Friday, February 29, 2008
Lots of concern about the milky-white rain that fell in southwestern New Mexico on January 7th.
Pure water in equilibrium with CO2 should have a pH about 5.6. Most rain in remote areas, containing organic acids, would be a bit more acid - pH ~ 5. This stuff apparently had a pH of 7.9: very alkaline!
So far, speculation on a cause centers on white dust kicked up from Willcox Playa in southeastern Arizona, and that seems quite likely as an explanation to me.
Doof! Doof! Doof! Doof! Doof!
I feel GOOD! In fact, I feel AWESOME!
Yesterday I took the "Get Fit Jam" aerobics class over at Pepper Von's Step One studio, and even though I hadn't worked out that much recently, I sailed through class. Instead of feeling haggard at the end, like I sometimes do (and like the 20-somethings sometimes admit to feeling too) I was still feeling up.
Last year, my doctor informed me that my blood's potassium level was low as a consequence of taking a blood pressure control drug. Apparently the diuretic impact of the drug also strips salts from the system, including potassium salts (plus, I drink so much diet cola that that probably helps strip potassium from the blood as well). So, for the last year, I've been taking a potassium supplement.
I got a blood test in January, and the doctor called and said my potassium level was still low. So, I needed to take a second capsule of potassium chloride (KCl; aka potash, the sort of stuff they mine over there in Carlsbad, NM).
OK, so like, whatever!
Yesterday, for the first time, I took a second dose of the potash, and apparently for the first time in a long time, I finally reached the level of potassium I should have had all along....
And I'm too sexy for my hat
Too sexy for my hat
what do you think about that?
Thursday, February 28, 2008
For some reason, I find myself in total agreement with the Bush Administration today. Maybe it's this thing I hear about whereby one gets more conservative as one gets older. Or maybe even a stopped clock is right twice a day:
WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration is hardening its opposition to the chorus of Democrats, bankers, economists and consumer advocates calling for a big-money government rescue program for struggling homeowners.I just look at this and think the market has to find a bottom, even if it's a deep, deep bottom, and it's better for everyone if the process proceeds quickly. Real estate markets take forever to adjust anyway (it took five years to find a bottom after the 1990 crash in California real estate values, for example). Lost homeowners have to stop trying to hang on, admit that they are screwed, surrender in the face of bone-crushing destiny, throw the kids and the dog in the minivan, and move on. Hang on, and they'll have to do the same thing anyway, just three years (and numerous dysfunctions) later.
In an interview yesterday, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson branded many of the aid proposals circulating in Washington as "bailouts" for reckless lenders, investors and speculators, rather than measures that would provide meaningful relief to deserving, but cash-strapped, mortgage borrowers.
Mr. Paulson's comments came amid signs that the nation's housing market is getting worse, not better. Indeed, at a House hearing yesterday, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke kept the door open to further interest-rate cuts to boost the economy, even as he warned that inflation pressures have intensified in recent weeks.
...Both Democratic presidential hopefuls have criticized President Bush, saying he exacerbated the housing market's woes by tolerating overly aggressive lending practices. Sen. Barack Obama (D., Ill.) has advocated the creation of a $10 billion fund to help borrowers avoid foreclosure or buy first homes, while Sen. Hillary Clinton (D., N.Y.) has proposed a 90-day moratorium on foreclosures and a five-year interest-rate freeze on adjustable-rate mortgages.
Several major banks, including Credit Suisse Group, have floated plans that would expand an existing federal program run by the Federal Housing Administration to extend government insurance to thousands of troubled loans. Former Fed Vice Chairman Alan Blinder has proposed reviving a Depression-era agency to buy up troubled mortgages and refinance them at affordable rates.
Even the Office of Thrift Supervision, an independent agency within Treasury, is developing a plan that would make it easier for banks and thrifts to refinance loans for homeowners whose houses are worth less than the amount they owe.
Rep. Frank's plan would provide about $10 billion in loans and grants to help states buy foreclosed homes, plus a similar sum to allow the FHA to guarantee new, more-affordable mortgages for homeowners on the brink of losing their houses. Democratic lawmakers, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut, chairman of the Banking Committee, have legislative remedies in mind, as well.
The housing foreclosure crisis is likely to moderate this year, which is good. Just move on, just move on....
Left: Five-year Dow Jones Industrial average performance. NASDAQ and the S&P500 indices show similar behavior.
Actually, I'm surprised how well the stock market is doing, but then Bernanke et al. are doing their best to keep it propped up.
Left: The value of the Dollar in Euros, for the last five years.
The inevitable downside, of course, is that the value of the dollar is cratering. It's not possible for the Fed to simultaneously lower interest rates, keep inflation at bay, and support the dollar. Of course, it puts the Administration in an awkward spot. For example, Bush stated recently:
"I believe that our economy has got the fundamentals in place for us to ... grow and continue growing, more robustly hopefully than we're growing now," he said. "So we're still for a strong dollar."Who believes this stuff? Certainly no one on Wall Street. The Europeans would be too embarrassed to lie so readily. The Administration made its decision to keep economic activity high, let the dollar tank, and let loose the hounds of inflation. Case closed. Just move on, just move on....
Left: The value of the Dollar in Yuan, for the last five years. Ten percent of the Chinese holdings in dollars, completely vaporized! Advice to the Chinese: Diversify your holdings! Make the Americans pay in Euros!
It looks like we're segueing into a major, major increase in gasoline prices! Over $102/bbl oil today! $102 isn't even on this chart, it's so high. Amazing! It isn't even the summer driving season yet. It's like we're back in the 1970's again! Stagflation, here we come!
The cause of stagflation in the 70's was the deficit spending hangover for the Vietnam War (inflation) coupled with high oil prices resulting from OPEC's manipulations (stagnation).
The cause of stagflation in the 00's was the deficit spending hangover for the Iraq War (inflation) coupled with high oil prices resulting from higher Asian (mostly Chinese) demand, refining capacity that hasn't kept pace with consumption, and difficulty finding new oil reserves (stagnation).
By August, I bet we start seeing gasoline at $4.50/ gallon at the pump.
