Tammy Bruce: Lincoln vs. Obama — The incredible tale of two libraries

This is a story of priorities and hypocrisy, brought to us by a president who saved the Union and was murdered for it, and a president whose policies and malevolence damaged both the nation and the world, and who is being rewarded for it.

The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation is in trouble. It is auctioning off non-Lincoln related artifacts in an effort to pay back a loan that is coming due. You see, the Lincoln Library doesn’t make a lot of money or attract enough major donors to operate. This is odd, considering President Lincoln is a “favorite” president for so many of today’s modern politicians.

Lincoln wasn’t just a regular touchstone, as an example, for the now super wealthy Barack Obama, he was used to help get Mr. Obama elected as president. Mr. Obama’s affinity for, and similarity to, Mr. Lincoln was made clear to us by his sycophantic legacy media.

“In the last couple of years, several best-selling books have focused on the life and political skills of the nation’s 16th president. And one man in particular has taken a particular interest in not just reading about the Illinois politician, but also modeling himself politically after him. That man: Barack Obama, who will be sworn in as the nation’s 44th — and first African-American — president Tuesday …,” gushed CNN on Jan. 19, 2009.

The New York Times told us, “Not since Lincoln has there been a president as fundamentally shaped — in his life, convictions and outlook on the world — by reading and writing as Barack Obama.” Obama the bookworm. And even better than Lincoln.

Mr. Obama not writing the Gettysburg Address could be fixed, don’t you worry. The Obama White House archive highlights your access to “President Obama’s Handwritten Essay Marking the 150th Anniversary of the Gettysburg Address.” Get it? Because Lincoln hand-wrote the Gettysburg address, Mr. Obama would hand-write his homage to the Gettysburg address. Lincoln’s address: 272 words. Obama’s is 273 words.

Isn’t that amazing? Just like Lincoln. There is one significant difference, however, between the men and perfectly illustrated by the two statements — Mr. Obama refers to himself several times. Mr. Lincoln not at all.

Now, the story of their presidential libraries is bringing home issues of priorities, hypocrisy and the fraud of today’s political class.

The Los Angeles Times reported, “The foundation that supports the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum says that prestigious memorabilia tied to the home-state 16th president could be sold to help pay back a loan taken out to buy a trove of items more than a decade ago. … Officials sounded the alarm bell publicly after meeting with aides to Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner this month but are ‘receiving no financial commitments.’ The Lincoln officials noted that they’ve asked state lawmakers for money three times, to no avail.”

That’s odd, because Illinois did find money for a presidential library. In September of last year, WTTW reported, “Sources tell Chicago Tonight there have been bipartisan talks among lawmakers for $100 million in capital funding to assist with the Obama Presidential Center.”

While the Lincoln Library languishes, the Obamas are not. With book deals worth a reported $65 million, speaking engagements, a television deal with Netflix, among other financial blockbuster arrangements, both Mr. And Mrs. Obama’s personal wealth is presumed to be north of $50 million each.

And now there is familiar trouble with the Obama Center. The president who promised so much and delivered the opposite has been accused in a federal lawsuit with misrepresenting what the library would offer the community.

In a story headlined “Federal lawsuit accuses Obama center organizers of pulling an ‘institutional bait and switch,’ ” the Chicago Tribune reported, “A federal lawsuit filed by a Chicago nonprofit in an attempt to block the Obama Presidential Center from being built in Jackson Park accuses organizers of pulling an ‘institutional bait and switch’ by shifting the center’s purpose away from being a true presidential library. … The plaintiffs accuse the Obamas of committing an about-face on original plans for the Jackson Park site to be home to a national presidential library that would hold historic documents and archives from Barack Obama’s presidency under the National Archives and Records Administration’s supervision.”

Oh, there will be a library, maybe, sort of. The website Curbed explained what the “center” will offer: “The buildings cover a diverse program: the Forum, a two-story event space for gatherings, like the Obama Summit, held last fall, with a winter garden and a restaurant; the Library, which, sans archives, may house a branch of the Chicago Public Library; the Athletic Center, a public gym with classes; and the Museum, which will house exhibitions about the Obamas in the context of civil rights, African-American, local, and national history.”

In other words, it will be a community organizing mecca with summits, “classes” for young people and exhibitions about the Obamas. For researchers and anyone else interested in the facts and details about what Mr. Obama did during his presidency, you’ll need to go to the National Archives in Washington, D.C.

The struggling Lincoln Library can’t get a straight answer from Illinois’ politicians about financial assistance, yet the state government seriously considers throwing $100 million at the Obama community organizing center.

Imagine what would be accomplished if politicians like the Obamas and Clintons were actually serious about their admiration for Lincoln. Instead, we’re faced with politicians that remain in love with their own image and their own pocketbook.

