Saturday, November 27, 2010

Bon Voyage!

After boarding this afternoon, and an emergency drill, we are now underway, heading down the ship channel at POLA, looking at the breakwater, and heading to warmer ports, down south!

One Advantage To Waking Up Too Early

They are showing "Hairspray" on TV.

Friday, November 26, 2010


After hasty hellos, we hungrily hurried from the hotel and headed over to Hawthorne's Hummus House, in order to heave humungous helpings of hummus into our happy - uh - bellies.

Afterwards, we shopped for thangs at Albertson's, and noted how cosmetics are under lock and key, but not items like whiskey or vodka. In LA, the Land of Stars, makeup is ALL!

It's So Quiet Here At The Airport

Maybe it's the calm after the storm, but everything is copacetic here at SMF. I was hoping someone - anyone - TSA agents, too - would touch my junk at the security check (for blogging material, of course) but, not for the first time, no one seems the slightest bit interested. This may have been the easiest security check in EVER!

It's fun sitting here watching the two massage technicians work the muscles of two tired travellers, who have their faces planted down on the specially-made comfy chairs, and thus can't see. The technicians are carrying on a conversation with each other entirely by lip reading, and head rolling semaphore, so as not to trouble their clients.

Favorite announcement: "Will the flight attendant who left the book 'How To Improve Your Memory' on the counter at Gate 15 please return to the counter to claim it?"

Mexican Holiday Hiatus

Until about December 6th, posting here will be erratic, and likely brief: dependent in part on access to the Internet, and in part on other factors (like, am I sober?) I will be on board a boat, which will travel from LA to Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan, and Cabo San Lucas next week. I hope to bring back pictures, and tales, from the Mexican Riviera. My flight leaves Sacramento tomorrow afternoon.....

Thanksgiving 2010

For the third year running, I spent Thanksgiving with Sally and her friends, the Adams clan, in the Capay Valley on the furthest fringe of the town of Guinda. It was a very pleasant time. This year, I discovered Imogene comes originally from Union County, New Mexico, so we compared Southwestern notes.
There were lots of meadowlarks out, plus crows, hawks, scrub jays, plus some mystery bird I need to look up. The weather was just as clear as last year, but considerably colder. Indeed, 2010 may be among the coldest years on record along California's Coast Range.
The recent freeze stomped all over what had been brilliant red foliage on this familiar tree.
The newest addition to the farm was this four-point deer - friend to the crows -and now in a highly-advanced state of decay. Everyone agreed the deer had showed up "about when Aunt Tizza last visited the farm," but predictably, no one could agree when that was: July? October? Who knows?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

I've Been Spending A Lot Of Time At Arden Fair Mall

I was amazed how expensive fleece-lined athletic pants are these days, and how unsuited they are for normal human use (the assumption seems to be that one must be a minimum of 6 foot, 6 inches tall to wear fleece-lined athletic pants; i.e., one is actually a basketball player). I was also surprised how inexpensive men's suits are. So, I bought a suit and didn't buy fleece-lined athletic pants.

As I get older, the crowd at the mall seems to be getting younger and younger. In one way, this makes sense. Young folks are buying things they've never had, so of course, they're at the mall (whereas people like me are trying to unload balky stuff that never quite worked out in the first place).

Actually, I think this is wrong - the crowd at the mall IS getting younger than it has ever been! I'm not sure what this might mean. Maybe older people have no needs?

I liked this storefront a lot. The way the light reflects off the metallic surfaces is just great - unique, even. The only negative part is the store is selling almost exactly the same schlock available at almost every other store in the mall.

Beware Looking Into Closets

I looked into J's closet and found a feral cat she is trying to civilize.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Second Explosion Seals The Fate Of The NZ Miners

"The West Coast's darkest hour":
A second explosion in the mine two hours earlier had crushed any hope. The 29 men were pronounced dead.

...Pike River Coal chief executive Peter Whittall broke the news to the gathering and crumbled in tears.

"It was absolute despair," said Grey District Mayor Tony Kokshoorn. "When the news came, everyone just cracked up."

The community would never be the same, he said. "There's some distraught people, I tell you. It's unbelievable.

"This is the West Coast's darkest hour ... It doesn't get worse than this."

