5G to Be or Not to Be

Mr. Pointy, Takashi Murakami, 2011

This last week at gyrotonics, I noticed a stack of flyers disclaiming the dangers of 5G. Luddites Unite! The gyro studio is accoutered with many new age artifacts and I assumed that these flyers dealt with a new age subject that I wasn’t familiar with yet. The flyer listed ten alternative facts warning of the health dangers caused by 5G, but according to the New York Times, this campaign against 5G is a Russian propaganda campaign, brought to you by some of the same trolls who rigged the 2016 Presidential election, but I’ve gotten ahead of myself. What is 5G?

5G is the next generation cellphone network communications protocol. I was a late adopter of cellphone technology (Luddites Unite!) and by the time that I took the plunge, they were already on a third generation network or 3G. Since then, we moved onto 4G, making 5G the next rung on the ladder. In addition to its detractors, 5G has also created a lot of positive buzz. Most of which is also fake news. There is a version of 5G, called 5G Plus that offers a 10X increase in data speeds over 4G, but cellphone providers are not going to go that way.

Now all you conspiracy theorists out there, take off your tinfoil hats. They have a valid reason for doing this. 5G Plus uses millimeter technology, with radio signals that are broadcasted at wavelengths that are shorter than an inch. All other cellphone radio waves have been on the order of a foot. The millimeter technology cannot penetrate buildings (no bars), while normal cellphone radio waves are doing pretty well. This limits the utility of 5G Plus to open air venues, like football stadiums, where we could see some application of this technology.

AT&T and Verizon, the two big US cellphone networks, have both announced their plans to rollout 5G nationwide in 2020 and Apple and Samsung plan on releasing 5G compatible phones this year too. So, what does 5G buy you, other than a good excuse for getting a new phone? In a word, less-latency. Latency is that interval of time, in-between when you hit return on a Google search and the first results appear on your screen. For activities like streaming movies, this isn’t a big deal, but for interactive activities like video game play or the controlling of other devices in the internet of things, this will have a profound effect. Cue your autonoumusly driving car that will now have a fast enough reaction time to get you home safely, by being able to timely communicate with all the other cars.

So, what is Russia’s deal with 5G? Russia doesn’t really have a dog in the 5G fight, but that doesn’t prevent it from being a dog in the manger and pooping all over our efforts. The country that can put up a fight is China. Like we need another China war. They have gone all in on 5G, but of course their version of it is not like ours. Naturally. Russia has aligned itself with China on 5G, with the hope of swaying Europe, who has been sitting on the proverbial 5G fence. We’ll have to wait to see how this all plays out for this year and in the years to come.

Not Davos

Davos, Gerhard Richter, 1981

This is the picture that we woke up to today, except for the mountains. And the sun too. It was even cloudier then. There wasn’t as much snow either, but this is pretty much what it looked like. After two days of heavy rain, the winter storm Isaiah finished up precipitating on us, with a flurry of snow and a dash of crippling ice. There was hardly enough snow to worry about, but you wouldn’t have known that at the grocery store yesterday. With their undies all in a bunch, people were scurrying up and down the shopping aisles, carrying armloads of milk, bread and eggs. The TV news always reports runs on these three items, before any snowstorm. It’s a Saint Louis tradition. Still, all the hustle and bustle of the store was the highlight of the day. There was a comradery there.

The crime of armed robbery was committed in the neighborhood this week, two blocks from our house. A pizza delivery guy was attacked by four masked and armed men. They had called him to a vacant house. They got away with his wallet and he got shot in the leg. We’re pretty used to hearing this kind of story on the nightly news, but those stories always happen somewhere else, not this close to home. We live in a wealthier than some neighborhood. There are less affluent areas near by, but there are also much richer ones too. Proximity allows one neighborhood to bleed into the next. All-in-all, it seems like a lot of trouble to go to, for a four way split. How much money does a pizza guy carry anyway?

Housed at the Chicago Art Institute, Gerhard Richter’s photo-realistic color landscape painting, Davos, is based on snapshot. In it the sun is seen just burning through a layer of diffuse clouds, above a snow covered alpine peak. There are no references to any human presence, portraying only nature, both beautiful and unforgiving. I live in the city, where humanity abounds and where people too can be both beautiful and unforgiving.

