Heiser Christmas Letter - 2016

“The more we know about a subject, the more we can learn about it.”

🖼 Art

Here is a shout-out to some wonderful California art museums: the San Diego Museum of Art, Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (in La Jolla), Oceanside Museum of Art, San Jose Museum of Art, The Anderson Collection and Cantor Museum at Stanford, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and The Broad.

Of course, we appreciate the Weisman Art Foundation most of all. Dick continues to give free tours weekly. We believe you’ll be delighted by the quality of their collection. Dick’s schedule is available on our website.

📉 Sham•bol•ic (shăm-bŏl′ĭk) adj.

You’ll be needing to add this word to your vocabulary. It means “chaotic, disorganized or mismanaged,”

Our friend Steve Spierer, and Charlie Rose, both quoted The Atlantic making distinctions about whether claims need to be literally true, or only “serious.” Jonah Goldberg and Doyle McManus say, “His exact words matter.” We agree.

Fact-checking has improved during this election; it’s more available, faster. We believe literal truth should remain the standard for political speech. Snopes.com is useful for checking rumors.

Rather than freaking out about the new administration in Washington, we’re going to reach out to our local officials, particularly councilman Mike Bonin, supervisor Sheila Kuehl and congresswoman Maxine Waters. We’re lucky to have such dedicated, progressive representatives.

📡 Offensive Cyberwar

We’re supposed to accept that it’s alright to retaliate tit–for–tat against cyber strikes. It shouldn’t be. Many retaliatory strikes would be war crimes. Turning off the lights or the water or the news in another country should be against international law. Philip Bobbitt claims, in The Shield of Achilles (2002), that we must rely on resilience rather than deterrence or retaliation as the default strategic setting in the face of these looming dangers. Ed Snowden has warned, “Offense has greatly surpassed defensive capabilities.”

Also, we have to be extremely careful about attributing attacks before retaliating. It’s customary to plant deceptive clues in malware.

☢ Nuclear War

This could still ruin everything. It’s vital that we refrain from building a new generation of nuclear weapons. There are conventional alternatives to nuclear weapons; we wouldn’t even have to give up our imperial superpower role. If we don’t get rid of the nuclear weapons, someday we’re really going to regret it.

LATE BULLETIN: In the past month, Congress has passed a bill to greatly expand our missile defense system. It doesn't work, can be defeated by a cloud of mylar balloons, was discredited in the 1990s and would start an arms race in space. Unfortunately, the policy is buried in the military authorization bill, so a veto will be difficult to achieve.

☺ Inexplicable

Suddenly, and surprisingly, the torrent of campaign direct mail has ceased. We received only a dozen campaign mailers this time, instead of a hundred pieces in previous elections. We are astonished that the ballot propositions have not bombarded us with appeals.

💡 ︎︎Recommended

• Over–the–air TV: millions of Americans are cutting the cord, moving to better–tailored and online channels. We’re very satisfied with free broadcast digital TV. With a $40 amplified antenna, we receive about 20 channels in high definition.

• Free training to become a software developer: FreeCodeCamp looks like a good one, although they offer strange advice: “The React ecosystem is overwhelming for beginners. Ensure to learn each new tool isolatedly.” Dick would like to coach people stuck in dead–end jobs to take advantage of this opportunity, but he has been left behind by new tools and libraries.

• The writers for Black Mirror on Netflix are amazingly creative, but too dystopian.

✌ 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 2017!

☮ Don’t forget to abolish nuclear weapons!

Here are some of our favorite cartoons, mostly from the New Yorker and the LA Times.

Facebook friends according to members' ages:

Sinking building, Melbourne, Australia:

In front of the Men's Central Jail in Los Angeles: