Saturday, November 20, 2010

Hook, Line, And Sinker

(Drinking a glass of wine purchased at DMTC's new bar, and perusing Facebook last night....)

So, Andrea St. Clair and Rudy "Roods" Brown plan to raise their beautiful daughter, Sonic St. Clair, to be a pole dancer so she can beat the competition on amateur night over at Centerfolds in the year 2030.

(I need to stop lurking on Facebook and I need another drink....)

Friday, November 19, 2010

Dirty Money

I believe the folks at the casinos also feature a money-cleansing service. All I need to do is redeem my tickets:
A mother and daughter accused of stealing more than $100,000 by leading victims to believe their money was cursed were back in court today after being extradited from Arizona to face theft charges.

...The pair worked out of a home on Chicago's Far Northwest Side, billing themselves as fortune tellers and psychic healers, according to a criminal complaint unveiled at a bond hearing for the women this morning. They both face felony theft and theft by deception charges.

Authorities said the South Holland couple began visiting the pair in 2005 after the husband responded to a flier advertising their services that was left on the windshield of his car. Over several years, the Santinis allegedly gleaned detailed information about the couple's financial condition, and convinced them that their money was the source of demonic energy. They claimed they would cleanse the cash and then return it to the couple.

...Chicago Police Det. Milorad Sofrenovic said both victims were hard working, educated people who were caught in a moment of weakness due to personal problems. The crimes often go unreported because the victims are too embarrassed to admit they were duped, he said.

..."When people do things like this and keep getting away with it, they become more emboldened," said Sofrenovic, an Area 5 property crimes detective who investigated the Santinis and specializes in probing similar scams.

Sharron Angle Ad That Never Aired

Steve's Knee

Some San Francisco Giants fans get baseball tattoos, but only Steve goes that extra mile, and tries to turn himself into a baseball.

Below is a video of Steve's surgeon, hard at work....

Fast And Loose With The Data

As mentioned before, I've been looking at this latest study come out regarding Lake Tahoe. I have trouble with the most-newsworthy projections of the study regarding the climate changes at Lake Tahoe over the next century:

About 55 percent, on average, of the precipitation at lake level in Tahoe now falls as snow. By 2055, the study predicts snow will drop to about 45 percent – and to just 30 percent by the end of the century.

The result: a shorter ski season, and perhaps a spring without snow-capped peaks ringing the lake, said Robert Coats, lead author of the study and a visiting scholar at UC Davis.

"We're looking at a shift from snowfall to rainfall, increased melt rate, and earlier melt," Coats said. "Once you lose the snowpack, then you lose the late-spring water supply. So drought could begin earlier in the year."
That's a powerful metric there, the percentage of precipitation falling as snow. Here is a graph from the 2009 TERC report showing the percentage of precipitation falling as snow for Tahoe City over the last century:

In the 2010 report, simulations carry the projection into the future (GFDL A2; see chart below). The projection is supposed to be a basinwide average (even though it looks like it's congruent with the Tahoe City data):

But I found this all rather strange. Do observers with the National Weather Service collect data regarding the percentage of precipitation falling as snow? One might - might - be able to glean that statistic from standard airport observation stations (provided one decides how to pigeonhole ambiguous ice/water mixtures like sleet), but the long record here, back to 1910 for Tahoe City, suggests COOP station data instead was used. They don't gather that kind of data at COOP stations. So, what kind of data did they use?

According to the 2009 TERC report:
Snow has declined as a fraction of total precipitation, from an average of 52 percent in 1910 to 34 percent in present times. In Tahoe City, snow represented 37 percent of 2009 total precipitation, consistent with the long-term decline.

These data assume precipitation falls as snow whenever the average daily air temperature is below freezing. (Precipitation is summed over the Water Year, which extends from October 1 through September 30.)
Oh! These aren't measured data at all! They are a synthetic construct. We don't know how well the assumption of temperatures-below-freezing-means-snow holds. It is always possible, of course, for precipitation to fall as snow even if the average daily temperature is above freezing, provided temperatures are below freezing at the instant precipitation is falling.

So, what these charts are actually saying isn't that the snow precipitation fraction is going down, but that the average daily temperature is going up. The scattered data points, which give the illusion of measured data, or data simulations, actually represent nothing of the sort. It's pretty-much all sleight-of-hand!

Tahoe City is at lake level, a relatively-warm place, so it is quite possible for rain to fall there even as snow is falling on the nearby, colder peaks. So, it's too early to host a wake for the snow-capped peaks of the Sierra Nevada.

Warmer daily average temperatures can be consistent with an earlier snowmelt, of course, but if that's the metric one is measuring, that's the one that should be used, and not some other, superficially-appealing construct.

I am not among global warming skeptics, but it's easy to appreciate their frustration when confronted with synthetic data that purport to show one thing, when they actually show another.

