Friday, June 13, 2008

More "Secret Garden" Photos

Left: "Come Spirit, Come Charm". Karina Summers, Scott Sablan, Bridget Maguire, Paul Fearn, Maya Rothman, Joshua Smith, Kaylynn Rothleder, Andrew Lampinen, Caitlin Kiley, Christian Salmon, Linnea Lampinen, Jabriel Shelton, Emily Jo Seminoff, Anne Marie Pringle, Darryl Strohl, and Norma-Jean Russell.

Left: "Winter's On The Wing". Dickon (Joshua Smith).

Left: Dr. Neville Craven (Rick Eldredge), Mary Lennox (Kaylynn Rothleder), and Archibald Craven (Bret McLaughlin).

Left: Dr. Neville Craven (Rick Eldredge) and Archibald Craven (Bret McLaughlin).

Left: Lily (Caitlin Kiley) and Colin Craven (Christian Salmon).

Left: Mrs. Winthrop (Bridget Maguire), Mary Lennox (Kaylynn Rothleder), Ayah (Anne Marie Pringle), and Fakir (Jabriel Shelton).

Left: Dr. Neville Craven (Rick Eldredge) and Mary Lennox (Kaylynn Rothleder).

Left: Colin Craven (Christian Salmon), Dickon (Joshua Smith), and Mary Lennox (Kaylynn Rothleder).

Left: Colin Craven (Christian Salmon), Archibald Craven (Bret McLaughlin), Mary Lennox (Kaylynn Rothleder), Andrew Lampinen, Maya Rothman, Linnea Lampinen, Aaron Rothleder, and Dr. Neville Craven (Rick Eldredge).

Left: Lily (Caitlin Kiley), Colin Craven (Christian Salmon), Mary Lennox (Kaylynn Rothleder), Andrew Lampinen, Maya Rothman, Linnea Lampinen, Aaron Rothleder (obscured), Archibald Craven (Bret McLaughlin), and Dr. Neville Craven (Rick Eldredge).

Left: Martha the Housekeeper (Emily Jo Seminoff) and Mary Lennox (Kaylynn Rothleder).

Below: Aaron Rothleder, Ben Weatherstaff (Richard Lui), Rose Lennox (Norma-Jean Russell), and Cpt. Albert Lennox (Darryl Strohl).

Left: Martha (Emily Jo Seminoff), Lily (Caitlin Kiley), Ayah (Anne Marie Pringle), Colin Craven (Christian Salmon), Fakir (Jabriel Shelton), Archibald Craven (Bret McLaughlin), Andrew Lampinen, Maya Rothman, Linnea Lampinen, Aaron Rothleder, Mary Lennox (Kaylynn Rothleder), Rose Lennox (Norma-Jean Russell), and Cpt. Albert Lennox (Darryl Strohl; obscured).
RIP, Tim Russert

Wow, just 58!
R. Kelly Acquitted

How odd! I figured, where there's smoke, there's fire. But the jury must have felt the prosecution witnesses lacked credibility.
Evacuation Includes Parts Of Downtown Des Moines

The evacuation is for the 500-year flood plain (illustrated at left).

Truer now than ever:
If it keeps on rainin, levees goin to break,
If it keeps on rainin, levees goin to break,
When the levee breaks Ill have no place to stay.
Mean old levee taught me to weep and moan,
Lord, mean old levee taught me to weep and moan,
Got what it takes to make a mountain man leave his home,
Oh, well, oh, well, oh, well.
Dont it make you feel bad
When youre tryin to find your way home,
You dont know which way to go?
If youre goin down south
They go no work to do,
If you dont know about chicago.
Cryin wont help you, prayin wont do you no good,
Now, cryin wont help you, prayin wont do you no good,
When the levee breaks, mama, you got to move.
All last night sat on the levee and moaned,
All last night sat on the levee and moaned,
Thinkin bout me baby and my happy home.
Going, gon to chicago,
Gon to chicago,
Sorry but I cant take you.
Going down, going down now, going down.
Bush Legacy

First the Boumediene Supreme Court decision, announced yesterday, then this:
AMMAN, Jordan - Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki says talks with the United States on a longterm security agreement have reached a "dead end." Al-Maliki says the talks slumped because each side refused the other's demands.

He says the initial framework agreed upon was to have been an accord "between two completely sovereign states." But he says the U.S. proposals "do not take into consideration Iraq's sovereignty."

The prime minister said Friday "this is not acceptable." The American demands "violate Iraqi sovereignty. At the end, we reached a dead end."

