Saturday, September 01, 2007

The California Horn-A-Thon Mar-A-Thon: Longhorns Vs. Ankole Watusi

Left: Longhorn, with teensy-weensy horns

Good God! It isn't even a contest! The African Ankole Watusi have the biggest freakin' horns ever seen!

Well, at least one of these could never sneak into your house unannounced!
Peaches, The Moluccan Cockatoo

She even lets you scratch her!
NOAA's Spherical Earth Display

Four projectors shone specially-prepared motion picture images of the Earth's weather over the last month to admiring spectators.

The week-old image to the left corresponds to the surprisingly-heavy flooding in the vicinity of Noosa, the resort town on Australia's east shore.

Africa and Arabia look clear, but there's lots of clouds in the Indian Ocean, and cold fronts march eastwards south of Capetown, South Africa.

Hurricane Dean approaches the Jamaica in the image at left.
California State Fair 2007

Some images from this year's fair. In general, I liked this year's fair better than last year's, mostly because of the llamas, but also because attendance seemed to be lower, and thus the experience was more pleasant - less crowding.

We speculated that maybe attendance seemed to be off because of the same tired set of vendors showing up every year that people saw in years before, but who is to say for sure. The displays seemed to be good, and the animals are always entertaining.

Memorable T-shirts:
On a ten-year-old girl: "Too much drama for your mama."
On a woman in her mid-thirties: "Keep staring and I might just do a trick."

Teenage girl to her boyfriend: "That's not what I said, white boy."

Pirates of the Midway - Chris Petersen, Scott Sablan, Andrew Lemons, and Ryan Tidwell menace DMTC Co-producer Steve Isaacson with light sabers.

Three-day-old piglets just wanna have fun.

Cal Expo water tower.


End of the evening in the west parking lot. Often, in years past at this time of night, the air is hazy from the dust raised by departing vehicles as they traverse the dirt roads and lots. This year, most of the haze resulted from the phosphorous- and sulfur-laden fireworks smoke drifting across the lot.

Last night, I reviewed my star chart, and understood that the Aurigid constellation was to the NE, between Orion and the North Star.

At 2 p.m., the night sky, bright with a just-past-full moon, and city lights, held no meteors.

At 4:20 a.m., I went outside and stood in the DMV parking lot, behind my house. I saw one meteor, then nothing. After awhile, I said to myself, "I am S-O-O-O sleepy!"

So, just one meteor for the night, and I'll have to wait till 2100, or so, to see more Aurigids.
Here Comes Henriette!

Looks like Henriette might hit AZ pretty hard, with rain!

Meanwhile, Hurricane Felix looks like it will follow a path similar to Hurricane Dean, except a bit farther south.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Method Acting

Has its hazards:
Julius Caesar lay dead and Brutus was talking to his co-conspirators about swords and blood when he paused and excused himself, saying "I seem to have stabbed myself."

Aspen actor/director Kent Hudson Reed accidently cut his leg open with the knife he was using in an outdoor performance of "Scenes from Shakespeare's Julius Caesar" on Wednesday.

He tried to carry on, "but my boot was filling up with blood and I was flubbing my lines, wondering if I was going to pass out, wondering if the audience could see the blood."
Today's B3ta Quiz

Could you recognise a photo of Kurt Cobain as a child? What about Bruce Willis? Take this simple, but extremely enjoyable quiz from Gerport and find out.

(I scored only 50%)
Watching The Pacific

Gil is heading west, but the new storm, Henriette, is sticking close to the Mexican coast, and might even recurve, if the high over the SW erodes.
Senator Warner

Will retire....
Today's Supposed To Be The Resignation Ritual

Today's image from

It takes a village to have a lynching, of course, but aren't there better targets than those who dabble at the edge of "the love that dares not speak its name?" Like some of the folks who started the war in Iraq? (Although here, fortuitously, both apply).

And will David Vitter be forced out as well? Consistency, anyone?

Ah, thought not!

Walk On By - Story of Popular Song - clips from part 8

Interesting BBC documentary fragment, with helpful Finnish subtitles, featuring Bjorn Ulvaeus of ABBA, Kylie Minogue and the SAW Hit Factory, and the Pet Shop Boy's Neil Tennant.

rihanna- shut up and drive

Weekend approaches - time for pop music!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Britney's New Tune

"Gimme More"

Not as good as "Toxic" but not as bad as some of the detritus in her oeuvre.
Different Interpretations Of Reality

Officer: Okay. Then it was your left hand. I saw it with my own eyes.

Craig: All right, you saw something that didn't happen.

Officer: Embarrassing, embarrassing. No wonder why we're going down the tubes. Anything to add?

Craig: Uh, no.
Brings to mind this:
The aide said that guys like me were "in what we call the reality-based community," which he defined as people who "believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality." ... "That's not the way the world really works anymore," he continued. "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."
Catching The Attention Of Australian Politicians

Subtle doesn't work:
VICTORIAN Premier John Brumby has been barricaded in a machinery yard in rural Victoria by angry farmers protesting against the Government's water plans.

...The angry locals are protesting about the Government's move to pipe water from the Goulburn Murray region to regional cities and Melbourne.

The blockade was happening just outside Colbinabbin, east of Bendigo, where Mr Brumby had gone for a media conference to turn the tap on a $98 million new water pipeline.

...The protesters, some carrying placards reading "irrigation feeds the nation", screamed and interjected as the premier tried to reason with them over the merits of the plan.

...Mr Brumby said the superpipe would provide water security for the region at a time of unprecedented climate change.

