Saturday, September 27, 2008

Vertigo On The Shield

Left: The Sandia Mountains, just east of Albuquerque.

Left: "The Shield" - a giant fin made of granite (as seen from the side).

It is possible to hike up the razor's edge of the Shield (which I did once, years ago). At one point, the trail gets extraordinarily narrow, with cliffs on both sides. I still have recurring dreams, where I'm at that most-narrow location, and start f-a-l-l-i-n-g!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Ruh Roh!

The House Republicans are revolting! And this time, I agree with the revolt!.

But what I wonder is, if this is all sturm und drang is just smoke and mirrors - i.e., just cover for McCain to take the populist approach that Newt Gingrich was pushing the other day - where the elitists Obama and Bush get tarred with the bailout and the populist glory goes to McCain?

So, will the stock market tank? Who will really get the blame? Who will really get the glory? What happens to my 401K?

This is one interesting time! Like the old Jewish saying goes; "May you live in interesting times!"
Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama both left President Bush's financial bailout meeting at the White House after 5 p.m. Thursday with no apparent deal worked out.

Obama, appearing on CNN's "The Situation Room" after the meeting, said there "has to be a sense of urgency on the part of everybody. ... We've got to move rapidly."

Obama said that there will be a deal eventually but that there is still work to do, including reaching a consensus among Bush, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and House Republicans.

McCain told ABC News on Thursday night that Republicans "have legit concerns. Some of those have already been satisfied, such as accountability and oversight board and CEO executive pay. Members are aware of the crisis situation that we are in."

Obama, who will spend Thursday night in Washington, once again railed against infusing presidential politics into the negotiations over the $700 billion economic bailout. McCain's campaign said he will also stay in the Washington area for the night.
Not Ready For Prime Time



But attractive enough to win some votes. My sister, for example, likes Palin (they are both into guns).

Nevertheless, Palin just doesn't know enough to be an effective leader.
McCain Intends To Boycott Debate?



Strange stuff:
But whatever McCain's underlying motivations, both campaigns are now locked in a bizarre game of chicken. If McCain actually boycotts the Oxford debate, Obama may score a public-relations coup while his Republican rival looks weak and evasive. Or the Democratic nominee may appear too political while McCain puts on his mantle as statesman. Republican strategist Rich Galen, who advised Fred Thompson in the primaries, said, "It's a brilliant stroke by McCain. You will have an empty chair debate in Oxford without McCain. And an empty chair at the White House economic negotiations without Obama." Of course, George W. Bush, an early-to-bed president, is unlikely to be meeting anything but his pillow at the White House during debate time Friday night.
Obama should show up and debate an empty chair. Neither candidate has much role with arranging the big bailout, and both should show up to debate.

I like Josh Marshall's take:
Occasionally in these moments, in a perverse kind of private entertainment, I've found myself imagining what would happen if I pawned off on someone just the ballsiest, most inane excuse for flaking on some commitment. And not something that people might buy -- nothing entertaining about that -- but just something completely off the wall and nonsensical. What would people's reaction be? Speechless, laughter, tearing me limb from limb? Would they ever speak to me again?

So, let's see, I can't moderate the panel because I've been called to Washington to give a special briefing on guerilla tactics to be used against the Taliban?

Or maybe, I want to be at the meeting, but as weird as this sounds, all the bridges and tunnels out of Manhattan have been shut for the day. Some counter-terrorism thing probably. I tried renting a helicopter but they're all booked by people at the UN.

Isn't this pretty much what John McCain tried to pull today? But actually really did it? And on a national stage? He wants to cancel the debate? And maybe also Palin's debate. Are you kidding? Why not cancel the election too? And because he has to go back to DC to solve the financial crisis? Really? The topic he knows nothing about and after he's shown up less in the senate in the last two years than anyone but Tim Johnson, the guy who had the stroke? Which of my employees is going to call from home tomorrow and say they can't come to work because of the financial crisis?

