Friday, August 17, 2012

A Wal-Mart At Montaño & Coors Is A Terrible Idea!

What about the existing one near Coors & I-40? Can't they find another place? Too close to the Rio Grande! (h/t, Michelle S.):
There's another element to this pastoral soundscape: in the distance, the hums and rattles of automobiles. Steps beyond the Bosque—just past the Pueblo Montaño Picnic Area and Trailhead—lies the vacant southeast corner at the major intersection of New Mexico State Road 448 (Coors) and Montaño. The intersection saw 150,200 vehicles per day last year. That's probably why Walmart wants to shove another store into this sensitive location.

Thinkin' 'Bout Food All Day Long

(h/t, Chloe)

I Just Love How The Landing Rockets Blew Away The Local Dust

And I love those water-scoured badlands at the bottom.....

Ernesto/Hector Passes Into The Halls Of Weather Nostalgia

Ernesto/Hector finally died an ignominious death early today:
Some of the moisture it kicked up entered Arizona today, and may yet do so in the days ahead, but for now, it enters the Halls of Weather Nostalgia.

Paul Krugman Versus The Media Chumps

It's crazy that so much media firepower is in the hands of perfect idiots like William Saletan, someone who couldn't pass junior-high level math even if he tried, but God save us, it is!:
Look, Ryan hasn’t “crunched the numbers”; he has just scribbled some stuff down, without checking at all to see if it makes sense. He asserts that he can cut taxes without net loss of revenue by closing unspecified loopholes; he asserts that he can cut discretionary spending to levels not seen since Calvin Coolidge, without saying how; he asserts that he can convert Medicare to a voucher system, with much lower spending than now projected, without even a hint of how this is supposed to work. This is just a fantasy, not a serious policy proposal.

So why does Saletan believe otherwise? Has he crunched the numbers himself? Of course not. What he’s doing – and what the whole Beltway media crowd has done – is to slot Ryan into a role someone is supposed to be playing in their political play, that of the thoughtful, serious conservative wonk. In reality, Ryan is nothing like that; he’s a hard-core conservative, with a voting record as far right as Michelle Bachman’s, who has shown no competence at all on the numbers thing.

What Ryan is good at is exploiting the willful gullibility of the Beltway media, using a soft-focus style to play into their desire to have a conservative wonk they can say nice things about. And apparently the trick still works.

A Kid And His Tarantulas

Teen, spiders break into Breaking Bad

People are touchingly concerned about him:
It's shocking, disturbing and going viral, and the episode's big stars are a young boy and a trio of tarantulas, all of them local.

Chris Webb, 15, is from Rio Rancho and plays a kid riding his bike around the mesa collecting tarantulas in scenes shot south of Santa Fe. He also witnesses some shenanigans involving the stars of the show about a high school chemistry teacher turned methamphetamine kingpin.

...Webb says working with Breaking Bad cast and crew was great.

...What was new for him was acting with a trio of female Chilean rose hair tarantulas named Dierdre, Patty and Pepper.

The spiders were trained by Chris Lim from Clark's Pet Emporium.

Lim says the Breaking Bad directors originally wanted the classic big black tarantulas. But he convinced them to use the Chilean spiders because they are more docile and look more like the types of tarantulas found in New Mexico.

...He also had to get them used to having a big, black camera lens pointed at them.

One of the arachnid actors--Pepper--actually went home with Webb as a gift.

Alternative Ending

So bad....

The GOP Wants MORE Corruption, Not Less!

As long as they are pulling the strings, they don't care:
Until 1913 and the ratification of the 17th Amendment, Americans didn’t actually elect senators, state legislators did. The change seems unquestionably positive, but Rep. Jeff Flake, the front-runner for the Republican nomination for a Senate seat in Arizona, said this week when asked about repeal,”I think it’s better as it reinforces the notion of federalism to have senators appointed by state legislatures.”

...Rep. Todd Akin, who recently won a Republican Senate primary in Missouri and will face off against Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill, said in May, “I have a very serious concern about erosion of states’ rights, and reversing this [17th Amendment] might pull that balance back.” He said he was “leaning” in favor of repeal. Rep. Pete Hoekstra, the Republican nominee in Michigan running against Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow, said recently when asked about repealing the amendment, “I think that would be a positive thing.”

...But repealing the 17th Amendment would be far worse than merely undemocratic. In fact, democracy wasn’t the main motivation behind the amendment at all; corruption was. If you think campaign finance is bad now, image how much easier it is to buy an election when you only have to reach a handful of state legislators instead of an entire state’s electorate.

...Interestingly, Maryland didn’t officially ratify the 17th Amendment until April of 2012.

Surprisingly Little Is Known About Mild Hypertension

Does that mean ignorance is bliss?:
Most of the 68 million patients in the United States with high blood pressure have mild, or Stage 1, hypertension, defined as a systolic (top number) value of 140-159 or a diastolic (bottom number) value of 90-99. The new review suggests that many patients with hypertension are overtreated—they are subjected to the possible harms of drug treatment without any benefit.

...Since many doctors and professional societies have been promoting treatment for mild hypertension for decades, the astute reader might wonder why this analysis was conducted only recently. The reasons are complex, but in a nutshell, researchers simply never addressed the question: Does treatment of mild hypertension help or harm patients? Instead, many authorities simply assumed that treatment helped, probably because treatment of more severe hypertension has been shown to be beneficial. In most clinical trials, patients with all degrees of hypertension were simply lumped together.

...But the fact that no benefit was detected in the Cochrane analysis means that any benefit is likely to be small—if present at all. And there’s always the possibility that the drugs cause a slight net harm. Some of the drugs are known to cause serious complications, including death.

I See A Landslide Coming - For Obama!

Mitt Romney is our generation's Tantalus:
In terms of demographics, Mitt Romney has one path to victory: overwhelming support from white voters. At the least, he’ll have to outperform every Republican since Ronald Reagan, and win 60 percent of their votes. And this is if minority turnout is at its 2008 levels. If it increases, he needs even more whites to make up the difference.

Seniors play a key part in this coalition. ... In all likelihood, any gains from the Ryan pick—in terms of mobilizing the conservative base—are offset (or even outweighed) by the fact that Romney has introduced a huge a new danger to his campaign. If Obama’s Medicare attacks are successful in peeling off seniors from Romney’s coalition, the path to 50+1 percent of the vote is much more difficult—if not impossible—for the former Massachusetts governor.

Indeed, as Sean Trende (who is far from easy toward Obama) points out at Real Clear Politics, this new vulnerability introduces the potential for something that was quite unlikely before—an Obama landslide.

Madcap Robots Afflict Credit Card Debt Collection Too

It figures! Just like with the mortgage lenders, it never occurred to the credit card companies they'd ever get challenged by anyone, and actually have to prove that people owe them money:
As they work through a glut of bad loans, companies like American Express, Citigroup and Discover Financial are going to court to recoup their money. But many of the lawsuits rely on erroneous documents, incomplete records and generic testimony from witnesses, according to judges who oversee the cases.

Lenders, the judges said, are churning out lawsuits without regard for accuracy, and improperly collecting debts from consumers. The concerns echo a recent abuse in the foreclosure system, a practice known as robo-signing in which banks produced similar documents for different homeowners and did not review them.

“I would say that roughly 90 percent of the credit card lawsuits are flawed and can’t prove the person owes the debt,” said Noach Dear, a civil court judge in Brooklyn, who said he presided over as many as 100 such cases a day.

Gawd, Michael Gerson Is The Chumpiest Chump Romney Ever Hornswoggled!

Romney aimed his choice of Paul Ryan as VP with that tiny, tiny, microscopic elite of 300 (or so) "journalists" - like Gerson! - specifically in mind:
In the fight Romney has picked, Ryan is an advantage. He is the best policy thinker and best communicator among the rising generation of conservative reformers. He combines a sober realism about a teetering, unsustainable entitlement system with a bubbly, Jack Kemp-like belief in the promise of unleashed enterprise. ... Unlike a recent Republican vice presidential nominee, you can't put him on the spot. He is informed, levelheaded and persuasive. And he is already Barack Obama's most persistent, effective economic critic.

The charge of radicalism will not survive exposure to Ryan himself. The notion that he is merely a "base pick" is lazy.

...In his single-minded pursuit of health care reform, Obama sacrificed many things, including his purity on entitlement cuts. More than $700 billion in Medicare savings was devoted not to shoring up Medicare but to funding Obamacare. Republican proposals for Medicare reforms, in contrast, exempt seniors 55 and older from changes. So only one candidate has pursued Medicare cuts that undermine services to current seniors – and it is not Romney. Sen. Marco Rubio, by the way, won election in Florida after endorsing Ryan's "Roadmap," with a variant of this message: Protect current seniors without bankrupting their grandchildren.

