Friday, November 16, 2012

Eurythmics - Would I lie to you? Live '87 Sydney

Annie Lennox rocks!

Friday Cartoons

(h/t Eileen)

The 'Benghazi Scandal' Collapses Like A House Of Cards

Russia Is A Dangerous Place

And if I were Russian, this is where I'd live...

Colder-Than-Average Months Haven't Occurred Since 1985

What could it mean?:'s Philip Bump dug through NOAA's latest State of the Climate report and discovered this nugget, emphasis his:
The average temperature across land and ocean surfaces during October was 14.63°C (58.23°F). This is 0.63°C (1.13°F) above the 20th century average and ties with 2008 as the fifth warmest October on record. The record warmest October occurred in 2003 and the record coldest October occurred in 1912. This is the 332nd consecutive month with an above-average temperature. The last below-average month was February 1985. The last October with a below-average temperature was 1976.
As Bump translates, that means that anyone out there 27 (and two-thirds!) or younger has never lived through a month that saw global temperatures dip below average. For what it's worth, the warmest October on record came in 2003 and the coldest occurred way back in 1912.

Narwhal Speared The Orca

What a great, great article!:
They'd been working 14-hour days, six or seven days a week, trying to reelect the president, and now everything had been broken at just the wrong time.

And that was the point. "Game day" was October 21. The election was still 17 days away, and this was a live action role playing (LARPing!) exercise that the campaign's chief technology officer, Harper Reed, was inflicting on his team.

...Hatch was playing the role of dungeon master, calling out devilishly complex scenarios that were designed to test each and every piece of their system as they entered the exponential traffic-growth phase of the election.

...Orca was supposed to be the Republican answer to Obama's perceived tech advantage. In the days leading up to the election, the Romney campaign pushed its (not-so) secret weapon as the answer to the Democrats' vaunted ground game. ... The product got its name, a Romney spokesperson told NPR , because orcas are the only known predator of the one-tusked narwhal.

...From the descriptions of the Romney camp's software that were available then and now, Orca was not even in the same category as Narwhal. It was like touting the iPad as a Facebook killer, or comparing a GPS device to an engine. And besides, in the scheme of a campaign, a digitized strike list is cool, but it's not, like, a gamechanger. It's just a nice thing to have.

So, it was with more than a hint of schadenfreude that Reed's team hear that Orca crashed early on election day. Later reports posted by rank-and-file volunteers describe chaos descending on the polling locations as only a fraction of the tens of thousands of volunteers organized for the effort were able to use it properly to turn out the vote.

...The strange truth is that campaigns have long been low-technologist, if not low-technology, affairs. Think of them as a weird kind of niche startup and you can see why. You have very little time, maybe a year, really. You can't afford to pay very much. The job security, by design, is nonexistent. And even though you need to build a massive "customer" base and develop the infrastructure to get money and votes from them, no one gets to exit and make a bunch of money. So, campaign tech has been dominated by people who care about the politics of the thing, not the technology of the thing. The websites might have looked like solid consumer web applications, but they were not under the hood.

...Reed's team began to trickle into Chicago beginning in May of 2011. ... As the tech team struggled to translate what people wanted into usable software, trust in the tech team -- already shaky -- kept eroding. By Februrary of 2012, Kunesh started to get word that people on both the digital and field teams had agitated to pull the plug on Dashboard and replace the tech team with somebody, anybody, else.

...While the responsibility for their early struggles certainly falls to the tech team, there were mitigating factors. For one, no one had ever done what they were attempting to do. Narwhal had to connect to a bunch of different vendors' software, some of which turned out to be surprisingly arcane and difficult. Not only that, but there were differences in the way field offices in some states did things and how campaign HQ thought they did things. Tech wasted time building things that it turned out people didn't need or want.

...What Narwhal fixed was a problem that's long plagued campaigns. You have all this data coming in from all these places -- the voter file, various field offices, the analytics people, the website, mobile stuff. In 2008, and all previous races, the numbers changed once a day. It wasn't real-time. And the people looking to hit their numbers in various ways out in the field offices -- number of volunteers and dollars raised and voters persuaded -- were used to seeing that update happen like that.

...According to CMAG/Kantar, the Obama's campaign's cost per ad was lower ($594) than the Romney campaign ($666) or any other major buyer in the campaign cycle. That difference may not sound impressive, but the Obama campaign itself aired more than 550 thousand ads. And it wasn't just about cost, either. They could see that some households were only watching a couple hours of TV a day and might be willing to spend more to get in front of those harder-to-reach people.

