Friday, June 27, 2008

A Week Of Nuclear Winter....

Left: Here are the hourly concentrations of fine particulate matter (PM 2.5, meaning particulate matter below 2.5 microns in diameter) at Sacramento's T Street monitor. The new national 24-hour average PM2.5 standard (35 ug/m3) is also indicated (the pre-2006 standard was 65 ug/m3).

Nuclear winter continues here in the Sacramento Valley.

The orange tint everywhere during the daytime is disconcerting, but not wholly unwelcome (orange is my favorite color).

Most of the smoke is trapped in a haze layer above our heads. Notice how PM2.5 concentrations (the lung-damaging kinds of particles) reach their maxima at ground level during mid-afternoon in midtown Sacramento. That's because, as the mixing depth grows throughout the day (starting from near-zero at sunrise to more than a 1000 meters by midday) it snags some of that smoke and fumigates it downwards to the ground. At sunset, mixing depth reduces in size once again, and the fumigation process stops. Smoke deposits to the ground and other surfaces during the night, and steadily diminishes in concentration, but gets replenished again the next day from the haze layer aloft.

Life in the Sacramento Valley is steadily dropping in quality:
With dreams of going the distance in the fabled 100-mile trek from Squaw Valley to Auburn up in smoke, runners were taking the [Western States Endurance Run’s] cancellation in stride Thursday, Western States Endurance Run President Tim Twietmeyer said.
Texas Doctors Lash Out

Years of working with insurance companies have made doctors, once a dependable Republican constituency, very testy indeed:
AUSTIN — The main political arm of Texas physicians is withdrawing its endorsement of U.S. Sen. John Cornyn for re-election, a spokesman for the Texas Medical Association confirmed this afternoon.

Spokesman Steve Levine said the association, which represents 43,000 doctors and medical students, is furious that Mr. Cornyn helped block legislation that would delay a 10.6-percent cut in physicians’ Medicare fees.

“The Texas Medical Association Political Action Committee (TEXPAC) is outraged that you made the decision to follow the direction of the Bush Administration and voted to protect health insurance companies at the expense of America’s seniors, those with disabilities, and military families,” wrote El Paso physician Manuel Acosta, chairman of the medical association’s board, in a letter to Mr. Cornyn.

Dr. Roland Goertz of Waco, a member of the PAC’s board, said in an interview that Medicare reimbursements are too low, causing doctors to refuse new patients.

“Every one out there who’s a family doctor is going to have to re-think their participation in Medicare,” he said. “I hate to say it because it’s the most vulnerable population out there.”

Dr. Acosta told Mr. Cornyn, a Republican freshman who faces Democrat Rick Noriega this fall, that doctors will “face financial crisis” if the cuts take effect on Tuesday, as scheduled.

“There is talk, and then there is action,” he wrote. “We expect our elected officials to show leadership and do the right thing. Absent that, TEXPAC has rescinded our support of your candidacy.”
Why Camcorders Should Be Banned

No end of trouble:
Mini-Me has filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit against TMZ for running a clip of his sex tape on their website. He says that TMZ disregarded cease-and-desist letters sent both before and after the video showed up on the site.
Judicial Activism

By the Right:
WASHINGTON--In knocking down the District of Columbia's 32-year ban on handgun possession, the conservatives on the U.S. Supreme Court have shown again their willingness to abandon precedent in order to do whatever is necessary to further the agenda of the contemporary political right.

The court's five most conservative members have demonstrated that for all of Justice Antonin Scalia's talk about "originalism" as a coherent constitutional doctrine, the judicial right regularly succumbs to the temptation to legislate from the bench. They fall in line behind whatever fashions political conservatism is promoting.

Conservative justices claim that they defer to local authority. Not in this case. They insist that political questions should be decided by elected officials. Not in this case. They argue that they pay careful attention to the precise words of the Constitution. Not in this case.