Laurie Drew, father of one of the lost miners, held his anger in check as he spoke out after the briefing.

But there had been immediate abuse hurled around the hall, he said. Why had the rescue operation failed them?

"They're all dead. I don't know what to say. They're all dead.

"I'm a father. I want my son back."

...Superintendent Gary Knowles, who had led the planning for a rescue, said the second explosion had been so severe that the rescue team had immediately agreed that all hope was lost.

"The blast was prolific, just as severe as the first blast," the police commander said.

"Based on that explosion, no one would have survived ... We are now going into recovery mode."

Drug War Hero

Today on Blog del Narco they are honoring the memory of a rancher who resisted the drug traffickers unto death (approximate translation):
The story of Don Alejo Garza Tamez, who declined to give his ranch in Tamaulipas to drug traffickers and defended it to the death, has touched and outraged people not only in Nuevo Leon, but throughout the country.

The man, aged 77, died early Sunday, November 14 after fighting to the end to defend his property against a large group of gunmen, who had given an ultimatum to hand over the property.

Don Alejo not only said no, but decided to face them alone.

On the night of November 13, he placed several guns in the windows and doors of his house, and when his tormentors arrived, they were received dead. The final toll: four gunmen dead.

The others fled the scene, not seizing the ranch, because they thought they would soon be reported to the military and chose to flee.

Learn the history of the rancher who imposed his dignity over fear.

In a telephone interview, Sandra Garza, daughter of Mr. Alejo, explained that "when my father was alive, he taught us values and principles." Her father had received threats from members of organized crime to leave the ranch or face eviction, but he never reported them to the Tamaulipas authorities for not trusting them or in others.

Squid Can Fly?

Well, why not? It's not that dramatically different than swimming, and it gets you places fast!

I'm going to keep an eye out for this sort of thing on the forthcoming nautical adventure....

Tornado Causes Damage In El Dorado Hills

Tornadoes aren't that common here, but they DO occur!

I remember once heading to Davis for a YPT show (spring of 2002?) and pulling off I-80 at the west end of the Yolo Causeway in order to watch a funnel cloud travel from Davis to Woodland. I thought - "Oh, the humanity!" - but the funnel didn't touch ground until it reached uninhabited territory near Willows.

Another time, I was at work, and the lights flickered. I prudently saved my spreadsheet, unaware that tornado was thrashing its way through power lines near Cal Expo. (Keith H. was near the touchdown point and related how freakish it was, with all the roof damage and noise.) There was even a second tornado a few weeks later, and another funnel cloud SE of Davis in March, 2006. So, tornadoes DO occur here, but infrequently, and usually not strong (although even the weakest tornadoes can kill):
SHINGLE SPRINGS, Calif. (CBS13) — A tornado with wind speeds of more than 100 miles per hour rolled through two miles of El Dorado County on Tuesday, damaging a commercial building, power lines, and a number of helpless trees.

The National Weather Service confirmed Tuesday night that the funnel clouds spotted by numerous witnesses was an EF-1 tornado, the second-lowest rating on the Enhanced Fujita Scale.

High winds ripped part of the roof off of a construction office near Latrobe Road and threw it hundreds of feet away just after 1:15 p.m. Tuesday.

Witnesses said they spotted one funnel cloud in El Dorado County amid heavy hail when another formed just south of Shingle Springs.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Dad-Gum Gummint

Glenn Beck, Chameleon, And Perhaps A Closet Liberal

Since I don't watch television, I've never really seen Glenn Beck do his thing. Nevertheless, reading this article, I wondered whether Glenn Beck might not, at some level, be something of a liberal. He's a work-in-progress, starting off at the right end of the political spectrum, but in chameleon-like manner, slowly heading left as opportunities present themselves:
Beck is the most gifted demagogue America has produced since Father Coughlin made his populist broadcasts during the Great Depression.

...But after reading these books and countless articles on the man, I’m coming to the conclusion that searching for the “real” Glenn Beck makes no sense. ... This is the gift of the true demagogue, to successfully identify his own self, rather than his opinions, with the selves of his followers—and to equate both with the “true” nation.

...By the looks of it Beck is trying to sketch out some kind of prophetic vision for his Tea Party followers, linking the libertarian politics they say they want to the individual spiritual transformation he now says they need. ... It may mean that the Tea Party sympathizers who adore him want more than to be left alone, they want someone to lead them out of Egypt.

And here comes Moses.

...Beck echoed many of the ideas found in Willard Cleon Skousen’s Mormon political catechism, The Five Thousand Year Leap, and in the dubious historical research of David Barton, an influential, self-taught evangelical minister who was on stage with Beck during the event. But when Barton, who runs a Christian nationalist organization called WallBuilders, repeated his group’s dogma that “most of our presidents and founding fathers thought of this as a Christian nation,” Beck objected, took the mike, and stated flatly that “one thing that cannot happen: religion and politics must not mix…. That’s what happened in the Weimar Republic.” Barton backed off.

...The next day, as if to remind us of our national wrongs, he surrounded himself on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial with an enormous poster of a Native American warrior, another of Frederick Douglass, and one of what seemed to be a Mormon pioneer family heading west in its covered wagon. He also projected a video montage of images from the civil rights movement, invoking Martin Luther King Jr. whenever possible, and stressing, correctly, that King was a minister standing up for divinely bestowed human rights, not a secular activist. It was political theater of the highest order. And it was fresh. It’s impossible to imagine Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson or James Dobson sharing the stage with Frederick Douglass.

Beck skipped over the next part of his pitch, which he recounts in hair-raising language on his daily shows, and which his listeners know by heart—how, around the beginning of the twentieth century, power-hungry elites convinced “ordinary” Americans to abandon the Founders’ principles in the name of progressivism, eroding our rights in a steady process that has culminated in Barack Obama’s socialism.

...Abandoning the grab-it-all gospel preached by the Republican Party since the Reagan years, Beck chastises Americans for becoming a people who have forgotten that “capitalism isn’t about money, it’s about freedom.” In his sermon at the Kennedy Center, he proclaimed that America doesn’t need “change we can believe in,” it needs to be restored to its original principles. But that can only happen if individual Americans recover their private virtues and again place God, however they conceive Him, at the center of their lives. His congregation went wild.

There are other ways, too, that Beck has departed from Republican orthodoxies. His libertarian political theology not only takes a dim view of economic self-indulgence and debt, individual and national; it is hostile to expansionist foreign policies, the influence of Wall Street, and what he sees as a growing national security state.

...No one picking up a Glenn Beck thriller will be surprised to find Congress demonized, along with the IRS, the United Nations, and the Council on Foreign Relations. But the libertarian Beck also puts into the mouths of his characters a litany of left-wing complaints and conspiracy theories of a libertarian tinge. Besides the usual government crimes that haunt the right-wing imagination, characters in The Overton Window also denounce presidential national security directives, spying on domestic dissenters, the privatization of the police and military, the preventative detention and torture of potential terrorists, undeclared wars, the internment of Japanese-Americans, the overthrow of Latin American governments, the disproportionate incarceration of young black men, corporate campaign contributions, and the bailout of Wall Street millionaires.

...Far more interesting, and potentially more consequential, was the “plan” Beck presented in his Washington gathering: his call for a “third Great Awakening,” a national conversion back to divine principles. ... “America is great because America is good,” he declared, but we as individuals must be good so America can be great…. God is not on our side; we have to put our lives in shape so we will be on God’s side…. Go to your churches, your synagogues, your mosques, go to those who are teaching the lasting principles.

...Watching a tape of the rally later, I was struck by how artfully he touched on themes dear to the religious right—family, church, honor—without sounding angry or exclusionary. This, too, seems in keeping with the laissez-faire doctrines of the Tea Party movement, which has ruffled the feathers of some old-school evangelical activists. As one of them recently said, “there’s a libertarian streak in the Tea Party movement that concerns me as a cultural conservative. [It] needs to insist that candidates believe in the sanctity of life and the sanctity of marriage.” Beck refuses to do that. He has even gone on record saying he sees no threat to the family in gay marriage.

