Saturday, June 09, 2007

Dragged Kicking And Screaming Into The Modern Era

Been trying to avoid this......Now what do I do? I now have ONE MySpace Friend. Should I get more? How many more? What do I do with them all? Host a party?

I am SO out of it.....

[UPDATE: Now, two!]

Friday, June 08, 2007

Anna & Caitlin & Gabriel, And Special Guests Derren Raser Band Perform This Saturday

Left: Derren Raser (photo: K.C. Alfred, San Diego Union-Tribune).

Rehearsal last night sounded just great with DMTC's Young Performers' Theater (YPT) chanteuses, Anna Miles and Caitlin Humphreys! Gabriel Moctezuma will also sing along with Anna for one of the songs.

Derren Raser and his band from San Diego will also perform. Listen for Derren Saturday morning on KDVS radio, at 9 a.m.

Here are details:
DMTC Concert Series
Saturday, June 9, 2007, 7:30pm

Purchase Tickets on-line at DMTC.

Derren Raser returns from San Diego to perform again at Davis Musical Theatre Company (DMTC), with special opening singers, DMTC's Young Performers Theatre's Caitlin Humphreys and Anna Miles.

Davis Musical Theatre Company’s “Keep the Music Playing in Your Community” concert series hosts folk/pop/jazz sensation Derren Raser at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, June 9th, at DMTC’s Hoblit Performing Arts Center, 607 Pena Drive, Davis. Derren Raser performed previously at DMTC on February 10, 2007 and we heartily welcome him back! Two DMTC Young Performers, Caitlin Humphreys and Anna Miles, will open the concert, accompanied by regular DMTC pianist Erik Daniells and the DMTC Band.


Derren Raser (Website):

**One of Music Connection Magazine's “Top 100 Unsigned Artists of 2006”**Award winner at 2006's John Lennon Songwriting Contest.An old soul in a new age, Derren Raser stands out from the monotonous fray of popular music. Witty, well-spoken and wise beyond his 20-something years, singer-songwriter Raser will move you with his thoughtful lyrics and haunting melodies. His ballads are old-fashioned folk stories and beautiful tributes to love lost and found.Combining lively folk-rock and classic singer-songwriter traditions with the hard edge of contemporary pop and rock influences, Derren Raser has honed a cutting edge sound that is immediately both fresh and familiar. Born and raised in suburban Kansas, Derren has undertaken the Southern California music scene and emerged with his wholesome Midwestern sensibilities intact. He employs a thoughtful, sincere approach to songwriting and performing - his dynamic live performances have been described as “emotive expression that is nearly flawless in its purity" (Jake Sibley--944 Magazine). His guitar work is centered on pristine and intelligent arrangements, each note painstakingly placed to complement the stark clarity of his unmistakable voice.

Raser is a regular on both the San Diego and Los Angeles music scenes, and is constantly working to bring his unique music to new audiences. Derren and his music have recently been featured on NPR’s “All Songs Considered,” and have appeared in 944 Magazine, Union Tribune, the Troubadour, Olathe Daily News, and numerous online publications. Raser's 2006 album, “King of I’ll Tell You Next Week” has been hailed as “awash with talent!” (Andrew and “wildly entertaining” (Craig Yerkes--the S.D. Troubadour).

Anna Miles
Anna Miles, a sophomore at Elk Grove High School in Elk Grove, has performed in numerous local musical theater with Davis Musical Theatre Company (‘Wendy’ in “Peter Pan”; ‘Mayzie LaBird’ in “Suessical’, and as ‘Belle’ in DMTC’s Young Performer Theatre's forthcoming Summer 2007 production of “Disney’s Beauty And The Beast”). She recently won much critical attention at Sacramento Theatre Company (STC), as ‘Scout’ in “To Kill A Mockingbird” and ‘Fan’ in “A Christmas Carol”. She has also performed with Sacramento's Runaway Stage Production's Storybook Children's Theatre (“Hansel and Gretel”).

Caitlin Humphreys
Caitlin Humphreys, a sophomore at Will C. Wood High School in Vacaville, has performed in numerous local musical theater with Davis Musical Theatre Company (e.g., ‘Jan’ in “Grease”; ‘Captain Hook’ in “Peter Pan”; ‘Bird Girl’ in “Suessical”, and as ‘Mrs. Potts’ in DMTC’s Young Performer Theatre's forthcoming Summer 2007 production of “Disney’s Beauty And The Beast”). She recently won much attention as the lead in Solano Youth Theatre's production of “Cinderella”. She also has performed with Fairfield's Missouri Street Theatre (e.g., ‘Allison’ in “Breakfast Club”, ‘Sarah’ in “Holiday Express”, etc.) and at Will C. Wood High School.
Caitlin and Anna, both age 16, are not only among the strongest Young Performers at DMTC, but are friends as well.

In addition to Davis Musical Theatre Company’s (DMTC) Main Stage and Young Performers Theater (YPT) musical productions, DMTC now presents concerts showcasing talented local, regional, and touring artists. The artists selected will vary in musical style, but all will be fantastic, and all concerts will be family-friendly events.

DMTC goals in presenting these concerts are:
· Raise funds to support DMTC youth education/community outreach and to keep the American musical theater art form alive in Davis and accessible to everyone. DMTC is a non-profit 501(c)3, all volunteer community theater company with a 22-year history of excellence in artistic achievement and community service.
· Support talented local, regional, and touring artists, raising public awareness of their great work and keep their music playing too.
· Enrich the community by providing affordable, outstanding musical entertainment in a family-friendly environment.
Letting Sleeping Ducks Lie

UCD's Putah Creek park, last Saturday.

I found my camera again! Now I can update the "Urinetown" post!

Fun in front of UCD's Main Theatre!
Kylie 2008 USA Tour In Works

My hopes are rising!:
Elle: Some good news for you, Kylie will be touring the USA in 2008!!
Marc: Kylie is going to tour here? Yippee!
Elle: Yes, that's what she plans as US fans have complained for years that she hasn't toured there so her plans are to tour next year for the album, taking on the USA!!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Elle's Explanation

"Elle" explains her role in the premature appearance of brand-new Kylie tracks on the Internet (in comments for this post). Her explanation is so bizarre that it can't possibly be true, yet that very bizarreness must mean it can't possibly be false.

It must be fun working there at Parlophone/EMI!
Just The Most Entertaining Storm

The SE Australian spinning storm system is endlessly entertaining. I'm getting nothing done, just watching it spin, trying to decide which way it's going to go next.

Yesterday, the center of circulation cycled northwestward, back into central New South Wales (NSW). The storm has weakened considerably, but the center of circulation crossed back into Queensland, near Hungerford NSW, in the far west, earlier today. The storm has been pumping much moisture into central NSW, which can only help the drought situation in the Murray/Darling River basin, but it has also caused no end of chaos in Newcastle (with coal freighters running aground in the surf) and in Sydney, with heavy rains and winds.

