Saturday, March 28, 2009

"Into The Woods" - Flying Monkey Productions

Left: Baker's Wife (Kristine Hager) and Baker (Gabe Moctezuma).

Two more shows to go! Catch the show while you can!

Several fine performances. I liked the Princes, Little Red Riding Hood, and the Witch. But most of all, I liked Kristine Hager as the Baker's Wife. She was warm, emotional, and energetic. She owned opening night!

The strangest thing opening night was the spot operator accidentally dropping an iPhone from 12 feet above onto Dannette's ankle, causing her to leave in discomfort.

Left: Cinderella (Corey Bourgeois) and Little Red Riding Hood (Mayme O'Toole).

Left: Baker's Wife (Kristine Hager).

Left: Face off against the Giant. Steward (Jake Randle), Jack's Mother (Josephine Longo), and Witch (Brandi Bozeman).

Left: Witch (Brandi Bozeman).

Below: Cinderella's Prince (Shane Bradley).

Left: Jack's Mother (Josephine Longo), Jack (Blake Thomas), and Milky White (Abigail Bisi).

Left: Jack's Mother (Josephine Longo), Milky White (Abigail Bisi), Baker (Gabe Moctezuma), Baker's Wife (Kristine Hager), and Cinderella's Prince (Shane Bradley).

Left: Rapunzel's Prince (Mark Lillya), with Baker's Wife (Kristine Hager).

Below: Narrator (Spenser Micetich).

Left: Little Red Riding Hood (Mayme O'Toole).

Left: Witch (Brandi Bozeman) and Rapunzel (Meghan Vanderford).

Left: Milky White (Abigail Bisi) and Jack (Blake Thomas).

Left: Milky White (Abigail Bisi), Jack (Blake Thomas), Baker's Wife (Kristine Hager), and Baker (Gabe Moctezuma).

Left: Cinderella (Corey Bourgeois) and Stepsister Florinda (McKinley Carlisle).

Left: Witch (Brandi Bozeman) and Granny (Rebeccah Murray).

Friday, March 27, 2009

Not Over Yet

On Talk Radio on Monday, I heard Rush's substitute for the day, well-known conservative columnist Mark Steyn, get very excited about the Madagascar situation, because the new president is a radio DJ - just like Rush! First Madagascar, then America? People can dream!

Anyway, the Madagascar situation is hardly stable yet:
Thousands of supporters of Madagascar's ex-president Marc Ravalomanana protested Friday in the capital, demanding the return of their leader forced out last week by the army-backed opposition chief.

Police fired warning shots and teargas to prevent clashes between the former president's backers and supporters of the island's new leader Andry Rajoelina, sworn in last week following Ravalomanana's resignation.

The group has been holding a series of rallies in the capital this week against 34-year-old Rajoelina, who took an oath of office as the island's transitional leader on Saturday.

"The big rally is to take place tomorrow," said Alain Andriamiseza, the head of the movement against Rajoelina, who ousted his rival from office after a sustained campaign of protests.
Will The Plagiarist Please Stand Up?

Oh, that's funny! Kathyrn Jean Lopez and Jonah Goldberg both published the same opinion piece and now they seem to be arguing about who was author.
Keeping The Loans Alive

The first time I ever heard of City Center I thought: "These people are out of their freakin' minds! It's the size of a small city!" I'm that close from being proven right!:
MGM Mirage (MGM) made a $200 million payment due Friday to its City Center project, including the $100 million owed by its now-disgruntled partner, to keep the massive resort and casino project from halting construction and potentially falling into bankruptcy.

There had been speculation that City Center, the $8.6 billion Las Vegas development owned by MGM, would miss the payment and file for bankruptcy protection, putting the completion of the massive project in doubt.

...MGM said Friday it would work with Dubai World, its investment partner in the project, and its lenders to find "a long-term solution for the financing of City Center's completion."

Chairman and Chief Executive Jim Murren added, "We are doing our utmost to see that this project continues, keeping thousands of Nevadans employed. We will continue to make every effort to see that City Center is completed."

MGM was sued earlier this week by Dubai World, which alleged the troubled casino operator breached the terms of their venture. MGM has said the suit is "completely without merit." Dubai World has blamed MGM for massive cost overruns on City Center.

The City Center project is a stark example of how excesses spawned during a lengthy gambling boom are coming back to haunt the casino industry. The project is so large that thousands of workers depend on it for jobs. Las Vegas has been reeling from a slump in tourism revenue, as hotel-room occupancy rates have dropped, pushing up unemployment in the region above the national average.

...MGM Mirage, which has a big presence on the Las Vegas Strip, may sell more assets as it races to negotiate new terms with lenders to avoid defaulting its debts. The company already won a waiver from lenders of covenants on its senior credit facility through May 15.
On The "Women's Report"

B3ta's "Question Of The Week" is:
Nativity Plays

Every year the little kids at schools all over get to put on a play. Often it's christmas themed, but the key thing is that everyone gets a part, whether it's Snowflake #12 or Mary or Grendel (yes, really).

