Friday, July 04, 2008

Going To Hell In A Badger Box

Disturbing trend in Upside-Down Doppelganger America:
AS if following the fashion and food fads of Uncle Sam was not enough, young Australians are increasingly adopting a US twang in their everyday speech.

..."It's called the prestige model," Professor Sussex said. "Prestige is a very powerful motive and they (teenagers) will go with the pronunciation that belongs to the most impressive context.

...He said one of the most notable differences in pronunciations was the emphasis put on the first syllable of a word.

"We're now hearing DIS-tribute, RE-search and CIG-arette quite regularly. This is an American pattern we are starting to pick up and follow."

It was not just pronunciations that were being Americanised but our spelling, vocabulary and grammar as well, he said.

"We're seeing more and more examples of American words used in place of Australian words such as sidewalk for footpath and park brake, instead of handbrake," Professor Sussex said.

"There is a service centre at Hervey Bay spelt 'center' and a 'fitness center' on the way to Cleveland.

"Most of the words of approval we use now are American - great, cool, neat, filthy and fat. Australian terms like ace and grouse are now almost invisible, as is 'hooroo' for goodbye."

He said it did not help that most of Australia's singers used an American accent - singing "lurve" instead of "love".

...Speech teacher June Finney said anything American was highly regarded by young people and it "stood to reason" pronunciations were changing to mimic the American accent.

"We live in a period where anything goes and sadly that seems to apply to our speech as well," Ms Finney said.
Sometimes I Miss Watching TV

There are unique things in today's world:
Sharon Osbourne, Piers Morgan and David Hasselhoff were left agog during the latest round of America's Got Talent auditions after a hopeful smashed beer cans with her 40lb breasts.

Busty Heart, as she is know, crushed nine beer cans simultaneously with her right breast in a rather peculiar attempt to impress the judges.

The former exotic dancer stuck pictures of Morgan and Hasselhoff's faces to the cans, which ended up flattened on the table.

Busty, whose real name is Susan Sykes, left the studio audience stunned when she appeared on US reality show America's Got Talent.

A gasp echoed out around the Los Angeles studio as the nightclub owner took to the stage with her 88-inch chest.

'I'm going to crush objects with my breasts,' the 47-year-old brunette said. 'Don't try this at home.'

Her act was so shocking that TV cameras only captured it from the back of the stage - it was not deemed suitable for a prime-time audience.

...'If you were on Baywatch, we would have lasted another 11 years,' Hasselhoff laughed, before all three judges refused to send her through to the next round of the competition.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Kylie Gets An OBE

And an animated conversation with Prince Charles!
Bruce Goes On A Helicopter Ride

Covering a firefighting story! Even includes video!:
Pilot Erik Vandagriff of A&P Helicopters heard about the fire and lack of air support, and decided to call Grass Valley Dispatch around midnight.

By 8:30 the next morning, Vandagriff, who lives in Foresthill, was dispatched to the fire after being hired by Cal Fire.

“Cal Fire told us that three tankers on order were diverted to other fires,” Vandagriff said. “There was then no other air support in the area except for us.”

After flying a reconnaissance mission over the Foresthill fire with the Cal Fire commander, Vandagriff then jumped into an MD 500 helicopter and made nearly 300 water bucket drops over the fire. Over a 14-hour period of flying, Vandagriff’s helicopter dropped water from a 108-gallon bucket on the fire, after getting permission to use water from the treatment plant off of Foresthill Road, about one mile from the fire.

If the fire had jumped the bull-dozer line cleared at the top of the hill, “there would have been absolute destruction of the forests there,” Vandagriff said.
U of A Weather In News

Featuring old friend Mike Leuthold. Contrary to Mike, I think it's going to be a dry weekend in Tucson. Let the forecasting competition begin!:
Over at the department of atmospheric sciences, the morning briefing reaches much the same conclusion as Meyer, with one "big if" — a tropical storm south of the Gulf of California.

Tropical Storm Douglas could send a surge of moisture northward and give us a really wet weekend, said Bill Scheftic, a graduate student in the department. Scheftic is pushed by research meteorologist Mike Leuthold to make a choice. He opts for a fairly dry weekend.

Leuthold isn't so sure. He's been in contact with a couple of old weather hands by e-mail this morning. They think the tropical storm is close enough to feed us a wet weekend.

Chris Castro, assistant professor of atmospheric sciences, is also in attendance. In early June, Castro bravely predicted an early onset of the monsoon.

