will put Hillary over the top and some more. After dissing the super-delegates as undemocratic and as ‘the establishment’, he cannot count on their support especially if it is to countermand the majority of voters’ wishes [2]. So what’s the next step for Bernie Sanders?

Continue reading

Footnotes:
  1. Registered Democrats who are in fact Republicans and have been for a long time []
  2. Hillary Clinton currently has nearly 3 million votes more than Bernie Sanders []

It has to do with resting metabolism, which determines how many calories a person burns when at rest. When the show began, the contestants, though hugely overweight, had normal metabolisms for their size, meaning they were burning a normal number of calories for people of their weight. When it ended, their metabolisms had slowed radically and their bodies were not burning enough calories to maintain their thinner sizes.

Source: NY Times. The body has an amazing mechanism to adapt to…keep things as they were?

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