Monday, January 8, 2018

My Remarkable Grand-Uncle Max Leibowitz

As the images in this posting show, my Grand-Uncle Max Leibowitz was a remarkable artist in aluminum sheet-metal. He was also one of my favorite relatives. Although he lived in the Bronx, he'd often travel to Brooklyn for our Friday family evening dinners in the basement apartment of his older Brother, my Grandfather Louis, and my Grandmother Lena.

Uncle Max would always bring an excellent cake, purchased at the wonderful Jewish bakery on Brighton Beach Avenue, beneath the elevated BMT station. My Parents, Ruth and Morris, my younger Brother Lee, and I would be so happy to see him! When I was small, he'd grab my hands and lift me with his powerful arms. Then he'd spin around, with the centrifugal force lifting my legs up in the air. 
Some examples of the aluminum sheet-metal artistry of my Grand-Uncle Max Leibowitz.
[Upper left] A trio of aluminum sheet-metal penguins (always remind me of the wonderful kids book "Mr. Popper's Penguins") and a spectacular elephant with a canopied seat fit for Russia's Queen Katherine the Great.
[Lower left] A shoehorn with a "V" for my wife Vi and a jewelry box made for her.
[Right] This woodcut of Max was done by Isaac Friedlander in 1957. (Thanks to Cousin Fran for the image. I remember Uncle Max gave us a print, and it hung in the 2nd-floor walk-up one bedroom apartment where my parents, brother, and I lived. I have no idea where it is now.) 


Uncle Max came to the US from Russia [see NOTE below]. Like many others in the Russian Jewish community in the early 1900's, he left his home country to escape poverty and pogroms. (Like those in the classic play and movie "Fiddler on the Roof".)

Uncle Max's sheet-metal artistry was strictly a hobby. He was a professional sheet-metal craftsman. His regular job involved creating models for products that were later put into production for customers. 

I believe Max's Brother, my Grandfather Louis, came to the US first. Louis was the eldest of 13 siblings, and newly married. He was followed by his brother Max, and sisters Dora, Fanny, and Zelda. An upholsterer, Grandpa Louis was also an artist in his trade, as were his sisters Zelda (a woman's fashion designer) and Fanny (who designed costumes and fashions for Hollywood productions).

Most of Louis and Max's other brothers and sisters remained in Russia. I do not know how many survived WWII, but, after that war, my Grandfather exchanged letters with at least one Brother, Yasha.

Max's first wife was a taciturn woman named Irene. They had one daughter, who moved away to Mexico and married well. When Irene passed away, Max started taking ballroom dancing lessons and ended up marrying the instructor, Barbara. The product of that romance is my cousin Hope ("Tiki" in Hebrew), who now lives in Canada, and is a Facebook friend of mine. 

When I posted photos of Uncle Max's artwork to Facebook, my cousin Fran and my daughter Lisa posted photos of some of his artwork they happened to own. Also, Fran's brother, my cousin Philip, posted that he feels like he is channeling Uncle Max when he is in his art studio!


The only photo of Uncle Max I could find for my Facebook posting was this one. It shows Max, his wife Barbara, and daughter Hope at my wedding in 1964. I'll continue to look for an additional photos. If any cousins who read this happen to have one, please email and I'll be happy to add it. advTHANKSance!

[Upper left] Uncle Max at our 1964 wedding with his wife Barbara and daughter Hope "Tiki" Leibowitz, now one of my Facebook friends.
Others in photo (from left) are cousin Adele "Delly" and her parents Izzy and Diane Levine; Vi and Ira; and friends of my parents, the Aufrichtigs and Kaufmans


After I posted my pictures to Facebook, my Daughter Lisa and Cousin Fran posted photos they had. I especially appreciate the woodcut image of Uncle Max provided by Cousin Fran.

A dresser tray and my Grand-Aunt Zelda's hair ornament, created by Uncle Max. (Photo from Zelda's Grand-Daughter, my Cousin Fran.)

A dog created by Uncle Max. My Daughter Lisa proudly displays it on her mantle at home. (Thanks for the photo Lisa!)

Close-up image of a penguin and elephant created by Uncle Max. 

NOTE: My Grandfather always said they were from the Russian city of Ekaterinoslav (Russian: Екатериносла́в, translit. Yekaterinoslav). However, although they considered themselves ethnically Russian, it appears they were from an area that is actually in the Ukraine!

