Friday, October 03, 2008

Ignobels Out

High visibility!:
Anderson, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Boston University's School of Medicine, and her colleagues found that not only was Coca-Cola a spermicide, but Diet Coke for some reason worked best. Their study appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1985.

...A group of Taiwanese doctors were honored for a similar study that found Coca-Cola and other soft drinks were not effective contraceptives. Anderson said the studies used different methodology.

...Duke University behavioral economist Dan Ariely won an Ig Nobel for his study that found more expensive fake medicines work better than cheaper fake medicines.

"When you expect something to happen, your brain makes it happen," Ariely said.

...Charles Spence's award-winning work also has to do with the way the mind functions. Spence, a professor of experimental psychology at Oxford University in England, found that potato chips -- "crisps" to the British -- that sound crunchier taste better.

His findings have already been put to work at the world-famous Fat Duck Restaurant in England, where diners who purchase one seafood dish also get an iPod that plays ocean sounds as they eat.

...Miller, an associate professor of psychology at the University of New Mexico, and his colleagues knew of prior studies that found women are more attractive to men when at peak fertility. So they took the work one step further: studying earnings of exotic dancers.

In the 18 subjects Miller studied, average earnings were $250 for a five-hour shift. That jumped to $350 to $400 per five-hour shift when the women were their most fertile, he said.

"I have heard, anecdotally, that some lap dancers have scheduled shifts based on this research," he said.

Armadillos helped win an Ig Nobel for Astolfo Gomes de Mello Araujo, a professor of archaeology at the Universidade De Sao Paulo in Brazil, and a colleague earned.

Pesky armadillos, they found, can move artifacts in archaeological dig sites up, down and even laterally by several meters as they dig. Armadillos are burrowing mammals and prolific diggers. Their abodes can range from emergency burrows 20 inches deep, to more permanent homes reaching 20 feet deep, with networks of tunnels and multiple entrances, according to the Humane Society of the United States' Web site.

Araujo was thrilled to win. "There is no Nobel Prize for archaeology, so an Ig Nobel is a good thing," he said in an e-mail.
The Missing 300

Where are they?:
More than 300 people are missing since Hurricane Ike hit the Texas coast last month, and the obstacles to finding them are frustrating family and friends who desperately want to know if their loved ones are dead or alive.

These family and friends want answers: Why are so many still missing? Why has the first organized search for bodies, to be held Thursday on the battered Bolivar Peninsula, taken so long?

...The frustration about the post-Ike recovery runs deep for Robin Huber, pastor of a church that was destroyed along with her home in Gilchrist. Huber estimates only seven homes are still standing in Gilchrist, which is surrounded by huge piles of debris.

Cars and dead animals float in the bay, she said.

The amount of debris is unfathomable, Huber said, and it was hurled with such force that residents can barely dig through it.

"Imagine that all of these homes were picked up and dropped from a high airplane," she said. "It looks like a bomb exploded here and the pieces are so stuck in the earth, it's impossible to pull out. Who knows what is in there."

Cars and trucks litter the road leading to the highway as if they were trying to escape at the last moment, Huber said.

When she was allowed back to Gilchrist after the storm, Huber swore she saw a body leaning out of a submerged car.

"Nobody could get to them, because they were still under water and because of all of the alligators in the area," she said.

Huber, like others, wants to know why officials haven't been searching for bodies.

"When there's a disaster, everyone focuses on it for a week, then everyone forgets," Huber said. "That's the problem right now. Why are there not more people out there looking for bodies?"

"I have people saying to me 'Do you know where my daddy is?' " she said. "All I can say is 'don't give up,' but now we are going on three weeks."
General McClellan Responds

I know John McCain. John and I fought side by side in Mexico. We threw back a bourbon and loved some whores in TJ. We had our fun. But that man doesn’t know how to win a war any more than I knew how to beat Robert E. Lee. What the hell is he talking about? Win wars? Back in Mexico if you got captured you’d chew off your goddamned leg and bleed to death, that’s what you’d do, not end up with lithographs of yourself in some box all over the goddamned internet. Win what war? Come on.
When Uncle Fester Was Young

Back in the day:
Sen. John McCain's senior foreign policy adviser cites a steamy romance 50 years ago with a Brazilian babe among the things that illustrate the candidate's decades-long interest in Latin America.

...Fontaine was referring to former model Maria Gracinda Teixeira de Jesus, who recently gave an interview to O Globo saying the former sailor was quite the kisser. According to McCain's memoirs, `Faith of My Fathers,` they met in 1957, when his ship, the USS Hunt docked in Brazil.

''I called him John but also my darling and my sweet coconut,'' she said. ``He was a great kisser. I liked it so much that I bought a book to learn how to kiss myself.''
Pat Robertson Speaks...

He seems uneasy about the immediate future:
The 700 Club host is convinced that Israel will attack Iran's nuclear energy facilities shortly after the US presidential election, triggering a series of "dramatic events" that conclude only once "God has rained fire on the islands of the sea and on the invading force coming against Israel."
Chaos Over At The Pirate Negotiations

Not enough rum:
The pirates want $20 million, though people close to the negotiations have said they are being bartered down and will probably settle for $5 million. Still, it doesn’t seem as if anyone is rushing to pay up.

“There are so many parties involved,” said a relative of one crew member. “It’s not clear where the responsibility lies.”

As if things were not complicated enough, one of the few people with experience in prickly pirate problems has been jailed by the Kenyan government on the suspicion he is a pirate himself.

Andrew Mwangura, program coordinator for the Seafarers’ Assistance Program in Kenya, a non-profit group that tracks pirate attacks, was arrested Wednesday night. Mr. Mwangura has extensive contacts up and down the pirate-infested Somali coast. Kenyan officials have accused him of making false statements and working with the pirates.

“Why is it he always finds out what’s happening on a ship before anyone else?” said Alfred Mutua, a Kenyan government spokesman.

Many seamen in Kenya insist that Mr. Mwangura is a good man, and that his only fault may have been being outspoken. He was the first maritime official to say that the hijacked ship was part of a secret arms deal between Kenya and southern Sudan. Kenyan officials have denied this, saying the heavy weaponry, including battle tanks, is for their use. But Western diplomats have said this is a lie.