Washington and Baghdad have been negotiating behind closed doors a deal that would give U.S. troops legal grounds for an extended stay in Iraq after a United Nations mandate expires Dec. 31.
Our Little Prince just can't conceive why his intentions are so misunderstood:
President Bush has admitted to The Times that his gun-slinging rhetoric made the world believe that he was a “guy really anxious for war” in Iraq. He said that his aim now was to leave his successor a legacy of international diplomacy for tackling Iran.

In an exclusive interview, he expressed regret at the bitter divisions over the war and said that he was troubled about how his country had been misunderstood. “I think that in retrospect I could have used a different tone, a different rhetoric.”
I figure, if he can't manage to be understood, with all the press resources at his command, it's because people actually understand well enough what he's demanding, and are just saying NO!

Bush will have a positive legacy only if, by switching Iraq from minority Sunni to majority Shiite rule, beneficial results flow. We are at the point where, the longer we stay, the less likely we'll see those results.

Bush is unlikely to leave a productive long-term legacy. Little princes rarely do.
"The Secret Garden" Final Dress Rehearsal

Opens tonight at DMTC!

Left foreground: Kaylynn Rothleder as Mary Lennox and Dannette Vassar as Mrs. Medlock. Background, left to right: Anne Marie Pringle, Norma-Jean Russell, Bridget Maguire, Karina Summers, Darryl Strohl, Scott Sablan, Jabriel Shelton, and Paul Fearn.

Left: Dickon (Joshua Smith) and Mary Lennox (Kaylynn Rothleder).

Left: Dr. Neville Craven (Rick Eldredge), Mary Lennox (Kaylynn Rothleder), Archibald Craven (Bret McLaughlin), and Lily (Caitlin Kiley).

Left: "Quartet". Rick Eldredge as Dr. Neville Craven and Bret McLaughlin as Archibald Craven.

Left: Lily (Caitlin Kiley) and Rose Lennox (Norma-Jean Russell).

Left: Kaylynn Rothleder as Mary Lennox and Rick Eldridge as Dr. Neville Craven.

Left: Kaylynn Rothleder as Mary Lennox and Rick Eldridge as Dr. Neville Craven.

Left: Lily (Caitlin Kiley) and Archibald Craven (Bret McLaughlin).
Bruce Warren, Reporter

Now working at the Auburn Journal!
Miracles can happen in ways that we least expect and in ways that we may not recognize. Such is the case with the Wadell family, who needed a special bathroom for their daughter Jamie, who was left a quadriplegic after a serious automobile accident two years ago.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

A Soulful Darth Vader

Buzz Aldrin Punches Guy In The Face

What happens when you go to the Moon? You get that extra confidence that comes from your own experience.
Call For An Investigation?

What does this mean?:
The criminal prosecution of a hard-core pornographer turned into a personal trial for the presiding judge, who called for an investigation Thursday into his own conduct over lewd photos and videos stored on his family's publicly accessible Web site.
No, an explanation is called for, not an investigation. If he doesn't know what he himself is doing, there's no point in convening a panel to investigate the matter. The panel would have to take the judge's testimony second-hand anyway.
Anna Creek Shuttering

An Outback legend:
The sunbaked plains of Anna Creek, the world's biggest cattle station, spread seemingly to infinity beneath a gigantic sky. The property, which squats on an area larger than Wales, takes five hours to drive across. The 16,500 cows that normally live there occupy half a square mile of land apiece.

But even that generous grazing allocation is not sufficient at present, with Australia crippled by its worst drought in a century. Anna Creek, tucked away in a remote corner of South Australia, is the latest casualty. The station is being destocked, and next month will close indefinitely – at least, until it rains.

It is only the third time in Anna Creek's history that cows have been cleared from the property, which was founded by Sir Sidney Kidman, known as the "Cattle King", in the late 19th century. Quite simply, there is nothing for them to eat. "We are taking everything off the place and closing it down because it's just too dry," said Randall Crozier, the station manager.

...While some parts of Australia, particularly the eastern cities, have received much-needed downpours in recent months, many rural areas remain parched and desperate for rain. The agricultural industry is suffering badly, with wheat, rice and cattle farmers stretched to the limit. The drought is also affecting the wine industry, with production slashed and prices pushed up.

Last month was the driest May since records began in 1990, and the Australian Bureau of Meteorology says the country will need several years of above average rain to recover. The Murray-Darling Basin, the nation's food bowl, where two great rivers meet, has just had its driest autumn on record.