After the Russian revolution, Ekaterinoslav, originally named in honor of Katherine the Great, was renamed Dnepropetrovsk, (Russian: Днепропетро́вск), because it is on the Dneiper River. Dnepropetrovsk is in the Ukrainian section of the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR).

If you've been following current events, you may know that, after the breakup of the USSR, Ukraine became independent. The two eastern provinces, which have majority Russian ethnic populations, have been in a tug-of-war between the main part of Ukraine and the Russian Federation. The Dneiper River is the dividing line between the contesting parties.

In 2016, Dnepropetrovsk was renamed Dnipro (Ukrainian: Дніпро).

Ira Glickstein

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Unveiling Rena Moyer's Gravestone

Unveiling Rena's Gravestone. Milton, GA (north of Atlanta), 11 November 2017
Today, in accordance with the Jewish custom to unveil the gravestone a year after death, family members and friends of Rena Moyers gathered at the Milton Fields Green Cemetery, north of Atlanta, to remember and celebrate her life. Her husband, David Moyers, her mother and father Vi and Ira Glickstein, her sister Lisa Glickstein, her nieces Michaela and Samantha Hagler, and brother-in-law Jerry Hagler were joined by Rena's caretaker Harriet Frempong and her husband Yaw.

The service was beautifully conducted by Chaplain Lamora of Tranquility Center at Cobb Hospice in Austell, GA. Like Rena's life, which ended all too soon at the age of 49, the service was brief but so very meaningful. It is said that a good entertainer always leaves the audience wanting more. A great one packs more meaning into fewer moments. Chaplain Lamora read several traditional Hebrew blessings (in English) and recalled her memories of Rena during her time in Hospice. Rena's mother, Vi, and her husband David, and others, made brief comments, and Samantha read a poem that Lisa thoughtfully brought along.

There was a slight chill in the air, but it was a beautiful day at the Milton Fields Green Cemetery. As the photos indicate, Milton Fields is a very green "natural burial ground" with flat, horizontal grave markers rather than vertical headstones.

Last year, during the week of her passing, the following seven Blog postings recalled some of the highlights of Rena's life, as a sort of virtual "sitting shiva". According to Wikipedia, Shiva (Hebrew: שבעה‎‎, literally "seven") is the week-long mourning period for first-degree relatives. The ritual is referred to as "sitting shiva". According to Jewish law, we assume the status of "avel" (Hebrew: אבל; "mourner"). This state lasts for seven days, during which family members traditionally gather and receive visitors.

In our modern times, when families live all over the US and the World, and where literal belief is scarce, it isn't really practical for first-degree relations to sit around on couches in the living room for a week wearing slippers. Therefore, I thought it fitting for those closest to the deceased to make a special effort to remember her (at least) during the week of her departure.

September 11, 2016 - Rena passed away
1) September 12, 2016 - Rest In Peace Rena Moyers, Our Adult Child Who Passed Before We Did
2) September 13, 2016 - Mr.and Mrs. David and Rena Moyers - Their Wedding (and Drama Afterwards)
3) September 14, 2016 - Remembering Rena - Growing Up in Rural Upstate New York
4) September 15, 2016 - Remembering Rena - Education and Professional Life - Tale of Three Shirts
5) September 16, 2016 - Mourner's Kaddish for Rena Moyers
6) September 17, 2016 - Remembering Auntie Rena - Five Nieces and Nephews
7) September 18, 2016 - Remembering Rena - We Will Remember You FOREVER

Ira Glickstein

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Fake Feminists, Hollywood Hypocrites, and the NoBodyCares (NBC) About Democratic Sex Scandals Network

In an EMERGENCY meeting yesterday, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences kicked out one of their most famous and successful movie producers. Harvey Weinstein is accused, by three dozen women, of unwanted "casting couch" sexual advances over decades. This is a case where, apparently "EVERYBODY" in Hollywood knew, and even joked about it at award ceremonies, revealing themselves as Fake Feminists and Hollywood Hypocrites.
Good for Rachel Maddow! She conducted a very timely interview of Ronan Farrow. He broke the Weinstein sexual harassment story at the New Yorker, after Maddow's colleagues and management at the NBC network killed his story. 
Lets call it the NoBodyCares about Democratic sex scandals NBC network from now on.
Ronan Farrow, once a full-time MSNBC host and NBC News correspondent, got the story and had multiple witnesses statements and videos, as well as a 2015 NYPD audio tape of Weinstein's misconduct, but NBC management killed the story. Apparently, at NBC, NoBodyCares about Democratic sex scandals!  

