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Wednesday, January 31, 2024

AMERICANA / TWO SIMPLE IDEAS TO FIX OUR GOVERNMENT


LET THE DEBATES BEGIN

1. Give the winner of the popular vote in Presidential elections 50 electoral votes.  That would give more reason to capturing more votes than your opponent.  Isn't that the premise of all elections?  He/she who gets the most votes wins?  

By giving the popular vote winner one electoral vote that makes the electoral college system truer than the present usage.

One electoral vote per state is the reward for winning the popular vote.  For example, if Iowa gives 10 electoral votes to the winner of the popular vote in that state why not give one vote per state to the winner of the popular vote.  Why not?

This would fix the Electoral College system without destroying it altogether.

2.  If laws are enacted that state any proposition must pass by two-thirds of the voters such propositions mandating 2/3rds ceiling to pass should pass by two-thirds of the voters.  Think about it.  It defies logic to mandate a 2/3rds requirement to pass legislation by a simple majority of the vote.

If it's good for the goose why not the gander?  Makes sense, right?

Next time you run into an elected official ask them about the two ideas above.

Watch them dance.

The writer of this blog post is an independent voter and offers it in the spirit of sparking a town hall debate, a debating system that has roots in the founding of this nation.

First an idea then comes the solution.  

If you like these ideas, please understand there are no organized groups espousing such ideas.  It's all yours--as in marriage--for better or worse.  Go for it.

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

AMERICANA / 1PIX=1K WORDS / NEW FACES OF PRO FOOTBALL

 

Taylor Swift, right, and Brittany Mahomes react during the third quarter of an NFL AFC division playoff football game between the Buffalo Bills and the Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, Jan. 21, 2024, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Monday, January 29, 2024

MEDIA MONDAY / AI TEXT DEAD GIVEAWAYS


Image: WikiCommons.

These Words Make it Obvious That Your Text is Written By AI 

GUEST BLOG / By James Presbitero, Writer, from Medium via Practice in Public—The following 7 words in this article are painfully obvious. They make me cringe. They will make your reader cringe. 

 Have you ever read an article that made you say “This was made by AI”? 

We all have. 

Most of us are avid readers. We all read multiple articles a day and several books a month. Most of us write thousands of words every day. We all know what “human writing” sounds like. 

But until recently, I still couldn’t put a finger on it. 

Last November, I (photo, left) got a job as a Content Writer and Editor. Since then, I‘ve written and edited 12 to 20 articles every week. It was through this repetitive, highly systematic, and quite stimulating job responsibility where I noticed consistent giveaways to AI output. 

I learned how ChatGPT sounded to help my writers sound more human. And now I’m going to share these to you. 

Writing with AI 

This post isn’t to dismiss AI. 

We absolutely love AI, and I use it regularly. If you use it, more power to you — but it has to be in a way that feels and sounds human. You can’t be lazy just because of it. Compelling, human articles written with AI tools is high-powered and efficient writing. Articles that look and sound like AI is just trashy. 

That’s why I’m writing this. 

We writers can’t avoid AI, and we shouldn’t — we need to adapt and utilize any tools that the industry gives us and keep raising the standards of our craft. A big part of that is utilizing the efficiency and speed of AI, without compromising on your article’s humanity. 

So if you want to use AI to write your articles, make sure to edit out these words. 

1. Transformative 

Example: “Semantic web methodologies propose a transformative approach by enhancing the depth of search engine understanding.” AI giveaway: This obvious giveaway word overhypes whatever you’re trying to describe and sells it as something that changes the world. Not everything has to be “transformative.” It’s unnecessary and ostentatious. Edit: Remove. Often, removing it won’t change the message whatsoever. But if absolutely needed, change it to something more mundane and simple. 

2. Foster/fostering 

Example: “It establishes a cohesive visual identity, fostering a sense of reliability and professionalism.” AI giveaway: I particularly hate this word. It’s become a catch-all for writers who don’t know exactly what it is they are describing, and it’s so overused and non-descriptive. If I see more than two of these words in an entire article, I flag it. Edit: Change it into something more specific, descriptive, and context-appropriate. Like create, build, forge, nurture, etc. 

3. Tapestry/A tapestry of… 

Example: “Knowledge graphs leverage semantic relationships, transforming data into a rich tapestry of interconnected knowledge.” AI giveaway: ChatGPT uses this so often, and I’ve come to hate it with a passion. Anything connected doesn’t have to be a “tapestry” of anything. Sometimes they are just connected. Sometimes maybe even just related. Edit: Remove or rephrase. It’s a dead giveaway. 

