Saturday, January 15, 2011

Shopping For Shoes With Joe The Plumber

It's been fairly dry recently, which just means it's time to return to fixing the fixed front porch yet again.

The last event in this saga was that the caulking (without silicone) dissolved away in the rain. Today we placed caulking with silicone into the gaps on the front porch (hopefully sturdier).

Returning from Home Depot, Joe the Plumber said: "Let's go to the Birkenstock shoe store! The owner has a voice like that of an angel!" I replied: "Like, um sure, why not, whatever." So off we went to the shoe store on J Street near 26th to listen to an angel.

Entering the store, I was shocked. It was Megan O'Laughlin! She was clerking the store on a very busy Saturday morning. I haven't seen her consistently at DMTC since, oh, 2005, or so.

These days she sells shoes. I bought some shoes. She said her parents are well. There was some unfinished theater business with her dad. He donated $50.00 to the theater in 2003, or so, with the explicit instruction that, since he couldn't afford a Name-A-Seat, perhaps the theater could put a commemorative plaque on a toilet paper roll holder in one of the bathrooms. We accepted the money, but distracted by day-to-day business, never came through with the plaque. I hope our dereliction doesn't keep him up late pacing the floors (it might keep me up late pacing the floors).

The shop owner indeed had an angelic voice, but she scarcely spoke, since Megan and I had much catching up to do and the shop was very busy and required her attention.

Afterwards, Joe the Plumber took me to his storage unit under Highway 50, near 15th Street. He had some fuzzy boots squirreled away in storage that he didn't like, and wondered if I might be interested. To my surprise, they fit. Despite growing up in the American Southwest, I've never owned any boots in my life. Now, in addition to a new pair of shoes, I now have a pair of slightly-used fuzzy Joe the Plumber boots.

Troubled Sparrow

Sluggish. Not. Very. Responsive.

Note To Self

6:30 p.m. is a bad time to finally notice that, when I drove into work at 8:03 a.m., I failed to turn off my car's headlights.

Spitting Nails, Yet Polite

Boy, that's a useful skill! (Interesting comment over at my Sarah Palin post.)

Friday, January 14, 2011

Inland Tsunami

Toowoomba sits on a plateau on the western side of an escarpment above the Lockyer Valley. Toowoomba's flood water headed west down a shallow slope to the Condamine River.

The storm was indiscriminate, though, and hit both sides of the escarpment. On the east side, the slope is very steep in places, and the flood was able to gather phenomenal power as it headed into the Lockyer Valley.

Best article I've seen yet:
At the same time, a rainstorm of equal ferocity on the eastern slopes of the range was falling on to already saturated ground. Water from every gully joined up and multiplied in power as it raced down the escarpment. Quarries filled and burst, sodden hillsides slumped in landslide, rivers formed on railway lines and cascaded down roadways until a wall of death witnesses say was up to 8m high was unleashed upon a string of settlements without warning.

It's estimated that up to 7.5 billion tonnes of water - 15 Sydney Harbours, if that can be imagined - crashed on to southeast Queensland during this week's superstorm.

...It simply overwhelmed water courses, sweeping over paddocks and leaving an indiscriminate swath of destruction.

...At 12.30pm, 30 minutes after the downpour high on the ridge above, the Matthews family was sheltering from the rain on McCormack Drive, Spring Bluff, unaware of the torrent that was about to blow apart their small cottage with its big, covered veranda, outdoor gym and above-ground swimming pool overlooking a stream that had never been more than a trickling brook.

A wall of water blew away the front and back walls of the cottage, sweeping childhood sweethearts Steven and Sandra Matthews into the torrent and their deaths. The water did not come down the creek line. It surged down a roadway from above. The Matthews's children, Sam, 20, and Victoria, 15, survived by sheltering in the roof cavity. Matthew's apprenticeship with his father saved his life. "We are electricians," Sam says. "Dad and I spent half our lives in roof cavities. I went for higher ground."

..."Our front yard was a river. I am surprised we are still alive."

"There was so much water," Victoria adds. " I couldn't even tell what direction it was coming from."

From Spring Bluff, water rushed east, sweeping all before it and crashing through Murphys Creek, a settlement of 500 people, at about 2pm. The surge of water exploded down the hill, undercutting the roadway and sweeping the landscape.

...Hoddinott was at home with her daughter Sophie watching in disbelief as the creek filled and raced towards them. She said the pair had only 10 minutes to collect their thoughts and belongings and flee to higher ground. When the water had passed, Hoddinott says, their house had escaped by centimetres. From the air, the path of destruction at Murphys Creek appears indiscriminate. In truth, the surge of water had been so strong it could not be contained within the established river course. As a result, some homes near the river had been left unscathed while others were blown apart.

From Murphys Creek, floodwaters flowed to Postmans Ridge. "The water came 5m deep; it slammed my place and shook my place, and about five minutes later the rest of the water came down the creek and swamped us," says Postmans Ridge resident Rod Alford.

He watched a wall of water higher than the roof smash into the home of his neighbour, Sylvia Baillie, washing her away and removing everything but the concrete slab on which the house had been built. "It hit it so hard the house exploded," he says. "They found her car 750m away. It had been parked on her front lawn. We saw her go. We know she is dead but they have got to find the body to confirm it."

Alford says the amount of damage to the town is extraordinary, houses demolished, others unlivable. "This was a babbling brook surrounded with trees and look at it. I had magical gardens down there, horse stables and yards. It's all gone."

...Wood says Armageddon is the closest he can come to describing it. "I've never seen anything like it," he told the ABC, "and I never want to see anything like it again. We thought we were going to die."

