Friday, February 10, 2012

Time To End The Debate

(Image by Joe Scaramanga at B3ta)

Avenger Of His Unfriended Spawn

That Facebook is a menace:
NASHVILLE, Tenn (Reuters) - A Tennessee couple who "defriended" a woman on Facebook were murdered in their home by the jilted woman's father and another man, police said on Thursday.

"It's the worst thing I've ever seen," Johnson County Sheriff Mike Reece said, adding he had never seen anything like it in his 27 years in law enforcement in the area. "We've had murders, but nothing like this. This is just senseless."

He said Billy Clay Payne, Jr. and Billie Jean Hayworth were killed last month after they deleted Jenelle Potter, the daughter of one of the suspects, from their "friends" list. Both were shot in the head and the man had his throat cut.

The couple's 8-month-old baby was in the mother's arms, unharmed, when the bodies were found.

..."Once you've crossed her, you've crossed her father too," Reece said, adding that Jenelle Potter, in her late 20s or early 30s, stays home with her parents and was constantly on Facebook.

And They Are - Were - Are - Such Fun Places To Go!

Via Obsidian Wings, an interesting tidbit about the end of an era:
A new enclosed mall has not opened in the United States since 2006, according to Professor Dunham-Jones, and many ambitious projects, like New Jersey’s Xanadu just west of Manhattan, have lain half-finished for years.

Gulf Of America - Now I'm The One Punked!

I should have suspected something was up with the close connection to Colbert!:
All the people outraged about the Mississippi bill to rename the Gulf of Mexico as the "Gulf of America" have missed its satirical intent, the sponsor said Thursday.

State Rep. Steve Holland, a populist Democrat known for over-the-top gestures, said he was tickled that his provocation had rocketed across the Internet.

Holland says the measure is meant to mock other bills that would crack down on illegal immigration. At least six such bills have already been assigned for committee consideration in the state's current legislative session, and more could be on the way.

"It seems the people of Mississippi have elected a majority group to govern that wants to slam all minorities and especially Hispanic," Holland said, adding that he thought such legislation is un-Christian.

...Holland's current House Bill 150 manages to avoid even saying the word Mexico. It refers to "the body of water located directly south of Hancock, Harrison and Jackson counties," saying it will be renamed as the Gulf of America for "official purposes within the state of Mississippi."

The longtime legislator is known for his sense of humor. Holland is a funeral director, and his funeral home gives out insulated beverage sleeves that say "We'll be the last to let you down."

...Many websites and commenters took the bill at face value, slamming Holland as a stereotypical Mississippi bigot.

...Cafe Con Leche Republicans, a Minnesota-based group that promotes a pro-immigrant and pro-Hispanic stance within the Republican Party called on Holland to withdraw the bill. The group suggests renaming the Mississippi River as the Lincoln River so it wouldn't share a name "with a state that wants to rewrite maps out of disdain for Mexicans."

"Apparently you don't take your responsibilities seriously," wrote Bob Quasius, president of the GOP group. "Surely the State of Mississippi has more pressing matters to attend to than this. Did you stop to think of the expense of rewriting textbooks or changing maps?"

When reached by The Associated Press, Quasius said that even if the bill was meant as a joke, Holland should still withdraw it and apologize, saying Holland was wasting taxpayers' money. "It's in rather poor taste and we don't pay legislators to make jokes."

Quasius said race, immigration and ethnicity were issues too sensitive for satire.

"It's not the time and place for satire," Quasius said. "A leader should be sensitive and in tune with how a proposal they make will be taken."

Comedian and satirist Stephen Colbert joked on his show in 2010, during the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, that the body of water should be renamed as the Gulf of America.

"I don't think we can call it the Gulf of Mexico anymore," Colbert said in announcing a charitable fund to help people affected by the spill. "We broke it, we bought it."


Obama punks the Bishops. Now, what will the result be?:
After two solid weeks of Republicans rapidly escalating attacks on contraception access under the banner of "religous freedom," Obama finally announced what the White House is proposing an accomodation of religiously affiliated employers who don't want to offer birth control coverage as part of their insurance plans. In those situations, the insurance companies will have to reach out directly to employees and offer contraception coverage for free, without going through the employer.