Bait and switch; bait and switch. This is about the right mind set, right here....

Trouble In Greymouth

Coal mine explosion on New Zealand's South Island:
Nothing had been heard from the men since an explosion deep underground yesterday afternoon.

Worried families of the men gathered at the entrance to the Pike River Coal company's mine, 46km east of Greymouth.

...Early this morning, Mr Kokshoorn said Greymouth was hoping for a repeat of the Chilean mining rescue, in which 33 miners were rescued after 69 days trapped underground.

"It's serious stuff but we are not giving up hope. The rescue crew will be in there within hours."

...Pike River Coal chief executive Peter Whittall said the missing men were probably between 2km and 2.5km into the mine, although because the mine drills into the side of a mountain, they were probably only about 120m below the surface.

He said a coal-gas explosion was the most likely cause of the blast.

...Veteran West Coast journalist Paul McBride, 56, of the Greymouth Evening Star, said that after looking at the damage he captured on film, "I would say the outcome will not be good".

The mine entrance looked "reasonably normal", but the escape portal showed obvious signs of a "pretty big fire and explosion".

I was curious about this mine, because I visited nearby Paparoa National Park in 2008. It has great coal, apparently, but they are practically inside the National Park, so environmental concerns are very high. (Do what you want with the rock, but don't mess with the wekas!) The location is hard to reach, too, and why they are shipping the coal to Lyttelton rather than Greymouth is hard for me to fathom (just doesn't seem economical to ship it over the mountains).

This news story came out just yesterday, just prior to the explosion:
The Pike River Coal Ltd mine has great promise but has disappointed investors and only has funding until December.

The underground mine developed on the edge of a national park on the west coast of New Zealand's South Island has been held up as an example of a mine development in a sensitive environment that targets a proven coal seam of quality coal with upside potential from a second seam below.

...Pike River's development has been slow. The mine encountered a rockfall in its ventilation shaft in February 2009 which cost $7 million to fix and it faces a bill of between $700,000 and $1 million to overhaul continuous mining machines it has had trouble with.

The mine, which is near the historic mining settlements of Blackball and Dobson, has pushed back mine development timetables, cut production targets and has been back to shareholders several times for more money.

...The mine is in inaccessible hills 46km northeast of Greymouth, covered by 300-year-old rimu trees on land owned by the Department of Conservation, the northern part of which is in the Paparoa National Park.

The Pike River Coal project has taken decades to get off the ground but shares were offered for sale to the public in February 2007. By February this year the first shipment of premium hard coking coal was shipped from Port Lyttelton to a life-of-mine customers Gujarat NRE.

Revolt Of The Insurers

Can't blame 'em:
Ambac Assurance, whose parent company filed for bankruptcy earlier this month, said Thursday that banks that assembled a dozen poor performing mortgage bonds that it insured must pay for some of those losses.

...The company may be riding the growing momentum of mortgage "putbacks" - forcing banks to buy back mortgage securities - driven by Pacific Investment Management and other big investors.

...JPMorgan Chase has estimated the cost to the banking industry from putbacks could be as high as $90 billion.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

We've Been Down This Road Before

U.S. troops in Mexico wouldn't help:
Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) has long criticized the federal government on border security. ... When host Chuck Todd then asked Perry if the U.S. military should cross the border to help Mexico combat drug cartels, Perry said "we have to have use every aspect of law enforcement that we have, including the military."

"Obviously, Mexico has to approve any type of assistance that we can give them," Perry said. "But the fact of the matter is these are people who are highly motivated, with money, they are vicious, they are armed to the teeth. And I want to see them defeated. And any means we can to run these people off our border and to save Americans' lives, we need to be engaged in."
First, no conscious Mexican politician would ever approve a U.S. incursion. Second, the Mexican traffickers have the means to easily corrupt U.S. servicemen, and their leaders. Third, they have excellent technology - excellent weaponry, modern communications, anything you could ask. After all, many are former members of the Mexican military themselves, and they've received training on a par with that of the American military. Fourth, they know the battle field better. And we've been down this road before, in the last century, with General Pershing chasing Pancho Villa all around northern Mexico. That escapade didn't work well; why would a 21st-century intrusion?

Governor Perry likes to sound tough, but he has just no idea.... We could end up with American drug cartels run by heavily-armed American servicemen in league with their Mexican compatriots. Imagine Luke Air Force Base in Phoenix, controlled by mobsters with A-10 tank killer aircraft. Nice Interstate-10 there: it would be a shame if anything was to happen to it!

Looking For The Dessication

I decided to plot up 100 years worth of annual precipitation for Tahoe.

If the effect of global warming is dessication at Tahoe, I just don't see it yet.

Maybe it's more subtle than that....

Some have argued that global warming means increased evaporation, which would naturally mean more precipitation, and extremes of precipitation.