...But these pragmatic judgments underestimate how radical this decision is in light of the operating precedents of the last 69 years. The United States and its gun owners have done perfectly well since 1939, when an earlier Supreme Court interpreted the Second Amendment as implying a collective right to bear arms, but not an individual right.

Here is what the Second Amendment says: "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

Thursday's narrow majority spent the first 54 pages of its decision, written by Scalia, trying to show that even though the framers inserted 13 important words in front of the assertion of a right to bear arms, those words were essentially meaningless. Does that reflect an honest attempt to determine the "original" intention of the Constitution's framers?

In fact, it was the court's four more liberal justices who favored judicial modesty, deference to democratic decisions, empowerment of local officials and care in examining the Constitution's actual text and the history behind it.

It was telling that while Scalia argued the Constitution does not permit "the absolute prohibition of handguns held and used for self-defense in the home"--note that the Second Amendment says nothing about "self-defense in the home"--it was Justice John Paul Stevens in dissent who called for judicial restraint. He asked his conservative colleagues where they were able to find an expansive and absolute right for gun possession.
Introducing Bill The Carpenter

Bill the Carpenter came over to the house today, to look at repairing the railing out front, and try to correct a few things unattended to in 2006 by Adam (helpfully labeled by E. as 'Psycho I').

Of course, Joe The Plumber has aided me too, since 2001, with various house projects (helpfully labeled by E. as 'Psycho II').

I hope Bill and E. get along, and he doesn't get labeled by E. as 'Psycho III', but unless he can walk on water, that may be a fruitless wish.

In any event, it will be nice to get the railing fixed.
California Tourism Ads

Link to ads.

I was dumbfounded to read this in the Sacramento Bee (highlighted in bold):
On millions of screens, it's former movie actor and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger pitching the tourist attractions and lifestyles of California.

"Nandemo Alifornia," Schwarzenegger says in Japanese in the new ads running on network TV in Tokyo and national cable channels. It translates as "California has it all."

The two ads, which began appearing Friday in the nation of 128 million people, are the first ever in Japan by the California Travel and Tourism Commission. They run through June 29, part of a $5.1 million campaign in the country.
The first ads ever? Is this a joke? What does the California Travel and Tourism Commission do if its hasn't been promoting California tourism, in Japan, using television, since at least the 1950's? Please! The only excuse for this oversight would be if it was a new office, or if it didn't have a budget.

The office was apparently formed in 1998 as a partner with the California Division of Tourism. So it's not a state agency as such, but a joint public/private non-profit 501(c)6 organization.

So, fairly-new office appears to be the explanation. But it would seem quite odd if it had never occurred to anyone until now to promote California tourism in Japan.
We Won! We Won!

E. went to go see the Oakland A.'s defeat the Philadelphia Phillies 5-0 in Oakland on Thursday.
High Wire

Passing the former Pamela Hayes Dance Studio while walking Sparky Thursday night, I chanced to look up at the utility line that ran from the building, through the canopy of a tree, to a utility pole. Skittering along the thin cable was a tiny mouse, making its way from building to tree.

Gee, I didn't realize that circus auditions were this week!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Temptation Proved Too Much

My general rule is to never, ever use anything but my real name on the Internet - it keeps you honest that way - but I broke the rule today, posting here as "Perv With A Dog".
Finding Earthlike Soil Mineralogy

In the Martian polar regions:
"This soil appears to be a close analog to surface soils found in the upper dry valleys in Antarctica," Kouvanes said. "The alkalinity of the soil at this location is definitely striking. At this specific location, one-inch into the surface layer, the soil is very basic, with a pH of between eight and nine. We also found a variety of components of salts that we haven't had time to analyze and identify yet, but that include magnesium, sodium, potassium and chloride."

"This is more evidence for water because salts are there. We also found a reasonable number of nutrients, or chemicals needed by life as we know it," Kounaves said. "Over time, I've come to the conclusion that the amazing thing about Mars is not that it's an alien world, but that in many aspects, like mineralogy, it's very much like Earth."
Lease Signed Already?