...Brisbane Lord Mayor Campbell Newman said Wivenhoe Dam's ability to release water gradually to prevent flooding had been swamped. "The dam is full. Every bit of rain that falls on the catchment can get to Brisbane, and there is not much more we can do about that. They now have to discharge that water because more is on the way. Unfortunately, the big shock absorber that is that dam is now full."

Wivenhoe had hit 191 per cent capacity by using overflow storages. The Somerset Dam behind it was full as well. Water was being disgorged into the Brisbane River through five spill gates, each cascade producing a rooster-tail plume of water. By Tuesday, Wivenhoe was spilling water into the river at a rate of 645,000 megalitres a day, everyone knowing it would have to be cut back in coming days as water flowed into the river, below the dam wall, from the Lockyer River and Bremer River, which cuts through Ipswich.

It is believed the Wivenhoe Dam came within 90cm of blowing "a fuse plug", which would have crumbled an emergency spill wall and released a wave of water with devastating consequences for Brisbane.

"Managing" The Floods Near Brisbane - Frightening Stories Begin Emerging

That horrifying moment when you realize your worst fears are happening right now!

In 2006, I spent a couple of days in the Lockyer Valley watching water birds at little lakes just outside the U of Q campus at Gatton. That's just about ground-zero for this flood. I wonder how those lakes fared? Are the birds OK? And the crops in the area? Where will Brisbane get its fresh produce now? And, as always, are the people OK?:
The rainfall record for Helidon had been set in the 1974 floods. On Tuesday the water gauge in the local creek soared past that record, with a reading of 5.2m before it was washed away.

In nearby Gatton, the record water flow in Lockyer Creek used to be 16.33m, set back in 1893. It surged to 18.92m on Tuesday before the creek gauge also stopped, swept away by the forces it was designed to measure.

"They were the stats that really stand out to me from the week," bureau hydrologist Jimmy Stewart said.

...The crazy rain readings mesmerised people whose lives would now be shaped by them.

At 10am on Tuesday, Cr Newman had his "holy heck" moment when he was sitting in a Local Disaster Management Group meeting in Ann St, Brisbane, and the gathering became spellbound by the sight of a storm of biblical proportions on their screen.

"That was a defining moment, when we realised it was a real flood and it was coming," Cr Newman said.

He retired briefly to his office late on Tuesday and called up rain readings on his computer.

A figure of 250mm left him stunned and facing the harsh reality that the toughest days of his life were ahead of him.

"For me, that moment when I looked at the reading, it was the incredible feeling of a burden on my shoulders," Cr Newman said.

"This is happening and I am going to deal with it."

Premier Anna Bligh called Brisbane a post-war zone and Cr Newman could not argue as he sent the type of "blow up the bridge" messages he might have once seen as a boy watching Hogan's Heroes.

When Brisbane's Riverwalk started to disintegrate and float out to Moreton Bay, he gave permission to "destroy" the bridge. The plan was aborted because it was considered too dangerous.

Riverwalk, built at a cost of $17 million, and supposed to last 30 years, lasted only a decade before becoming a glorified crab pot.

With intense rain being recorded across catchments from Brisbane to the Darling Downs, after consulting bureau hydrologists SEQ Water Grid managers decided to lift releases from Wivenhoe Dam to 240,000ML about midnight on Tuesday.

It was a terrible juggling act as managers balanced weather predictions, the effect of tides, further rain, run-off and flooded downstream catchments. By that point every dam in the southeast was spilling water.

But it could have been worse. While that was happening, grid managers were drawing up plans to cope with an utterly horrendous 6.5m flood far worse than the current mark and the possibility of an even greater catastrophe. It was a close thing.

"If Wivenhoe Dam had got another 600mm of water it would have gone through the secondary spillway, which operates automatically," Cr Newman said.

"If that had happened it would have been a flood of a much greater height. A couple of hours more rain and it could have been much more dire."

Dread For Those Picking Through The Lockyer Valley

No one is looking forward to this work:
In the Lockyer Valley area west of Brisbane, a flash flood swept through the town of Toowoomba this week, killing at least 14 people and leaving more than 70 missing.

Poor weather has continued to hamper rescue operations there and in other parts of the state.

Police have warned that there are likely to be gruesome finds, and Bligh said the country should brace for disturbing discoveries in the days ahead.

"I don't think anything can prepare any of us for what we might see in the Lockyer Valley," she said in one of a series of news conferences she has been holding every two hours over the last few days.

Queensland police earlier had declined to comment on suggestions that there was a "mass grave" underneath a bridge in the Lockyer Valley town of Grantham, which police have cordoned off as they search for bodies.

"The problem we have is that the people have been washed out of their homes, and some of the homes are actually destroyed, like bombs have gone off there," Ian Stewart, Queensland's deputy police commissioner, told Australian television Thursday. "It's a war scene in the Lockyer Valley today."

Damnable Irritation On The Right Side

About an hour ago, one of my Sarah Palin posts came to the attention of the readership of an Arizonan online right-wing political forum.

Ooooh, I don't think they like me that much. Like the Frogs say, "c'est la vie."

Teh Cartoonist Is Funny

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Greta Gerwig Talks About "No Strings Attached"

Opportunistic Sharks

Not lawyers either:
BUTCHER Steven Bateman spotted two bull sharks swimming near his Goodna shop yesterday - one of several reports of a sharks in Goodna's main street.

The Queensland Times reported the shark sightings, 30km from the coast, with Ipswich local councillor Paul Tully confirming it was a bizarre but true story out of Queensland's flood disaster.