In any event, it looks like the effects of global warming might be complicated....

The Healthcare Is Too Damned High

The deficit worriers keep pointing at the social welfare network, and Social Security, but that's not where the problem is. The problem is Medicare, or, for that matter, anything at all associated with health care. THAT'S where the problem is!

The Circus Of Mutual Incomprehension Blunders On

Gloria Allred and Nicky Diaz are back in the news:
Defeated Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman agreed to pay her former undocumented maid $5,500 Wednesday to settle a dispute that erupted during the heat of the fall campaign.

Nicky Diaz Santillan and Gloria Allred, her famous Los Angeles attorney, said they were pleased with the agreement.

It includes a statement from Whitman that she does not feel she owed her maid any money, and it is less than the $8,000 to $10,000 in wages, mileage and penalties that Allred had pursued.

But Allred called the agreement a "victory" that "vindicates us" because the check that Diaz Santillan will get is close to the entire amount she had initially sought – about $6,000.

...Whitman did not attend the conference with officials of the state Department of Industrial Relations, but an attorney and her husband, Griffith Harsh, did attend.

..."Dr. Harsh was very concerned. He wanted to make sure that what Nicky Diaz was saying, she actually believed," Brown added.

Harsh asked the former maid, Brown said, to "look him in the eye" and say she was really owed money. He said Diaz Santillan refused.
Dr. Harsh may have felt he won a kind of moral victory by Diaz' refusal to meet his gaze. In Anglo-Saxon culture, the refusal to meet someone's gaze is usually taken to mean dishonesty, or bad faith. Cynical Harsh probably concluded that it was just about the money anyway (even though the amount was tiny for a billionaire), and willingly signed off.

Nevertheless, in Hispanic culture, it's usually extraordinarily bad manners to meet someone's gaze directly. Since Diaz, in particular, had her integrity in question, she would never, ever, have met Dr. Harsh's gaze.

And so, once again, we run smack into the Anglo/Latino cultural divide, where distrust breeds.

Bev's Review Of "Annie"

She liked the show:
It was a near-sellout audience and everyone had a wonderful time.

...Enhancing solid performances by many in the large cast, there are a couple of stand-out performances by actors in minor roles...

Little Megan Spangler, who plays the youngest orphan, Molly, in addition to being cute as a button, has a real flair for comedy and brings down the house with her antics.

...Also, Eimi Taormina, who plays several small roles, sparked up the stage, particularly with her solo as the 'star-to-be' during the song 'N.Y.C.'

...Maldonado has a winning personality and good rapport with Cross.

The other orphans - Lizzie Carey as Tessie, Claire Deamer as Kate, Devon Hayakawa as July, Emma Kehr as Duffy and Natalie Month as Pepper - are all quite good and have their choreography down pat.

Cross is outstanding as Warbucks, who doesn't have a clue about the real world, but has a huge heart. It is clear that he grows to love this Little Orphan Annie who has come into his life.

Monica Parisi is the terrible Miss Hannigan, running the orphanage like a concentration camp and whose life is 'plagued with little girls.'

...Markel gives an interesting performance as Rooster. Most actors in that role are tall and thin and try to create the body language of a barnyard fowl. With a bit more weight on him, Markel instead mimics the cartoon's Foghorn Leghorn, and does it well.

Christina Rae is Grace Farrell, Warbucks' secretary, who is obviously secretly in love with him, and who becomes Annie's friend and protector.

Michael Manley has a suitably prominent jaw as FDR and, fortunately, does not try to mimic the Bostonian accent too heavily.

A Bundle Of - Not Joy, Exactly, But....

The alley behind my house sports heavy traffic from the homeless, and the merely thrifty, as they plunder the recycling containers, 24/7. So, it was no surprise that I found a bundle of folders last night in the alley, dropped in haste, or by accident, by some nocturnal garbage picker.

In the better light of morning, I took a closer look at these folders. The covers of these school folders feature several examples of artwork extolling the virtues of abstinence as a way of controlling teen pregnancy.

I believe in serendipity, and the chance appearance of these folders is making me wonder if God thinks I should be in the business of preaching teen abstinence. If so, God has an unusual sense of humor, but who am I to know his intentions?

I wonder what I should do with these folders? They are still in the alley, waiting the next serendipitous event.

Lake Tahoe Forecasts

I was real happy to see this latest study come out regarding Lake Tahoe. One of the authors is John Reuter, whose daughter Jenny was so prominent in local musical theater circles just a few years ago (until she went away to college).

Nevertheless, I have trouble with the most-newsworthy projections of the study (the ones that happen to fall outside John's specialty) regarding the climate changes at Lake Tahoe over the next century:
About 55 percent, on average, of the precipitation at lake level in Tahoe now falls as snow. By 2055, the study predicts snow will drop to about 45 percent – and to just 30 percent by the end of the century.

