Friday, June 20, 2008

Axis Of Evil Breaking Down?

Or is it Lucy with the football again?:
WASHINGTON (Kyodo) U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Wednesday she expects North Korea to provide a long-overdue declaration of its nuclear activities as promised under a six-party deal and that if that materializes, the United States will move to remove Pyongyang from its list of nations that sponsor terrorism.

"North Korea will soon give its declaration of nuclear programs to China," she said in a speech at the conservative Heritage Foundation think tank in Washington. "And President (George W.) Bush would then notify Congress of our intention to remove North Korea from the State Sponsors of Terrorism list and to cease the application of the Trading with the Enemy Act."
Field Of Geeks

Carve it, and they will come (via Wicked Thoughts):
CARVED out in a Wiltshire field, a 46m-wide pattern is said to represent the first 10 digits of pi, one of the most fundamental symbols in mathematics. ... But whatever its origins, the experts say it is the most complex crop circle ever seen in Britain.

The pattern appeared earlier this month near Barbury Castle, above the village of Wroughton in Wiltshire. ... [R]etired astrophysicist Mike Reed saw a photograph of it and made the mathematical link. He said the crop pattern "clearly shows" the first 10 digits of pi, which is used to calculate the area of a circle. The image is a fractal, or geometric pattern.

Fractals have been a staple of crop circle designs. The most famous, the Mandelbrot Set or the Julia Set, appeared 12 years ago in Avebury Trusloe, Wiltshire.
A Bit Bewildered

Paul Krugman of the NY Times is startled by all the conservative accusations that speculation is to blame for the run-up in oil prices (Krugman and others are more inclined to blame surging consumption in India and China):
Aren’t conservatives supposed to believe in efficient markets, where competition is good for everyone?

But McCain is following the likes of Steve Forbes and many articles in places like the National Review, all claiming that oil prices are a bubble, soon to disappear — a claim they’ve been making for at least three years.

What’s going on?

I think that conservative belief that the market is always right is colliding with another, even more deeply held belief — that there are no limits, except for those imposed by tree-huggers.The idea that oil might really be getting hard to find, in spite of the magic of capitalism, is just unacceptable; so they insist that it’s all craziness in the futures markets.

It’s not just conservatives who are into blame-the-speculators mode, of course; but they’re the loudest voices. It’s really weird.
And now Joseph Lieberman wants to remove CalPERS from the commodity markets. I thought the reason conservatives encouraged pension funds to place their money in the markets was to reduce the potential for governmental support down the road. So, if pension funds make a killing in the markets that's a good thing. Right? Right?
Bad Air In El Paso Today

Range fires in the Guadalupe Mountains of New Mexico are largely to blame.

One fire in the vicinity of Las Cruces could possibly have been started by a meteorite.
Yet Water Didn't Show Up In The Chemical Test

Mars must be an unusual place. The topsoil must be nearly-impermeable, in order to keep the surface dessicated in the presence of ground ice:
June 19, 2008 -- Dice-size crumbs of bright material have vanished from inside a trench where they were photographed by NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander four days ago, convincing scientists that the material was frozen water that vaporized after digging exposed it.

"It must be ice," said Phoenix Principal Investigator Peter Smith of the University of Arizona, Tucson. "These little clumps completely disappearing over the course of a few days, that is perfect evidence that it's ice. There had been some question whether the bright material was salt. Salt can't do that."
Trying To Find The Meaning In An Alien Artifact

Or so it must seem to the Karl sisters as they try to puzzle out the Integratron:
The crowds are drawn in part by the perceived healing, but largely by the site's zany history, which starts with its architect, an iconoclast named George Van Tassel.

In the midst of a career in aerospace, Van Tassel effectively dropped out. In 1947, he leased four square miles of desert from the federal government and built an "Interplanetary Airport" and a tiny restaurant, famous for his wife's apple pie, near fabled Giant Rock, a seven-story-high boulder that has since split in two.

Van Tassel claimed to have been visited by aliens in 1952, and thousands began making pilgrimages to his "Spacecraft Conventions" in the desert. He said the aliens had imparted information regarding time travel and rejuvenation.

Van Tassel began building the Integratron. He never quite finished, however, and died in 1978. Everyone who had worked with him left immediately, Joanne said, and his diagrams and documents vanished. Someone even ripped out the copper coiling that was the heart of the purported time-traveling aspect of the dome.

...Since then, the sisters have learned more about the Integratron, though there is still plenty of mystery. They found an underground bunker, for instance, and old-timers in the area have suggested that there is more below ground on the property than is visible on the surface of the sand and gravel.

The big remaining hurdle is figuring out if they can do what Van Tassel never did: turn on the Integratron, spinning a system of spokes circling the dome, generating electricity, capturing it in wiring and -- probably not, but just maybe -- tinkering with time. If they can retrace his steps and rebuild the destroyed copper coil, they'll give it a shot, Joanne said.

Van Tassel claimed that the aliens had told him that humans were "remedial" -- and that the Integratron could extend life, allowing us to become better educated.

"I think we can all embrace that. People are starving. We are at war. We're morons," Joanne said, laughing. "Do I want to live to be 800 years old? Not really. But it would be fun to see what happens if we try."

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Avon Walk Breast Cancer Benefit AT WOH

Left: J.P. Villa, and company.

On Thursday evening, J.P. Villa and friends staged monologues at the Woodland Opera House for an audience of about 40 to 50 supporters regarding breast cancer, and the testimonials of those who have lost loved ones to this scourge. My understanding was that this 30-40 minute event was a shortened version of a longer set of monologues.

The fundraiser was done on behalf of the Avon Walk, an annual event to be held on July 12-13th in San Francisco.

Consider making a contribution to this fundraiser, or similar ones to be held throughout the area over the next month.
Purely Word Of Mouth

I understand monologues written by J.P. Villa will be staged tonight at the Woodland Opera House. I'm going to attend, to hoot and holler in support, but beyond that I know nothing: there seems to be no announcement anywhere of the event.
Thong Shrapnel

A "design problem" is alleged:
As she was attempting to put on a Victoria's Secret thong, a Los Angeles woman claims that a decorative metallic piece flew off the garment and struck her in the eye, causing injuries and a new product liability lawsuit against the underwear giant.
Here is a link to a video featuring a drawing of the offending garment.