...Romney – who has so often stroked the voters in the past – has suddenly called their bluff. It is both the assumption of a risk and the emergence of a leader.

Sorry To Hear Capitol Nursery Will Close

A neighborhood institution, and all:
Capital Nursery's iconic but financially struggling Sacramento location – its flagship store on Freeport Boulevard, where three generations of Sacramento gardeners browsed for floribunda roses, calendula and all manner of vegetables – announced Thursday that it is closing in September.

Like America, Russia produces Weird Sects

Glad to hear we aren't alone:
"They pray. They are religious. But they are not junkies, drunks or bandits," Ziganshin said in his home in the village of Bailyangar, 200 kilometers (120 miles) away. "They never abuse the kids, never beat them."

Neighbors, however, said the children were raised to look upon others with disdain and would curse and throw stones from inside their compound.

"They consider themselves a higher race, while other people are garbage," said Ildar Khusainov, 42, who lives in a nearby wooden house.

Eerie Name Coincidence

Walter White is wanted in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, for violating parole related to methamphetamine production.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Videos From DMTC's 2012 Hit of Hits

I was hesitant to post videos from Hit of Hits, because I didn't have a program, but I discovered there never was a program for this event. That may explain why I've had trouble finding programs for previous Hit of Hits - they never existed! In any event, here are three videos (out of a total of ten, at my YouTube channel).

Ishi's Gaze

From the November 2010 issue, regarding my neighborhood's landmark mural:
Forster spent 160 hours over four weeks working on the mural. Particularly interesting to him was the frequent contact it provided with the public, given the highly visible location at the busy intersection of 24th Street and Broadway. DMV employees, gas station patrons, and customers from other neighboring businesses all stopped by to weigh in with their comments. On average about six people a day approached Forster about his mural project.

“There were literally dozens who would just walk by or even drive by and holler encouragement,” said Foster. “People from all backgrounds would take a moment out of their daily bubbles to take in Ishi’s gaze.”

Between Pillar And Post

Trying to eat less; trying to stay inspired.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Holding The Entire Ozone Layer Hostage

They quickly figured out that they could earn one carbon credit by eliminating one ton of carbon dioxide, but could earn more than 11,000 credits by simply destroying a ton of an obscure waste gas normally released in the manufacturing of a widely used coolant gas. That is because that byproduct has a huge global warming effect. The credits could be sold on international markets, earning tens of millions of dollars a year.

That incentive has driven plants in the developing world not only to increase production of the coolant gas but also to keep it high — a huge problem because the coolant itself contributes to global warming and depletes the ozone layer. That coolant gas is being phased out under a global treaty, but the effort has been a struggle.

...“I was a climate negotiator, and no one had this in mind,” said David Doniger of the Natural Resources Defense Council. “It turns out you get nearly 100 times more from credits than it costs to do it. It turned the economics of the business on its head.”

FRC Shooting

If you can't beat 'em, join 'em:
WASHINGTON — A man shot a security guard at the headquarters of the conservative Family Research Council on Wednesday morning in downtown Washington, D.C.

The guard was shot in the arm before the shooter was subdued, according to reports.

While Fox News claimed “sources” said the gunman “expressed disagreement with the conservative group’s policy positions,” two FBI officials cautioned reporters that early eyewitness accounts are often inaccurate and said it was too early to speak to the suspect’s motivation.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Ryan's Selection Was Meant To Sway Only About 300 People

The rest of us are just 'flyover' people, so to speak:
So, let me clarify what I believe is really going on in the choice of Paul Ryan as VP nominee. It is not about satisfying the conservative base, which was motivated anyway by Obama-hatred; it is not about refocusing on the issues, because R&R are both determined to avoid providing any of the crucial specifics about their plans. It is — as Jonathan Chait also seems to understand — about exploiting the gullibility and vanity of the news media, in much the same way that George W. Bush did in 2000.

...[M]any commentators want to tell a story about US politics that makes them feel and look good — a story in which both parties are equally at fault in our national stalemate, and in which said commentators stand above the fray. This story requires that there be good, honest, technically savvy conservative politicians, so that you can point to these politicians and say how much you admire them, even if you disagree with some of their ideas; after all, unless you lavish praise on some conservatives, you don’t come across as nobly even-handed.