The result: a shorter ski season, and perhaps a spring without snow-capped peaks ringing the lake, said Robert Coats, lead author of the study and a visiting scholar at UC Davis.

"We're looking at a shift from snowfall to rainfall, increased melt rate, and earlier melt," Coats said. "Once you lose the snowpack, then you lose the late-spring water supply. So drought could begin earlier in the year."
Since global warming is expected to be concentrated in polar regions, the first-order climatic effect should be warming, with a retreat of the jet stream farther north. In other words, the northern Sierra should become more like the southern Sierra. But snowfall is still plentiful in the southern Sierra, so why the long faces here?

I've started looking at the report itself, and I'm struck at what a strong, lower-precipitation impact they are forecasting. They put a lot of faith in their GCMs, but I can't help but wonder if weaker wintertime precipitation might mean stronger summertime precipitation from a stronger Southwestern monsoon. These days, the monsoon reaches the Tahoe region only imperfectly in summer, but the retreat of the jet stream might change that balance. And even in winter, you might see more activity from cutoff lows than you do today. Just because the jet stream retreats it doesn't mean it stops raining altogether.

I'll start looking at this interesting question in more detail....

LDS Weighs In With The Utah Compact

People are now familiar with the people supporting tighter immigration laws, and the people who don't. But in Utah, these people have to fight around the looming presence of the LDS Church, which has its own ideas how things should work, and which, almost always in Utah, gets its way:
The compact calls for a federal fix to immigration reform and urges Utah leaders to avoid policies that would unnecessarily separate families; that would redirect police resources to the prosecution of civil, rather than criminal, offenses; and would sully Utah’s reputation as a “welcoming and business-friendly state.”

The LDS Church, in turn, emphasized three principles of its own:

• Love thy neighbor: “The Savior taught that the meaning of ‘neighbor’ includes all of God’s children, in all places, at all times.”

• Strengthen families: “Families are meant to be together. Forced separation of working parents from their children weakens families and damages society.”

• Observe the law: “Every nation has the right to enforce its laws and secure its borders. All persons subject to a nation’s laws are accountable for their acts.”

Airport Security In Israel

The Israeli approach to airport security is a lot different than ours:
"First, it's fast — there's almost no line. That's because they're not looking for liquids, they're not looking at your shoes. They're not looking for everything they look for in North America. They just look at you," said Sela. "Even today with the heightened security in North America, they will check your items to death. But they will never look at you, at how you behave. They will never look into your eyes ... and that's how you figure out the bad guys from the good guys."

...So. Eight years after 9/11, why are we still so reactive, so un-Israelified?

Working hard to dampen his outrage, Sela first blames our leaders, and then ourselves.

"We have a saying in Hebrew that it's much easier to look for a lost key under the light, than to look for the key where you actually lost it, because it's dark over there. That's exactly how (North American airport security officials) act," Sela said. "You can easily do what we do. You don't have to replace anything. You have to add just a little bit — technology, training. But you have to completely change the way you go about doing airport security. And that is something that the bureaucrats have a problem with. They are very well enclosed in their own concept."

..."But, what can you do? Americans and Canadians are nice people and they will do anything because they were told to do so and because they don't know any different."

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Rate Of Inflation Is Amazingly Low

Bristol Palin, And All

I can't believe I don't have an opinion about Bristol Palin on 'Dancing With The Stars', but it's only because I haven't been watching (my blessed state of no TV). She might be a good dancer; she might not be a good dancer; I don't know. Ballroom dancing is a strange sport/art.

Nevertheless, it's only fair to point out that she probably has a large corps of supporters, and that corps may be motivated as much by politics as by dancing. So what else is new? Ever been to a major ballroom dance competition? It's a hoot!:
"Let the conspiracy theories begin!" said Wall Street Journal's Speakeasy blog.

"After Tuesday night, it should be plainly obvious to anyone even barely paying attention to the 11th season that ABC and 'Dancing With the Stars' have -- for want of a better phrase -- a 'Bristol problem,'" wrote Verne Gay in Newsday.

Jimmy Kimmel called Brandy the latest victim of "Hurricane Bristol" and suggested "an organized Tea Party voting bloc" was behind Brandy's elimination when the ousted singer and her partner Maksim Chmerkovskiy appeared on "Jimmy Kimmel Live."

Perhaps the most violent reaction came from a 67-year-old Wisconsin man, who had a standoff with authorities and was charged with second-degree reckless endangerment when he reportedly shot his television after Bristol Palin's performance, citing that "he didn’t think she was a good dancer."