Various rude comments at the Daily Rotten include:
If you really want to avoid panty-line, go commando.
I wanna see the evidence and the reenactment.
Dental floss is a privilege; not a right
But I say give the woman her day in court. Stranger things have happened. Here at work, one of our employees had to take the day off because of a paper cut to her cornea. She was filling a copy machine with paper and passed the edge of a single piece of paper directly across her eye. (It hurt like the devil for a day and quickly healed.) I don't know how big the piece of metal was that lodged in this woman's eye, but it probably hurt like the devil too and may have healed more slowly. Whether this kind of sporadic accident merits success in a lawsuit depends on the court's findings.
Heavyweight Champion

Sumo image from B3ta.

Between the USA & Australia, similar people, similar lifestyles, similar diets means a real battle for supremacy! The part below about denial of surgery sounds more than a little extreme!:
AUSTRALIA is the heavyweight champion of the world, according to figures showing the nation has a greater proportion of obese citizens than the US.

The latest comprehensive obesity study has shown that 26 per cent of adult Australians almost four million are now obese, one million more than the last calculation in 1999.

The findings give Australia top spot as the world's most overweight nation, ahead of the notoriously super-sized Americans, who have a 25 per cent obesity rate.

"That, unfortunately, makes us the heavyweight champions, a title we don't really want," said Professor Simon Stewart, head of preventative cardiology at the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute.

Experts are now calling for extreme measures like gym discounting and denial of surgery based on body mass index (BMI) to rectify the situation.

The report, entitled Australia's Future Fat Bomb, was released ahead of the Federal Government's obesity inquiry.
DANCE WITH ME - Vanessa Williams & Rick Valenzuela

Of course, no mention of the ballroom dance scene in Arizona in the early 80's would be complete without mentioning that ultra-intense Tucson fireball, Rick Valenzuela, who here plays Vanessa Williams' egocentric jerk of a partner.
Ron Montez & Liz Curtis - United States Latin Champions

This video brings back memories of ballroom dancing in New Mexico & Arizona in the late 70's & early 80's. I was on the fringe of all this (met Roy Mavor, Ron Montez, and Liz Curtis just once):
This video contains the 'show' evaluation part of US Latin American dance champions Ron Montez and Liz Curtis during the World Cup Latin 1984 for professionals that was held in Hamburg, Germany.

Ron Montez started dancing and teaching in 1964 at the Arthur Murray Dance Studio in Tucson, Arizona. He was there for seven years and became a dance director before moving on to Brigham Young University. For two years he was under the direction of the famous Roy Mavor who was then the director of the dance program. During his career, Ron won numerous ballroom and latin titles and especially made a major impact at the British Open. Then in 1979 he met Liz Curtis and became the 7 time undefeated United States Latin American Champion, World Finalist and British Finalist. Ron Montez is one of the most respected personalities in the dance business, as a dancer, coach and judge not only in the United States but internationally. He is a World Renowned coach & choreographer in both American & International Styles including Swing, and is a DVIDA National Examiner.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Nicholas Brothers In "Stormy Weather"

More dance nostalgia, this time, the Nicholas Brothers (along with Cab Calloway) in "Stormy Weather.

A noted dance authority, Fred Astaire, once told the brothers that the "Jumpin' Jive" dance number in Stormy Weather was the greatest movie musical sequence he had ever seen
Bush/McCain Decide To Sacrifice Florida Governor Crist

Left: Image from NRDC

This is the primary GOP attack of the campaign so far, but it puts Crist in an untenable position. The Dems need to counterattack with NM Senator Jeff Bingaman's approach, asking: What have the oil companies been doing with existing leases of Federal land for oil drilling?:
Crist Angles For VP Slot: Endorses McCain's Plan For Florida Oil Drilling Despite Opposing It Last Week
The Godfather Analogy

Very inventive and clever approach to foreign relations, but not necessarily the most-persuasive. The analogy isn't precise. Still, very interesting.

In the event of a Democratic victory, and an end to the Sonny-style approaches of Bush and McCain, it remains to be established whether Obama might be a Tom Hagen type (Hillary would have been one) or a Michael Corleone type:

The aging Vito Corleone, emblematic of cold-war American power, is struck down suddenly and violently by forces he did not expect and does not understand, much as America was on September 11. Even more intriguingly, each of his three “heirs” embraces a very different vision of how the family should move forward following this wrenching moment. Tom Hagen, Sonny and Michael approximate the three American foreign-policy schools of thought—liberal institutionalism, neoconservatism and realism—vying for control in today’s disarranged world order.

The Consigliere

AS VITO’S heirs gather, the future of the Corleone dynasty hangs in the balance. The first to offer a strategy is Tom, the German-Irish transplant who serves as consigliere (chief legal advisor) to the clan. Though an adopted son, Tom is the most familiar with the inner workings of the New York crime world. As family lawyer and diplomat, he is responsible for navigating the complex network of street alliances, backroom treaties and political favors that surround and sustain the family empire. His view of the Sollozzo threat and how the family should respond to it are outgrowths of a legal-diplomatic worldview that shares a number of philosophical similarities with the liberal institutionalism that dominates the foreign-policy outlook of today’s Democratic Party.

First, like many modern Democrats, Tom believes that the family’s main objective should be to return as quickly as possible to the world as it existed before the attack. His overriding strategic aim is the one that Hillary Clinton had in mind when she wrote in a recent Foreign Affairs article of the need for America to “reclaim its proper place in the world.” The “proper place” Tom wants to reclaim is a mirror image of the one that American politicians remember from the 1990s and dream of restoring after 2008—that of the world’s “benign hegemon.”

This is the system that Tom, in his role as consigliere, was responsible for maintaining. By sharing access to the policemen, judges and senators that (as Sollozzo puts it) the don “carries in his pocket like so many nickels and dimes,” the family managed to create a kind of Sicilian Bretton Woods—a system of political and economic public goods that benefited not only the Corleones, but the entire mafia community. This willingness to let the other crime syndicates drink from the well of Corleone political influence rendered the don’s disproportionate accumulation of power more palatable to the other families, who were less inclined to form a countervailing coalition against it. The result was a consensual, rules-based order that offered many of the same benefits—low transaction costs of rule, less likelihood of great-power war and the chance to make money under an institutional umbrella—that America enjoyed during the cold war.