``It would have swum several kilometres in from the river, across Evan Marginson Park and the motorway,'' Cr Tully said.

Hamburger Man

A second effort at comedy from Jetta and myself. Once again, this is Jetta's concept: I'm just an actor here, and claim no responsibility....

Straight Shooter

Wouldn't want to give anyone any ideas, now would we?:
Several weeks ago, NewsTalk 790 KNST in Tucson put up a billboard to advertise Rush Limbaugh's radio show. The text reads, "Rush Limbaugh/Straight Shooter," and the ad is riddled with images of bullet holes. In the wake of the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) and 18 others on Saturday, KNST's parent company, Clear Channel, decided to take down the billboard.

Maybe This Is What Thomas Friedman Meant By The World Becoming Flat

Blame The Victim

It isn't just the blood-libelled diva from Wasilla who's sulking. The Tucson Tea Party folks are feeling victimized too. But perhaps Humphries has a point. Maybe it was all Gabrielle Gifford's fault. And when Sarah Palin gets shot, it will be all her fault too:
Pressed on whether he was concerned when he heard Giffords's warning about Palin's use of gunsights and calls for supporters not to retreat but "reload" in fighting Democrats, Humphries did not retreat. "It's political gamesmanship. The real case is that she [Giffords] had no security whatsoever at this event. So if she lived under a constant fear of being targeted, if she lived under this constant fear of this rhetoric and hatred that was seething, why would she attend an event in full view of the public with no security whatsoever?" he said.

Kylie Minogue's "Aphrodite" Tour Coming To North America!

The "Aphrodite Live 2011" World Tour is coming to North America!
Kylie Minogue is embarking on her second North American tour this spring!

Check out the dates below to see Kylie in a city near you!

"Aphrodite Live 2011" North American Dates

April 28 - Montreal - Bell Centre
April 29 - Boston, MA - Agganis Arena at Boston University
April 30 - Washington DC - GMU Patriot Center
May 2 - NYC, NY - Manhattan Center's Hammerstein Ballroom
May 3 - NYC, NY - Manhattan Center's Hammerstein Ballroom
May 6 - Atlanta, GA - Fox Theatre
May 7 - Fort Lauderdale, FL - Bank Atlantic Center
May 8 - Orlando, FL - Hard Rock Live Orlando
May 10 - Houston, TX - Verizon Wireless Theatre
May 12 - Mexico City - Sports Palace
May 14 - Guadalajara, Mexico - Auditorio Telmex
May 16 - Monterrey, Mexico - Arena
May 18 - Dallas, TX - Verizon Theatre at Grand Prairie
May 20 - Los Angeles, CA - Hollywood Bowl
May 21 - San Francisco, CA - Bill Graham Civic Auditorium
May 22 - Las Vegas, NV - Colosseum at Caesars Palace

Jared Loughner's Former Girl Friend Thinks He's Faking

[UPDATE: Fascinating - the Washington Post ignores the faking angle. The difference between local news and national infotainment, I suppose: the national folks miss the story.]

Smart guy; not mentally ill:
"He just seemed like one of those kids who kind of kept to himself. He was very, very quiet. I kind of made the effort to talk to him because he kind of kept to himself. He was actually a really nice kid when it came to it…we started dating when I just turned 15," added Figueroa.

...Ashley told us Jared became scary sometimes, "What was Jared like as a boyfriend when you did start dating?" KGUN9 asked. "He was overall, he was good. But, he had a temper problem. He used to scare me sometimes and that's why I left him. He kind of made me feel uncomfortable at times. He'd get really mad, clench his fist and then throw a kind of little tantrum; he'd flail his arms and walk off," added Figueroa.

"What sort of things would set him off that way? KGUN9 asked. "Things about the government, things about politics...anything that pretty much had to do with the government." she said.

Figueroa added, that Loughner basically kind of thought that the government was crap and that it was just this big, bad thing that was trying to just take over everybody and that we had no say in anything; that we were controlled by them 100%, and he strongly disagreed and felt people should be able to make own choices," she noted.

...Figueroa believes Loughner planned the shooting, "He's a smart kid, I think he did his homework. And, I think he's playing everything. I think he's trying to get sent to a psych ward because he doesn't want to go to jail because he didn't die like he wanted to."

..."There's a lot of people out there right now who are saying Jared Loughner is mentally ill, I know you're not a doctor, but your gut feeling, is he mentally ill or an accumulation of everything you talked about?" "I don't think he's mentally ill at all. I think he's honestly, I think he's faking everything. I think he's planned it, planned for sometime."
Which brings me to another thing which has been bothering me....

Some people might look at this picture and see a seriously-mentally-ill person.

Maybe I'm getting jaded from having spent so many years in Sacramento-area community theater, but when I look at this picture, I see an actor....

Just sayin'....

Some Of These Areas Were Virtually Swept Off The Planet!

A landscape devastated by the torrent of water that flowed from Toowomba into the Lockyer Valley. Picture: John Grainger


Warwick is almost isolated. Then this:

A strict 60kmh speed limit remains in place from Withcott to Helidon and the Warrego Highway remains cut at Gatton.

The Warrego Highway between Oakey and Dalby is also closed to all vehicles except emergency service vehicles.
Queensland is bigger than Texas and the Warrego Highway is the largest of only about four "highways" that penetrate the interior from the coast (some of these roads weren't in the best of shape even before the flooding). Cutting the Warrego Highway virtually isolates hundreds of thousands people scattered over an area larger than New Mexico. And who knows for how long?