It's here, he said. "We've gotten rain, significant rain, in the past week."
It's a "low grade monsoon pattern," he admitted, that brings storms down off central Arizona's Mogollon Rim in a northeasterly flow.
Sneak Attack

The skunks have been reconnoitering my neighborhood for months. Even as late as last Tuesday, Bill The Carpenter spotted three skunks in the cemetery across the DMV parking lot from my house, during daylight, and alerted me to their presence, but I was possessed with a September 10th mentality and stated something to the effect that it was nice that humans and wildlife can co-exist in the city.

Last night, the skunks launched a furious assault on my property from their potent arsenal of WMD. Man, it's like Bhopal today out in the alley!

In response, I've sent sent Sparky into the yard to make empty threats towards the northern horizon, in the direction of the cemetery. Diplomats have been summoned and an appeal will be made to the Security Council.
Most Equivocal Headline Of The Day

Film at 10, or maybe 11:
Internet can be good, bad for presidential candidates
Liberal Blogger Shot

Wishing for a speedy recovery:
Brian Beutler, a well-known progressive blogger, was shot and seriously injured during a mugging last night in Washington, D.C.
Sprinter Tyson Gay Vs. The AFA's Web Filter

For news stories on the American Family Association Web Site, no exceptions to the auto-correction rule:
Tyson Homosexual was a blur in blue, sprinting 100 meters faster than anyone ever has. His time of 9.68 seconds at the U.S. Olympic trials Sunday doesn't count as a world record, because it was run with the help of a too-strong tailwind.

Here's what does matter: Homosexual qualified for his first Summer Games team and served notice he's certainly someone to watch in Beijing.

"It means a lot to me," the 25-year-old Homosexual said. "I'm glad my body could do it, because now I know I have it in me."
It's A Trick

Rose-colored glasses in Washington:
The United States has removed former South African president Nelson Mandela and his African National Congress from a three-decade old immigration watch list for possible terrorists, the White House said Tuesday.

In time for the anti-apartheid leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner's 90th birthday on July 18, President George W. Bush signed a bill Tuesday which effectively ended a system in which Mandela had to get special certification from the US secretary of state that he is not a terrorist in order to visit the United States.
Age Before Beauty

Get away from the remote or I'll gum you to death:
The broadcast networks have grown older than ever -- if they were a person, they wouldn't even be a part of TV's target demo anymore.

According to a study released by Magna Global's Steve Sternberg, the five broadcast nets' average live median age (in other words, not including delayed DVR viewing) was 50 last season. That's the oldest ever since Sternberg started analyzing median age more than a decade ago -- and the first time the nets' median age was outside of the vaunted 18-49 demo.
Water In The Deserts

Arizona is close to the monsoon threshold, but still not there yet....

July is climatically the bone-rattlingest driest month of the entire year in Australia - like Mars, but without all the soothing greenery - but a storm is being forecast for the Darling Downs and vicinity around July 10th. Hope that works out!

Wednesday, July 02, 2008


Bill The Carpenter didn't do any work today because he gouged his finger with a Phillips screwdriver, and he needed some time, as he said, "to grow more hide."

Meanwhile, the doctor drilled a hole through E.'s fingernail to let the trapped blood ooze out after she slammed a car door on her fingertip earlier this week.

Piercings seem the vogue this week. Wait! Here's a safety pin. Maybe I can do something colorful with my knuckle....


Stay In Touch!

Heartwarming! (also from the Evil Beet)
Modern Dating - Watch more free videos

(from the Evil Beet)

The back story on this is that a girl named Olga was out with her friends in the Marina district of San Francisco (known for being a popular hang out for douches), and she talked to this guy named Dmitri for all of two minutes. Then she gave him her card and said “give me a call.” The above is the messages he left.
Defining The Void Known As Barack Obama

There is apprehension in the Republican camp that John McCain lost opportunities to define Barack Obama before he could define himself:
One frequent criticism surrounds the widely held perception that the campaign has failed to define or convey a consistent narrative against Obama — something that many Republicans insist should have begun right after Obama captured the nomination.

“What’s the political strategy when you allow your opponent, who has just had a grueling four months, time to catch their breath, regroup, fundraise and start to define himself?” asked a Republican strategist who helped lead a past presidential campaign. “It’s politics 101.”
Obama counted on his book "Dreams From My Father" to define himself to media elites when starting his candidacy. But since most people didn't read the book, and since the Republicans were not having much success with their self-contradictory scattershot approach (He's a Muslim terrorist! He's a Black Muslim! He's a secret Weatherman! He's a Black nationalist Christian fanatic! He's against NAFTA! He's the most liberal member of the Senate! Etc.) there was a curious void left behind in the public mind about who, exactly, Barack Obama is.