The news that Anna Creek is suspending operations from next month shocked Australians because of the station's fame and the place that it occupies in the country's farming history. It was one of a string of properties established across the continent by Kidman, who became Australia's best-known pastoral landowner.

...Anna Creek was carved out by the pioneers who settled Australia's unforgiving interior in the 19th century. It includes a lake with the longest name in the world – Lake Cadibarrawirracanna, or "Cadi" for short. Rolf Harris once sang of the lake, which is bordered by mulga trees and fed by a creek that is said to be saltier than the Dead Sea.

The southern limit of the station is delineated by the "Dog Fence", which is twice the length of the Great Wall of China and was built to keep dingoes out of sheep-farming country. To the north is William Creek, which claims to be the smallest town in Australia, with a population of 10. The town consists of a few weatherboard houses, a dusty nine-hole golf course, a portable cabin used as a Royal Flying Doctor Service clinic, and a fibrous cement and corrugated iron pub that is the only watering hole for 100 miles.

The pub, an Outback legend, was built in 1887 to quench the thirst of the hard men who drove the bullock teams and camel trains. Today's locals are cattle hands from neighbouring stations, including Anna Creek, some of whom arrive by light plane. William Creek has its own airstrip, and pilots taxi right to the front door of the pub before parking their planes beside it.

...South of Anna Creek is a scorched landscape of rocks and fossilised shells, known as the Moon Plains, which was once covered by an inland sea. The area was used to film some of the Mad Max movies and The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.

Despite the gloomy prospects for the property, caused by rainfall so low it could be measured in drops, S Kidman & Co's chief executive, Greg Campbell, remains determinedly upbeat.

"No drought goes on for ever," he said. "I mean, we'll live through this one and life will return. We are not so disappointed with circumstances that we are considering bailing out of a property like Anna Creek.

"It's a got a long history in the company. And it's in a drought- prone part of Australia. It's a big, vast, arid landscape. And at times it's highly productive, and it will have its productive times again."
Gourmet Melons

Via Wicked Thoughts, some fancy melons! What's the quote from Robocop? "I'd buy that for a dollar!":
A jumbo black watermelon auctioned in Japan on Friday fetched a record $6,100, making it one of the most expensive watermelons ever sold in the country.

In a society where melons are a luxury item commonly given as gifts, the watermelon's hefty price tag followed another jaw-dropping auction last month, when a pair of "Yubari" cantaloupe melons sold for a record $23,500.

The 17-pound, black-skinned "Densuke" watermelon, a variety grown only on the northern island of Hokkaido, was purchased Friday by a marine products dealer who said he wanted to support local agriculture, according to Kyodo News agency.

The price was the highest on record for a Densuke watermelon, said Kazuyoshi Ohira, a spokesman for the Tohma Agricultural Cooperative in Hokkaido. Most retail at department stores and supermarkets for a more modest $188 to $283, Ohira said.

And what makes a watermelon worth $200, much less $6,000?

Ohira says it's the unusual black skin and unparalleled taste. "It's a watermelon, but it's not the same," he said.
Tough To Be A Democratic Congressman These Days

Between the twin imperatives of bringing home the defense bacon and being against the Iraq War (sorta), it's a tough world out there.
Salon's High School Musical Compendium

According to 'Video Dog': "We went looking for the most razzle-dazzle productions of high school musicals on the web."
Some Partisan Political Humor

I need to check this diary more often:

John McCain's campaign has released a rare glimpse of the Republican candidate's own birth certificate.

Thought lost for the ages, the document was found in a clay jar, in an abandoned cave, on the outskirts of Sedona, by a shepherd boy in 1947. The desert climate and the dry atmosphere in the caves kept the parchment remarkably well preserved.

It's Sure Been Windy

It's going to be a long summer and fall:
The windy spring isn't just fanning wildfires around the Sacramento Valley. It's hammering the region's farms and ranches as well.

In the past month, the weather station at Sacramento Executive Airport has recorded sustained gusts of greater than 25 mph on six days, vs. just one day in the same period last year.

This month, the average daily wind speed has been 9.9 mph, about 25 percent above the five-year average for the first 11 days of June, according to a Bee analysis of National Weather Service data.

Such wind is sapping moisture from farm fields, increasing demand for irrigation water and generally stressing most crops. Parched grazing lands are getting even drier. Ripe fruit, like the cherries now being harvested, are being windburned. Branches are breaking in walnut and almond orchards.

In fields of rice, the Valley's most widely planted crop, high winds can uproot small seedlings and stunt the growth of more mature plants. That kind of damage can lead to smaller harvests, said Don Bransford, a Colusa rice farmer.