Rachel Maddow deserves credit for breaking ranks with her NBC colleagues and interviewing Farrow on her program in a timely manner.

NBC is the network that had the Billy Bush "Access Hollywood" tape of Donald Trump, in 2005,  making extremely lewd remarks about his treatment of women. However, that was in 2005, when Trump was registered as a DEMOCRAT in his native New York City, and  the tape was securely locked away.

It was not until 2016, when Trump became the REPUBLICAN nominee for President, that the devastating tape finally saw the light of day. Further proof that NBC is the NoBodyCares about Democratic sex scandals network. They were right to release the tape because Trump is a public  figure, but why did they protect him when he was a Democrat?

Ira Glickstein

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Coyote Chorus - Another View of the NFL Controversy

[From Bill Lifka. Graphic by Ira.]

Group Yip Howl

Coyotes vocalize more than any other of the canids, which include wolves, foxes and dogs. Like wolves and foxes, coyotes enjoy eating those dogs and cats which are sufficiently small for them to attack successfully.

For three nights now, a coyote family group has sung its chorus probably no more than 50 yards beyond our fence. The song is one of 11 – 13 melodic compositions identified by an expert, each having a distinctive meaning. It’s a chorus because this particular tune requires at least two of the animals, but usually more. In our case, it’s the alpha male, his alpha female mate and their three beta offspring.

Their composition is called the Group Yip Howl. The alpha male howls, the alpha female “screams, gargles and laughs” and the beta coyotes yip randomly. The purpose of all this noise is to note their separating for individual hunts or their coming together after these hunts. The racket can be heard for two miles and notifies other coyote packs how many are in this pack. In this manner, coyote packs space themselves for optimum hunting territories. Also, in the mysterious ways of nature, coyote litters become smaller when the territories are crowded and larger when territories are less densely populated.

NFL Controversy

The first time I heard this Group Yip Howl, it reminded me of any news program on CNN or the other leftist TV channels as they spew out their hatred over President Trump’s “stealing” the election from Hillary. Currently, it’s the flap over NFL players kneeling during the playing of the National Anthem before football games. The president commented on this disrespectful behavior in his usual colorful fashion to afford the media another opportunity to label him as a racist.

As every Progressive knows, being a racist is much worse than having a traitorous discussion with Russians and all discussions with Russians must be traitorous, according to their current dogma. Before the purpose of “taking the knee” morphed into any number of imaginary grievances, it signified opposition to the “practice” of police officers shooting Black males in increasing numbers. It made no difference that actual data shows exactly opposite results.

But President Trump’s remarks gave the Progressive Media Moguls a tangible target, or so they thought.  I must have heard/seen Trump’s remarks two dozen times or more. It was unavoidable if I turned on the TV. No matter how I tried, I couldn’t understand the racist charges. Beyond that, all who know Trump regard him to be color blind. On the other hand, Trump is an insulter, but he’s an equal opportunity insulter.

Trump is also not as dumb as the Media Mavens pretend. He defined “taking the knee” as a direct insult to the military personnel fighting and dying in Afghanistan. In that interpretation, it’s not easy to sympathize with the kneelers. Despite wanting to pacify their Black players, some NFL teams just didn’t show up on field until after the playing of the anthem. Some stood and linked arms as a sign of “solidarity”. Some continued to allow those who wanted to kneel do so regardless of many fans’ opposition. 

Tune in any CNN news program involving a panel and see a human Group Yip Howl of which a coyote pack would be proud. The alpha male howls. The alpha female screams, gargles and laughs. The beta panelists yip and yip and yip. Their purpose is to rip and tear apart America.
I was kneeling in church on Sunday, thinking about how poorly designed are the kneelers in the pews of every Catholic Church in my experience. (In the beginning, churches had no kneelers; in fact there were no seats, either.) If the pew designers would move the kneelers just four inches more from the seat backs immediately in front they’d calibrate with the kneeling human form more comfortably. (Perhaps a little bit of torture is intended.)

Are We Misjudging NFL Players?

[Sarcasm warning] And then, it struck me that we may be misjudging the NFL players who “take the knee”. Since the time of Alexander the Great, the person who knelt before another was demonstrating reverence or submission. Also, Christians and Muslims kneel in prayer. Perhaps some of the NFL players knelt for those reasons. I imagined what I might be thinking (or praying) if I were a player of that mind.