It is this “Pax Corleone” that Sollozzo, in Tom’s eyes, must not be allowed to disrupt. In dealing with the new challenger, however, Tom believes that the brothers must be careful not to do anything that would damage the family business. The way to handle Sollozzo, he judges, is not through force but through negotiation—a second trait linking him to today’s liberal institutionalists. Like more than one of the leading Democratic contenders for the presidency, Tom thinks that even a rogue power like Sollozzo can be brought to terms, if only the family will take the time to hear his proposals and accommodate his needs.


Shoot First and Ask Questions Later

SONNY’S SIMPLISTIC response to the crisis is to advocate “toughness” through military action, a one-note policy prescription for waging righteous war against the rest of the ungrateful mafia world. Disdaining Tom’s pleas that business will suffer, Sonny’s damn-the-torpedoes approach belies a deep-seated fear that the only way to reestablish the family’s dominance is to eradicate all possible future threats to it. While such a strategy makes emotional sense following the attempted hit on his father, it runs counter to the long-term interests of the family.

The don himself knew that threats against his position were a fact of life; while his policy revolved around minimizing them, he knew well that in a world governed by power, they could never be entirely eliminated. As he put it to Michael, “Men cannot afford to be careless.” By contrast, Sonny’s neoconservative approach is built around the strategically reckless notion that risk can be eliminated from life altogether through the relentless—and if necessary, preemptive—use of violence.

In Sonny, Tom is confronted with the cinematic archetype of the modern-day neoconservative hard-liner. Their resulting feud resembles the pitched political warfare between Democrats and neoconservatives that has come to dominate the American political landscape:


Michael’s Realism

THE STRATEGY that ultimately saves the Corleone family from the Sollozzo threat and equips it for coping with multipolarity comes from Michael, the youngest and least experienced of the don’s sons. Unlike Tom, whose labors as family lawyer have produced an exaggerated devotion to negotiation, and Sonny, whose position as untested heir apparent has produced a zeal for utilizing the family arsenal, Michael has no formulaic fixation on a particular policy instrument. Instead, his overriding goal is to protect the family’s interests and save it from impending ruin by any and all means necessary. In today’s foreign-policy terminology, Michael is a realist.

Viewing the world through untinted lenses, he sees that the age of dominance the family enjoyed for so long under his father is ending. Alone among the three brothers, Michael senses that a shift is underway toward a more diffuse power arrangement, in which multiple power centers will jockey for position and influence. To survive and succeed in this new environment, Michael knows the family will have to adapt.

First, Michael relinquishes the mechanistic, one-trick-pony policy approaches of his brothers in favor of a “toolbox,” in which soft and hard power are used in flexible combinations and as circumstances dictate. While at various times he sides with Tom (favoring negotiation) or Sonny (favoring force), Michael sees their positions as about tactics and not about ultimate strategy, which for him is solely to ensure the survival and prosperity of the family. Thus, he is able to use Sonny’s “button men” to knock out those competitors he cannot co-opt, while negotiating with the rest as Tom would like. This blending of sticks and carrots ensures that Michael is ultimately a more effective diplomat than Tom and a more successful warrior than Sonny: when he enters negotiations, it is always in the wake of a fresh battlefield victory and therefore from a position of strength; when he embarks on a new military campaign, it is always in pursuit of a specific goal that can be consolidated afterwards diplomatically. Can any of the Iran policies currently being advocated by the leading candidates of both parties be said to proceed from these assumptions?


Hard to find the right one:
The High Court in South Africa has ruled that Chinese South Africans are to be reclassified as black people.

It made the order so that ethnic Chinese can benefit from government policies aimed at ending white domination in the private sector.
A Million Tributes To Cyd Charisse Today

This assemblage of still photos is very affecting. And then all the other outtakes from her movies too!

According to Wikipedia:
She was a sickly girl who started dancing lessons to build up her strength after a bout with polio. At 14 she auditioned for and studied ballet in Los Angeles with Adolph Bolm and Bronislawa Nijinska, and subsequently danced in the Ballet Russes as "Celia Siderova" and, later, "Maria Istromena".
Long live the Ballet Russes!
Tribute To Ballet Russe Men Dancers

Earlier this year at Media City Ballet in Glendale, honoring, among others, George Zoritch, my first ballet instructor.
2008 Mountain Play

Fragment of the "Wizard Of Oz".
E. Returns Early From Camp

E.: MMMAAAARRRRCCCC! They bite me!
M.: Who bite you?
E.: Bugs! Bugs! There was a snake in the cabin!
M.: There was a snake in the cabin?
E.: My friends said it was my imagination!
Apparently it was an all-right time, playing miniature golf for the most part, but then one of the elderly men in their party didn't feel well, so they returned early....

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

RIP, Cyd Charisse

What a glorious career this member of Col. de Basil's Ballet Russe fashioned for herself!
MSNBC's Chuck Todd Calls A Waaaaambulance

Regarding's new ad.....

"Secret Garden" Review Out

Stellar DMTC cast unlocks 'Secret Garden'

By Bev Sykes Enterprise theater critic June 17, 2008 12:30

'The Secret Garden' was the Davis Musical Theatre Company show that closed out the company's time at the Varsity Theatre in 2002, before DMTC moved into the Hoblit Performing Arts Center. I gave it a lukewarm review, pointing to low energy and a bare-bones set, which made, particularly, the finale scene disappointing.

I was curious to see what changes I would find six years later, with DMTC firmly ensconced in its own theater, hoping it would improve on that long-ago production.

It has. In the current production, which opened last weekend at the Hoblit Performing Arts Center, the look is much more plush, the cast consistently good and the overall evening a delight.

Based on the beloved 1911 book by Frances Hodgson Burnett, 'The Secret Garden' tells of Mary Lennox (Kaylynn Rothleder), the only survivor of a cholera epidemic that swept through the family compound in India. She is taken back to England to live with her only remaining relative, her uncle Archibald Craven (Bret McLaughlin), a hunchback who lives in a lonely mansion on a hill in the Yorkshire Moors.

Archibald has been wallowing in deep grief over the death of his wife Lily (Caitlin Kiley), who died in childbirth 10 years ago, and has isolated himself from the world, and especially from his sickly son, Colin (Christian Salmon), who is bedridden and kept hidden in his room by his physician, Archibald's brother Neville (Rick Eldredge).

The arrival of Mary, initially a spoiled, self-centered child who has been waited on all her life, causes disruption in the carefully ordered life that Archibald has built for himself.