Taylor Swift Is Always Surprised

Micail Buse - Curtain

Left: 'The Dream' from Woodland Opera House's 1997 production of "A Fiddler On The Roof". Foreground, from left to right, Elizabeth Monet Nilsen as Fruma Sera, Charlotte French as Golde, Joseph Schulte as Tevye, Julie Bock as Grandma Tzeitel, and Micail Buse as the Ghost Rabbi. In the background, the Ghost Chorus (which includes Robert Valencia, Karen Gay, Rich Verdugo, and Peter William Wagner, among others).

Jason Hammond sends this via E-Mail today:
Last night Michail Buse took his final bow. I work with his Sister-in-law and I told her I would let people know. I don’t have any further information, but if I receive any, I will pass it on. If you know others who knew him please let them know as well. I know I’m not nearly capturing all the people who would want to be aware.
Micail has been a stalwart supporter and fixture at the Woodland Opera House for years, and he will be missed.

Micail played the Rabbi in the first community musical theater show I ever did: Woodland Opera House's "Fiddler On The Roof", in 1997. Interesting guy!

During rehearsals, for the "To Life!" dance sequence, Micail insisted that that he be flung into the furniture - in particular, into the bar. "I know how to do pratfalls," he insisted. Generally he did OK getting flung around in "To Life!", but one night during a live performance he hit either the bar or a table top square-on with his face, and broke his nose. After exitting the stage, he headed downstairs into the dressing room, and had the unpleasant task of dealing with all the blood. He had to come onstage again shortly as the Ghost Rabbi in "The Dream" musical number, so he swiftly got out his latex and plastered it all over his face, to both shore up his shattered probiscis, and to hide the blood. He did not miss his entrance.

Ever the optimist, Micail saw the advantages of a broken nose. This was the second time he broke his nose. The first time he broke his nose, years before, it had healed slightly-crooked, so that one nostril was sealed. Breaking his nose again liberated both nostrils, and made breathing easier.

Everyone loved Micail, and he will be missed....

Volatile Templates

Yesterday, I had an E-Mail discussion with someone from the Sacramento Bee who is unhappy with my tendency to quote what she considered overlong sections from the writings of other people on my blog. I do tend to get ramblesome sometimes, but long or short, I always make sure proper citations are made. Shorter tends to be better for the readers, but not always.

What worried me more, however, is that Blogger's usual BLOCKQUOTE method of distinguishing quoted work is sometimes not adequate to make quoted work distinct from the regular text. That causes confusion.

So yesterday, I went shopping for better templates, and experimenting with the one I have. I haven't found a template I like better yet, though. And the one I have seems pretty volatile.

Over the last year, I've been having trouble making sure the sidebar always appear besides the main text. Sometimes, for puzzling reasons, the sidebar shifts to the end of the main text. Sometimes the shift appears associated with certain overwide videos, but sometimes not.

Yesterday, I found I could make the sidebar shift up or down, just by taking the posted story on "Twins", and making the quoted text appear either in italics, or not. That's a very volatile template there! I don't understand it, but it makes me loathe to experiment more. Maybe it's better to start the blog over again....

Idle Hands, Busy Hands; It Hardly Matters In The Devil's Workshop

E.: MMMMAAAARRRRCCC! Open this bottle of wine!

M.: Why do you need some wine?

E.: I'm wrapping lumpia!

M.: So?

E.: It's BBBBOOORRRIIIINNNGGG! It's not even as interesting as folding clothes!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Phishing Through Facebook

I just got a message from Elena regarding a sort of profile statcounter that required an E-Mail and password on a web site that seemed to almost looks like Facebook. I almost, almost fell for it. It's apparently a phishing expedition. Elena is just as baffled as anyone.

Civic Theatre West Meeting Is Called

Via E-Mail, here is a call for support:
The Board of Directors of Civic Theatre West is calling the community together for a Town Hall Meeting and Public Support Rally this Friday, November 19th at 7:00pm in the Roseville Theater. The purpose of this meeting is to save Civic Theatre West from permanent closure. A snapshot of the theatre's status will be presented along with testimonials to the value of what we intend to save. A Plan for saving the theatre will be put forth to the community and the necessary funds will be solicited. We invite all season ticket patrons, donors, sponsors, actors and any interested parties to attend.

Please join us! This is your community theatre and we need to pull together to save it!


Developing weird story:
TWO Australian twin women have been shot at a Colorado shooting range in a suspected suicide pact that left one dead and the other critically wounded.

The 29-year-old siblings were simultaneously shot in the head at around 2.50pm local time on Monday at the Family Shooting Centre in Cherry Creek State Park southeast of Denver, the Denver Post reported today.

...Surveillance videos did not show the incident itself but suggested that there was no third party involved in the double-shooting, KDVR-TV said.

Intel Air Pollution Worry

Photo Caption: Residents for Clean Air and Water and Southwest Organizing Project hold a demonstration in front of the Intel factory in Rio Rancho, N.M.,. circa 1999. (Courtesy Corrales Comment)

This story of Intel-related air pollution is of interest to me, mostly because I grew up in the town of Corrales, New Mexico.

