Friday, September 28, 2007

Drink As Much Beer As Possible Day

Now they tell me! There's just eight hours left, and I haven't even started!
"Live To Ride"

Cool video! :
This is a 3 minute music video that showcases the skills of some of the BMX bike riders in Melbourne Australia. The music used in this video is Du Hast by Rammstein.
A Thought On Habeas Corpus

From Old Hippie's Groovy Blog.
On The Obsolescence Of Goyder's Line

Unfortunately, Australia has a lot of places like this. The American West does too, and has had them in the past as well - all those ghost towns, after all - but fortunes here were usually better, with more opportunities, and the climate was more forgiving:
Terowie grew up on the margins of viability in a heartbreak reach of rural Australia, straddling the railway and Goyder's Line, which was what used to separate the country that people could make something of from that which would support little more than the odd bedraggled sheep, saltbush and weeds.

The trains stopped running years ago when the railway between Broken Hill and Adelaide was rerouted.

Abandoned shops -- boarded up or with faded lace curtains drawn -- in the main street are a sad reminder of what was once a hub of farm trade.

What little rain used to fall has dwindled away as the worst drought anyone can remember tightened its grip. Last year's rainfall was half the already low historic average of 347mm.

In Terowie, population 200 (one-10th of what it once was), and 200km north of Adelaide, people are asking themselves: can we still make a go of it?

It's a question that resonates as never before in rural Australia.

This week, Labor's spokesman on climate change, Peter Garrett, backed a national audit of the nation's productive land to determine whether some historically marginal farming and grazing areas had now slipped over the edge of viability and should be abandoned.

Unkind souls are now talking about a "Garrett Line".

...Mr Mattey, whose family property started 130 years ago with 12 milk cows, has progressively bought departing neighbours' blocks, and now holds 44,000ha.

"We have had an exodus of people off the land over the past 10 years," he said. "When you have only got eight or 10 families left, and you lose two or three of them, it's quite a big impact."

The Terowie primary school -- with 25 students, none from farming families -- uses a bore for taps and toilet water and buys drinking water from the general store. Last week, they ran out of water.

Kay Matthias, manager of the South Australian branch of the Rural Financial Counselling Service, said: "The family farm as we used to know it in those areas no longer exists. Mum and dad fight it out until the end but the young ones move away."

Locals say the rainfall drops an inch (2.5cm) for every mile (1.6km) north of the road between Jamestown and Hallett, in South Australia's mid-north. Some say growing the region's traditional staple of cereal crops is now a waste of effort.

"Absolutely," Ms Matthias said. "I couldn't support that any more. That is a reality. That will happen. Governments can't continue to prop them up either."

Traditionally, stoic cockies have shied away from seeking the kind of help she offers. Not any more. They are coming forward because the next-door neighbour has seen a counsellor, or the man across the road, or the bloke at the pub. About 40 per cent of farmers in the region already get by with the help of Canberra's "exceptional circumstances" assistance.

"Things are so tough that people just don't see it as welfare any more," Ms Matthias said. "It's a very emotional thing. I mean, farming's in the blood. But a certain amount will leave the industry, not just in that area, but across the state."

Goyder's Line, the 1865 boundary drawn by then South Australian surveyor-general George Goyder, notionally divides cropping from pastoral land, but locals fear the combination of drought and climate change has shifted the marker south, making the country unviable.
Slippery Slope

This week, the dollar really slipped compared to the Euro. As expected, though, given the Fed's recent big rate cut. And in keeping ever since Bubble Boy became President.

Don't be surprised by the prices in Rome and Paris, however....
Beware The Amoeba

Stuff like this freaks me out, since I could picture myself going for a swim in Lake Havasu:
A 14-year-old Lake Havasu boy has become the sixth victim to die nationwide this year of a microscopic organism that attacks the body through the nasal cavity, quickly eating its way to the brain.

Aaron Evans died Sept. 17 of Naegleria fowleri, an organism doctors said he probably picked up a week before while swimming in the balmy shallows of Lake Havasu.

According to the Centers For Disease Control, Naegleria infected 23 people from 1995 to 2004. This year health officials said they've noticed a spike in cases, with six Naegleria-related cases so far -- all of them fatal.

Such attacks are extremely rare, though some health officials have put their communities on high alert, telling people to stay away from warm, standing water.

...Though infections tend to be found in southern states, Naegleria has been found almost everywhere in lakes, hot springs, even some swimming pools. Still, the CDC knows of only several hundred cases worldwide since its discovery in Australia in the 1960s.

The amoeba typically live in lake bottoms, grazing off algae and bacteria in the sediment. Beach said people become infected when they wade through shallow water and stir up the bottom. If someone allows water to shoot up the nose -- say, by doing a cannonball off a cliff -- the amoeba can latch onto the person's olfactory nerve.

