Heiser Christmas Letter 2015

♡ Art

In April, Dick visited Berlin, Paris and Amsterdam again. He was especially impressed with Frank Gehry’s Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris’ Bois de Boulogne, and the Kröller–Müller Museum in the Netherlands. When he visits northern California, Dick always stops in at the San Jose Museum of Art and at The Anderson Collection at Stanford University; they’re top–notch.

⚖ Crime

We’re finally making some progress in fixing our repressive criminal justice system. Simple drug possession convictions have been shortened by the Feds and California is planning to send some inmates back from long–term solitary to the general prison population. We raised the minimum age for life without parole. “Realignment” is moving some convicts from prison to jail, and proposition 47 will help some former inmates get jobs by scaling down felony convictions for drug possession and shoplifting. We’re also working to reduce extortionate charges for phone calls from jails and prisons. Expungement clinics have expanded to twice monthly.

Dick is waiting to testify in a local case protesting seizure and destruction of homeless people’s possessions.

⚗ Terror

Since the beginning of 2001, 3,380 Americans have perished due to terrorist attacks. Meanwhile, 406,000 Americans have died due to gun violence. We haven’t been able to do anything about this problem yet. Certainly, we can see what’s wrong.

☺︎ Inexplicable

An online course from King’s College London gives you three tries to answer true–false questions.

Netflix’s House of Cards has 14 producers.

Bernie Sanders may face long odds for becoming president, but he’s sure to elevate the debate. His support for universal health care, free public universities, immigration, international peacekeeping, criminal justice reform and reducing income inequality, all make sense to us. People who abandon their beliefs and interests so they can be on the winning bandwagon are giving up too easily. Let’s ask for what we want!

✌ ︎︎Recommended

nomorobo.com will answer telemarketing calls for you, free. Tell your carrier to ring their phone when yours rings. If the caller ID shows it’s a telemarketing call, they’ll answer for you and hang up; your phone will only ring once. They answer three to six robocalls every day for us. We’re so grateful.

Dick has been using RunKeeper to keep track of running and walking, and Lumosity for mental exercise. They’re both well–designed, and both have free and premium versions.

Temple Grandin surveys autism and empathy in Thinking in Pictures. Dick recognized several experiences in common with hers. She makes an interesting case for a connection between autism and creativity, especially for software developers.

Vivian Maier, a nanny who took amazing photos, has captivated Loretta and Dick. Amazon says, “Though she created more than 120,000 negatives during her lifetime, only a few were ever seen by others. Shortly after her death in 2009, the first group of her unseen photographs–gritty with humanity and filled with empathy and beauty–were shown online. What followed was a firestorm of attention, catapulting Maier from previous obscurity to being labeled as one of the masters of street photography. Her work has appeared in numerous museum exhibits.” She practically invented the selfie. Vivian Maier Street Photographer by John Maloof is an excellent sample of her work.

☯ Family news

We are grateful for good health, leisure and friends, and hope you will have the same good luck!

☮ Peace & love! Best wishes for 2016!