Friday, June 10, 2005

Off to New Mexico

I'm going to head off to the Land of Enchantment, to apologize to Governor Bill Richardson for putting that Albuquerque Tribune article that made fun of his jet purchase, into the hands of the Lucianne wingnuts, and also to visit my Dad, who hasn't been feeling well, and to soothe my overworked sister(s). I might blog from there, but, if not, then next Tuesday, the 14th, instead!

Death Rattle?

I'm still pretty wary, but Marshall sees a light at the end of the Social Security tunnel:
To my reading, this sounds very much like the phase-out death rattle, the phase of a legislative struggle -- grimly reminiscent for some of us of late 1994 -- in which a doomed legislative initiative rapidly de-evolves into more and more pitiful and anemic forms of its original self before finally disappearing into thin air -- perhaps with not a few of its champions going 'poof' along with it.

Like Atrios says, this is really funny!
Mr. Hook, Is This True?

And now, the Santa Fe, NM police have a different, more mundane, explanation than Mr. Hook for why he was beaten so. Let the accusations fly!
Flying Monkey Productions

Hey! I recognize most of these young, ambitious musical theater folks! Pick up a copy of "Inside the City," or click on the link!

Ryan Warren rests in the arms of some of his Flying Monkey crew members: Monika Neal, Bess Toyama, Kristin Cunningham, Meghan Vanderford and Hudson Shively.
New Theater Construction

As Drudge would say, developing....

The poorly-developed eye is some distance offshore, but almost all the rain is east of the eye, which means the Tampa area will get (and has already gotten) some heavy rain from this storm. Not much wind, but if you've got tools outside, bring them in! Landfall is still likely to be on the northern Gulf Coast (Alabama coast, or maybe Pensacola area).

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Low-Grade Scientific Misconduct

Like all human endeavors, scientists engage in some (mostly low-grade) misconduct. Unlike many professionals, however, I suspect scientists have greater alacrity in policing and exposing themselves:
One-third of scientists surveyed said that within the previous three years, they'd engaged in at least one practice that would probably get them into trouble, the report said. Examples included circumventing minor aspects of rules for doing research on people and overlooking a colleague's use of flawed data or questionable interpretation of data.

So, New Mexico Republicans plan to air this ad, in New Hampshire! All to knee-cap Bill Richardson before his nascent presidential campaign even takes form:
With jets zooming in the background, slot machines ringing and a car speeding away, the ad also talks about a person who "travels with a large entourage of body guards and staff to places like Europe and Las Vegas."

The ad asks "Is it P. Diddy? Britney Spears? No, it's Governor Bill Richardson."
This kind of ad can backfire, particularly since its wealth-obsessed Republicans making the charge. Perhaps Richardson can buy into the rationale, and like Mayor Willy Brown in San Francisco, benefit from it. At least the flinty New Englanders won't forget it! It'll help with name recognition!

(I posted this news story on the conservative Lucianne Web Site. This story made them feel so good, harking back to the Clinton days, that one of the commenters even thanked me for posting it! The Bushies must be feeling more and more beleaguered every day!)
Pleasant AM/PM

Things are nice and quiet these days around AM/PM. Of course, they are renovating the store, and there's a chain link fence all around that discourages customers from even approaching the store. But it's nice and quiet!
Tropical Storm Arlene

Good name (I had an aunt by that name). Plus another storm that will pass shortly afterwards in the vicinity of Haiti.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

The Gods Are Most Annoyed

More than 100 nude women danced in a remote mountain village in Nepal to ease a drought. The Kathmandu Post reported some believe dancing naked women will please the gods, who will provide rain in return.
But is it going to work? According the the FNMOC, even though heavy rain is falling in portions of Burma and Thailand right now, for poor, dry Nepal for the next week, no way!
Lessons for Iraq

From a West Point grad who was in 'Nam.
Stormy South

Is that a hurricane being forecast, uncomfortably close to New Zealand in about 10 days?

Its heartbreaking to watch how close the rain is sometimes forecast to get to Australia without actually falling there. I guess most of the continent is a desert for a reason!
Tommy Ray Hook Goes Home

Pursued by a million questions:
“He’s still pretty out of it,” said Bob Rothstein, the attorney for the Los Alamos National Laboratory employee. Hook, 52, has a fractured jaw, a back injury, damaged teeth and perhaps more. Rothstein hopes to read the full medical report today.

