Friday, February 18, 2011

Worst Pop Song Ever?

So many candidates, so little time....

Mr. Ando Of The Woods

There's a lot about Japanese culture I just don't get at all....

Wind Dwellers

Gabe likes this. I do too. Artificial life, of a sort, on the beaches of Holland.

Known Unknowns And Unknown Knowns

Interesting articles regarding Donald Rumsfeld.

Somewhere in my collection of books at home I have a book written by Donald Rumsfeld in the 70's describing how to get your way in bureaucratic politics. I've never read it completely from cover-to-cover, but it seemed to me Rumsfeld was probably the quintessential bureaucratic *playa*: someone who might embarrass Machiavelli with his backstabbing shenanigans. (Then again, in his own twisted way, Machiavelli was the perfect idealist, and so too might be Rumsfeld. One can't condemn without deeper understanding.)

Some of Rumsfeld's ideas about modern war, like dropping the armor and going for speed, make a lot of sense - but then, only in the context of blitzkrieg, not slogs like Iraq turned into, where you need all the armor you can get.

Apparently Rumsfeld remains widely-hated in the Pentagon. Maybe the most-hated defense secretary ever! (That's the fate of lots of *playas*, actually - just ask certain rap singers, bewildered by all the "haters".) Getting the precise answers as to why is Rumsfeld is despised is likely to be very-educational.

Some teasers:
No decision was ever final unless it was the position taken by Rumsfeld. The Executive Steering Group on Iraq he maligns was established to supervise DOD implementation of agreed policies because the White House lost confidence Secretary Rumsfeld would carry them out. Even in the ESG, DOD was routinely represented by people who claimed no knowledge of agreed policy or professed themselves powerless to implement it because Rumsfeld disagreed.

Beyond throwing sand in the gears of interagency cooperation, Rumsfeld just wasn't a very good secretary of defense. The secretary's paramount responsibility in wartime is to translate the president's political objectives into military plans. Bush's objectives for Iraq were clear: regime change, control of nuclear weapons. A military plan that bypasses Iraq's cities and has no dedicated plans or forces for WMD control is poorly aligned with those goals, and that was nobody's job but Donald Rumsfeld's. Rumsfeld spent his time challenging individual units assigned in the force flow -- work that majors should be doing -- instead of concentrating on the work that only the secretary can do.

By treating the military leadership as an impediment rather than the chieftains of a very successful organization, he unnecessarily alienated an important constituency for any president, especially in wartime. ... Military leaders typically want a wide margin of error in campaign plans, because they have a rich appreciation for how much can go wrong, how many elements come into play in unexpected ways. In his determination to show that agility had overcome quantity, Rumsfeld accepted an enormous amount of risk to achieve the president's goals. When military leaders tried to draw attention to the masked risk or increase force levels to reduce it, they were excoriated.

...And let us speak of command climate. Rumsfeld defends his constraints on the size of the force in Iraq by claiming the military didn't ask for more. That may well be true, but this was more than two years into Rumsfeld's tenure, in which he had promoted officers to top positions because they shared his vision of a transformation of warfare in which the judgment of ground combat officers was considered "industrial age thinking." After the punitive treatment of Shinseki, and promotion to top positions of "pliant" (James Kitfield's term) generals, the military might be forgiven thinking the civilian leadership didn't want to hear it.

...His "snowflakes" -- the personal queries from the secretary that came in abundant blizzards -- were a terrible way to manage a large organization. ... Good executives establish clear priorities for an organization; Rumsfeld ran DOD with scattershot directives that kept everyone off balance.

Greek Philosophers ("Can't Get You Out of My Head" by Kylie Minogue)

Courtesy from Noel, A Kylie-esque romp down the corridors of Greek thought.

I've often thought Kylie Minogue was very-compatible with classical culture (and with albums like 'Aphrodite', Kylie apparently thinks so too). There is a classical-impulse present in Kylie's work (elevating the eternal over the particular) than is absent in the decadent work of Lady Gaga (emphasizing the particular over the eternal), or in the satirical work of Britney Spears.

GOP Tires Of Talk And Wants Violence

It's been nearly a hundred years since Americans routinely-chose violence to settle labor disputes, so people may be unprepared for what might happen next, but it looks to me like the GOP, with its permanently-inflated sense of executive dominion and privilege, has decided to stop talking altogether and reach for the gun. Governor Walker's warnings about violence have much more to do with his plans to get violent than with anything the labor movement might threaten. A self-fulfilling prophecy, aided by the GOP's permanent, Rovian predilection to project upon its foes the evil plans it wishes to accomplish itself.