...Meanwhile, the teams also built an opt-in Facebook outreach program that sent people messages saying, essentially, "Your friend, Dave in Ohio, hasn't voted yet. Go tell him to vote." Goff described the Facebook tool as "the most significant new addition to the voter contact arsenal that's come around in years, since the phone call."

...But of course, he and his whole team of nerds were changed by the experience. They learned what it was like to have -- and work with people who had -- a higher purpose than building cool stuff. "Teddy [Goff] would tear up talking about the President. I would be like, 'Yeah, that guy's cool,'" Reed said. "It was only towards the end, the middle of 2012, when we realized the gravity of what we were doing."

...And losing, they felt more and more deeply as the campaign went on, would mean horrible things for the country. They started to worry about the next Supreme Court Justices while they coded.

The Big Bag Of Gifts

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Hmmm.... A Suicide

The people who should do this probably won't take the hint:
Michael Cossey told police that his partner, 64-year-old Henry Hamilton, had promised that “if Barack gets re-elected, I’m not going to be around,” according to the Key West Citizen.

...Cossey said that Hamilton had been “very upset about the election results” and “very stressed about his business.”

Hamilton was the owner of Tropical Tan off Duval Street, which may have been hit with a 10 percent excise tax by President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act.

Near Riot At The Santa Monica Airport

Poor management of ticketing, perhaps:
Santa Monica police in riot gear shut down an MTV-sponsored concert Tuesday at a Santa Monica Airport hangar after hundreds more people showed up than the event's permit allowed, authorities said Wednesday.

The free concert, featuring British dub-step DJ and producer Flux Pavilion, was held Tuesday night in the airport's Hangar 8, which is often used for private events, concerts and music-video shoots.

The hangar has a capacity of 1,500 people, but Santa Monica police estimate that between 2,500 and 3,000 people showed up with printed tickets, and officers working the event called for backup.

At 8:30 p.m., an hour after the event began, additional police officers from the Los Angeles, Culver City and Beverly Hills police departments arrived and determined the crowd was too large to control.

...Once the music was cut off, police say angry attendees began to climb fences and attempt to enter other parts of the airport.

Solar Eclipse Day On The Queensland Coast

Improvement On The Christchurch, NZ, Earthquake Front

It's slow, but the Earth seems to be coming to terms with the new arrangement.

Kissing The Police In Russia

Via WTF Russia, Seriously? It's usually a bad idea to surprise the police.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

On The Popularity Of Mariachi Music In Japan

I was dimly aware that, in recent years, a teenage Japanese girl became so enamored of Mariachi music that she moved to Mexico and became a popular Mariachi singer there. I haven't tracked down her history yet, but this video shows that it's really not so surprising. Mariachi music is popular in Japan, and in this video it's a bit surreal seeing Mariachi singers getting the full rock star treatment by excited Japanese fans.

Freshman Orientation

Better take notes:
Yes, Rep. Dan Lungren, who is losing, is leading orientation for the new members of the House of Representatives in his capacity as House administration chairman. They guy who is beating him, Dr. Ami Bera, is attending that orientation, which is scheduled through the month of November. Making it all the more delicious, Bera's lead is getting bigger.

As of the previous count from Friday, Bera was ahead by 1,779 votes. As of today's new count that lead has increased to 3,824 votes.

Kelsey B's "Be With You" Remixes

Out today!:
Just chillin with my little @ihatemattfox creature ♥ who downloaded #BeWithYou today? Support yr mamasita on iTunes I need to eat lol ♥

Albuquerque Cashes In On "Breaking Bad"

West-Harrison said sales of his product have gone through the roof, and fast.

“It’s just amazing,” he told The Times. “We expected to sell well in Albuquerque, where the show is based, but we’ve filled orders to the U.K. and to 30 of the 50 states.”

The business owner, who provides spa services and sells products to salons worldwide, said he and his partner moved into a new 9,000-square-foot warehouse and needed a way to pay for the upgrade.

“Well, I knew I couldn’t make meth -- I’m not a chemist. And there’s that jail time thing,” he told The Times.

...The show will end its run soon, but West-Harrison expects it to run on indefinitely in syndication. And so he expects his product will continue to sell as well.

“The show is addictive,” he said. “I think our product will be around for some time to come.”

Too Soon For An Informed Opinion

(from Gawker) Too soon, except that I like the fact that, as if by tacit understanding, everyone cut loudmouth Rep. Peter King (R. - NY) completely out of the loop for privileged information.

November Has Been The Sweetest Month!

Via Daily Kos, of course!