Meanwhile, interest groups, FBI agents, police detectives, lab workers and journalists across the nation want to know why Hook was pummeled by a group of assailants outside Santa Fe’s only topless bar and allegedly told to keep his mouth shut.

One theory, according to Rothstein, Hook’s wife and a co-worker at the lab, is that Hook was lured to the bar, beaten up and left for dead because he planned to testify before a congressional committee later this month about financial abuses at the nuclear-weapons laboratory. He was supposed to meet with another lab auditor who had told Hook on the phone that he had information about fraud. That person never showed up.
It would be ironic if it was just a matter of bone-headed jealousy, or out-of-control bikers, or something like that. It's still quite murky, though. They hit him pretty hard! Seems like a crime of passion, but what's driving the passion? In general, with political or business matters, if you want to deliver a beating, you should try to miss the face.

My father tells a story of when he worked briefly with Land Grant Activist Reies Lopez Tijerina, in the mid-60's. According to the story, one day Tijerina was stopped by the NM State Highway Patrol. They delivered a beating from the neck down. He could barely walk, but he looked fine.

Of course, cops are professionals, and less prone to passion over such matters. Either it was inexperienced Lab types doing the beating, or local hoods who didn't like the way this guy was ogling the dancers. I'm thinking Lab types, because why would hoods pick on THIS guy, when the club was full of oglers?

Or something! Who can say?

Apologies to Creedence Clearwater Revival (and the "detainees," particularly if the charges are inflated or incorrect):
Just about a year ago, I set out on the road,
Seekin' my fame and fortune, lookin' for jihadist camps.
Things got bad, and things got worse, I guess you will know the tune.
Oh ! Lord, Stuck in Lodi again.

Rode in on KAL, I'll be walkin' out if I go.
I was just passin' through, must be seven months or more.
Ran out of time and money, looks like they took my friends.
Oh ! Lord, I'm stuck in Lodi again.

The man from the madrassah said I was on my way.
Somewhere I lost connections, ran out of popsicles.
I came into town, a one night stand, looks like my plans fell through
Oh ! Lord, Stuck in Lodi again.

Mmmm...If I only had a dollar, for ev'ry cone I've sold.
And ev'ry time I've had to sell while kids stood there broke.
You know, I'd catch the next plane back to where I lived.
Oh ! Lord, I'm stuck in Lodi again.
Oh ! Lord, I'm stuck in Lodi again.
Al Qaeda in Lodi?

It's still too early to say much about this story, except to make two points:
  • The jihadist training camp where Hayat is alleged to have undergone jihadist training, is just about adjacent to Rawalpindi, one of Pakistan's big cities, and not far from the capital of Islamabad. That means the Pakistani government had to have been tolerating the camp's presence, even well after September 11th. Of course, Musharraff comes from a political party that has long favored jihadist camps, particularly with respect to Kashmir. Just another example of the murky politics at work in Pakistan, particularly with respect to terrorism.
  • It's remarkable just how few arrests we've heard about in the U.S. regarding Al Qaeda. There were the Lackawanna, NY, arrests, of course, but surprisingly few, all things considered. Three possibilities suggest themselves: 1.) the arrests have been many but secretive; 2.) the FBI has made few arrests because they know so little; or 3.) the FBI has made few arrests, in order to gather more intelligence. I lean to #2, but who knows?

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Struck by Lightning

Survivor stories:
About 70 percent of lightning-strike victims are afflicted with a bizarre collection of disorders that remain almost a total mystery to medical science. LeDoux, like most survivors, has a terrible short-term memory. "I would've been able to hide my own Easter eggs and not find them," he says. "I lose days, sometimes a whole week." He is easily distracted and often fatigued and has gone through spates of depression. "That first year when they told me I'd never be able to work again, I took a gun and put it to my head and pulled the trigger," he says. "But you know what? I forgot to load it."
Just Asking for Problems

Can't we spare them a buck or two?
On Sunday, members of Iraq's elite police commando units, heralded by U.S. and Iraqi officials as a key to stemming the insurgency, staged a protest outside Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone, saying they hadn't been paid in four months, witnesses said.
No Credibility Left

Having lost all credibility, the Bush Administration yields to the inevitable:
The Bush administration, having found no alternate candidate or support from any allies, has given up on its attempt to force out Mohamed ElBaradei as director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, according to two U.S. officials.