...From the beginning, the whole story surrounding the MV Faina, which was hijacked Sept. 25 about 200 miles off Somalia’s coast, seemed a little suspicious. Why was the ship left unguarded while sailing through some of the most dangerous waters in the world, especially given its cargo of 33 tanks, 150 grenade launchers, 6 anti-aircraft guns and heaps of ammunition? Beyond that, why does Kenya, best known for its wild animals, not its wars, need so many tanks? And if it did need tanks, why all of a sudden switch from British armor, which the country has used for decades, to Eastern-bloc equipment, which is completely incompatible?

Kenyan officials have ducked these questions. Adding to the mystery is the fact that relatives of the crew disclosed earlier this week that right before the Faina set sail about a month ago, the cargo was suddenly switched from cars to tanks. Those tanks are now being closely watched by a half-dozen American warships that have boxed in the Faina against Somalia’s craggy shore. A Russian frigate is on its way. The Americans are determined not to let the pirates sell the weapons to Islamist insurgents, though it seems getting the tanks off the ship is beyond the pirates’ expertise.

...The trick now seems to be getting all the vested interests on the same page: the ship owner is Israeli; the ship operator is Ukrainian; the ship was registered in Belize; and the sailors are 17 Ukrainians, 2 Russians (on Russian has already died on board) and 1 Latvian.

“I don’t see anything moving,” one person close to the negotiations said on Friday.
Sarah Wants To Go To Michigan

Let Sarah, be Sarah.
Neon On Chrome

My latest project is trying to get a solid picture of trucks at a refueling facility located at Cottonwood and Main, in Woodland. Closeup, the pinkish reflection looks ultra-cool, but unfortunately while I'm creeping up to the fence, I can see an alarmed-looking truck driver, probably thinking: "dad gum towelhead terrist!"

So, just a crap picture so far...
Suspended Baton Twirlers

"I Kissed A Girl" is frowned upon in Van, Texas.
Chumps And Patsies

New marks are eagerly welcomed into the casino:
WASHINGTON (AP) -- With the economy on the brink and elections looming, Congress approved an unprecedented $700 billion government bailout of the battered financial industry on Friday and sent it to President Bush for his certain signature.

The final vote, 263-171 in the House, a comfortable margin that was 58 more votes than it garnered on Monday. The vote capped two weeks of tumult in Congress and on Wall Street, punctuated by daily warnings that the country confronted the gravest economic crisis since the Great Depression if lawmakers failed to act.

Bush was poised to make a statement on the historic vote.

...Even before the measure cleared Congress, the White House sought to dampen optimism of its immediate impact on the economy. "This legislation is to fix a problem in our financial markets," said spokesman Tony Fratto. "It's not sold as giving a boost to the economy, but rather preventing a crisis in our economy... If it works as we hope it will, credit will be able to begin flowing again."

..."How can we have capitalism on the way up and socialism on the way down," said Rep. Jeb Hensarling of Texas, a leader among conservative Republicans who oppose the central thrust of the legislation -- an unprecedented federal intervention into the private capital markets.

...The core of the plan remains little changed from its inception -- the Treasury Department would have $700 billion at its disposal to purchase bad mortage-related securities that are weighing down the balance sheets of institutions that hold them. The flow of credit has slowed, in some cases drying up, threatening the ability of businesses to conduct routine operations or expand.

At the same time, lawmakers have dramatically changed the measure, insisting on greater congressional supervision over the $700 billion, taking measures to protect taxpayers, and insisting on steps to crack down on so-called "golden parachutes" that go to corporate executives whose companies fail.

Earlier in the week, the legislation was altered to expand the federal insurance program for individual bank deposits, and the Securities and Exchange Commission took steps to ease the impact of the questionable mortgage-backed securities on financial institutions.

...Across the Capitol, Senate leaders reacted quickly, deciding to sweeten the bill with a series of popular tax breaks as well as spending on rural schools and disaster aid. They also grafted on a bill to expand mental health coverage under private insurance plans.

At the same time, the change in federal deposit insurance and the action by the SEC on an obscure accounting rule helped produce a steady trickle of converts.
That IS Impressive!

I'd flee too, if I was the shooter:
A Croatian man has impersonated Superman by catching a bullet in his teeth and spitting out the hot lead.

Just like in the comics his attacker fled.

The drama occurred after Stipe and Mirna Cavlovic, both 37, got caught up in a row between two men. One of the men fired at the couple but the bullet ricocheted off Mirna's cheek and got stuck in Stipe's false teeth.

The surprised Stipe then spat out the hot bullet, terrifying his attacker, according to

I thought I was dead for sure," he told police. "I didn't even see the bullet hit my wife. I just saw the flash of the gun's barrel.

"The next thing I knew was something hit my false tooth and I spat out the hot lead. It hurt like hell but we're both still alive."

Police believe he survived because the bullet lost so much speed when it grazed Marla's cheek. She was also uninjured.

The 58-year-old gunman was arrested.
"Conservatives" And Debt

For all their yammering, they are just a bunch of drunken sailors.
Aye, Matie!

You know, for $700 billion, we could get a kick-ass health care system rather than a bunch of lame-ass CDO's:
Rep. Steven C. LaTourette, R-Ohio, angrily denouncing the Drunken Sailor Bailout Act of 2008 (my words, not his) by mentioning, among other things, that the bill provides a rum tax payment to Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands in the amount of about $192 million over ten years:
At least we have the pirate vote.
So that would not be an “aye” I’m guessing.
Yolo County Wins!

Selection from Bev Sykes' article regarding the Ellys:
The Davis Musical Theatre Company took home three awards for its production of 'La Cage aux Folles.'

Ryan Adame won the award for actor in a lead role for his performance as Albin, star of the La Cage Club, and his alter ego, the drag queen dubbed 'Zaza.'

'I fell in love with the character,' Adame said. 'He's just a person; there's a flamboyance to him, but every person has his quirks. His might be a little more out there than the average person, but what's so wonderful is that he's part of a family and just wants to have a normal life.'

Adame, who performed Albin's 'I Am What I Am' during the awards ceremony, was very surprised at his win.

'I don't devote all the time I spend after work and school to get something for it, but it's always nice to get some recognition for your hard work,' he said. 'It's important to me that I received this award for a DMTC show. I did my first show with DMTC five years ago, and I've had many opportunities because of what this company has allowed me to do.'

Adame also was pleased to see choreographer Ron Cisneros and costumer Jean Henderson both acknowledged for their work on the same show.

'I can't ever be grateful enough to Ron, for giving me the chance to play this role,' Adame said, 'and Jean has always been wonderful to me.'

This marked a second triumph for Henderson, honored last year for her costumes for DMTC's 'Camelot.' The 13-time nominee is proud of her win.

'It was a lot of hard work,' she said. 'It was glitzy and totally different from anything I've ever done. It was stressful at times, but I don't do this for the awards. I get to meet so many nice people, and we had a great cast for this show.'

DMTC founder Steve Isaacson, himself a nominee for his lighting design for 'The Secret Garden' - which he feels was one of DMTC's better shows - was happy with the acknowledgment for his company.

'To be recognized by our peers is very special,' he said. 'Winning an award is just the icing on the cake.'

Director Jason Hammond took home an Elly for his set design for the Woodland Opera House production of 'Sarah, Plain and Tall,' a young people's production that garnered nine nominations and also a costume design award for Angela Shellhammer and Lauren Austin.

'I like doing things that aren't done a lot,' said Hammond, who had fun creating a show that was new to him. 'I like doing things I haven't seen before, so I can take an artistic stab at it. Sometimes there's a lot of recycling in community theater.'

Although pleased about his win, he admitted, 'You don't want to base your whole production on winning an award. I always let the cast know that nominations and awards are just based on someone's opinion ... but it's very nice to win, too!

'This was a fun show, and everyone in the cast made the story so natural, that people believed it.'
This Man Asks For Directions

Directly, forcefully:
That's what happened to a Bronx man yesterday, when he became [lost and] befuddled as he left a West 43rd Street parking garage at about 8 a.m. and made a right turn into the front of a Hagstrom Map shop next door, smashing the plate glass to smithereens.
Steve Wynn On The Bailout

Interestingly, Steve Wynn condemns no one, but is still against the bailout:
Steve Wynn: I think I understand the nature and the heart and soul of the liquidity crisis we face. I believe we got there because good business self-interest and good business sense got out of line and incorrectly focused. If you were a financial company, it became very good business to do as many deals as possible with as much volume as possible, because most of the companies were making a spread. There was a very unusual situation in our country where credit could be passed on from a lender to a third party. I am speaking of investment banks, savings and loans and regular banks. They could print paper in the form of a home mortgage or financing for the acquisition of a company and that sort of thing.

And that paper would be resold after big fees were charged to investment funds and mutual funds and all of the other pockets of money that are created in our economy by 401ks and pension plans and things of that sort. There is this huge cash flow of money every month that goes into funds that have invested in them to fulfill their charters. And in the case of home mortgages, it was the Mac and the Mae. And there was encouragement for everyone to do this. First, politically from the government, Mac and Mae were encouraged to give everybody in America a home.

Secondly, this ability to pass on a credit. The bigger the credit, the bigger your fee, the bigger your bonus. And every intelligent business person in the world did exactly what any other intelligent business person would do. They did bigger deals for more fees and more bonuses to make more money for their enterprises and themselves. They resold these things to funds or to the government until everybody was so filled and so out of cash that it started to back up on itself. When the music stopped, there weren't enough chairs for all the people holding the paper.

The liquidity crisis was exacerbated by the fact that banks and savings and loans are regulated by law in terms of the equity they have to keep in their reserves. So agencies step in and shut them down, or they are completely trapped by insolvency: The liquidity crisis takes its toll.

These were not stupid people. These were not greedy people. They were just people acting naturally. One of the groups acting naturally were all of the folks who wanted a home they could not afford. Or the folks who had a home and got a phone call from some dope telling them their home was worth twice what they paid for it (without seeing it or knowing anything about your neighborhood) followed up by another dope calling saying, based on that appraisal, "I will loan you 100% of the money." This allowed the home builders, in effect, to conduct an auction and say, "Pay $400,000 for this $250,000 home or four other people want to buy it. Why not? It's no money down."

There were no victims here. They were people caught up in a short-term explosion of unfocused self-interest. Short-term thinking. They borrowed long term and invested short term. It was the consumer public, the home buyers and the home lenders, and the politicians who encouraged everybody that prosperity was unlimited. It was a great weekend party and there was no Monday morning. Now we come to this.

Well, I hate to disagree with politicians, but it wasn't greedy, nasty, dishonest people who did this. This was anybody who borrowed from a bank for a price they could not afford. They were not greedy or dishonest. They were acting in a very instinctive and human way. Discipline had been removed from the system, and intelligence was perverted or misdirected. And now is the time to fix it, and you fix it in the same place it happened: in the communities at the root of the problem. It is too big a bundle of stuff to hand over to the government in mass by having them buy it.

Q: You mean the mortgages?

A: Yes, the mortgages. Government can't handle it. It is too complicated and it is too tricky. They will misprice it again and create another problem down the road. These things should be ironed out by people on the ground. Pretend this is a failed savings and loan association where the executives could not handle it and got confused. The government steps in with a proffered that is designed to meet the minimum amount of the liquidity needed to preserve the enterprise. The equity provided a proffered stock can be leveraged at 4, 5, 6 or even 7 times to 1 and so they start lending again.

But the proffered has teeth in it. It says that all loans made hereafter will have a certain equity to loan ratio, that the loan amount must be limited to a certain percentage of the monthly established income of the lender, that there cannot be a 100% loan on an asset, and that nothing but plain operating expenses and minimal salaries are to be paid to every employee including senior management and directors until and unless the proffered dividend is paid to the proffered shareholder.

This equity on the proffered is perpetual for a very important reason: It gives government a chance to decide how much it wants to be paid when redemption time comes around. Normal proffered carries a redemption time period of like 10 or 15 years. But this proffered is perpetual, which means the seller of the proffered, in this case Uncle Sam, the taxpayers of America, get to decide what we want.

Now, what happens is that all the loan executives have to eat the loans. They have to write them off, which means their stock goes through the floor. Then one thing will always happen: Somebody will evaluate the enterprise as a whole and understand that under a worst-case these homes are worth 2X and I can buy them for 1X and purchase the stock. He will buy this savings and loan and run it efficiently with new management and he is totally incentivized to pay off Uncle Sam. He doesn't want to have the proffered over his head. He wants to declare a dividend. He is going to make it worth enough to buy back the proffered so he can get his hands on the real money. And every one of these loans has a value. It may be 40% of what it was issued at or it may be 60% or 30% of it or maybe 20%. But there is value.

But to say that Uncle Sam can sort through hundreds of billions of dollars of these things and price them properly is one of the most immature, unsophisticated judgments anyone can make. Have I clarified my position for you?
Debate Post-Mortem

I saw or heard portions of the debate. I agree with Joan Walsh here. When Palin started talking about "General McClellan", instead of a dunderhead error, for a moment I thought (like George W. Bush did with 'Dred Scott' in 2004) that maybe she was placing into the record an obscure Civil-War-related dogwhistle reference that only the anti-abortion crowd could figure out:
Joe Biden and Sarah Palin were talking to two different Americas Thursday night. Actually, that's unfair to Joe Biden; he was trying to talk to everyone. I can say for certain, though, that Sarah Palin was talking to -- and winking at -- her own private Idaho, and for long stretches of the debate, it was an unnerving experience.

...But the pit bull in lipstick was back. After her disarming "Hey, can I call you Joe?" Palin was vicious, with a winning smile. After a passionate Biden plea to "walk with me in my neighborhood," in Delaware and Scranton, where "the middle class has gotten the short end," she ridiculed him: "Say it ain't so, Joe, there you go again! Pointing backwards again!"

There were two key moments for me when Sarah Palin blew it badly. One was substantive, one was symbolic. The substantive was her bizarre statement about being happy that Dick Cheney had expanded the powers of the vice-presidency, and wanting to expand the powers more. I think that's what she said, it was one of many moments I didn't entirely understand her point, but I got her overall meaning. Biden came back with a decisive: "Vice President Cheney has been the most dangerous vice president in American history," and he defended the existing limits on vice-presidential power. Point: Biden. Big time.

The symbolic moment Palin flubbed was subjective, of course. But I instant-messaged a friend that she lost the debate when Biden choked up over losing his wife and child in a car accident in which his sons were critically injured -- and she went straight back into "John McCain is a maverick." I truly expected her to express human sympathy with Biden, and her failure to do so showed me something deeply wrong with her. But maybe that's just me.

She made other mistakes that others have already caught: She called the top commander in Afghanistan "General McClellan"; his name is David McKiernan. She said the troop levels in Iraq are down to pre-surge levels; they're not. She simply didn't answer a lot of the questions. Moderator Gwen Ifill tried to pull her back, but Palin is stubborn; she had her talking points, and she stuck to them.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Wow! Apparently The Cop Agreed It Was A Mistake!

Taser trouble:
NEW YORK - The man was naked, teetering on a building ledge and jabbing at police with an 8-foot-long fluorescent light bulb as a crowd gathered below.

Lt. Michael Pigott responded by ordering an officer to fire a stun gun at the man, who froze and plunged headfirst to his death in a scene captured on amateur video and replayed frequently on the Internet.

The officer was remorseful and distraught. He apologized and sought the family's forgiveness. Then he went to his unit's headquarters Thursday morning and fatally shot himself, just hours before the family laid the victim to rest.
Five Times The Going Rate

Larry Flynt is in a hurry to make a Sarah Palin flick:
Debi Diamond told us she commends Flynt's hustle to get the movie made:

Larry gets right on top of things! I wish I looked like Sarah Palin, I'd love to do it!
[Update] It's worse than I thought - FIVE films in the works!
Don't Throw Anything Away For A Year

Interesting concept:
For the past nine months (since Jan. 1), the lanky Hollywood cameraman has been filling his basement with every single thing he would ordinarily recycle or toss into the trash.

For his scientific/social experiment Chameides keeps a running tally of his waste and documents it for all the world to see courtesy of his blog. On July 26, for example, his waste stream included one toilet paper tube, two plastic food containers, one plastic vitamin-water bottle and two paper sugar packets. (Of those items, everything would be placed neatly into a pile of recyclables, except for the sugar packets, which went into his worm composting bin.)

Yes, for one whole year, Chameides’ basement will hold everything: stacks of newspapers, magazines, dozens of plastic and glass bottles and containers, and, of course, trash—31 pounds thus far. Curiosity is one obvious reason for conducting the experiment, but the main reason boils down to his concern for the Earth.

“I realized I wasn’t being responsible,” said Chameides, an Emmy-winning TV cameraman who spoke at Chico State University last week.
Dyer's Been In Alaska

Dyer's posted lots of photos, from Day 1 through Day 6. Dyer writes:
On Sept. 7-14, I went on a trip to Alaska to photograph brown bears in Katmai National Park. I took a lot of photos and the trip was very enjoyable and successful. As I work my way through the photos chronologically, I'll post something from each day of the trip. I've just put some photos up for day one.

The itinerary of the trip was to fly to Anchorage and then take a couple of smaller planes to get to Brooks Lodge in Katmai, stay there 4 nights photographing grizzly bears and then fly back to Anchorage and thus home. Because the weather is somewhat unpredictable, we left a couple of days buffer on each end of the Katmai flights in case of delays.

We didn't have any delays and put the buffer days to good use by exploring Seward and Kenai Fjords during the arrival buffer, and Homer during the departure buffer.

Stocks Slammed

Off 348.22
Continuing With The Theme Of Admiral Ackbar...

There's got to be a way of making money off this $700 billion bailout....
RIP, Choi Jin Sil

Korea startled by her death.

Steve Fossett's plane found.
Rolling With Events

I like this woman's attitude:

Monique Rozanes Torres Aguero of Buenos Aires had wanted to travel to Sydney, Australia, but ended up instead in the former coal and steel mill town of Sydney, Nova Scotia.

The mix-up, due to inattention while booking flights online, became evident when she boarded a small propeller plane in Halifax that would take her on the last leg of her journey.

"She was taking pictures out the airplane window and said to herself, 'Something is not right,''' local resident Christiane Tanner, who befriended the accidental tourist, told the Cape Breton Post.

But rather than make a fuss, Torres decided to stay and make the best of her trip.

"When things happen, you let them happen,'' she said through an interpreter.
Palin/Biden Debate Expectations

Very high expectations! Pure fun is anticipated! Everyone seems to be expecting something different tonight, however:
Sarah Palin’s recent abysmal interviews are a canard. She is not the vapid, seemingly na├»ve and inexperienced candidate we have been led to believe. The bar of expectation has been deliberately lowered so low that once in front of the debate lectern, she will stun Biden with her slick, pat answers, leaving him flustered and trampled by the hockey mom turned-governor from Alaska.


I can't get over this clip of Sarah Palin on CBS with Katie Couric. No, it's not her infamous Russia answer nor her inexplicable financial bailout response. It's not her latest admission that she doesn't really read any newspapers (my God woman, just name your local paper in Alaska! How dumb are you?). It's an overlooked clip from the original Couric interview about Hamas. This answer should simply disqualify her from the race. Game over. Go home.


Whatever goes down in tomorrow 's VP debate, I say Biden needs to pound one message over and over: McCain-Palin = Bush.


As some conservative writers such as Kathleen Parker have called into question Sarah Palin ability to become the next vice president of the United States where she wrote, “Palin’s recent interviews with Charles Gibson, Sean Hannity, and now Katie Couric have all revealed an attractive, earnest, confident candidate. Who Is Clearly Out Of Her League.” While that may raise the eye-brows of some: What terrifies me and I have written of it before is her willingness to go to war with Russia which is a superpower in its own right who does have at its disposal nuclear war heads.
The issues are getting stark too:
Think of this as the month when Fannie and Freddie entered everyday speech as something other than friendly names, when Americans realized that WaMu wasn't an over-performing Orca at SeaWorld but a massive failing savings bank, and that Wachovia wasn't a watch brand, but a finance group, as well as the fourth largest bank holding company in the U.S.


The Senate has voted to spend money it does not have to give the executive branch powers it cannot safely be given -- all in order to dump OUR money on a bunch of billionaire bankers, all motivated by a bunch of fear-mongering lies and the legalized bribery of campaign contributions.


The meltdown of the U.S. Financial Industry, and its subsequent bailout by Congress, is a harbinger of a future when corporate forces will control the world’s resources and use them to control populations. Never, in U.S. history, have the People’s Representatives been so brazenly disloyal to their sworn pledge to hold the people’s interests above all others.


Following the astounding rejection of Henry Paulson's speculator bailout plan in the U.S. House of Representatives on Monday, a wave of doomsday propaganda from Washington, both presidential candidates and the media has flooded the airwaves — all aimed at trying to force public opinion to support handing over $700 billion to Wall Street, no strings attached. Barack Obama, who has raked in $10 million from investment firms, has even issued a statement questioning the patriotism of the Democrats and Republicans who dared to vote with the public and against the Wall Street bailout. He claims they are refusing to "do what's right for this country."
And what should we do? Well, until Election Day, we can enjoy the show, like this fellow did with the first Obama/McCain debate:
What I wanted to do most is stick a broom handle in front of the old turtle's face. McCain would have clamped on it, hissing violently, back feet kicking, shredding the wood with his little yellow teeth. Trust me, he would have done it. I know. I caught a large snapping turtle in the woods when I was in grade school, and it did exactly that. And it had exactly the same reptilian eyes Old Nasty does, except the turtle's were brighter and more reflective.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

RIP, Ed Newman

(Family in NM: My sister Marra's father-in-law)

A nice man, whom we will all miss.....
Advanced Directive

OK, this form says:
Part I of this form lets you name someone to make healthcare decisions for you in the event you are unable to do so. This part also lets you limit the authority that your spokesperson has regarding your care.
Paperwork, paperwork!

OK. Gabe is my spokesperson. If incapacitated, I wish to be shot from the mouth of a cannon. I forbid Gabe to shoot me at maritime targets.

That should do for now.....
The Wilhelm Scream

And it's relation to politics, and the upcoming Palin/Biden debate:
That is, that when stuck, they'll often: 1) repeat back some of the words in the question to establish that they're "answering" it; 2) parry by steering the frame of their answers toward a talking point that bears some relation to the subect of the question; 3) spray some transitional buzzwords that help them segue from what they were asked to what they have prepared to say, and; 4) deliver the focus group-tested answer they originally planned, even if it's kind of a non-sequitur.
Icon For Our Times

Like Jackie Kennedy - a talisman:

Bruce Elliott has painted a nude portrait of Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin and hung it above the Old Town Ale House, where it's now a prime attraction among his display of more than 200 celebrity portraits and other racy art.

Elliott's wife, Tobin Mitchen, owns the bar on Chicago's North Side,

Palin became Elliott's muse after he saw her on TV.

"I've been following her religiously," he said Monday at the bar. "I had never heard of her before, like everyone else. I find her bizarrely fascinating, even though I pretty much despise everything she stands for."
Steve Fossett Update

Tantalizing clues:
Tattered and crumpled on the ground, the Mammoth Lakes local found what appears to be two FAA cards that listed the name Steve Fossett, both were apparently either issued or had some sort of connection to the State of Illinois. The two cards were found with a small amount of money and not far away, a sweat jacket, also a bit worn and beaten up from the weather.
September Madness

Go team!
Two Minutes Hate....

...Reserved for Kathleen Parker, who wrote just one article critical of Sarah Palin, and now finds herself menaced by Right-Wing Enforcers.

Sorry, no sympathy from me. As these folks note:
Parker flings two decades worth of poo at liberals, including the suggestion that the entire field of Democratic presidential nominees be assassinated, and never reports getting hateful vicious threats. She then writes a single column suggesting Sarah Palin should step down and receives a box full' o' hate.
Like one commenter notes: "Karma".
The Apocalypse Is Nigh III

Knock - knock - knock - knock.

Hmmm. Someone is at the door. Who could it be?

Aha! It's the Jehovah Witnesses! Last time I had an extended conversation with them was about 1986. I was house-sitting in Tucson, and at that time, they were very interested in the subjects of gays, AIDS, and tainted blood. Twenty-two years have passed. What-up now?

From 2 Timothy 3:
This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.

For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,

Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,

Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;

Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.

For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts,

Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith.

But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as their's also was.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

"The Lion King" For Mandalay Bay

To follow "Mamma Mia":
It's official. After a long run ending in January, Mandalay Bay has just confirmed ... that "The Lion King" will be the replacement show entering the theater after "Mamma Mia." Unlike "Jersey Boys" and "Phantom: The Las Vegas Spectacular," the Vegas version of "The Lion King" will not be altered particularly for the Strip. According to the press release:
Mandalay Bay’s production of THE LION KING will be virtually identical to the other companies seen around the globe and will be staged with all of the same spectacular music, sets, and costumes that have made it a worldwide phenomenon.
Even A Stopped Clock Is Right Twice-A-Day

Like Rush says:
God bless the House Republicans. God bless 'em, folks. This whole thing was a setup.
Current Electoral Map

The human mind is a strange thing. In 2004, I was obsessed at looking at this Web Site, because it seemed to be showing a Kerry victory until the very last instant. Since then, I've had a irrational fear of this Web Site, the same way the folks who survived that 1989 Sioux City airline crash, by being tossed into a corn field, nevertheless developed an irrational fear of corn.

One must face one's fears head-on....

Seems to be showing an Obama victory at the moment....

Lucy with the football, Lucy with the football....
Let's Find A Scapegoat

Like my Hot Topic T-Shirt says: "I Didn't Say It Was Your Fault. I Said I'm Blaming You."
Krikorian suggests [WaMu] failed because it was too accommodating to minorities, including gays, African-Americans and Hispanics.

In his September 26th post titled 'Cause and Effect?', Krikorian writes, “I really thought this was a joke, but it's not. WaMu's final press release, before it sank beneath the waves.”

The press release lists the general accomplishments of WaMu in diversifying its workforce, including earning a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign's Corporate Equality Index – a rating indicative of the gay-friendliness of a company's official policies.
The Apocalypse Doesn't Have To Be Nigh

Jeffrey Miron sounds reasonable:
The current mess would never have occurred in the absence of ill-conceived federal policies. The federal government chartered Fannie Mae in 1938 and Freddie Mac in 1970; these two mortgage lending institutions are at the center of the crisis. The government implicitly promised these institutions that it would make good on their debts, so Fannie and Freddie took on huge amounts of excessive risk.

Worse, beginning in 1977 and even more in the 1990s and the early part of this century, Congress pushed mortgage lenders and Fannie/Freddie to expand subprime lending. The industry was happy to oblige, given the implicit promise of federal backing, and subprime lending soared.

This subprime lending was more than a minor relaxation of existing credit guidelines. This lending was a wholesale abandonment of reasonable lending practices in which borrowers with poor credit characteristics got mortgages they were ill-equipped to handle.

...The fact that government bears such a huge responsibility for the current mess means any response should eliminate the conditions that created this situation in the first place, not attempt to fix bad government with more government.

The obvious alternative to a bailout is letting troubled financial institutions declare bankruptcy. Bankruptcy means that shareholders typically get wiped out and the creditors own the company.

Bankruptcy does not mean the company disappears; it is just owned by someone new (as has occurred with several airlines). Bankruptcy punishes those who took excessive risks while preserving those aspects of a businesses that remain profitable.

In contrast, a bailout transfers enormous wealth from taxpayers to those who knowingly engaged in risky subprime lending. Thus, the bailout encourages companies to take large, imprudent risks and count on getting bailed out by government. This "moral hazard" generates enormous distortions in an economy's allocation of its financial resources.

...Talk of Armageddon, however, is ridiculous scare-mongering. If financial institutions cannot make productive loans, a profit opportunity exists for someone else. This might not happen instantly, but it will happen.

Further, the current credit freeze is likely due to Wall Street's hope of a bailout; bankers will not sell their lousy assets for 20 cents on the dollar if the government might pay 30, 50, or 80 cents.

The costs of the bailout, moreover, are almost certainly being understated. The administration's claim is that many mortgage assets are merely illiquid, not truly worthless, implying taxpayers will recoup much of their $700 billion.

If these assets are worth something, however, private parties should want to buy them, and they would do so if the owners would accept fair market value. Far more likely is that current owners have brushed under the rug how little their assets are worth.
The Apocalypse Used To Be Nigh

Gabe, the divorce rate is not "increasing exponentially." It used to be increasing exponentially, but then fell afoul of Stein's Law:
Stein was the formulator of "Herbert Stein's Law," which he expressed as "If something cannot go on forever, it will stop," by which he meant that if a trend (balance of payments deficits in his example) cannot go on forever, there is no need for action or a program to make it stop, much less to make it stop immediately; it will stop of its own accord. It is often rephrased as: "Trends that can't continue, won't."
The Apocalypse Is Nigh II

What will happen if there is no bailout? Hillary Clinton isn't even as optimistic as the kangaroo farmers:
The New York Democrat, who nearly won her party's presidential nomination, said she believes public opposition to the bailout deal may be weakening after the market reacted badly to the failed House vote Monday and more businesses express worries about the future.

"It sounds dire but there is a risk that commerce could grind to a halt," she said.
The Apocalypse Is Nigh

But I don't think eating kangaroos will help that much:
With food prices to rise, Professor Garnaut predicts households will "move away" from beef and lamb, "towards less emissions-intensive meat, such as chicken and pork".

Citing research, he said kangaroo meat "could again become important".

He said that if a way to reduce methane emissions from livestock wasn't found, seven million cattle and 36 million sheep could be replaced by 175 million farmed kangaroos.

..."It's not an easy solution for Australia or the rest of the world," Professor Garnaut said.

"But there's a chance, just a chance, that humanity will deal with this matter in a way that future generations judge to be satisfactory.

"If we fail . . . the failure of our generation will haunt humanity until the end of time."
Secretary Of Treasury Paulson Song

And what's this trouble with Newt Gingrich? Staggering hypocrisy!:
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich was working aggressively behind the scenes to defeat the Wall Street rescue plan minutes before he himself released a public statement in support of the package, NBC's Andrea Mitchell reported on Tuesday.

Gingrich was whipping up votes for the opposition, Mitchell said, apparently without the knowledge of the current GOP leader, John Boehner, who was responsible for recruiting enough support from his caucus to help ensure the bill's passage. Ultimately, the GOP was only able to rally roughly a third of its members.

"Newt Gingrich," she said on MSNBC, "I am told reliably by leading Republicans who are close to him, he was whipping against this up until the last minute, when he issued that face-saving statement. Newt Gingrich was telling people in the strongest possible language that this was a terrible deal, not only that it was a terrible deal, it was a disaster, it was the end of democracy as we know, it was socialism -- and then at the last minute [he] comes out with a statement when the vote is already in place."

Indeed, as Mitchell noted, shortly before the bill's failure, Gingrich "reluctantly" came out in favor of its passage: "Therefore, while I am discouraged at the final collapse of the Bush Administration, and frustrated by the Democrats' passion for the taxpayer's money, I would reluctantly and sadly vote for the bailout were I still in office."
The Treasury Secretary Paulson Dance

(Or something like that.)
Gasoline Problems In The Southeast

Walt reports:
Since September 12 and Ike, gasoline has been very hard to find around here. The price went up about 80 cents on the 12th, and since then, most gas stations have no gas. The price has actually come down a little - today it's only about 25 cents higher than it was before Ike, but it is hard to find. When a gas station gets a delivery, people call each other on their cell phones, and the place runs out in a few hours.
What's going on? Here is an article describing the problem:
ATLANTA — A storm-related gas shortage in the Southeast that has left some places bone-dry and others with two-hour gas lines is expected to continue for at least another two weeks, energy experts and industry officials say.

The shortage began two weeks after Hurricane Gustav hit the oil-refining regions of the Gulf Coast on Sept. 1. Operations that shut down before that storm were just coming back online when Hurricane Ike hit, forcing another shutdown. The gas shortage, now in its third week, is particularly acute here in sprawling Atlanta, in Nashville in parts of the Carolinas and in Anniston, Ala.

"I don't go anywhere once I find some and get my tank filled up," says Alicia Woods, 32, who waited 45 minutes to fill up Sunday morning at a QuikTrip in Cobb County, Ga. "Going out, visiting friends, all that just has to wait. I have to keep my gas for getting back and forth to work."

...The pipelines that supply the region are operating at less than normal capacity, due largely to storm-related power outages at Texas refineries, said Kenneth Medlock, energy fellow at the Baker Institute, a non-partisan public policy think tank at Rice University in Houston.

The Southeast, the only region of the nation that has no oil refining or major gasoline storage capacity, pumps all of its gasoline in by pipeline, he said.

"In isolation, neither of these storms would have been that big a deal, because there's enough inventory (at stations) to make up the shortfall," said Medlock. "But there was a three- to four-week period of refinery capacity not operating. That's basically a month when nothing's being produced."

Monday, September 29, 2008

Show Ecktoteam /Electrodance Toulouse

Once again, I am caught napping! I haven't been clubbing enough lately!

I was vaguely aware of Electro in dance music, but I was unaware of "Electro Dance".

You know that feeling. You are dancing on a crowded dance floor, and you say to yourself, "Self, this is one crowded dance floor - I can hardly move! What can I do to shake things up?"

Well, this French innovation is just the thing! By focusing on hands, arms, and footwork, you can make the maximum impression while keeping body movements rather minimal, and thus avoid stepping on other people. Perfect for the crowded dance floor!

I wonder how big a movement this is? As an example, these "Dance Generation" folks in Portland want to encourage Americans to join "Electro Dance".
Wrong Response, Thanks To Tasers

When your only tool is a hammer, everything else looks like a nail!

Police forces tend to see tasers as cure-alls. So, when this irrational man posed a menace (mostly to himself), the police tasered him, leading to the feared disaster:
Police fired a Taser at a naked Brooklyn man armed with only a fluorescent light tube yesterday, sending him falling to his death from a second-floor ledge after he went on a 40-minute rant.

...With police shouting for him to get down, Morales made his way to a ledge above a the gate.

"Walk down now! Move down!" the police can be heard shouting to him on video.

He then picked up the light tube and waved it in the air before jabbing cops who had climbed out of the windows above.

"When he was poking the cop, people were laughing," Johnson said.

He refused orders from the officers and continued his incoherent tirade.

Finally, one of the ESU cops on the street shot him with the Taser.

"He just fell face first," said witness Sean Brown. "People were screaming and yelling. It was wrong."

It was unclear what set off the episode, but, said Johnson, "once he started hitting the cop with that pole, that's when it turned serious."
Dinosaur/Bird Links

I was under the impression that birds have a less-efficient breathing apparatus than mammals (because there are fewer bronchial branches leading to alveoli), but this article maintains the opposite:
A huge carnivorous dinosaur that lived about 85 million years ago had a breathing system much like that of today's birds, a new analysis of fossils reveals, reinforcing the evolutionary link between dinos and modern birds.

The finding sheds light on the transition between theropods (a group of two-legged carnivorous dinosaurs) and the emergence of birds. Scientists think birds evolved from a group of theropods called maniraptors, some 150 million years ago during the Jurassic period, which lasted from about 206 million to 144 million years ago.

...The scans showed small openings in the vertebrae, clavicles (chest bone that forms the wishbone) and hip bones that led into large, hollow spaces. When the dinosaur lived, the hollow spaces would have been lined with soft tissue and filled with air. These chambers resembled such features found in the same bones of modern birds.

...Modern birds have rigid lungs that don't expand and contract like ours. Instead, a system of air sacs pumps air through the lungs. This novel feature is the reason birds can fly higher and faster than bats, which, like all mammals, expand their lungs in a less efficient breathing process.

Other avian air sacs line the spinal column and are thought to lighten birds' skeletal bones, also making flight easier.

"We're beginning to learn more about how the specialized respiratory system of the birds evolved by tracing some of the steps in their ancient relatives," Wilson told LiveScience. "And the cool thing is these animals look nothing like birds."
DJI Slips 777.7

A nice number, not like 666.6
McCain Bought Into The Bailout?

Really? Jeebus, what a chump!:
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and his top aides took credit for building a winning bailout coalition – hours before the vote failed and stocks tanked.

The rush to claim he had engineered a victory now looks like a strategic blunder that will prolong the McCain’s campaign’s difficulty in finding a winning message on the economy.

Shortly before the vote, McCain had bragged about his involvement and mocked Sen. Barack Obama for staying on the sidelines.

“I've never been afraid of stepping in to solve problems for the American people, and I'm not going to stop now,” McCain told a rally in Columbus, Ohio. “Sen. Obama took a very different approach to the crisis our country faced. At first he didn't want to get involved. Then he was monitoring the situation.”

McCain, grinning, flashed a sarcastic thumbs up.
The Rogue Trader's "Voodoo Child" At Melbourne's Federation Square

I posted this nine months ago, but the song's hook is so deep in my brain I can't escape.

Last I knew, The (Adelaide-Australia born) Rogue Traders dissolved, with lead singer Natalie Bassingthwaighte moving to LA to find bigger fame, but I haven't heard from her since.

It causes me physical pain to know that Natalie Bassingthwaighte may be somewhere in California and that I don't know where to find her.....
Republicans Blame Nancy Pelosi

But Barney Frank responds in a way that is just hysterical.
The Bailout As Farce

Why does this not surprise me?:
A veteran Sacramento mortgage banker who has been lobbying Congress to pass the $700 billion bailout has been accused of defrauding 11 of his former branch managers and embezzling $879,000 from them in the collapse of his Folsom mortgage brokerage in 2007.

The allegations against John A. Courson, owner of the defunct Folsom-based Central Pacific Mortgage Co., are described in a civil lawsuit filed last year by eight of Central Pacific's former branch managers in California, two in Maryland and one in Florida.

Courson, 66, is chief operating officer of the Mortgage Bankers Association of America in Washington, D.C. The industry group's members include 2,400 companies and 370,000 people from the real estate finance world: mortgage companies and brokers, banks, thrifts and insurance companies.

As chief operating officer, Courson is the leader – and public voice – for the association, which spent $2.2 million and employed nine lobbyists in Washington during the first six months of 2008, federal lobbying filings show.

Last week, Courson sent letters to House and Senate members urging them to support quick passage of legislation that would enable the Treasury to purchase billions in distressed mortgage-related assets from companies in the mortgage finance world.

Courson also issued a widely quoted statement urging legislators to stop bickering.

"We would encourage both parties and both chambers to set aside the issues that will only bog down the process and pass a clean bill that will stabilize the markets and help keep families in their homes without permanently damaging the real estate finance system."

...Through a spokeswoman, he declined a request to be interviewed about the embezzlement and fraud allegations.

"John has decided we're not doing interviews on this particular topic," MBA spokeswoman Cheryl Crispen said.

...Last year, Courson also was accused of a $1.6 million civil fraud by Lehman Brothers Bank of New York, the giant Wall Street investment bank that filed for bankruptcy protection two weeks ago.
The Bailout Goes Down In Flames

Good! Good! Nancy Pelosi changes gears in this speech. After helping facilitate bailout process for a week, she goes on the attack here against this toxic byproduct of the Bush Administration.

Larry Summers was just on NPR saying that now was the time for action and now wasn't the time for educating people. But people don't learn unless they LOSE MONEY. We've got tons of moral hazard out there. Let the learning begin!

(Please leave my 401K out of this particular educational process, however.)

But like a vampire, this monstrosity has a thousand lives. Let's see what happens next!
"Fiddler On The Roof" - Third Weekend

Left: "Some people are driven away by edicts - others by silence." Tevye (Jeff Nauer), Fyedka (Trevor Hoffman), Chava (Shannon Kendall).

Below: Motel's new sewing machine. Tzeitel (Amanda Yount), Motel (Brennan Ballard, obscured), Golde (Jan Isaacson), Schprintze (Ana Hansen).

Left: "If I Were A Rich Man" - Tevye (Jeff Nauer).

Below: "Sabbath Prayer": Perchik (Giorgio Selvaggio), Motel the Tailor (Brennan Ballard), Tevye (Jeff Nauer), Golde (Jan Isaacson), Tzeitel (Amanda Yount), Chava (Shannon Kendall), Bielke (Lauren Mills), Schprintze (Ana Hansen).

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

Below: Tevye (Jeff Nauer), Perchik (Giorgio Selvaggio), and Hodel (Josephine Longo).

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

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

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

Left: Hodel (Josephine Longo), at the instant of Perchik's proposal of marriage.

Below: Chava (Shannon Kendall).

Left: Tevye (Jeff Nauer), Chava (Shannon Kendall), and The Fiddler (Lindsay Carpenter).

Left: Golde (Jan Isaacson) and Tzeitel (Amanda Yount).

Left: Golde (Jan Isaacson) and Tzeitel (Amanda Yount).

Left: Motel (Brennan Ballard), Yente (Dannette Vassar), Golde (Jan Isaacson), and Tzeitel (Amanda Yount).

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

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Congratulations Ryan Adame!

Left: "La Cage Aux Folles" - Ryan Adame as 'Zaza', and Tim Stewart as 'Angelique.'

I was not able to go to the Elly Awards Ceremony Sunday night, but I knew Herb was having a party afterwards at his place, so I hurried over, arriving at 10:50 p.m.

Alas, all but one of the guests had already departed, but that one remaining person was none other than Ryan Adame himself, who apparently won the Elly for leading actor in a musical!

Mazeltov! (Or whatever the suitable St. Tropez equivalent should be!) And Ryan won against the fiercest competition too!

But Ryan was not the only one to be awarded. Ron Cisneros won for choreography of "La Cage" and Jean Henderson won for Costume Design!

At RSP, Pam Kay Lourentzos won for choreography of both "Thoroughly Modern Millie" AND "All Shook Up" (but her brilliant choreography of "Jesus Christ Superstar" was overlooked by the SARTA folks). Bob Baxter won for directing "All Shook Up". Michael RJ Campbell won for supporting actor for "All Shook Up" and Tevye Ditter won for "Thoroughly Modern Millie". And Andrea St. Clair won for supporting actress in "All Shook Up".

Plus others, of course. Many others! The full list is here.

Congratulations to all!
Times Square At The Millenium

Left: I've been working on this 2000-piece jigsaw puzzle for weeks now, and I finally finished!

I've noticed that jigsaw puzzles are a good analgesic for the desire to go gambling at the casino. The only difference is that blackjack seems to have a pattern (but really doesn't), whereas jigsaw puzzles don't seem to have a pattern (but really do).

Plus, jigsaw puzzles seem to be far cheaper than a trip to the casino....
Apparition Of A Carnival

Left: A carnival midway (lower left) and a racetrack oval.

The nighttime flight back from New Mexico, on Southwest Airlines' "Shamu The Whale", featured 3 legs: ABQ-PHX, PHX-ONT, and ONT-SMF.

Flying over the Los Angeles metropolitan area, this magical carnival appeared!

It is probably the Los Angeles County Fair, in Pomona.