Friday, March 30, 2012

RIP, Debra Knowlton

Steve sends an E-Mail regarding Debra Knowlton, who starred in DMTC shows, principally in the early 90's:

Not sure if I told you, but she unfortunately passed away March 17th of cancer. Her family donated all her costumes to us and said it was ok to post this on your blog. She was born Aug 20, 1953...include her shows in the post.


(exactly one year older than me to the minute...freaky)

Personal Responsibility

John shared this on Facebook.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Take Up The Slack

Image by Fraser at B3ta.

The Hunger Games Ultimate Hope Trailer

Haven't seen this yet, but looking forward to it!

"Weird Al" Yankovic: Albuquerque

Jim Baker Was On 'Charlie Rose' Last Night

And the former Secretary of State was full of dire warnings about the U.S. becoming like Greece, because the debt was 100% of GDP.

Unspoken, but presumed, was that he was talking about federal debt. But he wasn't! His numbers are wrong too!

We have a debt problem in this country, but most of it isn't the federal government. Most of that debt is private. And maybe it will destroy us, but it won't be the federal government to blame.

Look at that financial sector! Jeesh! All those mortgage securities, and other instruments!

Moving Up!

Woo hoo! Now we are now 58% of normal precipitation for the season here in Sacramento (before the recent storm we were at 52%). Let's shoot for 70% this weekend!

Hot Water Heater Replacement In Order

T. shared this picture on Facebook yesterday. Story of my life!

A new home repair has reared its ugly head. The hot water heater needs repair. Like, now! It's leaking!

Because I bailed Joe The Plumber out of the jam he was left in last month when his wallet, keys, phone, etc., were stolen, I've essentially pre-paid for his services. All I have to buy is supplies. I just hope Joe The Plumber can, you know, plumb!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Sharing Via Facebook

I think I share too much of my personal life on this blog sometimes. Then again, maybe not as much as some do. Last night, one of my Facebook friends posted about being in the middle of sex. His partner 'liked' the post. Facebook gives the illusion that posts disappear in a day, or so, but you just know they'll outlast the Pyramids. How does all that appear given time?

Ballet In Slow Motion

Kate passed this on today. Just awesome! Radiohead's "Everything in Its Right Place" is the excellent music too. More evidence (as if more is required) that Ballet is the best art form ever conceived by the human race!

Freeway Battle In ABQ

Aha! An outside agitator (from Colorado)! Well, who does he think he is? In New Mexico, only New Mexicans are permitted to drive like maniacs! And against someone driving a Saturn? I drive a Saturn! Saturn drivers unite!:
ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - A crash attributed to a road-rage incident shut down northbound Interstate 25 near Rio Bravo Boulevard for nearly three hours today.

The crash occurred about 11:15 a.m. just north of the Rio Bravo on-ramp to I-25 and closed the lanes until about 2 p.m.

...The driver of a Silver Saturn told police the driver of a truck pulling a 31-foot travel trailer became enraged when the Saturn passed him as I-25 squeezed into a one-lane construction zone south of Rio Bravo.

From there the truck driver is alleged to have ridden the Saturn's bumper until he hit the car and sent it into a guardrail north of Rio Bravo.

At the same time the truck and trailer rolled over blocking all three traffic lanes. Water from a septic system also apparently spilled, and officers were initially concerned about propane tanks attached to the trailer.

Witnesses told investigating officers the truck driver seemed to be trying to kill the Saturn driver by driving aggressively and making had gestures before the crash.

The truck driver, Michael Waltenburg, about 64, was charged with aggravated battery with a deadly weapon (motor vehicle).

A Bit Embarrassed By The Left Today

Politics reared its head today. Pleas have been entered for two cousins who apparently started the absolutely-ginormous Wallow Fire last summer.
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) - Two cousins charged with accidentally causing the largest wildfire in Arizona history have pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges after reaching an agreement with prosecutors.

Caleb Malboeuf and David Malboeuf each face up to a year in jail and a $10,000 fine after entering pleas Tuesday in federal magistrate court.
Today, Daily Kos remembered John McCain's comments last summer about illegals setting fires, and mocked him:
John McCain's Mexican arsonists turned out to be not-so-Mexican
I replied (in Daily Kos comments):
I think John McCain's comments may have been directed at the Monument fire, which was burning at the border in June, 2011, and not the Wallow or the Horseshoe 2 fires, which weren't. McCain deliberately stepped into the border controversies with his 'inflammatory' comments, so boo on him, but that's not say there aren't fire dangers created by illegals (among others, like militiamen) who set fires and light cigarettes in tinder-dry landscapes.
Ah, well! You know politics! Never fail to club your opponent, whether for reasons justified, or off-point, or not even related.

But frankly I'm surprised they caught anyone for starting the Wallow fire. How do you try to get justice for something like that?

