What Trump Can Teach Us About Constitutional Law

For any #MAGA out there. You know who you are.

Trumpconlaw is another podcast hosted by Roman Mars of 99% Invisible fame. When the show first started, I started tweeting out my own version of promos for each episode. The series of them can be found under the tag TrumpConLaw on this blog. This post should appear as the header for that series of tweets. As a consequence of this, it will move forward in time as new episodes are released. Here is the introductory episode of the series.

Intro to What Trump Can Teach Us About Con Law – 06.07.17

So we’re going to learn the constitution together. Because of Trump. Because I need something to hold onto, and the constitution is the liferaft that our forefathers gave us. And dammit, I’m going to learn how it works.

Roman Mars

Here is the tweet that started it all,

Twitter

On a tangential track (or set of tracks) I am slowly working my way through the 99% Invisible archive. Sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever make it all the way through, but hope springs eternal. 99% Invisible is undoubtedly one of the best designed websites in existence. All Roman Mars podcasts and the podcasts that are presented through his distribution group, Radiotopia, are among the few podcasts out there that are easily shareable; easily shareable because the link to the hosting website is actually referenced in the feed address for the podcast you are listening to. I remain baffled as to why more podcasts do not design their feeds to be easily accessible in this way. In any case, give some of these podcasts a listen. It will take your mind off of the impending doom looming over the US today.


TED2015 Roman Mars Why city flags may be the worst-designed thing you’ve never noticed

09/22/19. I added the link to the introduction episode, the inspirational tweet, and Roman’s quote from that episode. 04/13/20. Moved to March 19th subsequent to the last episode at the time. Moved to November 11th when I found I had been missing episodes all summer.

The Meaning of Design

If you don’t stretch you won’t know where the edge is. I was constantly stretching into areas that I didn’t know very much about.

Designers don’t just look, but they see. They don’t just hear, but they listen. And they don’t just touch, but they feel. To design is to attempt to make a world a better place.

Sara Little Turnbull
The Mask – Throughline – May 14, 2020

Is it Natural or Gaudi?

Screencap of Google Home

Our Google Chromecast delivered this ambient photograph that the Wife and I could not identify when we wandered through the living room on Wednesday. Was it a gear? Was it an organic growth? We couldn’t tell, so I took a screenshot of it on my phone. I looked it up today, and it is Gaudi. Specifically Casa Batlló. That explains everything.

(Pinterest embeds in WordPress are almost mythical; as in, I can’t do a damn thing with them or modify them even though they show up. I’m not happy about it, but that is what it looks like.)

…but I hear you saying “who the hell is a Gaudi?” Ah. You aren’t an archiphile. Let me explain then. Antoni Gaudí is one of the more infamous architects in history. Rather than go through the entire story of his most famous achievement, I’ll let 99% Invisible explain it all to you. Here is the audio for the episode,

99% Invisible – La Sagrada Familia on Stitcher

But the webpage located here has a photo history about the longest-running construction project in modern history, La Sagrada Familia. There is no way I can do that story justice no matter what I say here. Let Roman explain it to you with words and pictures. Or you could just watch this short video,

Basílica de la Sagrada FamíliaWe build tomorrow – Sep 25, 2013

I’ve never seen any of his work in person. Barcelona, Catalonia and Spain, where all of his structures are located, is out of my travel price range. But I’ve known of him by reputation for longer than I’ve actually known his name. Images of his works are almost unmistakably marked with the stamp of his unique genius. Only very recently has his style of design be utilized, and then only by a select few architects like Frank Gehry, are these flowing, natural designs practiced. It takes aviation design software to achieve what Gaudi did with strings and weights hanging from his ceiling back in the 192o’s.

That is Gaudi.

Bridge

From everything that man erects and builds in his urge for living nothing is in my eyes better and more valuable than bridges. They are more important than houses, more sacred than shrines. Belonging to everyone and being equal to everyone, useful, always built with a sense, on the spot where most human needs are crossing, they are more durable than other buildings and they do not serve for anything secret or bad.

Ivo Andrić, Nobel prize winner for literature
John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge – Wikipedia

The Great Bridge: The Epic Story of the Building of the Brooklyn Bridge – Roebling’s more famous suspension bridge. I found it a gripping read, much like another work by David McCullough, The Wright Brothers.

Accessible?

Support groups for the disabled are frequently a lifesaver for people who have limited access to humans with sympathy/empathy for what they are going through. I participate in several online support groups for Meniere’s, the invisible disability that I am cursed with. The image above/right was posted in one of the private groups I’m part of; and when I went looking for the image I discovered it was all over the web in various forms, many of them heartlessly defaced by trolls who think that all the disabled people should get out and get a job, you lazy bums!