...April 20, a freak freeze caused up to $300 million in crop damage, mainly north of the Delta, with heaviest losses to grapes, peaches and walnuts. More recently, unseasonably cool weather has delayed ripening of other local crops, including melons and tomatoes.
Shaky Supreme Court Majority Relieves Us From 9/11 Tyranny - For Now

So damned slow! Seven years in coming! Just criminal really, this cavalier Bush dictatorship, from which we have few real defenses other than its own short-sighted distraction. But at least rights and liberties guaranteed as long ago as the Magna Carta have been restored, at least for the moment.....:
In a major rebuke to the Bush administration's theories of presidential power -- and in an equally stinging rebuke to the bipartisan political class which has supported the Bush detention policies -- the U.S. Supreme Court today, in a 5-4 decision (.pdf), declared Section 7 of the Military Commissions Act of 2006 unconstitutional. The Court struck down that section of the MCA because it purported to abolish the writ of habeas corpus -- the means by which a detainee challenges his detention in a court -- despite the fact that Constitution permits suspension of that writ only "in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion."

As a result, Guantanamo detainees accused of being "enemy combatants" have the right to challenge the validity of their detention in a full-fledged U.S. federal court proceeding. The ruling today is the first time in U.S. history that the Court has ruled that detainees held by the U.S. Government in a place where the U.S. does not exercise formal sovereignty (Cuba technically is sovereign over Guantanamo) are nonetheless entitled to the Constitutional guarantee of habeas corpus whenever they are held in a place where the U.S. exercises effective control.

In upholding the right of habeas corpus for Guantanamo detainees, the Court found that the "Combatant Status Review Tribunals" process ("CSRT") offered to Guantanamo detainees -- mandated by the John-McCain-sponsored Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 -- does not constitute a constitutionally adequate substitute for habeas corpus. To the contrary, the Court found that such procedures -- which have long been criticized as sham hearings due to the fact that defendants cannot have a lawyer present, government evidence is presumptively valid, and defendants are prevented from challenging (and sometimes even knowing about) much of the evidence against them -- "fall well short of the procedures and adversarial mechanisms that would eliminate the need for habeas corpus review." Those grave deficiencies in the CSRT process mean that "there is considerable risk of error" in the tribunals' conclusions.

The Court's ruling was grounded in its recognition that the guarantee of habeas corpus was so central to the Founding that it was one of the few individual rights included in the Constitution even before the Bill of Rights was enacted. As the Court put it: "the Framers viewed unlawful restraint as a fundamental precept of liberty, and they understood the writ of habeas corpus as a vital instrument to secure that freedom." The Court noted that freedom from arbitrary or baseless imprisonment was one of the core rights established by the 13th Century Magna Carta, and it is the writ of habeas corpus which is the means for enforcing that right. Once habeas corpus is abolished -- as the Military Commissions Act sought to do -- then we return to the pre-Magna Carta days where the Government is free to imprison people with no recourse.

In its decision, the Court emphasized (and revived) some of the most vital principles of our system of Government which have been trampled upon and degraded over the last seven years....
The laws and Constitution are designed to survive, and remain in force, in extraordinary times. Liberty and security can be reconciled; and in our system, they are reconciled within the framework of law. The Framers decided that habeas corpus, a right of first importance, must be a part of that framework, part of that law.
In ruling that the CSRTs woefully fail to provide the constitutionally guaranteed safeguards, the Court quoted Alexander Hamilton's Federalist No. 84: "The practice of arbitrary imprisonments, in all ages, is the favorite and most formidable instruments of tyranny." It is that deeply tyrannical practice -- implemented by the Bush administration and authorized by a bipartisan act of Congress -- which the U.S. Supreme Court, today, struck down.

The Military Commissions Act of 2006 was -- and remains -- one of the great stains on our national political character. It was passed by a substantial majority in the Senate (65-34) with the support of every single Senate Republican (except Chafee) and 12 Senate Democrats. No filibuster was even attempted. It passed by a similar margin in the House, where 34 Democrats joined 219 Republicans to enact it. One of the most extraordinary quotes of the post-9/11 era came from GOP Sen. Arlen Specter, who said at the time that that the Military Commissions Act -- because it explicitly barred federal courts from hearing habeas corpus petitions brought by Guantanamo detainees -- "sets back basic rights by some 900 years" and was "patently unconstitutional on its face" -- and Specter then proceeded to vote for it.