"The Goldfields Superpipe is vital to the future growth of the Bendigo region," Mr Brumby said.
I Wanna Go Somewhere

Left: Image from Mushroom at Beta.

Jeez, this has been a tedious summer.....
Now Look What Happens!

No doubt busily studying her maps, she probably wasn't watching where she was going:
A Mrs. America contestant staying at a Foothills resort got a little too close to the desert wildlife this weekend.

While walking to a rehearsal Sunday morning, Christina Ryan — Mrs. Tennessee — said she caught sight of a spider on an outside staircase at Loews Ventana Canyon Resort. She jumped away from it and was bitten by a rattlesnake.
In Defense Of America's Geographically-Challenged Youth

Yeah, what kind of lame question was that?:
Upton was asked, "Recent polls have shown that a fifth of Americans can't locate the U.S. on a world map. Why do you think this is?"

But no survey I can find supports this number, and, indeed, the most respected studies looking into what Americans know about the world paint a far rosier picture.

In 2006, the National Geographic Society interviewed 510 young Americans -- people aged 18 to 24 -- about geography. Interviewers handed people a blank map of the world and asked them to identify various countries. "Nearly all (94 percent) young Americans can find the United States on the world map, and Canada (92 percent) and Mexico (88 percent) are nearly as familiar," the survey found. "Wide majorities can find bordering bodies of water including the Pacific Ocean (79 percent) and the Gulf of Mexico (75 percent)."

So most Americans, it turns out, can find America on the map. They can find Canada and Mexico and even the Gulf of Mexico. You have to ask what's done more damage to the nation's image: Upton's bad answer, or the pageant's flawed question, which has erroneously convinced millions across the globe that Americans don't know their own country?

Granted, there are lots of things Americans don't know about the world. In the National Geographic survey, most respondents couldn't find the United Kingdom, Egypt, and Indonesia on a world map, and more than 60 percent couldn't find Iraq on a map of the Middle East. But I wonder, are these numbers so bad?

Remember, people in the survey were trying to place countries on unlabeled maps. That is, they were the sort of maps nobody ever uses, maps that, indeed, run contrary to the very aim of cartography. A map is a reference object; we make maps precisely so that we don't have to memorize where things are, so that we can, instead, look up where things are.

We are, moreover, living in a golden age of maps. A decade or more ago, it might have been important and necessary for Americans to know, in their heads, that Indonesia is an archipelago in Southeast Asia just to the north of Australia and southwest of Singapore -- that information, then, would have been relatively tough to figure out. Today you can find that much by typing nine letters -- Indonesia -- into a computer, then clicking one button. You can, if you want, even download a searchable representation of the entire globe and navigate the streets of Jakarta from your home. These possibilities go far in explaining why, as the National Geographic survey shows, young people who use the Internet are better at geography than those who don't.

...Upton, I'm sure, was not thinking about any of this, and neither, of course, was the pageant expecting so sophisticated an answer. That's because nobody really cares what our Miss Teens think about the origins of geographical illiteracy, a subject that would stump even experts. The only answer that Upton was expected to give -- the only answer that would not have landed her on YouTube -- is one you might call B.S., the sort of answer you give in school when you haven't done the reading.

Instead of talking about "U.S. Americans," Upton should have pointed out that the children are our future and that we ought to teach them well and let them lead the way; she could have inveighed against leaving any child behind; she might have noted that it takes a village.

She was asked a dumb question, and the world's beating her up for the sin of not being able to arrive quickly enough at the sort of meaningless sound bite that we expect from our politicians.
Craig Should Stay

Larry Craig has embarrassed himself and startled his constituency, but his troubles, by themselves, do not rise to the level of public betrayal that would be required to force a resignation.
Bathroom Stalls

The Washington Post poses a provocative question:
"Consider the bathroom stall, that utilitarian public enclosure of cold steel and drab hue.

It can be a world of untold secrets, codes and signals as invitations to partake. Like foot-tapping: Who knew?

Let us peer in, shall we?"
Hilzoy at Obsidian Wings answers this question with "No, let's not." But this reminds me of a story....

In college, I approached one of the stalls in the dormitory bathroom, and almost entered, but I hesitated - I wasn't 100% sure whether the stall was occupied, or not. I looked through the crack of the door, but in the bathroom half-darkness I still couldn't tell - I couldn't see anything but dark, but I thought I heard the barest noise. So, I stared and stared and peeked into the crack, and pondered.

Inside the stall, A.C., the newest member of the college basketball team, an incredibly-tall, gangly, dark-skinned African-American, was freaking out. Whatever I had in mind, he wanted no part.

Secrets and codes, and a world all unto itself....
Tropical Storm Gil

Named in honor of our director for "Pirates of Penzance"! (ed. - fact-check, please!)

Blowhard Gil appears beset by troubles, according to this analysis:

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

New Clothing Line

You know, for kids!

(via Heather)
Macao Wants To Rival Las Vegas

But there may be one little problem:
But Macao’s average gambler is still a day-tripper from Hong Kong or nearby Chinese cities in the Pearl River delta. These visitors are so frugal that they often bring their own food and do not rent hotel rooms. They spend an average of just 1.26 days in the territory — and even that average is inflated by the many Hong Kong residents who work in Macao Monday through Friday and go home on weekends.

By contrast, the average visitor to Las Vegas spends 3.4 days.

“If you look at Macao, there are no or virtually no nongaming revenues,” whereas nongambling revenues exceed gambling revenues in Las Vegas, said William P. Weidner, the president and chief operating officer of Las Vegas Sands.
Hot Phoenix

I remember the summer of 1988, a particularly hot summer in the West, but even more so for me, since I was in Tempe, AZ, and spending a lot of time outside.