I remember when Jeff S. told me how effective leaf litter is as an ice nucleator back in 1990, so the author of this study exaggerates when he says all of this has been ignored before. Nevertheless, it's interesting stuff!
Biological organisms play a significant role in the formation of rain and snow, according to a study released Thursday by the journal Science.
...Scientists have long known that the ice crystals in clouds which become rain or snow need to cling to some kind of particle, called ice nucleators, in order to form in temperatures above minus 40 degrees Celsius.
But they did not realize, until now, that the most active particles involved in this process are living ones, Christner said.
"Every snow and ice sample we've looked at, we found biological ice nucleators," he said in a telephone interview.
"Here's a component that has been completely ignored to date."
Biological ice nucleators were first discovered about 40 years ago by researchers trying to determine why some plants were damaged by frost and others were not.
They discovered that the plants which froze were covered in bacterial plant pathogens which are able to capture moisture in the air and turn it into ice at temperatures as warm as minus two Celsius.
Mineral ice nucleators like dust and soot can only capture and freeze the moisture at temperatures below minus about 10 degrees Celsius.
"It means that when cloud temperatures are in the range where inorganic matter are not active, these biological ice nucleators are active," Christner said.
Christner and his team have not yet determined how much precipitation is formed with these organisms.
But they found a stronger presence in snow collected from Montana and France than that collected in northern Canada and Antarctica.
Ouch! Oh well, that's live theatre!:
Not entirely loverly
By David Burmester Enterprise drama critic February 27, 2008 13:18
Left: Prof. Henry Higgins (Steve Isaacson, left), Eliza Doolittle (Lauren Miller) and Col. Pickering (Herb Schultz) build to a triumphant finale during one of the many much-loved songs for which 'My Fair Lady' has remained famous. (Greg Rihl/Enterprise photo)
'My Fair Lady,' adapted from George Bernard Shaw's 'Pygmalion' by the celebrated team of Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe, opened to rave reviews in New York on March 15, 1956.
The following summer, the national company played a one-month engagement at San Francisco's magnificent War Memorial Opera House. That production marked my first encounter with this great musical.
Fifty years and change later, I found myself Saturday evening at the Davis Musical Theatre Company's Hoblit Performing Arts Center right here in Davis, for yet another production of this classic musical. Of course, the Hoblit is not the Opera House, and DMTC is not a professional touring company.
Still, the current production of 'My Fair Lady' has enough good moments and enjoyable performances to make it a satisfactory evening of theater.
Trevor Hoffman is especially impressive as Alfred Doolittle. Hoffman, a newcomer to the DMTC stage, absolutely nails the Cockney accent in his two songs, 'With a Little Bit of Luck' and 'Get Me to the Church on Time.' In addition to a solid acting performance, Hoffman is far and away the most engaging dancer on the stage.
Lauren Miller shines as Alfred's daughter, Eliza. The tall, lanky Miller makes the difficult transition from ragamuffin flower girl to 'princess' completely believable. She not only captures the linguistic shift but shows us Eliza's dawning realization of her own worth: a commendable acting feat. Miller's best moment is her tea table conversation at Ascot, during which she details the colorful demise of a favorite aunt.
Danette Vassar is in top form as Mrs. Pearce, Higgins' housekeeper. It's a pleasure to see this DMTC regular give a solid performance in an important supporting role. Laura Woodruff also is worth mentioning; she stands out in several small ensemble roles.
Steve Isaacson is a puzzling choice, however, in the pivotal lead role of Henry Higgins. Isaacson is the driving force at DMTC, and he has given a number of memorable performances in character roles.
He's a great second banana, but he's not Henry Higgins.
Higgins, the precise practitioner of upper-class English, is driven by his pride in the spoken language, a character trait essential to the plot. Unfortunately, Isaacson's attempts at a British accent are uneven at best. Moreover, while Higgins is something of a jerk, he's a pleasant one, but Isaacson makes him mean and small-spirited.
I came to the theater expecting to see Isaacson as Alfred Doolittle; it's intriguing to speculate on how different the show might have been, had Hoffman played Higgins and Isaacson taken on the Cockney dustman.
Director/choreographer Jan Isaacson occasionally misses the mark. One can only wonder why Herb K. Schultz was allowed to turn Col. Hugh Pickering into a timid wimp, when the role calls for a strong and rather avuncular figure: a foil for the edgy Higgins.
Even more troubling is the blocking of large group scenes: Ensemble actors stand about in clumps, watching the action rather than being a part of it ... waiting, it would seem, for the moment when they break into song.
At times, the 20-member ensemble utterly overwhelms the acting space.
Isaacson's choreography has a military feel, as though the objective is to move from Point A to Point B while keeping time to the music.
The one staging innovation comes during 'Ascot Gavotte.' Here, in stiff little groups, the ensemble shuffles rapidly from place to place on the stage, with drill-team precision. What should have been a burlesque of the stately elegance of British high society instead becomes, sadly, something just a little bit silly.
On the other hand, the singing ensemble, under the direction of Jonathan Rothman, is one of the best I've seen at DMTC. Jean Henderson's costumes are beautiful; Eliza's gown for the Embassy Ball is lovely, and the black and white costumes for the Ascot races are truly spectacular.
Ultimately, DMTC is community theater and a labor of love. The performers' enormous energy offsets the artistic rough spots, and the enthusiasm of this company's loyal audience makes 'My Fair Lady' - with Shaw's classic story and the great Lerner and Loewe score - a show that many theater-goers surely will appreciate.
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
The Black Heart Gang published lyrics here, but listening to the song, I realized the singers adjusted the words to suit rhythm and meter. So, I tried to update the lyrics to what the singers actually seemed to sing:
Deep in the Indian Ocean,-Markus Wormstorm as Rooster Bear
all scary and black,
lives an old octopus,
with a tree in his back.
And from inside this tree,
all Piranhas appear,
and they sing soothing songs,
and are kind and sincere.
They’re not at all stupid,
They’re not very bright,
They’re never quite wrong,
And they’re never quite right.
They’re never asleep,
they’re never awake,
They all dress like weirdoes,
make no mistake
They're frightfully happy
except when they’re dead,
See Otto the monster
needs to get fed.