Personally I played a 'Rich Husband' who refused to buy matches from some scabby street urchin. Never did see her again...

Who or what did you get to be? And what did you have to wear?
Here is my contribution:
On The "Women's Report"

It was Christmas time in Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA, in 1966. Our 5th-grade teacher, Mr. Chavez, wangled an invitation for our class to stage a Nativity Play on KOAT TV-7, during the "Women's Report", a godawful 15-minute daily segment usually filled with useless society news in an arid town that had hardly any society. The TV segment was hosted by the mother of one of the new kids in the class, a boy whose premature interest in girls had earned him nothing but scorn from the rest of us boys. The entire 3:15-3:30 p.m. slot was handed to us 10-year-old children.

It's disorienting enough to enter a TV studio for the first time, but we were flummoxed by the appearance of Uncle Roy, an obese kiddie show TV clown, who came on-the-air at 4:00 p.m. Uncle Roy already ruled our inner fantasy lives with his cartoons, jokes and zesty manic edge, but in person he seemed morose, inscrutable, and difficult-to-please. We began to panic, first at the idea that Uncle Roy was a human being with a real physical existence, and second that he was there to watch everything we did. Pleasing Uncle Roy would be like appeasing a volcano: there might have to be a sacrifice.

The Nativity Play itself was a blur of stuttering, muffled voices. My friend Byron had vowed that he would never let the camera see his face, and he kept his word. Clad as a shepherd, Byron never stood still, wandering hither and yon across the set, veering away every time the camera's red light indicated it was on. My friend David, one of the Three Kings, forgot his lines and had to be prompted by a girl shepherd wearing a fake beard.

As Narrator, I gamely struggled on, with the camera relentlessly staring me in the face and Uncle Roy visible in the distance behind the camera. Right towards the end of the play, my eyes veered away from the prepared text and I lost my place. By obsessive over-preparation I had somehow managed to memorize the text, however, and I soldiered on despite being lost.

And then it was over. The lights went dark. Uncle Roy had disappeared, his judgment unknown. Uncle Roy's studio audience of excitable kids began entering the studio for his 4:00 p.m. show, but our 15-minutes of fame had expired, and we hit the cold pavement outside just as it began snowing....
A Consumers Report For Pundits

Not a bad idea, really. Maybe make that idiot Tom Friedman go away, among others. And offer prizes of recognition for good sense, so even if someone such as myself can't seem to penetrate Sacramento's Top 25 blogs I can at least make a stab at being the world's best pundit:
Ever wonder how financial experts could lead the world over the economic cliff?

One explanation is that so-called experts turn out to be, in many situations, a stunningly poor source of expertise. There’s evidence that what matters in making a sound forecast or decision isn’t so much knowledge or experience as good judgment — or, to be more precise, the way a person’s mind works.

...The expert on experts is Philip Tetlock, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley. His 2005 book, “Expert Political Judgment,” is based on two decades of tracking some 82,000 predictions by 284 experts. The experts’ forecasts were tracked both on the subjects of their specialties and on subjects that they knew little about.

The result? The predictions of experts were, on average, only a tiny bit better than random guesses — the equivalent of a chimpanzee throwing darts at a board.

“It made virtually no difference whether participants had doctorates, whether they were economists, political scientists, journalists or historians, whether they had policy experience or access to classified information, or whether they had logged many or few years of experience,” Mr. Tetlock wrote.

Indeed, the only consistent predictor was fame — and it was an inverse relationship. The more famous experts did worse than unknown ones. That had to do with a fault in the media. Talent bookers for television shows and reporters tended to call up experts who provided strong, coherent points of view, who saw things in blacks and whites. People who shouted — like, yes, Jim Cramer!

Mr. Tetlock called experts such as these the “hedgehogs,” after a famous distinction by the late Sir Isaiah Berlin (my favorite philosopher) between hedgehogs and foxes. Hedgehogs tend to have a focused worldview, an ideological leaning, strong convictions; foxes are more cautious, more centrist, more likely to adjust their views, more pragmatic, more prone to self-doubt, more inclined to see complexity and nuance. And it turns out that while foxes don’t give great sound-bites, they are far more likely to get things right.

This was the distinction that mattered most among the forecasters, not whether they had expertise. Over all, the foxes did significantly better, both in areas they knew well and in areas they didn’t.

Other studies have confirmed the general sense that expertise is overrated. In one experiment, clinical psychologists did no better than their secretaries in their diagnoses. In another, a white rat in a maze repeatedly beat groups of Yale undergraduates in understanding the optimal way to get food dropped in the maze. The students overanalyzed and saw patterns that didn’t exist, so they were beaten by the rodent.

The marketplace of ideas for now doesn’t clear out bad pundits and bad ideas partly because there’s no accountability. We trumpet our successes and ignore failures — or else attempt to explain that the failure doesn’t count because the situation changed or that we were basically right but the timing was off.