Dear God (or Uncle Sam), I am eternally grateful for all the blessings which have come my way as a citizen of this great country. If not through chance, I’d be a native of an African country with terrible housing, food, sanitation and health care. The government would be hopelessly corrupt. Unknown plagues would ravage my family and countrymen regularly. Just as regularly, hordes of neighboring tribesmen would attack without warning and carry off my sisters and my wife after killing me and my male friends because we hadn’t adequate weapons to defend us and our loved ones. At best, I’d be captured and sold into slavery in some remote part of the world. 

Of course, that’s what happened to my distant ancestors with the good fortune to be transported to America and the bad fortune it was in irons in the hold of a slave ship. Some were treated very badly and others somewhat better but all had to work hard for a white man’s gain and all had no freedom, which was the worst aspect of their situation. Nevertheless, they were alive and they sired descendants who came to be free and equal citizens. The real blessing was the Constitution that enabled this freedom and opportunity to become prosperous but it might not have been as promised if not for the deaths of 600,000 white men as the price of my freedom and the $ trillions spent in an intent to restore what slavery had lost. 

I’m thankful I grew strong and fast to qualify for this sport. I’m not a good student as are some of my race.  However, I’ve been idolized through high school and college for playing this game and, except for a few hard knocks on the field, I’ve had a fantastic life so far. My coaches kept me on the straight and narrow path to avoid the fate of my childhood friends: early death or jail. I was lucky to tire of all the partying and find the cheerleader of my choice had home management skills beyond wiggling her butt. I think what I’m paid to play this game is ridiculous; all because these White folks pay to see me play. The brothers kneeling besides me are paid an average salary in one year that equals what’s paid to two soldiers who stay on active duty for thirty years, if they avoid having their legs blown off by an IED. They need better agents.  
What it comes down to is I’m the luckiest son of a bitch in this stadium and it’s time I started thinking of payback beyond taking my lumps today and dealing out a few myself. I can make an effort to show some of the young brothers on the street there’s a life beyond dope and killing. I’ll give it more than a try, I promise. I owe it to America.

Is it possible one of the kneeling players could be thinking that way? I’d like to think there are more than one. But it only takes one. Only one started the whole sorry thing.

Bill Lifka


Sunday, September 24, 2017

Beyond Communism - the Emergence of a Newly Prosperous and Increasingly Capitalist CHINA!

OUR CHINA TRIP - An Overview

LEFT: At Shanghai China Disney World, my "Chairman Mao"  hat attracted a software engineer who works for Alibaba (Chinese version of Amazon) for an interesting discussion. MIDDLE: At Disney with three of my favorite  women, my Wife Vi, Daughter Lisa, and Granddaughter Michaela. RIGHT: Brooklyn T-Shirt atop the Great Wall of China
Vi and I visited China in September 2017, starting with a standard professionally-guided tour of Beijing, Xian, and Shanghai. We added a self-directed visit to Suzhou where our Granddaughter Michaela, a Hospitality major at Purdue University, was in the midst of a six month internship at a hotel. We also visited Shanghai Disney World, along with our daughter Lisa (Michaela's mother) who was on a separate tour of China, and Anna, a fellow intern with Michaela. We are indebted to each of them (Lisa, Michaela, and Anna) for guiding and helping two elder travelers during these off-tour activities. The Chinese people we met, including those being paid to serve us as well as total volunteers with little or no knowledge of English, were uniformly helpful and kind.

A visit of fewer than a dozen days to four popular business and tourist areas in China certainly does not make me any kind of expert on this topic. Therefore, please accept this posting as the questionable opinions of a rather casual observer. Like the "Pussy cat" in the well-known ditty*, I have well-worn interests and biases. *Pussy cat, pussy cat,, where have you been? I've been to London to visit the Queen. Pussy cat, pussy cat, what saw you there? I saw a little mouse under a chair. Yes, the cat missed all the finery and luxury of the Queen's palace in favor of that lowly mouse under the chair! Perhaps we all miss some majestic sights as we are drawn to the familiar?

Vi in Tiananmen Square where Chairman Mao's portrait hangs prominently. His visage appears on Chinese currency. 
We found China to be surprisingly modern and prosperous, with open, helpful, and accepting people who seemed genuinely happy to have us visit, anxious to try out their often limited (but sometimes quite good) English. They are in the midst of revolutionary changes in their economic and political systems. The situation may be very different in other areas of China, particularly some less developed "autonomous regions" such as those with substantial non-Han Chinese populations.