Bush At The Mall

I don't know about George W. Bush, but I sure do like Ms. Pac-Man!:
Every weekday at noon inside a North Dallas shopping mall, the 43rd president of the United States sits down at his usual table in the food court with two plates of magic fries, a jumbo Mello Yellow and a grande chimichanga with extra queso. “When he first started showin’ up at the mall, people would always come over and ask for his autograph or whatever,” said Daryl Vanderveen, a 19-year-old cashier at Sbarro Pizza. “But now that he’s here so much nobody even looks up from their lunch.”

Sources interviewed for this article said that Mr. Bush spends at least eight hours of each day at the Preston Hollow Shopping Center, a popular retail destination near his home in suburban Dallas. “Other than that chimichanga lunch he doesn’t really have a set routine,” said one source. “Sometimes he’ll hang around Lenscrafters trying on glasses or head over to Abercrombie & Fitch and watch the girls fold pants. Last week I saw him inside Pottery Barn sleeping in a leather recliner.”

...When the president left office nearly three years ago, it was announced that he would establish a “Freedom Institute” and work full-time toward promoting democracy and human rights throughout the world. But some close friends and former advisors admit privately that Mr. Bush has not made progress on either front. “He told me he was going to dedicate the rest of his life to confronting tyranny,” said one prominent GOP fundraiser. “I’m not sure how you do that by hanging around the mall challenging strangers to games of Ms. Pac-Man.”

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Getting My Bearings In The Material Universe

According to the Internet, it should be raining, so I went outside, and sure enough, it is!

Rich Men, And Their Hobbies

More dubious polls:
Los Angeles has a new, um, distinction.

It’s the No. 5 city in the world for sugar daddies – wealthy older men seeking “mutally beneficial relationships” with younger women, according to a poll released Tuesday by, a matchmaking website for the rich and randy.

And Los Angeles is No. 1 in the amount of money that sugar daddies lavish on their “sugar babies.” The average Angeleno shells out a generous $5,710 a month on his inamorata – or “sugar addiction,” as it’s known on

According to the survey, 2.31 of every 1,000 men in Los Angeles is a sugar daddy, sporting an average income of $313,536 and a net worth topping $8 million.

San Francisco is the No. 1 sugar daddy city, with 3.51 of every 1,000 men laying claim to that status, according to, which says there are hundreds of thousands of active sugar daddies worldwide.

GOP Campaign, So Far

Old-Timey Cigarette Ads

I wonder if Ned carried any of these?

Napa Valley Register's City Editor Gives His Thoughts About Ned Roscoe's Troubles

Kevin Courtney gives his thoughts on Ned's upcoming prison sentence (reprinted in full):
A friend goes to prison

In all the years I’ve been in journalism, I’ve never personally known a person who went to prison. This has given me the freedom to think the worst of such miscreants.

Of course they committed the crime. Of course they deserved to be locked up. Hurrah for the criminal justice system.

Only now there’s a twist. A friend of mine, Ned Roscoe, is going to the federal slammer.

When I first met Ned at a church social function nearly a dozen years ago, he was already notorious. His family owned the Cigarettes Cheaper! chain. Yes, Ned, an avowed non-smoker, was a high-volume tobacco merchant.

Worse yet, a libertarian tobacco merchant. For years, Cheaper! stores had assaulted customers with libertarian screeds printed on their shopping bags.

Ned Roscoe in the flesh did not come with an exclamation point. He was soft-spoken, impish, given to conversational flights of fancy that I found fascinating.

When Ned ran for governor of California in 2003 (this sounds improbable, but improbable is what you get with Ned), I spent a day as a reporter covering him on the campaign trail. We drove from one Cheaper! to another with Ned talking the whole time about public policy, classic literature and sundry musings.

Ned did not become governor — Arnold Schwarzenegger did — but our relationship evolved. We’d talk at least monthly after Sunday service.

About 10 years ago, the Cheaper! stores, of which Napa had two, disappeared overnight. Later, from news reports, I learned that the discount chain — 805 stores in 26 states —had financially imploded. Poof. They were all gone.

About the same time, Cheaper! was losing an expensive legal battle against the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. The ciggie behemoth crushed the discount vender.

I caught only bits and pieces in our Sunday sidewalk chats. Bad things were happening to Ned, but he remained outwardly unflappable, the devout father and family man.

Then came the federal indictment, followed last year by a guilty verdict of jaw-dropping proportion: 13 counts of bank fraud, 14 counts of false statements to a bank, one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud.

What the hell, Ned?

Ned knew what everyone in Napa was asking: Did you do it?

Just what was the “it”? Ned was found guilty of signing his name to inflated inventory evaluations that were submitted to a bank that had loaned millions to Cheaper! The effect was to prevent the bank from calling in loans as Cheaper!’s economic problems worsened.