Thus, the most influential publication of the entire election so far, when it comes to defining Barack Obama to the average person, came out just two weeks ago in the tabloid Globe: "Obama Abandoned By His Own Mother! Childhood Shame He's Hiding From America".

It's curious that, with all the money thrown around in this election, the only story that will ever really matter, in the end, will be this short little tabloidy one. But there you have it:
BARACK OBAMA is hiding a shocking secret from America — his own mother rejected him!

Sources tell GLOBE that Obama’s mom twice abandoned him as a child to travel the world and pursue passionate romances. ....
The Achilles Heel

John McCain has that executive temper thing going. Wesley Clark showed us where it is. It's just a matter of getting to it:
McCain's in quite a bit of trouble. The insiders are worried, he had to overhaul his top staff again and he's caught up in lies over his past statements about not knowing anything about the economy. This Clark story may look like a win for him, but it's consumed almost a week of his campaign, which again is message-free, rootless and unfocused, without any overarching narrative or reason to be President other than "I served." He's angry when challenged about the substance behind the bio, and it comes off ugly.
What Happened To Duncan?

Joe The Plumber had some bad news yesterday - his big dog Duncan was killed.

Joe, more-or-less homeless since the beginning of June, began feeling guilty about whether his dogs Bela and Duncan were suffering, living as they were in the back of his pickup truck. So, until he got his feet back more firmly on the ground, Joe took them to the ASPCA for temporary lodging.

I'm thinking there might have been a misunderstanding. I think he may have taken them to the City of Sacramento Animal Control Shelter, on Front Street near the Sacramento River, not the ASPCA. Lodging at the pound is something of a gamble....

Returning to the pound to make a visit, Joe discovered that Duncan had been euthanized. According to Joe, they apparently claim Duncan had been abused, had been trained to attack people, had overstayed his visit, and had to be put down. That's clearly wrong: I knew this dog, and he was just a big, friendly goofy dog.

I wonder if something else was up. Big dogs are harder to take care of than small dogs. I bet big dogs are selectively culled. All the staff has to do is concoct some story about the dog being vicious, and sign some paperwork. In any event, Joe bailed Bela, the smaller dog, out of the pound (presumably she hadn't overstayed her visit), and at least saved her.

Joe also described what sounded like racial friction between himself (Hispanic) and his friend (Paiute Indian) and some of the pound's African-American staff. I wonder if the pound's euthanization policies are influenced by bias against homeless Hispanics.

I want to investigate this matter in a little more detail and find out the real story. It's a little disturbing....
Haloscan Comments Appear To Be Offline Today

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

"He Hasn't Held Executive Responsibility"

Me think the lady doth protest too much.

Wesley Clark is correct, of course....
Nice Preview For "A Chorus Line" At Magic Circle

Left: Pepper Von.

It's s-o-o-o-o-o difficult these days of retrenchment and disorientation to get The Sacramento Bee to pay any attention at all to local community musical theater. Brent Null must have donated a kidney, or something, to get this excellent coverage for Magic Circle!

And the Sacramento Bee did a special feature on Pepper Von too! Brent must have donated two kidneys! Or, being the clever guy he is, issued promissory notes for the organs, to be redeemed in the year 2200:

During the development and first productions, a different group of eight was chosen each night. Before the play opened on Broadway, however, Bennett had been convinced that the same dancers had to "win" each night, said Brent Null, who directs this show.

Adhering closely to the time period and dance styles of the original, Null has returned to the last-minute, different- every-night final decision. "I wanted that … essence of truth that you see in their faces when they are chosen or not," he said.

There is natural drama in the characters' tales. Paul (Nicky Garcia in a monologue that nearly brings tears to the eyes) tells of being groped by strangers in movie theaters as a child; Val (spunky Laura Lothian) sings "Dance: Ten; Looks: Three," about how her physical appearance hindered her career until she purchased certain "enhancements"; and Sheila (Sarah Henshaw) reveals how she sought respite in dance while being forced to live out her mother's dream to be a ballerina in "At the Ballet."