A tentacle from nowhere,
could give one a fright!
a thief in the night.
They sing soothing songs,
but he never hears,
for shells and the kelp,
that have grown in his ears.
Otto is deaf,
Otto means eight,
Otto means death,
To the dodos he ate.
"The future is red"
"they have to migrate,
or they’ll soon all be dead!"
So they got in the ocean,
to swim far away.
The water turned red,
On that terrible day.
For Otto the monster,
how hideous the slaughter,
he picked them like fruit,
from that inky black water
There are not many left,
But a handful, a few,
one of these had a vision,
and knew what to do.
Filled paper with ink.
And bottles with paper.
An ocean of bottles,
S.O.S ing their saviors.
But no one came,
they were sad, and alone,
they seemed to be stranded,
on this Judas called home.
The quiet warm ocean,
of terror and typhoon,
the far-away voices
that sing to the moon.
Lo! Treacherous house,
many more disappeared,
Till a visit from a mouse,
named Eddy the Engineer.
He appeared from the west,
on a bunch of bananas,
he puffed out his chest,
and addressed the Piranhas.
"You the Piranhas?
Does Otto want to eat you?
my name is Eddy,
and it’s a pleasure to meet you."
"I’ve read all your letters,
I know all the wrongs,
caused by Otto the monster,
Who is deaf to your songs"
"I’ll give you my all,
I’ll do what I can,
I'll need palm trees and syrup,
to start my plan."
Huge sticky pots,
cutting palms at the stem,
they built a great structure,
They got a wet net,
and they sang the lullabies,
they caught all these songs,
And placed them inside.
They sneaked to the shore,
set it free in the tide.
They all hid in trees,
to watch and to hide.
Now Otto is stalking
the palm-syrup snack.
He took the bait!
He fell in the trap!
The bait disappeared,
with a growl and a snap.
Otto first yawned,
And then took a nap.
So the island is sleeping,
and still is today.
Eddy had done it!
Our friends got away!
They loaded their ship,
With their mother the tree.
The wind in their sails,
and the wide open sea.
A new musical:
ATLANTA — Creating a Broadway musical can be scary enough. Even more so when it's script is penned by horror master Stephen King.
King, who has written numerous best-selling novels, has written the script for "Ghost Brothers of Darkland County," with music by John Mellencamp.
The play will open at Atlanta's Alliance Theatre in April 2009, with the object of getting it ready for a Broadway run.
The Alliance, which announced the project on Tuesday, described it as "a sultry Southern gothic mystery with a blues-tinged, guitar-driven score."
The story is set in the fictional town of Lake Belle Reve, Miss., and centers on the deaths in 1957 of two brothers and a young girl and the legend that grows out of the tragedy.
Peter Askin, whose New York credits include "Hedwig and the Angry Inch," will direct.
The idea for the story was Mellencamp's, and came from a story he heard years ago in his hometown of Seymour, Ind., said Alliance artistic director Susan Booth.
Scourge of the liberals, William F. Buckley has died, and I, for one, am glad. May he attend boring, interminable socialist meetings in hell, forevermore.
Buckley was cheerleader for the "Better Dead Than Red" zealots, so eager for nuclear war against the communists that they were willing to risk it without a qualm. People who believe "Better Dead Than Red" have no conception of the permanence of death, and the impermanence of political ideology. Death through nuclear war is about as permanent as things ever get, for both people and societies. To yearn for just the kind of wars that would risk nuclear annihilation is sick.
Two selections here. The first is from a David Gordon's dissent to a 2005 birthday tribute to Buckley. The author takes exception to Buckley's treatment of a colleague, Murray Rothbard. The second selection comes from Badtux, the Snarky Penguin:
The National Review Institute has extended an open invitation to a dinner in honor of William Buckley’s eightieth birthday, to be held November 17, 2005, at the Pierre Hotel in New York. Though it is difficult to pass up the bargain price of $500 per person to join Mr. Buckley on this happy occasion, those of us who admire Murray Rothbard cannot agree that Buckley is a fit person to honor.Badtux adds:
After Rothbard’s death in January 1995, Buckley reacted with malicious spite. In an obituary published in National Review on February 6, 1995, Buckley classed Rothbard with the cultist David Koresh. He wrote: "In Murray’s case, much of what drove him was a contrarian spirit." Rothbard, in Buckley’s view, was mentally ill, the victim of "deranging scrupulosity".
...Buckley’s malice stems from a fact he cannot escape: Rothbard exposed the contradiction at the heart of his political views. Buckley professed at the outset of his political career to be devoted to liberty and free enterprise.
...So far, so good; but trouble was soon at hand. ... Buckley adds ... : "There are times when it must be done. A society may compel its citizens to serve in the armed forces when that society is clearly threatened. But it must not conscript its citizens except where such a threat is directly posed." (p.176)
The fatal exception is at hand: if a "threat" is present, liberty exits the scene. And of course Buckley believed that the Soviet Union and its communist allies posed precisely such a threat. In order to combat communism, interferences with liberty of the severest kind may be imposed.
...Once one grasps what Buckley has in mind by "determined resistance", it is at once evident that he has abandoned liberty. He denounced the American Cold War policy of containment of Communism as insufficient: America must, if necessary, use force to liberate the nations enslaved by the Soviets. In "Will Formosa Liberate the United States?", e.g., he supported a "war of liberation" by the Nationalist Chinese to overthrow the Communist regime.
But why is this inconsistent with liberty? Would not an end to the horrendously cruel tyranny of Mao have been altogether to the good? Indeed; but to achieve this goal, Buckley was quite willing to risk nuclear war: "The Liberals go on: An offensive by Formosa is likely to bring on a third world war, which will be the end of all of us. One replies: In fact, the Soviet Union will not engage in a nuclear war so long as she is convinced that the United States is ready to reply in kind and has the capacity to do so. This is what is generally called the nuclear stalemate, or the balance of terror. It gave birth to the concept of the limited war, and it is that kind of war of liberation which those who would re-enter China favor." (Rumbles Left and Right, Putnam, 1963, p.58)
Buckley did not confine his policy of liberation to China: we should, if necessary, risk war wherever the Communists held power.