4. This is about … / All about … 

Example: “The Crypto Pro Playbook is all about putting power back into your hands, allowing you to navigate the crypto landscape without unnecessary expenses.” AI giveaway: When you use “this is about …” or “X is all about …” in your article, I automatically assume that: • AI wrote your content, or • You don’t know what you’re talking about. Well-written content doesn’t say that “something is all about something else …”, they are vastly more specific. Edit: Change to something more specific and descriptive. 

5. Think of …as … Example: “Think of influential blogs and forums as your digital mentors.” AI giveaway: There are better ways to signal a metaphor. This specific turn of phrase is a pattern that many AI software repeat. Edit: Be more direct. Don’t tell readers to “think of it as …” They’re reading your work — they’re already thinking. 

6. Like/It’s like … 

Example: “It’s like having a front-row seat to the future of crypto — all from the comfort of your couch.” AI giveaway: Same as above, it’s a highly repetitive and recognizable pattern. Edit: Remove and rephrase your sentence. 

7. Not only … but also … 

Example: “E-commerce businesses leveraging pillar pages not only streamline user navigation but also position themselves as industry leaders” AI giveaway: It’s a highly repetitive and distinguishing pattern. And, it’s unnecessary. Grammarly is always insistent that I change it, and I think any editor will agree. The only times I like to use it is when the two points are: • Somewhat contrary to each other, • Not often linked together, or • Unexpected Edit: If it doesn’t fit any of the criteria above, just change the sentence to say “and.” Simplicity is always best. 

Bonus: Sentence length 

AI is bad at making great sentences. AI outputs tend to have unimpressive paragraph construction, mostly characterized by monotonous sentence length. There’s an easy fix. For more human-sounding content, switch up your sentence length. I like to use what I call the “short — long — short” format. 

For example, the first paragraph of this section 

Final thoughts 

Writing with AI is a very useful thing — and I firmly believe that writers who don’t adopt AI can be easily overtaken by those who do. But just because you’re using AI doesn’t mean you should be lazy. AI is still a long way off from copying a human writer off the bat. If you want to get the same level of quality, you need to be diligent in editing. 

Take out those 7 common dead giveaways of AI content and improve your writing in 2024. 

Sunday, January 28, 2024

SUNDAY REVIEW / REMARKABLE POEM FOR ANY DAY AND AGE

 

American poet Emily Dickinson as a teen.

Editor’s note: “'Hope' Is the Thing With Feathers” is believed to have been written in 1861. It was initially published posthumously in the second collection of Dickinson's work, Poems by Emily Dickinson, second series, in 1891. 

 HOPE IS THE THING WITH FEATHERS

POEM / By Emily Dickinson 

 Hope is the thing with feathers 

That perches in the soul, 

And sings the tune without words, 

And never stops at all. 

...

And sweetest in the gale is heard; 

And sore must be the storm 

That could abash the little bird 

That kept so many warm. 

...

 I’ve heard it in the chillest land, 

And on the strangest sea; 

 Yet, never, in extremity, 

It asked a crumb of me. 

Saturday, January 27, 2024

ONE TRACK MIND / LANDSLIDES CLOSE AMTRAK’S ICONIC SO. CALIF. ROUTE, AGAIN

Recently, Congress has allocated more than $50 million to repair landslide prone areas of Southern California railways.

AMTRAK’s popular Pacific Surfliner passenger route between San Diego and Los Angeles has temporarily shut down for at least the third time in as many years due to landslides on or near the tracks in the San Clemente CA area. Last week’s heavy rain storms along the California coast caused a landslide in San Clemente that damaged the Mariposa Trail bridge and rail service between Orange and San Diego Counties. No time has been given as to a return to service.

Friday, January 26, 2024

AMERICANA / THIS MAN CAN SIT ON THIS BLOG’S BOARD OF DIRECTORS ANY TIME HE CHOOSES.

Photograph of Al Gore by AP's Fabrice Coffrini/Getty Images

The other day CNN’s Ramishah Maruf wrote “Al Gore is stepping down from Apple’s Board of Directors—but only because he’s too old to be renominated.” 

 Apple reportedly has a longstanding policy that its directors cannot stand for reelection after reaching the age of 75. That means Gore’s time is up as he’s almost 76. He was appointed in 2003. 

 If Mr. Gore chooses this blog believes he will land on his feet as former U.S. Senators and Vice Presidents and Nobel Prize winners usually do (BTW: he's also won an Oscar and an Emmy in his career). 

If this 14-year-old PillartoPost.org daily online magazine that you are reading at this very moment had a board of directors we would extend Mr. Gore an invitation to join. 