All day long, the storm's been at a saddle of high pressure. The money is still on the center of circulation sweeping eastward, over Brisbane (with chances of thunderstorms), tonight or tomorrow, but there is a chance it could abruptly change direction and head south instead, towards Victoria (I hope for this outcome because it would be almost completely unexpected, and it would rattle the meteorologists).

The low pressure system over NSW, and the high pressure system SW of Tasmania, are like two cogs in a watch, or better yet, like matter and antimatter, self-destructing upon collision in a blinding flash of light.
Putin Springs A Surprise

Very clever! Probably caught Bush completely flat-footed:
RUSSIAN President Vladimir Putin today offered to set up a joint Russian-US anti-missile base to end a crisis between the two countries as Group of Eight leaders agreed a face-saving compromise on climate change.

Mr Putin wrong-footed Mr Bush with his offer to share control of the system from a radar base in Azerbaijan rather than in Europe.

The Russian President sprang his surprise offer at a one-to-one with Mr Bush, which both sides described as constructive and non-confrontational despite a dramatic war of words in the run-up to the G8 meeting in Germany.

Mr Putin had threatened to retarget Russian nuclear missiles at Europe if the US went ahead with plans to locate interceptor rockets in Poland and a radar base in the Czech Republic, while Mr Bush warned Mr Putin to stop “hyperventilating” over the issue.
Have You Seen My Camera?

It's like, lost, or something....
Derren Raser Hits The Road Today

For Saturday's concert at DMTC! Buy your tickets now at!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Extra Credit

Reading my blog, Gabe detects .... an inconsistency. Citing my previous Kylie post:
Gabe: "Just tell me where to send my credit card info when the project's completed."

Hmmm...I seem to remember someone complaining about a certain politician being "sold out" to MBNA (a reference to an intemperate remark I made regarding Senator Joseph Biden of Delaware).

Sounds like "someone" is sold out to a credit card company as well...
Marc: Sold out to the credit card habit, but not to the credit card companies (I hope, provided the two can be distinguished.....)
Gabe: That’s right. I have to make a distinction between the drug addict, and the drug dealer, and the drug trade. It’s not your fault. You’re just a pawn of the system. They made you do it. The charge for annoying you with be $12.00 with a discretionary fee of $3.00. Have a nice day.
Marc: Give credit (and a lot of it) when credit is due.....
Central NSW Coast Now Gets Hammered

The rains ended in Brisbane. Strong mid-latitude storms like this one occur several times in a typical Sacramento, California winter, but they are rarer closer to the equator, and apparently fairly uncommon in Brisbane: I'm surprised to discover it was the wettest storm in Brisbane's dam catchment areas in nearly two years:
The Wivenhoe, Somerset and North Pine dams received their best falls since October 2005, but many more days of rain are needed before supplies begin increasing, SEQWater operations manager Rob Drury said.

``While last night's rainfall is welcomed, another 50 to 60mm is needed overnight to start significant inflows into the dams,'' Mr Drury said.
The storm's power is now being directed at the rain-impoverished central NSW coast. Lots of chaos today in Newcastle and Sydney makes for an ungrateful populace, though:
WHILE torrential rain has caused flight delays in Sydney and flash-flooding on the NSW Central Coast and in Sydney's south, it has failed to raise dam levels.

...The State Emergency Service (SES) has received 30 calls for assistance, mainly from people at Kincumber, near Woy Woy on the Central Coast, and at Canterbury in southern Sydney.

"We do expect to get more requests for assistance coming from the public," SES spokesman Phil Campbell said.

"But as this low pressure system develops off the coast, if that does result in some very strong winds, then that can bring down trees and can increase our call load significantly."

The storms began on the Central Coast and are moving through Sydney as they head south.

Areas of Sydney's north shore have recorded up to 70mm of rain since 9am (AEST) yesterday, the Bureau of Meteorology says.

The western and southwestern suburbs have received up to 50mm during the same period.

But little rain has fallen over the Warragamba catchment area, which supplies Sydney's water, although some is expected over the next two days.
Novakula Channels A Negative Edwards Vibe

Which just makes me like Edwards more. The more the Establishment Democrats signal that they won't challenge Bush directly on the Iraq War, the more likely a movement towards John Edwards becomes:
The dynamic performance by John Edwards in Sunday's Democratic presidential debate, assailing his competitors for the nomination, got high marks from political reporters, Republican politicians and left-wing activists. But not from the Democratic establishment. Once their great hope for the future, Edwards now is massively unpopular among party regulars, who neither like nor trust him.

The performances at the Goffstown, N.H., event by the two front-runners, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, were error-free if a little leaden. Edwards, the third man in the big presidential field, supplied the fireworks by taking on Clinton and Obama. On the surface, he seems a perfect candidate: eloquent, smart, handsome and shrewd. Is he reminiscent of the two slick Southerners who were the only Democrats elected president in the past 40 years? Yet the prospect of an Edwards-led ticket evokes deep apprehension inside the party that he would be another flawed nominee.

His nomination is not that remote a possibility. For decades, Democratic leaders have exerted little influence on the making of the party's nominee, with decisions ceded to primary voters. Edwards is staking everything on the Iowa caucuses, where he periodically leads in the polls. If he begins the delegate selection process with a victory there, he could be unstoppable (as John Kerry was after he won Iowa).

Even though Edwards may end up being the party's nominee, prominent Democrats are surprisingly candid about him. Mark Siegel, a 35-year party insider, told me: "He came to Washington as a 'New Democrat,' but he's not that kind of Democrat anymore. He's into class warfare."

Edwards has not worn well with party colleagues. Campaign consultant Bob Shrum was enthusiastic about Edwards after working on his 1998 Senate victory in North Carolina and unsuccessfully advised Gore to make him his 2000 running mate. But Shrum chose Kerry over Edwards as his 2004 presidential client. In his newly published memoir, "No Excuses: Concessions of a Serial Campaigner," Shrum explains: "I was coming to believe he wasn't ready; he was a Clinton who hadn't read the books."

...The ardor for a politically accident-prone Edwards has also cooled in the labor movement, where an endorsement from the Change to Win coalition led by Andrew Stern and James P. Hoffa is now far less likely than it was in December. Hoffa reportedly still regards Edwards as the most pro-labor presidential candidate but doubts whether he can be nominated.

So Edwards must rely on true believers who will brave the bitter Iowa cold in the dark of night to attend caucuses. That's the kind of voter impressed by Edwards lashing out at Obama and especially Clinton on the war. Iowa Democrats in 2004 pulled back from catastrophe at the 11th hour and abandoned Howard Dean when they contemplated the impact of a Dean victory. Party leaders hope Iowans will take a similarly hard look at John Edwards.
Theft, Or Marketing, Or Something Else?