Queensland has big problems....

Flood Crests, But The Damage Is All About

It sounds like Brisbane's flood crest was not as high as feared (cutting back water releases from Wivenhoe Dam helped), but electricity is out in many places, supplies are running down, and transportation is a big headache.

Some of the news stories are a bit old. Just getting news out from the worst-hit areas is probably problematic:
MORE than 25,000 residents in Brisbane's western suburbs have been sitting in the dark in flooded homes with no food, power or running water.

The suburbs of Bellbowrie, Moggill, Pullenvale, Karana Downs, Mt Crosby and Pullenvale have become isolated by floodwaters.

Member for Moggill Bruce Flegg said: "Some have run out of food completely and there is no way in or out."

He said Bellbowrie shopping centre and hundreds of homes were underwater.

"There is nowhere to get food. Right now this is possible Brisbane's greatest area of need," Dr Flegg said.

He said there was no boat or air access.

Families also complained they had also run out of babies' nappies.

"Bellbowrie has the highest percentage of children in Brisbane," he said. "These families need help."

Beth Gaines Declares Candidacy

It seems odd that after John Doolittle's efforts to mix business with family came to a bad end that the Gaines family would think along parallel lines:
Beth Gaines will run for the Sacramento-area Assembly seat vacated by her husband, Ted.

The Roseville Republican announced her candidacy today in a written statement featuring the slogan, "Conservative for Assembly."

The 4th District Assembly seat was vacated by Ted Gaines when he was sworn in Jan. 6 as a state senator, replacing the late Dave Cox, a Fair Oaks Republican who died last July.

Gaines' Republican opponents for the seat include John Allard, Roseville councilman; Michael Babich, an Auburn college instructor and businessman who lost to Rep. Tom McClintock in a congressional primary last year; and Mike O'Connor of Lincoln, a retiree and former Yuba County assistant personnel director.

Democrat Dennis J. Campanale -- a retired West Sacramento division fire chief who lost to Ted Gaines in November for the 4th District Assembly seat -- also has declared his candidacy in a race that will feature an "open primary."

Candidates from all parties will run in the March 8 primary. If none receives more than 50 percent of the vote, the top two vote-getters - regardless of party -- will square off in a May 3 general election.

Bev Liked "Chess"

Nice review (although the dead-tree version had some odd features):
The Davis Musical Theatre Company has hit one out of the ballpark with its wonderful new production of 'Chess,' directed by Steve Isaacson, with musical direction by Isaacson and Jonathan Rothman, and choreography by Pamela Lourentzos.

...Holmes is marvelous as the boorish Trumper while Ditter, in addition to bringing a wonderful voice to the role, also adds a quiet dignity to the proceedings.

Repeating the role she played in 2000, Andrea Eve Thorpe is wonderful as the adult Florence Vassy. Her voice has the proper brassy tone to bring the right sound to the Ulvaeus/Anderson music. Her duet with Anatoly's wife Svetlana (Eimi Taormina), 'I Know Him So Well,' is a show-stopper. It's a painful acknowledgment by a wife and a lover that neither of them can give their man all he needs.

(It was nice to see the talented Taormina in such a meaty role.)

Other excellent performances are given by Roger Clark, as the perfect KGB agent, Ivan Molokov. Jeffrey Lloyd Heatherly is Walter Anderson, the American opportunist who finds a way to manipulate both sides to his own advantage. Elio Gutierrez is memorable in the short role of the arbiter.

...John Ewing's scenic design was simple, but beautiful. The floor is painted a black-and-white checkerboard and the pattern is repeated on the back wall. The wall is occasionally lit in various shades of red (lighting design by Steve Isaacson), providing an effective mood change.

Abdication Of Duty

John Boehner makes an inexcusable mistake as a national leader. You never, ever turn down requests like this. It is highly-disrespectful to the Office of the President. If the President had been Republican, no Democrat would have dreamed of refusing.

Once again, loyalty to the GOP takes precedence to loyalty to the United States.:
Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) turned down an offer by President Barack Obama to travel on Air Force One to Arizona for a memorial service on behalf of the victims of Saturday’s shooting, a decision that has upset some Democrats.

Boehner is instead scheduled to attend a reception on Wednesday night on behalf of Maria Cino, a former top House GOP aide who is seeking the Republican National Committee chairmanship. Boehner is backing Cino’s challenge to current RNC Chairman Michael Steele.

...“It is disrespectful for Speaker Boehner to skip joining the President’s and bipartisan congressional delegation to the Tucson Memorial so he could host a Washington D.C. cocktail party for RNC members,” said a Democratic leadership aide, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Raising Haiti's Earthquake Death Toll

Wow, that's more people than live in Stockton!:
PORT-AU-PRINCE (Reuters) - The death toll from Haiti's devastating 2010 earthquake was more than 316,000, Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive said on Wednesday, raising the figures from previous estimates on the first year anniversary of the disaster.

She's B-a-a-a-a-ck!

One nice thing about the last several days was that we hadn't heard very much from Sarah Palin in Alaska.

But on days that were supposed to be reserved for honoring victims of the massacre, she has decided to remind people that, in her view, the real victim was her:
"Like many, I've spent the past few days reflecting on what happened and praying for guidance," Palin said. "After this shocking tragedy, I listened at first puzzled, then with concern, and now with sadness, to the irresponsible statements from people attempting to apportion blame for this terrible event."

Palin strongly pushed back at the notion that overheated political speech helped give rise to a climate that placed lawmakers such as Giffords at risk.