Alas, given the age of Pillartopost.org founders, Al Gore is far too young to join our non-existent BOD. 

Lest we Forget: Al Gore, in full Albert Arnold Gore, Jr., (born March 31, 1948, Washington, D.C., U.S.), U.S. politician. He is the son of Albert Gore, who served in the U.S. Senate from Tennessee. 

After graduating from Harvard University, he briefly attended divinity school before serving in the Vietnam War as a military reporter (1969–71). He worked as a reporter for The Tennessean in Nashville (1971–76) while attending first divinity school and then law school at Vanderbilt University. 

He served in the U.S. House of Representatives (1977–85) and later the Senate (1985–93). 

A Democrat, he was Bill Clinton’s vice presidential running mate in 1992 and served two terms (1993–2001) as vice president under Clinton. 

As the Democratic presidential nominee in 2000, he won more than 500,000 more popular votes than Republican George W. Bush but narrowly lost the electoral vote (271–266). 

Gore subsequently devoted much of his time to environmental issues, and his 2006 film on global warming, An Inconvenient Truth, won an Academy Award for Best Documentary. For his environmental work, he received, with the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the 2007 Nobel Prize for Peace. In 2007 he also earned an Emmy Award for creative achievement in interactive television for Current TV, a user-generated-content channel he cofounded in 2005.—Britannica.

Thursday, January 25, 2024

THE FOODIST / JAMES BEARD CHEF NOMINEES UNVEILED

Rachel Sillcocks and chef Kristina Liedags Compton
of Hilda and Jesse in San Francisco.
 
Photo by Adahlia Cole, courtesy of Hilda and Jesse

The semifinalists for the 2024 James Beard Foundation Awards have officially been revealed, with many of the country’s top restaurant industry professionals getting lots of love. 

From Best New Restaurant nominees like Dakar NOLA, Foul Witch in New York, and My Loup in Philadelphia to pioneers like Lula Café in Chicago (Outstanding Hospitality), Pineapple & Pearls in D.C. (Outstanding Restaurant), and Jeremy Fox of Birdie G’s in Los Angeles (Outstanding Chef), this year’s class reflects some of the best that the industry has to offer. 

And it’s always a great snapshot of restaurants right now. The prestigious list of multi-category award nominees is exhausting. Being lazy, we’re offering only the Best Chef list from California restaurants. 

 For the complete list go to RESY: Click here

Best Chef: California NOMINEES

Tara Monsod, Animae
• Tara Monsod, Animae, San Diego, CA 

• Diego Argoti, Poltergeist, Los Angeles, CA 

• C-Y Chia and Shane Stanbridge, Lion Dance Cafe, Oakland, CA 

• Geoff Davis, Burdell, Oakland, CA 

• Azalina Eusope, Azalina’s, San Francisco, CA 

• Alex Garcia and Elvia Huerta, Evil Cooks, Los Angeles, CA 

• Rogelio Garcia, Auro, Calistoga, CA 

• Srijith “Sri” Gopinathan, Copra, San Francisco, CA 

• Dima Habibeh, Ammatoli, Long Beach, CA 

• Jeong-In Hwang, San Ho Won, San Francisco, CA 

• Jihee Kim, Perilla, Los Angeles, CA

• Kristina Liedags Compton, Hilda and Jesse, San Francisco, CA 

• Alfonso “Poncho” Martinez, Poncho’s Tlayudas, Los Angeles, CA 

• Lord Maynard Llera, Kuya Lord, Los Angeles, CA 

• Buu “Billy” Ngo, Kru, Sacramento, CA 

• Laura Ozyilmaz and Sayat Ozyilmaz, Dalida, San Francisco, CA 

• Michael Procaccini and Stefano Procaccini, La Parolaccia, Long Beach, CA 

• Alisa Reynolds, My 2 Cents, Los Angeles, CA

• Finn Stern, Daytrip, Oakland, CA 

• Christian Yang, Yang’s Kitchen, Alhambra, CA 

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

DESIGN / MOST EXPENSIVE PHOTOGRAPH TO DATE

Le Violon d'Ingres, 1924 by Man Ray

The most expensive image ever sold at auction, Le Violon d'Ingres (1924) by Man Ray, which features a nude woman's back superimposed with a violin's f-holes, sold for $12.4 million on May 14th, 2022 at Christie's New York. 

 Man Ray was an American visual artist (1890-1976) who spent most of his career in Paris. He was a pioneer contributor to the Dada and Surrealist movements, although his ties to each were informal. He produced major works in a variety of media but considered himself a painter above all. 