...If anything, the foreign policy supported by the Senior Editors of National Review was even worse than Buckley’s. James Burnham, who dominated the foreign policy sections of the journal, called in The Struggle for the World (1947) for preventive nuclear war against Soviet Russia. Frank S. Meyer found classical liberalism entirely compatible with a war of nuclear annihilation. Concerning him Rothbard remarked: "Frank S. Meyer and his fellow anti-Communists look forward almost with enthusiasm to a nuclear holocaust against the Communist nations which would annihilate tens of millions, if not hundreds of millions, of human beings. The devastation and suffering caused by nuclear war would bring about so many more ‘screams in the night’ as Communism has ever done as to defy comparison." (Unpublished Letter to H. George Resch, October 28, 1961) As if this were not enough, another of the founding editors, Willi Schlamm, wrote a controversial work that became a best seller in West Germany, Germany and the East-West Crisis, also defending preventive nuclear war.
With characteristic prescience, Murray Rothbard had identified the basic contradiction in Buckley’s position as early as 1952. In a comment written for a newsletter, The Vigil, on Buckley’s article, "A Young Republican View" (The Commonweal, January 25, 1952), he refused to accept Buckley’s ostensible individualism at face value. "The brief article begins splendidly, with the affirmation that our enemy is the State . . . [he] sides with Spencer that ‘the State is begotten of aggression and by aggression.’. . . [But] it soon appears that Buckley is really, in 1952 terms, a totalitarian socialist, and, what is more, admits it." Buckley acknowledged that he favored "Big Government for the duration" of the Cold War, owing to the Soviet threat. Heavy taxes and centralized power were the order of the day, and Buckley’s individualism was nothing more than pleasant rhetoric.
Despite his severe misgivings about Buckley, Rothbard agreed to write for National Review; but his opposition to Buckley’s bellicose policy eventually outweighed their cordial personal relations. Collaboration became impossible, and Rothbard departed from the magazine, never to return.
Rothbard made clear the basis of his opposition to National Review’s foreign policy in an essay, "For a New Isolationism", written in April 1959; the magazine did not publish it. To those who favored a policy of "liberation" directed against the Communist bloc, Rothbard raised a devastating objection: "In all the reams of material written by the Right in the last decade [1949–1959], there is never any precise spelling-out of what a policy of ultrafirmness or toughness really entails. Let us then fill in this gap by considering what I am sure is the toughest possible policy: an immediate ultimatum to Khrushchev and Co. to resign and disband the whole Communist regime; otherwise we drop the H-bomb on the Kremlin. . .What is wrong with this policy? Simply that it would quickly precipitate an H-bomb, bacteriological, chemical, global war which would destroy the United States as well as Russia."
To this dire picture, proponents of "rollback" would of course respond that the Communists would surrender. Rothbard dissents; to view the Soviets as blustering bullies who would slink away if challenged is to fall victim to an illusion. He thought it obvious that since "the destruction of the United States would follow such an ultimatum, we must strongly oppose such a policy."
If "liberation" leads to national suicide, what is the alternative? Rothbard suggests a return to "the ancient and traditional American policy of isolationism and neutrality." But is this not open to a fatal objection? "But, I [Rothbard] will hear from every side, everyone knows that isolationism is obsolete and dead, in this age of H-bombs, guided missiles, etc." How can America shun involvement in European power politics if Russia has the ability to destroy us? No longer can we retreat to Fortress America.
To this Rothbard has a simple response: "a program of world disarmament up to the point where isolationism again becomes militarily practical." If this policy were carried out, America would be safe from foreign attack: no longer would we need to involve ourselves in foreign quarrels. Mutual disarmament was in Russia’s interest as well, so a disarmament agreement was entirely feasible.
...Buckley had no answer to Rothbard’s argument; and a personal break soon followed. Buckley vehemently opposed the visit of Nikita Khrushchev to the United States in 1959: for him, as the historian Patrick Allitt has made clear, the struggle against the visit was a veritable Crusade. (Catholic Intellectuals and Conservative Politics in America, Cornell, 1993, pp.67–70) Rothbard, in line with his wish to abate nuclear tensions, hoped that the visit might occasion some good.
For Buckley, such a view passed comprehension; and the matter still aroused him thirty-five years later, when he wrote his tasteless obituary notice of Rothbard. He said that it "pains even to recall" Rothbard’s support for the visit; he "had defective judgment" and "couldn’t handle moral priorities." He cannot fathom why Rothbard criticized the "noble" James Burnham. How terrible it is to try to avert a nuclear exchange!
Unfortunately, Buckley was able within a few years to seize control of much of the American Right. As Rothbard noted in a speech in 1992, "Very quickly, National Review became the dominant, if not the only, power center on the right wing. This power was reinforced by a brilliantly successful strategy (perhaps guided by NR editors trained in Marxist cadre tactics) of creating a battery of front groups. . . And so, with almost Blitzkrieg swiftness, by the early 1960s, the new global crusading movement, created and headed by Bill Buckley, was almost ready to take power in America." To Rothbard’s penetrating analysis, one has only to add that Buckley, along with his Senior Editors James Burnham and Willmoore Kendall, had all served as CIA agents.
...The end of the Cold War presented Buckley with a supreme opportunity to redeem, at least in part, his libertarian credentials. He had maintained, as we have seen, that we must accept Big Government and the constant threat of nuclear war, owing to the unique menace of World Communism. He hoped to "keep in range" individualism and a bellicose foreign policy. Rothbard denied that this was possible; Buckley, faced with this untenable combination, had responded by abandoning his opposition to the state.
... As Rothbard accurately noted, Buckley was enamored of his access to power; and, were Buckley to reaffirm the views of Nock and Chodorov he had once supported, the political establishment would no longer regard him with favor. The state was hardly likely to liquidate itself: a libertarian like Buckley would become just the sort of "extremist" he had shunned in order to gain the esteem of the elite.