"Vigorous and spirited public debates during elections are among our most cherished traditions. And after the election, we shake hands and get back to work, and often both sides find common ground back in D.C. and elsewhere," Palin said. "As I said while campaigning for others last March in Arizona during a very heated primary race, 'We know violence isn't the answer. When we "take up our arms," we're talking about our vote.' "

She saved her harshest words for "media and pundits," whom she said "should not manufacture a blood libel that serves only to incite the hatred and violence that they purport to condemn. That is reprehensible."

...Unlike some conservatives, Palin stayed away from trying to pin the accused gunman, Jared Lee Loughner, as a left-leaning anarchist, calling him instead a "deranged, apparently apolitical criminal."
No, Sarah, when we "take up our arms," we're talking about taking up arms. Assuming it means much more than that is part of the problem here.

And use of the term "blood label" is a big mistake. It means much more than a false accusation. It is fraught with the history of Jewish massacres, and mixing it up with a massacre resulting in severe injuries to Arizona's first Jewish Congresswoman - this will just needlessly antagonize Jews in the U.S., and worldwide too.

Sarah Palin, at heart, is still the same communications major and sorority sister from Idaho that she was back in the 80's. She simply does not know enough about European history to be wading into this swamp with confidence.

I like what Congressman James Clyburn has to say:
"You know, Sarah Palin just can't seem to get it, on any front. I think she's an attractive person, she is articulate," Clyburn said on the Bill Press radio show, according to The Hill. "But I think intellectually, she seems not to be able to understand what's going on here."

Clyburn said that his experiences in the Civil Rights Era gives him a different understanding of the relationship between rhetoric and action, and says what he sees and hears today reminds him of what he heard back then.

"I have some experiences that maybe she does not have," he said. "When I see and hear things today that are reminiscent of that period of time, I am very, very concerned about it, because I know what it led to back then, and I know what it can lead to again."
Or maybe Sarah Palin has just decided it's time we did something about the problem of blood libel by killing the Jews. I mean, does she really want to confuse matters so much that some latter-day Jack Ruby becomes alarmed enough to fight back?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Special Election - Fourth Assembly Seat - Cheryl Bly-Chester Is Running!

Cheryl Bly-Chester just called to announce she is running for the Fourth Assembly Seat in a Special Election to be held on March 8th! The Roseville Press-Tribune has an article:
Ted Gaines’ Senate District 1 win leaves the 4th Assembly District seat open, and several people are already thinking of filling it, including Gaines’ wife, Beth.

The California Secretary of State Office reported its semi-official special election results at 11 p.m. Tuesday. Gaines, R-Roseville, received 81,945 votes, or 63.2 percent of the vote, and Mayor Ken Cooley, D-Rancho Cordova, received 47,743 votes, or 36.8 percent of the vote.

The Placer County Office of Elections reported in its semi-official election night results that Gaines received 19,632 votes, or 63.35 percent of the vote in Placer County, and Cooley received 11,229 votes, or 36.23 percent of the vote. There were 130 write-in votes.

...Now several Assembly hopefuls are getting ready to gear up for their campaigns.

According to Dave Gilliard, Ted Gaines’ campaign consultant, Beth Gaines is seriously looking at running for the seat.

“I think you could expect a decision within a week,” Gilliard said Wednesday. “I would say she’s very excited about the possibility, but she’s not going to make any rash decisions. She wants to make sure she makes the right decision.”

...Auburn City Councilman Keith Nesbitt said he plans to make a decision by the end of this week on whether or not he will run.

“I am contemplating a run,” Nesbitt said. “I’m going to talk to a few more people, kind of gauge my support.”

...Republican John Allard II, who has been a Roseville city councilman for seven years, said he is throwing his hat into the ring.

“Yes, I absolutely am running for the 4th Assembly District,” Allard said.

...Auburn Councilman Kevin Hanley said he thought about running for the Assembly seat, but decided not to.

“I seriously considered it, but I’m not going to do it,” Hanley said. “I just ran for an election for City Council, and I kind of decided that Project Canyon Safe has two more years of hard work … by me and the Fire Safe Council.
The Roseville-area Fourth Assembly district is heavily-Republican, but Democrats have been doing better there in recent elections (not well enough to win, but better).

The Special Election is open: anyone can run, regardless of party affiliation.

At this moment, Cheryl has two other opponents: Beth Gaines (wife of Ted Gaines), and John Allard (staffer for Tim Leslie and veteran of the Roseville City Council). All three are Republicans. For this election, Cheryl will decline-to-state party affiliation on the ballot (the irony being, of course, that Cheryl is the most-active of the three candidates in local Republican Party politics). Other folks may yet run for the seat, however.

Cheryl needs donations, though (no war chest, and a snap election too). Send money!

Here It Comes....

Today the Brisbane River and its tributaries will receive yesterday's rain and flood the City.

Relax, Hardly Anyone On The Left Wants Censorship

Now it's time for the Right to start freaking out about events in Tucson. In particular, they are worried about new censorship:
These critics' aim is simply to exploit this horror as an opportunity to yell "shut up" at their political opponents.
It's been fun watching the FOX folks squirm on TV.

Nevertheless, most liberals don't want censorship either. Or some say they do, but would abandon it in an instant if even momentarily inconvenienced. What liberals do want is for conservatives to stop insinuating murder threats into their political campaigns. Such threats have become so common that people have become almost inured to them.

For an example, last year, Congresswoman Shultz's Republican opponent held a fundraiser at a shooting range where he fired at silhouettes with her initials on them. Stuff like that. Is that really necessary?