This summer in the Valley of the Sun (Phoenix area) looks kinda bad too:
Sometime late this afternoon, the temperature is expected to hit 110, and we will have set a record for misery: 29 days of at least 110 degrees in a year.

On Tuesday, we tied the record of 28 days, and the National Weather Service is predicting that we will get to 111 degrees today.

There will not be a parade.
Big Delay

More interesting to me than Senator Craig's immediate credibility problem is the big delay in reporting his arrest. What was the cause of that?

The official story is:

The revelation late Monday that Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho) was arrested nearly three months ago for allegedly making sexual advances in a men's room raises the issue of how such an action could occur without the press reporting it.

...Even more surprising is that the unreported arrest occurred at a time when Craig was under scrutiny following previous allegations of gay relationships and sexual advances dating back to late 2006, when a blogger accused Craig of having relationships with men. The conservative senator has long denied the allegations.

McArdle said the latest incident, in which Craig was arrested June 11 for allegedly making advances to a police officer in a Minnesota airport bathroom, only came to his attention through a tip he received last week.

..."We have been working the story since we got the tip, getting the specific arrest report," he said. "We had to go through their different filing systems and we were able to expedite that process."

...Editors from The Idaho Statesman of Boise did not return calls seeking comment. But Editor Dean Miller of the Post Register in Idaho Falls defended the lack of reporting on the arrest by his paper and others, saying a misdemeanor arrest in another state does not always get easily discovered.

"It is not something we would ordinarily see," said Miller, who went on leave three weeks ago as a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University for a year. "It would not come to your attention if you are not in Minneapolis."

Some Washington, D.C.-based editors, such as Dean Baquet, who heads The New York Times' D.C. bureau, agreed.

"I am not so shocked that it would not get out," said Baquet, who is also a former editor at the Los Angeles Times. "The way things work, sometimes if you have a misdemeanor arrest, they don't make their way out here. It was not in his state. My guess is if it had happened at La Guardia Airport or at an airport in Washington it might be different."

Leonard Downie Jr., executive editor of The Washington Post, also found it unsurprising. "We don't have a Minneapolis correspondent," he said. "He is not a local congressman -- it happened in Minnesota and Idaho."

But in addition to the delayed reporting on the arrest is the way news outlets responded to last year's blogger allegations. The initial blog item was eventually reported by several news outlets nationally and locally, including four Idaho papers, according to the Idaho Statesman.

Miller said his paper reported the accusation and Craig's denial, but did not follow the story after that. "It was almost an anecdotal piece about Larry Craig being cool under fire," he said. "There was nothing documented, you were not going to substantiate anything."

Miller said he did not investigate the allegations further and did not have enough resources to pursue possible other accusations against Craig. "Outing a closeted U.S. senator was not our highest priority. But there were members of the staff who disagreed with that strenuously, that it was everyone's absolute right to know."

The Statesman, meanwhile, never reported on the blogger allegations last fall. But Editor Vicki Gowler assigned reporters to investigate Craig, with orders to find out if the gay relationship accusations were true and if other such proof existed.

In its story today about Craig's arrest, the Statesman revealed that it had uncovered evidence of other Craig liaisons or sexual advances, including allegations that he had sex with a man in a Union Station bathroom in Washington, D.C., but had not previously reported it. "Until Monday, the Statesman had declined to run a story about Craig's sex life, because the paper didn't have enough corroborating evidence and because of the senator's steadfast denial."

But the paper also revealed, "Over five months, the Statesman examined rumors about Craig dating to his college days and his 1982 pre-emptive denial that he had sex with underage congressional pages. The most serious finding by the Statesman was the report by a professional man with close ties to Republican officials. The 40-year-old man reported having oral sex with Craig at Washington's Union Station, probably in 2004. The Statesman also spoke with a man who said Craig made a sexual advance toward him at the University of Idaho in 1967 and a man who said Craig "cruised" him for sex in 1994 at the REI store in Boise. The Statesman also explored dozens of allegations that proved untrue, unclear, or unverifiable."

The Statesman's decision not to run its investigation until the arrest had been revealed raises the issue of when a news outlet should both investigate such allegations and report on its findings., the Web site of the Florida-based news institute, had its own struggles with reporting on the Craig allegations last Fall. Bill Mitchell, editor of Poynter online, wrote a piece last November describing how the site debated what to report following the blog posts, noting that the site at one point removed a report on the story.

"The 'It's out there dilemma' is something news organizations face," Mitchell said Tuesday about the issue of reporting what bloggers post. "When we lived in a world where journalism happened on printed paper or even one-shot broadcast outlets, the phenomenon of something like this being out there didn’t exist, there was no way for an activist to publish in a way that is possible in the Internet era."

Bob Steele, the Nelson Poynter Scholar for Journalism Values at Poynter, recalls Statesman Editor Gowler coming to him twice in the past year for guidance on the Craig story. He declined to reveal what they spoke about, but said it was obvious to him the paper was carefully reviewing its options. "I was impressed by the serious professional approach she took to decision-making," he recalled. "She was principled."
To me, it looks like the paper choked. The allegations were inflammatory, the target powerful, and, once again, the news media in Idaho decided to curry favor rather than do any real journalism. Someone from the outside had to pull the trigger for them.

Yeah, when I was young, New Mexico was like Idaho in this respect too. All kinds of interesting news never made the paper, because powerful interests saw that that the news was buried before it was ever revealed.
Melting In Public

I was going to blog about Miss Teen South Carolina, but, like, couldn't find her on a map.

Haven't watched the video - can't stand to see harmless people get humiliated. And being a stage person, I mean, we've all been in the same place, once or twice, right? Not going to blame the educational system - there's only so much they can do. But there are a lot of people who have trouble with maps, and that's unfortunate, because maps are so much fun.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Richard III

Peter Sellers recites The Beatles' "A Hard Day's Night"

Ninjas Of Oregon

Watching the movie "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" I couldn't help but think, 'wouldn't it be S-O-O-O cool to fly across rooftops like those guys?' Apparently I'm not the only one who thought that:
ROGUE RIVER, Ore. -- Three teenagers in hooded black outfits scampered over rooftops, climbed trees "just like a squirrel," and broke into houses and cars, police said.

But these ninjas in the small southern Oregon town of Rogue River weren't quite so slick as their Japanese ninja heroes.

Earlier this summer, an officer chased one of the wannabes across a school rooftop, but the youth leaped into a nearby tree, said Rogue River Police Chief Ken Lewis.

Breaking branches on the way down, "he gave a yelp of pain," and then he scrambled away, Lewis said.

Last week, after months of investigation into a group known to local police as "The Ninjas," police arrested three teens, two 15 and one 16. They said they also seized stolen jewelry, burglary tools, a map of the city and several black ninja suits with hoods and climbing spikes.

The parents of one teen told police their son complained of an injury about the time of the rooftop chase, Lewis said.

"I believe that's our roof-gliding ninja," said Lewis.

...The teens had created a MySpace page, and other teens have been posting on it about the arrests, which may lead to other suspects, Lewis said.

"It's true what they say about MySpace," said Lewis. "It's a great investigative tool."
Blood Moon

Wow! The whole neighborhood was out last night, about 2:30 - 3:00 a.m., watching the lunar eclipse. Met people I've never met before, too! People like M. O., with whom I chatted while Sparky snuffled through the hedges at 23rd & Castro. She reminisced about her days tending Yolo County prison inmates, and about how she always encouraged them to ask her questions about - just about anything.

Hey, the rare Aurigid meteor shower will occur Saturday morning, September 1st, peaking at 4:36 a.m. PDT. It's gonna be a blast! See the whole neighborhood again then!
Boomer Update, Or Let's Blame Every Damn Thing On Jane Fonda

Sorry, I think she likely saved more people than she condemned:

It was an exercise revolution and an unparalleled convenience: the ability to do aerobics at will from the comfort of your living room.

Lead by actress Jan Fonda, the 1980s was the age of exercise videos. But now many of the people who used them to get in shape are finding that they actually took a toll on their bodies.

Sheila Wares remembers the high impact aerobics well — and still keeps a library of titles under her television, although they've all been banned from her VCR thanks to a bad knee.

"It's amazing when you think about your knee and how much it affects so much of everything when it comes to exercise, even with yoga you know," she told The Early Show medical contributor Dr. Emily Senay. "Try and do a downward dog on a knee that won't cooperate."

According to Wares' doctor Jennifer Solomon, she isn't alone. Many baby boomers are experiencing this problem. She sees many patients with similar over-use injures at New York's Hospital for Special Surgery.

"These are the people who did the aerobics classes five or six days a week, the high impact aerobics, the step aerobics with three tiered steps," said Dr. Solomon, a physiatrist. "These are the people who thought they were doing the right thing and following the trend of the '80s."

Dr. Solomon says the repetitive nature of high impact aerobics has had an adverse affect on many of the once devoted Fonda fans like Wares.

"They have knee problems," she said. "They all have early arthritis, or have terrible arthritis where they can't go up and down stairs."

Today, Dr. Solomon said these high impact exercise techniques are basically defunct because we now know how to exercise smarter.

"You go into any health club and take a look at their schedule you'll see that step aerobics is no longer there. High impact activity is no longer there," she said. "People are now into core stability and power workouts, which is less stressful on the joints."

Today the only exercise Wares gets are the daily walks with her dog Maxine, which is far from the high level of activity she used to enjoy.

"You were under the impression that you were doing the right thing and keeping yourself healthy," she said, "but it turns out to be a cruel irony in the long run, and did the opposite of what you were striving for."
Nobody said life would be pain-free! I'm doing fine, for example, and I do step aerobics (with a single step, so I don't trip and fall on my jaw). Of course, I'm not a Boomer, the most self-focused generation ever. Maybe that's the secret: don't get born from 1946 to 1955-and-a-half!

I especially liked the comments people left behind:
Exercise does not cause arthritis. Excessive exercise may make it worse but I have never ever seen a warning that you should sit down, activity causes arthritis.
Posted by magoo2u1 at 07:02 PM : Aug 27, 2007

What about the rest of us who has knee and ankle problems, and we never did any aerobics? Who do we blame? We each make choices and should take responsibility for the things we have done to our bodies.
Posted by bettyechols at 05:30 PM : Aug 27, 2007

I''ve been teaching low impact aerobics and step (no higher than 4 inches) for years. High impact aerobics pretty much went out many years ago, but i think a low impact routine is not much different than dancing the night away at a club (minus the alcohol!) It''s non jarring on the joints, rythmic, and uses nearly all your muscles.Even beginners can do it, modifying as needed. Weight bearing activity is great for the bones, especially post menopause.
Posted by rmlf1 at 04:24
Tropical Forecast

Currently, the NOGAPS computer model is suggesting some tropical storm development off the South Carolina coast this weekend, with the resulting storminess not coming ashore, but heading NE into the open Atlantic next week. Since NOGAPS tends to overestimate the tendency for tropical storms to initiate, we will have to see whether that actually occurs. So, no anticipated threat there, maybe just general storminess, but just something to keep an eye on.

NOGAPS is also suggesting that a tropical storm or hurricane will be approaching the Antilles from the east, from the tropical Atlantic, by the middle of next week, following the trail laid by Dean.

Last I saw of Dean, yesterday, it had become part of, and indistinguishable from, the mid-latitude circulation, and was busy kicking up thunderstorms in southern Utah.

Kylie - I Believe In You (Homecoming Live) Ooops

Even the best sometimes - forget the words!

Horrific Greek Fires

The climate is similar to California's, and thus they experience what we sometimes experience:
The fire reportedly came over a ridge first to Makistos, a village of 60 homes. Antonios Kokkaliaris, 80, a farmer, said he had been reading his paper, underlining parts he liked, when he heard the bell in St. John’s church ring.

“I went out and I saw the flames before me and people running,” he said. He could not leave, he said, because his wife, Koula, 82, is severely disabled. He said he took her downstairs. “I told her, ‘Stay put, we’re going to fight this out.’ I grabbed onto the hose and I started dousing left, right and center.”

The town emptied, with only him, a herdsman and Mr. Dimopoulos with his wine staying behind. He managed to douse his home, and two next door, well enough that the fires howled past, leaving his house intact. He described the experience as “horror, complete horror.”

But when it was over, he did not feel relief.

“I was disappointed, honestly,” he said. “Because not only was there no one to help me, there was no one in sight. ‘Am I just standing here alone? What happened to all my townspeople? What is the purpose of life if I am all alone?’ ”

The fire quickly ripped into Artemida, about two miles away. Residents piled into cars down the road toward Zaharo, the area’s main town, on the Aegean Sea. Mr. Alexandropoulos, at the time in Zaharo, said he heard that the flames reached his village and called his mother, who was taking care of his son, Phillipos.

“I didn’t even speak with her,” he said. “I just said, ‘I’m coming. Get going.’

“I just didn’t make it,” he said.

He could not, according to several accounts, because fire had swept across the road to the village, blocking off cars in both directions. Ms. Paraskevopoulos, her car full of her children and possibly others, turned around along with another car. In the smoke and confusion, there was an accident with other fleeing cars and a fire truck, which rolled over. Everyone in the convoy, several of them elderly, fled up a slope into the olive groves, where they died.

“I thought of nothing — just death,” said Vassilis Mitros, 28, who was among a party who saw the bodies — he counted 24 — early the next morning.

Now the once-lovely hills are burnt to white ash, with olive trees like blackened skeletons planted after death. All but 14 of the 60 homes here were seriously damaged or destroyed completely; in Artemida, 17 of the 70 houses were lost (but Ms. Paraskevopoulos’s house was intact). The region normally produces 10,000 tons of oil, but nearly all the trees are now destroyed, along with countless livelihoods. Charred donkeys and chickens litter ruined farms.

“This village is literally wiped out,” Ms. Bammi said. “It’s not just those who have been killed. Those who are left have no fields to work in, no olive trees. They have nothing to look forward to.”

“The new children who grow up in this town will not know what an olive tree looks like,” she said.

In late afternoon, Mr. Dimopoulos’s wife, Maria, 56, decided to lay down a bunch of white daisies on the spot where her cousins, Nikos and Maria Dimopoulos, the unmarried brother and sister, both in their 70s, died. The three of them had been fleeing the fire together when a police officer stopped and urged them to get into his car. Ms. Dimopoulos did, but the other two did not want to leave their donkey, their only possession of value.

“I told you, ‘Come with me!’ ” she said, laying the flowers down next to the dead donkey on the side of the road. “You wouldn’t come. Why wouldn’t you come?”

Monday, August 27, 2007

Airport Restrooms

More interesting than I realized:
Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho) was arrested in June at a Minnesota airport by a plainclothes police officer investigating lewd conduct complaints in a men’s public restroom, according to an arrest report obtained by Roll Call Monday afternoon.

Craig’s arrest occurred just after noon on June 11 at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. On Aug. 8, he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor disorderly conduct in the Hennepin County District Court. He paid more than $500 in fines and fees, and a 10-day jail sentence was stayed. He also was given one year of probation with the court that began on Aug. 8.
New Zealand Caver

Injured and trapped, deep underground.
A Weak Link Breaks

Not the first time, and hopefully not the last.

Speaking for myself, I felt an intense embarrassment for all Mexican-Americans that such a subservient pawn was the first Hispanic Attorney General of the United States. Sidney Blumenthal's postscript:

Rove ran the Department of Justice like a personal fiefdom as Gonzales reigned there as his vassal lord. The civil rights division was gutted, more than 60 percent of its professional staff forced out; and since 2001, not a single discrimination case was filed. The antitrust division became a favor bank. Rove granted dispensations to companies, including those seeking to override laws involving foreign purchases of U.S. assets with national security implications, a former government official involved in such a case told me.

