Friday, February 11, 2011

Brief San Francisco Hiatus

Will be back Monday....

"Personals" The Musical - Green Valley Theatre Company - Geery Theater

Tonight was opening night. Folks representing four different theater companies were present in the audience.

Spectacular cast (Mariana Seda, Andrea Eve Thorpe, Elysse Fountain, Tyler Robinson, Joseph Boyette, and Jeffrey Lloyd Heatherly)! Fantastic (and very funny) show!

Go see it!

The Czar Who Fell To Earth

Hmmm.... So good ol' Senator Schmitt thinks environmentalism is akin to communism. I wonder why? Perhaps it's because being a member of the GOP these days is akin to being a Leninist, where the Party is all, and independent thought is not encouraged:
Gov. Susana Martinez was handed her first setback late last month, when the state Supreme Court ruled that her attempts to reverse carbon-emission mandates set by a panel appointed by the previous governor, Bill Richardson, were illegal. Martinez also fired all the members of the Environmental Improvement Board that had written the rules.

Martinez had tapped Schmitt, a Harvard-educated geologist and skeptic of global warming who has compared the environmental movement to communism, to run the Energy department. He would have been the point man on loosening environmental regulations on the oil and gas industry imposed by Richardson that the industry contends have caused a sharp drop-off in exploration -- and jobs -- in New Mexico.

Squarely On The Wrong Side Of History

Glenn Beck steps in it, big time (which is exactly what we want):
Tune into Glenn Beck tonight to watch the Fox News host explain how the pro-democracy uprising in Egypt, which culminated in the peaceful overthrow of the country's authoritarian rule, is a demonstrably bad thing. Marvel at how Beck details the deadly worldwide danger that lurks in the wake of the people's revolution in Cairo, as the coming leftist insurrection gathers stream.

For sane observers, it will be hard to watch Beck's fear mongering tonight and not, on some level, laugh at the sad spectacle that the host has become as he sprints to the wrong side of history and digs in for the long haul. But imagine how painful Beck's performance tonight will be for pundits and leaders associated with the conservative movement in this country, and specifically the right-wing media. Imagine the humiliation knowing that in many respects Beck, thanks to his TV platform, has become the face of the conservative movement in America and here Beck has spent the last two weeks attacking the brave protesters in Egypt.

But this is what happens when Republicans build an irresponsible Noise Machine that's designed to offend and designed to attack. What happens is that, in case of emergency, there is no 'off' switch that Bill Kristol and other suddenly concerned Beck critics can reach for. Same goes for Rush Limbaugh who, like Beck, has been mocking Egypt's freedom fighters and who also represents the voice of today's right-wing America.

Ice-Cube New Mexico Thaws, And Reveals A Multitude Of Broken Pipes

Bruce sends news from that polar region known as New Mexico:
Hi Marc,

I think Taos area and Espanola were hit hardest. The NM gas company had shortage and just cut off gas to some of smaller communities who were hit hardest.

Angel Fire had lowest temp in country last week at 36 below!!! Yikes!

Oldtimers say it's been 30 to 40 years since these low temps hit the Duke City.

Last Thursday, it was just 4 degrees around 8 am but 13 below that nite.

...My landlady got a frozen pipe, but it didn't break last week. We used the 'ol trick of letting water drip out of faucet to prevent freezing and that worked for our apartment house.

Front-page of Albuquerque Journal today showed some people mad as hell in Espanola because gas company didn't show up for townhall meetings. They probably would have gotten run out of town like Mubarak. They're looking for damage reimbursement $.

...We're having a heat wave here today. It actually says 50 on my back porch thermometer.

I was there for the 1970 cold spell. It was horrible. On the coldest day, the low was -24F in Corrales, and the temperatures were higher on Sandia Crest than they were in the city. We had to close off half the house because it was too dangerous to sleep there. We brought in a stray cat that was in danger of freezing.

One night, around midnight, the stray cat decided to attack our parakeet. The cat knocked over the cage as it attacked and the bird got out. What followed was a chaotic scene, as we piled out of sleeping bags, chasing a cat, chasing a dazed bird in semi-darkness. My sister caught the cat just as the cat caught the bird. The bird survived. Upset, we flung the cat outside.

Just so cold.

And yes, the pipes froze solid.

Here's what they have at KOB:
Governor Susana Martinez criticized New Mexico Gas on Tuesday saying the company did a poor job handling the state’s natural gas crisis.

This comes as utility workers continue trying to get towns like Espanola and Taos back online after many have been without heat for six days in below freezing weather and through two snowstorms.

The governor says by not giving advance notice to state officials about the seriousness of the problem, New Mexico Gas Company did not give fair treatment to those affected.

Hundreds of members of the New Mexico National Guard, Albuquerque and state police, and utility workers from all over the country continued to relight furnace, stove and water heater pilots in homes in northern New Mexico Tuesday.