...Tune in to one of Beck’s shows today and you’ll see that he remains the coincidentia oppositorum he’s always been—angry, thoughtful, ironic, nasty, sentimental, bathetic. His new Moses character is just one more in his dramatic repertoire and who knows how long he will choose to play it. I suppose it all depends on the reviews from the Tea Party faithful. Polls show he is the most popular public figure among movement sympathizers, running just ahead of Sarah Palin, though his message is not the same as hers. He presents himself as a social libertarian, not a social conservative, he is isolationist in foreign policy and skeptical of the national security establishment, and he wants to end Social Security as we know it. On paper, at least, that puts him at odds with a large segment of the Tea Party’s supporters. Yet they revere him and believe he understands them.

...Similar dynamics may help explain why Glenn Beck, sensing an opportunity, has moved into the prophet business, and why his adoring fans on the Washington Mall were so happy to be chastised and told they must transform themselves within if they wanted their country transformed. Beck is often likened to Elmer Gantry or to Lonesome Rhodes in Elia Kazan’s A Face in the Crowd, and he is certainly capable of playing those roles. But coming back from his rally I was reminded of a different movie, Frank Capra’s 1941 classic Meet John Doe.

...It was not just the obvious parallels with the present moment that brought the movie to mind, it was the speech Gary Cooper delivers. What makes it so successful is that it betrays no anger, only hope and love. It doesn’t demand government action to help America’s John Does, nor does it attack government as the source of their problems. Instead, it simply calls America to look within and discover its old, better self.

Cookie Monster Wants To Host SNL

Popping That Gasbag Rush Limbaugh

The Radical Right is in thrall to Asian car makers and to their non-union Southern hosts, and they will slam American-made cars (and be well-paid for it) for any reason. In response to their shameful crusade against GM, the folks at Motor Trend answer back:
Back to us for a moment, our credibility, Mr. Limbaugh, comes from actually driving and testing the car, and understanding its advanced technology. It comes from driving and testing virtually every new car sold, and from doing this once a year with all the all-new or significantly improved models all at the same time. We test, make judgments and write about things we understand.

...This is another of your distortions, Rush, repeated by the otherwise more level-headed George Will in The Washington Post last Sunday. The $7,500 Obama tax credit is an expansion of President Bush’s hybrid credits from the last decade. The Obama tax credit extends to the new Nissan Leaf, too, but if you or Will slammed that car, I’ve not heard or read it. I’d be surprised if you did, though, as Nissan is building the Leaf in a non-union factory in a right-to-work state represented by two Republican senators. A factory located there because Tennessee offered Nissan big tax credits. Maybe you’re worried that if the $7,500 tax credit works, too many people will buy the Volt, and that could reduce the need for oil drilling tax credits?

...All the shouting from you or from electric car purists on the left can’t distort the fact that the Chevy Volt is, indeed, a technological breakthrough. And it’s more. It’s a technological breakthrough that many American families can use for gas-free daily commutes and well-planned vacation drives. It’s expensive for a Chevy, but many of those families will find the gasoline saved worth it. If you can stop shilling for your favorite political party long enough to go for a drive, you might really enjoy the Chevy Volt. I’m sure GM would be happy to lend you one for the weekend. Just remember: driving and Oxycontin don’t mix.

It's SO Easy For Corporate America To Slime Naysayers!

A Haunted Man

Carrying a burden he never asked for:
[RFK] was shot while holding Romero's hand.

At Arlington on Saturday, Romero, now 60, walked slowly. His chest was tight and his shoulders stiff as he made his way toward the simple, small white cross that marks RFK's grave. He had wept the night before as he anticipated this moment, telling me how he had refused to wash Kennedy's dried blood off his hand.

...Romero holds himself at least partly responsible for Kennedy's death, and in his private moment with Kennedy now, he wanted to ask forgiveness. If he hadn't been so intent on shaking Kennedy's hand, he told me, he might have seen and stopped the assassin. He would have taken the bullet himself, he said, if Kennedy could have been spared.

I told Romero it's time he let go of the guilt. RFK, a man of peace, was killed by Sirhan Sirhan, a man of violence and rage. There's no way to make sense of that, but I urged him to listen to his buddy, Chacon, who reminds him that in a moment of tragedy, Juan did a humane thing. He didn't run, he didn't take cover. He tried to help, thinking perhaps that Kennedy had merely been pushed out of harm's way and hit his head on the concrete. When the young busboy realized the situation was grave, he took his own rosary beads out of his shirt pocket, twisted them around Kennedy's hand and prayed for him.