It is common courtesy, and common sense too, and sportsmanlike, not to menace one's political opponent even glancingly with threats of violence. Sarah Palin is taking heat now for having violated that point of common courtesy. Would it have so seriously affected her ability to campaign to avoid talk of 'reloading' last year, particularly after a week when so many other threats from the Right against Democratic candidates had been reported nationwide? Is her ability to speak freely so seriously impaired? Because of her poor judgment last year, she'll have to increase the number of her bodyguards now. Sarah Palin alone is to blame for that sad necessity.

Bill O'Reilly is saying liberals are lashing out now because the 'failure of the Far Left agenda'. If liberals lost their agenda, Bill, then why does the Right constantly need to use murder threats to maintain their supremacy?

It's also wise not to question the loyalty of one's opponents, because it leads directly to threats of violence. Politicians like Richard Nixon loved this approach, because debating skills can always fend off accusations of playing dirty, plus one gets the intimidation factor too, but it's still a bad idea. Indeed, here is this scary news story about the 2008 campaign from the Telegraph (UK):
The Republican vice presidential candidate attracted criticism for accusing Mr Obama of "palling around with terrorists", citing his association with the sixties radical William Ayers.

The attacks provoked a near lynch mob atmosphere at her rallies, with supporters yelling "terrorist" and "kill him" until the McCain campaign ordered her to tone down the rhetoric.

But it has now emerged that her demagogic tone may have unintentionally encouraged white supremacists to go even further.

The Secret Service warned the Obama family in mid October that they had seen a dramatic increase in the number of threats against the Democratic candidate, coinciding with Mrs Palin's attacks.

...Details of the spike in threats to Mr Obama come as a report last week by security and intelligence analysts Stratfor, warned that he is a high risk target for racist gunmen. It concluded: "Two plots to assassinate Obama were broken up during the campaign season, and several more remain under investigation. We would expect federal authorities to uncover many more plots to attack the president that have been hatched by white supremacist ideologues."

Irate John McCain aides, who blame Mrs Palin for losing the election, claim Mrs Palin took it upon herself to question Mr Obama's patriotism, before the line of attack had been cleared by Mr McCain.
Toning down the campaign rhetoric would help immensely in restoring public civility.

Regarding radio talk show hosts and the like, they should be increasingly wary too. They are prominent public people, and not nearly as obscure as they might sometimes think. Can the Right find the maturity to finally start disapproving of things they typically wink at, like Ann Coulter's oh-so-witty repartee:
My only regret with Timothy McVeigh is he did not go to the New York Times Building.
She is a clever one, ain't she! Cute as a button!

Myself, I'm pessimistic. The media incentives are all established to reward those who push the envelope the hardest and who display the least common sense.

So, surprise me....

One Connection Visible, So Far

A writer at Salon wonders what exactly is the connection between the political climate and a crazed fellow like Loughner:
We know that no connection between Loughner and Tea Party politics has been established, and what we have learned about him strongly suggests that he lacked a recognizable political identity. He looks to be a deranged young man and it's unclear if he was even aware of the political debate/conversation that the rest of us follow every day. There's just no evidence of any connection between Loughner and Palin, the Tea Party and conservative movement.

...What specific evidence is there that the "climate" was relevant to Loughner's thinking? When was the moment that the tone set by Palin and the Tea Party kicked in and turned his obsession with grammar, literacy and "currency" into something lethal? Where's the evidence that he was even aware of the "climate" in the same way that those of us who watch cable news and read blogs all day are? All I've heard so far is evidence-free, non-quantifiable speculation.
Even with the little we know so far, there is already one straightforward connection visible. As I posted yesterday:
Loughner would occasionally mention Giffords, according to Tierney: "It wasn't a day in, day-out thing, but maybe once in a while, if Giffords did something that was ridiculous or passed some stupid law or did something stupid, he related that to people."
How would an apolitical person, as Loughner appears to be, feel comfortable asserting Giffords' stupidity without considerable help from Giffords' opponents?

Take Cheerleading - Impress Your Friends

At DMTC's "Guys and Dolls" auditions, there was a new auditionee named Jenny, who apparently has some cheerleading experience. She worked with DMTC veteran Travis Nagler, who is a pretty big guy, to improvise an impressive feat.

Imaginary Conversation Regarding The Assignment Of Mortgages

This would be funny if it wasn't so sad. Dealing with the Massachusetts Ibanez decision:
The solution to this seems easy enough. From now on, banks seeking to foreclose should just make sure that whoever is the last recorded assignee grants a new assignment to the foreclosing entity before the bank takes any action. No doubt this is what Goodman has in mind when she says banks will go back and re-document the assignments.

...But you have a bit of a problem. You didn’t buy the mortgage from Option One. They aren’t under any contractual obligation to you to execute any documents. So when you call, here’s how the conversation goes.

US Bank dude: “Hey, can I speak to whoever it is who is handling the Ibanez mortgage?”

Option One guy (after some delay): “No one handles that mortgage. We sold it five years ago to Lehman and closed the file.”

US Bank: “Right. Okay. Well, I need you to find someone who will execute an assignment of the mortgage to me.”

Option One: “First of all, no one who handled that mortgage still works here. You might have heard about the mortgage meltdown, right? Second, we sold it to Lehman, according to the file.”

US Bank: “Right. But I bought it from Lehman.”

Option One: “So get the assignment from Lehman.”

US Bank: “They’re an empty company that is in bankruptcy.”

Option One: “I’ve heard about that. Thanks for the news.”