For example, I boast about having warned in 2002 and 2003 that Iraq would be a violent mess after we invaded. But I tend to make excuses for my own incorrect forecast in early 2007 that the troop “surge” would fail.

So what about a system to evaluate us prognosticators? Professor Tetlock suggests that various foundations might try to create a “trans-ideological Consumer Reports for punditry,” monitoring and evaluating the records of various experts and pundits as a public service. I agree: Hold us accountable!
Michelle Bachmann On Sean Hannity

Bachmann also declared: "Economics works equally in any country. Where freedom is tried, the people rejoice. But where tyranny is enforced upon the people, as Barack Obama is doing, the people suffer and mourn."
Well, this is way over-dramatic, but there is a nugget of truth there. What Obama is trying to do isn't impose a tyranny, but rather, save people's pension savings. If we try what Bachmann means by freedom and vote down Obama's plan, people will be shocked, because they will soon discover freedom means poverty. It's honest poverty, which is its saving grace, but poverty nonetheless.

We don't need a revolution, especially if its led by people like Bachmann, but we do need to make a decision. Is Geithner's plan the best for America? Yes or no?

In my view, no. We have to break the stranglehold Wall Street has on the federal government and prevent the onset of a crippling inflation. But do not pretend there will be no consequences for such a choice. Secretaries of the Treasury Paulson and Geithner, utterly different in natures, both wet their pants when they contemplate the failure of this sort of plan.

It's disaster on one hand and catastrophe on the other hand: heart attack or cancer. There is no easy way out.

Let's go with heart attack. Vote down Geithner's plan, let AIG and a host of other firms go bankrupt, and pick up the pieces afterwards.
Decision Trees

Image from barryheadwound at B3ta.
Meanwhile, Back In Ho-Land

There was some shouting male voice next-door last night. Don't know what that was about.

This morning, two women were serenely sharing a cup of coffee on their veranda. Don't know what that was about either.
Trust The Technology

Because it guides you:
A shocked driver is today facing a careless driving charge after his sat-nav left his BMW teetering on the edge of a cliff.

Robert Jones said he trusted the gadget and continued to follow its instructions, even when it took him up a steep, narrow footpath.

He only realised something was wrong when his car hit a fence and came to a stop just inches from a 100ft drop.

The 43-year-old, who works as a delivery driver, described the incident as a 'nightmare'.

He said 'It kept insisting the path was a road, even as it was getting narrower and steeper, so I just trusted it.

'I rely on my sat-nav, I couldn't do without it for my job.

'I guess I'm lucky the car didn't slip all the way over the edge. You don't expect to be taken nearly over a cliff.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Sudan Meteorite Found

John E-Mailed with this news.

I posted something on the meteor alert in October. It's great that they found the meteor's fragments.

It’s even better that they quoted Michael Zolensky in this new article (he was a classmate at NM Tech in the 70's).
Blame Canada

Breath-taking stupidity, in action. Canadians are dying in Afghanistan, and they get treated like this for their sacrifices and trouble? Remember, our own military requires close cooperation with the Canadians - we use their air space and water space and we have military personnel there too. Just another reason why conservativism is a dying political movement.
U.S. Population Density Maps

Like John says:
Pretty cool. You can move the cursor and see growth over time.
No Anger Like Righteous Anger!

Geithner's Plan To Save Wall Street

We are approaching a moment of truth on the proposal for the Treasury to buy up all these 'toxic assets'.

We've been told that failure of Geithner's plan could well destabilize the entire economy. Pension funds and insurance companies, in particular, might suffer.

On the other hand, since the toxic assets are likely worth not nearly so much as people would like to believe, the program would likely be a staggering waste of money. Warren Buffett is right - inflation of the most pernicious sort is likely to result. Moral hazard would be permanently lost as well, turning Wall Street into the biggest welfare tar baby the world has ever seen.

In general, people shy away from the wholesale destruction of financial institutions that mass bankruptcies would cause. On the other hand, the fastest road to recovery usually involves such wholesale destruction, and as quickly as possible too, so as not to waste time. Lack of nerve usually means a torpid recovery (witness Japan's 'Lost Decade').

So, I join the left-wing populists and the right-wing dittoheads wishing the Obama Administration to fail in this particular venture. The stimulus is OK - just not this monstrosity.

Interesting large article by Matt Taibbi:
The crisis was the coup de grĂ¢ce: Given virtually free rein over the economy, these same insiders first wrecked the financial world, then cunningly granted themselves nearly unlimited emergency powers to clean up their own mess. And so the gambling-addict leaders of companies like AIG end up not penniless and in jail, but with an Alien-style death grip on the Treasury and the Federal Reserve — "our partners in the government," as Liddy put it with a shockingly casual matter-of-factness after the most recent bailout.