The greatest victim of the 9/11 attack has been our core, defining constitutional liberties. Of all the powers seized by this administration in the name of keeping us Safe, the power to imprison people indefinitely with no charges and no real process is the most pernicious.

Passage of the Military Commissions Act was spearheaded by John McCain, who was anointed by cowardly Senate Democrats to speak for them and negotiate with the White House. Once McCain blessed the Military Commissions Act, its passage was assured. Barack Obama voted against it, and once its passage appeared certain, Obama offered an amendment to limit it to five years. That amendment failed, rendering the MCA the law of the land without any time limits.

...Our political and media elite were more than willing -- they were eager -- to relinquish that right to the President in the name of keeping us Safe from Terrorists. Today, the U.S. Supreme Court, in what will be one of the most celebrated landmark rulings of this generation, re-instated that basic right, and in so doing, restored one of the most critical safeguards against the very tyranny this country was founded to prevent.

UPDATE: Three of the five Justices in the majority -- John Paul Stevens (age 88), Ruth Bader Ginsburg (age 75) and David Souter (age 68) -- are widely expected by court observers to retire or otherwise leave the Court in the first term of the next President. By contrast, the four judges who dissented -- Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, John Roberts and Sam Alito -- are expected to stay right where they are for many years to come.

John McCain has identified Roberts and Alito as ideal justices of the type he would nominate, while Barack Obama has identified Stephen Breyer, David Souter and Ginsberg (all in the majority today). It's not hyperbole to say that, from Supreme Court appointments alone, our core constitutional protections could easily depend upon the outcome of the 2008 election.
Lists Like Voodoo

Australian political weirdness makes me wonder, because you know Hillary's list probably wouldn't fit in a kitchen appliance:
Ms Neal yesterday attempted to hose down negative media reports by denying on breakfast television claims that she kept photographs and names of her political enemies in her freezer.

On Wednesday, Mr Rudd ordered Mrs Neal to undertake anger management classes and warned she could lose party endorsement after what he described as an apparent "pattern of unacceptable behaviour".

But one Labor MP, who did not want to be named, said Mr Rudd was being a hypocrite after he was caught at the New York strip club Scores and then claimed he was too drunk to remember anything.

"It is double standards, at least Belinda could remember where she was," said the Labor MP. "With Rudd it is not 'do as I do', it is 'do as I say'."

...Liberal MP Sophie Mirabella said Mr Rudd had been too slow to act against Ms Neal.

Mrs Mirabella, who will soon give birth, was insulted in Parliament by Ms Neal who said: "Evil thoughts will turn your child into a demon."
"The Secret Garden" Wednesday Night Rehearsal

Left: Dr. Neville Craven (Rick Eldredge), Mrs. Medlock (Dannette Vassar), Mrs. Winthrop (Bridget Maguire), Mary Lennox (Kaylynn Rothleder), Ayah (Anne Marie Pringle), and Fakir (Jabriel Shelton).

Left: "Come Spirit, Come Charm". Scott Sablan, Karina Summers, Joshua Smith, Paul Fearn, Bridget Maguire, Maya Rothman, Andrew Lampinen, Caitlin Kiley, Kaylynn Rothleder, Linnea Lampinen, Christian Salmon, Aaron Rothleder, Jabriel Shelton, Anne Marie Pringle, Emily Jo Seminoff, Darryl Strohl, and Norma-Jean Russell (off-right).

Left: Dr. Neville Craven (Rick Eldredge), Mrs. Medlock (Dannette Vassar), and Mrs. Winthrop (Bridget Maguire).

Left: Lily (Caitlin Kiley) and Archibald Craven (Bret McLaughlin).

Left: Dickon (Joshua Smith), Colin Craven (Christian Salmon) and Mary Lennox (Kaylynn Rothleder).

Left: Dr. Neville Craven (Rick Eldredge).

Left: Colin Craven (Christian Salmon), Aaron Rothleder, Archibald Craven (Bret McLaughlin), Ben Weatherstaff (Richard Lui), Rose Lennox (Norma-Jean Russell), Cpt. Albert Lennox (Darryl Strohl) and Mary Lennox (Kaylynn Rothleder).

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Puppy Vs. Robot! Epic Battle For Territorial Domination!

I think the refs threw this match....
"The Secret Garden" Tuesday Night Rehearsal (draft)

Opens on Friday!

Left: Colin Craven (Christian Salmon), Archibald Craven (Bret McLaughlin), and Mary Lennox (Kaylynn Rothleder).

Left: Ben Weatherstaff (Richard Lui) and Mary Lennox (Kaylynn Rothleder).