 Man Ray (nee Emmanuel Radnitzky) was an admirer of the paintings of Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres and made a series of photographs, inspired by Ingres's languorous nudes, of the model Kiki de Montarnasse (aka Alice Prin) in a turban. 

Painting the f-holes of a stringed instrument onto the photographic print and then rephotographing the print, Man Ray altered what was originally a classical nude. He also added the title Le Violon d'Ingres, a French idiom that means "hobby." One critic suggested “…while playing the violin was artist Ingres’s hobby, toying with model Kiki was a pastime of Man Ray.” C’est tellement comme les Francais. 

 The transformation of Kiki's body into a musical instrument with the crude addition of a few brushstrokes makes this a humorous image, but early critics offered that the composite maintains a tension between objectification and appreciation of the female form. Kiki de Montparnasse (Alice Prin) Alice Ernestine Prin, nicknamed the Queen of Montparnasse and often known as Kiki de Montparnasse, was a French model, chanteuse, memoirist and painter during the Jazz Age. She flourished in, and helped define, the liberated culture of Paris in the so-called Années folles (avant garde). 

 The artwork is currently at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles and is not currently on view. 

IMAGES ALLIED:

Man Ray

Kiki de Montparnasse (Alice Prin)

Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres

https://news.artnet.com/art-world/kiki-de-montparnasse-man-ray-biography-2238009 Example of an Ingres nude painting https://www.getty.edu/art/collection/object/104E4A#full-artwork-details Le Violon d'Ingres (Ingres's Violin) 1924 Man Ray (American, 1890 - 1976) Not currently on view The Source by Ingres now in the Musee d’Orsay in Paris. 

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

RETRO FILES / FIGHTIN’ ROOSEVELTS


Allied Forces landed at Normandy and commenced the D-Day invasion to free Western Europe from Nazi occupation. Above, the men pictured, left, Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. and his son Quentin Roosevelt II, the son and grandson of President Theodore Roosevelt, took part in the massive invasion on Utah and Omaha beaches, respectively, as the only father and son pair in the American Army. 

 Brigadier General Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. at age 57 was the highest-ranking officer on the ground and led his troops at Utah beach under heavy fire, personally shuttling each group over the seawall and returning to the beach to lead others. 

He would survive the invasion, but would succumb to a heart attack a few weeks later while in France. Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. would be posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his selfless acts of bravery. 

 Brigadier General Theodore Roosevelt Jr.’s widow Eleanor accepts a posthumous Congressional Medal of Honor for her husband's bravery; contributions to the war effort and for being the oldest U.S. Army officer to land on D-Day. 


Monday, January 22, 2024

AMERICANA / FIRST COMMERCIAL 747 FLIGHT IN HISTORY


The first commercial flight of Boeing's 747 took off on this day in 1970 only seven hours behind schedule.  A few wrinkles had to be ironed out before the jumbo left JFK for London.

CLICK HERE for NBC News' coverage with Chet Huntley reporting.

Good night, David.

Good night, Chet.


Above: Captain Robert M. Weeks, Captain John Noland and Flight Engineer August (“Mac”) McKinney flew the Pan American World Airways Boeing 747-121, N736PA, Clipper Young America, from New York (JFK) to London [Heathrow] on a 6 hour, 14-minute inaugural passenger-carrying flight of the new wide-body jet. Aboard were a cabin crew of 17 and 332 passengers, including actress Raquel Welch.  

Pan Am had the best-looking uniforms in the air.

Sad History. The 747 pictured with the flight crew bore the ID number N736PA.  Rolling off the assembly line it had been named Clipper Victor, but the name was changed to Clipper Young America for the inaugural New York to London flight on Jan. 22, 1970.  The first 747 suffered mechanical problems thus earning N736PA its place in history as the first commercial 747 flight.


Bad luck followed N736PA as it was hijacked on August 2, 1970 and flown to Cuba. After that incident, N736PA was renamed
 Clipper Victor — its original name. 


Tragically, N736PA was destroyed in a collision with a Dutch Boeing 747 at Tenerife, Canary Islands, March 27, 1977 resulting in a massive loss of lives.

Sunday, January 21, 2024

SUNDAY REVIEW / A FEW EARLY POEMS BY ROBERT FROST


Published in 1928, “West-Running Brook” is one of Robert Frost’s early works. It uses the metaphor of a tiny stream whose current mysteriously runs counter to the directions of other streams as an opportunity to explore the nature of nature itself; the dynamics of relationships, particularly marriage; and ultimately the working of the cosmos. And, like most water flows the collection wanders from here to there. 