I'm unpersuaded as yet that they a major menace on their hands, even though six of the eight incidences of pulmonary fibrosis were apparently located near the plant (where is that map they speak of online?). There's just so many ways to get pulmonary fibrosis!

Indeed, I may be vulnerable to pulmonary fibrosis, and may even get asbestosis for all my troubles. I remember, in high school, buying a portable hair dryer that had asbestos insulation in it. I pointed the hair dryer at my face on cold winter days, just for the warmth. If you pointed the hair dryer at a black cloth, you could catch enough asbestos dust to inspect. And when I returned the hair dryer to J.C. Penney's in 1975, in a nationwide product recall, they whisked that baby away in a flash. Lots of that asbestos is still in my lungs, waiting to cause trouble as I enter old age, and lots of people had the same sort of experiences. No need to wait for Intel to make trouble!

Associating disease with environmental exposure is exceedingly difficult, because people move around so much, and there is a lot of noise in the medical data. To get unambiguous results you need serious impacts. The impacts here may not be big enough and intense enough to escape debate. In fact, I hope the data are never so clear as to be unambiguous (because that would mean lots of sick people!)

Nevertheless, I will watch this matter with interest. Intel emits other air pollutants too. Heck, I might even be something like a control rat for the folks in Corrales: I grew up there, but moved away in 1980, before Intel's emissions were significant:
Located just north of Albuquerque, N.M., Corrales is a quaint village of about 7,300 residents that has dozens of eclectic shops, restaurants and art galleries.

Just to the west, in Rio Rancho, sits a massive computer chip manufacturing operation owned by Intel Corp., one of the largest semiconductor companies in the world.

...Locals have complained of bad odors emanating from the fabs and report disturbing symptoms such as headaches and coughing, shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting and even seizures, according to the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry in Atlanta, which has studied possible health impacts of the site.

And some believe a chemical used in the factories -- hexamethyldisilazane -- is giving people a fatal lung disease called pulmonary fibrosis after it is burned by thermal oxidizers and released into the air.

"It turns into crystalline silica," says Barbara Rockwell, a resident of nearby Placitas who wrote a book about the environmental impact of the Intel plant titled "Boiling Frogs: Intel vs. The Village."

...Rockwell and others have counted eight cases of pulmonary fibrosis in Corrales they claim were caused by crystalline silica emissions from the Intel plants. Half of those diagnosed with the disease have already died, including a former village councilman who blamed Intel for the disease.

...The report cast serious doubt on whether Intel's thermal oxidizers actually spew out crystalline silica, since the stacks operate at 1,385 degrees Fahrenheit on average, which is about 100 degrees lower than is required to make the dangerous material.

"We strongly believe that Intel's air emissions are not causing adverse health effects," said Intel spokesman Chuck Mulloy. "We will continue to work with the community and government agencies to monitor odor complaints and other concerns and seek mutually agreeable solutions."

A Trend Starts Here?

In 2004, when I 'cut the cord', I had no sense of being at the start of a trend.

But it looks like I was just premature:
Cable networks lost 130,000 subscribers in the third quarter, the industry’s second straight quarter of sequential declines, estimates Credit Suisse. The pay TV industry, which up until the until the second quarter of this year had never in history posted a decline in customers from one period to the next, could end up losing 1.5 percent subscribers annually if the shift to Internet providers continues, the research firm said.

...Where did cable companies go wrong? Credit Suisse’s analysis suggests your parents’ complaints may have been right all along: there are just too many channels. Instead of focusing on tiered offerings for customers with different viewing habits, they just kept on loading on content.

Way Off The Reservation

Matthew Yglesias comments that David Frum is way off the reservation. Matthew is correct - David Frum is making a lot more sense these days - now that he doesn't have to carry baggage for the entire conservative movement:
If Republicans are to act effectively and responsibly, we need to learn more positive and productive lessons from the crisis.

Lesson 1: ... Too often, conservatives dupe themselves. ... Every day, Beck offers alternative knowledge — an alternative history of the United States and the world, an alternative system of economics, an alternative reality. As corporate profits soar, the closed information system insists that the free-enterprise system is under assault. As prices slump, we are warned of imminent hyperinflation.

...Meanwhile, Republican officeholders who want to explain why they acted to prevent the collapse of the U.S. banking system can get no hearing from voters seized with certainty that a bank collapse would have done no harm to ordinary people.

...The same vulnerability to closed information systems exists on the liberal side of U.S. politics as well, of course. But the fact that my neighbor is blind in one eye is no excuse for blinding myself in both.

Lesson 2: ... Whatever the reason, the intellectual right accords a deference to the wants and wishes of the financial industry that is seldom accorded to agriculture, manufacturing, transport or retailing.