This column originally appeared in The Washington Times.

Tammy Bruce, president of Independent Women’s Voice, is a radio talk-show host, New York Times best-selling author and Fox News political contributor.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2018/05/16/tammy-bruce-lincoln-vs-obama-incredible-tale-two-libraries.html

What one word drives ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ and really much of the whole Marvel Cinematic Universe?

“Iron Man, the first film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, is just 10 minutes old when Tony Stark—arms dealer and self-proclaimed genius-billionaire-playboy-philanthropist—makes a sales presentation to America’s military brass. 

“They say that the best weapon is the one you never have to fire,” he tells the assembled generals. “I respectfully disagree. I prefer the weapon you only have to fire once. That’s how Dad did it, that’s how America does it, and it’s worked out pretty well so far.”

You might not think it, but that little speech contains one incredibly revealing word: a word that informs who Tony Stark was and will become, a word that infuses the Marvel Cinematic Universe with much of its meaning.

The word: Dad.

Over the course of three Iron Man movies, two Avengers flicks and an extended role in “Captain America: Civil War,” Tony (played by Robert Downey Jr.) tells us, in word and deed, about his father, Howard: How much he loved him, fought with him, idolized him and rebelled against him. Tony’s story reminds us that, for good, ill and often both, dads matter.

“One father is more than a hundred schoolmasters,” 17th century priest and poet George Herbert once said, and it’s true. Even as the role of fathers have been culturally downplayed—and as men themselves increasingly forget or abandon their roles as fathers—studies show that fewer things impact the lives of children more than their dads.

That influence can manifest in any number of ways, of course: Loving, engaged fathers tend to raise loving, caring kids. Overly demanding, angry dads can unintentionally teach their children to be timid or encourage rebellion. When our kids grow up, many of us dads are thrilled with the intentional lessons they embraced—and dismayed, even shocked, by what else we might’ve passed on. No father is perfect, and our relationships with our own fathers, and with our own sons and daughters, can be complex.  

We see that complexity play out in Disney’s Marvel movies again and again. Fathers, it seems, are way more important than those pesky old Infinity Stones.

Marvel’s Cinematic Universe reminds us just how important fathers are, and those reminders can be poignant and powerful.

Consider Thor: When we first meet him in his titular movie, he’s a hot-headed, hammer-wielding galoot who never thinks much past the next battle or feast. Odin, Thor’s powerful father, shows some tough love and casts him out of the very kingdom he’s supposed to inherit. Through this period of discipline, Thor learns humility, respect and compassion, and he becomes a more worthy heir and son.

“Guardian of the Galaxy”’s Peter Quill has his own daddy issues. He never knew his birth father until meeting him in “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” and discovers his biological pops (Ego) is a god-like living planet bent on cosmic ill will. During the film Peter realizes, to his shock, that the guy who raised him, a blue-skinned pirate named Yondu, actually loved him like a son.

“He may have been your father, boy,” Yondu says of Ego. “But he wasn’t your daddy.”

In this year’s “Black Panther,” King T’Challa grew up idolizing his father, T’Chaka—until he learns that T’Chaka made a decision that threatens the future of T’Challa’s kingdom.  As much as he loves and honors T’Chaka, T’Challa realizes he must forge his own path and right his father’s wrongs.

Those themes of fatherhood extend powerfully even into “Avengers: Infinity War.” There, the movie’s main villain, Thanos must face his adopted daughter, Gamora, who’s now fighting against him. Those familial bonds prove more powerful than either expect.

Tony Stark’s back in “Infinity War,” too, but he’s no longer so much the conflicted son as he is a father-figure himself—mentoring a young Peter Parker, a.k.a. Spider-Man. Their relationship was one of the best parts of last year’s “Spider-Man: Homecoming”: Like T’Chaka, Tony’s far from perfect. Like Yondu, he struggles to express his feelings for the boy. Like Odin, he shows the wayward Spidey a little tough love in “Homecoming,” taking away Peter’s suit.

“I was just trying to be like you,” Peter says.

“I wanted you to be better,” Tony tells him.

Doesn’t every son, at some point, want to be like his father? Doesn’t every father want his kids to be better?

Marvel’s Cinematic Universe reminds us just how important fathers are, and those reminders can be poignant and powerful. But they don’t tell us anything we don’t already know. We don’t need a superhero movie to tell us who our first hero should be.

