Friday, December 09, 2011

Checkout Is The Biggest Hurdle

Impaired thought process, plus necessity, are the mothers of invention:
A woman in Tulsa, Oklahoma was arrested Thursday for trying to set up a meth lab inside a Walmart store.

Police said security footage showed Elizabeth Alisha Greta Halfmoon, 45, in the store for at least six hours gathering the chemicals needed to manufacture methamphetamine.

Halfmoon told officers she was “too broke to buy the chemicals” and take them out of the store.

“She didn’t have the money to make the purchases of the chemicals that were needed so she was taking what was needed in the bottle,” Officer David Shelby told Fox 23′s Abbie Alford. “When I saw her, she had just finished mixing sulfuric acid with starter fluid in a bottle,” he added.

Sacramento Theatre Company's "A Christmas Carol"

Fun evening, watching Matt K. Miller playing Ebenezer Scrooge, Michael R.J. Campbell playing Fezziwig and the Ghost of Christmas Present, and Jerry Lee as Scrooge's nephew. Also in the cast were recent DMTC players Danielle Hansen, and Javen and Raven Crosby.

The lobby at half time.

I Didn't Know Sandahl Bergman Did Aerobics Videos

From 1983.

As Soon As Politics Gets Out Of Science, Rick!

Rick Santorum has had it with the eggheads:
Discussing controversial classroom subjects such as evolution and global warming, Santorum said he has suggested that “science should get out of politics” and he is opposed to teaching that provides a “politically correct perspective.”

Ray Bolger Dancing

Channel surfing late at night, I sometimes bump into TCM, which of late has been featuring song-and-dance segments from old movies. Here's one segment they showed this week of Ray Bolger (as available on YouTube, with a great dance starting at 1:12).

"Rock 'N' Roll Christmas" - Pictures From Last Sunday

Department Of Misappropriated Analogies - Part VII

At the optician:

Opt: There you go, I tightened your glasses' frames! How does it feel?

Me: This is great! I was getting really, really tired of my glasses always falling off my face, particularly during exercise!

Opt: The heat from your head softens the plastic of the frames, allowing them to flex and distort. You'll have to come in periodically to have that adjusted. It's part of the price we pay to look good!

Me: Like the women who come in periodically for a bit of plastic work. It's part of the price they pay to look good!

Ron Paul, And The Long Haul

The nature of the rules dictates the strategy. If you have proportional allocation rules in a Presidential primary, you get much different kinds of campaigns than if you have winner-take-all rules.

In 2008, Barack Obama's people understood the Democratic Party's proportional allocation rules better than Hillary Clinton's people did. Her media-oriented strategy wasn't attuned to the rules, and wasn't sufficient to derail Obama's more-methodical pursuit of delegates.

In contrast, the Republican Party primary campaign of 2008 didn't look at all like the Democratic Party's campaign, because the GOP's winner-take-all rules dictated a completely-different, more media-oriented strategy. Kamikaze John McCain understood the rules better than anyone else, borrowed heavily, gambled everything he had, and won!

This year, the GOP primary also has proportional allocation rules, which gives candidates with less access to media some hope of success, provided they have sufficient cash to weather the primary season. It suggests that an Obama-like approach might work this time around in the GOP primary.

Ron Paul might just succeed with this strategy:
In a far cry from his ragtag 2008 effort, Ron Paul is looking beyond the traditional early state contests and gearing up for a long primary slog that lasts at least through Super Tuesday.

...The Texas congressman’s long-haul approach is designed to take advantage of new GOP proportional allocation rules that enable candidates to amass delegates without finishing in first place, and to leverage the unique attributes of his campaign — an intensely loyal following and a steady flow of money that will likely enable him to continue for as long as he chooses.

...As of the fundraising quarter that ended Sept. 30, Paul had raised more than $12 million, the bulk of in small donations. Few others in the field can claim an ongoing donor base to raise money from once voting starts winnowing out the candidates.

...He’s put together a more professional team this time around, with a traditional campaign structure. He has spent more than $2 million on ads, including a national cable buy on Fox News, which helped elevate his standing in the latest numbers in Iowa. He’s also been highlighting lesser-examined aspects of his positions, like his opposition to abortion, in an effort to woo social conservatives.

Chemicals In Bulk

I'm sure it's just a hobbyist in the jungle (via El Blog del Narco, translated via Google):
Federal authorities seized a container with more than 23 tons of precursor chemicals that arrived on Dec. 5 at the Port of Manzanillo, Colima, which had as its final destination Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala.

In the container was seized 136 metal drums, each with a capacity of 170 liters of precursor chemicals known as methylamine, making a total of 23 tons 120 kilograms.

According to research, the product originates in Turkey, according to the cargo manifest was loaded at the Port of Tagliari, Italy, before arriving in transshipment in Manzanillo, Colima.

'Fast And Furious' Back-And-Forth

Unlike a lot of what happens in Washington, D.C., this video, showing Rep. Jason Chaffetz interrogating Attorney General Eric Holder, is actually quite heartening. It shows how a responsible democracy should handle difficult questions.

Unfortunately, there is a lot that gets left out of any such heated, but limited, duel. If, indeed, the United States has decided to intervene in Mexico on the side of the Sinaloa Cartel, and against Los Zetas (as seems to be the case, because there is no other force available in Mexico to do the job, seeing how lethal Los Zetas are, giving us no choice but to support the Sinaloa Cartel, because the enemy of my enemy is my friend), then a lot of Chaffetz's outrage is misplaced. Having 'Fast and Furious' guns linked to the assassinations of Mexican officials was part of the plan all along - in particular, those Mexican officials linked to Los Zetas. And whatever else he may think he is doing, by attacking Holder, Chaffetz is using his office to defend Los Zetas. Which I'm sure isn't what the good voters of Utah thought they wanted when they sent Chaffetz to Washington, D.C. in the first place. But that's what they are getting! War is a terrible thing, particularly when it's next door, and there is no way to avoid getting involved.

The Arid Winter So Far

The last month-and-a-half is really quite remarkable. Nothing is happening out West, and there are few signs that anything will happen anytime soon. To paraphrase Matt Taibbi, the great vampire squid of drought is wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like water.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Yeah, Nothing Slipperier Than Customer Funds

We'll help you look:
Jon Corzine denied any knowledge of what happened to the estimated $1.2 billion in customer funds that went missing in the days before MF Global went bankrupt, telling a congressional panel on Thursday he “was stunned” when he heard about the funds, but “I simply do not know where the money is.”

The Evil Doer Chooses To Hide

Former U.S. President George W. Bush has cancelled a visit to Switzerland over fears he could have been arrested on torture charges.

Mr Bush was due to be the keynote speaker at a Jewish charity gala in Geneva on February 12.

But pressure has been building on the Swiss government to arrest him and open a criminal investigation if he enters the country.

Mr. Gingrich Requires

Rider requests:

The Smoking Gun got a hold of a document detailing Gingrich’s rider requests for a speech in January 2010. His appearance carried a hefty price tag — more than $50,000 — and included a few hotel stipulations:

“Mr. Gingrich requires a non-smoking one-bedroom suite (preferably with two bathrooms) and an additional non-smoking single room (located nearby the suite, but not attached) for his aide…”

Happy Holidays

The War On Christmas continues:
British police have arrested a man after a parent's finger was bitten off during a fight before a school's Nativity play.

No, You Can't Mortgage Marc Valdez!

Today on the Interwebs, someone in Arkansas Googled the phrase: "yes we can mortgage marc valdez".

WTF? No, you can't!

