Friday, June 18, 2010

"Crazy For You" Opens Tonight!

Wednesday and Thursday night rehearsal pictures of the musical number "I Got Rhythm", featuring Polly (Danielle Hansen) and Bobby (Joseph Boyette).

Farewell To All That Domesticity

Off to California to find a stripper pole:
An Arizona mom was arrested as she packed up for a future as a California stripper because she intended to leave her two young children behind, police said today.

Christina Muniz was arrested as she packed up for California with her boyfriend because she intended to leave her two young children behind, police said today.

And when her 11-year-old son tried to hug her before their separation, she made a fist and punched him in the stomach, according to police reports.

...Police in Surprise, Ariz., were called to the house by Christina Muniz's 11-year-old son at 9 a.m. on June 11. He said his mother was leaving him behind along with his 6-year-old brother.

"The boy stated his mom is in the house packing with her boyfriend, and that she is going to California without them," Sgt. Mark Ortega, of the Surprise police department told ABC News.

...Police said the woman, 29, was abandoning her two boys because she said she was sick of them, and wanted to finally be able to pursue her dream of becoming a stripper.

...According to Ortega, when Burtrum asked the boy if he believed his mother would leave him like that, the boy told him yes.

"He said all she cares about is her boyfriend and drinking wine," Ortega said.

Ortega said after Burtrum spoke to the boy in private, he found Muniz sitting at her dining room table drinking what he believed to be wine.

"She said it was the only way to cope with the kids," Ortega said.

..."To see somebody so readily wanting to be so abusive, and to the very end the boy was looking for affection. To think he's endured this for his whole life, I hope he gets some normality somewhere," Ortega said.

Muniz appeared in court Monday, and according to police told the judge it was "all a big misunderstanding," and she denied she ever punched her son. She is being held on $20,000 bond and could not be reached for comment.

This Supposed Shakedown

Republicans seem to be promoting the idea that BP's $20 billion fund constitutes a "shakedown". And, in a way, perhaps it is. But, remember, hundreds of thousands of people have had their lives ruined, forever: some immediately, some in the months and years ahead, not even counting the staggering amount of dead wildlife.

It's easy to say to take your complaints to court - if there were a court in the universe big enough, and lawyers numerous enough, to handle the matter - which I'm afraid you won't find this side of the Pearly Gates. Just like the oil spill itself, the legal workload is too enormous. And there would little to stop BP from spinning off a 'responsible' (and bankrupt) corporate arm - a 'Patsy' if you will - in order to escape responsibility altogether. So, some alternate path has to be found.

If the government doesn't step in to police the matter, and find a way to get aid to the injured parties quickly, or if BP refuses to cooperate, it could well be anarchy. Anarchic shakedowns are a lot messier than anything Obama has up his sleeve. It's not charity, remember - these people (shrimpers, tourist trade folks, fishermen, etc., etc.) have been injured, through no fault of their own. Republican rhetoric notwithstanding, there is nothing wrong with trying to hold the party responsible for the damage, responsible.

But if Republicans want to argue otherwise, who am I to prevent them?

Meanwhile, fears of a BP bankruptcy, at least at the moment, seem overblown:
BP posted $17 billion in profit from its vast operations around the globe last year, compared with $5.7 billion for Apple and $6.5 billion for Google. More important, in the past three years the company generated $91 billion in cash flow from operations.

It's not highly leveraged with debt, as banks were during the financial crisis. And it has 18 billion barrels of oil in proven reserves, twice what the U.S. consumes every year.

BP has spent about $1.8 billion on the spill so far, but that's the first drop in a very large bucket. If BP faces criminal charges, for instance, it could end up having to pay tens of billions in legal costs alone.

Analyst estimates of BP's total cost range from $17 billion to $60 billion. If the worst predictions about the leak come true, that figure could surpass $100 billion, based on a Goldman Sachs estimate that each barrel of oil spilled could wind up costing as much as $40,000 in cleanup and compensation.

Such a big bill, even at the lower end of the estimates, would drive many companies under. But analysts said BP probably won't have to go to that extreme unless it wants to wall off liabilities from the rest of its operations to attract potential suitors.

Under Wednesday's deal with the Obama administration, BP will suspend its dividend for the rest of 2010, freeing up $8 billion. The company also plans to raise $10 billion from selling some assets. Add cash lying around in bank accounts and in short-term investments and BP could raise $25 billion without breaking much of a sweat.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Keith Will Soon Surf The Airwaves

Keith Wise at Subway says he will soon have a web radio show called 'Paranoia' (or something like that), featuring numerology, 9/11 conspiracy theories, and cool music (of course), on Grow Radio (which he said was

So, no real details yet, but soon....

Fair And Balanced

The Right Wing Noise Machine in full double-speak, spin-control mode:
When Fox News aired footage from this morning's hearing with Hayward, the network edited out Barton's apology.
Move along, folks, nothing to see here....

Yes, Haley, That Might Be A Problem Too

But if they don't set aside the money, Haley, people won't get paid! It's called taking responsibility:
JACKSON, Miss. — Mississippi's governor said Wednesday he's not sure the federal government should have made BP put $20 billion into escrow to compensate victims of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill because the company needs it to drill more wells and make money so it can pay up.

..."If they take a huge amount of money and put it in an escrow account so they can't use it to drill oil wells and produce revenue, are they going to be able to pay us?" Gov. Haley Barbour told The Associated Press in a telephone interview Wednesday.

...Most of Mississippi's beaches remain clean because currents are carrying oil eastward toward Alabama, where officials have warned people not to swim some days in some waters.

Muddling Through

Tar Baby

Please note, out-of-touch Republican leaders, that the oil spill is not a natural disaster:
House Republican Leaders John Boehner (R-OH), Eric Cantor (R-VA), and Mike Pence (R-IN) issued the following statement:
"The oil spill in the Gulf is this nation’s largest natural disaster and stopping the leak and cleaning up the region is our top priority. Congressman Barton’s statements this morning were wrong. BP itself has acknowledged that responsibility for the economic damages lies with them and has offered an initial pledge of $20 billion dollars for that purpose.

"The families and businesspeople in the Gulf region want leadership, accountability and action from BP and the Administration. It is unacceptable that, 59 days after this crisis began, no solution is forthcoming. Simply put, the American people want all of our resources, time and focus to be directed toward stopping the spill and cleaning up the mess."

Fantasy Conservative Doublespeak World Collides With Reality - Episode MMX(c) - That Damned Gulf Oil Slick Again

I'm always astonished, and maybe even a little envious, how conservatives can thrive in their little ideological greenhouse world, detached from the reality most people inhabit. Every night on the radio, for example, Sean Hannity launches barrage after barrage of inflammatory rhetoric at Barack Obama, who is either pictured as incompetent or omnicompetent, helpless or bent on world domination. Surely he can't be both, but on Talk Radio, he can be made to be anything they want him to be. Fidelity to sad reality is a hindrance on Talk Radio, not a help.

Because there is little check on the Talk Radio Sean Hannity's of the world, they thrive. Nothing seemingly can make them pause, or rethink, or regroup: there is no 'accountability moment', as George W. Bush used to call it.

But sometimes there is an accountability moment, at least for officeholders, and conservatism - that radical, non-conservative ideology we've come to know in the United States, where words long ago were twisted into pretzels divorced from their actual meaning - suffers. And so, even though Obama deserves much blame for delay and dallying with respect to this epic crisis, and for not understanding how dangerous deep oil drilling is, the majority of the blame eventually will fall where it richly-deserves to fall - on drill-baby-drill conservatives:
House Minority Leader John Boehner distanced himself from Energy Committee ranking Republican Joe Barton, after Barton apologized to BP on behalf, apparently, of the government earlier today.

Asked if the government was being too hard on BP, Boehenr just repeated that he believes that BP "ought to be held accountable to stop the leak and get it cleaned up as soon as possible."

Barton himself closed today's hearings by saying he's sorry that his comments were "misconstrued":
"And if anything I said this morning has been misconstrued to the opposite effect I want to apologize for that misconstrued misconstruction."
But where, exactly, did Barton come up with the idea that the White House was way out of line in pressuring BP to create the escrow fund? He got it from party leadership.

The Republican Study Committee -- the influential conservative caucus that the vast majority of Republican congressmen belong to -- put out a release yesterday calling the creation of the fun "Chicago-style shakedown politics."
Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) — chairman of the group of more than 100 conservative members — said in a statement Wednesday that BP's agreement to create an escrow account at the behest of the government was "borne out of this administration’s drive for greater power and control."

"In an administration that appears not to respect fundamental American principles, it is important to note that there is no legal authority for the president to compel a private company to set up or contribute to an escrow account," Price said.
Barton is an oil industry stooge, yes, but he was just repeating a talking point dreamed up by the conservative leaders in his party. He didn't go rogue.

Meanwhile, Florida Republican Adam Putnam said Barton "owes the people of the Gulf Coast an apology, not the C.E.O. of the company who may have cut corners to produce this horrific national tragedy.” Florida Republican Jeff Miller called on Barton to step down as ranking member of the energy committee.

From Miller's statement:
"I condemn Mr. Barton’s statement. Mr. Barton’s remarks are out of touch with this tragedy and I feel his comments call into question his judgment and ability to serve in a leadership on the Energy and Commerce Committee," Miller said in a statement. "He should step down as Ranking Member of the Committee.”
Unlike Putnam, Miller is a member of the Republican Study Committee. He didn't bother condemning their official position on the escrow fund until a Republican said something dumb on TV about it, though.

Lost Gardens Of Heligan

Caption: The Mud Maid, a living sculpture created for the woodland walk.

This story struck me as: only in Britain! This sequence of events just seems improbable, but isn't that just like reality sometimes!:
For nearly 80 years, one of the world's finest collections of rare plants was "lost", hidden behind the walls of an immense garden whose existence had been forgotten.

Then, a mere decade and a half after they were rediscovered, it appeared that the 70 camellias and 350 rhododendrons growing in the Lost Gardens of Heligan, in Cornwall, were to be lost again – this time, irretrievably.

Four years ago, the plants, all more than 90 years old, and probably dating back to the middle of the 19th century when they were gathered by Victorian plant hunters, were given a death sentence by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) after contracting a lethal fungal disease called sudden oak death. Staff at Heligan watched in despair as the mature rhododendrons were left dead or dying.

Defra ordered every rhododendron in the lost gardens to be destroyed, but there are specimens unique to Heligan which, if lost, could never be replaced.

Three of the plants attacked by the fungus died, but in a landmark project at Duchy College, North Cornwall, researchers cloned four others, creating disease-free plants which are being replanted in Heligan.

Specimens are going on sale in the Heligan plant centre, so that the rhododendrons can be grown outside Cornwall for the first time. This is a precaution, because the Heligan site is still infected and the new plants may one day be destroyed by the fungus.

The disease was first observed in the 1990s when it took a grip on the wild oak population of California, where the climate is similar to Cornwall's.

...Peter Stafford, Heligan's managing director, described the breakthrough as "a fine example of the kind of pioneering work with nature we excel at in the Lost Gardens of Heligan".

Heligan's 80 acres of walled pleasure gardens date back to when the Tremayne family were the local squires. The shape of the garden was designed at the end of the 18th century, and the collection of plants was built over several generations.

One of the biggest contributors of rhododendron seeds was a collector named Joseph Dalton Hooker who spent the years from 1848 to 1850 travelling around Darjeeling, and making three excursions into the remote area of Sikkim in search of rhododendrons and other new plants.

In 1914, all 22 of the male staff signed up with the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry and went off to a war from which only six returned. The house was taken over by the War Office. It was returned to the family after the war, but they rented it out to tenants who could not afford the upkeep of the gardens, which were left to grow wild behind their high walls.

In 1990, John Willis, a member of the Tremayne family, who had inherited the gardens, had a chance meeting with Tim Smit, a Dutch-born businessman and record producer, and his colleague, John Nelson. They hacked their way into the gardens with machetes and uncovered a botanical wonderland, which they then developed as a tourist attraction.

By 1995, Heligan had become the most visited private gardens in Britain, drawing 200,000 people a year.

Counterrotating Ice Pinwheel On Mars' North Polar Cap

Caption: Alan Howard of the University of Virginia first suggested the ice trough migration model based on Viking spacecraft data back in 1982. His theory, that wind erosion and sunlight shape and move the troughs, was never widely accepted, but the new data supports it.

Caption: Chasma Boreale is indicated by an arrow in this modern image of the Martian north pole.

Interesting how the accumulation and dispersal of ice over billions of years can create these large land forms! I had to think about the following explanation a bit to make sense of it. Since winds streaming off the ice cap will spiral to the right due to Coriolis force as they descend south, that means the prevailing winds will be perpendicular to the troughs. In addition, the troughs will inch east over the eons.

Interesting too is how this process apparently doesn't occur at Mars' South Pole (the South Pole is mostly dry ice, as opposed to the mostly water ice of the North Pole, so there is a compositional difference). Interesting too is that this process doesn't occur in Antarctica, even though Antarctica experiences the same kind of winds as Mars' North Polar Ice Cap does.

I don't quite buy the explanation below that local topography inhibits their formation in Antarctica. I'm sure the Martian North Polar Ice Cap has local topographical variations too, but the spirals developed anyway. The Coriolis Force is just as influential on Earth as it is on Mars, so why no spirals in Antarctica? There must be some kind of extra factor to set these spirals in motion. Perhaps the initial ice cap has to be remarkably smooth to get the process going, and maybe Antarctica and the Martian South Polar Cap just aren't smooth enough. And maybe there's no going back either: once the spirals start, that smoothness is gone - permanently. So, maybe the transition into the spiral phase isn't a climatic change at all, but more like a phase change - a nucleation event, if you will. So, maybe one normal, humdrum day eons ago, out of nowhere - they just started!:
Jack Holt of the University of Texas and his graduate student Isaac Smith used radar data from MRO's Shallow Subsurface Radar to crack the case. Examining the details of this new data set has laid open the ice cap's internal structure, revealing clues to the massive ice troughs' formation.

Apparently, the wind did it.

"Radar cross sections reveal layers of ice deposited throughout the ice cap's history," says Holt. "The size and shape of those layers indicate that wind has played a key role in creating and shaping the spiral troughs."

Not only does wind shape the spirals, but also it causes them to move. They rotate around the north pole, turning like an excruciatingly slow pinwheel, curiously enough, against the wind.

Smith explains the process: "Cold air from the top of the ice cap sweeps down the slope, gaining speed and picking up water vapor and ice particles along the way. As this wind blows across the trough and starts up the other slope (the cooler side, facing away from the sun), it slows and precipitates the ice it holds. All of this ice is deposited on this cool slope, building it up, so the trough actually grows and migrates, over time, against the wind."

The Coriolis force generated by Mars' rotation twists the winds sweeping down from the ice cap.

"That explains the troughs' spiral design," says Smith.

Similar formations can be found in Antarctic regions of Earth, but without the spiral shape.

Icy megadunes in Antarctica do not spiral like the ice troughs of Mars. "You don't see spirals in Earth's Antarctic ice sheet because local topography there prevents the winds from being steered by the Coriolis force."

The radar data have solved another icy mystery, too--the origin of Chasma Boreale.

Chasma Boreale is a Grand Canyon-sized chasm that slashes through the midst of the spiraled troughs. Theories to date suggested that either wind erosion or a single melt event excavated Chasma Boreale within the past 5 to 10 million years.

"Not so," says Holt. "The MRO data clearly show the chasm formed [long before the spirals did] in a much older ice sheet dating back billions of years. Due to the shape of that ancient sheet, the chasm grew deeper as newer ice deposits built up around it. Winds sweeping across the ice cap likely prevented new ice from building up inside the chasm [so it never filled up]."

The radar data also revealed a second chasm matching Boreale in size.

"This chasm's never been seen before -- unlike Boreale, it did fill up with ice, probably because it's in a different location. Boreale is closer to the highest points of the ancient ice cap, where the winds are stronger and more consistent."

By discovering that both Chasma Boreale and the ice troughs were shaped by similar processes over different timescales, Holt and Smith answer some questions about Martian climate history. But they're also sparking new ones.

"For a long stretch of Martian history the ice layers were regular and uniform, then there was a distinct period when the spiral ice troughs got started," says Smith. "Something changed. There must have been a very fast (relatively speaking) and powerful change in climate. We still don't know what that change was."

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

My Take On Obama's Gulf Speech Last Night

It's a true apocalypse in the Gulf of Mexico! Would Obama's speech measure up to the Biblical-scale of the tragedy?

Apparently not. Some people are giving the speech a big thumbs-down:

Obama said some good things. He made a strong call for a transition from our fossil-fuels economy, declaring that "the time to embrace a clean energy future is now." He said that when he meets with BP chairman Tony Hayward tomorrow, he will tell him he needs to set aside a generous compensation fund that will be controlled by an independent third party. He committed to a long-term Gulf Coast Restoration Plan, headed by Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, and announced that the respected Michael Bromwich will head the compromised Minerals Management Service.

At one point I thought the president was about to do what I'd hoped for, unrealistically, this afternoon – explain why he was wrong to drop his opposition to expanded offshore oil drilling, and recommit to his old position. He didn't. He only said that he had endorsed opening up more offshore drilling "under the assurance that it would be absolutely safe –- that the proper technology would be in place and the necessary precautions would be taken. That obviously was not the case in the Deepwater Horizon rig, and I want to know why." He then committed to a National Commission to study the disaster and explore what new environmental protections are needed. (If he paid any attention to the House Energy Committee's grilling of top oil industry execs today, he'd know the industry has no idea to cope with a disaster of this magnitude.)

I'm not sure anyone walked away from the speech clearer on what Obama will do to hasten the clean up and prevent future disasters. And while I was happy he did make a short pitch for "a strong and comprehensive climate and energy bill," if you blinked, you missed it.
Nevertheless, it's important to get BP committed, NOW, to cleaning up the Gulf Coast and paying for the damage, and if Obama had to pull back his rhetoric to get the commitment, it's OK.

BP's early reaction to the fiasco was to treat the problem as a public relations dilemma. BP tried to bury the problem underwater as much as possible (with Corexit) and to live in denial, particularly by denying people access to information about oil slick location, by hiding dead animal carcasses, by fighting with scientists about the existence of underwater plumes they knew they were intentionally creating with Corexit, and simply by denying the validity of independent flow rate calculations. Denial is an understandable human reaction, but the problem is now so large that denial is no longer an option. Actions like summoning oil tankers to assist with oil recovery have either been delayed by BP, or not done at all, because as long as BP answers first to shareholders, they have to do everything on the cheap. By wielding an implicit threat to put BP in temporary receivership, however, Obama may be able to break BP's fantasy thinking, and maybe help start getting some things done. By keeping BP management in place, however, it may be possible to retain useful operational knowledge. Balance is crucial.

At least, I hope things work out this way....

Meanwhile, Kenneth Feinberg is going to be appointed to be the escrow account administrator:
The Times is also reporting that the fund will be overseen by Kenneth Feinberg -- the pay czar charged with overseeing top Wall Street salaries under TARP. Feinberg also oversaw the 9/11 victims compensation fund.

BP executives met with President Obama at the White House today. Before the meeting, Bloomberg reported that the administration and BP hadn't yet reached a deal on the escrow account.

According to the Times, BP likely won't be in any rush to deposit $20 billion in the escrow account anytime soon: The deal's "preliminary terms would give BP several years to deposit the full amount into the fund so it could better manage cash flow, maintain its financial viability and not scare off investors."
Kenneth Feinberg is quite an amazing person! I remember once seeing him discuss his experiences on C-SPAN regarding the 9/11 victims compensation fund (the link to this amazing program is here). I was very impressed with the guy. Equally interesting was just how little fraud was attempted with the 9/11 victims compensation fund, despite the huge sums involved.

Feinberg has among the most-enviable reputations in the entire United States, and I'm sure there is no one more capable for the position. He is America's go-to Mr.-Fixit guy when apocalyptic disasters have to be paid for. Nevertheless, this disaster is far larger, and will be far costlier, than 9/11, and so Feinberg faces a daunting workload in the years ahead.


Yeah, but can Robogeisha run a community-based musical theater?

If You Leave Now, We'll Pretend We Didn't See You

"Crazy For You" - DMTC - Tuesday Night Rehearsal

"I Got Rhythm".

"I Got Rhythm", featuring Joseph Boyette as 'Bobby', Danielle Hansen as 'Polly', and Steve Isaacson as 'Everett'.

"I Got Rhythm", featuring Danielle Hansen as 'Polly', together with Thomas Lea, Gerald Shearman, and McKinley Carlisle.

"I Got Rhythm". Turner Petersen, Gordon Meacham, Angela Yee, Kara Sheldon, Brittany Bickel, and Joseph Boyette.

"I Got Rhythm"

"I Got Rhythm" featuring one of Joseph Boyette's handsprings.

"I Got Rhythm" featuring Turner Petersen, Joseph Boyette, and Steve Mo.

"I Got Rhythm", featuring Danielle Hansen as 'Polly'.

"I Got Rhythm", featuring Joseph Boyette as 'Bobby'.

"I Got Rhythm", starring Danielle Hansen as 'Polly' and Joseph Boyette as 'Bobby'.

"Naughty Baby" K as 'Irene', together with Steve Mo and Wayne Raymond.

"Naughty Baby" K as 'Irene', together with Scott Griffith Steve Mo and Wayne Raymond.

"Naughty Baby" K as 'Irene', together with Scott Griffith Steve Mo and Wayne Raymond.

"Naughty Baby" K as 'Irene', carried by Moose (Kyle Hadley), Custus (Scott Griffith), Mingo (Wayne Raymond), and Sam (Steve Mo).

E. Chides Rude Fans And Calls For Civility

Finally free on summer vacation, E. has been spending less and less time at home and more and more time doing things like attending ball games in the Bay Area. Failing to cross paths with me today, she left this handwritten note instead (typos left in for verisimilitude):
Hi Marc,

I came home for a while, I was hoping I'd see you for a while, but we didn't get back last until 2:00 o'clock in the morning, and we get let. The game was good. "Giants" won. The only thing is we have these guys setting next t us screaming at the Orioles. it was pretty rude. they were screaming at Paterson (in the Orioles) suche as "we hate your guts", "we don't like you", "we don't like your brother and mother." We'll see you tomorrow after the game. These guys were acting like animals. They were pretty rude, screaming to their lungs. I don't think that was fair. Chris said that's they way it is. I told him that's not the way it supposed to be. What I meant if the "Giants" happen to be playing in Baltimore I am sure that the were never treated that way. I was so up sit. I have never could imagine that some people like them could be so antagunizing, so demoralizing their opponents ego. They acted like so uncivilized with no regards of how the "Orioles team" would feel. Needless to say I was very much dissappointed last night. We go their to enjoy the game but to some body screaming to their lungs with rudness (and they were big guys their mouth were just as fat as their body is. I wish you could write articles about this. They treated the "Orioles" so unfair.

Anyway I think of you, I see that you are ok. I'll see you soon, my caring for you is just like a brother I never have.


Kylie Minogue-All The Lovers (Live) - Germany's Next Top Model

Lush, and live too!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

End Of Season Three On "Breaking Bad"

Dark ending to Season Three!

(It's interesting how Gale's address maps to an actual location on Juan Tabo Blvd. What's there, I wonder?)

I chalk up the last episode as Gus Fring's error. Gus has continually underestimated Jesse, and likely underestimated Walt as well. But Gus is a practical, pragmatic sort of fellow, and he won't make that mistake again. Gus will - accomodate. Walt and Jesse's status will grow - and grow.

They just dig in deeper and deeper!

But now, it's all blue sky ahead! I anticipate a process where everyone relaxes a bit and gets to know one another better.

Even though it's a bit off-topic I'm nevertheless reminded of "Take Off With Us" from Bob Fosse's "All That Jazz" (1979).

"Breaking Bad" With A Laugh Track

"I Got Rhythm" - DMTC - "Crazy For You" Monday Rehearsal

"I Got Rhythm", starring Danielle Hansen as 'Polly' and Joseph Boyette as 'Bobby'.

"Naughty Baby" K as 'Irene' and Nick Thompson as 'Lank' (with Wayne Raymond and Scott Griffith).

"Naughty Baby" K as 'Irene', together with Scott Griffith and Wayne Raymond (with Steve Mo off, just to the right).

"Naughty Baby" K as 'Irene', carried by Moose (Kyle Hadley), Custus (Scott Griffith), Mingo (Wayne Raymond), and Sam (Steve Mo).

"What Causes That?" Joseph Boyette as 'Bobby' and Michael Ball as 'Zangler'.

"I Got Rhythm", featuring Danielle Hansen as 'Polly' and Joseph Boyette as 'Bobby'.

"I Got Rhythm"

"I Got Rhythm", with Danielle Hansen as 'Polly'.

"I Got Rhythm", featuring Danielle Hansen as 'Polly'.

"I Got Rhythm", featuring McKinley Carlisle, Tatiana Sitt, Kara Sheldon, Wendy Young Carey, and Christina Rae.