Steve and Jan move fast!
Looking For The Monsoon

For Phoenix, the forecasts suggest an uptick in relative humidity on Sunday. That might trigger some thunderstorms in the mountains…..
If They Can't Stand To Watch It, Why Should We?

(via Digby) CBS News Chief Foreign Correspondent Lara Logan:
Stewart: Do you watch the news that we’re watching?

Logan: No

Stewart: …in the United States? Do you see what we’re hearing about the war? So, we might actually know everything?

Logan: If I were to watch the news that you hear in the United States—I’d just blow my brains out because it would drive me nuts.
Fuel Efficiency Q & A

From Matthew Yglesias:
Q.:....But how are hybrids supposed to help us out of the global warming/foreign oil dependence trap when they are less efficient than a 24 year old non-hybrid beater? And why not just make cars like the aforesaid beater, with a hybrid engine in them?

A.:....Meanwhile, it's important to remember that for the short-run the most important thing isn't to develop futuristic new low-emissions vehicles. The low hanging fruit is to replace the very least efficient vehicles with more efficient ones. Replacing an SUV with a standard sedan does more to cut consumption than does replacing a sedan with a hybrid. Even replacing an SUV with a minivan brings about substantial reductions.
Hard Times Hit GM

Everything going wrong this year:
DETROIT (Reuters) - Shares of General Motors Corp hit their lowest level since 1955 and dragged down the auto sector on Thursday after Goldman Sachs cut the struggling U.S. industry's largest manufacturer to a "sell" rating and warned it would have to raise capital.

The panicky slide in GM shares capped a period of growing concern about liquidity risks to U.S. automakers and suppliers from a domestic auto market reeling from record gas prices and the impact of a housing slump and tighter credit.

The Goldman Sachs warning, including the unusual "sell" call on the U.S. auto industry's largest player after a period of sharp stock price declines just ahead of the close of the second quarter, prompted selling across the sector.
Disorienting Double-Take On North Korea

This has been in the works for awhile...:
WASHINGTON (AP) - President Bush said Thursday he will lift key trade sanctions against North Korea and remove it from the U.S. terrorism blacklist, a remarkable turnaround in policy toward the communist regime he once branded as part of an "axis of evil."
...but it will be disconcerting to those (e.g., John Bolton) who invested a lot of energy condemning the Clinton Administration for its 1994 deal with North Korea:
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, expressed her “profound disappointment” over the decision, while Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.), the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, also expressed his outrage.

“Lifting sanctions and removing North Korea from the list of state sponsors of terrorism flies in the face of history and rewards its brutal dictator for shallow gestures,” said Hoekstra, who has not shied away from criticizing the White House in recent years.

“Just as the Clinton administration was fooled by the Kim Jong-Il regime, time will soon tell if the Bush administration will fall for the same bait,” he added.
Reminds me of Winston Smith's experiences, in George Orwell's "1984":
He vaguely remembered that the Area where he lived which was now called Airstrip One was once called England though London had always been called London. And there were memories of a time when there was no war, when the first bomb had fallen and his family had taken shelter in a cellar.

Oceania was at war with Eurasia now, but just four years ago, these two had formed an alliance against Eastasia. Winston remembered this clearly, but it made no difference what he or any other individual remembered, for the Party said that Eurasia had always been the Enemy and what the Party said was the Truth. This, thought Winston, was the most frightening aspect of the party regime-that it could obliterate memory, turn lies into Truth and alter the Past. The Party slogan was “Who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past.”