Buckley made his choice clear during the Gulf War. No longer was Soviet communism a threat, but he strongly supported the assault on Iraq, or as he preferred to call it, resisting Saddam Hussein’s war of aggression. "I [Buckley] and other editors had written several columns and editorials backing Bush’s tough response to Iraq." (Buckley, In Search of Anti-Semitism, Continuum, 1992, p.105)
No one who differed with this response could remain as an editor of National Review. He dismissed Joseph Sobran as senior editor because, by his opposition to the war, "Joe had become, for all intents and purposes, a member of the American pacifist movement" (Ibid., p. 26) Buckley had for some time been embroiled in controversy with Sobran, owing to his views on Israel; but it was not this issue but his "pacifism" that led to Sobran’s dismissal. (Buckley says that Sobran "agreed" to step down, but this is reminiscent of Bismarck’s resignation as Chancellor at the command of Kaiser Wilhelm II.)
...It is hardly surprising that neoconservatives such as Norman Podhoretz rushed to embrace Buckley. They saw in him an ally for their schemes to spread "democracy" throughout the world by American armed might.
I come not to praise William F. Buckley, who died today at age 82, but to lambast him. They say "speak no evil of the dead", but I wonder if that really applies to a man who has the blood of millions on his hands. Because the blood of millions it is, from the blood of millions killed in Vietnam courtesy of a crusade that William F. Buckley spearheaded, to the blood of millions killed in wars all over the world culminating in the Iraq fiasco that relied implicitly on the methods and mechanisms created by William F. Buckley.
But first, some history. After Harry S. Truman won the 1948 election in an unlikely triumph caused by his ability to communicate to ordinary people, the Republican Party was in a mess. The only way they could win the Presidency was with Dwight D. Eisenhower, a man who wasn't even registered as a Republican on the day he announced his candidacy, and that only because of the Korean War and the desire of the public to have a military man in charge of ending the war. Conservative ideas had been thoroughly repudiated by the Great Depression caused by conservative economic notions and by the post-war economic boom caused by progressive economic notions, all of which directly contradicted the notion that conservatism was the only road to economic prosperity.
It was William F. Buckley who founded the National Review and came up with the idea of the right-wing echo chamber in order to counter the draw of reality-based politics, and William F. Buckley who became its erudite and witty face. To oppose William F. Buckley was to appear to oppose intelligence. I say "appear" because in reality Buckley was pushing the vilest of vile politics. It was a generation-long propaganda effort, he knew, to discredit progressive ideas and bring back the sort of conservatism that predominated in America prior to the Presidency of FDR, the sort of conservatism that culminated in the glorious Presidency of Herbert Hoover at which point it collapsed under the weight of its own evil, but he was up to it.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
I saw a black van driving along I Street in Sacramento sporting a scary-looking winged skull with the emblem "No Fear." What's that about?
Apparently they distribute surf, wake, motocross, and freestyle motocross clothing and accessories, and even though they have no store here, they do have local distributors.
So don't be too scared....
The RNC flips the bird:
The RNC had previously told the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that it was attempting to restore e-mails from 2001 to 2003, when the RNC had a policy of purging all e-mails, including those to and from White House officials, after 30 days. But Chairman Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.) disclosed during a hearing yesterday that the RNC has now said it "has no intention of trying to restore the missing White House e-mails."
"The result is a potentially enormous gap in the historical record," Waxman said, including the buildup to the Iraq war.
RNC spokesman Danny Diaz said in a statement that the committee "is fully compliant with the spirit and letter of the law." He declined further comment.
Vegetable oil and urine. No, not Pirelli's Miracle Elixir, but rather, some of what makes up self-healing rubber:
A material that is able to self-repair even when it is sliced in two has been invented by French researchers.
The as-yet-unnamed material - a form of artificial rubber - is made from vegetable oil and a component of urine.
The substance, described in the journal Nature, produces surfaces when cut that retain a strong chemical attraction to each other.
Pieces of the material join together again as if never parted without the need for glue or a special treatment.
...A piece of normal rubber, says Dr Ludwik Leibler, who headed the research, is actually a single molecule with billion upon billions of smaller units chemically welded together to form a giant tangled network.
The elasticity comes from the fact that the strands within the network are buckled like a concertina: pull on them and they straighten and elongate; let go and the buckles reappear.
But break a rubber (or most other solids), and the chemical welds - known as covalent bonds - are also broken.
These cannot be remade. Nor can a piece of rubber be remoulded or reshaped.
"We wanted to see if we could make a rubber-like material using small molecules," Dr Leibler of the Industrial Physics and Chemistry Higher Educational Institution (ESPCI) in Paris told the BBC's Science In Action programme.
The trick was to replace the covalent bonds in rubber with weaker connections known as hydrogen bonds.
These are like hands on neighbouring molecules that can clasp together, but let go when broken.
Dr Leibler quickly realised that this meant not only that the new rubber could be recycled and remoulded many times over, but that if separated by a cut or break, the chemical hands at the fresh surfaces would still be waving about ready to bind again.
...One obvious use, says Dr Leibler, is for self-healing seals.
Puncture a seal in a compression joint with a nail, and the hole would automatically repair itself.
He also has more playful suggestions.
"Why not use it to make children's toys? Children are always breaking their toys. Wouldn't it be nice if you could put them back together so easily?"
Produced by: http://theblackheartgang.com/
Very interesting animation with "Eddy The Engineer" as the hero!
This 5 min. animation is absolutely stunning. Created by The Black Heart Gang, it was created over nine months of part time work. The Tale of How is the second part of a trilogy of works called the Dodo Trilogy. In the The Tale of How we meet a giant octopus with a tree growing in his head! His lonely past time is to devour the innocent dodo’s who live on his head. We then see the dodo’s unite and with the help of a little white mouse, we see them escape the clutches of the terrible be-tentacled tyrant and sail off into the sunset on their mother, the tree. The animation was also released with 13 gorgeous prints to accompany it! What I love about this project is how rich and detailed each layer of the animation is and when combined, it really is hard to listen to the story because your brain is going into visual overdrive.
Last night, I broke bread with some young musical theater friends, teenagers and in their early 20's, and I was pleasantly-surprised at their level of understanding of musical theater history, as they recalled fairly-obscure events from the 1930's and 1950's as if they were contemporary events.