"I Got Rhythm", featuring Joseph Boyette as 'Bobby'.

"I Got Rhythm"

"I Got Rhythm"

"I Got Rhythm"

Monday, June 14, 2010

Location, Location, Location: And A Cup Of Tea

Keeping a watch:
For almost 50 years, Don Ritchie has lived across the street from Australia's most notorious suicide spot, a rocky cliff at the entrance to Sydney Harbour called The Gap. And in that time, the man widely regarded as a guardian angel has shepherded countless people away from the edge.

What some consider grim, Ritchie considers a gift. How wonderful, the former life insurance salesman says, to save so many. How wonderful to sell them life.

"You can't just sit there and watch them," says Ritchie, now 84, perched on his beloved green leather chair, from which he keeps a watchful eye on the cliff outside. "You gotta try and save them. It's pretty simple."

Since the 1800s, Australians have flocked to The Gap to end their lives, with little more than a 3-foot (1 meter) fence separating them from the edge. Local officials say about one person a week commits suicide there, and in January, the Woollahra Council applied for 2.1 million Australian dollars ($1.7 million) in federal funding to build a higher fence and overhaul security.

In the meantime, Ritchie keeps up his voluntary watch. The council recently named Ritchie and Moya, his wife of 58 years, 2010's Citizens of the Year.

He's saved 160 people, according to the official tally, but that's only an estimate. Ritchie doesn't keep count. He just knows he's watched far more walk away from the edge than go over it.

...In his younger years, he would occasionally climb the fence to hold people back while Moya called the police. He would help rescue crews haul up the bodies of those who couldn't be saved. And he would invite the rescuers back to his house afterward for a comforting drink.

It all nearly cost him his life once. A chilling picture captured decades ago by a local news photographer shows Ritchie struggling with a woman, inches from the edge. The woman is seen trying to launch herself over the side - with Ritchie the only thing between her and the abyss. Had she been successful, he would have gone over, too.

These days, he keeps a safer distance. The council installed security cameras this year and the invention of mobile phones means someone often calls for help before he crosses the street.

But he remains available to lend an ear, though he never tries to counsel, advise or pry. He just gives them a warm smile, asks if they'd like to talk and invites them back to his house for tea. Sometimes, they join him.

..."A smile can go a long way - caring can go even further. And the fact that he offers them tea and he just listens, he's really all they wanted," Hines says. "He's all a lot of suicidal people want."

"Poker Face" (Lady Gaga) - UCB Noteworthy (A Cappella)

Gabe says check out this UC Berkeley a cappella group!

Wallabies Colonize Cornwall

Wallabies seem to be hardier than monkeys when dealing with winters. I remember some rhesus monkeys escaped in New Mexico some years back, but several winters decimated the group. Not so these UK wallabies!:

A photograph of one wallaby, taken by a motorist near a lane in St Breward, follows several recent sightings of a male, female and baby in the area.

The animal seen by the driver is thought to be a male which escaped from a farm three years ago and was never caught. He appears to have found another escaped female, who was later pictured with a joey in her pouch.

A spokesperson for the RSPCA said the animal charity is often called to capture escaped wallabies, but it is rarer to find examples of them living in the wild in Britain.

She said: "Wallabies are quite hardy so they do survive quite well. They are breeding as well so they have been doing fine. It has been going on for several years and they have survived some pretty cold winters.

"There are definitely colonies across the country so people should not be surprised if they have seen them."

"Crazy For You" - DMTC - Tech Week Starts

Danielle Hansen as 'Polly' and Joseph Boyette as 'Bobby'.

'Bobby' arrives (as Zangler) in Deadrock, NV. In the foreground, Wendy Young Carey and Scott Griffith.

"I Got Rhythm"

"I Got Rhythm"

"I Got Rhythm", with Danielle Hansen as 'Polly'.

"I Got Rhythm"

"I Got Rhythm"

"I Got Rhythm"

Fight Scene.

"What Causes That?" Joseph Boyette as 'Bobby' and Michael Ball as 'Zangler'.

"What Causes That?" Joseph Boyette as 'Bobby'.

"Naughty Baby". K as 'Irene' and Nick Thompson as 'Lank' (with Scott Griffith and Wayne Raymond).

"Naughty Baby". K as 'Irene' and Nick Thompson as 'Lank'.