This was where “doublethink” came into play, minds were trained to hold contradictory positions simultaneously and unquestioningly- for example you had to believe at one and the same time that Democracy was impossible and that the Party was the guardian of democracy. Winston could remember a time when the Party did not rule, when Big Brother had not become all-powerful; but according to the Party they had always existed and this lie was repeated ad infinitum until it “became” the truth. This, Winston thought was a far more terrible weapon in the hands of the Party than torture or execution.
Getting The Heave-Ho

Steve and Jan Isaacson were notified yesterday by their landlord that they must vacate their premises by the end of August for a house remodel. So, they are in the market for a nice house or duplex with a dog-friendly yard for $1,500.00 per month or less, presumably as close to Davis as they can manage. Direct suggestions to
The Perils Of Large Science Textbooks

From a work-related E-Mail correspondence regarding a very large graduate-level textbook named "Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics" by John Seinfeld & Spyros Pandis):
F.: I returned your copy (after a long time, for which I apologize).

M.: Actually, now I’m baffled. I borrowed what I thought was my copy from W., and so now I have two copies. But I know I have just one book.

F.: How interesting. I'm actually returning your copy now because another showed up in my office, so I no longer need this one.

M.: The volume is so large it contains within itself the genetic information for its own propagation.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Happy Birthday, Stacey!

Black Angus time!
Dog-Whistle Politics

I missed making this interpretation of Rove's recent remarks about Obama. I thought Rove had stumbled, by assuming that most people hang out at country clubs. Instead, this fellow suggests something far more sinister:
The key to Rove's exposition about Obama at the country club isn't the silliness of placing an African-American at a country club because of the fact that so many country clubs largely or completely or just historically exclude African-Americans. That's the way its been picked up by most bloggers and the media, and its obvious, but its not the importance of the comment, and I don't believe Rove's juxtaposition of the African-American Obama at a country club was just a clumsy attempt to paint Obama as a type of elitist contrary to his background.

The key to the statement is that in the image he is with "a beautiful date." Not Michelle Obama or, in the abstract, his wife, i.e. a wife like Michelle Obama. When you think of a "beautiful date" specifically at a country club, do you picture an African-American woman? Would Rove's target audience? Or do you picture him there, a black man, smoking a cigarette indoors at a country club, with a white woman on his arm?

When I thought of this, I got a chill. When you think of Obama's vulnerability, I think the primaries showed that race remains a real and very serious obstacle, particularly with white Americans over 50. When you think of where we are with racism in this country, I think its a pretty safe bet that the final freak-out factor to overcome may be black men dating white women, in particular, one's daughter. If I were a completely amoral Republican operative, I'd try to find some white women that Obama dated before Michelle and get them into the public's stream of consciousness anyway I could. Its a tactic so vile I don't even like speculating about it, but if you want to be ready for the worst, I think Rove just tipped his hand at where they plan to go.
Playing Games

This one is a version of 'Taboo':
The White House in December refused to accept the Environmental Protection Agency’s conclusion that greenhouse gases are pollutants that must be controlled, telling agency officials that an e-mail message containing the document would not be opened, senior E.P.A. officials said last week.

The document, which ended up in e-mail limbo, without official status, was the E.P.A.’s answer to a 2007 Supreme Court ruling that required it to determine whether greenhouse gases represent a danger to health or the environment, the officials said.
Presidential Memorials

This torrent is bound to affect "the city's governance", but like I say, 'bring it on':
From the Department of Damned-With-Faint-Praise, a group going by the regal-sounding name of the Presidential Memorial Commission of San Francisco is planning to ask voters here to change the name of a prize-winning water treatment plant on the shoreline to the George W. Bush Sewage Plant.

The plan, naturally hatched in a bar, would place a vote on the November ballot to provide “an appropriate honor for a truly unique president.”

...“Most politicians tend to be narcissistic and egomaniacs,” said Brian McConnell, an organizer who regularly suits up as Uncle Sam to solicit signatures. “So it is important for satirists to help define their history rather than letting them define their own history.”

Not surprisingly, those Republicans in a city that voted 83 percent Democratic in 2004 are not thrilled with the idea. Howard Epstein, chairman of the ever-outnumbered San Francisco Republican Party, called the initiative “an abuse of process.”

“You got a bunch of guys drunk who came up with an idea,” Mr. Epstein said, “and want to put on the ballot as a big joke without regard to the city’s governance or cost.”

The renaming would take effect on Jan. 20, when the new president is sworn in. And regardless of the measure’s outcome, supporters plan to commemorate the inaugural with a synchronized flush of hundreds of thousands of San Francisco toilets, an action that would send a flood of water toward the plant, now called the Oceanside Water Pollution Control Plant.

Too much static in the cerebral cortex:
A council has banned the term "brainstorming" - and replaced it with "thought showers".

Officials Tunbridge Wells Borough Council in Kent feared the phrase might offend epileptics or the mentally ill.

...But Margaret Thomas, of the National Society for Epilepsy, said: "Brainstorming is a clear and descriptive phrase.

"Alternatives such as "thought shower" or "blue-sky thinking" are ambiguous to say the least.
Disgruntled Utah Republicans Go Conservative

District 3 (Provo & environs) incumbent Rep. Chris Cannon defeated by Jason Chaffetz in low-turnout primary.

Sounds like a similar theme to California's District 4's recent primary: Very conservative district, asked to choose between an experienced hand (Doug Ose) and an outsider firebrand (Tom McClintock), chooses the outsider firebrand.

The analogy isn't exact (the voter turnouts were different, for example), but it's close....
Pheonix Vaughn At The Red Fern

Nice review for "A Piece Of My Heart".
BLUE CHEER - Summer Time Blues (1968)

Bruce recommends "Summertime Blues", featuring Auburn resident Leigh Stephens. According to Rolling Stone:
This power trio's cover of Eddie Cochran's classic was their only hit, sometimes called the first heavy-metal record. It's a showcase for the massive roar of Leigh Stephens' guitar, so fuzzed-up it scrapes like steel wool, dragging the rockabilly riff through the dust.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

PM2.5 Measurements At Sacramento T Street

Left: Monday evening sunset was the color of my car.

The smoke plume from the fire between Napa and Fairfield (first seen by myself while driving to Davis Saturday evening, 6/21, about 7 p.m.) is a hot air pollution topic here in Sacramento.

Left: Here are the hourly concentrations of fine particulate matter (PM 2.5, meaning particulate matter below 2.5 microns in diameter) at Sacramento's T Street monitor. The new national 24-hour average PM2.5 standard (35 ug/m3) is also indicated (the pre-2006 standard was 65 ug/m3).
Octopus Camouflage

Leaping Across The Wide Pacific

The Rogues are a great band - I hope this is a wise move:
ACTRESS-turned-singer-turned TV host Natalie Bassingthwaighte has quit Melbourne band the Rogue Traders and will focus her energy on her solo career.

The former Neighbours star moved to Los Angeles last month to focus on a movie career and a solo album.
Meet The New Neighbors

A motorcyclist named Paul, who works at UCD Medical Center, just moved into one of the apartments on my east side.

On my west side, a rather flinty fellow named Kevin introduced himself and asked to borrow a ladder. We've been neighbors for about a year-and-a-half, and long past the time we should have introduced ourselves to each other.
The Excitable Trash-Picker

She came careening down the alley on her custom bike: "You won't believe it, but there is a skunk over there!" She pointed a flashlight down the alley towards the corner I had already dubbed as Skunk Corner and said "I can see his beady little eyes! You don't want your little dog mixing with that animal!"

Peering uncertainly into the gloom I said, "I believe you. I've seen a skunk down this way before." Pointing down 22nd Street instead of the alley, I said, "We'll go this way instead!"
Cheap Gasoline! Cheap Gasoline!

But you have to drive to the Mexican border to get it (first heard about this from Maria Hinojosa on NPR):
SANTEE, Calif. -- As gasoline prices rise ever higher, some drivers have discovered an alternative to runaway fuel inflation in the U.S.: subsidized gas just minutes away in Mexico.

Gasoline is selling for six pesos per liter across the border in Tijuana, which works out to about $2.50 a gallon, way cheaper than gas prices approaching $5 a gallon in San Diego County. Diesel fuel is cheaper still -- $2.19 a gallon.
Karina's "Secret Garden" Page

Including a picture of yours truly looking like he swallowed a shoe.
Renter Nightmare

Fallout from the subprime crisis:
The California Apartment Association estimates that a fourth of foreclosed single-family homes are occupied by renters.

Nicolette DeMartino, who has rented a home in Corona for the past three months, says she recently received notice that the home had been sold in a foreclosure auction. She has 10 days to move, but finding another rental on short notice is proving difficult.

Real estate agents who specialize in marketing foreclosed houses for banks say, frequently, tenants are shocked to learn their leases can be canceled and their lives disrupted even though they have dutifully paid their rent.

Nor is it always certain that tenants in a foreclosed property will get back their security deposits. Their chances are best if the house was leased through a property management company that retains the money in a trust account, but some management companies allow deposits to be kept by landlords, who may not be willing or financially able to return them.

"A great number of owners of property simply do not let their renters know they are in (default on their mortgages). They will continue to collect rent and also bring in new renters," said Darrell Moore, deputy director of Inland Counties Legal Services.

Moore said each week he sees tenants arrive in court for an eviction trial who are desperate and in tears, hoping to contest evictions. He said generally the law is on the side of the lenders who have given them 30 days notice to pack and leave.

..."You feel almost robbed in a sense," said Edward Rivera, 33. Rivera said he, his pregnant wife and two children must soon find a new home if their landlord fails to get a loan modification on the five-bedroom house they are renting for $2,250 a month in Corona.

Rivera said he and his wife leased their home through a property manager. The owner, who had just moved out of the house, would stop by occasionally to make renovations and they would share a beer, Rivera said. "We didn't know anything was wrong," he said.

But that changed in April when two real estate agents dropped by and, assuming that Rivera was the homeowner, offered to help him sell his house that they said was in default. Rivera said he later learned the owner was five months behind on his mortgage payments and trying to restructure his loan.

Landlords in default on their mortgages tend to entice tenants with very low rents and sometimes advertise that they will accept applicants with poor credit, said Pete Nyiri, owner of Top Producers Realty in Corona.

Some tenants also are being scammed by people who take a deposit and first month's rent on an empty house in foreclosure that they don't even own, he added.

...Paula Schnurr, 60, said after the three-bedroom house her family rented in Corona was foreclosed on early this year, she learned that the owner never made a mortgage payment although they had been paying rent of $1,875 a month since June 2007.

She said after a struggle she got back her deposit and found another house to rent. But she said she worries that the ordeal could be repeated.

"It is hard to trust people any more," she said.

Monday, June 23, 2008

George Carlin, And The First Gulf War

Transfixed By Kylie's "X" Tour Videos

Kylie Minogue's "X" Tour rumbles through Europe this summer, and some of the fan videos on YouTube are arresting! Kylie's doing a lot of new material - some I like, much I don't - but her shows are more cutting-edge than they've ever been. With a huge budget and the collaborative efforts of the world's best fashion designers and musicians, Kylie's pushing the envelope of the live pop music show!

Kylie X 2008 Antwerpen - Entrée Speakerphone

Opening of her show, with state of the art visual display.

Kylie X Tour 2008 Frankfurt 10.05.08 - Shocked (live)

Apparently following the suggestion of Gwen Stefani's "Hollaback Girl", Kylie does an entire sequence of songs (e.g., "Shocked") based on the motif of American football. American football. And the folks in Europe can't get enough. This is very strange indeed.

Like a Drug (Live in Paris) - Kylie Minogue

My favorite! This is just glorious! The best entrance she's ever made to the best song on the "X" album!
RIP, George Carlin

Will be missed!
They'll Try What They Can Do To Bring It About

Speed-dialing Osama as we speak:
FRESNO, Calif. (AP) - John McCain distanced himself Monday from a top adviser who said another terrorist attack on U.S. soil this election year would benefit the Republican presidential candidate. Barack Obama's campaign called the comment a "complete disgrace."

Charlie Black, an adviser already in the spotlight for his past lobbying work, is quoted in the upcoming July 7 edition of Fortune magazine as saying such an attack "certainly would be a big advantage to him." Black said Monday he regretted the comment.
Terrible Sacramento Air Quality

Left: Downtown Sacramento, about 6:30 p.m. Sunday June 22nd, as seen from the Highway 50 bridge over the Sacramento River.

Sacramento and vicinity is directly downwind of the big fire in the hills between Napa and Fairfield.

Hmmm. The fire isn't all that far from the Silverado Country Club, which I visited in 2006, but burning away from, not towards, it.
Pool Party At Norma-Jean's House

Left: Aquatic rejuvenation.

Left: Quick reflexes on Team NJ regarding "Taboo".
"The Secret Garden" - Sunday

Left: Jabriel Shelton, Emily Jo Seminoff, Richard Lui, Aaron Rothleder, Karina Summers, Linnea Lampinen, Norma-Jean Russell, and Darryl Strohl.
Left: Dr. Neville Craven (Rick Eldredge), Mary Lennox (Kaylynn Rothleder), and Darryl Strohl.

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

Left: Norma-Jean Russell, Darryl Strohl, and Mary Lennox (Kaylynn Rothleder).

Left: Norma-Jean Russell and Caitlin Kiley.

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

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

Left: Dickon (Joshua Smith), Martha (Emily Jo Seminoff), Mary Lennox (Kaylynn Rothleder), Colin Craven (Christian Salmon, obscured), and Ben Weatherstaff (Richard Lui).

Left: The tantrum scene. Mrs. Winthrop (Bridget Maguire), Dr. Neville Craven (Rick Eldredge), Mary Lennox (Kaylynn Rothleder), Mrs. Medlock (Dannette Vassar), and Fakir (Jabriel Shelton).

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

Left: The tantrum scene. Dr. Neville Craven (Rick Eldredge), Mary Lennox (Kaylynn Rothleder), Mrs. Winthrop (Bridget Maguire), Fakir (Jabriel Shelton), and Ayah (Anne Marie Pringle).
Errol Morris' "The Fog Of War"

I watched this two weeks ago, but didn't blog about it immediately, because I felt at some level that Robert McNamara was being deeply dishonest about his central role in the Vietnam War and I wanted to think about why.

He never spoke up about his disillusionment with the Vietnamese War at the time. Why? His voice would have been vastly influential at the time. Well, because Lyndon Johnson gave him a Presidential Medal Of Freedom. It's a little more complicated than that, of course, but not much more. He felt it was his duty to keep quiet. LBJ enforced that.

The scene of the movie where McNamara is awarded the medal is amazing. The expression of LBJ is utterly fascinating: LBJ is *watching* McNamara with cobra-like intensity. Just fascinating.

McNamara's duty to his country was to talk. Instead, he remained loyal to his commander-in-chief.

This YouTube clip (of a different scene) describes how the American leadership utterly misread the motives of their Vietnamese opponents, much like the Bush Administration does today with their Iraqi opponents.

McNamara's dishonesty is directly addressed in this Charlie Rose episode.
Karl Rove Tries A Mind Meld With The Magic Negro

And unlike Spock, Rove projects just his own static:
ABC News' Christianne Klein reports that at a breakfast with Republican insiders at the Capitol Hill Club this morning, former White House senior aide Karl Rove referred to Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, as "coolly arrogant."

"Even if you never met him, you know this guy," Rove said, per Christianne Klein. "He's the guy at the country club with the beautiful date, holding a martini and a cigarette that stands against the wall and makes snide comments about everyone who passes by."
Ain't No Future In Yo' Scrapin'

So, how's life now on Second Avenue with the traffic calming speed lumps (defined below) that were installed by the City of Sacramento last year?:
Speed Lumps – Asphalt mounds, parabolic in shape, covering 12 feet of street with a height between 3 ¼ and 3 ¾ inches. The center mound or lump, has a width of 5 ½ feet to accommodate the wheelbase of fire trucks and buses. The lumps adjacent to the center lump vary in width to accommodate the street width. Depending on the street width, a 5 ½ foot lump may be placed in each travel lane. First testing of speed lumps in Sacramento was done in February 2000. Speed lumps have been approved by the Fire Department for use on emergency response routes and by Sacramento Regional Transit for use on bus routes.
For me, it's been pretty nice, because there are no longer the high speed chases down the street that would sometimes alarm Sparky and me on our nightly walks. And since one set of speed lumps is right in front of my house, the cars slow down markedly there, and the drivers focus with particular intensity on the pavement (and don't stare, for example, at the peeling paint on the house).

Of course, there are drawbacks. This morning I watched a low rider approach the speed lumps and slow way, way down. A profound bass that could be heard a quarter mile away was bumping on the stereo. It was that classic tune, MC Breed and DFC's "Ain't No Future In Yo' Frontin":
Cruel to the rules of the world
Live my life raw, cause I never liked the law
Wear top tens, on my ass use jeans
Sellin big 8ths and tit-for-tat to the fiends
Clock much dollars, but I never break a sweat
Time to move out, my posse sayin (bet)
You got my back, and I got yours
What time is it? Hm, Tear down the doors

There ain't no future in your frontin
Never was, cuz
There ain't no future in your frontin
Even though the driver slowed down to one mile per hour, or less, he made it over the speed lumps only with much metallic screeching and scraping.

What looks to me like progress looks to others like anything but.
Amusing Animals This Weekend

Sparky, for his tunnel-minded failure to follow my lead to take a road less-traveled on the nightly walk Saturday night.

Norma-Jean's amusing Pomeranians, Gigi and Butterscotch.

The surreptitious cat who tried to squeak past me and avoid all detection as I watered plants last night (but I nevertheless noticed).

The baby possum squeaking in fear under E.'s car as Sparky growled at it last night.

But mostly the family of five scrub jays, two female and three male, who were poking amongst the dead and dessicated foxtails in my driveway. The sun had just set, and the jays were panting with the heat, but they were nevertheless finding *something* yummy to eat there. I looked where they were poking but saw only ants, whom I figured were too small to be worth bothering with even for jays. Maybe there was something else there....

Sunday, June 22, 2008

"The Secret Garden" - Saturday

Left: Kaylynn Rothleder as Mary Lennox

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

Left: Backstage before final scene. Aaron Rothleder, Joshua Smith, and Norma-Jean Russell prepare the floral display on the Secret Garden gates.

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

Left: Andrew Lampinen, Maya Rothman, Linnea Lampinen, Aaron Rothleder, and Richard Lui as Ben Weatherstaff.

Left: Colin Craven (Christian Salmon) and Archibald Craven (Bret McLaughlin).

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

Left: "Come Spirit, Come Charm". Scott Sablan, Caitlin Kiley, Maya Rothman, Karina Summers, Bridget Maguire, Andrew Lampinen, Anne Marie Pringle, Christian Salmon, Darryl Strohl, Norma-Jean Russell, and Emily Jo Seminoff.

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

Left: "Fine White Horse" - Mary Lennox (Kaylynn Rothleder) and Emily Jo Seminoff.

Left: "Fine White Horse" - Emily Jo Seminoff and Mary Lennox (Kaylynn Rothleder).

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

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

Left: In the stage right wing, Lily (Caitlin Kiley) leads the little servant girls in the "A Little Bit Earth" charades and dance.

Left: Karina Summers and Scott Sablan.

Courtesy of Gabe (and many others). Very inspiring!