Left: Mary Lennox (Kaylynn Rothleder) and Colin Craven (Christian Salmon).

Left: Mary Lennox (Kaylynn Rothleder) and Martha the Housekeeper (Emily Jo Seminoff).

Left: Lily (Caitlin Kiley) and Archibald Craven (Bret McLaughlin).

Left: Colin Craven (Christian Salmon), Dickon (Joshua Smith), and Mary Lennox (Kaylynn Rothleder).

Left: Colin Craven (Christian Salmon), Lily (Caitlin Kiley), Archibald Craven (Bret McLaughlin), Mary Lennox (Kaylynn Rothleder), and Dr. Neville Craven (Rick Eldredge).

Left: Colin Craven (Christian Salmon) and Lily (Caitlin Kiley), both obscured; Martha the Housekeeper (Emily Jo Seminoff), Mary Lennox (Kaylynn Rothleder), and Darryl Strohl.

Left: Lily (Caitlin Kiley).
Afghan Time Warp

War comes full circle:
British soldiers serving in Afghanistan have recovered weapons looted from the bodies of their Victorian forebears.

Rare Martini-Henry rifles lost in the bloody defeat at Maiwand in July 1880 have been retrieved 128 years later by troops fighting the Taliban and al-Qa'ida in Helmand province.

...Mr Hawkins said: "The Martini-Henry is a very, very collectable gun – almost entirely down to Michael Caine and the film Zulu. Everyone who has seen that film has seen the Martini-Henry and knows it is the rifle used by the British in that era."

Unlike the successful defence of Rorke's Drift in 1879, as featured in Zulu, the battle of Maiwand a year later was one of the worst British defeats of Queen Victoria's 63-year reign. A 2,500-strong Anglo/Indian force was routed by an Afghan army of about 12,000 men.

Among the 1,000 British and Indian dead were 286 men of the Martini-armed 66th (Berkshire) Regiment, who made a last stand in a walled garden in the village of Khig. When only two officers and nine men of the 66th remained alive, they charged the hordes of tribesmen surrounding them.

An Afghan witness described the end: "These men charged from the shelter of a garden and died with their faces to the enemy. So fierce was their charge, and so brave their actions, no Afghan dared approach to cut them down. Standing in the open, back to back, firing steadily, every shot counting, surrounded by thousands, these British soldiers died. It was not until the last man was shot down that the Afghans dared to advance. The behaviour of those last 11 was the wonder of all who saw it."
We Knew It In Sacramento

Corruption so thick you couldn't cut it with a knife:
The Tim Donaghy scandal just got more serious.

The disgraced former NBA referee told authorities in a four-page letter released Tuesday that two officials conspired to fix the outcome of a 2002 playoff series and influenced several other post- and regular-season games.

Court documents filed by Donaghy's lawyer detailed the "inner-workings" of a plot in which top league executives used referees to manipulate the games. Donaghy claims two referees were "company men" whose job was to extend a playoff series in 2002 to a seventh game.

The documents did not name the series, but the Lakers-Kings Western Conference finals was the only series in 2002 that went to a seventh game, with the Lakers winning both Game 6 and 7 to reach the NBA Finals.

"Personal fouls (resulting in obviously injured players) were ignored even when they occurred in full view of the referees," the document says of the unnamed series. "Conversely, the referees called made-up fouls on Team 5 in order to give additional free throw opportunities to Team 6."

Two players from Team 5 fouled out in the game, the document said, and the "referees' favoring of Team 6 led to that team's victory that night." Team 6 also went on to win Game 7 of the series, according to the document.

NBA commissioner David Stern flatly denied the allegations Tuesday, dismissing Donaghy's allegations as a despearte attempt to ease his sentence.

"My reaction to Donaghy's lawyer is that clearly as the date of sentencing gets closer and the things he's thrown against the wall haven't stuck, he's rehashing a variety of things that have been given to the FBI, have been investigated and are baseless," Stern told reporters.

"He's a singing, cooperating witness trying to get as light a sentence as he can."

The Lakers trailed the Kings three games to two in 2002 when Los Angeles rallied to win each of the final two games and eventually went on win the NBA championship. Key Kings big men Vlade Divac and Scot Pollard both fouled out in Game 6.

Shaquille O'Neal scored 41 points and pulled down 17 rebounds against the Kings in Game 6, and drew most of the fouls that sent Divac and Pollard out of the game.

