Sinking of Lusitania WW I

Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania is a 2015 New York Times non-fiction bestseller written by Erik Larson.

Though we’ve heard far more about the 2240 people who died on the Titanic, the story of the Lusitania sinking 3 years later is a more compelling story.

1198 died on the Lusitania.

On May 1, 1915, with WWI entering its tenth month, a luxury ocean liner as richly appointed as an English country house sailed out of New York, bound for Liverpool, carrying a record number of children and infants.

The passengers were surprisingly at ease, even though Germany had declared the seas around Britain to be a war zone. For months, German U-boats had brought terror to the North Atlantic.

But the Lusitania was one of the era’s great transatlantic “Greyhounds”—the fastest liner then in service—and her captain, William Thomas Turner, placed tremendous faith in the gentlemanly strictures of warfare that for a century had kept civilian ships safe from attack.


Many questions were left unanswered from this disaster.

For example, was Churchill partly responsible?

Should he have provided naval protection for the American commercial ship?

Evidence seems against that conjecture.

Good book.

But his BEST is Devil in the White City.

Space Heaters

Winter is coming …

Rob and Yvonne gave me their old Lasko 758000 space heater.  Works well.  I keep it beside my desk. 

Wirecutter is my favourite product review website.

On their recommendation, in addition, I got the Vornado VH5 Personal Vortex Space Heater for only CAD $46.11.

Works very well.  I keep it close to the bed. 

As of August 2020 here are the Wirecutter picks for best space heaters

The Vornado VH200 (similar to the VH5) surpassed almost every other space heater in speed and total power, delivering an immediate temperature increase that built steadily and evenly across the room over the course of an hour.

The VH200 is also quieter than most other ceramic heaters we’ve tried, emitting only a soft, fan-like whir, and it’s compact enough to tuck away in a corner.

It’s also one of the safest heaters we tested, featuring overheating and tip-over protection, and a plastic exterior that stays relatively cool to the touch—so you can warm yourself without having to worry.

The VH200 does get mixed reviews from some owners—those who find it slow to heat a particularly cold space or who have problems with the airflow from the fan—but Vornado tends to respond to critical reviews more reliably than other manufacturers do.

The Chain by Adrian McKinty

Adrian McKinty is a Northern Irish writer of crime and mystery novels and young adult fiction, best known for his 2020 award winning thriller, The Chain.

McKinty quit writing in 2017 after being evicted from his rented house, citing a lack of income from his novels, and instead took work as an Uber driver and a bartender.

Upon hearing of his situation, fellow crime author Don Winslow passed some of his books to his agent, the screenwriter and producer Shane Salerno.

In a late-night phone call, Salerno persuaded McKinty to write what would become The Chain.  Salerno loaned the author (“advance on the advance”) $10,000 to help him survive financially during the process.

It’s a very intense book. As a parent, what would you do to get your child back?

“McKinty is one of the most striking and most memorable crime voices to emerge on the scene in years. His plots tempt you to read at top speed, but don’t give in: this writing — sharply observant, intelligent and shot through with black humor — should be savored.”— Tana French


On the U.S. / Canada border

I’m with the vast majority of Canadians who want to keep the border closed as of October 2020.

The USA has had about 663 deaths / million so far. And is getting worse.

Canada about 263 deaths / million. And getting worse at this moment in time. Not good, but a LOT better than the States.

I don’t want to get the virus. I want to be one of the 20-40% who never get it once herd immunity is reached.

Though Trump totally bungled the U.S. response, almost 43% of Americans still support him.

They are the same ones who told me COVID-19 is less deadly than the common flu. They believed FOX and Trump.

They are the same ones who told me hydroxychloroquine was a ‘cure’. Not even Trump took it when he got sick.

I don’t want that 43% of Americans anywhere near me or my family.

I’m willing to suffer the economic and personal consequences.

Some families are now separated by the border. Canadians can still fly to the States, so it’s possible for them to get together — but that doesn’t work for those who can’t fly.

I might reconsider under a Biden Presidency. But it’s unlikely. Covid denying Americans will be even more agitated.

This morning I spoke with a Canadian who somehow just drove back from California. There are exceptions to the border crossing rule.

Here’s the sign she had to put on her window.

Is the USA still a democracy?

For me a authoritarian regime (dictatorship) is a place where the leader can order opponents murdered, without consequences. Russia and Saudi Arabia in 2020, for example.

The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) scores countries on five categories: electoral process and pluralism; civil liberties; the functioning of government; political participation; and political culture.

Nations are then classified under four types of governments: full democracy, flawed democracy, hybrid regime and authoritarian regime.

Under Trump the USA became a flawed democracy.

Obviously, the main goal of the GOP under this egocentric toddler is to make the rich richer. Which they’ve done.

Nations still ranking high as democracies include Norway, Iceland, Sweden, New Zealand and Denmark. Canada and Ireland are up there, as well.

Recently a Republican Senator claimed that “democracy isn’t the objective” any longer. Knowing that his Party was likely to lose the 2020 election, it’s part of the GOP plan to contest the results.

