Saturday, July 16, 2005

Teen Years

Reflecting on the news that the Graffts are moving to Redding, I remembered when our family moved to San Diego from Albuquerque, NM, when I was 14. The idea then was that my father's friend had lined up a job for him and all we'd have to do would be to just show up and everything would be OK. That was a big mistake: we hung on for a month before making a similar, abortive move to Santa Fe, NM, where we hung on for yet another month (both times enrolling in, and being forced to leave school systems). Eventually, the sale of our house in Albuquerque fell through, and we moved back home, back where we started, penniless and traumatized about our ability to do anything right in the world.

The Graffts have advantages that we lacked, such as a flexible job, compatible school system, and a supportive church. Their future is bright, and I'm optimistic everything will be all right with them. Nevertheless, the news brings back the memory of old demons: old, but still living demons.

Friday, July 15, 2005

E-Mail Political Censorship

Right now, by Comcast and Bright Mail.
Better Late Than Never

Arnold grudgingly surrenders:
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said Friday he will end his multimillion-dollar consulting deal with two fitness magazines amid criticism that the work was a conflict of interest.

The governor said he will relinquish his title as executive editor of Muscle & Fitness and Flex magazines and forego any compensation.

...He plans to continue writing columns for both magazines but will not be paid. He said he has no plans to return money from the consulting work "because we haven't done anything wrong."

California law allows elected officials to keep outside jobs, and Schwarzenegger does not accept his $175,000 annual salary from the state.

...The governor said Friday that he has had "an extraordinarily close personal and business relationship" with Weider Publications for more than 35 years and saw no reason to end it after he was elected governor in 2003.

"Sometimes there's two different things - there's reality and there's perception, and perception is very powerful," he said.
Another Evening At AM/PM

The strangest, most emaciated man I've seen in ages walked up last night and offered a dime if I had any cigarettes. I had none.

Night before last, an ebullient eleven year old jumped around the parking, laughing uncontrollably, shouting "Hey niggaz!" at his friends, and swinging a bright yellow plastic bat at nothing in particular.

Last week, a tired ex-waitress from the Sunrise Denny's was certain I was an ex-regular-customer of hers. She lamented unspecified "errors of judgment" in her life.

Lost people regularly drive up, ask the way to Modesto or Roseville, get misdirected by the customers onto the wrong highways, and vanish into the night.

Weekly, the gruff parking lot cleaning crew comes around, with the high-pressure hoses that fill the air with a lung-grating fog, and with the dog that just will not ever stop barking, ever (I should bring Sparky those nights).

What a crowd! (And there's always the perv with the dog)

(Talking about dogs and hoses, and AM/PM customers..... : from Ubersonic at B3ta):

Emily's Long Reach

In a week or so, coverging moisture from Hurricane Emily and a Pacific tropical storm will turn southern and central Mexico into a sodden mess. In ten days or so, that moisture might be available for the SW monsoon. It'll be interesting to see what happens...
Now, Where Did Those Seals Go?

Interesting find!
In one of the most sensational archaeological discoveries in Germany, four papal seals dating back 600 years have been uncovered from a medieval toilet shaft in the northeastern city of Greifswald, officials said on Thursday.

The four round seals cast in lead date to the papacy of Pope Bonifatius IX (1389-1404). The 3,5cm seals, each weighing about 50g, bear the inscription "BONIFATIUS VIIII" on one side and images of the apostles Peter and Paul on the other.
Negotiating With Terrorists (Sorry, Insurgents)

Billmon notes that after President Bush's recent address, we are now, very publicly but very clearly negotiating with our enemies in Iraq, with our recently-leaked plan to draw down troops in Iraq:

Now there are a couple of interesting things about this leak. One is its specificity. It is, essentially, a timetable for a major drawdown of coalition forces -- the very same timetable that President Clueless has said we must not talk about where the children can hear, lest it encourage the terrorists.

Secondly, the plan was leaked to the Daily Mail, a staunchly anti-Blair, anti-war and pro-conservative paper, which seems like an odd place for the Blairites to place a deliberate leak, unless they didn't want it to look too much like a deliberate leak.

Thirdly, the leaked plan was quickly acknowledged as genuine by the British government. U.S. officials also confirmed its authenticity, at least on background, although they also made the politically correct noises about contingency planning, making sure the Iraqis have the tools to defend their own country, blah blah blah.

...We know the Cheneyites are desperate to get at least one leg out of the Iraq bear trap, for both military as well as political reasons. (Whether they want to get out entirely is not clear, but it seems safe to say that even if they do still want to hold Ft. Iraq, they need to do it with a much smaller force. They don't really have much choice.)

Finally, we know -- or at least have detailed reports -- that the insurgents are insisting on a timetable for withdrawal as a condition for doing some serious negotiating:

The Iraqis had agreed beforehand to focus on their main demand, “a guaranteed timetable of American withdrawal from Iraq”, the source said. “We told them it did not matter whether we are talking about one year or a five-year plan but that we insisted on having a timetable nonetheless.”

And now, suddenly, we have a leaked timetable popping up in the press -- plausibly deniable, but not denied, with a specific target and specific dates, and one step removed from the U.S. media market, where it could have gotten a lot more domestic attention if such attention was desired by the Cheneyites.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

A New Groove

Tuesdays and Thursdays, and more days if I can make it fit.....

Get my ass and every other thinking organ in my body whipped by an hour of Pepper Von's high-intensity aerobics class, and then chill with a double scoop of Swiss Orange Chocolate Chip Ice Cream in a waffle cone.

I don't know if this a good lifestyle or a bad lifestyle. But it's different, and that's what counts.

So, she's off to Paris!
POP diva Kylie Minogue is jetting off to Paris to be cared for by her love Olivier Martinez as she continues her breast cancer treatment.

Minogue, who had a lump in her breast removed in May, will fly to Paris with her mother next month for chemotherapy, the UK's Daily Mirror reported.

The 37-year-old beauty will stay at French actor Martinez's place, near Europe's largest cancer treatment centre, the Institut Gustave-Roussy.
And the unfortunate Frontier Touring Company, which a few weeks ago stated that answers regarding a rescheduled tour had to wait a few weeks, now says - we'll have to wait a few weeks.
More Than Just Appearances

A conflict of interest:
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger came under fire Thursday for accepting millions of dollars from fitness magazines in a consulting deal that critics say represents a clear conflict of interest.

Schwarzenegger is being paid at least $5 million over five years to serve as a consultant for several magazines published by American Media Inc., including Flex and Muscle & Fitness, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing Wednesday.
Top-Down vs. Bottom-Up

For months now, it's clear there's been an effort on California Talk Radio to push illegal immigration to the top of the stack of hot-button issues. For example, Mark Williams at Sacramento's KFBK AM-1530 has done his best over the last three months to push the issue forwards. Illegal immigration does frustrate numerous Californians, and can periodically be tapped as a source of political heat. Nevertheless, despite Arnold Schwarzenegger's invitation to the Arizona Minutemen to come to California to patrol the Mexican border, there's little sign that populist fervor has been raised much in the electorate. The campaign is very much a top-down campaign.

Campaigns become populist crusades when the popular voice is frustrated in one way or another. A perfect example is when Gray Davis successfully interfered with the 2002 Republican gubernatorial primary, securing the nomination for Dick Simon, who proved weak in the fall 2002 campaign. Populist rage, boiling everywhere since the 2001 electrictiy deregulation debacle, boiled over when it could not be vented at the polls. The boiling was most evident in the Republican camp, of course, but extended to Democrats as well. The 2003 California Recall Election, very much a bottom-up sort of campaign, resulted from voter frustrations.

Numerous propositions regarding immigration restrictions have made it to the polls in recent years (most notably Proposition 187 in 1994). The campaigns generally fail at their task of slowing illegal immigration, however, because the only really effective tool (levying severe penalties on employers of illegal aliens) is never presented as an alternative to the voters (too hard on the business community that sponsors most of these campaigns). Nevertheless, the issue HAS made it, repeatedly, to the polling place, and will assuredly do so in the future, in one guise or another. True populist rage on the issue can't really gel, however, unless it is frustrated. The unsatisfactory status-quo simply continues.

So, it's interesting to read Mark Chapin Johnson, a member of the Board of Overseers at the Hoover Institution, and CEO of Chapin Medical Company, discuss the issue in today's Wall Street Journal. In a curious, passive tone (very curious, passive tone, since he surely knows better), Johnson indicates that *things, you know, stuff!* will happen shortly in crazy California that will make illegal immigration the next populist crusade:
And now, ever so quietly and subtly, I sense that possibly another sea-change may come about. For all the flak Pete Wilson took for promoting Proposition 187, and for how it alienated the Latino community, his push resonated with a very large and frightened WASP middle class....I sense a deep and intensely growing concern and fear that illegal immigrants are completely overwhelming our state infrastructure.
Same as it has ever been! But surely, Johnson knows that the only leverage the business community and others will have to exploit this fear will be pour money into a campaign: by definition, a top-down campaign. Johnson continues:
The daily drumbeat of proposed higher taxes being needed from hard-working citizens to support medical services and K-12 education for a flood of illegals is enraging the average voter.
That's funny, I thought the recent daily drumbeat was that higher taxes, at least at the state level, weren't going to be required, at least this year. According to The Sacramento Bee:
The budget for the 2005-06 fiscal year avoids the borrowing that has plagued the state in recent years and does not raise taxes. It sets money aside to pay off some of the state's debt and increases funding to most programs, including $3 billion more for schools and $1.3 billion for road projects.
Damn inconsistent drum! Rhythmless Johnson then engages in wishful thinking:
This issue is one of those occasional, unique circumstances that can so suck all the air out of the other political discourse in California that budgets, education, and infrastructure may simply fade to the back pages while the "stop the illegals" debate takes over the front pages.
Only if the business community is willing to pay advertising rates for the front pages!
If this scenario takes traction, as it appears it will, the issue will be the only one that drives the next statewide election.
Maybe, but unlikely. Remember, if Latinos get as worked up again as they did over Proposition 187, the boomerang impact on the business community might be considerable. But I must defer to those who have the privilege of better information about the coming campaign. Tell us, Mr. Johnson, about the upcoming campaign you surely know more about! Speak so we all can hear, oh, monied Voice of the People!

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Ganga Giri

Australian-influenced tribal techno artist, will appear at The Gathering, Saturday Sept 24 (9am - 9pm) and Sunday Sept 25 (9am - 6pm), 8990 Kruithoff Way, Fair Oaks, CA (off Hazel between Winding Way and Sunset) at VFW Post 6158.
Dean and Nigel

Just trying to blend in.
Dennis Resets Sunken Ship

Acting as an artificial reef at Key Largo.

Arizona Democrats begin to equate Rove to DeLay in regards to fundraising:
Democrats are pressing for Rove to be fired or sanctioned and want Kyl to return funds from the Rove events. Rove has not been charged and Republicans are insisting that he did not disclose Plame's name.

"We urge Jon Kyl to do the right thing and return the campaign contributions he received at his event with Karl Rove," said DSCC communications director Phil Singer.
Zell Miller, Common Thief

That asinine former Governor of Georgia who converted to the Republicans:
The story, broken by an Atlanta television reporter named Dale Cardwell, is that Miller took home a $60,000 balance in the Governor's Mansion account upon leaving office. Speaking through a flack, Miller admitted taking the money, and claims it was part of his compensation as Governor. But Cardwell quickly and definitively established otherwise, by contacting every other living former Governor, along with legal and budget officials from both political parties. Looks like Miller is totally busted, though it's not yet clear he'll be prosecuted so long as he coughs up the funds pronto.
Dreams N' Stuff Productions

So this is where Capitol Opera's 'Broadway Bound' series is going! Courtesy of Dan Lee:

Subject: Dan Lee is Pharaoh Again

Yes, I am reprising my modest role as the Pharaoh in
"Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat." It's
a small, but colorful part.

With the reorganization of Capitol Opera, the Broadway
Bound series has gone off on its own under the new
name "Dreams N' Stuff Productions." Their first show
will be "Joseph" at Congregation Beth Shalom this
Saturday. Here are the details.

Show: Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
Dates and Times: July 16 - July 31, Saturdays at 8:00
pm, Sundays at 3:30 pm and 7:00 pm.
Location: Congregation Beth Shalom, 4746 El Camino
Avenue, Carmichael, CA 95608 (between Mission and
Admission: $10 all seats

Come see me do Elvis again.

How Did Rove Learn About Plame?

The simplest answer (and, all things being equal, usually the best answer to any mystery) is that President Bush himself informed Karl Rove that Valerie Plame was CIA, and directed the smear himself.

Shades of Watergate!
My Bad

Questions of etiquette.... The auto driver sat astride the unmarked crosswalk, trying to turn onto J Street (one way) from 22nd. Instead of crossing 22nd on foot in front of his vehicle, I crossed behind, so as to allow him to turn when traffic permitted. Apparently the driver felt he had inched too far forwards. While I was directly behind his car, I saw the reverse lights come on, and was barely able to jump out of the way as he punched the gas in reverse: I dropped my newspaper. Apparently that was when he thought to check his rear-view mirror, and noticed me in distress. When he rolled down his window to ask after my health, I said "your car is on top of my newspaper." He was relieved and went on his way, but I could have been hurt. I wonder what I SHOULD have said to him?
Dealing With Tech Support

What, oh what, do 'Merican systems managers do at work all day?
A DMTC Dream

Last night, I dreamt that I was pushing a shopping cart through the Safeway in Davis, when I met Arthur Vassar pushing a shopping cart in the other direction. I asked if he would partner me as I did a double pirouette. The pirouette went well but something went wrong with the finish: Arthur stumbled off with a wrenched back, and I fell into a large vat of Cocoa Puffs.

I don't know what it means either.
Lions, Tigers, and Bears

Oh my! And in the middle of Indiana too!
Everybody's a Critic

The Pope and Harry Potter:
"It is good, that you enlighten people about Harry Potter, because those are subtle seductions, which act unnoticed and by this deeply distort Christianity in the soul, before it can grow properly," wrote Cardinal Ratzinger.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

London Bombers

Perhaps British-born men of Pakistani descent.
Cursor Love Bunny Good

Not for the shaky!
Pheonix Has A Website

Nice, personalized home on the Web!

(Photo of Pheonix Vaughn by 521 Productions, 2005)
Be All You Can Be

The 135 Candidates of 2003 Soldier On!

According to The Carpetbagger:
If scandal-ridden Rep. Duke Cunningham (R-Calif.) runs for re-election, as he claims he will, he'll have to deal with a primary challenge for the first time in his career. Businessman George Schwartzman, who runs a health records management company, announced yesterday that he will take on Cunningham next year.
George Schwartzmann - he ran as one of the 135 candidates in the 2003 California gubernatorial recall election!
Rove's Comeuppance

For a guy who supposedly won so much political capital in 2004, Bush looks bankrupt this year, and Rovism is why:
Whatever happens to Rove, though, the Rove system has had not just a bad week, but a bad year. The Plame smear was very much in keeping with the Rove system, which is as much as anything else a sort of postmodern way of managing beliefs: vague possibilities can be asserted as absolute certainties; things known to be false -- such as the Niger-uranium story -- can be maintained as at least possibilities.

The real test of the Rove System has come in the policy fights of 2005, particularly the Social Security reform battle. No president before Bush would have run the reelection campaign that Bush ran in 2004, focused entirely on destroying his opponent, for the reason that it would give him no mandate to govern. The Rove System changed that rule. It says, do what it takes to win, and political capital comes with winning, coupled with being a wartime president and making whatever assertions about facts and possibilities are necessary to win. (Bush gave much of the system away in his post-election press conference.) But that has turned out to be wrong. Bush couldn't simply assert a mandate for policies that he had barely mentioned in the campaign, and certainly had not put to the electoral test. And as the command-and-control structure of the Rove System begins to come apart, it will come apart absolutely.
Non-Toxic Frog Glue

Apparently non-toxic glue exuded by this friendly little Australian notaden (or Holy Cross) frog might be pretty handy:
The CSIRO estimated the market potential for use in wound closure was more than $1 billion, and for hemostats (agents that stop bleeding), more than $3 billion. (picture by Jo-Ann Robinson)

Bermuda High Strengthens

The Bermuda High over the North Atlantic finally strengthened this week to levels usually seen at the height of summer. There are two consequences of this strengthening:
  • Developing Hurricane Emily is unlikely to approach the U.S. mainland. Earliest indications are that the storm will barrel across the Caribbean and hit Belize and Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula instead; and,
  • The actual start and the formal start of the Southwest monsoon season occurred this year at about the same time (approximately July 10th). The monsoon looks like its starting quietly, though, so not much will happen for a few days.
(Art work by Deborah McMillion-Nering: the folks in Phoenix can hardly wait for the summer monsoon season to get going in earnest!)
A Relationship, Not Just A Wallet

Paperwight makes a good point at how the Democratic National Committee and other mainstream Democratic organizations just don't get E-Mail and its proper use.

Monday, July 11, 2005


Goes out the door with this consumer-friendly Parkinson's disease drug. Before you know it, the economists will make sure the drug gets placed in every city's water supply:

Dr. Leo Verhagen, a Parkinson's specialist ... says he and some colleagues all have a few patients who developed compulsive gambling while taking Mirapex, a drug that relieves tremors and stiffness. The behavior usually disappears when the drug dose is lowered, Verhagen said.

...California attorney Daniel Kodam, who filed the lawsuit last year, said he's spoken with more than 200 Mirapex patients who developed compulsive behaviors, including excessive gambling, sex and shopping.

...Mirapex was among top-selling Parkinson's drugs last year, with more than $200 million in U.S. sales, according to IMS Health, a pharmaceutical information and consulting firm.

Mirapex, or pramipexole, reduces tremors and the slow, stiff movements that are a hallmark of Parkinson's disease. It belongs to a class of drugs that mimic the effects of dopamine, a brain chemical that controls movement and is deficient in Parkinson's disease.

Mirapex targets dopamine receptors in a brain region associated with emotions that include pleasure and reward-seeking behavior, Dodd said. It can also cause extreme sudden sleepiness.

...Though a few of the Mayo patients took related drugs, Dodd said most used Mirapex. They included a 68-year-old man who lost more than $200,000 at casinos over six months and a 41-year-old computer programmer who became "consumed" with Internet gambling, losing $5,000 within a few months.

What Tangled Webs We Weave!

Did Robert Luskin, Karl Rove's lawyer, inadvertently blow the Plame case wide open by giving desperate Matt Cooper an honorable way out of going to prison?

Remember, it's not a great leap from 'Joe Wilson's wife' to 'Valerie Plame': she's apparently listed as his wife in "Who's Who in America."
Be Loud, Be Proud!

Conservatives win when they force liberals to cower out of a fear of social disapproval. Don't do conservatives' work for them! This problem seems especially rife in ultra-conformist, power-mad Washington, D.C.: thank goodness this isn't a big West Coast problem! Never be ashamed about what you think! Be loud, be proud! We aren't in high school anymore, and you don't have to worry about what the jocks think! No one respects liars and dissemblers, and certainly not your fellow liberals. Look at how your bowing and scraping is being portrayed in the conservative press today!
In a desperate bid to sanitize his gathering and control how its attendees would be perceived by the POST, the MOVEON host emailed talking points to his guests. A copy of those talking points was obtained by the DRUDGE REPORT.

Fazio warned his guests: “Its very important that if you talk to the reporter, you stay on message. Remember, it is quite possible that our event will be the one the POST uses to represent the entire MoveOnPac effort this weekend.”

The key message for the event: “The momentum is finally shifting away from extremism. We will not accept a extremist nominee. This is not about conservatism vs liberalism or Republicans vs Democrats, this is all about extremism vs moderation and we're on the side of moderation.”

The MOVEON host reminded his guests: “We don't want to come across as leftist, liberal activists. We want to come across as we are - regular folks who are finally saying enough is enough to the extremists; that we're not falling for their extremist rhetoric anymore and we're finally going to expend the effort necessary to get our country back.”

Fazio: “Please stay on message and just know that ANYTHING you say can be taken out of context and used against the effort.”

One last suggestion from Fazio to his liberal MOVEON party-goers: “Oh, because a photographer will be here, might I suggest we put away our ‘Bush is a Liar’ t-shirts. Let's look like they do.”
General Facts About Emphysema

Here is an informative, but very general, slide show about lung disease, aimed specifically at the occupational risks endured by British coal miners, but there are a few references to emphysema here as well.

Apparently even non-smokers will develop emphysema eventually, just from exposure to germs, air pollution, and the degradation of age, perhaps reaching disability level around age 130 - 150, or so (if other things didn't put us in our grave first).

For example, an FEV1 reading of 0.8 liters is about 20% of the healthy 25-year-old reading of about 4 liters (slide 3). According to slide 4, a 20% reading is approximately halfway between the level of disability (about 30%), and death (about 8%). Judging from the curves, with such a reading, a person might be expected to have about three years left to live.
Dennis Spelled Backwards Is 'Sinned,'

Political satire revolving around late Hurricane Dennis.

It's still too early to say much about Tropical Depression #5: it seems to have a similar track as Dennis to start with, but maybe slightly more southerly. Plus, the Bermuda High may be stronger by the time it gets into position to affect the U.S. (which might mean a storm heading for Texas instead). But it's still too early to say with any confidence - these are just the early hints. Yesterday, it looked like #5 would dissipate altogether, but today's forecasts show it surviving into the Caribbean, where it can engage in mischief. Still, total dissipation is still an option, should Mother Nature choose it.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Dennis Smacks Pensacola

I'm glad to hear that everything went well in Tampa, with relatively small problems (I'm hoping they are small problems) in St. Petersburg. I was disappointed that the storm never went as far west as I thought it was going to go, but rather seemed to make a bee line from Havana to Pensacola, swinging west just far enough to avoid causing you too much aggravation. That's hard on Pensacola: getting direct hits from two major hurricanes on two succeeding years.

What was nice this year was that the meteorologists were mostly of one mind about the storm's direction, and just quibbled about details. We didn't have the same tension as with Ivan last year, wondering whether the storm would make an abrupt change of direction with little notice.

My hopes and prayers are with the people near Pensacola. Signing off until the next tropical depression!
Mad Hot Ballroom

'Mad Hot Ballroom' is a thoroughly charming movie (showing now at the Crest), dramatizing the trials and tribulations of New York City 10-and 11-year-olds in learning ballroom dancing, and competing (featuring Ann Reinking as a judge in the finals competition).

Here is an interesting article about clearing the copyrighted music for use in the film.

After the movie, a gothish crowd was gathering for the Trash Film Orgy's midnight showing of 'An American Werewolf in London.' I lingered briefly in the lobby, partly out of curiosity, because Trash Film Orgy out-competes me regularly on the Sacramento's Top 25, and partly to see if I knew anyone there. At the far end of the lobby, helpful young people spanked those needing discipline; in the middle of the lobby, a hydraulic-powered werewolf lunged forward and snapped its teeth; at the near end of the lobby, Mr. Lobo of the 'Insomnia' cable TV show sold T-Shirts (I bought one). After the ballroom movie, I felt more like Dr. Jekyll than Mr. Hyde, though, so I gingerly excused myself and slipped past the Werewolf Girls and the cops.