In her loneliness, Mary begins to explore the grounds and finds a secret garden, planted by Lily, and locked ever since her death. With the help of the gardener, Dickon (Joshua Smith), brother of the chambermaid, Martha (Emily Jo Seminoff), Mary works to revive the garden, and in so doing she is herself changed into a caring child who ultimately brings life back to the house, to Archibald and to Colin.

It is helpful to have either read the book or seen the movie (with Margaret O'Brien as Mary) to understand that half of the people on the stage are actually ghosts. This is not a fault of the DMTC production, but of the musical itself, with book and lyrics by Marsha Norman and (mostly forgettable) music by Lucy Simon. The authors seem to take for granted that the audience will already be familiar with the story.

However, whatever the shortcomings of the musical itself, this modest production is quite good.

The bulk of the story and the action rest on the shoulders of Mary Lennox, and Kaylynn Rothleder is up to the task. She can be petulant, angry, frightened and filled with wonder. Rothleder is both a good actress and a good singer, which is half the battle right there.

Bret McLaughlin is a marvelous Archibald Craven. The grief is painfully written on his face in all of the scenes when he remembers his beloved wife. He has a powerful voice, which is equally effective when tender, as in the duet with the ghost of his wife Lily, one of the more poignant in the play.

Caitlin Kiley's Lily is eloquent and in great voice, and also quite poignant as she interacts with her husband.

Christian Salmon, as Colin, turns in a good performance as Archibald's son, being kept in bed by his doctor-uncle who is convinced that to let Colin out of bed would be to shorten his life. He has a good tantrum, and a wonderful wide-eyed wonder look when he sees Mary's garden.

Rick Eldredge is sufficiently smarmy as Dr. Neville Craven, gradually taking control of Archibald's house and family for his own reasons.

The supporting cast is quite strong, from Jabriel Shelton, the Fakir in the opening scenes, down to Richard Lui as Ben, the old gardener who is full of wisdom to impart to Mary.

Joshua Smith carries a heavy load as Mary's friend Dickon, who teaches her how to bring the seemingly dead garden back to life again. Smith has great charisma and you enjoy watching him on stage.

Emily Jo Seminoff is the relentlessly cheerful chambermaid, Martha, Dickon's sister. Seminoff has a long professional rsum and it shows in this role.

Dannette Vassar is the dour Mrs. Medlock, given the task of bringing Mary to Yorkshire. She's curt and crisp and without much empathy, and Vassar is wonderful in the role.

Director Steve Isaacson, who also designed the sets and lights, has greatly improved on his 2002 production. With a cast that is uniformly fine, a more detailed set (the finale is now quite lovely!), and interesting lighting effects, such as the tree on the curtain during one of the later scenes, he has created an enchanting production.

Kudos also go to costume designers Jean Henderson, Anna Johnson and Denise Miles. I particularly liked the assortment of pinafores for Mary.

While its slower pace and complicated themes may not make it a good production for children under the age of 8, older children, especially little girls, should enjoy entering Mary's secret world and watching how her transformation rubs off on everyone.


What: Davis Musical Theatre Company's production of 'The Secret Garden'
When: 8:15 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 2:15 p.m. Sundays, through July 6
Where: Hoblit Performing Arts Center, 607 Peña Drive, Davis

Tickets: $18 general, $16 for students/seniors; call (530) 756-3682 or visit
Nothing More Awesome Than The Disney Fame Machine

Now gearing up to make Demi Lovato a star. (From the Evil Beet):
The Wall Street Journal ran an interesting article today about the Disney fame machine and their newest protege, 15-year-old Demi Lovato, who will star in the upcoming Disney flick Camp Rock, which they obviously hope will be the next High School Musical. (It premieres today on pay-per-view, which is probably why the WSJ is running this article today.)

Anyway, the whole article’s worth a read (it’s here) as it talks a little about how Disney discovers and nurtures new talent. It turns out Demi is the BFF of another Disney star, Selena Gomez — the two met when they both appeared on Barney as children. Demi’s mother took Selena and Demi to a Disney audition in Austin, where they passed on Demi but snapped up Selena (she “looks more Hispanic than Demi, and that’s what they were looking for at the time,” says Demi’s mom). After Selena scored big with Disney, she was determined to help her BFF get famous too, and called her up on stage during a break from the taping of Wizards of Waverly Place. Demi belted out a tune for the producers, who then cast her in Camp Rock. Cute story, if it’s true.
Semaphore Everyone Gets

Politico wonders:
Are Dems talking about McCain’s age in ‘code’?
No, there's hardly any code there. It's embarrassing, actually, how little code there is.
“It is code; there is no question it is,” Ed Rollins, a Republican strategist who helped lead President Ronald Reagan’s 1984 reelection campaign, said when age surfaced as an issue. “They are trying to raise doubts.”
Oh, Dems are raising doubts all right, to the point of bluntness. The hard part will be keeping it under control, so as to avoid insulting seniors.
Flattery Will Get You Everywhere

But will it make you buy a new, large vehicle? (From coffee cup liners advertising the GM Acadia Crossover):
Your hair looks really, REALLY GOOD TODAY. LIKE, REALLY GOOD.
Dang It - Another Thing To Feel Guilty About

I wash zillions of these beads down the sink every year. And just when my conscience was clearing up:
That's because the exfoliating ingredient in Olay's body wash, and in most similar big-brand products (such as Dove Gentle Exfoliating Foaming Facial Cleanser and Clean & Clear Daily Pore Cleanser), is actually made out of plastic: tiny particles of polyethylene that scrub the dirt from your face and then wash straight down the drain and into watersheds and, eventually, oceans.

It's well-known by now that increasing amounts of plastic are clogging the planet's seas, killing millions of sea creatures every year when they swallow it, choke on it, or get tangled in it and drown. Plastic doesn't biodegrade, meaning it doesn't break down into its initial components; every piece of plastic ever made is probably still around somewhere on the planet today. But sunlight disintegrates plastic into smaller pieces of plastic. These can wind up in waterways like rivers and creeks, flowing out to sea.

..."As this debris occupies the same size range as sand grains and planktonic organisms, it is available to a wide range of invertebrates near the base of the food chain," says Mark Browne, a scientist at the Centre for Ecological Impacts of Coastal Cities at the University of Sydney who has studied the consequences of microscopic plastic in marine habitats. And unlike other types of plastic that just happen to end up in the ocean, these beads are almost predestined to reach the sea.