The Book 'Nobody Can Read'

I remember this facility at U of A! It's helped solve lots of mysteries over the years.

But as far as The Book 'Nobody Can Read', that's simple enough: it's just an early version of my blog:
University of Arizona researchers have cracked one of the puzzles surrounding what has been called "the world's most mysterious manuscript" – the Voynich manuscript, a book filled with drawings and writings nobody has been able to make sense of to this day.

Using radiocarbon dating, a team led by Greg Hodgins in the UA's department of physics has found the manuscript's parchment pages date back to the early 15th century, making the book a century older than scholars had previously thought.

"Beauty Queen" On Billboard Charts?

Kelsey B says it's there, but I haven't figured out where yet.

What Is Halo Expert Robert Greenler Doing Now?

Helping solve the most-amazing mystery ever!:
"It's a new form of ice halo," says atmospheric optics expert Les Cowley of England. "We saw it for the first time at the launch of SDO--and it is teaching us new things about how shock waves interact with clouds."

Ice halos are rings and arcs of light that appear in the sky when sunlight shines through ice crystals in the air. A familiar example is the sundog—a rainbow-colored splash often seen to the left or right of the morning sun. Sundogs are formed by plate-shaped ice crystals drifting down from the sky like leaves fluttering from trees.*

Last year, SDO destroyed a sundog—and that's how the new halo was discovered.

...SDO has a close encounter with a sundog. "The shock waves were amazing, fantastical!" says high school student Amelia Phillips who watched the event alongside friend and photographer Anna Herbst of Bishop, California. "We were shouting and jumping up and down when SDO destroyed the sundog."

..."When the rocket penetrated the cirrus, shock waves rippled through the cloud and destroyed the alignment of the ice crystals," explains Cowley. "This extinguished the sundog."

..."A luminous column of white light appeared next to the Atlas V and followed the rocket up into the sky," says Cowley. "We'd never seen anything like it."

Dropped In At "Cheap Thrills"

Bought some hippie wear. Got intrigued by all the available merchandise. Met Uncle Fred for the first time.

Uncle Fred wasn't entirely-pleased by the recent Sac Bee article on him, and the store. He laid out ground rules for the interview that weren't followed. That said, he started reminiscing about life on 'The River'. Clod that I am, I thought he might have meant the American River. I had forgotten that, in Northern California lore, 'The River' means (if I'm not mistaken), the hippie Shangri-La of the Russian River in the late 60's and early 70's (although on the North San Juan Ridge, 'The River' generally means the Yuba River).

I'm just a bit too young, and missed 'The River' and all its delights....

Documenting Those Indian Trails, And Trying To Establish Coronado's Route

I just received a nice note from Buck Wells, who has been making efforts to document Indian trails in western New Mexico. He feels that Coronado's route to Hawikuh may have passed through the Mule Creek area of western New Mexico. Whether that proves completely true, partly true, or not at all, establishing exactly where the Indian trails of the Southwest were located, and estimating how much traffic they carried, is critical to understanding just how closely-linked the Anasazi Pueblos and related cultures were to Mesoamerican America.

It seems to me (and I'm sure others) that the presence of ball courts in the Hohokam ruins of southern Arizona, and their absence elsewhere, suggests an important cultural discontinuity there. Yet, they've discovered chocolate and macaw bones at Chaco Canyon, so there was at least trade going on, despite any cultural divide. Can the physical geography and the location of the trail network throw any light on the larger cultural questions?

Here is most of that correspondence:
Hi Marc , I wanted to let you know I read your blog, enjoyed it, and that various people in western New Mexico know about Chichilticale; and I tend to agree with Nugent Brasher... information looks correct from my point of view too...

My submission to New Mexico Historical Review got a rejection slip, largely due to my lack of scientific and historical credentials, but I published the map to Zuni from the south on the New Mexico side of the state line, and found an old township map at Mule Creek that documents the main 'Apache Trail' , and followed it up the Mogollon Rim to Zuni... in New Mexico

My idea is that the Indians in New Mexico have always known about, and used this trail.

Red Ellison, who dug Kwillielekia Ruin I think knew a lot about old trails too, but did not publish it.

You can find my work [here, which] contains email link to my box... been working on this one for more than twenty years, just happen to be real interested in the subject, and it is a hobby ...


Buck Wells
Santa Fe, NM
My response:
Hello Mr. Wells!:

Thank you for your attention. You have a very interesting Web Site, and that map deserves much study!

I think it’s hard, in general, to translate the sort of practical knowledge of trail-finding and outdoor living into suitable academic language. Expertise in the field usually comes at the expense of expertise in academe, and vice versa. And it’s exhausting work too: things that look obvious in the field seem more uncertain on paper, and vice versa. Good documentation is paramount.

I’m sorry that the folks at NMHR haven’t seen fit to print your work, at least, not yet. There was a time when I knew some of the folks over there (I got a BS in history as well as in physics at UNM in 1980), but I’m sure there’s a new crowd there.