But it’s not always true that what’s good for Goldman Sachs is good for the economy, or vice versa. Nor is what “the markets” want the same as what free-market economics require. ... And yet nearly 80 years after the creation of the Securities and Exchange Commission, influential conservatives — including The Wall Street Journal editorial board — argued that trillions of dollars of derivatives trading should be exempt from regulation.

Lesson 3: The economy is more important than the budget.

...If Republicans reject Obama-style fiscal stimulus, what do they advocate instead? ...But if fiscal stimulus leads to socialism, and quantitative easing leads to Nazism, what on earth are we supposed to do? Cut the budget? But we won’t do that either! On Sean Hannity’s radio show, the Republican House leader John Boehner announced just before the election that one of his first priorities would be the repeal of the Obama Medicare cuts.

Lesson 4: Even from a conservative point of view, the welfare state is not all bad. ... Social Security, unemployment insurance and other benefits were designed as anti-Depression defenses, “automatic stabilizers” as economists called them.

... Retirees who lost their savings had to cut back painfully. But at least their Social Security checks continued to arrive. People who lost their jobs might lose their homes. But they continued to buy food and clothing. And the industries that sold those basic necessities continued to function — unlike in 1929-33, when the whole economy collapsed upon itself. ....

Lesson 5: Listen to the people — but beware of populism. ... American populism has almost always concentrated its anger against the educated rather than the wealthy. So much so that you might describe contemporary American politics as a class struggle between those with more education than money against those with more money than education: Jon Stewart’s America versus Bill O’Reilly’s, Barack Obama versus Sarah Palin.

...The message we hear from some Republicans — “this is no time for compromise” — threatens to extend the failures of governance for at least two more years. These failures serve nobody’s interest, and the national interest least of all.

Tunnel Vision

Driving to work, I noticed a police car pull up beside me. Then I noticed the car in front of the police car do an unsignalled lane change directly in front of me. "Foolish driver," I thought, "it's a bad idea to do an unsignalled lane change directly in front of a cop!"

My bad. Unbeknownst to me (because it was just outside my range of vision), the cop car already had his lights on. The lane change was unsignalled because the driver was rattled about being pulled over for a traffic stop. All three our cars had to do an awkward series of lane changes to make the traffic stop happen.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Rick Perlstein Discusses The Tea Parties

Quite interesting!

Rick Perlstein's keynote address at the Berkeley Conference called "Fractures, Alliances and Mobilizations in the Age of Obama: Emerging Analyses of the 'Tea Party Movement'"

Sacramento Press' Review Of "Annie"

This is my first encounter with the Sacramento Press - an online publication of recent vintage (I remember providing the reviewer with his tickets). I hope we see them more often!

Deborah Takes Her Work On The Road

Deborah McMillion-Nering (an artist distinguished, among other things, by use of avant technologies) startled me with her use of newish, faddish technology (in this case, Facebook) last night to get in touch with me:
How ARE you! Long time no hear. Thought this'd help in a small way.
I replied:
(oh no! I have been observed! - chitinous skittering sounds -)

Hi Deborah! I just awoke after a coughing fit triggered by a Facebook nightmare.

(I dreamt the Facebook corporate behemoth offered a microorbit named 'Joe's Tarantula', available for commercial messages for a nominal fee, to circle a 'Friend' named Joe, in perpetuity. So I desperately reach for Facebook in the wee hours, only to find your greeting. There is a message here somewhere, but I can't divine it.)

I am fine. How are you?
Deborah replies:
All good. James taught class for 6 weeks. Doug is replacing all our windows w/double panes, one every weekend. ...and I have to go to VEGAS!!!! ahhhhhhhhh
Vegas? Vegas! VEGAS, BABY!:

This collection, featuring 10 artists from around the world, representing completely different backgrounds, demonstrates just what is possible.

Attendees of Autodesk University can visit the Mobile Art Gallery live at Mandalay Bay, South Conference Center, Level 2, in the Manufacturing Lounge, November 30 - December 2, 2010. For more details or registration information.

The AU Mobile Art Gallery is curated by Susan Murtaugh and includes the art of:

Matthew Seydel Connors
Deborah McMillion-Nering
Shaun Mullen
Susan Murtaugh
Salvador Navarro
David Newman
Gabriel Palacios
Benjamin Rabe
Francesco Salvati
Starr Allen Shaw

For more information about the contributing artists, you can download an e-mag from magcloud.

A virtural experience will also be available online, so you don't have to be there to experience the art, the artists, and the event. A dedicated Virtual Art Expo Lounge will host freshly updated video content direct from Las Vegas. More details to be posted prior to the event.

Invisible Assault

This was a quiet weekend, focused mostly on helping out at DMTC's Box Office for opening weekend of "Annie" (while Steve was still at home recuperating from his latest tangle with the medical system).