US Bank: “So I need you to execute the assignment.”

Option One: “First of all, you’re going to have to show me that you bought the loan from Lehman. Second, I need to talk to legal to make sure I can assign a mortgage to someone we never dealt with. Third, how much are you willing to pay me to do all this?”

US Bank: “Pay you? I already own the mortgage.”

Option One: “The mortgage we sold to Lehman. If Lehman asks for the assignment, we’ll do it as part of that deal. But, as far as I can tell, I don’t owe you anything. If you want an assignment, you’re going to at least be paying the legal bills for the legal opinion that says it’s okay for us to do this.”

US Bank: "You don't have to be an [expletive deleted] about this."

Option One: "I also don't have to give you an assignment."

Monday, January 10, 2011

Puzzling Out The Grudge

Strange dude:
Tierney, who's also 22, recalls Loughner complaining about a Giffords event he attended during that period. He's unsure whether it was the same one mentioned in the charges—Loughner "might have gone to some other rallies," he says—but Tierney notes it was a significant moment for Loughner: "He told me that she opened up the floor for questions and he asked a question. The question was, 'What is government if words have no meaning?'"

"He said, 'Can you believe it, they wouldn't answer my question.' Ever since that, he thought she was fake, he had something against her."Giffords' answer, whatever it was, didn't satisfy Loughner. "He said, 'Can you believe it, they wouldn't answer my question,' and I told him, 'Dude, no one's going to answer that,'" Tierney recalls. "Ever since that, he thought she was fake, he had something against her."

...Loughner would occasionally mention Giffords, according to Tierney: "It wasn't a day-in, day-out thing, but maybe once in a while, if Giffords did something that was ridiculous or passed some stupid law or did something stupid, he related that to people. But the thing I remember most is just that question. I don't remember him stalking her or anything." Tierney notes that Loughner did not display any specific political or ideological bent: "It wasn't like he was in a certain party or went to rallies...It's not like he'd go on political rants."

But Loughner did, according to Tierney, believe that government is "fucking us over." He never heard Loughner vent about the perils of "currency," as Loughner did on one YouTube video he created.

...As Loughner and Tierney grew closer, Tierney got used to spending the first ten minutes or so of every day together arguing with Loughner's "nihilist" view of the world. "By the time he was 19 or 20, he was really fascinated with semantics and how the world is really nothing—illusion," Tierney says.

"Once, Tierney recalls, Loughner told him, "I'm pretty sure I've come to the conclusion that words mean nothing." Loughner would also tell Tierney and his friends that life "means nothing," and they'd reply, "If it means nothing, what you're saying means nothing."

La Niña Setting Records/ Astonishing Floods!

Wow, look at this! Mt. Glorious received 262 mm of rain in the last 24 hours! That's more than 10 inches of rain! In 24 hours! That's more rain than Albuquerque gets in a year, compressed into 24 hours! And all that water rushes immediately downhill too, where it causes even more problems!

Wow! The Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) is rarely this high!
The monthly SOI for December was +27, which is the highest December SOI value on record and the highest value for any month since November 1973. The 5-month running mean (centred on October) was +21.

Toowoomba Smashed By Flash Floods

These photos are just astonishing. Massive flooding is now causing massive chaos in SE Queensland and NE NSW: particularly so in Toowoomba.

I fondly remember my visit there in 2006.

Toowoomba made headlines a few years ago (2005) because the city was so dry that they were considering recycling sewage into drinking water in a desperate move to make ends meet.

Now, it looks like it's so wet there, and there is so much water everywhere, that they may have accidentally introduced sewage into all their drinking water. The El Niño/ La Niña pendulum is a fearsome thing!

Queensland is taking a huge, huge hit these days. Recovery will take years and require endless amounts of money.

These photos are just shocking....

Empathetic Liberals Make A Plea

And when David Gergen goes on CNN and complains that Democrats are irresponsible and overreacting to events in Arizona and unfairly putting Sarah Palin in a bad light, please do not point out to him that he is just a tool of strident conservative eliminationists, because that might cause him some mild embarrassment in front of his mainstream media friends.

And when Brit Hume goes on FOX News and decries efforts to rein in wild rhetoric, but sensing a censorship opportunity perhaps, shrugs his shoulders and decides that 'Fascist' and 'Nazi' have to go from political discourse, but 'Socialist' has to stay because "there are Socialists on Capitol Hill!" - please don't point out that it's only Bernie Sanders and that Socialists haven't had a real presence on Capitol Hill since about 1930, and that he just looks silly.

E. Buys A Car

E.: MMMMAAAARRRRCCCC! I got a new car!

M.: What kind of car is it?

C.: A 2004 Ford Taurus.

M.: From Future Ford?

C.: (nods yes)

E.: And C. helped with the money too!

M.: That's good!

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Sarah Palin, Dead Woman Walking

We still don't know too much about Jared Lee Loughner, but certain similarities in writing style suggest he may be under the influence of the Right: in particular, the writings of tax conspiracist David Wynn Miller. (The Right features a whole menagerie of Tax Protest organizations - I remember attending Pilot Connection meetings in 1993, but no one there was so ambitious as to construct an entire new grammar!)

Now that I'm plugged in to Cable TV again, I can begin to see firsthand how the news from Tucson is playing out on TV.

The first thing I notice is that the media elites are working overtime to convince people that liberals are at fault for noticing that it is OK to target Democrats for murder threats and that if liberals object to this state of affairs it's their fault if one of their own gets hurt. On CNN, David Gergen disapproved of what he called an overreaction on the Left (regarding shrill protests directed towards Sarah Palin). He called it irresponsible.