...The value of the Internet is that you can make your ideas known, irrespective of whether they are academically acceptable (yet), or not. I would think that trail-finding is exactly the type of activity where practical knowledge and familiarity with the field should be more important than familiarity with all the literature, but I suppose it’s best to be a polymath and be familiar with it all. I like your clarity of language....

...If it’s a matter of a literature hunt, a few weeks in a library should suffice to find enough. If it’s a matter of credentials – I don’t know, I’d think that credentials should scarcely matter if the ideas are sound – but maybe I’m just na├»ve. Heck, I’d just beef the work up and submit it again; if not to NMHR, then to someone else. Like you suggest, there is no particular reason why Coronado should not have followed pre-existing trail networks in his journeys (except maybe way out in Quivira).

I have a friend named Dyer who lives in Tucson, likes nature photography, and is quite familiar with the Mule Creek area.

The best of luck to you!


Going Strong - Natalia Flores

Like this!

Hosni Mubarak Resigns

I was apprehensive that even a resignation might no longer be enough for the Egyptians (revolutions sometimes run away with themselves). But it looks like the Egyptians will accept it:
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak resigned Friday and the military took control of the country after weeks of widespread protests and economic turmoil that have shaken this besieged nation and raised calls for democracy across an increasingly restive Middle East.

...Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators broke into chants and song as Cairo swelled with jubilation and wonder. Many of those in the square were born under Mubarak's reign, and what unfolded was a moment of transforming history in which a popular revolt toppled an icon of Arab power.

...When Suleiman appeared on television, Wael Ghonim, the Google executive and activist who in recent days had become the face of the revolt for the young generation, watched television in a living room with friends. They all jumped out of their chairs, screaming with joy.

"Long live Egypt!" they shouted in unison and genuine surprise, clapping their hands.
...The protesters had erupted in anger after the president clung to power in a state address late Thursday night. ... Mubarak had delegated most of his authorities on Thursday to his new vice president, Omar Suleiman, his loyal aide and former intelligence chief, and promised free and fair elections in September, constitutional reforms and an eventual end to emergency law. But for the swelling crowds in central Cairo's Tahrir Square, it was too little, too late after rumors had coursed through the city that the Egyptian president was leaving office.

...The anger from Mubarak's speech late Thursday still felt fresh. Mohamad Fowzy questioned what Mubarak meant by calling those killed in the protests martyrs, and that he respected the youth, when the youth are calling for his resignation.

"Is he insane? Is he trying to make us crazy?" said Fowzy, 30, a taxi driver. "We don't want him, we hate him. Why is he still here?"

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Jetta Is Going To Lead An Improv Class At Sierra II

Surprised by this! Jetta didn't even tell me! (SCNA doesn't even list it yet on-line, but it's in this month's Sierra Viewpoint):
Improv Acting With Jetta

Improv is acting without memorizing. Participants are given a
situation, and they respond creatively. Sharpen your mind while having
fun. Workshops start with warmups. Participants are asked to be
prompt. Improv will be offered from 3-5 p.m. on the Feb. 11 and 25 (the
2nd & 4th Fridays) in Room 12 at the Senior Center at Sierra 2 Center for
Arts and Community. Class fee is $5 per session; Questions? Call
Mae, 455-6339.

Inflation Approaches Zero

Inflation is at the lowest level in my entire life. And I'm an old, old guy, so that's a long, long time. So why are investors so worried about it?

Part of it is that they are being told to be worried about it. Yesterday's banner headline in the Wall Street Journal said something like "Inflation Worries!" But if you start reading the article, you discover they are really talking about China, where inflation is indeed a serious concern.

But not here. Not now.

Indeed, if we're not careful, we'll start having deflation, which is a real barrel of laughs for anyone who owes any money to anyone.

We have more important things to worry about than inflation right now.

Like unemployment.

So why not worry about that instead?

Is Sacramento A Miserable Place To Live?

Nationwide, Forbes Magazine ranks Sacramento third on its miserability index.

Sacramento's high society has reacted with indignation, dismay, and soul-searching about precisely how miserable we happen to be here in the Sacramento Valley's biggest Cowtown. And how miserable is that, exactly?

Not very.

You can be miserable, or very happy, almost anywhere, depending on circumstances.

But you haven't been truly miserable until, like me, you've lived as a young person in New Mexico, living too far from the city to get reliable transportation, with broke parents, no jobs in sight, no money and few prospects, and trying to stay upbeat and entertained when the Consumer Society beckons just out-of-reach.

I'm sure I'm not alone, though. I'm sure there are plenty of young people in the local area right now who know that kind of misery, or related miseries. Young, but idle.

It’s good to take all these business magazine rankings with a grain of salt. In 2006, Forbes Magazine ranked Albuquerque, New Mexico as the nation’s top metro area for business and careers. I was dumbfounded. Sure, New Mexico's regulatory structure is close to non-existent, and businesses like that, but there are few customers. It's hard to run a business with few customers! And the crime rate is fairly-high too! But Forbes doesn't really look at that very closely. They see what they want to see, which is low taxes and few regulations.