Dunno, but it's probably good marketing, nonetheless. Kylie denies it, calling it 'disheartening'. Won't make any difference to me. Just tell me where to send my credit card info when the project's completed:
ONE song leaked online looks like carelessness, but when up to 10 demos linked to Kylie Minogue's new album are circulating in cyberspace, it feels like marketing.

Minogue's post-cancer comeback project has been a leaky vessel since November 2004 when a song she wrote with New York glam pop act the Scissor Sisters appeared online.

But in the past fortnight, five new songs have been uploaded onto file sharing sites, while fan sites are claiming that a three-CD set of 49 demos exists for those canny enough to track them down.

It adds up to an audio scrapbook of works in progress, including a song written for Kylie by Boy George and a rumoured cover of Culture Club's 1980s hit Victims.

But should we think we're so lucky? More likely we're just being had, by a cunning cyber age twist on the old record company ruse of manipulating what gets played where.

Leaking online might not be as obvious as bribing disc jockeys to play songs, but it might be just as effective.

"She and her record company leaked the tracks deliberately," said music industry analyst Phil Tripp, who runs Australian music consultancy Immedia!

"It's the newest gimmick in the industry, the leaking of tracks. It's the new marketing black. It's at a time when she needs as much positive press as she can get. Not just her, but everyone in the industry. You need as much exposure as you can get, and you need as much advance publicity as possible."

The music blogs agree. "We don't really approve of leaked tracks flying around the web before an album's even been completed," said British music site Pop Justice but, in the case of Kylie Minogue, the constant, relentless barrage of leaked material seems suspiciously intentional.

...Although YouTube has already pulled many of the fan-made videos for the demo songs, at the insistence of the record label, and some of the file-sharing sites have blocked the pirate downloads, the songs have already been widely distributed by Minogue's active online fan base, through forums and blogs.

Kylie impersonator Lucy Holmes, the singer in tribute band 100%Kylie, discovered new tracks Stars, Fool For You and Sensitized more than a week ago on one of the fan sites.

"It's classic Kylie pop," says Holmes. "She's staying true to her pop roots." Holmes doesn't think the leaks will hurt future sales. "Not many people get to hear them," she says. "They just get to hear about them. It's just a little entree, a little tease."
Gag Me!

So Murdoch buys MySpace, and he's the genius? Plus, as Ailes well knows, no one is afraid of Fox (just ask the Bancrofts), it's just Democrats do not want to lend legitimacy to scurvy propaganda outfits, no matter how much money they dump into the Congressional Black Caucus. And gag me with this most undemocratic gathering singing paeans to democracy!:
Mr. Murdoch hosted the 9th annual presentation of the Eric Breindel awards for opinion writing alongside Fox News boss Roger Ailes and Newsweek senior editor Lally Weymouth.

Ms. Weymouth glowingly introduced Mayor Bloomberg.

“Everybody in New York that I know thinks he’s a brilliant mayor,” she said. “And everyone thinks he would be a brilliant president.”

“Nine years ago, who would have thought this would be one of the most prestigious awards in journalism?” Mayor Bloomberg said. “But, then again, nine years ago, who would have guessed the hottest thing on television would be a national talent show called American Idol. Or that the highest-rated news program would be one calling itself a 'No Spin Zone.' Or the most popular site on the Internet would be an interactive photo album called MySpace.”

“What will Mr. Murdoch think of next?” he asked. “I guess you’ll just have to ask the Bancroft family.”

...“We’ve become increasingly successful, and yet we’ve been increasingly criticized," [Mr. Ailes] said to the crowd about his company. "Sometimes for being too pro-American. Sometimes we’re too pro-Israel. Sometimes too pro-democracy.

"I’ve been quoted as saying, ‘This is a great country.’ A lot of people are trying to get in, nobody’s trying to get out. The press is an essential pillar of that democracy. The press didn’t invent democracy. Democracy invented freedom of the press. So we will investigate anything and find the truth, and report it, but we do not get up every morning, assuming that our country is guilty. We just happen to like democracy."

And he had some choice words for Democratic candidates who have decided not to debate on Fox.

“The candidates that can’t face Fox, can’t face Al Qaeda,” said Mr. Ailes. “And that’s what’s coming.”
For The Older Set

The younger set call these arcades:
When Chester Cohen visited the Conservatory Senior Living community in Keller last year, he was impressed that it has not one, but two fitness centers.

The first comes equipped with exercise gear to keep the blood circulating and the muscles toned – stationary bikes, treadmills and weights.

But the second appealed to the 85-year-old even more. It houses a brain fitness program to keep the mind sharp.

Mr. Cohen and his wife of 52 years, Hazel, moved in and signed up for the eight-week brain training program, developed by Posit Science Corp.

After completing the 40 hours of computer exercises, the two say they're better at remembering names and concentrating on what people tell them.

"I'm having fewer senior moments," Mr. Cohen said.

..."Scientists once thought that the brain was hard-wired at birth and that some cognitive abilities began declining early in life," said Dr. Sandra Chapman, director of the Center for Brain Health at the University of Texas at Dallas. "We now know that good nutrition, physical exercise and mental stimulation can improve the brain's functioning at any age."

Memory Loss

I have trouble with names. Other people have trouble with dates. There is help....

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Cyclone Gonu

Wow, it's going to go right across the Straits of Hormuz! :
Thousands of people fled low-lying areas Tuesday as the strongest cyclone to threaten the Arabian Peninsula in 60 years barreled toward the oil-rich Persian Gulf—with southern Iran next in its path.

Cyclone Gonu was expected to skirt the region's biggest oil installations but could disrupt shipping in the Straits of Hormuz, causing a spike in prices, oil analysts said.

..."If the storm hits Iran, it's a much bigger story than Oman, given how much bigger an oil producer Iran is," said Antoine Haff of FIMAT USA, a brokerage unit of Societe Generale. "At a minimum, it's likely to affect tanker traffic and to shut down some Omani oil production as a precautionary measure."

Late Tuesday, Cyclone Gonu, packing winds of 120 mph and gusts up to 150 mph, was churning northwest through the Indian Ocean about 265 miles southeast of Oman's capital, Muscat, according to meteorologist Donn Washburn. Rain from its outer edges was reaching some coastal areas, although the storm was weakening as it roared through an area with shallower water and drier air.

Gonu, which means a bag made of palm leaves in the language of the Maldives, is predicted to brush by the east coast of Oman and head to the Gulf of Oman, with heavy rains and strong winds forecast over the country to its capital, Muscat, Washburn said. The cyclone was expected to hit land in southeastern Iran late Wednesday or early Thursday, Washburn said.

The Joint Typhoon Warning Center, a U.S. military task force that tracks storms in the Pacific and Indian oceans, predicted rough seas in the Straits of Hormuz, the transport route for two-fifths of the world's oil and the southern entrance to the Gulf.
A Great Day In Brisbane

I have some quibbles with the storm. It's a little too far east for best effect, so SW Queensland isn't seeing the rain, some interior places aren't seeing that much, and it's raining like heck over the ocean where it does little good.