You Don't Need Suicidal Zealots To Shut Down America's Airports. All You Need Are Handfuls Of Opt-Out Activists. Or Attention-Getting Jerks.

The Achilles Heel of America's new airport security measures is finally becoming transparent. The system now looks remarkably vulnerable to disruption, and it's all self-inflicted:
Xeni Jardin flags this from Flying With Fish travel blog:
The new clarified policy for those who refuse pat downs by a TSA Transportation Security Officer (TSO), any pat down, is that the person who is refusing the pat down will be advised that they will be denied entry into the airport, and be escorted from the security screening area by TSA TSOs or police officers. If the person refuses the pat down again, they will be approached by a Supervisor TSO (STSO), who will again explain that a refusal of the pat down will result in the immediate removal from the security area by police officers. Following an escort out of the security area to the pre-security area the person will be informed that that they are being denied entry and that they may not attempt to reenter security.

If any person who has refused a pat down makes any attempt to go towards the gate area the TSA security checkpoint will be immediately shut down. The shutting down of a security checkpoint may result in a passenger evacuation of a terminal due to a security breach. Any evacuation of passengers would be based on a threat assessment at the discretion of the TSA and law enforcement at the terminal.

Once a Checkpoint has been shut down due to a person that has refused a pat down attempting to head towards the gate area, that person will then be deemed to be disruptive and interfering with airport screening and may be subject to both criminal and civil penalties.
So let me get this straight. John Pistole doesn’t want to detail what the patdown procedures are for fear the terrorists will exploit them, as said when he testified before the Science and Transportation Committee (video above). Then he didn’t tell the public that they were implementing the procedures because he didn’t want the terrorists to know.

And now in order to discourage “opt-out” day, they give advanced notice that a handful of people can easily bring every major airport in the country to a grinding halt with very little effort.


"Stop Treating Actors With Contempt"

I was doing a Google search on Greta Gerwig, and came across this interesting essay:
What a pleasure! Suddenly there are a couple of first-rate books about acting. How often can that be said? ... But Simon Callow's collected arts journalism and the succinct, beautifully illustrated new biography of Sarah Bernhardt by Robert Gottlieb raise questions about what it is actors do, and why they are the subject of such public distrust.

...For Callow, Scofield is the supreme actor because his essential gift, even in his harshest roles, was for intimating something secret, something almost beyond the spectator's reach. Pre-eminently as King Lear, Scofield seemed not just to comprehend the world's injury better than the audience, but also to carry its bruises deeper inside him. (It was certainly the greatest tragic performance I ever saw, Anthony Hopkins in Pravda the greatest comic performance.) That sense of emotional wisdom put him firmly in the company of a whole range of British stage actors – Alec Guinness, Maggie Smith, Denholm Elliott and, perhaps above all, Irene Worth – who could suggest an internal life they could make us long to understand.

...Bernhardt was not above doing things to attract attention. If you habitually go to bed in a coffin, and you also maintain a private menagerie of three dogs, a parrot, a monkey, a cheetah, an alligator, a boa constrictor and seven chameleons, then the chances are that people will talk. ... Working from exactly the same motives that now attract such scorn towards Angelina Jolie and Sean Penn, she chose, during the Franco-Prussian war, to turn the Odéon Theatre into a military hospital, ministering with great effectiveness and dedication to the injured, the maimed and the dying whom she laid out "in the lobbies, in the auditorium, in the wings, in the dressing rooms".

...For 200 years every generation of actors has claimed to be more "real" and therefore less artificial than the previous one. It can hardly be true of all of them or we would long have passed way beyond even the behaviourist point represented by Greta Gerwig's brilliant mumbling. Hailed as fresh and revolutionary when she set out, Bernhardt lived and worked long enough to be condemned as old-fashioned in Eleonora Duse's shadow. But anyone with my own prejudices is going to take note of what one observer called "her talent for endowing immobility with excitement" – as good a definition of a certain kind of great stage acting as I've heard.