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

"Family Guy" Writer Describes Being Arrested At Occupy LA

Some of the stories about the lead-footed chaos there are just coming out:
With us Occupy LA protestors, however, they set bail at $5,000 and booked us into jail. Almost none of the protesters could afford to bail themselves out. I’m lucky and I could afford it, except the LAPD spent all day refusing to actually *accept* the bail they set. If you were an accused murderer or a rapist in LAPD custody that day, you could bail yourself right out and be back on the street, no problem. But if you were a nonviolent Occupy LA protestor with bail money in hand, you were held long into the following morning, with absolutely no access to a lawyer.

Like Flying Squirrels, Or Space Shuttles, Or Something, But With Faster Decision-Making

I especially like some of these BASE jumping videos where the fliers somersault in midair, just to show they can!

Here, in the video above, there are endless close brushes with terrain.

Wind flow distorts as it moves past terrain - accelerating near the terrain in a sort of Bernoulli effect. They must be taking advantage of that acceleration, somehow. Faster wind speeds will help keep you aloft longer, if you fly into the wind. Otherwise, I see no great advantage to passing within a few feet of trees (besides getting the best camera footage ever).

These ravines! OMG! Have to think FAST! One error, and you're finished! And what if you collide with a pigeon? Or even a dragonfly?

Such decision-making. In the next video, the flyer decides to go right, instead of straight. If it was me, I'd probably go straight, and belly-flop right into the terrain feature. So, how did the flyer decide, and when?

Thelma & Clyde "Lockstitch"

Nice tune, that the BASE jumpers used in the second video I posted yesterday.

Baby Metal

It's late. The folks at WTF, Japan Seriously? will wake me up.

"This Christmas Day" - DMTC - Rock 'N' Roll Christmas 2011

"This Christmas Day" from DMTC's "Rock 'N' Roll Christmas", 2011.

A good subject, but not a particularly good video (the autofocus couldn't deal with the light fluctuations), but the audio is OK (excepting the last instant, when the camera's memory filled up).

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Yearning To Fly

Just, wow!

But he's so close to the cliff face! It looks like one small error of judgment could be catastrophic! Maybe the wind helps....

I yearn to put one of these suits on, and jump off Sandia Crest. But are the Sandias steep enough? Dunno. Have to give it a try and find out!

Here are many BASE jumpers leaping at once!

Hmmm. List of fatalities.

The Thrifty GOP Primary - So Far

Apparently the 2012 GOP presidential primary election cycle is cheaper at this stage than the 2008 election cycle was:
Everyone knows that campaigns get more expensive every cycle; that is, we knew it until this year. As The Washington Post detailed last week, this has been the cheapest primary campaign in over a decade. Four years ago, the Republican candidates spent a total of $132 million through the September before voting began; this year they spent a mere $53 million. That combined total is less than one candidate, Mitt Romney, spent during that period four years ago. This year he spent a mere $18 million through September, compared with the nearly $54 million he spent through September 2007.
Kevin Drum speculates:
I can think of a few reasons why this might be:
  • Despite the happy talk, GOP donors don't actually believe that Obama is that vulnerable. They don't want to waste their money on a lost cause, so they're reluctant to open their pocketbooks.
  • The media landscape has changed more than we think, especially for conservatives. Over the past few years, they've discovered that they can run very effective campaigns by using free media (Fox News, talk radio, etc.) rather than paid ad buys on mainstream media. This is especially true in primary campaigns, where their sole audience is the conservative base.
  • Big money donors don't have much of a dog in the race this year. This is because either (a) they like all the candidates and don't have a strong preference for any of them, (b) they dislike all the candidates and don't want to be associated with any of them, or (c) they just don't think it matters much because they're all pretty much saying the same things.
  • These days, all the right-wing money is going into super PACs, which seem like a more effective force for promoting conservative goals than individual campaigns do.
Myself, I never understood why campaigns had to be so expensive in the first place. Maybe things are just getting more-efficient.

Dyer Went To Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge

Dyer takes the very best photos! Here, of Sandhill Cranes, at dawn.

Nancy Pelosi Knows About Newt Gingrich

It's all public, of course, but the details got hazy, and we need reminders:
Pelosi didn’t go into detail about Gingrich’s past transgressions, but she tipped her hand. “One of these days we’ll have a conversation about Newt Gingrich,” Pelosi said. “I know a lot about him. I served on the investigative committee that investigated him, four of us locked in a room in an undisclosed location for a year. A thousand pages of his stuff.”

Pressed for more detail she wouldn’t go further.

“Not right here,” Pelosi joked. “When the time’s right.”

FOX News Gets Extra NYPD Protection That Other Networks Don't

And it's not based on threat levels either. It looks like connections, and/or paranoia:
The Daily Beast has observed at least two, and up to three officers patrolling the News Corp. plaza with one or two police cars stationed in front of the 45-story building on a regular basis. A security guard inside the lobby of the News Corp. building said that the police presence out front “has nothing to do with Fox News,” and is there simply because it’s a “high-profile” area. Yet cops who spoke with The Daily Beast said that they are posted at the site to protect Fox News as part of a counterterrorism initiative. Most officers explained that Fox News is a sensitive location, and one even referred to it as a “political” network. Some ex-Fox News employees attribute the patrol to the “paranoia” of Fox News chairman and CEO Roger Ailes.

Discreet New Mexico Bumblebee Makes Rare Appearance

The re-discovery of a rare species that hadn't been heard from in five decades is causing a buzz among scientists at the University of California, Riverside.

"Cockerell's bumblebee" was originally seen in 1913 when six specimens were found along the Rio Ruidoso in New Mexico.

University of California Riverside scientist, Douglas Yanega said Monday that only 16 were found over the years, all around Ruidoso and nearby Cloudcroft. The last one seen was in 1956.

Yanega says on Aug. 31, three specimens were found on weeds collected along a highway north of Cloudcroft. He says Cockerell's has the most limited range of any of the 50 bumblebee species in the world.

UCR scientists will use the specimens to attempt to prove Cockerell's is its own species and needs more attention.

A Plethora Of Heisenbergs

Andy send this article, describing another example of a 'real life Walter White' to add to the Cal State San Bernardino professor from last September.

You just know this is the tip of the Heisenberg iceberg. There is something about clandestine drug manufacture that appeals to the arrogant, misfit academic:
A 74-year-old math professor at two Boston universities is facing charges that she ran a methamphetamine lab with her son out of their home.

Irina Kristy, 74, teaches math at Boston University and Suffolk University, the Boston Globe reported Sunday. Suffolk University placed her on administrative leave last week after learning of the charges against her.

...Investigators searching the home they share in Somerville, Mass. -- about four miles northwest of Boston -- on Nov. 7 found evidence that meth was being made in the home. "A large amount of materials believed to be hazardous" were removed from the site, Somerville police said in a statement.

Deluka - Cascade (The Rapture Remix)

Monday, December 05, 2011

The Russians Will Supply Nome

Noel sends this article about a Russian Icebreaker that will try to break through the choking pack ice and supply Nome, Alaska with fuel.

Arctic weather is fine-tuned to defeat human intentions. It's so damned variable! Cold, winds, unexpected thaws: the Arctic has it all!

Several weeks ago, the fiercest storm since 1974 attacked the Alaskan shoreline. People lamented that the absence of pack ice was a true disaster. Some people blamed Global Warming for the ice's absence. Without the protection of the ice, the pounding surf caused by hurricane-force winds was gouging the shoreline. You couldn't even get close to the shoreline, with all the rocks and debris flying through the air.

But now, when it would be really nice to have ice-free seas to make fuel delivery convenient, THAT'S when the pack ice shows up!

Watch. When they lay out the fuel hose from the Icebreaker and start pumping fuel, THAT'S when the pack ice will start shifting. It's all part of the Arctic Maximum Inconvenience Principle:
The iced-in city of Nome on Alaska's western coast may be in luck: A Russian tanker that can plow through thick ice will try to deliver 1.5 million gallons of home heating fuel, gasoline and diesel fuel after a massive storm kept a barge from getting in before winter.

The vessel — which is certified to travel through ice 4 feet thick for long distances — delivers fuel to communities in the Russian Far East. The plan is for it to leave Russia this week and go to South Korea, where it will be loaded with fuel, and then travel to Nome, where it should arrive by late December.

If it can't make it into port, the tanker is equipped with a hose more than a mile for off-loading fuel.

It could save the 3,500 residents of the coastal city from a very costly winter, including predictions of $9-a-gallon gasoline if fuel had to be flown in.
Sitnasuak Native Corporation said Monday it signed a contract with Alaska-based Vitus Marine LLC to have the double-hulled Ice Classed Russian tanker, owned by Russian company Rimsco, deliver the petroleum products.

Sitnasuak board chairman Jason Evans said if the marine tanker succeeds, it will be the first time petroleum products have been delivered by sea in winter to a western Alaska community.

"It really came down to that one vessel that could possibly do the job. It just so happens it was available at the moment we needed it," Evans said.

Getting Spooked By The Low Precipitation

Not only is it drying out everywhere, but the forecast for this week seems to show that it won't rain or snow anywhere in the Lower 48 on Friday or Saturday. Anywhere at all!

La NiƱa is bitter and vindictive!

Meanwhile, In Japan

Trouble on the highway:
Eight Ferraris.

Two Mercedes.

One Lamborghini.

A rain-soaked highway.

And what one police officer described to the Bloomberg News wire as "a gathering of narcissists.”

The outing Sunday of luxury sportscar enthusiasts in Japan ended in a 14-car highway pileup, valued at more than $1 million, the Associated Press reported.

Amazing Drum Solo

Bumped into this while surfing

Everyone Hates Them; No One Can Get Enough Of Them

The debt equivalent of hot dogs:
NEW YORK (AP) — Ask the people who invest billions for a living to name their favorite picks for 2012 and you'll get a smorgasbord worthy of a holiday party: Brazilian stocks, U.S. junk bonds, and government debt from Colombia. Ask them what they dislike and they'll name one of the top-performing investments this year: U.S. government bonds.

Investors can rattle off a long list of reasons to avoid Treasurys. They pay next to nothing and are bound to plunge in value whenever interest rates begin climbing from their historically low levels. It seems nobody likes Treasurys, yet everybody keeps buying them anyway.

...Bill Gross, the bond-world version of investment sage Warren Buffett, dropped nearly all Treasury holdings from the fund he manages at Pimco in early 2011. He argued that if Republicans held up lifting the government's borrowing limit, the country would risk default. Borrowing rates would spike as the world's investors dropped U.S. government debt, just as they have in Europe.

Most of what Gross predicted came true. The debt-limit fight raised worries about default and led to Standard & Poor's taking away the country's AAA credit rating in early August. But instead of spiking, U.S. borrowing rates plunged as traders sold everything else to buy U.S. government debt. The race into Treasurys helped drive the entire bond market up 3.8 percent from July to September. Gross got the big picture right but his big bet against Treasurys didn't pan out. Pimco's Total Return Fund lost 1.2 percent, its worst quarterly performance in three years.

...If there's so little to like about U.S. government bonds, why are the world's investors still buying Treasurys instead of dumping them? In a word, it's Europe.

As the crisis seemed to spread from country to country this year, the world's traders plowed more money into Treasurys. The higher the demand for U.S. debt, the lower the interest rate, or yield. So when it looked like Greece might default on its debts earlier this year, the yield on the 10-year Treasury note sank below 3 percent. And when attention turned to Italy and its government debts the yield sank even further, dipping below 2 percent in September. The shift of money out of Europe and into the U.S. has pushed Europe's borrowing rates to dangerous levels while causing U.S. interest rates to sink.

"You can hate the budget situation and hate the low yield, but if there's a panic it's the asset that outperforms," said Robert Robis, head of fixed-income strategy at ING Investment Management.

"Xanadu" Opened This Weekend

(Caption) Kitsch classic: Chloe Condon and Jesus Martinez in appear in the theatrical version of “Xanadu,” based on the campy 1980s cult movie starring Olivia Newton-John.

I can't wait to see "Xanadu"! Chloe is perfect for the role, and bound to do the show right!:

Dig out your legwarmers. “Xanadu,” the Olivia Newton-John movie musical from the 1980s, is rolling into The City — in a theatrical musical version in which roller skates and gaggle of Greek muses command the spotlight.

...The show, onstage in previews now, runs through Jan. 15 at the New Conservatory Theatre Center.

...“It’s a really funny show,” says Chloe Condon, who plays Clio/Kira. “People think of the movie and how strange and interesting it was, but this is pure fun.”

The story chronicles Sonny (Jesus Martinez) and his search for inspiration. Along comes Greek muse Clio and her sister muses — watch for clever casting — who disguises herself as Aussie-accented Kira (a la Newton-John) who dons roller skates, leg warmers and stops at nothing to help Sonny achieve his destiny of launching a hip roller disco.

...“What [the stage] lacks in length, it definitely makes up for in depth,” says Condon with a laugh about having to maneuver the space the actors to pull off some feats effectively.

“But to have to sing, act and roller skate all together … it’s been interest learning the new skills.”

...In the meantime, there’s only one more thing to know. Does Condon believe, as famed song goes, in magic?

“Of course!”


The NY Review Of Books has an interesting article on Herman Cain. He sounds like a bit of an egotist:
The political press ascribes such failures to Cain’s inexperience, but his real problem is his vanity. An accurate assessment of his rise would have attributed it to conservative voters’ distrust of Mitt Romney first and foremost, and their looking to Cain for some of the reasons that have been noted here. But This Is Herman Cain! persuades me that the candidate saw his ascendance as inevitable, an electorate finally but merely coming to its senses. So he didn’t think he had to do anything more to close the deal. All those burgers hawked, all those manly pizzas peddled, all those millions banked; and yet, at the one moment in his life when he needed discipline the most, the CEO of Self crumpled.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Rock 'N' Roll Christmas - DMTC

Christmas music in the style of Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Andrea Eve Thorpe.

Helen Spangler and Ben Wormeli.

Jenny Reuter

Helen Spangler

Andrea Eve Thorpe

Gordon Jackson. (I haven't seen Gordon onstage since he performed in DMTC's "Big River", in 1999).

Ben Wormeli

Gordon Jackson, Scott Minor, and Josh Smith

Foreground: Andrea Eve Thorpe, Christina Gross, and Samantha Nakagaki. Background: Roger Clark, Ben Wormeli, and Jacob Hite.

Foreground: Gordon Jackson. Background: Jason Markel and Helen Spangler.

Hal Wright (who, incidentally, is my lawyer).

Most of the musicians and singers. Utsav Bhargava is unseen, at left. Left to right, Jason Markel, Helen Spangler, Andrea Eve Thorpe, Christina Gross, Gordon Jackson, Roger Clark (obscured), Jenny Reuter, Ben Wormeli, Joshua Smith, Jacob Hite (obscured), Samantha Nakagaki, Stacy Sheehan, Hal Wright, and Scott Minor.

Turn Your Back For A Minute, And: Leaves Everywhere!

Well, not precisely a minute. More like a long, windy week.

In any event, I now know how I'll spend my weekend!


A friend was conversing with me today, and she wanted to use the word "technically" in conversation. Oddly, the word didn't come out as "technically": it came out as "tentacly".

This was tentacly an error of speech, but it has much to recommend it - the imagery is great! - so I suggest we all adopt that usage, henceforth.