The trouble, of course, is that it’s really really hard to find any actual conservative politicians who deserve that praise. Ryan, with his flaky numbers (and actually very hard-line stance on social issues), certainly doesn’t. But a large part of the commentariat decided early on that they were going to cast Ryan in the role of Serious Honest Conservative, and have been very unwilling to reconsider that casting call in the light of evidence.

So that’s the constituency Romney is targeting: not a large segment of the electorate, but a few hundred at most editors, reporters, programmers, and pundits. His hope is that Ryan’s unjustified reputation for honest wonkery will transfer to the ticket as a whole.

2012 Teen Dessert Cabaret - DMTC

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo [ Intro ]

Isn't this like the coolest movie intro ever? The song is a cover ("Immigrant Song" by Led Zepplin) by Trent Reznor & Articus Ross feat. Karen O.

At The Dentist

On Monday, I went to the dentist, to attend to a growing irritation the back of the lower left molar.

The initial determination was that a filling might be required, but depending on the results of an in-depth investigation, maybe a crown too.

Laying in the dentist's chair as the Novocaine set in, there was time to E-Mail Gabe at work. Gabe has another friend who is a patient of Dr. Woo too, and although Gabe has never visited Dr. Woo's office, he had heard astonishing tales of the remodel several years ago, and how nice - even opulent - the place now was. Indeed, this subject had become a conversational trope between Gabe and myself. His dentist's office is distressingly ordinary by comparison.

I E-Mailed Gabe:
Help! They are babbling something about a defect, bringing in the financial person on the team, and making me watch the July 24th proceedings of the Folsom City Council on CCTV! Help!
Gabe replied:
I think that they need someone to pay for the nice consultation area.

Now, go and get your manicure and pedicure.

Gabe had a point. It IS a nice consultation area! There were two women in there when I passed by, making a presentation to a third (probably a cosmetic dentistry pitch). Gabe was skeptical about my report of how appealing the area is. Looking at the picture, he thought the room looked like a "Cone of Silence".

I began getting caught up in the culture of the Folsom City Council. They have a sister city in Italy (Crespano del Grappa), and some Folsom residents had recently been over there. They have a web of Italian connections over there.

Did you know that Folsom sales tax revenue has declined from $20 million/year, to about $15 million/year over the last five years? I did not know this! I was actually surprised it wasn't even greater, given that Folsom was fully exposed to the real estate crash. So, the news could have been even worse! Park revenues are up, so the news isn't all bad. Hmmmm. Hmmmm. Total revenue is down, though, but not dramatically.

I remembered that I had the channel changer, so I didn't have to listen to the decline of Folsom sales tax revenue if I didn't want to. I changed the channel on the TV and watched Martha Graham Dance Company dance instead. As I explained to Gabe, I still had the duty to remain in the dental chair, and help pay for the nice consultation area. As Dr. Woo once explained, one reason they like me over there is that I'm so "compliant." A compliant patient makes a happy dentist! (Which reminds me of once, when I picked E. up at her dentist, how difficult she was being. They weren't quite finished with her, but she was finished with them. Even from out in the lobby, I heard E. moaning, "I'm dying! I'm dying!" If only!)

Anyway, they decided to go conservative this time, and settled for a filling. I'm still vulnerable for a crown at some time in the future, but a filling will do for now. So, it didn't hurt as much as feared, either physically or financially.

Everyone is nice at Dr. Woo's! And the office is spectacular too!

Frightened Chihuahua

Heading to the dentist this morning, and worrying that I was beginning to get late, I opened the front door to get the newspaper. To my surprise, there was a small female chihuahua on the bricks bordering the many steep steps leading up to my front porch from the street. She was frightened; she had her tail between her legs, and had evidently chosen my front porch because it was so peaceful and placid.

I called out gently, "ooh, puppy," and started approaching. She growled, then instantly leaped in the air, flying over the first set of steps like Superman, then landed *splat* on the concrete! She leaped again, flying over the second set of steps, landing again *splat* on the sidewalk; then a third time, over the third set of steps, landing again *splat* on the street! Then, instead of running directly across the street, she turned and ran a block west down Second Avenue, then across busy, three-lane 21st Street, irrespective of the traffic light there, or the cars, and vanished in the distant haze.