On the other hand, it's raining heavily right now right in the dam catchment areas, so even if the ground soaks up a lot of runoff, Brisbane's water supply will get a bump. And there's more rain forecast tomorrow too. Some isolated places are forecast to get more than 4 inches of rain, total, from the storm.

But it will end after that, unfortunately, with a quiet week forecast afterwards. And it will be time soon enough to burn yet more incense to the Southern Hemisphere Rain Gods, who have been so unrelentingly cruel to this corner of the world for the last decade.

Monday, June 04, 2007

"High School Musical" - DVD

Cute show - not terribly memorable by my taste, but I can see why people like it. The trademark Disney approach of using appealing people energetically doing fun stuff - the Cheetah Girls, for example - is used to great effect here.

There are a few funny lines, such as:
Man, that music isn't hip-hop, okay, or rock, or anything essential to culture. It's show music. It's all costumes and makeup... oh, dude, it's frightening.
Nevertheless, there aren't as many funny lines as there could have been, a testament to clumsy writing, a feature not only of new Disney, but old Disney too, from way, way back. Not as funny as 'Clueless', but it's got great dancing.

Actually what got my attention was the location of the story - Albuquerque! For Disney to set a full-length movie musical in my home city is something completely unexpected, like the time I returned to Corrales (just outside Albuquerque) and discovered people had built a trotting track for llamas. I'm overjoyed with the extra effort, but what could they possibly have been thinking? Too bad the home high school is "East High": all the cool people live on the west side of town in Albuquerque (I'm from West Mesa High School, Class of 1974). But I digress....

Looking at the background mountains in the outdoor locations, I could tell they had filmed it somewhere else other than Albuquerque. It didn't look like California either. Where was it filmed?

According to imdb, it was filmed in Salt Lake City and Murray, Utah. And the high school? It's East High School in Salt Lake City, not far from the University of Utah! I used to ride my bike past that place every day when I lived there (1989-90)!

Indeed, in the Science Club Garden scenes, at the base of the background mountains, you can see wavecut benches, artifacts of the last Ice Age, when giant Lake Bonneville, precursor to today's shriveled Great Salt Lake, filled the entire valley with water. Those benches are most-prominent on the SE side of the valley, and indeed, that's where the camera was pointing.

The real East High School team name is the Leopards: in the movie, it was the Wildcats. Of course, the University of Arizona team name is Wildcats, and indeed, in the movie, I thought I could see the U of A mascot, Wilbur The Wildcat, dancing in the background (I went to U of A from 1980 to 1988).

It's strange how the various threads of your life rearrange after awhile, like DNA, into unexpected combinations.

The DVD features an extra disc, with several signature dances choreographed, so you can dance along with it, as I was doing at 2 a.m. this morning, distressing the dog with my clumsy mimicking, molasses tempo, and ineffective waving.
Don't Think 'Irresponsible' Thoughts

MSNBC says it's 'out of context', so just flush it clean out of your mind:
Video of MSNBC's Joe Scarborough bantering on the cable news network Friday about whether Fred Thompson's wife "works the pole" is sparking criticism of Scarborough from the right, left and in between.

A spokesman for the news network said this afternoon, though, that the comment has been taken out of context and that it is "irresponsible" to suggest Scarborough was employing sexual innuendo. "Works the pole" could have been a reference to poles that some strippers use in their acts. MSNBC says it was a reference to an exercise routine that a growing number of women are performing.
It's Raining In Roma!

This week's Queensland rainmaker beginning to make itself felt.
Graziers in the Maranoa, Warrego, Central West, Central Highlands, Coalfields, Capricornia, Wide Bay, Burnett Darling Downs and Granite Belt districts are warned that a rain band developing today and persisting Wednesday will be followed by a very cold outbreak of SW winds on Thursday and Friday. Possible sleet developing about southern border ranges on Thursday and Friday. There is a serious risk to vulnerable animals.
Tale Of The Chicken

Prehistoric travels across the Pacific have been scoffed at, because of the distances involved, but evidence continues to accumulate that Polynesians were doing some traveling. Thor Heyerdahl, with his epic 1947 journey of the Kon-Tiki, may have been onto something:
Despite Heyerdahl's demonstration, the idea that Polynesians could have routinely — or even occasionally — navigated across the Pacific was considered farfetched, primarily because of the lack of proof.

"Scientists have not been willing to fully accept the idea" of prehistoric contact between Polynesia and South America, Jones said, "but it is hard to understand why."

The most convincing previous evidence of cultural contact was the presence of sweet potatoes — a native American plant — at archeological sites throughout Polynesia.

Most notably, sweet potatoes dating from about AD 1000 have been found on the Cook Islands. Equally important, Jones noted, the name of the potato used throughout Polynesia is the same name given it by South Americans.

Heyerdahl's trip and the discovery of the sweet potatoes showed that South Americans could have taken the sweet potato to the islands but did not demonstrate that the islanders could have come to South America.

The new findings show that definitively, said archeologist Elizabeth A. Matisoo-Smith of the University of Auckland, the senior author of the new report.

The chicken bones studied were recovered from a site called El Arenal-1 in south-central Chile, about a mile and a half inland on the southern side of the Arauco Peninsula. Thermoluminescent dating of ceramics from the site indicates it was occupied from AD 700 to 1390.

Analysis of the bones was conducted by graduate student Alice A. Story in Matisoo-Smith's lab.

Matisoo-Smith said she didn't expect much from the study because finding evidence of Polynesian contact would be like "finding a needle in a haystack."

But radiocarbon dating showed the bones were about 622 years old. Even with potential errors, they dated from AD 1321 to 1407 — before Spaniards first trod the New World.

Genetic analysis of the chickens showed that they were identical to genetic sequences of chicken from that same time period in American Samoa and Tonga, both more than 5,000 miles from Chile.

The sequences were very similar to those of chickens from Hawaii, also about 5,000 miles distant, and Easter Island, located about 2,500 miles away.

"I was pretty excited when the dates came back as clearly pre-European," Matisoo-Smith said. "There were no questions. The Europeans didn't pick them up in Polynesia and bring them back" to South America, she said.

Sailing into the wind from the islands to South America "requires significant sailing technology and navigational skills," she said. "But if you look at the winds, leaving from Easter Island, you would actually land [in South America] around the area where El Arenal-1 is located. You could then make the return voyage further north."

Jones of Cal Poly is particularly pleased because the find supports his theory that Polynesians also landed in the Northern Hemisphere. He and linguist Kathryn A. Klar of UC Berkeley have argued that the Chumash Indians of Southern California learned to build their sewn-plank canoes from the Polynesians, in part because the names of the ships are very similar in the two unrelated languages.

Composite bone fishhooks used by the Indians also closely resembled those used in Polynesia.