People whine all the time about the California regulatory structure, but at least there are customers here in California! Businesses hum with activity in California. And the crime rate here is under better control! In New Mexico, running a business can be as exciting as watching paint dry, at least until the afternoon, when you can roust yourself to put up more razor wire along the chain link fence around the back lot, in order to keep the thieves and idle teenagers out.

I remember once spending a weekend in small-town San Ysidro, New Mexico, and trying to stay entertained.

Not. Much. Happening. That. Weekend.

At night, we cruised back roads, enticing rabbits to display themselves in our headlights so we could shoot at them. During the day, we huddled in San Ysidro's lone marsh, and eventually succeeded in shooting a few ducks with a shotgun. Young ducks that proved too scrawny to be bothered eating.

In Sacramento, there is so much more to do! But if times are hard, money is scarce, and there is really, really nothing else to do: yes, there are places around here where you can shoot at scrawny ducks. Because the Sacramento area is a full-service area, and there are many, many ways around the misery here.

Rocky Transition To The Bigger Time

A hard transition to make when you don't have many friends where it counts:
Woods told KSTA Radio in San Antonio she did advise Ramirez on her eating habits. “I said, you know, ‘Get off the tacos, get off the chips and soda.’ Because she’s 17, and that’s what these kids eat.”

The laundry list of other complaints against her performance as Miss San Antonio left Ramirez in tears — and ready to fight back. “I’m 17 years old,” she told KSAT. “I shouldn’t have to be slandered like this, and my future shouldn’t have to be ruined over this.”

...“The main thing was that she did not make it to functions that she was scheduled for that she agreed to do,” Woods told KSAT. “Sometimes, she didn’t show up at all and didn’t even call to tell you she wasn’t coming, or, if she did come, she would come an hour and a half late, unprepared, unready, and it just continued being a habitual thing with her.”

...Ramirez countered by saying the pageant board promised her a chaperone to take her to events, but didn’t deliver. And having only just gotten her driver’s license, Ramirez says she couldn’t navigate her way around San Antonio well enough to be on time for every event.

But Woods insisted to the London Daily Mail that Ramirez declined using a chaperone, preferring to be escorted by her parents. Ramirez’s lawyer, Luis Vera Jr., said the teen’s Latino parents both work full-time, making it impossible for them to drive her around to every Miss San Antonio event.

...“The way I see this is these rich, white Dominion types versus the Latinos who are busting themselves to make a living,” he said.

Added Ramirez: “They’re bringing up stuff from the past and making up stuff that is not even true.”

Our Rocking Chair Future

Every day, the future becomes clearer....

We Lefties Are So Cruel

Cruel, so cruel, but funny too.

So Many News Articles, So Little Time

The Sacramento Bee has been chock-a-block with great news stories that I haven't been able to blog about in detail. Examples....

Death by GPS. It's so easy to get into trouble in the desert, particularly in Death Valley, by relying on that damned instrument rather than your own brain!

BP is moving the southern Iraq oil fields. Well, better than off the Continental Shelf. But they have to survive Iraq first.

They caught the Bellagio motorcycle bandit. Stoopid guy!

Mexican jails are pretty permeable.

The Williamson Act is in danger because of the state budget crisis. That is a crucial law!

Obama is telling the business folks to start investing. They stiffed Roosevelt - maybe Obama will have better luck.

The Watts Towers are in danger.

What's New In The Conspiracy Zone?

Uh oh, they're watching the Weather Channel again, and they don't like what they see!

Just because storms are advancing westward across Canada rather than the more-usual eastward is not a sign that the system has broken down. This can happen, especially during winter, when the jet stream swings south. If you keep watching, over time, you'll see it happen again. And again.

Because weather is just like that.

And no conspiracy is involved.

People have been apprehensive about the Gulf Stream ever since the BP oil disaster last April, but the effects there are likely to be toxic and insidious rather than blatant and obvious. There is great worry that the food chain will start fragmenting and collapse several years from now, in a way similar to what happened in Prince William Sound in Alaska several years after the oil disaster there. But the basic dynamics of weather and current flows were not affected there, and they're not likely to be affected here either. You need something bigger for that.

Global Warming might suffice to stop the Gulf Stream, but not yet - it's still a bit too early to really notice any change (I'll be dead before it's really clear). Global Warming gets a boost every time you start your car - no need for a conspiracy for that. When The Warming really kicks in, you'll notice the changes.

Because weather is just like that.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Reacting To Photos On The Web

My friend W. passed along a PowerPoint presentation that is going hand-to-hand, via E-Mail.

The PowerPoint presentation shows sixteen famous photos generally showing people in great distress. The sentiment is humanitarian: if you believe "other people from different countries could be your brothers" you are asked to pass it on.