While Ned was losing his home and facing years away from his wife and their three children, he continued to share shards of his life with me and many others. Not with bitterness, but philosophically and with humor.

In early February, Ned was sentenced in federal district court in San Jose to 60 months in prison. Improbably, the next day — the day after Armageddon — he and I went hiking in Tilden Park above Berkeley with a ranger whose forte was pointing out coyote scat.

The highlight of our outing? That was the moment Ned told the ranger he’d just been sentenced to prison. This news stopped the ranger in his tracks.

Ned does not feel guilty. A complex business-bank relationship went bad, but this should have been a civil matter, not criminal, he says. Further, no money was embezzled.

Because of his brash libertarianism and lifelong questioning of authority, Ned thinks forces conspired to finally put him in his place. “Someday you’ll get yours, Ned,” he quotes a childhood friend as saying.

When coming to terms with Ned and his legal smackdown, people split in their assessment of him. “There’s ‘nice Ned,’ but there’s also ‘nefarious Ned,’” he says. The FBI went with “nefarious Ned.”

I believe in nice Ned, the dedicated church volunteer and scoutmaster. The Ned who does Napa River cleanups on Earth Day. The Ned whose commitment to his family is inspirational.

To get ready for prison in May, Ned has read Solzhenitsyn’s “Gulag Archipelago.” While locked up, he plans to study engineering so when he gets out “I can speak with our Chinese overlords.”

This is a classic Ned line. Is he joking? Serious? A little of both?

If he’s a model prisoner, Ned’s 60-month sentence will shrink to 51 months. He’ll be out in August 2016.

I hope to be here to greet him.

The Billion Euro House

Money everywhere, and not a dime to his name:
DUBLIN — As an emblem of the modern Irish condition, Frank Buckley is almost too apt. Dead broke, he lives in a house made of money.

...Mr. Buckley, 50, calls the apartment — built from thousands of bricks of shredded, decommissioned cash (each brick contains, roughly, what used to be 50,000 euros) — the Billion Euro House. He reckons that about 1.4 billion euros actually went into it, but the joke, of course, is that it is worth simultaneously so much and so little.

...The house has lights — a company moved into the office upstairs and let Mr. Buckley tap in to its electric lines — and is surprisingly warm, despite having no heat. Money makes for good insulation, Mr. Buckley said.

He calls himself a hustler, and he seems to have a knack for personal reinvention. In the go-getting 1990s, he worked as a tour manager for musicians. Then he founded a charity — Sport Against Racism Europe — that received an 80,000 euro award from the government. The bottom fell out, the financing dried up and now he is on the dole, living on 188 euros a week — about $250 — in unemployment benefits.

...Living and sleeping amid all this money while having little himself has given Mr. Buckley plenty of time to ponder his, and Ireland’s, predicament.

“I’m one of many, many people,” he said. “I wouldn’t be on the same level as people in business, who owe millions. But the money I owe is the same as owing millions. If you don’t have it, you don’t have it.”

Actually Hoping The Supreme Court Rules The Individual Mandate Unconstitutional

As long as we live in a world where a disproportionately-small number of people require a disproportionately-large amount of health care, the ways that we pay for that health care will be hotly-debated.

I wish we had never done Obama's experiment with private insurance, and had gone whole-hog with Single Payer. It's not that I think the Individual Mandate is really unconstitutional: we have far more draconian mandates in our society (paying income taxes; DUI laws; the draft) that people don't complain about much from the viewpoint of constitutionality. I think it's questionable to require people to purchase insurance, in general, but we do that with auto insurance all the time. Questionable, or not, it makes sense, and protects society, when so much money is at stake. People adjust.

No, by retaining private insurance companies, yet depriving the government the ability to set rates through hard bargaining, we preserve the inefficiency and corrupt essence of the current system. It is best to cut the private insurance companies completely out of the process, make health care delivery efficient, and bring our society into the 21st Century. The individual mandate is the "most Republican" part of the new system - it gives private business a huge, unearned cut, and is the essence of Romneycare - and unfortunately it's the way that complete coverage is enforced in Obamacare.

I caught a brief news story on TV regarding Taiwan's experience. Their health care system was widely viewed as a fiasco: in the mid-90's, 41% of the population had no health care insurance coverage at all. They looked at a number of systems as possible models (rejecting the U.S. as a model of how NOT to do things) and settled on Single Payer. Within a year, all but 8% of the population was covered, and with the government in the position of being able to drive hard bargains with private contractors, health care is far less expensive than it used to be. In a word, success!

We should follow Taiwan's example. As long as we try to preserve exactly those things about the current system that should be eliminated, we will suffer.