If we know they landed in Chile, he said, "then why is it so difficult to imagine they couldn't have made it to Southern California from Hawaii?"
White House White Horse?

Where Mormon folklore meets Potomac fever:
It's Mormon lore, a story passed along by some old-timers about the importance of their faith and their country.

In the latter days, the story goes, the U.S. Constitution will hang by a thread and a Mormon will ride in on a metaphorical white horse to save it. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints says it does not accept the legend - commonly referred to as the "White Horse Prophecy" - as doctrine.

The issue, however, has been raised on those occasions when Mormons have sought the Oval Office: George Romney was asked about it during his bid in 1968, Sen. Orrin Hatch discussed it when he ran in 2000, and now Mitt Romney.

The disputed prophecy was recorded in a diary entry of a Mormon who had heard the tale from two men who were with Joseph Smith in Nauvoo, Ill. when he supposedly declared the prophecy.

"You will see the Constitution of the United States almost destroyed," the diary entry quotes Smith as saying. "It will hang like a thread as fine as a silk fiber."

Not only will the Mormons save the Constitution, under the prediction, but the prophecy goes further, insinuating that Mormons will control the government.

"Power will be given to the White Horse to rebuke the nations afar off, and you obey it, for the laws go forth from Zion," the prophecy says.

The LDS Church denounces the premonition, which was recorded 10 years after Smith's death. A church spokesman pointed to a quote from the faith's sixth president, Joseph F. Smith, who called the prophecy "ridiculous."

...In the 2000 presidential race, the prophecy again made news during Hatch's failed bid for the White House. The Utah Republican and Mormon commented on the Constitution hanging by a thread during a radio interview, fanning thoughts of whether he was referring to the prophecy. Hatch says he was not referencing the premonition.

..."It's dubious whether this originated with Joseph Smith but it seems to have a life of its own," Barlow says. "While most Mormons may not have heard of it, there are some themes that have some currency."

The main theme is the apocalyptic end of the world and the phrase that the Constitution - which Mormons believe was divinely inspired - will "hang by a thread."

Still, Barlow says it's doubtful the so-called prophecy will make a big splash during the campaign.

"It's too esoteric than bigger things like polygamy that will get brought up," he says, referring to the practice of marrying multiple wives that the church officially denounced in 1890.
Hmmm. I don't know about that. Some supposedly esoteric things have the way of catching the imagination.

Anyway, like the House/Dance/Electronica group 'Goldfrapp' says:
In the whirlpool
We'll go deeper
In this world that's
Getting cheaper
I wanna ride on a white horse
I want to ride on a white horse

I like dancing
At the disco
I want blisters
You're my leader
I wanna ride on a white horse
I want to ride on a white horse

Lend me a whole new world
All night
Feel life
(Oh Oooh)
When is there ever sense
To love
This world
(Oh Oooh)

Embarrassment, not necessity, is the mother of inventions:
Brian Conant stood alongside his fellow National Guardsmen during a training session about eight years ago in Hawaii. He was wearing a heavy chemical warfare suit lined with charcoal.

"Any time I expelled gas in the suit, I realized nobody could smell it," Conant, 48, says. "It was amazing."

...But with Conant's invention, the Flatulence Deodorizer, also known as Flat-D, there is an alternative way to limit the embarrassment.

The long, narrow washable pad, lined thinly with charcoal, absorbs chemicals, including hydrogen sulfide, a byproduct of the bacteria that causes odorous gas. The pad, at $12.95, curves with the contour of the body, and one size fits most.
The Joke's On Him

I can think of some knock-knock jokes, but I'll pass:
LIVINGSTON, Texas -- A condemned inmate wants to leave them laughing.

Patrick Knight is collecting jokes and will pick the funniest one for his last statement before he is set to die June 26 for shooting his neighbors, Walter and Mary Werner, to death almost 16 years ago outside Amarillo.

...He's had about 250 wisecracks mailed to him on death row or e-mailed to a friend who has a Web site for him.

"Lawyer jokes are real popular," he said. "Some of them are a little on the edge. I'm not going to use any profanity if I can find the one I want, or any vulgar content. It wouldn't be bad if it was a little bit on the edge. That would be cool."

...Knight said he got the idea for a joke as his last statement after a friend, Vincent Gutierrez, was executed earlier this year and laughed from the death chamber gurney: "Where's a stunt double when you need one?"

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Walt Takes A Closer Look At Global Warming

Friend Walt Kubilius received an E-Mail from a friend urging complacency in the face of Global Warming warnings (reproduced below, in full):

Relax, the planet is fine
Money is partly to blame for the global warming hysteria, Professor Richard Lindzen says.

Linda Frum, National Post
Published: Saturday, April 21, 2007

This Earth Day , Professor Richard Lindzen, an atmospheric physicist and the Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Meteorology at MIT, wants you to calm down. The Earth, he says, is in good shape. "Forests are returning in Europe and the United States. Air quality has improved. Water quality has improved. We grow more food on less land. We've done a reasonably good job in much of the world in conquering hunger. And yet we're acting as though: "How can we stand any more of this?"

A leading critic on the theory of man-made global warming, Professor Lindzen has developed a reputation as America's anti-doom-and gloom scientist. And he's not, he says, as lonely as you might think.

Q. - You don't dispute that the globe is warming?
A. - It has never been an issue of whether the Earth is warming -- because it's always warming or cooling. The issue is: What are the magnitudes involved? It's a big difference if it's warming a degree or two or 10, or if it's warming a few tenths of a degree.

Q. - And it's inconclusive how much it's warming?
A. - Sure it's inconclusive. It's a very hard thing to analyze because you have to average huge fluctuations over the whole Earth, and 70% of the Earth is oceans where you don't have weather stations. So you get different groups analyzing this. And they're pretty close. One group gets over the last century a warming of about .55 degrees centigrade. Another group says it's .75 degrees.

Q. - Is there any scenario in which global warming could be beneficial for the planet?
A. - Of course.

Canada looks like it will benefit considerably if it were to happen. And it might very well happen -- but it won't be due to man.

Q. - You charge that the hysteria that's been created around global warming is an enormous financial scam. It's all about money?
A. - Well, how shall I put it? It's not all about money, but boy, there's a lot of money floating in it. I mean, emissions trading is going to be a multi-trillion dollar market. Emissions alone would keep small countries in business.

Q. - Are you suggesting that scientists manipulate their findings to get in on the gravy train?
A. - You have to differentiate the interests of different groups. In the scientific community, your interest is for your field to be recognized so that it will have priority in government funding.

Q. - So you are not accusing your scientific colleagues of corruption?
A. - No, I'm accusing them of behaving the way scientists always behave. In other words, some years ago, when Richard Nixon declared war on cancer, almost all the biological sciences then became cancer research. I mean, I don't call that corruption, I'm saying you orient your research so that it has a better chance to get resources.

