Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Strange Ways of Stardom

Jamaica's pop culture is one strange place. This guy looks like a crazy homeless man, but he's a major star:

Fortune Cookie

I don't understand my fortune cookie. It says:

"It is not necessary to understand. All that is necessary it to enjoy."

Tea Kettle Tree

It was 1:30 a.m. and I was walking Bella through my dark Curtis Park neighborhood, when I heard a tea kettle whistle coming from a tree. "Well, this is a novelty," I thought. "My neighborhood gets stranger by the day."

I traced the noise to the roots at the base of the tree, so I got down on all fours in the shadows and started digging through the leaf litter to find the source. I explained to Bella, "I'm not crazy. I'm not talking to a spirit in the tree, like Cinderella does with her Mother, or talking to the tree, like Frodo does with the Ents. I'm just trying to find the entrance to Peter Pan's underground Neverland lair, because he left the tea kettle on the stove." Meanwhile, Bella was buzzing about like "my master is so crazy."

Eventually, I uncovered a plastic water pipe, and even though there was no obvious air or water leak, I'm sure it was the culprit of the noise.

Very Much Liked "Mockingjay - Part 2"!

I was puzzled by the reviews of the final installment of "The Hunger Games": namely, "Mockingjay - Part 2", so last night I went to go see it for myself.

Movie reviews stressed that Jennifer Lawrence isn't in many scenes (actually she's in most scenes), that the movie is too claustrophobic (but at least no one stays in one place), that it's too grimly predictable (most wars are) - too many other unsatisfying things. I don't know what movie they saw. It faces the same issues other movie series do of tying up loose ends, but I thought they did well with their choices. Julianne Moore as Alma Coin and Donald Sutherland as President Snow were brilliant. Donald Sutherland's last laugh is precious! Why isn't he running for President of the United States?

Of the four movies, I think I prefer Part 3, namely "Mockingjay - Part 1". Reviewers didn't like that one either, because they said it didn't have enough action, but at least it was thoughtful. And Lorde curated the sound track, and her choices were brilliant.

I was aghast at a film clip shown before the main feature. Apparently a children's charity is teaming with "The Hunger Games" to raise money. It's so wrong. Don't they grasp the movie's theme? (Or maybe they understand it even better than I do.)

"Mockingjay - Part 2" doesn't have a brilliant sound track like "Mockingjay - Part 1", but there are songs elsewhere in the Universe that carry similar messages. Like this one:

Clam Jumper

Amused by conversation with Homeless Guy (H) while standing in line at the pharmacy:

H: Man, I got roughed up Halloween night! I was in the gutter over there across from Clam Jumper...

M: Clam Jumper?

H.: Clam Jumper, over by the light rail station near I Street. I was shouting to the ladies walking by on the sidewalk across the street, just trying to give good advice, like "Don't have sex until you're 21!" when these guys step out of a car, and one says to me "Looks like you need a fade."

M.: What did they do?

H.: They stomped all over my head! At first I tried to resist, but then I just gave up and let them hit me. My nose hasn't been working right since. A doctor looked at it and said "Yup, it's broken!" Now I can't blow my nose properly because it's too sensitive and the boogers are piling up inside and I have to reach up in there all the time (illustrating).

M.: That's terrible!

H.: You know, I'm a drunk and a meth-head - that meth really makes you go KKRRRAAAZZEEEE! - and one thing I want to know is, why don't they bring back Nancy Reagan's "Just Say No" campaign?

M.: I dunno. Maybe it doesn't work?

H.: But they should try! How do they know if they don't try? Nancy Reagan would sign off on that in an instant!

Laure Courtellemont Will Be In Sacramento December 11th!

Coming next month to Sacramento! So excited!

"The Debut"

I'm dancing in this event! Hip hop! Looking forward to it!
"The Debut" is just a week away and tickets are selling fast. Make sure you don't miss this event!

Tickets are just $10.

Faith in El Niño

The 16-day GFS forecasts are pretty optimistic about rain in northern California in December (but those forecasts are always optimistic). In the meantime, November will be a drier month than average in Sacramento.