So, if the Individual Mandate goes buh-bye, I'm OK with it. Whatever it takes to get to Single Payer Nirvana.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Launching A Paper Airplane In Eloy, AZ

Pretty cool!:
It was dubbed Arturo’s Desert Eagle, after 12-year-old Arturo Valdenegro, on whose model it was based, and was designed and built by Art Thompson, who previously helped design the B-2 stealth bomber. It boasts a 24-foot wingspan and may well be the largest paper airplane ever constructed.

A 15-foot test model was launched successfully in February and on March 21, after some problems with the larger model buckling under its own weight, a reinforced version was released at a height of 2703 feet by a Sikorsky helicopter. It reached speeds of up to 100 mph on its way down before crash landing.

How Rupert Murdoch Competes

Simply put, he cheats:
Part of Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation empire employed computer hacking to undermine the business of its chief TV rival in Britain, according to evidence due to be broadcast by BBC1's Panorama programme on Monday.

...The witnesses allege a software company NDS, owned by News Corp, cracked the smart card codes of rival company ONdigital. ONdigital, owned by the ITV companies Granada and Carlton, eventually went under amid a welter of counterfeiting by pirates, leaving the immensely lucrative pay-TV field clear for Sky.

The allegations, if proved, cast further doubt on whether News Corp meets the "fit and proper" test required to run a broadcaster in Britain.

...Panorama's emails appear to state that ONdigital's secret codes were first cracked by NDS, and then subsequently publicised by the pirate website, called The House of Ill Compute – THOIC for short. According to the programme, the codes were passed to NDS's head of UK security, Ray Adams, a former police officer. NDS made smart cards for Sky. NDS was jointly funded by Sky, which says it never ran NDS.

...He says Adams sent him the ONdigital codes so that other pirates could use them to manufacture thousands of counterfeit smart cards, giving viewers illicit free access to ONdigital, then Sky's chief business rival.

Gibling says he and another NDS employee later destroyed much of the computer evidence with a sledgehammer. After that NDS continued to send him money, he says, until the end of 2008, when he was given a severance payment of £15,000 with a confidentiality clause attached.

...Gibling says that when fellow pirates found out in 2002 that he was being secretly funded by NDS, THOIC was hastily closed down and he was told by Adams's security unit to make himself scarce.

"We sledgehammered all the hard drives." He says he was told to go into hiding abroad.

...In 2002 Canal Plus, which supplied ONdigital with its smart card system, sued NDS in a US Court, alleging that NDS had hacked its codes. But no evidence about a link to ONdigital emerged: the case was dropped following a business deal under which Murdoch agreed to purchase some of Canal Plus's assets.

52% Of Normal Here In Sacramento

Still, need more rain.

In other news, I was struck by this map.

From The European Fringe, The Third Reich Sure Looks Odd

Yglesias posted this Turkish sales pitch for shampoo:
The dialogue: "If you're not wearing women's clothes, you shouldn't be using women's shampoo either. Here it is. A real man's shampoo. Biomen. Real men use Biomen."

On The Edge Here In Sacramento

The Sacramento Valley drought forecast is improving, but with the storm track largely staying to the north, the San Joaquin Valley drought forecast isn't. I liked the storm that came in on Sunday, because it spread itself out over most of the state, so at least everyone got something, but there is no assurance that pattern will continue.

The Terrible Consequences Of Wearing A Hoodie

The Terrible Consequences of wearing a hoodie: If your name is Geraldo Rivera and your Mouth is Big Enough you end up as a commentator on FOX News.

Beyonce- Who Run the World (Girls) by Corina Bianca

I periodically ask myself this important question:
Self, why is it that Awesome Sacramento Dancer Krystle Morales doesn't rule YouTube? She is Awesome, but she's hard to find online. Is life unfair, or what?
It turns out that I wasn't looking hard enough. Here is Krystle (clearly identifiable at 0:18, and again at 4:43, with a trademark Red Rose on her sternum) dancing with her Awesome Crew, ICE Dance Company. I like everything she does, because she is Awesome!

Aztec Sacrifice In Virginia

Complete with eclipse and everything:
Cheney, 71, had surgery Saturday at Inova Fairfax Hospital in Falls Church, Virginia.

He had been on the cardiac transplant list for more than 20 months, a statement from his office said.

"Although the former vice president and his family do not know the identity of the donor, they will be forever grateful for this lifesaving gift," it said.

First Meeting Of West African Music And Dance Workshop

The first of six meetings of Tyehimba's workshop at Step One Dance Studio was held on Saturday afternoon (2:30 - 4:00 p.m.). There's room for more folks: come down if you are available!

Tyehimba started with a kind of multi-media show, trying to compact 400 years of song, legend, and history into an hour and a quarter (with the remaining 15 minutes devoted to the drums). I don't think I could be tested on the material - more a welter of visual impressions than anything else - but one could begin to get a sense of the pastoral folks of West Africa and their traditions.