No More "True Believer" Marxists in the World?

Both Russia and China are far more "Capitalistic" than you might expect, and are rapidly moving in that positive direction.

Our experiences in "Communist" China confirmed our experiences from a brief visit to "Communist" St. Petersburg, Russia, a few years ago, . There are no longer any really "true believer" Marxists left in the World (except for a few Professors teaching at Universities in the US and other Western countries :^)

The core ideal at the heart of Marxist Socialism "From each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs" is certainly heart-warming, but does not stand up to any serous analysis. It flies in opposition to basic human  nature! Most of us will not voluntarily work to the maximum of our abilities unless we are rewarded for doing so, or punished if we fail to do so. Furthermore, most of  us will consume far more resources than we actually need unless we must personally bear the associated costs.

Thus, all attempts to implement Marxist ideals on a large scale, such as those of "Red" China and "Communist" Russia, as well as other extreme Socialist countries such as Venezuela, have resulted in either an Authoritarian police-state society, or, in the best case, Extreme Bureaucracy, general poverty, and pervasive scarcity. As Milton Friedman, one of my special heroes, quipped: "If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in 5 years there'd be a shortage of sand."

The only realistic and humane alternative is a market-oriented competitive Capitalistic system, with visible rewards for those who work to the limits of their abilities. Of course, to be truly humane, the system must provide necessary welfare protections for those who absolutely cannot find gainful employment.

George Orwell's Animal Farm

In George Orwell's 1945 classic Animal Farm, the Pigs [Communists] lead a revolt of their fellow animals [Proletariat] against the Man [Capitalist] who owns the farm. Their motto, “All animals are equal" is soon transformed to "All animals are equal, but some animals [the Pigs-Communists] are more equal than others.”

At the end, when the Pig-Communists move into the farmhouse, adopt the manners and lifestyle of humans, and align themselves with human society external to the Farm,  “The creatures outside [the farmhouse] looked from pig [Communist] to man [Capitalist], and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.”

Capitalistic China

Our first impressions of China were of Beijing airport, which, other than the crowds of Chinese people and signage, could have been any airport in the US or Europe. The taxi ride to our hotel plunged us into heavy traffic. Our driver (who spoke no English) showed his expertise in beeping and angling the taxi to prevent other cars from pulling in ahead of us. He had an uncanny ability to scoot from lane to lane and around other cars. He could have given cab-driver lessons in our native Brooklyn, NY!

Our Novotel Peace Hotel was modern and comfortable, with spectacular views from our 28th floor window, despite the somewhat smoggy air. The only negative surprise was the poorly-designed tub-shower that had a glass wall that blocked access to the water controls. You had to get fully into the tub to turn on the water. That meant you'd get splashed by the initially cold water. Furthermore, the tub, although not particularly deep, was way above the level of  the floor, a significant slipping hazard when getting out.

Our tour director, Lee, spoke excellent English, and shared well-received stories of his family life, including the hazards of the 1960's and 1970s "cultural revolution" and of his mother-in-law. In Xian we had a second leader, Peter, an expert who has worked on restoring the terracotta warriors. He too shared personal stories. He told us to look for him on a PBS documentary scheduled for release around the new year 2018.

Our bus comfortably accommodated the 26 members of our group. We soon became friendly with several of our tour-mates, including those from Bulgaria (now living in South Africa), Canada, England, and various  states in the US.

Flying and Touring Routine

The travel and tour was physically and mentally demanding, especially considering our ages, 75 and 78. We traveled by taxi from home to the Villages Transportation terminal at Spanish Springs, their Van to the Orlando FL airport, changing planes at Los Angeles CA, and again at Hong Kong for the flight to Beijing. That all took over 36 hours from home to hotel. We were exactly 12 hours off from our home time, so the "jetlag" was significant. The tour day usually started with a 7AM hotel  breakfast and an 8AM departure for sightseeing. There was a lot of walking, particularly the first few days at Tiananmen Square ("Temple of Peace"), the Forbidden City, and the Great Wall.

After the touring day, I usually ventured out alone, or at times with Vi, to walk the streets in the hotel vicinity, seeking a convenience store, supermarket, American fast-food, and so on. The streets were teeming with aggressive vendors and lined with small food shops, restaurants, and other stores. All, as far as I could tell, were strictly privately-owned and operated. I was impressed by large, multi-level and very modern shopping centers, featuring intentionally known brand names.