In the Meniere’s group where the image was posted one of the commenters asked why the third guy from the right is leaning on an upside down dildo. He made me laugh with his question, and we riffed on that back and forth for awhile. But the question got me thinking, which is why I went online looking for the origin of the image and stumbled across all the troll variations of it and the casual cruelty of the unafflicted that comes with that territory.

International symbology is one of those things that, having once been an architect, I have an inside track on understanding. Here’s what the symbology means, officially:

  • Arm missing
  • Blind (universal symbol for services for the blind)
  • Crutches (injured get preferential access. Hospital signage)
  • Wheelchair (universal symbol of accessibility)
  • Walker (Accessibility, limited walking capability)
  • Elderly (Not a disability, dammit!)
  • Leg missing
  • Invisible Disability (You’re disabled? You look normal)

I had a hand in documenting signage for Austin-Bergstrom International Airport back in the day. I know the symbology; or rather, I know where to go looking for the official definitions for the symbols. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has over 6k images in their online database now. Here is a link to the symbol for priority access for elderly people. The American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) has a list of fifty symbols commonly used in transit hubs, the kinds of places where symbolic communication is essential since communication in a common language may not be possible.

Most of the symbols in the invisible disability image are not standard, but crafted in the helvetica style adopted by international symbology. There is no ISO symbol for missing limbs because that disability is too specific to a particular person not a generalizable disability requiring recognizable symbols that give directions. Well, maybe at the Veterans Administration where they have amputees waiting for years to get care. They probably have queue signage and queues that go on for blocks.

However, the illustrator that created the invisible disability image left off one of the most common disability symbols, the symbol for services for the deaf. It doesn’t fit the theme, but deafness is a pretty common disability and just leaving them out of the image sells their disability short. This is something I’m sensitive to since I’ll probably be deaf one day myself.

While looking for the origins of the illustration, I stumbled across the dildo dude, who can be seen in this Shutterstock image, as well as a couple of the other symbols. I also discovered a movement afoot to update the accessibility symbol with something that looks like it was designed this century, instead of last century, Accessibleicon.org. I can’t say I’m promoting their defacement of standard signage because I have an uncontrollable twitch when it comes to graffiti, an urge to reach out and snap off the arm of the person defacing public property. But I do like the updated symbology. I was never very fond of the old symbol in the first place.

Moneyland

Ordinary people wouldn’t want to live there. Because if you went there, there is no social life, there’s no… there’s no nothing. These… it’s almost dead environments. So what this is, it has turned parts of our major cities, places like London and New York, it’s turned them now into essentially bank accounts. Bank accounts in the form of bricks and mortar.

Oliver Bullough, author of Moneyland
Fresh Air – How Oligarchs, Kleptocrats & Crooks Stash Fortunes – May 1, 2019

Trump properties have over 700 units that are held by untraceable shell companies. Tell me again how he isn’t a crook. Caveat Emptor.

Notre Dame Fire

If 2019 is remember for anything, it will probably be remembered for this event. Notre Dame, one of the only structures to have survived for as long as it has (850 years) without major damage, has been nearly destroyed by fire.

Workmen engaged in renovation of the structure accidentally set the massive wooden beams that support the roof on fire, and the fire detection systems were confusing and inadequate. This resulted in there being a massive blaze, visible outside the building, before the firefighters had a chance to put the fire out. Most of the interior of the building is a total loss.

This building was more than a religious icon. The impact of its loss will be hard to measure. Emotional. Spiritual. Architectural. Thank goodness that the damage was as limited as it was. That the structure is still apparently intact except for the roof.

Feature image found here, credited to the Associated Press . This article was backdated to the date that the event occurred. Written 12/28/19.


Notre Dame Cathedral was unable to hold Christmas Eve mass for the first time in more than 200 years after a fire ravaged its structure in April.

French Catholics instead gathered at the church of Saint-Germain l’Auxerrois, a few hundred metres away from the Paris landmark, for a service celebrated by the cathedral’s rector Patrick Chauvet.

“It isn’t the same feeling but it’s still a Christmas mass,” said 16-year-old Juliette, who had made the 700km (435 miles) trip from Aix-en-Provence with her family. “There will be a thought for Notre Dame tonight, that’s for sure.”

The Guardian

The Last Man on Rainey Street

Haunting first person descriptions of the transition from low-income residential to high-priced commercial property. Right here in Austin.

StitcherATXplained – The Last Man On Rainey Street – February 14, 2019

ATXplained.org


The article on KUT’s site is here. The ATXplained podcast page doesn’t do the story justice, from a visual perspective.