We tend to remember those historical events that we are most interested in.
Thus, it comes as no surprise that the newest worrisome report has come out, in a long line of worrisome reports, lamenting teenagers' historical knowledge:
Among 1,200 students surveyed:In the 19th-Century, and the first half of the 20th-Century, it was easier to have a common, mostly-Christian culture, based on the Bible and a few key texts from literature, such as those by Shakespeare. Blessedly, and sadly, those days have passed, and we are still struggling to assemble a Common Culture, now incorporating scientific thought, that is still compact enough to learn in the few years we are in school.
•43% knew the Civil War was fought between 1850 and 1900.
•52% could identify the theme of 1984.
•51% knew that the controversy surrounding Sen. Joseph McCarthy focused on communism.
In all, students earned a C in history and an F in literature, though the survey suggests students do well on topics schools cover. For instance, 88% knew the bombing of Pearl Harbor led the USA into World War II, and 97% could identify Martin Luther King Jr. as author of the "I Have a Dream" speech.
Fewer (77%) knew Uncle Tom's Cabin helped end slavery a century earlier.
In some ways, Celebrity Culture is a stand-in for Common Culture, because, being both compact and universal, it can be mastered in a fairly-short time. We should give Celebrity Culture its due respect.
If it's any consolation, Australians are having exactly the same problem educating all the young dunderheads Down Under who can't remember what "ANZAC" stands for. I reprint portions of Emma Tom's funny 2006 column on the subject:
ONCE again, Australian school kiddies are in big trouble. According to a new report commissioned by the nation's education ministers, bucketloads of the ignorant little buggers don't know why we celebrate Australia Day, have a governor-general or whack a Union Jack in the corner of our flag.
...Here's the thing, though. If students are required to swot up on subjects politicians think are important (namely history, civics and blindly swallowing spin), surely politicians should have to gain a rudimentary knowledge of something young people rate highly, namely pop culture.
Last week during the electioneering in Victoria, punters were treated to what has become a pre-poll staple: candidates making tokenistic appearances on yoof media programs and revelling in their dearth of pop cultural knowledge, wearing their ignorance (or at least their professed ignorance) of Paris Hilton's shaggin' habits like rosettes of honour.
On the penultimate day of the campaign, Steve Bracks and Ted Baillieu accidentally ended up on air at Fox FM at the same time. Neither was able to answer questions about Jessica Simpson, Australian Idol or even the winner of the Melbourne Cup.
Bracks knew that the horsies that came first and second were Japanese and did a great job, but after that he drew a blank. Perhaps because the steeds in question were named Delta Blues and Pop Rock - two genres far too popular to warrant attention by a publicservant.
...One Australian broadsheet - regarded as a quality publication - regularly charts the most clicked-on stories from its internet site. Worthy, eat-up-your-broccoli reports on tax revenue, resource management and factional infighting (the political equivalent of celebrity gossip) rarely rate a mention.
Instead, the A and AB-demographic readers of this particular organ prefer feasting on fast food features about grisly baby deaths, celebrity sex romps and cyclops kittens. On Monday, the fifth most popular story here was Crocodile yak: Elton shouts at shoes - 321 words about Elton John dashing off stage for a Down Under chunder during the first performance of his latest Australian tour. Apparently a guitarist masked the knighted pianist's sudden and wordless exit by noodling an impromptu solo.
While I'm not suggesting that knowledge of such an event be tested in HSC exams, it is worth ditching the heated, high versus low culture debate for a moment and looking at the situation from a realpolitik perspective.
Growing political disengagement among young people is regarded by many pundits as a serious threat to democracy, with party membership, trust in office-holders and interest in traditional politics plunging faster than a Brownlow Medal ceremony neckline.
Reaching these voters requires learning to speak their language or, at the very least, not taking such elitist delight in disparaging it.
After all, a well-rounded education involves learning about the past and the present, the weighty and the whimsical. It means knowing why the Queen is our head of state, as well as the state of head queens such as Sir Elton Sparkly - particularly if you're a flesh-presser serious about being seen as a representative of the people.
Remember, even in Las Vegas, this is illegal:
An Iowa casino worker says he should not have been fired for demanding that his co-workers provide him with prostitutes because the casino promotes Las Vegas-style gaming.
Neil Jorgensen, 62, of Kalona worked at the Riverside Casino and Gold Resort south of Iowa City until last November. He was fired after he was given a $100 Riverside gift certificate and a free night's stay at the casino hotel in recognition of a year's employment with the company.
He used the gift certificate and free night's stay on the night of Nov. 28.
"I went to Ruthie's, the nice steakhouse within the casino, and I had a cosmopolitan or two and a bottle of wine and a really good dinner," Jorgensen testified at a recent state hearing dealing with his request for unemployment benefits.
He said he went to his hotel room about midnight and called hotel managers for help in figuring out how to order an adult movie. An hour later, he said, he called the managers again "and asked for a hooker."
After the managers refused to help procure a prostitute for him, Jorgensen called someone at the adjacent resort and made the same request.
"The advertisement is that it's just like Las Vegas, so I thought I was in Las Vegas," Jorgensen testified.
The casino's human resources director, Tim Donovan, testified that hotel workers were then sent to Jorgensen's room to insist that he stop calling for prostitutes.
"When the hotel supervisor knocked on the door, Mr. Jorgensen answered the door in the nude," Donovan testified.
Jorgensen was fired the next day.
At the benefits hearing, he testified that his actions had no detrimental effect on the casino. He said he had been given an "excellent" performance review not long before the incident.
"Gamblers have been allowed to continue gambling after they've urinated on the blackjack table standing in full public view," he testified. "I think there's a little dual standard here."
He also blamed the casino restaurant for his state of intoxication.
"They overserved me," he said. "And this casino advertises itself, if you look at any of their commercials, as a Las Vegas-style casino."
Jorgensen said Wednesday that his requests for a prostitute were actually part of "an off-the-wall surveillance" test of some kind. "I was absolutely plowed," he added.
Administrative Law Judge Terence Nice rejected Jorgensen's claim for benefits.