The mistake most people make in looking at the financial crisis is thinking of it in terms of money, a habit that might lead you to look at the unfolding mess as a huge bonus-killing downer for the Wall Street class. But if you look at it in purely Machiavellian terms, what you see is a colossal power grab that threatens to turn the federal government into a kind of giant Enron — a huge, impenetrable black box filled with self-dealing insiders whose scheme is the securing of individual profits at the expense of an ocean of unwitting involuntary shareholders, previously known as taxpayers.
Toad Day Out

If life hands you a bunch of toxic toads, you may as well grind them up in the bass-o-matic:
For decades, the poisonous cane toad has plagued Australians, breeding rapidly, eating voraciously and bestowing death upon most animals that dare consume it.

So officials came up with a novel _ and, some say, poetic _ solution: hold a festive mass killing of the creatures and turn the corpses into fertilizer for the very farmers who've battled the pests for years.

On Saturday, residents of five communities in cane toad-plagued northern Queensland state will grab their flashlights and fan out into the night to hunt down the hated animals as part of the inaugural "Toad Day Out" celebration. The toads will be brought to collection points the next morning to be weighed and killed, with some of the remains ground into fertilizer for sugarcane farmers at a local waste management plant.

..."The cane toad is probably the most disgusting creature and the most destructive creature," said Queensland politician Shane Knuth, a longtime loather of cane toads who came up with the Toad Day Out idea. "They're killing our native wildlife, they're taking over our habitat and they're hopping all through this country."

...Organizers are trying to woo thousands of people to take part in the hunt by offering prizes for those with the biggest toad and the highest total weight of toads. Goodies range from cane toad trophies (made of actual stuffed cane toads) to a gift certificate for a local resort.

An organizers' tip sheet gives advice on how to create toad traps _ or "detention camps" _ and recommends that participants "study detention techniques to ensure your own, as well as the toad's safety _ they must be alive and unharmed for interrogation."

...The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has applauded the effort _ with one caveat.

"We're only supportive of the plan if the toads are killed humanely _ in other words, they're not hit with baseball bats or cricket bats and golf clubs," said spokesman Michael Beatty.
More From Deborah McMillion-Nering

Trinity Rest Stop

Something new from Deborah McMillion-Nering!

Regarding the method, Deborah says:
Not a painting. It's a 'virtual sketch' done on my iPhone. All done with my finger.
So I asked: "Virtual sketches? This I do not understand. So, is it a form of photoshopping, like collages, or is everything brand-new, in a different medium?"

Deborah replies:
No, it's a touch-the-screen with my finger and draw on the face of my phone sketch. It's a little program or APP called "Zeus Draw", somewhat sophisticated enough to let me have 16 colors, several 'tips' or brushes [from fine lines to wide sprays], and one can zoom in and get sort of detailed. It also allows for typefaces. I use it as a sketchbook primarily but friends are beginning to demand a show [if I could get Apple to loan me about 10 iPhones to show them on as they look best on phone]. They're virtual because they only exist in phone though, of course, they could be printed off. I have done some stickers of them for my niece, e.g.

And no fear. I am still painting in oil.
Simple Pleasures

Air hockey.
This Moment Brought To You By Jerry Springer

"You're a ho! Nothin' but a ho! Ho, ho, ho, ho, ho, HO!"

I woke up at 6 a.m. to some kind of hullaballoo at the house-turned-apartments next door.

Suddenly, the woman was screaming about "the people in the yellow house." Those people would be the neighbors on the opposite side. They probably came outside to investigate the noise and suddenly got swept up in the drama as well. I'd better keep a low profile, so as not to attract unwelcome attention. I rolled over and tried to get more sleep.

According to E., who was more alert at the time and whose window was slightly closer to the action, what apparently happened was that the woman returned home after a night of work to find her boyfriend in the arms of another woman. He tried to intercede and keep the women civil, but quickly failed, and quickly fled.

Yeeoorghh! Hiss! Scratch!
Yeah Yeah Yeahs - "Zero"

What a great tune! The best new pop tune I've heard in years! Kind of reminds me of Siouxsie and the Banshees, but, new, new, new stuff.....

Shake it like a ladder to the sun
Makes me feel like a madman on the run
Find me never never far gone
So get your leather, leather
leather on on on on

Your zero
What’s your name?
No one’s gonna ask you
Better find out where they want you to go
Try and hit the spot
Get to know it in the dark
Get to know it whether you’re
Crying, crying, crying oh oh
Can you climb, climb, climb higher

Shake it like a ladder to the sun
Makes me feel like a madman on the run
Now you’re never, never far gone
So get your leather leather
leather on on on on

Your zero
What’s your name?
No one’s gonna ask you
Better find out where they want you to go
Try and hit the spot
Get to know it in the dark
Get to know it whether you’re
Crying, crying, crying oh oh
Can you climb, climb, climb higher

Was it the cure? Shellshock!
Was it the cure? Hope not!
Was it the cure? Shellshock!
Was it the cure?
What’s your name?

Your zero
What’s your name?
No one’s gonna ask you
Better find out where they want you to go
Try and hit the spot
Get to know it in the dark
Get to know it whether you’re
Crying, crying, crying, oh oh
Can you climb, climb, climb higher

Was it the cure? Shellshock!
Was it the cure? Hope not!
Was it the cure? Shellshock!
Was it the cure? Hope not!