I pursued, but I was way too slow. Two workers from DMV, out on their coffee-break constitutional, had seen the chihuahua fly past them in the opposite direction. They commiserated with my bewilderment over this odd turn of events. How touchy the dog was; how strange! As might be expected, I was a few minutes late to the dentist.....

Perplexing Perseids

On Saturday night, I rendezvoused with Candy, her brother, and a friend, about 10:45 p.m., and we traveled out in tandem to Latrobe: specifically, outside their elementary school ( as Candy discovered via Google, a favored spot by local meteor watchers) in order to watch the 2012 Perseid meteor shower. Once we arrived, we were joined by another friend and his dog (a yippy-type dog, oddly-named Hippo) who had traveled all the way from San Jose(!) We lay down on sleeping bags on the gravel, faced northeast, and started watching for fireworks.

We ate potato chips and cookies, and drank hot chocolate (since she wasn't driving, Candy drank vino). It was party time! Hippo walked all over us as we lay on the near the road across from the elementary school. Candy's academic Cal-Tech-type friends were fun company. Very civilized.

Sky-wise, things got off to a slow start, and seemed to slow down with time. Sure, there some meteors - some good! - but they were few and far between. There were even some normal-type meteors heading in the opposite direction, from the southwest.

After awhile, I realized we were missing some meteors in the southwest sky, so I turned around and faced that direction. Didn't help THAT much!

Slowly, the crescent moon rose, with Venus, Jupiter, and the Pleiades. We could hear a cow mooing in the distance, and coyotes barking and howling in the even remoter distance. A child babbled from a camper vehicle not far from us in the dark.

About 2:30 a.m., we called it a night. No photos (the meteors were just too unreliable). We returned home, and reflected. (I can't believe the fellow drove all the way from San Jose!)

Mars Curiosity Panorama

Curiosity rover: Martian solar day 2 in New Mexico

Ernesto/Hector Lives In A World Of Wind Shear

Easterly wind shear is really kicking this storm hard: it's keeping only a minimal strength. Nevertheless, when it finally breaks up in a few days, I'm thinking the plume of moisture might come up into California. Time will tell.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Videos From DMTC's 2012 Teen Dessert Cabaret

Six videos total on my YouTube Channel. Here are three:

"Breaking Bad" - Season 5, Episode 5 "Dead Freight"

The opening scenes were filmed in the chaotic off-road motorcycle area not far from “Q” Studios. They seem to start on the north side of Tijeras Arroyo, heading SW, and jump, ending up – not sure – but possibly not far from I-25, below Los Picaros Rd.

On one of my Breaking Bad forays to ABQ, I noticed they left a gate open off of Los Picaros Rd., so I took my econo rent-a-car on a very sketchy dirt road in this very area (I think). I wonder if I took any photos?

In any event, it’s Albuquerque. Ironically, the landscape around Albuquerque is too tough to support tarantulas. (But you probably CAN find tarantulas near Lamy, near the railroad location – more rain; more supportive to large spiders.)

That basement location looks great. I wonder where it is?

Regarding the trestle, I think "OldeSaultie" is correct: that’s the spot! (35.498826, -105.916656)

I was wondering; is “Breaking Bad” going to get all mystical on us? When Lydia points to the place in McKinley County where the radio dead zone is, she points very close to Pueblo Pintado, an important outlier of the Chaco Canyon archaeological site. There are other important sites to the Navajo nearby too, like Red Mountain. And La Fajada Butte isn’t very far away either: probably the most notable archaeo-astronomical site in the American West! I visited there once, when it was still open to the public.

I was flipping out. Are we going to get all quasi-spiritual as we approach the end of the TV series? Are we going to mash up our tribal, Mexican, and Anglo criminal roots into some kind of sky-blue spiritual mush? Will Spider Woman lead us all out of the Fifth World at the end of the 16th episode? Is Lydia, Spider Woman? How can that be? Who is Lydia, anyway? Or, for that matter, who is anyone else in the TV series?

It would be so out-of-character for “Breaking Bad” to get mystical (or is it?), and it makes my head hurt. I better go back to figuring out locations....

Railroad trestle & crossing, Spur Ranch Rd. at NM Southern Railway crossing, near Lamy, NM, south of Santa Fe (Season 5, episode 5, "Dead Freight). In the radio dead zone. (35.498826ø, -105.916656ø)

Santa Fe Southern Railway is a private company that only runs a single, 18-mile-long rail line, from Lamy to Santa Fe.

Working with trains....