...Meanwhile, in a world away from pretending to be someone else, actors are still, after all this time, assumed to be not quite legitimate when they express opinions on anything except how to find the stage door after dark. However easy it is to think of approved establishment names (I could pluck a dozen at random out of the air and still not reach the letter C) who spend their lives proclaiming things more shamingly stupid and downright wrong than anything even Mel Gibson ever said, somehow it is assumed that their membership of the reserve professions – politics and journalism – entitles them to immunity. They remain somehow exempt from the contempt freely doled out, say, to Vanessa Redgrave, to Kylie Minogue or, in her day, to Sarah Bernhardt. The relationship of public opinion to professional pretence remains as flatteringly complicated as it was in 19th-century France. People fear actors because they tell them something about themselves.

Artillery Fire

The always-unpredictable North Koreans decide they can get more through intimidation:

North Korea on Tuesday fired dozens of artillery rounds onto a populated South Korean island, apparently causing numerous casualties after Pyongyang claimed Seoul was readying for "an invasion," according to media reports here.

South Korean President Lee Myung-bak called an emergency session of his national security council in an underground bunker at the presidential residence late Tuesday to devise a response to the attack, which occurred near the disputed western border between north and south.

The South Korean military was placed on its highest alert with fighter jets sent into the air, after officials confirmed that one marine was killed and three others "severely" wounded, according to Seoul television reports. Ten soldiers suffered minor injuries and two civilians were among the casualties.

...The South Korean military was conducting drills near Yeonpyeong island when the North opened fire about 2:30 p.m. Seoul time, officials said. Pyongyang had earlier sent letters to Seoul that it considered the exercises "preparation for an invasion," which South Korea denied, officials said.

Lee said he was trying to prevent the exchange of artillery fire between North and South Korea from escalating into a greater conflict, Yonhap news reported.

Monday, November 22, 2010


Not bad for "barely literate clerics from the countryside." It is unfortunate this event occurred, however, because the Taliban has far more to gain from cooperation with the U.S. than by fighting it.:
KABUL, Afghanistan — For months, the secret talks unfolding between Taliban and Afghan leaders to end the war appeared to be showing promise, if only because of the repeated appearance of a certain insurgent leader at one end of the table: Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour, one of the most senior commanders in the Taliban movement.

But now, it turns out, Mr. Mansour was apparently not Mr. Mansour at all. In an episode that could have been lifted from a spy novel, United States and Afghan officials now say the Afghan man was an impostor, and high-level discussions conducted with the assistance of NATO appear to have achieved little.

...The fake Taliban leader even met with President Hamid Karzai, having been flown to Kabul on a NATO aircraft and ushered into the presidential palace, officials said.

...Many in the Taliban leadership, which is largely made up of barely literate clerics from the countryside, had not been seen in person by American, NATO or Afghan officials.

...As recently as last month, American and Afghan officials held high hopes for the talks. Senior American officials, including Gen. David H. Petraeus, said the talks indicated that Taliban leaders, whose rank-and-file fighters are under extraordinary pressure from the American-led offensive, were at least willing to discuss an end to the war.

...Since the last round of discussions, which took place within the past few weeks, Afghan and American officials have been puzzling over who the man was. Some Afghans say the man may have been a Taliban agent sent to impersonate Mr. Mansour. “The Taliban are cleverer than the Americans and our own intelligence service,” said a senior Afghan official who is familiar with the case. “They are playing games.”

Others suspect that the fake Taliban leader, whose real identity is not known, may have been dispatched by the Pakistani intelligence service, known by its initials, the ISI. Elements within the ISI have long played a “double-game” in Afghanistan, reassuring United States officials that they are actively pursuing the Taliban while at the same time providing support for the insurgents.

I Can't Imagine Why This Guy Is Still A Bachelor

Diplomatic skills like no other President:
Ian Khama, 57, is still a bachelor, a matter of concern in Botswana, a country that views its leader as a tribal chief.

President Khama has turned the tables on his followers, explaining he was too busy with affairs of state to find a companion.

"For your information, I want a woman who is tall, slim and good looking," he told a party meeting on the issue.

He then turned to the corpulent Botlhogile Tshireletso, a female minister, and said: "I don't want one like this one. She may fail to pass through the door, breaking furniture with her heavy weight and even break the vehicles' shock absorbers."

Yuck! Freezing Rain In Interior Alaska

Frank says: "glad I got out in time":
FAIRBANKS - Meteorologists described Monday’s widespread rainfall as an “epoch winter rain event” and it’s not over yet.