What’s your name?
"Into The Woods" - Flying Monkeys

Coming this weekend, in Davis! Ryan Warren writes:
hey Marc! I hope you're able to come check out my production of Into the Woods - we're playing at the Veterans Memorial Center Theatre next weekend

Friday March 27th 7:30pm
Saturday March 28th 2:15/7:30
Sunday March 29th 2:15
What Happens In Vegas Catches Fire In Vegas

Desperate times; desperate people:
Years of no-money-down car loans followed by sinking home values and rising unemployment has made many people desperate over car payments they can no longer afford. For some, the answer is to ditch the car, report it stolen and collect the insurance money to pay it off without hurting their credit.

Authorities report a growing number of cars dumped in the Great Lakes, burned along remote New Jersey roadsides and driven into canals in California. The phenomenon is acute in Las Vegas, where sharp declines in tourism and construction have left thousands of workers unemployed and broke.

...Tow yards in Las Vegas are filled with the blackened hulls of Mercedes sedans and Cadillac Escalades. The wrecks were pulled from desert hills and city streets by the department's eight-member auto-theft unit, which responds to calls around the clock. Over one weekend this month, Mr. Menzie investigated eight car fires in 36 hours.

"This is a money town," says Lt. Robert Duvall, who reorganized the auto-theft unit to include insurance arson fraud. "Where else can you lose a paycheck in a night?"

The cops hunt suspected arsonists by SUV and helicopter, trying to identify registered owners as quickly as possible. "We see people with singed eyebrows and hands," said Sgt. Will Hutchings, Mr. Menzie's boss. "Some of them still smell like gas."

The trend began to surface in 2007 when gas prices spiked and the number of auto arson claims jumped. In 2008 claims climbed nationally by 6%, said Dick Luedke, a spokesman for State Farm Insurance. In hotspots like Indiana, Michigan and New York the numbers rose 13% to 18%.

...Each year, more then 20,000 cars are stolen in Clark County, which includes Las Vegas; nearly 100 a week are believed to be fraud-related. Detectives say the stolen Hondas and Toyotas are usually sold for parts; some are shipped to Mexico. Other vehicles -- pricey Mercedes and Lexus models, among them -- are driven to the desert and set on fire for insurance claims. If the owner doesn't want to strike a match, the going rate to hire someone else is $500, Mr. Menzie said.

In 2007 police helicopters began scouring the desert looking for plumes of smoke belonging to stolen and abandoned cars. Last year they spotted 398 of them. Pilots call in the location of the wrecks and police rush to the scene in the hopes locating the owners as soon as possible.

...The night before, Mr. Menzie had caught up with the teenager who had burned his girlfriend's PT Cruiser -- at her request, he told police. The boy was suffering from second-degree burns on his face and hands.

Mr. Menzie said getting the confession was easy: "I think he was in too much pain to try and make anything up."
Cars Mean Freedom - Not!

Another ghastly technological development that doesn't mean progress:
The repo man has found a new hiding place -- inside your car. Increasingly, used-car dealers are installing remote disabling devices that keep the cars from starting if the buyer gets too far behind on payments.

These so-called disablers, palm-sized devices that are placed under dashboards and wired into ignitions, once were limited to what industry insiders call the "buy here -- pay here" segment: the kinds of small used-car lots that line state highways, strung with lights and multicolored pennants. But as the economic downturn deepens, larger, more mainstream dealerships are using the devices as a condition of financing.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Predatory Dogs

The recent problem in Folsom regarding the rancher who shot a dog from a nearby housing development reminded me of an event that occurred when I was about 11 years old.

One morning, about 7 a.m., we all awoke to a woman's blood-curdling screams just outside my parent's bedroom window. Hurrying over, and expecting the absolute worst, we discovered our dog, Ranger, happily engaged in defoliating a live, screaming chicken of all its feathers on its head. We were aghast. The chicken soon died.

Having grown up in a rural household, my father knew the iron rule of rural life. Chicken dogs cannot be permitted to remain alive. I don't know if Ranger was put down, but he was quickly removed - forever - from our lives.

I sympathize with the rancher on this matter. Once the dog started harassing livestock, even for an instant, its life was forfeit.

Here are two letters-to-the-editor from the Sacramento Bee:
Dogs are predators

Re "Dog owner calls it murder" (Our Region, March 20): The story goes like this: Dog owner allows man's best friend to roam unleashed. With or without knowledge of owner, dog harasses or kills livestock. Dog is shot by livestock owner. The dog owner cannot possibly be at fault. There was no need to kill the dog.

Years ago I learned the bitter lesson that many dog owners feel a sweeping sense of entitlement to let dogs run loose, completely oblivious to the destruction and heartache they cause. Dogs are predators; sheep, poultry, cats, cattle and others are prey. While it is tragic to lose a pet dog, does Greg Sutter know what it feels like to walk outside and see a pen full of your beloved animals, dead and dying, that someone else's pet just ripped to pieces?