The political context aggravated my friend W. For example, the Sudanese photo:

Photo by Kevin Carter. The PowerPoint presentation states:

The destitution shown in the photograph is the direct result of the continuous meddling of Western foreign powers in Sudan in order to grab its riches. As a result of this and the inefficiency and corruption of the local government, Sudanese die of starvation in a country considered to be the richest in Africa in terms of agriculture.

My friend W. states:

Blaming starvation in Sudan on "meddling of western powers" is a bunch of BS. That country has been in civil war since before I was born. Their problems are self-inflicted.
My reaction was:

Regarding Africa in general (and Sudan, in particular) a lot of problems can be attributed to the placement of boundaries by the original colonial powers, who often followed divide-and-conquer strategies that made no sense except to deliberately cause conflict. A rational person would sit down and draw boundaries where they made sense (based on geography, language, history, etc.), so that separate peoples would have easily-governable units. Unfortunately, that won’t happen these days without ugly wars. The news this week that, based on the results of a referendum, Sudan will split into two halves (north and south) is the best thing that has happened there in generations!
The final picture in the PowerPoint presentation sure seems ominous enough:

The PowerPoint presentation states:

This photo was taken on the coast of Sumatra Island in Indonesia during an overwhelming tsunami, with waves measuring up to 20 meters in height. The picture was found a month and a half later in a digital camera. Whoever took this picture, no doubt, ceased to exist a few seconds after pressing the trigger of the small machine.

My friend W. stated:
I'm not certain, but I am wondering if the tsunami photo is a fake. The story about the camera found weeks later sounds like classic urban legend. And, that neighborhood of ranch houses looks a lot like the US to me.
My reaction was:

The final picture isn’t a tsunami at all, but a dust storm. The characteristic shape of the approaching dust storm (generated by a thunderstorm downdraft that is spreading out along the ground) is called a “haboob”. The exact location isn’t clear (it could be California), but based on the eucalyptus forest in the background, I’d say it’s probably Australia. Probably near Broken Hill, New South Wales, or somewhere down there. Australians really like ranch-style housing!
And sure enough, the photo comes from Griffith, New South Wales, Australia, in 2002. They get plenty-good haboobs down there!

What kills me, though, is that whoever prepared the photo for the PowerPoint presentation deliberately obscured the date in the corner (since there was no tsunami on that date). Deliberate deception!

One trouble, of course, is that people have a kind of ant's-eye view of most dust storms. They just look like big formless masses to them.

But for those of us lucky enough to have grown up in deserts, and with an eye to weather, the characteristic shape of the haboob is a common-enough sight. I remember once standing on top of Mt. Graham in southeastern Arizona and watching several haboobs heading off in different directions on the valley floors nearly a mile below us, until sunset and deteriorating weather killed the spectacle. An amazing sight! But a sight of a sort that many people don't see. People rarely see tsunamis either. Thus, people easily confuse pictures of the two things.

My friend W. had comments on several other of the photos, but then began wondering:
Now I am beginning to wonder about the picture of the Spanish beachgoers near the dead guy.

Photo by Javier Bauluz. The PowerPoint presentation states:

[S]hows two Spanish tourists looking at the lifeless body of a clandestine boat immigrant.
My reaction was:

I very vaguely remember that photo. Somehow it bothered me the least of the photos. We don't know the story behind it, and there may be dozens of innocuous explanations for the apparent indifference. There are other tales in the world of real indifference - the recent events at Christmas Island, for example - that have left no iconic photos, partly because the people at the scene were too busy trying to save lives to bother taking photos.
And by indifference, I mean global indifference, of the sort that can start the 2003 Iraq War, for example, without realizing the direct consequences that would eventually unfurl at Christmas Island. The people on Christmas Island were not indifferent: they did everything they could to help.

Humanitarianism, and a desire to help, often clash with the real world, where it can just prolong agony. It's all part of the human tragedy called life.

I remember once being in a commuter bus traveling south on I-17, heading from Flagstaff to Phoenix, Arizona, in 1989, when a car travelling in the same direction as us began weaving and went off the road and plunged down an embankment. The commuter bus stopped and we all piled out to help.

The car had flipped over and come down on its roof, smashing in the roof and pinning the head of the woman driver hard against her left shoulder. It clearly was important to lift the car to give her relief until help arrived, but how?

I realized that one could use a lever against the gas tank inlet of the flipped car and lift the car slightly, giving the poor woman some relief from her agony. But the gas tank inlet was not designed for that purpose, and the lever kept slipping. The harder we all tried to lift the car using the lever, the more the car slipped and rocked, and ground her head against her shoulder. And emergency response was delayed too (the location was on a divided highway segment that was far from cities or towns), so we had lots of time to practice, and get it wrong.

Humanitarianism can hurt.

Anyway, like the folks at say, resist accepting anything you see or read on the Internet, or on TV, or in the press, without first attempting to establish the context, and getting independent confirmation.