Paul Asay has been writing for Focus on the Family’s Plugged In entertainment review website since 2007. He loves superheroes and finding God in unexpected places. That’s why he wrote the book “God on the Streets of Gotham.” In addition, Paul has written several other books, including his newest—”Burning Bush 2.0.” When Paul’s not reviewing TV shows and movies for Plugged In, he hikes with his wife, Wendy, runs marathons with his now-grown kids. Follow him on Twitter @AsayPaul.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2018/04/29/what-one-word-drives-avengers-infinity-war-and-really-much-whole-marvel-cinematic-universe.html

In Sheer Scope, Avengers: Infinity War Is an Unreplicable Success

There will never be another movie like Avengers: Infinity War. Not because it’s a feat of filmmaking (though it is impressive), but because no other studio may ever have the patience to spend 10 years and billions of dollars building up to one release. Given Hollywood's instant-gratification calculus, it's likely that no other studio—and perhaps not even Marvel itself—will want to gamble that audiences will want to consume movies the way they do comic books: slowly, over years, following dozens of characters until they converge in one massive crossover event. No, there may never be another Infinity War because, really, who's got time for that?

Obviously, movie franchises span years. Star Wars has been going on for more than four decades, but that longevity wasn't pre-ordained. People kept lining up to see Skywalker movies, so Lucasfilm kept making them, first as prequels and now as ongoing sagas and one-offs. There’s an entire galaxy far, far away now, but it didn’t come from a pre-existing canon; it wasn’t born in decades of pulp like the Avengers were. (And sometimes it shows.) Cinemas have been welcoming James Bond films for more than 50 years, but despite the presence of some ongoing baddies like SPECTRE, 007 himself gets rebooted and replaced every few years. Warner Bros./DC is trying to replicate the Marvel model with the Justice League, but is so far behind the avenging pack—and offers such disparity between its films—it may never fully catch up, no matter how devout Zack Snyder stans are.

This inherent complexity, this need to unite multiple threads and multiple people, is Infinity War’s greatest gift and biggest curse. On one hand, fans will appreciate the resolution of plot points they’ve been following since 2008’s Iron Man or 2011’s Captain America: The First Avenger. On the other hand, those who missed a couple movies, or just frankly can’t remember the finer points of Thor: The Dark World, might feel a bit lost. That’s OK. If you can’t remember why Bucky Barnes is in Wakanda—or, frankly, why a guy who looks like a rock bassist is hiding out in a secluded African nation—his reunion with Steve Rogers may not be as sweet, but you’ll still be able to follow the action. (On the other other hand: if you understand none of the proper nouns in that last sentence, Infinity War may not be the movie for you.)

This has always been the issue with Marvel films: they pack a punch, but occasionally it’s too much. From the first Avengers onward, each single movie has been obliged to carry a narrative and expository burden that can threaten to eclipse the film's discrete purpose. Sometimes it makes for a great film—see Captain America: Civil War—sometimes it makes for a movie that collapses under its own weight, as was the case with Avengers: Age of Ultron.

But with Infinity War, the scale is balanced. And that’s its greatest marvel. With no fewer than 25 prominent superheroes, many of whom have their own franchises, Infinity War bordered on overstuffed from its very conception. How could all of those plots and interests meet and find denouement? It’s a testament to Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely’s script and Joe and Anthony Russo’s direction that for the most part they do, jumping off from the recent events of Black Panther and Thor: Ragnarok (and, to a lesser degree, Spider-Man: Homecoming) and quickly looping in the plots of every Captain America, Iron Man, and Guardians of the Galaxy movie that came before them. At times it can feel like a Marvel trivia lightning round, with issues from previous films being introduced just to be knocked down and resolved, but it's also gratifying for hardcore fans while still remaining sensical for casual viewers—and manages to wind up with nary a massive plot hole in sight.

But what is the plot? To reveal too much would ruin everything, but it’s no secret to say that Thanos’ (Josh Brolin) quest to gather the six Infinity Stones and rule the galaxy—as hinted at in post-credits scenes and expositional dialogue from the MCU's many installments—ends here. His goal, if you haven’t watched the trailer, is the bring "balance" to the universe, which for him essentially means wiping out half its population. (Not a fan of overcrowding, this one.) To attempt to stop him, various pockets of Avengers and Guardians are dispatched throughout time and space—Wakanda to Knowhere, New York to Nidavellir, the origin of Thor’s mighty hammer. And surely as attempts are made to stop him, those attempts are thwarted.

It all culminates in an ending that is unlike anything previously seen in a Marvel movie—but certainly witnessed in a Marvel comic. It’s likely to shock, and even upset, a few people. Yes, some heroes die. (“That was like going to a funeral,” said one person leaving the screening I attended.) But as comic book fans know, in comics, death is not permanent. There’s another Infinity War coming next year, and it seems likely that much of its roster will be resurrected from the ashes of the film that came before it.