Violence is not democracy's friend:
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has declared war on state workers, almost literally.

First, he proposed a state budget that would cut retirement and healthcare for workers like teachers and nurses, and strip away nearly all of their collective bargaining rights. But even more significantly, he announced last Friday that he had alerted the National Guard to be ready for state workers to strike or protest, an unprecedented step in modern times.

This would be the first time in nearly 80 years that the National Guard would be used to break a strike by Wisconsin workers, and the first time in over 40 years that the National Guard would be used against public workers anywhere in the country. The last time was the Memphis sanitation strike in 1968, just before Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination.

...The use of the National Guard against workers is supposed to be a relic of the past, nearly unimaginable to us. That's because of an uneasy understanding, evolved over time, between citizens and the state over the use of state force against civilians. In her excellent book "Army Surveillance in America, 1775-1980," historian Joan Jensen argued that this understanding "maintained restraint, sometimes precariously, in using the army to defend the government from the domestic population."

In other words, Jensen argues that the concept of voluntary restraint by the executive branch -- as opposed to codified legal restraint -- is still largely the governing principle at work when deciding whether to mobilize a domestic military force. So Gov. Walker's action is significant because it is an expanded interpretation of the power of the executive office. This would introduce once again the idea that a governor could use the military to impose his personal, political will on a state.

La Niña Is Getting Long In The Tooth

Aging, aging, so sayeth the SOI:
The La Niña event which has dominated the Australian climate for the past nine months is showing signs of weakening. Pacific Ocean temperatures, most notably below the surface, have warmed, while atmospheric indicators such as the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI), trade winds and cloud patterns have eased from their respective peaks in early January.

The Time To Eat Korean Is Now!

Sung Hoon said he wanted to buy dinner for us. What can I say? The time to eat Korean is now!

Josh, Gabe, Sung Hoon and myself gathered at Oz Korean Barbeque, at Bradshaw & Highway 50.

This tasty and sweet rice wine is known as Bek-Se-Ju. That is the total sum of my knowledge of Korean. Sung Hoon said he would locate the menu for me on the Web so I could name the rest of the items, but until then, I must rely on my own devices.

This is beef.

This is pork.

This is a variety of pickled vegetables. For the most part, they tasted great, particularly the beans.

I wasn't fond of the Kim Chi (the reddish dish), but it wasn't the cabbage's fault, but rather the chili they used to marinate it in. It is ironic that a New Mexican like myself would have the most trouble with that portion of the menu that, apart from rice, was probably the most familiar.

This is a Power Balance wristband. I've never seen one before: the waiter had one.

The concept is ridiculous, but I have to say it's a masterstroke to rechristen Arco Arena as Power Balance Arena. What a name! It's the best arena name in the world!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Can't Get Enough Arcade Fire!

Arcade Fire is one of the best rock bands ever!

Sprawl II, on SNL. Lyrics:
They heard me singing and they told me to stop
Quit these pretentious things and just punch the clock
These days my life, I feel it has no purpose
But late at night the feelings swim to the surface

'Cause on the surface the city lights shine
They're calling at me, come and find your kind
Sometimes I wonder if the World's so small
That we can never get away from the sprawl
Living in the sprawl
Dead shopping malls rise like mountains beyond mountains
And there's no end in sight
I need the darkness, someone please cut the lights

We rode our bikes to the nearest park
Sat under the swings and kissed in the dark
We shield our eyes from the police lights
We run away, but we don't know why

On the black river, the city lights shine
They're screaming at us, we don't need your kind
Sometimes I wonder if the world's so small
That we can never get away from the sprawl
Living in the sprawl
Dead shopping malls rise like mountains beyond mountains
And there's no end in sight
I need the darkness, someone please cut the lights

They heard me singing and they told me to stop
Quit these pretentious things and just punch the clock
Sometimes I wonder if the world's so small
Can we ever get away from the sprawl?
Living in the sprawl
Dead shopping malls rise like mountains beyond mountains
And there's no end in sight
I need the darkness, someone please cut the lights
I need the darkness, someone please cut the lights

From the Coachella DVD. From 2005; I posted this several years ago, but I continue to think this is one of rock's best performances of the last decade.