Scooters and bicycles, along with crowds of Chinese people, flowed along the sidewalks. I was continually surprised that no one ever seemed to get pushed or run over.

Crossing the street was an adventure! A plethora of people, cars, trucks, buses, scooters and bicycles seemingly regarded the traffic lanes and lights as mere decoration. I followed the advice of our tour leader and adopted a "sticky rice" strategy of embedding myself in a crowd of Chinese people and going with the flow.

After the organized tour, we had the opportunity to use taxis and public transportation, under the very able tutorship of Michaela and Anna. Both are excellent and inexpensive.

Bottled Water

Throughout our trip we were required  to use bottled water, and were told not to use tap water at the hotel for drinking or brushing our teeth. Drinking fountains were not generally available anywhere. The hotels provided two or four free small bottles that we usually put into the refrigerator. Additional water was an expense.

At airports, safe water was available for free, but it was either a choice between "hot" and "warm". I brought empty plastic water bottles through airport security and filled them with the "warm" water. Chilled water in bottles was available but cost around $2 each. I  noticed that some Chinese people had bottles with tea leaves in them, and they would use the "hot" water to make tea. The tea was weak and almost colorless since the tea leaves were used multiple times. At Disney they had safe water fountains, but that was an exception.

Internet Blocking in China

We had very good free Wi-Fi internet availability at Chinese airports (Beijing, Xian, and Shanghai) and at our fine hotels in those cities as well as in Suzhou. However, throughout our time in China, I could not gain access to my Google Groups or Google BlogSpot accounts. Facebook, however, continued to work OK. Our granddaughter (in the midst of her internship at a hotel in Suzhou) had suggested that I could use an app called "ExpressVPN", which, for a fee, would give us access to at least some of the blocked sites. However, the front desk agent who signed us in at our first hotel told me that ExpressVPN was not legal in China, and, since I had access to other internet features, I did not try to use ExpressVPN.

Cable TV Access in China

At each of the our hotels, we had access to many TV channels, in each case including several in English. All hotels had Bloomberg. Two had CNN, and some had the BBC, CNBC, and HBO, as well as an English-language Chinese station. However, I  never saw Fox News or Fox Business, nor did I see MSNBC. I don't know if this situation was due to blocking by the government or simply a matter of cost control by the hotels.

Some Highlights of Our China Tour

Please note that I generally do not take photos of the sights and scenery since better, professionally-taken photos are generally available online. Therefore, most of my photos feature images of family, friends, and me.

Beijing Area

Novotel Peace Hotel. The tour included: Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven, Great Wall, Ming Tombs, Rickshaw Tour, Home Lunch, Foot Massage, Big Wild Goose Pagoda.
Courtyard of private Chinese home where we enjoyed a wonderful meal with our tour group..
Note yellow bike on right is one of tens of thousands all over the city streets that can be unlocked by cellphone code and borrowed for a fee. 

Our Rickshaw Driver allowed me to sit in the driver's seat and pretend to pedal Vi around tte town.
Great Wall of China Panorama. TOP: Note Vi in blue sitting. BOTTOM: View looking upward as Wall rises steeply.

Xian ("She Ann") Area

Sheraton North City. The tour included: Elementary School Visit, Terracotta Warriors, Xian Old Market Area.
At an Elementary school in Xian. My student is Pang Zi Han, who wrote her name in Chinese and copied some English words for me. Vi sits with her student behind me. They asked for a volunteer to teach the class some English. I was the first. I drew the Earth, pointed out North, South, East and West, located China and USA, then I sketched a separate map of the United States noting New York where my wife and I were born and educated and worked, Florida where we retired, and California from where we flew to China.

Vi and I view the famous Terracotta Warriors. At the right is a "warrior" who looks a lot like me :^)

Shanghai Area

Hilton Jing'an. The tour included: Bund, Waterfront, Old Shanghai, Acrobats Variety Show.
Vi at Shanghai waterfront skyline. Vi on the Shanghai Bund takes the bull by the horn. 

Shanghai Disney World (on our own with Lisa, Michaela, and Anna).

Suzhou ("Sue Joe") Area

Jingi Lake Grand Hotel (where Michaela and Anna are interning).

Michaela and Anna arranged a walk and a golf-cart tour around the lush forested grounds and lake. Vi relaxed as Michaela and I used their impressive and humongous swimming pool and hot tubs.

Michaela and Anna took me, by taxi, to the old town area, intending to visit the museum. It turned out the museum happened to be closed, which was fortunate! We walked along narrow a narrow alley with shops on both sides, along their canals (reminiscent of Venice), took a woman-powered canal boat tour (and she sang!). We consumed a freshly-made waffle cones with ice cream and jelly balls.
In the lobby of the Suzhou Jingi Lake Grand Hotel where our Granddaughter Michaela, a Hospitality major at Purdue University, is interning. 

Suzhou. China - we went to museum by taxi but it was closed. turned out great because we walked down narrow lanes, dodging scooters and bikes. We walked along the canals and got to ride a canal boat

Suzhou China - fantastic pool and hot tub complex in hotel where Michaela is interning.

She is a competitive swimmer and treated Vi and me to dinner at her hotel using two awards

earned by winning swimming races against other hotel personnel.

Suzhou China - freshly made waffle cone after wonderful singing woman-powered canal boat

Journey with Michaela and Anna. ZOOM IN TO SEE WAFFLE COME!
Early Evening Suzhou Lake View - TOP: Note Ira and Michaela near right edge. BOTTOM: Chinese family enjoys life. 

Shanghai Pudong Airport Area

Ramada Plaza Pudong Airport Hotel. Our 5th-floor room overlooked the airport. We could see the terminal and the planes. We had dinner and breakfast at  the hotel.

We took the hotel courtesy van to the Shanghai Pudong Airport, changing planes at Hong Kong, changing again to San Francisco CA, changing again to Charlotte NC, and getting off the plane then on again to Orlando FL for the Villages Transportation van and taxi home. Again over 36 hours with a 12-hour time difference. We each had a bit of digestive upset and health issues, but they were mostly remedied by the medications Vi thoughtfully brought along.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Google Software Engineer Who WROTE "not Wisely but Too Well"

James Damore, a Google software engineer, was fired on August 7, 2017 for writing an internal email memo that went viral. It has been characterized as an "Anti-Diversity Screed" and an "anti-diversity manifesto". Read the memo here: Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber. If you have not personally read it through, you are, IMHO, not entitled to an opinion on this issue.

Having read it, along with comments and arguments from all sides, including Google management, I think it was unwise for Damore to have written the memo in these "politically correct" times. Although you and I may disagree with some of the points he makes, his memo is, if anything, too well-written!

Damore wrote "not wisely but too well" (paraphrasing Shakespeare).
Othello Act 5, scene 2, 340–346
Damore, along with my wife and myself, are members of a group that is way-over-represented in High-Tech and Science (as well as virtually all professions requiring high levels of intelligence and creativity), namely Jewish-Americans!

Though constituting only a small percentage of the US population, Jewish-Americans make up an order of magnitude higher proportion of the student body at the best universities. Naturally, this carries over into employment in High-Tech jobs, like those at Google. (We have this in common with Asian-Americans.)

[Sarcasm ON] In the name of "diversity" should we institute an "affirmative action" program for non-Jewish Caucasians? [Sarcasm OFF]

(Do a Google on "over representation of Jews" and you will see such suggestions, and worse, from self-described "White Identity" racists.)

My wife and I had long, successful careers in High Tech, she as a Lead Software Engineer and I as a Senior System Engineer, both for IBM (and Lockheed-Martin) in Owego, NY. At that time, the imbalance between male and female employees in High Tech was greater than it is now. My wife and I have worked with highly qualified women in High Tech jobs, women who were at least as good as our male colleagues. My wife was well-recognized as one of the very best Lead Software Engineers by her fellow engineers, management, and customers!

Despite a strong "diversity" commitment by Google leaders over an extended period of time, male employees in Google High Tech jobs outnumber females about 80% to 20%. That is an over-representation factor of two compared to their percentage of the population. In non-High-Tech jobs at Google, the percentages of males and females are about equal.

As I read Damore's memo, he clearly has had a positive impression of his female colleagues. As far as has been reported, over the five years he has been employed at Google, he has not been charged with any sort of "sexism" or other bad conduct on the job.

His main point is that females, on average, have different strengths and weaknesses compared to their male colleagues, and that much of that difference has to do with basic biology. The Wikipedia account is here: Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber.