When Marvel honcho Kevin Feige first started talking about creating a multi-phase cinematic universe of superhero films, it seemed wildly ambitious, if not foolhardy. If more than one or two of the films underperformed, fans easily could have lost interest and derailed the whole enterprise. The fact that the MCU has yet to meet such a fate is astounding. That doesn’t mean it won’t, but keeping a fickle moviegoing public interested in anything for a full decade deserves notice—if for no other reason than it’ll probably never happen again. Too many things command the audience’s attention now.

About halfway through Infinity War, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) puts Peter Parker (Tom Holland) on notice. The New Guy is still learning the ways of being an Avenger and talks a little too much about other movies for Tony’s taste. (Though his use of an old trick from the Aliens franchise to defeat one of Thanos’ minions is pretty solid.) “Not one more pop-culture reference out of you for the entire ride,” Stark tells Spidey. Watching the latest Avengers movie, with its constant references to MCU movies past, can feel a bit like that. But if you bought a ticket to Infinity War, then you’ve already bought in; you’ve come to hear every reference this movie wants to throw at you. Ten years in, Marvel has managed to keep everyone along for the ride.

More WIRED Culture

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Read more: https://www.wired.com/story/avengers-infinity-war-unreplicable/

Feminism FTW: This Empowering New Childrens Book Teaches Young Girls That Women Of All Shapes And Sizes Can Hunt Dogs

Get ready to feel empowered, because a new book that’s perfect for young women is hitting shelves soon! For anyone raising a little feminist out there, you’ll definitely want to get your hands on this future bestseller: This empowering new children’s book teaches young girls that women of all shapes and sizes can hunt dogs.

Incredible. This is a powerful message all girls should hear!

The book, called Slaying The Canine, follows the amazing adventures of Samantha Salazar and her plus-sized friend Rebecca as they roam the countryside, shooting dogs in the woods. In the span of 20 beautifully illustrated pages, this amazing tribute to girl power shows that women of all shapes and sizes can cover themselves in dog urine, hide behind a hunting blind, and lure as many dogs as they want into a devastatingly lethal shotgun trap.

Needless to say, it’s important to have literature like this that sustains and empowers women on our kids’ bookshelves. Yes, Samantha wears a conventional size, and yes, Rebecca wears plus-sized clothes, but together, they shoot, gut, and skin more than two dozen feral dogs that live in the woods behind their house, and make us all proud!

Hell yeah! Girl power!

Wow, we wish this book had been around when we were growing up. There’s a lot to be said about a book that tackles body positivity in the great sport of dog hunting in such a fun and engaging way for young readers. With inspirational books like this, the future is looking bright for our daughters.

Read more: http://www.clickhole.com/article/feminism-ftw-empowering-new-childrens-book-teaches-7353

Man, 73, smashes Porsche through wall

Image copyright PC Turner/Essex Police
Image caption Police were called to Crouch Street in Colchester

A 73-year-old man ploughed his Porsche through a wall and fence before nose-diving on to a footpath.

Essex Police was called to a pedestrian subway on Southway in Colchester after the smash at about 18:15 GMT. Neither the driver nor anyone else was injured.

Inquiries into the crash of the Porsche 911 Targa 4S, which sell for about £100,000, are ongoing.

Sgt Colin Shead posted a photo on Twitter, prompting comments including: “wow I thought my parking was bad”.

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Another said: “That will polish out.”

Sgt Shead added the driver, from Colchester, would be offered a “fitness to drive” course and the DVLA notified.

Porsche 911 Targa 4S facts

  • Price: Just over £101,000
  • Top speed: 188mph (303km/h)
  • Acceleration: 0-62mph (0-100kmh) in 4.4 seconds

Source: Porsche.com

Image copyright Essex Police
Image caption The 73-year-old man was not injured, police said

Related Topics

Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-essex-43662862

When do you know you’re old enough to die? Barbara Ehrenreich has some answers

With her latest book, Natural Causes, Barbara Ehrenreich notes that theres an age at which death no longer requires much explanation

Four years ago, Barbara Ehrenreich, 76, reached the realisation that she was old enough to die. Not that the author, journalist and political activist was sick; she just didnt want to spoil the time she had left undergoing myriad preventive medical tests or restricting her diet in pursuit of a longer life.

While she would seek help for an urgent health issue, she wouldnt look for problems.

Now Ehrenreich felt free to enjoy herself. I tend to worry that a lot of my friends who are my age dont get to that point, she tells the Guardian. Theyre frantically scrambling for new things that might prolong their lives.

It is not a suicidal decision, she stresses. Ehrenreich has what she calls a very keen bullshit detector and she has done her research.

The results of this are detailed in her latest book, Natural Causes: An Epidemic of Wellness, the Certainty of Dying, and Killing Ourselves to Live Longer, published on 10 April.