The amoeba destroys tissue as it makes its way up to the brain.

People who are infected tend to complain of a stiff neck, headaches and fevers, Beach said. In the later stages, they'll show signs of brain damage such as hallucinations and behavioral changes.

Once infected, most people have little chance of survival. Some drugs have been effective stopping the amoeba in lab experiments, but people who have been attacked rarely survive, Beach said.

"Usually, from initial exposure it's fatal within two weeks," Beach said.

...The Evans family lives within eyesight of Lake Havasu, a bulging strip of the Colorado River that separates Arizona from California. Temperatures hover in the triple digits all summer, and like almost everyone else, the Evans family looks to the lake to cool off.

On Sept. 8, he brought Aaron, his two other children and his parents to Lake Havasu to celebrate his birthday. They ate sandwiches and spent a few hours splashing around one of the beaches.

"For a week, everything was fine," he said.

Then Aaron got the headache that wouldn't go away. Evans took him to the hospital, and doctors thought his son was suffering from meningitis. Aaron was rushed to another hospital in Las Vegas.

Evans tried to reassure his son, but he had no idea what was wrong. On Sept. 17, Aaron stopped breathing as David held him in his arms.

..."My kids won't ever swim on Lake Havasu again."
Banning Air 'Purifiers'

Could see this one coming from a mile off! Interesting that Bart Croes is involved in this as well. Ozone can be nasty, and that's what these devices spew out.

I remember when I was at the University of Arizona, and, for the first time, I started using an ozone generator for one of my projects. The device spewed out ozone at levels likely considerably exceeding 2 ppm, far higher than these commercial air purifiers generate, and at least twenty times the hourly federal ozone standard.

I took a whiff of the ozone, and - hey, this stuff smelled pretty damn good (the nose usually interprets the presence of ozone as fresh-smelling, outside air)! So, I inhaled great gobfulls of the healthy-smelling stuff.

About twenty minutes later, I came down with the worst sore throat in history....
The California Air Resources Board on Thursday banned popular in-home ozone air purifiers, saying studies have found that they can worsen conditions such as asthma that marketers claim they help to prevent.

The regulation, which the board said is the first of its kind in the nation, will require testing and certification of all types of air purifiers. Any that emit more than a tiny amount of ozone will have to be pulled from the California market.

An estimated 2% of the state's households have one of the so-called ozone air purifiers, according to air board staff research, and the staff estimated that more than 500,000 people had been exposed to levels of ozone above federally recognized health standards as a result. More than 2 million California residents have some sort of air purifier, and other types can be safe and effective, the air board staff said.

..."God gave humans these air purifiers, and you should not take away that gift," said Debra Perkins of Corona, weeping as she told how she felt the product had improved her mother's breathing.

Perkins said later that she was speaking not because she sells the devices, but because she believed so strongly as a registered nurse that they had helped her and her family. She said she first became a distributor after seeing them displayed at the Los Angeles County Fair. She could not afford the $700 price, but was told she could get them at reduced cost if she sold them.

Allen Johnston of EcoQuest said his company was not allowed under Food and Drug Administration laws to make claims that the product cured illnesses or eliminated germs of any kind, and it doesn't.

But he said studies had shown that injecting some ozone into homes could reduce levels of germs.

"Ozone is both safe and effective, and widely endorsed by safety organizations," he said.

Such claims are false, said UC Irvine inhalation toxicologist Michael Kleinman. "Ozone is a toxic contaminant, and does cause significant adverse health impacts," he said.

...Anyone caught selling the devices after a two-year phase-in period could be subject to fines starting at $1,000 a day. The board staff said that "sturdy" enforcement would be needed to track down products largely sold on the Internet or via word of mouth, but that it could be done.

"We'll go shopping," said Bart Croes, chief of the board's research division.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Elizabeth Edwards Graces Sacramento Fundraiser

Left: Elizabeth Edwards.

I didn't know what to expect when I showed up at the John Edwards fundraiser shortly after noon. The telephone solicitation on my answering machine had been somewhat garbled, and so I thought maybe the event might not even occur at all. I figured that since I had already donated to the Edwards campaign, and had done so in 2004 as well, that I would be asked to do so again, in a casual atmosphere - just folks, really. I did not expect heavyhitters, or stars.


Left: Wine bar at 1801 L St., Suite 50.

This is the first time I've entered this establishment, just two blocks from where I work. Very nice new urban infill development by developer Sotiris Kolokotronis, who is also building the condos across L Street (which I understand may be priced $400K, and up).

Left: The crowd. Developer Sotiris Kolokotronis gathers attention in the center, as Board of Equalization member Betty Yee (right) works the crowd.

I sat down at a random table with my grits, salad, and tasty chicken and talked with the folks at my table. No matter how old you get, these formal/informal social encounters always seem a bit awkward and stilted, because no one knows who you are, or vice versa. Everybody looks longingly at the doors and the crowd, wondering when something will happen, or for some way to break the ice. So, time for light-hearted conversation! It turned out that one man at my table was a client of the company for whom I work, so it was nice attaching a name and face to someone who ultimately contributes to my paycheck.

The digs at 1801 L St. One of the other men at my table, on the staff of State Treasurer Bill Lockyer, lives nearby and has a friend who lives here. It was his understanding that a two bedroom place in this complex goes for $1,900/month. Pricey, but midtown/downtown places are highly desirable for the social atmosphere. Makes me want to pull up stakes and settle here! If I could swing the money!

Left: Assemblyman Dave Jones helps introduce Elizabeth Edwards.

Left: Well-loved local radio host Christine Kraft, at far left, poses a question to Elizabeth Edwards, at far right.

Christine Kraft is currently not on-the-air in Sacramento (!), so any love and support we toss her way to help her pull down a radio gig will be more than welcome!

Left: Elizabeth Edwards listens to a question.

The most pointed question of the afternoon regarded efforts, particularly by Republicans, to question John Edwards' fidelity to issues of common workers and the poor, since he himself is wealthy, and has just purchased a 20,000 square foot home. How do Democrats respond to these imputations of bad faith (as well as the 'haircut thing', which keeps coming up as well).

Elizabeth Edwards stated that the 20,000 figure is a canard: the home is 8,900 square feet in size. A large house, to be sure, but certainly a lot smaller than the homes owned by FDR or the Kennedy family, who have worked effectively for the poor in the past.

Elizabeth Edwards referred to a New Republic article that referred to John Edwards as the 'Accidental Populist,' as if his devotion to such issues was inexplicable. Instead, Elizabeth Edwards stated that John Edwards was the 'Inevitable Populist,' given his family's rocky fortunes working in and about North Carolina's textile mills (his father was compelled by his employer to train his lower-wage replacement, for example).

Left: Responding to a question.

The crowd found Elizabeth Edwards warm and funny!

Left: Elizabeth Edwards with Conway Collis (a former member of the State Board of Equalization), with Dave Jones in the background.

(Related link posted at

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


If you're half-Mexican and:
  • Half-African: Afrijoles
  • Half-Black: Black beans, Blaxican, Choco-Taco, Negrexican
  • Half-Arab: Garbanzo beaner, America's worst nightmare
  • Half-Canadian: Canexican
  • Half-Chinese: Chexican, Chinacan, Chinkano, Combination Plate, Mexinese, rice-n-beans
  • Half-German: Beanerschnitzel, Germexican, wiener beaner
  • Half-Indian (the Indian kind): Navajole
  • Half-Irish: Leprecano, green bean, McBeaner
  • Half-Polish: Polexican, Polexiqui (this particular gal was Yaqui Indian on her Mexican side; she also called herself a Mexipolaqui)
And many others....

Wait a cousins are half-Arab, half-Mexican....
Dept. Of Weird Analogies

Condi Rice sees the GWOT through different lenses than the rest of us. Al Qaeda in Iraq is a group of mostly foreign interlopers, and not the main threat in Iraq in any event. Nevertheless, the Bushies seem to believe their own propaganda that the group is the main enemy:
Gen. Ulysses Grant may be rolling in his tomb after Secretary of State Rice compared slain terror chief Abu Musab al-Zarqawi to the Civil War hero - and his Confederate counterpart Robert E. Lee.

...Rice told Fox News that Zarqawi was "diabolically brilliant" and his loss was devastating to Al Qaeda in Iraq, much as the loss of Grant and Lee would have been to the Union and Confederate armies.

"When you hear people say ... 'If you kill one of them, they'll just replace him with another leader,' remember that that's like saying, 'If you take out Robert E. Lee or Ulysses S. Grant, well, they'll just replace them with another leader,'" Rice said.

Zarqawi was killed by U.S. forces more than a year ago. Since then, the Al Qaeda network he led in Iraq has suffered setbacks but has proved a resilient threat.

Retired Marine Gen. Joseph Hoar said Rice's comparison was way off target.

The former CENTCOM chief was baffled at Rice's line of logic in comparing an international criminal, whose terror minions hid among civilians, to revered battlefield commanders.

"I think the analogy doesn't make a lot of sense," Hoar said.
Why I Like Las Vegas

Opportunity keeps on a knockin':
Artistic differences of some sort have compelled a midget Britney Spears impersonator to set up her gig elsewhere, while a new midget Britney Spears impersonator has been hired for the original gig.
La Vita Dolce

Air polluted - or spiced?
Researchers may have figured out what makes la vita so dolce in Rome. A report from Italy's National Research Council released Thursday found that there are traces of cocaine and cannabis in the air of the Eternal City.

The institute made the discovery during a study of toxic substances in the air of Rome, Taranto, in the heel of boot-shaped Italy, as well as in Algiers. The results found that in Rome, there were traces of cocaine and cannabis -- as well as nicotine, caffeine and benzopirene, which is commonly released in cigarette smoke and auto emissions.

“The highest concentrations of cocaine were found in the center of Rome and especially in the area of the University of La Sapienza,'' said Dr. Angelo Cecinato, who led the investigation.

Researchers can't say for sure why the high concentrations were registered in those locations, but Cecinato stressed that the findings didn't necessarily mean that cocaine and cannabis are more heavily used there.
John Edwards Campaign Sacramento Get-Together

Some sort of luncheon tomorrow at 12:30 p.m. with the campaign. I thought I was being spoofed at first, since the phone number & E-Mail for RSVP didn't work, but the wine bar confirms it: 1801 L St., Suite 50. Bring lawyers and money!

Via Digby:
In what can only be described as yet another dirty trick, the campaign pushing the initiative to steal California's electoral votes disclosed its main donor in a campaign finance report earlier this week. The lone $175,000 donor was attributed to a Missouri based company called Take Initiative America (T.I.A). The only name we have is Charles A. Hurth III, an attorney in the small town Union, MO and big donor to Rudy Giuliani's campaign.
Why Have Mercenaries?

Why have Blackwater? Here is an answer that applies to both political parties (and is a major menace to our future as a democracy):
"There's a cynical answer and an honest answer," he said, "and I think they're the same answer." He said that the Pentagon is useless to politicians because it doesn't make campaign "contributions". But when you take a big chunk of that enormous military budget and give it to private companies, you free it up to come back (some portion of it) to politicians every campaign season.
Patronizing The Locals

Peruvian health officials don't understand why local-yokels reported noxious, sickening gas at the site of a meteorite impact recently. Some people blame 'mass hysteria':
But doctors who visited the site told the Associated Press they found no evidence that the crater had actually sickened such a large number of people.

If noxious fumes did emanate from the crater, they were most likely the result of a hydrothermal explosion that could have actually formed the crater, or were released from the ground when the meteorite struck, if in fact one did, according to many geologists.

Arsenic is found in the subsoil in that area of Peru and often contaminates the drinking water there, according to Peruvian geologists quoted on Sept. 21 by National Geographic News. Arsenic fumes released from the crater could have sickened locals who went to look, said one geologist who examined the site.

Some health officials suggest that the symptoms described by the locals, the large number of people reporting symptoms, and the apparently rapid spread have all the hallmarks of a case of mass hysteria.

"Those who say they are affected are the product of a collective psychosis," Jorge Lopez Tejada, health department chief in Puno, the nearest city, told the Los Angeles Times.
Pictures of the site showed water had accumulated in the crater, suggesting the site may have been a high-plateau wetland, or at least had a high-water table. Such locales often have soils with lots of sulfurous gas production - swamp gas - which could have been released upon a meteor's impact. It might have even been present in unhealthy or nauseating amounts.

Time to take the patronizing down a notch, or two, and look at the site in more detail and actually talk to the local-yokel 'mass hysterics'....
Fast-Moving Front

Approaches Brisbane. May it rain as much as it can!
Average, Plain-Spoken, Just Folks Really

Meet the parents:
PARIS HILTON is “intelligent” and great company, says her pizza delivery boyfriend.

Alexander von Zweigbergk Väggö, 20, also described the hotel heiress’s family as “kind, normal and ordinary”.

The Swede was backpacking in LA when he was introduced to Paris, 26, in a restaurant by a mutual pal.
Peak Antics

I would think climbing Mt. Everest would be so taxing that all you could think of through the fog of exhaustion is going home:
Nepal's mountaineering authorities are calling for a ban on nudity and attempts to set records on Mount Everest, officials said today.

Last year, a Nepali climber claimed the world's highest display of nudity when he disrobed for several minutes while standing on the 8850-metre summit in about 10 Celsius degrees below zero.

"There should be strict regulations to discourage such attempts by climbers," said Ang Tshering, president of Nepal Mountaineering Association.

Other record-setting attempts that sparked controversy included a Dutch man who attempted to scale the peak wearing only shorts.

The people who live on the foot hill of Everest worship the mountain as a god and mountaineering authorities have asked the government to ban disrespectful stunts on Everest, Tshering said.
And It's Not Even Summer Yet

Sydney was the setting:

It happened on Bondi Beach today and it set a Guinness world record.

A total of 1010 women in bikinis lined up to pose for a photographer.

...The aim was for the women to form the words of a women's magazine in the largest swimsuit photo shoot ever.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Strange Tessellated Surface

Victoria Crater. Mars sometimes looks like the Antarctic Dry Valleys (isn't that where Rebekah Shepard was headed?), or like the morning-after rubbish left behind by a drunken festival of giant, one-eyed alien potters, or like the tile on my kitchen counter, or the bottom of Lake Wivenhoe, or - something!
Dancing With The Stars

Left: Mary Ann Coutley, of East Troy, Wis., dances with her dog, Ricky, a one-year-old Dalmation, as they attend the K9 Freestyle Dance Camp at Army Lake Camp in East Troy, Wis.
Just Too Many Allegations

So many lies and scams alleged in the wrongful death suit filed by the family of Biggie Smalls against the LAPD that I can't keep them straight.

The Shock Doctrine by Alfonso Cuarón and Naomi Klein

DIRECTED BY JONÁS CUARÓN. Alfonso Cuarón, director of "Children of Men", and Naomi Klein, author of "No Logo", present a short film from Klein's book "The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism."

The Big Stick

Remember that TV ad from the seventies, showing an angry protest mob brandishing signs and running down the street, with a huffing, puffing, overweight pol in a suit chasing after, shouting (in vain) "Wait, I am your leader!" That's what this reminds me of.

So, Dems like Dianne Feinstein want to treat the way the GOP has treated its evangelical wing all these years - as the help? Time to take a different direction!

I will cease making contributions to the Democratic Party, per se, and contribute only to individual candidates and organizations, until this matter is settled in our favor.

From Digby:
What to do? The answer is obvious and straightforward, although it will take some time for significant influence to be felt. That is to funnel as much money as possible through an organization like MoveOn to the Democratic Party in general and also to specific candidates.

Control the money and you control the party. Again, whether or not MoveOn is *the* organization is less important than making sure that the Democratic Party and its candidates realize that their income comes from people who expect the party to act as representatives of the country, not David Brooks'.

I cannot urge you enough to donate in the coming election cycle. AND to donate through an organization rather than directly to the Democratic Party and its candidates. The Village clearly likes that the United States is a democracy about as little as James Dobson likes the Bill of Rights. You want to change things? Aggregate the money and demand accountability. And make sure there's lots of money in that aggregate. It's that simple.

Don't all political candidates do that on Fox? - sound like mad scientists? And I thought Murdoch and Hillary had that pact from last year to go light on the treatment too. Guess we know where the evil laughter is coming from!:
Fox News body language expert Tonya Reiman asserted that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) exhibited "evil laughter" during her recent Fox News Sunday interview with host Chris Wallace. After playing video clips of Clinton laughing at different moments during the interview, O'Reilly asserted: "Well, she looked like she's having a swell time." Reiman replied: "Oh, contrived, contrived. That was the first word that came to mind." O'Reilly then asked: "[Y]ou mean, those laughs weren't genuine?" to which Reiman responded: "I saw some evil laughter." "Evil?" O'Reilly asked. "Evil laughter," Reiman repeated.
The Jena Matter

"There is a major white supremacist backlash building," said Mark Potok, a hate-group expert at the Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil rights group in Montgomery, Ala. "I also think it's more widespread than may be obvious to most people. It's not only neo-nazis and Klansmen—you expect this kind of reaction from them."

Some people lead a lot more complicated lives than I do:
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- A teacher accused of having an affair with a high school student, and whose husband is accused of killing the young man, has disappeared with her two children after checking out of a mental hospital.

Erin McLean, who has legal custody of her two boys, ages 11 and 8, has been missing since Sept. 15, according to attorneys for her and her husband. In a strange twist to the case, McLean is believed to have gone to California to meet someone she met online.

Attorney Gary Blackburn said his client is emotionally distraught, but he doesn't believe she would harm her children.

"Erin's undergoing enormous pressure," Blackburn said Friday. "She's unable to get or keep jobs. Anything she does is interpreted in a certain way. I fear for her. Anyone in that state, you don't know what might happen."
Hollywood And Propaganda

Andrew Breitbart and David Ehrenstein trade insights about Hollywood's involvement with wartime filmmaking.
Andrew: ...Yet the conservatives who defend and, to a great degree, prosecute this war have only themselves to blame for not putting enough emphasis on popular entertainment, and refusing to get bloody in the trenches of Melrose and Vine. There wouldn't be reverse McCarthyism (to coin a phrase) if there weren't so few conservatives plying their trade out here in the first place.

Whether it be at the film schools that graduate screenwriters and auteur directors or the theater departments and acting classes that used to develop our great actors; or the brothels, vomitoriums and gyms that produce the big stars of today, conservatives are conspicuously outnumbered or not represented at all.

But maybe we were put together for a reason. Perhaps our exploration of our political differences in Tinseltown's paper of record can be an exercise in creating a bridge to our shared values: Getting to live. Given that you are a gay expert of gays in cinema and an upstanding liberal Democrat, and I'm straight with four kids and have voted consistently Republican over the last 10 years, I propose that we start a bipartisan, bisexual artistic commission to fix the mess we've gotten ourselves into.
David: The "bipartisan, bisexual commission" you propose has far too much of a whiff of Joe Lieberman about it for my taste. Moreover, "liberal Democrat" would describe me as a teenager. To quote the cinematically celebrated songwriter Robert Zimmerman, "Oh but I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now."

...I haven't the slightest doubt that Andrew feels Hollywood should be working 24/7 on stemming the Islamic tide threatening to overwhelm all that's white and Christian, the better to impose "sharia law" on every Western corner of the globe. To this end he should be happy about the exceedingly popular "24" in that it shares the Bush administration's hostility to the Geneva Conventions, habeus corpus and other "benchmarks" of what used to be called civilization before 9/11 "changed everything" -- as every Republican politician reminds us at least twice a day. The problem, of course, is that "24" is not enough for Mr. Breitbart, decidedly displeased with a Hollywood overrun with those far more concerned with who they're having lunch with at the Ivy than what new outrage will spring from the thin, smiling lips of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

... But Andrew, you and like-minded souls might well be interested in considering the remake potential of "The Fearmakers." For while the communist menace is but a dim memory, modern equivalents of Mel and Veda Ann could easily be evoked in a (melo)dramatic expose of those sinister souls running

Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and David Shuster

Deja vu, Vietnam all over again! We work with the families of the soldiers very, very closely (after all, they vote), but, honestly, who really cares what the names of the dead soldiers (who will never vote again, if they ever did at all) actually are?

If I had been in her shoes, at least I could have claimed brain problems. For the last decade, I have had a terrible memory for names, and who knows, maybe she does too. But sweet Marsha prefers honest callousness than pleading weakness.

What a tool!


Gotcha moment on MSNBC:
Shuster: “Let’s talk about the public trust. You represent, of course, a district in western Tennessee. What was the name of the last soldier from your district who was killed in Iraq?”

Blackburn:”The name of the last soldier killed in Iraq uh - from my district I - I do not know his name -”

Shuster: “Ok, his name was Jeremy Bohannon, he was killed August the 9th, 2007. How come you didn’t know the name?”

Blackburn: “I - I, you know, I - I do not know why I did not know the name…” [Snip]

Shuster: “But you weren’t appreciative enough to know the name of this young man, he was 18 years old who was killed, and yet you can say chapter and verse about what’s going on with the New York Times and Move” [Snip]

Shuster: “But don’t you understand, the problems that a lot of people would have, that you’re so focused on an ad — when was the last time a New York Times ad ever killed somebody? I mean, here we have a war that took the life of an 18 year old kid, Jeremy Bohannon from your district, and you didn’t even know his name.”
Windy Pundit

Just wish I could click my heels three times, and make him go away:
The main virtue of the Biden-Gelb plan is that it does not stand athwart history. It enlists it. The volcanic eruption of nationalism and sectarianism that drenched the 20th century in blood -- the Holocaust above all -- has not yet run its course. The farmer and the rancher, to put things in Rodgers and Hammerstein terms, will not be friends.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Tropical Depression 12

Tropical Depression 12, currently midway between Africa and South America, looks like it might strengthen. Current forecasts suggest it will not approach the east coast of the U.S., but may affect Bermuda instead.
La Niña Is Spanish For The Niña!

Left: Image by bloop at B3ta.

Puh-leeze! This La Niña, so far, is as weak as a premature infant. The Southern Oscillation Index is at 5.5 - it barely qualifies as La Niña! I've got more severe weather blowing around in my closet than this La Niña!:
Experts predict a run of severe weather in the coming months, with devastating floods striking some parts of the world while severe droughts afflict other regions, as the climate phenomenon known as La Niña gathers momentum.

A chronic drought afflicting southern California and many southeastern states of America could be exacerbated, with Los Angeles heading for its driest year on record. In contrast, western Canada and the northwestern US could turn colder and snowier. Mozambique, southeast Africa, and northern Brazil may face exceptionally heavy rains and floods, while southern Brazil and much of Argentina suffer drought.

La Niña could even rearrange the pattern of sea ice around the Antarctic, pushing the ice pack towards the Pacific side of the continent. Already, torrential rains have triggered severe floods across a huge swath of Central Africa, stretching from Senegal in the west to Uganda in the east.