Really, David! I'm sorry, but when Democrats get assassinated for being Democrats, there is going to be an overreaction on the Left!

I also noted how CNN did not challenge a libertarian blogger (Neal Boortz) when he made up, out of thin air, violent quotes supposedly uttered by Barack Obama, then blamed the deterioration of politics on the Left. And for this claptrap we need a media?

Last night, I even took a brief look at FOX News, specifically Geraldo Rivera's show. His guests (a sort of motley crew that included one person in a pinstripe suit who looked and acted like Tony Soprano) were intent on portraying the events in Arizona as a "tragedy" (It's unclear what the tragic element is - no hubris here - except, by removing the human element, it becomes more like a natural event and thus no one's fault.) When asked if the shooter could be politically motivated from the Right, everyone demurred and said no, of course not. The shooter was crazy (they used the term "Looney Tunes"). Warming up to the subject about the Left's concerns and Looney Tunes, the panel started laughing. Laughing. Right-wing thugs in suits, laughing on FOX News about murder.

It's always a difficult thing, going on the air to explain to a worried world about assassination. A degree of empathy is required. The behavior of this crew certainly crystallized my reaction. If the purpose of FOX News is to control the masses, I think they don't realize their own limitations.

Remember, the political atmosphere in Arizona has been deteriorating for years, as right-wing bullies swagger around down there with their menacing threats: sometimes about border issues, sometimes about Hispanics, often about health care reform. This shooting is just part of a long-running process.

And a national process too. Remember what Ann Coulter once said:
My only regret with Timothy McVeigh is he did not go to the New York Times Building.
And the Right endorses this kind of talk too. How nice!

Murder by proxy has been a long-running political game in the United States. If you ramp up the rhetoric long enough, and hard enough, some mentally-unbalanced person will take the hint and do your dirty work for you. It's the American Way. And look, clean hands! The Kennedys died this way. Martin Luther King too. Nothing has changed since the Sixties. And now the Right wants this tool at their disposal. Handy!

I find it interesting that probably half the people in the country believe John F. Kennedy was killed as a result of a conspiracy, when the evidence regarding a conspiracy has several significant logical holes. That is one of the reasons I believe JFK was shot by Oswald alone - even the single-bullet theory is more convincing than some of the other claptrap one has to believe to make a JFK conspiracy work (refernce: Gerald Posner's excellent book, "Case Closed").

But here - here - the logical path from Sarah Palin issuing a kill order to Gabrielle Gifford getting shot is quite short and direct. If the FOX News people want to quell overheated speculation it's already far too late. We see, and we understand.

Times change, starting now. Pima County Sheriff Dupnik is trying to alert the world and stop this madness before more get killed. Is it too late?:

If you thought it was a problem with militia-types openly carrying arms at Barack Obama rallies, you'll really like it when Left-types start carrying concealed weapons to right-wing rallies.

Tragedy? You haven't seen tragedy yet....

At The Used-Car Lot

J.: Hi, I'm Jeff Blanco, owner of Paul Blanco, where we specialize in giving good people with credit hiccups a second chance. Now I usually don't come out here on the main floor very often, but the salesman you've been talking to is new, and I just want to make clear, if he didn't already, that we don't pressure people here at Paul Blanco, and we want to make sure that you get the very best deal possible. In fact, we would like to feature you in a TV advertisement talking about what a great deal you got here at Paul Blanco. Now, how would you like that?

E.: ?

J.: Well, maybe a written testimony?

E.: Maybe written?

(awkward silence)

J.: Now, the deal we've indicated here, I can't restart once you leave here today. We care about you, but the bank doesn't, and if we close a sale today, this deal holds, but we can't make any guarantees about tomorrow, or later. This bank was willing to pick this deal up today, but once you walk, they won't deal with you again. Perhaps another bank would, but we don't know, and probably not on such favorable terms.....

M: (Holy flippin' mackerel! At this prevailing 24.99% interest rate for good people with credit hiccups, even Marc Valdez's California Bank of Western Usury might give the deal a whirl. How do I get a cut of this business? Probably have to be on good terms with a lot of Repo Men, I suppose....)

J: Now, can we come to an agreement today?

E.: (crying)

(awkward silence)

M: I think we'll have to come back tomorrow....


S.: Now, are you prepared to sign the papers?

E.: I'm worried about the interest rate.

S.: Part of the "Fresh Start" program here at Paul Blanco involves dropping the interest rate by five or six points after you've made six or eight months' worth of payments.

E.: Drop to five or six percent?

S.: No, drop by five or six percent. Did we explain that before?

M.: No, I don't think so.

S.: So, are we prepared to sign?

M.: (looking at E.) No decision....

Another Second Saturday In Sacramento

A woman sobbing on the sidewalk:
You don't know how I feel! You don't know how I feel! Why did it have to be her, and not me?

Born On 9/11

RIP Christina Taylor Green. They say she took ballet. I still have ballet friends in Tucson....:
Christina Taylor Green, nine-year-old victim in today’s Tucson shootings, once was an infant designated to be a “Face of Hope” by virtue of her birth on September 11, 2001. She was one of the children born on 9/11, reports Tucson blogger David Abie Morales. She is featured in the book by Christine Pisera Naman, entitled Faces of Hope, Babies Born on 9/11, dedicated to all the mother who gave birth and to their babies born on the day the World Trade Towers in New York City were taken down in an act of terrorism.

Elisabeth Hasselbeck Disavows Sarah Palin's Use Of Violent Imagery