Damore writes, in part:
Possible non-bias causes of the gender gap in tech
​At Google, we’re regularly told that implicit (unconscious) and explicit biases are holding women back in tech and leadership. Of course, men and women experience bias, tech, and the workplace differently and we should be cognizant of this, but it’s far from the whole story.

On average, men and women biologically differ in many ways. These differences aren’t just socially constructed because:
  • They’re universal across human cultures
  • They often have clear biological causes and links to prenatal testosterone
  • Biological males that were castrated at birth and raised as females often still identify  and act like males
  • The underlying traits are highly heritable
  • They’re exactly what we would predict from an evolutionary psychology perspective
Note, I’m not saying that all men differ from all women in the following ways or that these differences are “just.” I’m simply stating that the distribution of preferences and abilities of men and women differ in part due to biological causes and that these differences may explain why we don’t see equal representation of women in tech and leadership. Many of these differences are small and there’s significant overlap between men and women, so you can’t say anything about an individual given these population level distributions.
To take a non-controversial example (not mentioned by Damore) males are about two standard deviations taller than females (on the "Normal" Curve). Thus, the average American male (5'9") is about 5" taller than the average American female (5'4"), which is less than 8% of the height of the average person (5'6.5"). A woman in the top 12% of all women would be taller than most men, and a man in the bottom 12% of all men would be shorter than most women. So the overlap is quite substantial.

However, if you were to set a minimum height of six feet (say for competitive basketball), fifty times as many men would qualify.  On the other hand,  if you were to set a maximum height of five feet four inches (say for competitive gymnastics), twice as many women would qualify. A mere 8% difference on average, could cause an over-representation factor several times greater.

[Added  17 Aug 2017] The inimitable Walter Williams has an amazing, deliciously dry and witty take on this issue, https://

Some excerpts here:
Google fired software engineer James Damore for writing a 10-page memo critical of the company's diversity policy. The memo violated the company's code of conduct by "advancing harmful gender stereotypes" by suggesting that biological factors were part of the cause for the male/female gap in the tech industry.  
I shall make the case that Google's actions were totally justified.  

Other than differences in certain physical attributes such as genitalia, capacity to give birth and the presence of functional mammary glands, males and females are identical in every other respect. Any remaining male/female differences are a direct result of oppression, discrimination and victimization by the larger society. To examine just one aspect of female victimization, let's examine the majors of female college students compared to their male counterparts.  
According to a study by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, there are significant sex differences in college majors. For example, though women and men are equally represented in the population at large, women make up only 17 percent of engineering degrees conferred compared to 83 percent conferred to men. How can such a gross disparity be explained? I recommend an investigation to discover whether colleges are steering women away from higher-paying fields such as engineering and into lower-paying fields such as education and social sciences. Seventy-seven percent of education majors are women and so are 64 percent of social sciences majors. 
One wonders how such a disparity among equals can exist. I have personally visited George Mason Univeristy's Volgenau School of Engineering. There are no signs forbidding women from becoming an engineering major. But just because there are no visible prohibitions doesn't mean there is no evil plot against women. A number of years ago, I took a tour of UC Berkeley College of Engineering. Not only did I observe a paucity of women but also, because of the racial appearances of the students in some of the classes, I could have easily been in Asia. 
Colleges have the power to ensure that there are just as many female as male engineering majors. They can mandate that fewer female freshmen major in social sciences and education and instead major in engineering. To balance this all out they can disallow large numbers of men from majoring in engineering and instead force them to major in education or the social sciences. 
Although Damore's memo was seen by Google as "advancing harmful gender stereotypes," at least he didn't make any suggestion of male/female IQ differences. Doing so would have led not only to his firing but being ordered to leave the state of California. ...  
You say, "Are you serious, Williams? Or are you making light of the Google firing of James Damore?" My vision is that Damore has the right to say whatever he wishes about the company's racist and sexist diversity policy, and Google has the right to fire him for saying it. [Emphasis mine]
Please use the Comment feature to share your views. advTHANKSance!

Ira Glickstein

Saturday, August 12, 2017

How Climate Science Has Gone Astray

Here is a great August 2017 YouTube video interview of Judith Curry, PhD. She explains how Climate Science got mixed up with Politics and went astray - AND - how she was "thrown out of the tribe" for expressing her expert, but contrary, views. I generally agree with Curry.

For more information, see the World's Most Viewed Global Warming and Climate Website.

I happen to be a Guest Contributor at that website:

Ira Glickstein