The amount of "microplastic"—fragments smaller than 1 millimeter—in the oceans has "increased significantly" over the last few decades, according to Browne, who found that 85 percent of the plastic debris in one British estuary was micro. Browne believes that one reason more people haven't heard about the problem is simply that it's difficult to study. "Quantifying tiny plastic fragments in the animal tissues presents a number of methodological challenges," he says.
Silly Europeans And Their Silly Ways

Not that I really object:
Whether it has any bearing on Monday's crunch Euro 2008 match between the two countries is debatable but Austria drew first blood on Sunday when their topless women's soccer team beat Germany 10-5.

The traditional swapping of shirts afterwards was not an option as the six-a-side teams wore nothing but G-strings, with the national colours painted on to their bare skin.

The football may not have been of the highest quality but that did not temper the enthusiasm of a mostly male crowd boosted by a sizeable media presence only too happy to desert Euro 2008 training for an hour or two.

..."I hope our men will take heart from that tomorrow. We played pretty hard, we even had some injuries, like I for example broke my toe nail," 29-year-old bank employee Doris Fastenmeir told Reuters.

The Germans took defeat sportingly and joined their opponents for alcopops and dancing at a beach club alongside the Danube.

"I was supposed to hold the balls but I really have no idea how to do that," German keeper Jana Bach said.

"Maybe it is because I am not all that much into soccer. I am more into shoes to be honest."
Working On A Banner

For Sacramento's Top 25.
Transient On The Roof

B.L. arrived early one weekend morning at DMTC several weeks ago and observed a man with a bedroll descending down an external ladder from the roof. Apparently we've had a transient living up there:
A transient on the roof. Sounds crazy, no? But here, in our little village of Davis, you might say every one of us is a transient on the roof trying to scratch out a pleasant, simple living without breaking his pocketbook. It isn't easy. You may ask 'Why do we stay up there if it's so dangerous?' Well, we stay because Davis is our home. And how do we keep our balance? That I can tell you in one word: musicals!

Monday, June 16, 2008

"The Secret Garden" Opening Weekend

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

Nice weekend! There were a few problems, of course.

In 2002, I was Stage Manager for "The Secret Garden", and on opening night, at the end of Act I, the brilliant lights behind the gate failed to function (the power strip switch was in the "off" position).

In 2008, I am Assistant Stage Manager for "The Secret Garden", and on opening night, I got confused about exactly when the gate came on stage, and so I had to open the traveller curtain and run out to my post behind the gate while exposed the full view of the audience. The folks from Runaway Stage on hand Friday night were so nice and cheery: "We saw you on stage, Marc!" (just shoot me).

In 2014, I anticipate being the Personal Assistant to the Assistant Stage Manager for "The Secret Garden", and on opening night, I hope to finally get the opening-night gate sequence right.

On Saturday night, costumer Jean Henderson was trying to find a way to exit the theatre back stage right just before a scene change. I had moved all the furniture as far away from the stage as possible to accomodate the approaching scene change, and the exit was momentarily blocked. Jean *thought* she saw a path through the furniture and tried to exit, but tripped and took a face plant on a platform. She was basically OK (small cut and bruise), but it was embarrassing.

Sunday went quite well, though.

Left: Anne-Marie Pringle, Norma-Jean Russell, Darryl Strohl and Jabriel Shelton (both obscured), Karina Summers, Scott Sablan, Paul Fearn, and Bridget Maguire.

Below: Anne-Marie Pringle, Scott Sablan, Bridget Maguire, Caitlin Kiley, Richard Lui, Paul Fearn, and Joshua Smith (obscured).

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

Below: "Opening Dream". Scott Sablan, Karina Summers, Bridget Maguire, Aaron Rothleder, Norma-Jean Russell, Paul Fearn, and Darryl Strohl.

Left: Lily (Caitlin Kiley) takes a bow on opening night. Back arc, from near to far: Christian Salmon, Emily Jo Seminoff, Andrew Lampinen, Aaron Rothleder, Linnea Lampinen, Rick Eldredge, Darryl Strohl, Norma-Jean Russell, Jabriel Shelton, Paul Fearn, Scott Sablan, Dannette Vassar, and Richard Lui.
Conservatives As Victims

Interesting article by Corey Robin in The Nation, and one that also stresses just how shoddy some of the work coming out of The New Republic has been of late - a theme dear to my heart:
[George] Will is not the first conservative to believe himself an exile in his own country. A sense of exclusion has haunted conservatism from the beginning, when émigrés fled the French Revolution and Edmund Burke and Joseph de Maistre took up their cause. Born in the shadow of loss--of property, standing, memory, inheritance, a place in the sun--conservatism remains a gathering of fugitives. From Burke's lament that "the gallery is in the place of the house" to William F. Buckley Jr.'s claim that he and his brethren were "out of place," the comfortable and connected have fashioned a philosophy of self-styled truancy. One might say this fusion of pariah and power has been the key to their success. As Buckley went on to write, the conservative's badge of exclusion has made him "just about the hottest thing in town."

While John Locke, Alexis de Tocqueville and David Hume are sometimes cited by the more genteel defenders of conservatism as the movement's leading lights, their writings cannot account for what is truly bizarre about conservatism: a ruling class resting its claim to power upon its sense of victimhood, arguably for the first time in history. Plato's guardians were wise; Aquinas's king was good; Hobbes's sovereign was, well, sovereign. But the best defense of monarchy that Maistre could muster in Considerations on France (1797) was that his aspiring king had attended the "terrible school of misfortune" and suffered in the "hard school of adversity."

Conservatives have asked us not to obey them but to feel sorry for them--or to obey them because we feel sorry for them.

...Reformers and radicals must convince the subordinated and disenfranchised that they have rights and power. Conservatives are different. They are aggrieved and entitled--aggrieved because entitled--and already convinced of the righteousness of their cause and the inevitability of its triumph. They can play victim and victor with a conviction and dexterity the subaltern can only imagine, making them formidable claimants on our allegiance and affection. Whether we are rich or poor or somewhere in between, the conservative is, as Hugo Young said of Maggie Thatcher, one of us.

But how do they convince us that we are one of them? By making privilege democratic and democracy aristocratic. Every man, John Adams claimed, longs "to be observed, considered, esteemed, praised, beloved, and admired." To be praised, one must be seen, and the best way to be seen is to elevate oneself above one's circle. Even the American democrat, Adams reasoned, would rather rule over an inferior than dispossess a superior.