...The fun part of this is that Obama just pulled a fast one on Republicans. He drew this out for two weeks, letting Republicans work themselves into a frenzy of anti-contraception rhetoric, all thinly disguised as concern for religious liberty, and then created a compromise that addressed their purported concerns but without actually reducing women's access to contraception, which is what this has always been about. ... With the fig leaf of religious liberty removed, Republicans are in a bad situation. They can either drop this and slink away knowing they've been punked, or they can double down. But in order to do so, they'll have to be more blatantly anti-contraception, a politically toxic move in a country where 99% of women have used contraception.

...Obama needs young female voters to turn out at the polls in November, and hijacking two weeks of the news cycle to send the message that he's going to get you your birth control for free is a big win for him in that department. I expect to see some ads in the fall showing Romney saying hostile things about contraception and health care reform, with the message that free birth control is going away if he's elected. It's all so perfect that I'm inclined to think this was Obama's plan all along.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Ned Roscoe Sentenced

Left: Ned Roscoe

Sigh. Ned Roscoe, one of the most-effective of the 135 candidates who ran in the 2003 California Gubernatorial Recall Election, has been sentenced to federal prison:

The former owner of Cigarettes Cheaper!, a man with long-standing Napa ties, was sentenced Wednesday in a San Jose federal courtroom to five years in federal prison for multiple counts of bank fraud, according to the U.S. District Attorney’s Office.

...Roscoe, who lives in the Twin Sisters area on the border between Napa and Solano counties, was found guilty on Feb. 22, 2011 after a month-long trial of conspiracy to:
• commit bank fraud and make a false statement to the bank
• 13 counts of bank fraud
• 14 counts of making a false statement to the bank, court documents show.

The fraud occurred while Roscoe, 51, was an owner of Cigarettes Cheaper!, a Benicia-based cigarette chain that at one time had 800 stores and brought as much as $1 billion in annual revenues. Authorities indicted Ned Roscoe and his father, John Roscoe, in 2007.

The elder Roscoe pleaded in January 2011 to one count of conspiracy to make false statements to a bank. On Wednesday, John Roscoe was sentenced to 12 months of home confinement with electronic monitoring followed by five years of supervised released, the U.S. district attorney’s office said.

In court documents, federal prosecutors had recommended a 14-year prison term for Ned Roscoe, saying he led a complicated scheme to defraud — and did defraud — Comerica Bank. In the end, the bank’s losses because of the fraud, interests included, totaled $27 million, the prosecutors said.

But Roscoe’s attorney, Vicki Young, of Palo Alto, argued that the actual loss was $370,000 and that Cigarettes Cheaper! was making regular payments on the interest due.

“There is no evidence that the Roscoes, and Ned Roscoe in particular, intended that the bank suffer any loss,” Young said.

“Ned Roscoe was not in any sense the ‘kingpin’ of a criminal conspiracy,” Young also wrote in briefs. “The case involves businessmen trying to keep the failing business going. The bank officer and Cigarettes Cheaper! employees testified that there was constant tension between the company and the bank about the strict and increasingly stringent definitions of eligible inventory required by the bank,” Young said.

After her client was convicted in 2011, Young said she believed the matter should have been a civil matter between Comerica Bank and Cigarettes Cheaper! “While mistakes may have been made, we disagree that it warranted criminal prosecution,” she said in an email in February 2011.
I was one of the folks who wrote a letter in support of Ned Roscoe: a letter that might be able to describe either his “history and characteristics,” or his “nature and circumstances” during the period from August through November, 2003, the period of time when he had been accused of committing crimes (and when he was also running for Governor). Here are excerpts from what I wrote Judge Whyte:
Ned Roscoe and I were among 135 candidates who chose to run in the 2003 California Gubernatorial Recall Election campaign. I did not meet Ned Roscoe until August 30, 2003, so I can’t shed light on his history prior to that time, but because I blog zealously I have records that can help illuminate his characteristics, nature, and circumstances from August through November, 2003. I encountered Ned Roscoe on several occasions during this period, and had frequent contact with him via E-Mail.

Of the large number of candidates running, roughly a third could be described as sensation-seekers of one sort or another; another third were single-issue candidates. The last third were engaged, capable, well-rounded citizens. Ned Roscoe was one of the leaders of this last group of candidates.

The large majority of candidates were not well known, and not endorsed by any party. As a result, local and national media wrote off the large majority, and focused on just a few well-known candidates. Scorned by the media, the alternative candidates banded together to create what became known as the Candidates’ Forum. By banding together we could attract media attention that we could not attract individually. But it also meant we had to downplay our ideological differences in order to work towards our common goal of media exposure. Ned Roscoe facilitated this cooperation.

I always found Ned to be affable and thoughtful. In many ways, he was among the most-capable of the alternative candidates running. In candidate circles, Ned Roscoe took a leadership role, and helped direct their energies. By my assessment, of the alternative candidates running (perhaps 126 of the 135 candidates), Ned Roscoe was probably the third most-influential (behind only Cheryl Bly-Chester and Jon Zellhoefer). Ned achieved his leading role among this particularly headstrong group of people through persuasion and sound arguments (money wasn’t an issue, since most of us had pledged to abide by a minimal $5,000.00 campaign spending limit). While we are not ideologically-compatible (Ned is a Libertarian; I am a liberal Democrat), we are certainly compatible by temperament.

...The first place a large number of gubernatorial candidates met was at Alameda, CA, at the USS Hornet aircraft-carrier maritime museum, on August 30, 2003. That was the first place I met Ned Roscoe. The candidates, while often partisan, freely-discussed even the most radical of political opinions at this meeting, held in a sort of battle-room within the aircraft carrier. The mood of the meeting felt more like a nascent constitutional convention than anything else. Ned Roscoe was very excited, and offered to be the secretary of the Candidates’ Forum.

Libertarian Candidate Roscoe had several hobbyhorses during his campaign; principally moving the U.S. to a sensible drug policy, and implementing a state grand jury process.

...Monday September 22nd, 2003 was an eventful day for all of us, as 90 or so California gubernatorial candidates gathered at NBC’s Burbank television studios for Jay Leno’s Recall Candidate Night.

...After the exciting evening on national TV (featuring the percussionists “Blue Man Group,” and actor Robert Downey, Jr.) there was time for some final photos and good wishes outside NBC’s studios. Ned Roscoe drove by, leaned out his window, and shouted 'Marc Valdez for Governor!’ It was hard not to smile at Roscoe’s genial support for one of his rivals!

...On September 27th, another meeting of the Candidates’ Forum was held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in downtown Sacramento. Ned Roscoe promoted a run from the Tower Bridge over the Sacramento River to the State Capitol at 9:30 a.m.

...At this meeting, Ned Roscoe promoted a new idea: dogging Arnold Schwarzenegger’s bus tour from San Diego to Sacramento with a school bus tour of our own. It was a brilliant idea, with lots of potential for press coverage, and was quickly adopted by the rest of the group. Ned Roscoe quickly became majordomo of the effort.

Roscoe was very careful in claiming credit for his idea of pursuing Arnold’s bus caravan as it made its way to Sacramento. Indeed, he never claimed the idea as his own at all: he ascribed the idea to “the people in the crazy idea department.” But as far as I could tell, there was really only one person in the Candidates’ Forum “crazy idea department,” and that person was Ned.

...On Election Day, Tuesday, October 7th, 2003, a euphoric Roscoe issued a press release:
Victory! Roscoe an Early Winner!

…Roscoe says “I already feel like a winner. I went out to represent citizens at the bleeding edge of California’s tax abuse, the smokers, carrying the sensible ideas of California’s Libertarian Party. I had a ton of fun doing it.“ Roscoe organized the Candidate Coalition Bus to tour California last week. He danced with the Blue Man Group on the Tonight show. He spoke with 100 of the recall candidates and had close to 3,000 people tell him what they wanted from a governor: “Less.“
Ned Roscoe placed 34th in the balloting, with 2,248 votes (I placed 41st, with 1,837 votes).

...My last regular contact with Ned Roscoe was on June 16th, 2004, when he E-Mailed a few thoughts:
I enjoy the pageantry of democracy. Relatively rational people get seized with delusions of grandeur. When the system works well, money and power gravitate towards two poles which may not be very far from each other. The two camps bid for marginal positions without alienating their core supporters. It’s a great game, but I don’t have to play it.

America is stable and prosperous enough that we can take it for granted that election results will be accepted peacefully by almost everyone. We can argue about how decisions are made in Napa, California and the United States, but we know that elections play a smaller part than ballyhooed by editorial writers. As long as government has such tremendous power, the money will find a path to the power.

Duty to God, family, friends, employers, neighbors, regulators, and tax collectors keep me pretty darn busy. People ask me to register to vote and then to vote their way. I wish they’d get their priorities straight. I might vote Libertarian, because I like those people. They need every vote they can get to maintain their position as the 3rd largest political party. And, touch screen voting is fun like a cheap version of Vegas. But first, I ought to donate blood.
Concluding Thoughts

Ned Roscoe’s E-Mail to me soliciting a letter to the federal judge asked that I address two questions:

1) What would be good for society, in your view, if and when I am sentenced; and,
2) What would happen if the judge took your advice?

Referring to the ills of society, I’ve always thought of people like Ned Roscoe as more a part of the solution and not the problem. As I’ve illustrated above, during the period of August through October 2003, Ned Roscoe was fully-engaged in creative efforts to advance the candidacies of all the alternative candidates for California Governor, and not just his own candidacy. He approached the job with winning self-deprecation and humor, and was very careful in not claiming too much credit for ideas (like the bus pursuit) that he could proudly take full credit for. His comparative wealth alone could have elevated his standing amongst the other candidates, but Ned Roscoe never put that wealth on display. Instead, he was interested in political debate, and the power of ideas, and was available for discussions with just about anyone. And Ned Roscoe could keep his perspective too, urging the importance of donating blood to the community as opposed to seeking power for its own merits. Under different circumstances, perhaps Ned Roscoe should have been California’s Governor.

Indeed, I am a bit puzzled that Ned Roscoe may have had any free time left over for committing crimes, or any other activities, during this period. I do know that the rest of us were seriously overcommitted and overbooked from the beginning of August through the middle of October, 2003. I’m sure the same had to have been true for Ned Roscoe. Whatever crimes may have been committed, they were crimes that could not have demanded much time.

My understanding of the charges against Ned Roscoe is extremely-limited, but it sounds like the action of exaggerating the size and value of business inventory for the purpose of securing loans is just a larger version of the real estate bubble occurring about the same time, whereby homes and properties were overvalued for the same reasons. The many, many malefactors in the real estate bubble were not imprisoned. Is it appropriate to deprive Ned Roscoe of liberty for doing much the same? Depriving him of ill-gained wealth (plus a penalty) seems a more-appropriate response to me. Society would be poorly-served by consigning creative folks like Ned Roscoe to prison, and the deterrent value of a penalty would suffice to protect the interests of society.

As I’ve indicated, politically I am oriented differently than Ned Roscoe, and might be expected to urge a hard line towards his punishment. Nevertheless, I see no merit in doing so. A more-merciful approach is better for everyone.

It Comes From Colbert And It's Supposed To Be Satire, You Nimrods!

Geographic wonders never cease:
A lawmaker in Mississippi is pushing to change the name of “the body of water located directly south” of the state, the Gulf of Mexico, to the “Gulf of America.”

State Rep. Steve Holland (D) has introduced HB 150, which says that “for all official purposes within the state of Mississippi, the body of water located directly south of Hancock, Harrison and Jackson counties shall be known as the ‘Gulf Of America’; and for related purposes.”

Night Of The Raccoon

Returning from the DMTC Board meeting last night, I went upstairs to the kitchen and got a banana. I went back downstairs, located Bailey the Rabbit, who was carefully hidden under some latticework in the corner of the back yard, and gave him a piece of the banana. Then, I went back upstairs and commenced the sort of aimless meandering that usually constitutes my hours at home.

About fifteen minutes later, I heard a loud growl outside the back door. The roar sounded a like a lion on the Serengeti Plains. I said to myself "Oh My God, a dog somehow got into the back yard and attacked Bailey!" I ran out the back door half expecting to find Cujo, with Bailey dangling from his jaws. Instead, I saw a large, hairy mammal clamber from the back fence onto a tree trunk, and rapidly climb upwards.

A raccoon! They're back! (It's been several years since I've seen one in the back yard, though). I ran back inside and grabbed a flashlight. I ran back outside and shone the light up the tree. The raccoon stared back down, it's eyes glowing satanically in the light.

Where's Bailey? The raccoon didn't seem to have him in the tree. The raccoon didn't drop his body into the yard next door. Bailey was absent from the place he had been hiding just a few minutes ago. I rapidly scanned the yard and the garage looking for a trace of the peripatetic rabbit.

After a second pass, I finally found Bailey huddling nervously under a wheelbarrow in the garage. I worried about Bailey possibly getting cornered in the garage, so I opened the basement door, in order to also give Bailey the labyrinth of boxes in the basement to hide, if necessary.

There is no door between the garage and the back yard - just a doorway fitted with a short rabbit gate - so I closed the rabbit gate and improvised a cardboard barrier to seal off the doorway. The purpose of the cardboard wasn't to make an impregnable seal, but rather to complicate the raccoon's efforts to get Bailey, if that's who he was after. The system wasn't foolproof: there is an empty window frame in the shed attached to the garage, so a clever and knowledgeable raccoon could still get entry into the garage, just like the neighbor's cats do. But sleeping fitfully just above the garage, I'd be able to hear the racket as the raccoon bumbled into shed, or crashed into the garage. I'd have time to run downstairs, and take action.

I wonder why the raccoon growled? To menace Bailey as he fled, or for some other reason? Raccoons like to travel in small groups, so I worried there might be other, unknown raccoons nearby that the raccoon was growling at.

The last several nights, I've awakened in the middle of the night to loud noises that, in the alert silence that followed, I couldn't attribute to anything. I had decided that I must have been dreaming about the loud noises. But maybe the noises were real, and derived from marauding raccoons.

In the morning's light, I removed the cardboard barrier. Leaving for work, I found Bailey in the basement's labyrinth, where he seemed to be at ease. I left him there, and hoped that raccoons didn't also hunt by daylight.

A Long Night Ahead

I've got a predatory raccoon in the tree in the back yard, a frightened rabbit in the garage, and many hours till sunrise.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Paul Loeb "Watcha Wanna Do (feat. Kelsey B)"

This is clever remix: combining Eric Redd's video with Kelsey's song.

Oddest Trough Over Europe

Wei was the first one who pointed out the European cold wave to me, last week:
W.: The Chinese media says it's cold in Europe.

M.: (looking at model output) Hmmm. These temperatures look OK to me!
But what do I know? I'm not trying to survive under snow drifts in the Balkan mountains, or anything....

Apparently it's a terrible time in Europe, and some people are blaming a breakdown in the Arctic Oscillation (AO), which heretofore has been protecting Europe from the cold. Some people have been blaming the AO for California's dry weather. I hope they're right, and that AO has suffered a terrible accident.

But whatever is going on in Europe, it's left a very-odd-looking trough over the continent.

Casting Call In San Francisco On Sunday

J.: The AGT people said I'm too exposed on YouTube. I need a new identity. What's a good first name for me? I like Alice.

M.: How about Dorothy?

J.: That's awful! Too ordinary!

M.: Jane? Dana? Valerie? Betty?

J.: No, no, no!

M.: Sophia?

J.: Better.

M.: How about something Roman? How about Agrippa?

J.: No.

M.: (Maybe just as well: Agrippa is male; Agrippina is female.)

J.: How about Greek?

M.: Persephone? Demeter?

J.: No.

M.: Venus?

J.: Perfect!

Is The GOP Really Ready To Go After Contraception?

I hope the answer is yes. Maybe the Komen fight is just the beginning of a massive hemorrhage of support from the GOP. This business of religious freedom and payments for contraception can probably be settled with a suitable compromise - render under Caesar only that which is Caesar's - but it might provoke an overreaction from the anti-contraceptive right wing:
“For the last number of years, we in the pro-choice community in general — and we specifically as Republicans — have been saying as this pandering to a sort of social conservative faction of voters continues, you’re going to see the line pushed further and further and further,” she said. “And we’re now crossing the line from discussion of when we should regulate abortion to when we should now regulate legal doctor-prescribed medications like birth control, which is woven in the fabric of society as an acceptable medication.”

Nicki Minaj's New Video

More On Albuquerque Slang

Michelle S. shared this on Facebook.

You start with your basic Northern New Mexico accent, and add a patina of urban sophistication for living in the ABQ (half of whose residents also hail from EspaƱola, or Taos, or Las Vegas, or Santa Fe) and this is what you get.

Here Lynette explores an Albuquerque corn maze.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Trying To Get All The Little Romneys To Stand In A Row

(h/t John)

Nobody Here But The Spiders

He just disappeared, and the neighbors were none-the-wiser:
The body of a man was recently discovered in his Milwaukee, Wisconsin home some four years after he killed himself, according to local media.

David Carter reportedly used a 9mm Smith & Wesson handgun to shoot himself in the head some four years ago, shortly after quitting his job and telling neighbors that he was moving to New Mexico. That was in 2007.

His body was discovered on January 23, 2011 — which would have been Carter’s 45th birthday. A real estate worker from the local government had stopped by after the property was foreclosed upon and awarded to the county, according to The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Komen's Sucky Board

Too many Board members run in the same, small circles:
But my point isn't about who's a Republican and who's a Democrat. The point is that Komen is a giant grant-making operation (nearly $2 billion since 1982) that purports to represent all of womanhood and it's being run as if it were still a small family foundation. Brinker and son, Custard, and O'Neill all run in the same circles, sit on the same boards, send their kids to the same elite schools. Komen's board makes a nod to race (both Lauderback and Leffal are African-American), a nod to medicine, and a nod to someone with pull in DNC circles, but the core is a group of rich, Texan, conservative friends.

...New insight might also help the board to grok that if they want to maintain a fig leaf of impartiality in the abortion debate and they bring on Jane Abraham—head of the Susan B. Anthony List; the most powerful pro-life funding group around—to their "advocacy alliance" board, they'd better enlist someone like Stephanie Schriock of pro-choice group Emily's List as a countermeasure. And a board more savvy to opinions outside of Highland Park might persuade Brinker she should sit back on her Neiman Marcus/Chili's fortune and not pay herself $417,000 a year plus board-approved first-class travel from the donations of jogging bald ladies and their family members.

Light Rain Is Better Than No Rain

About 0.25", so far. But we need more, of course.

Karl Rove Throws Hissy Fit Regarding Clint Eastwood Being In Chrysler's Super Bowl Ad

Matthew Yglesias notes that Karl Rove is upset with Clint Eastwood:

Apparently Clint Eastwood is personally upset that some people took Chrysler's "halftime in America" to be a positive commentary on the Obama administration.

This seems totally untenable to me. Whether Eastwood or Chrysler executives like to talk about it, the company—currently enjoying double-digit sales growth—would not currently exist today if not for the Obama administration.

...I had concerns about the Obama approach at the time (concerns that I haven't really dropped) that automobile-oriented industrial policy has not really served America well for the past several decades and that he was squandering a non-replicable opportunity to get us off that path. But whether you like what he did or not, there's no denying its impact. The automobile industry of the upper Midwest is still with us specifically because Team Obama chose to ensure that it would remain there.

It's not that hard to understand, actually.

Since the GOP's center-of-gravity is now in the South, welcoming host of foreign auto manufacturers - Mercedes, Honda, Hyundai, etc. - it's no longer in the interest of the GOP to support Detroit at all. At all! The hell with all that Michigan dead weight!

It's a big, big change from the sentimental days of 'buy American'. But it's not in the interest of the GOP to highlight that change, which makes me wonder why Rove is so publicly upset. Probably just another case of bitch-slapping the Hollywood types, to keep them in line.

RIP, Pauline Wittert

Alas, time moves on, and distant relatives become even more distant.

I received word from Robert Wittert regarding the passing of his mother Pauline:
Dear Mr Valdez,
I am Robert, Pauline's youngest son. I was able to find you through a search after seeing the return address on the holiday card you has sent my mother.
Unfortunately my mother has passed away on 2-1-12, and our family wanted you to be aware of this. We will be holding a memorial service for her in the Chicago area on 3-3-12. If you would like to attend we would be honored to have you there and can provide the details.
I am sorry to break this news to you this way as I didn't have a phone # for you and felt you would have wanted to know.
Robert Wittert
Dear Robert:

Thank you for informing me about Pauline’s passing. My condolences to you and your family.

Every few years I make sporadic genealogical efforts. Pauline was a distant cousin - my Aunt Jean’s first daughter - which makes you a distant cousin as well (my mother was Marjorie Buzzell – the youngest of her family).

Pauline was a sweet heart, so I made sure to send a Christmas card every year.

I met your parents, Phil and Pauline, just once, at a memorial service in Mesa, AZ, for my uncle Marcus Buzzell, on April 9, 2006. I have a few photos of that trip at the bottom of this page.

I won’t be able to attend Pauline’s memorial service on March 3rd (I have a theatrical commitment – I’m stage manager on the date for ‘Damn Yankees’ at Davis Musical Theatre Company). That will be a nice celebration of her life, I’m sure!

I will make a mention of her passing on my blog, in order to alert my sisters, and others who might have known her.

Thank you, once again, and the best to your family!