Typical of the political interference was the 2005 federal racketeering case against big tobacco companies in which government witnesses were suddenly withdrawn, suggested penalties lessened and lawyers ordered to read a weak closing statement prepared for them. Sharon Y. Eubanks, the 22-year veteran federal prosecutor in the case, revealed to the Washington Post in March 2007 that the chain of command ran directly through the attorney general's office. "The political people were pushing the buttons and ordering us to say what we said," Eubanks said. "And because of that, we failed to zealously represent the interests of the American public ... Political interference is happening at Justice across the department. When decisions are made now in the Bush attorney general's office, politics is the primary consideration ... The rule of law goes out the window."
Acoma Memories

The 17th-century mission church at Ácoma Pueblo, high on a mesa where the Indians lived to protect themselves from their many enemies. (Kevin Moloney for The New York Times)

I remember visiting Acoma several times, including twice when dances were underway. The church is astonishing, of course (for the reason mentioned below), but mostly I liked the sense of calm, and the palpable sense of ancient ways, and how dancers would break from their groups, bend down with smiles, and explain to the children how to do what they they were doing. Tradition becomes brittle when followed too zealously, but it remains alive and vibrant when brought into normal life.

Here is a Travel section article from the NY Times, blending Willa Cather's "Death Comes For The Archbishop" and Acoma:
Ácoma is no longer the community it once was either. Ácoma families keep houses there as weekend and vacation homes. But the tribe has decided not to outfit the mesa top with electricity or running water, and it now lives mainly in a village on the valley floor. To reach the top now requires signing up for a guided tour, and taking a bus ride up.

For the bishop and Jacinto, a rugged rock stairway with primitive steps and handholds is the only route. When he reaches the top, the bishop is amazed at the white two- and three-story dwellings clustered together on the 10-acre pueblo, with “not a tree or blade of green upon it.” And he is alarmed at the sight of the mission church.

“Gaunt, grim, gray, its nave rising some 70 feet to a sagging, half-ruined roof, it was more like a fortress than a place of worship,” Cather wrote.

The bishop wonders why such a big church had even been built there in the early 1600s: “Powerful men they must have been, those Spanish Fathers, to draft Indian labor for this great work without military support.”

The priests forced the Indians to carry up not only building materials for the church but great quantities of earth for the churchyard cemetery.

“Every stone in that structure,” the bishop mused, “every handful of earth in those many thousand pounds of adobe, was carried up the trail on the backs of men and boys and women. And the great carved beams of the roof — Father Latour looked at them with amazement. In all the plain through which he had come he had seen no trees but a few stunted piñons. He asked Jacinto where these huge timbers could have been found.

“ ‘San Mateo mountain, I guess.'

“ ‘But the San Mateo mountains must be 40 or 50 miles away. How could they bring such timbers?'

“Jacinto shrugged. ‘Ácomas carry.' Certainly there was no other explanation.”

The Ácoma woman who guided my tour seemed to regard the building of the church with the same outrage. The Indians resented the missionaries' demands on their ancestors to such a degree, she remarked, that the Ácoma today speak only English and their native language, but never Spanish.
Last Friday At Thunder Valley

Almost forgot to mention it. Should have forgotten all about it. (Loss $740).

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Age Before Beauty....

Except when it comes to rock 'n roll. Two articles that are particularly harsh on the Osbornes:
Rock stars from the 1960s and 1970s have been hitting Germany's lucrative concert circuit but many of the grandpa-generation acts have disappointed fans and provoked withering reviews in Europe's biggest music market.

The Rolling Stones, Aerosmith, Genesis, the Who, the Police and Black Sabbath are among the acts appearing this summer in arenas between the Black Forest and the Baltic, in Europe's richest nation with a wealth of top-class concert venues.

...However, the reviews -- and ticket sales -- have been mixed.

"The question is 'why are they bothering?'," said Harald Peters, culture editor and music critic of the newspaper Welt am Sonntag. "Some of these groups are just plain burned out. Others are just old and boring.

"They're getting torn to shreds in reviews. I'm not saying all of them should have stopped at 40. But with some, it's so bizarre and you wonder why. Do they need the money? Didn't they get an education? Can't they do anything else for a living?"

Other critics have mocked the ageing rockers and some newspapers published unflattering pictures of performers who have lived the rock-star lifestyle, looking older than their years.

..."Some people should retire at 30," Mick Jagger, 64, was quoted as telling Kirsten Szastrau of the newspaper Allgemeine Zeitung Mainz when she asked him bluntly when he was going to quit.

"I know that there's a lot of talk about that (retirement). But those are rules bureaucrats make. If you're an artist, poet or musician, other things matter. We have the feeling we're still a very good band, and we love what we're doing. Besides that, I'm a terrible plumber. There's nothing else I could do."

Other older bands such as Aerosmith and Genesis have had unenthusiastic reviews.

"The fondness for travel by the senior citizens has nothing to do with art," wrote Jochen Temsch, a critic at Munich's Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper.

"It is business interests that are keeping them going. Sales of recordings have been falling for years in face of the digital challenge and new sources of revenue are needed: live concerts."

Diekmann, whose Deutsche Entertainment is Germany's number two organizer, said revenues from concerts would hit a record 3 billion euros ($4 billion) in 2007, double the value of record sales.

"The live concert market is growing rapidly," Diekmann said.

He said there was enough demand in Germany for the ageing stars. Ticket prices were often higher than elsewhere. But he conceded that not all the acts lived up to expectations and some seemed to be cashing in on past glories.


"I think you have to differentiate when talking about 'old rockers'," he said, referring to one of the unflattering terms used in Germany to describe musicians with thinning hair, wrinkles or expanding waistlines.

"Some of them have developed their music further, adapted to the times," Diekmann said. "But there are others who haven't.

"The market is the ultimate determining factor," he said. "Where there's demand, there will be concerts. These are artists. They won't be putting on concerts if no one wants to see them."