Part polemic, part autobiographical, Ehrenreich who holds a PhD in cellular immunology casts a skeptical, sometimes witty, and scientifically rigorous eye over the beliefs we hold that we think will give us longevity.

She targets the medical examinations, screenings and tests were subjected to in older age as well as the multibillion-dollar wellness industry, the cult of mindfulness and food fads.

These all give us the illusion that we are in control of our bodies. But in the latter part of the book, Ehrenreich argues this is not so. For example, she details how our immune systems can turn on us, promoting rather than preventing the spread of cancer cells.

When Ehrenreich talks of being old enough to die, she does not mean that each of us has an expiration date. Its more that theres an age at which death no longer requires much explanation.

That thought had been forming in my mind for some time, she says. I really have no hard evidence about when exactly one gets old enough to die, but I notice in obituaries if the person is over 70 theres not a big mystery, theres no investigation called for. Its usually not called tragic because we do die at some age. I found that rather refreshing.

In 2000, Ehrenreich was diagnosed with breast cancer (she wrote the critical, award-winning essay Welcome to Cancerland about the pink ribbon culture).

The experience of cancer treatment helped shape her thoughts on ageing, she says.

Within this last decade, I realised I was not going to go through chemotherapy again. Thats like a year out of your life when you consider the recovery time and everything. I dont have a year to spare.

In Natural Causes, Ehrenreich writes about how you receive more calls to screenings and tests in the US including mammograms, colonoscopies and bone density scans as you get older. She claims most fail the evidence-based test and are at best unnecessary and worst harmful.

Ehrenreich would rather relax with family and friends or take a long walk than sit in a doctors waiting room. She lives near her daughter in Alexandria, Virginia, and likes to pick up her 13-year-old granddaughter from school and hang out with her a while.

Work is still a passion too. She fizzes with ideas for articles and books on subjects that call for her non-conformist take.

Once a prominent figure in the Democratic Socialists of America, she is also busy with the Economic Hardship Reporting Project she founded, which promotes journalism about inequality and poverty in the US, and gives opportunity to journalists who are struggling financially. (The Guardian often partners with the organisation.)

Ehrenreich, who is divorced, has talked to her children Rosa, a law professor, and Ben, a journalist and novelist about her realisation she is old enough to die, but not in a grim way. That wouldnt be her style. While a sombre subject, she chats about it with a matter-of-fact humour.

I just said: This is bullshit. Im not going to go through this and that and the other. Im not going to spend my time, which is very precious, being screened and probed and subjected to various kinds of machine surveillance. I think theyre with me. I raised them right, she laughs.

The last time I had to get a new primary care doctor I told her straight out: I will come to you if I have a problem, but do not go looking for problems.

She pauses: I think I beat her into submission.

Natural Causes is Ehrenreichs 23rd book in 50 years. Much of her work is myth-busting, such as Bright-sided, which looks at the false promises of positive thinking; other work highlights her keen sense of social justice. For her best-selling 2001 book Nickel and Dimed, she went undercover for three months, working in cleaning, waitressing and retail jobs to experience the difficulties of life on a minimum wage.

A recent exchange with a friend summed up what Ehrenreich hoped to achieve with Natural Causes.

I gave the book to a dear friend of mine a week ago. Shes 86 and shes a very distinguished social scientist and has had a tremendous career. She said: I love this, Barbara, its making me happy. I felt wow. I want people to read it and relax. I see so many people my age and this has been going on for a while who are obsessed, for example, with their diets.

Im sorry, Im not going out of this life without butter on my bread. Ive had so much grief from people about butter. The most important thing is that food tastes good enough to eat it. I like a glass of wine or a bloody mary, too.

Barbara
Barbara Ehrenreich: Cancer is a cellular rebellion. Photograph: Stephen Voss for the Guardian

Yet despite her thoughts on the wellness industry with its expensive health clubs (fitness has become a middle-class signifier, she says) and corporate wellness programs (flabby employees are less likely to be promoted, she writes), Ehrenreich wont be giving up the gym anytime soon. She works out most days because she enjoys cardio and weight training and lots of stretching, not because it might make her live longer.

That is the one way in which I participated in the health craze that set in this country in the 70s, she says. I just discovered there was something missing in my life. I dont understand the people who say, Im so relieved my workout is over, it was torture, but I did it. Im not like that.

In Natural Causes, Ehrenreich uses the latest biomedical research to challenge our assumption that we have agency over our bodies and minds. Microscopic cells called macrophages make their own decisions, and not always to our benefit they can aid the growth of tumours and attack other cells, with life-threatening results.

This was totally shocking to me, she says. My research in graduate school was on macrophages and they were heroes [responsible for removing cell corpses and trash the garbage collector of the body]. About 10 years ago I read in Scientific American about the discovery that they enable tumour cells to metastasise. I felt like it was treason!

She continues: The really shocking thing is that they can do what they want to do. I kept coming across the phrase in the scientific literature cellular decision-making.

This changed her whole sense of her body, she says.

The old notion of the body was like communist dictatorship every cell in it was obediently performing its function and in turn was getting nourished by the bloodstream and everything. But no, there are rebels I mean, cancer is a cellular rebellion.

Ehrenreich, an atheist, finds comfort in the idea that humans do not live alone in a lifeless universe where the natural world is devoid of agency (which she describes as the ability to initiate an action).

When you think about some of these issues, like how a cell can make decisions, and a lot of other things I talk about in the book, like an electron deciding whether to go through this place in a grid or that place. When you see theres agency even in the natural world. When you think about it all being sort of alive like that, its very different from dying if you think theres nothing but your mind in the universe, or your mind and Gods mind.

Death becomes less a terrifying leap into the abyss and more like an embrace of ongoing life, she believes.

If you think of the whole thing as potentially thriving and jumping around and having agency at some level, its fine to die, she adds reassuringly.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2018/apr/07/barbara-ehrenreich-natural-causes-book-old-enough-to-die

Tree by Melina Sempill Watts

Book Summary

Tree is a novel about a tree written from a unique point of view: the chief narrator is a tree. Tree uses magical realism as a key to access the interrelated emotional realities of the many species that share one pristine valley in Topanga, California. Grass, birds, other trees and animals come to life on the pages, while one 19th century Mexican woman and one 20th century schoolboy, hearts opened by grief and loneliness, come to know one California live oak whose 229 years span the evolution of four human civilizations, Chumash, Spanish/Mexican, Yankee and new money Hollywood, which each leave their mark upon the landscape and upon Tree. The author’s obsessive botanical, scientific and historical research gives substance to a world that feels both as real as last weekend’s dust on hiking boots and as mind-altering as a fully fledged mystical experience. Take a journey into the heart of the woods where every plant shines Tree will change how you see nature.

Amazon Link – https://amzn.to/2JYUgmo

YouTube Video – https://youtu.be/tUx3twJDisQ

KIRKUS REVIEW

A debut novel tells the story of life in a California valley through the eyes of a tree.

The hero of this book is, as the title suggests, a tree. Specifically, a live oak that germinates in Topanga in the 18th century. The tale begins, more or less, at the protagonist’s conception: a new acorn drops from a tree and is picked up by a blue jay, which is in turn snatched by a hawk. The acorn falls from the hawk’s talons high in the air and comes to rest in a crack on the dry valley floor. It waits for days in the arid dirt until a mountain lion kills and eats a deer over the crack, coating the acorn in blood: “And the acorn responded to sudden moisture as seeds do. Things uncoiled and uncurled inside.” From there, Watts takes the reader on a journey through more than two centuries of California history with Tree right at the center, from the struggles of the surrounding animals and plants who serve as the oak’s neighbors to the human settlers—Chumash, Spanish, American, and contemporary Angeleno—who alter the face of the valley. The saga of Tree becomes a window into the immensity of nature, simultaneously dynamic and everlasting, and the ways that humans have come to upset the ancient balance. Watts writes in an elegant, highly detailed prose that shows an incredible knack for chronicling the minutiae of the natural world. Even more impressive is her ability to wring narrative from the most common interactions, reminding readers of the Homeric drama unfolding all around them, at every level of life. She makes the most of the novel’s conceit, going so far as to use a Tree-specific pronoun: e instead of he or she. Far from cute, this book takes a serious look at the value of love, the impossibility of permanence, and the ways in which humans leave the world. For anyone wondering about the outcome, Watts closes the work’s first paragraph with the reminder that “there is no happiness. Only serenity lasts.”

An ingenious and satisfying tale about a single live oak.

https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/melina-sempill-watts/treeT/

Author Bio:

Melina Sempill Watts’ writing has appeared in Sierra Magazine, the New York Times Motherlode blog, Earth Island Journal and Sunset Magazine, in local environmental venues such as Urban Coast: Journal of the Center for the Study of the Santa Monica Bay, the Heal the Bay blog and in local papers such as Malibu Times, Malibu Surfside News, Topanga Messenger and Argonaut News.

Watts began her career in Hollywood as a development executive, writing consultant and story analyst working for such luminaries Frank Marshall, Kathleen Kennedy and Peter Horton and at Dreamworks. She has worked as a watershed coordinator, run a stable, shelved books at a library and created, marketed and ran Starfish Catering. Watts graduated from UCLA with a degree in history. She lives in California.

Upcoming events include on stage (5000 guests anticipated) at the Placer County Earth Day at Royer Park in Roseville, California and on April 21 and L.A. Zen Center on June 17.