Depressed by the lack of rain - we need it so bad - but Bill Patzert at JPL has deeper faith in El Niño:
The pool of warm water in the Pacific Ocean west of Peru is huge and very deep. “There’s been a tremendous distribution of heat, and that is definitely not going away” any time soon, said Bill Patzert, climatologist with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Cañada Flintridge. “I’m quite optimistic that the entire state is going to get hosed.

"This El Niño is so dramatically large. It’s so intense. It’s hard to imagine that it won’t deliver," Patzert said.

Suicide Bomb Trainer in Iraq Accidentally Blows Up His Class

Poetic justice:
In what represented a cautionary tale for terrorist teachers, and a cause of dark humor for ordinary Iraqis, a commander at a secluded terrorist training camp north of Baghdad unwittingly used a belt packed with explosives while conducting a demonstration early Monday for a group of militants, killing himself and 21 other members of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, army and police officials said.

Vitter Loses

Pleased that the Republicans lost the Louisiana Governor's race.

Lots of special circumstances there, but I am glad David Vitter's desperate last-minute effort to use Syrian refugee panic to his advantage failed so spectacularly. It sends a signal to other politicians that there's no profit in whipping fear on this topic.

Crow Funerals

Like Western Scrub Jays:
There's an unusual but known behavior among crows, that they gather around the bodies of their dead. A crow dead on the street or in a field will be surrounded by a few to a dozen or more crows, all seeming to contemplate their fallen comrade. The notion of crow funerals has been documented but not necessarily understood, so University of Washington biologists Kaeli Swift and John Marzluff decided to create experiments to find out what exactly is happening.


So like, right now for example. The Syrians need to come to America. But some people are all, "What about the strain on our resources?" Well it's like when I had this garden party for my father's birthday, right? I put R.S.V.P. 'cause it was a sit-down dinner. But some people came that like did not R.S.V.P. I was like totally buggin'. I had to haul ass to the kitchen, redistribute the food, and squish in extra place settings. But by the end of the day it was, like, the more the merrier. And so if the states could just get to the kitchen, rearrange some things, we could certainly party with the Syrians. And in conclusion may I please remind you it does not say R.S.V.P. on the Statue of Liberty. Thank you very much. *curtsy*


My sister and I making a raid on the Nestle's Quick (about 1962).

Happy Thanksgiving

Dancehall Tips

Trying to pick up Dancehall tips. I can work on the looseness, but it would be helpful to drop about 25 kilos first.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

When Will Republicans Get Serious About National Security?

And Republicans simply can't be bothered to take any of this seriously. They blather about Obama being weak, but when you ask them for their plans you just get nonsense. They demand "leadership"; they bask in cheap applause lines about a bigger military; they all chime in like puppets to agree on a no-fly zone; they suggest we stop worrying about civilian casualties; they propose more arms for the Kurds; they want to team up with Sunni tribal leaders without saying how they'd accomplish it; and they vaguely imply that we should bomb ISIS differently....or more....or with greater determination....or something.

None of this is remotely serious. A bigger military wouldn't affect ISIS. A no-fly zone wouldn't affect ISIS. Killing civilians would actively help ISIS. The Kurds aren't going to fight ISIS in Sunni territory. Sunni leaders aren't going to be reliable allies until they trust Baghdad to treat them equitably. And sure, we could bomb more, but there's not much point until we have the ground troops to back it up. But Republicans have been unanimously opposed to American troops all along, and Iraqi ground troops flatly aren't yet willing or able to do the job.

I hardly want to be in the position of pretending that Obama's ISIS strategy has been golden. But Republicans make him look like Alexander the Great.

Reassert Control Over Your Unreasoning Panic About Syrian Refugees

Keep your panic under control!
Despite the rumors that tricked more than half the state governors in the USA into enacting racist anti-Syrian policies, there is no evidence that the Paris attackers came from outside the EU.

One attacker had a seemingly fake Syrian passport on his body, which is consistent with the idea that Daesh want to provoke racist retaliation against Muslims around the world, to convince moderate Muslims that there can be no peaceful co-existence with secular Western states. The tactic has been effective: the terrorists used it to recruit the majority of US state governors to support Daesh's goals.

Don't use the term "ISIS":
Unfortunately, women named Isis, no matter what their personal attributes, now have to put up with associations with this group - despite having had the name much longer, and doing many good things in that name.