Startling Beauty

Crest Mask, Possibly Etim Bassey Ekpenyong, Early 20th Century

Winter storm Isaiah has descended upon us with all of its biblical fury. Bringing with it flooding rain (checkout our basement), severe storms, snow and the worst of all, crippling ice. That is the forecast according to that snowflake network, CNN. But are you going to believe fake news? You’ve got to watch out for that crippling ice though. It will put you in traction for weeks. Anne with her delicate heinie has a solution for this danger of falling and landing on her tuchus, don’t go outside. That’s OK, she won’t miss it at all, because she is in full first grade mode this weekend. It’s report card time and she is weighing the fate of nineteen souls. What grades shall be placed in their permanent record? Who will triumph and who will fail and which parent will be first to assail her for her decisions? That’s not my problem though, I just have to live with it.

To us, the facial features of this southwestern Nigerian mask, may appear fierce or even look evil. The fact that it is sheathed in animal skins doesn’t help. Yet, the mask actually depicts an ideal beauty, a young woman with perfectly filed teeth (A practice that would be a nightmare for any dentist, but would make the teeth easier to floss.) and a distinctive, if somewhat devilish coiffure, worn on her wedding day, signaling her readiness for marriage. This art is believed to be the work of Etim Bassey Ekpenyong, who is credited with creating a mask for the 1939 movie, The Wizard of Oz. I don’t know which mask, maybe the wizard effigy, but I’m thinking the flying monkeys. They’ve always been scary to me. 

The Four Freedoms

At the Hirshhorn Museum are the above four images and the following text:

In his 1941 State of the Union address, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt outlined his vision for a post-war world. One in which four freedoms, freedom of speech, freedom from fear, freedom from want and freedom of speech, would become basic human rights for all. In 1943, artist Norman Rockwell responded patriotically with a series of four paintings depicting those freedoms. In 2018, the artists Hank Willis Thomas and Emily Shur reimagined these paintings and updated those images to more accurately reflect today’s more diverse US population.

I’ve always been a big Rockwell fan and enjoy this reinterpretation of his work. 

Last year, a New Yorker cartoon had the following caption, “Up in the sky. It’s a bird. It’s a plane. It’s the good billionaire.” This was a reference to former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, who had launched a campaign for the Democratic nomination. He was a late arrival to the Democratic field and was initially derisively dismissed, out of hand. Now, I see his anti-Trump TV commercials every night. With a worth valued at $56B, Bloomberg can easily out spend the Republicans, by five to one. New York magazine columnist Jonathan Chait opined this week, “Winning the presidential election is starting to look hard. How about buying it instead?” 

Back on the ranch, Anne restarted her Early Childhood Center’s first grade gig this week, after the long Christmas break. ECC or more correctly Eck!, is now showing its true colors as plague central. On Monday she sent home a letter to the parents on the subject of head lice. Latter in the week, she sent home a letter regarding strep throat. Yesterday, after one of her students tested positive for influenza, a third letter was dispatched regarding the flu. So, what’s next? How about freedom from illness. Until then, she will go to work every morning, singing the praises of her nineteen (or less) little dwarves, Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, it’s off to the plague I go. Heigh-ho…

All the Liberal Women

In these two paintings, upon a backdrop of adire¹ Nike Davies-Okundaye has portrayed women in their finest attire, engaged in nonviolent protest. She sought to show that “women are very, very powerful… Sometimes they are more powerful than their husbands… Women are stronger than they think they are.”

I have to say that I love the artist’s first name, Nike, the Greek goddess of victory. In mythology, Nike and her three siblings, Kratos (power), Bia (force) and Zelus (zeal) all represents ideas of strength and action. I have the good fortune to be married to such a woman. After the 2016 election, Anne knitted herself a pink “pussy” hat and wore it while she protested in the streets. She is currently working on an “Im-Peach-Mint” cap. You can guess its color combo.

  1. Adire, a tie-dye textile is the indigo-dyed cloth made using a variety of resist-dyeing techniques. It is a textile art form that historically is used by the Yoruba women of southwestern Nigeria to communicate symbolically.