Nevertheless, other things bubbled on under the radar. Attended Dian Hoel's dance classes at Sierra 2 on Saturday. Confabbed with Joe the Plumber about fixing the porch, but decided to postpone that work for a few days. Got out the ladders and started cleaning gutters. I got the south and west sides of the house done. Raked leaves.

The alley behind the house always features homeless people of various sorts and temperaments passing by at all hours. I handed out $2.00 to one rheumy-eyed fellow who looked like he just woke up. Sunday night, I could hear another fellow with a shopping cart shouting menacing obscenities behind my house. I waited until he passed, then rolled out my leaves that I had collected in the toter, and set them in the alley. In the distance, I saw the same menacing fellow taking notice of my activities. It made me uncomfortable.

I wish I knew more about California birds, but there is a kind of small bird (kinglets?) that have an eerie, ringing call that come around sometimes. While I was perched at the top of a ladder Sunday afternoon, they came around, and while remaining invisible in the tree's canopy above, they began pelting me with their little wild bird poos as they sang their eerie song. It seemed strange to be under invisible assault in the middle of the day, and serenaded too, but it's part of the charm of living in the Curtis Park neighborhood.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Bill Richardson Hesistating On Pardoning Billy The Kid

I'm sure it looks like a pardon would be a media event winner, which no doubt attracts Bill Richardson like a light attracts moths, but pardoning Billy the Kid is a bad idea. Billy the Kid had his appealing qualities, and even had a heyday as a genuine hero for the Hispanic population during New Mexico's Lincoln County War, but he was also, at times and places, a vicious killer. He killed jailers in the line of official duty. He even provoked a drunk braggart (who didn't know who he was talking to) into saying he'd challenge Billy the Kid to a duel. The Kid then surreptitiously stole the fellow's gun and emptied it of bullets - then he unmasked himself as Billy the Kid and challenged the hapless fellow to a duel. I mean, that's just cruel....:
Time is running out for pardoning New Mexico's most famous outlaw, despite a continuing campaign by people who think he's a relative or at least a kindred spirit.

Early in his first term, Gov. Bill Richardson hinted he was looking into posthumously pardoning William H. Bonney, also known as Henry McCarty, Henry Antrim or "Billy the Kid."

...But with less than two months left in his second and final term, Richardson "has yet to decide whether he's even going to proceed with a review of the Billy the Kid issue," gubernatorial spokesman Eric Witt said recently. "He still has not come to a decision which direction if any he wants to go on this thing."

...The main argument Billy the Kid fans use to justify a posthumous pardon is that territorial Gov. Wallace, the Union general who wrote the novel Ben Hur while living in the Palace of the Governors in Santa Fe, promised one to him. But William Wallace, the former governor's great-grandson, who lives in Westport, Conn., recently said there is no historical evidence of that.

The story of the promised pardon apparently stems from a letter Billy the Kid wrote to Wallace from the Santa Fe jail on March 2, 1881, imploring him to walk over to visit him in his cell, minutes away, and offering to testify about a murder if Wallace would "annul" murder indictments against him for killings during the Lincoln County War. "I have no wish to fight anymore," Bonney wrote in the letter now in the collection of the Fray Angélico Chávez History Library. "Indeed I have not raised an arm since your proclamation of 1878 demanding that hostilities cease in the Lincoln County War."

But the next month, a judge in Mesilla sentenced Bonney to hang for killing a deputy. On April 28, 1881, while awaiting execution in Lincoln, Bonney escaped by killing two deputies with a pistol believed to have been left for him in a privy. By the end of May, Wallace had left New Mexico to accept an appointment as minister to the court of the Turkish sultan, without ever acting on the pardon.

Six weeks later, on July 14, 1881, Sheriff Garrett shot down Bonney in a dark bedroom of the residence of Peter Maxwell, son of land baron Lucien Maxwell, near Fort Sumner.

When the pardon was proposed in 2001, then-Gov. Gary Johnson, Richardson's predecessor, quickly announced he would not consider a pardon. That was partly based on an analysis of the situation by Charles Bennett, a historian and former deputy director of the state History Museum.

"By the end of Billy the Kid's life he had performed other misdeeds beyond those committed at the time of his discussion with Gov. Wallace, and most likely knew he was no longer in a position to expect a pardon or exemption from prosecution," Bennett wrote. "While it is accepted that the myth and image of Billy the Kid embodies youth, nobility, humanity, romance, and tragedy, he was, in the final analysis, a killer and an outlaw, though hardly on the scale represented by the legend that grew around him."

Some Kind Of Chaos Tonight On I-80 Westbound

Just east of Davis' Mace Blvd. Multiple buses, lots of fire trucks, lots of flashing blue and red lights. There's a story there somewhere!