Q. - And it helps if your findings suggest something catastrophic is about to happen?
A. - In this case it certainly has helped. First of all, the funding increased so greatly that it exceeded the capacity of the existing field to absorb it. You'll notice that Working Group 2 of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change came up with lots of scary things, but everything was always preceded by could, might, may, all these qualifiers. And the reason it was is those studies start out assuming there's a lot of warming. They assume all the science is in, and then they say, 'Well, how will this impact my field of insect-borne diseases, or agriculture, or health?' So they are almost, by definition, going to generate catastrophic scenarios, but they will never be based on anything other than the hypothesis that this will already happen.

Q. - I read that you bet one of your colleagues that the Earth will actually be colder 20 years from now?
A. - I haven't bet on it, but I figure the odds are about 50-50.
If you look at the temperature record for the globe over the last six years, it's gone no place. That's usually the way it behaves before it goes down. In fact, I suspect that's why you have this tsunami of exposure the last two years, with Gore's movie and so on. I think that this issue has been around long enough to generate a lot of agendas, and looking at the temperature records there must be a fear that if they don't get the agendas covered now, they may never get them.

Q. - Did you watch Al Gore get his Academy Award?
A. - No! Bad enough I watched his movie.

Q. - He would appear to have the support of the majority of your scientific colleagues.
A. - Not really. This is an issue that has hundreds of aspects. The very thought that a large number of scientists all agree on everything is inconceivable. Among my colleagues, I would say, almost no one thinks that Gore's movie is reasonable. But there will be differences. Some believe it is possible that warming could be a serious problem. Others think it's very unlikely. People are all over the place.

Q. - Some suggest that Roger Revelle, Gore's scientific mentor, would not have agreed with the movie?
A. - Well, he's dead.

Q. - Yes. So that makes it harder for him to speak out.
A. - It's a horrible story. Before he died, Roger Revelle co-authored a popular paper saying, 'We know too little to take any action based on global warming. If we take any action it should be an action that we can justify completely without global warming.' And Gore's staffers tried to have his name posthumously removed from that paper claiming he had been senile. And one of the other authors took it to court and won. It's funny how little coverage that got.

Q. - How cynical do you think Gore is?
A. - It's hard for me to tell. I think he's either cynical or crazy. But he has certainly cashed in on something. And 'cash in' is the word. The movie has cleared $50-million. He charges $100,000-$150,000 a lecture. He's co-founder of Global Investment Management, which invests in solar and wind and so on. So he is literally shilling for his own companies. And he's on the board of Lehman Brothers who want to be the primary brokerage for emission permits.

Q. - That sounds more cynical, less crazy.
A. - I think his aim is not to be president. It's to be a billionaire.

Q. - What do you find to be the attitude among your MIT undergraduates on global warming?
A. - I find that they realize they don't know enough to reach judgments. They all realize that Gore's book was a sham. They appreciate that Michael Crichton at least included references.

Q. - That's encouraging. Because I find the indoctrination at schools to be pretty relentless. On a recent Grade 7 test my daughter was asked something to the effect of, "How are you going to educate your parents about global warming?"
A. - I know. It's straight out of Hitlerjugend.

Q. - Having said that, are there any behaviours we should be changing, as a society, in order to protect our planet?
A. - Yes. We should learn math and physics so we don't get fooled by this idiocy.
Now, Walt often finds himself in sympathy with Bush Administration's positions and ideology, but he also is well-educated in the natural sciences, and sensitive to the concerns of scientists. Which way would his understanding guide him on Global Warming? As might be expected, he is guided, first and foremost, by the numbers. Walt's response is reproduced below.

(note: the 'PhD-level atmospheric physicist' cited below is myself, Marc Valdez).


L: Thank you for sending that Global Warming (GW) article. I think it is important for each of us to stay informed about this stuff, and it is good for you to stay interested. It is also good for me to read these articles. I get so caught up in my own work and outside interests, that sometimes I need prompting from someone else to keep up. Obviously you are inviting me to comment on the Lindzen article, so I will do so here.

Of course on the highest level, the impact of the article is “here is a professional atmospheric physicist who doesn’t believe in global warming”, with the implication that since this MIT professor isn’t worried about it, then we don’t have to either. I’ve seen a lot of this approach on FoxNews – they will point out some expert somewhere who doubts global warming, and treat that simple fact as some sort of compelling reason to disregard GW.

If you think about this argument for a minute, I believe you will see how weak of an approach it really is. Identification of some individual who disbelieves X is not a valid argument against X. I read about some neo-Nazi who denies the Holocaust. Since he denies it, should I doubt it, too? On the other hand, if a physicist doubting GW is an argument against GW, then a physicist believing GW must be an equally strong argument for it.

A friend of mine from high school is now a PhD-level atmospheric physicist. His day job is modeling atmospheric processes, and he meets other physicists all the time, and reads atmospheric physics research all the time. I asked him how many atmospheric physicists agree with Lindzen. Here is his reply:
If I had to guess, about 95% of the Atmospheric Physics community is concerned about Global Warming, and only about 5% think it is overblown. It's about as close to unanimity as is possible to get any group of scientists to regard any open question. The main reason it wins such approval is because the effect of CO2 in trapping infrared radiation is reasonably well-understood, and because ambient CO2 levels are increasing, seemingly inexorably. The basic idea of Global Warming was first advanced in the 1880's, and has never faced effective counterargument. There's plenty of squabbling about the rate at which temperatures might change, when, and where, however.

I hope the contrarians persist, however, because it is important never to have unanimity on any open question. Nevertheless, the academics are largely of a settled mind, and it's the various other elites in society who insist the question must remain open, if only to delay or derail expensive regulatory efforts.
So, for every MIT professor who is not concerned about GW, there are 19 MIT or Harvard or Yale professors who are worried about it. Based on this reasoning, the GW-believing team dominates thoroughly, and wins.

Actually, the fact that an MIT professor is not worried about GW cuts absolutely no ice with me at all. The important thing is his reasons for doubting GW. So what does he say in the article?

Astonishingly, a full two-thirds of his conversation in the article is devoted to personal slights against other scientists, and Al Gore. Why is he doing this? The questions of whether GW is occurring or not occurring, or whether GW is bad or not bad, or whether GW is manmade or natural, or whether we can or should do anything about it, are completely independent of whether Al Gore is a good person. Why would an MIT professor, who is perfectly capable of addressing the matter in a technical fashion, decide instead to make ad hominem attacks of the sort which any journalist or blogger can manage? Lindzen’s only claim to relevance regarding the GW issue is his technical expertise, but he chooses not to apply it in this article. What’s up?

A big ad hominem point of his is the assertion that GW scientists are in it for the money. Well, it is true that all scientists want to be funded, but if “they just want to be funded” is taken as a valid argument against a scientific opinion, then there is no point doing any scientific research at all because, like I said, they all want to be funded. Why should we try to cure cancer, if all those cancer scientists are just looking for funding?