Then, get mad!

A Fond Thought Regarding Dennis McMahon

Cheryl Bly-Chester passed on word that Dennis McMahon passed away on September 11th last year.

Along with both Cheryl and myself, Dennis McMahon was one of the 135 candidates running for California Governor in 2003. He was a Republican running a mostly single-issue campaign promoting school vouchers and school choice. Ideologically, Dennis and I were at polar opposites. Nevertheless, Dennis was a nice man, as he had occasion to prove....

In 2003, all of us gubernatorial candidates were invited to appear on Jay Leno's "Tonight Show". NBC reserved two seats for each of us: one for the candidate and one for a guest. Dennis’ daughter wasn’t able to attend, and he had an extra seat available. Meanwhile, two of my cousins eagerly came up to Burbank from Oceanside to attend, so I had an extra guest. Dennis graciously escorted one of my cousins into the studio so we all were able to get seats. I thought it was a small-scale example of what we alternative candidates represented in the 2003 Recall Election: how we Californians can all get along, despite our beliefs.

Keri Hilson - "Pretty Girl Rock"

The modern trend towards putting narcissism on display has always bothered me - everyone seems to do it, these days. Nevertheless, there are ways to do it that can be very appealing.

Here, Keri Hilson proceeds through the decades, honoring past pop icons. That's the hook for me! If it has history, or science, or weather, or fossils in it, I'm there!

So, a narcissistic video, yes, but also, not at all.

Uh Oh, Someone In South Carolina Told The Truth!

And now he's gonna pay, and pay, and pay!:
COLUMBIA -- Charleston's black Democratic senator once again has created a racial firestorm.

In a debate over hardening South Carolina's illegal immigration law, Sen. Robert Ford argued against a new law because "brothers" don't work as hard as "Mexicans."

Ford said during a Senate committee meeting Tuesday that the state needs immigrants to fill hard labor jobs, such as construction jobs at the new Boeing plant in North Charleston, because black Americans won't do the work.

"I know brothers -- and I'm talking about black guys -- they are not going to do the dirty work at Boeing, to do that hauling and all that building, that dirty work," Ford said.

He went on to say that "brothers" do not want to perform hard work. "A brother is going to find ways to take a break," he said.

He later made a comment about "blue-eyed brothers" also not wanting to work hard.

Cheryl Bly-Chester Announces Endorsement of Placer County Libertarian Party

By running as a Decline-to-State candidate, Cheryl Bly-Chester hopes to attract a broader coalition of supporters than the other candidates might in the Assembly District Four race.

Among those attracted are the Libertarians:
Cheryl Bly-Chester Announces Endorsement of Placer County Libertarian Party

The Placer County Libertarian Party, representing Libertarians in the largest county in Assembly District 4, has announced its endorsement of Cheryl Bly-Chester with the following statement:

Although there is no Libertarian running, in our opinion, Cheryl Bly-Chester stands above the other candidates when it comes to having demonstrated in her life's work an understanding of the proper, limited role of government - particularly with regard to our private property and natural resources.

As a business owner in the environmental engineering field, and as a pro-property rights member of several state boards, Cheryl Bly-Chester has consistently fought the intrusive regulatory burdens that have stymied our local economy. Cheryl Bly-Chester has even written her doctoral dissertation on reining in these state boards. These actions demonstrate a commitment to protecting the property owner in a time when the very concept of private property needs knowledgeable and tenacious defenders.

Cheryl Bly-Chester also stands for real tax reform including support for a better, more fair tax system that will free our economy.

We also note that - others' ballot designations notwithstanding - Cheryl Bly-Chester is the real free enterprise business owner in this candidate field, having built her own engineering business from the ground up. This experience will no doubt guide her tenure as a pro-free market legislator.

In a district whose economy relies on the efficient private stewardship of private property and natural resources, no other candidate running is more knowledgeable and better prepared to defend our freedoms and grow our economy than Cheryl Bly-Chester.

While there is no "true" Libertarian running, we believe this endorsement can serve as a guide to those who cherish freedom.

Statement of Placer County Libertarian Party, Roberto Leibman

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Bearer Of Bad News

My role in life is to be the Bearer of Bad News.

At my favorite eatery this afternoon, I noticed there was a small pool of water on the floor in front of the cash register. Being the Bearer of Bad News, I helpfully pointed this out to the staff. Did someone spill water on the floor?

No one spilled any water on the floor.

Instead, it appeared that clogged pipes in the apartment above the eatery were manifesting themselves in a disastrous way in the business far below.

Like I say, the Bearer of Bad News....

"Cheap Thrills" Closing Explained In Greater Detail

Apparently it's less the economy and more just the passage of time:
Cheap Thrills opened in the late 1960s; Smith started working as a clerk in 1988. He purchased the store a few years later.

After nearly a quarter century at the store, and at 69 years of age, Smith is ready to retire. A string of deaths in his family and some health issues prompted the decision.