...Met Office scientists have found that La Niña is likely to have played a part in the abysmal British summer. By upsetting the usual track of the high-altitude jet stream towards Britain, it delivered barrages of slow-moving Atlantic depressions with torrents of rain. La Niña may also have been involved in the spectacular Asian monsoon this summer, leading to floods that killed about 1,000 people in India and Bangladesh. And it allows hurricanes to develop - already this month the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico have experienced two monstrous Category 5 storms. Another hurricane broke the record for the fastest intensification of a storm.

La Niña occurs when the tropical seas of the Pacific off the coast of Latin America cool down, while the waters turn warmer towards Australia, the Philippines and Indonesia. That lurch in ocean temperatures can send weather systems into havoc over vast areas, delivering huge deluges of rain over the Far East and tropical Australia, while western parts of Latin America turn much drier than usual. This is the flip side of El Niño, although La Niña lasts for a shorter time, usually no more than a year.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

2007 Elly Awards

Left: The Crest Theater on Sunday night Sept. 23rd.

The full list of awards is here.

Everybody was there! Well, not EVERYBODY, just the beautiful people! Well, not ALL the beautiful people, of course, but quite a few nonetheless!

When I walked into the theater, I had to make a careful decision - what food item to purchase?

Last year's decision didn't work that well. Then, I bought a lot of popcorn, and tried to waylay some of the beautiful people in conversation, using the popcorn as a lure. At intermission time, I leaned against the wall, and lunged out when beautiful people passed by. When Anna Miles passed by, I lunged out and said "do you want some popcorn, Anna?" "No, thanks," she said as she hurried past, with arched eyebrows that seemed to say, "as if!"

So, this year, I chose a soft pretzel and a soda instead. I encountered Garbeau's Mark Ferreira, who said, "I would shake your hand if you weren't burdened down so. I would shake your pretzel, if it wasn't a crime in several states." (or words to that effect).

Can't win, with food at the Elly's.....

Kaylynn Rothleder, one of the nominees for Leading Actress: Musical, for "Annie" (Runaway Stage Productions - in the middle), her dad, Mark Rothleder, and friend.

Left: Ryan Warren and Katherine Vanderford. Ryan was one of the nominees for Leading Actor: Education Musical, for "Pajama Game" (St. Francis High School), but through one of those mysterious oversights that always seem to happen, this year, Katherine wasn't one of the nominees. Nevertheless, sister Meghan Vanderford was a nominee, for Supporting Actress, Child: Young People’s Musical, for "Grease" (Davis Musical Theatre Company).

Left: Craig Howard as Billy Flynn, and the marvellous RSP dancers, in "All I Care About Is Love", from "Chicago" (Runaway Stage Productions).

Runaway Stage production's "Chicago" won numerous awards, including Direction: Musical (Bob Baxter), Best Overall Production ("Chicago"), Leading Actor: Musical (Craig Howard), Leading Actress: Musical (Lauren Miller), Musical Direction: Musical (Christopher Cook), and Choreography: Musical (Darryl Strohl). Congratulations to them as well!

Left: Craig Howard as Billy Flynn, and the marvellous RSP dancers, in "All I Care About Is Love", from "Chicago" (Runaway Stage Productions).

Left: Bob DeLucia was Master of Ceremonies Sunday night, and Kevin Caravalho provided welcome comic relief!

Those who waited till the very end saw a fine preview performance of Kevin Caravalho as Frank 'N Furter in Garbeau's Dinner Theater's production of "The Rocky Horror Picture Show". Sexy! (sadly, my camera's battery died just before his entrance...)

Left: Ron Cisneros. The Elly Award for Choreography: Young People’s Musical was won by both Debbie Wilson for "42nd Street" (El Dorado Musical Theatre) and Ron Cisneros for "Cats" (River City Theatre Company).

Left: Tyler Milliron. Tyler Milliron won three Elly Awards Sunday night: Leading Actor, Adult: Young People’s Musical, for "Peter Pan" (El Dorado Musical Theatre); Leading Actor, Child: Young People’s Musical, for "42nd Street" (El Dorado Musical Theatre); and Supporting Actor, Adult: Young People’s Play, for "The Princess and the Pea" (Garbeau's Acorn and Oak Theatre).

Left: Lauren Miller. Lauren won the Elly Award for Leading Actress: Musical, for "Chicago" (Runaway Stage Productions).

Left: The Elly Award for Overall Production: Education Musical was won by El Dorado High School for "Crazy For You". Here, Director Paul Tomei (who won the Best Director, Education Musical as well), and the cast, take the honors.