...It took the American slaveholder to grasp the power of this insight. The best way to protect their class, the masters realized, was to democratize it. Make every man, or at least every white man, a master, and so invested would he be in his mastery that he'd work to keep all others in their place. The genius of the slaveholding class was that it was "not an exclusive aristocracy," wrote Daniel Hundley in Social Relations in Our Southern States (1860). "Every free white man in the whole Union has just as much right to become an Oligarch." To that end, Southern politicians attempted to pass legislation and provide tax breaks to ensure that every white man owned at least one slave.

...Making privilege palatable to the democratic masses is a permanent project for conservatives, but each generation must tailor it to the contours of its times. In 1960, Goldwater's challenge was set out in his book's title: to show that conservatives had a conscience. Not a heart--he lambasted Eisenhower and Nixon for trying to prove that they were compassionate--or a brain, which liberals from John Stuart Mill to Lionel Trilling had doubted. Political movements often have to show that they can win, that their cause is just and their leaders are savvy, but rarely must they prove that theirs is a march of inner lights. Goldwater thought otherwise: to attract new voters and rally the faithful, conservatism had to establish its idealism and integrity, its absolute independence from the beck and call of wealth, from privilege and materialism--reality itself. If they were to change reality, conservatives would have to divorce themselves, at least in their self-understanding, from reality.

...This romantic howl against the economism of the New Deal--similar to that of the New Left--was not a protest against politics or government; Goldwater was no libertarian. It was an attempt to elevate politics and government, to direct public discussion toward ends more noble and glorious than the management of creature comforts and material well-being. Unlike the New Left, however, Goldwater did not reject the affluent society. Instead, he transformed the acquisition of wealth into an act of self-definition through which the "uncommon" man--who could be anybody--distinguished himself from the "undifferentiated mass." To amass wealth was not only to exercise freedom through material means but also a way of lording oneself over others.

...Goldwater lost big in the 1964 presidential election. His children and grandchildren have won big--by broadening the circle of discontent in the realm of domestic politics to include husbands and wives, evangelicals and white ethnics, and by continuing to absorb and transmute the idioms of the left.

...In an interview with the Washington Star, just one of the many absorbing documents gathered by Story and Laurie in The Rise of Conservatism in America, [Phyllis] Schlafly described herself as a defender, not an opponent, of women's rights. The ERA was "a takeaway of women's rights," she insisted, the "right of the wife to be supported and to have her minor children supported" by her husband. By focusing her argument on "the right of the wife in an ongoing marriage, the wife in the home," Schlafly reinforced the notion that women were wives and mothers first; their only need was protection from their husbands. At the same time, she described that relationship in the liberal language of entitlement rights. "The wife has the right to support" from her spouse, she claimed, treating the woman as a feminist claimant and her husband as the welfare state.

Like their Catholic predecessors in eighteenth-century France, the Christian right appropriated not just the ideas but the manners and mores of its opponents. Billy Graham issued an album called Rap Session: Billy Graham and Students Rap on Questions of Today's Youth. Evangelicals criticized the culture of narcissism--then colonized it. In his article in Rightward Bound, Matthew Lassiter reminds us that James Dobson got his start as a child psychologist at the University of Southern California, competing with Dr. Spock as the author of a bestselling child-rearing text. Paul Boyer points out in his contribution to the volume that evangelical bookstores "promoted therapeutic and self-help books offering advice on finances, dating, marriage, depression, and addiction from an evangelical perspective." Most audacious was the film version of Hal Lindsey's book The Late Great Planet Earth. While the book popularized Christian prophecies of the End of Days, the film was narrated by Orson Welles, bad boy of the Popular Front.

...The rise of the neocons is a puzzle. How did a group of bookish, mostly Jewish, ex-leftists from New York City come to help govern a nation that is Christian, anti-intellectual and hates New York City? [Jacob] Heilbrunn (a former neocon) doesn't solve the puzzle, but he brings a welcome scrutiny to one piece of it. "Neoconservatism isn't about ideology," he writes. "It isn't about the left. It is about a mindset, one that has been decisively shaped by the Jewish immigrant experience, by the Holocaust, and by the twentieth-century struggle against totalitarianism."

...This combination of resentment, zeal and intransigence has been a source of intellectual fertility--and political anxiety. Whenever neocons get too close to the Promised Land, they fret over losing their status as outsiders. Being comfortable makes them uncomfortable. Thanks to the failure of the war in Iraq, however, "they are back in exile, where they belong--and where they are, in some respects, most content," Heilbrunn explains.

...Here's Heilbrunn discussing how supporters of the war in Iraq began to criticize the Iraqis once the war effort faltered ... The identical order and nearly identical setup of the same quotes, with the same ellipses, caught my attention, especially since Heilbrunn cites only Wieseltier in his footnote. But I dismissed it as a single instance of carelessness. Then I found another. ... Heilbrunn, it turns out, borrows more than the syntax, setup and sources of other people's writings. Sometimes he reproduces, sentence by sentence, the arc and logic of their prose. ... Heilbrunn is a journalist, not a scholar; he is a former senior editor at The New Republic and a former member of the Los Angeles Times editorial board.

...And, in the end, his argument about the neocons is incoherent. One of the reasons the neocons succeed, Heilbrunn claims, is that they don't compromise their principles. Consequently, "the political class in each party regards them with a mixture of appreciation and apprehension, even loathing." Yet Heilbrunn also claims that neoconservatism has "become a partisan cause dedicated to advancing the Republican Party's electoral fortunes rather than an independent collection of thinkers." The neocons "started out as intellectuals who were attracted to power. Soon enough, however, the prospect of access to the high and mighty became an end in itself." So, are the neocons sticklers or hacks, purists or politicos?
You Know The TV Bobbleheads Have Too Much Power

When a sudden death in their ranks gets the Anna Nicole Smith treatment:
After Russert's shocking death Friday at age 58, television kept serving up witnesses to his expertise, intelligence, diligence, kindness, faith, love of family, Buffalo and the Buffalo Bills. The self-indulgence was breathtaking.

On Monday's "Today," Matt Lauer interviewed Russert's son, Luke. The show basically gave over the first half-hour to the Russert story. Presidential candidates aren't questioned at such length on morning programs.

And the children of America's fallen heroes don't receive such a platform, either.

Here are a few points to consider:

Does the coverage move the story along? "ABC World News" examined heart disease, which killed Russert. Fox News Channel's Greta Van Susteren took up the same issue. But so much of the coverage was of the "I remember Tim" variety. Sad to say, a lot of it was repetitive.