Like Obama and others, I also don't like to use the term 'radical Muslim' or its variants. Conservatives deride others for not using the term, saying that liberals lack the courage to properly label the group, but the religious label gives the group credibility and insults the faith of ordinary Muslims. If you use the term 'radical Muslim', the terrorists win. The term 'Daesh' is better.

This is exactly why we MUST avoid using the term 'radical Islamist'. Marco Rubio is dumber than a box of rocks, as proven by this exchange:
Rubio argues that to the extent we're trying to avoid alienating the bulk of the world's 1.3 billion Muslims, this larger group is comparable to Nazi party members who simply hadn't committed atrocities with their own hands. As this crowd is fond of saying, words have meaning and they have consequences. And the clear import of Rubio's Nazi analogy is that we are in fact at war with Islam itself but that there are many Muslims who haven't themselves committed acts of terrorism. Read the actual words. That's the only reasonable interpretation of the analogy as he states it.

"I Will Possess Your Heart" - Death Cab For Cutie

I don't listen to much Indie Pop, but I heard this on the radio last tonight, and really like it. It was one of those magical moments when you hear a tune on the radio for the first time ever, and realize immediately it's a great pop tune!

Released in March 2008? I'm not in step with the times!

Working On My 'NM Childhood' Book

I've been continuing to update my account of growing up in Corrales, New Mexico. I haven't been able to find some materials, but I did stumble across a forgotten family portrait from one of Uncle Mark and Aunt Millie's visits, sitting in front of our new fireplace, apparently mid-year 1971, just before our ill-advised move to San Diego:

The "Breaking Bad" 'Wide Shot'

Ruinous Really Resilient Ridge Reasserts Rule

Rainfall at Sacramento Executive Airport for the month (0.56" + 0.74" + 0.24" = 1.54") hasn't yet matched our November normal of 2.04". In addition, the value of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) index for October is now available and it's still high (1.47).

The Really Resilient Ridge has reasserted itself. Forecast storm next week will come in so weak that all anyone will notice is the wind.

Monday, November 16, 2015

They Want EFX

Our Bad Bitch is Badder Than Your Baddest!

Carried away with hometown pride. Our bad bitch is badder than your baddest!
After ring announcer Bruce Buffer announced Holm as the new champion, Holm walked over to Rousey, embraced her and whispered in her ear: “I went over to Ronda and said ‘Thank you so much. I don’t have this opportunity without you. You’re a great champion and I appreciate you.'”

Rousey spent the night in a Melbourne hospital. There are conflicting reports about the extent of Rousey’s injuries.

“At the end of the the day, I still want my opponents to be healthy and good,” Holm said. “It’s a sport. This is not something I do with any bit of an evil heart. I just wanted to show my respect for her.”

Never Trust Assertive Rightwingers, Ever

The Right is full of itself right now, blaming Obama for terrorist violence that never was in his power to control. The only way to exert stronger control in the chaotic void of NE Syria is 'boots on the ground.' Let's scope out what a U.S. military intervention might mean.

The current array of forces greatly benefits Israel. A front-line state, Syria, is so gravely weakened by the fight with Daesh (aka ISIS) that it currently poses little threat. Doing a U-turn on current policy and inserting U.S. troops would at first greatly benefit the Assad regime, and thus ally us with Russia, Iran, and Hezbollah, immediately posing a greater threat to Israel.

Obama has been trying containment, because that strategy minimizes risk. The violence in Paris doesn't change that calculus at all. Obama had victories last week. 'Jihadi John' was killed in Syria and Abu Nabil was killed in Libya, blunting ISIS expansion there. Terrorist operations in France, if anything, demonstrate the desperation of ISIS to change the political dynamic. Rededicating ourselves to smarter, better containment is the best approach.

(My main complaint about current containment was selling out the Kurds in August to get access to Turkish military bases. The Kurds are 'boots on the ground.' It's not worth selling them out.)

It's not hard to find examples of U.S. Middle East idiocy. John McCain has been so eager to intervene in the Syrian situation, out of ignorance, he appeared with ISIS representatives. Trusting warmongers with greater influence in the Middle East is a guaranteed losing situation, because they are too ignorant to win.