Watts will come to university or high school classrooms to talk about “Tree.”

Mythbuster Adam Savage Has Made a Bag, and It’s Beautiful

Adam Savage is clearly overjoyed about his new bag. I met up with the gear-obsessed designer, former Mythbusters host, and Tested.com editor in chief at his workshop in San Francisco to see his latest creation. He's designed his first carryall utility bag, the EDC One, and launched a new brand, Savage Industries, to market it. With the same childlike glee he exudes on camera, Savage flipped the thing around on the workbench, opening and closing it, zipping and unzipping, as he pointed out all the features.

Yes, the bag is white. It only comes in white, at least for now.

It's constructed almost entirely out of upcycled cloth from boat sails, so each bag has some unique quirks, and every specimen comes off the production line with a broken-in look. The handles are held together by magnets instead of snaps or velcro, which, if you've fiddled with those types of closures on your own bag, is a welcome innovation. You just bring the handles near one another and they jump together with a satisfying clonk. Also clever: The straps are stiff enough that the clasped handle stays propped upright like a little pup tent frame. Unzip and pry open the bag, and it holds its shape in that configuration too, thanks to a pair of spring steel inserts that run around the lip and keep the mouth agape like the jaw of a whale shark.

There's a pocket inside to hold your notebooks (Savage adores Tom Sachs Ten Bullets notebooks, though he says his pocket is brand-agnostic) and, via a stack of horizontal loops, your pens and pencils. On the Kevlar-reinforced bottom, there are strips of velcro. This detail hints at accessories to come, like some padded bays for camera equipment or a waterproof bucket-like insert for toting a 12-pack.

Savage Industries

Savage designed it so it could carry absolutely everything he needs for a day, from tools to books to lunch. He says he drew inspiration from two places: First is the old tool case he used when employed as a model-builder at Industrial Light & Magic. It too had the clamshell top that flopped open for full access to the goods inside. He's tried to find something like it on the market, but he was disappointed enough in the options to just build his own version. The other inspiration is the purse given to Apollo astronauts on the missions to the moon. Called the Temporary Stowage Bag or, colloquially, the McDivitt Purse, this tote was mostly forgotten until Neil Armstrong's widow discovered it while going through her recently deceased husband's belongings. Savage borrowed a few elements from the NASA design—the simple shape, the steel closure, and the near-total absence of pigment.

None More White

Yes, the bag is white. It only comes in white, at least for now. It's striking, but it seems impractical for something that's bound to soak up dirt and grime and oil. Savage sells me on it. It will develop a patina, and patinas are cool. Also, you can't find tools at the bottom of a black bag, he says. He certainly didn't want to make something that fell in line with the current fashion trend of "tactical" and "urban camo" that seems to dominate bags and accessories. A white bag stands out as unique. It isn't hyper-masculine like the ubiquitous Cordura messenger. Rather, it's almost feminine, or at least nonbinary.

Savage has been sewing since he was in middle school (he regularly makes his own costumes) but for this project the heavy lifting and stitching was done by Mafia, a company also based in San Francisco that makes a whole line of gorgeous bags primarily out of recycled sailcloth. Mafia has produced a few hundred Savage bags for this first run, and each one gets Mafia's standard lifetime warranty.

The bags are available on Savage's website. Each costs $225. Once the first run sells out, they'll go on backorder until Mafia can catch up. Each one will be hand-numbered for extra collector cred.

So this is a new brand, this Savage Industries. There's more to come, Adam says: a smaller version of this bag and a larger one too, though the big version will still be sized to meet FAA regulations for carry-ons. What else? He wouldn't say, beyond these bags and the accessories that will Velcro into them. Whatever arrives next, I just hope it comes in white.

Read more: https://www.wired.com/story/savage-industries-bag/

Are you ready? This is all the data Facebook and Google have on you | Dylan Curran

The harvesting of our personal details goes far beyond what many of us could imagine. So I braced myself and had a look

Want to freak yourself out? Im going to show just how much of your information the likes of Facebook and Google store about you without you even realising it.

Google knows where youve been

Google stores your location (if you have location tracking turned on) every time you turn on your phone. You can see a timeline of where youve been from the very first day you started using Google on your phone.

Click on this link to see your own data: google.com/maps/timeline?

Here is every place I have been in the last 12 months in Ireland. You can see the time of day that I was in the location and how long it took me to get to that location from my previous one.

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A Google map of every place Ive been in Ireland this year. Photograph: Dylan Curran

Google knows everything youve ever searched and deleted

Google stores search history across all your devices. That can mean that, even if you delete your search history and phone history on one device, it may still have data saved from other devices.