...Today, Smith will mark merchandise down by 50 to 75 percent.

...Smith, meanwhile, is planning vacations to Hawaii and Greece. Once recharged, he said he's considering opening a new store nearby that doubles as a club.

"At 6 p.m. the store will close, and then at 9 p.m. it will be a music venue with rock 'n' roll, blues and jazz," he said. "I'm going to dress (the musicians) in my clothing, and the crowd will see the clothes and want to buy them the next day. See, it's not over for me."

Revenge Of The Chicken

Or maybe I'll end up going like this guy:
DELANO, California (AP) — A man who was at an illegal cockfight in central California died after being stabbed in the leg by a bird that had a knife attached to its own limb, officials confirmed Monday.

Jose Luis Ochoa, 35, of Lamont, California, was declared dead at a hospital about two hours after he was injured in neighboring Tulare County on Jan. 30, the Kern County coroner said.

..."I have never seen this type of incident," Sgt. Martin King, a 24-year veteran of the sheriff's department, told the Bakersfield Californian.

Tedious Yasi Aftermath

Bleak times come to sunny Queensland:
TINS of tepid baked beans and spaghetti devoured by torchlight have become a post-disaster delicacy for Cardwell cyclone survivor Pauline McFaul.

The commercial fisherwoman, who broke a rib when Cyclone Yasi blasted open a door and hurled her 3m across the bedroom, is among tens of thousands of north Queensland residents facing weeks in the dark.

"Since the storm hit, I have just been living by torchlight," she said yesterday. "And I tell you, I go to bed pretty soon after dark, because there's nothing else to do apart from listening to the radio.

"Baked beans and spaghetti are my new favourite food - they'll get me by."

With one in six north Queensland households still blacked out, power companies have deployed an army of 2000 technicians in a race to repair the region's ruined electricity network. But after a week without fridges, lights, televisions or airconditioning, some customers are losing patience.

...Electrical Trades Union co-ordinator Trevor Gauld said some customers had reached the point of verbally abusing electricity maintenance staff to work faster. "Workers have had people banging on their trucks and yelling, 'You pricks intending to do anything?' " Mr Gauld said.

..."It's pretty hurtful because these guys are working 12 hours a day to restore power when their own families are without."

...In Townsville, Ergon aims to have the power back tomorrow - too late for restaurateur Michel Flores, who had up to $20,000 worth of food spoil. His French restaurant, Michel's, is one of three still blacked out on inner-city Palmer Street, where other businesses had their underground power supply restored last Friday.

..."We've already thrown all our food out - probably $20,000 in meats, seafood, bugs and prawns," he said. "We had stocked up on meat because of the floods; we knew we were going to have problems getting it in.

Progressives Ask Progressives To Support Kristol Over Beck

These are dark days, indeed. It's like asking Tokyo residents to support Mothra over Godzilla:
Either way, unless more conservatives step up to defend Kristol's position, this is an argument Beck is going to win. Beck's got a daily show on Fox and the radio. All Kristol's got is a low circulation magazine and about 5 minutes of talk-time each weekend on Fox News Sunday.

The Deepest Insight On Those Dark, Inner Motivations Driving American Politics

Poll: GOP voters just want to win
Who'd have ever thought?

(The 24/7 American media complex desperately trying to stay relevant and newsworthy on these desolate days when the real news is in northern Africa....)

When I Die, It'll Likely Be Some Random Event Like This

Escargot, no car go:
Katie Dagley, 19, died instantly in the head-on crash on a stoplight-controlled bridge in Alvecote, near Birmingham in central England, local newspaper the Sunday Mercury reported.

Dagley, who worked at McDonald's, was driving home from work in August when her Ford Ka hit an oncoming Fiat after the lights on the single-lane bridge failed to give out a stop warning.

Returning a verdict of accidental death after his investigation, coroner Sean McGovern said a snail left its trail across the lights’ circuit board, which caused it to short-circuit shortly before the incident.

Uncharacteristic Sense From Bill Kristol

The trouble with conservatives has often been that they are reflexively-biased against change: even potentially-good change. Shortsightedness and fearfulness are often their characteristic weaknesses. That weakness carries over into their analyses of international developments.

Apparently Glenn Beck has been sounding the alarm lately about Egypt, and even William Kristol's own pet project, Sarah Palin, has been echoing Beck. Kristol points out, with regard to Egypt, that opposition to developments there, just for the sake of opposition, isn't enough:
When Glenn Beck rants about the caliphate taking over the Middle East from Morocco to the Philippines, and lists (invents?) the connections between caliphate-promoters and the American left, he brings to mind no one so much as Robert Welch and the John Birch Society. He’s marginalizing himself, just as his predecessors did back in the early 1960s.

Nor is it a sign of health when other American conservatives are so fearful of a popular awakening that they side with the dictator against the democrats. Rather, it’s a sign of fearfulness unworthy of Americans, of short-sightedness uncharacteristic of conservatives, of excuse-making for thuggery unworthy of the American conservative tradition.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Maybe Jane Harman Is To Blame?