Engaging With The Homeless Population

I'm still reading the article by William T. Vollmann in the March issue of Harper's Magazine: 'Homeless in Sacramento'. It reads almost like Steinbeck in describing the particularities of being homeless last year in and about the American River Parkway and near Blue Diamond's Almond Plant - less than a mile away from here, but on an entirely-different plane of existence. A Sacramento resident, Vollmann began spending more and more time with the homeless, and eventually started sleeping in the elements with them as well.

We all have our various ways of engaging with the homeless, or nearly-homeless, population. Sometimes we see right through them. Sometimes it's a matter of surreptitiously handing over small amounts of money. Sometimes, like in Vollmann's case, it's more complicated....

When I moved into my neighborhood south of downtown in 1995, I engaged myself to some extent with the homeless, offering some of them some work. Many of these efforts ended in frustration (e.g., the painters; Adam), but some long-lasting relationships (e.g., Larry & Katie) and friendships (e.g., Joe) have evolved over the years.

I just figure that it behooves you to engage with your neighborhood (and not just the settled folks). Failure to engage with everyone in your neighborhood isolates you. In ignorant bliss, you can be exposed to dangers without even knowing it. Since my neighborhood in the late 90's had lots of homeless, or nearly-homeless, folks, keeping up with them was important for staying informed. They were my eyes and ears, and, in turn, I was theirs.

Maybe partly because I haven't had a dog for two years, and thus get out on the street less often these days, I observe that there seems to be an absence of homeless folks in my neighborhood. Are they genuinely gone, or have they moved a short distance away, or are they just keeping a lower profile? I don't know. Which just shows you that my local intelligence network has broken down....

The Democrats Walk


Tracking "Beauty Queen"

Debuted at #46 on Billboard. Apparently now at #41.

Banner ad up at Fusion Radio Chicago.

Still waiting for song to start rotation at my particular lodestone, Energy 105.1FM in Toronto.

Jetta's Birthday Get-Together At Callison's

M.: So, how's the Improv class going at Sierra II?
J.: Oh, it's going good! We're in the Senior Center, but the folks catch on fast. Some of them have trouble walking, so we don't move around that much, but they were making me laugh with all the stuff they thought up on-the-spot.

WANTING Lower House Prices? La, La, La, I'm Not Listening

My privilege as an American working on a mortgage, a (supposed) homeowner, is the privilege to dream of jackpots and not to listen to reason. The older I get, the less reason I have to think logically anyway. And the yearning for the big suburban jackpot: where else do you think the Tea Partiers get their mojo, sitting there watching their Glenn Beck on their big-screen TVs (purchased on credit)? Logic, schmogic. Talk to any young person: they're up-to-here with stories about their bizarre elders.

If you thought the Baby Boom was a self-centered pain-in-the-ass in the 1960's, wait until they all retire with their loot and start meandering the desert in their RVs. Wait! It's already happening? Too late!:
The only people who clearly benefit from rising home prices are those who are selling their last house or downsizing. This is the same group that benefitted most from the previous run-up in prices — that is, typically, older people who have lived in the same house for years.

...Any investment value greater than zero (or zero plus inflation) is suspicious because it depends on the greater-fool theory. There is no physical reason why a house should become more valuable at all. It is not growing like a crop. It is not producing anything that you can turn around and sell, like a factory. It just sits there. It becomes more valuable because people believe that it will become more valuable. Worse, since the general assumption that it will become more valuable is already reflected in the price you paid, you need a buyer who believes that it will become more valuable even faster than the general consensus.


From "Fiddler on the Roof":
"As the Good Book says, good news will stay.
And bad news will refuse to leave."

I'm In Community Theater. I Do Everything For Nothing All The Time

Yet "all the gold in the world" would not suffice in payment for the joy I've experienced in working for free. When she tires of the particular media hamster-wheel she's on now, she should give community theater a try!:
The Moroccan teenager at the center of a prostitution scandal that has sent Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi to trial says she has done nothing wrong and that "all the gold in the world" could not compensate her for the hurt she has suffered.

In an email exchange with The Associated Press on Wednesday and Thursday, Karima El Mahrough, who goes by the stage name Ruby, lamented that she has been "treated as a prostitute by all the Italian and foreign media."

"I WANT TO BE COMPENSATED for having been hurt so much and all the gold in the world would not be enough," she wrote to the AP.

Ruby, now 18, requested euro15,000 ($20,340) for a full TV interview, saying: "I don't do anything for nothing."

The AP, a nonprofit media organization, does not pay for interviews.

The December Rains Left A Big Footprint

Canadian Weather Crisis

And to think of the number of times they've faced similar catastrophes, sometimes even alone!