Two-tenths of an inch of rain had fallen at Fairbanks International Airport by noon Monday and forecasters at the National Weather Service said more than an inch of rain could fall by the time it stops, which is expected to be sometime Wednesday.

“We haven’t ever seen anything like this in the Interior,” hydrologist Ed Plumb at the National Weather Service in Fairbanks said Monday as the rain continued to fall.

An extremely warm and moist airmass moving around a large high pressure system over the North Pacific pumped warm, moist air into the Interior and much of the rest of the state early Monday morning, resulting in widespread rain from Anchorage to Barrow, said meteorologist Brad Sipperley.

...It marked only the second time in more than 100 years that measurable rainfall was recorded in Fairbanks in the second half of November, according to weather service records. The only other November rainfall on record was Nov. 24, 1936 when 0.42 inches of rain fell.

They Just Do Things Differently In Japan

From WTF Japan, Seriously!?:
Some people need more excitement then just riding a roller coaster. This guy squirts a huge tube of super spicy wasabi in his mouth and holds it there during the ride.

Linda Ostrofsky - "Can't Buy Me Love"

As part of Jetta's continuing efforts to attract the attention of the casting judges at "America's Got Talent" I've been continuing to take minute-and-a-half video shorts of her (others available at YouTube).

Here, the bobble at 0:48 suggests we need more practice.

"The Miley Show" - Celebrity Fun

The Orphans From DMTC's "Annie" On "Good Day Sacramento"

It's Great When Matt Taibbi Joins A Roundtable

Because he doesn't pull punches:
Gergen: If it were not for the extra boost of enthusiasm the Tea Party provided, I imagine the Republicans would have won only 40 to 50 seats, instead of the 60-plus they gained. But the Tea Party also makes it harder in the future for Republicans to maintain a coherent party. Matt is right that they will have a large voice in the nomination process in 2012. But one cannot discount that someone could arise, as Reagan did in the past, who can bridge the differences within the party and keep people united.

Taibbi: To me, the main thing about the Tea Party is that they're just crazy. If somebody is able to bridge the gap with those voters, it seems to me they will have to be a little bit crazy too. That's part of the Tea Party's litmus test: "How far will you go?"

Gergen: I flatly reject the idea that Tea Partiers are crazy. They had some eccentric candidates, there's no question about that. But I think they represent a broad swath of the American electorate that elites dismiss to their peril.

Hart: I agree with David. When two out of five people who voted last night say they consider themselves supporters of the Tea Party, we make a huge mistake to suggest that they are some sort of small fringe group and do not represent anybody else.

Taibbi: I'm not saying that they're small or a fringe group.

Gergen: You just think they're all crazy.

Taibbi: I do.

Gergen: So you're arguing, Matt, that 40 percent of those who voted last night are crazy?

Taibbi: I interview these people. They're not basing their positions on the facts — they're completely uninterested in the facts. They're voting completely on what they see and hear on Fox News and afternoon talk radio, and that's enough for them.

Gergen: The great unwashed are uneducated, so therefore their views are really beneath serious conversation?

Taibbi: I'm not saying they're beneath serious conversation. I'm saying that these people vote without acting on the evidence.

Gergen: I find it stunning that the conversation has taken this turn. I disagree with the Tea Party on a number of issues, but it misreads who they are to dismiss them as some kind of uneducated know-nothings who have somehow seized power in the American electorate. It is elitist to its core. We would all be better off if we spent more time listening to each other rather than simply writing them off.

Folks In Greymouth Asking Questions

Bitterness emerging:
West Coasters are stoic and they know mining and the problems posed in these particularly gassy Paparoa Range mines - and no one wants harm to come to the rescuers when they do go in.

But rumblings of discontent are emerging among some of the townsfolk we spoke to, that after four days rescuers still had not been into the Pike River coal mine to bring out the 29 men considered family by just about everyone in this tight-knit town of about 8000 people.

..."It wouldn't have happened in the old days," said a middle-aged man in blue overalls who works in refrigeration.

His father was in the Strongman mine, not far away, when it was rocked by an explosion in 1967, killing 19.

Many of them are buried at the town cemetery only streets away from the quiet main drag.

No one mucked around at Strongman, the man said, they went straight in to look for survivors.