Personally, when forming opinions on technical questions, I am not interested in ad hominem attacks, or conspiracy theories. I just want to look at the data. What did Lindzen say about the data? He did say that the earth has been warming over the last century. Well, that’s what the other 95% of atmospheric physicists say, too. The only other statement he made regarding the actual data was that global temperature has been steady for the past 6 years. To my knowledge, no theory of GW will be disproved by a 6-year steady stretch. He didn’t actually refer to any data which contradicts the GW hypothesis.

Enough about Lindzen. Let’s look at some data. Figure One shows temperatures over the past 2000 years, as reconstructed by 10 different research groups. Figure 2 is the same data, for the past 1000 years, so you can see the reconstructions more clearly.

So what should we make of this? First, they don’t agree precisely with each other. This is not surprising, since each group used different methods, and applied them to different locations. However, they do agree with each other with respect to trending. They all agree that the 11th century was warm, and that the 17th century was cool. This is in accordance with historical weather records from Europe, indicating that the researcher’s methods are basically sound. Furthermore, they all agree that the 20th century is also warm – in fact it is either tied for warmest (with the 11th century), or it is the warmest, in the last 2000 years.

Two important points: first, although the 11th and 20th centuries as a whole are similar, the last 20-25 years (since 1980) are definitely warmer that any previous time since 1 AD. Second, starting around 1900, the rate of warming has been accelerating. It is evident to me, as a scientist, that some process has been affecting climate in the 20th century, which was not important previously. What process could that be?

Emission of CO2 into the atmosphere is a process which has been accelerating since the 19th century, due to human burning of fossil fuels and deforestation. Atmospheric CO2 concentrations have been increasing at a corresponding rate, and the amount of the increase is within the known amount of manmade loading. Let’s spell out some points numerically:

1. It is well established that CO2 in the atmosphere will warm the earth due to the greenhouse effect.

2. It is well established that human emissions of CO2 were insignificant prior to the mid-1800s, but have been accelerating at an increasing rate since then.

3. Measured CO2 air concentrations are also increasing, at an accelerating rate.

4. Temperatures have been rising since the late 1800s, at an accelerating rate.

Figure 3 shows atmospheric CO2 concentrations since 1000 AD, as reconstructed from air bubbles in the Law Dome Antarctic ice core. This core has annual layers, like tree rings, which make it possible to measure atmospheric CO2 content directly for any year in the past 1000 years or so.

Compare Figure 3 with Figure 2. It looks to me like there is a very good correlation between global temperature and atmospheric CO2.

Now, nobody is saying that manmade CO2 is the only variable affecting climate. There are several natural phenomena which can affect it, such as sunspots; and yes, scientists want to be funded to study these processes. There also may be presently undiscovered phenomena, and yes, scientists want funding to look for those, too.

The sunspot theory is an interesting one. When the sun has a lot of sunspots, it gives off a little more energy than it does during quiescent periods. There is an 11-year cycle in sunspot numbers, but beyond this, there are longer-term fluctuations which appear to affect earth’s climate.

Figure 4 shows the sunspot counts collected since 1609, when the telescope was invented.

The blue lines represent annual counts, varying according to the 11-year cycle. The black line is a running average; when the black line goes up, solar energy output goes up. Compare Figure 4 with Figure 2. The Maunder Minimum, in the 17th century, corresponds to the Little Ice Age. The Dalton Minimum, centered around 1810-20, corresponds to a dip in temperature in Figure 2. It looks like sunspot numbers have an effect on earth’s climate, just like atmospheric CO2 does. But which is affecting our climate now, and which will affect it in the 21st century?

Figure 5 shows global temperature since 1860, along with atmospheric CO2 concentration, and sunspot numbers.

What does this Figure tell us? First, temperature between 1860 and 1960 rose moderately. CO2 concentrations also rose during this period, but sunspot numbers also rose during that same period. So we can’t really tell which phenomenon – sunspots, or manmade CO2 emissions – was more important in controlling climate during that period. However, since 1960, something different happened. The number of sunspots, and hence solar brightness, has declined, but CO2 concentrations continued to go upward, and at an accelerating rate. Furthermore, global temperature also continued to climb upward, also at an accelerating rate. Since 1960, the observed accelerating temperature increase cannot be explained by solar activity, but it is consistent with an accelerating level of CO2 in the air. I find this graph to be convincing evidence that manmade CO2 emissions are making the earth get hotter.

What will happen in the future? As earth’s population grows, and as China and India become more developed, and as deforestation continues, will humans emit more CO2, or less? If we extrapolate the CO2 curve, and the temperature curve, for the next 100 years, how hot will it get?


So what will be the effects of GW? I don’t believe there will be any important changes in the next 20 or 30 years, but if nothing is done to reduce CO2 emissions, my guess is that there will be hell to pay in 50 to 100 years from now. The main thing to remember is that is it not the magnitude of the temperature increase which is the problem – the earth has been warmer than today many times in the past – it is the rate which will make trouble. Species and ecosystems can adapt to change, only if they have sufficient time to adjust. See Figure 1 for the wildly accelerated rate of warming which the 20th century saw. Here are some things which may happen:

1. Ocean pH has decreased by 0.1 units since 1900, due to carbonic acid derived from increasing atmospheric CO2. If carbon dioxide emissions are not reduced, the ocean’s pH will be lowered by an additional 0.2 units by 2100. That is a total change of 0.3 units in a 200 year period. Now, salt-water aquariums are notorious for the difficulty in keeping the animals alive – owners must constantly measure chemical parameters and make adjustments to various concentrations; if they don’t, most things in the aquarium die. The reason for this is that marine invertebrates and plankton can only live within a very narrow range of chemical conditions. If that range is exceeded, the plankton die, and then the animals which feed on the plankton die, and so on. The ocean’s chemical properties are changing due to manmade CO2 emissions, and the rate of change is increasing. At some point, the capacity of plankton to cope with acidity will be exceeded, and there will be a general worldwide dying of marine life quickly after that. Once it starts, there will be nothing we can do about it. My guess is that the first ecosystem to go will be coral reefs.

2. Most of the world’s wheat is grown in semiarid climates, like the western US Great Plains. These areas get 15-20 inches of rain per year. What will they be like in 100 years, when the earth is several degrees warmer? Will places which are now semi-arid become wetter, or drier? We don’t know; but if they become drier, then wheat production and cattle production will not be possible at current levels.

3. In many predator/prey relationships (like swallow/mosquito, or shorebird/horseshoe crab), or ecological producer/consumer relationships (like flower/bee), the life cycles of the species involves are synchronized so that the producer (or prey) is most available at the time when the consumer (or predator) is raising young. As climate changes, the timing of these cycles will also change. If one cycle moves forward during the spring, but the other cycle is unable to change fast enough to keep up, then mass starvation of the consumer/predator species will occur. For example, many songbirds migrate to northern Canada and Alaska in late May, in order to raise their young on mosquitoes which are abundant there for a 3-week period in early-mid June. Suppose that because of earlier arctic springs, mosquitoes maximize their numbers in May instead of June. When the songbirds hatch their young, the mosquito peak would then have already passed, and most chicks will starve. Things would work out OK if the songbirds changed their migration time accordingly, but it is believed that they mostly won’t be able to adjust fast enough. It would only take a 5 to 10-year delay in adjustment for the songbird population to crash. Many species which are abundant and successful today will probably be endangered or nearly extinct in 100 years.