Justin Bieber Endures

M.S. shares this via Facebook.

There is an article in Atlantic Magazine this month called "The Wisdom of Justin Bieber". I think Justin might be kind of like Yoda. Justin sees Hollywood's waywardness, and he understands. He takes the long view. Most of all, Justin endures, like rocks endure the surf. Justin is like the Pyramids, or Stonehenge. Like the morning sun, Justin will rise again!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Need To Read

The article in the newest Sacramento News & Review regarding Phil Angelides' experiences delving into the Housing Bubble collapse look very interesting, particularly with regard to the necessity of protecting regulators who try act on behalf of the public, but get crushed by their superiors, who are acting on behalf of interested parties. I'm quite worried we'll just relive a horrible permutation of this experience in just a few years, because the malefactors got away with most of the loot, and they are eager to play again....

The March issue of Harper's Magazine has a showcase article by William T. Vollmann regarding homelessness in Sacramento, particularly in regard to the tent city we've had here. Homelessness is everywhere here!

The New, Improved Human Being

Severely-short Ecuadorians have something going for them:
For years, Dr. Jaime Guevara-Aguirre of Quito, Ecuador, noticed that his shortest patients never seemed to get the common ailments that befell others.

These patients had a genetic mutation that would not allow them to grow more than 4 feet tall -- their heights would be fixed to that of a 7-year-old for life.

Although they aged, Guevara-Aguirre noticed that "they developed neither cancer nor diabetes." "That was fascinating," he said.

...Despite this resistance to diabetes or cancer, life expectancy of the study subjects didn't rise.

"The answer is, it doesn't lead to life extension," said Dr. Valter Longo, one of the authors in the study. "It leads to major reduction in cancer and diabetes."

During the course of the study, nine of the 99 participants with dwarfism died. Their common killers were age-related diseases such as heart disease and stroke. Compared with their relatives of regular height, they "died much more frequently from accidents, alcohol-related causes, and convulsive disorders," according to the study.

"They do have potential to live longer if they don't die of weird causes of death-accidents, alcohol-related conditions," said Longo, an associate professor of biological sciences at the University of Southern California.

Interesting Wall Of Precipitation Passing Through

Tales of hail about town.

Dying For Copper

People are really getting desperate! And careless!

Last week, the church renting DMTC's theater had its air conditioning units (stationed on the roof that we both share) vandalized by copper thieves. It was the sheerest luck that the thieves didn't get to DMTC's air conditioning units.

If this keeps up, it's only a matter of time before our theater goes dark in the middle of a show, because on some inexpert use of bolt cutters on live power lines. Since it is a theater, I only ask that the theater go dark at an appropriate place in the story:
Sacramento Police said a man was electrocuted late Tuesday night when he was trying to cut a high-voltage power line to steal copper wire for its recycling value.

"Deputies responded, along with firefighters," said Sacramento police spokesman Norm Leong. "They found a man from the Roseville area who appears to have been trying to steal copper wiring from the electrical lines in the SMUD box."

Police said the 38-year-old man died in an attempt to steal copper wire at Harry Renfree baseball field near Auburn Boulevard and Watt Avenue about 10:30 p.m. A city pump was also damaged in an apparent theft at the baseball complex.

Auditor Goes All-Medieval On Yolo And Amador Counties

Apparently Yolo and Amador Counties have sometimes been using casino money as a slush fund for badly-needed services. And why shouldn't they? What's a casino good for, after all?

If someone didn't grant counties the proper authorization to use the money this way, in ways sometimes not directly associated with casino impacts, they should do so, ASAP. Especially with Amador County. Please! Policing demands directly associated with the casino are direct casino impacts! Does someone have a problem with this?:
California local governments, including Yolo and Amador counties, are misusing or failing to justify money they get from local Indian casinos, the state auditor reported Tuesday.

...In a stern response, Ryan wrote that his office "takes great pride in the fact that we closely track casino-related events that impact public safety." He said Amador authorities in 2008 responded to 413 incidents on casino grounds, where 46 arrests and 359 casino-related traffic stops were made. An additional 17 arrests were made off casino property.

Ryan said the audit's findings that the county couldn't account for its law enforcement costs "impugns the integrity of the professional men and women of the Amador County Sheriff's Office."

In Yolo County, home of Cache Creek Casino Resort, the audit determined that a local tribal fund didn't have the authority to grant funds to the local Esparto Unified School District for computer education, student transportation, athletics and an academic decathlon competition. The audit said school districts are not eligible to receive grants from the Indian Gaming Distribution Fund.