That Senator was bored, at home, COVID-19 positive at the time. #loser

I want people to be able to easily un-elect bad leaders. To have more influence in governance, even when they get it wrong. When wrong, they should be able to later easily change again.

The best coverage of this issue I’ve found is from my favourite podcast.

The Games We Play On the Media

With the election underway, both camps are pushing their “get out the vote” messages. This week, On the Media looks at the origins of the modern presidential campaign, and how livestream technology is transforming the look and feel of voter outreach. Plus, how a mysterious network of fake news sites duped real journalists into creating propaganda. And, the empty, recurring trope of Republicans “distancing” themselves from Trump. 1. Makena Kelly [@kellymakena] explains the rising role of fandom in politics, and how Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s event on Twitch this week was a landmark in online organizing. Listen. 2. Greg Mitchell [@GregMitch] and Jill Lepore on how modern methods of seeding lies and hysteria into a campaign can be traced back to a single race in 1934. Listen. 3. Priyanjana Bengani [@acookiecrumbles] on the emergence of “pink slime” news outlets, which take legitimate journalism and use it as a cover for more nefarious goals at home and abroad. Also featuring Pat Morris and Laura Walters [@walterslaura]. Listen. 4. Bob [@Bobosphere] explains why outlets need to stop saying Republicans like Ben Sasse are “breaking” with Trump. Listen.
  1. The Games We Play
  2. OTM presents – Blindspot Ep. 5: The Idea
  3. Emergency Mode

Curious Minds by Janet Evanovich

Knight and Moon ~ Sherlock and Watson

A short lightweight read, but quite entertaining.

Emerson Knight is introverted, eccentric, and has little-to-no sense of social etiquette.

Good thing he’s also brilliant, rich and (some people might say) handsome or he’d probably be homeless.

Riley Moon has just graduated from Harvard Law and Harvard Business.

Her aggressive Texas spitfire attitude has helped her land her dream job as a junior analyst at Blane-Grunwald. At least Riley Moon thought it was her dream job until she is given her first assignment, babysitting Emerson Knight.


My video editing workflow

A #CovidGoal is to improve my video editing.

It’s working. But so far I’m only up to the stage of knowing now what I don’t know yet.

Mostly my videos are for outdoor recreation, but I also hope to get back indoor soon shooting Gymnastics.

Here’s my most ambitious edit, so far.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

It has more editing magic than I’ve used in the past: Sound effect, Color balance, Slow mo, Intro flash, Ken Burns pan, Speed ramp, Focus blur, Zoom, Directional blur, Gausian blur, Radial centre. 3 cameras.

Audio the most time consuming part, however.

Here are the BASICS for upcoming shoots:

  1. I’m usually shooting solo
  2. 3 cameras (Sony ZV-1, GoPro 7 and iPhone X with DJI OM 4 gimbal)
  3. Shoot, edit and export 29.97 frames / second
  4. Shoot, edit and export in 1080p
  5. Any video with vocal audio shoot in 24 fps
  6. Shoot in 60 fps for most slow motion
  7. Timelapse 60 fps
  8. Shoot 120 fps only for smoke, fire
  9. Shoot 240 fps or higher for fast moving sports, etc. 
  10. Only shoot 4K when I might want to edit later using zoom or Ken Burns zoom. 
  11. As little hand held video as possible.  Use tripods
  12. Target length of my final edit is 4min or less 
  13. No ads

Evening and the Morning by Ken Follett

I loved Follett‘s Kingsbridge series:

Sad to see it end.

Happily Follett released a prequel in 2020 starting 997 AD.

Another long book. Very engaging.

I love reading about the technology of the day.

Follett, too, writes love stories as well as anyone.

… the end of the Dark Ages, and England faces attacks from the Welsh in the west and the Vikings in the east. Life is hard, and those with power wield it harshly, bending justice according to their will – often in conflict with the king. With his grip on the country fragile and with no clear rule of law, chaos and bloodshed reign.

Three Lives Intertwined
Into this uncertain world three people come to the fore: a young boatbuilder, who dreams of a better future when a devastating Viking raid shatters the life that he and the woman he loves hoped for; a Norman noblewoman, who follows her beloved husband across the sea to a new land only to find her life there shockingly different; and a capable monk at Shiring Abbey, who dreams of transforming his humble abbey into a centre of learning admired throughout Europe.

Squeeze Me by Carl Hiaasen

Squeeze Me is a novel by Carl Hiaasen released on August 25, 2020.

Quite good.

And very topical right now.

A prominent high-society matron — who happens to be a fierce supporter of the President (Trump) —and co-founder of the Potus Pussies — disappears at a Palm Beach Gala.

Who or what killed her?

Trump (secret service name Mastodon) and Melania (secret service name Mockingbird) are both characters in the novel. Both with other lovers.

Carl Hiaasen takes the madness that is every day Florida, and turns it into hilarious, irreverent books.

If you need a laugh in 2020, I recommend it.

Review: ‘Squeeze Me’ — with a python, a president and Palm Beach — is vintage Hiaasen