With ElBaradei's bid for a third term virtually guaranteed when the agency's board meets next week, the White House decided to invite him to Washington for a talk tomorrow with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice about the terms of U.S. support, the officials said.
Uncle Toby's OT

Listening to Brisbane radio, you get a peek at a different consumer culture. In some cases, it's essentially identical to American consumer culture (e.g. McDonald's, Subway), but sometimes it's different, like the fairly-obnoxious Uncle Toby's OT. Australian parents apparently agree.
Tropical Storm

Likely firing up by Saturday, SE of Bermuda (no threat to U.S.) Still, early!
Mary Carey Aligns Herself With Bush

Ah, so she begins to make good on her promise to run for President in 2012 (a promise made in the April 2004 issue of Hustler), by cozying to the Republicans!:
Last week, Carl Forti, communications director for the National Republican Congressional Committee, explained to WND that self-described pornographer Mark Kulkis and his date, porn star Mary Carey, will be attending the two-day event, "The 2005 President's Dinner and Salute to Freedom," next Monday and Tuesday because their money is just as good as anyone else's.
Michael Moore's Veracity

Mr. Davis:

Following the link on Andrew Sullivan's web site. I read with interest your comments on 'Bowling for Columbine.' It's important to note that SpinSanity and others have made errors regarding whether the rockets made at the Lockheed facility outside Denver were weapons or not.

When I was a student trainee in the mid-70's, working at the (then) Martin Marietta Aerospace CCMS facility in Denver (a satellite of the main facility in Littleton), it was a point of company pride that the Titan family of rockets was built in Littleton, Colorado. Titan missiles were the delivery vehicles for a large number of civilian and defense-oriented satellites, plus 54 nuclear-bomb-tipped missiles, based in silos in North Dakota, Missouri, and outside Tucson, Arizona. These liquid-fueled missiles were inherently dangerous, and thus were the first to be decommissioned (I think in 1986). But these missiles WERE built in Littleton, Colorado, same as the other Titan vehicles.

In 'Bowling for Columbine,' Michael Moore tried to illustrate the culture in which the young Columbine assailants had been raised, where everyone was in thrall to the defense contractor, and thus to the culture of war, whether people liked to discuss it or not. The assailants were born prior to 1986: certainly, their parents were. Whether one grants Michael Moore his tenuous claim of a link between the war culture and Columbine or not, it's important to acknowledge Moore did NOT commit major errors of fact here. Rather SpinSanity (and many others) have repeatedly erred in calling Moore to account on facts that tilt in his favor.

(I had an interesting E-Mail discussion with Mr. Davis regarding Michael Moore. Mr. Davis feels that it is a waste of time defending Michael Moore. I still feel it is an error to underestimate Michael Moore, or the impact filmmaking can have on propaganda).


A new book recognizes Keneth Feinberg's successful stewardship as Special Master of the September 11th Victim's Compensation Fund.
Shut the Camps Down

Juan Cole cuts to the chase:
Guantanamo Prison should be closed because it was conceived as the beginning of the end of the American Republic.
And now, Jimmy Carter takes a stand against Gitmo.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Christine Gregoire Wins

Yet again! And Rossi concedes!
Big Problems at LANL These Days!

Shut up, or we breaka' your face!
Bad Weather Derails Global-Warming-Related Arctic Expedition

Humor aside, nothing is proven here, except that the Arctic is a hazardous place. More snow could well be consistent with global warming: warmer air holds more moisture, after all, which may mean more snow. At least their propaganda point didn't cost them their lives!
An attempt by two men from northern Minnesota to cross the Arctic Ocean to call attention to global warming ended this morning because of poor weather conditions.

Lonnie Dupre, 43, and Eric Larsen, 33, were forced to abandon their planned 100-day, 1,200-mile trek after encountering unexpectedly heavy snow storms, strong winds and unusual ice conditions, according to Jane Kochersperger, a media officer with the environmental group Greenpeace, which co-sponsored the trip.


I guess people will smuggle anything!:
DOZENS of live tropical fish have been discovered strapped to an Australian woman arriving at Melbourne Airport.The 51 fish were hidden inside a purpose-built apron containing 15 plastic water-filled bags.

The apron was concealed under the woman's skirt when she arrived on Friday on a flight from Singapore.

..."We became suspicious after hearing these flipping and flapping noises," Mr. Latimer said.
Disappointed Wingnuts

The Beltway Boys struggle over Bill Clinton's legacy.

Remembering, with Michael Tomasky, what didn't happen with Hillary Clinton's fundraiser:
(I)t’s worth taking a moment to remark upon the May 27 acquittal of David Rosen, the fund-raiser for Hillary Clinton’s 2000 Senate campaign who’d been charged in a New Orleans federal court with hiding about $800,000 worth of costs for a gala Los Angeles event thrown for the then-first lady during her campaign.

Why is it worth remarking upon? For two reasons. First, in the weeks leading up to the jury’s decision, one could hear the galloping accelerando of wing-nut anticipation; FOX, for example, did more than a dozen segments devoted mostly or partly to Rosen’s fate in the three months leading up to the acquittal.

Walking point on this matter, of course, was Dick Morris. He wrote in his New York Post column nine days before the acquittal that the case against Rosen was “getting stronger, increasing the odds the aide will start cooperating with the government”; about a week earlier, he had appeared on a Hannity & Colmes segment -- titled “Are Hillary’s Presidential Chances Over?” -- outright accusing Clinton of having known about the underreporting of the event’s costs.
Why does this matter?
The right knows that if its historical interpretation of Clintonism can prevail, liberalism as a project can be killed for decades. That is, if they can convince America over the next few crucial years (crucial because historical interpretations of Clintonism are just really beginning) that the Clinton era was not one of prosperity, peace, and a demonstration that government can deliver common goods but was, instead, one of corruption, turpitude, and a fat and happy people discarding moral values for the sake of higher mutual-fund values, they will have won an extremely important argument with serious long-term ramifications.
Orbiting Within Kaiser Permanente's Gravitational Force Field

Went last night to Kaiser Permanente's Morse Avenue Hospital, to visit Friend Brian, who recently had surgery. First time I've ever been there. I found the 4th floor strange - an outer hallway, where visitors can roam in circles trying to find a nurses' station (or any human beings at all), and a hidden, inner corridor, where shy nurses can lurk until the visitors wear themselves out roaming in circles. Brian says everyone at Kaiser is nice. Like me, he was excited by the new nitrile gloves that seem to be replacing latex gloves everywhere. The nitrile gloves at Kaiser are purple, whereas the ones at Mercy San Juan Hospital are blue. Brian stressed the importance of visiting the hospitalized sick, so don't let the empty outer hallway scare you too much!

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Accuweather, PA's Senator Rick Santorum, and Overcharging Taxpayers

Friend Jerry notes:
It seems to me that what has happened here is that technology has caught up to the Accuweathers: There was a brief window during which the packaging of data was a difficult task, requiring a team of experts. Now, however, software packages exist that have essentially reduced the process to a few mouse clicks. Not much value added there.
My guess is that there is more than this $2000 Accuweather donation at stake. So, it's not just Accuweather whose interests are at stake, but even more companies! Time to attack the slimy bastards!

Today in Sunday morning ballet class, Pam Kay Lourentzos said 'come see "Tosca" at Capitol Opera!' And so I did!

CapOpera's version of Puccini's "Tosca" is double-cast, and features Lynn Panattoni & Karina Aslanian as "Tosca," Ilon Griffin & Anthony Ruiz as "Cavaradossi," Roger Smith & Lanny Malfar as "Scarpia," Brendon O'Brine as "Spoletta," and Ray Fisher as "Angelotti." Pamela Kay Lourentzos directed the show. Pamela Lourentzos was recently appointed to the position of Acting Artistic Director of the Opera Series, while Kathleen Torchia, General Director, is in Pennsylvania working with Capitol Opera, Harrisburg.

It was nice seeing the CapOpera folks again. Today it was Cast B playing the leads, which meant Roger Smith and Ilon Griffin were out in the audience, or working as part of the tech crew, rather than on-stage. Friend Monica Parisi was out in the audience.

A very nice show. It was very helpful having the projected supertitles: it's possible to interpolate the Italian, as long as one has some idea from the supertitles what is going on. Seeing that it was Pam directing, and especially after seeing Runaway Stage's Pirates of Penzance, I half-expected triple tours from the cast, but the movement was low-key, and appropriate. Anthony Ruiz and Karina Aslanian made a handsome couple, and they both sang very well. Lanny Malfar suavely and effectively portrayed Scarpia, the corrupt and power-mad man. It was sad that rebel Ray Fisher died as early as he did in the opera: he has such a good voice.

Afterwards, I gave Brendon O'Brine a ride to the Light Rail station, so he could catch a trip back to the Bay Area, where he lives(!) A dedicated lover of opera, he is!

Capitol Opera Sacramento is moving sometime over the next year, to a venue to be determined. Salina Donek's and Tony Silva's Broadway Bound series will be spun off, and apparently inherit Capitol Opera's current quarters.

On Monday, the Sacramento Bee published a review of "Tosca," which I reproduce in full, since not everyone is signed up for the Bee:
Published 2:15 AM PST Monday, Jun. 06, 2005
Opera review: Intimate 'Tosca' pulls no punches
By Rasmi Simhan -- Bee Arts Critic

The cast of "Tosca," from left: Roger Smith, Tyler Dahm and Lynn Panattoni.

Capitol Opera Sacramento performs in a theater so intimate that the events seem to unfold at the other end of your living room. Those events might include kissing, stabbing and suicidal leaps - or all of above - in Giacomo Puccini's "Tosca." You not only hear Tosca's anguish as she sings her famous aria "Vissi d'arte," you see it clearly in her face, and when she hurls a fan across the stage, it makes you jump.

This intimacy and sense of immediacy proved rewarding Friday night in the community company's production of "Tosca."

Directed by Pamela Lourentzos, "Tosca" runs through June 26 at Capitol Opera, 6219 Ross Ave. in Carmichael.

Certainly, in an ideal world, one would prefer a live orchestra over what sounded like a recorded synthesizer. But compelling performances by Ilon Griffin as Cavaradossi and Lynn Panattoni as Tosca often show the company taking advantage of and transcending its resources. Whether you're seeing "Tosca" for the first time or the 30th, you might say the true test is whether Cavaradossi's fate surprises and horrifies you almost as much as it does Tosca. And it does.

The heroine of the title is a diva so jealous that she envies the woman in her lover Cavaradossi's painting. But petty squabbles end after Cavaradossi shelters an escaped political prisoner in the Sant'Andrea della Valle church - nicely evoked here with candles and a statue of the Madonna.

Police chief Scarpia, who lusts after Tosca, twists the situation to his lecherous ends - and he won't stop at blackmail and torture to get what he wants. The missing supertitles in most of the third act Friday night may have confused some first-time viewers, but the gist of the action should have been clear.

As Cavaradossi, Griffin's agile, passionate voice gave the sense of power in reserve and did justice to Puccini's long, lovely vocal lines. There's a nice chemistry between him and Panattoni's Tosca. Panattoni shows eloquently, in voice and body language, the emotions that sweep through her in the course of the opera - love, revulsion, rage.

Lanny Malfar as Scarpia is duly dastardly but somewhat uneven. The supporting cast includes Ray Fisher as Angelotti and Suzanne Jones, who leavens the drama with a jolly turn as the sacristan.

"Tosca" closes the company's 14th season and is the last production in its Carmichael theater. The company plans to announce a new location and schedule for its 15th season soon.

WHO: Capitol Opera Sacramento
WHEN: 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays through June 26
WHERE: Capitol Opera, 6219 Ross Ave., Carmichael
TICKETS: $18 general, $15 for seniors and students
INFORMATION: (916) 944-2149,
About the writer: The Bee's Rasmi Simhan can be reached at (916) 321-1071 or