The report suggested that the Legislature consider amending laws governing the fund to allow tribes to sponsor a wider range of community programs, regardless of whether they were impacted by the presence of a casino.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Puzzled By The Standards Of Right-Wing Radio Talk Show Hosts

Last night, I was listening to the Jason Lewis talk show. A telephone caller proposed what he thought was the ideal GOP ticket in 2012: J.C. Watts for President, and Sarah Palin for VP. Lewis demurred; he thought that ticket was too-Establishment for his taste. I'm listening, and thinking, WTF?

Julissa Veloz- Predator vs The Creep (Parody Video)

This is what happens when Dance Music types start making mashups.

I don't know where that trio of men in suits came from, but maybe that's my niche in Dance Music.

Arcade Fire - The Suburbs

Arcade Fire won at the Grammys! But I have no idea why! So, here is a clip taken from the short film: "Scenes From The Suburbs" (director Spike Jonze). Lyrics:
In the suburbs I
I learned to drive
And you told me we'd never survive
Grab your mother's keys we're leavin'

You always seemed so sure
That one day we'd fight in
In a suburban world
your part of town gets minor
So you're standin' on the opposite shore
But by the time the first bombs fell
We were already bored
We were already, already bored

Sometimes I can't believe it
I'm movin' past the feeling
Sometimes I can't believe it
I'm movin' past the feeling again

Kids wanna be so hard
But in my dreams we're still screamin' and runnin' through the yard
And all of the walls that they built in the seventies finally fall
And all of the houses they build in the seventies finally fall
Meant nothin' at all
Meant nothin' at all
It meant nothin

Sometimes I can't believe it
I'm movin' past the feeling
Sometimes I can't believe it
I'm movin' past the feeling and into the night

So can you understand?
Why I want a daughter while I'm still young
I wanna hold her hand
And show her some beauty
Before this damage is done

But if it's too much to ask, it's too much to ask
Then send me a son

Under the overpass
In the parking lot we're still waiting
It's already passed
So move your feet from hot pavement and into the grass
Cause it's already passed
It's already, already passed!

Sometimes I can't believe it
I'm movin' past the feeling
Sometimes I can't believe it
I'm movin' past the feeling again

I'm movin' past the feeling
I'm movin' past the feeling

In my dreams we're still screamin'
We're still screamin'
We're still screamin'

Beware The Cassowaries

Big and powerful birds with big and powerful appetites:
Famed for their long talons – their dagger-like middle claws measure 12cm long – and powerful legs, the birds, which are unique to the rainforests of northern Australia, are said to be able to disembowel humans, dogs and horses with just one kick.

...However, thanks to land clearing and development along the coast, the fearsome birds are seriously endangered, with just 1,000 left in the wild.

Queensland authorities and green groups have warned that over the coming weeks the birds will be forced out of the rainforest after violent winds from Cyclone Yasi stripped trees of their main food source, fruit.

...Bob Irwin, a conservationist and the father of late Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin, said it could take 18 months for the rainforest to grow back and that in that time scores of cassowaries could starve to death.

Like GW Bush Said, The Constitution Is "Just A GD Piece Of Paper"

First thing the Tea Partiers with their Constitutional fetish do when they enter Congress is to start trying to increase Congress' power at the expense of the Executive.

Congress probably should have greater power over the Executive, particularly regarding warmaking power, but the Tea Party approach to reining in executive administrative authority is to go against the structure outlined in the Constitution:
The REINS Act has received much attention from both sides of the aisle. Tea Party activists are fully behind it, Speaker of the House John Boehner recently endorsed it, and several other conservative interests have expressed their support, lauding it as a needed tool to “rein in” government agencies which they see as aggressively expanding the scope of federal rulemaking in recent years.

...The second constitutional argument against the REINS Act is more structural, arguing that the Act would disturb the balance of powers among the federal branches. Particularly, the Supreme Court has held that a statute is suspect if it “involves an attempt by Congress to increase its own powers at the expense of the executive branch.” Morrison v Olson, 487 U.S. 654, 658 (1988). In making this determination, the Supreme Court has particularly considered traditional roles of the separate branches. In this case, there is a fairly simple case to be made that Congress is trying to increase its own powers at the expense of federal agencies; evidence for this is ample, including in the acronym of the bill itself.

...REINS Act supporters appear to be hiding the ball somewhat here, disguising the full effect of the bill to avoid the politically daunting task of openly amending virtually every major piece of legislation since the Great Depression.