If Sarah Palin is looking for a scapegoat for the unexpected challenge to Hosni Mubarak, maybe Jane Harman, who represents the "smartest constituents on earth" (just the sort of people who would do such a thing - aka, the Egyptians) is to blame:
This is an excruciating decision because the distinction of representing the smartest constituents on earth will never be surpassed - nor will my relationships with my exceptional staff and colleagues in Congress. But shaping and leading the Wilson Center is a thrilling new challenge.

Yeah, Who Were Those People Anyway?

Sarah Palin on Egypt:
So we need to find out who was behind all of the turmoil and the revolt and the protests so that good decisions can be made in terms of who we will stand by and support.
Can the population of Egypt possibly escape the blame here?

Fun Seeing "The Black-Eyed Peas" At Superbowl Halftime

As the reviewer says, "the Super Bowl isn't the place for subtlety":
The Peas, however, are singularly unique, even if they're far away from their more thought-provoking early days. The set came to an end with "I've Got a Feeling," and Fergie chest-pumped as she sang the words "pa-pa-pa-pa-party everyday." Nonsense? In the hands of nearly any other chart-toppers, yes, but the Peas approach partying as if it's some sort of battle cry. Their weapons are little more than tuneful chants, and their army is fluorescent, but it's built for stadiums.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Vanilla-Cake Barbie Tours Sacramento

Anika Niva, and her creation (with help from her sister's Barbie doll), Vanilla-Cake Barbie, at last night's 2nd Annual DMTC Cake Auction.

I purchased this cake ($22.00 bid, but I actually gave the theater $25.00).

Since Vanilla-Cake Barbie rarely gets out, I decided to show her the sights.

Vanilla-Cake Barbie finally settled on the roast-beef sandwich au jus at the Black Bear Diner in Davis.

Vanilla-Cake Barbie in Old Sacramento. She had heard about those Russian dolls that nest, one inside the other, but could hardly believe any such thing was possible, so we gazed into the windows at the "Russian Collection". Vanilla-Cake Barbie could not believe her eyes, but it was true!

Vanilla-Cake Barbie at Sacramento's AMTRAK terminal.

Vanilla-Cake Barbie had seen Lionel trains before, but was unprepared for the size of the real locomotives!

Vanilla-Cake Barbie was flattered by everyone's attention at the Sacramento AMTRAK terminal.

Vanilla-Cake Barbie at the State Capitol.

As we prepared to leave, I saw something moving in the flower beds at Capitol Mall and 10th Streets. I could scarcely believe my eyes! It was a skunk! How was this possible in the middle of a city? Then I remembered that the entire Capitol area comprises a pretty-big park that could host all sorts of wildlife, so skunks are not out of the question. Plus, it IS the State Capitol, after all!

Vanilla-Cake Barbie has ambitions for higher office, but only after she gets a better wardrobe.

Vanilla-Cake Barbie, with the Capitol Mall in the background.

Vanilla-Cake Barbie at the Crest Theater.

She hasn't seen many movies, and not many of 2010's Academy Award nominees. She was intrigued by "Black Swan", but really hopes they come out with a sequel about her good twin: "White Swan".

Vanilla-Cake Barbie LOVES Valentine's Day!

Vanilla-Cake Barbie in Cesar Chavez Park, in front of Sacramento City Hall.

Last night, the very first blossoms on the plum tree in my back yard began to appear. Vanilla-Cake Barbie says Spring is her favorite season, next to Summer (when she can work on her tan), or Winter (when she can go skiing), or Autumn (when tomatoes are so ripe)!

Vanilla-Cake Barbie at Step One Fitness (19th & T Streets). She says she has to work on her arm strength, particularly in the wrist. She went bowling not long ago, but even though Ken was able to score in the high double-digits, she could manage no better than a 19.

Vanilla-Cake Barbie gazes longingly through the display windows at the House of Fashion Bridal Salon.

Vanilla-Cake Barbie at Sutter's Fort.

Vanilla-Cake Barbie was crushed that the shoe stores on J Street were closed, but the folks at 'Lady Bug, Lady Bug' were happy to show her their wares.

Kelsey B "Beauty Queen" (Manny Lehman Club Mix)

I preferred this remix.

Chemistry Zinc-cers!

Karina on Facebook likes this, and so do I!

2nd Annual DMTC Cake Auction

Jiminy Crickets, It's "The Wizard Of Oz" At The Woodland Opera House

On Friday, a group of us attended "The Wizard Of Oz" at the Woodland Opera House. It was fun to see a show where we knew more than half of the people on stage, and would likely know everyone else fairly soon.

We were WAY up in the cheap seats. As a result, I tended to miss a lot of nuances in character development. I mean, often I couldn't even see their faces, I was so high up, but since I knew many of the people involved, I could interpolate....