One of the advantages of running a presidential campaign is that roughly half the country is deeply committed to believing or at least saying that virtually anything you do or say makes sense. And so it is here. But, look, if you were living in the real world, if you were some hotshot young executive at a Fortune 500 company trying to rise in the ranks, and you pulled some whacked crap like this, it would probably get you blackballed permanently. People would think you were either deeply unreliable or maybe just had a screw loose. And yet here he is -- is he kidding? He can't debate Barack Obama because he's got to go to Washington and save the economy? It's like the biggest 'dog ate my homework' in history.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

What New Mexicans Think Of Blacks

Bernalillo County Republican Chairman Fernando C. de Baca really stepped into a cowpie by asserting that New Mexican Hispanics will never vote for Obama because - well, because blacks are inferior:
Fernando C' de Baca, who heads the GOP in Bernalillo County, was quoted by BBC reporter Jon Kelly on Friday as saying that even though the polls show Barack Obama with a substantial lead over John McCain among Hispanic voters, "The truth is that Hispanics came here as conquerors. African-Americans came here as slaves. ... Hispanics consider themselves above blacks. They won't vote for a black president."
C. de Baca errs by speaking on behalf of all New Mexico Hispanics with what is, at best, a minority attitude - a very minority attitude.

New Mexico Hispanics are generally quite practical when it comes to electoral politics, and have often supported numerous white candidates who have had little to do with the Hispanic community, but who nevertheless seemed to be better prepared for office. I would think a black candidate like Obama would affect the community no differently. If Obama is the better candidate, New Mexico Hispanics will vote for him, whatever lingering racism some might feel. Because that's what we all do when it comes to politics: we vote for the best available candidate.
Woodland Problems

Last week, I encountered a group of about six teens outside a convenience market on Woodland's Main Street, and I sensed something was very wrong. The teens approached me and asked for a dollar. I refused. The teens looked very troubled, almost despondent, but it wasn't at all clear what it was they were upset about.

Life in Woodland is increasingly troubled, in general:
A recent spate of gang activity in Woodland drew a packed house of concerned parents at the Woodland High School auditorium tonight. Local law enforcement representatives were on hand to answer questions from the 200 people who attended a forum on gang violence sponsored by the Woodland Joint Unified School District. Some of the responses drew gasps from the crowd, such as when Woodland Police Department Sgt. Tom Davis, supervisor of the department's gang unit, estimated there were about 670 validated gang members in the city of roughly 56,000 population. Davis added that there were "several hundred others we haven't made contact with." A brutal attack on a 13-year-old boy Tuesday was the result of simmering tensions between street gangs in the city of roughly 56,000 people, police said. Three assailants attacked the boy Tuesday around 7:30 p.m. while he was walking near the corner of Lemen Avenue and Donnelly Circle, according to the Woodland Police Department. The boy was beaten with a bat and stabbed in the upper torso, police said. He was being treatment at UC Davis Medical Center, said Lt. Charlie Wilts, Woodland Police Department spokesman.
"Plaguers" Premieres!

Well, this is cool! Stephanie Skewes is in this film!
Director Brad Sykes dropped us a line this week with the good news that his latest film, the Steve Railsback-starrer Plaguers, was a rousing success during its premiere at Spain’s recent Estepona Fantasy & Horror Film Festival, taking home a Silver Unicorn Award for Best Screenplay.

Very cool news indeed! So when will those of us in the U.S. get to see it? ”Plaguers has been selected as the Opening Night film for Shockerfest in Modesto, CA,” Sykes told us. ”It will screen at midnight on Oct. 3, 2008. This will be the film’s North American premiere, and I’ll be in attendance along with producer Josephina Syke. Start Halloween early this year and be the first to catch Plaguers on the West Coast!”
North Valley Cuisine


Left: A wonderful time Wednesday evening with both my sisters at Steve Zaintz' Jasmine Thai & Sushi House Restaurant! Exquisite food! (Steve and I were high school classmates).


Left: Tuesday night at Sadies.

Left: The quintessential New Mexico eating establishment, Blakes' Lotaburger (where my Dad eats nearly every day, and where I would too, if I was still in New Mexico).
Homework Discipline

Left: Glued to MySpace, Aaron proved resistant to the horsewhip, so my sister brought out the more-effective blackjack.
Happy 17th Birthday, Aaron!

Left: Aaron at Albuquerque's La Cueva High School, with a stuffed bear given to him as a gift by 'Angelica'.
A Visit To The Supermarket


Left: This product is supposed to allow one to wash vegetables and fruits more-effectively, presumably allowing one to strip off remaining pesticides, and such. The ingredients are so inoffensive, however, that it is almost-surely ineffective: the most useless product since the introduction of bottled water.

Below: Ironies abound: The Big Bin O' Toothpaste is right next to The Big Bin O' Candy.



Left: Halloween tombstones and Halloween candy. The subliminal message: Eat candy; you die.

Left: The automated checkout station.
Caveat McCain



Beware dissing David Letterman!
Meanwhile At ASU....

Greeks tempted by a footbridge too far:
Eight to 10 members of an Arizona State University fraternity are believed to have caused a car accident by vomiting milk onto traffic below an ASU footbridge on University Drive Tuesday night.

The prank caused a woman to rear-end another vehicle at about 6 p.m. after that vehicle stopped to avoid the vomit, according to Sgt. Scott Smith a spokesman for the Tempe Police Department.

The woman and her young daughter suffered minor injuries. The woman was cited for the accident, according to Smith.
It is unknown why the men were drinking and vomiting the milk.

The name of the fraternity could not be confirmed but it is being placed on secession, which prohibits them from participating in Greek and university activities, according to Matt Hunt a coordinator with fraternity and sorority life at ASU.
Christopher Cox's Revenge

The fellow is tired of being McCain's kicking stool:
But Cox was refreshingly forthright.
It's also important to note that legislation has expressly excluded CDS from regulation even of the most modest kind, such as disclosure, and the lack of disclosure, the lack of transparency, around this market is one of the reasons that we as a law enforcement agency, but also market participants, are very, very concerned about this.
Italics mine.

If I'm not mistaken, the legislation Cox is referring to is the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000, a bill that former Senator Phil Gramm was instrumental in passing.

Maybe Cox is still smarting at the attack launched against him last week by Gramm's disciple in all affairs economic, John McCain. McCain said Cox hasn't been doing his job. Well here, Cox appears to be saying that one of the reasons the SEC hasn't been able to do its job is because it was handcuffed by legislation that McCain's economic advisor, Phil Gramm is responsible for enacting. Touche!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Interesting Democratic Angle

Cowardice, but cowardice with intent.

Secretary of Treasury Paulson's $700 billion bailout threatens to split Wall Street Republicans from Main Street Republicans.

So the Democrats say, if John McCain doesn't sign on to the bailout, they won't sign on either. Why let the bailout become Obama's bailout?

The Democrats recognize a hand grenade when they see it. Let the Republicans own this hand grenade:
ABC News' George Stephanopoulos reports: If Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain doesn't vote for the Bush administration's $700 billion economic bailout plan, some Republican and Democratic congressional leaders tell ABC News the plan won't pass.

"If McCain doesn't come out for this, it's over," a Top House Republican tells ABC News.

A Democratic leadership source says that White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten has been told that Democratic votes will not be there if McCain votes no -- that there is no deal if McCain doesn't go along.

McCain, taking questions from the traveling media today for the first time in 40 days, said he doesn't yet know how he will vote on the bailout.

But when he was asked by ABC News' Ron Claiborne what he would do if the fate of the bill was in his hands, he said Senate Democrats should not use his vote as the determining factor on the success of the bill.

"This issue should be - and their vote should be determined in how we can resolve this crisis and get America going again," McCain said. "This is a huge crisis. We know, in the words of many experts and mine, this is the greatest financial crisis since World War II. So to somehow, for the Democrats to say that their vote is going to be gauged on my vote frankly doesn't do them a great deal of credit.

"Their first and only priority should be making sure this economy recovers and get back on our feet again," McCain said.
Cheney Leads

But House Republicans are finally beginning to ask questions about the direction:
The vice president traveled to Capitol Hill on Tuesday to silence a chorus of GOP complaints about Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson’s $700 billion plan. But House Republicans who walked into a closed-door meeting with Cheney steaming over the plan walked out just as angry, and they described what happened in between as both “a bloodbath” and “an unmitigated disaster.”

Texas Rep. Joe Barton took the unusual step of telling reporters gathered outside the Cannon Caucus Room that he had confronted Cheney “respectfully” about his concerns — a level of dissent Republicans once considered heresy under the Bush administration.

...Cheney’s inability to turn around members of his own party said plenty about how congressional Republicans view the Bush White House these days — but maybe even more about their discomfort with a bailout plan many of them see as an attack on their free market principles.

“It’s a sad fact, but Americans can no longer trust the economic information they are getting from this administration,” South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint said in a comment posted on Politico’s Arena forum.

“There is tremendous unease over the federal government assuming the assets that these financial institutions cannot price or manage,” said Alabama Rep. Spencer Bachus, the ranking Republican on the committee drafting the legislation.

It wasn’t clear Tuesday whether Republicans were willing to take responsibility for killing the Paulson plan — but neither were they eager to take responsibility for passing it, either.

Republican leaders are now hoping Democrats load the legislation with unrelated measures that would give them the political cover to oppose it, members and aides said. At the same time, party leaders are using back channels in the business community to gauge member support for a “clean” bill.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) warned his former colleagues that they would pay a price in November for backing the bailout now — and that John McCain could ride to victory over Barack Obama by persuading voters that the bailout is really the “Obama-Bush plan.” While McCain seemed to move in the other direction Tuesday, Gingrich called the Paulson plan “stupid,” “a really bad idea” and “the kind of corrupt scheme that could have been designed by [Russian Prime Minister] Vladimir Putin.”

Despite the anxieties — and outright anger — expressed during the Republicans’ nearly two-hour exchange with Cheney and the other White House officials, lawmakers remained respectful enough to give the vice president two standing ovations.

Still, a lawmaker present said that Cheney and his team “were the wrong guys” to send to the Hill: “The problem is that they’ve used up a lot of goodwill.”

...Cheney and the others made policy arguments for the proposal instead of political arguments that would help lawmakers explain a vote for the plan to constituents. The meeting was almost an hour old when the vice president told the anxious Republicans, in response to a question, that failure to pass this would result in more foreclosures and cause grave hardship for their constituents.

“No one sold it,” one member present said. “Nobody has figured out how to sell it when you’re knocking on voters’ doors.”
Finding An Appropriate Response

My sister has been having issues with a neighbor. So, the first item on the Albuquerque agenda was to visit the North Valley's Gerald E. Cline Memorial Police Community Sub-Station, to file a police report. The waiting room was filled with a doleful crowd of the afflicted. For example, two men appeared to report a Sunday afternoon knife fight at 4th St. & Griegos - hardly a restful Sunday afternoon kind of thing to do.

In the evening, we opened up the garage, set up tables and chairs, ordered a pizza, and enjoyed the evening air. Fortunately, the neighbor didn't appear, and didn't spoil the pleasant atmosphere.
Views From The Air - Phoenix To Albuquerque


Left: Gammage Auditorium at Arizona State University, Tempe.

Left: Highway 101 separating Mesa and Tempe, and its intersection with the Superstition Freeway (looking south).

Left: Falcon Field. I once blogged about this airfield, where the Commemorative (formerly Confederate) Air Force is headquartered, among the citrus orchards of the East Valley, near Gilbert, AZ, and where WWII bombers are on display.


Left: In the suburbs of Phoenix, swimming pools glitter like jewels in the morning sun!

The pools are brightest along E. Legacy Hills Dr., near the intersection of E. Eagle Crest Dr. and E. Las Sendas Mtn. Dr., in the neighborhood known as Las Sendas Golf Club, at the base of the Usery Mtns.

And we wonder why we have water supply problems in the desert Southwest!

Left: The Superstition Mountains, near Apache Junction. On the ground, these mountains present a formidable wall. From up here, the mountains look - cute!

Left: Highway 88 bridge and Theodore Roosevelt Dam, on the Salt River.

According to Wikipedia, TR himself dedicated this dam in March 1911.

Left: Theodore Roosevelt Lake, featuring the island landmark known as Windy Hill.

Left: Meadows along the Mogollon Rim. I believe the small, elongated lake that is visible may be Carnero Lake, southwest of Eager, Arizona.

Left: Springerville, Arizona.

Left: It almost looks like a natural dam site, and a prehistoric lake bed! (With the lighting and all, it may be deceptive, however.)

I'm not sure where this view is - it may be the Agua Fria Creek watershed, near the AZ/NM border. That's probably Red Hill, NM down there!

Left: This amazing linear feature seems to be a volcanic dike at the south end of the North Plains. It shows up on Google Earth too! It's SO straight!

Left: Blue Water Creek Canyon, on the boundary of the Laguna Indian Reservation, SSE of Acoma Pueblo.

Left: Peculiar badlands (volcanic in nature?) southwest of Highway 6, west of Belen.

Left: The southern Rio Puerco River Valley, featuring the Ladron Mtns. in the distance.

Below: The Interstate 40 bridge over the Rio Grande River. I spent much time along this river and along these bluffs in high school!



Left: The intersection of Interstate 40 (lower left to upper right) with Coors Blvd. The little green oval in the upper quadrant is located at West Mesa High School, where I graduated in 1974!

Left: "The Big I": the intersection of Interstate 25 (left to right) with Interstate 40 (upper left to lower right).

Left: Downtown Albuquerque, with the Rio Grande River in the distance.

Left: Bank of the West Tower at San Mateo Blvd. & Central Avenue - for many years, the tallest building in New Mexico (but since superseded). The smaller building is located at Copper Blvd. & San Mateo Blvd.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Hiatus

Making a trip this week to New Mexico to visit family. I will attempt to blog on the road, but postings may be sparse. Will return on Friday!
Sparky Visits Aunt Jan And Uncle Steve

Hope he and Mrs. Lovett get along fine!
E. Goes To Camp Again

"MMMAAAARRRCCC! I'm scared!"
"Baghead"



(Official site)

It gives me the greatest pleasure to see Sacramento community musical theater enthusiasts move on and succeed in other fields.

Greta Gerwig's new movie "Baghead" is playing this week at the Tower Theater!

Can you believe it? You can pay your money and see someone you once knew on the silver screen! Except I arrived late on Sunday night and could find no one to accept my money. So, I talked my way inside the theater and saw the last hour of the 80 minute indie film.

The movie is about deception, and I was pleasantly surprised how good this film was. (Film school kinds of films are often too self-indulgent for my taste, but this one is an exception.)

Go NOW and figure out ways to get them to accept your money! Support Greta Gerwig!
The Birder

On Saturday afternoon, I noticed a tall young man near my home photographing - pigeons.

I've been feeding the birds for months now, but it wasn't till today that anyone else seemed to care. But he wasn't even interested in the doves: he was interested in - pigeons.

At one point, he saw the little kinglets near my yard, but he approached too fast and the little birds scattered in the hedge.

I wonder why he was interested in - pigeons?
"Fiddler On The Roof" (Or The Travails Of Tevye's Daughters) - Weekend Two

Left: Perchik (Giorgio Selvaggio) and Hodel (Josephine Longo).

Below: Golde (Jan Isaacson) and Yente (Dannette Vassar).



Left: Tzeitel (Amanda Yount) and Motel The Tailor (Brennan Ballard).

Below: Hodel (Josephine Longo).



Left: Tevye (Jeff Nauer) and Perchik (Giorgio Selvaggio).

Below: Chava (Shannon Kendall) and Tevye (Jeff Nauer).