...Congress absolutely has the power to delegate (and cease to delegate) enforcement powers to the executive branch, but once it has done so it cannot influence the decisions that are made; that much is made clear in Chadha.

'Curveball' Talks About His Patriotic Lies

Getting good intelligence is hard in a world when so many people have their own personal axes to grind. But the Bush Administration was never interested in good intelligence: what they wanted was intelligence they wanted to hear, and they succeeded in getting that, as all powerful people eventually do. But Iraq is worse off, America's reputation has been permanently-damaged, and America's power has weakened in a critical area of the world as a result:
An Iraqi defector, codenamed Curveball, who allegedly helped convince the Bush administration that Saddam Hussein had a secret stash of biological and chemical weapons, has admitted for the first time that he made it all up.

Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi told The Guardian that he invented the stories to help topple Saddam Hussein, but was shocked when the US used tales as an excuse to go to war.

"I did that for a number of reasons," he said. "Firstly because of my people, the Iraqi people. The old regime was a dictatorship and that caused a lot of problems for our country."

"I had to do something for my country. So I did this and I am satisfied, because there is no dictator in Iraq any more."

"Maybe I was right, maybe I was not right," Janabi observed. "They gave me this chance. I had the chance to fabricate something to topple the regime. I and my sons are proud of that and we are proud that we were the reason to give Iraq the margin of democracy."

Old Man Award

Monday evening in aerobics class, I got a woot-woot for remembering that "I Love The Nightlife" was sung by Alicia Bridges. No one could remember Amy's last name, though: the one who sang "Knock On Wood". A fading memory is the price one pays for the Old Man Award. (Grant? Wood? Grant-Wood? Wood-Grant?)

Service Pomeranian

Sunday afternoon, at the Church Mouse Thrift Shop on Sonoma's Plaza, a woman with sunglasses walked in with a Pomeranian on a leash. Challenged by the store clerk, the woman pointed to an invisible tag on the dog's collar and said the Pomeranian was a service dog. The woman did not linger much longer, but from what I could tell, the Pomeranian was completely scatter-brained, and no use to anyone.

Trolling For Customers

Friday evening, I saw a paratransit bus run the red light at 19th and T Streets: not by a little bit, but right in the middle of the light. I just figured they were looking to beef up their clientele.

Monday, February 14, 2011

For The Stage, An Undergarment Failure Waiting To Happen

Still, a B+ for innovation:
A bra that springs off at the clap of a hand has been invented by an American man, surprise surprise.

...Randy Sarafan's device would consign to history the dreaded clasp-fumbling that often happens in the throes of passion.

Shirley Sherrod Sues The Ted Bundy Of Politics

Andrew Breitbart's behavior was, and continues to remain, inexcusable. Breitbart remains in total denial he did anything wrong, even though he had malice aforethought at every single step in the process, and still does. Conservatives used to know that, just like with mass-murderers like Charles Manson or Ted Bundy, you jail people like this, you don't make them media heroes. Ag Secretary Vilsack should have resigned over this. I hope Breitbart is finally called to account for his actions, that he is finally muzzled by respectable media outfits, and that Sherrod wins millions:
Sherrod was the Georgia director for rural development for the U.S. Department of Agriculture until last June, when Breitbart posted online a heavily edited video excerpt of her speaking to a Georgia civil-rights group in which Sherrod, an African American woman, suggested that she once discriminated against a white farmer seeking help.

..."Although the defamatory blog post authored by Defendant Breitbart purported to show video proof that Mrs. Sherrod exhibited racism in performance of her USDA job," states the complaint, posted Monday by the website Talking Points Memo, the video Breitbart used was an excerpt "from a much longer speech by Mrs. Sherrod that demonstrated exactly the opposite."

...The lawsuit does not request a specific award and seeks punitive damages. It also requests that Brietbart and his company remove all "defamatory language and video" from his blog at -- as well as from YouTube.

..."Mr. Breitbart categorically rejects the transparent effort to chill his constitutionally protected free speech and, to reiterate, looks forward to exercising his full and broad discovery rights. Mr. Breitbart is absolutely confident of being fully vindicated."

The GOP 2012 Race, So Far

The Republican 2012 presidential nominating race reminds me of the Democrats' nomination race of both 1976 and 1988, when there were no obvious frontrunners, and the field was open to obscure candidates to come forward.