...Sueddeutsche Zeitung critic Sebastian Gierke said it was "almost tragic" to see Ozzy Osbourne, 58, at a "farcical" concert.

"He kept screaming 'I can't f---ing hear you!' over and over again. You felt like shouting back 'buy a goddamn hearing aid and maybe you'll realize you're singing everything off key'."
And also:
DANNII Minogue's new career as a TV talent show host in Britain has been rocked by an explosive feud with her co-star Sharon Osbourne.

Minogue has been locked in regular behind-the-scenes bust-ups with Osbourne, wife of former Black Sabbath frontman Ozzy Osbourne, while hosting Britain's top rating talent show, X Factor.

...Minogue, who hosted Australia's Got Talent, has been reduced to tears after some of her spats with Osbourne, The People newspaper has reported.

"Sharon's nose has been well and truly put out of joint by the arrival of Dannii," one unnamed source told the newspaper.

"In previous series she has been the star of the show. She brought the glamour and sexiness. This year she was hoping things would be the same, particularly as her own chat show crashed and burned.

"But she feels Dannii is taking over. She thinks she is the star of the show. She is younger, sexier and Sharon hates it."

Fellow co-host Simon Cowell, of American Idol fame, has further inflamed tensions by planning to get Dannii's sister Kylie Minogue on the show to give finalists one-on-one coaching and teach them to sing one of her hits.

"Sharon never tried to get her family on the show because that's not what it's about," the source told the newspaper.

"But now with the hype around Kylie's involvement, Sharon feels it's turning into The Minogue Show."
More Of Dean's Handiwork

Rains in the desert:
Drivers were stranded in their cars, beaches were evacuated and thousands lost power Sunday as a surprise summer thunderstorm soaked Southern California.

As much as three inches of rain fell on the deserts of southwest San Diego county in the afternoon. That prompted the California Highway Patrol to close the Borrego Salton Seaway in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, where CHP dispatchers said they received reports of an unknown number of motorists stranded in flooded washes alongside the road.

Nearly two inches of rain fell on Escondido in a span of about an hour earlier Sunday, and lightning-struck power lines left 14,300 customers without power for about five hours, said Rachel Laing, spokeswoman for San Diego Gas & Electric.

"The problem was lightning was damaging lines," Laing said. "There were lines hit, and there were transformer problems."

..."We have a whole line of storms between Carlsbad and Cuyamaca, and reaching up to Palomar Mountain that are morphing into each other," Miguel Miller of the National Weather Service said.
"Random Play" - Upcoming Performance

Eukinetics Dance Company is presenting a dance concert in September at Sheldon High School, called "Random Play," billed as "a choreographic playlist of tributes, remixes, reworks, and overlooked B-sides from inspiring artists."


September 14th & 15th, 2007 7:00pm

Sheldon High School Performing Arts Center

8333 Kingsbridge Drive Sacramento

Tickets: $15.00 Adult ; $12.00 Child/Student/Seniors

Tickets on sale NOW!!!
Pigeonholing Hurricanes

I was wondering about this:
If a hurricane, such as Hurricane Dean, starts in the Atlantic Ocean, it hits land in Mexico and may slow down but crosses into the Pacific Ocean and regains hurricane strength, would it keep the name given in the Atlantic Ocean or would it be given the next name on the list on the Pacific side?

This is how the National Hurricane Center has been handling this matter since 2001:

If a hurricane passes from the Atlantic to the Pacific and keeps its basic hurricane shape and circulation pattern and so on, it keeps its Atlantic name.

If the storm loses its hurricane circulation pattern while crossing Mexico or Central America and re-forms in the Pacific either as a tropical storm or a hurricane, it gets the next name on the Pacific list. I think that would be Gil.

Before 2001, they just renamed the storm no matter what.

For example, in 1996 Hurricane Cesar went from the Atlantic to the Pacific and was renamed Douglas. In 1988, Hurricane Joan made the crossing to the Pacific, where it was renamed Tropical Storm Miriam.

Can a hurricane have three names?

You bet. In 1961 Hurricane Hattie devastated Central America. Then it jumped to the Pacific where it was called Simone. Then it bounced back to the Atlantic side via Mexico and was named Inga.
Right now, the remnant of Hurricane Dean is slowly spinning off the coast of Santa Barbara, CA, and pumping moistures into southern CA, Nevada, Utah, northern AZ, Colorado, and even Wyoming.
Focusing On the Manned Space Program

Really, at the end of the line, but like Jack Nicholson says, we 'can't handle the truth':
Let’s be blunt here. The shuttle program has long outlived its scientific usefulness. The technology is outdated and, given the track record of two disasters in the past 21 years, manifestly unsafe. More seriously – from the taxpayer’s point of view, as well as the scientific research establishment’s – it doesn’t do anything to advance the cause of science at all.

You won’t hear this being discussed in the mainstream media, but the truth is that it is one giant boondoggle, what Constance Penley of the University of California at Santa Barbara calls “pork in space.”

“The only reason the shuttle program exists is to support the International Space Station,” Penley told me. “And the only reason the International Space Station exists is for the shuttle to have somewhere to fly to.”

Sure, the ISS is supposed to be a floating laboratory conducting all manner of scientific experiments. But, the fact is, it doesn’t do any of that. Its only rationale at this point is its own existence, no more and no less. The only discernible science carried out by the Endeavour mission was to carry 10 million basil seeds into space to track the effect of zero-gravity on the seeds’ progress into plants (and thence, one presumes, into millions of plates of insalata tricolore). Hardly a project commensurate with Endeavour’s $5 billion cost.