Marc Valdez

Monday, February 06, 2012

Ari Fleischer Tries To Distance Himself

You know it's bad situation when Ari Fleischer doesn't want his name associated with it:
With it being reported that Fleischer "secretly helped guide Komen Foundation's disastrous strategy regarding Planned Parenthood," Fleischer is now admitting he "gave some advice," but ...
“They ask me stuff, they say, `What do you think about this statement, about that statement,’" Fleischer told me. “And I give them my thoughts. But obviously somebody else was leading their PR efforts. It certainly wasn’t me.”

My Kind Of Congressman

The sort who doesn't know about The Onion:

Dino Grandoni at The Atlantic reports that "pro-life" [Louisiana] Rep. Fleming M.D. posted a story from The Onion on his Facebook page, offering it as proof that Planned Parenthood offers "abortion by the wholesale."

The satirical story from May 2011 "reported":

Planned Parenthood announced Tuesday the grand opening of its long-planned $8 billion Abortionplex, a sprawling abortion facility that will allow the organization to terminate unborn lives with an efficiency never before thought possible. [...]

The 900,000-square-foot facility has more than 2,000 rooms dedicated to the abortion procedure. The abundance of surgical space, Richards said, will ensure that women visiting the facility can be quickly fitted into stirrups without pausing to second-guess their decision or consider alternatives such as adoption. Hundreds of on-site counselors are also available to meet with clients free of charge and go over the many ways that carrying a child to term will burden them and very likely ruin their lives.

The remaining space is dedicated to amenities such as coffee shops, bars, dozens of restaurants and retail outlets, a three-story nightclub, and a 10-screen multiplex theater—features intended not only to help clients relax, but to foster a sense of community and make abortion more of a social event.

New Mexico Hippies Finally Getting Their Historical Due

In its most recent issue (Vol. 87, No. 1, Winter 2012), the New Mexico Historical Review has two - count them, two! - articles on hippies: "New Mexico's New Communal Settlers" by Timothy Miller, and "From Innocence To Experience: Irwin B. Klein And The 'New Settlers Of Northern New Mexico'".

The first article is helpful mostly because it lists the communes of Northern New Mexico, where they were, who founded them, and what happened to them over the years. The second article features lots of photos of hippies cutting firewood, picking fruit (in El Rito!), and the like.

It's about time! For their surprisingly-small numbers, hippies sure made a big cultural dent in the state. It was because they were so flamboyant in a place that rarely saw such behavior. I remember our first encounters with them: how fearful people were of them at first, and yet how nostalgic people were for them later, when they seemed to disappear.

Growing up as a kid in New Mexico, it seemed like hippies erupted out of nowhere in the late Sixties (specifically, from that obscure land called Northern California), yet I remember also running across a Life Magazine article from the 1940's featuring an interview with a person who was clearly a hippy way back then (and who lived in a coastal town in Northern California). So, hippies had already existed in obscurity in small numbers for a long time, but 'went viral' when conditions were right in the Sixties.

I remember when my dad picked up an 18-year-old woman hitchhiker: very pregnant and clearly countercultural, and how exotic that all seemed. And of course, when the latter-day Buddhist hippies moved in next door in 1972, and profited handsomely when the Indian jewelry market boomed. Skinnydipping and nam myoho renge kyo: those were the days!

But by the late Seventies, hippies had faded from view again. I overheard a rocking-chair conversation about hippies between my grandmother (G) and my dad (D), who both came from a strict, Hispanic Catholic Northern New Mexico upbringing, one blazing hot summer's afternoon in 1978, when we visited her mobile home in Bernalillo:

D: Hippies cause lots of problems.
G: Hippies!
D: Hippies!


G: I saw some hippies at the store last week.
D: Hippies!
G: Hippies!


D: You don't see many hippies these days.
G: I see lots of hippies.
D: Hippies!
G: Hippies!
What I sensed was a yearning for the missing hippies. The earnest, all-purpose scapegoats for society's ills had slipped into obscurity, or had mutated into unrecognizable forms, and yet society seemed just as lost as ever. If you weren't careful with your censoriousness you might end up blaming yourself for society's problems.

But more importantly, the very-conservative Catholic Hispanics of Northern New Mexico had slowly, grudgingly, come to like hippies, and missed them.

Viva Los Hippies!


Flipping channels on the teevee last night, I stumbled across this, Luc Besson's remarkable gem of a movie.

Take the relationship between Clarence and George Bailey from "It's A Wonderful Life" of the 1940's and mix in the advice from self-esteem books of the 1970's and stage it in Paris of the 2000's and you get a wonderful, heartwarming movie!

Flooding In Roma

While I was stressing about the lack of rain in California, the folks in Queensland have been coping with the opposite problem: flooding. (Roma is known as the 'Gateway to the Outback').

Today, ire is directed at those who observe rather than help:
Father of four Blair Humphries ran to help Roma locals Viv White, Ricky Schefe, Adam Finch, Leigh Hadwin and Angus Anderson as they saw mum Jane Sheahan and her son Darcy trying to escape the fast-rising torrent that swept their car off the road in Roma on Friday.

Mr Humphries said there were dozens of men lining the way to the water but none had tried to help.

Some, he said, had even tried to film the desperate situation on their mobile phones instead.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Frontogenesis And The Northern Indiana Snow

Jerry sends this:
Many locations across central portions of the NWS Northern Indiana's County Warning Area (CWA) saw accumulating snowfall on Saturday morning, 2/4/2012. ... This occurred due to the formation of a "banded precipitation structure" underneath a strong jet streak aloft which led to intense frontogenesis as shown in Fig 1.

Dad's Rules Of Grammar

Deborah explains on Facebook:
50 years ago my dad, retired Navy now tech writer for Motorola, got tired of all the engineers' mistakes. So he typed up this set of rules as a guideline and posted it on their bulletin board. The engineers were very amused and asked for copies. That meant carbon copies. I still have the original. Over the years I've given out repeated copies. This is all rather obvious to repeated interpretation but I wanted to share my dad's earlier version for it's elegant simplicity.

Deborah's "Wing It" Poster

Trying A Bit Of Standup Again

About two weeks ago, Jetta and submitted short videos in a casting contest over at Against my better judgement, here are those submissions.

"Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure" - Woodland Opera House

After their death struggle at Reichenbach Falls, Professor Moriarty (Rodger McDonald) and Sherlock Holmes (Simon Hunt) sign autographs.

Great show!: nice costumes, set, acting.


"The Wedding Singer" - Runaway Stage Productions

One minute before Friday evening's show of RSP's "The Wedding Singer" commenced, I received word via Facebook that Chris Neff is engaged to be married. Congratulations! And at such an apropos time!

David "Turtle" Akona, and yours truly.

I was excited when I first heard Turtle was going to be the lead of "The Wedding Singer" (Turtle's first lead role), but also a little bit worried. What would the impact be on the Grey Matter in my skull?

Let me explain.

Feeling invincible and rambunctious at DMTC's Rehearsal Space for his first show with the group ("Carousel", in 2002), Turtle declared he could flip me over his back. We stood back-to-back, and linked arms. Turtle bent forward, and I leaped upwards, and I tried to flip completely over his back, but it didn't work. Because I didn't tuck properly (probably because my beer belly got in the way), I got stranded on his back. Turtle staggered around on the concrete floor, on the verge of toppling and dropping me on my skull, as I waved my legs in the air and tried to provide helpful exit suggestions.

So, whenever I witness Turtle doing something new, I wonder (metaphorically speaking) whether Turtle will drop me on my skull.

I was really pleased how well Turtle did as a lead player. He's experienced and edgy and funny and he sings so well. What a great job!

Jessica Larrick and Samuel Mullins, as Cyndi Lauper and Billy Idol.

The strong performances made the show for me. Jennifer Schmeltzer as Linda was the strongest performer overall, but the others were good as well: Caitland Martin as Julia, Cassie March as Holly, Joseph Boyette as George, and Erik Catalan as Sammy.

Brandon (BJ) Holland as Mr. T.

Gaylene and Erik Catalan

Cassie March

At The Event Horizon Of The Show-Biz Galaxy

Just a simple Italian girl from NYC.

I Think The Expression Is "I Can't Get Peace Of Mind"

E., describing her frustrations with bureaucracy:
I can't get a piece of my mind.

Swedish Sheepherding Rabbit

This is hilarious!

I've noticed that rabbits have a real strong sense of what is proper for a rabbit and what isn't, and they apply these rules universally. Rabbits grow exasperated with dogs and cats, and people too, because they run roughshod over rabbit rules. These creatures don't even realize that there are rules, or that the rabbit is the boss. Dogs, in particular, seem utterly oblivious to the rules. So, what is a rabbit to do? Here, the Swedish rabbit is in heaven, because it is in a position to give orders to the sheep, and the sheep obey.