“I always feel melancholy when I [think about leaving] this place. This is my home. Not only mine but mine in spirit. Hopefully you’ll understand. I’m saying this because maybe –”

Then the phone line cut out.

KUT – The Families Who Lived On Rainey Street All Left. But One Man Stayed.

June 3, 2019.

“Built in 1910 this is the last remaining residential home on Rainey St. A treasure in time ready to pass this Austin Gem over to the next steward to create their own legacy with a piece of Downtown Austin. These properties rarely go to market and awaiting your next concept, whether it be a Restaurant, Bar, Hotel or Music Venue, the options are endless with the CBD zoning.”

KUT.org – The Last Single Family Home on Rainey Street is For Sale

Carrying It Out With You

facebook.com/Stonekettle

twitter.com/schwellenbach

I never stopped being a Boy Scout, myself. When I pack stuff in, that same stuff comes back out with me. Why? Because it is my mess and I clean up my messes. This is the way I live my life.

We recently were in Illinois helping family with a crisis in the making (it’s still in the making, but it may be averted soon) we stayed for a week in a hotel. During our stay, I separated the garbage for the maids into plastic, food waste, etc. They were like “oh, we don’t do recycling”. I still seperated the trash anyway. Why? Because pointing out a deficiency in a status quo is how you get the status quo changed. Every day we spoke to them they apologized for not doing recycling there. With any luck the word got back to a manager and maybe, one day, they’ll take waste management seriously. I’m a dreamer like that.

At least I did something instead of doing nothing. I don’t go to national parks. I don’t spend much time outside because everything that grows is trying to kill me. I am the poster child for a moon colonist. “No green growies? I’m good with that.” I don’t believe in trash. I don’t believe that you can just discard things and they disappear. In a closed system, waste builds up. This is why we have such a hard time establishing self-sustaining ecologies like the habitations we will need for a moon colony.

Waste byproducts limit the time the habitation is viable. That is why a bottle of wine or a bottle of beer gets to about 6% alcohol. Alcohol is the waste product of the yeast on the skins of grapes. The yeast added to the vats of barley malt used to make beer. 6% waste built up in the closed system of vats or bottles and the yeast dies. It dies and we get a beverage that alters our brain chemistry. It also happens to be sterile when prepared properly, the real reason most of our ancestors were drunk pretty much every day of their lives. Water straight out of the river might well kill you in days because of the animal and human waste in it.

Think about what that means. Think about the trash now piling up all over the planet, not just in the parks that currently have no maintenance staff. The trash everywhere that we so casually throw away every, single, day. It’s a feature of human habitation that archeologists find quite useful. The mounds of discarded refuse outside of every place we’ve ever lived in large groups. We now have how many billions? Is it still eight? How long can we little yeast organisms shit out our waste and leave it laying around on every surface near us before we kill the closed system we call Earth?

Pro-labor? I’m pro-future, myself.

This Trump shutdown (#ImpeachTrump for failure to execute his duties. His duties? Keep the government running) presents an opportunity. Concerned citizens who do use the parks regularly should form an organization that tasks itself with protecting the parklands. A charitable organization whose sole duty is to make sure that public lands are protected, even when the government itself is the organization that is destroying the parks. If the Boy Scouts were the organization that they were when I was teen in the scouts, this would be a project they would eagerly take up. It’s too bad those scouts are long gone.

Postscript

This was written during that time when President Trump refused to do his job for a month and sat on the White House lawn sulking like a child. They finally impeached him at the end of the year, but failed to mention the fact that he just wouldn’t do his job for a month. Most likely, they failed to mention that he was derelict in his duties because some of them had been derelict in their duties for a few decades by that point.

I had just been surrounded by Trumpists in rural Illinois, as I tangentially mentioned. Trumpists that I agreed to help because I was related to them and cared about them in spite of their horrible choice in leaders.

That whole episode is something I’d like to block from my memory now. The months spent working on renovation plans all for nothing. The contractor we found rejected because he was one of those pedophile Democrats that couldn’t be trusted. The renovation work done by a local cabinet maker that my relatives loved for some inexplicable reason. I don’t even know that he knew how to pour concrete properly, but they liked his dysfunctional layouts better than mine. I imagine that they still can’t find a place for furniture in that bedroom.

I don’t know why I wrote this piece on Facebook and not on the blog. It’s on the blog now. Featured image from Fast Company – Government Shutdown Update Americas Once-Beautiful National Parks Are Overrun With Trash. They borrowed it from Twitter, in case you didn’t notice.