No use getting too worked up before November. All this will work out in the end:
Meet Jose Antonio Ortiz. The Pennsylvania man allegedly stabbed his brother-in-law in the stomach after the pair quarreled about their respective support of Democratic presidential candidates Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. According to cops, Ortiz, 28, stabbed Sean Shurelds last Thursday night in the kitchen of an Upper Providence Township home. According to a criminal complaint, the 41-year-old Shurelds, an Obama supporter, told Ortiz that the Illinois senator was "trashing" Clinton (apparently in regard to recent primary and caucus results). Ortiz, a Clinton supporter, replied that "Obama was not a realist." While not exactly fighting words, the verbal political tiff led to some mutual choking and punching. And, allegedly, a stabbing in the abdomen.
Condolences to Steve and Jan Isaacson on their loss of Scruffy, the Dog.
(This post didn't receive good visibility, so I'm bumping it towards the top again)
Left: Scruffy, and Mrs. Lovett
Dogs occupy a special place in our hearts. Just as they never forgot us, we will never forget them.
Left: Jan and Scruffy
I posted this once, but it bears reposting again. It was posted on the wall at La Riviera Animal Medical Center, and here is a Web Site featuring the same sentiment:
Just this side of Heaven, is a place called Rainbow Bridge...
When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food and water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable. All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by.
The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing: they miss someone very special to them; who had to be left behind.
They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. The bright eyes are intent; the eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to break away from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster. YOU have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.
THEN YOU CROSS RAINBOW BRIDGE TOGETHER...
Monday, February 25, 2008
Cyclone Ivan caused much harm. We should be donating a lot more than $100,000:
The death toll has risen to 44 and the number of homeless is up to 145,000 more than a week after a cyclone tore through this island in the Indian Ocean, Madagascar's government said Monday.
Areas on the eastern side of the island remained cut off by flood waters. Seven major roads were impassable and bridges have been destroyed, hampering attempts to deliver relief, according to the Ministry of Transport.
Cyclone Ivan lashed Madagascar on Feb. 17 with torrential rain and winds of up to 140 miles per hour.
The hardest-hit region is Fenerive Este, where one out of nearly every three residents lost their homes and 70 percent of buildings have been destroyed. Emergency medical supplies have been exhausted on island of Sainte Marie, a popular tourist resort that is home to 19,000, officials said.
Madagascar now faces food shortages after 37,000 acres of rice fields were flooded in the region of Alaotra Mangoro, which provides nearly a third of the island's staple food.
A relief effort is under way to provide rice, yogurt, cheese and money to parts of the east coast. The U.S. has donated $100,000.
Left: Mrs. Pierce (Dannette Vassar), Henry Higgins (Steve Isaacson), Eliza Doolittle (Lauren Miller), and Colonel Pickering (Herb Schultz).
First weekend down; three to go!
I forgot the extent to which the Stage Manager has to have a steel trap of a mind, when confronted with the challenge of knowing where every piece of furniture is located, and needs to go next. Anything that goes wrong is the Stage Manager's fault; the Cast generally takes credit for anything that goes right.
I flubbed up the headset system in Act I on Friday night, so there were delays in bringing up the lights. We also had to tighten the bolts on the wheels of the rolling bookcase during Friday's show, when we nearly lost a wheel. There were technical problems with several audio cues during the weekend. We even had a brownout on Sunday, when significant portions of Davis lost their power. After losing track of their locations, I turned up the lights on two people who didn't clear the set in time, on Sunday.
Nevertheless, especially after opening night, we had largely-smooth set changes and few problems. I pray this situation continues. Because, if it does, then the cast did their job well. And if the situation deteriorates, we know who gets the blame!
The balkanized politics of north-central New Mexico leads to no end of insoluble dilemmas:
Village officials were cautiously sympathetic to representatives of Santa Ana Pueblo who asked that Corrales get rid of the wild turkeys here which hook up with the pueblo’s native turkeys.
The Pueblo is trying to establish flocks of Merriam turkeys in the middle Rio Grande region, and at least 54 of their released turkeys are known to have migrated off of the reservation.
“The Pueblo understands that a group currently residing in Corrales comes into contact with Santa Ana’s wild turkeys from time to time,” according to Glenn Harper, speaking for the Pueblo.
...But Corrales’ wild turkeys, hanging out mostly in the Bosque Nature Preserve and in nearby agricultural fields, are quite popular among villagers.
During the summer months a flock of turkeys gobbles down raspberries at the Heidi Eleftheriou-Dough Findley berry patch adjacent to the bosque. Scurrying down the rows of berry bushes, the wild turkeys are a major attraction when the farmers open their field to pick-it-yourselfers.
...Harper urged a public education effort to convince Corraleños and other residents in this region not to feed or encourage non-Merriam feral turkeys.
Suddenly, everyone gets the itch:
What started as a quirky idea to get around the statewide smoking ban appears to be spreading like wildfire.
Dozens of bars are expected to stage "theater nights'' this weekend in which patrons are dubbed actors. The law, which went into effect in October, permits performers to smoke during a theatrical production. "Two weeks ago, we had one bar doing this,'' said Mark Benjamin, a criminal defense attorney who launched the theater-night idea. He estimates 50 to 100 bars could be on tap for theater nights this weekend based on phone calls, e-mails and requests for the how-to-stage-a-theater-night packet that he's devised. And many bar owners are passing on the information quickly among themselves without getting in contact with him.
..."We're a rock bar and the majority of the people who come here smoke,'' Bauman said. Until the state puts a stop to this, "we have every intention of doing this again. ...We have our karaoke night and we have our rock night. Now we will have our theater night.''
Alison relates: I went into the fridge today and found some interesting things - so I grabbed my camera ...scroll if you are interested....
Chicken - Check
Mushrooms - Check
Mold - Check
I saw a bean in there so I am going to guess this was once Chili?
Enchilada with a side of black mystery.
Looked like old fruit, smelled like Sangria!!!!!!
I have no idea - had the consistency of a brick, I didn’t investigate further.
Salad w/ ranch and a side of tomato.