Saturday, January 20, 2024

Thursday, January 18, 2024

THE FOODIST / A DAY ON THE BEACH: CANNES

 


Belle Plage Restaurant, Plage Midi 

31 Boulevard Jean Hibert, Cannes, France 














Tuesday, January 16, 2024

RETRO FILES / CHEVY OUTLIVES CASTRO


Above is a vintage photo of a 1953 Chevrolet Bel Air sedan in the sideyard of an Iowa farm. Could it be that same car is now in Cuba? 

Below: Ignoring the passing 70-year-old Chevy are a collection of Cubans hanging out on the seaside Malecon waiting for a parade to celebrate the 65th anniversary of the arrival of Fidel Castro and his band of merrymen into Havana to begin a new socialist way of life for the masses. How’s it going so far? 

Associated Press photo

BELOW,  A GALLERY OF VINTAGE VEHICLES IN CUBA TODAY



Monday, January 15, 2024

MEDIA MONDAY / RESPONSIBLE JOURNALS / THE ECONOMIST / First in an occasional series

Example of a cover of the weekly print news magazine, The Economist

First in a Series
. By Thomas Shess, Founder North Park News and the daily magazine-style general interest blog called PillartoPost.org--When I first began a community monthly newspaper (North Park News, in San Diego) my fervent hope was for it to gain acceptance and last at least to the end of the year. 

With a series of owners over the years, I’m overjoyed the feisty newspaper is now in its 31st year of continuous publication. My experience, however, pales in comparison to the success of James Wilson, who founded Britain’s The Economist. 

James Wilson, circa 1843
Wilson, a hatmaker from Scotland, founded his newspaper in September, 1843 to argue against Britain’s Corn Laws, which imposed punitive tariffs on grain. 

 Published since 1843 to take part in “a severe contest between invelligence, which presses forward, and an unworthy…ignorance obstructing our progress.” 

 I would have loved to be a proverbial fly on the wall when Wilson first issue arrived from the printer a mere 175 years ago. Did he believe then that The Economist would go on to become one of the most respected journals in the world. 

 Today, Wilson’s entity has grown to be called The Economist Group, a media company headquartered in London, England. It is best known for the aforementioned The Economist newspaper and more recently its sister lifestyle magazine, 1843

The group specializes in international business and world affairs information. Here’s a bit more about The Economist: Over time, the newspaper has helped readers grasp the great drivers of change, from technology to geopolitics, finance, and economics. 

Recent cover
It added a dedicated section on the United States in 1942 and a China section in 2012. It expanded successfully into North America, which became its largest market. To serve decision-makers in businesses and beyond, the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) became a leader in country analysis and forecasting. Live events around the world brought global thought leaders together to discuss critical topics at roundtables and summits. In recent years, the great change has been digital. The EIU started to deliver a timely stream of business intelligence and data. 

The Economist expanded its journalism online, onto its app and into podcasts, films, interactive infographics and social media. Economist Education began online executive courses, and Economist Impact grew, combining the reach and rigor of a think-tank with the creativity of a media brand to engage influential stakeholders and find new ways to pursue progress. In addition to The Economist’s weekly print and digital editions and website, The Economist publishes Espresso, a daily news app, and Global Business Review, a bilingual English-Chinese product. 

It also produces The Intelligence, a daily current affairs podcast, five weekly podcasts, 11 newsletters and short- and long-form videos. The Economist has recently joined TikTok and maintains robust social communities on Facebook, X, LinkedIn, and other social networks. 

 A recent expansion has linked The Economist with The Mint, a popular business and financial daily based in India. HT Media Ltd, publisher of Mint, and The Economist Group (UK), publisher of The Economist, have entered into a multi-year partnership to bundle their premium business subscriptions. 

The agreement will allow Mint’s premium subscribers to access The Economist’s world-renowned global analysis and will allow The Economist to tap into Mint’s growing subscriber base. Mint is India’s premier business and financial daily, known among decision-makers for its reportage, views, and analysis. 

In November 2022 it became the number one visited business news platform with 39 million monthly unique visitors, 146 million monthly pageviews, and 1.3 million mobile app users according to Comscore. 

Mint was first launched as a business newspaper in 2007 in an exclusive content partnership with The Wall Street Journal, published by Dow Jones Inc. Mint continues to remain India's second-largest financial daily with a single national edition distributed across India's top nine cities. The last recorded total readership of its print edition, as per the Indian Readership Survey, is 600,000 (IRS 2019 Q4). Mint launched its premium offering for digital subscribers in March 2020, making it one of the earliest mainstream news brands from India to launch paywalled content. 

 How to subscribe to The Economist. Click here. 

First issue of The Economist