"Our big guys get 20 fouls tonight and Shaq gets four? You tell me how the game went," Kings coach Rick Adelman said after the game, according to SportsTicker. "It's just the way it is. Obviously, they got the game called the way they wanted to get it called."

"I knew before the game I'd be out of it," Divac added. "(O'Neal) went out (on fouls) up there (in Sacramento). It had to be the same down here."

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Lesbos Is Not For Lovers, But For The Lesbians

And if you disagree, we're going to sue your ass!:
The inhabitants of the Aegean island of Lesbos have began a court action that will attempt to prevent homosexual women from calling themselves Lesbians.
The Chair Roundtable Discusses Aristotle

Featuring my living room furniture:
Aristotle characterizes everything that exists into certain categories; substance, quality, quantity, relation, etc. Substance is prior to the other categories since substances exist as separate entities, while the other categories exist only as the qualities of substance. These substances include individual substances like "dog" and "chair" and also their species and genera like "animal" and "furniture." For a dog is an animal, a dog is not just some quality of an animal.

Form is different from matter. A chair's form is the structure of the chair, the chair's matter is wood. He does not accept Plato's notion of a transcendental Form of Chair; the form of the chair is the form of that particular chair. The chair's matter, wood, can also be divided into form and matter, since wood is made of earth, air, water, and fire combined in a particular way. Aristotle calls prime matter the "stuff" that has no particular form. He raises the question whether form can have no matter, to which he answers that this form without matter is God.

If matter becomes a chair the matter is chair potentially, or capable of being a chair, whereas the form is the actuality in virtue of which it is now an actual chair. Matter and form are the "causes" of what comes to be. Aristotle defines four kinds of causes; 1) material cause - what something is made of, 2) formal cause - what it is essentially, 3) efficient cause - what brought it into being, and 4) final cause - what its function is. The causes apply to things and not events.
Hickory Chair: I am a genuine hickory chair, made in 1949! My material cause is hickory!

Love Seat: I am a Love Seat! My efficient cause is love!

Rocking Chair: I am a Rocking Chair. My formal cause is rocking.

Settee: No it's not! Your final cause is rocking, not your formal cause!

Office Chair: Look at me! My efficient cause is office, but my final cause is rolling.

Settee: That's ridiculous! Neither you or the rocking chair knows what they are talking about! It figures, with you multi-pathway excuses for furniture!

Office Chair: Look who's talking! You aren't even a proper chair!

Love Seat: Can't we all just get along?
Sun Continuing To Lie Low

Sunspot activity is absent, and no one is quite sure why:
The scientists said periods of inactivity are normal for the sun, but this period has gone on longer than usual.

"It continues to be dead," said Saku Tsuneta with the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, program manager for the Hinode solar mission. "That's a small concern, a very small concern."

...The last cycle reached its peak in 2001 and is believed to be just ending now, Longcope said. The next cycle is just beginning and is expected to reach its peak sometime around 2012. Today's sun, however, is as inactive as it was two years ago, and scientists aren't sure why.
I'm Voting Republican

It's hard to believe there was a time, say, just a two-and-a-half years ago, when electioneering via YouTube wasn't much done. Here's a good clip.

Reading the credits, I got chills when I discovered the real name of the personal trainer in the film is Alan Greenspan.

Schizophrenia On The High Plains

Oklahoma Congressman David Boren's position is somewhat hard to parse. Basically it's "a pox on you, Barack" unless it causes inconvenience to Boren; then it's "glad to see you!":
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Democratic Rep. Dan Boren of Oklahoma said Tuesday Barack Obama is "the most liberal senator" in Congress and he has no intention of endorsing him for the White House.

However, Boren will vote for Obama at the Democratic National Convention in Denver in August and will vote Democratic on Nov. 4.

..."We're much more conservative," Boren said of district. "I've got to reflect my district. No one means more to me than the people who elected me. I have to listen them." He called Obama "the most liberal senator in the U.S. Senate."
John McCain's Annual $58,000

Yeah, what about this?:
I think our troops should only get the best, and we've beaten up the administration a lot for leaving our injured troops and vets in the lurch. But I also remember from those articles how hard it is for our current injured troops to get the health care they need (the military is actually refusing to diagnose PTSD in order to save money on benefits!). I'm just not sure that the McCains, who own "eight or nine houses," should be getting $58k a year tax-free from the government for a "technical" disability when others who don't have families worth a gazillion dollars could use that support a lot more. The median household income in the US in 2006 was $48,201. I know vets who have done well for themselves in the workplace and, as a result, refuse to take any federal medical benefits. They feel it would simply be wrong to take what amounts to federal welfare when they're rich.
"The Secret Garden" Monday Rehearsal

Tech week has begun!