In 1976, I jumped on the Jimmy Carter bandwagon in January, 1976 - fairly early - and was pleased just how well he ran his race. In 1988, I was also pleased how quickly Michael Dukakis won the race. For years, he was brilliant on that PBS public affairs TV show that paired him off with William Rusher from the National Review - "The Advocates" - national reach there! - but I was also bewildered by how badly he ran his race after the nominating conventions.

The 2008 Republican nomination race displayed just how sensitive the GOP race is to the results of Super Tuesday. Candidates that can't instantaneously display a national reach, however feeble, fall flat on their face, immediately. In 2008, I thought John McCain displayed amazing guts by going deeply into debt, despite open rejection by the conservative base, in order to stay just-viable-enough for Super Tuesday (amazing guts, or proof-positive of insanity - take your pick). McCain knew he had broader reach than either Huckabee or Giuliani could muster, especially in places like California, and that he was the stronger candidate - but only if he could survive until Super Tuesday.

So, I suspect the key to 2012 GOP nomination race is deciphering just who has the broadest reach, and is able to stay viable in all quarters of the country. 'Broadest reach' is broadly-defined too: 'reach' can mean many things.

Friend Bruce E-Mails from Albuquerque what might be seen as the New Mexico angle. Bruce calls it 'The Joke of the Week':
ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - Former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson performed well in Saturday’s conservative straw poll for possible presidential contenders.

Johnson came in third, tied with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, with six percent of the vote.

Texas Congressman Ron Paul came in first with 30 percent and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney came in second with 23 percent.
I'd say it's a mistake to call anyone at this stage 'The Joke of the Week'. In December, 2007, John McCain was 'The Joke of the Week'. If Gary Johnson methodically forms alliances with Republicans right around the country, with a view towards surviving until Super Tuesday, then he can have the last laugh.

Myself, I think Sarah Palin has the broadest reach right now. It's an ephemeral media reach, and as flimsy as tinsel, but it's there, so she's the frontrunner.

Salon has their analysis:
But Romney's problems are bigger that CPAC. He's been running -- hard -- for president since at least 2005, laboring to align himself with every right-wing position and pet cause and straining to make conservatives forget about his years as a Massachusetts moderate. He's been somewhat successful in this, but his Massachusetts healthcare program -- originally conceived as a brilliant way of using conservative principles to solve a big problem -- haunts him in the "ObamaCare" era.

...Paul, who has now won the CPAC straw poll for two years, is a nonstarter. The angry reaction of just about everyone who didn't vote for him when the results were announced Saturday is a good indication of the ceiling he faces.

Tim Pawlenty is trying furiously to be a contender, and has been since the 2008 race. But his speech fell flat and he ended up tied for sixth place in the straw poll with four percent.

Haley Barbour is pretty clearly running. He's scheduled a major fundraiser for his PAC in the coming weeks, and now comes word that he'll head to Iowa next month. ... But Barbour has some serious baggage. Like today's news that he's lobbied on behalf of the Mexican government for amnesty.

...John Thune is often touted a darkhorse, mainly because of his physical appearance. He also voted for TARP and is one of the worst GOP earmark offenders in the Senate. Some wonkish think tank-types like Mitch Daniels... whose CPAC speech was apparently savaged by Rush Limbaugh on Monday afternoon. Rick Santorum's speech was notable mostly for the large number of empty seats in the room. Sarah Palin didn't take part in CPAC, but in the wake of Tucson, there's more reason than ever to doubt that Republicans will actually anoint her if she runs. And if you think Newt Gingrich is the one to watch, well...

...Huckabee skipped CPAC -- he says its gotten too libertarian. But polls have found him to be the most popular Republican in the '12 mix. He's a rock star to cultural conservatives but is also immensely likable.

...And then there's Christie. He has insisted that he won't run in '12, and there's good reason to believe him. He spent nearly a decade of his life pursuing the job he has now, and it's a job he truly enjoys.

Don't Cut THAT!

It's about to get scary:
But an even bigger problem is that Republicans in Congress appear to be just as ignorant about the actual impact of the grandiose spending cuts they repeatedly claim they are going to enact immediately. In coming weeks, everyone is going to get a very fast and very rough education on the real effects of slashing government spending.

On Feb. 9, House Appropriations Committee chairman Hal Rogers, R-KY, announced $74 billion in budget cuts in fiscal year 2011, which began on Oct. 1, 2010. Enacting large budget cuts in the current fiscal year when it’s almost half over is very foolish. Congress can’t cut spending that has already been spent, so it must cut very heavily from a small spending base to achieve meaningful savings.