4. As the earth warms, Virginia will develop a climate like Georgia has now, and Georgia’s climate will resemble Puerto Rico’s later in the 21st century. Tropical parasites and disease vectors which cannot now survive in the US, will be able to thrive in the Gulf Coast states in perhaps 30 to 50 years. Malaria, dengue fever, trypanosomiasis, leishmaniasis, tapeworms, amebic dysentery, etc., will become well known here. Not all of these diseases are curable – for example, malaria is not. Furthermore, it will be not only humans who will be affected by tropical diseases, parasites, and fungi; but also our native animals, farm animals, native plants, and crops. These diseases currently hit Africans badly enough, but when people, crops, and farm animals of American or European descent become exposed, the mortality will be much worse, because we/they don’t have the partial immunity which is present in Africa. It will be like when smallpox was introduced to America – it made Europeans sick, but it killed native Americans.

5. The economic effects of GW in the US and Europe will not include starvation, but merely economic disruption. However, in the third world, which is barely able to feed itself now, starvation is a possibility. Economic consequences will be worldwide, and even Canada, which you might think would benefit from GW, will be caught up in the global reduction in standard of living (as it got caught up in the worldwide economic disruption of the 1930s). Since the US is currently the largest producer of CO2 in the world, and since we are conspicuously wasteful, and conspicuously uncooperative in GW legislation, everyone in the world who is hurt by global warming will blame the United States.

One more thing about Lindzen. Although I won’t devote 2/3 of this letter to discrediting him, I will mention that he is, or has been, a paid consultant for OPEC, oil companies, and coal companies. He takes money from organizations with a vested interest in putting more CO2 into the air.

Well, L., This is perhaps more of a comment than you expected. If you have read this far, I thank you for your time.

Walt Kubilius

All figures are from the Wikipedia articles on Global Warming and Solar Variation. References for the original raw data are given there.
"Urinetown - The Musical" at UC Davis

Left: UCD's Main Theatre, where "Urinetown - The Musical" played.

(second draft)

Saturday night was a bit of a reunion - several people involved in the recent production at River Stage at CRC came to see what they had missed before: the audience's perspective. The elder Strongs were there (Monica and Michael), plus several orchestra members.

Left: The cast, at bows.

The set design at UCD was sublime, with wacky proscenium angles (Scenic Design, Robert Broadfoot). The arch over the stage featured a water pipe and several small trap doors. The stage right proscenium had a doorway, and an elevated platform. The stage left proscenium featured a big sewer pipe cross section, with a grate. The back stage area had doors that opened side-to-side, as well as up-and-down, plus an elevated backstage walkway. Public Amenity #9 was tilted, and featured a backlit screen area upon which various toilet shadow play occupied the audience, particularly just before the show's start. In short, the stage design was great!

The UCD show was much brighter than the River Stage show, with highly-stylized violence (generally play-acted violence, very soft, except for several vivid images of dummies tossed from on high). Much more of a Pop vision of environmental crisis than CRC had! The two dystopias had differences in visions of the future between bright neon and film noir, between Dick Tracy and Batman. Of course, "Urinetown - The Musical" can be played engagingly both ways. The SN&R review makes similar points. Another point: UCD's Main Theater is considerably larger than River Stage, and so the shows were different just for that reason.

As an oppressive corporate tyrant, UCD's Caldwell B. Cladwell (Jesse Merz) was much more of an Eisenhower Republican; at River Stage, (Rodger McDonald) a Bush Republican. In 'Don't Be The Bunny', it was hysterical seeing Caldwell B. Cladwell playing 'whack-a-mole' with bunnies that popped up from individual floor tiles. Very clever! And the Energizer Bunny zooming around the stage in a RC-controlled toy car! So funny! We were all gasping for air!

Director/Choreographer Mindy Cooper's choreography was inventive and fun. I was happy that Rebekah Shepard got a modern dance solo in 'Run, Freedom, Run'. Her Alvin-Ailey-inspired 'Revelations' dancer-in-white was perfect as counterpoint to the ensemble.

In general, because of their depth of acting experience, the actors at CRC edged out the UCD actors. Because of their youth and energy, one might ordinarily expect the UCD actors to have edged out the CRC actors in dance and movement, but choreographer PKL checkmated them there: both shows featured energetic and highly-entertaining dance. UCD had the edge with an innovative set, however.

What a pleasure it was to see both shows, and see both visions, made manifest!
Coachella Rubbish

The crazy ways of 26 illegal dumps:

"As recently as 18 months ago there was a school project where kids living in and around the reservation filmed the burning in the illegal dumps and were chased off by armed men."

Cesar Rafael, 17, of Thermal was one of those kids.

"They shot a gun into the air," he said. "I was trying to film when it happened."

A virtual Wild West atmosphere prevailed at the AuClair dump. Methamphetamine use was common, deputies said. At least 13 people lived in makeshift shelters. On a recent visit, a man pulled up and warned that two other men were shooting at each other around the corner.

Back in the brush, Tonetta Torro, 50, tended the four wolves she keeps tied up for protection. She has spent four years here in a tent but plans to leave soon.

"I hear gunshots all the time," she said. "Still, I feel sad to go."

The arrival of trailer parks on the reservation in the 1990s heightened a sense of urgency about the dumps.

More than 12,000 people, mostly farmworkers, live in five ramshackle parks. The biggest sits beside the Lawson dump site.

In 2003, the EPA issued an internal memo reporting dioxin levels 20 times the national average at the dump.
Disturbing Murder

Some crimes seem particularly outrageous, because the crime is close to home, and because it is so easy to imagine yourself in the same shoes as the victim. Mary Ourk's killer must be found:
Ourk was with a group of friends Friday night at The Empire nightclub near 15th and R streets. She left shortly before 2 a.m. Saturday in a car with a female friend.

As Ourk was driving south on 12th Street, a car behind her started honking. She pulled over near 12th and W streets, believing she knew the person in the honking car.

Then the car pulled up next to her. Someone inside fired a round into the car Ourk was driving, killing her. Shattered window glass slightly injured her passenger. The car with the shooter drove off.

"There doesn't appear to be anything now that indicates these folks were involved in an altercation," said Sacramento Police Sgt. Glen Faulkner. "We just couldn't quite fathom a reason on why this event happened."

Police have only vague descriptions of the suspect and his vehicle, Faulkner said: the car is believed to be a white four-door sedan, the suspect a man with short hair.