..."Today, the police are responsible for decisions about when to go in - in the old days, they weren't, he said.

"The miners just went in. They were their own people back then.

..."And in come the other guys, 'cause they knew there was something wrong so they rushed in; there was no proper breathing gear back then.

..."Four days under an air pocket, 29 people, big ask. Big ask."

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Neighbors Were Aghast

This morning, I decided to give the hedge around my back yard a haircut. I climbed up and down the ladder and wielded the hedge trimmer like a barber.

Afterwards, I collected the leaf debris and tossed it into 55 gallon plastic container (or toter) and rolled it down to the corner (this week, in my neighborhood, the City of Sacramento deigns to pick up street piles the same way as it used to do traditionally without complaint, but these days it does only grudgingly in the autumn). The journey to the corner is always pleasant, because the neighbor's chihuahua comes out to her fence to collect loving attention from me as I pass by.

But today, as I rolled the container (with an open lid) down my driveway, the wheels began slipping out from under the container, and the container began tilting over. As I started running to catch up and regain control, I stepped on the open lid. The container toppled and I fell flat on my face.

I jumped up and quickly brushed myself off. T'ain't nothin'! But suddenly, I realized I had an audience. Unbeknownst to me, the apartment dwellers next to me had been poised to enter their parked auto as I was moving my leaves, and they saw the whole thing.

"Are you all right?" they asked. This couple, in their 20's, were serious and grave in demeanor. They were not accustomed to seeing people in their 50's fall flat on their faces. The fellow attempted some feeble humor: "I suppose this must be one of those days when nothing goes right." "I'm fine!" I said, with false cheeriness. Laughing, with effort, I said "I just - stepped on the lid!"

Like They Had Any Control At Any Time

This is the most-absurd story ever about a federal agency 'taking responsibility'. The Bureau of Land Management is the most over-stretched agency imaginable, and they had no real control over any of this. The blame lies entirely with the event organizers. Blaming the BLM is like blaming Bosnia, or butterflies, or bunions. Off-roading is a terrible hobby - an utterly destructive activity - and should be banned:
The federal Bureau of Land Management failed to follow its own safety and regulatory procedures during an August off-road desert race in San Bernardino County in which eight spectators were killed after a racer crashed into a crowd, an internal agency report released Friday concluded.

...Eight spectators were killed and 10 seriously injured in the California 200 night race in the Lucerne Valley when driver Brett Sloppy of San Marcos lost control of his modified Ford Ranger pickup after going airborne on a hill known as the "rock pile," where hundreds of fans had gathered to watch the race. The truck rolled into the crowd, which had crept to within a few feet of the track, just minutes after the race began.

The report also noted that the sponsor of the race, Mojave Desert Racing of South El Monte, told the federal agency that an estimated 200 to 300 people would attend the race. In fact, up to 2,000 spectators turned out.

Witnesses and video of the race, one of more than 130 such events held annually on BLM-controlled land in the California desert, showed that Mojave Desert Racing failed to adhere to a requirement in its BLM permit to keep spectators 50 feet away from the racing vehicles.

California Highway Patrol investigators said the truck came to rest less than 10 feet from the racecourse. The driver will not face charges related to the crash because it occurred during a "sanctioned" sporting event permitted by the BLM and did not involve public roadways, CHP officials have said.

However, the CHP is continuing its investigation and could ultimately hand over the agency's finding to local prosecutors, the state attorney general's office or the U.S. attorney's office, said Officer Daniel Hesser, spokesman for the CHP's Inland division.
...Daniel Patterson with Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, an advocacy group of government workers that has clashed with off-roaders, said the BLM in its report essentially admitted that the agency "let's the off-roaders run things" and that oversight has been nonexistent.

"We can see that when eight people are killed," Patterson said. "If the federal government cannot control these events and protect the safety of spectators, and protect the land, then why is the government permitting these events?"

Patterson added that BLM rangers are being pulled away from patrolling other federal lands — as far away as Wyoming — to monitor the off-road races in California, in essence subsidizing for-profit race promoters.

...The rangers brought into California for special events typically are from "off-season" locations where there are few visitors, she said. The BLM's California Desert District, where most of the off-road racing occurs, currently has 38 rangers patrolling 11 million acres.