...Lilly explains:
“With many of the 93 freshmen members of the House still asking rudimentary budget questions such as: ‘what is the difference between an authorization and an appropriation?’ or ‘how do outlays differ from budget authority?’ the time frame that Rep. Rogers and his leadership are committed to means that not only will those voting on the proposal have little opportunity to understand it but the authors themselves will not have fully vetted or completely understood what they are proposing. There have been no hearings, no requests for testimony, and no opportunity even for staff charged with proposing the cuts to do agency-by-agency analysis of the possible negative consequences. Members will vote next week on the package without fundamental knowledge of how major budget changes in literally thousands of federal programs will impact the country in general or their own constituents in particular.”
...But the fact is that millions of Americans benefit from government programs without realizing it. Indeed, research by Cornell political scientist Suzanne Mettler shows that many recipients of government benefits don’t believe that they have received any benefits.

From San Francisco, Through Sonoma, Back To Sac

The Golden Gate Bridge looms above the haze.

South Tower, Golden Gate Bridge.

The Hamlin School in San Francisco, where Sally graduated from high school.

Interesting Russian-themed building in San Francisco.

Sonoma City Hall.

'La Casa' restaurant, in Sonoma.

Covered walkway in Sonoma.

Mission in Sonoma.

Balloons in Sonoma.

Iconic row of eucalyptus trees along Highway 29 near Sonoma.

Peña Pachamama Saturday Evening

On Saturday evening, Sally and I went to Peña Pachamama for dinner.

Sally had received a Groupon coupon from her daughter Page for the restaurant, so, knowing virtually nothing about the place, we showed up.

There are some delightful videos at their Web Site showing the range of entertainment that has played there. As their Web Site explains:

Peña Pachamama—One of those magical places... a little island of the future where those who enter her doors are forever transformed by the spirit of the music and dance that takes them in. You'll find it on a little side street in San Francisco's old Latin Quarter somewhere between Chinatown, Fisherman's Wharf and endless Italian late-night cafes.

It was once one of San Francisco’s most important speakeasies; later Amelio's, which along with Ernie’s, was one of the most famous restaurants in the city. This inviting and comfortable space is where Clark Gable and Carole Lombard had their rendezvous. John & Robert Kennedy, Gary Cooper, Bing Crosby, Dean Martin and boxer Rocky Marciano were among some of the personalities that frequented this landmark location.

A Bolivian headdress.


At one point, our waitress disappeared. A short time later, she reappeared as "Marina, the Flamenco Dancer" (in this picture, the filigree across her cheek is her right earring, whipped by her rapid movement).

Then, a short time later, she reappeared as our waitress.

More dancing.

It turned out that both the restaurant staff and ourselves had misinterpreted the Groupon offer (just a glass of Sangria and the show, for two; not the entire dinner, for two, as we thought at first).

At DMTC, we've also had trouble making sure that Groupon offers, and similar offers, are clearly specified. It's just amazing how quickly Groupon has become popular, but it doesn't mean anyone really understands it yet.


Peña Pachamama is a delightful place!

A fine headdress.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Tourist San Francisco

Approaching San Francisco from the north.

The Golden Gate Bridge.

We strolled the tourist areas near Fisherman's Wharf, and Pier 39.

In this view, a small bush is visible on the sidewalk. The bush is fake: behind the leafy branches, a small Asian man crouched. He would come leaping out at unwary tourists, to the delight of more street-smart tourists who already knew he was there.


Street bands played.

The sea lions frolicked under the gaze of hominid mammals at Pier 39.

Alcatraz Island, with sailboat.


Salt-water taffy for sale. Resistance weakens.... Must purchase....

Carousel on Pier 39.

Purses for sale on Pier 39.

The Carnival Splendor prepares to leave San Francisco.

This is the cruise ship that got into so much trouble last November, when its crew and passengers were stranded at sea after an engine fire. After being towed to San Diego, where its passengers disembarked, it was towed to San Francisco for repairs. Those repairs are now completed, and the Carnival Splendor will rejoin the Carnival fleet soon.

Container ship arrives from China.

There is a chapel on the port walk. We looked in the windows, to see this stained-glass window.

An enterprising water bird collected sea weed. This is likely either a Western Grebe, or a Clark's Grebe.

My sister called when I was playing tourist, with a crisis. Childhood friend Joe Lewis, whom I hadn't seen in 40 years, had just missed a flight at Sacramento Metro Airport. Could I meet him for dinner?

Unfortunately, the one night when he was in Sacramento, I was in San Francisco! Perhaps another time!