"No One Actually Cares About The Deficit!"

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Deconstructing the "Fiscal Cliff".

It's Hard Work, But Someone Needs To Do It

Success in the 21st Century:

Human Barbie, Valeria Lukyanova, claims she's not worried about looking "unreal" to those who say she had plastic surgery to look the way she does.

..."Many people say bad things about people who want to perfect themselves," the human Barbie said. "Many people say bad things about people who want to perfect themselves. It's hard work, but they dismiss it as something done by surgeons or computer artists. [...] But I don't take them seriously. I'm even flattered! It's what success is like. I'm happy I seem unreal to them, it means I'm doing a good job."

Recent Stuff I Like On Facebook

Caitland shared this.

Tracia shared a friend's post, and writes: "a friend sent me this and I couldn't stop laughing." Caption reads:
A neighbor complained about a dog being left home alone. The guy set up a nanny cam. This is what the dog was doing.

Kennard shared this.

Andrea suggested this.

How "Get Out The Vote" Works In Arizona

Don't want to hear any whining about it either (h/t Kennard):
PHOENIX (Reuters) - An Arizona woman, in despair at the re-election of Democratic President Barack Obama, ran down her husband with the family car in suburban Phoenix on Saturday because he failed to vote in the election, police said on Monday.

Holly Solomon, 28, was arrested after running over husband Daniel Solomon following a wild chase that left him pinned underneath the vehicle.

Daniel Solomon, 36, was in critical condition at a local hospital, but is expected to survive, Gilbert police spokesman Sergeant Jesse Sanger said.

Police said Daniel Solomon told them his wife became angry over his "lack of voter participation" in last Tuesday's presidential election and believed her family would face hardship as a result of Obama winning another term.

Witnesses reported the argument broke out on Saturday morning in a parking lot and escalated. Mrs Solomon then chased her husband around the lot with the car, yelling at him as he tried to hide behind a light pole, police said. He was struck after attempting to flee to a nearby street.

Monday, November 12, 2012

The California Model

It just gets better:
California’s transformation goes back to 1994, when Governor Pete Wilson, a Republican running behind in his re-election campaign, began to promote a ballot measure, Proposition 187, which would have denied all public services—including even the right to attend public schools—to undocumented immigrants and their undocumented children.

...One week before the 1994 election, the spontaneous anti-187 demonstrations of Latino youngsters came together in a massive planned march in downtown Los Angeles, which a number of not-quite-so-young Latino labor leaders coordinated. ... By 1998, they had flipped the long-Republican congressional and legislative districts of suburban Los Angeles into the Democratic column. The efforts of both the AFL-CIO and SEIU have continued to this day, turning a once-purple state steadily bluer.

Throughout this period, the response of the Republican Party to this great transformation was even more remarkable: ignore the very fact of its existence, save to continue the nativist, anti-immigrant stance pioneered by Wilson. The state had its own talk-show versions of Rush Limbaugh—most notably, Los Angeles’s Ken and Bob Show—which regularly reviled immigrants and encouraged listeners to make sure their Republican legislators favored deporting immigrants. ... For years, Republican primary voters ensured that their statewide candidates adhered to proto-Tea Party politics, ensuring that all of them lost. (The election of the relatively moderate Arnold Schwarzenegger to the governor’s office was only possible because he ran in the recall election of Gray Davis, a process in which there was no partisan primary.)

...The GOP’s estrangement of the new electorate wasn’t just confined to its position on immigrants. As the number of Latino and Asian voters continued to rise, Republicans in the legislature refused to approve any new taxes to help the state’s overburdened schools, even as polling showed that Latinos and Asians supported increasing taxes to fund schools at rates as high if not higher than African Americans. As the state’s electorate also grew younger—the share of voters age 18 through 29 went from 20 percent to 27 percent between 2008 and 2012—the GOP refused to consider tax increases on the wealthy that could have forestalled tuition increases at the University of California and the state and community colleges. Republicans also remained staunchly opposed to gay marriage even as polls showed Californians, particularly younger Californians, moving to support it.

...During the past month, Brown campaigned across the state’s dozens of public colleges and universities to turn out the vote supporting his tax-hike measure. His get-out-the-vote efforts were more than matched by the state’s unions. This week marked the third time since 1998 that they were confronted with a ballot measure that would make it more difficult for them to spend their resources on election campaigns. ... But this year, the right’s plan—if this was its plan—backfired. The unions’ voter-mobilization campaign was surely partly responsible for the Democrats’ successes in congressional and legislative races, much as the unions’ successful 1958 campaign to defeat a right-to-work initiative helped sweep Democrat Pat Brown into the governor’s office and gave the Democrats control of the legislature for the first time in decades.

The unions were particularly effective in mobilizing Latino voters, in part through SEIU’s Mi Familia Vota program, chaired by Medina, which employed hundreds of fulltime organizers that got Latinos to the polls. ... Indeed, this week’s election reveals that the labor-Latino alliance, which dominates politics in Greater Los Angeles, now is extending its reach to San Bernardino, Riverside, Orange, Ventura, and San Diego counties as well. That is, deep into historically Republican terrain.

The success of the labor/Latino/Democratic operation and the abysmal failure of the Republicans to gain any significant support among minority and younger Californians is clear from the exit polling. Obama carried the 18-through-29 vote by a margin of 71 percent to 29 percent; he carried the Latino vote by 72 percent to 27 percent; he carried the Asian vote by an astonishing gap of 79 percent to 21 percent. Indeed, Obama won 73 percent of the Asian vote nationally—two points higher than his support among Latinos. With the Asian share of the national electorate at 3 percent, that’s easy for the national press to miss, but in California, where it’s now at 11 percent, that’s a decisive margin in any election. It also demonstrates that the Republicans’ problem runs deeper than mere opposition to immigration, since the number of undocumented Asian immigrants is small. It suggests that for Asians, no less than for Latinos and blacks, the Republicans are viewed as a white man’s party. It also suggests that Republican opposition to education spending, increasing Pell grants and the like, may not be the best way to win a growing voting bloc that places such a high premium on education.

...In theory, Republicans around the nation, brooding over their defeats, could learn some things from their California brethren’s descent into oblivion. Whether the lesson they take to heart is how to avoid the Golden State’s GOP’s fate or how to replicate it remains to be seen.

Obama Games Proposal

A serviceable idea?:
I propose you give the people the Obama Games: a Hunger Games themed event that would satisfy our need for nationwide entertainment while at the same time righting some pretty serious wrongs. We need this so bad, Mr. President. There’s no more election to watch. “Breaking Bad,” “Game of Thrones” and “Mad Men” are on break. C’mon, we’re dying out here. I know what you’re thinking: You are against state-sponsored killing except when it’s unmanned from above. I get it. That’s why I’m proposing that the Obama Games participants deserve death for the most part like the people on your list.
I like the idea, except that I like the idea of the participants suffering more. There is no pain like the shock of losing power. It's even better than chasing these folks down the freeway and running them over. So, regrettably, I'm out.

Borrowed Time

As the attractive new Republican Senator from Texas, Ted Cruz has a bright, bright future, except for one thing:
“If Republicans do not do better in the Hispanic community,” he said, “in a few short years Republicans will no longer be the majority party in our state.”

...“In not too many years, Texas could switch from being all Republican to all Democrat,” he said. “If that happens, no Republican will ever again win the White House. New York and California are for the foreseeable future unalterably Democrat. If Texas turns bright blue, the Electoral College math is simple. We won’t be talking about Ohio, we won’t be talking about Florida or Virginia, because it won’t matter. If Texas is bright blue, you can’t get to two-seventy electoral votes. The Republican Party would cease to exist. We would become like the Whig Party. Our kids and grandkids would study how this used to be a national political party. ‘They had Conventions, they nominated Presidential candidates. They don’t exist anymore.’ ”

...Immigration from Mexico only partly accounts for the change. More than a million Americans have moved to Texas in the past decade, many from traditionally Democratic states. ... But Munisteri is more preoccupied by the racial and ethnic changes. ... He pointed to the spot where the two lines crossed, as if it augured a potential apocalypse. “This shows when Hispanics will become the largest group in the state,” he said. “That’s somewhere in 2014. We’re almost at 2013!”

...In his effort to tug the Texas G.O.P. into the future, Munisteri hired David Zapata, a young evangelical Christian from a border town, as his Hispanic-outreach director. And he has embarked on a micro-targeting project that uses consumer data to find Hispanics who don’t vote for Republicans but exhibit buying patterns that suggest they might be conservative, such as subscribing to Guns & Ammo or giving money to pro-life causes.

...Even though many Republicans agree that the Party must become more hospitable to Hispanics, there is little consensus on how best to do so and still qualify as conservative. Ted Cruz argues that Hispanics can be won over by appeals to traditional values of hard work. “I’ve never in my life seen a Hispanic panhandler,” he said, as we rode out of San Antonio. “In the Hispanic community, it would be considered shameful to be out on the street begging.”