I have anguished for days over having shot dogs, because I care about all animals. I don't know of any farmer or rancher who enjoys this. Dogs that aren't shot return to a property over and over to chase and kill. I am grateful that California law protects our right to defend livestock from dogs and lawbreaking dog owners.

– Deborah Raven-Lindley, Arbuckle

Sad lesson for dog owner

When we moved to a rural area, someone warned us to watch our dogs because if they chased livestock they would be shot. These are rural rules which the young man obviously didn't know. Dogs chasing livestock can kill them and cost farmers thousands of dollars.

This young man learned a sad lesson. When you move to a rural area, you need to learn the rules and etiquette of where you live. The dog should have been collared and within sight. The man should have been carrying a leash in case they came near livestock.

The young man is responsible for his dog's death and no one should fault the farmer. The farmer knew the rules, the man did not. I feel sorry for the man, but this was avoidable if he had been more responsible in his surroundings. Dogs chase anything that will run. A dog owner should know that.

I have dogs and would also be devastated if I lost control of them near livestock; however, personal responsibility can't be shrugged off.

We animal people need to back off on this one. The farmer was in the right to keep any dog, regardless of its appearance, from his livestock.

– Karen Middleton, Citrus Heights
ICUP Comedy Troupe Performs

In performance on March 28th, Capital City Hotel, 2600 Auburn Blvd. (near Fulton & Auburn), Sacramento, 8 p.m., with special guest Keith Lowell Jensen.
Domestication, And Its Reverberations

Here is a strange blog post, send by John, regarding the domestication of animals, and how it creates a number of secondary effects, including depigmentation.
You can see that all of these domestic animals have large white patches - they’ve lost pigment in their coats in some areas. Why do we care? Well, this is something that is extremely common among domesticated animals, but very rare among wild animals. I hear you saying “but what about zebras, or any other wild animal with white patches?”. What we’re referring to here is slightly different. A zebra will always have that patterning, whereas what we’re looking at here is depigmentation - the loss of color in certain areas in an animal that is “normally” colored.

What else is common among domestic animals but rare in the wild? Well, things like dwarf and giant varieties, floppy ears, and non-seasonal mating. Charles Darwin, in Chapter One of Origin of the Species noted that “not a single domestic animal can be named which has not in some country drooping ears”. A very significant observation when you consider that there is only a single wild animal with drooping ears - the elephant.
Plus, efforts to create a tame fox had the most unexpected side effects:

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

To The Bird That Pooped On Me Last Night Outside Step One Health-And-Fitness Club

I don't know where you are, but my peeps are on the lookout for a 'small sparrow-like bird'.

You better be shaking, 'cause your time is short!
Peter Jacques Band - Walking On Music (French TV 1979)

Peter Jacques Band's album "Fire Night Dance" made its appearance right as the Disco craze crested in 1978/79, and was well-loved by the hardest-core disco aficionados, but because of the absence of strong personalities, the group remained (and remains) obscure.

Seen from thirty years on, this video is so scary-bad that it's great! A camp classic! In the future, when people will want to try and understand 1979, they'll look at this video.

According to Wikipedia:
Peter Jacques band, Italian-American Disco band. Peter Jacques band (PJB) was created by French-Italian-American businessman Jacques Fred Petrus (1949-1986) and songwriter and producer Mauro Malavasi (1958-). They released three albums all reaching minor success but most of all opened up the US market for Italian made disco. The albums were, "Fire Night Dance in 1978, "Welcome Back" in 1979 and "Dancing In The Street" in 1985.

After financial problems Petrus had less means and studio time to succeed with PJB and his other projects like Change and B. B. & Q. band and after the murder of him in Guadeloupe in 1986 PJB vanished.

The band is considered one of the pioneers of Italian Disco produced music in the U.S. and Europe.
It's Time

Something I can aspire to:
A PROFESSIONAL dance company made up of only overweight performers has been launched in China. The Overweight Troupe, whose members weigh an average of nearly 120kg, has just set out on its first national tour.

Troupe leader, Fei Fei, aka 'Chubby', says they now have 14 performers, including 10 girls and four boys, with the lightest being nearly 102kg and the heaviest an amazing 225kg. "Our recruitment criterion is that your weight must be more than 100kg."
"Bold In His Walk With The Lord"

My next-door neighbor and closest friend as a child has gone to meet the Lord:
Walter E. "Eddy" Lewis (51) was born in Albuquerque on May 20, 1957. He went to be with his Lord Jesus on Saturday, March 21, 2009 in Albuquerque. Eddy is preceded in death by his parents James W. Lewis and Vivian Pauline Dooley. He is survived by brothers, James W. Lewis Jr., and wife Bertie of Los Lunas, Joseph S. Lewis and wife Marilyn of Edgewood, and John P. "Johnny" Lewis of Alamogordo; sisters, Pauline E. Holloway of Clifton, TX., Winky Gibson and husband John of Deming, and Mary Kathleen "Kathy" and husband Mike Heffran of Silver City; many other family and friends who loved and will miss him dearly. Eddy graduated from Corn Bible Academy Corn, Oklahoma in 1975. He served in the US Navy from 1975 thorough 1983 both stateside and abroad. He earned a Bachelor of Computer Science from New Mexico State University, and a Master of Divinity Degree from Christ For The Nations Institute in Dallas, TX. Eddy was bold in his walk with the Lord and would witness to all he encountered. His family and friends were his treasure, and his life's priority was the Lord Jesus Christ in all that he said and did. Celebration of Life Service with the US Navy Honor Guard will be held on Tuesday, March 24, 2009 in the Chapel of Direct Funeral Services, 2919 4th Street NW in Albuquerque. A viewing will be held from 5:5:30 p.m. to 6:6:00 p.m., with the Celebration of Life Service beginning at 6:6:00 p.m. Officiating will be Pastor Brenton Franks. Interment will be held privately at the Santa Fe National Cemetery. Arrangements by Direct Funeral Services, 2919 4th St. NW. ABQ. 505-343-8008
Wow! That's hard to comprehend! Eddy, gone from this Earth!

As children we were very close. We always met in the field between our houses, in Corrales, NM, on the northwestern outskirts of Albuquerque.

Although being seven months younger than I was, Eddy was always a bit bolder. Once, when we were six years old, I remember Eddy sneaking upon and grabbing a honeybee tending an alfalfa flower. He screamed and quickly ran home. Curious about this turn of events, I grabbed the next available honeybee. I screamed and ran home too.

Oh, lots of kid stuff! Unexplained fires; catching tadpoles and raising frogs; yearning to borrow the bicycle; dirt-clod wars with the kids up the road; freezing grasshoppers and reviving them with the electric-train transformer; watching with amusement as Randy the Dachsund howled the praises of the Lord while Mrs. Lewis played organ - so many memories!

In the mid-1960's, we divided our immediate neighborhood into various countries (his, Great Britain; mine, Winchester) and territories, and built our own cities, made from leftover wood scraps, brick and adobe. We had our own currencies too (and exchange rates, when it sometimes turned out our play money came from different toymakers). We turned the Lewis' abandoned goat pen into a rock collection bazaar, and general capital, and bought and sold our precious stones.

We had political debates too. While I stumped for Hubert Humphrey in 1968, I marvelled how quickly and rationally the Lewis kids changed their allegiances to Richard Nixon ('unfortunately, George Wallace can't win, and we can't waste our votes'). Oh, we had debates!

Eddy was the first person who ever explained to me what a Fundamentalist was. That was probably his truest calling, as a lay preacher. In the 80's and early 90's he helped run a Christian bookstore in Silver City, NM. As a result of his daily contact with so much Fundamentalist literature, and his general interest in the welfare of my soul, in the mid-90's, he was mailing me several times a week with his various thoughts on science, creationism, politics, and whatnot. His letters tailed off with time (I stopped answering, to help stem the tsunami of paper), but even quite recently, he wrote to urge me to watch Ben Stein's movie "Expelled":

(I went to the video store to check it out, but it was already checked out, and I have yet to see it.)

Eddy despised nothing more than the ideology of Evolution and viewed it as the direct road to Naziism and the other social/political/religious ills of the 20th Century (and today!)

As for myself, I believe Science is our best guide to understanding the Universe, and Evolution is an important part of Science. Evolution isn't just ideology; it is fact.

And as for the status of my soul, I spend a lot of time in theater, so 'nuf said. Eddy might say the Devil was at work, with my willful obstreperousness. But he would also say, there is still time, while breath lingers, to accept Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Savior.

All that aside, Eddy lived a good life and he was "bold in his walk with the Lord." My deepest condolences to all the Lewis clan for our heartfelt loss.
Lily Allen - The Fear

"The Sound Of Music" - Final Weekend

Left: Giorgio Selvaggio as Captain von Trapp. Front row; Gretl (Rose M.), Kurt (William C., completely-obscured), Marta (Ani C.), Brigitta (Kendyl I.). Back row; Louisa (Jasmin M.), Friedrich (Rami R., obscured), and Liesl (Moriah H).
Left: Giorgio Selvaggio as Captain von Trapp (obscured), Emily Cannon-Brown as Elsa Schraeder, and Herb Schultz as Max Detweiler. Of the children, Louisa (Jasmin M.), Brigitta (Kendyl I.), Marta (Ani C.), Kurt (William C.), and Gretl (Rose M.) are the most-visible.

Left: Top - Louisa (Jasmin M.), Liesl (Moriah H.), and Friedrich (Rami R.). Bottom - Gretl (Rose M.), Kurt (William C.), Marta (Ani C.), Brigitta (Kendyl I., partially-obscured).

Left: Top - Louisa (Jasmin M.), Liesl (Moriah H.), Friedrich (Rami R.), and Brigitta (Kendyl I.). Bottom - Gretl (Rose M.), with Herb Schultz as Max Detweiler.