I was smart enough NOT to open this one, but I would bet money that this was salmon or some kind of ancient sea monster.
Another shot of Nessie.
VERY dried Raspberries.
Aaaaand Last But Not Least.....the Winner!!!!
Truly active yogurt!
Happy Eating :)
The movie grips your attention from beginning to end - a well-deserved win for the Coen Brothers!
It was a golden night for the Coen brothers.
The iconoclastic filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen won three Academy Awards -- and made history Sunday evening -- with their wins for best picture, director and adapted screenplay for their gritty contemporary Western, "No Country for Old Men."
It also won an Oscar for supporting actor for Javier Bardem, who plays the merciless paid assassin at the center of the film.
The Coens are the first sibling team to win for best director and the first directing team to win since Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins for 1961's "West Side Story."
Sunday, February 24, 2008
This is sad, and bad for Albuquerque:
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The Albuquerque Tribune said goodbye Saturday to the city it had served for nearly nine decades as it closed in what observers described as the latest newspaper to succumb to the digital age.
Eighteen editors, reporters and photographers hunkered down in front of computer screens to put out the last edition. The final front-page headline read simply, "Goodnight, Albuquerque."
The Tribune's circulation had dropped from 42,000 in 1988 to about 9,600; some blamed the advent of an era in which readers increasingly shun ink and paper to consume news online. Its main competitor was the much larger Albuquerque Journal.
The paper's owner, The E.W. Scripps Company, put The Tribune up for sale in August and said it would shut the paper down if a buyer wasn't found. News of the closure was announced Wednesday.
Conservatives seem to be doing their best to demonize Barack Obama:
Barack Obama has been running his campaign in the style of a revolutionary. Just how radical and liberal Obama is has been well hidden by the campaign. If you haven't heard about his friendship with the leaders of the radical group, the Weather Underground, you can thank the media.Well, if you haven't heard of the Weather Underground, it isn't for lack of trying. Lots of meteorologists, and the general public as well, are very familiar with the Weather Underground: their Web Site features some of the most-useful weather forecasts on the Web:
Weather Underground Forecast for Sunday, February 24, 2008. The major weather story will be in the West as a very powerful Pacific storm slams into California. Preceding the main low pressure center's arrival along the northern coast of the state in the afternoon, substantial rain will fall statewide....Presumably the alarmist conservatives meant the Sixties radical group, the Weathermen, but they can't be trusted to do even the most elementary research. Myself, it gives me the warm fuzzies to think that radical Barack Obama likes to associate with the leaders of radical meteorologists.
Gays cause earthquakes? Only if they are bare-chested and in Speedoes:
AN Israeli politician has blamed a spate of recent earthquakes in the Middle East on gays
Shlomo Benizri of the ultra-Orthodox Jewish Shas Party said the only way to prevent the earthquakes was for parliament to stop liberalising laws concerning homosexuals, AP reported.
“Why do earthquakes happen? One of the reasons is the things to which the Knesset (parliament) gives legitimacy, to sodomy,'' Mr Benizri said.
...Two earthquakes originating in Lebanon have shaken Israel in the past week. The first occurred two days after the Israeli attorney-general ruled that same-sex couples could adopt children.
In recent years, Israeli courts have ruled that the government must recognise sex-sex marriages performed abroad and grant gay couples inheritance rights.
Well, at least they don't seem to be carrying salmonella. That would be the worst, of course. Or anthrax. Or lice. Or illegals. Or lawsuits:
In addition to everything else to worry about, now comes the Burmese python.
The giant snakes are slithering from Florida toward the Bay Area, very slowly to be sure, but inexorably. And they can strangle and eat an entire alligator.
The U.S. Geological Survey released a map Wednesday showing that the Bay Area has comfortable climatic conditions for the python. It also said the reptile, which prefers to swallow its prey in one gulp, is "highly adaptable to new environments" and cannot be stopped.
The snakes weigh up to 250 pounds and slither at a rate of 20 miles per month, according to USGS zoologist Gordon Rodda. They are not staying put. In fact, one of them has already slithered about 100 miles toward San Francisco.
"We have not yet identified something that would stop their spreading to the Bay Area," Rodda said.
If pet pythons were introduced into the wild in California by irresponsible pet owners, as happened in Florida, they could become established here even faster, without need of a cross-country journey.
The Burmese python is one of several nonnative giant constrictor snakes - believed to be former pets - that have been introduced and then established themselves in Florida's Everglades National Park. Biologists estimate 30,000 nonnative giant snakes live in the Everglades, perhaps more. Some have begun appearing in areas outside the park, alarming biologists and also people who don't care for snakes.
...At 20 miles a month, a determined Burmese python from Florida could arrive in San Francisco as early as August 2020.
"It would be exceptional for one animal to be that unidirectional in its movement, but it's mathematically possible," Rodda said.
The snake's cross-country crawl would be made easier by the large population of beavers along the way, Rodda said.
"Beavers would be a very tasty treat for them," Rodda said. "No beaver would be safe from a python."
The natural enemies of the python are lions, tigers and other large cats. There are few free-roaming African lions and tigers between Florida and San Francisco, the geological survey said. And the absence of alligators outside Florida can only help the snakes on their journey west, although it's a complicated relationship - while pythons eat alligators, alligators also eat pythons.
"A large alligator will eat a small python," Rodda said. "But we are not recommending you import alligators into California. That would not be a good idea."
...As for other potential prey, human beings - like rodents, beavers and deer - are mammals, government scientists confirmed.
According to the new USGS map, the python would find about one-third of the United States - including much of California - to be comfortable for its expansion. In California, the only safe places to avoid the migrating pythons would be the colder areas - the Sierra, the Cascades or the North Coast. Such remote areas, however, could not support every panicked Californian seeking to avoid the giant snakes.
The control of nonnative species is an increasing problem for local biologists, who are currently battling the dread zebra mussel and the voracious northern pike. The mussel is threatening to clog Bay Area reservoirs, and pike are gobbling Northern California salmon and trout. Some studies have said the San Francisco Bay/Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta is the most-invaded ecosystem on the planet, with hundreds of introduced species that endanger native critters.