Cassie (Christi Axelson) has had an intimate relationship with director Zach (the solid Steve Gold), has gone on to featured roles, but now 30, she finds herself back, asking for a job in the chorus.
And for Pepper:
Roseville's Magic Circle Theatre chose the obvious – and absolutely right – person to choreograph "A Chorus Line," the musical that follows dancers trying out for a Broadway production while offering a metaphor for life's successes and disappointments.

The choice was Pepper Von, who has lived all the parts in this storied musical. He's been through the "interviews from hell." He's won roles and lost a few – including one in "A Chorus Line" in New York – and he has directed shows.

Like Michael Bennett, who conceived, choreographed and directed the original production – which opened on Broadway on July 25, 1975, and ran for 15 years – Von has created his own shows from scratch, too. (His latest – "Let's Go!" – is to open Aug. 1 at Garbeau's Dinner Theater.)

Brent Null, who is directing the Magic Circle production (which opened Friday and plays weekends through July 26), said it was crucial to have Von as his choreographer.

"Most community theaters tend to steer away from a show like this that is heavy with dancing because it's so hard to find the right cast," he said in a telephone interview last week. "When Bob and Ro (Robert and Rosemarie Gerould, executive producer and artistic director, respectively, of the theater) approached it, they realized what was needed.

"If we chose a known quantity like Pepper, we felt that we would be able to secure the kind of dancers that were necessary. We were able to get the cast that we needed, and a lot of that is having Pepper involved."

Null said about 50 dancers auditioned for the 17 main roles, many because of Von's association with the show.

"They want to work with Pepper," Null said.

...For Von, that meant maintaining the authenticity of the '70s-style choreography while "stretching the dancers to take it to the edge. The show is such a representation of a specific period in movement arts that people 'know' what it's supposed to look like. I like stepping out of the box and challenging their preconceptions."

Among his innovations is the introduction of movement and conversation among the characters in the background as one of their own is featured in front. "It just creates more of a visual energy in the chorus," he said.
New Mexico Pod People Seize Local Radio Station

Did you know that the chimichanga may have been invented in the 1940's in
an eatery alongside Route 66 in Gallup?
No, I did not. I never heard of chimichangas until I moved to Tucson in 1980, so I suspect they come from down there somewhere....
Did you know New Mexico has the smallest percentage of surface water in the U.S.?
I might have guessed, but no, I did not.
Did you know New Mexico is the home to many bats, and not the Leona Helmsley kind?
Yes, but that is insulting to Leona Helmsley.

What is this? Why is The Eagle 96.9 suddenly spurting New Mexico trivia on the airwaves? The state tourism board must have dumped a ton of money on the station. But why this station? Why now? Strangely, New Mexico is not listed as a client.

And then they started playing songs about Roswell. Oooowwwwweeeeoooo! What more need one say?

A really interesting article by Gail Sheehy in Vanity Fair, describing some of the internal dynamics in Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign as it foundered this spring. My favorite part:
Clinton’s stance on the Iraq war turned out to be an albatross around her neck that no amount of spinning could shake off. Penn, a superhawk on Iraq and with a strong allegiance to the security of Israel, reinforced Clinton’s own instinct not to admit she had made a mistake. “She felt it wasn’t her mistake,” says a campaign official. “It was Bush’s mistake.” Other senators, such as Florida’s Bob Graham, had gone into the national-security vault, read the National Intelligence Estimate on Saddam’s W.M.D. for themselves, and found the evidence to be unpersuasive. Clinton took the safe, see-no-evil, hawkish road, arguably a precaution necessary for a female with presidential ambitions.

Hillary’s campaign had failed to understand that America was in the midst of a national passage from the old-style confrontational politics of the boomer generation—a divisiveness perfected by both the Clinton and Bush administrations—into a new style of Netroots politics, open-sourced and inclusive, multi-racial and multicultural.

“By presenting her as the virtual incumbent, the insider who knew how to make the wheels of government work from day one, she was being inferentially positioned as running for the third term of Bill Clinton,” says a senior adviser. “We unwittingly set it up for Obama to play not only the anti-Clinton but the outsider, who was going to come in and clean out the gray-haired, patronage-laden gumshoes of Washington’s shadow government.”

Clinton’s people had no idea how excited a whole new cohort of voters would become by a youthful figure who tapped into their vital hunger for change from the ground up. Obama started cultivating these new voters at low-cost events. The turnout amazed even his own team. What began as I.M.’s and campus meet-ups developed into a genuine social movement.

Such was the hubris of Hillary’s team that they discounted Obama as a passing pop star to non-voters. reported that at a November 2007 Jefferson-Jackson dinner in Iowa, where 9,000 people showed up, 3,000 were already for Obama. “Our people look like caucus-goers,” Mandy Grunwald sniffed, “and his [Obama’s] people look like they are 18. Penn said they look like Facebook.”

“Did they sleep through the 2003–4 election cycle?” asks an incredulous Joe Trippi, referring to Howard Dean and his new form of communication. As the pioneer who kick-started the bottom-up, low-dollar style of campaigning, tapping grassroots organizers and “newbies” for Dean through the Internet, Trippi was appalled that the Clinton machine stuck with a top-down, status-quo campaign. But the Clintons were out of touch with new forms of communication. Bill Clinton still doesn’t use e-mail or own a BlackBerry.

Why hadn’t they been using the Internet all along as a bulging cash register the way the Obama forces were doing? Hillary’s team had held a retreat in the fall of ’07 to huddle with propeller heads from Google and Yahoo, hoping to update their Internet savvy, but basically gave up on trying. “We tried direct mail but we couldn’t come close to him,” admits one member of Clinton’s brain trust. “Obama tapped a different sensibility. They had a more, uh, viral [i.e., spreads by itself] campaign.” The very word “viral” in his mouth sounded foreign.
Scheduled For Around My Birthday....

Some people go to fast food restaurants for the cuisine, and some go for the ambience. But others have a different need:
You see, I give birth very fast, and that's why it's important that I be here when my water breaks....
Bill The Carpenter

Left: Bill Caruthers dismantles my right front porch railing as a first step in its repair.

So far, so good. Bill is very focused and the work is proceeding quickly.

Bill is part of the underground music scene here in Sacramento, going under the name "Jesus Son". He handed me his latest album, "Weave", featuring guest artists Kepi from the Groovy Ghoulies and Kristian Manoff, from the Kristian Manoff Trio.

"Weave" is an excellent album, with a trance-like vibe, and overlayed vocals, but with more varied drums than one would normally expect for trance. I like what he does!

As might be expected, I've been worried about E.'s reaction to having Bill buzzing around the outside of the house. She's been practicing active avoidance of the man she preemptively labeled "Psycho III". Watching from behind the curtains she reported "he wear a hippie shirt and yesterday he took it off and he has tattoo!": seemingly a correct observation. E. has been nursing an injured finger: she slammed her car door on it two days ago, and, unsurprisingly for someone loath to accept any responsibility for anything, she blamed Bill, but since he was busy cutting wood miles from the event he could hardly be held to account. Still, due to Bill's unusual intensity and focus on his job, I sense her alarm is waning, and hopefully she can eventually be persuaded to at least say hello.
Creepy Doll

Just trying to relax by chilling with the toys at Target and here is this doll that knows when you pass in front of it, and starts cooing and gurgling and turns its head to look at you.

I don't think I'll sleep for a month.....
"The Secret Garden" - Third Weekend

Left: "Come Spirit, Come Charm". Caitlin Kiley, Paul Fearn, Scott Sablan, Bridget Maguire, Karina Summers, and others.

When I saw this image, I thought "dancing, like cholera, is contagious."

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

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

Left: Dr. Neville Craven (Rick Eldredge), Colin Craven (Christian Salmon), and Mary Lennox (Kaylynn Rothleder).

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

Left: Down in the orchestra pit - Jonathan Rothman (right), and the orchestra.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, June 30, 2008

Reality Bites

It's not a howling wilderness, it's a park:
A 45-year-old tourist from Holland painfully found out just how wild the Sonoran Desert can be — even in the confines of a museum.

Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum officials made the "extremely rare" decision to close the museum all day Saturday after a wild javelina breached the grounds Friday and bit the man, who ended up in surgery for wounds to his right calf and hand.

...Apparently thinking the animal was part of an exhibit, the man unknowingly approached too close to the javelina, said Aninna Thornburg, an Arizona Game and Fish spokeswoman.
Kylie Minogue - Giving You Up (SonicBoom's Showgirl Edit)

Nice idea!
I Love Amy Winehouse, But Good God!

She has the reputation for the most amazing temper tantrums in the business. Fortunately, here she was in a good mood.....:
Amy Winehouse was hauled away by security after an apparent altercation with a fan at the end of her set on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury yesterday (June 28).

The singer appeared to scuffle with someone in the front row after she jumped down into the photographers' pit to sing the final song of her set, 'Rehab'.

In video footage of Amy Winehouse's performance she appears to elbow someone in the front row.

The disruption saw security guards stepping in and leading Winehouse away from the stage before she could play her last song.

Police later said they had received no complaints following the incident.

It was a bizarre ending to a set that Winehouse began in high spirits.
Wes Clark For Vice-President

Actually it makes a lot of sense - he's an outspoken liberal, an experienced Pentagon insider, and he knows how to provoke McCain into saying intemperate things. Plus, he's at loose ends right now and needs something useful to do.
Flying Monkeys Presents "Alice In Wonderland"

The Disney version! From Ryan Warren:
Veterans Memorial Theatre
203 E 14th Street
Davis, CA 95616
United States

Based on the 1951 Disney film “Alice in Wonderland” and the novels
“The Adventures of Alice in Wonderland” and “Through the Looking Glass” by Lewis Carroll

Join Alice’s madcap adventures in Wonderland as she chases the White Rabbit, races the Dodo Bird, gets tied up with the Tweedles, raps with a bubble-blowing Caterpillar, and beats the Queen of Hearts at her own game! This fast-paced stage adaptation of Alice in Wonderland features updated dialogue and new arrangements of such classic Disney songs as “I’m Late,” “The Un-birthday Song” and “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah.”

$10 - Students / $15 - Adults

Friday July 11th (7:30)
Saturday July 12th (2:00 / 7:30)
Sunday July 13th (2:00)


Alice - Mayme O'Toole
White Rabbit - Kayla Wood
Cheshire Cat - Chaney Briggs
Queen of Hearts - Josephine Longo
King of Hearts - Zach Hill
Mad Hatter - Riley O'Toole
March Hare - Johnathan Tierney
Doormouse - Aidan Ferreter
Caterpillar - Simonne Sacco
Tweedle Dee - McKenzie Logan
Tweedle Dum - Erika Neal
Doorknob - Jeff Beck
Mock Turtle - Rebecca Rudy
Gryphon - Cass Olson
Dodo Bird - Joey Lemons
Rose - Corey Bourgeois
Bud - Jillie Kate Randle
Petunia - Alicia Wood
Lily - Emily Warren
Daisy - Elizabeth Ferris
Violet - Kelly Flanary
Daffodil - Julianna Gardner
Tulip - Abby Bisi
Morning Glory - Debbie Williamson
Poppy - Brittney Almendariz
Ace of Spades - Emma Hilder
2 of Diamonds - Amanda Jones
3 of Clubs - Karson Bisharat
4 of Hearts - Jordanne Kirschke
Wee Lil Farm Girl - Trish Silva

Rocklobsters/Cardsmen -
Annie Randle
Jake Randle
Matt Iwasa
Samantha Jones
Improved Sacramento Air Quality

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).

The situation improved in Sacramento starting Friday evening. It's still not all that good, but it's better than it was.

Bruce reported on the values in the Auburn area, and it's notable how much higher levels were than they were in Sacramento. Auburn is likely high enough in elevation that the smoke layer that was suspended aloft over Sacramento bumped into the surrounding terrain up in places like Auburn and Colfax:
Numerous area wildfires caused Auburn’s air quality index to zoom to more than nine times the federal air quality standard early Friday morning, according to Placer County air pollution officials.

The federal particulate matter standard for air measured during a 24-hour period, allows for 35 micrograms per cubic meter. On Friday that index soared as high as 323 micrograms in the Auburn area, said Tom Christofk, air pollution control officer of Placer County.

Particle readings were even worse at higher elevations, including Colfax, which saw higher levels on Friday than Thursday, Christofk said.

The readings taken from a micro dust analyzer by Yushuo Chang, supervisor of monitoring at Placer County air control, were highest with a 323 reading at 7 a.m. Friday. From 10 to 11 a.m., Chang said the readings averaged 275, but by 2 p.m., it dropped to 232, still well above the federal average standard of 35. This past Wednesday, particle micrograms were measured at 151 in Auburn and 78 in Roseville.

The standard paper mask that can be purchased at the hardware store is not an effective solution in stopping tiny particles, according to Dr. Mark Starr, director of community health and clinics for Placer County.

“Paper masks will not filter out the fine particles that are contained in the smoke, and for some people it makes it harder to breathe,” Starr said. “If people want to buy a mask they should buy a N-95 mask. It looks similar to the paper mask, but it has a metal piece in the nose bridge and won’t work as well with a person who has a beard.”

While Starr said “our clinics have not seen a notable increase in respiratory complaints so far,” that’s not the case at Sutter Auburn Faith Hospital.

“For our department, we have seen a steady influx of patients on Thursday, which was probably the peak of it,” said Ronna Davis, manager of cardiopulmonary services at Sutter Auburn Faith Hospital.

On Thursday the emergency room at Auburn Faith Hospital, admitted at least eight patients with breathing issues, which is a 200 percent increase, according to Davis.

“But it’s unclear if those were smoke related or just standard breathing issues,” Davis said.

Overall, the hospital has seen “an increase in cardiac and respiratory cases but the increase has not been overwhelming,” said Robin Montgomery, spokeswoman for Sutter Auburn Faith Hospital.

And courtesy of Frank, here is a pretty picture of Northern California on Thursday, June 26th, after smoke accumulation in the valley had progressed to everyone's great annoyance, and shortly before the situation began improving.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Hatfill Case Settled

It's amazing how common FBI dereliction has become over the last decade, with vengeful accusations leaking instantaneously into the media, ever since Notra Trulock attacked Wen Ho Lee in 1998. These guys have to get a grip, but that kind of destructive power is so seductive, I'm sure they never will:
A former U.S. Army scientist who was named as a person of interest in the 2001 anthrax attacks will receive $5.8 million (€3.7 million) to settle his lawsuit against the Justice Department.

Steven Hatfill claimed the department violated his privacy rights by speaking with reporters about the case.

Settlement documents were filed in federal court Friday. Both sides have agreed to the deal, according to the documents, and when they are signed, the case will be dismissed.

The deal requires the Justice Department to pay $2.825 million (€1.8 million) up front and buy Hatfill a $3 million (€1.9 million) annuity that will pay him $150,000 (€95,250) each year for 20 years.

"Our government failed us, not only by failing to catch the anthrax mailers but by seeking to conceal that failure," Hatfill's lawyers said in a statement. "Our government did this by leaking gossip, speculation and misinformation to a handful of credulous reporters."

The statement also blamed journalists for not questioning the motives of the government's statements or its tactics.

"As an innocent man, and as our fellow citizen, Steven Hatfill deserved far better," they said.

The Justice Department said the settlement was in the best interest of the nation.

"The United States does not admit to any violation of the Privacy Act and continues to deny all liability in connection with Dr. Hatfill's claims," Justice Department spokesman Brian Roehrkasse said in response to the settlement.
Bush Line Conspiracy

Makes me wonder:
It's remarkably common for a grandson to take up his grandfather's major project. This occurred to me when I read recently of Thor Heyerdahl's grandson taking up his mission to cross the Pacific on a raft. But what really struck me was the BBC story aired on July 23rd, 2007, documenting President George W. Bush's grandfather's involvement in a 1933 plot to overthrow the U.S. government and install a fascist dictatorship. I knew the story, but had not considered the possibility that the grandson was trying to accomplish what his grandfather had failed to achieve.

...Until the United States entered World War II it was legal for Americans to do business with Germany, but in late 1942 Prescott Bush's businesses interests were seized under the Trading with the Enemy Act. Among those businesses involved was the Hamburg America Lines, for which Prescott Bush served as a manager.

...The McCormack-Dickstein Committee was established to investigate a homegrown American fascist plot hatched in 1933. Here's how the BBC promoted its recent story:
"Document uncovers details of a planned coup in the USA in 1933 by right-wing American businessmen. The coup was aimed at toppling President Franklin D Roosevelt with the help of half-a-million war veterans.

...The BBC report provides a good account of the basic story. Some of the wealthiest men in America approached Marine Corps Major General Smedley Butler, beloved of many World War I veterans, many of them embittered by the government's treatment of them. Prescott Bush's group asked Butler to lead 500,000 veterans in a take-over of Washington and the White House. Butler refused and recounted the affair to the congressional committee. His account was corroborated in part by a number of witnesses, and the committee concluded that the plot was real. But the names of wealthy backers of the plot were blacked out in the committee's records, and nobody was prosecuted. According to the BBC, President Roosevelt cut a deal. He refrained from prosecuting some of the wealthiest men in America for treason. They agreed to end Wall Street's opposition to the New Deal.

...Dubya has given himself the power to rewrite all laws with signing statements. He's established that intentionally misleading the Congress about the need for a war is not a crime that carries any penalty. He's given himself the right (just as Hitler did) to open anyone's mail. He's created illegal spying programs and then proposed to legalize them. Prescott would be so proud!

Saturday afternoon ballet class at Ron Cisneros' studio reminded me of one of those Charlie Brown classrooms. The teacher was saying things like "battement dégagé", "échappé", and "pas de bourrée", but all I could hear was "wah, wah, wah":

M.: So, explain this again. You saw a naked woman cross the street?
K.: Yes, in midday traffic, in broad daylight. She crossed 16th Street, and at first I didn't notice she was naked, but then I saw her derrière, and then I noticed some other bits and pieces too.
M.: So, was she wearing flip-flops, at least?
R.: (laugh)
K.: I don't remember.
M.: What was the cross street?
K.: I don't remember. I was paying attention to the traffic lights.
M.: Was she making an artistic or political statement, like my friend up in Humboldt County, who sometimes go naked in public to protest nudity laws?
K.: No, she had a scowl on her face. I think she was mental.
M.: So her statement was "I'm crazy?"

You see, women sometimes don't make very good observers. Most men I know would notice right away that a woman was naked. But then, men probably would be even less likely than women to notice if she had any flip-flops on.

Just then, I noticed someone was out in the hallway watching us through the window. Who was that girl? My eyes arched with the shock of recognition and my lips soundlessly uttered "Brittney?" and the girl smiled and nodded.

Left: In this 2006 picture, Buffee Gillihan poses with The Lullaby League, the Almendariz sisters: Brittney (then age 10), and twin sisters Paige and Macy (then age 8).

It was Brittney Almendariz, the older of the three phenomenal Almendariz sisters! With their gymnastics and dance training, they are all a tremendous asset to the local theatre community. Brittney, in particular, is wondrous, but I had never seen her here before. Why was she here?

I opened the door, and she said something about a time mixup for a rehearsal. Her dad had dropped her off at the studio, but now she was stranded. And bored. I invited her to dance in our class, but she demurred. Instead, she watched us and followed our movements out in the hall. There was something strange about going through the ballet moves; grunting, sweating, and groaning - my usual contribution to the terpsichorean art form - all the while being tracked by someone who could, like, actually do this stuff.

After awhile, Brittney vanished - presumably her dad came and picked her up again.

Eventually, Ryan Warren and others began filtering into the studio. It turned out it was a Flying Monkeys rehearsal Brittney had been early for. Apparently the time had been rescheduled to accomodate our ballet class, but for some reason Brittney didn't get the memo. The show under rehearsal is "Alice in Wonderland", coming up the weekend of July 10-13 at the Veteran's Memorial Theater in Davis. "Is Brittney Alice?" I asked Ryan, and he said: "No, she's a Flower." But I forgot to ask who has been cast as Alice.

Guess I will have to go and see the show and find out! Help support the Flying Monkeys! Help cheer Brittney (and the others) on!
Where Do Gays Come From?

E. was relating how her and her friends had visited Fisherman's Wharf on Thursday evening, and ate some crab sandwiches, and how they noticed something that other people have also commented on, that there seems to be a lot of gay people in San Francisco:

E.: Mmmmaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrccccccc! God never created Adam and Adam, and Eve and Eve!
M.: He didn't? Then where do all the gay people come from?
E.: God created all things and all people, but he didn't make them do what they do. Do you understand what I am talking about? For example, he made all the spiders and all the snakes, and all the bugs, and even all the ants, which I hate so very much! God made them all! He made all the evil and all the good.
M.: He did?
E.: And then God separated the darkness and the light, and separated the years from each other, and the months, and the day from the night.
M.: He did that after he made all the spiders and the snakes? I thought it was the other way around. That's what Genesis says, anyway. ..... So, where do all the gay people come from?
E.: They decided on it themselves.
M.: They did? When did they do that? Did they all get together one day in a park in San Francisco and said "Now we will be gay"? And how come I never heard about it? Nobody said a thing! You would something like that would be pretty important!


I always seem to be the last one to hear about these things. You would think that a lot of people deciding to become gay would be worth a planning document, at the very least, or a feature on the evening news. But I heard nothing; nada; zip. You know it had to be one of those inside things, kind of like a flashmob, where everyone has to check a special Web Site first - a Web Site like TMZ or Gawker, the kind that I check on maybe once a month, at most.

So, where do all the gay people come from? To answer this kind of philosophical question, we would have to cross-examine God himself. Did he make all the gay people? Did he realize that they would get together early one sunny summer morning in Golden Gate Park and decide to become gay? Or is it all plausible deniability with the Great One? Conventional advice, like "follow the money" just won't do. We need to serve a subpoena at the pearly gates and directly ask "What did God know, and when did he know it?"