Is there a sense of proportion? Peter Jennings didn't receive such heavy coverage when he died -- ABC doesn't own a cable channel. And he was in our homes, night after night, for 20 years. MSNBC kept Russert front and center through the weekend. How will NBC cover the passing of Tom Brokaw? Hasn't he been the most influential figure at NBC for the past two decades?

Do the hours of coverage inflate the story? Tim Russert was excellent at his job, make no mistake. He worked hard, he treated his guests fairly, and he asked tough questions. But by weekend's end, some commentators had elevated him to preeminent journalist of his time. And one reader wrote: "His was the most noteworthy and untimely 'public' death in the past 20 years."

Really? Beware hyperbole.

Is the coverage professional? A lot of the comments about Russert should have been saved for the office. NBC should have approached covering Russert as the network would have any other public figure who had died. Hard to do, yes, but that should have been the goal. Instead, Russert's colleagues used the airwaves to work through their grief. Some people will excuse that style out of sympathy, but that approach just wasn't right.

Does the coverage of one story obscure everything else in the world? Russert dominated the MSNBC news menu over the weekend. The reader I quoted earlier defended that approach: "No one I talked [to] mentioned floods in the midwest or Iraq. They talked about Tim Russert. You need a reality check."

Maybe, but not on this point. The news needs to be a mix of stories. People needed to be reminded about the Iowa floods -- people are suffering on a grand scale there. But, of course, those people live far from the Washington Beltway, and so they won't gain the vast air time accorded to journalists and politicians.
A Rose By Any Other Name

Here is a list, roughly in decreasing order of frequency, of the various nicknames I call Sparky the Dog:
Antiqa Manteca (meaning, roughly, Old Lard)
Antique Dog
Anky Anky
Warko Warko
Parko Parko
Park Park
Wolf Dog
Sparky The Doodle
African American Dog
Senile Dog
Mokum Dog
Tinky Tinky
Fortunately, he seems to respond to all these names.
Lizard Engineering

Apparently a redesign of the Australian lizards would be helpful:
The conundrum raised in the George Orwell novel Animal Farm has perplexed zoologists since the discovery of dragon lizards that can run on two legs and on four. Researchers have speculated that it is an evolutionary advance. Others argued that it meant the animals could flee predators more quickly. Close analysis of their bodies and speed tests on treadmills have revealed however that two legs are slightly more inefficient than four. Rather than provide the animals with an advantage in the wild, the ability to rear up on their hind legs as they scuttle across the Outback is simply a design fault.

Experiments in which lizards were prompted to sprint on treadmills showed that they lifted on to their hind legs because the rate of acceleration altered their centre of gravity and made it impossible to keep four feet on the ground. They were simply accomplishing the reptilian equivalent of a cyclist’s wheelie.

Observations of how fast the lizards ran on the treadmills showed that speed could be ruled out as the cause because the animals were able to run just as fast on four legs. The theory that lifting up on two legs was an evolutionary advance and a step towards an entirely bipedal lifestyle was quashed when researchers realised that ancient species of lizard spent just as much time on two legs as the modern varieties.

Dr Christofer Clemente, of the University of Cambridge, said that rising up on their hind legs was the price that lizards had to pay for the speed and manoeuvrability that turned them into “the jet fighters of the Outback”.

He said: “I think it’s just an evolutionary accident. It’s a consequence of them wanting to run really quickly. As they are moving, it causes the front of the body to flip up. The reason we think this comes about is these lizards have adapted themselves to be really quick and manoeuvrable runners. One of the ways they do that is by moving the centre of gravity towards the back of the lizard – that makes them more manoeuvrable. A fighter jet has a centre of gravity near the back. It makes it more manoeuvrable but less stable. Boeing 747s have a centre of gravity much closer to the nose. These lizards are like the fighter jets. They are really quick, really manoeuvrable but really unstable.”

The findings by the Anglo-Australian research team, published in The Journal of Experimental Biology, also ruled out a theory that the lizards ran on two legs to breathe better. Lizards cannot take breaths when running because the muscles they use to expand and contract the lungs have to be used to move the animals forward. It had been suggested that with the front legs off the ground the muscles would be able to operate the lungs, but this was proved to be wrong.
Food-Safety Schadenfreude

From the health-conscious folks at the Davis Food Co-op.
Freemasons - When You Touch Me (feat. Katherine Ellis)

Real disco, done right! Can't get enough! Can't get enough!!!!

Better-quality video here....

Freemasons - When You Touch Me (feat. Katherine Ellis)

Well you're boring me now
First you stay then you go
If I'm kicking you out
Then it's time you should know
Oh baby

I'm so sick and tired of sitting talking to you
Yeah that's right
You never tell me anything that I wanna know 'bout your life

But baby when you touch me on my body
I love every feeling that I used to know
And baby when you touch me on my body
I'm losing my mind every time here I go

But baby when you touch me on my body
I love every feeling that I used to know
And baby when you touch me on my body
I'm losing my mind every time here I go

Baby, yeah that's right
Baby, yeah that's right

I despise that you know
I'm too weak to say no
I can scream, I can shout
But you still got a hold
Oh baby

My friend are mystified about what I see in you
When you got that right
But they don't know why I put up with all that you do
Oh 'cause you love me right
Am I an addict only hanging out for your touch?
Oh oh oh oh
Well I should go, but maybe I could see you just once
Baby one more time, ohh yeah

'Cause baby when you touch me on my body
I lose every feeling that I used to know
And baby when you touch me on my body
I'm losing my mind every time here I go

'Cause baby when you touch me on my body
I lose every feeling that I used to know
And baby when you touch me on my body
I'm losing my mind every time here I go

Oh baby, I could see you just one more time
Baby, yeah that's right
Oh, It's the way that you love me
Baby, yeah that's right
I know, you're never gonna be ready baby?
Baby, yeah that's right
Talk to me baby, oh, you know I, You know what I want

Come on just touch me on my body
I lose every feeling that I used to know
And baby when you touch me on my body
I'm losing my mind every time here I go

'Cause baby when you touch me on my body
I lose every feeling that I used to know
And baby when you touch me on my body
I'm losing my mind every time here I go

Baby, yeah that's right
Baby, yeah that's right
Parking Pursuit

There is a large parking lot for California DMV workers between my back yard and St. Joseph's Catholic cemetery. Late at night the parking lot sees a few visitors, generally residents of a nearby apartment complex passing through the parking lot towards any number of personal destinations. Between 4 and 5 a.m., a taxi driver will often park there and catch a few ZZZZ's between the last of the late-night nightclub fares and the first of the early-morning airport fares. Sometimes people park in the lot in order to to leap the cemetery's chain-link fence and visit the cemetery in the middle of the night. I remember once watching a neighbor, an overweight beer fan, awkwardly and apologetically climbing back over the chain-link fence in the presence of the cops. No doubt that was an uncomfortable explanation!

But sometimes people will park in the parking lot for obscure reasons, and I wonder what they are doing - drugs, drink, sex, sleep, conversation, what? So, late on Saturday night, returning from DMTC's "The Secret Garden", I noticed a car pulling out of a parking spot next to the cemetery fence and cruising very slowly past my house. Suspicions aroused, I decided to follow them.

First they went to the AM/PM convenience store at 21st Street and Broadway. I parked in the adjacent Catholic center's parking lot and watched. A young male left the car from the passenger side and purchased *something* at the store. He then got back in the car and the car proceeded east down Broadway. I pursued and got close enough to read the license plate: "6DTW153". They circled back to the parking lot and parked in the same spot I had seen them pull away from. I parked my car a short distance away, near "Skunk Corner" (where I've seen a skunk twice in the last three months), at 22nd & Sloat Way, and waited.

After just a few seconds, though, they pulled out of the parking slot and started driving away. "Aha - they know I'm following them!" I thought. They headed south on Freeport, and I followed. I got left behind at a traffic light and they disappeared into the night. So, satisfied they were finally gone, I circled back to my house.

Pulling up towards my driveway, I saw the car again in the same parking space! The pests: they had given me the slip! As soon as I saw them, though, they saw me too, and they pulled away again, and disappeared once again down Freeport into the night.

Reassured, I went to get Sparky for the nightly walk. As is normal, once released from the back yard, leashless Sparky took off running into the night, running heedlessly down 22nd Street - and right past "6DTW153", this time cleverly parked on 22nd Street rather than in the parking lot. I heard a woman laugh as I turned down the street to chase Sparky past the car, and I thought "who is this woman and why is she laughing?"

Rather than walking Sparky southwards, past the 24th Street Theatre as is my custom, I circled north and east and approached "Skunk Corner" from the east, so I could observe the car from behind. But as I approached the corner, I saw a young man standing at the corner, and as I approached, he vanished around the corner back towards the car. If I saw him he must have seen me. Who was that guy?

I gazed at the idling parked car while passing "Skunk Corner" as I took Sparky back home, but could ferret out no details. But once at home, I headed out the front door, this time without Sparky, to see if I could approach the car from the southwest, on the 2nd Avenue sidewalk, without being observed. Finding the light too bright to remain covert, I reversed course and walked south down to Castro, and tried unsuccessfully to approach the car from the south on 22nd Street, and from the southeast on 2nd Avenue, before finally settling on an eastward approach towards "Skunk Corner", as I had already done. This time, though, no one stood at the corner. With growing confidence I carefully peered around the fence to finally spy on the car....

Oddly enough, the car was gone. It had vanished into the night, this time for good. I wonder what spooked them?
Back From The Brink?

Just too strange:
ISRAELI researchers who grew a sapling from a date seed found at the ancient fortress Masada said today the seed was about 2000 years old and may help restore a species of biblical trees.

Carbon dating confirmed that the seed - named Methuselah after the oldest person in the bible - was the oldest ever brought back to life, Sarah Sallon, a researcher at the Hadassah Medical Centre in Jerusalem, reported in the journal Science.

The seed came from the Judean date palm, a species that once flourished in the Jordan River Valley and has been extinct for centuries, Sallon said. It was one of a group discovered at Masada, a winter palace overlooking the Dead Sea built by King Herod in the 1st century BC.

The fortress was used by hundreds of Jewish insurgents in a revolt against Roman rule that erupted in 67 AD.

"It has survived and flourished," Ms Sallon said. Previous attempts to grow plants from ancient seeds failed after a few days.
Political Weasels, And Global Warming

Australian columnist Ross Gittins is disappointed with the new Treasury minister Wayne Swan:
I think I've stumbled on a new law of politics: the harder life becomes in this capitalist economy, the more our supposed leaders soft-soap us. The harsher it gets, the harder they try to persuade us we're living in a Sunday school where no one plays for keeps.

Take the carry-on about petrol prices. Neither side of politics is prepared to speak the obvious truth about them.

Instead we have them endlessly doing their I-feel-your-pain routines (which, of course, they don't because they're on high incomes and, in any case, have most of their travel costs picked up by the taxpayer).

...Consider this exchange between Wayne Swan and David Speers of Sky News.

Speers: So, more expensive petrol is a good way of getting people to stop driving as much?

Swan: You shouldn't be putting words into my mouth, David.

Speers: Well, let me ask you then, is it a good way of getting people to drive less?

Swan: Well, what we're going to do is put together our emissions trading scheme, we've said that it should be as broad as possible, we'll publish the green paper, there'll be a lot of data and discussion of all these issues. When they're out there on the public record, I'm happy to have a much more detailed discussion with you, David, about all of those issues.

So now we know.

The trouble with all this soft-soaping is that it encourages the ignorant notion it's the government's job to solve all our problems. It hurts - fix it!

People don't get on with facing up to their problems because they imagine it just a matter of waiting for governments to act. And then the pollies wonder why the punters increasingly regard them as liars and cheats. Why their cynical behaviour breeds cynicism.

Despite the politicians' obfuscation, the plain truth is obvious: one way or another, petrol prices have got nowhere to go but up.

Prices will probably continue to fall back occasionally, but there doesn't seem much doubt that global demand for oil will continue to outpace the global supply of oil.

And that's just the half of it. The thing I find most disillusioning about the Rudd Government's performance is its weak-kneed pretence that the latest rise in oil prices is some kind of hideous natural disaster, brought upon us by a terrible god inflicting death and destruction on the innocent.

This is not a brave government. What it lacks the courage to admit is that the price rises global market forces have been inflicting on us are merely a foretaste of the price rises the Government plans to impose on us through the emissions trading scheme it will introduce in 2010.

The basic principle of such schemes is brutally simple: they force up the prices of fossil fuels so as to discourage us from using them. That's what Swan was refusing to admit in that interview.
E. Goes To Camp

E. will spend most of this week camping near Marysville with VFW friends (a concept I can't even wrap my head around).