Left: Kurt (William C.), Friedrich (Rami R.), Brigitta (Kendyl I.), and Louisa (Jasmin M.), with Liesl (Moriah H., completely-obscured), and Herb Schultz as Max Detweiler.

Left: Kay Hight as Maria.

Left: "Doe A Deer". Marta (Ani C., kneeling), Gretl (Rose M.), Maria (Kay Hight), Kurt (William C.), Brigitta (Kendyl I., obscured), Louisa (Jasmin M.), and Liesl (Moriah H.), with Friedrich (Rami R., completely-obscured).

Left: Marguerite Morris as Mother Abbess and Kay Hight as Maria.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Mt. Redoubt Blows

And offers another opportunity to criticize Bobby Jindal:
As a slew of observers -- from local officials to geologists to bloggers to Paul Krugman ("the intellectual incohernence is stunning") -- pointed out at the time, volcano monitoring is crucial work. At the risk of stating the obvious, using advanced technology to predict when a volcano might erupt, at the most basic level, allows local officials to, um, save people's lives by evacuating them. It's hard to think of a better use of government money.

Why is Jindal's line looking even worse now? Because, as you've likely heard, Alaska's Mount Redoubt, 100 miles southwest of Anchorage, erupted last night. And a USGS geologist confirmed to TPMmuckraker that a portion of the stimulus spending for volcano monitoring that Jindal lampooned has been slated to go to USGS monitoring Redoubt.

Chris Waythomas, a geologist with the Alaska Volcano Observatory, a branch of the USGS, said that part of the money from the stimulus that Jindal was referring to would have been used to "shore up" monitoring of Redoubt, by adding new monitoring technology like real-time GPS. Redoubt, he said, was "very high on our list" of volcanoes that needed increased scrutiny.

In fact, thanks to its close monitoring of Redoubt, the USGS has known for months that it was on the point of blowing. The volcano had emitted ash and steam last week, alerting scientists to the likely imminence of a full eruption. Their efforts also meant they knew enough to raise the alert level to orange, or "watch" on Saturday, a day before Redoubt erupted. That, for instance, meant that the FAA received advanced warning that flight disruptions could occur, and it gave local officials time to draw up precautionary plans to evacuate people if needed.

So in this case, government scientists appear to have had access to enough information to anticipate the eruption, but there's no guarantee that that'll always be the case. Waythomas said that, because of funding shortfalls, monitoring efforts for several other volcanoes lacked some of the technologies that could be of crucial help to geologists.

"More [monitoring] instruments are always better," said Waythomas. "The more advanced warning really reduces the stress on everybody. After the fact is really too late."

Here's the key point: this weekend's eruption could hardly have offered a better example of the enormous value of the very activity that Jindal breezily disparaged in his speech.
"Solar Energy Could Destroy The Mojave Desert"

When I first saw this headline, I thought 'solar energy did destroy the Mojave Desert, a long time ago - that's why it's a desert.' But that's not what they mean - they are talking about solar energy development.

Since I favor use of more solar energy, and since I favor natural preservation, I basically agree with everyone's position, no matter how conflicted:
Increasing the nation's use of wind and solar power has been seen as an ideal way to protect the environment against pollution, oil spills, and nuclear waste. Now, however, fears are rising that the pressure to quickly ramp up large-scale production of alternative energy may in itself become a threat to fragile ecosystems.

That is the concern of Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA, who announced last week that she intends to introduce legislation to declare part of the Mojave Desert a national monument, closed to further development.

The area in question is a 500,000 acre parcel, once owned by the railroads and known as the former Catellus lands, which conservationists acquired between 1999 and 2004 and handed over to the federal government.

The Bureau of Land Management has made the land available for any purpose except mining. Fourteen solar energy projects and five wind energy projects have now submitted applications to build there, though all the applications are years away from being approved.

"This is unacceptable," Feinstein wrote in a letter to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. "I urge you to direct the BLM to suspend any further consideration of leases to develop former railroad lands for renewable energy or for any other purpose."

Feinstein emphasizes that she is not opposed to all solar and wind development but is primarily worried about the projects splitting up habitats in a particularly remote area between Joshua Tree National Park and the Mojave National Preserve.

"Unfortunately, many of the sites now being considered for leases are completely inappropriate and will lead to the wholesale destruction of some of the most pristine areas in the desert," she wrote to Salazar.

...For conservationists, however, the desert is neither barren nor empty -- and its inhabitants are threatened by deals like the one recently entered into by Southern California Edison, which would install "seven immense arrays of mirrors, towers and turbines," along with over 200 miles of transmission lines.

David Myers, executive director of the Wildlands Conservancy, which helped arrange for the purchase of the land in question before turning it over to the BLM for public use, warns that the solar projects "would destroy the entire Mojave Desert ecosystem."

...Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger attempted last year to pooh-pooh environmental concerns, saying, "If we cannot put solar power plants in the Mojave desert, I don't know where the hell we can put it." Now, however, the governor's office says it should be possible to address both sets of concerns through careful planning.