...The only thing saving NASA from utter ignominy is its lingering reputation as the can-do, all-American, last-frontier agency of The Right Stuff. Like so much of the Bush administration, it is far more interested in image than reality – in part because the reality is so uncomfortable to contemplate. And so it lurches from PR stunt to PR stunt. Barbara Morgan, in other words, isn’t just a graduate of the Teacher in Space program who has managed to become a full-fledged astronaut. What she is, essentially, is Jessica Lynch in space – a grand propaganda distraction designed to cover up a whole lot of ugliness.
Snake On A Plane

Snake on a plane:
Ed Carruth discovered the snake-on-a-plane when it began "licking" his arm Thursday, he told the Daily Leader of Brookhaven, Miss.
Feeble La Nina

Over the last year, the Southern Oscillation Index has spastically crept up to a value of - one. For a supposedly-La Nina state, that's pathetic. The equatorial Pacific Ocean seems as perfectly neutral as it's possible to design it.

Guess that will have to do.....
Las Vegas Nightclub Gold Rush

People yearn to buy what these folks are selling:
LAS VEGAS -- It's almost 3 a.m. at the Tao nightclub on the Strip, and the anthem for the night is still blaring: "Party like a rock, party like a rock star."

Photographer Hew Burney, high on energy drinks, cuts through the dancing crowd with the practiced stealth of a running back spotting holes in a defensive line. He snaps pictures of cleavage-baring women who smooch for the camera and tilt half-full bottles of pricey champagne to their lips.

He flits to the next group, but not before tossing out a handful of business cards reading, "That picture you don't remember taking last night. . . ." By the time Burney calls it quits at 4:30 a.m., he's shot 1,400 pictures that will be posted online before most revelers have slept off their hangovers.

The website may masquerade as a "Girls Gone Wild" knockoff, but it's a sophisticated marketing machine that its operators say logs 12 million page views a month, with banner ads from every hot spot in town. It's the brainchild of Ryan Doherty, 31, and Justin Weniger, 26, who have launched five businesses in four years, all tethered to the exploding Vegas night-life scene. Their enterprise, Wendoh Media, also operates a printing business, publishes two magazines and sells VIP passes to nightclubs.

Doherty and Weniger are the new breed of Vegas entrepreneur, finding success in Sin City without stepping foot in a casino. Over the last few years, nightclubs on and near Las Vegas Boulevard have taken on a life of their own, mushrooming from a handful to about 30 today, with two opening next weekend and more in the pipeline. The clubs are considered as vital as a poker room, with gaming companies carving out thousands of square feet for them and erecting huge digital billboard marquees.

The Venetian's Tao restaurant and nightclub raked in more cash than any other restaurant in the country in 2006 with $55 million in sales -- nearly half of that in alcohol -- so it's no surprise that Vegas' robust night life is producing the city's next generation of moguls.

So much cash is flowing into these venues that even the clubs' management companies are branching out. The Light Group, the mastermind behind the Light nightclub at the Bellagio and Jet at the Mirage, is planning three new restaurants, a loft project off the Strip and the Harmon Hotel and Residences at MGM Mirage's $7-billion CityCenter.

...Before long, UNLV's Bass said, "We'll definitely see a nightclub making $100 million in gross revenue, and that's pretty amazing."

Chad Pallas, director of special events at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, said, "Las Vegas is probably at the level of world-class nightclubs, rivaling New York, Miami, anywhere in the country, and it has a lot to do with the money generated."

..."The guy who makes all the money in the gold rush is the guy who sells all the shovels," Doherty said. "There are more and more nightclubs growing, and we stay in the middle of all of them. We stay everyone's friend."

...It's a symbiotic relationship: Clubs give the photographers almost unrestricted access; in exchange, deft editing on makes every lounge look packed with gorgeous, buxom women -- even when they're not.

The company says the website last month logged 12 million page views, where people could check out the pictures and download them for free. That's compared to 30,000 a month less than a year ago.

"We could be in New York or San Francisco, but Vegas is definitely a better brand for us to develop," said Luis Kain, 28, whose software, Oosah, powers the website. "There's more money here, and the level of growth can come faster. I don't think there's a ceiling here."
"Disney's Beauty And The Beast" - DMTC's Young Performers' Theater

(first draft)

Left: Beast (Gabriel Moctezuma) and Belle (Anna Miles)

shoot...I left the program at the theater. I may get people's names wrong....Well, I'll plow ahead here.....


The cast assembles for final bows.

Lumiere, Mrs. Potts (Caitlin Humphries), and Cogsworth (Joey Lemons).

Left: Chip (Soomi Yoo), Babette (McKinley Carlisle), and Kim Cassaza.

Mugging for the camera: Mrs. Potts (Caitlin Humphreys) and Lumiere

Mrs. Potts (Caitlin Humphreys), Lumiere, Babette (McKinley Carlisle), Cogsworth (Joey Lemons).

Bows, as the standing ovation starts. Left to right, Kat Holder, Chris Petersen, Lumiere, Caitlin Humphreys, Anna Miles, Gabriel Moctezuma, Joey Lemons, Gaston,.....
Thanks, Dean!

Deborah had a pleasant wake-up call this morning in Phoenix:
we woke up 5 AM to pouring rain and huge thunderstorm--wonderful!
Thanks, Dean. : )
Yay! Looks like the clouds burned off later in the day, except towards the Grand Canyon. On the satellite pictures, a frazzled rotating fragment of Dean is still evident, now west of San Diego, and pumping some moisture into central California....