Left: John Healy's widow (I believe, Dee Dee Healy). Dee Dee Healy was nominated for two Elly Awards, for Costume Design: Education Musical (along with Louise Brown) for "The Music Man" (Oak Ridge High School) and Costume Design: Education Play, for "A Streetcar Named Desire", Oak Ridge High School.

Tonight's Elly Awards ceremony was notable for honoring John Healy, in memoriam. The Oak Ridge High School theater instructor was highly-respected in every way. I met him on only one occasion, but his memory stuck with me: high-energy, fun-loving, and very friendly. (That occasion wasn't even a theater event, but rather a political protest against the practice of offshoring high tech jobs, in Concord, on Labor Day, 2003, when I was running for Governor).

John Healy's niece (if I am not mistaken), Eh-Eh Plotkin, won and Elly Award for Leading Actress: Education Play, for "A Streetcar Named Desire", Oak Ridge High School.

And John Healy was MikeMac's uncle as well.

(quite complicated...)

Left: Lauryn Caruso. Lauryn Caruso won two Elly Awards Sunday night, for Supporting Actress: Musical, for "West Side Story" (El Dorado Musical Theatre) and Leading Actress, Child: Young People’s Musical for "42nd Street" (El Dorado Musical Theatre).

Left: Jean Henderson. Jean Henderson won The Elly Award for Costume Design: Musical, for "Camelot" (Davis Musical Theatre Company).

DMTC struck out again at this year's awards ceremony, in almost every possible way, but with one very significant exception: Jean Henderson, costumer, after having been nominated eleven previous times, finally won an Elly Award! Congratulations!

Left: "I Like Him", from UC Davis' Theater Dept. puppet version of "The Man From La Mancha".
Deep Martian Holes

Left: A montage image of the "Seven Sisters"--seven dark openings into cavernous spaces on the slopes of Arsia Mons. Researchers have nicknamed the features Dena, Chloe, Wendy, Annie, Abby, Nikki and Jeanne.

Boy, this is weird! I remember seeing Phil Christiansen (who helped design the instruments) walking the halls at ASU when I was there, in 1988/89. He's been quite fortunate in helping make significant advances in planetary science, and this discovery is a major step forward for his group:
NASA's Mars Odyssey spacecraft has discovered entrances to seven possible caves on the slopes of a Martian volcano. The find is fueling interest in potential underground habitats and sparking searches for caverns elsewhere on the Red Planet.

Very dark, nearly circular features ranging in diameter from about 328 to 820 feet puzzled researchers who found them in images taken by NASA's Mars Odyssey and Mars Global Surveyor orbiters. Using Mars Odyssey's infrared camera to check the daytime and nighttime temperatures of the circles, scientists concluded that they could be windows into underground spaces.
"Pirates Of Penzance" Weekend - Attentive Babies

Left: "Climbing Over Rocky Mountains". Entrance of General Stanley's daughters (left to right: Rhiannon Guevin, Elsbeth Poe, and Katie Baad).

So far, things are going well this weekend. Saturday night, especially, felt strong.

Joe the Plumber came with friends on Friday. Joe enjoyed the show, but after a challenging week, fatigued, he couldn't help but doze a bit in the theater darkness. The women in his party apparently enjoyed themselves immensely, however.

Left: Jessica Bean and Elsbeth Poe.

Tonight, just before showtime, Lenore Sebastian, Scott Griffith, and myself were talking about the importance of dressing well, in daily life, as well as for formal occasions. Clueless fashion-wise for most of my life, as I get older, I appreciate this viewpoint more and more.

Lenore quoted the famous statement: "Clothes make the man!" Scott added: "You need to dress like what you want to be, not what you are!" I eagerly assented: "That's why I'm going to dress like a gigolo!"

(My cluelessness applies to more than just fashion...)

A Man!

A Pirate! Horrors!

(yet he seems to sing well...)

Left: Ruth (Lenore Sebastian), Frederick (Travis Nagler), and the Pirate King (Brian McCann).

It's been very interesting watching the reactions of children to "The Pirates Of Penzance": they universally love it! They laugh and laugh! I would never have expected this reaction, given the challenging, complicated, and slightly-antiquated English in use. Nevertheless, kids seem to instinctively understand the silliness of the show, and particularly appreciate a show that doesn't insult their intelligence, doesn't stoop to the lowest common denominator, but lifts them to a higher level of pure fun.

Left: General Stanley (Paul Fearn), and daughters.

Interestingly, the appeal of Gilbert and Sullivan extends to even the very youngest. On Saturday evening, in the front row, a woman held a wide-eyed baby, maybe six months old. The baby remained attentive through most of Act I, and the entirety of Act II, never made any kind of fuss, and seemed to be absolutely captivated throughout.

Lessons for Joe, and the rest of us! Emulate the baby: less-fatiguing weeks for all!