Click on this link to see your own data: myactivity.google.com/myactivity

Google has an advertisement profile of you

Google creates an advertisement profile based on your information, including your location, gender, age, hobbies, career, interests, relationship status, possible weight (need to lose 10lb in one day?) and income.

Click on this link to see your own data: google.com/settings/ads/

Google knows all the apps you use

Google stores information on every app and extension you use. They know how often you use them, where you use them, and who you use them to interact with. That means they know who you talk to on Facebook, what countries are you speaking with, what time you go to sleep.

Click on this link to see your own data: security.google.com/settings/secur

Google has all of your YouTube history

Google stores all of your YouTube history, so they probably know whether youre going to be a parent soon, if youre a conservative, if youre a progressive, if youre Jewish, Christian, or Muslim, if youre feeling depressed or suicidal, if youre anorexic

Click on this link to see your own data: youtube.com/feed/history/s

The data Google has on you can fill millions of Word documents

Google offers an option to download all of the data it stores about you. Ive requested to download it and the file is 5.5GB big, which is roughly 3m Word documents.

This link includes your bookmarks, emails, contacts, your Google Drive files, all of the above information, your YouTube videos, the photos youve taken on your phone, the businesses youve bought from, the products youve bought through Google

They also have data from your calendar, your Google hangout sessions, your location history, the music you listen to, the Google books youve purchased, the Google groups youre in, the websites youve created, the phones youve owned, the pages youve shared, how many steps you walk in a day

Click on this link to see your own data: google.com/takeout

Facebook has reams and reams of data on you, too

Facebook offers a similar option to download all your information. Mine was roughly 600MB, which is roughly 400,000 Word documents.

This includes every message youve ever sent or been sent, every file youve ever sent or been sent, all the contacts in your phone, and all the audio messages youve ever sent or been sent.

Click here to see your data: https://www.facebook.com/help/131112897028467

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A snapshot of the data Facebook has saved on me. Photograph: Dylan Curran

Facebook stores everything from your stickers to your login location

Facebook also stores what it thinks you might be interested in based off the things youve liked and what you and your friends talk about (I apparently like the topic girl).

Somewhat pointlessly, they also store all the stickers youve ever sent on Facebook (I have no idea why they do this. Its just a joke at this stage).

They also store every time you log in to Facebook, where you logged in from, what time, and from what device.

And they store all the applications youve ever had connected to your Facebook account, so they can guess Im interested in politics and web and graphic design, that I was single between X and Y period with the installation of Tinder, and I got a HTC phone in November.

(Side note, if you have Windows 10 installed, this is a picture of just the privacy options with 16 different sub-menus, which have all of the options enabled by default when you install Windows 10)

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Privacy options in Windows 10. Photograph: Dylan Curran

They can access your webcam and microphone

The data they collect includes tracking where you are, what applications you have installed, when you use them, what you use them for, access to your webcam and microphone at any time, your contacts, your emails, your calendar, your call history, the messages you send and receive, the files you download, the games you play, your photos and videos, your music, your search history, your browsing history, even what radio stations you listen to.

Here are some of the different ways Google gets your data

I got the Google Takeout document with all my information, and this is a breakdown of all the different ways they get your information.

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My Google Takeout document. Photograph: Dylan Curran

Heres the search history document, which has 90,000 different entries, even showing the images I downloaded and the websites I accessed (I showed the Pirate Bay section to show how much damage this information can do).

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My search history document has 90,000 different entries. Photograph: Dylan Curran

Google knows which events you attended, and when

Heres my Google Calendar broken down, showing all the events Ive ever added, whether I actually attended them, and what time I attended them at (this part is when I went for an interview for a marketing job, and what time I arrived).

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Here is my Google calendar showing a job interview I attended. Photograph: Dylan Curran

And Google has information you deleted

This is my Google Drive, which includes files I explicitly deleted including my rsum, my monthly budget, and all the code, files and websites Ive ever made, and even my PGP private key, which I deleted, that I use to encrypt emails.

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Google can know your workout routine

This is my Google Fit, which shows all of the steps Ive ever taken, any time I walked anywhere, and all the times Ive recorded any meditation/yoga/workouts Ive done (I deleted this information and revoked Google Fits permissions).

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And they have years worth of photos

This is all the photos ever taken with my phone, broken down by year, and includes metadata of when and where I took the photos

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Google has every email you ever sent

Every email Ive ever sent, thats been sent to me, including the ones I deleted or were categorised as spam.

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And there is more

Ill just do a short summary of whats in the thousands of files I received under my Google Activity.

First, every Google Ad Ive ever viewed or clicked on, every app Ive ever launched or used and when I did it, every website Ive ever visited and what time I did it at, and every app Ive ever installed or searched for.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/mar/28/all-the-data-facebook-google-has-on-you-privacy