Left: Caitlin Kiley as Lily.

Below: Bret McLaughlin as Archibald Craven and Rick Eldredge as Dr. Neville Craven.

Left, foreground: Bret McLaughlin as Archibald Craven and Kaylynn Rothleder as Mary Lennox. Background: Andrew and Linnea Lampinen.
Post-Death Payday

Because you can take it with you!:
It's not enough that American CEOs get paid gigantic sums, many are also due to collect huge severance packages after they die, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Among the more outrageous posthumous packages:
  • $298.1 million for Comcast CEO Brian Roberts;
  • $288 million for Nabors CEO Eugene Isenberg;
  • $115.6 million for Occidental CEO Ray Irani
  • $17 million for Shaw Group CEO J.M. Bernhard to not compete with the firm after he dies.
The practice is time-honored but was largely hidden until a recent change to disclosure requirements. Defenders say the packages are merely "deferred compensation" or geared to aid estate-planning and tax efficiency.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Chemistry Lesson


There is a provocative article in the July/August issue of The Atlantic Magazine by Nicholas Carr called "Is Google Making Us Stoopid?" The thesis of the article is that Internet use (and not just Google) rewires the brain and makes people increasingly incapable of following the long, dense, complicated argumentation that a previous technical development, the Printing Press, made accessible to a mass readership.

Myself, I think this is silly. I think indeed we may be increasingly incapable of following long, dense, complicated argumentation, but it's because everything we do is increasingly strapped to the engine of economic gain. At work, we have no time for long, dense, complicated argumentation, and so all that philosophical guff gets set aside. It's bad for our brain to neglect philosophy, though. If anything, Google is our friend, so we can get through our jobs faster, and have more time for long, dense, complicated argumentation. Google is a brain vitamin.

Today, a Google search from Saudi Arabia sent a reader to my Web Site. The Google search was "meaning of sparky to the illuminati". That search just blows my mind. It's true, my dog Sparky is a perfect dog, and that might be of interest to the Illuminati. But still, what does the search mean, exactly?

So, Google doesn't make us stoopid, but stoopid does make us Google.
You Are A Raccoon

Walking Sparky last night, just as we approached a tree, I heard claws on bark as some weighty animal lifted its ponderous self above Sparky's reach. I expected to see an alien-looking possum, but instead found myself face-to-face with an anxious-looking raccoon sitting on a branch, looking like a Cheshire Cat, just ten feet in front of me. "You are a raccoon," I repeatedly cooed to the animal, and to its credit, the raccoon didn't quibble.
"The Wizard Of Oz" - Mountain Play Amphitheatre - Mt. Tamalpais

Left: A chilly welcome to Oz on a warm afternoon. Left to right, Glinda (Marcia Pizzo), Toto (Alex the Dog), Dorothy (Sarah Smithton), and the Wicked Witch (Jessica Powell).

On Sunday, I went with Sally Forment to see the Mountain Play in the Amphitheatre at Mt. Tamalpais State Park, high on a ridgetop, in Marin County north of San Francisco.

This is the 95th season of the Mountain Play. There is one more weekend for "The Wizard Of Oz" (closes on Father's Day). Interestingly, Sally also saw "The Wizard Of Oz" the last time the Mountain Play featured it, in 1991. The Mountain Play for the 96th season, in the summer of 2009, will be "Man Of La Mancha".

Left: An a cappella singing group of Marin County high school students, "Till Dawn", warms up the crowd on a warm afternoon.

Left: "Yellow Brick Road". Left to right, Tin Man (David L. Yen), Lion (Bruce Vieira), Dorothy (Sarah Smithton) and Scarecrow (Erik Batz).

Left: "If I Only Had A Brain". Dorothy (Sarah Smithton) and Scarecrow (Erik Batz).

Left: "Merry Old Land Of Oz". The Emerald City is a friendly place to strangers!

Left: Why is this small plane buzzing the Mountain Play Amphitheatre just as the Emerald City welcomes Dorothy and her party?

Left: "Surrender Dorothy" - it's the Wicked Witch, of course!

Left: Wicked Witch (Jessica Powell), Winkie General (Michael Nurge), and the Winkies.

Left: "Jitterbug"

Left: Sally Forment and Mountain Play Artistic Director James Dunn.

In 1965, Sally danced in a production of Garcia de Lorca's "Blood Wedding" directed by James Dunn. Over the rainbow, and forty-three years later, at age 75, James Dunn still directs!