...Like Cruz, Canseco, both in 2010 and in 2012, ran as an opponent of the kind of immigration reforms championed by George W. Bush. ...“I’m very much against open borders, because we are a sovereign nation, and I’m against amnesty,” he said. Instead of running on immigration reform, Canseco emphasized social issues.

...When I asked whether Cruz’s Latin surname was enough for him to win over Hispanics, one of Martinez de Vara’s friends, Gina CastaƱeda, a political activist who manages local campaigns, interrupted us. She said, “In the Hispanic or Mexican community, there’s some—” She hesitated. “How can I say it nicely? They don’t like Cubans. Or Puerto Ricans.” Martinez de Vara agreed. “Even within Mexico, they look down upon Caribbean Hispanics,” he said.

...Martinez de Vara argued that jobs, education, and crime ultimately are more important issues than immigration to Hispanics in Texas. Still, he insisted that Republicans have to move back to the pro-reform positions of the Bush years. “There’s a small faction of the Republican Party that opposes this at every level,” he said. “What are they proposing? A border wall? That’s massive confiscation of private property. We oppose that in every other context. It’s a big-government, big-spending project. We oppose that in every other context. Arming the government with greater police powers? We oppose that in every other context. This is big-government liberalism, and for conservatives it just makes no sense.”
Still, none of this may matter in the long run. Today, Talking Points Memo features this handy summary of the Latino vote. I'm impressed by the Dominican vote: 96% for Obama! That's a pretty-strong statement!

The only bright point for the GOP is among Hispanic evangelicals: only 54% for Obama. That group, and the Cubans, are the only groups the GOP can reliably draw new talent from, and it's probably not enough.

The View From Olympus

Ironies too numerous to enumerate:
The woman who married former House Speaker Newt Gingrich after cheating with him while he was married to his second wife says that former CIA Director David Petraeus’ extramarital affair is “sad” and “painful” for his family.

“I think it’s personally very sad for he and his family,” Callista Gingrich told ABC’s Barbara Walters on Monday. “I think he did the right thing by resigning. But this is painful and they’ll have to work together through this as a family. And that will take some time.”

Sunday, November 11, 2012

"Legally Blonde" - Opening Cast - River City Theater Company (RCTC)

Filming The "Sprinkler Dance"

After a brief rehearsal on Friday evening, I joined others in the Step One family and assembled in Rocklin, CA, to film the "Sprinkler Dance" for a water conservation Public Service Announcement (PSA) on behalf of Sacramento Region Water Resources.  The video will air on Sacramento area TV from March through August 2013.

Call time was 7:00 a.m., but a calamity caused many to be late.  My understanding is a minivan carrying two mothers and two dancers missed a red light a few blocks away, and the vehicle not only got clobbered by another automobile, but rolled over as well.  Arriving film crew and dancers called 911, helped people unbuckle their seat belts and get out of the vehicles, helped separate the panicked mothers from their beginning-to-panic kids, and carried the uninjured dancers on to the video shoot.  It was one of the most impressive the-show-must-go-on moments that I've heard of!  I just hope everyone is OK and that the damage can be repaired.

Gayaldo Park, Rocklin.

This interesting-looking building on Argonaut Ave. looms over Rocklin.

Early morning at the video shoot.

A bit chilly, but the video requires a sunny look.

Choreographer Krystle Morales looks stylish in her Eskimo gear.

Krystle runs the cheerleaders through their paces.

Krystle warms up as the sun comes out.

Working on the final pose.

Do the dance again! And again!

The film crew improves on the natural lighting.

John Wheeler adjusts a sprinkler, watched by a dozen very attentive film artists.

Bearing the trademark 'Blue Thumb' gloves, John and Peggy Wheeler wave to their 'neighbors' across the street.

Looking across the street at the neighbors.

Watched by an actual resident of the cul-de-sac, John crosses the street and waves to his neighbors.

'Neighbors' Dianna and Margaret wave back.

Just before the dance starts, X. faces the camera.

Rob and Nancy come to join the dance (under Krystle's supervision).

I couldn't help but speculate about the artistic influences on the people making the video. Even making a simple PSA is like making a miniature movie, or a music video.

Filming a gathering of youth, including cheerleaders, in a suburban California cul-de-sac, was employed last year very successfully in Calvin Harris' "Feel So Close" video. (I've blogged several times about my film location hunt for this video, the results of which I summarized in this Wikipedia article.)  Even though this video has nothing to do with suburban water conservation, I like to think that the PSA was a kind of an echo:  a shout-out or testimonial to that very-well-done video: